Ella is proving to be one strong-willed little girl. She insists on being in the middle of everything. No watching from the sidelines for this girl! She also gets around quite well, not only mastering walking and running, but getting skillful at climbing as well. Here she is getting into mischief.


And here she is after being told "no!"

Ella sad

On a warm day in mid-March we decided to have some fun by a nearby lake. The lake still had a thin layer of ice on it.

The frozen lake

The boys brought their inline skates along. I thought I'd try to get some nice pictures of Alex, to use as a graduation photo. He had other plans, however.

alex making a face

Caleb proved much more photogenic.


We had to do a group shot, much to the kids' dismay.

the kids

The kids started throwing rocks out on the ice, trying to break it. Alex threw out a large boulder, and when it didn't break the ice, he went out after it, with his inline skates, mind you!

Alex on the ice

So here it is, his official senior picture! Definitely 100% pure Alex.

Alex on the ice again

I kept taking pictures, thinking it would be really funny if he fell in, (which I also kept stating out loud) but he never did.

Alex getting his rock

Time and again he picked up his large rock and smashed it down, but it never broke all the way through.

Alex throwing the rock

I did manage to capture the elusive teenage smile.

Alex also tried out an exercise tread-wheel while wearing his inline skates, too.

Alex on the wheel

The girls were thrilled that I allowed them to copy Alex this time. Here's Anna having a go.

Anna on the wheel

And Nora gives it a try:

Nora on the wheel

And Rosa last, showing patience that all true princesses have:

Back at home, school was winding down. Here's Nora with Luigi. I do believe he's gained a bit of weight. We say he's well loved.

Nora with Luigi

The warm weather continued on into April. Ella loves balls and wants to be outside whenever she can to perfect her throwing:

Ella throwing a ball


Ella kneeling with a ball

and kicking skills.

Ella kicking a ball

Nora had her hair cut by a friend. She loves it!

Nora's haircut

Ella's insistence on doing everything herself includes feeding herself. This can get quite messy.

Messy Ella

Ella again

Messy Ella

Ella again

We joke she does this on purpose because she loves baths.

another shot of Ella

For our anniversary this year we spent the day at the Minnesota Zoo. The penguin exhibit was new to us. It was neat watching the penguins diving and splash around.


We all thought the wolverine looked silly and not at all like the fierce creature it is supposed to be.

a wolverine sunbathing

Nora loved all the big cats. She thought this Puma looked adorable.

a big cat

The flamingos were another of the girls' favorites.

Corbin had crash-landed into the van while running on the boys' paper route the day before and injured his ankle. Not knowing the full extent of his injuries, we rented him a wheelchair for the day. Here's most of the gang waiting for the bird show to open.

some of the kids

At the bird show they asked for a volunteer, and Nora was picked. She got to have a parrot land on her hand numerous times. The show's trainer couldn't believe how steady Nora held. If he only knew how many birds we had at home!

Nora with the bird

Here's Rosa and Anna hamming it up outside the tiger exhibit.

Rosa and Anna acting scared

The big grizzly bears were watching us as much as we watched them.

a bear

Nora also wanted to bring this little kitty home:

a leopard

A dog was more Corbin's style.

a prairie dog

Alex seems to attract babies, and goats are no exception.

Alex and a baby goat

We all enjoyed seeing all the creatures at the zoo. Even Corbin seemed to have an okay time.

Corbin with a goat

On the way home we stopped at the Mall of America. Most of us hadn't been there in years, and some of the girls had never been there. Nora was happy to see a Hello Kitty store there.

Nora in the store

Caleb found a large stuffed Stitch at the Disney Store and bought it for Anna. She has been in love with Stitch ever sense seeing him at Disney on Ice. Why? Because he's blue, of course.

Anna with her new stitch

The boys really wanted to see the Lego Store. Corbin loved the giant models all around above it.

Corbin with the legos

Here's some of the huge models on the roof of the store:

lego models

Corbin liked the giant robot the best.

the robot

All and all, we had a fun and full day.

Anna sleeping

Here's Ella, making a mess again. Our life was about to get messy, too.

messy Ella

We'd known for several weeks now that Lee was having health issues. After seeing several doctors and a lung specialist we finally had a diagnoses: bird fanciers lung. What a mess.

Messy Ella again

But it gets messier. The only way he was going to improve was to get rid of the birds. ALL of them. Alex's parrot and cocketiels. Caleb's finches, quail, doves, whyduh, and beloved budgies. But that was not all.

messy Ella

The house would have to be scrubbed from top to bottom. Every last bit of feather, every microscopic bit of bird needed to be removed from the air. We found a gentleman in Wisconsin who was willing to take all the budgies. The finches, whyduh, parrot, and doves went to a lady in mid-Minnesota. The cocketiels went to North Dakota. Caleb was a mess. We all were.

messy Ella

I offered Caleb a puppy. Not to replace the birds, but to have something to hold onto. Something to cry into. Something to help with the pain. He said he'd think about it. Ella thought it was a great idea. She liked hanging out in Lizzy's kennel as it was.

Ella in the dog's kennel

In the middle of all this, we got Lee a new van, and sold our old one. We didn't mention to the new owner that Ella was born in the van. So here is the last picture we have of Ella's birthplace.

our old van

At the end of April Caleb and I went to look at some puppies. He slowly picked up each pup, snuggled it, and set it back down. After petting one little girl and moving on, she whimpered until he can back to her. Caleb would pet her again, and then go look at some other puppies. She yipped until he can back. He started playing with her. Then he can up to me holding her, and I knew we had a new member in our family. Meet Birdzie:


She was just the thing Caleb needed.

Birdzie again

Lizzy and the new puppy got along great. Now they are the best of friends. Caleb carried his new puppy everywhere. It got to the point where we would jokingly ask if she came with legs.

Caleb finished the school year by barely passing. Birdzie helped him get back into the groove of school after taking so much time off to deal with finding the birds new homes. She never left his side.

Birdzie under an office chair

Slowly Caleb started smiling again. Instead of a bird on his shoulder, he had a puppy.

Caleb with Birdzie Birdzie

About the only time they were apart was when he went on his paper route.

Caleb with his puppy

The first day of our two day assembly of Jehovah's Witnesses we decided to shut the two dogs in Lizzy's area with plenty of pee pads. We all had a good laugh upon coming home. Birdzie had shredded all the pee pads.

a mess

Lizzy seemed to say I didn't do it! Don't look at me!

the 2 dogs

One afternoon we were startled by a bang at the living room window. A poor little finch had hit it, and was stunned on our porch. Caleb knew just what to do, and in no time the little guy flew of into my garden.

the bird

Anna's preschool was winding down for the year. They had a crazy hair and dress day. Here's Anna ready to go:


At the end of May Anna graduated from preschool. Here she is onstage.

Anna graduating

They put on a cute little program for the parents. For the Five Little Ducks song, Anna was a duck.

They also sang Tutti-ta, a silly song that involves sticking out your elbows, knock your knees, stick out your tongue, and stick out your bum. Here's Anna, in perfect form.

Anna dancing

Thus concludes one of the hardest springs ever. Anna sums it up nicely.

Anna looking silly

Sometimes all you can do is grin and bear it.

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