Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Project Life Week 30

This was Jake's week to make up for lost time from a couple weeks ago.  I actually didn't use a couple pictures of his!  I guess things all even out in the end!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Project Life Week 29

I believe this officially catches us up on Project Life!  Whooppeee!!!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Men's Work

A couple weeks ago Mike and Jake tackled some things that needed doing outside.

They started with mowing the lawn.  This is the first year that Jake has really taken an active part in mowing our grass.  He does a good job, but some days are a little harder to get through without 20 water breaks than others thanks to our good 'ol fashioned push lawnmower!

They shared mowing duties that day, I believe.  (Mike wanted things to move along a little faster than Jake-speed.)  I usually edge the lawn a few times a summer, but haven't been able to do it this year.  Let me be clear: it hasn't been from lack of trying.  I've tried to get the machine going a couple times, and looked like a complete moron the last time standing outside after having mowed in ridiculously hot weather - I was DETERMINED that I was going to get the edging done.  I lost.  I could not get it started and I was tired of the idea that my neighbors were inside sipping coffee and giggling over cookies at my follies.  (To note: my neighbors are actually quite nice and would probably not snicker...)

Anyhoo - the boys took a look at things and determined that the fuel pump was not working properly.  They headed to the hardware store and then got to work.

They were both so intent on how this engine.  It was actually kind of fun to watch them interact and work together.

To test it out they filled the gas tank full and this was our conversation:

KERRY: Shouldn't you fill just a little bit to see if it works rather than fill the whole thing to empty it all if it doesn't?
MIKE: [blank stare]
JAKE:  Nope.  Go big or go home, mom.

The results?

It has been decided that we will be purchasing a new motor.

I came outside a little later to discover they were on Project #2 - tree trimming.

I saw Mike walking around.  I heard Jake but couldn't see him.  Turns out I was just looking in the wrong spot.

I'm pretty sure he was in heaven.  He informed me this was really the first tree he had ever climbed.  He was in charge of snipping out the small dead branches.

Mike headed over to the other tree and started working there.  It is now much easier to see when backing out of the driveway after he removed several low branches.  Hooray!

Mike also got started on the summer project he wanted to finish: a new gate.  Ours has been consistently getting more crooked and harder to open.  We needed easy access this summer for several reasons and Mike decided building a new gate from scratch was going to be easier than modifying the old one.

It's finished - except for "aging" or staining - whichever comes first.  My favorite part is the new lock.  We've all commented on how much easier it is to open the gate now.  It's almost fun!  (That might be too much enthusiasm over a gate.  That might be a sad commentary on my part.)

In between all this, we worked together to create this masterpiece for dinner:

These two guys are handy to have around...I think I'll keep 'em!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Project Life Week 28

Sadly, most of the pictures are from Maddie's birthday.  The problem was not that it was a sad day - it's just that I realized I had NO pictures of Jake from this week (though he did play a big part in her birthday dinner!)  I have to pay better attention through the week...and get a little more variety than one day!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Water Ride

Over the week of July 4th, my sister and her kids, us, and my parents headed out on their pontoon for some tubing.

It was a pretty bright day and grandma borrowed her sun visor to a few kids to shield their eyes.  It's a look that fits anyone.

Dad had recently cleaned out the engine or blades of the motor or whatever.  Anyway - the result was a pontoon with a little more pep.

The kids are all pretty good about taking turns and usually who is riding with whom is decided a couple turns in advance.

It was pretty windy this particular day and there were a few other boats out joy-riding.  This resulted in some bigger waves to splash through - always a good time!

Tracy and Mike each took a ride with kids.

Proof that our kids actually like each other...

The others waiting for their turn keep themselves occupied.  There's usually a good number of snacks and music to dance along with...

or games to play.  Ellie and Tracy were playing the game where they try to get to saying the same word at the same time.  Ellie is catching on to the game.  Usually you can count on her saying the word, "pink" at some point.  If you time it right and say it with her, your games goes much faster.

This year Maddie is old enough to drive the pontoon.  She made sure to remind us of this every chance she got.  We told her she didn't get to drive until grandma and grandpa gave her the okay.  Today was the day!

She must have done one was thrown overboard with sharp turns.

It was a very fun and relaxing afternoon!  From what I hear, the docks are inaccessible right now due to the high water from the eight inches we got last week.  Hopefully the water lowers enough soon to head back out!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Holiday Week

The Monday before July 4th we were sitting over breakfast and it seemed to me that Mike was taking far longer over his meal than normal.  I asked him if he had that Friday after July 4th off.  He looked at me quizzically and said he did.  Then he added that he, in fact, had all week off.  That was a fun surprise!

Maddie headed to Wisconsin on July 4th with her friend to visit their family.  She was gone all weekend.  This is the first time that she's really been gone for any extended period of time.  Not that she's a rebel rouser, but it was definitely quieter around these parts.

(Note: I didn't actually take these pictures, but was really in the habit of posting my watermark on everything.)

Before leaving, she requested a manicure and pedicure and we tried to get creative for the holiday weekend...

Maddie had agreed to run her first 5K with her friend's family.  She started "seriously" training about 2 weeks before the race - having never run 3 miles before.  She and I ran/walked to get her started and soon she was up to two miles (simply because she didn't have the luxury to take her time hitting the longer runs).  I think it was by the 9th day of running that she ran her first full 3 miles.  I tried to stress to her that this race wasn't about being the fastest, it was about NOT WALKING.  She was pretty consumed by the idea of how slow she was running.  She and her friend had a "practice run" a few days before leaving.  

The day of the race, this was the text picture I received.  Her friend told me that they had run it in 36 minutes, 36 seconds, which she was happy to report was 9 MINUTES(!) faster than their time four days prior.  I don't know that Maddie is going to become a running fiend, but I think it was a pretty awesome accomplishment in a short period of time.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...Jake and I took on Rice Krispy Bars.  Sadly - I've never been able to make these right.  However, after talking with my mom, she suggested I increase my butter amount and that seemed to do the trick for us!  We took an idea we saw on the Internet and completely made it our own...

We were pretty proud of these!

We headed to my brother's house for an evening of swimming and dinner followed by neighborhood fireworks in his front yard.

There were mostly noise-makers to begin with, but Dan warned us that his neighbors each traveled out of state to get the "good" fireworks.  

Dan had done his part and traveled as far as Target to get the $10 specials.  They did not disappoint, I assure you!  Jake was having a BLAST with lighting these up - so, thanks, Dan, for giving my kid a happy Fourth!

As the evening progressed sparklers came out and the bigger show started.

At one point, there was a massive explosion (sound-wise) and Tracy decided heading in was a good idea.  Later into the night, a couple of the "rockets" exploded inside their launching tube and Jake said he had fireworks passing right between his legs before he took off running.  It was shortly after that that we decided we could probably head home too.

It was a very fun evening and a good time hanging with the 'fam!  

Monday, July 15, 2013

Project Life Week 27

Despite Maddie's thrill over seeing "real"'s the latest installment of Project Life.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Dads' Day(s)

This year we celebrated Father's Day for my dad a little early with my sister's family.  My brother has a "Parent's Brunch" in the spring to celebrate these days and it was a good enough idea to basically copy.  My sister and I hosted a little dinner for my mom and dad said he liked the arrangment enough for Father's Day as well.

Dad's a little hard to shop for.  We ask for lists, but they are relatively short - as in seven items for four people to split.  This year my mom was getting him a Nook because she loved hers so much and dad is possibly even more a reader than mom.  Tracy was going to be giving him a case for the Nook.  I had emailed her what we were getting so there weren't any duplicates and she reminded me of her plan.

I asked if mom would have given the Nook to dad by then.

She replied, "Crap...good point."

The Nook was the first gift dad opened that night...

 We got him floor pads for his truck.  I can't think of a more exciting gift.

Ellie had just had a birthday party that afternoon and was enamored with her newly acquired Barbie purse with cell phone and matching glasses.

My parents actually had to leave early.  They had squeezed in this dinner between times at the nursing home.  They were both pretty tired and I think it was a nice reprieve from sitting with my grandma as she continued to decline.

We continued the party in the backyard with the Runchey's.

It's nice at this stage because the kids are all capable-enough swimmers that we don't have to actually be in the water with them.

Sunday morning the kids and I woke up to finish wrapping/decorating our gifts an to get ready to make breakfast for Mike.  He hadn't specifically said what he wanted - just, "Surprise me."  Always scary.  However, I had come up with a plan for a breakfast he loves, but we rarely have.  Just as I was about to get underway cooking Mike came downstairs and said he wanted brunch at a restaurant in Jordan. But first...presents!

Doesn't he have a nice smile?  

The kids and I were pretty excited about our gifts.  We had all picked out things to go with his technology loving side.  Maddie got him an armband to wear while running that fit his new phone.  Jake got him a car holder for his truck that held his phone.  (We've loved it so much that we've actually since ordered a second one for the other car.)  I got him a new speaker/system for the garage since his radio out there died.  It is controlled by his phone under the same system as our house.  All of this we chose without guidance and over the internet.  It's amazing that it all worked out to be the right stuff because he hadn't really left any specific sites for these items!

Anyway - we headed to the OK Corral and it was really only o.k.  We decided it was severely overpriced for what we basically determined was Sam's Club frozen foods.  He decided he wanted to take the long way home so we went for a drive and returned home about 2 hours later.  We headed to the backyard where we relaxed all afternoon.  For dinner he had requested grilled steaks.  He did the work grilling while we prepared everything else...super tasty!!

I'm a lucky girl.  I have a great dad in my own life and I married a guy who is the best dad in the world to our kids.  He's fun, loving, works hard for all of us, and they know they have his support no matter what.  He deserves the best!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

On The Lake

My parents have a pontoon on a lake near their house.  They are very gracious to let us use it whenever the mood strikes.

The beginning of spring/summer found a lot of dreary days - too cold for sitting by the pool or too rainy to even want to be outside at all.  In early June we had such a day on a weekend and we were all tired of sitting in the house.  We decided an afternoon on the lake might be fun.

We like to eat a little lunch on the pontoon when we go.  We can generally make ourselves pretty comfortable.

It was a little chillier than any of us expected this particular afternoon - but fish bite when it's colder, right?

Since this was completely last minute, we didn't have actual worms.  This was okay because Maddie refuses to touch them.  Mike has a stockpile of little fake bait we use.  Honestly - I prefer the fake stuff too, but I know it doesn't work nearly as well.

We were out on the lake for awhile when we noticed some lightning in the distance so we headed in.  I was driving and was soooo excited to pull under the canopy on the first try!!!  I don't know that it will ever happen again.

While the rain was coming, it hadn't started yet.  As Mike and I put the pontoon away the kids started fishing off the docks where some other kids were having good luck catching crappies.

Pretty soon everyone was involved in dock fishing.  Maddie and Mike were trying to catch a fish from a little group they could see in the water.  Maddie came SO close a couple times, but each time the fish got away!

Jake was DETERMINED that he was going to catch a fish.  It was him against the onslaught of rain.  Suddenly he started screaming, "I got one!  I GOT one!!!  I GOT ONE!!!!"

I think this photo is a little misleading; this fish looks much larger than in real life.  But, he was one happy guy and loved retelling his tale to anyone who would listen!

Now that we have our licenses, we hope to get out on the docks a little more this summer.  Hopefully Maddie will have a great fishing story to tell soon!