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As parents, there is very little that hubby and I want more than to just let our children be who they are. We want to expose them to whatever we can and let them choose what is right for them. I know that it’s not possible to open every single door out there and that there is certainly more than enough bias just from what we value being passed along to them. We aren’t going out of our way to show them things that aren’t true to who we are, for better or worse, but we are letting things be when our kids take interest in what we’re interested in.

I think the best we can do as mom and dad and the most trusted human beings for these two small people today is to lay a foundation with how we live and what we value and if they accept that and want to learn more, great and if they show interest in something more than that, we’ll do what we can there as well.

As an example, I always said from before we even started thinking about having children that I NEVER wanted to have a daughter take ballet classes. I suffered from anorexia for a long time and my sisters-in-law all did ballet at some point and as a result starved themselves. So I related ballet to anorexia and never wanted my child to go through that for something so silly as dance classes. I was never a dancer. I’m very uncoordinated.

Fast-forward a few years and we have ourselves a three year old who LOVES all things girly, all things princessy and all things ballet. I don’t know when or how it even started. She maybe read a book about Angelina Ballerina or something but whatever it was, she was hooked. She owns leotards, she does plies, and she begs to take ballet classes. And we’ll put her in them as soon as we find a class that accepts her age. Because she wants to. I just have to take a deep breath and let be what is.

I actually remember from early on in my first pregnancy, that I was afraid to have a girl. I wanted a boy to watch football with, to play rough with in the yard and to make fun of ballerinas with. I hated the color pink and all things girly. Then reality struck. And I was given the most beautiful gift that is my daughter, who shows me every day how to challenge my beliefs, she shows me that it’s okay for things not be as we expected and just to love and embrace what is. She has shown me to just let it be. She loves pink, ballet, princesses, and everything girly you can imagine.

Now we have our son, he’s 13 months now and we’re starting to see that he is a little guy who will challenge our thoughts and ideas about the world and people also. He’s a sensitive guy. So far, he shows no interest in sports, much to my chagrin.

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Both of our kids, as young as they are, Drew 3 1/2 and Eli 1, have shown a keen interest in the project that is our home remodel. Both of them have found tools and projects beyond interesting. Drew has named herself “Daddy’s big helper” and Eli is right there in the middle of whatever he can be in the middle of.

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As parents, we have both stepped back. We don’t take hammers away, we don’t stop them from climbing the ladder. We just let them be. They are, after all, learning. And they may or may not take from this time in our lives an appreciation for remodeling and home improvement projects, but all we can do today is let them take interest in what they like. We’ll keep letting them be involved and enjoying the moment as it is. There are only so many moments when they’re little. Neither one of us wants to steer who they are or what they become so we’ll keep just sitting back and letting them explore their world, learning new things and finding their way. We’ll keep just letting them be.

Drew and I were snuggling on the couch last night and somehow it came up about mommy being happy. I asked her if she thinks I’m happy. She replied yes, of course! Then I asked what makes me happy and she replied “Me and Daddy and Eli. Oh…and me not making messes!”

She is one smart cookie. I guess I’m doing something right since she didn’t name anything material 🙂

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I used to live in a big house, I was a working mom while hubby stayed home with our daughter, and I spent money on anything and everything.

What in the world happened to me?

Reality, I guess.

I loved working at my job until my daughter was born. After that, I spent everyday wishing I was home with her instead of at work. I didn’t care what it took, I wanted to be home with her. And here I am. 1500 miles away. A lot less money. 2 kids. A simple life. And a lot more happiness than I ever imagined.

I have to remind myself sometimes of what life was like then. I got up at 6:30 everyday to be at work and I was home by 5 to see our daughter for a few short hours before bedtime. I had to hear about first roll-overs and first smiles and first steps and first words from my husband. I had to miss so many things.

While I was missing those things, I was filling my life with other stuff I thought I needed to be happy. I shopped all the time for new clothes, I spent a lot of money on food, travel, whatever my heart desired really. I thought all those things were making me successful, envied, wonderful, fabulous and happy but they weren’t.

I lived in a big stark house with white walls that I didn’t have the time or energy to decorate and put any effort into. I just went to work and came home for dinner and sleep.

Today, I have found that not only being with my daughter and now my son too, has brought me the happiness and fulfillment that I expected, but I have found so many other wonderful things along the way.

I now live by the beach. I used to hate the beach. All that icky salt water? Not for me. I grew up vacationing at a lake in Upstate NY and spending my summers in Algonquin Park in Canada. I was a lake girl. No need for the ocean. Now, here I am living just a few short miles from the wonder that is the Atlantic Ocean. I love that I have within my reach something so vast and amazing. I love that I can go somewhere that immediately feels like a sweet escape even if it’s only 3 miles from my home.

I live in a small house, one that oozes love and charm and character because I have the time, energy and desire to make it that way. I have learned from this home to appreciate so much, and that living simply is living beautifully.

I am not who I was 2 1/2 years ago when I left my job. The job that made me feel important. The one that paid our bills. The one that was entirely thankless and I was forgotten the day I walked out the door. The job I do know is very much a thankless one too, but I think in the years to come the kids who don’t know it yet will appreciate all that their parents do for them today. I am fortunate enough now to have a hubby who is pretty good at telling me how lucky he is to have me raising our kids and making sure they grow up happy and healthy.

So much in life is unexpected. My life today is completely that – unexpected. But appreciated and valued. It’s worth more than any paying job I could do.

So, what happened to me? My kids happened. This move happened. This house happened. And I couldn’t be more grateful.

This time in my house though. I wasn’t feeling well for a few days last week. The fact that I couldn’t do much made my house a total dump come Sunday afternoon. Although I was still not feeling totally stellar, I couldn’t take it any longer. I cleaned up, moved around some furniture and decided to spruce up a wall in our dining area.

I bought a green shelf at goodwill a couple weeks ago for $2. We’d been to the beach earlier in the week where I collected seashells to put in a glass bowl from the dollar store. And I had a sea shell themed thingy that I got at a yard sale a few months ago during a final sale day “everything you can fit in this bag for $5”. I had hubby hang the shelf. He was so nice about it. I only had to glare, mumble, grumble and proclaim I’d do it myself before he finally jumped in to protect his beloved walls.

Since we’d been to the beach a few days earlier, I had fresh off my camera a bunch of family pics at the beach and decided that since it was beachy with the seashells theme I should print some of the photos and put them on the wall too. Off I went to CVS to print photos. Their buy 2 get 1 free special on printing 8x10s was over the week before. But some genius there didn’t take the sticker down off the printer. I printed 6 8x10s and some 4x6s and 5x7s and expected to pay about $20 for the who shebang. I got to checkout and was charged $57!!! Well, I made them give me the buy 2 get 1 free since the sticker was right there and all. And then we discovered that not only had I gotten charged for all of them, but I’d been charged $3 more per 8×10 than I should have. We got it all sorted out and I walked away a happy woman with my photos for the price they should’ve been. You know what is sad though? Not so long ago, I’d have just paid the $57 and assumed I was stupid and did something wrong. I was assertive and asked why the heck it costed so much and saved myself a bunch of cash. While it was all going on, my kids only terrorized the store a little bit.

Off we went to Marshalls for photo frames. I only needed a few since we had a handful at home already. Drew proceeded to terrorize Marshalls as well while I chose the frames.

Got home and did some more mumbling and grumbling to get the photos hung after I arranged them so nicely in their respective frames. And now I have a cute little personalized beachy wall in our dining area. So much better than before where we just had one big photograph of El Capitan in Yosemite. I mean, it’s really cool and all but a bit boring. You can see that in the sidebar to the left.

And now here is what I did to spiffy up our dining area. dining.jpg

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Please try your hardest to ignore that there is stuff on my floor that I didn’t pick up before photographing. I am human afterall and have 2 small children who love to fling things around. And the dresser-as-buffet doesn’t have that stuff on it at the moment. I don’t even really bother to spend time arranging and decorating stuff in places the kids can reach because it never lasts. Right now there are a few bowls and golf balls up there. Every buffet needs golf balls!!

I have this really bad personality trait. I want things and I need things for myself to, you know, stay sane in my life. But I don’t ask for them. I know it’s a fault. I get told so very often that if I need something just to say so. Then other people know and can help me. This falls into all different areas of my life. I don’t like to feel like I have to ask for things in order for them to happen. I guess it all comes down to, in my mind, feeling like people are genuinely doing something they want to if they offer. Otherwise I am just putting them out and I hate that. Hate it. I know it’s not always the case. Sometimes people just don’t know or don’t think of it and would be happy to help once they know that I want or need something.

This happens a lot with hubby and I. I go weeks and week without a moment to myself and then I end up resenting that he never does anything to help me or to give me space. I know he doesn’t think of it on his own. He thinks if I need it, I’ll just take the time for myself. Again, though, I feel like I am putting him out to do that without him offering. I have to get over this, I know. Or else I’ll go more insane than I already am.

So today, when hubs called from work on his lunch break, I asked if he would mind taking the kids to the playground for a while when he got home. I thought he’d mumble and grumble like I am uber bitch of the universe for asking. Astonishingly, he was happy to do so. He got home, took a  shower and headed out with both of them.

For 2 blissful hours, I had the house to myself. I did my cardio pilates DVD which has, embarrassingly, been in it’s wrapper until today even though I bought it like 2 weeks ago. Before the actual exercises started, there was a little blurb about how I was going to learn to strengthen my core muscles, feel more energetic and lose weight. Fabulous! Sign me up! I need all of those things! I got my butt kicked by that DVD. For 50 minutes I did those exercises. I was actually quite proud that for never having done pilates before, I did every move in the DVD and I actually felt the proper muscles being worked. In my favor, I’ve done yoga a lot and they’re quite similar. The good news is that I am not in as bad of shape as I thought but the bad news is I am very far from being able to touch my toes. Oh well, maybe next week.

I did my DVD, then curled up with a glass of wine and a magazine, chatted online for a bit and just overall had a relaxing afternoon. Hubby and the kids got home and none of them wanted anything to do with me. Apparently they started this “we went to the playground together” exclusive club.

I forgot how much just a little me time recharges me, makes me more energized and ready to plug in with my family. It is draining day in and day out just me and the kids from the moment I wake until nearly the moment I go to bed. Today though was different and I liked it!