summer 2011

summer 2011

Paul and I, all 16 kids and Ashley, Benjamin's wife...Christmas 2012

Paul and I, all 16 kids and Ashley, Benjamin's wife...Christmas 2012

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

blogging on Christmas day????!!!


Christmas Eve with Anya....

She was fussing a little, and Gramma rocked her to sleep. I could have held her for hours. Ashley is an excellent mama, she takes such good care of little Anya....

Suri remembered Ashley from summertime. She went absolutely crazy when they arrived the other night.

My oldest child (Emily), and youngest, Camille. Emily and I are 19 years apart, Em and Cam are 22 years apart:)

The princesses in their gifts from Emily.

Kathryn, Miss Char, Evelyn in her new jammies, and Mirielle, who worked 12 hours last night and was ready for bed:) (Kathryn got a Surface tablet from Emily, Abigail, Aaron, and Mirielle)

Suri is just cute.

It wouldn't be Christmas without someone wrapping the cat.

Uncle Sam with baby Anya. Sam says having a baby in the house again reminds him of how cute babies are, he had forgotten how nice it is.

Mali is just in love with baby Anya.

My babies are getting too big, but not too big to cuddle with Mama on Christmas Eve.

I don't know why this tickled me so, Joseph separated the M&M's.

Abigail got a KitchenAid mixer, some of the older kids pitched in and we surprised her. She is a cookie baker and really wanted one. Paul and I got a gift certificate to go to a really nice restaurant. Paul brought me home a nice scarf and some chocolates from France, and I also got a movie, a travel mug, a silicone pot holder, and some warm mittens. The little girls got dolls, Jon got a remote control car and helicopter, the older girls got things like boots and coats and sneakers and sweatshirts and mugs and bracelets and sleepshirts. Aaron had to work today, so his presents are still stacked next to the tree. Ben and Ashley went to Ashley's dad's house, so there doesn't seem to be a day when everyone is here at once.

Emily and Evelyn are putting together the bookcase that Em and Mirielle bought for Ev.

Paul is checking out Kathryn's new computer.

Joseph and Sam are watching basketball.

Kathryn and Sonja are painting Camille's nails with the cool new polish Sonja got. Lots of kids doing lots of things.

I woke up bright and early this morning and could NOT fall back to sleep. Abigail spent the night, and slept in the livingroom with Sonja, Jonathan, Charlotte Claire, and Camille. We made cinnamon rolls and orange juice and sausage and eggs, a few pots of coffee, and opened presents.

It is a cozy day....a good day.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

merry Christmas!!!!!!

Anya is here!!!! She is just sweetness!

Paul was a little reluctant, said, "It's been a long time...", as if he didn't still know how to hold one:)

Aaron took a turn with thing that just melts my heart is seeing the big boys with the little ones....

Kathryn and Aaron....

Evelyn Joy...I love how Suri is in this one. Suri LOVES Ashley. She remembers her, and when she arrived yesterday, no barking at all! Just pure joy, Suri whined and wriggled and snuggled as close as she could get to Ashley, and we marveled. It's as if Suri knows that Ashley really loves her.

Suzanne gets a turn!

Ben brings joy! Here he's with Charlotte Claire and Sonja K. He played basketball with the little girls, read Camille a few books, then tucked them in at bedtime.

Aaron 21, Samuel 18, Benjamin 25, Joseph 22, and Jonathan 9 years five sons.

And of course there is Kitty sleeping on the presents.

Miss Char with Kitty and Suri, and Camille. Kitty was purring, Suri was washing her and mothering her....

My two babies:)

Chilling on the couch...

It was amazing to meet Anya. The kids so anxiously waited for their turns to hold her. Ashley was a real trooper, sharing her precious baby with everyone. I was very thankful for that, I remember how it was with that first baby. Our house was full of joy and fun, we had Buffalo and barbecue wings, and taquitas, and some veggies, then the platter of Christmas cookies....there were a few squabbles among the girls, which is normal, Christmas or not, but other than that it was a really nice day.

I woke up early this morning, and like a little kid started chanting in my head, "It's Christmas Eve, it's Christmas Eve!!", and couldn't even think of going back to sleep. So I sneaked out here to the living room, all tippy-toes, let the puppies out, shoveled a little path on the deck (yes, we have snow! White Christmas here!), brought them in and fed and watered them, fed the cat, and here I am in my comfy chair. The little girls are stirring in their room, they don't chant things in their heads, they shout them out loud. Kitty is sleeping on my legs, and I am relaxed. I like to take note of when I actually relax, so I can remember later when I feel like I NEVER relax.

Today we are having a three o'clock brunch, waffles and fruit and whipped cream, eggs and sausage and bacon. Ben and Ashley are taking some gifts over to a family they know of who is having a rough time this year, I found out and searched my closet, and came up with some things for the little girls to wrap for their kids. I wished I had known earlier, I would have gotten a few extra things.

Anyway...have a Merry Christmas!!!!!

Monday, December 23, 2013

just waiting now....

Benjamin and Ashley are in town, and will be here soon with their little daugher Anya. I can't wait to meet my granddaughter!! She is two months old now, and, smiley and sweet. I just can't wait.

Our house is filled with anticipation and excitement. The younger kids are looking out the window non-stop, waiting for the first glimpse of their older brother. Camille said this morning, "Benny is my favorite brother. But I like Sam too, and Joe and Aaron, and of course Jonny." She has five brothers....

So I am saying, "I love you" with food this season. There are chicken wings going in the oven soon, to be served with salad and brown rice tonight. Tomorrow night is Mexican night, tacos and fajitas. Christmas day, a ham and applesauce. On top of the refrigerator is our stash of cookies (two kinds of lemon, snickerdoodles, chocolate mint, peanutbutter blossoms with chocolate kisses, molasses sprinkled with sugar, and the traditional cut-outs. Plus, about three pounds of fudge. I also have frozen pizza rolls, frozen taquitas, cheese and crackers and pepperoni, homemade meatballs, lots of soda and beer and chips and dips and veggies and fruit. And a bag of mixed chocolates, Kisses and miniature Reese's.

A lot of days, a lot of meals. I will have a hard time behaving myself, I am figuring that out right about now.

It is snowing out, and is feeling very Christmas-y in here. Everyone is home, I just finished a cup of pumpkin spice coffee from Dunkin Donuts. Evelyn and I went out and about this morning to get some last minute things. I also swept and mopped and cleaned and straightened. The weather warmed up this past weekend and melted the snow, leaving us a muddy yard, and lots of extra work when the dogs come back in with muddy paws. Suri is doing better, she is perking up a bit. She was so depressed after losing her puppy. She would just go get into Jon's bottom bunkbed and lie there with her stuffed animals, not even responding when someone knocked at the door, which is usually a huge barking party. The kitty seems to know, and is cuddling with her a lot. So she is healing, and so are we. It is so sad to not have puppies, and just thinking of that round little belly and the cute little paws on that single chocolate pup...wah. But loss does bring an appreciation of what one has, and we are thankful for Suri and for Duke, I know they are only dogs, but they bring so much joy and affection and cuteness to our family.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

still in love:)

We are having too much fun....

aah, relaxing....

Escaping from the hustle and bustle of the season, I am putting me feetsies up right now, after just having a nice simple breakfast in the hotel egg, a piece of sausage, an orange, one bite of Paul's little danish, and some peanutbutter. I WANTED a huge Belgium waffle, I wanted toast and jam, I wanted danishes. But the peanutbutter helped.

Anyway. We went in the hot tub last night, then took a dip in the pool. We walked around a huge mall yesterday afternoon, and we went to a grocery store for a healthy dinner instead of eating out (a chipotle seasoned rotisserie chicken, a green pepper, some carrots, grapes, pears, and...well, a bar of dark chocolate with orange. And...a bag of those Buffalo pretzels. So, mostly healthy:)

Today we have museum plans, and back-to-the-hotel-hot tub-plans....and not much else. We are enjoying each other's company.

For being such a last minute person, I am glad that this year for some reason I have everything done ahead of time, or this weekend away would not be fun. But all the presents are wrapped and the cut-out cookies are baked.... These are all packed up in baggies in a secret hidden place. Mirielle has been baking too, and packing cookies up.

Well....just thought I would check in...and if you want some encouragement, read the new article on about Christmas.

Friday, December 20, 2013

a love letter.....

To my dear children. Many of you aren't really children anymore, to the rest of the world anyway. I would just like to issue my annual Christmas disclaimer: Life isn't fair. Perhaps your sister got nine presents and you only got six. That in no way reflects my affection for one child over another, but rather my scatterbrain-ness. I started out this year with a list in a blue notebook, which I diligently wrote down each and everything I bought and wrapped for all of you, but...has anyone seen a blue notebook? Yeah. So by the time I was like 2/3's done wrapping, I was winging it. Hmm, I would think, who should I give this to? Hmm, did I already give Mali one of these? Oh well, if I did, she can trade with someone.

Paul thinks I buy too many gifts. Perhaps I do. But perhaps there is a reason for it. I am one person. But I am SIXTEEN people's mom. I only had six siblings, and I know what it was like to have my mother's attention, and my mother was an extremely unselfish woman. She lived to listen to others, and to always be there for them. She had no other interests in life. She simply came last, she dropped everything to help anyone who needed it, if she possibly could. Anyway, my kids are growing up. I don't change diapers anymore (after like 26 years of always at least one in diapers, phew!), but there are still needs. You kids need attention. My FULL attention. Sometimes I will be talking to one, and another of you will come along and start Momming, and I will be torn...there is only one me. I never feel I give enough of me. But I try. It is something I pray for continuously, to have a listening ear, and to be able to take the time to be here for you guys. Seriously, if Emily has a day off from work and wants me to go out and about with here, of course I will go! Yeah, there will be housework left undone. But what is truly important?

Anyway, this was supposed to be a love letter to you kids, not a rationalization of why I buy too many presents to soothe my guilt at not being able to give you as much attention as I would like to.

I do love each and every one of you.

I love the way you are all so thrilled that Benjamin will be home. He hasn't always been the best brother to some of you, but none of that matters, you have forgiven him, and you remember the good times and appreciate and respect him, with no grudges.

One thing I am thankful for is that you see me as an equal, not some Because I Said So mom, to be feared and revered. You tell me like it is, and because of your honesty (mostly Aaron:)), I have been able to see they way I would get so upset about messes and housework, and I have been much better at stopping those angry rants before they start. I hated it when Aaron would say, "Mom, don't start." Totally hated it. It was disrespectful, and dang it, it was the truth, and we all know that the truth hurts. But it woke me up.

My only goal in life for you guys is that you get your own connections to God, and most of you have done that. I really work on looking past your stubborn natures, and seeing how good your hearts are. Because they ARE good. When a child apologizes to a sibling without being commanded to by their mother, that child has a good heart. You kids might be door slammers and feet stompers, but growing up in this house can be trying, to say the least. It is a work in progress, and God certainly knew what He was doing, putting all of us together here, all of us who are so different, so opinionated, so strong, so right. He must have a sense of humor. Yet, in it all, we have realized that there is a salvation to partake of, a salvation that brings oneness that has nothing to do with having the same opinion about a matter.

Peace and oneness, goodness and harmony, Jesus came to earth with the Good News. The fact that we can attain to this in our own lives is more valuable than all the money in the world. So my dear children, please know that your very existence is in itself a gift. From God, and from dad and I. God was good to us. He really was. He blessed us with all of you guys. For us, it wasn't just a walk in the park, to receive you. As much as I love me some babies, it was still not easy. I was tired, and people thought I was crazy. Or they thought it was easier for me than it would be for them. Anyway, one of the hardest things for me was the challenge of taking the best care possible of each individual child, and feeling like I could never do enough for you. But you know, for whatever you may have lacked in having my full attention day in day out, I take comfort that you have one another. And in my heart, I am totally certain that accepting you all as the gifts from God that you are, was the right thing to do, although honestly, a few times along the way, I did wonder what the heck we were doing.

Anyway, kids, when you open your presents, remember this: If I could have gotten you more, I would have. I want to give you the world. I want to spoil you rotten. Just because there are alot of you doesn't mean you all can't have nice things. I know we already have lots of dolls, the little girls need new dolls for Christmas. And maybe I forgot to get you something you hinted to me like ten times that you wanted, but....I would have if I remembered. I am not perfect. I am just a person, a person who happened to be blessed so magnificently and wondrously and amazingly. You all know how I am. I would LOVE to be more organized, and always know where the tape is, but again, God must have a sense of humor.

Dad and I are going away this weekend, he surprised me with a weekend away! Shh, don't tell him, but it is kind of hard to leave. Not because I don't want to spend time with him, because you all know I love love love your daddy, but because I know fun things will be going on here and I don't want to miss it all. You guys be good and keep the house at least as clean as it is, or better yet, clean it more, so it will be nice for Christmas. Do your jobs on the job list, and don't nag each other about it. Keep positive, and enjoy your weekend-long party. I am going to Walmart this morning for pizza dough, you can make pizza on Saturday night. Remember that Sunday is Margaret's 17th birthday, so don't make her do any work on Sunday. She won't eat cake, maybe we should serve a birthday salad or something.

Anyway. Time to take Jon to Walmart, his glasses have been been broken for a while and need to be repaired. This afternoon we are off to...I don't know, that part is still a surprise.

You can all text me if you need me for anything, but honestly, if you are just looking for the scissors or want to tell me that Evelyn just yelled at Margaret, try to work it out. And, the pizza rolls are for Christmas but if you really want some, you can have some, but don't eat all of them please. And, if you want to make a batch of NeverFail Fudge, the recipe is on the back of the Fluff container.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

countdown to Christmas...

Benjamin and Ashley will be coming in four days, bringing my little grand daughter home for Christmas. Next week will be full of gatherings here, with three nurses in the family, it's hard to get everyone here at the same time. Mali also works. Everyone will be here Christmas Eve except for Mirielle, and Aaron works all day on Christmas. It's just the way it is, and I'm sure it will only get trickier in years to come. But we will work with it, and I am very excited to spend time with the kids.

We have been sick here, I am still not 100%. Sam has had it too, he was better yesterday then sick again. Charlotte Claire and Camille had it, and are finally in school today, in time for their class parties.

But worse than being sick is feeling that empty feeling, that sadness, of having no puppies. I am more than happy that Suri is okay, but it is hard to endure her grief. And yes, she is feeling grief. She has been just blocking everything out, sometimes she doesn't even notice when people come in the door, she has been sleeping alot and barely eating. The vet said she would feel sad and confused, and he was right. She collects small stuffed animals, washes and takes care of them.

Sam and I are going to fill the stockings today. Have I mentioned how much I am going to miss Sam?

Being sick does have one plus, I lost a few pounds:) I know, mostly water weight, but still, it gave me the little boost I needed. I am eating small amounts of only healthy stuff. I can't eat much at a time yet, and hope to keep it that way.

Well, too many distractions....

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

sadness and sickness....

Sadness: Suri delivered one stillborn puppy. A trip to the more puppies, that was it. One puppy. See, I had come down with the stomach bug sometime in the night Sunday. I do not care for throwing up, I was shivering and shaking and running for the bathroom all night long. Camille was also sick in the night, but thankfully my sweet daughter Mirielle had the night off, and since she is now nocturnal, she showered Camille and took care of her. Anyway. No way no how was I going to get out of bed Monday morning, I was weak and my stomach hurt and I was just plain staying in bed. Jon came in and told me that Suri was panting and scratching, so...I got out of bed. '

Even though I felt light-headed and ill, I was excited. Finally, puppies! She scratched and scrunched and whined, and wanted Jon to be there petting her the whole time. She birthed that first one, and started washing it. It wasn't moving at all. She washed and washed it, nudged it, washed it, and I finally snatched it up and tried to get it breathing, but I am pretty certain that it died before birth. It was cute, darn it. Pudgy little tummy, it was a chocolate, like Duke. Those little paws. Oh my goodness, it was hard. I would like to say that I was an example in cool calmness, but I lost it. I had Jon go get Joseph, as if Joseph could do something. I held that pup and tried and tried to revive it. I called the vet immediately. She said if there was longer than 12 hours until the next birth, I should bring here in, but otherwise, just leave her be, sometimes a puppy dies, it is just something that happens. Well, all day long Suri shook and paced and gathered stuffed animals into her pen. I thought she was gearing up to deliver more, then finally I decided she needed to go to the vet. Emily and Joseph took her for me, as I was still so sick I could barely stand up.

I was glad she didn't need a puppy c-section, or any other expensive surgery, although if it saved her life or her pups, we agreed we would do it. I sent Em with my credit card and told her to let me no surgery, just an x-ray that confirmed it, no more puppies in there. The vet said she would be sad and confused and want something to take care of. So she adopted the little pink chicky, she washes it and rests her head on it.

The kids are pretty bummed out. We are thankful that Suri is okay, but we were hoping for the pitter-patter of those little puppy feet. And I keep thinking of that one pup, could I have saved it if I had grabbed it faster? Was it still alive when it came out? I'm 99% sure it wasn't, but still, I wish I could have a re-do of the whole thing. And, I am traumatized. I won't go so far to say that it reminded me of having my stillborn baby Robert, but holding that lifeless puppy, I just felt so helpless. I WANTED it to BREATHE. Just breathe! I remember having that feeling when I held Robert, just wishing and willing him to suck some air in, to move. I know puppies and real babies aren't the same, but it evoked the same feeling in me, is all. And being sick too, I was rather a wreck yesterday. I did nothing but doze on the couch. Mirielle made me tea and toast, and I loved her for it.

Jonathan, bless his little heart. He has been researching and learning about dog pregnancy and gestation and birth....he is so sad for Suri. But it's as if God knows this, and Suri has taken to Jon's bed with her chicky, as her little den. She slept with Jon last night, and that is something we don't really allow, but....

And of course there is the guilty feeling at the relief I admit to feeling that we won't have all those puppies to take care of. Life seems so simple and empty in a way. After all this anticipation of a huge event, of weeks of work and joy and messes, now...nothing. The lovely whelping pen which Paul so nicely built will be dismantled and we will get that section of our living room back. (Oh yes, the were going to be right here with us).

My two little girls are home from school again. Camille was sick yesterday, and still not herself at bedtime last night. I woke them up this morning, and they asked about puppies so hopefully, I had to tell them there wouldn't be any...they started crying. How could I dress them and put them on the bus? They were in Kathryn's room for the stillbirth, thankfully. This has been hard enough.

But of course I am not in the depths of despair. I am sad, but there is so much else to be thankful for. Paul is home. (and that is in itself WONDERFUL!). Ben and Ashley will be here next week. I am feeling better today, although I swept and mopped the floors and felt like I was just going to collapse and fall on the floor, so I am going to take it slower. Anyway, I am glad I have most of the shopping done, most of the presents wrapped, the stocking stuff bought. Mirielle has been baking cookies at night when she isn't working, and packing them up in containers for next week. We will be having multiple celebrations, as the older kids (the nurses), have to work and there doesn't seem to be any one time where they will all be here at once.

Our driveway is full of snow. Snow snow snow, here in central New York state. Lake effect snow from Ontario.
We did let him in:)

Our oil tank was almost empty, and it is freezing out. The oil guy came the other day, but there were too many cars in the driveway, so he had to come back today. Paul is out there with the snowblower, the oil guy came, our tank is now full. Merry Christmas to us!

Anyway. The little girls are playing out in the snow, shh, don't tell the school nurse. It's probably good for them anyway, my mother always said the cold air kills germs, but I don't know. They like the snow, and daddy is playing with them. I am sitting here feeling just rather blah, cold and tired. I hope Paul doesn't get sick like this. I hope it moves through the family quickly. But, no matter what I hope, God will send what is for our very best, and there is comfort in that.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

snowy blowy night

Kathryn and I shoveled the driveway a little while ago, out in the dark snowy night. Mirielle is a nurse working night shifts, so she has to be able to pull into the driveway in the morning. The snowplow hasn't been by in hours, and there is almost no traffic. Margaret is stranded at Emily's house, Jonathan is stranded at his friend Toby's house, and Paul is stranded in....Chicago. He will be flying home in the morning. Well, not exactly HOME, to the airport an hour away. Let's just hope his flight isn't cancelled, and that roads are okay.

It is cozy in here tonight. Joseph and his two friends made pizzas for dinner, and we watched several episodes of, "Psych", under blankets on the couches. I cracked open the huge bag of Hershey kisses that are supposed to be for the Christmas stockings, shh. Camille hasn't been feeling well, she had a temperature of 100.9 today. She hasn't been eating, and has just wanted me to sit with her and cuddle her. Samuel helped me wrap a few presents, and I made some almond cookies for tomorrow's dessert tray, to go with the five pounds of almond joy fudge, red and green m&m's, and Hershey kisses. I don't know if I will make it to the Christmas feast because of Camille, and because I have to drive and pick up Paul...

I am thinking Suri is going to have those puppies soon. She was scratching and scrunching in her box earlier, but now she is sleeping peacefully on the couch. Soon, though.

And, I am tired. Perhaps I will be sensible tonight, and get some sleep instead of staying up half the night reading.

My day was good. I had the best cup of tea a little while ago, courtesy of Kathryn. Is this post disjointed and scatterbrained enough? Psych is still on, and six of us are here in the living room and I can't concentrate at all:) But I am not complaining. I AM looking forward to Paul getting home though.....

cancelled? are you just kidding?

So Paul is in Paris, France. He is supposed to get on a plane in the morning, in just a few hours actually, and fly to New Jersey. Then after a few hour layover, take a plane home. I am supposed to be there waiting at the airport to greet him. Well. He texted me that his flight has been cancelled because of this stormy weather on the east coast. I thought he was kidding me. Nope, not kidding. He was told he can get on a whole string of other flights that would put him home by Monday. Yeah, travelling for two whole days. He is going to try to see if he can get the airline to book him on another carrier. dang. I just want him home.

It is cold here. Maybe 10 degrees right now, perhaps less. Tomorrow's high: 17, with lots of snow. I know, I know, it is winter, it is cold and snowy in winter. It DOES make it rather Christmas-y.

My two oldest daughters, Emily and Abigail, came here at 9:30 this morning to pick me up. I decided to wake Jonathan and bring him along with us too, because I had this awful dream last night, and he was in it.... I dreamed that it was WW II Germany, and that Paul and I were trying to hide. We didn't know where to go, so we decided to hide in plain sight and attend a dinner for the Nazi party. We sat at a table and were trying to be nonchalant and blend in, and immediately the S.S. came marching in and snapped at Jonathan, who was sitting blissfully at the table, swinging his feet, which barely touched the floor. He was commanded to stand up, but he thought they were kidding, so he just smiled and kept swinging his feet. I woke up terrified. What a nightmare. So I wanted Jon with me today, to hug and enjoy and boy, I told him so many times today what a good boy he is and how much I love him.

We went to a few places in the small city, and to the grocery store to buy the food for the Christmas feast at church on Sunday. We then went to Moe's Mexican place for lunch, since it was Abigail's birthday. Right when I was telling the lady behind the counter what I wanted in my taco bowl, my phone rang. I hate to be rude, but I have lots of kids driving and and and, I always at least give it a glance, just in case something really serious happened. It was Paul calling. So I asked Em to continue to choose items on my behalf, and answered my phone. Paul said he would call me back in five minutes. I apologized to the lady, said that I HAD to answer, it was my husband calling me from Paris. She was like Uh-Huh. sure.

Anyway. We had a nice lunch, Jonathan and I marveled at the automatic soda dispenser, and enjoyed the homemade salsa and chips. I saved most of my lunch to bring home to Sam, I love his reaction when we bring him something special.

I bought Christmas gifts for our friends at church, and something for Paul, and a little something for Samuel. (what do you get for a kid who is leaving for the Army in two months?) (btw, I was doing laundry today when I suddenly realized that Sam is LEAVING. I knew it before, but somehow I REALIZED it. LEAVING. Oh, my breaking heart. Sam is SUCH a good boy, so funny and kind and thoughtful. Sarcastic and witty, and just so optimistic about things. I am going to miss him so very much, not to mention how hard it is for me that he is joining the Army.

He will be fine. He chooses to live his life to please God,he trusts in him, so he will not be put to shame.

My sister-in-law came for a visit this evening. Joseph and Sam went out and about with some boys from church, the older girls went to their Girls' Christmas party, Sonja went to Grace's it was just Jonathan, Charlotte Claire, and Camille. Kim came over with her grandson Gabe, who is eleven months old, and her two youngest kids, Danielle who is 8, and Sean who is six. The little girls played dolls and dress-up and scream down the hall and bug Sean and Jon who were playing nicely. Gabe was an angel, he just clapped and scooted around the floor and laughed out loud and ate crackers and slapped his hands happily on my coffee table.

Anyway, we had chicken wings, the kids had corndogs and frosted Christmas cookies. It was really enjoyable to have some company. The small kids headed straight to bed when their friends went home, then the bigger kids started trooping in the was really loud again in here for a while, but now it is quiet again. I am heading to bed soon, it has been a long day.

My shopping is mostly done, my gifts are mostly wrapped, I am ready for Christmas. All I need now is my husband....:)

Thursday, December 12, 2013

in which she tries to stay home and get things done....

It was the plan, anyway. After accompanying Mirielle on her trip to mall in the suburbs yesterday, I vowed to stay home today and get things done. Then, I found myself all by my lonesome last evening as every single one of the kids living here at home left for Activity club at church. Instead of crawling in bed with a book, I behaved myself and cleaned my room and the hallway and my bathroom.

Today I was planning to wash lots of bedding. You know, load after load. Well. My sister-in-law called, asked me if I would like to go to that mall with the really cool toy store. um, yes? Yes. Of course I would. I finished my oats with blueberries and craisins, ate a few almonds, brushed my long tangly hair, and put on some bye-bye clothes. I went over some reading and math problems with Jonathan, and off I went.

Did I need a few more toys? Well, ha, of course not.

We also stopped at Walmart, where I got stuff to make fudge for Sunday's church feast. I also bought some socks and a little birthday gift for Abigail, who turns 27 on Friday, and a few presents for the girls' party Friday night, for their Yankee Swap. And, I bought some Ultra Light beer, it just sounded good. Not for now, for like Saturday night when Paul's home or something:) Anyway, through the self-check register I went, scanning all my items with no problem, until I got to the beer, uh-oh, glitch! My whole order disappeared. I had to go to the main register and have it all re-scanned. While I was waiting, I watched a woman chastising a small child. At first I thought she was just playing with the child, who looked to be under two years old. She was arguing back and forth with her, "No, YOU stop it!", she was saying in a loud stern voice. The child was shaking her head, and saying, "top it", over and over again, obviously agitated and upset. The woman made a fist and asked the child if she wanted THIS. She then told the little girl that she was SERIOUS, to just KNOCK IT OFF OR ELSE. what the H? (heck, of course, but anyway.)I said out loud, "This is ridiculous." My cashier thought I was talking about my order being messed up, and I told her I really didn't mind that, and she didn't have to apologize, it wasn't her fault (poor lady probably takes so much garbage from people every day) I told her that I was just so sick and tired of seeing people treat their children like they don't want them. I mean, I get it. Moms get tired, and impatient. I have been there, and I am still there, some days. But. Has no one ever taught this woman that children that small don't want a fist in their face? They want to see happy faces and be loved and disciplined positively, not threatened while still wearing diapers! ugh. How can God bear it all?

Anyway. Home again. I helped Jon with some work, put things away, switched the laundry, swept the floor, and here I am:) In my favorite spot. I made homemade mac-n-cheese yesterday, two large glass pans. Out of the oven, bubbling over with cheese and butter, oh yum, I only tasted it. The kids really liked it though. Today, I have to make dinner again! No fair! I have no idea what I am making.....every single day, dinner again! Although I am not REALLY complaining, at least there is food to choose from, I am thankful for that.

Sonja K. is home from school today, on the couch, not feeling well. Her tummy hurts, her head hurts, she is not faking. I know because she is not eating anything except for ginger ale, and keeps dozing off with the blanket over her face. Poor girl. I hope she doesn't throw up, and I hope the other kids don't get it. And, I hope I don't get it. blah. As if this season isn't busy enough, right? But then again, God does know just what we need, and whatever comes our way is weighed and measured just perfectly so that we can be saved in the midst of this life....and, I am going to switch some laundry and throw in some more bedding.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

the joy of the season....

I do love being swept up in the good spirit of Christmastime. The house is cozy in the evenings with the tree glowing and the candles and window lights flickering. Wrapping presents with different kids, having secrets...frosting several dozen cut-out cookies, and being surprised when they are completely gone when I return from shopping...the knowledge that my oldest son will be home soon, lounging his big self on the couch and gently teasing the little ones, his toughness not hiding his soft heart....knowing that baby Anya will soon meet all the ones who love her already, and will delight in every expression she makes, and kiss her little cheekies until her mama wants her back...the stockings are washed and hung, the box of treats that will fill them is overflowing. The tree is surrounded by presents already, and lots of those presents are already guessed, from the shape of the packages, which doesn't diminish the kids' excitement. Puppies will be here soon, and that alone is reason for rejoicing.

In all this, I know the most important thing is that I remain in a spirit of self-acknowledgement, that I have that constant connection with Jesus. He said, "follow me", and I will. So many rejoice in his birth, yet few really experience that peace and happiness that comes with truly walking in His footsteps. One thing I have been so thankful for lately is the work that is going on in my older kids. They work on their own salvations, and it is very evident in the way they deal with each other, they are learning how to humble themselves, how to get along, how to encourage each other on this walk of faith. It is enough to make my heart almost burst when I see two who struggle to get along, going beyond that and being good to each other. This is no small feat, to live in this house with so many who have different personalities and who are so strong-willed. Yet they are working on it, and it is good.

And in the midst of all this, I know that in a few days Paul will be home again, and I can't wait. When I met him, way way back in 1982, I was just a girl. I was not converted, I was a bad girl who lied to the bouncer at the bar where I met Paul, who was on his last day of Christmas break and was dragged out the door by his younger and more outgoing brother, since Paul had spent most of break in his room playing his guitar....I lied to get into that bar, because I was sixteen years old, and one had to be eighteen to get in. I had no I.D., so I told the guy at the door that I had left it home, and that my birthday was July tenth 1963, which was two years earlier than the actual date. He believed me. So there I was, just standing around with my cousin, looking around, and I saw him. Believe me when I say it was Love At First Sight. He was so cute. He had on a navy blue v-neck velour pullover, which he had probably gotten for Christmas. (I had size 7 jeans on, but that is beside the point:)) Anyway. I liked him right away. He was respectful and funny and so GOOD. To me, he was such a country boy, he had no desire to dress up or be stylish, he was just clean and neat and...just so cute. I honestly loved him right from the start. So it is as much as a surprise to me as it is to you that I love him even more now than I did then. It has just increased more and more through the years, even though we are very different. He is such an organized person, he gets things done with no procrastination. He is busy and capable and smart and can figure anything out. Anyway. I miss him terribly, yet I am SO thankful that we still have such love.

So, I have cleaned up my eating lately. I will spare the boring details, but I am back on track. I have lost a few pounds again, and would like to continue in that, of course. I read tons of blogs and articles about healthy lifestyles, and I believe that the low-carb, no grains except for some occasional oats, is the way to go. Lots of veggies, fewer fruits, meats, fats. No sweets, no junk food. And of course I read success stories, and also some lamentations about re-gain. Regain, or "the creep". After losing alot of weight, the metabolism seems to change, and even if one doesn't go back to the way one ate before, just adding a little junk back in here and there, causes that weight to creep back up. Not fair, but it happens. So then statistically, 95% of those who lose a substantial amount of weight gain it back. (that must be one of the most tragic sentences ever written). But. I am determined to be in the 5%. Bound and determined.

Anyway. I have sat here long enough, today I stay home and get things done around here. (Yesterday I did some shopping with my son Samuel, and oh my goodness, if you want to have fun, go shopping with Sam....)

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

wow. what a day.

Suri is going to have her puppies any day now. But she does not realize that she is a Big Dog. She still likes to get up close and get comfy.

Kitty likes to sleep in random places. I saw him walk into the living room this morning, look around, then head for the roll of wrapping paper, which was like the only item on the floor. He sauntered right over to it, and plopped down on it. On a ROLL OF WRAPPING PAPER! He is just as crazy as he looks.

But he purrs and cuddles and I really love him.

It is late, I need to get to bed. But I thought I would take a minute and write first....

Today, I was tired. I got out of my cozy bed, and oh my goodness I was still tired. I got the little girls up and dressed and made their breakfast and packed lunches, swept the floors and straightened up....then I went back to bed. Yup, I did. I really needed it, as I haven't been sleeping enough for days and days.

Mirielle, who works nights, had to stay up all day because she randomly has to work a day shift tomorrow and wants to sleep tonight, was on the couch drinking coffee and...trying to stay awake, as she usually sleeps all day now. So I sat with her and we solved the world's problems. I didn't get much done. Before I knew it, the kids were all home from school. It was cozy in here with all the Christmas lights on, and the tree all lit up. I had washed and dried the Christmas stockings, and Camille helped me put names on them and hang them up, 18 this year, as I included Ashley, and Anya.

I decided to make cut-out cookies this evening because...well, because I love messes, and getting flour all over myself. You would think that after all these years I would realize that this endeavor always takes more time than I calculate. But, I mixed up a triple batch of sugar cookie dough (yum, six sticks of butter!) Most of the girls were at church working on decorating for the upcoming Christmas feast, Sam and Joseph were here, and the little girls were here. So I did it mostly by myself. Evelyn and Jon helped me frost and decorate, but there are lots of naked ones still. I packed some up for Aaron, tomorrow is his birthday, 21 years old!

Emily, my oldest, picked Sonja up from school today, took her shopping, and out to eat with one of her friends. I LOVE that my older ones are so good to the younger ones. Mirielle (23) is taking Kathryn(15) to Europe in the spring, and all she asked is that Kathryn remember it, and return the favor by taking one of the younger ones when she is older.

So yes, I miss Paul. Really and seriously. He is such a good guy. I did tell him on the phone the other day that I am jealous that he does fun things without me....but at the same time happy for him that he gets to do them. And, that we need to do more together when we can manage, more fun outings and dates and dinners and weekends away and of course another trip to Jamaica, one of these days:) Jamaica....not just because it is hot and sunny and gorgeous and there is a beach and pools and relaxation and good food and delectable desserts and tropical drinks...but, because we can totally and completely take a break from all of our parenting responsibilities. No figuring out who needs to be where when. ect. ect ect. It is astonishing how much we still enjoy each other:)

And anyway. Enough of that. I still have a bit of Christmas shopping to do. I need something for Ben, and for Samuel. And a birthday present for Abigail, who turns 27 on Friday. I also have to get something for Aaron for tomorrow. Margaret also has a December birthday, the 22nd, but I already got her something. For all the joy that the holidays bring, the Moms bear the brunt of the stress. The other day one of the girls started listing off the things she needed me to get, and I had to stop her. My brain couldn't hold one more bit of info. Class gift exchanges, girls' church party gifts, boys' church party gifts, secret Santa for the Christmas feast (the youth age kids buy gifts for the younger ones)(I try to get candy for the youth kids), secret Santa here for not only the name I picked, but a few of the kids too. The older ones do help with this, for which I am thankful. Emily got Sonja's for her today:) But still, my head does spin. Cookies and treats for class parties and and and. So today was a nice day, very stress free.

But tomorrow....I have plans. I have already given Jonathan some assignments, Joseph and Kathryn are going to keep an eye on him, plus watch the two youngest, who already know they are staying home from school. Char just didn't feel well when she got home from school. She headed straight for her room and got into bed in her school clothes, and slept for over an hour before I went in and woke her up. She had no fever, but didn't feel well. Camille said she was sick too, of course, so I let them lie on the couches and watch t.v. and have ice cream for dinner.

Anyway, tomorrow I must go out and about because we are running out of dog chow and have no good tea left, according to Kathryn, who drinks lots of tea. I have a gift I want to get for Mali, and perhaps I can finish up the rest of it too.

Suri is in her whelping box, scratching around. She seems to know that is the place she is going to have those puppies, thanks to Jonathan, who periodically brings her to it. He lies in there next to her, praising her and petting her and talking to her about her babies. She has no idea what he is talking about but she likes it, and he is so very excited. He says several times every day how glad he is that he is homeschooling, because he is going to be here for sure when those puppies arrive. He reads about labs giving birth, and has a million questions. He wondered if she would have the same number of babies as she has boobies:)

Anyway, any time now she could have them, so I had better get some sleep while I can.....

Sunday, December 8, 2013

oh christmas tree....oh christmas tree....

Evelyn Joy, Suzanne, Jonathan, Charlotte Claire, Emily, and Camille....trying to choose a tree....

It wasn't rocket science, just go to the corner of the barn where the cheapest ones were. Paul told me that little tip. He was right. In the very corner of the barn, far to the back, I found it. The cheapest tree. Twenty bucks. Oh, but Mom, they said, This Tree Over Here Is Prettier. Nah. I had found our tree. It wasn't as lovely as some of those spruces, with the long fragrant needles, it wasn't as tall or full as some of the sixty dollar trees...but we brought it home. Jonathan is a handy guy to have around for things like setting up Christmas trees. Mom is not good, Daddy usually does these things. But, we managed. Sonja K. helped test the lights, and we strung them up in no time. By the time it was ready for the ornaments, I had to leave for the Dome, wah.

Samuel James (my future soldier), and Joseph Michael, taking a little break. It was busy enough tonight, the Syracuse University basketball team in in the top ten in the nation, and for good reason. They win games. They have not lost yet this year. Lots of fans, busy concessions.

I am tired now.....

Saturday, December 7, 2013

almost done Christmas shopping...

Abigail took this picture of me with the poor snowman. One is not crazy until one purchases an inflatable snowman. No, I didn't buy one:)

Abigail bought herself a Christmas present though...a remote starter for her car. She had to leave her car while it was installed, so she asked me to come along and take her out and about. I did. We were in Kohl's when Kathryn called asking what Jonathan was supposed to be doing, besides watching, "Phinneas and Ferb" on his tablet. Um, math. Reading. Writing. Cursive. I had gone over all of it with him last evening. Anyway. To the dollar store, BigLots, then home. phew. Home to clean up after a long day, home to help Jonathan with his multiplication of fractions, home to find out that there was still no propane. It ran out yesterday, I called in the afternoon and was assured that, "he will be right over". I guess "he" forgot, because when I called this afternoon, "she" was surprised that "he" never came. Anyway...the pilot light went out on the hot water tank, and Joseph couldn't get it to light. He tried twice. I begged him to try once more, and I actually prayed it would work, I just wanted a shower and to wash the dishes in warm water....and, it worked.

Anyway....the older kids all had places to go, so I took the three youngest to the mall....
It was actually a fun mall trip, because I had no intention of looking at anything remotely boring...boring to the kids, that is. We started in the Bass Pro Shop, where we tried out the Christmas toys in the Santa's Wonderland. We shot the guns and played with the slingshots, raced the cars around the track, and took turns with the remote control monster truck. They weren't interested in getting their picture taken with Santa, so I didn't push it, even though I would have liked one. We looked at the fish, then wandered out into the mall. There was a band there in the food court playing Christmas music. The kids were more interested in sitting on all the four-wheelers on display. So we walked through the mall, and: there was a new toy store! Now, to me, there isn't much that is more fun than a toy store. And this one had un-current toys, which were all marked down. Most of them were half off, then half off that. Oh joy....Camille got a little Melissa&Doug craft kit with a wooden box and paint and jewels to decorate it with. For $2.50. There was an area with ride-ons to try, and they did try them. (on the way home, Camille was explaining why she liked the toy store, and she said, "I liked that we were allowed to play and that it wasn't illegal.") I found some fun stuff! They did not see the dolls I bought, either. Madame Alexander dolls, the 18 inch ones like American Girl dolls, for ten dollars each. I also got Jon a few cool trucks.

I considered eating in the mall with them, but the pizza was expensive, and I really wanted to get I offered to pick up pizza from Little Caesar's on the way home, then wrap presents with the. We watched, "Elf", wrapped presents, and had lots of fun. They didn't go to bed until ten, Jon stayed up until eleven, then the girls came trooping in from their youth gathering. Kathryn, Evelyn, and Suzanne helped me finish the present wrapping. They were SO silly. Fooling around and laughing and joking and hitting each other with the wrapping paper rolls....then Evelyn wrote, "scarf" on a wrapped scarf for Sonja, instead of writing Sonja's name. Why did that make me fall back on the couch and laugh until I could barely sit up? They kept passing the tape to each other by whipping it hard, and the scissors...I decided to go get my own tape and scissors. We got most of the stuff wrapped, now it is all stacked here and there, waiting for a Christmas tree to park under.

Tomorrow...Emily is going to be Daddy and go get the tree! I have a corner cleared out for it. I just wish I didn't sign up to go to the dome in the afternoon, I want to stay home and help them decorate it. But I also want to help fundraise, and be with my friends. Abigail is going to do something fun with the kids, so I really have nothing to feel bad about, except for missing them.

Paul is having fun in France. He misses me terribly though. At least I hope he does. Nah, he does. He said he misses me. I just threw in the Terribly.

It is almost two a.m., and I have to work at the basketball stand tomorrow, plus I am going with Em to get the tree so the kids can help choose. So I need to get to bed now.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

annnnd....we are proud to announce.....

Duke and Suri are going to have puppies!

We have suspected for some time now, but it is getting to be that time. Paul built a nice cozy whelping box for her the day before he left for France. If my calculations are correct, she should be having puppies somewhere between the tenth and fourteenth of December. The box is set up at the end of the living room. Suri is just too friendly and people-oriented to stay downstairs or in one of the bedrooms, we have no garage, not that we would put her in there anyway:) so....our Christmas is going to be yappy and sweet and wonderful and crazy.

And: Margaret passed her driver's test today! She only took it four times. It has been rough for her....she and Samuel took it together, for the first time, he passed and she didn't. She took it a second time, then a third. She got discouraged. She didn't want to take it again and fail it again. She wanted to cancel it. But she realized that in all these trials, she was learning humility, she was learning to fight against anxiety. As we drove to the test today, she said she wasn't even nervous. And that she was thankful for failing so many times, because she learned so much from it. When she pulled back to the curb and the driving instructor exited the vehicle, I peeked in and she was just beaming! Then she started crying, tears of joy. I was so happy and excited for her, she finally did it. We agreed that if she had just passed the first time it wouldn't have been nearly as joyful. It is the same way with other things in life, we would never choose difficulties, but there is much to learn in them.

btw, she isn't a bad driver. She just made some the first test, the tire hit the curb during her three-point turn. In another test, she stopped pulling out when she saw someone coming down the road, but the instructor told her to stop right as she was stopping, and that is automatic failure. Anyway. She finally passed. Nine down, seven to go.

After she passed, we were tempted to go out to lunch to celebrate, but we didn't. We just got coffees from Tim Horton's, she got a skinny mint chocolate latte, I got a coffee with sugar-free mint chocolate. Yummy, and pretty guilt-free. We did some grocery shopping, a bit of Christmas shopping, then home....

I put away groceries, made a pot of chili, and got the kids out the door to activity club. I am going to start wrapping presents tonight, instead of wasting the whole time on the computer.

Tomorrow, I plan to stay home and buckle down on schooling with Jonathan. He is learning cursive, and how to write better sentences. He has a lot of knowledge in his little head, but needs to write neater.

The washer is humming, the dryer is going, the Christmas lights are all on in the windows, the dogs are sleeping...oh, I do enjoy a quiet evening alone.

Paul is doing okay in France. He said he can understand quite a bit, and speak enough to be basically understood about simple things. He went to a nice restaurant with colleagues last evening, said dinner lasted like four hours.

I miss him. And shh, I am jealous that he is going to Normandy without me. I got myself in too much trouble when he was in Germany that first time by mentioning my jealousy of a co-worker, so I won't even go there, won't mention that he is going with a different female co-worker... I simply won't mention it:) And I hope that whoever reads this realizes that this is just the way I feel about things, not that anything is wrong. Paul and I get far too little time to ourselves, far too little time to do fun things and go on adventures. I love how he is when he is happy about something, or really interested in something. I just don't like missing that, it has nothing to do with thinking he is doing anything wrong. He is a very good and faithful man, very responsible and honest and solid. I totally trust him.

And for not going there, I sure went there.

Anyway. I need to get a few things accomplished. With puppies coming, and only three weeks until Christmas, I need to use my time wisely instead of leaving everything until the last minute:)

Sunday, December 1, 2013

oh the quiet....

A tired mom isn't the best mom, but then again, if writing is therapeutic, does it cancel out the fatigue to sit here and type out a quick post? I spent my evening doing some online shopping for Christmas. I let Sonja K. pick out some things, and Kathryn, and then a few things for some of the takes so long. I like free shipping, but what if my item was $45 and one has to spend $59 to get free shipping? Do I spend another $15 just to save $5.75? I looked and looked, and couldn't find anything else we needed, so I spent the money on shipping. Time, ticking away....

It is quite amazing though, just to scroll through page after page of CyberMonday deals, type in the card number and verify the address, and BINGO, stuff will be coming in the mail! I need to write down what I got for whom, and keep track of it. Buying even two or three things each for 16 kids, plus for Ashley (I already bought things for Anya, I have to exercise much restraint or I will go crazy there!), and for Paul, and for our friend Stevie who will probably be here for Christmas. We also do Secret Santa on Christmas eve, and there are kids coming to me and whispering the name they have to buy for, and asking me what to get or if I have something good already in my head does spin.

Kathryn, Sonja, Camille, and I brought Paul to the airport. wah. I didn't want to let him go again already. He is so very brave to go to France all by his lonesome, he is renting a car and navigating to his hotel....I don't even like driving to the big city alone. He texted me before he boarded his overseas flight...he is flying right now, almost in France. I miss him already.

After we dropped him off, we went to the grocery store. We had some coupons for shampoo and toothpaste, plus the store had double dollar coupons, so we got some decent deals. We also got oranges and grapefruit and apples and bananas and cucumbers and peppers and lettuce and meat and rolls and milk and yogurt and and and. I had Mirielle's car, so I stopped and filled it with gas.

Then to church....oh it is good to see my friends! Then home...but wait, the minivan was almost out of gas! To town to get that filled...then into the store there because they had boneless chicken breast for $1.68 a pound, we practically live on it:)

Home...put seasoning on chicken, put in oven, back out the door to bring Sonja to her cousin's birthday celebration. Home....into my room to exercise! yay me! I really needed it, the feeling of well-being and satisfaction, that feeling in the muscles....I don't know why I dread it, yet love it at the same time. And believe me, it is no easy feat to find the time, even though I do it for less than 20 minutes. Miss Camille always has a million urgent questions right when I am doing push-ups.

After that, dinner time! I bought two pizzas at the store, buy one get one free, so I baked them after the chicken was done. Most of the kids had pizza and chicken and carrots and sliced oranges....I had a huge plate of raw spinach, cucumbers, craisins, and the chicken. I cut up some of the chicken, added butter and hot sauce, baked it a little longer, and yeah, tasted like Buffalo wings....just a bit healthier.

Then....back out to get Sonja, then back to my online shopping.

We decorated the house a bit the other night, and it hit me that in a few years, no one will really care so much about making it Christmas-y in here. Margaret actually asked if we really need to get a tree this year. Um, yes! The two little girls were the only ones who were jumping up and down about putting up the little village and the advent calendars and the wreaths and the pointsettas....I am running out of kids! What on earth will I do when I am the only one happily decorating? When there is on longer little children begging to get things out and put up? Oh, it went by too fast!

Last night I had a dream that my mother was holding baby Anya, and she was just loving her. My mother has been gone for seven years now, but in that dream she was so real. It comforts me to see her in dreams because I can still remember her so clearly. Back when she was still around, cell phones were unheard of, practically. We didn't instagram every moment of our day, we didn't tell the whole world on facebook what we just bought at the store. To take a video, one had to use a bulky video camera. But oh my, I wish I had more pictures of my mother. Some videos. I miss her, miss her voice, although I sound exactly like her sometimes. I will say something to the kids and it's like Oh No, I AM My Mother.

So it gets later and later, and here I sit. I need to go to bed, Susan is dropping off some cute little children in the morning, I need to babyproof and sweep up dog fur. Abigail has the day off from work, so she is coming over for lunch. We were thinking of going out to lunch, but now I think we will just eat here and save some money and some calories, plus we will have the cute little ones to visit with and chase around.