"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, September 30, 2010

Strange Things!

So, Chris was at a work conference the past few days.  Nothing unusual about that, but he came home with some strange things - for a WORK conference that is.  Here is a list of some of the, er, rather unusual items they gave him at this conference:

- a classical music CD
- exercise bands
- a Pilates ball
- a whisk (a REALLY nice whisk, at that)
- a chocolate mousse mix
- a tomato-shaped timer
- many pins (although those aren't so unusual for work conferences)
- a messenger bag
- another bag sort of thing
- several books on rather non-work related subjects (exercise, diet, etc)

SO, do any of you find these items a little....bizarre....for a WORK conference?  ALTHOUGH, I can see how the exercise stuff would come in handy after eating the chocolate mousse....

He's Back, I'm Leaving

Don't worry, I'm not leaving BECAUSE he's back :-)

Chris just returned from 3 days in Chicago (work conference) and tomorrow I leave for St. Louis for, you guessed it, a bagpipe competition AND to visit my sister, Kathy.  This IS the last competition of the season!  Definitively!  Of course, that's not counting the one in Winnipeg in February....

I am driving down to Missouri tomorrow with Nina, Evan and three of his friends who are also competing. Of the four bagpipers, only two of them are healthy, so we'll see how they end up doing.  I'm not thinking we'll come home with as many medals as they usually do from these events.  Although the antibiotics are starting to make Evan feel better, his fever came back yesterday after he practiced his pipes :-(  Playing bagpipes is REALLY not the rest that the doctor called for, but he's hardly practiced in the last two weeks so he feels like he needs to get some practice in before Saturday.  Pneumonia and bagpipes really don't mix very well we're discovering.

My sister is generously opening up her house to have us all stay there a couple nights.  Thanks, Kathy!!  She and my niece are going to come to the highland games with us, which will make it more fun for me since Evan spends the time tuning, competing or hanging out with his friends.

I'll try to post the competition results on Saturday, but if I don't have time you'll have to wait until I get back home.  Oh, and of course, there will be pictures.  Have a great weekend!

Monday, September 27, 2010

It Was A Good Day

It's my birthday!!!!  Yippee!  I'm halfway to 90!  Hmm, that doesn't sound too good, does it?

Regardless, it was a great day.  Hubby is in Chicago, but he left me a card under my pillow (isn't he sweet).  Molly gave me a BIG bar of dark chocolate and my kids left me sweet little notes all over the house, too.

Then the kids took me out to Culver's for lunch - I drove and they assured me Dad would pick up the tab :-)  I then had a birthday run/walk to try to burn off all those calories I consumed at Culver's.  It started out as a run, but since I don't really jog on a regular basis I didn't get too far.  So, it turned into a sort of interval training :-)  Run a little, walk, run a little, walk, walk...

Unfortunately, while I was away I missed my friend Tami, who stopped by to drop of the most hysterical birthday card and a candy dish full of my favorite candy :-)

I ended my very special day by taking Evan to the doctor where he was diagnosed with pneumonia.   Not the greatest ending to a day, but at least I got to spend time with my eldest son :-)

And so, it was a good day!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

She's A Smart One

Last week we were studying the 1930's in history.  Of course, this led to a long discussion on the Great Depression, Roosevelt, and the New Deal.  Our discussion on the Works Progress Administration (WPA) led to a discussion on what welfare is.  I needed to differentiate to the kids the difference between the government creating jobs for the unemployed and the government just providing money for the unemployed.

This conversation caused Molly to make the following observation regarding welfare...

"Well, why would anyone want to find a job if the government is just giving them money?"

Like I said, she's a smart girl.

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Only One

It's not the best picture of all of us, but for this year, it is the ONLY picture I can find of the whole family!  Hard to believe, but now that Evan is working and in college (sort of), he is conspicuously absent from all pictures!

So, here it is, the 1 out of 3,566 pictures I've taken this year, that includes the entire family.  

Whoa, I've taken 3,566 pictures this year!  Actually, if I include my BWCA trip and the Scotland trip, I've taken 4,233 pictures this year.  Yikes and we're only 3/4 of the way through the year with lots of picture opportunities left.  You gotta love the digital age!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Almost There

I knew it would get worse before it got better...

I'm almost done with the two little girls' clothes which is the hardest part of this whole seasonal clothing change.  Yippee!!

The only difficulty is that the weather has decided to warm up a bit, so I can't pack away all of the summer stuff yet.  This leads to the dilemma of where to put all these clothes, since their closet won't hole their summer clothes and their winter clothes.  Yes, I know they have too many clothes!  But keep in mind that the one closet is also shared by three girls and the two little ones have no dresser, so ALL of their clothes must be hung in the closet.  How's that for justifying the excessive number of clothes my girls have?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Because Four Days A Week Isn't Enough

Our district limits the number of practices a sports team can have in one week during the school year to four.  Because of this, and much to Aidan's dismay, his football team did not have practice last night, nor do they have it tonight.

 So, what does my sports-loving son do to occupy his free time last night?  Well, of course, he calls all his team mates, including his coach, and invites them all over to our park to..........play football.

I LOVE that kid!

It's A Work Of Art

It used to be just a driveway, now it is a work of art :-)

We had our new driveway laid this past weekend, and it is lovely.  We are so, so happy with it! Rod and crew did an outstanding job and it's amazing how much they can get done in one day.

Aside from being beautiful, the thing I appreciate most about our new driveway is that we can get all three vehicles in it AND actually open the doors of the cars to get in and out of them!  This is a huge improvement over our old driveway, which was so narrow you couldn't open the car doors if you parked two cars next to each other.

I don't have a finished picture of the driveway yet, but I can show you some pictures of the work in progress...

You can't really see the color of the stones in these pictures because they haven't been hosed off yet.  They are still covered with the sand that you sweep all over it to fill in the cracks.
This is my new patio area :-D  Now I need to see if I can still find some furniture on clearance.  I might have to wait until next year, as I think all the patio furniture has been replaced by snow shovels and sleds.
This was a family affair.  Some of our kids pitched in to help and several of Rod's kids (he has 9) also put on their gloves to work.  Not only did we get a new driveway, we had a very enjoyable time with everyone.

I'll try to get a picture of the finished product soon.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Welcome Back!

Welcome back to my Italian friend!  I noticed you were missing for awhile.  It's good to have you back :-)

It's Viral

Wouldn't you know it!  Evan has had a fever for the last five days.  A high fever (104 when the ibuprofen wears off), so being the good mom that I am, I finally brought him in to the doctor tonight.  You know, just to rule out a few things, like pneumonia.  So, off we trudge to the local urgent care.  Two hours later, they have effectively ruled out strep and the flu and declared it is a viral respiratory infection which is probably nearing the end of its course.  There you have it.

My apologies to everyone at Normandale College and the entire Grade 3 band, for my son exposing you all to a viral respiratory infection.  Although he is indeed sick, he has pretty much done everything he usually does in a week.  I did insist that he not work this afternoon and I promptly tucked him into bed and told him to sleep, which he dutifully did.  Hopefully, his fever will be gone tomorrow so he doesn't infect the entire Renaissance Festival with the dreaded viral respiratory infection.

Btw, they told me if he still has a fever after ten days to bring him back in and they will test for mono :-)

Thursday, September 16, 2010


Now that cooler weather is upon us, my mind has turned to...CLOTHES!

It used to be, about five kids ago, that I looked forward to the change of seasons, so I could pull out the bins of clothes and bring out the outfits that I hadn't seen in about six months.  It used to be that I would look forward to seeing an outfit on a younger child that their older sibling had worn the previous winter.  It used to be that the changing of seasonal clothes was a project that took about one hour.

No more!

I dread it!  Like the plague or something.  I am so overrun with clothes it makes my head spin.  It takes me weeks, yes, weeks, to get the winter clothes out and the summer clothes either packed away or given away.  It's exhausting!

This sinister ritual has begun at our house.  It is only in the beginning stages, but already several of my rooms are overrun with clothes.  When the turnover is in full swing, you will find clothes laying about in almost every room except, perhaps, the bathroom.  I kid you not!  So, if you happen to drop by my house in the next few week, please don't be surprised by the multitude of clothing items strewn throughout the house :-)

Here is a sample of what you might find...
Assorted hangars just waiting for winter clothes to grace them...

Bins of clothes waiting to be brought down to the storage room...
Miscellaneous piles of clothes that have been rummaged through by an assortment of children, all looking for some new outfit to wear...

At least I can still change my seasonal clothes in less than an hour!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Happy Birthday Times Two

Yet another birthday has arrived at our house.  Today my dear sweet twins, Aidan & Emily turn 11!  Wow!  Eleven!

Eleven years ago today I got a call from their mom (Tracy) telling me that the doctor was going to perform a C-section.  It was five weeks before her due date.  We promptly loaded ourselves up into our van (Chris, Evan, me and my sister Deb) and road-tripped to Waco, Texas.  We called Tracy from Oklahoma to hear the news that the twins had been born and were doing well.  Emily was on a ventilator, but aside from that, and being slightly small, they were doing well.

When we got to the hospital in Waco we finally had the opportunity to meet Tracy.  Although we had spoken to her several times on the phone, this was the first time we met her face to face.  The twins were in NICU, but doing well.  I will never forget the first time I got to hold them.  Because they were in NICU only two people could visit them at a time and because Tracy had not relinquished her parental rights yet, one of those people had to be her.  So, Tracy and I were each holding one of the twins.  Tracy and I were talking and whichever one I was holding (I don't remember) turned their face to her when they heard her voice.  It was the sweetest thing :-)

Chris, Deb and Evan had to go home after a few days when it became apparent that we wouldn't be able to bring the twins home promptly.  This left me alone in Waco.  Well, actually, I was never alone in Waco because God had sovereignly provided the most wonderful couple to support me during the remaining two weeks that I was there. Joe & Jane were/are gifts from God and the twins adoption story will always include them.  It was they who opened their house up to us to stay in while we were in Waco, even though we had never met them.  They let me cry on their shoulder when my family drove away leaving me in Waco.  They celebrated my birthday with me that year.  They loaned me their car to go back and forth to the hospital.  And it was their dresser drawers that the twins slept in when they were released from the hospital.

The twins were released from the hospital ten days after their birth and then I had to wait another five days before we could go home to MN.  It was an emotionally draining several weeks, but it was so, so worth it!

I love you, Aidan & Emily!  I hope you have an outstanding birthday!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Defeat Of Jesse James Day

So, we went to the Defeat of Jesse James Day Parade in Northfield yesterday, as Evan's band was marching in it.  The whole family came along to watch the parade which is always more fun than me sitting there by myself.

We were sitting alongside the road and some of the reenactors  rode by on their horses, 
which prompted Marcus to ask why they were riding by and carrying guns.  This lead to a discussion on what the parade was for - what were we "celebrating".  Do you have any idea how strange it sounds to a six year old that we are celebrating the death of an outlaw some 100+ years ago by having a parade?  He couldn't quite grasp why we held a parade because Jesse James was killed.  It was quite humorous :-)

Zoe Quote

Yesterday, Evan marched in a parade with the band.  As he was getting ready Zoe was heard to say, "Evan and I match.  We're both wearing skirts!"

Out With The Old

As you may remember from earlier this summer, I was not happy with the front of my house.  Well, finally, we are doing something about it.  Yippee!  We decided that the first phase of house-beautification would be to put in a new driveway and add a little patio by the front door.

Over the weekend, the first phase of the first phase began; that is, the removal of the old driveway.

And let's not forget the hideous planter that has been welcoming me to my house for the past six years.  It's gone too :-)

SO, away we go.  We won't have a NEW driveway until next week, as our friend Rod who is doing the work is only available on weekends.  That's okay though, because even with the driveway torn up, it looks a whole lot better already!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

It Must Be Said

We are finally starting school tomorrow!  Tuesday and Wednesday didn't work because of doctors' appointments and when I suggested starting today (Molly's birthday) she nearly broke down in tears begging for us NOT to start on her birthday.

Now, this brings me to this post.  If we were the poster perfect homeschool family, my daughter would have jumped up and down and declared that starting school on her birthday is the best present ever.  She would have wept and the prospect of NOT starting school on her birthday.  All the children would be begging me daily to "Please, oh please, can we start school today!!"

Here is the reality of it.  My daughter did almost cry at the thought of starting school on her birthday.  Others in the home have been more than happy to push off our start date indefinitely.  Actually, I got a groan out of one or two of them when I told them we are starting tomorrow.   So, for those of you that are discouraged because YOUR kids don't jump up and down with glee at the thought of school, I am here to encourage you.  Neither do mine!

Does this make me a bad teacher?  I don't think so.  Does this mean we are doing something wrong in our schooling?  While I don't think we have the perfect system here, I don't think there is some huge flaw in it either.  So what is it then?  Well, I think my kids, like most people, really enjoy the freedom of summer.  They don't particularly like doing hard things, either.  So, when school comes along and requires them to apply themselves to learning and takes away a large chunk of their free time, they DON'T LIKE IT.

Tomorrow will dawn and at 9:00 we will sit down and commence our school year.  If this year is like the ones in the past, I will find my desk covered with apples and other produce that my students bring me on the first day of school.  We will laugh and cry and learn together for the next nine months.  Some days my students will be happy, some days they will be sullen.  Some days we will make it through the lesson plan in record time and other days we will still be schooling at four in the afternoon.  There will be projects that are fun and actually work and there will be projects that the kids HATE and don't work.  And that is how it's going to be here.

For those of you with perennially happy, cheerful, obedient students - I am happy for you!  Enjoy it!

For those of you who persevere through the thick and think of schooling your sometimes eager, sometimes stubborn students - hang in there, I know what you're going through :-)

Now There Are Three or Happy Birthday, Molly

As of 9:00 AM today, I have three - yes, count them, three - teenagers in my home!  Yikes!  How has this happened?  Even scarier, in two years I will have five of them running around!

Anyway, happy, happy, happy birthday to dear Molly!  Once again, time has flown by so fast and you are no longer the smiliest baby around, but  a beautiful young lady.  One of my favorite things about Molly is that she wakes up in the morning with a smile on her face - always has.

Molly, I hope you have a wonderful birthday!  You are much loved!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Déjà Vu

Does this look strangely familiar to you?  Perhaps you've seen pictures like this before?  

Yes, indeed, it was another holiday weekend at the cabin and another opportunity to clean up the rip-rap.  (we like to say the riff-raff was working on the rip-rap)  You see, there are 100 feet of shoreline at our cabin and over the Fourth of July weekend we only repaired about 60 feet of it.  That left the remaining 40 feet  to be done this weekend.  So, aside from the two month and thirty degree temperature difference, this weekend at the cabin was much like the Fourth of July.

Well that's not totally true, we had some wonderful fashion statements this weekend...

And then there was psycho-sister with the axe...

ANd last, but certainly not least, let's not forget our Eat Dessert First Dinner, which started with cupcakes, bars and Death By Chocolate.  The desserts were followed by a myriad of appetizers which were as much fun to prepare as to eat (well, maybe not quite as much fun).

Another great holiday weekend with family and fun at the cabin :-)

Happy Birthday, Zoe!

Bad Mom!!!  Here is a VERY belated birthday post for my dear, sweet Zo-Bug!  It's not that I forgot her birthday, or that we didn't celebrate it (multiple times - actually once a day since Friday), it's just that we have been away at the cabin since Friday evening.  Anyway, her birthday was Sept. 3, as always.

Dear little Zo-Zo is now four years old!  Hard to believe that she was a mere 18 months when we got her.  She has grown up so much and is such a delightful, sweet little girl (most of the time).  She is very excited to be able to go to the preschool class at church and no longer be in the nursery. 

We love you, little Zoe Girl and we cannot imagine life without your energetic spirit and quick smile.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Sweet Nina is 14

Happy, happy birthday to my sweet Nina!  I can't believe she is 14 already.  I remember vividly the day we brought her home from the hospital, all 4 lb 13 oz of her.  She was half the size of her older brother when he was born, and she was three weeks old!

Chris was in California, so my sister Deb went to the hospital with me to pick Nina up.  Nina's birthparents and the agency social workers were there.  We stood in the NICU and prayed for Nina (actually her birth father prayed for her).  It was such a sweet and such a difficult moment, as I walked out carrying our little, tiny baby daughter, put her in the back of the Honda Accord and drove home.  That was a Monday, Chris didn't arrive home until Thursday or Friday, so everyone at church got to meet Nina before her Daddy did :-(

Okay, enough reminiscing.  I told you I remember it all vividly!  Now I have a fine young lady, of whom we are immensely proud!

I love you, Nina!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

I'm Sick

I got up from lunch today and didn't feel very well. I attributed it to the fact that I had just eaten four slices of pizza. So, when room time rolled around I decided to go on a power bike ride despite the stomach pains. Felt great during the ride, but shortly thereafter I found my self in pain on the couch.

Now, here I sit at home while my family is enjoying cake and ice cream at my parents' house; celebrating my nephew's 20th birthday. :-(

But, as with almost everything, there is a bright side to this sad tale. While I lay here in bed with my muscles aching and a low grade fever, I am listening to a CD by John Rosemond on parenting teenagers. Normally I don't have an hour or more to listen to such things because I am too busy, um, parenting teenagers. Being sick has afforded me the uninterrupted time to be blessed by this man's common sense.

So, I wish I felt better, but if I have to be sick I'm glad I can use the time well!


So, I was going to start school next Tuesday just like our local school district, but then I looked at my calendar and realized Raelea has an eye doctor appt. that morning and Evan has bagpipe lessons that afternoon.  Not quite sure how I'm going to fit the first day of school into that schedule.  Then, when I looked at Wednesday I noticed that Zoe has a doctor's appt. THAT morning.  Thursday is Molly's birthday (not that we couldn't start school on her birthday, but...).  Friday?  Well, do we really want to start on a Friday?

Hmmm, when exactly should I start school?  Maybe I'll wait until the following week!  Gasp!  Taking a school break before school even starts!  And then there's that little tidbit about not even having time to prep for school.....

Let's hope the whole school year isn't like this or it's going to be a long nine months!