Tag Archive | Summer

Summer of 6 Part II

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:

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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)

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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.img_1619

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.

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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.img_1504

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.

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Everyone enjoyed our only rainy day at the bowling ally.

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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.

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#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.

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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’.

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Obligatory sunset over the lake.  They swam in this one too

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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.img_1712

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

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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.

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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,

In this summer week

I felt like we got ‘nothing done’ but in reality we did tons, just did not finish any of the big things on the list.

Hot news first; Zoe and her softball team won their division!  They did not have a great record but it was actually a lot like a tv show.  At first the scrappy team of new girls learn to get along.  Then they have some early success but a long string of losses.  Some losses were close, some really not close – there were tears and talks about how they like seeing their friends and being on a team and learning the game.  Games were rained out, rescheduled, and we parents became acquainted with each other as we spent hours sitting together.  Finally, the day of the tournament everyone tried so hard and had practiced and through some really lucky hits and catches we found ourselves in the finals.  They were overjoyed and nervous as all eyes were on them.  Zoe made a fantastic catch for an out.  The pitcher reached deep and struck out a few girls.  Finally, the last girl hit the ball very short and our catcher got it and tagged home base as the runner was coming at her BUT it wasn’t a force situation (meaning nobody was going to 3rd so that runner could have gone back to safety) and in that situation, you have to tag the runner.  Neither girl knew what to do but about 50 adults were screaming at them and they were in a semi-frozen standoff on the 3rd baseline and finally, our catcher ran nearly to 3rd base and tagged the girl.  It was over!  It was exciting!  Nobody cried!  There were trophies!

Softball may never be as exciting at this fresh first year but Zoe is already excited to play next year.  The coach is willing to stay, the girls seem happy, and in my opinion, knowing what we are doing will only help us do better.  We were supposed to be in South Dakota with friends but since they couldn’t make it we choose not to go and I’m really glad we had the opportunity to do this tournament.

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the last run of the game for the team, next girl got out, next inning it was over!

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National anthem time, 

The other major theme of the week was getting #1 ready to go to her fancy science camp.  It has a dress code so we have been collecting the dullest clothing out there.  I updated her medical to show she has a broken arm, I hope it does not impact her ability to participate.  I’m double glad this year is a science camp since last year was rock climbing!  It is her first sleep-away camp and we are not all that nervous (yet) tomorrow might be different.  It is a little odd that I’ll be bringing her to the University campus, I had felt that was still a few years off, but it is a great choice for an academic camp since it is pretty empty of normal students during the summer.  Tomorrow’s instagram will show us dropping the happy camper for sure.

The other major thing #1 had to accomplish pre-camp was more or less moving out of her room because her boy cousins are coming for a few week visit starting Monday.  She might be bumped from her room but she does get a mom super clean in the deal.  Technically she was ‘helping’ but after enough help she slunk away to play really nicely with her sisters and I just did it my self – much easier actually.  I could throw away trash without discussion and now it looks neat as a pin.  It helps I put most of her ‘stuff’ in a box in the closet to be gone through when she returns.  However, only one bag of trash and one box of stuff is pretty good all things considered.

Did I bury the lead?  Yes, I’m importing 3 extra kids for the next few weeks so their parents can do a few super cool/important things that happened to overlap.  It was stressing my sister out so I just volunteered and now she can do her thing, he can do his and all the cousins can cavort like wild monkies here.  I think these Texans might really like it up here, I looked at the forecast and our temp for the next 15 days is between 60 and 90, and, where they live I saw a 105 on their list… that is super hot.  My mom is also coming to visit the crew at the end of week 1 and we are filling our time up fast so I’m sure it will be super fun.

The other days this week we had lunch with friends to celebrate the end of Ramadan (observed), we achieved passport submission so now we can travel internationally, celebrated our friends birthday with a middle of the day cake, #1 cut a foot of hair (and still has long hair) and the other two were trimmed up and we managed to get to the pool a couple times.  Books have been read, math practice done, food made and consumed, 168 stupid fights started and ended, yard mowed, and, we downloaded the harry potter themed Pokemon/Ingress game.  When I list it out it looks pretty cool, I wish it didn’t feel like a frantic paddle to stay above water half the time.

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trying on a new uniform skirt, and, sporting hair.  No, not crying just shy!

Ok, the longest day of the year here, it is nearly 7 and absolutely still bright.  I’ll go chip away a little more at the pagoda project of never-endingness.  Projects like this make me feel like I get nowhere but when they are finally done the impact will be worth it!

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

 

Vacation P2 nearly done

The post-Lars part of our time in NY is nearly over but we have made the most of it.  My family and friends in NY have been great and I’ve enjoyed seeing who we can see.  The kids have not been to bed near bedtime in days and there has been tons of visiting and driving.  We haven’t done anything ‘grand’ and vacation like other than the trip to the cloisters, however, I love our playground time with friends and backyard bbq and just being around people.

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Last weekend we did adventure out to NJ to a family birthday for my great aunt’s 90’th birthday and informal family reunion.  I’m reminded I actually do have relatives in MN and also MI and it is on me that I have not seen more of them.  Well, can only go forward and do better when we get back.  The funny part of the party was seeing how tall I am compared to my ethnically Maltese family, as island people they just top out at 5ft tall, so I tower above them.

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Sunday, fathers day, we face timed with Lars and went sailing with dad and in between hung out and brunched with high school friends who have all become great parents in their own rights.  Monday we had to wait for kids to actually wake up and then we went to my sister Josie’s house where we generally hung out and started to build the most annoying shed ever.  I told Lars about it that night and he reminded me of when a friend got so frustrated at a shed he was building that he destroyed it in a fit of rage Hulk style and now I understand why.  It was still fun to just have a day with my sister doing normal stuff.  Our Monday evening plans were 20 min away at Miss Math’s house  where we ate dinner and kids played and we talked and her husband hid to avoid the girl talk.  Another late night but worth it!

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Yesterday I tried to find hardware for the house but the place we went was more disorganized showroom than a place to find a deal but Miss Math joined me so it was worth the trip.  Then to make sure there was fun in the day, we went to find the ice cream truck.  Note I say “go find” because in NY they roam the streets and if you EVER come out of your house you get a permanent star on his route map and that truck will come back 5x a day all summer.  Unless you want a daily discussion about ice cream and its relation to dinner/lunch/cash/diet never let the truck know where you live.  The park was lovely and there was shade and a breeze and #3 godfather made an appearance and the kids got icecream sticky and we were just walking home when we met up with Aunt Josie (I had her kids) and home we went to meet more friends for games and eat dinner.

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Today was a grand day where things just fell into place.  Our original plans fell through so we were gifted use of a state park pass and a 75 degree and sunny day to use it.  Niamh was the late sleeper today so we were just about ready to go when my dad had a break in his day so we kidnapped him to go walk a couple miles on the beach.  We did the boardwalk and then up the lighthouse and back along the beach splashing in the Atlantic.  It was just the perfect size outing for the beach and we got home just in time to get Chase from school and for Miss Math to pop in for a quick visit.  We went over to my aunts for a general garden tour and play time and ended up doing dinner and seeing my cousin who usually works far later.  Josie met up with us (I had her kids again) and back to grandma’s for our first quiet evening in ages.  I plan on going out to see another friend tonight and starting the packing process because after tomorrow we hit the road again for vacation part 3; the road trip home.

Tomorrow should be a good one, our plans include seeing friends one more time, dinner on the big boat, and a cousin sleepover so get every last moment together.  Somewhere in that time I need to find all our stuff and get it back in a car shaped package and point my brain back at the things that need doing to get us home again.

Postcards from our travel

Last week Friday we packed up the minivan and hit the road after work.  The kids are getting pretty well trained and I have to say this was one of the best trips for travel behaviors yet.  The combo of learning to read, and, lifelong training meant that while it was still a loooong trip, nobody wanted to abandon anyone on the side of the road at any time.

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We spent Friday night in a Chicago hotel, and Saturday in an eastern PA one.  We made good enough time that the kids got some pool time in PA and the next morning we visited with family in the area and then back on the road to my parents’ house.  Traffic was not perfect,  it never is, but, only added on a little over an hour so all in all it was a 20 driving hour trip.

Once we got here my only plan was to be here.  We have been making plans as we go but given that we are on vacation and nobody else is, we have plenty of chill time.  There is a big 90th birthday reunion style party this weekend that since we are here we will go to. I’ve learned from being away that where there is a chance to see everyone, take it.  You never know when the next one will come and for some of the people who are in their late 80’s I way prefer to visit them now then regret the loss when it is too late.   I’m lucky that I enjoy 90% of my family and even the crazy 10% are not offensive, just not my preferred brand of crazy.

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On the vacation bucket list we have gotten out on the big boat, had a cousin sleep over party, gone out for ice cream, and played in the parks.  Its a bit cold for the beach but maybe next week.  Just like most times you visit family, it isn’t truly a ‘vacation’ it is just living life in a different place with fewer responsibilities.  I am glad we are here now, it is a great break from house packing at the very least 🙂

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How is packing going?

I’ve been posting a bunch about the new house.  I’ve been posting about the summer.  I didn’t know people were actually interested in my packing progress but I got a few questions so why not!  Here is a packing post.

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looks worse before it looks better… how 3 kids pack

Lets set the scene; This house has 5 people in it full time and a small dog.  3 children who require feeding and activities and a husband who is working full time so while his body is in the building, he is not available for help in general.  He does take them to Jujitsu for 2 hours 2x a week so that is ‘my time’ and I’m using it to pack these days.

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what a helpful dog!

We also have the VERY good fortune of being able to live here until late July and our new house will be done in early Aug so we are going to go live in a tent for a week.  That means that I can’t quite put the packing machine if full swing or we will be 5 people in an empty house for longer than necessary.

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is it too early to pack the kids?

Since we have 3 weeks between needing to be out of this house and can be in the new one, we are getting a storage container that will live on our new land until we can unpack.  Not the traditional ‘put it in a truck’ but more in line with how cross country/military movers take your stuff and you follow, but, you are without your household goods for a week or 2 while it is in transit.

Method

My military sister had great tips.

  1. clear out a room 100%.  In that room put what you DO NOT want packed.  For us that is the stuff we need for about 2 weeks on vacation.
  2. Zone/type pack.  I did shoes yesterday as a ‘type pack’ and the day before I did ‘guest room’ as zone pack.

Who’s helping? I am involving the kids rather than trying to do it around them.  They have a 1 box a day goal and they are surprising me by what they are willing to put away for 2 months.

Keep/donate/toss; I’m sure you can guess, not everything is making the move, every packing project starts with a trash bag and a donate bag.

Tools; Packing would be 2x faster if my tape gun and sharpie had locator tags, I lose them constantly…  I’m trying to be better by using a plastic bin as my ‘toolbox’ and it holds the labels, marker and tape gun.  Even if I just put them there at the end of a packing session I’m better off then if they get left ‘somewhere’.

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building a box wall – that white tray on top is my ‘toolbox’

Timeline

June; In order to not pack everyone up too early, we are going to visit my family in NY for 10 days – leaving this Friday and coming back the last week of June.  We have started though….

July;

Week 1 and 2 – more general packing and enjoying the holiday etc

Week 3 – disassembly of things that can disassemble – container arrives on July 20

Week 4 – Monday; movers for all the big things  Tuesday; we finish what is left.  Wednesday beds and last bits into the container and it goes away via big truck, we move in with friends for 2 nights.  Thursday clean the empty house.  Friday close/go on vacation.

I tried to make the timeline to suit our life and keeping it as ‘normal’ as possible and we actually have a really long time to get the work done.  That can be a positive or a negative because I can’t just wholesale pack until the very end.   For the last 2 weeks the kids will be in all day camps so we can focus.  I need to build in a few nice things for a date night but the fine details can happen as they happen.

I probably won’t bore the world with another ‘how I’m packing’ post but who knows what will pop up on Instagram on the subject.  There is something satisfying about a totally empty closet or the box wall growing.