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 28, 2015

early morning bliss....

I had to get up early this morning and drive Margaret to her nanny job. I get up at 6 ish every morning anyway, so I can see Evelyn and Sonja before they get on the school bus. In the winter time I had gotten lazy about this, and blissfully slept in when I could...and the girls didn't like it. Even 13 and 15 year olds like their mama in the morning.

Anyway. I dropped Margaret off, and went to the grocery store Was I lonely and bored? Ha. I loved walking up and down the aisles without apologizing to anyone about what I forgot to look at. I had no teenagers with me to roll their eyes at all the packages of reduced meat I put into the cart (bonus! I got some good deals on beef! It's so expensive these days, but I was right behind the lady who was marking down yesterday's stuff...still good, and cheaper!)

And at the register, I chatted with the nice cashier about her five year old son, and how quickly childhood goes by, she admitted she cries when she sees his baby pics because he has grown up so fast. The lady behind me in line joined the conversation, she has five kids and had we agreed that kids are all so different. It was nice to converse with some nice ladies.

Home...ah home. Davian is here. Right now he is reading a huge Christmas sing-along book. He can read, so he can sing all the songs with the music when he presses the button. This child does not get bored. He is so dang cute.

Jonathan is reading, and the girls are playing dollhouse. Soon Joseph is going to take over watching them, and I am going to....Costco! With Emily. We are shopping for the soccer tournament this weekend, for the grill.

And, I am heading out to the deck in a few minutes to grill my breakfast...a couple of steaks that were marked down. Mmm.

So, it's a good day.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

home home again...

Jonathan and I at the metro. Riding this was a whole adventure in itself. The kids were pretty excited about it, and Grandma was too...

...until she realized that she is a little bit claustrophobic. But she did fine.

Miss Char insisted on carrying the chair.


Oh the adventures we had. It wasn't all fun and games at the time, for example when we got to the airport to pick up the rental van at 7:00 a.m. only to be told they had no record of our reservation. Luckily they still had a 7 passenger vehicle...lucky, but expensive. Come to find out I had the wrong rental agency, oops my bad. I did walk down the whole line of those agencies, and none that were open had any reservations in our name.

The ride itself was mostly uneventful, except for when I sped up nicely to sneak in and change lanes, only to have a nice Audi pull in front of me at the same time, dang it was close.

We found the Army base, pulled into the gate...and found out that civilians are no longer allowed entrance at this gate. The nice M.P. gave us directions to way out in East Jesus, as Grandma Eleanor likes to say, back on the highway and all the way around...after getting just a tiny bit lost, we made our way to a different gate. Again, not allowed. This M.P. told me to calm down, it's not that bad, and sent us on our way with more directions. Directions tend to go in one ear and out the other with me, especially when I seriously have to pee, after drinking too much coffee on a long trip.

Gate # 3! We found it, and didn't even have our vehicle searched...I guess we looked harmless enough.

Samuel!!! Yay, it was nice to see Sam.

He navigated to our hotel, and I drove through that horrendous traffic....(after a quick run into the bathroom at the commisary). We found the hotel, grabbed some luggage,, no record of any reservations at this hotel in our name...Eleanor and I just looked at each other. We had just gotten through saying, that if THIS place also had no record of us....

Seems we were at the right hotel in the wrong location. I didn't realize there were two Homewood Suites right in the same vicinity.

oops. Back to the car.

Our hotel was delightful. We mostly enjoyed the 24 hour coffee/tea station. Those three youngest kids of mine had so much tea with vanilla fact, they were drinking those little creamers straight.

Char, Samuel, Jonathan, the metro station.

There is nothing on God's green earth as beautiful as a big brother with his younger siblings.

Camille's feet hurt...we had walked enough miles! Samuel does ruck marches through D.C., carrying a heavy pack. This particular pack looked nice and comfy on his back.

We took a trip to the battlefield at Manassas. It was a beautiful day, and I enjoyed walking around and resting on a bench with Grandma.

I know, I know, I am not the best photographer. But this is with Stonewall Jackson.

We saw a giraffe in the Natural History Museum.

These three had lots of fun.

Camille needed shade! She just loves umbrellas.

At the parade! It was fantastic. We had a good spot to watch, and the intermittent breeze saved us from dying in the hot sun.

And the very very best part of the parade....

Samuel in uniform!! He was in the front row, second from right. They looked so spiffy, the Honor Guard.

Grandma took us out to dinner...milk shakes for kids!

Paul and Sam and Paul's mom (Eleanor, Grandma:))

It was nice to see Samuel. We went to Arlington, and saw the changing of the guard at the Tomb of The Unknown Soldier. We saw the flags that were lovingly placed on each and every grave there, by Sam and other soldiers...over two hundred thousand!

Arlington is huge. Rolling hills, filled with row after row of gravestones. And to see those flags waving in the breeze...Sam told me how tedious it is to place those really is something. We had to get him back to base at a reasonable time last evening, because he had to be up while it was still dark this take all the flags back off.

As much as we enjoyed our trip, it was nice to be home again. The kids like visiting cities, but wouldn't want to live in one.

The washing machine wouldn't turn on when we got home, Paul with laundry from France as well as this trip...well, a bird built a nice little nest AND laid eggs in the hose that leads from the dryer to outside. That was causing the dryer to be too hot, the room to be hot, and the washer has a sensor that won't let it run when it's too hot. So. Problem solved. yay. Just what we love, Paul operating on appliances right when he walks in the door.

Davian is here with us today. The girls have showed him pictures from my phone from the trip, and are now doing a huge underwater creatures puzzle with him. Jonathan is reading his new book from the gift shop at Manassas (thank you, Grandma!). They have already played Thomas the Train, but picked it all up, and office, but not picked that up yet...and a marble game, and dollhouse. It is hot in here, but the fan is humming, and making me sleepy.

All in all, I would give our trip an A+. The crowds weren't bad, we rode the subway okay, didn't get lost or mugged or too tired out...and, we had fun. Seeing Sam was the best part, but the rest was enjoyable too. The pool and the hot tub, oh especially that hot tub, after traipsing around the felt fine.

And now, back to Real Life. There is a soccer tournament this weekend, which means planning and shopping and there are people to drive places, and we need groceries...and and and....

Sunday, May 24, 2015

here in the nation's capital....

Okay, our hotel is actually in Virginia, but we did visit Washington, D.C. yesterday.

This was taken today at the battlefield at Manassas Virginia. Sam and Paul and Grandma and Jonathan and Char and Cam...

Tomorrow....back to the big city for the Memorial Day parade.

More pics when I get to it...because believe me, thousands and thousands of flags on the graves in Arlington National Cemetery...and and and...lots of pics...but I am tired tonight. We walked to our local Target to buy an umbrella to shade the sun tomorrow because it will be broiling hot, not that we'll be complaining...after all, Samuel will be the one in the full uniform marching ten blocks, after being at a ceremony at the Tomb of The Unknown soldier, standing in the heat, perfectly still....(the Target we walked to was a city Target, with escalators. The princesses were impressed.)


Friday, May 22, 2015

we made it to washington d.c.!!!

Samuel and Eleanor (my mother-in-law).

We made it down here!!! Yay! There are stories to tell, but those will have to wait...I am tired out, and happy to see Sam...and Paul...phew.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

the day before the trip....

Camille and I had a little snuggle this morning, when it was chilly in here. In fact, she's sitting on the arm of my chair again right now.

Our van is half-packed, but I still have to go through my stuff and decide what I want/need to bring. I am packing healthy snacks for the way there: sliced cucumbers and peppers and raw broccoli, pumpkin seeds and almonds and cashews, and some pepperoni...okay, that's not really too healthy...and beef jerky. I'm also bringing some flax seed muffins for breakfast, and coconut oil to put in my coffee. The kids have some extra things thrown in that I won't be sharing, like oatmeal cream cookies (may I just say...yum?)

Anyway. They have their stuff packed, but I still have to remember things like my phone charger, and find my green sweatshirt, and decide which shoes to old Birkenstocks that are uglier than sin, or perhaps not that ugly, but they have seen better days, or my newer ones, spiffy but not as comfy.


I am tired, and have to get to bed early because I woke up this morning at 5:30...I had a terrible dream that Paul cheated on me, and when I found out, he didn't even care. He just answered me like, "uh-huh.", like he usually does in real life sometimes. It was SO realistic. I was heartbroken and crushed and then...ticked off. Oh, I was mad at him. And HER. There was a picture, of course, in my dream. Do you think she was older and a bit on the chubby side? ha. She was younger than some of my daughters, and was wearing a work-out tank top, showing off her slim muscled arms. I hated those arms. I hated her healthy young smiling face. I hated that they were taking a double selfie. He hates selfies. Wait, I forgot, she's not real, it was only a bad dream.

I told him on the phone, and he told me not to worry, it's not in the cards. He misses me, and loves me, and I love him, and I am thankful it WAS only a dream. I know it really happens to people, and ouch.

Samuel, my dear son Sammy, I can't wait to see you! Yay!

The part I'm not looking forward to: driving in the traffic. Jonathan is my co-pilot, from the back seat, and he will be manning the GPS from his tablet. Grandma is sitting shotgun, she is excited to spend time with Sam too. It's a 6 and 1/2 hour trip, but we will take a few stops. I don't like driving this far, not in my comfort zone, but hey, Paul and Sam are at the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, and I really think the drive itself will be rather fun, except for the driving, of course. The tractor trailers...rrr. The five lane highways with my exit coming up...all the way on the other side. I am not one of those effortless lane changers. I signal, and turn around and look, and don't go until it is all clear, which it never is on a busy highway. ha.

Anyway, I have to go finish packing. We just finished our taco salad for dinner, and I am ready for bed. The little girls need showers, and lots of little details need to be worked out, like who exactly is taking us to our rental van at the airport at 6 a.m. Either Abigail or Margaret....anyway...bye for now!!! I am bringing this computer with me, but don't know if I will blog tomorrow, in all the excitement of seeing Paul and Samuel....

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

ah, another lovely morning...

This lovely mug, which holds almost the right amount of coffee, is from Ben and Ashley.(But I also wanted a good pic of the nice things on top of my refrigerator.)

Abandoning my usual routine of throwing in a load of laundry and sweeping and mopping and wiping down counters before I sink into the comfy chair for a little facebook time, news reading, and of course writing on this's pretty much a give someone will stop in unexpectedly this morning. It's what happens when you slack off.

I will not be a boring details person, but yesterday...phew.

These little sweeties visited us for the day...all three are my sister's grandchildren. Their mamas grew up with my kids, and have their own fond memories of coming here for the day through the years...these little ones, the twins and Davian, bring joy with them. They are so hilarious. They played playdough and dollhouse and StarWars, and on the swingset and in the little playhouses outside, and then in the little pools in the yard. Little sunshines, they are.

Jonathan passed out freezepops...then had a popsicle. They noticed. They took up the chant, and I put them up to the table and gave them popsicles too. But first I took off their shirts:)

Oh cuteness.

I had to bring Margaret to work in the afternoon. Suzanne was my co-pilot. We dropped off library books, then stopped into TJ Maxx, just to browse...for soccer socks, shorts, I found some lovely mason jar type beverage dispensers for Emily's catering business, specifically for a wedding we are catering this summer. Smart phones are wonderful, Suze snap-chatted Em some pictures of the jars..she agreed they are perfect for fruit infused water, and iced tea.

We went to Target to return the ugly dress, and came out with just a few more things. Then to Price Chopper for chicken and spinach and eggs and milk....then home...then quick back to town to pick up the minivan, yay, five hundred bucks, and she's ready to roll again. Poor minivan. Home again, and time to make dinner. Never mind that the older kids all left for a meeting, and that my sister called so I just made plates for the younger three (barbecued chicken thighs and corn, asparagus and spinach), and talked to Cheryl for a bit.

Then Mirielle came for a visit, the kids stayed up too late, then the other kids all came home.

I should have gone to bed, but I had things to do! I had clothes to try on. I have only lost three pounds, but have gotten a tiny bit smaller, and was trying to decide what to wear/bring to Washington D.C. I finally got into bed at midnight, then read for a while. When six o'clock rolled around this morning, ugh.

Anyhow, today is a good day.

My little girls, and Jonathan, are all packed for the trip already. They are so excited, but the pre-trip excitement is part of the fun. That's why we like to have kids around, it reminds us to be happy about life.

In a few days, it will be my mother's birthday again. When the lilacs bloom each year, I miss her terribly. Lilacs were her favorite. My little brother was deathly allergic to bee stings when we were growing up, I guess he still is. My mother always carried his, "bee sting kit" in her purse, and she worried and fretted about Casey Michael. He was the youngest, and could get away with murder, and was the apple of my mother's eye. He wasn't allowed barefeet, because he might step on a bee. My father decided to get rid of all the flowers in they yard, and sawed down my mother's huge lilac bush. (Casey got stung a few times, had horrible reactions, ambulances, was no joke, and I grew up terrified of bees...I never ever got stung until one time I was pregnant, and one stung me right in the stomach, I thought my life was over, I had a reaction but not terrible. I always thought that would be how I would die, since I never got stung all those years. I still think it might be my ticket to the other side...:)) Anyway. Tangents. Every year for my mother's birthday, I tried to get her some lilacs. Our down the street neighbors had a few bushes, and when they weren't looking...I picked some for her.

I miss her. She enjoyed life. She lived forgiveness, she lived goodness. She never thought of herself, and absolutely loved to give. She always had something for the kids, and for our friends' kids. She was a natural birthday memorizer, and if she didn't gave a gift and ran into a child who had a birthday, she would pull out a five dollar bill. She was no nonsense about manners, the kids learned to say their pleases and thank-yous, but she could while away the hours without ever getting bored. She read them stories, she told them stories, and most of all, she listened to them. She got a kick out of them all, her grandchildren...there are 48 of them.

Ah well. She wouldn't want me to waste days being sad. It's just not fair how life just goes on, the whole world not even realizing that she's not with us anymore. What's worse than thinking about her all the time is when I realize, every now and then, that I haven't thought about her in a while.

Okay, it's bothering me that the house is messy...I have to get up and at least sweep the floors...true to my prediction, my niece stopped in a few minutes ago, while I was typing this. It always happens, let the place go, and people stop in.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

kids live here!!!

Pick it up and put it away? But they're still playing!

And then there are the fire trucks...

I can clean up my house, but it won't STAY clean. Because we like to be comfortable here. Or perhaps because it's just too much work to keep it spotless, although I seriously wouldn't know. I think every family has to find their own comfort level, what they can live with on a regular daily basis. Unfortunately, my idea of comfort is a few levels up from the rest of the slobs who live here, ha. But since I'm the mom, it's all my fault anyway, right? One mom told me a few years back that I'm not doing my kids any favors by not teaching them be cleaners and organizers. Sorry kids!

The thing is, I don't like walking around nagging. Who's sweater is this? Who left these dishes on the coffee table? Orange peels on the arm of the couch? Seriously? I can issue a general statement, saying this won't be tolerated anymore...but of course I'm wasting my breath, because we all know: NO ONE DID IT. Or perhaps one of them will helpfully point the finger to a sibling, who points to still another sibling.

Anyhoo. Just keeping the floors clean is like a part time job.

Okay, so we're taking a trip this weekend. I have taken trips with all different kids in the family through the years. Teenagers are fun to travel with, but the little kids are a riot because they are so unreserved about their excitement. They don't cross their arms and mumble, "yeah, I guess I'm glad we're going. But it'll probably be really lame." Nope! The hotel pool! Can we order pizza the first night?! We'll probably stop at McDonald's on the way down!!! They are packing the poker chips/cards (yeah, my little kids play poker), and the Yahtzee! game. They are packing movies and tablets and each one pillow. I keep telling them to pack lightly. ha.

Their excitement is contagious.

Today, my little friend Davian is coming over. We can't talk about our trip in front of him, it's too sad, because he asks, "What about me?" He is seriously adorable. He told me yesterday that he was going to Arizona to see the Grand Canyon.

I find these days, I get up at six-ish in the morning, am relatively busy all day....I say "relatively", because yesterday I sat in my comfy lounge chair while the kids splashed in the little pools. Jon even brought me a 15 calorie popsicle. (and ha, I am sitting here right now, aren't I?) But overall, driving people places and making meals and and and...keeps me busy enough. I tried to read in bed last night and just conked after like 20 pages. I turned out the light at midnight, and slept like a rock. So I can't complain, which I shouldn't anyway, which Jonathan so nicely reminds me.

Another load of laundry is done, so off I go...