Thursday, October 30, 2008

Girls' Night IN

Last Friday Maddie, Tracy and I participated in Shakopee's "Girls' Night In". It was an evening filled with a bunch of activities to choose from and we made the most of our night!

We started out decorating t-shirts. It was fun to come up with our own special designs, though Maddie was disappointed that she didn't have some scratch paper to jot down some ideas first before just diving into the project - my little perfectionist!

Next we took some time for dinner. Sub sandwiches, chips and a delicious cookie - the best part of the meal. After this it was non-stop entertainment!

We managed to hit the cupcake decorating station at one point. This was very fun and I have no idea what kind of icing we used, but it was pearly looking and extremely runny. Maddie piled on everything she could, Tracy had a Halloween theme going (she's our resident artist!) and I tried to make "Frog's Birthday Cake" from the Word World cartoon....a miserable representation though, so I just added our initials. Clearly I am NOT the resident artist!

We also took some beginning baton lessons - thankfully no one was injured in this process. We took it upon ourselves to try to throw the baton in the air and clap as many times as possible. Note: we were in the hallway of the school - a mere 8 feet, I think, of baton throwing distance. Tracy came in with the most with six claps, I believe. I think we did all manage to get to five claps eventually. I'm telling you...we've got skillz.....

We did manage some jazzercise. I can't say I was totally wanting to participate here after having worked out that morning and then chowing down a cookie and cupcake, but Maddie was gung-ho so off we went. And, as has been proven in the past, I have absolutely no rhythm when it comes to these things. I think we should ALL be thankful that no photos or videos were taken during this time.

Amidst all this we participated in getting our pictures taken. Beforehand you could do each other's hair. Now, I'm not totally certain who came up with this brilliant idea (my money would be placed on Tracy) but we decided to do wacky hair for the pictures. So, we got to work styling each other's hair. Only moments before Maddie had commented how she's never had her picture in the paper. Suddenly this lady was taking our pictures and I jokingly said, "Watch Maddie, THIS will be the picture that appears in the paper of you!"

Be careful what you wish for! This appeared in this week's edition of Shakopee's paper.....I heard Maddie bellow from downstairs, "MOM!!! WE ARE IN THE PAPER!!!" Turns out the lady WAS from the paper and was laughing right along with us at how zany our hairdos were getting!

Tracy and Maddie in all their glory. Luckily it was just my hand - at that point though my hair was normal so it wouldn't have been terrible. However, to show you how truly crazy we all looked I'll reveal the final shot - beard and all....

Just to show that we really do have SOME style, here's our "nice" picture....both are proudly displayed in Maddie's room!

The evening concluded with Maddie having her face painted by Tracy with her patented "sun face". How many people do you know that get their faces painted by laying their head on a table? This was serious art. Actually, more like really poor quality drawing supplies. Tracy took no responsibility for her prized "sun" not turning out as great as they usually are.

Despite the crazy zaniness - or because of it, it was a successful night and a fun time with the girls!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Absolute Last Fall Day

As I sit here listening to the wind HOWL outside, it makes me giggle that yesterday we were at my parents' backyard having a photo shoot of our whole family and keeping the kids entertained with the gazillion leaves that they have back there. I have no idea how the pics turned out, but they looked good in camera, so I am excited to get the proofs in a few weeks.

In the meantime, I'll post some of my favorite action shots from yesterday in the slide show below. Enjoy as you watch those snowflakes fall! I hear by week's end we'll be back to spring coats! Gotta love Minnesota!!!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Let's Dish

Thursday night Tracy and Stacey and I headed to "Let's Dish" in Edina. My friend, Libby, had set up this night with her sister. For those that have no idea what this place is - you pay for a certain number of meals to prepare. They've got all the ingredients and the recipes, you just spend the time putting them all together. At the end of the night you have a bunch of meals ready to be frozen at home that are all ready to go. Tracy and I have talked repeatedly about doing this and splitting the meals. Tracy ended up being my assistant. She had just received about a dozen meals from her neighbors since having Riley. But, she still wanted to go along and see how the process worked.

The girls may have been getting into the bandanna look a little too much....

Fun night though - thanks, Lib! It is something I think I'll definitely try again in the future!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

First Phone Number

Yesterday Jake walked in the door with a huge grin on his face and said:

"Mom! I got Shelly's phone number!"

Okay - Shelly isn't really this girl's name, but I'm protecting the innocent. But this is the same girl who had a major crush on him in kindergarten. Her mom told me they find notes all over their house written, "I Love Jacob". In fact - these two have nicknames for each other. I could puke.

Anyway - he was pretty excited about this. Like...VERY excited. So excited that before we did ANYTHING I had to go to our phone list and write it down and he followed it up with, "Isn't that a great phone number!? Isn't that easy to remember!?"

After the ritual of dropping his bag right in the MIDDLE of the walkway we had this conversation:

Jake: Can she come over and play today?
Me: No.
Jake: I don't want to go to watch Maddie in gymnastics tomorrow, so can I just stay home with dad and she can come over and play?
Me: No.
Jake: What about Saturday?
Me: I doubt it.

What I wanted to say was: "Jake - you are going to give me a heart attack. No girls will be allowed in this house to play with you. Especially girls you are this excited about having memorized their phone number. You will be lucky if I let you date in college. You are six years old. Go find your buddies and play tackle football."

And yes, we are definitely busy on Saturday.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Pumpkin Patch

Driving home from my parent's house on Saturday (yep - Saturday was an extremely busy day!) we stopped at a pumpkin patch to get some of those orange balls for carving at a party that night.

I really like this pumpkin patch. It's super close to our house. While it doesn't have all the bells and whistles of an apple orchard, it's just a nice local farm that has a fun atmosphere. And who can't resist a pumpkin patch owned by "Peter Pumpkin and Carmen Corn".

So we were able to take a tractor ride out to the field and walked our way back through the patch looking for those two perfect pumpkins that will grace our front step this Halloween.

It is the kids' job to find their pumpkins - Mike really tries to help the process by pointing out several "perfect" pumpkins for them to pick. My job is to take pictures. I'm usually left behind still snapping away. It's a good thing they love me because anyone else would be annoyed enough to leave me behind.
Maddie managed to find her pumpkin halfway across the field. Then realized she had to carry it...half way across the field....

Jake - not surprisingly - had other ideas. I think he intended to inspect ALL the pumpkins before deciding. He wanted a "round one" - and we soon discovered he meant it - no flat sides. Don't even try to offer those. Mike offered up many fine specimens. Even I stopped taking pictures at one point to try and help this search.

Jake did manage to find his perfect pumpkin. And he found it a lot closer to the parking lot than Maddie - hence he didn't have to carry it as far. There may just have been some logic in this thought process!
And I just love taking pictures here - so I'll post a few of my favorites:

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Fall Festivities

As mentioned in the previous post we did manage to find a very fun way to break away from packing my parents' house - leaf jumping!

My parents have some gigantic trees in the front yard and I'm pretty sure everything that is needed to take care of these leaves has been packed so there were QUITE a few for us to play in!
So Maddie, Jake and Austin all helped Grandma Smith build quite a pile and right before jumping in the pile, I managed to snap a shot of them before all craziness began:

But, as my sister mentioned in her post - it's hard for this family to stay out of the fun and that includes the grown-ups and soon mom, Tracy and myself were jumping and throwing just as many - if not more - leaves than the kids!

Austin even crowned Tracy: "Princess Mommy" - it's a title she wears proudly.

Ellie joined in the fun a bit later. I think she was still wondering what all of us were yelling and carrying on about, but she did pretty good job of getting into the spirit of things.

I can't say we actually cleared out anything from their yard, but it was a fun way to break up an afternoon of lifting boxes!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Packing Up

Saturday morning at 8am we all met at my parents' house to start packing up the first of two - possibly three PODS for their storage. I think they've done a fairly good job of trying to trim down 30 years worth of "stuff" - for lack of a more appropriate term that I can't use (love you mom and dad!)...but there's still a lot of said "stuff". The boys were trying to come up with a general plan of attack and Dan announces that we'll be done by 11:45am. Frankly, Dan's been known to exaggerate on a lot of things so for him to foresee us being done in less than 4 hours - whatever.

Jake and Austin got right to work playing. They found a cozy home for their shenanigans in the cushions at the base of the stairs:

But eventually we had quite a plan of attack going. Basically Tracy and I attacked this:

We hefted these boxes to the driveway where the boys sorted them and strategically placed everything in their appropriate places. They were able to put boxes and baskets in places I didn't possibly think we could squeeze anything else into!

Mom and Maddie were in charge of any runs to the store when we needed things. Mom tended to be a little nervous about the walls or her furniture when it was being hefted down the stairs so we tried to attack these things when she was running to stores. During one of these runs we got started on the twin beds that used to occupy my room. Dad found an easy solution for getting down the stairs with these:

I know...hard to imagine why my mom was nervous about her belongings! And yes, dad really did ride the mattress down the stairs. This picture was more of a snap-and-jump-out-of-the-way shot.
There were some good things found and Jake couldn't resist trying on the "captain's hat"....

Finally that POD was getting full and at 11:20am Dan called it - nothing else was fitting in there! I have to say we were all impressed with his estimation. The rest of the afternoon we spent hauling stuff to the main floor to get ready for the next POD.

We did find a little "down time" activity and I'll post more about that later. But for now I'll leave you with this shot of my parents standing next to the official sign that says they are moving on to a new chapter:

Friday, October 17, 2008

Question of the Week

I get this magazine and the last page always has a list of things that begin, "I knew I was an adult when...." I love this page - it usually makes me crack up at one or two of the things because I've done or thought the same thing.

So, I started to think back to the first time I realized I was an adult. Here's my memory:

It was my junior year of college. I was living in my own apartment and was making dinner (rice hotdish...super cheap for college kids!) Anyway, it had awhile to cook and I was in a munchy/treat mood. I had also bought some Peppermint Bon Bon ice cream as a special treat for myself to eat for dessert and it was really calling my name.

Then it hit me - I could eat the ice cream BEFORE dinner!!! Why not!?! I wasn't sharing with anyone, I certainly didn't have any parents around to ask if it was okay because I was living in my own apartment and had bought and paid for the ice cream myself!!! I proceeded to eat the biggest bowl of ice cream I may have eaten up to that point in my life and walked around my kitchen giggling because how cool was this! That's when I realized I was an adult. I was - what? - 21.

So, think back - what was that one moment when you realized you were an adult? I'd love to read everyone's stories so post a comment! I have some nieces/nephews under 18 that read this, so if they want, they can post what they are most looking forward to. Hopefully it's a fun little trip down memory lane for you!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

World's Worst Babysitter

Yesterday morning Ellie and I got to bond while her siblings were off to the doctor. Tracy tried her best to do the "drop and run" - hoping Ellie wouldn't notice the absence so quickly, but this little girl is too smart for her mom and the second she realized Tracy wasn't actually stepping foot in my house with her - TEARS!

So, I swiped her up and we headed to the family room. Only we really have no toys for kids her age. We've kept around this driving thing simply because Ellie likes it and it's about the only thing not too small for her. But, even that wasn't helping. I tried talking, singing (making anyone cry...) and general goofiness. She was having none of it.

But doesn't she have on the cutest outfit???

So, I did what any self-respecting babysitter would do. I turned on the t.v. We honed in on cartoons and she and I finally bonded over Curious George and Sid the Science Kid (which, if you haven't seen that last one - is SO cute!!).

By the time Tracy arrived to pick her up all the tears were gone and in a whirl they were out the door before Riley started in on the tears from lack of movement!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

It's Official

Yesterday, for the first time, Mike spent all day in his office working! Yahoo! It's not even close to being completely set up, but Saturday night we spent putting his desk back together. Without instructions. It's a bit complicated and we had to take a few pieces apart to add something we forgot. But, the kids had a blast helping - they got to use the drill, Jake found a reason to use a flashlight (one of the greatest inventions EVER in his mind!) and they got to lift a few pieces.

Then we started clearing out the guestroom. I wish I'd taken a before/after picture. That room was housing everything we had in our basement. So it was basically trying to fit a basement full of stuff into a closet. Yeah - not working so great. So, Mike's office is littered with boxes until we come up with a better plan, or purge, or both. Halfway through hauling all this we looked at each other and realized we were just moving a mess from one room to another - not really accomplishing anything; kinda frustrating.

Anyway, here's Mike in his new home - he hasn't moved the large work chair from our room, but as I sit in it to type this, I'm expecting him to come up and grab it any second...

Is this the picture of happiness or what? It was taken at midnight last night. He'd been on a conference call since 10pm. The call finally ended about a half-hour later. Needless to say it wasn't an early morning here today!

Monday, October 13, 2008

A Load Off

This last week has been so productive for me, personally! On Tuesday night I stayed awake until 12:30am (Wednesday morning if you want to get technical) but I was on a roll finishing this project. And for me personally when I get on this kind of kick I just really have a hard time stopping. So, I did finish it. Yahoo for project #1!

Friday morning I went to my friend, Jonda's to look at her crafting room and check out her projects and brainstorm on some ideas for things. She got me thinking about another project that I've had looming over me and I spent Friday afternoon finishing that one up! Two projects in one week and I was EXCITED!

Last night I even managed a few scrapbook pages. Then I looked in my corner of the room (or one of several corners I've taken over) and saw a third project that was about 95% finished. So, I sat down and finished that one. That was another late night project, but that finishing bug got me again and I got to bed around 12:45am. But it's done too!!!!!

All three of these projects have been hanging over my head all summer. I practically OWN a book from the library; I've renewed it literally all summer long. I've actually had to bring it back to the library twice to renew it just to prove that I wasn't renewing it just because I lost it. But this book helped me complete one of the projects and I couldn't let it go.

Unfortunately I can't show you these projects yet. They are all gifts for various people...but, all projects are completed in advance and I'm not doing them the night before. (Not that that's ever happened! wink...wink....). But - I do have pictures of them, and I will post those after they've been given.

And now? I have a few others up my sleeves. With my mom's quilting machine living here I plan to finally finish some quilt tops I've had sitting around for almost two years. And I plan to remove all my stamps from their blocks and remount them and figure out better storage. Hopefully this energy keeps up!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Proud as a Peacock!

Yesterday was conferences for the kids. They have been in school for 28 days - though honestly it seems like far more. So we all headed back to school about five minutes after they got off the bus.

I'm pleased to report that both kids had stellar performances in class so far. This is Maddie's first year of actual grades (Letter grades...A, B, etc) and she is getting straight A's! Her teacher was very happy with her performance in school as were Mike and I! Jake's conference was just as impressive and his teacher said he was already accomplishing most of what he would need to know by the end of first grade in both reading and writing. She reported that his math was great and to this point he's been able to pass everything they've worked on with the pre-assessment tests so he won't have to retake those skills for the rest of the year.

So (as my chest swells out with pride!) we ended our day with McDonald's for a treat - our meals were completed with shakes! Pretty nice way to end the week!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Looking for the Bat Cave

Jake got his Halloween costume last night - my parents stopped by with a Batman costume they found at Joanne Fabrics (I think this is one of my mom's favorite stores). It is complete with costume, belt, cape, and quite frankly - a really nice mask. Not one of those yucky cheap ones that tear after five minutes.

This morning the kids were ready for school early. It was picture day and they had gotten up early to get ready. Mostly Maddie got ready - Jake had about 20 minutes to spare.

So, he donned his cape and mask and set off on a crusade around the house. At about 100 mph. He ran from room to room, then would suddenly stop and ask if I had seen him - he had been so fast he was sure I hadn't noticed him. This picture was taken during some "down time".

I was more afraid of two things - 1)Jake would have this mask on and it would leave an imprint on his face that would show up great in his pictures. 2) He would run into a wall and be bruised and bloodied for his pictures. The second option isn't really a stretch of the imagination. It's been accomplished in the past (many times) the day before or of pictures.

And, while most of you who know Jake are expecting me to write that he did do one of those two things, he didn't. The morning came to a close and I drove them to school where I volunteered to help with picture day all day long. It wasn't nearly as bad as I expected it to be and went surprisingly smooth.
Tonight the caped crusader was back at it - only this time it looks like he was getting his butt kicked by an incredibly cute wicked witch.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Back to Normal

Sunday night after listening to Jake cough, Mike made the colossal mistake of telling Jake, "it sounds like you won't be going to school tomorrow." Later that night as we were getting ready for bed I asked Jake to get his stuff ready for school the next day and he said, "but mom - dad said I wasn't going to school." I told him if he felt better in the morning than he definitely was. Then I went and knocked Mike over the head with a frying pan. No...of course I didn't, but I did tell him that seemed like a rookie error. He just thought it was funny.

But Monday morning came and Jake, though not wiped out, had a yucky cough that we didn't think would be good to send to school. So, we make-shifted the couch once again and started pumping him full of juice and turned on the t.v.

Jake had it way better than Maddie did in this area. 1) We are now the home for my parent's giant t.v. it's huge - it takes up a whole corner of our family room. 2) We also hooked up the HDTV (?) thing - that box converter - and so now we also get a ton of other channels, including the TPT kid's channel of cartoons 24/7.

You'll notice there are no pictures of Jake being sick like there was with Maddie. That's because I couldn't get Jake to sit still long enough to take one if I wanted. Once he realized he didn't get to play with his cars in his room all day like he thought and that he was relegated to the couch - staying home wasn't too appealing. I've never seen this kid throw so many things away or go to the bathroom as much as he did yesterday; all to be able to walk around. He was going stir-crazy. I did have to let him play me in Battleship to keep him in one place. Nap time only lasted one hour - and that's with Benadryl helping us out.

At 11am after answering that he couldn't play with his cars or trucks or trains for the 8th time, I told Jake that if he was feeling so great I could take him to school. He told me it was too late for it was my punishment.

This morning I was only too happy to give them hugs and kisses goodbye and wish them a good day as they headed off to the bus stop.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

More Shopping

We've really got things down pat when it comes to torturing our children. Saturday afternoon and evening we thrilled them with the news that we were going furniture looking! You can imagine how excited they were to hear this. They might have preferred yet another trip to Home Depot or Lowe's before hearing these dreaded words.

So, off we went to Schneiderman's to look at sectionals. There is a fantastic salesman there - Ron (the bald one, as he put it, since there are two of them) and he spent so much time with us and answered all our questions. He took us all around the store - a couple times, much to the kids "delight" - and answered all our questions. Not pushy, gave his opinion only when he thought we were wavering, and just was an all around good salesman that we were both super impressed with. We picked out a couch that we really really liked and did everything but sign the dotted line. We really are just looking and pricing at this point.

Then it was off to dinner. Since we were in Lakeville we decided to head to the Cracker Barrel. There is a good chance we were the youngest in the restaurant by about 40 years - Maddie and Jake the youngest by 60 years. It wasn't terrible until we left and the kids looked across the street to see HOM furniture and knew where we were headed next.

There we met with possibly the dullest salesman. He wasn't incompetent when it came to the furniture knowledge, but he wasn't far from it. To his credit, he did walk around with us, but the expertise and general interest in our sales just wasn't there beyond "what's my commission gonna be." He just wasn't Ron. His favorite reply to us was "I hear ya..." which he said quite often and we'll probably repeat when we need a good laugh. He took us to the most expensive furniture (which happened to be the only one we liked, of course) and wrote up the amounts. Thank goodness it turned out to be way more than Ron's quote because I wasn't going to be able to face that guy and tell him we had to go somewhere else for a better deal. I literally cheered in the car on the way home when I compared the quotes and realized we could skip the HOM stuff.

Maddie and Jake made the best of it at HOM though. I'm sure the people walking out thought we were some dumb tourists standing in the entryway to take this picture (which the kids actually requested I take...)

As a "gift" for going along and really being fairly well behaved in these stores for a couple hours we got them some dry-erase markers to use in their secret hideout. The jury is still out on whether this specially painted wall was worth it. It doesn't clean up so great so far. We'll see. But, it covered us for having killed their Saturday afternoon.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Home Sick

Thursday and Friday Maddie stayed home from school. When she arrived on our doorstep on Wednesday night from school she told me she thought she was getting a cold. Maddie isn't one of those people who say, "I'm not going to get sick..." and then they don't. She is more the type to just let it hit her. So, I wasn't surprised on Thursday morning when she could barely talk without coughing and quite frankly looked miserable.

She spent the day on the couch. You'd think this would be fun, but we try to take every bit of fun out of it. The goal is obviously to get better. To me this means drink lots of fluid, sleep lots, drink more fluid. Do nothing that is going to sap strength from getting better. So, she watched t.v. and read when that got boring. Coloring? Nope. Wouldn't let her. That involved sitting up, and for Maddie who really gets into coloring it involves a lot of thinking, planning, and constant movement to change markers. So, I announced there was no coloring. Yes, I got eye rolls, but did I mention the other side of the goal is to not make staying home fun so that the kids don't want to stay home?

But, I do try to make her comfortable and not isolated completely. So, we make-shift our big couch into a bed - layer on the blankets in case of any spills, then bring down pillows, and whatever animals or blankets the sick person wants from upstairs.

Maddie fell asleep for only about 45 minutes. I intended for her to fall asleep in her room where it's quiet. Instead when I wasn't looking she fell asleep on the couch and the first time the phone rang she was awake. This did not produce the restfulness I was trying to beg her to get. Later that night she spiked a bit of a fever and ended up staying home on Friday. I was a bit more vigilant during nap-time and got her moved upstairs to her room where she slept for about three hours. Much better.

Tonight we are listening to Jake cough and wondering if he's next. He's more the kid that says, "I'm not that sick..." and life goes on, so we'll see.

Thursday, October 2, 2008


Two posts in one day!

Now for the unveiling:

Why a picture of my foot??? I was so excited that I actually got to go into the basement barefoot! That's right! No more rescheduling! We have carpet! And lest you think I'm a little nutso, it was the first thing out of Maddie's mouth too! "Mom! We don't have to wear shoes to go in the basement!"

When Jake got home I opened the basement door and his eyes got wide. Then we went downstairs and very quietly he said, "Wow. When? How did you do this???" Then he actually reached down to touch it and got SO excited and sat right down and while ripping off his sock he said said, "Mom! This is the stuff you can squish your toes in!" Which is exactly what he proceeded to do. He's pretty excited because now he and his friends can run around down there to their hearts content without fear of tripping over a saw. NOT that we allowed friends down there with the opportunity to trip over a saw...friends were just never allowed down there.

So there you have it. Hopefully we can start putting together Mike's office very soon. I don't have church tonight so maybe we can even start tonight!