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.

10 March Things

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  1. I am crafting again! I crocheted this Power Ranger for Carson and am working on the Coffee Shop Wrap. I bought the kit from Lion Brand and love the colors and the lightweight cotton yarn. Hoping I can enjoy it by April (meaning that it will be finished!).
  2. It snowed and sleeted all day today. So much for spring!
  3. We are heading out on a family adventure in a few days to an indoor water park. This corresponds to the year of fun I mentioned in January. Both kids are very excited to have this getaway and it helped us push off a Disney World vacation for another year.
  4. Before the temperatures plummeted this weekend, March entered like a lamb. I stocked up on some fun Lularoe for spring, put out some Easter decorations, and got the kids’ spring schedules lined up. Think baseball and running!
  5. We’re binging on The Great British Baking Show right now on Netflix. Steve and I seriously look forward to watching it every night.
  6. I’m trying to take actions that represent my progressive viewpoint a few times a month. This includes donating to worthy causes, contributing to making my community a better place, and finding ways to stand up to those who are less privileged than me.
  7. We booked plane tickets for our summer vacation. It involves visiting family and squeezing in a few new states for the kids. Stay tuned!
  8. We have a family wedding coming up. The kids are excited to see their aunt and uncle tie the knot and there are many festivities related to it. The best part for Nora is that it involves another trip to New York City, her favorite place!
  9. I have incorporated listening to Young House Love Has a Podcast into my weekly exercise routine. It’s a great one for a thirty-minute walk. And I am not getting too focused on house improvements since Steve and I have tabled big projects this year.
  10. Life is good. Work is steady for me and Steve. The kids are happy in their classes. The year of fun is working out. I am embracing the more relaxed lifestyle of having older kids. It’s less physical work, though at times it is more emotionally intense, but I feel like I am in such a healthy place that I can handle it well (as long as I don’t let the nonsense of the day–thinking the news cycle–break me down too much).

The March of Time

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Yesterday, I wore my FitBit overnight. It was not intentional, and I am not sure I’ve done it before. Nonetheless, when I woke up, I was eager to see how much sleep I logged. I couldn’t believe the figure when I saw it — 9 hours! I went to bed a little bit earlier than usual and fell asleep more quickly than normal.

My, how things change over time. Just a few years ago, that kind of uninterrupted sleep would have been impossible (I should thank the hubby now for his mid-sleep relocation to our youngest’s bed last night). It’s hard to believe that we spent YEARS sleeping with our oldest (who we had to wake up a half hour before the bus this morning!).

There are more signs in our house this month that time is marching on. I registered our four-year-old for kindergarten next year. I deleted the email about preschool registration as soon as it came through my inbox. I spent a great deal of time planning summer camps, knowing from last year that both kids desire some autonomy and time with peers throughout that long season.

We traveled to New York City a few weeks ago to celebrate Steve’s birthday. The kids saw their first Broadway show (School of Rock) and we enjoyed shopping at both the American Girl and Nintendo stores. Both kids were very grown up in the big city, enjoying a fancy lunch, a night in a hotel, and more.

Last weekend we finished our 2016 taxes, and it was a reminder that I’ve really jumped back into the workforce with a vengeance and will likely keep up this pace of work in the future. Thankfully, my gig is fairly flexible so it doesn’t require the amount of child care that we needed almost four years ago, but I am very much engaged with my business, both in nurturing it in its current state and growing it for the future. These kids morphing into elementary schoolers will affect my life quite a bit, and I need to remind myself that the often-frazzled feeling of being overworked may feel like a godsend in a few years when the house is quiet from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. each day.

So time marches on in our house. In all honesty, I’ve been a little too scheduled lately to dig into the sentimental “where has the time gone” feeling, but there have been a few times in recent days where a wave of sentiment has washed over me. It’s generally related to the cute little boy who arrived in our lives five years ago this July. I know as preschool graduation approaches in late spring that I’ll be a mess. Until then though, I hope I can just enjoy this last sliver of the preschool years.

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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.

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!