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Saturday, July 30, 2011

A new Chapter of summer

Grateful Uncle Ty will be here while we are away and helping to get the basement ready for playing again. Boys get their football pads before we take off this morning. The kids want to pack Uncle Ty instead of having him here:) The end of a chapter of the summer, here the kids are all at Urban Tennis, daily Tennis for the last 5 weeks. We missed the first week for Vacation Bible School.
Otis and Corniea kids at Tennis on the last day

Friday, July 29, 2011

Getting Ready for the trip!

Well today I was all set to go run some last min errands and ....we are blocked in with TAR TRUCKS! Talk about being able to roll with it. I looked out keys in hand and Mickey looked at me and said "Might be time for a Hail Mary huh?" I couldn't help but laugh they know me well. So we are doing everything we can to get things set here and I will use Sheff's truck, he will park at the church at the end of our street, to run out for last minute things tonight.

The Otis Kids in front of the trucks paving our street

The kids helped make their own canvas bags for the trip. We purchased the bags for $2.50 each and then used cloth paint markets. They loved the activity and will all get a new book and some special prizes in their bag for the trip.

John 9

Annie 9

Nate 7

James 11

Mickey 8

Daisy 4

Mark 5

Each child has their own travel book to fill with facts, pictures and postcards to make their forever book!

Lucy eating solids, a big new step for our sweet girl.


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Our own "Johnny" Cash, John-Luke

Our own Johnny Cash, John-Luke loves guitar
and listening to Country and Gospel Music
John-Luke 3 years old Christmas

Daddy with John 3, Annie 3& Mickey 2














John-Luke has really come into himself in the last year. He started taking guitar lessons, has taken off in baseball and is the most polite boy you will meet. He loves greating people by name, giving hugs and being helpful.

A great John story was when we were at Sears for family photos and he heard a family speaking spanish near by. He turned to them and said brightly "Buenos Dias! Como Estas?"I turned stunned and said "John when did you learn spanish?" He shrugged and said "Well we hear it all the time I have just never had a chance to use it!" He loves to ask people how they are, what their workday was like and how he can be of help.
John learns to play ball 5 years old

At the Children's meseum John 6 with mom

John is so excited to be selected for Fall baseball this year and is the guy Sheff goes to to trade stats and talk sports. James and Mickey play a mean game but John is the one who has the head for the numbers and facts about sports.

James and John chopping wood


John wants to be a Priest who plays baseball. We are blessed to have a Priest in our life, Father Peter, who we know plays a mean game of basketball.  We are so lucky to have relationships with Priests where our kids look up to them and admire the faithful life they have chosen to lead....including sports & music!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Many Hands Make Light Work




8 of the 12 kids here got up most of the linoluem

Annie & John
Tom C. ,Mickey & Nate
Many hands make light work! Feeling the push today to organize all the winter gear and bins that had to come up stairs with the flooding in the basement. There is a huge pile in the guest room and I can feel it sitting there calling me to get organized! After inspecting the floor I realized why Sheff thought it was funny I was happy to see under the carpet, it was not tile but linoleum:) SO on the super hot day this week when we had four playmates over I had the kids help pull up the linoleum. The water dissolved most of the glue so it pulled up easily and the kids did most of the floor.  Then Sheff bagged the tile and is sanding the floor so we can paint it. The project (along with my new laundry room) will be a work in progress but it was wonderful to have so many kids really helping!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Basement Mess

After a fun weekend away we came home to a flooded basement, as our neighbor commented YUCK! My first response was despair, how were we going to clean this up when I needed to do laundry, get kids to Tennis the next day and battle this crazy heat? Sheff was so calm.
Daisy in front of a sea of water and towels

Deirdre & Sheff engaged, 11 years ago!
It reminded me of when we were first engaged and had a weekend up North when my tire blew out. We were on our way back to the cities after a fun weekend of winter camping, a first for me at the time. We were in my little silver Volkswagen Bug trying to do an icy hill when I got stuck and my tire burst. Sheff was calm and got out to check what had happened. I was flibberty gibbet, worried and cold. He got a sleeping bag and wrapped me up to watch him work. He figured out a lever system from a branch and got the car jacked up somehow. Then he found the spare and changed the tire. He got a bunch of dry pine needles and made a trail under the new tire. We then drove up over the hill with SHEFF doing the drive home:)

So, this is another mess he is tackling calmly, this time with lots of helpers. First we had kids bring down every towel in the house to soak up water while Dad drove to get the wet vac from a job sight. All the seven kids who can do so brought down towels and covered the floor. Then today after Tennis the kids set the oven timer and took 30 minute shifts to wet vac the carpet. They worked so hard! James, John, Annie, Mickey and Nate did 2 half hour shifts and I dumped four huge tubs of water. Then tonight Sheff is cutting and ripping up all the carpet. I told the kids how blessed they are to have example of a hardworking Dad, and how I expect them all to jump in and help each other as adults. Amazing to have so many to help each other out over time as they grow up.

A fun bonus we found full tile under the carpet and pad, so weight lifting, rip-sticking and trikes will have a home from now on! There is still a huge amount of work to do but we are on it!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Annie Girl

Annie 3 years old
I decided each of the kids should have a blog page, and if we go in age order Annie is the slightly older 9 year old in our family:) When Annie came home from Russia she was a baby girl underdog. She needed open heart surgery, corrective ear surgery and had not yet walked by 14 months. Watching her grow, heal and explore the world has been a joy.

In this last year Annie has really come into herself. We have a buddy system in our family, a very cool system that allows for leadership and effective time management with a big group. Annie's buddy is baby Lucy. Her devotion to her baby sister is beautiful. This also translated into spending more time with mom in the last six months, asking questions about being a parent, nursing and other choices I have made along the way.
Mom, Annie 5 & baby Daisy 2m Summer  2007

For her 9th birthday Annie was able to go horseback riding for the first time and her instructor said she is truly a natural. Her Dad and I find it fascinating that the region from Russia where she was adopted raised horses and reindeer (yes really) as a main stay in the economy. Maybe she has it in her blood, what a cool gift! We look forward (with immense help and support from my mother, GrandmaBoo) to supporting this love of riding.

Opening gifts, 3years old
Helping set up our garage sale, 9years old
At times it can be hard to hear Annie, we are working on her using a "big" voice before she gets too frustrated. She loves to go read and actually has her own bedroom with a bookcase FULL of books. Soon Daisy and Lucy will be joining her but for now her room is books and horse magazines. I look forward to watching Annie grow into herself!
Annie 7

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Our "finder"

James is our "finder" he also loves finding fish:)
















We always seem to be loosing things, one shoe, a notebook, a beloved plastic ring, a green shoelace that brings good luck and of course Daddy's keys and phone.

In our family James seems to be designated as the guy who finds everything. He must have a bit of a visual memory, maybe this goes hand in hand with an affinity towards math?

He also always notices things when we are out an about, the only one to actually find money on the ground (even if it is right in front of our noses:) and notices if we drop something. This skill comes in handy in a big busy family.

Yesterday we were in a frantic scramble to find one of Daisy's ballet slippers for those of you who know Daisy, you know the slipper is a wee bit bigger than a doll shoe so the mission to find it was feeling dire at 5pm when she had to be in class at 5:15. Sure enough James sized up the room and it took him 30 seconds to find it. And no he had not hidden it, I had pulled him out of the garage where he was filming his brothers rip sticking endeavors, so he wanted to find it quickly. The rare times he can't find something he turns back to tried and true...praying to Saint Anthony. We have a wooden kneeler in our home and I love to see the children pop on it for a quick check in, saying a Hail Mary to calm down, praying to Saint Christopher before a trip to the park:), and often taking time to themselves in a spot they know I will protect from siblings . This week I asked James if he minded sharing what he was praying about he told me he was praying to Saint Anthony after miss placing his ball glove. He did subsequently find it...in his brothers ball bag.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Birthday cake wishes

Little Deirdre & Mother, Nor circa 1982
We went to Lake Johanna beach today and I realized how much FUN our kids are. Summer is such a sweet time because we are all together and get to share the mishaps, adventures and daily tribulations that turn into family lore. On the way walking home from our car( major construction, built in daily walks to get home) James slid on some dirt and it was like the watermelon fumble in Dirty Dancing, he was up, he was down, sideways and he saved the bag! We were all in stitches and I realized how grateful I am that our budget does not allow for a nanny.

Having to work together is not always easy. This morning I got to tennis without coffee and one of the eight in tears over hidden shoes, but we recovered. They made up an elements game that someone is fire, water, earth and so on, like a combination of Avatar and rock paper scissors. They made sure to include Lucy who had mamas milk powers. Overhearing the development of the game is a piece of my day, a piece of summer memories. Seeing these kids explore the world as a unit is fascinating.

As an only child each of my birthday cakes I wished for a sibling, really truly I did, sometimes prayers are answered on a time table other than our own. These busy summer days, making up games, watermellon dances, beach time and baby Lucy's toes touching the water for the first time make me feel as each birthday cake of childhood held the promise of my future family.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Happy 4th of July!




We had a wonderful weekend visiting our friends the Corniea's cabin on lake Rainy, North of Brainard MN. It was hands down the sunniest, warmest weekend in 2011. What a blast!!!
The guys, Conor Corniea,  Steve & Mike,  Sheff Otis
Mickey & Annie swim off the dock
John 9, Mr Muscle
The slack line! John's birthday gift from Grandma Boo,
Daddy gives it a go over the water.







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Saturday, July 2, 2011

Looking forward to Cabin time this weekend. We have had a great first 3 weeks of summer. Lucy is entertaining the gang with her rolling explorations. Rolling from one to another and laughing at their antics.
Lucy Claire 4m

Sheff is busy trimming trees, cutting grass and doing other outside projects. If the activity makes him sweat he usually likes it. The bigger the tree to cut for firewood, the longer the ditch to dig for the patio, the happier he is. A good workout is when he can't see from sweating. I totally get the joy, I just find I have to be more moderate throughout my day in order to meet everyone's needs. If I go for a run I am zapped and not able to do the other 10 things I have to. Sheff seems to get recharged from intense work or exercise. Its  good to know your own temperament to be healthy and balanced!
Daisy helping Daddy in the yard

Wishing everyone a healthy and safe 4th of July!!!