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I love fall… the bright yellow, red and oranges leaves against a clear blue sky, the blazing heat of summer turned to perfectly pleasant crisp days. It’s cool enough for a sweater in the morning and just warm enough to take it off in the afternoon. It’s a cozy, snuggly time—we’ve had a few fires in the fireplace already–more for ambiance than warmth but soon enough it will be cold enough to have a fire every night. It’s also the time of year when I start to get excited for the upcoming holidays—Halloween, Thanksgiving and for our family, Christmas. Often by this time in October we’ve seen a flake or two of snow but not so far. That’s ok with me. As much as I love the cooling temperatures and the impending first snowfall, my tolerance for winter quickly wains after the New Year begins. So for now, I’m going to soak in all of the excitement and enthusiasm, cherished traditions and the apple cider that I can. My childhood memories of fall include apple picked, the haunted house at the town hall and of course, jumping in piles of fallen leaves.

Last weekend we practiced one of our annual fall traditions: we went to a local pumpkin patch. We jumped in hay bales, we climbed through an amazing tree house full of ladders and rope bridges, we fed some sheep and goats, road a pony and toasted marshmallows over a bonfire. The weather couldn’t have been better. We also did something last weekend that not all parents of young children might do: we visited the super spooky Halloween Store that’s taken up temporary residence in an empty spot in our neighborhood shopping center. My girls have never been afraid of the skeletal hands, the glowing red eyes and sharp teeth on display in these store and in fact, they love stepping on the buttons that make hideous creatures shriek or jump or pop up from behind a gravestone. I wasn’t sure Cooper would feel the same but I took him anyway. As it turns out, he’s just like his sisters. When the towering plastic ghouls leered at him, he stuck out his tongue and waggled his fingers right back at them. He wasn’t a bit scared.

Lauren, Kate and Cooper have also been engaging in a long standing American autumn tradition, dating back as far as apple pie itself: jumping in leaf piles. This always makes me chuckle because I remember doing it myself. My sister and I would rake leaves into the biggest, fluffiest-looking pile we could and then, with great anticipation, we would get a running start and launch ourselves into the middle of the mound. We were sure that the landing would feel just like landing in a heap of silk pillows. WrongAnd yet, I remember being surprised every time that the damp, scratchy leaves, which flattened into a few centimeters of decaying-vegetation when I landed bum first on the hard ground, didn’t feel good at all. This childhood rite of passage truly exemplifies how the idea of something is, quite often, not as wonderful as the real thing, and yet, year after year, generation after generation, children continue to pile up leaves and jump into them. They don’t let reality get in the way of having fun. They just keep believing that if they make the next leaf pile a little bigger, landing in them will be AWESOME.

Cooper, age 3

Do you enjoy fall with your family? What traditions do you do with your little ones every year at this time? And have your tried jumping in a pile of leaves as adult? If so, was it awesome?



I love blogging. I love writing about my experiences with my kids, sharing ideas and tips, and getting feedback and hearing the opinions of the readers who leave comments. For the most part, I try to keep my blogs upbeat and positive, even while discussing something challenging–like a hospital stay with a sick child or the never-ending cycle called housework. But just for fun, here are a few examples of blogs I might write, followed by what I might really be thinking:


Instead of:

10 Fun and Easy Ways to Braid Your Little Girl’s Hair

I want to write:

Crew Cuts: The New Look for Girls in 2014

Instead of:

Six Recipes that Will Appeal to Even the Pickiest of Eaters

I want to write:

Welcome to the Trough: Self-Service Dinner at Our House

Instead of:

Sibling Rivalry: Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?

I want to write:

The Trampoline: The Cage Fighting Ring Right in Our Backyard

Instead of:

Date Night, Keeping the Spark Alive

I want to write:

Date Night, What’s That?

Instead of:

Holiday Recipes to Try With Kids

I want to write:

Flour, Sugar, Raw Eggs, and Too Many Bossy Little Helpers Elbowing Each Other Off the Stool: A Recipe For Disaster


If you could write a snarky blog today, what would you call it?

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I am far from a jock. I am not a fitness guru either. I don’t do yoga and I have a deathly fear of group aerobics classes. But I try to stay in shape in the limited time that I have between school drop offs and pick ups, grocery shopping, dentist appointments and all of the rest of parental duties we all have.

We are members of the YMCA so I have access to the daycare for two hours a day. But I don’t always make it. And I love to exercise outside in the fresh air so that I can get both the kids and our crazy little dog burning off their excess energy at the same time. Kate’s first grade class had a play date yesterday so the kids and parents could get to know each other better. It was about a mile and a half away and I had so much to do that I knew if I was going to get the dog walked and get any exercise myself, it was going to involve having Kate ride her bike while Clover and jogged behind her.

One confession I must make is that I.Hate.Running. I hate it. I have bad memories of doing the Presidential Fitness Test and having to run the mile in grade school. I had exercise induced asthma as a child so I was the kid gasping and crying trying to finish. Now my idea of pleasant exercise involves running and walking on the treadmill while plugging my headphones in to watch some daytime TV (a treat for me since I don’t watch any TV during the day at home). I’d rather hike outside but hiking with the kids (and trying to get exercise myself) just doesn’t work. They are still young enough that we go very slowly and stop about every three feet because they need to look at a bug, pick up a pretty rock or whine about how tired their legs are

Having Kate ride her bike while the dog and I followed turned out to be a great solution. In fact, my slightly paranoid parental instinct kicked in as we rode past driveways, the public shopping center and constant traffic (and we were even on  the sidewalk!). Nothing makes you run like chasing after a child you are afraid might forget to stop before coming to an intersection! The agony of sprinting, trying to catch my breath and cramping muscles all go unnoticed while Mommy Adrenaline is pumping through my veins. It’s an amazing experience really. The fight or flight response to stress and danger allows ordinary people do extraordinary things when they need to and for me, sprinting that fast, for that long, is truly unnatural–but when I am chasing my baby, I don’t even feel it.

My view as the dog and I sprinted to keep up with Kate. This is staged of course! I was like "Pant, gasp. I need you to stop for a minute so I can get a picture for my blog. Wheeze!"

My view as the dog and I sprinted to keep up with Kate. This is staged of course! I was like “Pant, gasp. I need you to stop for a minute so I can get a picture for my blog. Wheeze!”

Often when I try to exercise at home–doing sit-ups, the plank or lifting my little weights, I find myself being treated like a piece of gym equipment…suddenly mom looks like something to jump on, climb up or balance on. I suppose it just adds to the workout when you are constantly dodging, lifting and carrying the extra weight of a toddler.

How do you incorporate your little helpers in your exercise routine?





Cooper, at 2 months, doing his favorite thing in the world at the time.

It’s hard to believe that about one year ago, right around this time, Cooper finally weaned. I say finally, only because he was over two and half years old, but not because I particularly wanted him to wean. As with my other two children, the experience was bittersweet. Breastfeeding for me was a wonderful and easy way to comfort my babies and bond with them. When it ended it was liberating in a way, but a symbolic moment of “growing up” for my children and a reminder to me that I will not always be the center of their universes. We are raising them with the hopes that they will one day leave the safety of the home nest and soar off to a successful and happy life, complete with their own nests.

I always knew I would nurse my children, from the time I was very young and watched friends and family nurse their babies. If I count the total months I spent breastfeeding our three children, I get a grand total of 73 months. I guess I can cross that off my bucket list! But when I finally experienced what I expected to be a blissful and beautiful moment, I was surprised by something. How much it hurt!

When my body was going through the many changes that occur during pregnancy, like most women, I experienced incredibly tender breasts. I should have guessed that having a baby latch on wasn’t going to tickle but honestly, it never even crossed my mind. I just pictured a quiet moment with my baby and I gazing into each others’ eyes. I didn’t imagine that my eyes would be red and watering or that I would biting my lip trying not to scream.

Breastfeeding. Pain. For the first few weeks the two went hand in hand for me and they do for many women. It was the worst during the few minutes of nursing, before my milk let down or when I was engorged. Then it would get better. I remember being, after about six weeks of breastfeeding, pain-free! It was amazing and liberating and Lauren went on to nurse for 15 more months. I didn’t experience anymore pain while nursing–until she started biting!

When our second daughter was born, breastfeeding was much easier. My nipples were (ahem) broken in, so to speak. Not only was she able to latch on much more easily because of this, it was much less painful from the get go. Kate nursed until she was almost two and a half years old.

Whenever I have a friend who is expecting a baby and plans to nurse, the one piece of advice I always offer is not to feel discouraged by first few weeks of nursing. You may not experience any discomfort while breastfeeding or you may find it is fairly uncomfortable for the first few weeks. The good news is, it does get better and I found that toughing it out was well worth the benefits for both me and my babies.

**I would like to add, as a bit of disclaimer, that I know breastfeeding can be a sensitive topic for women who choose not to, or are unable to breastfeed. Know that I do not judge! My mother nursed me for six weeks and then had to go back to work and from that point on, I had a bottle. Could she have pumped and continue to breastfeed? Probably, but she didn’t and that’s ok with me. I love her just the same and I turned out just fine being a formula fed baby!