Full House Isn’t Just A TV Show

For anyone who reads this blog – and let’s be honest, I don’t post often enough for many people to find their way here, and so it’s mostly my family and maybe a few friends – you may or may not know that my husband and I decided to move in with my parents for a time while we save up for a downpayment and deal with some pretty significant school debt (Ah, the joys of being a Millennial).

We also have a baby.

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Fox with his fox onesie and fox stuffed animal. I’ll exploit his name until he tells me to stop…

And my younger brother also lives at home.

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And my parents just got an adorable Sheltie puppy they’re calling Flynn.

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At any given time you’ll see 5 cars in the driveway. It’s a full house.

On several occasions this summer my mom filled up a kiddie pool in the yard and let my 2-year-old niece run around naked while she sat nearby on a lawn chair and looked benevolently on.

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Just call us the Clampetts. Or the Tanners; maybe that’s a little more flattering. Growing up, I loved the show Full House. But, adults living under the same roof looks a little different than in a sitcom. The saccharine life lessons Danny imparts to his eager daughters at the end of every episode – with Uncle Jesse and Joey nodding amiably in the background – just don’t hold up in real life.

On the one hand it’s a little embarrassing to be living with my parents again. On the other hand, we’re so grateful to be able to save up much more quickly than if we were renting an apartment. And, we’re getting a taste of how much of the world lives. Our next-door-neighbors are Russian ex-pats, one of whom stopped my mom one day and asked, “Do you have many generations living here?”

“Yes,” my mom replied.

“I like this. This reminds me of my country.”

But, it’s not so much like this country. Or, maybe that’s just a perception. Perhaps it is happening here more and more; I do know of a few others who have trodden this path. Cumulatively, college graduates carry the burden of a $1.2 trillion dollar debt. Trillion. That’s 6% of the overall national debt, folks. Not a lie. Sometimes I feel like my debt makes up half of that. It might as well be $1.2 trillion for all the teensy dent I’ve made by pounding away at it over the last 5 years – or at least that’s what I think on my not-so-sunny days. With this heavy load weighing on the shoulders of my peers, I imagine many folks find themselves in a similar position. Or maybe not. Either way, it’s the decision we’ve made in order to move forward more quickly.

There’s even a name for this little adventure we’re on: multi-generational living.

Some people probably do it a little better than we do. We fumble along with a chore chart and splitting up weekly meals – but no one is as organized about life in general as my father, who makes and checks off lists for fun. We try, while he succeeds. With 5 adults, a baby, and a 15 week old puppy, it’s more like a frat house (but with more spit up and less alcohol), than a residential dwelling. But it’s good. For a lot of reasons.

Having a baby is a lonely affair. You’re caring for another person – but a person you have a lot of one-sided conversations with. I’m thankful to have company on days when my husband works long and unusual hours (which is a lot). I like having some extra hands if I’m feeling overwhelmed with Fox. I like sitting around a dinner table full of people. As introverted as I am, it’s nice to have people around to keep me grounded.

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We could get to the end of the year and leave shaking the dust off our feet, bitter and resentful (on both sides). But, while I look forward to the day where my little family of 3, instead of 6, has a home of our own, I am thankful for these days. And I am so grateful to have amazingly generous parents who have opened their home to us, and who love on my baby so well. I hope I look back on this year as being sweet and full of life.

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Hip Hip Hooray for my one-of-a-kind-out-of-this-world parents!

All Good Things

A few months ago I got married to the best man I’ve ever known. At a barn in Wisconsin. It was a beautiful day in October. The only beautiful day in October, actually. It was a blessed occasion – not the least of which was because of all the help and encouragement I had received in preparation.
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Leading up to the wedding, I spent many late nights making things by hand – cutting, folding, and pasting library card pockets to be included in the invitation, measuring and cutting burlap for the table runners, rolling and dipping wool into scalding hot water and then numbing cold water to make “billy balls” for flowers, sewing clutches for all my bridesmaids (even though I’d never used a sewing machine without the supervision of my grandmother, and even that was nearly twenty years ago). The list goes on. Sometimes I needed help – and my friends were more than willing, even though they often made this disclaimer: “I’m not very creative.”

clutches for my bridesmaids

clutches for my bridesmaids

Most of those projects deserve a post of their own, so I will leave the details until a later time. Needless to say, though, that the whole process prompted me to think a lot about what it means to be creative. And the question:

What is Creativity?

In my mind creativity is not limited to the artistic pursuits that we often associate it with – the visual: painting, drawing, photography, graphic design. Those things are certainly creative, but they are not the whole measure of artistry. Could not a perfectly baked bundt cake, an original poem, or even a thoughtful gift be creative?  I would argue then, that most of us are creative in one way or another. Perhaps we can’t cook to save our life, but we can stand up in front of a crowd and deliver a witty line that gets people laughing. Perhaps our paintings are abysmal, but we can look at a messy room and see just how it should be organized (can’t that be a creative process?!).

We all have been given gifts. And we all have things we do that bring us joy – even better if they bring those around us joy. I love to make good food.  Although I often try my hand at other things (with varying success and commitment), I always get drawn back to the kitchen. And I experience even more pleasure when I make something to share with others. We need to get in touch with those gifts we’ve been given; and more importantly use them. It’s then that we become fuller versions of ourselves and a blessing to others.

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a pot roast I made for an evening with friends – taken with my friend’s camera phone

So that’s it. Creativity is bigger than we give it credit for. It’s whatever gift we bring to the world. And it’s at the heart of all good things. Of course, all I really know is my own experience. So much of the time my life feels mundane – I can get stuck. But here’s to my new adventure: that of finding All Good Things in my life.