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After all the chaos of getting settled back into the school/work/sports routine I was glad to get a few quiet weeks at home. We had nothing on the schedule and the weather was approaching perfection. The boots were coming out of the closets and I was looking forward to wearing sweaters again. I love all the seasons but fall is definitely my favorite. In those few ideal weeks we get to spend so much time outside enjoying the park and all the colors on the trees. Drinks on the balcony, sitting by the fire on a cool morning, and the beginning of the holiday season. 
















harley still wishes it was summer

True, Christmas is still a few months away, but this is when the decorations come out of storage and make us all feel festive. One of the girl’s favorite traditions is taking a trip to pick out their very own pumpkins. They like to carve them too (sorta) – it usually turns into me carving and them watching because they refuse to touch the guts and aren’t allowed to use the knives. So this year I figured we would give painting a try. Thanks to my amazing Moms Club we were able to get out to two pumpkin patches we had never been to before!

Our first was on Columbus day. Charlotte had to go to school but Matt had the day off. We decided to take Norah on a special date with just us. We started out getting bagels for breakfast then went to Maple Acres Farm. We saw some (stinky) animals and some (not stinky) flowers. 



chasing the cat and ducks



On the weekend we headed out to Kohler Farms with the whole family – and the Moms Club family too. This time we took a hay ride past lost of scary and silly scarecrows to the corn field. The kids loved the maze and all the games they had set up. The kids got to pick out a mini pumpkin to take home and then we all enjoyed some delicious donuts and cider. This was my favorite part. I must have eaten at least 4 and snagged a take home bag too! 









A week later we took our new baby pumpkins over to our friends house and had a blast painting them. And my kiddos somehow managed not to get any paint on themselves or their clothes! And while snacking on candy and treats someone lost another tooth!!!


her new smile!!





ahhhhhhh!!


The weekend before Halloween we headed to DC for some time with family - and some pictures too. The kids were good sports and posed for us in their costumes!
cousins in disguise!

incredigirl to the rescue!

and here comes batgirl!


For Halloween we had a lot of events…..school parades, trick or treating at Rydal (a local senior facility) and of course trick or treating in our neighborhood. The girls had a blast at all the events, but Halloween night was their favorite! The neighborhood was full of kids, every house was giving out candy (some even full sized candy bars) and there was laughter everywhere. They ran to every house, blasting through the leaf piles on the way. They practically screamed with joy every time they told us what was in their buckets. I loved asking them if they were having a good time because they yelled their answer out with such joy. It was over so fast – only an hour! – and their buckets were filled and too heavy for them to carry. They both claim Halloween is now their favorite holiday – but I’m sure that will change come Christmas morning. 



terrible lighting but had to get one out front at Rydal



Char your eye!!!

ready to comp down on some halloween candy

all dressed and excited to go trick or treating

"oh look is that someone we need to save??"

super hero poses!
























the loot!! oh my!!


Neither Matt nor I really dressed up this year. Wait, I did go as an old lady when we went to the senior center (my Grandma’s mumu and a wig) and everyone thought it was hysterical. Next year we plan to step it up…in fact I already snagged some half priced costumes in the after Halloween sales!  



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No birthday is complete without a party – or two. This year, Charlotte celebrated her big day twice. 

On her actual day we were camping in Lake Placid (Daddy did the IronMan race), so there was no big party that day. We had a small little celebration at the campsite. We stopped by a local bakery (CakePlacid – highly recommend!) and picked out 4 cupcakes to share (blueberry pancake, s'mores, funfetti, and lemon raspberry). We also had some gifts for her to open. 






our beautiful girl!


The only problem with celebrating early is that she asked every.single.day when her party was. She still doesn’t understand time and days, etc so it’s hard for her to grasp two weeks. Plus she also needed time to make and invite some of her new friends from kindergarten to her party. 

Finally the day of her BIG party arrived!!! She was so excited she could barely sleep the night before. We went to Altitude indoor trampoline park with 7 of her friends and had a blast. Besides the cost, I love parties at places like that because they do it all for you. You just need to bring a cake and party bags and have fun! 


the unicorn cake! So much frosting!!

Charlotte chose a unicorn theme – it is definitely the year of the unicorn! Balloons, cake, favors, and outfit (headband too) all unicorn! The kids got to jump and play for an hour, then we had pizza and cake. After all that sugar we were off to the dodge ball arena for a game. 
our little party crew

some of her new friends from school - Bianca and Madison

Ryan jump jumping away!



mid air Norah!

the other Charlotte and best friend!

Vera having a great time



Watch out for Daddy….he has a deadly arm! 
pretty sure he is aiming for me



one of my favorites! A sneaky selfie!





Before we knew it the party was over and it was time to say goodbye. Thanks to all of Charlotte's friends who were able to go. You made our girl feel very special. And a big thanks to Ryan and Aunt Nikki who drove up for the party!  

Happy 6th Birthday Charlotte!!! 


p.s. she is already asking about where she can have her party next year LOL!
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Who is ready to see the rest of the photos from our trip? Even though this next recap covers almost the same amount of time there are a lot fewer photos.  We did a lot but it wasn’t as crazy hectic as the first half of our trip. 




After departing the ship we said goodbye to Sara and Peter (they had to head home) and we took off for Tuscany/Florence. We decided a rental car made the most sense and some how were lucky enough to get a car that was not only big enough to fit all 5 of us, but it also fit all our luggage (a MIRACLE)! We were packed in there like sardines for the long 2 hour ride. 
all packed up and ready to go!

Being able to explore the Italian countryside at our own pace was exactly what we wanted. We found a town on top of a hill, Ovierto, to have lunch at. While enjoying homemade pizza and pasta we got treated to a local band marching through town. What a memory!





We arrived at our villa in the afternoon and the kids immediately got into the pool. We stayed at a little house on the property of this lovely older couple. It was sorta private (less than ideal) but we had access to a nice pool with a view of the Tuscan hills which was relaxing and exactly what we wanted. It was strange to go from the hustle and bustle of the ship and one stop after another to being in the same spot for multiple days. The kids loved it and really needed the break from the hectic schedule, but I found myself a little bored and anxious to do something.


we stayed at the place on the left (not all of it. Some was attached to the other house)

feeding and petting the local horses

On our first day in Tuscany we (unfortunately) had to take care of a few chores: laundry and grocery shopping. 


even laundry can be fun when there are carts!

Once we got settled we enjoyed the afternoon in the pool and then headed into Florence for dinner. We had big plans to go to a highly recommended place and were deeply disappointed when we got there and found out they were closed for vacation! Dah! 


We got lucky and found another gem around the corner that was able to squeeze us in. It was another memorable meal. Matt and Rachel tried Florentine steak, I had delicious homemade gnocchi and the girls had “the best pasta in their whole life” (Charlottes' exact words).


so tired from swimming all day


patiently waiting for dinner

Florentine Steak!



After dinner we walked back to the bridge to see it at night, then found a gelato spot. No dinner in Italy is complete without gelato.


char's face haha!!



beautiful!!!

the best part of the day!

The next day we headed back into Florence to climb the Dome of the Florence Cathedral. Unfortunately it was over 400 steps and we didn't think the kids would be able to climb it so Matt and I took turns going up. (Timed Reservations required) The climb was totally worth it and not that difficult. There were a lot of breaks along the way and just over half way through you were able to circle the inside of the dome. You could see the beautiful paintings (and even the cracks in the ceiling) and also look down into the gorgeous church. And once at the top you got a birds eye view of all of Florence. 








the inside of the dome

killing some time while Daddy climbed the tower
post exercise lunch: gnocchi and panini! 

That evening we headed back to Florence (so glad it was less than 30 minutes away!). We went to the best viewpoint and snapped some beautiful sunset photos. 






haha Matt 


another long day for Norah - sneaking in a nap where she can 


Since we knew this would be our last day in Florence we headed back into the city for a museum trip to see the statue David. This is something I am glad Matt insisted on doing. It was great to see the sculpture in person. It is such a beautiful piece of artwork and an important part of history. And you were able to get so close! It was crowded but we were able to sneak in a few fun photos. 


And of course the modern David, instead of a stone he has a backpack.
twins!



The museum also had the most beautiful and most precious Violas on display. There was a tenor viola made by Antonio Stradivari in 1690. They had other amazing cellos and violins as well as the first piano. Matt was in music heaven here!

After the museum (and a quick stop at a gift shop) we ended up at a surprisingly awesome indoor market (which looked like a dump from the outside). It had a variety of food vendors and a few shops. We enjoyed coffee, croissants, an asian burrito and popsicles! It reminded us a lot of Reading Terminal in Philly. It was by far one of our favorite lunch stops in Florence. 


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Norah,

Happy 3rd birthday sweet girl! We love you so much. You bring so much joy and love into our family. 


The day you were born was one of the happiest days of my life. As soon as you came out I held you in my arms and I never wanted to let go. I have never felt so much love and joy and awe. I could not believe you were actually here and you were ours. So beautiful. So tiny. Absolutely perfect. And not much has changed. These past three years have been a true blessing. They went by wayyyy too fast, but every day I am thankful you are a part of our family. You are sweet, cuddly, silly, smart, and a little shy. You are particular - you like your things a certain way, yet you are a pretty good traveler. You are a professional snacker. You are an early riser and a nap fighter. You are curious and cautious. 

Oh how you have grown from this tiny little baby....

.....to this big girl!

You are now exactly 3ft tall - 20% on the charts. You weigh exactly 30lbs - 50% on the charts. I think 3 might be your lucky number, 3 years old, 3ft tall, 30lbs, born on the 30th! 


No matter how big you get you will always be my little peanut. You have grown so much over the last year, not only in size, but your verbal skills have exploded. You are a talking, singing, dancing girl. You can count to 10 (or more but not always perfectly), you have a lot of songs memorized, and you love to color. In fact your coloring has changed a lot over the last year. It has gone from random scribbles to actual drawings with a purpose. Just the other day you drew a dog. Great job Norah!






Your favorite playmate and best friend is Charlotte, but you also love to play by yourself. Watching the two of you play together makes me so happy. The creativity and imagination in what you do and say is so fascinating to watch. It is something I wish adults still had, it makes life so much more interesting.  




We accomplished a lot this year - hitting some big milestones too!! First, you started preschool. You went to school two days a week and loved it (most of the time). Some days you didn't want to leave me, but when I picked you up you always told me how much fun you had. You made friends, you learned a lot, and those performances throughout the year were priceless! 





You finally stopped nursing in January. I can't believe it has been six months already....feels like forever ago! I am so glad we had that special time together. Some days I miss it, but you were ready. Another example of just how much you are growing up.
you learned how to ride your bike too!


so serious

Your biggest accomplishment this year - you are potty trained! It has been about 3 months and you are doing great. Accidents still happen but that's ok. You are also completely night time trained. I am amazed. I would like to take full credit for all of this but really it was all you. I just do the laundry :).



As a reward for potty training you got a big girl bed! You started climbing out pretty regularly so we figured it was time to make the change. The bedtime routine takes a little longer, and you no longer take naps (so sad!) but you love your bed. And when you get ready for bed it all has to be perfect, meaning every single stuffed friend you have must be in bed too. (Even the ones Mommy tries to hide in the drawers) I have no idea how there is any space left for you!



You got your first haircut this year! You were brave and sat in the chair all by yourself! So proud!!


You got a new cousin...Miss Molly. You love playing with her and making her giggle. I think the two of you will be great friends.


And we settled into our new state....
exploring the zoo and checking out the view

crayola experience....so much fun!

cheesesteaks yum!!!!



These are a few of your favorite things:

Favorite TV show: Bubble Guppies 
Favorite Movie: Trolls
Favorite song: Helicopter or Dinosaurs



Favorite book: Highlights magazines picture search - and Little Blue Truck
Favorite toy: Anything small - little people, Disney characters, barbie - the smaller the better
Favorite food: Peach packs and fruit snacks (shhhh don't tell the dentist)
Favorite Holiday: Christmas 

Best stuffed friend: All of them!!! When we travel usually kitty or octopus get to tag along. 


Best real friend: Charlotte (and Harley) and all your cousins!

RAWR cousins!!!

Favorite activity: Camping, swimming, swinging at the playground, playing with Charlotte 





We did a little traveling this year too....

California




Camping.....




The Shore






Florida.....

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Just over a week ago we celebrated Norah's 3rd birthday at the park near our house. We booked the pavilion across from the kiddie pool and playground, and thankfully the rain held off. We were blessed to have so many of Norah's friends come out to wish her a happy birthday. Norah had a great time and we are still enjoying the leftover cake! It was the perfect day!!



the beautiful cake

the birthday mermaid





pizza time!!

YAY swimming!!!


getting ready to light the candle!


one last smile before cake!

her new balance bike! 

can't forget about the new helmet for her growing head

PRESENTS!! 

having a blast opening all the gifts faster than mommy can take notes ;)

Happy 3rd Birthday Norah Jane!!

Thank you to everyone who came out to celebrate with us! Norah is still talking about how much fun her party was! 
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My Mom came for a visit in the beginning of June and we managed to squeeze in a lot! Birthday celebration, family photos, end of school programs for the girls, camping, museum, sesame and more! Oh man I'm exhausted just writing that. It was a busy and fun 12 days and we were so sad Nana had to leave to go home. Come visit us again soon! 


Nana flew in on her birthday so we made her dinner and a yummy cake! And the girls did a cute little art project as a gift for Nana.

paintings in progress. Nana's new bathroom art!

I still can't believe school is out. Norah completed her first year of preschool and Charlotte completed her last. They have grown up so much!! The school put together some adorable programs and I was so sad to say goodbye to everyone.

my baby is getting so big!

off to kinder in a few months!


Norah and her teachers - Mrs Vega and Mrs G

happy last day Norah!

waiting for Charlotte's program to start

Charlotte's amazing teach Mrs Ford - we will miss you! ........................................And her BFF Charlotte!


As a little birthday gift we took Nana camping with us. It was a local spot about an hour and a half from our house - a nice KOA with lots for the kids to do. Swimming, playground, and fun! We explored the nearby areas each day and of course had lots of s'mores. 

Nana's cabin was right next to our campsite

one of my favorite parts of camping - playing games

playground time!



good morning Norah!

playground stop in Lancaster while out and about

cheers!



One of the warmer days we headed to the Academy of Natural Sciences. It is actually a Blue Star museum - free for military - which was a wonderful surprise. They had dinosaurs, butterflies and a giant bug display. The girls enjoyed exploring and dressing up in the various bug costumes they had. 

The butterfly room!

my very own blue butterflies - so pretty!

GIANT bugs - ahhhhhh!!!


watch out for that spider!

touching a dinosaur bone! wow!!


One day we took a trip to Sesame and enjoyed the warm day riding the rides and splashing in the water. This is one of our favorite summer spots. 



even though it was nice out that water was cold!!


One thing that has been on our Philly bucket list: Longwood Gardens. We had heard a lot about and it and were finally able to get over there to enjoy their evening fountain program. Every weekend in the summer they play themed music to the fountains. It is unbelievable!! I wish we lived closer so we could go more often. If you haven't been I highly recommend it. It will be a place we bring guests back to for sure. These fountains put the Bellagio to shame!
asleep on our drive out - gotta rest up for the show!

all set up waiting for it to begin

beautiful flowers everywhere!


beautiful!


a million times better in person!



And finally just a few more photos from Nana's visit.....

pool day at a friends house

being silly with Nana

breakfast on our last day

my silly and cute girls!

Thanks Nana for visiting us and helping us cross off a few more items from our Philly bucket list. We made some wonderful memories! We love you Nana!

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About two weeks ago we had some wonderful family photos taken by Jessica Lynn Photography. The session was set up through my amazing MOMS Club. It has been a while since we had any professional family photos taken. We usually get a friend or family member to capture a good holiday photo, so we were long over due for some professional ones. 

The timing of it worked out too - my Mom was able to join in for some of the photos. It was a quick and easy 30 minutes and Jessica was great with us and the kids. She offered us a good amount of direction and changes of scenery. I always get nervous before photos - with two little ones it seems impossible to snap one picture where everyone is smiling their best smile. But somehow we got a lot of good images from this session! I think we will definitely we using her again inherited future. Thanks Jessica!


my girls

my favorite. 






giggles

my beautiful Norah

stunning Charlotte




serious and sassy.

silly girl, always moving! 



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