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Archive for the ‘philosophy’ Category

New Year’s Challenge: Live Life Like in the 1980s

Posted by flsquared on December 28, 2009

First of all, I hope everyone had a fantastic holiday!   With my inlaws in town for a few weeks, I have been doing my best to stay off of the computer and just enjoy my family.  I did get an itch today to write a bit on the blog so here I am.

Recently, one of my friends posted this article to Facebook: 7 Reasons the 21st Century is Making You Miserable. With a title like that, how can you not check it out?  It was a fantastic article, and one I hope to not just learn from, but act upon.

Until having moved here, I thought that the average New Yorker would have more interaction with people than those living in the ‘burbs.  After all, just the act of leaving the apartment brings you in contact with people.  Now I know that my assumptions couldn’t have been more wrong!  I have been floored at the number of services that you can receive without leaving your house:  the internet brings groceries and take out to your door, a phone call will pick up and deliver your laundry, a doorman will even bring your packages to your apartment so you don’t have to sign for them.

It is all to easy to stay in the comfort zone of texting instead of calling, sending emails instead of stopping by to visit with someone, or even writing on someone’s wall instead of sending a email or *gasp* a card in the mail.  It’s easier to send a check in the mail to a charity (especially since many times it seems like they’d rather have the cash) than donating an hour of your time and service.  Why risk feeling awkward?  Why risk having a “real” conversation and someone finding out that we are not so clever in person as we are over email and 140 character length twitter updates?

Of the entire article, I believe that #4 most rang true for me.  When I first joined Facebook, I was excited to re-connect with many old friends and classmates.  I had moved from Maryland to Florida when I was 12 (a horrible time for a dramatic change for a girl, made worse as even long distance calling was prohibitive for my family, not to mention airplane flights) and I always wondered what had happened to my childhood friends.  However, after a bit, reading the updates and writing some of my own, I realized that nothing had changed–we all still had our own lives and we were not “friends” but more a curiosity.  It would take more effort than a few emails to reconnect, and the friendships would have to start from zero.   Uff!  But that is just too much effort!

My challenge to myself (and you!) is to get out of your comfort zone:  Turn off the computer and TV, stop texting and get out!  Make personal contact with people, no matter how strange it may feel.  Drop by at a friend’s house and have a conversation.  Ask a neighbor for some sugar and bring them some cookies in return.  Take a walk and notice the people that you pass.  Volunteer at a soup kitchen.  Don’t avoid the annoying guy.  You may surprise yourself with how good human contact makes you feel.


Posted in activity, challenge, environment, happiness, philosophy, simple living | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

The Battle of the Laptop (or how to keep the focus on the kids)

Posted by flsquared on November 18, 2009

Toddlers are exhausting.  They have endless sources of energy and fear nothing.  No matter where they are or what they are doing, they always seem to find exactly what they should not touch, and put it directly in their mouths.  Or what they should not climb, and not only climb it, but try to jump off….head first!  Just physically and mentally exhausting.

I remember reading an article sometime last year that one of the reasons that Facebook is so popular with new moms is that it allows you to catch up with friends (or at least read their status updates) in 30 second increments.  Which is approximately the free time you have after re-directing your baby from climbing up onto the dining room table to eating the TV cable.

The problem with these 30 second intervals is that they become addictive.  First, you are reading an email or two every few hours, and slowly but surely you are creeping over to check for any sort of outside stimulation every 10 or 15 minutes.

What I have found is that when this happens, I start watching the clock as the day passes so very slowly, the kids are cranky and vocal (read:  crying, tantrums) for attention, and there really aren’t that many interesting FB updates, emails, or blogs to read.  (At least ones that you can intelligently digest in 20 seconds or less).

Instead, when the laptop is out of sight, the kids and I (and my husband, if he his home) spend quality time together and enjoy it all the more. I focus 100% on them (okay, 90%), instead of stealing glances at the inbox, and have a great time.  And time just seems to fly by.

So why does that pesky laptop seem to migrate to our dining room table more often than not?  Easy.  There are things to do: emails to answer, plans to make, weather forecasts to check, library books to renew, etc.

My new challenge to my husband and I is to put focus back on the family.  I challenge us to keep the laptop out of the common area during all but 2 hours/day, while the kids are awake.  Believe me, this will be tough for us.  And I have yet to break the news to hubby.

I will let you know how it goes.  Wish us luck!

In the meantime, I would love to hear how you minimize distractions in common areas of your house.  How do you keep your family tuned in to each other during family time?

Posted in activity, baby, challenge, family, happiness, philosophy, simple living, toddler | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

10 Simple Pleasures for Fall Weather

Posted by flsquared on October 27, 2009

Oftentimes I find myself tuned in to a schedule or things that I (we) should be doing instead of just doing.  This morning I took a moment to sit back and watch my children play.  I don’t do this enough.

I was lucky as it was in this very moment that my sons started doing something so beautiful.  My 2 year old was twirling (or dancing, as he likes to call it) and my 1 year old was cheering him on, clapping and smiling.

I was witnessing pure joy.

As I watched them, I started to think about how our lives get so complicated and how this joy becomes more and more clouded over time.  Martha Beck, in her book Finding Your Own North Star, speaks to the conflict between our “Essential Self” (my pure-loving children) and our “Social Self” (my well-behaved children).  Her book asks some fantastically deep questions (I would often ponder these for days before being able to answer) that lead to the re-discovery of your inner-child…ahem, “Essential Self”.

But this blog post isn’t about my self analysis.

This morning, my children inspired me to think about some of my simple pleasures during the fall season.  Here goes:

1.  Waking up to the cool, crisp air while waiting for coffee to brew.
2.  Taking a walk in the park and watching the colored leaves fall from the trees.  I just love the autumn colors!
3.  Unpacking my sweaters and light jackets (I love love love sweater weather!) and putting them into our dresser.
4.  Sitting in a coffee shop, or on my sofa, and knitting.
5.  One pot meals and soups and stews!  mmmmmmm….
6.  Sitting on the terrace, drinking a hot tea or citron presse, and reading.
7.  Cuddling up with my husband under a blanket to watch a movie.
8.  When the coffee shops start the fireplace going (I wonder if they do that here?).
9.  Slowing down and spending more time at home with family and friends.
10.  Bundling under the covers for just 5 more minutes of sleep!


Posted in activity, family, frugal, philosophy, simple living | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

My Philosophy on Saving Money

Posted by flsquared on February 23, 2009

Rule #1:  Prioritize.  Know what is important to you and your family.
My husband is Spanish.  When you visit Spain and talk to the “natives”, you will be asked two questions: Do you like Spain?  and Do you like Spanish food?

Our priority, when we were first married, was to always eat well.  Now, this doesn’t mean champagne and caviar every night, but when we ate, we would eat a good, healthy, variety of food.  Food is a priority for us.

When we had our boys, safety and medical care became our priorities as well.  I never scrimp when it comes to buying a carseat or will ever again look for an apartment in a sketchy area.  And, as they get older, education will be another priority.

Rule #2:  Use common sense.  
I watched the news the other night and there was a special segment dedicated to saving money during this tough economy.  Tips included:  

  • if you use coupons, try to go to stores that double or triple them.
  • combine errands and carpool to save gas.
  • check books out of the library.
really?  this is news?

Rule #3:  Live simply.  Don’t spend money if you don’t need to!
This should probably fit under #2, but it is important.  Your family needs your time and attention, not stuff.  Try to enjoy each other.  

This will also lead to needing a smaller living space (which, in turn, will lower heating and cooling bills, etc)…

Rule #4:  Spend well.  Know when to invest in quality and know when to purchase “throw-aways”.
There are times when you need to spend.  After all, who needs to cut themselves on cheap knives or waste money on a classic cardigan that pills the first time you throw it in the wash?

On the other hand, there are times when it’s easier to throw away a juice box than to lug around an empty sippy all afternoon, hoping it doesn’t stain everything in your diaper bag.

I can’t say that I’m perfect, but I try to keep these rules in mind to help our family spend our money as wisely as we can.


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