2016 Blizzard

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I am moments away from tackling the snow piled up in front of my house. The kids are begging to go play outside again, but I need just a few more sips of coffee before I get going.

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As most of you know, the East Coast got walloped by a big snowstorm yesterday. True to form, Steve had to get out and drive in the ridiculous weather to put TV shows into your homes. With the football championship games on today, I would like to think more people than usual are tuned in for his live show this morning. A TV spouse can hope, right?!

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The kids and I got to enjoy being snowed in though, and we walked through the neighborhood last night after a friend invited us over for dinner (such a kind offer!). It was so peaceful to walk through the winter wonderland, even if it means we have to deal with the blizzard’s messy aftermath in the days to come.

Okay, time to dig out!

A Fresh Start in 2016

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Happy New Year, all!

We rung in 2016 in a low-key style, which was just perfect. Our last week of holiday break included Star Wars, Legos, playdates, and more. I loved leisurely mornings and some late(ish) nights. It felt so good to be relaxed and unaware of the days of the week. Holiday break was just right.

But now it’s January.

We’re finally experiencing some cold weather on the East Coast, and Steve’s and my work calendars are a little on the insane side. It could be trouble for my outlook, but I am instead choosing to view this month with a positive perspective.

It feels so nice to be done with the holidays, to have the calendar free and full of possibility. We are already planning a West Coast vacation, a pool membership, and house projects for this spring and summer. Steve and I are binge watching Parks and Recreation. My friends and I are plotting some craft projects for the year. And the kids and I have plenty of new toys and gadgets to paw through in the next few months.

Here’s to large cups of hot tea, adult coloring books, and sweatpants for the remainder of the month!

 

Holiday Highlights

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I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season with family and friends. I feel like the last few weeks have been nonstop, with visits to and from family, activities to keep multiple generations happy, and constant meal preparation. The remainder of our week will be a little more normal (my parents just left today [sniff, sniff]), but I am not sure I am ready to clear out the Christmas decorations or stop eating holiday treats quite yet.

I’ve had a great stretch of being unplugged, which coincided with my parents’ visit. I continue to be flush with freelance work (yay!), but I was able to step away from the screen for a few days to refresh. How nice it was! I am slowly getting back into work mode as the week progresses and deadlines loom.

Our holiday was full of excitement. The freakishly warm weather took away a little of my spirit at Christmas, but it was fun nonetheless. We actually grilled our Christmas dinner to avoid having the oven on for hours! I didn’t think we’d ever get a 70-degree-plus day on Christmas in Philly. However, the kids’ excitement did not wane, and they adored their many gifts and all of our family gatherings.

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I am thrilled with how much we’ve been able to do in 2015, and the holiday season has been no different. With each year, the kids get more excited to travel and embark on adventures. Our trip to New York City included an elevator ride to the top of the Empire State Building. Another outing took us to Longwood Gardens, and we enjoyed the holiday happenings with Nora walking most of the way.IMG_8222

We’re beginning to plan travel and hatch other ideas for 2016. I am excited to have a clean calendar in January and  hope to hunker down with some cold weather in the coming weeks to recharge for exciting months ahead. Before we get to 2016 though, my hubby and I are marking our TEN year anniversary. How time goes by …

 

 

Holiday Break

 

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Well, it’s here people! Our holiday break!

So far in December, we’ve been operating at breakneck speed to fit in all of our holiday festivity and usual productivity. There have been local festivals, a symphony, a Nutcracker performance, and more. I’ve been cramming in work projects in the evenings and on rare weekend openings to meet deadlines. But now, we’re looking at two and a half weeks of routine busting, so anything goes. Bedtimes are already later after just two nights of break!

My kids sang their hearts out at Wednesday’s preschool holiday performance, which signaled the end of the first half of the school year. They serenaded the crowd with holiday favorites, such as “Dreidel, Dreidel,” “Rudolph,” and “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town.” Nora’s class (the upperclass!) sang “Keep Christmas with You,” even incorporating sign language. Melt. My. Heart. Nora braved a seat on Santa’s lap, though Carson was still too nervous to talk to the big man.

Our break will be anything but peaceful in the coming days, but it sure will be a lot of fun. We’re headed north to New York City for a quick and full 36-hour getaway. Then we host family for Christmas week. The days to come involve lots of magic, including multiple gift openings, yummy food, a trip to a local favorite — Longwood Gardens — and more. Of course I’ve had my stressed-out mom moments while planning for all of this, but I am beginning to relax and want to enjoy what’s to come.

I wish you a wonderful holiday season! I hope it fills your heart with joy and love.

 

 

 

Expanding Their World

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I admit, recent news — both international and national — has rocked me to my core. As a person of this world, I am processing all that’s happened in the way of violence and ignorance. As a parent in this world, I have tried to figure out the best way to prepare my kids for life and hoped to find a way to tap into the holiday spirit that currently envelops them.

This weekend proved to be a remedy to the uncertainty the world has presented lately. Here’s what we did:

  • We got out of the house.
  • We attended different holiday and cultural events, including a symphony, a local holiday festival, and Center City holiday shows.
  • We connected with friends, neighbors, and others in our circle.
  • We celebrated Hanukkah to recognize some of our family’s roots.
  • We showed the kids what the world has to offer.

At this time in my life, I am focusing on love, peace, happiness, joy, potential, and awe rather than the alternatives. I am giving my kids a childhood full of magic and adventure, in hopes that they will become compassionate and understanding people as they grow. There are many years ahead where I can engage in all of the wrongs of the world, but right now I am choosing the path of optimism.

I am thankful for my life, for our country, for our world. It’s a pleasure day in and day out to reveal the small and big things life has to offer to my curious children. I hope every parent can give their kids the gift of exploration, exposure, and excitement so we can continue to live in a simply awe-inspiring world, despite the challenges we face.

 

A Very Star Wars Christmas

Like many of you, our family is Star Wars-crazy right now. It’s pretty hard to escape the franchise this year, with Disney’s marketing efforts going above and beyond. It seems that all everyday items have Star Wars branding and that nearly every toy store or toy section is bursting with light sabers, action figures, and more.

Of course, with a captive 3-year-old-boy in the house, we’re all in on this Star Wars stuff. Imaginext Millennium Falcon? Check. Darth Vader Mr. Potato Head? Check. Light sabers from Santa (for both kids)? Check. Nora’s purchased a Darth Vader mask for Carson, and my brother and sister-in-law even got in on the action, shipping an adorable stuffed Yoda for Christmas morning. Star Wars is a family affair!

I can take comfort in the fact that Star Wars is a universally loved and timeless franchise, so this stuff should remain of interest for years to come. And Carson hasn’t yet seen the movies beyond A New Hope, which got him a little too wound up and jumpy this summer. We’ll hold off on more viewing parties in the foreseeable future, but the Lego Star Wars options are pretty amazing substitutes right now. Plus, he has no trouble playing with the Storm Trooper and Darth Vader action figures he got earlier this year. He’s got a lively imagination.

In other Christmas gifting news:

Carson asked Santa for the Paw Patrol hub — a truck that can hold three characters and that comes with Ryder. He’d seen it at other kids’ houses, and his mind was blown by it. Having a few years of children’s gift-giving under our belts, Steve and I knew we needed to get this as soon as he was committed, and we used our Amazon credit card points to snag it in early November along with a few of the pups. Well, thank goodness we did! This toy and the pups are crazy expensive and hard to get on Amazon now! The supply and demand of Christmas toys is really an amazing thing to watch.

Gifting for a 5-year-old is pretty fun. Nora’s still a year shy of kindergarten, but she’s interested in so many things. In her haul? A pop-up atlas, a new coat, road tape and road signs, and Michelle Obama paperdolls. She’ll love all of these. And because Steve and I can’t help ourselves, we did splurge on a few Barbies and some doll outfits. She doesn’t love toys, but I can’t help but think she will play with them in different stages of her life.

Christmas came early for me this year. I upgraded my computer on Black Friday and now am enjoying an iMac with a nice large screen. Of course, it’s for my freelance work, but I am happy to know I’ll begin 2016 with good ergonomics! And maybe it will save my eyes for another few years. Adult Christmas presents are a little more practical and expensive, wouldn’t you say?

Fall to Winter; Thanksgiving to Christmas

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I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Ours was stuffed full of family and delicious eats.

This four-day weekend is always packed. It’s a transition time, with the harvest-celebrating days ending with the arrival of Santa in the Thanksgiving Day parade and the last piece of pumpkin pie. The day after Turkey Day is Black Friday, of course, where there are deals to snatch up and decorations to dig out of the basement.

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We sure maximized this week. We bought and wrapped many of our gifts. We hung lights outside. We decked the halls, though we’ll hold off on the tree for another weekend. We even started some Christmas crafts and listened to vintage Elvis Christmas vinyl that I snagged from my parents’ house back in August. Oh, and we already fit in my favorite holiday movie: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.

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Now that we’re just two sleeps away from beginning our advent calendar, I feel ready. I am ready to get back to work on several freelance projects that recently came my way without stressing about everything that needs to get done (I’ve already done so much of it!). I am excited to enjoy the season and what it brings on my own terms. And this year, that means getting things done early.

I wish you the best of luck as you prepare for your holiday, no matter how you want to do it.

 

Finished: Christmas Napkins

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I’ve been a crafter for my entire life. In my adult years, I’ve enjoyed making handmade items around the holidays. However, in an effort to avoid half-finished projects in December, I always make it my goal to finish any crafting by Thanksgiving. That way I can turn my attention to all of the other holiday merry-making as we lead up to Santa’s arrival.

This year I want to have a beautifully set table for Christmas meals. I just bought a few items to serve as the table’s centerpiece, and I’ll use these newly made napkins for each table setting. Generally I am a low-fuss entertainer, but there’s something special about having a beautiful home around Christmas. Plus, I have piles of Christmas fabric sitting in my attic waiting for me to do something with them.

These were easy to put together. I got in my head that each napkin should have perfectly mitered corners but quickly gave up on that after taking a step back and asking myself who would notice. With just a few creases to iron and a little straight sewing, these came together in no time.

I am enlisting the kids to make some napkin rings to adorn these cute vintage-inspired Santa napkins. This is the same fabric on Carson’s Christmas stocking, and I am glad to feature it elsewhere in our decor because I adore the print.

 

In Praise of November

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So far, November has been good to us. We packed the beginning of it with some exciting excursions, plan to relax in the middle of it, and will round it out with more excitement come Thanksgiving.

I’ve opened Santa’s Workshop (aka Nat’s Workshop) for some holiday crafting, so there’s lots going on but with very little stress because it’s still November. I am an early planner, so I am aiming to get most of my shopping and making done this month.

I was excited to make an alphabet photo book for Carson for Christmas (the cover is above). This contains family photos that represent every letter of the alphabet.

I am also inspired to fill the kids’ advent calendar with homemade Perler bead items, so I hope to find some time for that before December 1. That also depends on the kids skipping naps and going to bed early.

We’re previewing some Thanksgiving foods tonight and staying cozy under blankets during our first blustery day of November. I am also sending warm thoughts to those who are affected by recent events worldwide. We are so lucky to live where we do, and every day I say words of thanks for our life. If only all could live with such peace and ease.

Finished: Kid Hats

I’ve caught the yarn crafting bug again. This stress reliever has been good to get me away from the computer screen so I don’t obsess about my small business 24/7. It’s also been fun to make hats for free using my massive stash of Vanna’s Choice yarn.

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I crocheted basic beanie hats for my kids this week. Nora’s is a rainbow pattern and Carson’s is inspired by our favorite adolescent mutant turtles who are also trained ninjas.

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Both kids agreed to model these hats, but the weather has been in the 70s lately, so we’re not sporting winter accessories outdoors yet.