Thursday, June 14, 2018

Summer Planning

One of my favorite things we did when we lived in London was traveling.  It felt like we were constantly traveling all over Europe or planning our next trip.  Since the kids were in school year round, there were more breaks to travel.  We didn't have bucket lists to get us through the summer.  So now that we are back, we are summer planning! 

As we started to look at our summer plans, one thing became very clear to us.  It was going to be a long summer if we didn't have a car here.  So we shipped our car from Texas to Hoboken and are now practicing parallel parking all the time.  One of the benefits of living in the Northeast is that there are so many things within driving distance.  It is so different from Texas where you can drive for what feels like forever and still be in Texas.  We have started looking at different places we can go explore and outings we can take this summer.  The biggest debate in our house right now is are the kiddos too old for Sesame Place?  We are definitely going to explore some of the nearby beaches, the Touch it Museum in Pennsylvania, the Bronx Zoo, the botanical gardens in Brooklyn, playgrounds in central park, walk the Brooklyn Bridge, visit Long Island Beach, Governor's Island, and lots of picnics!

Since we moved back to the States, we have promised to visit Texas for almost a month.  We are going to spend 5 days in Dallas and then 3 weeks in El Paso.   I don't always look at El Paso as my favorite place to travel or explore but the kids have started to research and have come up with a few things they want to do while there.  They have decided that Hueco Tanks, White Sands, and Carlsbad Caverns is on their list.  We are also going to spend a weekend in Ruidoso and go to the races.

They have also requested lots of swimming.  That was the one thing they missed in London was not having hot summers.  We would have hot waves and would take full advantage of them but here it is hot.  They can swim!  We are starting to explore swimming clubs to join (talk about a money maker), its crazy how much we are probably going to pay to have a pool available to us.  I know in Texas, we are definitely going to be looking for swimming pools. 

After Texas, we are going to the beach in Florida with friends from London.  We are so excited to relax and reunite with some of our friends.  I cannot wait to be on those white sands and crystal blue waters.  The kids have requested that we stop at the Children's museum in Tampa.  I'm not sure if I like them learning how to research in school.  They are finding lots of things that they want to do.

A few other random requests are to have batting practice, cooking lessons, math practice, write stories, have a book club, watch fireworks on the 4th of July, go to a Yankees game and have several pajama days.

I think our summer is going to be hectic!  The kids are so excited to be out of school in a little over a week instead of being in school til July.  We are going to need so much more time when 10 weeks to accomplish everything on their list but we are going to try!

Count down til summer time is on...wish me luck!


Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Trying to Blog Again

Well, I turned 40.  I don't have any extra knowledge and I don't have any more clarity than I had yesterday.  I don't know what I want to do with the rest of my life.  My answer on what's next for me varies from day to day.

I don't know what to blog about any more.  I know that might sound ridiculous but there was so much to share when we were in London.  It felt like every day was something new or we were exploring something or we encountered a new issue.  Every where I turned, I was inspired to write about something or to share something.  Here I feel like our life has become very boring and routine.  We have our daily responsibilities and we know what we are doing, I think.  I don't have unique perspective or crazy experiences to write about now.  I don't have a theme for the blog, even the title is outdated.

It was easy to write about the kids when they were younger.  Now, they are so much more independent and are in school full time.  It was like they grew their wings when they were in London and now they are happy to do accomplish things on their own.  Our conversations are shifting and they are deciding what they want to share with me or not share is probably more accurate.  Our conversations are different as we brainstorm how they handle challenges or what to do when their feelings are hurt.  They are growing up and are learning more critical thinking skills.  When they are little, its so easy to blog about them and its so cute but now I don't want to betray their trust.

I will say that I'm happy and content with who I am and enjoying life.  I never would've thought that I would live in Hoboken, NJ, directly across the Hudson River from NYC.  I never imagined that I would live in a town where everyone is connected and you constantly run into people that you know.  My kids love Hoboken and don't want to ever leave.  I don't know if they know that it is in the state of New Jersey but they are so proud to announce that they live in Hoboken.  This little city has captured our hearts quickly.

So I write this because I miss blogging but I don't know what to write.  I am going to spend the next couple of weeks really focused on what's going on around me and if I can find some inspiration.  I want to see if I can find the blessings and the excitement in the routine of our daily lives.  I want to see where the blog goes and if it still makes sense for me. 

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Comfort in the Ordinary

My mind is usually always going and always analyzing.  I am constantly thinking about something or exploring something.  I constantly write about these things, what's on my mind, what I'm analyzing, what I'm overthinking at the moment but my mind isn't working the same anymore.

I don't know why but I'm struggling with finding what to write about on my blog.  My life has fallen into a pretty easy routine without much disturbance.  A lot of the time with the kids is spent on school or running them around.  The kids are less demanding and more independent.  They are starting to get opinions and I'm making fewer decisions about what they are going to do in their free time.  They each have started to settle into their activities and are really enjoying them.  When the sun comes out, we spend lots of time at the parks.  There are parks all over Hoboken and is usually a great break at the end of the day. 

I have found a great rhythm for working out and eating healthy.  We have changed so much of our lifestyle when we were in London that we have kept most of it in check here (now that we have finished eating tons of junk food).  It takes more work to eat healthy here and to pay attention to food labels.  I had to increase my working out intensity and length of time to match the amount of walking that I was doing on a regular basis in London.  Jason and I are cooking more meals and eating out less.  Its so easy to cook here and we have a microwave which makes left overs so much easier! 

I haven't been able to quite wrap my mind around the fact that we live across the Hudson River from NYC.  Maybe as that starts to sink in then I'll notice more or different things around me.  There is still a bit of shock when I see the NYC sky line.  Also, a lot of my day is spent in Hoboken which is much smaller and feels more ordinary.  Its a great place to live and we are all extremely happy here but it hasn't offered anything to stimulate my brain for writing.  There is a kind of comfort being back in the States and living in a place that is one square mile.  It has been easy to meet people and make connections.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Toys - Buy a New, Give away One

We have imposed the rule on the kids that if they get a new toy then they have to donate an old toy to make space for the new toy.  Its been great and it makes living in a small space much more manageable.  The only issue with is that I have a bit of a double standard.  When I buy something, I don't give anything up.

Our full size kitchen is starting to bust at the seems.  I am have to move things around to make everything fit.  I keep telling myself, that its different because I need these gadgets to cook.  I'm not sure that its really many roasting pans do you need?  How many knives are necessary to chop up veggies?  I'm busting at the seem with pitchers.  We only pull them out on occasion when we have people over and trying to look sophisticated.  There are so many other things I want for my kitchen, like pretty serving dishes but is it necessary?  Would I be willing to give something up if I bought them? 

I also have tons of pictures and paintings that need to be framed.  Framing is so expensive but yet I hold onto these "art" pieces for when I have saved the money to frame them.  Does it make sense to save them?  How much space do we have to hang art and photographs?  Am I being unrealistic by saving them, am I taking up valuable space?  What if we decide to give up urban life and move to a house in the suburbs, then I'll be thankful I saved them?  If I buy another "art" piece, should I have to give up what I currently have? 

Clothes...I hate cleaning out my clothes.  I always worry that if I get rid of something that I will want it again at some point.  I buy new clothes but never get rid of anything when I buy.  I don't make the kids get rid of any of their "old" clothes when we buy new ones either.  One of my friends mentioned the other day that she gets rid of 3 clothing items when she buys 1.  That sounds awesome but it almost gave me a heart attack.  Does it make sense to replace old with new clothes?  Some of my old clothes are my favorites but I like to buy new clothes too.  How do I find a balance?

How much of the kids "stuff" do you keep as treasures?  How many art projects are worth saving?  What about their favorite outfits, should I save them for their kids or to make a quilt?  Is it crazy and will they think I'm crazy when I try to dump these treasures on them when they are adults?

I have recently received the book A Simplified Life from a friend but I'm terrified to read it.  I shoved it on the bookshelf and pretended that it didn't exist.  It would probably help me reason through these questions but what if it makes me feel awful for not wanting to simplify things?  What if I am happy with my ridiculous justifications?  So I just opened the book for the first time and with a quick scan of the table of contents, I can see so many things that stress me out: space, meals, schedule, finances, motherhood, and self. 

Alright, this blog post took me on a crazy journey and made me convince myself that I need to read this book.  I need to let go of my fears and read it.  This is reminding me of that episode of Man with  a Plan where he does the silent response so his wife talks herself into agreeing with him.  I think that I just had a crazy conversation with myself and talked myself into reading A Simplified Life.  I will let you know how it goes! 

I would love to hear from any of you that have read it and implemented it in your life!

Friday, March 23, 2018

Cannavale School

Oh my goodness, what have  I gotten myself into.  Let me back up a bit.  We are all adjusting to a new school.  I feel so very lucky that the kids got into a great school here.  The big ones go to a small where there is only one class per grade.  The classes smaller here too.  Both kids have less than 20 kids in their classes.  Hoboken has a free PK-4 program and Jillian attends it.  It has been great!  Their teachers have been impressive and so patient with them as they have adjusted to the expectations here.  There is also so much more communication here that I have had to stop myself from over reacting to feedback.   I feel the pressure to over correct the kids quickly instead of help them be successful on their learning journey.

A big part of their education and growth here is focused on improving yourself.  They take several assessments over the course of the year to show where they are improving.  Since we started late, the kids were bombarded with assessments over the last couple of months.  Their strengths and weaknesses in plain sight for them to see.  They have also noticed ways that they are different from the other kids in their class.  They have all asked for help and they want to improve on their weaknesses.

So...I started researching how to get help.  There is tutoring and centers and activities and so much that you can find but it felt so overwhelming.  They are also young and I don't want them to spend so much time on learning that they sacrifice play time.  Is there a way that I can help them and make sure they are still having fun too?  I talked to my sister and friends who are teachers, I talked to the kids teachers, and started compiling suggestions and activities that I could do with the kids to help them.  We now spend 30 minutes a day in what the kids call Cannavale school.  We spend 10 minutes on writing, 10 minutes on reading, and 10 minutes on math.  They have notebooks that tell them what they are going to do for those 30 minutes.  We play games, we write about our days, we write silly poems, we use flashcards, and play on the computer.  We laugh and we learn for 30 minutes a day.  All 4 of us sit at the table so that I give the kids my undivided attention and work through any of their questions or struggles.

I thought the kids were going to hate it but instead they have embraced it.  They even ask for it and want to be prepared for class.  They have named it Cannavale school and call me Miss Mommy for those 30 minutes.  Yesterday, after our "class" time, Taryn hugged me and said that it is really helping her.  Sebastian was so proud of how much his writing improved that he said he was going to start writing better at school, all said with a huge smile on his face.  I am so happy that one of my crazy ideas has taken off and is helping the kids while we spend quality time together.  I know this isn't going to last forever but I'm going to take pride in helping them improve themselves and cherish the 30 minutes a day of "class" time.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Snow Day #2 - Picture Practice

Hello All!

We are on snow day #2.  Today, I decided to get the kiddos help me with my picture taking skills.  It is always a challenge for me to take pictures inside and figure out the lighting and the shadows.  I also watched some editing videos and tried some new techniques.  Some pictures turned out better than others and my editing skills still needs lot of work but I thought I would share the pictures with you anyways.

Also, yay, sticking with the New Year's Resolutions and it is March.  Here is the previous post in case you missed it,  So so proud of myself.

Hope you enjoy the pictures!

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Snow Day?!?!

Last Friday was brutal.  A crazy snow, hail, rain, and wind storm came through and no one was expecting it.  Walking in the storm was quite challenging.  Umbrellas broke, Jillian was carried away, we were covered in snow from head to foot.  We went to school, we went on field trips, and we even had a play date.

Now, its Wednesday morning and we are home for a snow day.  There was prediction of lots of snow fall and wind, again.  Schools were cancelled on Tuesday night in anticipation of the horrible weather today.  We woke up to no snow, no snow flurries, barely even any rain.  Outside was a tad bit wet.  I'm sure as the day goes on the snow much come, right?!?!

At 9:15, there is a start of some rain, maybe a little snow mixed in there.  I have seen some humongous snowflakes since moving to New Jersey but these are babies, barely there.  I took a picture and I don't even think you can see the snow, it looks more like rain!  I'm sure it will come....

It is now 10:30...chores are kind of getting done, the kids and not listening, and we still have lots more time.  How's the weather?  Well...its really cold out and its still raining.  But again, its not even noticeable in the video.  Maybe the snow will start soon?!?!

Alright, finally, a little bit of snow.  Its 11:30 and we have snowflakes!  It is still small and so much less than I've seen here before.  And the kids are yelling at each other as they play Trouble.  Taryn put on a concert of Yankee Doodle Dandy.  The little ones have had a wrestling match...I have my money on Jillian.

And now...its is snowing.  12:15 and it is coming down and the wind is blowing.  It is actually really pretty to watch.  We are eating lunch and enjoying the snow.  So now the question is how much snow will come and how quickly.  I know you are looking forward to the rest of our snow day...

And finally, its 1:00 and the snow is falling and we are thankful for a snow day!  The thunder is roaring and the lights are flickering.  We are finishing up lunch and then we have an afternoon of fun planned.  We are going to paint and play games and watch tv.  I hope everyone else is having a wonderful snow day and staying warm!  If you live where the sun is enjoy it!

And now its 5:52 and man its really coming down!  Buses are shut down.  The streets look scary and the cars are covered.  This is what I was expecting when Hoboken has a snow day!  Now the bigger question...will we have another snow day tomorrow or a delay start or will we be back to normal?!?!

Cheers, friends!