what better way to blog more than the old standby of three cool/good/interesting things from the week. This week I’m thankful for;
- Police. Waaaaay back on veterans day I promised that on On January 9th I would give the police their due on their day I also took some time to message all the good people I know who are police. Thankfully I’ve lived a life where police were never the bad guys. Sure, I’ve been mad at speeding ticket but it wasn’t like I wasn’t actually speeding. I do feel safer for the police and I don’t fear that they are out to get me. I see our police doing their best to spread that opinion with cool things like safety camp and working in the schools and giving out coupons for ice cream when they see a kid biking with a helmet. I’m in a town that thoroughly supports police, to the extent that the high school did a walkout when the town council was considering closing our local police and contracting with the county. I get in my bubble that this is a good place and we are safe and while that is pretty true super sad stories like this officer that was shot this week happen way too often. This officer had nothing but support from his community too and I hope he recovers but even in safe little towns bad things can happy and it is (literally) too close to home.
2. Sister Christmas.
Other years, because I don’t really love hauling gifts from MN to NY to open there to then haul back we have had 2nd Christmas and it is always fun. We drove this year and the gifts do get smaller (and more electronic) as they age so most could make the trip, I thought I was in the clear but… We have another mini tradition where we let the girls shop for each other and this year that got lost in the flu so we did it last week with an agreement that we would have “sister Christmas” this past weekend. I love how well they know each other and what they would each like and the care that goes into choosing. Personally, I love the gifts my sisters choose, they are always ‘right’ somehow even if it is nothing I knew I needed or wanted. They had the best time with this mini Christmas both with the gifts themselves and the wrapping was even fun. Niamh did the crazy classic of 5 layers + of wrapping, including packing tape for Zoe and to add to the fun, Fiona had an identical outer box and after Zoe was expecting the same BUT Niamh had wrapped an empty box that included a note that was directions to a different location. It was awesome.
3. Last is an item that was part of my world for my entire childhood. It was my grandmother’s’ whatnot’ and she acquired it when she purchased the house so its actual age is unknown but I’m guessing 150-200 years old. For my growing up it was covered in crystal and I remember dusting it often. When my grandparents downsized this lovely piece went with them but didn’t have such a prominent place in the house. As old age and illness took over it became less used and dustier and eventually, after both grandparents were gone it became an item in the estate. I never thought I would end up with it, but I did, and we brought it home from Christmas and I spent a good long time cleaning and then polishing and then assembling it. I’m not sure what to put on it in our house but I’m looking forward to it being part of my kid’s memories too. Oh, I might have said I inherited it because I cleaned it most (probably not true) but that put the idea in #3’s head that she would be cleaning it as often as possible to make a claim now…
Those are my 3 things – anyone else doing this challenge? Even if you are not, take a second to thank a police officer today, it is their day.
I turned the big Four-Oh on December 18 (1 week before Christmas) and I wanted to do something special. The downside to birthdays close to Christmas is not the gifts like everyone immediately assumes, it is the attention sink of Christmas. All time and energy are going toward the holiday and nobody has time or energy to do something ‘not’ Christmas that close. *Including me* I also love the magic of Christmas and love making it special for my family so I also had no real energy to plan a party for myself and Lars, wonderful in many ways, is not a planner (and then I got the flu so I’m glad there wasn’t a party planned).
One answer is to move my birthday celebration to a more dead spot on the calendar but that brings back the issue of planning a party for myself, that just feels odd. So my answer this year is to do ‘something special’ with my top 40 friends and family. The ‘rules’ are that it has to be for my birthday, not just that we happen to be out after an event and sharing a meal or something, social time is great but the intention for birthday is a key element. Also, no double counting, even if some of the same people are there they don’t count again. I like this system because while I have an odd internal issue with throwing a big party for myself, I have zero issues telling a friend “hey, lets go do a XYZ for my birthday” and personally planning the activity and date and they come and say ‘happy birthday!” and we go from there. I’m equally open to a friend inviting me to something for my birthday quest. This also gives me the freedom to celebrate my birthday with all my favorite people at times that work for each individual and I can see people from all over and include them in the birthday quest because my timeline is long.
So far the plan is working well and I’m excited to keep rolling with it.
My first celebration was the weekend before my birthday and the serious top people in my life attended. 1. Lars, 2. Vacation Mom 3, 4, and 5 were my kids. We had a great little dinner party in my beautiful front room with candles and the Christmas tree and a lovely lamb meal.
The second celebration included Lars again but featured our friends Lou and Lisa; for my 40 count, they are #6 and #7. We went to a very nice French restaurant that we had been to before. They had a crazy day with plumbing issues but I really appreciated that they came out per plan. (plus after their day they needed a glass of wine). Side bonus of this celebration was a fun kid party where #1 watched their kids who are very good friends with #2 and #3 so everyone was a winner.
The third celebration was in NY with my family. The restaurant was a comedy of errors but we all had a good time anyway. My BiL is in restaurant management so his running commentary of ALL the things they did wrong was hilarious. We common people notice some wrong things like a long wait or getting the wrong check but he noticed dozens of little things. I think he (semi) secretly reveled in their ineptitude because the owner is someone he is not a big fan of. For my count; I add my parents, #8,#9 without whom my birthday would not have ever happened. My two sisters #10, #11 who I wish I lived closer to but maybe someday … and their husbands who are cool enough guys to count as friends/family and are #12 and #13.
#14 is a high school friend who I have a fun relationship with basically centered around phone games and technology. He also shares his working life in NYC and I share my mellow country life with him. It is fun to have someone in your life for basically 30 years. We did a perfect for us birthday event; we went and played the Wizards Unite phone game from 10pm to midnight. Lars and my mom came too (but don’t count per the rules) but having a team of 4 playing together was truly fun.
#15 is on reserve for Miss Math. We were both sick and she did actually come visit but we did not have birthday intentions. We had planned on going out but neither of us was up for it SO she has a reserved spot because she BELONGS in my top 40 and whether we get together in the spring if she can visit or maybe we can watch a movie or read the same book in our respective houses and then talk about it we will figure it out. Miss Math is one of my oldest friends and we have talked basically every week (or more frequently) for 30 years.
**no photo because we used our time to chat and blow our noses**
#16 is my designer friend who drove up from NJ to see us. She arrived with a bottle of champaign to celebrate 40 and we did the visit thing. Seeing her is always fun, she is full of energy and creative ideas and I always want to do something more after we visit. We have pretty different lives now but there is still plenty of common ground and I’m glad she made the drive.
Not bad for having the flu on my real birthday. So! friends of mine, let’s do something for my 40th birthday! I’m open to most things, the gift of your time is all I ask, and this is going to be a fun challenge for the year. Someone asked if I know 40 people and my answer is “Absolutely” I’ve been really lucky to consistently meet awesome people over my 40 years and I’m pretty good at keeping in touch so I still have friends I’m in contact with from elementary school, middle/high school, college, my first job in MN, SCA over a lifetime in 3 kingdoms plus the international event of Pennsic, recent friends made through kids, PTO, school board and other causes. I would likewise count some internet friends because some of my online-only relationships are pretty fabulous and have persisted for years. Maybe I’ll make it part of my quest to have a birthday event with someone from every category in my life…. let’s make that a stretch goal. Regardless every one will get documented here and I hope to have the best epic odyssey of a 40th year.
*Honorable mention for the list has to go to my Ny friend, who also reads this, who I ended up sitting next to in church on Christmas Eve. Given we were there for Jesus’s birthday it certainly couldn’t be for my birthday but it was such a great extra for my visit it had to have a mention. Sometimes you work hard to have plans fall through, sometimes you have a friend land in the seat next to you unexpectedly. I have known her since 1st grade so if we can make a birthday thing work then I could get that fairly rare category because my class was only 11 kids.
Look! a post written and published in a timely manner 🙂
For the first time in FOREVER, we went out for the evening with friends. The kids had a ‘kid party’ where I put my trust in their collective good sense and left them with snacks and 2 bottles of 7up and unbreakable buy quite pretty wine glasses. It was a bit more of a party then I expected because a friend going with us suddenly had his kids and we had already invited a #1 friend so we had 6 kids. We got home at 12:30 and they were all in bed but nobody was asleep. Based on footsteps they saw the headlights and scampered. The house was in good order so I’m really pleased with how that all worked out, although, I miss having my ‘midnight’ with them, but, things change as they age and I need to be ok with that.
As for us, we went out to a local party that had no cover and drink/food specials. I *really* wanted to go to a roaring 20’s theme event but we didn’t get tickets so I just wore my outfit anyway. I was happy with the outfit, especially my hair, and got tons of compliments from strangers. We went with a little group of close friends and we all dressed up and more or less had a party within a party but it was still fun to be out. Midnight toast and a dance and then home again because I only trust the kids so long.
Given my age and year correlation, hitting a landmark 40 in 2020 is a big reason to pull out the reflect couch but I just have not given it that much thought. Lars and I started dating just after New Year 2000 so our relationship is always marked by new years for me. This is my first full year on the school board and I feel like I know what I’m doing much more now. I’m tempting fate here but I generally feel like I know more of what I’m doing overall. We are much more settled in the house, PTO and kid school are going well, general relationships with friends and family are pretty good. Sure there is room to grow and also things I have to accept like hormones invading the body of #1 but realistically they are all good kids and I have a nice group of friends. I’m in good health and I’m able to do most of what I want to, I almost feel like I’m wasting potential because I’m not doing enough! Over the next few weeks I’m going to give the past year, decade, and 20 years the reflection it disserves; I blame the flu for not doing it already.
If I didn’t give a lot of thought to what I’ve done, I’ve given almost less to what I’m going to do. I’m ok with letting a path emerge. I did realize that I spent every single day of my 30’s managing kids and changing a lot of diapers. I can probably get away with not changing a diaper in my 40’s and that is something for sure. I feel like there are a few options worth looking into and this might be the year (or decade) to actually look harder.
Just writing this all has me thinking about the ups and downs over the past year and I’m mostly proud of where I am right now. I have not been passive even though I’ve let opportunities pass. Sometimes I am wistful of what I did not do or did not chase but I am ok with that (most of the time). Maybe there is a Kate in a parallel universe doing all the things, who knows.
So I started this at 10 am and it is nearly 8 so if I want to publish on the day I said it was I need to just publish. Our New Years Day was mellow fun, friends dropped over, games were played, I put lots of food into my new air fryer and we had a nice vacation at home day. Tomorrow the kids go back to school and I hope to get back on track, I miss my routine.
Cheers to 2020! If you have any ideas on what I should5 do I’ll consider all options in the comments. Are you up to something great? I’m all ears.
I did NOT fall off the earth but I had a nasty flu. THE flu, tested and everything.
It all started well, Monday the 16th, I had a power cleaning day. My goal was for the house to be clean before my birthday on the 18th and ready for us to go to NY on the 20th. I brought home plague monkey from school that afternoon sick and by morning I was right there with her. Somehow she recovered more quickly, I got the full death feeling of the flu for 7 full days. So, I did not have a fancy party for my 40th birthday, I had the flu (I do have a reclaim plan that is awesome but that its own post). I am super lucky Lars took the week off with use-or-lose vacation so he could do all the things I normally do. This included the majority of the packing…. it was ok.
The moral of this story is don’t procrastinate! The house was fairly clean, I actually had the majority of Christmas shopping done and packed ready to get in the car very early. Our teacher gifts were ready, I had the laundry done and we had just sorted out fancy outfits and shoes for the Christmas concert so we were in pretty good shape even if I couldn’t raise my head off the pillow. There were things that just didn’t happen like a few little gifts I was planning on hand making and some last week activities like finding cool Christmas lights but nothing that wrecked the holiday. #1 and Lars ended up doing the wrapping in NY, I wish I could have but I just couldn’t and it was nice to see #1 step up and do a good job.
We did drive 20 hours over 2 days to get to NY. It was a very dull drive with no excitement at all. I think the kids watched about 5 movies and were 90% well behaved. By the end of the drive, Lars was showing flu signs and I was feeling better so I drove a chunk. He succumbed to the flu the first two days in NY and then #2 and then #1. #2 only had about a day of feeling bad and #1 had 3 but they included Christmas so she was not top form for opening fun gifts. Good thing their major gift from us was a kindle each so she holed up in her bed with endless Netflix and Tylenol.
I was (fortunately) the only one that got the whole classic flu and I’m still not 100% two weeks later but I’m feeling much better. It is hard to drive that far to see people and just have no energy. I wasn’t contagious by the time we got there but part 2 of the flu is general inability to do what you think is a normal amount of activity. We got enough festive visiting in but nowhere near maximized. It also did not help that Mrs. Math was also sick and so were a few other NY friends so we all either didn’t feel up for it or didn’t want to cross infect each other.
We got home last night after a slightly more harrowing drive home. We dodged a major snow event, for the most part, it hit MN and was moving east so we beat it for the first day and a half of driving and only hit snow in the last 3 hours. Lars is a good driver but it was nice to get home and stop moving.
I didn’t take many pictures at Christmas but I’ll sift through what I have to see if it is worth a ‘Christmas post’ even though it is a week later. I hope your week of December 25th was all you wished it would be, or, at least you didn’t have the flu. In the end, it really was not all that sad. I felt bad but nothing fell apart, we have plenty of good medicine and comfortable beds, I even watched a few episodes of a show I like in my conscious periods. We did make it to Christmas, we saw the people we wanted to, we did a few things in NY and overall it was a good holiday, germs and all.
So proof people read because I got quite a few calls about my last post. Good to know that I normally keep the bar high for positive writing. In reality like everyone, my ups and downs are pretty on par with most, I just usually keep it off the record. Thank you to those who took a second to check on me though, it was just what I needed.
Christmas time is its own type of magic and we are keeping up with our traditions even while we add in new ones or let some drift away.
This year we have 4 countdowns to Christmas; Like other years, Santa’s beard is trimmed daily and each day is basically a positive and selfless item and so far so good. On ‘write a nice note for someone’ day I was gifted with some super sweet notes. I don’t have a picture this year but Santa is colored with style and his hat is a work of art (literally)
Two new count downs join the group. My mom sent a classic advent pop open calendar with a little candy and line from the Christmas story in each. Our post office got a little aggressive so all the candy actually fell out so it now lives in a tin and the fun is opening the door and reading the passage. #3 noticed that they all had ‘some guys name and some numbers’ at the bottom and I filled her in on how the Bible works. She then decided to read the bible. She will not be discouraged and the copy we have (that nobody knows where it came from) actually has pronunciation guides so it is not all that hard to read, except you know, for how hard it is to read. It is an odd outcome but I don’t mind if she reads.
Mom’s contribution was in semi reaction to my dad deciding that his daughters would enjoy a tea advent calendar. I don’t know about my sisters but I certainly enjoy it. The kids open the tea but after dinner, I make a little pot of interesting tea and we all have a little cup. Most have been really really good and overall I enjoy the process. On tea tastes like forest sweepings but 1 out of 10 isn’t bad. #3 likes all of them, #2 likes the ‘normal’ tea that happened to be one of the days and #1 has enjoyed a few and not liked a few. I’ve liked them all (except that one, pine needles are not for drinking).
The 4th countdown is the one that I remember best from my growing up, the 4 Sundays of Advent. It is a short little lighting of the candle and saying of prayer and singing a song but we follow it with a family dinner and all the kids love it. Of course, there was negotiations about who would lite what candle but they mostly worked it out and it is a nice part of our weekend. If all goes well, the 4th Sunday will be celebrated in Sayville this year.
There are a few things that have drifted. We don’t read Christmas books out loud anymore. In some ways, the tea took the spot but our bedtime has changed and they just don’t read with us anymore. It is a little sad but I’m overall glad they can all read solo and usually choose to (even the bible sometimes). We also won’t have the opportunity to celebrate Hannaka because we will be gone during the 8 nights. I’m sure we could find a way in NY but really it was about sharing that evening with our friend.
Finally, a Christmas event that accidentally started last year persists. In an odd hybrid of Scandinavian culture that surrounds us here, and, the semi detestable elf on the shelf the Tonte’s we made last year have started moving around the house and even brought gifts on the 1st of December. They are undeniably adorable and they are NOT watching us for Santa nor do they get into trouble in the night. They simply move about and create a magic moment every afternoon when they race inside to see where they moved to during the day. They are a good addition and a very low-stress magic maker.
We have the tree up and trimmed, decorations around and about, Santa has been visited, town tree has been officially lit and I am nearing the end of shopping. We have a plan for hand made gifts and they are in process. Each year we do different things so hard to say ‘tradition’ quite but this year the girls are taking the lead on projects they want. I’m glad to see the craft gene expressing itself! This weekend we will be doing the majority because next week we are busy every night of the week and heading off to NY on Friday.
Time to finish up and make the tea then chase 3 good girls into bed.
Hey, November got crazy, I did finish the shed but it was a marathon! I had tons of help and it was like a party, I can see how barn-raising used to be a community affair. We did get the snow, as expected, and the weather just kept on for the entire long weekend. However, it was not that cold so for me, that was really good. Sure there was snow on the ground but my fingers and toes were cozy in normal layers so the finishing bits got done. On Thanksgiving day I pulled out the ladder and air nailer and finished the roof tarp properly. Then we installed the door. It may have been what I was most worried about and in the end, it was the absolute easiest! We had everything going for us;
- High-quality Anderson door that was well built and had fewer steps for installing than my doorbell
- We built the opening to match the door so we didn’t need to adjust anything
- everything was square to start! that was a big surprise to us all but it shows that being careful at the start pays off in the end.
The only snafu was the cat stepping in the silicon gel and we wasted a little time laughing at the cat (and googling if it was toxic) (it was not). The thing was heavy but between 3 adults we shoved it in and that was more or less that. It makes the shed look like a real building, I’m very pleased.
Thanksgiving afternoon, post-construction projects, progressed as holiday normal. Friends came over, the table was set with cheer, food was cooked and consumed and everyone had a good time. I went to bed happy, and, for the first time in weeks, I slept well because I had ZERO crazy deadline projects on my mind.
The kids had off from Wednesday through the weekend, but, it was very crappy weather with snow, freezing rain, more snow interspersed with random decent weather. This is NOT GOOD for going places but the kids really did have a great time playing in the snow around the house. I can’t express in words how good it feels for them to decide to put on snow gear and go out and play. They play nicely for ages. It sounds dumb but it makes my heart full and happy, I hope I always remember this.
There was a vague plan to go get a Christmas tree ‘from the wild’ but the weather just wasn’t on our side so we went with our traditional visit to the Home Depot to pick a tree ‘from the not wild’. It is still a fun little trip and I love the tree we picked. The Home Depot must have extra jolly criteria for working the tree lot because like last year, the people who helped us were fun and happy and made the experience more than transactional.
In the past I’ve stressed about the ‘holiday card picture’ and over the past years, I’ve realized that I do better trying all year to get good pictures and then one low-stress fast fun photo if the opportunity arises. The perfect opportunity presented itself on Sunday – we had been unpacking the decorations and found all the assorted shirts so everyone put one on, also found were the assorted Santa hats. The day moved on and there was a break in the weather so everyone ran outside with boots, hats, scarfs and no other changes to outfit or hair or makeup and we took about 15 pictures in under 5 minutes and it worked great. I have two great shots and zero crabby kids.
The balance of this week has been all about putting the house back together post project and 5 days of lazy vacation life. I finished our Christmas card today and its at the printer and this weekend santa comes to our town to light the tree so I’m working on decorations and gift ideas too.
It is a different type of busy, Christmas still has its stresses and I create my own extra for wanting to do ‘all the things’ but it is a fun busy. Who knows how long the particular magic of Santa will last but I plan on enjoying it all.