The holidays are fast approaching, which means, we are currently in the chaos immediately preceding the holidays, otherwise known as “The Wiles Birthday Season.” Mike’s birthday was right before Halloween, Harlow’s birthday is tomorrow or today (depending on when you are reading this), my birthday is on the 24th and Mazzy’s birthday is on December 9th.

Between Harlow’s birthday and my birthday will be Thanksgiving and during Mazzy’s birthday, we will be in the thick of Hanukah, all before we even get to what is somehow called Christmas “break.” Is it a break? Really?

To make matters even more overwhelming, we are in the middle of our third month living in a studio apartment, while we await the completion of our renovation. To clarify, for those of you unfamiliar with apartment living, a studio is not a one bedroom. It is ONE ROOM. There is a small bathroom and an even smaller kitchen. Otherwise, living, sleeping, eating, etc. is all done in the same place.

Thank god for the bathroom door. I go in there sometimes at night when I need to get work done after the kids are asleep. And Harlow has co-opted a large box as “the only place I can get privacy.”

Let me give you the rundown of our living space…

We’ve got a dining table next to the kitchen. At it’s best, four people can sit at this table, but since it is against the wall and our only surface area in the apartment, it is also covered with school supplies, books, papers, sunglasses, jewelry and assorted keys, with very little room for eating.

There is an L-shaped couch facing a television. There used to be a glass coffee table in front of the couch, which we would eat breakfast on, by sitting around it on carpet squares on the floor. Unfortunately, it’s base was kind of unstable and one morning, while Mazzy was eating a bowl of cereal, it collapsed on her foot.  So, we took the table apart and put it behind the couch. That was a particularly tough morning in the studio, if you can imagine.

On the other side of the L-shaped couch is Mazzy and Harlow’s clothes, folded in plastic bins. This was all fine when it was summer clothes but now that it’s cold outside and winter layers take up more space, they have started to spill over and out of their tiny plastic drawers. I’m living out of a large suitcase. Mike is living out of a bedside table. Shoes and jackets are EVERYWHERE.

Which brings me to the sleeping set-up.

Mike and I used to sleep on a queen-sized blow-up mattress loaned to us by my mother, but after a few weeks decided to get a real mattress and just keep it on the floor. At the foot of our mattress (is there a foot to a mattress?) is Harlow’s blow-up twin size mattress, lying perpendicularly to us. Next to Harlow is Mazzy’s blow-up mattress and then next to her is a wall of storage boxes that belong to my sister’s brother-in-law and his family, who own the place.

I feel like every time I show a picture of the studio, people are like— why didn’t you put all your boxes in storage? The answer is: We did put all our boxes in storage. Those are not our boxes. We are pretty much living in some one else’s storage space.

Have I talked about the kitchen yet? It is about the size of a post-it. Okay, that’s an exaggeration. It’s about the size of a pizza box. Seriously, if you put a Red Baron pizza box on the available floor space in the kitchen, there is no room to walk around it. I know this because I tried it last night.

Speaking of Red Baron pizza, it’s one of the few meals our family can all agree on, and having a pizza night is my favorite thing to do because it temporarily relieves the chaos of our situation. On pizza night, we don’t have to worry about our lack of counter space (there is none),  lack of cutlery (we’ve got plastic) or the fact that we don’t have a dishwasher. Pizza is a meal everyone loves with minimal mess. Our favorite Red Baron pizza varieties are the Classic Crust Four Cheese pizza and the Pepperoni.

The other thing we are short on in the studio is toys, so in the interest of not spending all our non-school hours on our iPads, we try to make fun out of thin air.

Take last night. Mike decided that in place of the collapsed coffee table, we should blow-up our extra mattress (the one from my mom) and stick it in the middle of the L-shaped couch, creating one huge bed. Then, since no one is actually sleeping on it, we took an old blanket, laid it over the whole thing and declared that on this night, we would be having a Red Baron pizza party movie picnic on the blow-up bed couch.

The kids were thrilled. We all stuffed our faces with pizza, watched New York Minute (which FYI, turned out to be highly inappropriate for a soon to be six-year-old and a soon-to-be nine-year-old), lied in a pile of our own crumbs and had one of our best nights ever.

After the movie is over, we talked about how excited we were to move back into our place.

“Will we be back by the holidays???” the kids wanted to know.

“Oh god, I hope so.”


This post is sponsored by Red Baron, but all opinions are my own.