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, September 17, 2018


Cousin Danielle, Camille, me and Miss Charlotte Claire. We had a nice weekend at the soccer tournament. Jonathan played hard...his team tied, then won, then lost in the semi-finals. He was worn right out, it was extremely hot and humid.

Lydia at the soccer tournament...:)

A wedding?!!! In five days!!!? wow. My son Joseph is getting married in five days.

(Aren't they cute?) Bethany and Joseph...

They're getting married on Saturday. I still need to find a dress, but what's the hurry, right? Either I find one, or I wear something I already have. I want to get something for the girls too, Char and Cam, and also maybe Suzanne and Sonja...Evelyn and Kathryn work, so they can get their own, but oh dear it's always so busy and we need to get a break from everything and just go and try things on. Five days, ha. In that time, I also need to buy food for 80-something people, bake chocolate chip cookies, as we are doing a welcome snack in the foyer of cookies and milk, and coffee, and ice water. I'm really fine with doing this, I'm glad we're doing the food ourselves, it's work, but it's also fun, and it's a labor of love. We want to make it nice for them.
The menu is:
pulled pork (and fresh rolls)
beef brisket
Mariel's homemade macaroni and cheese with panko breadcrumbs
tossed salad

Donuts from the best bakery, down near the the town I grew up in...oh yummy.

So shopping a bit tomorrow, then Thursday, baking cookies Thursday night, Friday last minute shopping maybe, some food prep, Saturday putting the meats in the oven early, food prep, wedding in the afternoon...

This fine morning, Anne is here, being her usual cute two year old self, Lydia is here but still sleeping. Anne has the t.v. remote and is saying, "A cell phone!"

We need a library trip, but have two small children and only one car seat, so we will be waiting until afternoon:)

Is everything all sunshine-y and sweet? Yes, and no. Yes, with the right attitude. But there is a time and season for everything under the sun, and at the moment, we have close friends going through a huge trial. Dave and Angela have 8 kids, and Dave was diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus over ten years ago, has had spots on his lungs, chemo, radiation...their youngest son was just a baby when the cancer showed up, he has lived his whole life with this. Dave now has two tumors on his brain and is really suffering. He's been out of work, and his wife has been there at his side, and also not working during this latest ordeal. Emily set up a go-fundme for them, private message me at if you would like to see it. Also, you can read his blog at Cancer Chronicles. Dave is funny even when he's in the most challenging of trials. Pray for him and his family!!!

Friday, September 14, 2018


poison ivy. My kids seem to be allergic to it. When Ben was younger, his eyes would swell shut, just mowing the lawn. Now he says he used to get it "on purpose" so he could miss school. That doesn't make sense, because it's widely known that I would let a kid miss a day if he just asked.

Anyway, Jonathan Robert got himself into some poison ivy, dove right in while playing hide and seek or cops and robbers or whatever game had him diving into the woods last weekend with his friends. He knows he should have showered right away when he realized he jumped right into it, but he was at his friend's house. The rash spread and spread, now he has blistery toes and it hurts to walk. His legs are covered, and some of it's painful. So to the pediatrician we went this fine morning. Kathryn didn't work today so the girls stayed here with her, and off we went, just Jonny and me.

It took a long long time at the doctor's office. Our appointment was for 9:30, we got there at 9:15, and left at almost eleven. Then to Walmart for a 'script of prednisone, and of course just a wee bit of looking around in there, some chocolate milk, sandwich baggies, a cute outfit for Miss Lydia, and fifty dollars later, we were headed to the thrift store. We had to drop off lots of games and clothes, we cleaned out two closets yesterday. Then to BJ's for pork chops, burger for a cookout on Sunday, and some chocolate.

The little drive through coffee place, yummers, a cold brew coffee with cream and two shots of peanutbutter (they usually use FIVE, but I can't drink that sugar, I shouldn't have any at all, but oh dear, I love cold brew with peanut butter....) Jon had an iced tea.

A stop for gas, both in the gascan for his four-wheeler, and a few gallons for the thirsty minivan.

Home, ahh, home.

We have Anne here today. She's two years old now, and she's darling, but oh does she know how to pitch a fit when she doesn't get her way. It's very typical, and it doesn't bother me much, and she is so very cute. And cuddly. She is very cuddly.

I grilled some coneys last night after putting two pans of red-skinned potatoes, sliced up with olive oil, into the oven...oven fries are good with lots of oil, and salt. These guys kept me company while I grilled, all four of our animals...

(Mama Kitty, aka Kettler, Orange Guy, Little Miss Sunshine aka Sunny, and Suri, which means, "princess", and is totally accurate.)

I wasn't all alone with the animals though, Samuel called me on his way home from class. He's back home in Virginia, and I miss him. Just last week he was actually sitting outside with me while I grilled, but the phone call was not bad either.

I miss my kids. They're my friends, and I miss them when they're gone. Evelyn works now, and Suzanne and Sonja are in school all day, and the older ones who have moved out, I don't see very often. When you're a mom and your kids are your friends, you are at their mercy, ha. Yesterday when they came in the door, one daughter was just plain rude, but she was tired, and hates school and is working really hard to keep up on everything. They have their struggles, and I can only encourage and listen, and once in a while perhaps straighten them out a bit, if I sense it's a good time for that.

Anyway, Suzanne and Sonja just came in the bye for now.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

my sister....

Yesterday was Cheryl Rene's birthday, so we went out to dinner with three of her seven daughters, with their husbands, her husband, and our friends Hobie and Karen. And no, we didn't get sloshed, I had one light beer, which I enjoyed slowly as I ate my was good, and it was fun.

My sister is ten years older than me. She is the oldest of the 7 in our family, there were five brothers but Billy passed away. So it was Cheryl, then four brothers, Bob, Tom, Joe, Billy, and me, and our youngest brother, Casey.

She had breast cancer, so I guess that makes her a breast cancer survivor, she also has asthma and allergies and different things, but she is firm in her faith that God causes all things to work for her best. She is too much fun, and doesn't care a hoot what anyone thinks of her. She lives five miles away, and we used to talk on the phone every day, now it's like once a week. Through the years, I have had variations of a dream that I move into a house far far away, and am at some point in the dream, struck with the realization that I will rarely see my sister anymore, and it hurts my heart, and I picture her old and wobbly, and I wonder what I've done, why on earth I moved away...

Yesterday, we had a rainy, rainy day, gloomy and chilly, with the fake fireplace humming and blankets over us as we did our school work. Mali came to pick up Lydia, and I made some French toast and sausage. (I skipped the bread, just cooked up the leftover egg:( )

Our van is STILL in the shop, hopefully we'll get it back today. Our other van has issues too, the exhaust system has to be replaced, I pull up to the stoplights and it sounds like a teenager car, and I have to shake my head at the other drivers, no, I do not want to race, I am not revving the engine, I just have barely any muffler left here.

I would like a brand new minivan. Or even a new used minivan. One with four-wheel drive, so I won't be as terrified of winter driving. But I don't want a brand new car payment, or even a new used car payment, so there's that.

And seriously? Once you get going on the things you want, they start becoming the things you need, and you get dissatisfied with what you already have, and think that when you get what you "need", you will be happy. And it never ends! Shh, I have been looking at used pop-up campers. Camping in a tent for a fat old lady is not fun, not that I would know, ha. And Paul and I could go away for weekends, and and now I NEED one, ha.

There's nothing wrong with having goals, and living comfortably if you can, but for me, it's more restful to be thankful for what I have, and let it go, the striving for more. It's like the time several years ago when I went grocery shopping, and there was a glitch at the register. A computer system bug from the main office, and my huge-0 cart full of groceries had to be unbagged and all rescanned, then it happened again. It wasn't my card, it was the register, and the manager was there trying to figure it out. I can't remember the details, but I was certainly either preggo or had a small baby with me, and lots of little ones. So the manager said, "Today is your lucky day. You get all of your groceries free." It was over two hundred dollars worth. My mother was behind me in line with just a few things, which she got for free too. And it makes me sick to admit this, but my euphoria was cut short with this thought: I should have bought steak.

Anyway. Today is a good day. Evelyn left for work, and the two high school girls went out the door happy, Suzanne made cookies last night for them to bring to school, and I stopped at the store last night and got them some Mentos and cheese crackers for lunch. I got Jonathan some M&M's, also to share with Lydia when she goes potty on the toilet.

I told the girls if they did their school work nice and early, we could go to the craft store today...

Saturday, September 8, 2018


...when you put the sweater on in the morning and regret it by afternoon. The crisp in the air IS refreshing. And today, Charlotte Claire, Camille, and I are working at a harvest festival.
We made these yesterday:

Five batches of Rice Krispie treats.

I don't want to say goodbye to all of our flowers.

Kettler kitty...

Last night's dinner:)

This fine morning, all 8 of the kids who still live here have been eating bacon and eggs, and solving the world's problems. The living room is busy today. Last night, Emily, Mariel, Sam, Margaret and Adrian, and some of Jonathan's friends were also here. we go.

Friday, September 7, 2018

break out the pumpkin spice!!!

It's chilly here in the northeast, finally! Now, I am not one to wish summer away, like some of those Fall Fanatics, pining to walk in crunchy leaves. I like my pool and the sunshine on bare arms. But, it has been so humid and warm lately, the cool feels good.

The pool has been 82 degrees. With the cooler temps, the water is going to get cold, and even if/when it warms up next week, is anyone going to want to swim? It's the yearly dilemma, when do we close up the pool? If I were a millionaire, I would have an indoor pool. Not a huge-0 one, just one of those small endless pools...

Anyway. Never an end to the drama around daughter has a creepy boss, another needs to get to the city north of here for work and there aren't enough vehicles, one van still in the shop. Mali couldn't get a rental car yet yesterday so we had Lydia overnight again, which is fine, but the two high school girls have tons of homework already and Lyd wants them to play with her:) Suze was doing homework with Lydia on her lap.

Here's the thing: I don't mind at all if the kids tell me their troubles, I'm glad to try and help any way I can. I usually ask first if they've prayed about it. I told the high school girls this morning to make sure they FIRST have a connection to God, and if they are faithful in that, all other things will fall into place.

I do feel overwhelmed sometimes. I don't "work", but somehow, I am always working, ha. Yesterday, I made a triple batch of chocolate chip cookie dough. It was as hot as an oven in here anyway, may as well bake. I haven't made cookies in a while, and Samuel was leaving this afternoon, so I thought it would be nice...and for school lunches, ect. Well, Sam has drill this weekend too, so he's staying until Sunday.

Today, I am making lots of rice krispie treats, autumn-y ones, for a fall harvest bake sale. I might be working there tomorrow too. Paul and seven of the older kids are working at the college football game, but I didn't sign up because I have the younger three, and didn't know if I would have Lydia or not.

Wisdom from 14 year old Jonathan: Mom, don't you know by now that that's how teenage girls are? This was in response to me lamenting on how one of them gave me the total silent treatment in spite of me being nice and giving her a ride. Ha, Jon, I should know that by now, right?

I do have feelings, and they do get hurt, but then what do I do? Hurt feelings can lead to bitterness, tiny little thoughts banked up, hardening the heart. If I don't forgive and let things go, then I am the one who loses out, after all, it's MY heart that gets damaged. It has nothing to do with the person who "wronged" me. It feels really good and freeing to forgive, and keep my heart pure. And honestly, after I've put my own heart right with God, and worked with these things, there is grace to talk about them, and I can straighten things out in a peaceful spirit. Maybe sometimes I sense it's not necessary to rebuke or remind or straighten a matter out, sometimes it is. I think often of the verse, "Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?" (Romans 2:4) I know from experience that when I have been riled up about something, if someone is especially patient with me, and kind, then I am much more apt to see myself, and how stirred up I am. So I know that if I can just be good in return, that will accomplish more than a thousand rebukes.

So never a dull moment around here. I have a lot to work on, both in the earthly, and spiritually.

And now...time to get moving...:)

Thursday, September 6, 2018

getting up in the morning...

All of you people who get up and go to work every morning all year round, shh, let me vent anyway, lame as it is: It's SO hard to get up in the morning when summer ends!! School mornings, ugh. I don't even go to school, but the least I can do is get up and see the two high school girls off, in case they need anything signed, and to, shh again, make sure they are dressed properly. (this isn't usually an issue, but there have been occasional sending back to change episodes, which are just lovely in the morning ha).

Anyway, yawn. The girls are really tired, they enjoyed summer right to the last drop. Homework started right away too, so their free time is about nil.

I need to get up for the homeschool kids anyway, they are on an early schedule so they can get done earlier. Anne came over yesterday too, and Lydia is here.

Last night, I woke in the night and could NOT fall back to sleep. The harder I tried to think about nothing, the more good ideas I had. For one, we are soon replacing our kitchen tile floor, which is bittersweet for me, my brother Billy installed it for us...the brother who died, who killed himself, who shot himself. There is seriously so much denial in my brain about my brother, about how he died, and how I don't allow myself to think about it, because I can't even process it. So tile floor - Billy - thoughts, wonderings, ect. The tile floor is, btw, very nice, but lots of the tiles have cracked, maybe due to inadequate subflooring, but the sharp little cracked pieces are not safe, and look terrible. The smooth uncracked pieces are beautiful, and I absolutely love the tile floor, and we did consider replacing the broken ones, but they'll probs just crack again.

So I have been doing my research, and am thinking of waterproof vinyl planking that looks like wood. The reviews are good, it looks nice, it's sturdy, and it's not too expensive, plus it's easy to install...the hard part will be to rip out the existing tile. Some people have installed it over tile, but with ours cracked, ect, that wouldn't be smart.

The problem is, it's very close to what we have in the living room, but not exact, the living room is wood-like laminate, and I don't want the floors to clash. There are two large doorways connecting the two rooms. If we went with a totally different color wood, like a white with gray, that would be different, but I like the warmth of the medium colored wood...

So you can see how many things I have to think about in the night.

Plus, Evelyn started a new job yesterday.
Suzanne has an important placement test today.
Sam has lots of things he is sorting through in his life.
Our minivan is in the shop again, the rear brakes were smoking.
I have to make autumn themed rice krispie treats for a church bake sale, before Saturday.
Sunday is the wedding shower for Bethany, who is marrying Joseph, and I have food to prepare.

As I sit here blissfully blogging, I get a call from Mali, oh no, she's fine, but she got into a car's not doing so well, but she's okay. On her way home from a 12 hour night shift at the hospital, a pretty bad fender bender. I was on one phone with her, and the home phone was ringing, it was Sam, and I was like, "OH NO!", but he had only forgotten his lunch, which he actually hadn't forgotten, it was in his car, and he texted me when he found it.

I'm glad she's okay. I'm glad Sam found his lunch.

It's kind of funny, because on snowy mornings, my grown "children" drive to and from work, and I pray, and I am thankful when I get a text saying, "I made it!", but this morning, out of the blue...but I'm glad she's okay. Traumatized a bit, but okay. (And glad Lydia is here with us!)

So today's agenda: teach social studies and biology and go over some math problems and do writing assignments...clean the house, go to the store later for more chlorine tablets for the pool, because I want to keep it open for as long as possible:)

When I jumped up to answer the home phone (Sam calling to see if he left his lunch here anywhere) while on the cell phone with Mali, I forgot my coffee mug, half full, was sitting between my thigh and the armrest of the chair, will I ever learn? Oh yeah, coffee everywhere, chair soaked, wah. Was the cup half empty or half full? DEFINITELY HALF FULL.

Since we have a van in the shop, I will be driving Kathryn to work today. I hope Mali's car isn't damaged too badly, she'll be getting a rental, but...

One thing I know is that I cannot stress about my grown kids' troubles. I can listen, I can pray, and I can help as much as I can, but I can't let things weigh my soul down. The older I get, the more I see and believe that God HAS all of this. He sees the big picture, and knows what He's trying to accomplish. We see trials and hassles and aches and pains, He sees how we need to have opportunities to overcome, opportunities to come to mercy, to learn patience, and how to humble ourselves. It's easy to trust God when the sun is shining and my coffee is sitting here next to me, but when it spills and the troubles roll in...?

Well now the morning is ebbing away and there are things to do and kids to teach...

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

first day of school....

Sonja K., and Suzanne Eleanor, my only two "real" schoolers left, they got on the bus this morning and wah. Back in the day, I had nine or ten kids going every year, scattered through the elementary, middle, and high schools. Now the youngest three are homeschooled.

Quick, a selfie with mom, hurry before the bus comes. And off they went.

Our days won't be boring. Lydia spends the night here a few times a week, so she wakes up in the morning with us, all sweet and innocent in her jammies, and almost 2 year old Anne will be coming three days a week.

This fine morning, we saw Samuel out the door, he is here for a week for Army Reserves training. Having him come in the door in the evening in his Army uniform, looking for some dinner - I don't mind a bit. It's so nice to have him around.

Yesterday, Mariel picked Suzanne and I up, and we went to Walmart. I needed a few things, and we all know how THAT goes. I was a good girl though, I didn't go near the clearance aisles, stayed away from the home goods and clothes, and just got the grocery items we needed, lunch stuff, and fruits and veggies. We went early so we could get home and enjoy the very last day before school started. The sky was blue and the air was hot, the pool clear, and is there anything better than floating in the pool with popsicles? And shh, I had a lime light beer, a Mich Ultra. Just one. And oh dear, was it good.

The pulled pork was in the crock pot, and we got out the sour cream and jalapenos (neither of which I like), diced up some tomatoes and green peppers, opened some black olives, got out the taco cheese blend and the tortilla chips...and voila, pulled pork nachos. That crock pot was full, almost nine pounds of pork, and this morning, not a drop left for Sam to take for lunch.

So today we are thinking of doing just a bit of school work, then going on a field trip...