home.

A virtual friend asked me to describe what home means to me. I quickly rattled off a generic, yet truthful answer. As I’ve had more time to ponder the idea, I worry my response was only covering the surface. I believe it rounded out an idea of comfort, laughter, family and friends – all honest ideals and things for which we strive. However, what gets lost is why those things matter; the reasons and richness of their existence…and our need for it. Our constant and indefinite state of healing not only thrives on comfort, laughter, family and friends – it requires it. Our home has been a safe haven and at times a retreat from overwhelming situations/feelings/memories. We at times make a conscious choice to shut out the world, its inhabitants, its pain and our weakness to function within it, but we also welcome joy inside its walls. We crave gut busting laughter, interpretive dance parties, gin tastings, dinners where it doesn’t matter if the table is set and comfy pants are the required attire – these are the things that make a house a home. Yes, I want it to be lovely and cozy, a cohesive unique design, walls littered with photographs and art, a working kitchen, enough storage space…but honestly, I just want to hear laughter echoing against the walls, warm bodies occupying the space, no matter how imperfect it may be.
** you should check out said virtual friend if you love home design, DIY, puppy dawgs, and an overdose of adorable.

take me to Tofino

Four+ months ago Mick and I had an honest conversation about how we wanted to spend Birdie’s week of life. The main things on which we agreed – somewhere far, somewhere isolated, somewhere healing. Over the years we have ventured out of the box for vacations and not once been disappointed. Even when feverish in Mexico, someone (Mick) nursing an injured knee (most of you know this story), we would go again. The best healing retreat we encountered was with our dear Lois in Idaho – her hospitality and serene location pushed us over the edge and started our adventure to move – we still seek healing there. All of these, randomly found on the internet, out of the ordinary and perfect in every way. Virgins to Air BnB – I scoured countries, towns, hot spots relying on my gut to show me where to go. The pictures of Cedarwood Cove sucked me in, but it was the owner’s description that sold us. As a nutrition nerd who spent a year hands on healing with a nutritionist and greatly benefiting – Michelle’s words about food, the earth and living life resonated. I researched their island gem and after showing it to Mick, we paid in full.

We both know a lot can happen in four months but we held out hope we’d make this happen. When rough days or weeks came our way – we looked at the pictures, we reread Michelle’s words and we repeated, “take me to Tofino!” The photos speak for themselves – Beauty is everywhere. Eagles soaring directly above, the sounds of migrating birds mixed with the powerful ocean rumble. It is a community of less than 2,000 people but holy geez, do they have it figured out. A surf town in the middle of a rain forest, surrounded by jagged tree-covered mountains. The ocean on one side, the sound on the other – it truly has everything to offer. It’s part of the Pacific Rim National preserve, the drive across Vancouver Island has many a jaw dropping moment. Between Mick and I we have seen quite a few astounding places, but there’s something about this place – it warms your soul. The way of life, the food, the culture and the smiles on everyone’s face – it is one of a kind. We are thankful for people like Michelle and Alan – their desire to enjoy life – to make it rich and rewarding is something we all need. Even if we only have eight days of anonymity.

I haven’t used my real camera in a long time and there was a learning curve for sure…but I picked it back up slowly. Below are some shots – very few edits because it takes too much time, I mean, seriously. (Click on image for slideshow)

happy things…

We are making a concerted effort to do things that make us happy. This month, it’s flowers. Mick and I often have discussions – if we’re ever filthy.stinking.rich. what would we splurge on? It would not be a home, cars or flashy things. Mick would have fresh squeezed juice and a new pair of socks everyday. He would also buy the entire J.Crew catalog. I would have fresh flowers. Everyday – a massive, stunning bouquet with things like Peonies, lilacs filled to the brim….it would take your breath away. [I would probably also have a sturdy Marc Jacobs handbag and a couple pairs of expensive jeans, but whatever.]

Yesterday Mick made me flower boxes. I’ve always wanted flower boxes. Today we splurged on perennials and annuals and had the best time doing it. We pretended money wasn’t an issue and shopped till we dropped. It was pretty stellar. i even continued potting through a downpour – there was quite a bit of delight in today.

flower box

insert lining

the depot

jumping jonny's

fleur

flower box

complete

There is so much heaviness wherever we look. Somehow, it’s not suffocating. Somehow, it gives us purpose. We see pain and suffering in a different way now – we see hearts on sleeves and heaviness filling eyes – we notice graceful moments and moments of fragility we may have neglected before. It’s as though everyone we know are facing mountains – fear filled futures and stifling currents. One of the quotes I read over and over and over and over…

Tell me Atlas, what is heavier? The world? Or its peoples’ hearts? | Darshana S, Atlas Still Stands, But Does Anyone Else?

I feel this defines our current world – so much heaviness, so much grief and so much pain. Maybe it’s a season, maybe it’s the new normal – whatever the case – we are being called upon to be gracious, sensitive and selfless. Pray for those you see everyday – even those you do not know. We are all facing mountains – some of which – we know nothing about.

six years

Many years ago I was driving through Georgia; I pulled off 95 South to use the restroom and grab sustenance. I was not in the most populated area, but it did not seem like I was entering the plot of a horror movie either. [A common rule to determine ones safety.] I entered the “ladies” room and immediately noticed the strong stench of bleach. My initial thought was, awesome, I found the one gas station bathroom they actually clean! I noticed the sink was shiny, the mirror sparkling – SCORE! As I walked toward the stall, the smell grew stronger, except now it was mixed with another smell…something horrible. I entered the stall, as I turned toward the toilet I realized I was in a horror movie, my nightmare. A brown liquid substance covered the stall walls, filled the mini trash can and splattered all porcelain surfaces. As I fumbled for the lock, I did my best to not bring any additional damage to this restroom. If this was Georgia’s idea of a “ladies” room, I needed to vomit elsewhere.

Once I was back on the freeway I consulted my phone list. I had made a check list of people to call to keep me awake or entertained as I drove seventeen hours south. Someone I only recently met was next on the list, some guy named Micky. Welp, this is as good a time as any to break the ice. I dialed his number and began the conversation with my recent introduction to Georgia bathrooms. I do not want to put words his mouth, but I am pretty sure this is when he fell in love with me.

As Micky and I embark on our seventh year together, I look back at our humble beginnings. Even before we met – we had both been through so much change and hopeless moments. Together we have now faced tragedy, but it never feels difficult to love him; it is the most natural thing in the world. If I only knew at fifteen, eighteen, twenty, twenty-four – this is what I should strive to achieve, this is love. Love and marriage do not mean finding someone who can provide financial security. Love is not meant to be out of control and dysfunctional – those highs and lows – although seemingly romantic at times – will not get you through the dredges life inevitably throws. Love is courage, it means fighting for something despite our insecurities. You can love someone, and with everything inside yourself know they are your soul mate, but if you’re a coward, it is likely you will lose them. If your insecurities rule you, how much can you offer another person. Love is sacrifice, it means letting go of self, pride, expectation, and giving yourself in every way to someone else. It is honest, sharing even the ugly parts, because if you’re fighting the same fight, those ugly parts will become beautiful. No one does it perfectly, every one of us is flawed, but when you have someone with whom you are courageous, sacrificial and honest –  exceptional things await. Remember, my first adult conversation with my now husband was about explosive diarrhea…I clearly know what I’m talking about.

birthing class update

OK – I love this class, it’s highly informative and the teacher is ah-may-zing. We actually just found out she will be our doula and I could not be happier. She’s like a hug in human form. Anyways, in her gentle way of teaching you never know when she’s going to drop knowledge that is…graphic and/or horrifying. She throws it out there just as gently she would a comment on how stylish you look today. [she’s never complemented me on my clothes. bitch.]

The other night we were headed to class – after being surprised by two birthing videos the previous week, Mick decided to go into this class with a code word. A word we could both use to either leave early, rush to the bathroom, and/or to let the other know, “tell me when it’s over, I’m closing my eyes and plugging my ears.” We weren’t feeling super creative so we just went with the name of a famous author our friends recently saw speak at a local church. It was between that and “earwigs.” An hour into class, all was seemingly calm, a lot of review and research projects. After an open discussion and a few intriguing questions our teacher decided to watch a video instead of jump into her bullet points. Mick abruptly turns to me, “did she just say we’re watching another video!?” Misie: “Yea, it’s another one on the stages of labor…” Mick, in a panicked whisper, “josh macdowell, jOsH mAcDoWeLl, JOSH MACDOWELL!!!!!**” I LOST it – my entire body was shaking, tears were streaming down my face, I couldn’t even handle it. Mick snorted, pretended to rub my back as though I needed comfort which only made me laugh harder. This went on through the entire video!!! We may get kicked out before 10 weeks is up!

**for those of you who don’t know who Josh MacDowell is, the humor is most definitely lost on you. He writes moving and inspired books, and would never be in the same sentence with anything related to child birth.

a year in review, kinda

I hate overused phrases. I think I acquired this distaste from Mick – he remembers every silly phrase used to sell something or ones used by people with nothing intelligent to say: let’s do this, get er done, you only live once, LOL, why the face…etc. He doesn’t just despise all things phrase, he then overuses them to make a point as to how annoying they are. SO when he said the other day, what a difference a year makes, I had to LOL because he was actually serious. The first of this month marked the one year anniversary of our arrival in Idaho. After two weeks traipsing across the US in the worst weather, we arrived alive.

It really is amazing all that has happened in the last year, how we’ve changed, how we’ve seen others change, or not. There was also Mick’s hand, the new house, the first week at the house, and so much in between! I can say for us, as a couple, we are so much more relaxed. Its as if our little house and personal space bubbles are lined with cotton balls – everything stressful that happens, is entirely muted once it actually reaches us. We belly laugh pretty much everyday, we talk about anything and everything under the sun, and we enjoy every single day, even the no good, terrible ones. We have met some kindred souls who are always genuine and always gracious. We have been welcomed and practically adopted into some wonderful families. We have been fed every holiday, celebrated and valued on our birthdays even by strangers. What a gift to be accepted as you are, for exactly who you are and immediately shown grace. To move 4,000 miles away and feel the same kind of love we knew back east – such a blessing.
I am watching Mick flourish as a person – he is grasping and soaking in all those things we all have seen in him for years. He is making a mark, one he doesn’t even see, on so many lives. I couldn’t be more proud to see him recognize and use his many gifts – it blows me away how special a person he is…without even trying. This baby is one lucky lady to have him for a dad.
The only thing that remains the same is Lil Buddy. He’s just as broken and special as always, probably more so, but he keeps our life interesting and hilarious. February will bring it’s own surprises for him – not just cries and coos but new furniture with which to maneuver and objects that seem to move on their own. The floors will be yesterday’s news. We are looking forward to the year ahead but hope it does not rush by – we are really enjoying the here and now and living each day simply and happily.
**italics = annoying phrases

birthing class with a middle school mind

Yep – I’m going here…

Mick and I started our birthing class the day before vacation. It’s a small class with six other couples. We are studying the Bradley Method as I plan to have lil litschewski naturally at a birthing center. We have had three classes, only attended two so far. The teacher is a Doula and not only incredibly educated, but very down to earth and normal. Everything we have learned thus far has been fascinating and basic.
This week Mick decided to read ahead before class – it was about the coach and things they should be thinking of in preparation. It started off safe and normal and then, well… Mick is pretty much the funniest person I know – he has an incredible wit and can be exceptionally animated when necessary. He reached the emergency situations section – things like – if your wife comes to you and says she thinks there is a hand or foot sticking out, what do you do? – this of course required him to act out this type of emergency! Pregnant women should not laugh that hard and have to hold their bladder at the same time! He also had to read about various ailments the mother can get during pregnancy and his gag reflex is incredible – I now know words to say and/or leave lying around the house to make him squirm. Unfortunately, his over achieving status made the two hour class incredibly uncomfortable. First things first, we were given a research topic – they range from labor inducing drugs to various complications – remember, Mick is now a little more educated on complications, our topic: episiotomy. A lovely 2-5 minute presentation is in our future.
The remainder of the class we reverted to 12 year old boys laughing uncontrollably – more from flashbacks to earlier in the night – and giggling as one of us, not mentioning who, would circle every word in the chapter that had “anal” somewhere within it. Mick definitely snorted twice during class. If I had to do this with anyone else, it would be impending doom. Mick makes it all seem like one big awkward moment, one we will laugh about for a very long time. Actually looking forward to the next eight weeks!