Category Archives: family

The Truth of About “Going Screen-Free” this Summer!

time_unplug_children_summerI wish I could say it was a great epiphany or the culmination of the study of great parenting journals that helped me arrive at the decision to go screen-free for the summer.  No, it was nothing like that at all, it was an honest to goodness, full-blown, hissy fit. One of those not to be proud of parenting moments wherein you make a loud, impactful declaration from which you cannot back down.  Such is the birth of our screen free summers! Continue reading


New Summer Bucket List 2014 – Download Today!

Crazy as it may seem, we are more inclined “to do something”, if we write it down. Using this principle, I set out to make our summers full of “doing” and the summer bucket list is as much fun to create as it is to complete!

summer bucket 2014Since my children were very little we have had a summer bucket list and we continue to use it with our teenagers today.  It’s a great way to get input from everyone ~ because no two “perfect summers” look the same!  We also go screen free from June 1st to September 1st hence the need for the list!  That will be a story for a future blog post!

Some years our list included elaborate vacation plans while other years we focused on a theme.  There was the year of the sea shell, the year of visiting and last year, was the year of travel.

The list has space for movies, people to see, things you won’t do this summer and more.  Children love to fill this out and you will be surprised how simple and easy some of their requests are to fulfill.  I hope you enjoy this activity with your family.  Love to hear what is on your bucket list!



Instantly Outnumbered

copies from old computer backed up oct 08 085As my book nears its completion (yup almost there, really, I’m pretty sure). I thought I would add some excerpts to spark your interest or perhaps amuse you.

“Instantly Outnumbered”

(excerpt from Barbies in the Horse Bin, Living Better with Organized Children)

I knew that I was having twins by my 12th week of pregnancy. I did not know that I had two babies to care for until they were wheeled into the recovery room, side by side, in one bassinet. They were just lying there, two hats, two blankets, two babies.

My memory of this moment is one of the most vivid of my life. I took a deep breath and apparently said aloud, “there are two of them”.  At this point the nurse looked at me with sheer amazement and asked, “Didn’t you know you were having twins?” As I recovered from the initial shock of seeing two babies, together, I replied, “Yes, yes I knew I was having twins, I just didn’t KNOW I was having twins.”

And so it begins, my new normal, instantly outnumbered by babies, forever changed and yet forever blessed. While I had always considered myself to be a relatively organized person, this new normal would challenge everything I thought I knew about being organized. I was instantly out-numbered, counting the two year old sister, there were three babies, all in diapers!

When people saw us coming, triple carriage and all, the most frequent comment I received was “Oh, God bless you.”  My response was always the same, “He already has.”  The twins will be 14 next week and together we have learned to live better everyday.    My mantra when they were young was: “You will never miss out on anything just because you are twins, we will make it happen.”  So far so good since we became instantly outnumbered!

All Aboard! Setting out to see “the States”

It’s official, we are setting out to see the states!  The United States ~ the country we call home.1017615_10152101119519014_1702857193_n

After much deliberation and debate we have concluded that the best way for this family of five to see the states is by …. wait for it… TRAIN!  Thirty days, 12 segments and as many contiguous states that we can cram into one trip!  (For more information, click here AMTRAK USA RAIL PASS).

How did we arrive at this decision you might ask?  Well, it goes something like this…. I have always wanted to travel cross country and I anticipated that I would be doing it like the Griswolds (if you are unfamiliar check the video reference in our last camping trip post).  The Griswolds less the dead grandmother on the roof!

Seriously, my vision involved renting an RV and spending a summer month leisurely riding across America with my family.  I’ll admit I’m an optimist and an adventure seeker, but thankfully, I also possess a very practical and realistic mindset.  The idealistic version in my head collided with reality and produced these frightening truths about my family’s ability to drive across country together:

1)  I actually do not like to drive ~ I am a great passenger!

2)  My family loves each other but let’s face it my teenage children do not get along like the Brady Bunch.

3) Our marriage like most marriages has its strengths, however, after 2 decades together I am quite certain that getting lost while driving in a new city is not one that brings out the best in us.

4) The idea of driving a large RV, repeatedly parking and setting up in campsites, and copious amounts of gasoline all worked against this once dreamed of idea.

Enter the train plan.  Many years ago I traveled through Europe on a Eurail Train Pass and it was the time of my life.  A few google searches later and I stumbled upon the Amtrak multi-city pass.  For Christmas we surprised our children with the plan and gave them their first assignment, to choose the one city they can’t miss on our trip.  (Our only caveat was to start 10-12 hours outside of the northeast since that is within driving distance of our home and can be saved for a later adventure).

Now I need your help, my fellow bloggers and followers.  What advice can you share about train travel?  Where should we go?  What cities, places, adventures should not be missed on our next great adventure?  Any and all suggestions are most welcome!

Mom’s Christmas Card Photos ~ A tradition I love…

DSC02071Every year, for 16 years straight, we have managed to take a family photo for the Christmas card.  Sometimes it is the whole family of five, most of the time it is just the kids, and every now and then it includes one or two canines. This year was no exception and below is a quick glimpse of our “organized chaos” in 2013.

The family photo for Christmas is not a unique tradition by any means, it is however one that I have fiercely protected year after year.  Like many good ideas, and well meaning intentions, traditions for us  have started and stopped over the years.  For some inexplicable reason I remain adamant about keeping this tradition and it wasn’t until I was questioned about it this year, that I truly realized why.

Each year the photo is blown up to an 8×10 size and framed for the living room wall.  Sixteen photos now proudly hang, some are great pictures and some, well, I would possibly retake them, if I could.  It is not just the sequential marking of the passage of time that each photo represents, it is definitely something more.

One of my teenagers asked me, in that oh so delightful teenage tone, “why do we have to do this every year?”  I really had to think about my answer.  The truth is, it is the story behind every photo, not so much the photo itself.

It is the full family version, taken at the local portrait studio, that has the parents laughing, but all three kids looking petrified.  I explained to my children that their dear auntie was helping that year and that she was jumping up and down and making faces behind the cameraman.  Obviously, by the blank stares on your little faces in the photo, you did not find it nearly as funny has your parents did.

There is the year, I thought putting all of you  in a large Santa sack was a “cute” idea. IMAG0858 Thankfully the picture was taken prior to the tipping over of the large sack causing heads to knock together and ending in tears.

There is the photo taken at the boardwalk of one of our lovely beaches.  Look closely and you will see that everyone is freezing cold, red noses, watery eyes and hugging themselves.  That is the year that your Papa died, unexpectedly,  in October.  That could have been the year that the photos stopped, but something made me decide that a picture by the ocean he loved was just what we needed.  Too bad it is so chilly in December, in New England!

I showed my eldest child the very first Christmas photo.  It was taken on the IMAG0855 (2)floor of her bedroom in our first apartment, a place she does not remember.  Pre-digital days, this photo required 24 attempts on a roll of film that was rushed off to the pharmacy in the hope that one would come out okay.  You took off your hat, the dog (Norman Bates) lost his bow, in some pictures you crawled away and in others he put his head down.  Twenty-four takes and one success!    I would later make a collage of these photos on one of the earliest versions of Photoshop with the help of a middle school student who was serving detention in my classroom.

My daughter now uses the photo as her facebook profile and my sons were intrigued by my willingness to let a student on detention “work off” his misbehaviors.  I also had to explain how “rolls of film” worked and why you didn’t snap a photo of just anything.

So after wrestling with our dogs for the 2013 photo and reliving the history of past photos with my family, I was left thinking, when should I stop?  When they go to college? When they have families of their own? Next year, when the boys enter high school?

The more I thought about it the more I realized that I don’t think I will stop.  There will be a reason to be home from college for an afternoon, or to stop by when their work schedules get busy, or to visit when they have children of their own.  It’s time for Mom’s Christmas Card Photo – a tradition she loves.