Monday, June 30, 2008

Aaah, Summertime!

Aah, the sweet scent of sun-dried sheets!


Flowers finally in bloom

Steve and Josie are eating these like candy.

One of our new pets, Violet Rainbow

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Saturday, June 28, 2008

That horrible and yet ever so tiny rodent was dead in a trap this morning when I woke up, so it looks like I won't have to move just yet. I'm going to have Steve set some more traps just in case, but I'm hopeful that Mr. Mouse just wandered into our tuck-under garage a couple days ago as we were digging out our bikes. Steve wasn't fully clothed when he checked the trap this morning, so he just set it out on the deck. The girls got SUCH a kick out of it! 

E-"Mommy, can we keep it for a pet?" M-"No! It's DEAD!" E-"But can we keep it for a pet, just to look at it?"

A-"Can we use double gloves and put it in a box and take it to Hartley [nature center] to show people?" M-"NO! It will rot.....dead things rot!" A-"But can we just take a picture of it rotting so I can put it in my scrapbook?"

It is now incredibly clear to me that my kids are STARVING for a pet. So today we found a small aquarium at a garage sale and took them to the pet store and bought them a male Beta fish. They named him Cordelia Pearl:) Gotta love a male fish with wispy flowing fins named Cordelia. Then Steve took the older girls to our favorite cemetery pond where we found their other pet, Freddy the frog, a few weeks ago. Not sure if I blogged about that.....I think I tried to upload a video of the dramatic catching of Freddy......but anyway, we had to take Freddy back because he refused to eat anything we gave him and every morning I woke up afraid that he was dead from starvation. So today they came home with another frog (named Freddy), a small turtle, and a crazy looking tadpole that is just starting to grow legs. 

So girls, no, we cannot keep the dead mouse just to look at it and take pictures of it in various stages of decay for our scrapbook. But we CAN have a pet fish named Cordelia Pearl, a frog, a turtle, and a tadpole!


Friday, June 27, 2008

A mouse is in the house!!

So just as I published my last post, I saw something move out of the corner of my eye. A MOUSE!!! I'm typing from a chair....on my knees....waiting for Steve to set a trap. I'm a tough girl, natural childbirth and all, but hey, I absolutely will NOT live in a house where a mouse might scamper across my feet, or run across my face as I sleep, or hop into the bathtub as I'm shaving, or infest my open jar of peanut butter with nasty mouse diseases. So if you don't hear from me for awhile, it's cuz I've moved into the pop-up camper out back. 

AAAAAAAAGGGHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!

Only the most specific names and locations have been changed.....

I've been noticing that folks are very careful in Bloggyland not to reveal their true identities. They refer to their family members by initials only, cutesy nicknames, or by abbreviations indicating their sexes and ages. Now before anyone files a report to the authorities of secrecy and pseudo-identities, I must inform you that my seemingly careless use of names and places is intentionally specific, yet totally fabricated.

My last name is NOT Sopha, but it IS a synonym for a comfortable piece of furniture. I only WISH I had given my daughters beautiful old-fashioned names, but unfortunately, hubby "Steve" refused to be inspired by the obituary pages. I hope I haven't unintentionally stolen someone's identity by my lies of protection. I can't imagine the name Sopha actually exists.....poor soul if it does. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Warning: Anatomically Incorrect

So I know that the "experts" say you are supposed to teach anatomically correct terms so your children aren't ashamed of their bodies or whatever.....But I just can't do it! 

"OK girls, finish washing up those vaginas before you get out of the tub so we can go meet Daddy at the rose garden for a picnic." B.L.E.C.K.

So unintentionally, everything is now referred to as "booty." Daddy has a booty. We all shake our booties. Girls have a "front booty" and a "back booty." 

I recently found a reason to throw the word "penis" into a conversation with the girls. They were wondering how to tell if our new pet frog was a boy or girl. FYI...."According to my research" (Magic School Bus) only the males croak. But I decided it was time to reinforce the anatomically correct word that we don't have much use for in our estrogen filled home. So I asked them if they knew how to tell the difference between a male and female mammal. Ella responded with "girls have long eyelashes," and Josie thought that females all had long hair. I'm quite sure Addie knew the response I was looking for, but maybe refrained from answering for fear of saying a "bad" word (since we never use it). So needless to say I had to discuss the male anatomy.....using a term OTHER than "booty." I think that maybe an annual review will suffice, but what do you think? Am I doing serious damage to my sweet little girlies by not using anatomically correct terms? What do you all call "stuff"?

P.S. I started this post last week and interestingly enough, my girls were exposed to the anatomy of two proud little boys several times over this past weekend. 

"Ooooh ooooh! I know the answer to this one!" the girl waved her hand eagerly in the air.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Grandma's Marathon Weekend

What is a weekend without a lil' Settlers?

Mimi and Gwen

Sunday lunch...3 families...12 kids...lots of delicious food...several indecent exposures...34 screams in response to said exposures...one bloody nose.

Jason the marathon runner and Steve with his new grill.
Thank you economic stimulus check yet to be received.

Whipper Snapper Racers

Clark leading the girls in some pre-race stretches.

Josie and Ella's first ribbons ever:)

Racing cut into Gwen's naptime.....she couldn't make it home.

Waiting at the 25 mile marker after one of many weekend downpours.


Jason and Greg finished the marathon in 4:08. And it turns out I can no longer blame my marathon misty eyes on pregnancy hormones. I am just absolutely amazed by people's determination. To the point of tears. And so, in honor of the determination of the runners of marathons......and yes, even half marathons, I will show my own determination by ceasing to gorge myself on brownies and homemade ice cream as I have all weekend. As soon as I'm finished with that last little bit down in the freezer....Mmmmmm:)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

What $13.58 can buy.....

If you shop at Walgreens.
And you clip coupons.
And you send in rebates.
Bargain hunting is definitely my drug of choice. What a high! 
And no.....I don't make a habit of photographing my toiletries.

As a side note, Cub accepted my $10 off expired coupon I mentioned in Defeation?! I learned that they accept coupons up to one month old! Yay Cub!

Now this was sure a short and non-time consuming post:) Maybe I should do a weekly photo of the week's best deal? But before you run out to Walgreen's, I bought this stuff last month. This week I got 8 power tooth brushes free. Well, four were free and the other four were "free" as in "I have in-store credit in the amount I paid for the toothbrushes to use next time I shop." 

Better get cleaning. We're looking forward to a fun and crazy weekend with family visiting as my older brother is running in Grandma's marathon:) Here's to hoping the whole endurance thing runs in the family.......Fifteen people in a one bathroom house:O 
Watch out woods!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Sleeping Arrangements

We have a bunch of family coming up this weekend for Grandma's marathon, which got me thinking about sleeping arrangements. Just thought I'd share a few pictures of our cozy arrangements....

Sleeping Arrangements or Strangulation Arrangements?

This IS a twin bunk bed, but they like to be close!

Sleepover= 5 girls in a queen bed.......width-wise.
(pre-remodeling)

(post-remodel)
 Gwen graduates to the big girls' bed.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Father's Day Part 1

Steve and Addie about to head out to the Father Daughter Ball this year.

Steve fixing Ella's hair and teaching her to chant "Let's go Tigers" at a Twins game this spring.

Steve and his girls on a frog hunt a couple weeks ago.


I could see from the first time I met Steve on a missions trip in Mexico that he would be a fabulous daddy someday. He was only 18 at the time, but there was a sparkle in his eye as he interacted with the kids that week, and they LOVED his teasing and playful personality....as did I:) Fourteen years and four daughters later, I am more grateful than ever to have been blessed with such a patient loving husband and father for my girls. I have a brain full of precious daddy moments, but if I had to choose just one to share, it would be of an especially tender evening Steve had with our 3 year old daughter Ella earlier this year. 

In a house full of girls, time alone with Daddy is hard to come by and extra special. One random evening this past winter, Ella requested a date with Daddy. "Date" in our household usually refers to time alone with one parent, usually running some mundane errand like getting groceries or a picking up a shower head at the hardware store. Occasionally, a small treat is involved, but in general it is just special to have time with no interruptions or arguing. Since Steve wasn't needing to run any errands, he asked Ella what she wanted to do for their date. Ella's immediate response was "a princess date!"

Steve looked at me with uncertainty in his eyes and the best suggestion I could come up with was that he take her to Target where I had recently seen some of their fancy Christmas dresses on clearance. He ended up taking her to TJMaxx where he bought her an especially flowy princess dress. David's Bridal just happens to share a parking lot with TJMaxx, so Steve, of his own volition, took Ella into every princess's dream store.......to look at wedding veils and flower girl dresses. Oh, how I wish I could have been there to see the pure joy on Ella's face! But that's not the best of it.......When they got home, Ella tried on the dress only to find that the straps were too loose and kept sliding off her shoulders. And what would any exceptionally talented daddy who is comfortable with his "man-ness" do?........Steve got out the needle and thread and altered the straps until it fit her perfectly! I dare anyone to contest his place on the Daddy of the Year pedestal!!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Daddy photos

HELP! I finished a post I started long ago for Father's Day.....I know.....the Queen of Procrastination starting something weeks before absolute necessity demands it!? You'd think it would be a masterpiece with all that time to work on it. Well, not so much. And you'll have to scroll down to May 21st when I started it, 'cuz I can't figure out how to change the posting date. There's gotta be a way, right? Well, I might as well post some more pictures to snag someone into reading my cry for help.........

Workday picnic at the Rose Garden

Playing with his girls

Putting up the tent

Hiking at Amnicon

North Shore

Addie's first day of 1st grade

Hike at Hartley

Things I Love About MY Dad







  1. He is an encourager. Whether it's a co-worker, a neighbor, a friend, or even a random stranger, my dad has something encouraging to say to everyone. And he is sincere.
  2. He loves his family. He has always made his family his top priority. He wasn't a workaholic we never saw around home. Even when he used to work nights he would take us out to look through the telescope when he got home from work.
  3. He knows a lot about computers. This may sound like a dumb reason, but I know I can always count on my dad to help me solve any kind of computer problem:)
  4. He helped our family make lots of wonderful memories. My dad exposed us to so many cool things growing up. Whether it was camping in Minnesota, motor-biking and snorkeling in the Bahamas, or taking an impromptu trip across country in a Datsun, my dad made a wholehearted effort to provide new and fun experiences for us. Though don't ask about his 'lil stop in Vegas to show us the pitfalls of gambling. (I attribute my love of poker and lotto tickets to that fateful day).
  5. He cares about people. This kind of goes along with his gift of encouragement, but he really truly cares about people and will go out of his way to befriend the hurting, lonely, and imprisoned. Literally. Not just because "imprisoned" makes him sound like a saint:)
  6. He is passionate about his interests and beliefs. O.K. Dad. You've got to admit.......and though your interests may change from one month to the next, I DO love that you are passionate about them. Even if it means me hearing all about the pros of apple cider vinegar:) "It really is good. (barf)"
  7. He taught me to think for myself. My dad taught by his example that it is OK to think for myself, to not just believe everything I'm told, but to question things, do my own "research", come to my own conclusions. He raised me with strong Biblical values, but he didn't shove anything down my throat. He didn't give me the answers and never pretended to have it all figured out. And because of it, I learned to think for myself.....though lately I haven't been very good at it:(
Happy Father's Day Dad! 
Thanks for being the wonderful man that you are.
I love you, 
Julie 

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Good Deal on Low Self-Esteem!!!

Alternative Title:
Today's Bad Mom Agenda: Get'em Fat, Then Make Them Watch Unattainable Beauty

Guilty as charged. We got a bunch of McDonald's coupons good for free happy meals when you read 10 books from my mom yesterday. They expire soon, so I told the girls that if they read 10 books this morning we could go to McDonald's for lunch. It took a tidge longer than expected, but we hit the drive through around one, then set off to the one garage sale in Duluth that started this morning. (I had to get my fix.) And in a moment of weakness, I bought a brand new Swan Lake Barbie DVD for $1.50. I have a general rule about buying Barbie stuff, but like I said, it was a moment of weakness. A few minutes ago as I was starting the movie Addie said, "Oh, I think we've seen this before! It's about swans and princesses and it didn't even make me think bad things about my body!" 

Reminds me of something my husband asks me when I come home from a shopping trip with sugar cereal (which I only do when it is practically free after coupons.) "If poison was free would you feed it to the kids?" Poison, no. But I guess my actions today show that I would intentionally ruin a girl's fragile self-esteem......IF the price was right;)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Getting to know Addie

Addie just asked me if she could answer "some questions like what color crayon would I want to be like we did a long time ago." Josie just joined in, so I thought I'd share their answers. I think this is from a 2008 version of Getting to Know Your Friends and Family.

1. What is your occupation (chores in their case)? A-doing dishes and setting the table and sometimes washing the grapes. Oh, and potty training Gwen. J-doing the laundry (taking it down to the basement), helping Ella do the shoes, and vacuuming

I have to add here that a few weeks ago the kids were all in front of the church for a mini kid sermon when our pastor asked them what chores they had to do. Most kids answered things like "make my bed" or "feed the cat." So when Josie's answer was "do the laundry," I think most people either thought she was a liar or that I was a total slave driver:0

2. What color are your socks right now? A-Not any color at all......I was gonna wear purple and white socks.....I love the short kind that don't go higher than my ankle. J-pink footy pajamas?
3. What are you listening to right now? A-Gwen and Ella singing and having a parade. J-"Hey Julie"
4. What was the last thing you ate? A-Peanut butter toast and Honey Nut Cheerios.  J- meatballs, potatoes and vegetables.....I mean Honey Nut Cheerios
5. Can you drive a stick shift? A-I can't drive anything at all. 
6. If you were a crayon, what color would you be? A-Light blue
7. Last person you spoke to on the phone? A-I think it was Kendalyn. J-I think it was Grandma.
8. Do you like the person that sent this to you? A-What kind of question is that? (n/a)
9. How old are you today? A-7 J-5
10. Favorite drink? A-Water J-juice...apple
11. What is your favorite sport to watch? A-Baseball.....because I have a t-ball set. J-baseball.....cuz I like watching Mommy and Daddy
12. Have you ever died your hair? A-no
13. Pets? A-I caught 2 frogs named Freddy and Hopper, but I had to let them go last week.
14. Favorite Food? A-pizza, macaroni and cheese, and peanut butter and jelly.  J-pizza
15. Last movie you watched? Cinderella III
16. Favorite Day of the Year? A-of this year?....the day that Mady and Clark (her cousins) are coming over (in a couple weeks....she obviously has high expectations.) 
17. What do you do to vent anger? A-I take a deep breath sometimes. Josie is chiming in that she likes to have a party when she's really angry.
18. What was your favorite toy as a child? A-my blanky
19. What is your favorite season? A-spring
20. Hugs or kisses? A-both
21. Cherry or Blueberry? A-Cherry
25. What happened to....? A-Emery (my white poodle)
26. When was the last time you cried? A-yesterday when Mommy made me go to my room
27. What is on the floor of your closet? A-I don't have a closet. J-a tub with clothes in it
30. Favorite smells? A-mommy's garden, roses, laundry fresh out of the washing machine. J-my blanky when it comes out of the washing machine
31. Who inspires you? A-Nadia, cuz she has fun little chicks and she can do tricks and climb trees good. And she can do almost anythng. Ditto for Josie.
32. What are you afraid of? A-rattlesnakes, King Cobras, bears and wild cats.....and when Daddy scares me J-when Daddy does cannonballs and he doesn't tell me, lions and tigers and bears and the dark
33. Plain, cheese, or spicy hamburgers? cheese (for both)
34. My favorite car? A-the one I saw on a commercial with flowers on the outside and like a camper on the inside...and it was bright pink
35. Favorite kind of cat? A-kittens
38. Favorite day of the week? A-Saturday....no school, no church, no Hartley, no swimming lessons
40. Do you think you're funny? A-yes, cuz I always make weird faces and I do funny tricks

Monday, June 9, 2008

6 shower curtains for a one bathroom house





I just came from a quick visit to Sabrina's Superflous blog and fell in love with her new background that reminds me of an especially fun purchase I made. A few years ago I found a bright and happy shower curtain on sale for less than 8 bucks in Pottery Barn's online clearance department and snatched up 6 of them. Yes, as the title states, we live in a one bathroom home. I had visions of sleeping in past 9 after using them as room darkening curtains in the girls' rooms....
But it turns out they fit the square table that is perfect for poker and Catan parties, but impossible (no more) to find tablecloths for. (I realize I am ending with a preposition). The best part of it is that it is TOTALLY waterproof! They must have treated that thing with the heaviest duty scotchguard/hiking boot waterproofing concoction imaginable! We can spill a whole glass of something on it and let it sit till we are done with dessert and then just blot it up with a towel. No evidence of clumsiness to be found! We could, but we don't due to the uneven floors in this old house.......it would have all rolled off the table and into the corner of the living room where all the electronic wiring is hidden. Anyway, I'm waiting for Sabrina to tire of her background so I can steal it and be reminded of all the fun parties that sported the shower curtain.

BSBG

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Well, let your hearts be saddened no longer.....Introducing Blogger Stigma Be Gone (BSBG), a revolutionary new product that will have your friends and family begging "pretty please with a cherry on top" for your blog address. Order within the next 15 minutes and you will also receive Comment Enhance, an odorless, tasteless powder that will have your friends and family commenting on each and every blog post, raving about your unmatched sense of humor, your impeccable grammar, and your incredibly sexy hip-hop abs. Both BSBG and Comment Enhance can be conveniently mixed into the cookie dough your friends are unable to resist, making this product the only proven and effective way to get rid of unwanted blogger stigma. 

Don't delete your blog and live behind the bars of "Dear Diary" in order to save face. Let creativity reign. Call now!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Defeation?

OK. Now that it's no longer the middle of the night, I DO realize that DEFEATION is not a real word. Even in my groggy stupor caused by a drive-by garbage can knock-over at about 2 am I didn't think it sounded quite right. Now that I've been blogging for a little while, I've noticed that seemingly great "blog plots" tend to take over my normal brain activity (whatever that is) and keep me awake in the middle of the night. After my rude awakening last night I had multiple fabulous blog plots practically typed and edited in my head. And they were good. Pee your pants good. At least they seemed good to me at the time. Come to think of it, I may have been dreaming them. You know how your dreams make absolute sense in the midst of them, but when you wake up you can't even begin to explain them in words? Don't worry, I'll spare you the details of my dreamy award winning blog plots. But I'm going to keep my dreamy non-word title......Defeation.

A List of Things that Continue to Defeat Me

1. Laundry. I pride myself on my ability to remove practically any stain. One of my greatest joys is taking an adorable yet stained Gap garage sale dress and baptizing it in my pool of stain removing prowess. Yet I have mounds of dirty laundry the size of igloos. And Steve's "biggest challenge of the day" (he informed me last night) is finding a matching pair of socks. Oh, and last week I came across a bag of clothes that Gwen had puked on coming home from Michigan. At Christmas.

2. Garage sale books. I can NOT stop buying them. We are absolutely and totally out of bookshelf space, yet I continue to buy books for the girls. I just can't pass up something that retails for 12.99 when it will cost me less than a quarter. Plus, it's cheaper than overdue fines from the library. I've paid my fair share of library fines. But I have to stop and GAIN SOME CONTROL! (that's for you Nikki:)

3. Peanut Butter. Maybe it's because it beckons me from the counter beside the toaster. Maybe if I could just put it behind closed cupboard doors. I absolutely adore peanut butter. If there is ever an economic collapse, count on this girl to retain her "wobbly bits." I have it stockpiled in the basement.

4. Coupons. I am a coupon clipping, rebate sending maniac. I've even been known to buy envelopes (containing especially good coupons) on ebay! Coupons have saved me TONS of money (usually by combining them with Walgreen's coupons, but that is for different post). Unfortunately, my purse is overflowing and I've fallen way behind on sorting them into my lil accordion file. Which makes them useless unless I spend an hour at the checkout counter trying to sort thru them all. I actually started cleaning out my purse a couple days ago and came across a $10 off your next purchase, Free Milk with next purchase, AND 2 free movie ticket downloads all from Cub. And they were expired. AAAAGGGGGGGHHHHHH!!!!!

5. Gwen's hair. My youngest daughter has been blessed with a thick full head of hair. From birth. And it defeats me on an hourly basis. I wash it daily....hoping the squeaky clean smell might help make up for my serious hairstyling deficit. I have the most luck with a single barrette holding her hair out of her eyes. She has so much that the ponytails just won't stay put. She sported her first little braid last week. Steve did it.

6. Our family minivan. This is where another picture would be worth a thousand words. Just use your imagination. And multiply that by 16:(

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Keys to a Successful Softball Season in the Northland

After the last couple years of playing co-rec softball on my church's team, I feel like I've finally figured out a few keys to a successful season. Just thought I'd share my insights.

1. Dress in MULTIPLE layers. These layers should include (but are not limited to) a winter hat, (with a hole cut in the back for your ponytail) a winter coat, a rain jacket, mosquito netting, a tank top, and some sort of Depends-like undergarment in case the field in Parkland has yet to see the value in obtaining a biffy and you still haven't mastered the invaluable "squat and pee." Or you may have mastered the "squat and pee" but because you're just a tidge self conscious, you refuse to do it within 30 feet of your pastor.

2. Become friends with a child leash. I personally can't contain myself when I see someone "walking their child", but I can imagine it would come in wonderfully handy when your team is on the field and your 2 year old has decided she no longer wants to play "Our parents died in the war and we have to take care of ourselves" with the older kids and would rather wander behind the batter to show mommy the not so empty beer can she found under the bleachers.

3. Food. Food. And more Food. Enough food for everyone on your team and all their kids and the kids of the opposing team. And a few random neighborhood kids. Food gives the younger kids a reason to stick close to the field instead of wandering into the woods or a busy parking lot. It also is their dinner time and from my experience, kids don't handle skipping a meal as graciously as ad......err.....Forget that. If you don't bring an abundance of food, the wandering parentless (I was going to use "unsupervised," but that would mean MY children) child who has never seen fresh fruit before will eat the entire 4 pounds of grapes before your kids can settle themselves on a picnic blanket.

4. Lastly, one must understand that to have a truly successful softball season in the Northland, it may be necessary to pick up a 2nd job to pay for the gas to get to the games. Some fields are approximately 309 miles from home, making it a rather expensive form of "entertainment."