Friday, October 29, 2010

A Silly Reward

Last night was Maddie's conferences and they were great!  Jake's were a couple weeks ago and his were great too.  I'm not surprised because it's what we expect and they know that.  But that doesn't make us any less proud of them!

So, to celebrate we went to Chipotle (their choice) for dinner and afterward we went to Michael's.  I offered for them to get a little treat for their efforts.  I offered Silly Bands.

Ever heard of these?  Jake is in love with them and has been dropping hints like mad.

"Mom...aren't silly bands soooo cool?"
"One of my friends just showed us his new silly bands...they are sports shaped."
"If I were ever to get silly bands I would totally get the ones that are sports themes.  Especially baseball."

On and on.  He's so subtle.

Now, I have avoided these as long as possible.  I just thought there had to be something better I could spend money on.  I don't know what that would be for $2.50 but I figured something had to exist.  Mike just rolls his eyes when they are mentioned.  He's not a trend-guy.

Then I thought back to all the stupid things we "had to" have.  The major one that pops into my mind (and good grief...I'm dating myself at this point...) are the charm necklaces.  My mom and dad are rolling their eyes right now remembering these things, I'm sure.

(image from

I mean...if ever there was something that was a pure waste of money?  (Though I think Tracy had a toilet where the seat went up...that might have brought us many giggles.)

Anyway, I thought the kids would enjoy these and be surprised.  Turns out, Maddie's not a huge fan; I think they are a little out of her age range.  She ended up with a book.  Shocking.  But, she was happy.

Jake - this kid was thrilled.  And his first pack he picked out...WESTERN!  What?  After we heard about the sports bracelets for a solid week?  When I told him he could get a second pack, he went right for the sports pack.  This took no less than 20 minutes to choose between all six different collections.

I don't understand them.  You can't tell what they are.  But they bring pure happiness...

In one form or another to everyone.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Gimme a Break!

I am having a moral issue with my dishes.  At least one of my dishes.  This dish:

This dish has been sitting on my counter all week.  I can't throw it away and I can't in good conscience put it back on the shelf.  This is why:

Can you see it?  It's a hairline fracture.  But, when I set it down, you can hear it about to break.  It grinds together. 

I can't put it back in the cupboard knowing it's just going to break as soon as heat is applied or someone puts any weight on it.  I can't throw it away because - technically - it's not broken yet.

And I've tried to "fix" the situation.  I've repeatedly lifted the plate a couple inches and let it drop.  Nothing, except that when I left it up again to check, I can see the small space between the fracture on the lip of the plate.

Then I try to drop it again, and nothing.  I can only drop it from so high before I know it was more than "accidentally on purpose" that it truly broke.

These are the mind games I play with myself and which Mike must contend with.  I'm hoping he knows that it needs to just mysteriously disappear from the countertop.  No questions will be asked.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Mother of the Year Nominee

Winter slapped us in the face this morning.  Crazy winds that are supposed to combine to make around 20 degree windchills today.  I turned on the light to let the dog out and we saw we also had flurries.

Being the nurturing soul that I am, I took the kids' winter coats out and threw each child's coat into the dryer for about 15 minutes before they left.  Both kids basked in the warmth as they headed out the door and thanked me profusely for thinking about them.

I did not use it to distract them from that moment when they put the jacket on and realized with their noses that I hadn't washed them after being stored all winter.  Nope.  Not the reason at all.

In other related news, I thought I was done with laundry this week, but just realized I had one more load.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Fall Fun

Last weekend Maddie was gung-ho to have some fun in the leaves.  The problem is - we don't really have many of those laying on the ground. That wasn't going to deter her though and she managed to create this pile:

When she announced the big moment of "The Jump" I told her I was impressed with how many leaves she had found.  She told me, "I know!  Believe me, I had to dig to find these!"

As you can see, we still have tons of leaves on trees.  In fact, in only the last two days have most of our backyard trees started to change color.

She counted down, and she was off...

Sadie didn't want to be left out of all the fun and was racing around Maddie trying to get her attention...

Let's be honest - I didn't want to be left out of the fun either...

But Maddie didn't throw leaves on me.

And before heading back inside, I turned to find this.  Maddie was talking to Sadie about how much fun they had while cleaning all the teeny tiny leaves out of her fur.  True friendship.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Shopping Trips

Last week during MEA vacation, I told the kids we were shopping.  Maddie needed some shoes and a winter jacket.  Both kids need boots for winter.  I didn't expect to buy most of what they needed, but I expected to find some items to keep an eye on for sales.

Maddie took a breather from trying on all those shoes.  Luckily we finally found some she liked.  Trust me...a more difficult task than it sounds!

In order to find those shoes, there was a lot of time spent trying on different pairs.  A lot of time...

Jake kept himself occupied...

If you need a fort while shopping - Jake has built one at Eden Prairie Mall's Kohl's.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

My Day

It was my birthday yesterday.  It started at 6am when Mike got up to head down to work.  He wished me "Happy Birthday" and the fireplace kicked on in our room and I realized curled up and sleeping in was going to be a pretty awesome way to start my day!

The kids had other plans.  At 7:30am they knocked on my door and marched in bearing gifts and a tray complete with a bagel and cup of coffee.  Who could turn that down?  We left the gifts for when Mike was going to be available and I finished my breakfast.  We all curled up in bed and watched cartoons for awhile and enjoyed joking around.

When we finally decided to get up, Mike was on a break from work and I got to open some gifts!

The results of a 7:30am wake-up call.

Can I just say...this is my favorite outfit?  Comfy with a capital "C".  I will probably be sporting this every single Friday for the rest of winter.

First gift:  Maddie got me some spatulas.  Probably not exciting to some, but I am THRILLED.  Quality spatulas that aren't going to break or chip or melt.  They've been on my birthday list for about two years.

Maddie also "translates" for Sadie whenever I get a card for some reason.  Sadie wrote to me: "For today (only) I will be nice to you."  Sweet.  One day.

Jake got me a lovely bracelet.  But his card had a bunch of candy on the front and he had included a "Smarty" thing of candy.  The inside said, "Happy birthday to a truly sweet person."  He had signed it, "From your sweet son, Jacob"  I was cute.

Next thing I know Jake has ripped that card out of my hand and said - "Do you get it mom?  See?  There's candy...then it's 'sweet' inside, and it's from your 'sweet' son!  Do you get it?  Do you get the joke?"

"Yes, Jake.  I get it.  I got it the first time.  I'm 37, not senile."

Mike's gift to me was this ski cap!  Soooo excited!  I had JUST pointed it out to the kids as a gift for Christmastime.  I've been looking for a hat to match my ski jacket since I got it a couple years ago.  I also got mittens to go with it, but unfortunately they don't fit.  And they aren't an exact match.  Dear North Face: please make a pair of matching mittens.  Dear Scheels: Please sell these mittens.

I'll be honest - I love my birthday and it was very fun to get gifts.  And quite a surprise - I had talked Mike into getting us tickets for Friday to see "The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins" at the Children's Theater.  I thought that was going to be my present. 

I got taken out to lunch - Jake suggested Panera so that's where we went.  The rest of the day I just spent working on translating some songs for church which was great to do uninterrupted.

We headed to Minneapolis to see the play that night.  Very good and a fun way to spend some time together.  Mike and I didn't think it was the best production we'd seen, but it was entertaining and we all enjoyed the "magic" of the hats in the story.

Afterward we headed to Cub.  Exciting, right?  ABSOLUTELY!  The only real request I had put in a couple nights ago was that we have Boston Cream Pie for my cake.  I didn't think Mike and Jake were going to find any when they went into the grocery store at 9pm.  But they walked out with one and Mike said, "They must have known it was your birthday; we had four to choose from!"

They all sang and Mike tried to figure out a way to cut the cake giving us (him and me...) the absolute largest pieces without it looking like a gross infraction to the kids.

It was a lovely day.  As I said, I love my birthday.  I can't wait until next year.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Eyes Have It

The kids are home for MEA the rest of this week and yesterday we were all eating lunch together.  I had grabbed a trail mix bag and was dining on those for a treat.  Mike, who was sitting next to me, took a couple pieces and ate them as we were talking.  Then he took a couple more.  The third time I stared him down and he shrugged.

Having watched all this, Maddie exclaimed, "You guys have this weird communication with your eyes!  It's like you talk to each other with them."

Mike asked Maddie what she thought I had told him and she said that I had told Mike something completely unrelated to the trail mix. 

Mike told her that was not what my eyes had communicated at all.  He said, "In fact, she told me that if I even think about stealing another piece she's going to smack my hand."  Maddie said that wasn't true and looked at me.  I told her it was absolutely true and it was exactly what I had told him "with my eyes".

She reiterated that we were weird.

Fast forward to this afternoon, Maddie asked if we could eat lunch downstairs and watch a movie.  She looked at me first and I replied it was okay.  At the same time she turned to look at Mike who was looking at me "talking to me" telling me he thought they'd be fine eating at the table first.

Maddie jumped in and said, "Don't EVEN start that eye talk again.  Mom already said, 'Yes.'"

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Whose Bed is This Anyway?

Jake was ready incredibly early this morning so he had a ton of time to play with Sadie.  Somehow he ended up crawling into her resting spot, cuddling her up in a blanket, and telling me that he thought he could get her to fall asleep from him petting her.

I don't think she looks sleepy...possessed, yes.  My best guess is she's thinking, "He's on my side of the bed again!"

Every girl has her woes.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

My Bacon's Cooked

14 years is all it's taken -
I have fin'lly done it!
I've learned the ropes 
On how to cook
The perfect strip of bacon!

Alarms weren't heard; smoke was not seen -
The house did not burn down.
The kids ran in
Gave two thumbs up
And snacked on mom's cuisine.

And now I can hold my head high -
'Cuz as the saying goes.
"He can bring home
All the bacon"
But mom's the one to fry.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Bump, Set, Spike

Maddie has finally found a sport she really enjoys - VOLLEYBALL!

She's tried a few different sports - tennis, swimming, gymnastics, there might have been some soccer in there, but I'm not sure.  Anyway - she's never really wanted to go out for team stuff because she normally gets nervous being on a team.  Which is precisely why Mike and I have tried to push her to at least try these different things.

Each summer the kids choose one sport and Maddie chose Volleyball.  It was one week of a couple hours per day.  She really enjoyed it.  So much, that she wanted to sign up again in the fall when they had a longer amount of time to play/practice.  So, twice a week for the last month-ish she's been going to volleyball practice and has asked Mike and I each weekend to help her practice.  Last night was their first game. 

She did pretty good.  They all played far better than I expected and there were some exciting moments when they actually got the ball over the net more than three times.  I was looking forward to seeing some "setting" (mostly  because I know that is one of Maddie's strengths) but unfortunately I think just playing the game was enough and in the entire time, we maybe saw three girls actually set. 

Maddie got a few chances to serve.  The first couple didn't quite make it over the net, but the third time was the charm and she got all three of her serves over and scoring points.  She was SO excited.  As we left the first thing she told me was, "I had no idea I was so good at serving!!"  It might be a premature statement to make, but I'll agree that as the night went on, she definitely got more agressive and into her game.  She even had one awesome bump that had a lot of the parents on the side cheering for her.  Not just us.  Or me, though I really had to hold back on my cheering at that point because I just wanted to stand up and yell, "That's MY girl!!"

And Maddie had groupies!  Not only was it Mike, Jake and I, but my dad and his friend, Pat, came to watch as well.  Tracy brought her cheering section along and Ellie made sure to call out for Maddie and "whistle" on good plays...or any plays.  And by whistle, I mean produce-a-loud-LOUD-shriek-with-her-finger-in-her-mouth.

Maddie has one more week of volleyball, then some open gym time and in November she's going to try out for the next level of volleyball team stuff.  Trying out...I never thought I'd see her going for that on her own, but I'm so proud of her doing it!  Keep your fingers crossed!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Fall Welcome

Last week when it was 84 degrees outside I thought it would be the perfect time to make our front door wreath more fall-like.  We closed the pool last weekend so I couldn't go swimming...

I went to Michael's and bought one of their fall bunches that was on sale for 50% off. 

It had pumpkins and berries and normally I just don't like these kinds of things.  But I was trying to keep an open mind. 

When I got home I realized I didn't have any ribbon that was wide enough to look balanced on this wreath.  So, I took four different ribbons I had, plus some twine from the garage and wrapped it around the wreath.

I simply cut the leaves/pumpkins/berries stems off the bunch and left as much wire attached to each grouping as possible.  I poked the wire through the wreath (which was surprisingly difficult...I kept running into knots!) and bent the wire up and back into the wreath to hold everything in place.  Nothing had to be glued and everything can be removed and reused. 

Now the boxelder bugs have a cozy place to live for the next month.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Race to the Finish

Wednesday night Jake informed us that he was running the mile in gym the next day and was hoping to kill his time from last year - which happened to be about 10 minutes 30 seconds.  He said he was hoping to get around 8 minutes 30 seconds.

We tried to tell him that was a pretty lofty goal and we all gave him advice:

Maddie told him to not stop running - never walk.

I told him to pick a spot to look at and just run to it when he was getting tired, then pick a new spot and run to it until he reached the finish - but don't stop running.

Jake said he hoped he wouldn't walk.  He thought he was going to get tired but he was hoping not to walk.

Mike popped in with his advice:  "DO NOT WALK.  Just don't do it.  You ran three miles this summer; a mile isn't going to be any problem.  Push yourself.  In fact - if you run so hard that when it's all over you end up throwing up or passing out, I'll be so proud of you, I'll take you to Dairy Queen after dinner tomorrow."

Ummm...we try really hard not to disagree on parenting decisions in front of the kids, but even I looked at him like, "Is that really an incentive?"  Mike just shrugged.

Thursday after lunch we received a phone call, "Hello...this is the school nurse calling about Jacob..."


She proceeded to tell me how Jake had been to the office about his knee after running.  It was hurting him to stand on it and she had put ice on it, didn't expect any problems, but wanted me to know."  I kept looking at Mike, shaking my head, and answering, "Yes...uh-huh...thanks for calling."

He asked what was wrong when I hung up and I told him it was the school nurse and finished with, "Jake threw up after running the mile."

Mike's eyes got huge and he was a little speechless and I fessed up that it wasn't the truth and told him everything.  He followed it up with, "Well, did she happen to tell you what he got on the run?"  Unfortunately she hadn't and the thought had crossed my mind to ask, but I thought that might not come across as stellar parenting.

When Jake got home he ran downstairs to meet us and informed us he ran 9 minutes 22 seconds.  He killed his time from last year and was so excited.  He said he rounded the first lap and heard it had been three minutes and told himself, "I have GOT to MOVE it!" 

Maddie and I went to a volleyball game that night and when we got home Mike said he and Jake had celebrated with a fudgicle from the freezer as a compromise.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

New Workspace

A couple days before Labor Day weekend, I was shopping at Schmitt Music.  Stop feeling sorry for Mike already...I didn't buy anything there.  But, I came across something I really had been wanting for awhile and something Mike and I had been discussing me purchasing for awhile.  So, I went home and told him there was a great "State Fair Sale" and maybe I should go buy it.  My business partner agreed and I went shopping at a different store where I bought the item for even less money than the big sale.

I got my new item home and realized that it was far bigger than either of us imagined it would be.  This was going to require a new space for me.  Primarily a new desk, which I'd already pseudo-designed in my head on the way home.  I've been wanting a newer, bigger desk for many moons.  I wanted someplace I could not only work at for my piano stuff, but also where I could transfer some of our "family crap filing" from the kitchen to here where it might stand a chance to be organized.  As luck would have it, my parents had invited our kids to spend the night and while Mike rolled his eyes when I told him my design ideas, he did sit down and draw up a plan with me.

So we built a new desk that weekend.  I love it.  It's not being used to it's fullest capacity yet, but that will take some time to figure out what works best for the storage we need.

But first!  I needed filing drawers.  I wanted two files areas.  One for my piano/work files and one for our family files.  I wanted something a little older looking and I came across these at Pottery Barn:

Aren't these cute?  So, I set about copying them.  I went through Mike's scrap wood and pulled out this:

I set up both his table and miter saws and cut things down to this:

I designed, drew, measured, and assembled this:

And then the big moment came to make sure the file folder actually fit and...

On the first try this file fit like a dream!  Then I screamed for joy and did a small happy dance in the garage.  Did anyone catch the hints?  Mike had no part of this!!!  When we finished the desk Mike very politely - but in no uncertain terms - let me know I was on my own for the rest because he had an insanely busy week ahead of him.

The first file took a crazy amount of time to build because I was kind of figuring and designing as I went.  However, I had been smart enough to keep notes on measurements as I went along so the second file didn't take more than 45 minutes to build at the most.  And the file fit on that one too!

Painting had to wait until the weekend, but Jake was a big help in that department.  This little man loves anything having to do with fixing/building/repairing...

The next part was all me.  I don't have pictures because I was busy painting and it's been done here several times.  I wanted a logo on each file crate that was different so I searched the internet and found a couple logos that I cut out of paper, then stenciled in with black paint.  I sanded the logos down a bit as well as the edges of the crates to make them look older and worn.  I attached handles that I thought would fit the design and ended up with:

Our family file crate:

and my piano studio file crate:

They fit perfectly in my desk.  And that?  That was absolutely dumb luck.  In my head I had my shelf openings measuring 21 inches.  They didn't; they measured 16 inches.  The hutch on top of my desk measured 21 inches.  I made the crates so they were 15 3/4 inches wide.  Whew....

And the rest of the desk? it is:

Has anyone figured out yet what I bought (besides a new rug)?

The keyboard that we designed to have fit under the top of the desk!  This newest addition hooks directly to my computer so that it will notate to a program I have as I play the keys.  This has literally shaved hours off some things I used to have to write out by hand!

But how do I get to the keyboard to play?  Mike figured out how to use side-drawer rails...

...on the bottom of the keyboard!  We used some of his heavy-duty velcro and attached the keyboard to the rails so it won't slip off.  When I need to use it, I just slide the keyboard out.  Otherwise it's out of the way and doesn't take up anymore storage space in this room.  Which is great because I really didn't have any and that always held me back from getting a keyboard!

I still have some baskets to buy and have left notes around the desk as to where I want things stored so I know how big of containers to look for.  Those will come over time and I can wait to get what works right.  I plan to make a giant magnetic bulletin board for the wall above the desk to keep some things straight and hopefully to help clean off the side of the fridge.  I also plan to get some acrylic for the top of the desk to keep it from getting scratched and a more flat surface to write on.  Someday...

But because we had to build the desk about an inch higher than most desk surfaces I needed a new chair that raised higher than others.  This was what we found and again...I put this together myself!  When it was finished I sat in it, then pulled the lever to raise it up and nothing happened.  I sat there for 10 minutes trying to figure out what I had done wrong.  Nowhere in the directions did it tell me that the lever had to be pulled out to operate it, then pushed in to keep the chair in place.  But I figured that out without Mike too. 

Even Mike was impressed by this chair building.  I'm not sure he's actually sat in it yet - he might not trust it - but he was impressed none-the-less.

When this was in place I again offered Mike piano lessons.  We now own three keyboards.  They could all practice AT THE SAME TIME!! 

Once again I was shot down.