The house that was meant to be

^^ Yes, our house really is that green. I have gotten used to it and now find it quite useful. I just tell people coming over "It's the green house. You can't miss it!" Easiest directions ever. 

We weren't even looking for a house. In fact, we were starting to plan a major renovation on our house…and had put new flooring in the bathroom literally a week before I found this place. Sure we had looked at a couple of houses over the past few years. But none of them were right and we weren't in a search mode. All I knew is that our must have list included a guest house of some sort (for coffee stuff) and a master bedroom with bathroom…can you believe that in our 13+ years of marriage this is the first house we have lived in with a master bedroom?! And we have lived in a lot of houses. 

Pretty much everything that has come on the market in the past couple years in our area with a guest house has been crazy expensive. Like completely out of our reach. Hence why we were planning a major renovation. Then, somehow, this bright green house on the market caught my eye. I'm not sure why it did when it did. Especially since it had already been on the market a couple months. We bribed Ian's friend with a bad of coffee to show us the house. We liked it. We went back a week later for the open house. Still liked it. So we put in an offer…well below asking price. 

Then the back and forth began. We were squabbling over a couple thousand dollars, which I realize is just a drop in the bucket when buying a house. I remember being at my nephew's baby shower talking to one of my parent's friends, when she reminded me of that very fact. Then I told her, "What if something better comes along?" To which she told me the truth, "There will always be something better." In that conversation, she essentially convinced me to jump in with both feet. At this point, Ian wasn't having any reservations, just me. So we went for it. Even when the inspection report came back with something scary…which ended up really not being scary. And I'm glad we went for it.

Since home buying always feels so delicate, like it can fall apart at a moment's notice, I didn't allow myself to get excited. We had to sit there with signed documents and not fund because their tenant refused to leave! It was a bit of a roller coaster. I didn't really start packing until a week before our move. Stupid decision on my part. But, post move, I cannot be more excited about our house. 

It has just the right amount of character and charm. And it has just the right amount of updates to make it easily livable. It was built in 1939. It has a storage basement! And an attic with lights! It's four bedrooms, three baths. It really is only about 350 square feet bigger than our last house. But, it has a traditional layout and that has been amazing. Instead of having 1/3 of our space as a massive room, it's all spread out. We have a bigger living room, bigger dining room, bigger kitchen. The bigger dining room is probably my favorite because it makes it easier to have people over…and not make the kids sit in another room. 

We are still working on making the house ours. We have repainted almost the whole inside. All the same shade of light grey. There is just a little left of the hallways to go. We are putting baseboards down everywhere. All the bedrooms and the dining room are done, but we still need to do the hallways and living room. We have changed a bunch of light fixtures. And I changed the curtains in the dining room and all the bedrooms. We are slowing making progress and decisions on how to make it our own. But, I know it comes with time.

Either way, in the short two and a half months we have been here, we have already made plenty of memories. Connor started first grade. Both Connor and Isla have made great strides in the pool in that time. Callum cut his first tooth. This is the part I enjoy…taking a house and turning it into a home. 

In case you want to see, our living room and Connor's room. I will be sharing more of the house as I get things done.  

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The Tide is Shifting

There is something about motherhood. It feels like every time you get your footing, things change again. I look back at the past almost seven years of my life and think of all the change, all the upheaval, it's just crazy. 

We had just moved to Aberdeen when I had Connor. I threw every ounce of my being into the small group at our new church that we started going to when Connor was less than a week old. It paid off big time. I made some amazing friends. They were all so different and helped me in different ways. But one in particular, one with three kids, helped me the most. She got me out of the house, both with Connor and without. She watched Connor so Ian and I could go on dates. She was amazing. Just what I needed in that new mothering season, when I had no family around. 

Then we moved home. That was interesting. Everyone and everything I thought I knew about Modesto had changed in the almost ten years of being gone. I had to make new friends. It happened. Slowly. It really wasn't until about two years in that I found my tribe. Things were stable and humming along there for a while. 

Then kids start school. The carefree, schedule less days of motherhood were behind us. But there was still plenty of fun to be had. Lots of it after school or late into the night, hanging out after the kids got to bed. 

Now I find things changing once again and honestly feel a bit lost. It started after I had Callum. Then lump on to it Connor now being in school all day. And all day school really makes for no time to get together with older kids. And Callum is a brilliant napper, making me want to hang around at home for those. And, on top of that, the fabulous moms I got to know through preschool have moved on from there and first grade isn't conducive to hanging out with the other class moms like kindergarten. I just feel a little lost in this new season. 

I know I will find my footing. I always do. But I feel like I am in a bit of a mourning period for the awesomeness that the last few years has been with some amazing friends in my life. And now, I find myself doing something rather difficult for introverts like myself, I am putting myself out there. Dating other moms, so to speak. 

It's a new season. 

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Connor: Homework started this week. He acts like it's the end of the world…then he totally gets into it. Kind of like how he keeps saying school is "horrible", yet is back to playing school at home.

Isla: She is ready to be back to school and around kids again. But since her and Connor are now away from each other all day, they have been playing amazingly together in the evenings. 

Callum: Cut his first tooth this week. His sleep suffered tremendously. Here's to hoping the sleep part rebounds quickly! 

"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2016."

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An 8.5 Month Sibling Comparison

With Connor and Isla, it was total happenstance that I took literally identical pictures of them mere days apart in age. This time, I saw it coming. I actually remembered the week before and checked so I could take the pictures of Callum at the right time. They were taken at the exact same age as Connor. 

At 8 months old, all three kids were within half a pound of each other. Callum was a little longer than the other two. I would say they all look relatively the same size in the photos, though Connor does look a little shorter, given his legs aren't sticking over the end of the wagon. Also, look how much hair Connor and Isla had compared to Callum! 

At this age for Connor, he could already stand up and walk holding on to things. Isla was a little bit behind. She could go from laying to sitting by herself, but wasn't quite standing up on her own. Then there's happy little Callum. He is content just sitting…and that's sitting where I set him down. He can't yet go from laying to sitting. And he really has no interest in standing. All in his own time. What he lacks in physical ability, he makes up for in his smiles…smiles for days, I tell you.

An interesting little back story about this little push toy. It was actually one of Ian's coworkers in Scotland. Both her boys played with it, then she handed it down to us. It's fun to me to watch toys get played with over and over again by different kids. 

Another little "fun" fact, all three kids lived in different houses at 8.5 months old. That's kind of crazy when you think about it. But, we were living in Aberdeen, Scotland with Connor, our old house in Modesto with Isla and now our new house with Callum. If there is ever a fourth child, I kind of hope it doesn't include another move! 

Just in case you want to look back, three kids, one outfit and same hat, different boy

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Hair Struggles Be Real

After not liking how I did her hair the week before, Isla declared to me that she was doing her own hair for ballet. She stood in front of the mirror and pulled the brush through her hair over and over. Wearing a big, fluffy tutu, it was just too cute to not take a picture of it. While I was taking pictures, Isla declared to me,

"Mom, Im struggling. It's not time to take pictures when you are struggling."

Haha! Oops. And, after all that struggling, all she wanted was to pin her hair to the side with a gold hair bow. As you can see, she was pleased with her results. Girls, I tell you.

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Connor: I'm told this is his signature silly face. He's still not thrilled about being in school all day and would prefer to be playing.

Isla: She is enjoying being the top dog at home while Connor is at school. She pretty much spends her days in Connor's room, playing with his toys. 

Callum: He got a hold of his first lego this week. Thankfully it was quickly noticed and removed from his grasp. I also think he is teething…I thought so a couple weeks back and the tooth went back down, but I think this time it might really be happening. 

"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2016."

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Whole30 Recap

I really wanted to do a week by week recap of whole30, so I could remember my thoughts and feelings while going through it. Alas, life got in the way and it never happened. But whole30 did happen. In fact, I have been off it two weeks now and am still pretty much eating that way. 

About a week in, I hit my stride with whole30. I knew what I could and couldn't eat and it made things much easier for me. Sure, I had to plan ahead, but once I got in the swing of things, it really wasn't bad. Then we left on vacation. Whole30 food on the road was hard. Most of the places we travelled didn't have "easy" whole30 eats, like In-n-Out or Chipotle. Once, I asked for a lettuce wrapped chicken sandwich at a Mcdonalds and got a piece of chicken sitting on a couple pieces of shredded lettuce. It was awesome…not. And I had an internal meltdown when I ordered a fully compliant salad at another place, only to have it come with fried chicken on top. And the grocery stores in the small towns we were in weren't much better. I forget how much amazing produce is at our finger tips in California. Needless to say, I was happy to return home, to food I easily knew. 

I wasn't doing whole30 to deal with issues I had, per say. I was doing it to kick start a healthier me. But, I did notice that the semi frequent headaches I get went away. I always thought I got them from not drinking coffee soon enough in the day or something. But, I didn't get them while on whole30, so I am going to assume they are from some food additive and not from caffeine. Also, which I really love this, I never got that "I ate so much and now feel full and sick" feeling. 

What now?

Now that whole30 is done, I have relaxed a bit and had some noncompliant things. But honestly, I don't like how much of it makes me feel. I can instantly tell I feel blah and sluggish. I don't feel that way when eating real food. So, for the time being, I think I am going to avoid much of that food and make eating it an exception rather than the normal. And I like that if I get too out of whack again, I can just do whole30 again…I do a good job following rules, so I enjoyed having guidelines to follow and can see myself needing "reminding" of those guidelines again from time to time. 

Eventually, I may get my butt into gear enough to share some of the foods I found really helpful and ate a lot of while on whole30…and beyond. Because, especially when you are starting out, it's nice to have some help to steer you in the right direction. 

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Back at it

Connor starting school last year was a really hard adjustment for me. The mornings felt very early and there were just so many early mornings in a row! I wasn't used to it and it took me a while to really get the hang of it. Like, it literally took weeks.

I wasn't sure what to expect this year, getting back into the school routine. Thankfully, it has been an easy transition. Sure I am not in love with the early mornings. But I am in love with all the productivity that happens, given that all of us are ready and out of the house by 8:10. It has really allowed me the time to do things around the house that need to be done. I have hung things on the walls and been organizing to my heart's content…of course it helps that Isla is super good at independent play and Callum takes a long morning nap!

We have been walking to and from school each day. I know we didn't live far from the school last year, but just far enough that driving was convenient. But, this year, walking really will be it. I anticipate driving on the days Isla has preschool (she starts in September) only because we won't have time to walk to school, then walk home and get the car. But other than that, we are pretty committed. Once Connor started riding his scooter to and from school, I stopped hearing complaining from him about the walking. Isla has pretty much been using Callum's stroller and I have been wearing Callum in the ergo. Because, God forbid my kids have to walk even two houses!!! I kid you not, they are the biggest complainers about walking. I really don't get it.

Either way, I am enjoying walking. I love walking where the trees intertwine in the middle of the road. I love stopping to let Isla talk to and pet random cats. I really love the sense of community that comes from walking around.

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Our New Home {living room}

This is the living room of our new house. It is in the front of the house. You enter the front door and turn right to go into it. I am kind of in love with the curved entry way into it. It is a little larger and a completely different layout than the living room at our old house, so it took me rearranging furniture a few times before I was happy. 

When we bought the house, this room was painted a sort of olive green. Given that the ceiling was also painted due to the curves going from the wall to the ceiling (which I think are pretty cool), it was rather dungeon like in here. We decided to pick one color to paint the whole house and went with a neutral, light grey. We tried a few different samples before picking this color, which seemed the most just grey to me. 

The curtains came with the house. They are a nice neutral curtain, giving me time to decide what I want to do. I definitely want to keep curtains for the side windows, as I like opening them and letting the light pour in. I think I also want to keep curtains for the front window, as opposed to putting shutters there. But, I have yet to make a decision and yet to find any curtains calling my name. So, these will do for the time being. We also will be putting baseboards in here at some point in the (hopefully) near future. Most of the house just had quarter round, so we are working on putting baseboards throughout the house.

I feel like this room functions really well for us. There are a few toys under the big window for the kids to play with. I like that the kids now utilize all the seating in the room…they used to pretty much just use the couch at our old house. Isla, in particular, likes to go sit at the vintage desk by the fireplace and I love whenever I see her sitting in it. 

^^ You can see a sample of the old paint at the bottom of the wall…which will obviously be covered up once we get baseboards installed. 

^^ The vintage mail cart in the corner by the couch holds all our throw blankets. I love that I don't have to fold them and can just dump them in there. Even in the dead of summer, my kids still pull out all the blankets, so I love the ease of just throwing them in the cart when they are done. 

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Connor: He survived his first week of school. The long days got to him and he asked to be home schooled. But, he still had the energy to swim several times this week. 

Isla: She started ballet this week and I took her to buy a new ballet outfit, which may have been an extremely fun experience listening to her squeal over and over in the store, "Oh mama, this is so beautiful!"

Callum: Just going with the flow and trying more and more new foods. Oh, and I learned when he doesn't take a nap, he's not so fun to be around. 

"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2016."

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The Trek Home

In case you missed the other posts from our road trip, here's on our way there, Salt Lake City, Durango and the Grand Canyon. Technically the Grand Canyon was on our way home, but I felt like it was significant enough to warrant a post of its own. 

^^ Everywhere we went, the kids were obsessed with the maps they give you. 

^^ It's been a while since I've been out in the south-west, and I was constantly in awe of the beauty of the land. 

^^ I'm glad we stopped at four corners. Connor in particular really enjoyed it and has talked about it numerous times since. But it was so incredibly hot. There was no shade, or breeze for that matter. And you had to wait in line to take a picture. We asked a lady to take our picture and she did a totally horrible job. Whomp, whomp, whomp. 

^^ I looked up Horseshoe Bend on the internet. It is actually pretty far north of the Grand Canyon, but I kept thinking about when would we ever be over here again, so we decided to detour and go to it. It was 108 degrees out. There is no shade and huge signs warning of heat exhaustion at the trail head. But, we decided to go for it and see what happens. The way there went surprisingly well. A couple minutes after we got to the overlook, the wind picked up and before you knew it, we were in a sand storm. If we didn't have the kids, I probably would have waited it out. But, we had to make the mile trek out of there (uphill) with the sand whipping us and the kids heads covered in blankets. I wore Isla in the ergo on my back and half lead/half drug Connor, while Ian drug Callum in the stroller. It felt pretty miserable. But, it was a beautiful sight. I just wish we could have enjoyed it more.

^^ I think my hair and the kids covered faces do a good job telling about the wind! 

^^ We stopped at Flintstones Bedrock City. It is about 30 minutes away from the Grand Canyon. The reviews of it online are mixed. Sure, it's a bit rundown, but it really is a fun place and the kids totally were into it. 

We travelled just over 2500 miles in 10 days. Though we had our journey mostly mapped out, we did plan our stops while driving. I looked for things online that looked quirky and cool to stop at and Ian was always down for whatever.

The one thing about traveling so far with kids is bathroom breaks. Often, we would find ourselves out in the middle of nowhere with no safe place to stop for miles and a kid would say they need to use the bathroom and we would be begging them to hold it until we could stop. My personal favorite were the poop breaks that happened at least twice with us sitting on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere. Easy and good food was scarce, so I was particularly excited when we got back into the land of the living (i.e. California) where In-n-Out and Chipotle is all over.

I noticed in pretty much everywhere besides California, people were rather chill drivers. It was pretty funny because literally the minute we passed back into California, defensive and crazy driving was all over the road again.

The kids did really well in the car. Especially the older two. They really didn't do much complaining at all, as long as we kept them fed and stopped for them to go the bathroom. Callum, on the other hand, would max out at about 8 hours of travel a day and then nothing, I mean nothing, could keep him from letting us know his displeasure in still being in the car. Thankfully that really only happened a couple times.

This trip was really good for me. It scratched my wanderlust itch a bit. Though, me being me, I am already planning out the next big adventure I want to take. Seriously, I am a bit addicted to travel. It's just so fun for me to get out there and experience different things. Different people. Different foods. Different everything. And I really hope our kids grow up loving to travel and experience new things as well.

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