Archive | October 2013

Vacation week

This week was our first taste of school break, all the kids had Wednesday, Thursday and Friday off.  I joke with my NY friends that this is the MN version of Jewish holidays that so nicely break up the early school year for Long Island kids.  I think it is sorta for Columbus day but they also put 3 teacher in-service days so it isn’t fun for the teachers exactly but still a break from ‘school’.


Kindergarten does have homework.  Niamh has one paper, front and back, and it is pretty achievable work for her even with distractions.  I feel that it is just enough homework to make us feel lucky when she does not have any!  ASIDE:: I set up a homework spot just for her in the kitchen because it helped her focus.  The last thing I wanted was another thing in the kitchen but that is where we are and I didn’t want to isolate her.  Using the table was a disaster, sisters all over the place and distractions galore.  With her little tv tray she focuses and gets it done in no time::  The MIA teacher thing is still a thing.  The sub is actually really good but she had vacation plans for this break so we had a sub for the sub and I wonder, ever wonder, if this was the right school…


Anyway, Niamh is home with us and it feels like old times but a bit better and worse all rolled into one.  Niamh has gotten MORE capable and today she took Fiona way up to the top of the climbing gym, I could have sat and read a book things were so  under control (but I didn’t, I followed them around from the outside).  She is also way more intelligent about what needs to be done – she actually packed all the lunch today and I only asked once.  On the other hand, Fiona and Zoe don’t fight.  The days with them may have their sticky points but I don’t know if it is their personalities, ages, language capability or what but it is incredibly rare for #2 and #3 to fight.  Niamh and Zoe on the other hand must think that fighting is fun given the amount of umbrage they take over the slightest of infraction.  Niamh is also more willful about what she would like to do and gets in a tizzy about things that I have to talk her out of.  On the other other hand, Niamh and Zoe play together and are playing a long long game right now while Fiona is asleep.

The absolute best thing about no school is no set in stone schedule.  Niamh remarked the first morning off that she could eat as slow as she wants – no rush for the bus.  We didn’t have to worry about 4pm pickup and could go out or do anything we want after naps because we are not hemmed in by the pickup.  We have done a bunch of things but nothing that was super time sensitive.  We did a playdate with a preschool friend and they picked up where they left off like best friends.  We did the big marine park yesterday and even with the gray weather it was fun.  Today we did our normal Shoreview.  Over the past 2 days I’ve been pecking away at the pony costumes and I’m down to finishing touches and pulling it all together.  It is so handy to have the bodies you are fitting costumes to around.


It has been a busy and fun few days since we still had to fit in the post office, bank, grocery store, a craft store not to mention trying to clean the house … I think I’ll be looking forward to future vacations, the pro’s far outweigh the con’s.




we call this one an ‘oldest’ problem

You know how people say the youngest is spoiled and gets everything and the middle is always looking for attention and the oldest is always bossy?  Well yes, that is all true but there is more to the oldest story – sometimes you have to wait, and wait, and wait.


Poor Niamh is only 5 but we expect a lot of patience from her.  This weekend we were at an event (that was a great time all around) and her littlest sister hugged her and firmly stuck a lollipop into Niamh’s hair.  Niamh didn’t notice (how I do not know) but I saw it some time later and it was super stuck in there.  At the event there was basically nothing around to fix the situation so we had to say “just wait until later”.  See, the oldest does benefit from the salutatory neglect that comes more easily the more kids you have.  Really, freaking out would not have helped and she was not concerned either.

can’t really see it but that is a very stuck lolly pop

The next day dawns and thankfully all stay sleeping for just a bit longer.  The event went well meaning we stayed until late so there was no time for much when we got home.  Niamh calmly asks me about the sucker in her hair and we go about the 30 second fix that is super easy as long as you have access to very hot water


Step one – boil water and find a container the right size so the kid does not need to stand upside-down to get into it.  Lucky for us Niamh has long hair and it was in the bottom quarter

Step two fill container and then stick hair into it.  The unsticking magic starts fast

Here is a picture about 20 seconds after we started just so you all can see just how big and stuck it was

and that was that.  Two more seconds in the hot hot water and the sucker was dislodged and all was well with Niamh.  She ran off to continue bossing her sisters while Zoe did tricks for attention and Fiona was fawned over like the princess she is.


ps. Someone decided to pull the stick out at the event, I’m not sure who but thanks, I was not willing to even pull that hard for fear of yanking hair.


pps. Yes, Fiona did try and claim the candy from the water once she saw it.  She was denied that special treat.

At the gym

There is a woman.  She is in that general age of 30, maybe older, maybe younger but she has the tired edges that make all women look the same young yet old age.


She gets on the treadmill and adjusts the running shirt that is stretched just a bit tightly over her middle.  She is distracted and fumbles with the buttons but soon she is doing the run to nowhere just like everyone else.


Minutes pass and she glances obsessively at the clock on the wall.  One hour of kid care is so short.  Is she savoring every second alone even if she feels compelled to lope on an endless rubber highway?  Is she counting down every minute until she can stop because she needs to collect the children?  Is it both?


Aside from the clock watch there is an air of distraction from doing something, anything, for more then 10 minutes without interruption.   The itchy feeling that she should be doing something else or something more with this 60 minutes carved out of her day.  She watches the 6 tv’s on in front of her and listens to her personal soundtrack pumped directly into her ears and watches the clock, always the clock.


I leave the treadmill after 40min and go to my wonderful solo shower.   For someone I have never spoken to I feel like I know so much of her story.  She is a mom trying to fit exercise back into her world, trying to fit back in the wardrobe of a person she may or may not be ever again.  I could be wrong but I don’t think so, I’m pretty good at seeing the woman in the mirror.

Saving money (my way)

This topic brought to you by my brother in law who posted this David Ramsey article today as I was trying to decided what to write about today.  The article was 10 things that Americans waste money on and they are 10 good things.  Fortunately I’ve already taken care of all of them more or less.  In brief his article said this is what you waste on;

1. Credit card interest – got it, I’m fortunate enough to be able to pay off my credit card every month so I avoid all fees.

– I add to this that if you are able to exercise control over your spending and use your card like cash (ie don’t over spend) you can get good deals and cash back from using the card well.

2. Deal websites – they say you never use them therefore they are a waste.  I use them and love them and if I ever fail to use up one I call and ask if I still can and usually they still honor it.  If they won’t you still get the face value so it is never ‘lost’.  Make sure you buy carefully and things you need but I really like to use them more for experiences because it gets us out and about to something we might not use.

– I add to this that you should always look on the deal sites for something you were planning on doing anyway to see if there is a deal.

3. Appetizers – they say meals are big enough already – I agree, I seldom order one and if Lars does it is because he just loves that type of food.

– I add that going for appetizers and dessert to a fancy restaurant really cuts down on the price and you still get some of the best of what the place has to offer.

4. ATM fees – foreign machines charge!  Agree, I avoid the ATM in general and use my credit card like cash.  When I do go (or Lars does) we get out the max to avoid going again for a while.

5. Overdraft fees – be careful with money!  I know I’m lucky to be able to not watch every penny, but, yes – just tell yourself you have $X.XX less then you really do to avoid it.  I think I’ve avoided this all my life

6. Speedy shipping – yeah, the few times I’ve HAD to have something I regretted the shipping.  At a certain point if you need it same or next day look for a regular store near by and drive.  I don’t waste money on shipping often at all.

7. Designer baby clothes – I got most of my things hand me down and they were fine.  Other then that I try to not over spend on clothing for anyone – I don’t think anyone really notices what you are wearing.

8. Unused gym memberships – I use my membership to the best of my ability.  2x a week usually.  The reason I use it so much is because it also offers a great pool and playground for kids as well as kid care for me to work out.  You need to be realistic when you buy and look for the best value for the whole family and then you will use it.

9. Premium cable packages – we lived for years and years without and this year I called and got 2 premium channels for $14 a month.  For us who can’t leave the house without a sitter it is worth it and I think saves us money because we canceled 1/2 our netflix.

10. Daily coffee trips – yes, I view them as treats and frequent them as such.  Most of my coffee is from home.

Ok so here are a few of MY tips for not wasting money

1. Buy decent groceries –  Don’t try and skimp by buying sub par quality (store brand for equal product is fine)  Good bread  is usually healthier and bigger and one sandwich really fills you up, far better then the bread that is a dollar less.  (I like the double fiber or double protein bread).  I think people waste money on food that is not satisfying, just pay the extra dollar for the better bread or cold cuts AND you might be more energized to cook if you have good ingredients.

2. Cut back on expensive play date locations.  Find free things to do and bring a lunch.  There are tons of parks to explore that are all free, and, if you bring snacks less temptation to eat out.  If you make a mission of ‘how many parks’ etc it adds an element of fun

3. Ax souvenirs, take pictures.  After the investment of a camera or a camera phone pictures are basically free and you get more memories then a t-shirt or toy or plate or whatever.  If you watch the adds you can get very inexpensive prints or books you can make later for a physical reminder.  I like to pack so tight that there is no room for anything to come back with us.

4. Rethink clipping coupons.   I won’t say coupons are bad IF you are intending to buy that whatever anyway, but, they often get you to buy things you don’t need and then you have to find a place to store them and half the time you forget.  Try using your Amazon prime to its fullest and set up a subscription – if there is something you know you need all the time go for the subscription.  I find it cuts down on  grocery trips,  once we started a diaper subscription we didn’t have to go to costco as often AND often there is a discount on the subscription.  This is the same theory as Melaleuca because I buy all my house cleaning and a few other categories of things I don’t have to go to the aisle in the store and impulse purchase.

5. Don’t pay over $20 for a kids fancy dress.  Shop for dressy kids clothes in 2nd hand stores – you get more selection then the 5 things the store has and you know that the dress (or suit) was worn maybe twice.  I’ve gotten plenty of things with tags even.  The second best is to buy after a holiday season but don’t get sucked in by a sale if you don’t actually need it.

I think that being careful and thoughtful will usually save you money.  Buy the things you need, plan ahead…  I have participated in tons of discussions about the cycle of poverty and how much of a trap it really is so I am more aware of my situation and  how to keep ahead.  Hey, maybe these tips might help, Ramsey is doing well.