It doesn’t get better than this…

Lately I have had a lot of complaints.  The weather this winter was terrible, we live far from friends and family, we moved out of my dream house and into a college dorm, we are lonely, tired, overwhelmed, etc.  It is embarrassing to admit how long the list can be on a really hard day.

The other day Grant was playing with Will on the floor and I felt an unexpected swell of gratitude.  It just doesn’t get much better than this.  Sure, some of my complaints are legitimate and I need to be honest with myself about it if I’m ever going to deal with them, but I realized that all of the truly important things are so very, very good.

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We have friends and family that love us.  We feel welcomed and celebrated when we return home, whether that home is in Canada, California, Illinois and beyond.  We have parents that love us and have sacrificed so much for us and who love, love, love our son, even if their requests for photos and videos of him are a little excessive. (All four of you… you know who you are)  🙂  I have an incredible husband who loves me, makes me laugh harder than anyone, understands our inside jokes, and checks out bicycles as he goes by, not other girls.  He is the best dad to our son, even better than I could have imagined.  He is great at the fun things (taking the kiddo for bike rides, making him giggle) and great at the hard things (middle of the night feedings, poop, poop and more poop).

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And then there is our son.  He is just the silliest, most fun and happy kiddo.  He loves to yell, giggle, and squeal.  He’s figured out a way to run-crawl since regular crawling is simply not fast enough.  And he sleeps from 7 pm – 8:30 am most days…. yes, you read that right.  He is very kind to us.

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We are blessed and I am so thankful that even in the midst of my hard-heart, grumpy days I can still be overwhelmed by gratitude.  It doesn’t get much better than this!

Ps.  These were all photos from today.  Happy Father’s day!!

Visiting Wheaton

This past weekend we had a whirlwind trip to Wheaton to visit friends (some who are moving in the next few weeks).  I’m kicking myself for not taking more photos with the friends we saw, but of course we have plenty of Will and a few with his friends!  Here are a few of his highlights from the trip.

IMG_5140Toys and friends.  If he could talk, he’d probably tell you about all the cool toys his friends have that he wants!  We don’t have a single toy that makes noise or plays music yet and I think he just realized that he’s missing out.  I think he may also have realized that it’s fun to play with other people his size.  Will is always a happy kid, but this weekend he was as content as can be surrounded by friends.

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IMG_5141First real taste of bacon.  The expression on his face tells it all.

IMG_5132Watching the noisy freight trains go by in Wheaton.

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IMG_5093Surrounded by his many fans at church on Sunday.

IMG_5090He was tired and loooooong overdue for a nap on Sunday, and you never would have known by looking at how happy he was!

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We had a GREAT time.  Thank you to everyone we were able to see and for Brandon and Amy for allowing us to stay with them.  We just wish we could have stayed longer and had a chance to see EVERYONE!  🙂

 

 

Homesick

I am homesick.  Homesick for family.  For friends.  For my home…

Since 1999, I have lived in five different cities and eight different moves between those cities.  I’m no stranger to picking up and moving–starting over.  This last time was different, though.  This past July we moved from the Chicago area to the Twin Cities in Minnesota.  5 years may not sound like a long time, but a lot of life happened in those five years.  I started and completed two master’s degrees.  I met a guy, we got married and almost had a baby while we lived there (our son was born 10 days after we moved). I lived in an apartment alongside college students for four years, we bought our first house and made it our home.  Our church became family and relationships with friends deepened.  See what I mean?  A lot of life.

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People told us that we were crazy to move, end jobs, start new ones and have a baby all within the span of two weeks.  I often wish that I could give my 30-year old self advice from my 31-year old self (not to mention my teenage self… but those are stories for another day).

I was telling someone a few weeks ago that I know exactly why we decided to move.  The reasons are still clear and are still good reasons.  I honestly don’t think we made a mistake but I do know that if I was faced with making the same decision again the outcome may be different.  We loved the idea of a full time job with benefits, for me to be home with our son and able to work  part-time.  We wanted Grant to do something he loves, has experience in and is trained for.  Not only good, but great reasons!

What we didn’t realize was just how important it is to have friends and family close by, especially when life completely changes after welcoming a child!  We miss the community we moved away from and the friends that had become family.  (It still holds true that we don’t have family in Illinois, but we didn’t realize that Minnesota would feel so much further away.)

I didn’t realize just how much time I would spend at home and how much our space and the harsh winter would affect me.  How isolating it can be to have a newborn and how important it is to have people around who get what that’s like.  How much I would miss our house and our porch.  I mean, look at this porch!

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I’ve had days where I’ve been thrilled that we’re here too.  Like I said, the reasons we moved were great reasons and they hold true even now.  I adore our son and I love being a mom.  I love that I get to spend so much time with him, to watch him grow and learn new things.  I love that I know his finicky nap routine, his favourite toys and how to make him giggle.  He is an incredible blessing.

I am thrilled that Grant has a great job that he loves and that he gets to work with people that he enjoys.  It is amazing to see him grow in confidence in his gifts and abilities and how much he cares for his students.  I love seeing him as a dad and how much more I love him when I see him care for Will.  Our marriage is good and continues to grow and we’ve been able to spend a lot of time this year as a family, even if that means we have even more ridiculous inside jokes.

I love spending time with good friends who live in the area and reconnecting with friends I’ve been out of touch with.  I also love having the time and space to create and learn new things.

And I have hope.  Hope that a second year will feel more familiar.  Hope that our community here will grow and that friendships will deepen.  And hope that the loneliness and tears will have purpose, that there will be beauty that rises from the painful moments too.

Spring Break

We spent Spring Break in Brainerd, Minnesota with good friends from Wheaton.  We had a warm place to stay (with a fireplace), tons of fresh snow, great conversations with friends, play time with all three kids, a swimming pool and a chance to enjoy a little bit of life together.   It was also a week of first’s for Will.  First tooth, first time crawling and first time waking up with bed head (which I love!).

Planking.  His form is better than mine!

Lunch with friends

Reading bedtime stories

Swimming

The things Dad’s will do for their kids on a winter walk.

Wheaton Visit

Our Wheaton visit in photos.

Driving in our new car!

First glimpse of our old home!  🙂

Meeting his friend Jamie

With Alice at His Wheels International

Bike Mechanic in the making

Just like his pops

With Diane

Worn out
Will looked like this at the end of each day.  Totally pooped!
With his friend Lucie.  She is sharing her stickers with Will.

Will is never going to be this flexible!  🙂

Grant reading to Maggie and Will.

I love this one!!

Maggie, Will, Lucie and Eddie (the puppy)

When did Maggie become old enough to hold a baby??

Lucie helping feed Will.  He’s thrilled about this meal.
With Laura (I wish I had taken more photos at the RA reunion!)

With Parker and Cole

The Inaugural Event

I learned something today.  I love our house even more when it is filled with people… especially some of my favourite people!

Thank you RA’s for all you to do to love and serve others.  We love you and it was a privilege to host all of you for our first meal in our new house!

The large table in the middle of the living room

And what dinner party wouldn’t be complete without a full kitchen?

10 Things I Love About Minnesota


I spent this past weekend in Minnesota.  It was a spur of the moment trip to see friends and visit much-loved, familiar places.  I love going back to Minnesota because it feels like a second home (and is one that is 26 hours closer than my actual home).  Grant was at a Men’s retreat for our Church and I was feeling homesick so off I went! 


Grant and I have been talking and dreaming about what is next for us a lot lately.  This Spring I will finish my 4-years as a GRA in Fischer (and grad school classes) and we will have the opportunity to move (and will likely have to move as we follow jobs in Residence Life).  Of course, we are partial to moving closer to our families or at least west (since that is where our favourite places are), but Minnesota is one place that always pops up in my mind. Mentioning this to my friends may or may not have been a good idea since we spent the weekend figuring out all of the reasons I should move back to Minnesota and bring Grant with me.  These are a few of those reasons:


1. The Yarnery

I love to Knit and this hands down my favourite knitting shop.  Every trip to MN must include a trip to Grand Avenue in Saint Paul.  I was able to get together with my old roommate Nicole at Café Latte (a favourite restaurant) and pop into the Yarnery. What a great day!  To top it off, it was a beautiful fall Saturday… one of my favourite kinds.


2. The person that owns the same bike as me

Coley and I went out for a walk one evening and I found this bicycle.  It is the exact same as the bike I ride all the time and I have never seen another one like it in Illinois.  My father-in-law Gordon also has one like it, but he’s in California.
3. Yogurt for $0.31 and Milk that is around $2/gallon
*sigh* the cost of living in Illinois is drastically higher.  The yogurt I love is $0.75 each on a good day and $0.50 all the time in Minnesota. 31 cents is a steal – I almost bought some to bring it home but thought it might not fare too well in our car over the warm weekend.  Not exactly a reason to love Minnesota… or maybe it is?


4.  
Dunn Brothers Coffee

What can I say here? It’s simply a favourite place!




5. Northwestern College
My Alma Mater.  It is a beautiful campus surrounded by a lake… and under construction.   A lot has changed in the last 5 years but it still felt like I was coming home.

6. Fall
What can I say… Fall in the midwest is beautiful.  It was fun to drive through Wisconsin and see the colours changing as I neared Minnesota.  It was cool outside, the sun was shining, and it was absolutely beautiful!

7. Minneapolis and Saint Paul and the people who ride bikes all bundled up
This is an item I have learned to appreciate in the years I have known Grant.  He used to ride from his house on the other side of Wheaton to class in the middle of one of snowiest winters I have ever seen (and I am Canadian) and he is from California.  This picture is Grant, by the way… and is one of my favourites!

8.  Hot Dish
Although I’m still not entirely certain why this is called “Hot Dish” I love that it is and that I overheard a conversation about them while at the Yarnery.  A Hot Dish for those of you who don’t know if another word for a Casserole

9.  Wild Turkeys in Minneapolis
I know the picture is unclear but this is a large group of turkeys on someone’s lawn (some were on the roof and in the trees) in the middle of Minneapolis.  This was totally not a rural area at all!


10. Friends
This picture was taken just before our wedding in June but I met them all when I lived in Minnesota (they even lived next door to me when I was an RA) and they are wonderful.  Unfortunately Carissa was not there this weekend, but it was great to see Coley and Serena.