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

Saturday, August 31, 2013

saturday morning....

Ahh, it is good to have Paul home again! Such a blessing it is to be so in love with someone.

This morning I took my walk, washed up an overflowing sink full of dishes, made a breakfast of bacon and eggs, ate mine with an entire Heirloom tomato from the garden...and found my comfy chair. There is much more to do, of course, but the a.c. is on and humming, I still have plenty of coffee in my mug, and my comfy chair is just plain comfy.

The older kids are all at the youth conference at church...Emily and Abigail and Mirielle and Joseph and Aaron and Samuel and Margaret and Kathryn and Evelyn and Suzanne. Benjamin is in Washington in the Army, and Mali chooses not to go.

So Paul and I are here with just Sonja K. 11, Jonathan 9, Charlotte Claire 7, and Camille Anaya 5. The girls are playing dolls, Sonja is vacuuming her room, and Jon is looking online at tablets. He is saving money to buy one, and is like a walking encyclopedia, overflowing with facts and reviews and features about them. Too bad he can't find his wallet, he has over a hundred dollars saved in that cute little cow wallet, we can't find it anywhere. That has to be in the top ten of the Saddest Things of The First World list, if there were one...when a kid loses his wallet/purse/money.

Anyway, it is rather quiet, and I would like a nap already thank you. But seriously, I finally had a good sleep last night, after having the bed to myself for two weeks....I SO thought I would sleep better, but naw. Couldn't fall asleep, couldn't stay asleep with Paul gone.

Our marriage has been so very blessed. We are both pretty sure we love each other more now than when we got married. There are trials, and times I am certain that he doesn't really like me, but one thing's for sure: we are on the same page. We aren't blaming each other, and aren't against each other. We are FOR each other.

Today stretches before me, no concrete plans, a day full of promise. I shall take the kids in the pool, help the little girls decide what to wear on the first day, try to finish our homeschool plans for Jonathan....(Martha, any homeschool wisdom to pass along to me? I am totally clueless! Email me at if you do!)

Thursday, August 29, 2013

fair day at the fair

Jonathan and I. We didn't eat the fried fare offered at the fair, but the ice cream was really really good. More than fair.

Camille wants to be a soldier when she grows up.

Jon just liked trying on the helmet.

Camille and Charlotte Claire, so excited to go on the bus to the fair.

And the reason we went to the fair see Samuel James, future soldier, be sworn in in a ceremony that honored veterans.

Hot and tired and need to jump in the pool. The fair is hot and dusty and expensive, but we had fun anyway. It is good to be home, even though certain girls didn't do much around here while we were gone and blah, I certainly don't feel like it right now. We are headed for a church gathering in an hour or so, and need dinner first.

Paul is coming home tomorrow evening, yay!!! I seriously did not know one could miss someone so much!!!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

random thoughts....

1. Summer is too short.

2. My kids are pretty nocturnal, as is their crazy mother.

3. I am so excited and actually at rest about homeschooling Jonathan and Kathryn.

4. I am not so excited to be sending the two little princesses to school, but they have new backpacks (with matching lunchboxes!), and are counting the days in excitement. Seven kids will still get on that school bus.

5. The pool hose is replaced, yay me.

6. After replacing the hose, I turned on the pool filter, and dang it if the water level in the pool was too low for it to run...yup.

7. It is hot and humid here in New York state, so we closed up the windows and turned the a.c. on in the living room.

8. Today I took Abigail to the doctor...well, I dropped her off, then went to Marshall's all by myself. I got the girls some nice blouses for going back to school for $2 and $3 dollars each.

9. Steak grilled out, romaine, peppers and garden tomatoes, mashed 'tatoes. But: we had to leave for soccer practice as soon as the food was done, since I am such a terrific planner and the steak cooked so slowly...I hated leaving when Emily and Abigail were visiting, and Aaron had just come in the door from work.

10. Tomorrow morning we are going to the New York State fair. Mirielle and I are taking Jonathan, Charlotte Claire, and Camille. We are taking the bus from town, it only costs $9 each way and we won't have to deal with traffic or pay for parking.

11. Samuel will be doing a swearing-in ceremony with the Army Future Soldiers program. We hope we make it there in time!

12. I wasn't real big on going to the fair...for years now I have wanted to go, yet not wanted to. The heat and the crowds and the fried food...but Sam really wants me to be there. So, I decided the little kids will like the huge sand castles and the butter sculpture and the 25 cent chocolate milk and the farm animals, as if there aren't cows and horses right on our own road....

13. The three youngest are spending the night at Emily and Abigail's house tonight. I opted out so I can get ready to leave for the fair in the morning. I felt bad. But I can't do everything.

14. I swam in the pool today, then took a small evening walk. Not enough. But better than nothing.

15. Yesterday afternoon I was feeling a bit defeated because I hadn't exercised all day, then I decided that the day wasn't over yet! Yup, I fit it in, an evening workout!

16. We have to hurry home from the fair to get to a church meeting by 6:00.

17. Five of the girls are watching, "Downton Abbey", so I cannot concentrate.

Monday, August 26, 2013

last week of summer vacation....

Today is cloudy and rainy and I love it! Since I had to drive Aaron to town to drop off his car for inspection, I couldn't sleep in and enjoy this scrumptious sleeping weather. I woke at 7:30 and that was it. I stepped out of my bedroom into the hallway, right into a pile of cat poop. Dang if I didn't hop from that right into the puddle of kitty pee next to it. By then I was muttering all sorts of things. And of course we were down to our single last paper towel, so I had to clean it up with toilet paper. That darned cat, if I throw his little bum outside, he will destroy the screens trying to get back in. grrr.

The biggest thing in my mind today is that it is almost Friday. Almost. Paul is coming home on Friday. I really really can't wait.

The New York state fair is on my list. Thursday is the day for soldiers and veterans to get in free, Samuel is supposed to go and be with the Army guys for his Future Soldiers thing. So perhaps I will take some little ones on that day. We have a church gathering that afternoon, so it is iffy if I can manage the fair that day.

Mirielle wants to take Jonathan kayaking. I want to go to the library again, although I have to pay for a book that no one knows anything about. I do not remember checking it out, no one does. It is overdue. I can't find it. I don't remember ever seeing it. But I am going to have to pay for it soon. Several kids are interested in going to the library, so we will probably go today.

I also need to go to the grocery store. We need lightbulbs and paper towels and dog food.

School is starting next week, do you think I have so much as glanced at their supply lists yet? I have stocked up on notebooks and pens and crayons and markers and a few new calculators, but they probably need index cards and highlighters and 3-subject notebooks. Sometimes the teachers ask for boxes of baggies, tissues, wipes.

With so many daughters, they always need clothes. Always. They never ever have anything to wear. I try to remember that feeling, wait, I still have it! I like to send them off to school looking neat and nice and feeling comfortable with themselves, but of course not for regular price!

My little girls really want to go out and about with me. They get silly and dance around and touch things and I wonder how on earth I managed a few years back when a five year old and a seven year old were considered "older" kids.

Well, things to do await me. I need to vacuum, sweep, clean my room. I need to flea comb the animals and make some phone calls. I need to walk and exercise and eat breakfast. There is never enough time, never enough empty days. They fill up so fast, and I am trying to remember that they are also numbered....

Sunday, August 25, 2013

can you say, "embarrassing"?

First of all, I worked at the baseball game today...and yesterday. It isn't so bad, the weather was nice, we were busy enough at the chicken stand for time to fly. But I hate leaving the kids. Not that I don't have kids with me, today Joseph and Samuel worked with me, yesterday Mirielle was there too.

Today was not fun because I almost fainted. Now, I try to eat right. You know that. But today...well, I had gone in the pool, swam around as much as I could in a short period of time to get some exercise, get my blood moving. After a quick shower, it was time to go. I grabbed a few pieces of pepperoni and an apple. Well, we stopped at Tim Horten's on the way to the game...I got an iced coffee, no sugar. And a chocolate glazed donut. Fast forward like three or four hours, I was cashier-ing, and all of the sudden, my heart started pounding and racing, I felt dizzy and confused, and thought I was going to faint. I left the stand and ate a few bites of a Balance Bar and some almonds....and ended up sitting for the rest of the game....I just felt jittery and awful. I am almost certain it was because I ate the sugary donut, then my blood sugar dropped. So guess what? I am cured. No more donuts. I am going to be so careful to eat good balanced meals.....

Anyway, the embarrassing story: when Paul went to Germany, I had my little jealousy thing about him traveling with a co worker who happens to be female. I was a bit miffed that he fondly referred to her as, "Traveling Buddy". Now, this has nothing to do with her, as a person. Or with Paul, whom I totally trust. It was just me, and I am sure I am not the only one in this world who would be a tad bit jealous of her husband going to the other side of the world with....a female co-worker. Dang, is this making the whole thing worse? Because here is what happened....

Paul was with some of his co-workers over there in Germany. A guy from Italy recognized that he was, "The guy with 16 kids". Paul didn't have a photo to show him, so he opened up my blog. And. Someone else apparently opened it up on their phone, and clicked on that article.....oh my goodness....and started reading it out loud. Paul said that his Travelling Buddy was right there next to him. I can't even think about it without feeling like a total idiot. Paul says that's what I get for writing things like that.

I guess that's what I get. But for the record, the whole thing was just for me to write about the way I felt about things. I didn't mean for it to be any big deal, ever. So. Ouch.

It makes me reconsider this whole public blogging thing. I could just as easily write and not show it to anyone. I just like to write, it helps me sort things out. It relaxes me.

Can I get some feedback? Am I too open, too honest? Should I censor myself more?

I do miss him like crazy, my husband. I really do. I don't care anymore about having the bed all to myself, being able to read for half the night. I just want him to come home. I have talked to him a few times on the phone, and just hearing about his trip to the Baltic Sea, going to dinner with his colleagues...hearing his voice...made me miss him so much.

Then he told me he might go back for a week in September. And for two weeks in October. AND for two weeks in November.

I guess that means I will have to learn how to do more things around here instead of waiting for Paul to fix them.

Anyway, summer is almost over and I am sad about that. My two little girls are jumping up and down waiting for school to start. Camille is too smart, she is keeping track on the calendar. I personally like to stay in denial about how little of summer is left, then panic when I realize that Labor Day weekend is upon us and we still have to fill the backpacks.....

So in the midst of all of our craziness, I am dreaming of a vacation with Paul again. I mentioned it to him the other day as I drove him to the airport, and he said, "You can go hunting with me.". Um, no. No thanks. It would be extreme torture for me, blabbermouth that I am, to sit there, all alone in the woods with my husband, and have to stay quiet. Waste of good alone time!

Not to mention the deer are too cute to shoot.

No, the vacation I am dreaming of is one that I now know exists, because we have had a few of them. They consist of forgetting about all of our many responsibilities, and enjoying each other. I know they exist, and that is almost worse than all those years of not realizing that we could possibly have so much fun together, and that such a state of relaxation really does exist. On our first trip, after being married for 26 years, I said to myself, "So THIS is why people go on these vacations!!!". I mean, to us, "vacation" meant camping with like a dozen kids. I won't even go into why that doesn't really qualify.

So Mirielle and Kathryn went to town to get a movie from Redbox. I shouldn't stay up late again. But I know I will. Because it is still summer.....and I shall enjoy every minute of it.

Friday, August 23, 2013

missing paul...

Okay. I'll be truthful. I wasn't all that sad that Paul was going to Germany. I thought about having the bed all to myself. I thought about reading books far into the night. I thought about being The Boss, not that Paul is bossy, but still. What I didn't think much about was how much I would miss him. We have texted back and forth, but tonight he called me. To hear his voice made me miss him all the more, even though we just talked about what he is eating for breakfast (eggs! He loves his morning eggs!), the fact that it has been rainy there and the hotel has no air conditioning. I also told him about the leaky pool hose, he knew just where an extra hose is, and I shouldn't have to go buy one. Big exciting stuff, but it was so nice to talk to him. I can't even start counting the days yet, there are still too many. wah.

He told me he will be going there again for two weeks in October, then two weeks in November. no fair. Well, it IS fair. He was offered this job, we discussed it, he accepted. Not that we had a lot of options. We are very thankful he has a good job these days. I don't know how I am going to remain optimistic when the next trip rolls around, seeing how much I miss him this time. It sounds like sheer torture.

Our birthday dinner was amazing. Grilled burgers with onions and garden fresh tomatoes, lettuce and dill pickle slices. I didn't have a bakery bun, but they looked yummy. We had salt potatoes (tiny baby potatoes boiled in lots of salt, served with lots of real butter)(I only had one), and watermelon, yum, and some cantaloupe. Then the ice cream cake...crushed chocolate sandwich cookies mixed with melted butter for the crust....semi-melted ice cream, topped with hot fudge and crushed cookies, squirty whipped cream, and more hot fudge. Then frozen in the big freezer. I had just a small bit of mint chocolate chip...then just a smidgen more. Oh dang, I had to get up from that table. Then I licked off the hot fudge spoon, oh I could eat a whole jar of that stuff. Phew. Back in the freezer, the rest of that deadly good pie.

Evelyn's friends stayed for a bit...Emily and Abigail stayed a bit longer. I simply love my two oldest daughters. Emily is amazing. She is having an article published next month in a nursing magazine, it has already been published in a book put out by the local hospital. She is writing more, I am helping her edit. I am impressed. She brought me to tears, made me laugh out loud. She looks at the world more tenderly than she knows. She thinks she is jaded, a cynic, from all the death and suffering she has been privy to in her life as a nurse....but her good kind heart just shines through. She is a giver. Tonight she took Jonathan and Sonja home with her to spend the night. She is funny and silly and has a memory for details that I can't hold a candle to. She is a hard worker, but she knows how to slack off and relax.

Then there is Abigail. She had that knee surgery, and I have spent more time with her in the last month than I have in the last year. And I am not taking it for granted, rather, I am enjoying every minute of it. Last week, I spent the night at their house with Jonathan, Char, and Camille. It was great fun, we watched several episodes of, "Psych", ordered a pizza, stayed up late talking, then had a leisurely breakfast while the kids watched some Disney shows. Anyway, Abigail is great too. She is a walking Movie Quoter. She can laugh at herself, she doesn't have a mean bone in her body, and she is a giver. She isn't a good cook, she eats like an old lady, (cereal for dinner)when Emily doesn't cook for her. She really has a heart for the kids, she is like Jonathan's best friend.

Yes, I have much to be thankful for.

But enough rambling for tonight. I am tired from my busy day, even though I didn't accomplish as much as I had hoped to. Tomorrow will come too soon....

Thursday, August 22, 2013

never enough time....

As a stay-at-home mom, who rarely stays home, I should by all means have All The Time In The World. Paul thinks I do. But. I don't seem to be able to find all that time. Today for example. Where did it go already? I haven't accomplished a thing yet, and it is almost noon. The sun is shining, our pool filter is turned off because one of the hoses burst the other night, creating an avalanche of water for poor me to rush into to turn the motor. We used The Handy Man's Secret Weapon, duct tape, and fixed it. But. It is still leaking. So I need to take a trip to the small city to the pool store and get another piece of pool hose.

And. Fleas. Yes, lovely lil fleas. We are fighting them. Suri is the proud wearer of the luxuriously expensive K-9 Advantix flea drops. Ha. We have vacuumed and flea-combed the animals with soapy vinegar-y water, we have used flea spray and flea powder, we have set up trick flea swimming pools using bowls of soapy waters set under a lamp in a dark area, sending dozens of fleas to their last swim. I do not have time for this!

Last night I took Evelyn and Suzanne to the movies, for Evelyn's birthday. The movie wasn't bad, but there were times I wished it would just end already, I have no patience for fighting scenes. Wham, bam, if I were hit just once like that, I would run away and never fight again. We went Walmarting afterward, gearing up for the Flea Fight. Plus lots of boxes of Nerds for the nerdy girls, and a huge Hershey with almonds for share, of course. I also bought a bikini for my grand-daughter, who will be born in October. She can wear it next summer and look adorable.

So we went to the beach, just six of the kids and I. We swam in the waves...what fearless little princesses I have! We played in the sand...well, I sat in my chair and soaked in the sun while they played...with the three little cups I gave them since we forgot the pails and shovels, again.

I so nicely stopped and got five Little Caesars' pizzas for dinner on the way home from the beach.

I only ate a few bites of Evelyn's and Suze's on the way to the movie. Don't like to eat stuff like that, although I desperately wanted to.

Okay. Took a break, if you call these last few hours an actual, "break". My sister called, then I got dragged into the vortex which is Kids Sitting Around Talking, which I never said was an unpleasant vortex. We had to decide who is doing what today, today being the day we celebrate Evelyn's birthday by having friends over and grilling burgers for like 22. So there are things to do, and here I am again, sneaking this in....I just want to finish the post:)

I have to go to the store for the burger and buns and watermelon and cantaloupe and a bag of marshmallows. I also have to buy that pool hose and get the propane tank filled.

I have things on my mental To-Do list, like researching and ordering lesson plans and books for Kathryn and Jonathan, cancelling the expensive garbage pick-up and switching to taking trips to the local dump (which means buying some new garbage cans), making a vet appointment for little kitten, researching for a church article about fundraising, writing a resume for our church for catering/serving services, and that's just the tip of the iceberg.

I know, I know, everyone has To-Do lists. There are the usual things to do too, like fit in some exercise and feed the kids some lunch. They have been snacking on cold pizza, which I am keeping my hot little hands off of. I had a light lemon chiffon yogurt with almonds for breakfast, I am trying trying trying to behave my not-so-little self.

In all these things though, I am working hard on remembering this: to be thankful. Thankfulness is the greatest weapon against all sorts of sin. Complaining and impatience and wanting to get someone back. (Um, just think to actually stop and be thankful when someone points out that you are rather lazy....or that you interrupt. Because it gives you something to work on, and you get some humility if you are honest.) Anyway. I have things to work on, both in the spiritual and in the earthly.

By the way, did I mention that the Telephone Man came again this morning, bright and early? I stayed up way way too late last night, talking to Mirielle about everything under the sun. Then at 8 am, the princesses were slamming their bedroom door, which I swear, I am going to take off the hinges one of these mornings. Not really. But it crosses my mind occasionally. Anyway. I fell back to sleep, because my eyelids felt gritty and I was way too tired to actually start the beautiful summer day. Next thing I knew, it was nine and the dog was barking furiously. I got dressed in a matter of seconds, threw on the lovely outfit I wore yesterday, put some toothpaste into my mouth and wiped my forehead on the hand towel....yup, Telephone Man was here.

The internet is finally hopefully fixed.

And here I am, enjoying it.

But not for long, I really really have to go. Nothing like Mom sitting on the computer giving out orders. Doesn't fly.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

I have NOT quit blogging.....

Our internet hasn't been working, and I am not about to blog on my phone. I am hopelessly horrible at typing on that tiny keyboard.

So here's the story of the day. I got up and, like a good girl, went on my walk. I brought Suri, which seems logical, but she changes my walk. From a peaceful zone-out session, where thoughts can just flow and my brain can relax, to a train-the-pup-to-walk-on-a-leash session. She definitely needs practice, she is a quick learner, but dang it is painful sometimes. She smells the deer and the turtles and the foxes, she snuffs in the grass and stops randomly to pee and sometimes jerks the leash so suddenly I almost fall over, especially if I am in the gravelly stuff on the side of the road.

Anyway, back to the story of the day. We were walking towards home, both of us panting for a drink of water, when over the last hill I saw in front of our house...flashing lights. Dang. But I quickly realized the lights were only yellow, no fire trucks or ambulances or police cars. But the Telephone Man and his friend were there. Two trucks with flashing lights, just to fix our internet. Seems they came first thing in the morning but no one was up....the little girls actually let them in the house, but Telephone Man said he realized no one else was home and just left the new modem there. I told him plenty of people were home, just not quite awake yet. oops. The little girls apparently told them that, "no one is here but us." Smart girls. Smart mom. Now, the Telephone Man DID all this morning to confirm someone would be home, Evelyn just said, Evelyn who was in her room when they came.

Anyway. I was horrified. I mean, after I get back from my walk each day, I clean up the house. Sweep up and tidy popcorn bowls from the night before. Pick up the random 55 calorie beer bottle that was on the table next to my chair. But, I hadn't done these things yet, and argh, the Telephone Man saw it all. Not that he hasn't been here before, but. I was still a bit mortified. Why oh why can't anyone ever stop in right after I have cleaned up?

Today is Evelyn Joy's 14th birthday. She is my eleventh child, sometimes I call her Eleven instead of Evelyn. She is a force to be reckoned with, Miss Evelyn. she is outspoken and capable and intolerant of excuses. She has her own style, and always looks nice. We are going to a movie tonight, "A City Of Bones", if she finishes the book in time, which she certainly will, she got in the mail from Target yesterday. Tomorrow evening we are celebrating with burgers on the grill and ice cream pies, which she made yesterday.

Today we are going to also celebrate, as our tradition is to drag those birthdays out for a few days. We are going to the beach or to a bakery or something. We shall have a discussion and decide. I have kids nagging at me to get off of here and decide, no matter that I haven't been able to blog in days and am suffering from having too many stories jumping around in my head, begging to be told.....

Friday, August 16, 2013

off to germany....

Not me. Paul. Tomorrow morning, bright and early. For two weeks. I am not too jealous. Well, I wasn't until I found out he was traveling with a co-worker. A co-worker he jokingly referred to as, "Traveling Buddy", which is from a movie we saw a while back. I didn't mind that he referred to her so jokingly and rather fondly, but I found the fact that she is a HER...rather disconcerting. I trust him. I am not REALLY bothered. Just a little bothered. He does this thing sometimes where he gets the point of what I am trying to say, then waves away the rest of what I am saying, he got the point and doesn't want the boring details. Sometimes. Not always. But I hate it. I thought of him traveling with his Traveling Buddy, and doing that to her when she explained something in too much detail. Ha, as if. No fair. Am I a huge witch with a capital, "B" or what?

I really do trust him. I love him. He loves me. Why then am I a teeny bit jealous? Because here I am at home, living a boring life, trying to keep things going around here, yawn, and he is going on this fun trip overseas. wah.

Now, we all know my life is not really that boring. Why just today I went to Save-A-Lot and bought 12 frozen chicken pot pies and two Red Baron pizzas! I frequently work at the baseball stadium for church fundraisers, so it's nice to have convenient and fun food for the kids left at home, so they don't mind as much that I am gone. As if, ha, they love being the bosses and having me not here sometimes.

Anyway. I wish I had a fabulous and exciting career and could be hopping on a jet to Germany in the morning, but alas, I will be dropping Paul off at the airport, taking Suri for a walk, sweeping the floor, and planning the rest of our summer.

I am heading in to work out as soon as I am done writing here. I have successfully procrastinated the things I have to do today....researching some fundraising numbers for an article for the church, writing a few letters of intent to homeschool two of our kids.

Joseph, Aaron, and Samuel are gone for the weekend on a boys' youth camping trip. Aaron planned the menu, bought the food, and prepared some of it. They will be eating well. Barbequed pulled pork for dinner, eggs and sausage for breakfast, chicken fajitas for dinner tomorrow night. Stuff for s'mores, granola bars and juice for snacks.

But anyway. The girls, (Mirielle, Margaret, Kathryn, Evelyn, and Suzanne) will be going over to Emily and Abigail's house tonight for fellowship. Jonathan is with my niece Katie at Olive Garden. The little girls are playing Duplos with their cousin William, Linnea was here for a while but has gone home now.

I cut up a watermelon, a cantaloupe, and added some grapes, so we could have some yummy healthy fruit in the 'fridge. Well. One of the kids picked up one of the containers with one hand, plonk, it spilled all over the table.

See, my life is exciting!!!

And now, I am off to exercise before it gets too close to dinner time and I reason that I don't have time.....

Thursday, August 15, 2013

home on a sunny summer day....

Aah, sitting here in my comfy chair while the sun shines and the day passes by. This morning I woke to Miss Camille barging into my room to tell me that Char pushed her because she didn't want to play Barbies. Okay, okay, I'm up. Also, Mom, she said, Suri peed in the living room. ugh. Okay.

I walked with Suri this morning. She has a ways to go in learning not to tug on the leash, but it is hopeful, she gets the idea, to walk with the leash slack between us...but she finds these wonderful things to suddenly lunge after and sniff, and places she just HAS to pee in....she does not leave my arm aching like Miss Rosie The Bad Sheepdog did...oh, that pulling tugging sheepdog, I miss her and her horrible ways.

After sweeping and cleaning up messes and doing some laundry, feeding some kids, eating my own breakfast, I finally sat in my comfy chair. I see a basket of clean clothes on the couch, and two suitcases still half unpacked. The popcorn bowls from last night are still on the coffee table. But now there is talk about going on an adventure...perhaps a library trip, to get an Audrey Hepburn movie for Waffle Night. The summer is drawing to a close, and we have lots of things left on that summer week is going to be jam packed, crossing things off like going to our friends' pool, rollerblading at the park on the lake (I will just walk, thank you), and perhaps the museum in the small city if it rains, and have Iced Coffee Day. Evelyn's birthday is on Wednesday, so we will celebrate that in style. She wants to go see a movie that comes out that day.

So now we shall head to the library....

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

summer....please stay a while....

me today...waiting while Margaret helped Abigail do some banking....

This is one of my favorite pictures from our camping trip: Sonja K. and Kathryn with Paul.

Our internet is not working well these days, making the already challenging task of finding a chance to blog...well, more challenging.

Today was a good day. I woke up too early, it was chilly and rainy. I had to take Abigail to a dr. appointment, but I really wanted to put the pillow over my head and snooze some more. I got up and showered, and the dilemma began: should I sit down in the still quiet morning with a cup of coffee, and try to write? Cruise the blogs? Read the news? Oh, that sounded like the winner. The first choice. Cozy. Comfy. But. But. I knew that I wouldn't feel good about that decision. So. I put on my sneakers, and I walked. Almost two miles. Briskly. I felt good about it.

Breakfast: two 16 calorie rice cake-y things with crunchy peanut butter...and a little bit of Nutella, which is NOT a health food, but oh so yum. And a coffee. Out the door with Margaret to pick up Abigail.

This afternoon, I worked out, too. It had been 13 days since I had a good workout, and darn it, I don't want that to happen again. I have a whole list of excuses, of course.

Yesterday I cleaned the little girls' room. Oh my. How does it get so messy in there? Every time I clean it, I insist it will never get that messy again. This was kind of sad, but I just KNEW it wouldn't stay clean. Sad because that means I am finally growing up.

I don't want to grow up.

Monday, August 12, 2013

home from the Adirondacks...

It is always sad to start back into Real Life after vacation. Vacation ends pretty quickly for me when it is time to pack up the campsite. Six tents, a sun shelter with a few pretty blue tarps added on to make it bigger, rolling up the sleeping bags and bagging up the bedding. Oh, the towels and bathing suits and dirty clothes and all the stuff that accumulates on the picnic table...packing it all into the van and the truck....then bringing it all in when we get home. I asked the kids not to start putting their laundry in, it is smarter to consolidate when there is so much to do...

It was also dinner time. I made hot sausages and chicken and roasted cauliflower and squash from the garden, Aaron heated up some green beans from the garden.

There are still some bags of bedding, and two suitcases to unpack.

So here I am, back from vacation, all refreshed. ha.

I got stung by a bee yesterday and my hand is all swollen.

Of all things, I got my period the first day we were there. And it was no picnic. It was an awful one. The Running To The Bathroom Every Hour kind of awful one. I finally got to go swimming today, on our last day there. The water was absolutely wonderful. Cold and clean. I said to Mirielle, "I don't know what tomorrow will bring, and yesterday is past...but today, I am happy."

Favorite moments while camping:

We got flooded and soaked with rain the first night. It poured and poured. It sounded lovely drumming on the tent, but then my blanket started getting wetter and wetter. When morning came, Paul made eggs in the rain while Kathryn held a beach umbrella over him. When I pointed it out to Joseph, he didn't say anything but just had this look on his face, that he appreciated the cuteness of it.

Emily and I took a ride down the highway to the nearest big town to find a laundromat to dry some bedding. Well, would you believe that we found not just a laundromat, but a BAKERY laundromat??!!! Yup. Homemade donuts. Made right there in the little shop in the front. Yeah, we did have one. Cinnamon. Oh my goodness. We sat on the bench on the sidewalk in that pretty little Adirondack town, sipping our iced coffees and deciding to enjoy life, running in every little while to feed more quarters to the dryers. Emily is a nurse, and she specializes in death. Well, she sees it all the time, deals with the families, and knows alot about it. So she knows pretty well how precious and unpredictable life is, and she certainly knows how to make the most out of a situation.

We had campfires. We solved the mysteries of life, we talked about Israel, we spent at least an hour one evening telling fart stories, which got more and more funny simply because they were so stupid. All of the kids were there except for Benjamin (Army), Abigail (just had surgery), and Aaron, who had to work.

And yes, we had a second row of seats at the campfires. And yes, we played musical chairs.

We kept all the food in the back of the big van, because there ARE bears in the mountains.

We have two kayaks now, kept the kids busy at the beach.

They caught some fish.

I have lots of pictures on my phone, but....our internet is slow, and I am just a wee bit tired. I am glad to be home, glad that we still have some summertime left, glad to have had such a good time with Paul and the kids....

Friday, August 2, 2013

this is NOT how I planned it....

I spent the night in the camper last night with the younger kids. The princesses went to a pretty pink party in their friends' camper while I unpacked and set things up in the camper. Then I moseyed on down to visit with my friend Linda. I got to hold her baby, and sit by the fire and talk for a bit. When the girls were done with their party, they skipped back to our camper, chatting about doing the limbo and having snacks. They were so happy to be there they snuggled right into their beds and went to sleep. I must say, it was too easy. I appreciated it, too. I think that because I had so many years of bedtimes being so much work, that now...well, I appreciate the simplicity.

Not that I wouldn't do it all over again. I miss those babies!

Anyway. Margaret stayed at the camper with the kids while I went out shopping for the rest of the stuff for our church grill. Aldi, Wegman's, Walmart, the dollar store, BJ's. Out to the church to put stuff away, a stop to bring some things to the camper, dropped Kim off with all of her groceries...then home. Home, to Sam, who just got home from work on his 18th birthday. And home water. It had been running just a trickle, then stopped all together. I had to leave after just a short while to pick Paul up from the airport. Welcome Home, Hon! We Have No Water!

And so he is working on it.

We have the house almost to ourselves. Joseph is sleeping already, he stayed up the entire night last night so he could get back on a sleeping-at-night schedule, he had turned nocturnal again. I guess he draws better during the night. Anyway, Aaron will be home from work soon, but that's it. The rest of the kids are at the camper. Mirielle so nicely agreed to be in charge of them so I could spend some time with Paul, who has been in Louisiana all week.

So here we are.

Paul is trying to fix the pressure switch, he doesn't even know if that is the problem.

I can't really make us a nice dinner with no water.

But, I know Paul. He will make the best of things, and if we have to jump in the pool out back instead of our nice hot showers, it won't be the end of the world.

Life is one big series of trials. Tests. Learning experiences. God has so much to teach us, if we care to listen. I think Jesus just plain jumps up and down with joy, up in heaven, when we learn that we have been too proud, when we acknowledge we have been too mean, too right, too rough. When we forgive, and when remain patient when we are sorely tempted to complain and lose it. This is a good fight, one that yields the fruits of the spirit.

So. I have some things that people forgot to pack, to gather up, Paul and I are leaving in the morning to go to our church conference. I probably won't be writing for a while, until maybe Wednesday, and probably not even then, as I will be unpacking the camper and packing for going camping in the Adirondacks, in, preparing food, packing....phew. You can bet I will be glad when we get there and I can sit on that beach with my feet in the sand!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

a day at home....

Here is what I did today, in no particular order.....

1. Stayed in bed too long this morning, finishing my book. It did not get better, that Swedish mystery, but I finished it because I thought it would get better.

2. Two little girls came and climbed into bed with me, all happy about the upcoming church conference and our stay in the camper. They LOVE that camper. They ran in and out of my room while I finished the last few pages of that awful book which did not redeem itself. They left the door open, and Suri found me. She climbed into bed and visited me too.

3. Jonathan and I husked the corn for dinner while Sonja K. helped Charlotte Claire and Camille learn to ride their bikes.

4. I spent three hours...yes, THREE hours cleaning and sorting dollhouse stuff. Who knew toys just sitting in the living room could get so dusty? The dollhouse stuff will be used for Children's Day at the conference.

5. I swept the living room and kitchen floors twice.

6. Laundry.

7. Dishes.

8. A nice swim....really nice.

9. Dinner: steak fajitas with green peppers and tomatoes from the garden, plus black olives and romaine and cheese (not for me, I do not like cheese). Then angel food cake with strawberries for dessert.

10. After-dinner walk with Jonathan. We saw deer on top of the hill, but no sign of those baby snapping turtles hatching.

11. A nice phone conversation with my handsome husband who is still in Louisiana. He calls every night, and it seems like it is more talking than we get to do when he is home.

12. I had to go pick up some of my daughters from my niece's house....I had talked to Paul on the phone before I headed over there, the first thing I heard as they scrambled into the car was, "What took you so long?!" I said, "You mean THANK YOU MOM, right?"

13. I managed to stay home all day except for the 18 mile journey to pick up the girls and back. Samuel needed a ride to the small city to the Army recruiting station to do P.T., but Mirielle so kindly took him so I could stay home. I was very thankful.

14. I ate chocolate this evening while watching, "Bridget Jones" with some of my girls. Too much chocolate. I wish I hadn't cracked it open, but there is nothing I can do about it now. I had such a good day up to that point. Dang.

Tomorrow, I have to go out and about again. I have to bring Abigail to do some things in the small city....then we are moving in to the camper for a few days. I am almost packed. Friday I am leaving early early to get the last minute items for our church grill-snack bar. Fresh produce and fruit. Plus whatever we will need while we stay in the camper until early next week. Then I pick Paul up from the airport in the afternoon, yay.

Next week will be busy too. The conference ends on Tuesday, Wednesday I have to unpack the camper and pack for our camping trip, which begins Thursday. We go in tents now, pulling that big camper is just too much. So we have to pack for that and shop and prepare food....also on Wednesday night, there is a funeral service/memorial for my Paul's dad, who passed away a few months back. Sadness....

We are going to the Adirondack mountains for our camping trip. The cold clear lakes and high peaks and quiet and the smell of the pine trees....the bears and the racoons....the campfires and the walks and the shady beach. Of the sixteen kids, I think just Benjamin, Aaron, and Abigail won't be able to make it. Aaron has a real nurse job now, which is nice, but he just started and can't very well ask for the weekend off.

Have you ever tried to pack for a five-day tenting trip to the mountains for 15 people? We pre-grill and freeze lots of chicken breast, pre-cook rice and baggy it up, use lots of canned veggies, fresh fruit, eat eggs for brekky. The older kids all pack their own clothes and bedding, but I have to make sure they have everything because there have been times, believe me, when I wondered what on earth they were thinking, not bringing a jacket because it was so warm when we left.....

We take the back few seats out of that beautiful 15 passenger van, and put in all our bins of foods and dishes and clothes and tents. Then we bring the truck with bikes and kayaks in it, and perhaps the minivan, perhaps a car....the state park we go to is wonderful, so far we haven't had a problem with too many people. We do sort of behave, no drinking and carrying on or anything, but we do get a little loud at the campfire. Silly. Our neighbors always get us back by waking up at dawn talking too loudly.

Anyway. I ramble on when I get tired, and it is after one a.m.....and I have to get up early, am picking Abigail up at nine. dang, after my shower and reading a few pages of my new book, I will scarcely get any sleep! Especially if the book is better than the last one and I can't put it down!