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
family

Monday, February 8, 2016

real life with small children....


This is Emily Anne, and me. Em is my oldest "child", 31 years old now. We are 19 years apart. Camille is 8 now, so let's just say she was small until she was five. That means, from the time Emily was born until Cam was five, I had "small children" for 26 years. When Cam went to kindergarten, I had college kids commuting, and so on, so the house was rarely actually empty during the day, but it was so different! No diapers, bottles, sugar bowls emptied onto kitchen chairs.

Anyway, Emily deserves a medal for being the oldest of 16 kids. She was there as my right hand girl. Many a time, she lined those kids up and showered them, one after another, for me. She could cook a pot of something for dinner, and she could take them in the pool. Now, I tried not to lean on any one of them too much, I had to let them be kids too, and Em was a smart girl. She would take a book and go climb a tree. But she was always a good big sister. She liked the Having Fun part better than the Helping Around The House part.

She still takes the kids out on adventures. She'll come over and take four or five sisters out shopping. Or water-fall-ing. She's take several-everal of them on sibling camping trips.

Anyway....I could win gold in Off On A Tangent.

These days, I homeschool four kids. It can be busy. I still have to buy the groceries for the ten of us still at home, and of course clean, and cook. Now I also look after a small child, little A., three days a week. And sometimes I have my special little Davian over, he who is four today...he is here now...we celebrated his birthday with a little trip to the library, then to Target...he does not love shopping, but he rode in the back of the cart, with A. in the front, and asked me, "Why did they make Target so big?" ha. I bought him a little snow shovel, and a slinky, and they all got slushies at the end:)


Anyway...tonight I am going to watch my granddaughter Lydia for a while. My arms aren't empty after all, is my point. There are still small children to cuddle...

BTW, having a couple of Labrador Retrievers keeps me a tiny bit busy too...this is what I woke up to the other morning...


Anyway...time to go to the birthday party!!!!

Sunday, February 7, 2016

stupidbowl sunday....


We had a nice warm February day...enjoyed some outside time in the afternoon with Suri and Duke.


There were even some bare feet! Kathryn likes soccer.

And if you like football, fine. I don't hate it, I would just exist perfectly content it it was never even invented. So today, my boys who still live at home (Jon and Joseph) went to a Superbowl party. Then Mirielle picked up Kathryn, Suzanne, and Sonja, and took them to a Superbowl party, leaving me here with Evelyn Joy (16), Miss Char (9), and Miss Cam (8). We watched Shrek, read some Little House, then watched Downton Abbey with popcorn.

We didn't get one glimpse of the much-adored commercials, nor watch any of the hyped up game.

And guess what?

We don't care.

I asked the little girls if they wanted to turn it on for just a few minutes to see what it was all about, but they didn't, so we didn't. The older girls came home and told me about Beyonce's skimpy attire, and how it's just degrading to women, ect. How did we get to the point where, number one, this is acceptable, and number two, it's necessary to be so drastic to try to stick out which backfires because they all do it now and it's not trailblazing, it's just skanky. There, I said it.

Anyway. We had a cozy evening, just Evelyn and I and the little girls. We really enjoy watching Downton.

Paul's gone again, I drove him to the airport bright and early this fine morning. He's in Jacksonville for the week, poor guy.

I am reading, "To Kill A Mockingbird", which I don't believe I have read since high school. Emily bought me tickets to see it performed downtown in the theater, for Christmas. Paul will be in France, so I think she will have to go with me.:)

A busy week is planned! I now babysit for sweet little A. on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Tomorrow I might have the twins here for a while too. Sometimes Davian comes to play. Then on Thursday, Kim and I are taking our younger homeschooled kids to a hotel for the night, to swim in the pool and soak in the hot tub.

Friday night, Paul comes home again, and I will be watching little grandbaby Lydia.

Oh, we got Sonja's passport the other day! I told Paul that I think we've done this like 13 times now, ha.

Anyhoo. Morning comes early...

Friday, February 5, 2016

before and after, and adventures!


These tables are 32 years old, pine, which I "finished" when I was first married...


And voila! A few coats of chalk paint (I used stuff from Walmart, $5.97 for 16 ounces, and half a bottle did both tables), a coat of wax (also from Walmart), I did two coats of wax on the tops and the drawer fronts...notice the bite out of the corner of the table? That may have been Suri, but could have been Rosie. There are poke marks (Jon says it looks like someone took a pencil and just repeatedly stabbed one of the tables), scratches, bites, dents, scribbles...I could have used wood filler, but nah...they look fine.


The new knobs were 89 cents each at Mr. Second's.


Miss Evelyn was a great helper, and I enjoyed doing this with her. She is very gung-how about starting some more projects around here, like painting cabinets and refinishing the countertops...but I have to say this: projects seem like a good idea...then take a while to actually start...then I wonder why on earth I ever thought it was a good idea, I get convinced I am just making a huge mess, meals get interrupted with the table covered with newspapers, I make more of a mess than you would believe...these drawers were filled with stuff for years and years....just sorting through four drawers...ugh. But once I get done, I'm like, hmm, what next? (I think our next project is going to be the bathroom cabinets, a trial for how the kitchen ones will come out...)


We went on a field trip yesterday...


We went to the George Eastman house. He was the developer of Kodak cameras. He built his house in the early 1900's, and it's just grand. The little girls just about had themselves moved in. They delighted in the staircase, especially.







We all agreed we need a yard like this.



















Wednesday, February 3, 2016

too many kids!!!


This is me right now...in my comfy chair, surveying the damage to the living room, ha. Duplos and car track and dolls, and dishes.


Char, Davian, Cam, and A.


Davian is going to be four next week, so we thought we would have a little pre-birthday celebration. He wanted ALL the planets on a cake, of course, but I offered either the sun or the earth, and he chose the earth.

Having small children here begs the question: how did I ever manage, way back when? I am in awe of my former self, ha. I know, I am older now, and have gotten used to a slower pace. This sweet darling I am watching, little A., is two and a half. Back when I had children that age, I also would have a one year old and an infant. No wonder I'm crazy, ha.

Anyway, it's been fun, and little children are so fresh from heaven...they are so innocent, yet they have their strong little personalities, and preferences. This particular two year old is such a sunshine...

The kids are doing their school work, little A. is snuggled up with Kathryn, and the dogs are sleeping on the couches. I told them I need to write for a few minutes, then we are going to go to the library.

Here's what I have been working on lately:

1. Not eating the earth cake that's sitting on the counter. It's a pumpkin spice cake, with homemade buttercream frosting. Samuel called me last night, and I was walking around the house, passing that cake, and almost slicing off pieces and eating them. Almost. That's when I do my "unaware" snacking, when I'm on the phone, not sure why.

2. I exercised yesterday, a little. We moved the coffee table and got out all the foam mats, and had gym class. The little ones do their somersaults and head stands, and jump around, and I did my push ups and lifted my ten pound weights. It wasn't much, but still.

3. I finished my latest library book last night, "Gone Girl". It was interesting, but I shouldn't have stayed up until 1:04 to finish it.

4. Last night I renewed my BJ's membership, $108 for the year...then I bought supplies...for lunches, ect, and it came to over $300. ouch. Now I just have to sit back and watch them eat it all up then say there's nothing to eat again.

5. Paul has too much traveling in the near future...

(when he came home from France the other night)

6. Adventures! I want to go adventuring with the kids. New places! Maybe soon I'll just take them for a surprise hotel night...they are growing up so fast, I feel like I want to hold on to these days of having a few younger ones who still appreciate the simple things in life...

7. Homeschooling calls...I need to check Camille's page and decide what to do next...

Monday, February 1, 2016

welcome february!


Jonathan with our little friend, A.

New things at our house! We are watching little A. three days a week. Today was her first day here. For 2 and a half, she's very well adjusted. We took her to the pool...she lasted about 20 minutes and started asking for her blankie and ba-ba. Okay...when you're little, 20 minutes in the pool is a long time.

I made brownies today, for the kids to have when they got home from school. For me, I made flaxseed blueberry muffins, and chocolate flaxseed muffins. They're made with no flour, lots of eggs, coconut oil, and just a bit of honey to sweeten them.

Our Norway trip is coming up soon, next month! We have to get Sonja's passport, soon!

Little A. looks like she's going to fall asleep...Sonja is playing on the tablet with her. We don't watch television here during the day, but she likes Peppa Pig so Jon streamed it on the tablet for her, for one show. She has found lots of other things to do though.

We had an amazing dinner yesterday. Emily, Mirielle, Mali, baby Lydia, and our friend Adrian were here. I made beef in the crock pot, and ten pounds of red-skinned mashed potatoes, and Mali made a huge salad, and bought Italian bread. (no, I didn't). Em was getting out plates, and asked how many were here...I started with 18 and subtracted who wasn't here, and got confused, she tried to count, then said, "I'm just putting a stack of plates on the table." (There were 12 eating (not baby Lydia!), because Char and Cam were at their friend's house)

We watched Downton Abbey, without popcorn this time, because dinner was late, and I really didn't need to carb up again, it had only been since Friday...popcorn is just too good.

Oh well....sometimes I am too distracted...little A. is being so cute...



Saturday, January 30, 2016

fatass rant....

Here in the western world, American culture, thin is in. Being fat is epidemic, it's killing us, we are obese!

You can't blame us, everything tastes so good, and it's so cheap! An apple is good...when it's fresh and crunchy, but give me an off season apple with a couple of bruises in it, or a smushy grape, or a pear that is engineered be picked when it's hard as a rock, then ripen on the way to the store...and it's still crunchy and flavorless and yuck. But Doritos, they're always good! Dollar menus, with the salty fatty flavor enhanced deep fried yummies.

So you can't blame us. When I was a kid, a can of soda was special, I can count on one hand how many times I had one all to myself. Cake was for birthdays. We got chips on payday, not every day in our lunches.

Anyway, we're fat. And believe you me, fat people are treated differently than not-so-fat people. I am still fat, but more ACCEPTABLY fat. 70 pounds down now, but still in a size 16 jeans, I am still fat. But. Let me tell you something. It's different. In the Target parking lot several years ago, I didn't put my cart back where it belonged because I had unloaded small children into the van, and didn't want to walk to the cart return and leave them in there (but also I was probably lazy, and heck, my knees probably hurt after walking all the way through Target)...anyway, as I climbed into the driver's seat of that 15 passenger van, this snarky young couple that pulled into the parking spot across from me grabbed the shopping cart I had left there, and yelled, "No wonder you're fat!" ouch. Once I went on this lovely dinner cruise with Paul, and as we stood appreciating the view, I turned my head and a group of his co-workers all turned away from me at the same time. I continued to stare in their direction, and sure enough, they all peeked over at me, and looked away real quick-like. I caught them. They were talking about me. I had put so much thought into my yellow flowered blue skirt, and yellow elbow sleeved top. No bare arms for me! I had my Birkenstocks on, of course. Maybe they were saying how pretty I looked! Or maybe they heard I had a busload of kids at home. But I don't think so...because when I looked at them, they were ashamed. They didn't smile at me, like they would if they were saying nice things about me.

What kills me is that I am the same exact person as I was before. And when I lose fifty more pounds (hey, it COULD happen!), I will still be the same person. But hopefully I will never ever forget what if feels like to be snickered at. I know, I was probably a sight, especially when Easter candy was 75% off and I was filling my cart. But still.

My metabolism isn't what I would like it to be. I can't eat like a normal person anymore, or my weight will come back with a vengeance. And I don't want that to happen, because I FEEL so much better. I am not running marathons, or doing CrossFit, but I can explore cities and navigate airports and go to parks and malls without huffing and puffing. I can buckle seatbelts and fit in more normal clothes. But I am still me.


I can work at the basketball games, something I couldn't do 70 pounds ago.

Been there done that...I KNOW what it's like to feel hopeless, to feel like that it won't make a whit of difference whether I eat another cupcake or not, I'm still fat, and I could never diet. I used to read so much about weight loss before I took the plunge and really started working on it...I was a huge, fat, weight loss expert. But the numbers were big and scary, and baby steps seemed impossible. And have you heard the success rate of losing large amounts and actually keeping it off? 5%. Yeah, 95% of people gain it all back, and then some. So why try?

For me, as I have written a million times, it was the acid reflux...heartburn 24/7. I had managed it for a few years with antacids and it just got worse. When I finally went to the doctor for it, and saw that my nice low blood pressure was creeping up, I flipped out. I was 46 years old, not ready for the downward slide! The doctor said it wasn't that bad, to just start on the Prilosec, and we would sort out the b.p. later, maybe start on some meds.

I left the office a shaking mess. No. I had to do something. So I did.

I haven't been perfect, it hasn't been easy. But when my size 24 jean skirt started falling down, I knew I was making progress. After a bit I bought a scale. It's been five years since I started to fight back, and it hasn't been easy. I got pregnant for baby #17 after losing the first 25 pounds, and even saw it's tiny heartbeat on the sonogram, but then lost the baby. Sticking to plan wasn't easy during that. I also had gall bladder removal, and you know, real life. Parties and celebrations and trips and just normal baking cookies for the kids. Saying NO a million times doesn't feel rewarding, but it's the story of my life, and I'm sticking to it.

In a perfect world, we wouldn't be judgy wudgy about anyone. I know, there are things I have ranted about here...parents being mean to their kids, toddlers in strollers playing with tablets instead of walking or even just looking at the world around them...but I'm working on working on ME, and giving others freedom to just be themselves. But as for fat shaming, one of the last frontiers of allowable judging, because heck, it's THEIR FAULT. no. I will not. I have walked in those shoes...am still walking in those shoes...

And now, no lie, I am going in the kitchen to help my girls bake cookies for their activity groups. For their sakes, I just try to be normal about it, but we all know that I can't eat any of those cookies...

p.s. One of my coping mechanisms is to buy things that I CAN have, like macadamia nuts, pistachios, peppered cashews, and salt and vinegar peanuts, frozen rasberries and blueberries...90% dark chocolate. They can be expensive, but it helps! I also splurge on good coffee, and different kinds of tea. I also chew different flavors of gum when I really want to eat something...















friday night fun!


Fifty years old. Fifty. Half a century. But I feel better now than I did for so many years....


My oldest "child", Emily...this may not be the greatest pic, but she is a lovely girl,she turned 31 a few weeks ago.


Miss Lydia, Mali's little sunshine.

'
This is the lovely new cross stitch my mother-in-law did for me. :)

My day:

1. Out to breakfast with my brother, with Jon, Char, and Cam.

2. Library.

3. Dollar store.

4. Grocery store.

5. School to pick up Suzanne.

6. Home, ahh home.

7. Gas station to check air in van tires.

8. Walmart.

9. Pizza hut to pick up dinner:)

Regarding #9, we had free pan pizza coupons for the youngest three...then ordered online, three medium pizzas for $5 each. When I went to pick them up, the three mediums were done, but I had to wait 20 minutes for the small ones for the kids. As I stood there and watched a 30-something year old guy named Frank huffing and bustling, keeping up amazingly well with a seemingly unending barrage of orders, I realized how ridiculous it was to be impatient...upset...even though I had called to order the three personal pan pizzas, they had not made them. An oversight, a mistake. The didn't apologize, they just put the order in, made the pizzas, and I waited. So on the one hand, I had plenty of good reasons to be upset. But wait a minute. Do all things work together for our good EXCEPT for when we have to wait for pizza?

Anyway.

Today was busy enough. When I am out and about so much, of course the housework slips. And playing catch-up isn't my favorite. Paul is coming home from France tomorrow, and we wouldn't want him to think we just slacked off the whole time he was gone, now would we? What are you doing with YOUR Saturday?

Seriously though, for all the work I put into getting the floors clean, it should at least last a day. Three would be nice. Sweeping, vacuuming, mopping...

Anyway, also regarding #9, I tried to behave tonight. I browned up some fresh chicken breast that I had marinating in the refrigerator, and also made broccoli slaw...I mixed that chicken with hot sauce and butter, and ate it all together...and only had one small slice of the pizza, while we watched, "Home". After the little girls were tucked in, I watched, "The Age Of Adaline", with the older girls. Unfortunately, I made a big batch of popcorn popped in coconut oil, with butter...

So Paul is coming home tomorrow. Of course I'm glad, but to be honest, it's nice that he travels some, because then I miss him when he's gone. And missing someone means you can't wait until they come back, and that helps you appreciate them, and being glad to see someone you have been married to since 1984...well, that's a good thing. So shh, it's not just because he puts air in the van tires and can stop and get a gallon of milk on the way home from work.

I am thankful for our marriage. It isn't perfect. He is not a detail person. I can tell a story, and he'll start waving his hands in that, "hurry up and get to the point" motion. I say, that's the whole point of me telling this story, for the conversation, not just to pass on information. So I have had my share of hurt feelings. We're different, he and I. I am definitely a Drop Everything And Visit type when the older kids come over. And, I am a Clean Up Quick before company comes person, too. He thinks it looks fine in here. He's more practical, more responsible.

But...the thing about Paul is that he is very humble. Even if his initial reaction to something is strong, he'll second guess himself, talk to me about it, and then mellow out. No matter what the older kids come up with, he doesn't get too ruffled. He KNOWS it's not the end of the world when something challenging happens, and his calmness is very comforting. He rarely pursues his own interests, and when he does, I love it. It does my heart good to see him go fishing or hunting, or play his guitar.

He's a little naggy about us leaving the lights on, and turning the heat up too high, and if it were up to him, we wouldn't have overdue fees at the library every single time we get books out. Ha, he has a lot to put up with!

But we do love each other, and I am thankful that our differences haven't gotten in the way of that. Sparks still fly, sorry kids, if you are reading this. :)

Charlotte Claire and Camille Anaya had gym class this evening AFTER they watched their movie. They ran around and around and around. They have those foam interlocking mats, and they push the coffee table over, put the mats down, and drag a ten foot long two-by-four up the stairs, and use it as a balance beam. Because living rooms are also gymnasiums. Sometimes they put on rollerblades, and yeah, skate around the living room and kitchen. Is it GOOD for the floors? No, but it sure is fun for the kids. Winter is long and cold here in central New York state. They go out and play and go sledding but it's not enough exercise....

Yeah, so goodnight. My stagecoach has long turned back to a pumpkin.