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"called to build the kingdom first through the romance and adventure of our home..."

 

Post 68 | Skincare + Make-Up Research

"Her face told him things which he was glad to know.”
― A.A. Milne

I mentioned in my last post that I've been researching skin care and beauty items. A few people (don't be misled... like, three people!) asked what it was that I had bought and if I liked it. So here's my disclaimer (I'm so defensive hahah): I LOVE research. And I don't know much about make-up (though a smidge about skincare, as I explain below)... but man did I get into skin and make-up research! 

One of my favorite quirky-memories of Caleb and I is when I decided I wanted to do a preppy. classic little boy room for Rowdy's nursery and it needed a Persian rug. We spent about three weeks worth of free time going to every single rug outlet, sale, shop, store, tent, and warehouse we could find. I knew NOTHING about rugs beforehand, but those weeks we learned quite a bit (including the worth of these expensive, beautiful rugs...). Now, without fail, if there is an authentic Persian or Oriental rug anywhere we are we point it out to each other. We flip a corner over to confirm that it is indeed woven and not a sewn-on fringe. We guess the price based on the color and measurements. We've become weird rug people. (And just for the sake of the story: we ended up buying a $60 rug on Amazon because our eyes and tastes were bigger than our budget. Ha!)

BACKSTORY: ACNE
(Products below, so skip this story if that's all you're looking for!)

Between the ages of of 12 and 22 I dealt with severe, cystic acne. During this time I was a humorous mix of extremely conservative athlete and then traveling, business owner, "independent woman." My nickname after high school was "Hollywood" in my group of friends because of my big sunglasses, chandelier earrings, colorful outfits and heels I loved to wear (while they were usually in hoodie sweatshirts and jeans.) However, throughout high school I was almost exclusively wearing oversized men's clothes (I shopped for shorts in the men's department. 100% true.) or sportswear/uniforms. I liked feeling powerful and sweaty, yet also liked lovely and composed.

All this to say, my mom bought me BareMinerals make-up (which I used the most), as well as Clinique skin care and Merle Norman make-up (a brand I had actually seen used at a wedding and was amazed at how well it lasted all day... I had to hunt down the make-up artist later and ask her what she used). These were the "name brands" of foundation and "face make-up" I used, plus plenty of other regular drugstore stuff that my skin haaaatttteeddddd.

In those ten years I went on Accutane three separate times. We (my mom, sweet thing, worked so hard to help me try to find solutions) tried everything. ProActiv, Neutorgena, Clearasil, Biore, Aveeno, Cetaphil, Burt's Bees, herbal/natural/essential oil, drying lotion, luxury brands, homemade concoctions, steaming, multiple oral and topical prescriptions, and honestly probably two dozen other "systems." My acne hurt. It made me cry. I didn't want to leave the house, but I'd have to so I would put on so much foundation, concealer, and powder to feel presentable... but all of that would make my break-outs worse. It was such a viscous cycle. And it feels helpless when you are trying everything yet it keeps getting worse.  Everyone looks at your face, and acne is a pretty unsavory thing to look at. It's no joke.

Accutane really saved me from this issue and it was my last ditch chance... I had truly tried everything else. My dermatologist put me on it for eight months the first time because it was such an intense case (usually a cycle would be for 4-6 months). It worked unbelievably well. People were commenting on my "airbrushed" and "porcelain" skin. Not only was the acne gone, but the scars and visible pores were too... it was so exciting! But my young adult hormones and "perfect storm" life situations (like playing indoor sports in the winter, for example) caused my acne to come back even worse a second and third time (something that my dermatologist said was extremely rare).

I was on Accutane for the last time when Caleb and I were dating. When I went in to start the process this third time I had "100+ (she stopped counting at 100) active papules, pustules, cystics, and nodules." I remember reading that on my report. So intense. I finished it a few months before we got engaged, and it's never come roaring back (just "normal" pimples and simple break-outs). I do have lots of scars and a moon-like texture of skin in some places, but it's such a drastic improvement that I'm left completely happy!

So here's where all this combines: being such an "extreme opposite" person mixed with lamenting my acne for so long... I got lazy/comfortable/balanced/content/whatever-you-want-to-call-it the last five years! Though I have nothing near perfect skin, I've been SO THRILLED to have decent skin... skin that I don't have to slather in a full-face of make-up before leaving the house... that I basically never wear make-up! I probably average 3-4 times a month. I also got into a bad habit of hardly ever washing or moisturizing my face (especially since I didn't have make-up on I had to take off). I don't take not having extreme acne for granted!

Last year while I was pregnant with Summer I spent a lot of nauseous hours reading and researching to distract me. And since I couldn't read about food and travel because it would make me feel more sick, I did read about many other interesting subjects that I normally don't... and one that kept coming up was skin care! I won't lecture about it since there are many other more educated and well-stated pieces out there (I would start at Into The GlossJenni Raincloud, and these two Isabelle Bellis videos -- so soothing!). However, this all caused me to start noticing and writing down the products I would see friends and people I follow online recommending.  This little master list has been in my Notes app on my phone the last year. (I LOVE research.) After hoarding some gift cards, and then getting some more for Christmas I decided it was time to make the purchases to add to my current regime.

Below I have what is actually in my bathroom, and what I have either used for years, or bought to use after much research. I feel like the luxury beauty world as a whole can be so elite and pretentious (Ha. Maybe that's just the luxury world.) but I want to be super down-to-earth here. My skin ain't your skin so look into it before you invest money. Money matters! But here's what I'm doing right now, some days. 

My "ideal" face would be naturally sun-tanned (not burned), blemish-free, with a healthy glow, cherry chapstick, and mascara and eye-liner... and maybe a few noses freckles. Natural, fresh, simple, and "happy-faced." I don't have that "ideal" face anymore (and I sure didn't appreciate it when I was 10!) but when I'm taking care of my skin and doing make-up, that is my goal. After watching so many YouTube reviews I realize more than ever how NOT a make-up pro, or even hobbyist, I am! I just want good products that work well, make my face look its best, and do their job. I include links to all products for where I found them for the best price (to the best of my ability) and nothing on here is sponsored. Without further ado, here's what I have:

SKIN CARE

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  • I'm making an effort to really take care of my skin twice a day. Start fresh, end clean. It doesn't happen perfectly... but that's what I've been mostly doing the last couple months.
  • Of the many dozens and dozens of face washes I've tried, the system my first dermatologist (kind of a strange, Wonka-ish fellow) recommended olive oil and sugar (not salt) to exfoliate, Dr. Bronner's castile bar soap to wash, and Ceravae CREAM (not lotion) to moisturize. For my skin, I've never found a better system to clean, brighten, tighten, and even. And it's so cheap...! $20 for three months? Or more? Can't beat it.
  • First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream This moisturizer kept showing up as a "must-have" on my feeds... so I decided to give it a try! I do love it. I now use it in the morning, with my heavier, thicker Ceravae cream at night. My skin definitely has a "brightness" to it that goes away if I don't use my moisturizers for even a day or two.
  • Boots Botanics 82% Organic Cleanser + Make-Up Remover I use this as my make-up remover at night before washing my face! Love it!
  • GlamGlow FlashMud I heard this name "accidentally" while YouTube hopping watching make-up reviews. But the gals who used it gave it a thumbs up! So I decided to try it last month. IT. SMELLS. SO. GOOD. I wish it was a perfume! And my skin feels amazing afterwards! So I'm happy.
  • Mario Badescu Rosewater This little tugboat gets rave reviews eeeeeverywhere. I heard once that misting your face before moisturizer (and certainly applying make-up) helps your pores to open up and "accept" the product being put on. I'm not sure about all that, but I will say... the smell alone is worth it! Just plain fresh. And it does make my skin softer, which is great since my skin is on the rougher side thanks to aaaacne scaaaars (*said in Oprah voice*)!
  • Two other tips I've heard along the way, that actually seem to work for me are: drinking coconut water to get "that glow" and rubbing an ice cube on your face in the morning to tighten pores and improve circulation. Look into it yourself if you're interested, but I do both of these almost every day.

Here is me after the previous process... exfoliating, washing, moisturizing, rose-water-ing, etc. See the acne scars on my cheeks? I have even more on the other side. Also, I didn't edit or put any filters on these pictures so you could see "the real deal" as best as possible.

Foundation + Lighting

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This side-by-side is before and after Smashbox's Photo Finish green primer. The green helps cancel out the redness. As you can see on the right my face looks more "grey"/yellow... in some ways even less healthy and more sickly. But the red is quite gone. This is my goal since I have so much hyper-pigmentation from acne scars, then also just lots of red around my nose and cheeks naturally. I LOVE this neutralizer that gets my tone on the same page before applying any make-up.

  • Smashbox Photo Finish Primer (info about it in above caption... you can also get sample sizes for about $16 at Sephora and on Amazon)
  • Giorgio Armani Liquid Silk Foundation This foundation got amazing feedback from everywhere I saw it... but, you know, it's Kim Kardashian's favorite foundation. There isn't much I would look to Kim K for advice on, but I have to admit: I assume she knows her make-up! And could have anything she wants! I went to Nordstrom to buy it and the make-up artist there put it on my face (along with some other products they were trying to sell ;) ). I wear No. 5. And it is definitely the best foundation I've ever used personally. It's pricey... but I had a gift card ;) And expensive make-up does last longer than drugstore make-up since you need less of it to do the same job. (Some runner-ups for me that I see everywhere, especially at weddings, are Makeup For Ever Ultra HD Invisible Cover Foundation, Lancôme Teint Idole Ultra Foundation, and NARS All-Day Luminous Foundation. Good luck to you in your endevours and foundation-finding! Ha!)
  • e.l.f Lifting Concealer If I'm going to buy cheap, it's almost always e.l.f brand... because it's so cheap. And yet shows up on "Best-of" lists everywhere! The main cheapness factor of e.l.f make-up is that it doesn't last very long. In my opinion it goes on well, I don't break out when I wear it, and the colors are great! But you have to "keep it up" throughout the day, as opposed to "brand" make-up. But hey... for $3 instead of $30... sometimes you just go ahead and keep it up. 
  • e.l.f Beautifully Bare Blush Pretty obsessed with this! Someday I'll get pricey blush, but for now I can reapply this a few times when I'm wearing it. It's such a flattering, subtle color that does a lot of work and blends in beautifully!
  • BECCA x Jaclyn Hill Shimmering Skin Highlighter in Champagne Pop If I had to have only three things in my possession to "get ready," this would be in my arsenal. Everyone was so right. LOVE this highlighter!
  • Bahama Mama Bronzer Not too orange, not to brown/wrong-skin/color. Not too shimmery, not too muddy or flat. Healthy, blendable, and soft. Can't beat it!
  • BS-Mall Brushes LOVE LOVE LOVE... and the whole set of 10 brushes is $10ish on Amazon. And has 4.5 stars with over 6000 reviews on Amazon! So I'm not alone in my thumbs-up!
  • Bare Minerals Powder, Medium Bare Minerals is my comfort zone with make-up and I feel like I know it. I know what I want and need it to do, and it can. Other powders exist that are "better," I'm sure... but when I test them in stores I always feel like they aren't quite right for me. So my trusty Bare Minerals lives on!
  • e.l.f High Definition Powder, Soft Luminance, $6. "Blurring" powder to blend, soften, and smooth. Pretty solid. When I do save up and spend money on HD powder I want to try this one from Crunchi (a company that is organic, toxin-free, and cruelty-free. That "boat" is a whole other level... eventually I want to explore more of the organic, toxic-free make-up. But, alas, baby steps.)

This set is after doing my face make-up (so no eyes or lips yet). Golden and smooth... I'll take it!

EYES + LIPS

  • Urban Decay All-Nighter Eye Liner I read once that for daytime make-up you choose eyes or lips to "go big" on, and for evening make-up you amp up both. I'm an eyes-girl and prefer simple colors on my lips (but I ADORE bold colors on so many other people! I wish I loved it on me!) Anyways, I like my eyeliner and mascara nice and black to give the best contrast and pop. Got this one at Nordstrom Rack for $5 and it's great!
  • SmashBox PhotoOp Eye Brightening Mascara Smudge-proof and flake-proof! Gotta love it! It isn't clumpy or "over the top," yet dark and smooth. I really love it! But honestly, I like my classic L'oreal Voluminous just as much... and it's $5.89! I've been using it since high school. I got the SmashBox mascara at Nordstrom Rack for $8, but I wouldn't spend more on it.  
  • NYX Rollerball, Nude Get two for $6 on Ulta right now! I use this every time I wear make-up. It's for sure a go to!
  • Merle Norman Trio + Clinique Trio (Both I've had since we were engaged, and they don't exist anymore in-stores... but they're my eyebrow color and "evening eyes" color!
  • Naked2 by Urban Decay With 4.9 stars and over 4000 reviews on their site, and probably in the bag of every wedding make-up artist I've ever seen... this has been on my list to try for a while! I bought it used on Poshmark for only $30 plus shipping! That Half-Baked tone is as good as everyone says it is... it's this really is the lasting, blendable, play-able eye shadow everyone raves about!
  • Bare Minerals Matte Liquid Lipcolor, Cookie You know how I said the Jaclyn Hill highlight would be one of my three items if I had to choose? This would be also. Love love love love. I will be buying more of these in more shades and probably using them forever.
  • Stila Coconut Crush Lip Stain If I want my lip color to really last I put on this lip stain, with Trader Joe's chapstick (which is my favorite) on top, then the Bare Minerals color over. It makes everything stay put and tidy!

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So here is my finished face! Again, I only do all this three times a month on average (plus if I'm working). I'll do bits and pieces for normal life, and then often nothing! I'll just wash my face and call it! Haha But I figured it would be silly to do a post like this and not use it all so you knew what I was talking about.

Same make-up, just with my hair done and jewelry on!

Before / After

Ps. Since they were sitting in my bathroom looking so pretty, I had to add these cuties! Acqua di Gia by Giorgio Armani is my all-time favorite perfume (it gives me chills when I smell it! haha!). The Jasmine version is fantastic, too, and the one I have because Kohl's carries it and I used Kohl's Cash to get this! Daisy by Marc Jacobs is obviously popular for a reason, and it's mine and Caleb's second favorite scent. This was a gift and I love it! Have "your scent" feels so grown-up. And someday I'm going to go for it and get my all-time favorite. Saving, saving until then ;)

Pps. Shout-out to my trusty iPhone 7 and the master bathroom tub for these pictures! Hahah It's all about getting the good light, right?

Post 67 | New York City Part 2

“One belongs to New York instantly,
one belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years.”
― Tom Wolfe

CALEB'S SWEET TOOTH

We discovered the happiness of Wafels and Dinges at the stroke of midnight on Christmas Day a few years ago, and we (Caleb especially) has been hooked ever since. Caleb's favorite is "deBom": a warm Belgian waffle, scoop of creamy vanilla, drizzled in chocolate. So simple, but perfectly ooey-gooey, savory-and-sweet, warm-and-cold GOOD.

I've heard, seen, and read SO MUCH about Ladurée for years. And I'm bummed at myself that I didn't make sure we got there before this... because WOW. What an EXPERIENCE. From start to finish every quarter-inch of Ladurée is considered, handled with utmost care, and beautiful. Lap of luxury, to say the least. I have more of a Nigella Lawson Philosophy on food, but this really was splendor. And I see how everyone who goes is addicted! Being here made me really want to go to Paris (Disneyland Paris, Rowdy memorizing Madeline - my childhood favorite book, and Ladurée! Sounds perfect! Hah!)

I'm slightly embarrassed to say that I don't even know what this cake-masterpiece is called. But it was the best dessert either of us have ever had. About 9-10 thin layers of different flavors and textures, but soft and delicate to eat, with moth-wing soft crunch. It was absolute art to every sense. Rowdy had (and loved) the macaroons and Caleb also moaned over a chocolate croissant!

CENTRAL PARK

We spent the morning walking around Central Park (trying to build up an appetite after our pizza evening hahah). It might have been my favorite memory of this trip. There was hardly anyone else that we passed, adding to the already serene, quiet presence of the place. Rowdy had a ball crunching snow, finding sludge puddles, and being free to run around with darling rosy cheeks and frost-kissed nose. Caleb commented that it reminded him of Narnia... snow and lampposts and brass statues of animals and...so very quiet. Enchanting, even for us "summer people."

SANDWICH SHOP

Though sandwiches and deli food is some of my all-time favorite, I haven't had nearly enough sandwiches in New York as I should have! I wanted to grab an easy lunch before we headed to the airport... so I researched diligently to find the "perfect" well-reviewed, great-atmosphere, grab-and-go, affordable lunch spot. Alidoro was the winner! Caleb got a steak/cheese/Italian melt and I got a tuna salad (remembering WHY I haven't gotten many sandwiches here hahah I was so full still!). We will definitely go back here! The decor reminded me of my mom so much. She always sought to make her kitchen have that European country feel. Terra Cotta tile floors, blue and yellow mosaic tile, the EXACT same barstools we had growing up, butcher block counters, blue and white damask wall paper, wood farm-style table. I kept thinking of what I would be texting her and how much she'd light up if she was here. So special. 

TRANSPORTATION

#trainselfies

#trainselfies

Our entire (short) trip we didn't use a shuttle bus, subway, cab, Uber, or rental car! We "discovered" that the Newark AirTrain drops off right in Penn Station. We flew into Newark, NJ and took the 30 minute train into the city, walked walked walked walked, and then got back on the train to go to the airport! If we are flying in, this is ALWAYS how we'll do it from now on!  Plus, Rowdy thought we were on a "lightning fast ride" and grinned the whole time. So cute. It was $5.50 each way, and kids under 11 are free! Hope that little tip is as helpful for someone else as it was us :)

Any and all tips or reccomendations are SO welcome!
I'll add them to my list for future visits!

Post 66 | New York City Part 1

"There is something in the New York air that makes sleep useless." 
(Simone Beauvoir)

My first actual visit to New York City was on my senior trip in high school. But it is one of my life highlights to get to take Caleb for his first time. In 2011 when we were still dating (but he was ring-shopping and we knew our forever was going to be together) my Christmas present for him was a surprise day trip to NYC. We took a 5 am bus there and took the midnight bus home and I don't think there was a second of that day that wasn't perfect. It's turned into a tradition for us to go at least once a winter. Thanks to Southwest points and Priceline I got to give Caleb a weekend trip to NYC this year! We went the week after New Year's and it was plain fun. Cold! But FUN.

IPHONE 7 CAMERA

It's no secret that I'm quite obsessed with the new iPhone 7 camera (and Portrait mode!). I want to make sure I documented this trip to my liking (part of my "love languages" is preserving the memories) but decided to not bring my Canon and see what the iPhone camera would be like during travel. And I'm THRILLED. To get the kinds of pictures I could get for my family to look back on, without having to lug around the big camera, feels so satisfying and nerdy-fun to me!

TOP OF THE ROCK

Everything I read about "NYC Travel Tips" mentions getting to the top of the Rockefeller Center for the views. The Empire State Building is classic, but this view truly is better... and breath-taking. All the lists are right: if you go to New York, you MUST add it to your itinerary! (I also bought the tickets online ahead of time which was fantastic. We didn't have to wait in line in the cold! And got up so quickly! I also planned it so we could be up there for golden hour and see it after dark, too. I highly recommend this plan! It was majestic and diverse!) 

WALKING

Though taxis and subways and bikes are part of the NYC experience, our favorite way to see this city, in particular, is walking. We walked over 100 blocks the first evening we were there! There is something about the endless parade of buildings as you walk... and walk... and walk.. and walk... and walk...! Looking into the windows, seeing the signs, smelling the (good and bad) smells, and absorbing all the height, history, rush, and details one block at a time is something special.

Ps. We had all our stuff in the stroller! One backpack and two large purses. I've never packed so light, but GOSH did it make getting around nice!

PIZZA

Alrighty. This is half-embarrassing and half-deeply-joy-giving and 100% "me." First off, I couldn't find paper so I made this chart on half a cardboard box. Second, I spent an entire nap time going through about eight or nine google pages with the keyword search "Best NYC Pizza. " Every pizza place that was on a list more than once made it to the cardboard. Then I tallied up how many times each place was listed to find The Grand Winner. (There was a three-way tie between Di Fara, Roberta's, and Joe's on Carmine). Third, our long-time favorite pizza place is John's on Bleecker. But since we love it so much we ALWAYS go and haven't explored many other of the renown pizza places in NYC!  

We each got a slice at Joe's on Carmine since it is so close to John's! We did a little "side by side" competition comparison. And Joe's is very, very good. We enjoyed it so much. In our opinion it was not as good as John's but still close to perfect!

Look, if you're gonna walk 100 blocks you get to have as much pizza as you want, right?! So far no pizza can beat this one:

When we came to NYC in 2011 we Caleb scratched our initials into one of the benches at John's. Three years ago we added an "R" to our heart, and this trip we got to draw an "S" in! I love story-type things like this and can't wait to see how many little letters we add through the years. I can't wait for my kids to hopefully come back with their kids and show them. Anything that can make life just a bit more special is fine by me!

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(This isn't the best of the boys, but I'm smitten with that snuggled, smiling baby down there!)

Part 2 | Coming Next!

Post 65 | January 365

"I know what we were trying to stand for,
and what I believe we did stand for:
the possibility that among the worlds wars and sufferings
two people could love each other for a long time,
until death and beyond, and could make a place for each other
that would be a part of their love..."
(Wendell Berry) 

One of my life verses is Zechariah 4:10. "Do not despise the days of small things..." As I was taking time to reflect and regroup at the New Year, I realized one of the cluttered drawers in my heart was "It's All Going SO Fast." Summer is turning one in a few weeks, schooling options for Roo are in our vernacular, we're celebrating five years of marriage this year. "If the first half-a-decade went so quickly, it will be ten years even sooner... These decades will really start to pile up and whiz past us, won't they? Someday we're going to wake up with life behind us and these are the parts of our history we're going to reminisce about. 'Remember when they were babies?' 'Remember that first year you did music?' 'Remember when we were twenty-something?'"

The early years of anything are so documentable. All the firsts! First date, first kiss, first "I love you," ring, showers, wedding, first house, first... but the dozenenth, the hundredth, the thousandath... they go fast and sure get fuzzy. I've seen a number of people do 365 self-portraits/pictures of their kids/photo-challenges, and decided this would be the year for 365 Days of Us. In some ways there are few things more self-absorbed, "millennial," and potentially show-off-y than taking and sharing a selfie of "me and my love!" but, as in all things, the motive can make or break it. And this little project was just the plan my heart craved to somehow strive to recall, cherish, and build as time picks up pace. It is simple but fond.

We added to it a little question for each other, and we've done it almost every night before bed: what are three things that warmed your heart today? ("You were so patient and cute making cookies with Rowdy. I kept looking over and it made me so happy to see you two over there." Things like that...) I've laughed SO hard at some of his answers, gotten misty at some, surprised by a few, and "could have guessed that" on others. But it's been very sweet and anchoring to say out loud every day. I'm grateful that brief seconds of "smile... snap!" and a few minute conversation can help me connect to the now in the way it has.

The days of small things. The days of not-firsts. The days piled onto days on days, yet paused.

(A few things of note as we complete Month One:

  • We realized Caleb wears the same hat, the same way, a LOT. Haha! He wears it for work so the sweat doesn't get in his eyes... but we decided he at least needs a few other hat options. Working on that ;)
  • Already we succumbed to laying in bed and saying "Oh shoot! We didn't take a picture today!"... so there are a lot of us in that moment. Which is fine! But now that we're in the habit of doing this every day, we have some ideas of how to be a little more creative and intentional. To be continued...
  • Six of the 31 days I actually "got ready"/did my make-up... and I'm pleasantly surprised at how happy I am with that. The majority of these are "me in my own face" which really is how I am most of the time, but I often didn't want pictures taken then. Or at least that was my mental excuse for not being in more pictures. But I already love this January Set, even the less-than-flattering and imperfect pictures. It feels right and how I want to remember myself: in this range of naked-faced to all-done-up and everything in between. That's me! So no more excuses, self!)

 | JANUARY 365 |

  • WEEK ONE MEMORIES / La La Land for a New Years Day date / Sleeping off the busyness of work and holidays / Getting settled into our new (and most favorite) AirBNB / Seeing Caleb's extended family and brother on vacation a few times / Getting exciting work news for Caleb / Gym together! Trying to start the new year out right

WEEK TWO MEMORIES / NYC Getaway with the babies / Hosting and enjoying our dear Ahlgren Friends / Beach, Pool, Late Nights, Good Talks, Laughter, Work-Out Challenges, Kids at Play

  • WEEK THREE MEMORIES / Pizza + Grocery Shopping all together (and just being so happy... and then urgently needing toilets) / Finally pulling the trigger and spending my hoarded gift cards on much-researched skin care and beauty items. (And Caleb being so excited/watching YouTube tutorials/reading reviews with me) / Spending the weekend at my dad's for the children's Gasparilla event / Three Years Since Losing Mom / Taking Gram and my sisters to see La La Land.

WEEK FOUR (and change) MEMORIES / Zillow Zillow Zillow Craigslist Zillow / Going to apartment and house showings / Figuring out our lives on the highway and in Five Guys and... anywhere else! / Family Day in Plant City / FINALLY getting the kid's passport applications turned in (pain. in. the. rear.) / Airport drop-offs and pick-ups and lots of texts and FaceTimes while Caleb worked in Mexico / Rowdy yelling from his carseat "Guys! You aren't listening to me! You're just kissing!" 

Post 64 | "Here's To The Mess We Make"

“The walls of the rational, empirical world are famously porous."
Wendell Berry

My favorite scene in oh-so-popular "La La Land" is the emotional climax of the film. A song and moment called "The Audition." If you've seen it, you probably at least got chills too... and if you haven't I won't spoil it for you.

But one of the repeated lines in the sincere serenade is "Here's to..." Here's to the fools who dream, here's to the hearts that ache, that type of thing.

I've found myself both sarcastically and meaningfully using that line as its been stuck in my head the last few weeks. (Like, as I run to the bathroom very urgently the thought crosses my mind "Well HERE'S to coffee!" Or walking through through International Plaza Mall thinking "Here's to double strollers!" I want to high-five every other mom with her kids strapped in too. The little joys. Or buying splurge items with Christmas gift cards: "HERE. IS. TO. GIIIIIFT CARDS!")

So, as I've been toasting my way through life... I have to say: Here's to those of us making life decisions.

UUUUUUUUUUGGGHHHHHHUUUHHH.

Here's!

To!

Us!

Here's to spending two days on Zillow and Craigslist and Trulia (and realizing Trulia is inferior) and going back to Zillow and changing the parameters and scrolling until your wrist is sore.

Here's to calculating how much you spend on rentals and thinking we should just buy and then looking at houses for sale and making a stink-nose at everything "you could afford." Yeah, all the beautiful houses are just one momentarily unreachable notch up, huh?

Here's to asking "So what do you think?" and having him basically detail all the options and asking back "What do you think?" while you reply by saying "I don't know" and listing out all the options in a slightly different way and asking "So what do you think," over and over.

Here's to google wisdom, forums from 2010, and "best places to live in [pick your state/region]." 

Here's to that secret pinboard you start furiously adding to to let off some steam. "This WILL get figured out someday. And when it does, I'm gonna be ready. And probably much richer!"

Here's to those decisions you have to make for yourself. The "fork in the road" life paths, to the left or to the right? Make a choice!

Here's the life decisions someone else makes for you... and you have to wait. Wait for that application to go through. Wait to hear back. Wait to find out. Wait for it to happen. How long should you wait? Don't waste your wait! And don't count your chickens until the eggs have hatched! Be patient! Be productive! Waiting. Here's to bloop-blooping waiting.

Here's to how much you love and care about the people you love and care about. How much it matters to you to make good decisions for and about them.

Here's to that favorite drink in your kitchen that's gonna take the edge off of LIFE.

Here's to being self-employed when trying to prove income, for most government/medical/financial institutions not accepting e-mail copies (and 50/50 on faxes... but guaranteed: if you WANT them to accept a fax, they won't) and for always going to the bank on National Holidays. And for craving Chick-fil-a on Sundays.

Here's to singing.

Here's to balancing what you can afford, what you want, what you really want (like "What I Want My Legacy To Be!" Want), what you have time for, and where all that happens.

Here's to those pros-cons lists. Here's to caring about the well-being of your family, of yourself, of those you love. Here's to trying and making a mess of it.

Here's to the freedom to try.

Here's to s***-sandwiches (It's a good point).

Here's to logging into your bank accounts online. And forgetting the log-in info. And calling the bank and getting it straightened out. And logging into your account online. And looking at the screen out of one eye as the page loads, hoping on a star that maybe there is more in there than you remembered ("Maybe that last check hadn't been deposited the last time I looked..."). (Spoiler Alert: There's not.)

Here's to wondering if you're being selfish or a steward; being brave or crazy; being wise or fearful; being someone who fights through obstacles or is stubbornly bent on their own way even when it's a bad idea.

Here's to making a big, fat, mile-marking, actually changes the course of your life life decision.

Here's to the miracles. 

Here's to physical effects in your body (like an actually warm heart or actually jumpy limbs or eyes that have really doubled in size) when it starts to get exciting. "We might be on to something here! This could be it!"

Here's to wistfulness.

Here's to wit. And all the other qualities you lean on to get through it.

Here's to being in your story.

Here's to giving up some of those things you would really, really, really like for some other things that are really, really, really good and real.

Here's to the music building. The audience guessing. Here's to all the ways the story could go.

Here's to The Author.

And here's to the sun burning at 10,000-50,000 °F, usually sashaying through the living room right before dinner. 

“I see that the life of this place is always emerging beyond expectation or prediction or typicality, that it is unique, given to the world minute by minute, only once, never to be repeated.
And this is when I see that this life is a miracle,
absolutely worth having, absolutely worth saving.

We are alive within mystery, by miracle.” 

(Wendell Berry, Life is a Miracle: An Essay Against Modern Superstition)

Ps. In our current AirBNB the angle of the house, the position of the house on the land, and the placement of the windows means that every single night *right* before the sun sinks below the horizon line its light *explodes* into the whole living area. The pictures in this post were taken in the same 30 seconds. It goes from normal bright/white to orange burst ocean to darkened shadowy in a snap. It's so magical and beautiful I can't stand it.