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
family

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

surgery day....for sonja

There are a few things I'm thankful for this morning, one is arthroscopic surgery, making it possible for knee surgery to be a One Day outpatient experience. I'm looking for things to be thankful for this fine rainy morning...I was awakened at 6 a.m. by Duke, who also woke me up during the night:( Then Paul couldn't find his other set of truck keys, you know he has to always know where both are, ha, actually the tag for the gym is on the one still in my skirt pocket from last night...then Kathryn was texting from Norway, she just got there and is having a little bit of difficulty settling in...wow, a shotgun shot just rang out really close by...at 7:30 on a rainy morning...hmmm.

Sunny is destroying a pillow...I took it from her twice, she just got it again, and by the time I noticed, she had a large hole in it and was starting to remove all the stuffing. She killed it, ha. Now it's hers.

Yeah, so I tipped my purse over accidentally last night while driving Paul's truck...see, we ran out of kitty chow, so we drove into town, Sonja and I...we also went to visit Paul's mom for a bit...anyway, this morning I was making sure I had what I need for the day, and my wallet wasn't in my purse...then Paul texted me, and yeah, he has it...so, we have to leave earlier than planned, so I can pick it up at his work.

Sunny had fun at the vet yesterday...she hid under my chair. Her rash is possibly a flea allergy...the flea meds recommended by the other vet aren't used by this vet, they're ineffective. well, yeah. So Sunny has a new $58 flea collar...and dang, now I have to buy them for the other two dogs. If all goes well and her rash goes away, she'll be spayed in September.

And I had better get moving...surgery isn't something you can be late for!

Monday, July 24, 2017

and rain and rain and rain...


This is an actual WWII era pram used in France, for resistance work. The bottom panel hid a radio.

This museum, outside of Boston, was so very interesting...the actual dishes Hitler ate from, stuff from his bathroom cabinet, his dog's collar, complete with horrific swasticas, all there on display. Guns and real uniforms, adorning lifelike mannequins. There were yellow stars worn by Jews, documents and letters and General Patton's walking stick.

After walking through and looking at it all, I felt sick inside. How on earth can human beings be so cruel to each other? War is barbaric, and I just can't comprehend it. I feel bad if I don't give the kitty a splash of half and half when I make my morning coffee...or if I raise my voice when I find empty ice cube trays.

And I'm not meaning to make a joke of it. I partly enjoyed the museum, but it did make me feel sick.

Home...ah, home. We've had a few cookouts...summertime meals, burgers and sweet corn, and grilled chicken and salt potatoes, and zucchini from Emily's garden, tossed with yellow squash and onions, with olive oil and lime juice, cooked right in the grill basket. Yumminess.

Kathryn left yesterday. I know she'll be back in a year, and hopefully I'll go visit her this winter in Norway...but, she did take a piece of my heart with her. I love that she's so grown up and independent and can travel internationally all by her lonesome, but part of me fretted and worried. She's been texting me, she survived the 8 hour layover in New York, and then another one in Iceland, and her suitcase ripped, her credit card was denied when she tried to buy train tickets from the Oslo airport, her phone was dying and she couldn't find a charger...and she's almost there now. She's tired and hungry and probably a bit nervous. I want to hug her and take care of her, but...she went and grew up on me.

Our house is quiet today. Mariel so nicely is sharing her vacation with five of her siblings! She had some days off this week, so she took Samuel, Suzanne, Jonathan, Charlotte Claire, and Camille, and headed for Massachusetts, near the beach. They left a bit after eight this morning, I was there making sure they remembered the beach towels and umbrellas, and helping make them some bagels for the road, a coffee for Suze, remember sneakers for the Freedom Trail (in Boston)! Then they left, leaving me in silence. Sonja was still asleep, Joseph busy with is art, Paul at work...the puppies came in, ate brekky, and took naps.

Sonja is up now, and we have things to do today...Sunny is having her first appointment at a new vet. We are switching because this place is cheaper, and she needs to be spayed. She also has a rash, very sensitive skin, almost like a redhead or a pale blonde girl, ha...she might have poison ivy or maybe a reaction to something. So we're taking her in today.

And tomorrow, Sonja has knee surgery. The hospital is supposed to call today to tell us what time.

Sam got up with Duke last night, and lo and behold, Suri had gotten into the kitchen garbage! She KNOWS better, but it must have smelled too yummy for her to resist. He cleaned it up, nice boy that he is, Mr. Sammers...but I had to mop the floor this morning.

Duke...oh Duke, your days are numbered...he won't let anyone sleep...Sam has been taking him into his room every night because he is nice, and knows he can go back to sleep after taking him outside at random times, he knows I can't fall back to sleep...yes, Sam is nice. But Duke...he is feeble, he is old...and wah.

Anyway...time to get a move on...

Friday, July 21, 2017

the good and the bad and the adorable.....

The good: I watched a video this morning of a 12 year old boy with Down's Syndrome, who is obsessed with firefighters...he wants to tour all the fire stations! He was so enthusiastic! One of the firemen was clearly touched by this boy's simple pleasure in helping hold the firehose to put out a staged car fire...his joy blessed those who blessed him. You can't watch this without smiling.

Then the bad...the video where the teenagers from Florida mock a disabled man, as he walks into a pond and drowns. They stand there joking and speculating, while he struggles in the water. One of the boys suggests calling 911, but they don't. They just stand there laughing. They were smoking pot (a harmless drug!), and it was all a big joke.

And the adorable...

way back when I had lots of little kids...Kathryn 11, Evelyn almost 10, Suzanne 8, Sonja 7, Jonathan 5, Charlotte Claire 3, and Camille 20 months...(not pictured: Emily 24, Abigail 22, Benjamin 20, Mariel 19, Joseph 18, Aaron 16, Molly Rose 15, Samuel 13, and Margaret 12)(8 years ago!).

This fine morning, the sun is blazing hot, the air humid and warm, almost 90 degrees and rising...and we are leaving today. Paul is still at the office, has a meeting until 12:30, but I have to leave this room by noon. So I will wait in the foyer for him. We packed up our suitcases last night, so we're ready to roll when he's done.

Our destination: maybe home, maybe first a WWII museum.

One of the sad things about leaving here is knowing that it will be nearly impossible for Paul and I to maintain the closeness we've come to, yet again, on this little vacation. Of course we'll still love each other, and spend time with each other, but evening after evening of time...without the stresses of Real Life impinging...it's been sweet.

It makes me want to just go on a real vacation with him, one where I actually get to spend the whole days with him.

Anyway. I have to vacate my room soon, pack up the laptop and chargers, empty the little refrigerator, and get moving.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

is there actually such a thing as....

TOO MUCH QUIET? ha, no, not yet, anyway.

Paul left this morning after going down to the lobby and buying me a large Starbucks coffee, lots of cream, bit of nutmeg. We ran out of half and half in our little refrigerator, yes, we make our own coffee here in the room...we have a steam pot, and a pour through filter, and some good coffee. The Starbucks only stays open until 9:30 a.m., so a bit after nine I went down and got two more coffees to get me through the day:)

Then...I went for a walk. A long uninterrupted phone conversation with my sister-in-law, ate a few cherries...and soon I'm going down for a swim. I read some homeschooling stuff, finished two novels, and have read more news online than in the last five years put together.

But I am not bored. I don't mind taking leisurely showers, and sitting by the pool just thinking about things, or reading a book.

Because, I know when I get home, things will be going full speed again. The housework and the kids, and the dogs, and the cats....the volunteer work at church, and appointments, grocery shopping and cooking and and and.

Even being here, I am not insulated from dealing with kids...I have called, and texted, and dealt with issues.

So, I ended up having a nice time last evening. We drove through lots of nice neighborhoods to avoid the highway traffic. The houses and yards, wow. The place where the party was held: wow. A very nice place set back from the road, the pool just a dream with a waterfall and lots of natural rock landscaping. There were around 70 people there, and the caterers set up their tables and served...whole lobsters, clams, clam chowder, corn on the cob (we ARE in New England!), grilled chicken, salads, coleslaw, rolls, and yummers - bowls of strawberry shortcake...yes, please.

I am not a seafood girl, but the rest of the bunch really enjoyed digging in...I'm not sure the Europeans had ever had lobster like this, but cracking into those shells was a nice equalizer, you can't eat lobster in a crowd of people with too much dignity. It was quite fun, even though I went for the chicken.

My bathing suit stayed here at the hotel, but with the temperature in the low 90's, and the air saturated with humidity, I did put my feet in the pool. I sort of wished someone would push me in, it was so hot out.

As much as I hate meeting new people, I also love it at the same time. Two girls from Hungary, the French girl, the ladies from Texas...all so nice and pleasant. I talked to a native Bostonian with a fantastic accent, and of course the English guy, who says, "proper", all the time. It's neat to realize that we are all all so different, yet so much alike, us peoples. I ended up really enjoying the evening.

In real life, next week is Sonja's knee surgery, a vet appointment for Suri, and I'm sure we will need a boatload of groceries. Lydia is coming over on Saturday and Sunday, as Mali has to work, and Kathryn is flying out for Norway on Sunday:( (I am hoping and planning to go visit her in Norway for maybe New Year's. I will be scrimping and saving and hoping, ha.)(A year is too long for a girl to go without seeing her mama, right?). Anyway, real life will be busy.

For now, ahh, I am relaxed. I am going to mosey down to the pool now....

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

not my stories to tell....

Well, have you ever heard the expression, "My business, your business, and everybody else's business..."? Well...when I sit here and write, I have to decide what is MY story, and who it would affect if I tell it. Yesterday, I sat and wrote from the heart, then realized later in the day that that isn't MY story to tell.

I have gotten, believe it or not, a few messages here and there through the years about reality t.v., and I did not respond. Can you imagine exposing your kids' lives like that? Airing your troubles and your dirty laundry, and ha, that laundry mountain that was in the laundry room doorway for years? I feel bad enough sometimes for this blog. One of my sons still simmers about an incident years ago when I described a situation wherein he needed a belt, so we bought one at the dollar store. Now personally, I see no problem with this story. But when you are a teenage boy, it can be social suicide.

So I write, and I erase, and I wonder...and sometimes I think I have no business writing about our family at all.

But this week, I am here in Boston, and oh how nice it is! When Paul suggested I come with him for one of the weeks he would be here, it was a few months back, and I didn't hesitate to accept. But as the days went by, I wondered if I were doing the right thing...a week of not being there...a week in the summertime...a week of not getting anything done around the house...a week without the puppies...

But here I am. And guess what? It's nice. Even though Paul works all day, we have our evenings, and it's fun. It's fun to just deal with US. Last evening, our plans got changed, and we ended up just by ourselves.

And home..they're fine! Joseph is there, he is 26...Kathryn is 19, and had her last day of work on Monday, because she is going to Norway for a year, next week. That's another regret for me, not to be with her for these days...but, she is doing fun things with the younger ones. And they are fine. Last evening, Sonja asked me for my vanilla cake recipe...:)

I have heard rumors that the kids LIKE when mom and dad are gone, imagine that.

Today, we have plans to go to the home of the woman who runs the factory...we are leaving early, to spend a good part of the day and evening there. Paul said we can bring our bathing suits...and I asked, "Is there a pool?" He loves when I ask smart questions. But the REAL question is this: How can I lose 50 pounds in the next three hours? Or this: Do I sweat in the 92 degree heat, and pretend like I'm fine, or do I put on the suit...and die a little? Fat-shaming...the last frontier of allowable offenses in our politically correct world. Just don't eat so much, think the skinny ones. Maybe they think perhaps we don't realize we are fat. That we're fine with it, even. Maybe they're wondering why on earth we would eat a cookie, when for crying out loud, we're fat!

Or maybe...no one thinks any of this at all, and it's just my own battle.

In any case, I do not think I am ready to put on the suit...my suit, by the way, looks like a dress. One of my daughters actually said to me when I came out in it, in Florida, "Oh, nice dress, Mom!"

I haven't worn a bikini since I was a teenager. And ha, I thought I was fat then, at 125 pounds.

But anyway. Today, I am going for a walk, then coming back for a swim...poor me, all by my lonesome.

I will walk, and think about things. About being content, about not caring what people think of me. I don't really care, but then...I find that I do. I wonder why I put all this out here, for the world to read. Maybe because it's true. Maybe it will help someone else feel they're not alone.

I do know what matters in life, but that doesn't mean I magically feel no insecurity. I live to please God, and not man, yet...there is so much in me that quakes at the thought of spilling a drink down me (and shh, I dropped green stuff on my shirt at dinner the other night...)...in theory, who cares? In reality....I just want to stay home, ha. But out of my comfort zone is good for me.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

not giving up....just postponing....


This is me, relaxed. Super, wonderfully relaxed. So relaxed that the former me, the one with the nursing baby and toddlers and kindergartner and and and...actually HATES the relaxed me, she is so jealous.

Make no mistake, I am not just taking these days for granted. I, the Queen of Not Being Able To Think Two Thoughts Without Interruption, have had two entire days...all.by.myself.

Well, yesterday started with high hopes and ambitions.
But this is the lady who stormed right past me, pushing her baby in an ugly baby jogger (sorry, but I despise 3-wheeled strollers...I knew someone who had one and it was tippy. And they-re ugly. But hey, this young mama blew right by me and put me to shame, so I forgive her poor choice in strollers...and yeah, I guess it works for her, so whatever.)

(you can barely see her in this picture, she went by me so fast!)

Anyway. I walked down the road yesterday...for a while...then I decided to turn around. It was hot out, the road had no sidewalk, and...I just decided to turn around. I went back to the hotel, and headed straight for...coffee. The breakfast place had just stopped serving, but the nice lady gave me coffee anyway...she said she had just closed the drawer, but honestly, she said, it's okay for me to just have a cup...:) I don't say no to a large Starbucks, and be quiet Aaron, it is good.

I took my coffee and headed to the pool...I changed into my suit, sat by the pool and sipped my coffee, swam for half an hour, sat some more in a nice comfy lounge chair...then went up to my room and read a book.

Paul texted me that we were going out to dinner with his co-workers, to an Italian place. Shh, I did not google the place while on the phone with my sister. I did not study the menu ahead of time and decide to just get a margarita and dessert...of course when I was at the actual restaurant, I could not do this. A very thin woman would get away with it, but I couldn't do it. So I ordered this dish with chicken, sauteed with made-fresh-daily sausage, tomatoes, onions, and fresh broccoli, in a yummy sauce, over fresh made pasta...oh dear, homemade pasta...it was heavenly. Now, I do not eat pasta anymore. But now that I have had this, I want more, and not the boxed stuff, either. I couldn't bring the leftovers with me, or I would have eaten them today... Anyway. About dessert. Every person at the table groaned and said a resounding NO to dessert. Again, a very thin woman might have laughed daintily and withstood the mild teasing, and ordered a slice of peanut butter pie on a chocolate crust, or even a light scoop of peach gelato. Or maybe the tiramisu. My sister and I agreed that skipping the food and having dessert would be best, but no sir, I could not humiliate myself.

Today, I decided against trying the beach adventure again...because of forecasted thunderstorms. I went for a little walk, then swam for half an hour...I MADE myself exercise and swim in that pool instead of just float around...:)

Then I dried off, lounged in the chair, and read...poor me, all by my lonesome.


I talked to my son Benjamin on the phone today for almost two hours. If you are his boss and reading this, of course he was working at the same time!! He didn't know I was in Boston until like the second hour of our conversation...he said, "Oh, I wondered why you had so much time to talk without having to leave to drive anyone anywhere!"

He is moving back to New York!!!!! I am so beyond thrilled about this. I can't even put it into words. You know when teenage girls say, "I can't even!" Well, I can't even. Benjamin...my dear Ben. I don't have favorites, of course I don't, shh, they're all my favorites,,,



Anyway. God is good.

Tonight, Paul and I are going out again, but I am not entirely certain where...I think to his friend's house, a guy he works with who I was able to meet when we went to France. I don't know how many co-workers are going. I wish I wasn't so socially awkward. I love people, but I get rather tongue tied....blah.

Monday, July 17, 2017

here in Boston....

Well, we all know I am married to a crazy guy. You know, the healthy type. He pours his bottled water into his metal water bottle, because it's not good to drink out of plastic, does 24 hour fasts, eats burgers without the buns, (which I also do). So we're sort of on the same page. I mean, here's my yesterday's breakfast/lunch...

Ezekial toast with crunchy almond butter and fresh picked raspberries from the back yard.

Anyway. Paul woke up early this fine morning, worked out, then took a cold shower before making his coffee with coconut oil, which may well be all he consumes until dinner time. For dinner, he either goes to the grocery store for veggies and some sort of protein, or goes to McDonalds, orders a salad and a few burgers, and...eats them without the buns.

So he's not really crazy....

And anyway...here I am in Boston...he is working, right down the road...and I have the day stretched before me. I do not have a vehicle because the Check Engine light went on, on the truck, on Saturday...we didn't feel safe driving it the six or so hours from central New York to here. I can't drive the rental car he rents through work. We could rent a car for me, but I want to see how I manage without one. There IS tons of traffic here, and yeah, I don't like traffic.

So...this fine day, I am heading out on a little adventure...walking to a local lake/beach. This seems easy enough for a normal person. But I get hot. ha. And it's supposed to be in the high eighties today, like 86. And I have a blister on my toe still, so my Birkenstocks are a no-go, it has to be my sneakers. And I'm not big on wearing shorts in public so it's a jean skirt. And I forgot my beach towel, and my chair is too heavy to lug a few miles...and ouch, a few miles back, too. Have you ever seen a heavy middle aged lady heave herself daintily down on a towel at the beach, without showing "everything she owns", as my mother would put it? If I had my kids with me, I would ask them to please twirl around a little bit over there, and create a large distraction, ha. And then the whole time I'm relaxing, I'll be wondering how in the "H" I am going to get back up. Oh, the joys of having extra padding.

But there is a light at the end of the tunnel, it's called, "There Is A Dunkin Right Next To The Beach". Yes indeed there is. I am already deciding on an iced coffee when I get there, wiping the sweat from my forehead before it drips into my eyes.

Paul and I drove there last evening, to scope it out. I didn't squeal out loud when I saw the Dunkin, I played it cool.

See, Paul doesn't think it will be "too bad a walk". ha. Ha ha ha. It will be suffering and torture, and when I get there, I will feel like I have climbed Everest. Until I start remembering I have to walk all the way back.

But, there will be sunshine on the beach, and prime people watching, and fresh air...I can't just stay in this room all day, the pool IS open here, but it's indoors. There's no place to sit outside at this hotel, it's in a huge parking lot surrounded by other huge parking lots with other hotels people can't sit outside of, and corporations and companies and other exciting places.

When I get home, things will be moving along swiftly, as per usual...Sunny has a vet appointment on Monday, Sonja has her surgery on Tuesday, and so on. Our church summer conference is coming up the first week in August, and we will be staying in our camper. I have begged and bribed the kids to clean it this week:)

But for now...for this week...although I miss the kids and the dogs...I don't miss sweeping the floors and doing laundry. I am happy to have a break. I have my food for the day: some ready cooked bacon, some sliced cucumber, a bag of whole carrots, almonds, cashews, and a pear. I won't even look at the donuts when I get my iced coffee...

Now I just have to get my lazy rear end up and going...all by my lonesome....to the beach.