"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

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

My Reward

It's been a long day of dealing with "issues" and lots of painting, so I've decided to reward myself with a little song :-)  and give you all a break from home improvement posts.

Personally, this is one of my many favorites on their new album!  If you saw the movie Brave, you may recognize portions of this song.

Where Can I Get One

We were eating dinner tonight when I heard Raelea say, "Zoe, you're in my privacy bubble."

My first thought?  I need to get myself one of those privacy bubbles!  Think of how handy it would be. When the kids start stressing me out or I tire of the constant chaos of my house, I could just go into my privacy bubble.

I really NEED to find out where I can get one!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Two Down

Fifteen to go!  I put the first coat of color on two of the living room walls today.  I was feeling quite proud of myself for getting so much done, until I counted how many walls I have yet to paint.  Hmm, now I'm kind of discouraged!

Oh, wait!  I am two walls closer to getting my house back.  This thought makes me happy.  Not only did I put color on two walls; as I type, Chris is downstairs painting the last ceiling.  That makes me EXTREMELY happy!

All in all, it was a productive day, considering I also did a full day of school with the kids and did about eight loads of laundry.  No wonder I'm exhausted by the end of the day!

And for those of you who are curious about how my newly painted walls look...

there you have it, Softened Green walls.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Prime Time

Spent the whole weekend painting, but the results weren't as colorful as I had hoped.  We spent Friday, Saturday and Sunday painting....white.

Every wall and ceiling needed to be primed which is extremely boring.  Then we moved on to the riveting job of painting ceilings.  Actually, after priming, painting ceilings with actually paint was very exciting!

So after about 40 hours of painting (special thanks to my dad and sister Deb who helped out a LOT), we have almost all the ceilings painted and all the walls primed which means....color soon!!

Happy Birthday, Evan!

Nineteen years ago today at 7:40 pm, my life changed forever!  Even after I had recovered from delivering a 9 1/2 pound baby, my world would never be the same.  I entered the realm of motherhood.

Now God knew that eventually I would have eight kids, so He made that first one really easy for me.  How else would God convince me that more kids would be a good idea?!  For the past 19 years, Evan, you have been a blessing to me and our family.

Happy birthday, Evan!  We love you very much and are excited to see all the God has planned for you!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Dust Has Settled


On everything.

On my boots.

On the carpeting (the very dirty carpeting).

On the windowsill.

On the doors.

And all over the floor!  But look at those beautiful walls :-)

The sheetrocking is finally done!!!!!!!!!!  Picture me doing a happy dance all over my living room.  Actually, instead of happy-dancing, I spent the entire evening  cleaning dust off all the woodwork in our house, and that made me infinitely happier than dancing would have.  

Stay tuned.  Tomorrow we start painting!!  Saturday the fireplace gets installed.  Oh!!  Things are really moving now!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

In Living Color

Now we're getting to the fun part of this addition - choosing paint colors!  The sheetrock phase will be finished tomorrow (Glory!  Hallelujah!), and then we move on to painting. 

Here are the colors we've chosen:

For the living room, Softened Green

Dining room and hallway, Rice Grain

Accent wall in dining room, Quiver Tan

The colors on the monitor aren't exactly spot-on, but you get the idea.  The foyer will probably be Rice Grain, as well.  Haven't worked out the basement yet.  Our house poses a bit of a dilemma, as all the rooms are open to one another.  Being a split-level with no door separating the basement from the foyer, the basement must also match the upstairs.

Good Food

I made a new recipe for dinner tonight.

In highly unusual fashion, ALL of the kids liked it AND Chris approved of it, too.  Since this rarely happens, I thought I had better share the recipe with you all, so you, too, can wow and please your children and husband.  Not only is it tasty, it was quick and easy to make with minimal ingredients.  What more could you ask for?

Chicken with Honey-Beer Sauce (From Cooking Light, September 2012)
**I think it was the beer that made Chris like it!

2 teaspoons canola oil
4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons thinly sliced shallots
1/2 cup beer
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 Tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add oil to pan; swirl to coat.  Sprinkle chicken evenly with pepper and salt.  Add chicken to pan; sauté 6 minutes on each side or until done.  Remove chicken from pan; keep warm.  Add shallots to pan; cook 1 minute or until translucent.  Combine beer and next 3 ingredients (through honey) in a small bowl; stir with a whisk.  Add beer mixture to pan; bring to a boil, scraping pan to loosen browned bits.  Cook 3 minutes or until liquid is reduced to 1/2 cup.  Return chicken to pan; turn to coat with sauce.  Sprinkle evenly with parsley.

As long as I'm on a recipe kick, let me pass on this really nummy dessert to you as well!  This one came from my dear friend, Erica!

Apple Cake with Brown Sugar Glaze

Apple Cake
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups finely chopped apples
1/2 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped (optional)

 Brown Sugar Glaze: 
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
3 Tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 Tablespoon heavy cream

 For the cake: Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8-inch pan (round or square) and set aside. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.Stir with a whisk to mix everything together. In a large bowl, mix the eggs with a hand mixer til light in color and foamy. Add the oil and vanilla and beat well. Stir in the flour mixture with a spoon and continue stirring the batter til the flour disappears. Add the apples and nuts (if using) and stir to mix them into the batter. Scrape batter into prepared pan and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Place the hot cake on a wire cake. While it's still hot, prepare the glaze.

 For the glaze: Combine all the ingredients into a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the mixture comes to a gentle boil. Cook for 3-5 minutes. Spoon the hot glaze over the still hot-from-the-oven cake. Let the glazed cake cool completely before serving straight from the pan.


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Dogs Are Weird

Mumford spent the weekend with her favorite cousin Max.  They love each other, they really do, but sometimes you'd never guess it.

One minute they're all friendly...
 and then.....watch out, the big mouth is coming at you!
 Sometimes they just star at each other,
 and other times it's out-and-out wrestling.
 Nothing like a little bite on the cheek to say, "I love you!"
 But at the end of the day, they just want to snuggle!  Actually, Max wants to keep playing, but Mumford was trying to sleep.  Max is doing his best to coax Mumford into another wrestling match!

My Happy Place

Last Thursday and Friday were a little, shall we say, STRESSFUL around here.  We have entered that difficult phase of home addition called "The Sheetrocking Zone"  - that week of construction that includes dust, noise, sloppy messes, more dust, plastic over everything, dust over everything.....you get the picture.  By Friday afternoon I was ready to fly-the-coop, so to speak.  So, we did!

We went to the wonderful world of the cabin, to spend a relaxing weekend raking, eating, celebrating birthdays, and playing Scrabble.  I love the cabin!!  It's my happy place!  I especially love the cabin when my own home is anything but homey!  If I had planned ahead, I would still be at the cabin now, as we have three more days left in "The Sheetrocking Zone."  But, alas, I did NOT plan ahead and so, here we are back home.

Since my house is covered in  plastic and dust, I'm going to look at pictures from the cabin now!  Here - you can join me....

As is the custom of late, we had a themed dinner on Saturday night.  This time is was a masquerade.

Dad & Mom

Peter, Deb & Rachel

Me (with a rather pained look on my face because I couldn't see clearly out of my mask), Raelea, Marcus & Zoe

Joy & Jim with the fanciest masks of all!

Mumford got some good quality time with her cousin Max.

And the kids got some good quality time with their cousin Rachel.
It was a great weekend...too bad we had to come home!

Friday, October 19, 2012

That Would Work

We were driving in the van today and I noticed that one of the back windows was opened.  I said, "Could one of you close that window?"

To which Raelea replied, "If Mumford had opposable thumbs, we could ask her to do it."

Well, I guess I know that at least one of the kids is paying attention in science class!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

I Was Warned

I can't say I wasn't warned because I was warned...repeatedly.  I was told that the sheetrock installation would be noisy and dusty.  Apparently I just wasn't up to it today though.  Good thing I didn't blog five hours ago!  It wouldn't have been pretty....but I've since recovered!

Now that I'm back in my happy place, I'll just say that I'm glad the noise is over...I wish the dust was over, but that won't be true until the taping and mudding is done.  On the bright side, the guys who installed it all worked really fast.  They did it all, including clean-up, in about four hours - ceilings, walls, upstairs and down, patching holes, the whole bit.  Fast, fast, fast.  The downside is that it was over the dinner hour.  Nothing like listening to screw guns while you chew!

But it's over now....I keep telling myself that, so I can stay in my happy place.  And I can stand around and look at my beautiful living room, all sheetrocked so nicely.  That keeps me in my happy place, as well.

Look!  It's a fireplace (soon)!  Now just imagine built in shelves and cabinets on each side....

The dining room...which will look much nicer when the floors are clean and redone...and there isn't a dog sleeping in the middle of the floor.

This Made Me Smile

Warmth :-)  I love insulation.  I never realized it until the past month, but I REALLY love insulation!  Siding isn't so bad either!

WHAT Were They Thinking?

Now I'm not sure how cities go about naming their parks, but whatever committee chose to name this park should be fired!  Really?   Purgatory Park?  

"Hey kids, let's go hike through Purgatory!"  

Hmmm, doesn't hold a lot of appeal if you ask me!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Safe and Sound

Sweet Nina embarked on an adventure this morning.  She flew out Pennsylvania for a week long visit with her first mom.  This was her first time flying solo.  Last year, when she and Molly went, they were escorted (as was required by airline policy).  This year, no Molly and no more need for an escort since she is now 16.

I figured she would do just fine, but she did have to transfer planes in Philadelphia, and the layover was only 50 minutes.  Turns out that her first leg landed 20 minutes early, so she had plenty of time to get to her next gate. Also, turns out that she met two extremely helpful, kind ladies who looked after her.

The second leg was on a little turboprop plane.  Nina said, "I looked out the window at the propeller and thought, 'Hey!  This is just like Indiana Jones!'"  Gotta love that girl!

So, I will be missing my sweet Nina all week, but I am so glad they she got to go.


Important things are being done on the house.  Really, they are.  Everyday we have numerous people over here doing a variety of things.

After no house project pictures for quite some time, I thought I would show the riveting changes being wrought on our house...

Here we have a sample of the many, MANY  holes our ceilings and walls now possess...

These are now littered ALL over my ceilings (old & new).  Interestingly, these are some of the things I am most excited about, as our house has been woefully under-lit since the day we moved in!

Oh, and this will be extremely important in another month or so!

And we now have a COMPLETE basement floor!  And they only had to remove footmarks from the fresh concrete twice!   (one animal, one small human being)
There you have it!  The stunning changes to my house in the past week!

Monday, October 15, 2012

School?! Part 2

So, I got an email from our general contractor today...

Apparently tomorrow's events include jack-hammering out a portion of the old basement floor....starting around 7:30 AM....about two feet from where we do school.

Well....this will be fun....and loud.

I think we might do school in the kitchen tomorrow morning, or we could just watch the constructing and deconstructing and call it school!  Today the kids got a lesson in HVAC systems.


I stopped in to see how Molly was doing on her school today, and this is what I found...

I said, "Molly, are you doing school??"

She replied, "Yes, I'm in a Class Connect."  Which means the teacher was holding an on-line class at that moment which Molly was "attending."

Hmm, I wonder if her biology teacher knew that her student was playing the guitar while "sitting in class."

This on-line school thing is a little bizarre at times!

Saturday, October 13, 2012


Our little house project over here has meant that we have had workers in our house just about every day for the past four weeks.  Usually from 7:30 am to 4 pm.  I'm not a particularly private person (as you may have guessed), so this hasn't been too much of a problem.  

It was a little funny the other day though.  As I was folding laundry, I heard someone come in and say, "Hello?"  So, I went upstairs to see if someone needed me to do something.  Standing in my foyer was Jesus.  Okay, it wasn't really Jesus, it was the carpet guy, but he looked like Jesus.  He did!  I'm not kidding!

Anyway, one thing I've discovered about myself in the past four weeks is that I talk to the dogs... a lot....like all the time.  I constantly hold a dialogue with my four-footed children.  I ask them questions.  I tell them what I am going to do.  I tell them what the workers are doing.  I never noticed this before, but now that there are people in my house all the time, presumably listening to what I'm saying, I'm a little embarrassed.

I also talk to myself....a lot.  Probably when the dogs aren't around to talk to.  Sometimes, I'm actually talking to people....who have since wandered out of earshot, but often I'm just talking to myself.  I ask myself questions.  I talk about my day.  I also sing and dance when no one is around.

I told Chris about my discovery this morning, and he responded, "Yes, I knew that already!"


Maybe that's why I blog.  I can talk to myself and pretend that I'm talking to real people!

Friday, October 12, 2012


A whole blog post about Nina.  I don't think that's ever happened before.  Some of my kids have forbidden me from blogging about them **coughcoughMolly**, but Nina is not one of them!

And to what do we owe this Nina-centered post?

Chris was out-of-town for three days this week.  After a day or two, I grow a bit weary of doing this single parent thing, particularly if there are "issues" with the kids.  Well, last night, my dear sweet Nina gave my a back massage!  Now granted, she was paying me back for driving her to her friend's house the day before, but it sure felt good nonetheless!

Then, this morning MANY of the kids were having issues that required my constant attention.  There was much weeping and gnashing of teeth (on the children's parts), and it just went on and on.  As I was leaving my room (after helping one such child with an attitude adjustment), Nina greeted me in the hall with a cup of tea and a piece of chocolate :-)  What a sweetheart!!  She saw that I was having a less-than-smooth morning and brought me something to help me out!

So, thank you, dear Nina, for looking after your mom!  I love you!

Thursday, October 11, 2012


I haven't updated you recently on the addition, primarily because electrical work isn't too exciting, and that is what is taking place this week.  I could post pictures of outlets and recessed lighting canisters I guess...something tells me you wouldn't find that too fascinating.  Don't worry, I will let you know when anything blog-worthy happens with the addition.

As for me, I think I am growing a little weary of sitting on a kitchen stool or my bed.  I'm a sit-on-the-carpet-in-the-middle-of-the-room sort of gal, and there is precious little carpet to be found right now around here!  Last night I dreamt about outlets and light fixtures!  Time for this little project to be nearing completion, I think.  I'd like to dream about more interesting things soon!

Dear Blog Readers,

This is a post specifically for YOU.  You may not realize this, but periodically I take a little peek at where you live -not like your address or anything, but your city and country.  Don't worry, you won't find me peeking in your windows or anything.  I just like to see where people live who read my blog.  Most of my readers are family or friends, but there are some of you out there whom I do not know - that's kind of fun!

Anyway, I have a reader(s) in London.  It always makes me happy to see that you've checked in dear London-reader.  Why?  Because London is one of my favorite cities on the planet!  Since I can't be there, at least my blog can be there.  This makes me happy!

Apparently I have a reader in Croatia these days, and the Palestinian Territory.  How fun is that?!

I like to see my reader from Lewiston, MN because my mom taught in Lewiston when she had just graduated from college.  More fun!

So today, when I went to see where my readers were from, I noticed that someone visited from Nottingham.   Well, this made me beyond happy because it gave me an excuse to post this...

So, thank you dear Nottingham-reader for making me smile this evening!

****Btw, if you want to see where the readers of The Zoo hail from, you can click on the map at the bottom of the page.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Jungle Jam & Friends

It came to my attention today that I have NEVER blogged about Jungle Jam & Friends!  This is a travesty that I will now correct.

A long, long time ago, when Evan was just a wee tot, my dear friend Kate introduced me to a radio program called Jungle Jam & Friends.  Now, since our family and Kate's seem to be the only people around who have EVER heard of Jungle Jam, I am taking it upon myself to educate you all.

It didn't run on the radio for very long (for reasons I don't understand), but we purchased tapes of the shows and listened to them repetitively.  So much so, that every member of our family can recite almost all 36 programs word for word.

What made them so appealing to us...well, they are extremely funny (and not just for the kids).  Talking monkeys, flying squirrels, bears, etc., along with strange creatures called Razzleflabbens and young kids with the last name of Snuffleson make for entertaining listening.  Think of them as the precursor to Veggie Tales.

Because we own these on cassette tapes, and because they have been listened to many, many, many times, most of them are somewhat...destroyed or damaged.  This makes me sad :-(  BUT, guess what?  I discovered that you can purchase most of the episodes on CD's now!!!!  This makes me happy :-)  You can also download some of the programs (for less $)

Raelea's Toys

Chris took a couple of the kids to Target the other morning because they wanted to buy some "fun stuff" with the money they had.  Zoe bought a game and some gum.  Raelea, on the other hand, thought that a trophy, dry erase board, markers and erasers would be much more fun, so that's what she bought.

We then spent the next hour playing "Spelling Contest."

She is quite the singular child!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Start Planning Now!

Once again, I am fulfilling my duty of keeping you informed of all the important holidays and events of which you might otherwise be unaware.  Today, I introduce to you Brain Awareness Week (BAW)!  While some things only need a day of appreciation (like Christopher Columbus), apparently it will take a whole week for us to unite "families, schools, and communities in a worldwide celebration of the brain."  Yay Brain!!

If you are really ambitious and excited about BAW, you can make an educational video about the brain and enter a video contest in attempt to win cash, prizes and a trip to San Diego for Neuroscience 2013.  Science AND California - hard to go wrong there!

Okay, if you go out to the Society for Neuroscience website there is a plethora of fun things out there!  Ever heard of a Brain Bee?  Me neither!  But apparently it's sort of like a spelling bee....only different!   Oh!  And let's not forget the National Science Olympiad!  Oh my!

If you haven't already guessed, our topic for co-op science this week will be......the brain!  This is going to be FUN!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

What A Deal

I had to defrost my freezer on Friday night!  That's the way I live it up these days, but it was for a good cause.  I needed to make room for half a cow that we purchased from Chris' aunt and uncle.

Now my ice-free freezer is packed to the brim with 261 pounds of lean beef: steaks, roast, liver (yuck, but Chris likes it), heart (hmm, not sure how to cook that baby), and hamburger.  But the best part is that it came to only $2.48/pound!  Love it!!!

Beef - it's what's for dinner!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Worth Your Time

I heard the most wonderful sermon at church last week.  I was waiting for it to get put out online before I blogged on it, and I was hoping to embed it here on my blog.  Alas, it is not to be so, as the embed code is not working :-( and I lack the computer savvy to figure out how to do it on my own.

Anyway, I will post the link for it here and you can go to the church website and view it directly from there.

The message was titled Why God Created the World by a man named Joe Rigney, and I almost jumped up and down in the middle of the message and shout, "Yes, yes yes!!!"  I was so excited about it.  That's the truth!  Anyway, if you get a little bit of time and want to hear a GREAT message, check it out.  Or you can just download the audio and put it on your iPod.

Oh, you can also just read the message out on the website...not quite as good as hearing it, but it will do in a pinch!

That Was Cold

Despite still having a cold (cough and runny nose) and it being cold (34 degrees), Deb and I ran the Bethel University Homecoming 5K this morning.
We wore a few more items of clothing than we did for the Milk Run in August, and didn't quite run at the same pace, but we did it anyways.

Now to train for the Turkey Trot....and time to pray for a REALLY warm Thanksgiving Day!

The Solution

After freezing our behinds off on Thursday night, and spending most of yesterday in multiple layers of clothing in blankets, we came up with a workable solution or the weekend...

This not-too-attractive solution allowed this to happen...

which makes us all very happy!

Thursday, October 4, 2012


Well, when it was 50 degrees outside, this is what our indoor thermostat read....

Now it's supposed to get down to 33 tonight....hmmm...I'm thinking it's going to be a little chilly in here!  Actually, it won't be quite as bad as it could be, as I have since turned on the furnace.  I realize that most of that heat is pouring out through the uninsulated rafters and walls....as stiff winds come howling through the soon-to-be-beautiful living room.  However, if we keep the bedroom doors shut, they get nice and toasty warm.  Now if we could just stay in our bedrooms all weekend things would be splendid (low of 25 on Saturday - that should be fun...in an "I'm frozen, so I going to Starbucks for the afternoon" sort of way)  

Conveniently, the bedrooms are about the only rooms in this house that have any furniture in them right now.  So, even if they weren't the only warm rooms in the house, they are the only comfortable rooms in the house...for the next six weeks or so.

Emily opted not to curl up in my bedroom to read, instead she has placed herself on the dog bed in the soon-to-be-beautiful dining room.  Pretty sad when the dogs have more comfortable seating than the people!  As you can see, she's sporting a lovely winter hat and fleece jacket to ward off the autumn winds.

Well, the purpose of this post was to elicit a little sympathy from the masses.  How am I doing?

On a more positive note.  It was a quiet day around here, as in no pounding or sawing and no one showing up in my yard or on my doorstep at 7 AM.  Actually, there will not be any really noisy stuff for a couple days, I think.  Tomorrow the electrician starts his work.  We want things to keep moving us one step closer.....to insulation!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

Actually, it's more like here yesterday, gone today.

Here yesterday...

Gone today.

Well, that opened things up quite a bit!  Here's a view from the corner of the living room, looking towards the dining room. 

Yikes!  That's a lot of space.  Not sure what we're going to put IN that space, since we hardly have any furniture (never had room for much before).

They did get the MASSIVE living room window in today, which is a relief.  Nice to have it securely in its place where it cannot get dropped and broken :-)

Now it's time for me to go to bed because it's COLD in here - lots of uninsulated space and boarded up widow openings.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Just Picture It

Lots of progress today!  The old walls are almost completely gone, and you can really start to see how things are going to look when it's done.

Just imagine a wonderful gas fireplace right HERE...

Not all the walls are out, but by tomorrow evening it will all be wide open :-)  With windows even!