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, December 15, 2017

8 degrees out there...

-13.3c. Brrr. Jack Frost has decorated the glass on the door, and the snow crunches underfoot. The sun is out now, but more lake effect snow is coming later. Hopefully AFTER I pick Paul up from the airport, he's coming home from Boston this evening.

Anne is coming over in a little while. I had too much fun yesterday, Emily brought Jonathan, Char, and Cam ice skating. I was here with Anne, who turned a year in September, and Lydia, who turned two in August, and I just realized that I had kids who were 14 months apart, how did I do it? They were really good, but oh dear, it kept me on my toes. Anne seemed to be watching for me to forget to watch out for my glasses, my coffee, or my phone, but I was just a shade quicker than she was, although she did manage to swipe my phone a few times. I had to trade her for something good to get it back. The two of them got along just fine.

That stroller in the background was Lydia's doing, she loaded it up with stuff. She took the two Christmas towels from the front of the stove, and referred to them as, "the red and green paper towels." She knows her colors, her numbers, and we had at least ten phone calls back and forth, she called me from the Fisher-Price Chatterbox telephone, and I answered on my phone. She would ask if I was coming home soon, and I would say yes, do you need anything from the store? After a brief conversation, she would say, "goodbye!", then call me again. Over and over again.

After Lydia and Anne went to their homes, and the skating kids were back home, and things were all settled down, Evelyn and I went to the grocery store. And to Walmart, for a few last minute gifts. One of my sons asked for, "All of the pillows.", for Christmas. So I got him three, and three pillowcases, which believe me, the guilt of BUYING pillow cases! I can make them, and heaven knows I have bins of fabric! But the sewing machine hasn't seen the light of day in quite a while. I do not know how I stay so busy. But I do.

Anyway. I stayed up late last night wrapping stuff, and I have washed the Christmas stockings. I am excited about Christmas...Paul's gift is stuck in Chicago, it was supposed to be here a week ago. I was really hoping it arrived while he was out of town. I hope it makes it on time. I can't tell what it is, even though I do not think for one second that he reads this blog, ha.

Bye for now...Anne.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

snow day!!!

Camille was the first one up, and was out the door with me...

Snow Day! But it started out that school was delayed for two hours. I wanted more sleep because we all know that when Paul is traveling for work (he's in Boston), Della stays up way too late reading, so morning comes as a shocker. I knew Lydia was coming, I knew Anne was coming, and the driveway had to be shoveled.

Miss Char got up and helped. Jonathan got the snowblower started, and had the rest of the driveway clear in no time.

I don't mind getting up and going out to shovel. It's invigorating, and the doggies love playing in the snow. Sunny thinks every shovelful is something to chase and dive into.

Anyway...I procrastinated the whole getting up out of my nice warm bed thing, checked my phone one more time, and YES, school was now CLOSED! I texted Mali to see when Lydia was coming, and she wasn't, because her daddy had a snow day too. Anne was still supposed to come though, so we had to get up and get moving and clear that driveway. Then, she didn't come. So...I could have stayed in bed. oh well. :(

The three high school girls were getting up as we finished up with the driveway, and the coffee was ready. We turned on the tree lights, cranked up the fake fireplace, and cuddled under blankets, and planned our day. The kids decided to go sledding in the back.

Surprise! Kathryn decided to give Jonathan an early Christmas present! Kathryn had to work today, she was working from home, and busy, but Evelyn, Suzanne, Sonja, Jon, Charlotte Claire, and Camille went sledding. (Joseph works from home too, he's a freelance artist). I got to work on the triple batch of gingerbread cookie dough. We decided that gingerbread houses are over rated, and too much work, so we just made the cookies. After sledding, we had another cozy time in the living room, this time they had Evelyn's homemade hot chocolate, while I had a second cup of coffee. Then, time to frost the cookies!

Dinner went into the oven, chicken and gravy. I peeled potatoes and made mashies, and we had stuffing and veggies, and some cranberry sauce, because it is Abigail's birthday, and she came over after work. Emily came over too, so we had a nice dinner, the eleven of us.

Emily asked me how I like it that my house is such a hub for people coming over. I told her that 99% of the time I love it. I enjoy the kids, and like having company. I wish the house would automatically be always clean though. I get tired of cleaning it. It doesn't stay clean, not with all the peoples still living here, and the doggies and kitties. Evelyn determined today that, "Mom is the biggest slob." And yes, I had to admit, I had left shoes I wore to the Christmas concert next to my chair in the living room since December 2nd. And yes, that was my coffee cup sitting there. And my sweater is draped on the back of the couch, what?! I got hot! I have pairs of glasses everywhere, and leave my slippers wherever I am when my feet get too hot, then look for them later. I have passed these tendencies on to my kids, and somehow we all manage to survive. Today was nice because they all pitched in so much, and got the place neat and tidy in no time flat.

Having people over is a blessing though. When I know company is coming, I do that panic cleaning, the kind of cleaning I'm best at. I don't exactly throw stuff under the couch, but I get it straightened up in double time. It's usually when I do something clever like drop the glass bottle of olive oil out of the cupboard, smash, glass and oil all over the floor. This is a true story, and it happened the other day when we were expecting all kinds of company.

I told Em that the grass is always greener, with us humans. Solitude sounds lovely sometimes, but I don't really crave it. I would appreciate some quiet alone time, but I also am super thankful for having the kid, and friends and older kids and grand kids coming over.

Anyway. The gingerbread cookies: they are too good. Do not make them, and if you do, don't triple the recipe. I ate at least six, if not TEN of them today, all together. What? I can't help that Evelyn brought her mama a steaming hot cup of coffee while we were frosting! "In for a penny, in for a pound", is not a wise saying when consoling oneself about cookie-eating.

But what a grand day we had.

Tomorrow, my three high school girls will be heading back to high school. Anne and Lydia will be coming over, and I think Jonathan and Char are going cross-country skiing with Emily. Shh, Em wouldn't want me to brag, but she is done with school for the term, did excellent on her last final, and has ONE semester left before being qualified to take the Nurse Practitioner exam, or whatever it's called. She's still working full time as a registered nurse, so she's busy...but now that she has a few weeks between school terms, we'll see a little more of her. :)

She is teaching Camille the clarinet, which is adorable. Jonathan is learning trumpet, and Char is plucking the guitar, plinking the piano a little, and trying out the violin. I am not musical, but some of my kids certainly are. Today we burst into some pretty lovely renditions of Christmas songs. Suzanne played, "I'll Be Home For Christmas" (Bing Crosby), and they teased me as I started to get teary-eyed. Aaron won't be home for Christmas, and Samuel won't either.

So after Emily and Abigail left, the dinner was cleaned up and put away, and we had watched, "Psych The Movie", Jonathan, Char, Cam, and I went in the hot tub. 16 degrees out, and a 104 degree hot tub: mmm-hmmm. yup. Very nice. Then the coyotes started howling, and they were too close for comfort, so we hopped out and ran through the snow back into the house. Ev and Char put on boots and put the covers back on, turned it back down. Walking in the snow to get in that thing is crazy, but getting out, dripping and hot, and walking back through the snow is crazy!

All showered and ready for bed...we had a good day.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

dreaming of a white christmas...

Jonathan and Charlotte Claire shoveled the driveway, Paul is in Boston for the week, and he's the one who knows how to start the snowblower. When he gets home, I am totally going to have him show me how.

The trampoline needed to be shoveled off this morning, too.

Yesterday's adventure was not how we planned, we drove 47 minutes to this special bakery/diner, and lo and behold, it was closed. The website listed it as open, but it had a closed sign in the window, and was all dark. hmmph. We got a coffee at Dunkin, and headed back to our area, where we ate at a local diner. By the time we sat down it was almost noon, and we were hungry. Mirielle and Char, Cam and I, we cleaned our plates. Well, not me, I saved half of the cinnamon raisin was hard to do, because it is baked fresh from a local bakery and delivered to this diner, and it is delectable. I shouldn't have had any of it, but when you name this diner, I think of this bread. You can keep the burgers and fries, I like the bread. So I had scrambled eggs and hash browns, and bacon. I swore to myself I wouldn't eat anything else for the rest of the day. But. I did. And, it was another egg, with a piece of sausage. Dinner for Evelyn and I, who had gone on a new coat quest...

See, Ev wanted a new coat for Christmas. We found one online, very reasonably priced, and ordered it. It didn't fit her right, but it did fit one of her sisters, who is now getting it for Christmas, so much for surprises. Anyway, we have gone from store to store to find her a coat, but they are so expensive. We ended up getting one at the warehouse store, for a good enough price, and she likes it okay. The good part was we went out yesterday afternoon and spent several hours together, which is always nice.

I do not know how these dogs have so much energy to fight and fool around after all that playing in the snow while the kids shoveled. They are worse than kids, the way they play. It doesn't last all day, thankfully, they get so tired and take huge-0 naps. I am about to send them back out the door. Sunny is the rabble-rouser, Suri wants to just lie around, but Sunny goes over and bites her leg, and puts toys in her face to get her to take the bait and start tugging back. They are wrestling on the couch, 75 pound dogs.

Time for school, and Anne is coming over...

Monday, December 11, 2017

it's the most wonderful time, of the year....

Evelyn made these yesterday, and somehow I know that they were excellently yummers.

Snow! This is from yesterday evening, it's been snowing lots more, and it's coming down like a snow globe right now.

Miss Sonja K. helped decorate the gingerbread cookies. Saturday night, after a long busy day working at the Dome, I didn't feel like doing much, but Evelyn and Charlotte Claire and Camille wanted to do something fun. (Kathryn took Suzanne secret Santa shopping, and Jonathan was at a boys' weekend having fun). So we ordered chicken wings and a pizza, watched silly Hallmark movies, and made cookies. #coziness.

Okay, here's a story: I got a Christmas card in the mail from Wegmans, a grocery store chain here in the northeast, the best supermarket ever, and I am a supermarket geek. I almost threw the card away, but I scanned the print inside, and instead of just saying, "Merry Christmas", this card said, and I honestly thought it was a scam, but it said that I qualified for a prize for being one of their best customers. Visit the service desk to claim my $50 gift card and coupons, as well as a gift. ha, I thought, but I did it anyway. I presented the card at the service desk on Friday, and what????!!!!!! I was in the top 100 customers for my local store. Top 100!??? Indeed. The manager came to congratulate me, and present the gift box. I was floored. No scam here. Then the box itself held coupons for free things! A free pound of shrimp, free ready-made entrees, ect, and a bottle of herbed sunflower oil. Plus, a fifty dollar gift card.

This does mean that perhaps I spend too much at the grocery store, I mean, I go to Wegmans, but I also go to BJ's, and Tops, and Price Chopper.

Anyway, it was too much fun.

Yesterday, Cheryl and I took our husbands to the airport. Bill was heading down to Georgia to visit his parents, and Paul was renting a car to go to Boston for the week, for work. They just happened to both have to be at the airport at the same time, so Cheryl and I found ourselves in the town we grew up in, and we had fun...the Geddes bakery, first. That's where Margaret and Adrian got their wedding donuts, one year ago yesterday, Happy Anniversary! We were celebrating Abigail's birthday yesterday, so that was going to be the cake, a dozen assorted donuts, then three different muffins in a separate box for a birthday gift, Ab loves muffins.

Anyway. Cheryl and I went to Kmart, then to Target, and got lots of Christmas shopping done. We got coffee, and talked, and it was a great day.

Home...Evelyn had made cinnamon buns, and it smelled heavenly in here. I put a ham in the oven, then quartered some potatoes, tossed them in olive oil and seasonings, and roasted them up. We had apples sauce and veggies, too. Then dessert: gingerbread cookies (they were SO good!), the cinnamon rolls, the Oreo truffles I had made (do NOT make these. You have been warned. They are way too good. One package of Oreos, or store brand, I used Wegmans, all broken up, add an 8 ounce package of cream cheese, blended together until smooth. I dipped mine in a bag of chocolate chips, melted with a bit of coconut oil and some white chocolate melting wafers. Then for some of them, I added Andes mint chocolate chips, and made some minty ones. They are too good, so do not make them.). There were donuts, cut in halves, of course, and even quarters, for tasting purposes. I only had one thin slice of a chocolate frosted one, one truffle, and a few tastes of cinnamon roll...then like four gingerbread cookies. blah. But. Today is a new day.

We were celebrating Abigail's 31st birthday. She is my second oldest child, born back when I was a mere 21 years old. Ab is a very special daughter. She's my accountant daughter, and she's sweet and funny and genuine, faithful and kind and thoughtful. She's diligent and responsible, and she has a laugh that makes every one around her laugh too.

Some of us went in the hot tub in the evening, which was delightful under the falling snow. The little girls got out, rolled in the snow, and jumped back in. Not me, it was hard enough to walk barefoot in the snow then get into the tub, but hey, 104 degrees when it's 25 outside is pretty sweet.

Today, we are going on an adventure. Mirielle is picking me up, and we are going to a a bakery/restaurant in a small town a ways from here, owned by my brother's son's girlfriend, so my nephew's girlfriend, Mirielle's cousin's girlfriend. She bakes her own breads, makes everything fresh and is a pastry chef. So, we have been wanting to visit her restaurant, and today is the day. The snow is falling, it looks so Christmas-y, and we are off...and shh, I know, two days in a row of eating the wrong things...but I'll be careful.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

just being there....

Our twenty dollar Christmas tree...I rather like it's odd proportions, it's nice and old fashioned. And my girls won again: white lights.

The little girls counted, we made 96 cookies...and frosted them. I did not eat one cookie, not a whole one. I do confess to breaking off a few pieces to taste, which is silly, because how can these not taste good? Seriously? Butter, real vanilla, flour and sugar, eggs, then more sugar on top:) But before you think me too virtuous, I will also confess to eating 3/4 of a chocolate bar last night. I was so good all day, then I just HAD to have chocolate. Dang it, no one else wanted a square, and I wasn't paying close attention. Do you want to hear more excuses or is that good enough? BTW, it was really yummy, good old fashioned Hershey's milk chocolate.

Yesterday, Camille said, "I don't know why, but I am just so happy." Ah, young children at Christmas time.

Then this morning, she woke up from a bad dream. She dreamed that Evelyn had magic powers and that she had turned evil. She prattled on about it all, then she got to the end, the bad part, where she had to give me one last hug. Ah Cam, I just hugged her for a while, told her I love her. Poor girl. She's watching, "Arthur", right now, because the school day hasn't started yet, ha. Anne will be here soon, and we'll be getting busy. The days fly by.

Yesterday, we did go out and about. I wanted to get something for Abigail's birthday (yes, we have THREE kids born in December!, just in case Christmas presents weren't enough to buy.) We went to Marshall's and found not only Ab's gift but some good Secret Santa things. Then since we had Anne in the stroller, she was happy, we walked down to Moe's. Moe's is a chain restaurant, Mexican food. The kids LOVE it. It's like Chipotle, you go through the line and customize your taco, burrito, rice bowl, or salad. Wednesday kids eat free, Jonathan pointed out. :)

We went to B.J.'s next a huge warehouse store. The kids like that place because of free samples. Anne was getting tired, but I still let the kids stop for waffle fries and mac and cheese, after all, it's a day in their lives. Char and Cam were adorable, they were singing songs to Anne as we walked along, keeping her happy, and I tell you, they were making complete strangers happy too, they were all out smiling at me as we passed them, and my girls were oblivious that they were in public.

Home...ah, home. We brought in the gifts and the groceries, and saved lots of our Moe's food for the three high school girls. We had coffee and cookies when they got home (no cookies for me though!), and it was cozy. I put the plate of cookies in front of Anne...she didn't know what one to choose.

This fine morning, I was extremely thankful that I could be here for Cam after her bad dream. I am thankful to be here when those three high school girls get off the bus, and for when the older ones stop over. My kids are growing up, but I'm still glad I can be here for them.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

cookies and coffee and sparkly things...

are the delusion of December, the sunshine and puppy dogs of the season. It's exciting! It is. I feel like a kid this year, all happy with anticipation. I got Paul something really cool, and with my own money, and can't wait for him to be all happy about it. If you must know, he's a hard one to please.That's not even the right way to describe it, it's more like he doesn't show it, or maybe that he doesn't see the need to fake it. If it's just a ho-hum gift, he'll give a ho-hum reaction, not smile and say how much he loves it, like I do.

Yesterday was really nice, in the early afternoon, Margaret and I went out shopping. I had some Target coupons: a ten dollar gift card came in the mail (off the purchase of fifty dollars or more), I had another gift card, then had returned some things and had still another gift card, then had a 20% off the total purchase coupon from black Friday. I got some Secret Santa stuff done, and a few gifts, and had a nice time with Margaret, she dawdles along and wasn't in a hurry, it was seriously enjoyable.

Our weekend was fantabulous. We had company on Friday night. I had a baking day on Friday. Four pumpkin pies, two loaves of bread, a loaf of low carb almond bread, and chocolate chip cookies.

Paul made venison stew, and some venison roast, both very good, and this from someone who doesn't like it very much.

Saturday was our church Christmas concert, the little girls sang, "We need a little Christmas", and it was sweet. It was incredibly blessed and encouraging. Here is my sister Cheryl with me. :)

Back at home in the evening, everyone was here except for Aaron. The nurses had the night off, Samuel was here for the weekend, and even Grandma visited, although I got here right after she left.

Sunday, more company! Paul was slicing up and packaging more deer meat at the kitchen table while I made a ham dinner at the other end of the room...ham, roasted potatoes, sliced veggies, rolls, and more cookies for dessert. There were at least twenty of us eating, and it was crazy but fun.

Now after all the company and the busyness, the house needs another thorough cleaning, but blah, I do not feel like it.

In a little while, Anne will be here. And after that, Sam will be leaving, going back to Virginia, to where he calls home these days. Some stories are not mine to tell, but you know, there is a story here, one that I have been going know how sometimes I say that life ain't all rainbows and sprinkles? Well, sometimes you just get hit with these trials, right out of left field, and wow. Okay. But here's the thing: Samuel is going to be a daddy! Imagine our surprise, not long after he got out of the Army, us not even knowing he had a sweetheart! So for all these months, I haven't said anything because he had to tell people his own way, and it's not my story to tell.

His sweetie's name is Grace, and she is just finishing her degree in elementary education. Their baby is due next month, and if it were up to Sam, he would marry her right now, but like I said, it's not my story. Sam is trying to find his way in life, instead of going to college after the Army like he thought he would, he's working and trying to find a job as a police officer. It serves him well that he was in the Old Guard, I have no doubt he will find something good. The fact is that Sam and Grace love each other very much, she is a very nice girl, I really like her. Things don't always go the way this mama thinks they should, children grow up, and have minds of their own. The good thing is that Sam is a good kid, and is very determined to go forward in life with living for God, and being responsible, and putting things right. He is extremely excited about the upcoming birth of his baby, and plans to be a good father, and help raise his son.

So, I am going to be a Grandma of four, and this will be the first grandson! :)

Friday, December 1, 2017

and on to december...

The girls are excited, today they get to start their "chocolate calendars", the cardboard advents with a little molded Christmas chocolate behind every door. They each get their own, which was unheard of back in the day, back when I was knee-deep in small children. On our wall calendar were the names of the kids whose turn it one time, we had four calendars and three kids sharing each one, so they got a chocolate every third day, it was hard to keep track of, then one of the toddlers or maybe a sneaky six year old, would get a hold of one of those calendars, open every little door, all the chocolate.

Anyway...back then, there was no way I was going to buy 12 or 10 or even six of those calendars, so they had to share. Sometimes they would choose to do the "every day we each get a small bite" method. Oh my poor kids, they had to learn to take turns and share.

Now Char and Cam and Jon each get their own calendar. But I'm pretty sure they will share with Kap and Ev and Suze and Sonja K.

Yesterday I spent a ridiculous amount of time painting these little sign things, you know, the painted wood block things that are all the rage? I bought some ugly ones at the dollar store, painted them with primer, then yesterday used white pearl essence acrylic, then wrote words with glue and put glitter on them...also painted one of those cardboard-y advent things with the drawers for each day...I spend a few hours on this stuff, with so many other things to do, and I can't even say they came out excellent...maybe I'll take some pics of them later...but I can say this: I enjoyed it immensely.

I am a procrastinator. I woke up this morning with all my plans for the day. I want to make some low carb almond/coconut flour bread. (Yesterday I made some of those keto muffins, cinnamon, with some low-sugar craisins in a few of them...I ate them with butter and a little bit of no sugar added strawberry preserves...mmmm.) I also want to make two loaves of regular homemade bread, because we are having company tonight, and we are having two different crock-pot venison dishes that Paul is making. One has peaches in it, one has squash, I think. I know he cut up onions and peppers last night, and the kitchen counter looked like a murder had taken place. I used the kitchen table to make up a triple batch of chocolate chip cookie dough, and then baked just three pans of them so the girls could have some for school, and will bake the rest today. Today, when I do the other million things I have to do.

Anyway, I woke up this morning, and started to get things out to make some bread. Then I reasoned that it's better hot from the oven, so I shouldn't start it yet. And besides, Camille wasn't up yet, and she's the bread kneader. I need to do a thorough cleaning of the bathroom, and and and. But. I decided that it's going to be such a busy day, I should take advantage of the quiet of the morning first, because it's going to be a long time before I can sit and relax again.

The dogs have been out and back in, 8 paws wiped off (sometimes I miss Duke so much I start to cry), they are snoozing on the couches but one bad Sunny did destroy a random tree ornament she found on the floor. It's shredded up, waiting for me to clean up. The cats are fed and watered, sprawled out sleeping. The floors have been swept, the counters washed, and that's about it.

This morning, I found a little ornament I had set on a shelf on the wall behind the the kitten's paws. It's a little white squirrel ornament with a gold sparkly scarf (Suzanne laughed when I actually bought it for $2, but it's cute!), but somehow that kitten got that ornament down and was beating the heck out of I took it away and put it back on the shelf, I realized: We have a kitten. We're getting a Christmas tree tomorrow. Dang it. Christmas trees are just giant kitty toys. We have had them tip over before, cats climb trees. We WILL tie it up, regardless, but still.

Anyway, I have so much to do, but I know I'll run out of steam if I start scurrying too soon. Or hmm, is that just one of my excuses? I think it's just that panic cleaning is more effective. And besides, if I clean now, it will be messy again later anyway.

Last evening, poor Jonathan asked me if we could please watch our friend's three/four month old puppy for the day before Christmas through the day after Christmas, he would get paid towards his trip! Um, no. I said no. That's a first, btw. I am not a "no" sayer. I usually say yes. Especially to a visiting puppy! And this is one adorable puppy. Margaret and Adrian have this puppy's sister. But guess what? Margaret and Adrian will be bringing their not-quite-one year old Bunny pup over, plus their little 3/4 month old pup here, on Christmas Eve, and have been invited to stay the night here, which will be fun...but add one more puppy to the mix, and this is where even me, who doesn't say NO, had to say no. It was hard. Jon was disappointed. He is trying hard to earn money for this big trip...Evelyn and Suzanne and Sonja, and Jon are going to Norway in the spring for a special conference, with activities geared toward youth. And earning money for this has been challenging...but it seemed like it would tip the scales here from crazy to just CRAZYYY>

Anyway. The kid have been wreath-selling and raking leaves and cleaning people's cars, and still have lots of money to earn in a short time period.

As you get older, you realize how with the passing of time, things that are such a big deal, will fade into memory with everything else, and therefore, you don't get so bent out of shape about things. Also, hopefully, you know for a fact that God does not make mistakes, and there is a huge comfort in that. You see that He has had His hand on situations, and on people, and that when you put your trust in Him, there is no shame, no disappointment. If God is for us, who can be against us? (Rom 8:31)