"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

Saturday, February 28, 2009

So Long...

No blogging tomorrow, we'll be in the car ALLLLLLL day. If you think of us, pray for safe travels and alertness for Chris & I as we drive, particularly if you are awake , oh, say around, 2:00 AM on Monday. That's about when the trip gets really grueling. Chris is bringing his laptop, so I will be able to blog from the beach :) Now doesn't that sound like fun??

Love you all!

Friday, February 27, 2009

What Were You Doing?

So, what were you doing at 5:55 AM this morning? I was outside listening to the snow ring. Really, our snow rings here! If you dig down a ways, it vibrates and glows, too. I spent about five minutes outside wondering at this marvel.

Okay, I spent about five minutes outside this morning calling my cell phone to try to find it buried in about six inches of snow. Lo and behold, I did find it after following the faint ring and it is now back in the warm house.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Perfect

It's snowing A LOT, it's going to get cold and....I get to go south :)

Perfect!

It's no fun leaving if it's going to be warm and nice here.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Because We Got a New Camera

Since we bought a new digital camera I thought I would share some great pictures of the kiddos.
Evan the Great
Sweet Molly
Handsome Marcus
Charming Emily
Precious Raelea
Sweet ZoZo with her new friend, Addie
Aidan and Nina will  have to appear in another post because Evan is claiming he needs to computer for school work...

Because I LOVE This Song

How can anyone not like bagpipe music after listening to this song???

Because Jen Asked

Red Lentil-Rice Cakes with Simple Tomato Salsa (now there's a mouthful)

Salsa:
3 cups finely chopped plum tomato (about 6 tomatoes)
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp. salt

Cakes:
5 cups water, divided
1 cup dried small red lentils
1/2 cup uncooked basmati rice
2 Tbs. olive oil, divided
1/2 cup finely chopped red bell pepper (we omitted this, due to Chris' food "issues")
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
1/2 tsp fennel seeds, crushed
2 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 cup (3-oz) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs
1 Tbs. chopped fresh basil
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 large egg white, lightly beaten

1. to prepare salsa, combine first 5 ingredients; set aside at room temperature.

2. To prepare cakes, bring 4 cups water and lentils to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat, and simmer for 20 minutes or until tender. Drain and rinse with cold water; drain. Place lentils in a large bowl.

3. Combine remaining 1 cup water and rice in pan; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 18 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Cool 10 minutes. Add rice to lentils.

4. Heat 1 tsp. oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add bell pepper, onion, fennel seeds, and garlic to pan; saute 2 minutes or until tender. Cool 10 minutes. Add to rice mixture. Add mozzarella cheese and remaining ingredients, stirring until well combined. Let stand for 10 minutes.

5. Wipe skillet clean with paper towels. Heat 2 tsp. olive oil in skillet over medium heat. Spool half of rice mixture by 1/3-cupfuls into pan, spreading to form 6 (3-inch) circles; cook 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Carefully turn cakes over; cook 5 minutes on other side. Remove cakes from pan. Repeat procedure with remaining 1 Tbs. olive oil and remaining rice mixture. Serve with salsa. Yield:6 servings

It's not a really difficult recipe, but make sure you give yourself enough time for all the "let stand 10 minutes" stuff. I didn't leave myself enough time for that, so we let stand for say, oh, four minutes instead :)

ENJOY!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Mutiny

I thought I was going to have a mutiny on my hands today when I announced that we were having lentil burgers for dinner! You'd think I'd told them we were going to eat earthworms or something. Several children immediately declared that they would rather skip dinner altogether. When I told them they had to eat at least one bite the responses were:

"Can I just smell it?"
"Do I actually have to swallow it, too?"
"Can I just lick it?"
(In case you can't figure it out the answer were, "No," "Yes," and "No."

So, I cook and chop and mix and form and fry and, lo and behold, lentil burgers! And do you know what, they got a thumbs up from Chris. This, in and of itself is quite amazing. This is the same Chris who told me early on in our marriage that "It isn't a meal if it doesn't have meat!"

Several of the children approved of it as well! Now you know lentil burgers are not nearly as revolting as they sound :) Now don't everyone beat a path to my blog looking for the recipe...I know you all want to make these for your family right away!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Bedtime


There's nothing better than sharing your room with your sisters!
It's amazing that they ever fall asleep!

Interesting

Here we see Zoe holding up her favorite jammie top. The interesting thing about this is that she told me that she is the princess in the middle, Raelea is on the left and Emily is on the right. Apparently the child has yet to notice race :) If I could find a jammie top with a beautiful brown princess on it I would buy it for her, but alas, Disney only does white princesses apparently :(

Zoe also looks at baby pictures of Raelea and asks if they are pictures of herself. Give her another year or so and I am sure she won't make that mistake any longer.

Countdown

In just six days we leave the frozen tundra for the beautiful beaches of Alabama. It's pretty much all we talk about and think about these days. Blog posts may be few the next few days since I'm supposed to be packing, planning and, ugh, ironing which is where I am off to right now.

Oh, but first, here's a picture of our home away from home. Can't wait to get there!!!!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Love At First Sight?

Well, not really! As we continue down memory lane this week, today marks the anniversary of the first time we actually met Marcus and Zoe. During the months of looking at a referral picture you make a preconceived image of what your children will be like. You know what they LOOK like, but you don't know what the ARE like. Will they run to you or run away from you? Will they be shy and timid or over the top outgoing? Who knows?

We picked up Zoe first and she went to us, no problem. She would have gone to absolutely anyone who walked in the door. That's just the kind of kid she was. She looked a little confused, as in, "Man these folks don't get out in the sun much, do they?" But, she went with us right out the door and into the van without a cry or a peep. Then off we went to meet Marcus who was with his class at an amusement park. (Yes, we are riding in a van and she is not in a car seat, nor are we buckled up - welcome to Ethiopia!)
Now, put yourself in his shoes. You're having a blast with your friends riding on a roller coaster and then your class is going off to ride on one of those swing rides when you are pulled aside and asked to go to this strange looking couple who are holding your little sister. So, what do you think Marcus did? Right you are, he tried to get out of meeting us. Truth be told, the only way they got him near us was to bribe him with a cell phone. Once he got close enough we tried to play catch with him with a ball we brought. After a few minutes he warmed up enough to ride on the swing ride on Chris' lap and that was the beginning of getting to know each other.They hardly look like the happy kids we know now, but this is how it all began.

Shut The Blinds

I'm a moderately intelligent individual and it's taken me 43 years to figure this one out - scary, I know. It's really a good idea to shut your blinds or curtains or whatever window coverings you have and not for the obvious reasons.

Here's the deal. Our house backs up to a park, so we have no neighbors behind us, but we have many very large banks of windows to enjoy the beautiful view. This is all very good and fine. Because we don't have anyone wandering through the park after dark in the dead of winter, we frequently left the back blinds open all the time. You know, why go through the work of shutting them at night only to have to open them again in the morning!

Well, I'll tell you why. Apparently shutting the blinds saves money - at least in MN in the middle of winter. For whatever reason I started shutting the blinds at night this winter and I have discovered through reading our heating bill, that we are using less energy to heat our home this year than we did last year. All this despite the average temperature being lower this year than last year. So, it's colder outside, but we are using less energy to maintain that balmy 68 degrees inside (that's during the day, at night we hover at 60 degrees).

Now, most of you probably shut your curtains for privacy reasons anyway, but if by chance you are leaving them open and you live in the frozen tundra, shut the blinds!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Touchdown

Continuing yesterday's walk down memory lane, here are some more thoughts from 365 days ago.

Exhausted, excited, nervous, overwhelmed. 

The sounds and sights that met us as we got off the plane were so different from what we were used to, yet so similar, too.  The airport in Addis Ababa is quite modern which surprised me.  I'm not sure what I was expecting, but it wasn't this.  After we were through customs and exchanged some money we were met by the representatives and most of the seven other families that we would share our life-changing week with.  

We and our luggage were loaded into vans and whisked off to the guest house.  Oh, how much time we would spend in those vans in the coming weeks!  The main things that struck me in our drive through the dark streets were: there's a lot of construction going on, there's a lot of people out and about, apparently traffic laws are optional here, apparently staying on the road is optional too, I sure am glad I don't have to drive, and I sure hope we don't hit any of these people crossing the streets!  What an adventure!

The guest house was great.  Exactly what we needed after an exhausting journey!

Our room was the one with the balcony over the front door.  Notice the beautiful weather.  It was like this every single day we were there - sunny and 70's.
Here's our room from the inside.  We even had our own bathroom.
And here is are amazing travel group!  We couldn't have asked for a better group of companions to spend the week with.

One Year Ago, Today

Today is the one year anniversary of our journey to Ethiopia to pick up Marcus and Zoe! One year ago, today, we hopped on a plane in Minneapolis, took a stop in Washington, DC, sat on the tarmac in Rome and landed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.   

What, of what would motivate four mostly sane individuals to embark on a 22-hour journey half-way around the world?
I tell you, nothing on earth could keep us from getting on that plane!

I can't believe a whole year has passed. 365 days on our calendar and a world of change in our hearts and our home.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Correction

As I try to maintain journalistic integrity in my blog I must make a few corrections to the Chris and Sour Cream story posted earlier today. Apparently, it wasn't his brother that performed the offense it was his step-father. In addition, I didn't get the story quite right (trust me this new, true version is even more interesting).

Here's what REALLY happened. Chris' step-dad wiped some white stuff across Chris' mouth. Chris mistakenly assumed it was whipped cream and was horribly traumatized to find out that it was, gasp, sour cream. This horrendous event immediately caused Chris to toss his cookies.

And there you have the real story, written with Chris standing at my side to guarantee accuracy. If he had his own blog he could write stories about me, but alas, he gave up blogging after just one day.

Something New

They say you should try to learn something new everyday. Taking this to heart, here is what I learned this morning:

You should never let your sons play football in the living room where there are large pictures on the mantle.

Chris and Sour Cream

My friend Linda insists that I tell the sour cream story about Chris. It really isn't too interesting, but here it goes.

Chris is a picky eater. He doesn't like many food items that make eating enjoyable. Some of the important items on the "Chris doesn't like it" list are onions (HOW can someone NOT like onions? They are like a staple in almost everything!), green peppers (this one I can understand more, I love them, but the do have a pretty strong presence), almost all uncooked vegetables (!), and of course, sour cream.

His dislike of sour cream goes way beyond, just not liking it though. He doesn't even want it on the table with him. Chris & I sit at opposite ends of a long table (it has to seat 10 - obviously) and he doesn't even like it when I have it down on my end. And, well, I can just about forget an after dinner kiss if I've eaten the stuff. I can' t even eat sour cream and chive potato chips in the same room as him.

Anyway, this sour cream-phobia goes back to his childhood. Apparently, someone (probably a brother - they're always the guilty party) once gave Chris some sour cream and told him it was whipped cream. Chris, being a trusting soul (and perhaps not too observant), took a really big bite of the stuff...and promptly threw up. And there you have it.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Even Though You Didn't Ask

I'm giving you the recipe for White Bean and Turkey Chili because I made it tonight and it was OUTSTANDING! One of the best meals I've had in a long time and really quick to make - less than 30 minutes! Kudos to Cooking Light!

White Bean & Turkey Chili

1 Tbs. canola oil
2 cups diced yellow onion (about 2 medium)
1 1/2 Tbs. chili powder
1 Tbs. minced garlic
1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. dried oregano
3 (15.8 oz) cans Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
4 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
3 cups chopped, cooked turkey (I actually used 1 lb. ground turkey and I really liked that)
1/2 cup diced seeded plum tomato
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 Tbs. fresh lime juice
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
8 lime wedges (optional)

1. Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion, saute 10 minutes or until tender and golden. Add chili powder, garlic, and cumin, saute for 2 minutes. Add oregano and beans, cook for 30 seconds. Add broth, bring to a simmer. Cook 20 minutes.
2. Place 2 cups of bean mixture in a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Return pureed mixture to pan. Add turkey, and cook 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Remove from heat. Add diced tomato, chopped cilantro, lime juice, salt and pepper, stirring well. Garnish with lime wedges, if desired.

We served it with grated cheddar cheese and sour cream (down on my end of the table - someday I'll blog about Chris and sour cream). Run out and get the ingredients. Really, you need to make this soon. Mom, maybe I'll make it for us down in Gulf Shores :)

More Ramble Pictures




Monday, February 16, 2009

Things You Don't Want To Hear

So, Molly and a friend were walking by the kitchen and this is what I heard:

Friend: "Do you even have a blow torch?"

Happy Presidents' Day

Hope you all are enjoying your celebration of Presidents' Day (for those of you in Alabama, that would be Washington and Lincoln).

We went to the Science Museum with several thousand other people. Hmm, next time I think we'll go during the week and not on a holiday :)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Why Is Hair Such Big Deal

My question to ponder for the day:  Why is hair such a big deal?

Why might I ponder such a question?  Glad you asked, because I'm going to tell you.  In the past week, hair has been the topic of discussion/debate around here frequently.  You might not have hair issues in YOUR family, but we have them here.  Let me fill you in.

Let's start with Aidan.  Aidan wants to wear his hair in locs.  I was fine with that, Dad was not.  I say was fine with it because now I am not so sure anymore.  Why the change of heart?  Well, I read a really interesting blog post on locs and this post produced a very long discussion on hairstyles on the adoption forum I participate in.  Hard to believe but 6+ pages were spent discussing whether it is a good or bad thing for parents to allow their children to have locs.  Wow, that's a lot of talk about HAIR!  Actually, the discussion was not strictly about hair, but rather what are the societal implications of certain hair styles.  Who knew that hair said so much?  Should we care what our hair says?

Then, yesterday, the pipe major of the pipe band Evan belongs to informs Evan that judges (in piping competitions) prefer short hair.  Say what?  What does the length of my son's hair have to do with how well he plays the pipes?  This isn't a beauty contest after all.  By all accounts, Evan is a fine, upstanding, even exceptional young man.  He is polite, God-loving, extremely bright, well-spoken 15 year old (and let's not forget, an up and coming champion piper).  That people would judge him or his character by the length of his hair really, REALLY irritates me.

Okay, now that I've gotten that off my chest I can move on to more productive things.  See you :)

In Defense Of Crying

I cry.  A lot.  Ask my children.  I embarrass them because I cry so much.  Truly.  I don't just cry when normal people cry; I cry at strange times.  

Let me give you an example.  Today, I was reading to the kids a story about David Livingstone (you know, the missionary to Africa in the 1800's) and when it was talking about Dr. Livingstone walking into the interior of Africa and seeing the wood huts with thatched roofs I started tearing up.  Okay then, that's a little weird, huh?  Actually, it brought to mind the huts we saw in Ethiopia and the hut that Marcus & Zoe used to live in...  You get the idea.  Simple words in a book can trigger all sorts of thoughts and images in my mind and then the tears start coming.  

Truth be told, I cry (get teary) while reading history to the kids at least once a week.  It doesn't matter if we're studying Napoleon or Lewis & Clark - amazing stories make me emotional!  My kids just roll their eyes at me and wait for me to gain my composure so I can continue reading.  

It's not just history though.  Other things I cry at are commercials (and not just sappy ones either), books (I was sobbing while reading Cry, the Beloved Country), movies (even some kid's movies), sporting events, reading the newspaper,etc.  You get the picture.

Now lest you think I am an emotional basket case, I'm not.  I don't get my feelings hurt easily and I'm not overly sensitive and I'm not even sad most of the time.  I just cry almost daily.

Now, this has caused some people in my family a great deal of embarrassment (kids!), so I thought I would blog a bit on the benefits of crying.  Let's see...it keeps the tear ducts clear.  No clogged ducts here!  It is our bodies way of getting rid of those nasty stress hormones that apparently can cause all sorts of horrible illnesses and diseases and lastly, it makes you feel better.

So, I will no longer apologize when I cry while playing a board game.  Actually that's never happened....but it could :)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Random Saturday

We had quite the busy day. Nina went to a nursing home with her small group and sang to the residents and handed out Valentine's cards. Evan had his first band performance at the Scottish Ramble (if you missed it today, you can catch him tomorrow at 12:15). If you weren't there, you'll have to settle for this really lousy picture.

Lastly, Zoe, well, take a look...

Yikes! What happened to Zoe? Don't be alarmed. It happens every Saturday. I took her hair out of the braids and this is what she looked like until bath time.

There you have it. Life at our house :)

Happy Valentine's Day

I hope you all had a wonderful Valentine's Day with all of your loved ones.

Why is this girl smiling?
Well. that would be because the thing that makes Molly the happiest is being able to give gifts to her friends and family. Thankfully, Valentine's Day provided just the opportunity for Molly to shower her family and friends with gifts and that brought this beautiful smile to her face.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Now For Something Completely Different

My string of books lately has been interesting. The depressing thread started with Cold Mountain (which was strange and depressing - sorry, Jen), continued with Cry, the Beloved Country (which I loved, but sobbed through) and ended with A Brave New World (which was just plain weird and depressing, and I don't recommend). So, I moved on to a nonfiction book called No Ordinary Child. That one I could write a whole dissertation on, but I won't. I've never made so many notes in a book - mostly disagreeing with certain points in the book.

Anyway, I've decided to move on to something completely different - Master and Commander by Patrick O'Brian. I figure a good seafaring story should cheer me up nicely. Evan assures me that it's funny, but he won 't let me start reading it until he's done with it :(

As a side note - isn't it cool that I learned how to underline? HTML is kind of like learning a foreign language!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Spot The Difference

Goofy faces aside, can you spot the difference?

A First

Well, it's February and Zoe has finally gone outside to play! It's a shame that almost all of the snow has melted. What took her so long, you ask? Well, it wasn't for lack of trying on our part. For some inexplicable reason, Zoe strongly resisted the need to put on a snowsuit and boots. Instead of fighting her into the said outfit, kicking and screaming, we opted to let her stay inside when her siblings were out having a blast. That is until today. I'm not quite sure what transpired, but when I came home from the eye doctor, there was Zoe coming out the door in all her garb with her devoted sister Molly. She didn't stay out long, but it was quite an accomplishment nonetheless.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

It's Not What It Looks Like

One Thing

One thing I love about being a mom...

I absolutely LOVE getting my hair combed and I love having kids who will do this for me for hours on end!  Although, I have to say a few times I think Zoe was trying to get back at me for doing her hair :)

Punctuation

Punctuation is the bane of my existence!

Okay, that might be a little strongly stated, but I really don't know how to use commas and semi-colons, etc. If it weren't for teaching my kids I would be a total wreck in the punctuation department. So there you have it, another great benefit of homeschooling: Mom gets to learn all the things she never learned when she was in school.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Saturday, February 7, 2009

What Is Real?

Raelea: Mom, is Hello, Kitty real?
Mom: No.
Raelea: But Mickey Mouse is real! Emily told me so.

Friday, February 6, 2009

What Do You Think

It's Friday, it's room time and I am sitting here at the computer drinking a Diet Pepsi (something I don't often do) and eating M&M's (something I do really often, but hey, they are dark chocolate and therefore medicinal...), so what type of week do you think I've had?

Btw, Raelea is feeling much better and so for the time being I have no one sick in the house (my sick husband is at work).

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Not Out Of The Woods

We're not out of the woods yet.  Although most of us are feeling much better today, poor little Raelea is still down for the count. Hopefully, she will be perking up by this afternoon. Thankfully, this is a relatively short-lived bug.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

And So It Begins

Evan took the PLAN test a few months ago.  The PLAN test is to the ACT what the PSAT is to the SAT (are you following this?).  Anyway, his results came back about two weeks ago.  I warned him that when his results came in he would start getting info on colleges in the mail - lots of info on colleges.  Well, apparently mail is quite passé.  Colleges now send e-mails to prospective students - you can tell it's been a LONG time since I was recruited for a college.  Evan started receiving advertisements for colleges at the beginning of this week.  Today, alone, he received about six of them.  This is all very interesting considering that he is only in the 10th grade and it will be a few years before he can even consider most of these schools.  To think, he's email box will be full for the next two years!

Some of the schools he's received info on so far are:Washington University (no, Aunt Kathy, he won't be going there), Washington & Lee University, Emory University, Calvin College, Knox College, Illinois Wesleyan, Baylor (Yeah, Waco), DePauw, and Colgate University (maybe they offer scholarships who brush their teeth a lot?)

I'm waiting for the emails from MIT and Stanford - the two place I considered before choosing to stay close to home at the U of MN.

And So It Continues

I've said it before, about the only time I feel like we have a lot of kids is when they are sick.  The illness that started with Aidan & Emily on Monday has now been passed on to Evan, Nina, Molly & Chris.  Thankfully, it appears to be a 24 hour thing, so hopefully by tomorrow they will all be up and running again (just in time for the next batch to get it).

As long as I stay healthy, all will be fine :)  Life doesn' twork well when Mom is incapacitated.  

I've Been Tagged

I've been tagged by my friend, Jean.  I need to post the fourth picture in the fourth file on my computer.  Well, I've had my digital camera for about four years now so this picture harkens back to when Raelea was born.Here is beautiful baby Raelea in a sweater that was worn by her birth mom, Cassandra. And now, I can' t resist posting a current picture of sweet Raelea.Here seen modeling Grandma jammies.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Knights and Fair Maidens

Every maiden needs a strong knight to protect her from the dragons in the kitchen.Oh, forsooth, these fair maidens are all alone!  No, wait, they have that big hairy creature guarding them.  Princess Lilli and Princess Raelea will be safe from all harm with their furry protector.Ah, the sweet Princess Zoe is with her favorite prince.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Happy Groundhog's Day

I could never figure out this holiday.  So, if the groundhog sees his shadow then winter will last another six weeks and if he doesn't we will get an early spring.  Another six weeks of winter IS spring coming early around here!  I just don't get it!

Scottish Ramble

Because "Nothing's Cooler than Kilts in February". I am inviting  you all, my blog friends, to come see Evan's first band performance.  The Minnesota Police Pipe Band will be performing at the Scottish Ramble at the Landmark Center in St. Paul.    They perform at 4:40 on Feb. 14 (what a great way to spend your Valentine's Day) and again at 12:15 on Feb. 15.  We'll be there for the Feb. 14 performance.  Evan will, obviously, be there for both of them.

Paying the Price

Mondays are usually hard as we get back into a  more scheduled life after the relaxed weekend, but today has been exceptionally grueling.  We enjoyed a wonderful time with friends last night, watching the Super Bowl (well, it was wonderful except that the Cardinals lost :(  ), however we got home a little late.  This means that bedtime was quite late for all of my kiddos.  As you can imagine (or maybe you can't), I have some very tired kids around here today.  Tired kids and school do not mix!

In addition, I have two kids (Aidan & Emily) who are suffering from some form of stomach/sore throat ailment.  Now this might be a result of too much junk food last night,  or it might be the crud that's been going around.  Hard to say for sure, but Aidan did throw up this morning and Emily has been laying in bed since about 9:30.

Hoping for a more enthusiastic and healthier day tomorrow.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Don't Ask

If my girls ever want to get their hair colored or straightened or anything like that, all I will have to do is pull out these pictures...