Our family fall bucket list
Goals - November 2021

Currently: October

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Feeling... like the weight of my summer and heat blahs has been lifted. As always I'm so, so happy the heat is behind us for the year.

Loving... how full and boisterous the house is. A babbling toddler, two loud boys, so much activity in the kitchen, so much laundry. All the saying apply: The days are long but the years are short. Full hands, full heart. These are the days.

Purchased... new workout leggings in black camo print. I love that they don't have a seam on the outside of the leg making them feel especially smooth and flattering. I've also been adding to our fall book collection. I always request lots of fall picture books from the library but I love fall and winter seasonal books so much I've decided I'd like to own more. I bought You're My Little Pumpkin Pie, a Fall touch and feel board book, And Then Comes Halloween, and Room On The Broom. I used ThriftBooks.com for the first time and found good prices for good quality used books.

Reading... I just finished listening to Madame Speaker, a biography of Nancy Pelosi, and found it fascinating. At times I was riveted such as when Nancy was leading the Affordable Care Act through legislation. Speaking to the season of life that I am in, I especially enjoyed hearing about the years when Nancy and her husband Paul were raising five young children. Apparently the household was run as a loving but tight-ship and I appreciated hearing about some of the details. I felt like I could relate! I loved the comments by Nancy that while it was a full time of her life that she absolutely loved it and did not see motherhood as detracting from the important work she later pursued. In fact, many times as Speaker she credited raising her kids as preparing her for the demanding role. This spoke to me. Nancy's children also recount that she used the phrase "proper preparation prevents poor performance" also known as "the 5 P's". I really loved that detail.

Also in October I emerged from my late September reading slump, thank goodness! I realized I had to give up on a couple of books I wasn't loving (In the Midst of Winter, and Please Don't Sit On My Bed In Your Outside Clothes) to find books that I found more engaging. I raced through the mysterious and other-worldly Piranesi, read two more Inspector Gamache books (A Better Man, All The Devils Are Here), listened to Malibu Rising which I found okay but enjoyable enough to finish, enjoyed the suspense and cultural commentary of The Other Black Girl, finally listened to and loved Shrill, and, finally, loved the reflective and character-driven The Ensemble even though I didn't love any of the characters. I just started listening to The Actor's Life by Jenna Fisher and am reading The People You Meet On Vacation on my Kindle. And if you'd like even more book chat, there's a recent Fall Reading Roundup episode of The Girl Next Door Podcast.


Thinking about... Speaking of motherhood and career, the words of author Elizabeth Strout spoke directly to my heart in a recent interview that she did with Joanna Goddard, founder of one of my favorite blogs. Joanna asked where she writes and Strout responded that she can write anywhere but, "The only thing is, I have to be alone in my head. No one can need me." No one can need me. "Yes, yes!" my heart said, "Exactly!" Someone needs me so much of the time right now. I sometimes feel a tension between the work I love and feel driven to do (writing and podcasting) and the time that I have for that work. At the same time I also feel deep fulfillment in motherhood. I think this is why I love hearing other women, like Nancy Pelosi, talk about enjoying the years when their children were young and then going on to be incredibly successful. I love knowing that Elizabeth Strout won the Pulitzer Prize at 58 and that Toni Morrison did not publish a book until she was 39. I don't expect to have careers as successful as these women but knowing that they had time for it all is really comforting and encouraging.

On a completely different note, I've also been thinking a lot about Christmas. I'm always eager to get an early start and this year especially because of production and shipping delays. The earlier I finish buying gifts and taking care of holiday tasks the sooner I feel "off-duty" and can enjoy my birthday and the holidays. I'm nearing the end of my Christmas shopping and have ordered our Christmas cards and stamps. It feels really good!

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Cooking + eating + drinking... The meal highlight of the month was the day date lunch I shared with Chris at Joe's Farm Grill. We split a patty melt veggie burger, sweet potato fries, the best roasty-crispy-saucy Brussels sprouts I've ever had, and the most fantastic cheesecake. I want to go back and repeat that exact same meal! Joe's has been hitting home runs for me lately because on my Tuesday night off this week I went back on a whim when I had a craving for onion rings. I sat outside in the breezy shade and ate a basket of hot, crispy onion rings dipped in homemade buttermilk ranch with fresh dill. I ate every last bite and licked my fingers when I was done.

In good drinking I treated us to a 12-pack of Athletic Brewing's non-alcoholic new seasonal brown ale. I love brown ales and was hoping they would come out with one. We are loving it. I hope they have a couple of great holiday brews.

Grateful for... finding more time with Chris. We had an October day date and put November and December day dates on the calendar as well. With the nice weather, every day we're also usually able to go on one or more walks with Maeve in the stroller or with the whole family.

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What the boys are into... Cedric is right in between being a little boy and a big boy, and I see the big boy emerging more every day. He loves math and loves to read. He's reading chapter books entirely by himself and I'm so impressed. He had a wiggly front tooth that refused to come out for so long, despite the fact that it was angled and sticking out. What a weird phase when teeth are falling out of your children! It finally came out, thank goodness! But now I miss his baby tooth smile with his tiny teeth.  This was yesterday, right?

I love seeing my boys' individual personalities emerge. Cedric usually sleeps in later and upon waking gets himself dressed, makes his bed, and brushes his teeth. Dash wakes up earlier, I think he's wired like Chris, but loves a slow, cozy wake up. He emerges from his room wrapped in his soft tortilla blanket and likes to lay on the couch for at least an hour. He needs a fair amount of nudging to get ready for the day.

Dash is really social and loves his friends. Although he couldn't fully express it or probably didn't fully realize it himself I think that missing friends was so incredibly hard for him last year during online school. He is outgoing and so kind-hearted. Recently I saw Dash approach two teenage girls who were playing volleyball at the park. He confidently said, "I know how to play volleyball!" and asked to join them. They were so sweet to let him join even though his accuracy wasn't on par with theirs. Dash has strong feelings about what he wants and not getting his way is a challenge for him. But I've seen so much growth in him this year. He can roll with disappointment much easier than he has in the past. As his school work is becoming more challenging I see him taking initiative to get homework done (although we often have to do some reminding too).

Both of the boys teachers raved about them during our parent-teacher conferences. We know they're amazing of course but in the day to day sibling squabbles and "Did you brush your teeth?" we can get focused on what's challenging. Chris and I high-fived afterwards for raising such amazing kids! We're so proud of them. With the boys it feels like we're entering the stretch of really sweet years where we get the best of the young kid and big kid qualities. We are loving it.

With the nice weather the gang of neighborhood kids plays together nearly every day. They've formed a little club and have been asking neighbors if they can do anything helpful for them in their front yards. I love their helpful hearts.


What Maeve is doing... just as Cedric is between being a little boy and a big boy, Maeve is at the cusp of lingering babyhood and being a little girl. I've noticed with all of my kids that sometimes they will suddenly age before your eyes. Maeve seemed to do that this past week. Chris and I both noticed that her face is a little less round. Every day she is talking more. I swear sometimes she wakes up from a nap smarter and looking bigger. Recently I've been doing simple cooking with Maeve. Her favorite is to help me crack and stir an egg. One morning I was taking eggs out to make breakfast and she started saying "Heh-muh! Heh-muh!" After a beat I realized she was trying to say, "help me" as in, "Do you want to help me crack an egg?" When you figure out what she's trying to say she bobs her head forward, not quite in a nod yet, her big brown eyes showing delight and relief at being understood. Maeve helps me hold the egg as we crack, crack, crack it on the countertop. I give her the small bowl and a fork to mix all on her own. She does a great job! She doesn't spill and rarely puts her hands in it. She loves to "heh-muh" a lot. We'll be having lots of scrambled eggs for snack!

Maeve has graduated from baby play to toddler play. I'd like to find more simple activities for her to do. So far she seems to have a great attention span for her age. She loves to pour, mix, stir, do playdough, wipe, arrange, and explore (i.e. take everything out of our lower bathroom cabinets, sigh). I know there are so many great ideas online. I need to make the time to find a few to try.

In the past couple of weeks Maeve has become even more comfortable with daycare drop offs. She usually reaches for her teacher and then can look at me and wave goodbye. What a long way we have come from the very tearful drop-offs where we had to hand her over and dash away. I'm so thankful to have that transition behind us!

Looking forward to... the best months of weather plus the holidays! These last two months of the year are about coziness, family, gratitude, my birthday, and dreaming about intentions for a new year. That's my happy place. Oh and I'm also so looking forward to the boys getting their first COVID vaccine! I'm eager to hear details about how the vaccines will roll out and when they will be available. I'm thinking of all that was happening one year ago as I was so anxious about the election and eager to hear of a COVID vaccine. I'm so thankful to be where we are right now. 


I hope you found good things in October, friends!