Wednesday, February 24, 2016

35

I celebrated my birthday last weekend. Thirty-five! I'm not one to get hung up on numbers but dang, that one snuck up quickly. I barely had a chance to think about turning another year older with all this moving business lately.

My birthday fell on a Saturday this year so Andi, Tory, Aden and I spent my special day at the lake cabin. The weather was cold - VERY COLD - so we were limited with what we could do outdoors. I was itching to go on an adventure - but where? I found myself searching for warm weather flight deals last-minute because I hate the idea of celebrating my birthday in the cold. No dice, though. (Someday I'll live in a place where it'll be sunny and warm in February!)

I woke up in Aden's bed the morning of my birthday. He was up screaming in the middle of the night for seemingly no reason other than I *think* he's ready to transition to a big boy bed. We have him sleeping in a pack-n-play at the cabin and lately he seems less than pleased with his accommodations. Are we ready to take on that battle with him? Ugh, that topic is for another day...

Anyway, Andi greeted me upstairs with fresh coffee and a made-to-order breakfast of eggs, sauteed kale and a English muffin with almond butter (my go-to favorite these days). A hot breakfast! Now, that's a birthday treat!



Tory was over-the-moon excited for me to open my birthday present. This year, she and Andi wrote clues for me to guess my presents -- new gloves and a workout mat. Andi said all the clues were written by Tory; he simply wrote down what she said:
  • You wear these in the arctic 
  • You do jumping jacks with it
  • It's your favorite color
  • You wear it when your hands get colder, or when you need to do work


So cute and creative!

After breakfast, Andi offered to take the kids for a drive so I could do my workout video in peace. I told him it wasn't necessary, but it *was* nice to work up a sweat without little people underfoot.


When Andi and the kids returned, we drove to nearby Beaver Dam Lake for an afternoon of ice fishing. I would've never imagined in a million years I'd spend my birthday catching fish on a frozen lake, but when in Rome... or Wisconsin!

Our ice house has a cook-top and microwave inside, so Andi brought the makings for chicken stir-fry. We rarely cooked in the ice house last year, so it's been fun to try different meals in there this winter. The kids spent the afternoon fishing with Andi and coloring pictures / playing board games with me. It was surprisingly quiet and relaxing.





Around dinnertime, we packed up the ice house and headed back to the lake cabin. Andi made cedar-plank salmon with quinoa for dinner and the kids and I made chocolate-covered bananas pops for my birthday dessert.


Later, our favorite cabin neighbors stopped over for a celebratory birthday drink. Joe + Lisa and Oscar + Deanna had been out snowmobiling all afternoon, and collected "birthday presents" for me from all the bars they visited along the way. They presented me with a bowling pin, a beer glass, a map, a baseball cap, and a cardboard cut-out of Danica Patrick. Ha!

A wonderful, low-key birthday celebration. Looking forward to a fabulous year ahead!

Friday, February 12, 2016

SOLD!

Andi and I accepted an offer on our house last Friday, eight days after it listed on the market. Wahoo! Our house is now "pending sale" as we await the final closing date of April 15.

To say I'm breathing a sigh of relief is an understatement. Eight days are a tiny blip on the calendar and yet, they were some of the most stressful ones I've experienced in a while. (What? Stay-at-home-mom life doesn't warrant many nail-biting situations.)

For me, it wasn't the actual house showings that kept me up at night; it was the constant feeling of influx. Tory, Aden and I spent countless hours in the car shuffling to and from the cabin and our various weekly activities in the Twin Cities. Chloe (+ the dog kennel) came along with us because I couldn't leave the dog at home during scheduled or potential showings. We couldn't cook meals at home because I didn't want to dirty the kitchen, and I discouraged Tory and Aden from scattering toys all over the house. Oh, did I mention we all had the stomach flu smack-dab in the middle of that?  It was... not the best of times.

The stress of the unknown was terrible on my nerves (and my poor cuticles). Would anyone like our house? How long would it take to sell? Was is priced right? My steady-handed husband gave great advice when he said, "It's out of our hands; there's no sense in worrying. Move it to the back of your mind and wait to see what happens." He was right. We'd done everything we were willing to do to show our house in the best light. Whatever will be, will be.

And, it was. Now that we have a buyer, it's easy to look back on the situation and think say how smoothly it transpired. The housing inspection took place earlier this week, and even that came back with relatively few changes. We'll move into our new place two weeks before we close on our current home, so timing should work well for everyone. 

So what's next for us? Andi and I found a new place to live in a nearby first-ring suburb of the Twin Cities. It's .7 miles away from Andi's office and he's thrilled to live so close to work. I'm excited the kids and I will see him more often during the weekdays, and happy to live in a vibrant neighborhood with shops and restaurants in walking distance of our home.

I think Andi and I surprised all of our friends and family when we announced we're moving into a condo. The reasoning is simple: We spend three days a week at our lake cabin in Wisconsin, and it doesn't make sense to own a 3,000+ sq. ft. house in the Twin Cities that we only use Monday-Thursday. If I'm being honest, Andi does little more than sleep and shower in our current home -- he's usually working! We had a too-big-for-us house that Tory, Aden and I mostly occupied.

Our new place is a hybrid of sorts; a condo that feels more like a town home. It's a brand new 3-bed, 2 bath unit with stainless steel appliances and a fabulous roof-top deck. Construction crews are still finalizing our space, so the builder/interior designer even let Andi and I select our own paint colors, flooring and granite. Best of all, the layout is perfectly functional for the way we live (at least, we hope). I'm excited!    


My goal for the next month is to purge everything we don't use/need in our current home. I've been a selling machine on the local Facebook garage sale site, and it feels awesome to de-clutter for a fresh start ahead.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

My Little Yogis

When Tory asked Santa Claus for a yoga mat last Christmas, I laughed and thought it'd be one of those things she wanted but never played with. You know, like the Dollar Spot junk toys she begs for every trip to Target. I wasn't sure she even knew what yoga was, aside from seeing me do it a few times in the living room.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized she was trying to be like me. "When I have my own workout mat, we can do our workouts together, Mom" she told me on more than one occasion. It made my heart happy to think I was being such a positive influence on her that I decided if she wanted a yoga mat, I'd get her one ... even if it ended up at the bottom of the toy bin.

Technically, it was Santa Claus who brought Tory a yoga mat on Christmas morning and it's been such a hit with she and Aden alike. I searched YouTube for a free kids yoga video that would be age and skill-appropriate for Tory, and came across the Cosmic Kids Yoga channel. It's awesome! I love how the instructor incorporates a story and imaginative play into each video. It completely captivates Tory's attention for 20 minutes and gives her a good outlet for exercise indoors.

Tory asks to do one of her yoga videos near daily, and prefers to dress in a "lea-form" (leotard) while she does it. I get it, girl! It's important to feel good about yourself while you exercise.



Let me take a second to comment on those long legs ... just when did my baby girl grow to be so tall?!

This old picture popped up on my TimeHop app the other day, and it made me smile. I guess my little Tory Bean has always been a little yogi.



Even Aden gets in on the action once in a while. Last week after I finished my morning workout, Aden crawled onto my yoga mat and pretended to do a few moves.



It fills me with pride so see what a positive influence I'm having on my kids. I don't claim to be a perfect parent by any means, but it's a good reminder that kids really are watching and learning from you everyday.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Cabin Weekend Recap + The Kitty Cat Snowmobile

There's nothing like a relaxing cabin weekend to put a spring into my weekday step. Andi, Tory, Aden and I had such a happy weekend there which was much, much needed after the flu swept through our family the weekend before and with all this moving business.

The kids and I practically lived at the cabin last week since we had so many real estate showings at our house in the Twin Cities. Twenty-three showings in eight days, to be exact. It was easier to pack up and move to the cabin for a while, so that's what we did.

Tory, Aden and I arrived to the cabin on Thursday afternoon, just in time to play outside in the snow for a while. About 6 inches of new snow had fallen since we'd been there last, so Tory did what she does best -- stop, drop and snow angel'd in every spot she could. Likewise, Aden did what he does best -- eat alllll the snow. Good thing it was fresh!




We ran errands in town Friday morning, and then I brought the snow indoors for a sensory-type activity. I pulled together some bowls and spoons and made some snow paint (water + food coloring) for the kids to use. Tory thought the whole thing was kind of lame (like, "why are we doing this when we could play in the snow outdoors?"), but Aden really loved it. He's the one who struggles to maneuver his little body around in the snow, so this gave him a chance to play without all the frustration. 



Andi drove to the cabin separately on Friday night, and the four of us did some exploring outdoors Saturday morning. There are three state-owned islands on our lake but I haven't spent much time on them. They're open for anyone to use, but against the law to camp overnight. Anyway, the four of us hiked out to one on the ice, pretending we were on an exploration. Tory and Aden played hide-and-seek with a stick in the snow, and discovered a cave underneath the roots of a toppled-over tree. Let them be little -- I love how the cabin brings out the adventure and imagination in our kids.




That afternoon, Andi's friend Chris drove up from the Twin Cities and the two of them went snowmobiling together. Andi wanted to take advantage of the freshly fallen snow -- you never know when / if we'll get more, after all. (Last year, the snowmobile trails were closed the entire season for lack of snow.) Our cabin neighbor, Lisa, stopped over and asked if Tory wanted to come outside with their family for a while so she did that, Aden took an afternoon nap, and I found myself with two quiet hours to myself. Unheard of these days!

Later after Andi returned to the cabin, we met Lisa's family outside on the ice for a bonfire on the island. The crew roasted hot dogs, ice fished with tip-ups and drank a few beers around the fire. Love these impromptu get-togethers at the cabin so much!



Andi made us a yummy broccoli, pepper and ham frittata for breakfast on Sunday morning, then the four of us hopped in the Ranger for a mid-morning cruise in the country. Last winter, we went for truck rides almost every weekend but for some reason, we've hardly gone at all this year. It was a nice change of pace to drive around, drink hot tea and look at stuff. So relaxing and so redneck, all at the same time. 


On the way back to the cabin, Andi picked up a Kitty Cat snowmobile from a local auto body shop. His cousin gave us the kids snowmobile after his four girls outgrew it. It needed new spark plugs and a carburetor, but runs great now! We headed back to the cabin to test it out right away.

It took Tory about an hour to grasp how to push the gas button with her right thumb, and maneuver the steering at the same time. Once she figured it out, she was off like a rocket down the cabin road.




Rest assured, the Kitty Cat snowmobile moves as fast as a lawn mower; both Andi and I could run alongside the kids as they rode it. Just enough power to send Tory along with an adrenaline high! 


video
 
We let Aden drive, too, and not surprisingly / scary enough (!!) for this mama -- he did great! My toddler and preschooler can drive a snowmobile; I'm dumbfounded.
 
Tory was such a tough girl, she even attempted to pull her own sled out of the snow bank - ha! 
 

 
Best of all was the look on Andi's face. He was so proud of his kiddos for being brave and trying something new. Since then, all Tory can ask is "when can we go back to the cabin and ride that Kitty Cat?" So much fun. Can't wait to get up there again next weekend.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

We're Moving!

A sign in the yard makes it official -- we're moving!



Well, said better, we hope to move.

Andi and I listed our house for sale last Thursday. We've tossed around the idea of moving for a few months now, and ultimately decided the early spring housing market (February 1 - May 31) is the perfect time in our lives to take the leap.

Several factors played in our decision to move. For one, Andi wants to live closer to his office. Technically we live about 9 miles away right now, but with traffic (which is always in the Twin Cities) his commute becomes close to 45-60 minutes each way. This forces him to leave the house before the heaviest period of traffic in the morning and stay at the office until after traffic dies down in the evening, turning a regular day at the office into a 15 hour work day for him. Living closer to Andi's office means he could join the kids and I for breakfast some mornings and be home for dinnertime at night. He'd actually get to see the kids while they are awake during the week -- now, there's a novel idea!

Tory's nearing kindergarten age so now is the time to move school districts if we're planning to do so. I'd like to be settled into a new neighborhood and learn the in's and out's of our area before thrusting ourselves into school days. Plus, the area around Andi's office is more urban and Andi and I have decided that's really more our style. I've enjoyed living in our quiet area of the 'burbs, but we miss being walking distance from shops and restaurants.

So, here's the thing: selling a house is hard work! Selling a house with two little kids underfoot is even harder! The last two weeks have been a whirlwind of stress and activity as we've readied our house for sale. We didn't have much to do in terms of repairs or maintenence on our actual home, but my Type A personality mandates a spotless interior for showings. Every drawer and every cabinet needs to be clean and organized. Every floor and every counter top service must shine. I want buyers to walk into our house and see exactly what I'd expect to see -- a beautiful home.

We've had 14 showings scheduled in the last five days ... which is a great turnout, I think. I want to say 'yes' to every single person who desires to walk through our home because you never know who will be The One. And, I want this process to move along as quickly as possible. It is so challenging to live in an imaculate house with two kids under the age of four. Thank goodness we have the cabin for refuge! Tory, Aden and I spent a long weekend there Friday-Tuesday and are heading back there again on Thursday. It's way too much work for me to keep everything clean while they're home, and it's also unfair for me to ask them not to play with any of their toys or mess up their rooms in an effort to keep things organized.

Our lives feel like they're turned upside down right now, but hopefully it's only for a few weeks. The inside of my car looks like a tornado hit, we've spent so much time in there! Though not surprisingly, Tory and Aden are handling all the shuffling fantastically. As I often tell Tory, "home is where our family is; as long as we're together, that's all that matters."