Mid-Summer Review

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Well, folks, it’s July 20. I’ll mark that as mid summer, despite us having a little more time on the downhill end left (if I measure summer based on the elementary school vs. preschool schedule). We are having a great summer — probably the best I’ve ever had with kids.

This summer is brought to you by no strollers (yay!), an awesome pool membership, a great vacation that really felt like a getaway, and afternoon camps. Regarding the latter, we’re lounging in the mornings and getting errands done. When the clock moves past noon, in comes fun structured camp time for the kids and work time for mama. It’s really a great flow. (Of course this will change next week when gymnastics camp runs in the morning.)

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Our Pacific Northwest vacation was even more than I expected it would be. We had amazing days in Seattle, Olympia, Corvallis/Albany, the Oregon Coast, and Portland. My kids rocked the more heavy travel days and soaked in the nature and culture of each location. Highlights of the trip included:

  • Taking the kids to Pike Place Market and the Freemont Troll in Seattle
  • Walking around the Evergreen campus with my brother, who graduated about a decade ago
  • Meeting up with my entire immediate family in Oregon — two brothers and their significant others and my parents
  • Seeing my other brother’s new house in Albany, Oregon
  • Taking Steve and the kids to the Oregon Coast for the first time
  • Having a siblings’ afternoon at beer and cider tasting rooms while my parents watched their grandkids
  • Seeing my aunt and uncle in Portland
  • Going to Powell’s Books, the Oregon Zoo, and Historic Mississippi in Portland

My baby also turned five in July, celebrated with much fanfare. I’ve learned that their are upsides and downsides of a summer birthday. One downside is that you may be traveling or unable to celebrate the day of your birthday. The upsides seem to outweigh that though! Carson had multiple cakes, lots of presents, and many special events just for him. Plus he’s received an infusion of gifts almost halfway to the holidays. A great time to restock!

So that’s it for now. I hope you are having a great summer. We’re off to the pool later today — it’s going to be 95 here, which is pretty damn hot when you factor in the humidity as well!

 

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)!

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!

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!

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.

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!

Holy Moly! Spring Break?!

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What has happened to this school year? I know Easter is a little on the early side this year, but how on earth have we already reached spring break?

I’ve been having some “long days, short years” feelings lately. Maybe because we’re just a stone’s throw away from kindergarten and the elementary school years. Maybe it’s because my baby is celebrating his fourth birthday this July. Maybe it’s because my part-time workload resembles a full-time one. Or maybe it’s because I feel like my little people are now bigger people and have become friends who keep me company each day.

Our spring break is bookended with Easter egg hunts, includes a mini vacation, and requires me to log a lot of work hours while Steve is home with the kids. It’s pretty representative of where we are these days: we’re busy in the community, tag-teaming kid activities, and trying to make the most of life.

Enjoy the spring weather . . . or in our case possible spring snow on Sunday! I hate the thought of the early blooming magnolias getting covered in snow.

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 …

 

 

Finished: Kid Hats

I’ve caught the yarn crafting bug again. This stress reliever has been good to get me away from the computer screen so I don’t obsess about my small business 24/7. It’s also been fun to make hats for free using my massive stash of Vanna’s Choice yarn.

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I crocheted basic beanie hats for my kids this week. Nora’s is a rainbow pattern and Carson’s is inspired by our favorite adolescent mutant turtles who are also trained ninjas.

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Both kids agreed to model these hats, but the weather has been in the 70s lately, so we’re not sporting winter accessories outdoors yet.