Greetings From Florence.

September 15, 2013

Well hello!  There is so much to get caught up on.  I've been busy posting some of the pretty bits of our trip on Instagram, but of course that's never the whole story.  As much as I love trying to capture the beautiful, the cute, the delicious, I want to share more than that.  I am a seeker of truth after all....the good, the bad and the ugly!

We came to Italy to fulfill a dream that B and I have shared since our very first conversation more than 11 years ago.  The dream was living abroad, in Italy to be precise.  Italy was a love of both of ours separately. Neither of us are Italian in blood, but we both feel Italian in our souls I guess you could say.  We had both lived in Italy before (separately) and studied the language (he is far more advanced than I).  And when we had kids, the desire to come here didn't go away, it just changed to include them.  So, earlier this year, after a rather soul-crushing legal matter that B worked on (all turned out well, it was just a difficult process), B came home and said Let's Just Do It.  I hemmed and hawed for about a week, because that is just what I do (it is in my blood) and then I woke up on a Tuesday and said Of Course We Are Going To Do This Thing!!

There was lots of planning and researching and trips to Italian Consulates and such, and if I was more like Design Mom, I would lay all the how-to's out there for you (heck, maybe I will do that one of these days if there is interest) but right now I just want to talk about right now.  And the right now is about the kids starting school tomorrow.

Our trip has always centered around the kids attending school here in Italy.  We have this (arguably overly) romantic idea of our kids loving Italy as much as we do and more importantly, speaking the language because come on how cute would the kids be speaking the language.  Come on.  And no, they are not going to an international school or an English language school.  They are going full immersion, people.  Which I love the idea of and I am terrible frightened of as well.  Fortunately, they are attending a Waldorf/Steiner school here in Florence.  The idea is the curriculum and style and environment will be familiar to them.  And we feel good knowing they will be with loving and capable teachers.

I looked at my kids for a long time tonight after they fell asleep (it's so cute, we have them all in one room), and I felt a new feeling for them I think.  I am used to feeling love and overwhelming affection and that desperate need to make everything good in their worlds (and okay okay, frustration and agitation too) but tonight, I felt, I don't know, in AWE of them.  I believe they are all more courageous than I was at their ages.  Strike that, I KNOW they are more courageous than I was at their ages.  Their adaptivity, their honesty and insight about their all blows me away.

We have, of course, been talking to them about school in these last weeks.  Are you excited?  Are you nervous?  Maybe you will make some new friends.  What do you think your teacher will be like?  This type of thing.  Juju has cried but is intent on going.  She has shown real bravery this summer playing with children who do not speak any English (she is the one that will walk right up to a group of kids) and I think she is drawing on those experiences to push herself through.

The other night, B was talking to Charlie, and he was at first quiet about the whole thing.  But then he said (and I paraphrase), "Daddy, you know how people tell you something is going to be so exciting and then you are excited, but then it actually happens and you are scared?  And then after you are scared, it gets fun?  I was scared like that when I started first grade."  And of course B told him that was how this school year was going to be and that he will feel better after a few days most likely.  I am so grateful to have a son who is in touch with his feelings, can admit he is scared, and talk openly about it with his FATHER.  You see, I don't really come from a family of males who talk a lot about their feelings.  Anyway....

Then there's Little E.  She's the only one who has been almost 100% excited to start school.  (Although tonight she said, "What if I'm scared of my teacher?" and I told her the teacher is a very nice person who loves children, and then she said, "Okay" and went to sleep.)  Now, I will remind you, Little E has never even been to school, so I think it's a matter of her not really grasping what is about to happen.  Fortunately, so so fortunately, she and Juju will be in a class together.  At least they can speak English together.  Ha.

So, I guess I am here to ask for you to think of my littles tomorrow if you can....I am nervous for them (again, it is in my blood).  I packed Charlie's lunch, we laid out all of their outfits, and breakfast will be set before I go to sleep tonight.  Happy new school year to all!  And lots of baci from Florence!

Our Next Adventure.

June 5, 2013

So, there is something sort of major that I have failed to tell you guys.  I'll just go ahead and say it....we are moving to Italy for 7 months.  And we leave a week from Saturday!!

There are stories about how this all came about and what it has taken to get here, but I figure I'll just go ahead and share things about this adventure as they arise.  I really want to blog from over there....both as a way to keep in touch with you all and to help preserve the stories and photos from our big trip.

In the meantime, we have lots of packing, planning and visiting with friends and family to do!

We will be back here in about 11 days, can you believe it???  (Follow along on Instagram if you'd username is missjora.)

A Little Something.

May 9, 2013

I'm pretty sure I never mentioned it, but a few years back, our family and home were featured in Riviera Magazine.  We had a fun day harvesting honey and photographer Ethan Pines was there to capture it all.  I can't get over how little the children were just a few years ago!

Fast forward three years, and the editor of Riviera told me she wanted to do a little something just about me and my blog in their upcoming travel issue.  Needless to say, it was flattering and I said yes!  This time Noa Azoulay of Feather Love Photography (whom I have admired through the years) came out to take the photos.  It was strange getting photographed by myself....I really don't enjoy being in front of the camera!

If you want to take a peek, here's the little piece in this the May issue of Riviera Magazine.
{i still haven't seen a hard copy....just the online version!}

Mama Time.

April 15, 2013

A mom's schedule is strange, if you ask me.  The hardest work (for me, anyway) comes early morning, afternoon and evening (especially between the hours of 4 and 7 p.m.) and weekends.  Basically, the opposite of a traditional (9-5) workday.  I get a reprieve (in terms of freedom and flexibility) in the morning on weekdays after the older kids go to school until 1 p.m. pickup.  Of course, I always have my sidekick, Little E, with me.  But in general, she is pretty easy and can entertain herself for decent periods of time.

I guess this isn't a strange schedule when hanging with other mom friends, but I happen to have several close girlfriends who don't have kids (holla!) and their days are pretty different than mine.  I guess what I'm not saying but thinking is....I LOVE MONDAY MORNINGS. I literally exhale when the weekend is finally over and I can enjoy a relatively quiet and orderly house.  I relish this time.  I even enjoy sharing it with Little E because she is such a joy and as anyone having three kids knows, having just one at home is. a. BREEZE.  Not sure which rule of nature dictates this, but it just does.

I try to do something on Monday mornings to make that time extra nice.  A real shower?  A hot breakfast?  A special beverage?  Yes, that's exactly what I made this morning.

Mama's Monday Morning Mocha

I've been eating mostly paleo lately, and this mocha reflects that effort.....I want to post more about what and how I've been eating....another day for sure.

1/2 c. homemade almond milk
1 T. raw honey
2 T. raw cacao
dash vanilla extract
pinch sea salt

Whisk all of the above ingredients together in a small saucepan.  Gently heat over medium low heat.  Pour into a mug and top with a shot of espresso, if desired/needed.  ;-)

I also drizzled a little coconut cream over top because I was feeling indulgent.

How do you decompress after the kids go to school?

Capturing Time.

March 22, 2013

My friend Karina wrote a really nice post about trying to slow down time, and offers some great ideas for achieving the feeling that life is not whizzing by.  I am always searching for ways to capture the special moments that happen everyday.  I have a terrible memory for details, but it gets better when I actually pay attention and really experience those moments.

Here are some techniques that I use (but should be using more).  The first two come from a trusted friend.

1.  Stop and pay attention to all of your senses.  Ask yourself: "What do I hear? smell? see? feel? taste?" It is amazing how that always grounds me and puts me in the present.

2.  Close your eyes and "breathe" through the tips of your fingers.  Draw your breath up your wrists, arms, shoulders, body, down your legs and out your toes.  (This is great for awakening your senses which helps with the previous exercise.)

3.  Just say no to over-scheduling.  I have never been one of those people who loves to pack my day with a million things.  I have no problem saying no if I don't really want to do something (non-essential), or if doing it will crowd my day too much.  This really works for me.  I need downtime and I need slow.  Life in a family of five is fast and busy enough.

4.  Go offline.  Nothing makes me feel less in the moment then killing an hour on the Internet.  Oh, I still do it, but that's when I feel that "time is slipping by" anxiety the most.  I am not good at turning off my phone and shutting the top of my laptop, but it always works when I do find the discipline to do it.

5.  Make a cup of tea.  It's mental, but this always relaxes and comforts me and helps me pay attention to what is going on.

What about you?  What do you do to stay in-the-moment?

photo credit unknown

Family Photos.

March 17, 2013

I'm not sure why, but I have never posted the photos that Kim took of our family last fall.  She came out on a beautiful October weekend (unseasonably warm as I recall) and we took advantage by being outdoors much of the time.  We ventured to the Salk Institute and Glider Port for a few shots late one afternoon.  The only regret I have was that B was not able to join us so he wasn't part of those photos.  Ah least we got a bunch of the kiddos in such a spectacular setting.

 I'll share some of the photos of the whole family that we took at the house sometime soon!

Homemade Pantry Party.

March 8, 2013

For at least a year or so, I had been wanting to have a casual party with some girlfriends to exchange homemade goodies.  The idea is we all have something we are more comfortable making....some bake, some are into canning, some are experts with gluten-free goodies, some ferment, some have loads of homegrown produce that need to be turned into something delicious.  The idea was to bring something you enjoy making.

So, finally, after a lot of thinking about it (and then reading this article in the NYT.....hey if all the Brooklyn hipsters are doing it, we should too!), Lyann and I hosted a little get-together in January.  There were 12 of us who wanted to join in (there was no pressure if someone felt it was too much extra work), so we brought 11 items of whatever we made to share with the group.  We made it a "drop in" so that friends could come at anytime and leave whenever they needed.  What ended up happening was everybody stayed the whole 3 hours, drinking tea, snacking on plates of (even more) goodies that friends brought to share.  It was a really, really nice time and I think everybody was really excited to take home their "loot."

{lyann brought shortbread for everyone to sample her butterscoth and muffins to sample her lemon curd}

There was a great variety of items offered: granola, kimchee, an indian cilantro chutney, ketchup, ghee, salad dressing, marmalade, a pomegranate chia seed drink, and lots more.

{scones, clementine cake and "secret ingredient" truffles to snack on with tea}
{little e's friend ida and her mom came to the party}
After the party, Desi was smart (and nice) enough to set up a blog for all of us to post the recipes we used.  A really great resource.  Hopefully a few more friends will add their recipes (hint hint).  We are about to plan a second party in the next couple of weeks.  There is so much inspiration in spring.....I can't wait to figure out what I'm going to make this time.

{one friend's basket of goodies to take home}
Have you ever done something like this?  How did it turn out?  We are still trying to figure out the best, most fun and easy way to do this every couple of months, so I'd love to hear your thoughts or suggestions!
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