Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Beach Bum

Last week Mike was in Florida. Lucky bum. We were here slaving away while he was off on the beach and ocean wiling away the afternoons.

Okay - maybe not quite, but he did manage to have some fun. They were scheduled to go fishing for something bigger than a Large Mouth Bass but due to high winds couldn't make it. Instead they ended up on some boat looking at dolphins.

I know...I can hear the mini-violins playing their sad song.

Mike doesn't claim to be the resident photographer, and he didn't have our best camera with him. He was getting frustrated with only catching the tops of the occasional dolphins that swam by his boat (apparently there were few of those...they were mostly hanging out by the other boats).

He did see some other friends though and was thoroughly impressed by the size of the Pelicans. (How's that for some bird-watching, Sue?)

He called us that night and said Jake would be excited because he got a great picture of a pirate ship. I believe it was more tourist than Somalian though.

He was there Monday through Thursday. He says he worked, but it couldn't have been much. He didn't leave here until around noon on Monday, was on/at the ocean all day Tuesday. He did work on Wednesday, but he was on a plane by 1pm on Thursday.

All that and he still came back as white as he left. That's almost embarrassing.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Work in Progress

I've taken to making a list. I leave it sitting on my desk. I've also entered it into my computer which syncs with my phone. The list is everywhere. I thought I'd try a new experiment and see if this makes helps me get more things accomplished that I'm actually supposed to be accomplishing (read: no novels). I decided it would be far too difficult to jump into this and be hard-nosed about it, so I just have a list, but no date on which to finish everything. But, I like to make lists, so the sooner I get this one accomplished, the sooner I get to make a new list.

The first list worked fairly well. I loved crossing things off and when my list was done - I got to take a little extra time for myself. But I also included things I like to do. My latest list has "make 5 scrapbook pages". This is both fun and really much needed. Our pictures are backing up on files and Mike would really like them organized a little better. Can't do that until they are printed and I can't print them until what I have is scrapbooked.

Anyway - I don't know if I'd call it a total success. Last night I decided to change the background of my computer. This wasn't on the list. But, it had a picture of a snowman and I figured I would throw some good karma out to Mother Nature by making it more springlike....

These are pictures I took a couple years ago of a quilt shop here in Shakopee. Far better than Mr. Snowman and his blustering (but cleverly blurred) windy background!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

This week Mike is in Florida. Jake's initial response was unhappiness - he thought Mike was going to Disney World without us.

Maddie talked to Mike yesterday and asked how his day went. Mike is there as a client and therefore is getting catered to in some things. He was originally scheduled to go fishing in the ocean on Tuesday. Due to choppy waves though, they were taken on a boat around some area where the dolphins played. Mike's group saw a lot of dolphins following the wakes of a lot of boats - except their own. But, he explained to Maddie that it was fun and he still got to see them. She replied, "I thought you were there to work." I think mostly he's been working on keeping his allergies and sinuses under control. He was actually scheduled to work - in an office - today and tomorrow.

In the meantime, we are stranded without our own computer guru and technology professional. Last night I went upstairs to watch our t.v. which is in the middle of having 3 remotes merged into one. Basically, between these three remotes I couldn't get a picture, much less a channel change. I was getting really irritated. But after an initial 15 minutes of pure exasperation I managed to sit down and actually think through things and lo and behold! the t.v. answered back with picture, sound AND changing channels. It was midnight Mike's time and I seriously considered calling to tell him the good news that I had actually accomplished the impossible (for me at least...). However, I tend to begin a lot of conversations at midnight with him and I thought he deserved a break from that.

This afternoon my mom and I realized the internet connection was down for some reason. Well, who knows if it was actually down, but something wasn't right. Mike's answer is always "turn it off and on" so I did that a bunch of times. Then I gave up and decided I just wouldn't have an internet connection until Mike got back. It's surprising how stranded a person can feel without that little connection to the world, and I can't even tell you how many times I thought, "I should email Mike and find out what the problem is with the internet." Needless to say, that didn't happen.

But, somehow all the turning off/on worked. Or maybe it was that my dad reset something and it finally kicked in an hour later. Or maybe Comcast's siesta was over and it was time to get back to work.

This is generally how things work...or don't...when Mike is gone. There is always a t.v. or audio problem and the computer always puts up a fight. Does he set this up on purpose so that while he's away I realize just how invaluable his talents are?

If so...well played, Mike.

Monday, April 20, 2009

May the Force Be with You

Saturday was a VERY big day in our house. Mike and Jake watched Star Wars: Episode IV. This is the first time Jake has ever seen anything Star Wars. We had borrowed the episodes from Rob and Jake was so excited all week to watch them with Mike. Saturday morning when we came down from waking up, Jake already had them laid out on the couch, ready to go.

It did not disappoint. Jake was enthralled. He came upstairs and said, "It. Was. AWESOME!" He loves anything Star Wars.

Sunday afternoon they watched "The Empire Strikes Back". I asked which was his favorite so far and Jake said, "Probably the one from yesterday - because it's the first one I ever saw." Nice to know he's got a sentimental side.

Sunday evening the kids were practicing their handstand efforts from gymnastics. Maddie was having a little trouble getting balanced and Jake said,

"Maddie...use the force."

If you need a reference for how the practice was going...see below:

I know the picture quality isn't the greatest, so I'll try to zoom in so you can get the full effect of how hard Jake was concentrating:

I do believe Yoda would have been proud.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Little Squirt

Thursday Jake stayed home from school because Wednesday night he threw up three times. Two of those being between the hours of 2am and 3am.

Wednesday, after I put the kids to bed, I went to our room to watch t.v. and relax. In running through the channels I hit PBS where they were playing something opera. I thought I should watch it to see if opera interested me at all. A few minutes later behind the singing I heard Maddie yell for me - Jake was sick in his room. Note: Opera drowns out a puking child. This may or may not be useful information.

So, Jake got sick and finished. Two seconds later he apologized to me for not calling out for my help. He said, "Sorry I didn't yell for you. But, I just kept squirting out."

Fast forward to 2am when I heard coughing and got to the bathroom to help him. When he finished we started talking about being sick and talked about fevers. To which he replied, "Yeah...fevers help get rid of sickness. But, then they make your white blood cells stronger, and that helps to get rid of the germs in your body." Now - I'm not totally certain those are the correct facts, and I may have jumbled them in my 2am grogginess but it still made me do a double-take. I wasn't expecting an educational hour at that point.

When I went to check on Jake Thursday morning, he opened one eye and said, "Is it time for me to have some ginger?" This is 7:30am and he's talking about gingerale which he mentioned on the second round at 2-3am. At least we know his mind isn't fuzzy with being sick.

P.S. The jury is still out on opera. I told Mike I was watching it for experimental purposes to see if I liked it and he replied, "You don't."

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Spring Signs

This past Saturday we had gorgeous weather. We kicked the kids outside as long as possible and did a little cleaning up around the place.

Some sure signs of spring at the Murphy household:

The leftover/dead leaves from the hostas and lillies are cleared away to make room for the new growth...

The pool filters are pulled out along with the bag for the winter cover...

The hoses get reattached to the house...

Some of our faraway friends and family may be thinking..."of course it's's almost the middle of April!" But, I think it was less than two weeks ago that we did see some snow here so we take these first beautiful days seriously!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A-Hunting We Will Go

I had told my family that dinner on Easter would be at 5pm. I was so proud of myself at 3pm and again at 4pm when my part of the dinner was right on schedule. At 4:15 I even remembered to check when the rolls needed to be cooked. I was ON TOP of it.

Until about 5:05 when we started setting everything out to serve and my mom said, "Where's the asparagus?"

....the asparagus. The asparagus that Mike was supposed to grill due to lack of oven space. The asparagus that would be taking at least 15 minutes to cook. I'm sure my panicked look was all my mom needed to suggest that the Easter egg hunt begin sooner rather than later.

Mike stood guard by the pool and Jake and Maddie tried to help the smaller kids look while keeping an eye out for their own hidden eggs. Jake misunderstood the instructions of, "Maddie and Jake - there is a blue and green egg you have to find." He thought that meant they each had two - so he found them both. He tried to hide it again for Maddie, but I think the other kids kept finding it.
Austin found his fairly quickly.
He was also the first to cheer on Katelyn when she found hers.

Ashley and Dan wandered around and finally came upon another egg.

Ellie wasn't too sure about the egg under the leaves at first, but I think didn't want to be left out in the end.
Then everyone scouted once more to find that seventh egg for Riley who was eagerly waiting inside for her egg filled with M&M candies.

And you know what? By the time the egg hunt was over the asparagus was smelling pretty great and dinner was ready. Whew.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Happy Easter

Hopefully the bunny was good to all.

Saturday night the kids colored Easter eggs. This may have been the fastest it's ever been completed.

In the shot above Jake was trying out the brown dye. I was a bit curious as to how this would look - it didn't seem to be a very spring-like color in my mind.

This was the result after Jake soaked it awhile. I think we'd be better off just buying brown eggs au natural at the supermarket.

Of course, Jake had to get the orange egg.

Maddie is our more artistic egg dyer. She gets into which colors go well together and how they can be blended. Some of her favorite eggs are the ones where she just starts randomly dipping. In the past, her fingers have been quite a rainbow on Easter morning but this year the paper towel took the brunt of the mess.

Our Sunday started early, but we had a lovely day.

I may be slightly biased, but we had the cutest kids at church...

Maddie was really excited about her dress (she loved the halter top part) and she knew right away that her hair styled in a bun would be perfect. If you'll also notice: no clip-on tie for Jake. We learned our lesson at Christmas.

I had to be to church early, so the rest of the family met me there. When Jake got to church he exclaimed that the bunny had left him some Star Wars Legos! In fact, his exact words were, "Man! That Easter Bunny must KNOW how much I love Star Wars!" This was said in the entrance of church; I believe the people in the sanctuary actually heard him.

After church we enjoyed a breakfast downstairs hosted by the youth group. This is actually something both kids thoroughly enjoy. I don't know why. It's tasty, I guess, but they waste no time in getting downstairs immediately after the first service. Today they stayed a little later than normal to keep me company between services. They had these little toys that were Angels and the Virgin Mary - only they were attached to springs so they would pop off the table. We spent a good 30 minutes coming up with games to play where we had to catch the popping Angels and Marys in various ways. Ahhh...the things that can entertain us Lutherans.

Later that day my family came over to celebrate with a big meal of ham and all sorts of goodies. The kids had an Easter egg hunt in the backyard. We'll finish up with that post tomorrow.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Here, Birdie, Birdie!

This morning my dad took the kids to Lowe's for the "Build and Grow" workshop that they had for kids second-grade and up. I pulled Jake aside and told him that if anyone should ask, he should answer that he was in second grade. He nodded and then processed what I said and replied, "But...that would be lying." I just nodded yes, but I told him since I told him to do it, it would be okay. Reason #487 why our kids will probably need a therapist someday.

But, they had a good time and came home with some nice looking houses. I was actually surprised at how sturdy they are. Maddie said that it wasn't busy until after they arrived and she followed it with, "I guess they all wanted to be where the Murphy family was." At age nine we can call that a healthy dose of confidence.

To be honest, I'm not a huge fan of birdhouses. I don't know why; I know some people find it relaxing to watch. So, I'm not sure where they'll end up. Mike said he could attach them to the fence, but the anal-retentive part of my psyche can't do that. I'm hoping Mr. Fix-it can come up with a way to attach a string to hang them off of something. Maybe we'll buy those planters you stick in the ground and put them in the corners of the yard where we transplanted our lillies last year. That will keep the mess from the birds that Mike hates away from the general area of the pool where everyone steps.

And no one had to commit a sin Easter weekend by lying about their age; Jake wasn't asked.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Lean Mean, Grilling Machine

Jake turn to cook dinner was Saturday night. This time around, everyone has to make something they've never made. He chose hot dogs. Obviously, we've had hot dogs before. But, Jake's never gotten to grill them so he was very excited. Grilling is his new-found love.

So, after shoveling off any remaining snow on the deck (yes...we still had snow) he got to work. Maddie wasn't super enthused about this meal; she's not a fan of hot dogs. She especially does not like grilled hot dogs...she doesn't like the marks. So, her hot dog was nuked.

Jake thought it was an especially great day. At church Sunday morning there was a small reception where they guessed hot dogs. He had eight between two services. Then it was hot dogs for dinner. He told us a story after getting home that when they were waiting for me at church, he thought he smelled me coming up behind him, but then realized it was his hot dog. I told him he needed to work on his compliments before he started dating.

When Maddie woke up this morning she opened the cupboard to find out what was for lunch at school and groaned. Hot dogs. Needless to say, she brought her lunch. Someone in the house informed Jake he would probably start smelling like hot dogs.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Aha Moment

Last night Maddie was practicing and I was giving her a little piano lesson and we were working on one of her pieces. Lately I've been trying to get her to realize that she's further along in studying than just reading the notes and playing technically. I want her to really start trying to add dynamics and create different sounds - to be a well rounded musician. We've butted heads a few times because, like most kids her age, she just wants to play everything fast and in her own words, "I just like to play loud."

Well, we got to her recital piece last night. Against her will she's been practicing diligently with a metronome for well over a week at a slower speed. This piece can fly, but I wanted her to get control of it before we start working on that. This went against every bone in her body, I think, but she did it, mostly because I was in the next room reminding her if she "forgot".

My metronome is currently under repair so I listened to her play without it and she did great so we decided to take it a little faster. Then we decided to take it even a bit faster with me being the metronome.

She got through it. And it sounded awesome. It was faster AND she put in dynamics all over the place! But the best part was when she hit the last note and we just looked at each other and she had this gigantic grin. A Cannot-Contain-My-Enthusiasm-I-ROCK grin.

Being a teacher, that moment was just one of those rare "They got it! FINALLY!" moments. Being a mom though - I was about ready to bust. Not just because she got it musically, but because for that moment Maddie had this huge amount of pride in what she had accomplished - and wasn't embarrassed by it.

Then, being 9, she decided to try it again, but at about triple her speed. I just rolled my eyes, placed my hands on her shoulders and she looked at me and shrugged. A girl's gotta try.