Sunday, September 20, 2015

Dreaming and Daring...Downsizing

Simplicity.  Quality.  A desire to be purposeful and intentional with this life we've been gifted. Dreams had changed, morphed... the way we were living and the way we wanted to live didn't align. So, we dared to chase a new dream and made what some would consider a fairly radical change.  

We sold our comfortable 15 year old, 2 story, 3 bedroom, 3 bathroom, 2115 sq. ft. home and downsized to a 57 year old, ranch style, 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom, 1300 sq. ft. home.  

That may not seem like a significant change, but our basement bathroom is currently out of order, so technically we only use one and we do most of our "living" on our main floor which is a colossal 960 sq. ft.!  It's plenty of space though, really!

The moving process went very quickly and rather smoothly with only a few small bumps.  We listed our home for sale by owner on a Thursday evening.  By Friday we had five showings set up for the weekend and on Saturday morning at our first showing we had an offer at our asking price with no contingencies (no home to sell, willing to forgo an inspection), but they wanted us to decide before the next showing.  We accepted the offer and then scrambled to find a new house for us!  Fortunately, we had already been looking at houses a couple of months prior.  We found our home and ended up moving only a few streets away!  We are grateful to still be a part of the same neighborhood that we had grown to love; however, their is a slight contrast.  Our old street was full of young families and our new street is full of retired people and their dogs! Retired people are the best neighborhood watch people ever and they know everything-ha!  We are so grateful for such sweet, caring neighbors and they love seeing little kids running around the neighborhood again.  

Our move in pictures:
From: 2 story, 2 stall attached garage with white vinyl fenced in yard
To: ranch style, 3 stall detached garage with cedar fenced in backyard

We love having mature trees in our yard!  We can't wait to be able to rake the leaves into piles for jumping! In our last house, the trees were so young that we would rake a small pile, toss it into a box and repeat until we finally had enough to dump out and make a pile for the kids to jump into.  We also love that this yard has significantly less flower beds to weed and obstructions to weed-whack around; we've gained a lot of time with just that one change.  We have big plans to add a bit of curb appeal in the future, but for now we've filled the flower boxes with blooms and removed the bushes to make way for colorful perennials!  One of the luxuries we've given up in this move an attached garage, but we now have an extra stall which is a big bonus for the Mr.!  We also went from main floor laundry to basement laundry, but since our bedrooms were way upstairs in our last house this really feels no different! We knew that a downsize would mean giving up certain conveniences, but it's been worth it...and really---first. world. problems.

It's been quite fun to take this dated home and make it our own!  We've still got some updating that we'd like to do, but our timeline is lax.  Right now we are just enjoying!  When we purchased, this whole home was painted a peachy brown color---it was ewww.  We immediately had it painted-white!  It's amazing how much bigger and brighter it feels.

The heart of our home!  Those cream cabinets will be painted white!  
See that hallway, it may just be my favorite part of the house.  I know that sounds silly but, it provides such quick access to every room in our more stairs between our most lived in rooms and our bedrooms.  It makes putting things away, right away, so much easier!  I can completely clean this house in about a quarter of the time it took to clean our last home.  I've been able to find a much better balance between spending quality time with my family and cleaning.   I no longer feel guilty when cleaning because I feel like I should be playing or pulled when I'm playing because I feel like I should be cleaning; it has been so liberating.
The Mr. wanted a black door, so I used chalk board paint!
The people who bought our last home wanted our sectional couch and the large picture gallery shelf that hung above it, so The Mr. built me a new gallery wall shelf and new furniture has been ordered.  I can't wait to see it!  It feels so adult to have ordered furniture from a real furniture store.  Up until this point we have been blessed with hand-me-downs , picked up cheap pieces from secondhand stores or The Mr. has built for us.
We love how the half wall makes our home feel more open!  I'm not quite sure how I'd like to decorate the bookshelves yet...

  I'm so grateful we were able to fit the large console The Mr. built!  The ladder was left by the old owner of this home!
Our one usable bathroom!  Eventually we will get the basement toilet fixed, but for now only one bathroom to clean is like a dream!

The Mr. made me a new version of what we had in our last bathroom because the new owners of our old home asked to keep them.  Those branches are from my wedding bouquet!

Our Master Bedroom- we went from a very large room with a private bath and two master closets to this; it is more than plenty!

See that mason jar atop the dresser is filled with raindrops that fell on our wedding day and I can't help but well up with happiness every time I look at it!

The girls room!  They love sharing (for now)!

All toys on the main floor are housed in the girls bedroom, this helps keep the chaos in check!  They do have a playroom downstairs as well.
The girls art gallery...clips courtesy of Target's dollar aisle!

Those numbered hooks help us keep organized for school by holding backpacks and outfits for the next day.
Our third bedroom is currently a craft room and office!
I found this desk for free on the side of the road and gave it a little lovin'!

Our super outdated basement...this is partially what drew The Mr. to this house.  He loves to learn and work with his hands and has big dreams to transform the whole basement...someday!  This is about half of the basement, the other half is unfinished storage, laundry and a full bath.  

Why would a young family choose to sell their American Dream home and downgrade to a smaller older home???
  • to spend less time cleaning and maintaining, allowing more quality time with one another
  • for the ability to save more, give more and experience more  
  • there is less space to accumulate "stuff"
  • for a mature yard with large trees
  • for a smaller more intimate space to encourage family closeness, realizing also, that a smaller space may provide for more opportunities to practice problem solving, selflessness and grace
  • for us, personally, it means we are able to feel more secure in protecting our choice to be a one income family
I feel like I could go on and about the reasons why this is such a good move for our family, but you get the jist! 

We've only been in our new house for two months, but we LOVE it so much!  It definitely feels like home. 

Friday, September 18, 2015

Journeying - An Update

My has it been a while since I've last posted...almost a year.  Soooo much has changed in our lives!

It's been a whirlwind of uncertainty and discovery for our family and I've felt stuck in regards to putting into words all that has occurred.

I simply didn't have enough clarity or confidence to put recent decisions we've made into words and I wasn't certain I wanted to share them on a public platform that has the potential to be read by others.  It requires vulnerability, and I tend to care far more than I should about how other's perceive me and the choices we make.  I didn't choose this platform because our journey is significant or something worthy of calling attention to.  I chose it because it's easier for me than the traditional paper and pen method of journaling and because maybe somewhere along the way someone will find bits of these words beneficial.

Writing is how I process and I'm tired of feeling stuck, so I'm typing, rambling really, in hopes to clarify for myself some of the things our family has experienced and embarked upon this past year.  This year has been a prayerful year of discernment in seeking God's will for our family.

I wrote last October that we were pursuing foster care.  At that time, we had been struggling for two years to have a third child.  We felt God calling us to pursue this option as a means to grow our family.  We took classes, filled out paperwork, met with social workers and got as far into the process as being matched with children.  We prayed and prayed and felt like God was whispering to us "not now" or "not yet".  We still aren't quite sure which or why.  We simply don't understand completely.  However, in small ways we have felt confirmation that it wasn't the right time.  Confirmation by way of the Mr.'s work schedule becoming much more demanding, by way of Little Miss requiring more attention, and subtle feelings of confirmation that I can only describe as the Holy Spirit working in our hearts.  I'm not sure I can adequately describe how much we struggled with this.  We grieved.  We were so close to welcoming little hearts into our home; to growing our family - even temporarily.  And then, it felt like we lost them; the sibling pair that was hoped to be welcomed into our home. We were so confused and felt overwhelmingly guilty.  I felt and sometimes still feel like we had failed those children by not taking them home with us.  Deep in our hearts we feel like foster care wasn't the right path for us at that point in our lives, but that the knowledge and awareness we've gained hasn't been lost.  We have hopes to serve the foster care community is some capacity, but are still seeking what that might look like.

We had hoped that with the passing of foster care our desire to grow our family would somehow just disappear and that our family would feel complete.  However, that wasn't the case, we still struggle big time with whether or not we feel our family is complete.  We flip flop between a strong desire to have more children and contentment.  We truly desire God's will for our family, but are still waiting for an answer and for peace.  Sometimes we lean hard into contentment because we don't want to open ourselves up any further to the hurt of secondary infertility and other times we can't help but lean into the desire to grow our family-even though: even though we sold all our baby stuff, even though our children sleep through the night, even though we no longer trip over baby gates and accommodate feeding schedules...because we know it's all worth it...because we know how quickly it goes.  We just desperately long for a clear answer.

Almost a year later, we feel peace with our decision in regards to foster care.  God has been working on our hearts and has led us down a different path than we ever would have imagined.

A few months after we had reluctantly walked away from foster case and had time to  pray, process and reflect, we found ourselves keenly aware of what was truly important in our lives and what we wanted to teach our children.  We feel so grateful for the gift of our two daughters and the privilege to raise them; however, we also realize what a significant and challenging responsibility this is.   We looked around our large 2 story home complete with white picket fence; the home we bought with the American dream in mind; our forever home where we would raise our four kids and live happily ever after (naive-yes)... and what we saw and felt was excess.  The unused bedroom was a sad reminder of dreams that never came to fruition, the basement family room that sat empty, the basement storage room that stored an excess of "stuff".  We saw conveniences that had become burdens: 3 bathrooms to scrub, piles set on stair landings waiting to go up or down and find their place; a home and yard that took more time to maintain than we wanted to spend.  We were extremely grateful for God's provision of this shelter.  It was a place where as a couple we stretched ourselves, matured and discovered what we value; and for that it will always hold a special place in our hearts.  It was the place that ignited a spark for something we are passionate about- simple living.  Living to glorify God by being responsible and generous stewards of both our time and finances.

These feelings of excess led to many, many, many conversations!  Conversations about how much time we spent maintaining our home and how much time we were willing to spend maintaining a home.  Conversations about the consumerist habits we were modeling to our children and about the discernment we actually wanted to model to our children when choosing new items to bring into our home.  Conversations about the amount of financial giving we were pouring into ministries we care about and our desire to be more generous. Conversation about how less time spent cleaning a home means more time to pour into our children.  How a smaller mortgage and smaller property taxes would allow us to give more, save more and participate in life experiences that may not have otherwise fit our budget.

What it all boiled down to was this: the way we were living and the way we wanted to live didn't align.  

The answer was clear to us, in order to put into practice these realizations, we needed to do something a bit radical!  Purging by way of donation piles and rummage sales as well as keeping a tight budget just wasn't enough to satisfy the change we so longed for.  What we needed to do was sell our "too big for us" home and downsize.

So we did just that, because where we live isn't nearly as important as how we live! 

Details of our downsize to follow!

A home that served us well for a time, but wasn't right for the rest of our time!

Friday, October 24, 2014

- School Days -

Snippets of what school looks like in our home...

Both Big Miss and Little Miss pronounce "th" as "f" so counting gets interesting "firteen, fourteen, fifteen"! Though we do practice proper pronunciation; mom and dad tend to briefly mourn the loss of their little kid words once they've mastered them.

 Tactile writing practice...
 We frequent the library often...
 Recess... (putting in a forest and a blanket of leaves)

 Free play...

 100 days chart...

Math manipulatives...
  Science making raisins out of grapes using the sun- Ss is for Sun...

Science- sundial...
 Mm is for moon...

Moon phase cookies mmm...


  Decorating our spaceship...

 Big Miss created her own space suit...
 Ll is for Leaf...

AWANA!  The girls favorite is worship (music and dancing) and game time (phy.ed), but they also enjoy story time, art and handbook time!  They are so proud of their vests and love earning badges!