Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Anniversary Gift

Starting around our 10 year anniversary I told Mike that for our 15th anniversary we were going to get new dishes.  I repeated this anytime I thought appropriate.  He didn't believe it was necessary.  Then our plates started chipping and cracking and by this year we were down to six plates for the four of us - and those plates weren't pretty, but they hadn't completely busted up yet.

ON our 15th anniversary we actually started looking at some sets.  We found a couple we liked a lot, but realized it's a lot easier to pick out dishes when they are going on a registry and you aren't paying for them.

Instead of redeeming our credit card points for airline tickets, we turned them in for gift cards and are now the happy owners of these:

Everything here that isn't white is old.  Those cups on the bottom left?  Being replaced soon enough; I don't mind plastic cups once in awhile but I think we are ready to make more of a commitment to meals and plastic doesn't feel that way to me.

I honestly wasn't sure I was going to love these dishes - the mugs weren't selling it for me.  I'm happy to report though that they've grown on me.  Our coffee maker has a size perfect for them and I've grown used to the handle.  Mike likes the mugs a lot too.  He's asked me no less than three times if I still love "my" new dishes.  I informed him they were his too, though he insists they aren't. 

You know who else loves these dishes?  The kids!  They've remarked at each meal since we got them that they really liked how the food looked on them!  They thought the baked beans we served last night were really pretty!  We are creating little foodies with these!  However - they did comment that they didn't care for the dishes with waffles; the plates left no room for extra syrup on the side.

We cleaned out all the old stuff.  We'll try selling it in a future garage sale (very NEAR future!) or giving it to Goodwill.  We boxed up all the fancy schmancy wine glasses and goblets we were given for our wedding.  Then we wondered why we'd ever registered for it.  Almost all the glasses still had the original stickers on them; clearly they didn't see a lot of use over 15 years.

Now we have to start figuring out what to get/do for our 20th!

Friday, July 22, 2011


It all started when we first woke up.  Mike - who rarely gets a headache, woke up with one bad enough to make him go back to sleep another 50 minutes until he had to be in a conference call. 

It went downhill from there starting with my first emails over breakfast.  It included three trips to Office Max to make copies.  Three trips not because they made a mistake, but because I was a complete moron and first didn't even have the right paper to copy (discovered after making 1/3 of the copies I needed) and the second and third because I had made and distributed the correct fliers - only to find out I had marked down the wrong date. 

Two times out delivering said fliers to the neighborhood.  Maddie was along for both rides, thank goodness or it would have taken forever!

By dinner Mike and I just started laughing over everything because we realized I had taken out the wrong chicken for dinner.  It was all a bunch of little things, really, but they just start to add up and wear down a person during the day.  We figured we might as well laugh.

Then as I was whisking the sauce for our incorrect chicken we heard a loud crash come from the oven.  When we slowly opened it, we found this:

And then we laughed some more.  And then we called everyone in to go out for dinner.

But at the end of the day, what really stuck out to me was this conversation Maddie had with me after our second round of distributing fliers.  I thanked her immensely for helping and she said:

"Mom - I'll always help you.  Even when I'm 80, and you're, like, 100?  And you want me to knit something?  And I have arthritis?  I'll still do it for you."

It's just not possible to have a bad day when that's included.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

One Hour: Two Projects, Two Dinners, One Picture Session

Yesterday Maddie and I decided to take on some creative projects we've talked about.  Jake was gone, Mike was working and we had a little time.  We shopped at two stores for our supplies and headed home.

First up were the shoes I'd found at this website.  I'm not even going to explain how these were made.  Just know they were actually very simple and the tutorial is super easy to understand.  I have a bunch of scrap fabric and Michael's had flip-flops for $1 so that's what this accessory cost us.  This was probably the most time consuming project - 30 minutes tops.

She was very happy with them and I've decided I might need a pair for myself!

Next up were the ever popular hair barrettes with flowers in them.  I'd asked Maddie if she liked them and she was pretty enthusiastic about them.  The hardest part was shopping for flowers.  It's July which in stores means "fall".  There were no bright and fun flowers to be found.  Maddie was really hoping for bright pink and we were going for the big daisy look, but we found this instead:

We found some "barrettes" at Joann's except ours were actually labeled "Quilting Binders".  They are the little clip barrettes and the only kind Maddie wanted.  We pulled out Mike's wire cutter and snipped off a bud and hot-glued it on.  Maddie learned the hard way that the metal point on a glue gun is, in fact, extremely hot.  But, we made about four of these and have enough barrettes to be making them for years to come.  Next year we plan to shop early for flowers - or whatever happens to be the rage.

At this point I had to throw together dinner which was manicotti.  We aren't huge eaters, compared to the amount of food my mom made when I was growing up.  My family is liking leftovers less and less.  I've realized that a lot of bigger meals can be split up and frozen.  This is what I did and I whipped out enough manicotti for two dinners.  LOVE this!!!

Then we realized I still had 20 minutes before my lessons arrived so we decided on an impromptu photo shoot.  Maddie's very happy to have her picture taken lately and I'm not going to pass up those opportunities!

Good pics for her, practice for!

When we realized how much we'd accomplished in an hour, we high-fived each other followed by a "Girl Power!"

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Turning 12

This past weekend Maddie turned the big 1-2.  She's on the homestretch for entering those teenage years!

She wasn't so excited to get up at 6:45 on Sunday morning for church.  She was especially not excited to learn they were still staying for two services despite it being her birthday.

To make up for that, we had donuts for her on Saturday morning - when she finally woke up and came down she said, "You got donuts for me!?!"  

On Sunday we brought her present from us and her gifts from Iowa to church. Between services we headed to Caribou where she got her hot chocolate and opened gifts there. She received a couple Barnes and Noble cards. They dropped me off at church for service #2 and headed to the store to kill time in a more fun way than sitting in the Narthex. However, service #2 ends at 11:45. At B&N they thought they were going to be late picking me up. Turns out they read the clock wrong and it was 10:45 when they got back to church so they ended up sitting in the Narthex anyway. At least she had found an interesting book to keep her occupied.

After church we headed to Old Country Buffet at her request.  She was very happy and very full.

We lounged around the rest of the afternoon.  Our Minnesota family came over later that day and we had a great time swimming and hanging out.  Pizza was Maddie's request for dinner followed by a delicious Dairy Queen cake!

We hope all her wishes this year come true!

Saturday, July 9, 2011


Yesterday we went out on my parents' pontoon with Tracy and her kids and my parents.  We were all going to test out mom and dad's new toy - a tube to pull behind the pontoon.

This post has a lot of pictures.  I'm sorry - I'm terrible at editing down to a select few; I'm getting better but still not good.  So...less words, more pics.

It was Austin's birthday so he was the first one to get pulled.  He and Tracy tested the waters together:

Jake was next and I went with him.  This kid has been looking forward to this trip since he heard a tube was purchased!

Maddie was next and I felt bad going two times in a row.  I asked if anyone else wanted a turn and my dad was convinced to go along.  Despite not being prepared: no swimsuit, no towel. 

The first picture is looks like my dad is trying to flip them...knowing my dad (and I'm sure his sisters will agree) there was probably some mischief making ideas going on in his head...

Next up were the Runchey girls.  I thought they'd be nervous, but they were not in the least!

We weren't finished yet though.  These yahoos wanted to go together.  We laid out the rules for them: hands and feet inside the boat at all times.  Tracy and I were both sure to get verbal acknowledgements from our boys to know they heard and understood the rules.  We aren't dumb.

Riley wanted a turn with Maddie -

Finally Maddie and I got a ride together...we were really bumping around.  It was almost tiring!

Ellie convinced Grandma to go as well.  Again...not prepared.  No swimsuit, no towel.  White pants...what a grandma won't do.

While they were waiting to start Ellie asked my mom if she was scared.  My mom said she was a little and Ellie replied, "Don't worry, Grandma.  There's nothing to be scared about."

Then they started and my mom was a little surprised I guess.  I love Ellie's look at her though...

The girls couldn't pull the tube back to the boat to get off.  Jake was only too happy to jump in and swim out to rescue them. 

That large red blob is him.  His life jacket was an adult size.  He definitely wasn't going under!

The rest of the time was spent jumping and swimming in the lake between unloading/loading of the tube.  I think the kids had more fun swimming in the lake than tubing.  The outing was declared a major success and I know my kids can't wait to go again!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Party Boat

For the Fourth we headed to my parents' house for some dinner preceded by a croquet game (which Maddie and I did not win).  Afterward we headed out on my parents' pontoon to see the fireworks from the lake.

Yes...that's a Christmas blanket for a tablecloth - but it was red and if we imagined really hard the snowflakes look like fireworks.

Anyway - this year for the dessert Maddie and I made dipped strawberries:

They were a little harder to make than I imagined, but once we figured out a system we did this pretty fast.

They were a hit!  Mike was dubious, but liked them.  Ellie LOVED them.  We only had a few left!

They say couples that have been together awhile start to look alike... these guys have the same smirk...

Lots of fireworks that night by the lake residents.  Plus we saw a few other towns' fireworks.  We were even in a spot where we heard the DJ at one of the parties.  I took a million pictures, but as I suspected, the waves didn't help capture any very well. 

But it was fun to see the fireworks reflected in the water (which Maddie was first to notice to make sure I got a picture of that!)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

New Look

At the end of the school year, Jake was squinting quite a bit and his teacher was having him sit closer to the front when they were working off the board.  We headed to the eye doctor and sure enough, he needed some glasses.

They finally arrived late last week and I've never seen a kid so anxious to get them on!  His glasses were all we heard about for the two weeks they took to arrive (ridiculous amount of time, I think!). 

He got two pair.  One to be kept in hiding until the first pair eventually possibly breaks. 

These are the ones he's currently sporting:

We were both surprised we liked the above pair.  He loves them and knew from the start that this was the pair he was going to wear all summer.

He chose this pair to wear in the fall back to school when the other pair will go into hibernation:

If you look closely, this pair has a tiny red spot on each side.  So the glasses are red and black making them his school colors. 

Luckily we found these.  The first pair he wanted were built more like the top picture, but had giant streaks of red and black along the sides.  He looked like Elton John.  Unfortunately they were beyond our budget.  Such a shame.

We all like what he chose and thankfully he can see now and still remarks about the difference they make.  His correction, according to the doctor, isn't all that steep.  But to Jake they make a world of difference!

As for me, I'm going to have to review how to take pictures of people in glasses again to get rid of as much glare as possible!  I'm sure he'll love being my model for that!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Birthday, America!

Happy Fourth of July, everyone!

We plan to hang out in the warm sunshine and enjoy some family time later!  Enjoy your day!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Camping Part 3

I tried posting this a couple days ago and blogger was acting funny - I'm sure it wasn't user error.  So, today I'm finishing up with the entire rest of the trip. 

We headed fishing to the ONE fishing pier that existed in the entire park.  One?  Kind of silly.  A person can fish off the edges of the lake, but spots that hold more than one person are hard to come by.

There were about three other families fishing off this pier about the time we were there.  It added a little extra pressure for casting to fishing novices like us. 

It was a very slow day where fish were concerned.  Maddie's rod ended up falling apart.  First some nut/bolt thing came off her casting wheel.  After a bit she came up and whispered, " turning thing just dropped in the lake."

She and I shared my fishing rod the rest of the trip which gave me plenty of opportunity to just shoot pictures.

We headed back to camp after a bit with no fish to fry.  Not that we would have, but we didn't even have the opportunity to debate it.

The rest of the day we rode bikes, played sand volleyball, rode bikes, explored, and rode bikes.  Later that night we rented a fishing boat and headed out on the big lake.  Mike and I weren't sure what to expect for water, so I left my camera in the car.  I think I mentioned no less than 50 times how much I wish I'd taken my camera along.  We ended up seeing a couple Loons swimming very close and Mike caught a Northern.  You'll just have to believe me on that one.  Coming back we also saw a beaver and got to watch it swim and slap it's tail. 

Sunday we packed up camp and headed out.  There is a 10 mile trail we had debated biking but decided to drive it instead.  Very glad we did that.  It was hot and muggy, a little rainy, quite buggy and very hilly.  It took us forever to drive it, we can't imagine how long it would have taken to bike it. 

Near the end of the trail we came to the old fire tower.

This is a 100 foot tower that you can climb.  Only six people are allowed up at a time due to space limitation at the top.  We waited our turn and started climbing.  About three-quarters of the way up we were even with the tops of the trees.  As we went higher, the tower swayed a little.  Maddie and Jake said they weren't sure they wanted to go any higher.  Being the loving and nurturing parents we are, we told them to keep walking, they'd be fine. 

At the top there is a little wooden "shed" for lack of a better term.  I'm not sure six people could have fit up there, but the four of us had room to see the views all around...

...and the views straight down...

We headed back down and I believe I had counted around 134 steps. 

That was our official end to our time in Itasca State Park.  We started home and stopped in Park Rapids for some lunch.

Jake was excited to see an establishment he could connect with. 

We stopped at the "Minnesoda Fountain" for lunch.  The kids thought it was great that we got to sit at the counter and watch all the shakes and sundaes being made.

The food was okay.  The company was great.

Overall a very nice trip.  The kids thought they preferred this camping trip to Gooseberry last year.  Mike and I agreed we preferred Gooseberry over this trip.  We think if we'd brought bikes to Gooseberry the kids would have changed their minds.

Now we have all year to start planning next year's camping trip.  Any suggestions?