Quiet Spaces | A Year in Review

It’s been over a year since I posted. 13 months.

I couldn’t tell you the all of what has happened in the last 13 months, but I can make a vague attempt.

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The 2018 holidays came and went. My father was sick and my second oldest sister, M, came to visit. Time moved faster than I could keep up with. I started a new job a week into a new school year.

January 2019 (1)

Hat Pattern (crochet)| Similar coat | Coveralls | Boots

The Polar Vortex swept through the part of Michigan I live in and the second week of my new job was spent snow blowing my parents’ driveway after clearing their roof. The lowest this area reach was a windchill of -20. The combo of a new job and two classes meant that I spent a lot of January exhausted and sleeping a lot.

I did find that being outside – even though it was below freezing! – did make the winter more bearable. And I mentally committed to being outside as much as possible, regardless of the weather.

February 2019

In addition to committing to being outside more, D and I also committed to spend more time together laughing. With both of us working full time, me in school part time and him working part time, our time together often turns into what feels like managing business – schedules and bills and list of tasks. While we’re together because we handle those together well, we’re also together because we really like each other. Once a month we spend more than the typically dinner-date-night might cost and ride Go Karts or take a drive up north – something a little different than the usual.march-2019-1.png

Similar Faux Deer Fur Blanket |Light Blue Blanket | Similar Cream Colored Blanket| Tennis Shoes  | Favorite Socks

In March, the snow lifted and the weather warmed up enough to be able to be outside more. I began to realize that I wasn’t sleeping well and focused my energy on making my bedroom as comfortable as possible. I bought some faux fur on sale at JoAnn Fabrics and sewed it around a $4 pillow I got a Walmart. It’s amazing how quick and easy this was – and much cheaper than it would have cost to buy it.

I also decided – for the first time ever – to purchase tennis shoes / sneakers that were actually specific to my feet, rather than $20 grocery store ones. Y’all. I’m never going back again. These are the most amazing shoes ever.

April 2019 (1)

The shoes took me through the trails by my apartment, and then the trails that lead to my parents house a few miles away, down bike trails, to new cities. At the end of the school year I told D I wanted to spend the summer getting my money’s worth out of the shoes, so we started the process of seeing all the lighthouses in Michigan. By the end of summer, we had only seen six, but everything else we saw made it completely worth it.

May 2019

Spice Rack | Pitcher| Earring Holder | Best Price Earring Pack

I tried to spend the summer both playing as much as possible and organizing as much as possible before the school year came again. My best friend and her kids spent a good amount of the summer exploring woods and having picnics – basically heaven.

I got this spice rack so that I could move the spices off the bakers rack in the pantry to create more space. Holy smokes has it made a difference! I’ve also noticed that I’m more likely to throw away expired spices because I actually look at what I have, rather than just letting things I don’t use often get pushed to the back and buried.

I’ve also become completely hooked on tassel earrings so I bought this little earring rack and it quickly helped clear off my end table. Both this earring rack and the spice rack were under $15 and super quick ways to clear away clutter.

June 2019

One of the hardest parts of being not in Florida is being way from the Ocean. D’s way of managing that is to put me near water as often as possible. This summer, we spent a lot of time in his hometown, about an hour away from where we live. It’s a small lake community surrounded by farms and where he actually lived backed up to a national park. We went there to go swimming, hiking, mudding and picnicking. We’ve been talking about going camping there this summer – I’m totally open to any recommendations for tents! We’d love to get one this winter, rather than waiting until the summertime.

July 2019

We followed in the same vein all summer and learned how to kayak. Folks, let me tell you if you need to work through communication issues in your relationship, just get in a double kayak with your partner. I think D and I learned more in a four-hour ride than we have in four years of being together. It was amazing. We took six trips this summer, but the first was the most memorable.

D got super into bike riding this summer too. I like to ride bikes, but I would rather walk / run. So, he spent a lot of time riding and took me with him only for particularly spectacular trips. The trail pictured above isn’t far from our apartment.

August 2019 (1)

Both D and I have birthdays in August and so we decided that we would take a trip up north. In Michigan, “up north” refers to anywhere that’s more than an hour and a half from the big city of Grand Rapids. We stayed at a delightful place called Caberfe and our only real goal was to get to Traverse City. We hiked around the Pine River, kayaked the Crystal River, climbed Sleeping Bear Dunes and crossed the Mackinac Bridge. It was an amazing three days, packed full of more adventure than either of could have anticipated and I am itching for this summers’ trip!

September 2019 (1)

The week school started, my sister, M, came to visit, which overlapped with my college best friend coming to visit. I worked while they were both here, but managed to get out on the river with both of them more than once. It was a beautiful end to the summer but playtime overlapping with school was much was a major challenge. Just before my sister arrived, my mother broke her shoulder. It was a jumble of things and I’m only just now feeling like I’ve caught up. I think much of the jumbled feeling had to do with resisting winter.

Last year, I did a better job of embracing it. This year, I still don’t believe it’s happening to me because I just want to be on the river.

October 2019 (1)

I got sick in October – just your standard cold that knocks you on your ass for a week and lingers for another two. Ugh. So I spent a lot of it in bed, with Javier and my homework. At the start of the school year, D and I planned to take a Friday off at the mid-point of each semester. We rented a car and just drove up to Glen Arbor, MI for lunch. We ate at the Western Avenue Grill, in front of a fireplace. We stopped in a town called Arcadia just for the view. It was a gloomy Friday, but neither of us cared. It was nice to get a little time together where my head wasn’t wrapped up in school.

November 2019 (1)

There were many amazing November things but none really hold a candle to registering for graduation. That’s right folks, assuming all goes well when I submit my problem statement for review this Sunday – and barring any emergencies – I will be graduating April 25, 2020.

December 2019

I came down with the flu after Thanksgiving and missed a week of work and added in a hospital visit (for fluids) the first week of December. While I was sick, my father started to get confused. My mother thought he was having a stroke, so she took him in. It ended up being that he had major blockage in his Cortaid artery, which has since been cleared. It was scary and the surgery was two Mondays before Christmas. The holiday was a little off and we actually still have Christmas presents to give out and the tree is still up. All things in time.

It’s good to review the year. I haven’t had as many spaces for reflection as I might have hoped.

A friend of mine recommended creating an “After Graduation List,” to keep me going through my final project. On that list is developing this blog into something meaningful and helpful. So, I’ll be back again in a month, and another month and then April. And then after that, I’ll be back with much greater frequency.

A. Rose (1)

& Cookies

I’ve been an avid blog reader for the last six years and my favorite posts are always the personal, here’s-my-life-in-the-last-month-rounded-up kinds of things. I was thinking about this, and about my cousins son whose favorite time of the day is Cookie Time, where he, his mom and his grandma have milk and cookies. So I was thinking about the idea of having milk and cookies with people I like, but I stopped being able to drink milk around age 25, so here we are: & cookies.

You can read the rest of the series here, here, here and here


The past two weeks have been hectic, to say the least! With school starting the last week of August, everything in my life shifted a little bit to accommodate for what was new.

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I try to always get myself something at the start of the school year, almost like a pre-reward. It’s silly to do maybe, but I try to remember that, at this stage in life, even just registering for classes is a choice that isn’t always easy to make. I’ve wanted a pair of these earrings for a while, and when Natalie posted a coupon code, it seemed like a good time to jump on it.

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With school back in session, my commute has gotten about 15 minutes longer, each way. I drive through beautiful farm country, but sometimes find myself behind strange objects. I try to remember that I take this route for the experience – I’m used to palm trees and strip malls – and find it humorous. But my music has been getting a little stale lately. Any suggestions for great driving songs?

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I’ve given up on wearing dressy shoes to work. These sandals are so amazing that I cannot stop with them. You may have seen my Instagram post about them. I’ve been trying to post things to Instagram. To be completely transparent: I’m not great at it. I’m open to any advice folks have. I keep trying to remember that it’s a great way to keep in touch with folks and, really, it’s a lot easier to use than Facebook.

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Look at this perfect photo of my adorable dad and his dog, Maggie. I’ve been working on that TV stand that I talked about a while ago (I promise a great reveal post is coming soon!) and my parents hung out a bunch. That blue swing was my great-grandmas! My uncle recently had it repainted and surprised my mom with it! How freaking cute?

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I recently posted about getting my brain organized for school. I am juggling a lot of different things lately and trying to stay grounded while I do it. I think some of my struggle has to do with not having a planner that works 100% the way I need it to. So, I’m back to thinking about making my own.

I hope you all have been well. I’d love to hear what back-to-school time has been like for you!

A. Rose (1)

House List Update!

So, many moons ago, before I needed a break from blogging, I shared with you my House List, and how to prioritize that list. As of my most recent update about my couch, here’s what the list looked like:

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In my absence, I made some changes and now, here’s where we are:

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I’ve got some posts brewing about having made those changes, so I can explain the processes. But the real reason I wanted to give this update is because I first started talking about this a little less than a year ago and I’m not even halfway done.

That feels a little pathetic.

It also feels more than a little realistic.

I think it’s easy to get caught up in the idea of how quickly things should happen, or to compare ourselves to the work / rate of others. But, when I really think about, for as much as I love to tackle house projects and make my little apartment feel cozy, I’d rather lay out in the sunshine, or have some lemonade with my mom, or laugh with my friends.

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I don’t actually think that life is too short. I think life is incredibly long and we should get everything we can out of it. And that means that some days I want to be barefoot in the sunshine, and other days, I want to paint little flowers on a flower pot.

I make a million lists and like to check things off of them and love the feeling of accomplishing both big and small projects – that will never not be true for me.

It’s also true that I still have a hard time not feeling guilty when I pick to hang out and live rather than be task-oriented, almost like I need permission to take a break.

So, here you go: an updated house list and permission to go take a break and play in the sunshine, or the rain; permission to go have the life you want.A. Rose (1)

& Cookies, July Part I

I’ve been an avid blog reader for the last six years and my favorite posts are always the personal, here’s-my-life-in-the-last-month-rounded-up kinds of things. I was thinking about this, and about my cousins son whose favorite time of the day is Cookie Time, where he, his mom and his grandma have milk and cookies. So I was thinking about the idea of having milk and cookies with people I like, but I stopped being able to drink milk around age 25, so here we are: & cookies.

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I got to start off this passed weekend with D’s parents and two nephews. They came over for tacos and stayed for laughs. Those two boys love hanging out with “Uncle D” and playing games, and they’re great little helpers in the kitchen!
No AC pro-tip: put a fan in the kitchen, for the love of all that is good.

I did some hardcore grocery shopping: 3 stores, 2 hours, 1 month worth of food, including cat food (not including weekly perishable purchases): under $140! I’ve talked quite a bit about grocery shopping here and here. But I don’t know that I’ve really given an overview of how I’ve managed to bring my grocery bill down as far as it is. Maybe I’ll do that sometime soon; would that be interesting to you?

The other piece is that I got this Tide Ultra and successfully got D’s work pants (read: jeans that are coated in layers of motor oil) clean after just one wash! I can’t even believe it. It was like the laundry version of Christmas!

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I went Downtown with my adorable, amazing bestie this week. She’s basically the greatest mom of three. When she isn’t working, she’s doing things for others. It felt really good to facilitate a little mini-vacay for her. How happy she is in the picture above: that’s how much she smiled the rest of the time.

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These are the incredible skills of my cat, the Pirate King, who has been waking me up by screaming non-stop every morning. Ugh. Do you know cats that do that? What causes it? He gets fed in the evening, including treats. Maybe he just wants snuggles?

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And, of course, I had to include some 4th of July fun! My sister and I spent too long in the pool, followed by D and I spending too long in the pool, followed by more pool. Wanna know the key to a Florida girls heart? It’s swimming.

I should probably say some stuff about sunscreen and not letting yourself get melanoma buuuuut….

 

Have a great weekend, folks!

A. Rose (1)

I Came Back

I took a break from blogging a little while ago. The things happening in schools halted me, and required me to take a step back and look at what I care about, and what I’m doing to impact the things that I care about.

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I’m glad I took the time away, because what I learned is that I don’t want to be away.

I have always loved to write, and I’ve always cared more about the process of doing something than the finished product of what got done. The two together make this the perfect place for me.

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And so I’m here, with a plan, and a lot in my head I want to get down, and a lot of your voices I want to honor. I hope this goes well for both of us. & I hope you’ll continue to join me here, where the intricate details of life are perfectly imperfect.

A. Rose (1)

The Sound of Silence

I have a million posts in my head and pictures that need using and ideas I want to share.

But I have been halted.

Some background: I grew up in South Florida, not far from Marjory Stoneman Douglas. I work in a college, not far from Central Michigan University. I am working in and studying Higher Education (basically, the college version of studying K-12) because I care about what happens in grade schools: I care about what happens to each individual life of a young person. I care so much that I elected for my schedule to be chaotic and to not get enough sleep. Most days, education is all I can think about.

On Friday,  I found myself numb. Not numb because the feelings were too real to access, but desensitized to what was going on. I was here to listen, to hear the voices of the people around me and care for them. I wasn’t in a place to voice my own fears because they had been smashed by repetition.

In a class two weeks ago, I said that Columbine was in my bones. I was 11 years old and grown ups were scared and for the first time in my life, I understood that sometimes schools weren’t the safest place to be. This violence has been my childhood, and my adulthood.

I wrote to a friend / mentor on Friday:

“I’m worn out on all the talking. So I snuck away from conversations and tried to remember what it felt like to not be scared, to feel like a difference could be made.

I thought of that Loris Malaguzzi poem about the child being made of one hundred, and how life tries to tell them the hundred is not there. I thought about how the children I know say “No way,” like Malaguzzi says. And I thought about how they don’t know what will happen in school today; they just believe their school will be safe.”

He wrote me back with comforting words, and reminded me that we must work to be aware of the violence within ourselves; that we must be conscious of our ability to choose kindness or wrath. He urged that we set aside the questions of motive – that we all acknowledge that we want to be God and have power – we just need to find better ways to do it.

And so I’ll go back to regular posting soon. But for right now, I need to sit here, in the deafening silence of fears. I need to shake the dust that has settled around my spirit and raise my consciousness, and focus on kindness.

 

xoxo

 

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Valentines Day

Valentines Day is actually my favorite holiday.

I know it’s made up. I know it’s this commercialized mess. I know it puts unnecessary pressure on couples and partners. I know.

But I also really like to talk about love, in all it’s forms. And I like flowers and candy and the color red.

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The unruly little one is me.

When I think about love, D isn’t actually the first thing that comes to my mind. My family is (he gets grouped in with them). I believe that the love of the family, whatever family may look like for an individual, is the place where strength comes from, and is the central root that connects us to society in an unbreakable way.

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My friends come next. If family roots us in our community, our friends are the trunk of the tree – the steady base that lets our branches move outward, with love and careful reflection.

It’s been tricky to be in a new state with a new culture. It makes it hard to make friends, especially when most of the town grew up together. I’ve lucked out with a core group of great people who keep me grounded.

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After that, I think about romance. It tends to fall toward the bottom of my priority list, and lately I’ve been trying to do a better job of changing that. Even though I don’t think it’s the most important part of being in a relationship, I do still think it’s important.

At one point in my life, my mother told me that the most romantic thing about my father is that he knows her 2:30pm coffee is taken differently than her morning coffee. I’ve been trying to think about ways that I show care, and spaces where care is absent and bump it up.

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I hope that this Valentine’s Day gets to be about all the varied forms of love for you.