Thursday, September 21, 2017

Thoughts on Living in the Suburbs

We've been in the new house for over a month now. Long enough to murder four fish (in answer to several blog comments, texts, and e-mail, no we didn't condition the water. We set up the tank 24 hours in advance and had a sample tested by PetSmart that they thought was ok. David discussed things further after the second generation went to the big ocean in the sky and then got a different type of fish. Zuzu still seems happy with them.).

There are many, many things I love about the new house. Mostly I love how it is surrounded by trees and feels very much like a peaceful retreat at the top of the hill. The Japanese have this practice called "forest bathing" and I believe in it. Even when I drive up the driveway bracing myself for the witching/dinner hour and the kitchen mess and the to-do list I'm trying to cram in before bedtime so that after bedtime I can read for class the next day, I still get a peaceful sense of exhaling when I get to the top of the hill and all I see is just our house surrounded by trees.

The basic layout is also very convenient--particularly the mudroom/laundry room that we can enter off the garage, which then leads into the eat-in kitchen. Our old kitchen had a small bistro table that sat two, but the new kitchen has space for a big table (our former dining room table) so we can all sit and eat, or the girls can color one one side of the table and then walk around to the other side to eat without having put everything away so they can return to it.

David loves the way the basement smells because it smells just like his grandparents' basement when he was a kid.

I love having a bathroom separate from my kids.

Downsides include that we aren't walking distance from anything, except our local elementary school (which is a nice bonus). We are biking distance from a park, but I don't find the county to be any more biking friendly than the city. We are close driving distance to a really huge and awesome park with lots of hiking paths. But our old house was walking distance from a gorgeous park, several churches (though not the one we attend), a Mexican restaurant, a pizza place, Ted Drewes and Dairy Queen, and if you were up for a bit of a hike you could totally walk to Target, Schnucks, Bank of America, and the library. DID I walk to these things? Not the last four, but we picked up Mexican food and went to the park all the time and I do miss that.

HOWEVER, we do have an amazing park-like yard, and it's more acceptable for my kids to be nude, semi-nude, or peeing out of doors when we are on private property, so there's that. Last night the girls ate their frozen yogurt out on the driveway. Coco was naked but for underwear and both were barefoot and I didn't have to worry about traffic or overexposure.

I do miss having neighbors who love and care about the girls, although we have gotten to know some of our neighbors and they are really nice (in fact, the neighbor at the bottom of the hill helped them out when they got in their stick-tight mess, and Cooper has wandered just far enough to get returned home by a couple of other nice neighbors, so basically if you let everyone roam wild, other people will help you parent your children and your pets), and we have a street party scheduled in October, which will be a nice way to meet some more folks. Not better or worse, it's just not the same as all the over-the-fence conversations we used to have.

The best and most noticeable improvement is the commute situation. It makes SUCH a difference to have David home in the mornings. He can make breakfast for the girls while I'm getting them out of bed and encouraging them to get dressed. (They do dress themselves, although Coco will accept guidance and assistance from me. Today they wore their matching 5 and 3 tank tops, but Coco wore hers with a coordinating red and navy skort, and Zuzu wore hers with a non-coordinating lavender flowered skirt that's still slightly big on her, plus knee-high socks printed with sparkly Easter eggs.)

The fact that David can be home from work in 15 minutes has made such a difference in his mood, in the tempo of our evenings, in the ease of him picking up the girls from school... it seems so obvious, but I just hadn't realized what a huge improvement it would be. So we do have to drive to get ice cream, but honestly the quick daily commute has been worth the trade off.

We need to figure out the chaos of the basement and to bring up some select toys and balance them out. Right now the girls are mostly interested in playing dress up together. Zuzu loves coloring and "making books" more than any other activity, and Coco loves playing with baby dolls. But I know if/when we start rotating out the vast selection of toys that are currently downstairs, they'll get more airtime. The girls will go downstairs and play on their own (they love the swing!) but they always, ALWAYS leave a complete disaster. And it's so easy to just shut the door and not enter the basement on busy weekdays that, well, the basement has been a complete disaster for a while now.

Overall, I know this move was the right choice for us, and I feel very content and happy in our new home. I definitely miss our old neighborhood, our neighbors, and the character of our old house, but I also appreciate the "blank slate" of a house built in 1982--I'm not worried about making changes! I have lots of big plans, so I'll keep you posted.


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