Happy Easter 

It is the perfect sunny Sunday to hang out with family and friends. 

9 years

Dear Niamh


Nine feels like you are not a little kid anymore and in some ways you are not.  You can reach almost everything you want, you can run a quarter mile in just over 2 minutes, you can ride a bike with no problems and there isn’t anything you won’t climb.  In fact, your wish at the moment is to go to a 28 day climbing trip (I said no by the way because it is for 12 year olds).

Your goal for the year is to be more kind.  In so many ways you are very kind already.  Your instinct is usually to help someone sad or hurt and you care deeply for other people.  On the other hand, your views of what is ‘fair’ sometimes make you hard to deal with because if it isn’t fair you will let everyone know.  Sometimes you let things go with no reservations, you let your little sister have almost any and every stuffed animal or toy she wants of yours.  When you draw the line though it is defended with very loud screaming.  You wrote your goal to be kinder to your sisters and I’m glad to see that is on your mind.

As oldest you get to do so many things first.  Because you are tallest you have gone on every roller coaster and crazy waterpark thing you are tall enough for.  You love the excitement and I hope you always keep that.  You are also pulled back toward your sisters when it comes to the mysteries of childhood – you are still firmly a Santa believer and also fairies and the leprechaun and plenty of other things that a more realist or pragmatic (or dull) child might have started to scoff at by 9.



technically waiting for our ride to the airport, but, you waited for santa with 100x more excitement.


Right now academically you are in the last quarter of 3rd grade.  Your reading is OK and your math is fantastic.  Teachers like you because you are well behaved and involved.  The good friends of yours like you because of you but you are getting to the onerous age where kids are mean and anything, not ‘normal’ is ‘weird’.  Unfortunately being good at math makes you ‘weird’, jujitsu, travel and camping and certainly the SCA are ‘weird’, hobbies like sewing or spinning are beyond the pale for the dull people who apparently are the taste makers of 3rd grade.  Don’t worry, I will continue to tell you that you are outstanding and interesting and to focus on the kids that are your true friends. Who knows what sinks in but you were comforting Zoe one day and told her you were picked last in gym for something because people think you are weird and Zoe said “why do they think that?” and your reply was “they are boring”.

Yes, you spin, you do some weaving, you can sew carefully and creatively and you can draw, you can bake brownies with no help and most meals with limited help.  You can swim and dive to the bottom of the pool.  You can multiply and divide in your head.  You love our friend Cecily and are still good friends with Abby and Dana.  If there is a baby or toddler in the room you will immediately see if you can help and will play with a 2-year-old for hours.  You also still play with your sisters and there are epic games through the garden and yard and every room of the house.  You still like all the little toys but prefer your kindle games and big run around imagination games to collecting ponies anymore.

On your dislike list; doing what you are told…. seriously!  If you just did what we asked you would be perfect!  I suppose everyone needs flaws…  So even if it is a thing you like, doing it on a different timeline from your choice will make you rebel.  This includes; all chores, helping cook, actually getting out the door for swim lessons, picking up your dishes or the game or anything you didn’t personally create.  In the end, you mostly get it done but there is shouting and lectures and you pout and stomp.  The crazy thing is you will spontaneously do most of these things, including cleaning, when the mood strikes you.  Most of the time you are fine with social interactions but every so often the old chiwini comes back and you can’t handle everyone looking at you or being up on stage.  I hate to put these negative things out there but I’m sure it will be fun for you/us to look back at them later.  (I really am only ever frustrated for a few minutes and I think you know that)

It is hard to write how you ‘are’ anymore because you are getting more round as a person.  There are things I don’t know at all.  I have no idea how you are in school beyond teacher reports and what you tell me.  You are absolutely fine with going out with Cecily for a day of cooking or archery or going to jujitsu with Dad or going to parties with friends and camping with scouts and anything away from me you go without looking back.  You are always glad to come home, you are always happy to tell me about your adventure but as glad as I am for your bravery and self-reliance I’m just a little sad that you need me less and less.  You even talk about going away to college but you promise to call me every day.


I’m starting to do my research about how and when you hit the next milestones of life.  It is easy with a baby, they sit, they crawl, they talk all usually within a month of expectations.  There isn’t a real mark for shaving your legs or opening a bank account.  We try to treat each one of you as individuals but you are always the one that is breaking fresh ground.  We have talked about hormones etc and apparently what you remember is that they make you crazy…  not really wrong, but, we might need to keep working on the whole message.

We talk nightly, not nearly as much as you would like.  You still love me to sing to you and you take any opportunity to be carried.  You still want hugs and are considered a celebrity at school when I come to lunch with you.  You and daddy read nightly, mostly nonfiction and you have been into Greek Gods recently.  The understanding of religion (if anyone can say they understand it) is very very broad, church mingles with greek gods and a good friend is a devoted Muslim and other friends are Jewish.  My standard remark on who is ‘right’ is that there are an infinite number of ways to add up to 10, all equally right.  I feel bad you don’t have the stability that a traditional go to church on Sunday routine might give you, but, you have parents who love you and are working hard to make sure you turn out well in the eyes of humans and god(s) (and profits, and fiction, and all the things)

Over the year of 8-9 you have gone to Hawaii, PA, NY, (and the states on the way in between) ND, WI Dells, tons of places in MN and WI.  You went to YMCA day camp for a week, pennsic for 2 weeks, Sesame Place, road trips all over for events and sold over 250 boxes of cookies.  It has been a busy year and we expect nothing less for your year of 9.



Totally 9

Due to travel and the nature of Friday night restaurant speeds, Niamh ended up awake at 10:06 on April 7, completing her 8th year in full. 

Thanks to wonderful friends there was cake and a crowd of people who love and care about her gathered in our hotel room. Not your most traditional birthday but hopefully a good one.

I have to do my letter to Niamh soon but it is late and we have a busy weekend. 

…I can’t believe I’ve been a mom for 9 years but I can’t imagine it any other way. 

Hello April!

It has been a week and quite a week it has been.  Busy days seem to go faster so the past week has been light speed.img_2342

Last week I had an ‘unplanned’ Friday.  There were things to do but nothing HAD to get done that day until a 3:30 start at school for a major setup and I was ready for a great day of finishing things.  I was still considering my copious options when the phone rang and that was the end of unplanned.  Thus is the life of multi-home ownership, sometimes the washer just dies and because friends live there I moved heaven and earth to get them a washer that day.  Technically I just moved a washer up and down a set of stairs (with help) but in between was a bunch of calls to find a washer and the drive to go get it.  The set up for the carnival went well but ate up the evening and I did finally get a call into my dad to celebrate his 26th birthday.



he is over 6’…

The weekend was a social blur with the school carnival, great weather, friends stopping over, an impromptu backyard fire where we burned the Christmas tree is spectacular 12 ft flames (only for about 2 minutes).  General peace and happiness for all.



Monday the kids had off for no apparent reason.  So, we did things around the house but none of the things I needed to get done.  On the other hand, Niamh exercised her creative side with a sewing machine gifted to us by a friend who appreciates little kids learning to sew.  I was amazed that she really could do it.  I know, I personally taught her and she


has seen me do it, but her fingers and brain just worked together and she really really did the sewing herself this time.  I have grand visions of her sewing with me now, hopefully getting things done faster.

Tuesday with only one child was still a dervish of activity.  We had our vent hood put in and that went really really well.  We were lucky that there was nothing structural in the way (besides the roof).  There was a crazy moment of fire when the drop cloth used to protect the brand new stove kinda caught on fire because the installer was leaning against the burner dials.  It was seen promptly and nobody was hurt and everyone laughed including the installer.  I also had the over-scheduled day that included a conference for Fiona (she is doing very well), swim lessons for Fiona (also doing well and can even swim somewhat and can actually float on her back!), swim lessons for Niamh and Zoe (they have been good for a while, this is refinement) and finally home for dinner where I tag Lars who has an aerobic class at 6:45.  Quite a day.



it needs trim, I’m working on that…


Wednesday I have no blog excuse except I spent all day working on work and my computer was being a pain.  So were many other programs and I was just done with the computer by the time I got the things done for people who pay me.

Today I did 3 under dresses and the end is in sight for the 3 over dresses – hand sewing only that I like to do while I watch TV.  I ‘wasted’ some time chilling with Fiona in bed because she really needed a nap.  I got a nap at least and in the end, she did too, so I’m stealing some time here to document how not working can end up being very very busy.

The weather is totally helping things not feel too crazy because we can go outside and the kids play after dinner.  It might not do great things for our schedule but they are less cranky overall and while they play I can do things.

Tomorrow is Niamh’s birthday so all the while we have been counting down.  We have done shopping, there are plenty of gifts even though 9 is a really hard age to shop for.  Breakfast is planned and tonight after my school board meeting I’ll be getting the traditional balloons ready for breakfast.  The day will have to be shared with a road trip because we are off to an event for the weekend.  In her honor, we got a fun hotel with a pool with slides and there is a plan for cake by the pool at 9 pm CST (parents and sisters note for calling in)

Now I have just a few minutes before they come home and we need to scoot to a friends house for a final fitting and then to my ‘date’ core conditioning class.  If I want to add pictures and maybe spell check I need to leave things here semi unfinished (just like my life!)

The balls in the air

Whenever I get blog silent its usually because I have too many balls in the air.  There was one point last week that I thought I was without a project, but that moment passed.  I’m in the middle of quite a few and more seem to be joining the party.

The last I posted we were expecting a new oven and I was excited because it was scheduled to arrive earlier than I had hoped.  It came MUCH earlier as it happens since the delivery window was 9-12 I was not expecting a call at 7:15 saying they were an hour from my delivery.  Um… I am not ready!  I have not hugged the stove goodbye, more importantly, my cookie sheets were still in the drawer!  This is what you get when you expect the world to run late and figure you have 3 more hours.  I rushed for nothing in the end because while they could deliver the new stove they could not take the old one because it was still hooked to the gas – my next scheduled appointment was from 1-4 for the plumber to install the new one.  He too was quite early, getting there at 12:30, and I was actually not even home since I had to do a few things at the school that morning.  No worries, I could text Lars to meet the guy and I was there to see the final install.  They also took away the old stove so I would call the day a success in the end.  Now I have a fancy (intimidating) new stove and ovens (yes plural!) but I can’t figure out how to make the timer work so I need to read the instructions.


Next up was the hood and the HVAC guy was late but that worked out well because I could get all the dishes done and moved away from what I was imagining was going to be a messy work site with all the drilling through cabinets and walls.  It was a false start though because we had missed a detail and had to go back to looking at the roof options.  Reschedule for a week so he can get his roof cutting tools but that option ended up being easier than he had expected.

Tuesday we also met with an architect.  She is a feisty lady who took a tour, gamely stepped over the chaos of kids rooms, and requested to look at our breaker box first thing.  Her visit and the stove install were fairly coincidental because we have been talking about building for years but we are being very cautious and no further momentum until we check with banking etc.  I told her that it took us 2 years to get the stove and she shook her head and hugged me and patted my head – I have a feeling she has seen our type before.  Incidentally, our HVAC guy recommended another contractor so now we have two options when before we had none and we were looking!  Like when your single you are not attractive but get a boyfriend and all the guys hit on you.

Today I worked all the paid work, finished signing tax papers, and progressed Niamh’s room redo 10 clicks.  The weekend work I planned was another false start with a snafu with her new light fixture so we lost some time because you can’t organize in the dark.  It was actually a good delay because I got 100% of the movable items out of her room and she and I together sorted.  There is a nice bin to yardsale/donate and a very full trash bin.  Zoe was the rock star of “I’m not a baby so I don’t need this” and really kicked off the donate push.  Niamh still wants all the nursery things but I have a few plans on how to keep the memories for her.  Right now we are in the worse before better stage.  I have a firm deadline though, she is having a birthday sleepover in 2 weeks.



the worldly goods of a nearly 9 year old


As if that were not enough projects (stove, vent, room redo, builders, party planning, PTO events) I added on a sewing project with a deadline of next week.  I’ve got the three dresses mostly done, each night I’ve been making button holes and sewing buttons and doing letters so 2:3 are ready for the final seam and I’m working on the last set of buttons tonight.  If I get really adventurous I might make something for myself maybe.



any guesses what the third will say?


Finally, to throw a wrench at us, the house is rebelling.  First we find some animal damage on one of our roof eves.  I looked carefully and we have no new residents that I can see but I think there is some water damage so to the insurance company I go and set up meetings for this week to check it out.  Second a pipe decides to burst – a very minor one, one almost set up as the weakest link because it is an outside pipe with a shutoff right down the line.  It had a bit of a dramatic water spray all over Lars but a plumber will be here Saturday.  Something about spring gets things going.

I’m also attempting to keep that 10k step goal, some days are easier than others but I claim ‘me time’ to do a workout when I’m really low.  My lists are ever growing but better to be busy than bored but if you don’t hear from me for a week assume you can probably guess that I’m either cleaning or organizing or talking to a contractor or driving someone somewhere or sewing or cleaning some more or installing light fixtures or climbing on my roof to scare racoons away or reading my oven manual or working out or planning a party or maybe just hiding in my room reading a book.

Nerd + Crafting

My dear husband, who I promise is an adult and contributing member of society, loves to play D&D with his guy friends.  It is his ‘guys night’ and a bunch of his friends go off and have very creative adventures in the comfort of the livingroom **major bonus of being an adult, they don’t have to be banished to the basement**.  I’ve played occasionally and it is fun enough, but I prefer to have the nice solo night at home where I get to eat a quiet dinner and watch whatever I like on tv.

Anyway, like all hobbies, there are tons of things marketed directly at them.  There are the books and stuff, but then there are the extras and we are the proud owners of a very nice set of spell templates.  They are nicely done truly – you put them on the playing board to show how far your fire ball or ice stream goes.  They came on a giant piece of thin plastic so my first contribution to this was my ability to cut very nicely.



spell sheet from Arc Knight – check them out, they are a great small business


The issue becomes how to carry all these bits…  For scale, that Capt America/Iron Man box is the length of a pencil (and is full of guess what; pencils!).  Some of the spells are wide, some are long, some are very very small…. How to keep them all safe?

I happened to have a yard of super hero fabric and my machines were all set up so instead of folding laundry last night I made this;


Not just a bag!  Imagine how big a fail it would be just put them all in a tote.  The tiny ones would be gone, the long ones would be bent, and one can’t let an opportunity to make tiny pockets pass by.


First of all, I made the side and half the bottom open for easy access.  Husband has big bear paws and if the chaos he leaves looking for a spatula in the drawer is any indication, he needs the ability to see all the pockets.  There are snaps up the side of the bag and velcro on the bottom (wraps up and around so there is a more secure bottom).  The pocket on the left is for the long thing things, across the bottom are all the large triangles and circles, and the wee little pocket on the top are for the little bits.  There is also room for the dice and pencil box and probably a book or 3.

Do you notice more snaps?  I decided that based on the variety of sizes,  small things would get lost in each pocket and to indulge more crafting energy; all the pockets open up for easy access


So other than an oddly unfortunate fabric placement that makes all the small spells seem to be stored in The Hulks armpit, and, it isn’t lined, I’m very happy with it and more importantly so is he.

This took less that a yard and if I was starting again I would integrate the velcro better by just making the back longer than the front so it could fold up neatly.  I thought of the velcro after when snaps were not really making it on the bottom once he asked to store more things.