Archive | June 2017

What did we do in NY?

This is totally not a guide to what-to-do in NY, like I said yesterday visiting my parents is not your normal visit to a person or place.  For the sake of completeness I do want to write what we did so I don’t forget.

This is not in order… it is in the order they uploaded and I don’t have time to mess with them so without further Adu;

Muddy Puddle days at a local farm we go visit most visits.  This is a really cool event where for $4 kids get to dive, slide and generally romp in mud puddles.  We nearly didn’t go because the morning was rainy and cool but our friends really did and so we wanted to spend time with them more than avoid hypothermia and fortunately for all it turned around and it was gorgeous and sunny and perfect.  Miss Math has a much better picture when they were all head to toe mud, this is a post mud one after we hosed them down.

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Many trips to the beach and we learned that Prima loves to dig in the sand.  She loves to dig in anything but sand makes the most gratifying hole when you are a 2lb dog.

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We had a morning brunch in the park with my friend Pete and Will and Greta and their various spouses and children.  Again, awesome weather and the kids all click and play so well they were begging to see each other again.  (Good thing we visit for Christmas too).  Pete gets the boy scout award by being the most prepared friend I have.  He makes me feel disorganized by comparison because while I can fish out a band-aid from my mom-bag, he had a full on med kit with 19 sizes of band-aids and none of them were covered in cookie crumbs or sand (like what is at the bottom of my bag)

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Another yearly stop to the Holtsville Science Center where they have a rescue zoo.  All the animals are rescues one way or another.  This time the peacocks were in full bloom and chasing around the hens who were ignoring them.  We also saw some pretty active bears and the normal crew of other animals.

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An absolutely unique opportunity happened this year – we happened to be in town for the PROM!  so 20 years after my prom, I’m taking a picture of my 2nd youngest cousin get ready for hers.  Sayville does something pretty cool.  Part 1 – they do a mass picture event at the local pretty picture park (where I also did my wedding pictures).  This is so fun because parents are invited and you see all the kids and it saves figuring out where else to do pictures.  They did the same for my prom and I loved it then too.  Cool thing 2; now they REQUIRE you to go to the prom in a giant party bus.  The buses leave from the picture spot and I think this does three great things; takes out the cost of limo (and the pressure to have a limo), limits pre-prom drinking risks, and keeps the schedule rolling better because you don’t have various traffic jams coming and going to the prom.  This is a newish thing and I like it but, I still love my prom limo experience…  The kids were entranced with all the dresses and they were like cheerleaders LOUDLY commenting on how much they loved this dress or that one.  I think they brightened quite a few teens day but none more than their A#1 cousin who was most pretty overall.

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On our very last day we met up with Pete and his girls and my nephews and we ran all over a nature trail.  We scared away most of the nature but had a great time.  Pete brought the good camera so I may get better than my 2 random snapshots.

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One of the unplanned great coincidences was that my cousin Antonia and her 3 kids were visiting the same time we were!  We hung out a few times including the twins first active beach experience.  Twin 1-year-olds are a challenge but Antonia is young and quick so running in separate directions was a fun test for her.  They are the sweetest little people who are at that mobile but ‘idiot’ stage and as an aunt, I found it nothing short of adorable.

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I have to say Miss Math is the ABSOLUTE best friend about making time for me and I am forever happy for all the time she creates for me.  This trip 2 other friends made really awesome efforts to come see me.  I missed getting a picture of one who drove 4 hours in traffic to see me for 3 hours, but here is my other.  She left as soon as work ended down south and drove the night to get to Sayville the morning I was leaving and texted at 6am that she was there and needed a nap and to call repeatedly until I woke her up.  We spent an hour or so catching up and seeing her pregnant belly and she saw all the productions of my pregnant belly plus the puppy (she has been a superb pup mom forever)

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I put this on Instagram too, this is my trio solo.  We went on plenty of beach and playground trip just us while the rest of NY was still in school.  They may fight, they may drive me crazy sometimes but if you think about it, who can you spend 24/7 with all the time?  We did do something every day but it was not a rush-rush vacation so there was plenty of time just us or just us and my parents.  I am not quite at the read a book stage of parenting, I still need to have eyes on them too frequently but it is nice that there are times I can just sit and relax.  2 weeks is a pretty long time to be gone but not long enough to feel like we fit in quite yet.  I end up missing my stuff, my car, my routine and to all the busy people who found time for me I know how hard it can be since usually, I have a really really full routine.  The break was nice but I’m glad to be back here even if I have zero family, all my friends are from the past few years so no ‘remember when we were’ conversations or history and my network is 1/12 of what it could be if I had stayed in my hohometown.   Moving here was a good decision but not an easy one but as always, I’m more glad for what I got to do and who I did get to see then sad about what I missed or leaving it behind again after 2 weeks.

 

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Bye bye guys, so glad we had this trip and everyone has an open invite to visit us!

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Back to the MN life

Yes, yes, yes… we made it back.  Reasonably easily even!

Last I posted we were in the vacation land of NY where I had made nearly no plans but managed to fill the days with friends and family.  The trend continued, I am super lucky to have friends that will twist their week or weekend to work me in and my sister even scheduled her house warming for when I was there so not only could I help warm her new cute house, but, see a ton of family and mutual friends all in one spot.  Above is one picture, I’ll do a post with more pictures and the ‘what we did’ list for posterity, but, the nature of travel and visiting is on my mind and I have a few thoughts ~

When one visits a place like a tourist they never expect to see friends, maybe some old friend is local and you do a lunch or something to catch up but usually, you are there to visit the PLACE.

When one goes to visit a specific person you see a TON of that person and the I must say, people who you spend 24/7 with on a visit like that are like ‘next level’ friends.  However, while you are visiting that person/family you do some tourist things but somehow even if you have 10 other friends in the area, unless they are mutual to the person you are officially visiting you don’t see much of those other friends.

What we do is a hybrid because we go ‘home’ the people we officially visit are my parents because we stay there.  The hybrid part is that there is a mix of people I see quite frequently while I’m there almost as much as if I was there to spend the week with them, and, people that I see once or twice – more like the standard visit a place model.  Balancing the two styles plus also wanting to cram a little culture and adventure like visiting a place and time to see all my giant family ends up getting hard but I would not trade it for anything.  I hate when I have to miss something or a timing just won’t work but I also choose to focus on all the positives possible.  If I see an old friend for 20 min, that is 20min more than nothing!

I also told myself this is my only break all summer because the rest is all about house market, possible move, camping trips, and full-time parenting.  I got dumped directly back into the soup because the dream of the house selling on day 1 didn’t happen and so when we got home it was not the recovery day and luggage explosion it was scrub and clean and get ready for more showings.  We are in the low season of the summer for sales since it is prime graduation and holiday season the spring rush is over and the end of summer rush before school is yet to begin.  I’ll consider this week a practice and time to get a routine down that keep the house clean and kids happy (good wishes welcome!)

The timing of our return was also because of a very special day.  Today, June 29, is a milestone birthday for Lars and we had to be home!  We had to compromise a bit on the day because I had an afternoon work meeting that I had to go to but we spent a nice morning together seeing the house we might buy again, then he took the girls to the zoo and I did the work thing, and now the kids are playing and Lars gets a nap and we have a baby sitter coming in an hour so we can go out together.  I also scored on the birthday gift.  We did the normal t-shirt and little things but I got an instant pot, something he has never really heard of but given his cooking hobby I took the gamble and I won.  The best gifts are things you don’t know you want and/or something you would not just buy yourself.  The girls and I found it and my sleep deprived, travel tired brain recognized that this was IT and we got it.

So now you are all up on what I’m doing.  I hope to get back on a routine soon but who knows, that might change tomorrow.  The stay at home life is never dull if you’re doing it right.

 

Ny travel log

Yes! we are here, we did arrive!

When I go places like Texas or Flordia we have day by day itineraries and places to see and things to do.  When I go to NY my plans are pretty much ‘get there’ full stop.

If you remember before I left for NY I had a fever and strep and was more or less a mess but the girls were good and Prima was an all star and the travel was arranged to be simple (direct flight) and all worked as planned.  I’ve gotten to like a new trick for luggage and kids etc. If I am checking a bag at all, meaning I have to go to baggage no matter what, there is no point in dragging a rollalong or 2 through the airport because 9 times in 10 they can’t fit them in the overheads anyway and ask people to gate check.  I’ve started to just ask at the desk if they are going to be asking for gate checks and handing them over right there.  This time there was a problem with the luggage arriving, they unloaded the plane and then went on break or shift change or something because our luggage didn’t make the final step to the baggage belt.  The entire flight waited over an hour (at midnight) for it to be figured out.  The kids even made it through that with reasonable tempers and we got to my parents super late and ready for bed.

 

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where oh where is our luggage….. puppy in a baby bjorn

 

The next few days were the recovery and settle in and relax days.  I didn’t exercise, I sat and rested, I didn’t do much of anything.  I saw my sister and Miss Math and my grandmother and my cousins that are also visiting and other friends from highschool and really just did the mellow hang out thing.  That is still the general plan for the week left but now I have more energy and I’m feeling better.

The weather matched my mood more or less with some gray days that made you want to stay inside but now it is bright and sunny and I’m glad for the more happy play outside weather.

On the homefront, our house has had a few showings and tons of views in the official 5 days it is on the market.  I hope the perfect person finds it soon, ideally before we get back, because Lars is doing fine living in our model home but I don’t want to really try with the kids!  If we do, we will be doing tons of day-long outings to keep the house neat.

I’m going back to vacation mode, checking email and facebook a little each day but more focus on the activity around me.  While I say we have been not doing much, when I went to pull up some pictures there were plenty and here is a taste of our vacation life;

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playing with (second) cousins

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beach with friends, digging a giant hole

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boating with aunt Josie

 

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rainy day trip to a summer reading kick off, they had NO fun at all….

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Niamh steering for real, look at the concentration on her face

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birthday art kids are getting use daily

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took in an Akido class for a well rounded vacation

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I even went to a party without kids and with lipstick

 

crunch day!

Yesterday I did not get everything done because I ended up going to the Dr and found that it is not allergies or a cold but strep.  You know how low the chances of strep are for an adult?  Well, I’m glad to live in a time of antibiotics and today they need to work overtime.  I need to get myself, 3 other humans and 1 canine through a pair of airports in less than 9 hours.  I have told all the girls that once we get to NY all my attention can be for them – not the house, no meetings, just my family, and NY friends.

In the next 9 hours, I need to pack (yesterday I got all the laundry done, your favorite things are always the ones you just wore).  To save time I don’t plan on putting away any of the clothing we are not bringing – it is all going directly into totes in the garage so our house looks even tidier for 1/4 empty closets.  I need to get everything back to ‘show ready’ and that includes spiriting away many stuffed animals and swapping bed spreads etc.  I’ve saved my sanity by booking an awesome cleaning service for tomorrow who will do the floors and windows so I don’t have to worry about cleaning while we are still here.

I’m totally not the first person to move.  It is, however, the first time I have tried to do this sell a house thing and I wish I had more time to make it even better.  We have had just over a month from deciding this is what we are doing to hitting the market. I’ve done nearly nothing in the yard but that is on today’s list so maybe!

If anyone is wondering what my house looks like, here is the presale link

our house

We truly have taken good care of the house and I hate to leave behind the house we know for a new bag of tricks, but, we are also tripping over each other and need more space so we look and look for the next place to make our own.  Everyone think good thoughts for us!  We are actually in the great place that we don’t have to move, we don’t have to take a low offer, it is a seller’s market and I’m doing my best to not go crazy over this.

This time tomorrow I will be typing something (or maybe sleeping) from my parents in NY enjoying a well-earned vacation.

(endless) weekend review

status;

rolls of tape; 3

giant bags of trash out; 9

General packed status;45%

days till house is on the market; 4

 

School finished last Thursday and with it, my order of weekdays and weekends.  Thursday itself was a busy day with our last carpool, then directly to Fiona’s well child (she is a well child) and then to target because while her body and brain are developing nicely she decided she didn’t need to put on shoes so she was barefoot and we had places to go.  After a record breaking trip to target we got back to school to run the outdoor twister game for Zoe’s picnic. Off we went again to pick up some totes for packing and home to await the final homecoming of the school age children.  We topped of that day with a family walk to the park and a little relaxitation.

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Friday, the first day of vacation, went reasonably well.  I’m jumping on the ‘to do list before screen time’ this year just to try and get some stuff accomplished in the day.  I got the general list from a variety of pinterest posts – there are some very aggressive lists out there, ones I would be lucky to finish in a day as an adult!  With 2 readers in the house now this type of to-do list actually can work since they can read it themselves.  Also, Zoe loves to-do lists and has put way more pressure on her sisters and herself than I ever would have.  I made it by folding a piece of scrapbook paper so some of the pretty part showed and I still had white to write.  Then I laminated it so we can reuse it all year.  I personally left an open space under ‘chores’ so I could write in that days needs and for us, this all starts after breakfast so they can still wake up and watch a show like normal.

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Saturday was a friend’s wedding so we had a semi-productive morning taking a batch to storage, buying a pair of party shorts (it was 90 degrees, Lars was not wearing a suit) and starting the garage clearing.  The wedding itself was really nice, kids had fun, we sat with friends, the food was well chosen and other than the 90 degree thing it was a really good time.  The real bad thing is that my nagging throat got worse in the night and I woke up hardly able to talk and swallow.  Advil helps but over Sunday I added a fever to the mix but we had 5 houses to look at so we did that (and not much else).  Sunday also started with a giant hail storm, house and cars did ok but plants took a beating.

The houses we saw were basically everything in the area that could work for us.  We are now down to 2, both have something about them that is awesome and something that is really not…  Both are dependent on our house selling well.  Seeing houses in a bit of a fever fog was not ideal but there are just not many days left before I take the girls and puppy off to NY to hopefully have the house show better without 4 mess makers in it.

Today is the first Monday of vacation time and I don’t have much planned.  I am hoping that I can be more functional today and get things done

Party in a box

When we started this semi-impulsive move I looked ahead and saw that there were absolutely 2 birthday’s that would be quite in the thick of things and decided I HAD to give myself a break from doing ‘too much’ for the birthdays.  However, Fiona and Zoe’s birthday shouldn’t really suffer too much from our move so I tried to find a compromise.  Here is what I did.

#1. Since their birthdays are just 2 weeks apart, we found a weekend (the only free weekend day) in between and put their party on ONE day.

#2. We decided to use our new YMCA as the venue since they offered decent party packages and did have our date available so in a nod to the two kids, we actually booked 2 parties

  • Zoe turning 7 had more options based on age so we booked her a 3 hour party that included 1h of swimming, 1h of the bounce house, and 1h in the party room.
  • Fiona turning 5 had fewer options and to stagger the starts we just booked her a 2 hour party with 1h in the bounce house and 1h in the party room.
  • The staggered start meant we could greet each party of kids independently and they moved together as a group and we finished all together in the party room for 2 cakes.

#3. I gave myself a ‘pass’ on making all my decorations and running around to 3 different stores went to Oriental Trading and just clicked around until I had a party in a box. *because of my ongoing relationship with them, Oriental Trading treated me to this build your own birthday party in a box and in return I’m telling you all about it!

I had to be a little creative in some ways and in others there was a super obvious and easy choice but here is the party fresh out of the shipping box (a box I have reused and packed a bunch of family pictures in);img_2867

The EASY part was treat bag!  First I saw the cellophane bags (bottom right) and then I found the face bag (top right) and I just got both.  I hedged my bets about size and quality and in the end I actually used both.  The face bags have a narrow top but are otherwise really cute and easy to fill.  I put Boom Chicka Pop, the most awesome popcorn, into the cellophane bags and that gave me some nice bulk.  The other goodie bag fillings were also pretty easy to hunt up – the emoji stickers, stampers, and pins were all on the theme and good value.

Second most easy were the craft.  There are emoji scratch off crafts front and center on the site.  They really don’t create anything grand but kids really love scratching off the black to make the design and each packet comes complete for the craft so it was just hand one per kid and let them do what they do.

The Harder part was table wear.  Napkins and cups, no problem.  No easy options for plates? I searched emoji and smile and nada in the plate family but then I saw these ninja plates and figured they would work just fine.  I ended up just using some leftover paper plates for the dinner plate so it was all fine and looked festive. **going back today for links I see they have a dinner plate now!  Must have been sold out, but no cake plate so my ninja pick is still a good tip if you are doing an emoji them birthday**

The Hardest part was decor.  I didn’t need balloons because filling a balloon you purchase elsewhere is nearly impossible so I just buy them here.  In the end, I got the plain yellow pennant banner and my sharpie and I decorated while we watched some TV the night before.  Let me tell you, a 200f banner is REALLY long.  It did make the room look emoji theme with only 1 decoration so that is a big impact.  I ended up cutting it so I had a big one on the wall and a small one to decorate the serving table.img_2888

 

Overall a party in a box + a venue I didn’t need to clean made it a very fun and pretty easy party.  There were questions of service and organization on the part of the Y, but, I’m working on that.  Let’s just say you can’t expect much from teen party assistants….

It is not a secret that Oriental Trading is an easy one stop party shop but now there is proof that in 20min of shopping and a few minutes of assembly you can have a nearly Pinterest worthy party with nearly no effort.

I’m not sure I’ll be stacking parties like this again, it was a whirlwind, but give the time we have it was the best we could do and everyone had a good time so that is what counts.