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, May 5, 2016

rain rain go away....

This is my thoughtful blogging face, with my four year old glasses on. The new ones should come in next week, and yay, should work a little better, as these old ones are getting blurry, ha.

It's not raining right now, but the weather forecast for our small town in France, well...rain. I hoped it would change, and maybe it still will, but when I checked Monday, it made me decide to order a new jacket from Target. The estimated arrival date was next Monday, and we leave for France on Saturday...then I checked this morning, and yay, my jacket is coming today! Because rain or shine, I am not going to sit in my hotel room all day while Paul is at work.

Davian is here playing with the kitten. Joseph is making a second pot of coffee, and Kathryn is doing laundry. The little girls had a surprise sleepover at their big sister Emily's house last night. Em is done with classes for the summer, but is teaching a nursing class once a week. She is very busy now trying to garden and landscape, and putter around her house, work on catering a few events.

This afternoon I have to bring Evelyn in for a check-up so she can get working papers, she is applying for a summer job. She has been learning to drive, and is taking her driving test next month, along with Kathryn. While we're out, we might check out the thrift store, Evelyn loves browsing with me.

Abigail is texting me from Norway, and my brother is stopping over for a visit and to get a cooler I borrowed a while off I go...:)

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

coffee and no cookies....

As per Sonja's birthday request: chocolate chip cookies with pink frosting. I also made a huge cookie, which hasn't been cut into yet...I baked all of the triple batch of dough yesterday instead of refrigerating some and baking it in intervals, which translates into "kids eating refrigerated cookie dough like there's no tomorrow".

And I didn't have a single bite. Not a lick of dough, not a chocolate chip. Do I win a prize? Do I automatically lose 10 pounds? Nope. But the kids sure liked them, and Sonja was pleased.

Our living room is still in gym mode, the furniture moved out of the way and the floor covered in mats. Miss Char is in gymnastics heaven.

I need to go shopping today. We are running out of milk and bread and cheese and yogurt and bananas and apples and fresh veggies. We need groceries for when I'm gone, and I need things to bring with me like nuts and bars and maybe some beef jerky.

So I'm going to cut some coupons, get these guys moving on some school work, then go out and about so I can come home and see this sweetie:

Miss Lydia Eleanor! She's been on vacation with her mommy and daddy in Myrtle Beach, so we have missed her! I was in D.C. when she was here least, so it's been a while. I have another granddaughter, out on the west coast, Miss Anya Jade, she is adorable. She is coming on an airplane this summer to visit us, and mmm, I can't wait! One of the things I envision someday: a grandchild coming in the door and racing to see Grammy. But for now, I have my other little sister's grandchildren are huggy and sweet too. I need to go out and about...I have things to return to Target, and maybe look for a jacket...I want a rain coat with a hood that is small, doesn't wrinkle, and isn't huge or too small...thankfully my mother-in-law gave me some really comfy sneakers when we visited her in Florida. I am definitely bringing them to France. She also gave me some comfy sandals, which I need to wear for a bit to see if they STAY comfy, before I pack them. I haven't packed yet, haven't even decided what suitcase/s to bring. I need to cut some coupons.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

cookies, birthdays, forts, and a kitten....

Today is Miss Sonja Kathleen's 14th birthday. Now the five-girls-in-a-row are 19, 18, 16, 15, and 14. We went on an outing yesterday afternoon...they eye doctor for Suzanne, Jonathan, and I...but that's the only place we went, because yours truly left her wallet on the table next to her chair. So after we got home, the whole van load of us (Kathryn and Sonja and Char and Cam went too), Miss S.K. and I went to town, just to get a few things at the little store there...since it was the day before her birthday, I stopped at Dunkin so she could get a yummy drink. I also got her a pink frosted donut with sprinkles. I got a large iced coffee...and surprise! The cash register was acting up, so our order was free!

Sonja requested chocolate chip cookies with homemade pink I made a triple batch.

I started on the frosting, but decided to take a writing
break first...

The kids are building a huge fort in the living room today.

They moved furniture to have "gym class".

We only have one kitten left...she's spoken for, but we're keeping her a few more days so mama kitty can adjust.

Jonathan and I have been taking our walks, three days in a row! Last evening, we walked before dark, and was lovely...

Anyway...I'm looking forward to getting my new reading glasses. They'll probably come in when I'm in France...and guess what...? Charlotte Claire turns ten years old when we're there, too. oops. I am kind of glad I didn't realize that little fact when I was considering whether to go or not. It's bad enough to miss their soccer tournament, but a ten year old birthday without your mommy? I know she'll be all right, but oops.

My living room is a disaster...waffleblocks, wooden blocks, the forts, lots of blankets and pillows. Jonathan is vacuuming his room, the other kids are making towers and playing, "Sorry!"

They grow up too fast, and I love when they play. They've been to the moon today, and visiting other planets, and they even brought some of the animals with them. They lured them into their fort with treats and kitten chow, and every once in a while, a cat would escape and they would go fetch it again. Davian is in love with the poor kitten...he's pretty gentle with it, but he really likes to cart it around.

In the midst of this seemingly normal week, I am elated about our trip to France. My head is swirling....passport, sneakers, toothbrush, phone charger...then there's the fact that 8 kids will be here all week...(not exactly kids, Joseph is almost 25 and Kathryn is 18), but they will need food and meal plans, ect.

But today is Sonja's birthday, so I shall go finish that pink frosting, and decorate some cookies, as per her request. I don't even know yet what's for dinner, oops.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

and so ends another lovely sunday....

Rain? What rain? I have to remind myself this: I will not melt. The walks are so necessary! I can think about things, and breathe the country air, and when the evil hill is difficult, I KNOW I need to tackle it every day so that it loses some of it's evil.

We made Chinese food today using chicken we cooked yesterday. Evelyn chopped cabbage, onions, green peppers, and sauteed in olive oil with salt and pepper. I deboned the chicken breast, and chopped it up. Evelyn boiled pasta, drained it, and added it to the cabbage mixture, along with soy sauce and sugar, with some seasonings. We made a pan of basmati rice with butter, too. We heated the chicken in olive oil, then added orange ginger sauce. Okay, it wasn't as yummy as takeout, because the chicken wasn't battered, but it was good, and way more healthy. We had it as a big late lunch, and sat at the table and solved the world's problems for a while. Dinner was therefore just random snacks. Camille had an apple dipped in caramel, and some pretzels, and some granola, for example. We had some 10 calorie jello, and I had pistachio nuts. I am not hungry right now, but I want to eat something...but I won't.

The kittens, oh our dear little kittens...we only have one left now.

Two nice people came here today and each took one kitten. Our friend Adrian took one last night, so one little kitten awaits her new home with one of Suzanne's friends. Phew, we successfully navigated having cute kittens and not keeping one. I really really wanted one, and honestly, one of the older girls cried when one of the orange tigers left today. You do get attached, and they are so darling.

So I'm spending too much time googling things to do in Paris...we only have on afternoon/evening there, so I'm thinking this: a glimpse of the Eiffel tower, and a picnic somewhere...a bottle of wine and some good bread, or maybe a fresh crepe.

Anyway...tomorrow is Monday, and let's be thankful to wake up, and be alive, and have the grumbling!

picture this:

The view out the kitchen window this morning as I cleaned up the remains of that fabulous party we had here for Jonathan: rain. Rain on leave-filled pool, rain on the overgrown garden from last year, rain on the big timberwood swingset that's missing a few swings, rain on the two cardinals flitting from tree to tree...

The frothy green of the new leaves stands out against the dark skies. It's the coziest sort of day, and it's Sunday. We don't have to leave for church for a few hours, so there's time to putter around. The kitchen table is a disaster zone, but a beautiful one. Camille has been making paper bag puppets:

Charlotte likes to design houses on graph paper, which led Camille to make a shoebox diorama of a living room.

Anyway, this morning I cleaned up messes and straightened things out, and decided not to take a morning walk in the rain.

Paul is home, and last night we stayed up way too late, making plans for our trip. He has to go into work Monday through Friday, but we have our evenings, and most of the day on Friday. We really want to go to the American cemetery at Normandy, he's been there several times but I want to see it. There are nice little towns and small cities near where we will be staying, so we're planning to go out and about in the evenings and explore. Then on Friday, Paris!

My days are a blank slate...oh, whatever will I do, all by myself all day France? I do not speak French, despite taking it for several years in school. I can say, "Shut your mouth", and "Open the window", and know basic vocabulary words...but listening to someone speak French, um, no comprende. (I also can say, "Voulez vous coucher avec moi, ce soir?", you know, from the song...ha.) So I asked Paul if people there speak English, like they do in Norway...he said they don't, absolutely don't. Dang. I pictured myself making small talk, making friends even, as I spent sunny days in the park, or browsed in the little grocery store.

So I will just have to spend my days walking around, taking pictures, then writing huge long blog posts and boring the heck out of everyone. Being so far far from home and not having to use my brain space for simple daily problem solving, sounds refreshing. I will miss the kids terribly, but I will welcome the relaxation.

Free time is such a precious commodity...the other night I tried to steal some, eke some out of the day, so I sneaked into my room with a book...Evelyn understands, she's a reader, so she brought me a steaming mug of didn't last long, someone needed me for something, but still. I loved it.

So days with no appointments, no needs to be met, no floors to be swept...poor me, ha.

And it goes without saying that I do get great pleasure from mothering these children of mine. My life is very fulfilling and blessed with these crazy kids. But time off is sweet...and the evenings with Paul are going to be fantastic.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

a joyful day!

It's Jonathan's birthday! He's 12 years old. Jonathan is our Rainbow Baby, born way back before that term was coined. I thought I was unique in the absolute joy that Jon brought into our lives after losing baby Robert, but thanks to social media and other blogs, I now know this is a common experience...the complete and utter thankfulness for the baby that's born after a devastating loss: Rainbow Baby.

When Jon was born, I remember being so very thankful for the simple fact that he was alive. He moved. He cried vigorously from the minute he emerged into the world, then calmed down and checked us out with those beautiful eyes. He had wiggly, kicky legs, and tiny little toes...and he was alive. I'm telling you, after delivering baby Robert, holding a miniature little baby, your OWN baby, perfect in every way...except not hope, the end before the beginning, wrapped up so sweetly in the familiar newborn blanket, yet cruelly still and unmoving. It felt like the end of the world. Go home and enjoy your other children, the doctor said. I was ready for that. Because after giving birth in that hospital to all of those other babies, babies who nursed and cried, and snuggled into my shoulder, I was traumatized every time I heard anything wheel down the hall, thinking they were bringing me my baby to take care of, and ugh. But Robert wasn't coming home in a perfectly prepared car seat in the nice little outfits we had bought for him. We were going home with broken hearts.

Then Jonathan came along...he was born ten and a half months after Robert. I could barely breathe throughout the pregnancy, every time he was still, I had to fight the panic. When he wiggled around in there, I hoped he wasn't getting tangled in the cord. It wasn't a blissful 9 months. When he was born, it was absolutely too good to be true.

His older siblings practically stole him from me, if I hadn't nursed him, I never would have gotten a turn. The loss of Robert affected them, too, and they smothered Jonathan in love. Jon has grown up to be just the best boy. He's thoughtful and helpful and kind and has a wicked sense of humor. He has the gift of patience with younger kids, little Annika calls him her "best friend".

Emily, Benjamin, and Aaron pitched in and bought him a really nice new bike for his birthday. I bought him soccer cleats, two Super Soakers, and a new soccer ball, and also gave him money to go out to lunch with three of his friends today. He's making bacon for breakfast right now, and I need to get up and go help make a special breakfast...French toast or waffles.

So today, I am thankful for Jon, and the joy he has brought into our lives.

Friday, April 29, 2016

YES, going to france....:)

My kids rock, they really do.

They got together and talked, and were very enthusiastic in telling me to JUST GO.

Here's the thing...last night, I really prayed about my marriage...I know I need to put more effort into putting it first...then this morning, I was awakened by my phone beeping, ugh, I didn't mute it, and it was waaay too early...but Paul is in France...and he was texting to ask me to go to France with him next week. I immediately thought of my prayers, and really hoped this trip would work out.

Marriage takes time, and time is the one commodity we don't have enough of. When Paul comes back from a trip, he usually gets in on a Saturday evening, is quite tired and jet-lagged on Sunday, then back to work on Monday. We fit in our time for each other after all else is taken care of.

Anyhow...he bought me a ticket! I am actually going!!! He's coming home tomorrow, and we leave a week from tomorrow. (If I weren't going with him, it would be a pretty rough stretch, he's been gone way more than he's been home)

So of course I googled "how to get into shape in a week", and would you believe it doesn't work that way? Nor can you lose fifty pounds in a week, darn it. Yeah, one of my first thoughts was, ha, "I can't go to France being this fat!"

But I'm going, and I'm happy about it.

My nice sister gave me a $20 off coupon for a nice store in the dreaded mall, so this evening when the older girls went over to Emily's house, I took the small kids out and about...Jonathan, Char, Cam, and little cousin William.

They were so precious while I tried things on...Jon sat on a bench with Will, playing a video game together. Char did cartwheels, yes, in the store, and Cam hovered outside the door to comment on what I tried on. I considered going outside of my comfort zone and wearing things other than t-shirts, but it was...too outside of my comfort zone. I did get two elbow length shirts and a pair of super comfortable and almost flattering black pants, all for $30, thank you Cheryl!

I admired a really pretty sweater as I checked out, but it was so pricey...the clothes in that store are very nice, but most things are like fifty bucks...the sweater was on sale for $20, but still.

We took a really quick run into the grocery store after a detour at Dunkin Donuts in the mall...I really enjoyed my iced coffee, and the kids had iced teas. Jonathan turns 12 tomorrow, and had one request: bacon for breakfast. I also got some orange juice, celery, blueberries (my special snack tonight), and more coffee.

Home...William gets to spend the night! He's too cute. He loves hearing stories, and he's in luck, because I like telling them. The girls also told him stories on the ride home from the suburbs.

Jonathan has chosen to just have a few friends to go out to lunch with him, instead of having tons of boys over...the thought it would be too overwhelming. Evelyn is going to make him an ice cream pie (Oreos crushed up, mixed with melted butter for the crust...then partially melted ice cream, topped with crumbled cookies and hot fudge, and frozen up will I not eat this? And I can't, or I won't lose that fifty pounds for France!!)

Anyway...thank you for taking the time to comment, and to encourage me to go on this trip. I do believe it will be a good thing, and honestly, somebody pinch me, I just can't believe I'm going to France. This has been the travel-y-ist segment of my life, the last half year...since last September, I've been to Washington state, then our trip across the country to California in January, a trip to Norway (and London), the Georgia/Florida trip, and to Washington D.C. again. Now to France. Of course exploring new places is my favorite, and honestly, for years and years, I didn't explore too much, having so many kids! We camped for vacations. :)