Friday, May 31, 2013

Project Life - Week 21

I went a little crazy with patterned paper - "more is better" was apparently my motto this week!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Track & Field Day


Last week Jake finally had his Track & Field Day.  It had been canceled two times before this due to rain.  This was, I believe, the only day last week where we actually had sun.  The fields were sopping wet but this school was bound and determined to get in this outside day!

Jake's first even was the 50 yard dash.

He ran hard, but I'm not sure he actually placed.  Of course, everyone's a winner so they get participation bracelets too.

Next up for him was hula hooping.  He's done this every year.

Because all the kids are so good at it, the teacher makes them walk, jump, close their eyes and all sorts of things.

"Stand on one leg" got Jake in the end.  He came in third, I think.

Next up was my favorite: the tug-o-war!

Unfortunately Jake's class lost their first two matches - but it wasn't from lack of effort as you can see.  The ground was so slippery - and this was absolutely the driest area out there!  I thought for sure all these kids were going to be a muddy mess when finished, but they did okay.

His last even was the Vortex Throw.

I'm not even sure how he did here, but I don't think he placed.  At the end he said he was disappointed that he didn't place better in all his events, but he was SO EXCITED about the color of his bracelets that he did get; they were the best colors anyway.

This was our final Track & Field day in the Murphy household.  Honestly - I'm not sad about it.  I don't know why but this one of my least favorite activity days.  I think it's the "field" part - I don't mind cheering on runners or watching the tug-o-war, but that field stuff doesn't do much for me.

It's been a good run for both kids and this was the first of many "last events" as Jake winds up his elementary school years!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Project Life - Week 20

Squeezing this one in for the week!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

A la {piano} Carte

I dawned on me months ago that my piano studio would really benefit from a small desk that could sit next to  the piano where I sit teaching.  Shelves would be great to hold baskets for the games and flashcards I use.  A pencil holder would be superb to have nearby as well as a different place for my clock (it was in a spot that my students couldn't help but look at every five minutes, but a spot that I couldn't see at all if their books were placed just right.)  I also wanted to get my glass of water off the floor because I knew that was an accident waiting to happen

Once I started thinking about this I realized it would also be beneficial if I could get something on wheels.  My desk is huge, but it has huge stuff on it, and that leaves very little "working space" for me.  Being able to roll this perfect cart over to the desk area would give me just the extra space I might need.

So, last fall I started my search.  As the months progressed it intensified.  I dragged my mom into my search and she went with me to numerous stores in hopes that we'd finally find the perfect cart.  I had pretty exacting dimensions and wants/needs so that perfect cart eluded us each time.  I was finally dragging my dad into things when I realized I just might have to build my own version.

Yesterday I emailed my mom from Target with a picture of a kitchen cart that I had been studying the construction of.  I was pretty sure that I could put it together leaving off the wine rack and the towel bar and it would still look decent.  The only caveat was that it was about 2 inches taller than I originally hoped for, but I thought it would still work.  A phone call to her later and she agreed that this just might be what I was looking for.

Enter the building stage.  Just me and my handy directions and the Allen wrench Target so nicely included.

I had a problem at step #1 - the first screw I picked up didn't fit my screwdriver (which I didn't know I'd needed and had already made the first trip to the garage).  It also didn't fit the second or third screwdriver.  Then I realized the inside was malformed.  A fourth trip to the garage and I had two hammers and two pliers and a drill (to save a trip).  The hammer didn't work, but the needle-nose pliers pulled that out and I found a new screw in Mike's stash to work.  At this point I was frustrated and went to lunch with my parents and sister.

Upon returning I set to work.  I was teaching in a little over two hours and there was no way my students could get to the piano.  Here's how it all worked out:

1.  I carefully assembled the next biggest pieces trying to determine from the minuscule sketch which part faced which direction.  I got as far as the picture above and realized one of the pieces had been placed incorrectly.  The entire thing had to come apart.
2.  I was thrilled when I could skip steps 2 and 10 - the wine rack and towel bar.
3.  I was a little dismayed when I realized one screw for the magnet was missing and Mike didn't have a similar size.
4.  Step 9 produced some bad words when I couldn't get one of the bolts tightened in the least.  I could barely see the hole so I decided to turn the cart over so I was working down instead of up.  The whole piece came off and I started again.
5.  I'm pretty sure I assembled the drawer correctly, but it's a bit wobbly.  That might be from the missing bolt that I finally gave up on in #4 above.
6.  In cleaning up and shaking things out I found the missing magnet screw.  The door stays much nicer now!

The result?

 Eight extra tools and one leftover bolt later, I had this.

I did have a slight moment of panic when I sat admiring it then looked behind me to see two big black pieces sitting there.  I realized quickly they were the shelves that I hadn't installed yet.  In my defense - they were not included in the directions.

When Mike has a chance perhaps he can help me figure out how to attach this bolt.  It might help the drawer, but I really don't think so.

I finished up with about 45 minutes to go before lessons began.  The $5 baskets I purchased 9 months ago fit PERFECTLY on the shelves and I lined some granola bar boxes this morning to use as drawer separators.  The height really isn't too bad at all and I'm super happy with this purchase.

I think though I might be writing a "be prepared" comment on Target's website for this purchase.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Singing Solo!

Tonight Maddie took part in the 7th grade choir concert as a member of the Select Choir (7, 8, 9th grade students).  She had auditioned for a solo during one of the pieces and tonight was her performance!

Below you will find a video of that performance.  Here are a couple notes:

1.  This was filmed by Jake.
2.  Jake missed the sentence during my camera instructions that said, "Do not zoom in and out - it doesn't work so smoothly."
3.  Do not eat while attempting to view this video.
4.  If you choose to eat, please have a bucket at the ready.  Seasickness will result.
5.  I'm not exaggerating.  The sound is great.  However, I didn't actually "view" some of this video because I was getting motion sickness.
6.  This is only half the video he shot.  The first half he was still coming to grips with getting used to the zoom.  We did have a good laugh over this.  Not over Maddie's part - she rocked it! - But Jake said, "This is probably not my best work." I'm sure there will be plenty of concerts for him to try again.

Maddie sings the first solo (in case you are only listening and not actually watching).  There are two soloists after her, then the three of them sing together for a small verse before the choir finishes it out as one group.

We just could not have been more proud of her!  It takes a lot of guts to try out in front of your peers.  It takes a lot of guts to sing in front of total strangers after that.  She said she was a bundle of nerves, but you couldn't tell!  On top of it, she's been battling the start of a bad head cold all weekend just trying to make it to tonight.

A few weeks back Maddie said she thought she'd finally gotten to the point where she doesn't worry about getting up in front of people anymore.  Hooray!  I think that's a pretty great accomplishment for 8th grade!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Project Life - Week 19

I got half of my pictures loaded onto the pages and realized I hadn't edited any of them.  Oh well...kind of made things move a lot faster when putting it all together.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Confirmation Sunday

Last Sunday was a special day in our house - Maddie was getting confirmed at church.

My friend took over the first service so we didn't have to rush getting ready in the morning - that was so wonderful!  Mike and I got up and got cooking so that when everyone came for lunch things were ready to go.  Maddie was up early so we weren't rushed to do her hair.

She, Jake and I had gone shopping the week before and she had picked out this dress which she loved and found some pretty spring jewelry to go with it.

And I have a new favorite picture of us.  Though I'm kicking myself that we didn't have Jake take a picture of Mike and I with her.

We arrived a little early for pictures.  I didn't work too hard here as a professional photographer was there.  Soon we'll have nice pictures of the day, but these were just ones I took so that we'd have something for the blog.

My sister is Maddie's godmother; they have a special bond.

During the ceremony, Mike, Tracy and I went up to the altar with Maddie and gave her a blessing Mike and I had written.

Afterwards, the Pastor also gave a blessing to Maddie.

She chose 2 Corinthians 5:7-8 as her confirmation verse: "For we walk by faith, not by sight.  yes, we are of good courage, we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord."

After the ceremony everyone headed back to our house for some lunch.  We weren't quite as prepared as we thought we were, but hopefully we didn't hold up anyone too long!

Maddie and I had purchased a Dairy Queen cake the day before - a big one.  I went to the freezer in the basement to take it out to start thawing a little before I thought we would need it.  It wasn't in the freezer.  I asked Mike where it was and he said it was in the fridge.  I was happy that he had thought to take it out a little early.  When I looked in the fridge, there it was....extremely melted.  I might have started to hyperventilate a little.  It turns out that when I asked Maddie to take it downstairs she had put the ice cream cake in the refrigerator rather than the freezer.  Rob suggested it was still okay in the middle (and he also might have been laughing pretty hard over this all...) but I said there was no way we could serve it.  Mike suggested I just go back to Dairy Queen and buy another one and I just stared at him.  Then he suggested HE go back to Dairy Queen and buy a second one which I thought was a much better idea since I'd bought the first one.  We ended up with a cake about half the size but everyone got a piece so all's well that ends well, I guess.

Maddie's best friend was able to attend the events with us; that was really neat and Maddie was so happy to have her there.

 We had a little gift opening.  One of the little cousins came up to me and said, "Gift opening?  But it's not her birthday!!"

Afterwards Ashley gave a little pre-concert of her recital pieces she was going to play that night.

It was a really nice day and we were so thankful that our family (and friend!) were able to be there to support Maddie on a special day!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Monday, May 6, 2013

Final Band Concert

It's been a busy last few days with more coming up.  You can tell the end of the school year is here!

Last Thursday Jake's band had their final concert for the year.  Jake has been looking forward to it for quite some time.

On the way there we asked about the upcoming concert and he told us that his band was playing "two-and-a-half songs."

Mike and I gave each other quizzical looks.  Half a song?

Well, it turns out he was fairly correct.  The "half song" was really a favorite warm-up of theirs that they wanted to showcase as well.

Jake's favorite piece was the first one; it was in three parts.  My favorite piece was their last one: "Great Gate of Kiev" from "Pictures at an Exhibition".  I've always really liked the whole piece and this section was fun to hear.

His band did a fantastic job!  They were together the whole way through and had a really solid sound.  He was very excited and we were happy for him.  He's already looking forward to percussion lessons over the summer.

Maddie informed us there are 20 days left of school and looking at the calendar we'll be squeezing lots in during those 20 days!

Friday, May 3, 2013

India 2013

Mike headed to India April 11th and was out of the country until April 27th.  He spent a little over a week in India followed by a week in Spain.

We'll just highlight India today - with quite a few pictures.

First up is the first picture we received shortly after he arrived in India.  He had been telling us about the bananas there and he quickly sent a picture to explain the size of them to us:

These are not abnormally sized apples and pear.  These are abnormally sized bananas.  He said he didn't try them because fruit made him nervous to eat.

He did actually work, but he also had a whole weekend there, plus a few extra days to look around.  The first trip his group went on was to the Sri Radha Krishna-Chandra Temple.

He said it was quite busy that day.  He said they kind of rushed people through in kept flagging people to keep walking and not stop.

It probably wasn't his favorite temple of the three he saw.

Next up was the Chennakesava Temple.

This was just the gate.  The temple, apparently looked very similar to the third temple he saw.

He did take a picture of a statue with a larger second toe than first - just for me, though it didn't turn out.  My second toes are bigger than my "big toe" and Mike has always pointed this out as being a freakish thing.  He learned here that it means several things, but among them, that I am a descendant of royalty.  I will now only be answering when he addresses me as "Queen."

The third temple was Halebidu.

He thought this was the most interesting temple from the outside.

Looking at the picture above, you can see that each "level" of the carvings are a different animal.  Each animal means a different thing.  he doesn't remember them all and I am too lzy to look them up.  But, you have the link above to do your own research.

Hard to imagine we don't homeschool.

The carvings do look pretty amazing and he has several pictures from this last temple of these intricate carvings.

Next up: some various sights throughout India that don't necessarily correlate to one-another.

These are some surrounding areas and markets.

They did eat out at various restaurants as well as the hotel.  he always feels safest at the hotel with the food and says he makes sure to eat a very hardy breakfast before leaving because he's not sure what he's going to be offered during the rest of the day, though he tries most things he is offered.  On this particular trip they ate at a restaurant and the next morning Mike was really sick.  He called a co-worker visiting from Prague and found out she had gotten really sick too.  No one else had become ill, but the rest were from India and were, of course, used to the food.  Mike was able to take some antibiotics that had been prescribed before leaving in case this happened.  He said he felt better within a few hours, though he couldn't go in to work right away.  The woman from prague didn't have any antibiotics so she had to tough it out and wasn't able to head in to work at all that day.  She did say it was the best diet she'd been on though.

They were able to head to a bakery and try some treats.  Both kids had requested sweets for their "gift" but these sweets were going to go bad within a week and he wouldn't be seeing us for at least two weeks.

Mike liked these cars along the roads he saw.  He thought Jake would like them too because they were a little unique and small.  Jake still prefers a Lamborghini.

This is where Mike's office is located in India.  When a company has an American name on the front of the building, it is a requirement that they also have the Indian name somewhere as well.

This is just an average house as he's driving down the road.

Mike's co-workers there were extremely generous and a couple of the families hosted everyone for dinners. I can't imagine the amount of work involved - it always seems there are a lot of people at these meetings.  But, if they are ever in Minnesota, they are certainly welcome here!

A lot of pictures were taken from moving vehicles this time around.

This was the Palace of Mysore.  They didn't really tour it as he had visited it the last time he was in India.

At the end of this trip they took a field trip to a Jungle Resort.

They were able to go on a bit of a Safari and saw several different types of animals.

He said there were other deer that actually looked a bit like a cross between an American deer and a dog.  He didn't get a picture of those.  He also saw peacocks, but unfortunately those pictures didn't turn out.

(I keep telling him to learn to use my good camera and take them on these trips!)

At 6am on his last day, three of them headed out on a hike up this "hill."

The average temperature while he was in India was 90-100 degrees.  They started out early so it was cooler, but he said he got quite a workout. In fact, he ended up tossing this shirt into a plastic bag where it sat for another full week without seeing the light of day.  he warned me before washing it that I might want to hold my breath.  He said he would have thrown it away, except he really liked the shirt.

It looked like quite a view, so I imagine the trek was worth it!

During the down times at the resort, they played a game Mike had never seen.

He said it was like pool, but played with your fingers.  He was irritated with it because he would think he was flinging the white piece in one direction and it would go in the opposite direction.  I guess he needs more practice.

The next day he hopped a plane and headed for Spain via Paris.  We'll cover Spain in a different post.