Did I say that things would get more quite in September? School has been in for nearly 3 weeks, I should be eating bonbons by now.
First, it took a little to get into the school routine. For anyone who thinks you have ‘tons’ of time while the kids are at school, it is actually 9am drop off, 3:40 pickup – a nominal 6h and 40min. So while I’m technically child-free for 6h and 40m lets chop off 10m for the amount of time you need to dwell in the parking lot so you have a spot. This is a *me* thing, I’m more happy and calm with a few min in the car waiting then rushing or getting there late and worrying about running over a kid in the parking lot. Then take out 45min for commutes and you end up with around 5.5hours to get everything done. Don’t get me wrong, every once in a while that feels like an epic stretch of time. Compared to the time I have in the summer or what time I had with 3 at home it is an amazing gift of minutes and seconds to use as I see fit. BUT. They fill up fast especially because everyone thinks you have tons of time since your kids are in school!
Mini rant finished, I used that first week to actually get out from under the laundry and housekeeping backlog, the storage room is no longer a pit of shame, and the garage isn’t exactly clean but it also isn’t a disaster. In the middle of August, I decided that our renter really didn’t need another year of mutual stress – she is really great but the house was a struggle for her and I was along for the ride like it or not. I’m glad I’ve met her, I wish her well, but I also curse her love of double-sided tape that I’ve been scrubbing off the walls. On the plus side, I already have a painter hired, carpets selected, new (to us) dishwasher waiting on an install and more or less the place was ok. This is a project I’m equipped to handle but it is a ton of non-routine work that I’m bumping any fun projects to get done on the timeline.
Fortune (and a good market) is smiling on us because within a day of listing the place (Tuesday) I had 50 people interested, 10 filled in an application, 3 were fantastic and I’ve offered it to the top already with #2 and #3 informed. If anyone is in the position to be listing a place, and, for my future self here is my method this time;
- List on Facebook Market place, Zillow, and Craigs list
- I would note Craigs list is NOT on future lists, 3 inquiries only and nobody followed up by actually filling in a form
- Zillow yielded 3 however, they have a vetting process for renters where they do a background and credit check and keep on file, very nice perk
- Facebook was the majority for sure and ate my time replying to each and every inquiry
- Once they started pouring in I created a Google Form asking for all the info I felt I needed. Key points for me are monthly income and number of people in the house but I also asked all the reference questions etc. I just googled ‘application form’ and typed up a combo of the questions I felt worked for us
- As with any form, do what you can to add a free answer “other” or “anything else” because you would be truly surprised with the great info that comes from asking an open-ended question. My current #1 bumped someone because of their answer to one of those.
- I answered every inquiry with a copy/paste sentence and link about getting lots of interest, please fill in this form (link). This simplified the process because I basically deleted the 50 conversations and relied on the people who cared enough to fill in a form.
- 2 days post I have modified my reply with ‘we have a list of applicants but if you would like to still be considered (form link)’. I’m still getting requests but this makes me feel better just in case my 3 tops fall through.
Even with my streamlined method, I’ve used an hour or so a day working on the computer to manage it all. The process of choosing contractors was straightforward, for me it was a combo of price and timeline, I filled 2 days with research and interviews and got it done. I’ve been going non stop on this since Monday night and I’m taking a break today because I need it but plan to bring it home this weekend as primary prospect is viewing on Wednesday and I want it to be move-in ready.
For my sanity, even though I should have been doing something more productive for my own house, I did this project that has been on the list for 2 months.
Right now it looks pretty normal, framed print, good size, generic frame.
HOWEVER it is actually an Ikea frame that I flipped so the deeper back is facing out and I filled the entire area with cork so I can pin up kid art more easily, and, change with the seasons.
The frame fell in the spring and broke the front glass but the frame was ok. When I got it I intended to change the art frequently, but, the metal pins holding in the back were fragile enough that they started to wear just changing the print once so I don’t feel bad gluing them in place by putting cork on top of the tabs. It cost $12 in cork tiles because I needed two-pack but I like the way it looks and I hope it will function like I want. Making changing art easy will make me actually do it! Prying apart the frame was certainly not easy.
Other than home stuff, #1 has joined a running club 2x a week and likes it. #2 and #3 are in a new gymnastics gym that is really working them hard, both were put up a level and the coach is teaching them a ton already – 90min class and I get 2 sweaty, happy kids. We went to an event 6h away from home so we made a weekend of it and the weather was perfect fall. School Board stuff is back in full swing with committee meetings and obligations that are fun but do eat up the evening. I need to get on the planning of Halloween and all my favorite fall outings, fingers crossed that the house gets rented easily and I can move on to the next thing that may or may not consist of me building something big, the biggest thing I’ve ever contemplated attempting. I’m getting help but it is still a big one!
And now we are up to date in my world of running around. Hope you all are having a productive fall too.
I must remind myself that this time last year our house didn’t even have sheetrock or toilets so I can’t feel down that we don’t have a brilliant patio, garden, playset, and yard. I’ve been working hard and I can say we do have a fairly cool playset and 1/4 of a garden structure. I got semi-firm timing on when the builders will be able to finish our yard grading and the grass is after that. I know I’ve posted a little about the play structure already but for the sake of complete info, here is a pretty complete summary;
1. I purchased this set* from Amazon since it came with hardware and swings and I didn’t need to reinvent the wheel. It was a good choice and I learned some nice tricks from the instructions that I used in my extra structures. I did need to buy the GIANT drill bit and spade bit but they proved useful in all other parts of my building so an extra $30 well spent. It took me about a week in little bursts to get the base set done. If I just ‘did it’ I estimate 6 hours and you absolutely need a 2nd person for at least one part but I did the vast majority alone. Let’s just say that time in the gym isn’t wasted because I lifted a lot in making this. (*I get nothing from you buying, just telling you what I got)
2. I had this set of monkey bars from when we had them in our old house. I originally thought I would put them from the platform end but once I saw the 3d version I scrapped that plan and moved the monkey bars over to the end. The plan was to use the A at the end for one of the supports to increase stability. This could have been done in about an hour but took me 4 days because of the lack of an hour in a row.
- I measured and dug holes for the other 4x4x8 3 legs based on the anchor of the swing set
- I assembled the bars 17 inches apart on the 2x6x12s set onto a set of saw horses so I didn’t have to use a ladder. This did create a pretty heavy thing to lift up and bolt so my solution was to put a couple screws half way into each leg at about the goal height to lift and prop the monkey bars on top of. It isn’t safe to leave this way so make sure you have time to do at least 3 of the 4 legs or just put it down again.
- With the bars up lifted up (team lift) and resting at the height, we decided on (78 inches) based on the scientific method of having the kids reach/jump and show me where they wanted – I bolted the first ‘corner’ to the swing set using 3/4 x5 bolts and these nifty washers that nail into the wood. I sunk each in about an inch and drilled using my giant drill bit purchased for the swing set.
- From that first point, I leveled the system on leg number 2 (same side, other end). I generally ignored the level left/right at that time and things stayed reasonably steady on their screw rests. I could pretty easily lift the little bit to make it level and then reused the screws to fasten it while I made the bolt hole.
- Turned around and did the 3rd bolt, leveling left/right and repeating the screw, drill, bolt procedure.
- Last leg, I had to level both lengths and left/right but it was pretty easy with the other 3 set tight.
- Finally, I cut scrap to add bracers/steps and attached them.
The monkey bars were a wild success and my monkey children loved it. After a few days it got a left/right wobble on the end away from the swing set. I didn’t use concrete or set them super deep so that would be a good choice if you want to eliminate this issue. Personally, I didn’t concrete because I didn’t know how long this will be up, and, I didn’t want to mess with it. Instead, I added a flip bar to add to the fun, and, stabilize the system.
- I purchased another 4x4x8, a 3/4in 45inch long threaded stainless pipe (they come that way at our store) and 2 floor flanges.
- To be super stable we sunk this 4×4 super deep, so deep we hit water. There is at least 4 feet below the ground (FYI the reason why we don’t have a basement).
- I already had the giant drill and the spade bit from the swing set and I easily drilled a set of holes and banged the pipe through.
- thread on the flange and screw it onto the posts, not like it was going anywhere but now it really isn’t.
The flip bar was actually the easiest thing because I already had the tools and really it was already 1/3 built because it latched onto leg 3 of the monkey bars. Amazing what not going to the store does for the speed of a project.
Future plans for this structure include a balance beam on the other side of the monkey bar to further stabilize, although it is pretty good now. I’m also adding a ninja line at some point too, still researching the right one for us.
If you found this because you want to DIY a backyard swing set or playset this worked for me. I would say I have medium building skills and I read the directions many may times. For the part I ‘made up’ it is all about keeping stuff level and bolting it together. The rest of the yard is not much to look at but the kids have a playset now and that was goal #1 of the yard.
According to my timehop, this week of January is nearly never “good”. There are a few days I had nothing, just nothing, and that is pretty odd for me. For this 3rd week of January I was a touch sick, just sick enough that I was still able to do most things but the color of the world was just lost to me for a few days. I’m not sure if it is the week or a germ or maybe both – my stamina might just run out 2 weeks post holiday extravaganza. All I know is that I wish I could make toast because I like toast but our toaster oven is in storage. I seriously don’t need the oven anymore, just the toast function.
Tuesday was an odd day for us. We had a nice little snow storm on Monday afternoon and the school delayed for 2 hours. That is a strange compromise – not a snow day but not a normal day either. The kids didn’t even know until they questioned why we weren’t getting onto the normal schedule around 8:30 (normally out the door by 8:40). With the extra time they started a game of cribbage, went outside and played in the snow, came inside with soaking wet things so I put it all in the dryer and then they stood on their heads for a while and finally it was time to put on super hot snow gear and get out the door.
Odd morning, what is usually a 9:05 drop off was an 11:05 drop so they more or less went to school to have lunch then play time then snack then home. I think they did some school in there… maybe… Snow is the best toy because went they got home they went directly back to tunneling and building and sliding until it was dark.
Tuesday was also a very odd day because I sang the national anthem 9 times (or more). Niamh’s class was invited to sing at the basketball game and when I asked her that morning if she was ready she admitted to not really knowing all the words. So, we sang. And sang and sang. Lars who works from home was fairly puzzled why he was hearing such a racket but in the end she knew 99% of the words and tune. The game itself was better than expected. We watched the 1st half and spent a lot of the time guessing why something was happening. Around then I was getting a massive headache and we all went home and I went to bed.
**Technically I wrote all of the above on Wednesday morning, however, Fiona came home sick at lunch and I never published. Instead of scrapping it I’m just publishing it late. The week did get significantly better but I still wish I had a toaster, nothing makes looking at snow better than toast and tea. **
Hi! Look at this, 2 days in a row.
Yesterday I went to find the ‘official’ link up and had some trouble. I guess I’m not paying enough attention to the internet, and, I’m not on the “A” list of bloggers so I didn’t get the memo about where the party started. I dug around and found a nice list so that is the one I joined and I plan on visiting my blog list neighbors over the month.
I want to take a second to introduce myself to any new visitors. This is my spot to write down what is going on in my world so when I forget I can look back (and I do often, love the search function). Somehow other people beyond my own family also like to know what goes on is what is in my opinion, a pretty typical American house. I live in Minnesota. It is a state ‘up north’ for us but I’m not sure how the entire country of Canada feels about that phrase. It gets cold her but does not actually snow a ton, our falls and springs are really nice and I like the summer – never gets much above 80f. It is an outdoors type place, lots of hunting and fishing and hiking and camping. I do 1 of the 4 because what I consider camping does not fit the average opinion and I like my food preskinned. I like the state though, I moved here as an adult from New York (near ‘the city’ but not in the metropolis) and I still travel there plenty to see friends and family. Coming full circle, moving is pretty much why I started blogging so my mom and friends would know what I was up to. I started this blog while I was working and when I had my #3 I started the stay at home mom life. I can let you guess what one is harder! Anyway, around here for the next few days you will be subject to my angst at a political race I’m running, election day is next Tuesday. After that, it will be more focused on whatever is going on in my world. I thought stay at home life would be dull but it certainly is not.
Just for kicks – here is my agenda for today
6:30- 8 = computer work for the campaign
8-9:05 = motivate 3 children to dress, eat, brush, remember backpacks, pack lunches, sign homework, get out the door, pick up carpool, deliver 5 kids to school.
9:05-9:20 = the most peace I get all day driving home solo. (This is usually when I call my grandmother)
9:20-9:30 = intake of food while reviewing all the things for the day and then walk the dog
9:30-11 ish = work for people who pay me, campaign, and today blogging
11ish = hot tub w the husband. hey, gotta have the perks! We actually use the time together to make sure we are on the same page on things. Can’t bring a phone into the water so distraction-free time. Plus, it makes me warm and helps sore muscles.
post hot tub to 1 = more computer work interspersed with chores and dog walk and lunch.
1-2ish = today I will attempt to make my hallway look like less like a boot and snow pant explosion. If I get really lucky I’ll make a garage that a car can fit into (this has been an ongoing project for a week)
2-3 = workout – arms day. Also my yacking time with Vacation Mom
3-3:45 = try and avoid the computer and get the laundry sorted out and the kitchen under control.
3:45 – 5 = parent! homework, snacks, referee duty, adviser duty, harass them into doing chores. Be hugged and snuggled, maybe read some books.
5pm – out the door to a voteyes call center event, leaving the kids with dad and a note that he must make them all shower before I get home and a chicken in the oven.
8:30 – start the bedtime process on hopefully clean kids.
9ish – hang out with whoever is here (husband has people over most Thursdays for an ongoing game)
11 – go to sleep, hopefully before 12 at least.
That is the plan. Today’s plan at least. Tomorrows looks similar but not the same. I promise not to post my daily chore list often, just thought it might be fun to note my life at this point – if this inspires someone else let me know, I love to read about real lives of real people.
I had a very productive weekend! Not only did I get quite a few things sewn, I also found all the garb in storage. There was a vague worry that an entire box of the current sizes had been deeply buried in storage but I got it out without too much stress. We might not have perfect wardrobes, but, we will have enough I think.
My plan today is to finish evaluating the pile for who fits what and triple check that each pile is enough of the right things. Have you ever rushed to pack for a trip and just figured you would take your clean laundry basket? That does not work, by the way, you think it should be a perfect week of clothing but it really isn’t. Same concept with my totes of garb, you feel like a pile the height of my child would yield outfits for the week but some years they grow tall and need skirts and some garb is too warm and you get the idea… the only way is to stand there with each child and try on all things in the size range.
The end goal is to have everything packed and delivered to the person packing the trailer by Wednesday. I feel like an important step, the ‘pack the car’ step will be missing from my life this year, but, I have done extra packing plenty of years so I don’t think my lifetime average will be negatively impacted.
Thursday the plan is to have a clean up the house and hang out day. I hope my plans actually work out and there are no crazy departures from the normal schedule the next few days.
This is probably not the wild and crazy fun blog this week. I’m just going to pack and parent. Next thing after I publish here is to make the list for packing, it has been bouncing in my head but with the house rearrangement, there are not as many notebooks as there once were. I have done this dozens of times but it still looks daunting before you start. I may go and buy New Totes! that will jump start the process. My old ones are getting beat up anyway~
Just in case you thought we did nothing fun all weekend we did head out to the mall for a little fun. We had a mission for a special bottle for a friend and since we were at the mall we got milkshakes and went on some rides. Just enough to be fun, not so much that they got crabby. Pizza dinner and back to work but I’m glad to be as far along as I am. All things I sew now are bonus, I don’t totally NEED anything and that is a nice feeling.
I also got a new phone! My old one was 5 years old and the battery was down to almost nothing. I had been hesitating because I like all the info and pictures I have on my old phone and didn’t want to start over but they guy at the store had a transfer machine so my new phone is identical and it feels nice to have a phone working all day again.
I’ll try and take a picture of all that I created this week, I’m pretty pleased with myself 🙂 Now I need to get breakfast and the day going, my ‘screen’ time is up!
I have no idea what I am going to do next summer when I have the oppisate issue of a super long summer, I guess that is going under the category of next year’s problems… This summer is super short and in many ways is half over so each day when we do something it is likely to be the only time we do that particular thing. To make thing just a little more fun there is the side project of keeping the house show-ready and my endless sleeping issues.
When I started this post I had just intended on posting a bit about the stuff we have done but the fact that someone or something wakes me up 2x a night is really starting to grind on me and kill our summer. I’m lucky if I have the energy or patience (my patience is fueled by sleep) to make it past 3pm and that just does not make enough time to do all the things we want to do. The dog is now the weakest link lately because if anything happens during the night she feels like it is morning and will whine to be let out for hours. Yes, I know, don’t give in and in a few days she will stop however after about 45min she actually is awake and need to go to the bathroom and after an hour or so of whining she will have an accident and then she really gets loud. It is like the kid that pukes after 10min of crying, you can’t let them ‘cry it out’ when it always ends in puke. So, Fiona needing bathroom help or Zoe having a bad dream (both happened on Sunday night at 2 and 4 respectively) usually I can be back asleep in 5 min after helping a child but Prima can hear the bustle and she assumes it is morning. Que the whining for the next forever. Last night Lars fell asleep watching TV and at 2am he got up and went to bed – usually that wakes me up for 30 seconds but Prima transforms that into hours. Yesterday I crashed at 3 for an hour but since napping at 3pm is not usual I got phone calls and texts and kids needing a thing. On the other hand, I’m mastering the 10min power nap….
So anyway, I’m tired, what else is new? I should be used to this after 9 years. Moving on~
Earlier in the summer, I said I made a chart that needed to be done before screen time. This has been working out really really well. I’ve seen them for years on Pinterest and other parent sites but until I had 2/3 of the kids reading it was not a good plan for us. Zoe can not only read but is motivated by lists and check boxes and while she admits she is only doing things for the list, I don’t think she actually minds. Since she is doing it Niamh does it too and Fiona more or less wants to do what they do anyway so she follows along. This has also made me feel much better about falling asleep in the afternoon because I know the morning was productive. I was not exactly planning on sleeping but it is a nice side bonus. Since we need to super tidy every morning anyway them doing ‘the list’ gives me the time and a little help in the house and has made it so we can get out and do fun things.
After the crazy mid-week Monday we did get a bunch of little things like oil changes and new tires and grocery shopping stuff and Wednesday we had a friend over and with no prompting, they broke out the science kit and made a multi-color foam volcano. I did not help at all until I heard them getting really experimental (talk of adding diet coke) because it was not fizzy enough but otherwise it was a fun experiment.
Last week Friday we went to the Gibbs family farm, a historic pioneer site with a sod house and the actual farm house from when the family purchased Minnesota territory for 1.25 an acre well before it was a state (the got 150 acres and basically hit the lotto for land with appreciation). It was a ‘farm Friday’ so it was an open day for the public and the theme for the week was farm animals. Other weeks have more interesting themes but this was the only Friday we had. The animal talk was really basic, any kid that has been read the normal kid books about cows going moo, eating grass, giving milk, and having calfs covered the level they were discussing on this tour. The only new piece of info I got was that apparently pigs can be used to break up the soil on a farm by moving their pen around. It was a nice outing made better by meeting a friend who lived nearby because after we did everything in about an hour and a half we went to her house and visited her bunny.
Then we had the real weekend and went to see the totally re-done children’s museum. We have a membership so I hope we can go a few times but even just once was worth it because they have improved the experience and added some new things like the green screen set for older kids. I didn’t get many pictures but if you are wondering the MN Children’s Museum is worth it and can easily fill a day. The only thing that was not as good as they made it sound was the 4 story climbing structure. It is tall, but, it is really just 2 towers of platforms you can go up or down, not really as interactive or cool as most other play areas but it is very solid and clean and there are stairs for parents/bad climbers so that is all good extras.
Sunday we had a lazy morning and then got out and enjoyed the day and finally made it to the Y after a month of being gone. I do miss exercise, I just took it off the list when I was packing and cleaning and then in NY and I don’t really see it becoming regular again until school starts but I hope I get to work out a few times at least.
Yesterday we stole one of our favorite babies for a play date and then did some shopping for our camping trip and then the aforementioned nap. I’m also sewing at a friend’s house to keep this house neat so 3x in the past 2 weeks I’ve commuted to sew for a few hours. It is nice to have people to sew with, I’ll probably still go visit even when I have the ability to make a mess in my own house!
Looking forward we are going camping Friday -Sunday and next week the girls have day camp all week. The following week we go to Pennsic for 2 weeks and then home and school starts?!? This week I need to shop/prep food and pack including getting stuff out of storage… It will all get done somehow. I feel like we are missing the lazy days of summer with going to the beach and pool and playdates but we do what we can~