the best days in this life

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Alyssa Hollis Photography

Alyssa Hollis Photography

Alyssa Hollis Photography

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Alyssa Hollis Photography

Alyssa Hollis Photography

Alyssa Hollis Photography

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Alyssa Hollis Photography

Alyssa Hollis Photography

Alyssa Hollis Photography

Alyssa Hollis Photography

Alyssa Hollis Photography

Sundays.

I’m positive I’ve never been so content and at peace with my life.  Every single battle I’ve ever fought has brought me to this moment where everything I’ve ever wanted is right in front of me.  I spend my days doing exactly what I want to be doing.  While my love for Australia will always be in my heart, I’m happy in Atlanta.  We could not have moved to a more perfect neighborhood…my little slice of Stepford.  Days are spent with going from our house to the neighbor’s to play, for tea, to chat.  Everyone waves.  On weekends people are outside in the yard chatting over a beer.  Our street is brand new, we’re our own neighborhood within a neighborhood.

I’ve not once heard my husband say he didn’t want to go to work.  Most days he comes home raving about the new staff – the possibilities, the upswing of the studio.  It’s still a bit surreal to think that in all of our years, miles traveled, and spur of the moment decisions, that we’d end up literally in the exact spot where “we” started.  The first time we met, our first ever dance together – on the very same dance floor we are now using to pursue yet another long-awaited dream.  And doing so with people that we truly enjoy and respect.  It’s more than luck really.  It’s a privilege.

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We’re emerging from the new baby phase.  Violet is a very independent, curious, focused baby.  Content to potter around on her own, and explore her world.  2 teeth, walking since 10 months, a few words here and there, and in love with her Daddy.  Tanami will start soccer whenever the fields finally dry out (we should be half way through the season by now).  She’s registered for pre-k at the YMCA come August.  We’re still on the fence of public vs. home school.  We’re going to test the waters and re-evaluate.  I figure it will give me some one on one time to focus on teaching Violet a bit, and then when Tanami is ready for Kinder we can always start homeschooling then if we want.

I’ve really been taking “me” time more seriously.  I logged quite a few hours expanding my knowledge of my camera and lightroom.  Being able to finally shoot in manual with a true understanding of the camera (ok, a big chunk, but I still have plenty to learn)- it was a long time coming.  I did a clean eating challenge that really did a good number on my body and spirit.  And while life still throws it’s curve balls – it’s just easier to still make it to base rather than always striking out.

You know how everyone always tells you as a child – these are the best days of your life.  And then you are in high school, and you are reminded again – these are the best days of your life.  You graduate, you move out, you go to college – the same story.  But these….THESE are the best days of MY life.  Everyday.  This is what I fought for, this is what we worked towards, this is my “someday”.  Every night.  Every morning.  Every toddler tantrum.  Every marital disagreement.  Every unexpected expense.  Every laugh, hug, cuddle, snuggle, “I love you”.  I’m grateful for every. single. moment.

I want to remember

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I want to remember the way they throw themselves into me…recklessly and completely trusting.  They stick there like velcro – when they need love, when their feelings need mending, when they are overjoyed at their accomplishments.  The way they sink into my arms like they are handing it all over to me.  The weight of their heads on my chest…the way they cuddle into my being.

I want to remember the way my time is valued.  My presence isn’t wanted, it is needed.  At the end of each week, I don’t collect a paycheck for my time investment.  I collect moments.  I feed on their accomplishments – each thing I’ve taught them to do.  Being with them is the busiest I’ve ever been in my life.  I have a full, content heart.

I want to remember the magnitude of anticipation.  The way their eyes shine, and hands draw up to their mouths.  The excitement is overwhelmingly contagious.

I want to remember these moments while magic is real.  Santa and the tooth fairy exist.  Fairies live in the backyard.  Everyone is a princess when they put on the dress.  Super heroes come to life when Daddy flies them around in his arms.  Kisses mend every boo-boo.

I want to remember their love for each other.  The way that the youngest belly laughs only for her Sister.  The way they communicate in their own language.  The way the oldest can’t stand to be awake 5 minutes without her baby Sister.

I want to remember this time when the only wrong I do is taking something away, or sending someone to time-out.

I want to remember this time before the world leaves it’s scars on their innocent hearts.  The time before best friends are left behind.  Before the boys promise them the world and then leave them standing in the rain.  Before backstabbing and ridicule.  Before the magazines, television shows, and celebrities leave them feeling less than worthy.

I want to remember all of the scary, frustrating, draining, exhausting moments.  The ones that when they are over you just want to hold them – to apologize, to savor, to appreciate, to be grateful.  The way that I had to grab moments for myself whenever I could – and almost never got to go to the restroom alone.  The moments when I wasn’t sure I had it in me – but we made it through.

I want to remember how I got to be there for all of their “firsts”.  I got to write the beginning chapters in two little girls’ lives.  I want to remember how incredibly lucky I was – and how grateful I am that I was able to give them this loving foundation to start their lives.

I want to remember when my hopes for my girls was that they would grow up to find contentment in the simple things.  That their passports would be full, even if their wallets weren’t.  That they would find love and let it take them on a journey.  That they would be strong in body, but more importantly, in mind.  That they would stand behind and never cower from their opinions, their beliefs, the very fibers that make them who they are.  That they would surround themselves with people who lift them up.  That they know that no matter who turns their back on them, I will walk beside them down their paths.  Always.

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I left this space bare for a while as we let dust settle on our newest chapter.  It’s really turning out to be quite a beautiful ride. I love having two beautiful girls.  I love the mornings that come too soon…when my oldest peeks over our bed to see if “her” baby is awake.  She crawls into the bed with all her lively loudness and cuddles in close – demanding breakfast immediately.  Violet shares morning smiles and coos with us (though I think a majority of these are directed at the ceiling fan, I claim them anyway).  Our mornings are very slow and relaxed…this is our family time before Mat goes to the studio.  Sometimes I pause mid-mascara application listening to my girls giggling up a storm in the next room.  We can’t seem to make it anywhere on time if it happens before 11am. I spend my days homeschooling Tanami.  I never  saw myself going that route, but I love it.  I positively enjoy teaching my child new things – more specifically things I know other children her age are not learning.  We learn with her  interests…sometimes it goes on for weeks, sometimes it’s just a day or two.  Violet is along for the ride.  She gets to get dirty…use her feet and hands to explore everything around her.  She lights up when she finds something interesting, which is most of the time. At night I nurse my smallest  little to sleep…her finger wrapped around a pink giraffe named “Hippo”.  Tanami puts up a fight until I lay down to cuddle with her.  I try to be aware that it won’t be much longer before she doesn’t ask me to cuddle anymore.  One day I’m going to wake up to an empty bed with no one to give me “ugga muggas” (Eskimo kisses).  There will be no giggles and laughter….no one jumping on the couch.  Someday no little voices will say “mommy play with me….”.  Not a day passes that I am not deeply grateful for a husband that works hard to support  his family so I can be the one to keep our home and raise our girls.  I was going to say we are really lucky for him to be able to do that while following his dreams….and perhaps there is a little bit of luck in there also, but we have worked really hard to get where we are. Autumn is upon us.  Family photos have been taken, and Halloween costumes are in the works.  Pumpkin patches and Apple orchards are on the horizon.  I’ve made bone broth and elderberry syrup to fight and prevent illness this season.  Our neighborhood is the storybook Halloween spot.  In the evenings we go for walks crunching leaves and scoping out the scariest houses.  Our neighbors said Halloween here is amazing…people even sit around fire pits in driveways roasting marshmallows th trick or treaters.  I love love love Halloween. We are healthy, happy, strong, and smitten with this adventurous little life of ours.  I don’t know what the future holds, but for at least a year of our lives we were winning.

Welcome to the adult’s table

I’m 30 years old today. When did that happen? But more importantly, when did my life do a complete 180 from constantly having to fight one up hill battle after another to finally giving me some grace? The beginning of the year…yes, that seems to have been the turning point.

We still have another half of the year to go, but this one has already been one of the best years to date. Am I distressed that the dirty thirty is upon me? Not a chance. In these 30 years I have lived a crazy beautiful life. I survived childhood – a miracle in itself. I graduated cum laude with a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Interior Design from a school that tired it’s hardest to break me. I met an Australian ballroom dancer and married him on a whim…(6 yrs ago this month). I lived in a handful of States and two different countries. I’ve stood by hospital beds, caskets, and grave sites. I’ve had the same best friend for half of my life. I grew two beings beneath my heart and taught my mind how to ignore the pain of labor. I’m debt-free and (I can’t believe I’m going to type these words) financially secure. We are about to become business partners in the studio we met in. Within the next few days we will be breaking ground on our brand new home we are due to close on Oct 31st (my favorite holiday). I spend my days teaching my littles, building new friendships, exploring our new area, and filling our bellies with wholesome food. There is not a second that I am not grateful for the life I am living, the people who helped get us here, and the courage to follow dreams.

I have accomplished more by 30 than I ever dreamed I would – I only hope the next 30 years are filled with the same vigor, dream chasing, good fortune, and love as the first.

home is where they are

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We’ll be leaving our home, if all goes as planned, almost 2 years exactly to the day we moved in.  What a beautiful life we’ve lived inside the walls of our very first home.  And while we’ve said all along how we would love to just scoop this home up and take it to Atlanta with us, we’ve realized we are slowly outgrowing it.  It took only one week from the day it hit the market until we were under contract – and not surprisingly so because it’s a perfect home.  I’ve been day dreaming about putting together a little welcome basket with a hand written note…introducing them to the neighbors, telling them to keep an eye out for the morning deer, and begging that they spare the lives of the groundhog family in the back yard.  In true Kroezen fashion, we have no clue where we will be living in 16 days.

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of exhaustion, frustration, and bliss.  We’ve had our share of costly mishaps from nails in the tire to another alternator failing (what is going on with that?).  And a whole other list of woes that in the grand scheme of things just doesn’t seem all that bad.  And while I do still go to bed happy no matter what the day brings, I’m ready for things to settle down.  The girls are feeling the effects of stress in the house.  Tanami has developed a small tic with her neck and a shoulder shrug.  We noticed it first right after Violet was born, and since then it’s prominent more so during stressful periods – which is often with how crazy life has been the last 4 months.  I noticed I expected so much out of her from the moment Violet was born….but she’s only (newly) 3 years old – sometimes Mat has to remind me of that.  She’s only THREE.  With all of these things happening lately, she hears so much “No”, “not now”, “in a minute”, etc.  Now that there is a bit of a lull between crazy times, I’m going to really practice the art of saying YES.   I’m really going to focus on saying yes to her requests unless there is a real reason to say no.  “No” just seems to be a knee-jerk response sometimes….and why?  Why can’t she paint?  Why can’t I lie down with her until she falls asleep?  Do I really need to take care of business while she is awake?  Parenting is such a constant balancing act – and my attention has too often been on the wrong plate.  It’s time to re-prioritze.

 

someday it will all be worth it

We’ve all said it for one reason or another.  Sometimes we say it just to make ourselves feel better….we don’t really know whether or not we will ever actually make it to someday.  I’ve learned that I will ALWAYS make it to someday.

With the student loan off our shoulders we were able to focus on the dream that has been on the back burner for a while – owning a dance studio.  We’ve been talking about it for years.  Many a car ride has been spent just talking about the things we would or wouldn’t do when it came to a studio.  What we wanted it to look like.  Where we wanted it to be.  We’d look for studios for sale….we’d talk about how important it is to respect the instructors who work with you, and ways to make them more successful – how we would never want to manage by instilling fear like studios we’ve been a part of in the past.  Finally the time had come to get serious about our plans.  We threw around a lot of different ideas from moving to Colorado and starting from scratch, to staying in my grandparent’s old home and starting a studio in Katy.  When we called to ask a dear friend for advice, she brought up the idea of partnering in her studio.

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Interestingly, a week before this phone call, I had given Mat a key chain for his birthday.  I’d made it by hand, and it had the coordinates to the dance studio we met in on it.  It’s this studio, the same studio we met for the very first time with a, “May I have this dance?” that is going to ultimately become ours someday.  It all went very, very quickly.  The house went on the market on Monday, and we’ve already had 7 showings with 2 more scheduled tomorrow.  We’ll be relocating to Atlanta as soon as the house sells….and within the year we will be buying into the business as a partner with the same woman responsible for getting Mat over to the States to begin with.  The studio is gorgeous, the area is hip, and our partner is someone we trust and have a long standing relationship with.  Mat will go in as a manager and then transition into ownership.  It will give us time to adjust, learn the ropes, and make sure this is the right decision before risking anything.  I don’t really know that things could have possibly happened in a better way.

There were so many times when one of us would struggle with the way we were having to live in order to achieve our goal of paying off the student loan.  We would have to remind ourselves over and over that someday, it would all be worth it.  We never really imagined we’d be moving on to achieving our next goal quite so quickly.  It’s left me wondering…I have a husband, a home, 2 children, and soon a business…no debt but a mortgage (we will not be getting ourselves into any debt in purchasing this business)…what kind of dream can follow up paying off a massive student loan and becoming a business owner?!  For once I think it will be okay to just be happy with where we are in life and sit back and just LIVE for a while.  Just take it in and be grateful that for the first time in ages I will want for nothing.