that phrase has many meanings after spending the past 2.5 weeks in iowa getting our original home ready to go on the market and then coming back to alaska after a long trip.
first, our iowa home. it didn’t feel like home at first. after being empty for almost a month and needing a little love, it felt like a house. but once it got spruced up, it reminded me so much of the home zach and i had there for a couple of years before moving north to alaska. also once zach and zelda arrived, zelda was so at home there it was easy to imagine her growing up there. she loved the large space, two stair cases, running through the gardens, using the stepping stones, ringing the new doorbell. having uncle austin there to visit and some help from zach’s parents made it feel like it had been in the past. those feelings and with the house looks so good right now, it was tempting to want to stay.
then there was our short trip to my in-laws. there house is truly something to behold. every time i go there its like a calm oasis even if there’s a lot going on. it was a good couple of days spent there. we threw gma kitty a surprise 60th birthday party. filling the courtyard with friends and family was fun. everyone at such ease in a beautiful space. zelda wasn’t shy at their house either. she quickly found games to play on the stairs, enjoyed the wide open spaces to run and made herself at home.
finally, last night i arrived back in alaska. as the plane flew over the chugach mountains headed for anchorage, i was once again awestruck at the beauty of alaska, our adopted home. stepping inside our house it felt strange. it’s not really been lived in much for a little over a week. and this time we’re missing a key element, zelda. she has stayed behind in iowa to enjoy more family time and tick a few items off her summer bucket list – hear crickets, run around in shorts, run through sprinklers and possibly see fireflies. as i unpack today, cook a little food, let the chickens into the yard, check on my garden, it feels almost like home. summer smells are in the air. i have my beloved old hound dog close by ready for scratches.
i guess what i am trying to say is that the concept of home is really a dynamic thing. we spend a lot of time working on our homes whether in iowa, alaska or even in denver when we visit family there. it’s what we do, but why we do it is to create a space that is comfortable and welcoming to have our family and friends around and regardless of how delightful a space we create, its just not a home until it has the warmth of family.
i read an interview today where a mom whose kids are now in college says she doesn’t regret that her and her husband’s life revolved around the kids while the kids were at home. it was but a blink of an eye in the span of their lives. i’ve fought the idea of completely loosing myself or even my partnership with zach to being zelda’s parent, but i think her point is important. parenthood of kids who need constant attention is such a short season of life and i know for zach and i that we have a solid foundation from before becoming parents that will be there when zelda is grown; it’s the advantage to marrying your best friend. so i’m happy to be home in anchorage and have a couple of weeks to spend with just zach, but home will never be complete any longer without zelda and i finally get my mother in law’s urgency to have her kids home, especially all together, whenever possible. oh parenthood, what a ride!
it’s weird to think that we are nearly finished with the updates to our home. we’ve been at it now for 6 years and during that time our home has undergone a pretty significant transformation, actually several transformations, but i think we’ve settled into a good spot. it’s a nice feeling, not having any large projects on the immediate horizon. sure there are still updates to be done, like new windows and doors and possibly a fireplace, but those are more long term projects and ones that we hopefully won’t do ourselves.the last big project we undertook was the backroom of our home. it’s a weird space, but i think we finally figured it out. we made it a family room, a place for crafts, sewing, music, dancing, games, etc. i was resistant to the family room concept, but it just makes sense. we put down carpet tiles that can be picked back up and washed, we installed our old dining room table that i had updated and moved in a bench seat that provides us some more storage and plenty of seating for music making. our house is certainly colorful and full of do it yourself projects. i feel like it is ours 100% when i walk through the door. i think zelda and zach feel the same way about it. there are little pieces of us imprinted on this house, which is what definitely makes it our home.
we diverted a bit this year from our tradition of getting a big live tree on the day after thanksgiving. like last year, travel kept us away on the day after thanksgiving and when we were finally ready to get a tree this year papa wasn’t feeling well so we improvised. i think like last year the small tree is a great success with zelda at this age. she can see everything on it and its very accessible to her. we used shatter proof ornaments and our favorite keepsakes to decorate the tree. we also hung some real garland at the entrance to the living room for that fresh pine smell.
ornaments from our trip last year to nyc
a memento from our xmas trip last year to new orleans
an ornament surprise i got for zach, which unfortunately is now a bittersweet keepsake
we also put a second tree up in the dining room since we had two from an outdoor decorating kit i bought earlier in the season. they work perfectly. we also made a holiday card holder from a currently unused bike tire and a string of lights. we’ve hung it low so zelda take look at the cards. zelda is excited about christmas and is very curious what is in the packages with her name on them. since she can read her name, we purposely omitted it from the gift bags with her gifts in them so she wouldn’t be too tempted to pull out the tissue paper. we think that she’ll be able to resist the wrapped packages until she has permission to open them, or at least we hope so.
we arrived back to a snowing anchorage this morning after an afternoon and night of travel. we were warmly greeted at home by this wonderful banner papa and the dogs made along with some scones and fresh flowers. zelda is happy to be back with her papa and larry. the former of which she just headed out with to stomp some puddles. it’s good to be home.
zelda’s room got some spring time freshening with a new paint scheme on her wall.
and a growth chart painted on the back of her door, which we promptly marked wit her height. as you can see she was very interested in helping with the marking, not so much with standing still to get measured.
i also practiced my frosting techniques in advance of a test run on a wedding cake next weekend. the bride requested carrot cake and cream cheese frosting, so for this cake, zach made a zucchini cake and i frosted it with cream cheese frosting tinted green. cream cheese frosting doesn’t work quite the same as butter cream so i’m glad i did a practice. i’ve got spring fever, so a little extra green doesn’t hurt, especially with the additional inches of snow we got today.
and of course, we had to taste test it too, but we did that after zelda went to bed. she might get to try some tomorrow since its delicious.