Thursday, May 30, 2013

Our California Trip

Philip and I just returned from a long weekend visiting northern CA in preparation for our move in August.  When we left for our trip, I was feeling rather anxious about the move and frankly, I was wishing we could get a quick switch of our flights and head to the Bahamas while we had grandparents watching the babies!  (still, a pretty nice thought...) I'm not sure I've ever been more happy to be wrong because we ended up having such a wonderful trip!  We spent some time in San Francisco, exploring the Sutro Baths (such a cool, under the radar spot!) and a bit of Golden Gate Park.  We enjoyed a delicious lunch overlooking the ocean!  I had my first In-n-Out experience.  We loved all the local flora and fruit trees (and even grabbed a couple Meyer lemons from the tree of a vacant house we toured :) We were especially enamored with Davis, CA, as we had anticipated.  Their Saturday morning farmer's market did not disappoint, and my wheels started turning about the chickens I intend to adopt once we get settled there :)  We ate yummy food, enjoyed leisurely breakfasts, and could not get enough of the amazing weather.  Seriously, it was perfection!  Sunny and warm but with a nice breeze that made for cool mornings and evenings with NO HUMIDITY.  We even made some new friends and generally felt very welcomed.  We did visit the Air Force base in Travis, CA but Davis really felt like "us."  The only question remaining is how we will figure out a plan for living there, as it is rather pricey.  Monday came before we knew it and we found ourselves heading back to St. Louis, thankful for such an encouraging trip and excited to see our little people!  My parents were so gracious to come and stay with them, and can I just say, for the record, how justified I felt when my parents (who have raised four children and are still raising a special needs son!) told me they thought I should hire someone to help me with the kids!  Those little rascals are no joke!! :)

Friday, May 17, 2013

Shared Sibling Rooms

As I continue to think about what life will look like for our family if we live in a {relatively} smaller home, it seems pretty likely that Wade and Holland will need to share a room.  I'm thinking for the most part, the two of them will think this is pretty sweet.  And aside from the adjustment period that will almost certainly involve frustratingly long bedtime routines (who am I kidding?  we already have frustratingly long bedtime routines!), I'm hopeful that this could be a really good thing for them.

When it comes to decorating a room where both genders are involved, I feel like it's tougher than you might think!  Here are some rooms that are inspiring me as I think about how to make this work...

A neutral space with a good dose of natural wood would work for both genders.  I love the pine (?) pieces in this room--they add such a sense of age and warmth.  White, cream, and some ticking stripe make for a classic combination.

Source: via Anne on Pinterest

The room above is also pretty clean and neutral, and while it would certainly work for a boy and a girl, I feel like it feels a bit masculine.  Everything is basically white + an interesting rug.    Note to self:  love the seagrass baskets tucked under the bunks!

This room is obviously rather sparse (and therefore unrealistic for my purposes!) but I do like the idea of using buffalo check in a gender neutral color...

I really like the light gray/blue/green wall color in the room above.  While the fabric on the windows is blue, I feel like the pattern (sort of floral?  hard to tell exactly) lends itself to being used for a little girl.

This room is definitely cool, but it feels pretty boyish right?

I have loved this room for a long time.  Such a fun, collected vibe with lots of color.

That printed fabric looks super cute--does it have animals on it?!  The plaid blanket and the black and white stripes on the floor work so well too.

Another colorful, collected space.  Stripes on the bed are cute.  And how about those individual bins? (for laundry? or toys?)

Finally, Abby posted a very timely design board on her blog.  I'm loving the green and blue color scheme and the cute watercolor art above the beds!

I'll keep you guys posted about my plans!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Mother's Day

It's hard for me to know how to write about Mother's Day because motherhood conjures up all kinds of emotions for me.  I love my children and consider it a privilege to get to spend my days with them.  They are precious to me and I consider them both great gifts.  I often worry that their "little years" will have flown by and I'll look back one day regretting that I spent them complaining about how hard they were!

Like many other moms, I find it pretty tough to be home each day where the "schedule" is all up to me, and the days can easily go by without a whole lot of other adult interaction.  I find myself frustrated by my children's sin and by my own sin (and my inability to correct my children's sin!).  I frequently find myself discouraged that I'm not the mother I thought I'd be or that I wish I was.  {Motherhood is not the place for the perfectionists among us!}  Frankly nothing has quite humbled me and showed me my need for God like becoming a mom has.

I know that all of us come at this a little differently--no one's story (or circumstances) are quite like that of another's, but it's really important to me that people know I always told the truth about my own story.  And the truth is it has been hard and messy.  Beautiful too, yes.  But the hard times and the messy times have been real and they have shaped me.  What I need to remember to pray is that God would ultimately take the messy, the hard, and the beautiful parts of my story and use it all to shape me for His own glory.  Where I'm inclined to believe a lie that my worth is a measure of my performance, thankfully, there are very gifted writers out there who remind me that Real Womanhood isn’t a function of becoming a great mother, but of being loved by your Great Father.

My family made me feel rather special yesterday.  I got to sleep in, they made me a yummy breakfast, and on a whim I decided Japanese sounded just right for lunch.  I mean, why not?

A little hibachi action!  {The children were rather terrified!}
Beautiful peonies and a new design book for moi! 

Sweet boy with his gifts for me.

Of course, I would be remiss if I didn't thank my own mother for all of her years of selfless mothering! Now that I'm a mom myself, as I watch her continuing to mother my youngest brother in a way few of her peers are still doing, I feel for her in a way I probably couldn't before.  She doesn't have the empty nest or the ability to spontaneously make her own plans like most of us moms imagine we'll be able to do again one day. And yet, she's consistently upbeat, encouraging and ready to sacrifice her time for the needs of others.  (I'm not so sure she passed on these genes to me!!)   I am so thankful for my mom and for the friendship we have.  Sometimes I can't quite believe I'm no longer the little girl asking my mom to come tuck me in at night--instead, I'm now tucking little ones in!  Thank you for all you do, Mom.  I love you.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Decisions, Decisions

As we've been planning for our move to California this August, we've been trying to narrow down where exactly we'd like to live.  Rather than live in base housing, we think we'd prefer to live in an actual town where we can really immerse ourselves in the culture there, perhaps helping it to feel more like "home"?  We also think it makes the most sense for us to buy a house (you know this gets me excited!), so we've been working with a realtor and trying to familiarize ourselves with what the different areas near the base have to offer.


{I will try to say the following in a tactful way, but please know these are simply my opinions.  To each his own!}

From what we can gather, the areas closest to the base, including Fairfield and Vacaville, CA don't have a whole lot of personality.  The houses tend to feel more "cookie cutter-ish" and there doesn't appear to be much in the way of local or independent stores and restaurants.  What they do have in the way of businesses, you most certainly need a car to access.  I say all of this because it pretty much highlights the exact opposite of the type of area Philip and I most enjoy.  We were also finding it difficult to come up with a preschool for our kids we were comfortable with, as well as a church that felt like a good fit for us.
Here's Holland performing "Row Row Row Your Boat" at her end of the year preschool program :)  (She's rowing with her hands in case you can't tell!)

My Wader-Tater is smiling in the back row.  Oh, we have loved this preschool!

We were beginning to grow rather discouraged until we found our way to Davis, CA.  I was so encouraged by my conversation with the pastor of what looks to be a great church out there, who also pointed me to a good preschool.  Davis is a relatively small college town (home of University of CA at Davis).  Apparently they're big on bicycles, have a reputation for good schools, and offer lots of great local restaurants.  Check, check, and check.  (If anyone has any firsthand knowledge of the Davis area, please share!)

downtown Davis, CA (source)

There's really only three potential negatives for us if we choose to live in Davis.

1.  It's 25 miles from the base, so we have the added time + money of the commute to consider.

2.  The houses are really expensive.

3.  The houses are really small (relative to other areas).

To give you an idea of what I'm talking about, our realtor sent us the FIVE houses that are currently for sale in Davis and cost less than 400K, and only one of them had more than 1500 square feet! Rather than reflect a need to just spend more on a home, this highlights what seems to be the norm in Davis--most of the homes there are just relatively small.

All of this really brings up the question of priorities--would we rather live in a community that doesn't excite us, but that's close to where Philip will work and would allow us to live in a larger home for less money OR is it worth it to live in a smaller house (that nearly maxes out our budget) with a commute but that lets us live in a community that really suits us with great schools?!

another pic of Davis (source)

I think this is a really tough question, but we are leaning towards the latter choice.

This has all gotten me thinking about how big of a house one really needs?  Am I simply an entitled American who has grown accustomed to thinking that anything less than 2,000 sq ft will feel a bit cramped?  (According to the site designboom, the average size of a new American home has grown by 50 percent since 1970, so our preferences for house size must be shaped at least in part by our culture, right?) Our house in Richmond was right around 1500 sq ft (not including the basement), but by the time we left Holland was only 20 months old and we were feeling the itch for more space.  The climate in Davis lends itself to lots of time spent outdoors, so I suppose your outdoor space can serve as an additional "room" in your house???

Didn't Lauren Liess of Pure Style Home do an amazing job creating a beautiful outdoor living room through the Home Depot patio challenge?!

When I first began to consider what it would be like to live in a smaller house, I immediately recalled a conversation a year or so ago with my good friend Christine and her husband Lanny.  Coincidentally, they had just moved back to VA from CA themselves and had grown interested in the movement behind "tiny houses."  Now, when I say tiny house, I am not talking about a 1300 square foot home.  We are talking a house that can be as small as 90 sq ft, while a "larger" tiny house can be up to a couple hundred square feet.  Before you go thinking this is just completely nuts, the concept is pretty inspiring.  Michael Janzen of the blog Tiny House Design says this:

"In a nutshell, tiny houses give you back freedom in the form of time, money, and peace of mind. Why? How? Simply because they cost less to own, clean, heat, cool, etc. The less money you spend on your home the less you have to earn or the more you keep in the bank. The less time you spend cleaning and maintaining your house the more time you have to for the things you like to do."

300 square foot tiny home

Now, just to state the obvious, the things I personally "like to do" very much correlate with my home, but I still appreciate the idea and think there is something to be said for pairing down and living intentionally with regards to the size of your house.  While I don't foresee us in a true "tiny house" if we move to Davis, we will almost certainly live in a house much smaller than what we are accustomed. 
What do y'all think about all of this?  Do you currently or have you previously lived in a house that is considered small by American standards?  I would particularly like to hear your thoughts if you have done this with children :)  

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

An Imaginary Sunroom

I mentioned how I've been enjoying helping my friend Lucy with decorating some of the rooms in her house.  It's definitely been a process, and there have been some possible fabric plans that we haven't gone with, but that I think are so pretty.  I thought it might be fun to come up with a little pseudo-decorating challenge for myself and try and decorate a room around some of the fabrics we've considered.

I loved this group of fabrics, but it just wasn't right for Lucy's den.  To me, the yellows and blues manage to be both soothing and cheery.  I see them in a light and airy space, maybe a sunroom?  Since it looks as though we will be living in a very small house (at least by American standards...) in California (more on that to come), I will most assuredly not be enjoying any kind of sunroom in the near future, but a girl can dream.

I thought the sort of loose geometric feel of the yellow fabric would look nice as curtain panels.

I'm envisioning the multi-colored ikat fabric covering a large round ottoman (the great thing about this ottoman from Ballard Designs is they will let you send in your own fabric for upholstery).

I love that dark blue leopard fabric for accent pillows on the pair of slipper chairs I found on Sacramento CA's Craigslist.  We should all know by now I love me some chairs, so I thought it would be fun to poke around on the Craigslist closest to where we'll be living come August.  The seller says these are Pottery Barn.  $380 for the pair is not bad at all, my friends.  Especially since it appears that you would need to do next to nothing (other than wash the covers just because you can!) before you settled right on in and made yourself at home on them.  Anybody reading from Sacramento? :)  Looks like they are still available.

A small gold accent table will give our space a nice metallic touch when placed between our pair of chairs.  Thanks to Melissa from Roost for the timely post on gold accent tables this morning!

I think the light bluish-colored nubby fabric could be pretty as upholstery on an accent chair or as a throw pillow on the sofa with this cording.

I don't have a picture I can link to online of that last darker blue fabric from the photo at the top of the post, but I think it could be a great choice for upholstering our bench.

I love the look of this rug.  It's made of jute and wool so it's probably really soft, and I like how the diamond pattern plays off our yellow curtain fabric.

Of course, every polished room needs some beautiful art.  How gorgeous is the painting by Michelle Armas?!  Given the choice, I'd love one of her original paintings, but this 36x36 giclee canvas would deliver a big impact.

As for a sofa, how about this classy number from Crate and Barrel (but manufactured by Lee Industries!)?  The rolled arms and the casters may just make my heart skip a little beat.  I'd replace the plain throw pillows with a colorful pair and maybe one or two more in our other fabrics.

I'm thinking behind the sofa we could use a console table (also found on Sacramento's Craigslist :)
Any chance you think the sellers could hold this one for me till we get out there in August?  It's made by Henredon, and please observe the herringbone pattern on the top!  It will be just the dose of natural wood that our imaginary sunroom needs!

On top of the console table, I'd place this pair of navy lamps (that I'm kind of obsessed with right now).

If space allowed, I think a slightly more modern feeling demilune table would be a nice addition.  I like this one from West Elm (it's on sale too!).  I think a pretty mirror would go nicely above it.

Oh, and who can forget paint for our walls!  Designer Christopher Maya describes "Glass Slipper" by Benjamin Moore as a grayish bue--"the blue of a washed out sky just after a storm has passed."  Consider this color on my personal list of paint colors I must use at some point in the near future.