I have had the great fortune of knowing the lady pictured above for 14 years now…that ages me, but that’s ok. We met our first year in college in the beautiful Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts. She is a spitfire to say the least and can have me in stitches in under 5 minutes (and you wonder where her daughter gets it…). Erica is the friend you went to when you needed an answer or a hard honest opinion (the girl can argue her side like no one’s business) and a shoulder to lean on or an ear to listen to your rants and raves. She is true to herself and that is one of the biggest reasons I love her so. I have to admit, I got a little teary-eyed reading her answers – it makes me so proud to know this lady and to see her raising this gorgeous little spirit with such awareness. Please welcome Erica and her family to our series:
Q: Tell us about your family.
Our immediate family includes myself, my husband Sean and our daughter, Sidney who just turned 2. Extended family in and around Boston include my mom and close friends who we spend loads of our free time with and Sean’s brother, sister-in-law and parents who are a short plane ride away in Virginia.
Q: Where do you live? Will you tell us the story of how your home came to be yours?
We live in a small city 5 miles north of Boston called Medford. Sean grew up in Maine and I grew up 20 miles west of Boston in a true “suburb”, where my mom still lives today. He and I met in law school in Boston and have chosen to make our home here. We started living in and around Somerville, another city on the outskirts of Boston during law school and when we moved in together (gulp) 6 years ago. When it was time to buy, Somerville was a “hot area”, in other words, expensive. We bought a townhouse in Medford and in June 2011 bought our current house in another part of Medford called West Medford. We love our house and are here to stay…at least for awhile.
We’re both from New England, met here and built our lives here, both personal and professional. We discussed moving to DC for a brief period, but I couldn’t leave New England. So Sean (very nicely) made the sacrifice to stay in Massachusetts with me and near my family and we’ve continued to build our life here.
The best home feature is our back deck. I admit, we basically bought the house for the deck. Its big and our house is built pretty high on a hill so its very private and we have a great view of the Middlesex Fells reservation which is a really neat “urban” oasis to hike and explore. Also, our house is set into the trees so when you are on the deck and on the main living floor, it sort of feels like you are in a treehouse.
The best feature about our neighborhood is our neighbors themselves. Our houses are pretty close together so if we had bad neighbors, it could break it. But ours are fantastic. There is lots of helping others with yardwork on busy weekends, kids are always riding bikes, people are invited to other children’s birthday parties without a second thought about age differences and there is always someone to sit on a stoop with on a Saturday or Sunday and have a beer. The road itself is also very private, so we feel safe letting Sidney run around in the front yard or between yards with the neighbor kids knowing someone isn’t going to come and run the kids over.
Dying to change…we need another bathroom. But that is in the works. And we need to put in a better retaining wall to protect our backyard. Other than that, nothing much. We’re happy with the size of our house. Its not too big, but big enough for our little family and a little extra if the family grows. We can always find Sidney in it, no matter what trouble she has decided to get into.
I think that we have the best of both worlds where we are. Medford is sort of an “urban suburb”. In 10 minutes we can walk to the commuter rail that brings you into Boston, but also to a local place for muffins and coffee, the neighborhood pizza shop and the hair salon to get my hair cut. Sean and I hop on an express bus to go downtown and we are at work in 15 minutes. We can walk Sidney to her school in less than 15 minutes. We also have gotten to know alot of people in Medford through Sidney’s daycare and just hanging around grabbing a coffee. It is a nice feeling to have a neighbor from a couple of blocks away stop to grab you for a ride into town when you’re waiting for the bus or decide to all meet at the park on Saturday afternoon while leaving school on a Friday. Lots of people are within walking distance. Thus far, we don’t have too many minuses where we are. Would I like a little more of a yard – maybe. But mowing the lawn takes my husband approximately the time it takes to finish one beer and me to give Sidney a bath, so on a Tuesday night when the grass is ankle high, what more can you ask for?
We walk alot. Especially on the weekends. We can walk to a supermarket, the park, dinner and the dry cleaners in less than 20 minutes. Even in the dead of winter as long as it is above 20 degrees, I bundle Sidney and I up and out we go. We log alot of time at the local YMCA taking swimming lessons and frequent a local tumble gym with friends from school.
In the summer we take frequent trips to the beach, both north and south of Boston. Within an hour we can be on really beautiful beaches to swim and play. In the winter my husband likes to ski, so he tries to go a few times each season. We spend a week in Stowe, Vermont every March at the Trapp Family Lodge and love every second of it. Now that Sidney is bigger, we’re going to try to hitch up the bike trailer more and take her for some jaunts around the area.
Sean and I really enjoy eating out and trying different places. Boston and its surrounding cities offer a ton of great dining options. So when we can break out, thanks to overnights at Grammy’s house for Sidney or our wonderful babysitter, we still head out to neighborhood favorites and new places in the city. I tend to head out with my friends as well once in awhile and do the same. We’re lucky in that some of our friends still live in Boston-proper so it makes a good excuse to drive down on a Sunday and take advantage.
We joke that Sidney is “spirited” aka naughty. But its a good thing. We both want her to think independently and not ever question herself. She loves to laugh and get into mischief. So we are walking a fine line of trying to discipline a toddler but not break her spirit, which these days I think that every young girl is going to need in spades. Social media terrifies both of us as she gets older. Its just not something we ever needed to think about. I’m hoping that the mania of it will die down as Sidney gets to teenager-hood.
Otherwise, we want to teach her not to be selfish, pick herself up when she falls and dust it off and to share all the love she has to give often.
Q: If you had a magic wand, what would be one thing you would change or improve about your current set-up (i.e. city of residence, childcare, etc)?
Probably make the school system better from middle school onwards. Right now, the Medford schools don’t have the best reputation. Our neighborhood elementary school is stellar, but that ends in 5th grade. If we don’t want to leave Medford, we will have to consider alternatives or perhaps the schools will be better when we get to that point. Its awhile away though so one step at a time.
We live and die by Plum Organics and Trader Joe’s veggies pouches. They are easy to pack in school lunches and give to Sidney on the run. Otherwise, I love the Jeep all-terrain stroller that we have for long walks in the neighborhood and the reservation. When Sidney was an infant, I went away from the usual suspects and got a Lillebaby carrier. I used it all the time until my very tall daughter finally looked ridiculous hanging off of me. But I prefered it to the Bjorn and it let Sidney face outwards as opposed to the Ergo. Finding it was hard, but worth every penny.
One goal this winter is to get Sidney on skis and have her try out the bunny slopes at Stowe. Hopefully we will be able to snowshoe in the local reservation (if we get snow this year). Someday get a dog. The dream I often think of wistfully is standing by my kitchen window in the next few years and watching/hearing Sidney play in the backyard with other kids in the neighborhood. If that can come true in the next few years, one dream will be complete!