Tag Archive | travel

On my summer vacation I am

Hey, we made it!  One short day and one long day and a healthy dose of luck and we were pulling into my parents house almost exactly when the GPS said when we set out.  Not bad for all the potty stops, rain and a billion miles.  And now we are here!

We arrived to a much more quiet house then we were expecting because my sister and her kids were attending an emergency funeral on her husbands side of the family.  Not that any funerals are exactly planned but this one was for a person who didn’t get all that long on earth so…  well, at least we can say that every other part of the trip will be better than that.  It was almost funny that they had been waiting for a week for us to arrive and then we waited for them for 2 days and finally everyone was together just in time to celebrate Lars’s birthday!

Ice cream cake with crunchies AND NY pizza would normally make his birthday a total success but for the first time in  ages we were able to go out with a recommendation from my foodie sister to a restaurant with an executive chef (not just a cook) and we were both impressed in general with the experience.  Topped off the night with a board game and that make for a happy man. (and the kids were all sleeping, that was like a cherry on top)

Otherwise our NY vacation –  what I’m calling summer part II – is largely unplanned.  I want to see NY friends and family, go sailing, go to the beach, and enjoy ‘living’ here for a few weeks.  Living is really the right word because I’m joining a gym for a month and Niamh is enrolled in a month of karate and Niamh loved her first class tonight.  When you are toting kids to classes it is living somewhere not vacationing :) Regardless, it is very nice to be able to be here and experiencing this brand of summer.

There is a bit of inborn chaos from all the kids but once you embrace the fact that we are a field trip group it gets easier to just roll with it.

Oh!  I’m also trying something fun with my walks.  Lars and I have been trying to get 2mi walks in daily and given the crazy of the house putting Fiona down for a nap seems unreasonably optimistic I’m combining them.  I’m also seeing if I can make my walking map look like alphabet letters – so far I’ve done A and B

And I’m hopeful that the next few week will be just as good and since I even found a spot to set up my computer I also hope to keep up here too.  (we will see)


so far so good!  Thanks to a few friends I packed and cleaned and never hit the frantic angry wall and we hit the road right on time (after work). We ended up doing VERY well with our random hotel choice- the Residance Inn Marriott Rockford is awesome! For $20ish more dollars a night we get this

That is a door leading to ANOTHER room but it isn’t 2 joined rooms like in a different hotel but it makes all the difference. 

Where has this travel with kids tip been all my life?!?

Not to mention a kitchen and free breakfast… We need to get back on the road shortly but this revelation (while no marriage decision!) was too good not to share. 

Pennsic bound!

Well… ok, Pennsic bound in like a monthish, I’m not going out super early BUT I am going to be there for 2 weeks for the first time since I hardly remember.  Never with kids, not since I moved to MN…  I think maybe 2000?  The first week is awesome in my memory and for all the set up you need to do, being there for 2 full weeks makes it feel worth it.  I’m hopeful that Lars will make it out at some point so he can drive home with me, if not, I’m looking at you mom~  (or we will figure it out, no point in borrowing trouble).  Point was, I finally pre-regged so we are really really going.

Suddenly leaving for NY and then Pennsic have snuck up on me.  Time slides by and we have been doing plenty and there is a big list of things we have not done yet.  We wanted to set up playdates with school friends but I’ve just not gotten that ball rolling.  Today we got the “return or else!” note from the library because we keep doing other things on library day.  There is a brand new pool in the box we need to get opened …. you get the picture.  Relaxing is hard work.  It just hit me I have less than 2 weeks before I’m leaving for 6 weeks – I need to get on the ball with some of the projects.

Today I planned a bit too much fun – The track camp Niamh is in overlaps with the tennis I put Niamh and Zoe it but, as expected, the coach was cool with her missing 30 min.  I also had a playdate at a local park with Moms club and so I dropped Niamh off and headed over there just to turn around in an hour to go get her again.  Luckily #2 and 3 were fine to stay with fellow Moms so I picked up #1 and we all played with 9 other moms and a whole bunch of kids until hunger pains got the kids in the car and we had lunch and rest and THEN we get to go to the dentist!  Fun for all!  Tonight we are having a few friends over and it will be a busy fun full day.  Oh, and because I usually work out on Tuesday nights and that was booked I had to get out of bed and run EARLY today so the jam on toast I just ate is preburned off (that works like that right?).


Ok, off I go to try and sort out summer clothing in 5 different sizes and finish swapping wardrobes before the dentist.  Good luck to me!

Three Things Thursday

Since yesterday I’ve been thinking its Friday.  I have nothing big-big going on this weekend – a birthday party, and maybe some construction and I’m looking forward to a nice Mothers Day but not to much that I need to skip 3 normal days :)    I like Thursday overall, it is my ‘unplanned’ day most weeks so we took our time in the bank and walmart and earlish nap for the meltdown queen.  Before I tackle the next thing, I want to do my 3 things Thursday since its been weeks!

1. We are doing something about Zoe’s nail biting habit.  I read all sorts of solutions out there but a Mom friend said ‘old fashioned sticker chart’ so we talked about it, put on nailpolish, and I printed out a chart.  She was so excited that she has done really really really well.  The key for her was that it had to be on a clipboard, and, she wanted a stamp.  Win and win, I have both in the closet.  Her chosen prize at the end of 10 days is either an Ap or an in ap purchase.  Given that 3 days is a habit I think she has broken it but she tells me that sometimes she still wants to bite them.  If I need to chart for the next 6 months and shell out $20 a dollar at a time thats worth it for me!


2. Buttons.  All of a sudden Fiona can do them!  She says that Daniel Tiger taught her and that just validated all the hours of TV she gets.  IMG_5255

3. I’m still glad about the event I got to go to.  I took 3 pictures total the whole day and 99.9% of the time my phone was away.  Day to day the internet; blogs, facebook, instagram, email is my substitute for actual adult human interaction.  When I’m at an event I’m swimming, positively floating, in interesting interactions!  Real face to face is so much better than facebook!  Other than driving (where I keep my eyes on the road not my phone) and sleeping, I had just about no time that was not full of fun people.  (I also try to keep the technology to a minimum given that it is a historical group).  I’m still feeling ‘full’ from social time, like I had a fantastic meal.  Totally makes up for all the catch up I did the rest of the week.  Two of the three pictures are of this viking boat replica, some crazy people actually sailed it from the east coast to Norway….  Nothing to do with the event I was at but it was in the lobby of the building and is undeniably cool (and crazy)


That is my 3 for this week! If you want to participate or see what other people are glad about for the week go check out Nerdthebrain~

And Back Again

I woke up on Saturday before my alarm, good thing because I accidently set the alarm for pm instead of am…. it has been a long time since I had a non-human alarm clock.  Hit the road and enjoyed being solo for about 15 minutes.  It was a nice drive but 4 hours with nobody to talk to was very very dull.  I got to the event and was so glad to see people I knew who would help me tie the back of my dress and get going with the day.

Timing all day was basically perfect.  I talked to tons of people, visited all the people on vigil (for non SCA people a vigil is a time for a person to sit and contemplate the honor to come, and, to receive visitors formally to give words of congratulations and advice for the road to come.  These guys were getting the equivalent of a black belt and we all know that is a big achievement BUT NOT the end of the road by any means).  I wandered inside just in time for a very tasty lunch and more chatting with more people.  I know it might not seem like it, but, I’m actually a shy person – I have to make a real effort to walk up and sit with people or talk.  The kids make it 100% easier, they are my little icebreakers and I always have someone to sit with, go to the bathroom with, feed, and talk too.  In time I’m sure I’ll get used to having less of a flock to take care of but I felt at loose ends half the day.  The other half was super fun because I got to wear things I can’t wear with the kids around and talk as long as I pleased with anyone.  There was a photographer there and he asked to take my picture, I’m not sure if I should be offended or flattered but he did a ton of photoshop.  I was wearing zero makeup most of the day… look a bit made up here and whats up with my eyes?

The focus of the day was the elevation of these three guys.  Its hard to express how history making this particular court was but imagine the if the NFL created another conference for say Canada or Mexico ps. I have no idea if there is Canadian or Mexican football scene but imagine there was and they were really good but constantly left out and considered a lesser sport.  Imagine that for years they had petitioned to become equal and by petitioned they elevated their game to be absolutely equal to any regular NFL league.  Then 2 months ago the NFL gods declared that finally they would include this new league as an equal contender and yesterday was the first game.  It isn’t exactly like that in the fine details but I feel like that explains how important and big this is because it is just not something that is going to happen many times in a persons life.  The three guys elevated (continuing with the metaphors) are like the first 3 draft picks, the top of the top of our region. Quitting the metaphor now, every group in the SCA was allowed on May 1st to choose their top three candidates to create the premiers of this new order.  I’m pretty happy with the three we picked here, I know one of the premiers in Australia and love him to death.

All in all I was very pleased to be there and very very pleased to speak for the merits of one of them.  I heard my speech went over well.  It is hard to strike the right balance of personal but not too personal a statement to make.  My opinion on what should be said during an elevation ceremony is this –

1. it should be no longer than 60 seconds

2. it should be 90% about the person and 10% about yourself (if any) – too often I’ve heard the ratio go the other way

3. It should not put the person on a perfection pedestal nor deprecatingly joke about them

4. It should speak directly to how this candidate fulfills the criteria you were asked to speak of

Bonus; not a memorized speech, not read from paper, not a ramble off the top of your head

1-3 are actually pretty easy if you just are conscious of them.  Like a toast at a wedding its about them not you but a brief explanation as to why you are giving the toast is totally appropriate and informs the audience. “Joe was my roommate for 6 years and I hope he is my friend forever but today he marries his love Jane and….. all about love….”  It should never be like “I met Joe my freshman year and in the next 6 years we went on a ton of adventures, like that time we did spring break in Daytona or when we hitchhiked to Mexico and lost our passports…”  You see the difference right?

Anyway, for my part I am only qualified to speak as a royal peer; one who has led the kingdom.  The thing is that is probably the biggest bag of mixed fruit because so many different people have been king and queen and we all had different ideas about what was important.  Finding common themes among the queens is not easy, although we all get along well, it is not a cookie cutter set.  Any time I am asked to speak I try to find a virtue or quality that most queens hold in high esteem and talk about how the candidate meets that bar.  This time I talked about the virtue of Faith.  Since I always try to hit the bonus points I tend to give the speech a time or three alone to work out the flow and the points to hit but that means I don’t have a verbatim copy of what I actually said because on the spot I always end up with something just a bit different than what I practiced.  Here is more or less what I said;


Faith is a virtue that all Ladies of the Rose agree on

We have faith in a man to put us on the throne and faith in our kingdom to allow us to lead

When we were new and young we asked Ambrose to be our champion and he had faith that we would be royals he could stand behind

Today I am proud to say I Faith to stand behind him.

The after event – event went by way too fast.  I ended up being the designated driver for a crew and had to rescue someone from jumping into the middle of the street.  It was a series of fun parties and the final one might have been the best overall, double bonus because it was in the hotel I was in so when I noticed it was 3am I could just go fall asleep.  The next morning was odd again because all I had to get ready to go was me and that took about 30 seconds.  Brunch with a few friends and back on the road.  4 hours really feels longer and by the time I got home I was half dead again (not that I was fully alive given the few hours I slept)  There was a fruitless effort to take a nap but the kids were too excited.  Off to the playground to make up for lost parenting time and crashed to bed about 10 minutes after they did.  I had just about zero down time all weekend and today I’m doing all the home things that need to be done.  I’m already looking forward to the next event and figuring out what else needs to get done…  Planting the garden I think, thats a thing I do around mothers day  :)

X – well…. X is for?

Yeah, X, not the normal starting letter of many American words.  I’m spending a ton of time teaching my preschooler to start reading (she is interested, I’m not pushing) and helping my 1st grader get better at reading (I am pushing, she is less interested) and you run into all the silly things about English that are just a bother.  Too many things are just not sound-out-able.  I know because we are a mish mash of latin, french, german and a ton of other languages/dialects/creole/slang that all come together to make American English and with that bag of nuts it is no wonder learning to read is not an easy thing.  I don’t even want to talk about learning to spell….  I’m getting better but I’m over 30 but I vividly remember asking my Mom who invented spelling and she assured me they were long dead and that made me feel slightly better.

Back to X.  There are plenty of words that sound like they start with X but they don’t.  Then there are words that do like xylophone that sound like a Z.  There is XL as an abbreviation for eXtra Lage but I’m working on becoming a small…  People talk about X boyfriends and I really don’t have many of those and I’m on good terms with the majority so I usually call them former boyfriends because I don’t want to put a big X on their faces and X them out of my life – they were just part of a different phase and we all grew and moved on with little or no drama.  Same with workplaces, I might have more issues with former jobs then I do with former boyfriends but I gained so much from those professional associations and situations that I would never X that out either.

I’m going to have to resort to chinese – Xi’an – a massive huge city in central China that I had a wonderful time visiting. Auditing Die Casting and Machining facilities in China has its ups and downs but it is NOT the slum or slave child labor that you see on the news for clothing manufacturing (this is on my mind because of Monday night with John Oliver from this week).  The facilities I visited were large and well maintained and basically staffed by adult men.  I think the reason they have to keep them up is because the machines to do the work are so expensive that you don’t neglect that type of investment.  There are no children there half because (hopefully) better companies realize that child labor is wrong, and half because kids probably can’t lift or reach the big machines.  Some places were equal to what I’ve seen in the US and others were about as good but with fewer safety measures.  The most striking example was when I was watching a machine cycle where a part went in and the multi axis machine made all the fine cuts – I remember being able to see so clearly what the machine was doing and it was very cool.  Then the engineer I was traveling with noted that usually you can’t see that because there is a safety door closed between the operator (and public) and the part.  Oops… well…

In Xi’an apparently my glowing white skin and very femaleness in a mans world was cause for open mouthed stares and work stoppage.  I was always treated nicely and while I know the term ’round eye’ (Gweilo) is not the nicest term, I accept it because yes, I have very very round eyes.  Much like I don’t mind being called a Yankee – fine with me, yup, northern all over.  So other then that, my only other issue with Xi’an china was that the food was very very spicy, their speciality is even called a ‘hot pot’.  Thank goodness I could duck the majority because they mostly ignored me in favor of my male boss who had to take one for the team.  Engineer and I just lived on granola bars…

China 075

Machine center and adult male working it~

I was there for business so I did not get too many pictures but Xi’an is massive so no one picture could describe it anyway.  It is like the state of MN with a city and a country and a waaaaay out there back country but it is all the same ‘city’.  Here are a few Chongqing