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, July 24, 2014

love love love summer

From my morning walk.

Today has been glorious. The sun shining, the breeze blowing, a coolness in the air that the sun covers up. The pool water seems warmer than the air.

It's the kind of day that goes by way too fast. The kind of day that begs one to spend it outside. To hang up laundry to dry in the breeze, and to putter in the garden. I got caught up vacuuming today, the living room and the furniture, then the stairs and the downstairs hall...the little girls wanted to go in the pool, so they kept asking me and I kept telling them In A Few Minutes. I hated doing housework when it was so nice out there, so I finally just put it away and went outside and sat on the deck to get all hot before swimming. Samuel sat there with me, until some of the girls talked him into going out and about. They get antsy sometimes, those girls, wanting to Do Things, and Go Places.

Sam asked me if I wanted to go, but no, I did not. No sir, today I wanted to stay home. The girls waited impatiently for me to take them in the pool, while I sorted out who was going with Sam and what they were doing. Joseph and Margaret and Evelyn and Sonja and the two little girls were staying home with me. I told them that after we swam, we would go get ice cream....
This is Sonja K. Like the corn fields in the back ground?

Joe declined the ice cream invite, but the rest of the ones home went with me.

(Turns out the princesses couldn't wait for me to take them in the pool because they had a good plan. It involved a realistic looking plastic snake. Scaring Mama is fun! For them, anyway.)

We are home now, some of the older girls are leaving to do some church things, Evelyn is picking wild flowers with Charlotte Claire and Camille, and Samuel is shooting one of his guns with Jonathan.

I have to get moving to make dinner. I sort of know what we are having, but am not positive. Either taco salad or chicken on the grill.

Our garden is producing green beans and some grape tomatoes, a few yellow squash, and some beets. We have had radishes and lettuces, too. Hopefully the melons will grow this year.

Summertime is wonderful. We have blueberries that Emily picked with the girls the other day, a watermelon, and some cherries. I love having all this yummy stuff.

Tomorrow Paul and I are working at the baseball game in the afternoon. In the morning I am taking my brother to an appointment. So I have enjoyed this blissful day of enjoying my kids in the sunshine, but who knows when another day like this will come along? The days seem to have appointments and shopping and library trips and and and....

Early Sunday morning, Samuel is leaving for his duty station in Washington D.C./Virginia, to guard the capitol:),and represent the United States. It will be interesting to see what he ends up doing. He could be a flag bearer in ceremonies, or a casket bearer in funeral detail at Arlington. All the Old Guard are infantry first, and they still do P.T., but most of what they do is in Washington D.C., and they rarely deploy, which makes this mama happy. One child deploying while we were at war in Afghanistan was enough for a lifetime, thank you.

So we have a few more days with Sam home. He is playing video games with Jon now. Jonathan simply adores Sam. He totally looks up to him, and Sam doesn't disappoint. Sam gives him the time of day, talks to him like an equal, and includes him in his outings. When Sam first left for the Army, Jon was so sad and lost....he will be having a rough time come next week.

Well, dinner is not getting cooked, and this chair is extra comfy in the afternoon after a busy day sitting in the sun and swimming and eating soft ice cream, yeah, I had one....and vacuuming and washing dishes and sweeping and putting clothes away and brushing tangles from little girls' hair and taking that long walk down the hilly road....I could definitely take a snooze, forget all about dinner....

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

lots of kids going lots of places....

Ah, summertime. A few years back, we would pack into our 15 passenger van, laden with coolers and strollers and play pens and beach umbrellas, with toy trucks and pails and shovels, 15 or 16 towels, and hit the beach. When it was time to go home, after packing all that stuff, plus the tired sandy kids, back into that big van, I would be hotter and sweatier than I was before we got to the beach in the first place. But the middle part was refreshing. When I wasn't sitting in the shade nursing a baby:)

Anyway. Life has evolved. I still have sixteen children, but all of them aren't "children" anymore. Four of them are nurses, two in the Army, one an accountant, one an that big van has been sitting in the driveway, leaning into it's flat tire, looking very depressed, not driven in months.

Ten of my kids can drive now, 9 with licenses, one with a permit.

So we have lots of littler vehicles.

Today, Samuel, who is home on leave, took some of his sisters (and cousin Olivia) out and about to the big mall in the big city.

Mirielle, one of the nurses, had the day off, so she took Jonathan and Charlotte Claire and Camille to a hike to and play in.

Aaron came to visit me, then I left with just Abigail, and went to the beach. To the beach, with only my own lunch in a lunchpail. My chair, my towel, my sunscreen, waterbottle, and I was good to go. Abigail packed her own lunch:)

It was just too easy! We were out the door just like that! We found ourselves sitting there in the sun with nary a child to look after! We didn't need to face the water, to keep our eyes trained on swimming children, but could actually turn our chairs to face the sun. We talked and laughed and ate our un-sandy food. We swam at our leisure, and sat in the sun to get hot again. On the way home, shh, we stopped for ice cream. All by ourselves.

Home...the mall kids were home, some in the pool. I joined them, then Mirielle brought the little ones home, they joined us.

Dinner, youth meeting, now relaxing. Yes, more relaxing.

It is hot here in central New York state. It was hot today, hot and sunny. Our house is not air conditioned, and it is very warm in here. We have the fans on, and the hum is making me want to fall asleep. I don't know why I am so tired...

Well, I have an idea....see, last evening, we had a family gathering. Most of the kids were here, we had burgers on the grill and green beans and zucchini from Emily's garden, pasta salad, and brownies with homemade frosting, as per Sam's request.

Without getting into the details, I had to take Mali to the emergency room after dinner. (always wash that hair!). She has some heart problems, it skips and bumps along sometimes. She has had it checked out in the past, but it has been acting up, and last evening, it was acting up. She started having problems breathing, and we decided to go see what was going on. I drove as fast as I could without crashing, and even ran a red light, as her panic-y breathing was making me panic too.

She is okay, we found out after several hours and several tests, but really really has to follow up with a cardiologist to see if she is really fine.

Life is never dull, that's for sure.

And as much as I hated leaving everyone and heading to my most un-favorite place, I enjoyed my time with Mali. Once she was hooked up and started calming down and breathing more regularly, she was quite funny. They say nurses are the worst patients, but I am thinking they are probably the best. Mali knew what questions to ask, but didn't appreciate being on the receiving end of the needle.

It's scary when your heart thumps around like that, missing beats and doing funny things. I'm glad we had things checked out, and I am glad she is okay. When one of your kids is suffering or in danger, the importance of all other things just slips and slides right down to nothing. I was praying on the way to the hospital, believe me.

Anyway, life is good, and I am thankful. The kids are watching Bugs Bunny, and it's long past bed time. I love summer, just love it!!!

Cam just asked me if I loved her. Duh! I could not love her more! With their faces tanned and their hair streaked with sunshine, they look so healthy and sweet. They are pretty tired out from their busy day spend outside, Cam is stretched out on the couch.

I suppose I have rambled, but it seems to be what I do best. Believe me, my sunny mood isn't 100% natural. No, this very afternoon I had to really fight off an attack of the Feel Sorry For Me spirits. Poor me! I can't do anything right! Our pool isn't clear, our house isn't clean, our water is all mineral-y, the towels don't match, the freezer needs to be defrosted, I can't organize to save my life. Paul said one thing to me, one thing that wasn't meant to be rude, just an observation on his part, and Oh goodness, I was ticked off. My thoughts just took off, I was convinced within 5 minutes that I was a terrible mother, and that he just doesn't like me. Okay, I exaggerate a little, but. I was headed in the wrong direction, in my thoughts. Then a new thought be thankful. To ask God for help, that I could be changed in these things, that I could hold on to what is good.

Now I get to tuck in the princesses...

Monday, July 21, 2014

the good the bad and the ugly...

Sammy is good. He just is. He is tough and determined and does what needs doing. Today, for example, he did 25 push ups every hour for the first five hours of the day. He took a few sisters and his cousin to the pizza shop today, just because.

He tricked me today, my army son. He had an empty soda bottle, and as we sat there on the deck with Emily and Margaret and Kathryn and Suzanne and Sonja and Olivia (a cousin) and Charlotte Claire and Camille and Dani (cousin) (Joseph was in his room, Jonathan in his room with his friend Phin)....anyway, Sam tricked me. He pretended he was "chewing", and spitting into the bottle. It was only coffee, but he thought he was so funny. I was actually pretty shocked, but very relieved when he laughed and said he had also fooled both Emily and Margaret when I was in the pool. Chewing tobacco, yuck.

Anyway. Summer, I love summer. Here is some more good....
Down our road...the wildflowers grow, there are so many different ones... Queen's Lace and the cornflowers,the Tiger Lillies, and the wild daisies and buttercups...

This is also good. Miss Char didn't want to smile, so Cam tried to help her. Emily came over and took these three (with cousin Danielle) blueberry picking. I am thinking....pie.

This is also good....I love these dogs, and of course my baby Camille. Labs are good pets. They are smart and good and faithful, and lazy and cute, and they don't mind when the kids smother them with loving. They are the kind of dogs I always wanted, they follow me around the yard, rarely run off to visit the neighbors, and usually come when I call them. Duke actually always comes, Suri stops to look at me to decide whether or not to listen...if I promise a treat, she will almost always come. After having Rosie-The-Bad-Dog bite Camille, I never can fully trust an animal, and always remind the kids to be gentle with the dogs, not startle them or tease them or step on their feet...but these two are just good and nice:)

I'm not sure this is the Bad and the Ugly, but their room IS messy. But they keep busy, and they love dressing up.

Hmm, I am not so sure there IS a Bad and Ugly. Granted, things aren't all sunshine and puppy dogs. There are always trials, and some things I cannot write about, because they aren't my stories to tell. Paul and his A-Fib, for example. He is on meds, and has to have a surgery/procedure done in the near future, which is almost always successful, but it still wears on me a bit, as much as I don't want to worry about it. He takes such good care of himself, never misses a work-out, eats healthy food, ect. To have something wrong with him is much harder than I ever would have realized, I would rather have it myself. I think he'll be okay, but believe me, even the thought of it being something serious, I can't bear it. I simply love him so much.

I tried to articulate this to the girls today as we floated around in the pool. This world puts so much emphasis on looks. Girls feel fat and insecure. But none of that really matters. Paul is 52 years old now, but I don't look at his gray hair or his wrinkles and think, "wow, who is this old guy?". No, I just love him. It doesn't matter what he looks like, although I must admit he has really nice eyes. And a cute smile. Never mind....

Sometimes I feel a little guilty that Paul works so hard, while I stay home and enjoy the kids. But then I am not just enjoying them, I am connecting with them, teaching them and guiding them. They are growing up so fast, slipping right through my fingers. These summer days are blissful...sitting on the deck eating cherries, them with their iced tea, some of us with coffee. We dip in the pool, wander out to weed the garden, have some lunch. My lunch today: I like to microwave a few slices of pepperoni, it makes me feel like I'm having pizza, without all the cheese and dough, plus we don't have any pizza, and it gets a lot of the fat out, and it's yummy. So I had some of that, a few almonds and cashews, a handful of blueberries, and a few lime tortilla chips. And some cherries.

Now I am having that yummy afternoon coffee with a few pieces of chocolate, salted caramel chocolate, to be exact. I am not going to have any more, either.

We are having a yummy dinner tonight, because I think all the kids are coming over. Emily and Abigail and Mirielle and Mali and Aaron...I think everyone will be here except for Benjamin, who is far far away on the west coast. We are having burgers on the grill, pasta salad with cucumbers, red onions, black olives, tomatoes, and green beans from Emily's garden, brownies with homemade frosting (the yummy cake frosting I make, Sam asked for it.)

It is hot here, 83 degrees. Sam says we're babies, it isn't hot. He did his Basic training in Georgia, so he thinks this weather if just fine. Plus, we have a pool in the back yard. His sisters say that he is the baby, he needs two blankets at night because he thinks it's chilly. Evelyn says he is the captain of the Wussy Pops, her ultimate insult, since Jonathan is just a Private Wussy Pop.

I didn't go on my walk this morning. I woke up two million times to a certain bedroom door opening and slamming, as per usual when the little girls have someone sleep over. They stay up late and get up too early:). I sneaked out here and Sam was still sleeping, so I told the girls they could have one of the chocolate chip cookies I made last night and watch a movie on my computer, good parenting right there. I then got back in bed and finished my book, oh heavenly bliss. Remember the book and movie, "The Shining", Stephen King? Well, a few years back Mr. King was at a book signing, and someone asked him whatever happened to Danny Torrance and his mom. Mr. King had also been wondering what had happened to them, so he started writing, "Doctor Sleep", which is just plain good reading. I read it in fits and starts because I haven't had much time for reading lately, but I really enjoyed it.

I still have it in my head that I need to go on my walk, but like Sam says, I am a big baby and it's too hot out:)

Sam is sitting at the table with some of his sisters, talking about stuff. It's a lazy afternoon, and I totally love it.

Friday, July 18, 2014

summer days and summer nights....

Camp fire on the deck with marshmallows, s'mores, Twix bars...13 of the kids were here, Mali and Abigail went home, but 11 are still here. A few are playing Zelda, we got chased inside by the mosquitoes. They are eating popcorn and a few were putting together a puzzle.

Today I stayed home all day. Sam went out and about with a few of his sisters. Jon and Char went out to the back garden and picked raspberries. I went in the pool with the little girls, and sat in the sun on the deck. I puttered through the garden, pulling a few weeds and eating the one ripe cherry tomato. I went for my walk, mopped the floors, did some laundry, and made a nice dinner of corned beef, potatoes, and carrots.

Mirielle is moving out. She is moving into Emily, Abigail, and Mali's house. wah. I am serious. She is one of my very best friends, and I always enjoy talking to her when she gets home from work in the morning. She will only be 5 miles down the road, but I did cry when she moved loads of stuff out today. She is painting the room first, so she isn't all the way moved out, but still. I am going to miss our times together, they will get more infrequent, and we will get used to it, and I hate it. I know they have to grow up and move out, but wah.

The little girls are still up, enjoying having so many siblings in the living room. Cam is going around the room hugging everyone, so Mama has to go tuck them in now....

Thursday, July 17, 2014


Samuel James is home!!!! He's home, and I love it!!!!

He passed his fitness test on Monday, and didn't tell his Mama. Then yesterday he got the okay from his Sgt. to go on leave, so he texted Mirielle...and said shh, don't tell Mom. So...I was out and about yesterday with some of the kids, we went to the library and to the thrift store, and ordered pizza (if you order Domino's online, it's half price).

Then Kathryn said she needed to be home by 4 because she was doing something with Mirielle. I grumped about that a little, I mean, we were going to go to the park, then next thing we knew, we had to get home. Then at home, Mirielle was all dressed in scrubs and fixing her lunch. I was puzzled, I thought she had the night off. No, she said, overtime. Okay. Why did the girls have to get home then? She said she was dropping them off at Em's, they were doing something with Emily. Oh. Okay. I guess.

A few hours later, a car pulled in the driveway, and I thought Paul was home from work. But two doors slammed, so I went and looked out the window. It was Mirielle. hmm. Then I heard his voice. Distinctly Sam's voice, and I saw a glimpse of camo, and I actually shrieked with joy, I mean I SCREAMED. I was so surprised and excited! I ran out and hugged that poor boy half to death!

The little girls came running when they hear me scream, they said they thought there was a snake in the house:)

So yeah, they pulled one over on me.

He is home for a week +, and it's wonderful. He and I went for one of our evening strolls last night, him in his bare feet, like old times. When he left in February, the snow was piled up by the foot, and it was freezing out, so it had been since last fall since we walked after dinner. Sam is the best walking companion, he just doesn't run out of things to talk about.

Today we surprised Grandma. We visited with her for a bit, then headed to the small city so Sam could buy a few things. McDonald's drive through, too, since he hadn't had any since February. Then to BJ's where I finally bought those cinnamon rolls he loves...and some chicken wings, which are in the oven right now, and some corned beef for tomorrow's dinner.

Who could ever imagine what a feast it is to just have one child (I say "child", but he is almost 19:)) home? It is amazing that there is so much love in my heart for each one of these guys. And that we are all so glad to have Sam here for a bit. He is indeed stationed in Washington/Virginia, and will start his training there soon with the Old Guard.

And now to get that dinner made....

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

love love love summer....

Sonja and I went out and about yesterday because we needed pool shock. Oh the pool, why can't it just stay clear and clean? I think the filter may be cracked because of the excessive amount of sand in the bottom, but that's boring, and I won't waste time blogging about it.

So we went to Walmart, because that's the best place to buy pool shock. We made it to the check out with only four items in our cart: shock, a can of whipped cream (I tend to buy this when Sonja K. is with me, she loves it.), a sleeve of blueberry bagels (Sonja!), and a small clip on lamp for Sonja, because the one she had broke.

We then went to BJ's for a bag of apples. It isn't apple season anymore, but the Gala apples they have there are still good, and apples are so handy to have for a healthy snack, with a few almonds. We also got donut holes (Sonja!) and shredded cheese (Sonja!)and butter.

Then, to the dollar store....a few six packs of bakery cupcakes and some gummy bears for Mali, and we were headed home. I like to stop there and check things out because they often have good things like cinnamon raisin bread, or protein granola. A few times they had 4 packs of Chobani Greek yogurt for a buck, and of course there were those bins of Target bathing suits in the spring. Love love love that dollar store!

And, on the way home....I stopped for ice cream for us. I wanted to make it special for S.K. because the little ones were camping with Emily, and Suze and Kap went to babysit for their cousin Susan's kids, and she was left with Mom. Okay, there were a few other older ones home, but still. And, on Tuesdays, the ice cream cones at this parking lot drive-through are buy one get one free. And, they use real ice cream from Upstate Farms. And, I really really wanted one. I ate well for the whole rest of the day, if it means anything....

Did I mention that it was wonderful, that ice cream? And surprising Sonja by pulling in there?

By the time we got home, the campers were back with lots of stories, and some dirty clothes too. Evelyn had hung out all the sleeping bags on the deck rails (we run a real classy house here). I unpacked the groceries, then unpacked their backpacks. Wet swim trunks? No problem, just shove them in with all the clean, unworn clothes, because hey, Jon didn't need to change his clothes, he was camping! Silly me, thinking they needed clean fresh outfits!

It's a teeny bit unfair that I had to pack and unpack and didn't even get to go camping, but oh well. Here I am, alive and well, and thankful for Emily that she is such a nice big sister.

Mali came over last night to visit, and to have daddy help her figure out what insurance plan to choose for her new job. She is only 20 years old and starting out working a good job, looking at buying a new car, I am very proud of her. And thankful for Emily, who has been so good to her, letting her live at her house these past few years.

I still need to go on my morning walk. I turned on my computer to show Mirielle two beautiful labs who are being given up by their owners who are moving into a retirement home and can't take them. They are yellow and beautiful. Big chunky heads and those labby jowls, one of them has only one eye. I want them, but we need four dogs like we need a hole in the head, as Grandma W. would say.

I am starting to want that morning coffee, but I have to walk first. The day is glorious and I am glad to be going out into it! I am thinking to maybe take these guys to a playground or something....

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

midnight ramblings....

Yours truly and Paul, way back in the day, in the summer of 1982, when I had just turned 17.

My girls dug up some old pictures and letters last week when they helped Grandma clean out her attic.

My arms were thin back then!, he DID have shorts on, they were just...short.

Anyway, here I am, as Monday turns to the wee hours of Tuesday, awake and writing. The house is too quiet, the teenagers are still up but are watching stuff. Paul is still on France time, so he conked out hours ago. Joseph is still up, but is back in his room, and the little ones are with Emily. She texted me a picture this afternoon of the kids all excited because she stopped at a grocery store and let them pick out Lunchables for lunch. blucky, but I guess my kids see kids eat them in school, and think they are all that. blah. Anyway.

Emily and Evelyn and Jon and Char and Cam left with their tents and backpacks and jammies and snacks and Barbies and sand toys, and went to the mountains. Why didn't I try to get in on it?

Not that I have had a bad day. I had to run to town to pick up some certified mail for Paul, and get some coolant for the minivan which has been overheating. Then Aaron came for a visit, we had coffee and some of the chocolate Paul brought back from France, with coconut in it, oh yum. I was pleased that the teenage girls finished it off, phew. 'Cause I totally would have.

Margaret and I decided to get some groceries. The minivan drove about ten miles then decided it was really hot, the warning beeps and gauges were going beserk, so I let it cool down for a bit in the minimart parking lot, then headed home. We had to pull over once again to let it cool down, but then made it home. We left again in the other car...

We went to Target, but only got a few things. A nice hat and a pair of sock/shoe things for my granddaughter, some really nice new tumblers for 70% off, and a much needed bra for one of the teenagers.

Grocery store #1: chicken breast was $1.99 a pound, with $3off stickers on each package. I also bought yogurt and milk and wipes and trash bags and brown rice and coffee and raisin bread. On to McDonalds for a coffee, then to grocery store #2 for peaches and a watermelon and strawberries and some kale and a few plums.

Home, ah home.

Paul checked the coolant which Jonathan and I put in all by ourselves, and lo and behold, we had filled the reserve tank and not the radiator. oops. So much for feeling so cool and mechanic-y.

Our evening was too quiet without the princesses and Jonathan. I vacuumed the couches and the living room with my new Dyson, vacuumed some cobwebs too. I shined the fronts of the appliances, and cleaned off the counters. I spent too much time on my computer, and read some of a new Stephen King book, but it's too scary for me.

Tomorrow is another rainy day. I will go on my walk anyway, and perhaps take some girls to the library. I need to get some shock for the pool, it is turning green again, blah.

I love summer. I love it. I sat here tonight and sipped some tea that Paul brought from France from a friend who lives in England, yum, and I thought about how nice it is no not worry about homework or school clothes or projects or snack days.

I want the days to slow down, and I want to enjoy them.