What We’re Doing/Reading/Watching

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With the Fourth of July now come and gone, I’d say we’re definitely in full-on summer mode. Today marks three full weeks since the kids have been out of school, and I finally felt “decompressed” this week after the hustle and bustle of the end of the school year.

We’re shooting for a low-key summer this year, full of family day trips, home cooking, movie watching, book reading, and time spent with local friends. The kids have about five weeks of camp and the occasional babysitter so I can keep my work schedule afloat, but we are definitely slowing things down and enjoying the simple life this July and August.

 

What We’re Doing

  • Swimming at our local pool
  • Taking day trips to Dutch Wonderland, the zoo, the aquarium, and other museums
  • Spending time with neighbors to celebrate the Fourth of July
  • Enjoying the New Jersey Shore
  • Planning Carson’s sixth birthday
  • Attending art camp and tennis lessons (The kids, anyway!)
  • Dreaming of vacation and camping trips to come!
  • Sewing my Twelve Days ornaments (Just finished the Maid a Milking and Lady Dancing ones!)

What We’re Reading

  • Katie Woo series
  • Boxcar Children (vol. 1)
  • Captain Underpants (Steve and Carson are on the final–twelfth!-book)
  • DC SuperPets series
  • Voyager (Yes, I am hooked on Outlander–done for the time being though!)

What We’re Watching

  • Wimbledon (Trying to convince Carson to quit school and train full-time for tennis so I can see him here in about fifteen years, LOL!)
  • Outlander
  • Lincoln
  • Sherlock Gnomes
  • Incredibles 2 (and rewatching the first one)
  • Great British Baking Show
  • A Very English Scandal (OK–haven’t started it yet, but will soon!)
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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.

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!

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.

Mid-Summer Slump (Or Not)

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August 14 sure sounds like mid-month, don’t you think? Personally, I’ve always struggled with August, mostly because sky-high temperatures, relentless humidity, and rampant mosquitoes get old. I was always the kid counting down the days until school started. It’s just my way — I am an anticipator!

This time around is a little different though. Yes, summer weather is brutal. We’re in the midst of a severe heat wave and beating it with time at the pool and a Disney princess movie marathon. But the kids have had many weeks of activities in a row, my parents just gave them a dream stretch of grandparent camp, and we’re headed to the beach again soon. Plus my hubby has been out of town since mid-July (yes, a month!) and comes home tonight. It’s almost as though we’re going to experience a summer reprise once we’re a happy family of four again.

The weeks on my own have been hard, but they have also borne fruit. I spent a lot of time solo with the kids, playing with them, cleaning up after them, comforting them, dreaming with them. I’ve put them to bed twenty-four nights in a row (remarkable, since Steve is the bath/bed parent in the house). It was helpful to be their one and only as we prepare for the school year, not only to get a grasp on where they are developmentally but also to really size up their wardrobes and prepare for what’s ahead.

These solo weeks have also required me to ask for help and line up more child care than usual, which has been a blessing. Often I burn the candle at both ends, working a full-time job as a stay-at-home mom during the day and spending the evenings on the computer, editing books and journals and writing articles. I love having a career in addition to being the go-to parent, but it can be hard to juggle it all. This time without Steve has required me to lean on the grandparents, line up babysitters, and even add a few weeks of camp to the kids’ schedules. I am in a much healthier space regarding time management than I have been in for a long time.

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There have been many highlights during Steve’s time away. The kids and I have gone to the farmers’ market twice, had meals with many friends and family, gone out to dinner spontaneously a few times, traveled to the beach, swam at the pool, and crafted a lot — from coloring parties to sewing afternoons. I told the kids last night that I hope they’ll still give me a few kisses once Dad is home — it will be an adjustment for me to take second billing around here for a bit.

In spite of these fun times, I am thrilled to get my coparent back. For the past month, I’ve gone through another season of Gilmore Girls, done countless chores, and risen from slumber to check if the doors were locked on many, many nights.

Here’s to three more weeks of blissful summer.

The BIG Vacation: Two Weeks in Boise

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We’ve been back from our two-week vacation for more than a week now, but life has gotten in the way of my blog post. Since returning, we celebrated Carson’s birthday a bit more, started camps and summer activities, and said good-bye to the hubs and daddy for a month-long business trip (we’re down one night, twenty-three more to go!).

This year’s venture out West had so many highlights, including horseback riding, a Fourth of July family reunion, a wonderful trip to the mountains, and some date nights for Steve and me. We are lucky to have a getaway so far away from home that also feels so close (since I grew up there and Steve and the kids have spent many, many weeks there). Leaving the East Coast humidity and dense population behind for a few weeks is truly refreshing. The time zone change is always a little challenging, but the kids are getting better and better at that two-hour jump, as long as we stay for a generous stretch of time.

Our trip to the mountains included a trip to a hot springs, a hike where we saw a fox, and a boat cruise around Payette Lake.

 

In town, Nora had an ice cream potato, the kids visited the state capitol, and we ushered in Carson’s 4th birthday Star Wars style. Steve and I even had a date night at the Shakespeare Festival, one of our favorite summer activities in Boise.

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I also enjoyed many adult beverages, as evidenced by so many appearing in my photo roll upon our return!

A two-week vacation is a big endeavor, and by the end, we were all excited to come back home. Now that we’re settled and adjusted to our regular time zone, the mundane and routine is so welcome. I guess that’s the sign of a good trip! We missed a few of our favorite spots in Boise, so we’ll be excited to hit them when we return again.