Thursday, February 28, 2013

Project Life - Week 8

Whew - squeezing this one in before week's end!  Just in time to put the next one up in a few days!

Maddie was a little more front and center last week.  However, I've come to the conclusion that that is just how it's going to work some weeks and there's no reason that every person has to be equally represented.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013


This past weekend Maddie was involved in Shakopee's Jr. High production of "Pirates of Penzance".  She played one of the pirate parts and has been practicing after school for weeks.  She's been dancing and singing around the house for only slightly less time.

We went to Saturday night's performance with my sister and parents.  Maddie had been telling me for two weeks where we were supposed to sit.  The day of the concert she even drew a map of the auditorium so that we knew exactly where we were supposed to go.

There was a lot of work involved here and the kids were very impressive!

One of her best friends was in the show as well.  On Saturday while I drove them there, they were both lamenting that there were only two shows and that they would soon be done.  I suppose it's a lot of work and then it suddenly seems like it's over in a couple seconds.

I'd never seen "Pirates of Penzance" and it's a cute story.  I wouldn't mind seeing the whole version someday when it comes to town.

Maddie originally tried out for one of the daughter parts, but in the end said she was so happy to have gotten a pirate part.

She had a great experience and says she'll probably try out for whatever comes along next year.  If it's a great show, then she'll try for the cast, otherwise she said she would like to try for one of the student directors or something like that.

Big theatrical plans!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Completely Unrelated

1.)  You may have seen this picture in our weekly update from last week:

I typed a note that this is Sadie's favorite hangout.  It has been for the last couple months, though I guess it depends on the time of day.  If it's sunny out, she prefers to spend her mornings laying right in the middle of the walkway through our family room/kitchen area.  There is a bright spot of light that I would guess is really warm and she lays claim to that warmth.

However, most of the other parts of the day you will find her sprawled out behind our couch OR MOST LIKELY on the top step leading to our basement.  She takes the entire step because she actually stretches her front and back legs out.  When you walk by she stays like that and just her eyes follow you - it's sort of creepy.

If you actually want to go down the steps?  That's a big first step because SHE DOESN'T MOVE!!  You have to squeeze your foot to the right or left against the wall, or completely step over her.  It's super awesome when you are carrying the extra groceries to the fridge downstairs and your arms are full.

2.)  I have found this ad amusing all week:

It's from the Joann Fabrics Ad.  Does anyone else find this bag ridiculously huge?  I showed it to Jake and he said, "It looks like a Mary Poppins Bag!"  It's so big she could pull anything out of it.  It might even swallow her.  I can't even imagine how heavy it could get.  I bet those wood handles digging into the top (and bottom) of her shoulder are so comfy!

But then Jake and I actually read the description:

I don't think she's sneaking anything in anywhere anytime soon.  I also don't think this bag stands a chance of being less conspicuous than a little yarn tote.

3)  I think we would all really like a snow day.  One of my students came in dejected last night for his piano lesson.  The snow we were supposed to get hadn't even started - anyone around here assumes that means there is no chance for a snow day following.  The first thing he said when he entered: "We are NEVER going to get a snow day," followed by the saddest face I've seen in a long time.

This morning Jake told me that the weathermen needed to just stop reporting that we were going to get snow because they hype it up, then we only get a few inches and everyone's hopes are dashed.

At this point of winter everyone just needs a mental health day.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Project Life- Week 7

Official Valentine Day Week...a few extra hearts.

I'm a little nervous for this week...I don't think a single picture has been taken by anyone.  Keep your fingers crossed!!

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Music Man

This year Jake started band and has been working on his percussion instruments since last summer.  This past Saturday was his first band concert.

He was SO excited to play in this district-wide concert.  I bet we have heard about it every week for the past month at least!  At one point he even pulled his favorite piece up on YouTube for us to listen to.  He prefaced it with not knowing if he should or if it should be a surprise but he "just wanted everyone to hear how awesome it is!"

I'm so excited to see his enthusiasm for band.  It was something unexpected but I'm just loving hearing him talk about how things are going and I love when he tells us how much he loves playing percussion.

(And please note: He doesn't play drums.  He's not a drummer.  He's a percussionist...he plays percussion.  We had that drilled into us early on.)

Sorry about the quality of these pictures.  They are taken from halfway across a gymnasium and cropped way too much so I could get rid of some of the other faces.

Here's a video of his favorite piece: "Magma".  You may not want to watch it if you are prone to motion sickness.  The only way we could record sound was if we recorded a picture too.  Mike says he will be impressed if anyone can actually spot Jake in this.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day!

Our day began with a special treat for all of us: Valentine Donut Breakfast! 

Let me just say - half the stock was already gone at 6:15am at the Donut Connection.  Clearly I wasn't the only one with this brilliant plan today.

There is a little celebration going on during Jake's class today.  Not sure that we could top last year's Valentine hit we tried our best in the Internet search for someone else's creative idea.  We found it:

These were super easy to create (again - thank you, Internet!) and I was only too happy to realize that bamboo skewer sticks could be cut down easily and hot glued to the back of the mustache.  Better yet?  We had everything we needed and these were free!!  Even better - we aren't left with a half-bag of candy tempting Mike and I all day!

Mike and Jake gave the mustaches a test-run for me...and for you.

Maddie's school has dress-up days all week.  Today was formal day:

She pulled out the Christmas dress that also required her jewelry.  It started out at 30 degrees today.  It's supposed to get colder.  Luckily Mike is picking her up so it's only a short walk to the car once the temps drop!

If he's still sporting the mustache, I hope she recognizes him!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Week 6

When I started this project, I decided that each month would use it's own set of digital papers that I've had stored for ages.  February is going to be dedicated to reds, pinks, hearts and swirls.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Four Months Later...

Last October I took Maddie out for a photo shoot after school.  It was a very impromptu thing, but she's usually pretty game for pictures and the day was gorgeous.  The trees were also losing their leaves and I wanted some pretty colors before it was too late.

I told her it was more of a practice session for me, really.  I wanted to work on my focus issues as well as getting over the idea that I needed the "perfect background" before I could take a picture.  I wanted to find some areas that gave me a "little" perfect area - not an acre.

I think we did okay.  We found some great locations that I'm going to keep in mind for future use!  Here's what we came up with:

First there is a covered gazebo by the river.  I wanted to make sure her face wasn't too dark, and that she was in focus while being under a covered building.  We did okay here.

I also played around in Photoshop because I'm trying to figure out how to give pictures more of that vintage feel that seems to be so popular.

Next I took her to an abandoned gas station in town.  I've driven by it several times and I LOVE the white bricked wall.  However...she gave me one shot here.

What you don't see if me having pulled about 10 weeds right in her path. You also don't see the 50 bees that were swarming around the remaining 25 weeds about five feet away from her.  I had a zoom lens - I felt completely safe.  She....not so much.

I still want to shoot more photos here.  I learned a lot about the reflective properties of your surroundings - she was well-lit surrounded by all this white!

Next up was a large old church nearby.  The brick is so full of texture and they have a big open area of grass.

The sun was going to be disappearing soon, so we headed home.  However, I saw a spot that I thought would test me on my minimal-background aspirations.

We actually got several shots here that worked.  I don't think you'd guess there was a big townhouse and a large property sign so close.

A little further down the street we found a huge tree.  I was very curious if I could make it work.  It was the only thing that was going to give me color at Maddie's height but it involved her basically standing in one large open spot under the tree with very little light getting in between the branches.

Can I just say what a trooper she was?  This was right next to a pretty busy street and on top of that, there was a group of high school guys training for their track and field.  I offered to wait until they passed in case she was embarrassed getting her pictures taken but she just shrugged her shoulders and said it wasn't a big deal.

We got home and reviewed everything.  Then they sat on my computer for so many months.  Overall I think I did okay in self-tests.  I did have better focus, but I still have a long way to go.  I was very happy with our locations (plus a few others we found) and I have a little more confidence in shooting somewhere other than "the perfect tree" location.  Practice makes perfect!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Week 5 Catch All

I'm amazed by the end of the week that we actually have enough pictures to make it appear that we did something.  Maybe I'm just amazed that despite feeling like all we do is sit around, the end of the week shows me that we actually keep fairly busy!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Room Reveal

Earlier this fall I mentioned to Jake that we could redecorate his room if he wanted.  Initially he wasn't so gung-ho about it.  He said he liked his room.  A week later he asked what I'd had in mind.  I offered up newly painted walls, a new bedspread, and maybe some accessories.  A week after that he wondered what colors I had been thinking - I told him it was up to him.

A week later he told me gray and orange.

After, that we were off and running in the idea department.  He really liked the pictures he already had hanging up.  Which was good, because so did I.  That and they have such great memories for me.  He was around 4 or 5 years old when we first set up his room and we had been at Target and he pointed these pictures out to me and said he really liked the race cars.  He asked me about them all the time.  However, they were way beyond the budget we had set.  I told him we could keep an eye on them to see if they ever went on sale and maybe we could buy one.  He kept that in his head and because it was summer, he and I were soon walking to and from Target every single day.  After a little over a week our persistence paid off.  His pictures were on sale....for 75% off!  We were able to get all three for around $25.  It just makes me smile to think of how excited he was to be able to get all three and how every day he asked if we should walk to Target to check on his pictures.'s what his room looked like pre-makeover:

And rest assured - this was abnormal.  Most days things were scattered all over his floor, but we'd made him shovel things out that day.  

I brought home some paint samples and he and I sat in his room looking at different walls, with different lights on and off and he finally chose the paint color he wanted.  It took me about a week to get the painting done, including the orange stripes.  When I showed him my original striped idea, he changed it up, then rechanged it, then changed it again, only to decide that the original idea was the best one.  (Life was so much easier when our kids didn't have an opinion!)

Things came to a standstill.  We bought something to hold his Legos.  Then it sat for awhile before I finally put it together and sorted all his Legos by color.  Then the room sat some more.  

Last week without telling him I enlisted the help of my parents.  They showed up about 10 minutes after he left for school and we ambushed his room.

Ta - da!!!

(All the paraphernalia under his bed will be going.  Mike and he plan to build a wall of Nerf guns in his closet.  Hopefully there will be room left for his clothes.  I'm not joking - he has that many Nerf guns.)

The gray on the walls ended up being far lighter than we had envisioned, but he still liked it.  On Friday my parents and I talked a little on his furniture placement and tried to come up with a way to give him separate spaces for his different activities: a reading/Lego area, a school work area, and his drum area.  I didn't think it was going to be possible until we just moved the bed to try things out and it worked perfectly.

I spent a few days last week working on these signs.  I had printed up some mock ideas for Jake to look at to see what my plans were to incorporate the cars he LOVES into his room design without getting all theme-y.  I had tried painting them by hand and that was a bust.  I ended up printing out my graphic design at OfficeMax and using Modge Podge to adhere them to some canvases.  Neither of us was too impressed with them once I finished them, but my mom suggested we put them on the wall anyway and in the end we all decided they worked really well.

A couple weeks back the kids, my mom and I ventured to Joann's where we found the perfect orange and gray fabrics to make a bench cushion.  Enter mom: she did all the work.  On Friday we realized we had enough orange fabric to make a pillow cover for a pillow form I already had laying around and she whipped one of those up too.  The Lego storage is working out AWESOME and he loves having everything sorted by color and it's actually staying that way!

These shelves were a bit of a fluke, but worked out perfectly.  We were looking for some plain ones at Target and I spotted these right away - because they were the only ones on sale!  This gave us a chance to nicely display his treasures from Grandma Murphy's house but keep them off the furniture tops where things were being piled on top of them.  My dad spent a good deal of time trying to get these hung just right - they were super annoying to hang.  In the end my mom was chomping at the bit to be able to decorate them so I offered up trying to hang them with 3M Velcro strips.  I'm happy to report they haven't fallen off the wall!

While my dad worked on the shelves my mom and I cleaned up Maddie's room and hung up her bulletin board (which Jake also received though I didn't picture it) as well as a new full length mirror for the back of her door she's wanted forever.  Two rooms for the price of one!

Thanks to my helpers!  I thought we'd bust this out in only a couple hours.  They were there for about five!  There's no way I would have been able to complete this all on my own in one day and surprise Jake like we did.  We kept saying it was like we were one of those HGTV shows...kind of fun and exciting to surprise someone with a makeover!

Friday, February 1, 2013

On Our Bookshelf

You may remember last Christmas when a new author was introduced to our household.  We received a book written by my mom about stories surrounding the playhouse she had as a girl.  I was so happy to receive these little stories from her childhood!

This past Christmas we were given a new book:

Each family received a book.  As we were opening them, she explained the story behind the book.  There are many times when we will be discussing something and mom will suddenly come up with a new topic...completely random from what we were discussing.  It throws us all off for a few seconds, and we generally tease her for her complete randomness.

She decided that for a few months she would write down every random thought she had and present the compilation to us as a Christmas present.

Actually, there are a lot of golden nuggets of wisdom in here - as in real, honest to goodness advice.

Then there is the random thought thrown in to keep everything in balance...

It must have really been miserable for her all those years while driving down the freeway and my dad would have a little phlegm problem.  Down the window would roll, dad would quickly hock a loogie, the window would roll back up, and life would continue on as normal. I think though that the three of us in back were more in awe that the car never needed to be washed after those episodes.

But even with all those family memories - I don't think any of were surprised to see #2 on this page...

He actually is.  It's scary that you can actually see the wheels in his head start to turn when presented with a problem or outrageous contraption that possibly needs to be invented.

Some "random thoughts" should be taken as outright warnings...

This one is so completely true.  We knew growing up to NEVER go to mom if we were bleeding.  Ever.  Paper cuts included.  Also, do not see her if you are going to be throwing up.  She'll ask how you are from the other side of the door, but don't expect her to hold your hand through the ordeal.  Barf and blood?  Go find dad.

(It will be much like the stories my kids relate of  me running into the other room while they are brushing their teeth and simultaneously spitting or talking or looking anywhere but at the mirror.  Makes me queasy thinking of it all...)

There are some other gems in there.  I wish I could post the whole book.  It's a fun addition to our shelves and I can't wait for the next installment.  *wink, wink*