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!

Monday, March 5, 2018

Apartment Living - How Small Can we Go?

For those of you that don't know, my husband gets restless and we don't stay in the same house long.  In our almost 15 years of marriage, we have lived in 5 cities and 9 houses or apartments.  We have lived in apartments, townhouses, and houses.  Four years ago, in San Antionio, Texas, I thought we had bought our forever house.  It was a beautiful 3800 square foot house that sat on 3/4 of an acre.  We were on top of a hill and had a beautiful view.  The house needed some updating but we were going to be in it forever so we could do the work over time.  It was everything we thought we wanted.  Here are some of my favorite pictures from our "forever" house.

Our "forever" house.

I absolutely loved our backyard.  It was so relaxing!
Except for the mosquitos.

Our view!

After living in the house for 2 years, we decided to take the leap and move to London.  I was terrified and I still can't believe Jason convinced me to go.  For those of you who know me well, know that I'm not a risk taker and I don't like change.  We fly to London for a house hunting trip and the reality sinks in.  We are going to move into a town house that will be 1800 square feet or less.  Luckily, we found a beautiful house that we loved that we fit into perfectly.  I thought this was as small of a house that we could fit into.

Our beautiful London home!

Ah, wrong, we are now in a 1500 square foot apartment.  But y'all, I love it!  Our front door is an elevator.  It is so weird and cool at the same time.  The big question is whose turn is it to push the elevator button?

Our very cool front door and our display of school work!

Our apartment is small, less individual space and we sometimes trip all over each other.  With the smallness, we have a new respect for each other and we have to learn to share what we have.  Rooms are shared, toys are stored in each other's room so anyone can walk in at any time.  The word mine is not used much in our house.  Figuring out where to store everything requires some creativity.  It also requires buying smart.  Our new couch has storage in the Chaise and the ottoman!  Its the small things, y'all.

Our hot water heater closet filled with everything else too!
Outside our apartment by the in case of a fire stairs.

Toy storage in Sebastian and Jillian's Room.
Toy and book storage in Tayrn's room.

We have to be more picky about what we keep and what we don't keep.  There is no extra storage for every art piece ever created and we cannot own a ridiculous amount of toys.  Jason and I have to keep our "toys" in check too.  Clothes have to managed or we run out of space (we are already maxed out on space).

Every single closet looks like this, don't judge!

Keeping our apartment clean is so so easy!  Our apartment has wood floors in every room.  When we first moved in, I was ready to buy rugs for every room then realized that would make cleaning so much harder.  (I check in with our downstairs neighbors and they say we aren't making too much noise, yet.  As soon as we start bothering them, then we will be purchasing rugs!)  We have to sweep after every meal and vacuum a couple of times a week but that literally takes 15 minutes.  We have beautiful countertops that are easy to clean too.  Again, not tons of storage so not many shelves to collect dust.  The kids do an incredible job keeping their toys picked up too.  They can feel the apartment closing in on them when there are toys all over the place.  They still make huge messes but are much happier to pick it all up at the end of the day.

My absolute favourite thing about living in our apartment is that it is full of love and our cherished things.  We fill the small space with the things that are important to us.  We cuddle on our small couch at the end of the day and read a story.  We sit at the breakfast bar and the kids do homework while I cook.  We sit at our kitchen table and tell stories.  The kids play with each other in their bedrooms, running from one side of the apartment to the other.  I hope that we continue to fill our apartment with love!

Our Living Room with our apartment couch.

Our beautiful kitchen that has a full size refrigerator!

There is no washer and dryer in the kitchen so I now have a wine fridge! 
I'm telling you, in an apartment, its all about the little things!

I am excited to be settled here for a while and to make memories in our apartment.  I'm interested to see if we still love apartment living in 6 months, in a year, and by the end of our lease.  Who knows where our next "home" will be and what it will look like.  As we tell our kids, our home is our family not the physical place where we live.