Life and Pie

We’re celebrating Memorial Day by attending a local parade and gathering with friends this afternoon. After working like an editing dog this weekend, I look forward to getting away from the computer screen!

Oh, and this pie is nearly baked:

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With summer upon us, we’re already checking things off our to-do list. I suggested to Nora that she learn how to ride her bike without training wheels and swim on her own. Well she’s nailed the first goal, not even a week into her summer vacation. Intensive swim lessons begin in mid-July so we’ll see if she can master the second task!

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Nora’s newfound bike-riding ability is not the only thing giving me pause about these kids growing up. I posted this pic of the kids on my social media accounts earlier this week and could not believe the difference in their mugs from the beginning to the end of the school year.

Hope you have a great day and kick off summer right!

The Evolution of Me

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My blog has become way less fun over the last several months. I’m sure you’ve noticed. Nat’s Distractions began with my idea to blog about craft projects I’d created. Then, after a few years, I had kids so those projects became fewer and fewer and baby rearing posts became more frequent. Then, somewhere along the way, I decided to go back to work as a freelancer and the mundane started to prevail over the sweet and dear. I think I’m in a boring phase. But I am OK with that, really.

Running a small business is really fun, except when the work starts to take over your life! (Ha!) Since January, I’ve been saddled with project after project (the goal, of course!), which has diminished my productivity in other (more fun) areas of life.

As much as I am hyperfocused on freelancing and expanding my editing empire, I need to find some fun again. We’ll be on the road as a family a few times this summer and I have a third birthday party to plan. I’d love to paint our kitchen cabinets. I found myself over on the Amy Butler site a few days ago and am intrigued about getting a sewing project going. And my family would agree that finding an interest in cooking again would be nice!

For now, bear with me. I am amazed at the results of my attempts to build a small business, and I am experiencing a lot of general growing pains related to it. I agonize over my client base, pricing, workload, etc. I dream of finding balance and avoiding burnout, but for now I feel like I’ve got to own my endeavors and struggle through the busy times.

The best takeaway of building my small business is a fun local networking group I’ve found. Between it, the MOMS Club, and my church network, I am simply amazed by the wonderful connections I have in my life as a transplant, mom, and entrepreneur. I have met lots of amazing people (even the one who took this beautiful new headshot) and am excited to link my talents in the writing/editing field with other female small business owners. After muddling through my twenties as a professional, I love the more empowered version of myself and hope it sticks around for the next decade (or two or three).

The last thing I’ll mention here is my struggle to link this blog with my professional work. I have always wanted to maintain privacy with this space and have avoided sharing it with my Facebook network. However, I realize this blog showcases my writing and personality (and might overshare personal events?). I’m trying to figure out how to marry my professional and personal identities. For the entrepreneur, I think these identities are sometimes one in the same, but I hesitate to be too “out there” in case I want to go back to one of those more buttoned-up corporate environments some day. Any ideas? For now, I’ll let you know about my professional page (www.silverscribeeditorial.com). It’s my first step in merging these worlds!

My Guide to Summer Break

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I’ve been planning our summer since January. As soon as we took down the Christmas tree, I started devising a master spreadsheet documenting our planned summer expenses and hopes for travel, activities, and home improvement projects. I’ve been dutifully managing this Google Document, highlighting cells in red, green, blue — you name it — to track all that we plan to do this summer.

Not exactly spontaneous, I’ll admit, but practical for a family with two growing kids, a nearly century-old house, and ambition.

So what’s gone into planning my kids’ four-month-long summer?

For the preschool set, this extra-long summer can be a relief and a burden. For my youngest, who’s got only potty training and his birthday party on the docket for the first few months, free time to sleep in, stay in pajamas, and play with Imaginext comprises the perfect day. For my oldest, who is nearing five and has another year of preschool to go, that list of activities would make her (and me) crazy. Given that we’re not millionaires, I’ve broken our summer into weeks to make sure that she’s got enough scheduled ones (with some unstructured ones peppered throughout mid-May through mid-September) to keep us all sane.

She’ll be doing three weeks of camp at a progressive preschool that we could never afford during the year. She’ll have two weeks of camp at her preschool, tacked on to the end of the school year, where she can go and spend time with her favorite teachers and make some new friends from other classes. I’ve also signed her up for classes at the YMCA — swimming, tennis, sports — that she’ll do with her brother later in the summer. And we’ve got a few vacations — camping, a car trip to Virginia, time at the New Jersey Shore, and an end-of-summer trip out West — that will fill up those sixteen weeks of summer.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am a firm believer in free time (and giving kids the chance to be bored). But, after last summer that involved too many unstructured weeks, I’ve learned that our summer needs to be somewhat orchestrated, too. I’ve packed lots of activities into August, when it’s unbearably humid and I become one cranky mama. I hope our open weeks in June can be savored and enjoyed because we’re fresh out of the school year routine and the humidity has yet to build a cloud in my brain.

Our open days will be filled with trips to the zoo, aquarium, and library; playdates with friends we see often and and not-so-often during the school year; and activities like crafts and cooking. Obviously I’ll have more free days with my son, but he’ll be game for just about anything. My daughter will enjoy her free time more if she has future activities to look forward to (in our house we count the number of “sleeps” until a given event).

With this schedule, I hope to keep my sanity and enjoy my kids and their littleness. I love being an at-home mom, but even I have my limits on breaking up fights, fixing snacks, and figuring out what to do next. This schedule should give me some relief from the never-ending summer (did I say that!?) while also providing time to bond with my bear cubs.

Do you remember those long summer weeks as a kid? What were your favorite things to do?

Kids in the Creek

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Spring is here and we’re finding ways to get tired each afternoon. I am lucky to have a park within a block of our house where we meet some of our favorite friends each day around 4 p.m. This hub offers my kids the quintessential childhood experience: free play with friends while parents gab and pay only moderate attention to the goings-on. So far this season there’s been plenty of dirt digging, Ninja Turtle role play, and, yes, even creek moments.

When you’re a kid, there’s nothing like throwing stones in rushing water.

Going down to the creek is a new development for our family. Last year, I would not entertain the possibility of scrambling down the creek’s four-foot bank to get wet. That’s because Carson was still a baby, not even two years old.

And now? Well, the kid is almost three.

I am so excited to have a three-year-old this summer. Like, seriously, SO EXCITED. If my youngest is three, that means we have made it through some really hard years and survived. We’ve moved on from life revolving around diapers, feeding, sleeping, etc. It’s all getting easier, and I am acutely aware of this change in our family.

If you know me personally, chances are that I’ve talked to you in a hyped-up voice about our summer. I cannot wait for it. It’s full of cool summer camps, swim lessons, sports activities, and trips. We’ll eat awesome veggies through our CSA and trek to our farmers’ market for fruit. We’re going to attempt an herb garden and do some cooking. We’ll venture to the farm, the zoo, the aquarium, the library, parks, ice cream shops, and more in our spare, unstructured time. We’ll see family and friends often and try to convince the kids to stay up later and sleep in (until 7 or 8 if I am lucky). Summer is going to be awesome.

And you know what’s also awesome? When summer winds down and the leaves begin to turn colors, my two wonderful, creative, loving children will go to school together on the same day. I will drop them off in the car line and drive away with no children in my car three days a week. I will finally have some “free” time to work on editing and writing projects so our weekends can become fun again. I can’t believe that we’re almost there…

Here’s to the last month of preschool, flowering trees, the upcoming fun fair around the corner from our house, and spring soccer. I promise not to rush this season of rebirth, but I remain gleeful about the season to come.

Stretched Thin and What to Do About It

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Almost two years ago when I quit my corporate job, my wise aunt informed me that I would fill up my newfound time so much that I would wonder how I ever fit that job into my life. Nervous to be home full time with my kids, I had a hard time believing her. How would I manage the long, lonely days tethered to my children without the assistance of day care? Even though I desperately needed a change in my life, I was intimidated by the vast amounts of time awaiting me each week on Monday mornings when my stay-at-home-mom routine went into effect.

Filling up the calendar was a challenge the first summer I was home. I would schedule weekly activities on my Cozi calendar, write out daily craft ideas on a refrigerator pad, and have yet another place to list chores like grocery shopping and bathroom cleaning, in fear that I would run out of ideas for things to do. This system was my safety net, providing me with structure and security when I needed it. I was lucky to rope in a few moms to schedule regular-standing playdates, which really seemed to help my routine, and I tried to stretch out park playtime and water table fun as much as possible.

It’s hard to imagine that I feel stretched thin now, given that my life seems relatively similar to twenty-three months ago. I still have two little kids at home and am managing at least one of them at all times every week. Yet, despite this reality, I have added so much to my plate without even factoring in how I will accomplish it all with my limited free time. Unconsciously, I have created a sinking ship.

I am inspired to grow my editing and writing work into a dependable business and am energized to still have a career two years after leaving my reliable corporate job. But I am tasked to fit work into my already-packed schedule of ferrying children, arranging playdates, and completing chores. I’m also volunteering at church frequently and have added workouts to my calendar three days a week. While I want to “do it all” — raise my kids, have a career, and give back to the community, life has its limitations.

I didn’t realize this internal strife about time until this week. After working the entire weekend, which happened to be the first gorgeous one of the year, and receiving message after message via email and social media accounts of awesome volunteer opportunities and not-to-be-missed social dates, I started to agonize about the hours in the day.

As I went on a walk with a dear friend yesterday, I dumped these feelings on her as we meandered through our neighborhood. Her observations crystalized the thoughts running through my head, though I didn’t have the breakthrough until later that evening. She said that from personal experience, she’s only able to manage two things at once. After thinking about this breakdown of life’s many responsibilities and opportunities, I realized that I need to grab hold of the two things I want to focus on most and let everything else go. So, at this juncture, I am choosing family and my small business (which includes getting back to blogging!). Every commitment for the time being will have to relate to those priorities. Of course, I will work on myself too, but I am using this 50/50 rule to help reduce the feelings of overcommitment and stress in my life.

After breakfast this morning, I read a blog post from my feedly account called “How to Give People a Watered Down, Exhausted Version of Yourself” from yes and yes. Wow, how that post was the right message at the right time! Here’s an excerpt:

Being exhausted and overwhelmed serves no one. It’s better to be great at two things than shitty at seven. You deserve to actually enjoy your job and relationships; they deserve the best you have to offer.

Are you guilty of taking on too much and then doing a less-than-amazing job on all of it? Where could you cut back? If you’ve stopped overdoing it – what did you stop doing?

So, there you have it. The universe is telling me to stick to those two things that are calling me at this very moment. I’ll keep you posted on my progress in giving those things the best I have to offer.

One Year Here

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Today (or tomorrow, depending on how to look at it), we celebrate one year in our forever home (I hope). What a year it’s been! Full of decorating and now redecorating, establishing new traditions, and living everyday life.

In April 2014 we were excited and overwhelmed. We doubled our square feet, bought a house that was built in 1928, and found a neighborhood that is absolutely amazing for raising children.

This April, we feel settled and comforted by the fact that we’ve found our family home. It has been a joy to see the seasons change in our house, and we look forward to enjoying the second round of each season. This year’s spring will be much more productive in terms of yard work, which I am eager to get to (if only it would warm up!).

What better way to commemorate the year by receiving a book chronicling our move today?

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And to show this house that we’re going to keep on keeping on, we finished our work on the powder room last weekend, thanks to a super handy friend.

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(Here’s a before of that lovely room when we bought the house!)

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It’s been a great year, friends!

Sunshine

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There’s nothing like a clear, sunny, 70-degree day without plans. I sit here basking in our first truly beautiful day of 2015, watching the kids play in the backyard. Nora pushes the Sit and Stand stroller, pretending to mother her brother. Carson plays along–until he’s had enough and then finds a stick to use for his ninja moves.

I see buds on the trees. Irises poke out of the soil in our front yard. Spring is here, at last.

School reopens tomorrow after a weeklong spring break. How I’ve loved this time to go on adventures with my little ones. We’ve logged some miles in the car, stayed up past our bedtimes, and eaten a lot of Easter candy.

These days are good.

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.