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

Thursday, March 22, 2018

just checking in...

What a day! This fine morning, five of my kids left for their long-awaited trip to Norway. They were driving to Boston in four rented vans, then will fly to Germany, then to Norway. Then the train for some, a rental van for the others. What fun!

Here at home, you would THINK it would be quiet. But no, we have Miss Char and Miss Cam, along with cousin Danielle, and then Davian (Anne's 6 year old brother), and also little Anne. Lydia is also supposed to come over. Kathryn is here too. And, Margaret is having contractions, today MAY be the day...:)

Today it's sunny. Blue skies, and sunny. It's only 36 degrees out, but sunshine...the kids were out for a few hours. Char and Dani were walking in the barefeet! The sun has warmed it up, and...well, I guess they are just ready for spring. And yes, we still have tons of snow in the yard.

Now they are back inside. They are having chicken tenders for lunch, and Char is attempting a batch of peanut butter cookies, hopefully fully realizing the difference between a tablespoon and a teaspoon this time, especially for the salt.

Tomorrow, Kathryn Grace turns 20. (She has something going on with one of her molars, and made a dentist appointment, wanting to get it taken care of before she leaves for Norway on Tuesday, so she goes in to the dentist on Monday. Her dental insurance only covers up to age 19. So after tomorrow, she has no insurance. Happy Birthday dear Kathryn.)

Kathryn is my tenth child. I don't honestly remember much about her birth, but I do remember having the world's worst migraine after she was born. Way back when, when my first few babies were born, there was such a thing as a newborn nursery, where the babies would go to sleep in their little glass beds, where there were nurses to rock them to sleep and change their diapers. Maybe they still exist in some hospitals, but they were certainly being phased out to the point of not being used very much by the time Kathryn was born. I remember Paul went home, and I was there with my little newborn, and my headache was getting worse and worse...I pressed the call button, and told them I had a headache, and needed something. They must have had lots of more important things going on. After the headache got really bad, I called again. When I finally got some ibuprofen, I was crying because it hurt so badly. I asked the nurse to please take baby Kathryn for me...I heard her remark to a co-worker as she wheeled her out of my room, "Ten kids! Just wait 'til she gets home!" I cried even harder, because, ha, I was thinking the very same thing.

But look how time flies, and I obviously not only survived, but had six more babies, although not entirely painlessly.

Kathryn was a really easy baby, I do remember that. When she was born, I had my hands full.
Emily was 13
Abigail 11
Benjamin 9
Mirielle 8
Joseph 6
Aaron 5
Mali Rose 4
Samuel 2 and a half
Margaret 15 months, and one day old.

(When Ben was 9, he had seven younger siblings!)

Anyway. Tomorrow is her birthday, and lots of her sisters are gone, so we will figure out something fun to do.

Suri is busy with the empty peanut butter jar. Davian is talking to Kathryn about conjuvating verbs in French, and I am wondering where my Target order is. I have a RedCard, so free 2-day shipping on any order, and no, I am not getting paid to write that, although if I got paid to blog I would be all set. I do love Target, and am looking forward to getting a few new tank tops and an elbow length sleeve top, and a few cute little tops for Miss Cam.

Anyway. The sunshine is brightening up the house, and spring will be here before we know it...:)

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

plans and reality....

Would this make nicer valances than we already have? That was the plan here, for me to hold this fabric, and Cam took pics, so I could see. I thought it would be a nice change, and since I have the sewing machine out on the kitchen table, may as well. This piece of fabric is actually one curtain panel which was reduced to $1.99.

I sat down in my chair with the curtain panel, to put my glasses on and look at the pics Camille took, to decide if they would look okay, and oops, where did I leave my coffee? Cam, be a dear and grab that coffee for me...she is such a sweetheart, she brought it right away, and oops! She was coming at me fast, I put up my hand to try to slow her down, take the cup, but nope, that coffee sloshed all over the $1.99 curtain panel. She said it was because I put my hand up, and I thought it was because she was coming way too fast, but we agreed after four seconds that it was just an unfortunate accident, and oh well, put that thing in the wash...if it doesn't come clean, it doesn't come clean.

And now I am here blogging, while the girls work on spelling.

We spent way too much time this morning dreaming and planning about what exactly we would re-do and renovate if we won the grocery store $250 thousand dollar home prize. Bigger kitchen/dining area for sure, so everyone would fit at the table, bigger island with more stools/chairs, so more people could talk to me as I cook (Cam's idea), an in-ground pool with a nice patio, and new flooring in the kitchen. They like planning out the whole details, and I am thankful I have this time to spend with them.

It's fun to do, but, I suggested, maybe we should just be thankful for the home we have, and try to improve it in the ways we can manage, like the projects we are hoping to start one of these days, painting cabinets, ect.

Anyway, I need to give spelling tests...

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

late night writing...

It's quiet in here, and I am yawning over and over and over again. But the quiet is too delicious to not stay up and enjoy. Jonathan had like five friends over, and if you've never had a house full of teenage boys, well, let's just say they don't even know what the word QUIET means. They're good kids, they really are, and I don't mind them coming over, but it IS noisy. Add the rest of my kids, and someone riding around on the hoverboard, and Suri needing a bath, and you have just a little bit of chaos.

I dragged out the sewing machines today, to teach the little girls how to sew. Camille did okay, she made a pillowcase, with a bit of help. Char declined a turn at the machine, said she would try tomorrow when there's no one around. She is afraid to make a mistake. I mean, Cam sewed the edge of the pillowcase to the middle of it, somehow.

I made a few new covers for the couch pillows, figure it's better to just cover the fur pillows than pack them away...and ha, forget where they are when I want them.

Kathryn made burgers for dinner, and one of my teenage daughters was not happy, she had just showered and washed her hair, and didn't want to "smell like hamburgers." She suggested we grill them outside. um, no. Too cold, sorry!

Paul has been working too much. He left for work far before I got up at 6:45, and came home at almost nine p.m. He ate dinner, didn't sit down, just walked around the kitchen and ate, packed up some lunch, filled the coffee pot for morning, then showered and went to bed. He has projects at work, is going to India again soon, and then after that, Singapore. That's pretty far away.

We are getting a gym membership tomorrow, it expired a bit ago. Kathryn agreed to hold down the fort for a bit, when Anne is napping, so I can go and take Jon, Char, and Cam to the pool for a swim. :)

Well, sorry, but it's no good staying up late to write when the kids have all gone to bed if I can't stop yawning! I wish I could just sleep here in my chair. I am too tired to get up and take a shower, but I will. In a minute.

Yesterday, Camille and I sneaked out and about for a little while. We went to the craft store, and got some new spring fake flowers, and some Easter decorations, which were 70% off, then an additional 15% off for my teacher's discount. So we got a basket for like 45 cents, and some sparkly eggs to put in it, and a few small cute little bunnies, and a string of pastel lights to put on the bookcase. Cam thought it was great fun, and I am a sucker for The Enthusiasm of Children, and Lord knows there are not enough "children" around here anymore. They get older and roll their eyes at cute bunnies!

In the afternoon, Evelyn and I took a quick trip to the thrift store, and yay, I found the perfect little bookshelf for Jon's room! He asked for one, and I said to wait, I'd find one at the thrift store, and it was only $8.99. I can't wait to chalk paint it. I also got a water table for the deck, for spring and summertime with grandchildren (and for Anne!), for $4.99. Ev found an excellent jacket, and some Tom's (shoes) which looked unworn, and I found new Adidas pants. All for 34 dollars.

Anyway. Today was a stay-at-home day, which was nice. Anne was as cute as she usually is. We got some school done, and I made a keto almond flour lemon/blueberry bread that was super yummy. The recipe was for one loaf, but it baked it in two pans so the loaves were smaller. I ate about half of one throughout the day, but sliced up a lot to freeze. It's nice to be able to microwave the almond bread with some butter, and have a good healthy snack when I really want something carb-y. Camille shredded up orange zest for me since we had no lemons, then I added lemon juice, it was just yummy. I did add two teaspoons of honey, which isn't bad for two loaves, 30 calories of sweetener, and two packets of stevia. It was moist and looked delicious, but was unsweet and satisfying.

Tomorrow, Abigail is stopping in, Benjamin is coming for dinner with Ashley and Anya (and baby Elise, but she doesn't eat food yet!)

Margaret and Adrian's baby was due yesterday, so one of these days, you will open this blog, and there'll be pics of grandbaby # five!!! She is SO ready to have that baby! Adrian is so excited he can barely sleep. Ha get used to it, right?

Then Thursday morning, four of the kids(and Abigail) are heading out to Boston in a fleet of rental vans with the other youth kids, to fly to Norway for their Easter camp. (Mirielle and Kathryn are going later) It's all centered around the young people, like 4,200 of them from around the world, doing activities and having meetings. It's also for their mentors, older youth who have good soft hearts and work with the younger ones. It's really amazing that they get to go, they are SO excited about it! They have to miss a bit of school, so they have been so busy making up work in advance. They have been washing their clothes and packing and having permission forms signed, and remembering shampoo and fretting over TWELVE DAYS of underwear!

It's all quite exciting. It will be super quiet here, with just Paul and I, and Joseph, and the little girls here, and then Anne coming over, and Lydia...they will both be here on Thursday.

Next week, ugh, I have that biopsy on Monday, a mammogram on Wednesday, then an appointment with the breast cancer specialist on the following Monday. I also am planning and hoping to be with Marg and Adrian when their baby is born, so I have to figure out what to do with little girls, have a back-up plan for Anne (I think her Aunt Audrey, my sister Cheryl's youngest, will watch her). Never a dull moment. I'm glad my life isn't dull, but a few dull moments all strung together would suit me. :) With a stack of good books, and some cookies, although I am not eating cookies these days. I don't like to come out and say it, but I am doing okay, diet-wise. Once I get a few days of clean eating under my considerably large belt, I feel on top of the world, so I have to be careful, because we all know what happens too easily, and it starts with maybe an absent-minded bite of something chocolate, or the dreaded ONE POTATO CHIP. Or, maybe it starts with the thought that since it's a party, or since we worked so hard, or since I spent so much money on this pizza, or or or...there is no end to the plethora of excuses that flood my brain on a regular basis. Getting sugar free helps. I am trying to ease myself back into more strict keto, that way I am mildly interested in donuts and cookies, but feel satisfied...and well, that's not entirely true. I am never, nor have ever been, only MILDLY interested in donuts and cookies. It's my plague in life, the thorn in my flesh, my Achilles heel.

And...I'm tired. Goodnight.

Monday, March 19, 2018

monday funday...

Can you say Sweet Sixteen? Not talking about my daughter Sonja, who will be turning sixteen in May (how did THAT happen? My five-girls-in-a-row-in-5-years will be: 21, 20, 18, 17, and 16...wowza) I am talking about the Syracuse basketball team...barely made it into the tournament, and beat Michigan State last night! We do our fundraisers at the Dome, Syracuse University, and have been at pretty much all their home games, for years, so it's nice to see them win big!

In other news, not so much. Trying to navigate this parenting stuff, appointments, reports, figure out what's the most important...

Our Cabin In The Woods rental is coming up in only three months. Yay!

Five of our kids are leaving on Thursday for a 12 day trip to Norway. Two others are leaving next week for a shorter version of the trip. Margaret and Adrian's baby is due today.

I spent too much time trying to figure out who our new vision care provider is this morning, as well as applying for a five dollar vitamin rebate. I read the morning news, blah...Hillary says women who voted for Trump only did so because they can't think for themselves and voted the way their husbands did. ? Insulting? Just for the record, I couldn't bring myself to vote for either of the two of them, but that's irrelevant. The meanness and the rudeness...blah.

I have had my coffee this morning and have lots to do. Sorry this is so are all up and talking to me...

Friday, March 16, 2018


Sometimes I wonder how people who don't write, sort out their thoughts. I think of this blog like a huge colander for the things that swirl around in my head. I sit here with no idea what will come out through my fingers onto the screen, then things become clear as I read what I have written. I rarely edit, which is probably obvious.

Today, I am thinking about how much I like life. I was getting cream for my coffee this morning, standing there in the kitchen with one hand on the refrigerator door and the other on my lower back, and I realized just how fortunate I am. It came like a lightening bolt...standing there in a warm kitchen, pouring hot coffee, with two sweet kitties rubbing against my legs. That I am a lucky girl.

I am excited for the days to come. Margaret and Adrian are having their baby soon, and Lydia was here with her mama, Mali, last night, lighting up the house, and Anya almost came over but was still recovering from being sick...these little ones, I love them! And I was thinking about going out to visit my son Aaron...they are buying a house in Eugene, Oregon, moving from California. I was thinking of the camp we are renting in June, in the Adirondacks. I was thinking of the sisters' conference coming up in May, on the weekend that Emily graduates...finally, she'll be a nurse practitioner!

Spring...I was also thinking of spring. Today we are getting a bit more snow, it's dark and gloomy, with big fat snowflakes falling on the snow we already have. Joseph just got back from the gym a half an hour ago, and his car is covered again. It's not windy or blizzard-y, just snow.

I have always been a thinker of about mortality, lived with a knowledge that our days are numbered. And not to be dramatic, but with this possibility of endometrial cancer, I have decided even more to live life to the fullest, even if it's just a day here at home. It's too easy to just go through the motions, to live in such a take-it-for-granted way. I can talk to my kids without really hearing what I'm saying, and without seeing the effect it has on them. I've been working on actually connecting with each of them, listening to them, pulling them in for a hug...although with teenage girls this isn't always what they want, ha.

I've noticed that we can live with the same background thoughts streaming perpetually in our heads without even noticing that we live by them: he's this way, she always says that, no one listens to me, I'm tired of making dinner, wah wah wah.

But when I decide to have new thoughts, to bless more, to think less of myself, to say NO to being offended, to fight tooth and nail against all that would divide, which is MY OWN SIN...things go so much better. We just walk around with these little demands inside, that other people should be different...and we miss out on what we SHOULD be aware of, which is how annoying and demanding WE are.

Yesterday, we went on a small outing, mostly wanting to get out of the house. For one thing, I saw my sister in Bed Bath and Beyond, checking out the clearance, it was so nice to see her. She had to leave though, was with a daughter who had to get to work...then she texted me a little while later and said, "Open your window". I texted back, "We're in Marshalls." She replied, "Oops so who is that 2 cars behind us in McDonald's that we're waving to?:):):)" ha.

In Marshalls, which I was scouting looking for tights for Sonja, and of course who can resist looking at their housewares and home decorations?...anyway, I went to walk down one aisle, and there were two people blocking the aisle, I tried the next aisle, and same thing. I grumbled about it as I decided out loud to just skip those aisles. Then I realized, loud and clear, how ridiculous I was being. Those people have every right to shop, to converse...I thought to myself, after seeing how jerky I was being, "Do you really want to turn into a miserable, complaining old lady?"

Anyway. Life is interesting. And I decided, for the umpteenth time, to make the most out of the days.

Yesterday when we got home, Miss Anne, who had taken just a little nap in the van, decided NOT to go back to sleep here for a nap. She was fine though, playing dollhouse and walking around singing here ABC's. Charlotte decided to make peanut butter cookies all by herself. I decided to let her, which meant staying out of the kitchen, so I didn't end up micromanaging. Well, she made beautiful cookies, picture perfect...but she added 1/2 TABLESPOON of salt instead of 1/2 TEASPOON. oops. So to fix it, after the first batch baked, she added baking cocoa and more brown sugar to the rest of the batter, and it helped alot. And, hopefully she learned!:)

I made chicken soup...I cut up the whole package (six pounds) of chicken breast into cubes, dredged in flour and salt and pepper, and browned it up in batches, in olive oil...then put it into chicken broth, then added fresh sliced carrots, which Camille cut up for me. (they like to watch Master Chef Jr., what can I say?) I cooked egg noodles on the side, so the whole soup didn't get mushy, and also steamed some broccoli. It was a warm yummy dinner...Margaret and Adrian, and Mali and Lydia were here.

I bought some new slippers in Marshall's for four dollars...happiness. I am a scuffling-around-slipper-wearer. I would rather be barefoot, but the floors, mostly the tiles in the kitchen, are too cold.

Our last stop yesterday was the grocery store. We have a chain here in the Northeast, Wegman's. You can't dislike Wegman's. They price all the essentials moderately, but also have the really high end stuff, their produce is beautiful, their meat is excellent, they don't really have sales, just all the time good value, and their stores feel warm and welcoming. Their fresh Italian bread is head and shoulders above other supermarket bread. Their own store made hot sausage is delicious, the chicken breast is always $1.99 a pound, burger is equally cheap. You can go through the store quickly and get what you need without breaking the bank, although you can easily do that too.

Anne sang her way through Wegman's. She charmed the cashier, and the cashier one over, with her sweet little voice, as she tried in vain to reach the check-out candy and the buttons on the card reader. I love her to pieces, but bringing her bye-bye makes me wonder how I managed for all those the time most of mine were her age (18 months), I would have had a newborn too, sometimes a three month old, and then of course there would be the almost-three-year old, and the four year old...ha.

Today, Anne is not coming over. We decided to go on an outing that does not include the grocery store, but haven't decided yet what to do....

Thursday, March 15, 2018

does shoveling the driveway count as a workout?

Or as an outing?

We got more snow last night, it looks like a winter wonderland out there. I baked four pumpkin pies for pi day,

(when I say "I", I mean "we". Char and Cam made the filling, they had to double the recipe and mix it up themselves while I made the crust, then they filled them. Char also made some delicious "cinnamon buns" from the scraps of the crust...she rolled it all out, added butter and cinnamon/sugar, rolled it up, and sliced it with dental floss...they were way too good.)

Imagine me, lover of all things pumpkin, snowed in with four fresh pumpkin pies. Can we just say that TODAY, I am not having any pie? And can we also mention: it WAS lunch.

Anyway. This morning I got up and shoveled a path for the high school girls. I didn't shovel the whole thing. Paul had left for work already, he is a workaholic. Not that he LOVES working, but there is always some project or other, and he goes in early and gets home late. Last evening, I felt terrible because we had made an excellent dinner, chicken fajitas. I had cut the chicken breasts into slices, and marinated it in lemon and lime juices, and spices and olive oil. Then Jonathan and I each manned a frying pan, and we browned those slices up. The girls cut up peppers and romaine, and got out cheese, tortillas, ect. Paul worked late, walked in while we were finishing dinner...and oops. The chicken was gone. 5.73 pounds of chicken breast. I felt soooooo bad. He made himself some eggs.

It's not my fault the chicken was so good. ha.

Winter seems here to stay. This coming weekend is forecast to be...cold. Really cold. I don't want to be sick and tired of it, I want to embrace it, but...I long for sunshine on my skin. I like the coziness, but...

We do have the world's nicest kitty. This kitty, who thinks the UppaBaby bassinet is for him.

Sunny and Little Orange Guy, they keep an eye on things...

They are cute, aren't they?

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

well I wasn't expecting that...

So I went to my appointment yesterday, and thought the doctor would say, "Oh Mrs. W., everything is absolutely fine! You can go home and enjoy life, you'll no doubt live 'til you're a hundred!" But he didn't say that. The sonogram technician was very serious, told me I was smart to come right in. Then the nurse who talked to me before I saw the doctor echoed that. She explained what was likely going to happen during the doctor's exam, so when she left the room, I crawled out the window and ran down the road. Not really. But anyway. The doctor came in and did not say that I was going to live to one hundred, but he didn't give me a death sentence either. He explained that the sono showed a thickening of the uterine lining, which along with the postmenopausal bleeding, is something that has to be "further explored." He said, and I quote, "This is not just nothing." That is doctor-speak for "you aren't just wasting your money."

So, he told me to load up on ibuprofen, because this next procedure is going to hurt. He really said that. I got to choose to do it in the office, or over at the hospital, and duh, I chose the office. It's got to be cheaper, and it seems less...less serious. It didn't happen yesterday, no, that would be too simple, I instead have to wait for two weeks, just biding my time and living my life, and not thinking about tombstone sayings, although I do think I'll stick with the simple statement, "She Tried.", as my son Aaron suggested several years ago.

This whole thing is a trial of patience, because it takes a few weeks to get into the dr. in the first place, then this appointment was two weeks later, then the next one in two weeks...if it IS cancer, it could be having a pretty big party in all this time, don't ya think? Catch it early, they say. You'll have a much higher survival rate, they say. Reality: We're booked solid, but we can maybe fit you in two weeks from tomorrow....

But this whole thing is also a trial of faith. Do I really know and believe that the hairs of my head are numbered? And think of the treasures to be gained!

But on a happier note, just look at these best friends...

Sunny and Little Orange Guy just love each other. Orange Guy just rubs against Sunny purring, and curls up and sleeps with her. They chase each other around the house, but never are rough with each other. Sunny will just give the kitty a bath, and kitty will purr and snuggle. I don't know why I get such a kick out of it. And you know how kitties like to attack anything that moves, this kitty attacks wagging dog tails, and the dogs don't do anything about it.

Kitty started rabbit kicking Sunny's face, and Sunny was just like, "Really? Really?"

But back to my doctor's visit: I am not really planning my funeral. I am not actually THAT dramatic, but the thoughts do wander, and people DO die, and one of my best girlfriends died of breast cancer when we were 32 years old. I am also going in for my yearly mammogram, then the next week to the breast cancer specialists...poked and prodded, I tell you. Ain't nobody got time for that.

But in it all, there is real life, and real life is a gift. Even when someone takes the last can of seltzer and leaves the empty box, and when the last person who eats puts the rest of the corned beef in a baggie in the refrigerator but leaves the empty crockpot on the counter without even giving it a rinse. Even when you get home from the grocery store to find out you are out of milk and it's supposed to snow for the next three days.

My daughter Margaret is having a baby soon. I am cordially invited to the birth, which I am honored and thrilled about. They each called me last night after midnight, her husband Adrian, and her. She was having sharp pain, so I said to just go in and get checked out. They said they would text me if it was anything...around 2:30 Adrian texted and said baby is fine, and it isn't time yet. So I finally fell asleep. Tired is my middle name, I tell you.

One of these nights it WILL be time, and I hope it isn't snowing, they live a good half an hour north of here.

And now Anne is here, we have taken a trip to the library, and stopped into the grocery store for milk, cheese, and oranges, and are home again...