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

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

please, summer, please slow down...

The days are your life. The driving and the waiting and the cleaning up, this is life. It's not something that's going to happen Some Day, it's now. You can choose to gripe your life away, piddle away the time wishing you were doing something different, but this is life.

I, for one, have been tempted to fall victim to the Grass Is Always Greener on the Other Side of the Fence syndrome. If I'm preparing food, I wish I was outside with the guests, if I'm in the store, I wish I was home on the deck. If I'm home for more than a day, I wish I was out doing something fun. If I'm cleaning the house, I wish it was already clean and I was in bed with a book.

Anyway. There is something to be said for being content where you are, and with what you are occupied with.

Yesterday, six of my daughters accompanied me out and about. We needed to renew Evelyn's passport, but someone forgot their checkbook. Thankfully I realized it before we all trooped into the county courthouse building, but I had already wasted fifty cents in the parking meter, blah.

We went to Kohl's, where I had some good coupons. The girls found jeans, I found a Christmas gift for baby Grant, my son Sam's little guy, a few things for little Anya who is starting kindergarten this year, and a cute outfit for baby Wulf.

Then, take-out Chinese food and home to watch the Simpsons. What!? It was a rainy day! And apparently I "owed" a few of the kids Chinese food...I promised Sonja K. for her birthday, and that was on May 3rd, and I promised Suze after her SAT test, and that was a few months back too.

The weather cleared up, we got to swim...then Emily came over, and Margaret and Adrian and baby Wulf, and Ashley with baby Elise and little Anya. Lydia came over, and we had a nice cook-out, a fire on the deck, and marshmallows, and I didn't have one. :(

Here's something nice though: Lydia spent the night, for the first time, and she did fantastic! She went to bed so nicely at 9:30-ish, and slept until after nine this morning! She's so sweet and chatty and just happy, it's nice to have a little one in the house. She slept in a pack and play in Suzanne's room.

This morning, Jonathan went to Grandma's to paint her back deck, and I am taking Evelyn to get her passport renewed, and then there is a painting party at Ben's new house.

We don't get bored, that's for sure.

As for me, today I'm going to use each opportunity to be thankful, and to hear what God has to say to me.

And, I'll try to remember to take some pictures, too.

Monday, July 16, 2018

still alive and kicking!!!

The party...oh my it went by fast! Did I take a single picture? oops.

The first guest was Kim, my sister-in-law, little cousin Danielle's mama. She helped me get the chicken sliced up and into a crock-pot. The pulled pork was done, Sonja had cooked up the taco beef and that was in a crock pot...the veggies were all cut up and in bags in the refrigerator. The coolers were full of ice and drinks, and Evelyn had made pitchers of mint lemonade, raspberry lemonade, ect. I made a pot of coffee, and people started arriving...

The rest is rather a blur. We kept refilling the peppers, olives, tomatoes, and cheese, and getting out more sour cream. The girls helped keep things cleaned up, lots of empty cans and bottles. (No alcohol, just seltzers, waters, and soda.) SO many of our friends came over. I enjoyed myself, talked to so many people. The kids ran around and played, trampoline and swings and they got out lots of toys.

The cake: I googled "Graduation cake", and made the first one that came up. I doubled the recipe, used 20 egg whites, and like seven cups of sugar, and made it in two half-sheet pans. It was delectable. I layered them, cut the edges off because the little girls saw it on a cooking show, and frosted it with buttercream icing. I ran out before I wrote anything on it, so when I drove Paul to the airport, I got more shortening so I could make another batch. Getting home just two hours before people would arrive, and making more But the cake tasted so good. We served it with berries and whipped cream. I only tasted one bit when I was cutting it and plating it, it was so good I ate another bit before really thinking about it, but then was done. It was hard not to just have a huge piece, but oh dear me, I have to be careful.

Then...they started leaving, and by a bit after ten o'clock, it was just us again, and wow, that was a good party.

Yesterday was our wine festival...and let's just say it was too much fun.

Today it's warm and sunny and I am done writing for the day...

Friday, July 13, 2018

it hasn't killed me yet...

I know, we're just having a graduation party, no biggie. And it's really not, except for that it IS. There's the regular cleaning up, which you would think, duh, just clean. That's fine and dandy, but we still LIVE here. There's a coffee cup next to the stack of wii games and dvds on the top of the tv cube thing. There is newspaper on the couch, which Suri is sleeping on. The floors were swept and vacuumed yesterday, but that was YESTERDAY! We have two Labs! The couch covers are in the washing machine, the pork is in the crock pot for pulled pork, the pool is backwashed, chlorinated, and turned on. And the coffee is perking.
This is me, right now, alive.

Today, I need to grill the chicken which I bought yesterday and put into three gallon sized baggies with marinade. The burger needs to be cooked up and seasoned for the nacho bar, and I'm not talking just a package of it, there are five big packages of it. Maybe 25, 30 pounds. My plan is to cook it all up, put some in a crockpot, and the rest in bags in the refrigerator. If we don't need it, I can freeze it. If we do, it'll warm up fast on high in crock pot. I hope. We also plan to cut up all the peppers and tomatoes, ect., and bag those up until it's time to set out the food. I'm thinking to put ice in plastic bins and set the bowls in those, it's hot today and getting hotter.

Mirielle brought over their cooler and lots of drinks last night.

And yesterday, I bought 70 water bottles and some soda, Kool-aid thingys for the kids, in the plastic bottles, good for the environment.

Camille and I set out bright and early yesterday, after I was done dawdling around here. We had lots of groceries to get, but decided to sneak to Target first. She got a few easy workbooks to do during the summertime, new sandals, and a dollhouse furniture desk set. Hey, she was the one who was ready and willing to go with Mom early in the morning. To be fair, all of the older girls went to the drive-in movies the night before, except for Evelyn, who was cleaning Em, Ab, and Mirielle's house.

Anyway, Cam and I moseyed on over to the outdoor section, and yeah, there were clearances...70% off the patio furniture and gas grills...oh, how we debated, and ended up with a bench and a new pillow.

It was $29. We liked it better than the sets, and it was originally $99, but still, it's not a "need". Cam and I did have an adventure getting it to the register. The good thing is that it SAVED me money, because who can browse up and down the rest of Target with that thing on the cart?

Evelyn's lily...

This rocking chair is from Aldi, and I love it, but I also hate tripping over the rockers, which I have done more than you would imagine. The table is Little Tikes and was a screaming yellow for years, but I couldn't even scrub it decently, so I decided to spray paint it.

This one was white on top with pink legs, and also stained quite a bit on top. I made the mistake of not letting the spray paint dry enough before I put things on top, and the paint peeled, so I had to put this placemat on it:( Live and learn, I guess.

Anyway, it's quiet in here for now, but the girls will be getting up, and Jon and his friend Toby, and Joseph...and the day will get crazy. I have to bring Paul to the airport, as he is leaving for Singapore again, today. Samuel is going to be here this evening, I can't wait to see him! He is all grown up and responsible, and I am not done worrying about him...he worked last evening, then left at 11 p.m., from Virginia, drove through the night straight to drill (Army Reserves in Syracuse (NY)), will do whatever soldiers do in drill on a hot summer day, then will get here when the party is starting. Tomorrow, drill all day, Sunday, drill all day, then Sunday night drive through the night to get back to Virginia, and work all night Monday night.

Anyway...this is the only quiet time I'll be getting for a while. Tomorrow morning, shh, I am going to the Finger Lakes Wine Festival, with my friend Karen, and Emily, Mirielle, and Miss Evelyn, our designated driver. We bought the tickets for this in the cold of the winter, and have been looking SO forward to it. Charlotte Claire and Camille are going camping with their activity club, leaving at 8 a.m., cousin Dani will be spending the night tonight and going too. So I have to make sure they have sleeping bags and warm socks, bathing suits and jackets...

Also in the cold of winter, Mirielle and I split the cost of a small cabin in the Adirondacks for next weekend, found it on Airbnb, and it's like the concept of money in the bank: but it's a weekend in the bank, you know, reserved. If anything else comes up, nope, we've got a cabin. I was contemplating giving up my spot so Mirielle could take her friend instead of me, because it's just her and I and the two little girls going...but my teenagers told me to please go and leave them here, they have too much fun without me. hmmm

Ah well, Sunny is whining to go outside, and I do have just a few things to do....

Thursday, July 12, 2018

what have I done??!!!

That's the stage I am in in this, "Let's Have A Huge Graduation Party!" saga. It goes like this:

1. Let's have a party!
2. Let's invite everyone, heck, everyone!
3. Days go by, it's looming, but it's nothing to worry about, plenty of time.
4. Uh-oh, better start cleaning up around here, a little. Still plenty of time.
5. Oh NO! The party's tomorrow! I still have to buy the food, pre-cook some of it, the lawn needs mowing and the downstairs bathroom, oh no! And dessert? I've thought about it, but that's about it! There's no dessert! I can bake this afternoon after I shop at three stores, right? While I'm cooking? The playhouses in the yard need to be hosed out, and the kitchen table where all the fab food will be set out is still stacked with various backpacks, a towel, someone's school books, (I know, it's July).

I did vacuum yesterday, and we HAVE cleaned, but this place is like a nice little stream, it never stops moving and changing shape. The dogs keep shedding, and the teenagers keep making iced coffee, and leaving the glasses around to decorate. I can't say anything, the stick from the 60 calorie fudgie I had last night is sitting in the empty wine glass...yeah, I had a glass of Finger Lakes wine from the Goose Watch Winery...oh yummers. So that's sitting on the window sill near my chair, next to my water bottle, but I'm the mom! I'm the one who'll be taking care of it anyway, so no biggie, right?

Anyway. Here I sit, adding to the general spirit of procrastination, before that the whole situation leans toward panic and chaos.

Don't get me wrong. I am not regretting that we're hosting this party. This will come though, I am teetering on the edge of that thought as I type. I will regret it. I will kick myself black and blue. I will wonder what the "H" I was thinking, heck, of course. Then things will fall into place, people will come, we'll have an amazing time, the food will turn out all right, I'll have forgotten a thing or two, and oops maybe we won't have gotten to that downstairs bathroom, but it'll be such a good party, I'll be thankful we had it.

After parties are over, and the guests have gone home, I have never regretted having the gathering. It's just part of the process, for a procrastinator like me...

Camille is going to accompany me to the grocery stores this morning to get all that we need for our Taco Bar for the grad party. We are having pulled pork, grilled chicken for fajitas, taco beef for taco salad, and some hot dogs for the kids who are still scared of Mexican food. And of course there are the tomatoes and lettuce cilantro and rice and olives and cheese sauce...

We are down a van, again, this time the red one needed inspection. It ran out in June, and the excitement of going out and about and wondering if a cop would notice, was just getting out of hand. The first thing Ed-the-mechanic said when I drove that van into the little auto place in town was, "Missy, that thing is getting loud!". Yeah, needs a muffler. Then he noticed it needed new rear brakes, could tell magically just by looking at the rear tire. What a coincidence, I told him, the Brake Light had just turned on that very day! He said he would have to keep it overnight, which means, $$$. I waver between being super thankful we have vehicles, to wishing we could just win the lottery already and get good vans which stay good.

Anyway. Time to wake Camille up and get going....the other girls have things to do today, a few are hanging out with the girls visiting from Germany, Evelyn is cleaning Mirielle, Emily, and Abigail's house in payment for the money they gave to the kids' spring time trip to Norway, and blah, this isn't a good day for that as we have a bit to do here, but we still have tomorrow, right?

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

the most wonderful day ever....

This was taken at Purity Ice Cream in Ithaca...local milk and cream, made in small batches...yummers. Sonja K in the front left, Irene behind her, Grace behind her, Suzanne in the back middle, Charlotte Claire in the front of Suze, then Emily and I. Kathryn Grace in the middle with the cap on, Camille next to her, then little Amanda, with Miss Evelyn Joy in the front, in glasses, taking the pic. (The van with Mel and the girls from Germany didn't go to the ice cream place after the park)

The park was lovely. For such a hot day, 89 degrees (31.66c), it was very comfortable there. The girls headed for the hiking trail, I headed for the water/picnic area. I slung my backpack over my shoulder, lugged the small cooler full of sugar free sparkling water and a zero calorie Kool-Aid cooler, a bag of pop-corn, and the picnic blanket, and said goodbye. The girls felt bad, Suze in particular wanted to stay with me, but I assured them I was fine all by my lonesome. I could probably have done the hike, but I didn't want them to have to worry about me, I didn't want to slow them down.

Shh, it was nice to be by myself for a bit. I had no book, and wasn't going to sit there on a beautiful day on my phone, because ha, there wasn't much of a signal, and things took forever and a day to load, so I put it away and just people-watched. I sat on that picnic blanket in the shad, eating popcorn and sipping water, and worried how in the heck I was going to get back up, being in my bathing dress, and all. Then I saw a chubby lady in a small-ish bikini kneeling and leaning over her snack bag on a blanket nearby, and oh my dear Lordy-Lord, there wasn't anything left to the imagination, the whole world saw what shouldn't be flashed. Usually when my kids are there, I ask them to create a small disturbance so as to deflect attention from me as I struggle to get up. (Benjamin, the big stinker, did the opposite recently, he yelled, "Help, she can't get up, and everyone looked at me as I was struggling to get into a good position from my spot in the grass...and of course that made me laugh, which made my muscles collapse...)

Anyway, I enjoyed the quiet time, and people never fail to amuse me. I saw a guy trip over a small shoe, probably his grandkid's, and almost fall over...he scanned the area to see if anyone saw, so I turned away so he wouldn't be embarrassed. One lady went in the water and her shorts were all full of air, and a huge air bubble emerged, she announced to no one in particular that she did NOT fart. As I sat near the water, the two ladies right next to me were discussing one's divorce, and how she wasted sixteen years of her life, and too bad, he was NOT getting the house. I watched people dive off the diving board, and kids splash each other. I swam, I sunned, and swam again.

Then a few hours later, the girls came back from their hike...we had a nice picnic lunch, then some of them tried out the diving board...this is my Camille can this be?

I rode there with Emily. She is a brand-new, board certified, NYS qualified, Nurse Practitioner. And she just started in family practice, saw eleven patients her first day. She works four long days a week, and has Tuesdays off, yay! It was so nice to spend time with her! We had Char and Cam and their friend Amanda with us, and we stopped at the grocery store on the way home. I let the girls pick out some bulk candy:)

At home, Abigail stopped by with flowers for my birthday! I made her a quick dinner, as she had just gotten home from work, and birthday or no birthday, the kids were all going to cleaning at church, followed by Chinese food and volleyball with the German girls who are visiting. So the house cleared out except for Paul and I and Camille and Amanda, who are still under youth age. Paul cooked up some taco meat and we had a simple dinner of taco salad. I went in the pool all by myself as the girls were busy playing in their room, and Paul was packing for his trip to Singapore on Friday.

I know I am old, and I know life goes on, but it was a rather lonely evening, and I had to put the brakes on the self-pity, after all, I had one of the most wonderful days ever, and I just didn't want the fun to end, ha.

Our weather is amazing, sunny and warm again today. I have things to do and places to go...there are well over a hundred people invited on Friday to the graduation party, and ha, I have yet to start getting things for it. One cannot do EVERYTHING at the last minute!

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

happy birthday, to me!

Happiness is waking up on your birthday, and seeing this on the counter:

He remembered! And, the gift isn't too shabby either, ha. The mug is the kind that keeps thing really hot, or really cold, and they really work well! I had one that lasted a few years before I lost track of it, and it was awesome. And there's an essential oils diffuser in the bag too, yay.

He's a good husband, a keeper. But can I tell you what he did? A friend went salmon fishing, fresh water salmon from Lake Ontario...of course Paul wanted some! It was in a bag in the refrigerator, and the bag leaked. It was in there leaking that stinky salmon juice all over, down in the drawers and underneath them, leaking away while we obliviously enjoyed life...then I realized that the smell lingered after he removed that salmon from the 'fridge, grilled it up, bagged and froze the he cleaned it up. He did. But it was too late, the whole refrigerator smelled, and the food in it smelled. Opened cheese and pepperoni smelled, it was not fun. So I offered Sonja K. twenty bucks to clean it out really well. She's amazing, she spend an hour, wiped down each jar and carton, cleaned up every nook and cranny, put fresh baking soda in there, and now it's fine. It was worth every penny. Anyway, I am not a fish person in the first place, so blaaaah, I didn't like the smell, but I know he didn't do it on purpose. When I see him in the kitchen, I have to just look the other way, ha.

So yeah, I'm 53 today. That seems like a joke, I do not feel 53, except for when I get up after sitting for too long and my knee does that trick thing where it threatens to buckle, and when I don't get enough sleep and I'm nodding off in the afternoon like a two year old. And when I look in the mirror and see the wrinkles, and the gray hair.

But I refuse to get old in spirit. I will not stop delighting in life, and I will not take a single day for granted.

Today, I am going along on an adventure with Emily, Kathryn, Evelyn, Suzanne, Sonja, Charlotte Claire, and Camille, as well as I think 14 girls from Germany who stayed in town after the volleyball camp. I am not sure if other girls are going too, but they had planned this and then realized it was my birthday. I said I certainly didn't mind, I could find plenty to do all by my lonesome, and I didn't even word it like that, ha. Shh, a day all to myself doesn't sound horrible! But they felt bad, and invited me, even though they are all young people. It's a waterfalls hike/picnic. I wasn't going to come, but decided to, even if the hike is too much for me, I can bow out in the middle and relax, and go for a swim. Evelyn sent me this text:

She knows how to warm a mama's heart, that's for sure. What more, may I ask, could an old lady ask for?

On our family chat, one daughter asked another what they should get me for my birthday, and I said please, nothing, the deck last year is still a good gift, it hasn't worn off, and I do not need anything else. The pool is clear, I have a big deck, and I am all set.

It's been a challenge to get that pool clear, it was nice before the cabin, then when we got home, blah. It has been worth it's weight in gold this year though. Last night I grilled burgers and hot dogs in my swim dress, I have several suits, and they are the old-lady type swim dress suits, and I like to swim, then grill, then jump back in the pool. Ha, no wonder it's so hard to keep the pool clear. But summertime....bare feet....ahh.

It's not all roses and puppy dogs though, with those dogs comes dog poop, and with all these kids comes clutter and messes. Yesterday we cleared out old coats and shoes for a good couple of hours. The sun was shining and the pool was calling, but it was after two o'clock before we got outside. I also had paperwork to do for homeschooling, and a few other things to take care of. And there is always laundry, always floors to sweep, doggies shed something terrible in the heat.

And the refrigerator mess. Joseph just opened it and said it still smells like fish. I think I'll get like ten boxes of baking soda. blah.

Joseph had already made coffee when I got up this morning, that's a good happy thing. He is engaged, and will be getting married one of these days, hasn't set a date yet, at least that we know of, he's funny about things. The little girls are chomping at the bit to take over his room, it's way bigger than theirs.

But of course mama here isn't in a hurry to see him move out. No way, no how. He IS 27, but he is a good kid, a gentle kid, a nice young man. He works from home, and I am so used to him being here, I can leave the house and he'll keep an eye on the kids, or let the dogs out, or he can help me drop off cars at the mechanic, ect. There are times and seasons in life, and I am honestly sad that the time for him living here at home is coming to an end. I'll still see him, of course, but it'll be different. Home is different when you get your own place. There have been so many seasons in my life with different kids, and if I could go back in time, I would realize how fleeting they were, and cherish the days more. When Aaron and Mirielle and Mali were in nursing school together, and would have a day off, and we would adventure...when Abigail lived here and was in college, and sometimes I would drive her and spend the day in that city. When Emily was in nursing school and I would pick her up and bring her here for the weekend.

Whatever the details, the times and seasons pass, and things change. The kids grow up, no matter how I try to keep them little, ha.

Last night I had a dream that I was offered a small toddler to adopt. She was 18 months old, had dark hair and eyes, and she clung to me, loved me, right away. I was so absolutely thrilled, I loved her completely, and one of the older kids made a huge cake that said, "Congratulations on the 17th child!" I was over the moon, in that dream.

There are so many babies in this world, so many kids who are not wanted, why can't someone give one to me? I know, I have enough, but if there was one little baby, one small toddler, who needed love and care....I would take them.

Having grandchildren has been amazing, I am thankful for them. Here is a nice picture of the youngest, little Wulf...

Isn't he beautiful?

And time is passing and the girls are getting ready and I don't want to make them late, so off I go...

Monday, July 9, 2018

all the time in the world...

That's what I have. The president of Procrastinators Anonymous, that's me. I don't need to do that now, the graduation party is not until Friday! Never mind that Paul is leaving for another two week trip to Singapore on Friday morning, and that my girls have friends from Germany in town, with plans to do this and that and the other thing, and sadly, "the other thing" is probs not Helping Mom Clean The House.

But, as we procrastinators know, it WILL get done. Or it won't, and I won't die, I haven't died yet from a messy house, although I have had that Die A Million Deaths feeling a few times when people drop by when things are at their worst. I remember one time a friend came by, and looked at the building blocks strewn across the kitchen floor, he looked at me, and asked, "Why don't you just pick them up?" Where do I even start with a question like that? Did he think I threw them all over because I like stepping on Legos? Or that I told the kids to have as much fun as they want, but to make sure they throw toys all over the kitchen as well as the living room?


The kids are growing up, but I've had little friends here a lot for the last few days. Miss Lydia was here on Thursday, and again yesterday. She gets here at 6 a.m. (her POOR mama! She works those 12 hour shifts and has to wake Lyd up and drive her here...:(). I have thoroughly enjoyed bonding with little Lydia, those quiet hours of the morning, keeping her busy and talking to her and singing songs and playing store...not too shabby.

I don't like media/movies/tablets, ect., for small children, but I make exceptions for this stretch in the early morning, as neither of us is ready to face the day yet. I played Peppa Pig for her, both of us cuddled in my chair,but the little stinker turns around and makes sure my eyes are open at two minute intervals. "Open your eyes, Grandma. Open your eyes!"

Sebastian and Linnea were here by 8 a.m. on Saturday, to spend the day with me. My own kids were all at volleyball camp, and Jon was going fishing with Paul, which was why I had the twins: their daddy and older brother were going fishing with Paul too, their mama at volleyball camp, so I offered to watch them. It was too much fun. We swam and colored and I told them stories, we went for ice cream, and to the store for more pool supplies. I forgot just how much fun small children are. They delight in the things older ones don't even notice anymore. On the way home from the store, sun-kissed and ice cream sticky, they were looking sleepy, so I sang them the nighty-night song, and they fell fast asleep.

Anyway. I do keep busy, somehow. Yesterday Paul and I went to a celebration for Nate and Danielle, some friends who moved down south and were married a few months back. Nate is from a family with fourteen kids, and spent lots of time here at our house back when the boys were growing up. It was a beautiful day to be outside with friends.

Anyway, I am making a list of all the things that I would like to get done by Friday, so that the girls here are aware and plan accordingly. In other words, don't make plans on Friday, we are panic cleaning, ha.

This morning, I got up and got the pool started, put in some more chlorine, weeded the patio, puttered around the yard picking things up and pulling weeds here and there, washed a load of towels, wiped down the counters, went to take my vitamins and ended up remembering to give the dogs their heartworm pills, which had to be disguised in raw burger, so they would take them. Suri somehow spit hers out like three times, so I finally had to hold her handle closed and tip her head back, she didn't like that much, but she needed the pill. (Sam calls the dogs' noses "the handle")

So I putter around and do things, the girls are all exhausted from their busy back to back schedule of cabin-summer conference at church - volleyball camp. They are still sleeping, and I know they'll wake up and have all sorts of plans. I still haven't heard all the stories of the fun they had. They stayed at hotels and had feasts and a gala, and way too much fun.

I have missed them.

Our weather here in the northeast is flawless. Today: brilliantly sunny and warm, high 89. (31.6c). It's what Mirielle calls "an umbrella sky". A blue umbrella. Here in central New York, we get all to many gray umbrellas, and of course we get too much snow, and our winters sometimes last right up to summer, no spring at all, ha. So when it's so gorgeous outside...we appreciate it.

And...who can resist the cherries and strawberries of the beginning of summer?

And now I am going to finish my list, but first, here's a pic of me with Kathryn...I think I look like each of the girls I take a picture with...