It’s confirmed – this kid has what I can only call a certain 3-year-old Je ne sais quoi:


We’ve known this forever, of course, but having her start at a new school, in a class with 25 students, shows us that it lives on. She had absolutely no trouble transitioning to her new school. In her words, “The same: You can’t run with rocks and there is snack time. Different: I don’t have to nap and I learned about a town near the state of Earth, called the Milky Way.” In her new teacher’s words: “Clementine is so comfortable and confident. It’s not like she is overly outgoing, but the other kids – both new ones and kids who have already had set friends for a year – just flock to her and want to sit next to her. She’s extremely engaged and just, really great. I’m so glad she is here.”

Which is not to say that she doesn’t still drive us crazy on a regular basis!


Her negotiating and stubbornness, and even occasional meltdowns (not at school – she saves them for home) continue, but you can usually figure out what’s causing them (at the shore, she was not feeling in control of her life; on school mornings, she’s just plain tired and not used to being awoken). But we know that those strong personality traits, once we survive them, will just make her even more awesome once she trades that lunchbox for a briefcase:

IMG_3722Clementine can finally count to 20 (and higher now) WITH the number 15, and her reading (just 3-4 letter words) is getting better and better. The interesting thing is that she OFTEN will tell you that she can’t do something, or that her brain doesn’t remember things, or other self-conscious statements that will break your heart. We are trying to change that, but I wonder if it’s going to be tough being in her academic big sister’s shadow?


The good news is, it’s pretty obvious that our two yin and yang girls are going to be good for each other in the long run – between Annabelle’s academics and Clem’s social magnetism, the Darling Davis Daughters will be a force of nature!



Back to Reality

Is it even possible that we started out this week in Philly, hanging out at Pop Pop’s river Monday morning?


Since then, we’ve visited both schools and met the new teachers, gotten backpacks and lunchboxes ready, reunited with our friends and neighbors, got back into the swing of work, spent hours cleaning out the house (it only takes a month away to realize the tons of crap that we don’t need anymore), and got to know our dramatically improved, friendlier, egg laying chickens (who now love being petted, held, and even taking selfies):


Of course, we’ve had plenty of time for fun, too:

P1280769All in all, I’d say we Davises are feeling pretty ready to get back into the swing of things. I can’t say we’re excited about Annabelle’s 6:45 morning wake up tomorrow, but we’re ready for it, and excited about the year ahead!


Final Week Up North

Okay so I *may* have spoken too soon about my self-sufficient, perfectly behaved travel buddies. This last week up north without Marc was not quite as smooth as the first legs of our trip. To be fair, the fairer child below was pretty reasonable (although wasn’t quite as enthusiastic in her final week):


But this sassy one below got progressively less agreeable as the final week wore on:

P1280405To be fair, I think both kids are just plain exhausted by now – and with good reason. In our final week, we managed to go from Philly to the shore to Philly to the mountains and back to Philly (adding 8 hours to trip that had already required 12 hours by car), but more impressive is the list of activities – from Annabelle catching her first (4) fish:


to some excellent rides on the Ocean City boardwalk:


To selling >$20 worth of handmade jewelry:

IMG_3475To kayaking to staying up late making s’mores by the campfire (awesome trip to Erin’s home in the Poconos with the girls’ buddied Louden and Ellie – and “Aunt Bridget” joining us/chauffering), to plenty more beach and ocean time, to walks down to Pop Pop’s river, to making paper dresses, to building out train tracks and little people lands (love Mom’s vintage toys), to daily trips to the library (Annabelle was knocking out 4 Magic Treehouse books/day, seriously), to playgrounds and parks to touring Lucy the Elephant to a bike ride to… probably a whole lot more (below: tiny live frog being “encouraged” to go down a manmade race track):


By the end, Clementine was averaging about one major tantrum/meltdown every day or two, which was manageable but was also reminding us all that maybe it’s time to get back home and back into a routine that involves less sugar and more sleep. 

IMG_3474That said, I wouldn’t trade our weeks up north for anything, and feel so blessed that we have the ability (and great family and friends) to manage to pull it off each year. Because no matter who has a tantrum (I’m looking at you, C) or who’s hair might be permanently in dreads (poor sticky-haired, bath-averse AbCD) or who can no longer fit into her pants (okay that’s me), this is the stuff memories are made of:

P1280460We head home tomorrow, but rest-assured – we never stay away long! In fact, flights are already booked to swing back this way in 3 months for Thanksgiving. Until then, trusty blog readers (whom I believe are ALL east coast residents!).

What we did on our summer vacation

I used to joke with friends that a vacation with your kids is not “vacation” – it’s a trip. But I have to admit, I think we’ve turned a corner.


With the girls at 6.5 and 3.5, we suddenly got to enjoy mornings where they got up themselves, played quietly, even foraged for food. And afternoons where they went off scheming (with each other and/or their cousins), worked on big projects, colored, read, or created pretend worlds. Not to mention all the time they were a blast to hang with and kept US entertained!


We flew in Wednesday and spent half a week at the Jersey shore with nearly the whole Arbittier crew.


There were countless beach trips, holes dug, castles built, library and playground trips, and other quality cousin time:


Clementine charmed the entire crew as usual, while Annabelle was off with her BFF, cousin Charlotte:

photo-4Then we drove up to Ithaca, where we had a blast with Amity, Justin, Desmond and Julian – and various parents, grandparents and great gram:




Ithaca was full of our annual favorites – lake time, blueberry picking, and big meals (and some late nights on the dock, drinking wine while the kiddos slept). It was perfect.



We even used a sitter a couple times – enjoying wineries, great meals, and time with childhood friends (both mine and Marc) we rarely get to see:

P1270319All in all, it was a week and a half of blissful, old-fashioned family time that has become a beautiful tradition for our girls. And we love that we’ll be doing it for many, many years to come.

P1260250Until next time, summer vacation!



Annabelle is starting to look so grown up and beautiful lately that sometimes I’m taken aback, suddenly able to see what she’ll look like as a young woman. The only problem? She’s started noticing it too:


Our once clueless kid is now spending longer looking in the mirror, sneaking her glasses off when we’re not around, posing for cameras, finding/applying makeup, and spending her own money on things like clip-on earrings and hair chalk. It’s kind of terrifying that this starts at 6 (with parents who really don’t focus on looks)! Luckily, just as this begins to really freak us out, she goes back to being the Annabelle we know, clueless about anything that isn’t happening in her own head or a book:


Annabelle has had a really wonderful summer this year and has grown up in many ways – she adored horse camp (won “most improved”), really challenged herself in and loved gymnastics camp (her counselor told us how impressed she was that Annabelle, who was so terrified of flips at first that she burst into tears, worked her butt off all week until she was BEAMING with pride that she could do them), and had so much fun in Summer Wonders. She also flew through several swimming levels and our previously anxious swimmer is now a total fish. And in all of these endeavors, she has made great friends and has been praised for her behavior and attitude. What more could a parent ask for?

P1250306When Annabelle is completely engrossed with a friend or cousin, her exemplary behavior definitely falters – just as we saw at school. Suddenly the listening goes out the window, as does most good judgment in her attempts to be cool. Again – at SIX?! But we are getting more aggressive at “calling her” on this behavior, plus we are lucky that most of her influences are pretty darn sweet (like cousin Charlotte below):



Thankfully, when we snuggle with her at night (she’s still not above that, thank goodness!) and ask her if she thinks we’re being too hard on her, she says she doesn’t mind it – that she just sometimes forgets to be good. She admits to being about a “B” in behavior – really good about 80% of the time. Something tells me that she’s more than a “B,” but we probably don’t need to clue her in on that quite yet 🙂