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

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

home again, from Shenandoah, D. C., and Gettysburg....

Ten of the kids...and me...what a weekend!

Abigail and I with Sonja and Camille...we didn't do the big hike, so we explored a little....

We found a lovely view without hiking...we just drove and parked.

We found a playground...

We found a Target...with a Starbucks in it.

We headed back to the cabin and started dinner, Abigail and I. Chili and cornbread...

Miss Sonja at the cabin.

On Sunday morning, Abigail headed back home with the three high school girls, Evelyn, Suzanne, and Sonja. Mirielle and I headed toward Washington D.C. with Samuel, Kathryn, Jonathan, Charlotte Claire, and Camille. We did some sightseeing before bringing Sam back to the base.

Samuel is the best tour guide.

We visited the Botanical Gardens.

We went to the Cafe Rio with Sam, then came the part that's not my favorite: saying goodbye. It's just so good to spend time with Samuel. He's so good to Jonathan, so good to his sisters.

We drove as far as Gettysburg, and the van was not driving well. After checking into our hotel room, and enjoying the hot tub and pool, I drove with Jonathan to pick up a pizza...and the brakes were metal on metal...not good. So yesterday morning, we called a local repair shop and they so nicely fit us in...(Mike's Kars of Gettysburg, and no, they are not paying me to say how wonderful they were to us). After diagnosing the brake problem, they drove us back into town so we could walk around and explore....

We ate at the Lincoln Diner...Miss Kathryn and Miss Mirielle...

The mechanic shop van picked us up when they finished with wasn't how we wanted to spend the day, walking around the battlefield is not optimal, everything is too far apart...but we made the best of it, and when the van was finished, we headed home...

And now we are getting back into our's chilly and windy and cloudy, real authentic autumn weather...brrr!!!!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

when it rains it pours....

And it's pouring...puppy doesn't like the rain, she whines and wants to go back in instead of doing her business...

It was also raining when the refrigerator guys came. They were super nice, and so careful not to smash into any walls. They had to take the front door right off it's hinges to fit it through, and it was very funny...the one guy kept measuring and saying it all measured right, it SHOULD fit through...the other guy kept saying, "Yeah, but them angles, you can't measure angles." Oh dear, they were nice. I'm not sure the protocol of tipping appliance delivery guys, but it took them a while, and they kept their smiles the whole while, so I just tipped them. There's no way in this world they can possible make enough money at that job to compensate for what they have to do.

This afternoon, Evelyn Joy, Joseph, and I headed toward the airport to pick up Emily's car. She parked it in long-term parking, and flew out to Seattle to visit Benjamin. I was going to just drive her to the airport at four this morning, but asked her to just leave the car there, and I would pick it up later...because ugh. sleep, you know. So anyway....we stopped at her house first and got the keys...Joseph grabbed the wrong keys...the ones for her Suzuki, which is gone and buried, not for the new Subaru. We did not realize this until he dropped us off and drove away. He does not have a phone, so we were left standing there outside of Emily's nice orange car....

(We wondered why the horn didn't honk and the lights didn't flash when Ev pushed the buttons on the keyfob...) wrong keys.

So, we called Abigail, she got the right keys and brought them to us.

We then went to the grocery store to get milk, now that our new refrigerator is nice and cold and the milk won't spoil. We also got ingredients to make yummy meals this weekend...yay, we are picking Samuel up from his base in D.C./Arlington, and going to Shenandoah! Mirielle rented a nice resort condo that sleeps 8, so we can fit just a few more...two little girls on the floor, not too crowded.

We plan to make chili and cornbread on Saturday evening...the place has a nice fireplace, and the weather will be crisp and chilly. Sam is really up for some home cooking, after eating at the "mess hall" (chow hall?).

We are leaving first thing in the morning, leaving Joseph here with the puppies and the kitties.

I hope the rain stops, sharing the road with tractor trailers in the rain is not my favorite.

But you know what IS my favorite? Traveling...driving in the van for hours with lots of the kids...seriously. I love it. I love stopping at different places, seeing new things, and I have never been to the part of Virginia we are going to. I can't wait to see Sam! It's funny because Em is out with Ben and Ashley and little Anya, Paul is in India, and we are going to D.C./Virginia. And Aaron is all the way out in California, I miss him more than a little bit. And Grandma is back in Florida...

The teenage girls are excited for this little trip. They love their brother Sam. To see them together is just such a good thing. was a good day. Puppy sneaked into the little girls' room and pooped, and peed on the laundry room floor...did I mention she doesn't like the rain? She is very perfect, but needs much work on her housetraining. ugh.

And now I have to go pack before the clock strikes midnight...because I'm tired.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

once upon a time...

...there was a old-ish lady...who decided to dress up for the kids' Halloween party. The adults were welcome to dress up...but only a few of them did.

Camille was a gumball machine. She had this idea, she did most of it herself, including painting the little styrofoam balls.

Charlotte Claire was a gymnast...(my picture of her didn't load!)
My two oldest daughters, Emily and Abigail...with little Linnea, my niece's daughter (one of the twins)

Sonja K. with little Lydia Eleanor...

Anyway, this lady left the house in the morning, did errands (shopped for this party!), brought the kids to gymnastics, finished the shopping, came home, finished up costumes and cleaned up the house a bit, left again...picked up twenty pizzas, then went to the party...with 12 of her kids, and one grandchild, plus of course lots of other friends...

Home, ah home...but no time to put the feet up yet! No sir, the new refrigerator is coming in the morning, so the old one had to be cleaned out! There is still stuff in there worth saving, perhaps, but it was bagged up nicely so it can be taken out quickly when the truck pulls into the driveway with the shiny clean new refrigerator, which will never ever get sticky and unorganized.

As she finished the job, lining up bags of things for Jonathan and Miss Char to take to the garbage can, sighing loudly with contentment that it was finished, her chair was calling her's no easy task to clean out a refrigerator with a starving hungry puppy sniffing everything. Puppies are always starving hungry, they will eat anything. A spool of thread, a doll shoe, popsicle sticks, napkins. But stuff from the refrigerator, yippee! Jonathan had to outsmart her and remove a bag of shredded cheese from her happy jaw, she thought it was a fun game!

Anyway...the lady was about to head to her chair, after switching laundry over and tucking tired little girls into bed...when she realized that she hadn't cleaned off the TOP of the refrigerator! So she did what she does best...she left it for tomorrow....

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

perfect weather....and projects...and laundry....

As we left for a meeting last evening, my daughters and I agreed that it was, "perfect weather for selfies...", ha. The sunset hued everything muted pinkish orange, just lovely. Today it's to be in the low 80's. It's so warm out there, yet the smell of autumn, the smell of leaves, the distinctive shadows, scream that it's no longer summer.

Yesterday, oh dang, we ended up going to the library and Target, then a quick grocery store run for kitty chow, half and half, chicken, bananas, and dishwashing liquid. Sometimes I wonder how they survived out on the prairie, with their twice a year trips to town. The things we "need"!

Target...I returned the cover for the couch, and chose a few things for little Miss Anya...I found a nice wedding gift for Margaret, shh, Camille and Char found some very reasonable sneakers, which was great fun. Little girls love footwear, and when they can actually get them, oh, they're happy! They are growing too fast, way too fast, and their feet aren't fitting into all those cute little boots and shoes they already have, wah. I don't like investing in anything too pricey, they way they grow.

We got home, and I decided, after putting chicken in the oven and putting things away, that I would drag the sewing machine out and begin some projects. Well. Sounds easy. But. The sewing machine wasn't cooperating. I took it apart and oiled it, changed the buttons and dials, and finally could sew more than three inches without the thread breaking, then I realized I was sewing the two pieces together wrong, and had to rip it all out. No wonder people throw sewing machines out of windows!

I finally got one pillow cover finished, for two hours of effort. My sewing stuff is scattered all over the kitchen table, and it's staying there until I finish the rest of the pillow covers and the valances. I am hoping the machine is more reasonable this fine morning...I don't have much time to sew today, three kids have dentist appointments, and a few of them "need" things. I am excited to go out and about with them though, they are also growing up fast, and these times with them are special.

We are having a fun Halloween party tomorrow, which I am buying the food and snacks we are dressing up, and Cam has big ideas and needs help. Good thing I have nothing better to do.

The new refrigerator is coming on Thursday, and also Emily is leaving for Seattle on Thursday, has to go to the airport in the middle of the night, and I am nice, so I will be tired on Thursday.

I am sew excited to sew, hope it goes seamlessly, this thread is leaving me in stitches.

Monday, October 17, 2016

rain, rain, don't go away....

Good morning, happy Monday, it's rainy here and so cozy. I have been out with the dogs three times already. Rain or shine, having a puppy means you go outside.

So, we sold our big van, which is wonderful, but we didn't get nearly what we thought we would for it. The good thing is the nice man who bought it, a preacher from Ghana, who needed it for his church, had a mechanic check it from bumper to bumper. It's nice knowing he is fully informed about what it needs, what works, and what doesn't. Two thousand dollars....and guess what? The refrigerator is broken. So...I didn't spend it all, of course, but I did go buy a new refrigerator. Ours has leaked for years, it's gotten to be a habit to change the Refrigerator Towel every couple of days, but it isn't very cold, and Paul can't figure it out, it's ten years old, time for a new one.

I like to take time with a big purchase, check things out, research, go here and there to look. But we need to replace it quickly, so I was determined to just decide yesterday. I really wanted to get one to match the stove, but for the same price I found one that had an ice maker in the door, which was nice, made more room in the freezer. It's a Samsung, a display model, so it was $300 cheaper than it's selling elsewhere. I figure it'll look like that within a week at my house anyway. It's so hard for me to make a decision like that, Paul's in India, he told me just to buy one. I took Evelyn and Sonja and Char and Cam, and the puppy, since they are allowed in Home Depot and Lowe's. She did pee on the floor in Lowe's, but we had stuff to clean it up.

Anyway. It's coming on Thursday. I am very thankful we were able to replace it. I was honestly a bit miffed, at first, that our nice two thousand dollars would be dinged into by spending half of it on a 'fridge, but then I realized how ridiculous it was to be unthankful for that.

The really funny thing is that back a few months ago when we were looking for a new stove, I found that really really marked down refrigerator, and told Paul we should buy it. He wouldn't even glance at it, said, "We are NOT shopping for a refrigerator, we do not need one, we are looking for a stove." Fine, I said, now ours is going to break because we are not buying that one. So when we determined that ours isn't fixable, I told Paul it was my fault, although I do think it's a tiny bit his fault, ha.

Anyway. It's going to be busy around here this week, things going on in the evenings, picking Sonja up from physical therapy, dentist appointments, shopping for the activity club party which is on Wednesday evening, then getting the refrigerator delivered on Thursday.

Friday morning we are leaving for Washington D.C., where we will pick up Samuel and go to Virginia for our little vacation near the Shenandoah park. He called last night to tell me that he has been put on patrol, gate patrol, and his four day pass for next weekend revoked to just a two-day. He now has to work all day on Friday, and again on Monday. He reminded me that with the Army, nothing is ever certain. He has no idea what time he will get out of work on Friday, either. So. We will work around it and figure it out. I know for certain that God DOES know exactly what we need.

Sam is disappointed though, because he misses his siblings so much.

My darling little granddaughter Anya Jade turned three years old! Emily is flying out to Seattle to visit them this week, so I am sending her birthday gift with her. I miss her, and am so glad she is coming here for Margaret's wedding in December. She's coming early, so she can have lots of days to come here and play. I have saved so many toys, and rejoice when the kids come and enjoy them. :)

Today, I am planning on getting the sewing machine out, and starting on the living room valances and pillow covers. I don't dread it nearly as much as I dreaded the painting job. I am so glad that is behind me. I see so much more trim I would like to paint, but ugh, not yet.

So I have a red plaid couch and chair, bought ten years ago. They are fine, but I am tired of the red. I found a chair cover on clearance for twenty bucks, and it fits the chair. I looked online at Target, and the couch covers were on sale, then an extra ten percent off, so I decided to just buy one and cover up that red for once and for all. When it arrived and we so excitedly started to put it on, Kathryn couldn't get the two cushions stuffed into the one piece of it, and I looked again at the packaging...oops. I had ordered a loveseat cover. So I have to take it back. I did order the right size now, and it's coming soon. I looked into covering it myself, and some people can do these things grandly, but I would pull out my hair, and it gives me a headache just thinking about it. The stretchy washable cover is like sixty dollars, and I have been considering it for years now...

Anyway. All the little things in life, the things that bog us down and want to steal all of our thoughts...things that in the end aren't very important...things we have to deal with, but in the midst of them, we can gather so many treasures if we are willing to open our hearts to what God would teach us.

It's so quiet here, but not for long...the kids will be waking up...I have things to do...:)

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

how about now?

It feels like life always consists of getting ready for something. It takes a very conscious effort to just live in the NOW. Right now. This is my life, there are no guarantees of anything beyond this very moment. All these little moments add up to a lifetime, and when I am thankful for everything in each moment, that thankfulness snowballs up to a life lived with no regrets.

I do have regrets though. When I think back of all my years with little ones, I wish I had taken more pictures, hugged them more...of course at the time I did my best, and this particular set of regrets is based on the fact that time slips through our fingers, childhood flees, and I am so stinking sentimental.

Small children do not reign in our house like they once did. Our youngest child is almost nine! They still play with dolls, but have downsized their collection, and now choose to paint their nails or sing karaoke, or take selfies...they do gymnastics and run around and jump on the trampoline, but playing house is getting more rare for them, although they did protest when I wanted to get rid of the Little Tikes shopping cart...they still need it for when they play store.

Anyway, today is here. Today we will do some school, then gymnastics, maybe get pizza with our homeschool reading program certificates. I need more coconut oil and a bag of doggy food. Evelyn and I took a trip to the small city yesterday afternoon, leaving Sonja with instructions to put the roast in the oven with foil wrapped potatoes and sweet potatoes, Kathryn cut up some carrots to put in with it. (I love knowing dinner will be done when I get home).

We bought milk and bread and pears and bananas and chicken and sausage and butter and dog biscuits and puppy chow and popcorn and bagels and cereal and coffee and eggs and papertowels and tissues. The kids really like canned soup for afterschool snack, and for lunch on chilly days, so we got some of that too. We got a five pound bag of mozzarella cheese to make our paleo/keto crackers, the kids love them as much as Paul and I do.

We had to drive our newer van to the shop in town, and pick up the older one. We must own part of that auto repair shop by now.

Oh the little details of life. I find it challenging to change my focus from what I am determined to accomplish, to what's REALLY important. The kids need to be listened to. They need to be hugged and praised and they need to know they're important. Man cannot live on bread alone, and kids need more than food and clothes.

So...this weekend, my mother-in-law heads back to Florida, and yes, I am really hoping to drive down and visit her this winter with at least the homeschooled kids:), Paul leaves for a two week trip to India...yes, India. That is far far away, and unlike his frequent trips to France, I am not jealous. No offense, I'm sure it's magnificent, but I don't have a longing to go there. He is pretty excited though. I am going to a church conference this weekend, just for the ladies! :) :)

We're doing a lot of planning around here...the weekend after next, lots of us are driving down to Washington D.C. to pick up soldier Sam, and take him to Virginia...some of them are going on a hike in the Shenandoah forest, some of us will shop or walk or go to the pool. We are planning a wedding shower for Margaret and Adrian, and then of course there are wedding plans...we tried to book a weekend up in Montreal for just girls, a few of Margaret's friends and 8 of her sisters, but it didn't work out. There are not enough weekends in life.

And I will end with a few things that make me happy:

1. Jonathan helped Camille make jello yesterday. Cam was counting the minutes until the four hours which the box suggested as the setting time, was over. Then she delighted in the jello.

2. When my teenage girls apologize to each other.

3. Texts or phone calls from my far away kids...or my close by older kids.

4. When the older kids stop in for a visit.

5. My library book.

6. Paul.

7. My new living room all freshly painted, even though there are spots that...ugh, never mind.

8. The new valances that I can't wait to make.

9. Sunny...Little Miss Sunshine. And Duke and Suri.

And goodbye for now...

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

and we did it!!!!!

We painted the ceiling AND the walls, plus the hallway, all in one day!

And looky looky at the disaster of a kitchen in the background...but do notice that the child in that picture, Miss Charlotte Claire, is only ten, and was one of the best painters.

This is Irene, friend of the family, besties with Sonja. She was here for the weekend, and so gladly pitched in, working all the live-long day. She never lost her smile, either. (The pizza and wings that were promised when we finished was the dangling carrot, the pot of gold at the end of the painting rainbow...expensive, but has to be figured into the cost of painting here, ha.)

Evelyn and Sonja K.

The finished color last evening, it looks lighter during the day.

So we worked hard yesterday. The prep work is what gets you, putting all the furniture in the middle of the room seems easy peasy, until you actually start in on it. I had recently moved the couches to paint the window trim, so they were all clean underneath, but other things, well, let's just say we found hair ponies and Nerf bullets that have been gone for a long long time. And dust and dog hair. We moved stuff into bedrooms, and the kitchen was a royal dumping grounds, then everything left was covered with plastic and old sheets, the exposed floor with newspaper...and we began by sweeping the ceiling to get the dust off...then sanding the spackle on the walls, wiping down the walls, vacuuming the dust...then, finally, opening the ceiling paint. We used almost all of the three gallons, and it was hard on the neck and shoulders. Two of the girls actually followed through with their plans to go to the mall, because they never heard we were painting today, they said. I tried not to give them too hard a time about it, but I wasn't thrilled about it. Then Mali called and asked us to watch 13 month old Lydia in the afternoon/evening, and oh dear...I love Lydia, of course I do, but um, our house was turned upside down...but I said we would figure it out, just bring her on over.

The two girls returned from the mall, one changed and started right in to help, the other had to leave to go to her language lessons, taking the only vehicle that is currently running well. One is in the shop, the other is leaking radiator fluid and will go in then the first one is fixed. So we ordered the pizza when we were done, and had to have Kathryn leave her lesson to pick it, and we ate at 8:30 at night.

So the painting was done...then came the task of putting everything back...can I just say how thankful I am for my kids who stuck with the task until the end?

A few of the girls I couldn't photograph, because at one point two of them were painting in just bras, Jonathan made a comment, and I said to pretend they are bathing suits. We sang, we listened to blaring music, we laughed until we cried, and we encouraged each other to just get it done. We also took a moment to respect all those who do work like this for a living, day in and day out.

We are saying goodbye to some classic toys that graced our house for years...the little kitchen is going to some friends, and some other things will wait for Lydia...(Mali is moving into a house next month, from her apartment)

The living room feels more open, clean and fresh, and screaming for those valances to be made, ha. Next project....

We had to cancel our dentist appointments for today because we don't have a vehicle and if I drove Paul to work, we wouldn't make it in time because the appointment was for 8:20. We are out of milk and bread, but Irene's dad brought over cheesecake and ice cream last night, thankful we had Irene for the weekend while he and his wife went to Ohio for the weekend. So Camille is happily eating cheesecake for breakfast. A grocery store trip is on the horizon...because we are running out of half and half for the coffee:) And puppy chow.

Anyway, I'm glad the whole painting ordeal is mostly over...I still have lots of trim to paint, but not today.

Today, we'll stay home and do school and enjoy the clean new living room.