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, December 30, 2014


It's 19 degrees out. That's -7 celsius. That's cold. There is snow on the ground today, too. Snow that I romped in today with the dogs, in my sneakers after my walk. I leashed Suri and took her along. She has some learning to do. She likes to pull me all over and sniff everything everywhere. I want her to walk calmly by my side, leash slack. I tell her that and she just looks at me and wags, while she lunges to smell invisible things.

Tomorrow, Paul and I are going to do something fun with the three youngest kids, Jonathan, Charlotte Claire, and Camille. The older ones are all busy, so we thought we would plan some stuff...and I am stumped. Bowling? A movie? We hardly ever go to the movies, and the movie about Alexander's terrible day is playing at the cheap theater, only $2 a person. But I would rather DO something. The weather is conducive for sledding and skating, but Mama here doesn't do those things, bad knees, ect. I wish I could cross country ski or go snow shoeing. Shopping/the mall is OUT. Not fun. blah. We are planning to go to the grocery store and get some...shh, don't tell the older kids, some steak. I don't know how it is in your little part of the world, but around here, beef prices have gone through the roof. I can't buy a ten pound roast for $4.49 a pound. I just can't do it. Emily and I looked at one, for Christmas, that was like fifty bucks, and we simply decided to buy chicken instead. Anyway, the small store in town has New York strip steaks for $5.98 a pound. For just the five of us, we could do it. We want to make a nice New Year's eve meal. A few months ago I was talking to my younger brother about beef prices, and he said they hadn't had steak in forever....and he only has two kids. Honestly, if I only had to buy a pound or two, it wouldn't be a problem.

Anyway. Tomorrow will be fun. The kids have been staying up too late and sleeping in. One of my teenagers slept in until 1:30 the other day. It's wonderful. But we got the littler ones tucked in earlier tonight, because they will be up late tomorrow.

I talked to my younger brother on the phone today. I have one older sister, four older brothers, and one younger brother. Well, HAD. My brother Billy has passed away. My younger brother, Casey, is a good guy. He was my best buddy, growing up. I never ever see him anymore, and he lives only about an hour away. He married a lovely girl, but unfortunately, she did not care for his family, and he stopped coming to Christmas celebrations, then all other gatherings...he came with just his kids here and there, but not with her. It's sad, really, but that's how it is, I guess. I still talk to him a few times a month, sometimes more.

I took a little trip to the small city today, with one of my daughters. We went to the department of motor vehicles, then to the grocery store quick. ha, quick. Paul is into trying to ferment vegetables to promote good gut health. He wanted me to pick up some sea salt, vinegar, to the grocery store I went. I found clearanced Christmas candy, fifty cents a pound. I bought some to put away for a church feast in a few weeks. I also bought myself a little present, a cookie press! It was regularly $24, marked down to $12. It rang up only $6! I can't wait to try it, but I don't want to bake anymore cookies. Jon made oatmeal chocolate chip cookies last night, all by himself. They turned out strange, all flat and crispy...but the taste, and the consistency....oh yum. It's like the oats just caramelized with the brown sugar, chewy and no, I don't want any more cookies in the house.

Isn't even the word, "caramel" lovely? Or am I crazy?

Chocolate, now that's another beautiful word. Creamy. Buttery. Flaky. Tender. Fudgy.

Here's the thing. Bread is bad for you. Why oh why does it taste so good? Not regular sliced sandwich bread, I mean the bakery bread, Italian or French bread, or sourdough...when I enter a store, what do you think I smell? Yeah, the bread baking. If I pick up a loaf, and it's still warm, I put it in the cart. And when I slice it up at home, I eat the end piece, just a small little piece, with butter. And I think it's like a little piece of heaven.

Anyway. Time to go to bed. Tomorrow is the last day of 2014, and I have so many resolutions I don't know where to begin. Paul ordered me a new screen for my Chromebook tonight, I don't know when it will come. I can't wait. I am using his old hp, which works, but it is so huge and clunky and loud and I keep hitting the wrong keys, and not pressing hard enough and ending up with words with missing letters....and I can't put pictures on my blog...wah. Anyway...tomrorow I will share some of my resolutions, and some time next week, I hope, I will be able to post pictures again. As for now, goodnight.

Monday, December 29, 2014

another quiet day here in crazy town....

I got up and walked this morning! It wasn't easy, it was cold out there! The snow was coming down sideways in the cold wind. There isn't any snow on the ground, but when it's wintery, I want to stay in the house. But once I am walking, I am always glad I went. It clears my mind. I can think about things. It's like meditation, and a little bit of exercise at the same time.

Home again, ahh, omelet with tomatoes and green peppers...and a trip to the library with Paul, Kathryn, Evelyn, Suzanne, Sonja, and Camille. Then a quick stop at the store for some important things, plus five advent calendars with chocolate in them, for twenty cents each.

Home...we had meatballs and hot sausage, pasta (not for me!, I had green beans instead). Jonathan made oatmeal chocolate cookies all by himself from a book we got from the library. I don't know what he did, hey came out strange, bu oh so good. I had a few tastes.

I read a whole library book this evening. I almost hate having a good book, I just read the whole thing.

We have some fun plans for New Years! Paul and I will be with only the little kids for New Year's eve, so we are planning on doing something fun like going to a movie, then making a special dinner. Camille got to choose a jello. blah. Char is going to pick some ice cream to go with it. They also want to make a pineapple upside down cake, which is fine with me, I am allergic to pineapple so I won't touch it. The older kids are all going to be celebrating with their church friends)

It's getting colder here in the Northeast. brr. I don't like the blowing snow, or walking on makes me want to hunker in the house and eat cookies.

Tomorrow I have to go to the motor vehicle department, one of my un-favorite places, with my daughter, to get a copy of her driving record to send away to the court along with some other paperwork, to try to get her traffic ticket reduced. blah. But we will make the most of it...I'll take her for coffee or something. Life is too short to whine about wasted time, even if it's going to the DMV.

Ah well....I am distracted, which is my middle name lately. All the little details that make up life....that's why I like to blog, it clears my head almost as much as going on my walks.....

Sunday, December 28, 2014

here i am, still alive and well....

Sometimes life interferes with blogging. Which is fine, I would rather be too busy to write than to just plain not having anything to say. I ALWAYS have something to say. The kids have been on school vacation, we had three Christmas celebrations, and Paul has been off work on vacation. Today we worked at the college basketball game together, then went to the grocery store with Camille and Jonathan. We bought ten pounds of chicken wings, which I made tonight, mostly Buffalo hot ones, but some barbecued ones for the younger kids. We also had carrots, celery, and a bag of chips.

I didn't go on my walk to day because of working at the Dome, which is hours on my feet, plus the nice walk to and from the parking garage, up that big scary hill.

The kids are staying up later and later, and sleeping in longer. Sonja has been gone to a friend's house since yesterday, she is home now and is Chatty Cathy herself. I am listening to her, I really am.

The princesses are in their room, all tucked in but still going strong.

Have I mentioned how nice it is to have Paul home all these days? Really really nice.

Okay, fun: at church, the over 30 year olds have to put on a feast for the under 30 year olds. There are 26 of us over 30, and around 70 under 30 years old. The feast is in less than a month, and we have to practice songs, skits, and prepare the menu, and plan the decorations. I can't say much on here, because we are going to surprise them with the theme, ect. It is so very fun...I am in charge of food, and have big plans.

Never mind, Sonja is talking and I can't type and listen, and so...bye for now.

Friday, December 26, 2014

'twas the day after christmas, and all through the house....

not a creature was stirring, not even Marge.
Marge didn't go skating with Paul and the others,
with all of those sisters and two of her brothers.

So Mom made the mint coffee she loves and dad hates,
while the kids get their exercise tying on skates.
She sits with her feet up, pondering this:
If she loves her kid muchly, why is this bliss?

Her sprouted grain toast spread with pumpkin jam that Emily bought her,
Makes her appreciate her sweet oldest daughter.
The grapefruit from Florida from Gramma are so yummy,
One of the last ones left will go in Mom's happy tummy.

While cleaning the kitchen, looking forward to writing,
she thought it would be fun in poem form, exciting.
But now as she sits while the dogs lie there snoring,
she knows it is too much work, and is boring.

So, we survived another Christmas! It's hard to sum it all up, so I will just write some random sentences...

I walked this morning, three days in a row. Yesterday Abigail joined me, making it a pleasant Christmas walk. I know everyone wants to get in better shape after the holidays, and I am no exception. We haven't feasted on rare Who roast beast, but we did have a ham dinner yesterday...with squash, mashed 'tatoes, stuffing, applesauce, cranberry sauce, rolls...Christmas eve there was a big pot of meatballs, hot sausage, fresh bread and butter....and we had brunch on Christmas eve too...homemade pancakes and crepes, berries, eggs, bacon, sausage, grapefruit, orange juice....on Christmas morning, as per tradition, we had cinnamon rolls, the kind that come in the tubes...I didn't have any, but the smell! oh dear. torture. Poor Sam, we skyped with him on Christmas morning...his very first Christmas away from home...and when he asked if there were cinnamon rolls and I said there indeed were, he had teary eyes.

Today, all the kids will be here at once for the first time of the season, except for Benjamin in Washington state, and Sam-the-soldier in Washington D.C. None of the nurses work during the day today, so later they are coming for our Secret Santa and stockings, and for Chipotle style food. We are having chicken fajitas, taco salad, ect.

So...while it hasn't been ALL about the food, well, it has been pretty yummy around here. Plates of homemade cut out cookies, fudge, snickerdoodles....and boxes of chocolate, bowls of red and green M&M's....for me, it's like a constant conversation with myself...on the one hand, heck, it's Christmas! But on the other hand, for every little morsel of chocolate I put in my mouth, I have to work that off, or worse, leave it on. So, it isn't a total riot to have this much yummy stuff around, for me.

But having the kids around, oh so nice! The older kids pitched in and bought Evelyn an iPod. Paul and I bought iPods for Suzanne and Sonja. Jonathan got a remote control helicopter, his Hess truck from Gramma, a pogo stick, a video game from Abigail, and a electric panel learning set from Emily. The little girls got Frozen dolls from Gramma, (which they LOVE), Star Wars stuff for Char, a Calico Critter playset for Cam, and a few other things. The older girls that live together got a food processor, and a few individual gifts. I got a scarf, some chocolate, and some good coffee beans from Paul...

We were sitting here during the day of Christmas eve, and I asked Paul if he got his secret santa gift, and he just looked at me. oops, he forgot! Out the door he went, shopping with Evelyn. :)

We can't find Camille's Christmas doll. It was her "big" present. Charlotte Claire got one that I purchased online from Target. Cam's was from Kohl's, and it never came. Or perhaps it did, and we put it somewhere and can't remember where. It supposedly was delivered the day after the girl's car accident, and I am drawing a blank, big surprise. I don't know if I hid it somewhere really well, or if it really didn't get delivered. I told her that if we can't find it, I would buy her one...but when I ordered it before Christmas, it was on sale and only like 20 bucks, now it is $49.99. blah.

You must be SO organized, they say. You must have a system, to have all those kids. You must have schedules, even to use the bathroom! ha. ha ha ha.

Our washing machine chose a fine time to break. A few days before Christmas, it filled with water, but wouldn't spin or empty. I am so extremely thankful Paul wasn't in France. He took it apart and found some stuff that had clogged it...he cleaned it out, put it back together, and it works fine again.

Paul has had the whole week off. He is all mellow and relaxed. We have been on the same level lately, getting along really well. If you have been married for any length of time, you might know what I mean. Those times when you just aren't connecting, are't in sync. But lately, we have been just going in the same direction or something, it is almost tangible how we are just FOR each other. Not that we normally fight or anything, we don't. But we have our times. Our misunderstandings, hurt feelings, silences. I hate those times, and thankfully they come less and less as the years go by. I think we both realize how short life is, and each have more acknowledgement of our own sin, and are more forgiving. Plus, ha, we just plain like each other...) We do wonder sometimes how we got so lucky....

Aaron came over on Christmas eve...then got a text from a friend...his friend found a dog along the highway in the city. Aaron left, sneaky like, with Kathryn. I thought perhaps they were going to get the dog, and yeah, I was right. He came in the door with this adorable little Jack Russell...the poor boy was trembling, but still wagging his little tail. Our labs loved him, but he jumped up and tried to show them he was boss. The kitty wanted to play with him, but he wanted to chase the kitty. He settled down on different children's laps, and made Christmas eve very special. Aaron put an ad on craigslist right away, in case there are kids out there all brokenhearted about losing their pup at the holidays. Aaron is bringing him to the vet today to see if he's microchipped. He will turn him over to a shelter if they people at the shelter can guarantee he won't be put down, and will be adopted. We can't keep him because he likes to chase the cats, and he is so high energy. Aaron sleeps during the day because he works nights...he said that little dog was a darling, slept so nicely in his bed with him, but at 8 a.m., that dog was up and ready for the day. Aaron has to sleep in the day, so he doesn't want to keep the dog, wah.

If it were the case that he would be put down, we would keep him at least until we could find a good home for him.

And...that's all I have to say about that.

Monday, December 22, 2014

..merry merry christmas....

Still love this guy like crazy!

Okay, 18 years ago today, I got the most wonderful Christmas present!
Margaret Cheryl. This is Marg holding the little baby we watched last week.

She was my Christmas baby, coming home from the hospital on Christmas Eve.

Margaret is graduating from high school next month, half a year early. She has gotten excellent grades, taken hard courses including some college credit classes. She is musical and funny and creative. Margaret is Margaret no matter who is around. She is the oldest of those five girls in a row...

We are celebrating her 18th birthday by going to the Dome for a church fundraiser:)


Our tippy tree....

And since I am being random, here is a picture of my soldier son Samuel, he is the first one on the right. He has been busy down there in Washington D.C./Arlington. The Old Guard not only patrol the Tomb Of The Unknown Soldier, they are present at funerals at the National Cemetery, and participate in retirement ceremonies and award presentations. They are, though, first and foremost: infantry!

Random: a selfie with my 13 year old daughter, Suzanne, and my sister's youngest daughter, photo-bomber Audrey:)

Ten of my daughters...and one little friend, Tassia.

So we managed to record a few of their songs, but this is not my computer, alas my poor Chromebook is dead. Paul is going to order a new screen for it, but for now, I am using his laptop. One of the songs is on youtube, under My Five Daughters, but I think the setting is semi private. The other song is on facebook...

Our house is busy today with happy children. Jon estimates it will be about 70 hours until we open presents. They had a fantastic time yesterday at the Christmas feast....there was a cocoa station with cookies and fudge...
my sister's daughter Becky...

There were firepits set up outside, with outside activites. Indoors there was a ball pit for little ones, dollhouse stuff, a reading of the Nativity with coloring to do, a pin-the-tail-on-the-reindeer game, by my son Joseph, and of course presents. The youth aged kids each pick a name and buy a gift for one of the kids. This year, they gave each child a number, and hid the gifts all around the meeting hall. We had brunch together (3 different kinds of quiche, bacon and sausage, grapefruit, melon, oranges and bananas, and pancakes with strawberries and whipped cream.

Dinner was spinach/cheese stuffed chicken breast, with roasted red potatoes and carrots, and a salad with honey dressing, grapefruit, and candied pecans.

Dessert: brownie/chocolate pudding, and cheesecake shooters.

Anyway, it was a fantastic day. Beyond fun.

And, it is very busy in here right now. The little girls thought it would be a good idea to put scarves over their eyes and spin around until they got dizzy. I tried to tell them they were going to get hurt, but nope, had to find out the hard way. Camille smacked right into the sharp corner of the square coffee table, hitting her knee pretty hard. That game is over now.

We are trying to plan when to do our Secret Santa...the nurses are all working different shifts on Christmas eve, Christmas morning, and Christmas night. We are thinking to do it on the 26th. I am excited, either way. I have already gotten my present from Paul, that fun trip out west, so I am all set. I have some good surprises for the kids...I tortured Evelyn by picking up one of her gifts from under the tree and having her feel it, to see if she could guess. ha, she will never guess.

Anyway.....merry Christmas!!!

Friday, December 19, 2014

quiet time....

It's been a whirlwind here lately. But today I am staying home.

I am going to bake cookies and make some fudge for our church Christmas celebration, which is on Sunday. And then there is this thing called homeschooling...

My five daughters-in-a-row, the ones who were involved in the car accident, are lovely. Oh, they can quibble and squawk at each other, but when they are all getting along, it is a beautiful thing. They are planning to perform a song on Sunday, John Lennon's old, "So This Is Christmas". Kathryn plays the guitar, and they all sing it, and I think it's see them work together, and of course me being totally tone deaf, I think it sounds excellent. I assure them it will be fine, but they keep practicing...

The two little girls are also singing a song. Perhaps I will record these and put them up here, so Ben and Grandma can enjoy them.

Okay, so after all these years of being busy, sometimes I find myself not sure what to do next. Seriously, for several years, that was simply not something I could actually decide...I mean, I never had a choice, really, except for prioritizing what was the most urgent, then dealing with it. The one year old pooped, the newborn needs to be nursed, the two year old got into the Desitin, the four year old needs a nap or a snack or a story, the school kids need help with projects or homework, someone's ear hurts or needs a shower or broke a glass....I would just go from one thing to the next, somehow keeping the house half-way decent along the way. I made it a point to keep their clothes nice and clean and always leave the house with them matching, or at least in similar clothes, and looking spiffy. It was work, from dawn 'til dusk, and mostly on very little sleep. A good nap was a rare treat, always sought after but seldom found. I would bake my Christmas cookies with lots of little hands helping, between nursing and changing diapers and figuring out meals. I would wrap presents when they were all in bed, often juggling a baby too. (I totally miss my Sammers this year, he was my #1 helper wrapping presents. We would go into my room and wrap, and oh the fun we had! He helped me for several years, and I always knew it was the time with Mom that was the draw for him, oh I am sad he can't come home for Christmas this year. He called last night, and I told him all about the decorations here, where everything is, and what it looks like, then I texted him some pictures...he may be 19 years old now, but he is still child-like in some respects, and misses home right now....)

Anyway. My days were filled to the max. Add in doctor visits and appointments and grocery shopping and our frequent adventures and outings, and oh, it was busy.

Now, with nine kids still at seems quiet. There are no diapers to change, no one wakes in the night. The presents are all already wrapped, and stacked under the tree. I can bake several dozen cookies with nary an interruption.

Of course there is still laundry and messes and the daily dinner dilemma...and of course the grocery shopping and the sweeping the floors and cleaning up...I take a break now and then and two little girls scramble up to the arms of my chair, and we talk or read stories, or just sit and relax.

But sometimes, I actually find myself not sure what to do next. With actual time on my hands. Free time, time to decide what I really want to do, or need to do. It's strange.

Paul is working today, but has ALL of next week off. The school kids do, too. Yay!

My kids are all still sleeping. oops, we have gotten on a late schedule. The little girls never sleep this late. Joseph is up, he made the coffee:) My cup is empty, and I think that is a sign to get up and start some cookie dough...although honestly, sitting here in the quiet is very nice....

Thursday, December 18, 2014

a quick post....

This is my favorite friend. No offense to Duke, the chocolate one, but Suri is just cute.

Oh what a day. Today, I went out and about with this lovely lady, my oldest daughter Emily.

We went to Costco, which was too much fun. There were food samples galore. I tried tirimisu, Lindt truffles, standing rib roast, and cranberry bread. Okay, and Toblerone chocolate and cheesecake. And the rib roast again, just to be sure. Okay, and the Lindt once again. And just to be clear, it was lunch. And dinner was a simple bowl of soup.

I had to go to court this evening, my most un-favorite place. Okay, I kind of love going and hearing the others' stories, but who likes standing before a judge? The good part: we never had to stand before the judge! Because our summons/appearance ticket stated 6:00, and lo and behold, court starts at 5:00! The officer/guard wouldn't let us in, until I showed him our ticket. He had us wait in the space between the two sets of doors while he got the bailiff.

The bailiff was a sight bit nicer than he, and welcomed us in out of the cold. He listened to our condensed story of what happened in the accident, then went to fetch a lawyer to talk to us. The lawyer recommended we write a letter to the district attorney, along with a letter from our insurance company.

And off we went, new tasks to do, happy to have escaped scary court, to stop on the way home for a hot coffee on a snowy night....

Home, ahh.

Perhaps I will write more tomorrow....

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


My poor computer. I don't know exactly what happened to it, but I always keep it in the case. Perhaps it was stepped on, I. I can't see the upper left hand side, so if I make typing errors, I will be blissfully unaware. It's a Samsung Chromebook, and I love it. I attempted to email customer service last evening, but it's hard when you can't use some of the functions, so maybe I'll try again on someone else's computer. Never a dull moment, I tell you.

Oh joy, we baby sat for Mali's friend's baby yesterday. She was here for ten hours, and we enjoyed every minute of it. She's a sweet baby. I think Joseph is the only one of the kids here who didn't hold her. Or more specifically, fight over her. They took turns and lined up and I barely got a chance to hold her. She looked at them all in wonder. Babies are so innocent and trusting. Paul kept telling Camille that she would make a good big sister. They were all asking please, for another baby. Paul told them that he wanted one but just couldn't convince Mom, ha. As if. It was pretty cute, I heard him tell one of them that he has been wanting another baby for years now:), but we got too old. Who knows, maybe. Or maybe someone who doesn't want their baby will give it to us. I know, that sounds awful. But am I the only one who reads the stories in the news about someone dumping a newborn in a dumpster somewhere...and thinks, I would have taken that baby!!!?

Anyway, it was very fulfilling to rock and hold and change that baby. She's only a few months old, still to tiny and sweet.

I am tired though. Her mama picked her up at like 1:30, so I didn't get my beauty sleep. blah. I have been scatter-brained lately, I can't wait to see what today brings, being tired too.

The little girls (and Jon) made snickerdoodles yesterday. I baked them, but they did all the measuring and most of the mixing. It was a double batch, so Char couldn't handle the mixer once the flour was added in, but they did all the rest, especially forming the little balls and rolling them in cinnamon and sugar. They came out so amazing, don't ask me how I know that.

Today I am going out and about just a wee little bit. Most of the kids will stay here and do their work, but Camille wants to go with me. She is rather clingy since I got back from Washington. She is an excellent adventuring companion though, so I don't mind.

Christmas is sneaking up on me. Going on vacation for a week in December tends to make it do that. A whole week of no buying or wrapping or baking or decorating. It's quite nice, in a way, but when I get home, it seems overwhelming. I still have a few things to wrap. There is one doll I bought for Camille online before Thanksgiving, and I don't remember receiving it, don't remember wrapping it. I checked, and it was delivered on the day after the girls' car accident, when my brains were pretty scrambled. When I was in Washington, Emily took the kids to get a tree. They put it up and decorated it, and put all the wrapped presents under it. There were some stacked in Evelyn's room, so they just put them under. I guess if the doll is wrapped under there somewhere, Camille will get a doll, if not, she won't.

And here I sit while the day ticks by. The girls are playing. They have been keeping their room really clean and vacuumed, and spending lots of time in there playing house. They dress up all of their dolls, and make couches out of bins. They don't get bored. But then, neither do I.

I mopped the floor and put in some laundry this morning, and washed up the dishes. We had roasted whole chickens for dinner last night, with sweet potatoes, peas, and green beans. Tonight I will make chicken soup from the broth and leftover meat. I love knowing what I am having for dinner, I feel so on top of things. For some of us, it doesn't take much. I go.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

and today, she attempts to stay home....

Yesterday was another out-and-about day...and tomorrow, I have a request for a trip to the thrift store, half price day...oh the books you can find there! The treasures! And, I found some $7 coupons! Half price AND a coupon...thrift store = happy. And maybe crazy too, but oh well.

Then Thursday, I am going shopping with Emily for the upcoming Christmas feast at church. Costco, how I love thee! And spending the day with Emily - bonus. Thursday evening: not so fun, I have to go to court for the ticket that resulted from that lovely car crash. But I am a firm believer in this: everything happens for a reason, and God causes all things to work together for the good for those who love Him. If we had even one inkling of how fast our lives were going by, we would simply not waste time being miserable, or wishing things were different. We would make the most of our time, and make the best of things. Even sitting in a courtroom can be quite interesting. And I will get to spend time with one of my favorite daughters.

Today I am staying home. I have already accomplished loads. I swept and mopped the floor, and did some laundry. I talked to my brother on the phone, talked to Emily on the phone, texted with Ben for a few minutes, and of course I have these little darlings to contend with.....

Later today I am going to babysit for a small baby. She is three months-ish, the daughter of Mali's friend. We are all excited and looking forward to getting to know this little baby girl.

Here is the cookie recipe I usually use, Tereza. I used a different one this time and didn't like them as well.

2 1/3 C flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt

1 1/4 C sugar
1 C butter (2 sticks)
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla

mix flour, baking soda, salt, set aside. Beat sugar and butter, add egg and vanilla, mix well. Add flour mixture on low speed until mixed. Refrigerate 2 hours or until firm.

Roll out, cut into shapes, bake at 350 for 8 - 10 minutes. I usually set the timer for 7 minutes, and they are done, but I roll them thin.

Icing: 1 C confectioner's sugar, 3-4 tsp milk, splash of vanilla. This past time I added a small amount of light corn syrup to the icing, it made it shiny and it hardened up nicely.

Of course I usually double or triple this.

I need to make more of these already! This fine morning, we are going to have Baking Class. I found a recipe for snickerdoodles that looks divine....

I will have to break up the light saber war that is going on through out the house...Jon is in his plaid pajama pants, they are so hilarious. He just accidentally hit Char's hand, and it stung. He didn't mean to, they just aim to smack the sabers together. ouch.

mom mom MOM! Oh, sorry. I was daydreaming. I am working on paying attention. Putting down my phone, putting away my computer, and paying attention. I guess as my days of being Mommy to small children pass by, I wish for a do-over. Oh, I would pay so much more attention!

But today is today, there is no going back, and now I will put this away and bake cookies with kids.

Monday, December 15, 2014

it's beginning to look a lot like christmas....

We are watching, "How The Grinch Stole Christmas". It is cozy and warm in here. Aaron came for a visit...

I was glad to have some Christmas cookies to put on a plate...

Yeah, I know the tree is tilting. I don't think it will fall. I hope not.

Today, Suzanne went out and about...we stopped in Target first, to return all those glitches. The lady at Customer Service teased me a little, said I shouldn't be allowed near computers. I told her that when one of my kids asked me if I told Dad about it yet, I asked, "If you were me, would you tell Dad?" The lady said she certainly wouldn't tell Dad. Her own husband is a computer whiz too, so she would get about as much understanding as I got, because I did tell "Dad". He just shook his head, and asked me if I was going to return it all.

So with a few hundred dollars credited back to our bank account, I set out to help Suze shop for her Secret Santa gift. She had to get a child's gift first for our S.S. at church. Then we went to a different store and found the gift for her family S.S. Then to the grocery store for bananas and apples and cat food and green peppers and tortilla chips.

Then to the post office to mail a few boxes....Samuel James is going to be getting some cookies soon!!!

I baked and baked....then frosted and frosted. Saturday I mixed up a triple batch of cut-out sugar cookie dough...put it in the fridge, and made a batch of molasses cookies, and baked them.

I made a double batch of chocolate snowball dough yesterday, then headed into my room with Sonja to wrap presents. I am almost done! We baked cookies, batch after batch...then frosted them all.

I partly hate Christmas. It's hard to explain, but I feel like I just don't do anything right. Paul and I have different opinions about what is an appropriate amount of gifts, he always thinks I buy too many, and I think of each child, and never feel like I have gotten enough. But when I mentioned in a half-joking way the other night, that I hate Christmas, Kathryn told me I can't just do that. I have to think of the little kids. She said I said that to her recently. Oh, when the shoe is on the other foot...when normally optimistic me starts feeling blah about things and am encouraged by one of the teenagers...oh it is interesting. She is right, of course. Poor me. I do not want to wallow. She is right, I need to just get over it. It's just that as Mom, I do most of the Christmas-y work. The shopping and wrapping and planning and of course anything less than a standing ovation is not appreciated. ha. A little bit of criticism goes a long ways sometimes, but it is up to me if I let myself get all bitter and dark about stuff.

And so, I choose to practice what I preach.

The kids are going ice skating with the youth group, and have to eat dinner early, so off I go to get some taco salad started....

Sunday, December 14, 2014

back in new york....

Goodbye rain, hello snow.

It's good to be home. Seeing Paul again after two weeks...very nice. It was after midnight when my final flight got in Friday night, so the house was dark and quiet, and I didn't see the kids until yesterday.

I won't lie, I spent a few hours cleaning up the house...but that needs to be done every day anyway, so it doesn't mean they didn't keep up while I was gone. It sort of just means that they tried:)

West coast time is three hours behind, so I slept in until ten this morning, it would only be 7 am out there. I feel like half the day is gone already. And I have big plans today. I made a double batch of cut out cookie dough last night, and a batch of molasses cookies. I also went shopping with Margaret, and the two little princesses.

We had to get some groceries, some Christmas shopping. I didn't get gifts for those I set out to get gifts for, but found more stuff for people I already have stuff for. Time is ticking, I might resort to gift cards.

I have so much stuff to wrap. I have so much stuff to return to Target. And here I sit. Paul is out back sledding with the girls, and the dogs.

Jonathan is at Abigail's house. It was her birthday yesterday...she took some of the kids to see the original version of, "It's a Wonderful Life", shown in a town not too far from here...the bridge scene in the movie was shot in this small town.

I am making a big Sunday dinner today. We have no church today, since there is a big fundraiser at the Dome, and so many of us are going. I am sitting this one out, but Margaret and Kathryn are going.

Sonja is sweeping the living room....and I feel lazy, my coffee cup is empty, and I don't want Paul to come in from sledding and find me still sitting here, ha.

Friday, December 12, 2014

saying goodbye....wah.

This little sweetie warmed up to Gramma...quite a bit. But on her terms, no hugs, but: I got a nice kiss! She is adorable, and is always sunshine-y. Even if she bumps her head or falls down, she bounces back and is smiling again in no time.

She loves phones. She likes to take pictures. Gramma is in the background of this one.

She took a picture of Uncle Aaron...

And, it is late. We are getting up in four hours, at 4 a.m., to leave for the airport. My flight doesn't leave until 8:30, but Aaron's leaves earlier, so I will leave with him. I fly first to Arizona, then to Washington D.C., making for a very long day....but then, I am home!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

aaron's birthday in washington....

It is rainy out here, which is not bad considering the kids have no school today back home. A snow day. Yesterday was Aaron's birthday, and we wanted to go adventuring in Seattle. So we drove up to Tukwila station and got on the Light Link. I felt so tourist-y, my head swiveling in all directions to take in the mountains and scenery. The other passengers just sat there, all slumped and resigned. In my humble opinion, life should never be lived like that, but anyway. We got off downtown, in the rain.

Since Aaron had slept through was the first day in forever that he was able to just sleep in...with him working nights, traveling, the time difference here...he was tired. So, we stopped for a breakfast sandwich in a little Vietnamese cafe, and it was so good...scallion and pepper fritatta on bagel with smoked bacon...

We have decided to go out and about, then get over and see Miss Ashley and Miss Anya...we are leaving this fine city tomorrow morning, so today is our last full day here. I will perhaps finish writing of our adventures later....and hopefully, have many more to add....

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

exploring seattle....

Don't worry, I will take plenty of pictures! Today is my #6 child's birthday. okay, he's 22, he is all grown up. Today, we are going to Seattle! We will drive and park and take the metro, then walk down to the waterfront and take a ferry ride. What a way to celebrate your birthday, sightseeing with your mother. Aaron and I get along like peas and carrots. He is still sleeping right now, but I want to go down and get breakfast. I might have to risk waking him up, I can smell the Seattle's Best coffee, or perhaps I am just imagining it.

Tonight, we are going to a Mexican restaurant with Ben and Ashley and Anya, to officially celebrate the birthday.

We spent last evening at Ben's house. He and Ashley made pasta and meatballs, so Aaron and I brought over some wine, garlic bread, and salad stuff...and a FIFTY pack of pumpkin chocolate chip cookies....only SIX dollars at the Safeway. And believe me, oh yum. I am glad we have no Safeway stores in New York.

Anya enjoyed our company. She smiled for me, and played her little games. She is a smart little thing, she knows what's going on. I have tons of pictures, but my phone is on white noise right now, and I don't want to wake Aaron on his birthday.

The evening went too fast, we laughed and sat at the table solving the worlds' problems. No, actually I heard about lots of stuff I didn't know went on way back when...Ben was a teeny bit badder than I realized. phew, I am glad he somehow grew up into such a responsible guy.

Okay, here's the strange thing: I am here in Washington, the weather forecast for today: 59 degrees. Paul is in Florida, but heading home tonight. The kids are in the middle of a snowstorm! They will have possibly 2 feet of new snow by tomorrow. When I say "kids", I mean the nine left at home, and the oldest is 23, so they are fine. It's just weird.

I can't mommy every one all of the time:)

So today, I'll just mommy Aaron, ha.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

two posts in one day?!

This lady must have some time on her hands!

Well. This lady has had an unusual day.

Breakfast with Aaron at the hotel buffet. The scrambled eggs The hashbrowns...potato-y and soggy, but not bad with salt and pepper, but not healthy, either. I walked right by the Belgium waffle maker, yum, but no. I did raid the waffle toppings however, and made myself a little yogurt parfait with strawberries and granola. I took a mini lemon poppyseed muffin, and put some peanut butter on the first bite, but it was not the freshest, so why waste the calories? I got an apple instead, and with peanut butter, yum. I took an orange for later, and sipped my coffee...Aaron approved of the coffee, and he is a member of the Finer Things Club, so it must be good coffee.

So I spent time on my computer, then went down for a swim. I was the only one in the pool. :) I was also the only one in the hot tub afterwards.

I came back and showered, and made a cup of coffee, love that there is a Keurig in here. I made a cup of decaf tea, and added a slice of the orange I took from the breakfast buffet, then ate the orange with some of the dark chocolate I bought at Ikea. Sorry kids, I did mean to bring that home. But hungry is hungry. And oranges and chocolate, well, you know.

I checked my phone, which I didn't take to the pool with me, and there were TEN missed calls from home. And a text that read, Please pick up the phone. Now, we all know that accidents happen, and since an accident did happen just last week, it isn't too far from Mom's consciousness, especially when she's far far away. So I sort of freaked, thinking something bad happened. Nope. I called, and Evelyn answered. After she got done chastising me for not answering my phone, I asked her what on earth was the matter. Nothing much, she said. Kathryn just had questions about how to cook the chicken. rrr. But, she said, What if there WAS an emergency, and Mom didn't pick up her phone?! So there you have it. I can be two thousand miles away from home, across the whole country away, but I still have to Be There.:)

Now as I sit here sipping my hot orange tea, I am thinking about things. One thing I am thinking about is my husband. He is in Florida. I am in Washington. We are on opposite corners of the country. Back a few months ago, I was in Washington D.C., and he was in France. I guess we both travel a lot.

Anyway, I miss him. I don't ever want to fall into complaining about his job, because I am thankful he has a good job. He also likes it, which is a bonus. I don't know exactly what he does, but he fixes computer issues, helps set up new systems. He seems to be good at it, too. He is gone a lot, and I miss him. But the good part in that is....he comes back home. And when the days pass and it gets closer to Daddy's Coming Home, the anticipation of seeing him again kicks in more and more. It's always SO good to see him.

This time, he will get home, and I won't be there yet. I don't get back to New York until late Friday night/early Saturday morning. He gets there tomorrow night. So this time, technically, it will be him waiting for Mommy to come home:)

Surprise of all surprises, I seriously miss my kids. Having time away is nice, but it is Christmas time, and I can't wait to see them, and the tree, and there are all those Target things I have to bring back. Jon says they are stacking them all up when they arrive. Suzanne needs to go shopping for her secret Santa gift, and I am looking forward to that. Don't get me wrong, I am enjoying my visit out here too. I tried to explain to Suzanne on the phone this afternoon that having a lot of kids is like the parable of the lost sheep. Jesus left the other 99 to find the lost one. I love each and every one of my kids. And, absence makes the heart grow fonder, because the heart tends to forget those little annoyances, like perhaps talking back or the avalanche of questions and the needs that all need to be met right NOW. The messes and the sweeping and the laundry, I don't miss it at all, but believe me, I feel immense gratitude for my kids who are taking up the slack right now and doing it all.

Or, perhaps they aren't doing it all and when I get home, I can play Catch Up, my very unfavorite-ist game when I get home from a trip.

Ah well, Aaron is on his way back from Seattle, and we are going over to spend some time with Ben and Ashley and Anya....

washington state...where do even begin?

This is where I am right now. Well, this is the lobby of the hotel, I am upstairs in my room, blogging. finally. :)

This is me right now. Happy, rested, and a little bit lonely.

Aaron had things to do out and about in downtown Seattle, and I am here at the hotel...having some downtime.

Right about now Miss Anya is probably waking up at home, just a few minutes from here and wondering where Grammy is.
Here is the little princess with my Benjamin and mama Ashley.

I stayed with them until last evening. Aaron arrived, and came to visit too.
Aaron and Ben haven't been together for a YEAR!

We had pizza, and caught up.

Aaron wanted to stay at a nearby hotel for his visit...the hot tub, the pool...and because Aaron works nights, and is awake so late...Benjamin works days, and is in bed by 9 pm, and up in the morning by 4-ish. So, I stayed with Ben and fam for a few days, then moved here with Aaron. You know, hot tub...pool :) We will still spend lots of time with Ben and Ashley though. I miss that little Anya already. She is adorable.

Isn't she adorable? We took a little trip to Ikea. If you want to have some fun, go to an Ikea a few thousand miles away from home, knowing that you absolutely cannot buy anything, because it won't fit in your suitcase. I bought a few chocolate bars, and an umbrella for $1.99. To use while here, it rains a lot in Washington state.

Little sweetie pie. She likes to look at me, she smiles at me and plays games with me. A few times she even handed me something, then played a little game where I gave it back and she gave it to me again. But that's about it. No hugs for Gramma, no cuddles. She is just not there yet. She isn't used to anyone else except for her parents. She is a happy little girl though, all smiles and contentedness. I have decided to just enjoy it for what it is....seeing her.

She is cute, no doubt about it.

Ben and Ashley have just moved to a bigger house. It is very relaxing and homey there.
Baxter the Border Collie loves me. And I love him.

I took this when I first got here on Saturday....

I was like a zombie. I had only slept for two hours Friday night. More accurately, I was in bed for two hours, taking like twenty little naps between falling asleep and waking to check to make sure I hadn't slept through my alarm.

My first flight was uneventful. I had two seats to myself, and actually enjoyed it. Finding my gate in O'Hare airport in Chicago though...dang I was nervous. I thought I only had 35 minutes, but ooops, I forgot about the time change! I had plenty of time! Why was my heart racing and why did I feel so nervous? I couldn't even eat the slice of pumpkin bread I splurged on from Starbucks in the airport. (I saved it though, and shared it with Ben and Ashley later, yum.)

That flight was no fun. I sat between a Russian lady and an Indian boy, who both put their headphones in right away, which screams, "Don't Talk To Me." I am not a headphones person, I had no interest in the one movie that was playing on the overhead screens, and wasn't about to try to blog when I had no place to put my elbows. The boy had really bad breath, and ate an apple and put the core in the pocket of the seat in front of him. The lady was nice enough, but she jostled and bumped me too much. I was really tired. Once I found myself sleeping, sitting up, with my head totally in the boy's space, snoring. blah. I did not like that flight. Over four hours of squish.

But when I landed, and there was Ben waiting for me outside...oh joy! It was just so good to see my oldest son!!!! yay! It was worth it! Then we got to his house, and a huge hug from Ashley, oh it was nice. I knew Anya was shy, so I proceeded slowly with her. I sat right on the floor and played with her toys, she just watched me and smiled. I didn't realize yet how it wouldn't change much from that.

At least she doesn't cry when she sees me. But honestly, I can't help but feel a bit sad that she won't come to me. I want to rock her, read her a story, carry around and tell her about things.

I did try. The second day I was there, I reasoned that perhaps she thought that was just the way it was, and maybe I should try to pick her up a bit. So I scooped her up and she shrieked. I had to leave the room. sniff sniff. Travel, fatigue, hormones, I don't know. I couldn't stop crying. I felt like such an idiot. There was no where to hide, and there I was, sobbing like a baby. All the months of being a Gramma, and I can't even be a Gramma. I had to pull myself together, I couldn't stay in my room all day. It's just the way it is, there is no changing it. I can either enjoy her from afar, or not. My choice. So I choose to enjoy her:)

Oh, and Ben had her last evening...she was smiling at me, and Ben brought her closer. I held my arms out, and she seemed fine, she was almost coming to me...I had her...then she started crying.

In the big scheme of things, it's not so bad. But since this is my blog, allow me to wallow in a few tears, please.

Being a grandparent is a complex thing. You love that child as much as you love your own children. I don't mind that I have no say, that they raise her how they see fit. I respect that. I think they are amazing parents, they love her immensely. I don't want to come in and offer suggestions or give my opinion on anything. I just want to share little Anya.

So I am here in Washington, Paul is in Florida, and the kids are at home, expecting a big snowstorm. I told them to fill some water jugs, and to make sure the snow shovels aren't lying around the yard ready to be buried.

They have been doing well at home. Emily brought them to get a Christmas tree. Abigail had the little girls over for dinner, then Emily cooked dinner for them all on Sunday. Joseph is bringing the five homeschoolers ice skating today. They are fine. I talked to Camille three times yesterday.

I am drinking my coffee, and am planning to go down and take a nice swim in the pool. When Aaron gets back, we will go back over to Ben and Ashley's place and visit, and see little sweetie. Tomorrow is Aaron's birthday, so we might go out to dinner somewhere.

Friday, December 5, 2014

all packed up and ready to go!

I have to get up at four in the morning to go the airport. Or should I say I "get" to. I am overly excited, my stomach is all funky, and I can't string two thoughts together in a row. I finally decided what to wear on the flight...and believe me, how I look isn't factoring in to the decision. My only jeans that I wear all of the time are fine to wear all of the time, but sitting in them for too long cuts into my tummy, I am embarrassed to report. So I am wearing a pair of leggings and a stretchy dress. With my oversized sweater, and the battered up black and white geometric print bag Margaret is letting me use to put my laptop and purse in, I will sport the bag lady look.

Today, I went out and about with Abigail, my 27 year old daughter. Here's what we did:

1. Abigail's bank. She closed a savings account because she was getting billed a monthly fee.

2. My bank, where I deposited a few checks for Margaret, and got out some money.

3. A store, which I shall not name, in case any Christmas snoopers are reading this, to return something.

4. The department of Motor Vehicles to turn in the license plates from the smashed up car.

5. Kohl's to redeem Abigail's Kohl's cash. I got a $4 shirt, which I love, and a gift for my great niece who turned 12 this week.

6. To the mall. A different mall than yesterday. blah, two malls in two days. I got one gift, for Mirielle.

7. To Aldi, for yogurt and sweet potatoes and cat food and cheese and spinach and apples, and half-half.

8. To the insurance agency to turn in the paper that proved I turned in the plates.

9. To the drugstore to fill a prescription, and buy some adorable Christmas candy for the gingerbread houses I decided not to make this evening.

Home, ah home. I made meatballs, and washed bedding, and cleaned up, and packed, and ordered some really cool gifts online.

I am almost done with my shopping, thankfully. I want to get something for Anya while I am out in Washington, so I don't have to send it.

I can't wait to see her. I want her to like me. It's sad to me that I love her to pieces and she has no idea that I exist. I finally get to be Grammy! I want the part where eyes light up when I come into the room, where arms open wide to be scooped up! She may be far far away from me, but I certainly hope to visit often enough that she will know me, as she grows up. I never paid much attention to when people lamented about having grandchildren in another state (or country!) I realize how it is.

But as with a few other things in this world, it isn't all about me. They like where they are, Benjamin has a good job, and they have friends there.

So today, Joseph took the three youngest ice skating. I was happy for them, and happy that I was going out and about with Abigail, and excited about my trip, so when I was showering Camille, I was singing happy songs very loudly. I asked the girls if they were excited about skating. Cam was, but Char said no, she wasn't. Sometimes she just likes to act a little bit teenager-ish. I told her she should be excited for every day, whether she stays home or goes fun places. Camille thought about that for a while and said, "Well, I think we should be happy and thankful for every day, but to be excited is more for special things." Camille likes to talk about which words work better, and what words mean. She just asked me if "trust", and "believe" mean the same thing.

And, it's time to get these kids tucked in...I don't think I'll sleep tonight, but I don't want them to be tired and grumpy....

Thursday, December 4, 2014

and another busy day....

Charlotte Claire, Jonathan, Olivia (cousin:)), Camille, Kathryn and the dreaded mall...

The car is totaled.

I have to turn in the license plates tomorrow, and go to the bank. Abigail is coming with me. Joseph is taking the three youngest kids ice skating, homeschool gym class.

And Saturday morning...I am out of here! To Washington....

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

holiday shopping....

Today, we went to Walmart. I was one of those moms...the kind who walk blissfully through the store, seemingly unaware of the havoc being wreaked by her unruly children. Not really. We just decided to make today's trip a fun one. So we took our time, and I let them look...and while I did stop them from riding the bikes around the toy department, I did let them try out the Power Wheels Car. The girls got in and Jon pushed them. Not my kids, I said as I walked away quickly.

I wanted to get a few things for my trip, like socks. I operate on a very slim sock margin. Just two or three pair which I wash and wear over and over again. I am a picky sock person, but I keep good track of my favorites. But going away for a week means I need more socks.

I also stocked up on Excedrin Migraine, just in case. The last time I flew out to Washington state, I got a horrid migraine. This time I will be better prepared. I also bought gum and mints and a teeny tube of toothpaste, because we all know how dangerous those regular sized tubes are!

We picked out a few gifts for the secret Santa at church, and some razors...then as we passed the aisle containing the pads and tampons, Jonathan said that he thinks the girls might need more of those things. In fact, he said, he was pretty sure he heard they did. Too funny.

We bought bananas and milk and a big box of frozen pizza rolls for them to have when I am out west. I let them pick out some ice cream too, and even a bag of Doritos. I do not eat even one of those things, or I would have to eat the whole bag.

I don't know how it happens, but we spent a hundred bucks. And that's without buying all the cool stuff we really wanted.

Today...oh what a day. Unremarkable, yet so full. We scrambled out of bed and went to the pool. The kids had protein bars and water, I had a handful of almonds, and out the door we went. We got home, took care of the wet stuff, and started to make some breakfast. I decided to wash up a few dishes first. I set aside one of my favorite mugs from the drain, and when I set it on the counter, I set it on a spoon, which led to that nice red mug's quick demise, it shattered all over the floor. Dang it. I loved that mug. And now I had to sweep up all the pieces. I went to dump the dustpan, and dang it if the garbage isn't overflowingly full. I took the bag out, but just left it on the deck, planning to ask one of the older kids to pretty please bring it down to the can for mom. Then one bad kitty peed on the towel that goes in front of the 'fridge. The towel that sops up the unexplainable slow trickle of water. I put that in the washer, disinfected the floor, put a clean towel down.

Phone call from the ambulance service about the claim number. Text from Aaron, yes, of course you can come over! Talked to Emily, she was coming to take the girls somewhere. Jonathan, please take the garbage down. What!? They got into it already!? Yup, it was all over the deck, bad dogs!

And so my unremarkable day went. Aaron came over, he brought me a nice hot cup of Starbuck's Holiday Blend coffee. I kept calling it Christmas Blend, just because. Holiday indeed. Anyway, Aaron sat and chatted, and reserved a hotel room for when we go visit Benjamin. I will stay with Ben and Ashley for the first three nights, then when Aaron gets to Washington, I will join him at the hotel, just a few minutes away. It's a nice place, with a 24 hour pool and hot tub, and breakfast, along with a manager's reception in the evening.

Ben and Ashley just moved to a bigger house, north of where they were. Just yesterday. So they are in shambles trying to get the place together. Little Anya is confused and doesn't want to be put down. Grammy will just have to go out there and hold her and play with her. :)

Emily came to pick up Kathryn and Suzanne, she had Evelyn with her. Apparently Emily is on the high school's list of people approved to pick the kids up from school early. They were heading out to have a late lunch at Panera, so Aaron joined them.

That left me with the three youngest, so off we went to Walmart.

We picked our minivan up from the place in town. The steering was fixed for the bargain price of a hundred fifty seven dollars. Paul asked, on the phone from Florida, if they checked the oil, it was down a quart. I have no idea. He told me to check the oil tomorrow. Just find the thing with the yellow cap, blah blah blah. Oh, and the dryer won't turn on, unless you try to turn it on like a hundred times, then it finally starts to hum. Paul said it's probably something simple. okay.

Tomorrow morning we are heading out the door for the dreaded mall in the suburbs. Down where the girls crashed. Suzanne has to see the eye doctor to get new glasses, hers broke in the accident. The eye doctor is in the mall, so we decided to make a fun day of it. My sister-in-law will meet us there with some of her home schooled kids. (Olivia is already here:)).

Don't ask me why, but when the kids asked me if they could please please sleep in the living room tonight, I said they could. They are adorable. Charlotte is sleeping right smack between Suri and Duke. Jonathan is still reading, "Diary of a Wimpy Kid", and Camille is fast asleep with the kitten.

The fan is on, and I told them they could leave a set of Christmas lights twinkling in the window for a nightlight. I am too cozy to get up and go to bed, but I will be sorry in the morning if I don't move it soon.

I have enjoyed my unremarkable day. The highlights:

1. At the pool, Camille stuck one foot in and said it was just the right temperature. "It's exactly how I like my tea!"

2. I bought the three kids one cup of popcorn chicken to share, from Walmart. (deep fried styrofoam). Jon was the boss of it, and he let them each have four, then each have two, ect., until it was all gone.

3. Instead of a bedtime story, I told them stories from when I was little, and they loved it.

4. Today we read an article in the National Geographic about the Christmas eve cease-fire that took place during WW I between France and England and the Germans. They sang hymns and carols, and exchanged gifts. They did not want to go back to fighting the next day, but were forced to. This isn't exactly a highlight, but it was interesting to read it to the kids, and talk about it.

5. The cashier in Walmart assumed that my kids eat an extraordinary amount of bananas. She said, "three kids, three bunches, wow."

6. The first Target order came today. The mail lady is going to think...I don't know what she's going to think. That glitch, all those packages...ugh.

7. Suzanne's face is healing up miraculously. She is young and healthy, but still, it looks SO much better.

And, Jon just turned out the light, so I am going to let him fall asleep.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

one dark and cozy night....

I decided to make cut out cookies with the kids. The older kids' youth meeting was cancelled because we have snow which turned to sleet, making for slippery roads. Jon and Char were helping too, but soon decided on Mario Cart or a StarWars game instead. Camille and I finished all by ourselves. A few things I noticed while decorating cookies with my youngest child:

1. I am still lacking in patience. She got green sprinkles in the yellow ones, spilled flour all over, and...well, she puts so many sprinkles on her cookies!

2. A few years ago, Emily made a remark along the lines of, "Mom, when we're all moved out, this place is going to be echoing of our ghosts." Well, sitting there at our long kitchen tables with only Cam, frosting and sprinkling, I was remembering the days of managing 8 or 10 or 12 or 14 kids, frosting and sprinkling. I would usually begin the cookie decorating as soon as the one year old was in for a nap, who ever was one at the time, probably at the same time as the two year old...I remember older kids rocking babies, and me having to take a break to nurse. I remember getting those one year olds up from naps, changing them and putting them in highchairs so they could be contained for a wee bit longer, so we could finish up without them climbing up and having Sprinkle Fun.

3. I like cookies. I only ate a few tastes of the scraps. Yes, I bake up the last cuttings, instead of rolling them back out into shapes. The kids ate them up dipped in frosting. Yum, I do make a good butter cookie, dang it.

4. Camille is hilarious. She seriously thinks she can make beautiful cookies.

Anyway. It was a cozy evening. Margaret made a pot of chili, which she seasoned with zsechuan spices. The girls practiced a song for the upcoming Christmas concert at church, the five-in-a-row girls are planning it, with their ukeles.

Suri is just so cute.

The house is quiet, once again. I find myself staying up way too late when Paul is away. Poor guy is in Florida, in December. He called me while he was taking a nice warm evening walk. We have snow. I was planning on my walk today, but then it started snowing...then sleeting...

Tomorrow is a day of out and about. I promised a few little girls I would take them out to Pizza Hut to redeem their Book It coupons. Jon too, of course. But we have to get our minivan back from the garage in town. I am not sure yet what was wrong, but it wouldn't steer. It is supposed to be done in the morning, and I hope whatever was wrong was a cheap fix. Our poor Sentra hasn't been appraised yet, but the adjuster has been in touch. He said they all took five days off for the holidays, and everyone had accidents while they were off, so they have to catch up.

I haven't blogged much about weight loss in a while for a few reasons. One, I don't like pouring my heart out on here and then talking to people I know in real life about it. It just seems so personal, unless of course I am doing fantastic and the pounds are falling off, then I don't mind. I have been maintaining a gain, losing a few pounds and then gaining them back, over and over again. I am still up over 20 pounds from my lowest, which is downright discouraging. I realized today that I was getting really depressed about it. Not overall depression, just in regards to the weight. Like feeling hopeless about the whole thing. But I am not giving up. It could be worse. I still don't eat bread, or chips, or cookies, for the most part. I know the things that trip me up, and for a normal person, they wouldn't probably matter. But I seem to gain weight back so easily now, just eating a bowl of popcorn or...pie. Okay, I did have too much pie. Most of the regain is from adding little things back in, and they add up over the days and weeks. It's not that I just went back to eating GASP sandwiches again! Anyway. My point is that I am not giving up.

I want more energy. This winter stuff is getting old already. I haven't been walking because of slippery roads and hunting season. I need to get to the pool, and stick to my weight lifting/push-ups/work out. I did it yesterday, but nothing today.

I have done most of my shopping online this year, and I am almost finished. I still have a few kids I haven't bought anything for. Today we cleaned under the couches and moved them around to make room for the Christmas tree. The little girls didn't lose any time setting up camp in the empty place. My kids have always loved having a new, clean, space to play in.

Okay, time to turn off all the Christmas lights and get to's almost midnight:)

Monday, December 1, 2014

ah, monday....

We went to the tow truck lot to visit the car. We had been shopping before the accident, so we had loot to remove from the trunk. We had to get the jumper cables and the snow brush, and a few water bottles, and some pennies from the cupholders. The car doesn't look as bad as some of them there in that sad lot, but the passenger side window was shattered and the door was buckled. Suzanne could have been hurt much worse.

Kathryn was my accomplice today. We brought Paul to the airport, he is going to Florida for ten days, for work, he says:) We then went to this really fun store called Ollies. We found too much good stuff there. Christmas presents. Every year at church, the youth aged kids buy gifts for the kids, and five of my youth aged kids here at home chose names, so we got a few of those taken care of. I found a science book, a math book, and a general third grade work book for the kids.

We went to the grocery store just for shampoo and conditioner and lightbulbs, but came home with some popcorn, wrapping paper, and sour dough bread.

We stopped for some lunch, Kathryn and I, at Chipotle. We ate in the truck, and chatted...then stopped at the gas station, filled up the truck, and got fountain drinks.

Home, ah home. We dragged in the bags, and wrapped lots of presents. Evelyn is being a sport and letting me keep the gifts in her room until we get the Christmas tree.

The Christmas tree...they are getting it without me this year. I don't mind, but I sort of do. But I cannot be everywhere, and when you have lots of kids, you enjoy who you are with, and what you are doing, and that's that. I will be with Benjamin and Ashley and Anya:). Emily is going to take these guys to choose the tree on Sunday. I leave here on Saturday morning.

This week seems full of little details to take care of. There will be five days where my absence and Paul's work trip overlap, so I am assigning different older kids to each take a night to make dinner. I have to help plan that, and make sure we have what they need. I have the minivan in the shop, another car that needs to be inspected, and then there is the crashed Sentra, which we don't know about yet. I am guessing it is totaled. I am thinking of calling a dermatologist for Suzanne's face, and have an appointment on Thursday for a vision test for her, her glasses broke during the accident. I need to plan school for kids for all of next week (I will be gone from Saturday until late Friday night). I cancelled a dentist appointment we had for today.

And, I have lots of online shopping orders arriving here each day. I, um,, ordered the same order like 8 times from Target. Okay, so I had trouble placing the order, a glitch in the matrix or something. It was on Thanksgiving evening, I took a break and put my feet up, and went on And, after I put the sale items in my cart and tried to check out, it would say ERROR, and ask for my PIN # again. So I repeated it a few times. Okay, like six. I finally went on my phone and placed the order. And when I started getting emails stating, Your Target Order Has Shipped!, I thought, "those idiots keep sending me the same email." Yup, Head In The Clouds, that's my Indian name. Sorry, Native American name.

So, I am getting Psych Season 8 like...8 times! And guess what? Abigail already has it. Looks like I am going to be at the return counter pretty soon. And believe me, that's not the only thing I ordered each time. Our account...oh dear, it is a debit card, so ouch.

Fun times, fun times.

I can't complain though. I ordered myself new boots from Kohl's last week, they were less than twenty bucks. I have a pair of ugly warm ones, and this pair of canvas-y like ones, that were getting shabby. My feet are wide, and most shoes hurt them, but these new boots are keepers! It makes me so happy to have something else to put on when I'm going out the door!

Jonathan is home now, he went shopping with Mirielle.

They are all home now, all who live here, except for Paul.

It is the calm before the storm, the quiet of the afternoon, before I start making dinner and they all converge back in the living room and kitchen. We already had a pre-quiet storm, we wrapped presents and had coffee and donut holes (not me though:))...the kids are getting excited about Christmas, and are bouncing off the walls, in general.

But, I can't complain.

The calls from the insurance company, three so far. The deets and the tails, as Mirielle would say.

Have I mentioned how excited I am about going to the west coast? Super. I am slightly terrified by the prospect of navigating the airports alone, but sort of psyched about it too. I will feel so grown up and accomplished when I get home.

The quiet is over. Miss Char is dragging my new suitcase around, mimicking how Mama will pull it. Joseph is having a snack, and washing his own dishes, Evelyn is in here wanting to bye for now.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

accident after effects....

I'd like to say that life just went on like normal, ha, whatever "normal" is when you have a family like this....but anyway, life hasn't really been normal.

But it hasn't been bad, either. There has been suffering, for sure. First and foremost, is the guilt of the driver. She did not see the other car as she made a left turn at a green light. It was two lanes each way, the other lane was clear, and the car in front of her was turning. She followed it, thinking the coast was clear...the vehicle my girls collided with was black, and she just didn't see it. So it was her fault. And that hurts her. The "what ifs" came up a few times, and honestly, this young driver of mine feels done with driving. (I have assured her that no one here blames her. Yes, she got a ticket, she has to go to court, it will all work out, take life one day at a time, don't worry about it, it won't help.)

Evelyn says she is never getting in a car again.

Kathryn has had a headache and can't sleep.

Suzanne...well, poor Suze. Her face is a mess, and for a 13 year old girl, that alone is traumatic. It will probably heal without scarring if she keeps the ointment on it and doesn't pick at it. It looks better all ready, but at first, oh my goodness. It was swollen and red and scraped and bruised. Her nose looks like Rudolph, Camille told her, but, Cam assured her, Rudolph is very cute.

But suffering isn't necessarily a bad thing. Obviously, learning from our mistakes is good, but it can go deeper. My young driver asked, "Why does God allow these things to happen? I was being careful!" Emily assured her that it doesn't matter, just be humble. I think these things happen to give us a respect for life, and to know our mortality. It gave me a huge boost of affection for my girls...I mean, you KNOW you love your kids, but do you tell them? Do you really consciously appreciate them?

It's funny, because these days, these very daughters of mine are probably the primary source of my irritation (I know, I get irritated because of ME, but you know what I mean. They can seriously test my patience, all these teenage girls!) Yet, they have my heart. I love them unbelievably much.

So our weekend has been different, strange, with them recounting and remembering. The driver is putting the pieces together, she had some big memory gaps, probably because of mild shock. She remembers seeing Suzanne slumped over, so Suze was probably knocked out. Evelyn admits it was a little bit fun to run into the fabric store shouting about the crash from 30 feet away. Kathryn said she knew Evelyn was going to do that, so she tried to tell me first, so they were both yelling stuff about it. Sonja gets the calm cool collected award.

And, it comes out that Kathryn was absolutely terrified when Suzanne didn't know where she was or how she got there...Kathryn thought her best friend Suze was going to stay like that. It's funny now, but to her, it wasn't very funny then.

And, while I was heading to the hospital in the ambulance with Suzanne, the girls were treated so kindly by the pizza place workers, being welcomed there to wait for Paul, and offering them food, and bringing them water. That warmed my heart, there are kind people in this world.

Also, when something like this happens, it gives me such a great appreciation for the volunteer firefighters and first responders. Everyone there was efficient and caring. Ha, one of the teachers from the middle school was there, all dressed in a fireman costume...the girls were all crying and shaking, and he was so nice to them.

And so last night I made some pizzas, Paul took Suzanne to town (she stayed in the car) to get a movie, and went in the store and got her Mountain Dew. Emily and Abigail and Aaron came over, and we watched, "Malificent", which was quite entertaining.

I was glad to see the girls open up and talk about it, and honestly...I think it strengthened the bonds between them. When you have so many daughters, they can get clique-y, Suzanne and Kathryn are extremely tight. So close, in fact, that Suze wanted Kathryn in the ambulance instead of me, which, ouch.

And now we are leaving for church...the girls are staying here though. Suze isn't ready to face the world, and the other girls are bruised and banged up a bit, sore...and just don't want to talk to everyone yet, they say.

Friday, November 28, 2014

and once again, you never know when you are going to end up in the emergency room....

Let me just say, first of all, that every one is all right. But what a day. Oh dear. These five girls wanted to go out and about, Black Friday Shopping. I vetoed leaving before dawn, but finally gave in and took them in the early afternoon. We went to Target and got a few things for our Secret Santas, then to Kohls...then they started rumbling about being hungry. I wanted to go to the fabric store and get some 70% off fabric...and I knew they would be bored silly in there and ask me if I was almost done a few hundred times, or start fooling around in I suggested they drop me off there and go to the mall right across the road and get a snack at the food court. Oh joy, they didn't mind doing that at all....I gave them a twenty dollar bill, and blissfully walked into the fabric of the only places I love going to all by my lonesome.

I picked out some of this and a little bit of that, and stood there waiting for my turn at the cutting table...when Evelyn and Kathryn came storming into the store shouting about an accident, a car crash....they were extremely loud and upset, so I left my cart there and left the store with them. Right on the highway near the store....there was our little Nissan, all smashed up, I kept asking if everyone was okay and they kept saying yeah, they thought so...then I saw Suzanne. Her face, it was all bloody, and she was in total shock. Her glasses were gone, and she looked like a zombie. Blood was streaming from her nose, and her face was all scraped up. I screamed for someone to call 911, and the lady in the car behind them shouted that she just did....

Let me say again that they are all okay. But at that moment, I did not know that. They were hit so hard that little car was dragged at least 300 feet from the intersection. The fire truck came, and then the ambulance, and the police. Questions and questions, and they were evaluating Suzanne....she had no idea where she was or how she got there, so they strapped her to the board and put her in the ambulance. I went with her. She is 13 years old. I had to go with her. The other girls were in varying degrees of hysterics. I'm sure their lives had flashed before their eyes, and seeing their sister all bloody was traumatic. I was torn, of course I had to go with Suze, but all of my Mom senses were screaming at me to comfort the other girls...Evelyn had called Paul, he was on his way, but we don't exactly live right next store to the mall, so it was going to be a while.

The police were still there, and the pizza shop man said they could wait in there. So off I went with Suze in the back of the ambulance, leaving half of my heart there with the other sobbing girls. If you think perhaps I over exaggerate this....nope.

Suzanne was in shock, she couldn't remember anything. She was trembling and shaking and crying for Kathryn. She kept asking if Kathryn was okay, and then saying she just woke up and thought she was having a bad dream, but could not remember going shopping at all.

Anyway...Emily was working at the hospital we went to, so she came down to visit us in the Emergency Room. Long story short: no broken bones, no stitches needed....the doctors told Suze she was a lucky girl, one of them whispered, "blessed girl". Her nose is very bruised and scraped...her face is scraped raw, and her neck is all raw from contact with the airbag.

But she walked out of there, and we are thankful. The car is gone, probably, but the girls are okay.

My feelings right now: the knowledge in the forefront of my consciousness that life is fragile. That others go through days like today and are not as fortunate. I am thankful my girls are okay. I love them to pieces, they are my life.

Our shopping loot is still in the car, we will go pick it up on Monday. It doesn't seem very important. Suzanne's glasses are somewhere, broken probably.

But we are home, and we are okay. And, we are thankful....


Thursday, November 27, 2014

happy thanksgiving!!!

Yesterday was Pie Day.

We made coconut cream, chocolate, pecan, pumpkin, apple, and lemon meringue.

Cam and Char made pumpkin pies with Margaret.

Jonathan made his own coconut cream pie, from scratch.

Joseph and Kathryn....

Ben, Mali, Sam won't be here today. Aaron will stop in before his night shift at the hospital. The other 12 are here already. There are 13 of us here in the living room right now, plus of course the two puppies and the two kitties. Paul has his guitar out, and the football game is on, muted so we can talk.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!!!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

yeah, just a little teeny tiny post....

This morning, I got up and got moving. You know, sweeping and doing dishes, feeding the puppies and letting them out. Scooping up the kitty kitten and hearing her purr under my chin, she being as glad to see me as I am to see her...I wrote out homework assignments, and brushed my tangly hair. We were in the car by 9:00 am to go to the library! First, however, I had to stop by the high school to drop off Margaret's project which she forgot to bring in.

I dropped kids off there, and headed over to the grocery store for some important things like fresh spinach, pretzels, grapefruit, dog food, kitty food, and kitten litter. I picked them back up, but they didn't want to go home yet, please Mom, let's go to Target. Okay, I guess so. I bought a few Christmas presents, some stocking stuffers, and we were on our way...almost. McDonalds, please, Mom, we're starving. They have no idea what STARVING is, but I gave in. I only had some coffee and four chicken nuggets. I have a love/hate relationship with that "food". It IS crap, no doubt about it. Salty fatty garbage. But it tastes so good....

Anyway, they each chose one thing from the dollar menu, plus they had a few nuggets, and one large fries for the whole vehicle, of which I only ate two.

Then...home. Ah, home. We put away the groceries, discussed schoolwork, and I put my feet up for a few minutes...then I headed over to school to pick up Sonja K., who was babysitting for my niece's twins and kindergartner with Suzanne while we went to work at the college basketball game. Home again for a few minutes...then over to drop them off at Susan's house, pick up Susan, and home again, to pick up Joseph, Kathryn, and Margaret, and on to the basketball game....

The game wasn't bad. At the end, we sometimes pack up the food and it is taken to the Rescue Mission for the homeless people. But some nights, it just gets thrown away. We aren't allowed to take it out of the Dome, it goes in the garbage. So...I put two pretzels in my purse to bring to the little kids...but we gave them to a homeless man pushing a shopping cart down the road. He seemed very grateful.

He wished us a Happy Holiday, and my niece said, "Happy Thanksgiving!", then clapped her hand over her mouth...that man doesn't have much of a chance of a happy Thanksgiving. The sad part is that he seemed mentally challenged, and it isn't fair that he fell through the cracks somehow and ended up out on a cold night, pushing a grocery cart with all his worldly goods in it.

I'm glad I broke the rules and those pretzels will fill his tummy instead of being at the bottom of the trash bag with the rest of the leftovers.

I am home now, obviously, and the house is quiet. Tomorrow is Pie Day, and Mali is coming over. We are having hummus and tortilla chips and queso cheese sauce and veggies, and some other snacks. Mali is a vegetarian, and since she can't be here on Thanksgiving because she's a nurse who doesn't have it off, I wanted to get her some things she would eat and enjoy.

And, we will be making pies.

Black Friday: I don't think I'll go out this year. I have already bought some stuff online, and there isn't that much I would want to go out into the crowds to buy. Years ago, I would look at all the ads, go into the 24 hour Walmart at like 4 a.m., fill the cart with stuff that I would price match from Toys R Us, and RiteAid and Walgreens. Then when Walmart's sale started, I would just send Abigail over to grab stuff while I waited with the cart. It seemed worth it, but the crowds have gotten bigger, and people seem pushier, although I honestly have had mostly good experiences with people on Black Friday trips.

I had an interesting experience this fine morning. I got up and was doing things, and Margaret was getting ready for school. She was just being herself, but I felt she was a bit rude. I was yakking about this weird dream I had (I dreamed that Emily bought us a huge amazing house, each room more spacious and lovely than the last, but the town it was in was so strange....there was a huge megaphone/sound system that played intermittent reminders for all sorts of things,it was like living in a vast airport (do not leave luggage unattended!), but it was mixed in with advertisements, like a really loud radio one couldn't change the channel of. In the dream, no one else minded this sound system. I was livid about it! I went to the town board and requested a meeting about it, and they just brushed me off and said there was no town meeting until at least next March, besides, everyone likes the megaphone!) (Why I have such weird dreams is beyond me) Anyway, I was telling Margaret about this dream, and she was basically ignoring me (but I do think I might be a tiny bit responsible for her forgetting her project)...and....and I felt like an idiot. I felt bad. Then Evelyn got up, and said something to me that I didn't appreciate....and oh, the thoughts that came flooding in! I am just sick and tired of being nice to everyone just so they can be mean to me! Done! No more!

Then Margaret texted and asked me to please bring her project in, she forgot it. And then I had this huge revelation! If I had been awake each and every time I had gotten offended at the way someone was toward me, and said NO to my own sin, and had overcome in each of those situations, then it wouldn't have snowballed into me feeling so hugely wronged! And surprise surprise, when she texted and I was tempted to say Too Bad Baby, guess what I heard clearly? not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good....(romans 12:21) Oh what a perfect opportunity to just bless and be good and forgive and forget!!!

But, I decided to talk to a few particular daughters of mine too, because they need to be more respectful, regardless.:)

Oh I do go is very very late, and I am very very tired...