Tag Archive | kids

spring is happening

I think I’m solar powered.  Something about actual sunlight and I want to do more.  It is also bright out now until nearly 7pm and gaining every day, at our peak, we are light(ish) until nearly 10 and longer days just feel like, well, longer days.  The unfortunate thing is I forget to cook dinner until its ‘getting dark’, it is genetic, my mom did the same and I’m still alive so I am sure they will survive.  Anyway, we have been doing a lot and I’m planning more so here is a summary so far.

Niamh’s friend party was a HUGE success.  I say huge because 5 more people than expected came and it was pretty crazy here.  They all had fun and they ran and screamed and semi-participated in organized activities.  I’m glad I vetoed the pinata because getting them all together to do anything was not easy.  We did all sing together for cake, they did all eat together (more or less).  I was stressed for a minute that I didn’t have seating for 16+ anywhere but they actually adapted really well.  They just pulled stools around and nooked inbetween and one kid stood and one kid sat in a baby chair and somehow they didn’t notice that I didn’t have ‘proper’ seating for all.  The other odd win was a game I nearly cut; ‘let’s make a llama’.  I got a 25 pack of little playdoh and printed out a paper with a bunch of llama pictures and everyone got to make a little sculpture and put it in a cupcake wrapper with their name on the bottom and Niamh picked her favorite for a prize.  Given age (11) I was surprised how many of them really really enjoyed a playdoh project.  This was modeled after a baby shower game ‘make a baby’ but you can put anything as the sculpture goal and they will have fun.

The added bonus of a party is the house gets really clean so Sunday we didn’t have much to do but recover.  By later afternoon we were ready for something and Niamh has been bugging me to run with her.  I like running solo, technically for a while there I ran to be not with them, but then again, having a thing that is good for us, free, and something we can do ‘forever’ is a good thing so group runs have been on my list for a while.  Sunday it came true in such a lovely way.  Niamh and Zoe and I ran and Fiona biked and we actually kept a good pace and got to the park nearby and then they played and we ran back again.  For a total of 2 miles and about an hour (including playtime) it was a perfect thing for our first good spring day.  I have high hopes of doing this again sometime soon.

Over the winter each time we had to shovel snow off our hot tub, we started thinking of outdoor patio cover solutions.  We have gone through a few options and have a budget in mind and today we meet with a contractor to talk about what will work here.  This may be a multi-year process or we might get it done sooner.  Contractors are busy too so we might have to decide if we want to wait or DIY.  It is up in the air but the project that is happening now.

Another discovery about our land is that water settles in far too wide an area, we need a smaller deeper spot for it to go.  We have talked with the builder and as soon as the ground is ‘right’ we are digging a pond/drainage so I’m researching rain garden v pond.  Both have pros and cons really but we need to do something because right now our front yard is a large shallow lake far too often.

Next up is a garden.  This is more construction and work for who knows what return but #1 really really wants one and based on the number of deer hoof prints we see if tomatoes and beans are to have any chance at all we need to build a fence.  I’m researching fenced gardens and you can go all out with them, or, just string up chicken wire…  we will have to see what we have time and energy for.

Easter is sneaking up on us too.  Today I squared away egg hunt plans and baskets are under control but the rest of the weekend is still unplanned.  Not having family or really a good church community makes religious holidays difficult.  Anything will be better than last year where we cleaned and painted in house selling prep so there is nowhere to go but up.

That is all for now, time to get out there and do the running around town.  Need to pick up a tuned up bike and sign for taxes and grocery shop etc etc etc.  Winter hibernation is officially over.

April Already

Last week was a break for the kids from school and I have an entire long post about what we did that I wrote last Thursday.  Why didn’t I publish?  Well, the ol ‘one thing leads to another’ is the core of the reason.  I usually don’t even edit a post (can you tell?) I just write, fix all the computer underlined red line words, pop in a picture or two from my phone and push publish.  This time I had A LOT of pictures so I wanted to actually do an album link for anyone interested in the cool things we saw in Texas.  I thought ‘hey, 15 uploads and I’ll be ready to album and link’.  NOPE.  I somehow turned off my auto upload and had over 600 pictures that upload in random order to Amazon.  Why random?  I just don’t know.  However, the picture you want most is the one that loads last and I’ve learned not to touch it in process or you will just cause more issue.

Given all 3 were home time at the computer without ‘help’ is not all that common.  I set up the uploads and walked away figuring Friday would be fine to post. It was also toward the end of break so everyone was sooooo borrrred and no matter how many times I suggested room cleaning as an entertainment they wanted other things.  They usually managed to find something to do that was not tablet or TV but at one point I threatened to use my power* on school board to cancel future breaks** because they can’t handle so many days at home.  However, at some point, #2 decided to try and guess the code to #1’s iPhone (my old one) and locked it down.  They could not fix it and had to admit to me their mutual problem.  #1 shares blame for actually encouraging #2 to guess.

The trauma of a broken phone for a tween is epic and so I saw my computer time earmarked for making an album for that last Thursday post turn into researching how to resurrect a very locked out older phone.  When I say combing kids hair for lice is slightly less tedious then unlocking an iPhone you may get the picture of my frustration at this situation.  Not really anyones fault, but, something I got to deal with.  Internet says it is easy, put it in safe mode, connect, select ‘restore’ and then the phone will be purged and reinstalled.  For me that additionally meant downloading iTunes, then going through my computer to purge trash etc to FIT all the stuff the phone needed to download to restore (2g worth).  These two steps are both after calls to apple support because there is a trick to getting the newest version of iTunes, and, then a criptic error that appears to be iTunes but was actually from my computer wasted a ton of time.  I needed to tidy the hard drive anyway, but, this was a 2 day process with many attempts and restarts.  Victory at the end though, the phone is fixed!

Any spare computer time between reboots was diverted to finishing the Girl Scout Cookie process.  I’m actually good at inventory and logistics and this system was very hard to use.  I ended up getting creative and after far too much work our account is perfect, zeroed out, and each girl accurate.  If I do this again I have some notes for my future self.

While all this computer nonsense was going on, Lars and I were attempting to car shop.  We started earlier in the month with a solid test drive on a med size SUV with an awesome sales person.  She seemed extra great next to the Honda sales guy who acted like we were wasting his time and then actually disappeared leaving us standing by the not really functional floor model of the Oddysey for 20 min.  I was ready to buy that minivan, I like my current one but it is 11 years old and getting cranky.  I plan on tweeting “thanks Honda sales for helping me find the Chrysler Pacifica”  I didn’t even know there was a minivan from Chrysler since I was happy in Honda land but ignoring us has its consequences.  Anyway, much time was spent at the dealer looking at options and looking for the one we wanted in their network and in the end, we are ordering it from the factory since what we want is a tad more unique than expected.  Oh well, I can wait a month to get exactly what we want.

Yesterday the kids finally went to school.  I did a ton of laundry and catch up in peace, and today I can finally get around to making an album for the pictures that belong in the post from last week that I’ll publish tomorrow.

*there is no actual power over kids via the school board, advisory and oversight

**as an April fools joke I dropped them off and told them that we arranged that all public school were now boarding schools and I would be bringing their pj’s and pillows later in the day.  They took the joke well.  The rest of the day they pranked me and as a once a year thing it is hilarious but ONLY once a year.

ps.  No pictures in this post because I want to actually publish before I need to leave for the afternoon rounds.  Imagine frustrated computer sitting, google Chrysler Pacifica, and that is what I would have inserted had I the time.  Cheers!

Cookie weekend

This year I am the cookie mom.  A phrase that is greeted by a ‘thank god it isn’t me’ or ‘wow are you slightly insane’ look from every other adult I run into.  It isn’t so bad really, we have the space, I have a background in logistics and I’m pretty well located for the troop.  Some things I messed up because I was new but nothing really bad and I know how to fix them.  The online system is ‘functional’ and that is a kind description but it is better than nothing. It eats up time and energy and resources and I’m frustrated at the issues in the system and our local area.  However, I volunteer to do this because my kids truly benefit from the cookie selling process.

why?  how?

Here is my story;  My oldest was painful, hide behind you, shy.  Something about selling cookies helped her interact with other adults.  She listened when we said ‘talk to their eyes’, the script is easy and expected, and people generally like the product so she was rewarded over and over by people saying yes.  Now she has a much easier time giving asking questions either in class or in a store and her independence and self-confidence grew because of this process.  That will be something that will help her in ways she won’t even know.img_9621

My second is a natural talker but this gives her not just an opportunity to interact but a showcase.  She can dance and nobody tells her to stop.  She also gets a bit of the lesson that when you pay attention to the process it works better as her sister racks up sales by asking every.single.person.

Number 3 was a tag along for years and now has her own troop.  Doing something separate from her sisters and me is great for her.  By all reports, she is a star at the booth and that is just how kids are – when mom is gone behavior is 110% better.  I did join her for a booth this weekend and she was very well behaved and a good salesperson.  They are only 6 but are doing a great job.

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All three of them are amazingly nonbiased in their sales.  Person covered in gang tatoos?  “would you like some girl scout cookies?” Group of teens not speaking English? “would you like some girl scout cookies?” Little old people who literally can’t hear them “would you like some girl scout cookies?”.  I think people buy them just because they are considered worthy to ask when others would cross the street, ignore, or avoid them.  How great is this for their future?  They live in a world where everyone is worth the time to ask and every decline is answered with a “have a nice day” because the next opportunity is moments away.  <- BTW this was also a great learned trait, the No’s are as valuable as the Yes in learning about the world.

The primary purpose of the cookie sales is to fund the girl scouts but for me that is a side benefit to all the great personal skills they are learning.

 

That being said, in the past 7 days I’ve been to a cookie booth on Thursday night 6-9, Saturday 12-2 AND 5-8. Sunday 4-6. Monday we stopped at a few places and today we have another list.  In and around cookie booths I grocery shopped, had an extra kid for a playdate, saw a local school play, and in general had a great weekend because we had things going on but nothing was overwhelming.  This week we are entering the tricky phase of getting rid of inventory and I have some good plans to hopefully make it work out.  In the end it is worth it and if anyone feels like supporting a MN troop here is our online link. 

(seriously though, no pressure)

 

ps.  Just because I find value in this crazy activity does not mean I won’t be very happy when its over.  I’m already thinking of ways to celebrate freedom from the cookie mafia.

 

Balance

The more we do, the harder it is to balance.  Sometimes I think the universe builds in balance, you just have to look at it right.

We had a super social 6 day weekend last week with guests arriving Thursday and we celebrated by going to a trampoline park.  If you want the place to yourself, go an hour before closing on a weeknight, we actually had races across the entire place and we each got our own lane.  Friday the houseguests did the tourist thing and I ran around getting ready for the event.  Saturday, the grand event day, went very well and ended even better with a great party at our house where everyone was happy and nothing got broken.  15 of our house guest departed on Sunday and the remaining group just had a nice day hanging out.  Monday (we had off) the last friends leave and I started resetting the house back to normal.  A friend called on Wednesday and asked what I was doing and I said making the 25th bed in a week and I thought I was being hyperbolic but actually, I was underestimating when you figure I made up beds for 25 people to sleep, I just did mine too because why not, then I unmade the majority and remade 6 so in the span of 7 days I made 31 beds.

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Monday night dinner party

To balance out that frenetic weekend of social activity this weekend I’m solo with the kids and we have no firm plans but I’m sure we will have a good time and I’m looking forward to a peaceful weekend just as much as I looked forward to the crazy fun weekend.

In a micro version of balance today I started off with a very aggravating morning where because my plan last night didn’t work out per plan so the minivan got left out of the garage overnight and it was -40 (windchill).  This morning it did start but was cranky and there was ice on the window and the side door sensor refused to acknowledge that the door was shut so it made a LOUD BEEP the entire way to school and finally quit on my way to a school board thing.  In balance, I left the meeting and drove home and had a green light at every intersection the whole way home.  That is amazing timing, first in my life for here, absolutely blog worthy and actually this entire post is so I can tell the world that I had green lights from one side of town, all the way across the highway and the other side of town – I think about 10 lights in a row.

The sun is shining and although is it arctic cold outside, our passive solar is doing its job so I am going to take the opportunity to go sit in a sunbeam.  (balance is that I spend too much time running around in the dark since it gets dark here by 6 these days

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

 

Guess What?

I love my blog enough to pay $13 whole dollars for an upgraded membership.  I realized some of the reasons I was not blogging was because I was nearly out of space and pictures really do make the story.  So, after the 3million and third targeted add with discounts and ‘last chance’ notes from WordPress I did it.  I have no idea what all will change but I have more space and that is what I was looking for.

What about the daily post?  Well, that didn’t work out this year.  I’m as disappointed as you are (btw I’m assuming nobody was all that disappointed).  When last we talked I was suffering from a truly annoying mouth issue that actually persisted for a full 7 days and now I have the creepy crud of congestion.  These are not conditions conducive to happy chatting online.  Beyond those minor annoiances, the week was really great and super full.

Thanksgiving felt like the end of a marathon.  One that started so long ago when we first decided to put the house on the market and then escalated when we were prepping, then selling and building then moving and homeless, then traveling, then moving in and figuring out where things go and a truly giant list of things to do.  No sooner were we in the house the kids were to school and the election tasks started, Halloween, and a rather full social calendar of weekend events culminating last week with the first big house party and 8 out of town guests and then Thanksgiving with more guests.  No wonder I feel tired and out of planning energy!  Sunday I sat there and realized that I have nothing major on the immediate horizon.

Does that mean I am doing nothing?  No way, just nothing like building a house or moving.  I have a vague hope that I’ll be catching up on the active to-do list to the point where I can get back to a normal week that includes meal planning and working out and generally not just chasing the ball down hill constantly.

So how was your thanksgiving?

here are some pictures because I have space now

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family game time!

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possibly not the best group pic ever but oh so true to life.  ps we are missing one child completely somehow