Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Jake's Confirmation

Way back in May, Jake was confirmed at church. We were fortunate to have lots of family there to celebrate!

The Friday before Missy, Amanda and Aaron came up to spend the weekend with us. Saturday afternoon we headed downtown and walked around to see some of the sights. We stopped at The Union Rooftop bar and had some delicious appetizers to tide us over to dinner.

The second service at church was the actual confirmation service. Maddie, Jake and I had to be there for the first service (we were all taking part in it) so Mike drove with everyone else later and was able to set up some things before leaving.

Jake was confirmed with in a group of four. These are really nice kids and they get along well. It was fun to see them all together on their special day.

I liked this service because the kids also got to take part. The kids read some of the passages and during the "regular" part of the service. Then they were each asked to read their faith statement in place of the sermon. They did a great job.

Dan and Missy are Jake's godparents. It was nice that they could be here for this day as well. When it was each kid's turn to be confirmed, the family went up. Jake's godparents went up as well. Mike and I had written a blessing which we read after the pastor had given a blessing as well and Jake's chosen confirmation verse was read.

Afterward was the usual picture time. You can usually find these three sitting in the fireside room between services.

Jake gave a nice mention of Maddie during his faith statement. They really do get along and for that I'm super grateful!!

I think we all get along nicely, actually.

Then it was to our house for some soup and visiting.

Missy, Amanda and Aaron hung with us until Monday morning when it was back to reality for everyone. We really appreciated that so many people came out to celebrate with Jake and our family!

Friday, June 3, 2016

Blanket Baby

Our dog...she is a total blanket hoarder. If there is any scrap of fabric available - she will find it and make it her own.

She has a dog bed. 50% of the time she prefers to lay in it ONLY if it's upside down.

For Christmas 2012 she received a dog's horribly made and completely ugly. But it's all hers...

Especially if we are outside...this dog does NOT like lying in the grass. Frankly...if it's even a little too high she walks really funny too - almost like she's on her tiptoes paws...

She doesn't necessarily stop at blankets though...any pillow is great...

And, the more pillows/blankets the better. It's like "The Princess and the Pea"...

It doesn't stop at pillows even...laundry (read: dirty laundry) is a JOY for her to discover. She's actually growled when I've tried to get her off of it so I could at least try to make everything smell nice.

The last few months though she has taken everything to new heights. She has become a thief. Except she's terrible at it. If we are lying on the couch, and if there is even a little bit of an overhang of the blanket...she will start pulling it down - as you are laying under it!!

While Mike and I were downstairs one day I caught her in the act. No one was using this blanket at the time so I guess she felt permission wasn't necessary.

Before you watch this: I have NO idea how to edit a video since my computer upgraded itself to Windows 10 and got rid of the one video app I knew how to use. I also have zero desire to research how to do it at this time. This is 1 minute, 34 seconds (+/-) of your life you will not get back.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Back to Ball

It's baseball season again. Jake is on one of the many Shakopee teams again this year. They've had a couple games, and one tournament so far.

So far this season, Jake's batting is better than it was last year. It must be that new bat that we had to purchase for this summer. Or it could be skill. I'm really not a very good judge of anything baseball.

He has two positions that he generally plays. Outfield (behind 3rd base) and catcher.

He's always liked catching. Last year he started to play more outfield as well since they had a couple catchers. I think he liked that a lot as well, but he does NOT like the bugs that come with it.

This past weekend he had his first tournament. He and another teammate were the catchers. Jake ended up catching during an inning that took them 45 MINUTES to get through for their half in the field. Mike and I were under an umbrella for shade...he was roasting. But, he did good and kept up his energy. The second game he ended up switching to catcher right before the inning that took them 30 minutes to get through. To say his legs were sore for a good two days is an understatement. He moved like an old man.

These are some of my favorite moments to watch...when they all go out to have a team meeting. I don't know what they discuss...I only ever think of the scene in "Bull Durham" where they discuss the "important" things... "We're dealing with a lot of s____!"

So the fields are where you will find us many evenings during the week. We'll hope for cool nights and dry weather!

Monday, March 28, 2016

A Little About Jake

I recently needed to take some pictures of Jake for his confirmation invitations. It's been awhile since I've asked this kid to purposefully pose in front of a camera. I ambushed him as soon as he walked in the door from school. I barely gave him time to remove his coat before I was pushing him out the back door and promising this would take less than five minutes.

Jake is a lovely young man...but a natural model he is not. If you ask him to smile for a picture you generally get a widening of the mouth, but it is definitely a forced effort. And every picture shows it. My goal was to get something that looked slightly more relaxed. At first he sat down in typical "Jake picture" fashion...which includes a plastered smile and ramrod straight back. By simply asking him to lean forward, suddenly he was so much more relaxed and I was able to get a couple shots that weren't all statuesque!

At 14, Jake has definitely shot up in height some and people say he's really starting to sound like Mike - especially on the phone. His love of cars has not waned and he's still our walking encyclopedia for any pricing or style information we need. He definitely has our next Lamborghini picked out! (HA!)

He still really loves to play percussion in the band and this year was in the Jazz and Chamber Winds ensembles. According to Maddie he listens to "weird" music....That comment intrigued me so I had him play some of the what he was listening to thinking I may need to pull the parent card if it was some crazy death tune stuff.

No worries. He listens to what is basically orchestral music...but more the style you would hear in movies. It's actually pretty interesting to listen to. Lately - since he knows he has to practice anyway, he's taken to picking out his pieces which consist of arrangements of movie/t.v. themes that some prodigy from YouTube writes and plays. They are fairly difficult pieces. I'd really like him to try other style pieces, but this isn't a battle I think is necessary at this point; he's playing and he's playing challenging pieces that he likes.

He's getting to be pretty proficient in the kitchen and one week made 4 of our 6 at-home dinners. Not just Mac and Cheese...full fledged recipes. We met with his "Teen Chef" teacher and she informed us that after this class the kids should be pretty confident to walk in to a kitchen and read a simple recipe. At that same moment, Jake was at home making our evening meal which consisted of grilled hamburgers. He has also learned how to carve a swan out of an apple...these are life skills, people!!

He's an okay kid. We'll keep him.

Monday, March 7, 2016

First Taxes

Back in February Maddie and Mike sat down to do her first taxes together. I sit on the sideline in tax season and have since I first started earning an income. I'm only too happy to hand that over to someone else.

In fact, during one of Mike's momentary absences from the room she asked me, "Mom...can you help me here?" I replied, "I doubt it."

But when Mike returned - I did enjoy listening in on the conversations:

They did everything with some free software/app thing and the first thing I heard from Maddie was:

"Oh! What a cute app this is!"
(Never before have I heard anything related to taxes described as "cute".)

Then there was this conversation:

Maddie: Why are they asking what I invested in - I don't want to tell them that.
Mike: You don't have a choice....they already know.
Maddie: Then why are they asking. They are wasting my time.

After five full minutes of working on taxes she was flustered:

Maddie: This is taking forever!
Kerry: Dad has been working on ours for two weeks.
Maddie: [with a sheepish look] Oh...sorry.

Toward the end:

Maddie: $9! I get $9 back and I haven't even done state yet!

After the state taxes were finished it was a moment of thrill for Mike because she will be making money off the state. She paid $4.75 and since the government rounds things to the nearest dollar, she will be getting back $5. This was a small moment of triumph in "sticking it to the man", I believe.

When all was said and done she was getting money back and was thrilled. 15 minutes later she found out her filing was rejected. She had entered the wrong social security number at work and has since had to redo a lot of paperwork, which she felt pretty bad about. Maybe she should buy the person handling all that a cup of coffee with her refund.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Pretty Planners

For our family calendar we use an online app that I really like called Cozi. But, I am a list maker. I have lists that I start each week and day off with. I love physically crossing something off my list when it is accomplished.

While I love our digital app - it just doesn't do much for me in terms of making lists and crossing them off. It has the ability - I just don't like it. Maddie and I were discussing our own versions of planners at the end of last year. We both realized we physically like writing things down and lists bring each of us much happiness. We shared a Pinterest board for ideas on different planner layouts we had seen and finally designed some for ourselves.

Mine is the one on the left - Maddie's is on the right. While both are very similar we made a couple changes in format because of our different lifestyles and responsibilities. The perk of designing your own!!

I wanted a page devoted to special dates of birthdays and anniversaries throughout the year that I can quickly reference. Maddie didn't feel she needed that yet, but wanted to get in the habit of making some monthly goals. I write everything in my calendar in pencil because things change so easily for me. Thank goodness, because after taking these pics I realized I'd left out a few people. (So if you think you are one of has been corrected!)

We each made little month separations to make finding dates easier. I decorated mine with a picture for each month that was representational. These things should be pretty and fun to look at too!

Each of our calendars has a monthly overview for a quick peak at big events and a monthly calendar of exercise dates to be "X'ed" out. 

We both also have weekly chore pages, though they are set up a little different. I like to keep separate lists for both work and home. I'm also trying to stay a little more on top of keeping the house clean by picking 1-2 small chores per day. I thought planning them out ahead of time would help me from standing around wondering which chore needed priority. I also keep any special notes for the week and any shopping items that pop up so that when I go, I have a handy place to check for those things I may have forgotten.

(Actually we really use our digital calendar app for this because everyone has access to it. When someone says, "Mom can you pick up...." I reply, "Put it in Cozi." If it's not in there, I'm probably not going to get it. However, sometimes my phone isn't handy and this is an easy thing to grab rather than one more scrap of paper lying around that I'll have to find before leaving on errands.)

For Maddie's chore page it's much simpler. I think this was an experimental page for her to see if she liked an overall view of her to-do's for the week. I'm not sure how much she actually uses hers.

The daily page is the layout where our biggest differences occur. I like a calendar that lists out time slots due to the nature of my different job schedules. But, I have several appointments to do during the week and the time also helps me keep better track of my day in terms of where my "open" times are for chores and other things. I make a meal plan at the beginning of every week for our dinners and there is a little spot for me to write those out. I can easily see what needs to be prepped before we need them rather than at the time we need them. Again - this saves me finding yet another slip of paper lying around.

This year I wanted to do a better job of accountability to myself for exercise and water drinking. I don't really like water, but I realize it's better for a person than most other choices, so there is a spot to start keeping track of how much I drink per day. I also included a small box to note exactly what I did for exercise so I know when I maybe need to shake things up a bit.

My different jobs have been fairly time consuming the last several months and I wasn't doing a very good job of taking some time each day to just do something that I find relaxing without feeling super guilty. So - I added a box for accountability to write down what I'm doing each day to allow myself some down time. Admittedly, I'm still really bad at it, but I'm better than I was.

The "to-do" and "notes" on each page might seem redundant, but it actually works for me. I can look at the main page of "to-do's" each week and decide what I can handle based on my schedule for each day. I add last minute "to-do's" to each day and move them as needed.

Maddie's preference was to have a shorter "schedule" box and a bigger "to-do" box. Her schedule is mostly school, with a number of different timed jobs added but none that she felt required a listing of times. She geared hers more toward school life so she also wanted some space to write down any tests or projects that were due or any big things that required some pre-planning. I think her goal this year was to be more conscious of healthy decisions which also included water and exercise.

These are our weekend pages. Neither of us needed much in the way of calendars since these days aren't as packed as our weekdays. 

Plus - they are pretty, right? We wanted bright and cheery calendars so we used some digital papers that I purchased from Harper Finch Designs.  Trust me - picking out these digital designs and fonts took almost as much time as designing the page layouts! The charts were all designed in Word using tables and then copied to Photoshop for design layout, then copied to PowerPoint where we could print everything back to back and save on paper. It took a bit of time for the first one, but our second went really fast. We also remembered to save the files so next year (should we repeat this) it will be even faster.

So - after a little over a month, how are they working? I love mine. I use it constantly throughout the day. I don't always take it with me if I leave the house on errands, but it's constantly on my desk or at my side anywhere else I am in the house. I almost look for things to write in it at night. That's a lie...I really do try to think of extra things to write because I just love being able to cross things off the next day.

Maddie used it for awhile. But, I just talked to her about it last week and she said she had dropped off using it as much. Though - she admitted it would probably be much more beneficial if she actually took it with her to school. So - maybe she'll start back up with that habit again.

But - I'm fully on the "Planner Addict" train and don't plan on getting off!!

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Ski Season Begins for Us

Both kids joined the ski club this year. They missed the first trip because we were attending the musical downtown that I previously wrote about. The second trip was canceled due to cold weather. So on the 29th when they had a day off from school, Mike took the day off too and we headed to Spirit Mountain in Duluth for a day on the slopes.

We were up early. It is about a 2.5 - 3 hour drive depending on weather or traffic. Jake caught a picture of the sky that started off our day.

We arrived just as Spirit Mountain opened. We had a quick bite at McDonald's and hit the slopes. It was an extremely full day of skiing, but the weather was great! It was definitely not too cold and we were able to go for long periods of time before feeling like we had to take a break to warm up.

The views are always pretty looking over Lake Superior! One of the best parts though was that hardly anyone was skiing. Shakopee had a day off from school for end of semester. Most other schools had the following Monday off. There were hardly any lines to wait through and just gave us more time skiing!

We were there all day. At about 6pm it started to snow in little pellets, but that quickly turned to rain. Freezing rain. It wasn't that cold, but as soon as it hit our jackets or goggles it turned to ice. After two runs of battling this with or without wearing goggles (both situations were miserable) we decided to call it a day and head home.

The drive home took a little longer due to inclement weather conditions. Thankfully my dad had come over a couple times during the day to let Sadie out and fed her so when we got home at 11pm we were all out like lights!