There are many challenges to setting up and maintaining a home in a culture different than your own. It's hard to explain, but if you've ever lived outside of your home culture then you know that stuff, in general, just takes longer. Take my word for it. Whether it be the bathroom that comes with no fixtures and only wires hanging out of the walls, or the "move in ready" apartment with no hot water tank, there are multiple little hiccups along the road to making a place feel like home.
One of the biggest challenges in maintaining a home over here (at least as far as day to day functionality), is the fact that, for the most part, apartments here come with NO STORAGE. Take that in for a minute, you immensely blessed, closet obsessed Americans! (myself included). I did not say minimal storage, nor did I say inconvenient storage, I said NO STORAGE. You may come across the occasional apartment that has a closet or two in a hallway but it is rare. This also means that when you look at an empty apartment, you have to consider that in each bedroom, you'll be putting in a "hizani" (Arabic for closet) in each bedroom thus taking up a good bit more room. You also have to get creative with your linens, household stuff etc- no linen closets or utility closets over here!
Below is the hizani that's in Maddie and Naomi's room. Notice the top- the no storage thing means you have to put empty footlockers and unused suitcases up on top of the closets. Not exactly pretty but we do what we have to do. It makes clothes storage interesting as well. Definitely not room for more than one season of clothes out at a time..
Maddie and Naomi keep their clothes in the far right side and in the drawers in the middle. The shelves above the drawers are used for toys and the far left side is vacuum cleaner and household stuff. I found the rubbermaid boxes to the right of the closet and they fit perfectly for storing out of season clothes.
Here's Abbey and Anabelle's "hizani". Their clothes are on the middle left, Jason's overflow on the middle right and the sides are books, games and household stuff. That's right, all of my 13 year old's in season clothes are in half of one middle section! I have the same stacking boxes on the left for their out of season clothes.
Jason and my "hizani" is a bit smaller than the ones in the girl's rooms because our bedroom is a bit smaller. My clothes stay in the far left side, Jason's in the far right. Again, household stuff is in most of the rest.
That's right, that's my closet... Careful if you open it- something is likely to jump, or more likely fall out.. I am pretty darn organized in most areas of my life but for some reason it's never applied to my closet or my drawers. Not gonna show you a picture of those!
So the cool mornings have really been sneaking up on us around here. It still gets up in the 80's during the day but it's down in the 60s at night and with little insulation and concrete walls and marble floors that equals chilly mornings! The girls have been asking for their fleece jackets to wear to school. That combined with the fact that we're going on a camping trip this weekend and it's going to be pretty cold at night, made me realize that the time had come to go to battle with my storage boxes and get out the winter clothes. So out came the ladder so I could pull all the footlockers down, and Anabelle and I tackled the project of swapping out clothes. This might be the kind of thing that people might typically due over a 2-3 day period, but it is a chore that I truly HATE, so I try and do it all in one day if possible. Well, mostly in one day, at least in the girls rooms. My room usually stays turned upside down for a good week or so...
With 4 girls, we have a fairly large selection of clothes sizes and I try to keep them organized by size and season. I also try not to keep too much of any one size. Why? Well, #1, we don't have the space, and, #2, there are SO many people, refugees from various countries, who are in desperate need of warm children's clothing with the cold weather coming. So, Anabelle and my project for the morning was to get the clothes in the girls' room switched out and organized. She was quite happy to help pull everything out... (and apparently it wore her out...)
She bounced back up to say "cheese" to the camera...
Both rooms looked like battle grounds for most of the morning...
But thankfully we got everything labeled and neatly put back up before they came home from school.
(I even used Maddie's fun neon duct tape to label the boxes!)
Sadly, my room still looks like a hurricane it hit. It's where I piled all the give-away clothes and the footlockers until I finish with mine and Jason's clothes...
But at least at the end of the day, I can say that the job was mostly accomplished. At least in the girls' rooms... I can climb around boxes for another few days if I have to!