Wednesday we headed to the county fair. Maddie, Jake and my mom were all excited to get there because each had entered some of their work in different areas and they were anxious to see how they did in the judging.
Once we arrived, we counted heads, loaded up the kids we could and started the long walk to the arts building.
Happily our knight in shining armour arrived and offered us - all of us - a ride to our location.
Mike and I squeezed on there too and unbelievably this cart got us all there. This definitely saved some energy, and probably eliminated quite a few complaints. Mike can be a real whiner.
We got to the arts building and right away found a quilt made by my mom's friend, Sue. We were all happy to see that she had received a very large, very pink ribbon!
Sue also managed to snag another pink ribbon for the blue/burgundy quilt. Well deserved! She's extremely talentend and has no shortage of patience for my many quilting questions when I take on more than I can chew.
There was lots to see but we managed to find Maddie's pencil drawing and we were so excited to see she won second place for her category!
She worked really hard on this picture last summer after taking drawing lessons from my mom.
We looked some more and found Jake's entry. He had taken a picture on one of our photo shoots last fall. He entered this farm silhouette after a difficult decision of narrowing down his choices of the various farm shots he had.
He was pretty excited to see he had received a first place ribbon for his age and category!
Mom was pretty thrilled when she rounded the corner and came upon the heart wreath she entered - it received first place too!
This will be hanging on our front door come Valentine's Day.
We finally found Maddie's second entry: coasters that she sewed all by herself. It happened to be right below her picture and I can't believe none of us saw it on our first pass.
Attached to the set of coasters was a second place ribbon!
But that's not all folks!
We found mom's embroidered towels. Second place as well!
Jake saw lots of lego creations and already his mind has been buzzing with ideas for next summer's fair. We told Austin he should build a spaceship for next year; maybe we'll be able to get him entered as well.
After all this searching, mom and dad hung with Sue and her husband to look at more items and Mike, Tracy and I headed out with the kids to get some goodies.
I mean...we were at a fair. Fair food. This should be self-explanatory as to why we were excited to get to the grub.
First up: corn dogs. How can you go wrong with corn dogs?
Turns out you can go kinda wrong with corn dogs. Tracy found a pool of grease in the bottom of her corn dog.
Riley seemed to enjoy it her meal.
Tracy decided feeding Riley was for the birds and Riley took matters into her own hands.
This didn't make the dogs anymore appetizing.
Next up for Tracy's family was mini donuts. $4 worth of mini donuts.
Sadly, Tracy has to convince her kids that junk food for dinner and dessert is an okay thing occasionally.
I just don't understand how there can be any blood relation between them and me.
Austin did what any red-blooded young man does after eating...
Isn't he the cutest in that hat? I bet it's what saved him from getting in trouble regarding the stains on his shirt.
After eating dinner Maddie couldn't believe that the boys found a way to play Star Wars even at a fair.
We managed to work our way over towards the motorcross where we watched behind the fence because none of us was willing to pay the $10 entrance fee.
Some of us were more enthralled than others.
I have no idea who that little girl was.
After watching one motor-bike-rider being taken away in an ambulance (and informing the boys they were not taking up this sport...) we headed to the Midway where Ellie was begging to go.
It was a little louder than she expected.
We ended up telling the kids that the vendors had run out of tickets and we couldn't ride on anything. Well, I might have said that. Tracy might have tried being honest. It's all a blur, really.
We ended up walking through all the animal buildings and having completed that task (as quickly as possible) we headed back to food row for a late treat.
When her kids asked what was in the water Tracy told them, "Big, scary monsters." It worked...no one jumped in.
Riley and I joined them. Then Tracy decided after we had all taken a turn carrying her, that Riley could be set free.
We also knew we were going to be leaving shortly so there wouldn't be too much chasing.
Tracy tried to get caramel apples for her kids from here:
When she got to the window the girl said, "We don't sell caramel apples." Tracy told her, "But they are on your menu for $3." It didn't matter...they weren't selling them. She managed to find them somewhere else. I'm sure they were only about $12.
On the way to the car we passed through the farm equipment. Mike pointed out to my dad what he thought they should buy to get themselves and the rest of the family to their boat:
I think he's got my dad convinced; he still needs to work on my mom.
And then we headed out. Some of use were happier than others.
Mom, Maddie and Jake are in cahoots to possibly enter their things in the Dakota County Fair. Round two of fair food might be happening in a couple weeks. I'm definitely not trusting the corn dogs.
I thought I'd feature Mike's efforts today with coaching.
Mike was the assistant coach for Jake's baseball team this year.
This involved Excel spreadsheets. I think all things in this house worth doing involve spreadsheets. Spreadsheets can make a person feel in charge.
Mike was generally in charge of equipment, setting the players' positions for each game, and helping with general practice drills.
We were usually one of the first people at the ball fields. Other players weren't too far behind. Jake and Mike would head out to toss balls after Mike set up the equipment and Maddie and I would curl up in our camping chairs and read.
Mike said that overall he enjoyed coaching. There were some kids who were a little more motivated than others. There were some kids who were a little more distracted than others. That got a little frustrating at times, but overall it was a great group of kids.
Coach Mike and Coach Bob were also fortunate to have some help from other parents during the games and during practices. I know they both appreciated this because the first few games where they didn't have that help it was very stressful for two people to handle everything on the field and on the bench. I know I appreciated it because Mike was going to put me in charge of the bench stuff.
At the end of each game, the coaches would talk to the boys about some great plays and some things to think about for the next game. Then Coach Bob would have the kids turn around and thank their parents for bringing them and cheering them on.
Last Wednesday there was one final "Go Tigers" cheer at the end and the season ended.
Overall a very fun time for everyone involved. I don't know if Mike will be able to coach again, but I know he was happy to do it this year.
And I know this kid loved having his dad coach - and that's what mattered the most.
Last Friday Jake and I were alone for the afternoon. His bingo board suggested checkers, but he didn't want to play that. I told him I would teach him how to play chess ("play" and "teach" being loosely used here) and he could substitute it for checkers. He thought that sounded great so we pulled out the board and I started to explain the pieces:
The pawn, the castle, the diagonal thingy, the horse, king and queen. I am nothing if not accurate.
Here's what you should know: I offered chess because I figured my wits are good enough to play an 8 year old who has never played. It would be a challenging game, but certainly doable for us both.
Then Mike came up for a break and sat down to watch.
You should also know that Mike really likes chess. And before long it was, "Jake, can I help you?" "Jake, can I make a suggestion?" "Jake, can I show you one quick move?"
Then I was double-teamed. And it was totally game on.
I had to actually think. It was exhausting.
Here was an action shot of me getting killed.
Brutal. But as we explained to Jake, sometimes you have to sacrifice something for the bigger picture.
Then Mike started playing around with moving Jake's queen and little man was NOT okay with that move.
"But Dad! She'll get our queen!" "Jake, there's a strategy..." "DAD! We are going to get killed!"
So, I sat back on the couch thinking, "Heck yeah! Move that queen!" and I plugged my ears and hummed with my eyes shut while Mike explained to Jake the strategy for his move and why they wouldn't lose the queen.
And then I took her out.
Jake was ready to pounce on Mike and all Mike had to say was, "Huh. Yeah...that wasn't such a great move on our part."
Then it was game on all over again and I lost my queen. But the board didn't look too bad (at least for me).
And I must say...I was starting to feel pretty good. Mike kept trying to rush me saying, "Some people have to get to work...hurry up." I gently reminded him that no one invited him to play this game and he was free to leave.
This was a long game. Did I mention my brain started hurting?
About halfway through the game, Jake wasn't so much playing our game as he was playing with the loser pieces and pretending to blow them up.
Then Mike made this move with his king and said, "Checkmate" and Jake popped up.
I stared. I took a deep breath. Then I stomped over to the kitchen and yanked open the dishwasher so I could throw the dishes in the cupboard.
In the meantime Mike was trying not to laugh too hard, but he thought it was hysterical because I was so mad. And let me clarify. I wasn't mad because they won (well...not entirely) I was mad because I intended to play an 8 year old. I didn't intend to play a 36 year old who is infinitely smarter than me.
Then Jake called us back and asked us to explain how this move worked and won the game. And we sat down to explain it to him and then Mike said, "Actually...I don't think I can make that move because it puts us in 'Check' and I don't think that's allowed." So, I looked it up and sure enough, it was an illegal move.
Mike smiled and said, "See? You still have a chance."
But you know what, I was semi-glad the game had been over. I was seriously tired. It was a Friday. I'd just played the game of the year for the past hour. It was two against one.
We did start back up though and we got to this point:
All that happened after this was that I moved my king up one square, he moved the castle to match and put me in "Check". This could have gone on for hours. We finally acknowledged this, shook hands and agreed to call it a draw.
Honestly, Mike and I play chess maybe twice a year. Most games end like this. We have decided to assume that it's because we are such awesome players. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that we know jack about strategy.
Sunday during breakfast, Maddie opened her gifts and was THRILLED to find an invitation to a horseback trail ride that afternoon. I think horses have overtaken dogs in the "favorite animal" category and she's talked non-stop about riding since her first outing with her grandpa a few weeks back.
We arrived at the ranch where the woman helping us said to Jake, "Come and stand over here and let's see if you are tall enough." I had a slight panic. No one mentioned height requirements on the phone. Jake looked at me wide eyed and walked over. I've never seen a kid stand so straight in my life; his neck possibly grew an inch. The woman chuckled and said, "You made it...with about a half-inch."
Appropriately, Jake's horse was named Shorty.
For those wanting to know, the rest of the horses were Sout (Kerry), Duchess (Maddie) and Duke (Mike).
Maddie was all chatter all day. You would have thought she'd ridden all her life the way she was talking and explaining to Jake how it all worked. Jake was a little leary, so I was glad when they checked his height and got him right on a horse; no time to think about anything.
The ride is about an hour long and is a very pretty ride. I'd show more pictures, but they all were incredibly blurry and would actually hurt your head. We rode through some woods and saw some wild turkeys (including the babies!) and a couple deer. I bet this trail is really pretty in the fall.
Near the end of our ride we came back to the ranch and passed by this. I thought these people were pretty fortunate to get to wake up to a view like this every morning - and they get to wake up to the smell of horse stables. I know that sounds stupid, but I really love the smell of being around horses.
It was a very fun way to celebrate Maddie's birthday and we all had a great time. Maddie is excited because as part of her present from her Grandma and Grandpa Smith she was invited to go with Grandpa out on another trail ride when she chooses. She's already trying to narrow down the dates.
This morning there was a knock on our door at 4:19a.m. I opened it to find Maddie who threw her arms in the air and said, "I'm 11!" I told her happy birthday, gave her a hug, and sent her back to bed. I didn't have the heart to tell her that according to my clock she was two minutes early in celebrating. I'm sure her clock said 4:21. And I didn't want to have to wake up again.
At 7:30 we got up for real, Mike headed to the Donut Connection and Caribou for a breakfast request by Maddie. We all ate our fill and watched Maddie open presents.
Yesterday while driving home she said to us, "Mom...you said that you would think about if we could go horseback riding tomorrow. Do you have an answer yet?" I told her that I had actually said that I really didn't see us having any time tomorrow to go horseback riding, but that we probably could sometime this summer. There was a loud sigh in the backseat and when we got home Mike followed me upstairs and started laughing saying, "I guess I'll have to remember that you can lie straight to our daughter's face and not break."
And when she opened her last gift there was an invitation inside to attend the trail ride at 1pm today (of which we had planned for weeks). She was pretty excited and has pulled it out a couple times to look at it; as if she doesn't believe it. I can't imagine why she wouldn't.
Our little girl is growing up right before our eyes. I don't want to say Mike had a small panic this morning, but he did say, "She's 11. She moves out in seven years. Seven." Then he told Maddie that. She didn't believe him until he did the math for her.
She's beautiful inside and out and we couldn't be more proud of the young lady she's turning into!
Time for another installment of "Around These Parts". I could take quite a few posts and update everyone - or bunch them into one. I choose to bunch:
1. Meet Keurig
This isn't a new addition - we've had it since May. But whenever we leave home, Mike and I actually miss our coffee maker. We seriously love it. We can get around 2-3 cups out of pod so it isn't as costly as it could be. Mike usually drinks the stronger first cup, I drink the second. The third comes into play if he's using the travel mug. He mixes the first and third cup and has the perfect blend for his morning.
This is the difference in brew between our two cups. I generally add a little more milk, but doesn't that just say, "Good morning!"
2. You'll find me at the computer a few nights a week editing photos.
We were recently in Iowa and I took our nephew's senior pictures. Yikes....he's graduating next year! Mike is getting old!
But I'm working on them....slowly but surely. Missy, his mom, narrowed the images from 250 to 60 and I bumped them up to 80. I'm hoping by the time it's all said and done we'll have around 30-50.
Seriously one of her favorite spots. So weird.
4. Jake's lunch of champions.
Jake's latest lunch obsession is chicken salad. He loves eating it (thought preferably not on bread, but scooped up by Tostitos). He makes this himself now and Mike and I have scammed our own lunches off his concoction.
5. "Murphy Newz" - latest edition found here.
One of Maddie's bingo squares told her to create a family newsletter. One morning we woke up to find an edition for each of us at our table for breakfast. Four pages of family "news in review". I think she had a good time putting it together and learned some things about layout. It included recipes, about three articles, assorted pictures and a few jokes. I don't know that she's ready to take subscriptions yet, but I thought it was a fun and am looking forward to future issues!
Maddie is on a smoothie kick. I think the blender is going to be occupying a permanent place on the counter - if we can find space. This was last week. I bought her some plain yogurt and this morning she just threw caution to the wind and came up with her own recipe that she wrote down as she threw it together. She and Jake liked it and have already started suggesting new ingredients for tomorrow.
7. Rockin' the Science.
One bingo activity was to make rock candy. This is not a hard recipe to make - or so we thought. But after 24 hours we had no crystals. I emailed our resident scientist who was on vacation in Iowa. She thought things over and gave us tons of advice on how to make it work. We reboiled and are happy to report that we now have crystals growing on four separate strings. No thanks to Mike. The first night I was frustrated and as we were going to sleep I told him all about it. He said, "Well, you had a string just hanging in there, so I pulled it out - maybe something will happen now." I said, "No. That string was SUPPOSED to be in there. That's what the crystals were going to grow on." Needless to say we didn't have crystals that next morning in that jar and there now resides a sign next to the jars saying, "Do Not Touch...Mike, this means YOU."
8. Running like the wind.
Jake wants to practice running and one of his bingo activities was to run with Mom or Dad for 15 minutes. He and I took on the loop around our house and did a few minutes of running followed by one minute of walking, then running again. He got up to 4 minutes of straight running. It's almost three miles and our goal was to do it in 40 minutes. We made it in 39 minutes, 58 seconds. We killed our last record which was 45 minutes. I suggested we train for a 5K with the family and Jake was totally on board - so was Mike. Maddie looked at us like we were crazy, but I think we can swing her vote to our side.
You are now caught up on life at casa de Murphy. See you next time.
I'm wife to my best friend and help him raise our family of two kids whom we are so proud of! I'm a piano teacher who has arranged recorded a Christmas CD and had that same music published for other pianists! I love most new projects and especially enjoy learning new techniques and skills I've never tried in creating things around me.