Playdates for the win

I nearly forgot!

Last weekend we had a really good day fall together on Memorial day.  I don’t super celebrate because it isn’t so much a celebration day but it is a day off and people did fight and die so we could enjoy the freedom and I’m sure they would be mad if we just mourned all the time.

Anyway!  Niamh was invited to a playdate at her friends and when I talked to the mom she said she wanted ALL THREE of the girls to come over.  I confirmed thoroughly but in my head, it was like finding hundred dollar bills on the ground!  I baked a batch of cupcakes the night before and was looking forward to my free 3 hours.

However, that was not the only playdate…  We had an open invite from our friend who also just got a puppy to come over for a puppy playdate.  He also had totes to lone us and a garage to store some stuff so we arranged for Monday mid morning to go visit him and the pup.  His dog is a giant breed but they are the exact same age.  They got along really really well and we grilled in honor of the holiday and had a perfect little visit.  It is so fun to see puppies play, cats might be better in so many ways but dogs are much more social.

 

The day rounded out really well with packing getting done, major pieces of furniture moved out, kids happy and well played and the puppy too.  Happy Memorial day all, a week late.

packing hacks

I’m sure this is out there tons of places but I never saw it specifically called out so worth putting up here just in case any of you are moving.

  1. Blankets and Pictures; Blankets take a ton of space to pack alone, pictures need a ton of cushioning.  I wrapped all our big pictures in smaller (kid/sofa) blankets and put them all safely and efficiently in a box. (sorry I didn’t take a picture but it would look like a stack of angular blankets)
  2. ceramic and grocery bags;  As I was packing small semi-breakable items I wished I had newspaper to wrap them but then I remembered that I have one billion grocery bags.  Grocery bags are about as good as newspaper and cleaner and when I unpack I’ll have a billion garbage bags.  I feel clever and green
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grocery bags as cushion while packing.

Head still above water

Hello!  Guess what?  I have a 5 year old!  and she isn’t the oldest, she is my youngest.  Fiona, my change baby (not that change…) is again having a birthday in the middle of a giant life change.  She will get her birthday post and I’m also full of other post too, much like the pairing down of possessions one wants to move I have had to pare down what I can actually do in my life.  My normal workouts have been dropped to what I can do while they are at swim lessons and 2x other people have brought them so I could do more house stuff.  Blogging is on the casualty list too and unfortunately, so is watching TV or reading so busy with all the things!  Today I’m going to use my WHOLE computer hour on the blog so get ready for lots of words.

I am getting feeling flashbacks from other times in my life when many important things were going on at the same time.  I used to make lists of the major things and their due dates and I did actually get every paper turned in, was on time for every exam, and moved out in good order in college.  This is a whole new level of the game though because those things were black and white – move out meant take all your stuff and put it in the car and drive home to Long Island.  This time I can’t just clean sweep it all, I need to stage in my wake AND we are living her AND we don’t know where we are actually moving to OR when.

So to the people that I’m not there for like normal,  I am very sorry…  I hope this is all for the good and I can get back to being a good friend again.

On the positive side – I am not pregnant!  that was not actually a concern at all but this would be WAY worse if I was and when you are in birthday season you think about that 9th month and the tiny baby and resulting world shift and this is not that.  It is something different, but, it holds the same promise of a new beginning and the waiting and the uncertainty of ‘when’ and ‘what’ have a lot of similarities.  I also have kids that while not totally helpful are big enough to not need my constant care.  5 years ago I was starting the stay at home mom life and that was another giant shift in my life.  All 6 little eyes on me for all the things.  No break, not a lot of help, and the brain activity of trying to make all the things work in a new envelope of time without dropping too many important things too often.  Like I said, I am having feeling flashbacks because this is not the first time I’ve done something stressful of juggled things or worked with

Like I said, I am having feeling flashbacks because this is not the first time I’ve done something stressful of juggled things or worked with uncertainty and major decisions.  Thankfully they are all things I think I managed to get through pretty well and hopefully this one is no different.

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all the way across our monkey bars solo!

Sine this is my blog I’m going to pat myself on the back for my yesterday achievements.  5 years ago I produced a person from my body who knows the alphabet and can do the whole monkey bar solo but still eats boogers.  Yesterday I got up early to do my contract work, then greeted the birthday girl.  We made pancakes and whipped cream and sang and she was happy.  Dealt with some sister jelly attitude without losing it.  Got all kids and pup into the car and to carpool on time and to school perfectly.  Had coffee with a Vacation Mom who took Fiona out for her birthday (and my work day) and they went to the zoo and dairy queen while I finished contract work, got all the things on cabinets or walls or hooks in the entire kitchen level packed or put away or in the sell/donate pile.  I cleaned up days of ignored kitchen.

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In the afternoon I met the kids and kept working on the kitchen.  When the painter got here it was at least at 90% ready and coincidently Lars was done working so we did Fiona gifts outside under our favorite tree.  She loved everything from everyone, 5 is a happy age.  She was as happy with the pack of gum as the scooter.  They played and I went back to chipping away.  I paused to help all 3 girls get ready for jujitsu – you heard that right all THREE of them went to jujitsu with Lars.  The plan was for them to get birthday dinner out after as well as a trip to storage and be home for cake.  I moved on to the green room where I started packing and styling the giant built in book case while the kitchen was painted.  I threw in a batch of brownies that was done just as they came home and we sang happy birthday with my parents on the iPad on our back deck and then the girls enjoyed our long daylight with playing outside until nearly 9.  Not done yet!  I actually looked at Zoe’s folder and noticed she was on the 1st for snack in June and I actually remembered in the store on Tuesday night so I had things in the house to make the final cute class snack.  Niamh was the trooper on this, delaying her own bedtime to help me do them.  The day was finally over and the living room was enough together we could actually watch 1 tv show.

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In more full truth, because that really does have the ring of super mom, I’m like a duck with the frantic feet but the top level looks pretty good.  We did gifts on the lawn and ate on the deck because there is not one place to sit in the entire kitchen because the table and chairs are holding all the things either unsorted or normally on a wall that plan on going back.  I put in brownies 15min before they got back because I completely forgot until that second.  Seeing Zoe’s snack day was more happy accident than good parent that looks at all the papers in the folder.  Gifts were purchased 2 days in advance via amazon and 1 I knew would be late and 1 just didn’t show up yesterday…  the others were gotten in a walmart trip the night before that I made after seeing a house.  I’ve gone to lots of hardware and paint stores in the past 2 weeks but we are pretty low on groceries – good way to get the refrigerator and pantry clean!

I think that I’m doing ok but there are pinch points where I just wish it were easier.  I am making progress but the list is still very very long.  Vacation mom and Lars are both makigng it much better and I’m happy we have a painter friend who can help us because if I was doing this all alone I would be a giant mess and I’m glad his wife is ok with him being here so much. The goal is to have the house ready to have pictures on Tuesday and start showing when we are gone to NY.  I’m torn between wanting to be here to make sure the house is perfect and wanting to remove 3 kids and a puppy from the equation….  Any crossed fingers or good wishes are welcome as we keep doing the do.

Dear 7 year old Zoe

Dear Zoe

img_210310 days ago you turned 7 and I’m sorry it took me this long to write.  Right now we are in the middle of a move, a move you don’t exactly want to do but you are VERY clear that you want your own room.  This is pretty new since 6 months ago you didn’t want to be alone, maybe it is the change in roommate…

The other major development is that you wore me down on the dog subject.  Not that I want you to ask, beg, bargain, convince me of something you want basically daily for over 3 years, but, it did seem to work for you.  Our puppy is here because you willed it into being.  You are also doing a good img_2705job taking care of her but aren’t puppies a lot of work?  I’m reserving my ‘told you so’ until you read this as an adult and you can really see what I mean.  I do hope someday you get the golden and lab and 9 other types of dogs you want, I’ll visit you in your own house.

 

This year in school you absolutely rocked reading.  At the start, you were pretty ok, and now, you can read anything.  You go through phases of reading in bed and for a while it was frustrating when you didn’t now a word so I gave you a card to write the words you don’t know and I would tell you them the next day – I see your frustration when I saw your words, you were reading Dr Seuss book that was about professions you can be and besides the absolutely made up words they had professions like ornithologist to confuse new readers like you!  We have read the Critter Club 2-4, The Magic Tree house #whatever, a semi-annoying book about a sassy girl, and so so so many other easy readers but I’m looking forward to reading more real books with you.

 

School was also decent socially.  You have a great friend Lizzy that we carpool with, you are happy to be friends with Zoey T in your class and while there is still a friend musical chairs game going constantly in 1st grade you seem to be nice to everyone and generally well liked.  I know because I come visit, not enough for your taste but I will try to get there more next year I promise.  Most of the time you are fearless about social situations but I realized one day when Niamh had to miss a swim lesson that you get some of your braveness from being with your sister.  Being in the middle you usually have one sister or another and sometimes you gripe about them, but, you like having them there I can see it.  They are your friends and your playmates and the people you fight with and the people you hopefully will stay close to – we have a good start and I think I’m setting a decent example.

 

Physically these days there isn’t anything muchimg_2903 you can’t do if you know how.  You monkey bar, you ride your bike without training wheels for miles, you can swim pretty well and are learning the different strokes in swim lessons, and your handwriting is decent.  Jujitsu is getting easier for you and we don’t have to bribe you so much to go, finally getting good at something really does help you like it, I hope you are happy we didn’t let you quit.

Like every kid you have your challenges.  I’m so glad you are past the fight about going to bed stage, now it is only 1:50 nights that you fight about it.  You have a tendency to get down about things, like a tiny fatalist.  You still worry about death and all sorts of things going wrong.  You like to hear what we are doing tomorrow so you know what to expect in general, going in cold makes you crazy.  If you are not prepared there is a tone of panic for the entire event, conversely, if I tell you what to expect you are ready for anything.  I get the feeling that you will not believe in fiction for too long, although, you play along well and are good at finding evidence that Santa and fairies exist.  You are getting into a yelling phase and a little bit of a silently mean stage where you poke a sister until they yell.  Nothing I’m really worried about but when you get to pushing my buttons I’m not exactly happy.  You also tell the truth in a very insightful way, I kinda hate that you see my (and dads) shortcomings so clearly but I’m glad to have my own personal reality check in house and you don’t usually hold a grudge. You also have a way of pushing pushing pushing that I hope you grow out of….

There are millions of unique things about you but what stands out to me is how you (still) do so well at remembering preferences and what needs to be done and most of the time you are pretty good at doing them without a reminder.  I saw you clean up cat poop from our aging cat without being asked.  You are also very expressive in your writing, I think it is a way for you to process (and your teacher makes you write daily).  What you write about, and how you write constantly impress me because you pick such a perfect thing to say.  I published this before but I can’t help loving how well you captured your love for our cat and also the need to let him go.

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To Mr. Pink From Zoe. I wish you wouldn’t do this, but it has to happen. I know you have been sick. For the last two years we have been worried about you. Love Zoe

You did NOT want to be there, but, you wrote him letters for me to read to him.  You also leave me notes sometimes, it is super cute.

I think you were relieved to have it done with, so was I in lots of ways, he was so ready to go he was just waiting on us.  I dread any future decision with Prima but I think that will be many years away and we can ‘enjoy’ the puppy for a while.

You are a perfect middle, you flex up to hang with Niamh and you have fun being little and/or in charge with Fiona and her friends.  You are small overall, your feet are really really small.  You are in a 12.5 STILL, you wear out shoes before you grow out of them.  I moved you up to 7s since I was doing all the moving prep and you are still highly opinionated about what you will wear.  We need to go shopping (you tell me daily) and fill in the gaps to make this a Zoe wardrobe.  You are more into things, collecting, finding, buying, giving, trading.  There is a hot market in school that I can’t even describe but I just hope it is fair.  Fairness is your watchword – not unusual for the age but you do seem to take it personally.  Lucky for me you are semi-logical and I can usually get you to see why you can’t do everything that Fiona or Niamh or some friend does.

Every morning you want hugs, every night you want your songs and talk about tomorrow.  Our routine has changed over the year but there is always a routine to follow.  You are loved by so many people outside our family – Lizzy, Becki, Cecily, Andy, Josh, Karen, Liz, Ziz, Johan (who says you will take over the world someday) Kathy and so so many other friends, you make a big impression on people.

A little record keeping – in your 6th year you went to the Kalahari Resort and loved it, Pennsic and are counting the days to go again, Hawaii – and when I told you we were moving you suggested we move to Hawaii.  Lots of local travel, Ny and I think that’s it?  Still tons for a 6-year-old.IMG_6176

I can write about my kids for days, I do actually, more or less 90% of my posts for the past 9 years centered around kids somehow. The day needs to start and I need to tell you what is for lunch so you can ask me to make you lunch.  Hey, at least sometimes you eat school lunch, better than last year!  I think your choice is based on the dessert but the fact you can remember what the main course has what dessert because I never list them is impressive.  I think that is the theme of Zoe – you impress me, nothing is half way, all ZOE all the time and I love you in every possible way.

 

Updates in 10min or less

Usually, a double birthday party would be the headline of my week.  This time I nearly forgot about it!!!  Things are so crazy busy with school and move prep and parenting and not to mention puppy that I’m glad I gave myself the ‘break’ of scheduling the Zoe and Fiona birthday party at the local Y for last weekend.  That disserves its own post, and that will happen, just like Zoe needs her yearly letter but I woke up an hour early today to just get some time at my computer to follow up on things and I have 10 minutes before the ‘wake up for the day’ alarm so I’m jotting a few things down.

 

House selling – had the stager review the house last week and I am moving through each room more or less packing (or donating or tossing) 90% of the things.  She has some good advice on our specific house so I’m glad we had her!

House buying – we finally made some progress looking.  We dragged the kids and Konrad though 6 different builder homes over the weekend and yesterday saw two existing houses.  The looming choice seems to be more about what life we are going to lead in the future not just what our address will be.  The 1950’s house is darling, quirky, needs work and also has a gigantic and mature garden.  The other one just made me feel better about our house since they are really really not listening to their stages advice, or, they said F-it, I’m not replacing carpet or painting because the next people will want to change it anyway.  They had a fabulous yard too – giant and backing on state park.  Either of these houses would take the next 5 years to make what we want.  The builder house on the other hand is attractive in that we can pick a few things that matter and it would be move in perfect but the yard is just so undeveloped…  There is no perfect house.

Puppy – she is getting better at potty training.  I seriously thought I was DONE with potty training.  She is also starting to show her personality more and is adorable 90% of the time.  We are ‘those people’ who bring our dog everywhere but at least one person thought she was a stuffed animal when Zoe was holding her.  I brought her to the vet and she is healthy and gaining weight like she should and all around a good dog (if you like dogs)

Reading and workouts – both are getting the short end in my time allotments.  On the other hand, swim lessons are forcing me to get to the gym at least 2x a week so that isn’t nothing.  I’m also lifting lots of boxes and walking up and down the stairs a lot so that counts too.

The ‘wake up’ alarm is ringing, time to start another day!  Seeing another house, talking seriously to a builder, swim lessons (and workout!) plus packing and attempting to get the dog to pee outside only.

Can I clone myself?

That Friday was a doozy.  Not only was it the day we let Mr Pink go, it was also the day Niamh wanted her ‘special day’ meaning she didn’t go to school and we just did stuff the two of us alone.  I asked her if she really wanted it the day we had to go to the vet and she told me she would rather have the balance of good and bad then just the bad.  To her credit, she was upset but once we moved on she was ok and it was a good idea to have fun things to look forward to.  We got our traditional pedicure, did a bit of shopping, and just had some time together.

Friday part II was not mellow at all, we had to pack up for an event and hit the road by 5.  Good thing we have event packing down to a science more or less but now with the new wrinkle was getting Prima to her weekend puppy sitter.  Good thing that dog is social, she was very happy to hang out with friends and we are all happy that she does not cry all night now.  We got to the hotel and kids went to sleep with no issues, I took a moment to reflect that hotels used to be the worst, and then I went to sleep too.

The event we went to is a high stakes one, in the SCA this is the tournament that the winner will be the next King and Queen and while that is really fun, it is also a giant job and I had volunteered to be head of staff for 2 different couples – both of whom had great chances to win.  Just like any competition, there are jitters and energy bouncing around and this was no different.  In the end, neither of my horses won the race, the winner was an absolute dark horse but a great guy and I’m happy for him.  Once it was over we all could start looking at the next few months with certainty because there was no more ‘if crown’ questions.  The other cool thing is that a friend volunteered to take the kids to the hotel to go swim so I had a little time where I was not the parent.  I love my kids but everyone needs a break!  Best part, we could pay the sitter in beer and she is 100lb so that is a single beer 😉

Saturday night was spent hanging out with all the people.  It went a bit late… that’s the way things go.  Mothers day was a bit of a loss because of the event and the Lars stayed up too late thing.  The girls tried hard but there is no relaxing day for mom when we need to do the uninstall process from the hotel and a 5h drive home.  We side tripped to check out a camping site and it was a good decision with a great result but again, not very fun for mothers daying.  Finally, home and I wanted to crash but remember that ‘now we can plan’ thing?  Yup, no way I could nap when there were so many details I needed to get working on.  I also had to go procure the right birthday items for Zoe, bright spot – stores are pretty empty at 7pm on Mothers Day.

Monday was a tipping point in my sanity because I needed to be 3 places at the exact same time;

#1 Zoe’s birthday and she wanted me to have lunch with her and I wanted her to have a great day including pancakes for breakfast and her pick for dinner and a generally festive day.

#2 School Track and Field day from 9:30am – 11:45 for Niamh and 1:15-3:10 for Zoe.  Conflict – Zoe’s lunch period is at 11:20

#3 The stager from the home selling team was scheduled to come at 4.  The house was not exactly awesome when we left on Friday and only got worse Sunday for dumping everything.  I also had a mountain of laundry so I really count on Monday’s for getting my world on track.  No Monday at home = issues all week

It actually worked ok because there was a massive rain storm that canceled the second half so I got to lunch with Zoe and get home to bake for her and clean enough and Lars did some laundry but it was an 11 for stress for the day.

Tuesday I couldn’t get much done because swim lessons and then the skies cleared and they put field day back on for the afternoon so we had another day at school.  Today we went to school AGAIN for the afternoon for Fiona’s end of year party.  Talk about a busy week and I’m not even touching the fact that I have a list taller than I am of things to do for the house to show well.  And no, we still don’t’ have any idea where we are moving to, the real estate person didn’t get back to us for a few days there so we are a week behind looking… I think we might look on Monday?  Don’t actually know for sure.  We also might just end up building anyway but I have to do the due diligence of what is available.

Tonight I have to keep going on the list.  I am going to focus on getting the kid wardrobes updated from sizes and seasons and packing up all the not needed things so the closets can look perfect.  It needs to be done regardless and tonight is the night.  I really want to be on the other side of this all, it is not fun to live in the land of indecision and uncertainty yet with a giant list of things to do on top of all the normal things because there really isn’t anything that I can cut out to create more time.  So, if anyone knows how to clone, I’m interested~