Spring break 2021 highlights

I’m back! Even though I didn’t go very far. We had considered trying to go somewhere over the kids’ spring break last week, but in the end it didn’t come together. I’m also wary of traveling with the toddler, who is challenging enough on our own turf. So we stayed semi-local, with the upside that we therefore still had childcare for the toddler, and could take the older kids out and about. We had a pretty good time! A few highlights from the week:

A spring long run. 7.5 miles along the river last Saturday in just about perfect running weather! My goal is to do a 10-miler at least once this spring. I’m doing more trail runs too as I’m getting to know my local trails (more on that below). This is the time of year when running feels wonderful.

Singing. I recorded Easter service music alongside the staff singers at my church. It was lovely to sing the Hallelujah Chorus with other people — masked, and distant of course — but still singing together.

The baptism. The baby was supposed to be baptized last March, but then everything shut down. It was finally rescheduled for this March. My parents and older brother came. Some of my other kids got to participate in the service, which was outside under a tent, and in monsoon-style weather. The guest of honor was very well-behaved, considering! Our church’s senior pastor said she had never seen a baby be baptized in Star Wars tennis shoes before, but the little white shoes I bought last year were, of course, too small. We also went to an outdoor Easter service — the weather was much nicer for that. These outdoor services are short, which works well for church with five kids.

Gettysburg. On Monday we drove out to the battlefield — something we’d wanted to see since moving here but had never gotten to. The movie and cyclorama depiction of Pickett’s charge were interesting (the museum, alas, tested my kids’ patience) but it was most profound just to walk around the grounds and look out from the observation tower at these quiet Pennsylvania fields which, for a few days almost 160 years ago, witnessed history.

Biking in the Lehigh Gorge. On Tuesday we packed the bikes onto two cars and drove up through Jim Thorpe to the Lehigh Gorge trail. The cliffs and rhododendron and the rushing water are all just absolutely beautiful. We only biked about 9 miles — which took less time than it took to drive there — but I enjoyed it. I think most of the kids did too. We did a family bike ride on Easter, too, circling Valley Forge park. The 6-year-old rode on the tag-along behind my bike, and everyone was calling out and saying hello to me so happily, and I later realized it was because he was waving and giving big smiles to everyone as we passed. It made the world seem like a friendlier place!

Seeing zoo dinosaurs. The Philadelphia Zoo has a new exhibit called Big Time featuring animatronic dinosaurs. I know it sounds corny but it was actually pretty fun to see a roaring T-Rex. Plus we went to Rita’s afterwards (as we did after Gettysburg too — hey, it was vacation!)

A date night dinner. My husband and I try to go really early to empty restaurants. We managed to be done by 6:15 p.m. on Thursday. In the spirit of doing local stuff we went to an Italian restaurant we’ve driven past a hundred times (likely more) but had never eaten at. It was fine…nothing to write home about, but again, 8 minutes from the house. So we’ll probably go again.

An art museum scavenger hunt. I convinced my daughter to come with me to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Our mission: find (and photograph) 30 depictions of flowers. There are a lot of flowers in various forms in art — Impressionist paintings, sure, but also on ceramics, and on tapestries, and in the borders of wood carvings. We were in and out in an hour (frugal win; members park free for the first hour!), saw a lot, and had a great time. I highly recommend this as a strategy for doing art museums with kids.

A local hike. I joined a local trails association, and they had a guided hike this weekend, so I took my 11-year-old. We found some new trails near our home that I’d never walked on in 10 years of living here! The woods are so beautiful right now with the ground cover almost glowing green, the forsythia blooming and the blue sky visible through the misty red fog of new growth that is covering the trees.

Spring puzzles. I finished my 1000 piece Buffalo brand puzzle of hummingbirds and flowers. I’m now working on a 500-piece Floret Farm number. I’d done one side last year, but it turns out there are two sides, so this was also a frugal win.

Seeing what’s coming up in the new yard. There are Lenten roses, a whole wall of forsythia, two flowering plum trees, two weeping cherries, and some lovely smelling Japanese Andromeda. While I wish we could move in sooner, it’s nice to enjoy that yard, and our current one, where the show-stopping magnolia in the front is about to blossom. We will be taking pictures of that gorgeous tree for when we do put the house on the market later this year.

Sleeping through the night. Not every night. The last three nights have unfortunately been more rough. But the baby did have several reasonable nights in a row. I’m not sure that would have happened in a hotel somewhere, so I was grateful for that!

Finding all the Easter eggs. We found the last 2020 Easter egg in…January. So I am happy to report that all 36 dyed and hardboiled eggs were located, meaning we can sell this house in peace.

Now it’s slowly back to work. The 6-year-old is still off school Monday so I’ll be taking him on a special excursion — a mini Mommy Day somewhere I’m interested in going. I’ve been doing a fair amount of one-on-one time with the older kids lately, but my daughter perceptively pointed out that in general I was taking them to things I wanted to do (hikes, museums) so it was not a Real Mommy Day, which would be something like an amusement park. Perhaps true, but hey, there’s something to be said for a mommy day where mommy particularly enjoys herself…

9 thoughts on “Spring break 2021 highlights

    1. @Nancy- ha! Spread over 9 days it wasn’t really all that much. Still a fair amount of downtime most days.

  1. The “Pep pills” comment genuinely made me laugh out loud!
    You DO seem to have a lot of energy, Laura, but I’m really learning as I get older that planning things in, doing them anyway, and then appreciating the fact that the days are full of memories (hmmm, does this sound vaguely like the Laura Vanderkam gospel??) makes everything more enjoyable and leaves me feeling more energetic.
    Gretchen Rubin talks about acting the way I want to feel, and I think this is so true. If I feel energetic, adventurous and happy – it tends to move my mood needle toward those very settings.
    Today, for instance, my kids had the day off (I live in Canada, where both Friday and Monday are bank holiday’s over Easter). My husband had a work meeting off-site, so I hosted simultaneous morning playdates for my kiddos. It was spontaneous and just with neighbourhood friends, but everyone was happy. I made homemade muffins, prepped some food for the coming week, and also sat and read books to my kids, walked on the treadmill, sat sandwiched at the table between them (their request) for lunch, read two chapters in my Harry Potter book (I’m re-reading them in tandem with my daughter), and supervised my son and his friend scootering outside in the rain. Nothing exciting, but the alternative of just sitting and watching videos or listening to my kids fight all day while the pours rain outside just wouldn’t have been as fulfilling. My kids had fun, I was productive, and I likely feel more energetic at the end of the day?

    1. @Elisabeth – I’m also of the opinion that sitting at home listening to the children bicker is way more exhausting than getting out and going somewhere. Sounds like you guys had a great day!

  2. We had a long weekend here. My husband and 3 year old were off on Friday, and I took a long lunch break to join them on a cycle ride/picnic at a nearby garden. We had an outdoor playdate with a pal from nursery on Saturday – just sat in the sunshine with the parents (who we hadn’t met before, but somehow having strangers over for outdoor gatherings feels less stressful), ate cake, and let the kids run around in the garden. And then on Sunday, we did a easter egg hunt and then the neighbour’s grandson came over to see if my son could come out and play soccer. I got weirdly sentimental about it, it felt like such an important childhood milestone “Can T come out to play?” Yesterday was a bit lazy, we played legos and walked to feed the ducks.

  3. Wow! That all sounds so fun. My parents went to Gettysburg a couple years ago and really enjoyed it. They brought home a cool book for my boys.

    I’m impressed and a little envious of all of your local/staycation ambitions. I feel like that’s one area of parenting that I kinda suck at. I am GREAT at planning “real” trips/ vacations/ etc. Seriously, in my next life, maybe I’ll be a travel agent. Or a travel blogger. lol. And I was pretty awesome at planning local adventures when they were little. But now that they are older, and much more content to just be home and pleasant without terrorizing everyone the way a bored toddler does, I sometimes need a kick in the pants to actually go out and do things around here. Sometimes weeks or weekends go by and I realize we all just kind of did our own thing around the house, or my husband and I hung out while they did…whatever. But then I feel sad, because at 11 and 12, the years are going fast!! In a blink of an eye we’ll be packing the car for college!! So, thanks for the reminder to actually plan some things for at home/ closer to home.

    1. @Grateful Kae- I get where you are coming from here – I imagine I might be less into local adventure planning when it feels less necessary. But right now getting people out of the house feels fairly important for general peace.

    2. We’re the same! Mine are 8 and 11 and relatively peaceful/play well together, so we spend MOST weekends not doing anything, and COVID has exacerbated this, of course. Now no one wants to go anywhere at all 😉

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