Tag Archive | kids

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

 

Hello November!

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.

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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.

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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.

 

Writing around politics

Hi there

This isn’t really the place for all the writing needed for politics.  I suppose it could be…. but I’m choosing to keep my political stuff for my campaign 99% on facebook on a special page just for it.  It does tend to pull time away from here though, just like any topic I don’t want to post here, I end up not posting at all.  img_8112

Any-hoo – life has been a little crazy.  Last weekend we went to a wedding and it was one of the most pretty and well done weddings I’ve been to.  Probably because it was at a resort that was in the middle of nowhere so we were there with a ton of people we know and no other agenda but hang out.  The key might have been that there were actually very few wedding activities so lots of free time.  The resort was built in the 40’s and 50’s and other than necessary modernizations it is a time capsule.  I told the kids it would be like how grandma went on vacation when she was a little girl.  There were cabins and quaint stoves and tiny cabinets and a beach and overall a mellow vibe.  My kids were 3 of 10 flower children and they had a great time with the crew of kids.  The dresses turned out great overall and in a group you didn’t notice any one individual.

I was absolutely worn out by the weekend and various interactions and packed us up eary to leave so we actually had time at home on Sunday.  I was so tired I went to sleep at 9:30pm and woke up at 6:30am.

Contributing to the crazy of last week was a fundraiser for technology in the schools – something I totally support.  We treated it like a ‘date’ and had a great time but that night led directly into the crazy weekend so it was 3 nights in a row of being ‘on’.

Back to the ‘normal’ week and I’m slowly getting a routine.  A very odd unforeseen circumstance has come up – the sun rises directly in my face when sitting at my desk.  This makes morning work really impossible until I figure out shades.  The to-do list for the house is still giant but got to make that one more of a priority.   I have become fond of cloudy mornings though, funny how things happen.

Knocking around in my head are all the books I’ve managed to read over the past few months, I need to get back to talking about them and my blog friend posted about her summer reads, bringing that back to the front of my brain.

I’ve gotten my gym membership straight again.  We were on a pause for the move and I’m officially back as of tomorrow.  Making time for a real workout is important and Vacation Mom and I need it.  I’m sure all the people we annoy at the gym because we talk missed us terribly.  Thank you, parents, for the good genes that even though I have not worked out properly in months, I’ve kept at a good weight just by watching my intake and being generally active.

The next project to start is garage shelving.  There are still things to finish on ongoing projects but new is more fun right?  I also need to get them up so I can get space in the garage before it gets cold here.

I have also regained my ‘commute’ when I drive to/from the school I get to listen to NPR.  I loved tuning in to the supreme court confirmation hearings last week and I usually catch a good segment one way or the other.  Today though I missed my grandmother (who I also used to call weekly while I drove) because the topic was feminism.  It is a big topic to unpack and the goal if this segment was to highlight the inequality in race and feminism.  That is something I would have loved to talk with her about and I’m just going to have to settle for thinking about it.  Maybe posting about it sometime.

How are you all doing?

 

In case you ARE interested in the politics

Here is a link to donate to my campaign

Here is a link to my facebook if you want to read

 

I’ve had a hard week/month

I think it is catching up with me but I don’t actually have the option to stop or I create different problems.

To focus on what we HAVE accomplished is a more positive outlook but a shorter list. Too often over the past month (of moving) or week (of actually being in the house), something I thought would be an easy thing to get done turns into a massive game of this then that and then another thing and possibly finally, after a trip to the store, something gets done.

I had to step back and choose a thing to see through to the end because all the half way was killing me.  The biggest thing on the list was to empty storage and so I gave the kids free reign of the TV and did many many trips in my intrepid minivan.  Apparently August is the month of rental because I could not find a trailer or a big truck anywhere BUT an awesome friend loaned us her trailer and an even more awesome friend helped do the final push with the big things I could not do solo.  Between Tuesday and Friday this

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became this;

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the scale is hard to see but if you look in the top picture, that odd blue floral pattern thing is a queen size mattress and box spring that are extending long way into the unit and they are about 1/4 of the way from the front.  Anyway!  glad all that is now in my garage ready to be sorted through.

I wish I had more pretty pictures to share but it was a fast-moving team effort to empty the onsite storage so things got crazy fast.  I can happily post that we have all beds now up and assembled – Niamh’s was in the waaaay back of storage – and I’ve done laundry and many meals have been cooked and cleaned up, we are living here now, even if we don’t know where 1/4 of what we need for any given task is.

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Master bedroom and exercise spot.  

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Fiona’s room, top bunk is just for sleepovers and stuffed animals

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Day 1 before allllll the things

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the very first action in the new house was this load of camping laundry….

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this looks more like real life.  More work to do on the boxes but getting there!

 

On other life-related things, I’m just overwhelmed and over sensitive.  There are people that have been excellent and they should totally overshadow the people who have basically turned their back on us but it still hurts.

I have tons to do today so I must get to them.  Focus on what I can affect, keep positive, and ignore the urge to bunker.

 

ps. Lars set up the internet and my computer so I’m at a real keyboard again!

pps. despite the pictures, Lars is not always in the kitchen

 

The Cloisters

Yesterday we went off to the noted museum in new york; The Cloisters.  I have never been there because it is in a very hard part of the city to get to, and, it is a very niche collection so when given a choice of how to spend time we always choose to be more downtown and get to see more in the day.  This time we decided we were going and set out on the 1.5h drive (that took 2.5) and lucked out with a great parking spot and also a very pretty day.

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The cloisters is basically a 14th and 15th-century European collection so I had told the kids that “everything you see in this museum we can do in the SCA” (the history group we do).  Convincing kids museums are fun isn’t ever easy unless there is a dinosaur involved but they are getting better at appreciating.  Anyway, the big surprise when we walked in was that they are doing a modern art exhibit for closing inspired by the collection.

Yup… that was a weird mix of awesome and fail at the same time.

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The dresses were outstanding, showing that high-end designers, when asked to make wearable art, can absolutely do it 110%.  They were also displayed perfectly in the spaces, truly showing that someone in charge was both artistic and skilled.

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I didn’t go crazy with pictures because I know I can get better detail from the online catalogs but seeing them in person is something special.  The unicorn tapestries were all they are ever hyped to be and recently reading a book they featured in made them more real to the kids.  Overall, having the kids do math about the items impressed them that they were inches away from things created 900 years ago.  To my European readers, I know, your post office is probably 900 years old but for us that is pretty impressive.

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The other excellent thing about this museum is that the building IS part of the exhibit.  Every door and window and most of the stones are from 14th and 15th-century monasteries.  I wish I had more time to look at everything but the impressive part that I’ll carry forward in my life is the walled garden.  I always thought the walls would make too much shade but this shows that plants in the center do very well and there is nice shade around the edges for sitting and looking at the garden.  Given I will be in a place with lots of land I may be experimenting with the concept since it will be a good way to keep out the wildlife and also create an interesting structure on our flat rectangle of land.

We left the pocket universe of the Cloisters and headed back and as if we needed more reasons not to live in the crazy land of long island we took nearly 4 hours to get back.  To give perspective, we can drive to the close part of Canada from our house in the same amount of time.  It did give me an opportunity to get a nice landscape picture while stopped on the bridge so that’s good at least.

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The day was not lost at all.  One of the very very best things about visiting family is that there are more adults in the system so things get handled.  My sister turned up at parents house and created dinner that was 10 min from done when we walked int.  Way better than facing dinner decisions after 4 road fried hours.  We topped off the night with a visit to the big boat with friends and floated at dock while the kids played and generally had fun.

Today Lars when home and now we enter into phase 2 of vacation – the solo mom adventure.