Diy & Crafts

Living With Kids: Jaclyn DiMaggio

Isn’t it great to meet people from all over the country and learn about how their lives are so similar to your own, but also different in their own way? I can’t wait for you to meet Jaclyn today. She and her family live in Baltimore, Maryland.

Baltimore has had some ugly things said about it in the news lately, but hearing Jaclyn talk about it it sounds amazing — urban, but family friendly, full of museums and restaurants and parks. Jaclyn is getting towards the tail end of “toddlerhood” with her kids, and speaks really lovingly about that fun and crazy phase of life. Welcome, Jaclyn!

We are a family of four plus a fish!  There is me, Jackie, my husband Tom, and out two littles, L, a 5 year old boy and L, a girl, who just turned 3 (mixed emotions here).  My husband and I have known each other for over 20 years which is crazy to say out loud. 

We met in high school in New Jersey, but ARE NOT HIGH SCHOOL SWEETHEARTS. I always stress that because we couldn’t have been more polar opposite during that time in both our lives. Our very own Maryland horse race, the Preakness, re-connected us during our senior year of college. Multiple houses, apartments, cities, jobs, and now kids later, we are back in Maryland. 

I said we were opposites in high school and we still are. If you were to describe our jobs and where we work, they are polar opposites too. My husband works in sales in the building materials industry. He is on the phone or meeting with people the majority of the day, exhausting work for an introvert like me. 

I work for a university in operations and it suits me just fine. I did not plan on working in education after college. I set out for advertising. I realized it wasn’t for me, went back to school to get a master’s in education and 9 years later, here I am. I love working for a university.  It is a dynamic and diverse environment and a strong positive culture. It isn’t the most lucrative, but nobody gets into education thinking they are going to make the big bucks right?

The boy who made me a mom is our first “L”. Just about the sweetest boy there is. Everyone that knows him says he’s an “old soul” which is adorable, and when he’s not, he’s a “curmudgeonly old man”. He loves everything in nature especially fishing and the ocean. I’m convinced he will work in science since he loves to explore and wonder about the natural world around him. He’s a very dutiful boy in school and I’m sure will be the teacher’s pet. At home, however, he acts like every other 5 year old boy — emphatically refusing to obey and fighting with…

…his 3 year old sister little “L”. She really threw us through a loop. She’s the opposite of our son. I swear she was talking before she was walking. I even have videos of her trying to get the words out so badly her first year. The doctors were amazed at how well she spoke and all the words she knew. Not only that, she has comedic timing down! She’s in on the joke and it’s hysterical. Even with an older brother, she is such a GIRL. We never pushed her that way. I’m not a fan of the “princess” talk for kids and we don’t watch shows that re-enforce that, but somehow she gravitates to PINK and BALLET. 

She’s a tiny one which is OK because I can still feel like she’s my baby even though she turned 3. I had a hard time with this birthday because I knew she will most likely be our last. The age from 1 – 2.5 was my favorite. Definitely not easy, but so much fun.

We live in a suburb just north of Baltimore, Maryland. To me, it feels “urban-suburban” rather than just suburban. It is walkable to an extent, with a light rail and bus lines, but there are planned neighborhoods and strip malls. Many were planned with a pool club as part of it. 

Our neighborhood is wonderful and has a great public school situated at the heart of it. It won the Maryland blue ribbon award so we are not moving away from this area anytime soon! There is also a very large private school community here, which is different than how my husband and I grew up. We are starting to learn more about it, but we were very happy when we realized our public school is as good as the private school. 

The taxes are decent compared to where we are from in New Jersey, but the housing prices are on the high end compared to the country as a whole. The median home price in this town is $375,000 and ours was over that with most homes in our development between $450K – $550K. The town is very diverse economically. There are condos that are $200,000 a mile down from houses that are over $1 million. 

We have plenty of restaurants and parks as well. One thing we also learned is there is river tubing just 15 minutes north of us. Everyone just brings their own tubes to the jump in point, and floats down about an hour. 

To me, the draw to the area is the connection to majors highways and proximity to Baltimore for restaurants and other culture. We can get to a wonderful zoo and aquarium in 20 minutes. There are art museums, children’s museums, train museums, etc. close by. There is never a shortage of activities and things to do. 

Unfortunately, Baltimore has a poor reputation at the moment and I am really hoping the city can turn any misperceptions around soon.

We looked for a home for about six months with an agent before I found this one. It was on the higher end of our bracket which is why it wasn’t on anyone’s radar. 

The home is almost 75 years old but has got a lot of personality. That’s positive way of saying that it’s a lot of upkeep. Older homes just require more work and we have worked on every room in the house and the projects were not easy. We would always get something started and here comes the, “well, we didn’t anticipate running into __________” which derails it and makes it more expensive. 

Some positive things about living in an older home are the hardwood floors, original wood doors, ample storage and a cedar closet in the basement. 

Since the house is traditional, antiques and older furniture styles fit. Which is great because I’ve come to really value well-made furniture. I would much rather have a piece in my home that has some history to it, rather than particle board furniture that is fake wood, fake leather, etc. Honestly, most of our furniture and rugs are hand me downs and used, which is cheap and just what I’m looking for. 

Some negative things about living in an older home: not energy efficient AT ALL, said doors, floors, and moldings appear worn. And our house isn’t even that old!

I’m not naturally nurturing as a parent, so I would say that organization and logistics are my superpower. I can somehow keep dates and times in my head (we also have a calendar) but it comes easily to me. I also anticipate and plan well in advance. I bought a stroller that could convert to two before having two kids because I wanted to be ready. Having children hasn’t made me late, I just start getting ready WELL in advance. 

Because we both work, live far from family, and have a nanny, we HAVE TO be organized or else it wouldn’t work. I also know that my kids thrive on a routine. There is comfort in knowing what comes next. 

I also try to expose my kids to a lot, I’m constantly researching fun places to go and activities I think they would like. Because they are at home most days, it’s important for me that they get out a socialize with others in different environments.  

I always knew I wanted to work, and I think I’ve found a job that works best for us. I can walk to work which is excellent and another reason why we have a nanny. My husband works from home a lot, so both of us can see the kids during the day easily which is awesome. We can handle drop off and pick up from school the majority of the time too. 

I know it isn’t forever, but for this stage when they are small, it’s honestly the best scenario for two working parents that I can think of. Do I have days when it’s 72, sunny, no humidity (rare), that I wish I were at the pool with the kids? Or a week to just go to the grandparents and hang? Of course. But my job allows us to have excellent healthcare and our current lifestyle. Plus I get a good amount of time off.

My advice to every new mother at a baby shower now is “it’s just a phase”.  And I wish I took that to heart with my first born. I had a bout of postpartum anxiety with him and I feel I didn’t get to enjoy him as a baby as much as I would have liked. 

The births of both were so different. My recovery for my first born was slow and long. My son came during a snowstorm and we were stuck inside for a month and it was dark all the time. My daughter was born in the spring, plus with a two year old, I was forced out. Also, my daughter flew out of me practically, haha. 

I enjoyed her as a baby so much more and I’m sad that I didn’t so much with my son. Also, maybe because I know she’s the last, I really feel every milestone. 

You know how baby hands are adorable? Did you ever look at the knuckles? They have dimples where knuckles should be. My 5 year old still has them. At what age does that go away? I don’t want them to because it means they are out of that stage of childhood. 

Also I’m terrified of my son going to kindergarten. He’s so innocent and sweet, I’m worried he won’t speak up for himself and will become anxious.  I try get him excited and bring him into the elementary school as much as possible to get him comfortable. (I would be happy to hear any advice someone has on this.)

I hope my children reflect on their childhood as magical. I feel like my childhood was ideal, and to me, what makes a childhood ideal is the sense of wonder and magic that occurs. Those moments that we have. Those moments are allowed when a child feels secure and safe. That’s what it should be like as a child. My heart breaks for the children out there that don’t have that.

Oh lordy, I hope they forget the yelling and lack of patience. My Italian upbringing in New Jersey did not provide me with patience. I am constantly trying to work on it. But man it is TOUGH.

The best thing about living with kids are their little voices and the things they say. Both of my kids were early talkers and we are constantly laughing at what comes out of their mouths. We sometimes watch them putz around and are like, “since when did we have little creatures wandering around our house.” It still amazes me. 

I’m really going to miss my daughter’s crib when it goes, their little running feet on the hardwood floors, and the little trinkets that I complain about — but really, the things they gravitate to are so sweet and adorable.

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Thank you, Jaclyn! Doesn’t this make you want to take a trip to Baltimore? It seems like such a family-friendly place and seems like a super appealing place to raise kids. It can be tricky to find a good mix of great neighborhoods with parks and nice schools, that are close to transit, and offer easy access to shops, restaurants and museums. It sounds like such a gem of a place to live.

And I really appreciated Jaclyn’s unabashed love for the baby/early toddler years. There is something so magical about that time. The sense of discovery, the cute voices and laughter. The chubby knees and elbows and like Jaclyn said, the dimples in knuckles.

Every parent seems to have that age range that they just love where they feel the most at ease as parents, right? What’s the magic age for you for your kids? Are you a baby person? Do you love the fun of toddlers and younger kids? Or do you enjoy parenting most when the kids are a bit older and their personalities are a bit more distinct?


Jaclyn’s instagram is private, but if you mention you found her here, she’d love to add you. Living With Kids is edited by Josh Bingham — you can follow him on Instagram too.

Would you like to share your home in our Living With Kids series? It’s lots of fun, I promise! (And we are always looking for more diversity in the families we feature here. Single parents, non-traditional parents, families of color, LGBT parents, multi-generational families. Reach out! We’d love to hear your stories!!) Email us at [email protected]

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