tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-30231215580753664612016-05-16T08:17:32.675-04:00West Philly MamaWest Philly Mama blogs about her family, natural/attachment parenting, and the mundane details of her day to day life from a left of center perspective. Topics include: queer/lgbt parenting, cloth diapering, baby wearing, breastfeeding, healthy recipes, progressive politics, crafting, co-sleeping, true love, and of course, West Philadelphia. She is unexpectedly a SAHM (Stay At Home Mom) and enjoying her days with her baby (almost toddler!) and their pug. Reclaiming Family Values.Sandra Telepnoreply@blogger.comBlogger672125tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3023121558075366461.post-37540671031918058592016-05-10T09:28:00.000-04:002016-05-10T09:28:53.700-04:00Sick As A Dog<div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-6SmqJkoS-Sk/VzHeUNDH6FI/AAAAAAAAKXs/b3p_W7-8joA/s640/blogger-image--705544629.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-6SmqJkoS-Sk/VzHeUNDH6FI/AAAAAAAAKXs/b3p_W7-8joA/s640/blogger-image--705544629.jpg" /></a></div><br /><div style="text-align: left;">Our pug Talula isn't doing well. &nbsp;A few months ago she had some health issues crop up and after a few visits to the vet and many (rather expensive) tests she was diagnosed with diabetes. She's been on insulin for several months now, but it took a while to get her blood sugar under control. Now she seems to be feeling better, but she lost her vision (a complication of the diabetes) and the vet also discovered a mammary tumor. This is on top of recurring hot spots and ear infections which she seems to constantly be fighting. Poor puppy has seen better days.</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"></div><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-PocUOc2t4uc/VzHeWMwqrdI/AAAAAAAAKXw/yVIAmJ9pHIs/s640/blogger-image--1968678524.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-PocUOc2t4uc/VzHeWMwqrdI/AAAAAAAAKXw/yVIAmJ9pHIs/s640/blogger-image--1968678524.jpg" /></a></div><br /><br />Talula has been with us for about 11 years now. She joined our family before we had kids. Before we moved to Philly. Before I thought I was the kind of person that would drop a small fortune on vet bills to keep a pet comfortable and healthy. When Lu was really sick, she lost a lot of weight, was having lots of potty accidents in the house and was lethargic (even for her). It was scary.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-TSAzXOniJ3U/VzHeSBqSF4I/AAAAAAAAKXo/NhT_3jXszdE/s640/blogger-image-1719351850.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-TSAzXOniJ3U/VzHeSBqSF4I/AAAAAAAAKXo/NhT_3jXszdE/s640/blogger-image-1719351850.jpg" /></a></div><br />We are still figuring out what the tumor means and what our options are, but in the mean time she is feeling much better on her current dose of insulin. She's trying to adapt to the loss of vision...but it's slow going. She's never had a great sense of smell...or hearing...and she's not particularly bright. So she's been banging her noggin on stuff all over the house. She tolerates the insulin shots twice a day pretty well, though she doesn't love the days we have to do a curve - which requires we prick her to draw blood every couple of hours to see how stable her blood sugars are through out the day.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-ymD9fjfjKbI/VzHeXil_pXI/AAAAAAAAKX0/cyoyv5hBSE8/s640/blogger-image--347125928.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-ymD9fjfjKbI/VzHeXil_pXI/AAAAAAAAKX0/cyoyv5hBSE8/s640/blogger-image--347125928.jpg" /></a></div><br />Still, through all of this she has remained her sweet patient self. I can't imagine how frightened she must be, and I'm sure she was often feeling really lousy, but she never reacted with aggression. Not even when Zoe was trying to nurse her back to health in ways that only a three year old would think were helpful. She still follows jb everywhere. She still licks my feet every time I sit down. I don't know how much time we have left with her, but I'm grateful for it.<br /><br /><br />Sandra Telephttps://plus.google.com/115379448859608362870noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3023121558075366461.post-67582303762733535142016-05-04T15:58:00.000-04:002016-05-05T17:51:06.576-04:00Top Five Before School Breakfasts<div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">The most important meal of the day is a big deal in our house. Before Leo started kindergarten breakfast would stretch until nearly lunch. We'd linger at the table and eat several "courses" in a row. We'd snack on fruit, eggs, and/or pancakes. Now our mornings are much more...compact. We find ourselves rushing around trying to get dressed, pack lunches and make sure homework and library books are ready to go...nevermind when it's cold out and we have to add hats/coats/gloves to the routine. Still, we need to make sure we send the kids off with tummies full of something that will keep them going until lunch. Whipping up something that is nutritious and can be ready in 15 minutes or less is our goal. Here are our go-to breakfasts:</div><br><span style="font-size: large;"><b>1. Green Smoothie</b></span><br><br><div>Smoothies might be the king of quick breakfasts because throwing a few handfuls of fruit and greens into the blender takes about a minute - plus, they are easy to toss into a straw cup to drink on the go. Sometimes we add in some yogurt for extra calcium and a bit of protein. The best part? We pour any unused leftovers into popsicle molds and the kids will devour them as an after school treat.<br><div><br></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Q2TZML1I3AU/Ui31YvkRlCI/AAAAAAAAH-M/jk3fhCj_uh8/s1600/blogger-image-1719894790.jpg" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em; text-align: center;"><img border="0" height="320" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Q2TZML1I3AU/Ui31YvkRlCI/AAAAAAAAH-M/jk3fhCj_uh8/s320/blogger-image-1719894790.jpg" width="320"></a></div><div><br><br><span style="font-size: large;"><b>2. Oatmeal</b></span><br><span style="font-size: large;"><b><br></b></span></div><div>When we make this in the morning it is ready in under 15 mins, but when we have the foresight to make a batch for the week it cuts the time down to a 30-second microwave wait. This breakfast never gets old since we rotate the mix-ins, though our family favorite is apples and cinnamon. Can't beat it on a cold morning!<br><div><br></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-IbI-DNlI0Ks/U6GfVnr_0qI/AAAAAAAAJHQ/4CB66oyn5yc/s640/blogger-image-1468863421.jpg" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-IbI-DNlI0Ks/U6GfVnr_0qI/AAAAAAAAJHQ/4CB66oyn5yc/s640/blogger-image-1468863421.jpg"></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br></div><div><br><br><span style="font-size: large;"><b>3. Bird in a Nest with Brussels Sprout Hash&nbsp;</b></span><br><span style="font-size: large;"><b><br></b></span></div><div>This is probably the meal on the list with the longest prep time. A bird in a nest can be ready in just a few minutes (just crack the egg into the cutout in the bread - we use cookie cutters to make the hole, but a cup works, too). The hash can be made by sautéing leftover veggies (brussels sprouts are our fave, and the one pictured also has sweet potatoes...so good!) and a strip or two of bacon. Just chop everything up finely and toss around a hot pan with butter. A bit more involved than other meals, but a great foundation for the day.</div><div><br></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-_jnKBtFaQqw/U5zTgyHgaSI/AAAAAAAAJEA/lBs4eq8if8U/s1600/IMG_0832.jpg" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em; text-align: center;"><img border="0" height="240" src="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-_jnKBtFaQqw/U5zTgyHgaSI/AAAAAAAAJEA/lBs4eq8if8U/s320/IMG_0832.jpg" width="320"></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><span style="font-size: large;"><b>4.&nbsp;</b></span><b><span style="font-size: large;">Bake aheads: Quiche or Muffins</span></b></div><div><br>Some mornings even 15 minutes is too much to spare...these morning we rely on grab and go options. These require some forethought, but end up being worth it to have something nutritious ready to go on those mornings when we are rushing. We try to have quiche muffins, banana/zucchini muffins, pancakes or hardboiled eggs on hand to pop out of the freezer/fridge and eat on the way to school. Sure beats a toaster pastry.<br><br><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-HkFNR5w2iOg/VyvASYsdqiI/AAAAAAAAKXQ/3cuiSE-zfA0/s640/blogger-image-1204319409.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-HkFNR5w2iOg/VyvASYsdqiI/AAAAAAAAKXQ/3cuiSE-zfA0/s640/blogger-image-1204319409.jpg"></a></div><br></div><div><br></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><span style="font-size: large;"><b>5. &nbsp;Parfait</b></span></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><span style="font-size: large;"><b><br></b></span></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">When I make parfaits the kids think they are getting sundaes for breakfast. I layer yogurt, berries (fresh or frozen thawed in the microwave a few seconds), granola, and bit of honey. I do make my own granola, but it's super easy and I like that I can control the ingredients. I usually double up on the nuts to make it extra filling and pump up the protein. You can put it in a bowl, but presentation goes a long way with kids (I guess that's why those ridiculous bento box lunches are so popular on Pintrest) so we fancy it up with a parfait glass.</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><span style="font-size: large;"><b><br></b></span></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Ev81v-0UnP8/U5zTdxL7ivI/AAAAAAAAJD4/g6HXI0qYa8Q/s1600/IMG_0834.jpg" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="320" src="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Ev81v-0UnP8/U5zTdxL7ivI/AAAAAAAAJD4/g6HXI0qYa8Q/s320/IMG_0834.jpg" width="240"></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Neqyt0mEalM/U5zLNW3i24I/AAAAAAAAJDc/qFcujHuLreU/s1600/IMG_5405.JPG" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="320" src="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Neqyt0mEalM/U5zLNW3i24I/AAAAAAAAJDc/qFcujHuLreU/s320/IMG_5405.JPG" width="320"></a></div><div><br></div><div><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Neqyt0mEalM/U5zLNW3i24I/AAAAAAAAJDc/qFcujHuLreU/s1600/IMG_5405.JPG"></a><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Neqyt0mEalM/U5zLNW3i24I/AAAAAAAAJDc/qFcujHuLreU/s1600/IMG_5405.JPG"></a><br>I've got nothing against a bowl of cereal or a frozen waffle, but I do prefer to try and get something nutritionally dense and homemade on the table for breakfast when possible. Being able to control the ingredients (i.e. leaving out the junk and sneaking in some extra healthy stuff) in what my kids eat isn't always possible, especially now with birthday parties, snacks at activities, and treats at school. So when I can maximize the nutritive profile of what my family is eating, I do. It makes the treats we do indulge in all the more enjoyable.<br><br><div><div><div></div></div></div></div></div></div>Sandra Telephttps://plus.google.com/115379448859608362870noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3023121558075366461.post-83250230095857501522016-04-28T21:06:00.003-04:002016-04-29T01:41:26.226-04:00State Of The Young-ins: Spring 2016A lot has happened/changed since the last time I wrote regularly here...but a lot is really still the same. I've been slow coming to terms with the fact that I no longer have a "baby" - I always pause in the baby section of stores only to realize that none of those products really apply to us anymore. We've got two straight up kids - with all the benefits and challenges that come with them. In many ways parenting has gotten easier in the last year or two. Both kids (mostly) sleep in their own beds, can get themselves dressed, play independently, go to the bathroom without assistance, can eat a meal and tackle chores that are actually helpful (unlike the toddler version of helping which just makes everything take twice as long). Whether they choose to do these things is another issue entirely...but they CAN be quite independent. After the first five years of parenthood that I spent either pregnant, nursing, or both...I've found a lot of freedom in the this stage of parenting. Of course new challenges crop up and we are still figuring out how to navigate this new chapter. We seem to be busy in a different way these days. Maybe busy is the wrong word. Our lives are full. Still, I do feel like we prioritize family time and we are doing a decent job of enjoying this era before it slips by.<br><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-Zh8OjbGHzLM/VyLzxIk1bcI/AAAAAAAAKWM/7pQ_pvzyY8A/s640/blogger-image-714367404.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-Zh8OjbGHzLM/VyLzxIk1bcI/AAAAAAAAKWM/7pQ_pvzyY8A/s640/blogger-image-714367404.jpg"></a></div><br><br><b><span style="font-size: large;">Leo</span></b><br><br>Leo has adapted to school really well. He is closer to the end than the beginning of his kindergarten year and our one goal (that his first experience with school be a positive one) has been met. He loves his teacher, his friends and seems to be learning a lot. That said, it also takes a lot out of him. He comes home and just wants to either color, play with Legos or watch a tv show. Usually, we let him, because even though he does have homework, it is not mandatory. So we encourage homework, but equally encourage play...or even just relaxing.<br><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-4Zu7FahbWJA/VyLz29S5FVI/AAAAAAAAKWY/SV0JyjxsoTo/s640/blogger-image--1329395512.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-4Zu7FahbWJA/VyLz29S5FVI/AAAAAAAAKWY/SV0JyjxsoTo/s640/blogger-image--1329395512.jpg"></a></div><br>The hardest transition on my end is that I just feel like I don't get enough of him. I miss him. We spent ALL of our time together for five years and now we get rushed mornings, packed evenings and (sometimes busy) weekends. At the end of the day I just want more time with him. He's turning into this incredible kid - singing songs I don't know, sharing jokes I'm not in on, and developing interests that I didn't introduce him to. It's amazing to watch, but bittersweet to loosen my grip on him. Luckily, he still really loves to cuddle, so if I ever do feel like he's growing up too fast, he's happy to slow down for a bit and remind me he's still my baby.<br><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-Uf6paybLQU8/VyLz4qnEQzI/AAAAAAAAKWc/i-CLpqpjcoE/s640/blogger-image--1238214731.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-Uf6paybLQU8/VyLz4qnEQzI/AAAAAAAAKWc/i-CLpqpjcoE/s640/blogger-image--1238214731.jpg"></a></div><br>Leo is still his sweet sensitive self, but he has really come out of his shell this year. He was so very shy, especially with new people before, but now he's downright outgoing. He is quick to say hello or strike up conversation...he might even be a bit of a ham. He's reading easy reader books all on his own and loves math and science. He's in his second season at a local soccer league (jb was a coach last season) and loves digging holes outside.<br><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-q8srBWRRSzY/VyLztv8dVuI/AAAAAAAAKWE/14HPIO_0oFg/s640/blogger-image-1575346856.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-q8srBWRRSzY/VyLztv8dVuI/AAAAAAAAKWE/14HPIO_0oFg/s640/blogger-image-1575346856.jpg"></a></div><br>Leo has a typical five-year-old sponge-like brain. He loves learning about animals and especially enjoys shows like Wild Kratts, that help him collect information. He also really enjoys learning things through song. We started with some simple songs - like the days of the week, months of the year, etc. (Well I guess really we began with the ABCs...) and he enjoyed them so much that we moved on to the 50 Nifty United States and now he's trying to master the periodic table song. The capacity for rote memorization at this age is impressive.<br><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-Mu_u5n9W-JE/VyLzzJFAHbI/AAAAAAAAKWQ/W3eWPWhEIJI/s640/blogger-image-809761042.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-Mu_u5n9W-JE/VyLzzJFAHbI/AAAAAAAAKWQ/W3eWPWhEIJI/s640/blogger-image-809761042.jpg"></a></div><br>Leo is a much pickier eater than he was last year. His intake of fruits and veggies is limited to a short list of acceptable varieties. He is also still very particular about the types of clothes he wears. If it were up to him he would never wear anything that doesn't have an elastic waistband. We have to cut the tags out of his shirts, and the tantrums over socks and shoes each morning are epic. We are also deep in the whining phase of childhood, which I have little patience for...and I'm hoping the end is in sight soon. Other than these few quirks, he is a pretty easy going kid. He's eager to please, thoughtful, cautious and very in tune with other people's emotions. It's really a pleasure to know and parent him.<br><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-SKvPmUUkp-U/VyLzvV0cdfI/AAAAAAAAKWI/wYIkgCQ019Q/s640/blogger-image-771982526.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-SKvPmUUkp-U/VyLzvV0cdfI/AAAAAAAAKWI/wYIkgCQ019Q/s640/blogger-image-771982526.jpg"></a></div><br><br><b><span style="font-size: large;">Zoe</span></b><br><br>&nbsp;Zoe is going to preschool two mornings a week, but spends most of her time as my sidekick. She did go to school for four day a week for a while, but it was a bit much for her. Zoe prefers to be home/with me, so as long as that's an option, we are trying to maximize our time together. She is still quite the firecracker, but I do think things have slowly begun to chill out now that we are past that tough 2.5-3.5 stage. The silver lining of missing leo while he's in school is that Zoe and I have been having a lot of one on one time and it's been nice to get to see who she is when no one else is around.<br><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-RvlauGyO538/VyLzr5r_zHI/AAAAAAAAKWA/SnZfUFqD7_s/s640/blogger-image--910974136.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-RvlauGyO538/VyLzr5r_zHI/AAAAAAAAKWA/SnZfUFqD7_s/s640/blogger-image--910974136.jpg"></a></div><br>Zoe's current obsession is her balance bike. She rides that thing everywhere. To school, to the park, to pick up Leo from school...even from the living room to the kitchen. The first day she got on it, she rode ten blocks to a friend's home...then ten blocks back. Even after that she cried when we told her we had to go back inside and take a break from riding. The next day, the first thing she did was hop back on the bike and the poor thing had bike seat bruise (anyone who has taken a spin class can relate, I'm sure) and it hurt too much to ride. She was devastated. But as soon as her bottom felt better she got back on and has barely gotten off to eat and sleep since.<br><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-kBKaj_tc5Yk/VyL0BWNJR5I/AAAAAAAAKWw/FjhsupLTHGc/s640/blogger-image--89585509.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-kBKaj_tc5Yk/VyL0BWNJR5I/AAAAAAAAKWw/FjhsupLTHGc/s640/blogger-image--89585509.jpg"></a></div><br>Her "baby Koh-wah-wah" (Baby Koala is actually a stuffed elephant...I don't know why she named it that) is still very precious to her. So precious, in fact that Baby Koala made it onto our holiday card this year. Zoe is also very fond of two pandas, Max and Pearl, that were a gift from a friend of the family. She has a basket on her bike and brings them with her everywhere.<br><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-sFEPtVxNJu0/VyLz1JCT9HI/AAAAAAAAKWU/_41ztEBUd8Q/s640/blogger-image--1614185508.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-sFEPtVxNJu0/VyLz1JCT9HI/AAAAAAAAKWU/_41ztEBUd8Q/s640/blogger-image--1614185508.jpg"></a></div><br></div><br>Zoe has grown out of many of her adorable mispronunciations. Most notably my beloved "farkley" for sparkley. &nbsp;Though she does still mix up or mis-remember the names of certain things and that is equally cute. For example, she calls sweat pants "sweaty pants." SWEATY PANTS. This is how kids survive. They drive you bonkers, but then they say something like "sweaty pants" and you can't stay mad.<br><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-ZS32eMXddGA/VyLz77IX-7I/AAAAAAAAKWk/nowUJ0pTosY/s640/blogger-image--665605698.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-ZS32eMXddGA/VyLz77IX-7I/AAAAAAAAKWk/nowUJ0pTosY/s640/blogger-image--665605698.jpg"></a></div><br>Zoe can be quick to anger and often seems to be yelling. In fact, we thought she might have some hearing loss so we took her to the Doctor, but apparently she's just a loud kid who doesn't like to listen. So, uh, that's a relief? She knows what she wants and may the universe help you if you get in her way. She is confident, brave, funny (SO FUNNY) and sharp. While these traits can sometimes be challenging to parent, she is a hella cool person.&nbsp;Zoe jumps into everything with both feet. I admire her in so many ways...and feel lucky I get to know her and watch her grow into the girl (and eventually woman) she's meant to be.<br><br><br><b><span style="font-size: large;">Duo</span></b><br><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-dNt1o3fWiDo/VyLz_UIrZPI/AAAAAAAAKWs/6vhrB721r78/s640/blogger-image-768347236.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-dNt1o3fWiDo/VyLz_UIrZPI/AAAAAAAAKWs/6vhrB721r78/s640/blogger-image-768347236.jpg"></a></div><br>Zoe still wants to do everything her brother does and imitates him and follows him and...well...as with every sibling set since the beginning of time...pesters him. There has been quite a bit of bickering in our house and it drives me batty. It's incredible what ridiculous things these two can fight about. Of course, usually, a few minutes later they are BFFs again. It's me that is left with the residual anxiety of several minutes of screaming and crying - about a dozen times a day. Still, I'd say over all they get along really well and clearly love each other dearly.<br><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-2ksooT8HvrA/VyLz9kp9YrI/AAAAAAAAKWo/KSmIbE5yUU0/s640/blogger-image-471549446.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-2ksooT8HvrA/VyLz9kp9YrI/AAAAAAAAKWo/KSmIbE5yUU0/s640/blogger-image-471549446.jpg"></a></div><br>These two kids are so different, and while they do occasionally butt heads, mostly they compliment each other in really beautiful ways. They learn so much from each other. I'm in awe watching their friendship grow and evolve. Their goodbyes in the mornings and their reunions in the afternoons are enough to melt hearts. When they are able figure out ways to play harmoniously together, it's my favorite thing in the world to observe. They come up with fantastic imaginary worlds complete with headquarters and superpowers.<br><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-YQzyZlI0F_w/VyLz6byACkI/AAAAAAAAKWg/GAXRWWEDK3M/s640/blogger-image-1667013444.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-YQzyZlI0F_w/VyLz6byACkI/AAAAAAAAKWg/GAXRWWEDK3M/s640/blogger-image-1667013444.jpg"></a></div><br>My own relationships with my siblings are so important to me now as an adult, and I really hope for my kids to have that in each other. So far they seem to be off to a great start.<br><br><br>Sandra Telephttps://plus.google.com/115379448859608362870noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3023121558075366461.post-32761811521177923802016-02-22T21:22:00.002-05:002016-02-22T21:22:40.701-05:00First 5k Recap<span style="font-family: &quot;helvetica neue&quot; , &quot;arial&quot; , &quot;helvetica&quot; , sans-serif;">This is so long overdue that I almost didn't post about it since it's been four months since this race, but I've had a couple inquiries as to how it went...so here goes:</span><br /><span style="font-family: &quot;helvetica neue&quot; , &quot;arial&quot; , &quot;helvetica&quot; , sans-serif;"><br /></span><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-vnTFVlsrjIs/VklLMHtIqYI/AAAAAAAAKPI/6yQkHePdU1w/s640/blogger-image-2036309232.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><span style="font-family: &quot;helvetica neue&quot; , &quot;arial&quot; , &quot;helvetica&quot; , sans-serif;"><img border="0" src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-vnTFVlsrjIs/VklLMHtIqYI/AAAAAAAAKPI/6yQkHePdU1w/s640/blogger-image-2036309232.jpg" /></span></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: &quot;helvetica neue&quot; , &quot;arial&quot; , &quot;helvetica&quot; , sans-serif;"><br /></span></div><span style="font-family: &quot;helvetica neue&quot; , &quot;arial&quot; , &quot;helvetica&quot; , sans-serif;">I did it! I (slowly) ran the entire Purple Stride 5k without stopping to walk - which was my only goal. &nbsp;AND - with the generosity of friends and family I was able to raise over $700 to fight Pancreatic Can</span><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">cer.&nbsp;<span style="background-color: white; color: #141823;">I am so grateful to everyone who donated to my PanCan fundraising. Thank you. I am genuinely overwhelmed thinking about it. When I signed up for this race, I simply chose it because of the Pancreatic Cancer connection, not realizing that it fell the week between Day of the Dead and what would have been my father's 69th birthday. Working towards this race became something bigger than I anticipated and I felt so supported in this goal. Not just because of the fundraising - but every neighbor who cheered me o</span><span class="text_exposed_show" style="color: #141823; display: inline;">n when they saw me out training, and every time my family made sure I had time to get out there and run, and all the encouragement I've gotten along the way.&nbsp;</span></span><br /><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><span class="text_exposed_show" style="color: #141823; display: inline;"><br /></span></span><span style="background-color: white; color: #141823;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">My time was in the same neighborhoo</span><span style="font-family: &quot;helvetica neue&quot; , &quot;arial&quot; , &quot;helvetica&quot; , sans-serif;">d as my training runs (41:11 or 13:17 pace) - so slow, but I don't mind.&nbsp;</span></span><span style="font-family: &quot;helvetica neue&quot; , &quot;arial&quot; , &quot;helvetica&quot; , sans-serif;">I wasn't really nervous about whether I'd be able to finish since I had done several 5k practice runs in the weeks leading up to the race. Plus, this time</span><span style="background-color: white; color: #141823; font-family: &quot;helvetica neue&quot; , &quot;arial&quot; , &quot;helvetica&quot; , sans-serif;">&nbsp;I had an adorable purple-clad cheering section that doled out encouragement and high-fives.&nbsp;</span><br /><span style="background-color: white; color: #141823;"><span style="font-family: &quot;helvetica neue&quot; , &quot;arial&quot; , &quot;helvetica&quot; , sans-serif;"><br /></span></span><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: &quot;helvetica neue&quot; , &quot;arial&quot; , &quot;helvetica&quot; , sans-serif; margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"></span></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: &quot;helvetica neue&quot; , &quot;arial&quot; , &quot;helvetica&quot; , sans-serif; margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-EtPxeWWhXX4/VklLKGWkbCI/AAAAAAAAKPA/e9Bm2M-WLKw/s640/blogger-image--290454153.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-EtPxeWWhXX4/VklLKGWkbCI/AAAAAAAAKPA/e9Bm2M-WLKw/s640/blogger-image--290454153.jpg" /></a></span></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><span style="background-color: white; color: #141823;"><span style="font-family: &quot;helvetica neue&quot; , &quot;arial&quot; , &quot;helvetica&quot; , sans-serif;">I will say it was a little disheartening in the first 5-10 mins when I was just being passed and passed by an ocean of runners...but once everyone settled into their pace groupings it was rather lovely. &nbsp;I'm guessing this is avoided at larger races with pace corrals at the starting line, but now I know to start towards the back in the future.</span></span><br /><span style="background-color: white; color: #141823;"><span style="font-family: &quot;helvetica neue&quot; , &quot;arial&quot; , &quot;helvetica&quot; , sans-serif;"><br /></span></span><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-dtJ3_cpuuBA/VklLUyc1sbI/AAAAAAAAKPo/WxGYDCe4FOM/s640/blogger-image-535052168.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-dtJ3_cpuuBA/VklLUyc1sbI/AAAAAAAAKPo/WxGYDCe4FOM/s640/blogger-image-535052168.jpg" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><br /></span></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">What kept me going was that jb and the kids hopped from one spot to another to be sure to cheer me on throughout the whole race. I spotted them at least once/mile and in the final stretch Zoe joined me to cross the finish line hand in hand.</span></div><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;"><br /></span><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-DOLkrlQfMck/VklLW6dNx1I/AAAAAAAAKPw/9NUtNJoIqrs/s640/blogger-image--1600175158.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-DOLkrlQfMck/VklLW6dNx1I/AAAAAAAAKPw/9NUtNJoIqrs/s640/blogger-image--1600175158.jpg" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><span style="background-color: white;"><span style="color: #141823;"><span style="font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , sans-serif;">The weather was great and the autumn leaves were gorgeous. Fairmount Park is always pretty</span><span style="font-family: &quot;helvetica neue&quot; , &quot;arial&quot; , &quot;helvetica&quot; , sans-serif;">, but it's&nbsp;positively&nbsp;breathtaking in the fall. I thought about my dad a lot as I ran.&nbsp;About how hard it was to run for 30 seconds when I first started. About how amazing it is that I've come so far...but that running still really sucks.</span></span></span><br /><span style="background-color: white;"><span style="font-family: &quot;helvetica neue&quot; , &quot;arial&quot; , &quot;helvetica&quot; , sans-serif;"><span style="color: #141823;"><br /></span></span></span><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-zJ24VA2wfs0/VklLOHFG06I/AAAAAAAAKPQ/LJLJdLZ3I9Q/s1600/blogger-image--1091006595.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-zJ24VA2wfs0/VklLOHFG06I/AAAAAAAAKPQ/LJLJdLZ3I9Q/s640/blogger-image--1091006595.jpg" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><br /><div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-aGzZzh3BADk/VklLQavfvtI/AAAAAAAAKPY/UhCfadp6OCY/s1600/blogger-image-978051137.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-aGzZzh3BADk/VklLQavfvtI/AAAAAAAAKPY/UhCfadp6OCY/s640/blogger-image-978051137.jpg" /></a></div><br /></div><div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-aGzZzh3BADk/VklLQavfvtI/AAAAAAAAKPY/UhCfadp6OCY/s640/blogger-image-978051137.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><span style="font-family: &quot;helvetica neue&quot; , &quot;arial&quot; , &quot;helvetica&quot; , sans-serif;"></span></a></div><span style="font-family: &quot;helvetica neue&quot; , &quot;arial&quot; , &quot;helvetica&quot; , sans-serif;">So, yeah, I'm still not&nbsp;one of those people who loves running...but I do love having run. Much like writing. Once it's done, I feel great...but the process of getting it done is usually torture.&nbsp;</span><br /><span style="font-family: &quot;helvetica neue&quot; , &quot;arial&quot; , &quot;helvetica&quot; , sans-serif;"><br /></span></div><div><span style="font-family: &quot;helvetica neue&quot; , &quot;arial&quot; , &quot;helvetica&quot; , sans-serif;">The great thing about the couch 2 5k program is that it emphasizes time vs distance. It doesn't matter how fast or far you go...you just need to make it through 30 seconds of running...then one minute...until you can run 30 minutes straight. That can be challenging when you get to the end of program and are still significantly short on distance, but it really reframes how you think about success.</span><br /><span style="font-family: &quot;helvetica neue&quot; , &quot;arial&quot; , &quot;helvetica&quot; , sans-serif;"><br /></span><span style="font-family: &quot;helvetica neue&quot; , &quot;arial&quot; , &quot;helvetica&quot; , sans-serif;">Slow time is a victory. When I finished I didn't think "Oh man, it took me over 40 minutes to finish a 5k!?!" I thought, "YES! I ran for OVER FORTY MINUTES STRAIGHT!!"&nbsp;</span><br /><span style="font-family: &quot;helvetica neue&quot; , &quot;arial&quot; , &quot;helvetica&quot; , sans-serif;"><br /></span><span style="font-family: &quot;helvetica neue&quot; , &quot;arial&quot; , &quot;helvetica&quot; , sans-serif;">Despite repeatedly explaining that my only goal was to finish and that I was only competing against myself, the kids disappointed I didn't "win."</span><span style="background-color: white; color: #141823; font-family: &quot;helvetica neue&quot; , &quot;arial&quot; , &quot;helvetica&quot; , sans-serif;">&nbsp;jb said they let out an audible "Awwwww" when the first runner crossed the finish line and it wasn't me. So, that's adorable.</span><br /><span style="background-color: white; color: #141823; font-family: &quot;helvetica neue&quot; , &quot;arial&quot; , &quot;helvetica&quot; , sans-serif;"><br /></span><span style="background-color: white; color: #141823; font-family: &quot;helvetica neue&quot; , &quot;arial&quot; , &quot;helvetica&quot; , sans-serif;">I've got two upcoming 5ks booked for March and April. My running has been infrequent lately due to illness, cold, ice...and well, life. But I'm doubling down so that I can hopefully beat my time.</span><br /><span style="background-color: white; color: #141823; font-family: &quot;helvetica neue&quot; , &quot;arial&quot; , &quot;helvetica&quot; , sans-serif;"><br /></span><span style="background-color: white; color: #141823; font-family: &quot;helvetica neue&quot; , &quot;arial&quot; , &quot;helvetica&quot; , sans-serif;">Thanks again to everyone for their support and encouragement!</span></div><div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><span style="font-family: &quot;helvetica neue&quot; , &quot;arial&quot; , &quot;helvetica&quot; , sans-serif;"></span></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><span style="font-family: &quot;helvetica neue&quot; , &quot;arial&quot; , &quot;helvetica&quot; , sans-serif;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-iqEVNB1eC2U/VklLStILAXI/AAAAAAAAKPg/86AbJ9HFfp0/s640/blogger-image-1433967433.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-iqEVNB1eC2U/VklLStILAXI/AAAAAAAAKPg/86AbJ9HFfp0/s640/blogger-image-1433967433.jpg" /></a></span></div><span style="font-family: &quot;helvetica neue&quot; , &quot;arial&quot; , &quot;helvetica&quot; , sans-serif;"><br /></span></div><div><span style="font-family: &quot;helvetica neue&quot; , &quot;arial&quot; , &quot;helvetica&quot; , sans-serif;"><br /></span></div><div><span style="font-family: &quot;helvetica neue&quot; , &quot;arial&quot; , &quot;helvetica&quot; , sans-serif;"><br /></span></div><div><span style="font-family: &quot;helvetica neue&quot; , &quot;arial&quot; , &quot;helvetica&quot; , sans-serif;"><br /></span></div><div><span style="font-family: &quot;helvetica neue&quot; , &quot;arial&quot; , &quot;helvetica&quot; , sans-serif;"><br /></span></div><div><br /></div>Sandra Telephttps://plus.google.com/115379448859608362870noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3023121558075366461.post-78524664121848588092016-01-02T20:28:00.000-05:002016-01-02T20:28:27.562-05:00Year in Review: 20152015 has been a difficult year. It started with me still reeling from the loss of my cousin in December 2014 and went on to include three more losses that have left me feeling like a grief stricken pinball.<div><ul><li>My dad passed away after his battle with pancreatic cancer in February.&nbsp;</li><li>My (great) Uncle Steve passed away at 90 years old in November. I wasn't able to make it to his funeral. Obviously at 90 years old, it wasn't unexpected, but he was SUCH a cool person and was so pained by the loss of my father...I just wasn't ready to lose him.</li><li>My brother-in-law Christopher passed away just two weeks ago, right before Christmas. He was so smart and kind - and full of life. And so very loved. There are no words.</li></ul><div>Those three (four) losses alone are enough for me to want to say good riddance to 2015. Plus there is the difficulty of spending the holiday season planning and attending a funeral only to be followed by cleaning out Christopher's apartment before the end of the year. We inherited his two cats (adorable, sweet kittens) and our existing cat (also an adorable sweet thing) has not exactly welcomed them with open arms. It's getting better and now they are able be in the same room without hissing and mooing, but our couch was a casualty in the transitional turf war...and if you have any experience with cat urine, then you know that it's not an easy thing to come back from. Jess entered the new year unemployed (nothing dramatic, just the end of her contract and she has several promising leads for new employment, and we will be fine thanks to savings...but still, this employment gap is stress she does not need right now). And just to make sure 2015 kicked us in the ass on the way out the door, our washer leaked and flooded our basement. So. I'm very, very tempted to say a giant "Fuck you" to 2015...but I can't deny that it contained some immense joy and beauty as well.&nbsp;</div></div><div><ul><li>Outpouring of love and support - Throughout the year people have made a point of letting us know we are not alone. Phone calls, cards, food, texts, and general kindness have reminded us again and again that we are loved.&nbsp;</li><li>Pops and Julian moved in - After Uncle Daniel moved out, we only had a few months as a household with only our nuclear family of four. Pops and Uncle Julian moved in in August and with them came their cat, Chica. This marked the beginning of us going from a zero-cat household to kitty city. As I've said before, living with family isn't always easy, but I really like sharing a roof with extended family.</li><li>Leo started kindergarten - Leo started Kindergarten at a local public school and has really blossomed during his short time there. His teacher has over 35 years experience and he's enjoying every day and cultivating a love of school - which was my only hope for his first year of school.</li><li>Zoe weaned - This one is bittersweet, but Zoe stopped nursing (with encouragement from me) in August. She still asks about it, but over all the weaning went smoothly. It's nice (and a little strange) to have my body back. Up until that point I was either nursing or pregnant (or both!) for six years!</li><li>Mexico - The kids and I spent a month at my mother's house in Mexico this summer. We visited my cousin (the twin of the cousin that passed away last year) in Puebla, we climbed pyramids, visited ancient churches, ate delicious food, explored the continent's first public library, climbed a mountain, ate fresh trout, swam in a river, missed jb, got massages, hiked ravines, explored caves, and spent time with family.&nbsp;</li><li>Started running - After my dad passed I knew I needed to make a change and I started running - one minute at a time, until I was able to finish my first 5k. (I have like three posts about this in drafts...but the urge to write has really been hard to muster.)</li><li>Lost 50 lbs - hand in hand with running, I also made some changes to my eating habits after some major weight gain leading up to and following my father's death. The loss wasn't easy, and I'll likely never be thin...but I'm proud that my body feels like mine again and that I have kept it off for a few months despite major emotional rollercoaster-ing.</li><li>Camping - We managed to pack in two camping trips over the summer including one beach trip.</li><li>Zoe School - With Leo at kindergarten, Zoe has been at pre-school on her own. She was doing as many as four days/week earlier in the year, but we've taken her down to two days/week. While school has been great for Zoe, I really feel like this is my narrow window to really get some one-on-one time with her in. We've never really had that before this year and it's been great getting to know each other in some new ways. At the same time, she's loving preschool and really coming into her own now that she's not Leo's little sister at school.</li><li>Teaching - I actually started teaching at the kids' preschool last year, but this year is my first full year as a teacher. I'm only there 1-2 days/week, so my experience is still fairly limited, but I've learned a lot and found some great joy in both the kids and my co-workers.</li><li>Time to myself/with friends - With Leo in school five full days, and Zoe in school one morning &nbsp;(two for a couple of months there) without me, I find myself with a bit of time to myself each week. I use this time for running, yoga, coffee, seeing friends, or shopping in stores that are not kid friendly. It's not a ton of time, but it's made a big difference in my psyche. Plus, as always, jb makes herculean efforts so that I get time out with friends fairly regularly - and now that neither kid is nursing, bedtime is not as much of a restraint as it had been in the past.</li><li>Fun Home - speaking of time to myself, I had the opportunity to go see Fun Home on broadway and it was amazing. Plus, a day in NYC with other adults? Yes please!</li><li>Hosted Thanksgiving - we hosted a holiday for both sides of our families! It went really well and a good time was had by all. I look forward to doing it again, but this year will forever be special not only because it was the first one in our home, but it was also the first without my dad and the last one we shared with Christopher.</li></ul><div>So, life has presented great sorrow and difficult challenges, but we've had our share of joy and beauty...I guess that's what life is. Still, 2016, I wouldn't mind if you could take it a little easy on us, please.</div><div><br /></div><div><span style="background-color: white;"><span style="font-family: Arial, Tahoma, Helvetica, FreeSans, sans-serif; font-size: 14px;">Past years in Review:&nbsp;</span><a href="http://www.westphillymama.com/2007/12/year-in-review.html" style="font-family: Arial, Tahoma, Helvetica, FreeSans, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; text-decoration: none;">2007</a><span style="font-family: Arial, Tahoma, Helvetica, FreeSans, sans-serif; font-size: 14px;">,&nbsp;</span><a href="http://www.westphillymama.com/2009/01/olde-lang-syne.html" style="font-family: Arial, Tahoma, Helvetica, FreeSans, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; text-decoration: none;">2008</a><span style="font-family: Arial, Tahoma, Helvetica, FreeSans, sans-serif; font-size: 14px;">,&nbsp;</span><a href="http://www.westphillymama.com/2009/12/feliz-ano.html" style="font-family: Arial, Tahoma, Helvetica, FreeSans, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; text-decoration: none;">2009</a><span style="font-family: Arial, Tahoma, Helvetica, FreeSans, sans-serif; font-size: 14px;">,&nbsp;</span><a href="http://www.westphillymama.com/2011/01/best-year-ever.html" style="font-family: Arial, Tahoma, Helvetica, FreeSans, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; text-decoration: none;">2010</a><span style="font-family: Arial, Tahoma, Helvetica, FreeSans, sans-serif; font-size: 14px;">,&nbsp;</span><a href="http://www.westphillymama.com/2012/01/2011-recap.html" style="font-family: Arial, Tahoma, Helvetica, FreeSans, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; text-decoration: none;">2011</a><span style="font-family: Arial, Tahoma, Helvetica, FreeSans, sans-serif; font-size: 14px;">,&nbsp;</span><a href="http://www.westphillymama.com/2013/01/year-in-review-2012.html" style="font-family: Arial, Tahoma, Helvetica, FreeSans, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; text-decoration: none;">2012</a>,<span style="font-family: Arial, Tahoma, Helvetica, FreeSans, sans-serif; font-size: 14px;">&nbsp;</span><a href="http://www.westphillymama.com/2014/01/2013-year-in-review.html" style="font-family: Arial, Tahoma, Helvetica, FreeSans, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; text-decoration: none;">2013</a><span style="font-family: Arial, Tahoma, Helvetica, FreeSans, sans-serif;"><span style="font-size: 14px;">&nbsp;and <a href="http://www.westphillymama.com/2015/03/year-in-review-2014.html">2014</a>.</span></span></span></div></div>Sandra Telephttps://plus.google.com/115379448859608362870noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3023121558075366461.post-91770059475685380522015-09-28T22:50:00.000-04:002015-09-28T22:50:04.059-04:00Run, Mama, RunI'm doing something totally out of character. I'm running a 5k. In the past I've walked 5ks. I've enjoyed other ways of being active; Zumba, yoga, swimming... But until fairly recently, I've never run more than a few steps in a row - and those rare instances were usually an emergency situation, like trying to get the last piece of cake or something.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-JVgSPOC-G0w/Vgn7xw8Y8rI/AAAAAAAAKNU/zE0HQ64Zhqs/s640/blogger-image--691833151.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="http://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-JVgSPOC-G0w/Vgn7xw8Y8rI/AAAAAAAAKNU/zE0HQ64Zhqs/s640/blogger-image--691833151.jpg" /></a></div><br />Recently I gained a whole bunch of weight. Right around when my dad was super sick and right after he passed I gained about 30+ lbs. Now I've always been chubby to fat, but healthy and reasonably active. Well, between grief, and weight gain, and being more sedentary than usual I was feeling really yucky. I knew I needed to make some changes, but that was so much easier said than done.<br /><br />Around April I cut out sugar (except for some occasional indulgences) and drastically cut back on processed carbohydrates. I made a list of goals that help me feel more alive and fulfilled - like getting outside every day, cooking food for my family, or adult time with friends.<br /><br />As I started to feel more like myself I searched for other changes or challenges and I started doing the Couch 2 5K program. This is an interval program that teaches anyone without running experience how to run-ish. I used a phone app that follows the program and prompts you to run for a minute then walk for several minutes and gradually ups your running time. Let me tell you, those first minutes were the longest minutes of my freaking life. I was sure I wasn't cut out for this. But I kept at it and slowly but surely I've worked up to running for 25 minutes straight. Granted I'm VERY slow, but i'm doing it. As my mother so poetically put it: I'm slower than a turtle stampeding through peanut butter, but I run. Or jog. Or walk/jog/wog.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-qiC0VIN8tqc/Vgn7z9LyWrI/AAAAAAAAKNc/15k7yvGi97s/s640/blogger-image--917203033.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="http://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-qiC0VIN8tqc/Vgn7z9LyWrI/AAAAAAAAKNc/15k7yvGi97s/s640/blogger-image--917203033.jpg" /></a></div><br />Well, as part of the program and to keep me goal oriented, I signed up for a 5k in November: <a href="http://purplestride.kintera.org/philadelphia/SandraTelep">The PanCan Purple Stride</a>. As you probably know, my dad passed away from pancreatic cancer in February. I thought this was a fitting way to honor him as I work my way out of the hole left by his departure - both physically and emotionally. My goal is to run/jog/wog the whole thing, which I'm still training towards. But I'm proud of myself for getting as far as I have. I'll consider it a success even if it takes me an hour.&nbsp;<a href="http://purplestride.kintera.org/philadelphia/SandraTelep">I'd love your support </a>(monetary or in spirit).<br /><br />I'm doing this for my dad. For my kids. And of course, for myself. I'm grateful for the support network that has gotten me through and all the wonderful things I have to live for. I know my dad was so grateful for all the blessing in our lives, and that's what I want to carry with me now that his physical presence is gone. Send me good energy on November 7th!Sandra Telephttps://plus.google.com/115379448859608362870noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3023121558075366461.post-59001339798169890522015-09-18T12:23:00.000-04:002015-09-18T12:23:16.269-04:00First Day of Kindergarten<div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><br /></div>Leo survived his first day! The day began with jb, myself, zoe, pops, Uncle Julian and Uncle Daniel (who got on a bus at 6 am so he could be there to cook Leo breakfast on his first day) helping Leo get ready. He was nervous, but still smiling. Uncle Daniel made eggs, bacon and pancakes and everyone assured him he was going to have a great day and that the outfit he chose was looking sharp.<br /><div><br /></div><div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-Ub1vuFPb6k8/VfwpFXUuHDI/AAAAAAAAKLw/LMhzOn9zGXQ/s640/blogger-image-1221985575.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="http://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-Ub1vuFPb6k8/VfwpFXUuHDI/AAAAAAAAKLw/LMhzOn9zGXQ/s640/blogger-image-1221985575.jpg" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-8QWkQdF4M6U/VfwpBY801ZI/AAAAAAAAKLg/z5dFHgbOJLw/s640/blogger-image-1288369254.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="http://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-8QWkQdF4M6U/VfwpBY801ZI/AAAAAAAAKLg/z5dFHgbOJLw/s640/blogger-image-1288369254.jpg" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-PDxD6FodlcE/Vfwo73YKTlI/AAAAAAAAKLI/fTTFGb_Yjek/s640/blogger-image--44612696.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="http://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-PDxD6FodlcE/Vfwo73YKTlI/AAAAAAAAKLI/fTTFGb_Yjek/s640/blogger-image--44612696.jpg" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">He was excited to have a way to display his button collection.</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-mHkKruXFrYw/Vfwo6CD0QUI/AAAAAAAAKLA/XMoBiv-NAr4/s640/blogger-image--485173967.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="http://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-mHkKruXFrYw/Vfwo6CD0QUI/AAAAAAAAKLA/XMoBiv-NAr4/s640/blogger-image--485173967.jpg" /></a></div><br />Not only was it Leo's first day of kindergarten, but it was also Zoe's first day at preschool without her brother.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-SBR-kpXrei8/VfwpDc0VMhI/AAAAAAAAKLo/LLT-Oh7jq3o/s640/blogger-image-901265148.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="http://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-SBR-kpXrei8/VfwpDc0VMhI/AAAAAAAAKLo/LLT-Oh7jq3o/s640/blogger-image-901265148.jpg" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;">When Leo picked out his backpack, I couldn't figure out why he had chosen blue when he usually prefers colors in the pink/purple range...then I saw jb's backpack next to Leo's and I figured out his motivation. Just like dad.</div><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-yKRaEbK90LU/Vfwo95icFfI/AAAAAAAAKLQ/hkNa83MkB20/s640/blogger-image--724220504.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="http://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-yKRaEbK90LU/Vfwo95icFfI/AAAAAAAAKLQ/hkNa83MkB20/s640/blogger-image--724220504.jpg" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;">Once we got to the school yard Leo's nerves spiked. We found his classroom's spot and let him line up with his classmates. We stepped back with the other parents and that's when the lip quivering began. (These details and pictures shared with Leo's permission) When he broke into tears jb rushed over to give him a hug and a little pep talk. It was heartbreaking to watch and it took all of my self control to not scoop him up and run out of the school yard with a "Maybe next year!" yelled over my shoulder.</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-QrVdUclLm8Y/VfwuYkJmj8I/AAAAAAAAKMg/8I5Tw0d8hVk/s640/blogger-image-97470193.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="http://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-QrVdUclLm8Y/VfwuYkJmj8I/AAAAAAAAKMg/8I5Tw0d8hVk/s640/blogger-image-97470193.jpg" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;">Quickly, his teacher noticed he was crying and rushed over. She held his hand while also still instructing the rest of the class on the morning procedures. She did a great job of comforting him without coddling and STILL performing her teacher role for the rest of the students. It was clear he was in capable hands.</div><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-BsTfVuJ_XTU/VfwuW1E-ZzI/AAAAAAAAKMY/0o7Qywkzva4/s640/blogger-image-923310778.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-BsTfVuJ_XTU/VfwuW1E-ZzI/AAAAAAAAKMY/0o7Qywkzva4/s640/blogger-image-923310778.jpg" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;">With tears streaming down both mine and Zoe's faces we watched as he entered the school with his class...thankfully Leo had stopped crying by the time they reached the door. Zoe said she was too worried about Leo to go to preschool, but managed push through. jb, though the only one who didn't shed a tear that morning, was the one most preoccupied with worry about Leo throughout the day.</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;">Zoe and I had a one-on-one library and coffee date while we counted down the minutes until we could pick up her brother.&nbsp;</div><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-02YgE4T-UzI/Vfwo_gcdgEI/AAAAAAAAKLY/Kn8Lwts8XRQ/s640/blogger-image-1012093770.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="http://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-02YgE4T-UzI/Vfwo_gcdgEI/AAAAAAAAKLY/Kn8Lwts8XRQ/s640/blogger-image-1012093770.jpg" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">When we all met back up to pick up Leo he was all smiles and gave Kindergarten two thumbs up. He said it was "awesome" and "just like preschool except your mom doesn't come." The details of the days are emerging slowly but surely...and I'm trying to limit the thousands of questions I have for him. It is so wild that I know so little about his day! Deep breath.&nbsp;</div><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-6LaYJHbw5MI/Vfwo4D6p_iI/AAAAAAAAKK4/fygVAcC5ow4/s640/blogger-image-1923138480.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="http://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-6LaYJHbw5MI/Vfwo4D6p_iI/AAAAAAAAKK4/fygVAcC5ow4/s640/blogger-image-1923138480.jpg" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">He can't wait to go back on Monday, and I'm so proud of my big kid. I really think it's going to be a great year.</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-TCN0wYIPT2g/VfwpHaV92yI/AAAAAAAAKL4/KnX-uUrQ5Rk/s640/blogger-image-1749752749.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="http://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-TCN0wYIPT2g/VfwpHaV92yI/AAAAAAAAKL4/KnX-uUrQ5Rk/s640/blogger-image-1749752749.jpg" /></a></div><br /><br /><br /></div>Sandra Telephttps://plus.google.com/115379448859608362870noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3023121558075366461.post-15495825772200195402015-09-14T10:36:00.002-04:002015-09-14T10:36:56.118-04:00Kindergarten CountdownThere is so much I want to write - I can't believe I haven't even done a recap of this year's Mexico trip - but the truth is my head is dominated by the fact that Leo starts kindergarten in TWO days. So many feelings...for everyone in the family.<br /><div><br /></div><div><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-3h-NDYjbsu8/VfbZu4UUcBI/AAAAAAAAKKE/9SnJAgFCUNk/s640/blogger-image-272114376.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" src="http://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-3h-NDYjbsu8/VfbZu4UUcBI/AAAAAAAAKKE/9SnJAgFCUNk/s640/blogger-image-272114376.jpg" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">Leo getting comfortable in his classroom</td></tr></tbody></table><br />Leo is feeling both excited and nervous, though since meeting his teacher last week, excited has trumped nervous most days. We got a bunch of kindergarten/school books out of the library (oh, and Leo got his own library card!) to prepare. I actually teared up while reading these books to him...I am not sure I will be able to hold it together on the first day.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-pLkHvnydqmU/VfbZyrSIkMI/AAAAAAAAKKU/Br8YdHEaPfc/s640/blogger-image--383809054.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-pLkHvnydqmU/VfbZyrSIkMI/AAAAAAAAKKU/Br8YdHEaPfc/s640/blogger-image--383809054.jpg" /></a></div><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-rjzbiWILk9E/VfbZrHior7I/AAAAAAAAKJ0/c77vMVFwqRw/s640/blogger-image--1663068680.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-rjzbiWILk9E/VfbZrHior7I/AAAAAAAAKJ0/c77vMVFwqRw/s640/blogger-image--1663068680.jpg" /></a></div><br />He's got a backpack, folders, new shoes, a lunch box and a burning desire to learn as much as he can. I'd say he's ready. He knows a few kids in his class already from around the neighborhood and is looking forward to playing and learning with them. He even started a journal - which he enjoys, but also finds exhausting. I can totally relate.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-4Sifqp7TSvE/VfbZxEWF7sI/AAAAAAAAKKM/C9KbmRoq5_Q/s640/blogger-image--2044923418.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="http://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-4Sifqp7TSvE/VfbZxEWF7sI/AAAAAAAAKKM/C9KbmRoq5_Q/s640/blogger-image--2044923418.jpg" /></a></div><br />I'm less ready...but ready or not, Kindergarten starts on Thursday. We are really optimistic about this milestone. I think he will do great. Though I am anticipating a transition period...for all of us. Zoe hasn't been apart from her brother for more than a couple hours sporadically. Though I think it will be good for them to have some time to grow on their own, they have been two peas in a pod for three plus years and will miss each other greatly. Let's not even get started on how much I will miss him.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-YeSD2Dw7xps/VfbZtLKkzTI/AAAAAAAAKJ8/ZJFHsFQOpOg/s640/blogger-image-376791650.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-YeSD2Dw7xps/VfbZtLKkzTI/AAAAAAAAKJ8/ZJFHsFQOpOg/s640/blogger-image-376791650.jpg" /></a></div><br />Sigh. It will be wonderful...I know it will...but like so many wonderful things, it will also be hard. Wish us all luck this week.</div>Sandra Telephttps://plus.google.com/115379448859608362870noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3023121558075366461.post-72048466557338619542015-07-10T01:02:00.001-04:002015-07-10T01:02:35.030-04:00No Sleep Till Puebla<div><br></div>Even when everything goes (mostly) right, travel days are rough. This morning we woke up at 3:45, drove to the airport, kissed jb goodbye, and two planes, a bus, a car and much waiting in line later we have arrived at my cousins house in Puebla. It's nearly midnight our time and the kids are finally in an actual bed.<div><br></div><div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-_7X_AgbdibM/VZ9R6CwUJoI/AAAAAAAAKG0/7HOVFYxvhog/s640/blogger-image-911434839.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-_7X_AgbdibM/VZ9R6CwUJoI/AAAAAAAAKG0/7HOVFYxvhog/s640/blogger-image-911434839.jpg"></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-QWhWZZ91CYw/VZ9R3Vsd4OI/AAAAAAAAKGs/yWiWX88Bajw/s640/blogger-image-2041784407.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-QWhWZZ91CYw/VZ9R3Vsd4OI/AAAAAAAAKGs/yWiWX88Bajw/s640/blogger-image-2041784407.jpg"></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><br></div>The kids were total troopers throughout our very long day - but there were still a few meltdowns (my own included) and poorly timed naps (like when Leo was awake when the plane landed and suddenly not when we had to deplane).</div><div><br></div><div>I've lived through a handful of travel horror stories, but today was actually pretty smooth. We made both of the stand-by flights we were hoping for. We got to sit together. We were prepared with snacks and activities and even a few TV shows. So why are we still all so wrecked?&nbsp;</div><div><br></div><div>Travel is kind of like giving birth. It's not the most relaxing way to spend a day, but somehow it always ends up worth it.&nbsp;</div><div><br></div><div>Tomorrow we start making it worth it.&nbsp;</div>Sandra Telephttps://plus.google.com/115379448859608362870noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3023121558075366461.post-51800807107304149092015-07-08T12:02:00.004-04:002015-07-08T12:04:48.425-04:00Pittsburgh Spotlight: Toys 2 Try<div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-ZYvk6R2XxiY/VZl2Md2zsqI/AAAAAAAAKFw/h1CU6oogdLY/s640/blogger-image--519157352.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><br /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;">Each year since Leo was born, we've had a birthday party in Pittsburgh. When Zoe came along we made it a joint birthday party. Well, this year Leo really wanted to celebrate in Philly AND in Pittsburgh, so we had a Philly party on Leo's birthday and for Zoe's birthday (well, once we got home from camping) we headed to Pittsburgh to celebrate with friends and family there.&nbsp;</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;">Our birthday parties up until now have been pretty formulaic - rent pavilion at park, invite friends, bring assorted snacks and drinks, let kids play at playground, and eat cake. It's fairly easy, low key, and fun for both kids and adults. Unfortunately this year, with my father's passing, I was not in the headspace to reserve a pavilion in advance. When I finally realized I hadn't done that this year, they were all booked up. Ok...no biggie...we will just have it at my mom's house. She has a big yard and we can replicate our formula there. So that was the new plan. Until we saw the forecast - thunderstorms were predicted all day.&nbsp;</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;">At this point the party was in just a couple of days...we were faced with a lot more cleaning/childproofing than anticipated to move the party inside - but even if we did get the house ready - what the heck were we going to do with a dozen kids between the ages of 1 and 9 in my mother's living room?!?! &nbsp;I was starting to panic - this is where&nbsp;<a href="http://www.toys2try.com/">Toys 2 Try</a>&nbsp;entered.&nbsp;</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;">I had visited Toys 2 Try at their former location a couple of years ago and had a good time. It's a great play space combined with a toy store (and some of the toys for sale are incorporated in the play space - hence the name). I checked out their website and they had a reasonably priced party package that included pizza and juice for the kids - &nbsp;I thought I'd give them a call on the off chance they had availability.&nbsp;</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;">Luckily they did! I booked it and sent a note to our guests about the change of plans. I was still a bit nervous since I hadn't seen their new space and had never done a "package birthday party" before. The play space is owned and managed by a sweet family and they were super helpful both leading up to and the day of the party. I asked if we could bring additional food/snack and at extra pizzas to the order to feed the adults and they were very accommodating. When we showed up the day of the party everything went off without a hitch!</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-ZYvk6R2XxiY/VZl2Md2zsqI/AAAAAAAAKFw/h1CU6oogdLY/s640/blogger-image--519157352.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="http://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-ZYvk6R2XxiY/VZl2Md2zsqI/AAAAAAAAKFw/h1CU6oogdLY/s640/blogger-image--519157352.jpg" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;">The space was large and well designed. There were active spaces and more mellow spaces. Not pictured are the upstairs areas which included a sandbox, kitchen/shopping area and arts and crafts table. Downstairs were two separate rooms for climbing and tumbling.</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-dRk1InodxGQ/VZl2GbQufsI/AAAAAAAAKFo/krHYFkb46nE/s640/blogger-image-2053094717.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="http://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-dRk1InodxGQ/VZl2GbQufsI/AAAAAAAAKFo/krHYFkb46nE/s640/blogger-image-2053094717.jpg" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-YNMFblBUBSQ/VZl2QR8X6fI/AAAAAAAAKF4/KT8dH5Wmb3Q/s640/blogger-image--650193682.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="http://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-YNMFblBUBSQ/VZl2QR8X6fI/AAAAAAAAKF4/KT8dH5Wmb3Q/s640/blogger-image--650193682.jpg" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;">The outdoor space was large and generally awesome. There are also picnic tables out there which gave the adults some space to spread out and chat (there are still more adults than kids at our parties). Inside there is a long table that they set up for the kids to eat pizza/cake/etc.</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-v8TLU0E6BVI/VZl2SRQjC3I/AAAAAAAAKGA/_QBkr9FJ6tI/s640/blogger-image--1951028382.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="http://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-v8TLU0E6BVI/VZl2SRQjC3I/AAAAAAAAKGA/_QBkr9FJ6tI/s640/blogger-image--1951028382.jpg" /></a></div><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-8USbvzukXXE/VZl2Uv0V_uI/AAAAAAAAKGI/OAmSFjzH2ZA/s640/blogger-image-1206325381.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="http://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-8USbvzukXXE/VZl2Uv0V_uI/AAAAAAAAKGI/OAmSFjzH2ZA/s640/blogger-image-1206325381.jpg" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;">The couple who own the space and their daughter were all on hand and took care of everything from decorating, to handing out pizza slices to clean up. I do still really like DIY parties, but it was really nice to just enjoy the party for once. They even planned an activity (making marshmallow snowmen) but the kids were having so much fun playing that we skipped it. Everyone in attendance seemed to have a good time and I was shocked at how easy and affordable it was to throw together a party at the last minute.</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;">And of course, as always, jb and I teamed up on the cake. &nbsp;jb baked the cake itself and whipped up the icing, and I decorated it (Thank you, Pintrest) - which was difficult in the heat and humidity. Each bit of icing I added seems to melt off immediately...but it turned out ok considering. At least the 3 year old of honor was impressed, and that's all that mattered, really.&nbsp;</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-WERXpEYcrP4/VZl2D4iZv3I/AAAAAAAAKFg/h_jjTCqkvzk/s640/blogger-image-208877009.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="http://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-WERXpEYcrP4/VZl2D4iZv3I/AAAAAAAAKFg/h_jjTCqkvzk/s640/blogger-image-208877009.jpg" /></a></div><br />Toys 2 Try was the perfect host for our party - and I realize we don't even live in Pittsburgh, and only a few of our readers do, but if you have the opportunity to check them out - either for a party or just for a playdate (you can pack a lunch and meet friends there), you totally should. (No we didn't get a discount or anything for this post - we really just had a fantastic experience.) And happy birthday Zoe!Sandra Telephttps://plus.google.com/115379448859608362870noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3023121558075366461.post-48247908614887656222015-07-04T14:28:00.002-04:002015-07-04T14:28:24.657-04:00Zoe Is ThreeZoe is three years old. Her birthday and Father's day were back to back, so with so much celebrating to do, we decided to go camping. Also, seeing as it was the first father's day since my dad passed, we invited my youngest sister and brother to join us - and it was nice to be together, though we missed Aunt Fanny who is all the way on the west coast these days.<br /><br />We spent two nights at a campground in NJ and spend one day at the lake beach on site and drove out to the ocean one day. I think Zoe (and all of us really) had a great time. We certainly didn't let the fact that we were camping interfere with our traditional birthday pancake breakfast.<br /><div><br /></div><div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-Twyhs1-N1Gk/VZVfasj-ASI/AAAAAAAAKEs/d94MtMDCz7c/s640/blogger-image-975056009.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="http://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-Twyhs1-N1Gk/VZVfasj-ASI/AAAAAAAAKEs/d94MtMDCz7c/s640/blogger-image-975056009.jpg" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;">Zoe is so big, and SO independent. I often find myself helping Leo (at five!) get his shoes on and his arms into his jacket while Zoe gets herself ready - assuming she's in the mood to cooperate, of course. She is definitely in that 2.5-3.5 tough age where everything is a power struggle. But when she is at her best she is amazing. She is eager to help and wants to be JUST like her big brother.</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-pGHMqiYnOj4/VZVfURPY-KI/AAAAAAAAKEU/opqqR6wL9gc/s640/blogger-image--275750727.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="http://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-pGHMqiYnOj4/VZVfURPY-KI/AAAAAAAAKEU/opqqR6wL9gc/s640/blogger-image--275750727.jpg" /></a></div><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both;">She is talking a lot (A LOT) but still has a few baby words that I just can't get enough of. For example, instead of "regular" she says "regulee" and she has trouble with the "sp" sound - using "f" instead. So she likes "Feaking Fanish" and getting "Farkley clean."</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-AQzym52N8_Y/VZVfWoBXEFI/AAAAAAAAKEc/t6WHMpEnIDw/s640/blogger-image-220133470.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="http://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-AQzym52N8_Y/VZVfWoBXEFI/AAAAAAAAKEc/t6WHMpEnIDw/s640/blogger-image-220133470.jpg" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">Camping was a blast, we skipped stones, roasted hot dogs and ate s'mores. The new additions to our gear this year: the camping stove and hammock were thoroughly enjoyed. Zoe spent her free time around the campsite either relaxing in the hammock or collecting frogs in a bucket. (Leo was too squeamish to touch the frogs.)</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-WOwLZjXhbfY/VZVfKD9vRyI/AAAAAAAAKDs/efI6nh7FQkc/s640/blogger-image-75698870.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="http://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-WOwLZjXhbfY/VZVfKD9vRyI/AAAAAAAAKDs/efI6nh7FQkc/s640/blogger-image-75698870.jpg" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-1_8xUNO3Dgk/VZVfSdE4hgI/AAAAAAAAKEM/DWG4xiXGAh8/s640/blogger-image--957980645.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="http://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-1_8xUNO3Dgk/VZVfSdE4hgI/AAAAAAAAKEM/DWG4xiXGAh8/s640/blogger-image--957980645.jpg" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-V8kCEFUjYJ8/VZVfMHMekfI/AAAAAAAAKD0/G6zX__H97VA/s640/blogger-image-1161403367.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="http://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-V8kCEFUjYJ8/VZVfMHMekfI/AAAAAAAAKD0/G6zX__H97VA/s640/blogger-image-1161403367.jpg" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/--WkDBT776WQ/VZVfOo1fyCI/AAAAAAAAKD8/KpXH44KUQQU/s640/blogger-image-1645734646.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="http://lh3.googleusercontent.com/--WkDBT776WQ/VZVfOo1fyCI/AAAAAAAAKD8/KpXH44KUQQU/s640/blogger-image-1645734646.jpg" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-K-lfWfX3jfI/VZVfQaosnYI/AAAAAAAAKEE/SDnPo2jOV8Y/s640/blogger-image--1526345529.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="http://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-K-lfWfX3jfI/VZVfQaosnYI/AAAAAAAAKEE/SDnPo2jOV8Y/s640/blogger-image--1526345529.jpg" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-bG0AtcgNn-4/VZVfcgWwE6I/AAAAAAAAKE0/5-2wcMQ4znk/s640/blogger-image--714689489.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="http://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-bG0AtcgNn-4/VZVfcgWwE6I/AAAAAAAAKE0/5-2wcMQ4znk/s640/blogger-image--714689489.jpg" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">I'm glad we did both the lake and the ocean because the lake was just the right size and intensity to give the kids a bit of freedom and get them used to the water before hitting the "real" beach. And this year they both spend the majority of their time IN the water (rather than treating it like a giant sandbox) and had fun dodging waves.</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-ya1h0kKD7_g/VZVfej6LKhI/AAAAAAAAKE8/l7hnEatpu2I/s640/blogger-image--1719532471.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-ya1h0kKD7_g/VZVfej6LKhI/AAAAAAAAKE8/l7hnEatpu2I/s640/blogger-image--1719532471.jpg" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-nxORdfJHz1o/VZVfYh1QqJI/AAAAAAAAKEg/dei8wZC6Z0s/s640/blogger-image-675814944.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="http://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-nxORdfJHz1o/VZVfYh1QqJI/AAAAAAAAKEg/dei8wZC6Z0s/s640/blogger-image-675814944.jpg" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;">I will leave you with the birthday interview. Sadly it's really hard to hear her, but I tried to repeat her answers. Still adorable.&nbsp;</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/HT-BV_2XvRo?rel=0" width="560"></iframe></div><br /><br /></div>Sandra Telephttps://plus.google.com/115379448859608362870noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3023121558075366461.post-25411302796801337442015-05-18T22:36:00.000-04:002015-05-18T22:36:03.657-04:00Leo is FiveLeo turned 5 on Saturday and we had a little get together at our home. Leo was pretty insistent that he wanted a birthday party in PHILLY and ON his actual birthday. So we made it happen with a trip to the store, the borrowing of a tent and tables, jb's baking talent and some low-maintence guests. Leo was thrilled - there was running outdoors, bubble blowing, sword fighting, friends and cake.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-36uVYrIFgOw/VVqgFGSx_-I/AAAAAAAAKBU/-YpI2N6XWVg/s1600/party.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="240" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-36uVYrIFgOw/VVqgFGSx_-I/AAAAAAAAKBU/-YpI2N6XWVg/s320/party.jpg" width="320" /></a></div><br />The cake, as per usual, was baked by jb (and delicious), and I decorated it. Leo loves (loves loves loves) Wild Kratts, so we made him a Tortuga cake from that show. If you haven't seen the show, it's basically a turtle shaped vehicle they travel in. (The show is pretty great, lots of animal trivia - I feel good about him watching it.)<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Q1OC0eSs91Y/VVqgGJrqeHI/AAAAAAAAKBc/d83UH9oX3O8/s1600/tortuga.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="320" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Q1OC0eSs91Y/VVqgGJrqeHI/AAAAAAAAKBc/d83UH9oX3O8/s320/tortuga.jpg" width="320" /></a></div><span id="goog_253339778"></span><span id="goog_253339779"></span><br />I think Leo had a pretty great day - he definitely thought the best part was having his family and friends over to celebrate with him. It's a pretty great thing when family and friends win out over cake or presents. He's officially a big kid. Five. A whole hand of fingers. It's especially obvious in his latest birthday interview...<br /><br /><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/gn_zxOq6ob8?rel=0" width="560"></iframe><br /><br />Happy Birthday, Leo.Sandra Telephttps://plus.google.com/115379448859608362870noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3023121558075366461.post-76670153827904311542015-04-21T19:13:00.000-04:002015-04-21T19:13:15.922-04:00Back To Nuclear<a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-Dtgx8pcvA0c/VTKObetfTeI/AAAAAAAAKAE/1U6eqE3YdKA/s640/blogger-image--384769275.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-Dtgx8pcvA0c/VTKObetfTeI/AAAAAAAAKAE/1U6eqE3YdKA/s640/blogger-image--384769275.jpg" /></a>After living with us for nearly the entirety of Leo's 5 year life (and some months before), Uncle Daniel has moved out. We saw the writing on the wall when he first met his now girlfriend - he began spending more and more time with her and less time at home. Of course we were/are happy to see him happy, but we miss him a ton.<br /><br />So, it's just jb, the kids and me under our roof these days. &nbsp;There are some nice things about just being a nuclear family (for example, I've all but given up wearing pants around the house), but mostly we've noticed the downside of losing Daniel as a housemate. There are the more tangible perks to having another adult around, like one more person washing the never-ending dishes or someone to occasionally keep an eye on the kids for 20 minutes if I need to run and errand that would be a thousand times quicker without my two-sidekicks. But really, the biggest loss is his company. We miss seeing him in the mornings when he'd come up for coffee and at dinner time (we tried to eat dinner as a family when our schedules allowed). One more perspective in our conversations at the dinner table and one more life experience to share with the kids is never a bad thing.<br /><br />The kids loved having him around and he struck that perfect harmony of intimate familiarity and novelty for them. When he would invite Leo downstairs to his room to "listen to music," Leo felt like the coolest kid in the world. When he'd take the kids out to lunch, not only was it a welcome break for me (watching TV in the middle of day - woot!), but it was so special to the kiddos to have time out in the world with their Uncle.<br /><br />And then there was the cooking. Daniel is a great cook…and he's great to cook for. Pretty much every recipe he tackled turned out great, and no matter how awful something I made turned out he was still full of compliments. With three adults in the house who enjoy cooking, not only was the workload spread out a bit, but the variety of foods served in our house was more diverse than ever before. The kitchen is and was truly the heart of our home - with someone always cooking/baking/washing/eating. So the heart of our home is still pumping along, but it's missing a valve...or it's been transplanted...I think this metaphor got away from me. Sorry. Thankfully, he's just over the Schuykill in South Philly and we still get to see each other regularly. Thanks Daniel for your years of friendship, support, help big and small, and being the best family addition we could ask for. We wish you luck in this next chapter. Don't forget about us.Sandra Telephttps://plus.google.com/115379448859608362870noreply@blogger.com1tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3023121558075366461.post-26532188245854057542015-04-14T21:02:00.000-04:002015-04-14T21:19:28.653-04:00A Tale of Three ProposalsSo, I'm an engaged woman. (Well, actually, I'm a married woman. We got married over brunch on Monday, but more on that later.) A mere fourteen years after jb offered me a piece of dried pineapple and struck up a conversation about Ani Difranco, here I am, with a ring on my finger and daydreams of proclaiming my (perhaps obvious) love and commitment to my partner, best friend, and parent of my children.<br /><br />Really, jb has (sorta) proposed thrice. The first time, was many years ago, early in our realization that we wanted to be each others' forever. For a few different reasons (some my fault, some not) that first proposal ended badly. Both jb and I were left feeling slighted and we've both had to sift through some complicated feelings about proposals, engagements, and weddings. Thankfully our feelings about each other weren't complicated and we just kind of swept that whole ordeal under the rug and got on with the business of being married (without actually getting married) and building our family.<br /><br />Last May, when same-sex marriage became legal in PA some of those complicated feelings resurfaced. At least for me. I was wondering - Should we get married so we have that legal safety net? (How very romantic!) Should we take this as an opportunity as a do-over? Try to fix what was broken all those years ago? Should I be the one to propose this time? Should I hint that I would like a second chance to say yes? There were many, sometimes conflicting, thoughts swirling through my head - and many feelings of sadness, fear, resentment and hope. I was surprised at how strongly these feelings came back. Could we salvage this skipped chapter in our love story? Or maybe it would be easier to sweep it back under the rug and keep living this - pretty great - life we have worked out without a wedding.<br /><br />Months passed. Life continued. I was beginning to think sweeping it all back under the rug was the best option for us - why fix what isn't broken? I clearly still have feelings about missing out on that rite of passage - but is it worth dredging up all that hurt? Nope. Definitely not. Unsavory feelings get stuffed down deep and maybe covered with cheesecake for safe measure. It's the way of my people. So, I tried to put it out of my mind.<br /><br />This brings us to the second proposal. (Full Disclosure: jb does NOT count this as anything close to a proposal, but this isn't her blog) One day, fairly recently, we got a letter. jb opened this letter, read it, made a disgusted face and "Ugh!" sound, and then tossed said letter into my lap. As I scanned the letter I realized that it was from jb's employer stating that now that same-sex marriage was legal in the state of PA they were dissolving domestic partnership benefits. If our family wanted to continue to have health insurance we needed to get married by X date. "Are you asking me to marry you?" I asked, and poor flustered jb blushed and stammered that she just wanted to share the frustration of being commanded to get married in a matter of months.<br /><br />It was ridiculous. Even if we weren't bringing this proposal baggage into the situation with us, who throws together a wedding in a few months at the request of their employer? So obviously my plan to forget the whole marriage thing wasn't an option - we at least needed to get legally married to protect our family. So now we were facing uncomfortable feelings/conversations/situations with a ticking clock hanging over our heads.<br /><br />After a couple heart to heart chats with with two good friends, I decided what I needed to do, was to let jb know that not only had I been thinking about all this before the letter, but that many of those dormant complicated feelings had resurfaced. It was only fair. Also to let her know that I wasn't sure what we should do. It seems strange to get engaged after so many years...and redundant to get married. Yet, that's what I wanted. I didn't want anything over the top, or extravagant...but I wanted her to ask me, and I wanted to stand before our friends and family to declare our love and commitment. I acknowledged that she was in an impossible place. I know she was probably dealing with her own feelings about putting her heart on the line again (even though there's a pretty good chance I was gonna say yes...), and let's face it, jb gets nervous about ordering a sandwich...this must have been beyond daunting. Still, I wanted a chance to get it right this time. (Says the girl that just has to sit back and be asked.)<br /><br />So, I had lobbed the (very unfair) ball into jb's court - and jb delivered. The third, and final proposal happened on Easter Sunday. After we presented the kids with their basket, jb said she had a basket for me. It consisted of potted fire tulips (ones that are orange/red/yellow -my favorite since forever), my favorite chocolate, dried pineapple (throwback to when we first met), and a tiny box with a beautiful ring the color of jb's eyes. jb got on one knee and was sweet and adorably flustered as she asked me to marry her, and I said "or course." Perfectly sweet and simple.<br /><br />This one stuck. It's a good thing, too, because we had to get down to business. You can't fool around with losing your health insurance when you have two kids - so as soon as we got back to Philly we went down to City Hall to apply for a self-uniting marriage license. Then, on Monday we went to brunch with our two chosen witnesses (my mother, and jb's brother daniel), filled out the paperwork, kissed and shared a meal.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-ai09VVugu_s/VS23CB3SDnI/AAAAAAAAJ_g/jqlTCi3xQCw/s640/blogger-image-2057142582.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-ai09VVugu_s/VS23CB3SDnI/AAAAAAAAJ_g/jqlTCi3xQCw/s640/blogger-image-2057142582.jpg" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-UPbWirX2Aco/VS23EQyTN2I/AAAAAAAAJ_o/xHuc7dJ-498/s640/blogger-image--948639792.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-UPbWirX2Aco/VS23EQyTN2I/AAAAAAAAJ_o/xHuc7dJ-498/s640/blogger-image--948639792.jpg" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-LEHm6_PDj6A/VS22_tS0FxI/AAAAAAAAJ_Y/Ei8udfmbkE4/s640/blogger-image--794463667.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-LEHm6_PDj6A/VS22_tS0FxI/AAAAAAAAJ_Y/Ei8udfmbkE4/s640/blogger-image--794463667.jpg" /></a></div><br />So we are legally married. We've been married in our hearts for a long time. And... I think we will also have a low key ceremony to get married in the wedding sense. With so many proposals, it only makes sense to match with so many stages of getting married.<br /><br />I'm happy to finally be married to my true love. I'm grateful jb wants me as a wife. I'm grateful she was willing to risk asking me again. And I'm so glad I get to choose her now and always.<br /><br /><br />Sandra Telephttps://plus.google.com/115379448859608362870noreply@blogger.com7tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3023121558075366461.post-42668866452065594532015-04-06T22:09:00.002-04:002015-04-06T22:10:27.762-04:00New Beginnings<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-pd65xGSY0fY/VSMzvI2qYDI/AAAAAAAAJ-4/tL6DELPaVLg/s640/blogger-image--1760911355.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em; text-align: center;"><img border="0" src="https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-pd65xGSY0fY/VSMzvI2qYDI/AAAAAAAAJ-4/tL6DELPaVLg/s640/blogger-image--1760911355.jpg" /></a></div><br />I love springtime. &nbsp;The sun shines and flowers bloom and the world is bursting with promise and possibilities. It's especially nice after a long, cold, hard, sad winter. We went to Pittsburgh for Easter and it was the first time I've been home since my father passed. It was strange to arrive at my childhood home without him to receive us and I had several waves of grief, &nbsp;but things began to feel more normal after a few days. That is of course until it was time for us to leave, because my dad always liked to try to talk us into staying a few more hours/days/weeks as we were packing up.<br /><br />Still, despite his absence, we had a wonderful visit and a delightful Easter. &nbsp;We dyed eggs, made bunny crafts, and donned our spring colors. We ate quiche, potato salad, kielbasa, and chocolate. We hunted for plastic eggs, and we spent time with friends and family.<br /><div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-YnYDMdtFHps/VSMzrWK6LWI/AAAAAAAAJ-o/uSAdbGlFPP4/s640/blogger-image-718705475.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-YnYDMdtFHps/VSMzrWK6LWI/AAAAAAAAJ-o/uSAdbGlFPP4/s640/blogger-image-718705475.jpg" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-W33KRMYsmaY/VSMztaTSVhI/AAAAAAAAJ-w/sHtrPJe-cmQ/s640/blogger-image-1321855842.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="300" src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-W33KRMYsmaY/VSMztaTSVhI/AAAAAAAAJ-w/sHtrPJe-cmQ/s400/blogger-image-1321855842.jpg" width="400" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-IQQ5l8ZFUY4/VSMzpCft2mI/AAAAAAAAJ-g/qJfGlXPtW1c/s640/blogger-image--1300542050.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="text-align: center;"><img border="0" src="https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-IQQ5l8ZFUY4/VSMzpCft2mI/AAAAAAAAJ-g/qJfGlXPtW1c/s640/blogger-image--1300542050.jpg" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;">Also? My true love, whom I have shared my life with for fourteen years, asked me to wed. It was sweet and lovely, just like my love and I naturally said yes.&nbsp;</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><a href="https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-SkhSuUEATOc/VSMznFFuBAI/AAAAAAAAJ-Y/X4nL36E2z2o/s640/blogger-image-2028919485.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-SkhSuUEATOc/VSMznFFuBAI/AAAAAAAAJ-Y/X4nL36E2z2o/s640/blogger-image-2028919485.jpg" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;">Life goes on, and it is still beautiful, even after loss. I wish my dad could be here...I wish he could walk me down the aisle. I know he'd be happy. I am happy. And I'm looking toward the future with an open heart.</div><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /></div>Sandra Telephttps://plus.google.com/115379448859608362870noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3023121558075366461.post-56178462281856686442015-03-29T12:43:00.000-04:002015-03-29T12:43:20.857-04:00Year in Review: 2014Each year in late December or early January I write a "year in review" post to recap the highs (and sometimes lows) of our lives that year. This year, not only did I miss that post...but well, I've been silent since early November. So even though we are rounding out the third month of 2015, I'd love to take this opportunity to look back over 2014 (and maybe fill in some of the updates I neglected to share).<br /><ul><li>Travel: We got a decent amount of travel in. The biggest trip(s) being <a href="http://www.westphillymama.com/2014/08/mexico-2014-home.html">Mexico</a>, of course, which was lovely in June because both my parents and all my siblings were able to come. We were also able to go <a href="http://www.westphillymama.com/2014/09/camping-at-knoebels.html">camping</a> (at Knoebels) and to <a href="http://www.westphillymama.com/2014/09/the-district.html">DC</a> (twice), Pittsburgh (a gazillion times), the <a href="http://www.westphillymama.com/2014/06/fathers-day-at-beach.html">beach</a> (twice), and to <a href="http://www.westphillymama.com/2014/03/ww-friends.html">Chicago</a> to visit some friends I met through blogging.</li></ul><ul><li><a href="http://www.westphillymama.com/2014/09/the-last-year.html">Last year </a>before Kindergarten: The kids and I have been savoring this last year of flexibility in our schedule and all day togetherness before Leo begins Kindergarten in the fall.</li></ul><ul><li>Reading: Not only has Leo begun to love (and even prefer) longer form <a href="http://www.westphillymama.com/2014/10/new-chapter-in-reading.html">chapter books </a>to picture books, he has also begun reading words and some basic phonics books. He gets frustrated and impatient when it doesn't come easily, and I remind him that he doesn't have to do it if it's not enjoyable - but he insists he loves it. And he is always beaming with pride afterwards.</li></ul><ul><li>Amusement: We hit three amusement parks last year: Diggerland, Sesame Place and <a href="http://www.westphillymama.com/2014/09/camping-at-knoebels.html">Knoebel's</a>.&nbsp;</li></ul><ul><li>Dad Stopped Chemo: My dad decided to stop treatment for his pancreatic cancer over the summer. He often said he felt he had lived a good life, but regretted not getting to retire to Mexico with mom as they had planned. &nbsp;So, &nbsp;that stemmed the Mexico trip that we all took together. It was amazing because we hadn't all been able to be in Mexico at the same time in years.</li></ul><ul><li>Steph moved to LA: My sister, Stephanie, moved to California. Her fiancee (oh right! And she got engaged!!) is doing his residency out there. We miss them, but with Skype and FaceTime we are surviving.</li></ul><ul><li>Zoe turned <a href="http://www.westphillymama.com/2014/06/zoe-is-two.html">two</a>, Leo turned <a href="http://www.westphillymama.com/2014/05/leo-turns-four.html">four</a>.</li></ul><ul><li>Swimming: Well, kinda swimming. The kids got to spend more time in pools than ever before and have gotten fairly comfortable in the water. Between Mexico and the YMCA they have really evolved in their water comfort. At first they would both cling to me for dear life and whimper; now they can float around in their life jackets and kick their way across the pool. &nbsp;I need to get them in swimming lessons now that they aren't terrified to get into the water.</li></ul><ul><li><a href="http://www.westphillymama.com/2014/05/my-toddler-has-lyme.html">Lyme</a>: Zoe was diagnosed with Lyme after a limp that wouldn't go away spurred us to take her to the ER. She was treated with a long and strong dose of antibiotics and we haven't seen any symptoms since.&nbsp;</li></ul><ul><li>First <a href="http://www.westphillymama.com/2014/03/first-movie.html">Movie</a>: We took the kids to see Frozen, their first movie in the Theater. Initially Leo was the biggest fan, but over time his love of the film has waned, while Zoe's love of it has only grown. For christmas she got Elsa and Anna dresses and wore them NONSTOP for about two months.</li></ul><ul><li>Alejandro: My dear cousin, Alejandro, passed away unexpectedly in December. It was a shock and a tragedy. Thankfully, jb encouraged me to jump on a plane to Mexico so I could be there with family. I hesitated because I'd never left the kids overnight before and Zoe was (and is) still nursing. I'm so glad I went. I ended up staying for five days, along with my mother. We buried him, spend time with family, began to go through his apartment. It was difficult, but I think I would have always regretted it if I didn't go.</li></ul><ul><li>Writing workshop: I participated in a writing workshop for women of color at the Kelly Writer's House. It was good for me for several reasons: 1. It was time to focus on myself and be among adults. 2. It was a WOC space, and I didn't realize how seldom I'm among women of color and how much I missed it. 3. It made me think about my writing in a different way and what I would like to do beyond this blog/diary. 4. I got to read some great and varied writing and meet some pretty amazing women.</li></ul><div>2014 was a good year despite some difficult things. I'm grateful for all of it, even the hard things, but I'm also glad to but much of it behind me and try to look forward.&nbsp;</div><div><br /></div><div>Past years in Review: <a href="http://www.westphillymama.com/2007/12/year-in-review.html">2007</a>, <a href="http://www.westphillymama.com/2009/01/olde-lang-syne.html">2008</a>, <a href="http://www.westphillymama.com/2009/12/feliz-ano.html">2009</a>, <a href="http://www.westphillymama.com/2011/01/best-year-ever.html">2010</a>, <a href="http://www.westphillymama.com/2012/01/2011-recap.html">2011</a>,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.westphillymama.com/2013/01/year-in-review-2012.html">2012</a>&nbsp;and <a href="http://www.westphillymama.com/2014/01/2013-year-in-review.html">2013</a>.</div><div><span style="background-color: #eadbbd; color: #333333; font-family: Arial, Tahoma, Helvetica, FreeSans, sans-serif; font-size: 13.5240001678467px; line-height: 20.2859992980957px;"><br /></span></div><br /><br /><br /><br />Sandra Telephttps://plus.google.com/115379448859608362870noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3023121558075366461.post-17516802125312549642015-03-02T00:01:00.001-05:002015-03-02T00:01:58.226-05:00It's overMy father is gone. He passed away on February 2nd surrounded by his four children and my mother, his wife of nearly forty years.&nbsp;&nbsp;I'm not really ready to write about it, but I miss this space and feel like I can't write about anything else until I acknowledge his absence and the journey our family took together to see him to the end of life in this world. It was hard, it was beautiful, it was ugly, and it was a pleasure.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-2A_SsfyZUkg/VPPsXBzwurI/AAAAAAAAJ7Q/edoFnUzPM-Y/s1600/image%2B(4).jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-2A_SsfyZUkg/VPPsXBzwurI/AAAAAAAAJ7Q/edoFnUzPM-Y/s1600/image%2B(4).jpg" height="320" width="320" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><br />Most of what I want to say I've already said in <a href="http://www.westphillymama.com/2013/06/my-father.html">this post</a>, and I'm so glad I wrote it all out when he was still around to read it. One of the hidden blessings in knowing death is approaching is having the opportunity to leave nothing unsaid. I know he read it because he was one of this blog's most loyal readers. My sister would often snap a picture of him at the computer reading about our latest adventures.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-bseLdMfFulc/VPPsLfN-F_I/AAAAAAAAJ7I/aaunjDH_IAY/s1600/IMG_2071.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-bseLdMfFulc/VPPsLfN-F_I/AAAAAAAAJ7I/aaunjDH_IAY/s1600/IMG_2071.JPG" height="320" width="240" /></a></div><br /><br />That's the main reason I started this blog - to keep loved ones up to date on what's going on in my life. &nbsp;My <a href="http://www.westphillymama.com/2007/08/jiquilpan.html">first post</a> was the day my parents and two youngest siblings moved to Mexico for two years. I wanted to span the distance between us somehow. And it did. I kept the blog up when they moved back to Pittsburgh and was especially glad to have it when we unexpectedly moved to Philadelphia when Leo was only three months old. I've been writing in this space for nearly 8 years, and through it all my father was the one person I knew checked it every day.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-VhrH9CDS0C0/VPPsltOhVBI/AAAAAAAAJ7Y/7_4HTAd4EDA/s1600/image%2B(3).jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-VhrH9CDS0C0/VPPsltOhVBI/AAAAAAAAJ7Y/7_4HTAd4EDA/s1600/image%2B(3).jpg" height="240" width="320" /></a></div><br /><br />Over the last six months the kids and I have been splitting our time between Pittsburgh and Philly to maximize our time with my father and family. It hasn't been easy, but I feel very fortunate that we were able pick up and cross the state for a couple of weeks each month. The kids were troopers through it all (and so were jb, who had to miss us, and my mom, who hosted our chaos).<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-4olOevpn_BA/VPPsu6RwxtI/AAAAAAAAJ7g/owNYTWjopcM/s1600/image%2B(2).jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-4olOevpn_BA/VPPsu6RwxtI/AAAAAAAAJ7g/owNYTWjopcM/s1600/image%2B(2).jpg" height="320" width="240" /></a></div><br /><br />In the post I wrote for and about my father after his diagnosis I said that I worried about my family, but knew we were lucky to have each other - and that was the one truth and comfort I kept coming back to through it all. We were all under the same roof this past year more than we have been since before I left for college. Over the summer in Mexico, in November for about a month before my sister moved to LA, and again for the few weeks before and after my father passed. We took turns caring for my father, the children and each other. We tried to make sure everyone got a little time to escape on their own. We drank wine and reminisced and laughed. We cried and fought and asked forgiveness. We were all under a tremendous amount of stress, but we still managed to treat each other gently. Most of the time.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-3iz7F99I3h4/VPPs2PKI-HI/AAAAAAAAJ7o/6WPQWzt71Ng/s1600/IMG_8497.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-3iz7F99I3h4/VPPs2PKI-HI/AAAAAAAAJ7o/6WPQWzt71Ng/s1600/IMG_8497.JPG" height="240" width="320" /></a></div><br /><br />I feel so overwhelmingly lucky to have shared this difficult milestone surrounded by my loved ones and I'm so impressed with each of them for how they rose to the occasion when the going got tough. I'm so glad we could all be there, not only in the very end, but in the months leading up to it...and now in the aftermath as we navigate life without dad. I hope my dad felt surrounded by love in his final moments. Throughout his entire life. He was and is so very loved.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-_Laeie1kVVQ/VPPs9x8wqTI/AAAAAAAAJ7w/zxoJszsrE4E/s1600/IMG_3457.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-_Laeie1kVVQ/VPPs9x8wqTI/AAAAAAAAJ7w/zxoJszsrE4E/s1600/IMG_3457.jpg" /></a></div><br />Sandra Telephttps://plus.google.com/115379448859608362870noreply@blogger.com6tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3023121558075366461.post-20625454675425946072014-11-02T23:21:00.003-05:002014-11-02T23:21:33.415-05:00We had a SUPER Halloween<div><br /></div><br /><div class="" style="clear: both;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-NDojEZcpzYQ/VFZYJ_rRvxI/AAAAAAAAJ04/zZ0MBNw2Fyc/s640/blogger-image--1534670291.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-NDojEZcpzYQ/VFZYJ_rRvxI/AAAAAAAAJ04/zZ0MBNw2Fyc/s640/blogger-image--1534670291.jpg" /></a>Leo has been emphatic that he wants to be Superman for Halloween all year - seriously, since <a href="http://www.westphillymama.com/2013/11/this-is-halloween.html">last Halloween</a> when he had some costume envy. I asked him intermittently throughout the year - and his answer was always the same. He has a deep and abiding love of all things superheroes, and Superman is the ultimate superhero in his opinion. Zoe, on the other hand, has a deep and abiding love of all things Leo...so if Leo was going to be a superhero, she most certainly would be, too. I did a little due diligence by reminding her that she could be anything she wanted - for example, a bumblebee, a carrot.... Elsa .... a firefighter, or anything at all. Afterall, I didn't want a repeat of Leo's costume remorse last year...but she didn't budge. So it was settled, Leo would be Superman, and Zoe chose Batman. With both kids dressing as superheroes, there really wasn't any other choice but a family costume theme. &nbsp;While jb seemed grateful that her costume hid her face, she was a great sport about joining in the fun.</div><div class="" style="clear: both;"><br /></div><div class="" style="clear: both;">In the weeks leading up to Halloween there was a lot of costume chat among kids on the playground and inevitably, there would be a kid who would tell Zoe that she couldn't be Batman or tell her that she must mean "Batgirl" and Zoe would tell that poor child what was what. She was unwavering in her insistence that she was Batman - and wouldn't answer to any other name when in costume.&nbsp;</div><div class="" style="clear: both;"><br /></div><div class="" style="clear: both;">Both kids were just so, so, so, so excited when Halloween rolled around...at least they were once I reminded them that it involved trick or treating (and that Election Day is just around the corner).<br /><br /></div><div class="" style="clear: both;"><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-ndvYKUgHi8g/VFbuAY2gyjI/AAAAAAAAJ2M/kjVi-tqJw6Q/s640/blogger-image--622256957.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-ndvYKUgHi8g/VFbuAY2gyjI/AAAAAAAAJ2M/kjVi-tqJw6Q/s640/blogger-image--622256957.jpg" /></a></div><br /></div><div class="" style="clear: both;">Here they are ready to pound the pavement:</div><div class="" style="clear: both;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-4qpTRgaeR4o/VFZc8Rf87uI/AAAAAAAAJ1U/O_GOdIo7-Rc/s640/blogger-image--1403190199.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-4qpTRgaeR4o/VFZc8Rf87uI/AAAAAAAAJ1U/O_GOdIo7-Rc/s640/blogger-image--1403190199.jpg" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">We participated in the neighborhood parade and stopped at a few (ridiculously crowded) houses along the way to trick or treat. The parade route is not the smartest strategy if your goal is to maximize candy collecting, but it's so nice to see our neighbors and check out all the cool costumes.</div><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-nu0rFwn7ME8/VFZdHsTqGlI/AAAAAAAAJ10/2l8tRll6DVQ/s640/blogger-image--955679693.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-nu0rFwn7ME8/VFZdHsTqGlI/AAAAAAAAJ10/2l8tRll6DVQ/s640/blogger-image--955679693.jpg" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;">Some houses really get into it! Unfortunately Zoe was terrified by this awesome Kang costume.</div><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-nX8Qimbzvaw/VFZdBcxjdRI/AAAAAAAAJ1k/CiC1novUMUM/s640/blogger-image-326956639.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-nX8Qimbzvaw/VFZdBcxjdRI/AAAAAAAAJ1k/CiC1novUMUM/s640/blogger-image-326956639.jpg" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;">Once the parade was over we trick or treated our way home - the kids needed several rests and candy breaks along the way.</div><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-B6zUL4Vq140/VFZdKpxpHrI/AAAAAAAAJ18/5kSAdkTZQJg/s640/blogger-image--2077143479.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-B6zUL4Vq140/VFZdKpxpHrI/AAAAAAAAJ18/5kSAdkTZQJg/s640/blogger-image--2077143479.jpg" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">Both superheroes required being carried at some point.</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-sVMp_HLqcQE/VFZYNY137ZI/AAAAAAAAJ1A/i2q7336SObA/s640/blogger-image--1834416308.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-sVMp_HLqcQE/VFZYNY137ZI/AAAAAAAAJ1A/i2q7336SObA/s640/blogger-image--1834416308.jpg" /></a></div><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-jT8-C7KhyLM/VFZYGLkrflI/AAAAAAAAJ0w/GZJMJoCfIHg/s640/blogger-image--1503112876.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-jT8-C7KhyLM/VFZYGLkrflI/AAAAAAAAJ0w/GZJMJoCfIHg/s640/blogger-image--1503112876.jpg" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">Leo was just so proud of his costume. I thought about DIYing his costume or trying to piece together some of his gazillion superman pjs/shirts/sweatshirts into a makeshift costume - but I know he really envisioned the store-bought costume and I am glad we went ahead an got it.</div><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-0Ex0azuG8eI/VFZYQ3BHL7I/AAAAAAAAJ1I/s7EjSwoTM4E/s640/blogger-image--813507642.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-0Ex0azuG8eI/VFZYQ3BHL7I/AAAAAAAAJ1I/s7EjSwoTM4E/s640/blogger-image--813507642.jpg" /></a></div><br />Here are the superheroes winding down and heading home.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/--lOmMCDRCAs/VFZdD42Mf3I/AAAAAAAAJ1s/I_yJve-BWdI/s640/blogger-image-1162363071.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/--lOmMCDRCAs/VFZdD42Mf3I/AAAAAAAAJ1s/I_yJve-BWdI/s640/blogger-image-1162363071.jpg" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">But not before stopping to strike a super pose.</div><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-Uvi_TkXQkXU/VFZc-y874zI/AAAAAAAAJ1c/FX2dvP9ie9A/s640/blogger-image--1862865405.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-Uvi_TkXQkXU/VFZc-y874zI/AAAAAAAAJ1c/FX2dvP9ie9A/s640/blogger-image--1862865405.jpg" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">Happy Halloween!</div><br />Sandra Telephttps://plus.google.com/115379448859608362870noreply@blogger.com2tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3023121558075366461.post-53623880395284155792014-10-16T23:03:00.002-04:002014-10-16T23:05:06.337-04:00For The Love Of Art #CreativeGalaxy #AmazonKids<!-- Amazon Prime Instant Video: Creative Galaxy / Clever Girls Snippet --><br /><div class="none"><script data-cfasync="false" src="http://member.clevergirlscollective.com/track?u=4179&amp;g=884" type="text/javascript"></script><img src="http://assets.clevergirlscollective.com/pixel/p.png?a=campaign&amp;gid=884&amp;uid=4179" style="display: none; height: 1px; width: 1px;" /></div><!-- END Clever Girls Snippet --><br /><div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-l0S1GMdFy0g/VDs9vGCEGAI/AAAAAAAAJzk/8FWC96PQfBo/s1600/amazon_studios-creative_galaxy_S1_E13-episode_still_2.tif" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-l0S1GMdFy0g/VDs9vGCEGAI/AAAAAAAAJzk/8FWC96PQfBo/s1600/amazon_studios-creative_galaxy_S1_E13-episode_still_2.tif" height="180" width="320" /></a></div><span style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;">We were invited to preview Amazon Prime Instant Video's newest episodes of the children's show <a href="http://clvr.li/XW3oyJ">Creative Galaxy</a>. &nbsp;Our household is already a fan of Amazon programming (the kids love&nbsp;<a href="http://www.amazon.com/Shiny-Coins-Fig-Finds-Shadow/dp/B00CBZYOAO/ref=sr_1_1?s=instant-video&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1413164197&amp;sr=1-1&amp;keywords=tumble+leaf">Tumble Leaf</a> and jb and I are excited to check out <a href="http://www.villageq.com/transparent-episode-1-recap-sounds-like-clitoris/">Transparent</a>), so I was looking forward to sitting with my kids to watch this new series. Creative Galaxy follows the adventure of a young alien named Arty who solves problems with Art. The kids loved the show, and there were a few things that I, as a parent, really appreciated.&nbsp;</span><br /><span style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;">For example:</span><br /><span style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;"><br /></span><br /><ul><li><span style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;">Art Vocabulary: I like that the show incorporates the names of famous artists and their well known works into the dialogue. The show also covers a wide range of types of art and uses correct terminology - like <i>pointillism</i>&nbsp;when exploring making pictures with dots.&nbsp;</span></li><li><span style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;">Role-Models: Arty's mom is an architect and his das is often seen babywearing - I love it when characters in kids' shows go against gender stereotypes.&nbsp;</span></li><li><span style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;">Utilitarian Art: Art is presented as more than just something nice to look at, it can teach, inspire and be incorporated into all our basic needs, from food to shelter.</span></li><li><span style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;">Appeals to a range of ages: My two year old was practicing her shapes and colors while my four year old was imagining his own pointillism creation.</span></li><li><span style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;">Pervasiveness of Art: The show reminds us that art is all around us and that we are all artists.</span></li></ul></div><div><span style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;">Perhaps the best part about the show was that it got my kids excited about art. Let's face it, I can love a show - but if it doesn't hold my kids' attention it doesn't really matter. Leo (4) and Zoe (2) both enjoyed watching the show&nbsp;<span style="line-height: 1.15;">(which I expected) and afterwards they really wanted to create something inspired by the show (which was a pleasant surprise!). I’m not sure why, but Leo in particular has been reluctant to take on art projects recently. Once we introduced Creative Galaxy, he not only chose the show over some of his other favorites (and added Arty to his line up of characters to talk about), but our family also saw the return of enthusiasm over ‘arts and crafts time’ - as the kids call it.</span></span><br /><span style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;"></span><br /><div><span style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;"><span style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;"><br /></span></span></div><span style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;"><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/--a2ivhd4pD4/VDX2wt3iX0I/AAAAAAAAJy8/18bM4dRsi18/s640/blogger-image--1345476659.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/--a2ivhd4pD4/VDX2wt3iX0I/AAAAAAAAJy8/18bM4dRsi18/s640/blogger-image--1345476659.jpg" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><br />One of the kids’ favorite episodes focused on using ‘garbage’ to create art, and they were very eager to repurpose some of our own trash. Having watched the show, they didn’t need much guidance. I set them up with some empty toilet paper rolls and pretty standard supplies like glue, pom poms and paint, and gave them creative control. Leo and Zoe both really appreciated this approach, having a bit more of a free reign with their creativity than some of the other projects we take on. So I let go of my control issues (and hopes for a not-too-sticky coffee table) and let the kids run with their imaginations as they worked on their creations. Leo made a robot complete with control panel and Zoe made a monkey - and both were very proud of their projects.<br /></span><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-0wl8yBT7ea4/VDX2tTZgd7I/AAAAAAAAJy0/8h3-9AJoyCE/s640/blogger-image--265043923.jpg"><img border="0" src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-0wl8yBT7ea4/VDX2tTZgd7I/AAAAAAAAJy0/8h3-9AJoyCE/s640/blogger-image--265043923.jpg" /></a></div><span style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;"><br /><br />Creative Galaxy did a great job providing both inspiration and instruction. The first half of the show is a cartoon featuring Arty’s adventures, and the second half features real kids making their own art projects. It’s clear that the kids are getting off-camera direction and support, but my kids saw children working independently - and that’s what Leo and Zoe take away from it: these kids conceptualized their own project, saw it through from start to finish, and used various, sometimes ‘big kid’, tools and supplies to get there. </span><span style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;"><br style="background-color: white; color: #222222;" /><span style="vertical-align: baseline;">It’s always refreshing to find a solid new show for our rotation. The fact that Artie and Creative Galaxy have my kids requesting crafts supplies - not just another episode - when it’s over is a great bonus.</span></span></div><div><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><br /></div><i>I was selected for this opportunity as a member of <a href="http://clvr.li/OHjC82" target="_blank">Clever Girls</a> and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.</i>Sandra Telephttps://plus.google.com/115379448859608362870noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3023121558075366461.post-86522305372930114712014-10-09T13:52:00.000-04:002014-10-09T13:52:31.722-04:00New Chapter in Reading<div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-cemut5F6YpE/VDaoibk_d2I/AAAAAAAAJzM/NcSzUfpE-oE/s640/blogger-image--430660728.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-cemut5F6YpE/VDaoibk_d2I/AAAAAAAAJzM/NcSzUfpE-oE/s640/blogger-image--430660728.jpg" /></a></div>Lately, Leo has really been enjoying longer books. He has always been an enthusiastic reader, but only recently has he really asked for these types of books that take several days (usually...on rainy days we've read one in a single day) to read and have few or no pictures. &nbsp;His Uncle Julian gave him a Roald Dahl treasury and so far we've read The Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Twits, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. &nbsp;He does still enjoy shorter books - picture books, even board books, which is good because Zoe still wants us to read those over and over (and over and over).<br /><br />It's been awesome curling up to read these longer stories with Leo. &nbsp;These days he's all jumping and climbing and talking a million miles an hour - so slowing down to cuddle and read is especially nice. Since, these books do NOT usually hold Zoe's attention, it's tough to find time (aside from her nap time or when she wants to nurse) to really settle in to reading with him. We've certainly been making good use of the bookmarks he got for his birthday (Thank you Maya and Lydia!).<br /><br />The last book we read was Charlie and Chocolate Factory. &nbsp;My absolute favorite moment during that book - or possibly ever - was when we were reading the part when charlie is slowly opening the wrapper hoping to find a golden ticket. &nbsp;At that moment, as I read, Leo quickly covered his eyes and exclaimed, "I can't look!" &nbsp;There wasn't a single picture on the page - he was just so overcome by the story. &nbsp;It was freaking amazing.<br /><br />After we finished the book we had a weekend double feature viewing both the Gene Wilder and the Jonny Depp movie versions. &nbsp;Leo picked out EVERY little difference between the book and each movie. &nbsp;From major changes - like, "Why doesn't he have a dad in this movie?" to strangely small things like, "In the book he used the word ___ instead of ____." &nbsp;If it wasn't for the novelty of it being the first time we watched a movie based on a book we've read I might have asked him to can it after a while. <br /><br />I'm looking forward to reading more and more chapter books with him, though I'd like to diversify a bit. &nbsp;<a href="http://www.goodreads.com/list/show/328.Best_Read_Aloud_Chapter_Books">This list</a> is a good start - though Roald Dahl does hold three of the top then spots, so I guess we are on the right track. &nbsp;What chapter books do you enjoy reading aloud?Sandra Telephttps://plus.google.com/115379448859608362870noreply@blogger.com1tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3023121558075366461.post-33114051154359812922014-09-23T22:01:00.000-04:002014-09-23T22:01:12.221-04:00Camping at Knoebel's<div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><a href="https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-23x5O9fMHy8/VCDq0FR4Z3I/AAAAAAAAJuw/HWMTt8EFgvM/s640/blogger-image--1137719840.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-23x5O9fMHy8/VCDq0FR4Z3I/AAAAAAAAJuw/HWMTt8EFgvM/s640/blogger-image--1137719840.jpg" /></a>I have been looking forward to this camping trip since Christmas when I opened this tent. Last year we camped in our tiny dome tent that we've had since college and when it began pouring rain we realized it was riddled with leaks. We packed the kids up in the middle of the night and drove home, returning in the morning to eat breakfast with our friends and pack up the leaky tent and any other belongings we'd abandoned in our soggy panic. This was disappointing because we'd shared a lot of good times with that tent - but I was excited to upgrade to something larger and, well, dry. So this beauty was my Christmas present this year and I've been itching to use it ever since.&nbsp;</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-7Otafc3kTyQ/VCDrJCf2uHI/AAAAAAAAJvg/F59f9ON2yU8/s640/blogger-image--1254193355.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-7Otafc3kTyQ/VCDrJCf2uHI/AAAAAAAAJvg/F59f9ON2yU8/s640/blogger-image--1254193355.jpg" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><br /><div class="" style="clear: both;">It's been a busy summer, but we got this trip in just under the wire - in fact, the last day of the camping trip was officially the last day of summer. As soon as we got home from DC we promptly unpacked and began to repack for camping. The kids helped by stuffing lint into toilet paper rolls for fire starters while jb and I gathered the rest of the supplies. We packed our little Honda Fit to the gills (it may be time to consider a bigger car for our family) and set off on our three hour drive to Knoebel's.</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"></div><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-nqBHM8xOBF4/VCDqkJc8I3I/AAAAAAAAJuI/cnk2bHITAAM/s640/blogger-image--101059028.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" src="https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-nqBHM8xOBF4/VCDqkJc8I3I/AAAAAAAAJuI/cnk2bHITAAM/s640/blogger-image--101059028.jpg" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">Gorgeous camping weather</td></tr></tbody></table>When we arrived at camp we unloaded, set up the tent and got a fire going to cook dinner. The new tent was pretty easy to set up, especially with our little helpers.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-PBCs7GdcwbI/VCDqXf1qUeI/AAAAAAAAJto/WYpHKkK2Tx4/s640/blogger-image--1498569743.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" height="320" src="https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-PBCs7GdcwbI/VCDqXf1qUeI/AAAAAAAAJto/WYpHKkK2Tx4/s320/blogger-image--1498569743.jpg" width="240" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">The kids were thrilled with the setup and positively giddy at the idea of sleeping in sleeping bags. &nbsp;</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-wo1KoOV8Xvk/VCDqt9j9ZYI/AAAAAAAAJug/b7CrCfJABFY/s640/blogger-image-1210181315.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-wo1KoOV8Xvk/VCDqt9j9ZYI/AAAAAAAAJug/b7CrCfJABFY/s640/blogger-image-1210181315.jpg" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">We were camping with a group of Philly Family Pride families, so as we set up and prepared dinner, the other members of our group arrived.</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"></div><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-3BOQkvEqLsA/VCDrA-7tjNI/AAAAAAAAJvQ/MJFsYo7CUiI/s640/blogger-image--673716965.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" src="https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-3BOQkvEqLsA/VCDrA-7tjNI/AAAAAAAAJvQ/MJFsYo7CUiI/s640/blogger-image--673716965.jpg" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">Zoe is eating popcorn with a fork</td></tr></tbody></table><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-ykrfoPYVK_Q/VCDqwYTf-vI/AAAAAAAAJuo/M0ucNZZoYpQ/s640/blogger-image-463148103.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-ykrfoPYVK_Q/VCDqwYTf-vI/AAAAAAAAJuo/M0ucNZZoYpQ/s640/blogger-image-463148103.jpg" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">Anything after nightfall was an adventure - even walking to the bathrooms. Between the flashlights, headlamps, lantern, glow sticks and campfire there was much to look forward to when darkness fell.</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-hl84XeGUQE0/VCDrR851qbI/AAAAAAAAJv4/9GoTnJIzCQo/s640/blogger-image-1826484938.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-hl84XeGUQE0/VCDrR851qbI/AAAAAAAAJv4/9GoTnJIzCQo/s640/blogger-image-1826484938.jpg" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">Especially... SLEEPING BAGS!</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-KfdopZKpa3o/VCDr2hjRzhI/AAAAAAAAJxg/j2-j874yuvA/s640/blogger-image--6013645.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; margin-bottom: 1em;"><img border="0" src="https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-KfdopZKpa3o/VCDr2hjRzhI/AAAAAAAAJxg/j2-j874yuvA/s640/blogger-image--6013645.jpg" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-rD0ggmYJvEg/VCDrt6en8tI/AAAAAAAAJxI/dndZTlP-Ayc/s640/blogger-image--839488942.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-rD0ggmYJvEg/VCDrt6en8tI/AAAAAAAAJxI/dndZTlP-Ayc/s640/blogger-image--839488942.jpg" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-fX9CaoJusuc/VCDrUq9fqSI/AAAAAAAAJwA/8kN8Sd0q24g/s640/blogger-image--1912748806.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-fX9CaoJusuc/VCDrUq9fqSI/AAAAAAAAJwA/8kN8Sd0q24g/s640/blogger-image--1912748806.jpg" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">Personally, I'm sold on an air mattress or camping pad for our next trip, but the kids were happy to sleep right on the rocky ground - as long as it was in a bag.</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">Over the next couple of days we split our time between the campsite and the amusement park. We were in it more for the camping than the rides, but it was nice to have the park within walking distance. There is no entrance fee to Knoebel's amusement park and you can choose to either buy a ride-all-day bracelet or buy a book of tickets to pay per ride. With young kids, the pay-per-ride option is great since we only lasted a couple hours at a time and their options were limited due to height restrictions and nerves. We really enjoyed the rides we could all go on together, like the train. The train ride was a mile and a half long and went into the woods and through a clearing with feeders for the squirrels and chipmunks. &nbsp;It was really lovely.</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"></div><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"></div><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-b9gpxuLH9tc/VCDri37GNUI/AAAAAAAAJwo/jafn0cs4dE4/s640/blogger-image--2100812183.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" src="https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-b9gpxuLH9tc/VCDri37GNUI/AAAAAAAAJwo/jafn0cs4dE4/s640/blogger-image--2100812183.jpg" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">Toot toot!</td></tr></tbody></table><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"></div><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-0YAGB2ZweGY/VCDrrLjqayI/AAAAAAAAJxA/TiF5p7B5SYA/s640/blogger-image-377805636.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-0YAGB2ZweGY/VCDrrLjqayI/AAAAAAAAJxA/TiF5p7B5SYA/s640/blogger-image-377805636.jpg" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">Train ride...again</td></tr></tbody></table><div class="separator" style="clear: both;">Leo loved one ride called the Scenic Skyride that was basically a ski-lift that carries you up and back down a mountain. &nbsp;He said it was really "beautiful and peaceful."</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-EyWFi9lKM5Q/VCDqcwbQKNI/AAAAAAAAJt4/A8Aa6uyLpbc/s640/blogger-image-752120430.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-EyWFi9lKM5Q/VCDqcwbQKNI/AAAAAAAAJt4/A8Aa6uyLpbc/s640/blogger-image-752120430.jpg" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /><a href="https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-ziyb9p0kdhw/VCDrXiual3I/AAAAAAAAJwI/E4CutJjd6Cc/s640/blogger-image--651233321.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-ziyb9p0kdhw/VCDrXiual3I/AAAAAAAAJwI/E4CutJjd6Cc/s640/blogger-image--651233321.jpg" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><a href="https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-H_O3CZIeVaw/VCDqU0ttmLI/AAAAAAAAJtg/pnwLQOL3MQk/s640/blogger-image-1404285243.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-ClKfeg9PYcI/VCDroZvOV_I/AAAAAAAAJw4/XnC3dCPZRvU/s640/blogger-image--576573720.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-ClKfeg9PYcI/VCDroZvOV_I/AAAAAAAAJw4/XnC3dCPZRvU/s640/blogger-image--576573720.jpg" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">Since Zoe was too short to go on the ski-lift ride, we went on the boats.</div><div class="" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-H_O3CZIeVaw/VCDqU0ttmLI/AAAAAAAAJtg/pnwLQOL3MQk/s640/blogger-image-1404285243.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-H_O3CZIeVaw/VCDqU0ttmLI/AAAAAAAAJtg/pnwLQOL3MQk/s640/blogger-image-1404285243.jpg" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">The kids had fun at the park, but would have been more than satisfied with staying at the campsite the whole time. After all, there were books and hot dogs there. What more could one want?</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">There was a lot of reading. Mostly by other parents...that's jb and I in the background enjoying our coffee while someone else watches our kids.</div><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-gZD0Swg-UUg/VCDrdOg-l_I/AAAAAAAAJwY/UR0Lry9EGGY/s640/blogger-image--925176417.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-gZD0Swg-UUg/VCDrdOg-l_I/AAAAAAAAJwY/UR0Lry9EGGY/s640/blogger-image--925176417.jpg" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-92hJc9ZNjbo/VCDrw43hszI/AAAAAAAAJxQ/8M2Qxg0Wibc/s640/blogger-image--645202200.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-92hJc9ZNjbo/VCDrw43hszI/AAAAAAAAJxQ/8M2Qxg0Wibc/s640/blogger-image--645202200.jpg" /></a></div><br />There were plenty of other activities that kept them busy, and like reading, most of them were things they do at home all the time, but they were transformed into super-duper-fun because we were doing them OUTSIDE near a TENT!<br /><br />Playing with trucks was a crowd favorite.<br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"></div><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-MgQ4q1CUmCA/VCDq25tzHnI/AAAAAAAAJu4/1uKi7aoQObU/s640/blogger-image-1351158892.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-MgQ4q1CUmCA/VCDq25tzHnI/AAAAAAAAJu4/1uKi7aoQObU/s640/blogger-image-1351158892.jpg" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"></div><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;">But really, the dirt was the main attraction.</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-sj6VIZCalwo/VCDrE9NrkSI/AAAAAAAAJvY/D0KFN5mbcKU/s640/blogger-image--1006436136.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-sj6VIZCalwo/VCDrE9NrkSI/AAAAAAAAJvY/D0KFN5mbcKU/s640/blogger-image--1006436136.jpg" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"></div><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-Or93_WXx44g/VCDraUqc1FI/AAAAAAAAJwQ/2EqKgxHudo4/s640/blogger-image-578844130.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" src="https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-Or93_WXx44g/VCDraUqc1FI/AAAAAAAAJwQ/2EqKgxHudo4/s640/blogger-image-578844130.jpg" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">This kid could not get enough dirt</td></tr></tbody></table><div class="" style="clear: both;">That's one of my favorite things about camping - the mundane somehow becomes fun. And not just for the kids. I have never been happier to wash dishes than I am when I have to walk them down a dirt road to access water, or happier to eat a hot dog than when it is charred over a fire that took us two hours to get going. &nbsp;</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><br /><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-Ygq-VXE6JMI/VCDrgGOehqI/AAAAAAAAJwg/-c6h_7cTxBo/s640/blogger-image--311188075.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-Ygq-VXE6JMI/VCDrgGOehqI/AAAAAAAAJwg/-c6h_7cTxBo/s640/blogger-image--311188075.jpg" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">Peeling clementines is SO MUCH FUN - when you're camping</td></tr></tbody></table>It was also really nice camping with a group of families. We were able to enjoy meals together, chat and trade off kid-duties. The group meals were my favorite. We would sit down around twilight to eat together - and night would quickly fall as we ate.&nbsp;</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-6K73MX9M9OU/VCDrLyGVrBI/AAAAAAAAJvo/CzlT9NxMCug/s640/blogger-image-1835824208.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-6K73MX9M9OU/VCDrLyGVrBI/AAAAAAAAJvo/CzlT9NxMCug/s640/blogger-image-1835824208.jpg" /></a></div><div style="text-align: left;"></div><br />Which would lead right into S'mores.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"></div><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-Nl1C_Epd65Y/VCDrll2E1DI/AAAAAAAAJww/2HxiRPDR5ak/s640/blogger-image--1773069447.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-Nl1C_Epd65Y/VCDrll2E1DI/AAAAAAAAJww/2HxiRPDR5ak/s640/blogger-image--1773069447.jpg" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">Big kid toasting his own marshmallow</td></tr></tbody></table><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"></div><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-_hyYk_xMP6E/VCDqn4wSR2I/AAAAAAAAJuQ/Wq0VbGnFUZw/s640/blogger-image-1762485159.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" src="https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-_hyYk_xMP6E/VCDqn4wSR2I/AAAAAAAAJuQ/Wq0VbGnFUZw/s640/blogger-image-1762485159.jpg" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">S'mores!</td></tr></tbody></table><br />The weather was perfect. It was nice and warm during the day, but there was a definite chill at night. &nbsp;In the mornings we all bundled up before leaving the tent on our long (ok, not so long) trek to the bathrooms. (Did I mention that Knoebel's campground has gender neutral restrooms available? Bonus!)<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-gryyCIelc8k/VCDqqyxtaCI/AAAAAAAAJuY/0ynPGQM-QZE/s640/blogger-image--451739789.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-gryyCIelc8k/VCDqqyxtaCI/AAAAAAAAJuY/0ynPGQM-QZE/s640/blogger-image--451739789.jpg" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-lC95RLLPVFc/VCDq6_xc9yI/AAAAAAAAJvA/Bdv2BFbUYko/s640/blogger-image--2071496230.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-lC95RLLPVFc/VCDq6_xc9yI/AAAAAAAAJvA/Bdv2BFbUYko/s640/blogger-image--2071496230.jpg" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div>One morning we even indulged in some hot cocoa to warm us up.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-leaXtKVKPH4/VCDq-eHYmzI/AAAAAAAAJvI/cnKP54kOsc8/s640/blogger-image-1596754547.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-leaXtKVKPH4/VCDq-eHYmzI/AAAAAAAAJvI/cnKP54kOsc8/s640/blogger-image-1596754547.jpg" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">It wasn't quite fall, but it sure wasn't summer anymore. This camping trip made for the perfect transition between the seasons. Camping was the single item left unchecked on the Summer Bucket list we'd made back in May. Checking off a camping trip on the last day of the season was our summer closure and fall welcomed us with a preview of the changing leaves and an invitation to breakout the sweatshirts.</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: left;"></div><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><img border="0" src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-r0A8w_bXGNE/VCDrz7-3B2I/AAAAAAAAJxY/L583jF6eqS4/s640/blogger-image-1096106585.jpg" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" /></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">#TreePorn</td></tr></tbody></table><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-r0A8w_bXGNE/VCDrz7-3B2I/AAAAAAAAJxY/L583jF6eqS4/s640/blogger-image-1096106585.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"></a><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-r0A8w_bXGNE/VCDrz7-3B2I/AAAAAAAAJxY/L583jF6eqS4/s640/blogger-image-1096106585.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"></a><br /><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-r0A8w_bXGNE/VCDrz7-3B2I/AAAAAAAAJxY/L583jF6eqS4/s640/blogger-image-1096106585.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"></a>Speaking of changing seasons...who the heck is this big kid posing as my baby?<br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-jeRzwLfCdgU/VCDqaYAvQCI/AAAAAAAAJtw/onMDYEXBKBQ/s640/blogger-image--1321319453.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-jeRzwLfCdgU/VCDqaYAvQCI/AAAAAAAAJtw/onMDYEXBKBQ/s640/blogger-image--1321319453.jpg" /></a></div><br />He was actually helpful while putting up the tent and making the fire. He toasted his own marshmallow and looked both ways before crossing the camp roads. He was the oldest kid in attendance and split his time between the kids and adults. It's like he's a genuine big kid.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-7wF9BAEEZ5M/VCDqf1HgJqI/AAAAAAAAJuA/if3D1kFngA8/s640/blogger-image-238557648.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-7wF9BAEEZ5M/VCDqf1HgJqI/AAAAAAAAJuA/if3D1kFngA8/s640/blogger-image-238557648.jpg" /></a></div><br /><br />Now we just need to make our annual fall bucket list!<br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><br /></div><br /><br />Sandra Telephttps://plus.google.com/115379448859608362870noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3023121558075366461.post-38308219191276339782014-09-18T23:23:00.004-04:002014-09-22T23:41:51.887-04:00The District<div>Earlier this week, jb had a work trip to DC for a few days. &nbsp;I remember work trips. &nbsp;After my meetings were done I would lay in my hotel room, order room service and watch TV. &nbsp;jb was foolish enough to ask if we wanted to tag along...and of course we did! &nbsp;And while there was no lounging around (there never is with with a four year old and two year old), we still had a pretty good time.</div><br>The kids LOVE staying in hotels, so they were thrilled from the get-go. <br><br><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-pmLC-nZlzRM/VBuSwfYCHYI/AAAAAAAAJsQ/_RT6adSWz24/s640/blogger-image--1025599271.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-pmLC-nZlzRM/VBuSwfYCHYI/AAAAAAAAJsQ/_RT6adSWz24/s640/blogger-image--1025599271.jpg"></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">Our first night there we arrived just in time for dinner and we took the kids to <a href="http://www.rakuasiandining.com/">Raku</a>, a restaurant that we frequented back when jb and I lived in DC. &nbsp;The spicy-crunchy-tuna rolls are still phenomenal. &nbsp;</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><br></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-no8q_6_X6RE/VBuTA4ZzZEI/AAAAAAAAJs4/bXvm_h4CZEA/s640/blogger-image--1841631569.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-no8q_6_X6RE/VBuTA4ZzZEI/AAAAAAAAJs4/bXvm_h4CZEA/s640/blogger-image--1841631569.jpg"></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><br></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;">The kids enjoyed the food and liked hearing some stories about our life pre-kids. &nbsp;Leo especially had many questions about what we did, where we worked, and who we spent our time with.</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><br></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-m0_wy6--U0g/VBuSl1DjvXI/AAAAAAAAJr4/SiiBkU3Hbqo/s640/blogger-image--1136687527.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-m0_wy6--U0g/VBuSl1DjvXI/AAAAAAAAJr4/SiiBkU3Hbqo/s640/blogger-image--1136687527.jpg"></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">After dinner we walked to Dupont Circle to check out the fountain at night. &nbsp;We also pointed out the Starbucks where jb used to work to Leo and Zoe.</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><br></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-Jqqd9dRwIXo/VBuS7C64MAI/AAAAAAAAJso/K5dR27-kQEk/s640/blogger-image--1212330577.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-Jqqd9dRwIXo/VBuS7C64MAI/AAAAAAAAJso/K5dR27-kQEk/s640/blogger-image--1212330577.jpg"></a></div><br><div class="separator" style="clear: both;">Finally - at nearly 9 PM, the kids fell asleep.</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><br></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-xqi1wMX0eiw/VBuSY9XAxiI/AAAAAAAAJrY/5qZ3_gvI8vw/s640/blogger-image--1393535446.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-xqi1wMX0eiw/VBuSY9XAxiI/AAAAAAAAJrY/5qZ3_gvI8vw/s640/blogger-image--1393535446.jpg"></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">The next morning they slept in so late that we missed saying goodbye to jb who was out the door early for her meetings. &nbsp;We took our time getting dressed and took advantage of the continental breakfast offered by the hotel. &nbsp;The theme that day seems to have been "sugar-covered carbs." &nbsp;Kids did not complain. &nbsp;I drew the line at Fruit Loops.</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><br></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-zzjS69i-S84/VBuSV6dXe1I/AAAAAAAAJrQ/0z-IecMLtBo/s640/blogger-image-1512495541.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-zzjS69i-S84/VBuSV6dXe1I/AAAAAAAAJrQ/0z-IecMLtBo/s640/blogger-image-1512495541.jpg"></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><br></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;">Then we set out for the zoo. &nbsp;It was a gorgeous day, so I decided to walk it rather than take the Metro. &nbsp;(Pro-tip: If you do take the Metro to the zoo, get off at Cleveland Park and walk downhill to the zoo entrance. &nbsp;If you get off at Woodley Park it's three blocks straight uphill to the zoo.)</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><br></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-80dUoXLRdys/VBuS3m3n_CI/AAAAAAAAJsg/J6rfVAKSr6A/s640/blogger-image-1488844959.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-80dUoXLRdys/VBuS3m3n_CI/AAAAAAAAJsg/J6rfVAKSr6A/s640/blogger-image-1488844959.jpg"></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><br></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;">It was a perfect zoo day.</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><br></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-I3m3fxNjVEw/VBuStMTFopI/AAAAAAAAJsI/qjXFz4K0uiA/s640/blogger-image--867723664.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-I3m3fxNjVEw/VBuStMTFopI/AAAAAAAAJsI/qjXFz4K0uiA/s640/blogger-image--867723664.jpg"></a></div><br>The kids were particularly impressed by the elephants and giant pandas (maybe because the Philly Zoo doesn't have these animals?). <br><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><br></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-NgN2CbhqBys/VBuSPgxJEjI/AAAAAAAAJrA/fK7zxmvJR08/s640/blogger-image--2039912007.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-NgN2CbhqBys/VBuSPgxJEjI/AAAAAAAAJrA/fK7zxmvJR08/s640/blogger-image--2039912007.jpg"></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">We entered the zoo through the Woodley Park entrance, then walked through slowly checking out the exhibits and then exited through the other end near Adams Morgan. &nbsp;We walked by a playground and the kids begged to play for a while.</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><br></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-iFw7ZhDwli0/VBuSjcR6LpI/AAAAAAAAJrw/PCFVJHrMfgA/s640/blogger-image-368492273.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-iFw7ZhDwli0/VBuSjcR6LpI/AAAAAAAAJrw/PCFVJHrMfgA/s640/blogger-image-368492273.jpg"></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">At this point, we were all pretty hungry so we stopped by <a href="http://www.trystdc.com/">Tryst</a> for some lunch - and chai lattes. &nbsp;Zoe was pretty much done at this point.</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><br></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-QTeZZYNCeJY/VBuS0Cv2o3I/AAAAAAAAJsY/H2y_rxPb_XE/s640/blogger-image--3076098.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-QTeZZYNCeJY/VBuS0Cv2o3I/AAAAAAAAJsY/H2y_rxPb_XE/s640/blogger-image--3076098.jpg"></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">Leo said the chai latte was so good it almost made him fall over.</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><br></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-XF5qZuFmOP0/VBuSbuD6gcI/AAAAAAAAJrg/Kmd8KGCY9YM/s640/blogger-image-1889815621.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-XF5qZuFmOP0/VBuSbuD6gcI/AAAAAAAAJrg/Kmd8KGCY9YM/s640/blogger-image-1889815621.jpg"></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">That evening jb brought back some slices from her favorite pizza joint and we filled her in about our day. &nbsp;The kids were happy, but exhausted. &nbsp;I guess I was, too, because I fell asleep pretty early. &nbsp;For those keeping track I walked, nay, pushed a stroller - from Dupont, to Woodley Park, to Adams Morgan, back to Dupont. &nbsp;Not a marathon, but nothing to sneeze at - especially when you factor in the hills.</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">The next morning, we prepared to check out. &nbsp;We packed up all our bags and with an hour or so before check out and jb still in meetings, I took the kids to visit the<a href="https://www.teaism.com/"> tea shop</a> that I worked at when I lived in DC.&nbsp;</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><br></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-IE_RPwCu2vo/VBuSSwrQqsI/AAAAAAAAJrI/xcvm2lXeejs/s640/blogger-image--74535037.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-IE_RPwCu2vo/VBuSSwrQqsI/AAAAAAAAJrI/xcvm2lXeejs/s640/blogger-image--74535037.jpg"></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">I warned them that it had been many years since I worked there, so I might not know any of the workers...but as it turned out I knew three of the people working behind the counter. &nbsp;It was SO SO SO nice to see them again and they were super sweet to the kids. &nbsp;I hadn't done the math as to how long it had been since I worked there, but when I asked one of my ex-co-workers about his wife, who was pregnant when I was working there - he told me that they had just celebrated that baby's tenth birthday. &nbsp;WHAT?!? &nbsp;</div><br><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-suklTQ2AOYc/VBuSf6FAiII/AAAAAAAAJro/8fdP2PMrWYk/s640/blogger-image--553450334.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-suklTQ2AOYc/VBuSf6FAiII/AAAAAAAAJro/8fdP2PMrWYk/s640/blogger-image--553450334.jpg"></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">I remember I would work here in the tea shop, while jb worked down the street at Starbucks. &nbsp;We'd each work on the crossword puzzle when it was slow (this is why I became acquainted with the phrase: "If you've got time to lean, you've got time to clean"), then after work we'd meet up and compare answers and progress. &nbsp;</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><br></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-EwstN1PKJ_U/VBuS94h9YyI/AAAAAAAAJsw/EsRYe1qVCfM/s640/blogger-image--1921972158.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-EwstN1PKJ_U/VBuS94h9YyI/AAAAAAAAJsw/EsRYe1qVCfM/s640/blogger-image--1921972158.jpg"></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">The kids tried the chai and the sencha tea with some ginger scones. &nbsp;They were pleased, but made it clear that they preferred the super-sweet, syrupy, emulsified chai latte at Tryst over this complex, authentic, somewhat spicy chai latte. &nbsp;Unsophisticated palates, those toddlers have.&nbsp;</div><br><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-H-Glwv92Gt4/VBuTErSaorI/AAAAAAAAJtA/S5yoxDPahHE/s640/blogger-image-452260623.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" src="https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-H-Glwv92Gt4/VBuTErSaorI/AAAAAAAAJtA/S5yoxDPahHE/s640/blogger-image-452260623.jpg"></a></div><br>Finally, jb was done with work, we picked up our bags, and just before leaving DC we made one final stop at Eastern Market. &nbsp;Zoe fell asleep the moment she hit her carseat, so I stayed in the car with her while Leo and jb went inside to get my favorite <a href="http://www.easternmarket-dc.org/default.asp?contentID=45">ravioli</a>. <br><br><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><a href="https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-94V_w5bQMG4/VCDr5qCBbTI/AAAAAAAAJxo/QEZBZA9Cwhw/s640/blogger-image--2040435655.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-94V_w5bQMG4/VCDr5qCBbTI/AAAAAAAAJxo/QEZBZA9Cwhw/s640/blogger-image--2040435655.jpg"></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><br></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><a href="https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-w1OwRAKHsbU/VCDr_Vei5EI/AAAAAAAAJx4/xFfvnanEPNk/s640/blogger-image--1555691092.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-w1OwRAKHsbU/VCDr_Vei5EI/AAAAAAAAJx4/xFfvnanEPNk/s640/blogger-image--1555691092.jpg"></a></div><br></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><a href="https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-QhNsjAYNphU/VCDr8lf-1sI/AAAAAAAAJxw/nJCrEcXeSII/s640/blogger-image--1545124306.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-QhNsjAYNphU/VCDr8lf-1sI/AAAAAAAAJxw/nJCrEcXeSII/s640/blogger-image--1545124306.jpg"></a></div><br><br>Tonight, back home in Philly, we boiled up the ravioli and ate it with some melted butter and oregano - just as good as I remember. &nbsp;And so ends our DC adventure. &nbsp;It was really neat to show the kids some of the places we hung out back in the day - it was also totally strange to be in these places with small children in tow. <br><br>Tomorrow we leave for our camping trip. &nbsp;Not joking.<br><br><br>Sandra Telephttps://plus.google.com/115379448859608362870noreply@blogger.com1tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3023121558075366461.post-41140965782681028632014-09-12T08:00:00.000-04:002014-09-12T08:00:10.500-04:00The Last Year<div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-mWIOg4QAHdc/VBJszbGWd3I/AAAAAAAAJqg/qGbMsE9bkFw/s640/blogger-image--457499425.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="240" src="https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-mWIOg4QAHdc/VBJszbGWd3I/AAAAAAAAJqg/qGbMsE9bkFw/s320/blogger-image--457499425.jpg" width="320" /></a></div>We've been squeezing out the last drops from this summer with friends that are starting kindergarten this month. Many of Leo's friends start the big K this year and he's both envious and relieved to be a year behind them. He is asking lots of questions about what school will be like and listening to his friends' takes on kindergarten with excitement and trepidation.<br /><br />I, of course, am hyper aware of this being the last year I am home with both my babies* and trying to treasure the everyday moments that won't be possible once Leo starts kindergarten next fall. I know school isn't the end of our time together, but it's going to be a huge bite out of the time we currently have together and, frankly, it's going to cramp our style.<br /><br />Top five things I will miss when Leo starts school:<br /><br /><span style="font-size: large;"><b>1. Our Epic Breakfasts</b></span><br />Since we don't usually have somewhere to be first thing in the morning, our breakfasts can stretch over two (plus!) hours and several courses. Some days breakfast just fades into lunch. Usually we start our morning feast with a kale smoothie - then it's kid's choice. The kids sit sipping smoothies and chatting while I stir the oatmeal or mix batter for pancakes. If the "main course" isn't ready when they finish their smoothies they will munch on fruit or yogurt. If we don't have any major plans for the morning it's so nice to linger over our meal and conversation. These relaxed breakfasts set a great tone for the day.<br /><br /><span style="font-size: large;"><b>2. Less Crowded Outings</b></span><br />With weekday daylight hours as our playground we have access to all the best spots when they are sparsely populated. We avoid long lines from amusement parks to the grocery store and the kids can really get comfortable with their favorite destinations like the Please Touch Museum or the Zoo. I've come to take this so for granted that I avoid doing popular activities on weekends or busy seasons because - ugh, the crowds!<br /><br /><span style="font-size: large;"><b>3. Long Aimless Walks</b></span><br />I love walking - which is really good since I don't drive. We walk all over West Philly - to playgrounds, grocery stores, libraries, cafes and the YMCA. Sometimes we just walk for the sake of walking. When we have a further destination we will take the bus/train to get there, play hard at said destination, and then I will push the kids home in the stroller. This usually results in an easy nap for both kids (and at 4 yrs. old, Leo is a rare napper) and a built in workout for me. Plus, we save the $2.25 on bus fare....which goes towards the latte I stop for while both kids are quiet and resting. It's a great way to see the city and get time outdoors. We've walked home from center city, Fairmount Park and even Bryn Mawr (I DO NOT recommend that last one).<br /><br /><span style="font-size: large;"><b>4. Travel Without Limits &nbsp;</b></span><br />OK, we still have financial limits - and the limits of time and space, but as of right now, we can visit my family in Pittsburgh for two weeks or go to Mexico for a month or take a day trip to the shore without too much planning. I like being in charge of my own schedule and having room for some spontaneity. <br /><br /><span style="font-size: large;"><b>5. Being The Biggest Influence In His Life.</b></span><br />I remember the first time Leo sang me a song I didn't teach him. It felt so strange to realize he was absorbing information and lessons from sources outside our family. Over the last few years those outside influence have grown. TV shows, friends, and the world at large have added to his reservoir of knowledge and shape his world view. Still, I feel pretty confidant that jb and I are still the strongest influences in his life. When he goes to school the number of hours he spends with his teachers and peer will rival his waking hours at home. I hope jb and I will remain his strongest influences - at least for a few more years, but for the first time in his life we are going to have some real competition.<br /><br />I think Leo is going to love school. I really do. He loves learning and structure and making friends. Once kindergarten rolls around we will all adjust to our new schedules and limits. I know Leo will thrive in school. Zoe will benefit from some time to be my main focus. And maybe I'll even get to pee alone. It will be fine. It will be better than fine, it will be great.&nbsp;I'm optimistic about his experience with school and I also know how fortunate we are to have these years together before he embarks on his formal education. When it's over, I'm not actually worried about the logistics of it all. We will manage to eat something in under two hours. We will learn to brave the crowds on the weekends. We&nbsp;are a very adaptable bunch and&nbsp;this will just be one more thing we grow accustomed to, but at the root of that adjustment is really that I'm just going to miss him so darn much. I'm so grateful for this time with my kids and I'm committed to making the most of this last year.<br /><br /><i>*This is of course assuming that Wolf beats Corbett in the governor race and the Philly school system can begin to rebuild itself - otherwise we may have to give homeschooling another look.</i>Sandra Telephttps://plus.google.com/115379448859608362870noreply@blogger.com1tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3023121558075366461.post-91479280366302413622014-08-27T22:01:00.000-04:002014-08-27T22:01:13.064-04:00For The Love Of Water #FWWFlowFest<div class="separator" style="clear: both;"></div><div style="text-align: left;"></div><table cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-b-2kSsJXVo4/U_3f9q63PcI/AAAAAAAAJpI/JvXOpGviD1I/s1600/blogger-image--1805785813.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" height="320" src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-b-2kSsJXVo4/U_3f9q63PcI/AAAAAAAAJpI/JvXOpGviD1I/s320/blogger-image--1805785813.jpg" width="240" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">A Swan on the Schuylkill</td></tr></tbody></table><div class="" style="clear: both;">Last week we were invited to visit Fairmount Water Works. &nbsp;The structure was home to the nation's first major urban water supply system (all the way back in 1815), and today it is an educational facility whose mission is to "foster stewardship of our shared water resources." This visit was especially well timed for our family because during our trip to Mexico last month Leo became aware of how lucky we are to have clean water at our fingertips whenever we want it.&nbsp;</div><div class="" style="clear: both;"><br /></div><div class="" style="clear: both;">He was surprised to learn that the water that comes out of the faucet in Mexico is not safe to drink - and even that water doesn't flow all the time. &nbsp;I explained to him that we are lucky in our home because we have large tanks on our roof that collect water when it is available, but some other homes only have running water in the mornings - in fact, some homes in more rural areas have to travel to a water source and carry all the water they will need that day back to their homes. &nbsp;I'm not sure if really grasped exactly how lucky we are, but when we got back home he did run to the kitchen sink and pour himself a big glass of water.</div><div class="" style="clear: both;"><br /></div><div class="" style="clear: both;">Our visit to the Fairmount Water Works answered a lot of questions he's had since he's been thinking about water, where it comes from, and where it goes when we are done using it. &nbsp;Starting with the evaporation-condensation-precipitation cycle up through the process of flushing our toilets, all the answers to his water curiosity were answered through interactive and educational exhibits (and filled in the details that my answers lacked).&nbsp;</div><div class="" style="clear: both;"><br /></div><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-JG_4e8TVa7o/U_3fpRSiNnI/AAAAAAAAJow/j8Y-8PEI43s/s640/blogger-image--1715177747.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" src="https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-JG_4e8TVa7o/U_3fpRSiNnI/AAAAAAAAJow/j8Y-8PEI43s/s640/blogger-image--1715177747.jpg" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">Learning about Rain</td></tr></tbody></table><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-o5CdnqC4PkA/U_3gC4s1aAI/AAAAAAAAJpY/jRN3BS6pfrg/s640/blogger-image--1322397857.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" src="https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-o5CdnqC4PkA/U_3gC4s1aAI/AAAAAAAAJpY/jRN3BS6pfrg/s640/blogger-image--1322397857.jpg" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">Ok, I learned some new stuff, too</td></tr></tbody></table><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">The kids participated in one of their&nbsp;<a href="http://fairmountworks.com/education/mommy-me/">classes</a> and learned about clouds. &nbsp;Leo was positively tickled to think that it's quite possible that the water he drank today was also drunk by a dinosaur. &nbsp;Leo LOVED the teacher and asked if she could be his teacher when he starts school. &nbsp;Um...I'll see if I can arrange that, kid.&nbsp;</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"></div><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-JXh5ffY-2Wg/U_3f7HT6ZiI/AAAAAAAAJpA/yXaI84HXdpc/s640/blogger-image--1669829418.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" src="https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-JXh5ffY-2Wg/U_3f7HT6ZiI/AAAAAAAAJpA/yXaI84HXdpc/s640/blogger-image--1669829418.jpg" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">Answering questions about the story about clouds</td></tr></tbody></table><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"></div><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-HfhlOcCMFeg/U_3gAMmkWhI/AAAAAAAAJpQ/WvxKcVeATo4/s640/blogger-image-1945386833.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" src="https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-HfhlOcCMFeg/U_3gAMmkWhI/AAAAAAAAJpQ/WvxKcVeATo4/s640/blogger-image-1945386833.jpg" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">Cloud science experiment</td></tr></tbody></table><div class="separator" style="clear: both;">I worried that Zoe would be too young to participate, but she loved the story time and making her own fluffy cloud. &nbsp;</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"></div><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-UDCBHVpDeA8/U_3f4Mww0JI/AAAAAAAAJo4/SsTUNNyAm50/s640/blogger-image--2054977667.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" src="https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-UDCBHVpDeA8/U_3f4Mww0JI/AAAAAAAAJo4/SsTUNNyAm50/s640/blogger-image--2054977667.jpg" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">Cloud &nbsp;art project</td></tr></tbody></table><div class="separator" style="clear: both;">General admission is FREE and it's in the perfect location to combine with a trip to the Art Museum or follow up with a picnic and a walk along the Schuylkill River Trail. &nbsp;I actually walked home along the trail - which was perfect because both kids fell asleep in the stroller and I stopped at a cafe to enjoy a latte and some quiet. &nbsp;Sign up for one of their parent/child classes or attend the upcoming<a href="http://fairmountworks.com/event/flow/"> FLOW (For The Love Of Water) Festival</a> on September 21st at 1pm (also FREE!).</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-wM6MRQV5suA/U_6GQANQwdI/AAAAAAAAJpw/xLalkBwL92M/s1600/WW_FLOW_Postcard_front-01.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-wM6MRQV5suA/U_6GQANQwdI/AAAAAAAAJpw/xLalkBwL92M/s1600/WW_FLOW_Postcard_front-01.jpg" height="320" width="220" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><br /></div><br />We got a sneak peek at some of the awesome stuff planned for the Flow Fest and it looks like it's going to be pretty rad - the splash organ alone would be worth the trip out. <br /><br />I'm glad we got a chance to explore the Fairmount Water Works - what an incredible resource. &nbsp;There is so much to learn about our Urban Watershed, the process that our water goes through to reach us, and how we can help preserve the finite supply of water we have. &nbsp;Not to mention the history of Philadelphia's water system and the beauty and historical significance of the architecture of the building. &nbsp;It is way more than we could pack into one trip. &nbsp;I look forward to returning with the kids and continuing our water education.<br /><br /><br /><br />Sandra Telephttps://plus.google.com/115379448859608362870noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3023121558075366461.post-23720968453776541412014-08-16T23:17:00.003-04:002015-03-29T12:37:01.994-04:00We Can Dig It<br /><br />Going into motherhood, I never anticipated what a large part construction vehicles would play in my life these first few years. I didn't expect I'd be able to differentiate between an excavator, backhoe and a bulldozer - but your children's interests quickly become your own. Now I know a lot more than I ever thought I would about construction (and dinosaurs, and Doc McStuffins), and I think that's one of the coolest parts of being a parent - when your kids develop an interest, learn about it, and end up teaching you a thing or two.<br /><br />Leo has been deep in construction vehicle love for a couple years now, and Zoe is right on his heels. One of our favorite pastimes is checking out construction sites. There are a few properties that have been developed in our neighborhood and we like to walk over and watch as cranes lift heavy materials or to see welders in a cherry picker make sparks fly as they work. There is something poetic about watching as a huge structure is built from the ground up. It's no wonder Leo and Zoe are so captivated by the workers translating a building from concept to reality. Leo often says that he'd love to be a construction worker when he grows up and the main motivation behind that is so that he can drive construction vehicles. What a cool dream to have, right? I didn't really think it would be a reality for many years to come - until <a href="http://diggerlandusa.com/">Diggerland</a>. <br /><br />We have been wanting to check out Diggerland since it opened and finally had the opportunity when we were invited to celebrate Diggerland's <a href="http://diggerlandusa.com/news/diggerland-usa-digs-helping-natural-disasters/">partnership</a> with <a href="http://we%20were%20there%20for%20activation%20react.%20cool%20mission.%20small%20things%20make%20a%20difference.%20jersey%20love%20with%20elizabeth.%20true%20passion.%20cool%20to%20see%20it%20being%20built%20from%20the%20ground%20up%20and%20proud%20of%20elizabeth%20for%20transforming%20it%20from%20concept%20to%20reality./">Activation ReACT</a>, a non-profit dedicated to providing ways for people of all ages to lend a helping hand during natural disasters. Activation ReACT believes that anyone, no matter how small, can make a difference. I had the privilege to work with Elizabeth Norton, Activation ReACT's founder, last year during the #JerseyLove effort and I got to witness first hand her passion for helping others. And now, one short year later, she has built this non-profit from the ground up. I'm so proud of Elizabeth for transforming her vision from concept to reality. It's a true testament to her belief that one person can make a difference.<div style="-webkit-text-stroke-width: 0px; color: black; font-family: Times; font-size: medium; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; letter-spacing: normal; line-height: normal; orphans: auto; text-align: start; text-indent: 0px; text-transform: none; white-space: normal; widows: auto; word-spacing: 0px;"><div style="margin: 0px;"><br /></div></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-lIHlWxe4HTE/U_AMt6GgXQI/AAAAAAAAJoI/2nf_g7UQkDk/s640/blogger-image--1976764587.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-lIHlWxe4HTE/U_AMt6GgXQI/AAAAAAAAJoI/2nf_g7UQkDk/s640/blogger-image--1976764587.jpg" /></a></div><br /><br /><br />And Diggerland was everything we were hoping it would be. The concept is a park that allows children and their families drive, ride, and operate heavy machinery in a safe family-friendly environment. Seriously.<br /><br /><div style="text-align: center;">KIDS GET TO OPERATE CONSTRUCTION VEHICLES.&nbsp;</div><br />This is like every 2-5 year old's dream. Zoe was just tall enough (36") to ride most of the attractions on an adult's lap which was a relief because I worried she'd be watching Leo having all the fun. She sure as heck held her own.<br /><br /><div><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-GYaAg_reQlU/U_AMwxJKE0I/AAAAAAAAJoQ/o0V_LTrp7Xo/s640/blogger-image--728282158.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" src="https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-GYaAg_reQlU/U_AMwxJKE0I/AAAAAAAAJoQ/o0V_LTrp7Xo/s640/blogger-image--728282158.jpg" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">Dig-a-round<br />A carousel where you sit in an excavator bucket!</td></tr></tbody></table><br /></div>There are courses where you actually get to drive vehicles around a maze and then some stationary equipment you can operate. We had the opportunity to drive a dumper truck and operate a digger (which was super cool because there was real dirt to pick up and move around). I had to keep reminding myself to let the kids have a chance, because it was pretty cool even for me.<br /><br />What could be better than checking out a a new construction themed amusement park with my family? Doing it in the name of a good cause! Our family had a great time and I'm so glad we got to be a part of Activation ReACT's "Activation Day."Sandra Telephttps://plus.google.com/115379448859608362870noreply@blogger.com1