Tag Archive | travel

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

I’m Back~

Sorry about the ‘out of office’ but the internet at the resort we were staying at was like the tides… it ebbed and flowed and was not even there sometimes so I took it as a sign to take a full break.  I took such a break that I even turned off all the alarms on my phone – no wake up alarm, no vitamin alarm (forgot mine anyway), no alarm for bed or anything else at all.  That does not mean that I slept in because Fiona is a very natural and un-ignorable clock but it was nice to only loosely live by the clock.

Disregarding care for the actual time was also nice because of time zone swap and for blasted no good daylight savings so we didn’t really know what the time was anyway.  For example, the first morning at the resort Fiona woke up at either 6am (CST+daylight saving) or 5am (CST- daylight saving aka) or 7am (EST-daylight saving) or even 8am (EST+daylight saving) and all those ‘times’ would be ‘right’ enough so I threw in the towel and just got up when she did, put them all to bed after we fed and washed them at night and insisted on naps for those who needed them some time after lunch.  We fed them at semi regular times and had a bag of snacks on hand.  It was not a lazy vacation just one with no regard for the clock.

I’m not sure if anyone is actually interested in the ‘what we did’ minuta of our vacation and for once I did the cool pinterest thing of writing a post card daily of what we did so I have a record other than the blog.  But, for those interested and for myself if I lose the cards here is the brief agenda and later today I’ll be uploading my pictures so feel free to flip through.

Thursday – left at 12:30 and picked up Niamh from school giving her semi celebrity status with her class.  We got to our goal stop in IL and spent the night.  That night was god-awful with all the kids being whiney messes and nobody wanting to sleep and I nearly turned back but we did much better for the remainder of the trip.

Friday – woke up and hit the road early, stopped at Superman in Metropolis (per plan) and tromped in the snow to hug is legs of bronze (not steal, what were they thinking?).  Pressed on through sucky-kentucky that had a bit of snow and a million people who could not deal with it.  There was actually flipped cars on fire and the national guard pulling cars out of the ditch.  We skidded one time but the biggest hazard was the other people freaking out!  Made it to Huntsville Alabama in good time to enjoy the hotel pool and dinner and go to sleep much more peacefully.

Saturday – back on the road again and after a stop to see the cool rockets (the reason I wanted to stay in Huntsville) and a boondoggle of a treck to find a tea place that is apparently seasonal and this is not the season – we wended our way through the backcountry of Alabama and into Georgia yielding dozens of barns for my Art friend Sal, and finally Florida to find that our original resort was oversold and they moved us (VERY glad I called ahead on that one) and by midnight we were ‘on vacation’.

Sunday we were lazy around the resort for the morning and then headed over to Old Town that was right across the street from where we were supposed to be staying.  I think I’m glad for the location change since Old Town was loud and ‘up all night’ style but a fun enough place to visit.  We ended up catching an awesome close up magic show and Fiona thoroughly enjoyed dancing in the streets.

Monday off to Main Street Disney!  Now we did say we were not doing Disney but there are sections of the park that are open to the public and smaller.  My “no disney” policy was based on the fact that I didn’t want Lars to miss it, the kids are too small for the good rides, and it is too big to do as a single mom and too expensive to do with a nap needing kid.  The little park sections got around the majority of my concerns and other then Lars missing it, it was win-win.  A bit of disney magic was welcome :)

Tuesday we had pre booked a Monster Truck citrus tour and it was super fun too.  I learned a lot about oranges and palm trees and the monster bus was impressive.  The kids enjoyed it until they got too hot and the wagon broke and in the end I was carrying Zoe and Fiona and chanting CAP marching songs to keep me moving.  Niamh was a trooper and my Co-Mom was awesome and we got home and collapsed into the AC and pools but we did eat some very yummy oranges.

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Wednesday we had plans that fell through so we subbed in another day at Disney – Boardwalk this time.  It was fun in a way because it was pretty but it was also devoid of anything fun other then taking pictures.  The highlight was Zoe talking to the gardening crew and the boardwalk cleaning crew and both times getting little Disney figures from them.  She talks to people all the time but Disney does go the extra mile :)

Thursday we got going out to the Atlantic coast and split up a bit.  The girls and I went to visit a HS friend of mine who had a teeny tiny baby to meet and our girls got along fantastically.  It was painful to pull them away but we had to join Becki on the beach for some time on the sand.  An hour at the ocean is plenty for me and we had 2 kids asleep in the car that stayed asleep all the way til morning

Friday – nearing the end!  Hang out and just soak in the sun and pool and playgrounds and a short trip to buy a few souvenirs from one of the million shops on the main strip.  Packed up and ready to go…  Tucking in the girls Zoe got sand in her eye and screamed the house down resulting in her crying and me holding her most of the night.  She was very worried she would never see again but fortunately she believed me that she would.  She also thought it was not fair that it happened to her but eventually she slept and so did I.  Fortunately Becki got a full 8hours so she could drive.

Saturday – started strong with a 6:30 departure and while no kids stayed asleep they were all mellow.  Then Niamh puked.  Then Fiona puked.  (see Zoe? things even out, you didn’t puke).  Niamh is actually a pro at car sick and got it all in a bag but Fiona did not……  Rest stop for the ultimate multitask – change, clean car, get breakfast, get gas, all go potty.  From there it was a nice drive and we got 16h down the road without any other troubles.  The hotel we stayed at reeked of sadness and desperation and the night was not restful (again) but there are slim pickings in southern IL.


Sunday – I zombie the early morning with Fiona and a depressing and fruit fly ridden breakfast hoping to let Becki tank up on an extra hour of sleep.  Thank goodness she likes to drive!  The last 8 hours driving felt like 200 but we made it by 6pm and I collapsed into a heap that made Lars worry but it was really just lack of sleep and messed up eating and my body rebelled with a minor fever that thankfully I slept off and now it is….

Monday again!  Lars took the day to hang with the kids and I did ‘all the things’ I neglected to do in vacation prep and being gone.  Nothing major but just a lot of stuff and the next thing to do is tackle all the e-mail.  Just like a break from a mundane job, I have to sift through the 1000 emails that I didn’t/couldn’t deal with while I was gone.

3 happy things 3/5

My weekly pleasure to pick just 3 happy things.


Thing 1 is from my dad – his yacht club has combined their favorite sport of sailing with his other favorite sport of skiing and ta da!  Ice sailing!  Someone also got pretty creative with flying cameras so it is a cool video (my dad is the one with the all red suit and the epic mustache) and I love the music.  Dad, who did this video, they need credit!

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Sayville yacht club ice sailing



Thing 2

all this stuff


got into this car and there is still room for people (yes… that is a potty….)


Thing 3 – Keep up the good work Orlando!

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I feel like I’m not wearing undies

(but I am…)  But I DON’T have a functional cell phone!!!  Saturday I got a new iPhone (the 6 human not giant size) so my old phone was deactivated from the network.  I should have been able to easily back up my old phone to the PC then put that backup onto the new phone but somehow the new phone won’t acknowledge my ipassword.  Annoying.


I ordered a case online so I am kinda ok that it isn’t fully functional yet.  Case is supposed to arrive today *go Prime!* and for most of my day, my old phone is just fine.  I can read e-mail and look things up and text my family and I don’t really make all that many phone calls usually.  The down side is that I don’t have a phone in my pocket and in the world of not wifi I have nada.


Today I had a playdate at a friends house I had never been to.  No phone.  No GPS.  I have functioned without a smart phone for most of my life so I should be able to handle this….  I looked up the address and mapped it and wrote down on a piece of paper the address, directions and even the street right before her street plus mileage for the big section.  Then I went out the door with a grocery list and my directions just like it was 2002. Oh wait, in 2002 I had a phone at least… I could call if I got lost.  I went out the door like it was 1999!

I went into walmart and it was a gray day.  I left walmart and it was snowing dinnerplates!  Not too bad (yet) so I decided to just go for it.  I put all visions of accidents out of my head and drove.  On the long stretch instead of glancing at my phone, I was glancing at my odometer counting miles – good to know distracted driving isn’t new.  I got there no problem but the whole time I felt like I was missing something critical.

Reverse trip was much easier since the mini blizzard passed and it was still slushy on the road I was much more calm.  Home again and I’m waiting waiting waiting on that case so I can call and trouble shoot my phone and get it into the game.

So odd that for 19 years I didn’t have a phone.  For the next 10 I had a dumb phone.  I’ve only been a smart phone user for 5 years but now I feel naked without it.  I could definitely get used to being out of touch, I am just fine navigating with a regular map or remembering things but life is easier and better when that is a choice not the only reality.

I may blame the snow for not going out again, but, its really my lack of safety net that will keep me safe inside my wifi zone~


So glad we went to the playdate anyway – frost your own cookie!