On Debt … and Tough Decisions

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Tomorrow is the day we were supposed to leave for our road trip to Georgia. Today was supposed to be spent packing, cleaning, getting ready. But instead, I am standing in my kitchen wearing one child on the back and one on the front because they both refuse to ‘effing nap. In all likelihood, they’d probably be refusing to nap even if we were leaving tomorrow, but I probably wouldn’t care as much – hoping they’d be so exhausted they’d sleep a good chunk of driving time in the car. But as it is now, I’m totally pissed. They haven’t been going to bed until 10 or later, and when I let them go without a nap they can’t make it past 5pm without a total meltdown. So here I stand – holding 55+ pounds of kid, praying – FORTHELOVEOFGOD – that they pass out and stay there a while.

Because ya’ll .. I’m about to lose my mind. And my back.

So yeah – about that trip. Continue reading

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Wednesday #weekinthelife

Tuesday’s post is in the works, and I’ll get it up as soon as possible. Today’s photos are unedited, but hey – I’m doing this all on my phone! I’ll update them later 🙂

Wednesday.

Closing day.

Upon waking, I immediately get to work. We won’t sleep in this apartment again and I need it as packed up as possible before we leave today. The girls get busy coloring. They do a lot of that these days. No complaints here – I love watching their progression.
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With the car loaded as full as possible, we head out. The girls are both a little cranky – I think they are both excited, but also a little scared. It’s yet another transition – we’ve had so many.

We stop by CVS to pickup gift bags. Being the good Southerner I am, I brought homemade jelly as thank you gifts for the realtors, the attorney, and his paralegal. While I’m there I pick up matching hello kitty coloring books and new crayons. They will be destroyed quickly, I’m sure, but hopefully this will keep them busy during the closing.

We then drop books off at the library before heading to the house for our final final walk through. The house looks amazing. Perfect. Ours.
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The girls don’t quite understand why we can’t stay there, but I try to explain that we will be back in just about an hour. Time means nothing when you are 2 and 4. E screams the whole way there – thank goodness it’s only a 5 minute drive instead of the 15-20 we normally have to go. When we get to the office for the closing we discover there’s a big box of toys – score! The girls are happy and content for a good 20 minutes – and then I bring out the surprise coloring books.
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By the time we get to our(!) house, we realize none of our lunch food got packed and everyone is hungry. D takes the girls to the basement to play and I head to Trader Joes to pick up food. I park. Open my bag. Realize my wallet is in the other bag. Back at the house. So I head to the apartment to load up the car full of stuff from the freezer and fridge, and a random assortment of other stuff lying around. As I drive, I can’t help but fight back tears of relief. Relief that the last six months are behind us. Relief that we have found a place to really put down roots. Relief that this house we have found – our house – has a soul that already loves us as much as we love her.

Once it’s all unloaded back at the house, we all choose something to eat and D heads to rent a Uhaul van to fill up with mattresses and small pieces of furniture. I nurse E down for a nap and come out to find A away in imagination land. I take a moment to fill up the diffuser, take a few deep breaths, and enjoy the space. It has been a hell of ride, these last few months.

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Around 4:30 we put it all aside and head outside. It’s time to play for a bit, and grill burgers. Dining al fresco tonight … And many more nights to come. We finish up the night like we usually do – bath, stories, bed. We are camping out on mattresses in the basement tonight – our furniture arrives tomorrow.

Once the girls fall asleep, D and I paint their room …. Potentially Purple is the color they chose. It is purple indeed. They will be so excited when they wake up!

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Some time today A asked me, timidly, “Will we still be able to go to the same church Mama? And can we invite Luther over to play?” I assured her that we could do both – and then I realized she was terrified that with this move would be yet another change in roots. Because we have already begun to put down roots here … And the best thing about this house is that even though we are just barely moving in, it feels like we’ve lived here for ages, and that we are just now coming back after a really long vacation.

We already love you dearly sweet house. To the ones who owned you before: we promise to treat her right.

Monday #weekinthelife

Our days start early around here, and Monday was no different. A woke me up around 5:30, bringing me a homemade present for Mother’s Day. She’s really big into gift giving … and special occasions last for weeks around here. When I could barely open my eyes, she went into the living room and found something else to do. This is a huge win for us lately – we leave a few projects out at night and when she wakes up the next morning, she has something to keep her busy. It’s pretty much amazing.

When I did finally wake up around 6:30, I ended up with a total breakfast fail – I put everything in my cup for a breakfast smoothie and then discovered my blender stick was packed. I made a super quick shake instead and we ushered everyone out the door so we could get D to the train station on time. Upon returning home, I discovered our huge peace lily that we bought to help clean the air in our terrible first rental here had a flower bud on it!
Peace Lily

The morning continued on with constant demands from the tinies. Usually D makes coffee, but he was off his game today, so I put the coffee on and then turned on the TV. We don’t watch a lot of TV around here, but when I need a few moments to myself, I’m known to turn it on for a show or two. Today it was Sid the Science Guy and Daniel Tiger. Always Daniel Tiger.

I drank my coffee in peace, and then I got busy on the tasks before me … a lot of cleaning, a bit of packing, snack-making, finishing up some freezer meals from the weekend, holding the tiniest – who is exceptionally cranky today, wiping noses, repeat.

In the meantime, E made herself busy with the plastic lunch containers in one of the cabinets. Before I knew it, she was running up to me saying “Poop! Poop!” I went over to where she was and discovered poop on the kitchen floor. Squishy gross poop. Of course she had also stepped in it, so I proceeded to clean it up off the floor and her foot and her bottom. This week is all about documenting life – and today would not have been today without the poop. I’ll spare you the picture – although I did totally take one for my #weekinthelife album. She began begging for mommy milk, so I briefly nursed her (I’m trying to encourage her to wean), and then decided we’d take selfies. They always help my mood shift from terribly irritated to happy. It must be something about these smiles.
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Deciding I had had enough at-home adventures for the day, I decided we would spend the rest of the day outside. We haven’t seen the sunshine in over a week, and it was glorious today. So I packed a picnic, clothes for our church picture later in the day, and cleaned up a bit while A found the Jewel Christmas cd, put it in the DVD player, and began ballet dancing all around the living room floor. She truly is a bundle of joy.

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When I asked where they wanted to go, A quickly yelled “the BIG cemetery mama!” So we headed to Mt. Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge – which has quickly become one of our very favorite places in the greater Boston area. It was the perfect place to be today. Everything is completely amazing – beautiful – peaceful – wonderful. I am pretty sure we’re going to spend a lot of time here this summer.

Mt. Auburn first glimpse

Balancing

Joy

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A large portion of our time there was spent with Autumn taking pictures. It has become one of her new hobbies … I think we may need to invest in a camera of some sort for her to play with. She really has quite the eye.
Me!

We ended our day out at church, where we ended up waiting an hour to take a 5 minute picture for the upcoming photo directory. Although we tried to be patient, we were frustrated with all the many things waiting for us at home. Once we finally got out, we decided to pick up pizza on the way home, so we could focus on doing a bit of packing instead of preparing and cleaning up dinner.
Dinner Aftermath

Once we finished up, the girls colored. D helped A do her very first color-by-number, and then the day ended as it normally does – bath, stories, rocking, sleep. As soon as they were both asleep I jumped in the shower … it sure is nice to be clean!

What started as a full, stressful, irritating day actually ended up to be a very fulfilling one. The weather is supposed to be amazing this week, so I’ve decided we will pack as much as we can before the movers come, and whatever doesn’t get packed we can pick up later. It’s more important for everyone’s sanity that we spend as much time as possible outside. The boxes can wait until the sun goes down.

Monday. It was a good day.

A Week in the Life

@weekinthelife
A friend wrote a blog post today about how we stay-at-home-mamas answer the question, what do you do? In it, she introduced me to the #weekinalife project, and as I read more about it I decided I would jump on the bandwagon this year. It begins today.

Today – a day that marks another week of transitions in our life. We move for the third time in six months this week, and while we are so excited to be moving into a house that we know we will love, we are all a little tired and a little weary. The last six months have been, in a lot of ways, like an extended vacation. We’ve had our own furniture and stuff, but we’ve known the place that we were living was temporary. First it was because the apartment was not up to our living standards, and the landlord wasn’t incredibly nice or helpful. Then when we moved four months ago, we knew it was a temporary stop. We were under contract on a house, but the sellers didn’t want to close until May. Although we were antsy to be in a house, we loved this particular house so much that we were willing to wait. What we didn’t realize was just how secluded we would feel in that new apartment.

Although we are in the same town as our house, we are a good 15 minutes north from where our permanent place will be. 15 minutes from the train station, where we drop D off every morning and pick him up every afternoon. 15 minutes from a grocery store – and 25 from the one that I prefer to shop at most weeks. 30 minutes from church. 15 minutes from just about anything at all. We spend at least an hour in the car every day – sometimes more. When you add in the time that it takes to get everyone ready, coats & shoes on (because most days still require a cost here), and buckled into the car, we are at 2-3 hours of travel time a day. It’s exhausting. It completely drains me of any and all creative energy. It’s safe to say that it has been a long four months.

But it’s almost over.

And this week marks the beginning of that last, and what we hope will be final, transition in our big move to New England. What started as #rowesmovetoboston shifted to #rowesmovetoacton. And now, as we close out that chapter, and begin to really put down roots here, I am oh so excited to bring you a #weekinthelife.

We are moving this week, so it’s quite hectic, but I’ll document as much as possible throughout the week on Instagram – and I’ll get my thoughts put together for each day sometime by the end of the month.

Stay tuned. This is the beginning of the rest of our lives!

Guacamole

Guacamole
Since December, we have been using Young Living essential oils for just about everything in our house. Back in January, they released their new Vitality line, which includes some of my very favorite essential oils specifically labeled for culinary and dietary use! You guys know just how much I love cooking, so you can imagine how excited I was to give them all a try!

Today, I’m sharing a recipe using some of these new Vitality oils over on my latest blogging endeavor – Happy Little Oiler. I wanted a place where I could explore our Happy Oily Life, but wanted Soul Munchies to stay true to its mission of Faith. Family. Food. Enter Happy Little Oiler!

We almost always have avocados in our fridge, and whenever we get to their last days I try to whip up a batch of guacamole. Everyone in the house loves it – and it never lasts very long. It’s one of our favorite snacks, and it almost makes us think that we’re at our favorite Mexican restaurant. The last couple of times we made it, we added essential oils, and it was so good we decided to share our recipe with the world!

For the recipe, head on over to Happy Little Oiler!

Meals Under $15: Broccoli Cheese Soup

Broccoli Cheese Soup

I buy broccoli a lot because my girls love it, no matter how I cook it. This soup is one of my favorite meals to put together, because it’s easy, quick, and delicious for days to come. You can make a batch on the weekend and eat it for lunch all week – if it lasts that long – it’s usually gone pretty fast in our house!

My girls LOVE this soup, so I make it often. In fact, even though the weather is getting warmer, I have it on my meal plan for later this week. When I priced it out based on our grocery prices here, it costed us about $11 – $9 if you use homemade broth – and it feeds us for at least two meals, sometimes three! Continue reading

On Thomas … and Doubt

Doubt & Emotions
Sunday was dark and gloomy around here. When I woke up and looked out the window, I discovered the ground – and my car – were covered with a blanket of snow. Because it was Sunday, and because we couldn’t imagine staying inside at home all day long, we got ourselves ready and headed to church. As I sat through the service, I couldn’t help but think how fitting it was that on this gloomy snowy day we were hearing about Thomas. The one who doubted. As I sat there, I realized that I, like Thomas, was in a serious place of doubt.

Doubt that spring will ever arrive.

Doubt that I will be happy here for the long term.

Doubt that the day will come when I no longer long for Atlanta.

Doubt that I will ever find a community that I love as much as the one we had in Grant Park.

Doubt that God is ever going to show me what in the heck She is up to.

It’s only been a week since Easter. And I, like Thomas, have already forgotten the joy of Easter morning. I’ve forgotten the sunshine. Forgotten the promise of friendships. Of community. Of a future so much greater than anything I can even possibly imagine. Continue reading

Meals Under $15: Orecchiette with Slow Roasted Tomatoes and Baby Kale

orecchiette with slow roasted tomatoes and baby kaleHappy Monday! Today’s edition of “Meals under $15” is perfect for your Meatless Monday dinner plans. Coming in at just over $5, and full of flavor, you cannot go wrong with this dish. My tiniest one devoured it, and begged for more!

Lately I have done a terrible job of meal planning, so most meals end up being thrown together with whatever I can find in the fridge. It’s my least favorite way to cook, and it’s hardly ever economical. But this piece of work … it was delicious, used up ingredients in my fridge, and still managed to cost us very little money.

I love orecchiette pasta – they look like little hats and they are so fun to eat! They have little ridges on them too, so they soak up whatever sauce you put on them amazingly. You could use any other pasta as well, this just happened to be what was in my pantry.

You can also edit it a little by adding spinach or arugula instead of baby kale, and if you don’t have cherry tomatoes on hand, or you don’t want to slow roast your own, you can substitute sun-dried tomatoes.
Continue reading

Where Were the Children? [A Good Friday Reflection]

Good Friday

But why are they taking the candles away Mama? she asks, with tears in her eyes. I like the candles. Will they bring them back?

This is the first Maundy Thursday service we’ve been to in several years. The last one I can remember going to, we left early – because A was just a year old and staying out past 7pm just wasn’t in our cards. But this year, I didn’t care how late we were out … I didn’t want to miss it. I wanted to experience the remembrance of those last days. The last meal. The foot washing. The prayers in the garden. That last night with his friends, his disciples, his family.

I wanted my children to experience it. As difficult as it is to watch … as difficult as it is to understand … the majesty of Easter just isn’t as glorious without experiencing the loss. I wanted them to experience that loss …. so that when we walk in to Easter service and we see the flowers, the candles, the white paraments … when we hear the loud bells and trumpets sounding, it truly is majestic and glorious.

But man did it tear me up inside when my 20-month old asked to go up to have her feet washed. And man did it break my heart to watch my 4-year-old begin to comprehend what was going on. Continue reading

Meals Under $15: Healthy Vegetable Soup

Healthy Veggie Soup
I can’t tell you how often I hear people say, “Eating healthy costs a fortune!” It’s true … eating healthy CAN cost a fortune, but it doesn’t HAVE to. Lately, I’ve been discovering that many dinners we make cost us less than $15, and most of those give us leftovers for lunch the next day. To help you in your budget meal planning, I thought I’d work on a new series entitled: “Meals Under $15”. Today’s recipe is one I threw together in an attempt to have a good hearty meal that consisted of nothing but chicken broth and vegetables. We’ve all been fighting a cold, and I knew homemade chicken broth was awesome for that kind of thing. Everyone enjoyed it – and it gave us leftovers for another night this week! Continue reading

God is Here

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Spring is upon us here in Massachusetts, and I couldn’t be more excited about it. Good old Mother Nature treated us to a snow storm yesterday, but as I stare out the window now, almost all of the 4-5 inches we got are melted already. We are seeing green sprout up from the ground and the sun is feeling warmer and warmer every single day. I’m so ready to be able to explore the great outdoors – without having to bundle up.

We are really loving living here … and can’t imagine ever moving back to GA – but there are still days when I feel really lonely. I was talking with another older woman on Sunday who moved her family a across few states when she was my age. She said she remembers feeling so isolated, like a trip to the grocery store was so important to her because she actually saw people – real live adults – there. I nodded my head in agreement. Some weeks I’m lucky if I see a real live adult other than my husband. I didn’t realize how connected to people we were in Atlanta, until we moved here and became so disconnected. Continue reading

Our Essential Oils Journey

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It’s 10:00am and I’ve used ten different essential oils in seven different ways.

I mixed some thieves, oregano, tea tree, and frankincense with a little jojoba oil and put it in a bottle with a roller cap for our feet. I call it the “boost immunity bottle.”

I put cinnamon and nutmeg in my morning coffee.

I used tea tree oil instead of deodorant.

I put Citrus Fresh in my water. I have had 40 ounces already!

I put Northern Lights Black Spruce on my super-dry, chapped-from-the-wind face.

I used Thieves mixed with a little water to clean my kitchen counter. It got up grease stains from the old tenant (gross!)

I put Citrus Fresh in some baking soda and water and scrubbed the bathtub. It had years of someone else’s old dirt caked to the bottom. I wish I had taken a picture before we left that stupid apartment … because that bathtub looked almost new!

When I bought my starter kit two months ago, I had no idea it would really change my life. Continue reading