Monday, November 30, 2015

An unconventional Thanksgiving

I hate regrets. One of the things Declan and I swore to each other when we moved to the other side of the country was to make sure we explored it. Kids in tow, all the madness that comes along with that, the details, the chaos, the fun---we were going to adventure the heck out of this new home.

This year we really had no Thanksgiving plans so it seemed like the perfect time to do more of that. We are headed back to Pennsylvania for Christmas, so Thanksgiving was definitely not on the table, too. We did do an early dinner on Saturday where I prepped an entire meal myself (and it didn't totally suck!) to celebrate with my sweet brother and his wife. But we had the time, the kids had off school, and so we figured we'd do a coastal drive up to San Francisco making some fun stops along the way.

When it came to planning, all it really took was one long morning of coffee & cinnamon buns at the kitchen table with Declan, a little bit of bickering, and some hotel plotting. The rest was all pretty go-with-the-flow from there. 

Our stops were: Malibu, Santa Barbara, Solvang, San Simeon (southern point of Big Sur), Big Sur, and two days in San Francisco. We had planned to go to Monterey, too--but we were just running out of time and energy. 

Instead of boring details, I'll just say this. I decided to do some choppy video footage along the way because when I mash up these videos it seems like my kids cling to them, love them, feel super connected to our trips even more. I know they're not professional, I know they're wonky, and it's ok. I like having the memories in more than just photos, because video just feels more real, even little tiny clips all hodge-podged together. 

Was our trip perfect? HA HA, no. The kids fought here and there, they were too loud in the hotels, some restaurant stops had my eyes bulging out of my head due to their behavior--but overall? It was truly an adventure, and one I'm so glad we experienced together.

Coastal California from Katie Balla on Vimeo.


Hope you had a happy, happy Thanksgiving weekend. 

Thursday, November 12, 2015

A privilege to love you.

Parenting young kids is a selfless thing. Nothing will remind you more of that than when you have to untangle your very pregnant self from the most comfortable of pillow situations set up justttt right about 12x in one night because, kids, man. The grunting and groaning that goes into getting in and out of that pillow shelter is something from a scene of a movie I'd never want to see.

The back pain that happens if said pillows aren't set up just right isn't worth it. So grunting and groaning it is.

Needless to say it was one of those kinds of nights last night. The kind all parents have, some of us more often than others. Not anything crazy unusual-- but bad dreams comforted by a little arm-rub and a prayer, a little bribe to get back into bed, coughs that are annoying and nagging, and a fevered kiddo crawling into your bedroom because they're just too exhausted to walk on their feet. Setting up the 'sick-bed' next to your own, checking on sick big sister multiple times, and little sister coming in for a morning cuddle sesh (which is really more like a 'kicking mom with her freezing cold feet repeatedly' sesh).

A day that wasn't meant to be spent at home solely has now turned into that, and honestly--it's ok. Plans change and that's life with children, and life with school germs.

Even in these moments just now that I snuck away to the kitchen table to drink some water and munch on some honey nut cheerios while two little dress-up Elsa's watch Frozen, I am comforted. I'm comforted in the fact that we are all doing it. We are knee-deep in kid-needs and wants, and getting up from our bed 10x a night to comfort and love our little ones if need be.

In the time it took me to write this barely-a-post blog, I have filled up two cups of water, poured cereal, poured second helpings of cereal, changed two pairs of panties (Lucy is very indecisive on her character choices these days), dressed up a tiny Elsa character, blown noses that aren't mine, paused the movie to settle an argument, and re-attached the back of the dress-up gown, again.

Life is a constant up/down, and sometimes literally--as the second you sit, you are riiiight back up again doing something else for your kid (I just cut a bowl of never ends). I may sometimes do it with a grunt or a groan, but I'm constantly reminded that the privilege of children is just that. Always, but especially in this month dedicated to gratitude, I'm going to try to keep remembering that little fact. Raising and loving these little people is a privilege. Less moaning and whining and more gratitude. More love.