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

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

summer days, slippin' away....

At the park today....

Evelyn Joy 13, Sonja Kathleen 11, Jonathan Robert 9, Charlotte Claire 7, and Camille Anaya 5, went out and about with me today. We stopped at a park near the river with a nice playground. The sun was shining and the fair-weather clouds floated through the sky. They went on the swings and down the curly slides until Miss Char had to go to the bathroom. She said she "forgot to go before we left". I many times have I said through the years to Go Pee And Brush Your Teeth Before We Leave.....

Anyway. We went to Target and got a few things, like jeans for the two older girls for school, for 70% off. They each got a few shirts, Jonathan got some shorts and a shirt, and the princesses each got a dress for $3.88.

We stopped at a grocery store on the way home to get pizzas that were on special, $3.50 each. I got them four for dinner, as I wouldn't be home....

We were home for maybe 20 minutes when I had to leave for my date with my oldest daughter Emily. We were going to the suburbs, to a few big stores, to buy stuff for our church conference snack bar. Enough cheese for a hundred pizzas, pizza sauce and boxes and soda and water and Snapple and Gatorade and a bit more candy and soap and cloths and and and. The minivan was almost dragging.

Mali went along with us too, and we had way too much fun. We were getting so hungry that when we spied the best bakery ever, in the town where I grew up, the bakery I used to stop into to get donuts and pies for my dad when he was so sick with leukemia and could barely eat....he COULD eat donuts, and he was so thin and weak, so I bought him donuts. Anyway. We decided not to go in the bakery, but to go into the adjoining place....the gelato/ice-cream parlor. I tasted some mint Oreo gelato, and wasn't as impressed as Emily and Mali were...I don't know what flavors they ended up with, but I had a soft-serve vanilla ice cream in a homemade waffle cone. Made right there, that waffle cone alone was wonderful.

Ice cream was my dinner. I was hungry later, had a little bit of popcorn, but have resisted anything else.

It was a wonderful dinner, thoroughly enjoyed.

The younger girls are all tucked in and sleeping, a few kids are watching, "Harry Potter". I am relaxed in my chair, finally. It was a long busy day. I did a few loads of laundry in between being gone, and my packing for the church conference is coming along. My dining room table is brimming with several hundred dollars worth of candy, which hasn't been gotten into so far. (If a package gets open, all bets are off, "But Mom, it was OPEN!")

I am looking very forward to Friday, as Paul will be coming home from Louisiana. It is amazing how much we still like each other.

Tomorrow will be a stay-at-home day, I truly hope. I need to get into the garden and pick some squashes and tomatoes, and do some other things around here. I want to go in the pool and just enjoy summer.....

Monday, July 29, 2013

no time to blog these days....

This morning I was out the door with less than a half a cup of coffee in me, my breakfast gulped down with nary a walk down the road under my considerable sized belt. I had to pick up Abigail and take her to the surgeon to get her staples out. Um, good thing I was sitting down. It wasn't too bad,, not very nice, either. snip snip snip. Just a small part of the incision is gaping a bit, Abigail, so I am taping it up for you, the nice doctor said. ugh. I guess I know what I don't want to be when I grow up.

anyway. Abigail has hurt her shoulder lifting up that heavy leg with the immobilizer on it, so she had to get a prescription filled for that on the way home.

She was settled back in at home and I started in on my day...I washed clothes and started packing for our church summer conference. Then Joseph....his eye was all red and swollen, the clear part mis-shapen, it looked yuck. Great. He called the opthomologist, and had an appointment for in just a few hours. And...he couldn't very well drive there himself. So off I went again.

Dr. said it was an allergy, gave him stuff to put in it. I waited in that waiting room for two hours watching hgtv, which was very entertaining. These two brothers helped people fix up their poor pitiful homes for a relatively small chunk of change, then find a new one. Houses in the five hundred thousand dollar range. They "needed" these huge houses! But it was better than reading People magazine. Anyway. Joseph needed a new sketch pad, so we went to the craft store. He picked on out and was done....but I found some spring candles for 80% off the clearance price, so what if there were only three in the four-pack? $1.40! And so pretty! I got a wreath for five bucks, and some stationary for the girls. And an impulse buy....a Hershey's milk chocolate bar with almonds from the counter near the register. Oh heavenly goodness. Joseph declined, he eats so healthy now, probably fasting or something. I ate a few squares and had him put it in the glove compartment. I told him it is one of my few fatal flaws, my attraction to chocolate and the lack of ability to resist it's allure.

Anyway. Walmart, where we met up with my son Samuel, who was out celebrating his friend's birthday with a visit to the Chinese buffet, then a trip to the store. He decided to ride home with us, so I gave him the rest of the chocolate:) In Walmart we got a cantaloupe and some bananas and peaches and carrots,(have to balance out that chocolate!) the medicine for Joseph, and a few clearanced beach towels. We can simply never have enough towels here. New shiny towels make me happy!

Anyway. Home again. Mirielle and Margaret and Evelyn had prepared dinner for the kids here.

More laundry, kitchen clean up, talked to Paul on the phone, Paul who is in Louisiana for the third time in the last few months. He comes home on Friday, then leaves again to go to Germany for the last two weeks of August, which is No Fair.

So here I sit in my comfy chair for the first time today, at almost eleven at night. I am not exactly super busy these days, but when the kids are all up and around, I can't very well sit here and write.

Tomorrow, I plan to do something fun with the little ones again. Maybe a fun park or beach.

Today I thought the world was ending. Abigail and I had some banking to do. I was helping her out of the car when the manager of the bank stopped us and let us know that the whole internet/system was "down", and there was no use going into the bank. All of the branches, he said, not just this one. hmm. We had no internet, our phone was doing strange things....hmm. But here we are, not the end of the world yet.

Here is a sad thing: My brother had a sheepdog named Oreo. Oreo was our sheepdog Rosie's brother. He slipped out of his collar and ran into the road and was killed by a car on Friday morning. Now, Oreo was far from the model dog. He had some of the same snapping tendencies as his sister, and was stubborn, and a car chaser when loose, which he rarely was because...well, he was a car chaser. But still,he was a handsome boy, it is very sad. I feel so very bad for my brother, who found Oreo beside the road and had to bury him....

Pets...can't live with them, can't live without them. Our sweet little kitty discovered he likes to poop on the stairs instead of in the litter box. He also likes to pee on the rug near the door. If you have never smelled cat pee, consider yourself lucky. Here I try to keep the house so clean and the cat goes and pees there and yuck. I put him in the litter box continuously, he sometimes stays there and pees or poops, but still has these "accidents". He didn't do this at all for the first month we had him! No Fair! So this morning, as I was hurrying to leave to pick up Abigail, I had to clean up a pile on the stairs, then pick up the garbage that a Bad Puppy had gotten into. Plus, they had to be fed and watered, and that Bad Puppy had to be taken out. Oh, and Bad Puppy had peed in the hallway, which she rarely does. rrrr. So much for no more messes now that the kids are all growing up.

I am now the only one up except for Puppy and Kitty, who are chasing each other around the living room. They are too cute, lucky for them.

Friday, July 26, 2013

perfect American family....

Paul and I and our two children went out for ice cream after dinner tonight. Yeah, I know. i had one. A "kiddie-cone". It wasn't very small, either. I wasn't going to get one, the last minute, I thought What The Heck, A Kiddie-Cone Can't Be Too Bad. Oh dear me.

Anyway. Our kids are here and there and everywhere. So it was just Paul and I, and the two little girls. We went to Gramma's house for a visit, the girls sat quietly and watched cartoons while we chatted. They took turns snuggling with me, they seem to enjoy having us all to theirselves. It sure is strange. There were a few Mennonite families at the ice cream place with lots of kids, and I wanted to shout over to them that I also have lots of kids!

The house is quiet. Aaron, my Registered Nurse son, has to work tomorrow at the hospital, so he is in bed. Joseph is in his room, either drawing or playing his guitar. Sam went to his friend's house, Jonathan is with Abigail, Sonja at her sleepover, and the girls all camping. So it is quiet. Don't worry though, Paul and I don't mind too much:)....

sweet summer day....

The little girls are all excited because I am bringing them over to my niece's house(Katie) for a few hours to play with her kids. According to some of my older kids, Camille invited herself over, then Jonathan texted Katie to ask for sure if they could come. In my humble opinion, adults should be more like kids.

Anyway, they are all excited and asking me when we can go. They are playing Mario Cart while they wait for me. The older girls are going on a camping trip to Rhode Island with the girls from church. Sonja is going to a sleepover tonight, Jonathan is staying with Abigail, which is in itself hilarious to me, they are 27 and 9, yet they get along like peas and carrots, as Forrest Gump would say. Anyway, Paul and I won't have too many kids left. Just Joseph and Aaron and Samuel, and the little princesses.

So yesterday I had what I would call a Successful Day. I walked, fast. I worked out. I ate well. Could have been better, but there were no sweets or ice cream. It felt good to be going to bed knowing I had no regrets.

One good day begets another, I hope. I already walked this morning, and ate a healthy breakfast. I do still eat oatmeal in the morning, but not every day, sometimes I have an egg or two. I have cut down on the quantity though. I eat it with blueberries, a teaspoon of crunchy peanutbutter, and some toasted almonds. I tried to scramble eggs with cinnamon and eat those with the blueberries, yuck!

So the girls want to go, I have lots to blab about, but now is not the time, according to them....

Thursday, July 25, 2013

well. summer goes on.

And to answer the question about how I am doing, "weight wise", um. Well. Haven't lost any lately. Why, you might ask? Guess what? I am asking myself the same thing. And I do have some answers.

1. I eat things I shouldn't.

2. It is hard to get back that strict enthusiasm.

3. I like ice cream.

4. Ditto for chocolate.

Now, this whole thing isn't fair because I no longer eat bread. No buns on the burgers, no toast with jam. No bagels. No pasta. No cookies, either. No sugary drinks, no potato chips. A bite of chocolate here, a soft cone there, too much popcorn...and up a few pounds. Work hard, lose it again. I am still down 60 pounds, but I have a long way to go, and I am not going to get there at this rate. I wish I had bottled up that original enthusiasm, I could use a swig of it right about now.

In some ways, it was easier a few years ago. I just ate what I wanted to when I wanted to.

Now I have to think and deny myself and calculate and endure temptation.

I read a funny quote the other day, "It is hard being fat. It is hard losing weight. It is hard keeping the weight off. Pick your hard."

So to sum it up, "weight wise", it could be worse. It could be better. But. The most important thing: I have not given up. No way, no how. I am still walking, still swimming, still exercising. Still fighting the temptations. It is such a learning experience, really, and I am thankful for it. I have learned not to compare myself to anyone else. I can be tempted to be jealous of others' successes. I can find myself thinking NO FAIR when some skinny gal is chowing down on chips, when I myself would not dare to. There is a girl down the road who runs, flies right by me with her cute little shorts on. I want to run. My knees won't let me. Last time I tried, the clicking got really painful. But I CAN walk. Good for that girl who can fly by me. I don't hate her, not too much. This is MY battle, and I have enough to deal with just focusing on myself. So I try not to compare.....

Today, I am probably going to the grocery store, despite the gloriously wonderful cool and sunshine-y day. Tomorrow is supposed to be even nicer, and I have to go before the weekend. Oh, my next week is going to be so busy! Paul is leaving for Louisiana again on Sunday. He will get home on Friday night, our summer conference at church starts the next day. Before that conference begins, I have to pack for it, as we stay in the camper for those four or five days. I have to plan meals and shop. I also have to gather and pack up the dollhouse stuff for one of the children's day activities. Plus, I have to buy several hundred dollars' worth of candy. And probably drinks, and some other things. Yesterday Evelyn and I cleaned up the camper, then took a trip to the library. We all know that means I read a whole book between then and now, but that is another story.....

So today I will take probably Kathryn and Suzanne and Sonja and Jonathan and Charlotte Claire and Camille, and go out shopping. Evelyn and Mirielle are already out and about shopping for the girls' youth camping trip that's this weekend. Busy busy busy.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

midnight I-should-be-sleeping post...

Four of the girls are watching an old Marlon Brando movie. We had a fire on the deck and roasted marshmallows, and an after dinner swim. Dinner: chicken on the grill. Peas. Some of the kids also had rolls and sweet potato fries.

Today, I took Abigail to the dr. for a surgery follow up visit. Dr. changed the dressing on her incision, oh man I was glad I was already seated. Staples. Her knee, sliced open vertically, stapled together. It looked good, he said. No pinkness, no unusual swelling. No sign of infection. But oh it was gruesome. She has to wear that immobilizer for at least the next month, no bending the knee. Anyway. She is doing well. She is young and has lots of energy, is in great shape and can heave herself in and out of the car like nothing. She hobbled around the grocery store with me (she needed groceries, I offered to run in while she waited, but she likes getting out and about).

I enjoyed spending time with her, and helping her. Back to her house to unload her groceries, put my stuff in my car, back kids had so much fun with Mali today. She took the three youngest to the park today. I felt like I had missed out on being with them, but one can't be everywhere at the same time.

Their movie is over, they are talking, I cannot concentrate. I am realizing these days how very blessed I am with all these fun kids. Never a dull moment. It can be exhausting, but it is never lonely:)

Monday, July 22, 2013

oh I don't know....

Jonathan and I went to the dentist bright and early this fine morn. He had a cavity filled so bravely, while I stood there and tried not to listen to the drill, and tried not to think about being ne-t in the chair. I had a broken molar, a piece broke off while I was flossing my teeth, which I e-plained to the dentist as being NO FAIR. It isn't as if I was chomping on a lollipop for goodness sake.

Anyway, my dentist worked his magic and fi-ed up that tooth with the very minimal of pain. I had to practice some of those old Lamaze breathing techniques, ha. Novocaine is a beautiful thing. And that numb-y stuff he q-tips on first, great invention.

Jon and I proceeded to go to the grocery store for a watermelon, some yogurt, bread, burger, milk, and some gifts for Jon's friend Phinneas, he was headed to his birthday party. Phin is turning 11, so a grocery store is a good place for gifts. Two pounds of assorted bulk candy like caramels and taffy and Lemon-heads, war-heads, bubble gum. A marked-down baseball bat and ball, two blue Powerades, and a package of Elf cookies.

Home to drop off the groceries, then to drop Jonathan off at the party. Then to my brother's house to pick up his #11 child, Danielle, to come spend the day with Miss Char and Miss Camille. Home...aaah. My tooth is aching now, and I want a nap. I haven't done too much today, because I spent too much time online looking for a hotel near Lake George. See, the kids got these free tickets to the Si- Flags park there, 6 of them. They e-pire soon, and I really want to take them. Problem is, Paul keeps having to go to Louisiana for work, and if I want to take them ne-t week, I am on my own. The girls are going on a church camping trip over the weekend, then our church conference is the following weekend, our family vacation the week after that. So that leaves ne-t week from like Monday to wednesday (remember, since the great Tonka Crane accident of last week, when Jon dropped his heavy metal truck on my keyboard, I have no capital "w", no letter between z and c, so I just write a dash instead, or I could spell things phonetically, like "eccspire"....) Anyway. Do I want to camp with 6 kids by myself in tents, right after some of the girl get home from camping and right before we go to our church camping, and our family camping? Or do I want to stay in a motel and sneak in a few e-tra kids, seeing that I can't get two rooms and split up the kids, they are all too young. Do I drag Mirielle along, Mirielle who hates theme parks? The motel thing sounds like the best option, but is it smart to spend 75 dollars a night for two nights to redeem 6 free park tickets? hmm. I just don't know.

And believe me, the $75 rooms are...well, they are questionable. The nicer hotels in a place like Lake George are way too pricey.

So I have to think about it.

Yesterday at my niece's wedding celebration, I was with all of my siblings. It was glaringly obvious to me that Billy was gone, being with my four remaining brothers, and my sister. My parent's absence was also felt. Death is so permanent! Those three left such huge holes in my life, in my heart! My brother Bob has ten kids, who are all growing up and getting married and having kids...he is e-pecting grandchildren #12 and #13. My mother would absolutely love those kids! And, I can look at them and think of all the comments my brother Billy would have had about them. Oh, he had a way of pegging things.

Life goes on and things change more and more, and my parents and brother Billy stay gone. I still want to call my mom and tell her things.

Kathryn and Suzanne and their cousin Olivia (Danielle's big sister) took the girl in the pool, gave them a snack, and are watching, "Harry Potter" with them. I have laundry to do, a house to tidy up.

Tomorrow I have to take Abigail to the dr. for a dressing change and a post-surgical check. No shopping for us afterward:)

She is recovering well though. Sonja K. and her cousin Grace are there helping her today. Samuel spent yesterday there. Abigail has no lack of helpers to keep her company and prepare her food! She deserves to be taken care of though, she is such a nice girl, a big sister with a heart of gold. Jonathan absolutely adores her. He is planning to practically move in there to help her, and he is only nine. Seriously though, it is so evident with my older kids that when one gives, one receives. God gives back way more than one gives, too. There is so much blessing in living life for others, I need to remember that when I am feeling so sorry for poor me, who never seems to get a minute:)

And I shall sign off.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

sweet summertime....

I haven't been taking many pictures, e-cept on my new phone, which I haven't figured how to transfer to here yet:)
Never mind. I figured it out. This is me on my walk this fine morning. My old phone was not working well. It would drop calls, make calls when I didn't dial, mute calls when the mute button wasn't on. I think they are just timed to self-destruct right before one is due for an upgrade. I wanted an iphone 5 anyway, so it wasn't a huge hardship to have that old phone die. I ended up with a Samsung Gala-y iii. Aaron has the 4, and really likes it. Having the latest in technology isn't that important to me, so I opted for the older model...because it was fifty bucks instead of $200. Then I found out they make a new model that is waterproof! Oh, I would have shelled out the money for that! Underwater photos, dropping it in water...worth the money for that!

Anyway. Summertime is nice. Yesterday our power went out and I was thankful we had a pool to wash up in, I mean swim in. Paul and I, Joseph and Aaron, worked at the chicken stand at the baseball stadium. Oh we were hot in there. Sam was here babysitting the four youngest, with no power, so we were thankful when he let us know it was back on. Poor Abigail was there at her house with Kathryn and Suzanne there to help her...and no power, no movies, no fans to cool her down.

Today...a wedding, or rather a renewal of vows. New vows. My niece and her husband, who is in the Navy. They married in South Carolina with no friends or family, so today we celebrate that wedding with them. Mirielle and Paul are going to help with the food, they actually like being in the kitchen:) The heatwave has broken, today is sunny and in the seventies, just perfect.

I hate getting old. My creaky knees, mostly. I walked this morning, and I wanted to run. But it hurts my knee bad enough just to walk.

This chair is too comfy, there are things to do today. Paul has gone and visited his mother AND stopped at the store, is home already, and I am still in my chair. oops. He is such a responsible and busy guy, makes me feel slothful:)

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


It started small. I ignored it. You would think I would have learned by now, not to ignore the headache. By the time I took the first two ibuprofen, it was a pounder. I took the second two because I was almost going to throw up. It is now a duller roar, but it is still there. I am sitting in my comfy chair in the air conditioned living room, while the four youngest settle in to sleep. Their rooms are too hot for sleeping on this fine muggy night. I dread going into my furnace of a room, so I am procrastinating a little bit. Besides, I have to talk to some of my girls who are still out at a going-away gathering for my niece, who is going to Australia for a year. My computer has some new issues, thanks to me setting it down on the floor in front of my chair when Paul called me from Louisiana this evening. Apparently, Jonathan somehow dropped his heavy metal Tonka crane on it. Now the key between the "z" and the "c" doesn't work. Also, the enter key seems broken. Random. So that means no new paragraphs for me. The space bar takes too long. rrr. Sonja and Jonathan...they keep pecking at each other. Snipping. I tell them to Stop It, they blame the other one. My head is pounding, I threatened to send them to their rooms if they say another word, but all they seem to hear is that they really need to get in the last snip. And I thought I waited long enough to sit and rela....remember, that key is broken so I can't finish my favorite word. Tomorrow I am hoping to go in the new pool for the first time. Aaron assembled the new ladder today, and the water finally got high enough to run the filter. The water is still not sparkling clean, but I have put chlorine in, and with the filter running, it should clean up pretty quickly. Ugh, it is the middle of the summer already! But I shall not complain. I don't remember if I wrote about this yesterday, but there was a man at the state park who made me happy. He was about 30 years old, and in a wheelchair. The chair was customized in a home-made sort of way, with colorful armpads, which suggested it was a permanent place for this man to reside. Not just a temporary injury. So when he wheeled up with his family members, I felt sorry for him. It was a broiling hot day, and he wasn't going in that water. He was just watching. So I felt bad for him. Then I realized he was looking straight at me....when I turned his way, I was greeted with a huge genuine smile, so I smiled back. He asked if he was encroaching on our picnic spot, and I assured him he was fine. Then one of the teenagers with him ran up from the water with an overflowing cup, and dumped it right over his head. He smiled at that boy, and said, "Thank you so much, that feel great!" He was a happy man. A thankful man. There is so much to be thankful for....he really put me to shame, me who was so hot and bothered. well, my "w" works, but not capitalized. hmm. My computer is dying! Again! This is the one that didn't start up for a while but does again. It is the one that needs a new battery so badly that if it is jarred the least little bit when plugged in, it will shut down. But it is better than trying to share Paul's laptop with the teenagers:) Kitty kitten is trying to attack my hands as I type. Suri is sleeping with Camille on the floor. She loves living room sleepovers! She just can't decide who to sleep with! So she changes spots every little while.... Sometimes I feel like I have no control over my life. Like I just do what needs to be done for everyone, and if there is time when I am through with everyone else, I maybe do something I want to do. Driving here and there and everywhere, picking up Evelyn's flute from the music store, stopping at the store for more milk and fruit, taking kids to appointments and getting oil changes and running errands. Then fitting in everything else when I am home. phew. But I love summer....

going going going gone...

Since I am nice, I am bringing Kathryn 15, Evelyn 13, Suzanne 12, and Sonja 11, along with me today. We are taking Ashley to the airport a few hours south of here, so she can fly back home to Washington. We are leaving a little bit early so we can have some fun....

It is hot hot hot here in central New York state. 95+ today. Humid. I walked down the hilly road this fine morning, and sweat poured from my forehead into my eyes, glistened on my arms, soaked my shirt. I felt like I was really working out, not just taking a brisk walk.

The kids got to sleep in the living room last night, the four youngest. Their rooms are just so hot, and the living room is air conditioned. They are a bit tired this morn, but they are slowly turning more nocturnal, sleeping in later in the morning. Summer is working it's magic!

I have lots more to say but no time to say it, as I need to go take a shower and get out the door with my girls....

Monday, July 15, 2013

words cannot describe....

the beautiful weather we are having here in New York state. Sunshine, brilliant cloudless as "H", as some of my older kids would say, meaning Heck, of course. 90 degrees.

Yesterday was spent at the beach. I had to drive Paul to the airport at the foggy hour of 4-ish a.m., but I did go home and go back to bed. Although Camille did not realize how little I had slept when she burst into my room saying how she needed Mama, and wanted to take a nap with me in my bed. Anyway, Paul is in Louisiana for the week.

And the rest of us went to the beach. Well, not ALL of us. Just Benjamin and Ashley, Abigail, Samuel, Margaret, Kathryn, Evelyn, Suzanne, Sonja, Jonathan, Charlotte Claire, and Camille. And me. Joseph and Aaron and Mirielle had to work at the baseball game, wah, and Emily and Mali had to work.

anyway. The beach: gorgeous. Sandy beach, little breeze, sunshine. Benjamin made the fire in the grill, roasted the hot dogs and coneys, helped serve them, helped clean up and load up the vehicles when it was time to go home. He taught Kathryn to play catch with the football, and helped the little ones build a sand castle. He took them swimming, and he helped them roast their marshmallows. It was his last day with us, and we were painfully aware of it.

He left in the wee hours of the morning.

I cried when I hugged him goodbye.

Ashley is still in town. She leaves on Wednesday from an airport an hour and a half south of here, so I will be driving her.

Today, I let the kids go in the pool, which is finally all set up. The water hasn't gotten deep enough to run the filter yet, so it isn't exactly sparkling. The ladder is supposed to come in the mail tomorrow, so I can't get in yet. They can make it over the side and back with just a boost, but me? nah. I will wait for the new ladder.

Today I also had to go bye-bye. Abigail had to fast for a pre-op appointment which was at two in the afternoon. She felt pretty awful not eating all day, so I drove her. I also got to talk with the surgeon with her. She is having an operation on her knee on Friday. She dislocated it a few years back, and it wasn't put back into place properly, it healed wrong, and it causes much pain for her. She will have a ligament tightened, some arthritis scraped, and some fine-tuning done. This doctor who is doing it said, "this operation is more of an art than a science." I love him.

Anyway. Guess what I am doing Friday? mmm-hmm. Taking Abigail for her surgery.

Anyway. Summer is lovely. I wish I didn't have so many things to do and places to today...the appointments, Walmart for her prescriptions and new hair clippers and some milk and a birthday present for my niece.

anyway. I love summer. Love having the kids around, love the lack of structure, love the spontaneity. Emily came over to get Sonja, as she is having a group of ten and eleven year olds from church spend the night at her house....but she grabbed Kathryn and Margaret first and took them to town, to get donuts. Just because.

Some of the girls are dancing on the deck. Sam and Jonathan are playing some shooting video game. Mirielle has a good book. Aaron and Joseph just got back from the pool and working out. Suri is conked out on the couch. Yes, I love summer.

Random thought for the day: today while I watched the kids in the pool, I had a vision of standing before God. Judgement Day. It was like when you look forward forever for something to finally come to pass, like Christmas day when you are little, and when it finally comes, you can't believe it is really here, and how fast it seemed to come...and you marvel at what it turns out like. In this vision of mine, I was standing there and my life passed before my eyes...I saw myself saying Just A Minute to my kids, finishing reading a news account, getting the kitchen in order, all the while thinking, "I did not know life was going to really go by so fast." It was really really weird. Our days really are numbered, although we don't live like we know that. I want to live like I know that. I want to be good, to forgive quickly, pay attention to the kids. Listen more, talk less. Give and give and give more, wanting nothing in return.

We went out for some Chinese take-out after her appointments.

Friday, July 12, 2013

our summer list....

One of the things on our list was, "Home Improvement Day." ha, guess who wrote that one? Well, today is not exactly that, but it is Cleaning Up Day. See, yesterday five of the kids went to an amusement park. Only one of those kids has a paying job. So guess where my birthday money went? Okay, I do enjoy seeing my kids happy, and like to bless them. But they do have to pay me back somehow, so they are helping me today.

Every day we sweep and clean up and we keep the dishes done, ect. But every once in a while, more has to be done. Stairs vacuumed, cobwebs, dust, smudges, clutter piles....and of course there is the ever-present laundry, and the daily bathroom cleaning.

We are having a few people over tomorrow so Ben can see them before he goes back to Washington. A few, I think we invited 30-ish. I have the chicken marinating, we are making pasta salad and brownies, and will serve watermelon and baked beans. Jonathan washed out the coolers to put the drinks in. We are sorting through coats on hooks that no one wears, and putting away boots that didn't get packed up yet, weeding things out and cleaning up. The things that I like done, but don't get to, until company is coming. The stack of papers on top of the microwave. The things on top of the refrigerator. And, I am a keeper of things. I like my things. I like the Sit-N-Spins, the dollhouse stuff, the doll strollers....I like the ride-ons for when kids come over, I like the baby swing on the swing set. Right now, the little girls have SO much dollhouse stuff out....

anyway, today we are cleaning up. Sweeping the deck and setting up chairs and putting together my new firepit, which I am very excited about.

We bought some lights to put on the deck, and some citronella candles.

I can't wait to get through the mundane details of cleaning up and get to the decorating and fun part.

I have my work cut out for me, to keep the atmosphere nice here as much as is in my power. Because cleaning up and getting kids to do things when it is a nice day and they'd rather not, is somewhat challenging sometimes.

This fine morning, I woke up to one lamp on the floor with a shattered bulb, and two small piles of poopies on the living room floor. Suri looked very innocent, so I am guessing it was Little Kitty. Why on earth would a kitten do that when he has a litter box, recently cleaned out, ten feet down the hall? rrr. He also pooped near the stairs. I don't believe in getting rid of animals when they do bad things, but rrrr. Good thing he is so very cute and sweet.

So the clean-up has started, and here sits Mom, on her computer....better get up and get busy again before they lose steam!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

it was fun!

Who can ask for anything more than a birthday celebration with ALL 16 KIDS THERE??!

Emily sure can throw a party. She grilled chicken and red, green, and yellow peppers....served with black olives and tomatoes and guacomole and lettuce from her garden. On fajitas. Mirielle made a cake, served it with whipped cream, strawberries and red rasberries.

The girls pitched in and bought me a portable fire pit, for the deck, yay, hope we don't burn it down. Benjamin and Ashley got me these new Reese's Peanut Butter Cup candy bars...un-real, that's how good they are. I couldn't have invented anything better myself. Since I had already had cake...I decided to crack one open and pass it around so we could critique it. We loved it, unanimously.

Summer is still fun.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

I am not really 48 years old today....

It cannot be true. I remember like it was yesterday, figuring out with my friend Diane, how old we would be when it turned the year 2000. 35 years old! We laughed our heads off, impossible! We would NEVER be THAT old.

They say life goes by too fast. That with young children, the days are long but the years are short. Turns out that "They" are right.

So since I am old, getting over that hill, I feel entitled to write down some random memories...

When I was 11 years old, it was our country's bicentennial...200th birthday. 1976. Our family had a camp up on Lake Ontario, my father worked during the week and visited on weekends and on his vacations. So he picked out and brought up my birthday presents. A straw hat with a red-white-and-blue band, and a bag of red and white candies. My brother Joey made the cake. He put it on a board covered with foil, and iced it with frosting made with green jello. It was all he could find, apparently. I loved it. They thought of me, they remembered my birthday.

Casey and I used to climb this big tree and watch for our daddy's car to turn that corner and drive down the camp road. We didn't have a phone in the camp. When we saw him coming we would scramble down the tree, catch up with that Pinto station wagon, and jog along side it, all excited to see Daddy and see what he had brought from the city.

Now, before you think we were perhaps a bit well-off because we had a camp, think again. It was a mobile home, a trailer, on a very nice lot, right down the dirt road from a wonderful sandy beach. Not quite riches, but hey, we loved it. We had a big grassy yard with a fireplace out back, a basketball hoop set up, a sand pit to play in or jump over....and my parents kept it very nice, all freshly painted each year. They had saved up all those years of having children, and were able to pay for most of it out of savings.

Anyway, we loved when my Dad got there. Then he got out of the car. I grew up thinking it was normal for Daddies to be snappy and grumpy. He was responsible and took good care of us. He never hit us. But when he was stressed, he yelled. He crabbed and was miserable, and we never dared talk back. We figured out that he always was sorry when he yelled too much, because he would randomly give us a dollar or something. Of course he never actually said he was sorry. He wasn't always grumpy. We would sit around our camp fires at night, and he would tell us stories about the Frogman, or teach us all about the universe and all the galaxies and what infinity meant.

We had no television at camp. Only a radio and a stereo...when I hear the Carpenter's or Paul Simon, I remember those days...those days we didn't even know what day it was, unless it was Friday, and we knew Daddy was coming up. My older siblings who worked also came up on weekends, sometimes bringing friends with them. We had days of catching tadpoles...once we filled a huge bucket and lugged it all the way up the road to camp, and my mother told us to bring them right back down to that creek and leave them there where they were supposed to be. Immediately if not sooner, she would say.

Once we had a fish named Charlie. We caught him in the creek. He jumped out of the Cool-Whip bowl while we were off swimming. So we buried him under the trailer and painted a nice stone with his name on it. We made ourselves cry about Charlie.

We also had a wild bunny. It was injured, so we caught it easily and put it in a cardboard box with lots of soft grass and a little pillowcase to sleep on. My mother was SUPPOSED to be watching it while we played, but she watched it jump right out of that box and hop away. She said it would be happier in the woods. We were pretty mad at her.

Sometimes my mother gave us ten or fifteen cents to buy her a newspaper down the beach at the state park. I remember looking for flat stones as we walked there, flat stones that would sound like coins when we put them in the paper box and used the real money for candy.

When you're a kid, you think you will always be a kid.

Then you grow up and realize what a small portion of your life you spent in that blissful state of being taken care of and having such grand ideas.

Now I am getting older, and I am trying not to forget what it is like to be a kid. Now 9 of my kids are old enough to drive. Only three left in elementary school. They grow up too fast. Life goes by too fast.

This afternoon, we are going to Emily's house to have a little birthday celebration. I seriously hope no one wastes their money buying me anything...because I have all I ever wanted and more when all the kids are there at the same time. Seriously.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

summer fun

It's hard for me to write when there is so much going on here. I try to get up early in the morning, but ha. This morning I slept until....ten. Yup. See, 12 of us went to the drive-in last night. We didn't get to bed until 2 am. It was the first time to the drive-in for Jon, Charlotte Claire, and Camille. We say Monster's University and Despicable Me 2.

Our schedule is lazy these days, although the days are still full. Yesterday I went to three grocery stores with five kids.
We also went to the library to get the next Little House book and a stack of books for Evelyn. I also got a few in case there is a rainy day and I feel like I can sneak away for a bit....

Our kitties and puppy have fleas. I use flea treatment, but it isn't working. I give little kitty flea baths and get all the fleas off, and voila, in a few days they are back. The big old kitty, who is super nice, is outside most of the time and probably keeps bringing them in. Suri has them too. We don't have carpet out here, and I keep washing the couch covers and vacuuming, but ugh, it is a chore! Today I am going to the pet store for some premium flea stuff, and a flea comb to comb kitty. As if I didn't have enough to do, right?

Tomorrow is my birthday, and we are all invited over to Emily's new house for dinner. Jonathan, Char, and Camille are invited to stay for the night.

And now I have things to do...heading to Walmart to print pictures, pet store, getting girls ready for an outing with Mali....

having benjamin here....

Benjamin and Ashley...

Margaret, Jon, Ben...

Some of the girls before the picture taking session...

Emily Anne and Charlotte Claire.

Abigail Marie...

We went out for ice cream after pictures...

Saturday, July 6, 2013

the new pool and hot summer days....

Camille played in the extra pool sand...

She lost her first tooth...

Paul worked so hard to get this pool set up. He let the girls play in it while the hose started to fill it. They ran and slid and, "rolled in the puddles", as Camille said. It is all up now, we just have to install the filter and put on the ladder.

Phew. It was not easy, and the weather didn't co-operate at all. Today was so very hot and sticky to be outside working. When we were done with the pool, I took a walk down the road....and almost melted right into the hot pavement. I enjoyed it anyway because it was quiet and there were dragonflies and it cleared my mind.

We had a full house this evening. All the kids were here except for Joseph, Aaron, and Samuel, who were finishing up the tiling job they have been working on. Mirielle was nice, there were seven guys working, so she grilled burgers and made pasta salad, and drove it over to near the big city where they were working so they could have a nice dinner. They just got home a little while ago, and now Benjamin and Ashley are back at Emily's house.

Tomorrow though, we have big plans: family picture time again! Benjamin is going fishing in the morning with one of his old friends from church, and Mali is working all afternoon and evening, so we have to work it out in the middle of the day.

Our dinner tonight was so good. Burgers on the grill. I don't like the frozen patties, I much prefer to use freshly ground meat. We sliced tomatoes and pickles and red onions, and had a watermelon, and pasta salad. I stuck with the burger and no bun, no pasta salad, but I did have popcorn this evening while the older kids played their own version of, "Scattergories", in which they make up the subject.

And it has been a long day. A good day. I am tired enough for bed. Oh, Simone: I had my iron level checked when I gave blood last week, it was good, as was my blood pressure (112/72). I am feeling lots better now, who knows what was wrong. I am getting into those middle ages...the dreaded menopause is around the corner. Oh wait, are we allowed to talk about that?:) Guess what? I am going to. If men went through it you can bet we would hear about it. There's not much to tell yet, just a bit of irregularity, some mood normal only a bit worse. I must be really tired to be sitting here writing about this...I will hate myself when I read this tomorrow and realize that I actually posted it....

Friday, July 5, 2013

and my army son is home on leave!!!

Benjamin and his wife Ashley...they looked pretty good for traveling all day! Oh, they looked wonderful to me!! That's Jonathan giving them antlers, by the way. Sonja and Jon went with me, and yes, I threatened to drop them off and pick them back up on the way home because of their extreme silliness. Oh my goodness can those two fool around.

Happy me on the long drive to the airport....

And now I must be off...I have to drive the truck up to the construction place to get more pool sand....

Thursday, July 4, 2013

happy 4th of july!

Sometimes I am happy. Things go well, life is good, I am happy. Other times it doesn't come so naturally. I find myself disappointed, frustrated, or just plain sick and tired of stuff. But when I realize my thoughts are going the wrong way, I say, "Okay, God, what do you want to show me?" It is so easy to tell other people to just be thankful for what they have, and to take all things from God's hand, and learn to be patient. But MY trials are SO much more difficult! ha.

Anyway, this backyard pool - we didn't get enough sand. The sand is banked only around about half of it. And guess what? One cannot go get more sand on the 4th of July. It is a holiday. So. The pool sits there, and we can't work on it.

My girls are back from camping. They brought in their leftover food and their dishes and their stuff...and I was trying to clean up the house. It feels like I am paddling against the current here.

The sun is out again after a nice rain shower, and it is like a sauna. Temperatures in the high 80's, very humid. We should put our a.c. units in the kitchen and living room windows, poor pregnant Ashley is going to suffocate in here.

Emily, Abigail, and Margaret went to work at the baseball stadium carnival today. Paul and I will be working at the game tomorrow, which is one of the things that makes me sad. Ben is coming in at almost midnight tonight, then I will be gone tomorrow night. So we are planning a cook-out Saturday, but Mali has to work. She doesn't work tomorrow, but Emily does. Getting us all together on the same day is challenging....

Oh the details of life. Has there ever been anyone on earth who has had every single thing line up perfectly all the time? Nope. That's why I am extremely thankful that I know that God causes all things to work for the good for those who love Him. I can't always change my circumstances, but I can always change my attitude:)

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

chickpea cookies? uh-huh...

Now, I was skeptical. But I saw a picture of one, all oozing with melted chocolate, and thought What The Heck. So, I tried them. I tweaked the recipe the second time I made them, and believe me, they are yum. Proof they are yum: I wanted to take a picture of them, and the container is full of crumbs. I think the boys ate them last night, had no idea what they were made of probably.

Anyway, here is the recipe:

One can of chickpeas, like 15 ounces...(1 and 1/4 cup), rinsed, drained, patted dry with paper towels.
These are supposed to be pureed in a food processor. I used the blender, then a potato masher. It worked.

A heaping half cup of peanut butter. Original recipe says natural only, I used Crunchy Skippy. And I heaped.
I mashed this with chickpea paste with a fork.

I then added a few tablespoons of baking cocoa:)

Add 1 teaspoon of salt.

Add 1 teaspoon baking powder.
Mix it in.

Add 2 teaspoons of olive oil

Add 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract.

I added a whole bag of milk chocolate chips this time, but the recipe calls for dark chocolate.

I also added about a half cup of toasted slivered almonds.

Roll them into little balls, pat to flatten a little.

Bake in 350 degree oven for like 15+ minutes. They really need to bake through the middle. Brown them up.

You won't be able to taste the chickpeas in them. They aren't overly sweet, but if you like peanut butter as much as I do, you will love them. I really like using crunchy so there a little peanuts in them, texture means a lot in a cookie.

I added up the calories from the ingredients and divided by the number of cookies (50), and came up with aprox. 60 calories per cookie, and I made them really small. So they aren't necessarily lo cal, but they are certainly healthier than traditional chocolate chip cookies.

I got up and went to the pool this morning. It wasn't a great swim, but it was better than Monday. Today is going to be busy, we still haven't gotten the sand for the pool and Ben and Ashley are coming home tomorrow night! The boys are all working, Kathryn and Evelyn and Suze are camping with Emily, so it will be Mirielle and I, Margaret, and the three youngest....500 pounds of sand isn't too many wheelbarrows full, is it?

Tomorrow I will be working a double-header at the baseball stadium, so far I don't know who will be watching the younger kids. I will go from the game to a small city about an hour and a half south of here to pick Ben and Ashley up from the airport.

It makes me tired just thinking about it, but I can't wait to see them. Last night I dreamed I was in Kmart, that I had stopped there on the way to the airport, and Ben had tricked me and arrived early...he was there in Kmart, and he had no shirt on. I ran and hugged him, and asked him where his shirt was...he said he left it back at the FOB. okay, didn't make any sense, but it was SO good to see him.

My princesses were up when I got up at 6:30. Now, this is too early. Especially because Camille was still up at 10:15 last night, she came in to give me One More Hug, Mama. So. Let's just say they are butting heads with each other. They both just have to have this little tray with a pitcher on it, a Barbie accessory. They both wanted the poor kitten earlier, I had to yell at Camille to seriously not pull it by it's tail from Char. She said she wasn't going to, but I thought she was....oh dear. We all need a nap:)

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

and the truth is....

I feel lousy. No, I am not pregnant:(. Yesterday was just a really weird day. I went to the pool in the morning, and had a challenging swim. I just couldn't seem to do more than a lap without feeling tired and out of breath. I only lasted 20 minutes, then came home and went back to bed, which I must say, was wonderful.

I woke up feeling still not right, then took the kids to the museum anyway. I felt off all day, like I was just exhausted. Now, I had just given blood back on Thursday, and my blood pressure was fine, at 112/72, and my pulse was 60. So I doubted I was having a heart attack, although to be honest, it crossed my mind a few times to scurry up to the hospital to make sure. I just felt like the whole world was bearing down on me, and I needed to sit down every chance I could....almost like I used to feel all the time, before I lost some weight.

Anyway, I woke up at 3:30 this morning with one of the worst migraines I have ever had. I was in agony. Four ibuprofen and lots of water, and I finally dozed off, right as I had to get up to bring Samuel to work, 6:30 am. ugh. I did NOT bring my gym bag and bathing suit. No sir, I brought that boy to work, came back home, and slipped back into bed. I really needed it.

I woke up to that awful day-after-a-migraine feeling. Worn out and blah, with a residual headache that just screamed, "Do Not Exercise!" So, I am taking the day off. Not from everything of course, I still get to be Mommy, and I still did three loads of laundry and washed the counters and swept the floors. I still helped Kathryn, Evelyn, Suzanne, and Emily get their stuff together for their camping trip, although Evelyn wins the prize for the best packer.

They drove away in our minivan to the Adirondacks, for a few days. Then Mirielle took off in Emily's car to take Margaret and Sonja out and about. Joseph and Aaron are working on that tiling job, so that leaves me here with....Jonathan, Charlotte Claire, and Camille. We are rattling around like peas in a pod. The girls have been playing outside in their playhouses with dolls, Jon has been helping me clean up, and trying to talk me into upgrading my cellphone to something like an iPhone5. I talked to my sister on the phone for way too long, and now I am sitting here in my comfy chair again. I am really leaning towards a nap. I don't know for sure what's wrong with me, but I am hoping it is just a combination of things...I am dizzy, but my ears always have lots of pressure. I don't know. I would rather not spend a few thousand dollars to find out I am just fine, so for now I will just hang out and take it easy and not worry too much. I am feeling better than I was yesterday.

Benjamin and Ashley are coming home the day after tomorrow!!!! I had so many things I wanted to do around here before they got here...oh well.

I still love summer!

Monday, July 1, 2013

a rainy day at the children's museum

Evelyn 13, Suzanne 12, Sonja 11, Jonathan 9, Charlotte Claire 7, and Miss Camille 5.

Camille and Sonja...

The Princess Camille...

This one's from the other day....Suri is the nicest puppy-do

Kitty on a pile of stuffed animals...

The hilarious thing about this is: Abigail does not like cats. She "tolerates" them. But Kitty see someone sitting down, and he starts purring and hones in on them. He climbed into Abigail's lap, and she didn't mind.

Suri with her pretty pink pearls...

Evelyn loves her Suri pup.

So this rainy day was spent wisely. The Children's museum is always fun. Today I drove the minivan with the six youngest kids. We took the adventurous way home, and found a Chinese buffet, which was NOT my vote, but I gave in. Yuck. It was not very good. I skipped the ice cream and the yummy looking donuts, all fried up and sugared. I had a tiny taste of Evelyn's. I had black pepper chicken and some broccoli, but I still feel blah, too much fat, too much grease.

On to the dollar store, which is always fun with lots of kids. The little girls wanted fake flowers. Then they wanted plastic swords. Then Camille found a bag of like a thousand little shiny stones and trinkets, to build fairy houses with. Charlotte Claire didn't know what to get, and ended up with a plastic baton with streamers. The other girls found sunglasses and some sour candies. I got them some camping snacks for their trip with Emily. She is taking Kathryn, Evelyn, and Suzanne, tomorrow through Thursday.

Anyway, taking all those silly kids into the dollar store is always a treat. They tried on hats and they pretend asked for things like giant hats and old lady sandals and 2009 beach t-shirts.

We are home now and tired. Evelyn is busy packing for the camping trip, and I should get out of my comfy chair and help her. The kids are happily tired....we had a really good day.