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

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

ah, life is good....

From my morning walk...which I almost didn't take. I am an expert in talking myself out of doing things that are good for me. This morning, I slept in as much as I could, as I am planning to stay up late tonight...then I remembered I had to get up and take the van in for an inspection! I had to drive into town, and then drop Kathryn off at Emily's house...I still enjoy those little drives all by my lonesome, quiet time to think is something a mom with lots of kids doesn't take for granted.

Home...ah I wanted coffee and relaxation...but no sir, it was time for the walk. Maybe later, I said to myself. Yes, later. I looked at the coffee pot, all hot and yummy...but no, I put my sneakers on.

I got halfway down the road, and saw the guys that work for the town making white lines in the road. I thought I should just turn around, yes, that's a good idea. Wait, the road is still open, I can still walk, I am not that shy, just walk by the guys, and you'll be fine. (Can you tell I'm not a city girl?) So I walked, said good morning to all three of them and agreed that yes, it is a good morning for a walk. Then on the way back, I realized that if those guys move down our road faster than me, our dogs might be outside, ready to bark at them. So I hurried back...and passed them...and asked what they were doing, btw. Repaving our road. Oh joy, I might have to find another place to walk, or get my rear out the door really early.

So I walked, and it makes me happy.

This also makes me happy....

This is Miss Evelyn Joy, my eleventh child, whom I call, "Elle-evenne", sometimes, with little Lydia Eleanor. Auntie Ev. God gives life, and children are a gift straight from heaven.

Monday, May 22, 2017

yeah, I'm still alive....

Although I do have to remind my sister of my password so she can let you all know if and when I do expire. What?! There is a 100% chance it will happen someday!

Anyway, on to more acceptable thoughts, happier subjects! This fine morning, I took Little Miss Sunshine on a walk. She isn't terrible on a leash, but she needs more training. I stopped walking everytime she pulled, so we were really stop and go for a stretch, but she also has a hang-up about going too far down the road, I think she smells the scary cows. She just stops in the road and sits down. So I tell her she wins, and we turn around.

So many things always going on around here, but I don't want to bore you with the I will just write a random list, which you can skim or not:)

1. Paul did not go to India on Friday. His flight out kept getting delayed, until the connecting flights became impossible, and then the whole domino effect of him not getting there unless all plans he had to cancel the trip.

2. Emily and I did the shopping for the wedding...the food came out excellent, our friend Christine from Ottowa was the chef, the meal was one Mirielle had made for a youth gathering...grilled chicken breast served with jasmine rice which is cooked in coconut water and coconut milk, topped with a pineapple and red pepper salsa. The salad before the meal was fresh beets and pears, with spring mix and crumbled goat cheese. The dessert was soft ice cream with a whole slew of topping choices, which I did not partake of, for all the good it does me, I am just not losing...but that's a whole 'nother story.

3. The wedding was SO nice. I didn't sleep but three hours the night before, Duke woke me up, I let them out, an animal had gotten into the garbage, so they thought it was a buffet...long story short, I was WIDE awake, and couldn't get back to sleep. So I headed to the wedding with a major migraine coming was really starting to steamroll me by the time we got there, really bad...but then I got out of the car, and was gone. It totally disappeared. I took that as a huge gift from God. (it has never happened like that before, they usually get worse and worse, then take a few days to recover from)

4. Paul left with Kathryn this morning to drive to New York City, five hours away, to the Norwegian Embassy to get Kathryn's visa for her year in Norway. She is leaving in July. I was supposed to go, but since Paul's trip to India got cancelled, he volunteered.

5. Our refrigerator continues to give us trouble, the repairman has ordered a new "board", which I assume will magically fix it.

6. Margaret and Adrian invited the three younger kids to their place for the night when they thought I was the one going to NYC with Kathryn, but now that I'm not, they said the kids could still stay there. The kids opted to do that, of course.

7. On Friday, Charlotte Claire and Camille and I made 295 cookies for the wedding. 220 of them had to be packaged in cute little individual wraps, to be wedding favors. The rest were for rehearsal dinner/ect. I brought home a few of the rejects to the kids here. Those littlest girls of mine are amazing, they helped measure and cracked the eggs, and really helped make the cookies on the trays. We made three triple batches, and they helped until we were finished, with no complaints.

8. This morning I am drinking the yummy coffee that Samuel brought me from San has hints of berry and chocolate, but only subtle hints, it's so good.

9. I have so many things to do. The little details of life, the late library book and the bills and the end of the year testing and reports for homeschool, vet appointments, dentist appointments, three vehicles that need inspections this week...and Sonja has an MRI of her knee this week.

10. Yesterday afternoon, Samuel and Jonathan invited the boys from their youth group over, to hang out, and for dinner. It was a rainy day, so they were in the house, which seemed to shrink when they all piled in. Sonja and I headed out to the grocery store to get some stuff to make taco salad. We went to Target first, just a quick stop, because it was just Sonja and I...and she needed some shorts. A few other teenage daughters were surprised and dismayed that we went to Target without them.

11. After the taco salad, we served brownies and ice cream to the boys, and our own kids of course. By the time I got the last dishes done, it was after eight o'clock, and I was tired. But Evelyn and I stayed up and watched, "Dark Angel" on PBS.

12. My sister is having a good week, all seven of her daughters are in town, including Claire, who now lives in Australia with her husband and son.

But here's the all these things, all the details and busy stuff that goes on, I get to choose my attitude. I truly do. I cannot change my kids, or my husband, or other drivers or decisions that are made about things. I can just get all frustrated and bitter and miserable and feel misunderstood and look at life all dismally...or I can trust that God will give me victory over the sin that wants to weigh me down. This past week, I had some trials. And some tears. Life isn't always smooth sailing, but it is always good when I turn to God...and let HIM run the show. It's such a burden lifted when that happens. I pray for wisdom and patience and goodness, I am obedient to what I hear from Him, and then the other things fall into place.

My house needs cleaning, the clothes in the washer need to go in the dryer, I am supposed to make a dessert for something tomorrow, but the dogs are snoring and the house is's a dark and cozy morning, my mother-in-law is back from Florida and I am going to visit her this afternoon. Life is good.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

a merry heart....

is good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones...(prov 17:22)

From my walk down the road this morning...

On my walk, happy because my legs work, and the weather is stellar, and mostly because I decided to trust God.

When you have lots of kids, it isn't likely that all of them are having easy, trial-free days at the same time. And sometimes, the poop just seems to hit the fan in large loads, leaving mom to wonder What The H? (heck, of course.)

It seems easy in retrospect, to trust God and accept the children, sweet baby after sweet baby...then they grow up...and my heart is entwined right in theirs, I love them more than ever...and whatever muck they step in, well, it gets my feet dirty too.

But I cannot, and will not, let my heart be troubled by their trials! I will remain steadfast in faith, that God causes all things to work together for the good for those who love him. What good am I to my children if I lose heart?

Emily's here, and I am not ready to leave...bye for now.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

one hot and sunny day....

A lady woke up and went on her walk...three days in a row!!! She came home and sat on the deck in her comfy chair, and sipped her coffee.
(actual unretouched pic of lady who went on walk)(she noticed right away the lines on her neck, but rationalized that it was because of the slouchy Adirondack chair she was sitting in)(Did you know that Adirondack chairs were invented for Tuberculosis patients who sat outdoors up in the Adirondack mountains, designed for recovery of the lungs?)(Evelyn taught that, see, the more kids one has, the smarter one gets!)

Anyway. This lady, she felt on top of the world because of her walking streak, even thought the mean terrible scale played a rotten trick on her and went up instead of down this fine morning. Then she had another victory...she picked up one high school daughter from school, and instead of just taking HER for ice cream, she went home first and picked up Jon, Char, and Cam, and also their puppy Sunny...and: she didn't get herself an ice cream...the kids stepped up to the window, one by one...soft chocolate with chocolate sprinkles, chocolate and vanilla twist with rainbow sprinkles...and this lady, she held firm. The girl at the window looked at her questioningly, but this lady...she just looked at the nice girl behind the counter, and said, "That's it." Victory!

but she celebrated too soon...she was quite hungry, so she accidentally ate way too many PopChips. They are not allowed in her house anymore. Too many, ha, the whole bag.

If you're wondering what happened between this morning walk and the afternoon ice cream victory, here it is...she had a huge visit from her S-in-law Kim, with Kim's two kids, and two of Kim's grandsons, both 3 years old. Young children had watermelon and hot dogs (Jonathan was so nice to grill them on the deck!), freeze pops and pouch drinks. They splashed in little pools, jumped on the trampoline, and bigger kids climbed the tree.

The lady and Kim drank coffee and watched the kids, having those conversations moms have, punctuated by interruptions like Look At Me, I'm Hungry, and He's Going To Throw Water On Me!

It was a very warm day, in the high 80's. Warm and sunny and pleasant and delicious.

Dinner...a spiral sliced ham, served cold, sliced buttered baguette, raw carrots and celery slices.

This lady is now sitting in her comfy chair, listening to two of her sons outside working on a car with two of their friends. Samuel received a car from his Grampa a few years back, and now is getting it running again. It has been decorating the driveway for a while, since his sisters stopped driving it when they got their own cars. They got it running, and I think they replaced the brakes.

This lady is tired...the hot weather makes one sleepy, especially when the whole house fan is humming/roaring. The tree frogs and the crickets are starting in, like they have been waiting for this day of heat to sing out with all their hearts. The dogs are too hot, they lie on the kitchen tile to cool off, stretching out as much as possible. They barked minimally when the boys' friends arrived, eager to sniff them and get back to their cool tiles.

The husband of this house is packing. He is going to India, again. He brings his little coffee pot, his mini blender, his coffee and coconut oil, and his own little containers of half and half. He eats super healthy, even when he travels. He puts this lady to SHAME by his very existence, ha. He does his push ups and his work outs, and if she ventures to say that she put maybe two and a half miles of walking in one day, he'll pshaw that, that's not much! He doesn't do it to be rude or mean or purposely condescending, it just seems that way because he is superbly fit. He sprints down the road with the dogs as if he's 25 and not 55, he jump ropes and climbs the rope in the tree and lifts weights. He doesn't believe in excuses, but this lady...excuses are her middle name! Yet they love each other, and this is true.

He walks by the candy dish with nary a thought, she looks, drools, slaps her own hand, thinks about it, decides not to, and yay!

Oh and you know what? This would be a perfect night for a light lime beer...oh yummers. There are none in the house...oh well.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

growing where you're planted...

I am so easily distracted, and so quickly lured into thoughts that aren't productive. Here I am, almost 52 years old, and there are so many things I find myself wishing for and wanting. Let's be real here, if I live another 30 years, I'll be most fortunate. In fact I may have googled it and found out that I have approximately a 67% chance. So...why would I possibly need more/better stuff?

But then, my tastes aren't so extravagant, the grill in the Aldi ad for $ pillows for the deck chairs I got at the thrift store...reasonable things.

Anyway. This morning I walked again, this time with two little girls. I noticed that one of these small girls likes to complain. Oh, a swarm of bugs, oh it stinks (we live on a farm road, and yeah, manure), my feet hurt, my eyes hurt. I tried to ignore it, but by the Eyes Hurt thingy, I was like, "Okay, you're at #4, enough." So then I try to talk to her sister, and she does this stomp stomp stomp thing with her feet, like she can barely take another step. I ignore this, wait until her sister is done talking, then tell them about the Native Americans, how they learned to walk stealthily, so they wouldn't scare away the prey. We talked about how if they didn't hunt, they didn't eat, unless they survived on squash and corn and beans. They needed the furs too. Little Miss started taking quiet steps while we talked about this, so I asked her if her feet felt better walking the quiet, she said, of course it feels better to stomp stomp stomp. Oh well.

I also nicely suggested we all think before we talk, and try not to use our whining voice.

The two of them are so different, but they vie for my attention sometimes, so I have to be careful not to give too much attention to bad behavior, or it reinforces it. I also have to work on this with all the kids: if I suggest an alternate behavior to one child, or rather say, Knock It Off!, I don't need a chorus of agreement from the siblings, nor do I need a litany of past offenses brought up. They aren't allowed to put their two cents in, if they have an issue, they can talk to me about it later. I try to make this clear when things are all sunshiney and peaceful, and they say of course they won't do this, Mom, what are you talking about. But as soon as I say something to someone, it starts. So we are working on it.

Anyway, we walked this fine morning. Yesterday, I took the two little princesses to the library. We found books, and sat around was lovely. A quick stop at the thrift store on the way home yielded two sweet pairs of sandals for Miss Char, and a huge set of outdoor fun for $3, rackets and paddles and horseshoes.

Home...ah, sunshine...then, time to clean up the house. I had warned all the kids we were going to pitch in and clean up, but it was still like pulling teeth. Most of them help, but put that iPod down, and give it your all for just ten minutes, please! I put chicken and pork chops in the oven, made some sweet potatoes and russet potatoes, some mixed veggies, and some french fries...and we had company! Five small children came to visit for the evening! My sister's daughter is getting married this Saturday...she has seven daughters, one lives in Australia. So they all are happy to be together, and went out to dinner with my sister...I watched Susan's three and two of Janet's three. Will, Sebastian, Linnea, Vivienne, and Nadine were here. It was great fun, they are all really good children, and our house was happy and loud and it was just sweetness. The little ones are two and three, and don't care for doggies, but they did fine. Our dogs don't really care much about kids, they wag and try to lick faces, but they aren't really concerned about their presence. They just greet, then lie down and say HARRUMPH, head on paws.

So it was a nice evening...then this morning at 3:30, I was getting up out of warm cozy bed to drive Mirielle and Evelyn to the airport...they are flying to Florida, staying a few days at the beach, then driving Grandma's car home for her, as she is flying home. Yes, I went back to bed as the sun was coming up.

Today...gymnastics...we need dog food and coffee filters and milk (the bottom part of the 'fridge is still working, the top part is too warm)...we need some fresh fruit and veggies, and today is Joseph's birthday...he is 26! So I should get him something...I have a few little many birthdays. I guess if you have 16 kids, that's a birthday every 22.8 days, and we have three in May and one in April...

Ah well....Sam is making bacon and eggs.

Monday, May 15, 2017

the mother's day lie....

Mother's Day, an Instagram field day, all the smiling mamas with their bouquets and chocolates...grown "children" feeling guilted into at least sending a text. I just hope all the mamas who had to work, or who didn't get flowers or smiling photos of themselves with their adoring children realize that social media is NOT REAL.

What moms really want is a pat on the back...from her own kids. A confirmation that she didn't totally ruin them all. Moms want kids who stand on their own feet. That's part of the success story of parenting, when you lead them to the place where they pay their own way. It's like, "Phew, another on of them we don't have to worry about anymore..." But then, as a mom, you still worry. Their hearts get broken, your heart breaks with them. They get overwhelmed, you bear it with them.

It's a balance, for me, to rejoice with them, yet not to let my very soul be weighed down when they have their personal struggles. But oh it's a battle, I understand so clearly how the man with 99 sheep left them all to find the one who was lost. He loved each of them.

This isn't my baby, it's my niece Janet's little Elouise Charlotte...she was a snuggler, I rocked her a bit and she feel asleep, but Sonja K. was bugging bugging, Please Mom, Please, Let Me Hold Her, so I handed her over, ever so reluctantly.

It's such a rush of that old Mom feeling, to rock a baby like that.

Yesterday, I found myself wishing I could just stay home and have all my kids over, but that wasn't in the plans. There was a soccer tournament, and our team did well, so they had two games yesterday...they came in second, yay! Jonathan did a fantastic job, Sonja isn't playing yet because of her knee. Anyway. There was a wedding shower in the afternoon, which six of my girls attended with me, and it was SO nice. My niece from Australia was there with her little boy, who is darling, and being among such good friends was a huge blessing. Emily made the food, and wow. Barbecued chicken sliders on toasted buns, salad with feta cheese and strawberries, veggies and fruit was amazing.

I don't know what's wrong with me sometimes, but it seems the grass is always greener. Once I woke up, mentally, and realized that this was nonsense, that I need to just enjoy where I am, and be thankful for what I have, and to help where I can help, be good in what I can be good in, then the day became really really blessed.

Cleaning up with Em and Ab and our friend Page, and playing the funny wedding shower games with Audrey and Claire, it really was enjoyable. I am simply not wasting any more of my life thinking of what I should be or would be doing!

Also this: I have decided, again, ha, that I will not wait until I FEEL like being healthy. No, I shall just go on that walk, do that workout...because I want to, and I can't listen to my reasoning. My reasoning has added to my muffin top, and caused me to huff and puff where I should be sailing smoothly up hills. So it gets no voice any more.

With Sonja Kathleen....

Miss Charlotte Claire with Little Miss Sunshine, aka Sunny.

This is a disjointed post, rambling here and there and everywhere because I have kids who want to tell me their dreams this morning, and who want to go to the library...I went on my walk today, yay me, but now I have to call the refrigerator repair place, AGAIN, our thousand dollar Samsung, gleaming stainless steel beauty is HORRID. It's too warm, the back panel is all frozen up, AGAIN. Never a dull one...

Friday, May 12, 2017

the sweet and the sad and the unknown....

Yesterday we celebrated Miss Charlotte Claire's 11th birthday with a hike! Char, Mirielle, Jonny there in the back, me, Samuel, Kathryn, and little Cam in the front...

Hot weather is overrated, but moderate spring temperatures around 60 degrees with sunshine peeking out: I'll take it.

These three children DID take off their shoes and walk in the water. Kathryn accompanied them.

Miss Charlotte Claire...

After our walk to the falls, we went across the road to the lake, and had a picnic. When Char sees the expanse of green grass, she sees a huge gymnastics mat.

We did stop for ice cream on the way home, the place I have been stalking, I mean, planning to visit for the last several months. Who me? Drool over an online ice cream menu? And would you believe that when I actually had my turn at the window to order, I wimped out on all those homemade scoops and got my typical chocolate/vanilla soft serve twist? It WAS good, especially to a girl who hasn't had ice cream in weeks and weeks...but it did not live up to the ice cream I had imagined it was going to be. Sam had Seneca Salted Caramel and a scoop of Chocolate Almond Coconut Fudge. In a SUNDAE, no less. I hated him for a minute there. I actually asked the nice boy at the register if I could change my order, but he was all messed up with our six orders (Mirielle being faithful to her no-sugar plan and all, it was only the six of us getting ice cream. It does put a tiny damper on things when one person is all healthy, and now I know what that's like, because it's usually me. Not that she said anything, but her polite abstinence judged me big time.)

Anyway. It did not meet my wild expectations, nor fulfill my ice cream dreams, but the kids liked it. But while I'm commenting on my lack of being thrilled, I will say this: I ordered coffee for Mare and I, which was billed as locally roasted, ect...and it was sitting in one of those airpots. Not fresh brewed. And. The pot was almost empty. I had an inch of coffee in my cup, then had to wait for another pot, which was good, it would be fresh...but I wanted to dump the remains from my cup, oh I am such a brat. But the bad thing....wait for it...was they had little containers of flavored Coffee-Mate for creamer! It was a CREAMERY! A homemade ice cream-from-fresh-cream-from-cows-down-the-road place! And no cream for the coffee? um. I asked if they had any real cream, very nicely, of course, and they produced a quart of half and half from another brand named local-ish dairy. hmm.

Oh well. The coffee was nice with the ice cream, and then we stopped at a winery. The Finger Lakes are beautiful, glacier formed lakes that make up the middle of New York state. They are long narrow lakes, surrounded by rolling hills, growing grapes, and local wineries. Mirielle was driving so she only took a tiny sip, but I had a bigger taste...of a raspberry white wine...oh yummers. We bought a bottle to save for the cabin in the woods, and two for Becky's wedding shower gift. (My sister's second oldest daughter (my sister with the seven daughters) is getting married next week).

It wasn't until I got home that I noticed that I had leaked the chocolate-y goodness from the bottom of my cone all over the tummy of my nice springy shirt.

Anyway...home, to taco salad, as per request of the birthday girl. Abigail came over, Mali and Lydia came over, and Margaret came over with her puppy Bunny (Adrian was working). We went around the table and said nice things about Charlotte Claire, and we all agree: she's a good girl. Sweet and sincere and motivated, she's really a good girl.

She got her presents, but the best part is tonight: homemade ice cream cake, which I'll venture to say will be better than yesterday's overpriced treats, not that I'll know it, I won't be imbibing. But Char is having a few girls spend the night, and yay, what fun that is!!!

Today, I am going on my own little adventure...I am going to buy a new microwave! Six months this last one lasted. It was still under warranty when it popped and sparked and burned out it's element. I have to cut off the cord and send it in to get refunded, but in the mean time, we are buying a new one. They are just not made to endure, not in our house, anyway.

It has been a crazy week, and not all craziness is craziness I can write about, but this will suffice: I cannot let my soul be weighed down by other people's trials. I can not stop believing that God has a plan, when the going gets rough.

And here's the thing too: Mother's Day makes me sad. I have sixteen children, but when I hear, "Mother's Day", I think of my own dear departed mother, who was the best mommy a little girl could have. I remember her standing behind me in my room, as I was looking in the mirror, and she said, "You are a beautiful little girl, Della Marie." That was in the olden days, before mommies were encouraged to boost self esteem. She said it from the bottom of her heart, not because she read on the internet that it was a good thing to do. She was so creative, and could make a cardboard box into a doll house, a kitchen table and a pencil would be a huge doodle pad, the table was formica, we would just wash it off...she always had time for me, no matter what.

I am thankful for Paul's mom, too. We have become increasingly close through the years, she has been so good to us. Next week, Mirielle and Evelyn are flying down to Florida, visiting her, visiting the beach, and driving her car back to New York for her, so she can fly back. She'll be just a few miles away for the whole summer:)

Kids grow up and make choices. And I do not love them any less for those choices. I love each and every one of them with all of my heart. I hurt for them, and I root for them, I pray for them, and I hate when they are hurt. I would do anything in my power to help them, but sometimes only goodness and prayer are all I can do. As a mom, I do get glimpses of what it must be like to be God...He gave His commandments, sent His son...and then we all get to choose. He sees the bad choices, the suffering in the world, yet we all still get to choose. When we choose the good, I am convinced that Jesus jumps up and down with joy, there beside God in heaven.

I have rambled for long enough, I missed out on some quiet time with Jonny, he was talking to me and I was murmuring to give me just another minute...the dogs are snoring and the girls are in their room...I need to touch base with them. Samuel has agreed to teach them this morning while I go and buy that microwave, he is an excellent teacher.