Thursday, January 29, 2009


On Saturday morning I got up and made a new recipe for breakfast that involved biscuit dough rolled up around little chunks of cream cheese and baked with syrup. They weren't a total hit; not even something we wanted to fiddle with to make better in the future.

Later that day, Maddie and I decided to make a new pie. It's an apple-pear crumble pie. I don't know if that's the official term, but that's what it involves. It also involves cream cheese and Mike thought it was daring to try yet another cream cheese experiment in the same day.

In this case though, Maddie was the head baker. I was just the assistant. She did almost everything herself and I was mostly in charge of double-checking - making sure she'd done it correctly.

Jake is normally the kid in our family that will drop everything to help bake. However, last Saturday he had a yucky cough and was not allowed to touch the food. Not a happy camper at all. We finally relented and allowed him to photograph this momentous occasion. Here's a few of his shots; he's apparently more into the abstract cheesy smiles. Or faces for that matter.

The crumb mixture on the bottom...
The sink after peeling....

The garbage....I just think it's funny he took a picture of the garbage...

Maddie was SO excited to get to mix things with her hands...

This picture was after we suggested to Jake that he actually take pictures of us...

Right before the oven...

And the pie? Four thumbs up! It's definitely going into the recipe book for keeps; but we'll have a notation that says Maddie is in charge of making this one.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Future Author

Yesterday Maddie walked in the door and yelled, "MOM! My story won the Young Author's Competition!"

Last week Maddie decided to write a story for a contest at school. It had to be around 150 words (short story!) and had to involve a kid who gets the hiccups on a special day/event. The top 10 stories (after grading) get to go to an all-day conference at Bethel where they will meet authors and illustrators and get to interact and learn from them. Maddie LOVES to write stories. We have notebooks GALORE all over the house containing her stories.

And I'm happy to report she didn't wait until the last night to do it either! Major victory! She actually worked on it all week and spent the final night EDITING. She learned quickly that 150 words isn't much!

So...enjoy one of Sun Path's winning entries....

"Concert Time"
by Madison Murphy

"Class," announced Ms. Nelson, "We will be having a concert in a few days. Who's interested?"

Hailey's hand shot up. She loved to play the flute! "Hailey?" Ms. Nelson said, "Are you inter..." "YES!" Hailey exclaimed. Soon everyone in Hailey's class had a part.

Hailey went home and practiced and practiced until she knew the song by heart.

Finally the big day arrived. While she waited, she hiccuped and hiccuped! "Oh no!" she moaned. "How am I supposed to play the flute hiccuping?" She hurried to the water fountain, slurped a big gulp and ran back to the gym just in time for her part. She swallowed and began to play her song.

"Doo doo...hiccup. Toot toot...hiccup!"

After the concert, Hailey's mom hugged her and said, "How were you able to make that flute hiccup?" Hailey just smiled.

Years later, as an adult, Hailey composed the "Hiccup Song". Children loved it!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Embracing the Cold

On Friday when Jake got home he really wanted to go outside and play. It was cold on Friday, and we tried to tell him this, but he had work to do and wasn't going to be deterred. So, he bundled up after practicing piano and headed outside.

After about 15 minutes of him out there I went to check on how he was doing. And, true to his word, he was hard at work....

He's building a snowball holder for future snowball fights. He's really proud of this so far and has worked hard. Not only was it about -7 degrees when I went outside, but a lot of the plowed snow had melted, then refrozen so he was really trying to dig through half snow-half ice conditions.

When I suggested that he come in, he said he really didn't want to, "Don't you think I'm working really hard?" I agreed he was, but that it was also really cold. So, I gave him 15 minutes more because he was having a good time and really? I appreciate the fact that he can go out and have fun in minus-something weather. I'm actually really glad that he can do that.

A friend and I were talking about winter in Minnesota and how you could either embrace that it will come and go along with what you know will happen or you could fight it, but it makes for a little more miserable 6-7 months. I happen to really like winter. And I'm thrilled that someone in my family agrees with me; Mike and Maddie prefer summer.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Big Problem

This week I started and finished knitting a hat for Jake. I was really pretty excited about the results and how fast it was done. I thought I'd start making hats for everyone. Jake had picked out the colors and was excited to see the finished product.

Last night my knitting-guru at church helped me figure out how to seam the edges so it was, in fact, a circle and I was able to complete it.

Jake was excited this morning to try it on....

Small problem. Or rather, too large of a problem. Oh well, I was afraid this might happen. It's actually a man's hat, but on the model it looked kind-of small on the guy...barely touched his ears. So, I asked Mike what he thought and he thought it would be fine for Jake.

So I guess we'll say this is Mike's fault because the knitting part is actually pretty awesome.

PS: Jake didn't actually wear this to school...he thought he might want to, but we convinced him to wait a year...or 10.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Sleepy Honesty

The other night Jake and Maddie were running around in the basement - actually I think they were racing around using hands and feet. Anyway - somehow Jake rounded a corner and ran his head right into the corner of the post. He did fairly well through it - a bit of crying, but Grandma and Grandpa took care of him and Maddie made an ice pack for him. He told me all about it after I finished teaching and showed me the bump on his head.

About an hour or so after he went to bed I thought maybe I should wake him up just to be sure he was okay. So, I went upstairs and shook him a little, then a little more. I continually repeated his name and he was NOT waking up and just as I was getting nervous I said, "Jake! Are you awake?"

He did a little jump and mumbled, "Yep."

I said, "Jake...are you listening to me?"

He answered, "Nope."

And he was out for the rest of the night.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Comfy, Cozy

Last week when Maddie and Jake's school day was delayed by two hours, they were upstairs playing and decided they would dress Jake up in Maddie's pink robe and pink slippers. Unfortunately no picture exists, but they thought it was pretty hysterical.

Jake also thought Maddie's robe was SO warm and commented how he would like a robe. I was mildly surprised because Jake is like a little portable heater - the kid is always warm. He prefers to sleep in pajama bottoms only, has the coldest room in the house and still is toasty. I, on the other hand, go to sleep in a t-shirt, sweatshirt (occasionally hooded...), socks, flannel pants, sometimes slippers, have the fireplace on...and I'm still freezing.

Anyway - the other night we were at Kohl's and while Mike shopped, Jake and I went to look at sales on pajamas. Instead we found his perfect robe.

Try as hard as I could, I could not get him to go for the gray one...this turquoise robe has a race car on it and was irresistible to pass up! And he's so excited! He absolutely loves it and could not wait to wake up and show grandma and grandpa his new robe (and matching slippers!) the next morning. Then he and grandpa went downstairs in their robes and sat on the couch to watch Saturday morning cartoons.

A couple nights ago I even went up to kiss him goodnight and couldn't figure out what type of stuffed animal he'd squeezed into bed and then asked, "Jake? Are you wearing your robe to bed?" Yep. He just wanted to make sure he didn't get too cold that night.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Maddie, IT'S COLD

This morning getting dressed I told the kids to really dress warm because it was going to be very cold at the bus stop or just in general.

Maddie came into my room in cotton pants and a cotton shirt. I looked at her and explained that it was REALLY cold...not a great choice and suggested jeans and a sweatshirt.

So she re-entered my room in jeans...and a DIFFERENT cotton shirt. I just looked at her and gave her my best, "are you kidding?" look and she got all exasperated and said, "Aaah...fine...I'll wear a sweatshirt too."

Then she came back and asked if I could put her hair into two pig-tails. Usually she likes these lower so I figured that was fine. Except the pig-tails changed into a bun. She's maybe asked for a bun one other time for school...why today? I told her a bun would probably fall out after wearing a hat, so instead she wanted two braids that go into a ponytail. Good idea, to me. So, I braided the front and sides and met them in the back for a small ponytail. No...she wanted ALL her hair in a ponytail. Again, I reminded her "it's NEGATIVE 27 degrees - this means you have no hair covering your neck outside." That was okay with her because her jacket would cover her neck.

So I went downstairs where I relayed this all to my mom who is laughing (or possibly reliving the past...) and Maddie comes down wearing a sweatshirt, but her hair looks funny. So, I asked what she did to it. "I sprayed it with water so it wouldn't get messy." I was behind Maddie and I looked at my mom and did a silent scream (and mom was thoroughly enjoying this) and calmly explained that that was not the greatest idea in weather like this....

So, Maddie (getting antsy) says, "can we just get dressed and go outside and play while we are waiting?" Mom is barely able to contain the giggles at this point and I said, "MADISON. It. is. minus. 27. degrees!!!! If you were to put your head in our freezer it STILL wouldn't be as cold as it is outside. This isn't weather that you play out in. It's actually dangerous to be outside too long. NO."

Can you even imagine how the day would have gone had they actually canceled school???

It. Is. Cold.

As I sit here, the kids' school starting has been delayed two hours. They were pretty excited to discover that they had some extra time to play this morning. And for every few minutes that passes it seems that someone wants me to check if Shakopee has, in fact, decided to cancel school.

They haven't.

So, this is our morning. It's 9:26 a.m. and whatever source my computer uses ( is telling me it's -27 degrees outside. I guess you could say we did some homeschooling this morning....


Science (engineering, building?....stretching, I know)

Phy Ed

In 20 minutes they get ready for real school. You'll probably hear the wailing.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Warmth in time for the cold!

Done! Last Friday I finally finished Maddie's poncho! I've just really needed to sew the two halves together for awhile and finally got that accomplished. I still need to work on getting some successful blocking done (where the edges don't roll up) but for a first effort, I'm fairly pleased with the results. Better yet - Maddie was very excited to see her first design effort (she picked out all the colors) come to fruition and even helped me make the blue cord around the neckline.

Next up: Jake's request for a winter hat. I thought he'd go for orange, orange, and more orange, but he's requesting green and orange to match his jacket. Need to find a simple, easy, QUICK pattern for that! I may have it another library book. Better renew that one!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Christmas Favorites

As I'm getting ready to put Christmas stuff away...I know...slacker...anyway, I stopped to take a picture of some new ornaments.

Each year since we've been married Mike has bought me a Christmas decoration. The first year, actually, was a decoration (two teddy bears on a bench wearing Santa hats) - after that it was an ornament that represented something "big" that had happened that year. No matter what he gets me for Christmas (and I've gotten some amazing things!) these are far and away my favorite presents. It's fun to guess what he'll think is our "big" thing for the year...and it's fun to find out some years that what he got us didn't even cross my mind for ideas.

The last couple years I've lamented that we had an ornament for every year except that very first year. So imagine my surprise when I opened this up on our belated Christmas morning:

I was ELATED. Seriously so excited. Then it dawned on me that now I wouldn't have an ornament for 2008 and we'd never catch up. Mike must have seen my face because he said, "This year's ornament will arrive tomorrow."

Sure enough, he came home in the morning with a box for me delivered special from Germany. He'd ordered it online from a store we'd visited while in Germany last March, and one I had bought an angel playing the piano at:

This year the ornament represented our trip to Germany AND the fact that we'd worked on our basement almost the whole year. It's hard to see, but it's a German Carpenter!!

I can't wait until I have enough ornaments to fill one whole tree!!! Think of all the stories!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Afternoon project

Sunday afternoon mom and I tackled an "afternoon project" that I'd been talking about for awhile. And you know what? It really did only take us an afternoon! (NOT always the case!)

We recovered the chairs in my piano studio. There are four chairs (only two are matching) and most had been covered in a cream textile of some sort. The fourth chair is inherited from my grandma and it had a green fabric that, surprisingly, matched the room fairly well. But, all had gotten either dingy, faded, or just was outright ripping. In other words, not pretty.

So, we headed to Joanne's (currently having a fabric sale) and I found some great fabric that I loved and was pretty sure would go terrific between the colors in the living room and piano studio. Unfortunately I didn't take any 'before' pictures...that thought crossed my mind between stretching and stapling fabrics, but I was too engrossed to stop.

So, here's the finished project! I just love them - I love how the colors look against the dark chairs, and the dark floor! AND...there's enough material leftover that I should be able to fashion some type of valance for the window in that same room! We've been playing around with design ideas and have some that would require only a tiny bit more material so it stretched the length we need. I was only short by about 6 inches.

Still...this really did turn out to be one of those projects that is usually advertised as easy, and one that went surprisingly smooth once we figured out the process!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Morning Gripes

I think one of the perks of winter (and this will scream "non-commuter") is the darker mornings; my kids tend to rise with the sun. Hence...if the sun is absent, they sleep in later. I can usually depend on Jake lately to just have me wake him on a school day and Maddie is about 50/50 in getting herself up.

This morning I went into Jake's room and woke him up. He did the usual stretching and grabbing for the covers and commenced the usual morning conversation - except with a little additional comment:

Jake: Ugh. Why do I have to get up SO early [7:25]. You are always making me wake up earlier and earlier.
Me: Jake I let you sleep in 5 minutes later today.
Jake: It's just hard getting up in the morning.
Me: I's great to be able to snuggle under the covers and get up on your own time.
Jake: Yeah...I'm just boneless in the morning.

And that's where I did a double-take. Boneless? There's a few angles I could take here, I guess, so I was hesitant to ask what he was talking about.

After a couple seconds though I helped him stand up, but he was about ready to fall on the floor and I said, "Jake...come on...time to stand up."

And then he said - "But mom, I'm boneless."

And then I got it. I breathed a little sigh of relief too. All he meant was he felt sluggish and droopy in his bones. THAT I could sympathize with.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

One Show After Another

On Friday afternoon Maddie, Tracy, my mom and I went to the Ordway to see "White Christmas". We found a parking spot a couple blocks away and had to do a little light jogging to make it there on time. On the way, mom's shoe caught a cobblestone that was higher than the others and she fell. She managed to shake it off and keep up with everyone and we arrived on time.

The show was great. We were probably five rows from the front so we got to really see these great costumes and everything up close. It was a very enjoyable holiday afternoon.

However, sitting for 2 1/2 hours did nothing but tighten up the muscles in mom's back where she had wrenched something; she was sore. We had reservations at Pazzaluna and walked there nice and slow since we had plenty of time.

Upon arriving - we all (minus Maddie) ordered Chocolatinis. Good drink. Yum. STRONG drink. Wow. I was driving, so knew I was going to be limited to one. It's definitely a sipping drink - mom didn't think so. I was fairly impressed with how fast that first one went down. The waitress took that glass away and when mom went to take another sip she was disappointed that the waitress had taken her drink! Tracy informed her that she'd already finished the drink - mom didn't remember drinking it that fast. I think that may have been the point that Tracy and I both realized that this was going to be quite an enjoyable evening with mom.

By the time our table was ready, mom ordered another round for herself and Tracy. Unfortunately Maddie slept through most of dinner - she said she thinks the loud music is what gave her a headache. Mom said her back was feeling much better and ordered another drink for herself. Tracy was still working on finishing number two, with no intention of making it to three.

So, there was lots of laughing throughout dinner. Lots - it's probably a good thing we were in the corner. Tracy said mom would have been a hoot to have around in college. Then the bill arrived and Tracy jokingly asked mom if she needed help with the math. Mom assured Tracy she wasn't that tipsy and proceeded to fill out the bill. Let's just say it was a good thing we were there - or that would have been one HAPPY waiter. Mom filled out the bill for $118 - I informed her the math should have been $108. She wasn't following so Tracy told her she needed to make a zero -

and that's exactly what mom did:

That's right. Someone was about to get a $1000 New Year Bonus.

The drive home was full of laughter. Tracy thought it would be very entertaining to come home with us instead of being dropped off, but home she went. As we were pulling into our driveway I informed mom that she was going to have to get out before I got into the garage because there wasn't enough space to open the car door. So, mom proceeded to get out of the truck, and shut the door. However her purse caught in it and she was pulled backward a bit. She just opened the door, looked at me and started laughing. I told her to shut the door...AND DON'T MOVE. She did and Maddie said, "I think Grandma has had a little too much to drink tonight."

So a very entertaining day came to an end. I don't know if we'll be able to top it next year.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Learning to Compromise

Rachel was over the other day playing with Jake. You'd think they would come to clashes dealing with "boy toys" vs. "girl toys" but they seem to compromise well....

This is Jake's pirate ship...