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, April 30, 2008

wednesday night again

We went to Lowes in Emily's car - what fun for Mr. Birthday boy, Jonathan. He loves the other vehicles in the family, besides the van. We bought a microwave....then, we were out of eggs so we went to BJs....Jon got to ride in another car-car cart! Then home again, time to cook dinner: burgers on the grill, fries in the oven, and veggies in the new microwave. Then some keylime pie I got for 1/2 price the other day, to celebrate Jon's birthday, even though he had a party the other day. We make birthdays last a long time here....

Our main bathroom has a long counter with two sinks. I'm glad we had some vision when we built this house (I say "we", but I was home holding down the fort with 5 kids, the oldest in kindergarten, we were expecting #6 when we moved in)....anyway, when 4 kids are brushing their teeth at a time, I'm glad for the two sinks. And, we built the house with 3 full baths, which doesn't seem enough, but really it is. My brother and my husband built the house after work and on weekends, it took about 9 months.

We finished dinner, I did the dishwasher, washed the pans, and made their lunches for tomorrow. Now daddy is tucking them in...I feel a bit guilty sitting here, but Camille is taking an evening nap, and I really should get her up again. It seems so hard to carve out a little time here and there....

The reason I started writing a second post for the day: I thought I had something to say. I can't for the life of me remember what it was. Possibly because when these kids go to bed, the march out to the livingroom begins. Kathryn doesn't officially "live" in their room anymore, but she likes it in there, so she camps out on their floor. And Sonja just rolled off her bed onto her....and Charlotte knows she causes a huge stir when she runs down the hall, into their room yelling goodnight to them. They think she's hilarious. Molly just got Camille up for me, and Charlotte Claire is still up, and being a monster. So, time for me to go.

today jonathan robert is 4 years old....

I remember the day he was born....right on my due date. I went in on a Thursday afternoon for a check because I had not slept in 2 days, and was having contractions. I was 4 centimeters dilated. Knowing how quickly I've had some of the other babies, and this being my 15th child, (counting Robert, who was "born" the previous June), the midwife sent me directly to the hospital. Please can I go home and get my stuff, I asked. So I drove home, and Emily went back with me to the hospital. I remember it was a beautiful day and the kids were outside, and when I shouted to them that I was going to the hospital to have the baby, they didn't believe me...When Sonja was born, two years previously, my sister came to visit me during labor, with 7 teenage girls: a few of her daughters, a few of mine, and a few of my brother's....I was so near to giving birth, and was in a huge birthing room, I told them they could stay if they wanted to. They did. They were lined up on the side of the room....and Sonja's birth was amazing. I kept it secret how each contraction was bringing her so far down.....then I told the midwife it was time, and she pretty much fell out. Just amazing. The girls all held her before I did. They were pretty awed...Emily really liked it and started thinking about being a midwife. So, she came with me for Jon's birth. She is such a comforting presence. She is low-key, she rubbed my back, and encouraged me. Paul was there too, and Em's being there had no intruding feeling to it. She got a bit queasy once, seeing me in pain near the end, and had to leave, but she was back for the birth. Then she came with me when Charlotte was born, and was again quite a comfort. Camille was born too quickly after my arrival at the hospital, and Emily was at Walmart with Jon and Charlotte, and missed it. Anyway, she is still going to college along with her job as a nurse, she wants to be a midwife....

Anyway, I guess my body got tired, and I got stuck at 6-7 centimeters. I was just exhausted. I had been in labor for days....I had resisted pitocin, I wanted to go on my own with no medication. But by 6:30 in the morning, my resistance was wearing, pitocin was started. The contractions got stronger quickly, and Jonathan was born at I think 8:10 am on April 30, 2004. He cried for the first hour, but boy was he cute. He had a full head of dark hair, and beautiful blue eyes. The kids all came to see him when he was just hours old. A boy, after 5 girls in a row! I felt that God was being extra merciful to send us a boy, after losing Robert. One thing that surprised me a bit though, I was still sad about Robert...anyway, Mr. Jon has 5 sisters directly older than him, and two younger.....and he still loves cars and trucks and tractors. He has 11 sisters altogether, and 4 brothers. But Samuel, closest brother in age to Jon, is 12. At least he saved most of his toys.

In honor of Jon's birthday, we are going to Lowes, the toilet store. Our kids really like that store. I absolutely love it, but try to stay out of it because it makes it hard to be content. It just fills my head with ideas of all the improvements we could make...but today, we have a purpose. We are buying a microwave. I have looked at Target, Wal-Mart, and BJ's online...I have a $10 off coupon for Lowes, and they sell some bigger microwaves for reasonable prices....And, they have really nice car-car carts. Race-car carts, Jon says. I've been trying to get going all day, but after being gone yesterday, I keep finding things to do here....

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

to the airport

I brought lucky Aaron and his nice generous big sister, Emily-the-nurse, to the airport today. They are flying to England. They're staying in a hostel, in Manchester, and taking a day in London. Emily has always been a voracious reader....she apparently fell in love with Wales when she was a child, and has always wanted to go there, from reading so many books that took place there. Since nurses get decent pay, and she still lives at home, she can afford to go there. It may seem strange for a 23 year old girl to travel with her 15 year old brother, but Aaron is such a nice kid. Paul has been calling him, "Traveling Buddy" for weeks now. Aaron has spent countless hours researching what they should do there, and studying the roadmaps so they won't get lost. I told him to take pictures of Emily driving on the "wrong" side of the road. On the way to the airport, she wanted me to drive in the passing lane so she could pretend.....

She may be 23 years old, but on the way to the airport, I asked her if she packed any How about something for like pepto-bismol? no? Well, good thing we have time to stop at the dollar store! What would they do without their mother?

I couldn't drive 45 minutes (one way) , and just turn around and come back home! No sir, I had to get my gas money's worth. We went to a different Target, and got some good stuff....a winter jacket for Jon for $8.74....some adorable tights for the girls for next winter....and a few pairs of shorts for the kids for soccer for FULL PRICE, ouch...oh well. Then we went to the grocery store AGAIN, we were just there on Friday....we needed some apples and bananas, and bread and milk and orange juice.....$84 and two free ballons later, we were on the way home. We made sandwiches in the van, and then stopped for gas....I had $1.70 off per gallon for spending so much at the grocery I got 20 gallons for $39.....then, finally home....and as soon as I walked in the door, I regretted not doing more before I left this morning...but did you ever try to get out the door at 9:30 am with two travelers, and 5 little kids, including a nursing baby? I tried not to leave a trail....after Charlotte Claire and Camille got tucked into bed, I did some laundry and swept the floor...and here I am. All the school kids are home now, and I have to think about dinner.

I think car-carts are more a curse than a blessing. Jon wouldn't think of a shopping trip without one....and of course Charlotte Claire wants in, too. Jon just stays in there like a good boy, but she: gets out everytime the cart stops. And when she gets out, she dances around, and if the cart starts going before she gets a chance to get back in, she shrieks...And today, Camille was very tired. She had just fallen asleep in her car-seat when we arrived at the I carried the carseat in, and she woke up. And fussed. She wanted to be carried. So, I carried her with one hand, pushed the cart with the other, and turned around every 2 minutes to remind Margaret (she was pushing the car-car cart) not to run into me. After we went through the check-out, I gave Camille to Kathryn while I held the balloons and helped Jon into his coat, and Margaret held the wiggly Charlotte Claire....The front-end manager came by and said she was glad I got some balloons. "I was a good girl", I said. "You are a good girl, you are a saint", she said. Well, it was nice of her to say so, but I know the truth. It's a fight to be good, and be patient. But I do love going "bye-bye" with my kids. We took the long way home, so we could see the dam on the river, Jon loves it. Charlotte just loves going places. She gets wind of going, and she says, "carseat, carseat"....

I was supposed to make lasagna for dinner tonight, oops....too late now. Maybe spaghetti and meatballs....I suppose I should get my lazy rear out of this chair and start cooking. My kids are outside playing, they absolutely love it there. It is chilly out, but sunny. They have so much energy, they just ride their bikes and jump on that trampoline. If I could clone myself, one of me would go out there, too. And one would go throw those clothes in the dryer....and one would go get in bed with my book....and a cup of tea.

Monday, April 28, 2008


Okay, this is Charlotte Claire last night: Emily made homemade pancakes for dinner....Charlotte Claire decided to try them. She put one on a plate, and started digging on. Excuse me, miss, but you eat in your highchair with a bib on. Doesn't hurt to try, I guess....
This is Suzanne, on Saturday night, showing us how yummy her dinner looks. Mariel cooked - grilled chicken alfredo with fettucine and seasoned green was really good.

Jonathan and Sonja....He is turning 4, and she's turning 6 on Saturday....

This is Jon watching "Alvin and the Chipmunks" after the birthday party was all over and the guests had gone home. He was exhausted.....he looked like I felt.

day off, power was out

I woke up this morning, and didn't quite have to get out of bed yet, so I enjoyed snoozing for a few more minutes. Then: the dreaded sound of silence, followed by the beeping of the electric smoke detectors....the power was out! All the fans turned off, waking Camille, then I realized we have no water when the power goes off. Rats. The six older, first bus trip kids were bummed, so M. called the power company: 4 hrs, maybe more, maybe less. She called the high school: yes, power was out. Yes, school was in session. And they had to go. The 4 elementary school kids were a bit luckier. I wasn't about to try to get their clothes out with a flashlight, it was dark in the laundry, Kathryn, Evelyn, Suzanne, and Sonja are home with Jon, Charlotte Claire, Camille, and I. They are playing with all the birthday presents. Apparently, Evelyn licked a beanbag toy and threw it at Kathryn, and Kathryn shrieked and tried to hit they sat in chairs at the kitchen table for a while. I don't want to be dragged into it. And Jon still has his morning pullup on. He has problems with attachments to these things, or maybe he just resists taking it off because he's going through a rebellious thing. I don't want to make a big daily deal about it, but he has to listen to me on this one. It is yucky.

It is really pouring out today, and I love it. There's nothing nicer than catching up on the Monday workload without that beautiful weather calling me, didn't stop these guys from venturing out today though. All the vehicles are gone (Emily's car, Abigail's car, Ben's car, and Paul's truck), except the van, so the open drive way was luring them to ride their bikes and Sonja's new scooter. When the first child came in crying (Suzanne, she fell and scraped her leg), I decided that that was enough. Suzanne was pretty wet, and they all had to change into clean inside I told them to stay in the house. It can't really be safe to be riding in the pouring rain on a wet driveway....

So, Paul finished the bathroom. He tiled the floor, and the wall above the shower/tub, and he tiled behind the toilet. He took out the vanity and sink, and replaced it with a pedestal sink. He spackled, sanded, and painted the walls, and installed another fan. After working on it for 2 days , taking breaks only to eat and run to the hardware store, he was so sore he could barely walk. He works in at a desk all day, and even though he works out, this was still a bit rough on him. He is 46 years old, which is unbelievable.....anyway, I don't think he is up for doing an addition on the back of the house. We barely fit at the table. When we're all here, that's 15 at the table, one in the highchair, one on a bar-stool at the counter, and Camille on my lap. When she graduates to the highchair.....yikes. So, I would like to add on the back and make our dining room huge. When the kids start getting married and the grandchildren start coming, we will only need more room. But I don't think it's going to happen.

Miss Charlotte Claire is up now. She always grabs some toys to bring out to the living room when she gets up. Her and Jon like lots of toys out. Who in the heck bought all this stuff, anyway?

Sunday, April 27, 2008

ahh, the party's over

But, boy was it fun. Besides our kids, we had Eileen and Olivia, and Grace, and Carmen, and Zach, and Toby, and Hannah, and Irene...I am glad it was such a beautiful day for a party. The kids were here for 4-5 hours....we had hot dogs and macaroni and cheese, cheese puffs, pretzels, carrots, broccoli, and cerlery with dip....then chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting, then ice-cream cones....then prize bags with candy....see why it was nice to have it outside? Not just sticky, but the energy those kids have, especially with the extra sugar...they bounced on the trampoline, and rode bikes around the yard, and played in the sandbox....It's funny because when you have so many extra kids over, they go home and it seems like there aren't very many here....ha.

Charlotte Claire has found herself a lollypop, so I had Sam put her in the booster seat with a bib...and she just finished up and is getting down, so I had to go wash her up. I do not like sticky. That's why I think it's kind of funny that I have so many kids. I remember when I was young, and we had a camp on Lake Ontario, and I hated sand in my bed. Just couldn't stand it. I would wash my feet before going to bed, then wrap them in towels to walk down the hall to my bunk....and one night, my little brother put a handful of sand in my bed....I can't remember what I did back, but I'm pretty sure I didn't just smile and shrug it off. I don't like stepping on anything but a clean floor. I don't mind barefoot outside, but in the house the floors have to be clean. Which is challenging here, to say the least. I also am kind of crazy about sticky. But it's good, because it rubs off on the kids, and even when they're younger than two, if they get sticky they come to get washed...

I can't say enough about how much I am enjoying this spring. Being outside after the long long winter is yummy. But I miss my mother so much. It is really too much to even think about, her being gone. She absolutely loved lilacs, and daffodils. Even though my life is so full, I can't comprehend how I can live without her. She asked for so little. I really wish I had given her more.

Emily wants to bake some cookies, yay! We don't really need any today, but hey, if she wants to bake some....Her and Aaron are leaving Tuesday for England. They are going to Manchester, climbing some mountains, and taking a day trip into London. They want to avoid the tourist-y places, though. Guess who gets to take them to the airport? Jon, Charlotte Claire, Camille, and I. It is a 45 minute trip one way. But we'll make it fun.

The kids and I were talking last night, and someone said that there is no such thing as tomorrow. Because it just doesn't exist. It is only a theory. Or a hope. But we do have today. So let's not waste it.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

stormy saturday

Due to the stormy afternoon forecast, the birthday party is postponed until tomorrow, which promises to be 68 degrees and sunny. We're having 8 kids over, and added to our bunch, outside is a better place for a party. It is so pretty outside right now. The green of the leaves is so fragile and light....the pear tree is blossoming, and the bush with the yellow flowers is in full bloom, whatever it is callled. And the tulips are blooming as the daffodils fade. The dandelions are sprouting, it's time for mowing the lawn. I personally don't see dandelions as weeds. Probably because I haven't quite grown up yet. I admit I don't like how the stems stain clothes (did you know that? the invisible liquid in the stem magically creates black stains on clothes, especially cute, new clothes)....but I still like to pick them and do the "mamma had a baby and it's head popped off'' thing....and when the kids pick me a bouquet, I pretend delight.

The little girls have worked hard on their room, and of course that spurs them to play in there, which in turn messes it up again. And so goes life. I need encouragement to look at the big picture here, not just the piles of trials...sometimes I think it would more satisfying to have an occupation in which all one labors for is more permanent, more lasting....I mean, I swept and mopped the floor....and when I do a job like that, I don't just start, work, finish. I stop to get Charlotte in the high chair, cut a bagel for Sonja, wipe Jon, stop a fight.....then, when the job is done, it doesn't STAY done. I suppose that is the same with everything, after all, nothing lasts forever. But sometimes it seems like the forces of the universe are arrayed against my efforts to keep this place nice and shiny. But when I get a glimpse of the big picture, when I get my vision fixed on the Heavenly things, wow. What a difference. I am preaching myself out of feeling sorry for myself here. I feel tired, and sick of all of the work. But I need to persevere, and not grow weary of doing good. God has given me these children, and He will give me the strength and wisdom to raise them. I just have to remember that just because I think things should be a certain way, that's not neccessarily how God has it go for me. Does He really care if the floor is spotless? Will I get bonus points in Heaven? No, He wants me to take things right! He wants me to be thankful. Did you ever try to mix thankfulness with complaining? It is impossible. Thankfulness is full of power from God, power that overcomes all whining and complaining. I am glad I sat down and wrote this, and thought a bit about how I'm feeling today. I still may cry about something stupid, because emotions are real and alive, but I will not give in to feeling sorry for myself. I will believe God, that he has given me everything I need.

Friday, April 25, 2008


A red helium balloon is on the ceiling. I figure if we're going to spend $355 at the grocery store, we may as well get Charlotte her free balloon. This particular balloon actually made it home, and in the door without going to balloon heaven. Which may have been the best option for it. When all those kids wake up in the morning, that balloon is going to be the most "shared" item in the house.

Molly was taking care of Charlotte Claire in the grocery store today, and a lady must have assumed that Molly was Charlotte's mom, and told her to just wait 'til she's a teenager. Molly is only 14, just turned 14 in March. It's alarming to me that she looks that old, but this has happened quite a few times. The other thing is that so many people are so negative about having teenagers. When Sam turns 13 this summer, he'll be the 8th teen we've had in our family.....and besides Benjamin, who seems to find trouble, even though he's a good kid, all the others are great. As long as I don't ask too much of them. Or honk when I get home with groceries, they hate that.

When I go shopping, I like to get bargains. When I decide to put something in the cart based on the price marked on the shelf tag, I expect to pay that amount. When an item rings up for more than the shelf price, I have to speak up. This happened today. I bought 4 bags of Tootsie Rolls and 2 bags of Tootsie-Pops, shelf price:$1.00 at the register, $1.99....I told the cashier, and she told the manager. He said, I can give you one or two of those without checking the price, but NOT ALL THOSE! Should I have to explain that I'm having a party? And what if I wasn't, what if I was just going to eat Tootsie Rolls all the way home...? Anyway, the clerks talk to each other like I'm not there...."SHE says they're only a dollar." They checked, the shelf said a buck, so my favorite guy came over and adjusted the price. Apology, please. ha. Last week, I bought some cocoa mix, the shelf price was 99cents, and it rang up $1.39. I had 5 boxes. The manager went and checked, and said, "Give them to her for 99 cents, but the tag is wrong." Wait, they have the price wrong.....and they're doing me a favor? Now, all this may seem petty, but it adds up.
And, it is the principle....

Suzanne and I practiced her spelling pretty thoroughly this week and she got a 90%....she spelled "child" as cild....she was so bummed! But I thought she did great. Sam had to bring a sheet to school to drape over himself as he presented his Greek God paper....poor kid, 6th grade. Sonja, my kindergartener, came home the other day so excited: she had won a prize at school! The kids all had fun speculating, maybe an Ipod, they thought. The next day she came home with a "Go Army" necklace. Wow. Kathryn and Evelyn both lost their MP3 players on the bus this week, and they suspect a boy who has a new one that looks just like Kathryn's. Do I call his Mom? What if it's really his, and Kathryn finds hers under her bed?

I'm always in trouble. I was late picking M. up at school, she waited 15 minutes for me. But I had my reasons: I made home-made macaroni and cheese, tried to leave all the pans clean, had to feed Charlotte Claire something healthy, and wash her up, had to nurse Camille, put a clean bib on her, find some cute socks for Charlotte that go with her white buckle shoes, pack some cookies for Molly......and M. doesn't even want to hear my excuses. Then, she finds out I forgot our list. Yeah, we were so organized this week, and I forgot the list. And, I forgot to grab my cell phone. I hate cell phones. I forget to charge it, charge it and forget to put it in my purse, don't even know my own number. And, I don't know which button to push when it rings. Good thing people who really need to talk to me are persistant. Anyway, then I go shopping, spend too much money, take too much time, and have to be mean to get them to carry the stuff in. And put it away....I bought some things for the little girls, but just put the Target bags in my room because I didn't feel like dealing with what for who and why not for me...

Yeah, it's a thankless job, but somebody's gotta do it.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

our thursday

Well, the house is not spotless, but we did get some things done here this afternoon. The kids pitched in quite willingly. The 4 little kids who share a room can't keep it clean at all. They need help in there. Everytime we get it all fixed up, and they swear they'll never get it messy again, never bring all those papers and crayons in, never leave their underwear on the floor....but after a week or so, it starts up again....Obviously, there are a lot of kids in a small room. But that's how it is....and we are trying to clean it up again, for the birthday party on Saturday. It's nice to have a clean, fun room to bring your friends into when you turn 6 years old, like Sonja.

M. made us a delicious dinner tonight: grilled chicken breast, crumbled bacon, and green peppers on tortillas (fajitas).....and watermelon. It was hard to put some aside for Emily and Abigail, who were in classes....but we did. Then, I gave Camille to Joseph, (16), and fulfilled a promise I made to my kids if they cleaned up for me: I made chocolate chip cookies. A double batch, with mostly brown sugar (as opposed to white), 1/2 butter and 1/2 shortening, and lots of chocolate chips. I baked 4 sheets of them, and put a small amount of dough in the refrigerator. Which is good, because we didn't set any aside for poor Abigail. And Sam only got one with a bite out of it. So, tomorrow I'll bake up the rest and give them first dibs..

Tomorrow I have to take Jonathan, Charlotte Claire, and Camille, and pick up Mariel and Molly from school, andgo shopping. We have our meals planned for the next week based on the stuff on sale, and have to also get stuff for the birthday party. And a present for Sonja. Even though I have lots of stuff in my closet, that I've bought on clearance and socked away. Because Sonja saw the Target ad, with a $19 scooter on the cover....and now she wants it for her birthday. I sure hope they have some left, or at least one left. If not, I may get her a bike, because hers is so small. So another busy day....

it's always something, again

Here are some pictures of Charlotte Claire: she was hungry. She climbs in herself, and buckles up. She also can unbuckle, a good thing to remember when I think I can run to to bathroom quick while she's in a safe place. Camille had her first taste of baby cereal today. She would rather grab the spoon. Here she is in her seat.

Well, now the microwave is broke. I'm pretty old, so I remember the good 'ol days when microwave ovens were only for the wealthy. Way before they creeped in and became a necessity. We have gone through 3 or 4 of them now. And this last one was the nicest model in
Wal-Mart. I don't know how old it is, but it is STILL the nicest one in Wal-mart, so it can't be that old....It just burned out. I guess for our family, microwave years are like dog years, 7 for ery one human one....
When I drag myself out to the kitchen in the morning to microwave (is that a verb?) the water for my coffee, I have to remember that it's broken, and put on the kettle...still easier than a pot of coffee. And way less caffeine in instant. That way I can have more cups without feeling jittery. So, is a microwave a necessity? I would say yes. I mean, microwave popcorn-how can one live without it? And how do you cook those "baked" potatoes on a hot day? Do we have to stove-top boil the frozen veges every night? And all those little baggies of left-overs the kids eat after school, do they have to eat them cold? Jeez, compared to the starving children in Africa, this is obviously a we-can-live-without-it, but other than that, we need it.

I was telling my sister recently how I learned a new word, can't remember it now, but then I saw it in two more places that same day. What is the word for that phenonomen?(spelling...?) She just got back from Georgia, and it happened to her while she was there. Now that I've brought it up, will it happen to others? Does it happen all the time and we don't notice it?

I asked my sister if she would like my pass word so she can come on here and write stuff, too. She is the mom of 7 girls, and one grand-daughter, and she has some good stories. I think it would be interesting to have her take on things here. We'll see.
Charlotte Claire is running out of steam, as we say when a child needs a nap, so why is she going faster and faster? Since I have been on this computer, she has tried to change from her diaper to a pull-up, served herself some Princess flakes cereal, in a bowl at the table, but at least she didn't attempt to add milk, she got on the table and helped herself to Jon's lunch that he wasn't done with yet, (he forms attachments to his meals, and doesn't want things thrown away.....but that's another story), opened the closet and got out the fishing game, and dumped out the whole bin of play food and she's walking around in Jon's sandals.....not allowed! So, goodbye.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

trying this again

We went to Wal-Mart today, after the dr. appt. Have to get our gas money's worth. I got a nice comfortable lawn chair, a new yellow rake, some shorts for Aaron and Sam, some skorts for Evelyn, and some food: bagels, milk, eggs, cheese, juice, peppers, ham, and bread. Charlotte Claire is a little social bug. She can't talk very well, but she points to things, and says what words she knows. She smiles and laughs at/with people. Today, when we got in line at Wal-mart, she peed one too many times in her diaper, and it flowed out to the floor, where it splashed on Abigail's foot, and made a puddle....Ab ran over to the Subway for some napkins, and Charlotte just laughed. She kept saying, "Pee, pee!" We went back to see if Abigail's car was done, she had the oil changed, and it wasn't. So I took Charlotte to the bathroom and changed her. Of course I didn't have extra clothes for her, but luckily it was warm today, and she didn't look too funny in her shirt and diaper. My sister happened to be in Wal-Mart today too, so we sat on some benches and talked awhile. When we meet up, we can burn up the time easily.

Paul is taking the next two days off from work to tile the floor in the downstairs bathroom. It will be nice to have him around, but different. I'll feel lazy if I get on the computer in the middle of the day. Even though I'm not. Well, I kind of am. I know darn well I could work alot harder around here, but there does have to be a balance. I need down time, too. Today, I spent some time outside with the kids, and it's just delicious. I've been letting them play with the hose, with the water on just a trickle, and they fill up the sand-box top, and fill up buckets. And Jon puts the hose on Charlotte's head....he just loves to hear her scream. I ask him if he would like me to do that to him, and no, of course not. Maybe tomorrow after school I'll do the chore list thing. I write down all the kids (except Em, who will be working, and Ab, at classes all day, Ben, working) names and choose a job that needs to be done, that seems appropriate for their age and personality....then they have to each do their job after school, before dinner time.....when I get them properly encouraged, we can get the stairs vacuumed, the bathrooms cleaned, the living room picked up and vacuumed, the kitchen floor swept, the deck cleaned, maybe some windows cleaned, or tables dusted....some newspaper sorted and cleaned sorted, laundry hung up.....Hmm, I think I will. They all agree: they like the chore list afternoons because it accompllishes so much, and they do like it clean and shiny in here. But: they feel cheated if everyone doesn't pitch in and do their part. So they get some pressure from each other to do their jobs....and I certainly praise them to the skies when they get done!! I can't possibly make them do this on a daily basis, because they're in school all day, and need some play time. And everyone has to pitch in already with the table setting, serving, and clean up of supper. Aaron just finished the dishwasher.

dr. day for mommy

Telebonkers! That is what they yell when the phone rings. The telebonker box, that is the phone. Sam likes to honk Camille's butt. Molly is flying Camille up in the air like a float in a parade....Camille is getting irresistably cute, cuter every day. Her pudgy little arms go up and down when she's excited, like they're being yanked by invisible strings.

Anyway, I went to the dr today, and I cannot believe how much younger my doctor is than me. How can that possibly be? He is a nice guy. And my blood pressure was low, 110/70, my good cholesterol was high, my bad stuff was low, my sugar levels were low, my knee is better, and I lost 5 lbs. So, maybe I shouldn't be quite so terrified tonight of dying in my sleep. The older I get, the more anxiety creeps in about my health. And certain things are scarier than others. For instance, a heart attack or stroke, just hearing the symptoms makes me a little dizzy. But being hit by a car doesn't seem to affect me. And cancer sounds awful, but doesn't terrify me. It's a darn good thing that God is in charge of my life and death, because I had to choose, what would I choose?

M. and are going to do some meal planning, and go shopping on Friday....we're trying to be a little more organized. We are also going to have a birthday party on Saturday for Sonja, who is turning 6, and Jon, who will be four. With lots of extra kids over. I'm thinking of a pinata, and a hot dog cook-out.

I can't write right now, M. is thinking out loud about meals, we can't even decide on the first one. I'll have to try this later.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

out and about

If it seems like I'm always going somewhere, it's because I'm always going somewhere. Today, it was to the dentist for cleanings. Molly, Kathryn, Suzanne, Sonja, and I, with baby Camille....And since it is 14 miles to the dentist, one way, we of course had to get our money's worth in gas, so we had to go somewhere we went to the grocery store, Wegmans. They are a bit pricey, except for their specials. Split chicken breast, bone in, for 99cents a pound....excellent on the grill. And carrots, bananas, apples, grapes, and a first watermelon of the season. Yummy.

So, home with the groceries, feed Camille, put stuff away, get dinner started, eat, with everyone home except Ben..then clean up, showers for Kathryn, Ev, Suz, Sonja, Jon, Charlotte, and a bath for Camille. Then story time....then bedtime. Ahhh. Then all the older kids came in the door from cleaning the meeting hall, and a bit more chaos....but nice chaos. Now it is quiet and I need to go to bed...I feel like I've been in motion all day, and haven't accomplished anything. But I have: I have loved and hugged and comforted, straightened out problems, and encouraged, fed washed, changed, dressed, brushed, wiped......

And: I, the very forgetful toothfairy, have remembered to leave Suzanne a dollar on only the second night after she lost her tooth!

Monday, April 21, 2008

monday night, and tired already

Well, my brother came over after dinner, much to the kids' delight, they love their uncle, and they know he's going to hook up the hot, when he arrived, they were happy. But, he got called into, maybe tomorrow.

Charlotte Claire just loves me today. She's starting to talk more, and you'd think it was the first time I had a toddler learn to talk, I'm so fascinated by it. She'll say one word and get that faraway look, and if I know what she's trying to say, I'll try to give her words for what she's saying....she is picking words up fast now. She loves to talk about our trip to the zoo last week. She had a rough day, though. Besides skinning her knee, she fell (or threw herself, she was mad) out of Kathryn's arms on the tile by the door, and fell directly on the back of her head...I heard the terrible thud, and then the screaming, and I truly expected to see blood. But she just had a large bump, which I held ice on. I kept her up quite late tonight just to make sure she was okay, and she seemed to be.

We go through band-aids like crazy.....and it is band-aid season, with all this nice weather.

I am so relieved that Emily doesn't have to work tomorrow. And she has class, but is going to skip for some good that is relevant because: I don't have to bring Charlotte Claire and Mr. Jonny to the dentist! The appointment is for Molly, Suzanne, Sonja, and me...that's at least an hour. And we'll have Camille. I like bringing the kids places, but the dentist office is small and echo-y (is that a word?), with hard-wood floors....they get so bored there. And I get exhausted trying to keep them happy for that long.

I'm thinking I might go up to the cemetary to visit my parents' graves soon. I miss them so much. I used to call my mother every morning after the school bus came. Sometimes when it's very quiet here, and everyone is occupied, I miss her the most. Because those times I would pick up the phone and call her...just for nothing. It was very common for me to call her at a random time, and she would swear she had just picked up the phone to call me. She died when Charlotte Claire was only 7 weeks old....and she never even saw Camille. She would love them. She would love it that Charlotte isn't afraid of people. She would love Camille's sunniness, and easy smiles. And I'm sure she would enjoy conversations with Jon, who has never seemed childlike, I call him a little old man....but she wouldn't like the little fits he pitches when he doesn't get his way. She died before Emily finished nursing school, she would have rejoiced when she passed her boards, and would be so proud of her just being a nurse. I could go on and on. But I won't......One of the things I find I really like is talking about my parents, especially with my siblings. I think my kids are getting sick of me talking about them, but maybe not. When we remember things they said and did, it seems to sort of bring them alive again in my mind...

it's always something

No, we never get ahead here....Paul got the nice screen door back on yesterday. But the lock, which I don't need to keep people from getting in, but to keep Charlotte Claire from escaping, doesn't work. So we have to keep the big inside door closed anyway.

This morning, after getting 10 kids out the door for school, I headed into the laundry room for my favorite Monday morning routine....and I smelled propane. Really strongly. I called Paul at, I'm a wimp and I don't know what to do...I had to drag a chair in there, stand on it, reach behind the dryer, and shut off the propane, then set a fan in there and check later to see if it dissapated. It did, so my nice husband is bringing home a new connection tonight, as he knows living without the dryer is very difficult. He will get that fixed somewhere between dinner and driving the kids to soccer practice....

But the good news: my nice brother might come over tonight to start on the hot tub!!! I really can't wait. I hope it's not too difficult to maintain.....I think I just want to get it running to feel like we've gotten ahead...No, I want to get in it and relax....

I brought Jon and Charlotte Claire outside today. It was very warm out. Charlotte fell on the sidewalk and skinned her knee, I think it's a first for her. I felt it. I ran over to her, and she put out her arms to be picked up, and my heart just broke for her. She seemed so shocked! We washed it with the hose, then went out back for a swing..she was whining, so we came back out front and I let them play with the hose...I think it felt good on her knee.....

Sunday, April 20, 2008

bye-bye to the bunny

Mr. Bunny W. died peacefully in his cage yesterday, leaving behind to mourn him one large brood of children, a dog named Champ, two cats, General Thunder and Kitten Force, and one chinchilla named Chinchy. And two adults, parents of the brood of children, who were secretly a little relieved.

Mr. Bunny was buried in a cd player box in the woods next door. Several teary-eyed children were in attendance. He was a dwarf rabbit, and the cutest little bunny ever. Charlotte Claire could snap out of almost any tantrum with a bribe of going to feed Mr. Bunny a carrot. She keeps declaring, "Bunny's night-night!", as she has no idea about death. Jon doesn't quite get it either.....

The father to the brood of children told the mother of the brood NOT to get another bunny. This Mr. Bunny was bunny #2 for the family, and the said father did forgive said mother for that purchase, as mother was under extreme pressure from begging children, and 8 week old bunnies ARE irresistable...

The father, who was admittedly fond of Mr. Bunny, won't miss the task of watering and feeding Mr. Bunny, when the children forgot. Or reminding the children to clean Mr. Bunny's cage. The mother is wondering how to get Charlotte Claire to snap out of her tantrums. Maybe get some chinchilla treats? Or maybe kitty or doggy treats?

Well anyway, rest in peace little Mr. Bunny. Thank you for putting up with so many walks on your bunny-leash, and unwanted cuddles. You never asked for anything, and were so thankful for your salad scraps....

so many pregnancies

I've been thinking lately about how much of my life I've spent pregnant: 158 months, which is roughly 13 years and 2 months. I had my first two children, then a miscarriage. Then eleven more beautiful children. Then a stillborn baby boy, Robert William, in June of 2003. Then I got pregnant 6 weeks later for Jonathan Robert, who was an unbelievable blessing. He was born April 30, 2004. Then I had 3 miscarriages in a row, and thought my baby days were over. Then I got pregnant again, and carried Charlotte Claire without any problems. She was born in May of 2006. Then, pregnant again, for the 21st time, and I started spotting. I was sure I was miscarrying again, and the doctor confirmed there was no baby, by ultrasound. I was only 8 weeks pregnant. I went on spotting for weeks, and sometimes downright flooding ( I bled ALOT)while I dealt with the loss. I then went in for a check-up, and the urine test was still positive. That happens, they said. Pregnancy hormones take a while to leave your system. I went in the next week, and I had stopped spotting. The urine test was STILL positive, so my midwife sent me over to the lab for some bloodwork. She called me the next day, and said I'd better come in. Oh no, I thought, ovarian cancer or something .....because after all, I was feeling horrible. I was naseaus, exhausted, and sad. My father had died unexpectedly a few months before, and I was feeling very mortal. I kind of suspected I had cancer. Anyway, when I got to the OB office, I was told my blood hormones were very high. They took me down for a sonogram, and OH MY GOD there was a sweet little baby, 14 weeks gestation, waving at me, the fabulously happy mom. Did I lose a twin? I don't know. What really happened? I don't know. But I was less than relaxed for the entire pregnancy...although extremely thankful and excited.....then Camille Anaya was born healthy and happy right on time........So, other than the 6 weeks after losing Robert, I have been pregnant or nursing for 24 years now....

One pregnancy in my teens, Emily Anne, when I was 19.
6 born in my twenties.
7 in my thirties. (not counting Robert)
and 2 in my forties, so far!

This is just something I've been thinking about. Last night we watched a movie in which the people were cross-country skiing....which I liked to do when I was young....and it made me sad for a few seconds....but everything's relative. I get so much joy and satisfaction from being mommy to these guys. Sometimes it seems kind of deja-vue, haven't we done this before.....over and over...but they are unique, and each child seems to present something that I've never encountered before....

Saturday, April 19, 2008

more pictures

Camille Anaya with me, the young and beautiful mom...and here we have the winner of the tricycle tussle, D.

I just looked through the pictures that Margaret took and boy are they cute, so I have to add a few more.

afternoon at my brother's place

We spent a nice afternoon outside at my brother's house. His wife, is also one of my closest friends. We've been friends since middle-school....I brought her home one time, my brother fell head over heels.....they've been married for almost 25 years, and have 12 kids. My kids love going over to their place. They served burgers on the grill, and we had: donuts, half-moon cookies, starburst, plus lots of fresh veggies and dip....and soda for the kids...they jumped on the trampoline, and ran around was a really nice time. Sometimes you have a day that just seems like there's a blessing over it....Charlotte Claire was good, and friendly, Jon was happy (it helped that Uncle T. gave him some really cool Matchbox cars), and baby Camille was so good. She took a little snooze in her pram right in the middle of everything....

This is a picture of my niece, D., and Charlotte Claire, fighting over the tricycle....they are 9 months apart, and as they grow older, that gap seems smaller...they are the most photographed kids in their families!

joe is home

Joseph had a nice trip. He went 4-wheeling on atv s, went to Wyoming, Colorodo, and New Mexico, where our friends live. I asked him if he missed me, my nice handsome 16 year old son (soon to be 17), and he said he didn't. He missed his guitar, and the cat. Which seems quite true, as he has been his room playing that guitar all day....

Okay, it is warm out. Almost 80 degrees, and not a cloud to be seen. So, the girls are in their room with a blanket over their mini-blinds, playing hotel. It is too hot out, apparently. We were all out there this morning for a while. Six kids were crowded into the sand-box. Sometimes I feel so sorry for them, but they do seem to get along with other kids....and share....and they are thoughtful of others....

I am going to pack up Sam, Margaret, Kathryn, Evelyn, Suzanne, Sonja, Jonathan, Charlotte, and Camille, and go over to my brother's house this afternoon. He lives only 9 miles away, and has a huge yard, and lots of kids, cousins for these guys to play with. I sort of invited myself I'm going to take a run to the closest town, 4 miles away, to the little grocery store to get some food to bring over. I really want to go to Lowes , 12 miles away,and get the electrical supplies we need to hook up the hot tub, but I don't want to bring all these guys to what they call the "toilet store"....and I am not mean enough to leave them all with Joe....

You'd think I would know by now how to get a child to listen to me. Mr. Jon has some problems in that area. Just a simple thing sometimes sets him off, he'll start crying really loudly....this morning, I told him he had to take his night-time pull-up off (he is trained, just wets at night) before breakfast. Next thing I know, he's at the table digging in. I can't just ignore it, he knows he's being disobedient. I'd LIKE to ignore it, but that laziness is not good for anyone in the long run. So, I escort him from the kitchen, and point to his clothes....he starts his crying, people here are still sleeping! I have to give him a couple swats on the behind to get him to comply, as I help him get soon as he calms down a bit, I let him dress himself, as that's now what he wants to do.....but such a BIG deal for nothing. There are times to let them do as they like, but they have to learn to listen to mommy, too. I hate to spank a child. I never do it as a punishment, but only to get them to change their direction. And then only very sparingly. I think that the time after those conflicts is very important: I told Jon that my job as a mommy is to get him to listen to me. It I let him be disobedient, I am not doing my job. And that I love him, and want to keep him safe. It is part of my job, but it is part that I hate. Why can't they just co-operate all the time? They learn security from me saying what I mean and meaning what I I have to follow through....

Well, I need to get my rear end out of this comfy chair, again!, and get moving.

Friday, April 18, 2008

friday pictures

Sonja Kathleen: nice freckles! Molly Rose with Charlotte Claire, and the new yellow ball.

Margaret Cheryl....

Evelyn Joy, 8 years old....isn't she cute?


I typed a nice post, and it disapeared...I hate when that happens.

Charlotte Claire and Camille had their well-child checkups yesterday. Camille was friendly with the doctor, and trying to reach the stethoscope....but Charlotte was a little hesitant. The last time she was there, she had a broken ankle. She was a trooper while she was being checked out, but her eyes were welling with tears....then, she had to have her finger pricked to test for lead...she was heartbroken, loudly heartbroken....thankfully my Molly was there to console her, because Camille had four immunizations, and needed some cuddling too.

After that, we went to Blockbuster and rented some movies....Hannah Montana: harmless enough, but oh my goodness! Blah, blah, blah...I found myself wishing for the days when we didn't even own a tv....but the kids have been playing hard outside all day long, and a shower and a movie is a nice unwind. Then, we went to the carwash to vacuum the van! Evelyn took such pride in this, and really liked feeding the machine all those quarters. That's not all we fed the machine: cheese-its, popcorn, cookie crumbs, pretzels, puzzle pieces, hair elastics.....but it looks nice, now.

Then we went to the dollar store and got Charlotte Claire a yellow smiley face ball. And 49 dollars worth of other necessities...ha. Sonja, 5, was with us. She is getting much better, but she still gets "asky" when we're in the store. So I told her we would get hairclips, pretty and useful. But she didn't WANT hairclips! Her eyes were huge, looking at all the possibilities. We don't need any pretty usesless junk, so I stood my ground....I put some pretty clips in the cart, and she asked 4 or 5 times for something else....meanwhile, we have Charlotte Claire who likes to try to stand up in the cart, and Camille who just had 4 shots....and it's sunny out, I want to go home! We made it out of the store, and Molly told Sonja she was staying home next time. Sonja changed her tune pretty quickly, and delcared that she was glad to have some new hair clips....It would be too easy to spoil them rotten....they are already 1/2 way there.

So, today I finished the van. I washed the seats, AGAIN, and then sprayed them with Febreze. See, a 15 passenger van has two front seats, for the driver and co-pilot, then 4 bench seats...the worst barf mess was on the 3rd seat back. Worse place. Almost impossible for me, the young and beautiful mom, to get to. If it were on the back seat, I could reach from the back doors....Anyway, now it's done, it looks nice and smells nice, and I am happy. I would have missed out on this particular happy if this had never happened. Like I say, we never seem to get ahead here, just keep rowing and stay afloat....

So, if Evelyn's teacher asks the class to write about what they did on vacation, hopefully she will remember the zoo trip and forget the ride home. I really don't think the teacher will understand why an 8 year old would be cleaning up such a mess: but honestly, she wanted to. She is a funny kid. I'll have to post a picture of her. She has strawberry-blonde hair that is always sticking up every which-way, blue eyes, and freckles. She rides her bike like a maniac. She kind of likes gross things. She's my number one tree climber. She has a really loud voice. She is extremely capable. She thinks she can sing. I haven't told her different, but her brothers sure have!

So, other than a 24 mile trip into the city this morning, all by myself!, for some bloodwork, and a 10 mile roundtrip to bring M. to Lifeguard training, I have managed to stay home today. We planted some grass seed, cleaned out the sandbox, and Em went and bought some new stuff at the hardware store. Her and Aaron did a little landscaping around the hot-tub, which is getting hooked up soon. I have to go buy some stuff for it first. But tonight, I have to go pick up Joseph, 16, from the airport, 45 minutes from here. He, his cousin, and his friend have been in the Southwest visiting some friends of much for some time with my husband. I look forward to Friday nights, a little down time...

Kathryn wiped out on her bike yesterday, and really gouged her toes up. She lost part of her big toenail. One good thing: Emily the nurse had just gotten home! So mom-the-queasy didn't even have to look at it. If I have to take care of an injury, I can, and will, but if someone else can, thank you! I just get that feeling like the bottom of my stomach is falling out....yuck. So poor Kathryn. It hasn't slowed her down too much. We do go through alot of bandaids.

yeah for the weekend....

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

sunny wednesday

Well, how many kids does it take to help mommy clean barf out of a van? I'm not sure, but one sure did. Evelyn was gung-ho, her and I were decked out in our cleaning gloves, having a good old time. It makes me a little sad that even doing such an awful chore was fun for her because of the one-on-one time. She was a real trooper, especially for an 8 year old! Our van is a 15 passenger, one of the relatively newer models with seatbelts that go across the aisle, and mommy had a hard time getting back back was killing, so Ev finished up. I told her I would get her a prize sometime.....we want to go to a car-wash to vacuum it out, she has the quarters all collected.

The details of my life are quite boring, so I'll skip the laundry, dishes, mop the floor junk....and skip to the good stuff. My 10 school kids are on spring break, and today the temperature was in the upper 60's, and brilliantly sunny. They were playing basketball, riding their bikes all around the yard, eating popsicles....I was outside scrubbing car-seats, and enjoying the kids....I also took Kathryn to the dentist, and went to the grocery store AGAIN....then picked Paul up from work...the truck is fixed, and wasn't overly expensive. And: my nice brother came over to look at the hot-tub, to figure out how to wire it up for us....Oh dear, my older kids are trying to watch American Idol, and the station went out's kind of funny, really. Now they throwing a ball at each other, in the house!

Tomorrow I have to take Charlotte Claire the busy one and Camille the incredible nursing baby for well check-ups....M. has the day off from life-guard training, and will be home. So, who will go to help me? It is going to be another glorious day, and they like to spend time outside. I know Evelyn will want to go, because she wants to use those quarters. And we have movies so late from blockbuster, we almost own them. Their NO MORE LATE FEES is pretty well taken advantage of here.

When I was at the zoo yesterday, sitting on the bench nursing Camille (which is one thing I'm good at after all these years, nursing in public. One trick is if someone is looking in your direction, make eye contact, and they usually look away, unless it is fellow nursing mom, and she will smile. Sometimes a knowing gramma will smile, too.) Anyway, I was sitting there across from the elephants, and I suddenly missed my mother so fiercely, it was as if it slammed into me....see, I always brought her with us to the zoo. She enjoyed the little things in life, and the zoo was great fun for her. She got a kick out of the kids reactions to the monkeys......I just still miss her, and would just love to have her back here on earth again. Which is selfish, I know. Because she suffered so much pain for so many years....tonight, my little girls were so funny. Evelyn was smacking a frozen water bottle against the coffee table. I told her she had to stop, but if she wants to smash up all her own furniture in her own house some day, she can. She was laughing her head off, imagining herself telling her husband, "I have a surprise for you, I'm going to smash the furniture all up!" She was rolling around laughing. Sonja says when she gets married she's going to hug her husband...but can she still live here? And Suzanne wants to live here until we die, then have the house....sometimes I pretend that I'm the babysitter who looks just like mommy, and they love it and hate it at the same time....

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

our zoo at the zoo

Margaret, Suzanne, and Jon like the phone at the zoo. Charlotte Claire looking cute in her stroller....

Charlotte really wanted Camille's baby toy chain...Kathryn and Jon ran away when I tried to take a picture of the group...

So here is Suzanne, Samuel, Evelyn Joy, Margaret, Sonja, Molly holding Camille, Kathryn running away, and Charlotte in the stroller....It was chilly today, but sunny!

Suzanne, Sam, Evelyn with Charlotte Claire.
Okay, the zoo was great. We didn't lose anyone, no major fights, no fussy babies....we ate our peanut butter sandwiches on a bench...Emily drove separately and had to leave after an hour to go to class. So, it was Molly, 14, Sam, 12, Margaret, 11, Kathryn, 10, Evelyn, 8, Suzanne, 7, Sonja, 5, Jon, almost 4, Charlotte Claire, almost 2, baby Camille, and Me, the young and beautiful mom...ha...
The zoo was stop #1. #2 was Mc Donalds, because 4 of the kids had free happy meal coupons from school. So, Dollar Menu, and coupons, and we ate for 14 bucks....apparently the peanut butter sandwiches were not enough....then we went to the grocery store, and after finding right color car-car cart that met with Jon's approval, we went throught the store for milk, bread, apples, burger, cheese, eggs, popsicles, and licorice. $58 later, we were on our way. I stopped for gas, $69 worth for only $15 because of the Price-Chopper discount.....Yes!
So, their bellies full, the van full, and the volume in the van bordering on insanity, we head the final 30 minutes to home. Camille is hungry again, and is fussing. I decide to try to stretch it a bit, and hold her off...the other monkeys can't bear to sit and wait. Then the fun began....I'm not sure the real story, but I heard it started with Sonja sneezing something out...then Suzanne was grossed out, and barfed, so Sonja started throwing up, too. They started screaming about it, and then Kathryn and Margaret joined in, puking all over....I was driving down the road, listening to all this....they were laughing and crying at the same time....Sam was my co-pilot, and he was starting to heave. I told him DON'T YOU DARE!! We opened the windows, and hurried home....Oh joy, kids that have been dragged around all day, groceries to put away, supper to cook (ha, we were having burgers!), and I had to have them take all their clothes off,and throw them in the wash....the van, it's still not fully cleaned up.....and no one is really sick! I swear, everyday is something new. This has never happened before, and hopefully it's not the beginning of a new trend...
Then, Paul gets home from work and tells me something is wrong with the truck....we have to have it towed to a garage, as neither of us is a mechanic...hopefully one of the kids will be someday! So I have to get up and drive him to work tomorrow in the barfy van, so I can use it later for a dentist appointment for Kathryn....I told M. I'd pay her fifty bucks to clean that van.....

Monday, April 14, 2008

it's monday, here are some pictures

Here is Camille Anaya at the hotel....such a good traveler.

Charlotte Claire likes the Little People Merry-Go-Round, which is no longer made...apparently the people were a choking hazard, so the newer ones are shorter and rounder...
Here is Charlotte Claire in her highchair, with Jonathan - hey, is that a Little People person in his mouth? Fisher-Price changed them for a reason, I guess....
It is sunny and cold today, so much for spring. But warmer weather is coming, and we want to fit in a trip to the zoo, which I will try to take pictures of: the zoo visiting the zoo. I don't think the older kids will be available for this, so I won't have alot of help, but at least the younger ones don't notice people looking at us....I kind of like going with the younger ones because they don't have those "attitudes" yet....not so much, anyway. And if I want to stop at a playground we've never been to just 'cause the slide looks fun, we can without hearing all the MOM"""! Why are we stopping here? We'll have to buckle everyone in again," ect, ect., ect.... See, some of the teenagers, though really good kids, have learned a little independence, and don't always just go along with me on things like the little kids do. I'm not sure Aaron, 15, will want to go. But Molly Rose, 14, is really pushing to go, as is Margaret, 11. They are excellent helpers, and tons of fun too.
It's interesting to write about my life, and post it for anyone to read. Things here aren't always rosy. For one thing, I'd be embarrassed if someone stopped in right now. It's not dirty or anything, but heck, with so many of us here....I swore up and down when we built this nice big house (we had 5 kids then) that we would have NO TOYS IN THE LIVINGROOM....which I have obviously forgotten long ago. It doesn't help that I am a toy-aholic, multiplied by 16 birthdays and Christmases each year, (the big kids don't get toys anymore, but do you think I've thrown any of theirs away?) Anyway, the state of the house is something I don't want to get into. It can always get better, and even when it is at it's best, it doesn't stay like that for long....But the state of ME, that's interesting. I have such an irratible personality....I need to do alot of suffering to not give in to nagging and complaining. I live in a house with a bunch of kids who: put spoons in the sink with jelly still on them, knives with peanutbutter (can't you just wipe it on the bread?), don't rinse their cocoa cups, pick up their dirty socks and when they do they leave them inside out - yuck - I have to turn them before throwing them in the wash, they leave lights on and doors open, newspaper on the couch (I like it stacked in a neat pile, please), the toothpaste top goes on the toothpaste! toothpaste does not belong smeared all over the counter! dirty underwear go in the hamper, not on the bathroom floor, put your jammies back on your bed in the morning, not on the living room floor, wipe your feet, take off your shoes, put them on the shelf. put the books back on the shelf, not piled on the markers on the couch, either.....these things are perpetual.....but I guess the older ones do catch on, it's just that there are so many little ones, and I can't be everywhere. I maybe should give more consequences when I catch a perpetrator, but to them, oops, they just forgot, or didn't mean it...and they are all so cute and sweet.
Rats, Charlotte Claire is hurt. Oh, she's okay...Margaret had her out on the swing, and Charlotte fell off....Margaret sort of caught her, but she got a mouthfull of dirt, and is a bit upset. But she loves a bath, and Marg is going to put her in the tub. If that doesn't help her forget her trouble, something is really wrong. She has a very nice Little Tikes baby swing, new just for her, but she didn't want that one....great, now Jon wants in to the tub, too....
So life can be frustrating here, but everyone has their trials. I just have to hang in there, and be kind to these blessings. I am the one that is bothered, I'm the one who has to change. God never gives me more than I can handle. Never. If I think it's too much, I just plain don't believe God. He will give me grace to overcome all this sin I see in myself. I am definitely not patient or longsuffering by nature! Every night I get in bed, and I grieve over all the times I was too rough, or too demanding...and I pray for mercy, for forgiveness, for wisdom how to deal with each child. I find when I can see the sin bubbling in me, and say a resounding NO to it, then there is a blessing over the way I deal with the kids...if they need discipline, it is not tainted with my impatience. I can separate my anger from what needs to be dealt with. My kids don't really ever need punishment, they just need to be steered in the right direction, gently. I try to get them to fight their own sin, to be good to each other......I am rambling. Charlotte Claire is so cute, she ran out here naked, and in her own non-speaking way, told Jon she wanted him to come take a bath too....Margaret is being wonderful with them right now, I'll be sure to thank her and give her a hug....

Sunday, April 13, 2008

home again

We are home from our weekend away. Jon was so glad to see us, and his new raincar. Daddy already assembled it, and Jon is riding around in the house because it is very chilly here in the Northeast....under 40 degrees today. And Suzanne is the one who needed the new bike. I'm glad I don't believe in fairness among the siblings, it would be way too hard that way. The other kids are glad Suz has a new bike...of course, it is a plain red boy's bike, if it was pink and fluffy and princess-y, it might be a little harder for them to handle.

Yeah, our new septic pump is nice. Almost $2000 for the whole patching of the tank, pumping, ect.....happy homeowners, that's us. Hey, we lived in a single-wide mobile home with 5 kids, so we are thankful to have a house.....also, when we got home, the beautiful outer door that Paul put on last year was broken....the whole frame was disconnected from the house...I guess it was stuck, and someone helped it, and voila, it broke. Paul is working on fixing that now. It seems like it's all we can do to maintain what we have, and never get ahead. No home improvement here, just barely home maintenance....funcional, that's us. No landscaping, a few spring flowers, though. They are so pretty. But I'm not complaining. I don't own a single thing that will go with me to heaven.

Emily was great with these guys this weekend. We live near one of the old Erie Canal locks, and she brought all the kids there yesterday. It was about 65 degrees, and the water was freezing, but I guess they "waded"....Emily has a real gift for making things fun for the kids. The had some friends over last night, played some board games, and talked. She only has 3 free days in the next I appreciate it when she spends her time here helping. Of course there's dollhouse stuff spread all over the living room....and there were Kix crunching under my feet when I came in.....I swept first thing.....but Abigail is with M. at a pre-lifeguarding class today, Joe is in the Southwest, Ben at work, so Emily , Aaron, Molly, and Sam took Margaret, Kathryn, Evelyn, Suzanne, Sonja, Jon, and Charlotte to the meeting this morning. Dressing, brushing, and feeding them is a big job. So a few Kix on the floor: I can take it.

The kids are on spring break this week, but M. has a lifeguarding class Monday through Friday, at SOMEONE has to get out of bed each day to drive her....I have to take Kathryn to the dentist, a Dr. appt. for me, and a check-up for Charlotte and Camille. Plus I have to do some fasting bloodwork one of the days before my appt......spring break for THEM, I guess. It'll be good to have them all here, though. Uh-oh, the raincar is plowing through the dollhouse stuff....gotta go.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

weekend away

Paul and I, and of course Camille-the incredible nursing baby, are away for the weekend! Camille is the best baby for travel! She is sleeping in her carriage right now. When she fusses, I just put her in, she finds her thumb, and that's it for 12 hours or so...she slept in the carriage for the whole time we were in the hotel pool today, right in the corner in the pool room. We had the room to ourselves, and it sure was nice. It's not the Bahamas, but we can talk without interruption....and I love a chance to swim...

We drove 20 miles from here to find a Toysrus, to get Jonny a "raincar", which is a Little Tikes Cozy Coupe....the last one we bought was over 20 years ago, for our oldest daughter, Emily. She always referred to them as raincars, because they have roofs.....we still have the one that we bought for her so long ago, but it has seen better days...the wheels are pretty stuck, and Jon is turning 4 on the 30th, so he gets a big present....we found a bike there for the little girls, they have to share, but I honestly don't know which one needs one, but we found a boy's bike for $20....they won't care if it's a boy's bike......

Everything is relative. Some people have more free time than maybe free time isn't quite as precious to them....I certainly don't get an excess, but when I get it, yum.... Same probably goes for other things too.

My dear husband has been wonderful this weekend. He takes such good care of me, and the kids....we spent our stimulus check on a new pump for the septic system, which sprouted a few other problems...with a household of 18, the system has to much for all the other exciting things we could have decided on with that money.....anyway, my husband takes things so well. I am fully aware that he is so good and responsible because he loves God and strives to please Him. It isn't because I'm so wonderful, that's for sure...But we still crazy love each other after being married for over 24 years.....we are enjoying this....

Thursday, April 10, 2008

clear blue sky

Oh, the allure of that clear blue favorite weather, springtime, 55-60 degrees, calm, and sunny. Jonathan, Charlotte, and I enjoyed some time outside after Camille was tucked into her nap. The entry to our house that we use is up a full flight of stairs (the front entry is level, go in and either go up 6 or down 6 steps). Charlotte thinks stairs are fun, Mommy freaks out...after following her up and down the stairs a few times, I decide enough we are staying on the deck for I barricade the deck gate with a table, and run into the kitchen for some cloths to wipe down the Little Tikes table from its winter dirt....I was quick, but not quick enough. The little rascal escaped the deck, Jon was still sitting there trying to put more air in Sonja's bike tire, and the gate was wide open. I went down into the yard, and looked for her. No sign. I went around the back, where the swingset is, she's not there....I go back around the front, and she's just not there. What I felt at that point was terror. I yelled for Jon to go get Aaron, who stayed home from school today, and he was looking out back....I yelled that she was really gone, and to check the little creek.....Aaron was telling me not to panic, right! I started calling her name again, and heard a little laugh. The little bum was sitting in the double jogging stroller in the side yard, trying to buckle herself in. Now, only about 2-3 minutes elapsed from when I found she was gone to finding her, but I do not ever want to feel that scared again. She is just so sneaky. I was relieved, to say the least. We went back up to the deck, and I put my chair against the gate. Next time I go in, she goes with me. We have to keep our inside door closed at all times, so she stays in. The thing is, she is just so little and cute.

If it seems like I'm always going somewhere, its's because I'm always going somewhere. Today, to Wal-Mart to pick up Molly's glasses. She was so anxious to get them. Molly, Camille, and I went with my sister. My sister and I together are the very definition of the term "dawdle"....Oh yeah, we're hurrying. I only need 3 things in Wal-Mart.....ha. My sister and I have the " enjoy everything along the way" syndrome, inherited from our mother. That's why our kids are so lucky. Her youngest is 14 now, but her seven girls and my older kids grew up together....and boy did we stop to smell the roses. We took those kids everywhere. Now her girls are the best cousins to my little ones. Her oldest is going to Grandparents and Special Friends Day at school tomorrow for Suzanne and Sonja.

Well, don't stop and smell the roses around our yard right now. The little red warning light on our septic pump was on...sure enough, the pump isn't working. Paul is working on it, but I think we'll call someone tomorrow to help.....yes, it is always something. Tonight, he took 6 kids to the library while the older kids were at the youth meeting. Then home for stories, school folders, some conversation, and bedtime....Charlotte Claire in one room, and Kathryn, Evelyn, Suzanne, Sonja, and Jon in another....(and of course Paul and I and Camille in our room, and the other 9 kids in 5 rooms downstairs....)Kathryn officially moved downstairs with Mariel and Margaret, but likes rooming with the little girls better, so her bedding is becoming a fixture on their floor, between the bunkbeds. Anyway, getting them settled down is not easy. Drinka water, gotta go pee, my pull-up ripped, I need my library book tomorrow, she threw a Barbie at me, Suzanne has my pillow, I forgot to pray for Gwen, Jonny won't stop it, turn the hall light off/on...5 or six trips into their room, and they finally fall asleep. Then the youth kids troop in, loud and refreshed. And usually hungry. Charlotte Claire was still up because she had a mega-nap. So now, she is in bed, Camille is in bed, all the big kids are in bed, and Paul just said goodnight. Sweet sweet quiet......

Oh, one more thing: Big Lots had the rest of their Easter junk for 90% off....I got some things for prizes for Sonja's birthday, and some chocolate bunny-pops, 3 for 9 sister and I bought them all, so don't go there looking....

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

aren't they cute?

I got interrupted while posting the pictures. Kathryn, Evelyn, Suzanne, and Sonja out on the deck, posing in their new jackets and and sandals....the other picture is obviously Camille Anaya. She loves her fingers and her thumb, which is worth a million dollars...

It's supposed to be another nice day, 65 degrees. And it's Paul's birthday, he is 46 today. I can't believe I'm married to a 46 year old man! I just don't feel old. I shock myself when I remember I'm 42, I still feel spirit that is - my body knows full well how old it is...

So to celebrate, we'll have steak on the grill, which is really $1.99 roast cut into steaks, and my baker daughter who doesn't like her name used will bake her sinfully delicious homemade chocolate torte. The kids are excited, they always like some candles and the birthday song.....

Jon is driving me crazy, but he doesn't mean it. He wants to get out all the Little People stuff from the bedroom closet. I have collected it through the years, it's the old stuff that Fisher-Price doesn't make anymore. We have the marina, the barn, the house, a McDonalds, a merry-go-round, a ferris wheel, the garage, two cottages, etc......He will have it all out by the end of the day, because he is a determined boy....and I am still like a kid, I love to set it up....

new sandals

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

shopping for sandals day

....Yesterday, I took Joseph, 16, and Camille to Wal-Mart and BJ's warehouse club....Joe is going on a trip to the Southwest, New Mexico, and Arizona with some friends. He needed a hat, sunglasses, ect....Then we needed diapers....anyway, that was a nice time spent with Mr. Joe. He is my artistic one. He draws, and he plays guitar and piano. He and I sometimes read the same books, which is mainly why I read them, to have something to talk to him about. He is quiet, wise, and respectful, and he loves the two kitties we have,
General Thunder and Kitten Force.

But today's shopping trip was different. I took Mariel, Molly, Sam, Margaret, Kathryn, Evelyn, Suzanne, Sonja, Jon, Charlotte Claire and Camille. Our first stop was to look (again) for sandals. I have mentioned before how much fun it is to go in a shoe aisle with a bunch of little girls, though Jon isn't much different...but we survived. Then, I found some $2 chair pads, a $3 sweatshirt for Joe, some $3 jackets for the girls, all matching in different colors, what fun!

Then, on to the grocery store....the big girls hate pushing those car-carts....but it is the absolute highlight of Jon's existence to ride in a car-car-cart.....It makes the grocery store his favorite destination. This particular store gives out balloons for kids, and 5 of these guys got one. So after we get out of the store, we're heading toward the van, and who do we see? My sister, mom to seven beautiful girls, and one beautiful grandaughter. She comments that we look like a parade....which is exactly why my few older girls were so thrilled to be out with us all today....they don't like to be stared at, but what can you do?

Monday, April 7, 2008

Camille Anaya is 5 months old today

Camille is growing so fast. Life is good with a 5 month old baby. Sort of the calm before the storm. Not yet crawling around eating old jellybeans from under the couch, and finding pennies we didn't know we had. She likes to sit on my lap and look around, eating her fingers and sucking her thumb. She also loves what I call the roundy-round seat, also known as an exersaucer...She is getting grabby. I was carrying her around today, and leaned to pick something up, and she grabbed two socks from the clean sock basket that someone has to match up......I held her while I ate my oatmeal this morning, and since it's her birthday, I let her have some tastes...she was definetly interested. She has such soft, sweet cheeks, and a wet drooly chin...I gave her a nice bath before her nap, and she splashed around and kicked....there's not much better in this world than a baby freshly bathed in lavender baby bath, all cuddled up, nursing....

But, now that she's in her nap, I should get the other two outside for some fresh air and sunshine. And I have an evil motive; I want some too!

So, I could stay in here all day and vacuum, do dishes, wash pans from last night's fun and relaxing dinner, clean the bathroom, ect.ect.ect....or I could go outside (YES), and have everyone pitch in after school and give me 15 minutes of help, and get this in shape. I already bathed all the kids, gave them breakfast, swept the kitchen/diningroom, did two loads of laundry, changed 4 diapers, got the 4 (no, 3 - Suzanne Eleanor has such a bad headache) little girls fed, dressed, brushed and on the bus I think I shouldn't feel too guilty about going outside with these guys. But I probably will anyway. I always thing of all the things I could/should be doing....but I need to stop and smell those roses...

Sunday, April 6, 2008

sunday afternoon

Sixty degrees and sunny here in the northeast. Today, I got Camille in for a nice nap, made some bacon, eggs, and toast for a late breakfast (second breakfeast), then decided to leave the work and go outside. Sunshine on skin just feels good. Charlotte Claire can wander faster than I can run, and when she runs....uh-oh for me. She likes to play in the wagon, and be pushed in the baby swing....Jon likes his toy lawn-mower, and his Little Tikes car....Anyway, it was delicious outside, and our meeting (church) was at 1:00 today because of the boys' was a tough decision to go. The girls had packed a wonderful picnic lunch, and were not thrilled that they had to get dressed and leave. So, we let them take the lunch with them and stay out on the playground at the meeting hall, and not go in at all. I didn't like being inside on such a day, it's a small price to pay for seeing my friends, and being encouraged to be faithful to God in my daily life.

One of the little girls sprayed her big sister's perfume, and even with the windows open, yuck. I can taste it.

I am missing my mom and dad. She died 2 years ago in July, and he one year ago January. How can you go from talking to people everyday all your life, and then adjust to never ever seeing them again? My parents really had few other friends than their 7 children and their spouses, and 40 something grandchildren.... No detail was to small to call them about. My mother was the kind of Gramma that knew all her grandchildren's birthdays, and gave them all she always bought things for them (on clearance, of course), and she knew what they all liked and didn't like....she was the bookreading lapsitting huggy kind of Gramma. She has left behind 7 broken-hearted grown children, and a whole slew of grandkids who remember her with great fondness. My dad was a bit grouchy on the outside, sometimes REALLY grouchy, but he had a great big soft heart, and he did as much as he could for us kids. He always gave me money when I drove over to visit them, 45 minutes away from here. He bought groceries for all of us in a really excessive way. After my mother died, his grocery shopping habit really got out of control, then he got sicker with symptoms from his leukemia, and couldn't go to the store he sent me one time to buy: 10 boxes of tissues, 2 crates of oranges, 4 bottles of disinfectant spray, 2 things of that germ killing handwash.....and he gave me the money for it, and the stuff was for me. The cashier thought I was expecting a plague. But see, my dad was afraid of germs with his illness, and the fear got a bit crazy in him. He was always a bit excessive/compulsive, but with my mom's death, and his cancer, he NEEDED order-his medicine and stuff had to be set out just so, and his hands were washed continuously.....when we came to visit, we could only be on the other side of the huge livingroom....he just thought he would catch something, and die. It was ironic that he died of a massive stroke. Not to mention extremely shocking and so, so sad. I spent alot of time on the phone with him after Gramma died, and I still miss that. I miss them both. They are buried right in town, 4 miles away on a windy hill, and I don't like to go there. I don't think of them as being in the cemetary....I can't really handle that.

Well, on a better note, spring is here: finally! Now all of the sudden, these little girls need new sandals. Too small, to rippy, to scuffy, only one to be found....hmm, should they all skip school for a day and go shopping?

Saturday, April 5, 2008

some fun!!!

Daddy's gone for the day, with the boys (except Jon), to a conference for boys in our church. Daddy is working in the kitchen there! Emily the nurse is at work, Abigail had to go up to her college to do some research, Ben is at work, M. is helping her cousin paint her house, so that leaves just us at home: Molly, 14, Margaret, 11, Kathryn 10, Evelyn 8, Suzanne 7, Sonja 5, Jon-almost 4, Charlotte Claire-almost 2, Camille Anaya, 5 months, and me, the young and beautiful mom. So, we did what every family with mostly younger kids should do: we went to the Chinese buffet for lunch. Only Molly and I were full price, maybe Margaret too. I tell the kids to only take a little, not to waste, and if they like it, get more. I only had one plate, then went back and got just a little more pepper chicken, I love it. Then some tea and some of those yummy pastry things. The waitress didn't seem thrilled to serve hot tea to all of us, but hey, I paid for this lunch.....It can be hard to get over that feeling of embarassment, going out with all these kids. People just look, I don't blame them, I would look, too. Anyway, the kids HAVE to have their hot tea, just HAVE to add those little sugar packets, and stir it up....and the oranges....they get our money's worth just in oranges. They do have some good table manners, all except Charlotte Claire. She kept standing up in her little wooden pull-up-to-the-table highchair, and laughing. For her, going bye-bye is fun, but all this sitting, no fun. She isn't such a big eater, either. So Molly had to hold her and sort of restrain her for the last bit, while the kids finished trying all they wanted to try....Charlotte Claire did a few of those shreiky screams she likes to do, and I saw a lady up by the ice-cream glaring in our direction. I gave her a sweet smile. I am not going to hurry (too fast, anyway) out of the restaurant just because of a little noise. I mean, this is not the Ritz. And let me say this: it was just delightful to walk away from the mess. Worth every penny.

Here in central NY, the weather is gorgeous. Sunny and mild. So of course we had to stop at the playground on the way home...and what did we see? Grampa! My husband's dad is home from Florida! He lives right next to the playground, and he was outside...we stopped to see him, and it was nice. He is eighty years old now....and still so cute and funny. Gramma won't be back in town for another month, as she is going to Europe again.....I don't know how they can be apart for so long....

So, the playground is the same as always, just a different cast of characters...that's what is seems like sometimes...I've been going to the playground with my kids for over 20 years now....but I do try to enjoy it with them. Jon was just beside himself with excitement. He did not want to leave, but Charlotte Claire was tired, and he himself had to pee so badly he was dancing....we let him do it outside, in front of the van...his sisters thought it was so funny, all the way home when they saw puddles, they said they were Jon's pee puddles....

I am guessing that Camille is coming down with something. Her baby cousin was here a few days ago, and came down with a fever that night. She was fussy at the playground, and seemed a bit warm when we got home. We've been healthy for a while, so I can't complain. I just feel so sorry for the little ones when they're sick. To me it says: stop doing what you think you have to do mom, and hold and rock these babies.

Today has been a very special day with the kids. We swept, did dishwasher, cleaned counters, washed tables, picked up, vacuumed, threw in some towels to wash, and dusted the coffee table before heading out this morning, and it is relaxing to sit here in relative neatness while the kids play, and the little ones nap...see, when they are excited to do something fun, I have to cash in on their enthusiasm a bit. Incentive. A few of them groaned when I started getting them working this morning, but I reminded them how nice it would be to come home to cleanness....they don't really care, they just wanted to go to lunch, and if it meant pitching in a bit, okay....

my boys, too

Joseph, 16, Benjamin, 19, holding Mr. Jonathan, almost 4, Aaron, 15, and Samuel, 12 ...We assured them it was okay, their pajama pants wouldn't show up. Oh well. Yeah, and they would probably ALL kill me for putting this up here except Jon. Jon who loves his thumb.

My sweet little Camille is waiting for me, so I will write about my nice visit to my sister's hot-tub, and my sister, last night, later. It was wonderful!

Friday, April 4, 2008

all of the girls

Aaron loves baby Camille. He would probably kill me if he saw this picture on my blog. A few of the girls, one in particular, but I'm not mentioning names, wouldn't like her picture here, either. So don't tell.
Molly holding Charlotte Claire, Mariel, Abigail, Emily with Camille and on the couch,

Sonja, Suzanne, Evelyn, Kathryn, and Margaret...

my girls

Abigail, Molly Rose, Emily the nurse, and Mariel