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It has been so long since I’ve spent time here at Less & More I feel like I owe you an apology, or rather, an explanation. As inevitably happens in life, our journey has taken a few unexpected twists and turns in the past few weeks. Let me share the short version with you before I go any further:

::We decided, for a number of reasons, that we are not moving out of the suburbs into the country this summer.
::I will probably not be able to homeschool my little people, as I had so been looking forward to, next year.
::My venus fly trap blossomed for the first time ever!
::We attended Willow’s end of the year Kindergarten Showcase.
::Eric had a blast running the Warrior Dash.

If you can wrap your head around all of that you are way ahead of me. I feel like I have been tossed into a hole and cannot find purchase enough to climb out. The list above is not exclusively filled with horrible happenings. In fact, much of the list is exciting and wonderful in nature. It’s those first two left-hand turns that have really thrown me for a loop. I feel like I need to work up to talking about those, so let me begin with a few of the more uplifting events.

I must admit, I am ridiculously excited about my venus fly trap blooming. I’m certain that I am placing way too much value on it, but clinging to it’s blooming as a metaphor for optimism and hope has been comforting to me, considering recent circumstances. Jarl and I purchased it on a whim while at our local nursery three years ago and it has been sitting on the window sill above our kitchen sink ever since. Occasionally, it looks like it is about to die, but – always and without fail – it manages to evade death. I have seen it with withered black leaves, shriveled and apparently dying one day, only to find that the very next day a new healthy green shoot is peeking up from the soil. It has never bloomed before – ever. That is, until last week. First, our little carnivorous plant pushed a single stem up and up and up. Then we watched as the small tight buds slowly formed and began to unfurl. Over the last few days it has been like watching fireworks in slow motion – one beautiful white explosion at a time. It has been a source of simple joy amidst so much chaos.

Willow is quickly approaching the end of her first year in school and, as is the convention these days, we were required to attend a little show put on by her class. The teachers want to show us what they have been so hard at work teaching our little ones and the kiddos just want a chance to show off and be the center of attention. I find it all a bit silly, but Willow was thrilled by the whole experience and I found myself happy simply because she was happy. It was a great excuse for Eric to take the afternoon off of work and for us to enjoy some time with just our littlest of little people for a few hours. There was much silliness and hat wearing that afternoon. I think Eric’s photo is especially hilarious – the children in Willow’s class all thought that he looked like good old Abe Lincoln.

You may not know this about my husband, but he is kind of wacky. He was a competitive fencer for years and years, is a total – self proclaimed – geography geek, loves snobby coffee and likes to run through mud. What can I say? Ya gotta do what makes you happy, right? His wackiness is actually one of the reasons I love him so much. He is absolutely unafraid to try something that looks like a challenge or like it might just be fun to try. This past weekend we found ourselves at a nearby race track watching hordes of like-minded wackos climb rope walls, jump over fire, and crawl through the mud. Of course the day ended with a hot smokey turkey leg and a cold beer. He had fun, Freja devoured her turkey leg and I got a heck of a sunburn. All in all, not a bed way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

I suppose I can’t avoid them any longer – those tougher topics up at the top of my list. I am still not feeling very articulate about them, but I’ll do my best to at least explain the facts of our current situation. My emotional response to changes like the ones that have presented themselves recently always take a while longer for me to process, but I can at least share where I am at today.

I began this blog with the intention of documenting our journey toward a more simple life. A life away from the toxic energy of the suburbs, away from the hectic-ness of public schools, toward a simple and more beautiful life full of family and time together. I have had my heart set on moving out to the country for as long as I can remember and this was going to be our summer. We had been planning this move for so long, my heart has broken a little with the realization that it is not going to happen. Not right now, anyway.

We put in so many hours looking at properties trying to seek out the right combination of location and space and budget. Wow. I had no idea the rental market was so tough these days! We have been renting in our current location for four years and had no trouble at all – at all – finding a place to call home back then. Times have sure changed. With so many families renting instead of buying these days rentals are available for precisely a heart beat before they are snatched up. I believe we struggled especially because of the fact that we have a family of six and we wanted a smaller sized home. No one would believe us when we said that we were good with smaller. It’s all bigger, better, faster, more around here. That makes me so sad.

Needless to say, we could not find that magic combination of elements that would make it worth the financial and emotional stress to relocate our family. We finally had to admit our defeat and humbly ask our current landlord if we could stay here a bit longer. They graciously said yes and so it is that we will be revisiting a location change after our next whirl around the sun. Our little people are understandably relieved at not having to leave their friends, but I have been caught unprepared for another year with a parking lot in front of my house and the incessant humming of air conditioners all summer long.

Not moving is disappointing, but I think what really left me feeling stranded in that hole I mentioned before is the fact that because we are not relocating I am going to be on the hook to provide at least a small source of income for our family. My husband works hard, and earns a good living, but the simple fact of the matter is that we have a large family and we live in an expensive area. It is tough –  I would go so far as to say it is a luxury – to be able to live on a single income these days. We obviously can pay all the bills and feed our hungry bellies well, but we don’t have much extra to save for our future dreams and for a bit of fun here and there. It’s time Mama got a job again. That’s life and that is what I have been wrestling with for the last few weeks.

We are still dedicated to our dream of a simple and more beautiful life, but we knew from the very beginning that this was going to be a journey filled with twists and turns and bumps. I believe fully that these unexpected challenges are what make the taste of fulfilled dreams so sweet. How we cope with these challenges will be a visible display of our character and resolve. I don’t know exactly what is going to happen next, (Whoa, that just took me by surprise.) but I am beginning to feel okay about that. Uncertainty is not something that I am usually very good at, but I’m trying to simply be present. Right now, in this moment, I feel like the universe is telling me to keep trying new things, to embrace this journey for what it is and to lighten up. Plans are all well and good, but you have to remember to live along the way. I have to remember to live in the here and now, to find joy in the life I am living right this second.     

I am feeling the need to push my comfort zone and to challenge myself. I’m going to take a page right out of my husband’s book – I’m sure he won’t mind – and do what seems like it will be challenging and fun. Why the heck not, right? I need to feel alive and excited about the days I am living, not the days I wish I were living. I’m also going to explore new ways to bring in a few dollars so that we can still fulfill our dreams, however they evolve. I’m keeping my dreadlocks and refuse to sacrifice my relationship with my family this time around. I learned that lesson but good during my time as a restaurant manager. I won’t go down that road again! No amount of money is worth those sacrifices.

Any and all words of support and/or ideas would be more than welcome.

I promise to not let this hole get the best of me and I’m sorry that I pulled my life in so close to the vest over the last few weeks. It’s tough to share disappointment and failure publicly, but I made a promise to share the good the bad and the ugly with you so that we can collectively grow and learn together. That’s what I’ll be doing from now on.

I think it’s time to pour a glass of wine and dream big. Who knows what’s next?