Archive | February 2017

Cookie cookie cookies

You know when you look at empty weekends months in advance and decide to sign up for a few things only to find out later you signed up for way too much?

Yup, that was me!  Cookie booths – selling girl scout cookies at a business location – was not a thing when I was little and when I heard how many cookies got sold I mentally noted that it was the place to sell if I ever had girls that were in girl scouts.  And now that I do, and they do, we are in our second year of booths and might have done too many this year.

The mistake was doing 2 in a row.  I think we could do 1 with no problem, but, I somehow did Saturday and sunday.  Zoe was wilting by the end.

The positive was that since the troop has so many booths, the kids are more spread out so the cookie per kid ratio is much better.  An average booth seems to be 80 boxes in 2 hours, a good one around 100.  The key is having the kids ask every person, not just sit at the table.  When they stop asking, people stop buying.  Both booths this weekend were around 100 and with only 4 girls at each that put my girls over their first goal mark.  They still have inventory and are happy to sell but the pressure is off because they both ‘made it’.

The unintended consequence of this exercise is a very real lesson in not judging people by age, race, gender, fashion sense or level of cleanliness.  Zoe isn’t shy but Niamh kinda is but with cookies on the line they talked to everyone.  The guy who could be cast as  “in a gang” right down to tattoos and cut?  No worries, he wants 5 boxes.  People 10x their size?  Not a hesitation to talk to them.  7 Asian businessmen not speaking English?  They listened to the tiny girl and not only got a box on the way in, they got 5 on the way out.  We are in a quite safe place, in the daytime, with adults so I don’t fear anyone either but I’m happy to see zero hesitation from the girls.  We even had at least 5 different people try cookies for the first time ever because they were invited to so nicely.

Personally, I don’t love selling things but these semi sell themselves.  The kids are working hard and so am I and so are the leaders and moms.  We should have a party when it is over, we earned it.


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.