"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, December 30, 2010

Feed My Starving Children

Okay, here is my unashamed plug for an outstanding organization.  Feed My Starving Children is a non-profit which began here in Minnesota, to provide food for starving children throughout the world.  If you live in MN or IL, I strongly encourage you to go and volunteer at their sites, helping to pack food to be sent  to children in need.  Not only is it a wonderful program that is saving lives worldwide, volunteering there is an absolute blast!  I don't know where else you can have so much fun doing something so good!

If you don't live in MN or IL, consider donating money to the organization.  Just 19 cents will provide a meal for a child suffering from starvation.  Only 6% of the money donated goes towards administration costs, so you can be assured that most of your monetary gift will, indeed, be helping to feed children.  Also, the organization does not with through governments, so the food truly does reach the kids it is intended to help.

Enough said, now for some pictures....

This year, Marcus & Raelea were tall enough to scoop food.  Chicken, veggies, soy, rice.  Chicken, veggies, soy, rice.

Nina & Molly enjoyed working with their cousin Maggie.

Deb had the weighing job.

And so did Ian.

Mom looks like she's supervising :-)

Chicken, veggies, soy, rice.
 Even Zoe could help this year!  Last year she was on my back to whole time.  SHe did a GREAT job packing the boxes with Auntie Joy.

Dad had to be farmed out to another family's table.  Every group there was a family this time.  That's pretty cool!

So there you have it.  First you had Fun With Hairnets, now you have Fun In Hairnets!

Fun With Hairnets

Just when you thought nothing could be more dull than hairnets, along comes this blog to show you that hairnets are actually a great source of entertainment!

Yes, Peter, if you have a head you need a hairnet, even if that head has no hair :-)

Only the young and beautiful can pull off the hairnet fashionably.

Dad demonstrating the "Over-the-hat" style of hairnet fashion.

 Chris, Marcus & Zoe demonstrating the "Over-the-face" style.
 Dad - when you have hair on many parts of your head you need to net it, right?

 Marcus shows us how to attach the net to the very back of your head.

So, now you know, that hairnets are no longer the boring accessory of food service anymore.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

It's All About Interpretation

Dad:"Molly, don't push your sister."

Molly: "I wasn't pushing. I was assisting."

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Saga Continues

Just when I thought the "perfect" stocking stuffer for Evan was on its way...I got an e-mail from Amazon.com saying "Your order with _____ has been cancelled."  No explanation, just that it had been cancelled.

Okay, at least the TWO cancellations I got from Half.com came with an explanation of WHY the order was cancelled (and apologies).  This one gave virtually NO explanation at all (and no apology), just told me that they weren't going to send the item that they claimed they had and that I purchased.

Okay, so here's the question:  How can it be that THREE sellers, ALL posted an item for sale that they really did not have for sale?  It should be noted that all THREE of these sellers had great satisfaction ratings.  Hmm, how do you get a great satisfaction rating when you list items for sale that you don't really have?  Something is amiss, methinks.

Could it be that if you post a negative comment about a seller, they just may retaliate and post a negative comment on you?  Who knows, but I am a bit miffed....

Not to give up too easily though, I have again ordered the item from yet another seller.  Who knows, maybe the fourth time is a charm.

Stay Tuned

Don't worry, I haven't fallen off the face of the earth.  Believe it or not, our holiday festivities and activities are still in full swing over here :-)  I will have a wonderful post (with pictures)...soon.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Oh, Come On!

So, you know that nice little post I wrote on Tuesday about being thankful for expedited shipping?  Well, I'm not so thankful today.  Here is my tale of woe...

On Tuesday morning I ordered a "perfect" stocking stuffer for Evan from Half.com.  Seeing as Christmas was just a few days hence, I requested expedited shipping (by clicking the little button on the page).  On Wednesday (late afternoon) I get an email from from the seller that (OOPS!) they can't do expedited shipping on this item, so they canceled the order.  Now, when I went back out to Half.com, this seller no longer had this item listed, for expedited shipping or otherwise.  Strange.

Anyway, I found another seller on Half.com selling the same item for slightly more money.  I resigned myself that the item would NOT arrive by Christmas, so I just ordered it with regular shipping (expedited wasn't even offered).  Lo and behold, a few hours later I got an email from this new seller stating that (OOPS!) they really didn't have that item anymore.  Not quite sure how that happened, but oh well, we'll refund your money.

So, now I'm really unhappy!  What's a girl to do?  Well, I totally abandoned Half.com.  I've had enough of that sort of...stuff.  I found the item on Amazon for slightly more than the second one I tried to purchase (this is starting to be an expensive stocking stuffer).  I haven't gotten an emails telling me that this latest purchase has somehow gone wrong (like the horse ate it, or something), so I am ever so slightly hopeful that, some day, Evan will indeed get his stocking stuffer.

Zoe Quotes

Zo-Zo was quite a character today.  She started the day with this quote - "One muffin is sufficient for me."

Sufficient?  From a four year-old?  Okay then.

Then this evening after I called her Baby (my nickname for all my little ones), she informs me, "I am not a Baby, I'm a Sweetie!"

And so she is :-)

Merry Christmas Eve Eve

We believe in beginning the celebration early, so let me wish you a Merry Christmas Eve Eve!

Since not all my blog buddies and Facebook friends are on my Christmas list, I've decided to post our Christmas letter here.  For those of you who are waiting for your letter in the mail...IT'S COMING :-)  We mailed the bulk of them out today, so they should be in your mailbox tomorrow (for those that are local) or Monday (for everyone else).

Enjoy, just one more edition of this Crazy Mom's Christmas creativity...

Christmas Update

The following document is a TOP SECRET summary of the J*Family’s activities over the past 12 months.  Information found herein was released to Wikileaks by an unnamed source, although there are strong indications the J* family’s dog, Snickers, is responsible.  It reveals potentially humbling and embarrassing information about the J* Family.

**** CHRISTOPHER **** Mr. J* began the year as an independent consultant, but in April went back to his previous employer, the Federal Reserve Bank.  Mr. J* continues to maintain his persona of household maintenance dude, kids’ sport fan, devoted follower of Jesus, and all-around family man.
**** BARBARA **** Started an unlicensed chauffer business out of her home, frequently seen shuttling children here, there, and everywhere.  She was absent from her abode for two brief stints over the course of the year.  During her absence she was spotted first in the Boundary Waters and a few weeks later in Scotland. 
**** EVAN **** Continues his disguise as an up-and-coming bagpiper/college student.  It’s a disguise that allows him to blend in quite easily with his surroundings.  He was frequently sighted at Scottish highland games throughout the Midwest and then in Scotland.  He no longer requires the chauffer services offered by Barbara, in fact, it appears that he is in the process of stealing some of her business.
**** NINA **** Appears to be pursuing some sort of future in electronics through the near continual use of devices such as the telephone, iPod, computer, etc.  She was extracted only briefly from her electronics tether for a get-away-from-it-all trip to the BWCA.  Friends, music and nail polish all occupy her time as well, and do not interfere with her technological learning.
**** MOLLY **** Judging by the amount of metal in Molly’s mouth, it appears that she has some sort of secret communication device planted in there.  She takes monthly visits to have the wiring tweaked.  She may have been trying to make transmissions from “Church Camp” in June and the Boundary Waters in August.
**** AIDAN JOHNSON **** Appears to be the “muscle” in the family.  Under the auspices of playing football, basketball, soccer, baseball, etc., he is really in training for dangerous missions.  In fact, our source has witnessed Aidan undertake many dangerous missions over the course of the year.

**** EMILY **** Has left a very lengthy paper trail.  Wikileaks has obtained hundreds of documents produced by Emily.  Most of them involve pictures of very large families or stories about animals that can talk. Emily is known to have secret rendezvous with her friends while playing indoor soccer or attending church.

**** MARCUS **** Provides much of the manual labor in the J* home.  We might conclude that he is being used as some sort of slave if our source did not witness him continually volunteering for a variety of work assignments.  He also appears to be in training for just about every sport in existence.

**** RAELEA **** Apparently is participating in some sort of espionage involving a great deal of cardboard and the filling out of many forms.  We have reason to believe that she is constructing a spy satellite completely out of cardboard.

**** ZOE **** Is the public relations person for the J* family.  She puts everyone at ease by her cheerful smile and goofy countenance so that no one will really suspect what she is up to.  It seems her primary concern is sneaking candy from the cupboard without the knowledge of her parents.

And the greatest secret of all to be revealed:
But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.               Titus 3:4-7

In summary, Wikileaks has determined the J* family members are really agents on a mission from God.  New leaks are posted weekly at http://barbandchriszoo.blogspot.com/

Merry Christmas!  Stay informed!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Thank You!

This is a thank you to all the retailers who are staying open extra late for people like me who shop extra late.  Another thank you to those retailers who offer discounted expedited shipping for shoppers like me who wait until the last minute to get the perfect gift.  If it weren't for expedited shipping, I would have had to settle for a less than perfect gift, which just would not do.

I am happy.  I am done.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Book Recommendation

Never before have I recommended a book before finishing it, but there's a first time for everything.  So without further adieu, I recommend to you The Count of Monte Cristo, the classic by Alexandre Dumas.  I''m not very far into it yet, but already I can't put it down.  Chris & Evan both assured me that it was one of the best books EVER.  I think they were right.

It's not a short book, but it's not terribly difficult either.  So, if you're looking for a good book to curl up with on the cold winter nights, this would be it.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Speaking of Traditions

After my post about Christmas traditions, I began to think of some of the traditions my family had while I was growing up.  The one that I find the most amusing is this...

Whether we were at home for Christmas or at my grandparents' house, we always left a little treat out for Santa on Christmas Eve.  We were told that he would surely be hungry when he stopped to deliver our presents, so we left out a plate of Christmas cookies and a beer.  In the morning there was usually a cookie left with a bite taken out of it, but the beer was all gone :-)

It wasn't until I was an adult that I realized that most people leave cookies and MILK for Santa!  Who knew?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Happy Birthday, Most Wonderful Husband!

Yes, today is the official end of birthday season at our house - Chris' birthday!  He has so patiently waited through nine other birthdays to finally arrive at his.  What a trouper!  He hardly ever whined or complained, "When is it going to be my turn?" or "When do I get my presents?"  Way to go, Chris!

Seriously though, he is the very best husband for whom I could ask! (I'm working on my grammar)

I love you, Chris!  Sorry, you'll need to wait a few more days before we can celebrate your birthday, but for today, we love you and we'll do our best to make the day special in the brief time that we will actually see you :-(

Okay, I'm trying to find a picture of you to put out here, and do you know what I've discovered?  We hardly have any pictures of you!  Well, that's not entirely true.  It seems that every time I point of a camera at you, your face goes into some sort of spasm and I end up with pictures like these...
And there are a lot that look like this...
Oh, wait, here's a nice one...

Love you, Babe!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Of Trees and Tree Skirts

I'm all about traditions over here, especially when they involve Christmas!  Just ask my husband.  He discovered this little quirk of mine right before we got married.  Since we married at the end of November, the holiday season was already upon us when we said "I do!"  I think he was under the impression that I was a blank slate when it came to "how the holidays should be celebrated."  Hmm!  Boy, was he surprised!

I won't bore you with all my quirky holiday "musts," but a couple of them are 1)You must decorate for Christmas immediately after Thanksgiving, preferably the very next day, 2) You must go to a tree farm and physically cut down your own tree, and 3) You must hang Christmas lights on the outside of your house (to be turned on the day after Thanksgiving)!

Thankfully, Chris has gone along reasonably agreeably with these "musts."  In fact, he added the tradition of cutting down the tree on his birthday, which isn't always possible to do, but we try.  To the traditions we brought into our marriage we have since added a few of our own.  One of those is that whenever and wherever we go on vacation, we need to bring back a Christmas ornament to remember the time.  Because of this, we have things like scorpions, buffalo, ocean freighters, lighthouses, and seashells on our tree.

In addition, all of the kids have certain ornaments that are special to them, so when we decorate the tree there is a specific order of things.  It is a major offense to put up an ornament "belonging" to someone else!  Okay, maybe not, but they do like to hang their ornaments  :-)

A few years back we started the tradition of putting the kids' hand prints on our tree skirt (an idea from Family Fun magazine).  It has been very fun watching their hand sizes grow over the years.  Two years ago our first hand tree skirt filled up and (gasp) it has taken me this long to make a new one :-(  Here is the old one...

I don't have a picture of the new one yet because I'm not done with it :-(  I ran out of paint, so I haven't put the pets' paw prints on it yet.  The only downside to the custom tree skirt thing is that I can't give away or throw away our old skirts, so what do I do with them?  By the time the kids are grown and gone I will have at least three (maybe four) tree skirts!  (we fill them up pretty quickly with eight hands, especially as those hands get larger)  Ahh well, they will bring back many memories each year as I unpack them with the Christmas stuff on the day after Thanksgiving!

Well, That Was Fun

In a wintery weather sort of way.  We had a little snowfall here over the weekend...

Here's the neighbor's car, buried in a drift of snow.  I think we got about 20 inches, but the wind was blowing quite a bit, so the drifts were much deeper.

Chris managed to get out for some snowshoeing and photography :-)
It's not often that we get snowed in here in MN (due to the generally excellent snow removal), but this weekend was one of those rare occasions.  It was so nice to not be able to go anywhere!  Everyone was home the entire weekend which NEVER happens anymore.

I baked two batches of cookies and some bread and Nina made some fudge because there's nothing better than baking/cooking when you're snowed in!  By noon on Sunday our street had been plowed and Chris a few kids were able to get to the tree farm to cut down our Christmas tree.

It was a good weekend!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Candy-making Extravaganza

For what has become an annual Christmas tradition, the kids and I spent the day yesterday with my dad learning the fine art of candy-making.  We're not talking the "mix together some fudge and call it a day" sort of candy-making; this was the "make something that is as much a work of art as a tasty treat" sort of candy-making.

My dad has been perfecting his candy making skills for over 25 years.  Every year he makes many, many pounds of candy, of which we have consumed more than our fair share.  A few years back, we decided that we should learn from him how to do this candy-making thing, since it is very beneficial to learn from someone who already knows what they are doing.  Beginning candy makers make a lot of mistakes (usually tasty mistakes that don't look too well), so if we can learn from someone who already knows what they are doing we won't make so many mistakes.

Anyway, yesterday we spent about six hours making candy with Dad and came home with about ten pounds of candy (we used a little over five pounds of chocolate).  We made chocolate covered cherries, peanut butter cups and turtles.  I would have loved to have made more, but there is only so much time in a day :-(

Here Nina is getting a lesson from Grandpa on the proper temperature for the carmel/ nut mixture when making turtles.

Molly and Emily painting the chocolate into the molds for the peanut butter cups. 

 Nameless hands filling the cups with the peanut butter mixture.

 Some of the finished chocolate covered cherries (my personal favorite!!!)

What I've learned over the past few years is that candy-making is all about proper temperature, keeping the chocolate "uncontaminated", and paying attention to detail.

Thanks, Dad, for teaching us!  It is always great spending the day with you.  Thank you, too, for your patience in doing this candy thing with all my kids running around.  I know it's not the peaceful environment your used to when making your candy, but you put up with us so patiently!  Next year we'll do raspberry cremes :-)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Well, These Are Helping

We're paying $6000 for what??

Lovely, I know!  Yes, after a more than a year of braces, this is what Molly looks like!

Okay, maybe not quite.  She showed me this neat little trick she can do with her "appliances" and it makes her, oh, so attractive.

For those that are wondering, those metal pieces holding back her mouth are part of something called a MARA, which is just another word for "let's see how much metal we can cram into young peoples' mouths, to cause pain and suffering and, oh yeah, to push their lower jaw forward."  The good news in all of this is that the MARA is coming off next month.  YAY!  Only to be replaced by bands on all her lower teeth.  

Hang in there, Molly, it WILL all be worth it :-)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Happy Birthday, Marcus!!!

Hard to believe, Marcus, but you are really, truly seven!  Even harder to believe is that this is what you looked like when we first saw you...

You were so...little :-)

And now....

You are a strapping young lad :-)

Your smile and sweet countenance bring joy to our hearts and we are so very thankful that God brought you to our family!  We love you, Marcus!!!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

******RODENT ALERT******

Just when you thought it was safe to go into the laundry room....

What should mosey out from under the freezer?  Um, I'm not really sure what it was, although I did get a good look at it as it appeared to be in no hurry.  It was black, about three inches long and had a very short tail.  Definitely NOT a mouse.

I saw it again when it meandered back to its cozy little spot under the freezer.  It appeared one last time and scurried quite quickly into the storage room because of my loud protestations over its presence in my house.

So what exactly is this unwelcome visitor?  Molly theorizes that it is the offspring of our frequently wayward hamster and a lonely mouse, which would make it a "mamster" or perhaps a "house."  More likely it's a shrew or a vole.  I saw something that looked just like our house guest run across the snow the other night in our front yard.  Maybe it's the same one, who knows?  He looked like he was looking for a place to stay....

Upon further consideration, we have determined that our visitor is, more likely than not, a vole.

Isn't he cute?  The one I saw wasn't nearly this cute, and tomorrow he won't be nearly this alive either :-)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Piping Results

The final results for the 2010 Bagpiping Competition season have come in.  I know you all have been waiting with bated breath for this moment.  Here's how it all shook out for the year.

Minnesota Police Pipe Band Grade 3 (Evan's band) took Champion Supreme honors for the second year in a row.  Yay, MPPB!

Evan took first place for Grade 4 6/8.  Playing with pneumonia in St. Louis was worth it, according to Evan.

Evan's friends and fellow band members did as follows:

Joel Sarapas: Grade 3 - 1st Strathspey/reel, 1st Piobreachd, 2nd 2/4 March, 5th Jig
Abby Peterson: Grade 4 -Champion Supreme overall, 2nd 2/4 March, 3rd 6/8, 3rd Piobreachd
Alyssa Gregory: Grade 3 - 2nd Jig
Ian Elias:Grade 4 - 3rd 6/8

Ian Peterson: Tenor drum -  Novice Tenor 1st, Group Tenor 1st
Wayne Sanford -- Drum Major 2nd
Sheila Loucks -- Drum Major 3rd

Way to go Evan, Joel, Abby, Alyssa, Ian, Ian, Wayne, & Sheila!  You guys rock!  Can't wait for 2011 season to begin.  It's going to be AMAZING, just wait and see!!

Now you can all go about your daily lives without wasting hours each day wondering, "How did the MPPB do this year?"

Sunday, December 5, 2010

A Bit Of Culture

I was just introduced to this poem today.  I liked it, and I thought I would pass it on to you.

Character of the Happy Warrior

by William Wordsworth

  Who is the happy Warrior? Who is he
That every man in arms should wish to be?
—It is the generous Spirit, who, when brought
Among the tasks of real life, hath wrought
Upon the plan that pleased his boyish thought:
Whose high endeavours are an inward light
That makes the path before him always bright;
Who, with a natural instinct to discern
What knowledge can perform, is diligent to learn;
Abides by this resolve, and stops not there,
But makes his moral being his prime care;
Who, doomed to go in company with Pain,
And Fear, and Bloodshed, miserable train!
Turns his necessity to glorious gain;
In face of these doth exercise a power
Which is our human nature's highest dower:
Controls them and subdues, transmutes, bereaves
Of their bad influence, and their good receives:
By objects, which might force the soul to abate
Her feeling, rendered more compassionate;
Is placable—because occasions rise
So often that demand such sacrifice;
More skilful in self-knowledge, even more pure,
As tempted more; more able to endure,
As more exposed to suffering and distress;
Thence, also, more alive to tenderness.
—'Tis he whose law is reason; who depends
Upon that law as on the best of friends;
Whence, in a state where men are tempted still
To evil for a guard against worse ill,
And what in quality or act is best
Doth seldom on a right foundation rest,
He labours good on good to fix, and owes
To virtue every triumph that he knows:
—Who, if he rise to station of command,
Rises by open means; and there will stand
On honourable terms, or else retire,
And in himself possess his own desire;
Who comprehends his trust, and to the same
Keeps faithful with a singleness of aim;
And therefore does not stoop, nor lie in wait
For wealth, or honours, or for worldly state;
Whom they must follow; on whose head must fall,
Like showers of manna, if they come at all:
Whose powers shed round him in the common strife,
Or mild concerns of ordinary life,
A constant influence, a peculiar grace;
But who, if he be called upon to face
Some awful moment to which Heaven has joined
Great issues, good or bad for human kind,
Is happy as a Lover; and attired
With sudden brightness, like a Man inspired;
And, through the heat of conflict, keeps the law
In calmness made, and sees what he foresaw;
Or if an unexpected call succeed,
Come when it will, is equal to the need:
—He who, though thus endued as with a sense
And faculty for storm and turbulence,
Is yet a Soul whose master-bias leans
To homefelt pleasures and to gentle scenes;
Sweet images! which, wheresoe'er he be,
Are at his heart; and such fidelity
It is his darling passion to approve;
More brave for this, that he hath much to love:—
'Tis, finally, the Man, who, lifted high,
Conspicuous object in a Nation's eye,
Or left unthought-of in obscurity,—
Who, with a toward or untoward lot,
Prosperous or adverse, to his wish or not—
Plays, in the many games of life, that one
Where what he most doth value must be won:
Whom neither shape or danger can dismay,
Nor thought of tender happiness betray;
Who, not content that former worth stand fast,
Looks forward, persevering to the last,
From well to better, daily self-surpast:
Who, whether praise of him must walk the earth
For ever, and to noble deeds give birth,
Or he must fall, to sleep without his fame,
And leave a dead unprofitable name—
Finds comfort in himself and in his cause;
And, while the mortal mist is gathering, draws
His breath in confidence of Heaven's applause:
This is the happy Warrior; this is he
That every man in arms should wish to be.

Friday, December 3, 2010

What They See

You just never know what is going through your kids' minds.  Well, that's not entirely true.  Ever once in a while you get a glimpse inside their thoughts, and then you discover that they have VERY STRANGE thoughts.

This morning was one of those times.

Our neighbors are apparently getting new windows today.  Our kitchen window, the one over the sink, looks out at our neighbor's house.  I noticed the window guys at our neighbor's house and stated to the kids, "It looks like the neighbors are getting new windows."  This innocent comment opened up a window for me to see into my children's thoughts...

Emily responsed, "Then they'll get rid of the Jesus on their window!"  Huh?

To which Molly responded, "That's not Jesus, it's a moose!" What??

My children are so STRANGE!

So, what was it on our neighbor's window?  A "Child Finder" sticker, albeit, a very old one that is quite worn.  I believe the picture on the sticker is a fireman climbing a ladder.  Somehow, unbeknownst to me, Molly thought it was a picture of a moose and Emily thought it was a picture of Jesus.

When Does It Start?

The Christmas season, that is.

Ive been pondering this question this morning (okay, actually only for about the last five minutes).

You see, when I was growing up we were FORBIDDEN (!!!) to listen to Christmas until AFTER Thanksgiving.  Also, Christmas lights MUST not be turned on (notice I did not say put up) until AFTER Thanksgiving.  So, what do I do the day after Thanksgiving?  Turn on the Christmas lights and music and put up all my decorations. Perhaps the day after Thanksgiving is the start of the Christmas season?

Or maybe, just maybe, Christmas starts when I get my first Christmas card in the mail which this year just happened to arrive on...the day after Thanksgiving. 

Maybe it starts on the first Sunday of Advent.  (last Sunday)

Perhaps it starts when I start baking Christmas cookies (always after Thanksgiving, but usually not the day after).  Perchance it starts tonight when I join my mom, sister-in-law, nieces, sister, and select daughters in a Ladies' Christmas Night Out )an annual occurrence that occurs the first Friday of Dec.)?  Maybe it starts tomorrow when we celebrate Christmas with Chris' side of the family (the first Sat. of Dec. every year)?  Or maybe it's when we cut down our Christmas tree, traditionally on Chris' birthday (15th), but this year on the 10th?

Oh, no, I just had another thought...when does the Easter season begin?  That one is easier for me.  Everyone knows it begins on Dec. 25, because for Jesus to die for us, first he had to come to earth and that we celebrate on Dec. 25.

And now you see how my mind works.  It's a scary thing to behold!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Um, Not Quite...

Conversation from school -

Mom: "Molly, do you know what depreciation is?"

Molly: "Yes!"

Mom: (a bit surprised) "Okay, tell me what depreciation is?

Molly: "It's when you don't appreciate someone anymore."

Sunday, November 28, 2010

They're In The Mail

Surprises, that is.  Apparently we forgot to bring in our mail on Friday and Saturday, so when we went to get it this morning the box was quite full.  There were several unique and surprising things about the mail today:

1) We received our first Christmas card.  Maybe not so unique since it is after Thanksgiving, but a pleasant surprise nonetheless.

2) Said Christmas card and another letter had been torn open by some vandal who apparently went through our mailbox looking for...something.  Thankfully, it was a kind vandal who did not leave our mail strewn about the street, but returned it all to the mailbox.  Very strange!

3) Evan received a long awaited acceptance letter from a local university.  It is his third acceptance letter, but this one came with a Presidential scholarship offer ($10,000-$15,000).  That was a very nice surprise.  We're still waiting to hear about scholarship packages from the other universities to which he applied.  Ironically, even with this very generous scholarship, Evan would still have to come up with about $14,000 to attend this school next year :-(  Why does college have to be so expensive??  And yes, we are making our kids pay for their own way through college, big meanies that we are.

SO, the mail was quite exciting today!  Can't wait to see what's in there tomorrow :-)

Friday, November 26, 2010

I Did It

I haven't done it in a few years, but this morning I just couldn't pass up the deals.  So, I dragged my very tired body out of my warm, toasty bed at 3:45 am and traipsed off to the Mall of America to get in on the doorbusters without battling the crowds that come later in the morning.  I also made a stop at our local Target.  Despite the dark and the cold temps, I'm glad I went because I saved beaucoup bucks!  I had been watching a few items for several weeks now and I was VERY happy when I saw that they were on sale this morning :-)

I was able to get my "must buys" taken care of quickly and I was back in bed by 6:45 :-)  Hubby then let me sleep in, so I am really no worse for the wear!

We Were Thankful

I hope you all had an outstanding Thanksgiving.  Ours proceeded as usually, we went to my parents' house, relaxed, ate, talked, relaxed some more and, of course, were extremely thankful!  As a special treat this year, my sister Kathy and niece Maggie were in town (normally they only come up for Christmas, but this year we get to see them at Thanksgiving AND Christmas).

And now, something else to be thankful for...pictures!  Yes, my dear hubby has put all my pics on an external hard drive, so I can, once again, put pictures on the computer and thus on the blog :-)  Oh, what a happy day.

Anyway, here are some pics from yesterday...

My wonderful sister, Kathy, making a wonderful trifle...
 Dad, taking a break...
 Martha, I mean Molly, creating...
these...a regular army of turkeys.  My sister Deb had to work this Thanksgiving, so her Martha Stewart presence had to be channeled through my dear Molly.
 Chris & Evan in a rare moment when they weren't wrestling...

So, I am thankful for a wonderful Thanksgiving with my favorite people!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

It's A Big One

November 24, 1990 was a sunny and very cold day with a beautiful sunset here in Minnesota.

Why do I remember that?  Because 20 years ago today I married my bestest friend!  Certainly one of the very best things I've ever done.

Now, even though Chris and I were best friends when we got married, there are a few things I didn't know about him 20 years ago that I do now.  In honor of our 20th anniversary, here are 20 of them....

  1. That he would cheerfully put up with all my many quirks for decades.
  2. That he would be a great daddy.
  3. That he would bring me flowers for no reason, or because he knew I had a hard day.
  4. That he would give up watching football on Sunday afternoons to help me take care of the kids.
  5. That he would make good career choices, time and again, even if that meant changing jobs every two years.
  6. That he would look even better without hair than he did with it.
  7. That he would actually want eight kids.
  8. That he would never, EVER, yell at me - not once in 20 years of marriage, even when I've yelled at him.
  9. That he would practically push me out the door to "go buy something for yourself."
  10. That he knew how to do electrical work.
  11. That he knew how to do plumbing and, even though he HATES it, does it anyway.
  12. That when I go to Scotland without him, I would feel like it was only half the fun it would have been if he was there, too.
  13. That he would never complain about doing household chores.
  14. That he would faithfully get the kids ready for bed each night.
  15. That he would know so much more than I do about parenting teenagers :-)
  16. That he would let me sleep in on Saturday (for years) without complaining.
  17. That he HATES spiders (I found this one out in our first year of marriage...).
  18. That he would traipse around a tree lot with me and the kids to pick out the perfect Christmas tree even though he would probably be just as happy picking a pre-cut one out at a lot.
  19. That he is a morning person.
  20. That he can look good in virtually any pair of glasses.

So there you have it, 20 things I've learned about Chris in 20 years.  It is also 20 reasons why I would marry him all over again.  Happy Anniversary, Chris!  I love you!  You are, indeed, a wonderful gift from God to me!

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.            James 1:17

And now for the enjoyment (or embarrassment) of my Facebook friends and Blog buddies who were in my wedding party....

Monday, November 22, 2010

Why No Pictures

You may have noticed a dearth of pictures on the blog lately.  There is a reason for this!  You see, our hard drive on our computer is almost completely full, and do you know why that is?  Well, it's because of my thousands and thousands of pictures I have stored there.  So, I can't really put any more pictures on the computer until the problem is solved.  Don't worry, we are working on the solution, but it may take a few days...stay tuned...maybe I'll have a picture extravaganza when the problem is solved!

I Love This Season

Aside from the many traditionally wonderful things about the holiday season, my absolutely favorite thing is being visited by old friends who have moved away.  There are people in our lives with whom we can spend time and it is just so comfortable and so nice.

Tonight, we had the pleasure of being visited by friends like that.  Our dear friends Larry and Vicki stopped by for a visit with their boys Nate and Jake.  Larry & Vicki used to live just 25 minutes from us; now they are all the way in Wyoming.  While it is a beautiful place, the 12 hour commute just doesn't happen frequently :-(

Although we rarely see them anymore, we are still so fond of them and love to hang with them.  It was at their farm, here in MN, that Evan got to feed a baby calf a bottle.  It was there that we saw a cow giving birth, saw the inside of a fertilized chicken egg, climbed many rolls of hay, pet and held countless baby kittens, chased after many grown chickens, had blazing bonfires, went four-wheeling, ate outstanding hamburgers, and played the Amazing Farm Race (we won, btw).  Some of the kids had their first ride on a horse there, too.

So many memories, with such great friends! It was a wonderful night, with wonderful friends and it went by far too quickly!

In a couple days my sister Kathy will arrive with my niece and that will be wonderful too!  Now if only Isaac & Holly could come to visit my holiday would be complete...

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Don't Ask

Despite the strange face and the "cage" we've put Molly in, she is not going crazy.  Well, I mean any crazier than she has been for years. She is, in fact, trying on Evan's fencing mask/helmet thing (I haven't the foggiest idea what this thing is called).

To add to the already eclectic mix of activities that our children are involved in, Evan is taking a fencing class at school.  This week he brought home all of the fencing gear, so he and his friends can have little duels.

As you can see, it is quite the hit around here.

Friday, November 19, 2010

This Is Going To Be Difficult

I've been working on putting together a slide show thingy for Evan's graduation party.  I know that it is over six months away, but I foresee that this going to take quite a bit of time, and that is something I don't have a lot of.  Anyway, to put together said slideshow I have to 1) gather photos from the past 17 years of Evan's life and 2) listen to touching songs about your kids growing up.

Well, if that isn't enough to make me cry, I don't know what is.  So, I figure if I cry while putting this thing together for the next seven months, maybe, just maybe, I'll be able to hold it together when the actual time comes....don't count on it though!

My New Favorite Song

If you haven't noticed, I tend to change my favorite songs on a regular basis.  Well, true to form, I have a new favorite song and, not so surprising, it's a Mumford & Sons song.  This one isn't on their album though, so the only place I get to hear it is on YouTube :-(  Anyway, for your enjoyment...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I Love Having Older Kids!

While I exercised, cherry chocolate biscotti magically appeared in my kitchen! Okay, it wasn't really magic; Molly made it for me while I was downstairs sweating. So now, I feel like I need to take advantage of that post-exercise spike in my metabolism and taste test her creation :-)

Thanks, Molls!

Head Count

I was doing a head count of the kids this morning (you do these things out of habit and necessity when you have a large family) and Aidan quips, as only Aidan can, "My muscles count as another person!"

My kids may lack many things, but self-esteem is NOT one of them!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Christmas Comes Early

Snickers has been coveting her friend Quin's dog bed for quite some time, so we purchased a new bed for her for Christmas.  Seeing that she is a dog and hasn't the foggiest idea when Christmas is, we gave it to her early.  For that, she is extremely grateful!  

And So It Begins

Some years winter slowly waltzes in with a few flurries and then, perhaps, an inch of snow.  Not this time, not today!  She came in with one big, heavy snowfall.

We accumulated somewhere between four and six inches today and it stuck to everything.  I ventured out a couple times and witnessed several cars in the ditches and about a dozen trees which lost branches from the weight of the snow.   I would have loved to spend the day baking nummy treats, but alas, we were also without power most of the day.

The loss of power resulted in the following words being uttered frequently, "Please, shut the door!"  It was used in reference to the refrigerator (to keep the cold air in) and the front door (to keep the cold air out).  The power has been on now for three straight hours, so I think we are out of the woods in that regard.

I hope you all had a safe and cozy day!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Need Shoes?

May I suggest that you look into purchasing a pair of TOMS shoes?  Shoe for shoe, they will give a pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair purchased.  They donate new shoes to children in Argentina, Guatemala, Ethiopia and elsewhere.  Click HERE to learn more about TOMS shoes.

Buy your shoes AND provide a pair of shoes to a child in need, all at the same time.

Monday, November 8, 2010

I Am Not Alone

Well, hello!  That's a no-brainer since I share this house with nine other people.  That's not what I meant though.  I mean, I am not alone in this struggle to find joy in the day-to-day grind of child-rearing and teaching.

Time for more true confessions from Barb.  Remember, I blog because it's cheaper than therapy.

Lately, I have been a discouraged mom.  Downhearted.  Not depressed, just not full of joy.  The issues I deal with every day in my life and the lives of my kids never seem to change.  It's hard going into each day, knowing that I will probably deal with the same sin issues in my life and my children's lives that I dealt with yesterday, and the day before that, and the day before that...  It's hard to believe that anything will EVER change.

I start the day off well.  I wake up groggy but; after a shower, some tea and, most importantly, time reading my Bible and praying, by the time my kids get up I am encouraged and joy-filled.  But then it happens, two of the kids start bickering over who's going to sit where at the table.  One of them states that they don't like what we're having for breakfast, and one takes an hour to eat one muffin.  Pretty soon, someone is found snuggling in bed reading instead of doing their chores and getting ready for school.  The line for the bathroom is three deep and the person inside the bathroom is camped out there for an eternity.  Then there is a line three deep of children needing to talk to me: one can't find a clothing item they need, one is tattling on their sibling, and one doesn't know what chapter we are reading in the Bible this morning.

Those that are on dishes duty "forget" and need to be reminded, someone falls and needs to be comforted, oh, and did anyone take care of the bunnies?  Then it's time for the first child's reading lesson, but said child is not in the "mood" for a reading lesson because playing is more fun.  Do you know how hard it is to teach a child that doesn't want to learn?  So, reading lesson takes thirty minutes instead of 15 minutes and the next child's reading lesson is either going to cut into "school time" or become nonexistent...

That brings us up to 9:00.

I could go on, but I won't.  You get the idea.

Well, I spent some time with some dear friends last night, all with more than 2.1 children (actually we average 6.3), and I discovered that every one of them feels the same way!  Now if four moms get together and they all can relate to this, I figure almost every mom out there, who is in the thick of raising kids, can relate.

This brings me to the reason for this post  No, it was not just to vent :-)  I was reading this morning and I came across the following verses....

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.  Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.  For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.  
Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.  Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for you feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.  In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.  To that end keep alert with all perseverance making supplication for all the saints. Ephesians 6:10-18 (italics mine)
It reminded me that the "battle" I am fighting today is not just one that I can see, but there is a bigger battle that is unseen.  The battle for the hearts and minds of my children, and I am deceiving myself if I think that this battle will be won in a single day (today), but I need to continue the fight and persevere with the appropriate weapons, namely prayer and faith.  

How helpful it is to me to know that I am not fighting this battle alone!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Guy Fawkes Day!

Remember, remember the fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason why gunpowder, treason
Should ever be forgot.

Once again, we are celebrating an obscure "holiday" around our house.  Raelea will forever share her birthday with Guy Fawkes Day. So, in honor of the day, Evan is having a bonfire with his friends from school.  And as is tradition, we made our own little effigy of Guy and tossed him in the flames...

Happy  Guy Fawkes Day!