"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

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Slugs & Grubs

Someone out there asked for the recipe for Slugs & Grubs (known to most of the world as Wild Rice Soup), so here it is.

5 cups cooked wild rice
1/3 cup butter
1/4 cup minced onion
2/3 cups flour (this amount will vary depending on how much chicken stock you use-use enough flour to get it to its desired consistency)
10 2/3 - 12 cups chicken stock
2 - 3 cups celery & carrots, chopped
2 cups whipping cream
2/3 cup dry cooking sherry
minced parsley (optional)
salt & pepper to taste

Melt butter & saute onions. Blend in flour and cook until bubbly. Add chicken stock and stir constantly until slightly thickened. If it reaches a boil and it isn't thick enough, mix some more flour with small amount of cold water and add to soup until desired consistency is reached. Add carrots and celery and cook about 10-15 minutes or until carrots are tender. Add rice and chicken. When that boils add everything else and heat. You can sprinkle the soup with parsley prior to serving if you wish.

The soup is VERY nummy, but definitely not low-fat. I hope you give it a try.

Farewell to the Quetico

Well, I'm sure I could continue posting on our trip, but I am probably boring you all a bit, so I will finish today.  Here are some random pics to savor.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Cooking in the Quetico

Although our meals were simple, they were VERY satisfying to our hungry bellies.  Thanks, Mom, for planning the meals and buying the food.  Since many of you don't do the wilderness camping thing, I thought I would share some pictures of what meal prep looks like without most conveniences of home...

Yes, folks, we ate steak while camping :)

When you don't have a table to make your pbj's a canoe paddle will do.

Omelets in a bag.  Who knew you could cook omelets in a bag?  And they were really tasty, too, when they FINALLY got cooked all the way through.

What camping trip would be complete without cheesecake (really, we had cheesecake!)?
And of course, dishes must be done.  After they were washed an put in the green dunk sack they were dunked in the lake to rinse them off.  I know that grosses some of you out which is why I tell you that :)  Remember though, we were drinking that lake water as well :)  It's really quite tasty!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Do Hard Things

Did hard things...


Well, we're back from our trip to the Quetico and we all made it out alive and in fairly good condition (a few bruises and a little bit of sunburn notwithstanding). I don't think I can sum up our trip in one tidy little post, so today I will give you my favorite part of the trip and my least favorite part. In actuality, I liked it all, or maybe that's just I liked it all in retrospect...

Favorite Parts of four days in the Quetico
On day three, after a paddle to a new campsite we relaxed with a refreshing swim in the lake and then sat around and wiled away the afternoon reading and relaxing.  That evening we were blessed with the most magnificent sunset.

Least Favorite Parts of four days in the Quetico
All was going well on day one until we portaged into North Bay (our destination for the day).  We had had a lovely morning of paddling and portaging, but then the front went through and the wind picked up A LOT.  We were trying to make it to a campsite, but the wind made it quite impossible to reach our destination for those of us with Nina & Molly paddling in front (that is totally not a slam on their paddling - they are troopers and can paddle great, but they are, after all, only 10 and 11).  

We ended up being pushed by the wind into a protected alcove which was all very good and fine, except that no matter how hard we tried we could not paddle out of that little haven.  As soon as we rounded the bend the wind grabbed us and pushed us back.  We were quite stuck.  Our all adult canoe (Becky (the Navy vet/triathlete - it's good to have someone like that on these sort of trips :)) & Dottie(Becky's mother)) had made it to the campsite, but when the rest of us didn't show up they came looking for us (thanks, gals).  So, now all three canoes were sitting in the little bay wondering, "how are we going to get out of here?"  After sitting there for well over an hour and the wind not showing any signs of letting up, we came up with this plan:  Becky & Dottie would paddle to the campsite and hike back through the woods to the rest of us,  they would then help paddle our canoes to the campsite while Nina & Molly duffed it (duffing is sitting in the middle of the canoe as a passenger, not a paddler).

So, away they went.  After the second or third try, they were able to make it around the bend of the alcove and off they went to try to reach the campsite.  We sat and waited and wondered if they were successful and if we would be sleeping in the canoes that night.  Finally, they came traipsing through the woods to our rescue (our heroes!)  So, Dottie, Molly & I were in one canoe (with three packs) and Mom, Becky & Nina were in the other canoe with their packs).  Off we went.  It took several attempts to get around the bend of land, but finally we were headed in the right direction and all that was left was to paddle - that is, to paddle REALLY HARD without stopping for anything.  Inch by inch we made forward progress as the waves were breaking over the front and sides of the canoe (that is NOT an exaggeration -I've never canoed in waves like that).  Poor Nina & Molly were sitting in an ever increasing puddle of water in the bottom of the canoe with their eyes shut the whole time - praying I believe).  

Finally, we made it with sore muscles, but that wonderful sense of satisfaction of accomplishing something that you didn't think you could do.  I say it was my least favorite part, but you know what, I am so glad we got to do it.  You really don't know what you CAN do unless you are forced to do something.  If we didn't give it our all we would have been sleeping in the canoe - literally.  We gave it our all and we succeeded - what an amazing feeling!

I have no pictures of this little stretch of the trip because you really can' t take pictures and paddle at the same time - sorry.  Here are some pictures of us sitting in the little protected bay though.

Monday, July 28, 2008


I'm home, the hamsters not. I'm tired and looking forward to sleeping in a bed on a flat surface with no rocks or roots underneath. Details will come in the next few days.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


I'm off to the wilderness until Monday night where there will be no internet. Unless my husband gets the urge to blog in my absence, the Zoo will be quiet until Tuesday. But check back then because I am sure I will have stories to tell and pictures to share.

Pray for our safety and well-being and a great time for Chris & the kids at home.


We're having Wild Rice Soup for dinner.  Affectionately known around here as Slugs & Grubs.

Just thought you'd want to know :)  You'll never eat it again without thinking of this!


I've (unintentionally) re-named many of my children.  Let's see, we now have

Zo-Raelea  (as in Zo-Rae-Me-Fa-So-La-Ti-Zo)
Aidan, Raelea & Zoe have all been re-named Snickers.

Hope this isn't too confusing (you can imagine how confused my kids are).

This is a family sort of thing, as I spent my entire childhood being called Ka-Deb-Jim-BARB (they NEVER called me the dog's name though).

It's All Connected

I was about to crawl into bed last night, when I realized I had not put a load of laundry in the washing machine.  Dutifully, I went downstairs to do that because if I didn't, I wouldn't be able to get all the clothes hung out on the line in time for them to dry by early afternoon.  If I didn't get them to dry by early afternoon, the kids wouldn't be able to fold them after room time.  If they couldn't fold them on time, they wouldn't have time to clean the house before Dad got home.  Then they would have to clean it after dinner which would disrupt family devotions.  If family devotions don't happen on time then we'd have to go for a walk later than usual and no one would get to bed on time.  Knowing all this, I dragged my tired body downstairs to throw in a load of laundry.

Upon entering the laundry room, I saw two (quite large and healthy) crickets who were startled by the light.  Being too tired to kill them at that point I let them live on to hop another day, but if I see them today - watch out!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

How Normal Am I?

Apparently, not very.  Here's a conversation I had with my mom today as we were discussing whether or not this blog accurately reflects me.  She assured me that, yes, it does - I'm not sure if that's good or bad.  Hmmm.  Anyway, I made the comment that I am kind of an eclectic  person.  She agreed and here is what followed.

Mom: Yes, you're not a normal stay-at-home housewife. (I'm not quite sure what that normal housewife looks like...)
Barb: No, I'm definitely not normal.  I'm not a normal engineer either.
Mom: I was having a conversation with my hairdresser about you yesterday (Okay, I need to find out more about this conversation some other time, anyway, back to the conversation at hand) and she said, 'Do you sometimes wonder how she got to be this way?'  To which I(Mom) said, 'Yes, she was a normal teenager.' (now, that part is debatable)
Barb: I was NOT a normal teenager.

Now some of you have assured me that I'm not all that weird, but all the people that are really close to me confirm (regularly) that I am, indeed, strange, weird, and not normal.  Don't worry this doesn't disturb me (now that's a little strange).  My husband doesn't think I'm too strange, but that's only because he's stranger than me (teehee).

Anyway, I suspect that most of my, shall we say, uniqueness is rather intangible, I thought I would try to quantify some of it.  Here's what I found:

13.8% of BS Engineering degrees were granted to women (that's not TOO unique)
2.2% of the population have an IQ at or above mine (That's more unique, but I don't put a lot of weight in those tests)
1.8% of the population has a family size of seven or more (so I guess we are somewhere less than 1.8% - that's getting more unique)
1.1% of the population has adopted (now that's unique and sad at the same time)

Do you know how hard it is to find the statistics you want on the internet?  Okay, just the fact that I spent time doing this is rather odd, don't you think?

Monday, July 21, 2008


I'm a few days behind on posting about life here at our house.  I'm tired now and so I will post a few pictures and then it's off to bed for sleepy head.  Let's see, Saturday, Evan had book club which evolved into "Flag Lords" (a game some of them invented) club.  As you can see, it involves wandering off into the woods with sticks (why do all their games involve wandering off into the woods with sticks?)
Let's see, while that was going on, Chris was putting bark down around our new plants next to the driveway.  This was my project (meaning I instigated it, but he is actually doing it) and it needed to get done so Chris can move on to his project (building the shed.  Have you ever tried to fit 10 bicycles and six scooters in a two car garage?  Maybe I'll post a picture of the garage tomorrow so you can see why we NEED a shed.)
While Chris was slaving away outside in the heat, I was inside doing something - ironing, I believe :(  Anyway, at some point I went into the bathroom and this is what I saw.  Raelea happily sitting in the tub blowing bubbles.  Isn't she adorable!  Just ignore the ugly blue bathroom.  That's a winter project.


Since I just did a post yesterday about my favorite musical, I thought this video would be very apropos. This is what would happen if people just broke into song in real life like they do in musicals.
Special thanks to my friend, Linda, for this link.

Truth be told, I do break into song constantly, much to my children's embarrassment. Now if only I could carry a tune...

Sunday, July 20, 2008


Okay, one last post for the night.   

We have bugs.  We've had them since we moved in and they are cyclical.  First come the crickets, then the pill bugs, then the millipedes.  Now, before you start thinking we live in a dive, our house is actually very nice and the previous owners kept it meticulous, but a few days after we moved in we noticed that there were crickets in the (finished) basement.  Not just the ones you hear either.  We SEE them - daily!  They come around June and stay until mid- to late July.  Then they go away, who knows where, and along come the pill bugs.  These little guys are the least offensive of the bunch.  I usually don't kill them, I just relocate them outside.  They're cute.  

But then comes September, and the not-so-cute millipedes invade.  At any given time, you can find a few crawling across the basement floor or maybe in the basement shower (the kids really like that!).  Sometimes their dead, just curled up in  a little ball, but more often than not, they are crawling, EWW gross!  Now doesn't that just make you want to come and visit us :)  The ones crawling across the basement floor are nothing compared to the piles of hundreds of them outside our front door!

Actually, when we had a pet turtle one summer, the crickets came in really handy!  It's great fun to watch a turtle eat a cricket :)

More Songs

I'm kind of in a music mood tonight, so here are two songs - quite different from one another, but with the same title "Who Am I?" The first one is by Casting Crowns - awesome song about who we are and who God is!

The next one is from the musical Les Miserables which is my all-time favorite musical. If you've never seen it, you should, but you can't right now, because I think they stopped touring (the Broadway production). Anyway, I'm wading through the book right now, but it's like a thousand pages and no music! Great story though about redemption, forgiveness and love versus legalistic following of the rules of God. On Friday night, Chris & I stayed up WAY too late watching videos of the songs from Les Mis. The talent of those singers is phenomenal! Oh, if I only had a fraction of that talent...

So, since this is from the middle of the story and some of you might not be familiar with the story, I'll fill you in. Jean Valjean, an ex-convict who has turned his life over to Jesus and has become an upstanding citizen, has found out that a man has been arrested because the police have mistaken him for Valjean. If the real Valjean says nothing, this other man will go to prison for life and the police will stop hunting for him(Valjean). He needs to decide if he will allow an innocent man to go to prison or if he will give up his own freedom.

Anyway, here is Who Am I? from Les MiserablesOne last note, if you want to hear this singer's vocal talents displayed even better, double click on the video link in the blog and find him singing Bring Him Home - it is incredible!

Whole or Part

At church this morning, we were singing a song partly based on Psalm 86. One of the verses said, "I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart," This got me thinking, "Do I really give thanks to Him with my WHOLE heart?" Truthfully, I had to say no. I do give thanks to Him with much of my heart, but truthfully, I hold on to a piece of my heart where I grumble and complain if I don't like something, where I get dissatisfied when things aren't what I want or expect, where I murmur, "this or that could be better..."

My WHOLE heart. Wow, that's a tall order, but something I desire for myself, especially when I read further down in the Psalm and read this, "But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness." SO, there you have it. God doesn't hold back any of his love or grace or mercy from me, yet I can be so stingy with my thankfulness. It just shouldn't be so...

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Family Night

Since I've posted a couple of times about Date Night, I thought it only fair to have a post about Family Night.  Every Friday night is Family Night at our house.  That means nothing else gets planned for Friday night (except on rare occasions) unless it involves the whole family.  

Last night for Family Night we went to the park and played exciting games like Burp-O-Rama (no kidding), some sort of worm relay and Ships Across The Ocean.  After that we went to Target and got Icees.  A great time was had by all (or at least by  most, most of the time - it's really hard to get ten people to have fun all the time - you should try it sometime!)

Nina trying to burp - with great flare, I might add.
Marcus, thinking that we are all a bit insane.  Who plays games where they try to burp anyway?
Aidan giving a fine burp.  He was a natural at this game!
Here's one of the worms for the worm relay.  (The losing worm I might add - teehee).
Evan, who decided that he wasn't too cool to play games at the park with his family.  He's all for playing with the family at home, but the park is so PUBLIC.  He ended up having a great time.  Thankfully, no one was practicing archery when we took this picture :)
Zoe & Chris Playing Ships Across the Ocean.
Zoe decided she could run faster than Dad at this game.

Ah, slushies to cool everyone down.

Friday, July 18, 2008


Now you may not know this,but we have royalty living here in our house.  I have the pictures to prove it. Here is Prince Marcus.Here is Prince Marcus out for a ride on his royal steed, Emily.  It looks like a little filly next to Emily, too, in the corner of the picture.
See, I told you we had royalty in the house.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

One Week From Today

In just a week, Nina, Molly & I will be heading up north to the Quetico with my mom and two other women for some wilderness canoeing and camping.  Quetico  is the Canadian version of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area.  The Quetico is a slightly larger area and slightly more rustic (no boxes in the woods, for those of you who know what that means :)  )  

The 10 Things I Love About Quetico

1. No phones, TV, radio.
2. You don't have to put on make-up and there are no mirrors.
3. No computer (so I guess that means no blog posts).
4. No cars, trains, plane, automobiles or even motorboats.
5. Nothing is done on a time schedule.
6. Watching the cute little critters trying to get into our food.
7. The food is simple, but tastes so good after a day of paddling.
8. Uninterrupted time with my daughters and mom.
9. Hearing the loons at night and in the morning.
10. Going to bed physically exhausted but emotionally refreshed.

Of course, there are a few things I don't like about the wilderness.

The 3 Things I Don't Like About the Quetico

1. The biting flies.
2. The mosquitoes.
3. Bears.  I'm scared of bears.  I hope we don't see any.

Okay, here's a picture from our trip last year.

What If?

What if Emily, Raelea & Zoe all shared a bed and not just a bedroom? Here's what would happen...Here's what would NOT happen...
And so, Zoe will not be moving into Raelea & Emily's bed anytime soon :)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


Forty-nine years ago (June 27) these two people married...And here is what came out of that ...