Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Happy 12th!

At the end of December we celebrated Jake's 12th birthday - last year before we have all teens!

He requested Caribou for his birthday breakfast.  I made him get up so he could go with me to get the free drink for his birthday.

Over our breakfast he opened his present from Mike, Maddie and me.

He was excited to get a new Viking's jersey.  His other one was barely readable.  Plus, this new one (while a far better quality) also has the name of his favorite Viking's player: Patterson #84.

Other than this stellar breakfast, Jake didn't do much for his birthday.  He hadn't been feeling great, so the entire day was spent laying in front of the t.v. watching his favorite show, "Top Gear".  As it turns out, two days later we found out he had strep throat.  Mike and I attended a wedding that I also played for, and we left early to bring home some Dairy Queen for a final celebration of the day.

A week or so later we were able to celebrate with the MN family at my parents' house after they had all the grandkids for a sleepover.  Poor Austin had missed the sleepover part because he was sick, but had gotten better by the next day - whew!

More Dairy Queen!  Our kids LOVE DQ cakes...blech.  He chose Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough this year, I believe.  He had wanted a Butterfinger, but they were out.

Hopefully he had some fun turning 12 and has a great year.  He deserves it!

On a completely unrelated note (other than it has to do with Jake...) he recently had to get a new pair of shoes.  This kid loves all things extremely bright and when I saw this pair on the shelf...I knew to prepare myself for what would soon be glowing in our mudroom:

Shopping was so much easier when they didn't have an opinion...

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Recuperation Time

A couple weeks ago we went sledding with my sister's family.  Maddie and Riley decided to go down a hill together.  Near the bottom they hit a bump that Maddie said was much bigger at the bottom than it looked from the top.  Riley went flying off the innertube and Mike and I saw Maddie stay on, but hit her head pretty hard on the packed snow.  Both girls seemed to be okay though afterward.

Monday morning Maddie texted us from school that she didn't feel very good.  She said she just felt weird walking around and a little nauseous.  The nurse suggested we call the doctor and after a last-minute appointment and several short tests, the doctor confirmed that Maddie had a minor concussion.

She told Maddie that to get better she needed to give her brain a complete rest.  No doing anything -especially anything involving technology.  She offered that Maddie could color or look at birds out the window.  She couldn't attend school or basically do anything that made her brain process anything.  She could listen to books (but not read them...) only if they weren't something she would have to really concentrate on to keep up with.  We set a schedule that she could return three days later for a checkup to see if things had improved.  Maddie was a little worried about missing so much school because finals were coming up the following week.  The doctor told her that the fastest way to recover was to do exactly as she was told: do nothing.

She went home and went to bed for several hours.  After dinner than night we all headed to Target to get her some coloring books.  Knowing she was supposed to keep things on a low level Jake offered her a "Dora" coloring book.

Over the next couple days Maddie kept quite a low profile.  She slept quite a bit, and colored some.  We had gotten some audio books from the library but she didn't listen to them.

Wednesday she woke up saying her throat still really hurt and she sounded funny.  Another doctor visit and we found out she had strep on top of all that.

To sidetrack some boredom issues as well as some back pain remaining from the sledding, I suggested a "bubble bath" in our whirlpool tub.  I got the water going and left her.  She came down about 15 minutes later requesting my help in an urgent voice.  I ran upstairs to find that she had thought I meant to add soap to the water to make a bubble bath.  When she had turned on the jets, it produced a completely FULL tub of bubbles.  Literally...she had already emptied out the water by the time I got up there and the bubbles were a good six inches above the edge of the tub.

So, while she didn't get any reprieve in muscle soreness or relaxation - the bubbles kept her occupied for about 15 minutes.

She was able to return to a half-day of school the following Thursday and a full day on Friday.  Today she asked to go ice-skating outside and Mike said he was half tempted to make her wear a helmet.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

When It's Chilly...

As I sit here listening to the 23mph wind howling and see the snow blowing and recuperate from the trip to Sam's Club in all this, I am reminded to a time only a couple weeks ago when we had even chillier temperatures.

Way back at the beginning of January we were gifted with an EXTRA day off from school due to anticipated freezing temperatures.  I believe the actual temperature was -21 when I woke up that morning.  I don't know what it was including wind chills.  This was our 18th day of vacation.  I knew that my sister had been looking forward to children returning to school (since day #3) and so was probably wanting to crawl into a fetal position by that point.  I also knew that for the most part, my kids and I had been sitting around watching WAY too much t.v. and needed to get off our hineys.  I called her up and proposed outdoor science experiments.  She was all too game!

First up was blowing bubbles.  Tracy and I had both seen pictures online of how regular soap bubbles shattered in such cold weather.  If they didn't break, they just looked like glass balls that you could actually hold.  Unfortunately, it was FAR too cold for this.  The bubble stuff just kept freezing before Tracy could get anything blown through the holder.

While the kids were bundled, faces were exposed and, as you can see above, so were Tracy's hands.  The kids were constantly reminding her that frostbite could occur within three minutes of being outside so we needed to hurry up.

Most of the kids were okay with little respites inside if needed.  Ellie was NOT a cold weather fan that day.  After about 5 minutes she decided enough was enough and headed inside (evidenced below...)

The second experiment was to see how fast an egg would freeze on a metal pan.  You've heard of frying an egg on a hot sidewalk?  I wanted to see how fast it would freeze to a pan that was sitting outside.

It looks like a sunny-side up egg, right?  It's not cooked at all.  In fact, that whiteness happened in about 5 seconds.  And it was sure frozen...

Of course we saved the best for last....the boiling water trick.  I boiled water in a couple mugs and Tracy threw the water into the air.

Instantaneously we had puffs of...smoke?  vapor?  mist?  snow???  We have no idea...but it never fails to be fascinating - no matter how old you are!

After this, everyone was done.  I bet we weren't outside more than 10-15 minutes.  Everyone headed inside where we boiled up some hot chocolate and there was a little game of "Spot It" played.  The girls and the boys split up to play in separate areas and Tracy and I enjoyed a little peacefulness.

Until the next day when we had school off for the 19th day....

Friday, January 17, 2014

Smith Christmas

We spent most of Christmas day at my parents' house.  We arrived a bit later than everyone else so everyone was ready to open gifts right away!

First up are always the stockings...this year mom had a special surprise up her sleeve.  She had made all new stockings for everyone! They are super cute.  She realized that there are a LOT of "A's" in our family and she had to buy, I think, five or six packs of letters to get enough of that vowel.  In an unrelated note, if anyone needs a "Q" or "X" for a monogram, I know the perfect person to ask.

Before we officially began the festivities, Austin read us a letter that he had written to our family.  It was very neat and he did not only a great job writing it, but reading it out loud too!  What a kid!

This was the first year that we were able to celebrate Christmas in my parents' finished basement!  They have a ton of space and no one was crowded!

Later in the day Austin and Jake put these headlamps to good use playing outside in the snow!

After stockings we moved upstairs to open the non-Santa gifts.

Rob was was sporting a massive black eye at this point (I think the result of an accidental head-butt from one of his kids...).  I told my sister there was a super cute photo of them...except Rob looked like he was wearing more makeup than her.  Maybe she has some mad Photoshop skills that can fix it!

I just love seeing everyone's reactions to gifts.  The kids are super excited, but even the adults have a great time with things!  But I especially love that no kid walks away sad or jealous; each of them gets truly excited watching one of their cousins open a gift.  I think that's neat.

Katelyn's gift from grandma and grandpa was too big to wrap.  She opened a box that told her to shut her eyes...

Grandpa rolled out a new bike!

Maddie and Jake each received a Nook.  When Mike and I suggested it, we were pretty sure that they just didn't know they would really like one.  I think they've gone over well.  I know Maddie has already read a full book on hers and is excited to get the free Nook books each Friday!

Mom's always excited no matter what you get her.  Gifts are fun!

Dad usually ends up with a posse of "helpers" to open his gifts...

Addison received an Elmo that was about as big as her.  It's mouth moves when it talks and it talks when you hug it.  Later she gave him a hug and Elmo's mouth was moving against her neck.  Someone asked her what he was doing and she said, "Elmo's eating me!"

Mom has mentioned a few times how she really liked the sign I made for our basement.  When I called Tracy to tell her what I was getting mom she said, "Well that's good....she was dropping some pretty strong hints to you the other day."

After opening gifts it was a day of food and fun (and more food)!  Mom and dad have quite a set-up in their basement.  The week before they had purchased a dart board, air hockey table, a Foosball table, and dad had convinced mom that they could also fit in a ping-pong table because it could fold up and be easily stored in their back room.

Mike joked to dad that I would be the first person to put a hole in their wall with the darts.  His prediction was fact, I think I put in the first three holes.  After the second one, Ellie came up to me and said, "Aunt Kerry...I'm going to tell grandma that you put holes in her wall!"  Then I had a brilliant idea and I told her, "Absolutely, Ellie!  You fact, go tell her right now!"  Ellie did.  I'm not dumb...that kind of news is way easier to digest from a cute grandchild than your own 40 year old daughter!!

All the kids played outside or in the basement and the adults could visit or play games or eat.  It's always a very fun day and this year was no different!

We did take our silly picture; but first I would like to point out something I have noticed the last few years.

Here is 2011's silly picture.  Please notice Rob's outlandish pose.

This is our second silly picture: 2012.  Again...Rob outdid himself.

In 2013 Rob went above and beyond with the shiner on his eye.

Actually, Mike's not far behind him in the "I don't do silly pictures" posing.  However, Mike broke down at least one year earlier than Rob.  I'm convinced the "silliness" floodgates will crack wide open for Rob in 2014.  If not...well, we may have to enlist more than one of his kids to head-butt him again to at least make him look a little sillier.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

End of 2013

I'll probably break Christmas into a couple last posts.  Gotta keep everyone coming back for more!

We started off Christmas week at church.  Maddie and I participated in the Choir Cantata.  I, of course, accompanied and she sang in the choir.  She had a solo and did such a beautiful job!  Mike told her it almost made him start to cry!

We were at church again Christmas Eve.

Christmas Day we head back to church, but always get up a little early to open stockings.

Then it's back home for lots of fun opening our gifts!


Jake got a little overzealous with the gift wrapping this year - at least the decorating part.  He admitted he wasn't the best at actual wrapping (as evidenced below).  But his love of bows makes up for it.  Maddie and I picked up extra bows at Target the day after Christmas because for some reason we seem to have run extremely low on our supply.

Maddie thought the Three Kings needed some sprucing up...

Being that she sits on the floor when opening gifts, Maddie almost always has a "helper"...

I don't know if Mike will ever get bored of getting beer kits for gifts, but he always seems to add a new one to his lists each year.

This gift was a shot in the dark.  It wasn't on her list, but she loved Jake's super-soft blanket from last year.  She was pretty excited to get her own version!

I was pretty excited too.  Mike gave me the jean jacket that I have been wanting for at least six months!

We had a really nice morning together.  I think we were all very happy with our gifts - there weren't any returns, which might have been a first!