Today I opened my laptop for the first time in nearly 2 weeks. It sounded like a pinball machine dinging with all the alerts and messages that it had qued up in its little body. I’ve been having a great time with just my phone, a few facebook posts, skim the emails for anything urgent and basically back in the bag.
I’m on our traditional 2-week camping adventure in PA. Every year is a little different, every year it is nicely the same. I can nearly walk the site with my eyes closed but each year there are new areas I become more acquainted with. This year I got to participate in a cool ceremony for a person I think is great, it was a once in a lifetime experience and I’m am so glad I was in a position to do it. This year is also 100% less stressful. Sure, still a bit of stress over this or that – a difficult person, random drama, or, an uncontrollable situation but since I’m not at max stress from moving it is all much more manageable.
Why do I vacation in a place that is built to be not relaxing? I’m trying harder this year to take a break here and there but old habits die hard.
The positives, aside from the role I got to play included giving a fun camp tour, watching my kids excel at boffer, seeing my kingdom have a great time on the field, seeing two friends new babies, tons of time to have conversations with friends from various points in my life, I’ve helped a few people out, built a great camp, attended a class I’ve been meaning to get to and even the weather has been really pretty good. The kids have hit a milestone of being able to be (even) more independent and it is very nice to know they are happy and taken care of by our fabulous nanny, and, she isn’t frazzled because they are overall less needy. We are growing into the tween phase that includes boys stopping over but I gave a stern lecture to my camp family against any threats against any boy. The adults do mean well, but, “I’ve got a shovel” is a threat that we need to let go of. It isn’t cool the threaten kids, and, if you don’t mean it (and they really never did) don’t waste your words on something people auto-dismiss. Slowly slowly we can shift away from empty threats that imply our children are helpless. I think the phrase that actually hit home was when I asked them to think about if they had a son and someone said that to them – I’m sure the parents of the boy who has been hanging around did as good a job as me, and, I would be pretty offended if I heard someone threaten my child based on nothing but their age and gender. I also want the kids where I can see them so having the camp that is friendly is one of my goals.
I’m short on my hour of internet here, I got the mundane life details dialed in and the bills paid. No matter how vacation brain I am, bills still need attention and an hour now prevents a ton of problems later. Next up I pack up Lars who could only join us for a few days and then Friday we put this all back it the box and move on to vacation part 2 – the NY phase. I’m visiting family and friends and I can’t wait to see them even though I’ll be missing Lars and the house and pets and friends at home. Pennsic, as always, is a special time and place and I’m glad we can come.
Still Alive! All of us! And back in our original locations
I attempted to write something partway through the experience but if I thought me sitting at a computer was a signal for 3 to line up to ask questions, fight, gush blood and generally interrupt my flow of typing – it was doubled with 6. We also went out more.
There were crazy moments but nothing too crazy. Nobody actually gushed blood, there was one minor fireworks related burn, and I don’t think we wrecked anything too badly with Mr Diabetic/No Gluten. We didn’t even lose anyone or leave anybody behind on any of our many many outings (although it was occasionally tempting).
The positives absolutely outweigh the negatives. We had tons of cousin interaction time where they could just play and get to know each other. Like the magic of adding a friend, there were actually fewer “I’m bored” and general fights then if I just had my 3. We did have quite a few visits from local friends to keep the fresh fun rolling, and, sent a kid off on a playdate a time or two to keep things fun. It totally helped that all 6 are self-sufficient in the basics and 5 of the 6 can be left home alone so grocery shopping was not me + 6 every time (only 3 times, that was plenty).
Ever notice that you do more when you have guests? That was absolutely the case here. We didn’t do some of the ‘normal’ things we do in summer like tennis lessons but we did get the opportunity to get out and show off our awesome state. The cousins are living in Texas, the word hot does not accurately describe their daily weather – I think you can make driveway jerky from the long slow dry heat baking through their neighborhood. Here we hit 85 a couple times but we also went down to 65 and sweatshirts were required. TONs of outside time and I never felt guilty about kicking them out to use up some energy. In our 3 weeks together we:
Went to the MN sculpture garden after picking up #1 from camp. This is ‘the’ famous sculpture for the Twin Cities. (don’t have a clue why)
Hiked the interstate trail from MN to WI and climbed around all over the pothole area on the MN side. Kids hiking is always an adventure, it was only a couple miles but to some of them, it was a very long walk.
We hit the weather jackpot for our Duluth day, sunny but cool and perfect for playing on the shore, building rock sculptures and general sightseeing on the great lake Superior.
We also took a boat tour in Duluth, it was actually cold out on the lake. PS, this is the last we saw of Zoe’s sweater, she left it at the park in Duluth shortly after. I hope someone adopts it.
Lots and lots of trips to our local parks, we were waiting on a particular park to reopen so we went more than once to be disappointed that it *still* wasn’t open but they had fun anyway. Helps that I bring snacks.
Everyone enjoyed our only rainy day at the bowling ally.
Can’t visit the land of 10,000 lakes without swimming in at least 1 or 2. This is one of them and even Prima got in the water.
#1 suggested that we participate in a volunteer event at Feed My Starving Children where we packed food for kids in other countries. Our session packed enough for 65 kids for a year! It was a nice change from frivolous summer or boring regular life and we did a good job working together.
I didn’t get many actual 4th of July pictures because I was IN the parade and they had fun watching. Again a gorgeous day, not too hot and a good breeze. My shoe broke at the very end but that was the only negative. We did the BBQ thing with friends and then local fireworks. This picture is actually from the weekend when we went to a friends house who really really loves 4th of July and the party was fantastic. Over 30 kids all in the right ages, a river to swim in, shade trees, trampoline, as Zoe said: it was ‘paradise’.
Obligatory sunset over the lake. They swam in this one too
They really got into putting mulch in the garden. There may have been icecream bribes mentioned but I didn’t expect the team effort going on. We didn’t get much done around the house over the 3 weeks beyond the basics of food, laundry and dishes but we did get the garden full of weed blocker.
Toward the end, we headed out to the Franconia sculpture garden. It is way more fun than the downtown one. This has stuff you can climb on, walk around and it is more a discovery than a walk in a park. We had not been there in a few years and there are tons of new installations as well as old favorites
Last but not least, we got this kid to his first SCA event. He wanted to fight so badly that it made the day trip worth it. Usually, we camp but this year with the extra kids we didn’t want to worry about overnights. We wished we could stay but their flight was 8am the next day so we had to take what we could get.
Not shown are the trips to the pool, many meals together, tablet and tv time where they all puppy piled together, books traded back and forth, adventure games spread over the entire playroom floor and board games all over the table tops. Sure there were fights and short tempers and some moments where you wonder how they survived on earth this long and my attention was pulled 6 ways at all times but I would do it again for sure.
And now starts the next phase of summer. A two-week interlude before our travels where 1 week all three kids are in summer camp and the next week we need to get ready to be gone for nearly a month. I’m glad I’m not moving like last year,
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.
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
That, and everything in between, about sums up my week last week. Here are the highlights of the fastest week ever because we don’t start slow, we dive in. Also, we fumbled Monday because it was a holiday and felt a lot like a Sunday so it was a busy and short week;
- First day of school! It went well, kids had stuff ready and were super excited to go. So excited they took showers and had dripping wet hair so we had to do some emergency blow drying. Where was the blow dryer? Still in a box, but, we found it. I went with them for the morning to help kids find their way in the new building and it was a joy to see the new building.
- First week of figuring out drop off and pickup and what exactly to do in between. There is not as much time as you think during school but after the longest summer every full of much togetherness, having an hour, followed by ANOTHER hour to do things made me dizzy with possibilities.
- One thing that was top of the list was a set of counter and cabinets that we didn’t have the builder do but needed to be done in order to set the rest of the kitchen up properly. It is not totally done because it does not have the sink and a few details yet but it is done enough for now. I had to really work to make that countertop flush because even brand new houses have non-level walls. Thank you Dad and YouTube. I’ll cut a hole and do the plumbing connections (rough in done by builders) sometime. Knobs are on the way and I have the base molding cut but not painted and shelf hardware but not shelves ready. Getting these guys together, level, anchored and looking good to this point took some time so worth a mention in a post.
- Another top of list item was to sew 3 flower girl dresses for a wedding this coming weekend. I got the cutting out done at a friends house because my sewing stuff was MIA. I ended up needing to do a thorough search and rescue for them though because every other pair of scissors I could find were dull as cspan and when I did find them I literally kissed them. I got through 1.5 dresses last week and today finished the half done one and did another half of the final dress. There is a fit component I don’t want to do until I get the body but then they are home so I don’t have time to do the sewing so they wait until the next chunk of time. All three need a little hand sewing but that is what car rides are for. Ps. Pink satin is not an easy first sewing project for the house.
- Friday I put away all the sewing and got ready for friends to visit from ND. They are the perfect houseguests in general but really perfect first house guests. They don’t care that their bedside tables were boxes. They viewed our blank walls and windows as opportunities to brainstorm solutions and it was a pleasure to have them (even if there was puke. Kids puke as often as cats. Your welcome for your daily dose of birth control)
- The event over the weekend had high points and low. I love to see everyone and I adore the two people that are now on the throne and they made the most gorgeous outfits and presence ever – they set the bar so high. The low was some stupid misses that I’m sure I noticed more than anyone else but I my hands were tied to try and fix it so it just left a bad taste. It was still a good event
- Last but not least, I launched my campaign for school board. After the referendum last year this is way less stress. If I don’t win nothing bad happens like when the levy failed and they had to close an elementary school If I do win I’ll be happy to take my turn on the board and making sure good choices are made for the kids in our community. If any of my readers want to help out my cause here is a link for donations. They are anonymous to others but per laws and stuff if you donate $100 or more I need your name, address etc for the report but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. I also went to a school board meeting because I would never ask for a job I don’t have a high awareness of. I can’t believe there are people who run and never come to any meetings?
Now it is a new week and I have a PTO meeting and a fundraising event (for scholarships, not me) and we get to go to a wedding for some of our more fun friends so I’m sure it will be absolutely fabulous.
According to my schedule, this is the major pack week and we are major packing. The boxes are accumulating, the stuff in rooms is disappearing and I have a ‘safe space’ for things not to be moved. I said it before, but, my military sister with 10 moves in her adult life highly recommends emptying a single room and then putting in that room the things that you are personally moving in the car on the last day. For us, that is Lars’s work, and everything going to pennsic.
What better thing to do the weekend before you move? Go camping! A very large part of me didn’t want to go but I’m glad I did. I enjoy seeing everyone, Niamh and Zoe both won their fighting division, Zoe got a fighting award, and despite the soggy hot weather, it was a nice weekend. Vacation mom made it 10x better by showing up and puttering with me at the event and then whisking the kids away in the morning so Lars and I could pack in peace. I took zero pictures the entire weekend but a friend posted this one and I think it captures the beauty of the SCA. Our social club with a renaissance theme. That is my tent in the bottom right, and, you are looking at the battle field where the kids enjoyed many pool noodle fights, bubble blowing, and general joyous noise.
I was actually not wiped out coming home, we got a load from the house to storage, I grocery shopped for camp week lunch and snack and then we just chilled. Monday we got up extra early and got kids to camp and by 10 am, a time we are usually just getting motivated, I was already done with room #1 and rolling forward. I’m so glad we did the camp thing, they are happy, safe, and come home exhausted so I don’t feel bad packing up all their toys.
We took a batch of things to storage yesterday and then went by the house and happened to be there when the builders came in to look at ‘a situation’. I had noticed a ton of little things in the house but not the giant crack in the wall or the fact that the counters were no longer flush to the wall – the cement truck pouring our patio ran into our back wall…. You can’t make this stuff up! He was stung by a bee and hit the gas. The cement company is covering it all and I trust our builders to take down the wall and true up everything again but the worry is this will impact move in. Given I had planned for *something* to go wrong I put our closing on Aug 13, a full 10 days after they said it could be done because if I had to be homeless, I want to go to Pennsic and that is 2 weeks long. I don’t however, want to wait longer because then we run into hotel or staying with people and some legal deadlines on closing documents etc. I am going to hope for the best.
Today my energy is still up, we have a plan and Lars is now working in an empty room on a folding table and I’m back to laptop life. I hope to get the hall closet, kitchen ‘extra’ and clothing done today. I think keeping out 2 weeks worth of outfits should work. I’ll do laundry, it will be fine. I’m undecided on how many towels to keep out, but, if that is the biggest problem in my life I’m ok with that. Back to work for me, hope you all enjoy your day.