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

Monday, February 20, 2017

our day at Arllington....

Camille was getting a closer look at a stone.

To be honest, Cam wasn't thrilled to go to Arlington again. She wanted to see things she hadn't seen before. I told her to open her eyes, and really try to see things she hadn't noticed before, and to enjoy the beautiful day in the sunshine. We had a few things on our agenda at the cemetery...

The Tomb of The Unknown Soldier...Adrian hadn't been here before. He also has an uncle buried in Arlington, and found his tombstone and took a picture of it for his mother.

The sheer magnitude, the expanse of this place is overwhelming.

This was my point of view most of the time, stopping to smell the roses, or rather read the stones, then hurrying to catch up.

This poor young man died right after his 21st birthday.

Long story short, Camille ended up having a really good time. These stones tell stories, and for what it's worth, we acknowledge the sacrifices they made, and walk through the rows, thankful for life, for freedom. The kids learned how to figure out the ages of the deceased, so it was a good math lesson. Sam is ever the good teacher, too.

We stopped at a fresh grave, covered in flowers and still without a headstone, Samuel was part of the funeral just a few weeks ago, when a young major passed away, one of Sam's fellow soldiers. We stopped and shed a few tears for him. A few feet away from his grave was a woman sitting in a lawn chair, right in front of what I assume was her husband's stone. She just sat there in the sunshine. That alone was enough to bring on the tears.

We also visited the Marine Memorial.

These flowers also evoked the prickling of a few tears. Who placed them there? A wife, an old veteran who lost his buddies, or maybe a patriotic young person who is just plain thankful?

And now I have to go to return the rental car....

home...ah, home!

This was taken today, on Sam's three year anniversary of joining the Army...

And this one was taken three years ago....

We left Florida at about nine o'clock on Friday night, and drove all night long, arrived in Washington D.C. on Saturday morning. We picked Sam up and headed to the capital...

This was taken in front of Starbucks, I believe it was the one that stupid protesters damaged after the inauguration. (I mean, protest all you like, it's a free country, but for heaven's sake, leave the businesses alone!)

I was in a fog, I hadn't slept at all while Adrian drove because Jonathan was his co-pilot, and they kept themselves awake by reading stupid jokes...blonde jokes...and roaring with laughter. By the time it was my turn to drive I was exhausted...but we pressed on, and made it into the crazy city of D.C.

The Museum of Natural History is always fun.

Sam is a natural born teacher.

The girls liked the Hope Diamond.

And the zebras...

And the giraffe....

We walked to the monument, then turned back to where we parked the car, clocking almost five miles.

Our hotel was nice, but it was 35 minutes from the middle of the lots of traffic.

But it had a nice pool, a hot tub, a reception in the evening with free drinks and snacks, and an amazing breakfast. Plus, it fit six comfortably, and the 8 of us fit in just fine.

And today was spent walking again almost five miles, all around Arlington National Cemetery....

Friday, February 17, 2017

the sunshine state...

Yesterday, we went to Busch Gardens. Cheetahs and lions, and rhinos, along with flamingos and other tropical birds, and the gardens...oh it was lovely. The roller coasters and! I didn't ride the really crazy ones, I get too dizzy. Once my equilibrium gets messed up, the day is a headache, so I just went on a few milder ones. I don't get bored waiting while the kids ride because people watching is at a premium in amusement parks.

Grocery store geek: The Wynn-Dixie.


Today we spent a few hours at the pool....a dip in the hot tub, and lying in the sun...ahh.

Back at home, in the land of snow, the refrigerator repair man was visiting today with the spare parts. I hope it's all fixed and good and stays good.

The dogs are being bad, according to the kids at home. Sunny chews everything and has too much energy. She's probably lonely. I miss her too:)

We are planning our trip home now, 24 hours of driving, dang and blah.

We want to stop in Washington, D.C. and see Samuel. So we are trying to work out the we leave tonight and drive at night? The roads are clearer, but it's harder to see. If we leave in the morning and drive all day, we'll get there so late at we have to figure it out.

I don't want to leave Florida, don't want to leave Grandma. But as with all good things, it must come to an end.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

just a little bit of sunshine....

Camille is my little friend, my dear youngest daughter, my sweetie. She absolutely delights in the pool here in Grandma's community. She so nicely jumps in like a pencil, making nary a splash, in deference to the older people who probably don't want their hair wet as they walk around talking in the pool. We go back in the afternoon when we have the pool to ourselves, and she jumps in to her heart's content.


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

road trip to florida!!!

With Sonja K....

With Sonja and Margaret and Adrian and Camille, Charlotte Claire, and Jonathan...

We drove and drove and drove...and arrived in Amelia Island on Sunday morning. Our room wasn't ready yet, but the hotel people were so very nice and let us use the bathrooms to change, and let us park the van there. The beach was right there, just a short walk, and within view.

We splashed in the cold water, and nodded off on our blanket. The kids collected shells and kicked the soccer ball.

Miss Charlotte Claire...

After our time on the beach, we checked in and discovered we were really hungry. We ordered pizza, and Miss Sonja and I went to pick them up, stopping first at Publix, which of course I loved, and got some salad and drinks, and some really pretty cupcakes for the kids.

After dinner and some lounging around the room, we headed down to the was amazing in the dark, the sky lit up with stars.

One of the interesting things about having lots of kids is trying to connect with each one of them. Having Sonja K. 14, Jonathan 12, Char 10, and Cam 9 is VERY FUN. Sonja is the youngest of my five-girls-in-a-row, and is almost 15, and is a regular eye-rolling teenager. But when she's with the younger ones, she tends to be more carefree. And it's fun.

We are with Grandma now...fresh strawberries are in season here. Imagine that. It's actually HOT OUT.

And now I will sign off, and write again later...

Friday, February 10, 2017

the roller coaster of a snowglobe

This is right now out my window, from my comfy chair.

We have had a mild winter, so we aren't allowed to complain. Just an hour or so north of here, along the eastern shore of Lake Ontario, there are places that have gotten feet upon feet of snow. The snowbanks are ten feet high. But. We're getting a little dose of it today.

School was delayed for two hours, then cancelled. I was supposed to go pay the taxes, but Paul nicely said he would, hey, he has a truck.

The refrigerator guy is coming in a few hours. I have a feeling he's going to look at it, and come back next week with the part to fix it.

My 3 high school teenagers are sleeping in, they are thrilled to have a snow day!

I didn't get to sleep in, because the refrigerator guy was going to call, then he did, and now he's coming. So up I got.

It was particularly painful this morning because I had somewhat of a turbulent night. Duke, Old Dukey, started in on his persistent intermittent barking at 4:00 a.m. At 4:13, I got out of the warm bed and ventured out here. I immediately spotted a pile of poop, which I stepped over, right into: (sorry if you are having breakfast), a pile of doggy throw up. I will be kind and spare you the details, and also I am not sure what I said, but it most certainly wasn't, "Yay!"

So I shooed the dogs out into the cold snowy night, and got to work. I cleaned up the messes by the door, and looked yonder into the living room, and what the heck? It looked like someone was playing a big joke on me. There were, no lie, eight more piles of barf. Eight. At first I suspected Duke, he's getting old and all, but then I realized there were chewed things in it, sorry, but it HAD to be puppy. Little Miss Sunshine. She was eating tree branches in the yard. She eats plastic bags if she can get them, she eats anything. It's like babyproofing for a toddler around here, yet she still finds things to eat.

Anyway. I cleaned it all up, let them back in, gave them a biscuit and told them to go lie down. I washed off my feet, and climbed back into my warm bed. It was 4:43.

And I tossed. I turned. I thought about our trip. I thought about homeschooling reports, assignments, packing. I thought about my sister (she's doing pretty good, but how is someone supposed to do after going through such an operation?)(she has an excellent attitude, but there is a lot of suffering!). I prayed for my kids, I prayed for my friends. I thought about myself and how I waste time and energy so often on feeling this way or that, instead of just giving it up and being good. I thought fondly of Paul, and what a good guy he is...he is going to be gone for two weeks, and that gets long. And I thought about our van.

I brought it in for an oil change yesterday, and I asked them to please give it a good look to make sure it will make the long drive to Florida. I know they can't guarantee we won't end up on the side of the road somewhere...but they can give us an idea.

So their idea was that we should not drive this van to Florida. It needs a new catalytic converter, which we knew, but we were told we could drive it like that for a while. Yesterday they said it was really clogged up, and they wouldn't recommend a long trip like that with it like that. Okay, I said, knowing they are very pricey, can you get it done by Saturday? Ha. The part takes five days to get in, once it's ordered. Okay. hmm. I asked Paul if he thought our old van would make the trip. He didn't think so. It's mileage is closer to 200 thousand now, and...he will be all the way in India, he just didn't think we should take it.

So all of the sudden, I was faced with not being able to go. We were thinking of other weeks, but with Paul's travel schedule, and Margaret and Adrian already having some off from work, and the fact that for once, I am ahead of myself and ALREADY PACKED. I was feeling rather down, rather like I was going to cry. Now, I don't like being a drama queen, I actually thought to myself, Now, what would I tell someone else in this situation? Maybe something like, "accept it, make the best of it, it happens for a reason, go cry about it then get over it."

Sometimes you can't help feeling like you're going to cry. Jonathan was hilarious, he was the adult while I sulked. Okay, I didn't sulk, not a total sulk, just a let down blah.

Then Grandma came through and suggested we rent a car, that she'd take care of it. Well, Jonathan said, "I knew there was a reason I didn't get really sad." And he proceeded to make a nice offer on Priceline.

So we'll be driving a nice new rental down to Florida.


I am tired today. I am ready to take Duke out and shoot him, but I don't really mean that. He's my little buddy. He is moving so slowly, I know his days are numbered, but it takes so little to make him happy. He's always been the kind of dog that you just look at, or when he could still hear, say his name, and he would wag. Now I just pet him and he looks at me and and wags, and honestly, I feel like lately he's looking at me like he's saying, "I'm getting so done with all of this.".

Anyway. Time to get moving.

Thursday, February 9, 2017


This is my favorite time of the day, the quiet hour. The three teenage high school girls are out the door, the dogs have been out twice and fed, played with, petted, and are snoring on the couch. The fake heater is humming, it's realistic flames cozying it up in here while it snows like crazy out the window. The little girls spent the night at Margaret and Adrian's, and Jonathan is still in bed, reading, "The Lord Of The Rings". Kathryn has the day off from her job at the grocery store in town so she's sleeping in, and Joseph is in his room.

I am supposed to have the van to the shop in town in four minutes, for an oil change. It ain't gonna happen. I cannot bring myself to hurry out into the snow just yet. I haven't enjoyed this quiet hour enough.

I did not get enough sleep last night, thank you Duke. I stayed up too late, then he woke me up at 5:15. Barking. Every few minutes, getting closer together and louder, until I get up and let him out. It's like hearing a newborn making that scratching sound on the sheet, then whimpering, and you're like, "please just go back to sleep...", then they start to cry...but letting the dogs out isn't like snuggling and feeding a warm fragrant baby. The floors are cold, and my bed is warm. I fully intended to go back to bed, and I did get back under the warm covers for a while, but sleep didn't find me. Then I remembered I really needed to get up with the high school girls because they are going out and about with Emily this afternoon, and I wanted to give them a little bit of money.

It's good I got up with them. One of them started crying, her friends at school simply won't talk to her. So I made sure she had a good lunch, at least. And I reminded her that she would be having fun after school with Em and her sisters.

Today's my day for going out and about, getting Jonathan a haircut and some swim shorts. He's growing up and growing out of everything, and the next boy older than him is Samuel, 21 years old in the Army, I certainly didn't save his old clothes for Jon. So Jon gets everything new, ha, except for what we get at thrift stores. (lucky Jon, he comes after the five-girls-in-a-row, and before Char and Cam).

Tomorrow I have to stay home during the day because of the refrigerator repair. And Saturday, we leave for Florida! We aren't leaving until the afternoon because Paul is leaving for India, and I have to bring him to the airport. I am counting on the refrigerator being fixed, so I can buy some food for the kids who will be home.

Anyway. Never a dull moment. I should really get moving, I guess...blah, I don't want to.