Lifted

I have been feeling heavy for months, feeling like big decisions are looming over us and not knowing what to do.

Since January, we have been uncertain of where my son would go to school next year, whether or not my husband would do a fellowship (which decides when we will move) and maybe kinda sorta starting to TALK about having another kid. (How’s that for noncommittal?) As my son told me, “that’s only three things.”

I am a planner, and though my life has been nothing if not a constant exercise in change, I hate change. Hate it. I’m good at it, I do it a lot, but I can not stand it.

I like plans, and ideas of what will happen next and clear decisions.

And then today, we got some news.

My husband did not get his fellowship.

He told me with a huge grin on his face.

I think he really only wanted a fellowship because he felt like it is something he should do, not because it was something he was passionate about. And he is so ready to be done with residency and get a “real job.” Because our families still live in Georgia, our “real job” search will be in GA. We only have one year left in Richmond.

I have had mixed emotions all day. I have fallen in love with Richmond, and have established some amazing friends here. Richmond, VA is where we bought our first home, our son took his first steps, and where I finally found myself again after feeling lost from becoming a Mommy.

Secretly, I am also kind of relieved. I have to admit that living this far away from family is hard, and driving down to GA three times a year is extremely draining. At some point, we would need to just stop seeing family so much or just move closer to them because GA trips stress me out. A lot.

It also makes my preschool decision so much easier. As soon as I got the news I paid the deposit and turned in the contract for my son to stay at his current private school for pre-K next year. There is no point in changing schools for just one year right before moving and changing EVERYTHING. I am actually so thankful to be at peace about that. The preschool decision has been weighing heavily on me.

There is still a lot we don’t know. The job searching process will be a whole new adventure and we don’t know exactly WHERE in GA we would like to be. (Except definitely not the area we grew up in. That’s a story for a different day.)

But we do know that we will be moving away from Richmond, VA in the summer of 2014 and we know where our little guy will go to preschool next year. I feel like a huge weight has lifted.

As for the maybe kinda sorta baby thing? I can only handle so much in one day.

 

 

The CSA Experiment

Our First CSA

Our First CSA

In this family, we are good at a lot of things.

Meal planning, grocery shopping, eating healthy, or exercising are not really among them.

Most of my exercise attempts result in disaster or are incomplete, and we pretty much eat whatever we feel like eating.

WHICH IS TERRIBLE!

Besides being neglectful of our health, it’s also very neglectful of our money.

A local coffee shop (walking distance from our house) recently got a makeover and moved into a larger space, and also incorporated a chocolate shop (yum) and a small Farmer’s Market (cool) in it’s space. As we were browsing one day we discovered that we could sign up for a CSA program called Farm to Family and our pick up location would be right there, at that cute little coffee shop right by our house. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, and you pay up front and then receive weekly produce from local farmers.

After a lot of discussion and evaluating our bank account, we decided it’s something we would really like to try.

There were different levels of involvement, but we decided that we’d really like to make a change. We signed up for the “complete package” weekly option which includes dairy, meat, produce, and bread. Each week, we will go to our local coffee shop, pick up our goodies, and return home with organic products all grown by local farmers. Though I was initially concerned about the price, once we looked at our bank account to see how much we actually spend on food, we will wind up saving money this way IF we eliminate the grocery store and cut back on going out to eat.

And that is absolutely our plan.

We are eliminating the grocery store from our lives for the duration of our CSA experiment, which will run for 24 weeks (about 6 months).

I can pick up toilet paper, paper towels and coffee at Target. My only other concern was toddler snacks, and though so far our little guy is doing well with strawberries and cheese, I don’t mind supplementing some Goldfish from Target at some point, too.

My husband and I both hope this will make a positive difference in our lives. We will be saving money and making our lives easier by eliminating grocery lists and shopping from our chores. Whatever is available each week at our CSA pick up is what we will have, and though I’m a bit worried about meal planning within those terms, my husband thinks it will be an exciting challenge. We will also be supporting our local farmers and eating food that is more fresh and higher in nutrients than food that has been shipped from far away and shelved at a grocery store. I’m also hoping it will help our eating habits. Having locally grown vegetables for dinner has to be better for you than going through the drive-through or having taco night. Again. And if it helps make that number on the scale go down a bit? That would be a very nice bonus.

We just picked up our first share on Thursday. This week, we got trout, cornish hen, 3 cheeses, yogurt, granola, a loaf of bread, strawberries, apples, spinach, potatoes, carrots, radishes, leeks, tomatoes, mint and mushrooms. I’m impressed with the variety and love the simplicity of going to a place and having your locally grown groceries already packaged and ready to go.

Another great thing about this plan is that we are already committed, for the full 6 months, to this program, so we really will have time to feel out how to adjust to make this work for us.

Have you ever tried a CSA?

 

 

Growing Up and Getting Dressed

noah shoes

Today, I’m honored to be over at Moonfrye talking about a simple task, but an oh so important one; getting dressed.

It’s not as easy as you might think.

Join me as I talk about the push and pull of socks and shirts and the in between world of baby and big kid.

I can not wait to see you there!

 

Mini Makeover: Gallery Wall

Since I was recently in re-decorating and cleaning mood, I wanted to show off my next project: a gallery wall. I have been admiring all of the beautiful gallery walls on Pinterest and finally decided to take the leap. After re-doing my master bedroom, I moved my decorating energy downstairs into the living room.

Here’s the living room wall before, complete with one toddler pirate.

living room wall before

And here is the dining room wall before, with no decoration. This will be a part of the makeover, too.

dining room wall before

 

My first step was to move the iron decorations from the living room to the bare dining room wall. An easy move that brought life into the dining room and opened up the living room for the gallery makeover. Here’s the finished dining room:

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The next step was to figure out the layout of the gallery wall. This is what took the longest; there are just so many choices! I did a lot of searching on Google and Pinterest, but in the end the best way to figure it out was just to clear the dining room table and try a lot of different lay outs until I found the one I wanted.

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After going through a lot of trial and error, the final layout is one my mom suggested after I texted her pictures of choices. Thanks, Mom!

The next step was to try this handy trick. You lay out all of your pictures and then turn them over. Tape strips of wax paper together and lay them over your frames. Using a Sharpie, make marks for where the nail holes will go. Then tape the wax paper to wall. Beautiful right? 

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Simply put a nail where each mark is, pull off the wax paper, and hang the frames! You’ve made a gallery wall!

 

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I really love the way it came together. Now I just have to figure out what pictures to display!

(The frames came in a gallery wall set I found on sale at Lowe’s and the “H” came from Restoration Hardware during after Christmas clearance.)

Have you ever done a gallery wall?

Mini Makeover: Master Bedroom

Occasionally, I go through organizing and re-decorating spurts. This may have something to do with being a stay at home mom and being in this house ALL THE TIME, so once in a while I need a little new scenery, or it may just be that I’m a crazy neat freak. It’s probably a bit of both.

I just went through one of those times. We don’t have a lot of disposable income for redecorating, but it’s amazing what a difference you can make just by cleaning, organizing and adding a few accessories.

The one room in our house that I feel has never been “done” is our Master Bedroom. No one ever sees that room, and we only use it to sleep in, so we kind of through a bed in there and that was that. Now that our son is transitioning into sleeping in his own bed, I decided it was time to reclaim the room and make it a peaceful and relaxing retreat.

Before

Before

 

The before picture, is, unfortunately, the normal state of our master bedroom. We live in a cape cod style home, so the upper level is just 2 bedrooms and a small bath. We have a master closet, but there is no room for a dresser. Sometimes, just for convenience, clothes are thrown on the bed. We also just had two flat pillows, mismatched pictures on the nightstands, and even though it’s hard to tell in this picture, broken blinds hiding behind the curtains.

After

After

It’s amazing what a little cleaning can do.  My first step was to put away all of the clothes and make the bed with clean sheets. That alone makes a huge difference in the feel and look of a room. Then I made a little trip to Target (my favorite store)! I purchased two new throw pillows, two matching mirrors, and a new sheer curtain panel for the window.

When I got home, I replaced the broken blinds with the new window sheer. This let light into the room and took away the unkempt look of broken blinds.

I cleaned up the night stands, removing anything unnecessary and thoroughly dusting. Then I centered the lamps and added matching mirrors above each night stand. The mirrors above the lamps help to reflect the light, giving the room a brighter feel.

In addition to the two king size pillows we had on the bed, I added two standard sized pillows and the two new throw pillows.

new throw pillows

The bigger throw pillow is linen to match the bench, and the smaller pillow has sparkly sequins for a little added texture and shine, but all in the same neutral color palette.

bench and throwMy favorite additions to the room were gifts. My mom gave me this beautiful linen covered and studded bench as a Christmas gift, and my mother in law found this super soft throw at Kohl’s.

bedroom makeoverThe final touch to the room was my purchase of two matching frames to go on the night stands. I am a huge fan of symmetry, and I love how something as simple as updating the night stands makes the room look more cohesive.

pretty master bedroom

 

That’s it! I love how relaxing and more put together this room feels now. The only other things I might add would be a headboard and a rug, though those big purchase items are outside of the realm of a mini-makeover (and our budget)! I’m really happy with this room and love snuggling up in bed to read before falling asleep at night.

Does your master bedroom feel like a retreat?

 

 

What I Know About Writing

What I know about writing is that it’s a complex simplicity of time and effort.

Sometimes the words flow easily and sometimes they are impossible to find.

What I know about writing is that it is soothing and frustrating all at the same time. It is healing and thought-provoking and time-consuming.

What I know about writing is it is isolating and connecting. It is a solitary activity but once shared it becomes part of someone else’s awareness; someone else’s story.

What I know about writing is that it is intangible, and yet printed words hold a magical power. You can not see words, or hear them, or touch them, but when placed together in an article or a book or a story they come to life.

What I know about writing is it is too heavy and too light and sometimes just right. My silly inconsequential posts seem so insignificant when I go read an article written so beautifully that it moves my thoughts; changes my perspective.

What I know about writing is it is powerful, necessary, and, to me, the very essence of all-encompassing simple complexity.

My Husband is Inspirational?

A conversation with my husband yesterday:

Hubs: “Hey babe, did you make a New Year’s Resolution this year?”

Me: “Do you read my blog at all?”

Hubs: “What? Yes.”

Me: “I just posted about that.”

Hubs: “Oh. What did you say?”

Me: “Well there’s this thing going around in the blogging community where you choose a word instead of concrete resolutions, and you kind of use that as a back drop for your year. So I picked the words “let go” and I’m just going to try to let go of some of the negativity in my life.”

Hubs: “Hmm. That’s really cool baby. Well, you would be really proud of me. So far, I am 6 for 6 of meeting my resolution goal.”

Me: “Yeah? What resolution did you make?”

Hubs: “My New Year’s Resolution was… to get out of bed every morning.”

Me: …

Me: “You inspire me daily.”

And that’s my life. I hope you are all having a great start back into the swing of things this week! The hubs is back at work, toddler back at school, and I’m back to writing. As much as I enjoyed a whirlwind Christmas break complete with the toddler and I being sick, a week long trip to GA, and getting to meet my 5 day old niece (squee!), I am glad to be back into the normal routine of things this week.

Christmas Moments

Time is rushing by, as it tends to do.

There are still presents to be gotten and wrapped, cookies to bake and stockings to fill.

I feel so very far behind this year, though I am normally such an organized person.

But this year, instead of letting the stress of my a-bit-behind schedule throw me, I’m taking in moments.

Moments of meals eaten in a Christmas filled dining room.

Moments of salt dough ornament making.

And couch cuddles by the tree.

Moments of neighbor gifts delivered by a sweet toddler.

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Moments of excitement as the mail comes each day filled with beautiful Christmas cards of those we love.

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Moments of stockings hung by the stairs and Santa pictures with little ones.

I know we will all be stepping away from our computers soon to enjoy our last minute shopping and never-long enough family time.

But I want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

From our family to yours,

 

(This is a video of my son’s Christmas performance at school. I pixelated it to protect the privacy of the children. But how can you resist those sweet little voices? Enjoy!)

Merry Christmas video

 

I Didn’t Tell Him

I spent Friday morning getting my three-year old son ready to go take pictures with Santa.

We drank hot chocolate and changed chocolate stained shirts and only argued a little bit about the daily task of putting on shoes.

We headed to a local children’s museum where we waited in line for our turn. My son stepped up to see Santa and told him his Christmas wishes and smiled for a picture.

We returned home and continued our day, which that day included getting ready for Christmas and a trip out-of-town for the weekend.

A few states away in Connecticut, I imagine that families went through the same daily routine of getting ready in the morning, and maybe even went through a struggle to put on shoes.

Then the parents dropped their children off at school and went on with their days, which may have involved crossing off a to do list for Christmas or getting ready for a busy weekend.

And then their lives were changed forever when the unspeakable tragedy of an elementary school shooting took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT.

Our world is full of tragedy. Of news stories that break our hearts and make us want to lock our doors tighter. Of devastation.

But this wasn’t a story about “bad guys” shooting each other or a natural disaster that no one could control.

This is a story of people living every day lives, and children being in an environment where they should be safe, and a gunman shooting innocent children.

I have found myself following the news closely, searching for information. What I realized was that I was searching for understanding, searching for a way to turn back time and make it go away. Searching for the impossible.

I found myself in tears as I watched the story unfold and I also found myself trying to hide it from my son.

Not because I don’t want him to see me cry and not because I don’t want to share my emotions with him. But because I still wanted to protect him from this; from everything.

I have experienced the devastation of losing someone I love when I lost my father when I was 18. I have lived the moment when time stands still and your world is changed forever.

I have attended the funeral of a little girl I baby sat for when she passed away in an unexplained accident when she was only 9.

I have taught, loved, and cared for classes of students when I taught Kindergarten.

And I have experienced the indescribable, all-consuming love of being a parent with the blessing of my son. I am the mother of a little boy named Noah, the same name of one of the children killed. His funeral will be held today.

This tragedy isn’t about me. It happened to people I don’t know, in a state I’ve never visited.  But oh how my heart aches for these families that have senselessly lost loved ones.

My husband says to turn off the media. Knowing what happened does not changed what happened.

My son lives in an innocent world not yet tainted by such tragedy.

And so I sneak news articles on my phone, and I pray silently in the darkness of the night. I let my tears fall into the stillness and the fabric of my pillow. And I pray fiercely, stealing moments at stop lights and in the quiet moments before drifting to sleep.

I didn’t tell my son and I have been hiding my tears, though it seems to be consuming my almost every thought.

I didn’t tell him, because I want to protect his three-ness.

I want him to still be able to live in a world where monsters are just imaginary things hiding under the bed and not real things taking the lives of children in an elementary school.

I want him to live in a world where school is a safe place, not a place to be scared of.

I want him to live in a world of pretend and cuddles and kisses.

I could not look in my son’s eyes without tearing up through the weekend, because this tragedy awakens the darkest of scenarios in our minds, the unimaginable tragedy of losing a child.

I have read many articles about how to talk to your children about this tragedy and about how we should hug our children tighter.

The truth for me is, I couldn’t hug my child any tighter than I normally do. I couldn’t love him any more than I do every day, with the all-consuming ferocity type of love I have only experienced since becoming a mother.

And I am choosing not to talk to my son about what happened. I am choosing to let him continue to live in the world of a three-year old, where he is still discovering his world and our greatest struggle is putting on shoes.

My prayers are with the families in CT, as their worlds and lives will be forever changed.

My heart will be overflowing with love for my son, as it does everyday. And for now, I will continue to let him live in his three-year old world not yet tainted with broken hearts and dreams.

I didn’t tell him. Because there will be life to live that will jade him and take away the pieces of his innocence and this world will disappoint him and scare him.

I didn’t tell him, but I am telling myself, and I am mourning with the families in CT as they begin the life long journey of grief.

I am choosing not to tell him. But I am not choosing to ignore this, or stop my prayers, or allow myself to remember those moments of pain or touch on those parts of my life that can faintly relate to the devastation the families in CT are experiencing.  Because in these moments, I think it is important for Newtown, CT to know that they are not alone.

 

 

 

 

The Exhausting Part

You know how my blog is called Elated Exhaustion?

I am in the exhaustion part.

My in laws got here Saturday the 18th. Some of them left the Friday after Thanksgiving, but my mother in law is still here.

We are also in the most difficult week for a show production. It’s tech week, the time when you so run-throughs of the show in full costume and make up, with your mic, working the transitions and props and costume and set changes. It’s the time for the orchestra to practice and for the crew to get the lighting and mic cues. It’s a time when you are at rehearsal for 10 to 12 hours at a time, polishing and tweeking and pulling everything together.

It is magical and exciting and nerve wracking and exhausting all at the same time.

I am so honored to be a part of it, but oh my goodness am I tired.

Between the demands of day long rehearsals, hosting my mother in law, meeting the demands of a three year old and still doing duties as a Parent Council Chair at my son’s school, and trying (but failing) to keep up with NaBloPoMo, I think I have reached my limit. And of course, the hubs is on nights.

So today, after I dropped my son off at school, instead of accomplishing anything on my to do list, and oh my goodness there is so, so much, I chose sleep.

Because sometimes life is elating. But right now, I think it’s just plain exhausting.

(Psst – Here is a sneak peek of my character in the show. More pics to come!)

Me, all dressed up for the Broadway style Christmas Production I am in. My character is named Lillian, and I am a 1920s flapper.