Tag Archive | family

Christmas review

This was the first Christmas in the new house

This was probably also the first Christmas that all the kids were into it.

Sure, they had moments, short tempers, fights over the dumbest things (so dumb I don’t have a funny example because my brain can’t even fathom how they managed to fight over it) however each said without fail that this was the best Christmas ever.

I missed being in NY, the kids missed their cousins and grandparents and quality time was spent on facetime.  On the other hand, I feel refreshed after 5 days of break instead of trying to fit everything in and burning sleep to do it.  Not that I’m napping the break away, it is just removing all responsibilities beyond feeding the kids is mentally nice.

There is also a new secret weapon to sanity; I can leave the kids home for an hour or two and it is OK.  Not just legally ok (and it is) like, actually ok – they don’t seem to kill each other while I’m gone and I’ve come home to happy kids doing their own thing or watching a show every time.  It is incredibly freeing to run to the grocery or hardware solo, or, with Lars and NO KIDS.  They BEG to stay home,  I didn’t know I had been torturing them so all these years but I did read a good article once about viewing shopping from a kid’s POV. Where you have no control or choice about where you are going, have to stick with someone else the whole time, can’t ask for anything, can’t even touch stuff that catches your eye.  The article said imagine doing that with an adult friend – you would never – since then I’ve been treating shopping more kindly and looking at things that they think are cool and treating their opinions as I would a friend and it does help, but hey, it isn’t as good as undiluted Minecraft/kindle/TV/game that spreads toys all over with no one to tell you to pause and come pick up your socks or load the dishwasher etc.  Anyway, sorry for that tangent, but it is relevant to my current good mood because I had the BEST Christmas eve and a really good Christmas day and day after even.

img_9081

sugar cookie production

‘New house’ is an excuse I’ve used long enough that I’m sick of it.  Yes, the house has eaten a ton of money and energy but when we made the decision to stay I also felt like I could reallocate some energy to getting back to normal and not so frantic.   We actually made 3 types of cookies and creme brulee for Christmas.  We used frosting and cookie cutters and we just stopped when they were ‘done’ even though that means there are 3 dozen unfrosted cookies in the freezer.  I wrapped a mountain of gifts, nearly all in fabric so the clean up was relatively easy and I didn’t feel like I was filling a landfill.  We threw out one single kitchen size trash bag and that was mostly packaging, not wrapping paper.  I’ve posted about it before but it really is so easy to pack soft things or oddly shaped things, it all fits in a bag and bags don’t rip on crazy open areas to ‘show off’ the toy.  They also make a very pretty collection if you make 6 or so a year, after 5 years you have a variety.

img_9088

easy wrapping!  You see here 2 sets of ear muffs, a hat, a LOL ‘pod’ and 3 odd shaped toys.  Tags are from previous years Christmas cards and I usually manage to keep them year to year.

We got teacher gifts and even neighbor gifts done. Having Christmas on a Tuesday actually made things easier because that last weekend saw lots of Christmas prep time.  For teachers, I broke the candy rule and made them all emergency sweet boxes.  I know all the teachers well this year and I’m pretty confident they all like candy.  If they don’t, still a useful bits box once they give away the 20 odd pieces in there.  Neighbor gifts were from Pinterest and I hit a great sale early in the season at Michaels where nice wrapping paper was only $1.50 a roll and a 3 pack of tape was $3 ish and then there was a coupon….  It didn’t get together until 2 days before Christmas but the point was that it was emergency last second wrapping supply.  I also sent each of them an invite to a new years day party so even if I don’t do it again, I had a good reason to this year.

img_9080

neighbor gifts

Christmas Eve we had no plans – being in a place you never usually are cuts down on traditional invitations – but we kept busy somehow.  I used my freedom to go pick up groceries using the pickup service and it was great to avoid that store on Christmas eve AND gave me time to pop into the thrift store.  I intended to go to buy butter knives for Lars who has taken up thrown weapons and saw a youtube about using butter knives and to keep his grubby hands of the silver I got him a dozen of his own.  While I was there (solo) I browsed the Christmas clearance and scored a house for my collection, a nutcracker for Zoe who is oddly into them and it was the best dollar I spent all year for her joy, and my best purchase was specialty Christmas dessert plates.  I have room to store them finally and I really love them and they were under .50 each.

img_9093

my new plates from ‘santa’ and Niamh’s cinnamon roll trees.

Santa was left a tray and kids practically put themselves to bed.  This being the first year in the house the furniture got re-arranged to suit gift opening and this room is more and more my favorite.  I wish the chair could stay full time but it is also needed in the living room.  The final crazy thing we did is total potty humor but that is still very funny over here.  The Tamtes all pooped mints for Christmas morning!  We put a handful of mints under each one and it was worth it because they noticed right away and are delighted by it.  I had intended to do it earlier in the season but this worked too.

img_9089

selection of baked goods and drinks by the tree.

Christmas Day started early (2am Fiona!) but they did let us go back to sleep until 7:30 and Niamh made cinnamon rolls and Fiona made coffee and Zoe made joyful noise and they actually spent their time organizing the gifts into people piles and that was helpful for opening, plus, it gave them time to wonder over the gifts and that is the best part sometimes.  We had nearly no lull because Vacation Mom came for brunch and then the rolling family calls and then we hosted dinner for a set of friends and we finished the night with a new game that was a bigger success then I had anticipated.

img_9095

loving her biggest gift, wearing the new hat and new shirt.  Zoe is the most expressive of the 3

Boxing day was totally lazy.  PJ’s worn well into the afternoon.  Kids cheerfully doing kits and playing with toys.  I sequestered myself in my room to finally get my closet organized.  It still had lots of boxes, lots…. I didn’t finish but I did get the shelving up I needed and I’m at 70%.  I’ll have a picture when I’m done but there is no before picture, however, you can just imagine a small room full of boxes and 30 graphic t-shirts hung up.  (ps. Lars didn’t notice there were boxes in the closet?!?).  Maybe unearthing so many of my things beget my good mood but I definitely have one.  I said goodbye to 2 bags for donations and 1 bag of garbage but I’m ok with letting it go.

Here we are today, on a bonus December day.  A day off that has no obligation to society, church, family, or even airlines.  Our plan is to go to the zoo but it is somewhat weather dependent.  Tomorrow or the next day we need to start pulling out of vacation and getting ready for our open house party on New Year’s day but that isn’t today.  I have house projects cooking too but none are quite done enough for pictures.

I hope your holiday week has been as good, good enough to outweigh the not so pretty times in the week.  Believe me, there have been lows in my week too but as always I am focusing on the positive here and it doing so it sets the positive points in my brain.  It is my worst fear that someone reads my blog and feels bad about themselves in comparison – I’m cherry picking – I could post a giant list of shortcomings, fears, messes, and disagreements but I don’t want to, and would that be interesting or helpful? In the interest of full disclosure and your feelings trust me they were/are there!

Can’t end with that, just not my style so;  Merry Christmas and enjoy the last few days of 2018.

 

 

Happy Anniversary to us

I always love that blogging daily in November means a good opportunity to publically remember my wedding day.

Today I’m a tad distracted with the election but I’m glad we get this weekend to celebrate.

It does not feel like 14 years but we have done a lot in that time;

3 kids

a house built

a house sold

a variety of pets

2 reigns

a million miles traveled

and all the little things that truly make up our life like the fact you make me coffee, you learned how to cook for us, you research fun topics and you find me dumb jokes (that I love) all the time.  You help me have fun, you support my crazy plans, you are my biggest advocate in most things.  I love that you do the dishes even though you hate them because I hate them more.

I hope we never stop learning and growing and loving each other.

 

Happy Anniversary honey

close up of heart shape

Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

Vacation P2 nearly done

The post-Lars part of our time in NY is nearly over but we have made the most of it.  My family and friends in NY have been great and I’ve enjoyed seeing who we can see.  The kids have not been to bed near bedtime in days and there has been tons of visiting and driving.  We haven’t done anything ‘grand’ and vacation like other than the trip to the cloisters, however, I love our playground time with friends and backyard bbq and just being around people.

img_6988

Last weekend we did adventure out to NJ to a family birthday for my great aunt’s 90’th birthday and informal family reunion.  I’m reminded I actually do have relatives in MN and also MI and it is on me that I have not seen more of them.  Well, can only go forward and do better when we get back.  The funny part of the party was seeing how tall I am compared to my ethnically Maltese family, as island people they just top out at 5ft tall, so I tower above them.

img_6968

Sunday, fathers day, we face timed with Lars and went sailing with dad and in between hung out and brunched with high school friends who have all become great parents in their own rights.  Monday we had to wait for kids to actually wake up and then we went to my sister Josie’s house where we generally hung out and started to build the most annoying shed ever.  I told Lars about it that night and he reminded me of when a friend got so frustrated at a shed he was building that he destroyed it in a fit of rage Hulk style and now I understand why.  It was still fun to just have a day with my sister doing normal stuff.  Our Monday evening plans were 20 min away at Miss Math’s house  where we ate dinner and kids played and we talked and her husband hid to avoid the girl talk.  Another late night but worth it!

img_6984

Yesterday I tried to find hardware for the house but the place we went was more disorganized showroom than a place to find a deal but Miss Math joined me so it was worth the trip.  Then to make sure there was fun in the day, we went to find the ice cream truck.  Note I say “go find” because in NY they roam the streets and if you EVER come out of your house you get a permanent star on his route map and that truck will come back 5x a day all summer.  Unless you want a daily discussion about ice cream and its relation to dinner/lunch/cash/diet never let the truck know where you live.  The park was lovely and there was shade and a breeze and #3 godfather made an appearance and the kids got icecream sticky and we were just walking home when we met up with Aunt Josie (I had her kids) and home we went to meet more friends for games and eat dinner.

img_6996

Today was a grand day where things just fell into place.  Our original plans fell through so we were gifted use of a state park pass and a 75 degree and sunny day to use it.  Niamh was the late sleeper today so we were just about ready to go when my dad had a break in his day so we kidnapped him to go walk a couple miles on the beach.  We did the boardwalk and then up the lighthouse and back along the beach splashing in the Atlantic.  It was just the perfect size outing for the beach and we got home just in time to get Chase from school and for Miss Math to pop in for a quick visit.  We went over to my aunts for a general garden tour and play time and ended up doing dinner and seeing my cousin who usually works far later.  Josie met up with us (I had her kids again) and back to grandma’s for our first quiet evening in ages.  I plan on going out to see another friend tonight and starting the packing process because after tomorrow we hit the road again for vacation part 3; the road trip home.

Tomorrow should be a good one, our plans include seeing friends one more time, dinner on the big boat, and a cousin sleepover so get every last moment together.  Somewhere in that time I need to find all our stuff and get it back in a car shaped package and point my brain back at the things that need doing to get us home again.

3 quotes; Day 2

2 in a row! Go me!  See my post yesterday for the full intro, here is the mini version and my second entry of three.

Rules; Thank the person who challenged you, post a quote, tag 3 others, for 3 days in a row.

Thank you, Fancy Paper – and a double thanks for introducing a new active blog group that isn’t full of people just doing ‘selling stuff’ posts.  A few of those, no big deal, however 100% polish corporate blog is not all that fun to read.

Quote;

Love is patient, love is kind

pexels-photo-326612.jpeg

I’m not super religious but this quote from 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (RC Bible) and virtually every wedding I’ve been to is less about a religion and more about the nature of love.  Like how kleenex is technically a brand but we all use it in reference to disposable nose blowing receptacles.  Love is a big concept, it covers everything from a treat to the person you spend your life with to the children you produce to the best pair of boots ever.  We use the word liberally in my world.

However… Love is also hard and involves choices.  Things happen with kids and spouses and houses and projects when you need to take a breath and remember that love is patient, and, love is kind.

 

Tagging 3 people who I hope join in;

Talking to myself – this is a person I know in real life and hopefully, this tag inspires him to write a word or 5.

Knotty Heart – another real-life friend who is blogging their brewing adventures, and, their cats.

Shanna Hatfield – an author I started following because she is just fun to read, and, someday I wish I could write something that would be published.

 

This is a nice departure from house house house house…. Thanks again Fancy 🙂

My Easter Weekend of Transformation

This year Easter is early, and, right in the last 3 miles of the marathon of getting this house ready.  The goal is Wednesday.  Truly the goal is Tuesday night so Wednesday all I need to do is a tidy after they depart for school and then hold my breath until it is sold.

I’m sure you all have experienced the chaos that is the third quarter of a project, everything is torn up and you have been working and working and still, it looks 10x worse than when you started?  That was our Friday and Saturday.  Sunday, we started to actually pull it back together and our house is getting truly ‘done’.

Friends convinced me I did not need to change every doorknob, at least not yet…

I convinced Lars we HAD to either repaint the master or color match it so I could touch up three spots that look like the size of Africa to me but in reality are the comparative size of Fiji.  He dutifully went to home depot 2x to get paint and now I’m painting my house with a tiny paintbrush.  The Lars list is very long, he has done so much I just don’t put it all here.  There was a time on Friday that I couldn’t help thinking how well we actually work together on big stressful projects as our storage trip was suddenly our mini date.

We finally finished the painting in the 2 rooms we were repainting and then I facetimed with my family while scrubbing the trim and floors to get all the tiny paint spots clean.  Good thing Magic Erasers were on sale last week, I’ve disintegrated 4 already between walls and floors.

 

img_5676

this end done, nobody go over there.

img_5677

not the right chairs, that chest will move back so side table position soon, and, the picture needs to get new art and hung up.

img_5680

kid desk still has tools but hey, they are at least in one spot.

img_5679

my real computer was put away to eliminate ‘clutter’

 

In the breaks between cleaning, we did a little thing called Easter.  It was very mellow for us this year and I’m pretty glad it actually fell on April Fools.  In the end I handled lack of traditional baskets (in storage) with 3 decorative boxes and then I hid them in the closet and made them a giant basket of socks.  Zoe was first up and exploring and found the fake basket and remarked: “at least there is some candy” and then the clever girl found a bag of trash.  The living room was early on the hit list so it is pretty clean and decluttered overall and I forgot to dispose of the evidence of basket treats and Zoe found it.  Don’t worry, she still believes, maybe even more now because she considered it a mix of a trick and a clue that there were REAL easter baskets somewhere.  I’m pretty proud of the way this shook out and I got to hear the sounds of joy when they found them.

This year, due to snow, we hid eggs in the house.  Growing up we nearly always had indoor egg hunts but this is the first year weather was bad so it was a new twist for our kids.  I think we had about 150 eggs and 3 kids so for a solid 20min they were searching.  Easy ones were passed 100 times, hard ones found instantly, in the end, we might be short 2 real eggs but I bet I’ll find them since my plan is to super clean.  I did find 4 missed plastic eggs that afternoon cleaning the bookshelf, they were pretty well hidden.

img_5667

Easter food focused on just the 5 of us.  We had a breakfast guest who also witnessed the egg hunt and then helped with the house and then went home again.  Pancakes for breakfast, Lox and bagels for lunch, and Rack of Lamb with homemade french fries and asparagus for dinner.  Niamh made a pie, two actually, but that is another story.  I’m just glad she is interested in cooking.

Some things I planned did happen, others didn’t, but I think the weekend went pretty well.  The kids entertained themselves mostly and helped a bit.  They are old enough to all shower solo and understand that “mommy is a bit stressed right now”.   By the end I felt like I had spent hours at the gym when all I did was move furniture, scrub floors/walls/trim, wash windows and pick up and move a million little things to either the trash, its home, or a box for storage.

Today the plan is to stop doing new projects and continue pulling it all together again.  We have a contractor coming to power wash and do a few minor outside things.  I have a meeting on the new house to pick plumbing.  Lars is back to work and the kids are back to school.  I feel bad about not doing my normal holiday reach out to friends but I’m sure everyone will understand.  By next week I’ll be in maintenance mode only and while that won’t be nothing it sure won’t be the job it is to get to the ‘show ready’ we nearly are.

Back from the get-away

We are back 🙂

The kids are fine, the adult in charge of the kids is fine, the house is even fine.  I call this a success.  We filled in the balance of the afternoon with snuggles.

img_4579

My only complaints about the weekend are because we are entirely spoiled.  The restaurant we choose had a fairly small menu and Lars had a good dish but mine was super bland and not what was on the menu.  The breakfast was similar – I cook breakfast foods well enough to know that these were not fresh, they were ok but nothing to rave about.  So because we cook too well we are too fussy about the food out in the world.  The house was a cool old Victorian with tons of original woodwork and furnishings.  It was authentic enough I didn’t want to plug anything extra in and made note of the fire exits just in case. We met another very nice couple and learned a bit of the history of the house.  Technically nothing I didn’t guess but the owners were not there and they actually know more details.

We had an odd amount of time this morning so we ended up stopping for Thor Ragnarock and I very much enjoyed it.  The theater was a ‘bistro’ so you could order lunch or snacks and there were seats with tables like a first-class airline so it was a very good experience.  The movie itself was well done, you can’t help but be inspired by hero movies – heroes are the ones running toward the danger, that is what they do.

Overall a very nice getaway.  It is a little town about an hour away and we choose it nearly at random because we just wanted something interesting and unknown to us and that it was.  We discovered that they have some really awesome playgrounds and also a great 20mile bike trail so we will probably be back in the spring so the guys training for their 150-mile ride can do a practice round.  We also didn’t get to tour what the town was originally famous for – the pottery – but we did go to the shoe museum and saw two very familiar pairs of boots; one my grandfather wore in WWII as a paratrooper and the other my parents wore as 70’s era mountain climbers.

I hope it won’t be years before we do something like this again but it was a special way to celebrate our 13th anniversary.