the weekends

I don’t talk about being a stepmom much, at least I don’t feel like I do. It’s equal parts frustrating and good; I do what I can but I think I will always be on the outside.

We’ve been making an effort to stay in Chicago when we have Stepson. This weekend, we did homework, built train tracks, went to a cheaper version of Chuck E Cheese with a Groupon, grocery shopped, made s’mores, went to church, practiced writing and sight words, and lazied around a little.

It was good. He had a good time.

There’s no denying by anyone that he does better when he’s with us. He sleeps better, listens better, eats better. He pooped on the potty (hooray! will celebrate this EVERY TIME.). We talk out our feelings and we turn away from excessive treats and watching TV (because we don’t have one).

But we also don’t have any other kids. It’s quieter at night. The routine has been down since day one on bedtime and expectations, plus what we have food wise in the house. Husband is pretty strict on how he behaves.

 

We are not super parents, we don’t have all the answers.

We only have him a couple times a month, so we all tolerate each other well. We’re trying to ease into taking him a little more here and there, like a Thursday and Friday plus a weekend. I’m nudging Husband to say ‘yes’. I think it’ll be good for all of us.

 

He likes his room, btw. He’s a boy, so he didn’t go berserk, but he enjoys the large, empty space to play in and was very, very good about cleaning it up (with a little whine to go with it).

 

He and I don’t do so well on hugging it out. I don’t like to force it, even though others try to force him to hug me. I want him to want to, because I know kids will hug when they mean it. Finally, finally, tonight he voluntarily came and hugged me good bye without Husband prompting. It was nice.

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spontaneously planned (nashville)

This past weekend Husband and I packed up and headed to Nashville, TN. It was not a long trip by any stretch (drive down Saturday, drive back up Tuesday). But it was something that we were both looking forward to, because we hadn’t been on a vacation in over a year. I especially knew that I was going to love this getaway after an overnight in Ohio back in March felt luxurious.

Since we’ve been head over heels for Montana, our trip to Nashville had come without much planning on our part. Husband had been there before, so he knew a few sights we might want to check out.

Before we get started, can I please once again expound on the virtues of booking with Priceline? We spent $65/night for a $200/night room with a KING sized bed. OMG, YES. We both slept for a knocked out, uninterrupted 9-10 hours every night.

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Saturday night we grabbed some amazing BBQ at Rippy’s, watched part of the Hawks game, wandered around downtown, and then finished off the night with drinks and UFC at a college bar. It was a great combo of seeing the downtown area, going somewhere a little touristy, yet also experiencing local flavor. And while I appreciate everyone trying to make it big, can I just say that it was quite uncomfortable to have someone shaking an empty beer bucket at you, trying to get tips, while you’re eating? I mean seriously. If you’re good, I will go up and tip you, please don’t beg.

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There’s something cheesy, and yet appropriate about all these lighted signs downtown. I could feel the touristy schtick, and yet it was okay, it was fun. We went to Broadway Saturday and Sunday night, and whoa. Completely different experiences. One night was crazy and lots of groups and bachelorette parties, and the other night Honky Tonk Central closed the top floor early because of the lacking crowd.

Sunday night we didn’t do dinner because of a late lunch, but we did get an appetizer and drinks at Bosco’s. Then we went over to HTC for more drinks and the Spurs/Heat game. I think we watched more sports and drank more this past weekend than we ever have as a couple. When in Rome, I suppose?2013-06-17_1371429568

About 45 minutes after this picture at Bosco’s, I was standing next to a gutter drain staring down at our car keys while Husband went back to the restaurant for help. Oh yes, there was panicking and trying to not panic and dialing 311 only to find they don’t rescue people on Sundays. Thanks to the restaurant manager and a passing jogger (who’d just moved from Schaumburg!), we retrieved the keys in under fifteen minutes. Oh, and Husband isn’t allowed to hold anything of importance ever again. Remember how he dropped the camera in the lake at Disney World? Yeah. NEVER AGAIN.

Our daytime activities were a bit scattered. We planned our Sunday activities during breakfast that morning. Oh, it’s supposed to rain on Monday? Oh, the horse back riding is actually a trail and you have to supply the horses? (I still haven’t learned that when Husband wants to do something, I need to verify that it’s actually the real deal.) The zoo and Belle Meade plantation in one day it is!

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This is our third time feeding lorakeets, mainly because it’s cheap and it never gets old having a bird alight on you to eat out of your hand. Even if he does starting nipping your fingers because all the nectar’s gone. The Nashville Zoo was nice, if sparse on animals and long on walking. We got to pet armadillos, see a birds of prey show, and their meerkat exhibit was top notch. I love meerkats, and I always appreciate when a zoo gives them exactly what they need (plenty of space and freedom to dig their homes).

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The Belle Meade plantation was beautiful. It’s worth the money to get the tour inside the house, otherwise you can only wander around the property and while there are ‘exhibits’, it’s not as much fun. I found the reviews of the place funny, because so many people complained that there was too much family history in the tour. Ummmm … that’s why you’re there! To hear the story of the family that lived on the plantation and the horses they bred! I really liked it.

Monday we woke up to a cloudy, humid day where we … had no plan of what to do. We didn’t want to go to the  Opry or Hall of Fame because they were both really expensive, and since it was supposed to storm we didn’t want to go to the Parthenon. So we stared at each other for a few minutes, and then I looked up the Tennessee website. I found an aquarium in Chattanooga two hours away. It was a really big drive, and I was afraid Husband was going to veto it because we had to drive home the next day. But happily, he agreed to it (mostly because we didn’t really have a lot of options).

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The scenery was beautiful on our THREE HOUR DRIVE. Yeah, apparently people in Tennessee freak out super bad at everything and drive with a lot of caution on the highway. We got stopped in traffic because there was an accident clear on the other side of the highway, and then about a half hour from Chattanooga everyone decided they needed to slow down to 20 mph at every turn. But finally, we got there!

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These are really blurry photos of a very awesome penguin exhibit. They had a variety of penguins, and they had the glass set up so you could go ‘eye to eye’ with the penguins as they swam around. TN Aquarium also had a multilevel tank with mucho SHARKS, a butterfly exhibit, and opportunities to pet sting rays and sturgeon. The aquarium is actually two buildings, so you go into one for all the ocean and exotic animals, and another for river animals. The river part sounded boring, but actually had a lot of giant, unique fish as well as an ability to see both sides of the tanks. I wish I had taken a picture of the set up because it was very cool.

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Even though I love the Shedd Aquarium (beluga whales FTW!), I really loved this aquarium as well. They had a great selection of animals, the layout was good and easy to follow, and they had a high number of interactive displays. My only negative takeaway was at the stingray tank; they were not educating people on how to best pet the stingrays. Stingrays, like all animals, can get nervous by sudden splashes of water and the random appearance of things in the water. Unlike the rays at the Brookfield Zoo, who love to be petted because they are used to it and people are taught are to do it right, I felt like the rays at TN Aquarium didn’t want to be petted because there were so many kids splashing and plunging their hands in the water. The worker overseeing the tank actually said The stingrays don’t really want you to pet them. Then WHY do you have this exhibit? So there was that, but overall I would definitely go back again.

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After the aquarium, we were kind of at a loss of what to do. The trip up so long that we didn’t want to go back after just a couple hours, and downtown Chattanooga has the aquarium and not much else. Luckily we found a bike share, and so we rented a couple bikes and pedaled around downtown, including their pedestrian bridge, and just took in the amazing scenery surrounding this town. I wish I had taken a picture on the bridge, but at the time I was like, ‘I’m in the moment! No pictures!’ so … yeah. Ha. But it was really great to get that exercise in, even HILLS! Oh, hills. I don’t think I’ve gone up a hill on a bike in so long.

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Our last night in the hotel, we talked about the ride home. It was going to be a rough ride home — almost seven and a half hours in the car is no picnic, especially after spending five hours in the car the day before. I knew I had seen a couple zoos on the way down on Saturday, and so I looked them both up to see their value. One was mostly about Australian animals and looked more like a tourist trap than a zoo. The other was Louisville Zoo. We agreed that since it’s on the border of Kentucky and Indiana, it was serve as a good ‘rest stop’ for our drive home. And so we went.

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It was probably one of the best zoos I have ever been to. They had amazing, large exhibits for the animals to roam through. Their bear exhibit rivals Great Bear Wilderness, but a lot of their other attractions (train, lorakeet and giraffe feeding) were either closed or only once a day, which was weird. They did have a super nice splash park in the zoo, though, that was free with admission. It was pretty fancy and had a lot of spouting sprinklers and such. We spent about three hours there and it was the perfect exercise break for long driving day.

Even though our trip was short, we had a really great time. I’m extremely lucky to have Husband, someone who will take an unexpected adventure, even if it means an extra drive or an unplanned detour. He is always willing (after a few questions are answered).

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exploring the city.

When we were dating, Husband and I used to do things off the seat of our pants — book a hotel night stay in Indianapolis, drive two hours to a cow farm, end up in a casino in Milwaukee. Since being married and having actual monetary responsibilities, these adventures have scaled down some what. But today, we had an awesome adventure.

Then the other day Husband and I were talking about doing something for the weekend that wasn’t the zoo. I remembered there was a map in the movie The Lake House of Chicago, and had always wondered if it was real. I brought up the scene for Husband. I thought he was just going to brush me off until he leaned in, pointed to a number on the map and said, ‘I know where that is.’

THEY WERE ACTUAL PLACES?!

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Friday night Husband diligently used his knowledge of the city, Google maps, and a lone screen shot to turn plot points into addresses. The movie only shows about seventeen of the twenty-one points on the map, but that was more than enough for us. Saturday morning, I packed a bag, we grabbed the list, and headed out.

Although I bombarded my Instagram followers with twenty pictures in one day, I’ll keep it down to my favorites here.

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City Hall was our first stop and completely beautiful, outside and inside. Well, what we saw of the inside before a security guard told us to GTFO.

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The Rookery building was beautiful and has been around since the 1800s. It’s so crazy to see this beautiful architecture, such ornate detailing in the stone, and now it houses a Potbelly. Seems kind of like a waste sometimes, to me.

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On our way to a building, we stumbled upon a movie set! There weren’t too many actor type people around, so I think they were still setting up scenes and getting filler shots. Husband talked to the gopher directing people away from the set, and he said they’re filming a movie called ‘Caper’. After some research online, I realized he said Catbird — one of the working titles for the Divergent movie!! EEP!

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We took the red line twice, the brown line twice, and the foster bus once. Husband was so excited to carry this map we grabbed from a Walgreen’s. He regularly checked it and was so proud to figure out what we’d take to get to the Harold Washington Library. I don’t think he ever let it out of his hands! When we stopped at Chick Fil A at the end of the day, he spread it out on the table and didn’t want to move it so we could eat!

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Nine stories of books? I’m in! Harold Washington Library is a beautiful building on the inside, and seeing all these rows of books caught my breath a little. Our unexpected adventure in the library was when we were on the seventh floor, hanging out near the escalator talking about whether we’d go up to the top, when Husband dropped the list of places and we watched it float serenely down somewhere to a lower level. After splitting up and racing up and down escalators, we finally found it on the landing at level three. Whew! Considering we were only halfway through the day, finding it was a lucky break.

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Pretty much how both of us looked all day, staring up in wonder at buildings in the city we love. I forget sometimes how lucky, lucky we are to live here. This is the Chicago Riverwalk, where we saw so many water taxis and boat tours pass by. Did you know that a Chicago Architectural Boat Tour is $40/person? The entire day for us cost $35. I think we got a better deal!

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Because it was June and a Saturday, I shouldn’t be surprised that we saw six bridal parties getting pictures throughout downtown, but I was! I loved every wedding dress I saw, but I loved watching photographers sprawled on the ground taking pictures even more.

 

So that was our Saturday. Right now I’m tired and juuusssttt starting to get my appetite back after my delicious meal from Chick Fil A. Husband is on a bike ride, celebrating the fact that he sold some bike parts and is only $150 away from new hearing aids!

turning things around.

This past week has been one of the craziest, most stressful weeks Husband and I have ever had in our two years of marriage. Besides personal baloney, work really stressed me out between teething babies and frustrating co-workers. It got to the point where Husband and I blew up at each other Wednesday night, and harsh words were passed between us.

It’s been awhile since we’ve gone to bed so frustrated with each other and our situation. We each kept repeating, ‘I hate our life.’

Wednesday was one of those nights where you question everything you’re currently doing and everything that the future might hold. Where you can’t even click on any type of social media without raging at how ‘easy’ it seems others have it.

 

Before we got married, we did Engaged Encounter and Marriage Prep. However, we were so confident about our relationship and clicked on so many values and ideals that there wasn’t ever a real discussion about what to do when our lives would seem miserable.

Of course, I knew all the old phrases about not going to bed mad and such, but nothing that seemed to work in this situation.

The emptiness and despair I felt clogging my lungs and weighing down on my chest. I fought back tears on our way home from grocery shopping Wednesday night, because I couldn’t see a future where we’d be stable enough to feel secure, let alone add to our family.

We went to sleep miserable and facing opposite walls, listening to the hum of the air conditioner.

 

Thursday during work, I made a decision. Husband and I had been stressed and angry for what seemed like too long now. I couldn’t recall a recent enough time where we had felt genuine peace and contentment with each other and our lives. I made a decision that I was going to make that night special for Husband and myself. Planning the evening while I worked, I could feel my spirit lighten and the weight lifting off my chest.

Husband has softball on Thursdays, but all that did was give me more time to work. I cleaned up the apartment, sorted laundry, put away unused items, ran a load in the dishwasher, made chicken and rice for dinner, baked cookies, and took a shower/did my hair. I put on a dress he hadn’t seen me in in months. By the time all that was done and ready, I only had twenty minutes to relax and wait for him to get home.

He was so grateful and surprised when he walked in the apartment. A big flaw we both share is that when we’re stressed, we avoid housekeeping because it feels overwhelming on top of everything else. Therefore, seeing a clean dining room and empty kitchen counters was a big deal.

We ate dinner and kept the conversation light, happy, and about our days. We didn’t talk about anything from the previous week, but did finalize plans for the weekend. We watched a couple episodes from the new season of Arrested Development.

The calm that settled over us and our home was incredible.

We went to bed that night cuddled in each other’s arms.

Friday is my late start at work, so Husband offered to give me a ride. We held hands and talked about the business class he’s taking (for FREE! Alleluia) through work.

My work day flew by and I was engaged, patient, and focused the whole day through. Even though we had a full class I took down last month’s curriculum work off the wall and put up everything for June, something that usually takes me two or three days. I just felt inspired.

 

We still have a lot ahead of us. This summer isn’t going to be easy by any stretch, and one night of cleaning and cooking didn’t solve all our problems.

But it kept us together.

Sometimes, marriage is hard. Sometimes, you will not like the person you married. Sometimes, you will hate the life you are leading, even if just for one moment. Sometimes, you will wish you were somewhere else or with someone else. Sometimes, you will cry in pure despair.

In spite of all this, I keep the faith.

Faith that God never gives us more than we can handle. That things will always get better. That for every closed door, there is an open window.

 

Memorial Day we learned we have to come up with $500 for Stepson’s summer daycare. I started applying for a second job because I couldn’t imagine how else we’d get that kind of money.

Tonight Husband got a call that his one of his student loan payments ($300/month) was going to disappear for the summer.

 

Closed door, open window.

dating in marriage

I just realized that I am barely getting a third post in for February. I have about three posts sitting in draft that I’m glad I didn’t publish, but has now left with me with only two posts. Yikes! I am grateful for my resolution, though, because it’s keeping me sharp on my writing.

Husband and I go on dates on the weekends. I love them immensely, whether we’re joined by others or not, whether it happens during the day or at night. We also have a lot of fun, it sparks up the romance in our relationship, and honestly, I think it’s worth the money spent.

When we went to our Engaged Encounter weekend retreat, they had us talk about the values or priorities that would stand out the most for us. I can’t remember our specific ones, but having been married for almost two years I can say that for us, spending time together is a big priority. The week is filled with early bedtimes and stressful work days, so weekends are usually when we spend the most (mindfully present) time together.

Back when we were dating, Husband and I saw each other three or so times a week (we lived a hour apart). We went out to eat a lot, and I was eating take out pretty much every day being a bachelorette, so going out to eat lost its allure after awhile. Once we got married, we obviously had to cut back dramatically on going out to eat in order to be able to pay for things like, oh, rent and Stepson’s tuition.

When we go out now, we like it to be somewhere unique but where we have an idea that the food is going to be good. Living in Chicago, these places aren’t hard to find. Last weekend we went to a steakhouse courtesy of a giftcard from Christmas. I wasn’t sure what it would be like when we got there, considering I hadn’t been there before and it was a chain restaurant.

You know how chain restaurants can just feel different sometimes when you go there? Like everything is in fast forward, like they’re trying to get you out to get the next people in (because they are)? I always feel like local joints leave you alone more, let you enjoy your meal and conversation, always offering more refills and a chance to relax. They also feel more intimate, with lower lighting and just … a ‘feeling’ of relaxed, meal time enjoyment.

The restaurant we went to last weekend was crowded, and we waited for a hour to get seated. It was later at night, but Husband and I had a gift card to spend, so we went all out and ordered an appetizer, haha. It really was a delicious meal and a great time. But here’s why.

Sometimes, when you see a person every day, even though it’s only a couple hours at night, there’s still the matter of having a real conversation. I worried about this a lot when I was dating someone new, and I worry about it sometimes with Husband still — what will we talk about? Usually we start a conversation in the car, and it carries on into the restaurant and we go from there. Or sometimes, like one amazing brunch at our favorite local spot, we just enjoy the meal and each other’s silent company. Anyway, that night we had been watching some basketball contest on TV and perusing a menu while we waited to get seated, and so when we actually sat down we were kind of … quiet. We had already talked about the menu, and our day at the auto show, and our plan for the following day. Now what?

And then, out of nowhere, Husband started talking about his ex wife and his ex girlfriends. I know, right? At first I was like, ‘Eh … okay??’ But then it became a really great topic over how when you finally find your ‘partner for life’ you can look back on the past and see how wrong those other people were for you. Hindsight and 20/20 and all that. And then it got really romantic (I’m being serious!) and Husband told me about how he met each one and how, actually, they had each pursued him and he had gamely followed along (if you know Husband, this is SO him, he’s very laid back) … but then there was me. And for me, Husband had felt the desire that this was IT and so he had put his game face on and now it was his turn to actively go after a girl. It was wonderful, romantic, relationship affirming conversation set in a great location with amazing food accompaniment.

I don’t know how this sounds to all of you. Maybe it sounds weird, or unusual, or you’re sitting there thinking, ‘He’s lying’. (But why would he? Anyway.)

I think back to this night and I see it truly as a date. And I don’t think that, in ways like that, Husband and I have ever stopped dating and courting one another. I like that. This marriage is so fresh still, and there are a million ‘This could happen …’ scenarios that could change how things are right now, but for right now, I really love our dates, and gladly set aside money for them because the impact they have on our marriage is priceless.

tag team.

My resolution this year was to declutter the apartment. Ever since we have unpacked the boxes, the apartment has been side cluttered and counter cluttered with a bunch of junk! Since I last seriously posted about my resolution, here’s what I had left to accomplish:

To-Do List:

  1. Finish hanging pictures. (Two left in apartment, one we have to get from Husband’s grandma’s.)
  2. Sell desk/chair on Craigslist and organize Husband’s side of back room.
  3. Put away both air conditioners!
  4. Tackle stairway closet: clean out the unnecessary and organize what’s left.
  5. Put together box of wedding memorabilia (from a year and a half ago … sigh)
  6. Stow away Husband’s marketing books/paperwork
  7. Donate two bags of clothes in living room
  8. Find better way to store photo albums … and unused picture frames
  9. Reorganize Stepson’s side of back room
  10. CLEAR OUT THE PANTRY!!

Last night I was feeling particularly ambitious. We had had someone unexpectedly over a couple weekends ago, and the apartment was in really shabby shape. Needless to say Husband and I were both embarrassed. I decided it was time to stop procrastinating and finish up what needed to get done — 2013 was just a couple weeks away!!

Before we went to bed I explained my dilemma to Husband. There were a couple things (numbers 1 and 7) that I had done on the list, but that still left 8 unresolved items! We had Stepson this weekend, and he had hockey practice Sunday morning. Husband and I agreed that he would take Stepson to practice alone, and I could get a head start on the projects. Then when Husband returned, he could help me in one way or another.

Oh, and we also had four bags of laundry to tackle.

My morning started at nine. I made myself coffee and started easing myself into cleaning while Husband and Stepson ate breakfast and got ready for hockey. I unloaded and loaded the dishwasher and folded up the pull out bed and folded the blankets. While they were at hockey, I organized the laundry into baskets, cleaned the bathroom (toilet, shower/shower cubby, sink), and cleaned off the dining room table for good. The dining table has been a dumping ground for some time now, and for whatever reason every time I ‘clean’ it, I really just organize the piles of dumped junk. So today I completely cleaned off the entire table, scrubbed it, and then only put back on the runner and a centerpiece. Everything else found a new home (and in some cases, the trash can.).

When Husband and Stepson got back, we agreed that I would continue doing what I needed while Husband took care of the laundry and kept Stepson occupied.

I kept it up in the “dining room”. Our dining room is the biggest area in our apartment and used to be our living room … long story short the room we used to have the table in doesn’t have light and gets dark too soon to eat in. Anyway, all that belongs in the dining room is the bookcase and the dining table/chairs. Of course there was actually a bunch more crap in there. So I first accomplished numbers 5 and 6. Then I put away all the books I just bought at the Goodwill, cleaned up a pile of old papers I had on the floor, and then did number 8. I took an old vintage suitcase Husband got from my aunt and filled it with the unused frames and albums. Everything fit nicely, and I stowed the suitcase next to our couch with our Scrabble board and a multi-game board. Fancy! I was really excited and I thought this was a great solution that also gives the suitcase purpose.

Next, I did number 10. I had already done this before, but like with the dining table I was very pack ratish and kept a lot of things that were now expired and that we would never use. So I purged the pantry and straightened up. Hooray! Next, the actual kitchen. I like our kitchen, but our counter space is minimal and I felt like our counters were filled with, yes again, junk. We don’t have any counter appliances (just a coffee maker), so for me that made it even worse that there was so much junk! So I took everything off the counters and scrubbed them. Then I decided what we really needed on the counters. It was this: cookie cutter jar, decorative storage jars, coffee maker, and Husband’s grottos (grotto = decorative, special beer holder).  We decided to put the cereal boxes on the fridge and get rid of our bread box, since we don’t use it. So much more room!! Loved it. Then I did with the fridge what I did with the counters — purged, cleaned, reorganized. Then I cleaned the microwave and the stove top. CONFESSION: We have not cleaned our microwave since we moved in. A year and a half ago. Because we are filthy people, idk, I can’t believe we’ve ever had people over. Anyway.

[[ Took a break to help fold laundry and give Stepson a bath. Ha. No I have not actually eaten anything at this point. ]]

After my “break”, I went to handle the living room. Since the living room is now the ‘dark’ room of the apartment, we’re rarely in there and there wasn’t much for me to do, just declutter our nesting table from forgotten papers and magazines I piled there.

FINALLY, it was time for the grand finale: the stairway closet (numbers 3 and 4!). The closet is in the wall of our stairwell and is actually a jump up into it — the door is basically in the middle of the wall. It’s a great storage space, but it’s also a pain to get anything in or out of there because of this leap from stair to door. Husband was really reluctant to get in there, because we have not touched it since we moved in (yes, we are the laziest people alive). But I convinced him that once we organized it, it wouldn’t be such a hassle to go in, so he agreed.

First we pulled everything out. This included a giant stroller from when Stepson was a baby, an air mattress, a bedding set, a (huge) cooler, a Sox duffle bag, my 5 piece luggage set, ornament box, back heating pad, our router box, a couple decorative boxes, and a box of things Husband wanted but doesn’t use. So we had all this in there, and we wanted to put in two air conditioners, a box fan, the wedding box, and a rolled up rug. Yet we wanted it to be efficiently put in there so we could pull things out as needed without having to take EVERYTHING out. Literally taking things out was Husband balancing at the edge of the closet with me on a step, him handing me things while I struggled to go four steps up to the landing without buckling under the weight (especially when it came to the stroller/cooler) and pitching down the flight of stairs. Yikes.

So we looked at everything, and decided that the stroller and duffle bag would be donated. The cooler was going to our basement storage area. Then we Tetrised the rest, making sure that we put things like the wedding box and Husband’s box in the back corner. There’s actually room now to step in it and stand and move around a little. Seriously, the stroller and cooler were taking up the entire closet. Why do we still have a stroller when Stepson hasn’t used it in oh, three years? Best question ever, and I think you can tell by now that L-A-Z-Y is the answer.

WE DID IT!!!! 🙂   and then you say,

BUT WAIT! THAT’S ONLY 8 OF TEN ITEMS ON YOUR LIST!!

TRUE. But 2 and 9 are measly, mostly because 2 is really more up to Husband than me and 9 was just a redo since it still gets messy from time to time. For me, the apartment is decluttered. It’s spacious and minimalist, which is just how we love it, and all the boxes, bags, leftover frames and new art are hung/stored/trashed. HOORAY!!

Looking back, I didn’t think when I first talked about doing this at the beginning of 2012 that I would actually accomplish my goal. There’s a lot of tasks that I started out excited about, but I abandon or overwhelm myself with them. This project certainly was overwhelming at times — steps seemed too momentous to tackle, or required prerequisites that I didn’t have time for or wasn’t sure how to handle. I definitely have to say that making a list of what I really wanted to accomplish turned a vague task (decluttering the apartment) into a manageable list of activities. I’m more than happy with the result, and I feel like our apartment has now become a home! Yay!

gratitude.

I’ve seen so many thankful posts between the blogs I read and Facebook, they’re coming out of my ears.

Reflecting and thinking, there’s really one big thing that has completely changed our lives.

 

Husband’s new job.

In some regards, I wonder if this sounds superficial, that out of all the things in my life, I am thankful for a job. But I think considering that a lot of people are struggling to get a decent job right now, it’s something to be grateful for.

I love Husband’s new job because he loves it. I can tell he feels so proud and confident about his job and about how he’s doing there. And he should! Dressing up for work, it seems, gives him a lot of confidence too. He’s good at it, he’s getting a lot of positive feedback, and he’s excited to go to work now. All a lot of good positives.

His new job has also given us a big piece of mind. He makes more money now, which means we can pay all our bills and have extra expenses without worrying about how we’re going to pay bills, or skimping on things like groceries to make ends meet. A great example is how I was able to buy a great gift for my co-worker (pregnant with TWINS! YAY!) without worrying about it breaking the budget. It means we could take Stepson to the Science Museum in Chicago, which he loved and we haven’t been able to do for him in two years. Also, Husband could sell some bike parts and I earned money raking for my grandpa, and we could save the money for our future trip to Tennessee instead of putting it into the account to try to tide us over for bills.

The thing is, we were going back and forth on being able to pay for things, and not being able to. We were pretty much just juggling and making it paycheck to paycheck. So to be able to buy a gift without having to stress over that gone money later, is something we’re both extremely grateful for.

 

However, I have to say this: we aren’t going crazy, and we’re using the extra money wisely as well. We’re sending extra money to Stepson’s school so we can finish paying his tuition faster. We still shop exclusively at Aldi’s. We still use the bus and train, and the car on the weekends only. We still don’t have a TV, and aren’t planning on purchasing one anytime soon. We bought Stepson a winter coat, myself a winter coat, and Husband a couple shirts and pants for work — at Goodwill. All in all, even with more money, we still have the same money idea: spending on money on what we really need.

So the job is amazing, great for Husband, great for us, and is probably the best thing to happen to us this past year.

 

Other things I’m grateful for: living in the city, a desire to work each day, my sexy, hardworking husband, and family family family.