Friday, September 28, 2012


Maddie came down yesterday morning and Mike looked at her and exclaimed, "What happened now?!?"

It's probably the most excited I've ever heard his voice.  I turned and looked at him, confused.  Maddie was confused too...then burst out laughing.

It was "Fake a Bruise" dress-up day at school.

Mike had no idea about this day.  Maddie and I had been discussing her options the night before.  I had suggested she give herself a black eye.  Obviously that fell on deaf ears.

I find two things disturbing about all of this:

1.  Believe it or not, one of Maddie's absolute favorite things to do when killing time is to use her makeup to either give herself or Jake cuts, scrapes and bruises of all magnitudes.  They both think this is great fun.
2.  For homecoming week her school is celebrating by having a "Fake-a-bruise" day.  Wha??  That doesn't sound happy and homecoming-ish at all.

She said a few of her friends wondered if it was real.  She walked into one class and the teacher very calmly said, "Nice bruise."  She had a volleyball game that afternoon; I wonder if the other team thought "easy target".

Monday, September 24, 2012

Back on the Court

Maddie started back with Volleyball at the end of August.  Well, the first eight practices she mostly attended by sitting on the sidelines.  Once her week of crutches was over, she was back to work.  Her foot is mostly back to normal; that week of crutches really did some good.

Notice her shoes?  They are new this year.  It's hard to see in the pictures, but the ties are actually neon yellow.  At first I thought...huh?  Seriously - can't anyone in my family pick normal shoes?

Then I attended one of her games and while the girls were on the other side of the court I had a hard time finding Maddie; I didn't know her jersey number.  Then I looked at their feet...

It was fairly easy to find her anywhere after that.  I guess stand-out shoes aren't too horrible.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Banned from Walking

Our wasn't bad enough that a couple weeks before school she sprained the top of her foot and spent the first week of school on crutches.

Last Sunday she headed to church wearing too tight shoes.  The result?  A massive blister that popped on her heel.  This made wearing any type of shoe with a back (read: almost everything she owns) very painful.

Mike wrapped her foot - again.  We asked if she could please stop trying to destroy her feet.  She agreed it was getting old.

After this afternoon she will have survived three volleyball practices and two games.  I'm guessing it's a barefoot weekend for her - right after we go shoe shopping.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Grapes of Wrath - Volume 2

This is really a piggy-back off my sister's post about our recent grape harvesting adventure.  (If you haven't read that - go read that first for the back story.)  I think it was my job to provide the pictures and I completely forgot to send them to her - oops.

Three hours was a really long time to harvest grapes.  I think what made it worse was that Tracy and I heard the man say lunch was at 11:30.  By 11:30 we were starving and very ready to be done. At the appointed time we dropped off our buckets and headed to the water area as did a few other people.  The difference was, while we stood around wondering where this pizza was going to be served so we could be first in line, other people started heading back into the vines to work some more.  Wha?!?  Turns out "11:30" was redefined as "12:30" and we still had another hour to go.  We managed a pretty slow walk back to the fields and they may not have gotten our best efforts on the last 60 minutes.

At 12:30 we heard a lunch bell - or what we presumed was a lunch bell.  I don't think either of us has ever stopped work so fast.  We started walking to find our food!  The pizza was from Montgomery, MN and was seriously awesome.  Tracy was one of the first in line and had taken just a couple pieces.  By my end of the line, people in front of me were grabbing at least eight pieces, so I did too.  Tracy had come back to ask me to get more for her: we. were. starving.  I think the guy had 16 pizzas and nothing was left.

We did get an overview of the orchard's schedule for the year and how different aspects of growing grapes works.  It was really interesting and the man in charge answered any and all questions we had.

He took us through the process of making the wine - in small batches.  He built the machine below.  It presses the removes the stems and other riff-raff of grapes and puts the juice into the bucket below.  The stems/skins are spit out the front of the tube.

The bucket of juices is moved to this little contraption where it is filtered -

then you are left with this: pure grape juice.

We did get to drink this and I must say, I was pleasantly surprised by the taste.  The smell?  It smelled like in dirt and fields.  Probably not the smell I'd want in my morning juice, but the taste was good.

After the presentation we were given our grape-stomping-picture-taking-moment.

Surprisingly this felt really good on your feet.  The grapes were soft and the stems were not scratchy at all.  But, as my sister mentioned, there was a line of people so you had only a few ticks of the clock to get your picture and move on.

With that, we wrapped up the day.  As Tracy said, we were told we harvested over 4,000 pounds of grapes in three hours.  When asked, the guy said it would make roughly 2,200 bottles of wine.  [Hiccup.]

Monday, September 17, 2012

Dancing Around the Issue

Tonight Jake was practicing his piano.  Typically this involves a definite "bathroom break" and several small pauses he thinks we don't hear.

I rounded a corner and ran into Mike who took my hand and started dancing me around our living room to the few little beats Jake was playing...until Jake stopped.  Mike stopped dancing - In fact, Mike froze in place.  After 10 seconds he said, "Jake!  We can't keep dancing if you don't keep playing!"

Jake just looked at him.  In the middle of the song he had had a sudden "need" to stop and clean his glasses.

"Jake!  Start playing - we can't dance yet!"

Jake replied: "You guys are going to be so embarrassing to me someday."

Mike replied:  "You have no idea, man.  No. Idea."

Monday, September 10, 2012

A New Shrine

It is absolutely no secret that I love jewelry.

Let me restate that to make sure it's understood how much I enjoy it:



It doesn't even have to be real; I'm fine with costume jewelry - in fact, that's majority of what I own.  I don't even know what it is about jewelry: the sparkles, the little extra dress up it gives anything.  Who knows?  Who cares.  Well, maybe Mike cares a little, but he's pretty good about my one little weakness.

For awhile now I have stored my growing collection in some fantastic acrylic containers that stack atop one another and fit great in my closet.  Then my collection got bigger and bigger and I couldn't find more of these awesome containers.  It saddened me greatly because I was seriously running out of room.  Plus, I couldn't see anything and was basically using most of the same jewelry over and over again.

I'd find so many cute little storage ideas on the Internet - for three necklaces, two bracelets and maybe four dangly (read: easy to hang) earrings.  I even wondered: Who are these people?  Surely, the average girl has more than nine pieces of jewelry to store!  (I even mentioned this to my sister who might have sheepishly admitted that she probably had about that much - I think she was nicely trying to make me see that I might have issues...).

Fed up, one night I laid out all my jewelry on the bedroom floor.  Mike was traveling so no one was going to step on it, and I thought it might help me visualize a better storage system.  I had this AWESOME idea that was going to go viral on the Internet once I posted it.

This was the picture I texted my sister and Mike that night - with an admission that I might have a problem. I couldn't even make it look better with Instagram because everything wouldn't fit in the square shot! This was everything laid out and it was about three feet by almost five feet.  My awesome idea was not going to work simply because I didn't have the space in our closet for it.

The jewelry then sat on the floor in varying arrangements for a couple weeks.  I searched the Internet for ideas, I searched every store I could think of, and I searched Amazon for storage solutions.  I found one I thought might work - if I purchased two storage holders.  However, at $60 a pop, I wanted a much cheaper option.

Last week I finally decided I'd go the "free" route and install a slightly modified version of my original plan.  Mike's only request was that I use up the scraps he already had in the garage.

I reorganized my jewelry in lengths and ripped and stained some plywood into 3' x 3" boards (I made six boards total).  In our stash, I found a whole box of small nails and eyelet screw things (used for picture hanging).  Knowing these wouldn't be strong enough to hold some of my jewelry Mike gave me a box of galvanized nails (without heads) he had lying around.

I then assembled all the supplies:

(The phone is to control the music which was set to "Broadway Songs".  I like to sing along when I do construction.  Everyone appreciates it greatly.)

This project took me about three hours, I would guess.  I installed a board, then went to the jewelry pile and decided which piece would go where, and then I'd install the appropriate nail/screw/eyelet.  I had to go methodically so I could have some organization, but mostly so everything would fit.  I'd hang the jewelry as I went and I slowly but surely worked my way through the massive astoundingly awesome pile.

I ended up with this:

It is located at the back of our closet.  Just about everything I own is up here.  We get to look at this beautiful collection each day!  You can imagine how happy that makes Mike every morning.

He actually informed me (when I pulled him in to look at this amazingness) that it looked like there wasn't any room for more jewelry.  That's so silly.  Nails can be exchanged for longer and stronger types, some of this can be given away if push comes to shove, and I still have room above and below for extra boards.

And don't forget the back of the door, if necessary!

I generally like to buy a "set" of jewelry when I purchase - meaning I buy the earrings, bracelet, and necklace.  You never know which pieces will be best with different outfits!  I found a way to store all the sets together so I won't need to search in different drawers, or walls, or acrylic storage pieces!

All dangly earrings hang from eyelet screws.  All stud earrings (and brooches) are pierced through a scrap piece of flannel that was stapled onto the board right next to the rest of the set.

There are only a few places where I stored more than one set of jewelry on a nail.  (I had to conserve some space).  In these cases I tried to match like-sizes and like-colors.

I'm seriously LOVING this system.  I love that I can easily get to everything.  Even more, I love that I can see everything.  I don't have to rely on my memory for what pieces I have.  It works great too.  Last week I got dressed and looked on my superstar wall and found a necklace that I hadn't worn in a LONG time and it went perfect with my shirt.  For church I pulled out a jewelry set that I'd never thought to put with a certain dress and I loved the different look it gave.

It's a win/win!  I love the storage and Mike loves that it's finally off the floor!!

Last night going into Maddie's room I saw that she had her jewelry collection laid on the floor.  She said she was inspired by my idea and had started organizing her stuff.

I don't think there is a greater compliment than to hear that from your teen daughter!

I'm so stinkin' happy with this I've hooked it up to:
House of Hepworths, Someday Crafts

Friday, September 7, 2012

Back at It

"It" being a schedule...

Tuesday was the start of school here and we had an awesome summer.  I can't say that I was overly excited to start back to school.  I can't say the kids were overly excited either.  Mike might have been a little excited about having a slightly quieter house to do his work in, but I think overall we were all okay with the having summer last a little longer.

However...I am happy about a schedule returning to things.  Or rather, us returning to a more set schedule.  I think a lot of parents are when it comes to this time of year.

Maddie's in 8th grade now and her bus comes a little after 7am.  Today was actually the first day I haven't driven her to school.  It also marks the first day she wasn't on crutches in school.

Her first week back was a little different.  A friend in class walked her to her next class to help with carrying books.  She was allowed access to the elevator to make things easier.  A couple days ago she said they were having problems getting the elevator to work.  Her friend got the Assistant Principal who took the key from Maddie and hit the "up" button about 15 times until it finally registered.  Then he stuck them in the elevator and told her friend to use her phone if they got stuck on the next floor.  Maddie said that he yelled the school's number as the doors were closing.  She said that didn't give them much comfort on that next ride but they made it to the floor.

Jake started 5th grade this year - his (and our!) final year of elementary school!  His bus comes a little before 8am.  So far he's managed to miss it once and almost miss it another time.  I don't know what our problem is, but hopefully next week we get things figured out.

He has been BEGGING us to let him wear his new school shoes since he got them at the beginning of August.  I think he has asked everyday to be able to wear them and has come up with a million excuses as to why he can't wear his old shoes.  This was one happy kid when it came time to put these on for school!

He said he likes his class.  He came home and said, "It's a good class.  It's like we've all known each other a long time...".  I told him that was good since they've almost all been going to school together for the past 5 years.  He hasn't had much homework yet.  This morning he said he was nervous that his teacher was saving it all for the weekend.

Mike and I didn't get a chance to get our golf outing in.  It was a combination of a couple things.  One, the place we purchased a Groupon to was going to be closed Tuesday and two, Mike didn't take the day off.  I guess he figured since he'd taken the previous week off that he should get back to his emails.  So, we are hoping to take a future day off to hit the links.

My students had this week off so I had vacation.  I managed to get a couple projects done - one which I'm loving every single day more and more and I'll post it on here at some point.  Next week is back to work for me too and we can say everyone will be back on schedule.

Here's to a great year!