"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, June 30, 2013

In The car

Spending time alone with a child in the car offers some time for wonderful conversations. I love that part about shuttling my children here and there.  You really get to hear there heart on things.

Take this conversation for example. I was just driving Molly to church and the following conversation occurred.

Molly (talking about her future) - "I want to get married and live the dream"

Me (wanting to put some perspective into that comment) - "Just remember God's dream for you might be different than your dream..."

Molly (quickly responds) - "Yeah, but let's just hope it involves a banjo!!"

Friday, June 28, 2013

Well, He's No Help!

We're planning our week long trip to Colorado and working on supplying our new camper.  The following conversation just took place -

Me (to Chris) - "How many bath towels do you think we should pack?"

Chris - "One....maybe two."

WHAT is he thinking?  Eight of us.....for eight days....and we're all going to share one bath towel?!

Guess I'm on my own here to pack this baby!

And We're Done!

Four more nights a week are now at my disposal!  As much as I love watching my kids play sports, I am always a happy camper when the season is over and my evenings free up.

Zoe finished her soccer season last night.  Although she enjoyed soccer, I'm not sure she'll do it again next year, as she is showing an interest in track.

Zoe in action

The team showing off their medals.

Five weeks until football starts.....


Although it may not seem like a step in the right direction, it is certainly an improvement over the weeds and hard, packed dirt that has been our front yard thus far this year.

The winter-like spring and the tropical rainforest-like weather that we've had this summer have made it nearly impossible to do any yard repair.  The past 48 hours devoid of torrential rain afforded us a window to get the black dirt spread on the yard.  Next up, a little grass seed, and then (hopefully) a gentle rain twice daily.  Soon we'll have a lush lawn to play and lay on!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Zoo At The Zoo

It was such a glorious day today, and I had nothing to do, so the little kids and I went to the zoo.  As always, we had a great time.

Spider Marcus is on his way to eat Fly Zoe

Everyone needs a bear hug

Ninja turtles?

A special giraffe exhibit which made Raelea VERY happy!

Winding Down

Our spring soccer season is winding down over here, which ushers in five weeks of calm before the storm of football season takes us away.

Raelea had her last game tonight and Zoe's is tomorrow.  They both had a great season.  It's fun to watch them improve as the weeks roll on.

Raelea taking her turn as goalie

Going after the ball

Raelea and her teammates

Nice job and a great season, Raelea!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

More Work To Do

Because, apparently, I think I have a lot of extra free time, I am now going to be teaching science at TWO co-ops this fall instead of just one.

I have been teaching 3rd-12th grade science at Minnehaha Christian Homeschool Co-op (MCHC) for the past two years and will continue to do so next year.  Prior to that I taught 1st/2nd grade science at MCHC for a number of years, but took some time off when Marcus and Zoe arrived.  I have found that I REALLY enjoy teaching, so I am excited to add more teaching into my week.

Starting in September I will be teaching high school science (biology) at the Rukavina Home School Academy.  While my other co-op only meets twice a month, the new one meets weekly, so I will be a busy little beaver.  I still have room in my class at the Rukavina co-op if you have high schoolers that are ready for biology - and me.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

More Good Music

I know you've come to expect posts on Mumford & Sons, Castlecomer, Dawes and Ben Kyle, but tonight I bring to you some new (to me) bands.  Have a listen.

First up, a band I just discovered (on Twitter of all places), just this week, and immediately went out and bought their album.  I REALLY like them... a lot!  They're called Air Review, and here's a taste of their music.

Next up is a band called The Dunwells.  Apparently they are a couple brothers and cousins....sounds like another band I know and love! Oh, and The Dunwells are playing at the Dakota on July 31.  How convenient!

Lastly, a band that's a little more famous....that I LOVE!  Bastille!

Now if Castlecomer and Bastille would only tour together....in Minnesota...I just might keel over and die from musical bliss!  (Not to mention the amazing hair!)  A girl can dream, can't she?

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Guess What?

I'm going on a date with my hubby tomorrow.  I'll give you one clue about where we're going...

Yay! You guessed it!

We're going to the Chanhassen to see Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.  Not quite Broadway, but it should be great!

Can't wait!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

I Love My Dad!

I love my dad, not just because he loves me, loves my mom and loves my kids.  Not just because he's a walking history book or a fun debater.  Not just because he got his ear pierced when he was 50+ years old.  All those things are true, but I love my dad because of this....

and this....

He always makes me smile, and I love my dad!

Happy Father's Day, Dad!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Almost Time For a Countdown

Some of you may have forgotten my excitement over securing tickets to the Mumford & Sons Stopover show in Guthrie, Oklahoma.  I, on the other hand, have NOT forgotten.  The concert is now only 84 short days away!  It's probably a little early to start an official countdown, but I thought I would just insert a little reminder here today.  

GAAAHHHHH!  (okay, I got that out of my system)  

One can never go too long without watching a Mumford & Sons video, can one?  I wrote a whole blog post about this song, but apparently I have never put the song out here on the blog.  In order to remedy that situation, I present to you "For Those Below."

No Comment

I moderate the comments here on my blog, mostly to make sure that nothing inappropriate ends up here.  Through some marvel of cyber-space though, I end up getting about a dozen obviously spam comments daily.  Nothing pornographic or anything, just obviously not written by a living, breathing person, or at least one that doesn't speak English as his native language.

I find these somewhat annoying, but highly amusing.  Here's an example...
With a democratic or considerably known and reliable cyberspace divine service Provider egg white business firm was definitely more fun -- I took my dad to the annual Christmas company. web hosting uk That is what every one time in a While.

Wow! I don't even know how to respond to such a comment. I am curious what a "reliable divine service provider egg white business firm" is though.

Fun Ahead

As if going to Colorado this summer wasn't going to be enough fun, now we get to go in this....

Definitely a step up from the 41 year old pop-up that we have been using.  (Don't get me wrong, I LOVE that pop-up because it embodies my childhood camping experience, but we can all sleep in this.)

Now if we had a place to store it besides our driveway!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

New Music

My favorite Aussie band is slowly giving us a taste of their new EP which will be out on July 12.  Have a listen.  It's great, as usual from these boys!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

In Need of Encouragement?

I'm pretty much always in need of encouragement, and yesterday it came in the form of this newsletter article.  It was written by an adoptive mom named Stacy Manning who started an organization to help adoptive parents persevere and maintain their hope during the difficult path of parenting children from hard places.

If you want to know more about Stacy and why she does what she does you can find that here.  She has written a book, Adoptive Parent, Intentional Parent, and she has a website, To Have Hope, as well. She is committed, as I am, to encouraging others on this adoption journey - only she apparently has a lot more energy than I do since all I do is blog!  Maybe she consumes more coffee....

Anyway, grad a cup of coffee (because that makes everything better) and have a good read..

I Was Thinking...

This month Hope Connections is celebrating our second anniversary! What a ride these last two years have been. Every day we reached out to family after family doing our best to ensure they did not feel alone and that they knew there was HOPE! So much has been accomplished, yet there is so much more left to do…the number of hurting families is staggering.
It has become more evident to me that we as intentional adoptive parents need to fight to put a face on what it really means to live the life we do. We need to be transparent-not angry-while we live our journey. We need to educate EVERYONE we meet about the implications trauma and abandonment have on children-expelling the myth that children will simply “get-over” their pasts because they are so resilient. We need to hold our government, adoption professionals, educational bodies and medical personnel accountable to acknowledge that the mental/emotional issues our children come strapped with are often times paralyzing to entire family units. They need to integrate that knowledge more realistically into the definition of “best for the child” policy making. Adoption regulations must have more focus on what impact adopting a child with these deficits could have on both the child and the existing family unit. Finally, medical professionals must be somehow held accountable to consider and act on the fact that children can and do have mental/emotional issues, especially those who have suffered trauma. Yes, it feels like an up-hill battle, but I think it is time to start the climb...together.

So, as we move into our third year here at Hope Connections…I know very well that my passion and energy will continue to be to support as many families as possible--we must stick together! We must support one another, we must reach our hand out so that none of us feels alone. I hope that you all will walk alongside me in this endeavor. Be open and honest; you will be surprised what a gift you can be to that parent who still blames themselves or who has lost sight of any hope.
Hey, you are in the line of saving lives….you can do it!


Okay Then

This is what you find on the office wall when you have children that stay up later than you...

She's kind of left the options wide open on what I should do with Mr. Spider.....hmmm....this could be fun!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Phase Two

I warned you last year while we were doing our little addition to the house that there would be some "carry over" projects this year.  Namely, we have massive amounts of re-landscaping to do.  The unusually wet, cold spring has delayed the fixing of our yard until now.  At long last, the "getting my yard back" has finally begun!  I'm so happy.  Actually, I don't think I've ever been happier to see a Bobcat and lots of rock in my life!

Although it's far from finished, I am happy to report that we are no longer getting standing water right next to the house when it rains.  This makes me quite happy.  I am also pleased to report that we can begin working on our deck now.

Oh, happy day!!

Friday, June 7, 2013

By Request!

My friend Bonnie sent this amazing dish along with her kids to the bonfire tonight.  You simply HAVE to make this, it's outstanding!!!  I just couldn't stop eating it!

Black Bean Dip
1 can black beans (drained)
1 can shoepeg corn (drained)
2/3 cup chopped cilantro
1 diced avocado
2/3 green onion (sliced thin)
1 medium tomato diced

¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup red wine vinegar
2 minced garlic cloves
¾ tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 tsp cumin

At Long Last

Having to reschedule due to poor weather last Saturday, my Jr./Sr. High co-op students finally got to have their second annual end-of-co-op bonfire.  As last year, fun was had by all.

Despite all the wood being wet from the never-ending rain, we were able to get the fire going well enough to cook hotdogs over it.

After eating, the kids opted for hanging out at the playground.

They especially liked the spinning things!

They found this cute little caterpillar.  I refrained from turning it into a science lesson - it was difficult though!  (Yes, that is my extremely dry skin that the little guy is crawling on)

The night is barely over, and they are already planning a mid-summer event!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Scratch That

I've been waiting since May to post a blog entry entitled Three Reasons Why I Live In Minnesota, now, due to unforeseen circumstances, I need to scratch the whole thing.

Why, you ask?

Well here's the post....
Three Reasons Why I Live In Minnesota 

June, July & August

Well, with the current lack of beautiful weather, I will need to modify the post to The Two Reasons I Live In Minnesota.


School's out!

Can you tell I'm a little excited about that?!

I'll sleep in, and paint my nails, and eat nummy salads whenever I want....

Oh, wait....I'm a mom....with eight children in my home....some of whom wake up REALLY early....and don't like nummy salads....


Plan B

School's out!!

I'll spend my first day of summer vacation shopping for clothes for camp for two of my kids, arranging Peabody testing for another child, generally dealing with squabbles and conflicts and preparing dinner in time for a 6:00 soccer game.  Followed by more shopping after soccer.

It still feels like freedom to me!!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Standardized Testing

We have officially completed our class work for the 2012/2013 school year, so only one thing remains - standardized testing.   By Minnesota law, I must administer standardized tests to my children yearly because I "only" possess an engineering degree and NOT a teaching degree.

Because I am a law abiding citizen, I have faithfully administered said standardized tests for the past twelve years, to whomever happened to be between the ages of 7 and 16 in our home (and a few friends' kids).  In those twelve years, I have made a few observations.  I thought I'd take a minute to share them with you.

  1. Standardized testing is a really POOR way to judge what a child has learned in their schooling.  Why?  Well, unlike some schools, we don't teach to the test here.  So, while my chidren may not know in second grade which workers are paid with taxpayers' money, they can tell you a boatload of information about the early, middle and late Middle Ages and how workers' guilds and the bubonic plague ushered in the Renaissance. 
  2. Asking four questions on capitalization does NOT give you a very good understanding of a child's knowledge of capitalization.
  3. When asked a question in an unfamiliar way, a child may answer wrongly even though they really do know the correct answer.  True story - I was once testing my children and they wrote down that milk came from trees even though, if you were to ask them where milk comes from they would have told you cows.
  4. Some children cannot add 2+2 in a testing situation even though they are capable of doing long division.
  5. If a child struggles with reading, it will cause them to do poorly on all other subjects in written standardized tests.
So, I give the tests.  I get the results.  I look at the results, file them away (in case the school district ever asks to see them - although they never have), and carry on with our school.  I teach my kids five days a week for 52 weeks out of the year, I think I know what they know and what they don't know.  I already know what they struggle with and what they excel in.  I don't need a test to show me that, and since the state doesn't even get the results of said tests, it really is an exercise in futility.

And tomorrow, I will test them some more.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Well, Okay....

The morning's conversation -

Random child  (RC) (telling us about his/her dream): "......and there was this really cute guy there....."
Dad: "Was it me?"
RC: "Ooo, NO!"
Chris: "What?!"
Me (to the incredulous Chris): "Kids don't think their parents are cute, dear."
RC: "No, that's not true.  I think you and Dad are cute together, just not by yourself."

Gotta love kids!