summer 2011

summer 2011

Paul and I, all 16 kids and Ashley, Benjamin's wife...Christmas 2012

Paul and I, all 16 kids and Ashley, Benjamin's wife...Christmas 2012

Monday, September 29, 2014

beautiful lovely sunny monday....

Miss Charlotte Claire trying out the new hammock.

Today started with a visit from my daughter Mali. She works nights as a nurse in the same hospital as Mirielle, and stopped in after work this morning. She had 8 patients last night and no aides to help. I am so stinkin' proud of her! She worked SO hard to get through school, and is still working hard. She is such a lovely girl.

I was tired this morning because I never learn. I stayed up with Mirielle, who had the night off from work...we had popcorn and solved the world's problems. I crawled into bed around two, and since Paul is in France and the princesses are sharing my big comfy bed, I was kicked by Camille all night. She just walks right up me in her sleep. At seven when I heard the school bus beep, I felt bad because I didn't get up with the three school kids.....

When the school nurse called to ask where Sonja was, I said she wasn't feeling well, which was probably true, although I hadn't been up, so therefore did not really know....I mean, I can't very well say that I have no idea, I was fast asleep when the bus came, so hey, your guess is as good as mine. One time this backfired on me though. Several years ago, the nurse called to ask where Joseph was, and yeah, I said he wasn't feeling well...she called back like five minutes later and said, "Um, we have Joseph here at school, his bus just came in late and his name wasn't on the attendance sheet." Yeah, that's a true story.

Anyway. We had a slow start, this sunny monday morning.

The kids finally got their school work done...and we put the hammock up. Char and I had walked around the yard scouting out a place for it. We broke some small branches off the lilac bush, we picked a few pears, we stepped in the soft moss with our bare feet, and checked out the garden. Then we realized the best spot for the hammock was right there on the swingset, where two swings are supposed to go....

Aaron came to visit this afternoon. We sat at the table and ate some salads with chicken, then sat out on the deck with some coffee.

He had to head home to get ready for work, and we had to go to....

Dunkin Donuts for National Coffee Day! Free medium sized dark roast hot coffee...and you could get them with pumpkin swirl! Since I am such a good mom, I let Char, Cam, and Jonathan get one too. They didn't finish them, but believe me, when we got home a few of their older sisters helped out. I let them pick out a donut too:) Sugar, caffeine...yum.

Anyway, we went to the library. I got a few Anne Tyler books I didn't know existed. I loved, "Saint Maybe". The kids got stacks and stacks of books, and couldn't wait to get home. They aren't allowed, generally, to watch any televison or movies during the school days, but they can climb into my bed or cuddle on the couch with as many books as they want:)

These nice autumn days though, I like to get them outside as much as possible.

Paul finally got his luggage. He went to France, his luggage went to Zurich. After three days in the same clothes, he got it, so no new French clothes for him.

Okay, so I was planning to go visit Samuel this weekend. He has finished his training for Old Guard, now he is with Echo Company, and will train with them. He had a graduation today:) Anyway, he was very excited about us coming this weekend. Then Paul realized I was planning it for when he was in France, and asked me to wait so he could go too. Um, okay. Sam was bummed, then Emily and Abigail said I couldn't do that, I had to go anyway. So...I guess I am going, with Abigail and Kathryn and Suzanne and Sonja and Jonathan. We can only bring six so there is room in the minivan for Sam to leave the Army base with us. In a few weeks though, Mirielle is bringing Margaret and Evelyn and whoever else....

Ah well, life is not boring, that's for sure. Suri rolled in something yuck today, and had to have a bath. She was shampooed and conditioned, and smells like Pantene. That dirtied four towels, because she shakes all the way to the door, even though I try to escort her with a towel over her.

Have I mentioned what an excellent weekend I had? We went to a church conference. Emily was in charge of the dinner, which was in honor of a dear friend's 70th birthday. 600 people were expected, although it seemed that a few less than that actually came. We still had to make dinner for 600 though. Chicken with gravy, baked potatoes, rolls...a few others made the salad (oh it was good, with romaine and spinach and fresh apple slices, craisins, shredded carrots, a raspberry vinaigrette dressing). It was done in smallish kitchen, and it was a juggling act, considering we were also making and serving a lunch for our grill, and making 600 cheesecake shooters with caramel/butterscotch and sea salt, and mixed berry compote. What a day! But I can honestly say, it was one of the best days ever! Emily and Abigail and Mirielle and Evelyn and Sonja were helping in the kitchen, plus lots of my nieces and other friends. It was too much fun, and the dinner was a success! It was on time, and nothing burned, and it tasted delicious.

The feast itself was so encouraging and amazing too. We are nothing of ourselves, but it is God who works in us, who gives the grace, who cleanses us from our sin when we acknowledge it and are willing to suffer.

Thursday, September 25, 2014


Evelyn and I went on our date!!!! Okay, I felt bad that Grandma couldn't go and enjoy her birthday present from her daughter, but...Evelyn and I went, and oh my goodness it was good.

We drove downtown and found a parking garage, then walked around looking for a place to eat. We decided on a place that just happened to have Happy Hour specials, so we had these almost die for. The buns were toasted, they had fresh spinach and tomato slices, and came with just we needed, mountains of fries. We had ice water to drink, and um, the bill came to only $12.96. We ate outside in the lovely evening weather, and did I say the burgers were delicious? Neither of us could even begin to finish them.

While we ate, Aaron, Kathryn, Suzanne, and Sonja came by to visit us. Aaron lives downtown, and was taking some of his sisters on an outing. They had gone for ice cream:) Evelyn was texting him, and they realized they were only a few blocks away. Anyway, they talked for a bit, then went on their way while we ate our dinner. The ladies from the table down a bit from us were a bit yakky and a bit nosey, so one of them asked Evelyn and I if we were sisters or mother and daughter. We looked at each other and started laughing, because Evelyn is 15 and I am 49. Anyway, when they found out that Aaron, Kap, Suze, and Sonja were my kids too, they couldn't believe it. They insisted I was too young to have all those kids. Again, Ev and I just looked at each other. Then Evelyn said, "I have 15 siblings, actually." They were stunned. One said, "You haven't given birth all those times, have you?!" Anyway, it was an interesting conversation. They apologized for interrogating me, I said I didn't mind at all, and one of them gave me her card in case I ever get a speeding ticket, because she is a lawyer:)

So...we walked toward the theater, and took a little pit-stop at Starbucks, for pumpkin spice lattes. the show! The director was outside introducing himself and shaking hands, and we felt important. The place is absolutely gorgeous, it's showy chandeliers and raised wood paneling remind one of the Titanic. Our seats were right down near the front, and let me tell you, it was a good show! It was Disney's "Beauty And The Beast". Gaston was hilarious and despicable, Belle was lovely and sang her little heart out, it was funny and sweet and it swept us away. It was so full of energy, the belting out of those musical numbers. There was pure talent there on that stage! We totally and absolutely loved it, and joined heartily in the standing ovation.

And, since it is almost one in the morning, I should be getting to bed:) Sometimes it's hard to sleep when you've had such a lovely evening. (Evelyn is a blessing, she is so funny and appreciative and was a totally good companion to go downtown with.)

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

all things pumpkin....

Now, I am not getting paid to say this yogurt from Aldi is very yummy, but I should be. It IS very good. It is a nice snack, and goes well with a piece or two of dark chocolate, or perhaps a handful of chocolate chips, not that I would know that, but I am guessing.

After my walk this morning, I puttered around my silent kitchen, made a pot of pumpkin spice coffee, and a double batch of paleo pumpkin muffins. The muffins are still in the oven, but the yogurt was good:), and I smell those muffins baking! I am not saying they are so healthy you should eat a whole batch of them, but for healthier muffins, they certainly taste good. I made them the other day and the kids just ate them all up, although I did make some frosting for them. Here is the recipe if anyone is interested:

1 15 ounce can of pumpkin. Again, I am not getting paid to say this, but Aldi's brand is 89 cents a can. I bought ten cans.
8 eggs
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted with
1/4 cup butter (you can probably use all of either one though)
1/2 cup palm sugar (perhaps honey or maple syrup would be good too)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Mix it all together, and add this mixture:

a scant cup coconut flour (a bit more than 3/4, less than a whole)
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon cinnamon

I bake the tiny ones at 350 for 15 minutes, and the larger ones for 22 minutes.

And yeah, I know that the sprinkles aren't paleo, but...they make they extra yummy. And more appealing to the kids.

They certainly aren't as good as the muffins you make by taking a box of cake mix and stirring in nothing but a can of pumpkin, but they are a lot better for me.

Oh, if I could bottle up the aroma of this moment, the just-out-of-the-oven smell of pumpkin spice.

I also put dinner in the crockpot, some chicken breasts that I froze with marinade and spices, and a package of boneless chicken thighs. I feel accomplished.

And, if anyone is wondering why my kitchen was silent this morning, it's because my oldest daughter Emily is so nice! She took Miss Char and Miss Cam to her house for a sleepover last night! She lives in a big old house with lots of rooms, and my girls simply love to play there. Em isn't one to just let kids sit in front of a screen, either, so they will have lots of fun there. The most fun for them was the getting ready part. They packed their little suitcases, chose some dolls to bring, and then settled in for the Asking Mom Every Five Minutes When Emily Is Coming part.

Jonathan is here, and the other girls. Jon hasn't started his work yet, he is playing with kitten. The dogs haven't killed the kitten yet, so Jon takes that as a sign they probably won't. They like it, Suri loves it, but Duke has had a few questionable moments when the brave little kitten has pounced right on Duke's face. So I try to do kitten therapy with the dogs as often as I think of it, taking kitten and putting it in their faces and petting them and telling them they are good dogs.

I am so thankful that I am able to stay home. I love being able to just make it nice for the family. I like having the time to sit and have coffee with Evelyn, and to trim Sonja's hair. I like that I have time do do the laundry and wash the bedding and read stories and go on adventures. I like that I am available if one of the older ones stops in, or wants to go somewhere. I just like being a stay at home mom. I really always thought that when all of my kids were in school, I would go to school too, that I would be a nurse or maybe even a teacher. I would earn money, making things a little easier financially. (and having MY OWN money would be nice.) But. Somewhere along the line I started thinking about how much time it would take to study, to take classes, and how much my kids still need me. Even teenagers need their mama, as much as they clearly enjoy themselves on those day I am not home when they get home from school, they plant themselves in front of the t.v. with snacks:), then groan when I pull in with groceries to put away. Anyway. I am very thankful I can be home, and spend as much time as I do with my kids.

Jonathan is making himself some eggs for breakfast, to go with the muffins. He pays taxes, he has a library card, AND he can cook.

In a little while, I am going to visit my mother-in-law, who has been sick. She is starting to feel better, but still isn't up for the theater tonight. Evelyn Joy is beyond excited to go. I asked her when she got home from school yesterday, and she was like, "Really? Really?! What do I wear?!" I am taking her a little early, for some dinner some where. It's nice because my other girls agree that Evelyn will enjoy it most, and they aren't too jealous.

Paul is leaving for France again this Saturday, for two weeks. Two weeks is a long time to have him gone. I'm glad he likes it, but to be honest, I am a tiny bit jealous that he lives such an exciting life, and that he is happy about going. (Not about leaving us, but about the destination.) He likes what he does, and the people he works with. Which is nice, but yeah, I am a little bit jelly, as my kids would say.

But I can't complain. I am taking a little trip to visit Samuel next weekend down in Washington D.C. I miss that boy, and can't wait to just spend some time with him. I don't really care what museums we visit, although I am sure I will enjoy them. I just want to see Sammers. He is such good friends with his sisters, and they are SO excited to go...Margaret, Kathryn, and Suzanne, maybe Sonja. Evelyn is staying here with Joseph, to watch the little girls. She doesn't mind, she probably has a stack of books. I am not sure if Aaron is going with me or not, I would like him to. He is a good navigator, and doesn't mind driving in traffic.

Ah well, time to get moving again.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

and we packed up and went to the mall....

See, we were sitting there at the kitchen table, doing school work. The three younger ones had helped me make paleo pumpkin muffins, which were EXCELLENT! Even picky Camille liked them. Of course it helped that I made them some frosting for their muffins:) Anyway, we were doing work, and the kids were getting loud and silly. Camille had to write a Haiku, so that spurred me to write them about the kids, which led to more silliness. At 12:15, I said, "What do you guys want to do today?" The older girls said, "Mall!", so we went to the mall. They shrieked with laughter and happiness that I said yes, and to get ready right now, they could barely believe we were really actually going.

It was a chilly rainy day, and perfect for the mall, if there is such a thing. I don't really like malls, everything is too expensive. But we cruised the clearance racks, and I found the little girls a few tops for next summer for 80 cents each, and some nice capri shorts for $3.20. Kathryn and Suzanne found a few things in Charlotte Russe, then a few more things in Rue 21, They went into the comic book store while Cam and I hit Dunkin Donuts, a coffee for me and a red-frosted apple shaped donut for her...
She is still so sweet:)

Jonathan found a Star Wars game he has been looking for in the comic book store, so he came to ask me if he could buy it. I took him back in the store, and when he took out his wallet to pay for it, his library card fell out. Then when he saw the total and had to break his twenty dollar bill because of tax, he had a thing or two to say. I told him he is an official grown up now, paying tax and having a library card.

We went to the dreaded food court, but Taco Bell is reasonable enough, a ten pack of tacos for nine something.

Then...the grocery store. Jonathan still loves pushing carts, but when I heard him tell Char he would push her in a car-car cart, I vetoed it, telling him that we should save those for the really little kids and not hog one for an 8 year old. Char wanted to walk anyway, but Camille climbed into a regular cart, and Jon pushed her around the store. I felt a little Walmart-y, which means loud and brash and when the mom yells shamelessly at her kids:) I didn't yell at my kids, but a few times I was tempted. They get pretty silly.

The school supplies were 75% off, and for some reason there were pillows there, for $1.87. I bought four for the little girls, who said they want to make a couch in their room with milk crates and pillows. Cam was all snuggly in her cart with four pillows. We also bought a new cooler for $6.84, and a notebook, a nice water bottle, and a few other school supplies.

Bananas and eggs and chicken and yogurt, bread, carrots and milk, pretzels, gum, some frozen veggies, and we were done....ah, home.

It is quiet now, the kids are doing work, not crazy and silly like yesterday, although I have to keep warning Miss Char. She likes to yak, and she can get the other kids going quite easily. Camille is more of a worker, she actually likes writing stories and doing math problems.

We are having a church grill this weekend, so I have lots of stuff to go shop for. Drinks and candy and hot dogs and salad fixings...I don't really mind, but it takes so much time.

Here's an exciting thing though: I am going to the theater tomorrow night! I am torn about it though, it is hard to be glad about it because my mother-in-law was the one who was supposed to go. Paul's sister was going to take her, as a birthday gift, but couldn't make it, and now Eleanor is sick and cannot go. She asked me if I want to take the tickets and go, and of course I would love to. I think I will take my 15 year old, Evelyn. It is not super easy to choose one child to take, but I have tried to raise these guys to know that life isn't always fair, and they all don't get the same things at the same time. It would be ridiculously difficult to have something for everyone each and every time I picked up something for someone. Evelyn is my reader, she enjoys life immensely, and I think she will really appreciate the show, "Beauty And The Beast". It is a bit sad to enjoy something that was not meant for me, but...I will guiltily enjoy it anyway.

I have only gone to the theater twice, for plays. One thing that is just purely magical is how engrossing it truly is. The first play I saw, I could not believe when the curtain closed for intermission. I was so swept up in the story, I forgot where I was!

Ah well, life is interesting.

Monday, September 22, 2014

rainy monday morning

Morning walk in the crisp rainy air...

No excuses, right? A little rain never hurt anyone. When I get up and the kids are still sleeping, it is very tempting to just curl up with a book...or clean without interruptions...but my morning walk is more than just a walk. It is like the determining factor of whether my day will have more good choices than bad ones. It's like I start the day by checking a very good thing off my to-do list, and we all know that's big for me. Because I don't really even have a to-do list.

So it's still dark and drizzly out there, but here I am, with my walk under my belt, oh the smugness!

The princesses are up, and shh, they are watching, "Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood", an episode about Daniel becoming a big brother...he is pretending to be a baby so his friend can pretend to take care of him, the girls are totally transfixed. We have to get moving and start school soon, but...this is so quiet and relaxing...

Whatever I felt awful with yesterday is gone. Perhaps I fought it off, I don't know. By afternoon, I decided I felt well enough to peel some butternut squash. Then I peeled whole pile of apples (with Evelyn), because we were having barbecued pulled pork. We sliced them up, and I microwaved them with a little palm sugar and some cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice. They were so good, almost like apple pie without the guilt.

After dinner, I washed some dishes and wiped down counters and put away leftovers. So much for a Day Off:)

Aww, this show is so cute, I want another baby! My girls are grinning from ear to ear, watching Daniel try to fit into his old crib, then decide to give it to their new baby. Oh, and now his mama is showing him the baby clothes that he used to wear...

Oh, the good days and years we have had here, having all the newborn babies that we have been blessed with. It was such the ritual to wash all the baby clothes to get ready for each one. I may be a procrastinator in many aspects, but I was ready for those newborns for weeks before they were due. With each new baby, the piles of clothes grew, and of course I had to buy new stuff for each one, too. One cannot take a new baby out and about with an old faded receiving blanket! And the car seat has to have a new cover for each one, too....or better yet a new car seat...and of course a few new strollers or prams.

There is a time and season for everything under the sun, and I suppose my baby season is over. I would still take another one though, so if anyone has one they don't want...:)

It has been an interesting weekend for me. Okay, I love my husband, I really do. But sometimes it seems like we are on such different wavelengths. The other day, he made this comment, a comment that really broke my heart. I had to go to the bathroom to cry. I couldn't help it. Well, then other thoughts started to come, and I was pretty certain that he just doesn't really like me. And from there, more thoughts came...and I had to put a stop to it. No, not gonna think bad thoughts about my husband. Not gonna do it. I pulled myself together, and dried my tears. The kids asked me if I was okay, and yes, Mom is fine. Mom sort of has to be fine, right? Anyway. When I talked to Paul about it, he didn't even remember. Anyway...we ARE different. We don't always agree on everything. But that doesn't mean we fight about it. He is a good man, an honest and hard working and faithful man. I love him, and I respect him. What I am trying to say is that on my part, I need to learn to Let It Go. Forgive and forget. The true testing of our faith is when we feel the most misunderstood and alone. Then we need to be assured that God knows just what we need and there are no mistakes. We need to bow down in our spirits, and let God work in us. We can choose at those moments, choose to be hardened in our hearts, letting bitterness in to grow and take root, or we can choose to let it go. To love. To love in return, instead of trying to get back at someone.

When I was mulling over all these things, I was aware that I could choose how I wanted to go in my heart. Then I had this thought, "How can I possibly preach the gospel to my children and encourage them to choose the good if I myself choose to be offended and bitter?"

So I am thankful. I am thankful that God is near, and God is real, and there is a pathway for my feet, and that I can keep my heart pure. It isn't only in the big huge trials that we gain our heavenly treasures, there are countless little testings along the way.

And now, it's time to start school.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

lazy sunday sick....

It has been a lovely day, despite how awful I feel. I am taking a day off, officially. I got up, swept the floors, washed a few dishes, put dinner in the the little girls dressed and brushed and fed for church, said goodbye to Paul and the kids, and crawled onto the couch. I slept off and on for a few hours, feeling feverish and blah, although the fever is debatable since of course both of our thermometers are hiding somewhere.

I don't feel horrible, but when I get up and do things, I just feel blah. My stomach hurt horribly last evening, and when I eat or drink, it feels yuck. I did finally have a cup of coffee that was delicious, but it left my stomach hurting again. So I don't know what I have, probably what the princesses had last week. When I finally stopped fighting it and trying to function as usual, I actually felt relief...who doesn't like to just take a day off?

Samuel, my Army son based in Washington D.C./Virginia (in the Old Guard) called a few hours ago. He is doing well, and misses us like crazy. He wants company. So, I think I am going to do the crazy thing and go visit him the weekend after next. I do not like driving in cities, I do not like traffic. But, he is based in one of the biggest metro areas of the country. Looking at the maps and trying to figure out what hotel to stay in is deceiving, too, it looks simple just to drive five or ten miles to his base...but I know it is very congested.

Anyway, I am figuring things out, and will likely make a reservation that has free cancellation, just in case we can't swing it, but I am rather excited. He wants to go to some of the museums in the capitol, and Washington D.C. in the autumn sounds lovely. Paul will be in France, so I will be the driver, and I have no navigational skills. I am feeling panicky just thinking about it, but I miss Sam enough to brave it:)

Abigail has the little girls today, and Jonathan has a friend over. Evelyn is sitting next to me, she said my writing, "sucks". It probably does. I feel blah.

We have had a nice rainy day though, the kind one likes to hunker down and enjoy. I can't complain.

Friday, September 19, 2014

yummy friday!!! and, no shock!

Yesterday afternoon, I made two pear pies.

Jonathan and I went for a nice long afternoon walk, then decided to pick some pears from the tree in the front yard.

We had been out shopping.....

We went to the dollar store, BigLots (we bought baby food there, and ate some in the car. I love apricots/applesauce mix, the kids had apples/bananas. We had to buy a package of spoons, too, but it was worth it because I have a project in mind for the empty jars....). We bought a few fun things for 90% off: these cute flowers to put on the girls' bedroom walls, and solar flowers with gemstones that light up really amazingly...the kids learned that 90% of $12 makes the item a dollar twenty.)(Buying a few trinkets to make a room look cool and promising them for when the room gets clean is an excellent motivation to get the room clean!) We went to BJ's for milk and chicken and shampoo and conditioner and some girly things, which Jonathan explained to his little sisters. Oh, if I could have videoed it! He is SO funny, all seriously telling his little sisters that they were going to get their periods when they got older. I just let him go, it IS a natural part of life, after all. And he does have NINE older sisters. Anyway, we went to the grocery store last, for frozen veggies and eggs and canned veggies and pasta and sauce and coffee and...some bulk candy. I let them choose a few pieces, and weigh and punch the numbers in themselves.

Home to put it all away and clean up and start dinner...I made a few cookie sheets full of meatballs, put them in the oven, and out the door for my walk which I had skipped in the morning because of the rain. Jon came with me, and let me tell you, he does not like air in the conversation. We talked about math and how scary the woods are and how many different animals there have been on my walks (snapping turtle, baby skunk, injured chipmunk, a fox, several deer, a few buck, that horrid turkey buzzard/vulture that swooped at me as if I would actually steal his roadkill....and of course the snakes and frogs and all sorts of bugs, butterflies, and then the array of different flowers.....

We got home and picked the pears, and made the pies. Oh, that sounds easy. Just picked pears and made pies. In the middle of it all, kids coming and going and flour everywhere and peeling all those pears...making dinner at the same time, sauce for the meatballs, and a pan of pasta which Paul ended up making when he came in at 7:00....I eat my meatballs and sauce with French cut canned green beans, it is just as good as spaghetti, ha.

Anyway. That was yesterday. Aaron was here in the evening for dinner and pie. We sat around and solved the worlds' problems...

This morning, I had to get up at 5:30. Now, when I know I have to get up early, I wake up a few times to check my phone to make sure I haven't overslept. blah. 3:05 and I was thinking about how to make miniature doll prams, of writing a letter to my son Benjamin and pleading with him not to stay in Washington state because I miss my grand daughter so much it hurts and I cannot even comprehend not being a part of her life...then I started in thinking about all the kids, and praying for them, and on and on....I finally checked the time: 5:01! I had to get up in half an hour. So, I promptly fell asleep. Isn't that the way it goes?

Anyway, Paul and I got in the truck while it was still dark and headed down the highway as the sun came up, in the morning fog. He seemed calm for someone who was going in to get his heart shocked back into sinus rhythm. I tactfully didn't make myself any toast to eat on the way, since he couldn't have anything to eat or drink. I did sip my travel mug of coffee though:). Anyway, he was all hooked up to the monitor, and what do you know? He was in perfect rhythm! The new medicine works! No more A-Fib!

So, after a chat with the cardiologist, and a quick EKG, we were on our way home!

He left for work though...wah.

And, since he doesn't want to be on those medicines for life, we will be going back to the doctor in a few months to discuss him having another catheter ablation done on his heart.

But for today, all is well. The sun is shining, the kids are done with their work, and we are going apple picking! Paul is coming home to go with us, so I had better get up and be ready....