August 21, 2010

Veggie Abundance

Never let it be said that the Leones are slackers in the vegetable-growing department.

Joe, aka Farmer Leone, harvested over 300 pounds of potatoes with the help of Andrew and William. He was no slouch in our recent green pepper, cabbage, and onion harvest either.

Filling the root cellar for winter, Joe is keeping our grocery bill down and good food in our bellies.

Love you, Farmer-Man!


While the learning curve is still high for Marguerite's hair (which I beaded somewhat unsuccessfully today), Anna Marie is great at Therese's hair. Check Therese, sporting Anna Marie's most recent hair-do.

Leaving the Babies Alone is a Hard Rule to Follow

Our kids DO know that if they find baby birds, they are supposed to look and refrain from touching, in order to protect the babies.

On this particular day, the kids apparently found that rule a little hard to follow. They even snatched the camera to document their weakness. ;)

My witnesses tell me that the kids were extremely gentle and put the baby birds back in the bird house where their nest was located. And, I'm happy to report, the mother bird came back and tended to her babies, despite the human interaction.

All's well that ends well. And those are some really cute babies!

More Cub Scout Camp Photos

Willy Does Cub Scout Camp

William and Joe spent two whole days together at Cub Scout Camp this summer, doing "manly things" like shooting guns and scaling climbing walls.

Do I need to mention that Willy was pretty much in nine-year-old-boy heaven?

Sorting Us Out

Yesterday, the kids and I were out galavanting (aka: getting our errands done).

At a store with all six kids, I noticed a woman carefully checking us out. She was sizing up the kids, clearly counting, and trying, I guess, to make sense of our brood (which, by the way, is not really that big a brood by our Catholic homeschooling co-op's standards).  ;)

Finally, she pointed to Andrew and Therese with a big I-figured-it-out sort of smile and said to me,
"I'm guessing these are the two who are yours."
Apparently, I was babysitting the others.

Her stunned reaction when I told her they were all mine: Priceless.



From Georgia to Wisconsin

Yesterday, I made the final post on our adoption blog. I always intended for it to serve as a baby book for Marguerite, depicting the process that brought her to us and the milestones that took place on her road to becoming a Leone. From Georgia to Wisconsin has served to chronicle the journey and provide a story of Marguerite's adoption, celebrate the wonderful gift that we received when Marguerite was placed with us, and recount the great joy that we felt upon the finalization of her adoption.

With finalization behind us, it's now time to print the blog in hardcover book format. The printed blog is our gift to sweet Marguerite. 

As I type this, Marguerite is eight months old and is standing unassisted. She has taken one step on her own, and she is "cruising" all over the place. She is bound to be an early walker! Marguerite has just popped her first tooth, and she eats solid finger-foods like there is no tomorrow. She entertains us and fills our lives with joy. I can't wait to see all the adventures life with Marguerite brings in the coming years.

We love you, dear daughter, Marguerite!

Elizabeth & Marguerite

Julie Dahlen, our adoption social worker, with Marguerite.

Marguerite lookin' cool.

The Leone Family

Marguerite Jane Leone

On the morning of July 30th, Marguerite Jane's adoption was finalized. I can't tell you how blissfully happy we are.

The court date made legal what has been in our hearts for seven-and-a-half months:  Marguerite Jane is a Leone!

Marguerite is an integral part of our family, our beloved daughter, our adorable sister, and person without whom life would be terribly incomplete. The court date just made all of that official.

Following the finalization in downtown Madison, we walked across the Capitol Square to enjoy a celebratory breakfast open house with bagels and fruit at Joe's firm. Marguerite was a little put off by all the unfamiliar faces oohing and ahhing over her. But she held her own in the presence of all those lawyers and finally fell asleep in my arms toward the end of the party.

Later in the evening, we topped off our adoption celebration with a delicious dinner at a nearby Thai restaurant where we created something of a spectacle. Marguerite enjoyed gumming scallops and pad thai (and littering the floor with rice), while Joe and I busied ourselves catching water glasses bumped by little elbows. A memorable night, to be sure.

While Marguerite has been our baby daughter for more than seven months, there is nothing like the supreme satisfaction of knowing that no one can ever change that.

We love you, Marguerite Jane Leone! And we are so blessed to have you in our lives.

We were on the very top floor of the courthouse building.
The kids loved the view of the Madison isthmus.

This photo was snapped by the bailiff just moments after
Marguerite's adoption was finalized.
Pictured with us is Judge Fiedler, who gave teddy bears to all the kids.

Marguerite is all smiles after her important court date.

Look at me, Mom and Dad! I'm a Leone!

Getting ready to head across the Square to celebrate with Joe's colleagues.

August 9, 2010

Wind, and Rain, and Funnel Clouds - Oh My!

Shortly after our return from Colorado, we got in on some nasty weather. We had four-and-a-half hours of tornado warnings on this particular evening. Check out some of the funnel clouds forming.
Funnel cloud, viewed from our front porch.
Funnel clouds trying to take shape. Viewed from our front porch.
Dueling funnel clouds just across the road from our house.
We saw the rotation and felt the wind on this one.
Backyard view as things were starting to settle down.
Joe and Marguerite take a quick step out into the yard to see what is happening.
The other kids were busily watching a video from the safety of the root cellar.
As the sun peeks out and the last of the storms pass.
And here's a candid of the kids watching videos in the root cellar during the storms.

Visiting Family in Denver - Part 2

After spending the night with George & Cherryl, heading out for a cursory jog in the altitude, and enjoying a lovely breakfast, we decided it was time to hit the road and head back to good ol' Wisconsin.

Before we left, Cherryl unveiled gifts that she and George had purchased for the kids. Following that, we snapped photos on the front step and then made a beeline for the Land of Cows and Cheese.

The kids open gifts from Aunt Cherryl (pictured) and Uncle George.
The Leones on the Uncle George & Aunt Cherryl's front step in Denver,
just before our departure to Madison.
The Leones, minus Elizabeth, plus George & Cherryl.
The Leones with Aunt Cherryl.
Headed home!

Visiting Family in Denver - Part 1

On the last weekend of our long vacation, we arrived in Denver. We visited with Joe's three brothers and their families and had a fine time.

I'll never forget jogging in Denver, thinking that it would be so much easier than my runs at 8,000' at the dude ranch. Silly me. Denver is still 4000' above sea level. That's a lot of altitude for this flat-lander!

Oh, check out the Leone guys' shirts... They're all wearing blue. If that's not weird enough, they were all wearing khaki pants too. It wasn't planned.

Joe (right) with his brother, John.
Joe (right) with his brother, George.
Joe and Marguerite with Joe's brother, Paul.
Aunt Amy serves up root beer floats.
George, Elizabeth, and John
Elizabeth, Marguerite, and Joe—at George & Cherryl's house in Denver.
Getting ready for bedtime at George and Cherryl's.
It was a much-needed night of good sleep after all that traveling.
I was feeling under the weather, and sleep felt SO good. 

Traveling to Ouray

We traveled from Mesa Verde National Park in the southwest corner of Colorado to the picturesque little town of Ouray, in the middle of Colorado. We drove Highway 550—the Million Dollar Highway. Let me tell you, that was a serious white-knuckler. Here are some photos from along the way.

We stopped at a honey shop north of Durango on 550.
At Monarch Pass.
It was very chilly at this elevation. A couple hours back, at Mesa Verde, I was wearing a sleeveless shirt.
I definitely needed my jacket here.
Monarch Pass.
This photo just doesn't do justice to the magnificence of those mountains.
Kathleen at Monarch Pass.
Anna Marie at Monarch Pass.
Kathleen and Elizabeth at Monarch Pass.
Anna Marie at Monarch Pass.
William and Andrew at Monarch Pass.
We arrived in Ouray—Little Switzerland—nestled in the mountains, at dusk.
The drive was a nail-biter with plenty of hairpin turns, crumbling road edges, and no guard rails.