Mentally Moving

From “All over Albany”

Last night, talking to our neighbor friends we are going to miss like crazy, I realized that Amos and I are something of an anomaly in having moved so much.  They were asking us about packing, and we were telling them a little about where we are 8 days out from the move, and the way they reacted – like wow, you guys know how to pack! – made me think about our moving past.  Amos and I have lived together for eight years or so, and in that time we have moved 5, almost 6, times.  I know that I’m the one out of my high school friends who has strayed from our hometown the farthest, and that’s also true in my family.  Amos is different; growing up in St. Louis, having a huge graduating class, he just doesn’t talk about those people anymore.  When you have a close-knit group of 33, you tend to hold on a little more, even if you don’t see them much.

My rambling point is that I feel like a professional mover.  We know how to pack, really pack our things, so everything comes through undamaged.  We start packing weeks in advance to a system that allows us to use the necessities the longest and unpack in an orderly fashion.  Once we’re done, we break down all our boxes – all standard moving boxes, sturdy and stackable – and bundle them according to size (small, medium, large, dish pack, wardrobe).  Even as a child my family moved weirdly a lot.  We weren’t a military family, but we did have some reasons for moving on down the road.

Childhood moves:  7

Adult moves:  9

This move will be my 17th move, my 10th as an adult, my 4th with children, and my 1st that takes less than 12 hours of driving.  Those numbers feel ridiculous.  Each move has had a reason; as a child I was picked up and transplanted for some reason, although I’m not privy to them all, and our adult moves have all made sense, like this one does.  We are both weary of the nomadic life, picking up friends here and there, favorite restaurants and parks scattered all over the eastern half of the US.  That life is kind of fun, in seeing how different people are place to place (and they really are different, in subtle ways that you wouldn’t imagine would even BE changeable), but we would really love a house.  With a garden.  And a swing.

And so in moving back to NY, we are chasing that dream a little.  There we have people, we have parks and restaurants, and we are happy to revisit instead of readjust.  I know you can never step into the same stream twice, but it is at least comforting to recognize the scenery when you’re up to your knees in water.

Last Minute Visits

Grandma and grandpa are here from St. Louis!  Amos’s parents always take a vacation this time of year, sometimes to see us since we are never close to St. Louis, and this year they made it just in time to see New Jersey and NYC.  We have some fun stuff planned:  trip to Little Italy, maybe Princeton or Lambertville for antiques, swimming in the river, taking walks, watching movies.  It’s going to be a strangely relaxing week before our very last week here, during which we will be all aflutter with insane packing.  It’s really nice to have this break in the midst of packing and moving, though.  So happy they’re here!

This will probably be my last post before we get back to NY, where I hope to catch up on blogging.  Both girls will be away from home all day then, Hazel in preschool and Julia in daycare four days a week, so even though I’ll start classes again AND start hardcore working on my thesis (even though it’s not technically until spring), I will probably have more spare time in the day!  Funny how that works, right?

On the Road Again (and yet Again)

Now that all our stars are aligned, I can break the not-very-secret news:  we’re moving again, this time back to Utica, and this time for at least two years.  

When Amos left his job at SUNYIT for one in Athens, Alabama, to be near my family, they asked him to reconsider resigning and submit a leave of absence instead.  We did, for several reasons.  Then, after being offered this incredible job by Samsung in Kansas City, we just couldn’t say no, so we moved again.  A scarce six weeks into the position we were told that we would be moving to New Jersey by Thanksgiving, and at that point we had little choice. Now, for many, many reasons that all revolve around Amos being able to spend more time with the family, we have decided to head back to Utica and take up again at SUNYIT.  He is excited to be a professor again, working with students, and we are both excited that he will step off the fast track and be able to spend more time at home, be flexible again in scheduling.  I think we’re all relieved this is happening in the beauty of upstate New York instead of the crowded, broken streets of New Jersey (very sorry, NJ residents – I didn’t grow up with crowds like this, it feels alien to me!).

In some ways I feel like we’re regressing.  I mean, we’ll essentially be back where we were two years ago, except in a townhouse this time and with another baby.  I’ll start my last semester of classes at MSU, the girls will go to preschool and daycare, and Amos will be at school.  It’s very much like 2009.  Because I’m totally a Debbie Downer, even though I try not to be, I worry about this.  But I have to keep reminding myself this is not about moving back, but about making a conscious choice between two known variables.  And for several reasons we’re choosing the slower-paced life that his being a professor allows.    

Anyway, we are all so excited to be back in Clinton, NY.  That is truly a lovely little village, with lots of great friends that have been so helpful in our coming back, and we’re really excited to see everyone again at the end of this month.  In between we have some fun stuff coming up, too:  grandparents are visiting from St. Louis, Hazel’s having an early birthday party, water days start at preschool (bathing suits, water play, fun), and we’re going to NYC at least one more time, plus I’m going to see Jennifer Weiner read at Princeton Library!  Our place in NJ really does allow for some cool traveling opportunities, and we’re taking advantage of those before we head four hours north to our other Clinton.

June in New Jersey

It has been a while since I’ve posted, most directly as a result of my new site The Two R’s.  Here you’ll find my take on reading and writing (not so much the ‘rithmetic).  This is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, and with Amos’s help in setting up the site, I was finally able to make it happen.

But in the meantime, we have of course still been having lots of fun here in NJ on the weekends!  Recently we visited the Central Park Zoo in NYC, walked the galleries and used book shops in Lambertville, NJ, saw the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, played sprinklers and water sensory boxes in our swimsuits in the yard, and of course visited the awesome local farmer’s market every Sunday.  The girls and I like summer life, and we especially love it when it’s not 100+ degrees every day for six months out of the year.  I can take the recent heat wave that seems to be affecting almost the entire United States as long as that mess fades before Christmas.

For your viewing pleasure, and since I still have a folder marked “Edit These” with about 300 photos lingering on my desktop, here is Hazel singing a Parliament song (“I know what you can do / let me lay some funk on you”) and another of my big girl Julia walking like a boss at the park.

Short Version: Drive to Philly, Don’t Lose Your Mind

Today we took advantage of living in New Jersey and drove to Philadelphia.  Seriously, all anyone here talks about it how close we are to all this awesome stuff, but a lot of that awesome stuff is in NYC and Philly and not in New Jersey.  So, off we went, for my second visit to the city and everyone else’s first, to spend the day at the Franklin Institute.  Hands down, one of the best science centers I’ve ever been to; only a handful of exhibits were broken, and you all know the percentage is usually closer to 25% (or 100% if you’re talking about Cleveland, but that’s another story).  We pre-ordered tickets, so that meant we just sauntered up in there at 9:30 AM without waiting for a one person and started running through all the exhibits.  Seriously, it had a range of attractions that were only a little over our very precocious, mega genius almost-four-year-old’s head, so we really walked through every room of every floor, exploring everything.  After spending four hours between the three floors, we had a bit of lunch at the Foodworks (not too shabby, but very basic fare), touched everything in the gift shop, and headed home.  The drive was lovely, only partly on a highway, and the worst part of the day was  Jules throwing up in the backseat.  Luckily we were only 15 miles from home, and even more luckily she didn’t throw up again ever, so it was a calamity quickly dealt with.  You have to love a day trip with very little kids that begins with French toast bagels and coffee in the car and ends with steak and a nice cabernet sauvignon.  I mean, seriously – when is the last time you’ve been able to spend all day out with kids and still have time and nerves to grill out and pop a cork when you get home?  I usually never do!  If that is what a trip to Phila is like, then sign me up daily.

 

So This is New Jersey

It’s been so long since I updated, so much has happened, that I am just not going to spend all that time recalling, in minute detail, all the stuff we’ve been doing.  I mean, most of it is common to anyone who’s been moving, anyway!  So here’s one of my preferred numbered lists:

  1. We packed, we lived in a hotel for a week (kind of fun, having a staff of sweet maids who tucked in Hazel’s Corduroy every time they made her bed), and then we moved into our apartment and started unpacking.
  2. I unpacked a bunch of stuff we didn’t have out in KC (picture frames, decor stuff, too-small clothes from pre-pregnancy), sorted it, and repacked some things into a smaller number of boxes that are currently lining our garage.
  3. I sorted Christmas, put up our tree, and wrapped stuff.
  4. I’m applying to approximately 100 of the 1500 schools in this densely populated area that offer a MA in English, so I’ve been doing a lot of transcript uploading and statement of purpose writing.
  5. I’m studying for the GRE subject test in literature, so I unpacked a lot of dusty books from my undergrad years and I’m currently sneezing my way through An Introduction to Literary Theory.
  6. We are researching preschools and daycares, which is only slightly less logistically difficult (with one car) than teaching yourself to hang glide with a broken arm.
  7. Amos goes to work, does secret Samsung stuff we can’t talk about, and comes home, shell-shocked from the intense traffic.
  8. Hazel and Julia run and army crawl through their super huge room.  We gave them the bigger bedroom because the smaller one has a bigger closet.

And so there you go.  I haven’t been doing a whole lot of photo-taking, but I do plan on taking some of our place/this cute little town so all you interested family can see.  It’s a curious mix; we live on a rather busy road, but if we walk east about two blocks on some dirty, small, cracked-up sidewalks, we go across a gorgeous river on an old wrought iron bridge and can walk through a couple of blocks of cute shops housed in historic buildings.  AND there is a yarn shop there, with a sort of cutely curmudgeonly proprietor who took away my coffee because “we’ve had spills before.”  One day I’m going to be like that surly old bird.

Overall, though, I think we all like it here.  Now that we’re getting settled, too, I plan to be back blogging like before.  To send you off here’s a hilarious video of Julia discovering one of the snaps on her diaper.  In the background you can hear the wonderful sounds of Hazel whining because she pitched a slapping fit and got sent to her room, by herself, until bath time (she was sitting on her bed, amidst all her toys and books, but was totally miserable because she was segregated from the rest of the fam…ULTIMATE PUNISHMENT).

Double Blegh

We are moving in five days.  We found out about that date two days ago.

I am sick.  AGAIN.

Those two things in combination have been sucking up all my time.  Luckily, I don’t have to pack us; Samsung’s movers are taking care of the packing & moving & some of the bigger unpacking (like putting beds together, that kind of thing – and that’s no little thing for those bunk beds).  It’s all very corporate (and maybe a little creepy, if I think about it too long, but I’m not).  This weekend will be spent doing the things we like here for the last time, cleaning out the fridge, and packing our unmentionables.

My mom came to visit us last weekend, which was a fun time amidst all this moving blah blah.  I got a couple of nice pictures of her and the girls (mainly Hazel, since she’s the more not-sleeping-in-the-stroller type).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Halloween and Other News

I never thought that we would be so crazy busy after moving to Kansas City.  Maybe it’s because we dislike being in our tiny, beige apartment, or because we have never really lived in a big city all together before, but we are CONSTANTLY on the go.  These past couple of weeks have looked like this:  go to a new park 40 minutes away.  Get a super puking virus (AGAIN) and spend the next five days drinking diet cherry 7 Up (me) and Pedialyte (aka sick juice, Hazel).  Drive to STL, spend the weekend, drive back.  Act crazy all week, taking very long walks, going to the playground, and eating lots of Korean.  Aunt Laura visits, and we drag her all over the city to a park that has a giant penguin and an outlet mall.  Now we’re in the middle of another week of playgrounds, walking, and being outside while it’s still fall, and we’re going back to STL this weekend.  And the next.  And then after that my mom is visiting.  Seriously, could we be any more popular right now?

One thing we consistently do during the week is go to the story time at the library.  It’s small, and fun, and about a 3-block walk, so we all really enjoy it.  Today the librarian asked the kids to come dressed in their Halloween costumes.  So, unveiling Hazel’s 2011 costume, a creature that sprang fully formed from her own imagination (for the first time!):  a scary pink monster with white polka dots!  She was pretty excited about seeing herself all dressed up, and was even running around pretending to eat me!  We had fun at story time, and I know she’s looking forward to trick-or-treating this year.  She’s so ridiculously proud of the costume.  We let her tell us what she wanted to be, and then draw a picture of it, which was a super fun idea I highly recommend to other parents.

As if things in Kansas couldn’t get more hopping, I have some news.  We’re moving!  Again!  Across the country!  Again!  Can you believe it?  Aren’t we the movingest people you’ve ever met outside the military?!?!!?!!  I don’t know how many this is for Amos, but this will be the 16th time I’ve moved.  GAH!  Anyway, here’s how it happened:  important people want Amos in New Jersey.  Yep, that’s all it takes!  Plus we agreed, for lots of reasons, and so while I have really loved this city I am excited to live in that area.  It’s in Bridgewater, which is approximately 30 minutes from the shore and Ikea, 50 minutes from NYC, 1.5 hours from Philly, and 4 hours from Clinton.  We are spending Thanksgiving here, and immediately after we’re headed out.  That means we have a month left to explore the city and eat as much of Mr. Gyro’s as we can!!

City Farm

Oh, hello!

 

In this lovely city there are TONS of things for kids to do, so now that we are basically settled in I thought it high time we ventured out!  Amos and I do so much with the family on the weekends, but our weekdays have been limited to walkable things – story times at the library and bookstore, playground visits off the Tomahawk Trail that I love so much, that kind of thing.  Oh, and grocery shopping.  Taking one kid in a buggy and one strapped to you into Whole Foods in this yuppy neighborhood is something very close to running full tilt into the heat of battle.  Don’t let the $400 sunglasses fool you – these people will cut you for their free sample of 2-year-old cheddar.

Mining for gemstones

For our first big field trip, I chose Deanna Rose, a farmstead in the middle of Overland Park.  There’s all kinds of stuff there for kids – all kinds of animals, playgrounds, an old schoolhouse, gemstone mining, fishing pond, and so much other stuff we didn’t even get to.  During the week it’s free for everyone, and on the weekends it’s only $2 for

Windmill

adults and $1 for kids.  The best part for Hazel was feeding the goats.  I never would’ve thought my daughter, the same one who gets excited about washing her hands 88 times a day, would be into letting goats slurp crumbly pellets out of her hand, but she was so feeling it.  Jules and I were happy to watch her experiencing the world, interacting with kids and animals, and playing pretend in this huge botanical garden geared towards kids.

I took advantage of the free admission and did not plan a huge day; I brought no lunch, no snacks, and no expectations.  We stayed until it wasn’t fun for one of the girls, which was about 2 1/2 hours.  Then Jules demanded sleep, Hazel demanded food, and I was just happy we didn’t have to have a bathroom break there.  It was a totally fun day, one that I hope Hazel will remember.  Next week I think we’ll hit either the Botanical Gardens & Arboretum or the Children’s Museum.

funny girls

 

silly face ❤

 

 

"stop taking my pictuuuuuuuuure"

 

 

 

So, Kansas City.

When Amos told me that he had gotten an offer from Samsung, and that it was in Kansas City, I was not that excited.  As a child I dreamed of living in Maine, Oregon, or Washington.  In the third grade my class had to do these book reports on different states, and I fell in love with the glowing, green pictures and foggy coastlines of my state, which was Oregon.  When I met Amos, years later at college, I told his Yankee butt that I would, under no circumstances, leave the South, so he should get ready for a lifetime of sweet tea and sunburned toes.  Even after moving to New York I had this dream of raising my kids in the South, with all its idiosyncrasies that I understood so deeply.  I made myself far more miserable than necessary, honestly, by continually blaming New York for not being Alabama.  There was some merit; it’s hard living in an apartment that you never feel like calling home, knowing that you’ll be moving sooner or later.  And that move did come; after four years we packed up for Athens, with a baby, hopes for another one, and a far lesser job, both in prestige and salary, for Amos.  We were settling for that because we were settling where we wanted to be.

But all the dreams I had were broken when faced with the reality of the South.  After four years away, I was shocked by what I found.  I have always been liberally-minded, and because of that I never fit in with my peers.  I had friends, and I was friendly with lots of people, but those relationships included quite a bit of silence on my part.  I think gay people are natural and worthy of love, basic human rights, and care.  I think it’s fine to fall in love with people of a different color than you are.  I don’t believe in god.  I think women are undervalued, stereotyped, and pushed down, and I like being loud about it.  And those things don’t gel with the overriding cultural tone down there.  It hurts me to say it, because I love the South, but it was there, everyday, from all sides.  I’m cool with people being religious if they want to be, but thinking about all those other things affecting the girls as they grew up and figured out who they are and who they love took my breath away.  So when this job appeared Amos and I factored in these thoughts, and it was part of the reason we moved.  It wasn’t the coast, but it wasn’t Alabama, either.

Now that we’ve been here for a little while, I can tell you that this area is a mix of things we love.  There is a highly visible Catholic culture here, but it differs from the Southern Baptist in two major (for us) ways:  no one gasps and tells us about hell when we come out as atheists, and there seem to be more relaxed attitudes about diverse groups of all types here.  That’s what I’m talking about – peaceful coexistence.  It’s nice.

My point, in this rambling, personal exploration of our move, is that I should have trusted my third-grade self.  I was meant to love the South from a distance.  And Amos has promised me a Maine vacation sometime in our not-too-distant future.

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