So I think I'm having my own "Eat, Pray, Love" experience over here. My own self discovery journey of sorts. I've learned that I like to bake when it rains, I really don't care for nail polish, I can survive afterall without the Bachelorette, and an electric blanket and Cadbury chocolate can remedy any bad day. I've also redefined "simple". I used to think it meant easy and convenient. It kind of bothered me because one of the things I wanted to accomplish with this move was to simplify my life, but it sure doesn't seem simple to handwash dishes since I can't start the dishwasher until 11 pm when the night rate starts (this is what happens when your first electric bill comes in at $486. ouch). Cooking dinner each and every night doesn't feel simple compared to the $5 hot and ready Little Caesar's that used to be right around the corner. And baking after school snacks instead of loading them up on cheeze-its and gogurts definately doesn't feel simple. But I'm coming to the realization that simple doesn't mean easy and convenient, instead it means to get back to the basics, eliminate things in your life that clutter it up and stand in the way of your priorities. Sure, our carpool was convenient, I only had to pick the kids up from school every other week. Instead it takes about a half hour to walk to and from school to pick them up each day, but I also am really treasuring that time where I have their undivided attention as they are eager to tell me about their day. It's not convenient, but it keeps my priorities in line. I used to keep my kitchen well stocked with mac and cheese, corn dogs and chicken nuggets to make my life easier when it came time for lunch. Without any of those over processed foods available, I am forced to put thought into their meals and I am finding such a sense of satisfaction knowing I'm filling their tummies with healthy food. It used to be so easy to swipe my credit card and not blink twice when buying groceries. Now I am so much more aware of what I buy and am so much more conscious of not wasting. Dude, that's like $5 worth of lasagna left on your plate, eat up boy. I'm even guilty of washing and reusing ziploc bags. I know, I never thought I'd stoop that low. I used to spend so much time, energy and money to conform to the Gilbert mold. To look like my life stepped straight out of pinterest. Coming to a place with such humble roots where there is zero pressure to dress a certain way or to have your house look like a pottery barn centerfold, is just so liberating. Life may not always be easy, but the simplicity is oh so satisfying. So when my birthday came and it was too cold and gloomy to go do anything, I tried to refrain from turning into a birthday brat and held on to these lovely simple minded thoughts swimming in my head. I had my moments of pouting (I still have a firm belief that kids should not be allowed to fight on mom's birthday and mother's day), but I tried my best to embrace the small things. I appreciated that Jason researched a cute cafe to take me out to lunch too. I appreciated the picture Maddox drew at church with the whole family dreaming of birthday cake. I appreciated that Jayden jumped in to help out with dishes so that I didn't have to. I appreciated that Jason remembered that I had mentioned wanting a jogging stroller and found me a used one for only $25. I appreciated that Kylie picked out a big box of Cadbury mini candybars to assist me on my endeavors to try each and every Cadbury candybar ever made. Instead of my usual birthday shopping spree I really tried to focus on what is important, and you know what, I felt more loved than any new outfit ever could. I did really miss celebrating with all my girlfriends, but I was grateful to have my one and only friend come over that evening for cake and ice-cream (Jayden's is the day after mine and hers is the day after his, so it was a joint party). And not only does my Julie friend come equipped with brownie making skills, but homemade German chocolate cake is also on her resume.
And while we're on the subject of birthdays, Jayden had his. It was a stark contrast from birthdays in the past. No big party, no McDonald's for lunch, no cupcakes for the class, no staying up all night decorating and no huge pile of presents. We kept it simple and I was so proud of Jayden for not ever complaining. He usually has a wish list a mile long, but when we talked with him about how we won't be getting alot of presents since we can't take that much stuff home with us and money is tight right now, he didn't seem to mind. All he wanted was a scooter (that's all the kids ride here). He requested french toast for breakfast and since they don't do birthday lunches or treats at school, I was off the hook. All he wanted to do after school was go to the skate park to try out his scooter (sitting in the freezing cold for an hour watching was my present to him). We had pizza and ice-cream that night and watched a movie on Netflix. I was worried he was going to think that his birthday was lame, but he thought it was the best in the world. The things he loved most were the things that didn't cost a dime...the ramp Maddox made for him at his unofficial preschool carpentry class (seriously the sweetest thing ever!), the letters we wrote to him, having everyone be his servant for the day and especially the long hot bubble bath in the jetted tub that is reserved for special occasions only. Slowly these spoiled kids who once complained about going to Sea World because they didn't want to drive that far, are learning right along side me to appreciate the simple things in life. That right there is the best birthday gift I could ever ask for.