Here’s our Eliza…  She has captured all of our hearts.  She’s a cute stinker who is learning something new everyday.  She’s eighteen months in these May pics and feeling mighty tempted by those tulips.






~ Lora

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Birthday philosophizing

Jeremy turned 9 in May. It was fun celebrating with a family party, and then a gang of ten boys a few days later. Someone at school once said to me, “You are so good about having all these kids over for birthday parties.” Like I deserve sainthood or something. Ha! Well, I can’t say that I look forward to the experience… I just hope to survive it. I figure I can deal with a few hours a few days in the year that are super busy and slightly crazy.


Jeremy at his family birthday party.


Jeremy’s cake for his class party. It’s supposed to be a lego minifigure head for my lego obsessed boy.

Here’s my philosophy about birthdays.  Birthdays are super exciting for kids.  Having friends over is doubly so.  So don’t worry about your neat house.  Why not inconvenience yourself and let the hoards come over for a couple hours.  You don’t need to clean the house – just tidy it and be a little organized and prepared.  And have your husband at home if you can. It is a chance to get to know the other kids in your child’s class, and also meet parents when they come to pick their kids up.  We usually end up chatting in the front yard as the kids run circles around us on scooters.

Here’s how we work the birthday thing in our home. Every other year till they are about thirteen, they can have all the boys or girls in their class for their birthday party. This is usually held on a Friday, after school till 7 pm or so.  The other year they can invite a few friends over for their birthday.  This way I will not have three big parties within one month.  We also have a family party when I usually have my mother and father-in-law, sister Nicolette and family, Scott’s sister Kathy over and any Canadian family that happen to be down. Family parties are easy affairs…. cake and coffee. Once in awhile (like last year for Katrina’s 13th) I invite the whole family clan for a birthday party.





Kids birthdays are not too fancy.  We usually have the party at home. Taylor and friend Chris were a great help with Jeremy’s party, planning out a treasure hunt for two teams the day before, and then running the hunt the day of the party. This year we had different stations the kids rotated through.  Basketball, trampoline soccer, air hockey etc.  Taylor and Chris organized this as  well.  (Hurray for older helpers!) Soccer is always fun, splitting the boys into teams. Since three of my kids birthdays are in late spring, our pool, slip and slide and sprinklers have often played big parts in their parties.

I decorate with what I have at home – usually balloons, and some streamers, maybe matching, maybe not.  I always make a cake which I ice and decorate, but I never go all out.  I have never made a choo choo train cake although I have admired them from afar :)  Winnie the Pooh from a special cake pan was my biggest stretch.   My kids are happy if they have two colors of icing on their cake.  The cake is always spice cake (basically like a carrot cake minus the carrots and raisins etc., with a cream cheese icing).  Goody bags consist of candy, maybe a glow stick, lego minifigure or hotwheel car.  Girl parties are easier because they aren’t so physically intense (running after hyper boys) but harder because there is more of an expectation to do a cool craft etc. of which I am not that type.  However, since Katrina is so creative, she usually comes up with her own fun involving putting on plays with lots of dressing up and video recording.

I have noticed that people often have big birthdays for their really little kids (say four and under) and then it fizzles out when they are in grade one or two.  I think little kids don’t care about all the fuss… they just like to eat some icing off their cake and open a few presents.  Older kids really enjoy birthdays, and the older they get, the easier their parties get.  So save your energy moms, for the years that really count.  Your kids will remember fondly the birthday parties you were willing to have.  I remember that my mom (mother of 10 kids) regularly let us have (non-fancy) birthday parties, even into high school.  If she could do it, I have no excuse!

~ Lora

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Spring things…

Before it is summer I figured I ought to post some Spring-ish happenings and pics from life at Brightwood Cottage.  On Easter weekend we had a visit from Vince and Petra and their six kids.  Unfortunately I failed to take many pictures. The kids had great fun exploring their new surroundings with our kids.

After they left,  we went for a week to Williamsburg, Virginia with my parents and Irene.  The historic part of the town is set in the colonial days right before the revolutionary war. There are many interesting tours, reenactments, and other events to attend. We had a great spring-weather week, and the kids enjoyed the historic town as well as other fun activities like mini golfing and zip lining.

Group shot at the palace gates in Colonial Williamsburg

Group shot at the palace gates in Colonial Williamsburg

The boys have been enjoying the trampoline and have invented a trampoline soccer game which keeps them very entertained.


Spring is never spring unless you do some gardening.  Scott built walls around this very neglected garden next to our patio.  It’s great when the kids want to get involved in outside work.  Hopefully some of our children will become gardeners as well!

Annika glad to use her garden tools doing real work.

Annika glad to use her garden tools doing real work.



Taylor, Annika and Jeremy spreading mulch.


Our school had a Saturday afternoon picnic in April.  The kids enjoyed the chance to play outside for a couple hours without having to come in from recess.


Jeremy, Annika and Eliza with a new friend.


Finally at beginning of May, Doreen and John came down to NJ.   We (Dor, John, Nic, Mike, Scott and me, and all the kids) spent Saturday at Fosterfields – a working 19th century farm. First we celebrated Juliet’s birthday and had the requisite morning coffee.  Then the kids and adults enjoyed the wagon ride and relaxed exploration of the animals and buildings.

The parents...

The parents…

... and the kids.

… and the kids.


Nana made Jules a new nightgown and one to match her doll.

Nana sewed  Jules a new nightgown for her birthday, and one to match her doll.

Well that just about catches you up to life in our parts. Life has been full and blogging is sort of a luxury.  No promises, but I’d like to get in the swing of things again.

~ Lora

Posted in celebrations, child's play, family, garden, kids, nature, outdoor fun, sight seeing, vacation | 2 Comments

Spring is coming, spring is coming!

We are in a warming trend, like most of the U.S.  Hurray!  Still snow everywhere, but the kids have been biking, scootering (is that a word?) and enjoying the above freezing temperatures.

Even before the cold departed, I could tell spring was coming.  Windows were streaming in evening sunlight, that had previously not seen a sunset in months.  Ever notice how not only are the days are shorter in the winter, but the sun rises and sets in a much smaller radius?  So when I glanced into my front hall the other day, and saw sunlight streaming in where I hadn’t seen it in a long time, I knew that without a doubt, spring was on it’s way.  And now the temperatures are catching up with the sun’s movement.  Hurray!



And here are some snow pictures taken last week, hopefully the last of the season. I plan to empty the window boxes, and wait patiently to fill them with real flowers. The snow was pretty while it lasted, but I’m hoping that by the end of next week it is all gone!



We live in a house of many windows,and glass door cabinets, which means I get the weirdest reflections in pictures with glass. The arched window that is reflected is actually on a perpendicular wall and facing the camera to the right. No idea how it’s reflection got on the french door glass.


Anyone else excited by the shift in temperatures?

~ Lora

Posted in happiness, home decorating, nature, seasons | Tagged | 4 Comments

Where there’s a will….

So what are soccer loving boys supposed to do when winter lasts forever and the ground is covered in about 15 inches of snow?
Why, spend a couple of hours shoveling a piece of the backyard and set up a goal. Taylor and friend Chris shoveled and flattened enough of the snow in the yard to give themselves some room to practice shots on each other. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.





Even Annika got into the game. The boys are determined to make her a great soccer player!

It always makes me happy to see kids who are willing to work a little to have some fun.

~ Lora

Posted in child's play, family, kids, outdoor fun, seasons | 1 Comment

Winter fun

So I haven’t posted any pictures of winter around these parts. Somehow that seems like a December/January thing. However it is March, snowing outside, and it appears that winter is not going anywhere soon. So lets embrace our reality. Here are some outside pictures of the goings on around here.

We are lucky to have a hill on the side of our property, so that provides a lot of easy to access fun.

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The kids built a big fort about a month ago,  in the half circle by our driveway.  It has several rooms and lots of tunnels. Since February was so cold, it’s still there.

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Although this winter seems to never ending, I am glad that my kids are making great memories of the fun they’re having in the snow.

How has your winter been?

~ Lora

Posted in child's play, family, kids, nature, seasons | 4 Comments


Scott has been gone on business for a few days. I woke up the other morning to find this list on the counter:


Taylor is following in his father’s footsteps; both in helpfulness and the need to write lists. Scott is a list man. If it gets on the list it will get done (eventually). But if it’s not on the list, the task doesn’t exist.  This works well for him, and Taylor has discovered that it’s the best method for him to keep organized.

I, on the other hand, rarely write lists. I have some general goals for the week, and long term goals way back in my mind, besides the regular stuff that needs to get done. (Laundry anyone?) I have any appointments written on my calendar, and that’s how I work. I know some people feel like they’ve accomplished something when they cross off their list.  I guess I just see all the uncompleted tasks rather than the ones crossed off.  Lists feel like a form of tyranny.  You must do such and such today!!! Which reminds me of that great Frog and Toad story where Toad writes a list of what he will do for the day, but when he loses it, he is immobilized.

But I digress. Lists never get completely crossed off when you’re a SAHM, you can just keep adding. With little kids, it’s hard to predict when I’ll accomplish something so I grab my opportunities when they arise. I also need to feel motivated. Writing that I must clean the bathrooms on Tuesday morning pretty much guarantees that I won’t do it then. What will happen is that while the youngest are in the tub, I’ll wipe a counter, then get a pail and cloth, and before you know it the bathroom has been cleaned and it did not feel like a CHORE that I had to do.

One caveat on the topic of lists, is that I do use lists to remember things.  My aging brain needs reminders to pick up a child from school late, or run all the errands I need to do in an afternoon.  And I definitely use a grocery list… items listed in order of where they are located in the store.  Ok… so I’m not totally anti-list. I’m just against bossy lists. Shopping lists are good.

What is your relationship with lists?  Good, bad or indifferent?

~ Lora

Posted in about me, handy household tips, organization | Tagged | 7 Comments