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, 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.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

the saga continues....

but I won't bore you to tears. I'll just randomly list some of the latest in the refrigerator crisis, which has been upgraded from a "situation", because of the continued warmth and subsequent spoilage of really good food.

The Samsung support guy was very polite, but he left out the little detail of the service not being under warranty. I'm not sure he knew it himself, but somehow that's the memo the service center got.

I called Lowe's corporate customer service, and finally got some help. The nice lady had mercy on me, and is sending a local technician over to look at the refrigerator...on Friday. Now, this call happened on Tuesday, and our refrigerator has been broken since Saturday. But who was I to complain, at least she decided to cover it under a Lowe's warranty.

Today I went to one of the most hated places in the United States of America, the department of motor vehicles. The workers there cannot help the frustration generated by their customers, they don't make the laws and rules. You have to turn in your plates before you cancel your insurance, you have to have insurance before you change a registration from one name to another, you have to have signatures and correct identifications and proof of addresses. You always have to have at least one item you don't have, and then you have to come back another day, take another number, and wait again in the plastic seats.

Mirielle had things to take care of there, so I went along just to spend some time with her. She had to stop at the grocery store, and I had to get more doggy chow, so the dogs don't run out while we're in Florida next week.

I brought home a rotisserie chicken, one of the best inventions of the century, $4.99 for a whole lemon pepper chicken.

That was just a snack though. I made a huge pan of chicken breasts with orange sauce, a pan of rice (sometimes I make my rice in the oven...I just spray the pan with non-stick stuff, or melt butter in it, then add the rice and water, extra butter, a little bit of salt, and today...some lemon juice and freshly ground pepper...cover with foil, and bake while the chicken is baking)
I also made some green beans, and voila, a healthy dinner. Emily and Mirielle came over for a bit.

See, they are looking for a new house, and I love looking at houses, so they nicely let me go with them. This one may possibly be the one, but it isn't perfect.

Other than my two short outings, I stayed home today.

Miss Lydia is here tonight. She's a chatterbox these days! She sings, "Twinkle Twinkle", especially the line, "up above the world..."

Tomorrow morning I have to bring the minivan in for an oil change, and to be checked out to make sure it's okay for 2,500 miles round trip. That's a lot of miles.

Then I'm bringing Jonathan for a haircut. The little girls are spending the night at Margaret's house, as she works from home on Wednesdays, and they are getting together with some other little girls who homeschool, which should be great fun.

Emily is picking the three high school girls up and bringing them on an adventure.

So we are busy doing this and that, not always all together, but I try to keep up with who is doing what and how they are all managing, and to listen to them and help them and encourage them to make good choices, to forgive, to be nice, to stand firm in temptations.

But I will say this: I cannot wait to get to Florida, sunshine on my skin. Here in the northeast, in central New York state, we don't get much sunshine in the winter, and when we do, it's often cold and we are bundled in layers. So I get to craving that feeling, that baking in the sun. And guess what? It's strawberry season in Florida. Guess what Grandma is buying for us? Fresh strawberries. Does life get any better?

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

some politics perhaps?

Nothing divides the people in the greatest country on earth quicker than politics. These days, just wear a Trump hat in public and find out for yourself. No, I do not have a Trump hat.

One nation under God..

...with fifty states, which have individual laws and rights. The freedom of speech is a luxury that has consequences. If you say something mean to your friend, yes, you have that right, but it doesn't mean it was wise to say it.

I do not consider myself either a Democrat or a Republican. Far left, far right, conservative, liberal, whatever. I hate the fighting and the name calling, the babyish NOT MY PRESIDENT whining. Women marching for Reproductive Rights,(no offense, but "rights" are one thing...scraping out a helpless little baby is another) I can't stomach it. Quit complaining, and be thankful that you live in such a wonderful land of opportunity. You are not oppressed.

Women want respect. I get that. You can make laws that require people to hire women, to pay them equally, treat them equally. But respect is something that begins in the home! Parents respect each other, teach by example, they respect their children, and teach them to respect each other.

I think boys should never hit girls. Never. They're usually bigger and stronger, and what good could come of a man hitting a woman? Just. don't. do. it.

I think it's nice and thoughtful of men to hold doors open for women. But also for women to hold doors open for men.

I think women get more respect when they are modest.

I don't like that just because I happen to think abortion is horrible, that I am lumped in with Hating Women, Being Against Women.

I don't like the division of this country. There aren't two distinct groups who hate each other. We are a melting pot of peoples, with different convictions, different morals, different ways of living, all here to pursue life and happiness.

I do not hate gays, I do not care whether they choose to marry each other, or adopt children, or run for president. In fact, some of my very favorite people are gay.

I am not against immigration, I am rather against giving so many free benefits to anyone who comes here to make their way. I think that reliance on the government for sustenance should be only if one is sick or injured, and try separating those people from those who cheat and really could work! There is so much corruption in people, so laws and rules aren't going to help.

To me, there is not a clear line that separates Americans into two groups, yet when we vocalize one belief, immediately we are categorized as haters. I do not hate anyone. But I do hate seeing hate, and violence.

This division that politics has wrought has hit close to home. One of my girls commented something about girls dressing respectably getting more respect, something of that nature...she was hit with the accusation of, and I quote, "slut shaming." Slut shaming. I'm sorry, I cannot take that seriously. But in the high school world, this is real stuff. One of my girls was tiring of hearing her friends spout about abortion rights, ect., and made a stand about it because she believed she should speak up...and she finds herself instantly: with no friends. She texted me yesterday asking for prayers, because her friends wouldn't even look at her in school. I hurt for her. Do they not like her anymore just because she has different beliefs? Poor poor girl. She's sweet and kind and thoughtful and never pushed her opinions on anyone, but it got to the point where she just answered what SHE thought about things, and now...silence. They cannot be friends with her anymore.

So, I told her that it's written to pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one shall see the Lord. She doesn't have to be besties with them anymore, but she can be nice. This division over beliefs is sickening.

We are leaving or Florida on Saturday. I hope I hear from the local refrigerator repairman soon, I might have to call there. We have a lot to do. We are staying a night on the way down in a hotel on Amelia Island, 100 yards from the ocean. We have to find Charlotte Claire a new bathing suit, and dig out our summer clothes to pack. Poor us, ha.