Hello.

Ah, where to begin? It has been so long.

At the end of the summer, I put the blog on the shelf for a little while. For a lot of reasons. Some obvious reasons, like how busy we are and how time flies by before I have a chance to write about our days or my thoughts. Other more complicated reasons, like thinking about how my blogging needs to change as the kids grow older, and how or whether I should share these moments in our lives in an online space.

I still don’t have answers for a lot of my questions. I don’t want the blog to end, but I also feel like it needs to shift, as we do each year as the kids grow. I also haven’t found a miracle pocket of time to write, but the blog is important to me — it always has been — and this holiday season, I decided to kick it back into gear (perhaps a slightly different gear) so I could look back on these memories as I do all the previous ones.

As a parent, it goes without saying that the holidays become more magical as your kids grow into the magic.  This is really the first year that both kids are old enough to truly get into the spirit of the holidays, and we are having such a wonderful time with it.  It has already been a season of firsts.

First time on the Polar Express (on the B&O railroad)

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First time the kids got really engaged in the hunt to find the perfect Christmas tree (at the uncles’ farm)

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(I’d like to say the first time the kids decorated the Christmas tree all by themselves, but nope, they definitely lost interest about two ornaments in.)

Not our first trip to NYC…

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…but our first time enjoying breakfast with Santa at Rockefeller Center, which was such a wonderful treat from K. All you could eat breakfast with hot chocolate, mimosas, a chocolate fountain (we spent a lot of time there), gingerbread cookies, Santa and his elves, and even Christmas carolers!  All at a table looking out at the ice rink.

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After breakfast, we had VIP passes to skate at Rockefeller — our first time not at Bryant Park.  The rink is a little smaller, a lot more crowded, and way more hazardous as there is less skating than there is selfie-taking, but it was absolutely a bucket list experience!  Nell is a pro these days, but it was Guy’s first time on ice skates!

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This is also the first holiday season I am doing an Advent calendar of good deeds for Nell. I filled her calendar with slips of paper full of good deeds and nice things she could do for others.  For her good deeds while we were in NYC, I filled her purse with coins, which she put in Salvation Army buckets across the city as she found them. She even got to ring the bells at each stop!

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We’ve got more adventures planned for the holiday season, and I look forward to sharing them here.  (I am hoping one of those adventures is getting four elegantly-dressed people — ideally our family members, but as my holiday card deadline approaches, I am flexible in that regard — to smile at a camera at the same time in front of a festive, holiday background.  Is that too much to ask?)

 

Mother’s Day

It’s raining again. It has been raining for about two weeks.  A couple days (and I mean two, max) had some sunshine, but they also had rain.  It’s been a very rough start to May when all you want is an early summer — you know, sunshine and warm temperatures before the humidity begins to creep in.  I can’t remember the last time we had such a prolonged period of rain, and I have to say — it’s tough.  Everyone is feeling fatigued from the weather.

But we are doing our best to work around the rain and enjoy the spring we’ve been given.  I had an absolutely wonderful Mother’s Day weekend filled with time outdoors, time with family, and time for me.  On Saturday, we drove up to the farm where we met K, Mom and Dad, the uncles, and Great Grandma Nell.  We enjoyed smoked salmon, deviled eggs, crab dip, and tiramisu; walks through the gardens (Nell refers to the main garden as “the maze”) and the fields; feeding the horses; and, at least for two of us, a significant amount of time spent jumping in (and falling in) a large mud puddle in the field.

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On Sunday, I got on the water at sunrise, came back in to Starbucks delivery from K, enjoyed time with the kiddos at the park, lunched on the water at Stoneys in Broomes, and got to have dinner at Mom and Dad’s.  I also got Ravens gear and roses, so it was basically a perfect day.

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In the midst of everything else we had going on, my weekend was filled with paddle boarding. I paddled more than 11 miles over the course of the weekend.  I paddled in the rain on Friday night, I paddled with an instructor for technique training and race practice on Saturday morning, and I paddled with a friend who got up before dawn on Sunday to join me for a very early Mother’s Day paddle before wind and rain took over for the day.

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Even despite the dreary weather we’ve had recently, we’ve had beautiful moments peek through as well.  I got to see both the sunrise and the sunset from the beach on Mother’s Day, and I am pretty certain there is no better way to bookend any day.

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In Maryland

I love Maryland. In case you didn’t already know. I have since third grade when I did my state report on Maryland and vowed I would live here one day. (And I do!)

I love that in one day we can see rolling farm fields and the sandy shoreline.  I love that most days include deer walking through the trees and blue crabs swimming in the Bay.

(And I thought to say that I love that we have tall trees surrounding our house yet sand on our floors, but our tall trees are holly trees, and I do NOT love those trees. Their leaves are like millions of tiny enemies shooting daggers at your feet. I do not love those.)

At any rate, this weekend brought the best of both worlds — the best Maryland has to offer.

On Saturday, we went up to the farm after far too long an absence and spent time with Mom, Dad, the uncles, and Grandma who came down from NJ. And it was a perfect day for walking through the gardens, feeding the horses, and collecting piles of fresh vegetables from their vines.

Here are some pictures of Nell (4, as her shirt says) with her great grandma Nell (who should advertise her age — 99 — on a shirt). And Guy who made faces.

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And some pictures from the morning…

20150829_122622 20150829_122703 20150829_123349 20150829_150043 20150829_150103 20150829_150855Great Grandma Nell gave little Nell a harmonica. That seems to fall squarely on the line of “gifts you give to people you don’t live with.”

20150829_115711Sunday was a beach day — flat water all weekend and, just like that, the jellyfish are practically gone!  A paddler friend of mine joined me in the morning for a four-mile paddle to the nearby State Park and back. We paddled over fish, crabs, and the largest group of cownose rays I have ever seen, and passed crabbers, fishers, hikers, and shark tooth hunters along the way.

The kiddos had their turn at the beach after lunch. Nell swam, Guy threw shells in the water, and both of them mixed “ooey gooey” in their buckets.

20150830_150640 20150830_150652 20150830_153022 20150830_153024Unfortunately we lost one of Nell’s pink crocs when we were cleaning up after our beach adventure, so G and Lucy went back to the beach on a croc-finding mission early this morning.

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Giving Thanks

We had an absolutely beautiful day yesterday up on the farm with Mom, Dad, Michael, Wayne, K, Grandma, and even Poppy, who made the trip up to snowy White Hall. We couldn’t have asked for a more gorgeous setting for Thanksgiving this year, which even included a drive up to the uncles’ tree field to cut down a Christmas tree for our home this year.  We are staying in today to rest, decorate, enjoy holiday movies, and close out November with thanks and happiness.

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Thanksgiving on the Farm

K came down this weekend to celebrate Thanksgiving and join us at the farm, along with M & W and Great Grandma Nell.  Wayne put out a feast, like he always does, starting with French cheesy pastry, portobello mushrooms stuffed with spinach and Virginia ham, and crab dip.  That all came before we even made it to the main feast, and then it was all followed by dessert  — apple pie and chocolate pecan pie.  It was decadent, to say the least, and by the time it was all over, none of us wanted to move — and the three adults in our car were pretty jealous of the toddler and baby who had fresh Christmas pajamas to wear for the ride home.

Here are some pictures from our day, which was clear and beautiful, but cold.  Not so cold, however, that Nellie couldn’t see the horses, which was all she talked about on the way up.

 

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It was quite the horsey weekend, actually.  Great Grandma Nell gave Nellie a horse purse, and K bought Nellie a stuffed riding horse for an early Christmas present.  K then jerry-rigged one of Nellie’s dolls to the horse upon her request, which was acceptable only after Nellie determined that she, herself, did not fit on the horse.

Speaking of presents, K just returned home from Spain and brought goodies for everyone — including a (totally daycare appropriate) flamenco dress, which has become Nellie’s new favorite thing ever.

In case you’re wondering, Nellie hit her cheek on the coffee table last week while attempting a complicated twisting dance move on the couch.  Last holiday season, she gave herself a black eye when she tripped in the kitchen at the old house — also just before our annual holiday trip to the farm.

The kid makes holiday photos tricky.

We were sad to say goodbye to K, who headed back to NY early this morning, but next up, it’s our turn to travel!  Connecticut in a week to see Nellie’s cousins, followed by a little Christmas in New York!

Happy holiday season!