Family Vacation: Williamsburg, VA and Washington, DC

Forgive me if this post is not exhaustive in detail about our five-day family vacation. We returned Sunday evening after an action-packed string of days, and I am still recovering! I did want to highlight favorite moments of the trip before I forget about them. I hope Nora and I can compile a photo album this summer capturing the family fun. She took many of the pictures, which was an exciting new interest for her.

P1060344

We began our journey at Great Wolf Lodge in Williamsburg, Virginia. We decided staying in a kid-friendly, swim-oriented hotel would balance the more adult portion of the trip — Colonial Williamsburg. We ventured to the colonial section of town on two separate occasions, dining at the King’s Arms Tavern, scoping out the trade shops and historical replicas, and even training to be in the local militia (circa 1780 or so).

P1060361

Nora and Carson both got hats and accessories during our visits to Colonial Williamsburg, which made for adorable photos. As a generous mother to a boy, I even allowed Carson to buy a wooden sword.

P1060352

Our time at Great Wolf Lodge brought us closer together as a family. Nora went on most of the water slides and Carson was a good sport about just about every pool — even the wave pool! We enjoyed being active with our little ones as well as having entertainment for the kids. Both Nora and Carson enjoyed the nightly good-night show in the lobby.

IMG_6895

After three nights in Williamsburg, we began our trek up north, stopping in Washington, DC, for a night to catch up with beloved friends and see some sites. The friends we stayed with have kids too, so Nora and Carson were in heaven playing with their toys and running around the house. The weather was a bit of a monsoon that day, so we were happy to have some rambunctious company!

IMG_6912

Our last day of vacation involved visiting two Smithsonian museums. The crappy weather the day before cleared and we had a gorgeous, non-humid day in the nation’s capital. We took the kids to the Natural History and Air and Space museums. Both kids enjoyed the displays as well as the souvenir machines that smash pennies. That was probably the highlight of their trip.

IMG_6921

The final stop on this epic vacation included a visit with college besties, who live in the city limits. We dined on a wonderful meal and caught up with them. I was grateful the kids were well behaved and still hanging in there despite the time away from home.

A few vacation notes:

  • It was so fun to drive to our vacation destination. While I love plane travel for visiting my family out West, it was enjoyable to pop in and out of the car as needed to reassemble.
  • We divided our drive back home in half by stopping in DC. That was a fantastic idea.
  • I am exhausted from our trip. The kids’ schedules are the same as ours right now, so there’s not a lot of “down” time. Everyone is struggling with tiredness this week as we recover from the vacation and re-enter our daily routine.
  • I am not sure how to mix the right amount of formal and informal meals on vacations. The kids will either eat nothing or eat everything, so we tried to limit the number of sit-down meals while away and stocked up on lots of snacks to eat throughout the day. Some days this worked and on others it didn’t. I miss frequent restaurant meals because that’s what a vacation is to me, but I don’t want to spend that kind of money to feed four people three times a day. The good news is that we all love Chipotle, so I should just consider eating there for every meal.
  • I love traveling with my kids. They are cool people and absorb so much of what we do. While they don’t know much about U.S. history at this stage in their lives, I felt confident that we created a base layer for their knowledge. I loved watching them touch the rocks in the geology section of the Smithsonian’s Natural History museum and pointing out some of the beautiful landmarks of Washington, DC. It was a super-cool feeling as a parent to be giving my kids the gift of travel and curiosity.

Lots of Summer Stuff

IMG_6750

Last week was a busy one. The kids and I trekked to the dinosaur museum, the movies, the zoo, and a friend’s pool. We’re staying active and giving the kids lots of ideas for role play during quieter moments. To be honest, I am a little tired at the end of each full day!

Overall, summer’s humming along, and we’re headed for a very exciting few weeks. I am breaking out of my “boring” phase for some travel, projects, and parties. I appreciate summer’s lightheartedness.

Our family vacation will take us to Williamsburg, Virginia. I can’t wait to explore our country’s history with the kids as well as enjoy the water park at our hotel. Steve and I haven’t taken a trip with just the kids in a long while (maybe since Disney World more than two years ago?), so this is a welcome retreat. My mind is racing related to packing and tying up loose ends before we leave. I know how much I need this getaway though, so I am not anxious in the least about hitting the pause button for a bit.

We’ve settled on a few more home projects when we return from our trip. I’ve decided that I need to add some of my favorite colors in the house, so we’ll tackle painting the kitchen, dining room, and bathroom in the next few weeks. I’ve selected favorite swatches that I used in our previous house. I am so excited to see the results of our painting endeavors.

July is a month full of parties. We’ve got a big Fourth of July celebration ahead and will celebrate our little guy turning three. There are a few more shindigs thrown in throughout the month, too. I want to maximize the warm weather and festive feeling that this middle-of-the-year month brings.

I hope that all of the above-mentioned things will make fun blog posts soon. Even though I am busy with my business and kids, I still enjoy popping on here and documenting life in progress. Glad I pulled through the blog slump and kept it going, even if I am not quite as dedicated as I used to be.

Summer Reading

IMG_6690
Recent library fun.

I’ve been following my heart lately and doing what I love: reading. While I’ve been flipping through fewer adult novels and creative nonfiction (my favorites), I’ve been editing like mad and reading tons of picture books to the kids. My happy place is with the written word, and summer is a spectacular time to re-engage with what I love and make some ambitious reading goals.

We are counting down to the start of the library’s summer reading program, and I hope to enter some reviews of adult books in addition to tracking the minutes the kids and I spend reading together each week. I love our library’s program. The kids just have to read 100 minutes a week and do an activity (such as story time or the weekly craft) to receive a prize during our library trips. These days, both Nora and Carson enjoy a variety of books. We read classics like Babar and those by Dr. Seuss as well as contemporary staples like Pinkalicious and ones by Mo Willems. I just bought the kids collections of phonics and sight word readers with Superman and Disney Princess themes, which add some fun and simpler reading to our queue.

Now that I am devoting significant hours to paid writing and editing, pleasure reading has become a precious commodity. My mom gave me several books recently that I hope to finish by summer’s end. The Rosie Project, The Girl on the Train, and Wild top the list. I can read on the treadmill at the YMCA, which should give me some time to knock these out as well as days at the beach with grandparents enlisted to watch the kids.

What’s on your summer reading list?

Worshipping Summer

IMG_6700

We’re in the middle of a glorious summer week, complete with a heat wave at the conclusion of it. Though I’ll groan about these 90-degree-plus days by August, I welcome this hot and sunny season with open arms.

Last week Mother Nature presented several days of cold and dreary. While I didn’t mind it at first, by day five I was ready to feel rays of sunshine on my face. It’s time to leave rain jackets behind and venture forth into this fun and relaxed season.

Today we traveled to a nearby farm to pick strawberries, raspberries, and cherries. While out in the field sweltering in the sun, I soaked in the beauty and abundance of summer. Sweet berries ripe on the bush being plucked by small children who put more of them in their mouths than in the basket. Peaches nearing ripeness, the fruit still small and green but showing signs of splendor. Two-feet-tall corn stalks reaching for the horizon, promising deliciousness by August.

As I squatted to reach for strawberries, I remembered other fruit-picking experiences in my life. Harvesting peaches, cherries, blackberries, and huckleberries with my grandparents, parents, and siblings as a child. Enjoying a blueberry-picking day with best friends in college. Plucking apples from the tree with my babies just a few years ago. No matter my age or those who surround me, summer will bring sweet fruits and savory vegetables each and every year.

The time spent in the orchards paired with our biweekly delivery of fresh produce fill me with gratitude for these warm, sunny, and bountiful months. While winter is long, summer is too, and I plan to make the most of it.

Camping 2015

IMG_6669

Last weekend we ventured to the Delaware coast for our summer camping adventure. After a successful one-night trip last year, we embarked on a two-night adventure this time. We lucked out with weather in the 80s, a far cry from the cold rainy week we’re having now.

IMG_6627

Having grown up in Idaho, I had never experienced beach camping. We stayed at Cape Henlopen State Park and could view the ocean with just a short walk. We explored the bay on Saturday, and the kids got to see horseshoe crabs, hermit crabs, snails, and a lot of other sea life.

IMG_6652

Carson and Nora loved getting dirty, camping treats, and sleeping in nature. We actually managed to sleep during the trip, which still astounds me!

IMG_6639

Did I mention the beautiful view?

Check off the first adventure of summer 2015. More to come!

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:

IMG_6612

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!

IMG_6573

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

N-1-twitter

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

IMG_6426a

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

IMG_6454

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

IMG_6422

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.