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…

How to survive mamahood in Los Angeles.

One of my dear mama friends (she has two littles: a four-month old and a 2-year old) taught me early on how to survive living in Los Angeles. You bring your kids to the beach, and you start going at an early age. And oh my, yes I couldn’t agree with her more. The weather in the city is pretty consistent — mostly blue skies, breezy sunshine and 75 degrees.

maxwell maggie whitley

But it’s also a super crowded, bustling, traffic-crazy city.

Except when you’re at the beach during the week ;) We notice mostly tourists here during the weekday (hooray for us, we’re the oddballs!), so it kinda feels like we’re on vacation. Except we live here year-round.

the beach maggie whitley

santa monica beach maggie whitley

When we go to the beach, we go for the entire day, like 10:30am until 4pm. Our kiddos play together and they play independently. We take multiple trips down to the water to splash around. We spy dolphins swimming near the shore. We brush off sand. Again. We keep our littles hydrated and full of energizing foods. We chase them around our umbrellas and beach quilts and trip over buckets.

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And then the most miraculous thing happens: all the littles take an afternoon nap. At the same time. And for at least an hour are able to catch up without getting up, but funny how fast that hour goes by :)

maxwell beach chair maggie whitley

It’s not so hard taking your kids to the beach. Maxwell went a few times last year and maybe a dozen times already this year? We continue to go and so it continues to get easier and easier. Going to the beach is one of my best tips for surviving mamahood in Los Angeles.

olivia maxwell maggie whitley

maxwell palm trees maggie whitley

Also! Once we’re home and the sunscreen’s been washed off, it’s not long before everyone is in bed for a good night’s rest.

Here’s one of my favorite photos with Maxwell from our trip to the beach yesterday. It makes me so happy that I wanted to share with you it’s full-size frame:

maxwell maggie whitley

I’ve only and always been a mama since we moved to Los Angeles. I’m sure it’s different for moms all over the country, but knowing “how to survive” seems to be something we can all do differently while still feeling so very connected to one another. I’d love to read your tips on surviving mamahood in your city. See you in the comments? xo

A weekend in the mountains.

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We are home from an instantly fun weekend in the mountains, and I’m honestly not sure who is more tired right now: Zack and I, Bauer or the babe. We’re all pretty whooped. Camping, you sure know how to make your own fun (yeow!).

We left Los Angeles mid-afternoon on Friday and arrived at our camping destination just as dusk began to set. Good thing, because the rain had started to fall (really, rain?!) and our tent needed to be pitched and the Jeep unpacked. We were able to hang with our friends for a tiny bit before running off to our own tents for the evening. The rain came down hard, and Zack was such a champion, cooking our hotdogs while I set up our giant family bed. (Boy, that was an experience.)

All week I prepared to leave town for the weekend. Even though there was a lot of last-minute work to do, I was making my list and keeping at it each day, and truly counting down until we could leave the city. It’s been almost six years since Zack and I have had a vacation, so our weekend away in the mountains was refreshing in so many ways. I felt like we were on set of The Sound of Music, the mountains were lush with greens and the sky bright blue. The air was cold but the sun was hot. And as I write this Zack says to me, “I can tell you washed your hair.” I asked him what what meant and he said something like, “your hair is more… tame.” Ha! Apparently the “no shampoo for 3 days” look was a little wild for him.

And Bauer… oh my, Bauer. Let’s just say he was the first to get a bath last night. He LOVED being in the mountains and I have to admit, so did I. There’s something so special about getting away and reconnecting with your family, sans electronics :)

We didn’t do much, and we didn’t talk about much. We were simply “in the mountains” for the weekend.

And I can’t wait to go back.