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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Finding Contentment In My Home

I really didn’t mean to paint a picture of great discontent in my house with my last post.  I’m really not unhappy, and I really do love my home.  I was just trying to give the reasons for which we were discussing moving last year.  I could recreate the list of reasons why we wanted to move, but I thought it might be more conducive to my new resolve for contentment if I gave you some reasons for which I love my house.  So here it goes:

1.  All of my kids were brought here when they were born, and this is the only home they’ve ever known.  I’m not sentimental, but it’s cool.
small house, three kids
2.  My mother-in-law lives right across the street, so it’s nice to not only see her but to crash the get-togethers when everyone else comes over to visit her.  It keeps us in the loop more, and my kids know their family a lot better as a result.

3.  I’ve almost succeeded in remodeling every single surface in the interior of the house, save the kitchen cabinets and counters.  That means that it’s totally custom!  I have it looking so that it reflects our family-vibe well, and it’s always morphing to fit our needs or whims.  (And honestly, I don’t have the patience or the energy to remodel another bigger house.)

4.  It’s small, but that means there’s less to clean.  It also means that the kids are easier to keep track of.


5.  I love my hardwood floors.  And the expense of putting them in a new house (with more square footage) isn’t appealing. 


6.  The elementary school that the kids will all go to is one of the best in our town.  People transfer from all over town to go there, which means there’s high parent involvement, too.


7.  Living in a small house forces us to live simply, and living simply is such a great value of mine that I really am grateful for that.  I love that every furniture purchase or organizational task has to be thought out with great effort and detail so as to maximize usefulness and minimize space costs.

8.  I just like old houses and old neighborhoods.  I feel like the houses are well built, and I like that there are grown trees in the neighborhood.  I also like that there is little risk in terms of where the neighborhood is going.  It has a track record.  I also like that there are other people just like us in the neighborhood that like old houses and remodel their homes all crazy like us, too. 

9.  Did I mention it’s paid off?  I love having money to do other things, as I mentioned in my previous post.

10.  Contentment is so important for me and my sanity and my marriage.  And, for me at least, it's such a slippery slope in regard to wanting and getting more.  And that doesn't mean that if I get a bigger house I'm going to just want an even bigger one after a few years, but if I don't practice contentment, then that could very likely happen.  That's pretty much a major reason that our country is in the shape that it's in - people kept wanting more and getting more.  So instead of tempting myself with that slippery slope, I think I'll just practice contentment instead, because you know what, I have a pretty great life.  :)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Living Like No One Else

I don’t know if you remember this, but a while back I was really getting new-house-fever.  I wanted something bigger, nicer, cooler – something I’d be a little more proud to invite people over to. 
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We currently have a tiny house that was built in 1955 (not in any of these pictures) in a neighborhood that’s……meh – I don’t know – nothing to get excited about.  But, you know what, the house is paid off, and that makes it look a hell of a lot better!   
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So our long-term plan had been to save money so that we could buy a bigger house when Samuel got into junior high, about 6 years from now.  But gosh, that’s so flipping daunting and depressing because we’d have to save 20-25% of Michael’s take-home pay a month to be able to do that.  And we’re just now getting to a point where we’re where we want to be savings-wise.  So saving for that house just seems like it would make things unnecessarily burdensome when we could just learn to be content where we’re at.  (“What?!  Why on earth would someone say that?!  That’s stupid,” they seemed to say…)
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So we were talking about painting the outside of our house at some point this year when we have the cash for it (to create at least a tiny attempt at curb appeal), so we went driving around taking phone pictures of the houses that we liked their paint colors on to get ideas (I do this a lot – totally looking like a private investigator or, more likely, stalker).  We ended up in this one neighborhood that I’ve been drooling over for a few years now (only one pic is from there because their brick isn’t cheap enough to paint), and Michael asked if I still wanted to live there.  I said, “You know, it’d be nice, but I’d rather go to Europe every year.”
WP_000187Upsizing life and downsizing lifestyle – that’s our philosophy on money right now.  Living like no one else, so that we can live like no one else.  Perhaps if we had a double-income we could have it all, but since we don’t, we have to choose what would give us the life that we want.  And having a single income was a lifestyle choice as well, so I’m not complaining at all, just recognizing that it was what we wanted. 
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This trip that we took to Prague was my first time ever in Europe – ever!  And I left with such a desire for more adventure and enrichment in my life and in the lives of my family.  I’d so rather go to Europe or Japan or Australia or Alaska or wherever than have a bigger, better house.  And I think my kids would be better off traveling the world than having their own rooms. 

But you know me; I’m fickle.  I could totally change my mind in another year or so, but that’s why I wrote this post – to remind myself of what I’m thinking at this moment.  Who knows? 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Prague Pics

I was a little too busy to show you these in a more cool way, but if you want to see the complete set of Prague pictures, you're welcome to look at this or just go to the album here. Warning: there are lots of plain ol' camera phone pics in there, but most are not.  ;)  Enjoy!

Recovery Happenings

I really thought that I'd be blogging more while I was laid up in bed, but I've actually been very distracted.  Let's see...what have I been doing?

Well, I ordered some pretty necklaces from Carmella.  I got the "Fly" and "Grow" ones.  Aren't they cute! 

I started reading the Hunger Games, finally!  (I'm borrowing Michael's Kindle that I got him for Christmas.)  It's pretty good at keeping you interested, but I find it a bit reaching - like the author was trying too hard to be shocking. But I'm no book critic, so what do I know?  I obviously like it enough to continue reading it.
Amazon
I'm also helping Michael design an app for the Windows Phone that's a Time Out Timer.  He's entering some contest that is giving away like 200 of the nice, new Windows Nokia phones (because he now hates HTC).  So if you have a Windows Phone, get this timer when it comes to the Marketplace!  (I'll post when it gets approved.)
time out timer app, windows phone time out timer app, time out timer app for windows phone
 time out timer app, windows phone time out timer app, time out timer app for windows phonetime out timer app, windows phone time out timer app, time out timer app for windows phonetime out timer app, windows phone time out timer app, time out timer app for windows phone

I also thought that I would want to share more about my Prague trip, but I figured y'all were probably tired of hearing about it, so I put my efforts into making a photo album of the trip.  I really like doing this, and I wish I would have done this with ALL of the thousands of pictures that I have stored on my computer already.  Ugh, it does make me realize how behind I am on printing pictures.  There's pretty much no hope of ever catching up right now, especially since I take forever to make the albums since I'm too picky.
shutterfly alums, prague photos, czech republic photos, terezin, karlsteijn castle

What else...well, I have another day (at least) until I get my drains out.  Gross, I know.  How do you think I feel?!  I try not to think about them too much because it really freaks me out.  If you want to know gory details, then read on.  If not, then go to the next paragraph....So the two drains go in at the bottom of my scar and travel all the way up to about an inch below my diaphragm, and I can feel them just below the surface of my skin.  They're sewn in to my skin at the bottom so that they don't come out.  They're attached to these deflated bulbs that I have to drain and measure every twelve hours.  Plus, I have to clean the entry site at that point, too.  Hopefully the drainage measurements will be low enough tomorrow for them to take them out.  Otherwise I'll probably have to wait until Monday.  I can't go anywhere with these things because I can't wear normal clothes, just baggy pajama pants or skirts (of which I have just one).

Okay, so I've been bemoaning the fact that Michael doesn't think it's a good idea to show my "before" pic, so I had a great idea.  I would find one online that was similar to mine so that you could understand just the exact reason that I got the surgery.  Because every time I tell someone I had it done, they say, "Oh yeah, wish I could do that, too."  But like, I've seen their tummies, and they're fine!  Mine was ridiculous!  I mean, seriously, ridiculous!  So I looked through hundreds of Google images, and I couldn't even find one that looked like mine.  Bah!  Oh well.  

What else...oh, we're also redoing our wills (gotta make a few changes since Isaac was born and my name is different now).  Do you have your wills in order?  I sure hope so; it's so darn important.  

AND, we went through this list from Simple Mom to make plans for the upcoming year.  I can't recommend it enough!  SO SO SO good!!!!!  Here are just a few of the questions:
  • What healthy character traits would you like to see developed in your life this year? What are some specific steps you can take to develop these?
  • What are your plans for having regular date nights? How will you handle childcare?
  • Do you have specific planned vacation time in mind for this year? What needs to happen to make this vacation a reality?
  • How is your current physical living space working for your family? Do you need to make changes to this? If so, what are they?
  • What are your children’s strengths? How will you help them use these well?
  • What are some of your long-term financial goals? In what ways can you make progress on them this year?
  • In what specific way would you like to grow in relating to your friends this year?
Aren't those good!?  Anyway, I've rambled on long enough.  I hope you're all having good weeks.  Thank you for all of the well-wishes and love that you've given me.  Y'all are some good folks!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

So maybe I had a little surgery…

I was telling the whole world that I wanted a tummy tuck, and now that the time is here, I’m a little embarrassed that everyone knows.  Michael’s boss even knows, for crying out loud – how embarrassing is that!  Oh well, it is what it is. 

I think the embarrassment comes in me thinking that people will assume that I got the tuck for weight loss reasons or an easy way out.  That was the main reason that I had wanted to show the before picture – to show that the weight was gone, but the skin and muscles were jacked.  I didn’t get lipo, I swear! 

When my doctor looked at my abdomen he said, “Oh you poor thing.”  LOL!  He said I was the perfect candidate because I was in shape, had very little fat (aww yeeah!), and that I would gain more core strength by my abs coming back together (which will make me a stronger runner - woohoo!).  He said he didn’t understand how my abs got so far apart, so I showed him this picture…
pregnancy belly, 38 weeks pregnant, stretched belly
...to which he said, "Oh man!  That doesn't even look real!  It's like a torpedo coming outta there!"  book
ANYWAY!  I’m just really glad that the surgery is over and done with.  Michael is the best for handling the kids while I heal.  One plus is that I get a lot of time to read.  I actually finished “The Help” which I didn’t know was a movie already.  Dude, I'm out of the loop.
tummy tuck, abdominoplasty, hospital room
And this is hopefully the last hospital room I’ll sleep in for a long time!tummy tuck, abdominoplasty, hospital room
This is how far I can straighten out one day post-op.  It's pretty much the same today, two days post-op.  My back hurts if I stand too long because of hunching over with little core strength.  Today I'm all puffy and swollen.  I gained like 5 pounds in water weight.  AND I may or may not be still wearing this green shirt, but I swear I’m taking a shower right after I finish this post! 

Friday, January 13, 2012

Isaac's First Birthday...Party

Well, in case you're wondering, I survived my tummy tuck!  This last few weeks has been a whirlwind.  First it was the holidays, which were really good this year but just busy getting ready for our trip.  Then we went to Prague and had an awesome time, all of which wouldn't have been possible without the immense generosity of my totally giving and selfless sil and bil watching our boys.  (Shout out Sharon and John!)

Then I had to bump up my sweet baby's first birthday party (which I was already feeling extreme guilt for having missed his actual birthday since I was overseas) because the doctor's office wanted to schedule my surgery sooner than I was counting on.  So I planned the whole party in all of two days (one to clean, one to plan), but I thought it went really well.
Balloon doorway decorations - cute, right?
We had the family over, and had Jimmy John's sandwiches and Target cake (which I think is super tasty for store bought cake).  The cake made everyone's mouth's blue, and we were all laughing at each other not knowing that we had blue mouths ourselves.

I also had everyone write letters to Isaac for him to open on his 18th birthday.  I helped them out by coming up with some leading remarks.  I think that's going to be super fun in 17 years from now!
Also, this was my first baby to have real cake on his birthday.  :-P  With Samuel I didn't let him have any sugar until he was two years old.  With Levi it ended up being somewhere in between one and two.  But both of them had unsweetened pancakes with yogurt and blueberries for their "birthday cake".  I thought it was super cute, but Michael still makes fun of me for it.  With Isaac, though, well, he is the third kid and all, so he's had sugar already.  I gave in and let him have birthday cake, and it sure was cute.  My oh my! 
Michael and Isaac (he's such a good daddy) - BTW, the nail-polished hand is my niece's not Michael's.  Haha!
He was so excited when his cousin blew the candle out for him.  Too cute!
I don't think I've ever seen him eat anything so quickly in his little life!
And it's safe to say that he loved it.  :)
And then he reminded me what happens when you give babies sugar.
He was angry and confused, and he didn't know why.
I had no choice but to give him a birthday party bath. 
Then he was nice and cozy in his jammies and opening presents with his Mimi, and all was right with the world again.
I have so much more to blog about!  I want to share some more pics of Prague, and I want to tell you all about my tummy tuck!  I just have to stay awake long enough to complete a sentence, and we'll be good to go.  ;)

Sunday, January 8, 2012

My Prague Trip in a Nutshell

Hey y’all!  I’m on my long flight home from Prague, on the second leg of the journey from London to Dallas.  My battery isn’t going to hold up much longer, but we’ll see how long it lasts me.  I thought I’d give you a wrap up of my trip while it’s fresh on my mind. 
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So I mentioned the graffiti the other day, and I was talking to a Czech friend of ours, and he had an interesting thought on the matter.  He said that when he came to America for the first time, he thought it was very dirty, and he thinks that Prague is very clean.  So it’s just what your eyes and your mind get used to.  We tend to not see the mess in our own cities but notice it right away in others’.  That’s definitely true for me.  I totally wasn’t bothered by the mess anymore by about day 3 and actually started noticing how clean and free of trash the streets were.  I pretty much fell in love with Prague by that time – like ooey-gooey love!
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I did get a little lonely, even when I was with Michael.  It just seems a little emotionally taxing being inside of a culture that you’re not a part of.  I would have liked to have had a Czech friend along the way showing me around.  I did do tours (which I loved), but I was mostly the only American and English speaker.  I guess that’s just my need to relate.  I don’t know if that’s an American thing or a girl thing or what.  I hired a tour guide one day that laughed about how some of her American clients would show her pictures of their kids by the end of the day (as I slowly put my picture-full phone back in my pocket).
WP_000118I loved the food!  Not only was it delicious (we didn’t have one bad meal – and my puffy face is proof of that), but it was what I like to call honest food.  There was nothing that was highly processed, and the portions were proper (not too big but not too small).  There was only one place that I saw that had artificial sweetener (our hotel); everywhere else had just real sugar.  I didn’t see one single piece of fluffy, white, overly soft bread, just real, hearty, wheat bread.  And wine is so cheap!  A bottle at dinner only cost between $10 and $25USD as opposed to the $40-60 you’d pay (at a restaurant) on average here in the States.  IMG_0803
I really really loved learning about the culture.  Prague had been kind of a mystery to me, but through the tour guides I learned so much about their history.  It was really fascinating. 
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I loved my trip.  I love traveling.  I really want to take Samuel (my oldest) on a Europe trip when he’s about 6-7.  I think he would love it, and I can’t wait to share that with him. 
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I’m having surgery on Thursday, and while I’m laid up in bed recovering I plan to show you some more pictures of my excursions.  Smile

Friday, January 6, 2012

Graffiti in Prague

The other day I had made this comment on Facebook:
I gotta be honest...I love Prague, but I don't get why everyone was telling me that it's so beautiful. I find it to be pretty dirty and not that attractive. I love it and am having a GREAT time, but it's not much of a looker.
Then later that day I was going through my pictures (the ones that I posted yesterday), and I felt bad about saying it wasn’t pretty, like I was gossiping about a close friend or something. I fell in love with Prague through the lens of my camera.

Here is some of the graffiti of which I was speaking:
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This is taken from my hotel window.

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This is also taken from my hotel window.
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This is in a really touristy area near the Old Town Square.
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This is on the walk from Wenceslas Square to my hotel.
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This is also on the walk from Wenceslas Square to my hotel.
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...again, on the way to my hotel.
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This is on the same street as my hotel.
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This is right next door to my hotel.  Don't get my wrong, though, the hotel is very nice.
But I’m even falling in love with the grime now!  Yeah, I think it could use a good scrub down, but I’ve accepted it.  I love Prague, warts and all. 

I can’t wait to show you the Jewish Quarter and Karlstejn Castle!  Stay tuned!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

How to Take a Picture in Prague

So I don’t know if this is  a common phenomenon or not, but once I had children I seem to have forgotten how to smile for a camera.  I seriously look ridiculous in all of my pictures.  The ones that I post on my blog or on Facebook are about .01% of the actual pictures taken of me.  I delete all of the rest of them. 

Michael brilliantly captured this mysterious paradox tonight.  We went to the symphony here in Prague at the Rudolfini, and even though you are not supposed to take pictures in there, we snuck a few by with my phone. 

Before I get to the pictures, let me just say that the symphony was amazing!!!!  It was like a dream being in there – really amazing and memorable. 

Onto the ridiculousness….
Prague Rudolfinum
First shot out of the camera, and Michael takes this one.  No fair.  Notice that we’re in jeans and totally casual clothes and everyone else isn’t.

So here’s me….some are blurry, just to warn ya…
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What is wrong with me!!??  Are you ready for the pièce de résistance?  Michael told me that he was taking pictures when he was really taking a video.  I’m such a hopeless idiot when it comes to taking decent photos.
Prague RudolfinumPrague Rudolfinum
Here’s me in front of the Rudolfinum concert hall.  Not so bad.  Smile with tongue out

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