Vacation P2 nearly done

The post-Lars part of our time in NY is nearly over but we have made the most of it.  My family and friends in NY have been great and I’ve enjoyed seeing who we can see.  The kids have not been to bed near bedtime in days and there has been tons of visiting and driving.  We haven’t done anything ‘grand’ and vacation like other than the trip to the cloisters, however, I love our playground time with friends and backyard bbq and just being around people.

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Last weekend we did adventure out to NJ to a family birthday for my great aunt’s 90’th birthday and informal family reunion.  I’m reminded I actually do have relatives in MN and also MI and it is on me that I have not seen more of them.  Well, can only go forward and do better when we get back.  The funny part of the party was seeing how tall I am compared to my ethnically Maltese family, as island people they just top out at 5ft tall, so I tower above them.

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Sunday, fathers day, we face timed with Lars and went sailing with dad and in between hung out and brunched with high school friends who have all become great parents in their own rights.  Monday we had to wait for kids to actually wake up and then we went to my sister Josie’s house where we generally hung out and started to build the most annoying shed ever.  I told Lars about it that night and he reminded me of when a friend got so frustrated at a shed he was building that he destroyed it in a fit of rage Hulk style and now I understand why.  It was still fun to just have a day with my sister doing normal stuff.  Our Monday evening plans were 20 min away at Miss Math’s house  where we ate dinner and kids played and we talked and her husband hid to avoid the girl talk.  Another late night but worth it!

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Yesterday I tried to find hardware for the house but the place we went was more disorganized showroom than a place to find a deal but Miss Math joined me so it was worth the trip.  Then to make sure there was fun in the day, we went to find the ice cream truck.  Note I say “go find” because in NY they roam the streets and if you EVER come out of your house you get a permanent star on his route map and that truck will come back 5x a day all summer.  Unless you want a daily discussion about ice cream and its relation to dinner/lunch/cash/diet never let the truck know where you live.  The park was lovely and there was shade and a breeze and #3 godfather made an appearance and the kids got icecream sticky and we were just walking home when we met up with Aunt Josie (I had her kids) and home we went to meet more friends for games and eat dinner.

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Today was a grand day where things just fell into place.  Our original plans fell through so we were gifted use of a state park pass and a 75 degree and sunny day to use it.  Niamh was the late sleeper today so we were just about ready to go when my dad had a break in his day so we kidnapped him to go walk a couple miles on the beach.  We did the boardwalk and then up the lighthouse and back along the beach splashing in the Atlantic.  It was just the perfect size outing for the beach and we got home just in time to get Chase from school and for Miss Math to pop in for a quick visit.  We went over to my aunts for a general garden tour and play time and ended up doing dinner and seeing my cousin who usually works far later.  Josie met up with us (I had her kids again) and back to grandma’s for our first quiet evening in ages.  I plan on going out to see another friend tonight and starting the packing process because after tomorrow we hit the road again for vacation part 3; the road trip home.

Tomorrow should be a good one, our plans include seeing friends one more time, dinner on the big boat, and a cousin sleepover so get every last moment together.  Somewhere in that time I need to find all our stuff and get it back in a car shaped package and point my brain back at the things that need doing to get us home again.

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The Cloisters

Yesterday we went off to the noted museum in new york; The Cloisters.  I have never been there because it is in a very hard part of the city to get to, and, it is a very niche collection so when given a choice of how to spend time we always choose to be more downtown and get to see more in the day.  This time we decided we were going and set out on the 1.5h drive (that took 2.5) and lucked out with a great parking spot and also a very pretty day.

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The cloisters is basically a 14th and 15th-century European collection so I had told the kids that “everything you see in this museum we can do in the SCA” (the history group we do).  Convincing kids museums are fun isn’t ever easy unless there is a dinosaur involved but they are getting better at appreciating.  Anyway, the big surprise when we walked in was that they are doing a modern art exhibit for closing inspired by the collection.

Yup… that was a weird mix of awesome and fail at the same time.

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The dresses were outstanding, showing that high-end designers, when asked to make wearable art, can absolutely do it 110%.  They were also displayed perfectly in the spaces, truly showing that someone in charge was both artistic and skilled.

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I didn’t go crazy with pictures because I know I can get better detail from the online catalogs but seeing them in person is something special.  The unicorn tapestries were all they are ever hyped to be and recently reading a book they featured in made them more real to the kids.  Overall, having the kids do math about the items impressed them that they were inches away from things created 900 years ago.  To my European readers, I know, your post office is probably 900 years old but for us that is pretty impressive.

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The other excellent thing about this museum is that the building IS part of the exhibit.  Every door and window and most of the stones are from 14th and 15th-century monasteries.  I wish I had more time to look at everything but the impressive part that I’ll carry forward in my life is the walled garden.  I always thought the walls would make too much shade but this shows that plants in the center do very well and there is nice shade around the edges for sitting and looking at the garden.  Given I will be in a place with lots of land I may be experimenting with the concept since it will be a good way to keep out the wildlife and also create an interesting structure on our flat rectangle of land.

We left the pocket universe of the Cloisters and headed back and as if we needed more reasons not to live in the crazy land of long island we took nearly 4 hours to get back.  To give perspective, we can drive to the close part of Canada from our house in the same amount of time.  It did give me an opportunity to get a nice landscape picture while stopped on the bridge so that’s good at least.

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The day was not lost at all.  One of the very very best things about visiting family is that there are more adults in the system so things get handled.  My sister turned up at parents house and created dinner that was 10 min from done when we walked int.  Way better than facing dinner decisions after 4 road fried hours.  We topped off the night with a visit to the big boat with friends and floated at dock while the kids played and generally had fun.

Today Lars when home and now we enter into phase 2 of vacation – the solo mom adventure.

Postcards from our travel

Last week Friday we packed up the minivan and hit the road after work.  The kids are getting pretty well trained and I have to say this was one of the best trips for travel behaviors yet.  The combo of learning to read, and, lifelong training meant that while it was still a loooong trip, nobody wanted to abandon anyone on the side of the road at any time.

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We spent Friday night in a Chicago hotel, and Saturday in an eastern PA one.  We made good enough time that the kids got some pool time in PA and the next morning we visited with family in the area and then back on the road to my parents’ house.  Traffic was not perfect,  it never is, but, only added on a little over an hour so all in all it was a 20 driving hour trip.

Once we got here my only plan was to be here.  We have been making plans as we go but given that we are on vacation and nobody else is, we have plenty of chill time.  There is a big 90th birthday reunion style party this weekend that since we are here we will go to. I’ve learned from being away that where there is a chance to see everyone, take it.  You never know when the next one will come and for some of the people who are in their late 80’s I way prefer to visit them now then regret the loss when it is too late.   I’m lucky that I enjoy 90% of my family and even the crazy 10% are not offensive, just not my preferred brand of crazy.

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On the vacation bucket list we have gotten out on the big boat, had a cousin sleep over party, gone out for ice cream, and played in the parks.  Its a bit cold for the beach but maybe next week.  Just like most times you visit family, it isn’t truly a ‘vacation’ it is just living life in a different place with fewer responsibilities.  I am glad we are here now, it is a great break from house packing at the very least 🙂

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Day 102

We have cabinets!

And doors!

I also picked colors and fingers crossed they will look good.

I’m going to ny so no pictures for a week but by the time I’m back I expect siding and maybe even flooring. There was a pile of wood that will become stairs so fingers crossed! 9 weeks to move in, the list is still long but working through it.

How is packing going?

I’ve been posting a bunch about the new house.  I’ve been posting about the summer.  I didn’t know people were actually interested in my packing progress but I got a few questions so why not!  Here is a packing post.

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looks worse before it looks better… how 3 kids pack

Lets set the scene; This house has 5 people in it full time and a small dog.  3 children who require feeding and activities and a husband who is working full time so while his body is in the building, he is not available for help in general.  He does take them to Jujitsu for 2 hours 2x a week so that is ‘my time’ and I’m using it to pack these days.

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what a helpful dog!

We also have the VERY good fortune of being able to live here until late July and our new house will be done in early Aug so we are going to go live in a tent for a week.  That means that I can’t quite put the packing machine if full swing or we will be 5 people in an empty house for longer than necessary.

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is it too early to pack the kids?

Since we have 3 weeks between needing to be out of this house and can be in the new one, we are getting a storage container that will live on our new land until we can unpack.  Not the traditional ‘put it in a truck’ but more in line with how cross country/military movers take your stuff and you follow, but, you are without your household goods for a week or 2 while it is in transit.

Method

My military sister had great tips.

  1. clear out a room 100%.  In that room put what you DO NOT want packed.  For us that is the stuff we need for about 2 weeks on vacation.
  2. Zone/type pack.  I did shoes yesterday as a ‘type pack’ and the day before I did ‘guest room’ as zone pack.

Who’s helping? I am involving the kids rather than trying to do it around them.  They have a 1 box a day goal and they are surprising me by what they are willing to put away for 2 months.

Keep/donate/toss; I’m sure you can guess, not everything is making the move, every packing project starts with a trash bag and a donate bag.

Tools; Packing would be 2x faster if my tape gun and sharpie had locator tags, I lose them constantly…  I’m trying to be better by using a plastic bin as my ‘toolbox’ and it holds the labels, marker and tape gun.  Even if I just put them there at the end of a packing session I’m better off then if they get left ‘somewhere’.

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building a box wall – that white tray on top is my ‘toolbox’

Timeline

June; In order to not pack everyone up too early, we are going to visit my family in NY for 10 days – leaving this Friday and coming back the last week of June.  We have started though….

July;

Week 1 and 2 – more general packing and enjoying the holiday etc

Week 3 – disassembly of things that can disassemble – container arrives on July 20

Week 4 – Monday; movers for all the big things  Tuesday; we finish what is left.  Wednesday beds and last bits into the container and it goes away via big truck, we move in with friends for 2 nights.  Thursday clean the empty house.  Friday close/go on vacation.

I tried to make the timeline to suit our life and keeping it as ‘normal’ as possible and we actually have a really long time to get the work done.  That can be a positive or a negative because I can’t just wholesale pack until the very end.   For the last 2 weeks the kids will be in all day camps so we can focus.  I need to build in a few nice things for a date night but the fine details can happen as they happen.

I probably won’t bore the world with another ‘how I’m packing’ post but who knows what will pop up on Instagram on the subject.  There is something satisfying about a totally empty closet or the box wall growing.

Day 100

Current status;  Drywall up, taped, sanded and primed. Garage door installed.  Counters selected and in process. 12 of 27 lights procured.

Next; (me) buy more light fixtures, choose colors.  (them) paint, woodwork, floors, cabinet install

Status; 725 of 1000 – still no toilets! and while all that wall work was probably exhaustive, it was still just 1 thing on the list.

We visited last week mid spackle and now we know why walls happen before floors.  It looks like a seagull convention in there.img_6689-1

For something that hardly existed on paper 4 months ago it is pretty impressive how close to done in feels.  Remember when I said the devil will be in the detail?  Well yes, now is the time I’m writing long emails full of questions because I just don’t know all the things.  I am VERY glad to have a designer friend that knows at least some of the construction tricks and is helping me not panic decide.  I’m also VERY glad that Vacation Mom likes to help ride along and pick because without her support and child wrangle skills we would still have plywood counters because deciding on massive chunks of stone and parenting don’t mix well.

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Focusing on the cool stuff, stone places just have amazing sheets of gorgeous slabs.  You can’t help touch them all as you walk by.  It is hard not to just view some as art and it is brutal to pull yourself back to the reality of what YOU can actually cook and eat on – full well knowing that you will probably need 10min of tidy to actually find that island once it is installed.  For us, we did a very subtle marble on the counters and a statement granite on the island.  This was the #1 upgrade thing Lars wanted in the house.  In the end, I picked because he had to work and realistically they are all so pretty.

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This is our slab!  I put my name on it.  We have bonded…. 

Colors are driving me crazy right now.  I actually really love lots of colors but I also love the calm zen of the monochrome.  This house probably won’t host the Queen of England but I like to think our friends should be entitled to our best too so I’m trying to make it both personal and cultured and inviting.  We also have a paint budget to stick to and here are a few questions I wish I asked before this point in time because my designer friend brought them up and I need the answer before I go on;

  • does ceiling and closet paint count into my color total?
  • does trim color count into the total?
  • Can I have different colors in the same room?
  • Can I have different colors on the same wall?

There are some more questions, I have a feeling my builder dreads opening my email, but I just need the rules and I can work with them.

This week I need to get the front door selected because of lead time and the tile people want me back to confirm what we selected months ago.  It is fun to have so much input but it is also exhausting.

Pretty soon we can start a count down instead of a count up.  Move in day is Aug 12, just 10 weeks away.