The BIG Vacation: Two Weeks in Boise

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We’ve been back from our two-week vacation for more than a week now, but life has gotten in the way of my blog post. Since returning, we celebrated Carson’s birthday a bit more, started camps and summer activities, and said good-bye to the hubs and daddy for a month-long business trip (we’re down one night, twenty-three more to go!).

This year’s venture out West had so many highlights, including horseback riding, a Fourth of July family reunion, a wonderful trip to the mountains, and some date nights for Steve and me. We are lucky to have a getaway so far away from home that also feels so close (since I grew up there and Steve and the kids have spent many, many weeks there). Leaving the East Coast humidity and dense population behind for a few weeks is truly refreshing. The time zone change is always a little challenging, but the kids are getting better and better at that two-hour jump, as long as we stay for a generous stretch of time.

Our trip to the mountains included a trip to a hot springs, a hike where we saw a fox, and a boat cruise around Payette Lake.

 

In town, Nora had an ice cream potato, the kids visited the state capitol, and we ushered in Carson’s 4th birthday Star Wars style. Steve and I even had a date night at the Shakespeare Festival, one of our favorite summer activities in Boise.

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I also enjoyed many adult beverages, as evidenced by so many appearing in my photo roll upon our return!

A two-week vacation is a big endeavor, and by the end, we were all excited to come back home. Now that we’re settled and adjusted to our regular time zone, the mundane and routine is so welcome. I guess that’s the sign of a good trip! We missed a few of our favorite spots in Boise, so we’ll be excited to hit them when we return again.

Shore Trip, Round 1

I didn’t grow up in the Philadelphia area, so I’ve never really understood the “go down the shore” mentality. I enjoy getting down to one of the many beautiful South Jersey beaches each year, but it’s not something that defines summer for me. On the other hand, for my hubby and his family, spending time at the beach is what makes summer summer.

Now that we have kids who are building annual summer memories, I am starting to see the magic of the Jersey Shore. It’s a ritual. It’s not just sand castles and splashing in waves. It’s a close-to-home retreat where you can check in with family, smell fresh sea air, and eat lots of junk food. For locals, it’s full of nostalgia too: You can remember what you did five, ten, or even thirty years ago at many of the shore’s famous landmarks.

We are lucky to have a few beach trips on our docket this summer. We just spent our first weekend down there and had such a great time. Highlights included Nora riding her bike eleven miles on the boardwalk, spending time at the beach, and visiting Ocean City and partaking in the amusement park, shops, and sugary treats.

In August we’ll go back to the beach and explore all sorts of new and familiar things. Visiting the shore is now becoming a summer must-do for me too. Even if I am a little sun-phobic with my pale skin, there’s nothing like watching my East Coast kids dart out to the sea, fly kites, and plead for some unnecessary but totally fun souvenirs (note their new sweatshirts!).

Day Trip: Dutch Wonderland

We spent Friday at Dutch Wonderland. It’s an amusement park in Lancaster, PA, that is directed at preschool-aged children. We’d never been, so I bought tickets earlier this spring to make sure we got there this summer.

It was a beautiful day to go. The forecast lived up to expectations, and it was about 80 degrees and sunny. We went early in the season before most schools are out for summer, so we basically had the place to ourselves.

The kids got to do just about everything in the park, which really made the trip more special. Carson doesn’t love all rides yet (or maybe ever!), but Nora sure was game for anything and everything. It’s fun to watch her grow and push herself to do more “big kid” things. Once she’s ready, she’ll love Hershey Park!

Highlights of the trip included Nora’s first big roller coaster ride, the bumper cars, the log flume, and the amazing main stage diving shows. Carson and Nora had the chance to drive their own cars on the Sunoco race track, which was a huge highlight for them. We also enjoyed the monorail, the train, and the gondola lift as slower-paced and more relaxing attractions.

Happy to have Dutch Wonderland in the books for summer 2016. We’re checking off summer activities at a record pace right now. It’s exhausting for us as parents, but super fun for the kids. Late July and the month of August will be slower and more rejuvenating, as long as we make it! For now, we’re taking full advantage of the nice weather and the wide open schedule. On to the next trip!

 

Another Camping Trip in the Books

We returned late Sunday evening from our annual camping trip. This year we traveled to French Creek State Park, which is not too far from us. We cut it short by one overnight to avoid rain, but it was fine since we did so many fun activities the two days we were there.

Highlights included visiting Hopewell Furnace, canoeing, and swimming. The kids did great in the boat, and it was fun for Steve and me to tag team the rowing. We made it around Hopewell Lake once or twice and went in after Carson got tired of staying so still. I did panic a bit when the boat would rock from movement. Thankfully we stayed dry!

The kids loved exploring all that nature had to offer. They captured many caterpillars, marveled at a few snakes, and were pretty freaked by a big spider in the women’s bathroom (named Helen by other campers!).

I didn’t grab many pictures from our getaway because I was too busy participating in all of the activities! I think that’s a sign of a good trip too!

Finally Warm and Sunny!

We’ve been battered in the northeast with never-ending cloudy skies and lots and lots of rain over the last six weeks or so. Thankfully, that weather pattern has finally broken free and it’s really starting to feel like summer is around the corner.

We did our first summer-like activity last weekend, attending a minor league baseball game. The kids actually paid attention to a lot of the game (and also enjoyed many, many treats and time with friends).

I have filled the docket with more fun this summer, including another baseball game, tickets for plays and an amusement park, a pool membership, and more. Plus we’ve got an annual camping trip with friends this weekend and a two-week-long stay in Idaho come July. Oh, and beach getaways too!

Hope you are excited for the change in weather and those low-key, chill (but hot!) days to come!

Figuring It All Out

I haven’t had a chance to notice my absence from this blog lately. For starters, my professional life has been feeling in full-ish* bloom since December. I took on some large-scale projects with publishers and haven’t had an empty moment since. I am thankful for a new iMac that has helped me get through this hectic time. There’s nothing like editing thousands of references to appreciate a jet-speed computer.

I have also been working hard on myself. I know this seems like a cliched mom phrase, but I’ve needed to take a step back and commit to taking better care of myself. Some of this process has been as simple as eating more fruits. Other basic things have included hair maintenance, clothes shopping, and discovering new media to enjoy. I’ve been reading for pleasure more, binge watching Parks and Recreation (and just discovered Gilmore Girls–seriously, I am behind the times!), and finding other small things that make me happy. (I am a huge sports fan, so there’s always an exciting sports storyline to follow.)

Another endeavor I am committed to this spring is boosting my fitness level. I’ve been dedicated to a good amount of cardio for many years, but now I am trying to increase my intensity (i.e., running) and strength. So far, I have been able to do to this for a few weeks, but I am really hoping it sticks as a lifestyle change. I set up our attic as a fitness space and realize I need to put together a good music mix for treadmill running. I would love to feel stronger, trimmer, and healthier over the summer. And, heck, maybe I could even run a 5K at some point!

Other areas of my life that I continue to work on involve nurturing my many important friendships, spending quality time with my family, and pursuing projects and tasks that make me happy. As strange as it sounds, editing reference lists keeps me sane. And I am learning to move on from certain volunteer projects to make room for new ones. That is a big step for me!

I hope to check in here more as the school year winds down and a few of my long-running projects come to a close. I miss using this outlet to document my not-so-exciting but perfect-for-me life.

* I say full-ish because I am not sure my work life has been well balanced, and I love opportunities to grow my talents. There hasn’t been a lot of time for me to connect with my local networks, and I am not sure if exceeding my projected income for the year by the end of May represents that I have my ish together.

March Fun

 

March has sure been a crazy month for our family. The kids had two breaks — for conferences and spring break. It’s been nonstop fun for them, but they both seemed pretty happy to get back to the school routine today. I am also relieved to have a few months with no major disruptions. My workload is definitely part- to full-time these days.

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This month included some St. Paddy’s celebrations, a trip to our college town, and around town fun, including crafting, mini golfing, trampolining, and more. Nora is Shopkins-obsessed, so we made these ones out of air-dry clay. A fun project to kick off spring break!

 

We loved visiting Ithaca again. Eating at Moosewood was a highlight for this nearly lifelong vegetarian as was seeing the beautiful gorges. Watching the kids enjoy nature and the little things made my heart so happy too. We love theme parks and museums, of course, but there is something to be said about taking your kids to a simpler place to really get away from it all.

Oh, and did I mention that I coordinated two Easter egg hunts? It was rewarding to be involved with these activities, but I sure am excited to have less on my to-do list now that Easter is over! Both went off pretty seamlessly; the weather cooperated for both, which is the most important part of the whole activity.

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And we’ve been baking, cooking, drinking, and enjoying life. The Pioneer Woman came to the rescue for our last-minute Easter meal. This carrot cake was divine, with or without the pecans.

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I love my kids at this age. Seriously, it’s so much fun.

 

Holy Moly! Spring Break?!

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What has happened to this school year? I know Easter is a little on the early side this year, but how on earth have we already reached spring break?

I’ve been having some “long days, short years” feelings lately. Maybe because we’re just a stone’s throw away from kindergarten and the elementary school years. Maybe it’s because my baby is celebrating his fourth birthday this July. Maybe it’s because my part-time workload resembles a full-time one. Or maybe it’s because I feel like my little people are now bigger people and have become friends who keep me company each day.

Our spring break is bookended with Easter egg hunts, includes a mini vacation, and requires me to log a lot of work hours while Steve is home with the kids. It’s pretty representative of where we are these days: we’re busy in the community, tag-teaming kid activities, and trying to make the most of life.

Enjoy the spring weather . . . or in our case possible spring snow on Sunday! I hate the thought of the early blooming magnolias getting covered in snow.

Spring Cleaning

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With spring-like weather teasing us on the East Coast (except for forecasted snow on Friday, which I am actually praying avoids us for the sake of my school/work schedule), I’ve begun the annual process of sifting through our belongings. Sitting in this house for months on end during dark and cold days makes me a little stir crazy. So any sign of spring gets me organizing and planning for nicer months to come.

I tackled our book collection last week, which was an interesting process. Now many, many years removed from college, I am finally able to detach myself from most of my favorite English lit books, reminding myself there is always the library. During this session, I also tossed many baby planning and baby rearing books that were so near and dear to me just a handful of years ago. While there were moments when I wondered about this purging bender, using the “KonMari” approach really helped me let go. I “thanked” and appreciated what the books brought me and then put them in the laundry basket of no return — feeling immense gratitude for various times in my life. I cherish many phases of my three-decade-long journey, but the material objects I possess from favorite periods don’t need to hang around forever.

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The exciting takeaway is that I am left with clean, alphabetized, and manageable bookcases after this activity, which gives me so much joy. I am also delighted to have gathered our vinyl collection in one place, and we’ve decided to move our CDs to the basement once and for all, accepting that having all of them in our iTunes library is sufficient for regular use. Some day I should list the titles of our ’90s alternative/indie rock collection. You’d be impressed.

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In related house project news, we finished our bedroom painting project, and the results are stunning! I love the Sherwin Williams Moody Blue and feel like it’s made our adult space so relaxing. I really wanted a retreat and this color delivered!

 

Between Idea Land and Execution

Home projects top the list for us in the next few weeks, likely because the football season is over and we filled our taxes and didn’t owe a million dollars as I feared (I believe this must be an emotion many small business owners share). Now that we have time and a clearer picture of our financial situation for the year, we’ve been able to pick financially appropriate projects to polish our home.

It’s been nearly two years since we moved into our house. I remember feeling frustrated when we began life in the new house because there was SO much decorating to do. I couldn’t wait to get to the redecorating stage where I could refine my ideas. I think we’re finally there!

Our first order of business is painting our bedroom. This has been on the wish list since we settled, but we’re finally getting to it and I am glad we waited so we could take our time and anticipate it fully. (Plus we’re actually getting full nights of sleep these days, so it’s a good way to celebrate that milestone!) I’ve struggled with the paint color choice, but I think I’ve settled on letting West Elm do the picking for us. We seem to adore blue in the house, so we’re going to try Moody Blue.

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We’ll pair it with white, gray, and yellow accents. downloadThe bedroom refresh also includes finally addressing our aging blinds and the sheers that remain on the room’s small windows, a carry-over from the previous owner. I am ready to freshen up this space and feel at peace in there at last.

We don’t have many more fun aesthetic projects going on, though I did snag some nice new fabric to recover our dining room chairs today. I’ll post pics of the finished product soon!

Other updates:

  • This weekend has brought nicer, milder weather, and I am starting to believe spring is on its way. A friend and I have taken on the planning for the Easter egg hunt, which will be rather early this year, so let’s hope Mother Nature continues her gentle ways.
  • I nerded out this month and watched The Roosevelts, the Ken Burns documentary. I finished the final episode last week and felt a sense of amazement at what that American political family accomplished. It really puts our political cycles in perspective as well as the amazing leadership abilities of some. If you have fourteen hours to spare, watch it.
  • We also watched the original Star Wars trilogy with the kids last week. It’s been fun to revisit the movies again, and my son has taken to reliving each light saber scene. I have no idea how he has absorbed all of the characters’ moves after one watching, but it’s pretty amazing that he’s so captivated.