What We’re Doing/Reading/Watching

 

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So I realized this week that I had let my word of the year, “balance,” escape me this spring, but I think I am living it out right now. After a very busy spring with amazing travel and lots of activities, we’ve decided to make this a low-key summer. We have a few getaways here and there to make it fun, but we’re not going to be keeping up the hectic pace we’ve become familiar with in recent months and years. I couldn’t be more excited!

A low-key summer for me means lots of reading, watching movies, hanging at the park and pool, and letting some boredom even enter the picture. The kids seem really receptive to a slower pace, and I am welcoming it too. I haven’t had a poky summer in some time, so it almost feels like a novelty.

We did enjoy a quick trip to New York City a few weekends ago on a VERY humid day. Steve and I looked forward to spending some time together when the kids went to the Frozen musical with their grandma, but a leisurely stroll in Central Park was not going to happen. We popped into the Morgan Library to enjoy a quiet atmosphere and some central air. I’d been there before, but it was still fun to see J. P. Morgan’s old book collection again and check out the exhibit of Wayne Theibaud (pictures of cakes and pies are always a treat to look at in my opinion!).

What We’re Doing

  • Wrapping up the school year, ballet year, piano year, and soccer and baseball seasons
  • Swimming at the pool (a bit–it’s still open only on weekends until school lets out June 15)
  • Playing tennis
  • Sewing some 12 Days ornaments
  • Enjoying our farm share (lots of greens right now!)
  • Cutting out some American Girl Molly paper dolls
  • Hanging with friends at the park
  • Going axe throwing (just the adults!)
  • Playing a new Lego Marvel video game

What We’re Reading

  • The Molly American Girl Doll series
  • Ivy and Bean
  • Captain Underpants (so much CU!)
  • Dragonfly in Amber (just finished the second Outlander book)
  • Mo Willems books
  • Dr. Suess books

What We’re Watching

  • Outlander (just subscribed to Starz via Amazon)
  • Lady Bird
  • I, Tonya
  • Black Panther
  • The Phantom Thread
  • Kit Kittridge movie
  • Gnomeo and Juliet

 

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What We’re Doing/Reading/Watching

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Yes, my Anglophile self was very excited about the royal wedding.

How April and May have flown by! We expected the craziness, of course, when we signed both kids up for team sports earlier in the year, but actually going through the motions always presents some surprises in stamina. Yesterday I passed out at 4 p.m. from sheer exhaustion — I was so tired even though the rain cancelled several things we had lined up last week and the schedule had been lighter than expected. Nonetheless, we’re having a lot of fun this spring.

One personal milestone I am marking this month is my five-year anniversary of changing things up in the professional realm to be home more with the kids. Looking back, that’s definitely the best decision I ever made. I have had such a great ride with them in their early childhood, and I have built a home-based freelancing business up to the equivalent of true part-time work. It’s a struggle to manage it all in the summer, but overall this life is definitely for me. I would encourage anyone struggling with work-life balance to be brave enough to make some serious life changes. It will work out in the end, I promise.

As a side note, I’ve debated whether I want to keep updating this ten-year-old blog at this point but decided I’ll try to check in once in a blue moon as it’s one of the only places I have right now for documenting my life with kids. I am going to do less and less in the picture realm only because I’ve had a load of spam subscriptions lately and want to avoid overexposing the kiddos.

What We’re Doing

  • Either playing or watching baseball and soccer
  • Playing at the park
  • Attending the Fun Fair (a neighborhood old-timey fair held for two weeks in early May)
  • Participating in neighborhood and school activities like the art show, local fun run, and more
  • Training to be a Brownie leader (I am psyched!)
  • Serving on some different committees and boards in our community
  • Celebrating the royal wedding with friends
  • Hosting my parents (did that for a week in early May)
  • Going to the Barnes Museum in downtown Philadelphia
  • Trying to get around to making photo books of early spring adventures to Disney World and New Orleans
  • Getting the calendar and my brain ready for summer (it’s only a month away!)

What We’re Reading

  • The Outlander series (first and second books–such fun!)
  • The Dr. Kitty Cat, Owl Diaries, Miss Maisy series for the first-grade reader
  • The Captain Underpants series for the kindergarten reader
  • Comic books

What We’re Watching

  • Little Women miniseries on PBS
  • YouTube videos of Chloe’s American Girl doll channel
  • The Greatest Showman
  • The Simpsons
  • Doc McStuffins (having a resurgence in the house since we signed up for Hulu)

We’ll keep things rolling along in the next few weeks with a quick day trip to NYC, a dance recital, a piano recital, and time at the pool, which opens this weekend.

What We’re Doing/Reading/Watching

 

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The beautiful fireplace from my weekend getaway.

I am back with another March snow day update. We’re getting pummeled in the Northeast with snowy weather this month, and the kids are off for yet another day of school. *Sigh.* Lucky for us, we have a vacation in sunny Florida to look forward to.

Though the month has been long, there have been some highlights. I made it down to Cape May for a weekend. We celebrated St. Paddy’s Day with friends. The kids have had some fun playdates with lifelong buddies as well as emerging friends. We’ve had some great family time playing games. It hasn’t all been bad and frustrating and snowy (well, some of the month, at least).

I’ve been on a mission for the last few weeks to accumulate some new books for the kids’ libraries. The first grader and kindergartener are emerging readers on different levels, and I realized that I needed to infuse the bedroom libraries with books they can’t wait to read. The process has been really fun, actually, though I have invested some dollars into it. While I love the library and we use it often, having a collection of chapter books and readers on hand is also valuable.

What We’re Doing

  • Playing Exploding Kittens
  • Celebrating some family milestones (New baby cousin! An upcoming wedding!)
  • Attending activities like piano, ballet, soccer, and Lego Club
  • Watching snow fall from the sky
  • Exercising (Trying to fight off the snow day calorie binges!)

What We’re Reading

  • Beartown (just finished this)
  • The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (just started this)
  • Owl Diaries
  • Dr. KittyKat
  • Captain Underpants
  • Who Would Win? book series

What We’re Watching

  • Coco (again and again and again)
  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi (watching today, actually!)
  • Wolf Hall
  • Pinkalicious
  • Chloe’s American Girl Doll Channel (on YouTube)

That’s it for now. I really hope I don’t post another update that involves snow until 2019!

 

What We’re Doing/Reading/Watching

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We’re having a very March-y weekend. It’s cold and biting, so going outside is still not an option, unless it’s to run to the car. We survived a blizzard/hurricane thing here on Friday night and were lucky not to lose power. Our town was ravaged and so many trees and power lines are down. So we’re hunkered inside and making the best of these last few weeks of winter.

I can’t say that January, February, or March have been too terribly exciting, but we’re still kept things interesting. Here’s what we’ve been up to.

 

What We’re Doing

  • Making lots of origami
  • Using Model Magic to make American Girl Doll food
  • Playing Zingo (both math and word versions) and Boggle Jr.
  • Cleaning out (that spring cleaning vibe is here)
  • Ice skating
  • Cheering on the Eagles (football), Sixers (basketball), and Flyers (hockey)
  • Making Twelve Days of Christmas ornaments (I am determined to wrap up mine this year)
  • Recovering from flu (it was a LONG February!)

What We’re Reading

  • Beartown
  • Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls
  • The Little Book of Hygge
  • Berenstein Bears books
  • The dinosaur sports series by Lisa Wheeler (Dino-Baseball, Dino-Boarding, Dino-Basketball, etc.)

What We’re Watching

  • Mozart in the Jungle (I am obsessed)
  • Victoria on Masterpiece
  • Michael Keaton movies
  • The Olympics (as of a week ago)
  • The new Pinkalicious series on PBS
  • Wild Kratts (there has been a renewed interest in this show in the house)
  • Coco

Life will get a little crazier in a few weeks, so it’s good to enjoy a few more quiet weeks. Not only do spring sports like baseball and soccer start in early April, but our family has a few back-to-back trips booked at the end of March and beginning of April. Looking forward to getting to the more action-oriented time of year.

 

Cookies and Crafts

Hi there! As we count down the hours for the Eagles game to start, I wanted to write a little about how we’re spending our time these days.

 

This week kicked off the Girl Scout cookie season. My little gal is a Daisy and is having her first experience selling cookies. So far, it’s so much fun! We’ve done a cookie booth with the troop, created a video to share on Facebook and Instagram, and sold cookies to the neighbors.

We’re also crafting quite a bit these days too, which was evident when Miss N headed to school last week on the first day of cookie sales. She not only wore her Daisy vest, she rocked the skirt we made with Riley Blake Girl Scout fabric as well as a bow featuring some favorite Girl Scout cookies, also designed by Riley Blake.

We’ve been creating bows in more than just cookie fabric too. Nora and I have been making many of them with her friends and for her friends. The pattern is pretty simple–you just need three rectangles of fabric, an iron, a glue gun, a needle and thread, and a hair clip. We’ve even made some for the American Girl doggies we have at home on hairbands. Just glue the bow directly on the band and the dog can wear it by her ear or around her neck.

This girl is so much fun, and I have to say I think very highly of first grade. We’re having a great year.

What We’re Doing/Reading/Watching

slimeOne thing I’ve noticed in the last year is that I am able to do a lot more in the REAL world. What I mean by this statement is that I am no longer drowning in baby, toddler, and preschool stuff, content, etc. The kids are much more interested in things I like to do, read, and watch. This doesn’t mean that we’re only partaking in adult activities and content, though. I am perfectly happy doing kid stuff too.

In an attempt to keep track of our favorite interests, I’ll try to share a doing/reading/watching post a few times a year. We’re fully engaged in this stuff right now, as temps are crazy frigid and the kids have had two days off from school (after just two days of school since winter break!). When we’re more into our school and activity routine, I am sure we’ll be engaging in content together less, so now is the perfect time to capture what we’ve been doing through winter break and into early January.

What We’re Doing

  • Playing Just Dance on our Nintendo Switch
  • Making slime with Elmer’s glitter glue
  • Practicing origami
  • Putting together puzzles
  • Playing Uno, Clue Jr., and Mario Monopoly
  • Sewing on Girl Scout patches, teaching Nora how to use the sewing machine, and making hair bows
  • Building Legos and Lincoln Logs

What We’re Reading

  • Julie Albright’s Beforever novel: The Big Break (American Girl)
  • Soccer on Sunday (Merlin Mission book from The Magic Treehouse series)
  • Mo Willems and Mo Willems-endorsed books
  • Pete the Cat readers
  • The Crown: The Official Companion (Vol. 1) by Robert Lacey
  • Night Film by Marisha Pessl (given to me but Steve is reading it)

What We’re Watching

  • The Crown
  • The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
  • Zak Storm
  • The Barbie cartoon on Netflix
  • Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
  • The new My Little Pony movie (watching it tonight to beat the winter blues)
  • The Last Jedi
  • Ferdinand

So that’s just a snapshot of what we’re into right now. Hoping you have found some content to keep you occupied during these dark winter months.

 

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.

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!