Friday, November 27, 2015


Thank you, wonderful readers, for putting up with all my horn tooting this last week while I bragged about my awesome family. I didn’t really plan that, but the first few posts came organically and I realized I had the right amount of days remaining before thanksgiving, so I went with it. It feels really good to focus on gratitude, and I want to keep it up. So here’s another horn tooting post, (and no, I’m not going to promise this is the last one!), this time on what it’s like to belong to a gaggle like this one.

Clearly, not everything is awesome about it. 
Obviously, you have to bare the whole matchy-matchy embarrassment when you're little.
 But it's been awhile since we've had to deal with that. ;)

The pros!
You have enough members for your own volley ball,,,


...and snowboarding teams.

There's always someone around to go for a ride,
...or a walk,

...or read aloud with.

You bring the party with you wherever you go.

Brothers and friends that try hair-brained ideas for you to laugh at...

 ...And sensible sisters for you to laugh with.

A team to push if you get the van stuck in a snowdrift (no! of course that's never happened to me... okay maybe once ;)).

But most importantly, you have somebody to take a great selfie with! ;) <3

 If you're waiting for some profound statement on why big families are awesome, I don't have one. 

I'm simply expressing gratitude.

...Even though it's no longer Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thankful for Mom and Dad

It’s raining today. And I’m thankful. 

Twenty nine years and seven months ago, it also rained. 

It was the fourth of July and the firework show in Eagle River Wi was cancelled. The tourists, to include a shaggy haired hick from Chicago and a cute blue eyed girl from Milwaukee, headed for the nearby corner bar. Trying to escape the stuffiness of the crowded room, our two aforementioned tourists met by the door. 

Three weeks later they were engaged, and four months later eloped, twenty nine years ago today.

They become closer friends every day, sharing in work, play and relaxation and setting a fantasful (yes, I’m inventing a word!) example of marriage goals for the rest of us. :o)

As we gather around our homegrown feast today, the nine young people that their love has added to this world are thankful for them... (and for that rainy fourth of July ;)).


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Johnny: A Flaming Ball of Wild Energy

Despite all of our efforts to shape it, Johnny’s humor remains uniquely his own. Neither good nor bad, it's just guaranteed to be random and hit you out of left field with a kind of, “huh? why am I laughing right now?” moment.

I recently went on a trip to town with Johnny and Dad. We had to take out benches to pick up some large items and I ended up stuck in the back of the van with him for the ride home. …I think my ears are still on the floor somewhere under the backseat.

 For all his gabbing, he remains really unique in his opinions and thoughts. I swear, the inner workings of his brain must operate like no other human being alive...
 (Well that didn't work...)

I can't believe he's almost as tall as me already! (almost, Johnny, I said almost. And no, I'm not measuring you again...)

He has a presence that can shine like the sun, or clap like thunder. Working with him a few minutes can either drive you insane or make your week. It’s a strong energy, his is, and as he grows up, I can really see the effort he’s made to rein it in and shape it.

And I’m proud. :)


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Me, Myself and ...My sister

So, I like myself...
I used to struggle with that, but in recent years I’ve really gotten over it, so I was like, hey, I’ll do a blog post on the awesomeness of me! yay!
I like how passionate I can get over the stupidest things. When I get ‘into’ something, I always fall in fast and deep.
Conversely, I also like my ability to multi task. I can usually juggle three or four vastly different projects/endeavors in a day.
I like how excited I still get about the holidays. The youngest kids and I always get the Christmas spirit so bad. I’m always trying to incorporate new family traditions. The problem with this is that Donna is old enough now to remember last years and hold me to them. It’s getting overwhelming: “When are we going to make Christmas ornaments? Aren’t you going to decorate the apple tree for the animals? When are we going to make the cards?”
I guess that’s where the ability to multi task comes in handy. ;)

When I paused to consider the areas I’d like to improve, I realized Annie had all those traits I am missing, so then I thought, you know, we’re sister’s, we’ll always be sisters—maybe I’ll just continue sharing those qualities with her and make it easier for myself. ;) (And since we share everything else, mine as well share a blog posts with her as well!)

Seriously though, Annie’s got so much discipline. Somehow her routines always stick without being overly dogmatic about it.
She always overly optimistic, even when we were fishtailing about to go off the road last year, she was in the passenger seat going, “it’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay!”
If there’s a short cut to be had, Annie won’t take it. If the guitar solo could be better with an extra riff, she’ll practice it all afternoon until she gets it.
We compliment each other so well, that when I find myself out and about without her, I’m lost (literally, since she normally does the directions).

I love how she's always seeking adventure. New places, new people. Yet she doesn't seem to get bored with the same sights around here either. 
This place, where a river enters Lake Superior, became one of Annie's favorite hang out places this summer, especially after we discovered an eagles nest in the top of the pine tree! (look close).

She's Donna's favorite sister, not for the least of which reasons are the recent string of books Annie's read to her.
 (Remember this picture from the Donna book?)

The best is when we’re playing music. We communicate so easily with little glances and grins, the rest of the band can’t keep up with our telepathy. ;)

I guess what I’m saying is, two is—in this case—better than one.


Monday, November 23, 2015

Lizzy: There's Nothing She Can't Do

This post is so effortless, I’m half convinced that I could lift my fingers and it would type itself.

I walked past the computer today and thought Liz was looking at somebody else's art… 
Nope, it was hers.

Then she goes out to the studio and drafts (what could be) a hit song.

Then she goes out and rides her horse.

 Joins us for band practice, does her farm chores, plays some cards, and finally finishes the day by typing her story late into the night.

In the last few years, this middle-child introvert blossomed from the shy little girl who danced in the pasture to the most creatively talented child you’ll ever meet. I’m convinced there’s nothing she can’t do.

Actually, there is something she can’t do. She can’t be taught. 
 But that’s okay because she has the discipline to teach herself. Piano, guitar, art, baking, writing, horsemanship, photography, whatever it is, she’ll figure it out. On her own. ;)

If only puberty worked this kind of sorcery on every teenager. ;)


Sunday, November 22, 2015

Mike: He Cleans ;)

Look at what my crazy brothers were up to this afternoon...

Andrew got off the snowboard (a cheap one because we wouldn't risk damaging a good one in this wee bit of snow) and said "that board was terrifying". 

So, naturally, Mike hops on next. *eye roll*

And no, I didn't take a turn.  
Too busy freezing fingers off snapping pictures. :)

 So, Mike bottle feeds/raises the calves...
And I think our full grown, sweet, long eyelash-ed, gentle milk cows are completely attributable to his rearing as babes. Yes, even the long eyelashes.

Nobody criticizes as well as Mike. Whether it's band practice and he's telling Lizzy her piano timing is off, or explaining to Johnny that he needs to toughen up, somehow it never sounds as mean coming from him. 
 Sometimes I even listen to him.   ;)

But hands down, the best thing about Mike is that he's a neat freak. Whether it's the barnyard or the back hall or just his room, he'll randomly undertake a big cleaning project and make our lives all that much better for it.

 Hear that girls? Biceps and cleans.

(I'm sorry Mike--don't hate me)