"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

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Shameless Plug

Once again, it is time for my shameless plug for a wonderful organization that you should all be involved with in some fashion or another.  Feed My Starving Children is a non-profit organization that does exactly what the name implies, feeds starving children throughout the world.  If you live in Minnesota, Illinois, or Tempe, Arizona, I encourage you to volunteer at one of their facilities.  If you don't live in one of those areas, go here and give them money!  Really!  They are extremely efficient with the donations they receive, 93% going towards actually feeding children and only 7% in overhead.  They packaged and delivered 124 million meals worldwide last year!

Tonight we spent an hour and a half packing meals at their Eagan, MN facility.  In that time, 13,000 meals were packed and will be shipped next week to the Philippines.  In that same time, we had a blast packing said meals, enjoying time with family and generally having fun.  I can't think of a more enjoyable place to volunteer!

And where else can you get everyone to wear hairnets without complaining?

 Even a five year old is old enough to help :-)
 Aidan wins the "Most Fashionable in a Hairnet" award.
 Chicken, veggies, soy, rice.  Chicken, veggies, soy, rice.
 And when it's all done, you can pray over the boxes in the warehouse.
I LOVE THIS PLACE!!!!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

So Much Fun...

So little time!

Well, Christmas has come and gone again.  I'm always disappointed that it doesn't stick around for longer.  There is so much I want to cram into the days surrounding Christmas that I always run out of time.   It is one of the few times during the year that my whole family is in one place.  I SO love spending time with my family! And the food...don't get me started on the food!

I have oodles of pictures, but it's late and we have school here tomorrow :-( , so I'm going to bed!  I hope you all had a splendid Christmas!  Maybe I'll post the pictures tomorrow...

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Have I Been Living In A Hole?

How is it that I've gone all these years and never listened to Sufjan Stevens?  Well, I am making sure you don't make the same mistake.  Here for your listening enjoyment...

Merry Christmas!

A Merry Christmas to all my blog buddies and Facebook friends!  I hope this day finds you enjoying family and friends, and let's not forget the food.  But more importantly, I hope this day finds you reflecting on what it is we are really celebrating.

We have a God who loves us beyond our wildest imagination!  Who loves you so much that he did not withhold his only Son, but sent Him to earth to be your Redeemer, the only one who could pay the ultimate price for your sins.

We celebrate His birth because it is proof of that love, and Jesus was/is the best present we could ever receive.  My prayer for all of you today is that you do receive Him as a gift meant just for you.

Merry Christmas, all!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Stocking Stuffers

I have a problem!  I can't stop buying stocking stuffers.  It doesn't matter how many I've already purchased, I continually find "the perfect thing for a stocking."

This is causing my husband much angst.  He would like to limit the stuffing of stockings to a few gifts (preferably along the lines of deodorant), some fruit and nuts. I, on the other hand, think stocking should be overflowing with fun little things, lots of chocolate, a clementine, and more fun little things.  Some things belong in the stocking because of their size, other things because of their price (regardless of size).  I can't remember the last time all of the stocking stuffers actually FIT in the stocking.

Well, Chris & I agreed (albeit him half-heartedly) to ONLY four stocking stuffer gifts.  So, dutifully I purchased four gifts for each stocking...except I seem to have forgotten that I had ALREADY purchased some stuffers a few months ago...planning ahead and all....

Tonight, when we stuff said stockings, methinks there will be a few more than four gifts in each :-)

Now, lest you think I go overboard on gifts, it's not so....really!  We buy three gifts for each child - one "toy", one clothing gift and one "personal development" gift (which means anything that might be remotely "educational," ie, musical instrument, logic sort of game, etc.)

So, you see, it's just the stockings with which I get totally out-of-control.  And that is why it is unanimous among my children that the stockings are the best part of present opening!  As it should be!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Don't Ask

Don't you agree, that nothing says Merry Christmas quite like...
a headless Santa?

Well, if you lived at our house you would agree!

I Did It, I Did It!


After years of being under my dad's tutelage, I have, for the very first time, made chocolates all by myself!  Well, not completely by myself as Aidan helped me, but without Dad giving me helpful hints.

So for my first solo chocolate-making endeavor, I made raspberry cream filled chocolates.

They look great and, by all accounts, are quite tasty. The only downside is that I only made 36. Do you know how quickly 36 chocolates can disappear in a house with 10 people?  Well, if you notice the picture, two have already....vanished.  I think I shall put them under lock and key!

Monday, December 19, 2011

What's In A Name?

At dinner tonight we were discussing different names for Jesus. Then we moved on to discussing the meanings of our names.  I thought it was interesting how both Chris and I have name meanings that describe us well.

Christopher means Christ bearer or those bearing Christ in their hearts.  Very fitting, don't you think?

Barbara, on the other hand, means....strange.

Like I said very fitting.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Music Heaven

Okay, who would have ever thought of putting dulcimers and bagpipes together?  Listen to this!


Little Drummerboy - Live (Featuring Jefferson Bagpipers) from Garrett Viggers on Vimeo.


I'd never heard of Garret Viggers until today, when my dear friend Sylvia sent me this link You should check it out :-)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

440

That's the number of photos I've taken so far this month...and it's only the 17th....and not even Christmas yet...

Field Trip!

One of those glorious benefits of homeschooling is that I can go to my parents' house to make candy and call it a field trip :-)

We spent six hours on Friday making beautiful candy creations under the watchful eye of the master candy maker, my dad.
 We made 118 turtles, 106 peanut butter cups and 84 chocolate covered cherries.  Num!!


 Cleaning off fingers is a necessary part of candy making.  Molly is demonstrating the proper technique.
Even the little ones got involved in the process, taking charge of quality control, counting and packaging.
Now I know it's Christmastime...my cupboard is full of nummy chocolates and my freezer is full of Christmas cookies :-)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

It's Over!

The fifteen weeks of Birthday Season have officially ended today!  Chris holds the dubious distinction of having the last birthday during birthday season, and TODAY he turned 45.

He took the day off work and hung out at home with his favorite people...us!


As is tradition, we went and cut our Christmas tree today to celebrate Chris' birthday.




And then proceeded to decorate it....isn't it beautiful!  We'll see how long it lasts with the terrorist dog experiencing her first Christmas...so many ornaments to chew on!



Anyway, Chris, we love you and are so very thankful for you! You're the best!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Long Overdue

When we moved into our house 7+ years ago, it was immaculate.  The previous owners were an older couple whose kids were grown and gone.  This was primarily reflected in the fact that the entry and main level of the house were carpeted in a lovely ivory-colored carpeting.  As nice as that carpet looked when we moved in, we knew right away that it was totally NOT practical for a family with a boatload of kids and a dog.

We were correct.

Over the subsequent years, the lovely ivory carpeting has turned darker and darker, more spotted, etc.  The first to go was the carpet in the foyer...who carpets their foyer anyway?  Especially in Minnesota!  It turned nasty quite quickly and was replace by some beautiful tile.

Next to go was the carpeted hallway, mostly because it was gross-dirty and I knew there were hardwood floors under the carpeting.


Last, but certainly not least, the carpet in the living room has FINALLY gone!  It took a little longer to get disgustingly stained, but it was inevitable...especially with our dear dog.  That formerly lovely ivory-colored carpeting has been replace by a much more practical tan-brown carpeting.   We couldn't be happier!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

What A Weekend!

Wow, this weekend was a whirlwind of activity!  All good stuff, but I'm exhausted.  Here's the summary...

My sister from St. Louis, Kathy, and her daughter Maggie came up for the weekend.  Traditionally, many of the women in my family go to a holiday concert together, typically a choir concert at a local Christian college.  This year, we decided to step it up a bit and went to the Celtic Thunder Christmas Concert.  But, before all that, we decided that a sleepover was in order.

So, on Friday night we all converged on Mom & Dad's house (which we decided to "borrow" for the event).  Lots of laughs, food, and fun!

 Next day, we did cookie baking at my parents' house...always a fun, sugar-filled time! 







I have a hard time sticking to the traditional type decorations...Where some saw a mitten and a stocking, I saw a goldfish and a seal...


Then it was time to get ready for the concert.  Deb and I did our nails in Christmas-y colors (I'm red, Deb's green for those who care)

Soon, we were all dolled up and ready to go...
and only slightly crazy....
An exhausting, but fun weekend!  I love the holiday season :-D

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Marcus is 8!!!


Happy birthday, Marcus! Hard to believe you've been here almost four years. You have grown so much and learned so much! We love seeing more and more of your personality come out as time goes by.

You are a wonderful son and brother, and we are so glad that you are part of our family!!

Happy birthday!!!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Theater Review

So, inquiring minds (Tami) want to know how the show was last night.  Well, as always, Les Miserable was a great show!  It was my fourth or fifth time seeing it (I lost track, as it hasn't been touring for many years).  They made a few changes since it last traveled, and the set has changed as well.  Obviously, there were new actors, also.

The songs/story is all the same - thank goodness!  It would be really hard to improve upon it!  Gone is the revolving set.  It was playing at the Orpheum Theater in Minneapolis which has a much smaller stage than the Ordway (in St. Paul) where it used to play.  This caused it to seem somewhat cramped on stage at times.  Now, for my personal opinions: I did not care for the actress who played Fantine or the actor they chose for Javert (although he had a fine voice).  On the flip side, Jean Valjean was great and sang all of the songs to perfection, little Cossette was amazing (and for our show, played by the actual daughter of the actor who played Valjean), but the one to steal the show was Eponine.  She was phenomenal!  What a voice!  Not to mention she could sing great while in the throes of death, lying prostrate on the stage.  How do they do that, anyway???  I can't sing decent while standing up, and hereshe is flailing about and hitting every note perfectly...it was really impressive!


Anyway, if you've never gone to see Les Miserables, I can't urge you strongly enough to go!  I promise, you won't regret it.

And now, here we are, all dolled up and ready to go out :-)



Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Off To The Theater

Getting ready to go to the theater is almost as fun as actually going. Okay, maybe not quite, but I'm having fun nonetheless.

First Nina did my nails :-)  It's so nice having my own beautician in the home!
Then I got to pick out my bling.  That's always fun, since I don't usually wear sparkly stuff.
The make-up is on, the clothes are picked out...

this is going to be a fun night!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Christmas Arrives Early

For our family, Christmas officially begins the first Saturday of December. That is when we trek to Wisconsin to celebrate the holiday with Chris' side of the family. It was a thoroughly fun weekend, but over too quickly. The only downside was that Evan had to work, and so he was unable to come up for the weekend :-(

Here are some photos of the fun....

Molly & Nina being goofy, as usual
Marcus and his cousin Kieran waiting, ever so patiently, to open gifts.
Everyone showing off their fancy new Santa slippers.
Here's the family, sans Evan.
Zoe, spending some time with Grandpa.
You know Chris must of been really tired to cover up with THIS blanket!
A weekend well spent!  Now it's back to birthday season, as we have two more to go before that season is officially closed for the year.

Friday, December 2, 2011

AHHHHHH!

I can't wait!!!   In just four days, I will be sitting in the theater watching this!!!!!!!!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Christmas Spirit

Nothing says Merry Christmas like green & red fingernails...right?

And nothing says, "Put some lotion on," like taking a picture of my hands!
Hope you are getting in that holiday mood, however you like to do it.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Good To Know

We have a handy-dandy budget/accounting program that monitors our spending and sends us timely reminders.  Well, last night I received an e-mail stating that I had "Exceeded budget for Coffee Shops."

Who knew!

I didn't even KNOW I had a budget for coffee shops!  Wow!  This is indeed good news! 

First order of business, up the budget for said coffee shops!

Monday, November 28, 2011

What Will They Remember?

I sometimes wonder what my kids will remember about their childhood, and more specifically, what they will remember about their mom.  I guess I'll just have to wait and see, but I had an interesting conversation with Nina today that made me happy.

We were driving in the car talking and I was trying to make an expressionless face (just because), but I couldn't do it.  I told Nina that I look sad or mad when my face is blank, and she said, "I don't know, you really are smiling most of the time."

That made me smile!

I want my kids to remember their mom as a happy mom.  I am a very impassioned person which means when I'm happy I'm really happy and when I'm not...well, you'll know it.  I get stressed or exasperated and, because I am with my kids 24/7, they see all this.  So, for my daughter, who's beyond the "Mom, your perfect" stage, to tell me she thinks I'm smiling most of the time, is precious to me!

Thanks, Nina, for brightening my day!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Today we put up our Christmas decorations :-) It always makes me smile to pull out the pretty things I haven't seen in a whole year. The kids get so excited...it's almost like they are getting presents. Since not all of you will grace our house with your presence this Christmas season, I will include some pictures here of our pretties.

Everyone needs antlers to decorate, don't they?
Btw, notice no snow on the ground :-(  This is not right when decorating for Christmas!


If it were up to me, I'd make new stockings, but every time I mention it my children have violent reactions.  You'd think I had told them I was going to get rid of all our pets.  Who knew that kids developed such a strong attachment to their stockings?  Even ugly stockings...


Raelea's favorite decoration, the Advent wreath.


Molly & Mumford enjoying the lights.
There you have it, I did not include the headless Santa in the pictures...maybe next time....

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Eight adults.  Twelve kids.  Four large dogs.

Family.  New friends.  Good food.

Laughter.  Stories.  Tea.

Football.  Nail polish.  More food.

Thankful hearts.  Full bellies.  Sleepy bodies.







Happy Thanksgiving to all!  Whether you celebrate Thanksgiving or not, I hope you were surrounded today by those you love!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Let's Play

Let's play the new blog game "Guess What's In The Bucket"

Ready...go....


Snickers is trying to help you!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

No Shave November


Evan declared that it was "No Shave November" a few weeks ago. 

We were initially skeptical about the amount of facial hair he would generate, but apparently we were wrong.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Grrr!

Once again, no doubt in an effort to improve their product, Facebook has irritated me.  They will no longer automatically feed my blog posts onto my Facebook page :-(  This means I will be required to take personal responsibility and forward my posts to my Facebook page.  ORRRRR, all my Facebook readers could come on over here and check my blog...thus driving up my daily hit numbers :-) 


Whatever!  I guess I'll get used to the new routine.  While you can't teach an old dog new tricks, methinks this old lady can learn one.

Just Slap Me

Next time I get it in my head to go to the Mall of America on a Sunday afternoon could someone just slap me and say, "Woman!  Have you taken a leave of your senses?"  Because only someone who has disconnected from reality would spend 20 minutes finding a parking spot, any parking spot, and then wait in line for twenty minutes to by ONE thing!

I will thank you for it, I promise!