summer 2011

summer 2011

Paul and I, all 16 kids and Ashley, Benjamin's wife...Christmas 2012

Paul and I, all 16 kids and Ashley, Benjamin's wife...Christmas 2012

Thursday, October 19, 2017

why, it's almost christmas!!!

66 days 'til Christmas Eve! This year, the Christmas season should be easy-peasy compared to last year, when we had a wedding for Margaret and Adrian a few weeks before Christmas. This year, we will have a new baby around, Ben and Ashley are expecting any day now. This year, Sunny is far as potty goes anyway.

Today, we have two year old Lydia here for the day, my second granddaughter, Mali's little girl. Anne is coming in half an hour. I have been up for two hours, because SOMEONE had to clean up the mess from the bad doggies...they got into the garbage...again. So sweeping and mopping and cleaning up...I had put pepper on the rim of the can, but they just sneezed right through it and got to the snacks in there.

I didn't get out for my walk, because by the time I got finished cleaning up, it was almost time for Miss Lyd to arrive.

We are planning a playground/park outing today. We are having the most fantastic streak of nice weather here in the northeast...I enjoy clicking on the weather forecast and seeing all those full suns lined up in a row, no rain expected until next Monday! Warm sunny days!

Lydia likes to get lots of toys. She has pretend food and dishes out all over, now she wants to play dollhouse. She's as happy as can be...she's also having some raisin toast, made by Camille. Joseph is putting on a pot of coffee, and Jonathan just brought Sunny in from tiring her out. Sunny has so much energy in the morning, she prowls around looking for things to chew on, but when Jon takes her out and shoots the airsoft gun, she goes crazy chasing the pellets. She sees that gun and goes nuts. It tires her completely out to run around like that. And a tired dog is mostly a good dog.

Mr. Jonathan with Sunny and one of the kittens...raising kittens with Labradors is way too precious. The dogs are so gentle with the kitties. Sunny absolutely loves them. She puts her nose down and lets them bat at her and tries to play with them, follows them around so curiously, but she's a gentle giant with them. Suri tries to ignore them, but will only lick them or sigh and lay her head down, and let them climb all over her. The kittens are not afraid of the dogs at all, either.

Anyway...things to do, kids to take care of....:)

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

and yeah, I was wrong....

As pointed out in a few comments from kind readers from Ireland, they DO flush their toilet paper. I misunderstood a sign, but also a coffee shop we went to featured a can next to the commode, full of used t.p. But who knows, maybe lots of people were crying and wiped their eyes, or had colds. Live and learn, and I just wanted to apologize for my mistake.

The older you get, the more you realize that things you felt so strongly about long ago aren't so important, and that you may even have been wrong about some things, or even a lot of things. So if you're thinking clearly, you pretty much know that if you feel strongly about something, you may well be wrong, based on what you've learned in life. So it's easier to see the other side of issues, easier to realize that there is more than one way to skin a cat. This is useful when one is a grandparent, this acknowledgement that I am not the Queen of Doing Everything Right. We tend to judge and measure all according to how we think things should be...

My little friend Anne is on her way over. I swept and mopped the floors this morning, did some laundry, and went on my walk. I have been waking up at 5:00 a.m.! It's still dark then, and this morning, very chilly. It was 33 when I got home from the walk, frost on the pumpkins for sure! Now it's cozy in here with the hot coffee, pumpkin spice, and the little fireplace on. The girls joggle each other for a good spot in front of it, Char has it right now. They have to fight with the dogs and cats for that space, too, ha. to bring Anne in!

Monday, October 16, 2017

no time to blog? what?!

But I did walk this morning!

Yesterday, we had a birthday party! Little Miss Anya Jade turned four years old! Here she is with Ben and Ashley, her papa and her mama....

Ashley is due with baby #2 next week, but she still managed to bring over the whole party...chips and dip and veggies and drinks and hot dogs and mac and cheese...and homemade cannoli dip!!!

Isn't that puppy cute? It's Margaret and Adrian's, a Boxador. They're having a baby in March, but now they have a puppy and a dog too...:)

This fine morning, I had to drive Samuel to the airport. He received a subpoena to testify in a trial against a former sergeant in the Army who is accused of abuse of authority, abuse of the soldiers. He has to meet with the prosecutor, and has been warned that the defense will likely try to paint a picture of the soldiers who are testifying against the sergeant as trying to get revenge, and it might be very uncomfortable.

Margaret had the day off of work today, so she came over for a visit with her new puppy. Joseph agreed to puppysit so we could go out and off to Target! I found some Christmas presents, and a pair of leggings for Camille. We were hungry and tempted to go somewhere for lunch, but decided to just come home and have a nice dinner. Camille cut tomatoes, Evelyn cut peppers, we had taco salad with black olives and that yucky jarred melty cheese (no, I do not eat it.). Ben and Ashley came for dinner too.

Life with kittens and puppies and small children visiting is fun, and busy. Tomorrow, baby Anne is coming over for the day. I will be on call for when Ashley has her baby, I will watch Anya. I hope it's not during the night, but if it is, it is, I am very excited to meet this new grandchild, our third grandchild, third granddaughter!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

the west coast of Ireland...

The Wild Atlantic Way...

We are staying at a little cottage up a narrow windy road, with stone walls and hedges, and cows, and a view of the sea....

This isn't the cottage but it's on the road to the cottage.

We may or may not have stopped in at a chocolate shop...

Fish and Chips!

Chips...they're just fries.

Coffee in Galway...

Back at the cozy cottage (don't you love the stairway?) We spent the day in the city...walking around, having coffee, then lunch, then an afternoon Guinness...which is not my normal, but hey, when in Ireland...

We came back here as the rain started. The little fireplace warmed it up, and we may or may not have a bag of pastries...I made some coffee, and here we are, almost packed to leave tomorrow to drive back across the green isle, all the way to Dublin to make our way back home.

Yesterday, we went to the Cliffs of Moher...

It was windy up there! And stairs! I walked up so many stairs! I'm glad I've been going on my walks every morning, so it wasn't so bad. It was so lovely...

After arriving at our cottage yesterday, after a long day of winding narrow roads, and beautiful views, we were hungry. We drove back down the lane to this place:

Right on the water!

A local brew from down the road...

A local cider....

Slow roasted beef and gravy over potatoes, with veggies on the was just the thing after a long day, and on a chilly night.

This trip has been interesting. It's been and adventure taking double decker buses in Dublin, and for Mirielle to drive on the wrong side of the road. We had to get used to the alarm system in the first apartment we stayed at, and figure out the shower, and how to lock the door, and how to start the car (there's a trick to it, we almost had to call roadside assistance but Mirielle figured it out!). We enjoyed the city today, but it was pretty touristy.

Things are different here. They don't flush toilet paper, and the sink spigots in the bathrooms, the taps, are usually two separate units, as if you want either cold water or hot water, and not WARM water. Seriously. Coffee, regular yummy not to be found. It's espresso. With...milk. Good thing we know to bring our own bag of Starbucks, some filters, and the pour through filter thing-y, and to buy the cream at the grocery store. The coffee in the shops is okay, but not just a real cup of coffee. But the people are friendly and fun, and we have had too many good laughs. Now, I'm tired, and we need to get ready for our last epic adventure...driving back across the country...:)

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

a day in Dublin....

The bus stop is right across from our apartment, so we kept the car parked and took the bus today, the double decker, and yes we sat on the top floor.

The first bus took us into the city, then we had to walk a few blocks and get on a different bus, to go to the Guinness factory tour. Lots of walking, and we found it.

We walked over a bridge and saw the River Liffey.

At the factory...

We learned the proper way to pour.

We stopped at a pub in Dublin for some late lunch...the beer was a local brew on tap, we finished the pints but not the pizza.

We don't even feel like having any now, but this seemed like a good idea when we were in Tesco.

All comfy cozy back at our little apartment, my feet up on the coffee table...reflecting on the day. It was confusing to figure out where we were going, but it was adventurous and the Guinness factory storehouse was interesting. The best part was pouring our own pint at the end, then drinking it on the 7th floor, with a view of the whole city.

The whole country of Ireland only has 4.7 million people. New York state has 19 million something, even without New York City, New York has 11 million. It is very much a Catholic country, and the population is not racially diverse at all, 94 % white. The police here do not carry guns. Pepper spray and batons only.

Tomorrow we will leave the fair waterside apartment and say goodbye to Dublin, as we drive across the entire country (ha, 3 and a half hours!), to the Cliffs of Moher, then up to Galway on the west we need to pack.

Monday, October 9, 2017

here in ireland...oh dear!

Our airplane selfie. The plane ride was...horrid. Yeah, horrid. We wanted to sleep, and the cabin crew wanted to serve food...all food and beverages were for purchase, not even water was free on this flight. We had brought our own, so we were fine, just wanted to sleep. Well. Wrinkling and crinkling of wrappers and papers. The guy across the aisle from me alternated snoring, then waking up and unscrewing his soda pop bottle, which hissed loudly. The lady in the row behind us sniffed. Rhythmically. Sniffed. The guy behind me stretched his legs out of under my seat, slamming his footsies into the back of my legs, waking me up with the jolts. The overhead screens flickered, and people walked down the aisle, bumping into the seats. So it wasn't a night for sleep. But it was still fun. We laughed our heads off about how Mali would have been with the sniffing. She detests sniffing.

Morning came, and we were in Dublin. We walked a few miles through the airport to immigration, where we were greeted with: Mirielle, is it true you had issues and were denied entry to the U.K. a few years back? Oh, the fun and games of standing there after taking 999 naps on the plane all night, wanting coffee and having to use the bathroom...this Irish dude was serious. He wasn't going to just let us into his country if we were going to try to find jobs and stay! No sir. He needed proof of Mirielle's employment, and lots of other details. When he finally stamped those passports and we were on our way to the luggage carels, we thought our trials were over. uh-hum.

The rental car. Can you say Driving on the WRONG side of the road? Well, we didn't even get to that point yet when our gps/wi-fi device wouldn't work. Mare had to go back in and get the correct password. Then...we drove away in that spiffy little rental car, her driving correctly on the wrong side of the road, but there was a beeping! Incessant beeping! We were buckled, it was in drive, the lights were on...but it wouldn't stop. We turned around and drove right back to that rental place got out of the car...the tire was smoking! The guy thought we were rather funny, he took the car for a spin, and declared, "Thar's obsolutely nothing wrong with this carr." But, he got us a different on anyway. We drove away in that, and it was also beeping like mad...ooops, emergency brake. ha.


We tried some fish and chips, and yeah, chips are just french fries.

We shared one, and it was still too much food.

We just couldn't go to Starbucks in Ireland! least it is in a castle ruins, or church ruins...

Then we went for coffee...

Then we walked around Howth...

We went to a store, Lidl, to get some bread...we chose pumpkin seed bread, and some yummy Irish butter...and some raspberry jam, and real Irish cream for the coffee.

This is our front window view from our little apartment...the Irish Sea!

After we settled in a bit, brewed some coffee, and unpacked, we headed to the village on foot, in search of a pub. We went to an old one, highly reccommended...I walked in first, and it was Nary a lady in sight. I turned right back around, smacking pretty much into we tried the little place across the street. I don't know what's wrong with me, but I walked into that place and explained that we were from out of town, and wanted to go to a pub, but the place across the street was full of men! They offered the meal menu, but I said we only wanted a beer. Mirielle had a glass of wine, I had one beer on tap. It was good...but with the jet lag, and not much to eat...oh dear me. It was more than enough. We walked back here, and had toast...the pumpkin seed bread...mmm.

It's not very late, but we are tired and trying to figure out the bus schedule...we are hitting the Guinness Storehouse tomorrow and don't want to drive in the Dublin traffic....

Sunday, October 8, 2017

if I could put time in a bottle...

Remember that song? Today is a day to go into the bottle, to save up for the middle of winter. It's absolutely deliciously gorgeous out there, some sun, some clouds, 72 degrees...the wind is rustling the trees, lulling me to sleep here in my quiet house. Yes, I said QUIET house. Now if you've been reading my blog, you already know that as the mom of sixteen kids, I have had a noisy house for years...and years...and years. So this new quiet thing is still yummy.

It's still rarely quiet. With two grandchildren visiting frequently, and babysitting one year old Anne, and having three homeschoolers, plus six other kids living here, adult kids who visit and come for dinner, the house is still hectic.

But today, after sweeping and washing dishes and cleaning up, and helping kids out the door with daddy to go to church, where they will eat lunch together after, I finished up my packing, and ha, here I sit. I still need to take a shower and remember my toothbrush and phone charger, and to pack up this nice little chromebook, so I can blog in Ireland, of course...but I like to wait until the last minute then hurry up.

You all know what today is, right? Besides being Sunday, October 8, it is the day we depart for Ireland. I cannot. believe. it.

Mirielle and I are sharing a checked bag, then each bringing smaller carry-on bags. We both tend to be over-packers, but she wins, she had FOUR toothbrushes packed. Four. But she realized that was ridiculous, so she took one out. I can't help it, I keep laughing about it. If I don't remember to grab my toothbrush last minute, one of those is going to be for me, and she'll be all justified in bringing so many, but also lamenting that she only has one extra. It's too funny.

We are bringing a bag of Starbucks coffee, and some of those miniature half and half things so we can have our morning coffee. Also the Melita pourover filter in case there is no coffee pot, and of course coffee filters. And bars: Quest bars and Balance bars, and no I am not getting paid to say that. We have emergency rations consisting of small packets of three varieties of M&M's. We have wipes and hand sanitizer and any over-the-counter meds you can think of, times two. Band-aids? Check. Boots. Sneakers. Sandals. She brought flip-flops for the shower. Of course she did.

Last evening I went online and purchased the tickets to tour the Guinness Storehouse! We have already researched where to park, she screenshot them and has them on her phone. We are going to the village of Howth, to do some cliff walking, hope I don't huff and puff myself to death. To say that I am excited about this trip is putting it mildly. One of the very best parts is spending time with Mirielle. You know, having eleven daughters is more blessing than one person deserves as it is. But the fact that I get along well with all of them, and enjoy spending time with each of them is unreal. I am not bragging, honest I'm not. And also can I mention that my daughter-in-law Ashley is my friend too? I love her more and more as time goes on. It reminds me once again of the parable of the man with 100 sheep, he lost ONE and was upset, he left the other 99 to find it. It IS possible to love so many kids, the 5 boys as well, each with all of my heart. I haven't spent much time with Emily lately because she is finishing up her Master's degree while still working full time. She is extremely busy and I know she misses us too, and when she graduates in the spring, we are going to have the biggest party! Anyway. I miss them when I don't see them often. Kathryn is in California, and ouch, I miss her. And seeing Ben and Ashley so often hasn't gotten old. They came over for dinner last evening with Anya, and I LOVE it. She says, "Grandma, Grandma...!", and I realize that she's talking to ME. I am GRANDMA. :)

(Mirielle is second from left in back, between Evelyn and Mali Rose)

I win Off On A Tangent!

My point was that spending time with Mirielle is one of the best parts of this trip. We are good at adventuring together, as we drove across the country to California a while back. In January! Riley is still teasing us that we brought a snow shovel. And since we drove out there and flew back, we left our supply of emergency snacks there: it filled up a whole cupboard. Protein/granola bars, by the dozen, I kid you not. Seeds. Cashews. Almonds. And water, oh the water we had in that car. We could have survived for a month. But over-packing aside, Mirielle is a great travelling companion. She is level-headed, but also open to drinking an Irish beer. I can't wait for her to drive on the "wrong" side of the road, as we are renting a car. It'll be the first pic. :)

I should go take my shower and get ready. Mirielle will come over all ready to go and I'll be sitting here in my raggedy Adidas capris with my messy hair, feet up, sipping coffee, and then I'll certainly forget to grab my toothbrush...

And don't worry, I am going to take pictures!