After four kids, ten moves and nearly two decades, we are still blissfully in love (most of the time) and I found myself back in the state I was born and raised in. It has definitely been a journey. In fact, on our 18th anniversary we pulled the last of our stuff up over the pass and into Montana, leaving our surprise love, Idaho, behind. But Montana is a great place. The last best place according to some. And we fully intend to explore as much of it as we can! Join us on our continued adventure through life, love and other stuff that comes with it.

Friday, December 31, 2010

It's DONE! (A family project over break)

Brent took this week between Christmas and New Years off and we needed a fun project to do with the kids. 

Enter this piece of furniture that has for some reason made the move every time in the last several years. 

And a skill saw:

And a little idea from the wife. (HEY!  We could use this drawer here!)

And some helpful children.

And things begin to take shape.  We gave a fridge, microwave, stove top, oven and a drawer for storage.  A counter is in the design, but not installed just yet.

Then, late one night after they are all in bed, mom and dad slam out the last finishing touches.

I must say, we are super pleased with the results!

Here's hoping it gets a ton of use over many years!

And the husband doesn't decide to remodel it any time soon.   

He tends to do things like that.

One more time . . .



And we have only a handful of scraps left over.  

Happy New Year Everyone!

The Mitten

We had quite a blizzard the last few days.  The snow is several feet deep and hard enough that the kids can walk across it.

Or swim through it.  (Kids don't get to play in the rain like this!)

I decided that the we all needed to get out and get some sun.  Yes, it was -1 degrees out, but that was just too bad.  We had exploring to do.

And corrals to conquer.  Yes, that's the husband standing on his round pen.  Yes, the snow is up over the top rail in places.  SO glad we sent the horse to the neighbors!

Daddy's antics attracted some more kids.

The drift in the corral was pretty sturdy.

I offer proof that Carsten and I were there.

Seriously, this Amauti completely rocks my world.  I'm not stuck in the house with the baby all the time.  I just bundle him up and off we go!  He usually falls asleep and is always warm and toasty when we get back in.

One of the cats came over to check us out.  Such a nice kitty.  And Violet was happy to see her kitty.  Even though I'm pretty sure it wasn't hers.  But a two-year-old can't really tell three black cats apart.  Neither can I to tell you the truth.

The two big girls climbed fences.

We played with the cat.

And the big girls vaulted off the fence into the snow.

Then the cat got cold and decided Carsten was a good, warm perch.

"The Mitten!" the daddy declared.  You know that story about the mitten lost in the snow and all the animals squeeze in until the cricket and then the mitten explodes?

He's read that story a few times. 

Our next major purchase is snow shoes.  I'm so excited!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Today's project . . .

We found this in our basement. 

Daddy's been looking for a project to do with the kids while he is home this week.  Something like this.

Here's the crew.  Yes, Carsten has a saw.  And Violet has her pajamas on.

I'll let you know the news when there's more!

Saturday, December 25, 2010


Christmas is such a great way to end the year.  I love it.  I always have.  And having kids just makes it that much better. 

Our tree this year turned out interesting.  But getting it was most of the story and involved a forest with not very many evergreens, four feet of snow, a family of six and a tree that needed to be under 12 feet tall and over 200 feet off the trail.  We'll just say we got lucky to find one before our kids lost their minds and their ability to walk in the snow. 

Grace saved it with her snow flakes.

Getting a picture of the kids in front of the tree is also an adventure.  This one has potential.

Blurry boosts the odds that they are all looking at the camera and smiling. Or you just keep shooting until you capture a moment ot two.

Or you remove the difficult/hungry child(ren).

And then put the boy in, because he's feeling cooperative.

Or you enlist daddy to threaten the kid who is being difficult.  Of course his threatening makes her giggle.

Or, you give them Pillow Pets and tell them to smile.

Or, you just take the picture regardless of the sour and difficult one and think to yourself, "In fifteen years I'm going to blackmail you with this picture!"

What Christmas would be complete without feeding the baby the wrapping paper and bows.

My mom made him that quilt.  She's made all her grandkids quilts for their first Christmas.  She uses the same pattern but picks different fabrics.  They are all beautiful and we love them!

Daddy was teasing Calla that we got her a blender.  "But I can't use these yet!" 

Really it was a pink robe.  She loves it.  But she probably would have been excited about the blender, too. 

Here's the little Mister.  He's FOUR months old a few days ago.  And he's wearing 6-9 month pajamas. 

And that's his quilt from grandma.  He's thrilled!

Speaking of thrilled.  These little things have had me giddy for the last three weeks.   

Little music boxes.  Three of them.  They make me so happy.  Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, The Itsy Bitsy Spider, and Zip A Dee-Doo-Da.  For the last five hours at least one of them has been playing at any given moment.  They are beautiful and I think the girls love them as much as I do.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

I know I gave birth to this child

Honestly, sometimes I wonder if this child is really mine.  There are several thing about this photo that I neither do myself nor taught her to do. 

First, I don't make my bed.  Unless I wash the sheets or someone is coming over.

Second, I don't fold and pile my clothes and set signs for the day I'm wearing them.  Shoot, I'm lucky if I have the clothes even folded.

I must have some serious recessive genes hiding in there somewhere! 

The husband thinks we should enlist her to pay the bills.  She'd probaby be really good at it!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

They don't know if we don't tell them!

This morning I had a great visit with the local la Leche League leader.  We were talking about doctors and how they often times tell us things that go against our instinct.  I just smile and nod and go home and do what I want. 

But last week I was also talking to a friend with a newborn (Kimber! Wave at everyone!)  Her little guy has jaundice, which isn't uncommon, and the pediatrician's office is telling her she HAS to feed her baby a certain amount of formula.  She won't.  And during one of the visits she actually said to the nurse something like, "But don't you think that feeding him some formula will cause problems with our nursing relationship?"

And the nurse said, "I hadn't thought of that."  Sadly, her response didn't surprise me.

I told my la Leche League leader friend about the nurse's response.  Her comment was the whole reason for this post.  Basically, she pointed out that if we go home after we smile and nod and do what we want to do and it works and we don't tell the doctor, how can they know that we didn't do what they told us to do?  And how can they know that what we did do worked??  

They don't know if we don't tell them. Yes, they are highly educated.  But they also are highly educated in many very general areas.  Modern medicine is amazing.  But there are some areas that I question. And the nature of the field is such that individual doctors live in a bit of a bubble.

So, smile and nod.  And then tell them!  Tell them what you did.  Tell them why.  Tell them that it worked.  They don't know if we don't tell them.  It's what I will be doing from now on. 

And if nothing else fails, get a new doctor.  Because you certainly aren't obligated to sit and listen to someone you don't agree with tell you what you should do (and get paid for it) and make you feel bad for not doing it.

Monday, December 13, 2010

We don't want to go outside!

On Saturday the kids needed to go outside.  At least according to their mother. 

There was wailing and gnashing of teeth. 



They didn't have ANY fun at all. 

Not for the whole hour and a half they were out there.

Not one tiny bit of fun.

This is Grace standing in the snow fort they are working on.  It's a work in progress.

Every time we get more snow, daddy gets to shovel more onto the walls.  So far it's pretty impressive.

But it certainly isn't any fun.

Because they don't like going outside. 

Monday, December 6, 2010

Silly kid

Today at lunch in a rare moment, Violet forget she was the teething, crabby two-year-old we've lived with for the last several weeks.

She announced, "I'm Silly Violet."

And then she gave me a goofy little shy smile.  Later, she had another moment, and I just happened to have the camera.

She is Silly Violet.  She even made me giggle with this one. 

And then my teething, crabby two-year old returned. 

But, those two moments gave me hope that my Silly Violet will be back soon.  I miss her very much.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Sammy Bag Story

Before telling you this story I want to apologize. This version is greatly abbreviated. The full version is of novel length and has the plot line to go with it.

About six years ago I had a sister fall into my life--Mansura. She came to the United States on a student Visa from Tajikistan and ended up with my family. While attending school at the University of Montana she met and married a wonderful man from Peru (part of that novel would be that he had a dish in his lab and was growing bacteria with her name on it). They now live in the Washington DC area with their two kids-- probably the only Tajik/Peruvian kids on the planet --ages 5 and 2. Her husband recently became a US Citizen and Mansura now has her green card.

According to the US Department of State, “Tajikistan remains the poorest of the former Soviet republics in Central Asia.” It also refers to the country as “nominally constitutional.” From Mansura’s description and from watching Mansura adapt to life here in the United States, I imagine it to be a harsh and unforgiving country.

Last year Mansura’s mother called her to tell her that her sister (back in Tajikistan) had died. At first they thought her sister's husband had killed her, but now they think it might have been her sister's heart. Her sister did have some heart issues, but the circumstances remain questionable. Her sister is buried in her mother’s back yard and Mansura is heart-broken that she lost her only full-blooded sister.

There are two children—age four and six—who were suddenly without a mother. Mansura eventually got the blessing of their father and Mansura and her husband have spent the last year and the every available bit of money trying to adopt them.

Over Mother's Day weekend this year they found out that all the paperwork had gone through and they were officially Mansura's. Her husband couldn't adopt them because he's not Tajik and only Tajik citizens can adopt Tajik children.

The plan is that Mansura's mother, who has been taking care of the children for over a year now, meet Mansura and her husband somewhere in Europe as soon as they can get it arranged and get the money to pay for it. This could happen as early as March, 2011.

The Sammy Bag project is my way of helping them from afar. Named after their oldest son, 100% of the materials for these bags has been donated and 100% of the time has been donated. So 100% of your purchase goes to help Mansura and her husband pay the legal fees, paperwork fees and airfare to bring these children to the United States.

Mansura with her son Sammy and her newborn daughter Angelina.

These are the Sammy Bags I have for sale currently:

If you'd like one they are $25--except the orang and brown applique one which is $45.  I'll ship any of them anywhere in the US for an additional $5.  mrs_ donnelly at hotmail dot com.