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, September 19, 2014

yummy friday!!! and, no shock!

Yesterday afternoon, I made two pear pies.

Jonathan and I went for a nice long afternoon walk, then decided to pick some pears from the tree in the front yard.

We had been out shopping.....

We went to the dollar store, BigLots (we bought baby food there, and ate some in the car. I love apricots/applesauce mix, the kids had apples/bananas. We had to buy a package of spoons, too, but it was worth it because I have a project in mind for the empty jars....). We bought a few fun things for 90% off: these cute flowers to put on the girls' bedroom walls, and solar flowers with gemstones that light up really amazingly...the kids learned that 90% of $12 makes the item a dollar twenty.)(Buying a few trinkets to make a room look cool and promising them for when the room gets clean is an excellent motivation to get the room clean!) We went to BJ's for milk and chicken and shampoo and conditioner and some girly things, which Jonathan explained to his little sisters. Oh, if I could have videoed it! He is SO funny, all seriously telling his little sisters that they were going to get their periods when they got older. I just let him go, it IS a natural part of life, after all. And he does have NINE older sisters. Anyway, we went to the grocery store last, for frozen veggies and eggs and canned veggies and pasta and sauce and coffee and...some bulk candy. I let them choose a few pieces, and weigh and punch the numbers in themselves.

Home to put it all away and clean up and start dinner...I made a few cookie sheets full of meatballs, put them in the oven, and out the door for my walk which I had skipped in the morning because of the rain. Jon came with me, and let me tell you, he does not like air in the conversation. We talked about math and how scary the woods are and how many different animals there have been on my walks (snapping turtle, baby skunk, injured chipmunk, a fox, several deer, a few buck, that horrid turkey buzzard/vulture that swooped at me as if I would actually steal his roadkill....and of course the snakes and frogs and all sorts of bugs, butterflies, and then the array of different flowers.....

We got home and picked the pears, and made the pies. Oh, that sounds easy. Just picked pears and made pies. In the middle of it all, kids coming and going and flour everywhere and peeling all those pears...making dinner at the same time, sauce for the meatballs, and a pan of pasta which Paul ended up making when he came in at 7:00....I eat my meatballs and sauce with French cut canned green beans, it is just as good as spaghetti, ha.

Anyway. That was yesterday. Aaron was here in the evening for dinner and pie. We sat around and solved the worlds' problems...

This morning, I had to get up at 5:30. Now, when I know I have to get up early, I wake up a few times to check my phone to make sure I haven't overslept. blah. 3:05 and I was thinking about how to make miniature doll prams, of writing a letter to my son Benjamin and pleading with him not to stay in Washington state because I miss my grand daughter so much it hurts and I cannot even comprehend not being a part of her life...then I started in thinking about all the kids, and praying for them, and on and on....I finally checked the time: 5:01! I had to get up in half an hour. So, I promptly fell asleep. Isn't that the way it goes?

Anyway, Paul and I got in the truck while it was still dark and headed down the highway as the sun came up, in the morning fog. He seemed calm for someone who was going in to get his heart shocked back into sinus rhythm. I tactfully didn't make myself any toast to eat on the way, since he couldn't have anything to eat or drink. I did sip my travel mug of coffee though:). Anyway, he was all hooked up to the monitor, and what do you know? He was in perfect rhythm! The new medicine works! No more A-Fib!

So, after a chat with the cardiologist, and a quick EKG, we were on our way home!

He left for work though...wah.

And, since he doesn't want to be on those medicines for life, we will be going back to the doctor in a few months to discuss him having another catheter ablation done on his heart.

But for today, all is well. The sun is shining, the kids are done with their work, and we are going apple picking! Paul is coming home to go with us, so I had better get up and be ready....

Thursday, September 18, 2014

standing on my own two feet....

There is a verse in the bible, never mind, I will look it up..."For we dare not class ourselves our compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise." (2 Corinth. 10 v. 12).

Oh it is so in me to constantly seeking approval. Social media and all the world's expert opinions just a click away, making it too easy to be second guessing everything I do. Even scrolling through Facebook in the morning can make me feel sadly lacking. I can't put brick on my mailbox post, in fact that wouldn't even make it to my to do list, even if there were a thousand things on it. I can't make Oreo cookie brownies covered in peanutbutter and fudge. Seriously? Eating Oreo cookies alone is deadly enough!

But comparing myself to my Facebook friends isn't as stupid as comparing myself to my Real Life friends. I have some extremely capable friends! They wouldn't let their dogs sleep on their couches, or probably let their kids have a random living room sleepover, you know, the kind where they drag everything they own from their room, to make it cozy! They PROMISE to clean it all up the next day, but when you gently remind them the next day, they assure you they aren't DONE with their sleepover yet. Then they decide to make a fort....

Anyway. I have a friend, and don't get me wrong, I love her! But she was planning what to do for dinner on Saturday...LAST SUNDAY. Six days in advance, because she had a busy week coming up. um, I didn't mention to her that...I didn't even know what I was having for dinner that very day.

I try. I really do. Once in a while I will make a loose meal plan, which I seem to abandon at a moment's notice, like if one of my older kids suggests a fun outing. Aw heck, I say, we can have today's meal tomorrow.

I try to keep the clean clothes off the couch, too. I hardly ever dump a hot load from the dryer there. It's usually one of the older kids who is in a hurry, and doesn't have the foggiest where to put the clean stuff.

Once in a while, I'll clean and organize a cupboard. I'll be so proud of it, I'll say to the kids, "Hey, did you see how clean the spice cupboard is?"

I like to see lots of results when I clean, like on those commercials where they swipe the sponge across the counter and leave a streak of cleanness several shades brighter.

This year I am homeschooling five of my kids. In my heart, I know it's the right thing to do. Most people, in my opinion, are like sheep. They don't question the establishment, they just do it because everyone else does it. They think life will just go on forever, never realizing how extremely priceless and precious all the moments that add up to ten or eleven years of childhood just fly by. Why should that be wasted sitting in class while perhaps The Kid Who Always Is Bad takes up ten minutes of the teacher's time, and ten minutes of my child's short life, making all the kids perhaps put their heads down on their desk, or sit quietly and miss some playtime because they are all so noisy? (Kids are noisy! Let them be noisy!) Anyway. Not that I let my kids be noisy all day either, I just think school sucks the very life out of their bones, then sends them home all hollow and weary, with homework!

Anyway. Just my take on things.

Charlotte Claire looks adorable today. I braided her hair yesterday, and today it's all crimpy and curly.

Camille is reading, "Purpleicious", and Char is playing with the kitten and the dogs. Duke gives a scary warning snarl to that kitten, that kitten who just innocently attacks Duke's tail and hops over and bats at Suri, standing on her little kitty hind legs, making her a hilarious little jouster. Suri just looks at me like, REALLY?

We need groceries. I know, what a good homeschooling mom, taking her kids to the store! Shouldn't they be sitting at the kitchen table with their books open? Well, yeah, probably. But I will talk to them the whole way there and the whole way back. My kids know about prices and sales and what's good for them. Ha, what a good justification for not doing much bookwork today:)

The older two are working hard on their school work though.

"I yam who I yam and that's all I yam.", as Popeye used to say.

I had a nice visit with Paul's mom last evening. She is like the Energizer Bunny. She's 85, and had on a pair of jeans and a t-shirt, looks better than I ever will. She has all these cross stitch projects going, she doesn't sit still for a minute...I know where Paul gets it. Mr. Fidget. Anyway, she is lovely and we had a nice visit.

And the natives are getting restless....

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

beautiful day....

Aah, life is good....

Today, we went to the zoo. It was a perfect day for it. We went with my brother Bob and one of his grandchildren, a sweet little girl, A., whom he babysits for. (he is retired.). (the penguins are adorable!)

My little girls loved helping with A., they got to pretend to be big sisters.

The lion washed her paws for us, and her friend got up, stretched, and took a nice drink from their little pond. We wanted to go in and pet them.

I walked this morning before our zoo trip, which went against all reasoning, because hey, I was going to be walking at the zoo! But we all know that walking briskly down the road, up and down hills, is not the same as strolling through the zoo with curious little girls.

We got home from our adventure, and dang it, I hadn't swept or washed any dishes before we went, so...blah.

A pot of coffee and some air-popped popcorn, and I had snack ready for the girls who came home on the bus. is busy here. Camille is excited about today's Activity Club kickoff at Emily and Abigail and Mirielle's house. She keeps asking me how much longer. Then she asks to watch television, which I continue to say no to. She can either read a book, play with her toys, or write a story about today's zoo trip. She is reading, "Junie B. Jones And The Yucky Blucky Fruitcake."

Charlotte Claire is playing with the kitten.

The older kids are all here, and it it too distracting to write, besides, I would rather talk to them.

Monday, September 15, 2014

never a dull moment....

Miss Charlotte Claire is sick. She complained on Saturday that she wasn't feeling well, then by the time we were headed to the airport to pick up Paul from France, it was clear that she had something going on. We had spent the day at the church soccer tournament, and all of the youth kids were going to have a barbecue. We needed some dinner, so I stopped at Arby's and got them a few things. Char only wanted hot tea. No fries, nothing, just tea. Hmm. Then she started saying how cold she was. dang.

This morning, she is throwing up. Now, Miss Char is 8 years old, and she is very capable and self-reliant. She knows how to make it to the bathroom. I feel sorry for her, but she is cheery. She doesn't have to do any school work today, because she says if she reads she will feel dizzy. So the poor girl is all snuggled on the couch with Suri, who thinks it's wonderful to have someone to cuddle with.

And, today I am taking the other home schoolers to the library. Joseph will look after Miss Char:)

Camille is doing some morning work, the new kitten is hopping around exploring, and I need to get moving. I thought I would have time to write, but nah. Not now.

I did get up and take my walk this morning, yay me. Now to just detox from sugar and all things bad and evil, like pumpkin spice coffee from Dunkin Donuts. Way too many calories, but it is SO good.

One thing I realize is that I need concentrate more on what I CAN eat, instead of just avoiding all the bad stuff. The spinach and cauliflower and those lo-cal crunchy things I eat peanut butter on... I need to stock up on those. The apple/almond snack instead of getting too hungry, the tea in the evening instead of popcorn. (Paul brought back chocolate from France. These little squares of dark chocolate are SO good, they taste almost peppery, are so dark but not dry and chalky...I am glad there is a limited amount:)(he passed out big bars to Margaret, Kathryn, Evelyn, Suzanne, Jon...and KinderEggs for the princesses...)

Anyway...I need to get moving.

Friday, September 12, 2014

aahhh, friday how I love thee....

But then, I love all the days. Today, there is a soccer tournament starting at church, with Kathryn and Joseph both playing. I need to go to the store in town to get some things for lunch, and head out there to watch some soccer with the kids.

Yesterday we had a nice visit from Grandma. She brought some nice outfits for the three little kids. Jonathan really liked his new jacket and shirt, but the little girls are absolutely thrilled with their clothes. It spurred them to play shopping, they got out their little shopping carts that I have been thinking of getting rid of...

Grandma is quite a lady. She is 85 years old, and does not have time to not feel well, she has things to do. She refers to herself as a, "mean old lady", but she really has a heart of gold. She has always remembered all of our birthdays and has been so good to us. She is absolutely organized, and is the polar opposite of a procrastinator. If something needs doing, she simply gets it done. I want to be just like her when I grow up:)

I did get up and take my walk this morning, which wasn't easy, considering that I was making a triple batch of chocolate chip cookies at 11 o'clock last night. Aaron came for a visit:) When the house was finally quiet, I crawled into my comfy bed, where the princesses were snuggled, and finished the book I was reading. So...when 7 a.m. came around, oh I wasn't ready to get up. Margaret had to wake me up, again, because I needed to sign her note for her being late yesterday. Once I am awake, I am awake.

So here I am, awake. I have a million things to do, too.

But writing is important too. (Charlotte Claire is eating a bowl of berries and a chocolate chip cookie for breakfast).

Have I mentioned how much I love homeschooling? I totally wish I had done it years ago. I would have, but I always thought that kids need the hard knocks of life, to some extent. I didn't want to shelter them, or baby them. I thought it best for them to go out that door to school, even though it practically killed me. I sent them because I thought it was good for them. And who knows? They are fine. Each and every year, I considered homeschooling. Benjamin actually homeschooled for his last few years of high school, and he is doing exceptionally well. Then Kathryn decided to, and we let Jon...then this summer I realized how fast Camille catches on to math, and thought about how well she seemed to me that school was almost slowing her down. My two little girls going to school made me sad, they were learning things on the bus, and were always tired. They had homework every night, which ate into the measly four hours they had between coming home and having to go to bed, so they could get up in the morning and do the same thing all over again. We were continuously counting the days to the weekends, and taking days off here and there just to chill or to go on adventures.

Once I got the idea of teaching them here, it just burned within me, just made me so happy. But it was their choice. I suggested it, and they started talking about the pros and cons. They were simply all for it! I thought perhaps when Real School started, they would feel like they were missing out, but they didn't care at all. I ask the sometimes, and they have no regrets. They know they can go back next year if they really want to:)

I also know that just as kids who start off the year in Real School and get sick of it after the initial newness wears off, these guys might start grumbling about being here. I am bound and determined to just take that as a challenge to make things more interesting.

There are different ways to learn things. Reading, writing, math, proper punctuation, using certain words correctly. Your/you're, already/all ready, then/than....oh dear. Using apostrophes correctly seems to be a lost art too. So there are things kids need to learn. The solar system, history, geography...very important.

But, playing is very important for kids too. Yesterday when I was looking for the playdough, (I got rid of most of it, we had too much and I thought they were outgrowing it), I found these hanging lanterns and crepe paper balls that hang from the ceiling. So, we hung them with some clear Christmas lights in Jon's room. That spurred the kids to want to play in there, so they got out the Little Tikes waffleblocks, Lego, Hess trucks...and played for a few hours. That kind of unstructured playing is good for kids.

And, off I the store and the bank then the soccer tournament.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

this old lady is tired!

(Suri and I) I meant the dog, of course. We went on a small hike, across a big bridge, then through the woods....

Suri didn't care for the bridge, and I don't blame her. It was scary, and lots of work for her not to let her paws slip through. And lest you think me mean to bring her across this bridge, note that on the other side was freedom...I let her off the leash, and she bounded. She sniffed and explored, but mostly stayed with us. She liked to hop down the path right along side the kids.

Jonathan, Char, and Camille and I.

See, I promised them if they did all their school work today while I was gone grill shopping with Emily, I would take them somewhere fun. And believe me when I say that I seriously didn't want to do anything but put my feet up after going to Wegman's (only for a coffee, Em says they have the best. I mixed dark roast and pumpkin spice, yum), BJ's, Tops, and Real Deals, then to the church to put it all away....

The kids did all their work, with help and encouragement from their big sisters. So, I was on the hook to go bye-bye again. The older kids were all going to the youth meeting soon anyway, so I left with Jon, Char, Cam, and Suri. We didn't bring Duke too because he isn't "fixed", and what if there was a cute female dog? All reason leaves that dog when he smells a dog in heat. BTW, we got him last year at 8 years old, and decided he was too old to neuter, although I still would like to have it done. Anyway, tangent.

We went on an adventure. We walked across that bridge and down the path through the woods for a while. It got rather warm (or was that just me?), and the mosquitoes started finding us. I was tired enough to come home and put my feet up, once again, then Char had the bright idea that we should go to the Rec. Center pool. um, really? It did NOT sound good to me, but I heard myself agree to it. I even told Charlotte Claire that it was a good idea. Faith and all that, you know?

So home to get the suits and towels, and drop off Suri, and off we went, again.

We stopped at the library in town. We wandered around, got a few Barbie movies, a Judy Moody book, another I Spy book,a Star Wars movie, and a few books for me.

The pool WAS a grand idea, I told Miss Char. It was relaxing and it really felt wonderful to get into the water after being so busy today.

Home...ah home. I wanted to bake the cake for tomorrow's Cast Party for this past summer's church play, but I decided to put it off until tomorrow. It was the night to crack into the frozen pizza rolls for the kids. I had cauliflower tossed in butter and hot sauce, microwaved pepperoni, and a bowl of popcorn cooked in coconut oil and drizzled with butter, salt, and pepper. Yeah, I am healthy like that.:)

The girls are sleeping in my bed again, I get just a small bit of room near the edge, but there is something so cozy about having sleepovers with those little girls.

Tomorrow I have to bake that cake, and maybe some cupcakes or cookies too, for the cast party. I will get up and go for my walk, no matter what. I have laundry to do, and the floors will surely need to be swept...the dog hair, ugh.

I miss Paul this trip more than usual. He is in France again.

It's late, and I am tired for some reason. ha.

Monday, September 8, 2014

and a sunny monday morning it is....

As nice as an occasional walk with another person is nice, walking alone is conducive to really good thinking. Sometimes I pray for my friends and family, sometimes I give myself pep talks about staying away from sugar, sometimes I clean whole rooms in my head and figure out where to put things. Sometimes I just breathe, and try to clear my mind from the barrage of little things I know I have to do.

I'm glad I didn't listen to myself and just skip that walk this morning. I swear, I am my worst enemy when it comes to these things. My excuse this morning: I don't want to go for a walk in these ridiculous capris! Now, they ARE silly, these sweatpants of mine. They go to between the knee and ankle, but they are loose at the bottom, not fitted, so they look just bum-y. They are Adidas, black with these three 80's looking stripes down the sides. Paul asked me one time why I had Adidas pants. Because duh, they were three dollars at the thrift store!

I am not one to wander into Walmart in my jammies, nor do I go shopping in sweatpants. Even if I go pick someone up from school or drop a kid off at a friend's house, I change into presentable clothes. Perhaps I have a deep seated paranoia that if I dress slobby, I will be certain to get into an accident. (We already know that kids get hurt and have to go to the E.R. when my hair needs a wash, ha.) The other night, I actually went to Emily/Abigail/Mali's house in these capris and my new doggy t-shirt from my mother-in-law. I do like the t-shirt, it's comfy and cute, but overall, I am not a t-shirt girl. Anyway, I don't usually leave the house in my Around The House clothes.

Off On A Tangent, I am too good at that game.

My point was that it doesn't take much for me to talk myself out of my morning walk, for some reason. I enjoy it, but getting myself to do it is a daily struggle.

Same with eating right and making good choices. It will ALWAYS be a battle for me.

Saturday I worked at a bake sale for church. It wasn't the pies and cookies and cinnamon buns on our table that just about killed me. It was the stand that made freshly fried donuts. From the fryer to the cinnamon and sugar, to the customer. The smell, oh the heavenly aroma...and the bad thing? They tasted just as good as they smelled. It was my lunch, okay? One donut. Just one. I also bought a chocolate chip cookie and a cinnamon bun from our table, but only tasted them, and I do mean just one small bite, and gave the rest to Sonja K. and Irene, who were helping at the bake sale. That donut, not a good lunch, but oh so yum.

Yesterday, Abigail and Jonathan were working at that bake sale. It was at a harvest festival, and I had decided to take the little girls there after church, leaving the older ones at soccer practice, ect.

Jonathan and I waited in the long line for more donuts, I had only one, and it was my lunch, again. I passed the other ones out, and gave the remaining few away to a friend...:) Anyway, we had fun at the festival, especially at the petting zoo. There were puppies at that petting zoo. They looked like yellow labs, but were a creamy white color, and were absolutely adorable. The kids were allowed to go right into the pen with them, and of course mine did. They just played and played with those puppies. Jonathan asked the owners how much the puppies were, and yeah, $500. It was so funny though, Jon and Char and Camille were standing there adding up how much money they had and trying to figure out if they had enough. They came up with under two hundred, and asked me if I could pitch in the rest. Oh you guys, we aren't getting one of those puppies. I should have stopped them right away, but they were hysterically cute trying to figure out if they could buy one. At one point Jon said, "Wait, we don't have our money with us. Abigail, do you have some we could borrow for now?" Um, no.

So I brought them in the food tent and bought them a slice of pizza.

We stopped at the store on the way home for some apples and bananas and chicken and eggs and bread.

Then we stopped for ice cream, and yeah, I had one. It was pumpkin! Soft pumpkin ice cream. Need I say more?

But today is Monday, a new day, a new week, and I am going to behave.

Today I have bills to pay and kids to teach and things to clean up and things to organize. It is still quiet here, but soon it will be busy and loud and crazy.