Thursday, March 26, 2015

Progress


We are nearing the month mark of living in this new house of ours and it finally feels like we are nearing the end of a chapter titled, "Unpacking".  The only thing that's been motivating me is the fact that this will not happen again for a very, very long time!  Every box I move out of here, every item I find a perfect home for is one step closer to being settled and we haven't felt settled in quite some time!  Moving in for us was like a domino effect of sorts.  The first domino that had to fall was getting through the hundreds of boxes we had the moving company just stack in towers in our basement.  This had to happen first for a few reasons.  First, we extended the large dumpster in our front yard for a couple of weeks, giving us lots of space to weed and dump.  Second, we discovered the basement floor was still quite dirty and we were making tracks on our wood floors every time we went downstairs.  And third, well, we needed to get through the boxes in order to find some important things that were missing!  We didn't have silverware for two weeks, we still haven't discovered the blender, and Cruz always seemed to request a long lost toy we had yet to uncover!  Typical kid, all the toys in the world unpacked and he was looking for THE ONE thing we hadn't found yet.  And they don't forget, let me tell you.  So, domino 1: the boxes; domino 2, a good basement cleaning.  Beau built an extensive shelving unit in our storage room, and I reorganized rubber maids, started a garage sale "room", and we stayed up super late one night mopping and re-mopping the basement.  It was a huge project completed and now Cruz and Mila have ample space to run, ride bikes, and throw a frisbee when it's too cold to play outside. :)

My Spring Break week involved domino 3, re-organizing, cleaning, and weeding the main floor now that everything was identified with a home.  I made several Target runs for organizational things (I should buy stock in baskets), and very slowly made some progress, room by room by room.  Window coverings were installed, our dining table was delivered, and I started adding a few touches here and there to make it all feel a bit homier.  Now that my canvas is clean (except those windows, which are going to be a beast), I can start with domino 4, decorating and personalizing each space.  This, of course, is what I've looked forward to, however, I want to be mindful of decisions and I know that all takes time and patience.  Our living room furniture gets delivered today and I can't wait to accent with lamp light and pretty colors very soon.

Moving into our house was not as I pictured it to be.  I guess things felt in flux so much prior to moving day that I assumed it would magically all go away when we stepped foot into our new home.  But I'm realizing more and more that a home is different from a house and must be cultivated and established over time.  Every simple routine - unpacking groceries, throwing in a load of laundry, warming up a bottle of milk, is feeling more and more like home every day we're here.  It's like your favorite pair of jeans - stiff at first, but worn in over time.  

Some pictures of our progress.  I told Wade I wanted lots of great camera light - turns out it's quite photogenic.






             



Wednesday, March 25, 2015

12/52

"a portrait of each of my children, once each week, in 2015"

 

Cruz: I LOVE this age right now, love that he is showing signs of growing up, yet still so innocent at the same time.  He's still my wild boy, but his sensitive side makes me melt.  The other night, I made the mistake of telling him I didn't want him to grow up, that I wanted him to stay four and live with me forever.  I expected it to go in one ear and out the other, but to my surprise, he crawled up in my lap and started sobbing, telling me he didn't want to get big and didn't want to move away.  It was my first sign of so many lessons to learn, so many big conversations we have yet to have.  Sometimes, it seems life can't get much busier or harder raising these babies, and then I quickly realize that this parenting business will only get harder.  If we could just keep them little...

Mila:  I had also forgotten how much I LOVE this age, too, 12-18 months is one of my absolute favorite stages.  Mila is our free spirit, and her sweet, unique personality makes us all swoon.  Her scrunchy faced, toothy grin, her slow open-mouthed kisses, her big Forrest Gump wave, and her vivacious, oftentimes irritable temperament are all bottled up into this perfect little soul that we're obsessed with.  Sunday, I dressed her up in her gold tights and vintage dress from Aunt Gina, and introduced her to the wonderful world of fruit snacks so I could sneak a ponytail and her first ever bow in her hair.  She wasn't so much a fan of the whole ordeal, but I couldn't get enough.  Our wild one immediately looked so girly, so grown up, and I once again stood in that familiar territory of wanting to freeze time forever.   

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

A Little St. Patrick's Day Fun

In attempts to get settled around here (and also get through our boxes while we still have a dumpster in our front yard), I had decided my Spring Break would consist of all work and no play this year.  That was the plan, anyway, until Cruz started talking about Spring Break the week prior, just as the weather started turning the corner.  One afternoon, he discovered his collection of sunglasses in a box in his room and spent the next half hour trying them on, asking me how he looked and informing me these would be perfect to wear on Spring Break.  At first I laughed, wondering how he seemed to know so much about Spring Break, picturing him watching old episodes of MTV's Spring Break Live, but then I started feeling guilty for not planning something to match the apparent picture he had of this week behind those cool man shades he had on.  Once again, my child forced me to hit the reset button, reconfigure my goals and include a few more opportunities for play sprinkled throughout this Spring Break week.  And with St. Patrick's Day and March Madness falling right in the middle of this week at home, it was the perfect opportunity to have some fun amidst the boxes and dirty windows in this house.  

We celebrated St. Patrick's Day simply, with the only green outfits that hung in their closets, a paint project while we waited for Daddy to get home, an Irish inspired meal that has become one of our favorite comfort dishes to prepare, and a special dessert I will definitely be adding into our lives more than once a year.  It all just seemed a little more special this time around - perhaps because it was the first holiday-ish event spent in our new house, or the first full-course meal shared around our new table, but it was just what we needed to give us a little more hope that a more settled life exists ahead.  I knew it would take time, but sometimes, you just have go make time.  

Some pictures (and a favorite recipe) from our St. Patrick's Day...

We painted four-leaf clovers with one of Cruz's absolute favorite things.  He, unlike his sister, exhibited restraint and only used his marshmallows for stamping, making a pageful of colorful green clovers he proudly displayed on the fridge.     





We are going through a bit of a challenging phase with this one, as she insists on being a part of everything, yet isn't exactly ready for a lot of it.  She yelled until I gave her exactly what her brother had, and as you can tell from the pictures, the paint tool didn't last too long. :)



Finished product!  Next time, we'll save craft time for nap time. :)




I baked a cake.  A Guinness cake, to be exact.  I haven't baked a lot of cakes from scratch, but this one may have started a newfound interest to explore in my kitchen.  This was seriously one of the best cakes I have ever had, and only a few steps beyond the boxed cake mixes I'm used to preparing.  More on this cake later.



New discoveries of old toys make for pretty content kids lately.  Every box unpacked is like Christmas for the Jorgensen kids...




We celebrated when Daddy got home from work, with green-tinted milk and leftover Guinness. 



And one of our family favorite meals, shepherd's pie.  This is a no-fail, comfort food classic around here, a dressed up tater tot casserole that you can adapt to your liking.  The recipe for this gem follows.


And last but not least, what's a celebration without cake and ice cream.  Mila got a scoop of green mint-chip ice cream, a dollop of whipped cream, and a bright red cherry on her tray, and it occupied her for a good twenty minutes while the rest of us sunk our teeth into our chocolate cake. 


Somebody's a fan of St. Patty's Day!

       
 Last but not least, my recipe for Irish Shepherd's Pie.  It can be made ahead, frozen and cooked later, and adapted based on what you like or what you have available in your fridge.  It's a go-to after I have a lot of leftover mashed potatoes in the fridge (am I the only one who always makes too many mashed potatoes???)     


What you need...

-5-8 potatoes, depending on size (think of enough mashed potatoes to spread and cover a 9x13 pan)
-1 1/2 pounds of ground beef
-1/2 pound of fresh sliced mushrooms, sauteed in oil and butter mixture
-1 can cut green beans
-1 cup frozen green peas
-1 can cream of mushroom soup
-1/2 can cream of celery soup
-salt and pepper
-milk and butter for mashed potatoes (or however you prefer your mashed potatoes prepared)

1.  Preheat oven to 350.  Spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray and set aside.
2.  If you do not have leftover mashed potatoes already prepared, peel, quarter, and boil potatoes until soft.  Drain, mash with milk and butter, and set aside.
3.  In a large skillet over medium heat, cook ground beef until brown.  At the same time, saute mushrooms in a few tablespoons of oil and/or butter (I use a little of both), until soft.  When hamburger is brown, drain and stir in mushrooms.
4.  Add in green beans, frozen peas, and soup.  Mix together and season with salt and pepper.
5.  Pour into prepared baking dish.  Spread a layer of prepared mashed potatoes over top, and bake for 30 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.  

Variations:  Feel free to play around with the vegetables according to your likings.  You can use canned mushrooms instead of fresh, fresh green beans instead of canned, or add in diced carrots, corn, or onion.  The key is the potatoes, and while many traditional shepherd's pies use potato flakes, I love the rich and buttery addition of my own fresh mashers.  It's filling enough to be a whole meal, and delicious as leftovers in the fridge.    


Saturday, March 21, 2015

11/52

"a portrait of each of my children, once each week, in 2015"



Cruz:  We wore green on Tuesday and did a little St. Patrick's Day celebrating with green milk and a clover craft.  Cruz decided his clover looked more like a jelly fish and he ran with it.  This is the creative license I hope he continues to construct as he grows big - maybe not the bead he decided to stick up his nose the day before... :)

Mila:  Baggy tights and all, this wild-haired little monster is sweet and fierce all at the same time.  She's starting to show me signs of a little girl, small things that make me smile because they are so different from her brother.  She loves shoes, for instance, and I'll catch her at random times throughout the day in her room attempting to put a boot on.  She also likes to put things around her wrist -- rolls of duct tape, a baby rattle, anything with a ring through it, and really likes it when you tell her she looks pretty. 

Monday, March 16, 2015

10/52

"a portrait of each of my children, once each week, in 2015"
 


Cruz: This kid has been cracking me up with his expressions lately.  He'll hold things behind his back and say, "Mommy, you aren't going to believe this," and then reveal a long lost McDonalds' toy.  Tonight, we had dinner at Hy-Vee Kitchen before getting groceries.  We showed you the array of food choices and let you have your pick.  Your eyes lit up and you said, "this is ah-mazing."  I adore his big love of everything in this world.

Mila: This is the essence of my girl lately.  Untamed, wispy hair, dirty socks, and bright, curious eyes, determined to soak up every piece of this world.  She wants in on everything, especially everything her brother is doing, and seems to love it all.  I took this picture just minutes before she helped me eat a half bag of snap peas in smoky chipolte dip.  She's just awesome.    

Thursday, March 12, 2015

home is where the mud is

Dreaming of sidewalks and manicured lawns, but enjoying the view from our porch in the meantime.  Our first of many pictures on these front steps.  






Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Good Things // A Year Later



I was starting to think winter was going to outstay its welcome this year, but it seems spring sort shot up out of nowhere and I'm sure no one is complaining about that!  The days are longer, the sun feels warm, and we're once again reminded of the powers in a little fresh air, especially for those littles.  I picked up the kids last night and couldn't wait to go on a little walk with them.  We discovered our post office box at the end of the street did indeed have our mail in it, we met some great new neighbors, and Cruz spent no time getting acquainted with their son, throwing rocks in nearby puddles and showing us their mud-covered hands, pride beaming on their faces.  Our construction zone neighborhood may be quite the playground for the little kids that seem to be bursting at the seams here, but last night we realized the extent of the mud that exists out here right now.  This was especially evidenced when I was trying to get Mila in the house and Cruz was refusing to come in, perfectly content throwing rock after rock into the pond that had formed in our front yard.  Just when I decided to give up and watch him from the window while I got supper on the table, I heard him scream, "MOMMY, I'M SINKING IN QUICKSAND!!!"  To my horror, Cruz was literally calf-deep in mud.  As I tried to pull him out, my foot slid in the same pit and he fell over, butt sunk in the thick, oozing mess.  I was laughing (out of desperation mostly), Cruz was crying, and Mila was screaming, trying to work her way out of my arms so she could get in on the fun.  Two baths and an overnight soak for the shoes later and I have a feeling Cruz understands what we mean when we now request to not step in the mud.  

Who am I kidding, right?!

We know this spring is going to be a little interesting out here with no lawn or driveway at this point, and are prepared to visit lots of parks and playgrounds until we have a lawn and green grass to call our own.  Such is the stage of life we currently reside in.  We're in, and so happy to be this far, yet, we are so anxious to feel settled and get back to doing the things we loved to do as a family.  We still have so many boxes to unpack, furniture to order, and rooms to organize, and we can't get there fast enough.  Yet, we've realized the difficulty in doing anything fast with two under four who require a lot of time and attention.  It takes patience, but boy, sometimes I feel as if I've been saying that since October.  Nearly a half a year of feeling in between and unsettled is quite the test for someone who thrives on routine.  We're close and we'll get there, one day at a time.

So in attempts to get back to some sort of normal in my life, I want to get reacquainted with many of the things I used to love about this blog.  This space has always been simple to me.  A place to document my babies, to share pictures and ordinary moments I want to always remember.  It's for them, and it's for me, as it's become this creative outlet to share and reflect.  But lately, I've lacked some inspiration, maybe because I've been too busy channeling it in other places, or lost sight of the simple because our life has been anything but the past six months.  I've been more mindful of this recently, and have been amazed at what I've been able to stop and notice.  Maybe it's a good sign I'm starting to get back to normal.  Or maybe the more the look, the more I see.  Maybe it's as simple as that.  

It's been one year since I wrote a Good Things post, a little blog series of documenting the simple moments that catch me off guard throughout my days and help me appreciate my present.  The days are long, but the years are short, and someday, I hope these posts help me recall those tiny little snapshots with a smile on my face.  My camera and I are starting to get acquainted again, and I'm itching to create, explore, and feel settled in the days to come.  And, of course, I'd love for you to pull up a seat and come along.

  




















Good Things // Our first week in our new home...

132.  When I heard Cruz ask Beau if he could hold Mila one morning after she had woke up.  He was laying on the couch watching cartoons.  They were quiet in there, so I finished my makeup and came out to the living room nearly ten minutes later.  I snuck up on them because I knew my presence would ruin it, and saw Mila all curled up next to Cruz, his arms wound around her, holding her hand and gently rubbing it while they laid together and watched Spiderman.  He's always been the best big brother to her, and she's always adored him as much as we have.

  
133.  Mila's curls, especially when we're in the bathtub and they get a little damp.  


134.  Arranging old books on new shelves 

135.  The way Beau and Mila walk hand-in-hand to the bathtub after supper.  

136.  Cheerios before school.  Mila's may end up all over the floor, but they look so cute doing the same thing together. 




137.  The way Cruz always turns our fireplace on, every single night 

138.  The first of many productions on a new stage


139.  Bananas and milk before bed, and Cruz and Mom talks at the island after Mila's went to bed.  I washed dishes, Cruz told me about a mystery egg assignment from preschool, and I dreamed about the very same things years from now.   I pray he always wants to tell me about his days.



140.  Waking up to Cruz standing by the side of my bed, Olaf or Raphael or Brother Bear in his hand, asking if he can "sweep wif you." 

141.  Jam sessions to "If You're Happy and You Know It."  Especially when Mila stomps her feet.



141.  The relief I feel at the end of the day, when the kids are bathed, fed, and tucked in bed, and I can sink into a chair for a minute or two.  They're long, hard days, but they're the best days.            

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