"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, 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!

Happy Birthday, Raelea Roo!

Six years ago today, at about 8:00 am, I answered the phone to hear the wonderful news that our baby had been born, that it was a girl, that she was healthy and that her name was Raelea Renee!  Even in all the joy of that moment, I had no idea how much joy Raelea would bring to our lives and our family.
Raelea, we are truly privileged to have you as our daughter!  Your enthusiasm for life and pleasure in the moment are such a blessing to me.  I hope you have a most wonderful birthday filled with lots of forms, cardboard and chocolate cake!

Happy birthday, Raelea!  We LOVE you!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

She's One of a Kind

All kids are unique, I know, but some are a little more unique than others. :-)

When Raelea is asked, "What do you want for your birthday?"

Her response is, "A Liv doll, math books and forms."

Yes, my daughter's idea of a great gift is forms, as in real forms. Like the kind you fill out when applying for something, or like a checkbook register. She recently got some money as an early birthday present and she wants to go spend it on forms at Office Max. She begs for her siblings old math tests, so she can write on them. She is quite obsessed with forms and math worksheets. I think she may have a future with the I.R.S.

Monday, November 1, 2010


I'm not sure how it happened, but the month of October has gone missing.  It was here just a few minutes ago.  As a matter of fact, I am quite sure that it arrived very recently, but now I can't seem to find it.  If you find it, I would like it back for a few more weeks, so could you please return it to me?


It Can Snow Now

Eleven months out of the year I love my yard.  It's big and it has a lot of really big, mature trees.  It borders on a park with lots of really big, mature trees - very pretty.  But then there's that one month...October...when all those really big, mature trees decide to go naked and drop their clothes all over the ground, not unlike several children in this house. (the dropping their clothes on the ground, not the going naked part)

We spent several hours yesterday picking up the attire of the many really big, mature trees.  Now that the yard is free of leaves, I'm okay with the snow arriving, which isn't likely this week since it's supposed to be in the upper 50's.  I'll take that too.  I can sit out in my yard and look at the bare grass and smile :-)

I would like to publicly thank my oak trees, I think there are four of them, for shedding their leaves in such a timely manner this year.  Usually they are some of the last trees to get naked, but not this year.  Perhaps they were hot when the temps rose  a few weeks ago.

There is one little problem though.  We have one very modest tree that is still clinging to her clothing.  As a matter of fact, last time I checked, it was still green, too!  You know what that means?  It means that as soon as that first snow falls, my dear tree will decide it is the perfect time to strip and I will have soggy, yucky leaves to clean up in the spring.