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

Thursday, July 31, 2014

and, we jump in!!!

I am hesitant and happy and unsure to announce...we are homeschooling three more children this year. Suzanne for eighth grade, Charlotte Claire for third grade, Camille for second grade, in addition to Jonathan for fifth grade and Kathryn for eleventh.

Phew. It has been hard to decide, simply because I want to do what's best for them. My fondness for their presence in my life on a day to day basis clouds my judgement! But if I homeschooled based solely on how much I want them here with me because I enjoy them, I would have done it a long time ago.

Summertime drawing to a close has always been a heartache for me.

We have a good school district. The teachers are friendly and understanding, and our kids have always been treated well. I have gotten away with letting them miss inordinate amounts of school so that we could go on adventures, or simply because they needed a day at home, to lie longer in their warm beds, then lounge around, having tea and playing with their toys.

So what changed? Maybe life is going by faster, and I realize even more that childhood is fleeting, and I resent that these few younger ones of mine have to spend theirs in school, then spend an hour or more in the evenings doing yet more school work. Perhaps I realize that the hour a day they spend on the bus learning more than a child should ever learn about life could be better spent. It could be that they already know how to read, and basic math, and love to learn, so teaching them at home sounds actually joyful. Maybe it's because I realize the social life I always thought they should have in school isn't reason enough to send them on that long bus ride every morning.

Ultimately, I let the girls decide. They went through the pros and cons. Socially, perhaps it won't be the very best for them. But in a few years, Char will be in the youth group at church, which will keep her busy! They already have their church friends, too, and they also have all their siblings.

We decided that we can school for a few hours a day and learn as much as they learn in a full day at school. We can have our afternoons to go on adventures, to sew, or go to the library, paint, or play. They are extremely excited, and so am I!

This excitement doesn't come without some self doubt for me. It is a huge responsibility! These young children trust that Mommy knows what's best for them. Staying on task, teaching them thoroughly enough to pass those end of year exams, preparing them properly for this is a little scary.

But somehow the scales have tipped in the direction of homeschooling, and off we go!!!!

My days will be more structured, which Jonathan also needs. We can still have our spontaneous days of fun, but with five of them here schooling, we will have to behave ourselves, too.

Margaret will be going to school for her senior year, and Evelyn will going as a freshman. Sonja K. will be the only one in middle school as a seventh grader, so only three kids will be getting on the big yellow bus this year. (Last year, Evelyn was in 8th, Suzanne in 7th, Sonja in 6th).

As I told the kids, with every decision there are times you will question it, perhaps regret it a little here and there. But that's real life, not always 100% favorable in every respect. For me, it came down to the question, "What is REALLY important?"

Just because most people think going to school is normal and right and good and almost sacred, does that mean it is?

Anyway, I am a tired girl today. Mirielle worked six 12 hour shifts in a row, and had last night off. Since she moved to Emily and Abigail and Molly's house last week, I have not gotten to chat with her, and have missed her sorely. So when she came over last evening, I decided I was just going to stay up with her. Popcorn, watching shows, talking with Kathryn and Evelyn and Margaret and was nice, but when Mirielle was going out the door, I realized it was THREE O'CLOCK! Dang. When I woke up this morning, I felt like it hurt to open my eyes. There was a wonderful thunder and lightening storm going on at 7 am, which I loved, but living out here in the country, when it rains and pours, sometimes we lose power. When we lose power, we lose water, so I got up and filled some containers just in case. Then back to bed, ah loved it. I actually fell back to sleep until nine. Don't hate me, that's not many hours, especially because I got up in between.

So today is a strange summer day. Jonathan went to a park with his friend's family. Margaret took the two little girls out to church to paint scenery for a play that is going to be performed during our summer conference. Kathryn and Suzanne went to babysit for my niece's three little children, and Sonja K. went to her friend's house. That leaves me here with Evelyn and Joseph. It is so quiet you can hear the pool filter hum, which could put me to sleep. Evelyn and I are going to the library all by our lonesomes.

Monday, July 28, 2014

attempting a post....

Nothing screams Talk To Mom like Mom sitting in her chair. This results in scatterbrained writing, yes, I am blaming it all on the kids.

Today was wonderful! I love rainy days. I stayed up too late last night, or rather too early this morning. But not as late as a few of my girls, who were indeed making Ramen noodles and fried potatoes at 1:30 am. Anyway, imagine my surprise and irritation to be woken at 8:30 am by the dogs a salesman knocking at our door! Okay, I had already woken up, but I had a good book next to my bed, and was planning to read for a bit before facing the day. Or perhaps even fall back to sleep. But no, I had to jump up and grab my lovely polka-dotted robe, and tell that young college boy who had already been here last week to try to sell us books that we still aren't interested. I could not believe he came back. Samuel told him last week that we would not want to buy anything, and not to come back. He came back anyway, and way too early. I told him that my Army son already told that young salesman pointed up at the rain falling on him, shrugged, and motioned to come inside to discuss it. Um, no sir. No way, no how. I said, "I can't seem to make it clearer than this. I am not buying anything from you, and my Army son told you last week that already. Goodbye."


So, I talked to the little girls, and got back in bed for a bit, but didn't go back to sleep. I just enjoyed being back in bed. I left the door open so the little girls could come in for a few hugs. I love that.

Today was catch up on laundry day. I also swept the floors, vacuumed the furniture, and did tons of dishes. I packed clothes for the kids for our church conference, so I can take them out to the camper tomorrow when I clean it.

I also took a break in the afternoon with some coffee and dark chocolate that Paul brought from France, and some almonds. I have eaten very decently today....then I went for a rainy walk.

The chicken and veggies are done, we are having a, "casual" dinner tonight, the kids are starting without me. I just felt like writing, and didn't have a chance to today. Sonja used my computer to watch a movie, ect.

Ten kids were here all day, no one went anywhere until the afternoon, when Margaret took a few of them to town to bring back a Redbox movie, and get the new Lego movie for the little kids. She also helped Jonathan clean up his room today and organize his toys. :)

Camille is working on a scrapbook, which Margaret is also helping with.

The living room is all filled with kids now, and Paul is home from work. So I can't think straight, less straight than usual. So off I will go to have some healthy dinner....and perhaps write something more coherent tomorrow.

(Oh, I heard from Sam today, he likes it there so far. He can see Arlington National Cemetery from his barracks.)

why i love summer and my handsome husband....

The living room has been too busy for me to be able to blog today. This evening we had some kids over, some nice church boys. I made them popcorn and iced tea, and I broke out the tub of gummy worms. I made two pans of brownies, which Margaret and Jonathan frosted with peanutbutter frosting. I took a small nibble of Camille's.

Summertime. Bare feet. Shorts and a t-shirt. No socks for the kids. Picking grape tomatoes out of the garden, and eating them, all warm from the sun. Floating in the pool. Sitting in the sun to dry off. Wandering out to the deck in the morning and drinking my first cup of coffee, which is always the best cup of coffee. The spontaneous beach trips, getting stacks of books from the library. Passing out popsicles to kids in the pool. The late late nights, and sleeping in until 8 or 9. Sunshine and wild flowers. Being able to sit in the grass. Rasberries.

Of course I am a grown up, so my life isn't just sunshine and puppydogs. We have broken pool filter. The contents of the sand filter have blown into the pool, little by little, making it impossible to get the pool water clear. It's a lovely shade of light green, but I have put 30 pounds of shock into it, little by little here and there, so it's still okay to swim in. There is chlorine in it too. The water is warm and relaxing, and still tons of fun for the kids, even the older girls. We are planning to fix the filter when swimming season is over in the fall, rather than have it not in use at all right now.

I was gone too much this past weekend, too. I worked the baseball game on Friday. The younger kids were in good hands with their sisters, but I miss them, and all the things we could be doing, when I work baseball. Paul and I, Emily and Abigail, Samuel, Kathryn all worked.

Saturday was Sam's last day at home. I went to the grocery store with Abigail in the morning and got a few special things for Sam, namely Heater Cakes, the names the kids gave those frozen Pepperidge Farms cakes, because apparently the frosting on top looks like a heat register to them. Sam loves the vanilla with the vanilla frosting and coconut. So does Mom, but I only licked off the knife. Don't worry, it was a butter knife.

Saturday afternoon I helped Paul pick beans from the garden. We also picked yellow squash and beets and tomatoes, and ate lots of all of it for dinner, along with chicken and hot sausage.

I made a double batch of oatmeal chocolate chip cookies for Sam. He had some friends over in the evening, and between them and my kids, most got eaten, except for the dozen I packed up for Sam to take back to the Army with him. I put them in a container and right in his backpack. Samuel and Kathryn

He left early this morning before the sun came up. Joseph drove him to the airport, because I had to work the baseball game again and didn't want to be exhausted. I said my goodbyes last night before bed, and it was sad enough. Sam is not terribly far away, but he is still away, and I miss him.

He is just so nice to have around. He would get up in the morning and putter around, he would maybe sweep the floors or put away clean dishes and wash up some dirty ones. He would take his sisters on spontaneous outings, he would sit with me and drink coffee and tell me about Army life. He is still the same boy, still tender and kind, wickedly funny, yet he is so grown up! This is a boy who didn't even want to order his own McChicken a few months back, and now he is buying his own plane tickets and heading to a base he had never been to, all by his lonesome. (he was rather surprised it cost fifty dollars to take a taxi from the airport to the base:))

Anyway. Sam is gone now, his leave is over. He said he was going to miss the dogs the most, followed by the yard. Our yard in summertime is wonderful. It's not wonderful by the standards of this world, it's not landscaped or weedeated. There are too many cars in our driveway, and usually someone has to also park across the front along the road, and there are always bikes in the grass. There are a few kayaks next to the house, and those nice little solar lights I insist on putting in along the sidewalk get pulled out when the yard is mowed, and not put back. I forget to put the grill cover back on when I'm done grilling, because the grill is too hot, so I'll do it later. The hose is sprawled out where ever it was used last, we don't have one of those nice little hose-roller things, but our hose wouldn't fit on it anyway. We hook like four of them together to reach the way back garden. If you wander to the back yard, the hot tub is just lovely, sitting there with some of the panels off, from the troubleshooting a few years back that never resulted in it getting fixed. I am still hopeful, but my brother who was supposed to fix it has hurt his back....

Anyway. Our yard has a pear tree and some maples, and a huge birch with a climbing rope. We still have a swingset with a slide, and only two swings and a glider, but usually only two little girls want to swing anyway. We do still have a baby swing, but no babies swing in it anymore.

Sam will miss us though. He will take some time to adjust to being there in a different place, but I am totally proud of him for going outside of his comfort zone. He says things are extremely disciplined there. No weeds and wildflowers I bet. He will be drilled and taught and reprimanded, until they make a smooth, robotic, soldier out of him. He will still do infantry training, after all, they protect the nation's capital.

Oh yeah. I love my handsome husband. Please keep him in your prayers. He has always been strong and energetic, able to take on multiple tasks, and take up lots of slack in our church, and at home. Lately, he has been tired. He has A-fib, which is being treated at the moment with medication, which shouldn't be making him tired, but the actual A-Fib might be making him a bit worn out. He just hasn't bounced back from his last trip to France yet. He wouldn't like me writing about him, but I can't just write this blog and pretend everything is all sunshine and happy when I am deeply concerned about him. I know he will be okay after a bit, he is going to have some sort of ablation or procedure done on his heart soon, but in the mean time, it is hard for me to see him tired. It makes me realize how much I love him. It also makes me see how much faith I put in him, and how much I lean on him. But God knows the beginning AND end of all things, He already has things planned for our best. Illness and weakness are scary things, but it is all weighed and measured! We are truly being tested, and when we look at it that way, it is easy to come into rest that He causes all things for our good. It still isn't easy to see my handsome husband all worn out and feeling blah though.

Busy days are coming, my blissful days at home numbered. Summer conference at church is in a few weeks, and the planning and shopping and packing that it involves is quite overwhelming. We stay in our camper, which has to be visited and cleaned out. The day after the conference ends, we are heading up to the mountains to camp for four days, which is a whole 'nother thing to pack for....all of us in tents! phew. I know it will be fun, but. I just hope Paul has a nice relaxing time, and that I can pull it together like Supermom.

Tomorrow is supposed to be a rainy day, perhaps a trip to the library will do us good. Camille, that little rascal, can read at a fifth grade level, and is only six and a half years old.

I am tired, it has been a long day. Paul stayed with the kids today while I worked the baseball game. I didn't want to work a second one in one weekend, but lots of people were on vacation, so I did. It's not bad, I actually enjoy being at the stadium, but by the time I get home, my knees hurt and my legs ache and I am not ready to make dinner. Today I took a nice swim when I got home, and couldn't have cared less what color that water was in the pool.

Ah well, it's bed time....

Thursday, July 24, 2014

love love love summer

From my morning walk.

Today has been glorious. The sun shining, the breeze blowing, a coolness in the air that the sun covers up. The pool water seems warmer than the air.

It's the kind of day that goes by way too fast. The kind of day that begs one to spend it outside. To hang up laundry to dry in the breeze, and to putter in the garden. I got caught up vacuuming today, the living room and the furniture, then the stairs and the downstairs hall...the little girls wanted to go in the pool, so they kept asking me and I kept telling them In A Few Minutes. I hated doing housework when it was so nice out there, so I finally just put it away and went outside and sat on the deck to get all hot before swimming. Samuel sat there with me, until some of the girls talked him into going out and about. They get antsy sometimes, those girls, wanting to Do Things, and Go Places.

Sam asked me if I wanted to go, but no, I did not. No sir, today I wanted to stay home. The girls waited impatiently for me to take them in the pool, while I sorted out who was going with Sam and what they were doing. Joseph and Margaret and Evelyn and Sonja and the two little girls were staying home with me. I told them that after we swam, we would go get ice cream....
This is Sonja K. Like the corn fields in the back ground?

Joe declined the ice cream invite, but the rest of the ones home went with me.

(Turns out the princesses couldn't wait for me to take them in the pool because they had a good plan. It involved a realistic looking plastic snake. Scaring Mama is fun! For them, anyway.)

We are home now, some of the older girls are leaving to do some church things, Evelyn is picking wild flowers with Charlotte Claire and Camille, and Samuel is shooting one of his guns with Jonathan.

I have to get moving to make dinner. I sort of know what we are having, but am not positive. Either taco salad or chicken on the grill.

Our garden is producing green beans and some grape tomatoes, a few yellow squash, and some beets. We have had radishes and lettuces, too. Hopefully the melons will grow this year.

Summertime is wonderful. We have blueberries that Emily picked with the girls the other day, a watermelon, and some cherries. I love having all this yummy stuff.

Tomorrow Paul and I are working at the baseball game in the afternoon. In the morning I am taking my brother to an appointment. So I have enjoyed this blissful day of enjoying my kids in the sunshine, but who knows when another day like this will come along? The days seem to have appointments and shopping and library trips and and and....

Early Sunday morning, Samuel is leaving for his duty station in Washington D.C./Virginia, to guard the capitol:),and represent the United States. It will be interesting to see what he ends up doing. He could be a flag bearer in ceremonies, or a casket bearer in funeral detail at Arlington. All the Old Guard are infantry first, and they still do P.T., but most of what they do is in Washington D.C., and they rarely deploy, which makes this mama happy. One child deploying while we were at war in Afghanistan was enough for a lifetime, thank you.

So we have a few more days with Sam home. He is playing video games with Jon now. Jonathan simply adores Sam. He totally looks up to him, and Sam doesn't disappoint. Sam gives him the time of day, talks to him like an equal, and includes him in his outings. When Sam first left for the Army, Jon was so sad and lost....he will be having a rough time come next week.

Well, dinner is not getting cooked, and this chair is extra comfy in the afternoon after a busy day sitting in the sun and swimming and eating soft ice cream, yeah, I had one....and vacuuming and washing dishes and sweeping and putting clothes away and brushing tangles from little girls' hair and taking that long walk down the hilly road....I could definitely take a snooze, forget all about dinner....

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

lots of kids going lots of places....

Ah, summertime. A few years back, we would pack into our 15 passenger van, laden with coolers and strollers and play pens and beach umbrellas, with toy trucks and pails and shovels, 15 or 16 towels, and hit the beach. When it was time to go home, after packing all that stuff, plus the tired sandy kids, back into that big van, I would be hotter and sweatier than I was before we got to the beach in the first place. But the middle part was refreshing. When I wasn't sitting in the shade nursing a baby:)

Anyway. Life has evolved. I still have sixteen children, but all of them aren't "children" anymore. Four of them are nurses, two in the Army, one an accountant, one an that big van has been sitting in the driveway, leaning into it's flat tire, looking very depressed, not driven in months.

Ten of my kids can drive now, 9 with licenses, one with a permit.

So we have lots of littler vehicles.

Today, Samuel, who is home on leave, took some of his sisters (and cousin Olivia) out and about to the big mall in the big city.

Mirielle, one of the nurses, had the day off, so she took Jonathan and Charlotte Claire and Camille to a hike to and play in.

Aaron came to visit me, then I left with just Abigail, and went to the beach. To the beach, with only my own lunch in a lunchpail. My chair, my towel, my sunscreen, waterbottle, and I was good to go. Abigail packed her own lunch:)

It was just too easy! We were out the door just like that! We found ourselves sitting there in the sun with nary a child to look after! We didn't need to face the water, to keep our eyes trained on swimming children, but could actually turn our chairs to face the sun. We talked and laughed and ate our un-sandy food. We swam at our leisure, and sat in the sun to get hot again. On the way home, shh, we stopped for ice cream. All by ourselves.

Home...the mall kids were home, some in the pool. I joined them, then Mirielle brought the little ones home, they joined us.

Dinner, youth meeting, now relaxing. Yes, more relaxing.

It is hot here in central New York state. It was hot today, hot and sunny. Our house is not air conditioned, and it is very warm in here. We have the fans on, and the hum is making me want to fall asleep. I don't know why I am so tired...

Well, I have an idea....see, last evening, we had a family gathering. Most of the kids were here, we had burgers on the grill and green beans and zucchini from Emily's garden, pasta salad, and brownies with homemade frosting, as per Sam's request.

Without getting into the details, I had to take Mali to the emergency room after dinner. (always wash that hair!). She has some heart problems, it skips and bumps along sometimes. She has had it checked out in the past, but it has been acting up, and last evening, it was acting up. She started having problems breathing, and we decided to go see what was going on. I drove as fast as I could without crashing, and even ran a red light, as her panic-y breathing was making me panic too.

She is okay, we found out after several hours and several tests, but really really has to follow up with a cardiologist to see if she is really fine.

Life is never dull, that's for sure.

And as much as I hated leaving everyone and heading to my most un-favorite place, I enjoyed my time with Mali. Once she was hooked up and started calming down and breathing more regularly, she was quite funny. They say nurses are the worst patients, but I am thinking they are probably the best. Mali knew what questions to ask, but didn't appreciate being on the receiving end of the needle.

It's scary when your heart thumps around like that, missing beats and doing funny things. I'm glad we had things checked out, and I am glad she is okay. When one of your kids is suffering or in danger, the importance of all other things just slips and slides right down to nothing. I was praying on the way to the hospital, believe me.

Anyway, life is good, and I am thankful. The kids are watching Bugs Bunny, and it's long past bed time. I love summer, just love it!!!

Cam just asked me if I loved her. Duh! I could not love her more! With their faces tanned and their hair streaked with sunshine, they look so healthy and sweet. They are pretty tired out from their busy day spend outside, Cam is stretched out on the couch.

I suppose I have rambled, but it seems to be what I do best. Believe me, my sunny mood isn't 100% natural. No, this very afternoon I had to really fight off an attack of the Feel Sorry For Me spirits. Poor me! I can't do anything right! Our pool isn't clear, our house isn't clean, our water is all mineral-y, the towels don't match, the freezer needs to be defrosted, I can't organize to save my life. Paul said one thing to me, one thing that wasn't meant to be rude, just an observation on his part, and Oh goodness, I was ticked off. My thoughts just took off, I was convinced within 5 minutes that I was a terrible mother, and that he just doesn't like me. Okay, I exaggerate a little, but. I was headed in the wrong direction, in my thoughts. Then a new thought be thankful. To ask God for help, that I could be changed in these things, that I could hold on to what is good.

Now I get to tuck in the princesses...

Monday, July 21, 2014

the good the bad and the ugly...

Sammy is good. He just is. He is tough and determined and does what needs doing. Today, for example, he did 25 push ups every hour for the first five hours of the day. He took a few sisters and his cousin to the pizza shop today, just because.

He tricked me today, my army son. He had an empty soda bottle, and as we sat there on the deck with Emily and Margaret and Kathryn and Suzanne and Sonja and Olivia (a cousin) and Charlotte Claire and Camille and Dani (cousin) (Joseph was in his room, Jonathan in his room with his friend Phin)....anyway, Sam tricked me. He pretended he was "chewing", and spitting into the bottle. It was only coffee, but he thought he was so funny. I was actually pretty shocked, but very relieved when he laughed and said he had also fooled both Emily and Margaret when I was in the pool. Chewing tobacco, yuck.

Anyway. Summer, I love summer. Here is some more good....
Down our road...the wildflowers grow, there are so many different ones... Queen's Lace and the cornflowers,the Tiger Lillies, and the wild daisies and buttercups...

This is also good. Miss Char didn't want to smile, so Cam tried to help her. Emily came over and took these three (with cousin Danielle) blueberry picking. I am thinking....pie.

This is also good....I love these dogs, and of course my baby Camille. Labs are good pets. They are smart and good and faithful, and lazy and cute, and they don't mind when the kids smother them with loving. They are the kind of dogs I always wanted, they follow me around the yard, rarely run off to visit the neighbors, and usually come when I call them. Duke actually always comes, Suri stops to look at me to decide whether or not to listen...if I promise a treat, she will almost always come. After having Rosie-The-Bad-Dog bite Camille, I never can fully trust an animal, and always remind the kids to be gentle with the dogs, not startle them or tease them or step on their feet...but these two are just good and nice:)

I'm not sure this is the Bad and the Ugly, but their room IS messy. But they keep busy, and they love dressing up.

Hmm, I am not so sure there IS a Bad and Ugly. Granted, things aren't all sunshine and puppy dogs. There are always trials, and some things I cannot write about, because they aren't my stories to tell. Paul and his A-Fib, for example. He is on meds, and has to have a surgery/procedure done in the near future, which is almost always successful, but it still wears on me a bit, as much as I don't want to worry about it. He takes such good care of himself, never misses a work-out, eats healthy food, ect. To have something wrong with him is much harder than I ever would have realized, I would rather have it myself. I think he'll be okay, but believe me, even the thought of it being something serious, I can't bear it. I simply love him so much.

I tried to articulate this to the girls today as we floated around in the pool. This world puts so much emphasis on looks. Girls feel fat and insecure. But none of that really matters. Paul is 52 years old now, but I don't look at his gray hair or his wrinkles and think, "wow, who is this old guy?". No, I just love him. It doesn't matter what he looks like, although I must admit he has really nice eyes. And a cute smile. Never mind....

Sometimes I feel a little guilty that Paul works so hard, while I stay home and enjoy the kids. But then I am not just enjoying them, I am connecting with them, teaching them and guiding them. They are growing up so fast, slipping right through my fingers. These summer days are blissful...sitting on the deck eating cherries, them with their iced tea, some of us with coffee. We dip in the pool, wander out to weed the garden, have some lunch. My lunch today: I like to microwave a few slices of pepperoni, it makes me feel like I'm having pizza, without all the cheese and dough, plus we don't have any pizza, and it gets a lot of the fat out, and it's yummy. So I had some of that, a few almonds and cashews, a handful of blueberries, and a few lime tortilla chips. And some cherries.

Now I am having that yummy afternoon coffee with a few pieces of chocolate, salted caramel chocolate, to be exact. I am not going to have any more, either.

We are having a yummy dinner tonight, because I think all the kids are coming over. Emily and Abigail and Mirielle and Mali and Aaron...I think everyone will be here except for Benjamin, who is far far away on the west coast. We are having burgers on the grill, pasta salad with cucumbers, red onions, black olives, tomatoes, and green beans from Emily's garden, brownies with homemade frosting (the yummy cake frosting I make, Sam asked for it.)

It is hot here, 83 degrees. Sam says we're babies, it isn't hot. He did his Basic training in Georgia, so he thinks this weather if just fine. Plus, we have a pool in the back yard. His sisters say that he is the baby, he needs two blankets at night because he thinks it's chilly. Evelyn says he is the captain of the Wussy Pops, her ultimate insult, since Jonathan is just a Private Wussy Pop.

I didn't go on my walk this morning. I woke up two million times to a certain bedroom door opening and slamming, as per usual when the little girls have someone sleep over. They stay up late and get up too early:). I sneaked out here and Sam was still sleeping, so I told the girls they could have one of the chocolate chip cookies I made last night and watch a movie on my computer, good parenting right there. I then got back in bed and finished my book, oh heavenly bliss. Remember the book and movie, "The Shining", Stephen King? Well, a few years back Mr. King was at a book signing, and someone asked him whatever happened to Danny Torrance and his mom. Mr. King had also been wondering what had happened to them, so he started writing, "Doctor Sleep", which is just plain good reading. I read it in fits and starts because I haven't had much time for reading lately, but I really enjoyed it.

I still have it in my head that I need to go on my walk, but like Sam says, I am a big baby and it's too hot out:)

Sam is sitting at the table with some of his sisters, talking about stuff. It's a lazy afternoon, and I totally love it.

Friday, July 18, 2014

summer days and summer nights....

Camp fire on the deck with marshmallows, s'mores, Twix bars...13 of the kids were here, Mali and Abigail went home, but 11 are still here. A few are playing Zelda, we got chased inside by the mosquitoes. They are eating popcorn and a few were putting together a puzzle.

Today I stayed home all day. Sam went out and about with a few of his sisters. Jon and Char went out to the back garden and picked raspberries. I went in the pool with the little girls, and sat in the sun on the deck. I puttered through the garden, pulling a few weeds and eating the one ripe cherry tomato. I went for my walk, mopped the floors, did some laundry, and made a nice dinner of corned beef, potatoes, and carrots.

Mirielle is moving out. She is moving into Emily, Abigail, and Mali's house. wah. I am serious. She is one of my very best friends, and I always enjoy talking to her when she gets home from work in the morning. She will only be 5 miles down the road, but I did cry when she moved loads of stuff out today. She is painting the room first, so she isn't all the way moved out, but still. I am going to miss our times together, they will get more infrequent, and we will get used to it, and I hate it. I know they have to grow up and move out, but wah.

The little girls are still up, enjoying having so many siblings in the living room. Cam is going around the room hugging everyone, so Mama has to go tuck them in now....

Thursday, July 17, 2014


Samuel James is home!!!! He's home, and I love it!!!!

He passed his fitness test on Monday, and didn't tell his Mama. Then yesterday he got the okay from his Sgt. to go on leave, so he texted Mirielle...and said shh, don't tell Mom. So...I was out and about yesterday with some of the kids, we went to the library and to the thrift store, and ordered pizza (if you order Domino's online, it's half price).

Then Kathryn said she needed to be home by 4 because she was doing something with Mirielle. I grumped about that a little, I mean, we were going to go to the park, then next thing we knew, we had to get home. Then at home, Mirielle was all dressed in scrubs and fixing her lunch. I was puzzled, I thought she had the night off. No, she said, overtime. Okay. Why did the girls have to get home then? She said she was dropping them off at Em's, they were doing something with Emily. Oh. Okay. I guess.

A few hours later, a car pulled in the driveway, and I thought Paul was home from work. But two doors slammed, so I went and looked out the window. It was Mirielle. hmm. Then I heard his voice. Distinctly Sam's voice, and I saw a glimpse of camo, and I actually shrieked with joy, I mean I SCREAMED. I was so surprised and excited! I ran out and hugged that poor boy half to death!

The little girls came running when they hear me scream, they said they thought there was a snake in the house:)

So yeah, they pulled one over on me.

He is home for a week +, and it's wonderful. He and I went for one of our evening strolls last night, him in his bare feet, like old times. When he left in February, the snow was piled up by the foot, and it was freezing out, so it had been since last fall since we walked after dinner. Sam is the best walking companion, he just doesn't run out of things to talk about.

Today we surprised Grandma. We visited with her for a bit, then headed to the small city so Sam could buy a few things. McDonald's drive through, too, since he hadn't had any since February. Then to BJ's where I finally bought those cinnamon rolls he loves...and some chicken wings, which are in the oven right now, and some corned beef for tomorrow's dinner.

Who could ever imagine what a feast it is to just have one child (I say "child", but he is almost 19:)) home? It is amazing that there is so much love in my heart for each one of these guys. And that we are all so glad to have Sam here for a bit. He is indeed stationed in Washington/Virginia, and will start his training there soon with the Old Guard.

And now to get that dinner made....

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

love love love summer....

Sonja and I went out and about yesterday because we needed pool shock. Oh the pool, why can't it just stay clear and clean? I think the filter may be cracked because of the excessive amount of sand in the bottom, but that's boring, and I won't waste time blogging about it.

So we went to Walmart, because that's the best place to buy pool shock. We made it to the check out with only four items in our cart: shock, a can of whipped cream (I tend to buy this when Sonja K. is with me, she loves it.), a sleeve of blueberry bagels (Sonja!), and a small clip on lamp for Sonja, because the one she had broke.

We then went to BJ's for a bag of apples. It isn't apple season anymore, but the Gala apples they have there are still good, and apples are so handy to have for a healthy snack, with a few almonds. We also got donut holes (Sonja!) and shredded cheese (Sonja!)and butter.

Then, to the dollar store....a few six packs of bakery cupcakes and some gummy bears for Mali, and we were headed home. I like to stop there and check things out because they often have good things like cinnamon raisin bread, or protein granola. A few times they had 4 packs of Chobani Greek yogurt for a buck, and of course there were those bins of Target bathing suits in the spring. Love love love that dollar store!

And, on the way home....I stopped for ice cream for us. I wanted to make it special for S.K. because the little ones were camping with Emily, and Suze and Kap went to babysit for their cousin Susan's kids, and she was left with Mom. Okay, there were a few other older ones home, but still. And, on Tuesdays, the ice cream cones at this parking lot drive-through are buy one get one free. And, they use real ice cream from Upstate Farms. And, I really really wanted one. I ate well for the whole rest of the day, if it means anything....

Did I mention that it was wonderful, that ice cream? And surprising Sonja by pulling in there?

By the time we got home, the campers were back with lots of stories, and some dirty clothes too. Evelyn had hung out all the sleeping bags on the deck rails (we run a real classy house here). I unpacked the groceries, then unpacked their backpacks. Wet swim trunks? No problem, just shove them in with all the clean, unworn clothes, because hey, Jon didn't need to change his clothes, he was camping! Silly me, thinking they needed clean fresh outfits!

It's a teeny bit unfair that I had to pack and unpack and didn't even get to go camping, but oh well. Here I am, alive and well, and thankful for Emily that she is such a nice big sister.

Mali came over last night to visit, and to have daddy help her figure out what insurance plan to choose for her new job. She is only 20 years old and starting out working a good job, looking at buying a new car, I am very proud of her. And thankful for Emily, who has been so good to her, letting her live at her house these past few years.

I still need to go on my morning walk. I turned on my computer to show Mirielle two beautiful labs who are being given up by their owners who are moving into a retirement home and can't take them. They are yellow and beautiful. Big chunky heads and those labby jowls, one of them has only one eye. I want them, but we need four dogs like we need a hole in the head, as Grandma W. would say.

I am starting to want that morning coffee, but I have to walk first. The day is glorious and I am glad to be going out into it! I am thinking to maybe take these guys to a playground or something....

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

midnight ramblings....

Yours truly and Paul, way back in the day, in the summer of 1982, when I had just turned 17.

My girls dug up some old pictures and letters last week when they helped Grandma clean out her attic.

My arms were thin back then!, he DID have shorts on, they were just...short.

Anyway, here I am, as Monday turns to the wee hours of Tuesday, awake and writing. The house is too quiet, the teenagers are still up but are watching stuff. Paul is still on France time, so he conked out hours ago. Joseph is still up, but is back in his room, and the little ones are with Emily. She texted me a picture this afternoon of the kids all excited because she stopped at a grocery store and let them pick out Lunchables for lunch. blucky, but I guess my kids see kids eat them in school, and think they are all that. blah. Anyway.

Emily and Evelyn and Jon and Char and Cam left with their tents and backpacks and jammies and snacks and Barbies and sand toys, and went to the mountains. Why didn't I try to get in on it?

Not that I have had a bad day. I had to run to town to pick up some certified mail for Paul, and get some coolant for the minivan which has been overheating. Then Aaron came for a visit, we had coffee and some of the chocolate Paul brought back from France, with coconut in it, oh yum. I was pleased that the teenage girls finished it off, phew. 'Cause I totally would have.

Margaret and I decided to get some groceries. The minivan drove about ten miles then decided it was really hot, the warning beeps and gauges were going beserk, so I let it cool down for a bit in the minimart parking lot, then headed home. We had to pull over once again to let it cool down, but then made it home. We left again in the other car...

We went to Target, but only got a few things. A nice hat and a pair of sock/shoe things for my granddaughter, some really nice new tumblers for 70% off, and a much needed bra for one of the teenagers.

Grocery store #1: chicken breast was $1.99 a pound, with $3off stickers on each package. I also bought yogurt and milk and wipes and trash bags and brown rice and coffee and raisin bread. On to McDonalds for a coffee, then to grocery store #2 for peaches and a watermelon and strawberries and some kale and a few plums.

Home, ah home.

Paul checked the coolant which Jonathan and I put in all by ourselves, and lo and behold, we had filled the reserve tank and not the radiator. oops. So much for feeling so cool and mechanic-y.

Our evening was too quiet without the princesses and Jonathan. I vacuumed the couches and the living room with my new Dyson, vacuumed some cobwebs too. I shined the fronts of the appliances, and cleaned off the counters. I spent too much time on my computer, and read some of a new Stephen King book, but it's too scary for me.

Tomorrow is another rainy day. I will go on my walk anyway, and perhaps take some girls to the library. I need to get some shock for the pool, it is turning green again, blah.

I love summer. I love it. I sat here tonight and sipped some tea that Paul brought from France from a friend who lives in England, yum, and I thought about how nice it is no not worry about homework or school clothes or projects or snack days.

I want the days to slow down, and I want to enjoy them.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

home from france, and no word from sam...

Yesterday I went to a graduation party for one of my niece's with only the two little girls. Jonathan went to the zoo with some of the kids from church, the five girls (Margaret, Kathryn, Evelyn, Suzanne, Sonja) went to Watkin's Glen with the 12-18 year old group from church, ect ect, and the only ones left were the princesses and I.

Emily and Abigail and Mali had a birthday party for me at their house in the evening, we grilled steaks and chicken. Abigail made a pasta salad, Mali cut up fruit, and Mirielle made these deadly little individual vanilla cakes, served with whipped cream and strawberries. I was only going to eat the strawberries, and just taste the cake. Yeah, right. It didn't stand a chance, that cake. Oh heavenly yumminess, it was good. It was nice that it was individual though, no slicing off another tiny innocent little piece, just to make sure it was really that good....

I picked Paul up at the airport at 10:15. For him it was like 4 in the morning, so he was pretty tired. He went to bed tonight at 8:30, after falling asleep on the couch a few times. Jetlag is no fun.

We did have a pleasant day...some of the girls spent the night at Em's last night, so we had a small crew here, Joseph and Margaret and Evelyn and Jonathan and Char and Camille. We weeded the garden in the rain, and went for a little walk to pick flowers when it cleared up. I made them nice little meals, and we cleaned the house and did laundry and I read the entire newspaper. Daddy brought the girls those little rubberband bracelet kits, so that kept them busy, and they have been playing Barbies today.

Emily called and asked if she could take Evelyn, Jonathan, Char, and Cam...camping! Just for one night, leaving tomorrow morning. Of course I said yes:) I told them right away, so they could have maximum Looking-Forward Time. That's the best part about an adventure, isn't it? The anticipation? We packed jammies and swimsuits and rolled up their sleeping bags, they are SO happy.(I have a friend who never used to tell her children about upcoming events just in case things got cancelled, so she didn't have to deal with their disappointment. They got ripped off on all that delight in what was coming....)

They are going to the Adirondacks. I want to go, of course, but I am smart enough to know that having Mom go changes things.:) Emily is an excellent adventuress because she doesn't get jangled when things don't go according to plan, mostly because she doesn't plan every little detail. Things fall into place, and they always have fun with her.

We haven't heard a peep from Samuel. He must be in some serious training, down there at Fort Benning. Last weekend he had his phone, and called and texted us. He called Monday and said he would let us know how his test on Tuesday went. That's the last I have heard. Perhaps they didn't test on Tuesday, perhaps a new drill sgt said no more phones, I don't know. Perhaps he got in trouble, but I can't really fathom that. I don't know, and the speculation is endless. I did hope that he was being really sneaky and cleaver, and was going to just show up at home without telling me, but he doesn't quite know how to buy a plane ticket himself, and plus, he would be too excited about coming home not to blare it over facebook.

So, we wait and we pray and we practice patience, and try not to let our imaginations run away from us.

And, we enjoy summer because it's delicious.

Friday, July 11, 2014

it's not all about me...

This is not intended to be a Feel Sorry For Myself post, just a little example of how it ain't doing what you want that makes you happy....

I went to the grocery store with Evelyn yesterday afternoon, Happy Birthday To Me. We did go in Bed, Bath, and Beyond first, because I had a coupon for $5 off a $15 purchase, but couldn't find anything cheap enough that I really wanted or needed, so I gave the coupon to a few ladies who were actually buying stuff. Then to Target, where I got out with spending only thirty bucks. I bought a glow-in-the-dark soccer ball for the kids' soccer coach at church, who is also a good friend to them, for his birthday. I bought a new pail and shovel for the beach, 50% off, a pair of nice leggings for me, 70% off, yeah I know, leggings in summer, that's when to buy them. I got a shirt for Sonja, and some cool solar thingys for outside.

Then to the grocery store. I debated on some yummy looking marked down cakes, but declined. Then as I contemplated whether to buy more detergent just because it was on sale, the announcement came on that, I kid you not, the cheesecakes regularly priced at $14.99 were on special for $5 for the next five minutes, I thought I was hearing things. It was like the ghost of Kmart past. I scurried on over there myself because Evelyn, my only shopping companion, said, "Mom, we don't NEED a cheesecake!", and wouldn't go for me. Duh, for five bucks, we NEED a cheesecake!

There were none left.

I wanted to stomp my feet and say, "It's my freakin' birthday!"

Anyway. We had a nice time buying dog food and milk and chicken and cereal and paperplates (I love them in the summer!) At the register, Happy Birthday To Me, I got to use my 25% off the entire purchase thing that I earned from spending so much money there. Had I known it was time to redeem that, I would have bought more good stuff, like the detergent I didn't end up buying.

Evelyn and I were so hungry, but wanted to behave, so we decided to get iced coffees from McDonalds. Neither of us like sugar in them, but lo and behold, we were happily headed down the road toward home when we tasted them, and YUCK. Happy Birthday To Me, there was sugar in my coffee.

Home, where we gave our coffees to some eager girls who don't mind sweetness.

Five of my girls were headed to a church barbecue for the 12 to 18 year olds, which they did not want to attend because it was my birthday. I told them I wanted them to go, I really did. So they went. They got lost and came back home, and I had to get them back out the door again. I really would have loved to have them with me, but thought they should go and be with their friends.

Anyway. Jon had one of his friends over, the soccer coach. I made dinner (orange chicken, brown rice, and broccoli.), and then they played video games, which I just hate. I don't mind if they play them, but they just scream WASTE OF TIME to me.

Emily came for a visit, we sat on the deck and had coffee. Then...Jon put in Star Wars. blah. Happy Birthday To Me!

The girls came in from their picnic, and StarWars blared on and on, blah.

We had some ice cream and the frozen Pepperidge Farms cake Emily brought over, and it was nice. Not what I would have chosen to do on my birthday, but I can't complain, although I guess I sort of am...:) And I don't mean about the company or Emily visiting, I just mean...Star Wars. blah. :)

But today, we are going to the beach!!! (Fairhaven, Martha!). Just six of my kids and a cousin. Evelyn is spending the day with Emily, and Margaret has things to do like sleep all day, Joseph has school/art training, Mali is at work, Abigail is at work, ect ect. We are actually meeting Abigail after work to go to a park on the lake, and getting ice cream.

So I am happy, and it is a beautiful day.

And, tomorrow Paul comes home....

Thursday, July 10, 2014

happy birthday to me....

I would like to rant a little about birthdays, and the expectations I tend to have of them. Every morning when I first come to consciousness, I think about what I have on my agenda. Oh yeah, it's my birthday! It's just a day. But it's my birthday!

The thing is, I don't like when people get me presents, especially my kids, who don't have much money. I got a Dyson vacuum cleaner from my mother-in-law yesterday, and I do love love love it, but I feel bad that she spent all that money on me.

Last year, I had all 16 of my kids together at Emily's house for my birthday, and that was beyond excellent. Today, I am not sure who I will see. I have not heard from Samuel yet, and Mirielle has to work tonight. Paul is still in France, and Benjamin is in Washington state.

The birthday rant: For years and years and years, all I wanted for my birthday was help cleaning up this house, ha. My mother used to say that all she wanted was 7 good kids, and we would tell her she already had the 7 kids part.

I got up and went for my walk this morning, then cleaned up the counters and floors and did some laundry. The older kids are just eating breakfast, they didn't appear until after noon, those nocturnal teenagers.

We are running out of dogfood and milk and bread and butter and fresh veggies and and and, so for my birthday, I suppose I get to go on a trip to the grocery store.

My little girls are hilarious, they made themselves dresses out of blankets this morning, all draped and pinned with clips and hair ties.

Some of the girls made French toast and it smells so good! I am behaving myself. I had a 100 calorie Greek yogurt with toasted almonds and strawberries.

Ah well, I am a happy girl. I am happy because it is a lovely sunny day, it is summertime, and Paul is coming home on Saturday night. I am happy because I have all these kids, who are growing up and turning into friends. I am happy because Duke and Suri love me, and go outside with me every single time I go out the door. Duke is more of a follower than Suri, he keeps his eye on me, and I love it. If I go to one of the older kids rooms to talk to them, he is there. He will follow me from room to room, lying down and sighing while I talk, then getting up to follow me when I leave again. He is a talker too, he does this whining-wagging thing when he sees me.

Anyway. I am a happy girl. I think if we truly realized how short life actually is, no one would be anything but thankful for each day.

For the record, this is the most disjointed blog post I have ever written. I have gotten a phone call, a few texts, said good morning to Margaret, helped Jonathan open the plastic wrap, helped put the hose back where it belongs on the new vacuum cleaner, advised the kids not to eat the strawberries Mirielle bought, Jon said she has plans for them, sorted out a fight about the xbox....

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

no word from sam yet, and a new vacuum cleaner....

First of all, we have not heard from Samuel. Did he take his PT test? Did he pass? Why didn't he call? He said he would. But obviously he hasn't been able to use his phone. So we wait. One of these days he will call and say he can leave for his leave, and we will enjoy having Sam back home for a week, and we'll forget about all this waiting and wondering.

So, my vacuum cleaner woes are over! My dear mother-in-law bought me a Dyson Animal D40 for my birthday!!! The purple ball one! I love love love it! Of course I vacuumed all afternoon.:)

Today is my last day of being 48. How can the years be sliding by so quickly? I was just getting used to the forties, and they are almost over! I actually think of myself more like 35-ish. When I think of a 49 year old lady, I think OLD. Over the hill. I don't feel old or over the hill.

This evening, I found myself home alone with the princesses. They have cleaned their room, with the help of Margaret, so their interest in playing in there has been renewed, my kids love to mess up clean rooms. They have been playing Barbies by the hour in there the last few days. Anyway, I was here with just them, and decided to take them to town to return a Redbox movie, and get a treat. We parked at the town building, and walked down the sidewalk, admiring yards and gardens, houses, and porches. We ended up going to Dunkin'Donuts, and running into my brother Bob and his wife Mary. The princesses were very patient while we chatted and caught up.

Charlotte Claire got a mix-in, which is a huge cup of vanilla ice cream with mini M&M's in it, and Cam got a chocolate milkshake. I got a 79 cent cone and shared it with them, plus a coffee. We returned our movie, and got a princess movie for them, which they are watching right now, in fascination.

I am missing Paul something terrible now. I miss him, but at the same time, I am so glad that I miss him so much. And he misses me too, which is also very nice.

Ah well, I am distracted by this princess movie, and shall put this away and watch it with my own little princesses, who are growing up too fast....

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

the waiting is the hardest part....

This guy has been in his Fitness Training Unit since last Monday. He says that FTU has never failed anyone, which means they only accept soldiers who are promising, the others get sent home. Since there was the holiday for the 4th, he hasn't had much official training, but he is optimistic for his PT test, which is today! He asked me to pray. Oh dear, I am praying. And waiting for the phone to ring to find out if he passed. Jon is playing a game on it, and I just asked if a call would still come through if he was playing on it, which must have been a stupid question, gauging by the looks several kids gave me. Duh, Mom, those looks said.

Anyway, I hope the kids passes today. He is such a nice boy, you know? Wicked funny, yet so tenderhearted. You know when you send your child off to kindergarten and you want to send him with a placard around his neck that says, "treat me well, my Mama loves me." (or is it just me??!) Well with Sam, he has proven that he will fight to trust God when things don't go his way, what more could a mother ask for?

Have I mentioned how much I love summer? Unstructured days,movies and popcorn and late night swimming, spur of the moment trips to Walmart and the park. The kids are tanned and lazy. The mom is tanned and lazy, and the dogs are just plain lazy.

Yesterday our power went out. No water, no coffee maker, no brekky for the kids. So I did what any reasonable mom would do, I hauled them all to the small city to the Chinese buffet for lunch. Breakfast/lunch.
We have two cousins here for a few days...Here is Margaret, Eileen, Evelyn, Suzanne, Olivia, Aaron, Jonathan, Kathryn, and Sonja K., with Camille and Char in front.

We then went to Walmart to return the broken vacuum cleaner, but of course the instruction manuel sneaked out of the box and hid somewhere, probably in the garbage that was taken out last week, so they wouldn't take it.

I did buy myself a new fan, since mine died and these summer nights are SO hot. I bought ice cream and cones for the kids, which they are having right now. One of my daughters is scooping in her bikini.

Paul has been gone long enough now. He will be home on Saturday night! Hopefully Samuel will be home by then too.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

a day at the beach, and other strange happenings....

Lake Ontario...long sandy beach...warm sunshine, cool breeze...

Miss Charlotte Claire. Ten of my eleven daughters went to the beach today. I wanted to get a picture, but don't like taking out the camera/phone when they're all in their bikinis, plus I forgot.

And one son, too, Mr. Jonathan. :)

We played in the waves. The water was cold at first, but with the cool breeze, it soon felt warm. We laughed and splashed and went in the water three different times. When Kathryn took the three youngest to the playground, I stretched out on my tummy on my towel and actually dozed off. Now, a few years back, that would be absolutely unheard of for me to even totally relax on the beach. So I appreciated it. The sound of the waves, the sunshine, the warm sand...bliss. Jon and Char like to roll around in the deep warm sand, but Camille likes to stay clean. A few of the older girls brought books to read, and a volleyball. The seagulls were very naughty, one swooped down and picked up an unattended baggie of chips, so we kept the food put away and hidden. That meant some very hungry kids wanted to eat on the long way home, so we stopped at McDonalds. Don't worry, I behaved.

Life has been busy. Thursday night I guiltily drove off all by my lonesome to a nice hotel in the city, to a getaway with some of my very good very old friends, the friendship being old, but also the friends. :) Six of us enjoyed the pool and hot tub, snacks and drinks and laughs. We stayed up late into the night, then got up and had a marvelous breakfast together.

I spent some time in the pool with kids when I got home, then on out the door again with Joseph and Mirielle and Abigail to the baseball game. It was BUSY. The whole night long, with nary a break. The stadium had free admission plus fireworks after the game. It seems like 95% off the people are patient and happy to be there. I will spare the frustrating details, but when the orders get behind and you have to keep ringing people up, adding to the line of people waiting for their food, then have to remember who had what, it is not much fun. And those 5% of customers start wearing on me with their comments about the waiting and the prices and that they SERIOUSLY have to WAIT for another pot of coffee to brew? SERIOUSLY!? One lady got really in my face about something we had temporarily run out of, so I offered to leave and go to the store and buy her some. Oh, dripping with sarcasm for sure.

As much as I don't appreciate experiencing those people's wrath, it does teach me a few things...

1. I am not as patient as I thought I was. My patience has an end, and then I really need to ask God for help.

2. I will always be a nice, polite customer, and remember that the cashier gets crap from people all day.

When the game finally ended, I felt like I had survived quite an ordeal because of how challenging it was to keep up with the crowd of customers.

I mistakenly thought that now would be a good time to write because the little girls are all tucked in, and some of the older ones were playing volleyball. But, they came home and I have nodded distractedly about Suze getting hit in the face with the ball, and about Kathryn's soccer cleat woes. I need to turn this off and tune them in.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

and the summer days go by...

Today, out and about with Sonja K., Kathryn Grace, Evelyn Joy, Suzanne Eleanor, and Camille and Charlotte Claire.

Camille and Char....

Miss Cam begged for these heels. She did not get them.

She did get a china tea set, a pretty dress to play dress-up in, and a doll high chair. Evelyn and I found two pair of Birkenstock shoes for $2.49 each, and yes, they fit! She also found pink Timberland boots. They found t-shirts to DIY (Do It Yourself), jeans to cut into shorts. I don't know if they realize the racket they make, laughing about 80's shirts and trying to put pink camo sweatpants and Rudolph overalls into my cart.

The grocery store is always fun with these girls. I have been threatening to get Emily an ugly yard ornament now that she has a nice yard, and today I found one! It is a snail with a solar light! It was 75% off....I just had to. So I did.

The pool was wonderfully warm when we finally got in it this afternoon. We had to put away the groceries, and I had to switch laundry, and clean up a thing or two....

Mali came over for a visit, she started her first official job as a registered nurse. She is still in orientation, but she really likes the hospital.

The older kids went to play practice, the younger girls are here reading their American Girl books and eating Cheese Nips. I have been looking at vacuum cleaners on ebay. My Dyson has a broken hose, and ouch, the genuine parts are so expensive! I bought a Shark canister vac for $89 a few months ago, it is junk. The hose broke after two weeks, and yeah, I lost the receipt. I bought a Eureka last week at Walmart for $72, and it stopped working already. Just turned off when Marg was vacuuming the stairs. I could not figure out why, nothing is stuck in it or anything. Anyway, I want my Dyson back, all these junky vacuums just don't work.

Summer time is unbelievably wonderful. I love the unstructure of it. What?! Unstructure is not a word? Hmpph. It should be. Anyway, I love that I can be home with these guys and talk and listen and just spend the days with them. We clean up, we float in the pool, we make meals, we read books, they play games and watch movies and mow the lawn and weed the garden, and float in the pool again.

Tomorrow I am going on an adventure!!! An overnight getaway with some of my church friends, ladies whom have been my dearest and closet friends for years and years and years. We have a suite booked at a hotel in the city, which includes an evening reception with snacks, and a full made-to-order breakfast and buffet. We go in the hot tub, and swim a bit, and of course we will behave ourselves, but we will certainly have fun!

Then Friday, another baseball game for me to work. Saturday, we are going to the beach!

Sometimes I re-read my posts and think What A Lovely Life. It's true, I have been blessed. But. I have teenagers who know much more than I do, a house that never gets spotless, and countless things on my to-do list. Vehicles that need inspections, windows that need replacing, phone calls and things that need to be organized. I have filed my intent to homeschool next year, and sent out the kids' report cards for their last quarter. But, I have to get busy with their IHIPs, and and and. There is much to do, and life is busy. Just so you know:)