Monday, January 31, 2011

Ski Day!

Maddie had a field trip last week to learn how to ski.  It doesn't sound like the most "educational" field trip, but I'm pretty sure most of the local schools have them around the 6th grade to get kids learning this winter activity. 

I agreed to chaperon if Tracy agreed to join me.  I did not want to spend a day on the hill by myself.  I'm no fool; I knew Maddie was going to want to hang with friends before she hung out with me all day.

Tracy and I hit the chair lifts and were able to start skiing once our duties were fulfilled in the chalet of making sure everyone had equipment.  After that our job description was to watch over the hills and make sure everyone behaved on the way down.

Maddie had to have lessons first - a "quick" run-through of about 6 stations.  Tracy and I popped in everyone few runs to see how she was progressing.  I think in total she spent almost an hour out there learning the basics.  After that we headed down with her and her friend for their first official run.  We convinced them one of the hills was better than the others.

On the way up Maddie and her friend were nervous about their first time being on the chair lift.  We tried to give them some instructions but they were impatient/nervous and just got on.  We tried yelling last minute reminders as they approached (we were right behind them).  They didn't hear us.

Useless anyway - once at the top they tried skiing off the lift.  This is a no-no.  You are supposed to just stand and let the chair push you off.  So, KA-PLOP.  Down they went.  The chair lift guy was very nice and helped them get back up.  They swore they weren't going to ride again, but we told them they'd be fine on the next ride up. 

On the way down - well, it started great, but after two turns, they both lost a bit of control and pretty much bombed the hill.  I took off trying to catch up to Maddie's friend to give instructions or at least be there when she wiped out.  Tracy caught up with Maddie and tried to talk/yell her down, I believe.  Both girls managed to make it to the bottom without incident.  I couldn't believe that they didn't wipe out.

So, we made them get back on the chairlift.  This time just as the girls reached the top of the chair lift, it had to stop.  Their feet were literally dangling about 5 inches above the spot you exit.  The chair lift guy was inside his box waving at them to stay still.  Tracy noticed this and realized the girls thought he was waving them to jump off.  Tracy started yelling at them to STAY PUT.....DON'T MOVE....

KA-PLOP.  They chair lift guy got out again (giggling this time) and helped them up explaining he was trying to tell them to stay there.  The second time down the hill resulted in similar experience as the first time, though we didn't try to catch up quite as much.

Then the girls took off - they were done with us and wanted lunch.  Tracy and I grabbed a late lunch and got a couple runs in before the day ended.

However, we had decided to stay a little longer with Maddie and not send her back to school.  That's when the real instructions began.

We took her up in the chair lift - after ASSURING her that she would not fall off, we would each grab a side and get her off.  This worked great and we each guided an elbow talking her through it all.  She stumbled a little, but probably more from us being in the way.  Then we explained about turning and how to be a little more in control of her descent.

This went great until Maddie got about halfway down the hill - then she'd lose control and bomb the rest of it. 

Two more times up the chairlift and Maddie wanted to go it alone and did beautifully.  No stumbles, no falls and she even managed to stop before going over the other edge.

Maddie also skied a little better with each run when we were right with her.  When we started to let her go more on her own without shouting instructions at her, she would take fewer turns and lose a bit of her control.

She did best me in one area - she jumped right into using the rope tow.  I announced well before this day that I would not be going anywhere near that evil contraption.  Maddie's first few attempts on the chair lift were graceful compared to me using a rope tow.

Tracy and I had a great day.  While the hills here are just that - hills - it was still fun to get out and ski which I absolutely LOVE doing.  We've decided that Tracy will accompany me on Jake's 6th grade outing and I'll be her guest when her three munchkins get to 6th grade.  That's a guaranteed four more times of skiing for us (over the next eight or so years).

Hopefully the Murphy's will be skiing a little more in the nearer future.  Maddie, Jake, AND Mike are going to start ski lessons this week.  Maybe they'll get the skiing bug too, give me a few pointers, and we can head out as a family!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Tourney Time

Last Saturday Maddie competed in her second volleyball tournament.  We split parenting duties for the first tourney.  Mike attended Maddie's event and I attended Jake's event at the same time in a different place - I'm sure it's the first of many times that will happen.

Anyway - I hadn't had the chance to actually see Maddie in action so I was looking forward to the tournament.  I had prepared Jake that it would be a long morning.  She started at 9am with one game every hour until 1pm. 

Maddie is #84.

It was fun to see what these girls have learned in the couple months since they started practicing together.

I was pretty excited to use my new zoom lens.  We can actually see her face now.

Maddie was pretty excited with how she played.  She was happy that more of her serves got over this time and thrilled that she got to play a little longer than the last time.

Really, she does pretty good at the bumping stuff though we all discuss how she needs to be a little more agressive.

Which, by the way, sounds ridiculous coming from her mom who didn't play a single sport in her formative years.

But - I can ATTACK the piano keys.

Anyway - it was a fun morning.  I wasn't feeling great so unfortunately I didn't make it through the whole thing.  But, they did win a few of their games which was very exciting to all of them!

We have about one of these per month.  Heading to practice the other night Maddie said how much she liked going to volleyball now.  She used to hate that it took away from her reading time.  But she said she doesn't mind at all now because she realizes there's more out there than just reading.

I guess this sport is teaching some life lessons as well.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

New Hobby

Last Saturday we finally got Jake to an archery range!  This kid was excited to finally get to use his Christmas gift!

We headed to Victoria where there is an indoor range.  Maddie and I watched Jake for awhile, then decided to head out for a quick tour of the town and hit a few of the little shops we were sure were there.  What little town doesn't have a few cute boutiques?

Victoria.  Victoria doesn't have any.  It took us literally 15 seconds to drive through town.  And we got to the end of the road and we both were perplexed.  Maddie saw a Dairy Queen up ahead and said, "Do you think we could eat a cone in 20 minutes?"

So we headed back and finished watching Jake.  They weren't terrible busy so one of the store employees was really helpful in getting him started.

He shot for 30 minutes.  Poor kid - he only has two arrows and this store didn't sell the kind he needed for his bow.  So, he'd take two shots, wait for everyone else to finish all their arrows (around 6 shots) then he'd get to go retrieve his.  Next purchase is definitely more arrows!

See those deer?  Before leaving Jake told me those would be pretty cool for him to have in the backyard this summer to shoot at.  He's already gearing up to be a hunter. least we know he has the pants!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Jake has been working on coming downstairs in the morning wearing clothes that...while not exactly not make me run from the room screaming, "MY EYES!  MY EYES!"

Next goal: How to wear a hat.

He cracks himself up whenever he takes off his stocking hat.

We've learned to say each Sunday morning, "Jake..BRING your hat.  Don't wear it yet!"  He's shown up Sunday morning with some doozies in the hair department.  Really, Mike should just leave a comb hidden in the bathroom at church for as often as he's had to remedy the situation.

You know what's so frightening?  I just realized I have NO IDEA what he looks like when he gets to school.


Friday, January 7, 2011

My Baby is Growing Up!

I joined this online site called - I'm supposed to upload one picture per day.  So far I've made it, but it's day seven so I'm not slapping myself on the back yet.  BUT...I figure this will push me to take pictures and practice with my camera.

To that end, over snacks today I asked Maddie if I could take her picture.  I thought for sure she'd roll her eyes, but she shrugged her shoulders and agreed.  We didn't do anything for a special set-up.  She just sat in her chair and I shot from there.  Those turned out okay - the goal was sharp eyes and I got those.

Then she started suggesting different poses and I just went with whatever she suggested.  Good photos of my 11 year old that she's proud of?  OKAY!

Maddie liked this shot a lot.  But we were trying to pick ONE that we both liked.  She wasn't sure it was this one.

I LOVED this one.  I almost vetoed her decision but she was ADAMANT that I not use this one. 

I love the hint of a smile.  I think I heard her say something about chipmunks and two front teeth.  So ridiculous.  It's call a smile.

She was trying to be serious.  I was taking forever to get things right.  She was trying desperately to hold back a laugh.

This was a "good eye" shot.

We both really liked this shot too.  Except she didn't like her hair.  We tried to replicate this but never got it accomplished.  Jake actually said, "You look like you are strangling yourself."  Brothers.

This is a typical Maddie pose, I think.  I had her hair hanging forward and she pulled it all behind her ears and leaned over. 

I thought we were done at this point.  I thought for sure she'd beg me to finish.  But, I asked if there was anything else she could think of and she leaned over and I fixed her hair some.  I think she just wanted me to brush her hair again.  She's her aunt's niece, for sure!

But when she saw this one she was SO excited about the curl in her hair.  This was ALMOST picked.  Still one of my favorites.

See that white blur on the bottom?

That's our dog.  She was done with Maddie ignoring her and was trying to hop up.  Hence Maddie's giggle.  Really blurry, but I love it.

I like this one too...but my favorite part is the chipped fingernail polish.

All that being said (and photo-documented)'s the one we both chose:

She's 11.  And-a-half.  Yesterday she was two with chubby cheeks and the cutest voice ever!  I think I'm going to have to go find some of those pictures to console myself.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Frozen in Time

Before heading back from Iowa we woke up to such a beautiful sight!  Overnight everything had developed a layer of frost.  I just sat looking out Kay's window thinking how pretty it all was.  Then I got my camera and my boots and headed out to play with my new camera and lens.

Unfortunately I wasn't out when the sun was shining quite as regularly.  That happened as we drove away.

Up close, it was like hand-drawn swirls everywhere.

Kay has a huge tree in her front yard.  It still had a few leaves clinging to it.

Frozen spider webs and even the icicles had frozen snowflakes!

I think with all the snow Kay's backyard was just so peaceful and quaint.

We left a bit after I finished my photo shoot.  It was honestly one of the prettiest drives home we've ever had.  So pretty that I kept wishing we could just stop whenever I wanted to take pictures.

Mike read my mind and said as we were driving 70mph down the freeway, "I bet you wish you could stop and pull out your camera.  That is not going to happen."

So I snapped mental pictures.  They turned out awesome.

Sunday, January 2, 2011


Seeing as how we've lost half our snow (seriously!) I thought I'd update you on our efforts from  a few weeks ago.  After watching Maddie and Jake work on forts/tunnels for a couple days after receiving our 21+ inches, Mike and I headed out to help them.

Maddie had pretty much finished her tunnel by the time we headed out. 

This tunnel was about half the length of our driveway.  It was big enough for Maddie to fit inside almost sitting up.  Definitely big enough for Mike and I to climb through.  Outside of her fort she had also constructed several paths.  We had 20+ inches of snow - without the paths it was like swimming to get anywhere.

Jake's side of the driveway needed some work.  He'd started a huge fort at the end of the driveway. In fact, he'd started and restarted it about three times since the first snowfall of the year began.

He also had paths created, though Mike and Maddie dug those a little deeper and wider.  Those two worked at the end of the driveway shoveling out a giant hole for a cavern that would eventually connect to the tunnel Jake and I were working on.

By the time Mike and Maddie finished, they had a cavern big enough for all four of us to sit up inside!  And we weren't squished!  Maddie and Jake embellished it by adding a "deck" to the top complete with surrounding walls of snow boulders!

As I mentioned, Jake and worked on the connecting tunnel.  He had started this several times, but I think he lost oomph after having to restart the cavern at the bottom of the tunnel every time it snowed.

Mike and I had each chosen our own tools from the garage to work with.  I chose a long spade shovel and this rocked!  I was able to get it dug out enough that we could start climbing inside.  After that it was amazing to watch the kids jump in and take turns digging it out!

And let me clarify - it wasn't amazing because they were working so well together (though that was pretty awesome).  It was amazing because they were like little moles!  During my turn, I was digging with a little garden hoe.  Maddie?  Her arsenal consisted of her fingers.  She clawed away at the snow, pushed it out for the rest of us to collect, then clawed more.

(That's Jake in there...or Maddie...either way, this picture is probably making my claustrophobic mom hyperventilate.)

Jake used everything.  Fingers, feet, shovels.  I bet in a cartoon they each would have just had these round circles where their hands or feet were.

We eventually got this tunnel wider and much longer, but we never got it connected to the cavern.  We were getting pooped and some of us were losing feeling in our toes and claimed to be getting frostbite.

I swear it wasn't me!

But as I mentioned, much of our snow supply has dwindled.  It's also been rained on, and frozen.  What was once a great fortress has collapsed.

But, Jake just came in to tell me the new plans he and a friend have for the ruins.  The dream lives on!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Ringing In The New Year

Last night Maddie had her first New Year's babysitting gig.  Mike, Jake and I were going to celebrate low-key at home.  That changed when our neighbors invited us over for an evening of games for the adults and movie watching for the kids.  Thanks, Schroeders!

At 11:50pm we walked all the way across the street to get home and headed downstairs because we had promised Jake that he could watch the ball drop.  We counted down the seconds and at midnight whooped and hollered and I wished Jake a Happy New Year, leaned over and gave him a New Year's kiss on the cheek.  He gave me a hug, wished me Happy New Year and returned the kiss.

Over on the other end of the couch, Mike said, "Hey!  What about me?  Where's my kiss?"

Jake walked over, hugged him and pecked him on the cheek and said, " want a kiss, you have to go get her."

Mike said, "THAT'S my boy!" 

Pride shows up in the weirdest places.