In Real Life: Week 41

Here’s a peek at our week 41!

It was really nice to wake-and-bake Sunday morning. (It was also really nice to have hearty oatmeal-banana bread to eat on all week.)

James finally figured out how to ride his bike with no training wheels.

Yes, he’s 10. And yes, I know most kids learn to ride much sooner than this.

But if motherhood has taught me one thing, it’s that each child does things at his own pace…

…and there’s nothing wrong with doing things a little later than everyone else.

Like this guy, who took forever to crawl. But now that he does, no cupboard is safe.

All-American.

Take a walk.

Our new couch is just a little bit bigger than I think we realized when we bought it. But it is soooooo comfy.

This little guy was sick for a few days this week. He was so miserable, but also so snuggly.

California weather refuses to acknowledge that it’s fall, but that will not stop me from making soup.

The wildfire smoke has been giving everything a strange pink glow.

Calm before the storm.

Tread,

Industrial.

New (Buddy Holly) glasses!

So sweet.

It’s awfully nice to have a nanny with a floral business.

Good morning…

This giraffe has better eyelashes than I do.

Have you heard of Tea Runners? It’s a pretty awesome subscription service for tea. I just got my first box!

Three guesses which one I had to try first. (PS: It was wonderful, especially with a spoonful of wild honey.)

That light.

Can you believe we’re already halfway through October? This year has just flown…

And that’s a wrap for us!

How was your week?

An open letter to you courageous adventurers:

Dear friends,

I’m so excited for you! You, who are about to embark on a huge, life-changing journey.

I remember so well what it was like for me to be where you are now, about to pack up my entire life and leave everything I’d ever known. I remember such a mix of multiple complex emotions all at the same time… it wasn’t until much later, with much hindsight, that I was able to effectively process many of them. At the time I don’t think I fully grasped the enormity of what I was experiencing. Sure, I knew that it was a big deal to be moving to a new state for the first time. But I didn’t really understand how big of change it actually was, and I didn’t know how much it would also change me. Having now experienced new motherhood, I understand how the two events are similar in that regard… there’s no real way to intellectually and emotionally prepare for it, no matter how hard you to try.

There was the excitement of preparing to experience something new. And hope, about what it might bring. These were what I tried to stay focused on.

But there was also fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of not having a safety net. Fear of isolation. Fear of failure. Fear of regret.

And guilt. Honestly, there was more guilt than I cared to admit at the time. I felt guilty for abandoning my family, for being selfish enough to leave them behind. I was afraid that my choice would be seen as a rejection of them, that somehow they weren’t good enough or important enough to make me stay. I felt guilt about missing all of the birthdays and BBQs and camping trips. And when my grandmother became ill and passed away while I was living 800 miles away, I felt ashamed that I could not be there when it happened. Guilt still gnaws at me when I admit that there is a very real chance that something similar could happen to someone else in my family at any time, and I’ll still be here.

Guilt is one thing that I think I will always grapple with while I’m away from home. I still feel sad when I can’t be with my sister on her birthday. I really do lament that Jack will not have as many experiences with my family as he might if we lived there. I mean it when I tell my dad I wish I could go fishing with him. And like grief, it never goes away. But it does get easier to live with.

So, as someone who’s been there, here are a few things I want you to know as you set out.

It’s ok if it feels like it sucks for the first little while. Or the first long while. Moving far away is a BIG change. And allow me to be honest: a HARD change. The sheer logistics of moving and settling in can be extremely stressful by themselves. Then add to it all the emotional turmoil of leaving everyone and everything you know, and the emotional journey of the people you live with who are also processing this change in their own unique ways… it can be hard, no matter how prepared you think you are. And that’s ok.

You may wonder at times if you’ve just made a huge mistake. You may doubt yourself when things don’t go according to plan (which, let’s be honest, sometimes – maybe a lot of times – they won’t). You may begin to wonder if you’re strong enough to do this. Or begin to second-guess whether this place is really the best fit for you. Or begin to romanticize what home was like. At every turn, your friends and family may urge you to just move back. It could be so much easier if you’d just move back. But give yourself some time. Cut yourself some slack. You haven’t failed – you’re just adjusting and processing.

And just a few pieces of advice, if you want them:

Be kind to each other. A move this big is a huge change for each of you, and you will each process it in your own way. It will be easy to be short with one another, to become frustrated and eventually resentful. But remember that you need each other right now. Try to be patient and give each other some grace.

Orient yourself, and try to create some sort of routine – if that’s how your brain works best. Some people can thrive without routine, but I am not one of them. For me, things as simple as being unfamiliar with the grocery store and having to use Google Maps to find the post office made me feel scattered and stressed out. I took for granted the comfort of knowing where to buy a cup of coffee. But once I found where my regular places would be and had an idea of what to expect when I went there, I began to feel better.

Don’t isolate yourself. This was easily my biggest mistake. I am not a terribly social person by nature, and meeting new people is especially stressful to my introverted brain. But it’s necessary to make connections. Otherwise the isolation and loneliness will only add to your feeling of failure. I learned this the hard way when I found myself actually wanting to do something social and had no one to call. It felt absolutely awful to realize how long I had lived here and still hadn’t made any real friends of my own. I wish I had realized how worth the effort it would have been to dive in early to making connections… I think it would have spared me a fair amount of anguish to have not felt so alone.

Just like welcoming a new baby, a big move can feel simultaneously exhilarating and terrifying, filled with both joy and frustration. And it’s ok to feel all of those things. I hope you choose not to be ruled by fear or guilt. I hope you make big decisions with optimism. I hope this experience brings your family closer together. I hope you learn something about yourselves along the way. I hope you feel empowered and courageous for having chosen to do this. I hope you feel proud, because I am proud of you.

I hope you find what you’re looking for.

And if you do decide to come back, we’ll welcome you with open arms. No judgement. No “I told you so.”

Go forth! Good luck, and godspeed.

Much love,

-Jess

In Real Life: Week 40

Happy week 40, everyone!

Can we take just a moment to celebrate the fact that 40 weeks means that 2017 is now at full term gestation? Hahahahahaha… sorry. I had to.

Cuddle puddle.

Morning is my favorite time of day. Quiet and calm.

Another Sunday at my favorite place.

I tried something new, called a 1-and-1. It’s basically a double shot of espresso that’s been split into a macchiato and a straight shot.

It was interesting. I’ll admit, I’d never had straight espresso before, and it was more bitter than I would really care to drink on a regular basis. But it was also very complex, with fruity notes that become totally hidden when mixed with milk. Yay for new experiences!

Nothing to see here… just a bear riding a whale. Move along now.

This is a lot harder than it sounds.

Our big little city.

Trader Joe’s is basically one giant white girl trap right now.

That’s probably why I went in just to browse and came out with half the store. Whoops.

All of the heart eyes for this.

One pan dinner for the win.

Robbie is lucky I didn’t put all the Halloween stuff out on September 1st.

Snoozin’.

Even though it still gets up to the 80’s in the afternoons here, the mornings are perfectly chilly with that darker autumn light. Yaaaaas.

The leaves are starting to do their thing, too.

My favorite.

Brothers. <3<3

Grilled chicken fajitas are awesome because a) they taste amazing and b) they require almost no kitchen clean up. A definite win.

Then I took the leftover meat and veggies to work and threw them into some cafeteria tomato soup and it was surprisingly delicious. It must have been that Bon Appetit magazine that made me do it.

Going up.

Sometimes you gotta doodle to stay awake in class.

Before-school Starbucks dates are becoming somewhat of a regular thing.

Gotta start ’em young.

#invisibleknuckletattoos

Messes can be beautiful.

I’m glad we got there before the real morning bustle began.

Jack and I went to a music class this week!

I’ve been looking for more opportunities to get him around kids his own age. He wasn’t too sure at first, but it was actually a really good experience. I think we’re going to do more of these!

I’m excited to encourage musical development as Jack gets older.

PUMPKIN EVERYTHIIIIIIIING.

Mmm, BBQ.

So dank.

Gotta come back so I can try the Nukin’ Futz.

I saved that extra crusty bit for last. So good.

“APTOSIA”

I didn’t realize that getting new tires was gonna be an ALL DAY thing. *eyeroll*

Thank God that Costco has FroYo.

Oh look at the time…

If I had a home office I would hang this above my desk.

Street level.

I’m all about that swirl.

How was your week?

Have a great Sunday!

Much love…

-Jess

In Real Life: Week 39

Our week started in Mountain Ranch, taking a few moments to breathe between saying goodbye and returning to the chaos of everyday life.

James and I thought the gate to the garden looked like a hobbit door. Where’s Bilbo?

Standing guard.

What’s up, dude?

Sometimes you just gotta take a coffee break.

It’s that time of year again! Have you gotten your flu shot?

California vibes.

I’m not an INTJ (I’m a sensor, not an intuitive), but I do identify with this description pretty well. And of course, I want the necklace anyway.

I am apparently an Ox. Which is pretty damn accurate, except for that last part. I think I understand the emotions of others pretty well.

Perks of living in diverse California? Work pot lucks are the best. Homemade Indian samosa for the win.

These matching mason jar lid + straw sets are my favorite thing this week.

IT’S HAPPENING.

The Scotts Valley Moms group had our first meet-up this week!

After interacting online for a long time, it was so good to meet some of these ladies in person! It was so much fun! I hope we really do continue to meet up like once a month like we talked about.

It’s hard to beat the combo of tasty drinks and good conversation.

I had two, because why not?

Pretty!

Visiting Robbie for lunch on his long inventory day.

Paint stores get pretty dang messy.

But the splatter looks like abstract art to me.

Goofing around while mama makes some banana bread.

Browsing my new favorite store again.

I really need to come to one of their workshops sometime.

I want this arrangement for my bathroom.

Digging the fall vibe on this one.

This almost came home with me. I can just picture it on my kitchen window sill.

IT’S LIKE THEY KNOW ME.

That cannot be comfortable.

How was your week 39?

Take it easy, friends. Much love.

-Jess

In Real Life: Week 38

Our week 38 has been a big one! Lots of photos to share, so let’s jump in!

Showing that Bronco spirit.

Blue and orange FOR LIFE.

Tampinata?

It looks like totchos are going to be in our regular Sunday rotation now, lol.

Plus rum and coke (zero).

Somebody forgot to close the bag on on the sourdough bread, so I made croutons. Pretty damn tasty, if I may say so myself.

Mountain View having a good cloud day.

I feel ya, buddy.

Um, YES PLEASE.

This boy is learning how to drink out of real cups these days. So of course he’s been trying to drink the bath water.

Starbucks date with my boys before school.

Take a book, leave a book.

I think I may have found my new favorite store this week.

Maybe these guys can help me learn how to finally keep a damn succulent alive, lol.

They have a place to let you make your own arrangements… and workshops, too!

Jamesy is really turning into an amazing big brother.

I really hope they stay close as they get older.

I don’t know what it says, but I like the way it’s written.

Tattoo time!

Waiting for my guy to set up all the stuff for my session and listening to the buzz of a tattoo gun in the other room and trying not to freak out.

I had a moment of panic when he said we were getting started, but once we got going it really wasn’t too bad. We were done with the outline before I even knew it!

The view from the table. I spent a lot of time meditating through the pain or just plain spacing out.

Tools of the trade.

Shading done, and onto color.

This was at the end of about hour 2. It was really starting to get sore about this point.

I got well-acquainted with all the artwork in this corner.

The master, at work.

Thank you for talking me through the toughest parts of that last hour, Edu.

Noted.

Four hours later, we were done!

I won’t lie… doing it all in one sitting was pretty hard. I was very sore by the end, and when I stood up from the table I felt pretty sick. But now I feel just a little bit tougher and more badass. 😉

And I am SO happy with how it turned out! Edu is truly a master, and I’d highly recommend him to anyone in the Santa Cruz area who wants some ink.

Another early morning.

Back up in Mountain Ranch to say farewell to Don one last time.

Daddy’s boy.

Note to self: if you give red licorice to a baby, he will end up looking like Chucky.

We all took a sip of some of Don’s last batch of Syrah Port. He was a damn good wine maker.

In fact, he won quite a few awards for his winemaking skills over the years.

I didn’t know this until this weekend, but he was also in the Air Force. An honor guard was even present to play Taps for him and present his flag to Mona. (Side note: what a handsome young man!)

He loved Mona so much.

It was obvious in every photo and every story that anyone had to share about the two of them.

Don also loved elephants, and had a large collection of them. We brought a few of them home with us, including this adorable one.

We also brought home this amazing painting that Robbie’s sister did a few years ago, of Don and James. It’s now hanging in our living room.

The service was beautiful. So many funny and heartwarming stories were shared. Don was (and still is) so loved.

It was held at an old community hall that reminded me a lot of Oreana.

It was the kind of place that was just made to have kids running around in it.

With that same old wild west charm.

These two aren’t related at all. Nope.

Serious guy talk happening here.

“Downtown” Mountain Ranch has some serious old-timey charm.

Damn. Wish someone had told me sooner.

Stop it with the cuteness.

After the service, a bunch of people congregated at the house to hang out, drink tequila, and toast to Don’s memory.

It was probably exactly what Don would have wanted.

Who knew an empty can could be so fun?

May we all have so many people to love and remember us after we’re gone.

My introverted brain needed a break, so I went for a walk down to the lake by myself.

Even though I never had the chance to know Don very well myself, it still felt good to sit in the peaceful places that I know he must have enjoyed so much himself, and say my own quiet goodbye.

May you enjoy the finest wine and the best fishing for eternity, Don.

Letting go is hard to do…

…but autumn is about to show us just how beautiful that can be.

May the road rise up to meet you…

…may the wind be always at your back…

…may the sun shine warm upon your face…

…and rains fall soft upon your fields.

Until we meet again….

…may God hold you in the palm of his hand.

Much love.

-Jess