Feeling Like Home

It’s hard to believe but we have been Minnesotans for over a year and a half. We’re in the middle of our second winter which has been mild save for two weekends in a row in frigid, sub-zero temperatures. It’s not my favorite time of year here, but a small price to pay for the beautiful spring, summer and fall.

When we packed up the last of our belongings, drove away from our house and said our final see you laters to our friends and family, I had a knot in my stomach. I was excited for us to move on and out of Colorado to see what it would be like, but also terrified. Would we find a new house, would our kids adjust well, would I find a job, how were we going to make new friends, am I cut out to possibly be a stay-at-home mom, will we make it through a Midwest winter? To list a few of my many concerns.

When we arrived to the lush green land of 10,000 lakes (apparently it’s more like 11-12k lakes) a lot of my fears were put at ease. We enjoyed a beautiful summer and found our house. I immediately found an amazing running group and Josh settled into his job. Our friends Peter and Rachel were amazing. We saw them multiple times every week during those first few months. They really helped with the transition for us, even babysitting for me so that I could work when I was still trying to figure out what our new routine would look like.

Instead of going back to work as originally intended, I’ve continued consulting which has allowed me to do all sorts of fun stuff with the kids. Minnesota has an amazing early childhood education program that we’ve taken advantage of and tons of community events and classes for all of us.

I have to say we’ve had a really positive experience with our move. We found a house, our kids have transitioned well and I can’t really lodge any complaints. I love our neighborhood and really Maple Grove in general. There are tons of activities all year round from outdoor music and movies to sledding, tubing and cross-country skiing. It’s no wonder it was the #2 best place to live in 2014.

As for the cons, we absolutely miss our friends and family. We’ve had several visitors to show around our new digs. It’s really nice that we have a finished basement with a guest room and bathroom as well as living space. We don’t all have to be on top of one another now. We are looking forward to more coming…hint hint.

Outside of Peter and Rachel, who are our closest friends here, it has taken a while to make friends. We’ve been working on finding friends for ourselves as well as couple friends with kids our kids’ ages. If you haven’t tried to make friends as an adult, it is totally like dating and we’re on the market. I’ve found that most of the people I meet here are from Minnesota. This means of course that they have family and friends nearby. Breaking into the friend circle can be difficult but not impossible.

Over the past six months, I feel like we’ve made huge strides in the friends department. I have friends I can text or call to go for a run (of course), lament about a frustrating day with the kids or ask to have a movie night, ring in the New Year or chat with during various kids activities. Josh has even gone for drinks and such with some of the husbands.

I never thought I’d say it, but Minnesota is starting to feel like home. There is something to starting over in a new place. It forced me to leave my comfort zone. I’ve been forced to put myself out there to meet people. It has been scary and exciting, nerve-racking and exhilarating. Overall, this has been a good move for us. Do I feel like doing it all over again anytime soon? I think I’ll pass.

 

Making Moves

The wait has finally ended, as have our days in a small apartment with none of our own stuff. Over Labor Day weekend we moved into our new house! Of course our camera is currently holding the good pictures hostage.

new house

After closing on the Thursday night prior to the holiday weekend, we drove up with our first load of clothes and such from the apartment. Josh continued our tradition of carrying me over the threshold of our new house. We cleared out our cars and walked the kids around the house again as it had been nearly two months since we were in it last.

New house living room

Ella and I picked up a pizza and we had a little picnic in our new kitchen.

Kitchen picnic

Josh’s parents were nice enough to come up for the weekend to help us get somewhat settled which was really nice. They were even on board with having a ridiculous amount of Mexican food after my 20 miler. Even though I never wanted a hot tub, I really enjoyed the one in our backyard that night.

hot tubbing

Ella really enjoyed playing with her grandparents. She was so sad when it was time to say goodbye.

We have a lot of furniture to buy so we have some empty rooms and incomplete rooms like Ella’s which desperately needs a new dresser. We’ll get there.

Our neighbors have been very welcoming. We even had one bring over muffins. I thought that only happened in movies. It was so sweet. There seem to be lots of kids in the neighborhood and just a 10 minute walk from our house is a great park and a swimming beach which we will be able to utilize more next summer.

Weaver Lake

I’m so excited to be settling in. The return to some normalcy will be great. I may even have a chance to get back to blogging. Imagine that.

 

Ripe for Picking

Our exploration of Minnesota continues. A few weeks ago when we were talking about the fall it occurred to me that there is probably good apple picking here. When I did a quick Google search I found there are way more pick your own fruit options, including fresh strawberries. Last week marked the start of strawberry picking season and we were ready to get our hands dirty.

Instead of heading North like we normally do, we picked a farm about 45 minutes south of Minnetonka near Northfield. It wasn’t until we arrived that we realized they probably only took cash. Of course we had none, so we drove to Northfield which had a super cute downtown. When we have more time we will visit again and walk around the area, grab some lunch.

northfield minnesota 550p jpg

Source

Cash in hand, kids awake from their short naps, we were ready to pick. We were given a box and walked to our row and started picking.

strawberry picking farm

strawberry picking 2

It only took about 10 minutes for Anderson to decide he wanted out of the carrier to get in on the action. He was a strawberry fiend.

strawberry picking 1

strawberry picking 3

strawberry picking 4

We spent about an hour and half picking and eating berries before we decided our box was full enough.

strawberry picking 7

strawberry picking 8

Nearly 12 lbs of strawberries, 12 pounds!

strawberries

We’re working our way through them. I made a pie and picked up an Angel food cake at the store. We eat them with breakfast, lunch and dinner. What we don’t eat will go into the freezer. It’s really too bad that all of our canning stuff is in our moving truck.

Something us prime for picking – our new house!

new house

We are officially under contract on a house. Unfortunately the current owners are building a new house and would not budge on closing before the end of August. We feel like it was worth the wait. Come Labor Day weekend, we’ll be ready for visitors! Well that is as long as you don’t mind a partially empty house. We’ve definitely upgraded a bit and need to buy quite a bit of new furniture.

From Working Mom to Full Time Mom

I’ve never seen myself as a stay-at-home mom. Not because I didn’t feel it would be rewarding or because I don’t love my children dearly, I just was unable to imagine not getting up and going to an office every day. Plus, I worried that I’d stunt the kids development and they’d fall behind their peers. Those reasons and the fact that I worked really hard to put myself through college, I continued working after having the kids.

With this move came the opportunity for me to be a full-time mom, with the bonus of working 10-15 hours a week from home. I jumped on it, excited to spend the summer with the kids. I also decided it would help everyone through the transition of being in a new place if I were home. Change is hard for everyone, especially kids who thrive on a routine.

 

Garden of the Gods Bears

So how’s it been going?

We are just about settled into a routine. What we do within the span of a week changes, but I try to stick to a schedule with lunch and naptime. One of my first goals was to find parks within walking distance. This allows us to take Lucky for a walk but also find fun playgrounds where there will also be other kids (hopefully). We have a few great parks within a couple miles of us that we go to at least once a week.

When we arrived here, one of Ella’s first questions was when she was going to meet new friends. It broke my heart a little bit when she added that she misses her friends. We do not want to put her into preschool just yet because we’re not in our new house, which could be in one of three cities we’re currently looking in. I noticed the city was offering a free playground class for three year olds. I jumped on it and so for 45 minutes every Tuesday and Thursday we go to the park to where the camp leaders take the kids and play with them on the playground. As a bonus for me, I met two great moms who I get to chit chat with. I crave the adult conversation.

We’ve been trying out a few other kid friendly events and activities. The favorite by far is storytime at the library where they sing and dance in addition to reading. They both also really like the indoor play area at the rec center and of course, Shady Oak Lake.

As for me, I love getting to do all these fun things with the kids and spend my days outside in the sun. I love seeing them grow and especially Anderson develop new skills. I’m not missing a moment of it. That being said, some days are amazing other days, really hard.

birthday with the kids

It seems the terrible threes have arrived at our house. I’m trying to be as understanding as possible when Ella has tantrums because she wants to be independent but still needs help, plus not being in a place of her own, is hard. There are times though that I have to leave her in her room throwing a tantrum and walk away because I start to lose my cool. Those are the days I miss having a nice break.

As for what I’m missing, adult interaction. I was lucky to work with some really great people and I miss just shooting the breeze and bouncing ideas off of them. I work when the kids nap which is a hit or miss. Ella will nap every day, but Anderson may or may not nap at the same time. I get up about 5 am to get work in just in case they do not nap. If they do, it’s a bonus and I’ll let myself sleep in a bit later at the end of the week.

I’d say the transition has been easier than I thought. There are moments of loneliness that lead to homesickness. I look forward to Josh coming home every night almost equally for the conversation and the extra set of hands.

I don’t see myself staying home until the kids go off to school, but at least until we buy a house and find good, quality childcare.

 

The First Few Weeks

We made it through our first two weeks in Minnesota. It flew right by. I’m still sane and everyone is happy and healthy.

Transitioning from being a full-time working mom to a part-time work-at-home/stay-at-home mom was a bit daunting to me going in. I’ve been using the past few weeks to get us into a new routine, find fun activities to do, explore the area and figure out how to balance working (very part-time) and the kids.

We spent most mornings walking on horribly ugly paths like these:

Lone Lake Trail

and playing at parks like this:

Bryant Lake Park

Most days we’ll walk (mainly the dog and I walk) up to eight miles. I swear we are in the hillest city in the Twin Cities area. Our apartment is in a valley of hills that have been working me, especially when I’m pushing two kids in a stroller. It’s no wonder I found my clothes are fitting a little bit better.

When it’s sunny we like to spend time by the pool. Not by the pool, but rarely in it because the kids deem the water too cold.

photo 1

Or by the lake which has been the biggest hit of all.

Shady Oak Lake

In an effort to meet some fellow moms and find some playmates for Ella we also ventured to story time at Barnes and Noble. Ella was pretty excited about making this butterfly for me.

Ella and her craft

We’ve done some house hunting too. We’ve found houses we like, but nothing that has said, this is home to us. We loved everything about one house we saw this week, except for the lot it was on. Of course that same model on a better lot is about $80k out of the price range. Damn! We will find one, it may just take some time.

We’ve gotten to spend some time with Josh’s friend Peter and his wife Rachel. It’s been great getting to know Rachel better and have their guidance around our new city. They even watched the kids for a few hours for me so that I could work. I think I may just take them up on their offer to make it a regular Friday thing.

I also met some runners for a nice nine mile run. It was so nice to have some people to chat and run with. Several of the ladies are training for the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon so I’ll have training partners! I’m excited about that.

I miss my mountains, our friends and family, little things like the grocery stores I know like the back of my hand and not having to rely on Google Maps to get around. But, I think we’re going to like it here.