Archive | April 2015

Z – is for Zoe!

Most letters mean so many things to me but Z is more or less entirely reserved for Zoe.  The year she was born was a pretty popular Z year since I know more than one Zepher and Zane her age and I always wonder if I had actually named her Nola would she be as outgoing and loud as she is?  Zoe is just a loud name 🙂  In a good way, excited and over the top – but – also sometimes  mad and, well, over the top.  You can hear her voice clear as a bell for miles around, maybe she has a future as public speaker?


Zoe turns 5 in 15 days and she can’t wait.  4 has been a good year for her, she has grown and matured and learned tons.  Her logic is on target and she is absolutely fantastic about remember things you like or don’t like.  Her ability to control the crazy comes and goes but deep inside I know she will be just fine.  I pity every teacher to come for this group because it is an entire class of middle or youngest children.  In 2010 nobody was choosing to start a family since nobody knew what was going on with the economy.  We were doing fine so we went on with our plan to grow our family and anyone else born in her year was probably has parents in a very similar situation – knowing 1 more won’t hurt.  However… Imagine an entire class of middle/youngest children.  The “look at me!” is insane!  I know because I go visit her class monthly.


I will do a more detailed Zoe post for her birthday (in 15 days.  Did you know 15 days? Do you think I answer that question 65x a day?) but to hold you over here is a picture of Zoe with Zebra and her favorite letter; ZIMG_5221

And with this Z post, I have COMPLETED the alphabet challenge.  Not one day missed and very few days done cheezie.  I’m ready to go back to my normal challenges and posting stuff, I miss that too, but, I have enjoyed this exercise and all the people I met also doing the alphabet.

Y – is for Yes

In my world I have to say NO a lot (a lot a lot a lot a lot) of times.  If I feel like I’m saying it so often it means the girls are living in it…  I have been trying to say Yes to as many things as I can over the past two years.  This is something I read about multiple places – along the same lines of giving kids a choice between two equal things – so they feel like they have some influence in their world.  Is it working?  I don’t know, don’t exactly have a control group going on here but I do notice days I say Yes more, I feel are more fun and interesting.

Today I said “yes” to myself and instead of my normal do-all-the-things day I volunteered at Niamh’s class, dropped in on Zoe’s class and then ate lunch with them both and then took Niamh out for a surprise afternoon.  Just a Mom and Niamh day.  She got to spend her birthday gift cards, we got pedicures together, and then we played a new game she got for her birthday.  She brought up the game, I said ‘yes’, and I’m glad because it is a fun little game.  I did have some must-do chores so I did dishes and she baked breakfast muffins ‘alone’.  I let her double the recipe because she asked me, and, she even used logic because the recipe uses 2 eggs and 2 bananas and we did have 4 eggs and 5 bananas so she pointed out we had enough for double.  Why not!  I’m sure next week when I’m not baking muffins I’ll be glad about that yes 🙂


I wish I could always say yes, technically, I wish they always asked for reasonable things.  In some of the same studies/articles they said you should never say ‘no’.  They don’t actually mean to give your child everything, they mean just find another way to say ‘No’ like “You can have the cookie after dinner” or “The cat feels sad when you try to ride him”.  I try to do that but all three of my kids at one point thought their name was Zoe-no-no (fillin the right name).  It is better to redirect, to tell them when something will happen etc.  All the things to keep track of, and, on top of it all, I also have to balance the scales so thing are fair (enough) between them all.  Try explaining why one child gets candy for pooping in the potty and nobody else does.  Luckily they all believe me that they got their fair share when they were learning, and, when we are totally done with diapers we are going to have a party and they are invited.

I think that if everyone said Yes more, things would be better.  Need to keep the greedy/lazy/opportunistic people at bay though so I doubt it can be a world wide thing.  In my house I do occasionally feel like the doormat and maid but I think that is a pretty common thing.  I mostly feel lucky when I see them do to others as I have done for them.

X – well…. X is for?

Yeah, X, not the normal starting letter of many American words.  I’m spending a ton of time teaching my preschooler to start reading (she is interested, I’m not pushing) and helping my 1st grader get better at reading (I am pushing, she is less interested) and you run into all the silly things about English that are just a bother.  Too many things are just not sound-out-able.  I know because we are a mish mash of latin, french, german and a ton of other languages/dialects/creole/slang that all come together to make American English and with that bag of nuts it is no wonder learning to read is not an easy thing.  I don’t even want to talk about learning to spell….  I’m getting better but I’m over 30 but I vividly remember asking my Mom who invented spelling and she assured me they were long dead and that made me feel slightly better.

Back to X.  There are plenty of words that sound like they start with X but they don’t.  Then there are words that do like xylophone that sound like a Z.  There is XL as an abbreviation for eXtra Lage but I’m working on becoming a small…  People talk about X boyfriends and I really don’t have many of those and I’m on good terms with the majority so I usually call them former boyfriends because I don’t want to put a big X on their faces and X them out of my life – they were just part of a different phase and we all grew and moved on with little or no drama.  Same with workplaces, I might have more issues with former jobs then I do with former boyfriends but I gained so much from those professional associations and situations that I would never X that out either.

I’m going to have to resort to chinese – Xi’an – a massive huge city in central China that I had a wonderful time visiting. Auditing Die Casting and Machining facilities in China has its ups and downs but it is NOT the slum or slave child labor that you see on the news for clothing manufacturing (this is on my mind because of Monday night with John Oliver from this week).  The facilities I visited were large and well maintained and basically staffed by adult men.  I think the reason they have to keep them up is because the machines to do the work are so expensive that you don’t neglect that type of investment.  There are no children there half because (hopefully) better companies realize that child labor is wrong, and half because kids probably can’t lift or reach the big machines.  Some places were equal to what I’ve seen in the US and others were about as good but with fewer safety measures.  The most striking example was when I was watching a machine cycle where a part went in and the multi axis machine made all the fine cuts – I remember being able to see so clearly what the machine was doing and it was very cool.  Then the engineer I was traveling with noted that usually you can’t see that because there is a safety door closed between the operator (and public) and the part.  Oops… well…

In Xi’an apparently my glowing white skin and very femaleness in a mans world was cause for open mouthed stares and work stoppage.  I was always treated nicely and while I know the term ’round eye’ (Gweilo) is not the nicest term, I accept it because yes, I have very very round eyes.  Much like I don’t mind being called a Yankee – fine with me, yup, northern all over.  So other then that, my only other issue with Xi’an china was that the food was very very spicy, their speciality is even called a ‘hot pot’.  Thank goodness I could duck the majority because they mostly ignored me in favor of my male boss who had to take one for the team.  Engineer and I just lived on granola bars…

China 075

Machine center and adult male working it~

I was there for business so I did not get too many pictures but Xi’an is massive so no one picture could describe it anyway.  It is like the state of MN with a city and a country and a waaaaay out there back country but it is all the same ‘city’.  Here are a few Chongqing

W – Weekend review

I love when the alphabet lines up exactly with what I would like to write 🙂

What a weekend it was!  Double birthday parties; tons of positives but a few negatives too.


– 2 kids are happy and the center of the world in rapid succession.  You know how all the siblings feel on their sister birthday… hard to tell a kids “just wait a month!” but not too hard to say “tomorrow!  just 12 hours until your turn!”

– All the cleaning and setup goes further.  I didn’t feel like I was burning energy by putting up a tent and cleaning for a week because I got the benefit for 2 days rather than 2 hours.

– Renting something big like a bouncer feels more economic when you get two full parties from it, and, having it for 2 full days gives tons of other times that we could enjoy.  Our company also gave us a pretty decent discount for the second day and I must say, they were a very easy to work with company and it was absolutely effortless on our part.

– Better with practice – the second party was so much easier because we worked the bugs out on the first round.  We did shoot ourselves a bit on that though because I didn’t want Zoe to feel like she had ‘the same’ party so I kept trying to make key things different so not everything had economy of scale.


– crossing your fingers for 2 good weather days in a row.  We were the luckiest we could ever hope for, both days were perfect but there was plenty of backup plans just in case.

– Nonstop party – maybe this should also go in the positive but we didn’t have any recovery time.  We did have a nice gap since the second party was an early evening party, but, it was still like being chained to a treadmill because things had to get done done done.

– a mutually acceptable date is not a perfect fit for either – This party was 2 weeks after Niamh’s real birthday and 3 weeks before Zoe’s…  I think it is easier because we clearly labeled them “Friend Party” but still, Zoe isn’t 5 yet!  Give me my last 3 weeks of sweed four year old Zoe!

Overall I think the positives win.  My sister does a double party for her sons often because they have mostly the same friends but that won’t really work for us.  Some friends overlap but I like the two days.  I think half the new school friends mom’s who heard we had another party the day before/after assume I have twins and I’m crazy about letting them have their own party…

Coming up next is a bunch of pictures of Zoe’s party.  Yes, it looks a lot like Niamh’s but the 5 year old bunch had some real differences.  5 year olds eat less, are less interested in doing puzzles, are more interested in playing with their dolls and on swings, take a longer time to eat and require real cleaning since they are all messy eaters.  You also have to remind them to go to the bathroom.  They also are 100% more calm with gift opening, Niamh’s friends were like a mosh pit, Zoe’s all sat quietly – I did try to encourage this by giving them all a blanket spot to sit, and, a box of popcorn to eat while watching.  Zoe’s friends all have siblings that came and bounced post party and Niamh’s friends were all gone within 5 minutes of the stated finish time.   Niamh’s theme was golden birthday, Zoe’s theme was PJ party.  Without further comment, Zoe:

different table cloth

Eggs hunted, love getting out the puzzle pieces!

workin it..

Pizza’s for all

cake (yes, I wore PJ’s too)

the moment

sniff… she isn’t 5 yet! Shut up cake!

Animals giving the puzzle a try

blanket ‘goodie bag’ was a hit

It was a wonderful, full, happy weekend.

V – Very perfect birthday

I have spent the last 2 weeks decluttering, spring cleaning and in general getting the house ready ‘just in case’ the weather was bad.

Not one kid set foot in the house

The weather was perfect; sunny, warm, slight breeze.

They loved everything from the fruit to the cake and nobody wanted to leave.  I call this a complete win.  Lets do it again tomorrow!

And here are so many pictures you will feel like you were there~


table, tent




Gold enough for you?

Lars is on the bottom of that pile of girls Golden princess yippie! my decorating ready for cake puzzle teamwork time puzzle hunt – every egg had a puzzle piece in it. my zoo table ready too cute tent side

U – Up side to Under Pressure

2 parties in 2 days!

Things are coming along but now is about when I start to feel the pressure….  There were things I should have done already that I let slide figuring things would go ‘to plan’ and I would have time later.

The Upside is I did do tons already – 90% of the house is very clean and party ready.  I already made the blankets that are the party favor for Zoe’s birthday and they just need bows tied.  I actually made 2 per kid; one child sized and a matching one in doll size.  I can’t resist at least one project!


The shopping is done for all but day of things.

I still need to put together the party favors for Niamh’s party but all the parts are in one place and ready.

The tent is up, got up before dark even but I just didn’t get a picture before dark….

The upside to under pressure is that frantic burst of energy I expect to roll in any time now.  Energy to do all the things!  I skipped the gym today because I ‘lost’ a day earlier in the week I was counting on but thats life.

The ‘icing on the cake’ is that we found out today that Zoe’s bff from school is allergic (like epipen) to dairy.  I have a plan and she is bringing her own dairy free cheese* for pizza and I need to make another set of cupcakes since she can’t have the cake but I do have a dairy free frosting in my arsenal and Zoe said the sweetest thing when I told her that her friend can’t have regular pizza, she said “well, I’m up for trying soy pizza!”  If she is game so am I and we are going to have two awesome parties.

Ps * I’m not asking what is in dairy free cheese

pps. Tomorrow’s post is probably going to be something like “v – very busy” so manage expectations 🙂