Monthly Archives

May 2012

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Living with Less

“My life is just plain better than yours.  We have a 5 bedroom house with a yard and you live in a 1 bedroom apartment. Our monthly budget is $9,000 plus vacations and extras.”

Can you imagine someone saying that to you?  Comparing who has the better life because of housing size and how much money they make?  Do you compare yourself to others based on these things?

Longtime readers will know that our family
of 4 lives in an 800 sq ft one-bedroom NYC apartment.  Some of you (no doubt, many of you) probably think we are crazy.  Perhaps.  I can understand that.
It does sound a little crazy and admittedly, I never saw us happily living in such a small space.
When I was pregnant we looked at many larger apartments and found that bigger did not equal better.
We consciously made the decision to stay put.
My family is learning the art of living with less, acquiring only what we really need, living not just within our means but below it.
I wouldn’t call myself a minimalist by any means, but here we are, doing it and it’s working out quite well.

So I was shocked this past week when a ‘friend’ (and I use that term rather lightly as we were never really friends, haven’t truly spoken much in almost a decade and simply follow each other on FB) compared his (wife’s) salary and their suburban 5 bedroom home with a yard to my one bedroom NYC apartment.  He basically trashed the way we live and insinuated how much better his life was than mine–because of MONEY and his large house/yard (and it’s not like he even owns the house–it’s a rental–but urgh, never mind).
That’s when it occurred to me that there were probably many others out there judging me for how we are choosing to live.  He was trying to knock me down, to embarrass me.  (Why?  I don’t know.  He’s a crazy drunk.  I guess he was on a rampage and I got in his way).  Whatever his motives–it didn’t work.  I’ve never found my home to be embarrassing or depressive.  I love where we live.
We could move.  We could also afford to rent a 5 bedroom home if we chose (not in NYC).
If we really wanted to, we could get a 2 bedroom right around the corner or maybe even next door.

Instead we’ve chosen to focus on what really matters.  For me this is all about comfort and ease of living.  I don’t care not having a big house to clean or a yard to maintain.  I like how our small space forces me to (mostly) get rid of clutter and keep things organized.  We have everything we need within the walls of our small space.  I believe that if you have so much ‘stuff’ you need a storage unit, then you have too much that you really don’t need at all.  I love being in the center of a vibrant, walking city with a multitude of parks, museums, markets and restaurants all around me.  There are so many options for my kids each and every day and we never run out of fun things to do.

Our biggest goal is focusing on how to live with less in order to travel.  Not just a vacation here and there, but to really get away and travel.  We have been doing this before the twins were born and we wanted to keep on going with the boys.
For us, having a big house, the latest gadgets, an expensive wardrobe, a new car–is not where we find happiness.
Stuff and money is not going to buy me happiness.  In fact, since having kids we have downsized more than ever and I find myself constantly purging items and selling things we don’t really need/use.  Every time we come home from traveling, I take a look around and think “we have too much crap!”  My wife loves these moments!
Spending time with my wife and kids, experiencing the world together–that’s worth far more to me than any of the material ‘stuff’.

We all make our choices in life based on priorities.  For us, our priority is the ability to travel.
And so we choose to live with less in order to live fuller lives through travel.  I’m willing to sacrifice a bedroom for that.

If you want to get inspired to live with less, take a look at this TED talk, “Less Stuff, More Happiness”.  I love his vision!

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Nothing Say Summer Like a Seer Sucker Suit

I’m terribly behind in blogging–Chicken traveled for one week to the west coast, my mom came to visit and help out that week, the boys got sick, we all traveled upstate and some of us are still a little sick.
There.  All caught up.

Now, for photos of my darling duo with their new suits and haircuts.
Saved myself over $200 as I cut their hair and then my own!
(Apologies for the crap quality.  Taken with an iPhone as I forgot my Canon G10).

 

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Lazy Days in Caribbean Costa Rica

March–

We had quite a few rainy days in CR. It rained almost every day at some point, which was fine, but the days where it rained nonstop made us all a bit crazy and desperate.
Of course, it made it a bit more entertaining to photo document a day like that:



We would spend a good portion of the day looking for crabs from the living room window or balcony. Huge blue land crabs lived all over our yard and provided hours of entertainment.



Looking for crabs never gets old.



Well, maybe it does get old. After running out of things to do, I resort to letting them give me a mani/pedi.



Finally stopped raining! Let’s get to the beach!



Someone has stick envy.

Walking past the surf point in Cochles.



Not toddler friendly at all on this stretch.



But… We have found a secret place!



It’s a river flow to the sea. With all of the rain it’s great fun. Some days it’s barely a trickle.



Sliding down the embankment and poking things with sticks.



Joy. Big stick. Usually it’s clothing optional but that day it was a little chilly.

Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

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I Want Big Bed

Grunter is ahead of his brother when it comes to language and always has been.  W2 is catching up, but these days it really is all about the funny things Grunter is saying.

Tonight in the dark as I was saying night night:

“I want different bed.”
“What kind of bed?”

“Like Mommy, Mama bed.”
“A big bed?  On the floor?”
“Yeah.  With covers.  And pillows.”
“Well, we can do that.  But not right now.  Right now you have your crib.  Someday you’ll be too big for your crib and then we can get you a different bed.  But now you are still a baby and so you have a crib to sleep in.”

Currently, this ‘baby’ thing works really well for them because they both ask me multiple times a day if they are a baby with W2 wanting a lot of reassurance that he is MY baby.
“I Mommy’s baby?” he asks while pointing to himself with an almost anxious furrowed brow.
“Yes, you are my baby,” as I pull him close.
If you are to ask either one of them if they want to be big boys or babies, they will say babies.
Fine by me.

“Blue. Blue. Blue.”
“Blue?”
“I get new bed with blue.”
“Oh, you want it to be blue sheets.”
“Yeah.  Blue covers.  And froggy pillow.”
“A froggy pillow.  OK.  Do you want some other things, like fish or boats or crabs or turtles?”
“Yeah.  Yeah!  Let’s do it!  Let’s do it, people!  Let’s do it, Mommy!”

They are staying contained in their cribs for as long as humanly possible.  While I would much rather be done with the cribs and design their room for them, I also want to remain sane.  If I just had one, I’d say OK, let’s say goodbye to the crib.  But with two.  Oh, with two, everything changes.
I am not ready to have naps dissolve into chaos with them playing and running and deliriously destroying the room–uh, actually that goes for nighttime as well.
Chicken’s ‘office’ is in their room which presents another problem.  We have 2 dressers, 2 bookshelves, files, a rolling chair, and a tall shelf in there.  The room is not exactly ‘toddler-proof-able’.  And we have never had a monitor, video or otherwise.
So, when they are let loose, it’s going to be insane for awhile I’m quite sure.

They know how to climb out of the crib.  I know they can do it.  But they’ve never actually done it.  I see them put that leg over and give my “don’t you dare” look (which is also a “Don’t f*uck with Mommy” look) and that with a little “uh uh uh” is usually all it takes.  We have also lectured them for over a year about how dangerous it is for them to try to climb out and what could happen.  Yeah, we’ve tried to keep them in by using fear, I guess.  Whatever works.

Ah, it’s almost 8:30 and I can still hear them in there singing “All Aboard the Choo Choo Train!”
I can’t even imagine if they were given the freedom to sing and dance together with no crib bars.

Off to look for froggy pillows.  Maybe then they’ll stop asking questions!

When did you move your twins to big beds?  How was it?

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"I Do It" Encouraging Independence in Toddlers

One of the things that we’ve struggled with is fostering independence with our twins.  They’ve had two parents right there with them, their entire life, every single day.  It’s a rarity in today’s world (maybe in any world?) and while it’s been wonderful to give them so much individual attention, it has also had drawbacks.

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Teaching Toddlers Days of the Week

In my home we don’t have strictly set schedules, but we do have a natural rhythm of the day.  This has come about more or less organically as I’ve allowed the twins to explore the best times for them to play/eat/sleep rather than set my own schedule and make them
work around it.  Since we don’t have many places we must be, this works well and harnesses their energy at the right time.
Taking all that into consideration, we do have set days for shopping, church, nanny, art class, playdates, etc.

I found around age 2 my boys were suddenly very interested in ‘when’ things were going to happen.  They didn’t have the concept of ‘time’ and ‘days’.  I’m not sure they even quite grasped ‘tomorrow’ but I knew they were very curious about these things and sometimes getting frustrated at not knowing what was going to happen next.
I came up with the idea of creating a monthly calendar art project.  I used a big piece of poster board and after making the lines and writing  the days of the week, I enlisted their help to color it with markers and crayons.  They weren’t much interested in this aspect of beautification–yet, but they jumped on the idea of stickers.

Together we decided which stickers would represent the:

  • Days we went grocery shopping (easy, since TJ’s gives out stickers!)
  • Church (safari animals as they have giant stuffed animals in their kid class)
  • Days Mama had to travel (a frog!)

We also designed a special symbol for the days the nanny came, drew a pizza for the day we planned a pizza making play date, wrote the word ZOO and ART (which they can now identify) for the days of their art classes and special trips and found stickers/drew symbols for any misc activities.

Our first monthly calendar was in February–the month we were leaving for Costa Rica.  I taped the calendar right by the table so they had many chances to look at it and study it.  It was a huge success as every morning I would get the big black marker and “X” out the previous day as we counted down the days until we got on the airplane (a very poorly drawn airplane as we could not find a sticker).
That month I could really tell a difference as we prepared for the day.  They could look at the calendar and know what was happening that day and see what was in the future.

Two months later, they have become much more verbal and can now tell me the exact days the nanny comes, that we go to church (Some Day!), shopping, etc.
While I didn’t ‘teach’ them (as in drilling or reading a book) the days of the week, they learned it simply through using the calendar as a daily tool.

Last night I found Grunter looking at a photo of his cousin.  He knows we are going upstate for a family visit this month.  He looked up at me and said, “I go choo choo train.  Cousin (name) two weeks.”  He may not know exactly how long two weeks is, but he certainly is paying attention to the countdown!
I’m so proud of them and how much they are learning.

I think next month’s calendar will be in English and Spanish…

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Hunting for Chonies (Underwear)

I really need to do a big write-up on how our potty training is going (or rather did not go in Costa Rica).
But I’m thinking that showing the boys real chonies might motivate them more.
Maybe?
Anyway….where do you buy little boy underwear??
This is the cutest stuff I’ve found.  I love their clothes so it’s no surprise that I love their chonies.

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34 Weeks Pregnant with B/G Twins–Update from Amsterdam

A long time ago, I asked your advice for a friend of mine.  After trying to conceive for years and enduring miscarriages, failed IVF’s and FET’s–she finally did an FET and is pregnant with b/g twins.  She had received a bad N/T scan for one of her twins and was very scared.
Since then, she went on to do an amnio and
everything tested clear. Whew.

However, she has had scares on and off.  She was having a very “easy-ish” twin pregnancy–continued working, playing shows in her band, doing yoga–but around 29 weeks her cervix had shortened dangerously.  She was admitted to the hospital.  Then released home for modified bed rest.  Admitted again.  Released.
Then they found problems with the placenta for the boy (all of the worries seem to be on the boy, he is growing slower) and that’s it, she is in the hospital on bed rest for the remainder of the pregnancy.
I have been checking off the weeks and cheering her on with every milestone.
Tomorrow she is 34 weeks!!!
Her doctors had said they would probably deliver soon after 34 weeks because of the problems.
Of course she is hoping to hang on to at least 36 weeks.

She and her husband live far away in the Netherlands with no friends/family around.  It’s scary enough thinking about how you are going to handle newborn twins, but she’s also had the added worry of the health of her baby/babies and is extremely nervous about the birth.

We’ll know more tomorrow, but in the meantime please send my friend, Kataleena, some love, prayers and well wishes.
I love you Chica and think about you and the babies every single day.

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Just Another Rainy Day Walk

There’s been a lot of rain here this week and the boys are thrilled to be able to wear their rain boots and coats every day.  I am not so thrilled as I’m not the biggest fan of chilly, rainy weather…but they are damn cute in their rain gear.
This season brings a lot of construction in our neighborhood and they gear up the grounds for summer. For the boys, that means getting to watch lots of diggers, tractors and shoveling.  Much better than TV and hours of entertainment!
No matter how many activities I try to plan, I cannot keep these boys inside a full day.  Scratch that, I can’t keep them inside even a half day.  Trust me, I tried yesterday and by 10am, they were riot mode yelling, “Out!”.  And so out we went.  And it was good.
They keep me from being a hermit on a chilly, rainy day.
And they are really cute (new haircuts!).

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Kids Say the Cutest Things

Whoop Whoop is passionate.  Oh my goodness that boy is bursting with energy, love, joy and passion. He smiles most of the day and easily breaks out in giggles and shrieks.  It’s hard not to smile when you are around him.  But when he’s really excited and/or tired, he bites.
It’s not a mean thing or an aggressive thing.  He hugs you and he may bite you.  Yesterday he was hugging the pillow and bit a hole in the pillowcase.  He has bitten a hole in my shirt.  We think he just gets so overwhelmed with his enormous amount of passion that he has to release it.
But it hurts.

Last night, he was having one of his moments in the crib where you just knew if you went in for the hug you would risk being bitten.  But oh, it would be a great hug.  The tightest hug and his entire body would tremble and shake because he has such strong feelings.
I said to him, “Whoop Whoop, I really want to give you a good night hug and kiss but I don’t want you to bite me.  It scares Mommy when you bite me.  It hurts.”
From the dim darkness I heard a little voice pipe up, “I wuf you, Mommy.  Don’t be scared.  I won’t bite you.”
And there is Grunter, arms outstretched over the crib railing reaching towards me.  I turned to pick him up and got the most precious hugs and kisses from him as he told me over and over that he loved me.
Could it get any better than that?
Just then I hear W2, “I wub you, Mommy.  I no bite.  I wub you.”
Melt.

Sweet, sweet little boys.