Hi, there! It’s been a while. I have so enjoyed the response to this blog and thank so many readers for reaching out to me over these past few years, especially as I have not posted publicly in so long. … Continue reading
I’ll think that this year went by too fast.
Maybe it’s that you’ve hit so many big moments, like losing your first tooth and learning to read. The reading still amazes me because, unlike your sister, who sort of decoded over time, you just one day seemed to flip a switch and BAM!, started reading anything and everything you laid your eyes on.
Maybe – – OK, most likely – – it’s that your brother is in the last throes of the terrible twos, ordering us all around all day long, yelling and tantrumming until our heads spin. That sure makes time go by fast!
About a year ago you broke my nose at the playground. Remember that? You swung your head back as I was looking at your brother and when you hit me, you knocked me back over 15 feet!
And you still flip around the house dancing and jumping and landing, telling me, “See, I didn’t hurt myself!”
But now there is a stillness to you when you play with Legos, or hatch a plan with Molly to have dessert for breakfast. A lot has changed.
What hasn’t changed is your big heart. And your sweet disposition. No matter what, whenever anyone asks how something is, your answer is always, “It’s the best!” I hope you never lose that. And although I worry it might end up a little worse for wear, I am so happy to have a kid that wears his heart on his sleeve.
Happy 7th, you sweet little man.
One of the reasons we homeschool is so that we can travel.
It is both a blessing and a curse that I am in a perpetual state of planning for the next adventure, even when that next adventure is only back to Philly to see family for Mother’s Day.
We love our home but both my husband and I dream of someday traveling the U.S. with our kids to roam this awesome country. Seriously, my husband’s dream car is an all-wheel-drive Sprinter van!
The thought of deciding which landmarks matter, locating them, and planning a route is daunting, though – – even for a super-planner like me. For a while I was going to use the sites from World’s Largest to lead us but, as it doesn’t cover the entire country, I think I’ve found something better.
Thank goodness for smart and fun people like Randy Olson, a PhD candidate in Michigan State University’s Computer Science program, who created an algorithm using an itinerary that
- included stopping at least once in every state in the lower 48,
- only stopping at National Parks or landmarks,
- and only being able to take the trip by car.
With no traffic, this trip will take approximately 224 hours (9.33 days) of driving in total.
Here are the sites:
- Grand Canyon, AZ
- Bryce Canyon National Park, UT
- Craters of the Moon National Monument, ID
- Yellowstone National Park, WY
- Pikes Peak, CO
- Carlsbad Caverns National Park, NM
- The Alamo, TX
- The Platt Historic District, OK
- Toltec Mounds, AR
- Elvis Presley’s Graceland, TN
- Vicksburg National Military Park, MS
- French Quarter, New Orleans, LA
- USS Alabama, AL
- Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL
- Okefenokee Swamp Park, GA
- Fort Sumter National Monument, SC
- Lost World Caverns, WV
- Wright Brothers National Memorial Visitor Center, NC
- Mount Vernon, VA
- White House, Washington, DC
- Colonial Annapolis Historic District, MD
- New Castle Historic District, Delaware
- Cape May Historic District, NJ
- Liberty Bell, PA
- Statue of Liberty, NY
- The Mark Twain House & Museum, CT
- The Breakers, RI
- USS Constitution, MA
- Acadia National Park, ME
- Mount Washington Hotel, NH
- Shelburne Farms, VT
- Fox Theater, Detroit, MI
- Spring Grove Cemetery, OH
- Mammoth Cave National Park, KY
- West Baden Springs Hotel, IN
- Abraham Lincoln’s Home, IL
- Gateway Arch, MO
- C. W. Parker Carousel Museum, KS
- Terrace Hill Governor’s Mansion, IA
- Taliesin, WI
- Fort Snelling, MN
- Ashfall Fossil Bed, NE
- Mount Rushmore, SD
- Fort Union Trading Post, ND
- Glacier National Park, MT
- Hanford Site, WA
- Columbia River Highway, OR
- San Francisco Cable Cars, CA
- San Andreas Fault, CA
- Hoover Dam, NV
The realistic timeline of finishing the tour is about 2-3 months, which means that even Schoolers could take this trip on summer vacation!
Mr. Olson not only created a list of landmarks to visit, but also created a second road trip with a more urban feel with stops at the TripAdvisor-rated Best City to Visit in every contiguous U.S. state.
Here is the original post he wrote, which explains it all.
I don’t know when we will get our Sprinter. And I don’t know when we will do this trip. But with half the work done for us, I know that someday, we’ll do it. I hope you will too.
A few weeks ago the kids and I went to a family poetry workshop with educator and poet Mckendy Fils-Aime. During the workshop, participants paired up with each other to write collaborative poetry. The ultimate goal was to write a poem from two different perspectives about the same topic. JohnJohn was my partner. We wrote two poems. They are not quite Whistling Vivaldi, but Molly and Joseph keep asking me to re-read them to them anyway. Can you tell which author created which lines? Also, are we ready for our first poetry slam?
I play on my ninja surfboard.
A giant seagull circles.
I eat a sandwich. It tastes like salami.
The seagull spots my son.
I try to feed the bird some bread.
I start swinging.
I feed him food from my hand and he pokes me with his face.
I freak out, yelling and running and finally…
I feel like I want to pet him.
I knock my son down, tripping, we both fall away from him.
DESSERT AT NANA’S
I like to play my iPad in Nana’s basement.
Bellies full, we wash and dry.
Nana calls me for a snack – – flat cake.
We sip our wine.
Sweet and yellow, I want 5 pieces.
I cut up JohnJohn’s pound cake.
I yell. I DON’T WANT IT CUT UP!
I jerk my hand back, hoping he won’t see the first cut.
I CAN’T EAT THAT CAKE!
Why not? (ahhh. I should have known.)
IT’S IN PIECES!
I finish my wine and cut another slice.
Congratulations to Rachel D., the winner of the Youth Digital Mod Design 1 Giveaway!
Thanks to all who participated. I wish everyone could have won!
They are already listed at $199.99. If you take the additional 20% off by adding the coupon code, each course comes down to $159.99. Not bad!
If you do take the 3D Animation course, I’d love to hear about it. We bought the App Design 1 (which, sadly, is not on discount) course for Molly, which she will be starting after Christmas.
Happy Thanksgiving! As I sit here in my kitchen, waiting for my family to arrive from New York to start a new holiday season, I can’t help feeling a bit nostalgic. Things are changing this year. The Thanksgiving celebration on my side of the family has gotten smaller. The location of the Christmas Eve gala on my husband’s side is moving to the next generation. All of the grandchildren are out of diapers this year (thanks, JohnJohn)! And the first of the grandkids is getting married in May. Time marches on and torches are passed.
I wrote this piece about a year ago and still come back to it when I need a reminder of what is important. I hope you have a great Thanksgiving and that you make lots of meaning this year!
These are not stuffed mushrooms. Well, they are. And so good that I ate almost ½ a tray by myself. But they are way more than bread, onions, mushrooms, garlic and spices. For, you see, I helped make them with my sister-in-law for our Christmas Eve feast just as she has been making them to bring to Christmas Eve for over a decade.
She’s been making them so long that I don’t really remember Christmas Eve without them. Just as my husband doesn’t remember Christmas Eve without at least seven fishes and dozens of family members of every age and sometimes friends coming together for the day. Like so many other families, my husband’s big Italian family holds Christmas Eve as the most hallowed of days. It is not just about the birth of Christ, although we are primarily a Catholic family. And it is not because of the presents even if the presents are pretty fun. And it is not really about seeing each other. Most of us see each other pretty regularly. It’s not even about food, although, admittedly, we do all love to eat.
OK. It is about all those things. But it is so much more than that. I have learned since joining my husband’s family over 15 years ago, and especially since having my three children, that it is really about the extra special effort that every single member of the family makes every single year to prioritize that time together and to hold it sacred above all else. No matter what.
They make that day and that time mean something special because of all of the effort that goes into it. It’s Nana and Grandpop, who start shopping for stocking stuffers for all 13 grandchildren in October, review and prepare menus in November, and set tables weeks ahead of time (OK, Mom, if you’re reading this, I know it is probably only a day or two ahead of time ;)). It’s the aunts, who cull Christmas lists to get their “something special” for each child, one of whom manages to find matching pajamas in every size from 24-months up to men’s medium. It’s the kids, who give up time on their “idevices” and really do try to look and behave their best for their elders, even if it means wearing a skirt instead of jeans. It’s the fact that every person there is there on purpose to be together and they prepare for it and look forward to it all the year through.
Sometimes I worry that Christmas is too commercialized and that as a parent I am a puppet of the major kids companies targeting my children. And sometimes I fret that I spoil my kids when we perpetuate the myth of Santa Claus even a little bit (we don’t really do it full tilt). And then I think of those crab cakes. And talking to my mother-in-law mid-December as she and my father-in-law are making pecan rolls, debating whether this year they are, in fact, the absolute best they ever made.
I remember how it was at Christmas Eve dinner when my father-in-law shared the news with the whole clan that my husband and I were expecting our first baby and I can still hear the raucous cheers that followed. I laugh at my son counting the kids and the stockings to see if they really match up as my daughter writes out each name in a neat list. And I reminisce about how, when I first joined this merriment, the oldest of the grandchildren in this family were still in diapers. Those babies are now in college. And last year, as I watched my oldest niece stuffing mushrooms with my own daughter, it finally dawned on me.
Whether you believe in Jesus Christ or Santa Claus or someone else or nothing, it is up to each of us to make the Meaning in our lives. And like every other good thing I am trying to teach my children, it takes work. It takes effort. We can do it alone but it is easier if you have other people to help you. If you are lucky, like me, you find people who work as hard (or harder) than you to do it. And if you are really, really, lucky, like me, those people will also happen to make a wicked stuffed mushroom.
It’s true. We get knocked down but we get up again. You’re never going to keep us down!
To see the video that inspired this message, click here.
I’m waking you up with Sonic The Hedgehog cupcakes, glad that Daddy takes off from work for all our birthdays, and that all five of us are together today.
I laugh at how Daddy, in trying to give you a more “grown up” name this year, came up with “Grape Juice Juicy JohnJohn”. Seriously, (I’m looking at you, Molly and Joseph), I cannot believe that it caught on!
When I think of 2, JohnJohn, I’d ride the rails with you again.
I will do the conga all over again with Molly and Joseph as we watch you march off into your new pre-school with Miss Suzie. Then I will carry my heart in my throat the rest of the day after Suzie calls me to tell me that you threw up. Thankfully, that only lasted two days.
I will pity poor Joseph, as I count how many times I made him play “Ninjas” or “Star Wars” or “Smash Bros.” with you this year. He’s so good to you. He deserves how much you adore him.
I am blown away all over again at how, at Grandpop’s birthday weekend, you informed EVERYONE you met that you were getting Power Ranger underwear and wouldn’t need diapers anymore. I still can’t believe that after I found the undies in the clearance bin at the store the next day, even though they were a size 6, you put them on and never wore diapers again.
Gosh, I’ll miss the day I don’t overhear Molly turning into a horse as you “morph-forr” her with your Red Ranger Morpher.
I can smell that camel from here. As I should. We’ve spent a lot of time with (and money on) Good Old Benny!
I’ll read Molly’s birthday card to you and wish I had a sister like her.
I’ll hear you yelling at the top of your lungs “I JUST WANT TO SNUGGA YOU, MOMMY!” I’ll try to be annoyed because you’re yelling it while I am trying to take my first pee alone in days, but it won’t work. Truth is, I just want to snugga you too.
I’ll stop to think how fast this is all going. You three are best friends. My birthday wish for you is that you always will be.
Happy birthday, Grape Juice! We are all glad that you were born.