Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Bon Voyage!

I really wanted to do a book review (Managing God's Money by Randy Alcorn...bottom line: it's good, inexpensive, and a must-read), post some more pictures, and maybe even chat a little bit, before we left on our trip.  Alas, I am out of time.  The good news is we have all the camping gear needed for the 11 of us packed and loaded into our van.  Mitch was an incredible help getting us ready for this trip.  My head is spinning.  Time to catch a last few hours of sleep in my own bed, then we're off to an early start. We are going to explore God's handiwork displayed across the Rocky Mountains.

Romans 1:19-20a "For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made."

Saturday, June 25, 2011


I apologize that it's been so quiet in my corner of the blogosphere.  :)  I have been very thoughtful and contemplative recently.  My thoughts are turned inward, and I've been examining my heart.  I've wanted to share many of the thoughts that I have, but they skitter and flit away almost too quickly to get down. I rarely have the chance to sit and write when the thoughts hit me.  So that's where I am...I'm not having a bad case of writer's block, I simply am living real life.

We are leaving soon to go on our big trip.  We can't wait to see family we haven't seen for years.  We are also looking forward to soaking up the majesty of God displayed in His wondrous creation.  It is going to be an incredible trip!

But tell me, how DO you fit 11 people into a 15-passenger van, with all the camping gear and clothing and other items that they will need for 12 days?  How do you even pack for that many people?  My packing list is veerrrrryyyy long.  We have to plan for 90 F in Yuma, Co, and 30+ F nights in Yellowstone National Park.  Last year when we went on our big trip we planned on eating out or eating with family, and we didn't haul any cooking gear.  This year we will have 3 full days in Yellowstone, so we have to haul cooking gear (at least a minimal amount).  It's going to be quite the ordeal.  I'm having a hard time thinking about anything else.  In the meantime, though, Devona is going to be running daycare for me, so I have to also plan meals, etc for that.  Really, I just can't hold a thought for more than 10 seconds at a time!

My mouth is healing slowly.  It was very swollen on Thursday and Friday.  Today was better.  I have some bruising.  Now that the swelling has gone down it feels more sore and the stitches are very irritating.  I seriously didn't think it was going to be this much trouble!  Since the swelling has gone down I have a better idea of what areas were actually worked on.  I have stitches above/around 4 of my teeth, so that is a fairly wide area of gums that were pulled back.  There are stitches on the roof/palate of my mouth that bother me the most.  It feels like a piece of fishing line stuck in there.  It's all mostly annoying, even if it is sore..."annoying" doesn't really interfere with my ability to get things done, so that's good.  I haven't needed much for pain medication except an occasional tylenol, so that's good too.

Karen and Marc, Mitch's mom and step-dad, were here all week and left this morning.  They worked on many projects throughout the week.  Since my head is crowded with everything else, I'm a little foggy on the details.  They spent a lot of time in the garage.  Mitch has cabinets and other things hanging in order all over the walls where he didn't before.  It looks really good.  I tried to take a picture, but the lighting just wouldn't work out right for me.  Maybe later when my head clears.  Our weather this week was pretty yucky.  The sun finally came out on Friday.  The kids were SO glad to be outside, and I was so glad to have them out.

Here are some pictures...I need to go to bed!

 {Tirzah hated the swing earlier this year when we put her in it, now she loves to swing again.}

 {Carrots, Lettuce, Corn, Sunflowers.  We harvested some radishes this week, too.}

 {One of the tomato plants we transplanted promises to survive a little while longer...but it's so small, I wonder how it could have time to produce anything!}

 I opted to just *take* the group picture rather than be in it with my swollen, bruised face.  It's so much easier to take a shot when standing behind the camera.  Tirzah wouldn't smile though.  Turkey.  The boys tried to tickle her to get her to smile.  Brothers!}

{Karen and Obadiah}

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A really BIG surprise!

Mitch's sister Hope was pregnant and due 10 weeks after me.  Her due date was coming up on the 26th.  She has had several ultrasounds and expected a girl.  She called on Monday morning to let me know her water broke.  We were so excited.  She progressed slowly throughout the day, but she did progress on her own.  I woke up early on Tuesday morning to hear she had her baby.  A call came soon after that and Mitch answered.  I was confused.  He said something about a BOY.  I didn't believe it for a while.  She had a BOY!  It was so funny.  He is perfect and healthy.  Kristin and I drove down to the cities last night to meet him for the first time.  There is something SO miraculous about seeing new babies, but also about watching a woman transform into a mother. 

 Paul and Marilyn brought this awesome shirt to Hope!
 "I'm cute not crabby"

He is unnamed since since his parents were caught by surprise.  :)  He weighed 8 lbs 6 oz--same as Obadiah--and was 21" long.  He was such a good boy to try on a newborn Pampered Cheeks All-in-Two for me, which fit perfectly.  :)

Oral Surgery Update

I had my oral surgery this morning to drain the cyst in the roof of my mouth.  Here is a recap:

Back in December I noticed a slightly tender spot on the roof of my mouth.  Because I was pregnant, the dentist would not do an x-ray so we didn't know what it was.  About a month before I delivered the spot developed into a small bulge.  But it was not painful.  Right after I gave birth to Obadiah I scheduled an appointment with the dentist.  A week later I saw him and we had an x-ray and found the cyst.  Within a couple days the cyst developed an abscess.  THAT was painful.  I got some antibiotics and the abscess ruptured.  Fun times.  A week after that I saw an endodontist and he tested the three teeth immediately under the cyst to see if any were dead.  One tooth was dead.  I went back to my regular dentist shortly after that and had a root canal on the dead tooth.  No big deal whatsoever.  Tooth had a really long root.  Fast forward till now.  After some drama about how insurance would cover the anesthesia, we finally got things straightened out and got to the matter at hand.

Going under general anesthesia is always a weird experience.  I just couldn't wait to be out.  I figure I was out by 8:40ish this morning.  Woke up with a numb, sore face and mouth a little over an hour later.  It took longer than I thought.  The doctor said that I should be fine with regular Tylenol, but prescribed Vicodin.  Since the pain was already exceeding the Novocaine, I opted to take some Vicodin when I got home.  That knocked me out and I promptly took a 2-hour nap.  I needed that SO badly, and it was really nice.  I need to get some ice on my face since I feel it swelling.  Oh, I'm also supposed to pump and dump for 48 hours, but yeah...probably not.  I pumped and dumped once and that will be it.  Obi took a bottle with no problems though while I was gone.  Such a good boy.  :)

The doctor said the cyst is benign.  That's good, because I never knew there was a question about that.  I'm glad I didn't know because I would have just worried anyway.  He said they are sending it off to a lab to determine exactly what it was, though, and I will have a follow-up appointment.  He said the whole cyst-thing is odd, but he has seen it before.  Nice.  I seem to have a knack for picking up medical oddities!  Hopefully the bone will reconstruct itself.  It is possible that it won't and I could lose the tooth.  (Yikes!)  There is also the possibility that one of the other teeth would have been upset by the surgery and would later need a root canal. And of course with benign cysts there is the possibility that the cyst would return.  I sure hope not!

Ok, off for some ice!!

Having some fun...

We're kicking the days around here, trying to have fun in spite of the cool, cloudy, wet weather. 

Caleb is using his Jedi mind skills to move the ball through a series of hoops in this "Mind Flex" game.  I think it just might be a little hokey, but the kids are determined to prove me otherwise.

Grandma Karen and Grandpa Marc are here.  Malachi has a new bike to ride and he LOVES it!  I wish the weather would cooperate so we could ride bikes more.

Kathi gave Mitch a sweet Father's Day card.  It had all these little origami boats inside and he had to put them in order to spell out a message from her. 

Karen found a good-sized radish in our garden ready for eating.  They have been doing a ton of work in the garage.  I'm not sure what all they have accomplished, but the garage really does look good.  I will try to take some pictures soon.  I wish the sun would come out.  Perhaps Mitch will give me a final report of their accomplishments at the end of the week.  :)

Kathi is getting more Obadiah time now!  She is getting the hang of being able to calm him down.  It is always good for me to have an extra set of hands to hold him while I get things done.  She was holding him while Caleb and I worked on a special project.

I already mentioned that Caleb won the "Edible Turtle" contest sponsored by his favorite author, Donita K. Paul.  The prize was matching aprons for us.  He has read the entire DragonKeeper Chronicles book series.  Mrs. Paul's website has lots of fun things to read, and he enjoys doing that too.  It also has recipes to try.  He has been begging me for weeks to do one with him.  When our aprons arrived in the mail, I had him settle on one recipe and made sure we had everything we needed.  He chose Old Fashioned Mullins (from DragonSpell).  The one ingredient we didn't have was light cream, so he had to be patient until I could go to the store.  It was so hard to wait!  Even when the cream was in the fridge and ready, he was still struggling to wait.  :)  Finally on Monday night after everyone was in bed we had a chance. 

Caleb got out all the ingredients and utensils we needed.  He helped me measure, pour, and mix.  Karen helped me fry them.  Then Caleb was in charge of sprinkling powder sugar on top.

Caleb got to try the first one...he said they are good.

Everyone enjoyed sampling Caleb's mullins.  We have enough cream leftover to try another batch.

Tirzah is a nut.  :)  She loves her pockets.  She also loves her some chocolate.  Such a sweetie!!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The week in pictures

The week's not over yet, but here are some pictures anyway. :)

Zeke is holding the first radish of the season.  I must have caught him mid-blink though because his eyes look silly.  :)

Baby carrots in the raised-bed garden.

Malachi says he does not think he will try the radishes.

This is a work-in-progress.  The storage shed to be under our lower deck.  It needs a roof and a door.  Then Mitch would like to paint some lattice and put up to make it a little "prettier."  I like prettier. The cement blocks are not held together in any way, so that is why we did not fuss with getting them level and perfect.  I think the plan is for this to be moveable if needed.

Weeding time.  Mitch is sitting by a row of sunflowers.  The radishes are in the bottom corner.  The area to the right of the radishes is lettuce, which will most likely produce.  The area to the left of the radishes was onions, which didn't come up.  Micah is sitting by the baby carrot tops.  Zeke is by something else--we forgot exactly what, but I think is a different variety of lettuce.  Eden and Mitch are inspecting the row of corn that is after the sunflowers.  A lot of seeds didn't actually come up.  We were kind of surprised and a little disappointed.  Adventures in gardening continue!  We may plant the seeds, but it is God who causes them to grow.

Transplanting cucumbers, tomatoes, and peppers with helpers.  Mitch also tried planting a bean in each straw bale to see if it could grow and climb along the fence.  

Two good helpers

You know what's going to happen next, don't you??

Now see?  It happened!  He hit his thumb with the hammer.

Caleb is learning to skateboard.  At least he has the hair for the job!

Zeke is riding the bike with only one hand!  That's good balancing.  :)

Tirzah also has good balancing.  She's riding side-saddle.  :)  A little while before this she called out to me, "Mom, watch." Then she stood up on the seat.  That really was good balancing.  By the time I got my camera the magic of the moment had passed.  She's still pretty cute, though.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

What we've been up to

Things are not slowing down here yet at all.  It seems like my life has been full-speed-ahead ever since the water heater broke, and I can't seem to catch my breath!

Some of the "big" things (well, big to me):
  • Mitch wrapped up the school year in Royalton, and immediately went to work at NorthCrest Gymnastics & Dance where he has worked many other summers previously.  He is working 4 days/week various hours.
  • I am watching extra daycare kids who are home from school for the summer, plus a new little guy started.  My days are full and long and chaotic.  I crave quiet.
  • Kids are having their annual (or biennial) doctor checkups.  Malachi was super shy and literally crawled under the chair trying to avoid Dr. Tjaden.  He didn't show her his million-dollar smile nor any of his other cuteness.  We're going to have to work on that.
  • Our car blew a head gasket (and subsequently gained a hole in the radiator)...ouch.  After a week in the shop and $1500 (we also replaced the timing belt/water pump while the engine was already apart), it's running again.  I hope it's running GREAT. 
  • We finally got some warm weather and thus started working/playing outside a lot more.  Zeke and Josh both learned to ride two-wheelers at the same time.  I missed this exciting moment and still haven't managed to get pictures of them on their bikes. 
  • I put away winter clothing and got out summer clothing for several of the kids (trust me, it's a LOT of clothing).
  • We have been cleaning, organizing, and purging neglected areas of the house.  We literally filled Paul's trailer with donations for our church's garage sale.  We also threw away nearly that much.  The purpose of the garage sale was to raise money for the Abba Fund, a fund started to provide interest-FREE loans to couples seeking to adopt internationally, with special needs, or from the Minnesota Waiting Children list.  They raised over $6,300!!
  • I began working on my third diaper pattern--the Pampered Cheeks Growing Cheekies Pocket & AI2.  I didn't meet my personal deadline, but I have made reasonably good progress.
  • I found a lost part to my tripod while cleaning, saving us from buying a replacement (!!!).
  • I shopped and got some good deals on clothing for Obadiah and Tirzah to fill in the gaps over the next year.  I also gave away a good amount of clothing (hard for me to do since I have a "save" mentality when it comes to clothes).
  • Mitch has been working on the garage and has some space to finally do some work out there with the tools.  He's going to build stuff!  It looks really, really good.  Two of our kids (at different times) commented that "Wow, we could park a car in there!"  Their visual/spacial sense is a little off--we can't really get a car in it, but the effect is the same--there IS a lot of freed-up space in there.  It's starting to look like a real shop.
  • Mitch also started building a block shed under our lower deck so we can store our bikes in it.  He has to get the roof and a door on, but he's working on it.  I'm curious to see what the finished project will look like.  It's something I've hoped he would do for a few years now, so it's great to be started on it.
  • Caleb won the "Edible Turtle Contest" sponsored by his favorite author, Donita K. Paul.
  • We caught a summer virus--it starts with a sore throat, then is followed by a runny nose and coughing.  Malachi seems to have the "sleepy" version--he slept all afternoon/evening, woke up a little for supper, then slept all night and all morning right up to noon.  He is feeling better now. 
  • Kathi is away this week on a missions trip with the youth group--Operation St. Cloud.  This was a GREAT idea by our youth leaders.  The team is staying in cabins nearby, about 20 min. away, and doing various ministry activities in St. Cloud.  The costs of such a trip are minimal, and the impact is going to be equal to a missions trip that requires travel.  I hope she has a fun week, is encouraged to grow in her faith, and also stays healthy!
  • One of our church elders came by and laid the carpet back in the boys' room.  He has to come back to do the hallway a different day.  We got the boys all moved back in to their room.  I still need to do some cleaning in the family room downstairs, but we're getting there.  What a relief!!
What is coming up in the next few weeks:
  • I have two non-fiction books to read for reviews.  They are both on topics that I have been pondering lately anyway.  Good timing.
  • Karen and Marc are coming up to visit for a week.  They'll be here this Friday.
  • I have oral surgery next week.  Ick!  I'm trying to guess what to expect.  My friend Kristin asked if I have ever had my wisdom teeth out.  Yes, I have.  I certainly hope it's not that bad!!!  Waking up from that surgery was awful and I was miserable for the next couple of days.  I was sort of hoping I would be back to daycare later that afternoon (with Mitch's help, of course), so let's hope it's not quite so awful.
  • The kids will go to VBS next week at our church, too.  At least some of them, some of the days.
  • The last week of June we will go on a big trip--we're going out to Colorado for a family reunion.  Then we will head north to Yellowstone National Park for a few days before driving home across South Dakota.  We hope to stop and stay in the Mt. Rushmore area too.  We are just now forming our plans and making reservations (it's been too crazy to plan much sooner).
  • A couple weeks after that we will have another vacation at home--Patrick and his family from Germany will be here to visit.  We are sooo excited!!!  We will have our whole family together for the first time--all of "our" kids!  Expect pictures.
  • At the end of July we will say goodbye to Kathi and release her safely to the care of her family in Germany.  :'(  Saying goodbye stinks.
 Sad news:
  • We won't be able to host an exchange student next year.  The Department of State made some new regulations with a tighter screening process.  The problem is that they don't just screen us out for closer inspection, it excludes us altogether with no exceptions.  Currently I'm quite angry about it, and it definitely deserves a "sound off" all of its own.  You just might get that in a later post.  What you can do:  consider hosting an exchange student.  I don't know about all areas, but I know in ours we are having a hard time finding families willing to host students.  They have no clue what they're missing out on!  Also, if you happen to know Hillary Clinton or anyone of power working in the State Department, ask them to give me a call.  ;)

Book Review: Bombus the Bumblebee

Have you heard that Bumblebees are not shaped right for flight?  They are a bit of an anomaly.  Don't tell Bombus that!  Actually, Bumblebees are REALLY cool, and you will learn why in Bombus the Bumblebee, written by Elsie Larson and beautifully illustrated by David Haidle & Elizabeth Haidle.  This book is published by Master Books, New Leaf Publishing Group.

Bombus the bumblebee seems to be a problem for honeybees.  They perceive that he takes all the best nectar for himself, leaving little for them.  They devise a plan to keep Bombus out of their way.  They gather around him and tell him he is not shaped right for flying.  Bombus believes them, and loses his ability to fly.  The underlying story takes on two issues:  1) Creation (everything has been created by God) and 2) Bullying/teasing/self-esteem (because we are all created by God, we are special just the way we are...and that goes two ways--how we see ourselves and how we see others).

I thought this story was so special that a video review would be necessary.  Now, I don't claim to be a good director/producer.  We actually had to try several times just to get this, so please be patient with me (or at least as patient as my kids were).  I'm also lacking in the post-editing department.  So this is what you get.  :)  Hey--at least the kids are cute.  AND the book is SUPER cute!

This book would make a great gift.  It is also perfect to go along with a science curriculum.  There are many activities in the back to pull in the younger crowd (such as instructions for making fingerprint bumblebees).  There is more "scientific" information about bumblebees also in the back, perfect for launching further study for the older elementary crowd.  Good thing we have all those age ranges here at our house!

Thanks to New Leaf Publishing Group for sending me a complimentary copy of this book.  I was not required to write a positive review.  My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Family Pictures today!

Today after church we headed to the Klemens/Munsinger Gardens to take pictures.  I have been wanting to go for weeks.  We didn't end up spending time actually IN the gardens like I had hoped (there is never enough time!), but we did get some great shots on a spot I had scouted out earlier.  It was technically in the Riverside Park, but heh--you can drive through the gardens to get there.  :)

Everyone knows it usually takes me a bit to get my camera set up and on the right settings.  I take a bazillion pictures before I'm ready to get "the" picture.  Then when I'm finally ready, everyone is usually "done".  LOL.  So this time Mitch took a bunch of kids for a potty break.  Some of the older kids had a pinecone war.  (Reminded me of the corncob fights we used to have with our cousins.)  I took the opportunity to nurse Obadiah also.

It was a cloudy day.  I liked the nice, even lighting, but I should have used my flash to brighten our faces a little more.  Proof that I'm still learning...

 (Micah is holding Obadiah on his lap in the picture above...so cute.)

I loved this picture (above).  I tried to randomly space everyone.  By the time I got the smiles I wanted (below), some squirmy kids didn't stay in place, LOL.  But it works anyway!  I'm actually sort of fond of the personalities displayed in the one above.  :)

Tirzah was adament about NOT smiling.  She was definitely ready for a nap!

 That's it!  That one (above) was "good enough".

 Such a brave big girl...
 High five...
 And so serious, too!

 Auntie Hope with Obadiah

Caleb requested a solo photo so he could have a picture for his blog.  :)