"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, December 30, 2008

Introducing...

The next Alastair Dunn.What? You don't know who Alastair Dunn is.   Next you'll tell me you don't know the Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band either.  Oh, what a sad state of affairs this is...

Anyway, back to the future top piper of the world - Evan Johnson!  Evan made a step in achieving his lofty piping goals tonight by auditioning and being accepting into the Minnesota Police Pipe Band.   And this after only playing the pipes for about nine months.  Pictures of Evan in his kilt and paraphernalia will be forthcoming in the coming weeks.

Congratulations, Evan, your hard work and dedication have paid off and will continue to do so in the years to come.  I have no doubt you will be a Grade 1 piper someday.

Question

Why is this child kneeling on a chair to do the dishes?If you need a hint, see the previous post.

Close Encounters

of the furry kind.

So, I'm here making candied pecans (they're good for you, really) and washing dishes (that's not so good for you, unless you ask my mother).  Anyway, a couple of important things you need to know before I continue this story : the sink is between the oven and the dishwasher, the oven is on (about now, some of you know where this story is going).

Anyway, back to washing dishes.  Here I was blissfully washing dishes when what should I feel, but something small and squirmy on my feet.  Hmm.  What do you think that could be?  Well, I look down and who should be looking up at me but our new boarder (the small furry type with a tail).  The poor little guy was so confused by his path from the oven to the dishwasher being blocked, he didn't know what to do.  We smiled at each other for a moment and then he scurried around my other foot and bolted for his second home under our dishwasher.  All of this wouldn't have caused me much trauma except for a story that my mom tells about when  a scared mouse ran up her pants' leg...

Strangely, I never see him go from the dishwasher to the oven, only the other way around.  Apparently it's a one-way street.

Now some of you are asking, why haven't they gotten rid of that little guy yet.  Well, I'm kind of growing fond of him...JUST KIDDING!   We just haven't gotten to the store yet to get a trap.  Now that I've met the guy, I don't think I will be doing the dispensing of his dead body though.

Monday, December 29, 2008

805

That's how many books Evan counted in his room and the adjoining room (which happens to have many of the school books)!  So, anyone want to guess how many we have in our entire house?

One Reason

I was perusing our church directory while I was waiting for my tea to steep and I noticed a few things. Our family is not unusual at our church (actually we're unusual no matter where we go, but in relation to family size and demographics we fit right in).   This is one reason why I love my church!

 Here's what I found out from a quick look at the directory, 3.9% of the families at church have obviously adopted (I say obviously because I either know them or I can look and see).  This compares to the national average of about 2.5%.  Now keep in mind that the 2.5% is for all adoptions, but my little survey included primarily transracial adoptions since those are the ones you can see from a picture.  Nationally only .2% of people have transracially adopted.  So, as a church we are WAY ahead of the statistics on that!  It helps that a couple of our pastors have adopted transracially.  It also helps that our church provides grant money for those adopting transracially - they don't just encourage it, they support it and help it happen!

Another quick pass through directory showed me that about 5.6% of our church families have five or more kids.  I couldn't quickly find the national statistic on that one, but I am sure that it is WAY below 5.76% (btw, I did find out that three or more dependent children is considered a large family! ???? Okay, then)

Anyway, you get the point, when we go to church we are NOT a freak show.  Those of you without oodles of kids or without kids that don't look like you might not understand that every time we walk out our door as a family we are stared at, gawked at and subject to comments (some of the kind and some of them very nasty).  Truthfully, I don't really mind this as those of you that know me, know that I LIKE to be the center of attention.  However, there are times when you just want to fit in.  Everyone needs a place where they are like other people.  For us, church provides us with that place.  Adoption is a non-issue there.  Having eight kids is a non-issue there.  I love it!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

She's At It Again

Once again, Nina put her considerable talents to work making an anniversary cake for my brother, Jim, and sil, Joy.

Happy (early) 25th anniversary, Jim & Joy! We love you tons!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Chicken Broth

I received a coupon this morning at the grocery store for Aseptic Chicken Broth.  Now I have a fairly good grasp of the English language and I have heard the word aseptic before, but only in regarding things medically related.  I have NEVER heard the word used regarding food, so I thought I better look it up to see what it means.

aseptic |āˈseptik|
adjective
free from contamination caused by harmful bacteria, viruses, or other microorganisms.

Well, I am SO relieved that the chicken broth is not contaminated!  I better stay away from those other brands because, obviously, they are chock full of nasty stuff.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Visual Christmas










Yes, they are roasting marshmallows in front of the "fire" on the TV.  Do you find that strange?  And you thought I was the only strange bird in our family.  Now you know that it's a hereditary thing.

What Were We Thinking?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

O, Holy Night

I want to change my favorite Christmas song from a few posts ago.  I totally forgot that O, Holy Night is REALLY my favorite Christmas song until I was listening to it on the way home from grocery shopping last Saturday.  So, now for your Christmas Eve enjoyment, close your eyes and listen to this.


MERRY CHRISTMAS everyone and HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JESUS!

It's Confirmed

So, I was baking cherry chocolate cookies this morning and while I was warming up the oven, what to my wondering eyes should appear?  It wasn't a miniature sleigh or eight tiny reindeer.  It was a little small rodent scurrying from under the oven.  Said friend then made a beeline to under the dishwasher and has not been seen again.  Apparently Aidan was not seeing things the other day.  

When I exclaimed that I just saw "it", Raelea immediately picked up the broom and said, "I'll kill it, Mom!"   That's my girl!  Not afraid of anything!
I'm so glad that tonight "not a creature will be stirring."

Monday, December 22, 2008

When It Rains, It Pours

Apparently, Blackberry has invited all of his rodent friends over for Christmas.  There were two more rodent sightings today!  All sightings were by Aidan.  Hmm.  Stay tuned.  I am sure tomorrow will bring exciting rodent tails, err, I mean tales.  

I am planning on being tired tomorrow after spending much of the night convincing Marcus that the mice are not going to get him in his loft bed.  I won't be able to show the same confidence as when he is afraid of snakes, or more recently monkeys.  We spent several days convincing him that there are NO monkeys in Minnesota only to realize that now we can NEVER take him to the zoo or he'll think we are liars.

"Houston, We Have A Problem"

No, this is not our problem, well, actually, it is a problem, but it is not the problem I am talking about today.

The problem d' jour is the when I was opening the oven door while Aidan watched, he suddenly shouted, "something just ran across the floor!"  Hmm, seems that our rodent-free living may have come to an end.  Not that we haven't cohabited with mice before, but we have never had a problem with them in this house.  

Now maybe Aidan's eyes were playing tricks on him, but I suspect not as I, too, discovered little mouse "presents" on top of some bins in the storage room.

Now, as to the problem in the picture...that problem is encouraged by son number one who does his homework in the sun on our bed and tells the dog to jump up there!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

What Shall I Read?

I just finished Phantom of the Opera and I give it two thumbs up.   

Now I don't know what to read.  Any suggestions?  It took me a year to read Les Miserables, so I was glad to read the easier Phantom.  Now what?  Can't wait to hear what you recommend.

The Nine Days of Christmas

I know you've all heard of the 12 Days of Christmas, but I bet none of you have heard of the Nine Days of Christmas. Your ignorance on this subject is no doubt a result of not being a part of our family, as the Nine Days of Christmas is a holiday tradition for only our family (as far as I can tell).

Here's how it works. For the nine days before Christmas Molly hides one present each day for one person in the house. The kids all run around looking for the present and then give it to the person whose name is on the gift. It's great fun for everyone, but I think the person who has the most fun is Molly. If ever there was a person who gets more joy out of giving gifts than receiving them it would be Molly. She is beside herself with excitement to lavish gifts on us. What a sweetheart!The first gift this year went to Evan. I think Evan and the musk ox bear a striking resemblance to each other.

Thanks, Molly, for making many happy family memories!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Pencils

Where, oh, where have all our pencils gone???

Okay, every school day starts as follows. " I can't find my pencil "(uttering by any number of forlorn looking children).

To which I reply, "If you put it in your drawer when you are done with it, it will be there for you tomorrow."

To which I get the following response, every time and without fail. "I did put it in my drawer!!! Someone took it!!!"

Hmm. Interesting. As intriguing as it would be to have a pencil thief around here, I'm not buying it. Actually, I am buying it - pencils that is - lots and lots of pencils. Now I know, I should make them suffer in some way for losing their pencils, but somehow I don't think, "Well, you just can't do school today, " is going to produce the desired effect, if you know what I mean.

Somewhere in the depths of our house (probably under every piece of furniture) there are pencils! Scores and scores of pencils. Hey, maybe that is what Blackberry eats when he escapes from his cage! For now, I think I will buy them all pencils for their stockings...

She's Finished

Raelea, that is, with her ring worm medication and apparently that little pesky bugger has been eradicated from her body! Yippee!!!!! Now we just hope to have as much success with Zoe & Marcus. They finish up their meds next week, but I'm not as hopeful about a complete cure for them yet. I'm still seeing some patches on their scalps (they don't lose their hair where they have it), so they might need another 8 week round of that lovely medicine.

But for today, we are happy that dear sweet Raelea is ringworm free and she no longer has any bald spots :) So, here's the lovely little lady all dressed up today (and without her glasses - a site you don't often see).

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Christmas Survey

From Linda D.'s blog
1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Paper & ribbon, all the way!
2. Real tree or Artificial? Real. Frasier fir. This year we bought it from a lot, but usually we cut down our own.
3. When do you put up the tree? December 15 - Chris' birthday.
4. When do you take the tree down? The weekend after Jan 1
5. Do you like eggnog? Yes, with a little nutmeg on top.
6. Favorite gift received as a child? Hmm, I have no recollection of any gift I received as a child :)
7. Hardest person to buy for? My dad! He has everything and never gives us ideas of what he wants.
8. Easiest person to buy for? The under six crowd. They're happy with whatever they get and they are really good at letting you know what they want.
9. Do you have a nativity scene? Yes, a couple of them.
10. Mail or email Christmas cards? Mail, but I'm tempted to put it on the blog this year.
11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? I love all my Christmas gifts.
12. Favorite Christmas Movie? It’s a Wonderful Life, Charlie Brown Christmas Special, A Christmas Story.
13 When do you start shopping for Christmas? Usually the day after Christmas (for the next year). I shop year round to help balance out the spending.
14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Well, don't tell the kids, but they sometimes receive a toy that used to be their sibling's. It only works up to about the age of three, but hey, it works. My kids have also ( and will receive this year) some gifts that are not new (as in bought used on Ebay). Trust me, they'll be just as happy with those as the new things.
15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Dad's candy - and lots of it. Sticky rolls on Christmas morning.
16. Lights on the tree? Yes, and on the outside of the house as well.
17. Favorite Christmas song? O Come, O Come, Emmanuel I've loved that song even from my childhood. I still remember sitting in the Catholic church singing that song. I just LOVE it.
18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? Go to Mom & Dad's, of course, whether we're invited or not.
19. Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer? I can sing them :) Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner & Blitzen, but do you recall, the most famous reindeer of all...Rudolph...
20. Angel on the tree top or a star? Angel. Small little angel.
21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Both, why limit yourself. We open them at Mom & Dad's on Christmas Eve and then at our house on Christmas morning. And the presents don't go under the tree until the kids are in bed on Christmas Eve. Oh, and let's not forget the stockings....
22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? Commercialism and the failure to recognize that it IS Jesus' birth we are celebrating.
23. Favorite ornament theme or color? Anything unique. The more unique the better.
24. Favorite for Christmas dinner? Ham, potatoes, salads, etc.
25. What do you want for Christmas this year? Peace on earth and goodwill towards men. Is that too much to ask?

Now it's your turn. Copy the questions, erase my answers and add your own.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

It's In The Mail

The Christmas letter, that is. Actually, it's not in the mail yet. I am still updating our address list, but it will be in the mail soon.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Happy Birthday, Chris!

The day has finally arrive!  Chris is turning 42 today!  Happy birthday, Dear!  Since it is his very special day, I will brag on him for just a moment.  

I am married to the most wonderful man.  

People outside of our home have no idea what a servant he is to the kids and me.  He always volunteers to take the less-than-desirable tasks that come up in family life.  He always makes sure that we have what we need (or even want) before he takes care of his own needs.  He loves Jesus with all his heart and does a great job of leading our family spiritually.

He is ever so patient when I am being icky :)  In 18 years of marriage, I don't think I can recollect a single time when he has yelled at me and, believe me, I can think of MANY times that I probably deserved to be yelled at.  He is incredibly patient and always forgiving.  

He is funny and fun.  No one makes me laugh more than my husband.  People who don't know him well are surprised by this because he doesn't come across as a funny guy to casual acquaintances.  Rest assured, he's almost as goofy as I am.  I am not sure how I ended up with such a wonderful guy (actually, I am sure - "Thanks, God!"), but I wouldn't trade him or change him for all the world.

I love you, Chris! (Yes, he does read my blog)
And that now concludes Birthday Season at our house. We have eight months ahead uninterrupted by a single birthday (not counting Snicker's - July 31).

A Christmas Poem

'
Twas ten nights before Christmas and all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care
Because Mom & Dad had hung them there.
When out in the living room there arose such a clatter,
Chris sprang from his bed to see what was a matter.
And there all across the living room floor
Was the Christmas tree, not upright anymore
1:24 AM, Dec. 15
A moment that will be forever etched in my mind.
I'll remember my whole life what I was doing when I heard the terrible crash.
I was sleeping!
Actually, I was sleeping and having a very strange dream about my friend Tami and OJ Simpson at Target (don't ask).
Anyway, we put the tree back up, re-hung the ornaments, re-filled the water in the base, warmed up our corn bags and crawled back in bed.  Aside from two ornaments being broken we weren't too much worse for the wear!


LL

Sitting on our counter in the kitchen we have one of those weather stations.  You know, the little digital thermometers that tell you how cold it is outside AND inside.  Well, for some reason beyond my comprehension, our weather station has a temperature range of, get this, -4 F to 140F.  Say what???  When it reaches below -4, we get the nondescript reading of "LL". Hmmm, I wonder if it gets above 140 does is say "HH"?  Well, it NEVER does get above 140, so I can't really say, but this morning is definitely an LL morning (-8 F. I had to go to my computer to get that reading).

So, who designs these things anyway?  I'm picture the design team sitting around their conference table discussing the specs on their new weather station.  The conversation goes something like this -
"So, you'll be able to read the outdoor temperature from inside the house?"
"Yes, that's right."
"Well, we'll need to come up with a range of temperatures.  We'll have to set some parameters on what temperatures our EnviraStation will measure."
"Yes. Let's see.  For an upper level what do you think about 110 F?"
"No, that's too low, let's put it above any temperature that you are likely to encounter outside of the Sahara desert."
"Yes, that's good thinking.  What about the lower temperature?"
"Well, let's use the same guidelines.  Hmm, it does get down to 0 F periodically.  Let's go to the extreme and make it...-4 F."
"That is extreme!  I'm sure no one will need it to go lower than that."
"Alright then. 140 to -4.  I think that is a terrific range.  Let's make it!"

Say what?  Where do these people live anyway????   Well, funny you should ask because I asked the same thing.  I was certain that they lived in sunny souther California where -4 sounds like Antarctica to them. WRONG!  HoMedics is based in, get this, Michigan!  Now, it might not get as cold there as it does in MN, but I know for certain that they have seen temperatures below    -4!  I mean, come on, it gets below -4 several times EVERY YEAR here in MN, but I don't think any of you live someplace that it exceeds 140F.

Ah, if I ran the zoo....

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Party's Over

Actually, both parties are over.  We had a neighborhood open house on Saturday and a party for our small group from church tonight.  I know it sounds overwhelming, but look at it this way, we only had to cook and clean once for two parties!  That sounds efficient to me!

Both parties were a lot of fun and we don't have TOO much food left over.  Well, okay, we have  a lot of food left over and we'll be eating party food all week, but that's not such a bad thing, is it?

Okay, here's the spread from the Saturday night party...
And here's some of the entertainment from the Sunday night party.  Molly & Evan playing a couple duets.  They sound so good thanks to our piano/flute instructor and the kids' hard work.
Next party - tomorrow (Monday) - its Chris' birthday...

Btw, don't you just love my Christmas blog colors?  So festive, so Christmas-y :)


Why?

I have several kids in the "why?" stage of life, as in, "Why is the sky blue?"  or "Why did God make mosquitoes?"  Well, today Raelea stumped me with, "Why do we have big toes?"  When you can give me an answer, I'll pass it on to her.

Friday, December 12, 2008

One Of A Kind

We broke with tradition and got our tree today.  Traditionally we get our tree on the 15th as that is Chris' birthday and that's when they got their tree when he was growing up.  Because Chris can't take off work on Monday and our Christmas party is tomorrow, we decided to get the tree today.Isn't she a beaut?  Now, you need to know something about our tree, not so much the tree but the ornaments on the tree.  They are unique to say the least (would you expect anything less from us?)  Decorating our tree is like a walk down memory lane.  We have ornaments from our childhoods, ones that we received as wedding gifts and ones we've collected along the way.  Whenever we go on vacation, we try to get an ornament that will remind us of the place.  We have a light house, a buffalo, the state of Texas, seashells and many, many more interesting ornaments.  

Since you can' t see them really well in the above picture, I've taken some close-ups of a few of my favorites.  Ready?  Here we go...

How many people do YOU know with an orange dinosaur on their tree?  Admit it.  You've NEVER seen an orange dinosaur on anyone's tree.  Well, now you have.
How about a red tractor?  Do you have one of those?  This one came from a farm in St. Louis.  Maybe Maggie can help me out with the name of the place.  I don't remember anymore.
Here's a teepee from the Lake Mille Lacs area.
This guy came all the way from London, which brings back wonderful memories of when Chris worked for Northwest Airlines and we could travel for free ($13/first class ticket to London).  Oh, was that ever fun.  We could barely afford to stay anywhere there or to eat, but getting there was really cheap!
I forget what these little birds are called, but they are a Polish tradition (I think) and they are made out of milkweed pods.  My Dad taught my kids how to make them last year.
The violin is from Vienna.  I've never been there, but Chris got to spend a night there when he went on a missions trip to Kiev many years ago.

This one's from Alaska, courtesy of my sister Deb.
And this one, may well be my all-time favorite.  This was  a Mother's Day gift to me from Evan.  In case you can't read it all, it says "World's Best Mom" complete with a lovely lizard picture.  Things that make you go hmmm.  I'm not sure if he thought I looked like a lizard or if he just liked lizards.  Either way, it makes me laugh every time I see it.

This certainly wasn't an exhaustive display of our unique ornaments, but it gives you an idea of  what OUR tree looks like.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

It's Finally Final

Today we finalized Marcus & Zoe's adoption!  Now, not only are they officially members of our family (as seen by the US Gov't), they are also officially US citizens.  What a happy day to be done with the paperwork.  (Hear the huge sigh of relief from Barb?)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

One Happy Boy



Aidan, along with Chris, Nina & Marcus, spent a few hours this evening at Winter Park, the MN Vikings training facility.  It was a fund raising event for Children's Home Society (the agency we adopted Zoe & Marcus through).  How could we pass up an opportunity for Aidan to actually meet some of the Vikings players and tour their facility?  Lots of happy memories for Aidan tonight :)

Monday, December 8, 2008

Happy Birthday, Marcus!!

Well, it is finally here! Marcus' Birthday, that is. He has been waiting and waiting and waiting for this blessed day for months, say, from Sept. 2 when birthday season commenced at our house. He really has been quite patient for the most part. What a trooper.

We are so thankful that 2008 has brought us such a wonderful son! Truly a gift from God!AND, Marcus' birthday means we're having Ethiopian food for dinner! Yummy!!!

1.13

Despite the dearth of posts recently, I have averaged 1.13 posts per day in 2008. This begs the question, "How many things did Barb avoid doing in 2008 so she could blog?"

Hmm.

As an aside, I had to look up how to spell dearth! I certainly have used the word before, but apparently not in writing.

Hmmm.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

And So It Begins

The Christmas festivities, that is. On Friday, Nina, Molly, Emily & I went to the Festival of Christmas concert at Bethel College with Aunts Deb & Joy, Grandma & Cousin Colleen. It is an annual tradition for us and a great way to kick off the season. Then on Saturday we went up to Siren to celebrate Christmas with Chris' side of the family. It was a great time of conversation and food and, of course, presents. Then, as they do every year, Grandma & Grandpa put us up at the local hotel to spend the evening swimming and playing. Today we all had brunch together and headed home.

All this with snow falling on Friday and today as well, has put me in the Christmas spirit. Good thing too, since we are hosting the neighborhood Christmas Open House next Saturday. Yikes! If you don't hear from me much this week it's because I am baking and cleaning and cleaning and baking. Ahhhhh (not the relaxing, just stepped in a warm bath sort of ahhh, that's the panicky, I haven't made a single cookie yet sort of ahhh)!

Okay, here are the pictures to prove that everything I've said is true (in case you doubt).  

Here's Grandma with two of her little sweethearts.
Marcus, Nina & Mackenzie buried in gifts.
Yes, this is pretty much how Aidan spent the day!
Raelea got a really big dump truck.  Is she ever happy!
The food was really good!

This is the one and only time each year that we stay in a hotel (Thanks Dad & Gloria!!)
Evan got a board game (see the happy smile on his face - that's how you KNOW he got a board game).  He even talked Molly, Chris & I into playing it.  Actually, in the approximately 32 hours he's owned the thing I've played it three times with him, he played part of a game with Molly and he played it once by himself.  Hmmm.
But in the end, exhaustion overtook us all...

Hope you all are enjoying your Christmas season.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Say What?

Chris is now self-employed, so all the wonderful benefits that the Fed. had to offer are no longer available to us :( Because of this, we need to purchase our own health insurance policy. This should be pretty straight forward, right? We are all very healthy, non-diseased individuals. What could possibly go wrong? I would think that insurance companies would LOVE to take our money.

Well, not so fast. You see, apparently Medica has an underwriting policy of denying coverage for a pre-existing condition requiring, gasp, speech therapy (30 minutes/week). Yes, they will cover the other nine of us, but not Raelea, with her apparently perilous health condition.

WARNING****I'm going to rant for just a few lines*****

What's with that????

For crying out loud (or is it four crying out loud - which is what happens occasionally at our house), it's not like she has some terminal illness that is going to cost them millions of dollars!!! Trust me, her speech therapy per month is less than our monthly premium. They would still be making a healthy profit on us. Grrr!

Okay, rant is over.

Just wanted to spread some cheer to all my faithful readers :). Rest assured, we will all eventually get coverage. We're applying to a different agency with better ratings on accepting people (BCBS of MN). I'll let you know how it all turns out.

Shopping

Why am I not posting as frequently as usual, you ask? I'm shopping. Trying to find nice things for my kids without breaking the budget is quite a challenge. So, instead of blogging, I'm perusing Ebay and various other sites hoping to find the deal of the year. No luck yet, but I'll let you know when I find one.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Great Job, Maggie!

Raelea received a birthday present last week from her Aunt Kathy, Uncle Doug, and cousins Ian & Maggie. It is an adorable little dress made by Maggie! Those sewing genes run deep in our family :) You did a super job Maggie!

You Choose

Evan is going to get his hair cut tonight - just a trim.So, which look do you think Evan should go for?