Festive Festivities

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The final week of 2016. Wow, what a year! It’s been a packed one, full of highs and lows and those in-between days.

Our house has been bopping this holiday season, hosting many family and friends for festivities and overnight stays. We’ve celebrated Christmas and Hanukkah and are reveling in winter break from school (which seems like a holiday in itself!). Earlier this week, we scored last-minute tickets to Disney on Ice, which felt like a great cap for the kids to a very fun and festive season.

I am happily brainstorming more exciting times in 2017. Now that we’re three years into our house and just one and a half years away from having the kids in full-time free school (yay!), I am starting to want more of our money to go to fun (rather than home repairs and tuition). Trips, tickets, amusements, you name it. I am challenging myself to come up with plenty of fun and not-too-outrageous plans for the year ahead!

Happy new year (almost)!

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Last Preschool Christmas

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Yesterday marked Carson’s holiday performance at preschool and the start of his winter break. Nora, being the elementary-school big shot that she now is, will not be done until the afternoon of the 23rd. Things are getting real when it comes to this school calendar.

Carson loved performing his special songs for the audience, including “Keep Christmas With You” and “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas.” We had a singalong of Hanukkah and Christmas songs as well. It’s the last time we’ll be at this preschool performance (kindergarten for C beckons next year!), so the usual sentimental tears I shed at this annual event were even greater in number. Watching those moms of young children wrestle their brood made me even more watery-eyed! Life is evolving for me these days…

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A true miracle came when Carson met Santa Claus. My fearful-of-dressed-up-characters offspring have avoided meeting Santa to date this holiday season, but Carson was pretty willing to sit on the big man’s lap after the performance. What does he want this year, you ask? A lot!

I hope you are having a great December. I just wrapped a big project and have one more to go until the jolly fellow arrives Christmas Eve! I am ready to see the kids tear into their presents!

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.

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.

 

 

 

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?

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.

 

Preschool Halloween

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I am not sure if I’ve mentioned this, but I LOVE this year. I have two of the cutest preschoolers around, and I am amazed by their capabilities and their cuteness. Next year we’ll begin at the elementary school, so I am really trying to savor this final year of little kid.

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With that being said, the fact that my kids (who are besties) decided to go as Buzz and Woody from Toy Story warmed my heart. They truly encapsulate the “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” ideas, and tandem costumes can be so much fun. Nora loved being Buzz Lightyear so much that she wore her costume for two days straight. And I can’t wait to put these costumes in the dress-up bin once they are washed.

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The kids sang Halloween songs and marched in their costume parade on Friday at preschool. They both love singing so much that I hope to get them in choir or another musical avenue soon. “Roll that pumpkin down to town …”

We had a great time canvassing the neighborhood for treats. The kids came out with a TON of candy and had a lot of fun in the process. Our neighborhood knows how to host a great Halloween night.

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Oh, and since I totally believe in that “Mom Gets in the Picture” movement, I had to snap one of us together.

I hope you had a great Halloween too!

Seasonal Changes and Seasonal Illness

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I’ve had the good fortune to watch one of our Japanese maples turn into a orange fireball this week. It’s been welcome since the fever-gone-round-the-neighborhood hit Nora again this week, and we’ve been a bit stunted in our usual schedule. Also, yesterday brought some hurricane-created rain, and this vibrant tree reminded me of fall’s splendors — avoiding feelings of despair.

Can you believe November is around the corner? It’s hard for me to accept that it’s nearing the true holiday season. I always start thinking about holiday activities and gifts in October, which makes me feel crazy. But then a few weeks go by, and I realize that it isn’t so insane. Being a parent and someone in the sandwich generation requires a lot of organization and planning. Now when I start thinking about this in July, please give me a good shake! I am excited for what’s to come in the next few months, whether I am ready for it or not.

But before I get too ahead of myself, we’re ready to enjoy Halloween here! The kids have their preschool parade and parties tomorrow, and we’ll carve pumpkins and trick-or-treat Saturday evening. Should be fun!

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More Fall Fun

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Our calendar has been jam-packed with fall fun in the last few weeks. The recent celebrations have included the kids’ preschool fair and another local pumpkin festival. We’ve thrown in a few date nights too!  (Yay for crisp nights and delicious drinks.) Now that I have coverage for the kids during weekdays, my work schedule is a bit more under control, meaning I can enjoy these festive days more than I could have this summer, when I was truly juggling it all without any regular child care help.

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Our Halloween celebrations begin tomorrow. I can’t believe that we’re just a week away from November and falling back on the clock. I’ve even started buying some Christmas gifts, which seems ridiculous, but it’s always good to start November with a little edge on the months to come.

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I’ve found my groove with yarn crafting again, which I hope inspires me to make some gifts this year. Here’s a recent hat I made for myself. I am spending less time in front of a screen intentionally, and hanging with the family while working some yarn with a crochet needle is very relaxing right now.

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I hope you are enjoying this season as much as us!