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This year’s resolution trend is to chose one word to guide your year. Upon first hearing this, I thought the idea was a little bit too oversimplified. But as the concept settled in, I decided there was one word that really applied to my hopes, dreams, and goals for 2017: fun.

I’ve spent several years building a small business, rearing small children, and making a new (yet old) house feel like home. I am ready to shift gears. Focusing on how to make my life more fun is a refreshing approach.

Of course, I am still working, raising children, and cleaning and organizing a family home, but with fun guiding the way, I can certainly enjoy these tasks more. Here are some simple ideas of how to make things more fun:

  • Work: Use a portion of my income to fund fun activities, like vacations and outings with the family.
  • Kids: Figure out how much time I need to work each week and get the kids in school or activities for that amount of time. That way I can spend my time with the kids and my hubby on the weekends and have more fun.
  • Home: Research better cleaning products that smell good, do their job effectively, and are good for the environment. Engage in an online organization board to motivate me to tackle clutter. Find new recipes that make meal plans a bit more exciting.

This mindset of fun is helping me pepper the calendar with family-focused or self-care-focused activities throughout 2017. First up is the Women’s March in Washington, DC, on Saturday. I’m going down with several mom friends in my community. Of course, while the point of the march is to be in solidarity with one another and with those whose rights are threatened in the current political storm, being with strong, fearless women will make the process of democracy and free speech much more fun.

Can’t wait to write more about my fun 2017!

Clean Slate

Did the first week of January seem like a long week to you? I feel like I put a lot of energy into getting back to “normal” after so many weeks of fun holiday stuff. And you know what’s so hard about doing that, I realized? We are so dang tired from the holiday hullabaloo that really JUST ended. It was only Monday that we packed away the Christmas decorations. Then Tuesday through Friday were a blur of getting back to the school routines. And then the hubby worked early mornings both weekend days. Now we’re here on Sunday evening, and I am just getting caught up. Taking deep breaths. Relaxing by the fire.

But even though last week was tiring, it felt so good. It was awesome to embody the clean slate that comes with a new year. I immediately started thinking of travel plans ahead, new work challenges, and upcoming transitions for the kids. I am getting used to a new one right now. My son started five-day preschool last week, and for the first time since I left full-time work in 2013, I have every morning to myself. However, I quickly realized last week that it’s still not a lot of time. It will take a bit to find a new balance with the schedule to manage work, fun, exercise, and more into those five two-or-so-hour days.

This week should feel even more routine. The kids are in school all five days. Nora starts a few new activities this week, including Daisies (yay!). Steve and I started watching The Crown last week and will continue chipping away at it. And I am thisclose to getting caught up with This Is Us. And my neighbor just loaned me a new book that I can’t wait to begin.

Here’s to bleak, cold, and refreshing January.

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.

My Christmas Wish List: 1985

Dear Santa,

Can I please have a Day and Night Barbie for Christmas? I would also like her office/bedroom set! I promise I have been a good girl this year!

Love,

Natalie

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P.S. My baby brother would really appreciate this Garfield.

Postscript: Received and loved that Barbie. Totally loved it. Maybe even had two! Still trying to live up to Barbie’s societal expectations, but no hard feelings. 🙂

Thanks Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia for collecting and displaying these vintage toys. Brings back many fond memories.

Mid-November Thoughts

 

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Hi friends,

I have been missing here lately. Life has been overwhelming. I’m parenting a kindergartener and an older preschooler, and things are challenging. I am balancing my roles as mom, small business owner, and volunteer. I feel like I am doing an OK job at a these roles some of the time, but I am struggling. There is not enough time. There is not enough energy. There is not enough of me.

And in case things weren’t feeling low enough, Tuesday was sure a shocker, right?! I am doing my best to process what happened and what is going to happen. I am an optimist and love our country. I believe good will come out of all of the despair, and I am eager to see how those of us committed to love will change the world again. I am confident it will happen.

In the meantime, I could not be prouder of how engaged my children were in this election (not the ugly stuff, but the voting) and how much they care about other people and want to learn more about how our democracy works. I can only hope that the examples I set for them now will empower them to spread goodness and hope throughout their lives.

I teared up and will continue to do so when I read Hillary’s concession speech from yesterday. My favorite quote is directed at young girls, just like my daughter:

I know we have still not shattered that highest and hardest glass ceiling, but some day, someone will, and hopefully sooner than we might think right now. And to all the little girls who are watching this, never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams.

May we work together to heal this country, listen to the needs of others, and spread love where it is most needed. Hoping my spirits lift for the holiday season ahead and that I can step up further and really make a difference in my family, my community, and my country.

 

September Tornado

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Whew! We almost made it through September. And I’ve learned a lot of lessons about transition this month. I had no idea moving up to elementary school, having kids in two schools, and working from home (without enough a child care) would whoop me the way it did. Thankfully, I’ve almost sorted out the immediate problems, and we’re headed into October in one piece.

September was full of lots of fun too. Highlights have included Carson’s first day of his last year of preschool, school picnics, Nora’s sixth birthday, and some football watching (our Eagles are already exceeding expectations).

Let’s keep this positive momentum going!

Finding Our Footing

The first week of school is nearly a wrap. What a week it’s been. First day of kindergarten, first bus ride, first piano lesson later today, and first soccer game tomorrow. What a full, amazing week.

Nora’s got a kindergarten swagger and loves everything about school. I am relieved and excited for the year ahead. We are really lucky to have such an amazing elementary school in our district.

The kids are getting tired out and used to earlier bedtimes. We’ve resumed our daily park trips, which gives them the opportunity to practice their gymnastics skills and get leftover energy out before winding down for the day. We’re also bumping into all of our favorite neighbors and friends more often. After a summer of coming and going, seeing these friendly faces is one of the best parts of the day.

Preschool starts Monday and Steve’s Sunday work schedule begins in two days, so I guess we’re off and running. Hoping more seasonal weather graces us soon. It’s supposed to be 94 today!

Someday Is Now . . .

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Just about six years ago, we welcomed Nora into our world. She’s been lighting up our lives since that very day, and now it’s time for her next big milestone: kindergarten (and public school, the bus, and so much more).

Nora is an amazing kid with so much drive and determination. She’s completely ready for this next phase of her life. On the other hand, I am a nervous, emotional mess. How can it be that she’s school-aged now?

When Nora was born, I was acutely aware that we’d get an “extra” year with her at home because her birthday falls right after our school district’s cutoff date. Being the pragmatic person that I am, I definitely calculated the added year in terms of child care costs right away. It wasn’t until later that I realized how grateful I was to have that extra year with her. Nora benefited from her birthday falling where it does (likewise, her summer birthday brother seems perfectly suited for his given year of school as well). That additional year also helped me get my priorities straight and come into my own as a mom. Right before she turned three I took the plunge with a freelance career and left the nine-to-five life behind. That change allowed me to give her more of my time and really connect. This year we’ll still have some bonus time (kindergarten is just a half day in our district), so that leap keeps reaping rewards.

Every day I am delighted, humbled, and thankful for what this girl has brought me: more love, more patience, more fun, and more awe. I cannot wait to see Nora thrive in her new environment, even if it takes me awhile to adjust…

 

Last Days of Summer

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Despite nightly wakings (by me!) because of the new school routine that awaits in a few days, we’ve been enjoying the final weeks/days of summer.

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Last weekend we took a trip to Longwood Gardens as a family of four. After a busy summer where we were often coming and going in packs of two or three, spending time with just us has been a priority. This weekend we are getting out a little too, dining at a few restaurants, picking apples, and watching a few movies (and college football games!).

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I hope you are enjoying this final weekend of carefree summer too.