"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

Sunday, March 31, 2013

He Has Risen

In all my life, these three words are the most important to me.  More important than "I do!"  More important than "It's a boy" or "It's a girl."

He is risen!  Without those words, all the other joyous words of my life would lose their meaning.  Those three words add significance to everything else in my life.

But the angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified.  He is not here, for he has risen, as he said."         Matthew 28:5
Happy Easter, everyone!  May the empty tomb add joy, hope and significance to your life!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Peacock Spiders

Because you never know WHAT you're going to find out on my blog, today I present to you a very amusing look at peacock spiders.

Now wasn't that amusing!

Friday, March 29, 2013

In Their Eyes

This morning I asked Evan how old someone was...

Evan:  "She's old....older than you...um, her late 40's."

Dearest Evan, I am in my late 40's, just so you know!

Once I informed him of this little fact, he informed me that I wasn't old.

I love how kids never think we age.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Good To Know

Yay!!  We're actually going on a family vacation this summer!  We missed out last summer, due to poor planning on my part.  These things must be planned in advance, and "in advance" is not always my strong suit.

Anyway, we now are set to go to Colorado for a week this summer.  I haven't been there in...hmm...something like thirty years, so this will be fun.  I love the mountains.  Not as much as I love the ocean, but close.    We'll be spending part of our time there in Rocky Mountain National Park, so I thought I should do a little reading on the park.

Being safety conscious, I decided to see what were the dangers in the park.  Here's are the things they tell me I should be concerned about:

  • -Burned areas, falling trees
  • -Mountain weather, hypothermia, snow and ice fields (not too big of concern in July)
  • -High elevation, mountain climbing
  • -Lightning
  • -Wildfires
  • -Wildlife - lions and tigers and bears...well, not the tigers
  • -Streams, lakes, waterfalls (we're from Minnesota, we have all those things here, too)
  • -Avalanche (hmm, don't have these in Minnesota!)
  • -Giardia (I drink unfiltered lake water in the BWCA, not overly concerned over this)
  • -Plague
WHOA!  Wait just one minute?  Did I just read the plague?  As in the bubonic plague?  Why yes.  Yes, I did!  Well, this is just sounding like a really welcoming place, isn't it?  Turns out the plague is endemic to Rocky Mountain National Park.  Who knew?

But the list goes on...
  • -Colorado Tick Fever
  • -Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
  • -Hantavirus
Oh boy, hantavirus!  That sounds like a fun one too!  Actually, no one has gotten it in RMNP, but the deer mice there carry it.  Well, I guess this means we won't be kissing any rodents on our vacation!

I'm sure we'll have a great time....if we make it back alive.....

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Ticket Time!

I know you have all saved the date of April 6, because I told you to back in February.  Now, you can be glad you listened to me....


You can purchase tickets and find all the information you need here.  I look forward to seeing many of you here on the 6th.  It will be an amazing night of beautiful music!

If you're not sure if you want to come to the concert, you should read this.  (Actually, read it even if you're sure you're not coming to the concert.  You can't help but like this guy.)  

If you've never heard any of Ben's music, here are a few tunes to whet your appetite...

Monday, March 25, 2013

Just Brilliant!

I just heard on the radio that some of our Minnesota legislators are interested in changing the test for graduating from high school.  Here's the logic, according to Minnesota Public Radio

Estimates are 15 to 20 percent of Minnesota students will fail the exam, and won't graduate, hurting the state's already meager graduation rate of 77 percent. 

 "We're setting ourselves up for a real problem if we have such high expectations for mathematics just to get out of high school," he (Dave Heistad, the director of research, evaluation and assessment in the Bloomington School district.) said.

Can't say I'm following this line of reasoning.  Let's see, if too many people aren't going to meet up to the standard....let's lower the standard!  Brilliant, folks!  And why is our country falling behind educationally??!  Um, kind of a no-brainer, don't you think?

I'm certainly not a "teach them to the test" sort of person, but I am a "teach them so they actually learn something" sort!  Now there's a novel concept, teach the kids to really learn math, and science, and English, and....whatever else they need to succeed in LIFE!

Okay, I'll get off my soap-box now.  Good night!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

I'm On To Something

Chris and I have both been daydreaming about taking a vacation.  Not the driving 16 hours with seven kids, to camp and have to cook meals over a Coleman stove.  No, the type of vacation that involves relaxation and no kids.  Yeah, that type of vacation.

Well, truth be told, that ain't happening anytime soon!  Something about certain children not doing too well when Mom and Dad are gone...and then there's the trying to make arrangements for places for the kids and pets to stay...It just ain't happening.

We need a Plan B.  I think I've come up with one.

As of today, I am going to start labeling any errand I take without a child in tow as a mini-vacation!  Wow, I may get to go on three or four vacations a WEEK with this new plan!!  Trip to Aldi....vacation!  Trip to Walgreens....vacation!  Trip to the dentist....VACATION! (I even get to lay down on that one and close my eyes!)

Brilliant!!  It IS a brilliant plan!

Friday, March 22, 2013

A New Chapter

This fall we will be embarking on an entirely new adventure.  Aidan will be going to public school.  He wanted to go this year, but we never got the ball rolling.  Well, the ball is officially rolling for him to start in September.  He selected his elective classes, and we even went on a tour of the school today.

Actually, next year I will only be teaching four children at home!  Wow!

Seven years ago I was bumped from  three to five students when Aidan & Emily started school.  Eventually Marcus & Raelea were added, but Evan moved on, so I had six students for a time.  This year I'm back down to five, as Nina and Molly are doing school on-line (so they're home, but I'm not the one teaching them).

Here's the run-down of who's doing what next year:

  • Evan will graduate from the University of Minnesota in May, so hopefully he will be gainfully employed (and moved out) by fall.
  • Nina and Molly will probably be doing PSEO (Post Secondary Enrollment Option) at a local community college.  They will complete their high school years there while accumulating college credits (for free).
  • Aidan will be at the local middle school.
  • Emily, Marcus, Raelea and Zoe will stay with me here at home, having to endure their crazy teacher/mom.
I'm thinking that this is going to be a good arrangement for everyone....and if not, we'll change it.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A Little Variety

I may be a little late to the fun (Keane's been around for like 16 years), but I am REALLY liking this song!

Happy Spring!!

I wanted to be the first person to wish you all a happy spring!

I learned something new (maybe you knew this already), that spring arrives at a specific time, not just a specific day!  Who knew?  Also, the arrival of spring can vary anywhere from March 19 to March 21 (earliest in a leap year).

Now, for those of us living in Minnesota, this is all quite irrelevant, as we all know that spring weather won't arrive here for another three or four weeks....if we're lucky.  In the meantime, here are some lovely flowers to look at.  They sure beat the several feet of snow that are outside my window!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Squirrel Did It

I'm not sure what he did, but Molly has had him handcuffed in her room for the past six months!

Free the squirrel!  Free the squirrel!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Bow Ties Are Cool

Bow ties are cool.

Raelea is cool.

Raelea in a bow tie is infinitely cool!!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Concert Update

Those of you that are just waiting to purchase tickets to the upcoming Ben Kyle concert in my living, you won't have to wait much longer.

Ben is currently finishing up the first leg of his tour, but he should be back in Minnesota by the end of the week.  He is hoping to have the ticket information up on his website by next weekend.  In the meantime, mark April 6th on your calendar.  We look forward to seeing you here for an amazing evening of beautiful music.  Seating is obviously limited because it is our living room, so get your tickets early,

I will post information here on the blog and on Facebook when tickets go on sale.

Feeling Antsy

I'm feeling a little antsy lately.  Maybe it's the prolonged winter, but when I'm feeling antsy I'm liable  to do something....drastic.  Last time I felt this way I did this.  The time before, I did this.  Frequently, this antsy feeling produces new hairstyles.

Hmm, what will it be this time?  Let's see, hubby hasn't shown a lot of excitement for me getting another tattoo. Not sure I want to go through  another piercing.  I take forever to heal from those.  Looks like it's going to have to be the hair.  It's much easier to make drastic changes in hair when it is long to start with.  Not sure what I can do with it right now.

Oh well, spring will be here soon, and this feeling will pass...maybe.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Thursday Thrills

Thursdays mean teaching co-op science.  Teaching co-op science means spending the day getting people excited about science...which subsequently spills over into home-life.

This results in.....Fun With Tuning Forks!

Evan & Erin experimenting with hearing sound through your skull

And hearing sounds through your mouth

And seeing how many places you can stick a tuning fork and still hear the note.  Just look at how much fun they're having!

But that's not all...oh no!  As you are aware, it's Brain Awareness Week!  In honor of this momentous week, I made brain cupcakes for the co-op kids!  Mmm,  mmm, mmmmmm!  You wish I was YOUR science teacher, don't you?!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

More Mail Fun!

I'm ready for spring now that my very first ever pair of Birkenstocks have arrived

Aren't they cute?  Notice I had to get the tattoo in the picture.  I've been missing it all winter!

Monday, March 11, 2013

This Fan Thing

We're pretty good at this fan thing, and we have the goods to prove it....

All the way from Down Under, we received a wonderful package today!  Five shirts, five CDs!!

Now, folks, this isn't the first time I've blogged about Castlecomer, but if you haven't checked them out yet, today's the day.

Head on over to Facebook and say hello to the lads!

Thanks, Joe, Bede, Tom, Pat & Joe!!!  You guys rock!  Come to the US!!  Soon!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

A Little More Mumford

Okay, it's been awhile since I've posted anything Mumford, so I don't feel at all guilty about showing you their new music video!  You may have to watch it four times though, so you can follow each "block."

By Request

One of my many "non-biological children who don't live with me" requested this wonderful salad recipe.  I thought I would put it out here on the blog for everyone to enjoy.  It really is a great salad!

Gouda and Strawberry Salad
6 cups Romaine, spinach or other greens
8 oz. Gouda cheese, sliced into small wedges
1 1/2 cups sliced strawberries
1/2 cups carmelized pecans
Raspberry vinaigrette (recipe below)

Carmelize pecans by heating pecans and 3 Tbs. sugar in a nonstick skillet on medium-high heat for several minutes or until sugar is golden brown, stirring frequently.  Spread in a thin layer on baking sheet or wax paper; cool, break into pieces.

Toss greens with cheese wedges, strawberry slices and pecans.

Raspberry Vinaigrette
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 Tbs. raspberry vinegar
3 Tbs. granulated sugar
1 1/2 Tbs. fresh parsley
1 tsp. minced shallots
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp dry mustard
fresh ground pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients and whisk to combine.  Refrigerate until ready to use.  Makes about 1 cup.

Plan B

I've been thinking lately that I should have a Plan B for my future career, just in case that royalty thing doesn't pan out.  Upon reading larger and larger quantities of G.K. Chesterton, I've determined that my next career should be an essayist.

Having blogged for the past five years, I think I'm well on my way.  Okay, maybe not, but I'm closer to being an essayist than royalty!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Family Photo

For most of my growing up years, there was a truly hideous family photo hanging on our wall.  I wish I had a copy of it to show you, but alas I don't.  It might help you to imagine it if I told you that polyester was the dominant feature....oh, and straight, long, stringy hair.

Anyway, now that I'm grown and have a family of my own, I can show you our own truly hideous family photo...

Aside from the fact that few of us are looking our best, the photographer was apparently having difficulty fitting us all in the frame, thus Raelea's and Zoe's floating heads.  As embarrassing as it is to admit, this gem did hang on our wall for a time.

There is one family photo that has been prominently displayed in our home for the past 14 years.   

Unlike the first photo, there's a story behind this one.  We had taken the three kids in to get their photos taken.  The photographer was making some adjustment to her camera which took a little bit of time.  While she was doing that, the kids were just sitting there bored.  Apparently while adjusting the camera, the photographer accidentally shot a candid picture, and this is what the kids were doing....
We fell in love with the picture because it so accurately caught each of the kids personalities, and so it will remain prominently displayed!

Friday, March 8, 2013

The Birthday Girl

Look who's two....and tired!
Mumford, in honor of your second birthday, we've decided to let your cousin Max spend a WHOLE week with you!  Okay, that's not really why Max is here, but it sure is a nice birthday present nonetheless.

We love you, Mumfie, and you are growing into a fine dog.  Now, if you'd just stop attacking my feet when you're bored....

Thursday, March 7, 2013

More Mail Fun!

It's been awhile since I've posted about my dear, dear mailman!  You've probably been wondering if he's brought me any nice things lately.  Actually, he has!  Just today, he brought us these...

Harkness Institute Turtle Camp t-shirts, courtesy of my cousin Dave and his lovely wife Eddi.  Have I told you lately I have great relatives?!  You should also check out their camping website Planets Camper and enter their photography contest.

Wonder what my mailman will bring me next!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Room Reclamation

I told you yesterday that the boys' old room was going to be reclaimed as family space.  Today, I started the process...

Don't expect to see the finished product anytime soon!  All the stuff sitting around in the middle of this room needs to find a home.  Yikes!  Time for some major throwing/giving away of stuff!!

American What?

After making macaroni and cheese yesterday, I noticed we were almost out of American cheese.  I grabbed a notepad to write down that we needed American cheese, so that I wouldn't forget when I made out my grocery list.

I had to make a quick trip to the grocery store today, and I remembered that I had written something down on a notepad that I needed to pick up.  When I found the notepad, this is what I saw...


Not sure where I can get American squirrel, and I'm not sure the kids would eat macaroni and squirrel.

In my defense, lest you think I've completely lost my mind, I vaguely remember having a conversation with Marcus yesterday about him cooking up any squirrels he may shoot....

Monday, March 4, 2013

Adore A Door

The addition continues to yield dividends in our home.  Most recently, the boys have acquired the much sought after, room with a door!  You see, for the past five years Aidan and Marcus (and Evan for four of those years) have lived in a sectioned off area of the basement which had no door and no privacy.  They made do, and they made do usually without complaining.

Now that the girls moved into their new bedroom (also with a door), their old bedroom was ready to be occupied by the boys.  Whoa!  Hold on there, not so fast!  First we had to deal with a little mold problem, re-panel, repaint and re-carpet.  THEN, it was ready to be occupied!

All that work was completed last week, so the boys got to move into their new bedroom this past weekend.  The room, about which Marcus just declared, "I adore the door!"

A happy Marcus in  his new room

Some fine Hobbit decorating

 And, of course, the door...closed!

Now that the boys are situated, I can begin reclaiming the living area that they formerly occupied!  The addition truly is the gift that keeps on giving!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Don't Forget!

I thought I better give you a heads up that Brain Awareness Week (BAW) is just around the corner!  I informed you of this important holiday many months ago, but I know many of you didn't put it on your calendars.

BAW runs from March 11-17.  If you can't think of some fun and amazing way to celebrate BAW, at least spend a minute or two being thankful for your amazing brain.


On my way home from the grocery stores today, I decided to figure out what meals cost around here.  I mean, I know what I spend in groceries each week, but I've never stopped to figure out what that translates to per each meal.

A little quick mental math: $160 ($102 at Aldi, $55 or so at Cub - I rounded for easier mental math, okay), 20 meals eaten at home in an average week.  This obviously amounts to $8/meal.  Then I figured that on average, I'm feeding eight people at each meal, so lo and behold - $1per person per meal!  

Not too shabby, if I do say so myself!