Monday, August 26, 2013

Dear Männchen

Happy 4th birthday sweet Männchen!  I still cannot believe it has been four years since you entered into our lives.  I fully believe from the bottom of my heart the world is a better place now that you are in it. 

Your Daddy and I are so proud of the little man you are becoming.  You are caring, sensitive, and considerate.  You are the protector of your sister and her best friend.  You love spending time outdoors and helping in the garden.  Your eagerness to plant seeds, pull weeds, and harvest our "crops" is unparalleled.  You are such a good helper - in the kitchen, with housework, fixing things - always by our sides watching and lending a hand.  You are still curious, still always digging for a better understanding of the world.  You take everything in, observing, watching, learning, everywhere we go.

I don't think the world is accustomed to souls as gentle and caring as yours.  I have taken it as my job as your mama to protect that gentleness in you, while still helping your grow into a man.  The world can be a cruel place and soon enough you will witness that.  You already have in some small ways.  Don't ever let it change you - no playmate's cruelty, girl who breaks your heart, or any other reason is worth losing your sincerity and loving nature.

I know this move has been difficult for you.  I never wanted to put my own children through this process.  I remember all too well how difficult it was as a child myself.  But I also know you are strong and you will be a better person in the end for it.  Life can be a process of learning how to adapt.  Moving is so good at forcing us to do that.  Your daddy and I are by your side to hold you, rock you, and love you through the hard times.

I am so sorry for the times I am short with you.  I am so sorry I do not always hold the patience to handle your eagerness or willingness to help.  Just like you, I am work in progress.  You have pushed me to be a better mama and person, and I thank you for your gentleness in that. 

Thank you Männchen for being all that we could have ever hoped for in a son.  My love for you is unconditional.  Four years ago you changed my life for the better and everyday with you has been better than the last.  I cannot wait to see what this next year holds for you my sweet, sweet boy.

Friday, August 23, 2013

{ this moment }

{this moment}
A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.
If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.
Inspired by Soule Mama.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Peaches, Rainy Days, and Berry Picking

Several days after we moved in, we went on vacation to the Outer Banks.  What used to be a very short drive became an eight hour drive.  It wasn't so bad on the way there, but coming home I was solo with the kids - hubby had to go back by the old house and do a little maintenance work.
So, what do you do on an eight hour drive with two little ones?  Stop at least once an hour for potty breaks.  Cry as you drive through your old town, glad your little ones are sleeping and don't need to stop for yet another potty break.  Run around in random, open lots you find near gas stations.  And then, finally, after the first five hours, you reach the peach orchard for a LONG stop of picking peaches, running around, and eating peach ice cream.
We needed this break - every single one of us!
We stopped at Chile's Peach Orchard outside of Charlottesville, Virginia.  It is incredibly beautiful there.  The mountains are gorgeous, the air is less humid, and there were peaches galore.  We've also visited their partner cherry and apple orchards, loving every single one of them for all the same reasons.  There was something about making back into the mountains that helped our souls and settled the kids after the first long hours in the car.
Woah, mama!  SO many peaches!  This was the kids' first peach picking experience, so I gave them a quick lesson on which ones are ripe and which ones need more time on the tree.  They quickly went to work picking after that and filled up our bags in no time.

Yes, Töchterchen, that peach is perfectly ripe!  She got the hang of peach picking much more than any of the berries we've picked.  I think maybe she liked seeing more progress while picking.  Sometimes with the berries, it takes so long to fill the basket and at age two, that's too disappointing!  This was not the case with peaches and she was the most eager harvester among us.
 We arrived home late Saturday afternoon and even though the apartment didn't feel like home when we left, it felt like home after all those hours in the car.  I think that was so beneficial to us mentally.  Vacation was fun, but it feels so good to walk through the door to "home" afterwards. 

Sunday was a quiet day - filled with more projects around the apartment, grocery shopping, and unpacking.  Later in the afternoon a sudden downpour sprung up and the kids discovered the most delightful thing!  When it rains hard enough we get a small creek through our backyard.  They were so excited to put on their rain boots and stomp through the water. 

This is a good shot of the garden and hillside behind our apartment.  We love that even though we're in an apartment, we do have this outdoor space right out outside our door.
By Wednesday of last week we were settled enough to start exploring our surroundings - and not just "explorations" to the hardware store for additional fix-it items.  We went to the local berry farm that is on the way to my parents' house.  After having to drive an hour to blueberry and blackberry pick, we all loved that we only had to go about five miles to reach this farm! 

We started with raspberries and had high inspirations of picking lots to freeze.  However, raspberry picking was slow business on this particular day (maybe it's always slow?) and we finally made it through one pint before calling it quits.  Mannchen and I enjoyed it, Töchterchen however, was over it before we even made it halfway through said pint.

I am still in disbelief that we are blessed enough to live in such a beautiful place.  So many times in the past two weeks, I've paused to look around and just be thankful.  The berry farm was no exception.

After raspberries, it was on to blueberries.  This went much faster and we were able to gather a pint in no time. 

We also discovered and abandoned bird's nest while picking!  I think this bird moved onto a more quiet tree once berry season started!

Again, the beauty here is breathtaking.

Before leaving we also picked a quick pint of blackberries.  Hubby was on campus studying, unaware of our adventure, so we were very excited to surprise him with freshly picked berries!
Our days are slowly transitioning back to a more regular rhythm.  We need it so, every single one of us.  We spent much of last week going new places - the berry farm, walking to the farmer's market, running errands, the grocery store, and so on.  We are settling into the parts of our week that will be different here - Saturday mornings and Wednesday afternoon walks to the farmer's market for groceries - and enjoying re-finding the parts of our week that will remain the same - painting on Monday, Baking on Wednesday, and so forth. 
Next week hubby will start classes and life will settle down even more to it's predictable rhythm that is so comforting.  After a wonderful summer, filled to the brim with adventures together as a family, we are looking forward to crisp fall days, a slower season filled with coziness and home.  Each season brings with it its pleasures and comforts and for that we are so grateful.  

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Home Tour - Our Living Room

I am so behind on all the many wonderful things I would love to share with you.  We have been having a very lovely time in our new(ish) town - lots of long walks and explorations.  Between the new discoveries, I just haven't had the time to sit down and write about it.  I suppose in reality that means, we're busy living and loving life!

Another room in our apartment has reached completion - the living room!  I should add, for the most part, everything is complete, but I have a few projects left for the kitchen and our bedroom that keep me from sharing them quite yet.  The living room had been finished for awhile, but it was waiting for our new rug to arrive!  We came upon a little luck and a huge outpouring of generosity...and now we have the rug.  (Pardon the darkness of the photos - the living room is also the playroom.  It is only after night has fallen and the precious little one have been tucked into bed that it appears this tidy.)

Let me tell you, this rug has been dreamed about for at least five years now.  If I remember correctly, I have been lusting over an LL Bean braided wool rug for as long as we were in our old house, definitely for as long as we've been married.  I had visions of tearing out the carpet, refinishing the hardwood floors, and rolling one of these beauties out...but budget (and luck) never made that vision into reality.  When came our way that we could select one of these rugs for our new home, I knew exactly which one I wanted.  Funny thing is, I kind of forgot to consult with hubby first.  Normally, he could care less about such matters and I am accustomed to making color/paint/decorating choices on my own.  Besides, colors aren't his thing - he is color blind (truly color blind, not just making a joke on him).  Well, this rug is a more permanent fixture in our home for years to come than any wall color will ever be and it turns out he wanted a vote.  He was a bit surprised by my bold color choice - most of our home is more understated.  I've been purposefully keeping many things unpatterned and simple with the hopes of adding this big burst of color to our home eventually.  But thankfully, he trusts my choice and he agrees that is looks comfortable and welcoming in our living room, now that it's here.  And the kids absolutely adore it.

So, without further ado, here is the rest of the living room.

The $5 chicken feeder lamp found a lampshade and made a permanent home in our living room - it is an excellent reading light. 
This hand stitched little beauty was found at a yardsale for only $1!

Blocks, blocks, and lots of blocks.

Toy shelf - we found this at a moving sale the Monday after we moved in.  The Bolga basket is home to our playsilks.

The barn has been expanded to include this wooden CD case (also found for $1 at the moving sale).  I had a slightly different vision of it's purpose, but Mannchen had other ideas.

The whole play area of the room.
I didn't get a good picture of the other wall of the room, but it houses a small bookshelf.  We are hoping to find or build a larger one before long.  Our book collection has already outgrown the spaces we have.

So there you have it, our new living room space!  We're ready now, come on over for a cup of coffee and a playdate!

Friday, August 16, 2013

{ this moment }

{this moment}
A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.
If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Inspired by Soule Mama.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Home Tour - The Kids' Room

I'm woman enough to admit that I didn't think I would ever be able to call our new apartment home when we first moved in.  It just felt so different from our last home.
However, lots of scrubbing, some paint, lots of organizing/unpacking, a list of small home improvement projects, and a little magic has transformed this cozy apartment into our new home.  I'm finding that I love the smaller size!  We couldn't be happier with the location and setting.  Each room is becoming complete quicker than I expected. 
I think the thing I love the most about our new home is that we only brought with us our favorite things.  This move really helped us refine what items we care about the most.  If we didn't love it or need it, it didn't come with us.  Maybe the dated pine paneling and tile floors wouldn't be my first choice of wall finishes in a home, but when I look around at what we've done to transform this place into our home, I feel like this home speaks more of who we are, the life we are living, and what we truly value than our home in Newport News.  I never thought I would feel that way when we first moved in, but it's a beautiful, peaceful state of mind to settled in after all the chaos and emotions of moving.
Without further ado, I would like to present you with the first 100% complete room of the house - the kids' bedroom.
Beds - no more railing for Töchterchen!  I am so glad I moved ALL the curtains from our old home.  These were the ones I made before Mannchen was born for our nursery.  Their crib had a matching bedskirt that I used for the top of our old reading nook tent.  Thankfully I didn't repurpose the curtains yet!  They are a perfect fit for this room and I was happy to have something (free) to cover their windows with.

Mannchen's bed.  Hubby built a self for each kid near their bed.  Mannchen's is on the side.  We had to leave a gap along this wall and their beds because of the baseboard heater.  His bedspread before was sports themed, but I flipped it over for this room to keep things more simple.

Töchterchen's bed.  Her shelf is behind her headboard and of course it's pink.  Her bedspread is just a different slip cover saved from my freshman year of college.  The one she had before was from my upper classman years, but I knew she'd love the white/pink stripe side of this one (the other side is blue flowers with pink centers).

A collection of prints from "Around The Year" by Elsa Beskow.  I had a small version of the book, but happened upon a large version also.  I saved the small one to use as wall art.  I have all the pages, so I can change them with the seasons.  The vintage cat is from my parents' house - I loved it!

Print and cat picture about their dresser.

In our old house all their toys and books were in the playroom - the bedroom was only beds and a dresser.  I don't have that option here, so I wanted all the toys and books to be able to be put away at night.  This was once our hutch, then a craft cabinet, then a game cabinet in our old playroom.  Now it's our book cabinet.  Most of the kids' books are in the bottom.  The drawers have our wooden peg gnomes/dolls and other small wooden toys.
In the closet is a square shelf organizer with cloth baskets of smaller toys (doll clothes, trucks/cars, etc).  The large dress up basket is also in there.  I like that I can shut the door on all of those tempting items at night.
So far the kids seem to love their new room!  The soft yellow color is much more soothing than the bright blue of their old room.  I love it!  I wanted this room to be more calming and relaxing than their old room was.  It's funny how our preferences change as we learn more, grow, and develop a more defined style.  It took a big move like this to give my kids a room that is more suiting to where we are now as a family.
As the finishing touches are put on the other rooms of the apartment, I will share them with you also!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013


There’s vacation with children and there’s vacation without children – they mean two entirely different things.  Vacation with children is more about making sure you build memories with family and with your children.  Vacation without children is about relaxing, kicking back, and feeling as if you don’t have a worry in the world.

Obviously, our vacations are of the first type.  Don’t get me wrong though.  I love that we go on vacation once a year with hubby’s family.  To a degree, it is relaxing to be around family.  It’s just that with the kids, it’s so different than in the years before the children.

As a mom, I worry someone is about to drown.  And let me tell you, on day three of this vacation this has already proven to be a valid worry - Männchen fell into the deep end of the pool head first while trying to fill up a squirt toy, Töchterchen wandered off (past a pool and into a parking lot) when I thought she was with another family member, and she has had her feet knocked out from under her multiple times while on her fearless treks into the ocean.

I also worry about bedtime.  We are staying in a three story beach house and the kids are on the middle level, with doors to the deck from their room.  I have made sure noisy locks are in place on the doors, but here I sit in the hallway for the fourth night in a row, ears on alert and on guard in a way only a mother can be.

Yet, I know deep down it’s worth it.  We’ll put in these “hard” years of vacation, but before I know it, it will be vacation again for all of us.  The kids will know how to swim.  They will be able to put themselves to bed and I won’t have to worry about them wandering into places they shouldn’t. 

 And until then, we will do our best to build memories they will cherish, even though as a mama I will know it was a hell of a lot of work.