I still have wrapping paper on the floor and legos covering the kitchen table…but I find myself deep in thought about the coming month. We are selling our piece of the American dream and moving to a much smaller condo.
It is exhilarating. It is terrifying. It is liberating to simplify.
For nearly three years, we’ve lived in a large and spacious home. The kind that I would stare at as a child and imagine happy families and big noisy dinners. I dreamed of smoothly polished wood floors and pink princess bedrooms. Green lawns and bike rides through the neighborhood. Christmas in front of a fireplace. A house to grow up and grow old in.
Our house is beautiful. It is everything I imagined….only I didn’t imagine how much work it would be. I never dreamed it would take so many hours of my life to clean it and care for it. It was supposed to be our happy place. Instead, it felt like a second job.
We took a good hard look at the amount of time we were spending on the house…vs the amount of joy we were receiving. The mowing, the mulching, the cleaning, the snow removal, the everything. It was eating our days and nights as a family.
Sure. We love the house. We also love being able to veg on the couch on a Saturday without imagining how high the grass is growing outside.
We’ve scheduled furnace check ups, hot water heater maintenance, and shoveled snow from the roof and the driveway.
And I can’t help but recall that famous song…”Is that all there is?”
I had distant flashes of memory of the houses that I coveted as a child and young adult. There always seemed to be a landscaping truck or a middle aged couple sprucing up the place…whether in the yard or reflected in the windows. For some, it could be a labor of love. For us…it felt like more labor than love.
I am embarrassed to tell people how many bathrooms we have. It is apparent that we only live in 30% of the space we own. I recall few get togethers without days of cleaning and prep work to make unused space look the way that it should.
We began to talk about buying something smaller.
Do people downsize when they have two small kids? Wasn’t that something you did when everyone grew up and you no longer needed that big home?
It became painfully obvious that we were not using the space. “The house” was some third person entity. Part pride…part burden.
Living should be easier than this.
It took nearly a year to sell it. Now, we have a month to leave it.
I think that I have processed losing the ideal of the home. I grieved it for several months…hoping it wouldn’t sell. Then, I felt myself hoping it would. The universe seemed to be listening. It’s time to start fresh. It’s time to live small. It’s time to move forward.
Pardon my absence.
Major changes going on at our casa. I feel like blogging again so that I can focus and stay present during all of the chaos. Forgive me if the words don’t flow as fast as they used to…I am quite rusty.
We are downsizing.
Our first move will cut our living space drastically….our second and final move will put us in the place we want to be.
And meanwhile…there’s Christmas.
Oh yeah. We’ve always got the best timing.
We’ve enjoyed our stay in this home…but frankly the huge commitment to a large home in the country is more work than we’d bargained for. I can’t replace our lovely views…our incredible neighbors…and the fun we’ve had running in the yard. Still, we want something small that gives us the freedom we’ve been lacking.
I want more hiking, more lazy mornings without mowing or plowing. City adventures that don’t involve finding a parking spot. All of the great things we moved north for…and none of the hassle.
Believe it or not…our amazing kiddos are on board with this one. They are excited! We are excited!
Wish us luck.
I’ve been a bad blogger for the entire year. Every time that I swear that I am going to start anew, I stop writing AGAIN.
I’ve survived my first winter in the northeast…and swimsuit season has arrived yet again. The family is back from our annual trip to the shore, and sporting a tan. We are excited for the best part of living in this part of the country–SUMMER!
Summer in the desert meant scorching heat…scorpions…and hikes through a brown hillside with some unfriendly cactus. Admittedly, we enjoyed lots of pool time and it never rained. Still, summer up here is a whole different ball game. Green is EVERYWHERE. Grass, trees, farmer’s markets…good stuff.
The kids are getting older. L Bug is four and the Mo Man will be seven in just two short weeks. How did this happen?!?
The beach was so much easier this year. I actually read a book and enjoyed my time in the sun as the kids played. It was a beautiful thing! They were ok when we allowed bedtime to slide…and no one woke us up at the crack of six. Having children over the age of four is marvelous! We even made the long drive each way without a tantrum.
I don’t have many photos from the week. Sadly, I showed up with the big camera and no memory card…(I’m looking at you Mo Man…my guy who loves to take tiny things that he doesn’t know his mother needs). I also made the command decision to put my phone away for the better part of the week. Instead of looking at a screen, I looked at the shifting clouds and ever changing color of the ocean. I soaked in the sun and squished the sand between my toes. How wonderful to view life first hand without a screen. I vow to do more of this.
Summer is here.
I want to run and play outside with my kiddos. These warm months are far too precious to waste. We are going to hike, swim, and continue to explore this new area of the country. Now that we have our first year under our belt…I have a better idea of things to see and do.
Today was a great start. We ventured downtown to the library and signed up for the summer reading program and then we took a spin on the carousel at the park. The kids begged for Asian food, so we went to our favorite fusion place and had a long lunch. The staff loves my kids–we got loads of hugs and oranges cut into cute shapes on their plates. I never see any other children there and I think the staff is amazed at my two wolfing down seaweed salad and miso soup before digging into their Udon noodles with chopsticks.
We returned home and played outside for a while and then went to a friend’s house for a swim. It was perfect! The kids played hard and fell into bed 30 minutes earlier than usual tonight. (thank you, K!)
Now, I am in heaven. I have a snoozing chihuahua by my side and a pile of borrowed cookbooks to look through. What more can a stay at home mama ask for?
When I worked as a weight loss counselor, it used to make me smile. The mournful look on people’s faces and the heavy sighs when they told me that they knew they needed to give up everything that they enjoyed in order to lose weight. I would start with a diet history- What do you eat? Often, the diet recall would consist of the bland restrictive foods that they had been eating for the past week in an attempt to change. Dry oats made with water, plain vegetables. Grilled chicken breasts. Bland. Unseasoned. Tasteless crap that no one wanted to be eating…is it any wonder that people would lose all will power and resolve when faced with decent food? I repeat: Eat Healthy…but don’t give up your favorite foods. I do my best work with an honest account of what you like to eat. I can tell you how to modify it and make it work for you. No one wants to give up flavor or taste. No one wants to eat things that they don’t enjoy. Look closely- my IPad doesn’t do it justice. Sweet turkey Italian Sausage, Gnocchi, green peas, caramelized shallots in fig balsamicvinegar, basil and Parmesan. Does it look miserable? I’m eating everything that I love–in moderation. I added veggies to increase portion size without contributing a ton of calories. The whole bowl is roughly 500 calories. Not too shabby!
Recipe: Gnocchi with Sweet Italian Sausage and Caramelized Shallots.
1 package Sweet Italian Turkey Sausage Links- sliced into rounds
1 package vacuum packed Gnocchi- typically available in the pasta section
1 package frozen Green Peas
2 shallots- sliced thinly
1 tbs olive oil
1 tbs fig balsamic vinegar (or substitute balsamic vinegar)
fresh basil (1/4-1/2 cup shredded)
4 tbs Parmesan cheese
salt and Pepper to taste
* brown sausage while preparing gnocchi and peas according to package directions. In small skillet, heat oil over medium and add shallots. Reduce heat to low, stirring occasionally, until shallots are caramelized- approximately 10 minutes. Add vinegar, continue to stir until liquid absorbed. Combine all ingredients and top w basil and Parmesan. Serves four.
I have been very mindful about my food choices this week. Last Sunday, I’d hopped on the scale after my pants felt a bit snug and was floored to discover that my winter hibernation had caused me to pack on about 8 lbs.
So, I’ve been paying attention. Whole grains. Loads of veggies. Drinking lots of water. I knew I’d see some result–but was thrilled to see 4.5 pounds gone this morning!
Behold, the power of clean eating.
Surprisingly, I have not stopped eating meals! I have not felt hungry. I’m just eating better.
Remember the batch of lentils from Sunday? Turns out Lentils are a source of something called “resistant starch”. Resistant starch is tougher for the body to break down–causing a spike in metabolic rate as well as an increased level of satiety, or feeling of fullness.
I’ve been choosing loads of foods that contain higher amounts of resistant starch. Lentils, oats, quinoa, bananas, black beans, sweet potatoes. The result? Less hunger-more results!
Not to mention, these super foods are easy on the wallet. Nothing fancy or expensive.
Today, I threw the lentil and quinoa mixture (3/4c total) into a bowl with a diced carrot, a few cherry tomatoes, green onion, red bell pepper and some lime juice. I topped that with a spoon full of coconut cream and some salt and pepper. Voila! Southeast Asian inspired lunch for approximately 300 calories.
I’m often amazed at the yummy meals you can put together with raw veggies and small amounts of cooked beans and grains. You merely choose a flavor and season–Mexican, Italian, Asian, middle Eastern… So easy.
Foods to keep on hand:
Greens (spinach, collards, kale- use raw or cooked)
Cooked grains (quinoa, brown rice, oats)
Lemon, Lime, Orange
The possibilities are endless
Let’s not kid ourselves. Portion control and healthy eating in general is easier when you live alone. As a single gal, it was ok to stock my fridge with single portion healthy dinners…lots of veggies…and fruits.
Now, with two kids and a husband, my pantry overflows with foods that single me never allowed in the house! Chips, crackers, granola bars…etc.
They have to eat. I have to eat. It’s even better when I can make us all happy at the same time!
Enter the term- portion control. You can be healthy and happy eating family friendly food if you exercise portion control.
Here is a photo of the baked penne that my daughter and I made a few nights ago. Comfort food and cheesy goodness at its finest. Notice that I am eating a small portion that covers roughly 1/4 of a ten inch salad plate. Then, I filled the rest of the space with fresh, low calorie veggies. I filled up on low calorie, high fiber veggies which are high in water content. Then, I also enjoyed the same meal that my family did.
Ps- they enjoyed the exact same meal. They just chose different portion sizes of entree and veggies. We gave the kids salad dressing or hummus to dip. My kids love crunchy raw veggies or fruit as a side dish.
Portion control is the perfect way to indulge in foods that you really love that might be higher in calories and fat. You can eat anything you like–in moderation. Being healthy is not about diet and deprivation. It’s about balance.