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

Sunday, January 25, 2015

he's gone away again...

And he is missed, already. Mr. Paul, gone to France again. My dear dear husband, whom I have fallen deeper in love with as the days and months go by. We have been married 31 years this March, which doesn't seem possible. I wasn't ready to say goodbye to him today, but I dropped him off at the airport, and...said goodbye to him.

Two whole weeks.

So this evening, after coming home from a very busy day, which I won't get into the details of, I relaxed with four daughters and Jonathan. Lots of other kids were home, the princesses tucked into bed, or "talked" in, as Char calls it. Abigail, Margaret, Evelyn, Sonja and I laughed our heads off at silly things as we wound down from a busy day. Some of our kids worked at a fundraiser at the basketball game, some babysat for others who worked, and some babysat here while Mama was doing food prep for tomorrow's fun day. Tonight, we gathered in the living room, put up our feet, and laughed. Sonja recounted babysitting for my brother's grand-daughter...she told his dog to SIT, and the little grand-daughter....sat. Then Sonja mistakenly called Tina the dog, "Tuna", and Jon said, "Tuna...that's fishy." And we laughed 'til we couldn't breathe. Then Evelyn brought up a boy who used to like Abigail, named Chip. And I said, "Chip's a dip." Margaret said, "Chip's Ahoy." Silliness, but when you have had a long day, and you are tired, it is so funny.

It is quiet now aside from the laughter still coming from the girls' room.

Can I reiterate how much I love my small children? Jonathan and Miss Char and Miss Cam totally light up my life. I have been a mom for 30 years now, and have learned a thing or two. I have learned to that it is indeed wisdom to overlook a matter, as it is written in Proverbs. I have learned that one catches more flies with honey, and that to think before speaking can save one much grief. I have also learned to appreciate the little ones. The time has slipped by so quickly, and the childhood of my kids has flown by, leaving me with all these teenagers and adults, and basically, three younger kids. Jonathan is ten, Char 8, and Cam 7. These three younger ones still get excited for little prizes and will sit with Mama on a Saturday morning. Holidays are still magical for them, and they love me unconditionally. I savor the days with them, knowing they are numbered...I still enjoy them when they grow up, but they change, and life changes, and soon we won't have kids playing school and house and store...until the grandchildren visit, of course.

And...I am tired. It has been a long day, and tomorrow is another one.

Friday, January 23, 2015

proud army mama....

The Old impressive group, the face of the Army. Samuel is seventh from the right. He was in a funeral the other day, it's quite moving, sad, to follow that casket through the cemetery...he said in spite of that, Arlington is absolutely beautiful in the snow.

Margaret and Jonathan are having a Lord Of The Rings marathon...not all in one night. Marg filled Charlotte Claire in on the details of the first few movies, so tonight Char and Cam are snuggled under blankets on the couch watching, and asking a million questions. They are absolutely fascinated. I see another obsession coming on....

I roasted to nice fat chickens for dinner, with some Jamaican jerk seasoning. We had it with steamed broccoli and some homemade salsa/brushetta stuff....I chopped tomatoes and red onion, added some chopped cilantro, a bit of onion powder, sea salt, and a bit of olive oil. Yum, added to the chicken and broccoli, it made the meal.

So Paul is leaving in the morning. I think this time is the very hardest yet, the impending goodbye. It's never fun, but balanced out with the fact that I don't mind having the bed all to myself and reading the nights away, and knowing how nice it is when he gets home again...I am usually okay with him leaving. Okay, not happy. But this time...perhaps because of his heart procedure...I am just not jumping up and down about this. He is all packed, and when he rolled his suitcase out towards the door...wah.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

a visit to the psychiatrist

Let me introduce you to the best psychiatrist in the world: me. I have no formal education, but I can solve everyone else's problems! But my own...hmm. Well, let's see what I would tell myself if I was my own patient:

Dr. Me: What brings you here today?

Real Me: Well, I am disorganized. I feel giddy when I open my sock drawer and there is a matching pair.

Dr. Me: Is that really why you are here today?

Real Me: Well...I need to lose like 80 pounds. Why am I my own worse enemy? Why can't I just exercise every day like I know I should? Why do cookies call my name? Why do I love popcorn?

Dr. Me: You already know all the answers, dear. You just need to...suffer a bit.

Real Me: Suffer? You think I don't suffer? Why, I can't bend over without ripping my pants! My shirts ride up, and when I have to get my phone out of my jeans pocket, I lose feeling in my hand!

Dr. Me: You are suffering as a result of not suffering in the right way.

Real Me: But but but do you know how many pieces of cake I HAVEN'T EATEN?

Dr. Me: Here's what to do: Book a vacation. When your husband comes home from work, tell him you had to do it, doctor's orders. Then picture yourself on the beach everytime you start thinking of chocolate.

Real Me: So, if I think about the beach when I eat chocolate, I will lose weight?

Anyway...Dr. Me is so right! I just need to suffer. I know that! You can paint it any color you like, but that's what it is. It's not the answer we fat people want, no sir. We want the painless diet, where we can eat frosting on our toast and never ever exercise. But we all know where that has gotten me.

So, after almost four years of fighting this battle...I will continue. I know my weaknesses...namely chocolate. And, cookie dough. And perhaps a few cookies. I no longer eat pasta, rarely eat bread (only the end piece occasionally, from a fresh-baked loaf of Italian or sourdough). I don't eat chips, rarely pizza. So my basic diet is healthy. I just need to slap my little hand a bit more, and get those work-outs in.

I am motivated today, because I got up and got my lovely Nike sports bra on with my sweat pants. Never mind that it's a 1X, I feel sporty in that bra. Even though I am not a real athlete. Anyway, I headed to Evelyn's room, because she has stolen my ten-pound weights, and she has a space heater in there. I was feeling pretty good, but where in the heck were the weights? I tip-toed into Margaret's room, she is a known weight stealer, but no, she said. She could only find one in Evelyn's room, but I was free to take the one. Thank you dear, and by the way, are you going to school? She drives in late these days, she only has six left, then she is all graduated from high school! Next Thursday is her last day! Anyway. Back to Evelyn's room with the one weight. I checked Kathryn and Suzanne's room, no luck. dang. Oh well, I am already in here, all dressed up like a fit person, so I figured it out. I used the ten pound kettlebell too.

The coffee is on, the little girls are playing dolls in their room, the puppies are sleeping on the couch, the kitties are curled up sleeping too. Jon is still sleeping, and the other homeschooled girls are shh, are near Niagara Falls with Mali.

BTW, I didn't book a vacation.

Oh, yesterday our adventure was fun!!! The thrift store, I love that place! I bought a popcorn popper, the kind you put the oil and kernels in the bottom, then flip it over when it all pops...I bought new jeans that fit great until I sit down, then ugh, two pairs of jeans and some snow boots for Jon, an adorable rain coat for Camille, a Lee Middleton baby doll for $2.99, and I can't remember what else. But all that was only $25.

This weekend is going to be fun, except for the part where Paul leaves for France on Saturday. Saturday evening is food prep for our church feast on Sunday, along with practice for the song we are performing. The over 30 year olds are putting hosting this event for all of the under 30. We agreed on a menu, but I am the one who is going to stretch the dollars and go to different stores to get the best prices for all the stuff...which is one thing I am good at.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

home school....

Notice Kitty Kitten, aka Kettler, or Miss Mix, derived of course from Meow Mix...she prances across the table like she belongs there.

This morning is busy here as some of my teenagers get ready for a trip to Niagara Falls with their big sister Mali. I am taking Jonathan, Char, and Cam, on a little outing to the small city to use their Book It coupons at Pizza Hut, then to the thrift store. I just want to get out and about with them while the sun shines. Not that it's warm, it's now 12 (-1.1C).

Girl drama. You can't have eleven daughters without it. They seem to take turns being difficult. They help each other out, but can be brutally honest too. They go through ups and downs with friends, suffer through misunderstandings and have times when they are certain no one understands what they are going through. I can't be everything to everyone, and sometimes, like right now, I feel like I want a re-do on the whole day. lovely daughter, at eleven o'clock, declared she had no clean clothes and had to do laundry. She is leaving at noon. A load was already in, so with hands on hips, she exclaimed that she HAD to do laundry! Well. Why in the heck didn't you get up at 8 then, I asked? You seriously think we shouldn't have washed clothes today because we anticipated that you might possibly need to? And I didn't say it nicely. I reacted. And she turned and walked down the hall. She said, "You didn't have to yell at me." So. I tried to talk to her a little while later. She said, "It's okay. You're right, I'm wrong." Whatever. That's not what I was going to say. Because, ha, I WAS right, but that's not the point. It's all in the delivery. I was incredulous, and came off as being way too harsh.

So the daughter drama. Face it, when you have 16 kids, they aren't all going to be thrilled with you at all times.

Camille is curled up in a chair reading, "Happiness is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown". Ah, that's the life.

I suppose I should get moving now, out of my comfy chair, and, talk to some daughters, and get going on our adventure.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

we can dream....

My life is lovely. It really is. I love staying home, love home schooling, love my house, my husband, my dogs. And the kitties. But when winter gets long and cold and dark, I start thinking about those islands in the Caribbean, and sometimes I do more than think. I google these resorts on these islands.....

Not that I wouldn't love to bring the whole fam-damily, but mostly, I just want to go with Paul. So I can see him relax. I mean, he's a fun guy, but when his responsibilities are put aside and his cares melt away, I am left with a REALLY fun guy. A guy I really like being with. Perhaps my own cares melt away too, and the combination is just too good to be true. Toes in the sand, a drink at the pool bar, not worrying about what's for dinner or who is going where when with whom.

So Paul got a non-cash award from one of his bosses, which he assumed we would spend at Amazon. No, please, let's save it toward a vacation, I said. It's only about a sixth of the cost, but it's a start...

Anyway. Back to reality. Even if we don't ever end up going, the dreaming part is free, and rather fun.

And, I have a headache. I have ignored it all day, but now it is pounding. I took two ibuprofen, hopefully they'll kick in and it will go away. When I have a headache, it's hard to think about anything else, it is so THERE, in the forefront, dominating my day.

How can one exercise when one has a headache? Go for a walk? Go to the pool? No way. Not today. And yeah, part of me is glad for a good excuse, as I am my worst enemy when it comes to talking myself into a work-out.

I will however, behave with the food. I was tempted to make popcorn today, but I knew I would eat the whole bowl, so I had a mug of tomato soup and a cup of tea instead.

Jonathan ordered a quad-copter, a remote control helicopter thing with a camera on it, with his Christmas money. It's not supposed to arrive here until February, but that doesn't stop Jon from looking out the window expectantly every time he hears a truck. The waiting is the hardest part, but also half the fun. Camille is waiting for her Christmas doll, I contacted Kohl's and they were great about refunding my money, then letting me re-buy it for the same sale price. It must make sense to them.

My headache is actually going away. I will be so thankful, every minute, and take notice that I have nothing to complain about. OH heavenly bliss, to have a head that isn't pounding.

Paul is going back to France on Saturday, for two weeks. Mali has booked an Embassy Suites hotel room for tomorrow night in a big city a few hours from here, and is taking a few of her sisters for an overnight. She invited me. I had to decline, because Paul is only here for a few more nights...but it does sound tempting...pool, hot tub...

Monday, January 19, 2015

monday morning mumblings....

So yesterday my oldest "child" turned 30, Happy Birthday to Emily! I already gave her a pair of warm gloves and some adorable knee socks last week, but yesterday I stopped into Price Chopper for some whipped cream to go with the berries Kim gave me from Liz's baby shower, Liz being my brother Tom and his wife Kim's daughter....I went to the shower, (Liz looks adorable pregnant!), then realized it was Em's birthday, and remembered that oh yeah, she was coming for dinner. So I scurried toward home...

At the grocery store I found more birthday gifts...a cool knife, As Seen On TV, some facewash, Organix shampoo and conditioner that smells so heavenly, a pair of tights, and some Burt's Bees lotion. Oh, and a bag of Starbucks' Blonde roast coffee.

We watched Downton Abby and had popcorn. The good kind. Margaret and Jonathan got out the cookbook and made Em a birthday cake, even though I brought home some yummy 3 layer lemon-strawberry-orange cake from the shower, which the kids loved. Margaret just wanted to bake, I think. They made a vanilla cream cake, with fluffy cream cheese frosting. So now, this fine Monday morning, there are the remnants of two cakes calling to me. And today, I am not answering. Nope.

The kids have no school because it is Martin Luther King Day. The four teenagers are still in Ohio. Margaret and Jonathan are going out to lunch, and I am going on a quick trip to the small city with Kim, just because. Joseph is going to keep an eye on the princesses and their cousin Danille, whom was brought home from the shower with us to spend the night, much to the princesses' delight. We stopped at Redbox and got the movie, "Malificent", which Dani hadn't watched yet. Oh joy, they were happy. Those girls just play and play and play. They turn their bunk beds into a snuggly house, they set up Barbies, they sing and dance and dress up.

Our weather is moderating here in the northeast. Just regular snow, and cold, without being sub-zero. Yesterday it warmed up to a bit of rain, in fact.

Paul is back at work today. His a-Fib is still gone, thankfully. He has a little device that he holds to his chest every day, then telephones the dr. office, and they get a recording of his rhythm, which is totally magic, isn't it? He is supposed to do that if he feels it start racing, but hopefully it won't.

It's hard for me to see him slowed down by health. I don't know what it is, but I love him more and more. Seeing him in that hospital gown, all vulnerable and hooked up to the I.V., oh dear. He is so true, so genuine, so kind and responsible. He can still look at me and raise his eyebrows and make me just smile.

Ah well, I have things to do. After making a nice dinner last night, and washing lots of dishes, imagine my joy and happiness when I walked into the kitchen this fine Monday morning and discovered how many of the dishes didn't get washed...the popcorn pan and several bowls, one of the chicken pans, the frosting bowl from the cake, and an assortment of silverware, cups, and mugs. My first reaction was...well,never mind. I don't like housework, and I never will, but that doesn't mean I have to be miserable.

And now I need to really get going....

Saturday, January 17, 2015

a baby!!!!!!

Not me. My daughter Mali. I am going to be a Grandma again! Which doesn't make sense, but in any case, Mali is going to have a baby.

This news was a bit of a shocker, but we all took it pretty well. After all, it's a baby! And Mali is almost 21, has a good job, and is "on her feet". The fact that she's not married to her boyfriend...well, that's her choice. There comes a time, when raising kids, when they start making their own decisions, and all we can do as parents is love them, and be good, and try not to say, "I told you so."

Also, I love Mali so very much, and will do all I can to help her out, and support her. She knows our beliefs, so we didn't have to say anything to her. Love covers a multitude of sins, after all, and the goodness of the Lord brings repentance. And, we simply love Mali. She is a very nurturing and caring girl, and after the initial panic, she is actually quite excited. She says she absolutely loves this little baby already.

Our house is bustling this morning. Our septic pump has been replaced, but there is something electrical wrong now, so a friend is coming over to look at it. The furnace has been acting up, so Paul has been tinkering with that. Joseph has been a huge help, going to the dump today, chopping wood, and emptying the ash pan of the woodstove. Four of our girls have gone to Ohio for the weekend, so there are only five "kids" here. The princesses are eating French toast and making bead necklaces.

I am a bit restless, wanting to plan stuff and go places, but Paul is tired, and has a bit of brain fog from his procedure. It is rather normal after anesthesia, but still, it's not fun. We need to just keep it low key so he can rest up and get better.

Camille with her doll bed...Emily bought it from Ikea a while ago, and Cam has been wanting to paint it. I bought a can of pink glossy paint from the dollar store a while ago, and Camille started prodding me to get to it....

Of course she wanted to paint it herself, and then Charlotte Claire found another brush and joined us. They painted, I caught drips.

It came out nice, so I got out the sewing machine and made a little bedskirt for it. I wanted to make some blankets and a pillow too, it was fun, but it was getting to be dinner time...I made boneless chicken thighs with orange sauce, stir-fried cabbage with onions, broccoli, and snap peas. And a pan of roasted potatoes with carrots, onions, and brussel sprouts. Camille has wanted to try the sprouts, and I finally bought some.

Margaret and Jonathan also made a few pizzas.

So I put away the sewing, and the girls took the newly pink doll bed to their room. They don't care so much about new blankets, wah. Perhaps I will make them for the real baby:), Mali's baby.

We also baked cookies yesterday....

I made them to send with the girls for their road trip...and dang they were too good. I am glad they are all gone now.