I felt like we got ‘nothing done’ but in reality we did tons, just did not finish any of the big things on the list.
Hot news first; Zoe and her softball team won their division! They did not have a great record but it was actually a lot like a tv show. At first the scrappy team of new girls learn to get along. Then they have some early success but a long string of losses. Some losses were close, some really not close – there were tears and talks about how they like seeing their friends and being on a team and learning the game. Games were rained out, rescheduled, and we parents became acquainted with each other as we spent hours sitting together. Finally, the day of the tournament everyone tried so hard and had practiced and through some really lucky hits and catches we found ourselves in the finals. They were overjoyed and nervous as all eyes were on them. Zoe made a fantastic catch for an out. The pitcher reached deep and struck out a few girls. Finally, the last girl hit the ball very short and our catcher got it and tagged home base as the runner was coming at her BUT it wasn’t a force situation (meaning nobody was going to 3rd so that runner could have gone back to safety) and in that situation, you have to tag the runner. Neither girl knew what to do but about 50 adults were screaming at them and they were in a semi-frozen standoff on the 3rd baseline and finally, our catcher ran nearly to 3rd base and tagged the girl. It was over! It was exciting! Nobody cried! There were trophies!
Softball may never be as exciting at this fresh first year but Zoe is already excited to play next year. The coach is willing to stay, the girls seem happy, and in my opinion, knowing what we are doing will only help us do better. We were supposed to be in South Dakota with friends but since they couldn’t make it we choose not to go and I’m really glad we had the opportunity to do this tournament.
The other major theme of the week was getting #1 ready to go to her fancy science camp. It has a dress code so we have been collecting the dullest clothing out there. I updated her medical to show she has a broken arm, I hope it does not impact her ability to participate. I’m double glad this year is a science camp since last year was rock climbing! It is her first sleep-away camp and we are not all that nervous (yet) tomorrow might be different. It is a little odd that I’ll be bringing her to the University campus, I had felt that was still a few years off, but it is a great choice for an academic camp since it is pretty empty of normal students during the summer. Tomorrow’s instagram will show us dropping the happy camper for sure.
The other major thing #1 had to accomplish pre-camp was more or less moving out of her room because her boy cousins are coming for a few week visit starting Monday. She might be bumped from her room but she does get a mom super clean in the deal. Technically she was ‘helping’ but after enough help she slunk away to play really nicely with her sisters and I just did it my self – much easier actually. I could throw away trash without discussion and now it looks neat as a pin. It helps I put most of her ‘stuff’ in a box in the closet to be gone through when she returns. However, only one bag of trash and one box of stuff is pretty good all things considered.
Did I bury the lead? Yes, I’m importing 3 extra kids for the next few weeks so their parents can do a few super cool/important things that happened to overlap. It was stressing my sister out so I just volunteered and now she can do her thing, he can do his and all the cousins can cavort like wild monkies here. I think these Texans might really like it up here, I looked at the forecast and our temp for the next 15 days is between 60 and 90, and, where they live I saw a 105 on their list… that is super hot. My mom is also coming to visit the crew at the end of week 1 and we are filling our time up fast so I’m sure it will be super fun.
The other days this week we had lunch with friends to celebrate the end of Ramadan (observed), we achieved passport submission so now we can travel internationally, celebrated our friends birthday with a middle of the day cake, #1 cut a foot of hair (and still has long hair) and the other two were trimmed up and we managed to get to the pool a couple times. Books have been read, math practice done, food made and consumed, 168 stupid fights started and ended, yard mowed, and, we downloaded the harry potter themed Pokemon/Ingress game. When I list it out it looks pretty cool, I wish it didn’t feel like a frantic paddle to stay above water half the time.
Ok, the longest day of the year here, it is nearly 7 and absolutely still bright. I’ll go chip away a little more at the pagoda project of never-endingness. Projects like this make me feel like I get nowhere but when they are finally done the impact will be worth it!
We are nearly 1 week in and I have had a constant ebb and flow of children flowing around me. Today is my first time at my desk in about 7 days…
First of all, it is officially summer because someone broke a bone. The past 4 years one of our friends has been broken, this year is our turn. On the second to last day of school #1 had a collision with a friend while playing a game and they both went down. Slapping out only works when your friend doesn’t fall directly on your bent wrist. Hey, could have been worse, it is in a half cast, meaning the bottom is a cast and the top is a bandage so she can actually wash. (Only some of us count this as a perk…) She can do most things but it is sad to tell her she really can’t go to the climbing park with a friend. I’m on the lookout for a brace she can wear to swim, that should make the summer much better. She doesn’t really swim laps but she does enjoy pool time with sisters and friends.
Here are the first-day last day pictures – I’m always amazed by how much they grow in one school year.
Over the past 6 days, my kids have either had friends over, been over their house, or we met somewhere for them all to play. I don’t think I can keep this up all summer but it has been fun.
This weekend we had #3’s birthday party. We did an archery theme and the kids all had a great time. When you have a giant yard, why not just lean in? We have a softball field on one side of the garden and an archery range on the other. The party had some cute crafts for me to get excited over (thanks Pinterest) and thankfully #1 has the right blend of bossy and professionalism that she could run the archery range for the kids that wanted to do it for over an hour. Others choose to play elsewhere after the official archery, cake, gifts portion of the party was done. I like building in free play, I like even more when it works! If they were listless I had a backup plan but they bopped between playing with new toys, archery, and playset pretty nicely until parents came to collect them. Birthday season Complete!
Sunday we were supposed to meet the girl scouts for an end of year gathering at a park but the weather looked ominous so I volunteered our house. We were already tidy from the party the day before, not to mention had an archery range, so we had about 45 people for a couple of house for a very fun, zero stress party. Since we were expecting to be in a park, everyone already had food and drinks and even dishware ready so all we did was move a few things around and instant party! We had another dozen kids at archery and one mom even decided to clean up so when I got in from the yard the kitchen was cleaner than when they got there. She is invited to every party from now on.
Monday I was going to ‘take it easy’ but we were invited out to a park and I can’t resist. We were meeting #2’s friend there so I picked up other friends on the way so everyone could play. Pleasant morning and easy afternoon after dropping off again and then we were off to softball for a picture-perfect evening (even if we lost yet another game).
Tuesday and Wednesday #1 and #2 were signed up for a local safety camp. They learn a bunch of personal and bike safety lessons but most importantly they interact with the local police in a positive way. Half the kids there were familiar, including one girl that #2 saw and asked “did you play softball last night?” yes she did, I didn’t recognize her at all but #2 has a knack for faces. #3 had a playdate half of Tuesday so I had a tiny bit of time to do things at home but the afternoon got crazy with camp pickup, dash home then out to gymnastics then sprinting to softball. #3 moved up a level and is getting good at gymnastics and our Tuesday softball session was great and the game ended in a tie. Wednesday camp invited #3 to come back at noon for lunch and then a BMX bike trick show and then a magic show. The bike guy did have some lessons on trying hard and safety that fit the theme, the magic show was just pure fun as far as I can tell. It wasn’t the day I imagined but it was pretty fun. #2 even won a bike in the drawing.
And now we are at home today. The first day I don’t have plans to leave the house EARLIER THAN A SCHOOL DAY. How did that happen? We do have an extra child who slept over, we are expecting 2 more after lunch and #1 has a babysitting job at 3:30 so when I bring her we will go do the grocery shopping etc
Oh! Nearly forgot my crazy week last week included an awards dinner, a scholarship presentation thing that took about 45 hours, a school board meeting, and finally the graduation event itself. The speakers were fabulous, the weather was perfect, it was impeccably organized and if there was a glitch I didn’t see it. They all say handing out the diplomas is the best part of the school board and I think I agree.
May all 88 days of summer be so fun
For some reason, so much of my world is measured in where it falls in my world. It bothers me when I can’t acknowledge that something is the first or the last and only realize it after the fact. Sometimes you can’t help that, like the super sad thing Lars told me once that there will be a day when you pick up your child for ‘the last’ time and you won’t even know it, you just never pick them up again because of so many possible reasons. Those are sad but don’t bother me as much as just missing something like the last full week of school – that was 2 weeks ago and I didn’t know at the time because I completely forgot about a Monday holiday and school ending on a Thursday. Water under the bridge – this week though I KNOW it is the last week (well, 4 days) of school. Of my ‘normal’ schedule. As of Friday, I will have full charge of all my children until September.
To that end, I’m trying to half savor and relax the quite and also cram in as much of the to-do list as possible. Anyone else see how that is doomed to fail? So this is my last Wednesday before summer and I have a list of things to do but somehow not my normal list of Wednesday stuff? There isn’t an on/off switch, it is like a slider bar into summer. The past 2 weeks have been field trips and fun things outside at school and I’ve been there so much I feel like I work there. Really, nobody going to school will give me back time in some ways, but, that time will inevitably be used in kid management.
One more ‘last’ happening – we are closing in on our last birthday in the trio. #3 passed from 6 to 7 years old happily at the children’s museum field trip with me there beside her. Instead of a ‘fancy dinner’ that we normally do she choose pizza at zero gravity. the clever girl really just wanted to go to the giant trampoline and indoor play place and she got her wish. The cake ended up a bit late in the day but it was an enjoyable birthday. This weekend is her friend party and we are doing an archery theme. I did intend to set up an archery range in the yard and this just gives me a good push to get it done. The perfect number of kids are able to come so we won’t even need to share bows since I was able to borrow 6 from a friend.
The archery party plan is to have the kids run around on a scavenger hunt for the gear hidden in the yard so they can learn about the equipment as we find it. Then some target shooting where hopefully they have fun and get ok at it. The finale will be a target pinata where they will need to work together to shoot it open. I can’t say I ethically like this more than beating something with a bat to get candy, but, it is slightly more skill based. Depending on mood and flow there will be cake and gift time and I’m sure it will devolve into just running around and playing (without bows) and that is ok too. I’m going to put #1 in charge of the range, she might only be 11 but is good at rules and will keep people safe.
I know school ends for everyone at different times so if you are already on break good luck, if you are not yet; savor the days. I’m actually looking forward to the fun of the summer, the kids are older and we have no naps to work around. I have a couple things already planned and next week we will work out chores and ways to prevent the summer slide. If anyone has good ideas throw them my way!
I must remind myself that this time last year our house didn’t even have sheetrock or toilets so I can’t feel down that we don’t have a brilliant patio, garden, playset, and yard. I’ve been working hard and I can say we do have a fairly cool playset and 1/4 of a garden structure. I got semi-firm timing on when the builders will be able to finish our yard grading and the grass is after that. I know I’ve posted a little about the play structure already but for the sake of complete info, here is a pretty complete summary;
1. I purchased this set* from Amazon since it came with hardware and swings and I didn’t need to reinvent the wheel. It was a good choice and I learned some nice tricks from the instructions that I used in my extra structures. I did need to buy the GIANT drill bit and spade bit but they proved useful in all other parts of my building so an extra $30 well spent. It took me about a week in little bursts to get the base set done. If I just ‘did it’ I estimate 6 hours and you absolutely need a 2nd person for at least one part but I did the vast majority alone. Let’s just say that time in the gym isn’t wasted because I lifted a lot in making this. (*I get nothing from you buying, just telling you what I got)
2. I had this set of monkey bars from when we had them in our old house. I originally thought I would put them from the platform end but once I saw the 3d version I scrapped that plan and moved the monkey bars over to the end. The plan was to use the A at the end for one of the supports to increase stability. This could have been done in about an hour but took me 4 days because of the lack of an hour in a row.
- I measured and dug holes for the other 4x4x8 3 legs based on the anchor of the swing set
- I assembled the bars 17 inches apart on the 2x6x12s set onto a set of saw horses so I didn’t have to use a ladder. This did create a pretty heavy thing to lift up and bolt so my solution was to put a couple screws half way into each leg at about the goal height to lift and prop the monkey bars on top of. It isn’t safe to leave this way so make sure you have time to do at least 3 of the 4 legs or just put it down again.
- With the bars up lifted up (team lift) and resting at the height, we decided on (78 inches) based on the scientific method of having the kids reach/jump and show me where they wanted – I bolted the first ‘corner’ to the swing set using 3/4 x5 bolts and these nifty washers that nail into the wood. I sunk each in about an inch and drilled using my giant drill bit purchased for the swing set.
- From that first point, I leveled the system on leg number 2 (same side, other end). I generally ignored the level left/right at that time and things stayed reasonably steady on their screw rests. I could pretty easily lift the little bit to make it level and then reused the screws to fasten it while I made the bolt hole.
- Turned around and did the 3rd bolt, leveling left/right and repeating the screw, drill, bolt procedure.
- Last leg, I had to level both lengths and left/right but it was pretty easy with the other 3 set tight.
- Finally, I cut scrap to add bracers/steps and attached them.
The monkey bars were a wild success and my monkey children loved it. After a few days it got a left/right wobble on the end away from the swing set. I didn’t use concrete or set them super deep so that would be a good choice if you want to eliminate this issue. Personally, I didn’t concrete because I didn’t know how long this will be up, and, I didn’t want to mess with it. Instead, I added a flip bar to add to the fun, and, stabilize the system.
- I purchased another 4x4x8, a 3/4in 45inch long threaded stainless pipe (they come that way at our store) and 2 floor flanges.
- To be super stable we sunk this 4×4 super deep, so deep we hit water. There is at least 4 feet below the ground (FYI the reason why we don’t have a basement).
- I already had the giant drill and the spade bit from the swing set and I easily drilled a set of holes and banged the pipe through.
- thread on the flange and screw it onto the posts, not like it was going anywhere but now it really isn’t.
The flip bar was actually the easiest thing because I already had the tools and really it was already 1/3 built because it latched onto leg 3 of the monkey bars. Amazing what not going to the store does for the speed of a project.
Future plans for this structure include a balance beam on the other side of the monkey bar to further stabilize, although it is pretty good now. I’m also adding a ninja line at some point too, still researching the right one for us.
If you found this because you want to DIY a backyard swing set or playset this worked for me. I would say I have medium building skills and I read the directions many may times. For the part I ‘made up’ it is all about keeping stuff level and bolting it together. The rest of the yard is not much to look at but the kids have a playset now and that was goal #1 of the yard.
I missed recording a few things in my crazy little life here.
Most importantly; #2 is now 9! As we say ‘It’s time for 9″. She claims she had to wait FOREVER for her birthday and all her friends are older, however, given the number of birthday parties we have attended for her friends this month, she was born peak season. We did another sleepover with a fun painting project to pass the time. All the girls did great with everything and eventually went to sleep. The party was on a Friday night to have a prayer of fitting into graduation/recital season and we actually had everyone attend and the bonus was we still had the weekend. On her real birthday, we had lunch together at school and she skipped jujitsu to hang out with me and then we went for sushi. It was a full day and I think she enjoyed it.
Speaking of parties – in the past 2 weeks, we have had 4 kid birthday parties, a house warming, a bridging ceremony, a graduation, and 2 grad parties that we got to. It has been an intensely social couple of weeks. Most of these were in succession, going from one to the next to the next. A few were concurrent where we dropped a kid at a birthday and went to another celebration and back in time to pick up again. Exhausting but exciting and fun to see so many friends achieving things in their worlds.
The weather… has been a factor in all things. Currently, it is raining, again. Yesterday it was perfect. That is the way, we get a couple gorgeous days and a couple soggy days. I have two lists at all times; things to do outside and things to do inside. It also has been mild to cool here still. I know other places are melting already but we are still using layers. I wonder if I can ever put away all the winter?
Remember when I said I was doing a lot of field trips this month? This past week I went on a 3 day trip ‘up north’ with the 5th grade. It was thoroughly educational and the staff at the place was incredibly good with kids and making science exciting. Every activity had a running dialogue of history and science and social interactions that was like sneaking veggies into a cookie. We spent tons of time in the woods, in the ponds looking at micro-organisms, and even some classroom time. They have a magic formula going up there I’m glad to have participated in. It was worth the time, however, three days away still has a price in things NOT done elsewhere and it was also not exactly relaxing keeping track of 130 kids.
We also got a new minivan. This was a process that spanned about 4 months but we finally got it this Saturday. It is still a little amazing to be in, so new and full of tech to learn. We decided on the Pacifica – great safety and stats – but we needed one that had 6 seats in the back. That turned out to be a special order but it was worth the wait because since we were factory ordering we could get or leave out any option we wanted so no compromises because it was ‘on the lot’. I listed our Oddysey and hope it sells to a nice person. That will be its own post someday because it truly was a good car. We have always done a trade in so it is odd to still have our old car too.
Between parties and rain storms, we have gotten more of the play set up, I added monkey bars and then a flip bar that is both fun and helps keep the system stable. The kids are enjoying it both for its built purpose of swing/monkey bar/flip and also as a centerpiece of imagination games that I can’t even start to describe. Let’s just say my 3 have no shortage of crazy imagination scenarios that they can play all day. This set lures them out of the house. There is still a list of building projects not to mention yard work in general. We did get our yard mowed. Note I didn’t say grass…. we are waiting on the builders to finish some drainage fixes so we didn’t plant yet, however, plenty of volunteer green items were filling the void and we mowed them to a socially acceptable level. Next year we might have grass… maybe.
Sports were dominant this month with #1 doing track and #2 doing softball and #3 doing gymnastics and they were all stacked on Monday and Tuesday making them crazy afternoons. We survived though, the last track meet was Monday and #1 did very well. She was 3rd overall for the 800m and had fun on all her events. Everyone got t-shirts and ribbons and I got to see parent friends from all over I wasn’t expecting. Now we ‘just’ have softball and gymnastics (and jujitsu) but the schedule is much less crazy.
Last but not least, I looked and there are less 2 weeks of school left. This year flew by but we did do quite a lot so we earned our summer. The next 2 weeks are full of end of year things, a final field trip, #2 has a wax museum presentation that parents are invited to, and I need to do one last birthday party.
I’m closing in on 1000 words here so that is plenty to read with your coffee, I will keep ‘blogging’ on my list for inside time and hopefully, I get back to a bit more regular schedule when things click over to summer life.
ps. while uploading pictures I was reminded that I also went to school for their field day, a 5th-grade concert that was actually really good, we dealt with our first major behavior in school issue, we attended the agriculture fair at the high school and got to pet the baby goats and I helped a friend rehab and stage his house to sell – reminding me I don’t really like packing but packing someone else is more fun. Now I don’t feel so bad about the basket of towels that just never seems to get folded.
On Mothers day, a day that was ‘meh’ at best due to a variety of things beyond my control, I went to work on the swing set and decided that I truly did need some bolts and would take myself to the store. At the store, I see a giant banner “11% off all items” and this is the store that just a 5 days previous I got a fairly expensive load of wood. Lucky for me I know they have a form for stuff purchased within 7 days of the sale and so I got the form. Unlucky for me I threw out that very necessary, no replacements accepted, receipt because I decided I needed to clean my car. So, at 9pm at night I went through our trash to find the receipt. Yes, I will dig money out of the garbage. On a positive note between trash day (Tuesday) and mothers day (Sunday) we only generated 1 bag of trash.
This week was pretty crazy and the creep of debris was getting to me so yesterday afternoon, in the 45 min I had at home, I picked up all the litter of school, dishes, laundry, random toys etc. Among these things was a handwritten rough draft of a paper #1 is doing for school. Since I printed out a final copy that morning I felt pretty safe tossing the paper that was due last week and was more or less to prove they started the paper before the day it was due. I’m at my board meeting and actually do not get the frantic series of texts about this draft but when I get home expecting peaceful sleeping children (I can’t say that actually happens but hope eternal) and I get a mess of a tween begging me to help find her draft because the teacher told them that day it was worth 15 points. Yes, I am also the type of person who will go through the trash for homework. 9pm again, going through the trash. It was found, a tad worse for wear but legible, and I put it in a gallon ziplock and wrote a nice note to the teacher. He is new, he is doing his best, I hope trash-draft sticks in his mind as a good reason to give a list of requirements at the start of a project.
Did I enjoy a clean car and clean living room? Yes. I probably will continue to throw away trash and not become a hoarder but I can see where they are coming from…. As a nice side bonus I got a bit of hero status as the mom who will go through trash for her kid, seriously, her happiness is worth way more than $50.
I may continue to monitor our trash production though. I’m probably unnaturally proud that our family of 5 creates only about 1 bag of trash a week and that is before we start compost for the season (I’m behind/don’t wanna decide where to put the heap). All the girls are following suit on reuse and recycle. #1 requested we get thrift store plates for her party so we would not need disposable. #2 requested I get reusable cups for hers. This weekend we had 6 extra kids for a party and we created next to no trash because even though I tried to use disposable forks #3 personally got them from the drawer to make sure we were using washable. Nobody tell them how much energy and water the dishwasher uses but at least we are not filling a landfill.
Fortunately my week was really far better than my two dumpster dives suggests. Super busy with kids, activities and helping friends plus great weather that makes us want to be outside playing. The weather this weekend is supposed to be dreadful so I’ll probably spend some time catching up on chores and then probably going through the trash again for some lost treasure…