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Posts Tagged ‘happiness’

The Year of the Tiger!

Posted by flsquared on February 22, 2010

This weekend, we decided to attend the “Biggest Chinese New Year Parade” in Manhattan.

Armed with a 15% off coupon, I traveled down to the BabiesRUS store in Union Square to check out the umbrella strollers.  It was about time we got one, and we would definitely need it for the subway ride.  As with any “big box” retailer (but especially with BRU), I immediately started to get overwhelmed with the choices and quickly slunk out without buying anything.

I perused the Union Square Greenmarket (and bought a huge bag of $1/lb local apples) to calm myself.

Then I went home and checked out Craigslist.

Lucky for me, I found a great used Maclaren Volo for $40.  SCORE!  (Oh, and by chatting with the woman selling the stroller, I made a new friend in Brooklyn!)

Bright and early Sunday afternoon, (40 degree, sunny weather!) we met some friends to see the dragons dancing and floats passing by.  I am kicking myself as I forgot my camera, but it was amazing!  The kids enjoyed the people watching, scooping up confetti and throwing it at each other, (I’m not sure how much they actually saw of the parade), and just seeing Mama and Papa happy.  We even popped into a crowded Dim Sum restaurant and stuffed ourselves while they ate and played with chopsticks.  We ended the day by going over to Union Square and hanging out at the playground (and buying a few bottles of “3 buck chuck” wine at TJs).  The subway ride was uneventful and I was actually able to carry the little guy up and down the stairs myself with the new, lightweight stroller.

After we had gave the kids dinner and put them to bed, my husband turned to me and said “What a great day!”  I totally agree.

For me, the best part about the day was exploring a new part of the city and seeing everyone have a good time.  Amazingly, there was no (well…, okay, very little) crying, fear of crowds, or explosive diapers.  Days like these bring our family closer and open the door for new events and experiences to further strengthen that bond.

Oh, and bill for the day?  $2.25 for the subway and $25 for 4 at the Dim Sum (and believe you me, the kids eat as much as I do!).  Not bad!

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Watching TV Linked to Higher Risk of Death

Posted by flsquared on January 13, 2010

Tuesday’s WSJ reported that Watching TV Linked to Higher Risk of Death.  According to the Australian study, watching 2-4 hours of TV/day increased your risk of death by 13%, and watching more than 4 hours increased it by 46%.  Wow.  They also specified cardiovascular disease:  watching TV for 4+ hours increased this risk by 80%.

The interesting part of this study is the solution.  The researchers don’t say that you need to participate in “hard core” exercise (in fact, the participants in the study averaged 30-45 minutes of exercise/day).

Instead, their worry is that becoming a couch potato reduces “incidental moving around”.  This goes for other sedentary activity (oxymoron, anyone?) such as surfing the net (duh!), reading a book (hmmm…), or taking the train to work (!).  After an entire day of inactivity, your HDL levels can fall 20%.  Wow.

Honestly, articles such as this one just reaffirm to me our decision to move to Manhattan.  Sure, we’re tearing our hair out trying to keep our bills down and we go a bit stir-crazy in such a small space during the winter, but perhaps that’s the point.  It makes us get creative and get moving.  We simply can’t afford the luxury of a huge place with luxuries that would entice us to stay in all day.  Even take out gets expensive so we hoof it over to the grocery store and the make our meal.  And you know what?  All of that movement and activity seems to make us happier!

Speaking of, I am going to sign off, bundle up the kids, and take advantage of the two whole hours of sunny 34 degree weather this afternoon!

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

Goodbye to the Family and Hello to 2010!

Posted by flsquared on January 9, 2010

Just 10 minutes ago, I closed the door and said goodbye to my inlaws.  They arrive and leave like a hurricane, bringing and taking with them so much emotion, noise, and activity.  And since they live in Spain, we don’t get to see them often.  They will be missed and we’re already counting the days until our next visit this spring or summer.

*sigh*

But on to 2010!

For me, 2009 was a tough year, filled with a lot of hard work, little sleep, sick kids, 3 apartment/city changes, new jobs, etc. etc.  I took theHolmes-Rahe Stress Test and scored a 320 just for last year! where a score of 300 puts you at risk of illness.  If you take the test as read (24 months) I score nearly 500.  Ouch.

Lucky for us, 2010 brings with it a year of stability:  my husband has started his new job, my eldest son has been accepted to a NYC preschool (no small feat!) beginning next fall, and my youngest is moving out of the baby stage, and into the toddler stage which I adore!  We love our new apartment and neighborhood, and have started to make some new friends.

I love to make resolutions with the new year.  It helps me gather my thoughts and set the tone for the next 365 days.  A few days ago, I reviewed my resolutions for 2009:

Theme:  Finish projects that I have started!
(Resolutions in no particular order)

1.  Knit a blanket for each of the kids and finish ours
Status:  I “outsourced” David’s blanket to my MIL (complete) and am 80% finished with Victor’s.  Our’s remains unchanged at about 70%.

2.  Organize our digital photos
Status:  unchanged

3.  Understand ipod and download music
Status:  spent a number of hours to figure out mac-ware (I’m a PC-girl) and downloaded a number of CDs to my ipod.  more to go!

4.  Camera:  take a class/read a book to take better photos
Status:  unchanged

5.  Read a book in Spanish
Status:  unchanged

6.  Read “The Name of the Rose” (long story!)
Status:  unchanged

7.  Organize photos/memorabilia into scrapbooks or whatever
Status:  5% organized

8.  Organize Recipes
Status:  15% organized

9.  Organize professional / social contacts
Status:  unchanged

10.  Organize email
Status:  50% organized

11.  Clean up info on old laptop and save to CD
Status:  95% complete (saved to flashdrive–need to transfer to CD)

12.  Study French
Status:  swapped 1 class

13.  Blog 2x/week
Status:  more or less….

As you can see, my completion rate hasn’t been so great.  Quite frankly, I think I underestimated how much time and energy two little creatures take out of you.  Add in all of our other major life events and I’m surprised I get anything done at all.

So my 2010 resolutions?  2009, Take 2!  The only additions will be:

14.  Keep up with monthly budget

15. Get caught up on pile o’ magazines/newspapers

16.  Begin to take over some responsibilities from my husband (paying bills, medical invoices, etc) in the 2nd half of the year.

17. Take time to enjoy my family, friends, and just be by myself. Live in and experience the moment!

Perhaps my accountability to you will help me complete these projects over the next year. I’ll keep in touch and let you know how it’s going!

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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 »

Simple Pleasures: Say Goodnight

Posted by flsquared on November 9, 2009

Last night, shortly after putting my 2 year old into bed, he called me back into the room.

I was surprised.  He has always been a good sleeper, rarely making a big fuss at bedtime.  I opened the door and walked back into the room, hoping it wouldn’t be one of those nights.

I sat on the floor by his bed and stroked his hair and whispered, “What’s up?  It’s time for bed.”

Smiling, “Mama!”

“Yes?  It’s time for bed, sweetheart.”

He looked at me for a moment.  “Victor happy.”

Until that point, it had been a normal day, nothing special.

Or so I had thought.

Upon hearing those two words, my heart filled, and I knew I would remember this day forever.

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More Simple Pleasures: Running in the Park

Posted by flsquared on October 29, 2009

After writing the previous post, I continued thinking about simple and fun activities that I used to do as a kid.

My mind wandered, and I remembered this scene from Friends with Phoebe running in the park.

Enjoy!

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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!

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