The stories around us

Maybe it is just my brain, maybe it is because kids ask questions you have no possible way of answering like “what is that kids name?” and they point at the model in the poster at the grocery store.  I’ve just started naming them, and then to not destroy my creditably with them I started saying “he is a model they choose for this poster but he looks like a John to me”.  Anyway, filling in the details around scant facts is my go-to brain game.

Right now I drive the same route 2x min a day for school and sometimes more because of activities.  This makes me well acquainted with the shops, empty lots, billboards, and houses along this stretch. It is the stage for the most recent stories in my head.  Last year one of the fields sold and I watched a single guy daily put up a giant structure over the course of a month.  Maybe he was just first on site but to me, it looked like this intrepid person built a very very large ‘barn’ solo.  I imagine him to be a small lotto winner, enough cash to get the land and supplies and to quit his job to follow the dream of building a small business but not enough money to hire help.  Or maybe he is just a mean old guy and nobody wanted to help out so he had the “I’ll show them” attitude as he cleared land, set poles, and then put up sides and a roof.  It seems to be some sort of truck company now, no signs or anything, and while I could probably go to google to get the answer I like imagining better.

Last week another for-sale sign went to sold status on the lot two down from the curmudgeonly lotto winner.  Yesterday there was a pile of supplies.  Today there were 6 guys putting up a fence, it was actually almost done as of 9am so they did a lot since yesterday.  I wonder what is going up there?  There seem to be more than one person on the job at least.  No hope it will be something ‘fun’ because that area is all zoned industrial/farm but I’ll have a good time watching it go up.

 

spring is happening

I think I’m solar powered.  Something about actual sunlight and I want to do more.  It is also bright out now until nearly 7pm and gaining every day, at our peak, we are light(ish) until nearly 10 and longer days just feel like, well, longer days.  The unfortunate thing is I forget to cook dinner until its ‘getting dark’, it is genetic, my mom did the same and I’m still alive so I am sure they will survive.  Anyway, we have been doing a lot and I’m planning more so here is a summary so far.

Niamh’s friend party was a HUGE success.  I say huge because 5 more people than expected came and it was pretty crazy here.  They all had fun and they ran and screamed and semi-participated in organized activities.  I’m glad I vetoed the pinata because getting them all together to do anything was not easy.  We did all sing together for cake, they did all eat together (more or less).  I was stressed for a minute that I didn’t have seating for 16+ anywhere but they actually adapted really well.  They just pulled stools around and nooked inbetween and one kid stood and one kid sat in a baby chair and somehow they didn’t notice that I didn’t have ‘proper’ seating for all.  The other odd win was a game I nearly cut; ‘let’s make a llama’.  I got a 25 pack of little playdoh and printed out a paper with a bunch of llama pictures and everyone got to make a little sculpture and put it in a cupcake wrapper with their name on the bottom and Niamh picked her favorite for a prize.  Given age (11) I was surprised how many of them really really enjoyed a playdoh project.  This was modeled after a baby shower game ‘make a baby’ but you can put anything as the sculpture goal and they will have fun.

The added bonus of a party is the house gets really clean so Sunday we didn’t have much to do but recover.  By later afternoon we were ready for something and Niamh has been bugging me to run with her.  I like running solo, technically for a while there I ran to be not with them, but then again, having a thing that is good for us, free, and something we can do ‘forever’ is a good thing so group runs have been on my list for a while.  Sunday it came true in such a lovely way.  Niamh and Zoe and I ran and Fiona biked and we actually kept a good pace and got to the park nearby and then they played and we ran back again.  For a total of 2 miles and about an hour (including playtime) it was a perfect thing for our first good spring day.  I have high hopes of doing this again sometime soon.

Over the winter each time we had to shovel snow off our hot tub, we started thinking of outdoor patio cover solutions.  We have gone through a few options and have a budget in mind and today we meet with a contractor to talk about what will work here.  This may be a multi-year process or we might get it done sooner.  Contractors are busy too so we might have to decide if we want to wait or DIY.  It is up in the air but the project that is happening now.

Another discovery about our land is that water settles in far too wide an area, we need a smaller deeper spot for it to go.  We have talked with the builder and as soon as the ground is ‘right’ we are digging a pond/drainage so I’m researching rain garden v pond.  Both have pros and cons really but we need to do something because right now our front yard is a large shallow lake far too often.

Next up is a garden.  This is more construction and work for who knows what return but #1 really really wants one and based on the number of deer hoof prints we see if tomatoes and beans are to have any chance at all we need to build a fence.  I’m researching fenced gardens and you can go all out with them, or, just string up chicken wire…  we will have to see what we have time and energy for.

Easter is sneaking up on us too.  Today I squared away egg hunt plans and baskets are under control but the rest of the weekend is still unplanned.  Not having family or really a good church community makes religious holidays difficult.  Anything will be better than last year where we cleaned and painted in house selling prep so there is nowhere to go but up.

That is all for now, time to get out there and do the running around town.  Need to pick up a tuned up bike and sign for taxes and grocery shop etc etc etc.  Winter hibernation is officially over.

11 years a mom

My first daughter is officially 11.  Last year birthday stuff got absolutely lost in the ‘magic’ of moving.  Each had a party, each was celebrated, none got a proper blog post and we never did do our adult friend/family party (people that would be invited to all 3).  This year we are in a much better place to pay proper attention but this time I hesitate to write a full-on letter publically to #1 because other things have changed.

  • She is pretty good about me sharing stuff but she is also shy about somethings so like all internet parents I need to make some boundaries
  • I am a bit more of a public figure, not that school board is the same as president however my name is more out there locally and the kids don’t need the extra microscope on them
  • There was a really scary local thing where a man spotted a kid getting off the bus and decided he would kidnap her.  They had no relation otherwise, he just saw her one day.  He broke into her house a couple weeks later, shot her parents, kidnapped her and there was a multi-week search and most had given up.  She rescued herself in the end, she was locked in a room but figured out when he was gone and got out and made it to a road and got help.  She is ok as can be expected but the safety we all feel is a little less secure.  Not that *not* blogging about my kids could have prevented something like that, however, less info as the world gets smaller is probably better.

On the other side of the coin, this is my record of what we do and how I see the world.  The title reflects that – I have been a mother for 11 years.  It has been a really interesting 11 at that, I’ve learned, made mistakes, apologized to nearly everyone in the world for something I felt I did badly, let go of some notions, adopted others and generally aged a decade in the process.

For this birthday we had the good fortune that it was on a Sunday so I let her sleep in and we did a nice breakfast followed by picking out a bike from the shop (to be delivered next week) and picking up a friend for a rock climbing adventure.  We had a little time at our house while I cooked the pie that needed hours to chill and the girls decided to have some impromptu sewing time.  They made a pretty reasonable elephant pillow with minimal supervision.  11 is really good like that, the basic sewing machine set up and a 2-minute lesson of ‘follow the line and go slow’ and they were good.

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Rock climbing was a blast.  The place is just far enough away that we won’t do it often but it is a great thing to try.  They have harnesses that are super safe for solo climbing and give just enough upwards pressure that I had no problem with the climbs beyond figuring out where to put my hands.  I’m very glad I work out though, however, I wish I had my 6-year-olds weight to strength ratio.  She was like a spider on the wall and even did the free climb.

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free climb area, to practice the extra crazy overhangs

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pink shirt up there is her, note the overhang she got around!

Yesterday I spent from 11:30 on at school or with the birthday girl.  I did lunch with each daughter and then took #1 out for our mother-daughter afternoon.  We got a pedicure and then found pants that fit her.  The day was shorter than other years because I still had to pick up her sisters but we had a nice time.  The day was capped off by her getting a home visit from our SCA queen and she was given an award of arms, normally an adult award but she has earned it over the past few years doing pretty much everything she was allowed to help the group.  It was a pretty special night overall.  Not bad for an 11-year-old.

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Home visit queen

This weekend we will have a friend party and I have no idea how many kids are coming.  A bunch.  20 were invited.  I’ll just make a lot of pizza rolls and stay out of the way.  They are taking on some of the planning so I’ll be hopefully a support system instead of a cruise director.

Otherwise, I did exciting things like meet with our tax guy.  Next for me is party prep and that is mostly cleaning because that is NOT in this particular 11-year-olds wheelhouse…

NailedIt!

Not that I actually believe that anyone would hold me to my promise of vacation pictures today, but, not happening.  I’m using all the internet in the whole town to attempt to download and then upload videos to apply to NailedIt, a crazy baking show the kids and I watch together.

Over christmas, we all watched the holiday episodes and by the end, I was begged to apply because plenty of my baked creations belong on a comedy baking show.  I sent in a picture and forgot about it.  Then I got an email invite to actually apply!  I bet they send them to everyone but it made me feel special.  Yesterday we did all the videos they requested for the application and I can’t say I am stunning on film but I am not that bad either.  The worst part is that you have to do the application in one shot and I’ve already redone the written part 4x because of computer issues.  This time I am being careful as possible and fingers crossed.

I have about 1 in a million chances of getting cast but hey, trying was fun.  Zoe did a great job behind the camera and only whispered once “I hope we have a fire extinguisher”.  They also asked for any websites and so I directed them here so just in case they actually do read my application and visit;  “Hi Producers!”.  If I get cast they would want me sometime between the end of May and the end of July so I can do that.

And that is all for today, I will leave my computer in peace to upload and hope I don’t have to try a 5th time to submit.  Hey, given how many hoops there are, maybe my chances are better than 1:1000000 because not everyone has the follow through and tenacity to try as long as it takes.

April Already

Last week was a break for the kids from school and I have an entire long post about what we did that I wrote last Thursday.  Why didn’t I publish?  Well, the ol ‘one thing leads to another’ is the core of the reason.  I usually don’t even edit a post (can you tell?) I just write, fix all the computer underlined red line words, pop in a picture or two from my phone and push publish.  This time I had A LOT of pictures so I wanted to actually do an album link for anyone interested in the cool things we saw in Texas.  I thought ‘hey, 15 uploads and I’ll be ready to album and link’.  NOPE.  I somehow turned off my auto upload and had over 600 pictures that upload in random order to Amazon.  Why random?  I just don’t know.  However, the picture you want most is the one that loads last and I’ve learned not to touch it in process or you will just cause more issue.

Given all 3 were home time at the computer without ‘help’ is not all that common.  I set up the uploads and walked away figuring Friday would be fine to post. It was also toward the end of break so everyone was sooooo borrrred and no matter how many times I suggested room cleaning as an entertainment they wanted other things.  They usually managed to find something to do that was not tablet or TV but at one point I threatened to use my power* on school board to cancel future breaks** because they can’t handle so many days at home.  However, at some point, #2 decided to try and guess the code to #1’s iPhone (my old one) and locked it down.  They could not fix it and had to admit to me their mutual problem.  #1 shares blame for actually encouraging #2 to guess.

The trauma of a broken phone for a tween is epic and so I saw my computer time earmarked for making an album for that last Thursday post turn into researching how to resurrect a very locked out older phone.  When I say combing kids hair for lice is slightly less tedious then unlocking an iPhone you may get the picture of my frustration at this situation.  Not really anyones fault, but, something I got to deal with.  Internet says it is easy, put it in safe mode, connect, select ‘restore’ and then the phone will be purged and reinstalled.  For me that additionally meant downloading iTunes, then going through my computer to purge trash etc to FIT all the stuff the phone needed to download to restore (2g worth).  These two steps are both after calls to apple support because there is a trick to getting the newest version of iTunes, and, then a criptic error that appears to be iTunes but was actually from my computer wasted a ton of time.  I needed to tidy the hard drive anyway, but, this was a 2 day process with many attempts and restarts.  Victory at the end though, the phone is fixed!

Any spare computer time between reboots was diverted to finishing the Girl Scout Cookie process.  I’m actually good at inventory and logistics and this system was very hard to use.  I ended up getting creative and after far too much work our account is perfect, zeroed out, and each girl accurate.  If I do this again I have some notes for my future self.

While all this computer nonsense was going on, Lars and I were attempting to car shop.  We started earlier in the month with a solid test drive on a med size SUV with an awesome sales person.  She seemed extra great next to the Honda sales guy who acted like we were wasting his time and then actually disappeared leaving us standing by the not really functional floor model of the Oddysey for 20 min.  I was ready to buy that minivan, I like my current one but it is 11 years old and getting cranky.  I plan on tweeting “thanks Honda sales for helping me find the Chrysler Pacifica”  I didn’t even know there was a minivan from Chrysler since I was happy in Honda land but ignoring us has its consequences.  Anyway, much time was spent at the dealer looking at options and looking for the one we wanted in their network and in the end, we are ordering it from the factory since what we want is a tad more unique than expected.  Oh well, I can wait a month to get exactly what we want.

Yesterday the kids finally went to school.  I did a ton of laundry and catch up in peace, and today I can finally get around to making an album for the pictures that belong in the post from last week that I’ll publish tomorrow.

*there is no actual power over kids via the school board, advisory and oversight

**as an April fools joke I dropped them off and told them that we arranged that all public school were now boarding schools and I would be bringing their pj’s and pillows later in the day.  They took the joke well.  The rest of the day they pranked me and as a once a year thing it is hilarious but ONLY once a year.

ps.  No pictures in this post because I want to actually publish before I need to leave for the afternoon rounds.  Imagine frustrated computer sitting, google Chrysler Pacifica, and that is what I would have inserted had I the time.  Cheers!

Parenting Phase; taxi driving

If you read back in the archives, so much of my time typing into the void is documenting what child was doing what in each phase of development like sleeping, teething, walking, talking, potty training, reading etc.  I’m not as concerned with ‘normal’ as I am with ‘healthy’ and I feel a breath I didn’t know I was holding release every time they pass a milestone mark.  As they get older the phases become less distinct and their personalities become more of the obvious variable and the internet becomes less useful because the note “your 10m old child should begin walking in the next 3 months, early signs of walking are pulling up on furniture or finding balance standing solo” if those even existed for 10-year-olds it would be more like “your child will start puberty in the next -8 to 30 months, early signs are random and only obvious in retrospect, good luck”

ANYWAY, I’ve decided that I will call this current phase we are in “the taxi driving phase”.  This is the time when the kids all want to do things, independent things from each other and us, BUT they can’t drive themselves.  On the positive side, I don’t have to scrape my 3 kids off my legs to encourage them to do something, and, I’m not 100% responsible for filling their time.  On the negative, they sometimes want to do things all at the same time in 3 different directions (that honestly isn’t new, they just all talk more and lobby for their desire better and I can’t just pick them up anymore).  I expect this phase to end in 6 years when #1 has a license and I can get her to drive her sisters to some places and just like teeth growing in, I might have new worries, but they aren’t the same as the old ones.

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sometimes we car nap.  #Backseat Life

In any given week we have girl scouts, 2 different troops, gymnastics, jujitsu, and at least 1 other event at/for school that we need to be somewhere.  This isn’t counting my stuff and also isn’t counting normal travel for dr apt etc.  Throw in playdates and sleepovers and there is usually something every single day.  We have worn out our minivan and are car shopping and one of the factors I consider is how much stuff and people will fit because sometimes I leave at 1pm to run errands and go to the gym and don’t get to park for a final time until 8.  Note I say ‘park for a final time’ not go home because often we do swing by the house to drop 1 child or have a quick snack before we are out again but I start my day composing a post-it of all the stuff I need to remember to take out the door with me when I leave.  Luckily my husband and Vacation Mom are there for times I literally need to be in two places at the same time but here is one example of my taxi Tuesday afternoon;

  • 3:40 pick up Fi at school drive her to gymnastics
  • 4:30 leave Fi in gymnastics class, go BACK to school to pick of N&Z who had choir
  • 5:00 collect N&Z and drive BACK to gymnastics to collect Fi at 5:30
  • 5:35 drive BACK to SCHOOL, the place they JUST WERE but you can’t leave them for the 1h gap because of rules and good parenting and TAXI PHASE.
  • 6pm drop N&Z at girlscouts, drive home with Fi
  • 7:15 drive BACK TO SCHOOL AGAIN to pick them up and then home again

I’m really OK doing all this, it is a phase like potty training- don’t love the process but love the results.  They have passions and responsibilities outside of what I create and that means we are doing things right.   I sometimes feel empowered by how much I can schedule, sometimes I feel like all I do is juggle and worry about the potential for dropping something.  Sometimes I drop a ball and have to fix it because there isn’t really a net.  In general, I am evolving in this mother thing as my children grow and it isn’t easy but it isn’t too hard either.

 

Ps. These are my feelings and I’m allowed to have them.  I’m not complaining I’m documenting.  I realize that my problems are not ‘big’ and some people have it worse and other people wish they had kids to ferry around and why am I complaining at all.  Consider this my boilerplate memo for all child-related posts.