I have decided to find myself a home in the mountains, somewhere high up where one learns to live peacefully in the cold and silence. It’s said that in such a place certain revelations may be discovered. That what the spirit reaches for may be eventually felt, if not exactly understood. Slowly, no doubt. I’m not talking about a vacation.
Of course at the same time I mean to stay exactly where I am.
Are you following me?
–Mary Oliver in A Thousand Mornings
after a wonderful trip to florida with ramona and my mother (three generations of spunky olson women!) followed by a babymoon getaway to texas hill country with jp, it is time to hunker down, settle in, nest, and prepare myself mentally and emotionally for the arrival of little bug. i’m thankful i got to jet away for a little bit before life plants me firmly at home, where i ought to be. and where i want to continue cultivating as a sanctuary of peace, serenity, intention, and calm.
the diapers and burp rags are washed and folded. i’ve gone through all of ramona’s baby clothes, from 0-12 months, laundered and put them away in a new spot for baby #2. my birth kit is stocked and ready to go. i have been taking my vitamins, watching what i eat, drinking tons of water, constantly sipping on red raspberry leave and nettle tonic, and snuggling ramona whenever she will let me. home feels good and right. we are ready to meet this little girl.
time with ramona is precious. it’s important to me her and i keep connecting as much as we can since things will be changing so soon. i make eye contact with her, dance w her, hold her when she needs, take our sweet old time with tucking into bed and nap time, sing her a million songs, and always say yes to one more book. man, she sure is my little lady.
we accept any good vibes and prayers sent our way as we enter into this next stage of family. love to all of you.
this above photo is from when we finally arrived in denver on our way home from florida. ramona, who has been potty trained for the good part of a year, decided to empty her bladder in her plane seat while i was reading her a book. just like that. soaking her pants and dress on the first of our TWO legs home. and of course i didn’t have any extra clothes bc, well, she never has any accidents. never say never, right? luckily, i had one stray diaper, which was intended for our second leg where i was hoping she would take a snooze (she does wear diapers for bed time). i asked her why she did that. “because i do that,” she said matter-of-factly. i couldn’t have put it more succinctly myself, miss minka. the pilot on our second flight offered her a t-shirt from his suitcase (god bless southwest airlines) which she wore for about 10 seconds. she just loved being able to be mostly naked out and about. silly girl. this is one for the books.
we’ve been wearing ramona in our Boba Carrier 4G since she was a wee one. it’s been jp’s go-to since the beginning and since ramona has gotten bigger and wants to be in and out more when i’m wearing her, it’s been the one i’ve gone to more and more as well. it’s also great for carrying her on hikes with us. so i was stoked when Boba offered to send me their BobaAir, a lighter, more compact version of their traditional boba Baby Carrier. this was perfect timing as our air travels to minnesota for thanksgiving would be the perfect time to try it out.
the BobaAir is different from the Boba 4G in that it is all nylon, completely lightweight (the 4G is lightweight too so i don’t know how they managed that!), and folds into itself into a zippered pouch that can easily be stashed in one’s bag or purse. traveling with ramona happens a lot and i’ve never been one to lug a stroller around. so finding a carrier that not only allows me to toss her up on my back so i can have hands free when needed (boarding!) but also is easy to carry along when i’m not using it (we aim to pack light light light) is a big plus.
we loved it. we traveled with just my purse and her little backpack, and when i needed her to stick close i just superman tossed her up on my back and we were off! when we had boarded the plane, i took her down, zipped up the boba, and chucked it in my purse (which still fit nicely under my seat).
i will say the 4G is still better for longer term carries (hikes and such) as it feels like there is more support there for the larger child. but sacrificing that for the ease of a small carrier that didn’t take up all my personal purse space was well worth it on shorter trips around the airport, boarding, and baggage claim.
items of note:
- ramona’s arms in the boba look really weird and are how she likes them. i swear. she sticks them down and wiggles them around and even when we try to adjust them she tucks them in again. other children do better with their hands out of the carrier. that’s ok too!
- forgive the photos. like i said we travel light, which means no big fancy camera was taken and so these were taken on my phone by jp at a time when ramona was going bonkers (um, naptime in an airport is impossible).
- coloradans: isn’t it awesome that boba is a boulder-based company?! support local as much as possible!
- this post is not a sponsored post. boba did offer me a free carrier in exchange for my opinion, which is here and is completely my own.
ramona and i jetted off to minneapolis on the fourth of july (see her holiday-appropriate dress photographed above). we were there to spend some time w my family and celebrate my mother’s birthday (does anyone else have a mother that looks much younger than her age? mine does and i’m hoping those genes are passed on to me. looking good, mama!). we spent the days w my brother, and sister-in-law, and their three amazing kids. though we ventured out to the public mini-pool at wabun park at minnehaha, most of our time was spent in my parents’ home, which is perfectly situated for grandkids. there’s a huge yard w a blacktop perfect for practicing riding a bike and pushing baby cousin (ramona) around in doll-sized buggies. they have a tree where there’s a door that leads to the home of a magical pixie who leaves candies and seashells for the little ones. and a playhouse. and a tetherball pole. and a vintage air plane spring ride. and raspberry bushes in the rear. it’s amazing, really. the adults just get to sit on the screened porch and watch the little ones bike and spin and toddle and run around. life is slow-paced and easy.
and you know what? it took some adjusting to. bc as much as we love our home, we don’t have the space to spend quite as much time in there comfortably so we’re often out and about. and so being w my parents, in their cozy space w their large L-shaped couches that are just always calling my name to sink into and soak in the beautiful day, really was an exercise in letting the day happen. i’m not arguing for big spaces and homes — bc our family living in a small space is as much intentional as it is just a matter of what we have at this moment — but i am arguing that it’s nice to slow down once in a while. ramona and i are a bit more go-go-go than my parents on a day-to-day basis. which is neither better nor worse. it’s what works for her and i. but i certainly appreciate being put into situations that give me reason to pause just a tad more.
(this store is called the foundry and has nothing to do w slowing down while traveling except that it took my breath away while i shopped there and i wanted to give it a shout-out. online shop coming soon. otherwise, if you live in minneapolis, go there now. i spent a small fortune there and will never regret it.)
and then today ramona and i flew to nashville where jp joined us. we’re here to spend some quality time w some of our dear friends and explore this city, which from all we’ve heard only has good things to offer. and this is where i realized this was the post i wanted to write. bc after a stop at barista parlor w our friends for some iced coffee and cappuccinos, tessa and dorian and their cute little guy, august, dropped us off at their house (our home for the week!) and left us so both families could get some quiet time. ramona took a three hour nap, which was much needed after our 4:15 wake-up call. tessa did some work somewhere. dorian napped. jp napped. i napped. i washed dishes. read some of the book i’m reading. and then found myself in a quiet dining room and decided to blog about the wonders of traveling w family. nap time, to us, is sacred. it is not to be messed w if we want a happy child. and so instead of hitting the town and going all out right away, we soaked up our friends’ beautiful, simple, small, cozy home and regrouped. and i imagine our four days here will be a lot like this (w the addition of some splash pads, and good restaurants, and visiting other old friends).
don’t get me wrong. i love those trips to san francisco where it’s just jp and me and we can galavant off for the day and cram a lot in (we’re hoping to do NYC this year too and oh my! the hustle and bustle of that place!). but there’s something extraordinarily lovely about being across the country in a new town and still just taking it slow and experiencing it w locals, and pretending we live and maybe even belong here. i’m not opposed to the touristy thing, but i sure do love the make-yourselves-at-home and settle in feeling as well.
i’ve sinced moved to their front porch and it’s starting to rain lightly and i hope, my dear friends, that you too are soaking in wherever you’re at and enjoying the moment of whatever it is you’re doing. for whatever reason i think these words from someone i follow on instagram is apt for what i’m feeling: be kind. be joyful. be a force of nature.
p.s. these photos are from instagram. do you instagram? follow me here!
p.p.s. congratulations to holly, the winner of the tentiko giveaway!
this week’s contributor is bowen from Bowen Appétit. bowen and i went to high school together and i was thrilled when she reached out to me after she stumbled upon my blog (friend of a friend’s twitter or some such loveliness like that!). bowen caught me up on her going-ons since we last saw each other over ten years ago(!), explaining that she’s taught cooking classes in LA, worked professional sustainability jobs, and over the last year, has started publishing essays, articles, and recipes in various places. her writing is all about food, focusing on homestyle, sustainable cooking, and how important all of that is. currently, her and her hubby are at the end of a 13-month trip around the world on some pretty amazing adventures (you can read their travel blog: a world of gemütlichkeit). in a month or two, they’ll be making their new home in madison, WI. today she writes about how cooking their own food was given them a way to make a home no matter where they are. enjoy!
Ten months ago, my husband and I took a giant leap of faith – we quit our jobs, sold or gave away most of our belongings and packed up the rest, and embarked on 13 months of travel in the United States and around the world. We worked incredibly hard to be able to do this, saving up and discussing it for years before we finally made the decision, and last July we embarked on this incredible, terrifying, and life-altering journey.
So for most of the last year, we’ve lived out of suitcases, backpacks, boxes, and the trunk of our car. We’ve slept in a tent on an icefield in Canada, in a grass hut on the edge of the Amazon Jungle, and an open-air house in the middle of a rice paddy in Indonesia (we’ve also slept on a tile airport floor in Chile, in a bed with wet sheets in Bangkok, and more windowless hostel rooms and uncomfortable overnight buses than I care to remember). We’ve gone kayaking in Halong Bay in Vietnam, hiked up mountains in Peru to see the sun rise, and watched one of our best friends perform a solo at Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. Before we got to where we are right now (Vienna, Austria, where we’re staying for five weeks), we hadn’t slept in the same city for more than six nights consecutively, and even that’s happened only a handful of times. We’ve seen and done and experienced an incredible array of things, and it’s hard to believe there’s only a few months left.
But I do miss having a home. I miss having space to myself, and having a normal daily routine, and choosing from more than four shirts when I get dressed in the morning. Living out of suitcases and backpacks and boxes for over a year isn’t always easy. Arriving in a new city every few days can be isolating and exhausting, and staying in hostels and hotels and homestays and campsites and all the other sorts of places we’ve stayed can leave us feeling untethered and restless. Each day is different than the one before it, and while most have been absolutely amazing, there are definitely days I wish I were home (wherever that might be).
The one thing we’ve found that helps us feel more at home is to cook for ourselves. We cook whenever we can; whenever we have access to a kitchen and can use it without feeling like we’re missing out on important local culinary experiences. Sometimes the process of getting what we need to cook – figuring out what ingredients and tools are available to us – can be stressful, but it’s given us some of our best travel experiences since it usually means we’re interacting with people and going places tourists don’t normally go. We’ve cooked in hostel and hotel kitchens, at campsites, at friends’ houses, and wherever else we can (on our road trip across Canada last fall we definitely cooked on our camping stove out of the trunk of the car in motel parking lots, at least a few times). Most of the time the meals are far more simple than things we’d cook at home, but sitting down to a meal we’ve prepared for ourselves – even in the most disappointing of hostels, the most barren of campsites, and the most understocked little rental apartment kitchens – takes us away from the constant sensory overload of restaurants, cafes, and street stands and helps time slow down a bit. We’re finally able to focus on ourselves and on each other and to have the sort of normal, everyday mealtime conversations like we used to in our actual home. It makes us feel like we are home, even if we’re in a place for just one night. I love cooking for my husband and he loves cooking for me, and in a life where we’re not always able to do things for each other the way we used to, preparing food together has become an important way for us to connect.
A big reason we decided to take this year of travel was to figure out more about what sort of home we wanted. We hadn’t been particularly happy living where we were before, and we often talked about why that was so that we could pick somewhere better for the next time. We talked about having friends nearby, green places to go hiking, good grocery stores and farmers’ markets. We talked about not having to drive everywhere and about building a good community of folks around us for when we decide to have kids. We talked about bike paths and weather and cost of living and open-mindedness and all kinds of other things that would make living in a place enjoyable, meaningful, and easy. Then we went around the world to experience all kinds of different neighborhoods, communities, and landscapes and to see how we might spend our time when we didn’t have work and other daily life to deal with, and we’ve learned a lot about ourselves and what we want our life and our home to look like.
We’ve learned, for instance, that while that other stuff is definitely nice and we’ll certainly enjoy having it at our new home, what we love most is sitting at a table with each other and our loved ones, eating something we’ve prepared. It’s the center of our home, wherever we are.
thank you so much, bowen! what an adventure you’ve been on and i wish you the best of luck as you venture into settling down and doing some homesteading. safe travels!
if you are interested in contributing to A Denver Home Companion, please submit original writing (or ideas!) to emily [at] adenverhomecompanion [dot] com. though i may not be able to publish everything, i certainly consider all of them.
i’m very glad the weather is starting to stay on the warmer side in denver. it’s been chilly! and looking at these photos makes me miss the warm sun and the cool water of holmes beach. oh, and having nothing to do all day except play w our cute babies, drink mexican beer, and read library books. that was awesome too.