Friday, August 29, 2008

Little Hurricanes

I sometimes wonder why I feel the need to try and keep our house picked up. I think I've made it clear that I don't put cleaning at the top of my "to do" list most days. But, I still make a general effort to pick up miscellaneous toys that have been left scattered to the four corners of our home.

Lately the kids have found the decorator pillows on the couches. This generally means we have more pillow fights than we have in the past, but this can also be a source of hilarity, so we've played along.

Well, being kids, they've taken it one step further to see just how much we'll let them get away with. After being in the front yard earlier this week, this is what I came into the house to find....

Destruction, pure and simple. I took no responsibility to rectify this other than to inform them that, indeed, they had reached the limit - and get to work cleaning. An after picture would be pointless - 10 minutes after it was "cleaned" Jake had friends over and it was destroyed yet again.
Reason #586 why I'm starting to look forward to school starting - our family room may just stay picked up for six hours straight.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Out with the Old - In with the New

About four or five years ago Mike got me a PDA for Mother's Day - you know those little hand-held things that have a calendar, contacts, syncs to the computer and you can download all this great info? Anyway - I LOVED mine. I never learned how to get on the internet at Panera with it (much to Mike's technology chagrin) but I loved it all the same. I had every bit of info I needed on hand whenever I needed it.

However, the last year has been increasingly sad for me as this little machine has started to get old. At first it couldn't keep a charge for very long, but I got it a new battery. Then it would just either freeze up or crash every few days. Mike, a.k.a. "the surgeon" actually took matters into his own hands one day after I practically broke into tears because my sidekick was kicking the bucket. He got out his soldering tools and did whatever he did, plus managed to super-glue the battery in and still make it work. Well, it worked for about another two weeks. During all of this we would stop at Best Buy or wherever and ask about PDA's that had what I needed. Turns out they don't make many styles anymore because everyone has that technology on their phone. This is where we hit a wall because I refused to pay $500 for a phone that I only wanted to make calls and easily reference my calendar or contacts.

So for the past so many months I've been relying on my memory or whatever I remembered to write on the calendar on our fridge (which is mainly meant for kids' stuff). Not a good system. I've forgotten appointments left and right. I was finally telling Mike I was going to have to break down and just buy a write-in calendar. But that just made me mad because I'd only get a half-year use out of it, and still have to retype everything in the computer calendar I keep.

So last month Mike was doing some phone research for me and found something he thought would fit my budget and give me only the bells and whistles I wanted. I've had to wait a month since then until my plan was eligible for a new phone with a discount. Ta-da!!!!

The kids LOVE that it slides open. do I. But mostly I love that I get all my features and don't have to pay for internet connections and all that extra stuff. I feel connected to the world again and hopefully will manage to show up where and when I'm supposed to be somewhere!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Great Minnesota Get-Together

I'm looking outside this morning and very thankful we didn't have this rainy weather yesterday at the fair! How miserable that must be. Our day could have been better, but it could have been worse too.
We had warned the kids that there would be TONS of walking and we would be sharing ALL the food so no whining. This was especially aimed at Jake, but subtly.

Jake informed us before we even got to the gate that his feet were tired. Not a good sign. Once inside he was good for about five minutes, then just kept telling us how tired he was. But, we told him we had a long day and he needed to try to get some energy, so we offered up food. He wasn't all that into eating. He tried a little of everything we got, but never too much.

On the other hand - the other three of our party loved the food! We introduced the kids to cheese curds - being that Friday was the first time Mike or I had ever eaten them. YUM! We had Cini Smith's Cinnamon rolls (another intro on Friday by the Runchey team) and Maddie LOVED those. Pronto Pups, cookies, funnel cake, lots of lemonade, a malt, plenty of milk and whatever else we passed by. How was the chocolate dipped bacon, you ask? Unfortunately by the time we got around to it, we were in the wrong area - I had goofed on where it was so it will have to wait until next year.

The kids went through a few of their favorites - mainly the farm this area Jake was happy. It was what he wanted to do. (Fun fact: Mike hates this area. He doesn't know why though, but it drives him nuts to do this every year.)

This is generally how the day moved on. Mike would alternately give Jake a ride on his shoulders or a piggy back until Jake got to be too much. Jake would walk, we'd eat a little, Jake would tell us how tired he was, then we'd get somewhere he requested and his spirits would lift up. Here's us on the slide...he thought this was awesome.

The only other ride we went on was "Ye Old Mill". Maddie kept telling me she wanted to sit with Mike or I, but I told her I was going to sit with her dad. Well, she bee-lined for the front of the line and hopped in beside him when we got on. And dog-gone if she didn't look at me with a sly smile that said, "na-na-na-na naaaa naaaa". Jake also loved this ride. Maddie? Not. A. Fan. She had a death-grip on Mike because it was so dark. Then she wanted to go in the Haunted Mansion because she didn't think it would be too scary. Right - like that was going to happen.
Mike and I couldn't figure out if Jake really was getting sick, or if he was just being exactly what we had feared. At one point this was the look I got after offering up some cookies...

Okay -- he may also have been tired of me trying to take yet another picture.
We had planned to stay until 4pm, but by 3pm Jake was finished and even Maddie was starting to get tired so we called it a day.
This was our ride home...

And how did Jake fair the rest of the day? Well, I headed straight to my parents' house to help on a quilt project and didn't return until about 11:30pm. Mike informed me that Jake did indeed have a fever of about 102 that broke around 10:30pm. Today Jake has been told to lie low, gets a day of t.v. and hopefully is on the mend by this afternoon.
Better luck next year.

Monday, August 25, 2008

16 days of TV watching ended

Mike, Jake and I watched most of the closing ceremonies last night for the Olympics. (sigh) This morning the kids tried to watch "The Today Show" as we have the last couple weeks and soon bored of it and we are back to cartoons in the morning.

Jake was loving the closing ceremonies - he had found a little American flag and was waving it proudly yelling, "Go, America!"

So, as a close to our Olympic Fanfare, I will relate a "Jake story" from a few weeks back:

It was right after the opening ceremonies. Jake had been in Iowa, and out of the four of us was the only one to actually see the opening ceremonies. So we were discussing what he saw and he mentioned the fireworks. I asked him if he knew that the Chinese invented the fireworks. He said,

"Yeah! The Chinese invented everything! I mean EVERYTHING! Whenever I look at the back of my toys and other stuff, they all say, 'Made in China'!"

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Paisley Park!

Friday night we attended the Brad Paisley concert at the MN State Fair along with Tracy and Rob. We expected rain all day (we were actually at the fair for about 6 hours prior to the show...) and luckily had nothing but great weather!
When in many chances do you get to legitimately wear a cowboy hat?

The show opened with Chuck Wicks. Before this I honestly couldn't tell you what he sang, except it turns out I really had heard two of the songs on the radio. He did a fairly decent hour and was a good kick-off to the evening.

Then it was Jewel's turn. This was something - what? I'm not quite sure yet. First of all, none of us could understand her. Try as I might, I never heard a hard consonant come out of her mouth. Tracy said Jewel reminded her of Beaker from Sesame Street, if not the Swedish Chef. Then Jewel would announce, "I'd like to you to follow me on a song you don't know..." Tracy said she couldn't even follow her with the songs we did know! And the songs we did recognize, well, they were played/sung at about half the speed you hear them on the radio and lasted about twice as long. And lest you think it was just us being slightly rude - (what with Tracy yawning 50 times, Rob looking at pictures of his kids stored on his phone, and Mike sneezing non-stop) she actually got booed by some people behind us when she came out to sing a duet with Brad Paisley and there were plenty of sarcastic remarks between each of her songs. But I must give her credit - she's quite a yodeler! That ended her concert and it was the best part - not just because she was done.

But finally the main event - Brad Paisley! Yee-haw! Or as we say in Minnesota, "Uffda! That guy can sing!" Great concert from beginning to end. And can he play the guitar? Yikes! His band wasn't too shabby either. His fiddler/violinist gave a little intro to one of the songs and should have received quite an ovation on his own - amazing! At least Tracy and I cheered loudly for him. It was just good music. I mean, yes it was fun all around, but the musicians really had the capacity to show of their stuff - and they took every advantage - they weren't just strumming along in the background.

I don't think we got out of there until about 11pm - after being at the fair for 9 hours, we were all tired! But, I'll save the fair posting for later next week. We have to head back with the kids so we can all grab our food-on-a-stick fill. Maddie and I plan to try the Chocolate-Dipped-Bacon. Stay tuned.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Shopping, Shopping, More Shopping

I think I've decided that I'm happy for the kids to go back to school. Mostly because it will mean the end of back-to-school shopping. It's exhausted me out - today definitely put me over the limit.

Yesterday was our annual outing with Grandma Smith. She takes the kids shopping and they each get to buy one outfit for school. This doesn't sound so difficult, but for some reason it was close to impossible. At least that's how it seemed when we started.

Everyone started in good spirits - I had the kids bring socks because we were also going to be getting the rest of the supplies - namely shoes! This is what Jake looked like walking into the mall...see the elevated hat? Jake's head isn't normally this tall...

This was the reason...

His socks were being held in his hat. When I saw this and went to take a picture (in the entry of the mall) Maddie walked up to Grandma Smith, rolled her eyes and said, "Camera-woman." She hasn't really gotten yet that I'll probably live to embarrass her in years to come.
So - off to our Target headquarters where we normally are able to find everything we need. Normally, you say? Target let us down in a big way. No outfits, no shoes. And it was a different Target so I didn't know where they had all their aisles and didn't feel like chasing every other thing down on our remaining list, so we left disappointed.
This meant we shopped the rest of the mall. We hit JCPenney's where we actually managed to find some good outfits (whew!). But by this time of being done with outfit shopping (still no shoes!) we were starving so we decided to head to lunch. After much debate we ended up Biaggi's. No disappointment there though. Mom and I each had a glass of wine and toasted the beginning of school - as all mom's start to do this time of year!

Feeling incredibly full we took on shoe shopping - Kohls, Payless, Sears. Then we realized Maddie had left her purse and Biaggi's so it was back to the restaurant. After that I knew I was done. Mom suggested Walmart for shoes, which is a great thought, but I told her nope...the day was done in shopping.

So we dropped off Grandma, headed home and I took a nap on the couch. I was completely exhausted - I don't know how Maddie and Jake can have the energy they do. I mean - Jake literally jumped through every store. LITERALLY. At one point he was doing this weird walk that resembled roller-blading through the Sears aisles. At Payless he would stand on the bench and jump off - two times before he got my message that he needed to be done with that. Soon I heard another jump and looked at him...he said, "but I didn't jump off the bench, I just jumped across the floor." As soon as we were home both kids were raring to go play with friends or upstairs or wherever. As mom said, "to have half their energy!"

So we'll have to head out for round - I don't even know, round 16? of shopping for school. Hopefully they won't be barefoot on the first day.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Good Hair Day

This morning I heard the kids goofing off upstairs - refrain - I heard a lot of laughing. But, this isn't a bad thing, of course so I didn't pay a whole lot of attention.

Well, Jake came downstairs a short while later and he was so excited with his look. Seems that Maddie had been playing hairdresser...she had styled his hair into a mohawk of sorts...

See that teeny, tiny peak? That caused the giggles. Here's him with the artist...

I don't know if he thinks this is a good idea to wear to school. And, while it isn't the worst hair-do I could ever hope he has, it probably isn't something I'm going to suggest he go for everyday. Mostly because in 20 minutes when it had dried out he had to run upstairs and do it all over again. I really don't need to create a hair-monster in 1st grade.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Quilting Teamwork

I have been trying to get through my latest batch of pictures - who am I kidding? I've been trying to get through the last nine months of pictures. In naming/organizing the most recent, I found these that I meant to post last week.
Background: For each niece/nephew on my side of the family I have made a baby quilt when they are born. I would have done this for Mike's family, except I didn't know how to quilt when they were all born. Since then I've made a quilt for our two nieces on that side for birthdays- the boys aren't so interested in quilts, I believe.

Anyway - as the time for Riley to arrive got closer and closer, my mom and I decided we would make a quilt for her together. So, one afternoon she came over to start the project. Honestly, I generally pick out quilt patterns from a book I've had for YEARS that are fairly simple and straight-forward. These typically take a day (meaning 4 hours or so) to put together. However, I wanted to try something different so this time I had picked out a quilt pattern that I thought Tracy would like from a completely different book. My mom was gung-ho to try whatever pattern. However, once we started looking at the directions, we realized that what I had picked was WAY over our heads for an afternoon of quilting - possibly over our heads for a year of quilting. We even called my mom's friend Sue who was actually driving to Seattle at the time. Sue does AMAZING quilt work (check out her stuff here). She knows our limitations (which are many) and I think in her nicest way tried to dissuade us from taking this on.

Anyway - mom, Jake, Maddie and I headed to the fabric store with my trusty old book and picked out a whole new set of fabrics. Really, this hardly took any time - they seemed to jump off the shelf at us! We decided on a ladybug theme and really really hoped the doctors weren't wrong that she was having a girl!

A few days later we got to work. Maddie and Jake wanted to help too so we were all assigned jobs:
I'm basically in charge of whatever mom doesn't like to do. This involves mostly cutting (she hates math) and reading the directions. I did also get to iron when Maddie got tired/bored of it. I guess I'm the stand-by on all operations.

Maddie ironed, and took pictures. Hence no pictures of her ironing. However, I did tell her to try and take pictures that "told a story". This is the picture she grabbed of my mom - probably while I was reading through the directions for the 15th time.

Mom sewed...

Jake was in charge of lifting the presser foot on the machine when each pass of mom's was completed. Generally this involved me looking over to see him start lifting the presser foot by trying to anticipate when mom should be done with that pass. Bad idea. For those who don't recall Home-Ec 101, the presser foot is pretty important to keep down while sewing so your seam stays not only straight, but also so the stitches stay the right tightness and length.

Apparently Maddie's other "story" was that her mom was paying no attention to little brother playing with scissors (at least he wasn't running with it):

Jake and mom were also in charge of keeping the material in the right sequence that Maddie was giving it to them in. Let's just say they may not make the greatest collaborative team in the history of sewing.

This took a couple afternoons. Finally mom and I were able to quilt it on her big machine. This machine is great because it can make these fancy quilt patterns and we aren't stuffing this quilt through the hole of a little machine. Not fun to do - trust me, I've done it twice with queen size quilts and once with a twin size.

So here's our finished product. And thankfully, Tracy did end up with a girl. Mom and I were getting really nervous whenever Tracy would tell us about someone coming up to ask what she was having and then tell her she was wrong - that it was going to be a boy. As you can see, Riley has plenty of room to grow into it!

Hopefully someday I'll get around to piecing that other quilt that I have all cut up and ready to go. I believe I'm going to have to ask for some help at that point...I'll make sure to pick a date when Sue isn't heading out on vacation.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Olympics Imagined

As I've already posted, we are Olympic fans here! But, after finally getting to watch the women's all-around gymnastics the other night, and after seeing Michael Phelps race into history on Saturday night (for which you possibly heard A LOT of screaming from our house...especially Jake!) the kids were ready to get going as their favorite Olympians.

In the pool on Friday they were both swimmers: Madison preferred to be called Natalie Coughlin and Jake...of course he was Michael Phelps. After racing back and forth across the pool I awarded them each a gold medal because they were just so fast! Then they decided these same two athletes would take on diving. Being that it isn't their "real" sport and our divers still need some work, they won the bronze for these. Jake did the famous "Michael Phelps" know, the one where he pumped his arms after the first relay where they beat the french.

Okay, this may not be a real picture from that day, but let me assure you the resemblance was uncanny.
Well, Sunday morning and well into the afternoon found our Olympians going through their rounds again. Only this time Maddie was Shawn Johnson. She's been working on perfecting her handstand, as well as her presentation poses:

Jake was still Michael Phelps getting ready for the backstroke:

While the next picture is not technically the greatest, it gives you a general idea of what was following by this pose...the water entry, of course...

And then they were off to their next event...

I guess we'll have to wait and see what medals they are awarded next. I'd really like it to be for clean rooms. Dream big.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Julia Childs I am not.

I have this not-so-secret goal in life to create a dinner that when Mike eats it he says, "Wow! This is really good!!" To which I will simply shrug my shoulders and reply, "Just something I came up with on my own..."

There are two problems here: 1) Mike is just not an overly enthusiastic guy. A hearty, "Wow!" has a .1% chance of happening. 2) I cannot cook without a recipe. Experimenting usually results in the equivalent of a laboratory experiment blowing up.

Take last night: I had a recipe that I've tried in a crock pot for chicken and I had marked that we like it. Well, I had forgotten to defrost the chicken the previous day, so I decided that I'd just make it in the oven. I coated each chicken in ranch dressing which was originally not supposed to be coated...but go me! Then I cooked them. They actually came out looking fairly tasty. Then I had to finish up. So I looked at the rest of the recipe: onions (used the last one a couple nights ago...thought I had more. Decided to just skip it - kids don't like them anyway). Cream cheese - check. Chicken stock - check. Cream of chicken soup...thought I had that but it was cream of mushroom. So, I left that out too. Then I mixed what I did have together, added a little extra chicken stock for taste to make up for the loss of soup. Cooked some green beans and rice, and poof! Dinner was served.

I'm fairly certain that if we had taken a sodium-level test afterwards our numbers would have put us in the hospital. After the first bite I just apologized. Jake went to salt his chicken out of habit and Mike and I both yelled - STOP! We were afraid he'd have a heart-attack from salt overload. Instead we practically gave him one by scaring him.

Mike could see my disappointment so I think he was trying to be helpful when he said, "those were good." My gaze was elsewhere so when I looked at him, it was more a look that said, "are you off your rocker?" He said, "no...those...the green beans...they were good."

Those...I dumped those directly out of a can and heated them up. Jake's favorite part was the rice. The rice I dumped out of the box and into boiling water. Clearly these are signs that my goal is slightly unrealistic for me.

But, goal it is and goal it will remain. If anything my kids should have some great stories to tell to future generations.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Book Busting Deal!

A few weeks back my sister called to say that there was an online coupon available at Border's book that gave you $5 off any book over that amount. That's what it was supposed to do, and did. But maybe there was a disgruntled programmer working the codes that day because when you ordered any other books on the same order, it automatically made them free! Obviously this wasn't working as expected and Tracy was trying to get an order in before it was realized and thought I may want to try.

Of course I wanted to try! So, Jake and I spent 45 minutes going through the website and picking out books. We had a total of 17 books by the time we started trying to actually place the order.

However, we weren't the only people trying to get in on this programming error! So the website was i-n-c-r-e-d-i-b-l-y s-l-o-w. Mike checked in on us occasionally and wondered if he should make childcare plans should the cops show up to take his wife to jail on criminal charges. Jake finally got bored of waiting around, but I'd order and pop in to see if it went through. It never did. Between this I just happened to check my email where I found a message from Borders saying they had received my order and it would be shipped shortly. I didn't know if this actually had worked or not because not once did I get to the end of the website ordering page, but I stopped there and crossed my fingers. My sister never did get through, and my dad did, but never got an email confirming.

Last week I received another message from Borders saying our shipment was on it's way and because I was shipping it to a store (to avoid shipping costs) they would call when it arrived. Well, a week went by and with the tracking number I saw it had arrived, but no call came. We finally went and discovered it definitely was there and we got our books! Note for future Borders' customers: if you ship to the stores, they don't call to say it's arrived, despite what the email says because the store doesn't have access to the phone number. I guess their website isn't the only part of the company not totally organized.

So the kids and I picked up the books and got this gigantic box! They are so excited about having these new books around!

And me? I'm excited too. I got 17 brand-new books for 95 cents!!!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Outdoor decorating

A couple nights ago we had some friends over. Instead of bringing flowers, they brought gifts for the kids. They are grandparents and spoiling is what they do.

Maddie got a slumber party set-up for her Generation dolls. A huge hit! Jake got this Crayola foaming thing. This contraption makes this foam come out the tube in different colors and you can draw on your driveway or the grass with it.

So, the kids headed outside the next day and we got everything set up. They were having a good time drawing -

even I did some fun little drawings!

So our driveway was decorated in blue, yellow and green foam. Then the kids went to their friends and the contraption was put away. A couple hours later we left to go shopping and all the foam had - gone away? popped? How does foam disappear? Anyway - it was gone and in it's place was what looked like a chalk drawing. I rubbed my shoe over it to wipe it away - only nothing left - the marks barely even smudged! I looked up to see if Mike had seen that, and he hadn't, so I decided it was better to just get in the car.

The next day it rained - it rained fairly hard at times. We left later to go run errands. I was the last out and Mike said he wasn't so sure about the was STILL on our driveway. It wasn't as colorful as it had been, but it was definitely still readable. We weren't sure it was ever going to come off.

Now it's about 3 days later and I it's still on the driveway. I'm just really glad I didn't let the kids foam up the grass like the container said was a good idea. I can only imagine what kind of dead-grass-designs we'd have.

Oh yeah - and Jake's hands ended up looking Yoda-ish. Hard to tell in the picture, but his hands were green - and we couldn't get that off for a couple hours either. Maddie resembled a smurf at one point, but the stuff on her hands hadn't dried quite as much so it was far easier to get off.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Olympic Fans

In our house, we've all pretty much been drawn into the Olympics. A couple nights ago instead of movie night we all got in our pajamas right around 7pm and cuddled up to watch the Olympics. Maddie likes it, but Jake, Mike and I really get into it. Maddie is actually waiting for the girls' gymnastics. She missed last night because she wasn't feeling too well.

Jake, Mike and I watched the men's volleyball last night. After that it was swimming...Jake missed that. I asked Jake what he liked to watch and he said he liked the beach volleyball and swimming. I asked if he liked the men's or women's volleyball better - he said he liked both. Mike shook his head - he has a definite preference.
I don't know what it is about the Olympics - I'm clearly not athletically motivated to watch them. But, I do know I'm a sucker for the stories behind some of the people and countries. Yesterday afternoon Jake and I watched the American water polo competition. It wasn't the most exciting sport I've ever seen, I must say the fact that this team was ranked no where near Italy, yet won anyway - that was pretty neat. In between was another sport - kayaking. A) I have no idea if it's spelled correctly, sorry. B) Who even knew that was an Olympic sport. C) On top of all that - Togo (a country) won the bronze. Now, I've never even heard of this country but how cool was it that he won the first ever medal for his country! AND in a sport that they barely have because it's in Africa - not a lot of water sports that they excel at. And he was so excited about it.

That's probably my biggest frustration watching it all though. When countries win a silver or bronze and just aren't happy with it. I mean, I understand in some aspects - they worked hard, they dreamed of the gold, etc, etc. But still - I find it so sad. I am excited, however, that Jake and Maddie are still happy when America wins any medal - no matter what color. Jake's a huge cheering section whenever the American flag pops up - he constantly keeps us updated on who won or the latest points for whatever he's watching.

So, this could very well be the most t.v. we've watched during the day in months. It's still not on 24/7, but when it is - most household things come to a halt and we all start cheering for the home team!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Meeting our Newest Family Member

Tracy had a chance to post some pictures so I feel like I can now too! Yahoo!

Saturday, amid our craziest schedule ever, my mom called to say that Tracy had her baby - it was a girl! Riley Beatrice Runchey was born around 3:30pm and weighed 7 lbs. 10 oz. and was 20 inches long. We weren't able to head over there on Saturday, though Maddie and Jake did along with Grandma and Grandpa, Austin & Ellie. Tracy said that they hadn't really had Riley's name picked out until about a week ago (at least the Riley part)! Beatrice was my grandma's name (mom's mom).

I knew that the scavenger hunt on Sunday would take us to meet Riley too, so I was excited to be nearing the end of the hunt because I got to meet my new niece! She's super cute and even has a little bit of fuzz for hair...a rarity in these parts!

Okay - now I've discovered that my pictures didn't all transfer very well, so this is the only shot I have of the five that I took. Frustrating. But, at least Riley looks great! So congrats to the Runchey family! We can't wait to watch her grow!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Mystery is Solved!

On Sunday I picked the kids up from my parents' house and as we drove up we noticed another envelope addressed to "M&J" on our door. Another scavenger hunt.

This was quite a poem - and once we all started reading it, Maddie noticed that some of the letters looked different. So she and Jake went through and found all the funny letters and realized they were being sent to Target. The poem basically said that they were being sent on a scavenger hunt to this person's favorite places - and the end would "mark the spot" where they would need to be to meet said person.

So, off to Target we went and I managed to steer them to Guest Services (I may have received a hint as to where to look...). Sure enough, there was a message waiting for our detectives there.

This message was a little harder to decipher for our heroes. M&J were told to go to a city that started with "E.P" to the mall there and one of their mom's favorite stores. Maddie and Jake really had a hard time coming up with this city - the mall reference didn't help. So Mike helped by saying, "is there a city that starts with Eee...dennnn......" Maddie blurted out "Eden Prairie!" and off we went. On the way they were trying to think of what store I could possibly love there. Jake suggested Target, Maddie suggested JCPenny's. Then she had an "aha!" moment and yelled, "Archivers!" Once there the nice ladies asked their names and found two bags for for Jake and blue for Maddie - this person knew their favorite colors! Inside these bags were a small scrapbook for them to document this summer adventure and some candy! Then they were told to finish this sentence... "over the river and through the woods......." The end of that was where they were instructed to go next.

At grandma and grandpa smith's house we had to move fast (their house is for sale and they had a showing in under an hour). The Archiver's bags also contained a swimsuit for each of them (Maddie thought this swimsuit actually contained a swimsuit that was "exactly like" one she already had. It actually was one she already had.) Anyway - on grandma's door was another envelope that told them to dive for the next clue. In their pool were puzzle pieces sunk to the bottom that they had to dive in and retrieve then put together. Austin was over and helped them put the puzzle together.

When the puzzle was put together it was a map from grandma and grandpa's house to where this person was....the hospital! They had figured by now it was Tracy, but this confirmed it. Mike tried to throw them off by saying maybe it was Rob...but they both agreed that Archiver's and Target were not places Rob loved, but Tracy did.

So the mystery has officially been solved. I would post pictures of us at the hospital, but since Tracy hasn't posted pictures yet of little Riley I don't think I should. We'll save those for later.

But, I must give a hat's off to my sister. This was a really fun scavenger hunt - and she put it all together in the last week of her pregnancy. She contacted the stores and my parents dropped off the packages/notes at Target and Archiver's on Saturday night and Sunday morning. The whole summer has been fun with these surprise visits from this mystery note-leaver. Maddie and Jake had a blast and even managed to learn some things along the way.

Monday, August 11, 2008

So much to tell...

This weekend was insane. Seriously, I'm not sure we've had a weekend this busy...ever. But Mike tells me these posts are too long, so I'll be breaking it down over the week - or posting several smaller ones over the next couple days.

So, I'm going to tackle Saturday. Saturday was crazy busy, but also a ton of fun. It started off with Mike heading down to Cedar Falls, IA to pick up Jake from Grandma Murphy. I didn't see him until 4:15 again. I spent the day cleaning our house top to bottom (I know! Pick up those dropped jaws!) then I was trying to get set up for our neighborhood party that night. One of the bunco ladies had a sister whose neighborhood sponsored a progressive golf night, so we copied it. Basically everyone teamed up with a neighbor and created a mini-golf course/hole in their backyard. We teamed up with the Schroeders across the street and had such a blast planning our hole. We went with a decades theme - 50's - 80's and had food/drinks to match each decade. If people got low scores or landed in sand or water they had to don a piece of clothing we found that matched one of the decades. The final loser ended up wearing the four pieces of clothing from that decade. Some of our items were an afro, Elvis glasses, a poodle skirt (my mom whipped this up in one night...), saddle shoes, jelly shoes, tye-dye get the picture. People looked goofy. Mike and I (mostly Mike...) managed to win a really nice bottle of wine on one of the holes. I'm honestly afraid to drink it...hopefully we can figure out a meal that ends up being just as nice!

Mike got home and I headed out to play for a wedding reception until 6:30 and then I raced home to join the game already in session. I'm pretty sure Mike was already slightly inebriated by hole #1. Then we went around and everyone seemed to really get into coming up with drinks for their hole and there was no lack of thirst quenchers. Everyone ended up at our house at the end to swim and hang out and it was such fun! We are really fortunate to live in a neighborhood with great families!

Sunday morning...that was a little painful. I managed to get to church and survived the service - I even played the right hymns. Survival was probably helped along by the fact that I play in the balcony where no one sits during the summer so I laid down and rested my eyes during the sermon.

But...that's Sunday and for a different post.