Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Awesome Crap Sale!

Today was the beginning of our "Awesome Crap Sale!"

Some people refer to these things as garage sales.  Not us.  A little over a month ago my sister, my mom and I set a date for a garage sale.  Tracy has been the most diligent about getting things prepared.  She cleaned out her basement - or at least most of it.  Mom aimed to get rid of a lot of furniture and possibly some other awesome crap.  This past Monday to celebrate Memorial Day we ambushed our kids and ransacked their rooms for things to sell.

We also needed signs and last night Maddie and I worked on those.

(all photos by Maddie)

First we walked through Joann's to get supplies.

We planned our art by first penciling in everything.  We later discovered this was a mistake and free-handing was our best bet.

It was at this point that I think Maddie was more excited to take pictures than to paint.  I was shocked (and so proud!) when she said, "This TOTALLY has to go on the blog!"

We had such success last year with our Wednesday sale that we decided to do it again this year.

The finalized piece of art...

Well, that one does kind of look like crap.  There were a ton of paint smears while trying to erase pencil marks.  Hence, everything was drawn free-hand after this and things were much nicer looking!

Today was our first day...BUSY!  The first people (from our Craigslist ad) showed up around 10am.  They were super nice and decided to come back at 1pm (we had no money and were not even all set up).  I hung our signs around 11am and by the time I returned around 11:30 my parents were crazy busy with all the traffic!  For about an hour it was SOLID business for all three of us and Tracy's poor kids were in the background trying to remind us that they existed and were hungry!!  Don't worry...I tossed some graham crackers their way to keep them nourished.

And people loved our signs...some even told us that it was the only reason they had come to the sale...just out of curiosity.  One lady even said, "You know, I saw your signs and I gotta do have some awesome crap here!"  No false advertising from us!

Tomorrow is Day #2 of the "Awesome Crap Sale".  I know Mike is walking around our house wondering what he can add to the garage.  I think my parents were planning on adding more.  I don't know if Tracy even has anything else left in her house, but if so...I bet it'll have a tag on it by tomorrow morning!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Pops Concert

I have been back at the Middle School the last couple weeks practicing with the choirs for their final concert of the year.

This concert was their "Pops" Concert and featured those types of songs.  This year the 6th graders did a lot of Michael Jackson songs.  If I don't hear "We Are the World" for a few years, I'm good.  They also did a couple medleys from Broadway that I loved.  

The 7th graders sang a slew of older type "Pops" tunes.  I wasn't sure they were going to be able to pull it off, but they all peaked at the right moment - this was definitely their best concert!

The normal dress code for concerts is white shirt, black pants.  The kids had to keep that dress code, but add a "splash of color".  Maddie's Select Choir didn't wear their regular red shirts, but instead dressed all in black with a bit of color or could wear a colored shirt and black pants.

Mike tried to get the Select Choir video taped, but his phone died and we hadn't reviewed how to take videos with my camera.  It's too bad.  Their songs were SO great.  They floor me that it's all 6th and 7th graders and there are only about 40 of them.  Their last song was "Seasons of Love" from "Rent" and at the end their teacher had tears - it really was that good.  I guess when she turned to the audience to bow Jake leaned over to my mom and said, "Wow grandma, she cried faster than you!"

And how awesome is my girl?  We had to be there from 5:30 to after 9pm.  Everyone was on their own for dinner between concerts.  Maddie ate early, but I had to teach from the time I got home from school until 5:30.  She packed me a bag "dinner" including a note!  She gets a note in every meal, and I always wonder if she really likes them.  I have to say...those are just as fun to get at 38 as they were when I was 10!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Track Day

School's winding down and last week Jake had his Track and Field Day at school.  It was a gorgeous afternoon with a lot of sun and a nice breeze.

First up was the 50 yard dash...

After that was the hula-hoop.  He came in second on this one.  It always amazes me 1) how many boys sign up for this and 2) how crazy good these kids (girls and boys) are at it!  The teacher has them walk forward/backward, jump, get on their knees and back up, walk on their knees.  This year he ran out of things for them to do before everyone was disqualified so the girls ended up having to hula with their arms at their sides and then try to get the hoop around their necks - and he had to do this a couple times before there was a winner!

The third event was the much anticipated tug-of-war between the classes.  The kids really get into this, but the parents are on the sidelines cheering just as hard as if they were pulling the rope themselves!  

Last up was the shoe-kick...

With that the afternoon at the fields ended and everyone is one step closer to the last day of school!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Spring Rituals

Last night when we got home from dinner Mike decided to look at our sprinkler system.  He was in India last week and I had emailed him to let him know that, despite my best efforts (including trying to get the sprinkler system to run, and ultimately watering by hand), there was a good chance all our grass was going to die before he returned.

It didn't completely die, but it isn't pretty.  During testing the kids thought it would be a great idea to start off the warm season with some sprinkler runs.

Now, it had been 90 degrees on Friday and around 85 on Saturday.  However, they decided to run through the sprinklers at about 8:15pm.  It was starting to cool down.  The water certainly wasn't heated...I think it was a shock to both their systems.  I apologize to any neighbors who had already laid their little kids down for the night.  Our children's screams probably woke them up!

Once they got used to it though, they couldn't stop.  Well, Maddie would stop but Jake wouldn't and then Maddie would be right back in the game.

This lasted until Mike finished testing the front sprinklers and tested the back ones.  Then the kids decided to warm up in their towels and air dry by jumping up and down...

We all headed to the back to check on Mike to make sure he was doing everything correctly.  Maddie thought she'd test out the pool waters (the leak being recently found and patched) and was probably wondering if we'd kick her out.  It was dirty.  It was cold.

I figured "More power to you" - as long as she wasn't asking me to join in.  The water was 70 degrees.  Pretty soon she decided she was going under and came up yelling, then realized she was fine.  Jake went off the diving board and came up screaming.  When he realized he wasn't an icicle they stayed in the pool for another 15-20 minutes.


But we can say that all "water contraptions" in our yard have been tested and they are definitely ready for the summer months ahead!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Yard Work

We have been really busy with the yard work the last couple weekends.  Here's a recap -

1.  Pool Time:  We opened the pool a couple weekends ago.  We figured we'd find green water and we did.  We also found about 3 1/2 feet less of it than we expected.  Seems that at some point over the winter our pool sprungeth a leak.

Of course it's the busiest time of the year for pool companies, but luckily our installers were able to fit us into their schedule and we *hope* they find said leak this coming Thursday!  On the positive side - we have managed to get the water super clean and clear!

2.  Clematis Vines:  I'm happy to report that the vines are growing really well out front this year!

Last year they were a little sparse and I was more than a little nervous.  We had just a few purple flowers and the white (middle) ones didn't bloom until late fall.  I think we had a total of three pink flowers by last fall.

Not this year!

Pink is sprouting all over and they are HUGE and so pretty!  The blooms are much more full than last year.  Maddie has commented more than once that she thinks they look fake.  It's also kind of fun to hear the kids say each morning as they leave for school, "these flowers look so great!"

The purple and white have yet to make an appearance, but I haven't lost hope yet.  I doused everything with Miracle Grow yesterday so hopefully that stuff is true to its name!

3.  25 Perennials:  That's the number of plants I bought on Saturday morning - and that was after the kids declared I needed to stop shopping!

I found this GREAT nursery called Ambergate Gardens located just outside Victoria.  The kids and I made a road trip there on Saturday morning.  You have to want to find this place - first, because Google takes you to the completely wrong spot.  Second, because there's a tiny turn-off and a dirt road that you feel will never end.  Suddenly you are in a clearing surrounded by thousands of plants.

This place only sells perennials, and I believe they grow them locally. What I loved was that they had so many varieties that I didn't feel I was buying the same thing that everyone else buys from Lowe's, Home Depot, or even other local nurseries.  At one point the woman helping me said, "Don't buy that grass!  Everyone buys that...get the different kind," which is exactly what I wanted to hear.  They were also so incredibly helpful.  I showed her a picture of our backyard and she said, "Whoa...I guess you are wanting to break up that fence!".  YES!!!  She walked me around and pointed out plants that would get really tall and how to balance them out overall with shorter plants.  

When we got home Saturday I got to work planting and got about half done before it was too dark.  Sunday afternoon I finished the rest and by the last three Maddie was out helping me.  Any oomph I had to finish it was gone.  I have a great sun burn on my back to show for it and today was the first day I haven't winced every time I sat down.  Hopefully in a year or two we'll have some great growth and a fence that doesn't look a mile long.

4.  Bunny Tree:  Last but certainly not least we must have a yearly deformed tree or it wouldn't be our yard.  A few days ago a neighbor was out for a walk and commented on our bunny tree in the backyard.  I knew which tree she was referring to because from our family room windows I could see the "ears".  However, when Mike and I were in the yard last Friday I looked up from a different angle and saw this:

 Next year I'm hoping one of the other super skinny trees turns into a giraffe.

Friday, May 11, 2012

T-Minus 18-24 Months

On Tuesday big changes took place for Maddie...

She got her top braces put in!  She was quite excited to get this process started.  Her teeth were really starting to bother her.  Her mouth was so crowded; she has had one tooth that hasn't been able to grow into place and is way up high in her mouth.  She had oral surgery a couple weeks ago to remove two adult teeth to make room.  Mike, Jake, and I had a few giggles over her recovery from being put to sleep for that, but she has no recollection of anything.

Her mouth is still fairly sore but she knew to expect that.  I think the anticipation of braces was far better than the reality.  We just keep telling her though...think of the end results!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

An Evening of Music

My students' recital was last Friday night.  This meant it was also Maddie and Jake's recital as well.

Thank goodness Jake likes to dress up.  He actually likes wearing ties and didn't flinch when figuring out what to wear.  He looked nice and he did a great job!  He played a Sonatina in C (a very classical sounding piece) and a song call "Turbocharged".  As you might have guessed, song #2 was pretty fast.  I've actually had to tell him several times during practices that he needed to slow it down.

Maddie wasn't too fond of getting dressed up for this event.  We butted heads a little, but I won.  She looked great and also did a really nice job.  Most of her practice time was spent on "Flight of the Bumble Bee".  Last year she played a pretty modern sounding piece.  I loved it - Mike wasn't such a big fan.  After hearing the Bumble Bee song for a couple weeks, he asked me if she could ever play a "normal" song.  I told him she didn't particularly care for my "normal" suggestions.  I found her other piece and asked her to play it - but mostly to make Mike feel better.  This piece was "Hungarian Fantasy" and had a lovely slow section followed by a fast section.  Mike's already put in a style request for next year's recital.

I don't normally sit on stage with my students.  I wish I hadn't had to, but we had some music blowing issues and I didn't want that to interrupt their playing so I was there "just in case".  I think I have it figured out for next year how to remedy this.

At the end of the recital I asked Maddie and another student to play a duet I had found.  I'm always explaining to my students how classical music and pop music can, and often are, very closely related.  I usually get rolled eyes or some giggles.  I found the piece "Lady Ga-Ga Fugue" and these two practiced so hard together.  I loved the piece and they had a good time playing it.

As they entered and exited stage, they decided to dress the part and each wore a "crazy" pair of sunglasses; Lady Ga-Ga inspired!

As the teacher, I was very proud of all my students.  As a mom I was super proud of these two!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Bird Banning

Mike IM'd me a few days ago and typed, "birds had nested in our microwave venting.  This is the end of nesting at the Murphy's."

Mike has had our stove fan running for the last couple days, hoping that would scare them off.  Didn't work.  Last night he had to clean everything out..

This involved a huge mess.  Straw, sticks, and feathers were everywhere.

Mike had to really work to get it cleaned out; those birds managed to pack that tiny area quite full!

He did get it cleaned out and there was a new vent cover put over it with a screen.  I'm headed to the siding store to buy a better model - and one that matches the house.  I've already chased away two birds this morning that stopped by our deck with a mouth full of straw.

Our dog?  Zero help.  No chasing them.  No barking at them.  She'll bark at everyone and everything else, but not birds.

And apparently, here's a birds-eye view of our house:

The straw and feathers were only part of the mess they've left behind:

Our other backyard windows are just as dirty.  Except they managed to get everything through to the screen as well.  Thank goodness those windows had been shut!

There is currently a nest under our deck.  We have a couple of those every year.  I'm fairly sure after this nest is fully taken care of that Mike will be planning how to finally get rid of the deck nests.  Mike joked that the children will be heartbroken.  But, as I informed Mike...we got them a dog.  That's all the animal planet we need.