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

Friday, November 30, 2012

let's never fight anymore...

Isn't this fun to be friends? That's what I am hearing from my two little princesses this morning after one of those big, "She's copying me!", "No I'm not, she's copying ME!" battles. There were tears, there was shouting, but not from me. I knew it would blow over before I even got out of my comfy chair.

They got to stay home from school today, my two little girls. They went four days in a row, and the whole week I was gone to Washington. They missed one half-day before Thanksgiving, but I figured they were due for a day at home. Camille gets pretty tired going to kindergarten.

There is more whining, more fighting. Camille is the owner of a Christmas Sticker book. She is the boss of it. Char wants the Santa sleigh sticker. Really badly. Camille says Maybe Later. Char does not give up when she wants something. Camille keeps saying Maybe Later. ugh.

Jonathan was such a champ at the dentist. He was brave and didn't complain. I told him ahead of time that the worst part would be the shot of novocaine. The dentist numbed his gums first with stuff on a big swab, Jon said he didn't even feel the needle. He was shaking though, even though he was co-operating, he was scared. While he waited for the numbness to set in, the assistant told him that the worst part was over, and he said, "Really?!" The rest didn't seem to bother him at all. I am so glad he took it so well! The dentist was so quick, and had such a good repoire with him. He has to go back probably three more times, and doesn't seem to mind the thought of that.

So of course I took him to Walmart. I bought him a package of glow-in-the-dark Nerf bullets. And an 8-pack of "D" batteries. He was pretty happy.

We also stopped at Tim Horten's. He got a frozen lemonade, brr, and I got a coffee with cream and a sugar-free caramel flavor shot. It was very good.

Home to a turkey dinner. Aaron and Mirielle had peeled lots of potatoes and were making mashies, as Mirielle calls them. We had peas and mixed veggies and cranberry sauce too. And gravy. While we were cleaning up dinner, Paul and the older kids left for choir practice. One of the girls had a bad headache, and another had lots of homework. Sam wanted me to make cookies. I told him to help me clean up and I would. So I mixed up a triple batch of chocolate chip cookies with a red and green Christmas M&M's. I decide I wasn't going to eat any at all. ha. I tasted the dough. Dang, I had lots of the dough. It was too good. Then I mixed some dough with oats for Jon, who loves oatmeal cookies. Yup, that was good too. Then they started baking, and the house went from smelling like roasted turkey to that heavenly cookie aroma. Then...I broke off a little piece of a cookie. Big mistake. I make a darned good cookie. I HAD to try the oatmeal, which was even better. rrr.

I need to be hypnotized or something. I do not eat those things, I do not eat those things. I need to get back into that Strong Resistance groove. The groove where I do not budge, do not taste Bad Things. Because that's how I lost this weight. The thing is, I was good all day. Ate sensibly, healthily, small portions. Then I went cookie crazy. I didn't eat one single whole cookie. Just some pieces of cookies, which added up to two or three. But add in three or four spoonfuls of dough, and.. rrr, the calories, ugh. The bad thing is, I was just thinking that the holidays don't really bother me too much, I will be fine, I can resist. I can say no. ha. I guess I am just not as strong as I thought I was....

But, since today is another day and I really want to see some results, I shall stay out of the cookies.

This whole thing will be a life-long battle for me.

Sometimes I look at thin people and they feel triumphant when they sail past the donuts without stopping to drool?

And I think, No Fair.

Then I look at really heavy people and I wonder if they have any hope at all that they could ever be successful losing their weight. Or if they are like I was...thinking I could never ever do it. When it seems impossible, why not just have a donut? Why not? I personally haven't had a life-long battle with food, no, I just ate what I wanted to. I didn't overeat all the time, I just had what I wanted when I wanted, thinking it didn't matter, I was already fat. I never ordered my own order of fries though, I just took one or two from one of the kids. And I didn't eat two burgers, or half a pizza. So it could have been worse. But it was bad enough. I was perpetually tired, and eating sweets and carbs made that worse, triggering such horrible cycles of fatigue and hunger.

Now I am smart, but that also makes it worse in a way. Ignorance is bliss. But it is also liberating. The things I can do now that I couldn't do before, like go up and down the stairs without suffering, walk through the airport without even thinking about it, picking up the house without being exhausted.

So I am VERY thankful that I saw the light, that I got that glimmer of hope, that determination that I CAN DO THIS.

It has been hard, I have had to suffer. And I know that's what I need to do more. For some people, uttering, "No thank you." is not a biggie. For me, it is most often painful. But here and now, I am encouraging myself to do that very thing: suffer. Say no. It ain't fun, but it is the only way for me.

I am feeling Christmas-y. It is snowing out again, very cold. A good day to bake Christmas cookies, but no way.

I think I will take the little girls out and about today. I have a few ideas of things to get for a few of the older kids for Christmas, but then again, maybe I will stay home. I am taking them to the Christmas Bazaar at the school tomorrow because they give out photo I.D.s, and that will make it easier to get into Canada. Sunday I am driving the minivan full of kids to Ottowa so they can practice their songs for next week's Christmas feast we are having with the church in Ottowa. Paul is driving the car with older kids, they are practicing for a longer time.

I just hope it isn't too snowy. I like to look at it, but I hate to drive in it.

Camille is cuddled up to me now on the arm of my comfy chair and Char is vacuuming up the sugar mess from the cereal she served for them. Ya, don't ask. I told them Only A Little Sugar. Especially because they don't need ANY sugar on cereal, yuck.

It is cold in the house, my fingers aren't working well. I need to get up and get busy. Char is now having fun with the shop-vac though, cleaning up the whole kitchen.

I am very glad to have them home with me today.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

preparing for the Christmas season...

Oops, I wrote "holidays" first, then realized I don't want to get all politically correct here. Anyway, life is busy. The Christmas season can be so crazy busy it's hard to enjoy. But hey, why do today what you can put off for tomorrow?

Kidding. But. Yesterday, I picked Suzanne, my 11 year old, up from school early, surprising her. She is my my number twelve child, 8th daughter, the fourth in our 5-girls-in-a-row-in-five-years. She shares a room and a personality with Kathryn, 14, the #2 in the five-in-a-row. She is just too cool for school, mostly. But when it is just her and I, we have a great time. She talks, she listens, she is great fun. It was totally a great idea to pick her up from school. We went to Sears and got her a new coat, and some boots to put away for Christmas. We went to Aldi to get milk and yogurt and some Christmas candy, including two more of the chocolate-a-day advent calendars. Oh, how they can't wait to start those!! Then we went to Wegmans and got a fresh turkey discounted, which I will make today yum, bread (I don't like Aldi's bread), pears, carrots, green peppers, and lots of other stuff we couldn't live without. Then to Marshall's, where I got a few other gifts, for Benjamin and Joseph. Then to the dollar store where we found strawberry whipped cream for their coffees and cocoa, Fiber One bars for snacks at school, and candy for stockings.

Home...and hurry hurry hurry, there is activity club at church, they had to leave by 6:00! I thought I had more time than I did, and got into my work out clothes, but ha. There simply wasn't enough time, so dinner was served. London broil with Jamaican seasoning and gravy, roasted potatoes, and green beans. Thank you Mirielle for putting this in the oven for me while I shopped!

Everyone went out the door, I didn't have to drive this week (Thanks to Abigail and Aaron)...but the dinner mess: blah. Pans and plates and cups and silverware...finally done. Paul also had a meeting, so the house was quiet. I exercised half-heartedly, I mean, I had just eaten dinner. I should have just served it and not eaten it, but at that time I didn't know yet that I didn't have to drive. point is this: after all that busy day, I was alone...I could have wrapped presents. I could have put the lights in the windows. I could have sorted through the decorations or hung the stockings. But I didn't. I vegged in my chair, looked at reviews for some places in the Dominican Republic, read some weight-loss blogs, then read some of my book.

Poor me, sitting there with my feet up. I am just not a young chicken anymore. Christmas or not, I just can't do another thing sometimes.

Today, I have to pick up Jonathan from school and take him to the dentist. He has to have some fillings done. The dentist was rather short with me when he saw Jon for the first time, in the spring, right after Jon turned 8. He had somehow slipped through the cracks, I usually start the kids out when they are four or five. oops. The dentist did not think it was one bit funny because Jon had some issues with his teeth. oops. Things that could have been caught earlier. ouch. But. None of my other kids have had cavities like this. I partly think it is because Jonathan was born ten months after Robert was born, well...stillborn. I give Jon his daily vitamin, and make sure he drinks his milk, but I wonder. And I feel guilty. So don't be surprised if we stop and buy him a new Nerf gun after the dentist appointment:)

Anyway...I don't like how it is so busy all of the time. So I am going to try to have that downtime with the kids when I can. I hate being stressed out, having so much on my mind.

And, now I shall go put that 25 pound turkey into the oven. Our Thanksgiving turkey was only 21, and we ate the leftovers for lunch the next day, and didn't even have enough left for a turkey gravy meal. So...yum.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

accomplishing things...

I appreciate when I accomplish things. That's one of the benefits of being one of those people who just don't have their act together. Some of the things I am happy about this chilly dark morning:

1. I have already washed a load of darks. I was inspired to do this because one of my sweet daughters was going to wear a pair of yoga pants to school that looked like one rolled around on the floor in them. Thankfully one of her sisters spied this and clued me in, as I was busy cleaning up the garbage Suri had gotten into last night since I forgot to put it in the dog cage. Yes, the dog gets to sleep on the couch, and the garbage gets locked in her cage. Anyway, I decided I would raid this daughter's room and get her jeans into the wash, bright and early. She changed into a nice skirt and leggings, by the way. Oh so cheerfully too, ha.

2. I cleaned up a nice big pile of doggy pee that went all the way under my chair. I found something to be thankful for while I moved my chair and sopped it up with half the roll of paper towels: Paul cleaned under all the furniture on Thanksgiving day, right before we went to the table to eat. I wasn't thrilled about it at the time, but he was looking for the tv remote, which is very important, so he thought he would pick up the hair clips and dirty socks and toy cars and sweep up the floors...okay, "wasn't thrilled" doesn't describe it. I was like, "Hon, I just did that a few weeks ago." He said, and ouch, "Well you didn't do a very good job." On Thanksgiving. Ouch. Yes, I was offended. In fact, later when he was finished, someone asked where Dad was and I replied that he was probably cleaning the bathroom. Then I asked the kids if they would please wash the windows, who cares if it's Thanksgiving. Then I realized he was just being nice, minus the comment about me not doing a good job, of course. I was being a real jerk. So I snapped out of it. Anyway, this morning when I had to move my chair to clean up the pee puddle, I was glad there were no dollhouse people or bobby-pins floating in it.

3. Yesterday, I wrapped most of the Christmas presents!!! Oooh, yah, ahead of the game for once! Sonja was home, so she helped me. We made piles of gifts, deciding who should get what. The three youngest have the biggest piles of course. Joe had no pile. I wrapped a pair of cheap earbuds for him. That's it. So I went online and ordered him something I hope he will like. Then I got my notebook out and wrote down what I got for each one in case we didn't get it all wrapped. When I got to Evelyn, shh, don't tell her this...there was no pile. I had forgotten to make her a pile. Don't feel bad, Ev, nothing personal, I always forget someone, this time it was you! And don't worry, I bought you something really nice... anyway, we got most of the stuff wrapped! And now I know exactly who I need to buy things for!

4. I took Jonathan, Charlotte Claire, and Camille to the pool yesterday. We met Abigail there. Since I did all the present wrapping, I had a hard time fitting in a work-out...I tried to escape to my room a few times, but kids needed me for important things. So I did like thirty wimpy push-ups, lifted my little weights for a few minutes, jogged in place, just a warm-up...then realized I had to get dinner prepared if I was I consoled myself that I was going to the pool.

5. The scale is creeping back down. This morning I was only 1.6 pounds more than my lightest weight.(in like 25 years, anyway) So I am re-losing, but still. I am going in the right direction.

And that is enough of that random stuff. Ha, as if. We are still considering our trip to the Dominican Republic, but not until March-ish, because of demands at work for Paul. He said that looking forward to it is the best part anyway, and I disagree. Okay, I sort of agree. I then suggested we go next week, which he said No to. Won't work. Month's End at work, he said.

So now I have a new goal, weight-wise. There is nothing like a looming trip to the warm part of the world to get me on track!

And since I like accomplishing things, I had better get my lazy rear out of this comfy chair and get moving. The darks need to go in the dryer, after the giant load of towels comes out, of course. And I can't just throw the towels on the couch, because the huge pile of socks is there, mostly matched.

I need to go to the store, again, because we are out of milk, bread, yogurt. I also ran out of wrapping paper yesterday. We also need more tape, and a package of tacks to hand up Christmas things. So off I go....

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

well, that ain't happenin'.....

No vacation for us. Wah. Paul has something going on at work, the only week that would work for us. Wah. January, February...March...those months are much more difficult because Joseph will probably not be here to get the kids on the bus, Mirielle will be back in college after Christmas break...AND, Paul has vacation to use before the end of the year. Ironic.

Anyway, I was very disapointed about not being able to go. For a mere two days, I was all of the sudden so hopeful that we were going away to sunshine, it is hard to believe the let down is so painful!

I know, I am a big baby. I was telling myself that this morning after I got the last of the kids out the door and on that school bus. We have SO much to be thankful for...(but the BEACH, THE SUNSHINE, SLEEPING IN, relaxing...), we are so blessed, (but the ocean, the moonlit walks on the beach holding hands....)...rrr.

Anyway, I am getting over it. Wish he had never uttered those words, "Punta Cana".

Yesterday was a Shopping Day. And man, was it fun! Samuel, 17, didn't go to school...Margaret 15, didn't go to I did what ever nice mom does when her kids skip, I took them to the mall! We got three secret Santa gifts taken care of, and a few more gifts bought. We had coffee from Starbucks, which those two really like. Sam actually had a Caramel Brulee Latte, I had a medium roast with a sugar-free mocha flavor shot, as did Margaret. We went to Target and took care of a few more gifts, then to the grocery store for milk and detergent beef and chicken and some coupon items.

Home, and dang, there was no time for the spaghetti meal Evelyn was starting to make...the kids had to get to choir practice, the older ones to band and chorus. I had to get Mali to court for that ticket. So...they had cereal for dinner. Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Golden Grahams, oh how I wanted some. I just waited, and my poor tummy growled rather loudly as we waited our turn at court.

Court was sad. The only other people there to stand before the judge were from the county jail, all dressed in orange with their hands and feet shackled. One young kid, no more than 18 or 19, had been incarcerated since February, but was going home next month, to appear back in court in January...he was crying, and his mama was posting bail. She wanted to hug him so badly, wipe away his tears...he couldn't with his hands shackled like that. I don't know what he did, but his mom still loves him. Then there was the lady who said she shot her boyfriend last month, just a few roads down from here...same road Mali totalled Abigail's car on, actually. She called 911 and admitted what she had just done. I wondered at the time what he did to deserve it, but since then I have re-thunk it, and yes I do know that, "re-thunk" is not a word. But I wonder now...if she just had problems, that poor lady. And now she is no longer part of the regular world. Her roots were coming in, no make-up, in chains and those ugly orange slip-on sneakers she wouldn't have been caught dead in, in her old life.

Anyway, after the cops (sorry Samuel - Criminal Justice Boy, I meant Police Officers, of course) escorted their prisoners out, Mali got to stand before His Honor. She chose to plead guilty, since the District Attorney had agreed to lower the charges to a non-moving violation, which means no penalty on the license. She got a fifty dollar fine and a $55 court surcharge. I paid. She has no money. I said, "Merry Christmas, Mali."

But I will still get her something. She is a good girl.

Sonja K. is home from school today. She says her tummy hurts.

Can't blame her, she heard about all the fun we had yesterday...

I never did fit in any exercise yesterday, but I ate sort of good. Okay, I had popcorn for dinner. When I got home it was late, too late for real food. blah.

But, today is another day. And even though we aren't going on a tropical vacation, I will be serious about my New Lifestyle.

And, what is the MOST important thing today? That I am good. Romans 2, verse 4, "......the goodness of God leads you to repentance.." So what does it mean to be good? To judge myself and be merciful. To hear what God is saying to me about ME. It is quite amazing how much easier it is to be gentle and forgiving when I know exactly how I myself fall short of all things virtuous.

When I am seeking these things that are really important, then I am a blessing to my family.

So that's good for me. Because this is something I can do, something I can work on.

I am thankful that Being A Good Mom isn't all about being organized, or remembering everything. I don't have to be clever, and figure out just what each one needs. I can just ask of God, He gives wisdom to those who ask. And seriously, what each one mostly needs is a Mom who isn't harsh or short with them. Who labors to be patient. Who gives without demanding thankfulness.

So I have my work cut out for me, because by nature, I am not a patient person!!! And, since I know it is my job, I will clean this place up, match the socks, plan a decent dinner. I know God doesn't make mistakes, but sometimes I am tempted to wonder why He thought I would be all right with sixteen kids. Don't get me wrong, I love them dearly. But. I feel like I deserve a prize when I clean out the refrigerator. I will organize a cupboard, swear it will stay that way, then show all the kids how clean it is. We will ooh and aw over it, and they will say, "Mom, it won't stay that way."

I am excited for Christmas this year. I have to clean out my closet and see what I have for everyone. Benjamin will be home and that is very exciting for us.

Monday, November 26, 2012

today is the first day...

of the rest of your life. I don't know who gets credit for this phrase, I vote my mother does. I heard it so much growing up, I didn't even think about it. But that was my thought this morning as I stepped on the scale. Now, don't get me wrong, I haven't gained tons of weight back or anything, but I AM 3 pounds heavier than the lightest weight I had gotten to. So it's Back To Business.

No more pie.

Sam wants me to bake cookies. Um, no.

Exercise, every day.

All of the sudden, it's Christmas-time. It was snowing out like crazy this morning, and as I waited for the bus with the little kids outside, shivering, I told them we can decorate the house soon. I have lots of shopping to do. I didn't end up getting much when we went out on Black Friday. So we are going to let the older kids pick something out online, within reason. Today is Cyber Monday, so I plan to be searching for some deals.

It is a busy time of the year. Tonight I have to go to court with Mali about that accident several months ago. Her last court date was cancelled because of Hurricane Sandy. The kids also have band and choir and chorus practices for our upcoming Christmas Feast in Ottowa. Several of them will be driving up there this weekend for a practice. I am not in any of the musical groups, because I love my friends. I cannot sing. I make mySELF wince when I do. I do not know my notes. Seriously. And I am not discriminating, when I think something is off, it is REALLY off. Anyway, this week is busy with things night after night.

But. Paul said some magical words last night...words that I do not want to get too excited about because we don't know yet if we can swing it yet. But. He said, "Punta Cana". In December. Oh joy, I can't even think of anything else right now! I have things to do, rooms to clean, places to go...but I just want to go online and look at places. Cheap places, of course. Sunny warm cheap places, all-inclusive places. The beaches in Punta Cana...long white sandy beaches...oh dear. I DO wish I could take the whole family. Sort of. But. Oh my, I am so excited. I hope it works out...

In the meantime, we need food here, again. Good, healthy, nutritious food. Chicken and veggies. Price Chopper has the whole bone-in breasts for a buck a pound. Also some beef for $2.48 a pound. Perhaps I will make a weekly menu one of these days, and maybe even a chore chart...Punta Cana. Ha, that's what my thoughts are like. I go to do some work around here. I have had much encouragement this past weekend, we went to a couples' I am encouraged to stand before God in all that I do. To humble myself, not get offended by things. Keep the peace in our home by being a sacrifice inwardly. Sounds torturous, but it reaps blessings abundantly.

Yesterday we worked at the Dome, so I missed Day Two of the conference. wah. But someone has to do it, we have a relatively small group and are very fortunate to have landed the concession work at the Dome. I personally think going there and being with all my friends, mostly the youth, from church, is worth it. I see their enthusiastic faces, and it makes me happy.

Punta Cana. I want to jump up and down and say, Make It Work!!!! Because...around here, Paul and I cannot have a single conversation without all the Momming and Dadding and very important questions being asked of us. Ha, that's obviously not the total reason I am excited. Sand, sun, relaxation...ahh. I have my little fingers crossed.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

thanksgiving pie, how I hate thee....

You look so good, you smell even better. Your crust melts in my mouth with it's buttery crunch. The tartness of the apples with the cinnamon make me want to cut another little slice. As Aaron says, it is good to have an apple pie on the counter so one can just take a piece of apple every time one walks by. And pumpkin pie, how I hate thee...with your spicy creamy richness...coconut cream, I cannot resist your charms...

Pies, I hate thee. I am glad you are all gone for the year. I shall not make you again until next year, when I am hopefully like fifty pounds lighter....and I have much better self-control.

Aaah, Christmas is coming. I dread the the yumminess the season brings. I was thinking a few weeks ago that I don't mind the holidays, I shall just be strict with myself. I can do this. But. ha. Self-control, where did you go? Having a piece of pie is like a snowball rolling down a hill for me. I forgot I was such a hungry thing. I am remembering now.

So. I know the Christmas season (notice I did not say, "Holiday Season"? I am an American, I have rights. I reserve the right to say, "Christmas"!!!)Anyway, I know that there will be temptations. So. Starting tomorrow, I am going to behave myself. More than behave. Work really really hard.

I just wanted to check in and let you all know I am alive and well.

Friday, November 23, 2012

pictures of thanksgiving...I

I am tired, the wee hours of the morning are creeping in, and I am falling asleep in my chair. I have more pictures, for another day. Joseph and Kathryn are the only ones who went late night shopping. I didn't see anything worth battling the crowds for.

We ate too much pie, and laughed too much. We all wrote things down that we were thankful for, then Kathryn read them and we had to guess who wrote them, then vote for the best. The best: Emily's submission, "Benjamin came home safely from Afghanistan."

Thursday, November 22, 2012


brunch for 16...Joseph was sleeping, since his officially nocturnal now.

We had cinnamon rolls and scrambled eggs with onions and cheese, grapefruit and cantaloupe, pomegranates, heart shaped waffles, pancakes, and bacon. And orange juice and coffee with half and half.

Our turkey is roasting, we have peeled ten pounds of potatoes. We chopped onions and celery for the stuffing, and cut up several butternut squashes. We have made up several new catagories for our home-made Scattergories game we will play later. The little girls had a marathon bath with the tub filled to the tippy-top, then went outside to enjoy the mild sunny day with Abigail. Paul and Sam are hunting for a second time today, this time with Kathryn and Evelyn. I am thinking Kap and Ev might get silly and scare all the deer away.

So...we are having a nice day, despite missing Benjamin....

hey, it's thanksgiving!

As evening approached and the children started asking what was for dinner, I was like, what, you want dinner tonight? Tomorrow's Thanksgiving, I have to cook tonight too? I was finishing up the lemon merangue pie when Margaret so nicely volunteered to make dinner. Paul was at the Dome with Emily, Mirielle, Aaron, and Sam. Joseph was sleeping since he works nights now. So it was just Mali, Margaret, Kathryn, Evelyn, Suzanne, Sonja, Jonathan, Charlotte Claire, Camille, and I. Mali had a huge salad, the rest of us had those frozen Buffalo wings (baked), and chicken nuggets tossed in barbecue sauce before baking, and mixed veggies. It was a light dinner, then Abigail came in the door with all the leftovers from her office party, she was the Designated Dumpee. She had rice krispy treats, a veggie tray, hummus, two packages of Wegman's oatmeal raisin cookies, a box with lots of donuts in it, and a half gallon of apple cider. I did not buy even one jug of cider this year because it was so pricey, so the kids enjoyed that pretty fast.

I was glad I had baked a batch of Paleo chocolate chip cookies and had a few with my after dinner coffee, so I didn't suffer too much saying NO to the donuts.

We watched, "Elf", which is one of the best movies ever.

Being On Vacation with all the kids is fun. Mali helped Jonathan clean his room. She organized all his toys, and cleaned under the bed. Kathryn, Evelyn, and Suzanne helped Charlotte Claire and Camille clean up their room. It feels nice to have them all clean, and like Char said, "My room will stay clean this time, forever and ever." And because I choose to, I believe that.

Paul is going hunting with Samuel in the morning. If they get a deer, we shall try to make some jerky out of it, and try to use the meat. I am a really picky eater, I don't like the game-y-ness of venison. But, beef is so expensive these days, perhaps I can be less picky.

We are having brunch tomorrow. Pomegranates, grapefruit, cantaloupe, scrambled eggs, cinnamon buns, and orange juice. And coffee, of course. With half and half, for the occasion.

Our dinner will be a bit later in the day because of Nocturnal Joseph, and because the hunters may need a nap. We will have turkey and gravy and mashed 'tatoes, fresh squash, brown and serve rolls, stuffing, and probably green beans. And cranberry sauce, baby dill pickles, green olives, and black olives. And cranberry juice or Coke, which is a treat for the kids.

For dessert- pie of course, with whipped cream that Mirielle will make from the heavy cream. Deadly good stuff.

We have much to be thankful for. Emily has Thanksgiving off from work, so fifteen of the kids will be here. We can barely fit 17 at the table, but we can snuggle.

If only Benjamin could be here. He is going to dinner at the house of one of the captains, with a few of his buddies. My heart is so heavy for him, he is sad and lonely. Please pray for him, and for Ashley. With respect to their privacy, I shall say no more, but dang it...I am sad for them.

Being a mom to so many kids brings much joy. But when one of them hurts, I hurt too. I can't help it. I feel bad for them when they are tired, I stress when they stress about tests or homework. I want to do all I can for each of them. I feel stretched thin sometimes, but I don't care. I don't ever want any of them to feel like I don't have time to talk to them. Because, ha, sometimes I don't, but I make time.

One thing I loved about my mother was the way she always took the time to talk to me. She really wanted to hear about my day, and she was always there when I needed her. And it wasn't just me, she could talk to anyone. I always suspected that my friends liked my mother more than they liked me. Because she gave them The Time Of Day. That is the biggest gift my mother gave to me, that gift of Being There for the kids.

Today is done, today was fun....oh, but the laundry I did! Load after load. The dog pee stuff had to be washed THREE TIMES. Then one of the lovely kitties decided to take a poop in the clean sock basket. Not the dirty sock hamper, no, that would have made too much sense. Right on the rare and beautiful MATCHED SOCKS. I walked in there and smelled that distinctive smell of cat poo...sorry. But I did what any lazy mom would do...I threw out several pairs of socks. Washing doggy pee clothes is one thing, I am not washing cat poop socks.

Anyway, tomorrow is Thanksgiving. We will pick names for Secret Santa, "Confidential Claus", as Margaret and I dubbed it. Camille had Paul help her cut up a whole pile of paper rectangles. She wrote her name on one, then squiggles on all the others. She said, "I wrote the names for Secret Santa, but no one else can read them because I wrote them in cursive. So I will pass them out and tell everyone who they have." I looked at them there in the box and laughed my head off..cursive, yes.

I AM thankful for my family.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


We still have to make the two chocolate pies, the crusts are ready and waiting.

pie day!!!

I am still on west coast time....although when I was there I kept saying I was still on east coast time. I mean, we would wake up at seven and feel great, but it was really ten! Now, when I wake up at nine I think that my body thinks it is six. Anyway, I had a hard time getting out of bed this morning...then the mail-lady called me and asked me if I wanted some fresh eggs...her chickens are laying so many she can't fit them in her fridge....she was here before I had a chance to get out of the has been hurry hurry hurry ever since.

The bad dog must have peed in the laundry room, perhaps when I was gone. On a rug that I had hoped to wash one of these days, and on some spare socks and undies that were on the I had to clean that up.

Then I had to go on my walk after playing in the yard with rambunctious Suri...

When I got home, Emily's little car was here in the driveway.

Time to make pies!

She went down the road to Mary's stand to get some apples and squash, which I had to borrow money from Evelyn for. I already owe Jon, he said. I just never have cash. Anyway...she is back with the apples.

We are making pumpkin, apple, lemon merangue, and chocolate pies. I don't know how many of each yet. We fly by the seat of our pants here.

I will take some pictures today...

Random rambling.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

a few nice pictures...

Benjamin, Paul, and I at Panda Express near Seattle....

Paul with Ben...

Just Ben...

Ashley didn't want to be in the pictures. Because I think she did not want to be in the picture anymore. So I am sad about that...again.

So today I feel a little like this picture I took of the Puget Sound on that rainy day...isn't it a desolate scene?

And that's all I am going to say tonight. I am tired. We had a safe trip, but flying all night while normal people sleep is not fun, well...I lie. It was fun for me. I didn't sleep on the plane. I watched other people put on their Complimentary Sleep Masks, and pop in their Complimentary Ear Plugs, and conk. But I stayed up and watched the tv screen of the kid in the row in front of me, I thought about things, I considered how much of my Complimentary Diet Coke I should drink because I was sitting next to a sound asleep little hairy guy with smudgy glasses, and I didn't want to wake him up to go use the bathroom. But I had to anyway, even though I wasted half a can of Diet Coke with my extreme caution. He jumped up immediately when I tapped his shoulder, murmuring how he was sorry...I don't know what he was sorry for, but he settled right back to sleep while I was enjoying the engineering marvel that makes up those tiny airplane bathrooms(and yes I know the pee didn't really fall out onto Minnesota)...I had to tap him again to get back into my seat...he was sorry again, too.

Anyway, I have had a busy day...we got into New York at dawn, into our city around nine...then home for a small snooze. Then hurry hurry to three dentist appointments. Then hurry home for dinner, and to four parent teacher conferences.

Good thing the kids are doing excellently in school, and their teachers love them. And, the nice thing was the teachers know we have been gone and that we flew in this morning. I didn't have to hide my dazed looks when the teachers referred to the various homework packets and assignments...because, yawn, We Have Been Gone.

Good thing though: Camille's teacher said she looked fine each morning. So Joseph did better than I thought he would....

I am tired and am rambling...goodnight!!!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

last day in washington...

This comfy hotel is starting to feel like home, after waking up here five mornings. We have certainly made ourselves at home. Our 'fridge has oranges and green peppers and fresh spinach and chicken in it. We have paper plates and paper towels and a few bottles of diet soda. And what's left of a bag of dark Guittard chocolate chips. Oh yeah, have to have my chocolate.

Our hotel breakfast hasn't been the greatest, the only sources of protein being yogurt, hard boiled eggs (yuck) and little packages of peanut butter that taste too sugary to actually be healthy. This morning I just said The Heck With It and had a small almond danish with peanut butter on the side. And a yogurt. And, two cups of Seattle's Best coffee.

We went to Winco four times while here, to keep stocked up on our healthy food. After visiting Ben and Ashley at their apartment last night though, we decided to stop at Subway. A five dollar sub with Buffalo sauce on it...yum.

The Puget Sound....we went to Defiance Park to see it. In the rain. The trees there look almost fake, with their brilliant green moss cover, and just their sheer size!

Anyway, we are checking out of our new little home in a few hours, then we have over nine hours 'til our flight leaves. We are leaving at night, taking the red eye, arriving in New York City in the wee hours of the morning, then taking a short flight home. I guess I should figure out who will be picking us up at the airport.

I just realized we came all the way to the west coast and didn't see the ocean, so I am asking Paul if we can please see how far it is and take a drive...

On another note, I miss my kids. There are a few families here, and when I see the kids, I just want to talk to them. One family has four little ones, and when that mama scooped up the little toddler, I was almost jealous. I want one more. just one. I thought I was okay with being done with that phase of my life, but apparently there is still something that makes me tear up and feel longing when I see babies. Then I feel guilty for being so greedy. I have been more than blessed. I know that. And I am very thankful for my family.

Okay...time to pack up...I have stuff flung all around the room, yes it looks like home in here.

Friday, November 16, 2012

pictures from washington

We think the snow must get pretty deep here if the orange poles are so high....

This is for Margaret...and Mirielle...they are just a bit for equal rights for women.

Snow in my sandals...

Paul looks tiny standing out in the dry floods in the spring...

Giant mossy trees at the base of the mountain...

We had such a nice time on our adventure to the mountain. On the way back to the hotel, we spotted a store that had lots of cheap apples for sale outside in the rain. As we pulled into the parking lot, one of the girls from home called to say she didn't do ANYTHING, and her sister bit her. After sorting that out with her, I talked to the sister, the alledged biter. She only bit her sister's sweater, she insisted! And her sister deserved it for hitting her so hard! Now, the first sister did not hit second sister, first sister insisted. I asked to speak to Margaret. She said she was sorry, but she was not aware the situation was happening until it was over with. I cannot sort this out from out here, dear, please do what you can to keep the peace. I told each of the girls to just help out and be nice and not fight.

Then Abigail called...she was taking the kids to the pool! The other older kids are working at the Dome for the Zack Brown concert. I hate not being home. Although I love being here.

We haven't seen Ben and Ashley today. He had to go to base, he only had 48 hours off. Ashley didn't want to go mountain-seeing with us. me sometime at If you would! I have so many worries about Ben right now. I am happy to be here, but so very concerned. My Mama Radar is really beeping.

Anyway, the store we stopped at for apples turned out to be THE STORE I want to steal and bring back to New York. It was so cheap! We got mixed lettuces for 99 cents, apples for 68 cents a pound, there was cheap Easter candy. Lots of cheap stuff. We bought some gum, and a bag of olive oil kettle chips, I know, dangerous.

We then stopped at Winco, for the ...ha, fourth time...and got another whole roasted $3.99 chicken. We had it for a late lunch with peppers and tomatoes and lettuce and some of those chips.

I think we are going to go down to the pool for a swim now...

Thursday, November 15, 2012

taking it easy here in tacoma....

Here in Washington state, we are three hours behind the east coast. So we wake up bright and early. This morning after breakfast, we took a swim, tried out the sauna, then the hot tub. Then we went out for a walk. We went a few blocks away from all the stores and gas stations and found a park. We walked around the lake, 9/10ths of a mile, then back toward the hotel, to Winco. Winco is my new favorite grocery store. We have been there three times now. Our hotel room has a fridge and a microwave, so we have a good stock of fresh fruit and veggies so we can eat salads. We also bought a whole roasted chicken, and some bacon. Today we decided to buy a roll of paper towels so we didn't splatter up the clean little microwave.

There is always fresh hot Seattle's Best coffee in the hotel foyer, so I am happy.

Anyway, we rented our car today, then went bowling with Ben and Ashley. First time I rolled the bowl, strike! Too bad it was a fluke. We were pretty much the worst bowlers in the alley, especially because we were right next to this huge guy who kept exclaiming, "I am gonna teach you a lesson!" every time he rolled a strike.

Out to dinner...we went to a family place that Ben and Ashley had noticed...(there are millions of places out here to eat. Unbelievable. $1.00 Chinese food places, Mexican, pizza, Hooter's, Popeye's...)anyway, we went to a homestyle place. Paul had a huge taco salad in a fresh fried taco bowl, Ben and Ashley both had Mama's chicken and biscuits, and I had fried chicken. It came with salad, green beans (really good real ones, fresh), and fries. I only had two of the fries, and ate two small pieces of the chicken so I could take the rest back here for tomorrow. Every dinner came with a piece of pie. Chocolate, banana cream, or coconut cream. I opted for the coconut cream. Thankfully Paul's salad didn't include the free pie, so he didn't order any. He shared with me. Good thing. Now I only feel half as guilty.

We don't have cable tv at home, so we don't watch such shows as, "House Hunters", "Pawn Stars", and then there is all the basketball...I actually love college basketball, and we got really addicted to this show where the guys bid on houses without seeing the insides....

Being with Ben and Ashley is nice too of course. Ben is still rather tired from all the time changes he has been through. He has to go back to base tomorrow, his 48 hour leave is over. He does get the weekend off though.

Paul and I are going on a little outing tomorrow! We are driving toward Mount Ranier. It is three times higher than the high peaks in the Adirondacks.

Being away from the kids is interesting. I miss them, but also I am able to think about them and see that I am lacking in dealing with each one. Absence does make the heart grow fonder, but it also makes me want to be a better mom. I have spent alot of my time here thinking about the kids, and praying for them. is nice to be away, nice to be with Benjamin, but it will be so nice to be home again. And...I also miss the dog.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

here in tacoma washington...

So good to see Benjamin!!!

Paul with Ben...

The happy mama with some Seattle's Best coffee...WITH half and half, Aaron. Poor Aaron. And Margaret. We stopped buying half and half at home, substituted it with whole milk...what a suffering we must endure to save a few bucks. I overheard some conversations about buying some when Mom left, because I so nicely left them with a credit card to buy what they "need". No shopping sprees, I said.

Anyway. We are here in the lovely state of Washington. Relaxing in our hotel room. We had our breakfast of hardboiled eggs (yuck, I just ate the white part with lots of pepper, and shh, don't tell my nursing student/children that I also had...shh, salt! on them). Plus a yummy green apple with peanutbutter, an orange, and a few bites of a chocolate drizzled rasberry danish. They put those there just to trip me up! But I only had a few bites and put the rest on Paul's plate.

After Benjamin and Ashley picked us up at the airport last night, we went to Applebee's. Ben has to re-acclimate to Real Life. He felt funny. He has been with soldiers for months, soldiers who don't exactly hold back what they are thinking while they are speaking. No language filters. I jokingly told Ben we should just call a truce and all say the "f" word. I told him not to worry, our family around the dinner table pretty much says what we think without thinking too much, although the kids say the forbidden "freakin" instead of the real "f" word.

Anyway, he was very tired. I know how we felt after leaving our house at 7:45 am, and arriving in Washington state at 5 pm, 8 pm New York time...only twelve hours of travel, and I was feeling light headed and silly...he traveled for like five days, and had only been there for a few hours when we arrived.

So we are chilling now. I took a quick swim last night before taking a dip in the hot tub with Paul. The pool and hot tub are open 24 hours!! I am thinking of heading down for a swim soon again, before Ben and Ashley pick us up to show us the base and pick up our rental car....

Relaxing is very nice. I think the degree to which one enjoys it is directly related to how busy one normally is. I know my days tend to be a bit quieter now, so quiet isn't unheard of in my life...but out here I am not stressing about laundry or who is driving to Activity club or what's for dinner...

In other words, I am having a great time!!!!

Not that I don't miss the kids...I do. But. This is nice...

Monday, November 12, 2012

that moment when I realize....

I do not have to get up this morning! There is no school! Yay. But could I fall back to sleep? Not a chance! I was excited about our trip to Washington as soon as I realized that it was Monday and we leave tomorrow morning! Yay!!!

Benjamin is probably going to get there before Paul and I. He and Ashley will then pick us up at the airport. I wanted it to be the other way around, with us being there when he arrived, but this works too.

Another monkey wrench in the monkey wrench pile: Joseph got a job, starting tomorrow. He is our primary babysitter, so now no one can be sick and stay home from school! He will still be able to get them ready and on the bus, which is causing me just a teeny tiny bit of apprehension, to be honest. Joseph brushing little girls' hair? I can just picture them going out the door with high heels on and sweaters with sleeves too short. And messy hair.

I am too excited to focus. It's not a trip to Jamaica, the weather looks lousy. Fifty-ish degrees, cloudy, rainy...blah. But. I am not going for the weather, and I am just so excited. I am sure Paul and I will have a nice time, too.

Sorry, I cannot focus. Oh, email is

Sunday, November 11, 2012

what a sunday!

I walked today. Jogged a little, went up the hill, down the road, down the hill, back up again, then home. My feet hurt. My sneakers are too small. We had to be at church by three o'clock, but I needed new sneakers. For a long time now. So Mirielle and Aaron and Margaret and I went to Kohl's. I found two promising pairs, but one was a bit too big, the other a bit too narrow. The mens' fit width-wise, but were all too big. But I didn't just walk out of there without using my 15% off card, no, Margaret found some eleven dollar Converse, and a shirt. I bought three shirts for Joe and Sam, a few long-sleeved shirts for the princesses, and two shirts for me. All for cheap, of course.

Anyway...grilled chicken outside, made a salad, warmed up some potatoes...

Rented a car for our trip...when we get there, that is. We are flying. It takes six hours from New York City to Washington state. It is going to be hard to eat healthy on this trip, but I will try anyway. Balance bars and almonds, at least.

I successfully misplaced my notebook with all the flight numbers, ect, for the trip. I did not really lose it, someone took it from my shelf. Some little girl, probably.

Benjamin will probably be coming in at noon on Tuesday, our flight gets there at 5-ish in the afternoon. So it doesn't look like we will be there when he gets off the plane. But I am still very excited. Ashley said they will pick us up from the airport...yay!!!!

I need to pack, and finish getting out all the clothes for the princesses to wear to school for the week. I already have Jonathan's picked out. Mirielle and I made a meal plan, and are making a chore list.

Mali is here visiting, and the princesses are still up. No school tomorrow, yay!!!!

I hope I remember my family!!!!

happy veterans' day, happy birthday benjamin

This should be a short post, because it is absolutely gorgeous outside here in central New York state. Almost 60 degrees already. My silly little princesses are using the leftover birthday balloons to make boobies.

So many little details to chat about, but today I will keep it short. I will mention that I received a call from Benjamin yesterday while working at the Dome. He was very excited: he was leaving the country of Afghanistan, Happy Birthday to him!!!!

He grew up with the day off from school each year, but this year, Veteran's Day being his birthday is more meaningful. His deployment is over, he is headed home, and I don't ever want a son or daughter fighting in a war again. Not that I was terrified the whole time, but there was the underlying stress, the fleeting thoughts that went through my mind when the phone rang, the apprehension when there were stretches of days when we didn't hear from him....and of course there is that knowledge that my innocent son SAW things, experienced things, has things to deal with...

Anyway, he called to say he may be in Washington State BEFORE Tuesday, which is when Paul and I get there. Don't Worry About It, I told him. Ashley will be there to meet him, if we aren't there when he gets off the plane, it will be okay. I would LOVE to be there for it, but...I told him to just enjoy his birthday, enjoy his flight, his last bit of vacation..ha. (I googled "military airline flights from Afghanistan", and um, not very vacation-ish).

Anyway, out for my walk....

Friday, November 9, 2012

yah, we're goin' to washington!

I am very excited to say that we finally purchased airline tickets and reserved a hotel room for next week!!! Benjamin is going to be on his way to the U.S.A. very soon. Of course it takes a while, Afghanistan is pretty much on the other side of the world. He gets to stop in a few countries on the way back, then Alaska, then Washington state. I told him to at least go outside and throw a snowball in Alaska, but he said he didn't think he would care about anything at that point except: getting home. Home as in Washington, that is. He won't be coming to New York until Christmas.

Buying tickets on the internet is not fun. Especially for a Computer Whiz like me. I do know how to open lots of tabs now, so that helps. But comparing prices, and deciding whether it's worth the drive to fly out of a more distant city than our nearest airport...and then actually making the decision and clicking on, "Book Now". Paul had to go to bed, he was just tired out last night, leaving me to do all the clicking and deciding. If he doesn't like the prices I paid or the flights I chose, ha, too bad, right? Anyway, the tickets are bought and I still need to rent a car...

The hotel I chose has a 24 hour indoor pool! And a hot tub. And free breakfast. And brand new pillowtop beds which have gotten great reviews. And it's reasonably priced.

Anyway. I have two little princesses home today from school. Charlotte Claire is coming down with a cold, Camille has had one too...they got off that bus yesterday and were just so wiped out. Going to school day after day for them seems like rolling a boulder up a Friday, almost impossible. Jonathan went alone like a little champ, probably because I promised to pick him up early:)

Anyway. I am a lucky girl. I have these daughters...they are so much fun
Evelyn Joy 13, Kathryn Grace 14, Suzanne Eleanor 11, and Sonja Kathleen 10.

Kathryn, me, Sonja

In the thrift store, the girls thought lots of clothes were funny. One girl laughing is one thing, four of them...very loud. They tried on trench coats and they picked up purple floral blouses and lacy collared dresses and laughed their heads off. I just let them, actually pretended I didn't know them. I love thrift stores. One of the girls found an Abercrombie&Fitch jacket for $3.99. I found a cashmere button-down sweater for myself in the nicest lavendar color. And a pair of jeans.

I was nice and took them to the Chinese wasn't nice for me though. I had only chicken and oranges. No rice, none of those yummy noodles, no pudding jello ice cream pastries frenchfries or onion rings. I still gained two pounds. 2.2 pounds up from yesterday. ouch. and NO FAIR.

Anyway...on the way home I randomly stopped at a little old rural cemetery....

Sonja liked the name on this stone.

Kap liked going through this old gate.

Evelyn Joy
Suzanne and the gate...

in order of age...Sonja, Suze, Evelyn, Kap....

One last stop at the old school house...

A peek at the past...the school house was all locked up, but Kathryn took a picture through the window...a glimpse of 1861.

Suze looking in...

And, one last picture, of Kathryn.

Suri needs to go out, the little girls need attention, and there is so much work to do around here. The girls poured their own cereal, and I heard those magical words, "Char, get the paper towels, quick!". They are so funny. They were talking about being afraid of Page Dark. I was wondering who that was when Char said, "I am not afraid of partly dark, only Page Dark." Camille answered, "It's PEACH Dark, Char!"

Thursday, November 8, 2012

dear children....

In this world, people don't like to talk about death. It's like talking about it will make it happen, as if otherwise it wouldn't. But we all shall die one day, whether we talk about it or not.

And since I am older than you all, I will probably pass away before you, which I certainly hope is the case.

I don't know how many of you read my blog, my dear children. But, when I die, please share these things from this post...unless of course it isn't for like fifty years and blogs are totally obsolete and forgotten by then...

Kids: Don't hold anything against me. I know I forgot your snacks and didn't get the socks matched and when you came to tell me that Sonja just smacked you or that Suze is being mean, and I just said Okay, I'll Take Care Of It and never did anything about it, I was not perfect. I got easily distracted. When you were telling me your dream about an ipad as big as our t.v. or about a zombie invasion and I interrupted you to tell a sibling to Not Step In That Water Someone Spilled, it didn't mean I wasn't interested in your dream. When you asked me to pick you up from school all those times and I couldn't, it wasn't personal. I was just too busy. When I forgot which teacher you had, it wasn't because I didn't care about you, it was just that the teachers changed each year, and I couldn't keep track.

Believe me, I tried my best. I was ever conscious of giving you each all the attention I could. I loved hearing about your days. I loved when you were interested in mine. I never ever loved one of you more than another. I was so stinkin' proud of all of you! I thought you were the prettiest, the handsomest, the smartest, most clever kids in the world. I loved the way you got along with each other, the fun we had around that dinner table. Having you all around me was more than a million times worth all the laundry and medical bills and those huge dinners I made night after night. All the dishes and diapers were nothing compared to the joy of your snuggles and even those sarcastic comments...the way you guys would MOMMMMMMM!, and I would say, "Don't MOOOMMMM me!"

Anyway, I hope you guys don't have just memories of me nagging about putting your shoes on the shelf and leaving drinks in the living room. I hope you forget the times I argued back with you, and when I would get so frustrated that I would actually stomp my feet. I didn't really care Who Left The Milk Out, no matter who did it, I still loved them. I just got a bit overwhelmed at the magnitude of the messes sometimes. I know you guys hated when I would start ranting about the state of the house, so I learned, little by little, not to do that...thanks to your helpful comments, like, "Mom, don't start!!!" Did you notice I made progress in that area?

Anyway, if you are reading this after I am gone, make sure of a few things for me. Things that keep me awake at night. Make sure you care about each other. Talk to each other. Listen to each other. Be good to Dad. He doesn't always remember to ask about your days, but he loves you more than anything and will always do anything he can to help you out.



P.S. I don't know why I felt compelled to write this. It freaks me out a little bit, to tell the truth. It might be because my heart was racing while I tried to fall asleep last night, that always makes me wonder if This Is It. But it was probably just thinking about Ben coming home from Afghanistan. And it's not like I suspect I have cancer or am anticipating a car crash. But things do happen, people all pass away at some time or another, so I just thought I would write this to you, I have to get moving because I am too nice today. I am picking Suzanne and Evelyn up from school...Kathryn and Sonja are home...and we are going gallivanting. If you are a teacher and are reading this, believe me, it will be educational. Ha, I will learn how much patience I DON'T have.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

yay yay yay!!!

I talked to Benjamin today! He might just be heading home very soon! He is on the list to leave on the next flight out! He is not 100% certain, because he was told the other day he would be leaving, and the plane was full. His name was not called. So he is on the list to leave tomorrow morning, which is in the middle of the night here. If he does indeed get on that plane, he will be on U.S. soil by next Monday, probably! Yay!!!

I hadn't heard from him for a while, and was a bit worried. I found out why: there was a blackout, which means the soldiers cannot text, or call...until the next of kin is notified of a death...a 19 year old soldier...the details are grim, and I am not sure of I am at liberty to write anything about it, but let's just say it is a sad story.

And that's all I am going to write tonight...I will leave you with a picture...
When Joseph was in nursing school, he had to write, on this little paperboard t-shirt, why he wanted to be a nurse. The other students wrote things like Helping People or Nurturing. Joseph just drew this chimp. Mirielle and Aaron saw it lined up in the hallway with the others, and couldn't quite believe it. Anyone else think Joseph may be cut out for something other than being a nurse?

happy birthday to camille anaya...

I am not a total slacker, I made cupcakes for her class last night. With pink frosting and sprinkles. They totally look like bakery cupcakes. I tasted the frosting, and yummers, as Mirielle would say.

I did not bring them into her classroom though. I sent them on the bus with Jonathan. He was holding the container very carefully, and I told him that if they got a little smushy, it was okay. I hated to say that, but he was just being SO careful.

And just in case anyone remotely cares, I am not jumping up and down about the election results. I don't want to get into my long list of reasons, but rrr.

I have swept some floors and washed some dishes and put some laundry in to wash already this morning. Not to mention the hair I brushed, the lunches I packed, the dog I fed and walked. I helped Jonathan alphabetize his 21 spelling words, and packed their snacks. They all go out the door, silence. I would rather have the chaos, thank you!

We are celebrating Camille's birthday on Sunday...because there is Activity club tonight, probably something tomorrow, stuff on Friday night (ice hockey/skating and chorus/band practice), a football game at the Dome on Sunday was free. Church in the morning, then her party...then Abigail told me the youth girls from church were planning a dinner...blah. So we shall see who ends up where....

My mother-in-law, Eleanor, has been keeping in close touch with me...Paul's dad is in the hospital. He fell and hit his head, was unresponsive for a bit, then had an episode of a-fib., and is just really exhausted. Eleanor sounds really tired out. They do have friends and family down there, but I would love to go down to Florida and see her.

So as much as I would love to stay home on this cold autumn day and get my house all spic and span, I need milk and would like some frozen fruit and some things for Activity club tonight....

In weight loss news, or lack of therein, blah. I need to kick-start this thing! Again! My poor body is so used to what I eat, the pounds are just not dropping off anymore. Time to get creative again, eat cleaner. I feel like a sensor goes off somewhere when I eat one handful of chocolate chips, and tells the scale to add a pound. It is supposed to be mathematical, but there is no way I have eaten 3500 extra calories when that scale goes up a pound. No way.

Anyway, I am going to work harder and get this thing moving. Again.

Last night I made home made meatballs for dinner. I didn't even make pasta, just the meatballs, sauce, and green beans.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

what about these three soldiers???!

Three of them. All Engineers from the Oswego Reserves. In Afghanistan, another Forgotten War. They were clearing a road, hit an IED. Their names: Army Spc. Brett E. Gornewicz, 27 years old. Army Spc. Ryan P. Jayne, 22 years old. Army Staff Sgt. Dain T. Venne, 29 years old. They died. A fourth soldier was injured but is expected to survive.

The governor of New York has requested that flags fly half-mast from government buildings on Wednesday in honor of their sacrifice.

I am just a little upset that our local news has reported nothing about this. Not a word.

And that is my morning rant. rrr.

I thought the least, the very least I could do, was write their names. Certainly their families didn't forget them, they have the unenviable task of going to Dover, Delaware, to claim their bodies.

Perhaps because my son is due to leave that place so soon, I feel a bit guilty about the ones still there. It is hard to be jubilant about Benjamin being out of danger, when all those other soldier still are.

So the least I can do is write their names. Yes, I am crying for them. It won't do a bit of good, but I can't help it.

So I WILL go out and vote today. Not because I really think it will help, but because too many have suffered and sacrificed so that we get a chance to shouldn't be taken lightly or for granted.

Because whether we "believe in" whatever war we are fighting or not, those soldiers sign up to uphold the principals of this country. They DO suffer, even if they come home well and good. I personally think the most special thing about our military is that they join of their own accord! They join because they WANT to protect their country. They feel strongly enough about freedom that they are willing to put themselves in harm's way to protect it.

So, I will go vote. I don't get too much into politics, but I know that whoever supports Israel will be blessed, so I am behind whoever will do that. And we all know who doesn't.

And, that is the end of today's rant.

But not the end of the post. Ha, I have more to say. Jonathan 8, Charlotte Claire 6, and Camille almost 5, met Abigail at the pool yesterday afternoon. It was already pitch dark at 5:30, thanks to the time change. All three of the little ones swim with no floaties now. No fear, they jump in, and they swim underwater. Camille started to fall apart by the time we were dressing to go home. She had worn her suit there under her clothes, and gotten some clean undies to wear home. I thought she had packed them in her little bag like Char did, but apparently she forgot to get them. She had a FIT about it. She wanted to wear the wet suit bottoms home, no sir. It was way to chilly out. She did not like the whole situation one little bit, and I just wanted to get home and eat some hot soup. I somehow got her out the door of the gym and into the van..she fussed and cried all the way home.

I always said my youngest wouldn't be a brat. ha.

But she is a smoochy brat!

And now, I shall get out of my comfy chair and get a few things done around here...

Monday, November 5, 2012

out and about on monday...

Camille and I had places to go this morning. She wanted to pause and play in the snow on the deck, but we had to hurry hurry to the dr. Our perfectly good reason for running late this time was that I was helping Joseph locate his birth certificate, so that he can get an enhanced driver's license to go to Canada for our church Christmas feast next month. His passport has expired, and they are so expensive to renew. His birth certificate is not in the drawer with all the others, for some reason. we went. (Joe just has to go to the courthouse and get a new one). Camille saw the dr., got some magic drops put on the warts, and left with stickers and a Reese's peanut butter cup, and five coupons for free kids' meals from Applebee's. (some night when all the older kids are at a youth meeting or something, we can take the younger kids out to dinner!).

After the grocery store, where we met up with my sister...and bought bananas and pears and burger and green beans and yogurt and eggs. Camille got to pick out a donut, and I got a nice hot cup of coffee. I did want a donut, I did. But I didn't have one.

Walmart to buy Samuel a belt. He wears a uniform three days a week to his Criminal Justice class, and has to wear a black belt. He and Paul have been sharing. Paul wants his belt back.

I got Jonathan something for Christmas that he wanted last year, this year it was on clearance. I hope he still wants it. I bought Camille a fancy red crinoline skirt for 75% off. with the groceries, and time to clean up the Monday Mess. Into the wash with towels, out of the dryer with a load of bedding. Sweep the floors, wash some dishes...then time to work out. A nice little break with a yogurt and a few chocolate chips, then time to make the dinner. A nice big pan of chicken soup with potatoes, carrots, and peas is simmering on the stove.

Some of the younger kids and I are meeting Abigail at the pool soon. It is not a nice night to go to the pool. It is cold, and getting dark already. But, they have energy, and goodness knows I can always use the exercise.

Plus, they already have their suits packed. And, I committed to Abigail. So I can't back out.

Camille got her birthday card in the mail from Gramma today. She was so thrilled! She jumped up and down and told everyone over and over again that, "I am rich! I have thirty dollars! I can buy anything I want!" Her joy and innocence are so refreshing. And, hilarious.

She was so good at the dr. office. She sat nice and still while the dr. applied the medicine, and put on the bandages. A day out with just Mommy is not taken for granted by Camille.

I just had a nice afternoon cup of coffee with two frozen Paleo pumpkin cookies. It should tide me over 'til dinnertime. I have learned the hard way not to go to the pool on a stomach that is too empty. Growl growl growl. Something about swimming makes me so hungry. I will have to make sure these guys save us some soup.

Tomorrow I have a coffee/tea date! I am invited over to visit my friends. Dave is a survivor of asophogeal cancer, five years out! He and Angela have 8 kids, and are just amazing to be with.

At some point I have to make cupcakes to bring into kindergarten for Camille's birthday Wednesday, and for the activity club in the evening. Ha, real busy, right?

Sunday, November 4, 2012

the long winter....

Hasn't even begun. It DID snow here this morning in central New York state. And it IS cold. Too cold to go out and play, the ground is wet and soggy. I took a long walk this morning, so I know it isn't weather kids would want to be out in...

So what do they do you might wonder? This morning I heard the words every mom wants to hear, "Tag, you're it!" And the next best, "Hide and Seek, go hide!"

The princesses already had one of their marathon baths, with Barbies and mermaid dolls and boats. They had pancakes and bacon and scrambled eggs for breakfast. They have colored, and played matching game with Daddy. Our television hasn't been on today, which is nice. As one of the older girls was sweeping the floor this mroning, she said, "This is total chaos."....I said, "I will give you that it's chaos, but this is FAR from total."

By spring, we will all be crazy.

I will have to try to get them to the rec center pool at least once a week.

And now, it is time to get ready to go to the....Dome.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

and my baby is almost five...

I started this blog five+ years ago, before Miss Camille Anaya was born. She has been the biggest blessing of my life. When her sister was born 18 months before her after three miscarriages, I thought I couldn't get any happier...

But my pregnancy with Camille was amazing. I have of course written about it here a few times at least, because it WAS so amazing...I thought I had miscarried. The dr. thought so too. But the pregnancy tests said positive a few weeks after they should have been saying Negative....'positive', after all that the dr. ordered a blood test. I guess my numbers were through the roof, and when the midwife called and told me this little fact, I asked her what it meant. She said she wasn't sure, but could I come right in? Because sometimes I am a huge dummy, I thought for sure I had ovarian cancer. I had been feeling awful, sick, tired. The thought had crossed my mind more than once during those weeks that something was really wrong with me. Turns out something was actually really RIGHT with me. Ha. When I got to the office, the dr. said he wanted to do a quick sono and see what was going on. Well. There on the screen was a little sweetie-pie, kicking and squirming. Fifteen weeks or so. The dr was jubilant, went out and got his wife, and the other nurse. They said I should name this baby, "Destiny". Because this pregnancy was really a miracle.

I didn't name her Destiny, obviously. But Anaya means, "God answered".

Camille has been my squishy little pumpkin sweetheart from day one.

I love all of my kids, but she definitely has a special place in my heart.

She does this thing where she talks like a baby. She calls me, "Mucky".

She climbs up on my lap and wants me to pick her up when I am walking around the kitchen.

She calls me to wipe her still.

I have held onto her babyness for dear life.

Sending her off to kindergarten probably seriously broke my heart in two.

And it hasn't gotten much easier.

I let her stay home the other day with her cold, and believe me, it was heavenly. She kept me company in the van, asked me, "How do I move?" I told her her brain tells her muscles what to do. She asked, "How does my tongue move? Does my brain tell my tongue to tell my muscles to move?"

So she is turning five years old. wah.

Monday morning I have to take her to the dermatologist. She has some warts on her hands, on her thumb, which she still loves, and now on her sweet little face. This makes me sad for her because kids at school have asked her what she has on her face. The school nurse called me one day and said the teacher and the teacher's helper have been wondering...rrr. I took her to the dr for them back in September, it takes forever and a day to get into the dermatologist. Anyway. I don't want it to hurt her to get them removed. But I don't want it to hurt her to keep them there.


Anyway, her birthday is on Wednesday.

We are having her party next Sunday.

We like to drag out the birthdays.

I like to drag out the littleness of the little ones. But Charlotte Claire is different. She ran ahead like a big kid on Halloween. She is brave and mature and doesn't need me like Camille does. I love her dearly too, but she is just different.

Tonight, seven of us are sitting around, watching football. I am really ignoring football, but Paul is watching it. Sonja, Jonathan, Char, and Camille are having a Sleepover in Sonja and Jon's room. After our yummy dinner, we had baked fake apple pie. Real apples, with a butter/flour crumb topping. I made some especially for me with no crumb sugar. Topped some almonds with melted butter.

Now the apples are all gone. They have been really expensive this year. We had a freeze right after the trees budded. The place where we bought them had a horrible harvest, 500 bushels instead of 8000.

So Sam and I went on a walk in the rain this afternoon. It was just sprinkling out, then it rained a bit harder. It was cold, but we walked fast. Sam is good company. He makes the walk go by fast. He had shorts on, and socks with flip-flops. I had my giant black rain coat on and a funny hat with a pompom on the top, so I couldn't say anything.

My black rain coat was not giant when I bought it. It is a good thing, but also a bit sad. The jeans I wore today are getting loose, which is also a good thing. Size 16, getting loose! That is major for me! I bought them a few months ago, and couldn't get them zipped. I bought them In Hope. When I could finally get them zipped, they were too tight to be seen in, plus I was scared they would rip. Now, they are getting baggy.

Okay, the real reason I am writing here is because it takes two hands, and keeps me busy. I am not exactly hungry, but I want to eat something. My three teenage-ish boys are sitting here...Aaron just had a plate of nacho chips with melted cheese, Sam had ice cream and Halloween candy with a glass of milk. I want something. Not really, but really. I am thinking about chocolate, chocolate chips, yum. But I have had enough today, and really don't want to eat this late at night. Not a big deal, perhaps, but it is for me. I cannot just give in everytime I REALLY want something. Or the pounds will come straight back. The jeans will get tight again, and I won't be able to bend down and tie my shoes.

Losing weight and getting into shape is so hard. It is harder to keep the weight on, of course. Easier, because one can just eat that chocolate, but then has to huff and puff and agonize about clothes and avoid stairs. The hard part is saying NO over and over and over again. Everyone is different, I guess, because some people say they don't even want junk anymore after a while. Either my "while" is longer than their "while", or I am just plain different. I am a hungry, snack-y person.

Yes, it has been a long long road, this weight loss thing. But I have come a long ways. I consider before I eat things. I make conscious decisions. I enjoy the things I indulge in, I don't just wolf things down. I don't eat toast or bread or sandwiches anymore, I just don't. I don't eat cereal anymore. Ever. Candy, rarely. Same with cookies. Popcorn, once a week, perhaps twice. The real stuff, popped in oil. With butter. I would eat it every day if I thought I could get away with it, but I have to limit it, and limit my portion, which is easy when everyone is here.

So I suppose in some ways it has gotten easier. I have gotten used to eating healthier, for the most part.

And now I am rambling, I am tired. Shower, bed...working at the Dome tomorrow. Evil Hill, Evil Stairs, here I come!

football, blah!!!

Football is on every channel. It is a cold rainy day here in central New York state. The kind of day to stay inside and....well, it would be nice to just sit and read a book. ha.

Paul put together our new tv stand that Emily brought us from Ikea. It looks pretty nice. We finally have our coffee table back as a coffee table, after like three and a half years. I cleaned up over near the door, sorted shoes. I threw away lots of worn out sneakers and outgrown sandals. Then I sat on the floor in front of the small bookcase, and sorted books. I threw away coloring books with wrinkled colored pages, and some old school folders and some stupid books. Now the books are standing up the way they belong. I sneaked a load of towels in between the loads the older kids have been putting through all day.

I have two whole chickens to put in the oven soon, some red potatoes to roast, and some asparagus. I am not very hungry, since I had a late lunch of salad (lettuces with tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers), a sliced dill pickle, some chopped up chicken breast, a few slices of pepperoni...then a slice of gluten-free pumpkin bread with hot coffee...

Abigail just returned from a trip to the library and a few stores, with Evelyn and Jonathan. Abigail will be coming over again tomorrow to be with Margaret and Kathryn and Evelyn and Suzanne and Sonja and Jonathan and Charlotte Claire and Camille, while Paul and I and Mirielle and Joseph and Aaron and Samuel work at the Dome...another basketball game.

We do gain an hour tonight though, yay.

I think I will put those chickens in the oven, dress warmly, and go for a nice brisk long walk. Preferably without Suri, the stopping/sniffing/pulling puppy. I know, taking her is good for her, but. I do not care to stop for every dead frog and stray leaf.

Friday, November 2, 2012

lazy afternoon...

Sometimes Suri is a bad dog. She chewed up Camille's new fairy wings.

so I made her wear them for a picture.

Now she is trying hard to behave herself. There is candy everywhere. She tried to steal a lollipop, but wasn't fast enough. I said she was being a good girl, but Sam said she stole someone's after-school snack, some pizza, from a paper plate on the Little Tikes Table. And Jon, who had a leftover pot pie for snack, said she licked it, "but I still ate it." lovely.

Jon's pile of treats. They are having a good old time this dark rainy afternoon, trading candy. And eating candy. I did eat the almond off Camille's Almond Joy for her. I wanted peanut M&M's really badly, but I ate the last two Paleo chocolate chip cookies, AND two pumpkin Paleo cookies. ouchie. These cookies are not low calorie and are not meant to be eaten in excess. oh well. I will behave the rest of the day.

I picked Evelyn, Suzanne, Sonja, Jonathan, Charlotte Claire, and Camille up from school today. They were happy to see the three $5 pizzas I bought from Price Chopper. After-school snack/dinner...I said I would give them a healthy snack later. I am thinking of taking some of them to the pool this afternoon...I haven't exercised yet, and it is so chilly to walk (39 degrees, and raining).

I love the lazy time of the afternoon, before it is time to make dinner (there is chicken breast marinating in lemon pepper for Paul and I and kids who don't eat pizza (two of the girls eat gluten-free). I am also planning to make a huge salad. Yum.

Anyway, it is nice in here. There is coffee, there are arguing or fighting at the moment...