Personal

Missing the Motherland

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Today is Syttende Mai, or Seventeenth of May, which is Norway's independence day. I always get extra homesick in the summer, because that's when we usually visit, but my dad went earlier than usual this year. So between his taunting texts and photos and Syttende Mai happening, I'm especially missing it and thought I'd share a few photos from the last trip in 2015 that I never took the time to sort through. Going through them has definitely helped me miss it just a bit less. :)

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These are from one particularly magical evening, close to midsummer. We had gone to my uncle's summer cabin on the island of Halsnøy. It's only accessible by ferry, and the cabin is at the top of a hill on the tiny island that you have to park halfway up and walk the rest of the way. But the views...oh my goodness are they ever worth it.

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The cabin is designed for the views, of course, and all around has that perfect, effortless, messy-planned garden that I'm always so jealous of. It also plays to the kids and grandkids - not one but two rope swings! I don't know if I've ever been so relaxed, sitting out there with a cold drink and everyone enjoying each other's company, refusing to go inside except to grab a sweater against the evening chill (or to check soccer scores).

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Bear in mind these were all taken after 6pm - they call it the Land of the Midnight Sun for good reason! #thosesummernights

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And then my uncle pulled out one of these floating lights from a trip to Thailand. Perfect cap to the evening!

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With a sun that never *quite* sets at that time of year, the extended twilight is a photographer's dream. The only trouble is staying up that late when you've been sightseeing and traveling!

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What about you guys? Do you get homesick at certain times of the year?

xoxo

Miss Livvy

As previously mentioned, we were expecting a baby girl in February. Well, Miss Livvy (Olivia) made her arrival nearly three weeks early, on January 25th. Labor went about as well as it could have, with just a few minor issues, and our girl came into this world a petite 5 pounds 7 ounces. She has since made up for it!

At just over three months, she is a smiley, energetic baby who is interested in everything mama and daddy do, and we are so incredibly in love. It's amazing the shift that happens in your psyche when you bring a child into this world. You really will do anything for them, and you're equally fascinated and exhausted by every little thing they do.

We're still adjusting to the new normal around here (do you ever really stop?), but really so happy with this new chapter in our lives. Here's a few highlights from the little one's life so far:

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We have been absolutely blown away by the love and support for this child and our little family, both prior to and since her birth. We are so very lucky and appreciative of the amazing people we have in our lives!

xoxo

Coming at You, 2018

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The second half of 2017 really flew by, but I have a good reason - we're expecting a baby girl in mid February! 

If we're friends on social media I'm sure you saw our announcement photo above - Joel and I are big fans of kettlebells, so when the idea for this shot occurred to me I knew it was perfect. And how cute is that tiny 10 lb bell?

I'm just so thankful everything is progressing normally and with nothing but the usual symptoms (except for my chronic migraines, which came roaring back after the first trimester, but with all these crazy hormones I probably should have expected it). I think I've got about the most standard pregnancy going on, knock on wood! Especially since we went through a miscarriage almost exactly a year ago, which was devastating at the time but has really made it so darn easy to be grateful for everything.

My mom got the photo below when my parents visited at the beginning of December (I was about 30 weeks along), and I feel like it perfectly sums up where I'm at right now. An egg on legs. :)

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2017 was a banner year for us, we did so much and have come so far since our move to Reno a little more than 2 years ago, and I know 2018 has even more in store! Besides adding to our family, we plan on buying a home, taking a real vacation and I'll be leaving my job and working from home part time. So many changes, so much opportunity! We're coming at you, 2018!

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Hope this year is the best year yet for all of you too! Any exciting plans? I think I'm going to go take a nap.

One Year

Today is the one year anniversary of our move to Reno. It's been a banner year for Joel and I, what with finding great jobs and a new apartment, making new friends and culminating in getting married October 1st. Now we're settling into married life, owning a home is within reach and we're accomplishing everything we set out to do by uprooting our lives. All at once it's exhilarating, gratifying and utterly terrifying to think about. But we really love it here and couldn't be more thrilled that our great gamble paid off! (Also, we couldn't have done it without the connectivity of Google Duo, social media and frequent phone calls. And when I say "we", I mostly mean myself, my parents and my BFF.)

On this one year anniversary, I thought I'd share something I wrote late last summer after we had decided to move, in the hopes that it might help anyone else standing at a similar crossroad.


August 13, 2015

It all started because something had to change. He knew it, I knew it, we just weren’t sure what that meant yet.

It had led to some pretty tough and scary conversations. Luck just never seemed to be on our side, except for the way we had reconnected. We knew that more than anything we wanted to get married and start a family; we had these dreams that weren’t out of the ordinary, but we were so insanely frustrated trying to figure out how we could achieve them financially. Especially given how everyone around us seemed to be doing just that (although we knew hardly anyone our age who had been able to buy a home).

Eventually I had to admit, to myself and (even harder) out loud to him, that at 31.75 years old I didn’t have much to show for myself either. A decent job as an executive assistant and a good education, yes, but I was living paycheck-to-paycheck, with diddly in savings (thanks to stupid decisions when I was in my 20s - and let's be honest, that were still happening), and I was still in debt to my university and my dentist. I was barely covering $800 a month in rent to share a tiny duplex. My car was 12 years old and really starting to show her age. After debt, car insurance, utilities, my 401(k), groceries, basic life supplies, a meal out and maybe a new item of clothing, there wasn’t much left over each month.

Middle age felt very close at hand and I had all but given up on ever owning a home in a decent neighborhood, but maybe together we could afford kids someday. Certainly not a home and kids at the same time. But when would that be? After we both busted our asses paying for and finding the energy to go back to school for something to maybe have better jobs five years from now?

I finally realized all these circumstances meant living a life on hold for at least several more years, hoping that housing in Orange County would get cheaper (yeah, right) or I’d find a better paying job, which would require a commute I would hate, but maybe I’d eventually come to terms with that. But my chosen profession maxes out at around $70k, with most making much less than that. And his income is based on lead generation, so it fluctuates and is taking time for him to build.

So essentially we’d keep on paddling in place, never reaching the shore. And I realized that was the true source of my anger and tears and weight gain. I was completely and utterly depressed about the future. Day to day I would be fine, my normal self, and then I’d allow myself to really think about everything and wind up curled in a ball in bed at 7pm.

No. No one was going to just up and hand us the life we wanted. We weren’t going to hit the lotto, and while our parents were as helpful and supportive as possible, we certainly didn’t want to be a drain on them. It’s amazing how much people know this (including us, obvi), and yet keep going in their lives as if it isn’t true. As much as I was holding on for dear life to my core desire of living near my parents for the rest of my days, so that my kids would know their amazing grandparents better than I ever had the chance to, something had to give. I was never going to have both at once. Living in Southern California and achieving our goals had become a pipe dream for us.

So we revisited what he had mentioned a few times since we met, something I had been swearing up and down I would never do: moving out of state. Away from nearly all our loved ones. It was unimaginable. It was unthinkable. But the immovable object remained, and I was thinking about it every spare moment of the day for weeks.

At the time, I came across an unattributed quote that struck home in a big way: Let go of how things should be. I really had to dig deep and reevaluate what was most important to me. Turns out it’s family - my future family, and providing the quality of life I think we’ll deserve. I don’t want to be 40 and finally able to do that. I don’t want to wait to have children with this wonderfully supportive man who is undoubtedly my person and the best thing that ever happened to me. Never mind the extra worry on a woman, however much we try to ignore it, at the thought of bearing children past a certain age. Let’s face it - aging can only be ignored if you have the finances to do so.

So, we revisited that crazy idea. And then we started doing our research to see if it would even be a possibility. We really liked the Reno area, and we had a foothold there - a guest room in his dad and stepmom’s house - that would help us transition. And then it hit me like a ton of bricks: it would be almost exactly what my parents did, nearly 30 years ago, when they left Norway and moved to Southern California. Before Skype, before cell phones, before all of it. If they could do it, why couldn’t we? And they did it with two kids under the age of five.

For crying out loud, we told ourselves, people do this every day. We would be living the age-old immigrant story of uprooting in the hope of a better future for us and for our family. What this country was founded on. The more I thought about it, the more I remembered just how many of our friends had come to the same conclusion in the last ten years. We’ve been having going-away get-togethers for years, with friends moving to Portland, Denver, Seattle, Nashville, Dallas, New York...

And so, after some very long conversations about options and finances and goals and dreams, we looked into each others’ eyes and realized that yes, it was possible, and yes, we had to at least try. If we jumped and failed, at least we had given that life a chance.

The initial conversation involved lots of tears and tissues and reassuring hugs, but we came out the other side feeling closer and more in love than ever before. There was no one else I could imagine trusting enough to do this with. It would really be us against the world, and we might fail miserably, but we had to try to take control of our own lives.

And you know what? The next day, I felt better than I had in at least six months. Lighter, happier, reassured. Finally, finally, I might be able to have the life I’d always wanted. With exactly the kind of man I need. A simple life raising a family together. It just required doing the scariest and craziest thing I could possibly think of. But plenty of our friends had done the same thing and succeeded, right? And in the end, something had to change. I just had to hitch up my big girl panties, take his hand and jump.


So here's to all the dreamers, the gamblers and those willing to take control and be proactive instead of reactive with their lives!

xoxo

{Stunning photo from our perfect wedding day by the lovely and talented Nancy Orozco - more coming soon!}

Ch-Ch-Changes

Just a few major life changes going on for me, so I thought I'd better explain what's going on...

First things first, my main man proposed! At my birthday dinner! And had my whole family there to cheer us on! :)

I'm now wearing my grandmother's engagement ring that my mother also wore for years, and it's perfect. We've known for quite some time that we want to spend the rest of our lives together, and we've been talking about it regularly, but I didn't expect to feel so different. It's an amazing time.

In that vein, we're also following through with something else we've been talking about for a while now - moving to Reno!

While we love living close to many of our loved ones here in beautiful Southern California, the cost of living is crazy high compared to most of the country. So we're taking a chance while we still can and moving up to Reno, where the income tax is 0%, they actually get seasons and it's so much less crowded.

I'm sure you're thinking what most everyone we've told said - "But why Reno??" And two years ago, I probably would have said the same. But then we started going up there to visit his dad and stepmom each year at Thanksgiving, and I kind of love it. Reno has a lot of charm, it's not so paved over like SoCal is, not to mention that it's only 1.5 hours from one of my favorite places on earth - Lake Tahoe. Plus it's at 4,000 feet, just high enough to get a dusting of snow in the winter and it's not too crazy hot in the summer.

Once I started doing my research into the job market, cost of living, available housing, etc., it was apparent that this was a great way to be able to start a family and buy a home in a reasonable amount of time.

So! In a little more than two weeks all our things will be packed away and Joel and I will be road tripping our way up to Reno. It's been a crazy process, and we're still getting everything figured out, but we're still so excited and ready for a change. We'll still be visiting regularly, starting with Christmas, so if you're interested in photos know that I'll still be around!

xoxo