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

Monday, September 26, 2016

this day went by too fast....

I know, not many people say that about a Monday, but it was a lovely day. Pumpkin spice coffee was made for a morning like today, dark and chilly with the wind blowing. After cleaning up a little around here and tackling some school with the kids, I decided to do a big project: clean my room, thoroughly! I sorted through clothes, did you know I had lots and lots of clothes? I am a saver, a keeper, which sounds a tad bit more sane than "hoarder". I am actually more of a collector, ha. I didn't have much growing up, that's my excuse. Or maybe I just save things "in case". You know, in case I get really skinny, or in case I gain back the weight I lost. But today, I talked to myself as I sorted. I said, "You don't need to save these small skinny jeans. If you lose tentwenty pounds, you can buy more. You don't have to save ANY of the big clothes, because you ain't gonna ever go there again. Ever. And this stuff you haven't worn in so long, just ditch it! Life is easier with less stuff, just ditch it!!!

So I listened to myself and I ditched. I set aside bags of clothes for the thrift store (lots of things still had tags on them, from both regular stores AND the thrift store...)

I threw out things that were older, stained, ect., and oh dear, it felt good. I went through all of my dresser drawers, and pulled the old 2X skirts from the closet...I vacuumed and washed the stuff I decided to keep. And...I got rid of the old lavender pram...wah. I have pictures of it, but don't want to put them on Paul's computer. It was hard to say goodbye to it, I had it from the time my fifth child was a baby, little Joseph Michael...twelve babies slept in that pram. One could safely say that I loved it.

But, no one would want to put a baby in it anymore...the inside was cracked and tearing, it was stained and musty and aged. So I let the kids have it to make a go cart. They are having a blast. Jonathan has a bicycle in his room, taking it apart to try to put pedals on the pram. Far be it from me to discourage them, who knows, it might turn out really cool. Their excitement is fun, and I'm glad they are enjoying it, it makes it easier than just trashing it.

I realized that they hardly ever watch television in the afternoons. Of course they don't during school days, unless someone is sick or something like that. They keep busy though.

I had chicken marinating in the refrigerator, I had put it in a mixture of lemon juice, olive oil, and Jamaican Jerk spices. Kathryn put it in the oven for me as I finished up my room. Then Paul came home from work and made a really good salad. So dinner was delicious.

Anyway. Tomorrow morning I have to have Kathryn to the dentist by nine o'clock. I don't mind getting going early, I just don't like missing out on the lazy morning sipping the coffee, ha. It's supposed to be a nice sunny day tomorrow, actually...right now it's raining.

And...I am tired....goodnight.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

toys and candy and staying up late...

That's what Sam used to say to the little kids as he patted the tops of their heads.

My girls are tired. They have been going going going. Paul took them on a long hike/walk today, while I ran to the grocery store with Sonja. We had run out of kitty food, and were low on dog food, bananas, milk, bread, and fresh produce. We also stopped into the thrift store, which didn't have anything we needed, then the dollar store...Hershey's chocolate foil wrapped eggs...a few months old, but hey, chocolate is chocolate, and when one has five teenage girls, and those girls want chocolate all in the same week, if you know what I mean, then Mama has to have chocolate in the house.

Anyway. Home...Abigail came over for a bit, and Mirielle. And...this is exciting: I am going to Washington, D.C.! Well, not even there to stay, just to get Samuel, then we're going to the Shenandoah National Park for the weekend, a four day weekend, in October!!!! Lots of us are going, but not Paul....he's going to India! And not Emily, she's going to Washington state to visit Benjamin and Ashley and little Anya.

And, Margaret got her dress! It's so lovely, I can't wait to show you all!

And...Ben and Ashley and Anya are coming to New York for the third time this year!!! They bought their plane tickets, they are coming for the wedding! It's going to be so nice, they are staying through the following weekend, and we are doing our Secret Santa! I want to start baking Christmas cookies right now, and freezing them! I am so excited.

I want to make sure to savor the moments. I wish I could wave my magic wand and have the entire house clean and shiny, all freshly painted, you know, all nice and company ready. Margaret is marrying a boy from Winnipeg, Manitoba (Canada). His family is flying in for the wedding, along with some friends.

So I don't want stress to ruin things. Worry, anxiety, caring what people think of me...yeah, the whole house is such a huge reflection on ME, but why oh why do I care so much?

So, today, cookies happened. We had a thing at church, and I baked cookies...I mean almost three hundred cookies. And last evening, I baked just four trays for here...and ended up having a glass of wine with Em and Mirielle...then had a few cookies which turned into five cookies...then I chalked it up to a bad day, and moved on. I was fine today, baking those cookies. I was fine when they were placed on the tables with the pumpkin spice cookies, the frosted banana bars, the varieties of muffins, the peanutbutter chocolate rice crispy treats...then when it was time to go home, and I was packing up the leftover cookies, I ate a broken piece of one of the crunchier ones....then before I knew it, cookies were happening again. Four. So I stopped. They are

And here I am at home...I ate really good stuff today...healthy stuff...then had two cookies a little while ago...because they're like the crack cocaine to me, I guess. It gets in my system, and bam, I can't get enough of them, ha. They are really good cookies.

But tomorrow is another day, and no more cookies for me. No stress eating, either.

Little Miss Sunshine, the new yellow lab, is scrumptious. She is a couch-y sort of dog, the kind one cannot possibly forbid, because she jumps up on her hind legs, and whines at us, so we'll give her a little boost, scoop her up to the couch, so she can lick faces and get pets and curl up as close as possible to have a nap. We really shouldn't encourage it, we should make her sit, and lie on the floor, like a proper dog. But. She is so cute and little and snuggly. She thinks she is a people.

Friday night's crockpot dinner was eaten all weekend. Last night, Paul also made bacon wrapped venison meatloaf. He also made a crockpot full of bonebroth.

This week...two physical therapy appointments, dentist appt., ortho dr. appt., gymnastics class, vet appt., shopping for food + making food for the soccer team's pep rally Friday night...(homemade meatballs and pasta, salad, garlic bread, is the menu...and maybe an ice cream sundae bar for dessert.)

I am using Paul's computer, but he ordered me a cord from Amazon, hope it works, so I can blog! (And download pictures!) is good, because God is good. When sin doesn't get a chance to come in and ruin everything by tricking me to be offended or to hold a grudge, or to be weighed down by worry...then life is good. Of course there is a season for everything under the sun...but this is a time to rejoice, having family and friends come together to celebrate. It's not to make everything shine like the pinicle of's a wedding, not a magazine shoot. Yes, I am telling myself this. Because I have ideas, let me tell you. I want to get the sewing machine out...I want to make dresses for daughters, for me, I want to make curtains and cover pillows, but wait! I want to paint, I want to sand and refinish and recover and redo! I want to throw away old things and get new things and organize the things I'm keeping. I want to exercise and lose weight and trim my hair and buy new shoes (Birkenstocks at a wedding!!!? I do not think so.)

But for now, I'll just sit here and sort out my thoughts, and's almost bedtime, and I haven't been able to sleep in lately because Sunny wakes up at 6:30, weekdays and weekends. I'm tired, but happy. I just wish I could slow life down a little bit, the days slip away by with alarming speed...I want them to just drift....

Friday, September 23, 2016

della does nothing, episode #99

Here I am doing what I do best, nothing. But wait, there are some things on my agenda for today, and in no particular order...

1. Make a doctor's appointment or got to urgent care for this awful pain after peeing...I think it's a bladder infection, but goggle has me worried, ha.

2. Answer all the texts about the kitten that I am giving away...and make the decision to give away the last kitten too, even though the kids love him and want to keep him.

3. Pick two girls up early from school.

4. Get half and half for the coffee, plus get more coffee, plus some bread and bananas, dog chow, and and and.

5. I was asked to make chocolate chip cookies for a church thing Sunday.

6. Tomorrow, wedding dress shopping.

7. I lost my glasses. My old trusty glasses, that hardly worked anymore...they're gone. I don't get new ones through insurance for two years, so I HAVE to go buy some from Walmart or somewhere, because I cannot see. (We went to Target last evening, and I had to have the girls read the tags for me)

Sunny the puppy went to the vet yesterday, she was fifteen pounds. She is has to go again in a few weeks to get all those puppy shots in. Duke and Suri go in next week for checkups...and we have lots of dentist appointments coming up.

Little Miss Lydia was here yesterday afternoon. We filled the little pool for her in the front yard, and she loved it. She chatters and repeats words already, and is SO adorable.

And Sonja got Lydia to sleep....

There is a load of clean laundry in the chair, waiting to be put away. I always put it away as I do it, but when the older kids do their own laundry, they just move what's in their way.

I have accomplished something major this morning, dinner is in the crockpot! There's nothing quite like KNOWING WHAT'S FOR DINNER before like five or six o'clock in the evening. Oh it's a good feeling. Beef, carrots, onions, and potatoes. I tossed the potato chunks in olive oil and salt and pepper before adding them to the top, maybe they won't turn black this time.

It's a chilly autumn day, a proper cozy day. The kind of day for sitting around blogging and drinking pumpkin spice coffee. Not the sort of day for calling the doctor, ain't nobody got time for that.

But I have procrastinated long enough, drinking tons of water, taking cranberry supplements, and still, ouch. So...wah, I hate making dr. appointments.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

fall sounds pretty nice right now....

Autumn...all crisp and orange, with pumpkin spice at every corner. What's not to love? Our summer here in central New York state has been hot and hot and hot. Dry, and hot. I am longing for a rainy day, but then I am a rainy day person. Perhaps I am under the strong delusion that a rainy day will mean crawling into bed with a good book and an endless cup of pumpkin spice coffee, and as long as we're dreaming, a tall stack of homemade chocolate chip cookies. I should clarify that I don't really eat cookies in bed, but shh, when I was in France, and had the lovely rainy afternoons all to myself, after wandering the village for hours, I may have had a pastry or two with my good book...with the window open, hearing the rain...with a few fresh strawberries and some local chocolate...

Anyway. Back to reality here. It's supposed to be 84 and sunny today, which is fine when you're going to the beach, ha. Our pool is turning green now, it's done for the season. And all the pumpkin spice things are off limits to me, I do not consume PopTarts, nor even Cheerios, although if I bought a box of pumpkin Cheerios, I would indeed eat the entire box. Low carb life is not fun for carbo-holics like me. I could totally survive on oatmeal, bagels, toast, rice (with cinnamon and sugar and milk on a cold morning!). I actually placed a package of pumpkin-cream filled Oreos in my cart the other day at the Price Rite in Rochester. But the more I turned it over in my mind, the more I realized that big ol' ME was the only one who would delight in those sickly sweet cookies...and why put myself through it? So I put them back. It was painful, but I did it.

I love pumpkin stuff so much I can't bake it or I'll eat it all. I'm serious. It's my trigger food. Moist spicy pumpkin bread or muffins, pumpkin cookies...I cannot resist them. I can bake a triple batch of chocolate chip cookies, and not eat one bite, but pumpkin stuff...nope. I have found some low carb, low or no sugar recipes that I pumpkin cheesecake, which is pretty good, but not like the full sugar blast of a real pumpkin muffin.

But...we have found a really nice way to use up some zucchini from the garden! We are on our third double batch of muffins. The recipe I used last night is super easy, I'm not sure if I should copy it but just look up coconut flour zucchini muffins...there are lots of eggs in it, Martha, if you double it, you can use up a dozen! There are zucchini at stands everywhere around here, too, but we have lots from the garden. I put lots of spices in mine, pumpkin pie and allspice and cinnamon...they're really moist and good. I should try the same thing with pumpkin instead of zucchini.

Anyway. Sorry. Off On A Tangent is my middle name.

Yesterday was gymnastics class day. The kids LOVE it, even Jonathan. Before class, we went to the thrift store, because Wednesday is half-price day. I found Osh-Kosh baby overalls for Lydia for a few bucks, a nice tunic style shirt for Cam to wear with leggings, a "Call The Midwife" book, and a brand new coffee make, still in the wrappers inside the box, for just a few bucks, for Margaret and Adrian. They are getting married in December!

This fine morning, I have to get out of my comfy chair, and take the puppy to the vet. We are almost out of coffee, and with at least five coffee drinkers here, that could be classified as an emergency...

But oh the little details of life. Phew. I just had to take the dogs out quick. Sunny was circling around and YAY! She pooped outside, where it belongs! I started carrying treats in my pocket to augment the praise I bestow on the cute little beast, when she relieves herself in the yard. I prefer the positive reinforcement training, but when I catch her squatting on my nice living room floor, I tell her NO, NO!, then scoop her up and bring her outside. I wonder if it's a catch 22 sometimes, she loves going outside, so all she has to do is pee or poop on the floor, and voila, she gets to go out. It's getting better, but it takes way more patience than I possess. It's a darned good thing she's so cute. Right now, she has finally worn herself out and is sleeping on the rug at my feet. She jumps up on her hind legs and puts her front paws on my lap, and whines, she wants to come up here with me, but I am thinking she's going to get bigger and bigger, and um, it's probably not a good idea, so I make her sit, then pet her, then she finally sighs and lies down on the rug. I have to tell myself that she's not a people, she thinks she is.

So Emily has some aches and pains. She's a registered nurse, also going to Grad school to be a nurse practitioner, a very busy girl. She doesn't have time for injuries, ha. Although I'm thankful that it wasn't worse, of course...

Well, my computer is dying, and I have things to do...Little Miss Sunshine needs a bath before the vet, and yours truly needs to wash the hair...the princesses need some things to do, and there is laundry screaming my name....

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

never a dull moment #9,561

Emily was headed to class this morning....the sun was rising in the sky...the car in front of her for Emily stopped too...but the lady behind Em didn't stop, not until she smashed Emily right into the car in front of Em. Thankfully, no one was injured...except for the poor little Suzuki, the car that was just paid off. So...she texted me, and I did the Mom Thing, you know, soared right into PANIC...she called me and assured me she was okay, in the background at the accident scene, I heard someone asking if they were sure no one needed an ambulance, and thank God they didn't. A car is a car, and it's not fun when you lose money, when you have to rent or borrow to get to work, but hey, she's alive and well, so I am happy this fine autumn morning. Yes, I had to get out of my comfy chair and hurry into the van to go pick Emily up, (always keep that hair washed!)...she decided to stay home today, instead of borrowing our van and heading to class late. I think there's something to be said for resting up and mentally taking a break after having a traumatic accident. (May I also mention that I am thankful that the accident wasn't Emily's fault? The lady behind her was ticketed, and it made me feel evil that I was happy Em didn't get ticketed.)

So today is gymnastics class, and activity club for the little kids. The girls are getting some's slightly crisp and chilly this morning, so we have a vanilla scented candle burning on the coffee table and they are going to eat breakfast in the living room wrapped in blankies, did I mention that I love homeschooling?

Then...a little bit of math, more spelling words, some grammar...then out to gymnastics.

While two of the girls were at the dentist for cleanings, Charlotte Claire, Camille, and I went for a walk down the sidewalk downtown, and visited a furniture store. They love doing things like that, but I felt bad for the hopeful saleslady because we were totally wasting her time. I am not about to spend $800 for a new couch, not when we got our leather sofa for $42 at the thrift store (it was $49 but I had a coupon, ha.) I looked on craigslist and wow, one can score a nice couch on there for not very much. I would like to get rid of the red plaid couch and chair, because replacing them would be cheaper and easier than recovering them...I have no patience for all that measuring and sewing. Anyway.

Kathryn is heading over to Emily's house to scan some documents, Jon is going with her and taking Sunny, to bring some sunshine and joy to Emily for a few minutes, ha.

Anyway, yesterday we went to Kohl's after the dentist, to look for dresses...for the little girls, for the big girls, for me. We didn't find any, but we found lots of other things, of course. I had a 30% off coupon, plus a ten dollar coupon, then ended up with Kohl's cash...I got a skirt for less than four dollars. I also got lovely little shirts for the little girls and one for their cousin Dani, the same shirts with different prints, they love that sort of thing. A quick stop at Aldi for basics like bananas and cashews and eggs and milk, then home...home at six o-clock with no idea what's for dinner, Bad Mom. The kids had to leave for their meeting, so I cooked up some hot sausage with red onions, and steamed some broccoli...then cut up some cheese and served it with crackers and pepperoni and sliced cucumbers, a quick and easy dinner...phew.

And school needs to begin....bye for now. (btw, I did walk yesterday, but didn't yet this morning...I was slightly busy!)

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

today's the day!!!

Am I the only one who gets into bed at night and starts in on the things I'm going to do better tomorrow? From exercise to being more patient, tomorrow is always going to go better than today was. I am just so hopeful. This morning however, I it occurred to me is last night's tomorrow. Today's the day! soon as I'm finished here, I am going on a morning walk...:)

Here are the things going on at our house:

Everything and nothing. Kathryn and I went to Walmart yesterday with the three younger kids, she needed a charger for her iPod. As they browsed in the electronics, I meandered over to the fabric section, where I had to restrain myself. I knew if I bought fabric for new living room curtains, I would be cutting them out as soon as we got home, and there are other things going on right now...but I found some really nice Waverly fabrics there, and I have big ideas. If I were rich, I would just hire people to do all of my big ideas, but would that really make me happy? yes, ha, yes.

Our second stop yesterday was the big craft store. My girls had a blast in there! I bought them a five pack of canvasses so they can paint, a few mason jars because they have ideas for them...I bought fall flowers, some feathers for Joseph's activity club (they are going to make teepees in the woods and eat berries and have a fire and be Native Americans). The craft store is WAY TOO MUCH FUN.

Then...we were heading home because Joseph had to have the van to bring some friends from Seattle to the airport...when I remembered I had this really good coupon for twenty dollars off a forty dollar purchase at a clothes store in the same plaza we were in...and it was expiring in we went. Three dollar shirts, even a few for Jonathan, some nice headbands, a dress for Kathryn...all for $25. Nothing for me, but it was fun, and Kathryn enjoyed it. Back into the van and towards home...not even a drink from McDonalds or a coffee, because Joseph had to get those kids to the airport on time...Jonathan said, "This was probably the worst outing I have ever been on." ha, poor Jon. But we'll do things that are more fun for him.

This afternoon two of the girls have dentist appointments. Kathryn can drive now, so she's picking Evelyn up from school and taking her. The puppy goes to the vet on Thursday. I want to go to Kohl's and see if I can find a dress for the wedding, for me. I found one online that I love, but I don't think it will fit me, wah. If I could rewind the days, I would make my lazy arse get out the door every day for that walk, puppy and busy or not.

Yes, I have ideas. But the days are full of those little things...yesterday afternoon, for example, little Lydia came over, because her mama had a twelve hour night shift to work at the hospital. Lydia is all about movement. She likes to explore and toddle around finding little things to eat. She needs two eyes on her at all times. And she's cute, oh is she cute. She talks all sorts of nonsense, then looks at me and gives me the biggest smile, all dimples and shininess. Sunny was better with her this time, she seems to understand that Lydia is little.

For dinner last night, Joseph made two low carb pizzas, crust made of cream cheese and mozzarella with almond flour and eggs. It's pretty good. I made several mini zucchini pizzas, and some buffalo chicken from the leftover crockpot chicken. Kathryn went to a Norwegian lesson, three of the other girls went to dinner with one of their friends, and Emily came to visit. Marge and I looked at dresses online for the little girls... is supposed to start at nine, but I am going to take off for a quick walk.

Monday, September 19, 2016

the monday morning muse...

First of all, time needs to slooow down. The days and weeks add up to years, which fly by...

Anyway. This fine morning, I am attempting to do school with my three young children amidst: keeping the puppies inside while a nice Mennonite man looks at our old 15 passenger van, which is for sale, he was rather surprised when I told him we used it for our sixteen kids and that at one point we didn't even all fit in it...(we had to take Paul's truck, too!). With just taking care of the dogs, feeding and bringing them in and out...

Duke...he won't leave his foot alone, so we are being mean and cone-ing him.

So this morning...I called to cancel the vet appointment I had made last week for Sunny, because Paul wanted to take her to the vet his brother really likes. Then the guy came to look at the van, then I called to make the new appointment and found out they are not taking new patients, even cute little fuzzy ones like Sunny, then Evelyn texted Please Bring My Glasses, she forgot them and was getting a headache because she couldn't see, I made new appointment with original vet, Kathryn brought glasses to Evelyn but needs a new cord for her iPod...Joseph needs to bring friends from Seattle to airport,...just a lot of action here.

And, we're planning the wedding! Even a simple wedding is full of little details. Grandma is buying her dress, which is wonderful! Margaret has tried on a few and can't decide...she has always been so into dresses...she used to draw/sketch designs as a girl, and has always been a girly-girl, dressing so nicely in school. So she is torn between a really traditional gown, and a frillier Cinderella type dress, with those little caplet sleeves that hand off the shoulders....she looks beautiful in both of them, and is very excited about it all, no matter which she chooses. (I told Margaret that if I had ten sisters, I would have them all in my wedding...but she just started a new job and is busy and doesn't want the wedding to be a huge's getting bigger, but it's going to be so much fun!

It's on December 10th, and of course I would like to about thirty pounds?

Anyway. Life is busy. Jonathan was looking up the book value of the van, that's school, right?

Naw, we have things to do, spelling and such.

Oh, did I mention that Ben and Ashley and Anya are coming from Washington state for the wedding?!!! I am SO excited. This makes three trips east for them, in one year, ouch, but I love seeing them...little Anya is so sweet.

I'm hoping Aaron is going to make it (and Riley!),from California, and Sam...will the Army let Samuel take leave for his sister's wedding? The funny thing is that in the past few years, if he wanted to take leave, we would always tease him and tell him to say one of his sisters was getting married...and now one really is! Hopefully he'll get to take leave...there is an inauguration on the horizon, and for the Old Guard, that means practice practice practice.

Two little kittens are running wild...they are going to new homes soon...if I have my way, that is. The kids really really want to orange and white tiger. Which we of course really need...

Sunny with Suri...