"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

Friday, June 29, 2012

Hopefully Some Answers

Aidan's off to the orthopedist this morning to hopefully find answers to why his legs hurt so much when he runs.  He is still holding on hope to be able to run the 5K with me at the end of August.  I let you know what they find out :-)

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Well Said

This is kind of long, but well worth the read.  Sometimes other people say things WAY better than I ever could, and that is the case here.  The following is a Facebook post from Frank Peretti.  Enjoy!

by Frank Peretti
So what is Faith?

As I said in my last post, Faith, among other things, is a deep, abiding trust in God that grows with time and experience.

I remember sitting at lunch one Sunday with some friends and some Bible School students, and as we talked about life and how God works and got on the subject of faith and miracles, one pretty student said excitedly, “Oh, I want everything God has for me.”

Now, being an older guy with some miles on my frame, I couldn’t help thinking that her expectations were going to get some adjustment before long. Truth is, what God mostly has in store for us is not a miracle around every corner, as cool as that would be. What God mostly has in store for each of us is ...

Years and years of Real Life.

Life as God meant it is Real Life and you have to live it. Faith will grow as you Go Through the Middle, but an End Run isn’t normally in the plan.

Just ask Peter and James:

“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you." I Peter 4:12

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4

And I’m sure, as Peter, James, and any Christian who’s been walking with the Lord for a good many years will confirm, the walk of Faith is not so much a series of miraculous explosions as it is a Long, Slow Burn.

Sure, “explosions” are nice. Some folks become “blessing hoppers,” hopping from church to church, event to event, showing up wherever there is something “happening” so they can get a quick charge, a mountaintop experience to keep them “on fire,” “walking in victory,” “on top.” But true Faith doesn’t come from the mountaintops; it comes from the valleys in between when you really need it.

It’s ...
Moses herding sheep in the wilderness.
Joseph sitting in prison.
David fleeing before Saul.
Paul arrested and then shipwrecked.
Jacob working for 14 years for his wife Rachel.
Abraham waiting for a son and just getting older and older.
And don’t forget Jesus Himself in the wilderness for forty days.

ALL of which, I’ll be quick to say, bore fruit and ended very nicely. Yep, there’s a glorious pay-off on the other side of it.

And of course there’s Paul the Apostle, an experienced master at hangin’ in there and Going Through the Middle:

“I have worked harder, been put in jail more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. I have traveled many weary miles. I have faced danger from flooded rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the stormy seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be Christians but are not. I have lived with weariness and pain and sleepless nights. Often I have been hungry and thirsty and have gone without food. Often I have shivered with cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm. Then, besides all this, I have the daily burden of how the churches are getting along.” II Corinthians 11:24-28.

And did I say there was a pay-off? Sure.

“For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:11.

And in Paul’s case - in fact, in the case of every believer who has walked with God through good and bad times and learned to trust Him through experience, there’s a beautiful and reassuring result: Knowing God.

Paul, in prison and about to die, writes to Timothy:
“[God chose me to be a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Good News.]
And that is why I am suffering here in prison. But I am not ashamed of it, for I KNOW the one in whom I trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until the day of his return.” II Timothy 1:11-12.

Through years of trusting God on a deeper and deeper level, Paul came to KNOW God and entrust everything to Him, even at the point of death.

Now that’s Faith - the unshakable, rock-under-your-feet, always-there kind, and there’s no quick and easy, End Run way to get it.

So when I think of that dear young student saying, “I want everything God has for me,” I can’t help thinking, “Wow, I’m looking at myself forty years ago.” I think of how far she’ll journey, how many bumps she’s going to hit and crevasses she’s going to fall into AND how many victories she’s going to achieve if she just presses on, and I think ...

Godspeed, young lady!

Walk with God. Press on.
Some of it will be glorious, a lot of it will be tough.
Some things you will understand, and for some things there will simply be no answers.
But press on because you’ll make it. God will always carry you as a father carries his child, in all the ways that you go, until you arrive at every promise He has for you.

And every time you get there, you will KNOW Him a little better.

That's just the way He is.

Claudia's Cooking School

Nina spent the morning doing two of her favorite things, learning to cook something new and spending time with our friend Claudia!  Now we have a really nummy authentic Mexican dinner just waiting for us to eat...and I didn't have to cook :-)   This is a good situation all around!

The beautiful cooks!

Some of the beautiful food!
A special thanks to Claudia (and Edison) for being so hospitable :-)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

How Did This Happen?

I've made it 46 years in life without falling to the coffee addiction.  Then....like a little stealthy rabbit...I'm hooked!  It all started with those glorious carmel coffee smoothies at The Buzz.  They made me totally forget that I didn't like coffee.  Then Molly started making frappuccinos at home...and then there was this....

This book is going to be my downfall!  On the flip-side, at least I'm not spending a fortune buying coffee drinks.  Molly just makes them for me in the comfort of our own home :-)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

That's What Summer's For

Having just made camping reservations for a Black Hills in August, it occurred to me that I will only be home for three weekends between now and August 24.  Hmm, something tells me that my summer is going to start going by REALLY fast!

Fun, but fast!

So, what will I be doing all those weekend, you might ask.  Here's the rundown:  two weekends at the cabin (one with family, one chaperoning a bunch of wonderful young people), one camping trip to the Boundary Waters, one camping trip to the Black Hills and one camping trip to Dixon, IL.

Ahhh, this is going to be a really fun summer!!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

It's All In My Head

As you may remember, my sister has talked me into running a 5K at the end of the summer.  We have since talked my sister-in-law into running it, too, because misery loves company!!

Now the weather hasn't been cooperating because I really, REALLY don't like running in 85 degree heat in the middle of the day.  Unfortunately (for me), most days that is the only time I have to exercise (2:00 pm).  Anyway, I have marked out a 3.4 mile course around our neighborhood to train on.  Up until today, I have never ran the whole thing.  I would run some and then walk some.  Some days (the cooler ones) I would run a little more, and on the hot days I would walk a little more.  Oh, and I forgot to mention, my little course has hills...lots of them :-(

Anyway, today my dear, sweet husband rode his bike along with me while I was running.  (I told you he was sweet)  And every time I told him I wanted to walk a little he encouraged me to keep going.  Lo and behold, with his encouragement, I ran the whole way!  Yay!!

Now to my marathon running friends (and I know there are quite a few of you out there), I know this isn't such a big deal, but for me it feels like an accomplishment.  Truth be told, physically I could have done it all along, but I would just let myself give up every time (usually on an especially long hill a little over half-way through).  It wasn't that my body wasn't capable, it was that I talked myself out of pushing my body.

Thanks, Chris, for being my cheerleader today!  You da best!

Something Sweet To Listen To

Okay, here's the deal. When Castlecomer makes it big, they better remember me as one of their first thousand or so fans! I LOVE this song!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Where The Rubber Meets The Road

I've been thinking about this lately - rubber meeting the road.  Actually, I was thinking about faith and learning and how that all meshes with REALITY.  I was reflecting on the wonderful things God has been teaching me at church and when I read my Bible, and how great it all is and how wonderful it all sounds...and how HARD it is to apply it to real life.

Faith is kind of like a tire on a bicycle.  It's a beautiful thing spinning around, you know, if you lift up your front tire and just let it spin freely.  It looks great.  It even sounds cool.  But, it's not going to get you very far until you put the tire back down on the road - where it belongs.  The problem is when it hits the road and starts rubbing against that pavement the friction starts (every thing in my brain is science related, btw), the bumps start taking their toll, and if the tire is not in good shape, it's going to blow. 

I had two kids off at church camp this week.  They had a great time, and learned all sorts of wonderful things!  They came back all on fire, filled with faith...and then their siblings said something unkind...and then they were corrected by their parents...and suddenly, all those happy feelings from camp evaporated and the reality of "living by faith" set in.  It's HARD! Or as Rich Mullins put it, "It's hard to be like Jesus!" 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Oh, That Explains It

Raelea (holding out a piece of paper): "Dad, does this look like a deed?"

Dad: "A what?"

Raelea:  "You know, a deed.  A thing that shows ownership."

I LOVE that girl!

Don't Forget!!!

I know that July 10 is still several weeks away, but I'm sure that every year the day just sneaks up on you, and then you have to hustle to prepare your celebration for Nikola Tesla Day!  I didn't want that to happen to you again this year, so I am reminding you - July 10th is just around the corner.



You don't celebrate Nikola Tesla Day every year???!!!

Well...you should!

Why? You might ask.  Well, I'll tell you.

You have Mr. Tesla to thank for many (most) modern electrical conveniences you enjoy every single day!  Now, I know that Thomas Edison gets all the credit for things like the light bulb, etc., but Edison would have gone nowhere without Tesla!  Edison believed that direct current (DC) was that way to go, but Tesla knew that alternating current (AC  - as in what we all have in our houses right now) was the only viable option.  Tesla was right - Edison....well...not so much so.

You may have learned in school that an Italian named Marconi was the inventor of the radio, but that isn't true!  Actually, Mr. Tesla invented it.

What else can we thank Mr. Tesla for?
  1. The first wireless remote control boat
  2. Fluorescent and neon lights 
  3. Wireless bulbs that were lit by energy from the earth
  4. AC motor
  5. Harnessing the hydroelectric power of Niagara Falls
  6. Was one of the first to develop ideas of robotics
Tesla was one of the best electrical engineers that ever live and one of the greatest inventors.  Well, why don't we learn about him then?  Frankly, he was a really lousy businessman and promoter.

So, if you haven't celebrated Nikola Tesla Day in the past, this is the year to begin!!  Every time you use something electric, you have him to thank.  Every time you use something with a motor (hair dryer, car, chain saw, etc), you have him to thank.  Every time you listen to the radio or enjoy wi-fi, you can thank Tesla.

Start planning your celebration now!  Do something electric! 

****Now you all know why I am the proud owner of a Nikola Tesla Trading Card!  Try to control your jealousy!******

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day, Dad!

Dear Dad,
I couldn't ask for a better daddy than you :-)  Thanks for always loving me and putting up with my quirky ways and conservative leanings!

Here's a short list of reasons why I am thankful for you -
1. You taught me to have a great sense of humor.
2. You gave me a great metabolism :-)
3. You taught me to speak my mind and enjoy a good debate (you might be regretting this one now)
4. You taught me that you are never too old to get your ear pierced
5. You taught me to not tolerate prejudice
6. You taught me to enjoy mowing a lawn :-)
7. You taught me to always be an optimist

You and mom are the best!!! 

Happy Father's Day! Love you!


Saturday, June 16, 2012

Something Else To Look Forward To

Now, you know that my primary reason for going to Dixon, IL in August is to hear Mumford & Sons, but here is one more reason why I can't wait to go....

 I love this song!

The Window or The Door

Yesterday morning, as I was walking by the outside of our garage, I noticed a full-grown male cardinal trapped inside my garage.  We had plastic on the inside of the window and the poor little guy had gotten trapped between the plastic and the window.  He was fighting quite valiantly to escape, but couldn't.

I quickly went in and removed the plastic so that he could fly away, but he didn't.  He kept trying to get out the closed window, instead of just turning around and flying out the garage door.  I tried opening the window for him, but it was stuck shut, as it hadn't been opened in the eight years that we lived here.

Plan B:  Molly put on some gardening gloves and gently grabbed the little guy (who promptly bit the glove and then either passed out from shock, or started playing dead) and brought him outside, placed him safely in a flower planter and left him.  In a few minutes he flew away up into a tree.

This morning I was thinking about our little rescue operation, and it dawned on me how I  am frequently like that cardinal.  I get myself in a situation that I don't like, and then I try to get out through the only way I can see.  I try and try, but I remain stuck.  All the while, God is removing the plastic, to give me another way of escape, but all I can see is the one way, so I remain stuck.  Then, ever so gently, He picks me up and shows me another way out.

I'm fairly certain our cardinal friend would have died without our assistance yesterday, and if he could feel thankfulness, I am sure he would be coming back with a little gift for us today :-)  Since I am capable of feeling thankfulness, I will spend a little time thanking God for all the times He has rescued me :-)

Friday, June 15, 2012

Funny.....And True

Today I got the results from the standardized tests I'm required to give the kids each year. I was looking over Nina's results with her when I said, "Wow, you did really good on algebraic manipulations!"

To which she responded, "Yeah, I'm pretty good at manipulating!"


Thursday, June 14, 2012

Someone Explain This To Me

There are 10 of us in this family.

Only five of us use this bathroom to brush our teeth.

 How.... how on earth did we get 11 toothbrushes in this holder????

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

It's About The Same

Chris : "Raelea, you're pretty special!"

Raelea: "Yeah, and I'm smart, too."

Chris: "That you are."

Raelea: "I want to go to a smart school."

Chris: "You mean like a college?"

Raelea:  "Yeah!"

Chris: "Maybe you can be a scientist or a doctor."

Raelea: "Yeah, I'd like to be a scientist.  I've also been thinking I'd like to be the person who washes windows in shops."

You Don't Get To Choose

If I had my druthers, this is how my day would have started...

Instead, this is what I got...


But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. -2 Corinthians 12:9 

So, despite outside difficulties, inside I can be like this...

Monday, June 11, 2012

Good Enough

After we finished dinner -

Dad: "Zoe, did you wash your hands and face?"

Zoe: "Mumford did it for me."

That'll work, I guess!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Snorkeling Vs. Scuba Diving

I've been snorkeling, but I have never been scuba diving.  For the purposes of this post, first hand experience won't be necessary though.  I've been thinking this weekend about how living a life of faith and dependence on God is a lot like scuba diving.

Here's the deal, when you snorkel you float around on the surface of the water (occasionally diving underwater when there's something interesting to see), but always coming back up to the surface to get some air.  The snorkel works quite well for supplying the air, but if I want to, I can lift my face out of the water and take the snorkel out of my mouth and just swim around - breathing with no snorkel at all.

Scuba diving, on the other hand, requires me to have a tank of oxygen at my disposal.  In addition, the mouth thingy (I'm sure that's the technical term for it) has to be in my mouth, so I can breathe...and live.  I can't just pop up to the surface every minute or so.  I go under and I stay under, my whole life dependent on that tank of oxygen.  Sure, I could take out the mouth thingy for a minute or so, but if I didn't put it back in then, I'd be a goner for sure!

When we embarked on this journey of adopting we wanted to experience what it would be like to do something that was beyond our capabilities, and would then put us in the territory of really living by faith.  So, we jumped in head first and have been underwater pretty much ever since :-)  BUT, thankfully, we have an endless oxygen tank called "dependence on God and His goodness."  Without it, we would certainly drown.

Prior to adding Marcus and Zoe to our family we were faith-snorkeling.  (Tee hee, I like the sound of that)  What I mean is we would go underwater and live by faith when we felt like it, but we got to control when we did that, and when we felt like we had things under control we went on our merry way by ourselves - faces above the water. 

Adding two more kids, kids who would require much from us, caused us to shift from snorkeling to scuba diving.  I no longer had the option of just raising my head to get a breath of fresh air, I needed to breath the air from the tank of "trust in God" or I would die.  Sure I could hold my breath for a time and pretend that I didn't need that faith tank, that I could do this parenting thing on my own, but it wouldn't take long for me to either pass out, or keel over.

I am very thankful that my tank never, ever runs dry!  That I can count on God working in and through my life, and carrying me through the hard stuff, as sure as the air I breathe.  Now if I could just learn not to take out my mouth thingy!!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Dixon, Here We Come!

It's now been over a year since I took my little road trip to Kansas City to see Mumford & Sons, so to say that I'm overdue to go again would be an understatement (of gargantuan proportions)!  Well, I told you a week or so ago that they were coming back to the US, and so they are, but the closest they will get to Minnesota is Dixon, IL.  So...to Dixon we will go.  It's not until August, so I have most of the summer to wait, and anticipate, but it will be worth it, I'm sure.

My New Project

School is officially over here at our little homeschool.  We had our last day of classes a week ago Friday and did three days of standardized testing this week.  Now we're done!  Done, I say.

Well, that's not exactly true, as I like the kids to do a little bit of school during the summer so they don't forget everything they learned.  But, it's just a little bit...really, it is!

Anyway, because we are DONE with school, I have a little bit of free time on my hands now :-)  (Oh, happy day!)  So...I've decided to take on a yard project I've been wanting to do for over a year now.  I'm going to take this patio....

tear it out and expand my perennial garden, perhaps putting in a little path and a bench.  Doesn't that sound quaint?

As you can see, I already started the demolition process.  I'll keep you posted on the progress, or at least post pictures when I am done.  Don't be expecting anything anytime soon, though.  I tend to take a loooong time with these sort of projects.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

One More Time

If you missed the rarest predictable solar event yesterday, or you weren't impressed with my lovely picture of it, may I present to you...

 Once again, I've been shown-up by NASA! I hate it when they do that!  They even had music to go with it....and a really expensive telescope.

On the flip-side, we did see some of the sunspots that you'll see on this video!  It was so COOOOOOOL!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Well, That Was Fun!

The Transit of Venus party was a great success!  Lots of food, fun and, of course, the transit of Venus.  What more could one ask for?

In case you were too busy partying at YOUR Transit of Venus party and missed actually seeing Venus transit, here is a picture of the event for you.

That little black spot...that's Venus...really, it is!  How cool is that?  (the rest of the dark stuff is the shadow of the telescope, if you're wondering)

As you saw in yesterday's post,  no Transit of Venus party is complete without many sun and Venus related food items.  In addition to the items shown yesterday, my guests brought: Starbursts, Milky Way, Sunny D, Sundried Tomato Wheat Thins, and another batch of Transit of Venus cupcakes!

I hope you had as much fun at your Transit party as we did at ours, and if you didn't have a party, well there's always next time....oh wait, forget that...bummer for you!

Monday, June 4, 2012

What Did You Expect

Well, what did you expect us to eat at a Transit of Venus party??

Yes, those are little Venuses transiting across the sun :-)

Oh my goodness, I amuse myself so much sometimes!

Just a little reminder - don't miss out on your last chance (unless you live to be over 105) to see the Transit of Venus.  Evening of June 5 in the US, morning of June 6 in Europe, Asia, etc....

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Just Cut the Cheese

For years and years I have used this kind of cheese cutter.

Now it has worked just fine, except for one little thing - the wire breaks.  We eat a LOT of cheese around here... a lot of it.  And therefore, the wire on the cheese cutter breaks on a regular basis.  This leaves us without a cheese cutter for days (sometimes weeks), and we are forced to cut our cheese with a regular knife.

This constitutes a major crisis in our home as the cheese slices start taking on strange shapes and dimensions.

Finally, a solution has been found to this kitchen dilemma.  Behold, a cheese knife...

Don't be fooled.  This is no ordinary knife.  Oh no!  It is made out of plastic and the blade does not stick to even the softest cheese and cuts through harder cheeses without hardly any effort.  It's a lovely thing to behold.  It truly is!

I wish someone had told me about such a thing years ago, so I felt obligated to inform you of its existence.

You're welcome!

You Heard It Here First

Back in April, I wrote a post about how there is a shortage of computer programmers.  Do you remember it?  Well, it turns out that Chris was right (he usually is, but don't tell him that).

In today's St. Paul Pioneer Press there was an article confirming what my blog readers have known about for over a month.  Once again, you heard it here first!


You're welcome!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

It's Your Last Chance!!

Don't miss out, folks!  Tuesday, June 5, is the last chance you'll have to experience the Transit of Venus!  I know, some of you have been waiting for years (eight to be exact) for this astronomical event to occur, and this will be the last transit in my (and presumably your) lifetime.  Don't miss it!!

For those of you that are not astronomically savvy, the Transit of Venus is when Venus passes directly between the earth and the sun.  The event happens in eight year pairs, but there is over a century between the pairs.  The last transit occurred in 2004, and the next one won't occur until 2117.  This transit will occur in the evening of June 5 for all of North America; early morning of June 6 for Europe, half of Africa, and part of Asia and Australia; and the entire transit will be visible for those in the Pacific Ocean and half of Australia.  Sorry, to most of my South American and western African friends, you will not be able to view the transit at all :-(

Now, if you don't already have a Transit of Venus party on your calendar, you are welcome to come and crash ours, just bring a Venus related snack.  If you are struggling to come up with a Venus snack, I guess you could just bring a Sun related snack, since the Sun is also party to this event.

If you can't make our festive planetary party, you can view the transit on-line on NASA's website

Either way, make sure you don't miss out!!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Good To Remember

"Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant." ~Robert Louis Stevenson

My friend Cindy posted this quote on her Facebook page this morning.  What a great thing to be reminded of at the beginning of the day!  The quote reminded me of a blog post I did back in April
about how I evaluate my good days vs. my bad days.

Today, as with all days, I cannot control what is reaped, I can only control what seeds I plant.  The harvest is not under my control.  Many are the things that will influence the harvest.  The planting of the right seeds is certainly ONE of them, but it is not the only one.  Even if prime seeds are planted, poor soil or bad weather conditions can destroy a crop, not to mention disease or rampant plant-eating bunnies (or dogs in my case).

So it is with our kids.  I can and should plant seeds of truth, kindness, humility, gratefulness, forgiveness, obedience, etc., but I CANNOT make those things grow in their hearts and lives.   To judge my day on the harvest is taking credit where it isn't due, or taking blame that may not be mine to bear.