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Friday, May 28, 2010

A new kitchen and a new teenager...oh my!

Our kitchen renovation is almost complete and it looks incredible! We still need the new flooring and as well as the new energy efficient window we've ordered. We've finally gotten rid of the blue and white tile backsplash that we never liked and will soon have a snazzy copper backsplash. The tired old cabinets have been refaced in natural cherry and more cabinets have been added; we have a new double sink and a gorgeous new Silestone countertop to replace our scarred and cracked formica one. The oven has been moved to the other side of the kitchen which means that I can now actually open the oven door fully for the first time in 11 years. The trash basket now hides discreetly in a base cabinet, much to our trash-stealing greyhound's chagrin. It was worth the couple of weeks of chaos, microwaved meals, and washing dishes in the bathroom sink. The before, during, and after pics say it all:

In spite of all this mess, we still managed to celebrate Tanya's 13th birthday in style. Dad grilled steak tips and Mom had to buy a cake (our gas oven is still disconnected) but our newest teenager didn't seem to mind. We've been blessed to celebrate 7 birthdays with this sweet girl since she joined our family...she's come a long way from the shy little girl we met in 2003 to the sassy softball starlet she is today. (OK, so I'm a proud mama...she scored a triple in her last game and is now her team's back-up pitcher.)

Here she is on her 7th birthday...but can you recognize her now in this photo of her softball team, the Sea Dogs? I'll give you a hint...in the back row, in the center, big grin...and as she would say, peace out.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Adventure pics...as promised

We took our first big driving vacation as a family of seven last month...8 hours in our van to Philadelphia and the kids were great all the way. We spent two days seeing historic sites like the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. We also took a tour by horse and buggy and bought Philly cheese steaks from a street vendor for lunch...the kids now have a new favorite food.

Next, we headed to Pennsylvania Dutch country. We rented a beautifully renovated Amish farmhouse in Bird-In-Hand, PA, seven bedrooms, 3 baths, and a kitchen to die for. The kids loved the many staircases and "secret" passageways and the big yard.

We enjoyed being surrounded by Amish and Mennonite folk as our neighbors, shopping at farm stands and buying homemade root beer. We took a ride in an Amish buggy and our tour guide told us about the history and culture of Amish and Mennonite people; it was especially interesting since he was Mennonite himself.

We also took some day trips. Dad got to be a train engineer at the Pennsylvania Railroad Museum; the girls and Aniyar and I visited an Amish Village; we went to Gettysburg; Madiyar got to spend the night at his friend Borya's house after we met Borya's mom Anne and her brood for dinner at Miller's Smorgasboard. We spent the last afternoon of our vacation hanging out at Anne and Fred's house which was a huge treat. There were fish to catch, horses to pet, dogs to play with, and kids everywhere so it was a lot of fun.

It's amazing when I think about our visit with Fred and Anne. Counting our 5 kids and Anne and Fred's 6...well, that's 11 kids...and 7 of them are from Kazakhstan. It was a fun reunion and the perfect way to complete our April vacation adventure. Thanks, guys, for sharing your "Funny Farm" with us!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Newsflash! Risley-Schoelles family survives alien abduction, returns to Earth after month-long absence.

Well, this is as good an excuse as any for my lack of blog posts recently. Stay tuned, dear readers...we've been having adventures of all shapes and sizes and I promise I'll post pics and stories soon. In the meantime, here are a few highlights:

We went on a wonderful vacation in April to Pennsylvania...and I'm thinking about becoming Amish...love the idea of a horse and buggy, wouldn't miss the videogames and TV, like the idea of a much less "wordly" life that includes lots of chores for the youngins. The kids are very afraid...

Mother's Day was fabuloso...I have 5 great kids who made it very special...and a saint of a husband who made sure I got breakfast in bed without injury, fire, or bloodshed among our cherubs.

Oooooh, the house is a mess...at present, I have no sink or working oven and power tools in my kitchen...my dishes and cooking utensils now live in the office or the basement...and I'm fine with it! Since it appears moving is out of the question, we're fixing up what we have here. My new and improved kitchen is in progress...it's going to be much more functional with extra cabinets and countertop...not to mention gorgeous.

We filed our income taxes yesterday...no, we weren't late. Massachusetts residents who were in flood-damaged counties got an extra month to file federal and state returns. Yesterday was the last day...OK, I was a bit slow in getting around to Uncle Sam this year...can you say procrastination? At least it's done and we're getting a refund. All's well that ends well, right?

More soon, I promise!