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
This isn’t really the place for all the writing needed for politics. I suppose it could be…. but I’m choosing to keep my political stuff for my campaign 99% on facebook on a special page just for it. It does tend to pull time away from here though, just like any topic I don’t want to post here, I end up not posting at all.
Any-hoo – life has been a little crazy. Last weekend we went to a wedding and it was one of the most pretty and well done weddings I’ve been to. Probably because it was at a resort that was in the middle of nowhere so we were there with a ton of people we know and no other agenda but hang out. The key might have been that there were actually very few wedding activities so lots of free time. The resort was built in the 40’s and 50’s and other than necessary modernizations it is a time capsule. I told the kids it would be like how grandma went on vacation when she was a little girl. There were cabins and quaint stoves and tiny cabinets and a beach and overall a mellow vibe. My kids were 3 of 10 flower children and they had a great time with the crew of kids. The dresses turned out great overall and in a group you didn’t notice any one individual.
I was absolutely worn out by the weekend and various interactions and packed us up eary to leave so we actually had time at home on Sunday. I was so tired I went to sleep at 9:30pm and woke up at 6:30am.
Contributing to the crazy of last week was a fundraiser for technology in the schools – something I totally support. We treated it like a ‘date’ and had a great time but that night led directly into the crazy weekend so it was 3 nights in a row of being ‘on’.
Back to the ‘normal’ week and I’m slowly getting a routine. A very odd unforeseen circumstance has come up – the sun rises directly in my face when sitting at my desk. This makes morning work really impossible until I figure out shades. The to-do list for the house is still giant but got to make that one more of a priority. I have become fond of cloudy mornings though, funny how things happen.
Knocking around in my head are all the books I’ve managed to read over the past few months, I need to get back to talking about them and my blog friend posted about her summer reads, bringing that back to the front of my brain.
I’ve gotten my gym membership straight again. We were on a pause for the move and I’m officially back as of tomorrow. Making time for a real workout is important and Vacation Mom and I need it. I’m sure all the people we annoy at the gym because we talk missed us terribly. Thank you, parents, for the good genes that even though I have not worked out properly in months, I’ve kept at a good weight just by watching my intake and being generally active.
The next project to start is garage shelving. There are still things to finish on ongoing projects but new is more fun right? I also need to get them up so I can get space in the garage before it gets cold here.
I have also regained my ‘commute’ when I drive to/from the school I get to listen to NPR. I loved tuning in to the supreme court confirmation hearings last week and I usually catch a good segment one way or the other. Today though I missed my grandmother (who I also used to call weekly while I drove) because the topic was feminism. It is a big topic to unpack and the goal if this segment was to highlight the inequality in race and feminism. That is something I would have loved to talk with her about and I’m just going to have to settle for thinking about it. Maybe posting about it sometime.
How are you all doing?
In case you ARE interested in the politics
Here is a link to my facebook if you want to read
I am very lucky to have the time, funds, and support to do some crazy trips and this one definitely counts.
If you recall, Lars drove out with us and then returned home via Frontier Air (new route and pretty good, hope it stays). This left the kids and me in NY and we filled our time with friends and relatives and general good visiting things. My mom volunteered to help drive us all back and I planned an alternative way back.
So from our house in MN to my parents in NY is 17 driving hours with no traffic. We have done the trip many times and it goes more or less straight west across the country and then go north at Chicago and North West over to MN. The plan this time was to go North first and then drive West for a total of 20 driving hours. We angled North and had dinner with relatives and they outdid themselves with a giant meal. They also drove the extra 15min north to show us Lake Ontario, one of the Great Lakes. We hugged goodbye and drove west toward Buffalo and spent the night at a hotel.
The hotel was not the best… it had issues but nothing I could not look past until poor Fiona rejected the giant dinner and dessert and car treats and threw up on the floor and on the closed toilet lid. Not cool. Not at all. I called the front desk and apologized and asked for some supplies to clean and their offering was 3 washcloths and a spray. yeah. That was not enough. Mom got them to hand over a bucket and a vacuum but hey, gloves might have been nice, or paper towels or a trash can? I got it clean and as I was cleaning I got their floor cleaner then it started. Oh well, they do not get 5 stars. We moved on in the morning after a decent sleep to see one of the natural wonders of the world Niagara Falls. We got super lucky with a 30min break in the rain right went we got there so short trip but worth it.
I wish I had preplanned because it would have saved over an hour if we could have driven through Canada but we had no documents for the kids and given the policy right now I’m not even going near a border if I can help it. The travel program kept telling us there was “a faster route” for over 50 miles and finally, quit when we had driven far enough around Lake Erie for it to give up and let us go. The next stop was to see friends who are making a go of the homesteading thing. They are clearing land and using the trees to build their home as well as using the land for naturalized farming (using what will grow there rather than clearing). We saw their adventure and then went to dinner at a nice place nearby. The hotel was 2 hours north so we reluctantly left at dark, and that far north it was nearly 10pm, and tucked sleeping kids into a nice little travel hotel at midnight.
The final day of our driving took us on the car ferry across Lake Michigan, the third Great lake in as many days. I’m conflicted about the ferry. It was a very nice ship with great fun things like movies and a kid room and bingo and trivia as well as 3 places to eat and a bar and lots of nice places to sit and watch the water. These lakes are GIANT, I could see no land in any direction after we lost sight of the shore for over an hour and we were going across the shortest part. The negative is that it is expensive and only saves about an hour of drive time, however, you are going the equivalent of 4 hours down the road with nobody driving. Timing is also fixed and while it worked for us this time, it might not really in the future. Still, worth the experience and by day three we could use a driving break.
The last little bit of the trip, a mere 4 hours, went well and we got home to a nice dinner and a tidy house thanks to Lars (and vacation mom).
We were not exactly ‘back to normal’ because my mom stayed with us for a week so we had a different sort of vacation where we want to maximize the grandma time. We spent our time talking about things to come and house plans and getting some things planned. We went to the Zoo and the splash pad and one night Mom watched the girls so Lars and I could go out for his birthday and on Saturday we drove up to Duluth to get our 4th great lake viewed. Lake Superior is 5% of the surface water for the entire planet and is an impressive sight. We did the lake walk that is a couple miles along the shore with various historical markers then visited a very short lighthouse. Prima came along this time and was an icebreaker as everyone remarks on the cuteness and smallness of our dog. She made the walk through and slept well that night.
Mom left yesterday and today I moved into the next phase of the move where I really buckle down and get details done. I updated addresses for next months bills as I paid this month and arranged for service switches etc. Lars thought I was doing it too early but #1 its easier to just call as I pay each bill and #2 I found out it takes up to 2 weeks for the internet to be installed at a new construction. Glad I started early! This week we deliver the things we have been collecting like lights and hardware because next week they start installing things like that. Pretty soon things will really look like a house in there.
There you go, 2 weeks travel in about 1000 words. Time to get back to my to-do list and tomorrow is a holiday so if I want it off I need to finish.
Yesterday we went off to the noted museum in new york; The Cloisters. I have never been there because it is in a very hard part of the city to get to, and, it is a very niche collection so when given a choice of how to spend time we always choose to be more downtown and get to see more in the day. This time we decided we were going and set out on the 1.5h drive (that took 2.5) and lucked out with a great parking spot and also a very pretty day.
The cloisters is basically a 14th and 15th-century European collection so I had told the kids that “everything you see in this museum we can do in the SCA” (the history group we do). Convincing kids museums are fun isn’t ever easy unless there is a dinosaur involved but they are getting better at appreciating. Anyway, the big surprise when we walked in was that they are doing a modern art exhibit for closing inspired by the collection.
Yup… that was a weird mix of awesome and fail at the same time.
The dresses were outstanding, showing that high-end designers, when asked to make wearable art, can absolutely do it 110%. They were also displayed perfectly in the spaces, truly showing that someone in charge was both artistic and skilled.
I didn’t go crazy with pictures because I know I can get better detail from the online catalogs but seeing them in person is something special. The unicorn tapestries were all they are ever hyped to be and recently reading a book they featured in made them more real to the kids. Overall, having the kids do math about the items impressed them that they were inches away from things created 900 years ago. To my European readers, I know, your post office is probably 900 years old but for us that is pretty impressive.
The other excellent thing about this museum is that the building IS part of the exhibit. Every door and window and most of the stones are from 14th and 15th-century monasteries. I wish I had more time to look at everything but the impressive part that I’ll carry forward in my life is the walled garden. I always thought the walls would make too much shade but this shows that plants in the center do very well and there is nice shade around the edges for sitting and looking at the garden. Given I will be in a place with lots of land I may be experimenting with the concept since it will be a good way to keep out the wildlife and also create an interesting structure on our flat rectangle of land.
We left the pocket universe of the Cloisters and headed back and as if we needed more reasons not to live in the crazy land of long island we took nearly 4 hours to get back. To give perspective, we can drive to the close part of Canada from our house in the same amount of time. It did give me an opportunity to get a nice landscape picture while stopped on the bridge so that’s good at least.
The day was not lost at all. One of the very very best things about visiting family is that there are more adults in the system so things get handled. My sister turned up at parents house and created dinner that was 10 min from done when we walked int. Way better than facing dinner decisions after 4 road fried hours. We topped off the night with a visit to the big boat with friends and floated at dock while the kids played and generally had fun.
Today Lars when home and now we enter into phase 2 of vacation – the solo mom adventure.
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.
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.
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 🙂
Our city is hosting a giant (American) Football game this weekend and that is great news for the travel industry. There was a short tense moment when it looked like in a crazy twist, the home team would win their way into the Super Bowl, meaning great things for local fans but cutting the possible earnings by 50% because we would only be attracting one team’s worth of out of town visitors. The Vikings didn’t let me down (like their true fans) when they did not win and thus economic goals did. The team that beat them is actually one I have a soft spot for. Can’t go so far as to say fan because I know next to nothing about them but they are beloved by many people I like from my college days so I’m happy they are happy.
Anway! What does this mean for us? Well, first the once in a lifetime opportunity to go see the spectacle that is a Superbowl village. MN transformed our downtown prediction street into an open-air festival. Tons of inside space was transformed into venue area and we spent a very nice half-day playing tourist and seeing all the fun.
(can’t caption the video but look how fun! Like a pro he is)
The real adventure in capitalism is that we took the leap into Air B&B land to rent out our guest room. I have toyed with the idea over the years, we do have a nice guest room that is dedicated to guests. I started the listing and then stopped, full of the nagging doubts that trying anything new has swirled around it. Then a person from Air B&B actually called me to ask if I needed help or had questions. That is a real mark of both service and anticipated demand in the area so I held my breath and just did it.
In for a penny, in for a pound, we also listed Niamh’s room since it is next to the guest room and both are on a different level so easy to have a ‘guest floor’ with a living room and bathroom and 2 bedrooms. Upon the advice of Air B&B man, I listed each room separately and within 3 hours my first room was booked. A day later the other was too. Today our first guests arrive and I’m excited!
I’m going to focus on the exciting part but yes, I’m nervous too. I’m letting strangers into the house with my family and all our stuff. I need to arrange my week to accommodate being here when needed. I’m kicking my kids out of a quarter of the house. I have to push away the media fed fears of crazy people and rely on the goodness of the general person.
I’ve learned fast about how the system worked and after a mistake on the first round, I priced things so that it is worth my trouble. In an odd way, I’m getting paid to clean my own house because cash is an incentive to actually get the rooms in order. Niamh is getting her share, I’m giving her $30 to vacate her room and sleep in ours. Good thing we have a big closet and she is pretty excited to camp out in it. The other girls’ opportunity up the opportunity to earn. There is $2 each per day on the line for being good and helpful, Zoe is taking it quite seriously.
The only thing I have not totally worked out is what do we do with our earnings from this side venture? Should I be a great parent and split it into the kid’s savings accounts? Should we use it to go out to a really nice dinner? Do we save it for a fun vacation fund? I have no idea if post Superbowl there will be much demand for our guest room so this might just be a small windfall but hey, money is money.
Now I need to get back to the hostess game and make sure our house is visitor ready. Let me know what you would do with a little windfall you don’t actually have to use for bills.