Shifting Gears: Home, Work, Family

Shifting Gears @ Frugal Mama

One thing I love about blogging is the freedom to work on my own schedule and to choose my own topics.  The downside of a one-woman enterprise is that there is no one to take over when you go on vacation, get sick, or have a …


It’s official:  in July, we are expecting a little boy.

Compared to families that have 12 children, four is small beans.  But I’ve found that going from three to four seems to tip us into the “large family” category, where people say, “Oh my God,” instead of “congratulations” (and sometimes I agree with them!)

Usually the next  question is, “So are you going to have any more?”  And here is my best answer:  life is wonderfully unpredictable, and as much as I don’t like the idea of never having another baby, I have to admit I am thinking:  caboose.


To add to the hub-bub of this summer, we’ll also be moving from Manhattan to Syracuse.  My husband’s fellowship in child psychiatry is ending and he’ll be starting a one-year fellowship in forensic psychiatry.

As you can imagine, my second-trimester nesting hormones are going crazy, but with no nest to feather as of yet, I feel like all I’m doing is flapping around and squawking.  Eventually we’ll find our house and our neighborhood, and hopefully a little circle of friends to share our brief but intense time in Syracuse.


During this busy period, I’ll be posting a bit less (more like once a week, instead of twice a week). I know my readers are busy too, so maybe less is more for all involved.

The blog is going well, with traffic slowly but surely increasing and connections multiplying.  I appreciate every time you take a minute to write a comment or pass along a post to a friend.   Each article is a labor of love, and it’s rewarding to be able to share with as many people as are interested.

Big Apple

Leaving Manhattan

These two years in Manhattan have been at once exhilarating and exhausting, exasperating and ecstatic.

Life for us here is unsustainable, but I’m glad to have experienced what it’s like to raise children in a place where people hail cabs instead of drive minivans, where the only place you’ll see a blade of grass is Central Park, and where kids push elevator buttons instead of back doors.

In the best of times, it was like living a vacation, with Rockefeller Center and the Statue of Liberty as everyday landmarks.  Yet whenever you really engage with a place, you also make friendships and connections, making it not so easy to just pick up and go.

However it has been fun to go to a lot of glamorous events I might not have found elsewhere, like:

  • visiting ABC studios in Times Square where my kids were filmed with Santa for the Good Morning America Christmas show
  • meeting Christopher Kimball, founder of my favorite cooking empire, Cook’s Illustrated and America’s Test Kitchen, at a talk at the 92nd Street Y
  • participating in the first Kids Clothing Swap where I met the Lazy Environmentalist, Josh Dorfman and Clothing Swap Inc. founder Suzanne Agasi
  • dazzling and inspiring my children (okay, me too) with multi-million dollar musical productions on Broadway
  • speaking at a Baby Bites luncheon for new Manhattan mothers about saving money while raising kids in NYC
  • taking part in an Italian cooking class and tasting with Rossella Rago of Cooking with Nonna and Slow Food New York founder, Ed Yowell
  • being invited to a Discovery Channel Planet Green luncheon where I met the director and actors of What’s on Your Plate? and Colin Beavan, No Impact Man
  • and, in a few weeks, being in the live studio audience of the Martha Stewart Show (where, by the way, we are advised to wear “cute jeans, chic dress, or trendy and fashionable outfits.”  Well, okay, then!)


There are many more ideas for this blog than I can ever write about in a presentable manner (without a small support staff).  I’d like to make a little dough, but without bombarding my readers with ads and hype.  One solution is to get assignments at paying publications, or to create a product (like an e-book) that can be of real value.

In the meantime, I’ll keep plugging away at Frugal Mama, my collaboration with Buttoned Up, and that elusive nest.

In the coming months, I’d like to include in my mix of articles some ideas that are colonizing my mind:

  • Pregnancy- and baby-related topics like how to save money on maternity and kids clothes, the best free baby-naming websites, reviews of library books on natural childbirth, and the low-down on which baby gear you need (and don’t need)
  • Relocating topics like scouting out neighborhoods online, evaluating public schools, and finding housing, honest movers and new communities of parents
  • New York City topics like resources for raising children in the City on a tight budget, my favorite cheap family-friendly things to do, and ideas for a romantic yet low-cost couple’s weekend in the Big Apple

I hope this post finds you happy and well.

Photo credit: nest.

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  • Kate Brown July 30, 2010, 9:03 am

    Im laughing about the large family thing – we just moved here – to the US from Australia last year and we have four kids – i felt a bit like the octomum when we were trying to find somewhere to live…I met only one other people with more than three kids in the first few months and she told me that people look at her when she is walking down the street with the kids. Since then Ive met a lot more families with more than one child and seem to not be as sensitive to it. great blog!

    • Amy August 27, 2010, 10:59 am

      Hi Kate,

      I like hearing about your experiences as a “large” family in the U.S. How are you perceived in Australia? Is it more common there to have more than 3 children?

      Thanks for writing in!


  • Ellen Webster July 28, 2010, 7:23 pm

    Amy—I just heard through the grapevine that your family just moved to Syracuse, and are expecting your fourth child. Congratulations! How do you like having boys?

    Sorry I haven’t sent an email message in awhile, but we have been really busy house-hunting. Chris works in Chantilly, Va., so we have been looking at houses out there. We will really miss Fairlington, but Chris has dealt with a one-hour commute to and from work for awhile now. I might want to get your advice on preparing for a move (I’m sure there was some in your blog and I haven’t gotten around to reading it yet).

    Stay in touch!


    • Amy August 27, 2010, 10:56 am

      Hi Ellen,

      Great to hear from you! Best of luck on your big move. I know you’ve been thinking about that for a while.

      Here is the first post in my series about moving:

      Hope you find it helpful! Feel free to come back and comment if you have something to add, given your recent experience.

      p.s. I love having boys! To someone who grew up with a sister and then had two girls, it’s a whole new experience.


  • Amy April 15, 2010, 12:46 pm

    Thank you, everyone, for your congratulations and well wishes. This post touched on some deep emotions and vulnerabilities, and I appreciate your support and understanding.

    Your ideas for nesting activities were helpful. It’s nice to know others have gone through the same situation.

    We finally found our house, which is a huge relief, and I’ve satisfied some nesting impulses by starting to organize our future life in Syracuse, collecting and organizing baby clothes and gear, and weeding out paperwork and other accumulated household junk.

    Thanks again for reaching out!

  • Makingtime March 16, 2010, 2:54 am

    Congratulations!!!! My nesting impulses have been stunted by moves both times. I don’t remember how I handled it the first time (I think maybe reading) and this time I knitted like crazy (although only two things for baby) – very portable!

  • Katie March 15, 2010, 10:17 am

    My husband became really restless as I hit my second trimester. I knew that even if I did decorate a nursery, we wouldn’t stay long enough to use it. Sure enough, it’s been six months, and we’re still trying to settle. I managed by refinishing nursery furniture that has traveled with us.

  • e. March 13, 2010, 6:38 pm

    Hey Amy, thanks for the post. As always I enjoyed it. I know you have a lot going on now, great news about the new baby, and you’ll be missed when we all move! Glad I’ll be able to keep up with you, at least through the blog, if not in “real time” as our paths lead onward and outward (sorry, I couldn’t resist).

    For a topic I’d like discussed, anything sibling related is of great interest to me right now. As my kids get older (and do get along well), they’re stil 3.5 years apart so finding inexpensive things to do that interest both of them is crucial. Also, any thoughts on how to discover a new city on a budget!

    : )

  • Gayle March 13, 2010, 2:14 pm

    All the best on your newest adventure. I am sad because it is easier to see you in NYC than in Syracuse, but I am hoping you will have a better quality of life there. And then maybe DC is next???? Once a week, once a month – I’ll be reading no matter when you post!

  • Beth March 13, 2010, 8:44 am

    Congratulations on your new adventure! He’s going to add a lot of zing to that move to Syracuse ; )

  • Melissa March 12, 2010, 9:28 pm

    What a lovely blog. Congratulations to all of you! We will really, really miss you in NYC. I look forward to following your experiences, adventures, and baby news on your beautiful, thoughtful, and helpful blog! xo melissa