Tag Archive | travel

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,

Summer of 6 Pt1

Monday night I acquired 3 more kids, my only niece and 2 of my nephews.  It was a late pick up at the airport and claiming unaccompanied minors is not easy but it isn’t hard.  Home far too late but that’s the way it goes.

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Tuesday I had NOTHING planned on purpose.  This was the day to get used to here, to figure out the way, to deal with cranky kids who stayed up too late (that was all of them since mine stayed up excited to see their cousins).  It was a long day but overall fine, nothing out of the ordinary and we did achieve ‘the list’ of things to do pre-electronics.  For a day with no plans I feel like we ran through a ton of things, I was exhausted by 3 and didn’t feel bad about the TV going on because they had biked, played, eaten, read, done chores, and endless other odd little things that amounted to me feeling like air traffic control speaking in  3 different languages.

Wednesday and today were way more ‘normal’ with better moods, easier activities, and we actually went out and that makes the time fly.  Me trying to do anything is hit or miss, but when did I ever really have the luxury of enough time to do a project.  I’m getting decent at putting stuff down mid project, it has been a solid 7 years of major multitasking.

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Today we have our first book club.  My attempt to make a playdate sound smarter.  We invited two friends of #2’s to read a book and then come over to watch the movie.  So far they consumed a metric ton of popcorn but seem to be actually talking book v movie so the seed planted will grow.  Overall success, be it the movie, friends, or popcorn I’ll take the win.  They are now discussing next books to read, Princess Bride seems to be in the lead.

The odd thing about this week is feeling both like I’m missing someone and also having extra kids.  #1 is at sleep-away camp for the first time.  Looks like she is having a great time and I’m happy she is there and I don’t ‘miss’ her but I do miss her being part of my world.  Meals, car, bed, chores etc – I have her in my head automatically and NOT being here makes me feel like I ‘Just’ have 2.  Second, I’m missing the oldest of my sister’s kids, what should be four is ‘only’ 3.  He isn’t as ingrained as #1 in my head but he is missed and the unit is missing him.  On the other hand, I’m up 3, so, 5 kids is still a bunch to feed and manage.

Speaking of feeding… one of the new ones is diabetic and has an app to monitor his sugar.  Boy stats are addicting to me, I monitor this kid and the mysteries of his body chemistry like its my job.  A friend pointed out that I got myself a real-life tamagotchi.  Do you remember the electronic pet?  I nearly got in a car accident messing with the one I was babysitting for a friend.  Really, it is a bit of a game – he goes high get him to run around or adjusts, he goes low, toss an orange at him.  Calculating food and healthy choices are already part of my life but this is like major league.  Once I get a better feel for the trends I’m sure I won’t need to check so much but it is probably my top app at the moment.

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Tomorrow we add back #1 in the afternoon and then pick up my mom at the airport late so our kid to adult ratio is getting better overall.  It is both a fun and exhausting week but I’m glad I can do it.

Other Kate!

3 in a row!  Don’t get spoiled people 😉

I know at least 1 reader out there adores the ongoing saga of my Other Kates.  I’ve collected a few over the past couple months that together make a fun post.

Recently AUKate has generously offered to cover for a coworker, I’m assuming for a good reason like having a baby but who knows with Australia, they get something like 20 weeks of vacation a year.  Anyway, I’m alerted to this by the normal method of reading her misdirected mail.  This alone was not going to make a post but I just got another fun one for her.

AUKate is cordially invited to a holiday party…. in November.  Save the date!  Technically *I* was invited since the invite came to me and a BCC list of what I can only assume are fellow Doctors and Staff but who knows, maybe her hospital is throwing a random invite international party?  Why else give 11 months notice other than to allow for travel.  I should really show up to one of these parties I get invited to.  They don’t give too much info but they do say there will be a dinner, tempting, I’ll see if they follow up with notes about entertainment or an open bar.

UK-Kate has been quiet lately except she signed up for StitchFix and even loaded up her credit card info but not her address and somehow used my email as the login.  I was asked, very nicely via email, to fill in a survey so they could accommodate my taste.  The temptation to go wild was there, but, I’m not that kind of Kate.  I hope she got it straight and they don’t just send her generic stuff.  I did dig a little to see if I could find her actual address on the site but that section was not visible and so I did the kindest thing and unsubscribe saying I didn’t ask for this.  Maybe somebody will call her or something, I do hope UK Kate gets the fashion she desires, my sister loves the service.

Thus completes my semi-regular update on the people who accidentally use my email address.

Balance

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.

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Monday night dinner party

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

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Writing around politics

Hi there

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.  img_8112

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 donate to my campaign

Here is a link to my facebook if you want to read

 

Vacation wrap up

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.

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yeah, Mom!

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.

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Lake Ontario

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.

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Bridal Falls, part of Niagara Falls; Great Lake Erie

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Famous Hore shoe falls

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.

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Giant Boat!  Ship?  Whatever… 

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Miles of nothing in every direction

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.

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might as well be an ocean; Lake Superior

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big lake, little light house.  It is about 20f tall total

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.