"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

Sunday, May 31, 2009


We do nicknames over here quite a bit.  Actually, We use them so much I'm amazed that my children ever learn their real names.  Now some nicknames were given for no reason at all - Tater Tot, for instance, was Aidan's nickname when he was little.  Why?  Who knows.  One day we called him that and it just stuck.  It evolved into Tate which is what his nickname is right now.

Other nicknames came about because they sound funny or nice or something like that.  Molly is frequently known as Molly Dolly and Emily is called Emilemily.  Fun to say, not too much meaning behind them.

Then, we get to the nicknames that have significance.  Raelea for instance.  When she was a baby we would wake up to sounds of Raelea jabbering in her crib.  She wasn't unhappy, but she was definitely awake before the rest of us.  She became known as Raelea Rooster or Raelea Roo for short.

Well, then we have Zoe. Her nickname is ZoBug.  You see, when I braid her hair and she sleeps on it this is what happens...

The child sprouts a pair of antennae that would make any bug jealous.  Truth be told, I have even let her go out of the house looking like this.  You gotta admit, she's the cutest little bug you've ever seen!

Oh, What Fun We Had

We had a great weekend of family fun.  We pretty much did it all: parade, picnic, movie and visit with Great Grandma.  What more could a family want in a weekend in May?

Here are the pictures to prove it:

How did we get such adorable kids??

Snickers was the only one disappointed with the picnic...(note the little white sign)

Raelea  enjoyed some quality time with Great Grandma.
We had an hysterical time using our self-timer for the first time.
More fun riding on Great Grandma's walker.
All in all it was a wonderful weekend!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Parade Season

We kicked off our parade season tonight with the band as they performed at Morristown Dam Days.  It wasn't just Evan playing tonight either, Nina & Molly served the band by being "the best banner carriers ever!"  Pretty soon our whole family is going to be involved in this "band thing."  For tonight though, the rest of the kids were more than happy to collect boatloads of candy as they watch the parade.


Yesterday, Molly entered the world of orthodontia.  After visiting three separate orthodontists to get consultations, we finally chose one.  Molly had her first appointment yesterday.  No doubt we will be spending MUCH time at that office over the next two+ years.  

She had her impressions made which is a rather traumatic and unenjoyable event.  I still remember having mine done some 30+ years ago.  Molly has inherited my penchant to gag when things are stuck far back in her mouth.  She survived the ordeal though with her ever present smile on her face - and little spacers place between her back teeth.  She has now entered the world of "no sticky foods, no chewy foods and no chewing hard foods."  Fun, fun, fun!

At her next visit in two weeks she will be fitted out with all sorts of metal appliances which will, no doubt, set off metal detectors at the airport.  I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Molly Wins

Not soccer this time. This week she won - Most Trips to the ER for our family award. For all eight children combined we have made a total of five visits to the ER; two were for Evan and three, as of last night, were for Molly! What's with that? You would think Aidan would be in there somewhere!

So why, you might ask, was Molly in the ER last night? While I was grocery shopping, Chris called me and told me that he was taking her in because she was having really severe stomach pains. He felt like it would be best to get it checked out, so off they went. The long and short of it is that everything appears to be fine - "come back if it gets worse or moves to the lower right side."

Personally, I was relieved that it wasn't related to the maple seeds she was eating earlier in the day (you know, the helicopter ones). Well, as I found out last night, maple seeds are edible, both raw and cooked. Who knew? Why was Molly eating maple seeds? I haven't the foggiest idea. Maybe she didn't have enough to eat for lunch.

For you curious types the other four ER visits consist of the following events:
Evan - severe back pain - thought he might have a kidney infection
Evan- broke his leg playing basketball with Dad
Molly - I thought she swallowed a coin - after about three hours in the ER with all the kids (the twins were one at the time) I remembered that I had given her a chewable vitamin C and that is what she had gagged upon
Molly - stitches on her forehead when she slipped on the dock frame last fall

There you have it. Personally, I think we're doing pretty good considering the number of kiddos that we have.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Honey Brushed Chicken Thighs

Because Jean asked for the recipe...

Honey Brushed Chicken Thighs
2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. ground red pepper
8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
Cooking spray
6 Tbls. honey
2 tsp. cider vinegar

1. Preheat broiler

2. Combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl.  Add chicken to bowl; toss to coat.  Place chicken on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray.  Broil chicken 5 minutes on each side.

3. Combine honey and vinegar in a small bowl, stirring well.  Remove chicken from oven; brush 1/4 cup honey mixture on chicken.  Broil 1 minute.  Remove chicken from oven and turn over.  Brush chicken with remaining honey mixture.  Broil 1 additional minute or until chicken is done.  yield 4 servings.

Rocks, Sticks and Water

Those three words pretty much sum up my pictures from our weekend. Get ready for a photo extravaganza!

Most of Saturday afternoon was spent constructing a dam at the mouth of the river.  What a great way to keep lots of children busy :)
One thing teenage boys are really good at!
Every dam construction project needs a foreman.  Thanks to Yoshi for wearing all of our kids out!Some of the proud workers.  As you can see anyone over, say, five was conscripted.

Not all worked - some opted to watch the construction.

Some rocks were used just to sit upon.

Some sticks were meant to e tossed into Lake Superior.

Many rocks ended up in pockets (and now in the washer and dryer).
Some sticks were still alive and meant to be climbed.

Okay, we did do other things that had nothing to do with rocks, sticks and water, but you'll have wait until later to see those pictures.

I Can't Find The Time

To blog right now - I'm buried in laundry from our camping trip - really, really dirty laundry. Hopefully, I will get out from under the giant pile later today :)

I hope you all had a wonderful Memorial Day!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Leaving Again?

Sorry for the scarcity of posts this week, having been gone all last weekend and preparing to leave again this weekend has left me with little time for blogging. How sad is that?

Let's see, what have I done this week? Hmm, lots of laundry which I was able to hang out on the clothes lines due to some really stiff winds (so strong that they were blowing the clothes across the yard). It's testing time here, too. MN state law requires annual standardized testing of homeschooled children, so I had the pleasure of administering the Iowa Basics Test to four of my children and one of their friends. Glad that's over for another year...

But mostly, I spent the week preparing for our coming weekend of camping :) We leave tomorrow afternoon and will be gone until Monday. Have I told you lately that I LOVE camping - truly, I do. We are going up to the North Shore (Lake Superior for you non-Minnesotans). The weather is going to be a little chilly (low of 39 a couple nights), but it's supposed to be sunny and the highs are in the low to mid-60's. This is our second year of group camping with a group of friends where kids WAY outnumber adults. Wait until you see the pictures. This year I think there will be 12 adults and 36 kids - I can't wait. It should be a thoroughly entertaining time.

Hope you have a great weekend and don't forget to remember all the men and women who have fought and died and those who continue to fight and die for our freedom. Have a great Memorial Day!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

She Must Have Been Sleepy

When I went in to wake up Raelea and Zoe after nap time,this is what I found...Yes, she is still alive - just asleep in a very strange position.  Methinks she was waiting for room time to end when she unwillingly succumbed to sleep.



Apparently today was the day that all baby squirrels were released from their nests, high up in the trees, to begin life in earnest.  How do I know this?  Well, this morning as I was sitting on my couch reading my Bible, I was entertained quite thoroughly by about 10 little squirrels running around the trees and through our yard.  Apparently, the favorite game of little squirrels is tag, as most of them spent the greater part of the morning chasing each other here and there, up and down trees, across the lawn, across our deck, etc.

Now, it's a good thing that God made squirrels so darn cute, because as they were frolicking in my yard, they were also digging up the newly planted flowers that I put in last week (grr) and taking a dust bath in the pot of cilantro that I potted yesterday (double grr).  

While last year the little bunnies were my nemesis, it appears that the squirrels are out to get me this year...

Sunday, May 17, 2009


I am home again with all my little munchkins after a restful and relaxing weekend away with my dear hubby. What was supposed to be a weekend of biking and relaxing turned into a weekend of eating chocolate and relaxing due to the inclement weather on Saturday. (cold and very windy) We made a whirlwind tour of all the good chocolate dealers in the Mississippi River valley surrounding Lake City. Who knew there were so many people selling gourmet chocolates in places such as Wabasha and Lake City?

I discovered two things about myself during this weekend away:
1) I don't sleep very well in strange houses when I'm not with my children. I'm not sure if it was the different house/bed or the being away from my kids, but I had two pretty lousy night sleeps.

2) When I am at home taking care of life and kids, etc. that occupies all of my brain's thinking capacity; therefore, I am more or less unable to have a creative thought even if my life depended on it. When I am away from all of my normal responsibilities my capacity for thinking about other things GREATLY increases. I really enjoyed being able to ponder things besides: what's for breakfast, lunch or dinner and how am I going to get all the laundry done :)

A special and huge THANK YOU to Dan & Lori for watching our gang. Just to give you an idea of what they were dealing with all weekend her is a picture of them with all our kids and their kids.

Friday, May 15, 2009


Farewell to my blog friends and family.  Chris & I are going away to a Bed & Breakfast for the weekend :)  Our first get-away like that in many years.  Our dear friends Dan and Lori have volunteered to take all of our kids for the weekend (adding them to their four).

I'll see you all when we get back on Sunday.


Thursday, May 14, 2009


In order to avoid two kids in different sports in the fall, we decided that Molly should participate in spring soccer this year. Her team is undefeated with a 2-0-1 record (much better than her last year's team record of 0-12). She loves playing soccer and her skills are improving every day.And this is how she felt at the end of the game.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Community Service Event

Evan got the privilege of playing his pipes today for the Minneapolis 3rd Precinct Police Open House.  The band and its members perform at many community service type events through out the year.  This was Evan's first opportunity to do a solo community service event (along with Mark, the drummer).  They did a great job.

Monday, May 11, 2009

They're Back

My spring allergies, that is. I sat down to enjoy Molly's first soccer game of the season and, wham, like a freight train hit me, I'm clawing at my eyes and sneezing. This does not bode well for the rest of her soccer season, as most of her games are at this same field. Apparently, the trees I am allergic to are in abundance in the area :(

Because I feel lousy, I'm off to bed and it's only 9:15.

Tomorrow will be better...

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day, Mom!

Ten Things I Appreciate About MY Mom
1. She stayed home with me when I was little.
2. She taught me to sew.
3. She taught me to cook.
4. She likes to go camping.
5. She can portage a canoe.
6. She could help me with my calculus and physics in high school.
7. She's not afraid of bugs, or ticks, or worms, or snakes, or mice - actually, I don't think she's afraid of anything :)
8. She let me take piano lessons.
9. She loves me even when she doesn't agree with me.
10. She's one of the most intelligent people I know.

I love you, Mom! You're the best!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

First Place

If you can't brag about your kids on your blog, where can you do it??

Evan took first place in his solo competition today (granted it was only him and one other guy, but it was first place nonetheless). He did a GREAT job, despite the absolutely bitter weather while he performed - hard to get your fingers to move when they're FROZEN!

His band did not place, but the other grade levels for the MPPB took home first and second place medals! Yeah, band! Evan will now be playing with the Grade 4 band (one level up from where he played today) in his next competition in June.  

Now for some other photos from the day...Hmm, they look kind of COLD!!  
Nina made a new friend.

Lots of people threw heavy objects.
And then there was lots more of this...

Friday, May 8, 2009

I Have The BEST Friends!

I just read my e-mail and my dear friend Karen sent me this link

I was laughing so hard I cried.

What Am I Doing Now?

The same thing I was doing last night at this time!

Okay, I know you are all in suspense and no one has yet guessed what I have my toes in or why.

Well, this is the part of the blog where I tell you embarrassing stuff about myself.  That hasn't happened in awhile, so it's long overdue.

I have a confession to make.  It's embarrassing, but I'll get over it.  I have...I have...toe nail fungus.  Ewww!   And Jen, that is why I am not having, nor have I ever had a pedicure :(  Okay, will you all still be my friends??

Anyway, I've had this little fungi problem for about 30 years, so it really doesn't bother me much.  I've considered taking the antifungal medication to try to get rid of it but 1)the medicine is really hard on your liver and 2)it doesn't always work on bad cases of toe nail fungus.  So, instead of risking damage to my liver I've decided to just live with the fungi and the ugly toenails that result.

Until yesterday that is!  Yesterday, I decided to take matters into my own hands and try a home remedy for these little plantoids under my toe nails.  A friend of mine told me some time ago that soaking your toes in apple cider vinegar will cure toenail fungus!  Who knew?  Apparently apple cider vinegar is an antifungal.  Who knew that either?

I'm not sure how long I will have to do this - maybe every day for five years for all I know, but I thought I would give it a try.  I'll keep you posted - I know you'll all be waiting with bated breath to hear the results!   In the meantime, my toes will smell like strange pickles.

Okay, this is a fitting moment to share with you one of my favorite jokes (those that know me are now groaning), but here we go anyway...

A mushroom walks into the bar and says, "I'd like a beer."
The bartender says, "I'm sorry we don't serve your kind here."
To which the mushroom replies, "Why not, I'm a fungi."

Now you all can groan together.

Last First

Tomorrow is Evan's last first as far as bagpiping goes (okay there may be more firsts, but this is the last one for awhile - I think - well actually that's not true either, as he is performing solo at a Minneapolis Police Open House next Tuesday).  He has his first competition tomorrow - both solo and with the band.  He and the band will be competing at the Minnesota Scottish Fair & Highland Games.

His solo competition is at 10:15 (if you're interested in showing up) and the band competition is sometime after noon.  I'll let you know how he does.  He is hoping to be awarded a "Playing Above Grade Level" award, which would automatically raise him to Level 4.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

This One's for Erica

Erica requested the recipe for Chicken and Pasta in Spicy Cream Sauce, so here it is...a special thanks to Tami for sharing the recipe with me (she's right up there with Cooking Light when it comes to great recipes!).

Chicken and Pasta in Spicy Cream Sauce
2 Tbs. olive oil
2 Tbs. Minced garlic
2 tsp. dried basil
2 tsp. dried oregano
3 chicken breasts, cut into bite sized chunks

1/4 tsp. cayenne
3/4 tsp. pepper
1 1/2 tsp. salt

2 cups heavy whipping cream
2-3 cups chopped tomatoes
16 oz. fresh mushrooms
(alternates:1 jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained)

16 oz. pasta - any short tubular shape you like - penne, rotini, etc. (I actually used bowtie)
2 cups broccoli florets

Saute 1st five ingredients until chicken is cooked through; add the next 6 ingredients and simmer 5-10 minutes until cream sauce thickens a bit.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta and broccoli, drain.

Add pasta and broccoli to chicken cream sauce and heat through. Serve with fresh Parmesan. This serves 6-8 people.

Who Needs TV?

With these two around, we certainly don't. I'm not sure what language their speaking most of the time, but I am sure they will be on Broadway someday.

You'll NEVER Guess What I'm Doing

I KNOW that none of you are going to be able to guess what I'm doing right now....I'll even give you a picture-clue....Any guesses?  No, it's not what it looks like, so guess again!  I won't tell you until I get a few guesses.....

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

To Blog or Not To Blog

That is the question.  No, I'm not going to give up The Zoo, don't worry.  I'm pondering whether to start another blog to discuss current events/news stories.  You see, I have all sorts of opinions on "things".  I expound at great length to my patient husband on those "things", but I don't blog about them because that is NOT what this blog is about.  If I started a second blog, only those of you that wanted to "get into a discussion" about current news would go there and the rest of you could stay here.

I am my father's daughter and I love a good debate and I'm kind of itching for a blog where I can get into some of those good debates.  Not a name-calling, "what an idiotic idea" sort of debate, but a productive one where we could really discuss issues.

So what do you think, to blog or not to blog?

Fun Photos

Not to be confused with Photo Fun.

Marcus & Zoe enjoying the great outdoors from the deck. How nice it is to be able to sit out on the deck in shorts!
Molly & Mom being goofy.
My two littlest cuties.
Checking out Zoe's hair in the mirror (a favorite pastime when I'm done doing her hair - or in the middle of doing her hair for that matter)
The favorite pastime of my boys.
Have I said lately that "I LOVE spring"?