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

Friday, June 23, 2017

what's good in life....

With Sonja yesterday at the thrift store....sometimes we have too much fun.

She may never forgive me for posting this, but it's a good lesson: stop caring what people think, and try on the funny dress!

We found these blocks, $3.99 a box. Yes, I still buy toys, for the grandkids to play with when they come!

Sunny didn't seem to mind that the little girls put this sweater on her. She wore it around for hours until Paul came home from work and felt sorry for her, said it was too hot for a sweater.

Paul fixed the pump switch on the pool filter last night, what would I do without him? How does he know how to do so many things?

Evelyn, Sonja, and I went out for a bit yesterday. Evelyn wanted to recycle some used clothes, she turned them in at a clothing exchange store and got a little bit of pocket money. Then we went to Kohl's because I had ten dollars Kohl's cash. I found a pair of dress pants for Joseph, who absolutely hates shopping, and yay, they fit him. I took the girls to Subway too, and I was good, only had a quarter of a sub, which is no easy feat when it's so yummy...I like black olives and cucumbers and spinach and tomatoes and lettuce, on a chicken breast sub, with hot sauce.

Anyway. Tomorrow night, Paul and I are leaving for the cabin. Am I packed? I hope so. You know how you reach a certain point and just sort of burn out? I feel like that about packing. I feel like we are bringing way too much stuff, more stuff than the Ingalls family brought to live on the prairie. Minimalists, we're not. We are having nacho bar night at the cabin, so we HAVE to have that horrible liquid cheese, and fresh cilantro, and corn...and don't forget the sour cream, along with all the peppers and tomatoes and lettuces and oh yeah, the jalapenos! And shh, we are bringing lots of paper plates, the thick sturdy ones. We may not be good for the environment, but we certainly are good for the economy!

Swim floaties and goggles and towels and bedding and snacks and shoes and sneakers and don't forget the chargers or the toothbrushes!

I do plan on bringing this acer chromebook, so perhaps I'll blog a little, but who knows. I know I will feel overwhelmed at times, I love all the kids, and having the ALL together is nothing short of stellar. I LOVE it. It's been TWO YEARS since we were ALL together. TWO YEARS! And who knows when it'll happen again?

One thing we are doing is having a family picture taken by Susan, my sister's daughter...the mama of those lovely twins we like to have over, and of course their big brother too. They will be coming up to the camp one day so Susan can work her magic. She is amazing, she really is. We figure propping an iPhone on the roof of the car worked okay last time, ha...

Okay...time to drive kids places...bye for now.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

the good, the bad,and the ugly....

Trying to balance what to write about and what not to mention, without painting a picture that's rosier than reality is my goal here. So yeah, some stories aren't mine to tell, and some messes aren't what we really want to show the world, but I will tell you this: they are there, ha. My laundry room, the downstairs hall with the kitty litter...ect.

The other night, a friend was talking about a blogger who posted pics of her house, and all the nice views, but neglected to include one side of the house that was bordered by a factory, or some other dumpy place, giving the illusion that her place was much nicer than it actually was. I don't want to be like that, but I also don't want to embarrass my kids by posting pictures of the sink full of dishes, or what it looks like behind the couch. Sometimes I consider just walking away from this blog. Have I disclosed too much? Have I said too little?

Everything isn't sunshine and roses, of course not. I have sixteen kids, for heaven's sake! But the purpose of this blog isn't to paint a picture of a huge happy family, it's for ME to write from my point of view.

And here's my view today. Sometimes I get overwhelmed. The teenagers, oh dear. When one of them says, "Mom!", and I immediately answer in my WHAT NOW voice, and they get offended and say NEVER MIND. Okay. That went well. Then another mentions they NEED shoes. ALL of her shoes, ALL of them have faults. She can name them all, if I don't believe her. And washing machine wars...I thought it was good if they all learned to wash their own clothes, but oh dear, it's hard to fit a load in, sharing it with them all. There is always dog hair. I sweep every morning, but then by the next morning, it's there. Clutter piles up fast, and a day of housecleaning success vanishes before I can even revel in it. Kids grow out of clothes, we bag them up to give to friends and they sit there until we remember to actually give them away.

My view is also this: Life is one huge gift. I firmly believe that each and every day, there are multitudes of treasures to be found if I have my eyes open and can hear what God has to say to me. I know that each of my kids are different from each other, and there is no One Size Fits All method to deal with things that come up, but that God is always faithful to give wisdom when I ask.

Have you ever noticed a tendency to want to help when someone is truly in need? As a parent, if one of the kids is really sad, I want to comfort and help. That's the way it is with God, too. When I pray for patience, and for understanding and mercy and goodness towards my kids, He gives it.

Anyway. Yesterday was a good day. We headed out to gymnastics a bit early and stopped at the thrift store. There were these outdoor chairs that swivel, and rock a little, mauve colored with white metal bases...not beautiful, but comfortable and...$4.99 each. I asked Evelyn if she thought we could fit them in the back of the van...and she was willing to try. And they smooshed right in there! We didn't have enough chairs on the deck, so it's nice. I would like to paint them/redo them, but we'll see.

I still have some things to accomplish before the camp, some shopping, some marinating and freezing meat, and packing clothes.

This weekend is a huge weekend for us, our church is having a grand feast in the big city. Over a thousand people, actually 1,600 or so, from all over the east coast, and hundreds from Norway. And then leaving for Cabin.

And fast forward a day...this was written yesterday. I am having trouble finding time to write, because I don't do well with a million interruptions. Nine hundred ninety nine thousand ninety nine are okay, but when it hits a million, I can't do it anymore. I did get the meat purchased and frozen, but ha, I had a detour. Emily came to pick up Jonathan to help her pick up a huge grill for Saturday's church cookout, and then she was going to Trader Joe's. Now, I have never been to Trader Joe's. It's new to our area. So I found myself getting ready really quickly, and leaving the house, kids, and dogs to Evelyn for a few hours.

And did I like Trader Joe's? Way too much. I am glad it's far far away, at least too far for regular visits. A 17.4 ounce Belguim chocolate bar for $4.99? In the cart. I also bought their brand of Ezekial bread (sprouted grains), some unsweetened coconut flakes, a jar of crunchy almond butter, a watermelon, some bacon ends and pieces for Jonathan (he's a good kid, he didn't ask for a thing, but he loves bacon, and pointed it I let him get it.)

So in the afternoon, I made these little treats from 2 tablespoons melted butter, 3/4 cup of almond butter, a quarter teaspoon of stevia, and a cup of the coconut...made them into little cookie shapes, into the freezer, and oh yummy!

This morning, I accidentally slept in. I always wake up early, think of what I have to do, and get myself out of bed. Yesterday it was 6:20. This morning, I woke up, checked the time, and HOLY COW! it was 9:20. oops. I had missed one phone call and two texts. I was in a deep sleep, and I guess I needed it.

I feel like I am a day late and a dollar short as it is, but sleeping in, whoa.

Today's agenda is to sit around in the sun and wish someone would pack and clean the house for me. ha. I wish. Actually, Evelyn and I are taking a trip to the place she is going to turn in her old nice clothes, one of the closet used stores, then we are going to Kohl's because I have ten dollars Kohl's cash, and I hate to waste it. Then home...hopefully with lots of time left in the day for that sitting in the sunshine. And cleaning the house, of course.

Camille is keeping track of the days Until The Cabin, and oh dear! She packs her own clothes now, and is trying to balance that tricky question of How Many Pairs Of Underwear Do I Need To Leave Here. It's a rainy forecast, and with all the stuff God has to deal with all the time, it seems selfish to pray for nicer weather, but...

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

and the question is....

Can I really write an entire post in one sitting these days?

Yesterday, went to the huge-0 mall in the city. The best part was that we met Mali and her little Lydia there. We went into the Home Goods store and tried out the rocking chairs.

Lydia was so good at the mall. I think she liked being out and about and seeing all the people, on a rainy day.

Our new deck steps...the old ones went straight down, and were steep and dangerous.

We're trying to keep the new deck nice and clean, but we still hang towels over the rails.

Today is gymnastics, the last class of the season. We considered the summer program, but it's pricey, and the girls decided they could just practice here, and have one less thing to drive to the city for in the summertime.

And the answer to my opening question is no, my brother stopped in to see the new deck, so ha, but I did come back to it. The kids are getting their lazy summer attitudes on already, no one has had breakfast yet. Evelyn left for her state test (last one for the year!), and Kathryn left for work, and Paul too. We're still on the first pot of coffee, and I have been puttering around, vacuuming, wiping counters, laundry, packing some clothes...only a few days until the cabin! Evelyn's home now...and there's nothing like blogging and nodding uh-huh when your teenager wants to talk about a bye.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

even the days when I don't do anything...

I am doing stuff. Cleaning the pool filter, adding some chlorine, backwashing the pump, then wandering around the yard picking up doggy surprises, candy wrappers which of course NO ONE dropped, weeding around the tomato plants, then sweeping the floors and wiping counters and putting some towels in the washer...I had to drive Suzanne to school this was really early, and no other kids were there yet, so we drove over to the Dunkin and got her a few donuts...she was nervous, didn't eat breakfast, and only had a bite of one donut...I told her she would be hungry and happy when her test was over, so to save them.

Anyway. That whole post was YESTERDAY. It got so busy around here I couldn't even write. With Real School ended, and end of the year tests winding down, the three high school girls are here more, and Kathryn has been working from home...and Adrian has been here when he can, finishing up the deck.

Jonathan has a friend over, they pitched a tent in the back yard. Kathryn went to the Dollar General in town last evening and bought them snacks, with Charlotte Claire and Camille. Dollar General, popping up in all the small towns...I want to hate them, but it's a handy can get a bag of dog food if you go to scoop it out of the bin for three dancing wagging doggies, and oops, when did we run out of that? You can get birthday party stuff for a last minute bash, you know how those birthdays sneak up, even though they are on the same day every year.

Today, I am going on an adventure. Abigail and Mirielle, Evelyn,Suzanne, Sonja, Charlotte Claire, Camille, and two of the girls' friends, Carmen and Grace. We are going to Lake Ontario to a nature preserve that I have never been to, on the eastern shore. We are leaving in an hour, so I can blog until the last possible minute, then get ready like a crazy woman.

I have been up for two hours already, Saturday morning, and I am wide awake, thinking of all the things I have to do. Then I got up, and surprise! Somebody got into the bathroom garbage, and whee, scattered it all over the living room! I doubt it was Duke, he doesn't have the energy for that. Suri looked mildly guilty but bored with such shenanigans, so the most likely suspect is: Sunny. She was frolicking in it.

I found myself out on the deck transplanting flower sprouts from a big pot to little pots, then sweeping up the floors, then gathering up towels and putting them in the hamper, refilled the dog food bins with the new 44 pound bag from the warehouse store. Time flies when you're doing all the things that no one else sees to do.

And I still have to get the girls up and pack lunch. I am glad my daughters include me in their adventures. I was going to stay here and be with Paul today, but he says he has lots of stuff to do too, so I should just go and have fun. :)

Our kitchen table is groaning with Stuff For Camp. Every time I think of something to pack, I put it over there. Who knew we could need so much stuff for one week?

It's a beautiful day today, and I have too much stuff going through my head to sit here and enjoy writing, blah. I am going to have to keep my laptop in my bedroom so I can just wake up in the mornings and blog before I face the world, and ha, all these kids of mine! I am loving it, though, you know that. I know how fleeting it is, and each one of them will be moving out at some point, probably, (hopefully a few will want to stay forever...I cannot for the life of me understand those people who can't wait to get them all out the door so they can be Empty Nesters. Maybe in ten years if they're all still here I'll change my tune, but I don't think so) Kathryn is leaving in July, for a year in Norway. Evelyn is leaving July 1st for a month in California with her brother Aaron.

Anyway...I have to get up and get ready....the girls hate when I'm not ready when they get here, oh how the tables have turned.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

of course I wouldn't!

...go on a wine tour with two of my daughters! (Mirielle and Emily)
I started out as the designated driver, not that the girls had that much, the tastings are small amounts. The first place we went was pleasant, we were the only customers, and the girls learned about "pairings", trying different appetizers with the wine. I found myself a little jar of pumpkin butter for my Ezekial toast, but it's still in Emily's car.

Anyway. The next place we didn't taste anything, just bought a few bottles because we know it's good. Do you know there's a grape called the "Diamond"? And the Cayuga White? Also, a German grape, which I couldn't pronounce, produces a nice crisp tangy flavor. The third place, the girls decided that I could taste, because Emily was fine to drive. Well. This third place, the wine pourer guy (I don't know if these people have official titles, but they are all very personable and friendly)...but this guy was over-generous, and gave us 8 or 9 tries instead of the six we chose. The Thirsty Owl, it was called, and they have some really good stuff. I am so sophisticated, each time the pourer guy asked what I thought, I would say, "yummy". ha. Mare and I couldn't even look at each other a few times.

The fourth place was a bit off the beaten path, right down near the lake, and it was lovely. The door was propped open, and kitty cats wandered in and out. Mare and I tried a few more. And bought a few bottles.

Place #5, our final stop, we tried a few...but first we asked where the bathroom was...the smarty pants wine pourer guy said, "Right to the left behind this building, there's a hole in the ground." And I said delightedly, "Oh good, just like at home!" He said I won the Best Response Ever. And the best wine there happened to be called, "Smart A$$", and of course I wouldn't buy something like that!

So now we have some bottles of wine for the camp, to share on the dock. (Ashley, I bought you some Cayuga Lake grape juice!)

Home...but first a stop in the grocery store for some strawberries, bread, half and half, burger, chicken, bacon, eggs, and ice cream sandwiches.

Then home...the kids were all gathered on the deck, with the little pool filled to dip their feet in. Emily and Mirielle took Evelyn and Sonja out to Chipotle, it was Nurse's Day for free burritos. I made a chocolate cake, to have with berries and whipped cream, a pasta salad, and burgers on the grill. I hadn't had lunch, and I think the sun and the wine triggered a migraine. I know there are a few wines that do that, but mostly I am okay, since I tried so many, I have no idea which was the culprit. But it may have been a combination of sun, not eating lunch, and the grilling burgers with the smoke going in my face. Whatever the reason, I had a really bad one, getting worse by the minute. I finished cooking, and went to bed, without even eating, since by then I felt like I was going to heave with the pain.

Ibuprofen and quiet under the covers for a few hours, then I got up and had some dinner. It was all cleaned up and put away, and I was sad that I missed some good family time. Margaret and Adrian were here...Adrian is finishing up the deck. He is going to put a railing board along the top of the railing, like a shelf. He finished the gate last night, making the deck like a big playpen for small children, and for animals. It latches really easily. The stair railings are almost done too.

This morning, more state testing, and a study session for Evelyn, so I let her just drive the van to school. Our other van, which was smashed into, is still in the shop, so no vehicle for me today. It's okay, I don't need to go anywhere, and I have to start packing for our vacation.

I still have a residual headache, and feel so drained. It was a horrible one. Right now, I am sitting in my comfy chair with a blanket, coffee, and quiet. Char and Cam decided to sleep in the living room last night, with the doggies. So they have the fan on in the window. The hum of the fan, the coolness of the morning...I could fall back to sleep.

The pool is still green, but getting better as the filter chugs away, and we clean out the cottonwood cotton. Now the weather forecast is for cooler days, wah.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

far be it from me to....

shamelessly brag about the new deck...and, well, I don't really see it as "bragging", because I am more thankful. Extremely thankful, the kind of thankful that makes me want to cry, because I can't believe it really happened, and that my favorite place in the world became such a clean, vast, open, and welcoming space. It's peaceful on this deck, because it's up near the trees, and the birds are singing, and it's just so amazing.

The old deck ended right smack in the middle of this window, making a nice perch for 25 years of kitties to sit on, look into dining area window, paw at the window, and be let in. It's always been a no-no to simply open the window and let kitty cat in, but even I did it. Notice there's no screen, the nice kitties wrecked that as soon as they could.

Anyway. New deck aside, there are things to do around this gosh-forsaken heck-hole, as Marge Simpson would say. The pool...

This can't even be counted as the "before" pic, because this is after dumping several pounds of chlorine shock in, and finally...turning on the filter! There was a patch job to be done, which required draining the pool a bit, the refilling it...then scooping and scooping and scooping the cottonwood cotton that flew daintily through the air like snow...and landed in the pool. This morning I went out to clean out the filter basket. I put my hand right in that basket to pull out the cottonwood cotton and the leaves, and I felt something yucky. I pulled my hand back out like it was shocked, then I reasoned that it was just a yucky leave. I put my hand back in there, and yuck! Slimy! Pulled it back out...then a third time, telling myself that it was just a slimy leave...yuck! I couldn't do it. I turned off the filter, took out the basket, and yup, it was a...frog. I did a little "I just touched a frog!" dance. eew.

So the pool will probably get clear right in time for our Adirondack vacation, ha.

Today, I am going on an adventure! Emily and Mirielle invited me to go on a wine find. We live in the heart of the Finger Lakes region, wine country! Cayuga Lake, Seneca Lake...the wineries are abundant, and the wine is soooo good! A few weeks ago, we stopped at a place on Cayuga Lake, and found this raspberry wine that's almost sinful. So today, both girls have the day off from stressful nurse jobs, they both work in the big hospital, Em in ICU, Mirielle in oncology. And it's a beautiful day, high seventies and sunny. I told them I would drive if they want to taste the wine. We are getting some for the camp, because there is nothing like sitting on the dock on that Adirondack lake, with a glass of wine.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

presenting....the new deck!!!!!!!!!!!!

The new stairs are finished, just need the railing completed, but Adrian has to work his "real" job today. Isn't it nice? He did such a good job. The older kids here helped too, mostly Sam and Jon, and Paul too. Today I wiped down the side of the house that wasn't reachable before, washed the windows, and put one Adirondack chair out there, sat and drank half a cup of coffee before driving Evelyn to school for a state test.

We still have to put lots of stuff back, clean up lots of wood in the yard, and figure out how to landscape near the new stairs. The old stairs went straight down, every person in this family fell down those steps at least they have a landing in the middle, so less to fall down, ha. '

Our pool is filling up, we had to drain some of the water to patch where chlorine tablets had disintegrated the liner. It seems to be holding up, and soon we'll turn on the filter and begin clearing up the green. Pools are so much work.

So warm weather means bare feet and outside and finishing up home school...iced coffee and popsicles and running out of ice. Towels everywhere and lots of kids here...