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

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

rain, rain, go away....

but too bad, I walked anyway.

and this doesn't seem like much, it's a start, a good start to the day.

So yesterday, my morning started out differently. I drove the three high school girls to school because Evelyn was doing a speech/presentation on how to make a pour-over coffee, and iced coffee, and had lots of equipment to bring. They had extra time, and were very thankful they didn't have to take the bus, so it was worth postponing the morning walk. (I went later!). I decided since I had such an early start and was dressed in bye bye clothes, I would go to the grocery store while I was out, all by myself, after dropping them off at school.

My first stop was Aldi, but dang it, I was out TOO early, it didn't open for an hour. So I went to the big grocery store across the street, and had the store just about all to myself, mostly me, and the workers. I leisurely ripped out coupons for things on sale, and got some shampoo and girly supplies and cleaning products, without having any kids sighing and rolling their eyes at how mom takes SO LONG.

I truly enjoyed myself.

Then, Aldi! That parking lot filled up fast. I had wanted to get there ASAP, because they just had a new ad come out, and they had swings for $7.99, with the ropes and hooks and everything! I got two of those round disk swings, one for the tree in the front yard (in the same tree as our big webbed swing), and one for the swingset in the back yard, which has been looking like a kid with missing teeth for a few years now. I also got two regular swings for $7.99 each, and the girls put them up as soon as I got home. Now there are four swings, a glider, a round disk swing, and a baby swing on the swing set.

Aldi had too many good things, I had to just walk past them. Their prices are so good, but it still adds up. And did I really need the big outside clock/thermometer? Or the squishy footrest-seat thing? Or MORE throw pillows for the deck? (I got an outdoor rocking chair there last month for $24, and I LOVE it. It's SO comfy!)

Anyway. It's raining cats and dogs, I walked, and didn't melt.

Getting into good habits means breaking through the excuses. I know myself, it's never going to be free sailing, but it does get easier when you just do it.

So Adrian is a very handy son-in-law. He built the front porch in no time flat, and then he built Evelyn a raised bed garden box. He used all old deck lumber for the garden box, and mostly old lumber for the front porch, but new decking and railing wood. So yesterday after school, Evelyn and I headed out to get potting soil and a few more plants for her box. We put down old wood in the bottom, then landscaping fabric, then filled it up, and planted wildflower seeds, and put in some flower plants.

Our new deck needs to be stained, so yesterday we carried all the chairs and tables down to the yard, ha people are going to be slowing down, thinking there's a yard sale here. I had just put up strings of solar lights, so I had to take those down, they are long and tangly. We plan to wash it up nicely today in the rain, then let it dry for most of tomorrow, which is forecast to be sunny, then stain it in the afternoon when it's in the shade. It's supposed to be sunny and dry on Thursday and Friday too, which will give it a few days to dry properly.

It's hard to find a stretch of days to do these things here in the northeast, with our frequent rainy days. But I'll say this: I don't mind a rainy day. Today is so overcast and gloomy and comfy. I love it. Even walking in the rain wasn't a hardship, the drops pelting on my hood reminded me of camping in the rain. And rain brings out the good smells of the lilacs and fresh grass. There was something dead down near the woods though, and yuckkers, I walked a little faster by that.


Last evening, I found myself home with just Jonathan and Camille. The older girls all went to a girls' fellowship night at Emily-Abigail-Mirielle's house, where they had a fire and celebrated Charlotte Claire's birthday. Camille isn't in the youth group yet:) Paul works in the evenings now, so anyway...I offered them to do something fun. We threw some ideas around, which is honestly the most fun part, then decided to just go to town, four miles down the road, and get some take-out Chinese, and rent a Redbox movie. We got sesame chicken, and the movie, "Wonder".

Kathryn is making a nice breakfast for the homeschooled kids, and we have work to do...:)

Saturday, May 19, 2018

terrible day!!!

It is POURING out. I have yet to venture out for my morning walk, despite telling myself how I am certain not to melt. Maybe in a little while...

It's not really a terrible day, although when people work Monday through Friday, when the sun is shining and the birds are singing, then on Saturday, the rain and gloom set in, ouch. And today is a big day, Mali is moving into an apartment with little Lydia. It's sad because they lived in a house with daddy, but things were complicated, and as it' guessed it...not my story to tell,so we will leave it at that. But Paul and at least ten of our kids are pitching in and helping her move. It's been a long time coming, and these things are never easy, though in the long run, are for the best. I love Mali and Lydia with all of my heart, and am praying for them, that they can adjust and find peace and happiness.

I could have, maybe should have, gone to help too. But I decided that I would stay here and make cookies, and some almond bread, and have dinner ready-ish for later, because everyone is landing here for burgers, coneys, and hot dogs on the grill, after the move. So I am here blogging, the dogs are snoring, and one Orange Guy kitty is sleeping behind my computer, sprawled on my legs. My first coffee of the day is empty, if I could get a refill without disturbing the cat, I would be in hog heaven.

I do feel a teeny tiny bit guilty about being so gung-ho about helping, then staying home, but hey, someone has to prepare the feast! And someone has to sneak in a little bit of peace and quiet every once in a while!

The dogs are seriously snoring, both of them, one on each couch.

I have all the ingredients out and measured for the cookies, and the boxes of pasta on the counter for the pasta salad. I was bustling around doing things as the kids and Paul grabbed brekky and coffees and headed out the door, but then when the house was quiet...I decided to have a nice little break, ha.

Yesterday, Charlotte Claire, Camille, and I took back the cans and bottles, and got $16.25. I handed it right to Cam, for our trip fund. Paul and I and the two of them are saving up for a trip to Norway next summer.

Afterward, we went to the ice cream place, Kathryn was there after the school's Grandparents and Special Friends Day, she went for little Linnea, one of my niece's twins. My sister's daughter Claire and her husband, and two little ones, are still in town since my sister's youngest daughter got married. Claire and her hubby live in Australia, so it's a big thing to see them. I visited a bit, but did not have any ice cream, which was sheer torture, but I vowed not to eat it unless I go to the place which has the really good homemade stuff.

But later, after the youth girls went to a dinner and bon-fire, and Jon left to go hang out with his friends, Camille and I went to the pool. We met Abigail there, and Ashley and Anya and baby Elise (Elise loves the pool!). While still in the locker room, I ordered chicken wings and one slice of pepperoni pizza (for Camille), and picked it up on the way home. Paul and I and Camille watched the finale of Master Chef Junior while eating our wings. Is that not the ending of a perfect day? Then the girls and Jonathan came tumbling back into the house from their fun, and it was crazy in here again.

One thing's for sure, you don't automatically lose a pound when you turn down ice cream. It's just not fair. I see these people cutting back, cutting things out, and they slim down magically, and I just stay the same, no matter what. Okay, I know, I do cheat here and there, but it takes DAYS to drop the cheat pounds, then I maintain, until it happens again, and duh, I know, never cheat and it'll work, and duh, I'll be thin in no time. But this is taking YEARS. And now that I type this, I do remember this: oops, yesterday for dinner before the pool, I had, wait for it: five or six squares of that Italian milk chocolate with natural peanut butter on top. With hot coffee, in my comfy chair, after going in the pool here (yuck, I tried to scoop the middle stuff from the bottom, and ended up breaking the leaf scoop, the handle snapped in half, and the green slimy leaves and stuff from the bottom of the pool went all over into the water, which is good in the long run because then the filter works it out, but yuckers), anyway, I was chilly, and this snack was superb, but oh my, celery and peanut butter would have been the smart choice.

Here's what I ate yesterday: eggs and bacon for brekky. One 15 calorie popsicle. One 40 cal. fudge-pop. The chocolate with peanut butter. ONE small chocolate covered peanut butter pretzel, which we had gotten on clearance from Ollies, Christmas snacks, for 28 cents a bag. I told Camille not to give me another one even if I chased her around the deck, and she didn't, that little brat, ha, it was THAT GOOD, but I only had one. And I only verbally chased her around the deck. Then I had the chicken wings after the pool. So I walked, then swam in the evening, but oh no, didn't lose an ounce.

I try to eat only two meals a day, very low carbs, like eggs for breakfast, and meat and veggies for dinner, but I just don't drop pounds like you would think. I wonder if my body thinks I'm starving or something. Or if those little chocolate days hold the pounds. Or the few days a week I eat popcorn. Whatever. It is a good day anyway, although I am convinced it would be better if I was fifty pounds lighter. Every once in a while I remember my old Aunt Boots, she was overweight all her life, then she got cancer. She had a huge picnic at her house, to say goodbye to everyone, which was really really sad...and one thing she said was, "Well, I'm finally thin..."

So it's not the Be All, to be thin. Life is still good. But that being said, I'm NOT giving up.

Friday, May 18, 2018

that perfect day...

Today is a perfect day. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and Evelyn is here at home because she isn't going on the senior trip. I went on my walk, making it the full week, yay me. But all isn't sunshine and roses, I am not in the best shape. I walk my way through it, but the aches and pains are certainly there.

Paul doesn't have to work today, it's his Saturday because he is on Singapore time, readying for his trip there next month, and working with the office there. His schedule has changed to going to work for the afternoon evening, but his mornings are still filled with work calls.

Our pool is getting cleaner, it just needs to warm up and get hot again. We've had a few beautiful days. Yesterday, Charlotte Claire, Camille, and I went to the grocery store for some basics, like bananas and lettuce and chicken and eggs. We went into Kohl's really quickly, and the girls found a few super-clearanced things, with an extra 15% off. Then to Ollies, which I do love. They have things like brand name snacks, Perugina chocolate bars for $1.29. The big yummy one. I had to get a base for the new deck umbrella. Oh, that was a disaster, the new umbrella. I have been wanting one for a few years, but the deck shades over in the afternoon, so it wasn't a necessity, but I wanted one for if anyone wants/needs shade earlier. So, I was at Target, and the really nice one was on sale for 65, and the one I chose was $40. Well, two days after I put it up, I forgot to fold it down in the evening, and the wind picked up, and tipped the table over, and oops, all the new plants we had just gotten from the dollar store, whoopee all over the deck.

I cheaped out and didn't get the base, thought we could just use a pail of sand or something, but hadn't gotten to it yet. I decided to just bite the bullet and go buy a base, Ollie's had one for $6.99. Well, those were all gone, so I had to buy the $17 one. And Paul repaired the bent umbrella for me, he had to cut the bottom off because it was so badly bent. Lesson: remember to fold up your umbrella at night, and perhaps opt for the better one next time.

At Ollie's, I also bought two strings of solar lights for the deck, they looked awesome last night. I tangled them up good trying to put them on, there are 200 lights in each string.

By the time I got home, Paul had left for work, and I felt kind of bad. But today I plan to stay home:)

The kids are finishing up their school year, the three high school girls, and the homeschool kids. Evelyn is graduating! A few of them are planning to work this summer, which is going to be interesting, because I don't particularly want to spend my summer shuttling girls to and from jobs, but they don't exactly have cars. We have the one extra minivan, with no air conditioning, so we will have to work out details.

Anyway. Life is busy but good, not without trials, but trials either bring one closer to God, or make one angry and bitter and dissatisfied with life.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

getting back into it...

To shut down the Reasoning Center, and Just Do It, that's my goal. This morning's excuse, and I kid you not: I don't need to walk, I'm going to the beach, and I'll prob walk a lot there.

I did not heed this bad advice, I went on my walk. Just to be straight here, we're talking a 1.3 mile walk. It's not running half a marathon. There IS an evil hill, and a few other slightly devilish slopes, but it's A WALK. But try convincing my morning mind of that...

What you've got to realize is that isn't "just a walk", as far as mental well-being goes. It's triumphing over laziness, it's getting back a little bit of stamina, it's having more energy for the day, it's making it easier to pass up the sugar.

Anyway. This happened:

Jonathan has been saving up his money, he mows his sisters' lawn, does odd jobs, and this is what he bought, from a friend of ours. I'm happy for Jon, but ugh, as a mama, I don't like these things. Jon was just a wee one when his big brother Benjamin had his terrible accident on his 4-wheeler. (Ben ran into a large tree branch, which ripped into his leg. He was rushed to the hospital, and by the time he got into surgery, the infection from the wood was rushing up the leg, and the surgeon told Paul that Ben might not make it. He did make it, his leg had to be opened up quite a bit to flush out all that stuff, and Ben was in the hospital for a bit, he healed up nicely, and I am thankful for that. but.)

We are going to the beach today. It won't be hot and sultry, but it will be in the seventies and humid. We are going with Ashley and Anya and baby Elise. And hopefully Emily. We are down a vehicle because the check engine light turned on in the red van. Both of our minivans are getting up there in miles, but thankfully we have two of them, so we can still beach while one is in the shop. And hopefully it's nothing too serious. :(

Today is Joseph's birthday! He was born during a heatwave back in 1991. 95 degrees on the day he was born. I remember this because we lived in a mobile home. We had purchased our land on which to build this house, but we were still living in that trailer. (We moved in here when Joe was 11 months old). Our mobile home was hot when it was hot out. And when I got to the hospital at 4 cm dilated, and was offered to stay or go home and come back when I was farther along (which seems crazy with a fifth baby!), I chose to stay, it was much cooler in the hospital. I came in with my sister Cheryl, and some of her kids, and 3 of mine, we had been headed to the mall for the coolness...and I do wonder, who on earth goes to the mall with small children on their due date? We turned around halfway there and all trooped into the hospital because I realized that those pesky little contractions were actually coming five minutes apart...)

I got there at noon and he was born at a quarter to midnight. It was a long day, but such an easy birth, he was born with such minimal effort. He was a long baby, and he didn't like to be swaddled. His feet would just stick right out of those receiving blankets, he stretched right out. He's always been so easygoing.

Anyway. We are supposed to be getting ready for the beach. I like to sit here until the last minute then scurry around like crazy. (Can I just mention how different it is to get ready these days? The kids get their own suits and towels and we don't need to lug the playpen and the pram...)

But we still bring the pails and shovels, because I like building sand castles, ha.

Monday, May 14, 2018

dance like nobody's watchin'..

...and write like nobody's readin'. That's my favorite, to just sit here and write, and not take time to consider whether this would offend this person, or oh wait, does my mother-in-law read this?! (she does:)). My goal in life is to live before God, and as a normal regular person who is filled to the brim with sin, of course I am going to see myself in what I do, in what I write..and that's a good thing! Writing helps me sort things out sometimes, and helps me see what's really important.

I have struggled with what to share/what not to share on this blog. There are personal struggles my kids go through that aren't my stories to tell. So sometimes you might read this and think that I have a good happy life, and that is totally true, because I truly believe that God sends all things for my best, and no matter what happens, there IS a purpose. But what you DON'T see is the situations in my life that I can't share because, like I mentioned, they aren't my stories to tell. My daughter Mali is going through tough times right now, but she is a treasure of a girl, an excellent mama to little Lydia, and I have experienced that God has answered my prayers concerning Mali before, and I KNOW He has His hand on her, but pray for her!


Anyway, I was talking to a mama recently, who has several children, now grown, who had a difficult time being patient when her older kids were little. She insisted she wasn't cut out to be a mother, and she got so sick and tired of being irritated and impatient and downright angry with her kids, she cried out to God for victory, and she worked and worked at being patient when she was tempted...she said that her younger children never saw her angry. She persevered in her prayers, and she got that victory. She said, "If I can do this, anyone can."

Anyway. My life isn't perfect, but I am 100% totally certain that God causes all things to work together for my best.

So I went on my walk again this fine spring morning...being outside these days is simply delightful.

Kathryn is excited, she got accepted to college, and is at this point, hoping to be a physical therapist. Kathryn homeschooled from tenth grad on, she worked very hard and took it seriously. I am thrilled because I know she'll be successful, and that the world is opening up more to homeschoolers.

Kathryn being Auntie, with little cousins - Lydia, and Anya on her back.

We are going to the library today. I walked, then worked on the pool for a bit. The "new" pump motor works fine so far, and the pool is looking good! It is a bit early, but it'll be nice to have a clean pool when the weather gets warm, which sounds like a "duh" statement, doesn't it?

Yesterday I went to Canada, with Emily and Kathryn and Sonja and Camille. We stopped in Watertown for lunch, at Chipotle, yummers. I like that you can get a good meal that's healthy and doesn't totally break the bank, without feeling regretful afterwards. And they're not paying me to say that. We ate outside in the warmth and sunshine, then stopped at Starbucks for iced coffee, and back on the my niece's wedding. My sister's seventh daughter, all grown up and married. My sister with no sons now has seven son-in-laws!

It was after nine o'clock when we headed back home, a pleasant drive talking to Emily. But after a nice hot shower, I got to bed close to 1:30. So when 6:50 rolled around, I was tempted to roll over and go back to sleep, but I had to get up and see my high school girls as they went out the door. Sonja stayed in Ottowa overnight with some of her friends, they are going to the Tulip Festival today. A good reason to skip school if I ever heard one, ha.

So I am very tired today, but hopefully it won't kill me.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

happy mother's day to all the mamas...

Of course when I start seeing the merchandise come out for this Hallmark holiday, I think of my own late mother. And ha, it's hard to think of her as "late", because she was anything but late, back when she still walked this earth. She would be standing there at her front door with her big black "pocketbook", as she called it, slung over her arm, waiting for me when I arrived to pick her up for a shopping trip. I miss her more as the years go by, and I see and experience things that I can no longer share with her. When I see those ads that say, "Give Mom blah blah!", I don't think of myself as the mom in relationship to my kids, I just think of my own mom.

Paul brought me some beautiful flowers, and Aaron sent me a card with a Starbucks gift card:)

Today, we are going on a small road trip up to Canada for a wedding...Emily, Kathryn, Sonja, Char, and Camille. Evelyn can't go because she is sick, Paul has to work (big surprise there). I want to leave early-ish so we can stop and have lunch somewhere, it IS Mother's Day, and I will have five of my girls with me.

The traveling bug is itching me again. I am thinking to go visit my boys out west. I just looked up ticket prices to Oregon...:) I just have to get Emily convinced to go with me...

Margaret and Adrian came over last night with little baby Wulf. He is smiling now! Great big huge smiles, and he is doing that cooing-talking thing, where he tries to tell Grandma all his stories! I love him.

Baby Grant needs to come visit me soon, or I need to take a little trip down to many people to visit, so little time..and money.

Anyway, I need to get moving here. Happy Mother's Day, hug your mom while you still can.

Friday, May 11, 2018

the fifteenth child...

When Miss Charlotte Claire was born, 12 years ago today, here's what things looked like around here:
Emily 21
Abigail 19
Benjamin 17
Mirielle 16
Joseph 14, almost 15
Aaron 13
Mali 12
Samuel 10
Margaret 9
Kathryn 8
Evelyn 6
Suzanne 5
Sonja K. 4
(baby Robert)
Jonathan 2

I had a few miscarriages before I had Miss Char, so I was very thankful to say hello to her sweet newborn self. After the five-girls-in-a-row, then little Jonathan, I had a baby girl again, daughter #10...

(me, Camille, and Char)

Anyway, today is her birthday! I'm not sure what we'll do during the day, but tonight a few of her friends are coming over, and lots of her older siblings will be here. I'm making pizzas, including at least one keto pizza (crust with almond flour and mozzarella cheese), and Ben is bringing some venison steaks. We're also making peanut butter ice cream pie, and mint chocolate chip ice cream pie. (crumbled Oreos mixed with melted butter crusts, the peanut butter one has the cookies with peanut butter filling...)

And I am going to behave myself. I can't use the old, "It's a party!" excuse, because duh, we always have parties.

I might just eat a spoonful of crunchy peanut butter with a few chocolate chips on it.

This fine morning, I almost talked myself out of the morning walk. Here were some of my excuses: I walked SO much yesterday, almost three miles.
I don't want to tire myself out, today is going to be a busy one.
My knee hurts.
I don't have enough time to get everything done, a walk is a half hour.

But I didn't listen to myself, I just went. Five days in a row. And this is what the kitchen looks like in the morning, I have to ignore it and go out the door, because if I straighten one little thing, I'll get so sidetracked, I won't end up going.

The truth is that even though my knee is wonky, the walks help tremendously. I think they clear my mind almost as much as blogging does. I don't listen to music or podcasts, I just think about things and listen to the geese honk or the squirrels scampering. This morning, I was thinking about how much it bothers me when people think I am better than I really am. I have lots of kids, and a good life, by the grace of God. When I think of how I have been in the past, and how impatient I was with the kids when they were little, and how I felt totally at my wit's end so often, I see that God has just plain been good to me, helped me overcome. The other day while talking about going out and about with lots of small children, someone asked how I kept them with me, kept them in line, and I didn't actually remember. But Mali did, she said I would pinch her arm and tell her to behave. Ouch, that hurts my heart, I don't really remember that, but I am sorry. But the truth is, I am not perfect, but I am a work in progress. God isn't finished with me yet:)

So yesterday afternoon, spur of the moment, Sonja K. and I went on an adventure. We went to the big mall in the city, the Carousel Center, which is now named Destiny. I do not care much for malls, the perfume-y smells, the crowds of people, the pricey stores, although I do like the smells of the popcorn/caramel corn place and of course the cinnamon buns. And this mall has Finger Lakes Roasters, and I'm not getting paid to say yummers to freshly roasted coffee. My only complaint is that they fill those air vacuums with coffee, and it isn't steaming hot and fresh. Anyway. Sonja K. ordered some jeans with a birthday gift card, and just between you and me and the whole rest of the world, I didn't appreciate them. So we decided to go exchange them. Evelyn so sweetly volunteered to look after Anne, and sent us on our merry way. I won't bore you with the deets and tails, but she ended up keeping the jeans. She had no problem with them. Anyway, we also went to T.J.Maxx, where I got a little outfit for baby Grant, Sam and Grace's baby...

This is me eating healthy:), and I did not eat nary a crumb of that cookie in front of me. I did take a few nibbles of the bread, but then wrapped it up and brought it home, along with half this salad, because Evelyn likes yummy things to bring for lunch, and I'm nice, ha.

Now moving to the random section of the blog, here are the two kitties, Kettler and Orange Guy, mother and son, the only kitten we have of her several litters. Both are now "fixed", and they're good friends. She was washing him in this pic.

Kettler likes the new water table. We let her go outside, she doesn't wander far, mostly just the yard and the deck. Orange Guy wants out, but we are trying to keep him in. Don't tell him, but the minute he starts climbing screens, we'll let him out.

Grant, Sam and Grace's baby. Isn't he cute?

Little Wulf...I stole this pic from snapchat, isn't he cute too? I have two grandsons...and three granddaughters, and I love love love them.

Okay, enough sitting here...