Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Vacation: The Pacific Northwest

We have another family vacation on the horizon! At this stage in our life, we are choosing to financially prioritize traveling with our family. We find that traveling together removes us from the day-to-day stresses and immerses us in each other's company and offers us new experiences and adventure. 

Do you have any recommendations for Portland or Seattle? (Megan, I hope we can finally hang out together!)

This post has an amazing (and overwhelming) amount of Portland advice, and I enjoyed this post about going to Seattle with family. Here's our tentative plan:

  • Arrive really late at night (this will be our first flight with Tate needing his own seat!)
Monday: Seattle
  • Boat adventure in the morning
  • University of Washington in the afternoon and maybe Trophy Cupcakes
Tuesday: Seattle
Wednesday: Seattle
  • ? in the morning
  • Drive to Portland in the afternoon
Thursday: Portland
  • Slappy Cakes for breakfast
  • Bike ride in the morning
  • Hiking in the afternoon
  • Powell's Bookstore in the afternoon
 Friday: Portland
  • Breakfast
  • Westmoreland Park
  • Drive to Seattle to catch our flight 

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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

How to Host a Backyard Movie Night (and Replace Your TV with a Projector)

Matt and I got rid of our TV many years ago. I grew up watching A TON of TV (hello, Facts of Life, Three's Company, Silverspoons, Punky Brewster, Alf, You Can't Do that on Television, Saved by the Bell--I know I'm dating myself). Once I hit adulthood, I started to realize that it's a major time suck. It's so easy to lose many hours in front of the screen and to emerge from a TV feeling foggy and disappointed in myself rather than relaxed and rejuvenated. 

But that's just me. I know there are lots of people who do find TV to be a productive way to relax. I just know that I personally want to be intentional with my screen time, and switching over to a projector allowed me to do that. 

Matt and I haven't had a TV in our living room for about 8 years and we finally ditched our bedroom TV about 5 years ago. When we watch movies or shows now, we use a computer or a projector. 

We purchased this one from Amazon, but there is also a more recent version available

We keep it in a basket with an extension cord for easy portability. We use this speaker to go with it. 

A couple years ago, there was a flash sale on a website called Woot and we scored this giant outdoor screen for an inexpensive price. It takes about 10 minutes to set up, and it breaks down into a relatively small bag for easy storage (under our couch). We only put it up for special events, like Matt's Goonies birthday party or our backyard movie night. I've been meaning to get an old-school projection screen like this for more casual movie nights in our living room. In our bedroom, we simply project things onto our closet.

I think that's about it. Let me know if you have any questions!

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Monday, August 31, 2015

Focus on Being, Not Doing

I know I really needed to hear something when it brings tears to my eyes. Thank you.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Backyard Movie Night

Most of my posts are planning posts. I like to sit and write out my goals and ideas. It holds me more accountable for actually following-through. Writing about things after they happen is so much more boring for me! I'll just say that I am so glad I followed-through on hosting a movie night in our backyard. Matt and I had a mini-date night on a blanket on the grass with friends and neighbors. Hooray!

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Monday, August 24, 2015

Live the Life You've Always Imagined

I loved reading Kelsey's recent post at Rising*Shining (Kelsey, let's please plan another visit when you are in Austin!). She and Chris have decided to save like crazy for five years in order to pay off their mortgage. Once their mortgage is paid off, Chris will continue working his job, but Kelsey will be freed up to work for herself. 

I love examples of people deciding what kind of life they want to create for themselves and then building a plan to make it happen. [As a side note, our world is set up in very unfair ways that advantage certain people to be able to live this way (based on race, parents' education levels, etc.) But I believe all people should be able to live this way, which is why Montessori For All exists.]

Back to Kelsey and Chris. Her story made me go back to Matt for another conversation about the kind of life we want to build for ourselves. "Are you sure you don't want us to save up so you can work part-time?" We're sure that's not the path for us. 

Then this weekend we were invited out to a lake house in the Hill Country. It was stunning. As we passed through tiny Texas towns, several questions came up:
  • Should we move to a tiny town to build more intimate connections as a family?
  • Should we save up our money and buy a lake house retreat for weekends? 
Our answers are no and no. But the questions are worth asking. We only get one chance at this little life of ours.

I think our big goals right now are to keep investing in our house as a mini-sanctuary. We want to come home from work every day and feel like we can escape from everything together as a family with games, books, and swimming. We still have several things that we want to do on our house, such as adding umbrellas around our deck and pool. We want to feel like we are on vacation on the weekends, and we want to invite friends over frequently.

We also want to keep traveling. We've got a fall break, winter break, spring break, and summer break. I want to explore with my family and experience adventures together. Then there's the 6-month sabbatical I want to go on when our children are older.

And date nights! Our monthly date nights are expensive between the babysitter, Alamo tickets, and food! And we aren't even fancy food people. These feel like the right things for us to be prioritizing right now. 

When September rolls around, we need to get back on top of using to track our expenses. Our budget reflects all of our current priorities, but we need to make sure we stick to it. Easier said than done!

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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

I Need More Friends

Traveling to my grandparents' 65th wedding anniversary party was a really profound experience on so many different levels. I'll probably write more blog posts reflecting on various aspects of the experience, but for now I want to talk about building more friendships. 

For the anniversary party, my mom and aunt put together an awesome video of excerpts of my grandparents' home movies. It's amazing how powerful video is. I want to be sure to capture as much as I can, since this time with my young family is fleeting. For example, I want to forever be able to hear the way Tate says "Henny" instead of Henry. 

Watching videos of my grandparents' lives revealed what an amazing group of friends they had, despite the fact that they moved several times during their family's early days. They had New Year's Eve parties (with fancy dresses!) and vacations and camping trips with large groups of friends. Their children grew up alongside each other. 

Watching the video really got me thinking about how to build that kind of support network in my life. I asked my grandparents how they did it, and they mentioned things like weekly bowling leagues and card games. 

I think, for me, the trick is just going to be to start doing more. I think our family is in a rut because our weeks are so busy. Matt and I are both introverted, so we recharge by being alone. When the weekend comes, we turn inward and just build a little cocoon with our little family. I think we simply need to get in the habit of inviting people over. 

So two things immediately come to mind:
  1. I need to get our movie nights going. Like this Saturday! I've been dragging my feet because I couldn't pick a movie. Let's just go with Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark. If you are Austin-based and want to join us, just shoot me an e-mail introduction! 
  2. It might be fun to invite other families to a casual restaurant on Friday nights at 5pm. That's what our family is doing anyway, so it might be fun if we could get others to join us. 
I'm excited! 

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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Travel Games for a 4 Year-Old

Henry and I took a quick trip to Florida to attend my grandparents' 65th wedding anniversary. I decided that I wanted to get some travel games for the plane. Here's what we got:

And although it's not a great game for the airplane, I also bought Hungry, Hungry Hippo because I loved playing that game as a child. 

It would be so easy to pacify Henry with a screen. He could literally watch some kind of show or movie for several hours in a nearly-comatose state. But I am so worried about all the things he wouldn't learn if he filled up his time that way. He wouldn't learn how to be a good sport, he wouldn't learn delayed gratification, he wouldn't cultivate patience, he wouldn't develop skills to handle frustration, he wouldn't practice problem-solving. It's hard not to take the easier road, but I'm hoping that it will be worth the investment in the long-run!

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