Blog every day in November is going to be extra challenging this year since I’ve fallen down to once a week recently… I occasionally reflect on the fashion of webpages/blog/online journals that have come and gone and feel like they are maybe coming back again. Oh well, I’ll keep doing what I’m doing here in my corner.
Today you join me on the day I celebrate the lives of the people who have left this earthly coil. A little All Saints day, a little Dia de Muerta, a little bit all my own. The point is to remember the people and teach our kids about those they never met or those that died when they were young. Sure, as a memory comes up in the year I share it with the kids but this is the day we make it a point to go through the book.
Speaking of the book. I was worried I would not find it in time… Last week was the push to get the book shelving up and over the past few days, I worked on clearing all the ‘house stuff’ boxes that were hanging out in the room. Today I went and got the top 5 boxes in the ‘book’ pile in the garage and it is luck or fate but the 3rd box opened had my album for today. I added my grandmother, the first addition in years, and now I’m thinking about what to get to celebrate her.
I usually try and bring in a special food for the person to share with the kids. My Grandmother though was on a perpetual diet most of my life with her, with a memorable highlight of a liquid shake diet that looked (and smelled) like chocolate cement. She uniquely liked to eat maza bread but I know that isn’t exactly something she enjoyed for the taste, and, isn’t really available in our area. When I lived with her in Malta she cooked a bunch of things that blur together in my memory except for when they were super spicy. My grandmother was absolutely not a baker (to me at least)… When I give it real thought most of what I remember is that she enjoyed what was put in front of her and my grandfather making her toast and tea so to honor them both I think that toast and tea might be what we do today.
I’m excited about the challenge this month, good timing since it will be a crazy and fun month to document. The election next Tuesday, a giant group of house guests coming mid-month and our first official party at the house. Most of my family will visit for Thanksgiving so it will be plenty of running around, family events, and getting the house ready.
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.
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.
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.
Today we GO!
(lets not talk about when we get there…)
I have spent the past few days chipping away at the pile of things that need to be done as well as getting in a few things that would be harder to do later. My NOT procrastination totally paid off because Lars and I were in HomeDepot, the 6th shop for the day, on a fact-finding mission about suites of appliances and we happened to see a fridge-sized box with a price tag of $160. I dismissed it, figuring it was some odd special thing or something that needed to be part of a larger, much more expensive, system. The sales lady just mentioned to us “hey, you guys need a fridge?” and we are like “um… yes?” Apparently, the warehouse missed this one and now it had to GO because they couldn’t inventory it anymore (or some such inventory reason) so we got a fridge originally priced $860 for $160. We have been working with our tiny fridge in the garage for extra milk but this will be way better. I see it as our reward for #1 checking out appliance prices for the house months in advance and #2 already have a clean car ready for travel that all we had to do was move car seats. #3 I just happened to have organized my ‘car bin’ of useful things including tie-down straps AND put it back in the car that day so we were able to fit the fridge in, and, tie the back gate down since it was just a little longer than our cargo area.
Don’t you just love a deal?!?
At this point, I have lists about my lists but we are near the end of them all. All trip stuff and clothing is assembled and job #1 today is to pack. People talk about ‘packing’ like putting things into a bag is hard, that is the easy bit – finding all the things you want for 5 people and a dog is the hard part. There is one load of laundry to do, final dishwasher load to run for today’s things. I need to make up the guest room for the house sitter but since we have guests often that is an easy thing. Books reserved at the library for pickup, food ready for prep for the trip. Lots to do but I’m in the last bit and positioned well. Thank you yesterday self for NOT falling into the new book you just downloaded and have waited for a year, You can read that tomorrow as a reward.
Teacher and friend gifts are ready for delivery, already delivered, or ready for when we get back.
I think I’ve completed all the things I NEED for Christmas and I packed supplies for cooking and final projects at my parents. Driving may mean 2x travel time but it also means I can bring more ‘stuff’. The kids are so used to a second Christmas when we return that they asked about it so we made the decision that all the things that the kids picked for each other and us can stay for mini Christmas.
I’m writing this at 7:30 in the morning and our go time is 3:30 so I have time to do what I need to do as well as go to my birthday massage appointment. I’m getting in the spirit here, things are looking good. This is the first year in YEARS my sisters will both be at my parents so I’m excited to see everyone. I hope to avoid the panic of leaving last minute and so far so good. Time to get breakfast, school lunch, kids to school. T-7h to takeoff.
Every year I’ve tried to do a little something handmade for Christmas. The kids have caught the bug and love to make things for people. Sometimes the results are questionable … but I’ve found that I can really impact the quality of the product by providing good materials. In fact, if you just give them good supplies and no guidance you sometimes get some really creative things.
The theory is – if they can string pasta on yarn, they can string pretty beads on a nice chord. Understandably this is a choking hazard for little little kids but if you can trust them to not eat the goods, you can give them good things to work with.
I started with Oriental Trading Company online looking for some cool bits and pieces for them to create into gifts for teachers and friends. Oriental Trading is my go-to, not just because they sponsored this post but because the prices are fantastic for the quality AND it isn’t the ‘same old stuff’ you find in the craft area of WalMart or Joanns. By virtue of being online, they can have a million things for Christmas or charms for any hobby where a store has to limit what is on the shelves. Niamh actually helped some this year and selected a cute bunch of snowflake charms, a winter mix of charms, and a solid style bracelet. I supplemented with a specialized ‘teacher pack’ and per Zoe request something ‘with a dog and best friend’.
It all arrived and the kids could not contain themselves. I had to hold them back from instant creation because we were about to eat Thanksgiving dinner and that is NOT the time to bust out the beads. When things mellowed out the got to the organizing side of things, sorting out all the different things into our ‘upcycled’ craft organizer – egg crates.
The rest I left up to them. Niamh went classic with an arrangement of charms on a bracelet, she even made a custom on for her snow hating teacher.
Fiona went a totally different way and used almost all large beads and then put the whole thing on a necklace and it looks pretty cool like a big pendant.
Niamh actually did way more on the bracelet, adding spacer beads etc but just in case her teacher is reading I’ll keep some details a surprise for Christmas!
I love that they feel confident that people will love what they create, I love helping build that confidence by giving them the tools to actually make quality things. And by ‘make’ I mean like how I ‘make’ a cake from a nice packaged box and some eggs and water – There is no way I can make as good from scratch in as little time with as consistent results.
No people, no explanation – of my world
The day I’m confused about my culture more than normal because I’m not ‘allowed’ to do or like things NOT in my culture of birth but everyone can be Irish if they feel like it. I also don’t especially know if I’m all that Irish. However, based on my research from my Irish cousins and FancyPaperBlog there is very little difference beyond some vocabulary from my life here and their lives there. (except for the president… I can’t guess the current president of Ireland and I can only name one; Mary Robenson, and our presidents seem to get more international notoriety) So I am Irish and so are you, unless you super identify with some other culture.
American Irish, mixed with Pinterest and hallmark, creates a bit of a crazy little holiday focused on green and rainbows. School lunch today was desirable so no cute lunches to pack but I did break out the special ‘rainbow’ cereal for snacks. They left an entire beer * and some soda bread for our resident leprechaun, Mr McCabbage, who ate and drank it all, leaving a spill of gold wrapped chocolate for them to find. The tricky guy also dyed the milk green and also poured some on the floor **
Tonight we are having soda bread and soup, good for lent and all that. When the kids asked why we didn’t celebrate more since this was ‘our’ holiday I gave them my dad’s answer that this is day to go to church in Ireland…
Still like celebrating things that have no more sress then what you personally choose. I celebrated by doing my part of the tax prep and taking a short nap all while looking like an Irish Ari flight attendant.
*Lars thought someone loved him since that ‘door’ is right above his office so he drank it
**Lars also accidently spilled a dish of cereal and Niamh saw him cleaning it up and deduced that the tricky leprechaun had made a mess.
Edit – I googled the president of Ireland and he is also on twitter. To support my Irish side, I’m following him now. You also get to be president of Ireland for 7 years, thats a long time…