Friday already?

I let the whole week slip by without a post, I’m out of practice or something.

Other than my nonMonday followed by a Monday like Tuesday, I have had a fun and fairly social week.  Back to the stay at home mom thing, I never have a problem bringing the kids out, sometimes I would choose to limit the outings depending on moods etc, but, there are very few places I don’t bring them.  On the other hand, when I don’t have them, I somehow get stuck at home.  My routine of going out apparently requires me getting 2+ pairs of shoes on feet because with just one pair the pull of staying in the house is insane!  I need to get over that because next year I won’t have kids during the week.

This week was not anything out of the ordinary, but, I’ve somehow run us into a very hectic evening schedule that is on the crazy side.  Monday and Wednesday used to be the jujitsu nights but now we have added Fiona swim lessons on Monday nights and Niamh and Zoe lessons on Tuesday.  Thursday we are still doing the ab class (and now I can really notice a strength difference) and after either I have a board meeting or Lars has a guys night.  Friday we either go up to a friends house for a standing Friday visit, or, end up having a school or SCA activity.  Saturday we are either out or have people over and Sunday I have a yoga class and usually we have a set of friends over to play a legacy game (one that evolves over weeks and needs the same players).  Sounds kinda fun but kinda exhausting right?!?

The swim lessons are over this week but we got another session right away because everyone was making good progress and another few weeks they will really get it but if we stop I feel like they will go backward.  In a scheduling twist, Fiona now also has lessons on Tuesday and so I get to go to the Y at 11 on Tuesdays and again at 4:30!  At least I get my Monday nights back?  If you are looking for me, check the spin bike with the good view of the pool.  Our Y has a very nice 2nd floor that has ‘windows’ to the swim area below.  I like to watch the girls in their lessons, but, most of the (very nice and new) equipment has GIANT screens at about face level that I can’t see over or around so my only option for working out AND watching is the spin bike.  It is a good fitness option, just not a comfortable seat for 30 min.  I’ve found myself watching the pool in general as swim lessons are not all that interesting, and, I think I’ve created a 1 sided romance between a lifeguard and a very tattooed man.  He likes her (I think) at least he makes it his business to stay near her and splash her and try and get her attention constantly.  I think hitting on someone at work is very very rude, it isn’t like they can leave!  To her credit, she more or less ignores him.  My own little soap opera, what more can I ask.

So that is my world at the moment.  I’m getting my workouts, the house is even reasonable since my ‘one thing’ a day project is showing results.  I have a new way to get some house keeping out of my children; I assigned each room a number and they roll a die for it.  Odd rooms get attention sometimes but they need it too and I float between the 3 helping and focusing on cleaning for 15-20min as a ‘team’.  Who knows how long the interest will last but I give them the illusion of choice, they can roll the dice or they can pick a room.  My to-do list is still pretty long so while I’m waiting on work to roll in I think I will start the next project or two, just wanted to check in with my bloggy world.

#1 reason I like being a stay at home mom

Random school days off!

Yes, I believe today is presidents day but what was Friday? Next week they are also off Friday and the entire week after and the Monday after that. I know school age care is actually really great, good enough that my kids occasionally request it so they can play with school friends, but I’m really glad I have the ability to be home.

This weekend we enjoyed the spring equivalent of an ‘Indian summer’.  Is there a term for it?  It was 60 degrees and sunny most of the weekend and predicted warm most of this week (today is raining).  The kids are LOVING the ability to just go outside and I don’t even really mind the muddy mess that they are creating everywhere.  A fast thaw like this creates giant mud pits.  All the neighbors and friends are out too, at least half my Instagram and facebook posts were people enjoying the outside.  We biked, the girls did the door to door thing selling cookies, and we took plenty of walks around just enjoying the air (and hunting new Pokemon).  Snow is predicted for Friday but that is really not unexpected in February, so, we enjoy what we can.

The weekend also had a surprise child outing with their Frant (friend aunt) so with only one child I did a deep dive on their messy room.  We are trying some more organization because I had been just putting any small figure into one of 5 containers BUT when they were looking for someone specific all got dumped on the floor in the search.  Our new theory is animals in one set of containers, humans in the other and we had to have a cross over container because of mermaids – human or fish? Fairies? Winnie the Pooh?  Donald Duck? There are also some odd characters that I don’t know what they are, but, they are not animals so into the ‘fantasy’ container they go.  1 day later and they put them back by type so let’s see how this goes.  (by the way, I’m trying this because we have had good luck with dedicated containers for Barbie and Pony and furniture so this is hopefully building on success).  I know, how exciting is my life, but they truly play with all these toys so often I want them to be able to take care of their space.

Today was more cookie booth and a bunch of little things.  I need to get to the library but with the rain it feels like a snuggle and watch tv day.  My Monday is not really my Monday, but, they are enjoying playing with each other and that makes the loss of my order ok (enough).

Using my Political Science

There is something about government that I have always liked.  The important buildings full of people doing important things.  I’m sure that if I looked behind the curtain it would be a lot like any other business, but, a business that is GIANT and dysfunctional full of rules on top of rules and nobody is actually in charge.

In school, I learned plenty about how government worked and while I learned plenty from my text books, I learned as much from my professors.  One said that elected officials absolutely love to see the people that elected them rather than a paid lobbiest, not only do they hear a more genuine opinion, they have the ability to directly do something for someone that will return votes.  Just like in business, the best advertising is positive word of mouth.  Not that the world does not need lobbyists – they actually know all the players and get more done overall, could not get anything done without them.

So when my school district had to find 2 million dollars to cut for the 7th year in a row I decided it was time for me personally to be that parent/voter that goes and shows up and says that we need help.  Our Forest Lake district has a few things working against it;

  1. It is geographically giant!  to pay the bus costs for this area exceeds the transportation allowance by 1 million dollars.  So, we start with a million in the hole.
  2. Not as many bigger businesses to contribute, and, medium income housing overall contributing property taxes
  3. The state asked to freeze for a couple of the really bad years, but, then they didn’t cover that debt later so it’s snowballed.  The per pupil ratio is fairly sad now.

I woke up early, put on a suit and heels and makeup and went with a group to visit all the people possible.  We ran all over, we accidently (sorry-notsorry) blocked hallways, we skipped lunch to maximize time and I think we actually did some good.  I had a feeling lunch would not happen so I packed food, I was not alone, the business manager for the district had cheese sticks in his suit pocket – score one for women, pocketbooks hold more and better food.

The day was interesting in general.  The capital is grand and large and a mix of beautifully old and oddly outdated.  It is full of people in suits, every person in a suit.  It is mostly full of men, mostly white men, but there were plenty of women too and in positions of influence, 2 of the 6 elected people we talked to were women.  Just as interesting was that the secretary/assistant/aid crew seemed to be a mix of men and women too.  I fit in there with my mask of makeup and costume suit but I’m not sure I would want to become a person who needs to go often.  Visiting was fun though!

To make the most of the day I used every scrap of knowledge I had about influence.  I stood up when someone came in, I shook hands, I sat at the table or in the front row.  Eye contact, lean in, speak in the ‘compliment sandwich’, speaking in general; something not many people actually did.  I told them I was a parent, I am a voter, I am someone who wants to help but needs help.  I was respectful and also straightforward.  I’m proud that after every meeting I got the business suit high-five (a nod and a ‘good job’/thanks’)

Unsurprisingly I learned tons from the day.  I went in with a decent understanding of our problem and left knowing what was in the works from various people.  Some people are working on things I didn’t know even existed as issues, others were looking at it a totally different way.  There is no perfect formula but I have more of a concept of the whole picture now, of all the pressing things that are crying out for attention.  On the bright side, I left more confident in the fact that education does seem to be on everyone’s mind and they are at least saying they are working to help.  I also heard that they need suggestions on what would honestly help – there were times whey they flat out said “tell me what to do specifically”

My next step will be to follow up with the people we met to thank them for their time because they were all listening and present.  I will also send the info on to the parents in my groups so they can send notes on specific bills to specific people so they know that the parent sitting in front of them was representative, not just a lone voice.  …I have a feeling this is how lobbyist begins…

Looking past my short term follow up I have no idea what is next but I’m open and hopeful.


Happy Valentines day!


This year, I’m not sure if because it is a Tuesday or what, I’m not doing as much as usual.  I’m actually not even going to see Lars because tonight is the SCA kids practice and also my PTO meeting so we will be in opposite directions until about 8:30.  After that we plan on a nice take out sushi dinner but really, I don’t doubt his love in general.

I did have fun with valentines for the kids.  I took a cue from all the cute photo strips we have as favors from recent weddings and decided to DIY one.  The internet is full of other people who thought of this first but this is how I did it;

  1. Took a ton of pictures of each girl holding a dry erase board where they wrote each part of the message.  Take A LOT because half of them will be too silly or full of frownsimg_6013
  2. cropped them to be square in my computer
  3. used the collage option to line up the 4 pictures in a strip.  I choose to have white borders on a pink background.  You can also do this in excel, sometimes it is easier in excel!
  4. Sent the image to our local UPS store and then talked to them so they knew what I wanted, and, printing is one of those things personal attention is worth doing.
    1. Paid a whole $10 for 35 strips (2×8 if you are looking for dimensions) for each of the kids.  That is $10 for 105 strips total.
  5. Cut up some pretty washi tape so the kids could tape on pencils (totally optional)
  6. They wrote names and taped pencils no problem and it only took about 20min


I love that getting them printed is so economical because I figure I would have spent $3 per ‘kit’ at walmart and I would have needed 4 at least since they are usually only 24 so I’m saving money, and, it is something I get to keep and love.  I know, there is a ton of time involved between taking pictures and edits but for me, that is the fun part.  This didn’t even need hot glue so I consider it an easy one.


Finally, I must add a new addition to the valentines traditions.  Apparently, as they get older, the valentines box becomes homework, and Niamh had her heart set on a Giraffe valentines mailbox.  It is a STEM school and I like that they described this as a building project and include the design-refine-spend time method. I talked her out of having the mouth be the mail slot because… engineering… but I do like the final result.  It could be better but she procrastinated until yesterday afternoon to even start and I refused to do it without her (because I wanted her to do it over the weekend when we had time).


So I hope you all have nice days and nights and a pleasant February 14th in general.


giraffe mail box – excuse the mess below, that is how creative tables look.


Nope, I won’t marry you…

This weekend I had the most random of lists of things to bring to the SCA event;

  1. 200 boxes of girl scout cookies, and, 2 girls to sell them, and all the ‘stuff’ that goes with selling cookies
  2. A tunic I made for a friend
  3. A set of flower girl dresses, and, 2 girls to wear them
  4. A form someone needed

I also brought all the normal stuff like lunch and outfits etc but it was a very multifunctional day.


The most odd item is the flower girl dresses, because, SCA events tend to focus on an era where brides didn’t even wear white and there were no such notions as flower girls HOWEVER a photographer friend is launching his site and does NOT want to do wedding photography.  He did want a cute way to say that though, cute and also very clear, because brides to get rather persistent…  Anyway, his vision was cute flower girls being a little sassy and holding signs that said ‘nope’ and ‘sorry’.  We did this mini photoshoot in the end of a hallway by the bathroom with his studio lights and a backdrop all set up in less time than it took for me to put the girls into their dresses.  He also provided props and I just love the results!


The funny side of this, beyond the pictures, is that they were posted on facebook, so I could see them, but, that meant that all my other friends could see them and the ‘why’ of the situation is not very clear.  I started thinking from an outside point of view and my brain started churning out ideas for these images beyond their real purpose.

  1. They could be a very simple meme – like when I just don’t wanna anymore I will just post the ‘nope’ picture16730530_833461313469921_7959922486969901883_n
  2. We can also launch a line of demented cards for when you can’t figure out how to decline a proposal – send a nice ‘nope’ card.


3. Finally, if you miss declining early and need to leave someone at the alter – just post this ‘Nope’ plus ‘sorry’ picture and all thats left is the crying.  Adding the sorry is just polite at that point.


how is working out working out?

Since last June when the Y was opened locally, I had to re-do my fitness routine.  There were plenty of other wrenches in that machine too: summer is always crazy, kids needing different things, new school schedules, clients that I need to take care of etc.  I think I have found a decent balance and, at least right now, I’ve got a pretty good handle on things.

For my record to look back on, and, if you would like to know what a stay at home mom/freelancer does to not devolve into a pile of fat here are some notes/thoughts

  • FitBit.  I have worn it for a year (and gone through 3, but, they replaced under warranty so I’m not too mad).  I like the tracker, it tells me many cool stats even if it won’t acknowledge some workout classes as ‘workouts’ but the added interaction with a few friends in groups, and, challenges to myself to meet the goals has helped.  I average over 50k steps a week these days
  • Kids.  So kids at home definitely HELP my step count because I’m going going going. With 3 in school 3 days a week I notice the days I need to motivate myself to not just sit at the computer.  Warning to office workers!  you probably don’t move around enough.  I know if I do a sit and work day I hardly get 2k steps and that is mostly before and after work time doing stuff with the kids.
  • Classes.  In Shoreview I didn’t do classes because I didn’t want to rush to get there on time, they were an extra fee, and, they didn’t assure child care so I just contented myself with ‘doing my own thing’ and that was a good start.  I got confidence on heavy squats and on the machines etc. BUT classes are way better.  They push me to work longer, harder and different.  When the Y opened and included classes (although the price of the Y reflects that!) I wanted to make sure I got my money worth and actually went to a class a week.  I’m up to 2 regular classes and I try to get in a 3rd.
  • ‘Date’ night.  At Shoreview, Lars seldom went with me and usually only went with the kids swimming.  He could also use more exercise in his life so we started picking a class *together* one night a week.  Finding something we both like and can do/is challenged by is not easy but right now we are doing an ab class on Thursday nights.  It is something we do together and working out with another person always makes it better (and you are less likely to blow it off).  Lars also found another evening class he likes and I plan on joining it too once swim lessons are over because the timing just won’t work right now.
  • Swim lessons. Speaking of those lessons, I still say that Lars teaching the girls was way better but Fiona needed a jump start and Niamh and Zoe needed some refining so we sprung for lessons this season.  The hidden benefit is that 2x a week I am at the Y for an extra time and I can use that time well by working out.  I do want to watch them learn so my options are more limited, but, I’ve found that there is a spin bike right at the window so I get a great view of classes and earn a few thousand steps.
  • Older kids.  I’ve had an elliptical for at least 10 years now and some years it is more like a towel rack but in the past 2, I’ve gotten good at setting them up for dinner, or, after dinner with a show and getting a solid 45min on days I don’t get to the gym.  I like that I can leave them for a bit and I don’t (usually) have constant interruptions.

I think the key for me is accountability.  Between the Fitbit and the company in classes, I do better.  Classes push me to go longer too.  The only real negatives right now are things I’m not sure how to solve;  I have sold many hours a week to work, I also feel I need to clean since I’m home and between the two sometimes the workout gets skipped.  I know that I’m the only one that cares if the house is clean but that is just something I can’t ever win on because I feel guilty for not doing the thing I’m not doing…

After all this I don’t think I’ve lost a pound, but, I do feel fitter and I am certainly stronger.  No troubles carrying even my biggest girl.  I think I’m also setting a decent example because I’ve heard all three parrot that we need to work out to be healthy and live a long time.