There are quite a few hobbies that begin with the letter "R" that Sophia and Olivia have explored through their childhood and teen years: radio; reading; rescuing abused, unwanted, or abandoned animals; robotics; rock climbing; rock collecting; and rockets.
Paige's career is in radio, so a significant part of our lives have revolved around radio, radio promotions, concerts, and meeting performers.
Sophia started going to concerts shortly after she was adopted. Below, she's attending her first Basilica Block Party at 1 1/2 years old.
Another highlight for the girls has been getting to meet people they hear on the radio - like Selena Gomez.
February 20, 2010
They have visited radio stations.
February 21, 2010
Gone on business trips with Paige in the country and to Canada.
October 20, 2012
Sophia cut a commercial for St. Jude at KSON in San Diego.
May 2, 2013
She and Olivia also met a DJ at KSON.
May 2, 2013
One year, Sophia was able to meet Matt Nathanson.
They attended a radio convention and awards ceremony and met Dave Ferguson who does voiceovers.
April 4, 2014
Paige took Sophia to Jingball - an annual concert sponsored by KDWB.
December 8, 2014 - Jingleball
The girls have attended many concerts at Basilica Block Parties throughout the years.
July 10, 2014
They have gone on vacations and visited radio stations.
October 20, 2016
Another favorite hobby of ours is reading. Going to the library and checking out armfuls of books was something that we did from the time that the girls were toddlers.
When they were older, they enjoyed reading. Below, Sophia is reading Ferdinand - one of my dad's favorite books when he was growing up. He liked hearing the story read to him by his granddaughter.
Whenever we were in the car, the girls would be reading. They would bring plenty of books on trips - such as the one we were taking up north to Grand Marais in June 2011.
When we were using the Sonlight curriculum, a huge box of books and resources would arrive each July. The girls were so excited to see the books that they would be using during the upcoming homeschool year. Below, Olivia began reading one of the books as soon as they were laid out on the floor.
The girls would read to the dogs. Montague, below, is enjoying listening to a story.
December 3, 2012
Gretel was listening to a story that Sophia was reading to her.
December 3, 2012
Because we value reading and literacy, we partnered with the African Library Project to create a community library in Lesotho, Africa, in 2012 in memory of my dad who passed away on January 5, 2012.
December 4, 2012
On Olivia's 10th birthday, I was reading some books to her before she went to bed. She wanted one of her favorite books (My Lucky Day) when she was younger read to her.
The girls have done a tremendous amount of reading. One of their favorite spots to read is in their beds.
April 16, 2013
Sometimes they get so engrossed in reading that it ends up being well after their bedtime.
April 16, 2013
There have been times when Sophia has stayed up into the early hours of the morning reading a book she doesn't want to put down.
Rescuing Abused, Unwanted, or Abandoned Animals
Although Paige and I adopted Sydne (the Golden Retriever) and Boo (a cat) in the early 1990s, both were not abused or abandoned. Casey was a puppy we adopted from a humane society in the mid-1990s.
January 1, 2008
Then, when we moved to the hobby farm in 1995, rescuing abused, unwanted, or abandoned animals started. This was well before the girls were born. We started with the adoption of two sheep (abuse/neglect situation) and a horse (unwanted).
We added chickens (which were not rescued - we raised them from chicks) and turkeys (given to us by neighbors who no longer wanted them). We saw the flock of sheep and chickens grow from a couple to 23 and over 40 respectively.
We took someone's fish and aquarium since they no longer wanted to take care of them.
At that point, we had quite a few outdoor animals and livestock and only three indoor animals - two dogs and a cat; and the fish.
One day, in the middle of a frigidly-cold winter, a cat wandered onto our property - its ears partially missing because of the cold temperatures. We named her Windchill.
Sydne, by this time, was elderly and in failing health. She passed away before Sophia was adopted in November 2001. Within a few months, at an animal rescue event we adopted Montague. He was about 1 1/2 years old. He and Casey got along very well.
December 2, 2007
As a baby/toddler, Sophia wanted to play with Boo. Boo didn't want to play. So one day - as I was driving home - there was a box at the end of the driveway that said "Free Kittens." There were three kittens that a farmer was going to kill if no one took them. He didn't want them.
I took all three and brought them home. We named them Eenie, Meenie, and Miney. Below is a picture of Meenie on the nativity set.
December 2, 2007
We now had five cats....plus the two dogs and fish. Our home was full.
We adopted Olivia in November 2003, and when we came back home the dynamics between Boo and Windchill had changed. We gave Windchill to Paige's mom and stepfather. They treated her so well and she had a wonderful, long life with them.
The following summer, we needed to make the difficult decision of re-homing the sheep, chickens, and turkey. The horse (which was elderly) had to be euthanized since she was having trouble standing. So, in 2004, we were back to having only indoor pets.
While Sophia was at Vacation Bible School when she was about 4 1/2 years old, two tiny kittens wandered onto our farm. She named them Maggie and Lucy (after two girls in her VBS class). We searched for the mother, but had no luck. We fed the kittens milk and soft food (they weren't old enough to eat hard food yet). Eventually, we brought them indoors where they would be safer than fending for themselves outdoors. Below, Maggie is sitting by a rose from our garden.
May 20, 2013
Not long after that, another cat - Shadow - wandered onto our farm. He eventually moved into our home during an exceptionally cold winter (-20 degree temperatures for a week).
October 31, 2011
By this time, due to the deaths of some of the cats (old age), we now had five cats.
June 14, 2011
In March 2008, we adopted Gretel from Northwoods Humane Society after Casey died. Below is Gretel on her adoption day outside of Northwoods.
We adopted a miniature horse and Pony of the Americas through the Minnesota Hooved Animal Rescue Foundation. Shortly after we adopted them, the MHARF had a horse show. They arranged transportation so we could participate in it. The girls enjoyed the costume division where the horses and they could dress up.
September 19, 2009
By this time, things were settling into a routine with the animals, and the indoor animals were a large, happy pack.
The horses had transitioned from being in small areas with limited grass (due to being on dry lots in neglect situations) to two pastures where they could gallop, play, explore, and eat.
May 9, 2010
The horses would follow us around when we did nature studies.
April 30, 2011
In October 2011, my dad went to a nursing home because he was in the late stages of Alzheimer's Disease. Sophia wanted to bring Eenie to the nursing home since my dad enjoyed petting Eenie whenever he visited the farm. It went so well - my dad loved seeing Eenie and Eenie did very well at the nursing home.
October 20, 2011 - Eenie
That was the beginning of cat therapy. Sophia created a cat therapy program at Christian Community Home in 2012, and Eenie would visit the seniors. Below is Betty - one of the seniors who loved cats, petting Eenie, and visiting with the girls.
November 22, 2013
Some of the dogs we've had have been great farm dogs, and have enjoyed being helpers. Gretel - just like Sydne, Casey, and Montague - was a good helper. Below she is watching Olivia as she fills a birdfeeder in the backyard.
The cats developed close relationships with one another. One day, Montague and Gretel went to get groomed. When they came back, Lucy (the cat) rubbed his face all over Montague. He was so happy Montague came back home.
July 27, 2012
When Gretel died unexpectedly at a young age from a heart attack (the vet believes), we went back to Northwoods Humane Society to find another dog. Cooper was a slightly older dog (though under a year old) who the director felt would be a good match for our family.
One of the things we enjoy doing with the dogs is taking them on walks. The road below is one that we go on frequently.
March 28, 2013
We have not added any more livestock since 2009. It's just the horses now which is fine.
April 23, 2013
When Montague died, we went back to Northwoods to visit a litter of puppies that were rescued from a high-kill shelter in Texas. The puppies - who were only six weeks old at the time - were very tiny and had been put in the Texas shelter before they were properly weaned from their mother.
We spent time with all the puppies and chose Aspen. We adopted her in May 2014.
May 12, 2014
She and Cooper get along well.
July 3, 2014
During one of Sophia's harp-playing sessions at Northwoods, we spent time with a bonded pair of dogs - Scooby and Danny. Both came from a house where there was domestic violence. The police had brought the dogs to Northwoods. Although the pair wasn't supposed to be separated, about a week after we were there we found out Scooby had been adopted and Danny left behind.
Five days later, Scooby was returned when the family found out their son was allergic to dogs. We knew that we needed to go in and adopt Scooby and Danny so they could stay together. At 10 and 5 1/2 years old respectively, they had been though enough in their lives.
So, on January 20, 2017, we brought the dogs home for a "trial period" to see how they got along with Cooper and Aspen. At first it didn't go so well, but eventually it did.
January 20. 2017
Five days later, we were back at Northwoods filling out the paperwork to adopt both dogs.
January 25, 2017
On July 23, 2016, there was a robotics demonstration at the County Fair that we watched.
There was a task that the robot was supposed to do.
The youth programmed the robot and - if the robot did the task - they were happy. The girls watched the demonstration, but didn't express interest in doing anything more with robots. Sometimes just introducing potential hobbies to the girls is enough.
A hobby that has been a fun part of the girls' childhood is rock climbing. They would climb the huge boulders in Grand Marais whenever we made the trip up north.
June 16, 2006
Olivia would search out any rocks or rock walls to climb.
July 18, 2008
When the girls were older, they did some rock climbing at Interstate State Park in Taylors Falls. Bellow, Sophia is rock climbing.
June 23, 2012
June 23, 2012
At every opportunity, the girls would climb rocks. Here they are at another section of Interstate State Park.
December 1, 2012
The views were magnificent.
December 1, 2012
We made another trip up north in 2013.
June 6, 2013
A year later, we went to Tettegouche State Park and Olivia did another form of rock climbing. In this type of climbing, she was lowered down the cliff over Lake Superior. The goal was to climb back up to the top of the cliff.
July 12, 2014
There were sheer rocks which made climbing up the cliff very challenging.
July 12, 2014
The view from the cliffs was amazing - the clear water (where we could see huge boulders under the surface of the water), rock formations, vegetation along the cliffs, and beautiful beaches as far as we could see.
The girls started early in their lives with rock collecting. On June 16, 2006, when the girls were 5 and 3 years old, the visited Cut Face Creek in Grand Marais, Minnesota.
Olivia dug her hands in the rocks and would look at which ones she wanted to keep.
Sophia enjoyed scooping up the rocks also on the beach.
Eventually she took her shoes and socks off, and went barefoot on the rocks. Little pebbles clung to her feet.
Near home, Olivia would look for rocks and put them in her cone-shaped purse. If you notice...she picked heavy winter boots to wear with her light summer dress.
June 1, 2008
In September 2008, we visited another beach along Lake Superior. The girls brought their buckets to collect rocks.
September 3, 2008
When Sophia and Olivia were 12 and 10 years old respectively, we went to Banning State Park. Sophia sat down in one section of the park and looked at the rocks.
June 3, 2013
We also visited Cut Face Creek again. It's a great beach for looking at the rocks - all of which are so smooth from the water and waves.
June 6, 2013
By the time they were done, the buckets would be filled with rocks - large and small.
June 6, 2013
Of all the photos I looked through, the only one I could find of rockets was one of Paige lighting a model rocket along the road. He looks like his face is right over it, but it's actually to the side.
July 24, 2016
I don't think we had any luck with that rocket. For that matter, none of the model rocks have been that successful. They usually go up and then crash back down somewhere that we can't find.