Reflecting on the past & present.

palm trees los angeles maggie whitley

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve sat down to write a post, or try to journal with a pen (a real pen! and paper!), and nothing productive comes of it. I can honestly say I am putting too much pressure on myself to come up with something profound or witty as to not waste your time (or mine). But I haven’t been able to do it. Then, the other day, I realized this is just the season of life I am in.

Five years ago we were living in Minneapolis, sans kids, and I was heavily devoted to learning how to sew and building a handmade community around my business: Gussy Sews.

Now, we’re living in Los Angeles and I’m a mama of two babies — with the oldest babe being just 21 months old.

My life is full. It is rich with memories. My story is worthy, and it is beautiful. And I am perfect, even though I have struggles and make mistakes.

I absolutely adore this current season of life. And my goal for “right now” is to become more brave with writing when I’m able AND hitting “publish” when finished.

palm trees los angeles maggie whitley

writing reflection maggie whitley

I’m still learning our new routine as a mama of two. I’m still learning how to process the fact that I don’t have time to run two handmade businesses — which is what I was doing exactly five days before I learned I was pregnant with our second baby). I can’t tell you how many times I talked myself out of starting Caroline-made. Well actually, I did so many times that it took me two years to launch it. And even though Caroline-made isn’t active right now, I’m so glad I took the leap and opened it in February of 2014. Like, it makes me so happy.

I’m not sewing much right now but I’m still creating, and I’m thankful for the change in mediums and textiles (play-doh, water colors, crayons, chalk, and embroidery).

The status of my life today as I type this is noisy, messy, exciting, new, full of love, and exhausting.

And, I imagine many of you reading this can relate :)

The year 2015 is going to be a year of reflection, I can already feel it. Zack and I are working on our budget and family goals with such intensity, it’s inspiring.

Here’s to trying new things, embracing change, reflecting on the past and present, and worrying a whole lot less about perfection. Cheers!

PS. below are two songs I’m really loving right now…

A Sky Full Of Stars by Cold Play on Grooveshark
Pompeii (Kat Krazy Remix) by Bastille on Grooveshark

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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!

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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.

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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

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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.

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