Back to School and Everything Else

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It’s amazing to me how the last days of summer seem so long as we await the beginning of the school year. Last weekend we were literally counting hours of days. The weather wasn’t great and the kids were tired. We’d done everything on our summer to-do list and we were ready for a change.

And then Tuesday, the first day of school, happened. And we haven’t stopped moving since! My oldest started her first year as a full-day student and my son started half-day kindergarten as well as an enrichment program in the afternoon. Piano started up again, as did soccer. And more is slated for next week!

I absolutely adore this time of year, and we’re off to a cool start weather wise that is helping with earlier bedtimes and a change of schedule. So happy the kids are enjoying this first week — it helps that there hasn’t been homework!

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What a Summer!

Today is the last day of kid summer. Tomorrow, the bus rolls up our street every weekday through June. And this year, both kids are hopping on that bus. There is a mix of excitement, anticipation, and nervousness in our house today, but we most forge ahead.

This summer was pretty amazing when I think about the scope of what we did. There was a killer West Coast vacation, a camping trip, a few beach trips, a girls’ visit to New York City, and lots of visits to local museums and theater performances. The kids did several weeks of camp, swam at our pool, and got plenty of bike riding in. We even painted their rooms!

We closed out summer with several fun activities, including watching the solar eclipse at our local park with friends, going to the Reading Public Museum to see the Ninja Turtles exhibit, and wandering through the attractions of our own city — Philadelphia. I finally got the kids to the Liberty Bell! Summer bucket list completed!

As the mama bear to these cubs, I have mixed feelings sending them off tomorrow. I am thrilled to establish a new routine in the house, but I’ll miss the excitement that summer brings. I should keep in mind that we’re already planning Halloween costumes and holiday happenings, so there is plenty going on this fall.

Gearing Up

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Though there are still nearly three weeks left until school begins around these parts, the end of summer is feeling closer and closer. I have been tackling lots of projects that have remained on my to-do list all summer long. In just the last week, I’ve sewn on Daisy patches; sorted, organized, and recycled old artwork and schoolwork; and started adding fall dates to the calendar.

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Oh, and we’ve done our school shopping, of course. I am a planner, so prepping early for school keeps me feeling a little more relaxed for the last stretch of summer. I am excited to welcome my parents at the end of August, so I don’t want this stuff hanging over my head. We tackled both the kindergarten and first grade lists at Target this year. I do wonder if the shopping created a little anxiety about the beginning of school or if that was bound to happen in August no matter what. I’ve noticed the kids seem a little more on edge as camp weeks wind down and we start preparing for September.

Of course we have many fun things to do before we close down summer 2017. We’re headed to a few more museums, plan to enjoy the outdoors as much as possible, and can’t wait to see the partial eclipse from here on Monday. Schedules can wait for just a few more weeks.

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And my kids know there are a few more summer treats to come too!

 

 

 

Our Summer Plans

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Loved this ballerina in Rockefeller Plaza in New York City.

Last Thursday marked the official start of summer in our house. School’s out, and we’re ready to have some fun. This weekend brought many special activities, including a mother-daughter trip to New York City, a visit to the mirror maze at the Franklin Institute, a special Father’s Day lunch for Steve, swimming at the pool, and an outdoor concert. Phew! I am tired just listing those activities.

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The mirror maze at the Franklin Institute.

Of course we’re at the stage where any trip to NYC involves a visit to the American Girl store. Both Nora and I love it. She ended up getting her doll’s ears pierced, which was quite a thrill.

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Besides this whirlwind weekend, we have many plans this summer, including:

  • A big West Coast swing to visit family and see some great Pacific Northwest cities and towns
  • Some trips to the beach
  • Staycation visits to special museums in Philly
  • Theater performances
  • Fourth of July festivities in our neighborhood
  • Pool time
  • Free time
  • Reading lots of books (including the first Harry Potter)
  • Lots of time with friends!

I am very hopeful for a fun, relaxing, and engaging summer. I love spending time with my bigger kids. Now that they are home for summer, I have buddies to hang out with 24/7 — quite a change from the feeling a few years ago!

Spring Break Recap

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Spring break ends today. I am preparing to get my eldest on the school bus this morning, but it was such fun to explore our area with my kids last week. We went into Philadelphia, visited New York City, explored a nearby arboretum, attended a Phillies game, played at our playground and creek, practiced and played baseball, watched Boss Baby, orchestrated an Easter egg hunt for the neighborhood, and more. There’s never a dull moment with these two!

What a week! Looking forward to more adventures this summer.

Day Trip: Dutch Wonderland

We spent Friday at Dutch Wonderland. It’s an amusement park in Lancaster, PA, that is directed at preschool-aged children. We’d never been, so I bought tickets earlier this spring to make sure we got there this summer.

It was a beautiful day to go. The forecast lived up to expectations, and it was about 80 degrees and sunny. We went early in the season before most schools are out for summer, so we basically had the place to ourselves.

The kids got to do just about everything in the park, which really made the trip more special. Carson doesn’t love all rides yet (or maybe ever!), but Nora sure was game for anything and everything. It’s fun to watch her grow and push herself to do more “big kid” things. Once she’s ready, she’ll love Hershey Park!

Highlights of the trip included Nora’s first big roller coaster ride, the bumper cars, the log flume, and the amazing main stage diving shows. Carson and Nora had the chance to drive their own cars on the Sunoco race track, which was a huge highlight for them. We also enjoyed the monorail, the train, and the gondola lift as slower-paced and more relaxing attractions.

Happy to have Dutch Wonderland in the books for summer 2016. We’re checking off summer activities at a record pace right now. It’s exhausting for us as parents, but super fun for the kids. Late July and the month of August will be slower and more rejuvenating, as long as we make it! For now, we’re taking full advantage of the nice weather and the wide open schedule. On to the next trip!

 

Another Camping Trip in the Books

We returned late Sunday evening from our annual camping trip. This year we traveled to French Creek State Park, which is not too far from us. We cut it short by one overnight to avoid rain, but it was fine since we did so many fun activities the two days we were there.

Highlights included visiting Hopewell Furnace, canoeing, and swimming. The kids did great in the boat, and it was fun for Steve and me to tag team the rowing. We made it around Hopewell Lake once or twice and went in after Carson got tired of staying so still. I did panic a bit when the boat would rock from movement. Thankfully we stayed dry!

The kids loved exploring all that nature had to offer. They captured many caterpillars, marveled at a few snakes, and were pretty freaked by a big spider in the women’s bathroom (named Helen by other campers!).

I didn’t grab many pictures from our getaway because I was too busy participating in all of the activities! I think that’s a sign of a good trip too!

Finally Warm and Sunny!

We’ve been battered in the northeast with never-ending cloudy skies and lots and lots of rain over the last six weeks or so. Thankfully, that weather pattern has finally broken free and it’s really starting to feel like summer is around the corner.

We did our first summer-like activity last weekend, attending a minor league baseball game. The kids actually paid attention to a lot of the game (and also enjoyed many, many treats and time with friends).

I have filled the docket with more fun this summer, including another baseball game, tickets for plays and an amusement park, a pool membership, and more. Plus we’ve got an annual camping trip with friends this weekend and a two-week-long stay in Idaho come July. Oh, and beach getaways too!

Hope you are excited for the change in weather and those low-key, chill (but hot!) days to come!

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.