Tag Archives: marriage

This Crazy, Beautiful Life

My seven-year-old daughter was given a homework assignment to complete over the winter break. She was asked to reflect on her greatest accomplishments of 2016 and develop a list of goals for the coming year.

Well, with a trip to Spain over the holidays, her homework was pushed aside until the very last moment. As the clock ticked away the final hours of our vacation, my daughter frantically picked up her sparkly blue pencil and rushed to work. Her answers were honest and, even with the time crunch, contemplative. She was proud of several successes in 2016: how hard she had worked in school and the fact that she had begun reading chapter books; her commitment to ballet and gymnastics which kept her active and strong throughout the year; and her go-with-the-flow attitude which served her well as she traveled to new places, making friends along the way. Her hopes for 2017 were simple, yet earnest: audition for a role in the Nutcracker ballet; read 9 books a day; learn more about animals and science so she may become a veterinarian one day; and continue to spend time with her two favorite people, mom and dad. That one was my favorite, of course.

I found her assignment inspiring. My daughter was setting goals based on her interests and growth over the previous year. She approached the exercise from a place of abundance. Oftentimes, as adults we start the new year reflecting on our perceived deficiencies – I need to do more of this, loose some of that – be different than who I am today. It is too bad, because a long the way we forget to build upon the unique strengths we already possess. And wouldn’t that be a kinder way to enter a new year?

Taking a cue from my little one, I’ve decided to use 2017 as an opportunity to set a very personal goal focused on that which I value most in this world. My family.

My goal for 2017:

Simple. I will continue to prioritize my family above all else. We will go sledding when it snows, spend Sundays making messy art projects, plant our vegetable garden in spring, travel over holiday breaks, and invite more friends into our home. We won’t wait for moments to celebrate, instead we will celebrate the little moments. And I will continue to share them here. I am also using our crazy, beautiful life as the inspiration for a book about family traditions that I will complete this year.

Dear 2016: you weren’t the easiest year – we had our ups and downs. But in the end, I thank you for the time and the tremendous memories. Here are some of my favorites…

Mara
Mara enjoying public art in Montreal
Hello Kitty
Our little one eyeing up the treats in China Town
Family Time in Nature
Enjoying a nature hike through Milwaukee’s botanical gardens
Riding the Waves
Aunt Masha and Uncle Seth taking our daughter for a ride on Lake Tahoe
Wading in the Water
Our little one braving the cold Tahoe water
A case of the sillies
My mother and brother sharing a moment in San Francisco
mara-seth
Celebrating my brother’s wedding in New Orleans
Witnessing the most beautiful wedding of 2016
Witnessing the most beautiful wedding of 2016
Kevin
Speaking of weddings, celebrating 12 years of marriage with the love of my life
Arc de Triomf in Barcelona
Spending the holidays in Barcelona
Playground 1
Enjoying a small park in Spain

My family was the inspiration for starting this blog. Entertaining Family allows me to document our adventures and the nuggets of wisdom we learn along the way. Writing about the people in my life brings me joy and I am so grateful to have a place to share my reflections. Thank you for sharing this space with me.

 

Our Kitchen Remodel Brings Me To Tears

Hi friends! Well, we are in the throes of kitchen construction. Our fridge is sitting in the center of the dining room, the countertops are in the trash, and the ugly laminate flooring has been ripped out to make way for the original oak, which has been covered up for too long. Needless to say, in the midst of this, our family can’t find anything we need and we’re already sick of takeout (which doesn’t bode well, as and we’re only on day three of this project). However, that is not what this post is about! Today, I want to tell you about something strange that happened to me – something I didn’t expect from this process. I got swept up in a wave of emotions that took me by surprise….

This past weekend, as my husband and I were cleaning out all of the old kitchen drawers and cupboards to prepare for demolition, I was overwhelmed by feelings of nostalgia. Even more so, I was overcome by a deep sense of sadness. As I sorted through our belongings, the tears began flowing.

Ten years ago, when we bought our 1896 Victorian home, my husband and I were newlyweds. We were a couple of young dreamers, building our careers, considering parenthood, tackling some minor projects in our century-old home, and envisioning all that was ahead of us. We spent countless evenings in our kitchen, talking about how we’d remodel things if we ever got the chance. We’d put in a farm-house sink, and maybe a window over there to let in some more natural light. Of course, right in the center of the room would be a well-appointed island where we’d prep dinner together and store all of those small appliances that we rarely use, but can’t live without. It would be a modest kitchen, but full of character and personal touches.

For ten years, we cut out photos and pinned ideas of fixtures and finishes. Over time our decorating tastes changed, but the dream remained the same: one day we would get rid of our old, tired kitchen and make way for something new.

While we were dreaming, we were also building an amazing life. That old kitchen was where I told my husband we were expecting a baby, as I handed him the pregnancy test with the pink plus sign. That old kitchen was where our daughter took her very first steps, which my husband and I nearly missed because she had given us no indication that she was ready to walk (sneaky, that one!). That old kitchen was where, every night for ten years, I shared a glass of wine with my husband as we discussed the events of the day. It turns out, that old kitchen – the one we had always dreamed of changing – had been part of the happiest moments of our lives.

As we unpacked the drawers and cupboards, it was like taking apart a time capsule. And it hit me. While finally getting our modern kitchen is very exciting, there was something beautiful about that decade-long dream we shared. It represented everything that we were working so hard to create. Not a kitchen, but a life. And so that’s why I cried. I was mourning the loss of the dream that had developed all of those years ago…and maybe that young couple that we used to be.

So as we prepare for the new, we fondly remember our old kitchen and all of the plans and the special moments that were made there. Good bye, old friend. You weren’t so bad after all. One last glass of wine to honor what you have meant to us, and a toast to the dreams ahead…

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