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The Spring List 2019

As Kelly of Lovewell Blog would say, spring is my fourth favorite season.  It just doesn’t speak to me.  Between the fluctuating temperatures, the soaring pollen counts, the crowds of cherry blossom tourists, and the weeks of juggling work, home and school responsibilities before the exhale of summer, I’m usually frazzled and over it.  There are certain consolations to the season – flowers, for instance.  And longer days, and the approach of summer.  And – of course – the fun of working my way through a list of seasonal delights (while hopped up on Allegra).  Here’s what I’m thinking this year:

  • A MUST: hike the Bluebell Loop Trail at Bull Run during peak week.
  • Help Peanut and Nugget hunt for eggs in the churchyard after a joyous Easter service.
  • Host my mother-in-law, my parents and our dear family friends on successive weekends in April.
  • Stock up on the gear that Steve and I will need for our kayaking trip to the San Juan Islands this summer.  My REI dividends just arrived and will be put to good use!
  • Related: get into eco-touring shape with regular gym-going during the week and weekend paddling as soon as the boathouse opens.
  • Read Wives and Daughters, by Elizabeth Gaskell.
  • Clear the winter detritus off the back patio, stock up on herbs, veggies and fruit (!!!) and get my container garden started for the season.
  • Get my dad’s old camera fixed and cleaned, and start shooting film.
  • Listen to the new Decemberists limited edition EP, Traveling On, on my record player by an open window.
  • Take a photography walk with my dSLR through my neighborhood once the blossoms are out.

So much of my spring to-do list, every year, is about shifting seasons.  Dusting off winter, preparing for summer.  But I hope that I take some time to appreciate the season and the particular glories that spring brings.  Sometimes I forget to do that, and I need to remind myself.

What is on your springtime agenda?

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Four Fun

Dearest, sweetest, cuddliest, cutest, munchkinest, puppiest prince,

You are FOUR!  How is that possible?  How have you been here on this planet, making it a sweeter place, for four entire years?  I could have sworn the nurses were just laying six pounds, nine ounces of you in my arms for the first time, but here you are three feet tall and brimming over with joie de vivre, and I really don’t know where the time has gone.

You are SO looking forward to your birthday party at Pump It Up! this weekend.  You’ve been dreaming of this day for months, even before you’d been there yourself.  We walked into a birthday party at the very swank Army Navy Club a couple of months ago, and you looked around at the grand staircase and chirped hopefully, “I think this is Pump It Up!”  It wasn’t, but you got to go the next day (accompanying your sister to a birthday party for one of her friends) and soon you’ll get to sit in the inflatable throne yourself, and I know you’re going to be just gleeful about it.  I can’t wait to watch.

Really, you’re such a fun guy.  You’re getting quite the sense of humor, and you love to tell jokes.  Most of them fall flat, but hey – you’re four.  You always get a laugh out of “Knock, knock!  (Who’s there?)  Fix!  (Fix who?)  Fix the doorbell, it’s broken!”  So that’s your go-to.  But you’re always looking for the next hit.  (Recently: “How do you pick up a house?  WITH ANOTHER PERSON BECAUSE IT’S HEAVY!”  I couldn’t argue with your logic.)

For all I have tried not to press gender norms on you, you are 100% boy.  You love trucks – fire engines, still, and construction vehicles – and boats, climbing on everything, pushing your sister’s buttons, riding your bike, and being attached to my side every moment of the day.  You are a gigantic mama’s boy, and I LOVE it.

You’re sports crazy, and you love working off your puppy energy by kicking a soccer ball all around the field near our house.  You’ve also gotten very interested in football, and Daddy finally has a buddy to watch his beloved Bills with.  You have to wear your Bills jersey almost every weekend, so I guess that’s it.  The next battlefield will be baseball, and this is important: do not listen to Daddy.  This is a Nationals household.

Another love: your sister.  You two fight like cats and dogs, but when you turn on the sweetness, you can really melt hearts.  Lately, she’s been trying to get you to call her “Mama.”  I do not appreciate this.

(See what I mean about the Bills jersey?  We can’t get it off you.)

You’re still a Darth Vader kind of guy, although you’ve expanded your fandoms to include Ghostbusters, thanks to your best buddy, who loves Peter Venkman as much as you love Anakin Skywalker.  Daddy has enjoyed introducing you to the classic Ghostbusters movie and to The Real Ghostbusters cartoon, but we have been less excited about all the nights you’ve spent in our bed due to scary dreams.  You’re probably sleeping with us five nights out of seven these days.  We’re all a little tired, but it won’t last forever, and I for one will miss the snuggles when you’re back in your own bed full-time.  Another recent fandom: the Marvel universe, and Spider-Man in particular.  I think it’s pretty cool that you’re getting into comics, although the last thing we needed was for you to imagine radioactive spiders in your room at midnight.

Here’s another of your recent obsessions: air hockey.  (Thanks, Grandad.)  You cheat on every point and you change the rules whenever you’re losing despite your cheating.  Yet somehow it’s still really fun to play with you.

You’re a total library kid.  We’re at our local branch every weekend without fail – you and me, at least.  Sometimes your sister joins us, but more often, it’s just the two of us.  You love to pull all the stuffed animals (you call them “lovies”) out and scatter them all over the floor, and you insist on checking out at least fifteen books every week.  I hope you grow up to be as big of a bookworm as your sister is.

(These are your “happy feet pajamas,” because you “dance so well in them.”  I can’t explain.)

I think we disagree on one fundamental point.  You see, you think you’re all grown up, and I think you’re still a baby.  When I see you running and jumping and climbing, racing down the hall at school into your classroom, or watching Jurassic World without batting an eye even during the scariest parts, I have to concede that you do have a point… maybe.  But then you fall asleep like this…

…or like this.  And you are SUCH a baby that my heart just explodes.  You’re my gift, my delight, and my heart’s joy.  You have taught me new ways of loving and looking at the world.  Every day I am grateful for the opportunity to be your mom, and I try to be worthy of you.

Happy birthday, buddy.  Thanks for being my boy.

Love,

Mama

 

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After a banner fall of checking every single item off my seasonal to-do list, winter was decidedly less successful.  It was a busy season at work, which I don’t mind – I’d rather bank the hours now and have a cushion so I can take some time away from my desk in the summer months – but that led to more general tiredness, lack of motivation to go out and do all the things on the weekend, and less time for family fun.

  • Take a snowy (hopefully) weekend getaway to the mountains.  Didn’t happen.
  • Bake an olive oil citrus cake.  I put this on the list every year – this year, it’s happening!  Narrator: it didn’t.
  • Take Peanut to her first movie in the theater.  There was nothing appealing.
  • Make progress on cleaning out the basement.  Out of desperation, I’m calling this one partially done.  I did get through some purging in the basement and elsewhere in the house, and sent several items off to new homes through my Buy Nothing community, but I didn’t get as far as I’d hoped and I still have a very long way to go.
  • Take the kids to play at Badlands.  Nope.
  • Read some Dickens.  Nope.  I had Great Expectations in mind and that does seem like a good one for curling up on a snowy day, with a cup of tea and a roaring fire.  A few problems, though: (1) my fireplace is blocked by Steve’s gigantic TV; (2) snowy days are not relaxing anymore, thanks to two kids who are invariably home from school and climbing the walls; and (3) my library stack didn’t allow for much reading off my own shelves this season.
  • See Huckleberry Finn’s Big River at the Adventure Theatre.  We did this!  I gave the tickets to Steve as a Christmas gift, and it was a lot of fun.  Mark Twain is his favorite author, and he loved the show.  Peanut is getting to be an old hand at the theatre and she was enchanted with the performance.  Nugget’s experience was a little less ideal.  It was his first live theatre performance and he enjoyed most of it, but as we crept up on the sixty minute mark he ran out of patience, and I had to carry him screaming out of the theatre.  Apologies to the cast and the other theatre-goers… he’ll get there.
  • Go ice skating on the Empire State Plaza in Albany.  Oof.  We didn’t have time during our trip up north for the holidays, so I decided to change this goal to “go ice skating at the National Gallery ice rink.”  But then there was the government shutdown, and that ice rink was shuttered for over a month.  Then I changed the goal to “go ice skating at least once, somewhere” and that hasn’t happened either.  Which is a real bummer.
  • Take Peanut to see Angelina Ballerina: The Musical in Gaithersburg.  Done!  This was a lot of fun.  We had lunch in an Italian restaurant and then saw the show together in late January.  Peanut is finally getting to the point where she’s a lot of fun to hang out with.  We really enjoyed ourselves.
  • Complete a “vegan for 100 days” challenge.  Hmmmm – half done.  I was going strong for awhile, but I started making exceptions – first for good reasons, like fondue night at our friends Stephen and Nancy’s house, and then for less good reasons, and eventually I fizzled out.

So – not exactly a successful season, at least not by this measure.  But we’ve had fun family walks, read some good books, and baked a lot of bread, so I can’t say I’m unhappy with the way this winter has gone.  I could have done with fewer snow days and school delays, but what can you do?  It’s winter.

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Somewhere around November of 2017, I realized that my Instagram friend Heidi had been methodically working her way through a challenge to hike 52 times in a year.  I thought that was pretty hardcore and I was duly impressed.  A little digging revealed that I could sign up to do the challenge myself and, well, I have no self-control when it comes to things like that.  I few keystrokes and clicks of the mouse later, I was officially a 52 Hike Challenger for 2018.

I was already behind by the time I got started, thanks to several weeks of face-shatteringly cold weather that saw us hunkered down inside, not hitting the trails.  (It was so cold that taking out the garbage was like a Polar expedition.)  We finally made it out onto the first trail of the year three weeks into 2018, and we started with Theodore Roosevelt Island, which seemed appropriate.

Over the course of the year, we did mostly hiked together as a family.  We did everything from short, easy trails (like the Story of the Forest Trail in Shenandoah National Park)…

To our fourth Adirondack high peak – Big Slide.

We chased away sadness on the trail.

Hiked with friends of the human and canine variety.

Shared our favorite places with family.

Summited an Adirondack mountain as a family.

And wandered through a glory of Virginia bluebells.

At final count, I think I did about forty-nine of the fifty-two hikes with the kiddos.  (Steve and I made Big Slide a day date, and I hiked Belle Isle and Section C of the Billy Goat Trail alone.)  Hiking with kids is a different experience – think less distance, more logistics.  We had to make sure we had a plan for carrying them if they lost their momentum mid-hike, that we were stocked with snacks, and that we were prepared for any weather.  Kids won’t tough it out the way adults will if they’re hungry or cold, and they can’t cover the same sorts of distances or elevation change – that’s just common sense.  But hiking with them was so rewarding, all the same.

My littles have grown up on the trails, so they’re pros – as kids go.  And it’s totally worth it to impart the lessons of perseverance, teamwork, and respect for the Earth; I don’t think there’s any better way to teach those things than to spend time in nature – a lot of time, and regularly as part of the family routine.  They definitely have their moments, and they are most certainly not always good.  But they’re pretty solid hikers.

The downside to the 52 Hike Challenge?  I had almost no time to do anything else.  Forget Saturday mornings wandering the farmers’ markets, forget ice skating on a winter’s afternoon, and definitely forget kayaking.  I only made it out for one paddle all year long.  (That’s not going to be the story of 2019.)  I loved spending so much time on the hiking trails in 2018, but as the year wore on I started to grow more frustrated that I couldn’t do anything else because I would fall behind on the challenge.  Especially after a summer of not hiking as much as anticipated (partly due to bad weather, and partly to a family tragedy that completely changed the dynamic of the summer) I had no margin at all with the challenge.  A hiking vacation got me almost back on course over the summer, and a few weekends of back-to-back hikes helped, too.  I did end up hitting #hike51 with a few weeks to spare, and was able to plan a special hike to celebrate #hike52.

But, still – it did feel like I couldn’t do anything else for most of the year.  I have limited time for adventuring, and while I love hiking and want trail time to be a part of every month, I’d like a more varied diet of family fun and activity.  I’d like to be able to go out for a run, train for a race, or do things like cross-country ski in the winter and paddle in the summer without worrying that choosing those activities instead of a hike is going to put me behind on a goal.  So consistent with my no-resolutions 2019, I’m not going to take on any specific challenges this year.  I’m going to take my adventures as they come, and enjoy them, without worrying about goals or checklists or calendars.

That said, I couldn’t be happier that I did do the #52HikeChallenge.  It was a fun and exciting goal to work towards all year, and I loved the built-in motivation to find new trails to explore (because who wants to hike in the same park every week for an entire year?).  It took me to trails in five different states (Virginia, D.C., Maryland, Massachusetts and New York) and delivered fresh air, quality time with family and friends, and lots of great exercise.  And I loved every second.

Thanks for a memorable year on the trail, #52HikeChallenge!

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Christmas 2018

Merry, merry, merry – one more time – my friends! I know we’re at January 4 now, but I can’t miss recapping our Christmas weekend; it was too much fun, as always. New Year’s content will start next week. In the meantime, let’s close out December.  Our Christmas festivities started on the Friday before; I took the afternoon off and enjoyed one of my favorite Advent traditions – taking Peanut to on a girls’ date to the theatre.  This was an idea I hit on when we moved back to D.C. – we’ve seen The Secret Garden at the Shakespeare Theatre, Mr. Popper’s Penguins at the Kennedy Center, and this year – Fancy Nancy’s Splendiferous Christmas at the Adventure Theater.

No snaps from the show itself, of course!  But it was as sparkly, festive and fancy as you would expect Christmas to be chez Clancy.  Peanut loved every minute.

On Wednesday I shared our Christmas Eve activity – hiking at Saratoga National Historical Park and finishing up my 52 Hike Challenge for 2018.  After we’d worked up an appetite tramping through the snowy fields, we headed to my Aunt Maria’s house for the traditional Christmas Eve dinner.

This was THE big family event of the season when I was growing up, but I hadn’t been to the family Christmas Eve dinner since having kids.  (Even when we brought Peanut to my parents’ for Christmas when she was younger, we stayed home in the evening so we could put her to bed at a reasonable time.)  With bigger kiddos, and being in town, we joined the family again and it was wonderful.  All four of my cousins on my dad’s side were there, which was a special treat.  (We missed my brother and his wife, though.)  The group keeps getting bigger – husbands have been added to the mix, and this year the table also included my cousin Jocelyn’s new fiancé and his parents.  So much joy!

Aunts and uncles plied Peanut and Nugget with Christmas presents, fueling the excitement, and we got home pretty late.  Peanut curled up in “baby position” on the armchair, but someone else was wide awake and happy to put out treats for Santa… and generally to stir the pot.

Look at that mischievous face!  (Sorry for the blur; he’s a moving target.)  Eventually we got both of the little elves tucked away to dream of sugarplums, and the parents and grandparents got down to work loading up the Christmas tree.  No pictures of the completed project this year – whoops.  We all flopped down exhausted, knowing that Christmas morning would be arriving painfully soon.

And it did!  The kiddos were up and at ’em at 6:00, and by 7:00 all the adults were sort of awake, and we were down opening presents.

There were SO MANY gifts that we weren’t even able to finish opening everything before church.  We took a break from the unwrapping extravaganza for Christmas Day services.  I marked a milestone, as I told Steve: my parents’ church was renovated when I was in middle school, but this was the first time I’d ever entered what we called “the crying room.”  Peanut has always been generally good in church, but wild Nugget had to be removed from the crowd.  He occupied himself with zooming his “Incredib-ile” around, banging it into the glass doors, and scribbling all over one of the church’s coloring books.  Oof.

Then we headed home to enjoy our gifts.  Air hockey for the boys – Nugget cheated on every point – and…

Books for the girls, naturally.

Oh, and new pajamas.  The next couple of days were fairly quiet.  Steve and I both worked remotely Wednesday through Friday, but we also squeezed in some fun, including an unpictured play date at my high school BFF’s house – she has a daughter about a year older than Peanut – and a couple of lovely evenings with our family friends.  (Including a Friday night appetizer feast that I left with two new recipes to try – yum!)

We also got out for our traditional viewing of the holiday lights in Washington Park and dinner with our dear friend Seth.  The kids accompanied us to the lights; Peanut loved every moment, and Nugget snoozed through the whole thing – whoops.

Then we dropped the elves back at Nana and Grandad’s house and headed out for a grown-up dinner at Druthers Brewing Company with Seth.  We sipped, snacked, and talked away for over an hour, but we never seem to have enough time together.

After dinner, I got this gift – an old picture of Seth and me, circa 2001 – right after a 5K to raise money for the Red Cross in the wake of 9/11.  (Incidentally, that was my first 5K ever.  Please ignore my cotton t-shirt and early-2000s hair.)  We’ve been friends since freshman year at Cornell and have been keeping up our lights-and-dinner holiday tradition since our junior year and I hope we never let it lapse.

It was a lovely week, filled with friends and family – and I haven’t even showed you New Year’s yet!  Maybe next week?  Anyway – I hope your holidays, wherever you spent them – were full of joy, too.

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Here we are – the end of a long road!  I’ve been working toward completing the 52 Hike Challenge for 2018 since back in January – and while I’ll have more thoughts about the project, including quick recaps of my last set of hikes and the lessons I learned over the course of the journey – today, I want to tell you all about the final hike of the challenge.  I got to #hike51 with several weeks to spare, thanks to a hiking vacation and several multi-hike weekends in the summer and fall.  So I knew I had some options available, and I really wanted #hike52 to be extra-special.  I decided to do the final hike of the project in New York while I was there for the holidays, and a Christmas Eve hike in Saratoga before heading to my aunt’s house worked out perfectly.

We were greeted with this bummer of a notice when we arrived at the park.  Steve was worried we wouldn’t be able to hike there at all, due to the government shutdown, but I remembered that the parks stayed open – but unstaffed by rangers – during the last shutdown and I figured the same would be true this time, and it was.  (Also: I mostly stay away from politics in this space, but I have to say, it’s pretty infuriating that these shutdowns keep happening.  The inconveniences to hikers and museum-goers are the least of it – it makes me really angry to think about the many, many friends I have in the federal government workforce who are going without paychecks this holiday season because of a certain orange wannabe-dictator’s temper tantrum.  Anyway.)

Ready for #hike52!  I had my finisher’s medal in this brown envelope (which reads “DO NOT OPEN UNTIL #hike52!”) and I was ready to celebrate a mission accomplished.

The park was pretty much deserted – we saw another couple of hikers and a man out walking his dogs, but that was it.  The kiddos ran up and down on top of the hill near the (closed) visitors’ center for a little while.

There was snowball throwing, which ended after one snowball hit me in the face.  I was not pleased.

I declared it our cue to start the hike, and off we went.  Somehow, I’d never been to the Saratoga National Historical Park before, despite growing up in the area and despite the fact that I’ve been to the Saratoga Spa State Park more times than I can count.  It turned out to be a gorgeous network of trails winding through a hilly meadow with incredible mountain views all around.  Definitely a good choice for a celebratory hike!

What do you think of Nugget’s outfit?  The little guy was cold, so Dad put him in his snowpants to warm up… and zipped them over his jacket.  D’oh!  He looked pretty funny – but he didn’t seem to mind.

Peanut was warm and toasty in her sweater tights, big woolen knee socks, and puffer coat.  She loved following the snowy trail – it really was so picturesque.

Eventually, the littlest hiker started to get a bit grumpy…

So we decided it was time to turn around and head back to the car and on to our Christmas Eve festivities (which were also an engagement party! –> check in with me on Friday).

But first I had to rip into my envelope.  FINISHER!

When we got back to the top of the hill, the boys pretended to fire the cannon a dozen or so times.

This view reminded me of Virginia.

Almost all of the fifty-two hikes I did as part of the project were with these guys.  I’ll have more thoughts on hiking with the kiddos to share when I wrap up the project, but briefly – I’m so grateful to have these mini hiking buddies.  They’ve made this year on the trail a lot of fun.

And with that – onward to 2019 hiking!  Where was the best place you hiked in 2018?

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2018: In Review

Happy New Year’s Eve, friends!  In lieu of my usual Monday post, I am getting sentimental (you’re not surprised, I know) and looking back on the year that is wrapping up today.  2018 was a year of extreme highs and lows – we had some really joyful times, but we also had an unexpected death in the family that left us reeling for the latter half of the year.  I think if there was a theme or a lesson to 2018, it was that life is short and you should hug your loved ones as much as possible.

January was a hectic month.  I entered a particularly busy season at work and had several 70-hour workweeks in a row – ouch.  Poor little Nugget also got hit with a yucky stomach bug that we’re pretty sure he picked up while playing at a local children’s gym.  And the weather was super-weird, fluctuating from 65 degrees one weekend to below freezing for weeks on end.  But we managed to get outside a couple of times, even in the cold weather, kicking off the 52 Hike Challenge at Theodore Roosevelt Island in D.C.

February brought more cold weather, more indoor time, and more hectic weeks at work.  We only managed to hit the trail once, but we did host Peanut’s BFF and her mom for a fun play date.  The girls baked raspberry crumb bars (with some help from the moms) and we all enjoyed them with tea.  I had some grown-up fun, too, attending a rosé tasting event at the Embassy of France with my BFF and doing a bit of book shopping.

March means one thing – my sweet baby’s birthday!  We celebrated THREE YEARS of Nugget with a Star Wars themed birthday party, and true to his nature, Outdoor Boy chose to mark his birthday with a hike.  We hit the trails a few times this month, since the weather finally started to thaw, and we also made a trip to the National Zoo.  I also made a trip to Boston to work on a union campaign (my favorite part of my job) and spent an evening chatting into the night with sweet Katie.

April was a banner month, because I saw my favorite band, the Decemberists, in concert!  They don’t tour all that often and even more rarely come East, so it was a special treat.  The rest of the month was just as celebratory.  We marked Easter with a service at our church – joined by Aunt Rebecca – followed by egg-dyeing and a vegetarian feast with a Aunt Rebecca, Aunt Jenn and Uncle Robert, and Peanut’s very first friend (Jenn and Robert’s daughter).  Hiking was good, too – there was the Bluebell Loop Trail, naturally – a can’t-miss April tradition – a Mason Neck hike with Rebecca and her dog Brandy, and a muddy good time at Great Falls.

May saw more family fun – a visit from Grandma, who we don’t see nearly as much as we wish we did, and a Mother’s Day hike at Mason Neck.  We also started our garden for the year (dubbed “Squirrelbait”) – spoiler: this wasn’t the most successful year.  We visited Mount Vernon and petted the baby animals, and Peanut said lots of hilarious things.

June was a month of highs and lows.  We started with the highs – first a trip to Cornell for my fifteenth reunion.  How is it possible that so much time has gone by since graduation?  It was fun introducing the kids to the place where Steve and I fell in love.  After Cornell, we stayed upstate for a bit longer and swung by my parents’ house, where my brother Dan and his wife Danielle were visiting from Colorado.  We never get enough time with them, but we made the most of the few days we had – sailing on the Adirondack lake where my parents have a camp and hiking at Lake Minnewaska.  The end of the month brought great sadness, though – the sudden and unexpected loss of a beloved family member.  We’re still working through the grief that followed.

July was a sad month, while we grieved and tried to adjust to a new reality without someone we all loved in it.  We’d been planning to make a trip back up north to spend the Fourth of July with my parents, and we decided that we would keep those plans, because we wanted to be with family.  I didn’t recap most of the trip – too sad – but we made it to the lake again and my parents distracted us with an afternoon of hiking at Bash Bish Falls and dinner out in nearby Lenox, Massachusetts.  (Western Massachusetts is so lovely; I wish I got there more.)  We kind of drifted through the rest of the month; I don’t remember much of what we did, other than camp runs and play dates – and I finally learned to bake bread.  It didn’t occur to me at the time, but looking back I think that maybe my obsession with bread-baking this summer might have had something to do with needing an outlet and to do something with my hands when my heart was feeling so sad.

August was the month we reserved for our summer vacation, and we managed to have a pretty good time.  We drove back up to New York (three trips to the Empire State in three months!) and spent a week in the Adirondacks with my parents.  We got a cute Airbnb apartment right in downtown Lake Placid and used it as base camp for a week of hiking and water fun.  Steve and I climbed our fourth Adirondack high peak (Big Slide Mountain this time); the kids splashed and played at the Lake Placid beach, and we celebrated Peanut’s sixth birthday on the trail.

September was quiet after the wild swings of summer, and that was what we needed.  We hiked at Great Falls with new friends who just recently moved to the area from San Francisco, and the kids went back to school.  Most of my month was taken up with back-to-school activities – as kindergarten class mom, I had a lot to do with back to school night, first PTA meetings of the year, and more.  Volunteering in Peanut’s classroom was one of my fall goals, and I have loved being around the school more.

October is my favorite month!  It’s my birthday month, fall splendor is everywhere, and Halloween is the best way to close out a month – if you ask me, which I realize no one did.  I cashed in my birthday authority by dragging the family out for a cold picnic and hiking in Shenandoah National Park – Nugget’s happy place.  During the week, I treated myself to a lunchtime excursion to see No Spectators: the Art of Burning Man at the Renwick Gallery with my friend Susan, and it was fabulous.  The rest of the month, we fit in several more hikes, watched the beginning of the fall foliage changing (it’s really a November phenomenon in Virginia, but it starts in October) and celebrated Halloween at school and in the neighborhood.

November was Steve’s birthday month, and we celebrated on the trails, of course!  Governor Northam had recently opened a brand-new state park – Widewater State Park, near Stafford – so we headed down there to check it out.  Even with the very barest beginnings of a trail network, it was lovely.  I also changed jobs in November, after a long search for a new opportunity, and enjoyed three days of “funemployment” – which I spent reading and chaperoning Peanut’s field trip to the weirdest farm ever.  And of course, one of my favorite holidays – we shared a Thanksgiving feast with my parents and our beloved next door neighbors, then spent Black Friday working off the mashed potatoes on the trail at Great Falls.

December – we made it to the end of the year!  I started the year with a business trip to Philadelphia, which was a lot of fun – and I got to see the lovely A.M.B. into the bargain!  Back in Virginia, we tried out a new tradition and cut down our own Christmas tree, then decorated it with all of our favorite ornaments.  We filled the month with other holiday fun – like a trip to the Christmas trains at the U.S. Botanic Garden – and even made it up to Baltimore to spend a day at the National Aquarium.  We ended the month with a little over a week at my parents’ place and managed to squeeze in almost everything we wanted to do – lots of friend time, hiking, family fun and playdates.  A good way to bid the old year farewell.

And now, it’s 2019!  Here’s hoping for lots of joy and adventures this year – we need them.

 

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