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

Sunday, June 19, 2016


Early in the morning at the cabin, only the sound of the water lapping against the dock. Paul is out fishing, but no one else is up yet.

It's nice for me to see Paul enjoying himself so much. We have his brother's boat for the week, which belonged to their dad, and it's special for Paul to use it. When we got here yesterday, with the two little girls, after unloading and putting away the cold stuff, we went for a ride down the lake. He and Charlotte Claire fished while Cam and I stayed out of their way and hoped they would catch something. They didn't. But they have caught a few little sunnies from the dock.

Today, lots of kids will be coming up, and it won't be so quiet anymore, but it will be a joyful noise, at least to this mama's ears. My grown-up kids have grown up into such nice adults, they're my friends, ha. I am a very lucky girl.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

cabins in the woods!!!! bye!!!

Taking a break from the packing, having a light beer with lime...on the deck, while grilling steak, with Sam. :)

Yes, that is a boat in our yard! It's Paul's brother's boat, and we are borrowing it for our trip to the woods. Paul is beside himself with happiness, he has always loved going out on the boat. I have good memories of accompanying his dad out on fishing expeditions, way back when. Anyway, he has been sorting his fishing lures and fishing poles and getting everything ready, while I pack everything else, ha.

This isn't packing, this is filling the back of the van with bags of groceries, ha. We still have all the fridge and freezer stuff to put in the coolers, and then there is bedding, and towels, and and and.

The dogs are going on vacation too, to Paul's other brother's house. Duke, poor Duke...he's old, his nails are too long, I pondered bringing him in to get them trimmed, but the old guy doesn't leave the deck but a few times a day, everything is a chore when you're an old dog...

Anyway. We are leaving in a few hours, so I thought I would take a few minutes to say goodbye, for now, I'm not sure if I will be blogging there or not....

Friday, June 17, 2016

tomorrow we we can say that tomorrow we're going...!

That was the chant of the smallest child yesterday...when she wakes up this morning, she knows that tomorrow we are going to the cabin in the woods. We'll be leaving as if we are a small family, Paul driving the truck towing the boat, with Charlotte Claire as co-pilot, and the two dogs in the back seat...they are going to visit his brother for the week, because unfortunately, no pets are allowed at the camp.

I will be driving the old minivan, the one with no air conditioning, with Miss Camille as my companion. I am leaving the nicer van with A.C. for the kids to drive up on Sunday, after their youth conference is over, because there are more of them and it gets hot in the back of the old van.

So for one afternoon, we will be like a small family, except for the sheer volume of stuff we are dragging with us...

By Monday evening, the camp will be full to the rafters with the lot of us.

Today, I will do lots of last minute packing, maybe take Char for a hair cut, stop at the post office, fill the van with gas, get air in that one tire that seems to lose air.

Our pool is finally getting there, you know, when the pool gets clean and clear and you just want to jump in when you look at it...and we are leaving for vacation. Because of the cottonwood trees making it snow cotton, we can't leave the filter running unless someone is cleaning the filter basket every hour or so, or the motor strains, so wah.

In the midst of the hurrying and scurrying to get ready for camp, I am working on being conscious that these days are my life...and to sit and gather my wits, and enjoy the days, enjoy the time with Sam home.

Yesterday Evelyn and I did some big shopping, phew. We started at Target, to get Jonathan sneakers and jeans. You know how that goes, we got a few more things too.

Then Price Chopper...the girl at the register was astounded at how much we were buying...then we went to BJ's and bought more. Chicken and burgers and potatoes and veggies and fruits and muffins and nuts and popcorn and cheese and pepperoni and bacon and eggs and coffee and lots of half and half....

I drove Evelyn to school this morning for her tests, after doing lots of dishes and cleaning up the kitchen. The kids do help, but when so many people live in one house, the mess happens fast. Yesterday I washed Jon's clothes and packed them, and helped the little girls pack theirs. My stuff is mostly packed, and the other kids take care of their own stuff now. I have a stack of towels and sheets ready to go, and things like bandaids and medicines I hope we don't need.

Mali might be coming for a visit today with baby Lydia, Sam really wants to see her. I'm not sure what else is going on, but it will be a good day.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

don't forget to live life!!!

We set out for the berry patch yesterday, me protesting that I had too much to do, but my nice kids wanted me along. The berries weren't ripe yet, so we went out for ice cream...

Cupcakes for the graduation party...

And now I am going to talk to my's so nice today, I will live life now and write about life later...ha.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

who in their right mind....?

Would schedule a graduation party...on a Wednesday...three days before leaving for a week in a cabin?

A crazy woman, that's who.

Never mind that I have towels to gather and wash, clothes to pack, meals to plan, shop for, and pack...that is all on hold until tomorrow. Today, we are going to the berry patch down the road for strawberries...

I made lots of cupcakes last night, with the help of Charlotte Claire and Camille. This is sometimes harder than just doing it myself, but it makes it fun. I didn't have enough cocoa powder, so I substituted a can of chocolate sweetened condensed milk for the two cups of milk, adding a splash of half and half in to make up for the other two ounces, as the can was 14 ounces. Fuzzy math. I also added two cups of boiling just brewed coffee instead of the water the recipe called for, and oh dear they are good. They aren't dense and chocolate-y like the ones I usually make, but they'll do.

I won't list the things I have to get done today, but believe me, it's enough.

The things I have to do are running through my head, and when I finally fell asleep last night, the newsreel of items I need for the camp, Jon's first youth conference weekend (does he have enough clean clothes? And he lost the only pair of sneakers he owns, left them in his friend's van....).

This fine morning, I drove Suzanne to school for a Living Environment Regents, then welcomed Davian. I had coffee with my son Samuel (yay, Sam's home!!!!!), then made French Toast and eggs for breakfast. I am at the point now where I KNOW I have tons of stuff to do, but am procrastinating starting in on it.

Maybe I'll send the kids to the berry patch with money and stay home and do sit here, ha.

Yesterday after picking Ev up from school, Suzanne and I, and Evelyn, went to Aldi for some fruit, eggs, salad stuff...then we went to the fabric store, not for fabric, but for one of those cool coloring books for adults, and new markers, for the cabin in the woods.

Sam went to the school to pick Suzanne up from her test, and now they're bye for now.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

life happens...

Sam was supposed to be here this fine morning, all hopped up on coffee from his long drive through the night from Washington, D.C. But when he went to sign out last night, at a few minutes after midnight, his leave packet was lost. There was not a thing he could do. So he went to bed. This morning, it was found, and he's getting on the road right about now. I told him that God must have thought he needed to find some irritation in himself, and he said, "ha ha, Ben told me the same thing."

Life happens. Day in, day out, things don't go the way they are supposed to go. Flipping out about it isn't going to help, but knowing for certain that God causes all things to work together for the good for those who love him is a help.

Now when these horrible things happen like the shootings in Orlando, I have no answers. I cried, when I first heard. I cried when I read the texts from the young man hiding, texting, "Mommy, I am going to die." It breaks my heart. It's just awful and sad.

There is a lot of sadness in this world, things I can't do anything about. But the things I can work on are the little things in my life that come along, chances to live what I believe.

So yesterday...we went to the doctor...and Camille got her boot off!

We're happy! She has to take it easy. The doctor said she isn't allowed to run around or beat anybody up yet, but she can swim, which is excellent news, as we are going to the cabin in the woods, in four days!!!

After our appointment, the whole slew of us filed out of the waiting room...Evelyn, who had a half day of school, Kathryn, Jonathan, Char, Cam, and Davian (Davian didn't want to leave yet, he wasn't done reading his magazine). We had to go to the grocery store, with Cam hobbling around saying how "weird" her foot felt, Jon asking if we really needed so much stuff, the little girls guilting me into buying them those cute little miniature pies, Kathryn helping Davian pick out some bubbles...two carts full of stuff...because tomorrow night, we are having a graduation party for Kathryn with the church youth group, and because Sam is going to be here, and he'll want to see all of his friends...

It's crazy to have a party in the midst of packing. Simply crazy. Packing is just on the back burner, and I'll resume Thursday, as I also do all the shopping for next week. I have to compartmentalize things, and just deal with cleaning up the house and planning for tomorrow. I have to bake a cake, marinade the meat, clean off the grill, and don't get me started about cleaning up for company...our kitchen table is the packing dumping place, and it all has to be moved now.

But here I sit, ha.

I drove Evelyn to school this morning for a New York state regents exam and have to pick her up in a few hours.

The floors have been swept, laundry hung up and more put in the washer, and the living room straightened up. The pool filter is on, the basket cleaned out, and I took the dogs out and fed and watered them.

But anyway. After our grocery shopping expedition yesterday, it was time to take the cats in to the small city for their rabies immunizations...the dogs are still good until next year. Of course Old Kitty was no where to be found. We looked and looked, but he didn't show up until after we were resignedly headed on our way with just Kettler kitty.

The line for shots was all the way to the sidewalk, probably 40 dogs and maybe 40 cats there. The dogs were all tugging and barking and sniffing, well most of them. There was one huge fat lab, as calm as she could be. Our own kitty was stressed out, she just watched everything from the carrier.

Charlotte Claire liked carrying the kitty carrier, but once the buckle on the strap came undone, and down went kitty, carrier and all. oops. It was a slow fall though, slipped through her hands as she tried to catch it, so she slowed it down to a gentle THUNK. took a few hours, then we were home again. I stopped and got the kids ice cream on the way home because they had been so good and helpful...

Home. I hadn't had dinner, and opted out of an ice cream cone, although I did end up finishing Char's, couldn't waste it, ha. I made a few salads with chicken on them, and we had an eight o'clock supper...Joseph and the other kids were at soccer, and Paul had eaten all by himself. Crazy days.

After dinner, I decided to get a start on cleaning up for company, so I vacuumed the couches, between the cushions, then the stairs and foyer, and here and I put the vacuum cleaner away, I smelled something horrible...the little girls smelled it too, so we started frantically searching for a cat poop...but oh no, it was Suri! Bad dog! She had rolled in something! Oh disgusting! I had to give her a bath, and I had just sanitized the tub! Camille had just finished wiping down the leather couch, which stinky Suri was lying on. rrr. So into the tub she went. By the time she shook herself off all the way from the bathroom through the kitchen on the way out to the deck, we had lots of water to wipe up. Finally I got to sit down and put my feet up, at nine o'clock, after throwing a whole 'nother load of towels in the dryer from cleaning up the mess.

But Suri is glossy and sweet smelling. I tried to lure Duke into the bathroom for a bath after Suri already totally messed it up, but he wasn't falling for it, no way no how, even when I told him, "Treat! Treat!" He just sighed, and put his head on his paws.

And I wasn't in the mood to drag his butt in there.

This morning, I am thankful for coffee, as I have been awake since 0-dark-thirty, as Emily likes to say. I am thankful that I am going to be with my family next week. Aaron is flying in to Boston Saturday morning and driving up to the camp. I am like a little kid at Christmas....

Monday, June 13, 2016

being the mom....

I wish I were one of my kids, instead of the mom, sometimes. I remember when I was a kid, and my mother would make pancakes in her iron frying pan. She made huge pancakes, none of the cute little ones that I make for my own kids. Each one was as big as the pan, and we each had one, often struggling to finish it. She stood at the stove, frying them up, and we ate them fresh from the pan, as they were done. The last one was for her, she sat and at it as we were finishing up. She was always last. When I had kids, and I made them pancakes, I stacked them up on platters and had them wait, so we could all eat together. But as I stood at the stove, I realized what "being the mom" is.

It's seeing what needs to be done, and recruiting help to do it.

It's always having things to do.

It's making sure things get done.

It's encouraging, forcing, cajoling, and to do things they don't always want to do.

It's getting out of bed in the morning and forgetting my own problems, as I focus on what the kids need for the day.

It's spending hours on my knees (literally and figuratively) praying for the wisdom to deal with those flukey little things that surprise me every single time, and also self control and patience.

It's keeping them fed and clothed, educated and prepared for their days.

It's making darned sure that I personally have my own life straight with God, so that I'm in the position to encourage and exhort them to take what comes on their way in the right way.

It's understanding what is important in life, and what isn't.

It's keeping track of the library books, and making sure we don't run out of toilet paper.

It's being the bad guy when they've all been on their iPods too much.

It's paying attention to who needs attention.

It's biting my tongue when I want to lash out, and bringing up things I don't want to discuss when I think it's for their good.

It's putting them first while also putting my husband first.

It's taking care of myself so I can be around for them.

It's dropping what I thought I was going to do today when I have to pick them up at school because they have a headache.

It's teaching them to drive...Kathryn and Evelyn are both learning now, #10 and #11...and I still stomp those invisible brakes.

It's making cookies for their favorite teacher when all I want to do is sit and put my feet up.

It's going to the dreaded mall when they NEED a new dress or bathing suit or bra...and waiting so patiently while they try things on.

It's accidentally putting their favorite hoodie in the dryer and promising to buy them a new one.

It's saving them a plate of dinner because they have to run out the door for something or other when dinner is being served.

It's setting a few chicken wings aside from the sauce, a few meatballs aside from the sauce, every time, because Sonja likes them plain.'s a lot of things. I am not always good at all of these things, and sometimes I wish I was just one of the kids, and someone else had the huge load of responsibility that comes with Being Mom.

We are heading to the Adirondacks in five days. Five days. There are like 20 of us going, and we need food...the older kids are pitching in and bringing stuff, but still. I have to buy lots of food. And you know how it is, if you remember 299 food items, you get no credit, but heck, if you forget the ketchup, BAD MOM, ha.

I have told them each to pack sheets and a towel. But my head is still spinning with all that I have to remember. The kitchen table is now the grand central station of things set aside for Cabin In The Woods.

Am I excited for Cabin In The Woods? Oh yeah. Coffee on the screened porch in the morning, listening to the loons, either alone as I wake early there, or with whoever else got up early...Mirielle, Evelyn, Mali...just lovely. The campfires? A blast. Sitting in the sun on the dock, playing musical chairs, swimming in the freezing but sparkling clean Adirondack water...refreshing and so much fun, as I totally love basking in the kids' enjoyment of this.

But. I know that even at the camp, Being Mom means knowing where everything is, what we're having for every meal and snack. I am bringing a whole boatload of foam plates, sorry environment! I am not spending my vacation washing dishes:)

Anyway. I am excited to be with the kids, hopefully they all get along well and I don't have to put on my striped shirt and get out the whistle. Hopefully we can all take turns with meals and clean up. Hopefully we get lots of sun shining on the dock.

Today, I take Miss Camille to the orthopedic doctor to get her an ankle x-ray. She's hoping it's all healed and she'll be done with the boot, for camp. Me too.

Tonight we are taking the two cats and one black lab to the rabies clinic for their shots, which promises to be a good time.

Tomorrow night, Samuel starts leave, and drives home, arriving on Wednesday morning. Wednesday night, we are having a graduation party for Kathryn, last minute. So I have to clean the house and make food, and a huge cake. In the midst of the kitchen table Grand Central Station thing..ha.

But life is good, and one thing at a time, and all of that.