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

Thursday, November 23, 2017

thankful thursday...happy Thanksgiving, happy turkey day...

Paul's mom was here with us for dinner, and that's my son Joseph in my spot, as I took the picture...he sat at the counter, didn't mind a bit. Three of our kids weren't here for thanksgiving, Aaron, Sam, and Kathryn. And baby Elise was here but snoozing in her little seat in the living room while we ate.

It went by too fast. Margaret made sweet potato soup, it was SO good! The fresh turkey was delicious, and everything else was too. Some of the kids went in the hot tub when it got late, and lots of us played Jeopardy! that Evelyn made. We picked names for our Christmas Secret Santa. Things are exciting.

This fine morning, we are having brunch...well, at noon-ish...oven French Toast, bacon, sausage, fruit, juice, coffee, scrambled eggs, ect. The our official Turkey Day dinner: homemade pizza and wings, including a keto pizza or two, because SOMEONE has to get back on track. Someone who, shh, had too much pie...but oh dear. It was good.

Anyway. Here's a little flashback from life here five years ago...

This was five years ago, and the thing we unanimously agreed on that we were most thankful for was Benjamin's safe return from Afghanistan. In this pic, fifteen of the kids, all except for Ben, who had just come back from his tour, and was at Fort Lewis-McChord out in Washington. There are so many funny things about this picture, but when I look at it, I just see how God has been good to us. We have had our share of trials, but have been blessed beyond measure.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

pies and more pies but not enough pies....and police.

Oh, the plans of man...

Yesterday was supposed to go a certain way, and ha. I should know by now...

When you have Pie Making Plans, all you want to do is start measuring out that flour, rolling out that pie crust. But no, other things happen...

So the trouble with the daughter at school escalated, more stuff was added into the mix, she was harassed in the hallway, and ultimately, we had to go talk to a sheriff's investigator, at the suggestion and request of the school counselor. The backlash of this whole thing is extremely difficult, I can't go into details, but what a mess. And there we were, right during prime pie making time, at the Public Safety Building, trying to secure safety for our girl.

Daughter and I went to procure last minute milk and bread kind of things, and I bought her a new water bottle, she could have asked for the moon, but she's a good girl, and didn't.

Home...ah, time to put some frozen pizza into the oven for a spiffy-quick din-din...then make those pies. But. What?! Oh my goodness, it's Tuesday night, the kids are going to the youth meeting! That meant it was just Charlotte Claire and Camille home to help me! And do you know those girls were up to the task? They peeled all the apples for the two apple pies. We made five pumpkin, and a shell for the chocolate pie I haven't made yet. We didn't make nearly the amount we usually do, but it will do. We made 8 crusts, I gave each of them a bowl and put ingredients for for crusts in each bowl and they pureed those bits of butter right into the flour/salt/sugar mix. Camille mixed and measured the pumpkin pie filling while Char started the apples, and I rolled out the crusts. It was really a good time, and we finished in less than three hours. And...

We went into the hot tub! Benjamin and Adrian fixed it!

But...there is a leak. It's a small one, so we may be able to live with it. And...this morning the girls can't get it out of sleep mode, so I have to go re-set it and see if I can get it going. The cover which we thought was ripped isn't ripped, and is working fine. I ordered more of the thick bubble wrap stuff to put on under the cover, it should be here Friday. It's heavenly to sit in there...Char, Cam, and I went in while the pumpkin pies baked...then Evelyn, Suzanne, and Sonja came in after the youth was amazing. The chilly air, and the hot nice.

And...our Thanksgiving is today, and someone has to get that bird into the oven...its over 26 pounds, and it'll take a while. Paul is out hunting with Jonathan...our tables need to be moved, the house needs cleaning...and here I sit. I woke up with a headache, and today, I do not want a headache. I started off with ibuprofen right away, I don't like taking it, but today, I do not want a headache....

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

teenagers and how to deal with them....

Ha, if you thought I'd give you answers...instead, I entreat you to take a deep breath, say a prayer, then say exactly the opposite of what you thought you needed to say to your teenager. Dealing with teenagers is a painful experience, and there is definitely no one-size-fits-all in it. In my book, what's required are buckets full of forgiveness, a soft heart, and a few more buckets of forgiveness...and a huge dose of humility. For the MOM (or whoever has the gift of dealing with the teenager!).

Me: You have too much make up on.
Kid: Do you think leggings with a skirt look nice?
Me: No, but I have a huge muffin top at the moment, so my jeans aren't comfy, and I am not there yet in the Leggings as Pants thing.
Kid: I like my make up.
Me: You are so pretty without it.
Kid: You are so critical.

Me: Can you wash up a few dishes?'
Kid: I have so much homework. I don't think you realize, Mom.
Me: When you're done, then.
Kid: I won't be done until bed time.
(How, may I ask, does this child have time to binge watch every episode ever made of that one hospital show?)

Me: I'm going to the library today while you're at school.
Kid: What?! I NEED to go to the library!!!
Me: I have no problem going after school instead, if you want.
Kid: No, because then you'll be mad you had to wait for me.

At the moment, we only have three teenage girls at home, one teenage boy, one older boy who is no trouble at all, and the two little girls who know more about monthly cycles and biology than you would think possible, courtesy of having nine older sisters. Jon knows a thing or two also, doesn't bat an eyelash at the conversations these girls have. Anyway. Kathryn is coming home from California in a few weeks, so it will be even more fun, ha.

These three girls...the third, fourth, and fifth girls of our five-girls-in-a-row-in-five-years, are besties, when they aren't worst enemies. It comes so quickly, they're all laughing and having a good old time, then woosh, one says something, and another retorts, and the third one either sides with one of her sisters, or rolls her eyes and walks away. There can be slamming, pouting, crying, but it never lasts long. They have too much fun together.

And here's the thing: we love them more than life itself. We would do anything for them, and our only hope is that they are happy in life.

Yesterday, one daughter came home from school with tears overflowing. I had a bad day, she said. I can't offer details, but she was threatened three times, by the same boy...he says he is going to beat her up.

Never a dull moment. This daughter is a little bit scared, because who wants to have a target on their back? They say this boy has been in trouble a lot and has been in fights, and in my book, any boy who threatens a girl....hmm.

So pray for us, that we don't give in to that spirit of fear, because it IS written that God has NOT given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. (2 Tim. 1/7)

So these girls of mine all went to school today, brave souls as they are, I offered them, especially the one, to stay home, but no, she said that's just letting him win. He's not there, but his friends are there, and with social media, these things go around, and sides are being taken. It's ridiculous, but it's the world we live in.

Pray for us to be safe, but also not to blow things out of proportion, and also that we can have soft hearts and not let hatred in.

On a different note, yesterday I painted an ugly little dresser, didn't take "before" pics, but it came out so nice! I primed it first, which was very strong smelling stuff, oil based, but oh it worked to cover up the red. Then, I chalk painted it Plaster color, from Walmart, then waxed it looks really nice. of the brand new stools, the black one...I spray painted it with spray chalk paint. It was not a success. It didn't go on evenly, it dripped, and I just wasn't impressed. My sister was helpful, she said that I can always wait until spring, take it out on the deck, and do it over again. But I didn't wait until spring, I just repainted it with regular chalk paint. I had some of the plaster color, and added some golden brown acrylic to make the color creamier, and it looks fine now. I finished the last coat of wax this morning.

As if I didn't have anything better to do. Tomorrow is our Thanksgiving. Tomorrow. Anne is here, and I have like ten pies to make. I have cleaning to do, but guess what? We are going to the library. Somebody got out a Game of Thrones book, and it's severely overdue. The kids really want more books to read, and Anne likes the library a lot, there are blocks and toys there.

We will also stop at the store for a few straggly odds and ends, like eggs and milk, and then Jon wants to go to Sears to get his glasses fixed, hopefully they can just put the arm back on for him without too much hassle.

So I'll come home with groceries and books and small children, and wistfully wish to just crawl into bed with a steaming mug of coffee and a good new book, but I won't. We need to move the kitchen tables around and sweep and mop under them, and there is always juggling with stuff...Paul's hunting clothes bin, and school supplies and craft stuff and and and.

But guess what? I am SO excited for Turkey Day. So excited. Emily and Mirielle and Mali all have the day off, three R.N.'s with the same day off! And Ben and Ashley are here!!!! Little Anya and baby Elise, and sweet little Lydia will be here. I am so excited. I am not excited about all the work, but it will be worth it. We have a fresh turkey in the fridge, and have so much to be thankful for....

Sunday, November 19, 2017

the obituaries....

I don't read the Sunday morning paper from cover to cover anymore, as the news is the same as the stuff I read online, but I do enjoy the obituaries. "Enjoy" may not be the right word, it's not like I'm glad all those people died, it's just that I feel it's the least I can do for them. I scan them, and find it fascinating what how whole lives are summed up in one or two sentences, including things like, "She loved her cat, Fluffy." "He was a HAM radio operator."

Life goes by fast, we do know that. I know a few things I don't want in my obituary:

She was always fretting about something.

She was as lazy as the day is long.

She tried. (when my son Aaron was a teenager, he said that was going to be my epitaph, ha)

No one could sweep the floor to her standards.

She eventually caught up on her laundry.

Anyway...what I'd really like written about me:

She didn't care what anyone thought of her, she lived for God.

She remained in patience and in love, no matter what happened.

Her house was open and welcoming, always, even if she didn't feel like company.

She loved her husband, her kids and their spouses, the grandchildren, and her friends so much that she never ever complained about them.

Anyway. Here in the Northeast U.S. of A., we are having a windy cold spell, it's snowing out right now, and the wind sounds like a freight train. I was the first one up, so I got to let the dogs out. Our across-the-street neighbors are having company, which our pups think is their business, Sunny goes barking over there like they have no right to get their Sunday paper out of their box. So I had to go outside with them, with treats in my hands, praising them for going potty, and luring them back in before they got any ideas. I had already gone out to get our newspaper, slipping on the easiest shoes by the door, which are Jonathan's sandals/slides, the most-used shoes in the house, and brrrr! Then, I had to go out again, because, of all things, there is holiday season Sunday delivery service, and Kathryn got something delivered. So barefoot, in the slushy snow, I ran out and met the delivery guy before the barking dogs woke up the whole house.

Boring details, sorry.

I made the coffee, washed up a sinkful of dishes, swept the floors, put laundry in the dryer, put laundry in the washer, wiped down counters, then ahh, my comfy chair and the Sunday paper.

Can I tell you about a video I watched about a married couple that I know? Years ago, they had come to a place in their marriage where L., the wife, thought they should just separate. They had grown apart, and she was sad. V. had no idea things had gotten THAT bad, but he knew his wife had some changing to do. He came in to great need in his heart because he didn't want his marriage to end, so he prayed to God for help. He got an answer...the answer was that maybe, just maybe, HE was part of the problem. He didn't think so, really, but he prayed and prayed, and talked to God about this...and finally conceded that he was 5% of the problem. He decided that even though he was only 5% of the problem, he would work with all his heart on that 5%. He was more thoughtful, more forgiving, he saw his own demands on her in it all, and it softened her heart too. She started to see her own self too, and they pressed into God for more light and more understanding....and now they are a few years older than me, still married, and extremely happy together.

So, Happy Sunday to you all!

Friday, November 17, 2017

black friday online!

I hate to give out all of my secrets, but shh, shopping online for B.F. deals is the way to go. I also don't like to give out all the secrets of what I am getting for Christmas, in case any of the kids reads the blog...but Kohl's starts their deals on Monday, so you can order boots for your girls, or surprises for the other kids...and you get $15 in Kohl's Cash for every $50 you spend...and no I am not getting paid to say this.

We are having our Thanksgiving on Wednesday, because three of the nurses have Wednesday off, and it's all about having the family together, so Wednesday is Turkey Day, and we will indeed be thankful! Thursday will have it's own celebration for all who are able to attend, a brunch, then a pizza later...there's something insanely satisfying about having pizza when you know most of the rest of the country is having a turkey dinner, like we're rebelling against the whole holiday, but in reality we've just already had it.

Anyway. After school today we have a plan to do some crafts at the kitchen table, drink coffee and cocoa, and have fun. We're painting some ornaments...

Sugar. Sugar is my #1 enemy, besides sin, of course. Sugar, as in grains and pastas, and of course M&M's. I try to eat only meats and veggies, barely any fruit even, but last night I had a mini pack of M&M's, and limited it to only one small pack...I knew I shouldn't have had them, even as I ripped open the cute little brown paper, but...then I wanted more, but said NO, and that was it. Our dinner last night though, it was not healthy...but oh it was yum. Cam and I cut like seven pounds of chicken breast into little cubes, then I dumped it all into a corn starch/flour mixture, and deep fried each little chicken piece, turning the whole mess into fragrant fried chicken bites, which we mixed up with orange ginger sauce, served with rice and veggies, rice which I limited to a tablespoon, but accompanied by that decadent chicken, all was lost anyways. But did I mention it was good? The kids really super appreciated it, it tasted better than Chinese buffet chicken, and they also knew Mom stood at the stove for a good hour, frying chicken.

Because sometimes you just look at that package of chicken breast and wonder what in the heck to do with it...we've had chicken and gravy a lot lately, and fajitas are good but who has green peppers and tomatoes on hand right now? I try to avoid packaged foods, and lean on meat and veggies with optional starches, like noodles, potatoes, rice, or fresh rolls or Italian bread, which I avoid in general, and sometimes I just run out of ideas.

Tonight I'm making spaghetti...the kids love it, and I eat the sauce on canned green beans, or perhaps some spaghetti squash.

The girls and I are going on a fun outing and I am so excited! They need red or green dresses for a Christmas concert at church, their dress rehearsal is tomorrow, so today we are going looking. We have been so busy lately, it's nice to have a day like this.

Yesterday was Della's Daycare, we had: Davian(5) and his little sister Anne(1), and Lydia(2), and Jon's friend Toby(12). It was busy and noisy and there were toys here and there and everywhere like the old days, and my head was spinning. There is this awareness of where a child is, what a child is doing, that every mom has or should have...that vigilant second nature that keeps track even while doing a million other took me years for that to dissipate, and to relax, and to realize, there's no one I have to keep an eagle-eye on, 24/7. I found myself watching other people's kids too intensely, making sure they didn't stand up in the stroller, or knock down their drink, but eventually, it sort of went away. Now...taking care of Anne, I watch her like a hawk. It's even more intense than with my own kids, ha. And when Lyd comes over,'s back! That hyper-vigilance. The other evening, after little Anne was long gone, back at home with her family, I found myself doing that sudden panic of Oh No, Am I Supposed To Be Watching Someone!!!?

So today...we don't have any little ones...and off we go...the girls are happy, and Jon is doing something with Joseph...after doing some school work, of course:)

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

head games...

Yesterday, Kim was visiting, and we were talking about home improvements. We both have our lists, and most of the things on the lists will never actually even get onto the lists, and we know it. Because to get something accomplished, you have to want to do it more than the other 99 things that are calling for your attention, then you have to have the money and the time to do it.

At our house, replacing the windows has been on the list, and we actually did half of them last year. The rest were supposed to be done this year, but we got a new furnace instead. A new roof is on the list too, happy homeowners we are! I would like to add a new tile floor for the kitchen, because my brother installed ours years ago, (my brother who committed suicide), and he didn't install new sub-flooring, just put the tile over the linoleum...I'm not sure if that's why we have so many cracked tiles, or if it's just the type of tile we chose, but...we have lots of cracked tiles. I would like to rip up the carpeting in our bedroom and replace it with interlocking wood-like flooring. I would like to replace some bedroom carpets for the kids, and Sam's old room needs a desperate makeover, having had leaking pipes. But those are big projects.

The projects that I can actually do reasonably are the DIY things like the kitchen cabinets and counters. Every so often, I do lots of online research, and almost start these projects, ha. Yesterday I started a small project...Jonathan had this little dresser in his room, and carried it out here while cleaning his room, said he doesn't want it anymore. It originally had white veneer, but was painted red to match some other red things in his room years I sanded it down, and got ready to prime it, but to spare boring details, I don't have that primer right now because Jonathan forgot to bring it home, blah, and now this red dresser is sitting in the kitchen. I was thinking to chalk paint it a nice creamy white, or a dusty blue, put on some new knobs, and use it for hats and mittens over by the door. I love little, do-able projects like that.

Anyway. I am almost ready to start in on the cabinets...they have to be scrubbed first, and have all the handles/pulls taken off. Then I am thinking to chalk paint, then use a matte polycrylic. But I am going back and forth, I could sand and use latex paint, an nice satin finish, then I wouldn't have to seal them. And I'm not sure what color...I love the old-ish look of creamy white, antique-y, farm-house-ish, but the window frames are stark white, with white trim and hmmmm. Maybe a pale gray, or a deep dark gray.

I am leaning toward chalk paint because I am leaning towards not taking the doors off. I just don't know where I would put them all, and it seems like a huge hassle. I have read accounts of cabinets just being painted with doors on, and they've turned out fine.

Anyway...once I get these ideas into my head, I just want to redo everything. And we need to be driven, in order to actually accomplish something, but then there is the whole Being Content thing, and then Where Does It All End, and then of course there's At The End Of My Life None of These Things Matter. But then, for the time being, it's nice to have a pleasant home, a comfortable place....

But oh my goodness, I really want to start this project....

In other news, Kathryn might be coming home at the end of the month. Samuel has moved down to Virginia for a bit...details on that is stranger than fiction though, I'll say that.

And...Anne will be here soon!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

hess trucks and other seasonal fun...!

It's back, and it's better than ever! Jonathan got his truck in the mail today from Grandma! 13 is not too old to love a new Hess truck!

Yesterday afternoon, I went to the craft store with my sister. It was a split second decision, one of those spontaneous trips out the door...she called and yes, I wanted to go with her! After all, I had just put dinner in the oven...I had floured and browned up two chuck roasts, in hot oil, with pepper and rosemary...cut up potatoes and carrots, and put it all in two glass baking pans in the oven, covered tight in yes, I felt I could leave.

The craft store is all things Christmas. And yeah, I bought a few ornaments:)

I won't put anything up until after Thanksgiving, but I am excited about it.

We went to the pool yesterday, and it felt great...Margaret and Adrian went with us...what a nice day.

And, I walked this morning! I just did, and lo and behold, I didn't freeze to death.

Tonight's dinner is going to be meat, potatoes, and carrots from last night, made into a stew/soup, with a fresh loaf of Italian bread...well, it was fresh yesterday afternoon, still hot, when I put it into the cart. My sister and I went to the grocery store really quick after the craft store, I didn't need much...just some half and half, a pound of butter, some bananas, and a package of hot sausage, and some spicy white hot coneys, marked down because they are summery, but are still good.

Anyway. Anne was delightful today...she is walking more than crawling now, and she liked the Hess truck as much as Jon did. She keeps me busy, but it's nice to have a little one to snuggle with. My sister-in-law Kim came for a visit with her two youngest, who also homeschool. Coffee and conversation, it was cozy and nice. I made up a triple batch of chocolate chip cookie dough and baked a few pans of them...and resisted...tasted some dough, but resisted...then all of the sudden, I found myself breaking off a piece of cookie where there are no chocolate chips...I like that part best, my cookies are more brown sugar than white, and the dough part is so was SO good, so I ate like two more cookies...blah. So much work I do, then that happens.

But one thing I have learned is that just because I mess up like that, doesn't mean I am doomed and I may as well eat a bag of Tootsie sir. It's back on track before too much damage is done, and oh well, learn from it.'s dinner time.