Onward & Upward

March has been a whirlwind for me. I’ve been slammed with paid projects. Don’t get me wrong, I love freelance work and am really enthused about building my business, but when three huge deadlines pile up on top of one another, anyone would break out in hives! Thankfully, my hubby and mother both rescued me and provided much-needed child care to help me meet my deadlines.

And let me reiterate, I am so excited to be growing my editing/writing business. So much so, in fact, that I am having difficulty falling asleep at night!

I’ve been noticing a new energy in our house lately, and while I usually feel so on top of the shifts that occur with my family, something a bit indescribable hit me like a ton of bricks this weekend.

There’s a change in the air around here. My kids are different, and I am different too. I am reticent to opine too much about these thoughts and feelings, but I am pretty jazzed. Happy to see my kids get older and more interested in new things. Joyous to be able to challenge myself in new aspects of life.

I’ve got lots of ideas in the works right now — house projects, summer vacations, business ventures. If there’s time, I’ll document them here. If not, I am getting more and more comfortable with walking away from this blog. Though it’s been a big part of my life for so long, I accept that sometimes you know when it’s time to move onward and upward.

Only time will tell about this virtual corner.

Happy spring!

Early Taste of Spring

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How does one prepare for spring when the ground is covered in snow and the temperatures are not even flirting with the freezing mark? Well, if you are in Philadelphia, you travel to the Flower Show for an instant pick-me-up!

This more than hundred-year tradition is one of the best-timed events. In our area, the seasons stick to the calendar for the most part. This means that it snows in March (still winter) and is blazing hot in September (still summer). As much as we’re ready to move into the next season during these transitional months, Mother Nature insists we wait it out until those equinoxes arrive!

This year’s Flower Show focused on the movies, which was a perfect them for a four-year-old and a two-and-a-half-year-old. We enjoyed the beautiful displays while trying to guess the movies.

Here are some of the highlights:

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What magnificent floral displays!

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Themed after Cinderella’s wedding.

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Here’s Elsa’s castle.

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From Ratatouille. (Love the tomatoes in the floral basket!)

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Peter Pan.

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An Up doghouse.

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Winnie-the-Pooh, of course!

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Merida’s archery skills displayed.

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And some other beautiful displays!

Winter Wonderland in March

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Well, Mother Nature kept her mightiest snowstorm for the Philadelphia area for March. The dumping we received yesterday followed an entire week of ice and snow events. It’s hard to believe that spring is just a few weeks away!

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Aside from my parents’ travel plans being derailed, we’re embracing these winter temperatures as best we can and are trying to have a little staycation this weekend in hopes that it will keep our children happy.

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And I guess I needed a little March snow to motivate me to sew a project for the kids. Thanks to some cute fabric from JoAnn and the One-Yard Wonders pattern for preschooler-sized messenger bags, the kids and I completed a sewing project in just one icy/sleety/snowy afternoon.

A New Day

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Last night’s sunset marked the end of a long, agonizing month for us. Steve’s work schedule and lots of illness dominated January, and I am so eager to start fresh now that it’s February.

This cold winter day feels rather warm. With the end of the football season, our lives return to normal. We’ll have weekends and evenings back together. We can take a little vacation or two. What a relief!

Even though it was painful at times, January was an essential month for me. I had a lot of time to think, to read, to plan. I read Wicked, The Little Way of Ruthie Lemming, and Still Life with Breadcrumbs. I networked with a lot of former colleagues and new associates. I trekked to the pharmacy often. I let the dark evenings shepherd me to bed a little bit earlier. I rested. I wrestled with my stay-at-home-mom plan. I embraced the dark, cold, and slow month.

No matter what the groundhog says tomorrow, this is the end of our winter in many ways. For the next six months, we have flexibility and normalcy. Thank goodness!

Bottling Up This Week

This week my kids have been adorable, fun, adventurous, and a little bit snotty — but that’s thanks to a lingering cold. These are the moments I want to bottle up and savor forever.

Carson Is Batman

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This boy loves his Batman costume from Halloween. With the cape attached, of course! He prefers this costume with the “seat belt” rather than the Batman shirt with the Caped Crusader’s mug on it. (Why would he need a picture of Batman on a shirt when he himself is Batman?) Yesterday he pointed out to me that he does not have a Spiderman shirt. Is that a hint that he’s open to being another superhero?

Or Is Carson a Cat?

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At a birthday party this weekend, Carson requested I tape a pipe cleaner to his rear end so he could fully embody the cat theme. With his ears and tail, he made quite an adorable feline.

Nora Upside Down

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This girl loves her gymnastics class at the YMCA. I couldn’t believe how the kids tried headstands the other day. It really brought me back to my own childhood. Tumbling is such fun when you are miniature-sized. Thank goodness we have a carpeted attic for forward roll practice!

Nora the Adventurous

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This girl has grown out of toddler and preschooler food selectivity, and I am so grateful. At an event this weekend, she ate three different kids of chili, surprising herself by how much she liked the flavors. She helped herself to quite a few chocolate desserts that night too. Gone are her food-snubbing days. Such an awesome development!

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The fun will continue tomorrow, with a foot of snow projected in our area. Looking forward to making snow memories in our new house. We’re lucky to have sledding right out our front door.

January Scrapbooking Mission

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Lest you think all I do is brood about my existence, I am back to show you that I actually do things around the house. One of my big “tackle this already” projects for January has been to sort through the pile of kid artwork underneath the desk in my office. At our house, we display preschool projects for a few weeks on the fridge, and then I remove them, toss them in a box, and vow to sort through them at some point, usually a couple of times a year. A majority of the artwork ends up in the great big bulletin board in the sky. The most treasured pieces get displayed in scrapbooks I compile for the kids.

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Updating these scrapbooks takes some time, mainly because the sorting process agonizes me. I hate to toss things my kids created. However, as a pragmatist and nonhoarder, I know that it’s essential to cull through the giant stack of projects and keep only a few. I tend to save projects that involve kid hands and feet, show great enthusiasm with lots of embellishment and detail, and display developmental skills. I updated Nora’s scrapbook with her first drawings of people and faces. Carson’s scrapbook includes some of his first preschool projects.

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In addition to the project pages, these scrapbooks include progress reports from school, class pictures, professional portraits, and birthday party momentos. I hope the kids can see their development over the years and enjoy flipping the pages of the books throughout their lives. Though it’s sometimes arduous to keep up family memory collecting, I consider it one of my household responsibilities.

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Selfie and Self-Discovery

Last week, I sat with Carson at the pediatrician’s office for almost an hour. During our wait, he snapped a picture of me that I found absolutely depressing (I don’t dare post it here). It showed a tired, middle-aged woman with frazzled hair, bags under her eyes, and little expression. After acknowledging my sad state, I deleted the picture and moved on with the day. In the last few minutes at the office, the doctor confirmed Carson’s pink-eye and also diagnosed him with an ear infection. Thankfully, that’s the first antibiotic-treated illness a child of mine has had for a very long time (we’ve been lucky!).

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A day after that fateful picture, I snapped a selfie after I returned from a small-business networking breakfast that left me energized. (I am a little embarrassed to share it here, but that’s my role as a blogger!) Thankfully, the results of that shot were not nearly as devastating. I hope that I look close to my age (just a mere 32!) and more well-kept. I struggled to dress for the professional event, given that my current work uniform consists of long-sleeved T-shirts, track jackets, and jeans. However, getting out into the world of inspired and determined women was the perfect anecdote to the sickness-laden day I had just experienced.

I’ve come to the realization that I am truly oscillating these days. As a stay-at-home mom, I am managing children and their activities, our budget and grocery lists, and the family extracurricular activities. As a work-at-home mom, I am trying to build a successful freelance business that could be a dependable source of income when the kids are elementary-school aged. Though I feel like life has gotten much easier than the years of pregnancy and infants, I am still with at least one child at all times during the day, and I feel pressure to make sure I provide the kids with an interactive, stimulating, and nurturing life.

Related to this, the biggest nugget I have been contemplating this January has to do with where my interests fit into the whole scheme. I purposefully (though with trepidation) left my corporate-focused career behind in May 2013. In the last twenty months, I have basked in my role as mother in a way I was unable to do while I worked full time. I get my hands dirty, wash a lot of dishes, and devise weeks filled with activities, play dates, games, and puzzles. At the moment, I adore my primary gig. However, I know that the days are long and that the years are short. In just a mere eight months, the kids’ schedules will be a little more synchronized, and I’ll have some time to myself (which I’ll probably spend writing and editing without my husband providing child care). In order for me to avoid complete self-erosion until then though, I have to carve out a little time to focus on me.

So how do I do this? I vow to commit more time to embracing my interests, goals, and dreams this year. I want to have more fun and worry less about what I am not doing. In December, I would like to exit 2015 feeling confident that my kids are still my biggest priority but that they are not the only one. How will I get there? I’m not sure, but I am determined to make this year count.

Finding My Footing

January, ah January. It’s a tough month. For us in Pennsylvania, winter has finally set in, so we’ve been trapped in the house for various reasons (bad weather and illness). My hubby’s work schedule is beyond irregular, and it’s often hard to know what day it is (given that he’s been working several evenings and Saturday and Sunday mornings). And my editing work has dried up a bit. I have a few things in the pipeline, but I am questioning the next steps for my paid work.

What’s good? I’ve committed to exercise, sweating on the treadmill at the YMCA. I’ve read two books this year that have given me things to consider. I’ve watched a lot of football, college and pro. I’ve updated my resume to reflect the career of a woman in her early thirties, abandoning the format from my late twenties. I’ve wrangled my budget, rolled over my 401(k), and planned our grocery lists more thoroughly. So it’s not a wasted month, just a slow one.

There are some very happy visuals in my head, too. I’m picturing our vacations for the year, the CSA we want to join, and the school schedule for fall. I am a little hazy when it comes to seeing what my freelance and volunteer work will look like in the coming months, but I am thinking hard about those components of my life.

So it’s not a fun and light update here, but it is reflective of where I am at right now. I am sure many of you are feeling this slow season as well, forecasting what’s to come. I am thankful to have contemplative time so I can shoot out of the gate when I’m ready.

My Guy at 2.5

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I’m having a mommy moment. My little guy is 2.5 today, spreading joy through dinosaurs, Batman, and sword-fighting. He talks at a rapid clip to keep up with his sister, and he’s taken to having quite a few opinions. Though he protests going to preschool, he’s happy once he’s there. He refuses to go to bed earlier that nine on most nights and doesn’t see the point of potty training. And don’t even think about putting a pullover hoodie on the boy! However, he depends on a middle-of-the-night bed transfer to twirl my hair and is never hesitant to offer a hug and an “I love you.”

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Truly the second child, this kid has been watching The Lego Movie on repeat in the last few weeks and has the pleasure of hanging with mostly older kids on a daily basis. He loves his Imaginext toys, especially his Batmobile, and adores all things Frozen, playing with Anna and Kristoff action figures frequently. He is very skilled at operating an iPad and loves to watch the PBS Kids app when I tuck his sister into bed at night, choosing The Cat and the Hat, Odd Squad, and Word Girl. He still loves to read, especially books about animals and dinosaurs.

It’s hard to believe it’s only been thirty months since this guy came on the scene, as he is such an integral part of our family.