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, January 19, 2017

a horrible nightmare of a dream....

I get to tell you my dream, but you don't have to read it. You know, when you start telling someone your dream, and they're like feigning death, not wanting the boring I'll try to keep it short...the other night, I had a dream...

...that Paul surprised me with kitchen renovations! I walked into my kitchen, in my dream, and there was a gorgeous new sink with a swanky tall faucet, but...the counter tops...oh dear, they were hideous! Green plastic-y with with white swirls, hunter green. I mean ugly, and if you happen to have these in your home at this very minute, I do apologize. But these were ugly. Then I looked at Paul, in my dream, and he was so proud of himself. He had installed it all, and surprised me, and was waiting for me to jump up and I did. (not a total body jump, I can't do that, even in dreams) I lied in my dream. I told him I loved it.

Anyway. I'm now a bit thankful for my 80's looking blue counter tops with the oak edging.

And here's a real life nightmare: I had an MRI this morning. If you are ever scheduled to have one, run in the other direction and do not stop. I am not just being a drama queen, it was horrible. I did not realize how claustrophobic I am. You have to lie flat on your back and have a mask thing over your face, then slide into the tube and hold very still...mine was 40 minutes long. I was offered a choice of music, piped in through big ugly headphones, so I classic rock it was. Mistake! "come on baby light my fire....", over and over again when it's background music is one thing, but when you're lying there listening to it in a stifling tube...ugh. The next few songs were not much better. I found myself close to panic a few times, I tried the Pretend I'm On The Beach trick, and the walking through summery grass...but it was just awful. I have had CT scans before, and they weren't so bad, but this one...ugh.

While lying there, I thought of patients in the hospital who had to just lie on their backs, especially one guy Em had, who had some sort of accident which paralyzed him from between the neck and waist....he couldn't feel himself breath, so he was consistently panicked.

Hopefully nothing is found, hopefully it's just a huge waste of time and money, ha.

I was all by myself, early in the morning, most places still closed, so I went to Walmart...they have decent pizza dough for a dollar, and the weekend is coming up...I browsed around, just enjoying myself...I got the little girls each a clearanced top, and a few wood things to paint, for art class.

Home...ah, home. I had only had coffee on the way there, so now I am having my Ezekial raisin toast, and a nice 'nother cup of coffee. Margaret is here working, the kids are reading in bed...we went to the library yesterday, so we're all stocked up again.

Emily and Mirielle came over yesterday afternoon laden with candy from South Africa, and some Kenyan coffee.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

when I became mommy....

This is my daughter Emily Anne, and me, when she had her White Coat ceremony last month. Today is her birthday. She is um...32. 32. How can I possibly have a daughter who is 32?

With Abigail, my second oldest, and little Linnea.

Working at the Ampitheater with Emily...

In Norway last year....

When Emily was born, I was nineteen years old. It's so cliche' to say how smitten I was, how in love with her. That's what moms do. But when Em was born, I was sleeping. She was transverse, and thankfully we had this old school doctor who still went out on a limb and used forceps. I had to sign all the paperwork for a c-section just in case his plan didn't work, to do "mid-forceps", turn her and pull her out. I will spare the gory details, but the doctor's plan worked. I woke up to Paul crying. I had no idea where I was or what was going on. He said, "We have a girl! A girl first!" And I said, "What do you mean, "first"? I looked at my hands, they were black from the fingerprinting, and I was so freaked out...then he handed me a bundle...with a face sticking out...and yeah, I fell hard...right into love with Emily.

Growing up in a family like ours hasn't always been easy for a girl like Em. She is a reader, and she had to be creative to sneak away and find alone time. She was fun and adventurous, and the younger kids depended on her for outings, games, fun meals...she could give baths and showers and put kids to bed. I tried really hard not to depend too much on any one of the older kids, so they could have their own lives too...

One of my favorite things is when I get the chance to have a day with Em. Once we went to Seattle together...she's so calm cool and collected, didn't get ruffled even when we spent $$$ on the wrong train tickets.

The kids are waiting for me to take them to the I can't concentrate. But I will say this: I am super thankful for Emily.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

rainy, chilly, dark, cold, wet, and....cozy!

It's a day not fit for man nor beast, with the rain pouring down, temperatures hovering around freezing. The day was dark, the skies gray, damp and chilly. I'm home now, home from the grocery store and the kids' gymnastics class...time to make dinner, but first, a rest with my feet up, the fake fireplace cranking out some heat...

It is time to make dinner, we're having taco salad. It is time to get out of my comfy chair and start that.

We went to the zoo yesterday!

These three were in the back seat...Miss Camille, cousin Davian, and Miss Charlotte Claire.

Little granddaughter Lydia was there with Mali....

Lydia was happy there at the zoo. She liked the monkeys, because she loves Curious George. She also liked being able to walk around. It was a nice day outside, not warm or anything, but hey, it was above freezing!

The dogs are all sleeping, the girls are doing homework, Margaret is here working, it is quiet...but it's time to make dinner....

Saturday, January 14, 2017

where have I been, where am I going...

In the last few years, I have been to...


Seattle, Washington
Washington, D.C.

Drove to California, so visited several states
Washington D.C.
Norway, with a day in London
California again
Washington D.C. again

This year doesn't look as promising, but we are most likely driving to Florida next month. Paul is going to India, then to Ireland. I told him he could take me to Ireland if he wants. He DOES want, but it ain't happening. I just hope he travels a lot so he can accumulate frequent flyer miles.

I also really want to go to D.C. again for a weekend with Samuel before he gets out of the Army, which will be happening by May. Sam is good at being in the Old Guard, and could definitely re-enlist, but thankfully he isn't. I am proud of him, he looks so spiffy in his uniform, but he misses home, friends, family, and is ready to go to college.

Evelyn and I are going on an adventure today...thrift store hopping. I am looking for an old dresser to chalk paint/re-do, for over near the door. Evelyn loves to browse and linger, dawdle, and explore, so she's the perfect companion for this.

Friday, January 13, 2017

all the days and the elusive skinny me....

The tricky part of writing a blog is realizing that people actually read it. For example, if you knew your husband was a reader, you would want to only write nice things about him, and hopefully you would anyway. If you knew your grocery store cashiers read it, you wouldn't want to vent how witchily you were treated when you asked that your bread not be under the canned tomatoes. If you knew your kids' teachers read it, you would maybe tread lightly on how little you care if they miss school. Thinking about the readers, about the audience, whom you are writing for can paralyze the I try really hard to just write, and not think about offending anyone. This also has to be done without jeopardizing anyone's personal privacy, after all, my life is intertwined with so many other lives, and while I may have a daily story to tell, it isn't always mine to tell...

Our minivan is up at the collision shop for repairs. The other minivan needs a few new tires, so Jonathan and I are heading to Walmart today to do that before more snow hits. Jon made all the tire phone calls yesterday. He had to go out to the van and get the tire number/size, then call around to find out prices and see who had them in stock. He's getting a well-rounded education.

The little girls haven't been out much so I will take them out and about too, we sometimes do our schoolwork in the afternoon.

Here are some random thoughts about losing weight....

1. There is a deceitful voice in my head that tells me that I will be extremely happy when I finally get thin. (I know this isn't true, because I was thin when I was young, and that same voice told me I wasn't thin enough)(This voice also tells me I would be completely and totally happy if I lived in one of those really nice houses with granite countertops, ha)

2. I have eased away from eating sugar again, and I feel much better, but the pounds haven't melted off. Okay, so it's only been since this past Monday. And during the week last week, until the weekend. See the pattern? I have to behave this weekend, or all the hard work during the week is lost.

3. I have maintained a large weight loss for almost six years now. This is hard work, even though I am not skinny, I have managed to not regain it all. At the doctor's office, I was officially sixty pounds less than 6 years ago. (their scale is higher than mine at home of course). This could be better, I have gained some back, have been holding steady here for months upon months, losing a little, gaining it, losing it again. It's hard work, and I am not even getting thin.

4. But. I am not going to give up. I am trying extra hard to avoid sugar and those pesky fast burning carbohydrates.

5. I "knew" a woman who lost like a hundred fifty pounds. She was a local woman, wrote a column in the newspaper. She suffered, she worked so hard, she walked every day, she gave up donuts, she bared her soul in that column, and the words she wrote so honestly really resonated with me...I mean, who could admit that she couldn't even buy boxes of 100 calorie snacks because she would eat the entire box? This woman was realistic, and she was very successful. She lost all that weight...then she died anyway. For a long time, I wondered why she stopped writing...then I googled her name, and there it was, in the obituaries. Now I am not stupid, I know everyone dies. But she wasn't very old, she didn't have weight loss surgery, she lost her weight the old fashioned way. I was just disappointed and sad that she suffered so thin...and died within a few years. You would think she guaranteed herself some extra years, and would be able to enjoy her new thin body for a bit. Even though I didn't take the plunge and actually start my weight loss journey when I was reading her columns, I took what she said to heart...

Kids are up now. I talked to Benjamin, my son from Washington state, on the phone for a while, then the kids got up, so it's no longer the quiet morning house...bye!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

vacation! and messes and real life....

Real life: dogs poop. They SHOULD do it on the edge of the yard, in the woods. So sometimes someone has to go out in the yard and do some raking and shoveling. And, those same dogs should never ever get into the garbage. But they do. So someone has to go out and pick it up.

The car insurance estimate adjuster guy called me as I was raking this morning, said he was on his way, several hours earlier than I had expected. Now, it's not like I had to dress up for the queen, but still...I thought I would change out of Jonathan's huge boots, take off my work gloves and wash my hands.

So...vacation: we are most likely going to Florida! We have gone a few times in the last few years, but this does not diminish the absolute excitement of the whole thing! Even the car ride, as long as it is (about 20 hours), is an adventure, driving through the states, maybe stopping into Walmart in South Carolina just to hear their accents...breakfast in Georgia, the same. We like to stop for the night on the Georgia coast, the ocean there is beautiful. Paul cannot go on this trip because he has so many things going on at work right now, and we are laving when he is leaving for India.

Anyway, yay!!!

Sunshine and warm air...ahhh.

Emily and Mirielle are having a good time in South Africa. They went to the Indian Ocean...

We need to go to the library soon. Today, the twins are visiting...they are five years old now, and so adorable. They love the puppies and the cats. They wanted to go outside, but it's so muddy out there, they have played dollhouse and Star Wars and are coloring now. Miss Lydia is coming over later, and Margaret is here working.

We're bringing the minivan up to the repair shop, too. I can say this, I never get the chance to be bored.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

morning thoughts...

It should be a cozy quiet should be. But one Little Miss Sunshine has her own evil plans. There is a garbage can turned over outside, with the bag that was in it all shredded up, trash littered all over the icy snow. I went out there this morning wearing Jonathan's boots (they're huge, and easy to slip on quickly) to see why Sunny didn't come right back in with Suri and Duke. Well, because she was having a little party! First of all, you must know this: here in central New York state, we had freezing rain yesterday afternoon. Lots of it. Our little world is covered in a sheet of ice. The cars are glazed, and the yard is like a skating rink. So for me to navigate the deck steps then waddle across the yard in those huge boots...I had my arms out for balance, like I was walking on the was so slippery! I picked up the main garbage, but I was sliding everywhere, and hey, if I go down, it would be you know...the bigger you are the harder you fall.

So I left some of it out there, decorating the side yard. That just about screams that we'll have unexpected company today.

Tomorrow, the insurance adjuster is coming to check out the minivan.

And today, Margaret is coming over to work from home from here, because she doesn't have internet yet at her new apartment. (yay!)(I miss her!)

But for right now, I am the only one up besides the doggies.

We are going to gymnastics this afternoon. It's supposed to warm up, the ice will melt, the yard will get soggy, and I will have to wipe 12 paws each time these guys come back into the house. But I shouldn't look at it that way...I get to wipe paws as they excitedly wag and greet me and try to lick my face and beg for treats (they always get a treat when they come inside). It's really not that bad.

As I was telling Terre, I have been had a multitude of excuses run through my head regarding the medical tests I am supposed to have. Excuse why I don't need them, which leads me to two I afraid of what will be found, or of what WON'T be found? Hearing the words, "You're found, the tests are all clear!", is what I want! Of course! Of course of course of course! I don't want anything to be wrong! But there is a tiny part of me, the pride part, that feels like if there's nothing wrong, it's a huge waste of time and money. And I won't even get into the money part, our insurance is awful. But my mother always said, "A lady doesn't talk about money", ha. Not really.

I do miss my mother these days. I wish I had asked her more questions. When you're young, you just think the world is a stable place, a place where people will always remain. You don't imagine that one day you realize that you won't be able to talk to your mom or dad ever again in your entire life. You can't possibly imagine a world where uncles and aunts and cousins and friends have died.

From my teenage perspective, back in the tenth grade, when my mother was battling breast cancer, yes, I worried. She had an invasive cancer that was in the lymph nodes, and back then, the mastectomy surgery was very radical. She lost muscle in her upper arms, and could barley brush her own hair...wait, she lost her hair. She was sick from the chemo, but back then, there wasn't Zofran. The chemo itself was harsher, less "refined". I worried she would die. I went with her sometimes to her doctor's appointments. She was always fun, didn't complain. I think she figured that if she didn't have much time left, she would make the most of it. I didn't even realize how much she must have been suffering, because she really didn't let on.

She lived another 25 years, but had a heart attack, and then kidney failure, nine years on dialysis.

I wish I had comforted her more, taken care of her more. During those years, I was having babies and was busy, she died when Miss Charlotte Claire was newborn. Oh, when Char was born, I brought her over to see my parents when she was only like three days old because my mother wasn't well enough to go to the hospital, and my dad had leukemia. My mother held her and was so thrilled to meet her. I'm glad I did that. It's a good memory. My poor mother. Her heart wasn't tolerating the dialysis so well at that point. They would have to stop it half way, and sometimes she ended up going to the hospital in an ambulance because of heart issues...she knew her days were numbered, so after that one last time of ending up in the E.R. from dialysis, she decided to just discontinue. That meant a matter of days were left to her. She was firm in her decision, wasn't afraid to die, she said. She didn't really have much choice, other than to try to continue those three times a week dialysis sessions, and hope she didn't have a stroke or heart attack in the chair. That is rather discouraged, ha. So she stayed in the hospital when they brought her in that last Friday...she checked right into the palliative care floor, and that was it. She lived until Thursday morning. And that week is a whole 'nother story, sad but also very uplifting. You can really see the character of a person when the trials are serious, and she just shined. She seemed genuinely glad to be ending her suffering, and just lit up that she was, "going to be with Jesus!"

Anyway. I miss her so much. She was a calming presence, a voice of reason, and also so much fun.

Paul has bone broth in the crock pot. I do not like the smell of it, but he thinks it smells great. It simmers there for days, steeping the I have a pan of water with cinnamon bubbling on the stove to try to cover it up. The kids are going to wake up and think we're having cinnamon rolls.

Last night, I made rosemary chicken breast strips, and a huge salad. It's nice to put all the salad toppings in bowls so we can take what we like. There was also fresh Italian bread...I took the tiny little heal piece, and had to slap my own hands to stop from reaching for more, it was so good. I love bread! Just love it! But it doesn't love me.

I also made homemade keto crackers's the recipe, which I stole from

1 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese ( substituted some of this with cheddar cheese)
3/4 cup almond flour
2 tablespoons of cream cheese

microwave this for a little bit at a time, stir, get it melted just a tiny bit.
put into kitchen aid and mix it up with the dough hook (I have mixed it by hand too, it's possible). Add an egg. Mix more.

Add seasonings! I added crushed red pepper, garlic, onion powder, salt, pepper, rosemary...

Roll it out between two pieces of parchment paper, then put on baking sheet...remove top paper. Bake until brown on edges, put paper back on top, flip over, remove top sheet again, and bake a bit more...I sliced it up into cracker sized pieces before baking the second time, with a pizza wheel.

They are so good!

This is the same recipe as I use for pizza dough...and bye, Margaret is here.