Brief Update… Ready for Summer!

      No Comments on Brief Update… Ready for Summer!

I'm astounded by the fact that it has been four months since I've updated our family blog. It's always on my to-do list, but tends to get pushed to the bottom by other, more pressing, tasks. Keeping up with three kids and a house is way more time-consuming than I ever anticipated. I think my mother ill-prepared me for the likelihood that when I had children, I could literally go days without getting a quiet moment to myself or feeling like I've accomplished more than just keeping my head above water. But, I can't blame her, really. I was an only child, and by the time I reached adulthood, she'd surely forgotten the demands she and her brother placed on their parents. So, I'm left to forge my way, reliant on the advice and support of my peers, and of course, the Internet!

However, I don't waste much energy lamenting the lack of time for personal endeavors at the moment. I know it is just a season in life, and just like today's beautiful early summer evening, with its mild temperature and gentle breezes, I will savor it, knowing that there will always be a few storms to weather, but plenty of pleasant sunny days.

In the past few months, there have been, both, birthdays and anniversaries. I celebrated my 37th birthday in March, and Darren followed right behind on April 1st, welcoming in his 40th year! Mid-April was my parent's anniversary, and even though my dad has been gone for years, it always gets me reflecting on my own marriage and parenting experiences. It is a perfect segue into our anniversary in the third week of April. This year, we celebrated 17 years. So, lots of milestones.

We have already launched into summer, with the winding down of some of our homeschooling activities, as well as, Joe's Spring hockey season. We have a busy summer ahead with lots of social outings, a huge neighborhood yard sale, visits from Darren's niece and sister, our much awaited vacation to Vegetarian Summerfest in Johnston, Pennsylvania, several day trips for various events, and a long weekend up to Philadelphia and New York to celebrate Flo's 11th birthday.

The kids are all doing great. Flo is turning the corner to those pre-teen years, along with all the wonderment and drama that entails. Joe is becoming more of himself each day, still really enjoying hockey and, pretty much, any sporty activity. He's also working on a collection of matchbox cars and tiny Legos that is soon to overtake our home. Finally, there's Zofia, who will be three at the end of this summer. Everyone always talks about the "terrible-twos," but for me, three has been more of a challenge, and it seems as though Zofia is going to solidify my opinion on that. She loves her big brother and sister, and wants to be included in all their activities with their friends. She takes every opportunity, when her parents are distracted, to dig through the junk drawer, write on walls or herself, cut things up with scissors, dump all the toys we've just spent hours sorting and putting away, pester the dog, pull things out of the fridge and pantry, empty the ice machine onto the kitchen floor, and numerous other mischievous endeavors. Nonetheless, watching her learn and discover new things is an experience we're savoring, knowing it will be our last round of toddlerhood.

So, we're looking forward to a fun summer, and will try to enjoy the intended leisurely pace of the season, rather than getting caught up in our usual busy schedule. We hope everyone is well and excited about their own summer adventures! I'm sure we'll hear about them on Facebook!

Snowed In

      No Comments on Snowed In

Snowed In - February 2010

It's been an interesting week of contrasts. First, a sizeable tax return was tempered by several unexpected big expenses. Then, large amounts of snow have slowed the pace of our normal schedule, causing us to reflect on projects needing attention around the house. But, three young kids keep us feeling very busy, regardless of whether we're out and about or snowbound at home. We've made smoothies, drawn up vision boards, built Lego cities, had tea parties, read stories, watched TV and played in the snow.

Of course, the kids have loved the snow and all the fun that comes with it. Their friends in the neighborhood have all been out of school for a few days due to the weather, so there's been no shortage of social opportunities. Darren and I, on the other hand, are getting a bit of cabin fever. The federal government has closed its offices in DC for the past couple days, so Darren's had a little more free time at home. We did get out for a few errands in between storms, but not much else has transpired.

We had a lofty to-do list of projects to check off around the house, but both of us are feeling the lull of the winter weather and not initiating much with regards to housework. Thankfully, the Sears repair guy ventured out at the beginning of the storm yesterday afternoon, and replaced the perforated seal on our washing machine, so today I can resume my normal laundry routine. We were starting to get quite a "laundry mountain" going there for a few days. I'll be sure to scale that today.

Right now, Flo is at the neighbor's house, having gone over for a sleepover last night. She's most certainly is going to require some effort to return home with all her stuff through the mounting snow drifts, despite it being just around the corner. Darren is doing a reading lesson with Joe downstairs, and Zofia and I are sitting her, having yet another "tea party."

Darren is rejoicing in his victory this past summer, during which I wanted to sell our snow blower, that hadn't been used in three years and was taking up a large portion of our garage space. We agreed that if it didn't get used this year, we'd sell it in the next year's summer yard sale. Needless to say, I'm glad Darren prevailed in that dispute. He's dug us out multiple times so far this winter, and will be doing so again later this afternoon or tomorrow; whenever it stops snowing.

So, off to put together something for dinner and admire the winter wonderland outside from the warmth of our house. Stay warm!

2010 Here We Come!

      1 Comment on 2010 Here We Come!

The kids fell asleep in the last hour of 2009, so we enjoyed the quiet to watch a movie in bed while welcoming the New Year. It was a peaceful transition to the 2010, and I hope that trend continues throughout the year.

Today we were all feeling kind of stuffy and sniffly, so we lounged around most of the morning, eating breakfast sometime between 1 and 2pm… Around 3, we decided maybe we should make use of the last couple hours of daylight to get out in the world a bit and breath in some fresh(er) air. So, we took a brief ride, stopping at our friends, Eric and Jessica's, house for a couple hours. We then momentarily pondered a quick trip to the mall to get a belt for Darren, but it was closing in ten minutes when we got there, and neither of us really felt like getting out of the car again, anyway.

So, we meandered home the long way… I made the kids rice noodles and broccoli, only to discover I was out of any type of oil or sauce. We usually have a nice bottle of organic EVOO on the counter, but Darren used the last drizzle on his salad. Left with no other options, besides running to the store, I put coconut oil on the kids noodles. Let's just say, Bruno will be having a nice breakfast in the morning. (Note to self: no coconut oil on kid's noodles)

Once I rectified the kid's dinner blooper, Darren and I sat around and enjoyed sharing a big salad, some chocolate/banana pudding and tea before diverging to our own preferred activity; me writing this and him watching hockey. We have a plan to meet in bed at 10:30 to watch a movie again. Let's hope our plan for relaxation isn't thwarted by those pesky kids (I've been watching too much Scooby Doo).

So, as we start out this next year, we're looking forward to continued homeschooling adventures, furthering health and fitness goals, spending time with friends and family and just generally enjoying this time in our lives. We hope everyone is in good spirits and good health and excited about the prospects of the year to come!

Happy Holidays 2009!

      No Comments on Happy Holidays 2009!

Happy Holidays! This is a great time of year. The one time where our individual faiths culminate into a collective spirit of celebration. Although it's often a commercial spirit, the undertow of kindness and holiday cheer tug us along through the season, and (hopefully) overshadow the stress of gift-giving, food preparations and traveling.

We enjoyed a nice couple day prelude to Christmas by taking a short ride up to Grandma's on Wednesday afternoon for a little holiday celebration and gifts for the kids. Then yesterday, Darren went to work in DC in the morning, and we went to the evening service at church before coming home and opening the gifts from Darren's parents and sister, with whom we have a tradition of exchanging every year.

Thankfully, the kids got to bed by 11, so Santa could make an early rounds, and they slept in until 9am! Bonus! So, we started off the day with opening Santa's gift and a few gifts from Mom and Dad, then a simple breakfast of fruit, tea, and cereal for the kids. We listened to some holiday music, I took a quick stroll on the treadmill while watching Oprah's holiday music special and Darren took to the task of helping Joe assemble his new Lego toy.

Later, we dug out the five pounds of organic broccoli we had left from our produce co-op, and made a steamed broccoli with garlic sauce and a raw broccoli salad with a creamy hemp dressing. We purposely didn't plan a holiday dinner, just to give ourselves a reprieve from meal planning. I made a huge batch of gluten-free vegan chocolate chip oatmeal raisin cookies yesterday for the kids, so they're covered for holiday sweets, along with all their stocking goodies, too!

We rounded out the day by watching The Polar Express and I'm now hoping Zofia will soon feel the weighty pull of fatigue. She's a handful these days! I'm looking forward to checking my email, catching up on some writing and hopefully relaxing a little with Darren before we're both too tired to communicate any further today. At least we have a full weekend with nothing on the calendar. That's a great holiday treat!

Seven Years with Joe

      No Comments on Seven Years with Joe

Seven years ago today, Joe was born in the tiny bathroom of our home in Connecticut. He had a rough start in his first year with some major health issues, but he rebounded beautifully and continues to thrive. We are so happy to have him in our lives and look forward to watching and participating as his life unfolds.

Joe is very excited to be turning seven. We're celebrating simply this year with a homemade allergy-safe lemon ginger cake, a couple nice gifts from us and Grandma, lunch out at his favorite eating spot (Chipotle) and hockey practice in the evening. He'll continue his birthday weekend fun by going to Reston, Virginia on Saturday for a hockey game, and hanging out with friends on Sunday at a vegan potluck we're hosting.

Happy Birthday Joe! We love you!

Fall 2009

      No Comments on Fall 2009

I did it again! I got totally distracted by life and forgot to update our blog. Oh well. Here were are, well into the Fall season. We’ve got just over a week to go until Halloween. Darren’s parents are heading down from Canada at the end of the month to share in the festivities with us. The kids are excited to have them visit.

Flo spent at least most of the month of September debating the possibilities for her costume this year. After much indecision, she decided to use her own money to buy a costume from the costume store. She’s going to be a devil. And, considering some of the pre-teen hormonal moments we’ve been exposed to in the past few months, I’m thinking she chose wisely. Despite occasional emotional outbursts, Flo is doing great. She’s ten now, and into reading, music, ice skating, drawing, hanging out with her friends, and just being an all-around normal kid. This year she’s doing a math curriculum called Teaching Textbooks, which she really likes. She’s also doing the Rosetta Stone French program. She takes piano and guitar lessons, and does various group activities like Earth Scouts, ice skating, a creative writing club, which we host at home, and an art class.

Joe will be seven in December. He’s quite the little hockey player these days. In fact, last week, he competed in a shoot out at the Verizon Center in DC, during the intermission of an NHL game. He represented team Maryland, and his team won. He and Darren had a great time. He’s playing on our local travel team, so he and Darren have been doing most of the traveling, and I try to some of the home games and an occasional away game if it’s at a reasonable hour. He’s doing great with homeschooling, too. His reading is coming along great.

Zofia is two now, and quite the handful. She enjoys tagging along to all her siblings activities, which keep us pretty busy. She’s talking up a storm now, and loves playing with Flo and Joe. She also loves our dog, Bruno, who she affectionately calls “MoMo.”

Darren and I have been doing a 100 day raw food challenge since the end of August, which extends into mid November. We’ve seen some health improvements, and are really enjoying the challenge of coming up with new raw recipes and just tweaking our way of thinking about food. Once the 100 days are up, I suspect we’ll continue much as we have been, with slight modifications to accommodate our lifestyle with the kids and Joe’s allergies. But, it’s been sort of a creative journey, and an introspective one at that.

So, it’s starting off to be an interesting season, and despite the pending colder weather, we’re looking forward to upcoming holidays and adventures ahead.

Summer Update

      No Comments on Summer Update

Summer is in full swing, and we’re keeping busy just keeping up with three kids and all that entails. Flo is going to be ten years old this Sunday! I’m a little overwhelmed by that thought. But, as hard as it is to remember her as that little baby, it’s exciting to watch her grow and enjoy all the stages she goes through; even the tough ones.

We had our yard sale on July 4th, during the neighborhood’s annual Mile-Long Yard Sale. We pretty much cleaned out all our clutter, which was nice. We sold Zofia’s crib, which kind of marked a milestone, as well. She’ll be two next month and is a daily reminder of why it’s important to be in good shape; just so I can keep up with her!

Joe is enjoying his summer, socializing with friends, and playing hockey a couple times per week. He lost his first tooth last week. Well, the first tooth that voluntarily came out. He had a cracked tooth pulled a few years ago, so he’s looking like Jack-o-lantern Joe these days.

Our niece, Samantha, already came down from Ontario at the beginning of the month to visit and join us on our trip to Vegetarian Summerfest in Johnstown, PA. She visited for two weeks, five days of which, we spent on the University of Pittsburgh campus, enjoying the beautiful surroundings, great people, fun workshops and more than an abundant supply of vegan food. The kids had a great time doing activities in the kid’s area, and Zofia kept me busy in between lectures, meal times and Flo and Joe’s activities. We really appreciated the chance to get away and just relax, and we hope to make it an annual event.

So far, our summer is going wonderfully. The temperatures seem to have been milder this year, so the weather has just been so accommodating to outdoor activities. The kids and I have enjoyed many long walks together.

Well, another busy weekend, awaits, so I’d better get some sleep, so I can keep up!

End of Spring Update

      1 Comment on End of Spring Update

I think the time lapse since my last entry illustrates clearly, the lack of time I have to devote to writing and computer related ventures these days. Apparently, the parenting of three children takes up a considerable amount of one’s personal time. Who knew? So, since late April, we’ve been busy with the kid’s activities.

Joe generally plays hockey a few times per week, and Darren quite enjoys going to the rink, and occasionally gets a chance to skate around, too. Joe also took a soccer class for six weeks, which just ended last week. He’s quite the sporty guy these days. His energy always astounds me. He had his annual cardiac check-up today. Everything looks great. That’s always a relief.

Zofia has transitioned smoothly into the toddler phase of her life, and is keeping us on our toes at all times. She loves her older brother and sister, and is always curious about what they are doing. We see her modeling their behavior already, and are always pointing out to Flo and Joe the important role they have in her life. This doesn’t always sink in, especially when their fighting over who sits next to Zofia in the car.

Flo is growing up fast. I can’t believe she’s going to be ten this August. She loves to read, and spends so much time doing so, I often have to work hard at getting her to do anything else. She is taking ice skating lessons again, and enjoying a class that is working towards a small group performance. She had her piano recital last week, which we enjoyed attending. She’s finishing up her last guitar and piano lessons next week, and will take a break for the summer.

Speaking of Summer, we’re looking forward to our trip to Vegetarian Summerfest in Johnston, PA in July. Darren’s niece, Samantha, is coming down to join us for that. I haven’t been anywhere since before Zofia was born, so I’m definitely looking forward to a change of scenery.

The other summer event that draws a lot of attention around these parts, is the “Mile Long Yard Sale” held in our neighborhood and the ones surrounding it, all day on the fourth of July. We’re spending the next few weekends TRYING to organize our stuff, to make a valiant effort at decluttering this year.

Other than that, it’s business as usual. Darren’s still enjoying the relaxed pace of working at home, with only one weekly trip to DC to drop off his cases, and pick up more. We really are appreciative of the opportunity to have him around so much, especially while the kids are young.

We hope everyone is enjoying the emergence of the warmer weather, and has a healthy and happy summer!

Sixteen Years Together

      No Comments on Sixteen Years Together

Darren & Tara Model 1993 has upgraded to the 2009 Model… looking good… room for a few future upgrades, but boasts high functionality, ease of use, and comes with an unlimited warranty!

The past month has once again escaped me. Darren returned from his brief Italian getaway feeling revitalized. I, on the other hand, am awaiting my respite. We have, however, just registered for Vegetarian Summerfest for this summer, so I am very much looking forward to five days away on the Johnstown Campus of The University of Pittsburgh, where we can relax and I won't have to cook for anyone!

So, all is well in our world. Will write more when I come up for air!

Desperately Seeking Health and Vitality

      No Comments on Desperately Seeking Health and Vitality

Almost two months have passed since my last entry, and Florence keeps sending me emails, reminding me to update our website, so I figured I’d finally oblige. I’ve been sick for over a week now. I think I’m starting to emerge from it, but it really knocked me out. It started out as a sort of flu, then progressed into a nasty sinus infection and respiratory thing. It has not been pleasant. Darren has had to take a couple days off of work, and despite his best efforts to help out with the kids and meals and such, a lot of the housework like basic cleaning and laundry have fallen way behind. If I don’t get better soon, I’m going to have to call in support services. But, I’m hopeful the next few days will see me regaining my strength and feeling better. My birthday is on Monday, and I certainly would like to feel better before then!

Everyone’s doing well. The kids are keeping us busy. Zofia is into everything, and getting a lot more expressive. Flo is into Club Penguin and enjoys getting computer time whenever possible. Joe is rather computer savvy, too! We’ve really had to set limits on it, though, or I swear they’d sit there all day. Thankfully, we have plenty of other things to keep us busy. Flo and I have been working on writing a lot, and she and Darren have been working on a Geography/History curriculum for the United States. Joe is still progressing through some basic reading stuff, and most of the time is easy to work with. His main focus, though, is always hockey! He loves hockey!

Darren is heading to Italy next week for a short vacation to visit his good friend, Alex. He’s excited to get away for a bit and have a change of pace. We briefly pondered all going, but the cost would be way too expensive, and 2009 is our year of no credit card debt! And besides, even if we could afford for us all to go, I’m thinking that toting three young kids around Italy might not be the relaxing experience we’d be aiming for. We’d be better to try that in five or six years. We’re going to try to find something local we can do this summer for an overnight as a family that will be fun, affordable, and as relaxing as possible.

So, off to find the box of tissue and head back to bed, hopeful that Zofia is tired enough to join me. Good night!