May 31, 2011

hello from the city

Looking back at my last post, I can hardly believe that only a week has passed. As is typical for a move, the last few days have seemed like months with all the packing, loading, unloading (ok, I didn't have to do any of that. Thank you Steve and Will!) and unpacking not to mention all of the upheaval and confusion that comes from being in a totally new place. I could probably write pages and pages on the past two days, our first in the city, but I'll just hit you with the highlights...

The Good:

Will was a trooper and, along with his buddy Steve, unloaded all the furniture and unpacked about 3/4 of the boxes so when the kids and I arrived our apartment looked somewhat homelike. We are now almost all the way unpacked. I won't say organized because we are no where near that, but the boxes are pretty much all gone.

The apartment is bigger than expected. I think. Or maybe it's about what I expected. There are some really weird things about it that I'll chat about later but for the most part we brought just the right amount of stuff. Only one thing is being kicked to the curb and that was something we brought just in case it would fit, which it didn't, but it's no great loss.
Our neighborhood is lovely. Really, really lovely. With a teeny little "playgarden" right next to our building, two huge parks a five minute walk away (not counting Central Park which is about 7 minutes away) a small pocket garden around the corner and the beautiful grounds of St. John the Divine across the street, we really couldn't ask for a better spot in the city to call home. Also, at the end of our street - the public library and a Bubble Tea place. Man, Bubble Tea. Who knew? I'm addicted.

The kids are pretty happy. They are enjoying the neighborhood and the city and don't seem freaked out at all. But we do need to find some friends. Stat.

Will picked us up from the train in a town car. Very Mr. Big of him.


The Bad:

No dishwasher. Ugg. I know, I know, lots of people don't have a dishwasher. But you see, I've lived most of my married life without one and having one for the past four years has been, well. really wonderful. So I'm just ignoring the ever growing pile of dishes for now.

While the walls of the apartment are freshly painted, they are painted in a horrible yellowy beige color that makes us all look a little sick. I hate it. Will hates it. I think the cat even hates it. We can paint and I have a feeling that, once we are really settled, at least the living room will get a fresh coat. Because, yuck.
Our "First Day in New York" plans turned out to be a little too adventurous and we ended up walking way further than planned in the mid day heat. Thank goodness for a stroller and a rock star eight year old. It could have been much worse.

We seemed to have lost a box. And not just any box. The box with all my YARN in it!! Other than the project that I was working on on the train, everything is missing which is a little irritating. We're guessing that it got placed in the storage unit by accident. I hope so because it also had some small treasures tucked into the yarn for cushioning and my heart is breaking a little at the thought of all those memories (and all those stitches) lost. But on the up side, I now have a good excuse to order some yarn from here that I've been dying to try.

The unusual:

So far we have run across -

A man on the subway carrying a purse. Not a man bag. A purse. And very comfortable he looked with it too.

Another man with blue sparkly toenails. His girlfriend did not have painted toes, however. Maybe they ran out of polish after he did his.
A full mariachi band with instruments, hats and chaps playing in the subway car between stations.

A guy sitting in the park sipping tea and wearing a big black cape. Kinda hot for a cape. But whatever.


The wonderful:
Last night we went for an evening walk and couldn't help but notice a huge line wrapping around the block outside St. John the Divine. As it turned out, the New York Philharmonic was playing a free concert there. Not wanting to subject the patient crowd to two tired kids we wandered into the garden behind the church and found that they were piping the music outside as well. A few minutes later we were having a picnic (of Capri Sun, Pringle's and some interesting fried cheese pie things - it's what they had at the nearest shop) and listening to music while Evelyn treated us, and everyone else, to a spontaneous (and kind of hilarious) "ballet". The perfect end to our first day.

video

May 23, 2011

paring down and signing off (for a bit)

So this is where we are. Everything that's coming with us, with the exception of the mattresses and the couch and some odds and ends, all stacked and ready to go in the dining room. Pared down to as little as possible. Everything else is either in our very small but very tightly packed storage unit or has been sold or given away (Or is sitting in the living room waiting to be sold or given away)
Will thinks it looks like too little, I think it looks like too much but either way I guess we can deal with that when we get there, buying or finding more or chucking out to have less.

Yesterday we drove up to Washington DC to escape the packing and pick out the much coveted bunk beds plus a table for the office and some shelves for all those books that are stacked in boxes in our heap. While we were there we wandered though one of their sample apartments. You know the kind, where they set up a space with everything you need right down to the toilet paper (and all available to buy, of course). At 600 square feet, it should be about the same size as our apartment in the city. And while it seemed surprisingly spacious I cant help but wonder if that's more the magic of IKEA (short beds in the kids room, impossibly small shower) than it actually being spacious. So I'm kind of wondering just how it will feel once our books and tables and couches and chairs are in it. I guess, at this point, there's nothing to do but wait and see.
And we wont be waiting long. The house, fingers crossed that nothing stands in the way, closes on Friday, and by the time the papers are signed by everyone, Will will be picking up the keys to our new apartment and unloading our things. The kids and I head up Sunday on train. It's hard to believe that a week from now we will be New Yorkers. And carless. Actually, I'm so happy to be carless. Have you seen the price of gas? Sheesh!

New Yorkers.

Humm, that's going to take some getting used to.

I'm signing off for a week so that I can get all those last minute, call the internet company, withdraw the kids from school, pack the moving truck kind of details taken care of. See ya on the other side!

May 20, 2011

a good friday



I woke up this morning to find that we were out of both milk and coffee. Not a good way to start the day.(Someone was supposed to go get them last night before he went to bed but instead sang kareoke with his buddy until waaay too late) But then, a little grumpy and groggy, I went outside into the quiet cool morning to go get coffee and milk and saw this
and decided that it was a good start to the day after all.

Have a lovely Friday everyone!

May 18, 2011

peace in the animal kingdom

When I was, oh, probably not a lot older than Evie, someone gave me a copy of the book A Visit to William Blake's Inn. I loved it. I love it still. In fact, I'd show you a picture of my much cherished (and battered) copy, except it's in the box of must-go-to-New-York kids books. Along with everything Mo Williams ever wrote, because, hello? Pigeons! But back to Mr. Blake.
William Blake's Inn is the first book I remember falling into. My parents must have read it to me a thousand times. A million times. The art was dreamy but realistic and the poems spoke to me. Which is kind of amazing because I've never been much of a poetry person. If you will recall, the first poem I learned by heart was a favorite of my dad's.
When I was a little older, maybe eight or nine, my dad took me to an auction and I was thrilled to see that, amongst the china and silver, there was an old set of William Blake's Poems. I desperately wanted them. When I had a chance to look at them, however, I found that the only poem I recognized was The Tiger. My dad explained that the book I loved was mostly poems in the style of William Blake, rather than by William Blake. It was a little devastating. The set of books ended up being too expensive and so we went home without them, and I went back to my beloved fake Blake.

The poems in the book are beautiful, captivating, but I think it was the illustrations that really won me over as a kid. Lions and rabbits and cats and cows, and of course the Tiger. Because you can't have William Blake without a tiger. They walk together and curl up together to sleep, peaceful and happy. Growing up I happened to have a dog and cat like that. They snuggled in a heap in front of the wood stove and followed each other around. I thought that's how pets were supposed to be.
Since then, I have not had pets like that. They love me and I love them but they do not love each other. At all. Actually, I sometimes think that our dog, Nigella, does love our cat, Ella, she just loves her so much that she wants to eat the cats tail. Or maybe the cat just looks like an interesting snack. Ella is clearly not a fan of the dog, in the "I will never be in the same room as that thing" kind of way.

Until recently. I'm not sure if it's me spending a lot of time in bed or the boxes everywhere that have them on their best behavior, but my animals are being really, oddly, strangely nice to each other. Yesterday the dog was chowing down on her food and the cat walked over and sat down a few inches away. (This is very unusual, see the I won't be in the same room comment above) Weirder still, the dog stopped eating and the cat started eating. The dogs food. That's strange, right?

Then there is the bed thing. Nigella has recently started sleeping in our bed. Will isn't a big fan of this but since she hops up after we are asleep, it's kind of hard to stop it. Plus, I like it. She keeps my toes warm. But these days I've been waking up every morning to this.
So I guess, at least temporarily, there is peace in the animal kingdom of our house. And given the fact that everything else around here is in chaos, I'll take every little bit of peace I can.

Are your pets friends or foes?

May 17, 2011

couch potato fun

When I woke up yesterday morning I could not get myself out of bed. Much to my dismay, the headache and soreness of a few weeks ago was back and there way no way I was going to get up for the normal morning routine.
Poor Will. On top of the whole moving thing and the whole work thing, he's had this lame-o sick wife for the past few weeks who has been pretty useless a lot of the time. And he's taken it like a champ. Making dinner, cleaning the house, packing, dealing with kids. Totally without complaint. He deserves a medal. He really does. I don't think I'd be that patient with me. And when I tapped him on the shoulder all achy and wimpy he told me to go back to sleep and did the whole dressed/breakfast/lunch packed/on the bus thing on his own. My hero. Seriously.

Throughout the morning, while it rained (really, really loudly) outside and with the house all to myself, I had hoped to get a huge amount of packing done. But alas, I spent most of it laying on the bed or the couch or one of the kids beds staring at the boxes. Too freaking tired and feverish to do much else. And when Will brought Evie home from school at lunch and then had to go back to work, I was a little worried about what the afternoon would bring. Most of they toys are packed. All of the art supplies are boxed up and ready to go, as are the movies. Even if I had the energy to sit outside it was still raining crazy buckets. Our choices were looking pretty much like Netflix or Nextflix. Don't get me wrong, I love me some Netflix. But there is only so much Care Bears/ Strawberry Shortcake/ Rainbow Brite I can take.

Which is why I'd like to thank the recycling gods who came earlier than usual Monday morning, before I could take the huge pile of old Highlights magazines that I'd found while packing the living room over the weekend. Because boys howdy were they a life saver.
Remember Highlights? Well, it's still awesome. And it's are also not just Highlights anymore. We get an embarrassing array of Highlight magazines. It started when my grandmother gave the kids each a subscription for their birthdays a few years ago. Good old Highlights for Briton and High Five, the preschooler version, for Evie. The LOVED them. And then the "special offers" started coming. I'm not usually a sucker for special offers, especially when it comes to magazines. I have only had one magazine subscription in my life that wasn't a gift (Domino. Oh how I miss you. How I hate that my five year subscription got transferred to Glamour for some horrible reason. Do I look like someone who would subscribe to Glamour? NO, no I don't - no offense to Glamour subscribers, I wish I was fashionable like you, I'm just, not) But since my kids loved the originals, well, I decided to try one. And they loved that. So we got another (few). Currently we get Highlights, High Five, Mathmania, Hidden Playground and Puzzle Buzz with a few Puzzlemanias thrown in now and then.

We read them and do the puzzles and stick the stickers every month. But sometimes they all seem to arrive on the same day and I pile them up in a basket in our coffee table on slip them into one of the magazine file boxes in the mudroom. When I started clearing them out I realized we had A LOT of them.
Yesterday afternoon, Evie and I sat on the couch and found missed games and stickers, cut out a mini city and taped them onto moving boxes, made snowflakes and had a remarkably fun time given the fact that I kept dozing off. And we watched Care Bears too.

Needless to say, mama is back on gigantibiodics (Yay! Not!) And the pile o Highlights is staying put until the moving truck pulls away. And even then, they may go with us on the train. Because they are awesome. Just sayin.

How did you keep busy during this rainy, nasty week? Anything fun?

May 16, 2011

boxes, boxes EVERYWHERE

When we first bought this house we face many many challenges. Almost every single thing in it needed to be replaced, revamped, refinished or redone and over the past two years we've gotten, really, most of that taken care of. And we're pretty happy with the result. But one of the greatest challenges that this little house had was that it was so darn little. Coming in right around 1200 square feet (up 100 since we finished the mudroom) it's not a lot of house for two growing kids, tow active pets and two work at home, collect lots of things, always adding to the heap parents. As a result we've spent a lot of time and effort on storage. There are built-ins in almost every room. Shelves are built in (here, and here, and here), desks are built in, Dressers are parts of beds or shelves, things are tucked away and reconfigured and changed so that everything can have a place. It's one of my favorite things about this house.
The irony is, of course, that we have no storage to take with us. All of the bookshelves that we had before we moved in have been re-purposed into something or other in this house and cant be detached or moved. All the new shelving has been built in. So we have NADA. I have lots of bins and boxes that fit perfectly on shelves or under desks to keep us organized, but I have no shelves or desks to put them on or under. Which is a problem.

Because we haven't actually seen the space we will be living in, we can't really say what we will need, so packing and planning has been a bit of a crap shoot. We will be picking up some of the IKEA bookshelves that we used to create the built ins in the living room, because we know we will use them, for this next year and beyond. But other than that, well, I guess we will have to wait and see.

When we first started packing, the pre-putting-the-house-on-the-market packing, I had decided not to bring my books. I know most people don't obsessibly keep every book they have ever owned (I havent' really kept every book. I sometimes sell books, but that's only so I can buy more books, so it probably doesn't count) but I love my books. LOVE THEM. And this is the first time I've had room for (almost) all of them to be out. It's been wonderful. But I was willing to pack them all away (well, most of them, there were a few boxes that HAD to go) for the year. And then Will and I started looking at pictures from Apartment Therapy's Small Cool Contest for inspiration on relaly small space living and we both realized that all of the images we liked had one thing in common. Books. Lots and lots of books. So we decided that we would bring the books. Not all of them. But a lot of them. Most of them. (Yay!) Also, we found out that our apartment has an elevator. (But no AC. I'm going to die)

Where we will put them, well, that's obviously still up in the air. But now that we are packing in earnest (t minus ten days till moving truck arrives adn counting) I am much happier to be putting the books in boxes labeled "New York" rather than "Storage".

Even still. I hate packing.

It IS NOT my favorite or my best.

Back to the boxes....

May 12, 2011

two easy games

Evelyn has made that sudden leap into kindergarten readiness. A few weeks ago she had no interest in letter sounds or practicing her numbers and then suddenly it became all about Bob books and writing words and finding numbers.
It's well timed. Now that the crazy house prep is over I've been spending a chuck of each day getting things ready for the Great Homeschool Experiment so my mind is back in teacher mode. It's also nice to have her interested in a few quiet activities for my still tired afternoons. So this week we've been making some little learning games. Nothing too schooly or strenuous, just a few activities for my fascinated girl. I feel a little bad, actually. Second child guilt I guess. I was much better at this with Briton. This time around I've been a little, um, distracted by life, I guess. But I thought I would share.

Mini Word Books

When Briton was almost five, he had a great little spiral bound book that flipped this way and that to form different three letter words. It was one of his favorites and lived in my bag most of the time for grocery store or errand running entertainment (ah, yes, that's what I did pre-iphone!) And though all our book culling and moving, I've always kept it, knowing that eventually Evie would love it too. Predictably, however, now that she's ready, I can't find it anywhere. SO instead we've got the DIY version.
They are simple and can be made with any old paper, but I like cardstock because it holds up better. Fold a peice of paper in thirds and then cut a flap 1/3 of the way down on the top and bottom fold. Cut all the way to the fold line so that you can flip the sections individually.

Write a letter pair on the wider section and then fill in the three smaller flaps with a letter that makes it a word. Trust me, and do it in this order, otherwise you may end up with a flap that doesnt make an actual word. Then, using the first letters as a guide, write letter pairs or "word families" for the other two wider flaps. For our current cards the word families we used were 'est', 'ank', 'an', 'ag', 'ay', 'ill', 'ot' and 'ow' and then combined with consonents like 'n', 'r', 'b' and so on to make a good range of words. The nice part is that they are so simple and fast to make and yet you can just toss them in teh recycling bin when they have those words down and make new ones.

Number Eggs
I was cleaning out a closet on Monday and found the leftover plastic eggs from our Easter egg hunt. Normally I'd store them away for next year but I'm trying to reduce what goes into storage at the moment so had planned to send them to Goodwill when Evie asked to play with them. After watching her take them apart, put them together and then hide and find them over and over, I had the idea to add numbers to one half of the egg and corresponding dots to the other and make a number game of it. We've played it two ways. First I pulled them all apart and tossed them i a bowl for her to put back together. When she got bored of that I put them together wrong and hid them in the yard for her to find and then rematch. I'm afraid a few may still be out in the yard, but even with a few pieces missing, she's been highly entertained by it.

I'm forseeing the need for more of these types of games to get us through the summer. Any suggestions? What learning games do/did your kids love?

May 11, 2011

the easy peasy dress: a tutorial

I was feeling much better this weekend, thank goodness. Well enough to sew and then bake and then sew some more. Not all in the same day of course, but over the course of three, which considering that I was falling asleep every time I sat down for most of the last week and a half, is pretty good.
This dress what the first project. I'm not really sure I can technically say that I "sewed a dress" here, it's more a case of turning something into a dress. But I'll count it. And you should too.Because this is the EASIEST DRESS YOU CAN EVER MAKE. No, it's really that easy. If you know how to turn on your machine and press the pedal, you can make this. I saw an image on Pinterest and I'll be totally honest, I didn't even click through to the page with directions because just looking at the idea was enough, but to give credit where credit is due, I went there today, and she did it just about the same way as I did, except I didn't do the measuring part. I'll explain below.

Also, it's probably the cheapest dress you'll ever make too because you probably have three quarters of what you need in your house right now.

That would be:

A t-shirt (long enough to come to the knees of the person who will wear the dress - so Evie's was made form an old fittedish t of mine.
A sewing machine
Thread
Elastic thread

That's it my friends.

The shirt I was using happened to be striped and that made things a whole lot simpler. If you happen to have one to use, find the stripe that runs closest under the armpits as possible without actually crossing the stitching of the arm. If you don't have a striped shirt, no worries. Take a ruler and a pencil and draw a line across the front of the shirt just under the armpits and then repeat on the back. You only need the one line to get you started.

Take an empty bobbin and wind it with elastic thread. You'll want to do this by hand and with some tension, meaning wrap it tightly. I'm not sure if wrapping it tightly necessarily helps with the shirring (which is what this technique is called) but it helps to get the maximum amount of elastic thread on there as possible, and you'll need that. Don't let the idea of hand winding the bobbin scare you off, it only takes a minute.

Load your bobbin as you normally would and load the top of the machine with whatever color thread you want. Set your machine to the longest stitch length you can on a plain old straight stitch and line the needle up with that line, starting under one arm. Take a few stitches, back stitch and then sew all the way around the shirt on the line, back stitching at the other end.
Now, using that first line (see how it's starting to bunch a little? You want that!) Move the fabric down so that the needle is about 1/4 inch away from the line. Use your foot as a guide. The edge should line up with the first line you did. Now repeat. Keep sewing parallel lines until you have sewn about 3 inches of shirring. You may have to stop midway and re-load your bobbin. If you urn out mid row just back stitch over the spot where you ran out and keep going, although it's much easier if you check your bobbin after each row is finished so that you have a newly filled bobbin at the start of a row.

I also ran a row around the sleeves, same technique.
And that's it! Trim your threads and hand it off to your girl. Shirring is one of my favorite sewing tricks, especially when it comes to little girls and summer dresses. Once you have it down it's just about the easiest way to make tube tops and simple dresses but starting with a ready-made shirt makes it even faster.

Let me know if you try it! I'd love to see pics!

May 10, 2011

the best kind of laws

Briton's class at school has been hard at work on an economics unit that involves creating their own country and developing cities, economies and governments for their new land. When he brought home the giant map he creates I loved that all the places in his country are named after his friends. Cleoland and Hunter Valley, mountain ranges named after the boy who sits next to him, the ocean sharing a name with his teacher. It's very sweet.
Yesterday he brought home a list he had compiled about his "people". It starts with their needs versus their wants.

Needs: Family, Friends, Water, Food, Shelter.

Wants: Candy, Toys, Pets

I'm glad to see family as a need. And honestly, kinda surprised that toys are a want, I figured in a land populated by mostly 8 and 9 year-olds, toys would be a necessity.

Then we move onto the rules of the land. They are quite numerous, and almost all of them are funny in one way or another, but I'll just share a few of my favorites.

#1 No Slaves. - This one is written in all caps. I'm trying to decide if this is the first and most important rule because a) he has been learning about slavery or b) feels that, as an 8 year old under parental rule, he i a slave. I'm going to hope for the former.

# 2 Only solar power - That's my boy!

#8 No stealing from anyone, especially Ms. Busching's Chocolate - Ms. Busching is the G and T teacher at his school and is his favorite of all time teacher - and I'll tell ya what, I wouldn't want to steal her chocolate either. Strangely there is also #9 - No eating chocolate in front of Ms. Busching.

And finally my favorite- #4 No cooking endangered animals. - Because we wouldn't want that.

I'm thinking of framing these as the rules of the house.

I love kids. I mean, who needs TV when you find lists like this in their backpacks?

Anything funny coming from your kiddos these days?

May 8, 2011

an ode (of sorts) to motherhood

My first Mother's Day as a mom came when I was six months pregnant with Briton. Not technically a mother yet, I suppose, but close enough to count, I decided. I had all sorts of ideas in my head about what Mother's Day should be like. Peaceful and realizing and elegant and perfect. Which is strange because I'd spent plenty of Mother's Days with my own mother and they were never like that. But I guess pregnancy brain got the better of me and I had high expectations.
Will was just weeks away from his thesis project due date and had very little time to spare, so I set about planning my own Mother's Day Picnic. We were dirt poor. Will was still in school and I was an underpaid second year teacher; we couldn't really afford to spend a chunk of change on Mother's Day, but never the less I stocked up at the glorious (and pricy) deli at a local market and then headed to Target to buy picnic dishes, silverware and a blanket. Because it all needed to match. It all needed to be perfect.

Of course it wasn't perfect. By the time I'd shopped for everything I thought we needed and had picked up Will for the hour he had to spare from the day I was frustrated and angry and weepy. We were not supposed to be rushed. I was not supposed to do the planning This was not how it was supposed to be. Looking back I see the ridiculousness of my attitude. And I marvel at how Will managed to not smack me upside the head. But at that moment, it all seemed wrong.

How much I have learned since that day. I wish I could go back and shake (gently) the younger me out of that funk, tell her to enjoy the silence of a riverside picnic, not matter how quick, because soon enough being by a river, or near stairs, or in a car or anywhere, would be more about keeping the kids from falling in or down or out than it would be about enjoying a few minutes with good food and the man I love. But I'd also hug her, because I get it. Before kids, you think Motherhood will be perfect, and it is, but not that way you imagine.

Motherhood is messy. The other day I was holding the six month old baby boy of a friend. Her first. He spend most of the afternoon gnawing on my scarf, obviously enjoying the feeling of the knobby surface against his teething gums. My friend kept worrying, not over the baby, but over the scarf, telling me that she was sorry he was getting it wet. I kept thinking that baby drool was not the worst thing that has ever been on my clothes. It probably wasn't the worst thing that had been on my clothes that day, because, like I said, motherhood is messy.
And Mother's Day is messy, wonderfully so. Now a days, a perfect Mother's Day is feigning sleep while my children stand two feet away and whisper (loudly) about if it's time to give me my present. Or the feeling of a box being dropped, none to gently, on my stomach only to be snatched away by a different pair of hands who think that no, it's really not time. It's construction paper cards and funny paintings and running out to get milk before breakfast because a certain boy poured himself the last of it yesterday and then put the jug in the recycling bin without letting anyone know we were out. (But he gets points for recycling the jug instead of leaving it out on the counter).

I've been feeling a little nostalgic this week. Spending a lot of time in bed, exhausted but too sore to sleep, will do that I guess. My grandmother, my dad's mother, died 33 years ago on Friday, but even though we spent a mere nine months on earth together, she had a profound impact on my life, inspiring me from the beyond. I've been very lucky in my life to be mothered by a whole tribe of women. My aunties, who took me to museums and drove me around in their VW bugs and bought me ice cream and Barbies regardless of whether I was supposed to have them or not. And Grandma, my mom's mom, who taught me to sew and cook and make and who made me feel like I was the most important person in the world, even though I was one of many grandchildren.
And then there is my mom. I found a card yesterday (too late to mail it of course) that said "Even if she weren't my mother, I'd still go out of my way to be friends with her" which perfectly sums up how I feel about my mother. She has taught me more about motherhood by example than any book could ever do and I probably don't tell her enough how much she means to me. But she knows it anyway I bet. Because that's how mom's are. Still, just to make sure she does know it - I love you mom.

Happy Mother's Day everyone.

May 6, 2011

and we're back to dresses

Remember when Evelyn suddenly wanted to wear leggings all the time? Dresses were so OVER. It was skirts and leggings, shirts and leggings and occasionally dresses and leggings. But only certain dresses. Once I got the leggings pattern down, we were set. I stocked up. Skirts, tees and leggings. Done.
Yeah, well, we're back to dresses and nothing but dresses. There were tears this morning because she couldn't find a dress that was long enough to wear without leggings (because I haven't been buying dresses so they are all waaaaaayyyyy too short) Eventually we found an acceptable skirt and unicorn shirt but I can see that, before we start culling and packing the kids clothes, I'm going to need to stock up on at least a few dresses. Thank goodness Briton could care less what he wears. I'm not sure I could deal with two children who have to change their clothes three times before heading off to school. (Yes, mom, I know, it's just payback for all the clothes changing I did)
I'm so in the mood to sew but just don't seem to have the energy or time right now. So I think we'll be hitting Marshall's this weekend to get a few things to tide us over until I have some sewing time again. But until then, I've been collecting images on my Pinterest boards of dresses that I would like to make for her. Like this one. Or this. Or this, ok, really I want that one for me.

I realized the other day that I'm going to have to seriously pare down what we bring in terms of clothes. Ironically, we've worked really hard with this house to create as much built in storage as possible which means that we have almost nothing storage wise to bring with us. No dressers, no book shelves. nada. So we're going to have to buy a chest of drawers for the kids and also one for us, but they are going to have to be small to fit in our tiny little rooms, which means the amount of what we can bring is also going to have to be small. Plus, even though our budget will be tight, we'll be in NEW YORK. I'm sure there will be several clothing shopping outings. For Evie and for me. Oh darn.

May 4, 2011

simple and good

For Will's 30th birthday I took him on a surprise trip to Rome, which sounds glamorous and extravagant when I just say it like that. In reality, it was a very, very shoestring budget vacation. We were already living in Europe so we took advantage of some uber cheap Ryan Air flights and instead of staying in a hotel, I found a convent near St. Peters that rented out rooms. Yes, a convent. Run by Phillippino nuns. Which meant that the language barrier was quite something when it came to checking in and out.
Because we were a) on such a tight budget and b) had a toddler in tow, we didn't eat at very many restaurants. I can only recall one, actually. Instead we bought groceries at the little market across the street where the nuns shopped, stopped in delis and at Pizza windows or bought sandwiches from a lady down the street who had a small shop and who adopted us the first day, squeezing out cheeks and kissing us every time we passed. I've never eaten so well in my life. Honestly I could have spent the rest of my life eating foccicia hacked from giant slabs in the market bakery, fruit ripe to the point of bursting from greengrocers, and squash blossom pizza. And also salami sandwiches. Salami sandwiches made up a good percentage of our meals because Briton would eat salami by the pound and because it was easy to buy the ingredients, toss them in our bag and have them ready to go whenever we got hungry, a beautiful thing when you are travelling with a two year old. They were simple. Fresh bread, fresh mozzarella, torn apart with our fingers, and slices of spicy, buttery salami. Nothing else. Nothing needed.
I've been in a cooking funk lately. Too tired, too busy, too blah when it's humid to really be interested in standing in the kitchen. So we've been having a lot of really simple suppers here. Some of the time that means Mac and Cheese or Ramen, I'm not going to lie. But it's also mean grilled chicken and lettuce on naan or sliced steak (grilled again, I'm taking full advantage of the grill while I can!) on tostadas. Or Salami sandwiches. They aren't quite as good as those Roman meals. But I'm amazed at how wonderful a really really simple meal can be.
What's your favorite simple meal?

May 3, 2011

good, bad, happy, sad

I think life has never been quite as much as a roller coaster as it has been this last week. The move is falling into place more easily than I could ever have hoped, with very little effort (other than the crazed work schedule before the house went on the market) on our part. I'm not quite ready to talk about this house, don't want to count my chickens before they hatch, but I will say we aren't having to keep the house super tidy these days, which has been a big relief, particularly since I've been spending a lot of time on the couch or in bed over the past five days.
But on the New York end we are set, having very very luckily landed a 2 bedroom plus and office apartment a mere three blocks from Will's building on campus. We've seen the outside of the building, which is a very pretty "pre war" as the craigslist ads say, and is next to an old school fire station (which could be interesting, but we are up high so hopefully wont be too bad). The spot is a block from the library and sits right between two big parks so really, we couldn't have asked for more. Except maybe to see the inside. At the moment we only have a floor plan, which is not so bad when you're married to an architect who can scale little pieces of paper to match your furniture. This has allowed us to figure out, at least in theory, which of the things we have will fit and what we'll need to acquire. Now we are busy debating what the different rooms will be used for. Should we, for instance, give the largest room to the kids? Which would mean that we would need to switch down from a queen to a full size bed (Which I just realized that we have in our basement) or should we take the large room and put our desks in there and give the kids each a room. Or have them share and turn the study into a playroom/schoolroom. Decisions, decisions...I've been spending a lot of time with those little bits of paper, I tell ya.

So this is all good. Very, very good. And much stress has been relieved. But that means, of course, that we now have time to dwell a little more on what leaving means. Evie will not get on the school bus with her brother for the first day of school, spontaneous evening playdates won't just happen in our yard, kids running around putting on a "play" while parents drink a beer on the mudroom steps. Briton will not get to join the student council or the crossing guard as a fourth grader as he had planned. Friends, these friends, will not be a quick stroll up a quiet street away. Change is always hard, even when it's a good change.

And so, between rearranging little yellow squares of paper, dreaming up all the interesting things we can do with a new space, trying to decide how many boxes we need to pick up, adding to my stack of cool educational books and hearing my kids talk excitedly about all the things we will do in New York (and a lot of sleeping, because man this bug had got me good) I'm feeling a little heartbroken to leave my life behind. All part of moving, I know. But sad, never the less.

Still, under the sad, I'm getting excited. Now back to my yellow squares. Any brilliant idea about space configuration?