Adios, 2017!

This year, New Year’s Eve is not going to be too crazy. Our plan is to snuggle up under blankets and watch movies and football games (and maybe an episode or two of The Crown when the kids go to bed), eat up holiday leftovers, and go to bed whenever we feel like it. After all, it’s been a hectic winter break full of many, many highs. We just said goodbye to our last holiday guests today and are ready to put the period at the end of 2017.

It’s been a great, FUN year. We traveled a lot, saw a lot of friends and family, were very active, and got into our groove for the elementary-school years.

What will next year bring, I wonder. We’re starting out on a good note with several exciting trips booked. I have plenty of paid work in January, and I am looking forward to the kids getting back into their routines in just a few days. I am hopeful we’ll be healthy and happy in 2018 — pretty basic stuff. As for my word for 2018 (you know much about the 2017 word — fun), I’ve decided to go with the rather simple “prioritize.” Not sure exactly what this means yet, but I will let you know as I go along this year. I am hopeful it means weighing my commitments (both volunteer and work ones), being present, and giving myself room to grow as a mother and as an individual. We’ll see how it unfolds as the calendar months go by.

No matter your plans for ringing in 2018, I wish you a happy new year!

 

 

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Holiday Update

winter-houseWe are in the midst of a mid-December snowstorm this afternoon, and I am happily inside working on my to-do list. I am really trying to embrace the coziness (the hygge, if you will) of this chilly and dark time of year. Tonight, I’m making a yummy veggie soup for dinner and plan on snuggling with the kids with a holiday movie until Steve gets home from work (whenever that will be!).

Here are a few of my favorite cozy additions to our holiday decor this year:

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I am excited to have added a second Christmas tree to our house, though it’s just tabletop sized. I love getting a little corner of light in the dining room, and it’s a treat to have a place to display my twelve days of Christmas ornaments. While my hands have not been able to handle making too many of these ornaments this year (boo joint stiffness!), I am hoping to finish the swan a swimming this weekend so I can add one more to the tree in 2017 (leaving the people-themed ornaments for 2018).

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Nora and I enjoyed putting together a little tray featuring some Christmas elements on the coffee table in the living room. I picked up this cute hammered silver tray from the Hearth and Hand collection at Target in November thinking we could turn it into something fun and festive. We’re enjoying the easy access to the candy canes this season and love the smell of this locally made Christmas Tree soy candle (I’m also diffusing pine regularly since my dream of getting a real tree this year fell off the must-do list).

We’re relishing our cozy time at home particularly right now because this year has been so full of fun adventures. In November, we took a weekend trip to New York City as well as the Jersey shore. I fulfilled a dream of seeing the Rockettes when we were in New York (such an entertaining show!) and got to visit the brand-new American Girl doll store too. I am totally maximizing these doll years with the kids (hard to believe this was my third visit to the NYC AG store with Nora this year!).

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We happened upon a beautiful light display in Margate, New Jersey, when we visited over Thanksgiving weekend. The best part of the light display was that it was completely empty of people when we toured it. Shore towns are not exactly hopping during this time of year!

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Another highlight this holiday season was watching Nora in her first Nutcracker. She wanted to dance this year specifically to be in the Nutcracker, and I have a feeling we’ll have the chance to watch her dance in it again. She was not at all nervous to be on stage, which Steve and I agreed wouldn’t have been the case with us at seven.

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Finally, we are having fun making some gifts this year. Both kids picked out a project for gift making and giving. I’ll reveal more after the holidays so I don’t spoil the surprise for those receiving these items.

I know I’ve been short on blog posts this year. It’s due in part to the kids growing up and me wanting to keep their lives more private and also because my day job is keeping me pretty busy. I’d love to continue to document life in 2018, and maybe I’ll find some newfound time to write here once the year of fun frenzy winds down in a few weeks.

Happy holidays, dear readers!

 

October Air

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Today is a beautiful fall day here. The sun is shining and the afternoon feels warm, but the mornings and evenings are crisp. We’ve all been lingering in bed in the morning with these cooler temperatures. It may also be due to our fall schedule, which is pretty darn tiring.

I can’t complain about the pace of life these days though. Everyone is really happy, thriving, and putting time and energy into what gives them joy, or at least purpose!

The first grader loves the full day of school and is applying herself at many after-school activities, including soccer, ballet, and Girl Scouts. She loves to be busy and among the people, so being on the go is truly what brings her joy.

The kindergartner has adjusted to his new school routine finally and is making new friends. He amazes me with his abilities at soccer, and he is excited to be learning to play the piano.

I am trying to keep up with these kids and continue to dig myself out of a big editing pile (I project that I’ll be done with it this Friday!). I hope that October brings a little more balance in my schedule, as long work days make me a little crazy. I am like my daughter — one who likes to be with the people — so balancing my solitary editing and writing work (which also recharges me) with some volunteering, exercising, and socializing will boost my happiness for sure.

We are excited to celebrate fall in many ways this season. We’re headed to a “pumpkin days” celebration next weekend and will travel to the Finger Lakes for my 35th birthday. We’ve also signed up for a Trunk or Treat at the school and have several other Halloween events planned. Yay for October and all its festivity!

I would be remiss if I neglected to mention that my heart aches for several tragedies and natural disasters in the news as of late. I am also disheartened by the low levels of rhetoric we are stooping to in our country. Raising children in this world is not easy, folks. I hope that the efforts we are putting into their lives as parents are going to give them the confidence to lead this world into a much better place.

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!

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!

 

 

 

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!

 

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!

June Camping Trip

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We kicked off summer in early June with an annual family camping trip. Equipped with a new big tent, we camped out in Elk Neck State Park in Maryland, right on the Chesapeake Bay.

The weekend was lovely–full of good times at the campsite, a hike to the lighthouse, and some leisure time on the bay. The kids love camping and see our annual trip as a “must do” every summer. Steve and I are still working on the most comfortable sleeping arrangements, but the eight-person tent certainly made a difference this year!

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A highlight of the trip was seeing bald eagles perched in trees nearby the bay’s beach. I also realized that I have seen several Atlantic Coast lighthouses at this point, so it’s a good time to start making touring these a “thing.” If I am by a lighthouse it means I am near water and a good view–two aspects of a great getaway for me!

This was a wonderful way to begin our summer travels. Nora and I have a special mother-daughter excursion coming up, and I am starting to anticipate packing for our big Pacific Northwest tour soon.

May Days

IMG_2143We are thisclose to finishing a May whirlwind. Seriously, it’s been nonstop action at home. Steve took his first overseas trip, the Fun Fair parked itself right by our house again for two weeks, and we’ve been managing a baseball/t-ball/running club juggernaut.

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I really love the ages of the kids right now. They are very eager to do new things and can occupy themselves at home for much longer stretches. Plus, my oldest has more “drop off” playdates now, which are great ways to keep her busy with her remaining stretch of half-day school. Both kids have enjoyed baseball and running, so they are physically active, which thrills me. (The younger one is even riding his two-wheeler now–what a game changer for walks and rides around the neighborhood!)

Preschool graduation is less than two weeks away. After that, I’ll be a mom of two elementary schoolers. It was challenging this year to adjust to the bigger pond, but boy do I love the elementary school now. I am excited for my youngest and oldest to be reunited. They do amazing things when they are a team.

To celebrate the upcoming rite of passage, both kids are picking paint colors for their walls for some Memorial Day weekend painting. We’re updating toy storage (that ties into a major purge/organization phase I’ve been in for the last month) and hanging new decals. Gold dots for the soon-to-be first grader. Mario and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for the preschool grad.

And as life spins, my life does too. I am volunteering for some great causes right now, including fundraising for our local playground. Nothing gets me more excited than an meaningful community project.

So here’s to two more weeks of life as we’ve known it this year. Can’t wait for summer vacation and the adventures it will bring.