Monthly Archives: August 2013

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if Mateo had a blog

Mateo is a passionate toddler and it’s taking him places. Yep, he’s taken up a new job of sorts and he’s quite  serious about it. What’s the gig? Mateo is taking on the world, one playground at a time. It’s (truly) important to him to really experience  the local play offerings in every city (or neighborhood) we visit. He also finds it to be a great way to mingle with local children and feel like a local himself. ;)

So far, he’s tested  the lovely parks of Croatia, and numerous throughout Austria, and Italy. Not to mention (!) making sure that little jungle gyms at rest stops along the expressways get their due attention.

He has high hopes to expand his work beyond North America and Europe. We’ll see, Mateo. We’ll see.

Of course he’s been too busy playing  to blog and pass on proper reviews, so I thought I’d just give you all a highlight. This playground in Dubrovnik, Croatia was awesome.dubrovnik fun for kidsSeriously, how amazing is that backdrop for a play lot?! This place had it going on.toddler playground in dubrovnikAki and I had been to Dubrovnik together back in 2009 as newlyweds. It’s a gorgeous city on the sea with incredible history, but WHOA, it took Mateo coming along to find this jewel. ;) Somehow we TOTALLY missed this playground back then. OH, maybe ’cause we were too busy drinking leisurely glasses wine. We were so boring back then. ;)

First off, let me just tell you how cool the entrance is. It’s a tiny unassuming passageway built into the old city walls. It makes you feel like you’ve discovered a secret. All the local kids know what’s up though. Adults have to duck, the shorties march right in. So yeah, the playground is built right into the outside of the city’s ancient walls. A-W-E-S-O-M-E-pants. Dubrovnik is known for its medieval walls. In fact, it’s among the 10 best medieval walled cities in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.park entrance dubrovnik wallskids in dubrovniktoddler favorite in dubrovnikThere isn’t a playground this kid sees that he doesn’t want to experience, but I’m with you Mateo…this one was pretty special.toddler in dubrovnik, croatiaIn other news, little Mateo is already working on another column: international beaches. This kid! So focused at such a young age. I hope to help him pursue his passions in ANY way that I can! ;) ha


Hope you have a weekend of play ahead! We’ve got lots of organizing and de-cluttering around here, but also some fun social plans. And you KNOW, Mateo will make sure we get outside and play! :)

We’ve learned some things. I think Mateo would have been much happier in Venice (that post) last year if we had just lead him to a playground. You live and you learn. ;)

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project simplify

Something interesting happened while we were traveling. [We were in Europe, mainly Croatia for almost 2 and 1/2 months, if you missed it]. Somewhere around the middle of our trip, I was filled with a huge craving to go home and empty my cabinets and drawers of all of the things that we didn’t need, didn’t use, or were just plain ugly. :)

On our trip, we were together in SMALL spaces for 73 days straight. Small apartments, small cars, crowded planes, boats, trains, and busses.

The apartment where we spent most of our time was 516 sq. ft. in size, roughly 48 sq meters. (And some of that space was filled with furniture we stacked because we didn’t need it). Remember, we have a toddler and that my sister came to stay with us the last few weeks. There were little moments when I thought I was going to go mad. Yes, I have those little moments. But interestingly, it had less to do with being together in small spaces (luckily we like each other), but rather to do with clutter and inability to control/design my environment.

Our favorite spaces were actually tiny apartments with great storage cabinets, clean, simple bathrooms, small, open kitchens, and an outdoor balcony or terrace with a table that we could eat at together. There was one particular apartment that was probably 400 square feet (with an outdoor balcony) which we really thought we could live in (well, maybe with an extra room or two). ;)

On this trip, I learned what I could & couldn’t  live with. (Okay, what I want to, and don’t want to live with). I can live with less clothes, less possessions, less space. In fact, there’s something quite NICE about less. Things can really weigh you down.

But there are things I do need. To feel at home, I need to be able to put my things away. I need the bathroom and kitchen areas to be pleasant and fresh. I want to eat at a table and have an eating space that turns meals into special and enjoyable breaks in the day, and OH, a beautiful outdoor space makes a WORLD of a difference.

When we first arrived home to Chicago, Aki and I both proclaimed that “WHOA, we live in a mansion!” ha. Yes, our house is rather large comparatively, but in some ways that has gotten me away from designing a home and life that we really want. Our house can be so draining. We just push things around and the vastness of creating this “home” sometimes overwhelms me (and so I move it off to another day).

Living in the extremes has a way of giving you clarity; as does being uncomfortable. Traveling can do that. After 73 days of changing “homes” repeatedly, I know the bare bones of what I need in a living space. And more importantly, it’s more obvious to me how much our living spaces affect how we feel and function in our homes.

I’ve always put off tackling our back-yard garden, but now I can see what pleasure a beautiful garden and ability to eat outside can be. I want to make our eating areas more lovely in general. Some of that takes money  and time, but what I can do right now is to de-clutter. We don’t need so many things. And particularly, we don’t need all the ugly things. :)

It’s a lofty goal, but I’d love to live in a home that makes me appreciate the simple beauty in daily routine. We can’t always be traveling (sigh). Daily life needs its little pleasures, and home needs to be a peaceful place. CAUSE LET’S BE REAL, daily life is exhausting and messy. Right Mateo? :)

So on to project: SIMPLIFY! HAPPY AUGUST 1st! “The first” is always a good day to begin. I’m already starting to fill bags and boxes with toys, clothes, and just that extra NONSENSE that seem to follow us. I’ve already scheduled a pick-up from a local charity shop for August 5. Deadlines are good. Once phase one is complete, it’s off to bringing on more organization and “pretty things” (like matching dishes) into the mix. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, I already want to take a nap! :)

Anyone else feeling the itch to simplify?


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