"Anyone can have one kid. But going from one kid to two is like going from owning a dog to running a zoo." - P. J. O'Rourke

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Another First

Tonight when I was going to pray with Marcus before bed, before I could say anything, he said "Dear God, thank you that you love us. Amen." It was so sweet. His very first prayer! He is also starting to sing along, heartily, when we sing during our family devotion time. He doesn't always get the words right, but he is VERY excited about singing! He is a precious boy!

Oh, To Be a Dog

While I pick dead leaves out of the ferns and shovel rock (don't ask), this is what my dog is doing.
As you can see, wing may be giving way to spring. We won't know for certain though for a week or more as snow could be just around the corner!

Monday, April 28, 2008

LOST


Yes, our dear sweet bunny has flown the coop (or hopped the hutch)! We came home from the cabin yesterday and all was fine in bunny-land. I fed her and pet her and a few minutes later, someone looked out the window and noticed her cage door was open and Sweetie was GONE. (No I did not leave the door open, as I fed her by lifting up the top of the hutch.) I am still hoping she hops on back home, but I am not holding out a lot of hope. She is probably hopping around saying, "Free at last, free at last, praise God almighty, I'm free at last."

Before you shed any tears for our loss, it should be noted that Sweetie had a really annoying habit of spraying people if she was startled (which was just about any time people went near her cage). So, although we would never wish any ill will on our dear Sweetie, no one has shed a tear over her disappearance. Nina is already dreaming about a replacement pet (guinea pig or rabbit).

Sprinter or Wing??

So, I'm inventing a new season just for Minnesota.  It's that strange time when it says spring on the calendar, but out my window it says winter.  Shall I call it Sprinter or Wing?  I think I'll go with Sprinter because winter is leaving (we hope) and spring is arriving (someday).  Okay, now that we got that settled...

We went to the cabin this past weekend to put the dock in, rake and do other things to get the cabin ready for a summer of fun.  We knew it was going to be a chilly weekend, but we certainly didn't expect this!
We woke up Saturday to a blustery, snowy day, but did we give up and go home? NO! We are Minnesotans after all.

Notice, I am not in any of these pictures. That is because I am sane and stayed inside to wash windows and take care of Zoe (how convenient).

Despite the cold, Raelea was able to use her beloved outhouse numerous times. If you don't know about Raelea and outhouses click here. All and all, it was a nice sprinter weekend at the cabin.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Heigh Ho, Heigh Ho Off to the Cabin We Go

Well, this weekend is the official, "Let's go open the cabin" weekend and, par for the course, the weather is predicted to be lousy.  My kids asked today, "How come it's always rainy and cold when we put the dock in?"  But, all is not lost, rain just means more time to eat carmel corn and play Scrabble!

Have a great weekend!

Why No Pictures

Argh, I haven't posted a picture since Monday! I know some of you only come out here to see pictures. Sorry, I have been woefully negligent in that arena. Okay, let me upload my pictures from my camera. Maybe my kids have taken a picture of something interesting. 

Oh, here are some interesting ones...



















Raelea REALLY enjoyed her rice krispie bar with chocolate on the top!  Nina made them on Monday and "accidently" made a double batch.  She can explain that to you....

















Oh, and here is Molly and Emily launching their beanie babies in the air (you might have to click on the picture to enlarge it to see the flying critters).  At least they are doing it in the backyard where there are not many trees to get the little guys stuck in.  Do you know how hard it is to get a beanie baby out of a tree 16 feet up?


Oh, and how can we tell these pictures were taken on Monday???  Well, nobody is wet or wearing a coat!  Unlike the rest of the week here, Monday was beautiful.

Why No Post Yesterday

Thursdays, Thursdays, ugh! Actually, only the 2nd and 4th Thursdays are ugh. It's not that anything BAD happens on the 2nd and 4th Thursdays. It's just that the days are busy - too busy - even too busy to blog (gasp). We start our Thursdays at 7:15 (actually I start mine at 5:30 just like every other day, but the kids start theirs at 7:15) when I roust them out of their peaceful slumber. This is especially difficult as they are up late on Wednesday night because of church. We eat breakfast and get dressed and the three little ones need to be in the van by 8:30 to take Raelea to speech class. We come home, do any hair that hasn't been taken care of yet and start school. At 9:30 Zoe & Marcus are back in the van to go get Raelea from class and then it's back home to do more school.

Lunch is served promptly at 11:00 (way too early for us as we usually eat closer to 1:00) and we are out the door at 11:35 to drive Evan to his co-op (where he is learning to Habla espanol) and then the rest of us are on to our co-op. At co-op I hang out with Zoe & Marcus for a couple hours and then I teach science to first and second graders (which I LOVE to to do, btw, but it is a little more challenging with Zoe on my back and Marcus at my side). Yesterday at co-op we learned about the circulatory and respiratory systems. If you want an idea for making a "model" of blood, let me know. It's always a hit with the kids and I think it really helps them remember what we have learned.

Anyway, back to the day, co-op ends at 3:30 and we need to round everyone up and be down to pick up Evan by 4:15 (he spends his time after his co-op hanging out with friends and then having a muffin and pop (soda for you people in MO and you WI natives) at Byerly's. So, we get him picked up and then it's home to make dinner which proves to be a little difficult with three little ones who have missed their naps because of co-op. After dinner, it's family devotion time and then last night I had to go grocery shopping, as we are going to be out of town this weekend ( I normally go on Sat. morning - early).

Now, as you can see nothing horrible happens on Thursday, but it does leave me ready for bed at a normal time (which is highly unusual for me). And now, I am glad to say that it is no longer Thursday and Friday is one of my favorite days of the week!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Another First Sentence

Well, this time I can report that Marcus has completed his first English sentence.

"Mom, watch me throw it!"

Referring to a washcloth which he likes to throw into the sink from his chair at the island. A fine sentence and a fine throw, too, I might add!

Raelea is erupting in sentences these days, so I can't report them all. One of her favorites is, "I like green apple gum!!!" She is too darn cute!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Another Rite of Spring

Today, during room time, I washed and oiled my kitchen cupboards - all 60 doors and drawers. I only do this twice a year, spring cleaning and fall cleaning. I know some of you do this on a much more frequent schedule, but with 60 doors (and numerous flat surfaces) twice a year is about all I can handle. Maybe I'll get the kids doing it by fall. Lest you who haven't been to our house, think we live in a mansion, I will note that our kitchen takes up 10% of our total square footage. Big kitchens are great, as that is where everyone gathers. I mean a big bathroom would be nice, but how many times do you hang out at a dinner party in the bathroom?

Anyway, back to my beautifully cleaned and oiled cupboards. I would take a picture of them to post, but that would require letting you all see my countertops, which have not made it to the pick-a-pile post yet. This was too scary of a thought for me, so no picture today. I did use the mindless time of washing cupboards to 1)figure out the square footage of my kitchen, 2) Count the number of doors I was doing 3) Pray for my friend, Dawn, who has been waiting over a year for a referral for siblings from Ethiopia 4) Thank God that I was wiping spilled milk and fingerprints off my cupboards because in a few years it will only be dust I am wiping off.

Well, the tribe is crawling out of room time, so I must go. BTW, for those of you that aren't familiar with room time, here's the scoop. When you are little it's called nap time and when you grow up it is called room time. It is the time of day when everyone goes to their room and relaxes; doing something quiet and alone (usually). Mom uses this time to do exciting things like washing kitchen cupboards and blogging, as well as enjoying a cup of tea in utter quiet :) I highly recommend room time for anyone with more than a few kids. It does wonders for everyone involved!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Life's Little Pleasures

Wagon Rides

Here we have the three little ones in their pre-bedtime wagon ride. The girls are already in their Gramma Jammies (yes,we occasionally let our kids out of the house in their pajamas - they're so darn cute that way!) They are looking at Chris because he's way more entertaining than I am!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

A Beautiful Day

We had the most wonderful spring day! We went to church this morning, raked the yard after lunch, then got Slushies at Target and went geocaching (and found both of the caches we were looking for). I even made homemade pizza for dinner and then Chris and I stood in front of the house trying to figure out how to make our house more attractive (not an easy task, but one we ponder on a regular basis). We stand in the driveway or on the sidewalk and ponder the difficulty of working with a split-level home. Our neighbors tell us the previous owners often spent time standing on the sidewalk, staring at the house. I bet they were trying to figure out the same thing. Anyway, I digress. It was a most wonderful day which ended with a little basketball in the driveway and a wagon ride for Raelea and Marcus. I will post pictures tomorrow, but it's bedtime now.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Eleven Year Old Daughters

There are many wonderful things about 11 year old daughters, but today the most wonderful thing about ours was that she made this scrumptious dessert called, get this, Chocolate Rhapsody. It tastes even better than the name! Here's what it is, a layer of cake, a layer of chocolate filling, a layer of raspberry mousse, another layer of chocolate and a layer of whipped cream. Awesome! Way to go, Nina! The recipe came from the Nestle's cookbook, which I highly recommend. Nina has decided to make every recipe in it (didn't I tell you 11 year old daughters are great).

Father/Daughter Tea

Today was a very special day for Miss Molly as you she got to go to the annual Father/Daughter Tea at church. It is an elaborate affair with tasty food, singers, entertainment and generally being treated like a princess (which she is). Last year was Nina's turn to go, so Molly has been waiting a whole year for her turn. They had a wonderful time and they made a very handsome couple. Btw, the rose on the after Pick-a-Pile picture is Molly's. Her father bought it for her at the tea.

Pick-A-Pile

Considering today's quote, I'm not sure I should clean up this pile :) I actually took pictures of two separate piles - one hard to clean up and one easy. Hmmm, which one should I post.....I think I'll go with the easy one. Don't worry, the hard one will show up on a different pick-a-pile day. Here it is; the easy one, that is....
Don't you think the rose is a nice touch??

When I Grow Up


Raelea informed me today that she wants to "drive a dump truck" when she grows up. Not just any dump truck though, it must be green. She wants to drive a green dump truck!

Friday, April 18, 2008

So Who Does He Look Like?



This one's for you, Amy.

The question of the day is, who does Evan look more like, Chris or me? This is so embarrassing. I can't believe I just posted a picture of myself in my teddy bear bathrobe! For those of you that are snickering right now - it was a gift from someone in my family (I can't remember who). And about Evan's picture, he really doesn't have a rubber tree growing out of his head - in case you were wondering.

Anyway, please cast your vote, who does he look like? He has more hair than either of us (way more than some of us, Chris).

Another Velcro Moment


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Spring Has Sprung

Finally, spring has officially arrived at our house. How do I know that??
1) All the boots, hats, mittens, snow pants and winter coats are now washed and tucked into five Rubbermaid bins in our storage room.

2) I spent about three hours yesterday and today getting out spring clothes for all of the kids. Of course,there's no room for said clothes in any of their closets, so we're not done with that fiasco yet. And to think I used to love the changing of the clothes each season. That was about five kids ago...

3) Chris can no longer fit the truck in the garage because there are now seven bikes and various other riding toys covering about every square inch of the garage floor.

4) The hammock, baby swing, front bench and (soon-to-be) clothes line are all out of winter storage.

5) The kids say things like, "If it gets to 70 today can we have the day off school?" the answer, by the way, is no.

6) I can get out the door with all eight kids in about three minutes now instead of the 10 minutes it takes in the winter to get on all the coats, mittens, etc. I REALLY like this part about spring/summer!!!!

7) My thermometer says 70 degrees!!

So, with that I am going outside to see what's coming up in my gardens.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

I Don't Recommend...

Taking five kids to the police station with you when you get fingerprinted! Not that it was horrific or anything like that, there's just not a lot for them to do there. I don't think I've mentioned this, but Marcus doesn't understand the idea of waiting for something. He had no idea why we had to sit in the waiting room for 20 minutes or why did it take the fine officer 30 minutes to get Mommy's prints done (although he did find that rather fascinating and kept asking me if it hurt).

Now, here's the question that continually plays out in my mind. This is our fourth adoption. Each time we have been fingerprinted (sometimes at this very same police station). We were even fingerprinted at USCIS. So why, please someone tell me, do I have to keep going in to get this done. Don't they save these prints in some data base forever????? Do they think my prints have somehow changed since last spring? And how many background checks must a person go through before they realize that I have eight kids so therefore I have NO TIME to commit any crimes????

Sorry, just a few thoughts that played out in my brain while I was walking Zoe's stroller around in circles in the police station waiting room. BTW, we have very friendly public servants here and everyone that helped us was very nice (was that proper grammar? Where is my Strunk & White when I need it?)

Gotta go check on the dabo in the oven

Monday, April 14, 2008

Monday

There's something you should know about Monday - it's the only day of the week that I have nothing going on (except school of course) - no therapy or classes for Raelea, no bagpipe lessons for Evan, no church, nothing (except school of course).  Mondays tend to come with a bit of free time, not usually found on our weekdays.  Today, the kids used their free time to  build forts. This is the girls' fort.






































This is the boys' fort (with a stray girl sneaking in).





One word of warning, you should not let a bored eight year old girl borrow your camera. If you don't heed this warning, you, too, will end up with photos like this...


Did I mention that we have a little bit (to much) free time on Mondays?

Grandma & Grandpa

On Saturday we we blessed with a visit from my parents.  Not only did they come to visit, they brought COOKIES!  You gotta love it when Grandma & Grandpa come over!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Pick-A-Pile

It's Friday, so it's time for pick-a-pile!  The reason they are always on Fridays is because Saturday is chore day around here.  This week's pick-a-pile is the piano and I have to say that most of the stuff on there does NOT belong to me!  Anyway, here it is.
Okay, we finished off that pile in no time!  That was too easy.  Maybe next time I'll tackle the kitchen counters...

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Velcro

I'm thinking of changing my name to Velcro.  What do you think?  Why, you might ask...well, it seems like I always have someone stuck to me - my lap, my leg, my arm, my back - most of the day children are stuck to one or more of my appendages.  Just when I peel one off to, say, put dinner in the oven, another one comes dashing in to attach him or her self to me.  It really is quite amazing!
Maybe I'm more like a fleece jacket that pulls in all lint within a 10 foot radius.  When you try to get the lint off it just reattaches itself to another part of you.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Dabo Snack


One of the favorite events around our house is dabo snack (formerly known as bread snack - until we added a couple Ethiopians.  Dabo is their word for bread).  About once a week I bake bread for the family and when it comes out of the oven, piping hot, we all sit down and eat a couple of slices.  As a special treat, I always make one loaf cinnamon swirl.  Now you need to know that the whole motive behind this post is so I can show off my lovely loaves of dabo.  How vain, you may say, but remember, I have also shown the world my GIANT piles of dirty laundry and the piles of junk that WERE on my bedroom dressers.  I think it's time for some self-promotion for a change :)

Monday, April 7, 2008

The Laundry Cycle

I've been thinking lately about how laundry around here is like the water cycle. Just a quick refresher for my husband and others, the water cycle is the term used for water evaporating from lakes forming clouds, condensing, and coming back down as rain to fill up the lakes again (there's your elementary science lesson for the day - last post it was grammar, now it's science!).


Anyway, back to the laundry. Here's how it goes. On Friday evening, my laundry basket looked like this Not too much there, since Friday was laundry day. Shall
 we say, most of the laundry has 'evaporated?'



Okay, so then a strange thing happens 
on the way to Saturday morning, because in the morning, after chores, the basket looks like this.   A regular 'downpour' of laundry has occurred!  Sheets and clothes 'pouring' out of every room of the house.


















By Saturday evening some 'evaporation' has again occurred, but not nearly enough because by Monday morning the deluge has really hit (no 'evaporation' occurs on Sunday at this house).  Now it is  probably hard to imagine how so much laundry could evaporate in one day, but Monday is a good day for evaporation around here.  










By dinner time Monday, almost all the laundry has again 'evaporated' as you can see. 




Now you might ask, what happens to the laundry after it 'evaporates'?  Well, here you see the laundry 'condensing' in the kid's bins, on the
 clothes line or the elliptical machine (I knew I spent $800 for something important).

 




























By betime, (almost) all of the laundry has 'condensed' and joined with the other 'droplets' of laundry in the 'clouds' known as dressers and closets, waiting to rain down upon the laundry room again.  The End.  I wish, but it never ends, it just keeps happening over and over and over.....

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Language

As you might imagine, with ten people living here, there usually is a lot of talking going on. In the midst of it all, we rejoice in new developments on that front from Marcus, Zoe and Raelea. For those of you who don't know, Raelea has a speech impairment called apraxia of speech. That means that, although she forms thoughts and ideas as any other three year old would, she is severely limited in her ability to express those thoughts verbally. You can click on the above link to learn more. One year ago, Raelea could only say about three words clearly and she was only able to make about ten sounds total. Now she can say many, many words and most sounds, with the notable exceptions of t,d,and s (at the beginning of a word).

Yesterday, I had the joy of hearing her first clear sentence, compete with noun, verb and predicate adjective (you can tell I teach grammar). She certainly has come close to sentences before, but she often omits the subject because each word for her requires a lot of work. So, the sweetest words I heard yesterday were...."Yes, it is green!" (referring to a candle) She is such a hard worker and never gets frustrated when people don't understand her, but she is very happy when people understand what she is saying.

Marcus is learning new words daily and he is using his English more and more frequently and, sadly, using his Amharic less. It makes me kind of sad to think that in a few months, he won't remember any of his Amharic. As I write, he is in his room calling, "Mom, mom..." Okay, I'm back now. He needed a kleenex :)(Yes, Raelea and Marcus are sitting on a basket of dirty laundry, for those of you that are interested. There will be a laundry post coming in a day or so.)

Zo Zo, the goofy little girl she is, is also trying out new English words (mostly just mimicking) and she understands more and more each day.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Pick-A-Pile

It's time to play pick a pile again! This time we will address my dresser :( Now, before you gasp in amazement, you should understand that my dresser is up high (by kid standards) so if something needs to be kept out of their reach it is often deposited there. Okay, here it is....



Taa Daa! One more pile vanquished! FYI, the tin on the dresser with the sand in it was a wonderfully sweet present from Molly. Last year, when we went to Gulf Shores, AL, I was sick for most of the week we were there and wasn't able to enjoy the beach at all, so my dear children brought home some of the sand and put it in this tin for me so I could enjoy the beach at home. Wasn't that so sweet!

On a totally different note, we watch the movie Luther tonight and it was great. I highly recommend it.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Are We Done Yet?

With winter, that is. It's not just that I am TIRED of snow and cold. What is really driving the question is I want to know if I can put away our winter clothes, especially the boots. Ten pairs of boots take up a LOT of room in my foyer closet. Because of this, shoes tumble pellmell out onto the foyer floor (consider there are at least 20 pairs of shoes in that closet as well). So, my question is, can I put away the boots yet?? Oh, what bliss to have all the shoes IN the closet!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Stranded!

Okay, so I'm not quite stranded, but then again, I am. Our van is in the shop getting new hinges on the doors, so I have been without a vehicle for two days. Since our family doesn't fit in anything besides a very large van, we can't go anywhere and, you know what, I kind of like it! How nice is it to not go ANYWHERE all day! Not that I go anyplace interesting usually, but we do usually have our daily trip out to Raelea's therapy or speech class. It has been so nice not to have to rush through breakfast and morning chores to get out the door by 8:30 with Raelea, Zoe & Marcus to drive the eight minutes to speech, drop Raelea off, go home, start school, and get back in the car at 9:30 to pick her up again. We do what we have to do, but boy, is it nice not to do it for a few days :)

Gotta go, the tribe is coming in from outside and I need to get them all settled into room time.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

God's April Fool's

My calendar says spring, but my backyard and thermometer say winter! What's up with that?And let's talk about Groundhog's Day for a minute...Let's see, that's Feb. 2, right? Mr. Groundhog predicted the six more weeks of this winter thing this year, right? Well, I have a message for Mr. Groundhog, "It's been 8 1/2 weeks now, so are we done yet?"