Author Archives: hlapinski

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.



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.


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.


Corning Museum of Glass

This weekend, we got away to “moochdock” with friends at their family farm. We were an hour from Corning, so we decided to head that way to check out the glass museum. To watch our visit on YouTube, click HERE.


I had never been there before and I was certainly impressed. For starters, all of our kids got in for free! Jim and I were also able to use our AAA membership to get a discount. We paid for admission and purchased a sandblasting experience for 6yo for less than $50. That’s not bad for a family of 5!


My favorite exhibit was the contemporary art, Jim loved the historical section, and 12yo’s favorite was the Frederick Carter Gallery. There was something for everyone.


Special kudos goes to the museum for constructing a scavenger hunt for kids that was perfect for 6yo and still fun for the older kids. Looking at 35 centuries worth of glass wouldn’t be considered fun in our house unless you can turn it into a game.


I will be uploading a video of our adventures soon. I am so glad we made the trip. It was a very fun day!

Fan Club

As soon as 6yo got in the car yesterday, I asked him how his third day of school was.

6yo: “Awesome! Jerry, Lucas, and I are going to start a band!”

Me: “Really? That’s great. What are you going to play?”

6yo: “Well, I’m going to play guitar, Lucas will play keyboards and Jerry will play the drums.”

Me: “Oh, so you’re going to have a 3-man band, huh?”

6yo: “No, Katelyn’s in our band, too.”

Me: “Oh, is she going to be the singer?”

6yo: “No, she’s going stand in the back of the stage and shoot T-shirts with our faces out to our fans so they can wear them!”




Back to School Time!

This week, we all went back to school: pre-school, first grade, seventh grade. I even celebrated my 35th first day of school.


Everyone had a great day, from what I can tell. 12yo didn’t share much, which is typical. 6yo told me first grade was more boring than kindergarten, but he still had a good day. 3yo’s preschool teacher said she picked up all the routines like she had never left.

My first day was preceded by several long days of me trying to put my room back together after construction in our building. I’m really excited to be in a new room, but it’s not finished, so I’m still figuring out where everything will go. Despite the unfinished condition of the building, the kids still came in on Tuesday, and we made it work. When all is said and done, the building will look great.


Here’s to another great school year for our family!

No More Rain, Please!

It’s monsoon season here in NEPA. Twice in the last month our area has been covered in several inches of rain and flash flooding has been a serious problem. Many roads have been closed or washed away. Yesterday, a video of a travel trailer floating down a local stream was making its rounds on Facebook.


My heart goes out to all the families who found several inches of water rushing into their homes. For families with children, the start of school is right around the corner and now they have to spend time cleaning, disinfecting, and repairing their homes on top of getting ready for the new school year. I’m also praying the hurricane season is kind this fall and our river levels don’t rise.

If you find yourself flooded and in need of aid, please reach out. There are many people who have offered their time and homes to those in need.

If you are out there rescuing people from their homes or cars, thank you for your service and we are praying for your safety.

Another Year Older

In her own quiet way, 11yo became 12yo over the weekend with a small party with family and friends. I remember when she was little, we threw elaborate parties with themes and scavenger hunts and gift bags. Maybe we’ll do that again one day, but for now she is happy with a few balloons and her favorite birthday menu: pizza and corn-on-the-cob.

It’s also amazing how much smaller gifts get as your kids get older. No longer is she opening giant plastic monstrosities with beeps and blinking lights. Now, all of her gifts fit nicely into a few gift bags and consist mainly of clothes and books.


It’s a nice change.

On the other hand, I have two other children under the age of seven, so I doubt my days of giant plastic gifts are quite over.