Three words to describe the first half of 2013. 

Busy. Busy. Busy. I can’t keep working at this level. Something’s got to change.

How is the house coming?

Slowly but surely. In fall of last year, I tackled the last segment of the family room remodel: the fireplace and “wet bar.” We now have a new fireplace, finished wainscoting, and a new acrylic floor. Now it’s time to hang the TV and finish the carpentry details. Earlier this spring, a friend of ours gave us an armoire which made us think hard about an office/storage room that we had been ignoring. Why put a beautiful piece of furniture in an overcrowded room with beat up carpet? So I emptied the room, pulled up the carpet, and added new floors. We grabbed some key furniture and storage options at local thrift stores and yard sales. That’s where we stopped for the summer. Also, I am okay with having two concurrent remodeling projects.

Favorite leisure?

There hasn’t been time for leisure this year. So it’s been about bringing leisure into the key parts of life. For example, for several weeks of the spring, we ate our family dinners in the backyard.  Sometimes we would make campfire. Other times we’d lay on blankets and look at the stars. Or Candyce and I would sit back in our Adirondack chairs and watch Norah and Stella dance and do tricks to the music that played on Pandora. It was a family meal, entertainment, and outside play all at the same time. Dinner outside–it’s such a simple idea, but it added such richness to our lives.

Most gratifying moment?

For most of May and June, Stella has asked me to hold her and walk around the neighborhood to help her fall asleep at night. This has kind of been our thing since she was little, but this is a new chapter because she’s more alert and mature. We’ve enjoyed looking into the night sky to look for airplanes, satellites, and shooting stars. When we took a vacation in Big Bear, it was much cooler than when we were down in Phoenix. So I made a bed of cozy blankets in the wagon and pulled her along the ridge of the mountain. It was so heartwarming to hear her talk to herself about the thing that she saw in the sky. I love that girl so much.

When have I been afraid?

Nobody likes to admit being afraid because nobody wants to show weakness. But the fear is there. I had a skin cancer scare on my back near my shoulder blade. I had so much anxiety through those weeks of testing. Is this a ‘minor cancer’ or a ‘major cancer’? Lucky for me, it was minor. But then there was the long, drawn-out healing process that took almost three months. I couldn’t do anything for fear of damaging my back: no holding kids, no moving stuff, no reaching, no hugs with friends. Those rules seemed to last forever. In the end, that whole thing made me really aware of my humanity.

Anything random?

While recovering from skin surgery on my back, I enjoyed watching old episodes of MacGyver with Norah and Stella. Who knew that a 4- and 2-year-old could like a 25-year-old TV show? I’ve recreated memories from my own childhood by making a big bowl of popcorn and sharing it like Dad always did. So of course, this whole scene is nostalgic and awesome. Just as importantly, though, is the fact that this is the first live-action man show that I’ve watched since Norah was born almost five  years ago. That’s a long time.

What’s changing in life?

When we first had Norah, Candyce and I were still in the 20-something lifestyle. We were out and about, except we had a baby with us the whole time. Now that we have three kids 4-years-old and younger, we stay home a lot more. The little girls are happier here, so that makes us happier too.

Anything else changing?

Our diet has changed drastically because we’ve discovered that Stella has some strong food allergies. After several months of painful trial and error to figure out that wheat/gluten, nuts, and eggs give her most of her skin irritation. It was a joy to finally narrow down these foods as problematic, but that was just the beginning. How do you make three meals a day without using wheat, nuts, or eggs? Wheat is in everything. But it looks like Chef Candyce has pulled a good menu schedule for the family before the chaos of the summer settled in. This whole project was a huge burden for our family this year. The good news is that Stella has less skin irritation, which means she sleeps better and wakes up happier the next day. She’s a happier girl, and that makes all of the struggle worth it.

Breakthrough moment?

Realizing how fast life is going by and feeling like there was no way to put on the brakes. We tried canceling TV, saying “no” to social events with friends, and after that we ran out of ideas. That was back in January. Then in June, Candyce and I decided that we wanted to homeschool our girls. We had many reasons why we felt good about this direction, and I’m sure she’ll write a blog about it. But what I’m most excited about is to avoid the rigidity of the school year.

Fondest memory with Candyce?

We’ve had a few fun dates. Our 6th anniversary staycation at the Scottsdale Resort. It was fun bringing baby Eden along with us so that I could give her attention that normally gets diverted to Norah and Stella. While enjoying our anniversary dinner, we reminisced about all of the beautiful weddings that we’ve been to since our own wedding. We counted memories 18 weddings. That’s three weddings a year! Also, we saw a “Wall of Sound” performance from choreographer Travis Wall. I enjoyed it immensely. This is a big deal, because I was traumatized by watching a Bob Fosse show back in the 1990s, and I haven’t paid to watch people dance ever since.

What are you crushing on?

  • The 2001-2003 VW Eurovan Weekender. There’s something timeless and cool about a VW van. The Eurovan was their last, most modern van and it defied all the norms of minivans 10 years ago. This makes me happy so I look at them online.
  • The outdoors. After spending the 15 years after high school in big cities all the time, I’ve felt the urge to get into the wild more. (See my board on Pinterest of cool destinations.)
  • And Candyce, of course.

What wisdom gives you clarity at this moment in life?

  • It’s not about having a balanced life; it’s about knowing priorities. It’s that simple.
  • You can’t control situations. You can only control yourself. What actions can I take to make things right?

What do you want from the rest of 2013?

I want a schedule that’s not as packed. I need more time to live. Life is short.