Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Maddie and Mike are so done with winter.  They are not fans of cold.  They are not fans of snow.  Any appearance of these two things after Christmas is hardly tolerable.  There has been a LOT of grumbling the last couple weeks.

So this week when I was grocery shopping and saw that strawberries were on sale I thought I'd try to buy their happiness.  This afternoon Maddie got home and saw I was cleaning the strawberries and was so excited to see one of her favorite treats.

EXCEPT...I said no to her request to eat them.  I told her I had to take a picture of them.  She said, "Of course you do."  She rolled her eyes while saying this!  [gasp!]  What is she trying to tell me?!?

So, I piled these pretty, red specimens into our ONE colored dish.  (Seriously - the only one, which I find sad.)  I then headed out and plopped them on a pile of snow.  It was hard to find one, but I managed.

They looked so pretty, even I might have been tempted to try one.

Except I really wasn't.  Blech.  And seeds.  Double blech.

But I got my picture of the day.

Then I took my frozen self inside and let Maddie have this special treat I bought just for her and Mike.

And, apparently, me.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Eagle Eyes

Driving home this afternoon it was pretty quiet in the car until we were about three minutes from home and passing a large farm field near us. 

Mike said, "Did anyone else see that?  Were those eagles?"  He slowed down and pulled over and I barely saw two large birds in the field.  I said that was interesting, but surely they wouldn't be eagles just sitting there.  Probably turkeys.

Mike wasn't convinced, so he turned around and drove back.  Sure enough there were two eagles sitting out there.  One was feasting and we are pretty sure one was on the lookout.  We were entranced.  (Well, most of us were, Jake had an absolute goal of finishing his Harry Potter book before we got home.)  I said how I WISHED I had my camera with us.  Mike said, "That would definitely make a great picture of the day."  Then he turned around and drove us home and told me to just run in and get the camera.

So I did....

I tried shooting from the car, but even zoomed in all the way, they were still halfway across the field. 

So I manually zoomed.  Mike warned me to just be careful and not get attacked.  So, I hopped out, and took a few steps, then took some shots.

And that's how the next five minutes went.  Shoot a picture, move up three feet.  Shoot a picture, move up three feet.  Across the field full of ice and manure.

I didn't know Maddie had hopped out too.  And Mike didn't want to yell at her to stop following me because he didn't want to scare them off and get his two girls attacked.

Apparently we look like easy prey.
Maddie was behind me trying to coach me on the best shots to a sort-of whisper/yell voice. time your camera clicks they look up.  Try to get them looking up.

 A nature photographer I am not.  I was just hoping to get them in focus.

But, I did get my shot for the "Picture of the Day".

And they finally got spooked enough to fly away.  At least to fly away about 200 feet.  I wasn't going to chase them.  Not in an icy field full of manure.  There's only so much I'm willing to do for a picture of the day.

And when we got home, Jake had finished his book.  He vaguely remembered us talking about the eagle but didn't really see anything when he spared his nano-second glance.  Good thing I have pictures to prove it!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Big Beautiful Muffins

I just wanted that picture to clarify what I was referring to in the title.

A couple weeks ago I used up a lot of frozen bananas to make lots of mini-muffins and a loaf of banana bread.  My taste testers agreed the bread was still the best and Jake threw out a request for Blueberry Muffins.  He LOVED blueberry muffins.  Could I PLEASE make blueberry muffins.

So I pulled out my awesome "America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book".  I seriously love these books; I can't imagine that I'll ever need another cookbook.  They give a general muffin recipe, then include different ingredients to make your muffins even more special. 

[And Mike will vouch for the fact that I am THAT immature that I'm giggling a little every time I type "muffins".]

Anyway - real blueberries, made from scratch.  I envisioned how my Mother of the Year award from Jake was going to look on the mantle.

The first batch was regular muffin size.

Look at that exploded blueberry.  You don't get that from a box.  And I love these beat-up pans. 

I also don't like to cook with cupcake liners.  I just think it takes away from the overall presentation.  I'm all about presentation.

The next batch was mini-muffins.  1.)  I bought this pan - I need to use it. 

2.) Not often that you get to say, "Aren't those the cutest mini-muffins you've ever seen?"

The third batch was muffin tops.  Mike kept telling me awhile ago how he liked the tops of muffins the most so I bought this special pan. 

And when you pop them out it looks like you hacked off their body...

Then I loaded them all together for a big pile of muffin goodness when the family got home.

I had brought one down to Mike to test and later instant messaged him to find out if they were good (yes, we are truly that dorky).  The conversation went like this:

ME:  How were they?
MIKE: Good
[Me: stared at computer and thought, "That's IT???"  Silence.]
MIKE:  So good, could I have another?
ME:  Better answer

The vote?  Mike and Maddie were in favor of these - they gobbled them up.  Jake?  Not so much.  Turns out our "blueberry muffin" fan is a fan of the dehydrated stuff from a box.  According to him, "The blueberries just kind of explode in your mouth." 

Me?  I found one that included only one blueberry and ate the muffin part around it.  I might just make a couple plain muffins for myself next time. 

In other news....these decadent delights are now gone.

I'm both happy and sad about this.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Heart Day Conversation

Last night I cut the boys' hair.  They were each in desperate need of a haircut!  This morning they were discussing their new haircuts and this was the following conversation:

Jake:  My hair is the shortest it's ever been!
Me:  It's not that it's the shortest ever, it's just shorter than it's been in awhile.
Mike:  Yeah Jake, now your hair looks so nice, I bet all the girls will want to give you kisses for Valentine's Day!
Jake:  Nuh-uh!  No way.  I bet all the girls will want to kiss YOU, dad!
Me:  There better not be girls kissing him!
Jake: [sly smile]....I can think of one that will probably give him a kiss.

Friday, February 11, 2011


Last night Maddie participated in the Shakopee Spelling Bee.  She's spent the last few weeks studying from a provided list and being grilled on random words we've thrown at her.  Most of the words appeared out of no where.  We'd all be sitting together and quiet and we'd just say a large word that we'd almost never use and she'd automatically spell it. 

Now, Mike excels at almost everything, but he is not the world's greatest speller.  He's horrible at it.  In fact it's so bad that there are times where I think he's spelling poorly just to annoy me - no one could possibly be that bad.  I can safely say that if spelling is related to a gene from either of us, it definitely came from me.  But, to help her relax beforehand he said to her, "Have fun!  Just remember everything I've taught you."

Except he said, "Just remember everything I've teached..."  Then he stopped and corrected himself.  Grammar isn't his strongest suit either.

I've never attended a spelling bee and it was interesting to watch.  And yes, I spelled every word in my head along with the kids.

Maddie gave Mike and I small heart attacks each time she got up there.  Most kids were writing the words first.  Maddie would get up there, hear the word, then slam through it without writing it down.  Gulp.

She made it to the 5th round, I believe.  I honestly don't even know what word tripped her up.  It started with a "v" and was about nine letters long - hopefully that narrows it down for you.  Because I hadn't heard the word (and the mics were horrible so I barely heard her letters) I held my breath because I hadn't been able to telepathically spell it with her.  I had no idea if she'd gotten it right or wrong.

She's had quite a month at school - She received straight A's a couple weeks ago for the 2nd quarter.  Last week she was awarded Student of the Month in her section.  It's a goal she set for herself at the beginning of the year and she accomplished it!  This week she took on a new challenge of getting up in front of a crowd and holding her own!

Love this girl!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Souperbowl Sunday

Yesterday we hosted my family over for a "Soup-erbowl" Party.  We had three different soups and some bread and chips.  Yummy!

Mike and I had to run some errands that afternoon and Maddie and Jake stayed home and went into decorating mode.  They had decided to cheer for the Packers.  I told them they were grounded, but they assured me they would go back to cheering for the Vikings once the season began next fall. 

Guests were greeted in the family room with this:

This sign led them downstairs to where we all found a spot on the couch:

When my sister's family arrived Maddie asked Austin if he was cheering for the Packers.  He replied in a very commanding - never-give-up voice:

"I am NOT cheering for the Packers.  They are the Vikings enemy.  I will NEVER cheer for the Packers."

My sister stood behind him beaming and mentioned how proud she was that he was such a good listener.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Friday Photos

When Jake got home today I asked him if I could take his picture.  He asked why.  I told him I had already taken Maddie's pictures and I needed a picture for today. 

I think he's more excited about this 365 project I'm trying to accomplish than I am.  He sets things up for me and points out different objects I should take a picture of.  So, he begrudingly gave me about 10 minutes.

After the family room and trying to figure out the light in our house and our camera I moved over to the kitchen area where I took Maddie's pictures.

This was after I asked him to think about his girlfriend.

I didn't want to explore this question further.

This was one of Jake's favorites.

Apparently he likes the more traditional poses.

And after about 10 minutes I got this:

Me: "Do you have anymore ideas for poses?"
Jake: [sigh] "Nope."

Then he grabbed this...

And turned into a pirate.

A pirate with guns.

A pirate daring me to take him on...

Then he was a dead pirate.

I shot him.

HA!  Get it?  Shot him?  Camera...shot his picture???

I'm here all week.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Thanks, Mom

Since it's February and Valentine stuff is all over, I thought I'd post our new valentine wreath!  It's actually been up since mid-January.  It's the easiest wreath I've put together yet, because I didn't have to do anything except hang it!

This heart wreath was made by my mom last year and she entered it into the State Fair.  And she won!!  So, we have an award winning wreath hanging on our door!

Originally I intended to just hang the red wreath on our red door, but I thought the colors would clash.  Then I realized it fit perfectly over our white wreath.  I love how it changes the center shape and gives some simple interest.

I thought I'd try a new angle this time.  Didn't work great - too much reflection, but it gives a view as if driving by on our street.  The heart wreath is a TON of little red felt circles squished on to a heart shape wreath.  I mean squished.  I'm really not sure how it was made, but I love the texture against the white wreath.

So, thanks, mom, for doing all the work!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Flight Time

Jake participated in his first archery tournament last Saturday.  It threw me off that the email we got referred to his "flight time".  I kept picturing him piloting a jet.

He started lessons last Monday and signed up for the tournament that was taking place five days later.  Nothing like jumping right in.

His coach called and talked to Mike about placing Jake in the age category one above him.  I'm not sure why or how we were able to do this, but the coach had checked with the officials and it was okay by them.  So, Jake participated with kids in 4th grade through 6th, I believe.

He said he felt like a midget.  Which is funny, because I do believe that one of the reasons the coach placed him here was so that he didn't feel like a giant with all the kindergartners.

There was some confusion as to who was standing where and so the officials had to come over and sort things out.  I, however, didn't know this and thought they were going over to kick him out for some reason before the competition even started.

He held his own.  He shot pretty well at 10 meters (we are going to call it meters - I think that's what they measure in).  He was excited that he got two bullseyes at this range.

Unfortunately he's not able to use his own bow.  I'm not really sure why; honestly seems kind of dumb to me - why get one if he can't even use it and get used to how it feels?  But they didn't ask my opinion.

(Sometimes I wish the world would ask my opinion.  Sometimes I think it would run smoother if they did.  Mike would laugh at this though because I can't make a decision on where to eat out to save my life.)

It was interesting to watch.  Whistles blowing, commands given and these kids got up and down like they'd been doing it for years...not five days.

They moved on to 15 meters and things got tricky.  Jake's arrows hit just as many of the targets beside him as his own.  In his defense, I don't think he'd ever shot that far before.

After the first round of 15 meters one of his coaches came up to me saying he was in the wrong group.  This confused me because I knew Mike had talked to Jake's coach about it so I thought maybe the guy was quite forgetful.  Turns out there are two coaches.  The officials had come up to the one that hadn't talked to them and told him that Jake was in the wrong group.  I'm still befuddled by the whole thing.  The coach also wanted to assure me that Jake was actually doing fine in this group.  Yes, his shots were a little wonky at 15 meters, but in case I was going to get concerned, there was no need.

No need for him to worry either.  I thought Jake was rocking it!  He looked like he was having fun, and he was certainly doing better than I ever would have!

As for scoring, we really have no idea how he did.  Jake's team's round was done before the whole event was over and we haven't received an email from his coach and Jake doesn't have another class for a week.  Still, Jake's anxious for the next tournament and said he had tons of fun.  Can't ask for more than that!