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, December 8, 2016

festivities, gatherings, fun, and family....and a haircut!

I finally did it. I got a haircut at a hair salon, first time in my life. I debated whether to make the appointment, or to just get the scissors like I usually do, and trim it here and there. My sister-in-law Kim and I were going out and about, Kim is even busier than I am, she started a LulaRoe business, and babysits grand kids on a regular basis, has 12 kids, homeschools some of them, ect. So I decided to surprise her, and make the appointment for the both of us, and didn't tell her until we were in the plaza where the haircut place was.

I didn't get a picture of her haircut, but she looks adorable! No more long ponytail!

And, granddaughters!!!! Anya from far away, and little Lydia, sweet cousins.

Anya and Lydia...are they scrumptious or what? And let me brag for a minute or two...Miss Anya just turned three, she knows those letters, she knows their sounds, she's a smart cookie. Lydia is smart too, she knows how to put those letters in the dog water bowl to get them all clean. She also chatters and says, "Wow!", claps her hands and stomps her feet when I sing, "When you're happy and you know it..." They kept us busy and entertained last evening. Sunny was a royal pain in the neck, stealing Anya's cheese stick, trying to steal Puffs from Lydia...she's gentle with them, though.

So the wedding is happening the day after tomorrow!!! It crept and sneeked right up on me! Emily and I are going out to buy the food today, and all the little odds and ends. We have fantastic friends helping with set up and decorating and will prepare and serve the food, as well as clean up. In lieu of a wedding cake, Margaret and Adrian chose donuts. Yes, donuts. The ultimate food, the best yummy on earth. And, they ordered them from the little Greek bakery in the town I was raised in, the bakery I used to get things for my dad when he was so sick with leukemia. The bakery that is foremost in my mind when I have to pick someone up from the airport, because it's right in that town. Once I asked the girl working there if it still smelled heavenly to her, working there for so long. She said it did. I think heaven will smell like this bakery. Anyway, the happy couple ordered 204 donuts, and I ordered the fresh bread for the tables from there, which will all be baked on Saturday morning. So ha, even if nothing else comes out good, we will have donuts.

So I am super excited. Ashley is in town with little Anya, Benjamin is flying in on Saturday morning. Soldier Samuel from D.C. is coming tomorrow (yay!!!). We're having a gathering tomorrow night here, with pizza from the place in town. I keep thinking of all the meals I COULD make for a large group of people, then I slap myself silly, and keep the pizza idea. This very morning, I had to slap myself because I almost started a batch of cut-out sugar cookies, you know, Christmas cookies. I thought I could get them almost done before the shopping trip. But thankfully, the lazy voice in my head chimed in. Between cleaning up the house in the morning, taking the dogs out a million times, and having a chance to sit here and blog, clearing my head and straightening out my thoughts, I don't have time to bake cookies.

Kids are up, and my day is getting bye for now.

Monday, December 5, 2016

and it's been busy! but this girl....

This is Miss Anya Jade, my oldest grandchild. She lives in Washington state, and I have been blessed to have her visit three times this year! I love her so much. She loves her Auntie Charlotte Claire and her Auntie Camille more than she likes her Grandma, but I understand. They're fun! They play dollhouse with her, and get out the baby dolls, and sing karaoke with her! Grandma doesn't mind, just having her in the house is wonderful. And she gives me hugs, the best hugs! I have loved my own kids, and lots of other ones too...but these two granddaughters of mine have just astounded me with how much I love them.

I should be in bed. The house is quiet, the dogs are snoring on the couch. I should be in bed. The big fat blue spruce is still plugged in, white lights glowing. But it has been such a busy day! I had so many things on my list to do! We needed bread and milk and eggs.

Ashley came over with Anya, Benjamin is still back home in Washington, he is coming in late Friday night. Then Emily came over with my niece Becky, our friend Erica, and my sister-in-law Kim, to plan the details of the menu, and logistics of it all.

Tomorrow, I'll be buying as much of the food as I can, like a few more tablecloths, coffee cups, coffee, ect. I need to get a belt for Jonathan, and I really need shoes.

Wednesday is haircut day for the kids, as well as gymnastics. And hopefully lots of seeing Anya.

Thursday...the day to get the rest of the food...

Friday, the day to stay home and clean and welcome Samuel, yay, Emily's picking him up from the airport. Then Adrian's family is coming over...they are flying in from Winnipeg...and we're having pizza. Then Saturday morning, wedding rehearsal and brunch, put on by Emily. At five in the afternoon, the wedding ceremony, followed by the church feast. It's so fun and exciting, and I will post lots of pictures.

So our home will be busy for the next few days. As long as I don't grew weary of doing good, things will go well for me. I don't mean I can't put my feet up, either. It's all about having the right attitude.'s almost midnight, and I'm so tired. Goodnight!

still crazy after all these years...

Yes, still love him like crazy.

Yes, we crossed up near Brockville, Ontario.

Our visit to Canada was short and sweet.

And now the countdown begins...the wedding is on SATURDAY! I have to take three kids for haircuts, and maybe me too...I still have never had my hair cut anywhere, and I'm 51...not that I'll get a special martyr prize in the end or anything, but part of me thinks that if I've cut it myself up to now, why go somewhere and pay to have it cut? But then, it would be fun, and it might look really nice.

This fine morning, I am making a grocery list for things we need here, and am taking Jonathan to get a belt to wear to the wedding. I'm not sure how many kids will be accompanying me. Ashley is in town with little Anya, and I want to make sure we have good food and snacks for their visits here.

Sunny thinks she is a lap dog.

How am I supposed to get up and get moving now?

She's super warm and cuddly.

Friday, December 2, 2016

another good day in this life...

Yay Emily! She still has a ways to go before she is a practicing nurse practitioner but she is now ready to start clinicals, with real patients:)

After the ceremony, we went shopping...I am not really wearing this to the wedding, but if I ever wanted to Effie Trinket it, I would totally buy this.

So I had some criteria for my dress for the wedding...I REALLY wanted to find one at the thrift store, but mostly I wanted it to be cheap or on clearance, ha, gray, and sparkly. And it had to cover my arms, and be modest. I found this today...

I had Kathryn take this picture, and as soon as I saw it, the self-criticism tummy! But then...who really cares? Kathryn didn't like it at all when I started, so I stopped. It's not a good example for teenagers...:)

I am glad I found something though. We also found gifts for my niece's daughter Grace, who is celebrating her 14th birthday this evening, Evelyn, Suzanne, and Sonja went to her party. I found a few gifts also, and then we went to the warehouse store for a big bag chow.

We had some lunch at Five Guys, they have the best burgers!

Kathryn took the youngest three kids out and about today. They went for pizza with their homeschool certificates.

Tonight, they are bugging about when we are getting the Christmas tree. It was supposed to be today, but the place down the road closed too early, or I got home too late, plus Paul had the truck at work. Tomorrow he is going hunting, then we are going to a Christmas concert. Sunday morning we are leaving early to go to Ottowa (Canada) for the day for a birthday celebration for a either the older kids get it on Sunday, or we wait until Monday.

Ah well....time to rejoin the's not easy to write when there are kids to talk to...

Thursday, December 1, 2016

trouble makers butting their noses in....

The other afternoon, Margaret and I took a little trip over to the suburbs, and visited a big party supply store to buy napkins, pretty champagne glasses, you know, wedding stuff. Because the wedding is next week, and we don't want to be last minute or anything. Well, we were really hungry, both of us had only eaten breakfast...and there in the very plaza was a Chinese take-out place. We both acknowledged later that it always makes us feel awful to eat that food, but we were hungry, and it's so good!

As we waited to order our food, a woman stormed into the place and yelled at the cashier, "Don't yell at me on the phone, don't call me at work, blah blah blah..."...she smacked a container of food onto the counter, left it, and stomped out of the place. The cashier's face had turned beet red, she was so flustered, and barely managed to take our order.

So, as we ate, enjoying each other's company and talking about the wedding, a different customer approached the counter and complained about some cheesy won-ton thing her daughter had bitten into...said it was spoiled, wrong color, smelled bad, ect...she was not talking nicely, she wasn't exactly YELLING, but she was being obnoxious and rude, and was looking all around, trying to make eye contact with other patrons, as if we were going to gang up on the cashier with her. We just sat there eating, both thinking that surely this lady could be nicer about her disappointing food item. The cashier was stammering, trying to explain that they had switched brands of cheese, ect. The lady was not having it, just kept complaining.

So the restaurant manager cooked up some new food for the ladies, apologized thankfulness at all from customers, just a, "Well, I hope we don't get sick..."

At that point, Margaret decided to call out to the manager, workers, cashier, who were at the counter, "The food is really good, we like it, good job!" I nodded my head, gave the thumbs-up.

Yeah, you know, counter-act the rudeness a little...she felt sorry for the cashier.

Her comment didn't go over so well with the disgruntled customers.

They sat there squawking about trouble makers butting their noses in, making it worse, ect. oops. Margaret, they better not come after us.

But anyway, it's good to be more self-aware, because there are certainly things that have to be set right in customer service, maybe we are overcharged or whatever, but being nice sure goes a long way.

Paul is well enough to be back to work, but he did lose over five pounds being sick. I told him that I found it.

Today the kids start in on their chocolate-a-day advent calendars, and we start counting the days until Christmas. Here's what I want for Christmas:

New iPods for all the teenagers...

New tires for both of our minivans.

The hot tub fixed.

Sunny to be totally housebroken. And less crazy.

My sister's cancer diagnosis to be a big mistake.

My far away sons to move back to New York.

Magically replenished paper towels, toilet paper, dog food, cat food, kitty litter, and laundry detergent. (for the kids, it's ALL magically replenished!)

Well that was I just got a phone call from a cheery girl named Emily, who told me I qualify for an all inclusive cruise, for 75% off! I was mean, and let her list all the wonderful amenities before I told her I wasn't interested. How did she get my cell phone number, that's what I would like to know.


For Christmas...I want all my kids to be happy. Not the fulfill-their-lusts kind of happy, but the peaceful kind of happiness that comes with living before God.

I want my parents to come back to life, just for a few sit and drink coffee with me, and catch up. I want to give my mom a big hug, and tell her that even though she's long gone from this earth, she is totally in my head. I AM HER. I tell my kids, "Pretty is as pretty does. Stand straight up tall and don't be ashamed of what God gave you," or her classic..."A liar is a thief and a thief is a liar, and I HATE LIARS." She used to call me, "Lady Jane". I don't know why, but I would give anything to have hear her chastise me and call me Lady Jane, one more time.

I would also like a nice vacation with Paul. Now I know what you're thinking, we have already had a few vacations, we don't need another one. But don't forget this: we are living in a house with nine of our kids...five of whom are TEENAGERS. GIRL TEENAGERS.

But enough of my wish's a list of things we're thankful for...I like to start in on this out loud around the house randomly, the kids chime in, and it's good...good to be thankful.

Our new's shiny and new, it gives ice and water from the door, it's still organized and clean, and best of all, it doesn't leak like our old one did, so no more daily changing the "refrigerator towel" we had to keep on the floor in front of it.

Our new microwave! It's not much different than the old one, but live without one of these for a few days and you'll see how essential they become.

That we painted the living room walls and ceiling.

The new fake fireplace. I LOVE it. I love it so much, I am afraid something is going to happen to it and we won't be able to replace it. It makes it warm and cozy in here, and it looks cute.

Our "new" minivan. It has over a hundred thousand miles on it now, but it's still sweet...push button doors and back hatch...and heated seats!

The dogs. I have a love/hate relationship with having dogs in the house. It's a full time job just to keep things clean, especially my floors! But they are sweet and I think it's good for the kids to have them.

Our yard. I love living out in the country.

I'm thankful for my's old, it's hard to charge, but it works, and when I open it up and it turns on, yay!

Friends, family...of course I'm thankful.

I really want to use each day in a good feels like we're always preparing for something that's coming up, using days to get ready for things. So today will be a good day. Never mind that yes, I am planning to move all the furniture and deep clean the living room...ha. It will be a good day.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

bye bye, november....

Kathryn went with me today, we brought the three youngest to gymnastics..then we met Emily, Mirielle, Mali and her little girl Lydia, for lunch...

So Paul is feeling better (yay!)...I have realized lately how little all the rest of this stuff means. I love much.

Our dogs are so funny...I bought them squeaky toys today, and they of course fight over them like two year olds...(not Duke, he usually sleeps right through the whole thing) but one dog running around squeaking a toy and the other one trying to grab it, romping and running and wreaking all sorts of noise and havoc...

Jon is hiding the toy and squeaking it, and Sunny is going crazy...the looks on her face are priceless as she tries to find the source of the noise, and Jonathan is laughing his head off. Sunny has a wrinkly forehead, and when she does that thing, tilts her head to the side, she looks so hilarious.

So we never do get bored around here.

I plan to stay home tomorrow, get some good schooling in, move some furniture around in preparation for the Christmas tree...I talked to Samuel this evening. He is still wearing the 24 hour heart monitor. He is on Dead Man duty, which basically means he cannot do anything until he is cleared by the doctor, he has to wear the monitor for an entire month. He's coming home soon, is counting the days! :)

Ah well...time to turn off all the Christmas lights and go nighty night. The little girls are all giggly in their room still, but the older girls are all in their beds reading or doing homework. Sunny just jumped onto the couch with a hairbrush, um, no, that is NOT for you....

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

'tis the season!!!

Christmas cookies! They're from Starbucks in Target, and they're prettier than they taste. I bought two for the three of them to share, but they didn't complain. I had a blonde roast with lots of cream, oh yum.

The kids are doing school...Charlotte Claire has the coveted spot in front of the fake fireplace, so I let Cam bring a space heater out to put a blanket down in front of. Jonathan is in his room doing his work. These kids do not get bored. They started the day doing crafts, the kitchen tables are covered...glue and paint and ribbon and sparkles...they are painting a cardboard house, for one.

We have so many things we want to do! We want to try the branch to hang stockings on...paint it white, put glitter on it maybe...and hang it on the wall. I really want to make new stockings, I saw where they were made of burlap, white on the top with a few buttons for the boys, lace for the girls...but right now I would be insane to start a project like that...16 stockings plus the two granddaughters...(spouses/significant others can share). So...I am considering it.

But no, I can't! The wedding is almost upon us! It's on the tenth of December! We are having company the night before, here, in our messy house! Adrian, Margaret's fiance', tried to reassure me that it would be fine...but he didn't say, "Oh, your house is fine.", he said, "You have so many kids still at home, so many people here, it's understandable..." ha. Understandable. It really is funny, but I would rather have it pristine and lovely, thank you.

But whatever.

Yesterday we went to the library, I finished one of my books already, Vinegar Girl, by Anne Tyler. I really like her, A Spool Of Blue Thread was excellent. I like the kids to have plenty of good books to take to bed at night, they can read themselves to sleep instead of being on their tablets.

We went to Kohl's, and I let Jonathan pick out a nice sweatshirt for Christmas. The girls picked out some yoga pants, and we got a few gifts. Then to Target for candy canes an a few more gifts.

Home...and that's we are staying home today. It's windy and chilly and rainy, and it's SO cozy in here...we have Christmas lights, and the girls just made themselves hot tea. The puppy is lying on the rug by my feet. Margaret is working from home today, and Paul is too, he is still not feeling 100%.

Camille is working multiplying three digit numbers, but also is compiling a list of things she wants to do, I heard the word, "gingerbread..." (She is covered with a fleece blanket, and just said, "I win the cozy award!)..."waffle party, wrap presents, make fudge, watch Christmas movies...." She is a smart girl.

So thank you for kind words and prayers for my sister. She hasn't found out yet what the plan is, and can I just say that...not to be unbelieving or anything...but having to start in on CANCER TREATMENTS right before CHRISTMAS!! ? harrumph. I am still hoping they call her, and laugh their little heads off at the big mistake they made! Her tumor doesn't have malignant cells! It was a misunderstanding! She is FINE.

Well...I need to get my head in the game here, the kids are needing a teacher, and ha, that's me!