Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Week #4

I was really sweating this week out by Wednesday.  WE ARE NOT GIVING UP four weeks in, people!

I casually - as in stopped everyone at breakfast - and "reminded" them that it was Wednesday and I had ONE picture for the week.

My family came through.  Maddie and Jake each threw in a photo and I managed to find the "everyday" in the pictures I took.  I even ended up not using pictures for lack of space!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Bad Sign

Maddie has missed a lot of school this year either due to headaches or just plain being sick.

Yesterday she had a headache and said her stomach felt really yucky.  She ended up throwing up last night and this morning said she still had a headache.

I called school to let them know she wouldn't be coming in.

Kerry:  Hi. My daughter will be home sick today.
School:  Oh, that's too bad.  Is this for Madison?
Kerry:  Uhh...yeah.  Wow.  That is not a good sign.
School:  Oh, not a problem.  I just saw the caller ID and recognized the number.

That last sentence did not make me feel better at all.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Ice Cream Stop

When we are in Iowa, we ALWAYS make sure to hit the local ice cream parlor that Mike worked at through high school: Whitey's Ice Cream.  During our Christmas stay in December we were so busy that I wasn't sure we were going to get a chance to stop in.  On our drive out of town, Mike looked at me with raised eyebrows, "Do we stop?"  It was 10:10am.  Whitey's had been open for 10 minutes.  We decided 10:10am was as good a time as any to have a lunch break.

Inside we were able to meet up with Mike's former boss.  She pretty much runs the show and because not many people were there at 10:10am, we were able to talk a little longer.  She's been with Whitey's for, I believe, 30+ years.  She's always so friendly and I just love that she recognizes us and takes a minute to catch up each time we see her.  (Our kids stopped by without Mike one time and she even recognized them without him along!).

After all these years I was able to snap a picture of Mike and her together...

We grabbed our large shakes and malts and hit the road after this.  Have ice cream, will travel!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Our Week in Review

I promise all the posts won't be our updated week - but I guess they will lately!

I thought this past week there wouldn't be anything to report on.  But my family came through with pictures and I ended up having a lot to say about the week!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Project Life 2013

I read a lot of blogs.  Actually, I subscribe to a lot of blogs on a lot of different subjects (decorating, piano teaching, decorating, food, crafting, decorating...)  I read them when I can.  One blog I follow is a well-known person in the scrapbooking community who is also a St. Paul resident.  All through 2012 she worked on and completed weekly pages for her family album through Project Life.  I was super inspired each week. I love scrapbooking, but the whole "print the pictures...pick them the pages...pick the accessories..."  -  I just don't have much time for it right now, despite my total enjoyment of those pages.

On January 1st during our celebratory lunch out, I told my family of my plans to try this scrapbook project.  They were SUPER supportive of me during my 365 project and constantly asked me questions about my picture of the day and helped hold me accountable.  The caveat with this project though: I wanted it to be a FAMILY project too.  I told everyone that I wanted pictures OF everyone, BY everyone.  We all have regular cameras or phones, or tablets or iPods.  I really didn't care about the quality - I wanted pictures of our everyday life each week.  And I wanted to be IN them too.  Mike and I have seen the effects of not having pictures from special people in our lives.  He was disappointed to realize he had very few pictures of his mom when he was growing up; I don't want my kids to know that feeling.  I want them to know I was/am involved in their lives. So, I made a general plea to get me in some of those pictures too.

What's been great?  I've seen the kids taking pictures of things.  Jake snuck a picture of me last night.  We are getting pictures of our regular lives.  The pictures aren't all stellar - many are grainy or badly colored.  But at the end of the last two weeks I've asked everyone to email their pics or I've downloaded them from cameras.  I've picked out the ones that tell the story for the week and drop them in the templates I've created.  I didn't buy the whole Project Life digital set because I'm cheap frugal.  The templates took me - maybe - 45 minutes to create.  The actual pages are taking me a bit longer than I expected before I started but that's because I've been creating the cards to use as I go.  Once I have a stockpile of designs to use, I think it will go faster.

The results?  Here's week one:

Page One:

Page Two:

Week 2 - Page One:

Page Two:

I'm loving my time editing the pictures - ESPECIALLY the crummy quality phone or tablet ones.  I'm super excited to be catching the little conversations and writing them down before I forget them.  I signed up to a website that emails me at the end of each day and I reply with our day's events.  It's Oh Life.  There is another one called Day One that I would probably prefer because it can be set up to prompt me for info whenever I want reminders.  However, it's only available for Apple stuff.  (Hello App creators??  Android stuff covers 47% of the market...).  My pages are all digital which is completely new to me so adds to the fun.  I literally just drop in my pictures after minor editing and the layout is practically completed.

Anyway - I'll try posting our weekly recaps - at least we know something will get on this blog then.  I'm just super excited about this project and LOVE the fact that we are ALL involved.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Jake is 11!

The end of December brought Jake's birthday around.  This kid thought the week had been the BOMB!  Here was his schedule:

12/22 - open presents
12/24 - open presents
12/25 - open presents
12/27 - open presents
12/28 - open presents
1/5 - open presents

We were given strict instructions for his birthday:  He did not wish to be woken up prior to 9am.  He also did not want to sleep later than 9:30am.  He wanted donuts for breakfast followed by opening his presents in the morning rather than at night.

Somewhere between our allotted time we had breakfast and he ripped into his pile of gifts...

The presents he opened were from his Iowa family and the three of us.

Jake LOVES wearing a robe in the mornings or when he's having a pajama day.  Let me stress...he loves wearing his robe.  However, it was old and small and looked like a tiger (or someone's dog???) had ripped it to shreds in the back.  He was only too happy to receive a new one...and one with a hood!!

His other gift from us was a new Lego set.  The box was so big (and our wrapping paper supply so small) that we wrapped a small gift with instructions inside to look in the bookcase to find his gift.

This fall we purchased skis for all of us and Jake had been itching to get on the slopes.  We offered some ideas for skiing and Jake opted for night skiing.  Off we went!

We had a super night!  The weather was gorgeous and we rarely headed inside to warm up!

 Jake told us he wanted to go off the jumps beforehand.  We told him that wasn't his wisest course of action; we wanted to see him ski first and get used to being back on these contraptions a year after his lessons.  Once we saw him skiing Mike and Jake headed over to the free-style area where Jake worked on the smaller "mounds".  He was pretty excited to get better and better each time going over these.

I offered to record his took a couple tries, but I finally got it.  It won't win any Oscars, (and if you get motion sickness, skip it) but my favorite part is the very end...

To be honest, after watching the video he was really upset.  He said he felt like he was flying through the air, but as it turns out, he was barely getting off the ground.

On the last run of the night we all got to the top and headed down the hill.  Maddie, Mike and I got to the bottom and turned around wondering where Jake was; he had been right behind us.  We suddenly realized that the kid skiing down the hill heading for a 6 foot jump was Jake.  There wasn't anything we could do except hold our breath.

He got to the jump - FLEW into the air - and landed....and then fell back on his butt and back.  We were all just about to cheer and had our hands in the air - it was a little crushing for all of us, I think.

He skied over to us and we all relived the craziness of him almost landing it - then we informed him he wasn't going over ANY jumps/mounds until he had a helmet to wear.

A week later his Minnesota family came over for a celebration -

He went through the "spanking machine" where he gets paddled as many times as anyone can get him.

Sometimes knees are locked to trap the birthday person and sometimes he gets sat upon and whomped...

Dairy Queen cake followed and we all sat to cheer the Vikings on to victory...or not, as the case turned out to be.

I think he had a pretty good set of birthdays and he's already wondering when we are going skiing again.  Not before a trip to the local store though for some headgear!

Monday, January 7, 2013

OUR Christmas(es)

Our own Christmas started early this year.  We really debated over when to celebrate our own family Christmas and asked the kids what their votes would be (though reminding them it wasn't a democracy...).  In the end we decided to have an early Christmas at home.  The Saturday before Christmas was deemed the unofficial "25th" in our household.  The beauty of it was that since it wasn't a traditional holiday, all the stores were open and Mike was able to get us donuts as a special treat!

After breakfast we headed downstairs to open a few gifts.  Each kid receives five presents and we had decided to have them open three of them, saving two to open on Christmas day in Iowa (per their request...we aren't totally dictatorial).

Be forewarned: we aren't the family that buys super cute matching pajamas so our pictures look good on Christmas morning.  We aren't even the family that brushes our hair before gift opening so some of these aren't pretty....

Sadie was up first in hopes that she would be kept occupied with her "surprise" gift while the rest of us were opening ours.

Jake had wanted a pair of headphones for quite awhile.  He had taken no great pains to remind us constantly of how much he wanted a pair.  While we couldn't/wouldn't gift him with the $200 beats by Dr. Dre pair he thought would work, he seems pretty happy with the pair he received.

We had the kids open their second gift at the same time since they were getting the same thing.

The bow tradition was upheld - even amidst those less enthusiastic than others..

They opened their first box only to find a smaller box wrapped inside.  I had completely forgotten we'd done this (happy 11pm wrapping!) so it was a fun little surprise for everyone.

Both kids received a tablet for their big presents.  Maddie had told us she KNEW she was getting one of these.  Admittedly - we weren't exactly super stealth on some of the research here, but no complaints from the peanut gallery!

At this point, Christmas slowed way down for us.  Everyone wanted to see how these things worked.  Such a geeky family.

 After a bit Mike and I were allowed to open gifts again.

Mike has really enjoyed learning about new wines over the last year and had recently been on a work trip and had raved over a new wine he'd tried.  It made his Christmas list and he was SO excited to get a bottle for Christmas.  I thought it would be saved for a special occasion.  It was: that night's steak dinner.

I got some goodies too!  At the top of my list had been a new purse, but inside was a surprise: a reusable bag that I had been eyeing at the Container Store for months!

I love that it scrunches up into a ball - fits so easily in my purse and works SO AWESOME.  Mike promised me he'd buy another for me sometime because he said, "I know you'll never buy yourself one."  I've already used it multiple times at Target and am ridiculously giddy when I pull it out.

The rest of the day was spent lounging around, studying manuals and books and websites.  Did I mention we are geeks?

Well...most of us...

Christmas #2 for us was in Iowa at the hotel.  Jake was super excited that there was a workout room so on Christmas morning he, Mike and I headed down for a "workout".  Maddie thought we were all insane.  Jake and Mike actually did things while I spotted for Jake's weight training while watching HGTV.  Afterward we headed to breakfast and to the room where the kids opened two small gifts.

Jake was only too excited when he found out the hotel offered free tea in the lobby area.  He had a cup in hand every chance he got.

Gift opening was pretty simple, but nice for them to have something to celebrate the day...

The rest of the morning was spent watching a movie and knitting until meeting up with our family.

Christmas #3 was back at home where stockings awaited us.  No pictures exist from here because, quite frankly - I was kind of Christmas-ed out at this point.  I think we all were.

So...that ends the holidays - at least the national ones - for around these parts.  We had a  many lovely Christmases alone and together with family.  We are very blessed!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Christmas a la Iowa

This year we headed to Iowa to be with Mike's side of the family for Christmas.  The time down south went extremely fast!

Christmas eve we headed to church in the afternoon and after changing clothes met back at Pat and Missy's for dinner and gift exchanges.

We may have tortured the kids because during dinner we started watching "Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium" (which if you haven't seen...DO!!)  Anyway - we kept postponing gift opening until the adults were finished watching the movie.  Ahhh....the joys of holiday torture!

While everyone was setting up their spots I coerced convinced Steven to get a picture taken with his mom.

Then opening began.  We went around in a circle and paper was flying everywhere!

All the giggle girls together...

During a break in the action we were able to get an updated picture of all the kids together.  Yikes...they are all getting so much older - and bigger.  I remember when all of them could easily sit across the floor in a single line!

Round two of opening gifts!  Each family was given a pretty new ornament for their tree.

20-year-old Steven received an Iowa Hawkeye Bottle Opener.  I don't know why he would need that...there aren't many  pop bottles around anymore.

Aaron was a trooper that night.  He opened our Legos and then opened his next box and it contained the exact same set of Legos.  What are the chances of that, really?  But he was still very excited and went to work getting everything put together.

Each kid had a big bag to open from our friend, Carolyn.  Jewelry, socks, stuffed animals; those girls were going to be super comfy!

After gift opening the boys broke out the dessert - Apple Pie or Chocolate Mousse.  The Mousse was fairly rich, but I managed to eat my entire piece...and scrape the plate clean.

Christmas morning we spent at the hotel.  Mike and the kids watched "The Avengers" while I sat in the other room and watched HGTV and worked on some knitting I've been trying to learn.  In the afternoon we headed over to his aunt's house for a family gathering of his mom's side of the family.

There are a lot of kids on this side of the family.  Truth be told, there are a lot of kids on both sides of his family.

We had a white elephant gift opening.  This was highly entertaining at times!

Jake ended up with a serving platter that you can imagine he was pretty excited to receive.  He managed to pawn it off on Mike and we left it in the good care of Pat and Missy who thought they could use it.

The hot ticket items seemed to be the home-made laundry detergent, a remote control, and for awhile, just about anything Uncle John chose.

A. received a conglomeration of stuffed animals and tried his hardest to get someone to take them off his hands.  Even his grandpa refused them...but he managed to get rid of them to one of his youngest cousins later.

Mike's aunt opened up the giant bag that had been driving me crazy with curiosity.  It ended up being a bag FULL of outdoor toys - giant balls, jump ropes, and I can't think of everything.  She has a baby grand-daughter who is going to LOVE those one of these days!

It was a very full day of hanging out and getting the chance to catch up with family that we only get to see a couple times a year.

We were in Iowa about four days and like I said, it went incredibly fast.  Unfortunately, we never really had the time to head out to visit friends or even the other side of Mike's family.  We'll definitely have to do better planning on the next trip!  The kids had a blast hanging out with their cousins and I think everyone created some new memories until we see each other again!