"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, March 31, 2012


Thank you to all who voted in my very unscientific survey!  The survey showed that only 10% of you said I should NOT go see the Hunger Games.  The remaining 90% was split evenly between 'going to the movie' and 'read the book and then go to the movie.'

Regardless, the whole thing is a moot point because I woke up this morning with a really nasty cold, and I feel like my head is going to explode.  If that happened in the movie theater, it would cause quite a disruption! So.....no Hunger Games for me today.

Now off to blow my nose....

Thursday, March 29, 2012

A Boy's Best Friend

Sad over the death of his hamster, Aidan found some comfort in hanging out with Mumford.

Boys and dogs!  I love them!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Help Me Decide

Just a little poll to help me decide what to do on Saturday. It should be noted that the said children have all seen the movie at least once already (some more than once). It should also be noted that when they describe the movie to me, what I hear is, "And then so-and-so killed so-and-so..." and "It was so sad when so-and-so died...." and ".....die....killed....little kid killed....big kid killed...."

 You get the picture.  I'm really a fan of movies about cute puppies and rainbows :-)

Not really!  But it does seem a little...er...DARK!  BUT, my beautiful children, whom I love with all my heart REALLY want me to go with them.  Anyway....go ahead and vote :-)

Monday, March 26, 2012

Time For A Change

When you're doing something over and over again and it's just not working, you know it's time for a change.  That's where we were with some issues we are having with some of our kids.  Parenting the way that worked for some of our kids, just isn't working for some of the others.

Time for a change!

Unfortunately, changing your parenting style is a little more complicated and difficult than changing your toilet paper or laundry detergent.  After 18 years of parenting, you kind of get in a routine - a habit of sorts.  And habits die hard and then keep resurrecting themselves at very inopportune moments!

Here's the deal - a couple of months ago I started attending a parenting class at church called Parenting the Wounded Child (or at least I think that's the name of the class).  Regardless, the class is watching a DVD by Dr. Karyn Purvis, and truthfully it has been revolutionary in my life.  I started attending the class to get help with/for some of our kids and discovered that it has helped ME tremendously with myself.

I can be a very emotionally volatile person.  This is not very conducive to good parenting!  It has been something I've struggled with for all 18 years of motherhood.  I've prayed, I've begged, I've pleaded with God to change me or help me or do whatever He could to make it not so.  Finally, thankfully, I feel like those prayers have been answered.  Although I still occasionally get angry or frustrated with my kids, it is MUCH less frequent than before.  This makes me VERY happy :-)

That said, life around here has gotten MUCH harder.  You see, I mistakenly thought that with our new approach to parenting things would get better.  That didn't happen.  It seems that the new calmer Mom is bringing out all sorts of "issues" with some of our kids :-(  I'm hoping, and reasonably certain (today, at least), that the behavioral issues we are dealing with at the current time will subside, and the end result will be very good.  In the meantime, please pray for me and for us.

I'm sorry for being a little vague in this post.  I've been wanting to write it for some time, but because it involves my kids I need to be careful with how much information I give you.  That said, I would HIGHLY encourage anyone who's adopted an older child (age 3 or up) to listen to Dr. Purvis' Trust-based Parenting DVD.  Also, I would be happy to talk to any of you who want more information, you can reach me at barb.abts at gmail.com.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

All In A Day's Work

Lots of stuff happened around here today.  Just look and see -

Chris was hard at work doing lawn repair.  Our dear puppy spends most of her days doing lawn destruction!

Nina's salon was open for business as she colored and highlighted my sister's hair.

Brother-in-law Peter and his arborist friend, Mike, took down a large tree in our backyard.  Btw, if you live in Minnesota and need some tree work done, Mike & Peter do excellent work!  Just let me know and I will get you in touch with them.

Molly's henna salon did a booming business as well, and many of us are now sporting henna tattoos.

And when all the work was done, the kids got to go for a ride in the basket of the truck.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Mental Health Holiday

Today, I enjoyed a mental health holiday courtesy of my sweet husband.  It was either a mental health holiday or there was going to be a mental health crisis :-)

So what did I do on my day off from life?

Well, I slept until 9:20.  Didn't get out of my pajamas until 10:45.  Enjoyed my quiet time outside in the sun.  Went to a long lunch with my dear friend Tami.  Ran a few errands.  Went home and worked out.

All the while, Chris did school with the kids and handled ALL issues that arose during the day :-)  He even did the laundry!

What a great day!

And tomorrow it's back to the old grind...up at 5:30 to go grocery shopping...

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

I'm Being Had

You might not be able to teach an old dog new tricks, but I can assure you that an old dog can teach an old person new tricks!

Take Snickers for instance, she's an old dog and she taught me a new trick this week!  She taught me how to give her a nummy diet of people food this week.

You see, she started off her week by throwing up several times every day.  Kindly she didn't do this on the new carpeting.  In an effort to help the old dog keep her food down, I put her on a bland diet of rice and chicken.  Alas, she has been eating that without any stomach upset and I decided to mix a little kibble in with it this morning to transition her back to dog food.  She quite daintily ate all the rice and chicken and spit out the kibble on the floor (where Mumford came along and ate it).  So, for the rest of the day I just fed her rice and chicken.

See how well she has me trained!

Super Powers

You may not know this about me, but I have a super power!  Even my kids just discovered this tonight.

You see, as we were driving home from church tonight, we were having an enthusiastic discussion about the topics they discussed in their Wednesday night classes - respect, sex, how to talk to girls, etc.  (I should mention the little kids weren't in the car at this time!)  Anyway, somehow the discussion came around to "who do you 'like'"

Molly painfully brought up the fact that she once told me who she liked and then (when she no longer 'liked' this person) I told someone her secret.  (Bad Mom!!!  It's okay, you can say it!)

Anyway, this produced quite the outcry in the car, with many children vowing that they would NEVER tell me who they liked!!!!  To which I responded...well, first I told them I would never share their secret while they still liked that person...but then I responded, "That's okay, I can tell who you like without you telling me!"

They were incredulous...and skeptical, to say the least.  So, one girl-child, who will remain nameless, chimes in, "Okay!  So who do I like right now???!!!"  *must be said in a rather cocky, you'll-never-get-this-right voice*

This is where it gets really good folks!  I confidently say, "Oh!  I know who you like right now!"  *pause for dramatic effect - and to try to remember the name* "You like __________"(name left out because I learned from my previous mistake)

Oh, the response was priceless!  From the backseat, I hear in a rather baffled and befuddled voice, "Uh....um....no...."

At that point I knew my super power was still intact!  Just the tone of her voice told me I had hit a bullseye!  She confessed, that, yes, I did indeed guess correctly.  And ever since then she has been badgering me, "How did you know???"  "Who else have I liked???"

Tee hee hee!  I'm not about to give away the secrets of my super power, but my children have a new respect for their mother's abilities!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Geeky Science Stuff

Rarely does my geekiness show more than when I am preparing to teach science at co-op.  I just get so excited about the interesting things I find out while doing lesson prep!

Here's today's bit of geeky science information -

The USGS (US Geological Survey) has a page  that tells you how many 5.0 magnitude or greater earthquakes there have been in the past week.  Did you know that in the past seven days there have been 31 earthquakes around the world that measured 5.0 or greater?  Of those, eight have been in Japan and seven have been in Mexico.

Fascinating stuff!

I love the USGS website!  There is also a page that shows you the location of 1.0 or greater earthquakes in the US in the past seven days.  Not a single one in Minnesota, I'll have you know, but it looks like my Tennessee friends have had a couple.  Oh, and it looks like one in Missouri and one in Arkansas...and of course, bunches of them out on the west coast.

As long as we're talking about great science websites, you really should hang out at the NASA website as well!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Well, That Went Quickly

Hmm, how can it be Monday already?  It was just Friday a few seconds ago...or so it feels.

The weather was GORGEOUS, so we took advantage of that at every opportunity, starting with a bonfire on Friday night.  The kids wanted to roast hot dogs over the fire (which meant I didn't have to cook dinner).  It was great, except the mosquitoes are already out!  Who would have thought that I'd have mosquito bites on March 16?

This is why we needed to have a bonfire.  We have a very large pile of brush from taking down a tree in our yard.  It's either burn it or chip it.  I think we'll end up doing some of both, as we are having another tree taken down next week.  Here's my hubby hard at work sawing up branches.

On Saturday, we had a bit of a family reunion on Chris' side of the family.  His brother, Dan, who lives in Virginia came up to see Shannon, so four of the five boys were all together.  It's been 14 years since these four have been together.  It was a bittersweet time.
Shannon, Chris, Darren & Dan

Sunday was busy with church, Molly's orchestra concert (sorry, no pictures), and small group.

Now it's back to school we go...

Friday, March 16, 2012

Welcome Back?

My dear Italian reader, are you back?

I've missed you! :-(

Too Funny

Someone found my blog because they did a Google search on "blue toilet."

I find that very amusing!

Thursday, March 15, 2012


Vicki asked me for an update on our family's health issues, so I thought I would post it out here.

My mom is doing much better.  She had surgery last Friday to repair her leg.  They ended up putting a titanium rod in her leg, which was the better of the two options, as it provides the bones with stability.  Since they put the rod in, she is able to bear some weight on that leg already.

She was released from the hospital on Tuesday, and Dad was able to find a condo with an elevator for them to stay at during the remainder of their time in Alabama.  They were supposed to leave Alabama on the 23rd (or 24th - I don't remember), but since Mom is still recovering, they will stay down there to the end of the month.  One of my siblings or I will fly down at that time, to help Dad with the driving on the trip home.

Shannon is hanging in there.  We were misinformed about his prognosis originally.  As it stands now, he has about another week or so of being able to live at his apartment and then will probably have to enter hospice care.  Please continue to pray for him.  Also pray for Chris, as he is/will be the one helping to make the health care decisions and dealing with the hospice/doctors, etc.

Thank you for all your prayers.  They are very much appreciated!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A Future Architect

Give a boy some blocks and he'll...

build a church, apparently!  When Marcus asked me to come see what he made, I wasn't expecting this lovely structure.  I'm thinking he might have a career in architecture!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

More Romantica

I just like this band so much, I have to keep posting their stuff out here!  This actually isn't Romantica, just Ben Kyle FROM Romantica.  If you want to hear his whole band perform the song, you'll have to go out on YouTube :-)  I like this version.
Thanks again to Nikki for introducing me to this music :-)

Wait No More

Translation:  For you were called to freedom... (Galatians 5:13)

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Deed's Been Done

I told you I was going to do it, and now I did it!  I got my tattoo today :-)  The first question everyone asks is, "Did it hurt?"  So, I'll just go ahead and answer that for you all right here.

Yes, it hurt.  What did you expect, they're sticking a needle into me!

But, it didn't hurt too badly, and after awhile you stop noticing the pain.  It helps to have a nice conversation with the tattoo artist.  Gets your mind off the fact that she's sticking a needle into you.

The second question everyone asks is, "Can I see it?"  So, I guess I should show it to you here.

Ha! Psych!

Sorry, no pictures yet.  I have to keep it covered until tomorrow morning (and I was told no peeking is allowed).  I may post a picture tomorrow, or I may wait until it has healed completely because they look a bit scary when they are scabbed over!

Take my word for it, it looks cool!!!

Sunday, March 11, 2012


I was sitting at church this morning and they started showing a video about prayer.  You can imagine my glee when this song was the background music for the video....

Beyond absolutely loving this song, it was a particularly gleeful moment because of this.

Can I just say, " I love my church!"

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Just One More

It's not new, but I still haven't seen it performed live. :-( So, for the time being, this will have to do.

This one is for you, Jen B.!

Friday, March 9, 2012

A New Song

Some good news to counter the bad...

 The boys have come up with a new song. Enjoy!

Please Pray

Well, when it rains, it pours.  Looking for prayers from all my blog buddies and Facebook friends.  We've had two crises this week that we would really appreciate prayer about.

1) Chris' older brother, Shannon, has been diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer.  Shannon told us this on Tuesday, and he has been given about two weeks to live.  Please pray that Shannon would come to know Jesus Christ as his personal savior and that he would be comforted in this time.

2) We just got a call this morning telling us that my mom has fallen and broke her hip (the opposite one from the one she broke last year).  She is still in Alabama, and will be undergoing surgery around noon (CST) today to put the bone back together.  Please pray for a successful surgery, quick recovery and provision for housing arrangements (they'll need something without any steps) during their remainder of their time there.  Also, for the details of how to get her back home to MN when the time comes - flying is not an option (risk of blood clots) and driving will have its own challenges.

Thanks so much!  I am so thankful to have a God that hears and answers prayer!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

You Can Read Anytime

A certain daughter of mine shared with me tonight that she is MORTIFIED that some of her friends read my blog.  Apparently, she thinks my blog should only be read by middle-aged moms!  Hmm!  She actually forbade her friend from reading my blog!  Can you believe it?

Well, I am here to say to all my children's friends, "You may continue to read my blog all you want!"  You will find all sorts of interesting and useful tidbits of information out here! Read a way!

Jellybeans, Massages & Prayer

What do these three things have in common?

Well, tonight, God used those three things to bring me out of a funk.  You know, that funk I wrote about yesterday.  Well, truth be told, the issues surrounding the hard day of yesterday have been going on for quite some time - the details will remain shrouded in secrecy to protect the guilty, but life's been hard around here.

Now, I'm a fairly positive person, but when the mountains keep getting bigger and bigger, I turn tail and crawl in a hole.  When I'm in my hole, I'm not a very happy or hopeful person which, by the way, does nothing to improve the atmosphere of the home!

Anyway, I've been in my hope-less hole a lot this week and today was no different.  However, despite feeling quite ill, I knew I needed to go to church tonight, because Wednesday nights I go to a very special parenting class at church.  A parenting class with people who "get it."  Some of you are asking, "Get what?"  :-)  Get what it's like to parent children who's needs are above and beyond what your average child needs, who can't be parented the way "most" children can be parented, who, despite the best intentions and efforts of the parents, continue to resist the love offered them.  Now some of you read that and still don't get it, and that's okay, but those of us in the trenches every day parenting wounded kids need to occasionally be around people who do "get it."

Anyway, back to my trio of jellybeans, massages and prayer.  I went to my class tonight and shared (in more detail) what has been going on around here of late.  After class, one woman came up and just started giving me a back massage (turns out she's a massage therapist - how convenient), while she was doing this another woman offered to pray for me (us) and so a few people gathered around and prayed while massage-lady targeted pressure points in my back.  After the prayer and massage (and a few jellybeans) I felt totally encouraged and hope-filled again!  I kid you not, I feel like a new woman!

Funny side note: the massage lady started to give another mom a back massage as well and she told us, "Your backs are more tense than the construction workers that I work on!"  That doesn't surprise me!

So, thank you, God, for people who pray, people who give massages and people who put bowls of jellybeans on the table!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

So, How Was Your Day?

Well, not sure what to blog about when I've had a REALLY hard day.  Maybe it's the post-vacation blues.  Normally I can bounce out of things and see the positive, but it just ain't happening tonight.

I hope your day has been better than mine! I am thankful that God's mercies are new every morning :-)

Oh, there were some very bright points of the day as well!  They just happened in Nashville ;-)

Monday, March 5, 2012

Back To Reality

I figured I better post about our safe return home.

We did, indeed, arrive safely back at home.  Despite torrential rains on Friday night (but no tornadoes) and a child vomiting in the car (after Chris uttered those famous words, "You're not going to throw up."), we pulled up to a clean house on Saturday evening.

I'm very thankful to come home to a clean house; a happy, healthy son; happy, healthy dogs; and happy, healthy bunnies!  Thanks to Evan, Deb, Peter, Rachel, Tami and family, and Olivia and family for all they did to make this vacation happen! And of course, a HUGE thank you to Mom & Dad for putting up with all the noise for a week and letting us enjoy the sand and surf!  We love you!

After only two days, the giant pile of laundry has been tamed, and we put in a full day of school.  Life is back to "normal."

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Food & Fun

What's  vacation without amazing food?

Today we went to Pensacola, not just to go to the Naval Air Museum, but also to go to McGuire's.  If you've never been there, you should definitely go next time you are in Pensacola (or Destin).

 One of the unique things about McGuire's is the decor which consists primarily of signed dollar bills covering the walls and ceiling.  Somewhere in the mess of dollars are several signed by members of our family (put there last year).

 But the best part about McGuire's is the food, specifically the Shepherd's Pie, which is amazing!

After filling our stomachs, we divided up into two groups. Half went to the Naval Air Museum and the other half went to the Wentworth History Museum (both free).  The high point of the history museum is the hands-on Creole village.  My little kids have always loved this place, and today, even my older kids had a blast reliving their childhood.

Once we got back to the house, it was time for another tradition...eating crayfish. 
Meet Mr. Crayfish

Most of the family just eat the meat in the tail, but Dad also likes to "suck" the head of a crayfish.

Sorry, no pictures from the Air Museum, as I was not in that group :-)

Four Years

Wow, time flies!  Four years ago yesterday, we landed in Minnesota and were no longer of family with six kids, but one with eight.  Going from six to eight kids was a big adjustment for me.  Not sure why.  Going from zero to one was the biggest change, but after that every additional child was added in quite smoothly until we jumped from six to eight.

Since it was our first "older child" adoption, that probably had a lot to do with it, not to mention jet-lag.  Maybe it was because it was a busy time in our lives anyway with homeschooling and Raelea's therapy, or maybe t was the language barrier.  Who knows?

We've come  a LONG way in four years, but I would be lying if I said that all the adjustments are over and we're not still dealing with adoption issues.  We are. But, much, MUCH progress has been made over the course of the last four years, and for that we're thankful.

One last thought, people occasionally ask us if we celebrate Gotcha Day with our adopted kids.  The answer to that is no.  Because we have both biological and adopted kids, we have opted not to make too big of a deal out of Gotcha Day, since only six of the eight HAVE Gotcha Days.  We do make mention to our adopted kiddos the day we brought them home, but we do not make a big hullabaloo about it.  That's just what we have decided to do :-)