Archive | April 2017

Box 1 of many

You would think after a massive announcement like “we are moving” it would be all about the lists and the action but in reality, making that choice has slowed me down!

The thing is we don’t know where we are moving so that puts when totally into ‘I don’t know” territory.  We met with an agent we like who has a stager so until we meet with the stager I don’t really want to do major changes without her general guidance.  So yes, I know the basics but again, if we are not selling our house until mid summer (so we don’t end up homeless) then I’m not going to take down all the family pictures and make our closets so minimalist that they show well but I have 2 changes of clothes.  Before this decision I was on a path to really decluttering anyway, getting the stuff organized and either keeping, selling or donating and you may say “just do that, can’t hurt” and I agree, but, what about timing?  If I don’t have time to actually list and sell stuff should I keep it to do post move or donate it?

Before this decision I was on a path to really decluttering anyway, getting the stuff organized and either keeping, selling or donating and you may say “just do that, can’t hurt” and I agree, but, what about timing?  If I don’t have time to actually list and sell stuff should I keep it to do post move or donate it?  Then all the things get a cost benefit analysis step that my brain starts to go crazy over because of the current value of money v storage v time etc.  Sometimes an MBA finance can be used for evil not good… 2 weeks ago I had a plan and now I have NOT a plan yet.


I’m trying to just focus on the things that need to be done and a side of decluttering.  The pantry is now Pinterest perfect again and I did a good number on my hall closet that was calling out for attention anyway.   This is where box 1 came from – I have packed all our winter gear into box 1….  Closet looks empty with out! If we do need to show our house I need to start trucking stuff off to storage BUT we got a possible private party offer that is interesting so until Tuesday again, holding pattern.  Before Tuesday I just need to clean like I mean it so even though the house isn’t being ‘shown’ it is still not a distraction.

The thing we are doing today is to bring the kids to a model home.  They need to see what we are talking about so went we take their toys and clothing to storage and rearrange their rooms to suit someone else they have an end goal in mind.  After that Lars is going daddy daughter girl scout bowling so Fiona and I are on our own for an exciting Friday night.

Lars is all sorts of optimistic, excited, ready to rock – I’m cycling through the anxiety and indecision because really we have done nothing.  The potential is exciting, the options are too.  I’m really happy that we should be able to sell our house for a price that will make the next step possible.  I’m excited that there seems to be a development and a builder that both get high marks but there is always that doubt about not looking at everything to be sure this is the right decision.  And around and around we go – and that isn’t even touching the packing part of the equation because that can’t really be on my list until I get something like a date!

And thus begins the saga of sell.bulid.move2017 – a process I hope will be contained in 2017 at least!

Blog official…

2 major things I never thought I would be talking about;

#1 – much to Zoe’s glee, we are welcoming a new family member.  Personally, I’ve been fairly against a dog because of the work/poop/hair/travel issues but there was a perfect storm of a few friends being cool with pet sitting and the arrival of a hypoallergenic, low shed puppy from a friends dog and a moment of weakness….  So dog arriving early May.

 

#2 – In a random turn of events we have gone from talking about doing an extension on our house to selling our house.  Seriously, this is a very big surprise to me, I literally just recycled a ton of boxes because I was cleaning the garage and now I’m asking friends to save boxes for me.  This is no small undertaking because we would not just be buying a house, we are also selling a house and to sell the house we need to half move out before we list.  We would only move in the same school district so yes, I might be moving under a mile, but that still means I need to pack all the things.

So in those two paragraphs, my life has turned sideways and upside down in the matter of a week.  We do need the space but we need to find a place that also has all the things we love about this house.

We have talked to a real estate person, we have gotten a storage unit – that is as far as we have gotten but for a decision made under 5 days ago it still feels fast.

Teacher appreciation week; May 1-5

In my family and friends group, there are quite a few teachers.  Miss Math and I talk regularly and I get the teacher POV on things and I routinely go to the school board and PTO meeting.  My grandfather was a teacher for 30 years in some of the rough inner city areas (by choice) and my aunt is a teacher for the deaf.  The college I attended had a teaching specialty so countless friends were studying education all around me constantly.  Can’t help but pick up a little second-hand teacher from all that exposure..

Before I had kids I basically had teacher side knowledge of the ‘job’ of teaching.  However, I did not know just how much each teacher really does for each child until I was on the parent side of things.  I know how my 3 can be learning a new things or just managing them all day from activity to activity.  The fact that teachers do that x20 or more is amazing, fantastic, unimaginable!

I mentioned that I go to our local school board meetings, I have gone to nearly everyone for a year, and I see that we have a real situation in our town with money.  One may think that there is fluff in the budget, that there are fat administration salaries or waste somewhere…  From what I have observed in ours there really really isn’t but every year there are cuts that have to be made.  This year 10 teachers lost their job as well as quite a few support jobs because the budget just didn’t stretch.  This is why I personally went to the legislature to talk about why we need more funding.  Despite all that, it is a high achieving, high test score area and that is mostly because the teachers are really dedicated.

This is a long way to go to say that when Oriental Trading Company offered me product credit in return for a post about Teacher Appreciation Week I could not say yes fast enough.  I asked at our last PTO what teachers would want and the #1 thing I heard was “fidgets”.

What is a fidget?  Well, according to my kids, they are a small thing you can hold and move around in your hands (not play with) so you are not tempted to touch other people and are able to focus on the teacher.  According to the teacher, it is a tool that some kids need all the time but most kids need some of the time and having a supply of little things would make their life easier.

Say no more, to Oriental Trading Company I go!  I was quite surprised when they actually had a section dedicated to fidgets already.  The other thing the teacher asked was that it not be ‘annoying’ so I reviewed the list with a critical eye and took some of their suggestions but also went out on my own a bit.  I got stress balls, large braided beads (very tactile and not bouncy), erasers shaped like brains, bean bags… I used every cent to the best of my ability.  I must have done it right because when I got the box and asked my kids what they thought I got for the teachers they yelled “Fidgets!!!” (and then all picked one to keep and they really do love them)img_2628

These are things that are useful but not in any budget at all.  They come out of teachers pockets most of the time and I am very glad that I could facilitate this gift to my teachers and hopefully inspire you to do something similar for yours.  We have all read the ‘please don’t give us mugs’ lists by teachers around the holiday/end of year gift giving season so if you ARE looking for something to give your elementary school teacher, I have it on good authority that fidgets are a good option.  When I brought them into school it was a happy day and I’m glad to be a part of it.

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Thank you, Oriental Trading Company for helping me show our teachers that they are appreciated!

And… because that box was free in return for this post (that I’m sure you can tell is full of only my own opinions) I will also be participating in the teacher breakfast next week too!

Easter and Birthday

I should actually put that the other way around since the Birthday party was 3 days before Easter but either way I’m about a week past due to post about either so I’m not sweating the details.  (This is a long post so settle down or hide in the bathroom)

Today I finished the thankyou cards, usually, I do them faster but I have been in a fight with my computer and phone and pictures talking nicely to each other but I finally got it done.  I know I like my thank you collages, but, I now have proof that the kids (at least one) likes it too since when I was snapping pictures and asking each kid to pose with their birdhouse the two that have been guests before actually mentioned ‘knowing why I take so many pictures’.  Anyway, this 9th birthday was a bit of a turn in the road for us in birthday planning because instead of a BIG party with MANY people invited this was a tiny party with very few invited because it was a sleepover.  I like both styles, but, I’m glad we went small this time because I was able to do some cool things with them.

  1. IMG_6114First is something I think is pretty clever and not an absolute Pinterest thing (but inspired by) – I made envelopes that had each activity on a paper inside.  I had the stack displayed on the table and it instantly drew in the kids.  The first one was opened when everyone had arrived – it made a bunch of activities really feel like they had a ‘theme’ and it was so easy, I just wrote on plain printer paper and folded it into an envelope and numbered the envelopes.  Took me about 5 minutes and very worth it
  2. Activity #1; We made our own pizza!  This is the easiest thing ever if you even have the most basic knowledge of dough.  I made enough dough for 2 full pizza’s and that was plenty for 6 personal pizza’s and 1 pretty big one (mine!).  I suggest just buying a jar of pasta sauce pre-seasoned with basil and/or garlic, it is WAY better than the ‘pizza’ sauce they sell in the store.  I made the dough in advance and they had the fun of shaping and adding sauce, cheese, and toppings.  There were some very creative designs in the end.IMG_6077
  3. While the Pizza cooked the next envelope  pointed them downstairs to decorate some bird houses.  Paint and glitter stickers are a universal love of all and they happily created while I got the next batch of things ready. IMG_6088
  4. Everyone totally enjoyed their pizza, something about making it custom makes it taste better.  Once the pizza was done we moved on to the very important cake portion of the event and as the sun was going down they devoured the rainbow cake.IMG_6081
  5. The setting sun was actually a closely noted thing for me because it was key for my next activity – we took a little drive to a local park and I broke out 100 glow sticks for their entertainment.  You would think that 100 might be excessive but it was about perfect and it indulged all their creative building of things that glowed.
  6. Then a small road trip to bring one of our guests home, this was actually her first party altogether and a sleepover was totally pushing it with her parents.  I hope they let her come to future parties because she had so much fun!IMG_2562
  7. Home again and another envelope.  While they were reading it I actually pulled out a premade basket that was full of face masks, soda, snacks, and a movie.  The note had a minor treasure hunt to find the basket and that was icing on the cake.  They gladly tucked in to snacks and floats and I painted their faces with gack that they could peel off (peel off is more fun than wash off) while they watched Moana.  It was a bit late but they were all good and ready for bed at 10:30 when they all brushed and crashed.

With just 2 extra kids I was able to have cozy mattresses for them made of our big pillows and our tot bed mattresses (those things come in handy so often).  I also went to bed because I was beat too and as I read for a half hour I could hear some giggles but they all drifted off.

The next morning we had pancakes and hanging out until parents came and all declared it a total success.

The next two days were rather a low after the party high.  Lars had a trip so he was gone, the overtired kids got in a cycle of arguments and not listening, and at a particularly low point, I listesd them for sale on Facebook.  We managed to do the two things that were necessary for holiday prep; easter egg dyeing and Figoli decorating.  They were bright points actually, surrounded by lots of breaks and deep breathing and attempting to keep it all together.   My mom called me when I listed them for sale, knowing that I was probably at the end of the road, and I’m glad that I have a good mom.  She isn’t close enough to come over and help but she is intouch enough to know when to call and what to say.

I created easter baskets in relative peace as the kids were put to bed, exhausted, and fell asleep well.

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Our easter bunny tradition is to put puzzle pieces in each plastic egg that the easter bunny leaves with us.  It is a fun way to fill the eggs that is not full of candy or some other thing that would be unequal unless egg finding is too closely supervised.  I have well over 100 eggs so they get to find tons and then they are all combined to make the puzzle.  This year I also added a few geode eggs, both in their baskets so they would figure out what they were before they found rocks in their hunt and dump them in the yard.  I got the geodes from Oriental Trading ages ago and it was worth the wait to hear “I got a rock?!?” from Zoe as she opened eggs of candy and toys in her basket.

The day was bright and pretty and it was a very Easter rebirth type of day.  They enjoyed the hunt and smashing geodes and doing the puzzle and friends came over and it was a very nice day.  I suppose without the low the high does not feel as good…  I just closed my eyes to the mess and decided to deal with it all on Monday and enjoyed the evening with everyone.

That is our birthday easter adventure weekend.  It feels like a month ago given all that we have done since.  I have posts coming out my ears so much is going on so get ready for some long reading over the next few weeks!

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Adulting all month

Spring is just the season to get things done.

I have been ruthlessly pulling apart nests of things in the rooms and putting them back together.  I already posted about finally getting a working stove and vent AND an emergency washing machine purchase.  Today I got a contractor out to look at our roof soffit issue and since he charged by the hour and figured he could fix the (very poor) roof patch job I did last year if I had shingles I ran out to Home Depot and got just what I needed in under 20min.  That is probably a Home Depot record!  I also scored a deal because they happened to have an open bundle of the type I needed and sold it for a nice discount.  They do go the extra mile and it pays to ask the silly question like “I really only need about 9 shingles”.  The entire experience cost under $200!

 

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see that shiny thing under the eve, that was my ‘fix’ to keep the birds out.  now it is fixed for real

 

Another disgustingly easy thing that I have been putting off; metal scrap recycling.  We had 2 dead grills and a large piece of bent patio furniture and misc other metal bits just hanging out in our yard and garage.  I saw a post on Facebook about a guy looking for metal and sent him a message and within 5 hours his trailer was full and my yard was empty.  So Easy!  Technically I’m giving away money with the transaction but I didn’t have to pay and given it has been years and I have not disassembled and sorted by material and brought them to the scrap yard yet, I don’t feel like I am going to any time soon.  This guy is welcome to it.

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Finally, I solved a vexing problem – what to do with dead clothing.  I can upcycle with the best of them but I’m also limited on time and space and there are only so many projects I can absorb into our house.  I DO NOT want to just throw them away to be in a land fill, so, after much internet research and personal calls I have found that you CAN bring fabric item like ripped t-shirts, things stained beyond repair, single socks, etc to Goodwill in a bag marked “recycle fabric” and they will take it to be recycled.  I’m pretty sure it gets shredded into insulation or ripped into rags for various uses but again – if they get some money for it; they are welcome to it.  I am glad to not be filling the landfill with leggings with holes.

All week I’ve been repairing the damage to the party clean house that a long weekend at home creates.  Last night I did what amounts to an abb workout by scrubbing my entire kitchen, fitbit even gave me credit.   I’ve been letting the little girls room go focusing on other places and it has been really really bad.  Yesterday I took all the toys off the floor (after many many warnings) and now they are in a big box and bag in my room and when they sort them out, they can have them back.  No complicated earning them or anything, just put them away.  Anything left by yardsale time is gone (June).  I think they have plans on woking on some today after school, I like that THEY are planning it no me nagging them.  Slow progress but progress.

 

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toys! toys for sale!

 

This weekend the plan is to get gardening and the weather is looking good for that.  Tomorrow I have a work thing and my endless to-do list that seriously just spawns new items.  Friday I’m thinking about stealing Niamh out of school for our special mommy day, we both need the break from the routine I think, I have sure earned it.

 

very short multi religion scene

The weekend was full of ups and downs but just in case I don’t get to all of it I wanted to share one tiny bit;

At Niamh’s birthday, we had 3 guests.  We did ‘make your own pizza’ and when I had everyone seated and served with drinks etc there seemed to be an odd pause when nobody knew when to eat.

I gave a blanket “say whatever you need to before you eat girls” and immediately my girls did our thing, our Muslum friend had a short song/prayer in a language I don’t know, our friend with Japanese roots (but not looks) says her Japanese phrase in about 3 seconds, and finally our last guest muttered something fast and sounding like the traditional grace but for about 20 seconds we were quite multi-religious.

Then they all devoured pizza and cake – two universal foods.