summer 2011

summer 2011

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

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

Friday, May 31, 2013

easy healthy weekend...

Today I am going to grill about 15 pounds of chicken. Boneless breasts and thighs. Paul and I will take some of it on our camping trip, and leave the rest here so the kids will have the basis for healthy meals over the weekend. Yesterday we stocked up on produce...we have watermelon and cherries and grapes and fresh broccoli and pears and bananas and apples and oranges and romaine and cukes and zucchini and tomatoes.

The six younger kids had a half day of school today, and I picked them up early so they wouldn't have the hot bus ride. It is 86 here, and very humid. When there is a half day, the bus is extra-crowded, too.

Packing and doing laundry and getting ready for our camping weekend:)

And I will remember the camera!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

our summer "to do" list...

Canoe trip (we have acquired two kayaks!)
Strawberry picking
Biking on local trail
Rollerblading at small lake nearby
Iced coffee day
Lilac festival
Bluffs at state park on the big lake
Random camping trip
Beach day
Museum of play
Waffle party
Strawberry smoothies
Downsize big bush in the front yard
Help with gardening
Dig fire pick
NYC daytrip
Waterfalls park
Cafe trip
Chalkboard mural at Emily's house
Movie night at Emily's
Friend's pool (inground with divingboard)
Unknown picnic place
Movie marathon
Summer scrapbooking
Book club with family and or friends
Gelatto at our favorite bakery
Home improvement day

Yeah, the last one was mine.

We always make one of these lists, and the summer slips by without it all happening, but half the fun is the planning, and the emptiness of those days stretched before us, full of promise.

One plan that is starting to percolate is a camping Lake George State Park. The kids got free tickets to the Six Flags theme park, from a school reading program. So the five youngest have free tickets. My older kids aren't amusement park kind of kids, they would rather just camp and hike. Paul has to be out of town (Louisiana) for a few different weeks this summer, so I can't count on him for this trip....anyway, I am trying to put it together for all the kids to go camping then just me, perhaps Kathryn, and the younger ones going from the camp to the amusement park.

Today...I am picking three kids up...very soon, so I have to get for food for the weekend, having fun with the is hot today, already 80 degrees, and getting hotter....

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

finding a quiet moment to write...

is not as easy as it was...I go to the pool first thing in the morning, after getting the kids on the bus. Then the college kids are Joseph and Mali and Aaron and Mirielle were here...I can't write well when I am distracted.

We had a storm this afternoon, tornado warnings. The sky darkened and the thunder and lightening and rain came...but no tornado, thankfully. One tree fell down, lots of leaves and branches down, but no tornado. The kids were a little bit freaked out because we were watching the storm develop on the news, there was rotation in the upper atmosphere, but thankfully it didn't touch down, because it was heading right towards our house!

I went for a walk this evening, all by my lonesome. As I walked by the swampy part of the woods, enjoying the mist and fog floating over the water, I almost walked right into a snapping turtle on the side of the road. It was huge, and as I gave it a wide berth, wondering who was faster and not wanting to take a chance that it was, I saw it lay an egg! Fascinating! I walked a few feet, and watched...sure enough, it heaved up a bit and another egg rolled out! It clinked against the first one as it rolled into the hole in the dirt under that big turtle. I wanted to stay, but didn't want to make Mama Turtle nervous. Oh, I really enjoyed seeing that!

I basically stayed home today, besides my swim, my walk, and picking the kids up from activity club.

Laundry, sweeping up, straightening, dusting, putting clothes away...I am almost unpacked from our Florida trip. Yeah, I know that was a month ago. I need the suitcase for this weekend. Am I packed for that yet? Course not!

Tomorrow I won't be staying home to clean, no, I will be going bye-bye. Kathryn wants me to pick her up at noon, when her important classes are over. We will probably take Evelyn and Suzanne too. We need to go to the big toy store in the suburbs to return Jonathan's helicopter which worked for like one day. I am sure the girls will find a few things they Really Need.

What I really need is to stick to my healthy eating. I am not giving up, by the way. No way, no how. I ate quite well is the evenings that are difficult. I find that I want popcorn, I want chocolate, I want I want I want. I do not NEED. Just want. So I try to drink tea, iced coffee, ice water. I would like to get some 15 calorie popsicles. I have tried the lo-cal Jello, and it is yummy. I made two pizzas for the family for dinner. One bacon, one just cheese. For Mirielle, Margaret, and I, I made pizzas on these 16 calorie flat rice-cake type thingys. I put olive oil on them, then sauce and cheese, and they are really good. It's too hard to smell the pizza and just have chicken and salad:)

Anyway, it is almost bed time and I stayed out of the chocolate, yay.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

fairy houses...

Camille and Char and their fairy houses...

The princesses had showers before bed last night, then they got to play in the tub for a bit. It settles them down nicely for bed. I asked them to please not get their hair in the water or put anything in it, it was washed and conditioned. Well, they forgot pretty fast. Somehow they thought it would be fun to put bubblebath in it, and soap up the counters and sinks too. They were in that silly giggly mood. Anyway, I had to wash the bubbles out of their hair and re-condition it.

They are growing up too fast. Slipping through my fingers. Camille still likes to cuddle, thankfully, but they are growing up too fast.

Today is cloudy and overcast, I want to just go get in bed with a good book. My cold is dragging on and on, coughing is not fun. But I am thankful for one aspect of it, being able to have mercy on my kids who are coming down with it. Anyway. Not much to say today.

Monday, May 27, 2013

quiet ending to a lovely day....

We started the day by going to the parade in town, watching it in our friends' driveway. Emily's house is just down the road, and she had the day off from work, so she took Jonathan, Charlotte Claire, and Camille home from the parade with her. Sonja K. stayed at our friends' house, as they have a little girl her age, who spend the night here last night. Just Evelyn and I headed home in the van that was packed with kids on the way there...

Today was absolutely gorgeous outside. Sunshine, warmth, breezy. I sat in the sun for a bit, then decided to do some tidying up outside. I swept the grass from the mower off the driveway and sidewalk, and pulled weeds from the back patio. I talked with Paul while he fixed the glider on the swingset...he has done this before through the years, when he was done he said that it ought to last 'til the little girls get too big for it.

We have a project, or rather Paul has a project. Our swimming pool is 18 years old this summer, and has been as much of a pain as it has been a blessing. Liners and motors and pumps and skimmers and ladders...oh, the things that can go wrong with a backyard pool! Money pits, they are! This year a new problem arose: a few places in the metal sidewalls are totally rusted through, with the liner pushing right through. So we have to drain the water low enough to pull it out of the broken parts, then patch the sidewalls up...Paul has a plan....hopefully it works. Although I did suggest we just get rid of it and get a built-in one with a diving board:)

Anyway. I grilled chicken and made a salad for...just five of us. Seriously, only three kids for dinner. The older kids all went to Susan and Thomas's (my niece and her husband) for a a youth gathering/cookout. I made a triple batch of chocolate chip cookies to send over, and Mirielle cut up a watermelon. Anyway, only five of us for dinner. Jonathan lit some candles and set the table, while I made some broccoli for the little girls who don't really like salad. We got to hear all about the exploring they did over at Em's house. They made fairy houses because Emily said they didn't have any. They had a picnic lunch outside with Emily. They are going over there after school on Thursday, and cannot wait!

So Paul set up one of the tents just to make sure it was all there and had to correct poles, because we are going on our camping trip this weekend, just he and I. We have a new rechargable lantern (charges a.c. plus includes a car charger), which is a far cry from the Coleman lantern my parents used to have, which ran on lantern fuel and was lit with a match. We also have a new queen sized air mattress, which we will inflate with a battery powered pump. Oh, camping ain't what it used to be, but that's a good thing! We have a camp stove, no slaving over a campfire for us. It is supposed to be a really hot weekend, 90 degrees. We are camping, then walking into town to the wine/food tasting event.

I was busy today, took my walk, then walked quite a ways from where we parked for the parade to our friends' house. My knees are stiff, I can't wait to get into that pool in the morning. Tomorrow afternoon I have to pick Margaret and Sonja up from school, pick Samuel up from his Criminal Justice program, drop girls off at dentist, bring Sam to his interview for a school job over the summer, go back and get girls, go back and pick up Sam, then go somewhere to get more peanutbutter, as we are out. Not a good thing to run out of! And of course it isn't only peanutbutter I will buy...milk and bread and yogurt and bananas and veggies....

And now...time for bed....

Sunday, May 26, 2013

lovely spring day...

Jonathan and our new kitty...

Charlotte Claire reading to Camille...

Suri going for a walk with me this fine morning...

I do love where we live, my walks down our road are absolutely beautiful.

Mirielle and Margaret and my niece Audrey sang the National Anthem...Aaron with is camera, and Jon in his striped shirt...(at our church picnic today)

Karen is one of my very best friends. Here she is with her daughter Missy, who is the same age as my son Benjamin.

Lots of patriotic desserts for our picnic...

Mirielle and Emily....

Suri cuddling with her birthday kitten.

Today was a good day. The sun was warm, the wind was cool. Paul planted lilac bushes and put up some fishing line so the deer don't get into his garden. I headed out to the deck with my second cup of coffee, after getting back from my walk and having a bacon, tomato, green pepper omelet and a grapefruit. I was going to sit in the sun for a bit, put my feet up. But when I got out there, I decided to wash the I got a bowl of hot soapy/bleach-y water, and washed the door. Then the side of the house, and the table on the deck. Then it was time to take a shower and get ready for the church picnic.

Sonja is having three friends spend the night, and my niece Olivia is here spending the night. They just had ice cream cones, and I told them to please start settling down and be quiet for the night, and please be quiet in the morning. It always happens at sleepovers: one child wakes up at five or six and decides everyone else should be awake too. Ugh, I just hope they don't wake me up too! I slept until 9:30 this morning, and it was lovely.

Tomorrow there is a Memorial Day parade in starts early. So...goodnight!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

saturday morning chilliness...

Yah, we have lots of kids. But where are they all??! Okay. Some are at the Music Weekend at church. Abigail is going to the eye doctor and the mall, and taking Suzanne and Sonja with her. Samuel is at his friend's house. Only six kids are home right now. I will be taking the three youngest out and about soon...they got Happy Meal coupons from a school reading program, and I am going to be a Nice Mom and take them there today. Why? I don't know. Camille asked me early in the week if we could go there, and I answered, "Not today. Or tomorrow. Or the next day." Friday seemed far away at that point, so I suggested Friday. Well. I did NOT feel like taking them there yesterday, so I asked them if we could please go tomorrow, which is now today, so we are going to McDonalds.

I took Suri on a walk this morning, and she wasn't too bad. She likes to smell and explore, but she didn't tug much on the leash. I did not realize that there is a new grazing place for the cows, and as we were walking, I heard a noise in the woods, and was totally shocked to see those cows standing there. I think Suri could feel my shock right through the leash, because she was not happy. She was afraid of the cows. We met two different neighbors on the way home, and Suri was a bit afraid at first, even barked at one before we got close ...then she sat down to get pet. She is a people dog, but really needs to be socialized more.

It is chilly here, 49 degrees. Overcast and windy. Camille has only undies on for some reason. Charlotte Claire has a beautiful dress on. She is helping Jonathan get out all his Nerf Guns. As if we need more toys out. They have the Sit-N-Spins out, several doll carriages and strollers, and Jon's entire Hess truck collection. They always do this when the living room is really clean, to them it means, Big Place To Play.

Yesterday in the grocery store, I bought bagels. The store has a bakery, and makes these huge yummy bagels. They were on special for four-something a dozen. I know some of my kids really like them, so I decided to pick out a dozen. They were hot from the oven! Berry berry (rasberries and blueberries), cinnamon raisin, French toast, cheddar cheese, garlic, everything....oh yum. Toasted with lots of real butter...these bagels helped me get fat, and I do not eat them any more. There are only a few left out there on the counter in that brown paper bag, and they can't be gone soon enough. I know I can't even take a bite of one, isn't that terrible? Bread and toast and bagels, chips and cookies and 'tatoes. Just can't eat them anymore.

But sometimes I really just want something good. After my walk, I started to prepare my morning oatmeal. Now, I don't eat alot of oats, just half a cup, and I know I should probably cut them out and eat eggs instead...but anyway. We are out of crunchy peanutbutter, so I decided to make pumpkin oatmeal instead. Some canned pumpkin with allspice, cinnamon, ginger, a bit of sweetener and some half and half. Heated it up, added the oats, and a little more half and half, then sliced almonds. Heated it up in the microwave, then milk on top. Oh yumminess, it wasn't quite pumpkin pie, but close enough. I LOVE pumpkin muffins and want to make some, but don't dare...if no one else here eats them, I will eat them all.

Camille Anaya is sitting with me in my comfy chair, she has a book and wants to read it with me. Jon, do not shoot me with that Nerf, if you did not just shoot me, why is there a Nerf bullet on my lap?

And so goes my Saturday....

Friday, May 24, 2013

celebrating! Finally all graduated!!!

Mirielle 23 and Evelyn 13...they look so much alike! Evelyn didn't graduate from anything:) By the way, Cheryl, do you believe they are the same distance apart as you and I are?

This one makes me want to I love the rainy days and the happy way, I feel inside...

We stopped at the store on the way home from the graduation ceremony and got some treats. Paul broiled steak when we got home, while I cut up watermelon and grapefruit and washed strawberries and made mocha brownies.

So here we are home on a rainy afternoon, relaxing. Sonja is doing the little girls' hair, the television is off, it is relatively quiet for a house with 12 kids home. We are having corn on the cob for dinner tonight, it was six ears for a dollar.

Ah well, there is laundry to do, and dinner to start.

don't hate me....

For having such a good life. Because guess what? I woke up to noise this morning. Just the usual noise when the princesses have a day off from school...door slamming, that up-to-no-good giggling, the kind that just screams, "Mom, come check on us!" They weren't doing anything too bad, just decorating their entire faces with markers. Their bedroom floor was strewn with baby wipes, but no evidence on their faces of anything having been washed off. Then I walked down the hall to take Miss Puppy outside, and saw all the bad things she did during the night. The kitty litter was tipped over, the bathroom garbage was all over the living room....and I will spare you the details except for one little clue: I have eleven daughters. There. What a mess, that bad puppy! The piece of parchment that had six chocolate chip cookies on it when I went to bed was on the floor sans cookies, and I really thought I put it back far enough on the counter. The little basked that we used to call the "Nuk-y Basket", we kept pacifiers in it when we had babies, was shredded in pieces, the pennies and hair ponies and erasers and paper clips all over the living room floor. Yet she wagged her tail when she saw me. I was pretty cool towards Miss Suri as I cleaned up that mess. She seemed to know it. She just kept looking at me with those cartoon eyes....until I finally told her I forgave her and gave her lots of pets and pats and praises. Then she was beside herself with wiggling happiness.

And go out shopping with Margaret and Evelyn....I am going to buy cherries, on sale at Price Chopper for $2.99 a pound....

Thursday, May 23, 2013

more pictures...

Jonathan and Charlotte Claire...their concert was wonderful.

Camille and Charlotte Claire...

Camille took us to the kindergarten hall to see her picture.

Jon and his little sisters...he has 11 of them, but with five in a row directly older than him, and these two younger, he is pretty much surrounded by girls.

Waiting for their ice cream...

Yum, they chose Cotton Candy flavor...

And of course the picture of Suri and her kitty.

This evening I shall go out all dressed up in my bye-bye clothes for the third night in a row, to the graduation ceremony of the school of nursing. Mirielle and Aaron are finally finally going to be all done finished...except for the huge state exam, of course. Aaron already has a job, and Mirielle has an interview. I am excited for them, but will miss these days of having them around when they had late classes or days off. There is nothing like sitting around drinking coffee and solving the world's problems with a few of your college kids.

No school tomorrow! Four day weekend! I am planning an early morning trip to the grocery store, and then taking some girls to some places for some things they think they really need. I have been lazy about cutting coupons, but I would like to do that today so I am more prepared tomorrow. '

Blogging is interesting. I can't write about something that made me really angry yesterday, because it would embarrass the heck out of someone. Sometimes I have to be vague, or omit whole events because of that privacy stuff. My kids are used to the fact that I blog now, but they still tease me a bit about it, and are wary of what I might say about them.

I had more to say today, but I have a monster headache. I went to the pool anyway, but it got worse and I had to take more ibuprofen and an acetominophen, now it is dulling but still there.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


Me with my babies...they fell asleep on me the other night. Sweetness!

Okay, story behind the eye-rolling: Mr. Aaron and Miss Mirielle, all dressed up and ready to go to their nursing school convocation. Emily was taking pics with her phone, and I wanted to go back in and get my camera. Em said I could just use these pics. I said I didn't know how to get them from facebook.

I stole this one from Emily too...dogs in people-clothes are always cute, but Aaron is cute too.

Jonathan, his cousin Grace, Sonja K., their friend Irene...when Emily took them, "Waterfalling."

My three nurses...Emily, Aaron, and Mirielle....

Another one stolen from Emily...Miss Suzanne and her big sister Mirielle.

After convocation last night we went out to dinner to celebrate. Quaker Steak and Lube...and it was All-You-Can-Eat Chicken Wing Night. So. Need I mention I never want to go out to eat again? Too many wings for me! But I shall mention they were good...chipotle dusted bbq, hot buffalo....boneless and regular...yum.

I behaved myself during the pinning ceremony (Emily pinned Mirielle and Aaron), but it was not easy. The first speaker was thankful for this "auspicious" occasion, and it sounded like she said, "suspicious" occasion, and for some reason it was too funny. I swear, if Emily had looked at me with a smirk on her face, I would have lost it. But I wanted to behave and sit there like a regular grown-up, and not embarrass my kids. Phew. I did it.

Tonight there is an elementary school concert, which the younger kids are very excited about. Charlotte Claire has determined that she does not want to match Camille, because it embarrasses her when everyone asks her if they are twins. Dang. But I will respect that. Anyway. I am picking them up from school today, too. Not Jonathan though. He got all dressed and ready for school this morning, and then started to tear up...he is still not feeling so great, his cheek is still all chipmunk-y...and he was up too late last night. Our power went out from the wind and rain, after the younger kids were tucked into out they came as their fans turned off. Ya, we sleep with fans. We had a Power Is Out Party, complete with candles and scary stories. The living room was pretty full, and I figured that only Benjamin, Abigail, and Mali weren't here.

The power went back on around midnight, the kids were long back in bed and sleeping by then.

In addition to our elementary concert, there is activity club and choir practice at church. Some kids who are in A.C. aren't in choir, and some in choir aren't in A.C., so we have to figure out who is driving what and with whom and all that fun stuff. Logistics.

And now, to go and switch laundry...

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

hot and humid....

Summer has arrived! This morning I had to take Mr. Jonny to the dentist. He told me last week that his tooth hurt. Okay. I heard him. I filed it away under, "I'll think about it more later, it probably isn't too bad." Then next night he told me it really hurt. That was Thursday, and our dentist isn't open on Friday. Friday was his field trip. He kept holding his face, and saying it hurt, so I gave him ibuprofen. By Sunday his cheek was nice and swollen, and he was really hurting. I called the dentist first thing yesterday, and got him an appointment for first thing this morning. Well, not exactly FIRST thing. First, I had to get the princesses ready and on the bus. Anyway. His tooth had two small cavities which were filled, and showed no other decay, but there was a huge abscess, and it was a baby tooth (molar), with the new one already under it. So we agreed it had to come out. Poor Jon. The novocaine needle had to go right into the infected gum. He started shaking and I could see his nostrils flaring, I knew he was in pain...

Out came the tooth, and almost, down went Mom, but I managed to take a deep breath and not faint. Jon had asked me to please stay in there for the whole time, so somehow I did.

We are home now. He is lying on the couch with an ice-pack on his cheek. Poor kid. If I could hug all his pain away, I would. I would rather have it myself than to see him suffer.

I know, it's only a tooth, but it still had large roots, and it was yanked out. His face is really swollen, and he seems almost betrayed by the he is a child, and big people are supposed to take care of him, and yet...he is hurting....

He is going to take a little nap now. I am going to make myself work out, because I NEED to.

Even though it is hot and muggy.

This afternoon is the convocation ceremony, so I won't be making dinner here tonight, although most of the family will still be here. I will of course offer suggestions before I leave with Mirielle and Aaron:)

I don't like getting dressed up in Bye-bye clothes when it is so hot out. Blah. But. I honestly don't mind walking out the door sometimes. I am proud of Mirielle and Aaron, and am looking forward to seeing them get pinned. Their big sister Emily is going to pin them:)

And now I shall get Jonathan's fan for him, so he can snooze on the couch...perhaps I will switch laundry, then exercise....although I would rather crawl back in my comfy bed with my book....

Monday, May 20, 2013

monday morning and a house full of school skippers...

But instead of dwelling on who didn't go, I shall mention who DID. Samuel, Margaret, Kathryn, Evelyn, and Suzanne got on that bus this morning. Sonja K. isn't feeling well, she has this cold and feels stuffy and dizzy. Char barfed twice yesterday, which was interesting. She was all pale, she ran to the bathroom, then not long later was swirling and twirling around on the deck blowing the bubbles Emily gave her for her birthday, wearing a long dress that flared out when she spun...laughing and having a good old time. She came in the house and was still bouncing off the walls, then bam, she ran in and threw up again. hmm. Oh, and Jonathan has a tooth bothering him. I am not sure if it is one tooth trying to come in and getting impacted, or the one behind it acting up. I will let the dentist figure it out. Jon's cheek looks very chipmunk-y. So of course I didn't send him. It started bothering him on Thursday night, and the dentist is closed on it had been a long weekend for Jon. Anyway, Camille has a cold too, plus there is no way in heck she would get on that bus without Jon and Char.

Joseph, who is between jobs right now, ha, will be glad to look after them while I take a swim this morning, thankfully.

Not that I so much feel like taking a swim. I am stuffy and blah, and could seriously hibernate today.

I took a long walk yesterday, then did a small afternoon workout in Margaret's room while she played the piano, which was nice except for my pounding head. Sinuses, I guess.

So when I get back from the pool, I will call the dentist and see if they can fit Jon in today. We seriously need some groceries, but I don't think he will be up for a stop at the store. We'll see. He is too big to ride in a cart, wah.

Char just said, as I coughed and choked, "Poor Mommy, I prayed for her, so she is going to get better alot faster."

Camille has on my huge polka-dotted bathrobe, and just told me that her tummy hurts really bad. Oh joy.

Now, I don't really like to encourage the kids to watch television, but I admit I just told them to turn on, "Curious George." They are fussing and fretting, those two little princesses. Char insists on lying on the couch, but Camille wants to sit next to her and won't just lie on the other end, keeps trying to move Char's feet.

Suri just sneaked down the hall and started chowing on the kitten's food. I heard her, so yelled for her to stop. She did, then came over to my chair and looked at me. I didn't pet her, just told her to lie down. She walked over to her mat bed, which she usually doesn't sleep on because she prefers couches, and just plunked down, looking at me. I was not about to call her a good dog, but I think she knows I still love her.

You know what I like almost better than chicken breast? Boneless thighs. More fat, more flavor, crispy in the oven.
We had some for dinner last night. We could live on chicken and veggies. And watermelon. Oh, watermelon season is upon us again, and maybe ours will grow in the garden this year. And, cherries are ripening! I love the summer produce.

Our garden is huge this year. 48 tomato plants, all different varieties. Melons and peppers and snap peas and lettuces. Our grapevines are surviving, and the rasberry bushes are multiplying. We still have to plant yellow squash and zucchini. And cukes. And radishes. Paul says it is therapeutic to walk in the dirt with barefeet. Suri thinks so too, she likes to walk right on the plants. I think it is more therapeutic to put my feet up and write, but to each his own. And I do like the veggies. I don't mind weeding and watering, either.

My son Joseph turned 22 the other day. I use his age to gauge how long we have lived in this house, he was a baby when we started framing it, and eleven months old when we moved in. That was a hard year because Paul went straight from work to the building site, and was here on weekends. My brothers and Paul built it while holding down full time jobs. Bob had at least 8 kids then, and Tom had five. Emily was six when Joseph was born, Abigail 4, Benjamin 2 and a half, and Mirielle fifteen months. (little did I know what was to come, my first two were the only ones to be that far apart. I lost a baby at 12 weeks between Abigail and Benjamin). Anyway. How I do go on....boring my own self. Joseph turned 22 last week, and we didn't do much for his birthday. He wanted some protein powder...I also got him a new pillow and a package of socks. Yeah, I know. He is an interesting boy. I know I am his mother, but his drawing is awesome. He can also write music and play the guitar. He is teaching himself graphic design instead of incurring so much debt in student loans. He is so respectful of me, he gets me. He has this perception, and when I really need it, he will say something so comforting. He will also help with anything around here I ask him to do.

Benjamin and his wife Ashley seem to be doing all right. They are moving from their tiny apartment to a two-bedroom house, since they are expecting a baby. Ben is taking college classes, and got an A+ on his first test. Ashley is feeling fine, and is super excited to be having a baby. I just hope he doesn't get deployed again.....

Saturday, May 18, 2013

sick sick sick....

Silly Sammy Slick...sipped six sodas, and got sick sick sick. Dr. Seuss, of course. But I didn't sip six sodas. I just have a cold, and I am a big baby. My nose is all stuffed up, the coughing started. blah. So guess what? I am taking it easy today, which is very difficult for such an energetic young mom like myself. To just sit here writing, in my comfy chair, sipping coffee. My living room right now? Amazing. Two little princesses, sound asleep. One on the couch, one on a pile of comforters on the floor. One bad kitten attacking Char's feet. The fan is on, so I am also almost asleep. But don't worry, I can write in my sleep.

See, the princesses and Jonathan slept in the living room last night. Aaron and Joseph were their babysitters last evening, as the girls went to out to girls' fellowship. Aaron texted me (I was working at the baseball game concession stand) and asked if it was okay for them to sleep in here. For some reason, they love it. I was fine with it. When we got home, the house was all dark and they were all sleeping with Suri and Kitty.

Anyway. They must be still tired....they just zonked out for naps.

It is quiet and lonely in our house today. When you are a mom, you always need to know where your kids are. So here's where mine are today:

1. Emily, 28: Went to play in some waterfalls, probably to a state park south of here. She took Sonja and Jonathan.

2. Abigail, 26: Went to Michigan with Evelyn and some other girls from church.

3. Benjamin, 24: Stationed in Washington state in the Army. Probably just hanging out with Ashley today.

4. Mirielle, 23: At the hospital working her clinical rotation needed for nursing school.

5. Joseph, 22: Home.

6. Aaron, 20: Same as Mirielle.

7. Mali, 19: Working at McDonald's.

8. Samuel, 17: Huge airsoft tournament down near New York City.

9. Margaret, 16: Home.

10. Kathryn, 15: Ottowa visiting Janet and Joe.

11. Evelyn, 13: Michigan with Abigail.

12. Suzanne, 12: Ottowa with Kathryn.

13. Sonja, 11: Waterfalls with Emily.

14. Jonathan, 9: Waterfalls with Emily.

15. Charlotte Claire, 7: Home.

16. Camille Anaya, 5: Home.

Four kids home out of sixteen. It is too quiet! The little girls are awake now, although Camille is still all covered up on the couch. How cozy is that? It is cloudy out, a comfy day to be in here lounging. Now, of course you know there are niggling thoughts, telling me to get up and throw another load of laundry in, to wash up those dishes. I already swept the kitchen and put in a load of bedding, but that's about it. I just gravitated towards my chair.

The girls said Aaron made them grilled cheese, baked beans, and broccoli for dinner. Camille said that Aaron made her eat, "yucky broccoli." I love love love thinking of my big boys babysitting their little sisters.

It is such a gift to simply be alive. Add to that all the blessings, like the kids and having a home and enough to eat....time marches on, but I will not take any of it for granted.

Camille is lying on the couch, thumb in mouth, all covered up, kitty sleeping on her. Char is talking about the chorus concert next week. Now Camille is singing, "It's A Marshmallow World In The Winter", and Char is chiming in. Maybe I will just sit here all day and enjoy their cuteness. I don't know about you, but I have a hard time enjoying anyone's cuteness when I get busy and try getting things done. So there, I have justified my sitting here....

Friday, May 17, 2013

because I am my mother's daughter.

That was Mirielle's answer to my question. My question was...why do I always notice a child who breaks my heart?

Oh, I enjoyed the field trip. The sand and water table, and the stationary bikes that generate enough electricity to turn on a panel of bulbs. The motion simulator, which was a sub going under Lake Ontario. But the kids? I don't want to bring ALL of them home, no, today just one little girl. Why? She was shy. She looked like my Sonja. Her hair needed a wash. She watched the other girls, but they payed no attention to her. When she sat with two girls on the bus, one of them asked her to leave so they could be alone, which did not set well with me. I told the girl that was NOT nice. Then I talked with the little girl. She has the same Target sneakers as me. I told her that, and that I loved them.

I just hope her mommy and daddy love her and tell her how sweet and pretty she is.

And to the baseball game I go..

Thursday, May 16, 2013

sunny spring day...

And I made it to the pool this morning. And last evening, too. I told Paul this morning that I wasn't going to go, I need to switch things up, ect. And that I can't go tomorrow because I am going to the science museum with the third graders...Paul said, Go to the pool! Just switch up how you swim or something. So I decided he was right, and went.

Today I am picking Samuel up and taking him to a notary so I can sign permission papers for him to play in a huge airsoft tournament this weekend near New York City. Tomorrow, Abigail is taking Evelyn, with some other girls from church, to Michigan for the weekend. They are going up through Canada, so I had to sign papers for that, and dig out her birth certificate. Then Kathryn and Suzanne were invited to go to Ottowa for the weekend to visit my niece Janet....

Busy busy busy, I tell you. After my field trip tomorrow I will be heading back out to work at the baseball stadium.

This is the season of busy, when you have elementary school kids. End of year picnics to send snacks too, kindergarten graduation to send cookies in for,end of the year concerts, field days where they need certain color shirts, and of course the barrage of field trips. This is the first year I have been really free to go on them. Anyway, we have a kindergarten graduate, the last of sixteen....and two college graduates, Mirielle and Aaron.

In the midst of all this, I have the two cutest distractions I could possibly have, unless of course someone gave me another baby. Little kitty is adorable! When the kids brought him home, I was seriously like, "okay, more work." But. This kitty is a sweetheart. He follows me around with his little tail up in the air, bouncing and swatting things, meowing to be picked up. He is a cuddler and a purrer. He never misses the litter, and doesn't cause any trouble. He sleeps with Suri, attacks her mercilessly, and pounces on people's feet. And Suri, she is of course my little buddy.

I met a lady at the pool this morning who homeschools her four little boys. I asked her some questions about it...and when she found out how many kids I have, she said, "Wow! And you look like you have it all together!" Now, that is the most hilarious thing I have ever heard. Part of me was like, "I do? I look like I have it all together? Ooooh." But I know the truth. Ha. I can do lots of things okay, some things terribly, but nothing perfectly. I forget things, and I never seem to have everything caught up at the same time. I can do lots of laundry, then realize the windows haven't been cleaned in...well, I don't remember. Socks? ha. don't even talk to me about socks. Yes, we have lots of them. And yes, the kids wear matching ones. But most of our socks are swinging singles. All hanging out in a big laundry basket together.

Anyway. I do admire those who seriously do have their act together, I personally know a few people who do.

But I am not sure they would have dropped everything and gone out for coffee with their brother if their house looked like mine when my brother called, and I went with him.

I was thinking the other day that if I KNEW I only had like a month to live, would I do things I hate to do but feel obligated to do, like wedding/baby showers, graduation parties,...? Then I realized that although I perhaps have lots more than a month to live, my days ARE numbered. I have already been here for almost 48 years! Time isn't unlimited, spread before me in abundance. Then I doesn't really matter if I spend my time doing things I hate doing...if I am doing things out of a good heart, and if I have a good spirit, and a mind to be a blessing...if I don't give into my grumbling and complaining, and instead be thankful...then it doesn't really matter.

So. I could be a lot busier than I am. I could, for example, get up out of this comfy chair, and get moving. I suppose it doesn't matter that I have already washed several dishes and pans, swept floors, put two loads of laundry through, served some breakfasts and made some lunches, showered some kids and brushed out their hair, remembered permission slips and helped with spelling words, walked and fed the dog, fed the kitty, cleaned up spilled water from the kitty....dang, I am ready for a nap!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

lots and nothing...

So our library trip went well, if you consider almost getting kicked out of the library a success. See, I was browsing the newly arrived mysteries when I realized there was background noise. Hysterical laughing, you know the kind, the kind four sisters are pretty good at. They must've forgotten where they were. I set out to find them because I KNEW it was them. By the time I rounded the corner of the aisle they were in, the librarian was saying, "Straighten out or leave. I mean it." I said, "I was just going to tell them the same thing. Thank you." Didn't want her to think I would actually approve of such behavior. So I gave the girls my sternest looks, my strongest whispered threats to disband, disperse, don't look at each other,knock it off, get some books, and let's get out of here. I mean, sometimes serious admonitions can just add fuel to the fire and make them laugh harder, and I did not want to get kicked out of that library. Thing is, I told them later, I was afraid I was going to start laughing too, because that's what I do. When laughter is forbidden, things get very funny to me. And the looks those girls gave each other when the librarian was shaking her finger at them...oh, I felt the silliness in me stir.

Turns out they had a really good reason to start laughing. One of them apparently farted, loudly, and the group of boys sitting several feet away heard it, and started laughing. Then one of them pulled a book off the shelf that was about sad poems, with a ridiculous was all just too funny.

We headed to Target, but as we cut through the parking lot of the hardware store, who did we meet but older sister Emily? Evelyn decided to abandon us to go with Emily.

I got the girls a drink at the Starbucks in Target, and got my favorite, medium roast coffee with sugar-free mocha and room for cream. I got a gift for the baby shower on Saturday, and let the girls get a few things. I also bought a folding chaise lounge for $16, thought it would make camping in tents more comfy, make me think I am in my chair at home.

Grocery store for bananas and milk and pears and bagels and detergent and dog chow.

Home...time to make dinner! Homemade pizza. Zucchini pizza for me...just sliced it up, browned it in the oven in olive oil, then added toppings. Browned it up again, and yummy. Pizza without the guilt.

I resisted chocolate last evening, which should result in like a ten pound loss, if the suffering was equal to the result.

This morning, fun abounds here! I decided on a whim to let the three youngest stay home...or rather, go out and about with mommy. They have birthday money to spend, and want to go to the big toystore. They already have some ideas of what they want from browsing online with me, so hoepefully they will be reasonable if things in the store are lots more expensive. It is fun to go and look, and fun to skip school. But they learn things this way too...when Char was looking online, she knew she had a $3 off coupon, so she was subtracting three bucks from each item in her head.

They are mostly ready now, all fed and dressed. We cleaned up the living room and the kitchen first, and I put my second load of laundry in. I am putting off my trip to the pool until later, which is not smart, is what I am doing today...

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

and off he join the army...

Suri knows Sam is waiting for someone...probably because Sam said, "Who's here?" a few times. Sam was waiting for the Sgt. to come pick him up...and take him to his overnight - physical and test. Yes, he is joining the Army.

I realized that he will be leaving us for four years, and I simply can't take it. Don't want him to. Four years is too long. Then he said, "And longer if I make a career of it." Now, I hate to be a big baby, but Samuel is a great kid. I don't want to miss all that time with him. And when he comes back, he will be different. Harder, more sure of himself. And dang, I don't even have to be sad about this yet because he won't be leaving for quite a while. He is graduating early, next January, and won't ship out until after then. So I have plenty of time before I have to be sad.

Jonathan 9 and Charlotte Claire 7, sharing a birthday celebration.

My Mother's Day card from Jon.

Suri and Kitty taking a nap.

This afternoon I am taking some girls to the library. And to Target, because Suzanne says she really needs to see if there are any shoes on sale that fit her. Evelyn put Post-It notes up all over that say, "Library Books", so I won't forget them this time. She has a three foot stack on the kitchen table.

This weekend there are no fundraisers at church, nothing major planned, but there is a baby shower I am invited to on Saturday. So we may take the kids mini-golfing or something. Friday I am going to the Science Museum with the third graders. I really like chaperoning field trips.

Paul and I have planned our next little weekend away. Next month we are camping and attending a wine and food tasting event. We had so much fun last year we decided to do it again. The camping part fell into place because the hotels in that area are so expensive, and we couldn't reserve a room for just one night, all of them have two night minimums. So we decided to try the state park instead...

It is chilly and overcast, a nice day to sit in my comfy chair. Miss Char didn't go to school today because her tummy hurt. I think she is fine, but she was really pale earlier, and so many kids here and there have had the dreaded Throw-Up Bug, I decided to just keep her home. Camille wasn't sure how to feel about it, she really wanted to stay home too, her own tummy started acting up suddenly. I told her she could stay home too if she took off her nice school clothes and got back into bed. She disappeared down the hall only to come back a few minutes later, all decided to just go to school. But by the time the bus came, she had tears in her eyes because she didn't want to go with out Char. This mama does not like to send teary eyed children on that bus, but it was coming down the road, and I reassured her that she could take a day off some other time...and off she went.

Aaron doesn't have class today, so he is doing the dishwasher for me...oh, I feel guilty sitting here. I told him he didn't have to, but he insisted.

I picked some lilacs from the yard and put them in a vase. I love the smell of lilacs. They remind me so much of my mother. I am missing her these days. Seven years she has been gone.

Well...I promised Charlotte Claire I would help her look online for something to buy with her birthday money. (ha, that's a good one for #firstworldprobs....trying to find something to spend money on...)

Monday, May 13, 2013

birthday party!!!

Jonathan turned 9, Charlotte Claire turned 7, and Suri turned one....

Suri got a kitten for her birthday!

The kitten is also Char's....

Char, Camille, Danielle, Sean, Timmy, Toby, and Jonathan...we are having fun!

quick monday hello....

or rather, The Calm Before The Storm. Because in just ten minutes I had better be backing out of the driveway in that big van, going to school to pick up seven children for a birthday party here. Here inside, because, it is COLD out. Rainy, cold. Grass is wet, ground muddy. So in the house for this party. Margaret made cupcakes, and I have dinner all planned: corn dogs and french fries, mixed veggies. I made prize bags, wrapped a few gifts.

Today...oh it has gone too fast. I went to the pool, yay, then got home, all ready to switch laundry and do some housework. Then my brother called and asked me to go get a cup of coffee with him. Yes, I would love to! See, that's the difference between me and regular grown-ups. So off I went. It was really nice. We sat in McDonalds, me sipping coffee and eating a fruit parfait (made with yogurt, less than 200 calories)....and watching his grand-daughter run around the playland. (she has red hair, I wish wish wish my mother could have met her. My mother had this distinct red hair but none of her seven children did. Now she has a few grandchildren with it though....)

Anyway. We also went to Aldi so I could get an air mattress. Paul and I are going on a little camping trip in June, just the two of us. We are camping and going to a food and wine tasting event. I don't mind sleeping in a tent, but the air mattress is rather necessary. I also bought a rechargeable lantern, it also charges in the car. Cool. No batteries every. When I was a kid, the Coleman lantern ran on lantern oil and was lit with a match. day went by too fast. I managed to sweep floors and do two loads of laundry, but there is always more to be done. But. I do not regret my little outing with my brother, not one bit. I am very thankful to have him for a friend. He is the dad of ten kids, we never run out of things to talk about. One of his boys is shipping out with the Marines next month. Which is both happy and sad, if you know what I mean. An aim, a purpose, training for a good career, but wah, be safe!!

And now it is time to scramble out the door, since I have used ever single minute up sitting here in this comfy chair...

Friday, May 10, 2013

seven years ago today.....

I was picking my daughter Emily up from her last day of nursing school. We stopped to visit my parents. I was pregnant for Miss Charlotte Claire and was to be induced the very next morning. I remember my parents being proud of Emily and excited about the baby. My mother patted that baby bump, or rather baby mountain. She was not doing well. She had been in a nursing home for a while in the early part of the year and did not like it one little bit. Her eyesight was bad and her feet were turning black with diabetic necropathy, or however that is spelled. She wasn't getting around like she used to and her heart was doing funny things during her kidney dialysis sessions. Oh, if I had realized that she would only be around for a few more months! I kind of knew but it is too hard to really come to terms with, the thought of losing someone forever. So we visited them that beautiful spring day. We knew it would be too hard for my mom to get to the hospital to see the baby when she was born, because my father was sick too, with leukemia. And believe me, my mom was the absolute QUEEN of visiting her grandchildren in the hospital. She loved those babies! I promised promised promised her I would bring that newborn to see Gramma as soon as I possibly could. So Char was born on Thursday, May 11th, and I brought her to see Gramma just a few days later. My mother held her, and I get teary-eyed thinking about it. Charlotte Claire had to grow up not knowing that wonderful Gramma, and Camille didn't meet her at all.

Anyway....tomorrow Miss Char turns seven.

And since I totally forgot while I was out and about yesterday that I was supposed send in birthday treats for Char and Jonathan today at school, I asked them to tell their teachers I would do it on Monday instead. I was searching my kitchen last night....not enough cupcake papers. Not enough of anything, for two classes. Jon said the kids would rather have packaged Swiss Rolls than homemade cupcakes anyway. ouch. but easier! So I shall get some of those and remember to send them in on Monday because my oh, my reputation! Good thing I kind of don't care.

Samuel's Army Sgt. stopped in yesterday to pick up some forms. Suri barked at him for like twenty seconds, ran over to get some pets, and settled down on the floor with a harumph, head on paws. I loved it! To have a dog that behaves when someone stops in! Suri is such a sweetie. She is lying on the couch with the kitten right now. This morning when I gave her some puppychow, kitty came over to see what was going on. Suri flopped down on the floor and watched as kitty sampled that puppy chow. What a good girl! I scooped up kitty and told Suri what a good girl she was. That kitty is sitting right curled up next to her, taking a bath. It is so sweet!

And the pool I going back to bed today!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

and one day she just decided The Heck With It and went back to bed...

Now, before you start thinking how lazy I am, consider that 28 years ago I had my first child, at 19 years old. That first child was 22 and a half when her youngest sister was born. The sweet little Camille Anaya, who didn't like to sleep. Oh, I enjoyed her. Don't get me wrong. But. Oh I have been sleep deprived for so many years. We didn't have one of those modern agreements where we took turns getting up with babies. I figured he had to work hard all those years, actually function in the real world. I, on the other hand, just had to get to appointments with matching shoes on and get the shopping done. So I let him sleep, and I got up with babies. When kids were sick, however, or if an older child needed someone during the night, Paul never nudged me to get up, he was very good that way. Anyway. Fast forward to today. My youngest sweetheart is in kindergarten. I am home. The kids got on the bus. I read some email, checked for comments on my blog, cruised through facebook quick. It was time to go to the pool. I did not want to go to the pool. I stayed up too too late last night catching up with my happy almost-graduated nursing students. I read my book. I enjoyed the quietness and tried to ignore that voice of reason that was trying to get me to get my ample rear-end out of this comfy chair and go to bed. It was right, that voice of reason. So this head ached. I had washed some dishes, made French toast for the school kids, packed lunches, taken Suri outside, fed the kitty kitten, swept the floors...then it was quiet, and time to go out in the rain to the pool. Um, no thanks. Yes, GO! that voice said. Nah...I want to finish my book. So...I climbed into my comfy bed, read for an hour, then my eyes were heavy and I dozed off...woke a half hour later...10:30, yikes. I have things to do today! I will hate myself if I waste any more time here, I thought. So I got up. My head still aches, but ahh, it was nice to be irresponsible and lazy!

And this is just getting back from vacation, too. The drive home really wore me out....and the unpacking. Oh, getting home from vacation means you just need another vacation.

So now I am going to for some candy for the weekend, return some bathing suits that were too baggy on the little girls, get some groceries, again. Then pick up Sam from his Criminal Justice class and bring him to meet with that Army recruiter. He is going to sign those papers. ouch my soul. Sam is like a great big little kid. He has a huge heart, and is just too good for this world. He believes in this country, and that justice will prevail.

The little girls' room is a mess again. Books sideways on shelves, small baby couch monster of clothes. My room needs some serious attention, as I tried on clothes before our trip, then draped them nicely over the Simo pram that is still in there. I think Paul has given up asking me when we are getting rid of it. I just look at him like, What? Why would I want to get rid of it? I love it!

So I will do what I do best. I will get dressed into bye-bye clothes, and get in my minivan and head out the door. It is Wednesday, half-price day at the thrift store in the small city:)

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

quiet evening...

Well, for here it is quiet. Paul is roto-tilling more garden, this year it is going to be bigger and better. The princesses are outside with dollies and strollers, Jon and Sonja are doing homework. All the older kids are at the youth meeting at church. The baby kitten is crying...he is such a big baby. He follows me around the house all day, reminding me of the book, "Are You My Mother?" I thought he was too young to be taken from his mama, but Mali said tonight that they are seven weeks old now. Mali passed her nursing final, she is pretty excited. Mirielle and Aaron passed theirs too, and are on track to graduate this month. Phew. I feel like I have gone through nursing college too.

Today was absolutely wonderful. I headed to the pool after sending the nine kids off to school. I always try to talk myself out of it. Then I am so glad when I actually get into the water. Even if I don't end up doing other exercise or going on a walk, I have that session of swimming in for the day. My sister-in-law met me there this morning, so it was pleasant. Home...laundry, hung it out to dry in the sunshine. Swept and puttered around, read some of a book....then it was time to go pick up three kids from school, go into town to pay an insurance bill, to the store quick for some tortilla chips for taco salad...then home, again. Sam had a date with the Army recruiter for tomorrow afternoon here. I asked him to just please call him and see if we could just meet him at the recruiting station instead because it would be crazy to have him here trying to talk to us when the kids were getting home from school and eating and leaving for Activity Club at church...he said that worked for him, and I am so relieved. I do not have to clean the house now. I clean somewhat all the time anyway, but when you know someone will be coming in and sitting for a while, well, you have to clean better. And I don't like cleaning better. If someone wanted to do it for me, I wouldn't object. But.

Anyway. Busy week here for me, again. There is a soccer tournament weekend at church this weekend, and guess who has to buy soda and water and candy for it? yup. And Friday, we have big fun plans. Emily and Aaron and Mirielle invited me to go along on a trip to a small city not too far from here, on an adventure. Perhaps a small hike, a trip out for some Mexican food....I tell you, having small children can be trying, but they grow up into FRIENDS.

On a side note, my teeny tiny kitty is so sweet! He was meowing on the couch...just pitifully...I called him over, and he found me here in my chair...he snuggled right into the crook of my elbow...he is happy as can be now. He is a doofus.

Miss Charlotte Claire turns 7 on Saturday. Today is Suri's one year old birthday. So they want a double birthday. Jon will join them, since he didn't have one with any friends...perhaps on Monday we will have this celebration. We will have some presents for Suri too, please please please says Charlotte Claire.

I now have a fuzzy little kitty sleeping right on my chest. I love when they are small and can't get close enough. And I LOVE the way Suri and kitty get along. They love each other! Suri wags her tail and licks the kitten, and the kitten rubs against Suri and has that Are You My Mama look on his silly little face.

This IS the life. I know I sound crazy, but I do like little kitties. I get so distracted by him, can't resist stopping what I'm doing and scooping him up for cuddles....

Time to give baths to kids who have been playing outside, and get them tucked into bed....

Yeah, so

Monday, May 6, 2013

in which she writes....finally, just writes...

It has been a long time since I sat in my comfy chair in my quiet living room....writing. Last evening when I put up some pictures, which take forever and a day to load, out here in the country with our slooow internet, I was also talking to Aaron, Mirielle, Evelyn. We had a lot of catching up to do. I can't just sit here and type when there are kids to talk to.

Anyway, apparently the house was cleaner when we were gone. I KNEW they would say this. Is it because the little kids make messes, or is it Mommy? I think little kids, but then it is hard to see oneself clearly, right? I do know I shined up the front of the 'fridge first thing, it was all handprint-y. They said they knew I would do that.

So...our trip was way too much fun. Mixed with a few trials, of course. Someone peed in their carseat at 3 am in Virginia, I think. At the Shell station, the one that declined our credit card because we forgot to punch in our zip code at the gas pump. Towels, always travel with some towels. They make good pillows for when the nice mama gives the one she brought for herself to one of the kids in the backseat who forgot one. And they make a pee-pee carseat sittable again. (I could have guessed it would happen, since I washed those covers before the trip. Ah well, it is all washed again, drying in the sunshine.)

We had a slow leak in one of the tires on the way home. That made it interesting. We played the Can We Make It To The Next Exit Before It Goes Flat game between stopping and pumping it up.

I also played a game which I named, "Paying Attention". It is a must-play for middle of the night driving when everyone in the vehicle is asleep, and the road starts blurring. The rules are simple: just pay attention! Road signs, watch for deer (North Carolina, wow, lots of deer there!)...I drove for hours in the deep dark night on the way home, and I stayed awake and alert by playing that game, plus eating one peanut M&M every ten minutes. When they were gone, I rooted around in the snack box and found a bar...thought it was FiberOne or a Balance Bar, but it was a CocoaPuffs bar that Gramma had bought. I still ate it. Kept me REALLY awake for a while.

I do not like passing tractor-trailers. I hate it, actually. But unless you want to just sit behind them and absorb all their tail-wind, or worse, drive behind them in the rain and be stuck in a mobile carwash as the rain swirls around them and flies up at you, you have to pass them.

I also hate people who text and drive. Duh! You are swerving into my lane, is that text really that important?!

Our trip...the kids here who stayed home are tired of hearing about the trip. But guess what? I am not tired of talking about it yet. The things I loved most were simple things:

1. The way the kids enjoyed each and every thing about it. Even the bathroom stops at gas stations were exciting for them. btw, the little girls have a term for pooping...they call it, "Going potatoes." I don't know why, but it struck me as really funny.

2. Want to make five kids really happy? Tell them they can each get a 79 cent slushy when you stop for gas. A few of them asked, "We each get our own? We don't have to share?"

3. Stopping at McDonalds for dinner. I hated the food, because I don't eat that stuff anymore...I had six fries and six chicken nuggets, and a fruit parfait, and felt awful...but they got to pick three things each from the dollar menu, and it was almost sad how much they enjoyed it.

4. Taking them out to breakfast. On the way down, we stopped at the WaffleHouse. They rarely go to restaurants, so they were pretty happy. They also got a kick out of the waitress's South Carolina twang.

5. Visiting with my mother-in-law. She is such a lady. I hope we didn't wear her out too much, but I doubt it. She has more energy than I do. She keeps her place spotless, not a thing out of order. She took us out to dinner, and made us some lovely meals. She had tons of good snacks for the kids, and ice cream for them every night. She let the princesses play in her room, and play house all over her house.

6. The way the Camille knew the order of the states we passed through....on the way back, I asked her what state we would be entering as we left Georgia, and she thought a minute and said, "South Carolina!"

7. Our unexpected visit to the ocean. We got soaked in the waves, waded in the warm tidal pools, collected a million shells to bring home, and enjoyed the sunshine.

8. The kids really wanted pizza, so we got one from Domino's. They thought that was just grand.

9. Their excitement at the hotels. They like exploring and exclaiming about all the features. Our first hotel in Florida was a suite, and they just marvelled at it.

10. Our second hotel in Florida was amazing. The kids just loved it. The little girls unplugged the phones and played office with out on the patio. There were seven pools there and several hot tubs. One rainy day they went down the waterslide, played on a miniture ship in a kids' pool, and swam in the heated pool in the rain...until it rained so hard the pools were closed because the lifeguard couldn't see the bottoms....Camille suggested we go back to our room and have a, "Cozy Night". We did. We had coffee and tea, they ate Ramen noodles, then we had frozen pizzas for dinner. It was cozy.

11. Going to Magic Kingdom. I, as you well know, am not a planner. Not an organizer. I try. But. Anyway, I read lots of stuff before we went, and saw that there are people out there who go to Disney, and know what the heck they are doing. They map it out, have strategies. This worried me a bit, I thought we would be there and wait too long in lines, do everything bass-ackwards, and have not enough fun. So I read about the Fast-Passes, and memorized the park map. I needn't have worried! It was AMAZING! The weather was forecast to be rainy, but it was gorgeous all day until evening, when the rain started. We used those Fast-Passes, and they are magical! Simply swipe your tickets at a ride, and come back at the time stated, within an hour. When you return, you go straight to the ride, get right on, right past all the people who are waiting! We used it over and over again. Splash Mountain, riding through a stream in a raft, past Brer Bear and Brer Rabbit, then plunging down a fifty foot drop, getting soaked...three times we went on it. The little kids loved it! Thunder Mountain, twice. The Haunted Mansion, Dumbo Flying Elephants, Ariel's Under The Sea Adventure, Winnie-The-Pooh Land (Martha, I thought of you, you would have liked it!), Tomorrowland Speedway - twice, Buzz Lightyear, twice....the Carousel of Progress, Pirates Of The Caribbean, Storytime With Belle, The Country Bear Jamboree, and...Space Mountain. Space Mountain...we had Fast Passes, so we went right in, right up...I had never been on it, and did not terrifying it was going to be. The seats are individual, so Camille sat behind me. As the ride started going into the darkness, and curving and speeding and spinning, oh my goodness. I thought, What Have I Done To My Children? I couldn't even turn around and see if Camille was okay, because I was hanging on for dear life! I thought I was going to fly right out of that seat! Then it was over, and she had this look on her face....and she said, "Let's do it again, it was SO MUCH FUN!"

12. Spending time with Paul. He is such a good guy. I swear, I fall more in love with him year after year. He just takes things so calmly. Enjoys the simple things. He liked all the channels we got down there so he could watch some of those crazy cable shows where the hicks and hillbillies shoot deer in rich neighborhoods and hunt alligators. When the kids were going crazy in the back seat while we were driving, he just told me to ignore them, it didn't bother him. He got such a kick out of seeing the kids enjoy themselves at Disney too. And when we got home and surveyed the mess in that minivan, he just brought the garbage can over and started cleaning it up, unlike, who was like, SERIOUSLY GUYS? (how many times did I ask them if they threw out all their trash, how many times did they assure me that they did?!)

So...we had fun.

We brought our little soft-sided cooler into the park with turkey wraps and peaches and frozen Kool-Aid coolers, frozen water bottles. We also had soft ice cream cones, $3.49 each, ouch, but worth it at the time. We got the kids a cotton candy (to share:)), some popcorn. It rained in the evening and we got so soaked, even in our lovely rain ponchos. We stayed for the fireworks, and headed to the tram to leave the park. Almost 14 hours of tromping around....the blisters on the bottom of my feet are worth it. The only thing I would complain about is the lack of princesses in the park. The girls were really wanting to see them. No Mickey, no Donald, only Belle in her Storytime thing.

I did gain three pounds in that vacation week. Part of it was eating during the night while I drove. Plus I had pizza one night. And the ice cream. And Fritos. We had lots of them in the park, and while driving. I don't usually eat chips at all, but. I could have done much worse, I tried to plan and had almonds and fruit, and ate lots of salads. But. Nothing I can do now but sigh, and move on. I got my lazy rear end out the door to the pool this morning, so I am back on track....

And yes, we have a new baby kitten....never a dull moment. Tonight, band concert for Evelyn at school, soccer practice for lots of the other kids...

And now, laundry...

Sunday, May 5, 2013

and more....

And what do I have here?

Suri likes her new kitten! Next week is Charlotte Claire's seventh birthday...and Suri's first. They are celebrating together, and they got a joint present, a new kitten!

Now...after getting back from our trip today...driving all night last night, being exhausted, I was less than thrilled when my boys brought that kitty home. I wasn't prepared. But, we set up a litter box, sent Joseph to the store for kitten chow, and we are ready for kitty.

I am too tired to write much, we drove straight through the night last night, left Florida yesterday morning and arrived here today around noon. One of our van tires went flat on the way home, we had to stop so many times to fill it back up...Paul used Fix-A-Flat from a can, but it didn't work. So when we got home, off to Sears I went to buy just what I always wanted, two new rear tires for the minivan.

Then chicken grilled outside for dinner...oh, I am tired. No nap today just being busy....I shouldn't have stayed up so late, but too late for regrets. Goodnight, and perhaps a less disjointed, more normal post tomorrow morning!


more pictures...

Happy Birthday to Jonathan! With four of his sisters, at Gramma's house.

The balcony at the nice hotel near Disney...

Checking out the cool tub...

Our nice room....

At Magic Kingdom, Camille was fascinated by, "It's A Small World".

Paul with Camille looking at the castle...

Paul and I and Camille...