1. This week Home Depot had a sale on mulch so we bought a ton of bags (...literally, I bet they weighed over a ton...) and last night and a good part of today, Dan and the kids and I slashed and dumped bags over all the landscaping beds around our house and yard. We didn't mulch anything last year (we are fans of the old get-two-years-out-of-one-mulching-job idea) so everything looks especially nice and fresh right now. The kids are significantly bigger now than they were two springs ago, and so could do a significantly larger part of the workload.
2. Spring has finally come to the frozen northeast; maybe for good?! One can hope. We had a snow squall last Sunday but it quickly melted and we have seen increasing temps all this week. I'm headed out early tomorrow morning with my friend Rachel for our bi-annual overnight backpacking excursion on the AT. (Does bi-annual mean twice annually or once every two years? I feel like I should know these things... at any rate, we go twice a year, in the spring and fall.) Our "big" goal is to hike all of the AT in Pennsylvania, which I think is about 220 miles; after this trip we will have knocked off close to 50 of that. It will probably take us at least another 5 years... but why not? We're in no rush. I'm so excited to get back out there.
3. It's a gorgeous spring afternoon so I brought the kids and their friend down to the beachfront at our neighborhood lake. If you're friends with me on Insta, you know that pic I posted of me in flip flops, lying on a wooden dock by the lake? That's where I am typing this now, and I have to admit, it's pretty euphoric. The kids are catching salamanders and the sun is bright and I can hear the water lapping at the lake's edge. The spring peepers are in full chorus and it's breezy and... beautiful. And I'm drinking cinnamon dolce coffee, so I have to say, I am WINNING all around right now.
4. My big two have been doing PSSAs all week, and have another week ahead. (It's our state standardized testing.) It's cute, each week of testing, each younger class "sponsors" an older one who is testing. Each day they bring them snacks and write them encouraging notes and cards. (Hallie's card from a second-grader said "you can do it! I love you." haha!) The school also gives the kids free breakfast all week, and when they're done testing each day, they go outside for an hour-long "nature walk" in the woods to recharge their brains. It's pretty great! And I don't know, maybe this is all run of the mill, but as someone with little to no experience in the world of public elementary schools, I find myself being really impressed by the thoughtfulness that I see again and again.
5. Seven weeks of school left. Eleven weeks of summer. Then back to school again. UGH. I find myself torn between wanting to plan the heck out of all eleven weeks in order to make sure we do every fun thing (water fights! hiking! campouts! beach trips!) and also wanting to throw literally every plan to the wind and fly by the seat of my pants all summer long. We do have a few things that have to be planned ahead (travel to Missouri for a family reunion; hosting our Fresh Air kid from NYC) but really, I'd be most happy to wake up every day with no plans, figure things out as we go, and eventually end each day at the lake. Practicality and my ideal version of life do not always coexist well... I'm sure that's not unique to me though.
6. I recently read When Breath Becomes Air. It's such a good read. So full of the big questions about life, death, faith, meaning... and it's so well-written. It's one of the few books I would recommend to everyone. The author, Paul Kalanithi, not only had several advanced medical degrees (as a neurosurgeon and neuroscientist) but a BA and MA in literature. He melded the big ideas and processes of highly specialized science with the big thought concepts of poetry, writing, and literature in a way that I have never encountered before. Definitely recommend.
7. On my way to the lake earlier, I saw one of Will's friends going off the community rope swing into the lake. Of course Will (who had naturally brought his suit) wanted me to stop immediately so he could join. He sent me a text from his friend's phone about an hour later that they were walking to another friend's house for a bit. Yes, I have a kid who is old enough to go off a rope swing without adult supervision... and yes, it's pretty great. :)