When you share a birthday….

March must be the golden month for our marriage, because two of our three children were born in December. Not only that, but their birthdays are only 1 day apart. On top of that, Jim’s birthday is also the same week! Add to that two of my grandparents and one brother-in-law and our entire December is filled with birthdays. Oh, yeah, and also Christmas.

For now, both littles are happy with sharing a birthday party, as long as cake, presents, and all their favorite friends and family are involved. To individualize their celebrations just a little, each of them also gets to choose a restaurant in our area to go to on their actual birthday.

This year, 4yo (in all her fanciness) chose Wendy’s.

7yo decided to go slightly higher-end and selected a local restaurant that he thought sounded fancy because it had the word “hotel” in its name. Unfortunately, they weren’t open for lunch, so instead he chose a local brewery that he knows we go to for trivia. He’s never been to either place before, but he wanted to go somewhere that felt “grown-up.”

In a few years, I imagine their birthdays will look more like their older sister’s: sleep-overs, going to the movie with friends, and disappearing to the basement to avoid adult interaction. For now, we we are still enjoying getting to spend every moment of their birthday celebrations with them.

 

Expanding our Thanksgiving Eve Tradition

Years ago, we used to have to travel for Thanksgiving weekend to visit Jim’s family. We would be gone all weekend and, when we got back, that last thing we felt like doing was decorate the house for Christmas. So, one year, I decided we would decorate on the evening before Thanksgiving. It was the perfect time because I always get out of work early that day and we don’t have to prepare Thanksgiving dinner at our house, so the evening if free.

 

Even though we no longer have to travel, we have hung on to this tradition. Last year, Jim’s mom and dad stopped by while we were decorating and they had such a good time they decided we should turn it into a decorating party this year. I was a little apprehensive about trying to throw a party AND get my house decorated – especially since it wasn’t my idea, but it turned out to be a really fun family evening. We were joined by Jim’s parents, my parents, and my aunt and uncle. We kept things very simple – just a pot of meatballs on the stove for people to make meatball subs and some snacks. My MIL brought some dips and my mom brought a dessert.

 

Because there was so much help, we managed to get the house decorated in no time and we even put up two trees this year! It was a great way to start the holiday season and spend time with family.

Pennsylvania Precipitation

While we were setting record rainfall this summer, more than once I heard someone declare, “Well, at least it’s not snow!”

Welcome to Pennsylvania in November:

 

This heavy trend of precipitation has held for the entire year, so I don’t know why I expected it to be different just because the temperature dropped. All we can do now is make the most of it, which is exactly what my kids did yesterday when they were sent home early from school.

 

 

 

Mom tip: Purchase ALL your snowpants in black, regardless of the gender of your children, then hang onto them until all your kids have gotten some use out of them. I started doing this when 12yo was about 5. Now, I only need to purchase one pair of snow pants each year and the younger two wear hand-me-downs. I spend enough each year replacing the gloves and hats they lost the previous year, I cannot afford to purchase 3 sets of brand-new set of snowpants.

 

I hope we aren’t experiencing regular foot-high snow storms this winter, but if we do we will just make the best of it!

Priorities

My 6yo has been dreaming of being a millionaire when he grows up. We’ve been talking about the hard work and determination that would take. Then, we fantasize about what life would be like. His first priority is season tickets to the Philadelphia Eagles.

The other day, our conversation went like this:

Me: When you’re a millionaire, I’d just like you to buy me a nice RV so Daddy and I can drive it around the country.

6yo: Ok, but that’s it.

Me: …and I’d like you to take me to Disney World.

6yo: Aw, now you’re cutting into my football money!

 

Priorities.

Get to the Polls!!!

It’s Election Day!

I have a 30 minute window in which I can squeeze my trip to the voting booth today. Fortunately, my polling place serves a small community and is rarely crowded, so I should have no trouble getting in and out.

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I used to be complacent about mid-term elections, but I understand now how important they are to shaping the future of the country. I always try to take my children with me so they can see me do my civic duty. Fewer than half of the eligible voting population voted in the 2016 election. We should be doing all we can to encourage and enable people to vote, regardless of their political leanings.

So, go vote today!

It’s Finally Fall!!

Despite several inches of rain this week, the leaves are still hanging on. So, 12yo and I headed out to a local hiking trail we had never tried. The trails aren’t marked very well, and at one point we lost the trail. Thankfully, I had full cell service the entire time and was able to use my GPS to hop from one trail to the next. We never worried, but treated it as an adventure.

We spent about an hour in the woods. The leaves were golden and like fire. It was medicine for my heart and soul. Now, I’m ready to sink into the gray that is Pennsylvania until April.

It’s October and I’m SOOOO Sweaty!!

I don’t know what’s up with Pennsylvania right now but it’s so gross. We’re almost in the middle of October, Halloween is rushing at us at light speed, and I’ve worn a sleeveless blouse to work more than once in the past few days. The humidity is crazy and it rains just frequently enough for it to be impossible for us to mow our lawn.

But change is ahead! If the weather forecast is to be believed, fall will finally arrive on Friday.

After some more rain, of course.

Drowning in Toddlers: The Fog is Lifting!

When you are knee-deep in toddlers, the world is a fog. Whether you are a working or stay-at-home mom (or dad), you often spend your days tripping from one second to the next. Some days you barely scratch your to-do list. Manage to get a few things accomplished? It’s a molehill compared to the mountain in front of you. You tread water just to barely stay ahead, and if you stop for a moment to float you find yourself drowning in the tasks you put off.

I heard once that life changes when your youngest turns 3. When my oldest turned 3, she was still an only child (and a super-easy one) so the struggle was minimal. However, the day before my son turned 3, I popped out another baby. Thus began my season of parental fogginess. And foggy it was. In the midst of diapers, potty training, breastfeeding, and remodeling the house to fit our family while still working three jobs between the two of us, we rarely had a chance to look up. Life was great, but it was fast and every second counted. We collapsed in bed each night exhausted and crawled out the next morning in the same state, ready to do it all over again.

heaven

 

Then my youngest turned three and things began to change.

It didn’t happen overnight like a switch. It happened so gradually that, initially, I didn’t even realize I could slow down a little. Things came into place one-by-one. First, we made the hard decision for me to leave my second job. It meant we would have to adjust our finances, but the time we gained was far more valuable. At the same time, our little one was becoming more independent while her siblings were becoming more responsible. Less time was devoted to simply keeping my children alive, and I found myself having pockets of time I did not have to fill with caring for them or for our household. Finally, I made an adjustment in the way I thought about my home. I slowly learned to live with the clutter. It’s clean, but not orderly, and that’s ok now. The state of my living room floor is not a reflection of my worth as a person, and it took me a long time to accept that.

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Now, that’s not to say that we aren’t still really busy or that messy kitchen counters don’t bother me. Mornings are spent herding children into the car and dropping them off at their various schools. Afternoons are spent feeding them quickly (while trying to unload the dishwasher) so we can get them to dance, soccer, gymnastics and whatever else we have on our calendars. But it’s not every night and it’s not every minute anymore.  The fact that I’m sitting here blogging again is a testament to the fact that I now have time to create and grow. I can devote some time in my week to things I enjoy , like photography, video editing, yoga, or whatever else I never felt like I never had time to do, and the benefits that time has contributed to improving my spirit and well-being are immeasurable.

So, dear parents of toddlers, I promise there WILL be a time when you get to come up for air. I know it seems like it may never come, but it’s just ahead and you may not even realize at first when it gets there. Just hang on and keep swimming!

Rving New England

 

Plymouth Plantation

Plymouth Plantation

Each fall, our school shuts down for a week because a large fair is held in our town. Yes, it’s weird to have five weeks of school and then a week-long fall break. It’s also off-season almost everywhere you could possible vacation, so we like to take the week to travel and avoid crowds. We’ve used this week to visit empty beaches, a less-than-crowded Disneyworld, Colonial Williamsburg, and more.

This year, we took the camper to southern New England. It was the first time we had headed north at the end of September and the packing was a challenge. T-shirts? Sweaters? Shorts? Winter coats. It turns out, we needed them all. Fortunately, I am a master packer when it comes to getting as many clothes in the camper as possible, so we were ready.

We began our first weekend in Mystic, CT at the aquarium and the Seaport. On our way to Massachusetts, we made a stop in Newport, RI to walk the Cliff Walk and check out the huge mansions. Our main base for the week was Foxborough, MA where we stayed at Normandy Farms Campground. It was a good central location. Throughout the week, we traveled into Boston several times, and also visited Hyannis and Plymouth.

I’ll be releasing videos on our YouTube channel of our travels in the coming days. For now, here are some highlights of our trip:

Visiting the bookstore of my alma mater, Boston University

Visiting the bookstore of my alma mater, Boston University

Boston Commons

Boston Commons

Cruising the Boston Harbor

Cruising the Boston Harbor

The Breakers in Newport, RI

The Breakers in Newport, RI

Our campsite at Normandy Farms

Our campsite at Normandy Farms

Mystic Seaport

Mystic Seaport

The Mystic Aquarium

The Mystic Aquarium

 

Out of Order

Recently, our toilet was leaking and had to be turned off. Fortunately, we have others.

To make sure no one used it accidentally, 12yo made a helpful sign. I especially appreciated the sad faces. I really felt for them. They seemed so disappointed. Hopefully, they felt better once Jim repaired the toilet.

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