Thanksgiving Review

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November is nearly in the rearview mirror, and I feel like I am still soaking in Thanksgiving memories while frantically de-pumpkining my house for Christmas decorating. Tonight is the night I have to find the advent calendars to begin the official countdown, and boy, I am not sure I am prepared.

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Our Thanksgiving visitors just left this morning, and we had a WONDERFUL holiday. Full of excursions (the Please Touch Museum, Longwood Gardens, and a short trip to New York City that included the American Girl Store and the very fun Nintendo store!), family (we saw lots of our favorite family members while doing lots of really fun things), movies (“Trolls” and “Moana”), crafts, and eating and drinking — so much of that!

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I am giving myself a buffer of a few days to prepare for the next swing of celebrations. We are excited to host out of town family again very soon as well as our family Hanukkah celebrations. The kids already seem super wound up about the festivity in the air, so I am wishing myself luck in the next few days as I try to recharge for what’s ahead!

And the most challenging thing about December, of course, is getting all of the normal stuff done on top of the special stuff. Trying to make sure my calendar does not get too full.

My Christmas Wish List: 1985

Dear Santa,

Can I please have a Day and Night Barbie for Christmas? I would also like her office/bedroom set! I promise I have been a good girl this year!

Love,

Natalie

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P.S. My baby brother would really appreciate this Garfield.

Postscript: Received and loved that Barbie. Totally loved it. Maybe even had two! Still trying to live up to Barbie’s societal expectations, but no hard feelings.🙂

Thanks Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia for collecting and displaying these vintage toys. Brings back many fond memories.

Mid-November Thoughts

 

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Hi friends,

I have been missing here lately. Life has been overwhelming. I’m parenting a kindergartener and an older preschooler, and things are challenging. I am balancing my roles as mom, small business owner, and volunteer. I feel like I am doing an OK job at a these roles some of the time, but I am struggling. There is not enough time. There is not enough energy. There is not enough of me.

And in case things weren’t feeling low enough, Tuesday was sure a shocker, right?! I am doing my best to process what happened and what is going to happen. I am an optimist and love our country. I believe good will come out of all of the despair, and I am eager to see how those of us committed to love will change the world again. I am confident it will happen.

In the meantime, I could not be prouder of how engaged my children were in this election (not the ugly stuff, but the voting) and how much they care about other people and want to learn more about how our democracy works. I can only hope that the examples I set for them now will empower them to spread goodness and hope throughout their lives.

I teared up and will continue to do so when I read Hillary’s concession speech from yesterday. My favorite quote is directed at young girls, just like my daughter:

I know we have still not shattered that highest and hardest glass ceiling, but some day, someone will, and hopefully sooner than we might think right now. And to all the little girls who are watching this, never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams.

May we work together to heal this country, listen to the needs of others, and spread love where it is most needed. Hoping my spirits lift for the holiday season ahead and that I can step up further and really make a difference in my family, my community, and my country.

 

September Tornado

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Whew! We almost made it through September. And I’ve learned a lot of lessons about transition this month. I had no idea moving up to elementary school, having kids in two schools, and working from home (without enough a child care) would whoop me the way it did. Thankfully, I’ve almost sorted out the immediate problems, and we’re headed into October in one piece.

September was full of lots of fun too. Highlights have included Carson’s first day of his last year of preschool, school picnics, Nora’s sixth birthday, and some football watching (our Eagles are already exceeding expectations).

Let’s keep this positive momentum going!

Finding Our Footing

The first week of school is nearly a wrap. What a week it’s been. First day of kindergarten, first bus ride, first piano lesson later today, and first soccer game tomorrow. What a full, amazing week.

Nora’s got a kindergarten swagger and loves everything about school. I am relieved and excited for the year ahead. We are really lucky to have such an amazing elementary school in our district.

The kids are getting tired out and used to earlier bedtimes. We’ve resumed our daily park trips, which gives them the opportunity to practice their gymnastics skills and get leftover energy out before winding down for the day. We’re also bumping into all of our favorite neighbors and friends more often. After a summer of coming and going, seeing these friendly faces is one of the best parts of the day.

Preschool starts Monday and Steve’s Sunday work schedule begins in two days, so I guess we’re off and running. Hoping more seasonal weather graces us soon. It’s supposed to be 94 today!

Someday Is Now . . .

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Just about six years ago, we welcomed Nora into our world. She’s been lighting up our lives since that very day, and now it’s time for her next big milestone: kindergarten (and public school, the bus, and so much more).

Nora is an amazing kid with so much drive and determination. She’s completely ready for this next phase of her life. On the other hand, I am a nervous, emotional mess. How can it be that she’s school-aged now?

When Nora was born, I was acutely aware that we’d get an “extra” year with her at home because her birthday falls right after our school district’s cutoff date. Being the pragmatic person that I am, I definitely calculated the added year in terms of child care costs right away. It wasn’t until later that I realized how grateful I was to have that extra year with her. Nora benefited from her birthday falling where it does (likewise, her summer birthday brother seems perfectly suited for his given year of school as well). That additional year also helped me get my priorities straight and come into my own as a mom. Right before she turned three I took the plunge with a freelance career and left the nine-to-five life behind. That change allowed me to give her more of my time and really connect. This year we’ll still have some bonus time (kindergarten is just a half day in our district), so that leap keeps reaping rewards.

Every day I am delighted, humbled, and thankful for what this girl has brought me: more love, more patience, more fun, and more awe. I cannot wait to see Nora thrive in her new environment, even if it takes me awhile to adjust…

 

Last Days of Summer

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Despite nightly wakings (by me!) because of the new school routine that awaits in a few days, we’ve been enjoying the final weeks/days of summer.

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Last weekend we took a trip to Longwood Gardens as a family of four. After a busy summer where we were often coming and going in packs of two or three, spending time with just us has been a priority. This weekend we are getting out a little too, dining at a few restaurants, picking apples, and watching a few movies (and college football games!).

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I hope you are enjoying this final weekend of carefree summer too.

Mid-Summer Slump (Or Not)

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August 14 sure sounds like mid-month, don’t you think? Personally, I’ve always struggled with August, mostly because sky-high temperatures, relentless humidity, and rampant mosquitoes get old. I was always the kid counting down the days until school started. It’s just my way — I am an anticipator!

This time around is a little different though. Yes, summer weather is brutal. We’re in the midst of a severe heat wave and beating it with time at the pool and a Disney princess movie marathon. But the kids have had many weeks of activities in a row, my parents just gave them a dream stretch of grandparent camp, and we’re headed to the beach again soon. Plus my hubby has been out of town since mid-July (yes, a month!) and comes home tonight. It’s almost as though we’re going to experience a summer reprise once we’re a happy family of four again.

The weeks on my own have been hard, but they have also borne fruit. I spent a lot of time solo with the kids, playing with them, cleaning up after them, comforting them, dreaming with them. I’ve put them to bed twenty-four nights in a row (remarkable, since Steve is the bath/bed parent in the house). It was helpful to be their one and only as we prepare for the school year, not only to get a grasp on where they are developmentally but also to really size up their wardrobes and prepare for what’s ahead.

These solo weeks have also required me to ask for help and line up more child care than usual, which has been a blessing. Often I burn the candle at both ends, working a full-time job as a stay-at-home mom during the day and spending the evenings on the computer, editing books and journals and writing articles. I love having a career in addition to being the go-to parent, but it can be hard to juggle it all. This time without Steve has required me to lean on the grandparents, line up babysitters, and even add a few weeks of camp to the kids’ schedules. I am in a much healthier space regarding time management than I have been in for a long time.

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There have been many highlights during Steve’s time away. The kids and I have gone to the farmers’ market twice, had meals with many friends and family, gone out to dinner spontaneously a few times, traveled to the beach, swam at the pool, and crafted a lot — from coloring parties to sewing afternoons. I told the kids last night that I hope they’ll still give me a few kisses once Dad is home — it will be an adjustment for me to take second billing around here for a bit.

In spite of these fun times, I am thrilled to get my coparent back. For the past month, I’ve gone through another season of Gilmore Girls, done countless chores, and risen from slumber to check if the doors were locked on many, many nights.

Here’s to three more weeks of blissful summer.

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!).