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, October 31, 2014

happy halloween....

We had fun!!!

they got tons of candy...

Jon was a Jedi Knight, Char was a doctor, Cam a princess/southern belle, Evelyn was from Amity (pop culture book/movie), but it didn't work so she put a paper bag over her head and went to doors, it was so funny. Sonja K. was Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games.

We trick or treated with Susan (my sister's daughter (one of her seven), and her three little kids including the two year old twins). What fun!!!!

We are home now with the kids tucked in finally, after spreading all of their candy out on a blanket on the floor, trading and sorting.

Now I am going to watch a movie with the older kids:)

Wednesday, October 29, 2014


Oh what a fun day!!!! The three youngest wanted these giant bears, please Mama! Char said she would get rid of her bed and sleep on it.

We went thrift store shopping before the dentist. I found another Little Tikes table and chair set, for $6.99. We didn't really need the table, but the chairs are so nice to have. We found pictures for the walls of the little girls' room, a Gap spring jacket for Charlotte Claire for two bucks, and jeans and four shirts for Jon, for less than ten dollars total. Camille found a new Barbie, still in the box, for $4.99. She is getting it for Christmas. And, Jonathan found a light saber for $1.99! He is simply thrilled.

The dentist, oh blah. Camille climbed up so bravely into that dentist chair, blissfully unaware that this would be so different from a regular cleaning. She did fine though. One little filling. Then Char had her turn, then Jonathan, poor Jon. He was in to have the last filling done, and lo and behold, there were two new cavities! They weren't noticeable even last week! The dentist was puzzled. They were right on the surface of the molars, he said they were definitely not a hygiene issue. I said I didn't think so, Jon has been super diligent about brushing and flossing, especially in the last few weeks. He seemed to think it was more like a congenital thing, where the enamel didn't develop properly. I suspect it's because Jon was born just a bit over ten months after baby Robert. But I am not going to dwell on it. We have some special toothpaste from the dentist, and hopefully it will help.

So Mirielle and Emily went to Costco with us. It was my first time there! Emily lived on the west coast for a while a few years back, when she worked in the kitchen of the church conference center in Oregon. She remembers the chocolate cake and the fresh roasted coffee beans...and guess what? This east coast Costco does not have those fresh roasted coffee beans. They had the cake though, it looked almost evil in it's yummy $16.99 goodness. We did not buy one. We did buy a pumpkin pie though, don't ask me why when I can bake my own. Probably because we were so hungry. I also actually bought some has been SO expensive, but I finally caved and paid $3.99 a pound. It's a ten pound piece, so I should get at least two meals out of it. I am thinking beef stew...

Anyway, Costco is okay. It's not much different than BJ's, a lot of things are more expensive there. There were different toys, and I am a toy nerd...Camille almost talked me into a new doll pram for her birthday, there is a cute one there. But she doesn't need another one of those, no matter how cute! Or does she....

And now I am home all alone. Absolutely alone, except for the two kitties and the two dogs. There are clothes in the washer and in the dryer, and a sink full of dishes, which I was appalled to come home to. No way should I wash them, the school kids used them this afternoon, and are now gone to a church activity club party. Charlotte Claire dressed as a Ninja, and Cam like Mulan, in a sweet little kimono. Jon was some sort of Jedi. What fun. And having the whole house to myself, yay!

I told myself I should use the time wisely, to clean up. I could mop the floors with no one to come along and fall a$$ over teacup, as Stephen King would say. I could bake some cookies for Sam, or organize the pantry. I could simply walk around and pick up stray socks and straighten the bookshelves. But no way no how, I am going to sit here and enjoy some interruption-free time. Don't get me wrong, I love my kids. I get a huge kick out of them. (Today we were trying to find Costco...and Char suggested that we follow the lady in the car next to us. "She looks like she's going there.", Char said.)

But I choose to sit here for a bit in my comfy chair with this comfy kitty on me. (This is right now)

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

in which she puts her feetsies up and listens to the rain...

It is pouring out. I am sitting here in my chair, thinking about things. I finished five valances for the kitchen windows and door today, I made that phone call about getting the oil changed on the truck, I did some laundry and made multiplication tables with the kids. I swept and washed the top of the stove, and the tiles behind it.

We never went on our adventure. I got into sewing, and Suze took them out to ride their bikes in the road...they are not allowed in the road at all unless someone big watches for cars, shouts to warn them, and they pull to the side. It's a country road, but the cars go speeding fast when they do go by. Anyway.

The kids were perfectly content to just play here in the yard.

Sometimes I just get tired of running here and there and everywhere.

So tomorrow, after our dentist appointments, we will go to the store. The list is getting longer, too...

Anyway. Sometimes when I am tempted to complain about the relentlessness of the messes around here, I think that at least I can move and walk and actually physically do what I need to do. I imagine myself twenty or thirty years down the road, perhaps in a wheelchair, looking back with fondness at days like today, when I could actually DO things.

Yeah, I do have an imagination.

But it's true! I don't want to complain my life away! Each and every day is a gift!

Okay, I have some teenage girls. (I have five teenagers at the moment - Samuel 19, Margaret 17, Kathryn 16, Evelyn 15, Suzanne 13, and Sonja K. is 12 and a half...)One of the girls has an attitude sometimes, and can be difficult at church things. I talked to her this evening, and imagine how I was jumping up and down inside when she simply told me, "I want to be good." Isn't that all we really want? For them to WANT to be good?

I try not to micromanage my kids. They can choose their own styles, and yeah, I do make them change if their skirt is too short, ect. But modesty aside, I let them wear what they want. I let them choose music, and they watch scary movies, and television shows on Netflix. Ultimately, they have to choose their own paths in life. My job is to encourage, strengthen, and help them find their path. Of course my deepest hope is that that path is one that leads them to live a God fearing life, but I love them no matter what they choose, and pray for them continuously.

And when they decide to be good, to be faithful, I just jump up and down inside!

Anyway. I hope to get more sleep tonight than I did last night. I am tired, but staying up in the quiet with the rain pounding down is just lovely.

Dinner tonight: I cooked two pounds of bacon, steamed some broccoli, made some fried eggs, some scrambled eggs, and had frozen raspberries for dessert. Broccoli and eggs go well together, made me forget about toast.

I miss Paul. He calls me every afternoon, from France. We have been married for 30 years, and I still get that funny feeling inside, that spring time I'm In Love feeling. I can't explain it, but it is an actual physical sensation in my chest when I think about him. Sorry to any of my kids who read this, but I simply cannot wait 'til he gets home. I am extremely thankful for him. He said there was an empty seat on the trans-Atlantic flight, which never happens. I said that maybe his wife was supposed to be there.

Ah well. Tomorrow, the dentist. All three of the younger ones have to have fillings, Cam just one small one, and the other two at least two each. They brush their teeth nicely, with lots of nagging and reminders from yours truly, but Jon's teeth are just not great. I wonder if it's because he was born less than 11 months after I had Robert, and didn't get enough nutrients in his teeth. I don't know, but of course that Mom Guilt comes on when they get cavities. I am not proud to admit that I did tell them, "This is why I keep reminding you!!!", about brushing their teeth three times a day and after anything sweet.

Cam has never had a filling, and oh my goodness, I would rather have one myself that have that child in the dentist's chair. She is my sensitive one, she doesn't even like her hair brushed because it hurts, she says. Jon and Char are all brave, but I see their legs shake a little while they open wide, and I hate it. They like me in the room with them, and I stand there and listen to the drill, and want to faint. blah. The joys of motherhood.

Perhaps after this, they will be more scrupulous with the brushing and flossing, and there will never be any more cavities.

And...I think perhaps I am tired enough for bed now....

lazy bums....

That's how I feel, just like that. Like lying down on the couch and snoring.

I tried to go to bed at a decent time last night. I read only until 11:30. Then at midnight, I woke up to barking. Duke was outside. I have no idea who let him out and left him there, and I wasn't about to go knocking on bedroom doors and ask, only to be answered with the inevitable Not Me. And besides, it didn't matter. I was awake. My heart was pounding from waking up so suddenly, when I got back into bed I thought perhaps This Was It. My pulse was only sixty something, so I was fine, I just felt so wide awake and could NOT fall back to sleep. I finally turned the light back on and read for a while...

Cam and Char slept in my big comfy bed with me last night, Paul is in France again. I love having our little sleepovers, the girls are cuddly and cute. Cam woke me up talking a mile a minute in her sleep, I loved just patting her arm and telling her it was okay.

Anyway. I am foggy-brained today.

It is a nice day, and we are going to take the bikes and put them in the back of the truck and go to a park or something.

I want a nap.

Tomorrow we have a dentist appointment, then the kids have an activity club party. They can dress up if they want to, and the want to. Star Wars nerds, I call them. How does one dress as Asoka? Can't they just be princesses?

I made the yummiest chili for dinner last night. Ground beef and hot sausage, and tomatoes from the garden. A can of diced tomatoes with lime and garlic from Aldi, and one small can of sauce. Lots of spices and seasoning, one can of black beans. It is ALL gone. Aaron came for a visit last evening and had the last of it.

Guess what? I have no idea what we are having for dinner tonight. I actually have to go to the store again soon. We are out of popcorn kernels, and hot sauce. The milk is getting low and there are only a few eggs.

One of these days I will get more organized. I will make weekly meal plans. I will organize the cupboards and not search through five shelves every time I need a can of diced tomatoes. I won't procrastinate anymore, either. If I have to call to make an appointment to get the truck inspected, I will just do it! I won't wait until the last minute to write up the kids' school reports, and maybe I'll even clean the laundry room.

But not today. Today, we are going on an adventure. We are going to enjoy the sunshine and get some exercise.

Monday, October 27, 2014

and off we go!

Last night after I got home from fundraising at the concession...Suri was absolutely thrilled to see me. She probably thought I smelled yummy, like nachos and hot dogs and popcorn.

My oldest daughter Emily worked at the Dome too....

Kathryn and Joe worked too....

And Margaret went too...

I should have gone straight to bed when I got home. I was certainly tired enough. But I snuggled with Suri, who fell asleep with her head on my lap, and started snoring. How could I get up?

When I finally got in bed, I read my was three a.m. when I turned off the light. oops. we are finished with our schoolwork and are the pool!!!!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

sunday morning....

After reading my last post, I wondered why anyone even likes me, the way I brag incessantly about my kids. So realize this, please: I can't exactly write about the things I'm NOT proud of! Two of my girls room together, and they get along like peas and carrots. For about 5% of the time. The rest of the time? I will not even go there. I think they sometimes do it recreationally. For fun. Just get all up in each other's grilles. And I can't exactly illuminate you about the worry I have over one of my sons. And one of my girls gets SO touchy about everything.

I do not ever try to misrepresent anything when I write this blog. But out of respect for my kids, I can't exactly describe each and every struggle they have, or that I have with them. Samuel still gripes about the post I wrote a few years back about when his pants were falling down in McDonalds and I realized he needed a new belt, so I got him one at the dollar store. He was a teenager, and this was horrifying for him. Now he uses it as a hilarious story.

I have the Make The House Nicer bug. It's nice when it comes along, I try to go with it, because goodness knows it isn't going to last. I made new valances for the living room, bought a few nice little rugs, and am trying to make the End Of The Living Room nicer. The end where the kids play. I have fabric for new kitchen valances, and can't wait to get started on them. I also want to repaint, but the stove still makes things black, which is very healthy, I'm sure. It's a really nice stove, so I don't want a new one, I want it fixed. Paul knows a guy, but he didn't get a chance to call him before he went back to France again....blah. Maybe I should just repaint, and refuse to use the oven until he gets it fixed.

Today, I have to go to the Dome at the college and work at a concession stand for the marching band competition. I sign in at 2:30, it lasts until 10:00 or so. Emily, Margaret, and Kathryn are working all day. I don't mind working at all (it's a fundraiser for church), but it's a concrete floor, and my knees will be hurting. I like when it's really busy, then I can't hear my knees grumbling as much. And, I love seeing my friends!

One little girl wet the bed today, lots of bedding to wash.

Ha, they are turning on the WII, and kitty likes to try to attack the game.

Evelyn is reading a good book, she can't tear herself away from it.

I started a new book after I got in bed way too late last night, and read a few hundred pages. No wonder I am wishing for a nap already.

One little girl wrapped in a towel, fresh from the shower, is cuddling with me right now.

And, off I go....

in which she writes in the quiet....

This is how my day started...a nice walk down our country road...

Aren't they just too cute? They think I bought this rug just for them to sleep on. Suri is actually quite clean, since she just had another bath, since she rolled in something yuck. again.

I did ask, as I swept up a glass Camille had dropped, if there were any other messes I would have to clean up.

I brought Paul to the airport today, all by myself. After saying goodbye, I stopped for coffee, then went to Aldi for spaghetti squash. I also got 14 pumpkin yogurts, some pumpkin tortilla chips, fresh spinach, frozen broccoli, burger, and some chocolate.

Then...since I was all by my lonesome and it sounded fun and there was no one with me to protest, I went to Kmart. This is the very same Kmart my mother worked part time in when I was in elementary school. I love/hate Kmart, but part of me just wishes them well. They haven't stood up to Walmart well, and their days seem numbered. Sears/Kmart....boring, old, stuffy, dusty...the merchandise doesn't change and turn over like Target stuff. Today, though, the clearance toys were 50% off. I won't say what I got, just in case my little kids read this, but I got some Christmas presents, and a few birthday presents for Camille, who turns seven on November 7th. I also perused the $2 racks. Yes, two dollars. I found myself two shirts and a skirt, and a cute shirt for both Char and Cam. Camille got new sneakers, too...$4.99. I got the new rug, and a few new potholders. I meandered and dawdled, and had a nice time, all by meself.

Home...ah, home. The little girls had made themselves a fort in the living room, complete with furniture rearranging. I bought a few gray baskets for the dvds, the lime green ones were getting frayed, and I didn't like the color anymore. So I sorted through the movies, and got rid of most of the VHS tapes. It was hard, I don't like to throw perfectly good stuff away, but seriously? We haven't watched these movies in years, with dvds now, and Netflix.

Mali stopped over to show us her new car, and to return the car we had bought a few years back for the college students....Mirielle, Aaron, Mali....they are done with it now, and have brought it back. They all have their own cars. Of course there are over a hundred thousand miles on it now.

I had hardly gotten the place in order, and Emily texted and invited us over for dinner. Her house was hopping. Abigail and Mirielle were with her, Aaron stopped over, Margaret, Kathryn, Evelyn, Suzanne, Sonja, Jonathan, Char, Camille, a few cousins (3), and one of the other girls who lives there...were all there at different times. We had Em's homemade chili, Mirielle's yummy tossed salad, and some kettle corn.

Benjamin called me when I was driving to Emily's, so I called him back when I got there. The kids got out and went in the house, I stayed in the van and talked to Ben for a bit. He is almost out of the Army! He is staying in Washington state for a while, he is apprenticing in the HVAC program (heating and ventilation, air conditioning). He has been diagnosed with mild post traumatic stress disorder. Fireworks will probably never be much fun for him, and sudden loud noises are no picnic either. He survived his "tour" in Afghanistan, but living in stressful, challenging, and frightening conditions for months on end definitely have an effect. (it's called "tour", as if it's a sightseeing event.) He is doing well though.

Jonathan called Samuel while we were at Em's, to tell him about playing Airsoft. Several of us got a chance to talk to him, talking to him for a few hours. He doesn't have much to do on weekends sometimes, and chooses not to go out partying with the other soldiers. He is a good boy, and it isn't easy for him to say no to things that appeal to a young man, but he has a good heart, and wants to keep himself pure.

Home again. The house is finally quiet.

Tomorrow, I have to work at the Dome for the field band competition.

It has been a busy day.

Here are the things I am thankful for:

My older kids.

Emily is taking Margaret to Norway in March for a sisters' conference.

Abigail is taking Jon with her tomorrow to babysit for my nieces' twins, so my niece can work at the Dome.

Mirielle is taking Kathryn and Evelyn to Norway next summer for a conference.

I am thankful for Benjamin and Samuel, I am proud of them for their Army service, and for staying humble and true to who they are, and remembering where they came from.

I am thankful for Aaron and Mali, my 21 and 20 year old nurses. They are both all grown up, moved out, have their own cars and their own health insurance.:) When they stop in to see me, my heart is just happy.

Joseph....oh, the things he creates! He is amazing.

And the younger ones...they bring me joy, and of course some frustration, as they can be stubborn and silly and they do this thing where they slap each other recreationally. The other day in the store, I realized they were doing that, and making quite a spectacle of themselves, laughing and slapping and smacking and being loud and crazy.

I am thankful for Paul, and that I miss him so much when he leaves. I mean, wouldn't it be a tragedy if I was jumping up and down happy when he left?

Sometimes reading the news about Ebola and ISIS(why do they hate us so much?!) and school lunches and random clown sightings and drive by shootings, I really wonder about this world.

My thoughts are really jumbling, I need to get some sleep....

Friday, October 24, 2014

day off from school!

Today is too lazy. Not that it started out that way...Charlotte Claire opened my bedroom door this morning to report that the kitten pooped in her room. ugh. I got up, showered, took my sweet time getting to that inevitable clean up job....and believe me, it was not the kitten who did it. No way no how. I cleaned it up, all happily and singing songs. ha. I had to have the girls hold the kitten while I did it, she thought it was time to play attack the scrubbing paper towels and the crinkly Walmart bag they paper towels were going in to.

Anyway, I guess there was a trail of it downstairs too, oh the joy of having pets. I said I really don't mind cleaning it up, but it hurts to lean over that long, and my knees are shot, so.....if anyone else would be so kind....Kathryn won the prize. She cleaned it all up, every bit, with no complaint. I told her I was going to give her some money, I am so happy she did it. Suri ate a bit of food this morning, but she seems off. I think she has been eating too many pears from the pear tree perhaps.

I hope that's it.

We do lock the dogs in the living room at night, but they are masters at moving the board across the hallway.

Anyway. After sweeping the floors and cleaning counters and puttering around putting things away, I got some coffee and some breakfast and sat down here in my comfy chair. Sonja took the kids outside to clean up the yard and play in the leaves. Evelyn washed the pizza pans from last night, and now wants to go to the library. The librarian called this morning, they have a chemistry book for Kap, it may not be the same one, but they found it in the basement with the donations and we can have it.

There are ten of us home here this fine morning, and it hasn't been boring, let me tell you.

Oh, I made new valances for the living room yesterday, after going to the dentist, Marshalls so that Marg could look for something, the grocery store (Margaret needed facewash and a few other things), BJ's for butter and a huge box of cereal, and the dollar store for a few random things...I started sewing after we put the groceries away. First a dress for Cam's doll. Then one for Charlotte Claire's doll. Then, the valances.

They are finished and hanging, I don't love them, but they are better than the old ones, and they really go with the room.

Now I want to start on the kitchen ones....

Oh, if you happen to stop in? Yeah, I know the sewing machine is still on the kitchen table. I am not finished sewing yet.

Cam is cutting out paper dolls, Char is playing dollhouse, Jon is whistling and playing Star Wars Commander on his tablet, and Sonja has my phone.

Evelyn is getting ready to go to the library, Joseph is probably painting, and I have yet to see Miss Margaret this morning. Kap is probably playing games with Suze.

oh, my exciting life. Paul is leaving for France again tomorrow, for a week this time.

The little kids are going on an adventure tonight with their big sister Emily....the Haunted Pumpkin Walk, which isn't it's real name. It's in a county park, and hundreds of pumpkins are carved and lit up along paths in the woods. It is really really fun and nice to get out and walk in the dark...I wish I were going:)

And Ev will be checking up on me soon to see if I am indeed getting ready like I said I I had better start:)

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

up too late, and other equally random facts...

1. I bought fabric for new curtains yesterday, and now I want to sew!

2. It is past midnight, and I am tired, but the quiet is too nice.

3. We had turkey for dinner...but it wasn't the dinner I had envisioned. Six of the kids went to the youth meeting before the turkey was done cooking, oops, so they ate a little when they came home.

4. I made butternut squash and peas for dinner too, and had mine with a small bit of ShockTop Pumpkin Ale. yum.

5. Tomorrow morning, Emily is picking up the three youngest kids at nine a.m., to go on an adventure. They are to wear rainboots and jackets, she has umbrellas. They are beyond excited, and full of speculation.

6. I am in a painting mood, too. Not portraits or masterpieces, just the walls.

7. My walk did not happen today. boo. Tomorrow, for sure.

8. Paul leaves for France AGAIN this Saturday. blah.

9. Today my sister-in-law Kim came over with her two youngest kids (one of her older girls was already here, since Saturday in fact:)). They played hide and seek and office and dress up, house, and dolls.

10. Kim and I visited, drank too much coffee, and solved the worlds' problems.

11. I finished a whole library book already...from yesterday.

12. This morning, we learned about ancient Egypt. The kids were fascinated that cats were sometimes mummified after death....

13. Taking care of two big stupid Labrador Retrievers on a rainy day is hard work. They come in all wet and muddy several-everal times, and have to be toweled off, and kept off the furniture until they dry.

14. I drank too much coffee today and got jittery. oops. Then, after behaving all day, I ate four caramels, and felt really jittery. I am not used to that much sugar, and believe me, I didn't like how I felt, which is a good thing.

15. Tomorrow is Wednesday, half off at the thrift store. I also have a dentist appointment...a crown fell off one of my molars, and I have been carrying it in a baggy in my purse. It was expensive so I am glad I didn't swallow it, and hope it will go right back on.

16. I hate going to the dentist. Simply hate it. I would rather give birth with no pain meds than sit in that chair.

17. And believe me, I have given birth with no pain meds! It was all the rage back when I had the first few....even when I was induced with a few of them, pitocin, and no demerol.

18. Okay, I am too tired for this...goodnight!

Monday, October 20, 2014

lazy sort of day....

It has been a good day so far. My friend Martha stopped by. I have known Martha from the Bloggy World for years now. I met her In Real Life a while back, and went to her house. Today, she came here. It was a very pleasant visit, just ask Jonny, who is a People Person, and thought that Martha came just to see him:) I had put pumpkin muffins in the oven to warm it a bit in here, and dang it, I forgot to offer one to Martha....she will just have to come over again.

We are heading to the library. It is essential for home school, to stock up on those books. During our school days, when they finish their work, if they're looking for something to do, my first response is Go Read A Book. Cam usually answers that she has already read all of hers. The older girls do a lot of their work from library borrowed text books. And I just plain love getting a new stack of books for myself.

A stop at the store is in order too, we are out of butter, need a gallon of milk, and perhaps some fresh produce. I love apple season, we have an abundance of those, and a pile of squashes too. Oh, for dinner last night, I finally tried spaghetti squash. I made a big pot of meat sauce with peppers and onions, and a pan of pasta (spaghetti) for the kids, plus some green beans...anyway, I loved the squash! It was SO easy to make. I just quartered it, took out the guts, and microwaved it. Paul and I each ate a quarter, it came out of the rind like spaghetti, like magic, and it tasted so good with the sauce.

Too bad I had to go and eat two pumpkin muffins for breakfast. Blah. Oh well, I can behave for the rest of the day. I can't help it I am such a good baker.

It is cold and overcast, and I wish I had a fireplace in my living room. I think we will get a space heater in here for our homeschooling days, so it is at least warm and cuddly.

The dogs are snoring on the couch, the girls are cleaning their rooms, Jon is hooking something up in his room, the older girls are doing some work. They came out of their room to make bacon and eggs...

The fact of the matter is that I could just go crawl into my comfy bed and take a nap today. I stayed up too late last night, and didn't sleep well. I just kept waking up. When it was time to get up this morning, I would close my eyes again and be dreaming again, it was so hard to get up. When it's dark and chilly, a nap sounds so nice. I don't really take naps anymore, but I do remember them fondly. They were my main goal in life back when I had baby after baby, and sleep was a rarity.

Ah well, time to get moving again...

Saturday, October 18, 2014

saturday morning in our crazy house.....

Sometimes I just take in the moment, and say to myself, "right now, I am happy. Right this very minute." This morning, I did not want to go out in the rain. No way, no how. But I know myself, and how quick I am with the excuses, so I just didn't listen, and went out anyway. The neighbor lady stopped her car and commented to me about walking in the rain, and I thought she must think I'm nuts. As I got more wet, and my sneakers started sloshing, I wondered if everyone on the street thinks I'm crazy. Even without the walks, they probably do. But guess what? I don't really care.

The kids are out playing in the rain now. It is only sprinkling, but it is very wet out there.

They woke me up about a million times this morning, slamming doors and laughing and running down the hall. Jon has a friend here, and somehow even one extra kid makes them crazier. When I finally got out of bed and came out here, the dogs had already been out, back in, and fed and watered. The kids were playing Nerf, thus the screeching and slamming. I asked them to please do something quieter for a bit, some of us don't get many days to sleep in. So they played Mario Cart, which wasn't much quieter...

Anyway. It is a good day. Suzanne went to the dump with Paul. Abigail is coming over to borrow our pick up truck to return 5 cent cans and bottles, with Jon and his friend, for a fundraiser for church.

I don't know yet what I shall do.

Our kitchen table is covered with boxes and paint. It all started yesterday when Cam and I walked into Walmart to get a new bulb for the van's headlight and discovered two carts full of paint samples for ten cents each. Regular wall paint. Oh, fun! I let Camille pick out eleven bottles. I actually told her ten, but she found an eleventh. Anyway, that made her want to paint something. So when we went to BJ's, we got some boxes...

We taped brown wrapping paper, the kind for sending packages, on the table, and let them paint. They are making dollhouses, of course.

Not at this very moment, but they aren't finished yet, so the table looks lovely.

One of the things I have struggled with through the years is to balance letting the kids do lots of fun stuff with keeping the house from falling down. I don't let them eat in their rooms or anything, but then again I pretend not to notice when Kap and Suze head down the hall with plates balanced on cups and chip bags in their hands.

This IS their house too, but they also need to respect things, and learn to clean up after themselves. I don't like sticky, or crumbs, or dirty. No shoes in the house, wash your hands before and after you eat, don't lick your fingers then put your hand back in the bag. Emily recently thanked me for teaching them table manners. She said, "Mom, you wouldn't believe some of the adults who don't know how to eat properly. Smacking, licking their fingers, talking with food in their mouths..." Sometimes I think I have created intolerant brats, they way my kids get so grossed out so easily by slurping and smacking.

Seriously, though, eating at the table together as a family is good for more than just hearing about each other's days.

Is it evident through my scrambled writing that there is a lot going on around here today? Abigail is here, spurring the littler ones to beg to spend the night at her house.

Anyway, I am done writing for now....

Thursday, October 16, 2014

homeschool fun fun

Ice cream! Last one of the season, I said. Suze said I have said that like ten times this year, but she exaggerates. Sonja saw the pics and said that I promised her ice cream, so I guess I'll have to go at least one more time.

The place in town has pumpkin soft serve.

Today went out and about after we finished our work....Pizza Hut was first. I was able to get Book-It rewards for the younger three, so they got free pan pizzas.

We stopped into the pet store, and these girls just BEGGED for a new puppy. Um, no. They promised to take care of it. Um, do you know how much these puppies cost?

Jon found a comfy chair in this store...

Too much fun, is what we had today.

Who else but me buys a whole cart full of stuff at the dollar store?

And, goodnight. Little girls are asking to be tucked in, and big girls are fighting about girls stuff....


I made myself take that morning walk. Oh I like it well enough, once I get out there. But day after day, I don't want to leave the house. This fine morning, for example, I swept the floors first. I wiped off a few counters, and started in on the dishes. But, no, I told myself, I have to go for my walk before the kids get up.

It was lovely, my walk. It was misty and overcast. This morning, I thought about Ebola. Jonathan says that if that's how God wants to end the world, it's His business, and we can't worry about it. And, he says, can we please not talk about it in front of him, he'll have bad dreams. Charlotte Claire says that God knows what we need, and that we can't be afraid. Now, I have read Stephen King's, "The Stand", a few times. The newscasters were telling America how fine everything was, at gunpoint, courtesy of the U.S. Army. Now as the mother of sixteen children, of course I worry. Four of my kids are nurses. I am not losing sleep because of intense fear, but believe me, it does cross my mind to be concerned for their safety because of how contagious Ebola is. I don't know how events will unfold, but it seems to me that this disease is underestimated. That Americans feel insulated and safe and far away from it. But anyway, I feel so so bad for the nurses and healthcare workers in Dallas. No one in their right mind can blame them. Can you imagine how many people show up in a busy emergency room each and every day with flu symptoms, fevers, not feeling well? It is not their fault if someone who later was tested positive for Ebola was overlooked, or not quarantined. If we have a Center For Disease Control, and they are doing their jobs, getting paid....they should have been educating nurses and health care workers for months now about how to keep themselves safe/treat patients/ect. There should be protocol in place!

That's my little rant. Being a mom sometimes though, I just can't stand it. I know in my heart that God is watching over my kids, and that He sends what's for their best. But I can't help loving them so, and sometimes I wish I simply didn't just love them so much. A little bit of indifference, you know, so I wouldn't ache just thinking of one of them suffering. It makes us human and vulnerable to love so deeply, but it also makes life scary.

This morning, we are working on our school work. Division and measurements and book reports. The two older girls mostly work on their own, with me just helping by buying them text books and taking them to the library.

And well, one of my little girls is having a little fit about something, so off I go....

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

rainy cozy autumn day....

Paul and I worked at the college basketball stadium last night. There was an exhibition game between the NY Knicks and the Sixers, NBA. We were busy, and it was fun....but. This morning, I decided not to go on my walk. My feet are killing me, my knees ached all night. Working at the Dome standing/walking on a concrete floor for hours, and ouch.

Anyway, I am not going to be totally lazy though, we are leaving to go to the rec center pool in a half an hour, gym class!

Jon is still working on his school work this morning, the girls have finished theirs. They are cleaning up their toys, in anticipation of Camille's birthday, which they are talking about and planning. We are going to make a pinata, art class! They want a tea party, and to dress all their dolls up, and play house, and and and....her birthday is on November 7th, but we are celebrating it early because Paul and I are going on a little trip the weekend of her birthday...but that is another story.

The story is this...we are going to Washington, D.C., to see Samuel, with Mirielle, Margaret, and Evelyn. I feel like a Bad Mom that I accepted the invite to go on this trip with total happiness, and didn't even realize it was Cam's birthday. And believe me, I feel like even a Badder Mom that I didn't bow out when I did realize it. We are just going to celebrate the week before. And yeah, I still feel a bit guilty. But she will be fine! The older kids will all be around (Emily, Abigail, Joseph, Aaron, Mali), so I am going to arrange for one of those guys to take her out for pizza on her actual birthday. She will be in good hands here at home...

Anyway. It is raining out, a perfect fall day. The trees in the yard are changing to bright yellows and oranges, with a few red leaves mixed in.

My little granddaughter Anya Jade turned one year old yesterday. I sent her birthday packages out in the mail yesterday, she isn't old enough to know that Grandma was late. I love her and miss her and hate that she is so far away. The United States is a huge country. 2,754 miles from here to where they live. 41 hours to drive it. Hundreds of dollars to fly there. It's simply too far away for a Grandma. I should be able to cuddle that little girl, to read her stories, to see her take those little first steps, and to spoil her. I want her to know me. I want to see her face light up when she sees her Grammy. I want her to know her Grammy's house, to feel at home here. Before she was born, I didn't know about that grandchild bond. I guessed I would love my grandkids, but didn't perceive the depth of love I would feel immediately. I didn't know my heart would ache seeing pictures of her, and the emptiness I would feel not really being a part of her life. I am glad for facebook and for all the pictures her mom posts of her, she is a little doll.

with Benjamin....

Well, my own little princesses are ready to go to the pool. They have picked out towels and have their suits on under their clothes. Have I mentioned how much I am enjoying homeschooling?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

homeschooling is amazing!

Today, we got up and went to the dentist. oops though, the receptionist apologetically told us that our appointment wasn't for this morning, it was for this afternoon! Well, I can't make it this afternoon, I am working at the basketball game at the Dome!

So, we rescheduled (yay, kids, no dentist appointment today!) And voila', we had to day to ourselves! We did what the kids voted on, we went to the Fun Playground.

Jonny...he had just finished telling his sisters how easy it was to climb this thing...then he was a little hesitant when he hit the top.

We stopped at the store afterward for grapes and bread and some disinfectant spray and a donut for the hungry kids, and some water bottles. It's a warm day, 81 degrees, and we were thirsty. The fountain at the playground didn't work, and we forgot to bring water with us.

Home...ah, home. Not for long, I have to leave for the basketball game, it's an NBA exposition game.

The kids are doing their school work now. I actually hate making them do it, it's so nice out....

Friday, October 10, 2014

just a quick post....

This bad little kitten almost had a ride in the washing machine. I had loaded it up, then decided to grab a few more things to put in, and when I turned around, kitten was jumping up, trying to get in. Oh dear. Stupid little sweetheart. I was up before the school kids this morning, puttering around and getting things done, since I am leaving for a day of grill shopping soon, and that kitten simply loves me. She follows, she attacks, she purrs when I scoop her up. Our bigger kitty doesn't really like her, but she doesn't care in the least. She continues to attack him, he hisses and sighs and puts his head on his paws...

Miss Char with kitty...

Camille was pretty excited to get this...she couldn't wait for breakfast.

Okay, here's the thing. I didn't think my pathetic little work-outs amounted to much, and then...I for somehow stopped doing them. I still walk, and still intend to get back to those work-outs, but the days go by, and when I get in bed at night I realize that, oops, I didn't work out again today.

So this morning, I decided to forgo the morning walk, and exercise in my room before the girls woke up. See, once I go out Into The House, there is so much to do I don't know where to start! The dogs need to go out and be fed, the floors swept, ect. So I worked out before I even left my room. A few months ago I could do 4 sets of 20, ha. But I have to start somewhere, so I am deciding to just be glad to be back on track.

And I need to move it....

Thursday, October 9, 2014

just another day....

What makes a day a good day? Well, the kids got along well, none of the teenage girls fought, one of the more difficult ones was downright pleasant, I did lots of laundry, I made dinner early enough for them to eat before soccer practice, and they liked it. (chicken soup).

Personally, a good day is a day when I keep my vision lifted, and am quick to acknowledge my own sin. A good day is when I stay out of the cookies (I baked a triple batch of chocolate chip cookies last night!)
Okay, so when I baked them last night, I did taste the dough, and I broke off a few corners, just to make positive they were excellent, and yes, they were. But today, I did not touch them. In fact, I sent a huge container with the kids to soccer practice...Anyway, I stayed from bad things today, like cookies.

I took Miss Char and Jonathan to the dentist, and sadly they have a few cavities. They are really small, thankfully they had xrays and they were caught quickly, but we have to go back in next week for fillings. I told you guys how important brushing and flossing is, I told them.

We took a quick run into Aldi while we were in the neighborhood, because Aldi has butternut squash for 99cents each this week. We ate all the ones from our garden already, I can prepare three or four of them and it is not enough. So we bought nine. I wanted 20, but they take up all the room in the cart.

This weekend is another soccer tournament at church, for the kids here who are under 16. We also have to send a crew of us to the Dome for a college football game, so it will be busy. Joseph and Margaret will be going to the football game to work, I will stay and work at the grill/candy store for soccer. Hopefully I will get to watch the kids play! Evelyn, Suzanne, Sonja, play. Jon practices with the team, but doesn't really play yet, but will have to sub if he is needed. Kathryn helps coach. So I hope I get to watch just a bit, anyway! I would actually love to watch each and every game, but that is not going to happen.

And, Paul comes home on Saturday night! Yay! I simply cannot wait.

Tomorrow morning, I am heading out to do the rest of the shopping for our church grill this weekend. I already wrote out lessons for the kids, and talked to them about it. Kathryn and Suzanne and Joseph will hold down the fort for me for a few hours. The kids are getting used to not being able to watch televison/play video games during the day, so they get creative. Today, they played dollhouse, and they played, "Star Wars", using broomsticks as light sabers.

I also cleaned my room, this evening. I have so many clothes, but never anything to wear. I put away summer stuff, and sorted, washed my bedding, vacuumed, and found things I didn't remember having.

My evening snack: a bowl of spinach, with the leftover squash, with a few spoons of chicken from the soup on top. I only had a few tablespoons of soup for dinner because I had just had coffee and wasn't very hungry. I usually don't eat in the evening, just a cup of tea, or sometimes a piece of gum. I am trying to learn to listen to my body when I am not very hungry, and NOT listen to it when I am starving:) I actually try not to let myself get really hungry, that's when poor decisions are made. And, I am re-learning to use my brain! Veggies and meat, a few nuts, an apple....good things to eat! I need to eat frequently, keep satisfied, so that I don't just eat cookies. I know it works, it just takes work, and a bit of suffering.

Ah well, my warm comfy bed is calling me...

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

dawdling and dilly dallying....

I do have things to do today, I really do. It's not my fault I got caught up in reading Drudge Report. Do you know there's a school district out in Washington state that's phasing out swingsets on the playgrounds? I guess kids get hurt on swings, and the insurance company for the district is putting pressure on the school to get rid of them.

My own childhood keeps getting better and better compared to how kids grow up these days. I mean, we didn't get home from school and park in front of a screen. If we were sick, we got to lie around and watch, "The Munsters", or, "Gilligan's Island", but otherwise, we were outside playing. We climbed trees and went exploring, we played kickball in the road, or huge games of jump rope. We rode our bikes everywhere, without cell phones to tell our mommies where we were. We jumped in piles of leaves, and sledded down hills in the neighborhood. We ice skated on the frozen swamp, or walked into town to use the public rink, which was free. We played games of hide and seek with all the kids on the block sometimes, even when it was getting dark out.

I tried to raise my kids like this too. We don't live in a neighborhood, but we have enough of our own kids, and when you add in some cousins, they certainly didn't lack for kids to play with. They have been allowed to make forts and roam the woods and climb trees and jump in those piles of leaves. I love those days when they go barefoot and run in and out of the house.

Today, our livingroom is sporting the Kids Live Here look. To achieve this, you get out a bin of Hess trucks, and park them on every table. You take building blocks, and scatter them all over the rug. You set some dolls on the couches, and set a bag of candy fireballs on the coffee table. You throw in a big bouncy ball, a sit-and-spin, a few Little Tikes plastic chairs, scatter some childrens' books around the floor, on the tables, on the couches, and voila! It looks nice and cozy!

Now, don't get me wrong. I don't like messes. But honestly, I have had children now for 29 and a half years. Eight of my kids are over 18 now, so I know how fast childhood flies by. Kids have to be able to play! This is their house too, it isn't my house! I keep the floors swept and clean, and I putter around, cleaning counters and washing clothes, making sure their bedding is clean, vacuuming cobwebs, putting the books vertically on the shelves....but it doesn't have to look like a furniture showroom in here. They can have blankies on the couches to cuddle under, and set up houses and forts.

It is dark and overcast today. I took my walk, assigned work, which most of them have finished. I made French Toast while Jonathan made scrambled eggs with cheese. He is dilly dallying with his work, the girls are finished and playing with is trucks. He is playing with the kitten....

Out and about we are going soon though, I want to get some of the stuff for this weekend's soccer tournament. Cases of Gatorade and water and soda and candy and and and.....I think I'll bring these three younger ones with me...they make it fun.

Paul called me today from France. I can't believe how, after all these years, I still love hearing his voice. He told me how he gave a girl there in the office a packet of Skittles, and she made him a special dessert in return. He didn't really think just giving someone candy merited a thank you gift, he said he couldn't imagine what she would do if he were to give her some AirHeads. I told him please don't.:) He is so funny. Blah, he has to fly into Belgium and only has an hour to get on his international flight, I hope he doesn't miss it. He is coming home on Saturday evening....I love it that I can't wait! If you have been reading this for any length of time, you know by now that our marriage isn't perfect. Sometimes I feel invisible, sometimes I feel like I can't do anything right. I get frustrated, I get barraged by feel-sorry-for-myself thoughts. But at the end of the day, I seriously still love my husband. And I can't express how thankful I am that he still loves me too.

"ABCDEFG....Gummy Bears are chasing me,
one is red,
one is blue,
one is peeing on my shoe,
now I'm running for my life,
because the red one has a knife."

That's what my little girls are singing right now.

Oh dear.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

lovely autumn day....

Today was a good day. My sister-in-law, who homeschools four of her kids this year, came over for a visit. Since my kids aren't allowed any television or video games during the day on school days, they found things to do. The little girls played dolls, the boys with Hess trucks and Jon's train, some Nerf guns....they went outside and picked a few pears, rode bikes, climbed trees, ran around.

Emily came over this morning too, we planned for this weekend's grill at the soccer weekend at church. She took Kathryn and Suzanne and two cousins out and about...they went to lunch in the small city, then shopping.

Kim and I had coffee, and lunch with the kids, but mostly sat around talking all the live-long day.

This afternoon, I made a nice dinner. I peeled and cubed four butternut squash, peeled some potatoes, and put two fat chickens into the oven. I made gravy, and mashed up that squash and those potatoes, with lots of butter. The six older kids (and one cousin who stayed for dinner!) had to leave for the youth meeting, so they began eating before I even finished preparing all the food...I ended up eating all by my lonesome, then cleaning it all is certainly still busy enough.

I talked to Paul this afternoon, too. I miss him. He's in France, still. On Saturday he took a day trip to Geneva, Switzerland. I was in Washington, D.C., and he was in Switzerland. :) It's nice he enjoys himself on his work trips, but I do get a teeny tiny bit jealous. How can he have fun without ME? I am kind of kidding. Kind of. I did have fun without him, but all the while we were looking at interesting things, I was thinking how much he would enjoy it.

Our weekend away to visit Sam was so totally fun....I drove about 3/4 of the way down, then Abigail did the hard part, the city driving part, while I navigated. She did fine, she is more chill than I thought she was. When we got to the base, we had to all get out of the minivan while a few MP's searched it. The box of Frankenberry cereal I had brought for Sam fell out of the back hatch when they asked us to open it, I thought Kathryn and Suzanne would die of embarrassment. They didn't find anything illegal, so they copied down Abigail's license number, and let us go.

Sam was pretty happy to see us. He showed us around base, and I got in trouble for taking a picture of the barracks he is going to be moving into. It has a nice sign out front, and is a handsome old Virginian building, but the soldier who chastised me for photographing it said it isn't allowed, taking pictures of buildings on base. He said that if the military police saw me, I would be in BIG trouble. Oooh, scarrrrry. not.

We drove downtown and got some dinner from Chipotle, then went to check into the hotel. We dragged in all of our extra bedding and pillows, and settled down for a fun evening of snacks and talking and being silly. A few of us went up to the pool...a heated pool on the top floor, with such a beautiful view of D.C.

Saturday was tour D.C. day, and I loved every minute of it. I won't bore you with the details, but we saw memorials and the Smithsonian, and walked right up to the Washington Monument. I loved the warm windy sunny weather, and loved watching people. Such a huge mix of people, from all over.

We got pretty hungry, despite the huge amount of snacks I lugged around in my purse. So, to Pizza hut we went. We ordered pizzas, then went over to McDonalds for coffee for me, and milkshakes for some of the kids (and chicken nuggets for Kathryn). Back to the hotel we went, for another fun evening....

Sunday, we packed up all of our stuff, and headed to a shopping mall in the city.

It went by too quickly, and before we knew it, we were saying goodbye to poor Sam, who in his sweet charming way made it known that he would truly miss us.

Anyway, it was an excellent weekend. I did miss my little girls though, and a few of my older ones too. And Paul. I love missing him though, knowing that he will be home soon and we will be so glad to see each other. I am very thankful for him, and for what we have.

It is quiet in here now, the kids have all gone to bed, the bad dogs are snoring, probably dreaming up plans of what to get into tonight. Last night, they ate my pies.

I made two pumpkin pies, and an apple pie when Aaron came for a visit yesterday. We then went to Target, and to the grocery store, heading home with visions of pie for dessert. I made hamburgers for dinner...I ate mine with no bun, but I did have some pie. Oh it was good. Well, those dogs somehow got the rest of the apple pie, and almost a half of a pumpkin pie, out of the glass pie plates on the counter, and onto the floor, where they ate some, and left some all over the floor. That apple pie was excellent, those bad dogs. It was made with apples we picked from the orchard, the crust made with butter...

They also got into the garbage, which I had forgotten to put up on a chair, and ate all the grease that I had poured from making the hamburgers, into an empty can. The can was again empty, on the living room floor. rrrr. Bad dogs. But, they are extremely cute and cuddly and they look so innocent.

Ah well. I need to get to bed so I can get up and take my walk in the morning.

Monday, October 6, 2014

our trip to see sam.....

Kathryn, Sonja, Jonny, Suze, Abigail, and I on our way down to see Samuel in Washington...

We were pretty happy to see him on Friday!

Sonja, Kathryn, Sam, the Washington Monument.

Abigail, Sam, Jon...Sam is a walking encyclopedia of history facts, especially about WWII.

He would start explaining things, and other people would stop to listen too.

At the Korean War memorial...

Jon at the Smithsonian Vietnam display....

Smithsonian: 1964 Ford Mustang. Jon liked it okay:)

The view from our hotel....

The silliness that went on in our hotel room! Jon is like a little puppy with Sam, and Sam gives Jon the time of day. These boys jumped on the bed, they watched cartoons, ate snacks in the beds...

Our visit was somber, too. Visiting those memorials was sad enough, but there were groups of veterens there. Sam liked to shake their hands and meet them, thank them, ask them where they fought.

This man insisted on getting out of his wheelchair to properly honor the display from the Pacific. His tears made us cry too. Sam thanked him, and we heard him say he fought at Okinawa.

Seeing these guys gaze at the monuments, lost in thought, with tears on their cheeks, was just unbelievably sobering. I was honestly shocked at how amazing the WWII display was, it blew me away. I had thought I was going along just to make Sam happy, but is was really something else.

We really enjoyed our time with Sam. We went to a grocery store I had never been in...Harris Teeter...
I am a grocery store geek. We had to pay to park there, in the city at the grocery store! It's all about parking down there!

Besides seeing the war memorials and the Monument and the Lincoln Memorial, we went to the Smithsonian, and...the mall. A shopping mall. Sam had to get special wood hangers to keep his Old Guard uniform pristine, so we went to Bed, Bath, and Beyond. (he doesn't have a car down there). We went to the mall, ate at the foodcourt (not me, I had a coffee and a pumpkin cookie from the grocery store). We never did get to Arlington, Sam said he wasn't dressed nice enough, and we simply ran out of was time to head home, back to New York....

Saying goodbye is never easy.