We’re Going Home

Right now, it’s 82 degrees outside with 46% humidity. A little more humidity, and I would call it the perfect day. (Not southern humidity, mind you.)

I’m sitting with our patio door wide open, letting the apartment fill with heat, because I. Love. This. Weather. These are the days that make the long, windy winters worthwhile. These are the days making you forget what it’s like in January. These are the days we spend months longing for.

In a few hours, Hubs will come home and I’ll have long since shut the patio door and turned on the AC so everyone can stay cool and content, but for now, this is my time, and this is how I like it.

A couple of weeks ago, I was not so cool and collected. I was not so grateful or blissful, or even one ounce of happy. Continue reading “We’re Going Home”

When Living Simply Is Complicated

[ insert giant sigh here ]

Oh, friends.

I’ve shared a few times my love for sleep. How when I was younger, my family was afraid to rouse me from slumber, because it was like waking a bear from hibernation. Someone might die.

Then I had babies and didn’t sleep all that great for a while, but this past summer, Little Man finally started sleeping through the night! So my life was almost perfect again.

Until the wee hours of Monday morning.

A visitor decided to call on his friend around 2:30 in the morning. This visitor was carrying on lengthy conversations, and from all I could hear, it sounded like he was conversing with himself.

In the entrance of our apartment building.

If you’re wondering how I would even know someone was talking to themselves in the entrance of our building at 2:30 in the morning, I’ll let you in on a little secret: our bedroom wall is adjacent to the entrance. Because, #apartmentlife.

This visitor was out there for a long time, dropping many an f-bomb, and Mama Val was growing more and more irate. I pounded on the wall. No change. Brent went out to advise him to quiet down. It helped only barely.

The situation (allegedly) was he was supposed to be getting into someone’s apartment on 3rd floor, but the intercom was dialing straight to the person’s voicemail. Mr. Visitor was then leaving lengthy, profanity-laced threats on the voicemail message through the intercom.

Because that’s how you talk to your “Buddy” as he kept referring to him.


If you’re trying to get into someone else’s home at 3 in the morning, and the intercom isn’t allowing their phone to ring to let you in, leave.

For nearly 90 minutes this guy left message after message on his “buddy”‘s voicemail. Let me just say, if that’s how he talks to his friends, I don’t want to know how he talks to people he doesn’t like. We called the cops; we have no idea if they ever arrived. The issue appeared to have resolved itself before any enforcement came. I was kind of looking forward to hearing a handcuffing scuffle, but no such luck.

I was preparing to go out and confront Mr. Buddy myself, but Hubs wouldn’t allow it. In my sleep-deprived state, it was most likely in the best interest of the safety of the visiting stranger.

After the great visitor debacle of 2017, I was wide awake, and so was hubs. Our day started before 3:00 a.m.

God forgive me, please, for what I’m about to say: I hate this apartment.

Our desire is, and has been, to live a simpler life. Get a home away from city limits, get our chickens and a rooster, grow our own food in the biggest garden we could manage, put my aprons to work while I can all the foods in between baking loaves of bread… The simpler life.

But it’s complicated.

It’s complicated because until we find the place that suits our needs and our budget, we’re stuck here. Stuck hearing everyone’s footsteps, conversations, f-bombs, no matter the time of day or night.

Stuck where our kids can’t just run outside and hop on their bikes, because people drive through the parking lot like it’s a Daytona track.

Stuck where I can only see to the east, and only the sliver of sky above the garage rooftops.

Stuck in a herd of people who forget they’re living with an entire herd of other people.

I adopted the #littleapartmentontheprairie tag last year in an effort to embrace our situation and make the best of it. Now… I’m so over it.

I don’t know what’s next for us. I don’t know if we’re staying local or uprooting and replanting hundreds of miles away. I’d love for there to be mountains in my near future.

All we want is the simple life.

But it’s complicated.

Yes, I’m complaining. Yes, I’m discontent. Tagging on to a conversation we had with friends this past weekend – discontent does not mean ungrateful! I’m thankful we have this place, and it has filled our needs from the time we moved in. We’re warm, we’re more organized than we were (as far as stuff and possessions go, because we’ve downsized so much), we’re on the first floor so at least the kids can run inside and not drive anyone beneath us crazy – – – we’re very grateful!

I’m not content to stay here, though. I don’t believe we were intended to rent forever, let alone in an apartment building. I don’t believe this is where God intends us to stay long-term. I believe my discontent is healthy, and motivating us to take those steps in faith to get out of here and move to where God DOES intend for us.

I only wish I knew right where that was, and it could have happened four days ago.

Deep breath. I have the aftermath of making fresh applesauce to clean up from, so I’d best get to it. I’m praying for the complicated to become clear, and for the simple to be achieved. May the #littleapartmentontheprairie tag rest in peace in our very near future.

Little Apartment On The Prairie: An Update

Apartment on the Prairie

Apartment on the Prairie

Last week, I shared my radical decision to bid my personal Facebook farewell. I received mixed feedback. Half of you seemed excited and even inspired to exercise your own social media discipline. Half of you were questioning my decision, and possibly even my sanity.

I hope I made it clear in my initial post, but I will reiterate here: this is a decision I made for me personally and I’m not promoting or insisting it as a way of life for anyone other than Val Kleppen. If you feel so inclined to do something similar, I applaud you! If you don’t share in my social media struggle, I also applaud you!

Now that we’ve cleared the air, I’d like to share what I’ve been up to since I’ve stopped scrolling news feeds.

I mended a shirt. A button had come off in the wash weeks and weeks and weeks ago. It sat on top of the dryer, waiting to be reattached to it’s shirt. I haven’t worn the shirt, because there was protruding thread where the button should have been. I couldn’t sew the button back on, though, because… wait. Why? Because people were posting things! I sewed that button on this week, and felt like I could do anything afterward. Just call me Caroline (or “Ma”) because this chick is taking Little Apartment On The Prairie to a whole new level!

I planted flowers. I’ve been meaning to since May. With travel and summer plans, though, I just couldn’t bring myself to get to the store to get flowers to plant. I thought I’d let too much of the season go by and would have to forego it this year, but I prevailed. It turns out when you wait until the first of July to buy flowers, they’re on sale.

My favorite pot I purchased last year was worthless, though, which was disheartening. Thankfully we had one pot on hand that is working quite well. My Little Apartment On The Prairie patio garden brings me immense joy each morning as I look out our sliding glass door. I only wish I had thought sooner to buy a window-box type flowerbed, so I could grow strawberries in it on the patio. My thumb will be green before this is all over.

I’m a new mother. Truly, I am. And wife, for that matter. I’ve been more present this week than I can recall being in quite a while. I don’t want to admit that, because I don’t want you to know the depths of my suckiness as a human being, but it’s out there now. In my Facebook days (a few weeks ago), I was telling my hungry children to wait for a snack so I could catch up on the things people were posting and sharing. Now, I feed my kids. When they’re hungry. It’s the most revolutionary parenting move I’ve ever made. We play more, we laugh harder, and we get more done together. It’s been pretty stellar.

And my husband, well, I talk his ear off in the evenings. He might be wishing I was staring at my phone instead, but so far, we’ve had incredibly meaningful (and entertaining) conversations. I’ve been able to steal a few more kisses from him, too. I also think he might be on board to pack up and move to Tennessee. Because… life goals. But for now, we’re still very much living in our Little Apartment On The Prairie, and really enjoying our time spent in actual communication with one another.

I’ve been so productive I can’t even believe it. Dust? What dust? Dishes? All clean. Laundry? I folded it and put it away already. Need a meal cooked? Well… it’s summer time, and it’s too hot to turn the stove on. Kidding! I’ve been cooking, too! If our apartment lawn were wheat, I’d probably be grinding my own flour. Need something done? I can’t help you, because I’m so busy doing everything I ever neglected doing before! I make our bed every morning WITH ALL THE DECORATIVE PILLOWS! Caroline would be so proud…

Also – my phone battery lasts a lot longer, now.

So there you have it. A week in, and I can see how much I needed to break away. Is it for everyone? No. It certainly is for me, for this season right now, though. I’ve been in touch with several of you, and kind of wishing I had collected email addresses before I wiped my slate clean – but I know I very much still have the presence and prayers of my friends, and this week has felt so good. So good.

I’ve gotta run, though… the linens need pressed. (Just kidding, I’m not that awesome. Yet.)

Little Apartment On The Prairie



Each night at kiddo bedtime, hubs has been reading chapters from The Little House series, written by Laura Ingalls. It fills me with nostalgia from reading those books when I was a child, but more than that, I’m struck by how incredible their lives were. They kept things simple as a sake of survival, but “simple” for them seems like so much work to me. Yet today, a lot of what we have to make our lives “simpler” seems to be making it more difficult to function as a compassionate being.

I’ve been struggling for months with the maze of social media. I’m required to be in it for work, but tend to easily get trapped in a time suck and before I know it, I’ve spent hours scrolling through funny memes, frivolous news stories, and conversations among complete strangers. I can’t seem to pull away from it.

It wasn’t all that long ago, I fessed up about my struggle with being stuck in technology when I wrote about needing a time out. It turns out a technological time out isn’t easy to come by.

It’s a fantastic and frightening world, social media. Linking us to our past, connecting us to a future we hope to have, and friending our current acquaintances in the meantime. Once upon a time, I used to call someone or send them an email to see what they were up to, or how they were doing. Now, I just browse their profile. I don’t interact at all. I simply observe. And I call myself their friend. If they need me, I’ll be there to click “like” or maybe even “love” if it’s really special. If I remember to click something, that is.

Is this troubling to anyone else?

I remember a time we heard from friends once a year, and knew they were just as much my friends as they always had been. I was updated on their lives, complete with pictures, and even got a warm fuzzy feeling opening that annual correspondence: The Christmas Letter. Social media has replaced the need for the Christmas letter. Instead of decorating my door with Christmas mail, I’m checking my computer for likes and comments.

My phone rings or buzzes and I cringe. “Who’s that?” “What do they want?” When the postman buzzes our door, I’m completely bewildered. Someone sent something too big for our mailbox? Oh no, wait, we ordered something. Without talking to a single person. I just clicked it to ship it.

I’m not just in need of a techno time out. I need a complete humanitarian reset.

Recently, our family attended my husband’s class reunion, where I was surprised by how many of his classmates were not on Facebook. Not on Facebook! What kind of mysterious lives do these people live?!

I also noticed how genuinely relational they were, how connected they were, and how no one was spending their time taking selfies or interrupting their talking to tweet something clever. They were having face-to-face conversations with one another, giving undivided attention. I marveled as I witnessed it.

I’m almost ashamed to admit it for it seems so shallow, but I was completely inspired by this.

Brent’s classmates themselves were fantastic, and I enjoyed visiting with them so much. Some of them I remembered from his reunion ten years prior, others I met for the first time. It was so much fun to see Brent in his hometown with his friends, picking right up where they left off. I visited right along with him and laughed so hard my cheeks hurt. And I didn’t take my phone out but one time.

Spending hours with these folks when not a single person was taking their phone out to post or catch up on other posts was a motivational boost for me.

Could I do the same?

Remember the book #Struggles I read? (And highly recommend, by the way). It talks about this phenomenon of living in a selfie-centered world. And that, in combination with the realization I was spending too much time on too many devices, convinced me I needed to break free.

I need to be unplugged. I need to disconnect from this world I’ve become so engrossed in so I can truly connect in the world I was created to live in.

So…at least for now, we’ll be The Little Apartment On The Prairie. I won’t let social media be my master. I’m going to have a routine of doing what housework on which days. I’m going to cook all our meals, bake our own bread, and smoke meat for the winter. (Okay, maybe not smoke meat….that might get us kicked out.) We’re going to focus on each other and fostering relationships. We’re going to master the art of face-to-face communication. No more sitting on my sofa asking my husband if he saw the funny picture so-and-so posted.

I’m going back to simpler times. Basic communication. I’m going to stop letting FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) dictate my time and energy. It’s that same fear that has actually caused me to miss out on what’s right in front of me!

So, friends, I may not remember your birthday when I don’t get an email from Facebook telling me it’s your special day. But I’d love to get together with you in person and laugh so hard our cheeks hurt. We don’t even have to take a picture to prove we did it. We can just let the memory of the moment nestle itself away in folds of our hearts. And if we live far apart, I hope I get that Christmas letter this year. Email me your mailing address so I can be sure to fill your mailbox up as well. That’s right, USPS, I’m coming to buy stamps!

In the meantime, come and check in with me in our Little Apartment On The Prairie as I blog about what we’re up to. This little corner of the internet is my coffee table, with one chair always available to you.