Tag Archives: family

Winter Break Fun

There are really and truly few things I enjoy more than spending time with my children.  But they have been on school break since December 15th and we still have five days left before they go back and hoooo, boy am I ready for them to be at school all day for a few weeks.

My kids, at ages 13, 11, 9 & 7, are pretty self-sufficient in terms of entertaining themselves.  Because there are four of them, they always have someone to play with. But having four kids in the house all day, every day ALSO means they always have someone to annoy and argue with.  Always.  Like, every hour of the day.  Which makes me abso-freaking-lutely insane and despite the fact that I know I should let them solve their disputes themselves, I end up mediating and then losing my patience and shouting at them to stop bickering over and over.

The kids get up before me most days on school break and make their own breakfasts.  Five years ago I could only dream of the day that would happen, and make no mistake, I appreciate it.  But they eat like locusts.  We’re going through food at a rate so alarming, I am almost afraid someone is hoarding it in a cupboard upstairs somewhere.  And although they are reasonably okay at cleaning up after themselves after making a meal…actually, no.  Not true.  They’re generally rubbish at cleaning up and I end up reminding them kindly and patiently several times a day and then screaming and yelling like a lunatic to just put the bread away already, goddammit.

Luckily it’s not as cold here in England in winter as it was in D.C. (or is on most of the east coast of the U.S. right now) so the kids can still play outside for a few hours almost every day.  But it IS wet and rainy and that means it’s muddy and I don’t mind them playing in mud and getting dirty until it’s time to do laundry and I discover that they’ve actually worn three different pair of warm-ups and two different pair of socks each in a single day because they kept getting wet and dirty and then changing and leaving their dirty, wet clothes on the floor.  Then I give long lectures on making unnecessary work for other people when you could just wear one outfit a day or two AT MOST and not go back out once you’ve already changed into clean dry clothes.  And then I spend twenty minutes teaching people how to do their own laundry.  And then we all spend an hour every other day folding and putting away clean clothes while I threaten the lives of the children if they don’t stop changing outfits multiples times a day.

So.  Winter break has been fun.  Lots of fun.  Lots of movies and baking and cooking and board games and reading and laughing and good times. 

But my goodness, I’m ready for the fun to end.

Menorca, Spain

I had to turn the heat on in my house today because it was so cold I couldn’t feel the tip of my nose.  While I waited for the radiators to heat up so I could lean against them and get warm, I flipped through the photo album from our summer trip to Menorca. 

Beaches and sunshine — even just in photos  — made me warmer.

Menorca is an island off the coast of Spain, the less-well-known sister to Ibiza and Mallorca. 

Quaint and relaxed and pristine, this was one of the most ruggedly beautiful places we’ve been. 

With a pool in the back yard of our fantastic Airbnb and two beaches within a five-minute walk from our house, this quick 4-day trip was all about relaxation. 

But because we can’t sit still for four straight days, it was also about kayaking and snorkeling and catamaran trips.

We sailed around the island on a big catamaran, jumped off the boat and explored hidden coves, fed the seagulls and the fish. 

My children took turns steering the boat.

The kids had never been snorkeling before, but we bought everyone fins and masks before the trip and they took to it, well, like fish to water. 

Fearless and curious, they swam around the coves and beaches in shallow pools and in water 20+ feet deep, searching out cool fish and crazy rock formations. 

A little octopus, maybe a foot across stretched out tentacle-to-tentacle made an appearance at the beach one day, wrapping himself around Matt’s shin to announce his presence, and for twenty minutes we all followed him and his swirling progress across the ocean floor, just amazed and mesmerized.

White sandy beaches surrounded by rocky cliffs.  Crystal clear water and nothing but sunshine for days on end. 

All the seafood we could eat. 

We baked in the sunshine, read books on the beach, climbed the rocks, and swam in the sea.  

We threw ourselves into the Spanish lifestyle, eating dinner at 9PM. 

Not all of us made it to dessert every night.

Whenever it’s cold this winter, when it’s rainy and windy and raw and damp and the chill gets in my bones and I just can’t get warm, I’ll look back on this trip and remember the perfect sun and it will get me through.

Menorca was amazing.  You should go.

How Many Kids?

My babies_May 2010

I always wanted a lot of kids.  Before I HAD children, four was, in fact, my minimum number.  I really wanted five or six.

When Quinn was born though, my fourth baby in five and half years, I had been pregnant or nursing for what felt like forever.  I had had children every other year from 2004 through 2010.  And I just felt like that was it — I didn’t want to be pregnant or nursing anymore.  I wanted my body back.  I was done.  Matt agreed; I think he was even more done than I was.  We took care of things so that we wouldn’t get pregnant anymore.

age 6

Then Quinn turned one and my baby fever kicked back in and I decided we had made a terrible, terrible mistake.  We should definitely have had ONE MORE child.  And I was sure that this time, it would definitely be another girl.  Just as sure as I had been with my previous three pregnancies, all of which resulted in boys.  Matt had anticipated this, apparently, knowing that when each of our kids had hit their first birthday, I decided it was time for another one.  He knew my change of heart was coming, and he helped me work through it.  It wasn’t a fast process, though.  To be honest, it took me about a year and half to finally accept it and no longer feel a deep sense of regret.  It was about the time that Quinn was potty-trained when I felt, at last, like I was okay with really being done.


I think it was the realization that after eight years and three months of diapers, I was finished.  A weight was lifted and we moved into new parenting territory; we had no more “babies” then.  After that, I was good with no more children and I haven’t looked back. 

Nov 084

I love having four kids.  I love the noise and the chaos, the million pairs of shoes by the door, the endless laundry and the never-ending cooking, and the giant cars we have to buy so we can all fit in.  I really do, even if I complain about it.

G sledding

I always knew I wanted a big family, but once I started having kids, I changed my mind about exactly HOW big. 

How many kids do you have?  Are you happy with your family size?  Are you done having kids? Did it turn out the way you expected?  I’d love to hear.


The hardest thing — in fact, one of the only real downsides to living in England — is how far away we are from our families.  We miss them.  A lot.

Matt’s parents came to visit in October and it was so great.  Although we did lots of tourist-y things, we also just hung at the house a lot and enjoyed some time together.  We played dominoes and the kids and their grandparents did the entire Harry Potter movie marathon — all eight movies — over the course of the week.  Big events are fun, but the down time is even better.


My parents are coming tomorrow and will be here for Christmas and we are all so excited.  We have plans, again, to do some sight-seeing and touring a bit, but I’m also just looking forward to hanging out and playing cards.  The only thing that could make it better would be if my sisters and their husbands and kids were here too.

I hope you all have your favorite people by your side over the holidays, whoever they are, and you just soak up every minute of it.

Also, this was our last visit with my sister and her kids, and here’s my thoughts on what’s really important.


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