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)!

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!

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.