An adventure to the pumpkin patch!

pumpkin patch west hollywood

I love when our weekends are filled with so much HAPPY! It all starts on Friday — there’s usually tons of anticipation over Zack wrapping up his work/heading home. We usually stay up a bit too late on Fridays, which means the morning always comes too soon ;) You can usually find us in our jammies as we talk about our day while playing with Maxwell and Bauer. We have wooden cars and puzzles surrounding us, the books are scattered and we slowly sip our coffee (which Max calls “hot”). Suddenly it’s lunch time and sometimes we haven’t even left the apartment yet. Oops! This past weekend we knew we wanted to finish up some things around our home and after naptime on Saturday we wanted to visit a local pumpkin patch.

pumpkin patch west hollywood

In Los Angeles it’s not uncommon for a seasonal site, like pumpkin patches or Christmas tree farms or ice-skating rinks, to rent out a lot in the middle of a neighborhood. We’ve done all three now that we’ve been here for two years, and it’s kinda fun to see palm trees amongst pine trees or bales of hay ;) Besides, it’s a huge time saver having these seasonal sites set up in a neighborhood. Driving to the other side of the mountains, where there’s more space/nature, is definitely fun but it can take foreverrrrrrrrrr with traffic.

This was Maxwell’s first visit to the pumpkin patch but I think I had just as much fun as him. We love “stepping back” a bit and watching him take it all in. Seeing what he takes interest in (pony rides! face painting! bounce house!) and watching him pick up pumpkins — it’s adorable.

pumpkin patch west hollywood 2

We found a neighborhood pumpkin patch in West Hollywood to visit on Saturday afternoon. There was a small per-person admission but the total cost went towards any pumpkin purchase. We picked out a super cute lil punkin’ and two smaller gourds for our living room, and I love how vibrant the orange and yellow colors look against our brown accent wall. Kinda makes me want to make some sort of fall garland to really cozy things up ;)

pumpkin patch west hollywood

pumpkin patch west hollywood

pumpkin patch west hollywood

Speaking of adventures, Zack begins a new chapter today in his film/commercial/visual effects career and I’m so excited for him. This is a huge blessing/answered prayer for our family and I’m super grateful. And pinch me, but word around the water cooler is he’ll be home at dinner time, regularly. Yes!

I think we’ll all be reminiscing about all the family time we had this past weekend as today carries on… mixed with anticipation on when exactly Baby #2 will be making his or her debut into our family. WE ARE READY FOR YOU, BABY! ♥

We had such a lovely weekend and I hope you did, too. And if you live in a city where the leaves change colors then I’m a little envious of you!

Small Spaces: Tip #1

small spaces tip #1 maggie whitley

When we first moved to Los Angeles, just over two years ago, we hardly had any material possessions. We packed our Jeep and drove from Minneapolis to LA, and I was not quite 14 weeks pregnant with Maxwell. We brought with us an heirloom baby cradle, my sewing machine, a box of sewing notions/fabric, minimal clothes, a small selection of meaningful items/decorations, Bauer’s dog crate, and plenty of tools should the Jeep need any servicing. We actually planned on sleeping in the Jeep on our drive out here, but as we were selling/packing/cleaning out the house we were renting in Minneapolis I found more and more things I just couldn’t leave behind. We had never made a move this large or far away and didn’t quite know what to expect. (Our families have the rest of our valuables and meaningful items stored in Michigan.) Suddenly the Jeep was full of “absolute musts” to bring to Los Angeles, so there wasn’t room for sleeping (or packing much else).

Funny, we didn’t bring more than a few boxes of stuff, but what we did bring took up a lot of space in the Jeep.

As hard as it’s been, I’ve learned over the last 25 months that it really is possible to live with less.

It’s an incredibly emotional process — especially how we’re indirectly trained to become attached to things — but it’s taught me so much.

Once we found our first apartment in Los Angeles we started making small purchases for our home. Of course all of this took lots of time, lots of saving, and a lot of discipline to not spend money on unnecessary things.

There are still things and clothes and furniture I think we need that we haven’t purchased yet, and the reason why has mixed results. Do we really need this? Can we afford it? And so we continue wait.

I remember clear as day showing a friend our first apartment after we had settled in. She saw our closet and then asked me, Where are the rest of your clothes? I thought to myself, They’ve been sold. And for a minute I actually felt embarrassed over my small wardrobe.

But that’s a perfect example of how we live with less, and how it’s been a discipline not to make a purchase “just because”.

Living with less shouldn’t feel weird or wrong. In fact, it’s actually taught me a lot about myself and personal tendencies. I’ve learned how to decorate our home with our favorite, most-cherished things instead of packing them away “for another time”.

When we display memories of our adventures, or make space in our cozy home for things that have value, we re-ignite life moments that once made our souls feel something. And how inspiring is that?

I’ve been trained to look at the big picture in life instead of a small, Maggie-centered life. Because of what we put inside our home, when I walk outside I actually notice the beautiful pink flowers growing on the branches. I rocked our firstborn to sleep in a cradle that once rocked me, and once again it’s in the nursery, anticipating another baby. My nightstand holds a bird lamp, a gift from my parents — one that “I really really really realllly wanted” about seven years ago. One kitchen cupboard shelf — which was once empty, is now full of coffee cups given to us by family & friends. They each tell a story of adventure and friendship in California. The bed quilts inside our closet hold meaning and are handmade, and the books on our bookshelf are incredibly inspiring, funny or from our very favorite authors.

My point is our home may be small but it’s incredibly large with meaning, and that brings me deep happiness.

Tip #1: have your home showcase the things that mean the most.

When your big brother plans a suprise visit…

family maggie whitley

family maggie whitley

venice beach umbrella maggie whitley

family maggie whitley

family maggie whitley

My brother visited me for my birthday in July — a surprise visit! — and I just have to say, having a solid relationship with your sibling as adults is pretty rad. We’re only two years apart in age, but now that we have children of our own we have a totally different, awesome relationship from when we were younger.

Last year Matt surprised me by flying to Los Angeles for a week. It was his first time meeting Maxwell and it was amazing to see them interact as uncle and nephew. This year was more of a reunion for them. It was like we stepped back in time (minus my new baby bump) and the flow of his visit didn’t miss a beat. My brother has two boys of his own, so our parents are very curious if our second Whitley baby will be a boy or girl ;)

airplane bank maggie whitley

airplane bank maggie whitley

image

Uncle Matt and Maxwell (about 5 months old), Summer 2013

We visited the Santa Monica Promenade soon after Matt and his girlfriend Kim arrived in LA. While we were window shopping, and reminiscing about Matt’s visit last year, we stopped into a baby boutique where Matt bought a red airplane piggy bank for Maxwell.

Once we were back at home they sat at the table and Matt taught Max how to put the coins in the thin slot on top. There’s a special message written on the bottom… and reading it makes me feel so many emotions. I’m incredibly blessed to have him as a big brother, and how much he loves my family.

I’m grateful that the miles between us are like a strong, woven rope. They don’t take away from our relationship, instead they give us something to cling to.

The beauty in small spaces.

kitchen maggie whitley

I’ve been a renter for ten years now, renting apartments & homes all over the country.

It all started after high-school graduation. I spent four years at Central Michigan University (2003-2007; where Zack and I met/fell in love) renting dorm rooms, an apartment, and then a house just off-campus. After that I lived in Lansing, MI for almost a year (2007-2008). Zack and I were married June 2008 and shortly after that we moved to Detroit, MI where we lived for a year (2008-2009). We then moved to Minneapolis, MN for three years (2009-2012). And now we’re to the present: living in Los Angeles, CA for almost two years (since 2012).

bathroom maggie whitley

Most of the places we’ve called “home” have been small and perfect for a him & her. For two years we lived in a very generous-sized house in Minneapolis complete with three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a backyard, patio and private driveway. At 26-years-old we felt like we hit the rental jackpot.

But towards the end of our time in that large house Zack and I traveled to Tanzania, Africa with Compassion International (truly one of the most life-changing events I’ve ever experienced) — we came home, and pretty much everything about our lives changed.

The amount of space we live in…

The number of physical “things” we own…

The answer to a 14-month prayer of growing our family: your womb is full…

The yard-less yard… (This one is still hard.)

All of these things were suddenly not as they’d once been.

kitchen maggie whitley

When we decided to move from Minneapolis to Los Angeles the size of our home may have shrunk nearly 75%, but our hearts grew immeasurably.

Living in a small space has been really hard for me at times. It’s even hard for me to write that out! :) But it’s allowed me to look deep and hard at what I consider most important in this life…

I don’t share often enough about the struggles that come with living in a small space, but I’m inspired to change that.

Because as I’ve learned: where there are struggles there is also beauty.

accessories maggie whitley

We were not created to be defined by the size of our homes or the number of adventures we’ve been on. We are not defined by how much gorgeous sunlight pours in our windows, or the thick never-ending grass that grows off our patio, or by having a (unachievable) large social media imprint.

There is so much beauty, even in the small spaces of our home, and the best way to find it is to know the asnwers to these questions:

- what is your purpose for this season of life?

- what changes do you need to make so you feel satisfied with the everyday?

- what internal changes would help you feel more confident with where you are right now?

- are you giving your most important people first priority?

From there, however life sorts itself out (in a way that feels totally natural to you), is what you need to be doing. Don’t worry about what your neighbor is doing or what their life looks like.

When all think alike, then no one is thinking, –Walter Lippman

If you’re going to worry, worry you’re missing out because you can’t stop your mind/eyes from wandering elsewhere.

It’s perfectly wonderful to be different, to be brave, to be dancing to your own life beat. And that’s something living in a small rental has taught me.

to be continued…