summer 2011

summer 2011

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

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

Friday, January 31, 2014

and, you just never know....

So...Camille broke her arm. Not terribly badly, just a small break in the upper arm, but she also hurt her elbow, separated the bones a bit....see, she fell out of a tree. Um, where was the mom, you might ask? Well, the mom was the one who insisted they go out to play. Insisted. Turn off the computer, no more video games, get outside and build a snowman. How was I supposed to know they decided to climb a tree? Cam said the branch she stepped on was, "unstable". It broke. She fell, landed on her tummy.

So....a trip to Urgent Care, on a nice Friday night. She was a good girl. I told her if it was broke I would take her to McDonalds, so when the dr. came in and explained the xray, she was pretty pleased. Yeah, Bad Mom:)

So she is all tucked in now, and phew, I am glad my hair was clean!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

in which she cleans the house....

Oh, my life! I have always admired and envied those houses with large expanses of clutter-free floors, startlingly empty countertops, appliances and windows with no fingerprints, furniture with no socks or towels draping from it, bookcases with all the books actually placed vertically and perhaps even a shelf with gasp no books, but some lovely un-dusty decorative items.

I would like to have one of those houses. It seems just beyond my grasp, however. I can maybe get one room looking spiffy, then I look at the next room and sigh, then back at the one I just finish and I'll be darned if it isn't messy already. It just ain't in the cards. But I do try. As my son Aaron said, on my tombstone it will say, "She tried."

But today, I think I will just try a bit harder, just for the heck of it, to get the place really nice.

Paul is coming home tonight, yay! He has been gone quite long enough now. I just hope he misses me as much as I miss him, I think he does. He calls me every night:)

And perhaps I will take some before and after pictures of the place as I clean.....

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

keep on keeping on...

Whatever that's supposed to mean. I guess it means, "I'm not giving up." I'm not. I am not giving up in my weight-loss endeavor, because....I can't! I need to keep fighting, even if I am not seeing much in the way of results right now. Because giving up would mean gaining it all back, and I am not doing that.

I am not giving up this race of salvation, either. Sometimes I want to just run and hide. I wish I had this little secret bungalow I could hide out in and drink tea with my feet up, a soundproof bungalow, of course, so I couldn't hear everyone asking each other What's Wrong With Mom. I could go there and cry if my feelings were hurt, go there and sleep without seven people knocking on the door asking what I'm doing. Oh, Peace And Quiet is still the wished-for item on my list.

But anyway, off on a tangent, I am not giving up this race of salvation. If I am tempted to feel sorry for myself or get offended or just plain mad, too bad for me, I am not giving in. Life is too short, and I would rather spend my life being a help and an encouragement.

My point here is that for me, life doesn't just get easy when I have a good attitude. I still have to choose in each situation how I want to be. I know, I know, sometimes there is sadness, and it seems all I can do is just tread water. But there is still always a choice for me, whether I want to wallow or believe with all my heart that God sends things for my very best.

I would like to just give up on my house sometimes, too. And these girls of mine, love them dearly but they will be the death of me with their bickering! But it is a work in progress too. I can only be thankful that they can and do see themselves, and really try to get along, for the most part.

It's funny because I can talk the talk, but when it comes to walking the walk, there IS generally suffering involved. It doesn't just come naturally. But God gives strength to the bruised and wavering reed, and He hears my prayers.

Samuel and I took the two dogs to the vet this morning. Phew. Shots and pre-surgical bloodwork, expensive! Getting Suri spayed is cheaper than getting Duke neutered, but also because Duke has two growths the vet wants to remove at the same time. A needle aspiration on the one on his back confirmed it isn't just a fatty tissue growth, as labs are prone to. Oh my goodness how can people afford dogs?

But they sure are sweethearts. They were so good at the vet's office. Duke was examined first. Suri just watched. Then the vet told her it was her turn, and Suri turned around and slunk behind the chair, all that was showing was the leash and her tail. It was so funny. But I think she associates being there with her horrible accident and surgery. She gets so nervous.

Mali's car wouldn't start this morning, perhaps because of the cold. She was panicky because she had to get to class, so I let her borrow Paul's truck, since he is in France. She had class, then had to work. I was out grocery shopping with Suzanne....we went to McDonalds to get me a coffee, and Suzanne something hot to drink. I had a buy one get one free coupon, so we got a caramel frappe for Mali and stopped in and visited her...she works as a receptionist at a hotel. I hope it lifted her spirits a little to know we were thinking of her, and that her mama loves her. She tends to stress about a lot of stuff, poor girl.

Home again home again, jiggity jig.

The kids left for Activity club at church, just a few older ones here, it is quiet. In a little while they will come bounding back in the door, all chilly and silly, telling me about playing in the snow and making forts and doing crafts. Charlotte Claire and Camille are sleeping in my big comfy bed again tonight, we will have some stories when I tuck them in. I will hate getting them up and sending them to school tomorrow, I already know that.

The days are flying just two weeks, Emily and Evelyn will leave for their vacation in Jamaica, courtesy of Emily, who is a nice big sister. Sam will leave for Basic Training the following week (he says I cannot call it, "Boot Camp".). I was looking at vacations, Dominican Republic, Jamaica....but Paul is leaving for two week spans like every month, and planning something with him is almost impossible with his schedule. Our 30th anniversary is coming up, so we should probably go on a nice trip, right?

I guess when the weather is this cold, sand and sun start sounding heavenly. This weekend, the temperature is going to climb into the 30's (one degree celsius), and it will seem like spring here in central New York state. I am guessing we will see the guys in their gym shorts, and people driving with their windows down:)

If it's not obvious, I am running out of things to say.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

waking up to good things....

Mirielle is a nurse. She works at a small-ish hospital in a small city up north. She works the night shift. So when she gets a night off, she stays up, of course, because she has to sleep during the day so she can stay on schedule. I tried to stay up with her last night, I did try. But after my extremely short night the previous night, I was too tired and only watched part of the movie. When I woke up this morning, I saw....Paleo pumpkin muffins! yay! Nice and moist and pleasingly un-sweet.

It's nice to wake up to good things. On Sunday at church we heard a bit about the thoughts we think when we wake up in the morning. Oh, it's going to be a long day. And so on. Seriously, no one really likes to get out of their comfy bed and start the day, especially people like me who like the quiet of the night so much and stay up too late on a regular basis, making mornings even more challenging. But. The thoughts that I give in to can really set the tone for my day. When I believe that God only sends what is for my very best, and I decide to be thankful for all things, then I am prepared for a great day.

Of course there is a season for everything, and some trials are extremely challenging....but I am learning that when I trust God then too, things go well for me. One can never go wrong by being thankful.

Tomorrow, I am bringing both Suri and Duke to the vet. Suri is having pre-surgery bloodwork to be spayed, Duke is having some shots and will be evaluated to see if he is too old to be neutered. I know it will be costly, but we love these dogs, and don't want to see Suri go through another pregnancy, even though she would probably be fine. They are good dogs around the house, but taking them out to the vet...together....I hope they don't pull our arms off and bark at everyone. I could have made separate appointments but the vet is too far away. So hopefully those two will behave themselves.

Paul will be home on Thursday!

And, now I shall go and start on my housework. No matter how much I prepare myself, I always find lots of complaining when I clean the house. Ugh, the things I find! I mean, seriously? Spoons under the couch? How many double A batteries can we own? Barrettes and pennies and stray socks under the couch....when I wash the dishes, I scrub the mugs that held tea or coffee or cocoa, and wonder why they can't just rinse them when they put them in the sink, like I asked them to a million times? And for heaven's sake, if you brush your teeth, rinse out the sink! Hang up your sweatshirt! Who left candy wrappers on the computer table? A banana peel on the coffee table? really? And don't even get me started about asking who did it, no one did. So yes, I am aware that I will get tempted to much grumbling today. And all the reasons may be perfectly legit, but in spite of that, I will get victory today! I will remain thankful, and let God do a work in me!

Monday, January 27, 2014

staying up late into the night....

I know I shouldn't. If I was smart I would just head right to bed now. But apparently I am not that smart. Samuel has hooked up his tv, which is better than the family one which is getting old and is too dark in the dark parts, first world probs. He is all finished with school, and he wants to watch this movie called, "Warrior". Mirielle doesn't work tonight, but she has to stay up anyway and sleep tomorrow so she can work tomorrow night, so she is watching it too.

Sam is getting ready to ship out to basic training in a few weeks. He worked out twice today, and is eating healthy.

We ran out of propane again, but this time it was refilled in just a few hours, not the almost two days it took last time. I told the lady on the phone that there were still eleven kids living here, and we go through it fast. The dryer runs, the showers, the baking...then the hot water heater had to be re-lit, so I did it myself. I know, no biggie, but hey, if Paul were here, he would have done it.

I miss Paul.

I enjoyed out snow day. Evelyn helped me clean off the bookshelves, we had tea, and took a quick trip to the small store in town for some easy dinner that didn't have to be cooked or baked, since our propane was still out. The little girls, who do not get bored, played and played and played. They have already stated that they don't want to go to school tomorrow:)

This isn't my kind of movie, but guess what? I am too distracted to write all the good stuff that was swirling around in my head.... (Martha, you are more than welcome to venture into my snowy driveway anytime you want. I can't promise a clean house, but I will make you a nice cup of coffee:).

snow day!!!!

NO school today! Officially, not just one of my I Miss My Kids days. There is tea being brewed, and coffee being served...Jonathan is refilling my cup for me right now:) There are video games being played, and silly songs and stories and Evelyn is cleaning the princesses' room, which somehow got messy again even though the last time I cleaned it I vowed it never would.

My ear hurts today. I think I might take a trip to the drug store to get some decongestants and nasal spray, as per self-diagnosis on internet sites. I don't have a fever, or a stuffy nose, but my sinuses are backed up and one of my ears feels like I am underwater, it is just plain clogged up. I have tried all sorts of things to clear it. I am a bit dizzy, and tired, too, but that might have something to do with staying up way too late last night finishing a book. Yesterday afternoon, I had the beginnings of a migraine...lights flashing so much in one eye that I couldn't even function. I took two ibuprofen, drank a huge cup of water, and almost was sick to my stomach, the headache started....I took another ibuprofen, and went to bed. After a two hour nap, I felt a bit better, headache was headed off with the ibuprofen. But blah. I didn't work out, and don't feel like I can today. Too dizzy.

But. All this doesn't mean I am miserable. Far from it. I love having the kids home, and I love that Paul is coming home this week. He was gone for half of January, half of December, half of November, and lots of weeks on and off before that. I must admit, I like knowing he is coming home, and looking forward to it, but having him gone...I worry he will get used to being gone, used to living a different exciting life. I worry he will get home and we will all be ordinary and boring. Okay, I don't actually really worry all this, but it does cross my mind.

I cannot wait to see him again. When he comes home, the older kids act all shocked and disgusted when Paul and I hug each other and smile at each other and raise our eyebrows...they say that Mom and Dad are acting like teenagers again. But I think really like it that their parents still love each other, it gives them security, and it is most certainly a good example. The thing is, we definitely have an attraction to one another, but we are still such good friends because of the grace of God. I think people equate living a Godly life with rules and strictness and no fun, but it absolutely the opposite. Keeping one's thoughts pure, not having demands on others, saying NO to anxious thoughts....being free from the reign of freedom! Freedom to enjoy life without being bound to anger and worry and bitterness...and that good old Feeling Sorry For Myself spirit.

Friday, January 24, 2014


It was zero degrees(-17c) this morning when the kids got on the bus. It has warmed up! The temperature should be rising a bit today, but the wind will pick up, so it will still be cold. Tomorrow, more snow, more wind....

My coffee got cold before I even drank it this fine chilly morning. That can only mean one thing: I need another cup.

Mirielle, my nocturnal nurse daughter, made muffins in the night. Healthy ones, with almond flour and coconut and bananas and craisins....and chocolate chips in some of them. With coffee, oh yum. Even cold coffee.

I rather like a few things about the freezing weather, or, "The Polar Vortex", which is the new name for really cold weather that always comes and goes in January. I like that the dogs go out, run around, do their business, and come bounding back up the steps. No running off to the neighbors for them, no, they are smart enough to come in out of the cold. I like the coziness too, and how good a hot cup of tea is in the evening.

This morning as the older kids were getting ready for school, we were talking about the Going Off The Road incident of last evening. Apparently they were going very slow down a big hill, and started to slide. There is a huge embankment on one side, but they spun around, across the other lane, and went off the road into a snowbank, missing a ditch and the guardrail. As soon as she lost control, one of them started crying....when she got out to inspect the damages and try to dig out with a snowbrush, she heard her sisters laughing hysterically in the truck, probably glad they were alive, knowing them. A nice guy with a town snowplow also showed up, and helped Thomas get them out. All's well that ends well, I guess. A few more gray hairs for the mama though.

So it's Friday, the weekend is welcome! There has been a good spirit here in our house this week, as we seemed to have gotten closer through some different trials. We always have a choice when "bad" things happen...we can either blame and get bitter, or we can walk in the light and acknowledge our own sin, saying a resounding NO to bad thoughts. God would not send it if we couldn't get victory in it.

Life goes on, there are Nerf guns all over my livingroom (love homeschooling Jon!), there are clothes in the washer and dryer, dishes in the sink, and now Kathryn and Jon are up and we need to get some stuff done....

Thursday, January 23, 2014

again with the dreaded phone call....

All is fine. But darn it, when that phone rings, and the daughter who is out and about in the bad weather says, "Mom?".....oh I hate it. She is fine. She went off the road on the same hill as her sister did several years back, and her brother just a few years ago. Scared the heck out of her and her two sisters who were passengers, but she is fine. We did learn a few things, mainly that I need to stick to my guns, I didn't think she should be driving tonight, yet off she went. Bad Mom Award.

My niece who has the twins also has a very nice husband. He towed her out. I owe him some homemade meatballs, and like a million bucks. If I had called TripleA, I would have had to be there, because this daughter doesn't have her own card. Perhaps I should just add her on for like $30 bucks...

Anyway, never a dull moment. We went for our eye exams, and ordered new glasses. I avoided the dreaded bifocals, just reading glasses again for me, but stronger, as my arms just aren't long enough anymore.

We went into Target, and I put several things in the cart then put them back, like boots for next year for the little girls. I know I'll kick myself next year, but how do you cut down on spending if you buy everything that's a good deal and smart and practical and pretty and appealing?:} I did let Suze get a jacket and some pants, Margaret got some boots and a sweater, Kathryn got a few things. I got two shirts for $3.88 each....everything we got was 70% off, but it still adds up.

Then on to the grocery store for oranges and bananas and milk and butter and a few other things.

Home, ahh home...then the dreaded phone call, then it took way too long for her to get home after she got towed out. I was worried, as she has no phone, ugh. She needs a phone if she is going to be driving.

Honestly though, except for majorly inconveniencing poor Thomas, who had to go out in the freezing cold to rescue her, I am glad it happened. Actions speak louder than words, out of context I know, but still. I can tell her 'til I'm blue in the face about how slippery the roads are, but when one slides out of control, one learns. One of her sisters told me they were terrified a car was going to hit them as they lost control, and that they would slide right down the embankment.

Funny thing: they called me from a house nearby, which happened to be where one of the lunch ladies from school lives. It's a good thing they went off near a house, being so cold out.

The dogs are snoring, and Mirielle is trying in vain to stay awake. It is her morning, now that she is nocturnal for work. She is covered with a blanket on the couch, and we have the space heater on, which hums and makes us all drowsy.

I am glad to be home, all comfy cozy, and ready for bed. I had a great day with the girls, and the little ones had fun with Emily and Abigail...they came home all loud and silly, trying to talk over each other about all the fun they had at Emily's house. They are all tucked into my bed tonight, Jon had a turn last night and they camped out on my floor.


cold cold sunshine....

I officially learned this morning that it can snow on a brilliantly sunny day, snow can fall from a clear blue sky. I am no scientist, obviously, so I won't bother trying to explain it, but it can happen, and this morning, it did. The conditions were right, the temperature and wind speed and moisture level in the lower atmosphere...and voila! Snow that looked like diamonds, floating through the blue sky.

Of course I have to make a correlation here: some of the best things in life come in the midst of trials, or as a result of enduring faithfully through a trial.

My house isn't spotless this morning, but I worked in the kitchen for two hours. Just cleaning and shining, washing some dishes, wiping down appliances. I swept and cleaned the floors, straightened the living room, did some laundry. It would be more satisfying if I knew it would last, but tomorrow, same old same old.

This afternoon I have to pick kids up from school for eye appointments. Margaret, Suzanne, and I have check-ups. The little girls are going to Emily's house on the bus, which they were SO excited about.

Yesterday, I met my niece's little newborn, Vivienne Rose. She is absolutely beautiful. I got to hold her a few times, and oh, she is sweet. Being at the hospital where I gave birth sixteen times (plus Robert), brought back many memories. Things have changed, it is updated and really nice, but some of the same nurses are there, and the one on duty last evening remembered me.

As I washed the dishes this morning and marveled at the snow falling in the sunshine, I thought about warm places and vacations and camping and just walking around the yard in bare feet. I thought of how nice the sunshine feels on my skin. (I read a study recently that suggests that spending small increments of time in the sunshine lowers blood pressure, which could account for why heart disease is more prevalent in northern countries, and raises the concern that people trying to avoid skin cancers (which are rarely fatal), can be unknowingly putting themselves at higher risks for cardiovascular disease, which is much more dangerous. Interesting! And it makes me feel better about baking in the sunshine! Doesn't it sound nice about now? The forecast: cold. snow. more cold. more snow. some wind with snow. more cold. Saturday should be warmer, up to 25 degrees (3.8c), but the wind will be strong, with lake effect snow.

The gutter is falling off the back of the house, and under the kitchen sink is leaking. It makes me rather thankful that earth isn't my real home:)

My thoughts are all over the place this morning. I am talking to Jon, and drinking coffee, and planning what I have to do before I leave the out, take the clothes out of the dryer, plan the dinner, take a shower, and I hour. oops, bye!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

in the midst of the freeze....

There is warmth and hope. I am amazed at how much I can love each and every one of my kids, each of them with my whole heart. When one of them is hurting, I suffer with them. What is equally amazing is the love they have for each other, they who can also bicker and fight like cats in a sack. Because when it comes right down to it, they truly care for one another.

My head does spin. I feel intense Mommy Guilt, I can't keep up with all the needs. But I will die trying:)

I am convinced that no matter what, the absolutely best way to live is to forgive, forgive again, and be good. And to be thankful. I know I have to be an example to my kids, that's a lot of pressure. I can talk and talk, but if I don't walk the walk, they are not stupid. So it presses me, again and again, to not give in to selfishness, to take a stand against backbiting, to give thanks, to endure temptation, to not argue....and it is a good life! Life isn't getting what you want, it is taking all things from God's hand, knowing it was perfectly planned.

And, I miss Paul. He has been gone since Saturday, and it is starting to really set in, the missing him. Now, don't get me wrong, it isn't always exactly easy-peasy to get along with Paul. We are SO different. He is a go-getter, Mr. Responsible. No excuses. And I, I am as lazy as the day is long. I fight against that, but oh my goodness, I am different than he is. He doesn't procrastinate on a regular basis. I am a talker, he is doesn't care for the boring details. We have our challenges. But we totally respect each other, and we are every bit in love with each other as we were 30+ years ago. (Our 30th wedding anniversary is in March). We talk about things, we agree on all the important things, and don't sweat the small stuff.

We both are full of hope for our kids. When any of them struggle, we both feel it. I love how we encourage each other to hold fast in faith when the trials come, when things happen that we didn't expect, that we don't understand. It is a huge blessing to have a husband who is a true partner when it really matters.

Okay. It is cold out. It was minus 14 this morning (-25c). I didn't send the little girls again. It is just too cold. Tomorrow, I will send them if it is warmer. It has been pleasant to have them home. They play school and write absence excuses for their dolls:) They do fine in school though, they keep up with their homework, and are doing well.

I love the crockpot in the winter. I put chicken breasts in there this morning with three cans of cream of chicken soup, and some spices, lots of pepper, some water. By the time it was served, it was shredded up, and the soup was like gravy. Served with potatoes and veggies, yum and easy. There is enough left for soup tomorrow, too.

I am tired, and am starting to ramble now...blah.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

homeschooling fun.....

Jonathan is measuring things for math. Suri is four feet long, he says. She just looks at me with that See What I Put Up With face, sighs, and goes back to sleep.

It is cold here today, very cold. The snow has stopped falling, and the sun is shining on it. It is 1 degree right now ,with wind chill, it is -12. It is chilly in here, too. My coffee got cold before I finished it:)

Sebastian and Linnea (two-year old twins), and William, 4, are coming over in a little while to play while their mama goes to the hospital to visit my sister's new granddaughter. My sister has seven daughters, three are married, two are engaged. She has six grandchildren now. This new one is the first for her daughter Janet and her husband Joe, her name is Vivienne. Janet is the same age as Mirielle, they grew up together and are good friends. Anyway, Susan is dropping her kids off here for a bit to visit her new niece.

Yesterday the kids had the day off from school, so I took the little girls over to the rec. center to swim. We stayed in that water for a really long time, almost an hour and a half. They were already tired because their cousin Danielle spent the night Sunday night, they stayed up too late and got up too early. Char and Camille's room was already pretty messy, as they have too many toys, but oh my goodness...they played dress-up and dollies, which required getting out five or six strollers. Sam said, "You kids get out here and watch some t.v., you have been playing nicely for way too long."

After the pool, my sister-in-law came over with her two youngest kids for a bit. Some lunch, some coffee while they played...

Samuel wanted to go see the movie, "The Lone Survivor". He was supposed to go with his friends last week, but there was a miscommunication, and they went without him. So I took him last night, with Kathryn. Samuel had read the book, so I already knew a lot about is, since Sam likes to talk about what he's reading. I was hesitant to see it, because of the intense sadness. It was based on a true story of four Navy Seals who fought in Afghanistan, and, only one survived to tell the story. Sam thought it stayed true to the book for the most part. We all were wiping away tears. I think I was the saddest, knowing that Sam is leaving. I know he is no seal, but he is Army Infantry, so he will most likely see some action somewhere. I don't know how he can watch a movie like that and STILL want to ship out to boot camp, but then, I am his mom:)

We did enjoy the movie, if one can "enjoy" watching a doomed mission unfold. It's like one someone writes on Facebook that their grampa just died, and it gets 34 "likes".

But we enjoyed out time together, and talking about it on the way home. When we left the theater, it was so bitterly cold out, I couldn't stop shivering. I think it was partly the emotion of the movie. We stopped at McDonalds for hot decaf coffee for the ride home.

Joseph had watched the younger kids for me, as all the other older girls went to girls' fellowship at Emily's house. The sink was overflowing with dishes, and there were toys everywhere. Oh well. The kids were happy though. They said that Joe was really nice to them. That's the important thing.

The princesses stayed home from school today. It was simply too cold to send them. It was below zero, and they are so little. Just because the state/school/district/powers-that-be think it's okay for small children to be out and about in extremely cold weather doesn't mean it's smart. The older kids have more sense, and don't worry me as much.

When they woke up, Camille wasn't feeling well, but is fine now. I think she was sore from swimming yesterday. She felt all achy, and was rooted to the couch in her snuggy blanket. But believe me, they were pretty thrilled to be home today!

Jonathan has abandoned his math and is making smoothies for them all, oops. He loves learning about weather, he thinks it's funny that it is 18 in Oslo, and only 1 here. He said it's 41 in Paris, so it's not that cold for Dad. So he IS learning stuff:)

Sunday, January 19, 2014

good fun things....

Today was the activity club kick-off party, for church. A.C. is for the kids, run by the older kids/youth, for the younger kids. We rented a gym, full of gymnastic equipment and trampolines. Oh the fun....Miss Char can do a split on the balance beam.

Jon didn't get bored at all:)

It was just Kathryn's thing, she is really into gymnastics.

These two always make me smile....well, unless they are puking or rolling in yucky stuff. Or chewing on Camille's pink plastic ice cream cone, or a Barbie's foot.

It just tickles me somehow that my oldest child, Emily, is closer to my age than she is to my youngest, Camille....Em and I are 19 years apart, she and Camille are 22. Here is Emily with Camille, while we sang Happy Birthday yesterday....

Working at the Dome is a good fun thing. The Syracuse men's basketball team is amazing this year, again. They are 17-0, so far. Over 30,000 fans packed the stadium yesterday, and it was LOUD. I was thankful to be able to watch a few plays:)

Coming home after working at the Dome...oh tiredness. It is a concrete floor, and after the long hike up the hill and up all the steps to get in building, then stand on me feetsies for hours....we can take a few quick breaks, but there is no place to the time I get home after a Dome, oh dear I am done for. We had a little party for Em last night after the game, I was so thankful I had but beef in the crockpot in the morning. I had also bought two nice fresh loaves of Italian bread, so we had barbecued beef (I had no bread, no cupcake, no ice cream...but dang it I had chocolate. Again. rrrrr.)We also had sliced cucumbers and celery and carrots and broccoli.

Anyway, I enjoy my girls, well of course ALL of my kids, but my older girls are amazing.

So after our A.C. party today, I only had THREE kids with me, and one of them was my niece Danielle. Jonathan went home with his friend Toby, and Emily and Abigail and the other older youth girls from church took some of the younger girls out to eat. Margaret, Kathryn, Evelyn, Suzanne, and Sonja got to go. Anyway, in my van, three little girls. I took them to the grocery store. They got to pick out some candy, and we got some tiny cones for ice cream. We stopped after that for a few pizzas, because they are having a sleepover! They got to watch a movie in my bed with the electric blanket on while we watched, "Downton Abbey", out here. They are now all tucked into the bunkbeds, and fooling around like crazy.

It is cold out, getting colder. Tomorrow the temperature will be slipping down towards ten degrees (-12 C) by evening, then even lower for the rest of the week....highs in the single digits, lows near zero. brr. Tomorrow, some wind and snow too. Winter is back! It is all fresh and white and snowy and cold again.

The kids don't have school tomorrow in observance of Martin Luther King Day. We plan to stay home and play WII dance, have a tea party, and perhaps play outside for a bit. Sam wants to go play airsoft with his friends....

Sam...oh dear Sam. I am deeply sad that he is leaving, and that has nothing to do with worrying about his or wondering how he will function in the Army. I will just plain miss him. He is my friend, he is funny and he is kind...for example, a few weeks ago, after several of us worked at a basketball game, we left in the cold...Mirielle walked slower with me while everyone else moved along ahead of us, it was bitterly cold and no one wanted to be out in that wind....but Sam came all the way back to offer me his arm, because the sidewalk was slippery going down the hill. I was just so amazingly thankful for his thoughtfulness. He can be a stinker sometimes, but he has a great big soft heart. (he was talking to his friend on Saturday, right in front of me, about the time his friend had spilled something all over Sam's new sneakers, and told his friend how I had said, "Well, he should pay for them then!". I about died. Sam, what the heck?) Anyway. Sam thought it was funny. He took Jon to a few stores the other day and bought him two video games and lots of airsoft pellets, plus a nice pair of safety goggles.

He only has four days of school left. Four days. All these years of school melted away like nothing, and I can remember him as a kindergartner. He was always taller than his classmates, plus he was six when he started, as his birthday is in August, and at five, he was just too...well, too...little. Too sweet, and kind, just too good for this world. He was smart, he used to count the tractor-trailers on the Thruway when we drove the 35 minutes to visit my parents...when we got there, he would say, "Gramma, 134 trucks today." But he was in his own little world most of the time. He could lie down on the floor with some trucks and play for hours. He didn't need more to do, or a social life, because he was simply never bored. When he did go to school, he did fine. He has this knack for getting the gist of people, and he makes the funniest jokes. And he seems immune to others' teasing. It just doesn't get to him.

So he is leaving next month, and he is watching all the football he can, playing his video games, enjoying life. He is going to pack up all his books and maybe bring them to Emily's attic. The girls are fighting over his room, wah. I would rather leave it so he can still have a place when he comes home on leave, but around here, an empty room....well, no way.

So the sadness is building up in me about Sam leaving. Because he is leaving as a kid, and when he comes home....he will be a grown-up. He will still have his soft heart, but it will be more hidden in a toughness. He will have seen some of the world, met lots of people, he'll see our house through different eyes. He won't feel like he belongs here so much, he will be too big for our house, like Ben seems to be when he comes home.

I know change has to come, they grow up and change and leave. I wish I could be all calm and cool and detached about it. But that boy is taking a piece of my heart with him.

Do you know what he did to me the other day? We went to the big dreaded mall in the big city, and he kept bugging about getting something to eat in from the foodcourt. Now, I don't like to eat mall food, nor do I like to spend money on food I can make better at home...we hadn't been gone that long, and I already had chicken marinating in the fridge at home. I promised him orange ginger chicken and rice and veggies. He kept asking for fast food. He wanted to stop on the way home, please, Mom. I persisted in saying that we would eat at home. He said, "But what if I die?" Sorry, but that's playing dirty. I said, "Oh no, don't do that to me. I am not going to stop at Subway, no sir. Don't you dare do that to me, Mister." He thought he was funny, and he was only half bugging, to get the food, he said he would be okay eating the "crappy chicken" I always make. Yeah, he's a funny kid:)

Paul is in France again, we dropped him off at the airport yesterday. He texted me pictures of the lovely little town he is staying in, of an old cathedral, of a bakery window full of treats. I am truly happy he enjoys himself there and appreciates his travels. Can I be truly happy AND jealous at the same time? Jealous that I am not enjoying it with him? Jealous that I am not there with him while he is so happy about seeing new places and learning the language and trying new food? That's the clincher, I don't get to experience that joy with him. So much of our life together is the drudge work - the fixing of kids' problems and the house problems and paying bills and appointments, figuring out why the dishwasher isn't getting the dishes clean enough and why the washing machine leaks ....he is only home a few hours each evening, usually, and the weekends are usually filled with going to the Dome, our life together is good, it is nice, but it isn't wonderous and interesting, at least compared to exploring French villages and German towns. It's not that I am being eaten alive by jealousy, nor am I miserable about it. I am still enjoying my days, and my kids, and my lot in life. I stayed up with Mirielle way too late last night, as she is nocturnal now since she works nights...she had the night off last night, so I stayed up with her until I couldn't see straight. I have a good life, no doubt about that. It's just that I really really like Paul. I like him when he's tucking the kids in and fixing the stove and asking me not to spend so much money. I really do. But the Exploring France Paul seems like a Paul I would like to be with:)

Ah well though, life has it's trials.

And it's not as if I am bored. Oh no, not me.

I am just trying to get out of this winter rut. Emily's starting to train to be in a triathalon in the summer. I am inspired to pretend I am going to be in one too, and get moving more! I stayed away from chocolate today, and didn't have any of the pizza I bought tonight. I made some chili, and ate it without any rice or tortilla chips. I did have some popcorn tonight, but not too much.

And at the A.C. party today, just an orange. Nary a crumb of the cinnamon streusal cake I made for it, nor the stacks of cookies that were there.

This post is far too long and boring, I am tired and rambling.

Friday, January 17, 2014

and....a new day begins!

The small window of quiet between getting seven kids out the door to school, and Mirielle coming in from work is over, she just pulled into the driveway. She works the night shift at the hospital, and sleeps during the day. I will chat with her for a few minutes, then Jonathan will be up. Kathryn cooked breakfast for the school kids before hunkering down with her books.

Mirielle is heading to bed now, and Jon is still sleeping, so it is quiet once again. I love hearing about Mirielle's work, though of course she never tells me specifics, per the patient confidentiality laws.

I am picking the princesses up early from school today. Char tried to negotiate for 1:00, but I stuck to 2:00, even though I initially was going to get them at 3:00, so I guess Char is brilliant.

Mirielle is picking up her car this afternoon. Paul and I and Jonathan will go with her, then Paul and I can drive home alone, just a little time together because he is leaving tomorrow. Jon, of course, will ride with Mirielle:) He always gets to go when someone gets a new car.

And, I lost two pounds. Now, I want to get truthful about this weight-loss journey/new lifestyle thing. It isn't easy. I lost 70+ pounds, but have gained almost 20 back. And this is with being careful, it's not like I just totally ditched the whole thing. So now I am working to get back down there, plus all the extra I haven't lost yet. It is not easy. I don't eat bread or cereal anymore, have my oats with blueberries or apples only occasionally. I am getting back to being strict in the evenings, sticking to just tea, and chewing sugarless gum if I find I really want to eat something bad. Yesterday I was in the store for milk, and had Samuel and Kathryn and Jonathan with me. I told them they could get a Cookie-wich, which is two giant chocolate chip cookies with ice cream in the middle, and yes, they are almost to die for. There were also smaller ice cream sandwiches, and nutty cones....I was sorely tempted, started reasoning things out...then finally just said NO. Then, at the register, I picked up a small Swiss Chocolate bar, and bought it. Yay, a chunk broke off and fell on the floor when I opened it on the way home. I took one bite, then passed it out to the kids. phew. It is never easy.

But I do have a vision, I want to feel better, I want to be able to move better, I want my knees to not hurt as bad. And if I am going to have replacement surgery sometime, the smaller I am, the better I will fare. I don't want my blood pressure going up, and I don't want to get type II diabetes. So it isn't about vanity, it's about quality of life.

But all the visions in the world mean nothing if I can't say NO when I am tempted to eat something I shouldn't.

Ahh, cake and cupcakes and ice cream and peanutbutter cups and chocolate with almonds, why do I love thee so?

Chips and fries and big greasy pizza slices, will you ever cease to call my name?

And bread, oh luscious bread, slathered with butter....just shut up, okay?

Anyway. Yesterday I made the girls whole wheat toast with real butter and honey, served with mugs of milk. They are picky princesses, and weren't sure how they felt about the honey. They finished off most of their toast, but each left some on the plates (they are not their mother's daughters!). Let's just say that throwing those toast pieces in the garbage wasn't on my list of Fun Things To Do.

Anyway. My obsession with all things yummy can be beaten, it can be dealt with, one temptation at a time, and I know I can do it. It WILL involve suffering, and we people don't really like to suffer, we want it and we want it NOW.

So Paul is leaving again tomorrow, and I am sad. Honestly, this time is different. I am glad that he likes his job, and that he gets to do some adventuring. But ouch, not without me! This sadness is just bleak and the two weeks before me stretch like grayness. It just hurts a little that for me it is sad, and for him it is....not sad. Although I do know he will miss me too, it doesn't really help. Now don't worry, I am not going to wallow and cry a river and throw a pity party. And I will enjoy reading late into the night without disturbing his sleep.

So the day marches on, and here I sit. Tomorrow my oldest "child" turns 29. We are working at the Dome after dropping Paul off at the airport (he goes to Paris, I go to the Dome, wah.) I am hoping to do something birthday-y and fun after the Dome with the birthday girl.

Oh what the heck, I may as well reminisce about what it was like when Emily was born....

We were so young. Paul was 22 and I was 19. Back then, one didn't have routine sonograms, so we didn't know what we were having. To the hospital we went, when those contractions were five minutes apart, we learned that in our childbirth class. We learned how to breathe through those contractions, too, ha. Emily was a stubborn baby, she was transverse. My labor progressed, I dilated to 10 somehow, even though I was IN BED, as per how they did things back then....and the dr. said the baby just had to come out, but was still transverse. He had me sign all the paperwork for a c-section just in case his alternate plan didn't work, which was a huge episiotomy and forceps. He found her little skull with those big tongs, grabbed it, and pulled her out. I wasn't awake for the fun, I was under anesthesia, gas, which dulled the sensations, causing terrible hallucinations...I snapped out of it, and opened my eyes to Paul sitting there crying. I asked, of all things, what time it was. I remember looking at the clock, it was almost ten p.m. She had been born at 9:53. He said, "We have a little girl first." I said, "First? Seriously? First?" I couldn't get beyond that, I just couldn't imagine having MORE. I was still disoriented when I first held her, more wondering how I got ink all over my hands, then I looked at her. She was perfect. More than perfect. I know I cried. Paul couldn't stop crying.

Emily was adorable. I spoiled her as rotten as I could, holding her and dressing her like a little doll, taking her for walks every day, feeding her on demand, oh she was the bestest baby in the world.

She grew into the smartest, sweetest little thing. Paul always teased her and told her she couldn't turn five, she had to stay four. At four, she could read and tell time. She had a huge attention span, and asked me once why all the angels were named Harold. (glory to the newborn king).

Emily has been the most blessed daughter a mom could ever ask for. She has grown up to be a giver, and a nurturer. She understands Evelyn's strong need for library books, and takes her there when she can. She understands the girls' need to get out of the house sometimes, so she takes them places. She is so good to her sister Mali, who lives with her. Being with her is not like being with one's child, but with one's friend. And I know I could have been a better mother to her. She was the first child, she had to drink all her juice and eat all of her vegetables. She had to take a nap, even if she wasn't tired. She had to wear those braids and skirts, and no scary movies for her. I even pre-read all her books, until I gave up because I couldn't keep up with her anymore:) (I once threw out a Ramona Quimby book when Emily was like four, because Ramona was not a good example, ouch)

So Emily, I am sorry for all the mistakes I made raising you. I am thankful for the responsibility you felt for the younger ones, and for all the times you babysat when you would rather have been up in a tree somewhere with a book. I am thankful for the meals you made when things were crazy, and for the words of steady wisdom beyond your years, when I needed them most.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

things that make me smile.....

Emily Anne makes me smile. We went to a few thrift stores...she scored badminton rackets for activity club, and a North Face backpack for four bucks.

She did not, however, score this ingenious Cat Teaser, because the box was filled with greeting cards, which wasn't a MAJOR disappointment, but....we were intrigued that not only was this item actually invented, but that the price was marked down to $17.48 at Target, and someone paid that much for it. So only the box ended up at the thrift store, the cat must love it's Cat Teaser.

I bought a few books, including, "The Imitation Of Christ", by Thomas a'Kempis, for three cents. A few sweaters, a plastic French Horn, which Em did not believe I was really buying, and a little wooden doll cradle.

Also, a large orange handbag for Abigail, who loves the color orange.

It was refreshing and encouraging to spend some time with Emily. Life isn't always sunshine and roses, but she has the right attitude, and whoever trusts in Him will not be put to shame. She dwells not on the difficulties in life, but on how God can teach us through our trials. No one is exempt from hardship, but everyone gets to choose how they will take their situations. Each thought that comes into my head, I get to choose whether I agree with or not. It's easy to blame another person, or the idiot in front of me, or the rude cashier...but MY reaction is MY choice. Being with someone who chooses, day in, day say NO to negative thoughts, to say NO to the sinful temptations, say NO to just plain nice.

After Kathryn and Jonathan get their work done, we are going on a field trip. Where? We haven't decided. But it is going to be fun! I am going to look up a few places and we will decide.

That is another thing that makes me smile: being spontaneous.

Also, the dogs. They are so funny! Duke is so affectionate, one can't dislike him. I am trying to teach them that when we tell them to Be Quiet, it means to actually stop barking when someone pulls in to the driveway. Duke operates on praise so wonderfully! If he stops barking for just a second, I pat him and praise him, he will just lie down and wag his tail. He is just so good. Suri is more exuberant, and takes a bit longer to obey. But they are just so good and sweet and nice.

Kitty also makes me smile. He spies me sitting here, and starts purring as he walks toward me, jumps up, makes himself at home, takes a bath, purring all the time....he is just a cuddler.

Matched socks, an empty sink, a full refrigerator, and a couch without a pile of clothes on it...these are a few of my favorite things.

Clean floors, the washer and dryer humming, a good book...

One of my very favorite things is planning outings or trips. Camping trips, vacations, or just a spur of the moment thing like what we end up doing today.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

happy day!

Why is today a happy day, you might ask? Well, I am alive and well, and I am going out and about with Emily Anne, my oldest daughter. Her car is in the shop, so she needs to be picked up. (Apparently, she had a little accident last week, on one of those freezing cold slippery commutes to work, she spun out and hit the guardrail on the highway, thankfully no one came along and hit her while she faced the other way in all the traffic....)

So in a half hour or so, we are going. Kathryn is doing her school work, I have to get Jon going on his stuff.

I am so distracted! Kitty has jumped up here twice, all purring and cuddling, Suri loves kitty so she came over, wagging and putting her cute face up here to be pet. Evelyn and Suzanne are here today because the special college classes they were included in for a few days were terribly boring, according to them, and they would be missing regular classes anyway. So Evelyn is telling me her dream, and Jon is eating his breakfast.

Oh the logistics of having lots of older kids....Samuel has to go to his recruiting office this afternoon, overlapping the time that the rest of the kids have activity club, Paul won't be home yet with the truck, and the big van is taking a much needed vacation, meaning that SOMEONE never got it inspected, so it sat there too long and now...won't start. oops.

Evelyn's iPod is in trouble, it is locked and the password won't work, so she wants me to take her to the Apple store. She also needs to go to the library. Suze wants more yarn like yesterday, because she is knitting and crocheting everything, teaching herself from watching videos. Sonja K. needs stuff for her Egypt project, and her binder broke, and she needs more folders, MOM!

I won't even get into my to-do list, not today. Today I am going out and about with Emily, and everything else can wait.

I have swept and washed all the dishes, and made a failed pumpkin waffle mess. I used coconut flour instead of almond, and I didn't melt the butter, so it just turned into a crumby mixture...when I folded in the whipped egg whites, it just...crumbled. So I tried some in the waffle, crumbs. I heated up the little frying pan and added a pat of, crumbs. So I turned on the oven, buttered a pan, and pressed the mixture into it, covered it with chocolate chips, and baked for 20 minutes. Now it's good, but what isn't good covered with chocolate chips? By the way, I ate the failed waffle and the failed pancake mixed up with a light vanilla yogurt.

Our college basketball team is still undefeated! It is good for us, working in concessions, big crowds means more money for fundraising. After I drop Paul off at the airport on Saturday (France again for him, wah.), off I go to work at the Dome again, a really big game. It's interesting working there. The prices are high, and it still kills me to charge $3.75 for a bottle of water. Spectators are not allowed to bring in their own food or drink, or even purses or bags. So if they get hungry, they have to buy the food. It is not healthy food, pizza and nachos and hot dogs and pretzels and popcorn, ice creams, candy, soda, beer and wine. I'm glad the workers are allowed to bring in food, I always pack healthy stuff. We are allowed to get one free item for working, so I usually choose pepperoni pizza....I eat the pepperoni and cheese off it, then throw away the crust. Anyway, putting on an ugly smock and wearing a baseball cap, and working at the Dome isn't too bad. (I do hate when we run out of stuff and customers are like, "Are you SERIOUS?!" One guy was so rude, I actually said to him, "What do you want me to do, I didn't eat it all!")(But the customer is always right, right?)

Now, off I go...

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

a new car!

Mirielle did her research ahead of time, and found a place that had the vehicle she thought she wanted. She chose a Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, 2013. A few miles on it, and a few thousand dollars cheaper than the 2014 model, and we got them to take an extra thousand off it. It gets decent gas mileage, and is all-wheel drive, which is great for driving in the snow.

Jon really likes shopping for cars.....

He was asking the salesman about the traction system, comparing it to Nissan, which the salesman took to mean we had been looking at Nissans too and perhaps knew a thing or two, although that was wrong, Jon had looked at the Nissans with Abigail....Jon also mentioned Suburu, and asked if they were similar....but Mirielle wasn't looking at Suburus, Aaron bought one a few months ago with Jonathan in tow. I think having Jon along worked in her favor when we asked for the absolutely lowest price they were willing to sell it at, as they assumed we were shopping around.

Homeschool kid, gets to read, "Calvin And Hobbes", while eating his snack.

I have decided I need to have a better game plan as far as weight loss is concerned. I need to be on the offensive...instead of saying NO to all sorts of temptations, I need to have lots of good things planned that I can and will eat, thus making the NO easier to say, uh-hem, in theory. I don't eat bread or cookies or cereal anymore, as a rule, although I do have my occasional cookie binges. I am more likely to stray by eating just little tastes of things though. I like my dark chocolate, but I have to be careful, as one piece tastes so good, five pieces must be just glorious, or so my mind seems to go. Yesterday I let way too much time elapse between breakfast and lunch, and took a nice long walk in between, so I got too hungry and ate some cheese 400 calories worth. Not good. Tasted good, but dang it. So I have lots to work on, I am not giving up.

There are blueberry muffins in the kitchen. Not for me. Mirielle made those peanutbutter crispy bars with chocolate on top the other night while she was nocturnal, I woke up in the morning and all I saw was a whole day of enduring and saying NO, which I successfully did. There are English Muffins too, which I adore with butter and strawberry jam, although it's been so long, I don't quite remember, but I'm pretty sure they're delectable.

I bought some coconut flour last night, and have to get more almond flour, as I am perfecting my grain-free pumpkin waffles....they are pretty darned good. My current recipe:

1 cup almond flour
a pinch of baking powder
some pumpkin pie spice
a few scoops of pumpkin, probably a half cup or so
a bit of fake sugar, I use Splenda
three egg yolks
a splash of vanilla
a few tablespoons of melted butter

I beat the egg whites separately until stiff, then fold them into the above mixture, the put them on the waffle iron (sprayed with cooking spray), 1/3 cup at a time. They are pretty yum, need no topping, but I want to substitute some of the almond flour for coconut, and see it they are a little less mealy.

Jonathan is having a muffin now, then he will settle in to do some math, and I will get some things done around here. It is a dark and overcast day, rainy and chilly, the nice kind of day, a good day to stay in and drink coffee. I almost hate when the sun comes out and ruins these gloomy cozy days. I'm sort of glad I don't have a good library book today:)

Monday, January 13, 2014

normal life....

I have so many thought swirling around in my head, I just couldn't head out for a morning walk yet! I needed to sit down and write while it is still relatively quiet. The seven school kids are out the door, Mirielle is home from the gym and into bed for the day, Kathryn is leaving to help my niece Susan go on an outing with her three little ones, and Jonathan...well, shh, Jon is still sleeping. And, Joseph is painting.

The dogs are snoring, the clock is ticking, the little fountain on the end table is trickling, I could almost fall asleep.

So I reasoned my way out of a morning will be warmer out in a few hours. I need to take advantage of the quiet time. Oh, how I sabotage my own self.

I did walk yesterday, which was freezing. The wind was cold, and I haven't been walking much because of the road being too slippery, and it being way too cold out. So it did feel nice. Today it will be 45 degrees, very nice for walking.

In a few hours, I am going car shopping with Mirielle, which is the blind leading the blind, but whatever. She doesn't like to drag things out, she picked out a few she likes, and wants to get it over with. Good gas mileage, good reviews, and good in the snow, since she works up north near the lake. And cute, it has to be cute. I added that. It may be girly, but if you are going to pay tons of money for a car, get one that makes you smile, or at least one that makes you feel cute when you drive it. Not that I know what that's like, driving my banged up minivan or that big 15 passenger van.

Anyway. I am once again thankful that I can go along on such adventures with the older kids. Jonathan will probably come too, he probably knows more about cars than Mirielle and I combined. And he's not afraid to ask the salesman, either.

This morning I was thinking about happiness. In my humble opinion, there is a certain peak level of happiness one can achieve. More stuff doesn't necessarily mean more happiness. When I was growing up in the seventies, paper towels were considered luxuries. We ripped them in half, or used rags to clean up spills. I'll never forget the horror on my mother's face while visiting friends, and the lady of the house just ripped like three paper towels off the roll to clean up a little mess, like they were free! Ha, my poor mother. I remember her commenting on it, saying money doesn't grow on trees.

Anyway. When we have lots of paper towels, I feel rich. When I know where a roll of tape is AND where the scissors are, oh boy I am a millionaire.

Paul is leaving again, on Saturday. Oh, the train to Paris, and a flight to southeastern France the next week, oh I am so jealous. It is ugly to be jealous, I am trying not to be. He is traveling with others, a few may be female, far be it from me to comment on that again, but still. I know it is not anything bad, but still. I am jealous. My life seems so boring and just boring compared to his, and honestly, he is very excited about going back there. It's like he has this other extra life without me, and I hate it. There, I said it. I hate it. Is that okay, or do I have to like everything?

It makes me want to go do something fun too. I told Mali maybe we would go visit Gramma in Florida on her spring vacation in March. That would be something to look forward to, and Mali is too much fun.

As long as I am feeling a wee bit sorry for myself, I will say this: I am not good at my job. I cannot keep up. I try, I really do. My people skills are much better than my housekeeping skills, but I tell you, it is challenging to mother so many kids who are growing up and have all sorts of different needs. I am not talking about giving rides or appointments or keeping them all in jackets and shoes. I am talking about having connections with them, and giving them the proper attention. I enjoy them all so much, and it is truly time well spent to be with them. But it IS challenging.

Wait, that part isn't always difficult! Friday night, I had a good old time with Emily and Abigail! We went to this Mexican place in the city, in an old church. Spanish rice and beef tacos with tomatoes and chiles....homemade salsa and chips. We all really enjoyed our food, then decided to split one piece of Key Lime pie for dessert. Yup, one slice, five forks. Not because we are cheapies, but because we were quite full, but really wanted to taste the pie. And, it was super yum. (when we were leaving, a few went in and used the bathroom while Cheryl and I waited. There was only one stall, so it took a while. Abigail was the last one out, and Cheryl noticed her furry boots and asked her if she had killed a bear. I didn't know she was talking about the boots, I thought she was referencing the time spent in the bathroom, and thought "killing a bear" was a slang term for...well, for taking a while in the bathroom:) I was thinking of running in quick to pee before the ride home, Cheryl said I should just hurry up and do that, and I said, "Not after Abigail killed a bear in there!"...oh, I guess you had to be there.

Anyway. Kitty is sitting on my arm purring, making typing just a tiny bit possible.

I already washed dishes and swept the kitchen and living room, and put in a load of laundry before sitting down, but there is always more to do. Jonathan is having breakfast and is ready for some school work. His mind is already ticking, he is waiting for me to finish this so he can ask me the million questions about Mirielle's car shopping trip.

And so, off I go, into my day, certain of this one thing: God causes ALL things to work together for the good for those who love Him.....(Romans 8:28) I may not like everything that befalls me, but no matter what, I will partake of salvation and get heavenly treasures in these earthly circumstances....

Friday, January 10, 2014

ever feel like just walking away?

No? Oops, I'm bad then. Well guess what? Tonight I am sort of walking away! I am going out to dinner with my two favorite daughters and my favorite sister, and my favorite niece! (note to my other nine daughters and my other nieces: my favorites are the ones I am with:))(and since I have only one sister, and of course she would be my favorite even if I had ten)....

Tonight I am going to dinner with Emily and Abigail, my two oldest girls, and my sister Cheryl and her second oldest daughter Becky. I already promised Emily I would behave, ha. I am so dang excited. Not that my life is boring or anything, but sometimes it's nice to walk away from being Mommy, and have a little fun, some fellowship, relax a bit.

Yesterday was a busy day....I dropped Joseph off in town to pick up Mirielle's car from the garage, drove to the airport to pick up our friend Adrian, stopped and ran in the store for grapefruit and apples, and a package of cookies to keep in the car for the kids for later, drove out past home and dropped Adrian off, stopped and visited Kim and held her little grandson for a bit...home for an hour, talked to my brother Bob on the phone....out the door with Kathryn to the school to pick up Miss Char, Miss Camille, and Miss Evelyn for dentist the dentist. Then to the county clerk to apply for passports for Kathryn and Evelyn. Mirielle is taking Kathryn to Norway for a church conference, and maybe on a little side trip to France. Emily is taking Evelyn on an excursion to Jamaica. Lucky girls to have such nice big sisters!

As we left the county office building, I told the little girls I would stop and get them one thing from McDonald's because they were so good, so they danced and speculated what they would the time we got there, they were begging to go in and play on the slides...what the heck, or as Kathryn says, YOLO. You only live once.

Home...ah, home. I had put a roast, some carrots, and five pounds of red potatoes in the crockpot when I was home for the hour, so dinner was ready.

Paul and the older kids ate in five minutes flat, then left for cleaning. I stayed home and fed the younger kids, helped with homework, did some laundry, and tucked them into bed. phew.

I am not complaining, I love my busy days. But tonight, I shall skip happily out the door!!!

Not that I am happy leaving anyone behind. Not at all. In fact, I have mixed feeling about leaving Paul on a Friday night, I love spending time with him so much.

It is just nice to take off the Mommy Cloak every once in a while.

Anyway. I mostly just write on autopilot, then I stop and come up for air and have no idea what else to say. So this fine snowy morning, I will just leave it at that.....

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

roughin' it a little....

So our internet has been out for a few days, making ordinary things like blogging and reading news...impossible.

I kind of liked it, really. Yesterday the kids had a snow day, it was so so freezing cold and windy, it was dangerous to be outside with any exposed skin. So we had a cozy day with no computers, no Netflix. We had gone to the library on Monday, I have read both my books already.

We have a friend who went to Winnipeg for Christmas. He was supposed to fly back in last Thursday, flight cancelled due to weather. Ditto Saturday's flight. Then Tuesday's flight. So this morning, he missed his flight. Tried an afternoon flight, didn't fit on it. So tomorrow morning, we shall hopefully retrieve him from the airport. Today, we spend a few hours in the suburbs, waiting to find out if he made that afternoon we spent our time wisely, going to Chinese for lunch. Mali and Kathryn, Jonathan and I. Oh, black pepper chicken and sesame chicken and hot and spicy chicken....only a teaspoon of rice for me, but that chicken is SO bad, yet so yum.

Anyway, home home again, to wash bedding and clean up the house and wash a few dishes and make some dinner....normal life. Now however, we have internet again! The nice man from the phone company figured it out, and we have some happy kids. Margaret is taking an A.P. class, and really needs to look things up online.

Samuel leaves in 42 days. Paul leaves again for France again for a few weeks next Saturday. Life is moving along. Sometimes I feel such profound sadness amidst all this blessing, because I have all these children...and I can't exactly explain it, but some of them have these battles, these plights, these things that only they can stand up against. Things that aren't for me to discuss, but things that I see and just hope they take rightly. They aren't perfect, these children of mine. No angel flesh here. Yet I know that God can do miracles, He can soften hearts, He can strengthen and uphold, He has made us a way out of suffering the consequences of sin. I just hope and pray that all of my kids find rest for their souls. I suppose it is very similar to how it is for God, He made mankind, gave everything He could give, them freedom to choose whether to serve Him or to flounder around in the darkness.

In all these thoughts I have, I do know this: life isn't meant to weigh me down. I can't control everything, I can only do what I can do, then be at rest. No matter what my kids choose in life, I will love them to pieces. No matter what.

Suri is doing much much better since her despair over losing that puppy. She still likes her stuffed animals, and to wash and love the kitty, but she seems like her normal self again. I am glad she has Duke, they play and then flop down together, they are friends. Duke likes the kitty too, which is just so hilarious to me. Jon will drop Kitty right on Duke, and he will just raise his invisible eyebrows and let his tail thump a few times. Duke is a tail thumper. Just say his name, and he will thump. He loves people more than treats, which I can't say for Suri. She is an amazing dog, she is kind and sweet, but she is more of a begger and not quite as snuggly as Duke is.

Anyway. Time to put some chicken in the oven....I am not hungry at all, but people here still need to eat:)

Sunday, January 5, 2014

and whack, when you least expect it....

A blow to the head. See, I was trying to be a good girl. I usually just put the broom and dustpan-on-a-stick behind the laundry room door, but Paul put up a hang-y thing on the far wall of the laundry room. It is an extra five steps, and me being me, it is always the little decision whether to just fling them behind the door, or take care of them properly. Anyway. I chose to take care of them properly. Then, I exited the laundry room, closing the door behind me, as per our new plan to keep the kitty from using the sock baskets as litter boxes, which is not pleasant. So as I attempted to close the door, it seemed like something was stuck and it wouldn't go all the way, so I pulled it really hard, which sent the pull-up bar that was hanging in the doorway...careening down, smack and whack, right in the back of my head. It hit the plastic comb that held my hair up, and dang it, it hurt. It didn't just hurt, it KILLED. The whole back of my head was just throbbing and aching and hurting. I ran to the couch, buried my face in my hands, and sobbed. When I finally felt the back of my head, my hand came away covered with blood. dang.

So...Paul parted the hair, cleaned up the bump, and we determined the bleeding was slowed down, and I was okay. I didn't black out, and don't need stitches. There is a little bit of blood still seeping, and a huge bump, and my head hurts like the devil, but I think I'll live. I am okay enough to blog, right:)

The thing is, Kathryn is sick. She was not going to church today, no way no how. Jonathan asked who was staying home with her, and Paul answered that she would be okay by herself. I was pondering that, and thought perhaps I should stay home with her, and the next thing I knew, I was on the couch in agony....and I though, "Yeah, I am staying home with Kap."

So here I am, home in a quiet house.

I tell you, when you least expect it.....wham. My first thought besides all the thoughts of how much it hurt was: I need to wash my hair.

Now, I am not looking forward to washing my hair. It is pretty tender. Mirielle-The-Nurse looked at it and told me I would be fine, to put some pressure on it, ice it a bit, and don't worry about it.

Yesterday eight of us from our family worked at the Dome for the college basketball game. Syracuse is undefeated so far, and it was a good game, crowded. We were busy enough at the concession stand. It wasn't easy to get up and leave on a Saturday morning, and it was cold out...

This is my friend Janette and I. She is such a nice girl, she comes from a family of 14. I am thankful for fundraising because I get to know the young people from church better....

Ashley brought Anya over for a last visit before their return to Washington tomorrow. Miss Char was delighted to hold her. Char looked like she was dressed for a summer day. She chose shorts and a shortsleeved top from the play clothes, said she wasn't cold. hmm.

Mirielle, on the other hand, was cold. She wears Sam's old sweatshirt around....but the way she was looking at little Anya in this sweet.

Anya. So sweet. Samuel is 18 years old, and leaves for Basic Training next month, but he is a huge marshmallow. He said this morning, "I can't believe how nice it was holding Anya, it felt like nothing I've felt before. She is just SO nice..." Hearing Sam say this: priceless.

So I had plans today. Plans to plan some schooling for Jon, to plan some field trips, to make a nice Sunday dinner. blah. I get a day off! I am not going to get up and do alot, I am just going to relax and let my head heal. I haven't had breakfast yet and it is almost 2:00 o'clock, I may just have some ice cream:)

Friday, January 3, 2014

ups and downs and cold cold cold cold

Let's start with the "downs". This is Benjamin saying goodbye to one of his sisters. I cried as he hugged them, and when it was my turn, I could hardly look at him for the tears brimming. He is all big and grown up, but it is so pleasant to just have him around, and he has no leave next summer, so we won't see him until he is out of the November or so. (unless I manage a little trip out to Washington somehow)

So saying goodbye to Ben was definitely a Down. An up: seeing him, seeing Ashley, meeting Anya. I mean, look at this little face! (How could a Gramma go a year without hugging her?)

It is cold here. Minus seven now, was colder when I woke up this morning. Mirielle drove from a city up north of here, the snow comes off the lake, making the roads treacherous. The temperature is supposed to rise to only about zero today, brr.

Yesterday, I went out and about with Mali, Margaret, Kathryn, Suzanne, and Sonja. We dropped Jon off to play at his friend's house, then went to the dreaded mall. The girls wanted to go to the big mall in the city, but the roads were awful, it was snowing, and so freezing out....we went to the suburban mall instead. Did I mention that I hate malls? The music and stale air and the smell of cinnamon buns that I never had because they are too expensive and too fattening....the misleading signs that everything is on SALE, yet only the ugly stuff is on the clearance racks, usually. A few of the stores the girls like to go into, the music just blares, making me want to scream. I don't mind music, but some of this stuff is just rot, and way too loud. And it is always too hot in the mall. And I am carrying stuff. Sonja actually asked me to carry her coat yesterday. Um, no.

Anyway. At the mall. I gave in and let Suzanne 12 and Sonja 11 get their ears pierced. I personally don't think it's a big deal, but some of our church friends and relatives aren't quite on the same page about it, and I hope the girls don't get too much more flack for it. They are just little girls who want to be pretty, no more, no less. I don't think it signifies their quick descent into sin:) They have been asking to do it, and yes, I could have continued to say No. I don't wear earrings anymore, but I did get my own ears pierced when I was eleven, and I was so very excited to FINALLY get it done. I felt pretty. I don't think that's too wrong, yet, I don't want them wearing makeup. But some don't think that's wrong. I guess it's what's in the heart that matters, and all we can do is encourage them and guide them and be good examples so they choose to follow God on their own.

So that was all big and exciting for them. Kathryn was asking to too, but when I gave them permission, she changed her mind. I think that's cool, that she decided on her own that it wasn't right for her. And, she didn't say anything at all to her sisters about their choice.

Anyway. No one ever said having eleven daughters was going to be easy.

I bought a few trinkets in the mall, some headbands for fifty cents and some bling for the little girls, Christmas bracelets and necklaces for fifty cents.... They LOVE dressing up like princesses....

After the mall, we went to the grocery store for grapefruit (our stuff from Florida was so good, thank you Grandma!), bananas, milk and yogurt and chicken, bagels and dishwash liquid and bleach and oats and coffee. Mali shopped with me while the other girls went next door to Target. I successfully stayed out of Target! It wasn't easy, but I am trying to spend less:)

Today it is cold. I got up and got dressed and talked to Mirielle as she came in from work. She works nights, so she comes in in the morning and has a snack before bed. The princesses built a fort in the living room and slept in it last night, with Jonathan on one couch and Sonja on the other. They had two fans going, and were still sound asleep as I made coffee and talked to Mirielle. So I said goodnight to her, took a cup of coffee and my computer, and here I am, back in bed with the electric blanket on. The kids are up now, and I have to get back up, but this is nice! Quiet and warm! I can hear someone on the ukulele, and lots of laughing and fooling around, so I hadn't better stay in here too long, although there isn't any fighting or crying going on.

Our kids have had this huge long vacation from school, last week AND this week. I decided I like it. Staying up late, sleeping in late, chilling, having tea parties. Evelyn was the number one babysitter yesterday for the little girls. Joseph and Samuel were here, but Ev made cookies with them, helped with their fort, played with them. It is so nice to just hang out and relax. Their teachers sent home packets to do over break, but so far, nah. Haven't gotten to them.

It is snowing out again. I can't send them out to play, it is way too cold. I have to go to the town office to get a new dump permit, blah. I have absolutely no desire to leave the house in this cold.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

letting go....

It is a harsh reality that our sweet newborns grow and grow and...grow up. These adults of ours aren't just grown-ups, they are OURS, and they are special. They go out into the world, and our thoughts and prayers and well-wishes go with them...and parts of our hearts, too. The thing is, with my kids,I know some of them will be fine...a few others,...well, I want to go with them and hold their hands. I wonder if I have taught them well enough, if I have done too much for them or not enough, if I have been a good enough example for them.

So letting go is not easy. With Sam...well, he IS special. He is brilliant and so tender-hearted, thoughtful and kind. He loves his country, and has this faith in the goodness of man, a faith I don't want to see shattered.

But I love him, and respect him, and have realized that the best thing I can do is give him my blessing, treat him like a big boy, and let him go.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2014.....a year of change....

Camille Anaya finally got to hold little Anya. She was pretty thrilled. I warned Ashley that no matter how she tries to keep Anya little, she would grow and grow into a little girl, it happened to Camille, no matter how much I rocked and cuddled her...she grew and grew....

Little Anya certainly is a beautiful baby. She is so beautiful I almost want to cry. I can hold her, and rock her, under her Mama's watchful eye, then hand her back....I have heard some grandparents say that the best part of being grandparents instead of parents is handing the babies back when they cry. I disagree. I wouldn't mind comforting a crying baby at all!

Ashley and Ben and Anya and I went to Walmart one night.

Samuel and Benjamin and Joseph, just sitting around watching funny you tube videos.

It was so good to have Ben here. Yet, it went by too fast, and I feel like I didn't really get to talk to him. I love how he is all grown up and responsible, but still that little boy that he was, still punches his brothers and teases his sisters. One afternoon he and Sam were wrestling on the couch. He is still high strung and antsy and calls the kids, "Squirt".

But, it went by too fast, and Ben is on a plane, heading back to Washington, back to the Army. Ashley and Anya are at her dad's house for a few additional days but Ben has to report back to base by tomorrow.

So this a time for new beginnings, for radical change, for renewed purposes. As much as I don't want to join the leagues of January Gym Joiners, I will vow to work out more. To eat better. To get that scale moving downward again. No more tastes, no more treats. I want to phase out more unhealthy junk for the family too, getting creative with grain-free recipes. The other day I made those chick-pea (garbanzo bean) cookies. Now, they sound gross, but far from it! I used a can of rinsed and drained chick-peas, pulverized in the Kitchen-Aid, added a half cup of crunchy peanut butter, added a teaspoon and a half of vanilla, a 1uarter cup of brown sugar (I made them without this before and they weren't too bad), and mini Nestle chocolate chips. No flour, eggs, or butter. I made really small cookies, and they were SO yum. One simply cannot tell what is in them.

Perhaps today after I take down the tree I will experiment with another healthy recipe....I am thinking of slowly incorporating these into our diet. I can remember years ago when I first switched to whole grain bread, there were a few kids who wouldn't eat it. Now, it is par for the course. And I want to phase it out:)

Paul has to go back to work tomorrow, after all this blissful time off.

I find that after Christmas, there is such a void, a blankness, like, "what are we going to do now?" Well, I am going to live! I am going to cuddle my little ones, and sink my nose into their still soft hair, tell them how much I love them. I am going to listen to the older ones, praise them, encourage them in their struggles. I am going to bless my husband, even when he is difficult:). I am going to stop and smell the roses. I am going to be consciously thankful for all the blessings God bestows, and for all the trials that come upon me. I won't kick and fight against the things that happen to me, I won't become surly and grumpy and whiny. I won't blame people or circumstances instead of taking up my own cross and being free from the sin that ensnares me.

I won't feel sorry for myself, although I am pretty certain I will be tempted.

Samuel is leaving in six weeks or so, for basic training in the U.S. Army. He graduates from high school this month, then leaves a few weeks later. Now, I don't like being a Drama Queen about everything, but I will say that this devastates me. I am proud of Sam, and I am impressed with his unwavering conviction that joining the Army is the RIGHT thing to do. There were no, "ifs and buts about it", as my mother used to say. He was joining, and that was it. So I am happy for him. But for me, wah. Not just that I will miss him. My walking companion, who can talk the entire way down the road, who can always sense when I need a little appreciation, who can make me laugh at myself, who can mock without, it isn't just that I will miss him like crazy. It's that he is still my little boy! And, as much as he hates when I mention that he is most certainly on the Asperger's spectrum, he is. He has to have his food just so, he can't eat until everyone else is done, he hates being touched unless he asks you to scratch his back, he is totally and completely obsessed with World War II, and with guns, ammo, artillery, and the right to possess them. He is kind and gentle and childlike, he is awkward and yet...he is so mature. He knows what he wants. And, he is blissfully unaware or perhaps unaffected by others' opinion of him.

So maybe he will be fine when he is reamed out in basic. Maybe he'll be able to find his way around and make decisions on his own. Maybe he will hold up and hold out and be okay.

I will be praying for him.

And missing him.

It's probably a little hard to understand that a mother can have sixteen children, and be so broken up about one of them leaving. They each occupy their own space in my heart. God has given them to me, and He has given me plenty of room for each of them. (remember the parable of the lost sheep? Jesus left the other 99 to find the 1? it's like that.)

Anyway, Camille is waiting for me to get off this computer and bake something with her....and I want to un-decorate and and and....