Tag Archive | life

post #10 Sew Happy

I’m running out of good titles for the catchall of my week post, so, this is my 10th post of 2020 and #2711th overall.  I have put a lot of words out there.

This week the kids actually went to school on a Monday and are expected to be there all week. The pace of winter activities is picking up and also this is the season for planning so even though there is snow on the ground I need to start mapping out camps and summer and softball and I’m also running an SCA event in May that has prep work and possibly another so I need to tour some sites.  All these moving parts are like balls of different sizes I’m chasing around a room.  If I was just working on 10 events that would be no problem but its the bran gear shift from project A to project c where I’m nearly a different person to each group gets the brain going loopy.  Occasionally I have to pause and think about how to sign an email because I’m not ‘just Kate’ I’m Kate+role.

(I’ve deleted apologies to you readers about my SCA resume post because it probably made no sense to half of you but welcome to my world~ it is diverse in this brain and I’m not apologizing.  I’m also genuine in each role, it is just a different part of me that gets the front stage, I sure hope I don’t sound schizophrenic now… )

Over the past week or so I’ve been in the happy finishing place for lots of projects.  I love the part when I actually get it done.  This is semi part of my organization quest of the year because by organizing things I find all the parts of the projects and instead of putting them other places to lose them again I am DOING them.  The list will never end but I’ll enjoy this spurt of time while I have it.

First I tackled a pile of ‘stuff’ that has been lurking by a wall long enough that traffic patterns in the house have adjusted to go around it.  In that pile was the end of Christmas, out to the garage it went.  The remainder was a mash-up of sewing to-do’s that I just couldn’t find a place to start so I asked my Facebook list and they helpfully voted.  They were all of roughly equal priority so I was happy for the nudge and once I was in, I could roll through.  Lars was also pleased that putting buttons on his shorts from maybe last year (maybe longer…) and fixing his gym bag made the list and they are all done now.

First I ironed a stack of napkins, like a taste of progress, and since the iron was hot I did every patch on all 3 vests.  Not shown is the collection of patches from last year(s) that never got done on older vests but moving forward they are ready.


then fired up the sewing machine for some curtain action; Niamh needed an extra set of panels in her room and I needed anything in my room.  Done and done with a bonus project of putting up curtain rods in my room that had been getting dusty in the corner of the room.

As I was hanging curtains in my room I was moving award scrolls for probably the 4th time since we moved and decided to quit moving them around and finished that project by finally hanging them all up.  *this project has been in process for months starting with the picture rail, moving on to frame buying, and finally getting it up and looking good.  It is cool enough I might do a how-to because I’m pretty pleased with the resources I found.


Back to the sewing pile, I had a stack of flannel I turned into things to blow your nose on and wash, the button sewing, a trio of seasonal pillowcases (that I am using the fabric from my old seasonal curtains that don’t work in this house as curtains) and finally I turned these three outgrown knit items into useful and custom throw pillows.  I’m glad I know the principals of knitting because I had to unknit the arms to make them work right.


no pets were disturbed with the taking of this picture

It was a busy few days for crafting and I’m very pleased to have focused long enough to turn a giant monster pile into a small basket of future projects.  There is a fine line between scope creep and project hopping and I’m not always sure where I stand but it feels good to do the job.  Now the spot in the hall is back, the corner of my room that was full of scrolls is empty and I can move on.

Next up in both cleaning spaces and getting ready for stuff I MUST make my garage into a functional cookie vault.  This means making the workbench less of a tool jumble sale and rearranging some things.  The weather is decent today and I’ve just downloaded a new audiobook so I’m going out there.  Thanks all for being a place I can both hold myself accountable and be proud of what I got done.  Self-motivation is not the easiest thing but I think I disserve to have that on my resume at this point!

Nuisance snow week

I love the fun new ways to describe snow.  The Eskimos and we should have a snow word off because the descriptions get pretty fun after a while.  I’m used to the last few years creations like  “wintery mix” meaning snow with rain and some ice and then “heart attack snow” meaning super heavy wet and people shoveling beware but Nuisance snow is the new one for the season and it means periodic snow for about an inch at inopportune times like rush hour.  It is also little enough you don’t need to shovel but after a few episodes suddenly you have 6 inches compressed into a driveway glacier from driving on it for a week.  Anyway, that has been our weather for the past week.

Fortunately, the weekend was very nice.  We had an event and it went really well overall.  Usually, we have a full house with guests but life etc for our friends left us solo but that works out too and we still had a good time.

My Monday and Tuesdays are now super crazy days.  Monday I woke up ready to get things going for the week and the cat peed on my comforter right in front of us.  That cat is now on borrowed time….  There are some things we can change so we are but washing my comforter 2x on Monday was not in the plan – pushed all other laundry activity for a couple hours.  To further irritate me, I attempted to renew my license on Monday afternoon before I got the kids.  I gave an hour but had to give up because the line estimate was over 3 when I got there.  Usually, our office is no wait or maybe 10 minutes but the ‘real ID’ is just a tediously long process.  The joke that you need an original copy of the Declaration of Independence is really not far off the level of crazy documents you now need.  It is seriously easier to get a passport but that won’t actually count as of October for domestic travel.  Crazy.  Monday now includes #1 going to soccer instead of JuJitsu but I figured out a schedule that works, even includes a workout for me, but I do a ton of driving.

Tuesday I woke up to no cat pee so that was a positive.  I gave another shot to the real Id situation and I brought my passport, tax returns, birth certificate, old license, car insurance (proof of address) and I still needed to fish a bank document off the internet and email it to the clerk helping me.  She was great, the process is just insane at the moment.  I spent a lot of mental energy on the holes in this system including how difficult it would be if someone married a person who already owned a house and then didn’t have a job or their name on a bank account – at that point they just don’t exist?  My dinky job where I earn $40 a month but I get a tax document was truly important.  I am unsure how to try and help this situation and that is troubling because it is a slow-rolling disaster.  The day kept going with a complicated ballet of who has who doing what including girl scouts, choir, feeding kids, and the extra challenge of the day; orientation for middle school for #1.  It worked out but I counted that I was out of the house for 8 hours and that isn’t counting the work I did while at home.

Today is the easy day!  I’m catching up on the undone things of days past and trying to get a jump on the next two days because I’ll be at a conference until Friday.  I’m commuting so I won’t miss the kids, and I’m looking forward to all I’ll see and do, just needing to get ready.  Hopefully, the nuisance snow doesn’t complicate my plans for tomorrow or Friday but that is not up to me.

Finally, I’m still organizing.  Today’s submission is the kid’s bathroom closet.  I did not have a clue what to really put in there when we moved in and it hasn’t gotten more organized in a year.  After thinking about what the uses are, I ended up with all the kid towels, pet/clean up towels, sheets for singles or doubles, and a designated spot for washcloths and hand towels so they don’t all get lost.  I pulled out the lightbulbs, ‘odd’ pillow covers, a stack of table cloths, a collection of extra soaps, and hopefully, this will be an easier system to maintain.



The TownHouse story


After!  After much work in only 10 days it looks great.

September ended with as much busy and crazy as it started.

As I mentioned we did not renew our tenants lease.  We expected some cleanup and we expected to have it rented for Nov 1, maybe with an early move-in mid-October.  I’m very glad I did not procrastinate because the day she was moving out I was there with the clipboard writing the to-do list.  Luckily I got a painter to start the next week and flooring scheduled for the following Tuesday and in the week and a day from her handing over the keys I;

  • replaced the dishwasher <- ended up doing this DIY with the help of vacation mom.  Together we have more courage and actually, we work well together.  We both laughed when one of us got sprayed in the face because we turned ON the water that was apparently already off…  We notice the thing the other doesn’t and it works out well. Only took 2 trips to the store to get the right part.
  • replaced the doorbell – how it broke nobody knows… Glad I had experience with installing my Ring earlier this season so I knew how absolutely simple a device it really is.  img_2486
  • I found a great light fixture with VacationMom at the re-home store and then had to fight with it for over an hour to get modified to fit the space. (it had a too long downrod) and as is common I’m finding with second hand, it didn’t quite have every bit and part needed for an install.  I got creative and a little Frankenstein and 3 trips to the store and finally it is up and looks great.  The old one is now in my garage because it really was not bad, it was just dated, and is now in my list of projects for future garden decoration.


    bever.  only answer.  Look at the difference in old (top) and new (bottom) paint, looks so fresh and clean and bright!

  • Found a perfect match to the door that was eaten by a beaver (only logical explanation), ordered it, bird-dogged it through the manufacturing system and actually got it 5 days post order instead of the 2 weeks they estimated.  Asking nicely does work!  I also figured out how to chisel out the hinges to match and now you can’t even tell what door is new.


    prehung door… well, it got me 50% of the way to hang it, chisel got me the other half

  • Replaced all the doorknobs/locks – because that is always what you do.  I can change a doorknob and deadbolt in under 15 min, faster if the packaging is already open.
  • Picked paint and picked it up.  This is fairly minor overall but it was harrowing because I had to go to my least favorite paint place and even though I gave myself 40min to get this done I was still nearly late to pick up the kids.
  • revarnished all the windowsills – a skill I picked up from fixing our old house last year.  I’m very glad to have painted wood in this house.
  • Picked carpet!  easiest part but I’m mentioning it because I am proud I talked the sales guy down $500 on the price.  The install guys were really nice and also fast, the entire place was done by 4pm.
  • Purchased and installed roller shades.  Again, something that is easier than I expected but also a bit of a pain.
  • Replaced the patio door handle.  These are not standard by the way, took 2 trips to find the right one even with detailed measurements and pictures.  Once I had it, it was a fast job, probably because of all my deadbolt training over the years.
  • Installed a blind on the front window.  Easy once you figure out the clippies and what way goes up.
  • Installed a shower head because a new one was faster than cleaning the old one
  • Last but not least, I scrubbed and scrubbed.  Every door, every switch, the tub was tragic but now much less so, counters, floors, fridge…  She actually left it ‘ok’ but I wanted it to look good.  There was less that 1 trash can full of stuff to put out and a desk was left behind but the new family seems ok to keep it.

That is a long list and I got that done around kid duties, Homecoming week, and I even managed a workout and my own house didn’t devolve into chaos for lack of attention.  The hard work paid off though because upon listing we got a plethora of applicants and my top pick looked at it on Sept 27th and called me that night to take it.  It was a frantic rush at the end because they ended up arriving a day before I expected but I had been trying to be done early anyway so the last hour was frantic but enough and all weekend it felt great to have it off my plate.  When I got rent on Oct 1 with no issues or delays or stories or anything it was better than my birthday!  We didn’t get any rent for September so I’m double happy to see the cash flow after the spending to rehab in the month.

The rental home experience is probably different for everyone, I’ve gotten a ton of hands-on experience as well as a network of professionals I can call on.  The plumbing and electrical I’m doing is more because there is a lack of professionals, but, it also isn’t as hard as it seems if you go step by step and have a pocket computer at hand to look up all the things.  We have been truly lucky with tenants, even the ‘worst’ one was not all that bad.  I tell myself that she honestly saved some sanity because the paint and carpet should have been done a year ago but I was mid move then and had zero energy for the project and she didn’t care about paint or carpet (should have been a sign!) but she did pay rent 13 of 14 months and that counts for a lot.

This week the kids had off Monday so we were lazy around the house and yesterday I got to all the things that had been on hold during the project.  Today I burned nearly the whole day on computer things but October bills are paid, odd things are handled and/or asked about and I’m moving on to the next big set of projects – garden shed and driveway expansion.  Both are started and both are stalled but now both are going to get some special attention and I hope to have progress on them soon.

All the things

I missed recording a few things in my crazy little life here.

Most importantly; #2 is now 9!  As we say ‘It’s time for 9″.  She claims she had to wait FOREVER for her birthday and all her friends are older, however, given the number of birthday parties we have attended for her friends this month, she was born peak season.  We did another sleepover with a fun painting project to pass the time.  All the girls did great with everything and eventually went to sleep.  The party was on a Friday night to have a prayer of fitting into graduation/recital season and we actually had everyone attend and the bonus was we still had the weekend.  On her real birthday, we had lunch together at school and she skipped jujitsu to hang out with me and then we went for sushi.  It was a full day and I think she enjoyed it.


9 year olds love puppies

Speaking of parties – in the past 2 weeks, we have had 4 kid birthday parties, a house warming, a bridging ceremony, a graduation, and 2 grad parties that we got to.  It has been an intensely social couple of weeks.  Most of these were in succession, going from one to the next to the next.  A few were concurrent where we dropped a kid at a birthday and went to another celebration and back in time to pick up again.  Exhausting but exciting and fun to see so many friends achieving things in their worlds.


On to brownies!

The weather… has been a factor in all things.  Currently, it is raining, again.  Yesterday it was perfect.  That is the way, we get a couple gorgeous days and a couple soggy days.  I have two lists at all times; things to do outside and things to do inside.  It also has been mild to cool here still.  I know other places are melting already but we are still using layers.  I wonder if I can ever put away all the winter?

Remember when I said I was doing a lot of field trips this month?  This past week I went on a 3 day trip ‘up north’ with the 5th grade.  It was thoroughly educational and the staff at the place was incredibly good with kids and making science exciting.  Every activity had a running dialogue of history and science and social interactions that was like sneaking veggies into a cookie.  We spent tons of time in the woods, in the ponds looking at micro-organisms, and even some classroom time.  They have a magic formula going up there I’m glad to have participated in.  It was worth the time, however, three days away still has a price in things NOT done elsewhere and it was also not exactly relaxing keeping track of 130 kids.


on top of a 4 story high observation tower


a view of some of the 6000 archers in the preserve we visited

We also got a new minivan.  This was a process that spanned about 4 months but we finally got it this Saturday.  It is still a little amazing to be in, so new and full of tech to learn.  We decided on the Pacifica – great safety and stats – but we needed one that had 6 seats in the back.  That turned out to be a special order but it was worth the wait because since we were factory ordering we could get or leave out any option we wanted so no compromises because it was ‘on the lot’.  I listed our Oddysey and hope it sells to a nice person.  That will be its own post someday because it truly was a good car.  We have always done a trade in so it is odd to still have our old car too.

Between parties and rain storms, we have gotten more of the play set up, I added monkey bars and then a flip bar that is both fun and helps keep the system stable.  The kids are enjoying it both for its built purpose of swing/monkey bar/flip and also as a centerpiece of imagination games that I can’t even start to describe.  Let’s just say my 3 have no shortage of crazy imagination scenarios that they can play all day. This set lures them out of the house.  There is still a list of building projects not to mention yard work in general.  We did get our yard mowed.  Note I didn’t say grass…. we are waiting on the builders to finish some drainage fixes so we didn’t plant yet, however, plenty of volunteer green items were filling the void and we mowed them to a socially acceptable level.  Next year we might have grass… maybe.


monkey bars and flip bar.  May they never lack for upper body strength

Sports were dominant this month with #1 doing track and #2 doing softball and #3 doing gymnastics and they were all stacked on Monday and Tuesday making them crazy afternoons. We survived though, the last track meet was Monday and #1 did very well.  She was 3rd overall for the 800m and had fun on all her events.  Everyone got t-shirts and ribbons and I got to see parent friends from all over I wasn’t expecting. Now we ‘just’ have softball and gymnastics (and jujitsu) but the schedule is much less crazy.

Last but not least, I looked and there are less 2 weeks of school left.  This year flew by but we did do quite a lot so we earned our summer.  The next 2 weeks are full of end of year things, a final field trip, #2 has a wax museum presentation that parents are invited to, and I need to do one last birthday party.

I’m closing in on 1000 words here so that is plenty to read with your coffee, I will keep ‘blogging’ on my list for inside time and hopefully, I get back to a bit more regular schedule when things click over to summer life.

ps.  while uploading pictures I was reminded that I also went to school for their field day, a 5th-grade concert that was actually really good, we dealt with our first major behavior in school issue, we attended the agriculture fair at the high school and got to pet the baby goats and I helped a friend rehab and stage his house to sell – reminding me I don’t really like packing but packing someone else is more fun.  Now I don’t feel so bad about the basket of towels that just never seems to get folded.


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.


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.