Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Project Life - Week 17

The past two weeks Mike has been traveling.  The first week he spent in India.  Last week he was in Spain for business meetings.  I don't generally announce to the World Wide Web when my husband is out of town, so last week's Project Life was a sort-of lie.  The new revised pages (including one new pic, and some different journaling) can be found here.

Anyway, he's home now and I hope to post some pictures of his trips.  Last week the kids and I were very busy and filled the pages with pictures!  I like those weeks a lot!

Friday, April 26, 2013

National Jr. Honor Society

This past Monday Maddie was inducted into the chapter of the National Junior Honor Society.  She previously filled out a list of her accomplishments in school, extra-curricular activities as well as community.

It was a nice little ceremony.  The kids were called up one by one to receive their certificates...

Everyone signed a small book for the occasion...

Then they lit a little candle and stood in an ever-growing group of kids until all students had been recognized.

Maddie's got a couple close friends that were also there that night.

Maddie's a very hard worker and this is a well-deserved accolade for that effort!  We are super proud of her!

Monday also happened to be my dad's birthday.  There was cake and punch afterwards, but before we could head there, he leaned over and said, "It's MY birthday and I get to choose where we celebrate..."

I knew where he was going with this and told him I had anticipated a Dairy Queen treat afterward.  Though I did tell him that they had made a cake specifically for the occasion.  He said, "It isn't my cake and I don't want it."

So, the old man got his way and the youngin' got to celebrate a nice honor.  I'm glad they let us join them.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Project Life - Week 16

Lots of pictures this week which is both fun and sometimes frustrating.  I feel bad leaving some off because I feel like they tell the story of our weeks.  But at the same time, I don't want to cram on a million pictures and make the page difficult to read.  This week I think I left off 3-4 pictures I would have happily used!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Spring Break Day #2+

Finishing off our Spring Break "trip"....

The following day we headed back to St. Paul.  We had decided to see the James J. Hill House and the State Capitol.  

First up was the Hill House (making use of the Historical Society Pass from the day before!).  I didn't take any pictures here, but it was very interesting and beautiful.  We were all impressed with some of the "advanced technology" and amenities this house had for its time.  

After that we headed for lunch at the Longfellow Grill.  It was a fun little place.  As we were placing our order the waitress went around the table asking what everyone wanted.  When she got to Mike she said, "And what about you, pops?"  I guess approaching 40 is going to be a shocker to Mike.

We headed to the State Capitol.  It was a gorgeous day and we headed inside without jackets.  It was still quite breezy but we were just so happy to see sun and melting snow we braved it out.

We were the only ones in our tour group and that was nice.  The tour guide claimed the Minnesota State Capitol was one of the five prettiest capitols in the country - though he couldn't name the other four (I asked).  After an exhaustive Internet search, I couldn't find the list either.  I guess we'll have to trust him.

Believe it or not, those three things took us ALL DAY.  The kids looked like this on the way home:

You might never be too old for a nap in the car, but you definitely reach an age and size where you are too big to be carried into the house afterward.

The rest of the week was partly low key.  We did head to the Mall of America under the ruse of hanging out and going on some rides.  In reality I had something to return and just didn't want to go alone.  

We did walk around Nickelodeon.  I think those rides look awful, personally so I was happy to hear no one was interesting in riding anything.  The kids wanted to head through the Mirror Maze and Mike and I offered that we could do that or they could get Dippin' Dots instead.  They chose Dippin' Dots.  Whew.

We did have a pajama day in there somewhere and on our last day of vacation (the following Monday) we headed to breakfast at the Windmill Cafe.  It's a little cement box in Savage that I've always been curious about so we decided to give it a try.

It's actually kind of quaint inside.  The lady that owns it was very nice and the food was a good breakfast.  Everyone definitely wants to head back someday.

And that's it for our spring break.  Honestly - the last couple years we've stayed fairly local over spring breaks.  While I wouldn't turn down a trip to the beach over any spring break, I think we've done pretty okay with our local "stay-cations".  We'll have to see what next year brings!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Project Life - Week 15

Not as many pictures as I thought.  A lot of snow pictures.

This winter weather thing is getting old.  However, I was listening to the radio and they decided it was only justified to play more appropriate music so everyone would be more accepting of the white stuff.  They proceeded to play tunes from the Vince Guaraldi Charlie Brown Christmas music during every break....I giggled, but honestly?  It kind of worked.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Spring Break 2013

At the end of March the kids had spring break.  I had the week off from teaching and Mike took the week off from work.  We just all needed some "down time" and that week provided it!

We did want to do something interesting though (despite our kids thinking it was going to be "pajama day" each day...).  We decided on spending some time in St. Paul.

In looking up some things to do or see, Mike came across a little Ice Cream shop by St. Thomas that he thought we should try on our first day: Izzy's Ice Cream.

I think we arrived around 10:30am - and we weren't even the first ones!

They make their own ice cream and have some interesting flavors.  On each cone or sundae you can get an "Izzy Scoop" of any flavor.  An Izzy Scoop is basically a tiny scoop.  It's really just marketing genius:


I will be honest and say - none of us were too impressed.  I didn't think my Mint Chocolate Chip tasted any different than Kemps.  Not that Kemps is bad - we eat it all the time - but nothing made us sit up taller and appreciate the ice cream greatness it could have been.

Afterwards we drove to Minnehaha Falls.  We've been intending to see this each summer, but it's usually not flowing whenever we think about it.  I had seen it in the winter as a kid and I think I prefer it in the winter.  We spent 75 cents on parking and headed out on our walk.

We enjoyed the view from above and Jake thought it would be fun to play for the camera.  Between the massive puddles we dodged and the still thin coating of ice on the ground, slipping was a distinct possibility.

I still think it's more impressive in the winter - and so so pretty.  Plus, you can get a lot closer than in spring and summer when the water is flowing!

The kids saw some people climbing out from behind the falls and thought that looked like an awesome idea.  Mike just looked at me and I shrugged a "sure...why not..."  Then we got to the top of the stairs to climb over the railing and this huge family was walking by looking at my family and I got all nervous.  My family took off over the railing and I stood there afraid I was going to get caught.  (Guilt complex - still in check, mom and dad.)

Jake came back to get me and we took off down this tiny trail forged by many law-ignoring families.  It was extra muddy, and extra slippery.  Jake offered to hold my camera and while that was sweet I told him there was absolutely no way that was going to happen.  We finally made it behind the frozen falls.

We walked all the way around the back of the falls.  The ice was such pretty colors - blues, whites, silvers and pale yellows.

Walking back to the car, Mike said it was the best 75 cents he'd ever spent!

We stopped for lunch at Digidio's Italian Restaurant, which Maddie found for us.  It was good - but Jake and I ordered some SPICY food.  We don't really do spicy in this family too much but we managed our way through some massively huge sandwiches.

Afterward we had decided to head to the Minnesota History Center.  We bought a family pass intending to use it this summer.  We walked through the Minnesota Civil War Exhibit which we all found really interesting.  Then we saw an exhibit on a house in Minneapolis.  It followed the house from who built it in the mid 1800's to all the families that have lived in it since then.

We headed home after that.  We were all bushed, but talkative about what we'd seen.  Maddie said she had so much fun that she thought we should spend the next day in St. Paul.

So we did....which I'll write about in the next installment.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Project Life Week 14

A new month - a new set of digital papers and embellishments.  These come from Harper Finch, a designer I just found last week and whose stuff I LOVE!  I'm always excited to get to the end of a month and get a new color scheme going.  While it's April - it just hasn't felt like spring (as I sit here watching the snow fall...).  Pastel colors just didn't feel right.  Maybe someday...

Monday, April 8, 2013

Piano Recital 2013

Last year we weren't able to get video during the recital so we only showed boring pictures on the 'ole blog.  I heard some complaints from the peanut gallery on that one.

This year I did some research ahead of time and managed to learn how to correctly take video from my camera.  Then, five minutes before the recital started I showed Mike how it worked.  Thank goodness that guy is quick on the uptake!

In case you haven't seen my sister's blog - check out Ellie's performance.  She definitely stole the show!  She sang her pieces as she played and was quite proud of her curtsy whenever she practiced it for us.

The students played in a "new venue" this year and Mike voted it better than the other place.  He was right - the piano sounded better and I think it was a little nicer for the audience to be a bit closer to the students.

Maddie and Jake have been preparing for awhile.  One of my students asked when I fit them in for lessons.  I'm not sure if he was horrified or jealous when I told him "lessons" worked differently in our house since I was their teacher and heard them everyday.  When I know they are ready to pass on to the next piece, we take a few minutes to go over new concepts.  Sometimes this takes a week, sometimes a month.

They really don't have "formal" lessons from me.  I hear them, obviously, and a lot of days I might pop in for a minute to offer suggestions on corrections (or flat out tell them they are way off base on their notes and fingering).  Other days I yell from the other room my "suggestions".  Still, other days I am able to completely ignore them.  These are usually also the days where they are practicing at the exact same time and Mike is sitting across from me and says, "How much longer do they have?  I can't take much more!" and I look up at him with a blank face because I honestly have no idea what he's talking about; I've blocked all sound out and it doesn't phase me.

Anyway - their lessons paid off and I think they did great!

Jake played a piece called "Danza Spiccatta" by Dennis Alexander.  The video starts about two seconds into his piece.  He must have caught Mike by surprise.

Maddie played Variations on “Nel cor piu non mi sento” - Thema, Variation V, Variation VI by Beethoven.

We were super proud of everyone and celebrated with the whole gang at Dairy Queen afterwards:

They got the weekend off from practice and now it's back to work! It is so fun to listen to them play!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Project Life - Week 13

Week 13 was Spring Break.  We had SUCH a great week.  Before the end of 2013 I hope to have a separate post on it.  Needless to say - I actually had too many pictures for these layouts. 

If anything, this project is helping me to choose what pictures I truly want to tell a story about.  The "Monk" picture?  It doesn't seem like it would have anything to do with us.  However, I don't think any of us will forget the complete obsession Maddie has had with this show and the number of "Mini-Monk-Marathons" we have had.  It was a necessity for the week to just remind of us of that phase.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Boys Day/Girls Day

A couple weeks ago - cripes, it could have been a month ago by now, I've lost all track of time....

Anyway - back at the beginning of March Mike had to take a trip to Chicago.  He got back late on Friday night and we told the kids that we had planned a special "Boys/Girls Day" on Saturday.

Jake was excited to find out that he and Mike were heading to the Auto Show in Minneapolis.  Maddie was excited to find out that I had narrowed down the choices and was even giving her options of how she'd like to spend the day with me.

First up: the guys.  They headed out early to be there when it opened.  Jake had baseball that afternoon and they weren't going to be able to spend the entire day there.

I received this picture in a text early that morning.  Jake was pretty sure that I would totally love this car.  He's right; I probably wouldn't turn it down.

While the guys were looking at the mini-Cooper there was a guy whose job it was to keep it clean and handprint-free.  Jake was examining the car and said to Mike, "Hey look, Dad - there's a butterfly fin just like on the Bugati's."

Mike said the cleaning guy turned around and looked at Jake and then came over and pointed out a lot of other things about the car.  This was Mike's favorite car of the day.  It's a convertible.  Three guesses as to which kind of car we are dreaming of during retirement?

This was Jake's favorite car of the day.  Sporty, racing stripes, and a convertible.  I don't have any idea what kind it was and Jake isn't available for questioning right now.  I can tell you that at this point his favorite car is a Lamborghini.

Mike's brother owns a very old VW bug.  Jake thought they should take a picture of this car to show to Uncle Pat.

I'm noticing a pattern with all convertibles...

This was a special "Hot Wheels" Edition Camaro.  I thought this was pretty cool too.  Jake said I probably wouldn't have been too happy with most of the cars because he noticed they were automatics.  That seems wrong in a sports car, in my opinion.

I'm, personally, on an Audi kick myself.  I think they are mostly sharp looking cars and I imagine them to be very smooth running and have lots of fun buttons.  I liked the front of this one in pictures, but the back end was odd.  Jake knows I like Audis though and thought this was interesting.

There was also the classic section.  They even took a picture of the faux-wood paneled station wagon from maybe the '50s-'60s.  Very hot.  But, Jake loved the orange Corvette.

As for the girls?  Maddie decided on breakfast at Perkins followed by a morning at the Mall of America.  We went to the makeup store and had mini-makeovers and some instructions on how to apply things correctly.

Then we dined on Taco Bell followed up by Dairy Queen.  We walked around and looked/critiqued the prom dresses we saw.  Then we headed home.

Mike called us from the road and talked to Maddie.  I heard her giggling and saying, "Yeah!  That would be great - I'd love a Shamrock Shake."

That little turd...she'd left out the minor detail to Mike that less than an hour before she'd been eating a medium blizzard from DQ!

Next time we've decided to mix things up.  We are going to have a date day of son/mom and daughter/dad.  Mike agreed to it as long as he doesn't have to wear makeup.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Project Life - Week 12

Some housekeeping notes:

1.  This layout was actually finished last Friday.  It was spring break last week and I was near the computer as little as possible and it was wonderful.  I suppose I could have taken the five minutes to post this, but I was lazy.

2.  Maddie has informed me that I should really have a separate Project Life Page on this blog.  She told me that all she's been seeing recently are the Project Life updates.  I told her that was because that's all I've had time for.

3.  In reference to #2 above, there will not be a separate page for the Project Life pages.  First, I don't have a single clue how to set that up.  Second, I don't want to take the time to learn how to set it up.  Third, it would serve no purpose as I would have two pages to update and clearly I can only handle one page most weeks.

4.  Today is our last day of spring break.  Wah.  We all had last week off and it was wonderful.  I'm sure you'll see it in next week's Project Life layouts unless I manage to kick my rear and gear and actually report on our lives.

5.  There's really no #5.  But, Maddie has been making us all watch marathons of "Monk" and five just seemed like a lot nicer OCD number.