"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

Saturday, July 30, 2011

In Hot Water

We are so happy to be in hot water again!  Our water heater sprung a leak on Wednesday, and we have been without hot water (in the kitchen) since then.  Thankfully, the water heater that broke was only for the kitchen, so we didn't have to take cold showers :-)

On the down side, the water heater was in a closet in the boys' room and so their carpeting got very wet, as did the wall.  Now it looks like we will replacing the carpeting in that room, as well as some of the sheetrock.  All of that isn't such a big deal, I just wish their beds were not so...substantial (as in, heavy as an elephant).  Moving them out of the room is going to be a back breaking task :-(

For the past several days, we've had these lovely appliances in the boys' room.  Have you ever seen an industrial dehumidifier?  Check out this baby...

And then we had the lovely fans.  All in all, we only popped the circuit breaker about five times.

And then, to the rescue, Raelea and Chris installed the new water heater!  Thanks, guys!!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Head Intact

I thought I better let you all know that my head did not actually explode while trying to buy those airline tickets. It came mighty close when the nice airline lady told me that unaccompanied minors must fly between 6:00 am and 7:00 pm (after I had picked out a flight landing at 10:00 pm).

But it's all over now! The tickets have been purchased. The accompaniment has been arranged and my oldest girls will be heading east in a month's time. And, my head is still intact.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Results Are In

Well, this little survey experiment was interesting.  It turns out that most of you do NOT fill out surveys!  That's okay; I love you anyway.

Here are the results of those brave souls who answered my questions:

19% of my blog readers are male, 81% female

6% of my readers are in the 11-20 age range, which was the same as the 60+ range.  A bulk of my readers (56%) are between the ages of 31 and 45.

I have a predominantly brown haired readership (69%), no red heads read my blog (Ben where are you??), and 12% have their hair dyed an unnatural color (I hope it's purple or something like that!)

93% of readers who participated are regular visitors to The Zoo (>10), while one brave soul filled out the survey on her first visit (Thank you, brave soul!)

A majority of you know me (75%), to the other 25%, thank you for reading, maybe we will meet someday :-), but please don't come stalking me.

Now let's look at favorite songs...
1 Hopeless Wanderer
2 Dvorak Symphony No. 7 in D minor, Op. 70
3 Freedom by Eddie James
4 Before the Morning - Josh Wilson or You're Beautiful - Phil Wickham
5 until the whole world hears-casting crowns
6 We're listening to a lot of songs from Annie to prepare for our trip to the theatre this week!
7 Jakob Dylan: Something Good This Way Comes
8 Anything on the local Christian station! or anything from GLEE
9 Great Is Our GOD
10 Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing
11 "I'm Hip" by Blossom Dearie
12 Forgiven by Skillet
13 You Never Let Go, by Matt Redman
14 Hopeless Wanderer, Lover's Eye's, England, Unfinished Business, The Cave, After the Storm, Know who I am yet? :)
15 Independence Day -Martina McBride 

Favorite Book...
1 Les Miserables
2 The Count of Monte Cristo
3 The Bible
4 Crime and Punishment
5 currently-the hawk and the dove
6 EVER? hmm... Well, right now I'm really enjoying "Loving the Little Years" by Rachel Jankovic. :)
7 Toughie...I'd prefer a top 5 or 10...The Willoughbys
8 Jonathon Livingston Seagull
9 I have too many to count
11 The Wisdom Hunter (recommended highly)
12 The Red Tent
13 All Quiet on the Western Front
14 Um, that's a tough one! And no, that's not the title of a book!
15 The Name of the Wind
16 The Poisonwood Bible- Barbara Kingsolver The Speckled People-Hugo Hamilton

Favorite food...
1 Chocolate!!!
2 Ice creme, or beer & peanuts!
3 Jamaican/chinese at the moment
4 Chinese
5 thai cuisine or greek
6 I haven't figured that out yet, but I've been eating a lot of beans and quinoa lately w/ fresh veggies and vinaigrette.
7 Cheese
8 Pasta
9 shrimp
10 Chinese
11 watermelon
12 Pizza
13 Cheesebuger Macaroni
14 Spaghetti
15 Grilled cheese, Spaghetti, lasagna, etc.
16 Tomatoes

There you have it!  The riveting survey results.  Don't we all feel so much closer now?

My Head Is Going To Explode

Really!  I'm not kidding!

I am trying to book a flight for Nina & Molly to go out to the East coast to spend some time with Nina's first mom, and it is causing the pressure to build in my head!  What should be a simple exercise in comparing prices and buying tickets has become a nightmare of comparing prices to three different airports and comparing airline policies regarding unaccompanied minors!

I have eight windows on my computer open as I type this.  Orbitz, Travelocity, TripAdvisor, Expedia, Delta, AirTran...you get the idea.  And that is not even counting the phone calls to various airlines.  Ugh! 

Okay, let me vent just this one little bit.

Why is it that Delta charges $100 each way to accompany a minor on a direct flight?  It's not like they're going to get lost in the airplane.  AirTran only charges $49 each way for a direct flight, unfortunately AirTran doesn't have a direct flight from here to there.  Still, they only charge $69 to accompany a child on non-direct flight, but then we're looking at four to eight hours of flight time for a 2 1/2 hour flight.

It gets even more complicated, in that Delta requires any child under 15 to be accompanied, while AirTran says that children over 12 can travel alone.  Let's just complicate matters more by the fact that Nina turns 15 on Sept. 2 and we were hoping to have them fly on Sept.1.

Oh, and let's not forget that you cannot buy tickets from the various discount sites when you have a minor flying alone.  Oh, no!  You MUST buy the tickets directly from the airline.

Argh....it's going to blow....take cover......

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

It's Not Too Late

To fill out my little survey, that is :-)  A rather poor showing on your part , folks.  Apparently my blog readers like to remain not only anonymous, but completely unknown.  That's okay.  It makes it kind of mysterious for me!

Anyway, while we're waiting for others to respond, I thought I would answer the question that have been posed to me so far.  Here we go...

1. What are you doing the rest of your life? How 'bout a date? ;-)
Well, I'm going to be living in blissful marriage...to you, you goofball!  
Sure, let's go on a date really, really soon!

2. If you could have any position in the world besides being an awesome wife and mom what would that be?
Independently wealthy comes to mind.  How about royalty?  I could get used to the traveling, adoration, and lovely accommodations.  No, if I had the talent (which I don't), I would love to be a musician.  In reality, when my stint as stay-at-home mom is over I plan on getting a job in customer service.  I think I'm gaining massive amounts of experience each day, so I will be infinitely qualified.

3. How many times a day do you listen to Mumford and Sons!
Oh, I like this question!  Define times.  Are we talking minutes/hours, songs, or some other measure?  Um, definitely every time I am in the car - with the radio very loud and the windows all rolled down - the very best way to listen to M & S!  I also sometimes listen when I exercise because then I can watch YouTube videos of them.  Let's see, I also listen to them when I'm cooking dinner, if there's not too much other noise in the house and if no one is with me...I can't take being interrupted while listening :-)

4. What does a "typical" day look like during the school year. How do you teach all of our children at once and still keep up with all the other things you have to do?
There are no typical days around here!  Every single one is a unique adventure.  I just never know what will happen once the natives get restless.  Okay, here's a rundown of the ideal day (which only exists in my mind).
5:30 I roll out of bed, shower, make muffins or something for the kids, read my Bible, pray with Chris
7:15 The first munchkins start appearing (we don't allow them out of their room until 7:15)
7:30 I wake up the rest of the kids
8:30 I do reading lessons with anyone learning to read
9:00 The rest of school starts - We start with the subjects that we all do together and then go down the line as far as which subjects are done with other people, finishing with the subjects that are done alone (really only math and writing)
1:00 I make lunch
2:00 room time for the kids (none of them nap anymore, but they do have to spend time in their room for everyone's sanity), I exercise for 30 minutes

School is done whenever the kids finish their work, I just make sure the stuff that I am involved with gets done first, so that I can get other things done, like laundry (M-W-F), making dinner, etc.  Housecleaning primarily gets done on Sat. with everyone chipping in to help.

There you have it, my only little dream world!  In reality I'm usually pulling my hair out trying to unload the washer while explaining algebra to a student who hates algebra.  Then I hang the clothes on the line while dealing with a massive sibling squabble. And I make lunch while making phone calls and correcting writing assignments.

5. How is Snickers doing?
Aw, thanks for asking!  She's doing well.  Her incision looks good and she is acting like her old self again.  It's a little hard to keep her on restricted activity when she is "feeling fine."  Her hair is starting to grow back, too.

6. I find snail mail harder to use now that there is cyper space, how about you?
I never used snail mail much, just ask my mom!  Or maybe this is Mom asking...I did just send my Dad his belated birthday gift in the mail because I keep forgetting to give it to him when I see him!

7. Favorite Movie?
Ugh, that's hard!  The one's that come to mind are the one's that I've seen recently. Let's see, how about I just list off some of the movies I like?  The Prestige, A Beautiful Mind, Inception, Pride & Prejudice, Braveheart, Mulan, Lord of the Rings, Schindler's List

That's all for now!  I'll give the old survey another day or so, and then I'll post the riveting results!  I'll clue you in though, apparently there is a shortage of male readers to my blog, or the men just don't like to take surveys!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Tell Me About Yourself

Blogging is a little bit one-sided, if you hadn't noticed.  I sit here and type and share and expose all sorts of embarrassing things about myself and you sit in front of your computer or device and read.  When I get together with friends I have nothing left to tell them because they've already read "the blog."  Even more awkward is when I'm meeting someone for the first time and they say, "Oh, I read your blog."

A little bit creepy!

Okay, not really, but I thought I would make an attempt to get to know my readers, in a completely anonymous sort of way, of course.  So, if you are so inclined, I have created this lovely survey for you to complete.

Now those of you lurking out there in cyber-land, don't freak out and never come back here again, just completely ignore the survey if you want.  Don't worry, I'm not going to find out where you live and show up on your doorstep :-)  Unless you want me to, and offer to make me some yummy dessert...then I'll be there as soon as I can.

Now that was fun and painless, wasn't it? I'll post the results later! Ciao!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Blueberries Are Ready

We did our annual trek to Wisconsin on Friday to pick blueberries.  It's an hour and a half drive and it is so worth it!  Rush River Produce has the BEST blueberries I've ever eaten.  I am sure that all 12 pounds of blueberries I picked will be gone before the berries are ripe again next summer.  They will be picking on in to August, so if you are within a couple hours of Maiden Rock, WI, I strongly encourage you to go get some nummy berries!

Look What Nina Did To Me

Have I told you lately how talented Nina is?  She does this all freehand - just looks at the picture and draws it on me!  Think of the money I'm saving by having her around....oh,wait....I paid for the henna, so I guess I didn't save any money, but it was worth it!

Thanks, Nina!!



Just thought I'd let you know :-)

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Love This Picture

Nina's friend, Ruthie, took this picture of her.  I love it so much I had to share :-)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

And That's How It's Done

You all know I've used this very blog to "report" on various companies that have poor customer service. Because of that, it is only right that I also praise those businesses that know how to deal with their customers.

Today's praise is for REI! It was already one of my favorite stores, and, as of this week, I have yet another reason to LOVE REI.

Here's the story:

About two or three years ago, we bought a couple of folding lawn chairs from REI. They were the most comfortable lawn chairs I've ever sat in (also the most expensive we've ever bought, but that's okay because we bought them with our REI dividend money - but that's a whole 'nother story). Anyway, we loved these chairs, the kids loved these chairs, everyone loved these chairs.

So, when we were camping this past weekend, you can imagine our surprise when we looked at the bottom side of the chairs and noticed that they had both torn at a seam on the underside. They were still usuable, but were definitely not going to remain so for long. Knowing how wonderful REI is, we promptly brought the chairs back to REI, and after several years of using the chairs, they refunded the entire original price of the chairs! (and we promptly turned around and purchased new REI lawn chairs)

So, if you are looking for extremely comfortable, well-made lawn chairs, I highly recommend REI to you. Actually, I would recommend them to you for many, many other things as well....I am particularly fond of their clothing :-)

Well done, my friends at REI! See you again very soon!

Book Recommendation

I just finished a book that Evan told me I must read. Having completed it, I must agree, it was a good read. So, if you are looking for an interesting fictional read this summer, may I recommend to you The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss?

The only downside to the book is that it's the first book of a trilogy, and the third book has yet to be published. So, I'm moving on to the second book, but then I will have to wait for an unknown amount of time to get the end of the story.

My Poor Baby

Poor Snickers went under the knife yesterday to remove a large and growing tumor on her back.  It was hard on her and on me :-(  I don't do well when my pets are suffering.

Anyway, all went well.  There were no complications and she is now home and healing.  It's a little hard for Mumford to understand why she can't play with Snickers, but Snickers is enjoying the respite from her little tormentor, I mean sister.

To answer the most often asked questions, was it cancerous; we don't know.  We chose save $100 and not get it biopsied.  Most boxers do die of cancer, so we know she probably has that in her future, but for the time being she is healthy and doesn't have the hideous growth on her back anymore.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

I Miss Molly!

Molly has been away on a mission trip since last Wednesday, and I REALLY miss her :-(  She, on the other hand, is having a wonderful time!  Three more days until I get to see her smiley face and her crazy hair again....boo hoo!  I wish it was today!

Once Again

While I was away for the weekend, beautiful improvements happened to my home!

Let's see, this is the third time I've gone away this summer, only to come home to wonderful additions/improvements.  Maybe I should go away more often :-)  Oh, Chris just nixed that idea!  He said we can't afford to have me go away more often.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Happy 40th Birthday!

Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday dear Bethany camper, happy birthday to you!

Yes, our wonderful pop-up camper turned 40 this year!

This is the camper that I've camped in since I was five years old.  There are many, many happy memories associated with it and I am so thankful that my kids also are having memories made in that camper.  Just the smell of it brings a smile to my face (yes, the camper has a distinct smell) and the lovely orange patterned cushions are, well, I guess they're retro now.

Those Bethany folks sure knew how to build a camper that lasts.  A special shout out to Terry D. - nice job on the campers!! (although I don't think you made this one)

As long as I'm extolling our camping equipment, I should put in a little side note about our lovely pantry.  It's not quite 40 years old yet, but it must be getting close.  My dad built this beauty for our family when I was young to make it easy to pack up and go camping.

It also was built to last...and painted a lovely orange to match the cushions in the camper :-)  Thanks, Dad!

Iowa Was HOT

Our little adventure to Iowa was wet and HOT and, of course, fun.  

We drove to Iowa in a torrential downpour, but it stopped raining before we got there, so we didn't have to set up in the rain.  It actually didn't rain until we were all in bed...and then it poured....and thundered...and poured some more.  This all was enough to wake up all children and dogs and cause several of them to be quite frightened.

Snickers likes to pant frantically when she is scared, and she is scared of thunder.  So, she spent about an hour panting in my face in the middle of the night....that was fun.  Then she really got scared and climbed into bed with me.  Eventually everyone fell back to sleep and I slept until Mumford woke me up to go out at 6:00.  

The next night was much better for sleeping, aside from the stifling heat and  humidity.  That is until 5:10, when Mumford had to be let out.  I wasn't about to get up at 5:10, so after she took care of business we went back in the camper.  That's when Mumford decided that the only way she was going back to sleep was if she could lay on top of me, so she did, and we slept another hour.

Aside from the sleeping adventures, it was just plain HOT!!  

Here's the weekend in pictures.

The heat made us all a little crazy...crazier than usual that is.

My niece Rachel.  I'm not really sure what she's doing..

Nina turned into a cannibal...don't worry, folks, she's eating her own leg.

 Zoe felt like sleeping would be the best way to forget about the heat,

until she discovered there was water to immerse herself in.

Despite Mumford's pleading looks, Nina refused to share her ice cream cone.

The activities of the weekend and the two hour drive home without air conditioning apparently took their toll on Marcus and Raelea.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Yay, Raelea!!

Look what Raelea did for the first time today...

She's actually been ABLE to ride her bike since last year, but today is the first day that she has felt confident enough to actually DO it.  Needless to say, she doesn't want to stop riding it now!

Iowa It Is

While every campground in Minnesota and western Wisconsin is either full, closed or too blasted expensive, Iowa apparently has an abundance of vacancies in their state parks!  So, for our little weekend camping trip we are heading south to the lovely corn field, I mean state, of Iowa!  Just a mere two hour drive away and we will be splashing in a (questionably) lovely lake in Iowa.

Not only that, it appears that it is REALLY cheap to go to Iowa's state parks.  While it costs $22/night to stay at a Minnesota state park on top of a  $25 annual permit, Iowa only charges $16/night with NO entrance permit required :-)  I am liking Iowa more and more :-)

I have approximately 28 hours to get everything together for a weekend camping trip....hmmm, this should be fun :-D

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

You've Got To Be Kidding


we were going to go camping this weekend, but since the state of Minnesota has shut down, ALL of the state parks are closed (and apparently being vandalized).  This has resulted in ALL of the county parks/campgrounds filling up.  This then leaves us with private campgrounds as the only options.

This is where my beef comes in.  While the site cost for a private campground isn't too much more than a state park, you need to read the fine print; namely the extra fees they charge if you have more than 2 (yes, count them, 2) children.  Well, let's see how this works...

Site charge $33/night (that's not too bad)


Since we don't all fit in one tent or camper and you can only have one unit per site, we'll need two sites...

now we're up to $66/night.  Hmm, I might consider that, but that is only for 2 adults (apparently anyone over 12) and two kids per site.

Let's see, that leaves us with one extra adult and one extra child.  That will be an additional $8/night.  Now I'm up to $74/night....for a campsite (or two).  Compared to the $22/night at the state parks.  I'm sorry, folks, but why exactly do I need to pay extra for additional children?  It's not like the park is feeding them or clothing them or sending them to college.

Okay, so it doesn't look like we'll be going camping this weekend.  Bummer!  I sure hope the state of Minnesota gets its act together before our scheduled camping trip in August!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

It's Shrinking!

The house, that is.  I can think of no other explanation for the feeling that we're just going to burst out of the walls of this house.  Surely, the house is getting smaller....quickly!

Okay, maybe it's not REALLY shrinking.  It just feels like it because we keep adding things like this...

Mumford's a great addition to the family, but she does take up space!  Particularly because she needs to be kenneled until she's potty trained.

And then this week, the girls came home with one of these...

Yes, my girls who are learning tenor drum (Nina & Emily) finally have a drum on which to play.  This is  good, but where on earth am I going to store this thing?  They will get a second drum next Thursday (because they obviously both need one).  I guess I could use them as matching end tables, but I'm not sure how the band would like that.

Just wait until I get my hammered dulcimer!  Where am I going to put that thing????  I guess the addition of a music room cannot be far in the future!

It's About Time

Some things get put off.  Some things get put off a loooong time!

Today we tackled one of those projects that had been put off far too long - cleaning out the storage room!  It's been needing this since about the week after we moved in here...seven years ago.  You see, when we moved in we just started shoving whatever didn't have a home into the storage room.  Over the past seven years it had gotten more and more cluttered and more and more out of control.  It had finally reached the breaking point.  You could barely get in the door to get anything out of there, and heaven forbid if there was a tornado.  We'd never all fit in that room!  (it's the only room in the basement without windows, as we live in a split-level)

Anyway, just to prove my point, here are the before pictures...

And then, after approximately four hours of removing EVERYTHING from the storage room, sorting through some of it, and putting stuff back, here are the results....

Wasn't the most fun I've ever had, but it was well worth the time and effort!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


So, Aidan was over at a friend's house yesterday with a group of guys.  Here is an account of what they did.

Well, we hung out and then we did some boxing.  After that we went to the man cave...

Since when did my 11 year old know what a man cave was??

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


My Apologia Physical Science book is missing!  I vaguely remember loaning it to someone, but can't recall who that someone is.  If you are that someone who has my book could you please let me know :-)


Creepy Creature

Here's what we found on our boat lift on Sunday...

It's body was at least an inch long.  We've affectionately named her Shelob. 

Monday, July 4, 2011

What I Learned Today

It's really easy to get in 10,000 steps when looking for your lost child for two hours in Edina.

What I Learned This Weekend

Hello, all!

What exactly did I learn this weekend?  I learned that it is possible to have a wonderful time at the cabin, even without electricity or running water!

How did I learn such a valuable lesson?  Well, it went something like this....

First, we saw this....

Then the power went out.  After several tense minutes, we then saw several things like this.....

After the rain stopped, night followed, and then Saturday which found "the men" doing this...

After the chainsaw stopped buzzing we had an exquisite  weekend doing this....

We stayed until mid-afternoon on Sunday and were still without power and thus, without water.  So, you see, it is possible to have a wonderful weekend at the cabin without running water or electricity assuming you have a few things:

1) An outhouse
2) Ice
3) A city park from which to get potable water
4) A grill
5) Gorgeous weather
6) A boat
7) A lake

Oh, one more thing I learned this weekend...you can make French toast on a grill :-)