"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

Monday, January 31, 2011

Burns Night

This weekend was chock-full of good times.  After the lovely date with my hubby on Friday night, Evan and I enjoyed a Burns Night celebration with his band.  For those of you who are not familiar with Burns Night you can read my previous post on the event.  This was MY first Burns Night celebration.  In 2009, Evan and Chris went while I stayed home with the rest of the kids, so it was my turn this year.

I mostly wanted to go so I could hear Evan do the Immortal Memory of Robert Burns toast, hear Evan's quartet play (for the first time in public, and not just in our living room) and so I could dress up and act adult-like again (two days in a row!).  It was a very nice evening with a great group of people! 

One important part of Burns Night is the Toast to the Haggis (which Kathleen performed excellently, no easy task since it's not in modern English.  I actually haven't the foggiest idea what was said about the haggis, but she did a great job at it!)
  
Now if you've never had haggis it's.....well, it's....like a giant liver sausage/pate (I know, sounds tasty, doesn't it?)
 
 This was my first experience with haggis and by all reports, this was a very poor representation of haggis!  It was NASTY!  Not to be easily deterred though, I will try it again....maybe in a few years.

Evan's toast went over well and the quartet ROCKED!  I can't wait to hear them compete in Winnipeg!!!

Here's a picture of the quartet after their performance.  They were exhausted, but pleased with how it went.

Gotta go.  It's Monday morning and the little people are wanting breakfast!  So much for my adult-like weekend, I'm back to being Mom :-)

It's Official!

As of this weekend, I have been officially declared "The Weirdest Person EVER!" by several of my children.  I wear this title with honor.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Date Night

Chris and I went on a date tonight.  That, in and of itself, isn't particularly interesting since we try to go on at least a couple of those each month.  What made this date night post-worthy is that it was a "real" date, meaning that it didn't involve going to Fleet Farm to buy dog food or Target to buy deodorant.  This date night involved going to the Dakota Jazz Club for dinner and then to Orchestra Hall to hear Dvorak's 7th Symphony.  How adult-like of us!

The food was excellent.  I ordered the vegetarian dish and was VERY pleased with it, which is a bit surprising since I'm not a vegetarian :-)  The concert was part of the Minnesota Orchestra's Inside the Classics program, where they explain some of the symphony before they play it.  It was very educational and the symphony itself was very entertaining.

Great food + great music + great company = a perfect date night

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Pick-A-Pile Revisited

Hard to believe (well, actually it's not hard to believe if you've been over to my house) that it has been a year and a half since I last did a pick-a-pile, that humiliating column where I post pictures of messy piles in my home and then (if all goes well) show you a picture of the area all tidied up.
Well, I did another pick-a-pile over the weekend and I just HAVE to share it because I am so pleased with the results.

Featured this time.....my closet..... hmmm....looks like it could use some tidying up, don't you think??






PRESTO!!!!  Taadaa!




Makes me want to run and do another pick-a-pile right away...or maybe I'll just go to bed....

Oh, Where...

is my telephone?
Oh, where is my telephone?
Oh, where, oh, where, oh, where, oh, where,
Oh, where, oh, where, oh, where, oh, where
Oh, where is my telephone?


In case you haven't figured it out, we're missing one of our cordless telephones.  Unfortunately, it's the one which has the ringer turned off.  So, if you are passing through our house and see a stray phone laying around, please let me know.

There is a $5 reward.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Sweet Dreams, Raelea Style

Why sleep with a stuffed animal when you can sleep with a cardboard box?

I went to check on my girls tonight and this was how I found Raelea.  Sound asleep and clutching her empty Jello box.

Have I told you lately that I LOVE that girl?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Does This Make Any Sense?

Sometimes I just shake my head in puzzlement over the way some businesses are run!

Who's on my list today?

The St. Paul Pioneer Press.

Here's the deal -

We just received our bill for our Friday - Sunday home delivery.  It was $130 for 52 weeks or $2.50/wk.

That seemed a little high, so the hubby suggested I go out on-line and see what was being offered out there.  Lo and behold, I can subscribe to the Pioneer Press Friday through Sunday home delivery for $1.83/wk.

????

Okay, being the fair sort of person that I am, I decided to call the Pioneer Press and give them a chance to explain themselves and to offer me, their valued, long-time customer, the same rate as I saw on-line.

Alas, it was not to be so.  After speaking to the customer service agent and her supervisor, I was informed that the $1.83 rate was only for new customers.  I informed said supervisor that I would just not renew my current subscription and then start a new one to get the lower rate, thus making more work for the Pioneer Press and obtaining a lower price for myself.  It will cost them more to give me the paper at a lower rate.  When I asked the "helpful" supervisor if that made any sense to her, I was met with dead silence on the other end of the phone.  After about 30 seconds of dead air, she said that these were the rules of the company.

There you have it!  Absolutely illogical business policies that, instead of saving the company money and retaining customers, actually costs the company money and drives away customers.  And all this from a print media company that is losing business rapidly to the on-line sources.

Who knows, maybe I won't renew and just get my news on-line :-)


And now, just for the Pioneer Press employee whose job it is to monitor the internet for complaints....feel free to offer me the better rate :-)

And just a few words for the above-mentioned employee to find my blog when they are googling........complaint, bad customer service, over-priced, Pioneer Press, Star Tribune, poor,


There.  That should do it :-)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

I Stand Corrected

I'm 45 years old!  You would think I would know a thing or two.  Maybe I do, but recently I have discovered that I have been wrong about certain things.

A while back, I learned that I was wrong about the definition of the word peruse.  My whole life I thought it meant to BRIEFLY look at an article or other such matter.  Now, I'm pretty good with words, so you can imagine my shock and surprise when I discovered that peruse really means to read THOROUGHLY!  Shocking, I know!

Now, just a week or so ago my husband challenged an assertion I made regarding heat loss through your head.  My whole life I was told (by sources who will remain nameless, but who have been known to say such things to their kids to get them to wear their hat in the winter) that you lose 90% of your body heat through your head.  As I was repeating this dire statistic to my children, the dear hubby strolls by and says, in his oh, so subtle way, "That's NOT true!"  What do you mean that's not true?  I've heard it my whole life!

Not one to be convinced by my argument, the dear hubs gets on-line, finds some reputable source and confirms that in actuality only about 5% to 10% of your body heat is lost through your head.  There you have it!  I was wrong AGAIN! 

*****Children, this does not mean you can stop wearing your hats outside in the winter!*****

Well, the third strike to my now doubtful knowledge came soon afterward, and this one affects you, my dear blog readers.  You see, in times past I have posted really nummy recipes on my blog and two of those most excellent recipes were mistakenly named.  You may remember  them as Raspberry White Chocolate Scones and Craisin/White Chocolate Scones. They shall henceforth and forever be correctly named Raspberry White Confectionery Rock Cakes and Craisin White Confectionery Rock Cakes, since they are indeed NOT scones and there is no such white chocolate. 

Now, I assume you all knew that there is no such thing as white chocolate.  I certainly did, but I was willing to overlook this in my recipes because, well, just because.  But, you can imagine my shock when I discovered that they were not even scones!  Here's how it happened. 

You all know that Evan plays the bagpipes.  Many of you know that he has the most wonderful bagpipe instructor named Stephen.  Now Stephen is English, as in from England (actually he grew up in Scotland, but let's not split hairs here).  Anyway, one evening a few weeks back, Stephen was at our house for a bagpiping practice.  As the pipers took a break from their practice, Evan offered the lads some "scones" for a snack.  While several of the pipers partook of these tasty treats, Stephen took one look at them and said, "Those aren't scones!  Those are rock cakes!" (you must imagine this being said with the most delightful Scottish accent)

Who knew?  Well, obviously Stephen did!  I decided to look up the reason why my tasty treats were rock cakes and not scones, and here is what I found out.  Rock cakes have dried fruit in them and are not "shaped."  Now we all know, so next time you are using my recipe for the treats-formerly-known-as-scones, you can properly refer to them as rock cakes.

You're welcome.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Letter From A Birmingham Jail

For the first time in my life, I read Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Letter From A Birmingham Jail today.  In year's past I read his "I Have A Dream" speech to the kids, but this year I decided we would read something different.

So, what do I have to say after reading the "Letter From Birmingham Jail"?

Wow!

If you have time to read it, I would HIGHLY encourage you to do so.  This letter is so powerful and so well-written, that I think everyone should read it!  Dr. King was an amazing orator and writer.  His grasp of the English language and his ability to communicate difficult truths is something to behold, but more than that, his courage and well-reasoned response to a horrendous problem is morally challenging to all of us.

I won't include the entire speech here, but I will include a few of the parts that had the most impact on me.

Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial "outside agitator" idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.


 And I would daresay, that in this day and age, we are interrelated to people all over the world and the injustices they face should be seen as a threat to justice everywhere, as well.


But though I was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist, as I continued to think about the matter I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label. Was not Jesus an extremist for love: "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you." Was not Amos an extremist for justice: "Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream." Was not Paul an extremist for the Christian gospel: "I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus." Was not Martin Luther an extremist: "Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise, so help me God." And John Bunyan: "I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a butchery of my conscience." And Abraham Lincoln: "This nation cannot survive half slave and half free." And Thomas Jefferson: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal ..." So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice? In that dramatic scene on Calvary's hill three men were crucified. We must never forget that all three were crucified for the same crime–the crime of extremism. Two were extremists for immorality, and thus fell below their environment. The other, Jesus Christ, was an extremist for love, truth and goodness, and thereby rose above his environment. Perhaps the South, the nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.


Oh, may we never fear the label of extremist!  As long as our stand is morally defensible we should be proud to be considered extreme by those who would rather look the other way.

Okay, I'm not going to include any other excerpts, but I will say that his explanation of just and unjust laws is EXCELLENT and his condemnation of the "white moderate" and the Christian churches that would not stand up to end segregation is well-worth reading!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

That Makes Sense

Here's a conversation I had with Raelea this morning.  She had just gotten out of the bathtub and was quite wrinkled.

Me: "Raelea, you're all wrinkled like a prune.  You used to be a plum, but now you're a prune.  Or, maybe, you were a grape and now you're a raisin.  Were you a grape or a plum to start with?

Raelea:  "I wasn't a plum or a grape!"

Me:  "Well, what were you?"

Raelea: "A person!"

Me: "Well, what does a person turn into when they get all wrinkled?

Wait for it.....

Raelea:  "A Grandma!!"

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A Bum Rap

The bunnies have been complaining that they have gotten a bum rap here on my blog.  You know, Snickers has a permanent place in the sidebar and the bunnies are no where to be found.

So as not to incur rabbit wrath, I dedicate this entire post to my children's beautiful bunnies whom I have affectionately labeled Bunny 1 and Bunny 2.

Here is Bunny 1, aka Reeses.  he belongs to Nina.




And here is Reeses' brother, Bunny 2 or Starburst as his mom, Molly, likes to call him.




As you can see here, Starburst is much more compliant than Reeses.

Okay, here we go.  Here are the two brothers together.  Aren't they adorable?  Despite my failure to include them equally in my blog, I do so love our sweet bunnies!

Oh, no!  Now I hear the hamsters complaining....





Stomach Flu

Confirmed cases: 2

Possible case: 1

Remaining to be infected: 7

This will be an interesting week.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Some Days

Ever notice how some days just don't go right?  Ever notice how some Mondays just don't go right?  Well, I had one of THOSE Mondays!  I kind of wish I could fast-forward to Tuesday :-)

Here's the rundown.

Bright and early, Zoe comes down with diarrhea, as in can't-make-it-to-the-bathroom, diarrhea (I know TMI- sorry, I'm a mom, this is mom stuff).

Astonishingly, school went okay and all was fine (except for that Zoe issue) until I took Molly to her 2-hour orthodontic appointment.  Me, being the Industrial Engineer that I am, decided to use those two hours productively by taking Aidan to apply for his passport.  Surely that couldn't take more than two hours, right?

Well, off to the government center I went.  On the drive over there I realized I only had one check in my purse, but surely, I thought, one check would be sufficient  (I was savvy enough to know that they wouldn't take a credit card).  Well, I was WRONG!  Actually, I needed TWO checks OR one check and $25 in cash.  So, I leave the government center to go to the bank, get the $25 and return to the center.

No lines (that's good)!  The nice lady behind that counter makes sure that I have ALL of the necessary documents.  When she looks at Aidan's birth certificate she says, "Hang on just a minute, " and disappears. Hmm, this doesn't look good.  Shortly, she reappears and says, "We may have a problem with this birth certificate."  Hmm.  Apparently, "they" don't like birth certificate abstracts from Texas.

Say what?  Who knows?

After realizing that an eleven year old doesn't have a lot of choices when it comes to identification, we decide to send in the birth certificate and see what happens.  The nice lady continues to fill out documents.  Then she gets to our date of travel and informs me that it is taking between four and six weeks to process passport applications right now.  This means that, if it does take six weeks, that his passport won't arrive in time for our trip to Winnipeg.  Well, nothing we can do about that.  Let's just send it in and hope it takes less time.

All is almost complete when the nice lady looks at Aidan's photos and says, "These look like they might be a little too big."  After putting the little template on top of Aidan's photo, she shows me that, yes, they are indeed too big.  Hmm!  The folks at Kinko's were supposed to make sure they were the right size.  Apparently they didn't!

By this time I had had enough, so I decided to try this whole thing over again tomorrow.  That way Chris could take Aidan back to Kinko's tonight and have them re-take the photo (for free).

Having enough of this, I went to get Molly from her orthodontist.  While I was there I was told the doctor wanted to talk to me.  This NEVER happens.  He takes me aside to inform me that while they were removing some of the appliances in Molly's mouth they damaged the enamel on one of her teeth, and she will need to go to the dentist to get it repaired.

Hmm, tomorrow is going to be busier than I thought!  Maybe I'll fast-forward to Wednesday instead.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Scavenger Hunt

For family night.....


At the Mall of America....


Yes, indeed, for family night last night we went on a scavenger hunt at the Mall of America!  What a hoot! Do you know how hard it is to find someone wearing red shorts in Minnesota when it is -10 outside?  Pink shorts were easy, but red ones?  None to be found!
  
We had to settle for red skorts, which were everywhere thanks to some dance competition at the mall earlier in the day.

Shaking hands with a security guard was probably the easiest thing to "find", that and cut-out people (they're everywhere at the Mall).

 

There were, apparently, no living famous people at the Mall last night, so we had to settle for some dead ones.


The Minnesota and American flags were easy enough to find.

It wasn't too difficult to find store clerks with three or more piercings either.


Pigs were also easy to come by.
I'm sure there were lots of mismatched socks, but they're a little hard to see when everyone is wearing long pants and shoes or boots.  Thanks to Nina's brilliant idea, our team did, indeed, find a young lady willing to show us her mismatched socks!!
Now, we're not quite sure which team won because bonus points were offered for several things.  If one of your team members is in the picture you get an extra point.  If all of your team members are in the picture you get a point for each person.  You also get double points if you find one person or thing that meets more than one of the criteria on the list.  For instance, this kind lady was a clerk with multiple piercings and colored hair.  I think she is worth four points!

Aside from having a blast, we learned that people are really nice about weird people coming up and asking to take their picture.

Yes, we DO have more fun than a family has a right to :-)

Friday, January 7, 2011

Shameless Plug

Once again I'm peddling things here on my blog :-)

This time it is a resource, a new resource, that I really like.  At our church we have something called the Fighter Verse Program.  The church body memorizes a verse or two of Scripture each week (obviously not everyone does this - it's completely voluntary).  Over the course of last year, we memorized Matthew 5-7.  It was really great!

Well, now they have a website where people within our church, or anyone else, can work on memorizing verses.  The website is called Fighter Verses and would encourage you to go there and take a peek.  I haven't explored it too thoroughly yet, but I did download the Fighter Verse app for my iPod and I'm VERY excited about that!

Anyway, it's been fun for us as a family to memorize Scripture together, except for the fact the kids can memorize much quicker than I can :-(   Raelea has this week's verse, Deuteronomy 7:9, down pat!

Enjoy!

I'm Back

Not that I'd been gone.  My absence here is not a result of my being out of the country (unfortunately).  It was actually a result two things: starting school again after the holiday break and my hubby being gone (to San Francisco).

The starting up school is always a shock to the system, both the children's and mine.  Something about having to get up at a certain time, and not being able to laze about all day produces less than stellar attitudes in all of us :-(

Having my hubby gone for several days is never fun either and gives me considerably less time to do some things, such as blogging.

All that to say, no blog posts all week, but don't worry, you didn't miss anything.

Monday, January 3, 2011

I Hate Being Cold!!

Just in case you were wondering.

I'm typing this while laying in bed with a warm (hot) corn bag on my feet and another one laying next to me. Despite what you might think, I am NOT in bed because I am tired. I am in bed because after ten o'clock the temperature around here starts to plummet. During the day we keep the temp. at an almost comfortable 70 degrees, but come 10 p.m. and it falls like a rock to our nighttime low of 60. :-(

So, out of curiosity, what do you set your thermostat to?

Saturday, January 1, 2011

She's Waited A Long Time

A month or more ago, Raelea made a request...a request for something made out of...cardboard...a request for a cardboard....lectern.

Well, we lacked the necessary cardboard for such a project until we purchased a new water softener.  After letting the kids play fort in the box for a day, it was converted to....a cardboard lectern...complete with chenille stick microphone.  From her new lectern, Raelea can frequently be seen preaching to anyone who will listen.  I will try to get some of this uploaded to YouTube, but for the time being a picture will have to suffice.


Lest you think that she is now satisfied with her cardboard collection, think again.  For room time today she requested cardboard make-up.  That was easy enough, but from her father she has requested a....wait for it....this is a good one....

a cardboard lawn mower.

Man!  I love that girl!!!  Someone should tell her she'll need a cardboard snow blower before she'll need the lawn mower!