10 March Things

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  1. I am crafting again! I crocheted this Power Ranger for Carson and am working on the Coffee Shop Wrap. I bought the kit from Lion Brand and love the colors and the lightweight cotton yarn. Hoping I can enjoy it by April (meaning that it will be finished!).
  2. It snowed and sleeted all day today. So much for spring!
  3. We are heading out on a family adventure in a few days to an indoor water park. This corresponds to the year of fun I mentioned in January. Both kids are very excited to have this getaway and it helped us push off a Disney World vacation for another year.
  4. Before the temperatures plummeted this weekend, March entered like a lamb. I stocked up on some fun Lularoe for spring, put out some Easter decorations, and got the kids’ spring schedules lined up. Think baseball and running!
  5. We’re binging on The Great British Baking Show right now on Netflix. Steve and I seriously look forward to watching it every night.
  6. I’m trying to take actions that represent my progressive viewpoint a few times a month. This includes donating to worthy causes, contributing to making my community a better place, and finding ways to stand up to those who are less privileged than me.
  7. We booked plane tickets for our summer vacation. It involves visiting family and squeezing in a few new states for the kids. Stay tuned!
  8. We have a family wedding coming up. The kids are excited to see their aunt and uncle tie the knot and there are many festivities related to it. The best part for Nora is that it involves another trip to New York City, her favorite place!
  9. I have incorporated listening to Young House Love Has a Podcast into my weekly exercise routine. It’s a great one for a thirty-minute walk. And I am not getting too focused on house improvements since Steve and I have tabled big projects this year.
  10. Life is good. Work is steady for me and Steve. The kids are happy in their classes. The year of fun is working out. I am embracing the more relaxed lifestyle of having older kids. It’s less physical work, though at times it is more emotionally intense, but I feel like I am in such a healthy place that I can handle it well (as long as I don’t let the nonsense of the day–thinking the news cycle–break me down too much).

The Year in Crafting

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Honestly, 2016 wasn’t my best year for crafting. Or for reading. Or for blogging. Or for other leisure pursuits. *Sigh.* I did have a gangbuster year with my freelance business, so I’ll put that feather in my cap as I close out this year. If life was perfect, I would have worked a bit less and relaxed a bit more. I am aiming for this in 2017!

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I did have an epic craft storm for a few months this fall, which resulted in making several felt ornaments aligned with the “Twelve Days of Christmas.” I stuck with numbers one and two this year, stitching several pears, partridges, and turtle doves from August through November. Part of me would love to bust out the super-cute French Hen for my tree before Christmas decorating passes for another year. We shall see!

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These ornaments are from beautiful patterns designed by Larissa Holland. I am just a little bit obsessed with her aesthetic!

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.

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.

 

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.

moody-blue

 

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.

 

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!

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 …

 

 

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?