27.6.17

Kenzie update

I realized Its been a long time since I've done a little update on Mckenzie! She'll be three in 5.5 weeks and I am amazed at the difference that comes almost every month at this age! It's like she's a newborn again learning new skills and tricks every few days. 

Her language has improved a ton and she is speaking in full sentences. Sometimes she is a little slow at completing a thought and you can tell she is searching for the right word in her head. If you give her the chance, she'll complete her sentence using the right words and phrases 70% of the time. She is starting to voice her emotions like "she made me sad" or "I'm having a hard day" or "are you mad at me mom?" Don't worry- that last one had me rethinking all my motherhood behaviors! I can call her on the phone and we talk about her day or I can calm her down if she's upset. She still very much likes to talk through things and that's the fastest way to get out of a tantrum is talk out of it. Either by explaining or putting words to her emotions. 

She loves apples and would eat 3 a day if I let her. And sometimes she does because I'm not in the mood for a battle. She is still a great eater and will try and eat most things. She doesn't really like potatoes but that's the only food I've seen her consistently not like. She still loves oatmeal and cereal and would eat hummus with a spoon. 

She's still napping 2 hours a day and goes down great at night. She's still in her crib and has never once tried to crawl out or fight it. I'm scared of the big girl bed but will start to think about it more after her third birthday. She still loves her puppy and tried to take up the binki again, but after a disastrous weekend when she couldn't have it I told her no more and she's now back to sucking her thumb. 

She can totally get herself undressed and dressed and loves to do it herself. She can also brush her teeth and brush her hair. She's basically an adult. She's wearing her summer clothes from last year and she's getting taller but not much bigger. Still in the 2T range. 

The hardest thing for me right now is her behavior toward Cooper. It's like 50% nice and 50% mean and I don't know how to teach her how to be kind to him. It's a struggle and I'm hoping I can help her somehow. 

My favorite things about her right now:
She's awesome at climbing and using her body. Can go up those kid rock walls and ladders, etc. 
She sticks with things and tries until she can figure it out. And then she practices until she has it mastered 
She's turning really social and loves playing with other kids. Calls everyone her friend
Still goofy and likes to play/goof around. Says "I'm just teasing", "stop talking mom", "you're a good parent"

20.6.17

Divine Simplicity

I do believe my journey into minimalism and living a simple life had some divine intervention. I was beginning to feel restless and dissatisfied in my life. I saw "everyone else" with their bigger homes and more stuff and I started wanting that. And questioning why I didn't get it. I was convinced that to have a productive day  I had to get out of the house and run an errand, or visit the library, or do something structured. I was feeling discontent and I was being ungrateful. 

After learning all I could about this thing called "minimalism" and living simply my life changed for the better. It didn't look too different. I still went grocery shopping-I just stuck to my list and didn't pick up some random summer toys or holiday decor. We still go to the library and to the park- but only on days Kenzie actually wants to go. Not just because "we need to get out of the house because sitting at home isn't good for you." We have more tea parties and watch movies together. She explores and seems less stressed when our agenda isn't overflowing. 

"Whatever God you believe in, He would want you to live a more simple life"

When I heard that quote from a podcast several weeks ago I immediately agreed. Living a more simple life has made me slow down and focus more on my belief in Christ and to be more thankful to God for all the blessings he has given me. It has helped me not be so focused on what others have, but how I can help those around me. It has helped put my priorities back where they should be. 

I don't think stuff is bad. I don't think buying things takes you further away from God. But for me personally, not buying things and having less stuff to worry about has brought me closer to Him. 


14.6.17

Home For Sale

I can't believe I'm typing out these words, but we're moving! Our home is going up for sale this weekend. It started with a "should we sell our house" 10 days ago and here we are. We have lived in our little town home for almost 4 years and we've really loved every minute. When we bought it as a young couple with no kids we felt like we had all the space in the world. And here we are two kids later and we still love this place.

This is where I brought two new babies home from the hospital. This is where my baby girl took her first steps and said her first words. This is where she learned to walk and run and play outside. She's biffed it on every sidewalk around the neighborhood. She knows where all the parks and swings are. This is her home. She can find her way back after we go on a walk and she knows this place like the back of her hand. This area is where we have trained for half marathons and have gone on countless evening walks. This is where we have built our life.

It's crazy how much can happen in 4 years! So much has changed. We have friends here and Kenzie has friends here. We really love it. But we've been told it's time to go on to our next adventure. We weren't planning it. We weren't hoping for it. We thought we'd be here for a few more years at least! But sometimes changes happen overnight. So here I am, typing away when I should be deep cleaning and getting ready for the photographer and open house. We've filled up a handful of boxes so our house looks less like "a family lives here" and more like "YOU could live here". Our walls are empty and our hearts are full.

I'm scared and nervous and excited and anxious and ready and not ready. We plan on living in the same general area so I'm hoping we can still keep the friends and little tot playmates we have made here and I look forward to meeting new people too. I've grown and changed a lot these last 4 years, now it's time to take that new Megan somewhere else and see what happens.

Wish us luck!

8.6.17

Hi baby: bedtime snuggles

Hi my sweet baby boy,

Tonight as I was putting you down for bed you passed out in my arms. I held you and sang a song and you were asleep before the end of the first verse. I don't think that has ever happened. I sat there and snuggled you in my arms for 30 minutes before finally laying you down. It was a dreamy way to end the day. I love you so much. I've said this since the day you were born- you bring peace into my life. You're such a cuddle bug and I'm loving it. Your smile and eyebrow-grin is still going strong all day everyday. You're starting to get up on your hands and knees and I think you'll be crawling in a matter of weeks. You're obsessed with real food and you have drastically cut out the milk you want. You're ready for the good stuff!

As I was holding you tonight staring at your perfect button nose and juicy lips I tried to imagine the boy and man you will grow up to be. Will you be a sweet and mellow dude? Or a crazy kid bouncing off the walls? Will you be kind and happy? Or an angsty teen? Will you have addictions or a mental illness? Will you grow up and live a long and healthy live, or does Heavenly Father have a different plan for you? Will you always be my sweet baby boy? Or will you demand independence and space and call me once a week? Will you be responsible and respectful and hard working? Or will you struggle to find your space in this world? There are so many people that go so many different directions. I can't help but wonder what paths you will choose. What mistakes you make. What decisions will guide your life? I can't imagine the little boy or toddler or teen that you'll grow into (well I can, in my mind you'll be that smiley kid that everyone likes and maybe a little trouble...but we'll see if I'm right). But there is one thing I know about the future. I will always love you and you will always be my sweet baby boy. 

Xoxo
Mom 

6.6.17

The Truth About Living SMALL

So excited to be part of this community and contribute my thoughts to their monthly topic! I hope you enjoy and connect with me over on IG @minimalistmeg

We are a family of 4 (kids 3yo and 7 mo) living in 1,200 sqft. Some people live in much smaller spaces. Some live in much bigger. Bart and I moved in before we had kids. We thought it was huge! After living in apartments in college, a two level town home felt like a castle. Our home comes with two "master bedrooms" so they're both big, have 2 closets and their own bathroom. Our spare room was totally empty until our first child was born. Babies bring a lot of stuff with them. Now our second baby is 6 months old and we are adjusting to our space that now feels less roomy. Before I stumbled upon minimalism I was getting antsy and unsatisfied. But that's a post all on it's own. Now that I have rearranged my priorities and point of view, I am very happy in our home. We have a kitchen, living room, 2 bedrooms. 2.5 baths and a 1 car garage. Here are my thoughts on "the truth about living in a SMALL home" 




SIMPLE- We live in a small space. And we live a pretty simple life. We go to work. We go to the park. We eat dinner together and kiss our babies goodnight. I don't spend my weekends cleaning my home or shopping for more stuff. We don't schedule out every second of our day- and some weeks are less "simple" than others. Our life in a small home probably doesn't look much different from yours. It's simple. 


MANAGEABLE- Not only is living in a small space manageable, it's enjoyable. We make it work. When my second child was born he spent a lot of time napping in my bedroom walk-in closet because it was the darkest, quietest spot in the house. He still takes his afternoon nap in there while my daughter naps in their room. Bart calls him Harry Potter sometimes. But hey- he doesn't seem to mind. We have toys on both levels. We have one couch and 4 kitchen chairs. It's enough. It also makes cleaning SO manageable. Our entire house can be a complete disaster with stuff everywhere and it takes maybe 15 minutes TOTAL to pick everything up and put it away. It takes maybe an hour to scrub/vaccum/deep clean the entire place. 


ABUNDANT- We are very blessed. We have more than 99% of the people in this world. My small home doesn't equal hardship or scarcity of resources. Could we afford a bigger home? Yes. But we find joy and value in the home we are in. We have an abundance of laughs, good food and happy memories in our small home. We sleep on comfy beds, watch TV and movies, go on vacations. The size of your home doesn't equal the size of your happiness. A small home doesn't mean you're living a small life.  

LESS STUFF- With less space automatically comes less stuff. We have a one car garage that actually houses a car- so we have some shelves to one side and that's it. We don't have a lot of holiday decorations. We don't have dozens of bikes and scooters and countless bins of stuff. We don't have a spare bedroom with everything a house guest might need. (a blow up mattress + a few extra towels is what we can offer!) Don't ask me how I was able to find a few thousand items in my 5-day purge back in March! Our closets, cupboards and drawers are a lot less full. But I do still have to be intentional with our organizing and make the most of the space we have been given. We have stuff. We just have less stuff than others. 


LOTS OF LOVE- A loving family can exist in any size home. Big or small- it's the relationships and people inside those 4 walls that matter. We are happy, thriving and content. One day we will live somewhere else. But today is not that day. So we spend our days in close quarters and right on top of each other. We try to fill the "empty" spaces with lots of love. 

I know some people wonder how we live in such a small space, but to be honest- I wonder the same thing about them and their big house! So what's the truth about living in a small family home? Well...the truth is- it's probably just like living in a large family home with 2 little kids. Messy, loud, sometimes stressful, most of the time wonderful 

This post was written for inclusion in the June collection of the Small Family Homes Blog Community. Read below for more writings on the truth about living small from our community of writers. Check back next month for a new topic and posts in the series and follow our community board on Pinterest for the latest small homes and family minimalism pins!

Minimalist Meg -- “The Truth About Living SMALL” : What does living in a small space look like for a family of 4? Probably not a whole lot different from you.

Little Bungalow-- "Less Space, More Happiness" : In a small home, less space doesn’t equal more happiness. Except, of course, when it does.

600 Square Feet and a Baby-- "The Truth About Living in a Small Family Home" : Living small as a family of four is sometimes uncomfortable, a bit awkward and never boring. Sharing the awkward and imperfect of living small with 4 humans that you always wanted to know (or maybe you didn't.)

Shelley Vanderbyl-- "Five Things You Don't Need in a Small Home" : Gatekeeping is about recognizing what things you don't need or want, and trying to keep those objects from coming into your home.
The Streamlined Life-- "The Truth About Living Small: Less Possessions, Greater Value": Just because you're a minimalist family doesn't mean you aren't sentimental.
The Justice Pirate-- "What Small Home Living is Like" : No matter if I lived in a cardboard box or a small home, I just like being with my family, who are my home.

Our Nest in the City-- "The Truth About Living in a Small Family Home" : My post gives three challenges to living in a small home with our family of five, and counters them with three ways we "cope" and thrive despite it all :)
Fourth and West-- "You Can't Have it All" : Small space living requires compromise and sacrifice.

RISING*SHINING-- "The Truth About Living in a Small(ish) Family Home" : A smaller home is why we're able to live such a full life.


Family At Sea-- "The Meaning of Space: Thoughts from a Former Tiny Home Mom" : After moving onto a boat, I thought the hard work of decluttering and downsizing was done, but I didn't realize that living in a tiny space was the beginning of the real work of the soul.

Real Food Simple Life-- "The Realities of Living in a Small Home with a Big Family" : A look into the benefits and challenges that a family of 6 (going on 7) experiences living together in an 800 square foot home in Scotland.

Tiny Ass Camper-- "I Didn't Know Tiny Living Was For Me" : My thoughts on the give and take of living tiny.

Family Pedals-- "Location Trumps Size" : The truth is, it has been our home's location--not size--that has determined our happiness in a given space

5.6.17

3 Weeks of Whole30

Now I know what you're thinking "Um, Megan....whole30 is something you do for 30 days...hence the name?" and you're correct. Except we only did it for 3 weeks so let's call is Whole21 for this post shall we?

4 weeks ago Bart started up the conversation about how he was feeling exhausted all the time, was emotionally eating (he was at the peak of the business between end of school, start of summer football and start of a new semester for his masters) and just overall not feeling super awesome about himself. So of course I immediately took advantage of his vulnerability and said we should do Whole30! It's not a secret that I have stuck to an anti-inflammatory diet for the last 4 years, but Whole30 is even different and "more strict" than that! So after some discussing and "but can I just have ranch and one cheat meal? (no and no)" he finally agreed to do it with me. This is the FIRST TIME EVER Bart has agreed to do something like this with me that actually had real rules with no exceptions and a required length of time. I was totally pumped because I see so much value in real food and it's connection with health that I knew this would be awesome for him. I was also looking forward to having some motivation for myself too.

So I make a menu, stock up on food and we get this party started. I think Bart asked "how do we feel about Ranch?" multiple times that first week- but he stuck to it! I have to say it was totally easy for me to do this kind of restrictive eating when he was along for the ride. We both had the same things for dinner. I didn't have to worry about adding anything to his plate. He complained about the situation, but not about me and my cooking :) I finally had my person on board with the boring and depressing way I had to eat- haha!

We got the hang of it and got sick of eating eggs for breakfast. Our new favorite snack was a heated up apple sausage with mustard on it. mmmm. Bart ate more vegetables than he had in the last year combined. I was more motivated and did much better too. I usually can have corn and rice, but Whole30 says nay, so we didn't. That was an adjustment for both of us, but I realized I am totally good without it! Bart really missed rice and tortillas, but seemed to be fine without bread. He also really missed his milk. I can usually eat dairy, but Whole30 says nope to that too, and again, I didn't miss cheese or yogurt that much at all! Sure, those things are convenient and make for a quick healthy snack, but not having them wasn't a big issue for me. Bart did fine without them too (although we both agreed cheese makes EVERYTHING taste better).

The hardest thing for both of us was our craving for sweets. A sweet at the end of a long day or on a Sunday night when the kids are in bed- let's just say we tried to fill that void with a smoothie or a bowl of fruit but it didn't quite hit the spot. I am so proud of Bart for staying away from Pepsi! Even though our Whole21 has ended (more on that later) he still hasn't had any soda. Proud wife moment.

Bart lost about 7 pounds almost instantly and I've lost 5 this past month. We weren't too motivated to exercise religiously so I say that's a pretty nice side effect! Bart didn't say "I'm tired" ONCE  that first week and didn't need a Saturday nap (which was pretty awesome). I could tell he was seeing a change, even if he wasn't super vocal about it, because he really didn't complain or ask if we could be done. (okay, so he only did that a handful of times.)

To be honest, we stopped at 21 days because we were both just over it! Bored of the food, and straight up sick of all the time it took to cook/prep. We also felt like we had gained some really good habits and broke a lot of our bad ones (there's something about that 21 day mark!) We also had a discussion before we officially stopped and decided what we wanted to add back in. So we are saying yes to rice (even though I'll probably not include that just because I've been fine without it) and milk for him (but not the rest of the dairy products) and then a sweet treat on the weekends. Whole30 has SO MUCH PREP WORK in the kitchen. Like soooo many dishes and time spent prepping and cooking and cleaning. It can feel a bit much sometimes. But I tried to embrace it and find recipes that were realistic for us to cook and enjoy without taking hours to make. I should note that Kenzie ate mostly what we did, but did have yogurt and sandwiches for lunches here and there.

As much as I hated spending all that time in the kitchen, I was reminded of how warped our perception of eating has become. Our grandparents or great-grandparents spent all day in the kitchen cooking for the next meal. Real food means real cooking. And I'm trying to embrace that. We don't eat prepackaged/premade dinners anyway, but something about these specific food restrictions made it feel like we spent a lot more time prepping and cooking.

When we officially ended the first thing I ate was a bowl of plain cheerios with almond milk. It was so good- and then I INSTANTLY got a headache. -cue the eye roll emoji here- Despite it being gluten free, and only having 2 grams of sugar per serving, my body wasn't super happy about it. My autoimmune disease will always have a big impact on how my body reacts to things and at this point I've just gotten used to it!

So here is a sample menu from one of the weeks:

Breakfast:
Banana pancakes
Fried egg "sandwich" (fried egg on top and bottom with a piece of turkey in the middle)
Sweet potato hash
Scrambled eggs + fruit
Egg muffins
Sausage + veggie hash
Omlets

Lunch:
Leftovers!
Salsa chicken lettuce wraps
Turkey wraps (turkey, lettuce, bacon, avocado)
Salad

Dinner:
Fried cauliflower rice
Chicken poppers
Taco soup
Spaghetti squash + marinara sauce
Salmon + veggies
Pot roast + veggies
Veggie soup
Grilled chicken strip salad

Snacks:
Veggies + hummus
Apple + peanut butter
Fruit
Mixed nuts
Leftovers
Turkey slices


So as you can see, there's nothing fancy about this menu! It's just whole, real food. We didn't make any "whole30 ranch" or our own mayo. We just stuck with what was naturally whole food.

One of my favorite things about doing a restrictive diet like this for a set amount of weeks, is that it helps reset your eating habits. It teaches you what "hungry" feels like, and it helps your mind get over the thought that you really NEED that the-kids-survived-another-day-and-you-deserve-a-treat moment that comes every other night. I don't think it's realistic to do this long term, but I would recommend it to anyone who feels like their eating habits are out of control. Because learning to control your eating and diet is such an empowering feeling! Not to mention your body loves you for it too :)

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