Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Sweet Sixteen!

Last Friday was our 16th Annivesary!

The Wednesday before that I thought "maybe my parents would be willing/available to take our kids overnight."  I emailed them and they kindly agreed.  Then I thought..."now what?"

I started looking up some hotels for us in downtown Minneapolis.  I decided on the Foshay Tower since neither of had been there and I just wanted something other than Marriott and Radisson.  (Both fine establishments...just looking to branch out a little.)

By Thursday morning I was wondering what the heck we were going to do for fun.  This planning thing was getting stressful.

Thursday afternoon Mike came upstairs slightly disappointed.  After lunch he was heading back to jury duty and in his spare time had been trying to think of some way for us to celebrate.  He thought Stillwater sounded interesting, but we weren't sure we could depend on him getting out of court at a specific time and it's a long drive.  I told him not to worry and I'd come up with something.

Can you imagine if he'd made reservations in Stillwater and I had non-refundable reservations in Minneapolis?

Friday morning I realized I still needed dinner reservations and after much deliberation and anxiety made reservations at The Capital Grille for 7:45pm...the last available "normal" time.  It was either that or 2:30pm.

Friday evening I dropped off the kids (and dog!) and Mike arrived home from jury duty with this...

I presented him with our itinerary and we arrived downtown around 5:30.  We decided to get ready for the night and head out for drinks.

The Foshay is not anything like I imagined.  VERY modern design.  It was recently renovated and I couldn't help but think the original designer was turning over in his grave.  It was super dark everywhere, except our room.  Our shower did have an awesome pink light in it though.

We headed upstairs to the Prohibition Lounge which was the floor the original owner was going to live on, but because of the Great Depression he never got a chance.  This floor was beautiful and totally what I had expected in design.  We just made happy hour and we were the dorks taking pictures of each other.

We walked about four blocks to the restaurant and decided we were definitely not taking that route back late at night; a little on the shady side.

Inside the restaurant everyone greeted us with "Happy Anniversary" and our table had rose petals and a card signed by all the waitstaff.

Then we kind of threw caution to the wind and ordered whatever we felt like.  Oh. My. Lord.  Everything was amazing.  We started with smoked salmon as an appetizer.  I'd never had it and was quite leery about cold fish...delish!!!  Bread, soup...check, check!  Awesome!  We really lucked out in the waiter we had.  We think he was an amateur sommelier and had so many suggestions and explanations of all the red wines.  I'm still trying to figure out a red wine that I like and I think we found a winner through him!  Tony (the waiter) even brought out different wines just for us to taste because he was so excited that we were seriously trying to learn new things.

Dinner was...well, The Capital Grille is by far my new favorite restaurant.  Forward to dessert and I was trying to decide between the Flourless Chocolate Cake and the Cheesecake.  Tony brought out both for us. Holy Cow.  We both LOVED the cheesecake.  I believe Mike's exact words were, "Whatever they did to the top of that need to figure it out!"  They had finished the top like creme brulee...creamy cheesecake underneath.  This may be my last request before I die.

After the meal, Tony took our picture and printed it out before we left.

We headed back to the hotel's lounge where there was a DJ.  Unbeknownst to us, it was Gay Pride Weekend.  Our hotel was filled with celebratants (celebraters?) and the people watching was fabulous!  We were having a good laugh over all the girls fawning over the group of guys in front of us and then watching their faces as they realized that these guys were probably not their type.

Saturday was spent on 50th and France walking around.  My parents ended up calling and reserving our kids and dog an extra night and Mike grilled salmon for the first time.  Look out Capital Grille!

It was such an awesome weekend and a huge needed "getaway" for both Mike and I!  Thanks mom and dad for stepping in and making it possible!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Updated Iowa Photo Ops

While in Iowa the kids came in from being outside and showed me some pictures they'd taken together.  I realized I had wanted to get some updated pictures of everyone so I asked them to head back outside.  Pat and Missy have a big backyard with tons of greenery and lots of shade!

There are actually six cousins, but two were MIA.  Steven is working almost full time and attending school as well.  We saw him maybe five minutes while we were there and I think that was just a fluke.

Aaron wasn't into the whole picture taking thing so he was inside at first.

The rest though were all for posing!

Amanda is going to be senior this coming year!  Man!  Are her parents getting old!

Amanda can be fairly quiet.  However, there are times where she says one sentence and it might be sarcastic or it might be a quick comment on the situation, but it makes me just laugh.  I guess because she is on the quieter side I still don't expect these little quips to come out of her mouth.

She loves to read; I think she should go into library studies.  When she asks me my opinion, I'll let her know that.  Until then, I'll keep it to myself.

There is also Samantha:

She loves to play softball.  She'll be a junior in high school coming up.  This is a fairly typical expression from her: a lot of smiling.

I believe Samantha is planning to pursue photography in college.  I will then be out of a job in this family.

There is also this yahoo...

She's alright.  I guess we'll keep her.

Together they form what we have offered referred to in the Murphy family as "The Giggle Girls".

Someone is always laughing.  Which starts someone else laughing, which leads to a third laughing.  Often times I don't even think they know what they are laughing about.

Aaron did finally decide to head outdoors.  He informed me he just hadn't really been "in the mood for pictures".  I can appreciate that - but I was definitely glad he came outside!

I didn't get a picture of each boy separately.  Sorry, Aaron!  Time was running out and I wasn't on my game.

Jake and Aaron are six months apart in age with Aaron being the older and wiser one.  I think they share a mutual love of Legos and anything stamped with "NERF".

We did round everyone up for a couple group shots.

I have to say - I normally don't like these shots.  I think it's hard to see the upside-down people.  I'm kicking myself for not using my camera's flip-screen feature to get a better angle.  Live and learn.

But the thing that stood out for me in the picture above was their eye color....can you tell they are all related?

Maybe we'll be able to clone in Steven someday.  It's a good-lookin' group of kids!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Trip Down South

The day after school ended we headed down to visit our family in Iowa.  Mike's aunt was so nice to let us stay at her house.  The kids were beyond excited because during our previous trip there she had shown them her attic that had been finished with three bedrooms.  We got to sleep up there and the novelty of sleeping in an attic (!) was not lost on them!

Mike's aunt is an extremely busy woman.  One of the things that keeps her so busy is her volunteer work for the hospital.  She knits several items for them to sell in the gift shop each week.  She also crochets.  She also sews two little fabric books each week for the gift shop.

Doris kept Maddie and me busy!  She helped Maddie gain a better understanding of how to crochet, but specifically left-handed.  Both Maddie's grandma's have tried to help her by having her mirror them, but it never really worked well.  Doris is left-handed and it was so much easier for Maddie to follow.  Doris also found and copied some basic instructions for Maddie to take home and study.  I think one of Maddie's goals for the summer is to crochet something other than a long string.

Doris also taught me how to knit a nifty little scarf from a netting-like ribbon that I had never seen.  I haven't knitted in awhile, but this got me itching to find another project at home!

Doris is also a huge Cub's fan.  While we were in Iowa the Twins were playing the Cubs and a game was always on.  We stayed up late one night to watch a close one.  On the last day of our trip Mike was bold enough to wear his Twins shirt and Doris was kind enough not to mention it.

We also got to meet up with Mike's brother's family.  They were pretty busy though, so we had some downtime between visits.

We spent some time at "Hobby Lobby".  Dear Hobby Lobby: Please build a store in Shakopee.  I would love you dearly.  My kids would not - but they don't know what's good for them; their brains are still developing.

We spent far more time in the fake flower section than we expected to.  I think we all learned that Mike is a little pickier about his fake flowers than we might have imagined.  But, I think we came up with a nice arrangement to place out at the graveside for Mike's parents.  The vase had finally arrived and we wanted to help fill it out.

One afternoon we occupied ourselves by driving around and randomly stopping.

The kids were goofy and thought it would be fun to pretend to fall down this incredibly steep hill.  It had just been mowed and Jake thought it would be fun to have a grass fight.  Maddie: not so much.

But, we rounded up the troops and Mike got an updated picture with the kids.

Maddie decided to take a picture of Mike and I and didn't do too bad!

We had a photo shoot of most of the cousins, which I'll post next time.

On our last night we took Doris out for a delicious meal at the "Iowa Machine Shed" as a thank-you.  Really tasty food and afterward we were given a tractor ride through the parking lot.

A very successful trip where we got to catch up with family and have a great start to the summer!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Dad's Day/Project Day

On Sunday morning we made a batch of "Eggs-in-a-Frame" (bread with a hole in the middle for an over-easy egg) for Mike.  Except he hates eggs-over-easy, and only likes these with scrambled eggs in the middle.  That is really hard to make but somehow what we made him managed to be edible and over breakfast between mouthfuls we badgered him for what he wanted to do that day.

Between mouthfuls he said, "I would like today to be Project Day.  I want you guys to learn how to do things because as a dad, I'm supposed to teach you things."

Yikes.  Nothing like going deep one hour into the day!

So, we all donned our work gear and tackled the first project: laying two pieces of tile for the bar area.

He had the kids cut the tile.  Then he had them mix up the cement.  Then we headed downstairs where they each got to lay one of the tiles.

I stood back and offered moral support during this time.  There's only so many people that can fit around a 12x12 inch tile.

Next, each kid was hammering a small corner piece to the new end of the bar.  Mike's thumb was only hit two or three times while holding those nails.

After that, we split into two groups.  Jake helped Mike build a small wall to extend the bar area slightly to support the coming granite.  Maddie and I worked on mudding the previous extended bar area.  Then the kids switched and they each did the other job for a bit.

We had lunch at Taco Bell which Mike was THRILLED with.  (Apparently it was a favorite of many dads...the place was packed.)  Afterward Mike took some time to work on some hobbies and the kids got a break from duties.

Despite all the work, he said he had a nice day.  Hopefully that's true because he's a dad that definitely deserves it!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Baseball Season

It's that time of year again.  Baseball season started in May and we've been at the ball parks two times per week since then.

I took my camera along to the last game and was happy to see he got to pitch.  He was happy too; he enjoys pitching.

There was sooome concentration going on!

The wind-up...

The pitch...

And a happy ending.

There are three Jakes on his team and each is called by a different name.

One day I was cheering and yelling, "Go, Jake!"  One mom leaned over to me and said, "Isn't that kid's name 'Murph'?"

I have a really hard time cheering for my son using his last name.  But honestly, he rarely hears what I have to say if I just say, "Jake" because on the ball field - it's "Murph".  "Jake" is the other kid.

Tonight he played catcher.  It's probably his favorite position.  He was all excited and hoped I'd brought my camera.  I hadn't.  I guess it will be coming to every future game until I can get the catching pictures.

Monday, June 11, 2012

So Alike, Yet So Different

Mike and I are ridiculously anal on some things.  As in, my closest friend makes constant fun of me and our Excel spreadsheet.  Sometimes the truth hurts.  We love Excel spreadsheets.  We are constantly making them for different lists.

We have made lists for:
*House To-Do Projects including estimated timing to complete, whether it's a do-it-yourself or hire out job, and estimated time as to when to start.  We have also put these in order of importance and ranked them within that order.
*Names for our future dog.  This included Names, how many votes each name received, and what ranking it had between the four of us.
*Disney Trip.  Yikes - this involved multiple pages within one book.  We had a "schedule" (color coded) by day for the actual trip.  We had multiple spreadsheets to help us plan said schedule including separate pages on restaurants, their ratings and our ranking of which ones we wanted to sign up for first if it became an issue of priority.

To say we have a  We'd both completely agree we love a good spreadsheet.

But.  Some of us are a little more dedicated than others.  Tonight we decided to make a spreadsheet of chores for the kids including what we are willing to pay them.

Mine started out like this:

By the time he was finished, Mike had it looking like this:

You know what is even more sad?  I love when Mike whips up a spreadsheet.  Everything is so pretty and organized when he's finished.

Hopefully it helps the chore thing and compensation thing move along better.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

What the Smurf?!?

Mike has a horrible long term memory; it's actually a running joke in the family.  Whenever stories come up with, "Remember when..." - Mike will usually start shaking his head before the story is even finished.  It really drove his mom crazy.

So the other night we were sitting at dinner and the kids were discussing the "Smurf" movie they had just seen.  I asked if Gargamoyle was in it and they said he was.  Then I asked about Gargamoyle's cat and the kids and I sat around wondering what the cat's name was.  Mike sat down and started loading up his plate and I said, "WHAT was the name of Gargamoyle's cat??"

While loading up his burger Mike says matter-of-factly, "Azrial."

I just stared at him.  "Are you joking me?  You can't remember your third grade teacher.  You can't recall anything from childhood play times and birthday parties, but all the sudden you remember the name of a cat from a cartoon you watched 30 years ago?"

He said, " asked."

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Coming to a Close

Today is the last day of school!  That meant that yesterday was busy busy busy with Awards Day and Jake's school talent show.

This year the kids' awards ceremonies slightly overlapped.  Maddie was up first...

She received awards for Academics and a Citizenship award.

She was a little disappointed.  There was one award that she was really hoping to get and didn't.  But...she'll try again next year.

My mom attended Maddie's ceremony with me and my dad had skipped it so that he could get to Jake's when it started and Jake would somehow be represented.  Luckily mom and I made it without missing anything for Jake.

Surprisingly, Jake won an award for Perfect Attendance.  I have to say - this was quite a surprise.  I really thought/assumed he'd missed at least some day this past year.  Mom and I had just been talking on the way over how we were impressed with kids that were able to attend an entire year without missing a single day.  Didn't know my kid was one of them.

Jake also received an award for academics.

My parents and I also attended Jake's talent show.  He would not tell us what he was doing.  In fact, he went so far as to say to my mom when she asked, "I can't tell you what I'm doing and we aren't talking about this anymore."  Turns out he was part of a flash mob of kids that stood up at the end and sang/danced to a song played over the loudspeakers.  He said he was pretty nervous because he doesn't like to dance in front of people.  It was kind of neat...a bunch of the teachers jumped up too and some of the kids, one by one, got into the groove and jumped up to start dancing.

Maddie was not happy with 7th grade this year in terms of ending school.  As she told Jake, "You should enjoy your last days of school.  When you get into my grade you don't get to have fun anymore at the end of the year.  I have to learn all the way up until the end and take tests."

At 2:50 today Maddie returns and Jake follows 40 minutes later.  Then we are off and running for the summer.  We plan to have lots of fun...and maybe (dare I say it)...sneak in some learning too!