Friday, July 30, 2010

Old House, New House, Red House, Blue House

Old house: Air-conditioning units in the windows
New house: Central air!

Old house: Regular ceilings
New house: Cathedral ceilings

Old house: Dated dark yellow color from the 70s
New house: Pretty pale yellow color from '02

Old house: No laundry chutes
New house: Laundry chutes!

Old house: Surrounded by woods
New house: Surrounded by woods. I love woods!

The new house wins! Needless to say, I really like this house. We moved in this week, and although it's going to take awhile to fully get everything organized and settled, we're already feeling at home here in Iowa. This is a beautiful place. I miss the East and our family and friends very much, but I know this was a good move for us. And in other good news...two days before we left Connecticut last week, we got an offer on our house! It goes under contract today. Good-bye for good, old house!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Three Girls from Thailand

There they are!

When I was at the Elizabeth Park rose garden in West Hartford a few weeks ago, something neat happened. I was pushing Sam along in his stroller and taking pictures of the scenery when three pretty teenaged Asian girls got up from a bench and asked me in broken English to take a picture. I assumed they meant to take a picture of them, so I was really surprised when I (finally) understood that they each wanted to take a picture with ME. What the...?

That had never happened to me before. I felt kind of flattered. It was nice to feel unique and to be chosen as the token American to have a picture taken with. Living in the U.S., it's easy to forget that we're different-looking, acting, sounding, and dressing to the majority of the people in the world. As normal as we might feel sometimes, we're always interesting to people somewhere else. And the reverse is true--people in other countries are fascinating to me, but they probably don't think they're all that interesting.

I asked one of the girls where they were from and she said "Thailand." They took close-up pictures of Sam and when one of the girls had her picture taken with me she held my hand. It was the sweetest thing. I'd been feeling a little sorry for myself that day, with a big move coming up and my husband and older son both out of town. But those girls really brightened my day and my perspective. I'll never forget them. And I'll follow their example when I travel the world someday by having my picture taken with the "locals" too.

He is pretty cute if I do say so myself. I'd want to take his picture too. (So I did!)

Monday, July 26, 2010

Stop and Smell the Roses

On a warm and sunny Sunday afternoon a few weeks ago I had to get out of the house for a few hours because our realtor was holding an open house to try to sell the darn thing. It was just Sam and I because Peter and John were both away, so I decided to use the free time to go to Elizabeth Park in West Hartford. And once I was there I asked myself, Why did it take over four years of living just 20 minutes from here to go to this beautiful place? It's home to a rambling world-famous rose garden that is absolutely beautiful. Roses are my favorite flower, and I would have liked coming here often while we lived in Connecticut. So why didn't I?

The reason: I tend to be a Type-A personality who is naturally beholden to schedules and routines, time management, and to-do lists. There are benefits of being that way but there are downsides too. It has literally interfered with taking the time to stop and smell the roses. It took having no choice but to leave the house and break with routine for me to go to that lovely place. Going to the rose garden that day helped me to see that sometimes you just have to forget about time, schedules, and to-do lists and take an afternoon, a day, or a weekend to go out and do something fun, new, and refreshing.

The moral of the story: Nothing groundbreaking here, but it really is good to see and do new things. It's good for the soul, and it contributes to a happy and well-lived life. Let loose and live a little! That's my new motto. I've learned my lesson and I won't be making the same mistake in our new home. When I find out about good things to see and do around here, I'll make sure that we go out and do them. Schedules, shmedules. Well...up to a reasonable point that is!

A hybrid tea rose named "Summer Love"

It took awhile, but I finally found some classic red roses.

Pale pink roses are my favorite. They made up my wedding bouquet.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Brush with Fame

While I was on vacation at Cape Cod a few weeks ago, I received an e-mail from a newspaper reporter in Vancouver for The Globe & Mail, Canada's national newspaper. She wanted to talk to me! She'd been doing research for an article she was writing about trends in baby photography and she'd come across Sam's newborn baby pictures on my blog. She had already talked to some photographers and now she wanted to get the client's perspective. How cool is that? I thought it was very cool. So even though I'm a phone-phobic person (I hate not being able to see who I'm talking to), I gave her a call and we chatted for a few minutes. Despite the fact that I was inarticulate at times and said some dumb things (hey, my brain was on vacation too), it was a neat experience and it helped to renew my motivation to start blogging again. You never know who's out there looking at your blog and what it could lead to, even if it's something as simple as the possibility of being quoted in a newspaper article. Of course I have a blog for more important reasons than that, but there are some nice things that can happen when you put yourself out there.

Another cool thing: being a newspaper reporter, she liked the name of this blog, since it's a play on words of the well-known paper The Wall Street Journal. She said it was clever and catchy. I'd been thinking of changing it because I think it's kind of corny, but not anymore. I'm keeping it!

Thanks Sam!

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Return

I'm back! I've been missing from the blogosphere since St. Patrick's Day, which was almost four months ago. That's the longest blog-break I've ever taken. It was an unfortunate necessity because life has been so busy, and doing the blog thing would have meant I'd have been neglecting my kids or my house or getting four hours of sleep a night or something. But I've missed writing blog posts and reading those of my friends. So I'm trying to ease back in, though life continues to be busy and will get even more so in the next few weeks when we move halfway across the country. I'm looking forward to getting settled into the comfortable routines of life again, hopefully by fall.

What have I been up to? Here's a quick (well, relatively quick) month-by-month summary:


-We listed our house for sale. And four months's still on the market. Needless to say, this housing market isn't fun to sell in. It's been time-consuming to keep the house constantly clean and ready for people to come and look at it when I've had two kids and three pets to take care of and no husband to help (actually, the lack of husband makes it easier to keep the house clean in some ways. Ha ha.). So...anyone want to buy an almost 40-year-old 4-bedroom Dutch Colonial in the lovely woods of Connecticut? Please?

-Peter finished working at Prudential Financial, the company he'd worked for for all of his career, and started with his new company, Aegon (specifically Transamerica Capital Management), in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He moved out to Iowa at the end of March and has been coming home on average about every two weeks for long weekends. So I've been a single parent a lot of the time. Good times! Fortunately he loves the new job. It's keeping him busy and challenged, which I guess are good things when it comes to one's career, right?


-We spent a week in Orlando, Florida. We went to Disneyworld, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios, and spent some days taking it easy at our resort, which had fun pools that John loved spending hours in. It was a great vacation. I'm sure we'll be back in the years to come!

Disneyworld (stating the obvious)

Animal Kingdom

Hollywood Studios

The resort


-I went to Iowa for a week of house-hunting. We looked at over 40 houses (and many more than that online), and we found "the one." One of the stipulations for us moving to Iowa was that I got to choose the house. Fortunately for Peter my favorite was his favorite too. We put an offer in at the end of the week and they accepted it with no counter offer. Selling a house stinks, but buying right now is great! I love this house, the neighborhood, the town, and the school John will go to. I'll post some pictures of the house and our new surroundings after we move in.

Peter's "home" in Cedar Rapids for the last few months. Yay, Residence Inn!

Although I don't really want to move away from New England, I'm kind of excited about moving to a new part of the country. I've had six months to get used to the idea. It will be fun to see what life is like there (as long as life is good!). And Iowa really is a beautiful place. The area we're moving to looks a lot like the Northeast, just with a wider, more open sky. We're going to live minutes away from the University of Iowa, which brings a lot of culture and opportunity to the surrounding area. It's not at all just cornfields and farms and a few corporations scattered here and there like my admittedly prejudiced mind had thought.

Also...just minutes away from our house is the second-largest mall in Iowa!! It has a movie theater, a children's museum, an ice-skating rink, a carousel and children's play area, lots of restaurants, Target, Barnes & Noble, and many more of my favorite stores! Peter may come to regret moving us to Iowa.

-I lost a dear friend. My loyal dog Christy was with me for literally half of my life. I first held her in the palm of my hand when she was only a few days old when I was a 14-year-old freshman in high-school. She died ten days away from her fifteenth birthday, peacefully and naturally at home with me sitting by her side. I loved her so much and I miss her so much and I think about her every day. I know she's happy and healthy again, running around in heaven having so much fun, and that we'll be together again. That makes all the difference in dealing with this painful but temporary loss.

She loved rolling around in nice soft grass in the summer. Christy exemplified the concept of enjoying the simple pleasures of life.

-Also in May, John got chicken pox. Even though he'd been vaccinated. What's up with that?

-We brought our boys to Fenway Park for their first Boston Red Sox game. It was very fun, although John was more interested in his Spiderman balloon than the game. Sam was so good and charmed the sox off (ha ha) the people sitting behind us with his cuteness.

John and Uncle Nate (my brother)

This baby has me totally whipped.


-My niece Hayley, one of my most favorite people ever, graduated from high-school. We were all so proud of her. Now she's off to college next month!

Me, Hayley, and my sister Elizabeth

-John finished preschool. He starts kindergarten next month! Yikes!

-We vacationed for two weeks on Cape Cod. We went early this year because of the move. It was our sixth summer in a row going there and we'll continue to return each summer. The Cape is one of my most favorite places and someday I hope we'll own our own house there. As always, we had a wonderful time.

Can you see John?

Sam's first time at the ocean


-My parents beat us to it and sold their house. This is the house that's been our family's home for the past seventeen years in my hometown of Hopkinton, Massachusetts. I'm sad that I won't be able to come back to it. Over 4th of July weekend, I bade it a fond farewell.

-Moving preparations have consumed most of my time this month. Movers are coming to pack us up for two days next week, load everything onto a truck the day after that, and then on the morning of July 22nd we're leaving Connecticut and driving out to Iowa. Still haven't quite wrapped my mind around that, but it's going to be happening in ten days.

So that's been my life for the past few months. House-selling, house-hunting, solo-parenting, vacations, good times, difficult times. I'd like to add blogging in again because I enjoy it as a creative outlet and it's a fun way to keep my writing and editing skills up. It will probably continue to be spotty over the summer as we pack up, move out, and get settled, but please stay with me as I become a midwestern New Englander!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Book Review: The Manny

The MannyThe Manny by Holly Peterson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Upper-class chick lit that's set in Manhattan and written by professionally successful women who live and work there is a long-running favorite/weakness for me, and this book fit that bill. It was a fun read while I was on vacation and overall I liked it. I think the author meandered off-topic a lot, however, and the ethics behind many of the character's actions were definitely smarmy. There were some explicit scenes that pushed the book's quality level down for me. In the end it kind of all comes together, and I liked the ending more than I thought I would.

Book Review: All the Lovely Bad Ones

All the Lovely Bad Ones All the Lovely Bad Ones by Mary Downing Hahn

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Mary Downing Hahn was one of my favorite authors when I was younger. She writes really good ghost stories that used to scare the heck out of me. I hadn't read one of her books in a very long time; even though she writes for pre-teens, I still really like her books. This one did not disappoint: it had a great setting at an old inn in Vermont, genuine spookiness, humor, and history. I loved reading it!