silent spot.

It’s a genre that often goes unwritten. Or, at least, when I was desperate I couldn’t find it. How do you love your husband, grow in your marriage, and… last? without leaving the kids and parenting laurels behind.

My Mom always tells me that “the best gift you can give your kids is a healthy marriage” And, I wholly agree with that, and keep it close to my heart. But after spending a weekend dating every day, for four days (!!), we drove home and talked about how that felt.

Good? yes. Fun? yes. Sad? yes. Hard? yes. Fulfilling? yes. Worth it? . . . silent.

We went on four dates between Thursday-Monday, and they were all fun and amazing (kidless runs in the park, dinner somewhere fancy, a beautiful wedding, and another great run) but we saw our kids getting more tired, more ready for some family time (with us and the grandparents!), and a little sick of saying “bye bye Mama. Mama goes bye bye.” and it brought up some feelings for us both. As our marriage is in a joy filled and easy season, and has been for sometime, the dates were like a cherry on top. One was needed, and three were icing. But what have we been doing that has gotten us there? Why did it not feel worth it?

Dating is important, but it’s not the only path to a loving, full, intimate, successful marriage. But it is often the only real advice given when you google “how to stay married even after a baby” (yeah, I googled that once. it was a low moment.) Sometimes, when the bickering hits a breaking point, the cues go unnoticed, and the communication is quieter than the kids. . . you need something. But maybe that something isn’t what I thought.

Charlie and I have a lean towards Attachment Parenting and Unconditional Parenting, but read a lot of books and pull from a lot of places and don’t follow anyone thing dogmatically. But, in general, our philosophy goes with the golden rule; Treat others how you would like to be treated. And, kids are people too. And, I guess, I also lean to the idea that these years are short (really really really short) and it’s okay for me to endure some big self sacrifice in order to be wholly present in those birth-three years, even if its tiresome and hard, it is (and has been) incredibly worth it to me.

So, with that, having the only advice out there be “ditch the kids!” Be that, out of your bed, on dates, on weekends away, etc. All the articles/books/info I came across always seemed to herald alone time as the only means to love. And, I disagree. I think that there are times when that is, obviously, very needed. When stuff gets tough, conversations need to be had, and they need to be had away from tiny ears. And, dates are amazing! I love them! But, I don’t think, in any way, are they the only way.

I’ve been wanting to write about this, to bring to light a few ways that Charlie and I stay connected and growing in love and understanding of marriage and each other, but felt like maybe there isn’t an ear for it. But I’m going to plunge anyway.

A dear friend came for a playdate today. The kind of friend who asks good questions, and wants to hear the answers. And, a fellow writer, there is something kindred in that. She and I were talking about writing, and about how she would like to write a book, and I followed up with “oh yes! me too!” in kinda of a “bucket list” and “one day” kind of way. But the truth is that in that admission I put to words a dream I’ve only voiced to Charlie. I’ve been aching to write a book about how to have a marriage that is thriving while still being a very attached and conscious parent. I wouldn’t want to write a book, fully, about this until I’ve parented for long (I’m basically just a baby mom!). But I think the time is here for me to own that dream a bit, and to start getting my ideas to paper.. or screen. And start with the early years, the young children years, the years I am the thick of. When there are little limbs stuck to my side, and sweaty hairs wrapped around my arm while they sleep so sound. The years of being ‘over touched’ and under appreciated.

So, I guess, this is my forward. My outline. My rough drafts. My thoughts. It’s all raw, and new, and weird. And I think needed and important.

home tattoo

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It was a couple years ago that we started to dream about owning a home. Ever was growing, starting to crawl, and the ache to do  projects was getting too big to bear. We had painted and repainted, arranged and rearrange (and done it again) in our little sweet rental, but we had hit the edge of the walls. We began to dream of having a place where we could paint, knock down, build new, and buy forever pieces, knowing it could be forever. We started to let go of our comfort in being forever renters, and wade into the idea of risking everything to be home owners.

We started praying. We started saving. We started list making. And, probably biggest of all, we started dreaming.

One night, when Ever was about 7mo old, we were sitting on our little couch talking about the future and I said “when we are home owners. Lets get a little home tattoo.” it was flippant, small, and stuck.

We kind of backed off the whole home buying planning because the more we looked into it the less it seemed like it could ever be a reality (homes in our county are REALLY expensive compared to our wage). We let it go as a ‘maybe in ten years’ kinda idea.

But then the Little Lettered Dream Home popped up. And in a whirl wind of love, community, prayer, and a little magic. We ended up in our perfect, wonky, 102 year old dream home. And through that whole process, the ‘little home’ tattoos crossed out minds again and again.

Something about the simplicity. The permanence. And the shared experience just spoke too closely to the whole process.

And today was no different. We stopped into the parlor, got fit in right away, and walked out giddy and grinning.

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So, happy home owning, birthday(s), anniversary, and just because Love.

I can’t believe, any of this, is real life.

 

Full.

 

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I used to think that fulfillment was found in only the usual spaces. The paycheck with my name on it, the pat on the back from a superior, the scale moving downward, and the compliments from strangers. It was a small definition and one without much depth.

I grew a little and found fulfillment in consistent alone time with God, in meeting Him at 6am, on the dot and without fail. In being at church on the right days, with the right people, at the right time. But that was weak and small, that was habit and religion, not fulfillment and relationship. That was another definition that was little and without growth.

Lately I’ve noticed fullfillment shifting, new every day. It those deep baby sighs as they fall asleep in my arms, full. In hands plunged deep in the sink of hot water washing the film from a meal I made with my hands, full. I am finding it in reading to Nolie, endlessly, full. In spelling out words, counting up high, singing without ceasing, and prayers on my lips all the time, full. Thanks Full. His gifts, so full. A constant conversation with my God, not a stranger, feeling Full.

I have been doing the work, or rather letting it happen, that I am not aching for Full to come in the form of a check, habit, number, or accolade. But I am noticing Fullness, fulfillment, and Him. Everywhere.

In bubbles blown high off the back deck, in a freshly cleaned kitchen, in burping a newborn, in a rearranged living room, in a nearly all homemade renovation, plunging into the cold lake, in hands callused and held tight for ten years, in my girls bright eyes, in new words learned from lips and pencils.

The definition is growing, expanding, exploding. And it’s unending.

Weekend Projects; Open Shelving!

I’ve been seeing open shelving all over and really loving the clean look and how quickly it lightens up a kitchen. But instead of going all demo and ripping out a cabinet we decided to try a lesser commitment and see if we can even do open shelving, because, I mean, in practice it kinda seems like a lot of work. Only beautiful things on those shelves, dusted or used often, and no clutter. The nice thing is that if this doesn’t work, we can always pop the doors back on and we aren’t out anything.

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We started by taking the doors off, ripping out  the previous owners contact paper, and then painting the whole shebang. Upon looking at it done I am doubting my choice in black and considering re-doing it in a bright white, but I chose black because the old cabs are all an off white and I thought it might just draw further attention to that. But, I mean, I have to change that at some point anyway so maybe nows the time? Who knows. We’ve got some other (big!) projects percolating now, and this is working cute for now!

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{also, there is a little peek at our mudroom ceiling! Bright blue! I adore it.}

We also found some stellar deals on lights at our local ReStore so the mudroom got a new cute globe light ($7!!) and we found a super fun 70’s chandelier for above our dining room table for $25! I want to paint the outer wood a bright white, Charlie wants to keep it as is. We hung it up there (not in it’s final resting spot) to see if we like it, and are going to live with if a couple days before we bust out the paint or not.)

10504862_10100949834960180_2806723189425276707_oWhat do you think? Paint it white (or? a bright color?) or leave it be and just get it in its rightful spot? We’re torn!

alone time feels light.

I want to put some thing down about alone time and it’s importance. About the hot coffee next to me, the cold water on the other side, the clean living room to my left and the silence below the keyboard clipping. But no words fill up that space that is empty and important.

Asking for space. Shirking the guilt.

“do you want me to take the girls to the park for awhile, you can read or write or paint or pin or… anything.” yes. yes I do.

Even when he doesn’t ask. It’s. . .

“I need space. I need my skin untouched for 45minutes. I need it in my home.” and it’s him, gladly, going. It’s them, gleefully, going. It’s me, guiltlessly, refilling.

Alone time is love. And Love isn’t selfish.

And there aren’t words. There is hot coffee. A clean home. Cold water. A drawn bath. And a break. And I am taking it.

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And I’ll probably end up right here.

Thankful.

It’s been a hard day. But the thing that always pulls me back is thankfulness for the moments.

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Independent play. Listening to her describe her dreamy world around her and talk to the drawings she creates.

10454209_10100937022516420_5635396936974717384_oA late, and needed, nap. Growing things, found things, and a tidy home. Can you spy Everbee?

10468641_10100937022501450_4003436335990859520_nAll hung up, all ready for play, all closed up for the night.

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Bucket List Blonde

I come from blonde roots. My Mom is a blonde, my sister is, and all the nieces and nephews are little toe heads. I’ve always been dark haired. I would have been named Robin had I followed in all the blonde footsteps before me, but I came out with gorilla levels of nearly black hair, and so my sister got her way and I was named Autumn.

As long as I can remember I’ve wondered what it’s like to be blonde, could I pull it off? Would it be too weird? And… would it be more fun?

This past month has been a weird one, full of joy and fun but also transitions and tiredness, settling into our home and trying to find the groove we fit into. And in all that tumult and the dust settling around huge life changes I felt that itch. The one for a Big Change. It was this or a tattoo, so I figured it was time to scratch one off the list and just go for it.

I am so glad I did.

10420102_10100933083530180_1554885585341085984_nBefore…

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After!

I still feel a little like I am wearing a disguise but the strangest side effect is that I feel about 100X more confident and like such a girl! I’m getting dressed, grinning from ear to ear, and kinda feel like I’m walking on air. Being Blonde will be a short season for me, but one I can already tell I am going to adore. Cue the CHORUS: ” I ennnnnjoy being a girrrrl!”

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fathers day; Dear Charlie

I wish I had all the moments bottled up. They’d fill the mason jars, overflow the cups, it’d be the moment when the bath runs too high and Nolie starts giggling and Ev stands tall and the water just barely drips over the edge and all of a sudden it’s an overflow of love/holdme/read another book/can you build that papa/I’m your baby/toss me up high/draw another picture with me? and those looks you give. The exchange between all of those sparkly artist eyes, the ones you all share.

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The look of concentration Nolie has, ear protection on, while she builds a fairy world in the scrap wood box below you as you craft art for our home.

The tiny voice saying her known words, “Ebby Papas Baby. Ebby Lobah you.” that she’s felt since the start and can now put to voice.

It would be canisters full, memory cards overloaded, words piled on top of each other in the tiniest scrawl I could fit on a card, that would start to scratch the surface of those moments.

You are a super dad. A super husband. And a constant source of hand squeezes, kisses, encouragement, and growth. You see where we fall short and work to build up. You look at our girls as precious, important, and people in their own right. You don’t steam roll, take over, covet control, or put your foot down. You give empathy, words, affection, read books and care about learning what we can change and do better.

My hope was to be with a man who was always growing. Someone who knew that they knew nothing, who didn’t take the roll of Dad lightly. You study it. You pray over it. You talk and talk and talk with me through the ideas and ideals. You put effort and time, care and thought, and so much love into being a Dad.

When we first found out I was pregnant with Nolie. And I sat there on the big green ottoman, knees to my chest holding that test. And you ate peanut butter cup after peanut butter cup after peanut butter cup and I shook and shook and said “I think I should just call my Mom. I really need to just call my Mom.” and you looked at me, with steady eyes and said. “Autumn. I am so excited, this is good!”

You were right. You were so right. This is good. This is past good, out of the park, beyond my wildest dreams, the best adventure. Thank you. Endlessly, over the top, don’t have the space or words in the world to put it together, Thank You.

You blow me away my Love.

Happiest Fathers Day Charlie, your title of Best is shared with only one other man, my Dad. And I don’t have to tell you what a high honor that is.

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hands in deep.

I have my fingers dipping into so many little pots, stirring and tasting and trying, but not quite seeing the ends yet.

It’s a phase of calm and consistent. Eating well even if my jeans stay tight, of running the miles even if they feel hard each time, of talking her off the ledge and using calm words and decibel even with my crazy rises and bubbles up into what could be explosive. I am in a space of meal planning, the same simple meals, to save the pennies. To paint the same colors and love them each time I stroke them on. It’s feel like a hard space, waiting. The in between. The “results” and “behaved” are far off, or maybe right there, but I can’t tell because it’s all around a bend.

All I can do is remember two things; I am worth moving, eating, loving well. No matter what. No matter what the ‘results’ look like. And no matter how long any of it takes to achieve.

And, two, the girls are worth my calm-loving-empathetic and listening response. Every.Single.Time. No matter if it’s the hundredth time Ever has hit Nolie, or the thousandth time Nolie has deemed a trinket “too special to share! NO EVER! NO!!!”, no matter if I didn’t sleep the night before, or if we are out of coffee. No matter what. They are worth that. And hand in hand, they are worth apologizing too. Even if they don’t apologize back. They are worth the fresh starts, the clean slates, the ‘no keeping of accounts’. They are  girls who pour grace out on me when I fail, and model to me all the love I want to give right back.

This is a good space, a good season, a waiting and calm and consistent space.

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5 tips for decorating a small home

{1} Pick your colors!

My knee jerk is to paint each room as sounds good to me in the moment, or as pintrest inspires me in the moment…ahem. BUT, Because we have a small home we need all the rooms to work together, flow well, and have some continuity to make the whole space feel larger and more fluid. The house seems larger because each space isn’t jarring. Our colors are black, white, grey, and different variations of blue. I am sure we will deviate here and there (hey yellow! I adore you!) but keeping the bulk of our big pieces and paint in those families is helping SO much. For example, I was worried that bringing a grey rug into our already pretty monotone living room would make the space feel a little blah, wrong! The rug wholly pulled the room together.

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{2} Keep your furniture Low

Keeping furniture to scale is important. Large pieces can help fill a space, so a couch that fits well across a whole wall is important, and will help you not have dead space, but keep them low profile and legs visible so that you still have nice bright site lines. For us that meant that we needed a lower coffee table (ours was about mid thigh height and it felt a little invasive since it sat higher than the seat of our couch). I found one with nice bones at a local thrift shop for $15, a coat of bright paint on the bottom and some sanding and clear coat on the top made it a great and easy couple hour DIY project that added some great punch to our space.

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{3} Draw the Eyes UP!

Drawing the eye up is important in opening up a small space, so having a bright or interest filled ceiling (coffered ceilings are in my dreams) helps loads, but if your budget is a bit lower then adding a large mirror to an empty wall or some lights strung well and high can do wonders. We have little pink twinkles in our girls room to have as evening reading light, but they also draw attention to the gorgeous tall ceilings. But in our kitchen the top felt a little empty, soon we will install some open shelving and that will do the trick. But this little decoration is bringing some whimsy to our space as well as fun light in the evenings. Eyes up, and it’s starry bright. 10271536_10100905858534290_3111675366007054655_n

{4} Make the functional pieces fun pieces.

Our kitchen cabinets are TALL. So we needed a step stool desperately. My knee jerk was to buy the cheapest plastic one from Ikea (like we have in the bathroom… out of necessity thanks to a certain two year old pee monster) since it’s so functional. But because our home is little the stool can’t be hidden away. So we picked up a wooden one (also from ikea) and painted it (the same bright blue as the bottom of the coffee table and our entry room, see? continuity! It’s fun, not boring! and saves you money ;) ). I love how it turned out and that it isn’t an eye sore in the kitchen but instead another cute moment. And, for only $15 it’s a pretty nice deal too.

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{5} Don’t follow the rules too closely.

My bedroom is small, it shouldn’t have a four poster huge bed. But? I adore it, so it does. The entry room would look bigger if it had bright walls, but I wanted a saturated jewel tone, so? I did it anyway. If you love it in your home, it’s worth it to have in your home!

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Super strict black/white/grey in the office… except when it’s not.