Thursday, April 9, 2015

When you feel unsure-press in.

I was the first one to preach that it didn't matter where we were, it was just that we'd be together. If we had one another, it didn't matter that we were leaving the home we brought our babies home to, the one we poured so much love and care.

It wasn't about the place we lived. The physical walls of the place we called home. Home is wherever we were together. I preached that over and over and over to myself.

And then that very first night, two+ months ago, after traveling thousands of miles by plane and being extremely sleep deprived--we turned the key into what would be our new home for the year. Just like that all my prior self talk flew right out the window. 

I'm not sure if it was just seeing a place so stark, so empty, so cold. It held no memories for us. It was dark outside, so no hope of sunlight was beaming through the windows to touch my shoulder and tell me it was ok. It was...just not home. We walked room to room, faking smiles for the kids but shooting looks of what did we do back and forth to one another. We'd seen it in photos. It felt ok. But that night, over exhausted from all the traveling, I felt worried that I could not make this place feel like home. No matter how 'together' we were. I was forgetting to practice what I preached all this time.

That night we went back to the hotel and I sunk into the bed with a face full of tears. I said things out of pure exhaustion like, I think we made a mistake. What did we do? We took our babies away from everything they knew. Should we go back?

I wasn't sure. I wasn't sure we had made the right decision. 

In those moments Declan held me and he promised me--he promised that we would tackle making this place feel more like home tomorrow, with fresh eyes, and sleep. That we could do it--that we could pretty much do anything if we were together. 

He was right. That next morning our boxes were delivered, we had hired two moving helpers, and as I saw some of our familiar things come into this place it did start feeling more and more like home. People commented that "wow-I can't believe you settled so fast". But you don't understand, we had no choice but to make this place feel as warm as we could, as fast as can be. 

Moving so far was our choice, yes--but it doesn't mean that we didn't cling to some sense of what we felt back home in Pennyslvania. We needed to feel settled, see the things that felt familiar. 

It brought us comfort.

I can safely say that although this little rental place is just that--a rental. It really feels like home to us. We're all here, we all feel settled, we're all together. 

It's the place that holds our laughter, our tears, our fights, all our crap, and the buckets of sand we drag in on our feet from the beach. It's the place we feel we can breathe and just be us. 


It's hard for me to share the story of what a struggle that first day or two was for me. I know that on the outside it can look so perfect and glamorous and oh so fun. But those initial feelings of shock, worry, feeling like an alien in a new place--yea, those were all really real to me. While I'm grateful I don't feel that way anymore, it was part of the growing and learning process.

Grow and learn. grow and learn...

Saturday, March 7, 2015

If I could send sunshine in a bottle.

Last year I was pegged as the chronic winter complainer. I absolutely know I whined and oh my gosh, if school closed again just go ahead and kill me. That winter really messed with me, a lot. With a toddler and a preschooler who both seemed to aggravate the ever living heck out of one another every two and a half seconds plus living in a small'ish house--we were so done. I was so done.

Now, we obviously live 2600 miles away from the mess that's happening back home. I see the facebook posts and the instagram photos and the cries for help on blog posts about #hurryupspring. And I SO GET IT.

I really, totally do.

I know how real it is to feel trapped and jailed by weather. To feel like 'oh my god, will the sun ever shine again?', and to truly doubt that it ever will. To see another 10" snow storm in the forecast one day after getting 2 feet dumped on you and feel sick to your stomach about it. To see piles of snow so high you know it's not possible they'll melt until May, at least. To get excited for 30 or 40 degree weather and actually think it's acceptable to go coat-less because it's a notch up from the single digits. How miserable it can be to be stuck inside with kids clawing at the walls and cabin fever so bad that nothing except a trip to the park in sunshine and flip flops can cure.

I only had to suffer through the very early stages of winter this year. Before long we were on the west coast down here in our little San Diego slice of heaven where 70 degrees and sunshine became our new winter 'normal'. You can go ahead and hate me if you are in the misery stage of winter right now. It's ok--I don't mind. (Just remember all the work, people I loved that we left, and logistics that go into a cross country move when you're doing the hating, ha!) I mean, it's 84 degrees today and I'm wearing shorts. I'm wearing shorts in March, which frankly, is unheard of where I'm from. The weather no longer holds us back, basically, from anything. School is always open. The beach is no longer reserved for just 'vacation'.

But no matter how much our daily life and weather patterns over on this side of the country have changed--I don't forget. Oh no, I don't forget for a hot second that feeling and that misery that comes along with a never ending winter. If you've not been there, not felt what it's like to be stuck inside for endless day with children (snow days pre-children were pure awesome by the way...), with a huge lack of Vitamin D, and the winter blues that comes along with it---remember to be nice. You don't get it and you may never get it. I hope you don't, actually. Because Endless Winter is exhausting, and hard, and soul-draining. And if you're someone who loves all this winter nonsense and being trapped indoors with kids for endless days, I don't understand you-but it's ok. To each his own.

So, my friends and family in that "We hope it's the end but we just don't know if another storm will slap us in the face"-season, I love you. I get it. And I'm praying for your sanity.

Eventually all your #hurryupspring hashtags will come forth.

And next winter you will book your tickets to see us to escape all that nonsense, yes? Just say yes.


Monday, February 23, 2015


Do you hear that? 

Me neither. 

Because there is silence here. Deep breath.

It's been almost a solid month of transition time here in San Diego. A month where the girls couldn't start into their preschool schedule here, and a month where the sister togetherness might have been just a tad too much. A month where they begged to go to school and to make "fwends" and all that fun stuff they missed from back home. 

But today. Today they started. Even if just a few mornings a week, it's enough right now to bring back some semblance of normalcy to their little world and I'm so excited for them. And maybe a little bit for me. Ok, I am excited for me, too.

I'm so excited that all I could do was come right back home and make a bowl of oatmeal to eat in peace. I like to live large.

But the truth of it all is that this past month as much as we might have annoyed one another at times, we needed that. We needed that time to, as Lucy says, "Da whole fami-wee" figure out this life on the other side of the country. We explored together, cried together, had meltdowns together, bugged the crap out of each other and really loved one another. 

These two were my sidekicks in exploring our new YMCA's, our beaches, the best place to take the dog for a walk, what restaurants are kid friendly, new churches and sunday schools, and best store (Target) to display epic tantrums to ensure the most eyes can view it.

Us, 'da whole fami-wee'--we were a team this last month figuring out new life over here. 

Though crazy at times, ok, a lot of times-I wouldn't want it any other way. 

Happy 1st day of 'california school', my babies. I'll see you in two hours.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Ocean ease.

I realize it could get very old very fast to be the girl talking about The!Beach! and sunshine all the time. Remember last year when I got a lot of heat for complaining about winter all the time? At least you don't have to worry about all that anymore. (But seriously, harsh winters kill the souls of moms everywhere.) If happy sunshine pictures and stuff bothers you I may not be your cup o' tea--at least for a little while until the newness of all this wears off.

I'm being told though that the ease of going to the ocean whenever you want, the wonder of it all, won't wear off anytime soon. That people who live by the ocean still love it and don't take it for granted. I'm hoping that this is true, because right now? Right now we are eating this up.

I admit that it still feels a little like vacation, even though Declan is back to working full days. But the girls haven't started preschool yet (two more weeks), and since our days are a little carefree right now we get a lot of time to explore our new home. I also break up way more sister-fights than ever--so truthfully, I can't wait for them to have some structure with preschool. I might be counting down the days, it's possible.

The best part about living so close to so many options of beaches and entertainment is that we can pop in for quick "tire the kids out before bedtime" visits. There is no better tired than beach-tired. Hauling all those buckets of water back and forth, playing tag with your daddy, climbing the big (to them) sand dunes, dude, it's exhausting stuff. Everyone slept in this morning.

We feel like we've adjusted pretty well for the most part. Our place is starting to feel like home, a place to breathe and rest and break up kiddie arguments. I'm starting to cook meals and get back to a little bit of normal. I finally (as you can see) broke out my camera for the first time since December 25th. Because this place deserves more than my iPhone.

I promise not to take this sight for granted. I promise not to be like the girls last night who walked right onto the beach during sunset, turned their bodies around and proceeded to take 20 minutes of sunset selfies, never having once turned to enjoy the sunset at all.

We'll be in awe each and every time we walk onto a gorgeous beach, and we'll look at each other and say, I can't believe we live here. 

There's just something about the sandy toes and wind-blown hair that makes me feel like a childhood well done.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

When you just up and move across the country.

Two years ago, heck, a year ago even, if you'd have asked me if moving all this distance was in our plans I would have said a big heck-no. Was it in our dreams? Yes it was. In fact, I remember telling a friend that one of two things would happen in my future, and I wasn't sure quite sure which.

1) We would buy a house and settle in an area in Pennsylvania we were comfortable with/felt like home just because that seemed like The Next Responsible Thing To Do.

or 2) We would up and move across the country to live in southern California.

If I'm being honest with you, number 2 didn't seem like something that would actually happen--more like a pipe dream, perhaps.

But here's the thing. I am not special or brave or crazy (ok, maybe a little bit), or wild and adventurous for doing this. My husband says, "yes, you are brave, babe". I say, "no, no sweetie, I'm not, because I'm still scared."  But we took an idea, a dream, really--and began to let ourselves really think about it seriously. We played out every scenario in our heads, we got the ball rolling, we took the big, scary steps. We let each door open and if it opened we walked through it. We explored the avenues and broke the news to family. It was met with different feelings and reactions from everyone, as to be expected. Some very sad, some super excited for us, some ignored it, and some were wonderfully supportive. But then we kept on.

I've gotten a lot of comments, mainly on my instagram, things that go something like this:

You're brave, I could never do that. 

I wish I could, but I just can't. 

Leaving family is never an option for us.

I'd miss everyone too much. 

It's too hard. 

My parents would kill me.

The details make my head hurt. 

I've always dreamed of moving to the beach. 

I'll just live vicariously through you. 

All of them are exactly how I felt, how I still feel if I'm being honest. I told Declan last night that it still almost feels like a dream that we live here. While we were going through all the little details that it took to get here (omg, SO MANY---), I thought we would surely die in the process. There's no way to figure it all out. Is there???

Turns out you can. And I know this is like beating a dead horse, but you just take one day at a time, one step. Before you know it you're there and scratching your head like, whoa, we did it.

My point is not to say, You should all move far away from your family. I'm not suggesting that at all, that'd be crazy and it's not for everyone. Some of us make choices to move away, and some of us don't get the choice based on careers or whatever.

What I am saying is that sometimes you have to ask yourself the hard questions and then answer them truthfully. Sometimes considering your little family unit and making decisions not based on everyone else's feelings is actually the healthiest thing to do. Sometimes stepping out into something so new and unknown can stretch and grow you in a way you may not have otherwise. Sometimes you have to think will the regret of never trying haunt you all your life? 

Moving your little established family because you want to try it may sound crazy, and, you know--maybe it is, but I'm just gonna err on the side of this quote when those feelings of Oh God, What did I do creep in. Because I hope I'm lying in bed with Declan when we're 80 one day and reminiscing on our SoCal adventure with a smile.


Monday, February 2, 2015

Just like that we're on the West Coast

So many times last week I found myself thinking 'by this weekend I will be living across the country'. It felt surreal. Despite all our belongings having made it ahead of us, despite knowing an empty townhouse awaited us, despite the airplane tickets booked, rental cars, and hotel---it still didn't feel real.

But there's something so weird that happens when you deliberately put one foot in front of the other. 


Go figure, huh? 

With that said, we are here. We survived two long plane rides and I think all the prayers I rallied ahead of time for my unruly kids to please be calm, for the love, helped. I really, truly think it worked because the unthinkable happened.

Granted, it was about 1.5 hours each, at separate times--but it helped make the first 6.5 hour plane ride feel a little more manageable. That and the mini iPads if we're showing all our cards. Trust me, the people around me appreciated the constant entertainment. That and me putting on a circus show of 'what other cool new art-thing/craft/toy can I pull out of my bag'. 

I'm proud to say that no one complained about us (that I know of), and at the end of each flight Lucy was giving hugs (and even got a kiss from a lady). Despite the unwanted germs, I'd call that a win. Declan and I high-fived and let out a huge sigh of relief when we touched down in San Diego.

We had been up an insane amount of hours at that point. We still had to get through the airport with two kids (no stroller), all our stuff (including two massive car seats), and hop on a shuttle to get a rental car. In my brain, it would never happen. The logistics of doing that while keeping two small children (who should have been on leashes) alive scared me. But our motto of 'one step at a time' continued to play out and before we knew it we were resting in a hotel room at 3 in the afternoon west coast time. 

I should probably say that no resting actually took place. Emeline just kept insisting that 'my body is telling me to jump on the bed', and Lucy kept begging for snacks. We decided to head over to check out this new place we hadn't even seen with our own eyes that we were supposed to call home. Talk about nerve-wracking. Also, not recommended on so little sleep. I lacked vision and to be honest I felt incredibly overwhelmed.  I'll write more about those feelings another time, because part of me needs to process that a little more.

We decided to head to in-n-out for burgers and fries, because, obviously. I held a noodle-like-sleeping Lucy on me the whole time. Her poor body was just exhausted and so confused by the time change. We all slept from 6:30pm-6:30am and we needed every ounce of that rest for our big move day.


The next morning with fresh eyes and sleep we reassured ourselves that we got this and promised ourselves we could make this place feel like a cozy home. It's especially in those moments I am so grateful for my husband and partner--because leaning on each other is all we could do.

Hiring two hours of moving help was the best decision ever. We had two of the sweetest guys helping us, who had our u-boxes unloaded within 45 minutes, boxes in the right rooms, and then they even put our beds together. A sweet delivery of fresh flowers from Declan's sister and an edible arrangements from my family made our welcome a little bit sweeter. 

Slowly but surely this little place so foreign to us just 24 hours before started to warm up and feel more like a place we could see ourselves.

Besides, heading to the place that drew us here to begin with is always a quick smack in the face, too. 

Hello--this, all this, is just a short drive away now. 

This little adventure is bound to have ups and downs, twists and turns--and a whole lot of sunshine.

With these people by my side, we'll figure it all out--one step at a time.

Monday, January 19, 2015

The in between.

We enjoyed the holidays while planning and managing all the little details that go into moving your entire family 3,000 miles away. But as soon as the last Christmas carol was sung, the last gift was given, it was all business for us in the moving department. I  have to say, I think we did a pretty good job juggling all those things at once. Perhaps I shouldn't pat ourselves on the back *too* much, but, hell, it's a busy time to move, just saying.

On December 26th the tree came down and the moving boxes came out. We purged, threw more away more than I could even begin to explain, sold a ton, and gave away a whole heck of a lot. I don't even think I'm the hoarding type, but my gosh, we accumulated a lot in the last 7 years of living there. I realized through the process that I'm not really attached to 'stuff' at all, and can easily say bye to things--while my husband is totally, completely the sentimental type. Not shocking for anyone who knows us. Needless to say, we had to compromise here and there. Did you know moving is very straining on a marriage? I'm sure you do. Needless to say, I'm certain we will power through. We actually still like each other a little, so it's all good ;) We still have to unpack in San Diego, though. 

However, it's now January 18th and the home we made a family in is empty. 

Everything we are taking to re-set up our lives and home across the country is shipping in two, tiny 8'x5'x7' boxes.

I get a lot of gasp, shock reactions with that picture. I know it's hard to imagine pairing down so much, but it was truly very freeing to simply to that degree. What we need is coming with us. What we don't is not. We are also totally buying a new couch in California.

I had posted some photos to instagram, you know, the sappy "my house is empty-we're moving" pics. They seem to really gut-punch us memory-keepers. Like the stuff somehow defines a home--and honestly, it kinda does to a point. The way we set up our sacred spaces becomes a part of us.

But this entire time I've held onto the fact that these people, all of them right up there? Yea, they are my home. When Declan and I were dating there was a song by a piano player we liked and it said "You are home to me"--and we'd write that on our cards to each other and all this sappy nonsense. 

But you guys-I'm not sure I fully understood that until I had a family. It's the truth of how I feel at this very moment. I can't tell you how I'll feel in a month, heck, 6 months, etc. Right now, though? I feel like if I have my people, my little family, I am home. Holding onto that fact has kept me from feeling too much sadness about leaving our townhome, comfort of family close by, and starting completely over. 

The house may be empty but the memories certainly aren't. So much life was lived in that place and besides all those steps, I'll mostly think back on that townhouse and smile. 


So many people have asked, so what now? 

The weird in-between time. Ah, yes. That's exactly where we are at.

Our stuff has left before us. Our place is empty. We are crashing at my childhood home, the dog included (yes, he's coming!) for the next 10 days. Our one-way flight to San Diego is January 29th and then the other part of this crazy adventure begins when we get on the West Coast. 

I never expected to become an expert (ok, not quiiiite) in cross-country moves by the age of 29, but, it's amazing what can happen when you just put one foot in front of the other and say: We're terrified, but we're doing it anyway. 

After this little in-between time, we are up, up and away. Keep us in your thoughts :)

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