Travel Photo Friday: Roadside Discovery

July 30, 2009

You never know what you will find when you take the back roads. Like an interesting collection of old military vehicles and a very impressed six year old boy.

Green Cove Springs, Florida

In addition to exploring the back roads, we highly recommend taking a dip in the Green Cove Springs pool (spring fed and very refreshing) or just have fun exploring the oak shaded park. The military museum was closed on the day we discovered it, but after getting home we found this information. More Friday Travel Photos here.

Jedi Birthday

A Stars Wars celebration for our favorite Jedi Dad inspired by our recent fascination/addiction to Star Wars Lego Wii (have I mentioned that we (ok,mostly me) have been staying up way too late playing this?). Noah spent most of the morning decorating the house with Stars Wars drawings and lego creations. Camille made some wonderful wrapping paper. And we all had fun making up a special birthday song using the Star Wars theme song. Happy Birthday, Adam...may the force be with you!

Taste Of Summer

July 27, 2009

How could we drive past this and not stop for a taste? Sweet, sticky, and very satisfying on a hot Florida day. More about Twistee Treats here.

Moving: Week 8

Our last full week in the States. A week in which we try to cram in more than is possible. Trying to visit our favorite spots one last time. Trying to visit places we always planned to see. And most challenging of all...the good-byes. Just like moving, the good-byes never seem to get any easier. Hate this part of rooting and uprooting every three years.

Changes Ahead

July 26, 2009

We aren't the only ones in transition these days. We have been finding lots of caterpillars lately. Monarch (above) and Black Swallowtail (below).

Travel Photo Friday: Lessons from a Three Year Old

July 24, 2009

This move has been a big deal for all of us, but especially for Camille. Just like when Noah was three and we were preparing to leave Japan, she is full of questions, anxieties, and wakes up each morning convinced that today is the day we will be arriving in Italy. Being three is a challenge in itself, being three and moving is even more challenging. Hard to explain such a strange and abstract concept to a little one who craves consistency and routine. Hard to prepare her for all that is ahead in the next few months. Hard to explain why someone else is living in her house. Hard to reassure her that her books and toys really will be waiting for her in Italy. Hard to explain that her favorite teacher and friends won't be waiting there but that she will make new ones.

And yet despite these challenges, there is a lot to be learned from a three year old in the process of moving overseas. Just as her temper can flare up in an instant, so can her enthusiasm. She can become so excited by what appear to be simple things but suddenly take on larger meaning to a three year old. I love how sincere and exuberant she can be. It's contagious and we need that right now. She notices things that the rest of us sometimes miss because we are moving too quickly or are looking up instead of down. She forces us to slow down our manic pace and reminds us to breathe and/or take naps (see above photo from one of our moving days).She is rapidly soaking up new information each day and processing it at warp speed. I have a hunch she will be speaking Italian more fluently and quickly than the rest of us. I am eager to see what her impressions will be of Sicily and her new surroundings. A three year old view of the world is fresh and free of filters. That's not found in most traveling companions. Moving and traveling internationally with a three year old is never boring, at times thrilling, requires lots of patience, and is always very memorable.

Moving: Week 7 (A reading list)

July 20, 2009

We survived last week. 4 days of moving trucks, some heavy thunderstorms, one car breaking down on a busy road, one call from the police about a break-in (all turned out fine), 2 days of frantically getting the house ready for renters, realizing that the movers forgot to open one cabinet, and finally turning over the keys to our renters. Needless to say it feels as if we are still exhaling (although poor Adam really hasn't had the chance to do that yet with his crazy work schedule).

And here's the strange thing about last week: in the midst of all that the chaos I read more than I have in weeks. Prior to last week I had been in another reading slump. Everything I picked up just didn't click. I am sure it was my distracted, stressed state. I just couldn't seem to finish anything or get into anything. Until I picked up Unaccustomed Earth. Those tasty chunks of stories sucked me in and offered the perfect escape from the stress. I enjoyed The Namesake, but these stories hit me in an even more profound way. Themes of transition, identity, crossing cultures, relationships (building/maintaining/ending), and just plain humanity are interwoven with a memorable mix of diverse characters. The perfect collection for moving.

I started making this blog list in my head a couple of weeks ago. I was focused on finding books for the kids related to moving. Checked out the library selections and picked our favorites, but then in the past week the list evolved to include what I was also reading. Felt so good to get out of that slump when I least expected it. So here's our list for any and all who might be moving in the near future:

The Berenstein Bears' Moving Day

Annabelle's Big Move
It's Moving Day
Alexander, Who's Not (Do You Hear Me? I mean It!) Going to Move
Piper Reed: Navy Brat
Leon and Bob

In addition to Lahiri's Unaccustomed Earth, I have also returned to two of my favorite mystery series. Both good beach/summer reads and as it turns out good for me in this moving state of mind (ie short attention span, craving escape, fun, adventure, and resolution):

Ayelet Waldmen's Mommy-Track Mysteries (also highly recommend her most recent work)

Laura Jow Rowland's Sano Ichiro series.

And one final recommendation: Material World: A Global Family Portrait. Nothing forces you to examine your "stuff" quite as much as moving...sorting through the clutter, dividing it up, packing it and finally watching it loaded up on the trucks. And just as moving gives you a unique glimpse at yourself via your belongings so does Material World. Intimate photos of families around the world with their belongings and images of their daily life. Truly fascinating for all ages.

Moving: Week Six

July 12, 2009

Movers come tomorrow (this pic was from our move three years ago). One set of movers will be here Monday and Tuesday for our shipment to Italy. Our belongings should arrive in Italy in September. Another set of movers will come on Wednesday to pick up the remaining items to be placed in storage for the next three years. Thursday and Friday will be spent cleaning and getting the house ready for the renters who move in next Saturday. A busy week, but there is finally some light at the end of the tunnel. Can't wait until next weekend when we can finally exhale. We'll have a couple more weeks here to say our good-byes, one final eye doc appointment for Noah, and to prepare for the next exciting stage of moving: arrival in Sicily. Signing off for now. Not sure when I'll have computer access again.

The Power of Oops: Roadside Transformations

July 9, 2009

A quick early morning post. In addition to the packing and sorting, we have been re-habbing several of my roadside/garage sale finds. It's been a tedious but very satisfying task. Really is amazing to see what some paint and new fabric can do in terms of transformation. I wish I had taken some before/after pics but I can barely find my brain much less my camera these days. Just wanted to post a couple of thoughts on this while I had a chance.

This post is confirmation that I am one step closer to turning into my mother. As a kid I swore I would never be late and I would never stop on the side of the road to check out new loot. Never say never, right? I now set my watch fast in attempt to be on time and I pull over to examine curbside furniture while my children groan in the backseat. And I now realize my mother is a master. I have learned to appreciate her eye for good finds and her creative methods of re-purposing. She was doing it before it was trendy and lucky for me she is willing to share her wisdom. Here are a few things she's taught me in the just the past few days:

-Always check the "oops" section of the paint area. Just as with roadside finds, someones mistake can be your $5 magic transformation. And even more satisfying than the newly painted bookshelf is hearing your husband utter those magic words: "wow, you were right".

- If you are attempting to paint two bookshelves, one large stool, one chair, and two small tables while also watching two small children, you will be taking lots of breaks. During those breaks, wrap your paint brushes (still with paint on them) in saran wrap and stick them in the freezer. When you are ready to return to painting, take them out of the freezer, defrost, and get back to painting. Truly a very quick and handy way to take painting breaks without having to do major clean up each time.

-Paint bookshelves lying down. Not you, the shelf. Do several coats on the inside shelves before standing it upright and painting the exterior sides and tops. Prevents dripping, easier on the back, and much less frustrating.

-Let your mother and husband do the upholstery work. They are much better at it. (ok, this wasn't one of her tips, it's mine).

-When feeling overwhelmed and unsure, take a break and get some inspiration. We headed over to the local museum a few nights ago to see the Gee's Bend Quilt Show . Amazing women, beautiful pieces of art, and the ultimate examples of re-purposing and renewal: very inspiring and motivating.

Ok, I hear some wild monkeys waking up. Headed to start another busy day. I'll try to post some pics of our hard work after we get settled in Sicily. Have any stories of favorite roadside finds or dramatic transformations? Any tips?

Moving: Week 5

July 7, 2009

It's crunch time. The movers and the renters will be arriving next week. The kids are bored, bickering like crazy, and watching too much tv. The house is in absolute chaos as we sort and separate everything we own: stuff going to Italy and stuff going to storage. And in the midst of all of this I decided we needed to paint and re-upholster all of the furniture I have been picking up on the side of the road or at garage sales. Why didn't I do this sooner? Since Noah's eyes are healing so well and since he is going a little bonkers at home I was able to sign him up for camp around the corner from our house. He will start today and I think that will be a very good thing. Camille will be spending some time with our neighbor who recently went through babysitter training and that will also be a good thing. Just too crazy for them and for me to have them in this pit of chaos and expect them to behave and be happy. What was I thinking? Note to self for future moves: sign the kids up for summer camp before and during moving week and no more surgeries right before moving.

Update: July 8th
Thank you, friends. It is stressful but just a few more days and this stage will all be done...that's my mantra this week!

Happy to report we were all much happier at the end of yesterday. Noah was made camper of the day on his very first day of camp. Camille is counting down to when she can "babysit" the girl next door...she seems to think she is the babysitter! My mom and I have been making progress. Just gotta keep going. Have I mentioned yet that I am a packrat and it is a good thing we move every three years? I can't imagine what this would be like if we had lived in one place for 20 years. Oh wait, actually I can. I have several good family examples of what that would be like. Another reason to work through this painful stage of moving. Ok, back to sorting, seperating, and dreaming of Sicily.

Travel Photo Friday: Sunrise, Sunset

July 3, 2009

Navarre Beach, Florida 2009
More of Photo Friday here.

Mama, Yoga, and Country Western Tunes

July 2, 2009

"Kick me in the head and pour urine on top": that's the country western title that came to me at 4 am as I was stewing over a very sleepless night. I am in a country music phase right now. Something about the summer heat makes me crave the old style country music that I fell in love with during that summer spent working on the ranch. Listening to the country legends radio station on my way to yoga this morning I had to laugh at myself. I am a weird little mix of things/interests. Sometimes it really hits the spot to hear those twangy sounds.Sometimes melancholy, sometimes funny (like this one from this morning),sometimes just plain comforting and sentimental. I guess all of the recent country music is having a strange impact on my brain because when I stomped around the house this morning in the wee hours, I fluctuated between coming up with country western song titles and wanting to give my children a taste of what they gave me all night: urine, bruises, and sleep deprivation. At some point both kids were in bed with us, both had accidents, Camille did a lot of kicking, and by the morning Adam and I somehow ended up sharing Noah's twin bed. I know bed wetting is not the typical material for a song, but seems like more mamas should be writing country western tunes. I think there is a good market for it. Perhaps there already is and I don't know about it because I spend too much time listening and loving Johnny Cash. I am trying to be empathetic. I know this is a rough time especially for the kids, but sleep deprivation is not helping any of us. Thank goodness for my mama, yoga, and country western music...that combo sounds like it could be a country song in the making, too.

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