Thursday, November 27, 2008


This evening we went to Dan & Kelly's house where we dined on a delicious meal. We got to eat some great appetizers beforehand - I tried out a new recipe and Kelly made this AWESOME artichoke dip. Delish.

Anyway - it was a good time with family and friends.

The picture below was taken after Dan wiped whipped cream off his finger...onto Maddie's face. This is the same uncle that taught her how to scoop peanut butter out of jar...with all her fingers at once...when she was about two. You'd think she would have learned by now not to trust him around food.

Dan and Kelly also came up with a great dessert for the kids - they all got to decorate turkey cookies. This provided a lot of fun, quite a bit of mess and a nice sugar high.

I thought I'd round this out with some things I'm thankful for. These are other than the standard "family and friends". I mean...I'm very thankful for my husband and kids. I love them to pieces, but I try to realize that thankfulness every least every few. My extended family and friends are perks that I realize I've been quite blessed with in my life. So, apart from's some less obvious things that I've realized over the last day or so I should also be thankful for:
1. My kids are able to feed themselves. We generally have to help dish up plates, but after that, it's every man/woman/child for themselves. This means we all get to eat meals together and communicate. With my teaching schedule I generally don't get to eat with everyone Monday through Wednesday which makes me appreciate Thursday through Sunday more. I love our dinners together.
2. Mike's knowledge when it comes to handy-stuff. He really can figure out either how to build a lot of things, or how to get the answers to do it. That might mean calling my dad, searching the Internet or *gasp!* reading a book. But, he's really pretty awesome with all that and I might take it for granted at times; especially when my computer acts up.
3. My music skills. Not to toot my own horn, but I play pretty well. And it gives me a lot of pleasure to sit and play for my own enjoyment or others'. This morning in church the choir sang a piece that my friend, Susan, wrote the words/melody to and I wrote out the choir/piano parts. We were pretty proud of this effort - and the fact that it actually sounded good. A couple years ago I would have laughed at anyone if they told me that before two years was out I would have recorded a CD and written choir music. But...just goes to show how much is possible in our lives.
So - Happy Thanksgiving. I hope you found a moment to appreciate the big and little things in your own lives!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Day for matter what

Saturday the kids woke up fairly excited because there was actually snow on the ground. They had breakfast and raced to get outside. Maddie wanted to shovel the deck and Jake wanted to go sledding. Maddie changed her mind about 10 seconds later and decided sledding was the ticket.

All this for the less-than-one-inch accumulation we had.

Jake jumped on his sled and...moved about 3 inches. Not to be outdone by Mother Nature he pulled up his sled, and took another running leap. This got him 3 inches further than before. This cycle repeated until he was about halfway down the hill and I suggested he and Maddie move to the driveway where, although there wasn't more accumulation there was the possibility of more icy conditions.

So they both tried this. I think the whole process was abandoned in less than five minutes. "A" for effort though.

That night they weren't daunted and came up with all new sledding possibilities.
Speeds reached in excess of 5mph once they got the toboggan style going...

Monday, November 24, 2008

Lights, Camera...doh! The LIGHTS!

This project has been ongoing for over a week. I think my dad's ready to tear down a few walls in order to figure out the solution to our electrical dilemma.

Here's the background info: Last week I asked my dad to help me put up the Christmas lights outside. I didn't really foresee it getting any warmer so we might as well get it done. Now, I don't think there's anything that my dad does without first fashioning a tool of some kind out of some thing. That day was no exception. He's now the proud owner of a tree-light-hanger-helper-pole. I'm sure in further development it will also develop a better name. But, he took a long PVC pipe and cut out some notches on the top for the wire lights to sit in and we could hang lights without spending too much time going up and down the ladder. It really did work fairly well.

The kids had several friends over and they were playing a game that Rachel wasn't interested in, so she decided to help us instead. My own kids wanted no part in the festivities, but my neighbor's kid did; at least we are interesting to someone.

So, we went to turn them on and...nothing. I know - I hear you all shouting, "Didn't you test them out first!?!" Loud and clear - got it. And no, we didn't. I can't say why, we just didn't. This is where dad now probably wants to tear down our walls. Because on Round 2 of putting up lights he came in completely frustrated. All the lights worked on his TEST ROUND in the house, but nothing worked when hooked up outside. We don't know why, there's a current there (discovered after further tool testing...) but for some reason that will remain a mystery, nothing works.

So as of right now we only have the possibility of beautiful lights. Hopefully we'll figure out this stuff before Christmas arrives. Better yet - before snow and extreme cold arrives.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Zip It

A couple days ago Jake was getting ready for school and told me he was having problems getting his coat zipped. For some reason it wasn't catching at the bottom. I managed to get it to work, but told him he would have to be careful and not pull it up too fast.

When he got home that afternoon he said the zipper was broken. "It just flew off!" I can only imagine how fast and hard he was tugging on it to get said "flying action" but whatever. It was the liner for his winter jacket and luckily the outer shell is actually quite warm so I wasn't too worried.

Fast forward to yesterday morning. The kids get ready for the bus at 8:00am. The bus arrives at 8:10am. At 8:03am Jake informed me that his zipper wasn't working again; it broke in Grandpa's car last night. I thought he was pulling out the first broken jacket, but soon realized he meant his outer liner - the ONLY jacket he has left. He kept telling me he had the zipper, but I couldn't find it attached to make it work and when I told him this he said, "But's in my pocket." Sure enough, there's the zipper. Not doing much good detached and currently sitting in my hand.

So I told him we would just have to velcro it shut and he'd have to make sure it stayed shut. He thought that was a great idea - until we realized one of the two velcro pieces had also fallen off. It was probably 8:06 by now and I just velcroed the bottom piece and snapped the top of the collar. Nothing in the middle was keeping this jacket together. I expected a call from his teacher to remind me we live in Minnesota and he should be more prepared for the weather.

But, we did make it to the bus stop on time and as he was getting on the bus he casually mentioned, "Maybe when you shop for a new jacket for me it could have some orange on it this time?"

So I shopped at five different stores and finally found one that fit the bill. Only when I got home it was about two sizes too big. He was drowning in it. Over dinner we were discussing further shopping options and he started to tell us how he couldn't believe how the zipper flew off. Then he said,

"All I did was open it up..." accompanied by the gesture of Clark Kent ripping open his shirt to become Superman.

I guess we now know how the zipper ended up just "flying off".

I did find a jacket last night after choir. Not exactly the style I wanted (I prefer to have two spring coat to buy) but it has at least a little orange strip....

This excitement over having his most favorite of all colors (and an INSIDE POCKET!) only makes me wonder if he didn't make those zippers "fly off" accidentally-on-purpose.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Gifts Revealed

So, I can finally show those three large projects that I finished awhile back. I had finished all three of these projects in one fabulous week (that has yet to be repeated) but couldn't show them because they were all gifts. Well, the last gift was given this weekend so here's the update:

The first gift given was actually begun well over a year ago. I know...way to stay on task, Kerry. Anyway, it was a scrapbook for my parents documenting our memories from their house. I started it when they first put their house on the market, and never finished it because they took it off the market. Then they put it back on and by the time it sold I realized I better get in gear. Tracy, Dan and I each wrote a letter to mom and dad about our memories growing up here, and basically all wished them luck in their new house. It turned out great and we left them instructions to open their "gift" over coffee at Caribou after they signed the official papers on their closing. I got a call from Dan shortly after they received the book saying he had just gotten off the phone with mom who called to thank him - he said that he could barely understand her because she was sobbing so hard. Guess sending them to such a public place wasn't the greatest plan. I also don't have a picture. It was a red cover with scrapbook pages inside. You'll have to use your imagination.

Then next gift was for my mother-in-law, Kay. I started teaching myself to knit earlier this year. I love it, but I'm not the type of person that likes to learn something by just "practicing" it. I didn't want to just learn by knitting a bunch of rows, undoing them and knitting them again. I need an actual project to do or I get bored. So, I went to Michael's and found a book on knitting afghans that included the basic stitches yet were really pretty. I actually started her blanket way back in April. Here's a little secret that Kay will find out: it was actually intended to be her Mother's Day gift. But you know what I learned? It takes way longer to knit a blanket than I first assumed. Hence, it turned out to be her birthday present in November. I believe it was her 39th birthday - again.

The last gift was given this weekend. In learning knitting I wanted to also take on something that went beyond just knitting something flat. Blankets and dishrags are great to learn on, but I wanted to learn how to make something that I could actual see a shape in. So, at the library I found a book that contained the cutest little baby sweater and hat. And it was all rectangles (easy) that I just crocheted together. Good beginner sweater. Luckily my mom has all the crochet needles and know-how so I had her teach me how to actually finish it up. This is the book that I have had in my possession from the library for well over 5 months I think - all without any late fees. Now I can return it. This gift was for Riley for her baptism. I don't know if she'll actually ever be able to wear it but it was fun learning to make it.

My current project is knitting a poncho for Maddie. She picked out all of the colors herself. I'll post that when it's finished. Hopefully before the end of winter. This winter. I'd like it to still fit her by the time it's finished.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Long time Coming

Last summer I decided to grow my hair out for Locks of Love - yes, over a year ago. The stipulation (among a few others) is that the length of donated hair needs to be 10 inches at least. That really didn't seem like much since my hair was almost shoulder length. My sister did this a couple years back, and recently my friend, Jonda, donated. By the time their hair was long enough, both girls were MORE than ready to get it chopped off. So, I wasn't expecting to love the process near the end, but thought it would be worthwhile.

And they weren't kidding - 10 inches is a lot of hair to deal with. And in the last month especially it's been driving me nuts. This week was the limit. I really really was hoping I'd have at least 10 inches because I wasn't sure how much longer I could/wanted to deal with this much hair. Especially my flat, lifeless, accept-no-curl, hair.

So, before I left for the hairdresser, I asked Mike to take some before shots. He asked me if I was sure I wanted to cut all that hair off. I replied with an enthusiastic YES! Then he offered to cut it for free for me. Sweet offer, but I politely declined.

So, here's the before:

I arrived at the salon and one of the stylists came out with her ruler and said as long as I was willing to cut the hair to the base of my neck, I had 10 inches. So, I told her that was great and grabbed my purse to follow her. I think I shocked her with my enthusiasm and she informed me she already had a booked day. I was not to be deterred though and figured SOMEONE was in this place that didn't have an appointment and sure enough they found a stylist.'s the new me:

And all I can say is, "aaaahhhhhh". It feels awesome which is exactly what Tracy told me I would feel.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Tiny Reminders

Last week I mentioned that I got this new laptop. With it came a couple new features that I've never had. One is slowly becoming my favorite.

It's called a gadget - seriously, that's what it's listed under, I'm not just being vague - anyway, there are several "gadgets" that I can add to my sidebar. One that was automatically up was something that went through all my picture files and pulled them up randomly to display on this teeny tiny screen on my screen. See below:

Well, Mike doesn't like to muddy up his screen with a bunch of stuff and so he thought for sure I wouldn't want this. But, I decided to keep it to see what I thought.

You know what, I love it. Every couple seconds it changes to a different picture that I probably haven't taken the time to look up and see for years. I'm seeing pics of the kids when they were so tiny! I get to see pics of other relatives that live far away. A bunch of these pictures pop up and I think "Oh! I remember when that was taken!" And it's a fun little moment for me.

I guess it's just easy to take for granted that this day to day life can be kind of...well, day to day. Nothing spectacular seems to happen as we go through our schedules and get where we need to be. But really, all these little pictures remind me that "day to day" can be pretty spectacular simply because something made us stop to remember that "moment" in a snapshot.

Anyway, I wish everyone could have this little gadget on their computer to see what I mean. Sometimes I think we are so busy taking all these pictures that we never really take the time to enjoy them later on.

So...take a moment to look up some old photos and hopefully you'll see what I'm talking about...

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Getting Saucy

As every other person who hosts a blog from the Twin Cities has reported - snow fell yesterday. After heading to bed Thursday night and asking the kids to please be quiet in the morning because NO ONE had to be up early, I awoke at 7:15 to:


from Jake. This was followed 3 seconds later by Maddie running into my room and telling me it was snowing. "Really! It's actually on the ground...and STILL FALLING! Come and look" So off we trudged to the window and sure enough...

So I won't blog about all that.

Instead, I'll give you an update on our morning's activity: making applesauce. Perfect fall timing.

So, after we got back from the gym, Tracy's crew came over and we all joined forces to make homemade applesauce. This involved Tracy and I peeling, Dad coring and the kids cutting up the slices into small pieces. Don't worry...they had plastic knives. Somehow Jake still managed to slice a bit of his thumb, but since it's still attached I think we are good.

I must say - some may have termed it a little crazy here, but it was fun. Maddie and Jake really got into the chopping spirit, and Austin tried his best to be interested - he got to try cutting with Tracy and putting the chopped pieces in the bowl, but he really just wanted to play.

Ellie climbed right up to the table and grabbed some apple pieces to throw into the bowl.....

She missed.....

Little Miss Riley just gave out smiles to Tracy and Grandma and prettied up the picture.

Four hours later the kids were enjoying the fruits of their labor.

HA!! I'm here all week, folks!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Happiness on a Rainy Day

So, I got a new laptop to replace my miserable LOUD one that I've had for about 199 years. It was actually getting hard to concentrate on my students on some days because this thing was so loud. Then one day it started to do all sorts of funny things...or rather, NOT do them, so I took my computer consultant shopping armed with my lists of must haves and found my perfect laptop.

My list of "must-haves" included - and was pretty much limited to - having a numeric keypad on the side (you know...the "10-key pad"). My job through high school and college breaks was data entry. That involved me learning how to type correctly on those and I love them. I love typing on calculators just for this reason. Have I ever mentioned what a dork I am?

Anyway, it took Mike awhile to get it working with a few of my programs that didn't seem to transfer over so nicely, but now all the bugs are out and I'm loving this thing! I've done all my billing and checkbook stuff without having to touch the upper line of number keys!

With the number keys though, I also got a wider screen! This meant I needed a new screen saver. My friend, Kristy, and I have joked about my recent reading of people that change the look of their blogs every week (seriously!) and since I'm not about to take that on, I decided I'd try doing these backgrounds a little more often. So, I created a Thanksgiving theme one.

I have to keep a blank area open on the side because I have a really bad habit of saving stuff on my drives Mike nuts.

But, hopefully I'll get around to make a new one for Christmas too. MUCH easier than refiguring this whole HTML thing on a blog!!!

Saturday, November 1, 2008 SO many ways....

Last night we had a Halloween party to attend. I told my friend I would attend on the stipulation that I wouldn't have to dress up. I'm not a huge fan of Halloween in terms of all that. I think I'm a Halloween Scrooge.

Anyway - Mike thought we should definitely dress up. But nothing ever really came of that conversation (a conversation we had almost daily). Then it was 3pm on Friday afternoon and I asked him again if he really thought we should - he said he really thought we should so he finished work quickly so we could see what Target and Party City had left.

In the meantime Maddie and I did some research on the Internet and found the perfect costume for him. When we told him he said there was no way he was going as "that". But, Target had nothing to offer for adults and Party City was a zoo. Maddie and I snagged what would help our cause and Mike finally relented.

So, at 4:30pm it was chaos here. Mike and I headed upstairs to get him ready. We threw in some chicken nuggets to cook while we dolled him up. Maddie and Jake thought they should get ready at that exact moment so between the three of them I was running around trying to make sure everyone had their proper attire.

At 5pm we ate dinner and I still didn't have a costume. I suggested going dressed as a regular person wearing a sign that said, "Nudist on Strike". Mike didn't think that was so funny. Then I came up with my other idea that required no costume buying and we were set.

So, without further's our costumes:

Madison - the wicked witch
Jake - a.k.a. - BATMAN
Kerry - the male flasher

and "Mandy"

Clearly Mike and I had identity issues last night. And yes...that's right....Mandy...he now has an alter ego. "Michelle" wasn't feminine enough for him. So, he and the kids came up with this name. Let me tell you how disturbing I found it to be when he came to give me a kiss as a thanks for helping him out. And look closely - that's right, his toenails are even painted and he's wearing lipstick!
We did have quite a few laughs through out the night though. Maddie wanted to know if she was getting a brother or sister. Jake just about bust a gut laughing the first time he saw Mike. And believe me...Mike PLAYED. THIS. UP. He had the AUDACITY to tell me how uncomfortable he was walking to the neighbors. His shoes...scratch that...MY shoes were killing him. I finally told him to zip it - I'd lived through 18 months of pregnancies. So he mumbled, "yeah...but you weren't carrying around a pillow." EXACTLY....I carried an extra 30 pounds each time. Proof positive men could never handle a real pregnancy!
He did say that while they were taking the kids around to trick-or-treat some ladies came up and said they had seen him and thought he was a real pregnant lady taking her kids out and they thought "she" was crazy. Then they got closer and saw how much hair was on "her" arms and chest and realized it wasn't a woman. And then they thought it was just plain frightening.
So, it was fun. Mike learned that there's a price for making me have to dress up and waiting until the last minute to boot. I learned that I can survive one night a year dressing up. ONE night.