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, August 29, 2014


Not really. This is Emily's throwback Thursday pic.

It is still August, still summer, and it's Friday!

First of all, the baseball game was fun. If I could just step out of my old achy body, with the throbbing knees and oh, my feet by the end of the night of standing on that cement floor....but I can't. I go and fund raise, and yes, suffer in my body for it, but I can't explain how much fun it is. Last evening, I really got to know Anna. I have known her since she was born, but seriously, what 49 year old is friends with a 16 year old girl? I worked with her 21 year old sister too, and when she said something really funny at the end of the night, we just about fell on the floor laughing. Yes, it was busy and crazy and at times a bit challenging to keep up, but I am thankful that my life is never lonely or boring!

We went to the drive-through on the way home for some iced coffees, and don't kill me Marg, but...oh dear, she didn't pull up close enough to the window, and had to get out to pay and to take the drinks. It was SO funny. The boy working there was trying not to laugh, but he was so nice, he reassured Margaret that it happens a lot. um, no, I don't really think so, but it was nice of him to say so.

I talked to my Army son Samuel this morning on the phone. He really likes his training. He went on a ten mile ruck yesterday. He gets to run around the capital and the memorials, and loves it. He is wise for his years, he reminded me that I am very lucky to get to go to the baseball games, and to the college football and basketball games...that that's where the fun is, and that he misses it so much. He says part of missing home is missing being a part of all that stuff. Even though we don't go to the games to sit and watch, but to prepare and serve food and run registers, and to clean up afterward. It really is in the attitude.

Today we are going camping, and I still have to get into that packing groove. I have added things to the pile, like hot cocoa mix and teabags, coffee and a jar of peanut butter, and a bag of marshmallows. I haven't decided for sure what our meals will be, and I know I need a few things from the store. Sometimes I wish the Organization Fairy would come along and wave her wand at me, causing my scattered thoughts to come together and make some sense.

This morning I was thinking about all the things that have happened in my life since I started writing this blog. I have lost two babies (miscarriages), my brother killed himself, one of my sons joined the Army,got married, deployed to Afghanistan, came home and had a rough time but survived it and now has a baby girl. Four of my kids graduated from nursing school and now all have good jobs as RN's. We replaced our swimming pool all by ourselves, said goodbye to Champ the dog and Rosie the bad dog, one stillborn puppy, got a few kitties, lost a few kitties, gall bladder surgery, Aaron's surgery for his depressed sternum, Abigail's knee surgery, a few broken arms and broken legs, Paul's travels to Ireland, India, Germany, France, and Louisiana, our trips to Jamaica and Dominican Republic, Florida, Georgia, Virginia, my trip to Seattle Washington, Paul's coronary ablation, and countless other little every day trials, dilemmas, and joys, sleepless nights, and tired days.

What is my point? Each thing seems so big when it happens. Then it passes. What do I get out of it? In each and every thing, I get to choose. I can say yes, or no, to anxiety and worry. I can choose to trust God. I can get mad, angry, bitter. I can blame others, give in to accusing thoughts toward my husband or friends. Day in, day out, I get to choose. Here are some verses that I think of often...

"If you obey the voice of the Lord your God, to keep His commandments and His statutes which are written in the Book of the Law, and if you turn to the Lord your God with all your hear and with all your soul. For this commandment which I command you today is NOT too mysterious for you, nor too far off....It is not in heaven, that you should say, 'Who shall ascend into heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?', Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, 'Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?' But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it. See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgements, that you may live and multiply; and the Lord your God will bless you in the land which you possess. But if your heart turns away so that you do not hear, and are drawn away, and worship other gods and serve them, I announce to you today that you shall surely perish; you shall not prolong your days in the land which you cross over the Jordan to go in and possess. I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life,that both you and your descendants may live...that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give to them." (Deuteronomy 30, verses 10 -20)

I know, that's a lot of bible, right there. But it's so relevant! So living and true! Choose life!

Giving your life to God is not hard and heavy and full of rules and restrictions. On the contrary, it's a life of freedom!

And I am done preaching for now. I have to get packing....:)

Thursday, August 28, 2014

army son

Samuel James....isn't he handsome?

He's 19 years old now, all grown up, yet...still so sincere and innocent. He has passed his 60 minute and 90 minute standing still things...(I don't know the official term for standing there without looking to the right nor the left while the heat is turned up, the lights turned out then on again, ect. But he passed them.) He passed the rifle manual, next week is marching, then uniform inspection.

Being in the Old Guard is like being in summer camp for people obsessed with details. Sam reminds me that he's infantry first, and Old Guard second. Protecting Washington, D.C., and his Army base are the most important, but he certainly is enjoying his training so far.

He has been a little disappointed in his fellow man, though. One would think that no one would steal $70 from his wallet among such honorable soldiers, but someone did. I think he is more sad about it than he is mad that he lost money.

He found out this afternoon that he could have had a weekend pass and left the base for four days, but it's too late now. What??! He wanted so badly to be at the youth conference this weekend at church. But, he said, it happened for a reason, and there's no use getting upset about it.

Now, that's the best thing about Sam! With an attitude like that, he will have God's blessing over his life....

ah summer, please stay with us for a while....

This morning, I woke up with a good thought: be thankful. I know, I know, it's a common saying. But when you think about it, it's our nature to think about what we want, what we may get in the future, and perhaps even how unfair it is that others have what we perceive to be more, than we have.

So I woke up some teenagers and told them about this, encouraged them to count their blessings. It's easy to see that the Israelites were foolish to complain when they were brought out of bondage...they had bread from heaven to eat! But they wanted meat! They complained and God hated it! Just think how much more He hates it when we're unthankful and complaining.

I woke up those teenagers not just to give them my thankfulness spiel, but to take them to visit Grandma, who wasn't home. We did go to the playground though, and to get ice cream.

Sometimes I wake up during the night and think of interesting things to write, then forget them when I am actually sitting here with the computer.

I have to leave to go to the baseball game in a few hours. Mirielle, Margaret, and Joseph are working, too. It's not really hard to work, standing on the cement floor at the chicken stand is hard on my knees, and my feet start hurting, but Thursday is Dollar Beer Night (dollar hot dogs, too), and when it's really busy, I don't notice the pain. The other thing is that it's really fun. I like talking to customers, and working with my friends (and my kids). (We volunteer for our church, it's not great money, but it's something)

We are going camping tomorrow! The piles on the kitchen table are growing! When we went a few weeks ago, I forgot a spatula. I wonder what I'll forget this time. Going with little kids is a whole different ballgame than having teenagers and older kids along. Obviously the teenagers, even the good ones, will balk at the things younger kids delight in. They get antsy, and sometimes complain about how boring everything is. Things that were wonderful when they were little get a little lame. But once they get past the teenager-y stage, in their twenties, they seem to realize the importance of enjoying things for the benefit of the littler ones, and they possibly know that life is going by fast, and start to re-enjoy the little things.

At any rate, Paul and I are taking only Jonathan 10, Charlotte Claire 8, and Camille 6. We haven't gone camping with only three kids since...well, since we only had three kids! And back then, those oldest three were 4 and under. So this weekend sounds....relaxing.

And for my disclaimer: I would certainly take another baby if God chose to bless me with one, or if anyone had one they didn't want. I am not relieved to be out of that stage, although it is more relaxing and much much less work. But, I would take the work and the babies anyday!

So we are taking the bikes, and hopefully it won't rain. We'll have campfires and the younger kids will love having all the attention. I am looking forward to having some nice time with Paul, too, especially because he is going to France again next week.

Yesterday I went shopping all by my lonesome. The little girls were totally engrossed in playing dollhouse. Evelyn was going to go with me but she had a wicked headache. I told the girls it was only grocery shopping, so none really wanted to go. I mean, no Target? Nah, not worth it. So off I went...the dollar store, where I got cinnamon raisin bread for a buck, and four packs of Greek yogurt too. Some Ghiardelli chocolates and some six packs of big soft pretzels, and I headed to BigLots. I bought Balance Bars and half price chips and cookies for camping, shampoo and conditioner, and a bag of dog food. Then to Aldi for chocolate, eggs, half and half, milk, apples, bananas. Another grocery store for chicken breast, pretzels, more apples, detergent, bleach, paper plates for camping. Ahh, then home. Going by myself is fun, in a way. I can dawdle without anyone telling me to hurry, I can put five of something in the cart without hearing, "Really, Mom?!", and I can go to another store, and another, without resistance. I made friends with some old people. I gestured for them to get in front of me in line, and when they politely declined, I insisted and told them I had a babysitter at home and was good to be gone for a while and was in no hurry. They laughed and joked that I wanted to be gone as long as possible....

I feel sorry for old people sometimes, when out shopping. I think stores should have benches here and there for them to rest on. Not if they are like Paul's mom, but regular old people:)

So much for writing today...I give up. Teenagers are snacking, Evelyn wants to place an Amazon order, there are questions and giggles and silliness and just general mayhem. And now Suri is standing here looking at me. She cannot talk, but she can give me The Stare. It means to pet her, or let her out, or feed her. She is very insistent, and if I ignore her, she puts her paw on me. Duke would whine, not Suri. She just silently insists I figure out what she wants. Good thing she's cute.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

really excited!!!!

Okay, taking the plunge into homeschooling five of my kids has been exhilarating yet terrifying. Well, perhaps not exactly TERRIFYING, but a bit scary. I mean, what if I don't teach them enough? What if they fail their end of year exams? What if I wreck their entire lives?

I am sort of kidding, but being a mom is scary enough sometimes. These blessings called children have been placed in my care. To raise them up into responsible citizens, able to make their own way in the world is daunting. To labor to instill values in them, to help them to fear God and keep His commandments, to follow Jesus and live a clean victorious life...that is my whole heart's desire for them. Worldly success is good, but if they will live those faithful lives, that is beyond magnificent.

Anyway, here we are, school starting next week, and me being tempted to think, "What was I thinking!? I can't do this!"

So, I did what any freaked out mom would do, I went shopping! I scrolled through Amazon, and placed an order. (I haven't actually completed the order yet, Jon knows the password and he's still sleeping:))

I have a basic idea of what I want to teach them, but having more books specific to grade level will help.

Okay, so Duke behaved last night. He didn't bark or howl a single time. Paul however, was really bad. His allergies kicked in big time, and he sniffed and sniffled for a huge section of the night. I hate when I wake up and can't get back to sleep, but when he's tossing and turning too, ugh. Oh, the trials of life, ha. Anyway, this morning at 7: ish, I hear the school bus pull up, and honk a few times. I look out the window, and sure enough, there is the bus. What? Did I sleep for a whole week? Did I get the dates totally mixed up? Three of my kids are getting on that bus this year, but I thought school started next week. hmmm. Then Evelyn came in to my room and told me, duh Mom, there's high school orientation this morning. That's why the bus came, but she wasn't going on the bus, she wanted a ride instead. Okay, good. I didn't sleep for a week or get seriously mixed up with dates.

And, I got up and drove Miss Ev to school, then came home and took my walk.

Today I have to do some grocery shopping. I am not complaining, but food prices just keep going up. The cheap food is the most unhealthy, too, it seems. I like to feed the kids good stuff, like chicken and veggies and a little brown rice on the side, which is what we had last night. They seriously like ramen noodles, and boxed mac and cheese, which in my humble opinion, isn't even food. I get it for them sometimes for summer lunches, but blah. We don't eat much pasta any more, or even much bread. I like the sprouted grain bread, which is like $5 a loaf....the cinnamon raisin Ezekial bread, toasted with butter, yum.

Anyway, I like to have fresh fruit and we are almost out. We do have lots of green beans from the garden in our freezer, :)

I bought a new toothbrush last week, which I stuck in my purse. It is sticking out. Charlotte Claire said I should just leave it in there, in case we ever go to Florida again.

I talked to Benjamin today. He is in the Army and is stationed near Seattle Washington, at Ft. Lewis-McChord. He and his wife and little Anya, the sole grand child, are probably staying out there when he gets out of the Army. He is training for an apprenticeship in HVAC (heating, air conditoning), and the job market is good there, as is the weather, and they have made a few friends there. Wah for me. But they are happy there, I guess, and it's obviously their choice. There are no words to express how much I would like to be part of little Anya's life, not just a long-distance Grandma, but there's not much I can do about it. I can't explain it properly, but it almost hurts to see pictures and videos of that darling little girl.

She is a sweetie pie.

My nocturnal teenagers are all still sleeping. The little girls have had breakfast, and are deeply into playing dollhouse. The dogs are sleeping, and the house is quiet. I have to leave to pick up Evelyn soon, and switch laundry.

Tomorrow I am working at the baseball game, and on Friday we are going camping for the weekend. Our kitchen table reflects that I have started making camping piles. :)

Monday, August 25, 2014

adding to the general mayhem....

but first, a lovely pic of my Margaret and me, working the baseball game the other night...

Jon's friend gave him the most annoying toy, which also fascinates the kids. It is a miniature arcade-style claw machine that only works with carnival music. It has one volume: loud. Sonja is playing it right now. The little ones are in their suits, ready for our excursion. I have made phone calls today, and feel very accomplished. I got up and did dishes, swept floors, washed clothes and towels.

Duke was bad again last night and it's a good thing I don't have the superpower to vaporize dogs, or he would be just a fine mist right now. No, I love him, but oh dear. He howls in the night to go out. It's not his fault that I can't get back in bed and fall directly back into dreamland, but lie there thinking about all the things that I have to do, want to do, want to do better, and don't want to do. It seems like he is being evil, barking again right as I start to drift off....but he just wants to go out again. He wants to trot down the street to see his girl dog. The second time he barked, I just came out to tell him to shut up. He did. The third time, I was still awake, and Jon let him out without his leash, before I had a chance...rrr. So, I got dressed and grabbed the leash, and set off down the road just as the sun came up.

I took a little morning nap, but am so tired.

I just talked to the septic tank guy about getting the system inspected. The county mandates it, for our own good. It IS good for the local businesses though. Anyway. I emailed the window company about replacing some of these windows, and called the local garage about repairing one of the tires for the big van, so we can get rid of it.

Oh the fun. Now it's time to pack some lunch for our outing. It is sunny and warm and gorgeous out, and I am thankful. In a strange way, I am thankful for my sleeplessness last night too. It gives me time to think about people and pray for them, and pray for myself. I realized last night that I am really good at knowing that all things work together for the good for everyone else, but when things happen that rile me...

So...God is good.

it it isn't one thing, it's another....

Babies don't wake me up anymore, but now the dogs do. Not always, but lately, Duke has been a Bad Boy. Last night he howled ever few minutes to go out. I finally got up, hitched him to the leash, and took him out and about in the yard. Suri doesn't have to have a leash, she goes naked and behaves herself.

So, Kathryn got home from California in the wee hours of the morning, and of course I stayed up for a few hours hearing all about the Hollywood sign and the sidewalk of stars and Universal Studios and her meeting friends from the west coast, and how difficult it was for the girl who brought them to navigate the traffic, she is a small town girl and Los Angeles is a big city.

So...I finally went to bed. Four hours later, Duke was begging to go out. He yipped and yapped until I got up...I was so tired I could barely see straight. Well, I should have tried to see a bit straighter, maybe I would have seen the pile of poop over by the door instead of stepping right into it. blah. Words can't really describe that sensation, and we won't get into what it smelled like, or what words slipped out of my usually pristine mouth:)

I'll fast-forward through the clean up, but I will mention I need to buy a new rug for over near the door.

When I got Duke hitched to his leash and started opening the door, I realized the reason they barked in the first place was because there were vehicles parked out at the end of the driveway, a few rescue trucks, and there was an ambulance at the house across the street.

Now, I realized that my lovely little nightgown was not going to cut it for that early morning yard walk, not at all. So I got dressed, and took them out. I wasn't able to see too much, and not wanting to be nosey, I didn't cross the road and ask questions. I hope my neighbors are okay.

So...I had to take a shower before I went back to bed, because just yuck. Lots of floor cleaning first....

Back to bed I went. I tried and tried to wind down and fall back to sleep. I thought about my neighbors, I thought about Duke rrr, I tried to think calm peaceful thoughts....and I managed to drift off again for an hour or so.

That means I have been a bit tired all day.

But, I still vacuumed the stairs and the hallway, and the kitchen and living room. I cleaned up the really cool fort I helped the girls make the other day. I had moved one of the couches away from the wall, and made them a cozy little area with blankets draped over a pop-up tent, and over the back of the couch. It was so totally cozy, they slept in there on Friday night.

Anyway. Mirielle came over, we sat in the sun a bit. Evelyn, Suzanne, and Sonja came back from Connecticut. (They were full of fun stories about going out for pizza, getting pulled over (the officer asked for all their licenses, ha, they are 12 and 13 and 14 and 15, with the driver who is like 20.) (they were driving a bit squiggly because they were singing)

We bought 3 dozen corn, and had taco salad with tomatoes and green peppers from the garden. 13 of the kids were here.

I wanted to get outside more than I actually did. This house gets messy so fast. The washer was busy all day long, and there are always dishes to wash. I may not be the queen of housekeeping, not quite anyway, but I do not like dirty dishes in the sink. They must be washed several times a day, or yuck. And, they HAVE to be rinsed when put in the sink, although lots of the older kids will just wash their own dishes after using them. Joseph always does.

Yesterday we went to celebrate Grandma's 85th birthday.

Grandma had lots of her grandchildren there....

Some of my girls missed the party, so we plan to go visit Grandma one day this week.

But tomorrow, it is going to be hot and our pool is simply green. I have given up on it. Paul says he will look at the filter soon, one of these days, but it will be next year before we can swim in it again:( So tomorrow we are going to the church pool to swim, with Susan and her William, and the twins.

The next day there is a birthday party for the little kids to go to (their cousin Danielle is turning 9!).

Then on Thursday, I am working at the baseball game with Mirielle.

Then Friday, camping!!! I have to shop for it, pack for it, plan for it. We are camping on Lake Ontario, and have reserved a site that has electricity, so we can have fans in our tents. If it rains, the kids can watch a movie on their little dvd player. Oh, how times have changed. When I was a kid, raining just meant you got wet.

I hope it doesn't rain though. I want sand and sun and fun in the water with Paul and the kids....

Friday, August 22, 2014

tired me and sad birthdays....

Yes, I stayed up too late. We watched the relatively new Spiderman movie, which I wondered why they bothered to remake a good movie with a good Peter Parker and lovely Mary Jane, but the new version was pretty good. It was Evelyn's birthday, and she picked the movie. When it was over, the girls were putting in another movie, at 12:30 ish....

Anyway, at 6 ish this morning, Duke started barking to go out. I got up fast so he wouldn't wake up the whole house on this dark cozy morning, and let the two of them out. I stayed out there on the deck, and called them back to me when they were done...Suri came, Duke looked me in the eye, not really, but he did seem to consider his options....then took off down the street to visit his girl-dog. rrrr. I should have run after him in my nightie, but I didn't. So here I am waiting for him to get back, feeling like a Bad Dog Owner, a Bad Neighbor, and actually, quite tired. I should have gotten dressed and gone after him, but now, he'll be back any minute...right?

If I get dressed I'll be really wide awake.

And duh, I want to go back to bed.

Paul just left for work. I made him a pot of coffee, because I love him. He thinks I'm crazy, sitting here in the gloom, writing away. :)

Today, I have plans. I have to go somewhere to get something printed, and to get something to bring to Grandma's 85th birthday party tomorrow. I know Evelyn wants me to take her to Target to return the maternity skirt I accidentally bought her, but Target is a dangerous place to bring teenage girls. See, if five or six girls all find one or two or Lord Help Me, three things....even if they're cheap, it adds up somehow to a hundred bucks. The girls say I have a Check-out face. I was never aware of it until they pointed it out, but sure enough, I feel that face coming on when I slide that card.

Anyway. Evelyn's birthday wasn't supposed to be sad. She turned 15. I bought a nice butterfly tablecloth and matching cups. We had heater cake (she wanted it!)(Pepperidge Farms frozen chocolate frosted three layer cake), and the two ice cream pies she made herself. I put out dishes of KitKats, York Peppermints, and miniature Reese's with the dessert. And our dinner was yum: I cut up chicken breast into small chunks, and cooked it up in two frying pans with seasonings. It was interesting that the stuff in the iron skillet browned up so nicely. Anyway, Sonja and I chopped up tomatoes and onions and added olive oil, garlic, and cilantro. We served it with some nice baguettes from Wegmans. We also had sliced cucumbers, and green pepper from the garden.

The sad part? Well, there were ten of us at the table. Ten. I know, that seems like almost a crowd to some people, but for us, for a birthday, it was almost desolate. Only seven of our kids, one cousin, and Mama and Daddy. Nine of our kids not here. Ben and Sam in the Army, a few of the older ones working, then some at a fundraiser...

Evelyn didn't invite any friends over, either. She was back and forth about it, then just didn't do it. Now, before you feel too sorry for her,(:)) she IS going away for the weekend to Connecticut with two sisters, her cousin, and a few older girls from church.

I live a blissful life. I get hugs all day from my little girls, enjoy conversations with my teenagers, and with Mr. Jonathan, who is a ten year old little old man, who quite certainly knows everything. I have a million things to take care of, and am extremely thankful that we can get by without me working.

It isn't all fun and games though. I feel the weight of responsibility so strongly sometimes it might just crush me, to use the time wisely and teach my kids what they need to know in life. And now that I have taken on more to homeschool, I second guess my ability to teach them properly. I wonder if I have taken the plunge for selfish reasons. With the summer winding down, and only three kids heading to school (I haven't sent only three kids since Benjy went to kindergarten, some 20 years ago!), I wonder how long it will take for homeschooling to get old for the kids. Will they resent being home? It goes so against the grain still, yet parents seem so fine and actually happy to send their kids off to perfect strangers when September rolls around. And the bus drivers. Don't even get me started. Just because it is What Kids Do. They go to school. The government says so, the people do it. I just don't buy it that it's the best for all kids, yet I don't feel 100% that keeping them here is absolutely for their best either. So, I made the decision, along with Paul, he doesn't have much faith in our dear government, so school is not so very esteemed by him. We are absolutely not critical of the teachers, no sir, we have been blessed by many excellent ones, who truly care about our children. It's more the blanket policies, the cookie cutter teaching, the one-size-fits all approach, way they dawdle and waste time and feel free to have pajama day to watch movies, yet I am breaking the law by keeping them home when they aren't sick, to watch a movie with ME, perhaps.

Yes, I know I am rambling. Perhaps I should backspace that whole paragraph away, or do some editing.

So I have to call the window company, which I am of course procrastinating. We need to replace a few windows here, a few there, so I have to have all those rooms clean at the same time, so the window people don't think we're slobs. Or rather so they don't find out that we are slobs, it is a big secret, see. Well, "slob" is a horrid word, isn't it? I think I would prefer, "Housekeeping Challenged".

Ah well. I do feel weighed down by responsibilities sometimes. Paul works long hours, he usually doesn't even get to eat dinner with us unless I serve it past 7:30. And he's so tired these days, just from work. He is in a-fib constantly, and it tires him out. (yes, he is seeing a good cardiologist, and yes, he is going to be treated for it, yes he is on medication, hopefully the treatment course will cure him of it). He works very hard, and I do what I can to make sure things are nice for him at home. I have always leaned on him for support, as he's leaned on me. But as he has been so tired lately, I feel like I need to step up and handle more. I also feel helpless sometimes, seeing him put his finger on his neck,feeling that pulse of his just flying, skipping all around. I know, I know, lots of people have a-fib. It isn't a death sentence. He'll be fine. But I am still allowed to feel what I feel. I love him so dearly.

In all this, I know that God is weighing and measuring, and giving us just what we can bear, just right for us. He has works to do in us, and sends all the right trials.