Monday, August 3, 2015

A Summer Brunch

Here's the truth, lovey.

So in the past ten years, Jeff and I have lived in one apartment, three houses we've bought, and two houses we've rented. And in all that time, I've never really gotten to know my neighbors that well. I loved our neighbors at our first house (that's you, Tracy! :) but that was before we had Ashtyn and I was working a lot back then so I wasn't as available. I think good neighbors are such a huge blessing. Neighbors can really make or break your living experience. If you're living around people who make you crazy, it's probably a good idea to move. As of next month, we've lived in this current house for one year. Gosh, I can hardly believe it. This was a new build, as were the houses directly around us. So some of our neighbors have been here even less than a year. I told Jeff that if we're planning to stay here for a while (remember, lovey, I'm prone to moving), I really want to at least know my neighbors.

I'm sort of an introvert. I feel like people don't always believe me when I say this but it's true! I love to be social, but I can only take it in short doses. I love to plan time with friends, but I also really love to just be home with my family. Usually, I try to plan one play date/coffee date per week, and sometimes that doesn't even happen. I need both. I need friends and people in my life. But I also need solitude (impossible with kids, but you know what I mean). I need home and rest and nothing on my calendar.

Absolutely one of the highlights of my summer was my book club party. I looked forward to it for weeks and I had so much fun planning it! And really, it was a perfect night. I loved it. But that was one party for the summer. Another thing I had on my to-do list was a summer brunch. I kept putting it off, but I really wanted to host a summer brunch with my neighbors before school started. So last week I decided to make this happen without too much fanfare. I bought some simple invitations (this was because I didn't know everyone so I don't have email addresses or phone numbers!) and I went to the two houses on either side of me and a couple of houses across the street and I dropped off invites. I also invited my friend from a few streets away and she invited another friend from the neighborhood. I dropped off invites at the start of the week and the brunch was to be Saturday morning. So not a whole lot of notice. Then again, it was just a simple breakfast and all these girls live in my neighborhood. :)

I decided to make a quiche and a casserole (because, um, those are the two breakfast foods I can make) and just buy something sweet (cinnamon rolls), and Nancy offered to bring fruit (I really love her). I had coffee and juice to serve, and voila! There's brunch for you. Jeff had brought me roses earlier in the week, and I loved the color and knew I'd want to use that as our centerpiece. I really enjoy setting my table, but the truth is that people appreciate the invitation more than the table settings. Paper plates and napkins and store-bought cake work just fine. It's all about the hospitality. It's about the friendship. It's about the conversation.

One of the neighbors couldn't make it but everyone else texted me an RSVP that they were excited to come. Yay! It was such a simple, easy gathering to host, and I am so glad I went for it. I loved getting to know the women who live around us. Where they're from, what they do, just a piece of their story--now we can put names to faces, and when we wave and say hello, it's because we know each other. I was able to squeeze in this quick get together before school starts next Monday. We were a range of ages and life stages. That's okay. It's simply about knowing each other. If you don't know you're neighbors, and even if you lean toward being an introvert, let me encourage you to be brave and try to get to know someone. You can invite one person over for coffee and fruit, and that's enough. You don't have to host lots of parties or invite lots of people over. Hospitality is about opening your heart first and foremost.

Summer vacation is officially coming to an end. This weekend we went and bought all of Ashtyn's school supplies (which cost a small fortune. Seriously, we had to spend $20 on pencils. Are. You. Kidding. Me.). I can see that Ash is conflicted. She's sad to see summer vacay end, but she's excited for school. I understand. There's something very thrilling about new backpacks and such. ;) She's also counting down until her birthday. I mean counting down, literally on her calendar, daily. She's so excited. She's big enough that birthdays now involve her own friends (instead of just my mom friends and their kids!). She gets to tell me what she wants, and this year, she wants a surprise party. Really. More than anything, she wants to come inside our house and hear people yell, "Surprise!"

So that's what we'll do. :) I've recruited my sister Sara to help. She's more creative than I could ever be. So we've got school starting and then a birthday party in our immediate future.  Last night Jeff and I watched the season finale of Poldark. Oh gosh. If you haven't watched it, get online and watch it. We loved it. Sunday nights have been like our date nights for summer. We put the kids to bed and watch Poldark. Excellent.

It's the last week of summer vacation, lovey. And my kids have spent half the day playing in Ashtyn's room. The loft looks destroyed with toys. I'm doing laundry and thinking of the huge batch of pulled pork I have leftover from yesterday. I'm thinking pork enchiladas and taco salad are on the menu for tonight. Tomorrow night is book club at a new friend's house. I'm a little tired today. I had to get up twice last night with Lily. And the summer cold has now passed to Jeff. Poor guy.

It's just another day in the life over here.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Summer, Please Stay

Loveys, it's been a perfect morning. The kind where you sit out on the deck with your coffee, the baby next to you in the bouncer and two pajama-clad kids playing around in the grass, the wind blowing your hair (but not so much that you're annoyed and your eyes are watering, which frequently happens to me), and the feeling of summer all around you. I wish I had a million of these left. But I've only got about eleven.

Here's what I'm thinking: Summer is almost over, and I have not cleaned out the garage. I know that the minute school starts, we're not drenched in snow. In other words, there's still time. It's just one of those things I thought I'd be able to do this summer, and it hasn't happened. But it must because winter is coming (so I'm a Game of Thrones groupie, I had to throw that in there!). Do you have a few things like that on your to-do list? Closets to go through? Clothes to sort? Stuff to sell on Craigslist? Stuff to organize? I like organization. I like not having an overabundance of stuff. Neither of those sentences reflects my garage right now. But when you've got a baby attached to you for most of your day, cleaning and organizing doesn't happen all that much. I'm going to have to work with Jeff to find time to get the garage more functional.

I also need to go through Ash's clothes, to see what she's outgrown and what she needs for school. That needs to happen fairly quickly. (Within eleven days, I guess.)  We need school supplies. I've got two birthday parties to plan in August. It's always a crazy month and I think it will be forever since we'll always have two birthdays right around the time that school starts. (Word to the wise, try not to get pregnant during November!) Things are slowly getting done. The deck is finished. Yay! Ash is registered for school. So is Linc. Ash is signed up to start gymnastics again. All good things.

The truth is, when fall gets here, I know I'll love it because I love fall.

But right now, I love summer and I don't want it to end. It's been a beautiful thing. And mornings like this one are everything.

I haven't really missed work much yet, to be honest. How can you miss work when it's summer? :) But last week, Ashtyn asked me to wear one of the dresses in my closet. I kind of laughed and told her that I don't really wear those clothes just to be home in all day. I told her those were my work clothes. She proceeds to tell me that she wants me to go back to work. She likes seeing me in those clothes.

Heart squeezes.

I understand. I really do. I liked seeing my mom work when I was growing up. She seemed capable and smart and important. Kids see things differently sometimes. Of course, stay-at-home moms are just as capable and smart and important. But when Ash is used to seeing me dressed up and going somewhere every week, well, she seems to miss that. I miss that too. But the great thing about being an editor or a writer is getting to work from home. Writing stories in your pajamas at midnight. Taking a break from editing to hop into your own kitchen for a snack. Ash doesn't quite understand how awesome that is. :) But I do.

However, Ash's comment did get me thinking. I probably need to dress up a little more often so she sees that I still know how to apply makeup. But there is no place I'd rather be this morning than right where I am. A cup of coffee. A chair on the deck that Jeff made for me. Wind rushing through the grass. Two kids shrieking and laughing as they jump on the trampoline. Lily squinting in the sunlight. She keeps squirming as if to say, I could sit here in the bouncer, or you could hold me. This is a no brainer. Pick. Me. Up. 

Summer is coming to an end. Pencils and backpacks and lunchables are in our future. Chili and pumpkins and costumes. Laura and Wesley's wedding. Holidays. Turkey with friends. Presents. My ornament party. Christmas music.

Things I absolutely love and will enjoy.

But for today, I'll soak up the warm weather in Colorado. We'll have lunch at Nancy's tomorrow. We'll go swimming with Sarah and the kids on Friday. Saturday morning I'm hosting a brunch at my house with some neighbors. (More on that in another post.) I'll squeeze as much out of these last few summer days as possible.

Because every day is a gift.

And the plain fact is that even my garage is a gift. It needs to be in better shape. I need to take boxes of stuff to Goodwill. I need to make room. I'll feel better once that's done.

But right now, I have to make PBJ sandwiches. 

How's your day going, lovey? I hope it's beautiful. Breathe deep today.
Monday, July 27, 2015

When You're Discouraged

 

Loveys, last week summer colds invaded our house. It was a long week of just me and the kids together. Jeff was working super hard to finish our deck (it's pretty much done. Hallelujah!). And I was taking care of kids who were feeling awful (mainly Lincoln--we ended up going to the doctor twice for this kid in one week!). We went through almost a whole bottle of hand sanitizer as I made everyone clean their hands approximately every fifteen minutes. It felt like a LONG week. Finally, over the weekend, we turned a corner and the kids started feeling much better. Thank heavens.

This morning, I woke up feeling sick.

I won't lie to you. I almost cried. After a week of taking care of kids, waking up and feeling like the cold has now reached me . . . well, it was discouraging. Because moms still have kids to take care of. Because there's still breakfast to make. Laundry to do. Bottles to feed and diapers to change. Jeff ran to the store before work and got me some cold medicine.

I just put Lily down for a nap. I finally made myself a cup of coffee. Both kids are playing in their rooms. And I sat down in my pajamas after deciding that, no, actually, I don't have the energy to clean up the loft.

And I just checked the clock to see if it's almost lunchtime, when Jeff will be back for an hour.

It's 10:07, lovey.

Okay.

I also have to admit that I'm sad that there are only two weeks before school starts. Two weeks! The summer has flown by and it's almost over. I've loved the easy summer schedule. I've loved hearing the kids play, and I've even loved feeding them snacks every twenty minutes. I'm the kind of mom who's okay with popsicles at 10 am. I'm okay with the kids playing dress up every day if they want. I'm okay with staying home and having pajama and cartoon days. I'm okay with play dough all over the kitchen table while Ashtyn makes pretend gourmet meals and Lincoln makes worms. I'm okay with many hours of Peppa Pig and bowls of buttery popcorn. Most of all, I'm okay with these kids of mine who have absolutely loved their summer. I'm okay with smiles and happy kids. And I'm totally okay with taking care of sniffly kids when they catch a summer cold.

This has been my first summer of not working outside the home. My first summer with the kids not in daycare at all. My first summer where I don't have projects always in the back of my mind. And it's been good for me.

I'm not really ready for the school schedule to take over our lives again. And the truth is that I want to enjoy every minute of the next two weeks, not feel sick and drained of energy.

But this is where I am. Definitely not 100 percent today.

We all have these days, you know, lovey. Not 100 percent. Moving and functioning because we have to, even if we're not feeling it. We all feel discouraged sometimes. Me too.

So today, some things I will let go of. Some things can wait until tomorrow. Some things can't wait. I will be strong enough to do those things because God gives us strength. I will give myself the same grace I give my kids when they're sick. Because we need it too. A little latitude. A shrug of the shoulders. It's going to be okay.

It's even okay to feel discouraged.

I've been working on that this summer. Letting us all feel whatever we're feeling. If Ashtyn feels sad, I've told her it's okay to feel sad. We all do sometimes. If Lincoln cries, that's okay. We all cry sometimes. I want the freedom to feel how I'm feeling. My kids need that freedom too.

So today I'm a little discouraged. I want to feel stronger. I hope the medicine heads off this cold. But regardless, we keep going because people need us. And that's a blessing in itself. I can't even imagine a life where I didn't have a husband who needs me. Or kids who need me. I can't imagine this house without the sounds of Ashtyn and Lincoln and Lillian. I can't imagine a life without Jeff next to me. We work for this happy, loving home and family. They're worth it. I'm worth it. He's worth it. It's a good life.

So today, I'm thinking I'll be wearing this old Third Day sweatshirt all day long. I'm pretty sure the loft won't get organized until later tonight. There's French beef stew in the crockpot making the house smell wonderful and comforting, and reassuring me that dinner will be easy and ready tonight. I'm not even going to argue with myself about that second cup of coffee I'm about to have. 

Grace on my kids. Grace on me. Grace on Jeff.

Lincoln just climbed up on the couch next to me, tucked his feet under me, and asked me, "Do you love me, Mommy?"

Good grief, kid. Only to the point of obsession.