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

Sunday, May 31, 2015

time...the most precious commodity...

It's intangible, worth more than gold, and sometimes people have too much of it on their hands. We hate wasting it on waiting in line or being on hold or sitting in waiting rooms. Time is truly precious.

It flies when we're having fun, which is why my particular life is going by so fast.

BTW, off on a tangent, do you know what I hate? A quiet house with a ticking clock. I hate the sound of a ticking clock, period. It just seems to scream, "Your life is going by!"

My princesses are needing me...Char just put gum in Cam's hair, then pulled it back out. They are full of "it", and need something to do. So off I go to spend some of my precious commodity with them...:)

Saturday, May 30, 2015

random saturday evening musings...

With no pictures, because I left my phone at the soccer tournament, which was today...the older kids are still there for a youth feast. Paul and I brought the three youngest home, and they are watching, SpongeBob.

Phew. It WAS a day. I made some snow cones and sold some candy to some cute little kids. One extremely sweet young teenage boy came up and explained that he gave another kid a dollar to pay for his snow cone, and he wanted to make sure we got it...his tender conscience wanted to make sure he had paid. We served chicken tender baskets and burgers and hot dogs and some grilled cheese sandwiches. We fried fries and made pizzas. We sold drinks and cotton candy. We watched our team lose...three times. I have four kids playing on the team this year, Evelyn 15, Suzanne 14, Sonja 13, and Jonathan 11. They did have tons of fun, which is not as exciting as winning, but.

It was warm and sunny, then warm and cloudy, then it poured, then cleared up, then rained again...the kids were able to get their games played though.

So I am tired and happy. The three youngest kids are exhausted. They are just sprawled on the couch. We have to get up in the morning and go again...:) Maybe, just maybe...our kids will win their only game tomorrow.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

life's a beach!....

We live close to Lake Ontario, twenty one miles away. I had plans for tomorrow, grill shopping for church...buying all the odds and ends we didn't get today at Costco and Wegmans. Things like candy and pepperoni for the pizzas, and lots of other stuff.

Mali called me this evening and asked go to the beach tomorrow. Um, um, I have to go shopping...wait, of course I'll go! The shopping can be done later in the day. Days are long, right? The sun will be shining tomorrow, in the high eighties, is too short to not go to the beach.

Davian is going with us, too. I love the little guy.

Today was too much fun. of temptation...oh the yummies on those shelves. I found some real treasures though: school books for next year for the princesses, and huge laminated maps! We got a new U.S. map, which is now hanging on our kitchen/dining room wall, and on of the world which is on the living room wall...classy, I know, but who cares? And, two huge posters of the solar system, which we hung in the hallway.

Ah well, I am going to help the girls pack for the beach.

early morning bliss....

I had to get up early this morning and drive Margaret to her nanny job. I get up at 6 ish every morning anyway, so I can see Evelyn and Sonja before they get on the school bus. In the winter time I had gotten lazy about this, and blissfully slept in when I could...and the girls didn't like it. Even 13 and 15 year olds like their mama in the morning.

Anyway. I dropped Margaret off, and went to the grocery store Was I lonely and bored? Ha. I loved walking up and down the aisles without apologizing to anyone about what I forgot to look at. I had no teenagers with me to roll their eyes at all the packages of reduced meat I put into the cart (bonus! I got some good deals on beef! It's so expensive these days, but I was right behind the lady who was marking down yesterday's stuff...still good, and cheaper!)

And at the register, I chatted with the nice cashier about her five year old son, and how quickly childhood goes by, she admitted she cries when she sees his baby pics because he has grown up so fast. The lady behind me in line joined the conversation, she has five kids and had we agreed that kids are all so different. It was nice to converse with some nice ladies.

Home...ah home. Davian is here. Right now he is reading a huge Christmas sing-along book. He can read, so he can sing all the songs with the music when he presses the button. This child does not get bored. He is so dang cute.

Jonathan is reading, and the girls are playing dollhouse. Soon Joseph is going to take over watching them, and I am going to....Costco! With Emily. We are shopping for the soccer tournament this weekend, for the grill.

And, I am heading out to the deck in a few minutes to grill my breakfast...a couple of steaks that were marked down. Mmm.

So, it's a good day.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

home home again...

Jonathan and I at the metro. Riding this was a whole adventure in itself. The kids were pretty excited about it, and Grandma was too...

...until she realized that she is a little bit claustrophobic. But she did fine.

Miss Char insisted on carrying the chair.


Oh the adventures we had. It wasn't all fun and games at the time, for example when we got to the airport to pick up the rental van at 7:00 a.m. only to be told they had no record of our reservation. Luckily they still had a 7 passenger vehicle...lucky, but expensive. Come to find out I had the wrong rental agency, oops my bad. I did walk down the whole line of those agencies, and none that were open had any reservations in our name.

The ride itself was mostly uneventful, except for when I sped up nicely to sneak in and change lanes, only to have a nice Audi pull in front of me at the same time, dang it was close.

We found the Army base, pulled into the gate...and found out that civilians are no longer allowed entrance at this gate. The nice M.P. gave us directions to way out in East Jesus, as Grandma Eleanor likes to say, back on the highway and all the way around...after getting just a tiny bit lost, we made our way to a different gate. Again, not allowed. This M.P. told me to calm down, it's not that bad, and sent us on our way with more directions. Directions tend to go in one ear and out the other with me, especially when I seriously have to pee, after drinking too much coffee on a long trip.

Gate # 3! We found it, and didn't even have our vehicle searched...I guess we looked harmless enough.

Samuel!!! Yay, it was nice to see Sam.

He navigated to our hotel, and I drove through that horrendous traffic....(after a quick run into the bathroom at the commisary). We found the hotel, grabbed some luggage,, no record of any reservations at this hotel in our name...Eleanor and I just looked at each other. We had just gotten through saying, that if THIS place also had no record of us....

Seems we were at the right hotel in the wrong location. I didn't realize there were two Homewood Suites right in the same vicinity.

oops. Back to the car.

Our hotel was delightful. We mostly enjoyed the 24 hour coffee/tea station. Those three youngest kids of mine had so much tea with vanilla fact, they were drinking those little creamers straight.

Char, Samuel, Jonathan, the metro station.

There is nothing on God's green earth as beautiful as a big brother with his younger siblings.

Camille's feet hurt...we had walked enough miles! Samuel does ruck marches through D.C., carrying a heavy pack. This particular pack looked nice and comfy on his back.

We took a trip to the battlefield at Manassas. It was a beautiful day, and I enjoyed walking around and resting on a bench with Grandma.

I know, I know, I am not the best photographer. But this is with Stonewall Jackson.

We saw a giraffe in the Natural History Museum.

These three had lots of fun.

Camille needed shade! She just loves umbrellas.

At the parade! It was fantastic. We had a good spot to watch, and the intermittent breeze saved us from dying in the hot sun.

And the very very best part of the parade....

Samuel in uniform!! He was in the front row, second from right. They looked so spiffy, the Honor Guard.

Grandma took us out to dinner...milk shakes for kids!

Paul and Sam and Paul's mom (Eleanor, Grandma:))

It was nice to see Samuel. We went to Arlington, and saw the changing of the guard at the Tomb of The Unknown Soldier. We saw the flags that were lovingly placed on each and every grave there, by Sam and other soldiers...over two hundred thousand!

Arlington is huge. Rolling hills, filled with row after row of gravestones. And to see those flags waving in the breeze...Sam told me how tedious it is to place those really is something. We had to get him back to base at a reasonable time last evening, because he had to be up while it was still dark this take all the flags back off.

As much as we enjoyed our trip, it was nice to be home again. The kids like visiting cities, but wouldn't want to live in one.

The washing machine wouldn't turn on when we got home, Paul with laundry from France as well as this trip...well, a bird built a nice little nest AND laid eggs in the hose that leads from the dryer to outside. That was causing the dryer to be too hot, the room to be hot, and the washer has a sensor that won't let it run when it's too hot. So. Problem solved. yay. Just what we love, Paul operating on appliances right when he walks in the door.

Davian is here with us today. The girls have showed him pictures from my phone from the trip, and are now doing a huge underwater creatures puzzle with him. Jonathan is reading his new book from the gift shop at Manassas (thank you, Grandma!). They have already played Thomas the Train, but picked it all up, and office, but not picked that up yet...and a marble game, and dollhouse. It is hot in here, but the fan is humming, and making me sleepy.

All in all, I would give our trip an A+. The crowds weren't bad, we rode the subway okay, didn't get lost or mugged or too tired out...and, we had fun. Seeing Sam was the best part, but the rest was enjoyable too. The pool and the hot tub, oh especially that hot tub, after traipsing around the felt fine.

And now, back to Real Life. There is a soccer tournament this weekend, which means planning and shopping and there are people to drive places, and we need groceries...and and and....

Sunday, May 24, 2015

here in the nation's capital....

Okay, our hotel is actually in Virginia, but we did visit Washington, D.C. yesterday.

This was taken today at the battlefield at Manassas Virginia. Sam and Paul and Grandma and Jonathan and Char and Cam...

Tomorrow....back to the big city for the Memorial Day parade.

More pics when I get to it...because believe me, thousands and thousands of flags on the graves in Arlington National Cemetery...and and and...lots of pics...but I am tired tonight. We walked to our local Target to buy an umbrella to shade the sun tomorrow because it will be broiling hot, not that we'll be complaining...after all, Samuel will be the one in the full uniform marching ten blocks, after being at a ceremony at the Tomb of The Unknown soldier, standing in the heat, perfectly still....(the Target we walked to was a city Target, with escalators. The princesses were impressed.)


Friday, May 22, 2015

we made it to washington d.c.!!!

Samuel and Eleanor (my mother-in-law).

We made it down here!!! Yay! There are stories to tell, but those will have to wait...I am tired out, and happy to see Sam...and Paul...phew.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

the day before the trip....

Camille and I had a little snuggle this morning, when it was chilly in here. In fact, she's sitting on the arm of my chair again right now.

Our van is half-packed, but I still have to go through my stuff and decide what I want/need to bring. I am packing healthy snacks for the way there: sliced cucumbers and peppers and raw broccoli, pumpkin seeds and almonds and cashews, and some pepperoni...okay, that's not really too healthy...and beef jerky. I'm also bringing some flax seed muffins for breakfast, and coconut oil to put in my coffee. The kids have some extra things thrown in that I won't be sharing, like oatmeal cream cookies (may I just say...yum?)

Anyway. They have their stuff packed, but I still have to remember things like my phone charger, and find my green sweatshirt, and decide which shoes to old Birkenstocks that are uglier than sin, or perhaps not that ugly, but they have seen better days, or my newer ones, spiffy but not as comfy.


I am tired, and have to get to bed early because I woke up this morning at 5:30...I had a terrible dream that Paul cheated on me, and when I found out, he didn't even care. He just answered me like, "uh-huh.", like he usually does in real life sometimes. It was SO realistic. I was heartbroken and crushed and then...ticked off. Oh, I was mad at him. And HER. There was a picture, of course, in my dream. Do you think she was older and a bit on the chubby side? ha. She was younger than some of my daughters, and was wearing a work-out tank top, showing off her slim muscled arms. I hated those arms. I hated her healthy young smiling face. I hated that they were taking a double selfie. He hates selfies. Wait, I forgot, she's not real, it was only a bad dream.

I told him on the phone, and he told me not to worry, it's not in the cards. He misses me, and loves me, and I love him, and I am thankful it WAS only a dream. I know it really happens to people, and ouch.

Samuel, my dear son Sammy, I can't wait to see you! Yay!

The part I'm not looking forward to: driving in the traffic. Jonathan is my co-pilot, from the back seat, and he will be manning the GPS from his tablet. Grandma is sitting shotgun, she is excited to spend time with Sam too. It's a 6 and 1/2 hour trip, but we will take a few stops. I don't like driving this far, not in my comfort zone, but hey, Paul and Sam are at the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, and I really think the drive itself will be rather fun, except for the driving, of course. The tractor trailers...rrr. The five lane highways with my exit coming up...all the way on the other side. I am not one of those effortless lane changers. I signal, and turn around and look, and don't go until it is all clear, which it never is on a busy highway. ha.

Anyway, I have to go finish packing. We just finished our taco salad for dinner, and I am ready for bed. The little girls need showers, and lots of little details need to be worked out, like who exactly is taking us to our rental van at the airport at 6 a.m. Either Abigail or Margaret....anyway...bye for now!!! I am bringing this computer with me, but don't know if I will blog tomorrow, in all the excitement of seeing Paul and Samuel....

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

ah, another lovely morning...

This lovely mug, which holds almost the right amount of coffee, is from Ben and Ashley.(But I also wanted a good pic of the nice things on top of my refrigerator.)

Abandoning my usual routine of throwing in a load of laundry and sweeping and mopping and wiping down counters before I sink into the comfy chair for a little facebook time, news reading, and of course writing on this's pretty much a give someone will stop in unexpectedly this morning. It's what happens when you slack off.

I will not be a boring details person, but yesterday...phew.

These little sweeties visited us for the day...all three are my sister's grandchildren. Their mamas grew up with my kids, and have their own fond memories of coming here for the day through the years...these little ones, the twins and Davian, bring joy with them. They are so hilarious. They played playdough and dollhouse and StarWars, and on the swingset and in the little playhouses outside, and then in the little pools in the yard. Little sunshines, they are.

Jonathan passed out freezepops...then had a popsicle. They noticed. They took up the chant, and I put them up to the table and gave them popsicles too. But first I took off their shirts:)

Oh cuteness.

I had to bring Margaret to work in the afternoon. Suzanne was my co-pilot. We dropped off library books, then stopped into TJ Maxx, just to browse...for soccer socks, shorts, I found some lovely mason jar type beverage dispensers for Emily's catering business, specifically for a wedding we are catering this summer. Smart phones are wonderful, Suze snap-chatted Em some pictures of the jars..she agreed they are perfect for fruit infused water, and iced tea.

We went to Target to return the ugly dress, and came out with just a few more things. Then to Price Chopper for chicken and spinach and eggs and milk....then home...then quick back to town to pick up the minivan, yay, five hundred bucks, and she's ready to roll again. Poor minivan. Home again, and time to make dinner. Never mind that the older kids all left for a meeting, and that my sister called so I just made plates for the younger three (barbecued chicken thighs and corn, asparagus and spinach), and talked to Cheryl for a bit.

Then Mirielle came for a visit, the kids stayed up too late, then the other kids all came home.

I should have gone to bed, but I had things to do! I had clothes to try on. I have only lost three pounds, but have gotten a tiny bit smaller, and was trying to decide what to wear/bring to Washington D.C. I finally got into bed at midnight, then read for a while. When six o'clock rolled around this morning, ugh.

Anyhow, today is a good day.

My little girls, and Jonathan, are all packed for the trip already. They are so excited, but the pre-trip excitement is part of the fun. That's why we like to have kids around, it reminds us to be happy about life.

In a few days, it will be my mother's birthday again. When the lilacs bloom each year, I miss her terribly. Lilacs were her favorite. My little brother was deathly allergic to bee stings when we were growing up, I guess he still is. My mother always carried his, "bee sting kit" in her purse, and she worried and fretted about Casey Michael. He was the youngest, and could get away with murder, and was the apple of my mother's eye. He wasn't allowed barefeet, because he might step on a bee. My father decided to get rid of all the flowers in they yard, and sawed down my mother's huge lilac bush. (Casey got stung a few times, had horrible reactions, ambulances, was no joke, and I grew up terrified of bees...I never ever got stung until one time I was pregnant, and one stung me right in the stomach, I thought my life was over, I had a reaction but not terrible. I always thought that would be how I would die, since I never got stung all those years. I still think it might be my ticket to the other side...:)) Anyway. Tangents. Every year for my mother's birthday, I tried to get her some lilacs. Our down the street neighbors had a few bushes, and when they weren't looking...I picked some for her.

I miss her. She enjoyed life. She lived forgiveness, she lived goodness. She never thought of herself, and absolutely loved to give. She always had something for the kids, and for our friends' kids. She was a natural birthday memorizer, and if she didn't gave a gift and ran into a child who had a birthday, she would pull out a five dollar bill. She was no nonsense about manners, the kids learned to say their pleases and thank-yous, but she could while away the hours without ever getting bored. She read them stories, she told them stories, and most of all, she listened to them. She got a kick out of them all, her grandchildren...there are 48 of them.

Ah well. She wouldn't want me to waste days being sad. It's just not fair how life just goes on, the whole world not even realizing that she's not with us anymore. What's worse than thinking about her all the time is when I realize, every now and then, that I haven't thought about her in a while.

Okay, it's bothering me that the house is messy...I have to get up and at least sweep the floors...true to my prediction, my niece stopped in a few minutes ago, while I was typing this. It always happens, let the place go, and people stop in.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

kids live here!!!

Pick it up and put it away? But they're still playing!

And then there are the fire trucks...

I can clean up my house, but it won't STAY clean. Because we like to be comfortable here. Or perhaps because it's just too much work to keep it spotless, although I seriously wouldn't know. I think every family has to find their own comfort level, what they can live with on a regular daily basis. Unfortunately, my idea of comfort is a few levels up from the rest of the slobs who live here, ha. But since I'm the mom, it's all my fault anyway, right? One mom told me a few years back that I'm not doing my kids any favors by not teaching them be cleaners and organizers. Sorry kids!

The thing is, I don't like walking around nagging. Who's sweater is this? Who left these dishes on the coffee table? Orange peels on the arm of the couch? Seriously? I can issue a general statement, saying this won't be tolerated anymore...but of course I'm wasting my breath, because we all know: NO ONE DID IT. Or perhaps one of them will helpfully point the finger to a sibling, who points to still another sibling.

Anyhoo. Just keeping the floors clean is like a part time job.

Okay, so we're taking a trip this weekend. I have taken trips with all different kids in the family through the years. Teenagers are fun to travel with, but the little kids are a riot because they are so unreserved about their excitement. They don't cross their arms and mumble, "yeah, I guess I'm glad we're going. But it'll probably be really lame." Nope! The hotel pool! Can we order pizza the first night?! We'll probably stop at McDonald's on the way down!!! They are packing the poker chips/cards (yeah, my little kids play poker), and the Yahtzee! game. They are packing movies and tablets and each one pillow. I keep telling them to pack lightly. ha.

Their excitement is contagious.

Today, my little friend Davian is coming over. We can't talk about our trip in front of him, it's too sad, because he asks, "What about me?" He is seriously adorable. He told me yesterday that he was going to Arizona to see the Grand Canyon.

I find these days, I get up at six-ish in the morning, am relatively busy all day....I say "relatively", because yesterday I sat in my comfy lounge chair while the kids splashed in the little pools. Jon even brought me a 15 calorie popsicle. (and ha, I am sitting here right now, aren't I?) But overall, driving people places and making meals and and and...keeps me busy enough. I tried to read in bed last night and just conked after like 20 pages. I turned out the light at midnight, and slept like a rock. So I can't complain, which I shouldn't anyway, which Jonathan so nicely reminds me.

Another load of laundry is done, so off I go...

Monday, May 18, 2015

where in the "h" did monday go?

Heck of course. Let's see...perhaps I drove away the and there and everywhere. I did end up at Target for a bit...that went too fast. Sonja K. and I had a nice cold drink...not a rum and coke, an iced coffee with sugar-free mocha from Starbucks...some sort of iced tea for her. She found new sandals, a t-shirt, and some comfy pants. I found comfy pants too, and a dress...I tried it on, and decided to buy it. I tried it on again at home, and I hate it. It shows too many bumps and bulges. rrr. My girls say I should just wear what I like. Well guess what? I don't actually like it very much. Especially on me. Suze says whatever you wear, wear it with confidence and you will look nice. Easy for her to say...:)

Anyway. I bought Jonathan a few shirts and some really nice shorts, and new bikinis for the princesses. We didn't even go through the whole store because we had to pick Margaret up from work. Then to the grocery store quick before I had to be home because the girls had to go to Emily's house for a bonfire.

Phew. I warmed up some ribs from last night, on the grill. I don't feel like going to get my phone from where it's charging across the room and putting up the picture of the vast amount of ribs I grilled yesterday...22 pounds. I baked them for 3 and a half hours first, then grilled them, then put them back in the oven wrapped in foil for another half hour. yummers.

It is hot here today, and humid. The kids played in the splash pools outside for a bit, Jonathan mowed the lawn with the push mower, and was so red faced and hot, he went right underwater in the little pool before lunch. I was ready to go sit in it myself, but I would probably displace all the water.

Plus, I wouldn't be able to get back out. We would have to call the fire department.

I have lost three whole pounds. It isn't fair, I am broken. But as usual, I am not giving up. Not yet. I don't eat sugar anymore, that's a GOOD thing. I feel better, and those nasty hot flashes haven't come back. I would LIKE to see results quicker, but...

My washing machine is getting tired and cranky and temperamental. Sometimes it stops mid-cycle, and I have to re-set it to rinse and spin again. Sometimes the door locks, and it won't do anything at all. It's scary, because without my washer...

It's been working well today though, and each load that it washes nicely for me, I am so appreciative. I am not taking clean laundry for granted. I keep thinking it's going to misbehave again.

We took the van into the shop today. It is making that horrid scary noise, and it needs to be inspected. To pass inspection, the horrid scary noise will have to be fixed.

Our trip to Washington D.C. is on Friday!!! I am excited! The kids are BEYOND excited. They love packing their stuff. I am going to have to intervene of course, our they will bring everything they own. They have new bathing suits for the hotel pool....oh it's fun. Samuel James, we can't wait to see you!!!!

Ah well, kids are being silly and need their mama...Daddy is in France again, so it's just the one parent...

Sunday, May 17, 2015

sunday evening post...

Evelyn and I on our little there such a thing as too much fun? A ghost spider followed us home...Evelyn didn't mean to scream and fling it on me while I was driving, she was sorry. I killed it with a plastic spoon, after pulling to the side of the road of course.

It was a perfect day.

This is me in one of the rooms of the old hospital... are watching a scary movie...I am distracted...maybe I'll write again tomorrow...

Friday, May 15, 2015

happy in a messy house...

I can't keep up around here. We had a playdough table for a few days...cleaned it up, and they put up the portable ping pong net and moved the table out from the wall a few feet...the dogs came in with muddy feet, and I already mopped the floors this morning. The counters just don't like to be bare and clean...there are school books and crayons and art projects all over one of the tables...but if I wait until it is spotless to be happy, it ain't gonna happen.

I like clean. I like shiny, and organized. Oh, I bought a really neat new tea kettle today.

(Kim and I stopped at the thrift store today.)

Ah is good.

eating less feeling better, and other important things....

1. I still love food. I see the muffins and the cookies and the hundreds of varieties of snack foods, and I admire them. I will never be repulsed by a cupcake with the frosting swirled on so yummily, or the thought of a homemade oatmeal cookie with that distinct texture...or pumpkin pie...or pumpkin muffins...oh heavenly goodness.

2. My health is very important to me, this is the only body I've got. Years and years of carbo-loading, interrupted sleep, busy crazy days...left my poor body in shambles. I am trying to pick up the pieces, and if it means living without all that "good" stuff for the rest of my life, so be it. It won't kill me. I just know that going completely without it is better for me than it was to try to be careful.

3. My tastes are changing. Raw broccoli is one of my new favorites. Imagine that. Me, loving raw broccoli.

Today has been fun. Kim and I went shopping for our church grille. She is eating healthy these days too, and seems to be feeling better already. We never run out of things to talk about. We stopped into the thrift store, and I found Nike sneakers for Jon for $7...ha, a bit expensive but they fit him perfectly. He is growing fast, and if there's one thing I've learned, it's that it's foolish to spend a lot of money on footwear for growing kids.

Evelyn and I are going on a little adventure tomorrow!!!! Our trip to the now-closed insane asylum. It's open once a year for one day, and we are going on the three hour walking tour. We are getting up at the butt-crack of dawn, yeah, I have teenagers...and going to breakfast first...making a day of it.

Later in the day, I am working at the grille at the church...

Fun and more fun.

And bye for now...someone peed on the couch, and it wasn't me. hmm.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

spanking kids...

First of all, I am no expert on raising kids. Just ask my kids. I decided to answer this question I received in a whole post: Do you believe in spanking/do you spank your kids?

Well. In a perfect world, no. Not at all. I'm big, they're small,

But. In a REAL world, there have been times when I was just totally not kidding when I asked them to stop something, and a little smackeroo on the butt let them know that. But I still think there are better ways, and if could do it all over again, I wouldn't even do that.

The thing with parenting is that the parent is a person too...full of demands and anger and impatience.

So the key to effective discipline is first and foremost: be aware of your OWN SELF. If you are getting mad, beware. Yes, maybe the child did something wrong. But mixing in your anger with the discipline is not good.

Try to see things from a small child's viewpoint. A child wants praise and goodness, affection, warmth, security. Talking, and encouraging the good behavior work well for me.

But I cannot take any credit for my kids, and the way they are growing up into fine adults. No, it is by the grace of God, in all seriousness. They have been blessed to grow up in an environment where children are revered, welcomed, and loved.

( go to

Anyway. I have been busy! No time for blogging! Paul took the day off from work and put planted the garden. I have been home all day, except for driving one daughter to one place. We had a picnic lunch, and pitched a tent in the front yard to play in. We made posters and played playdough, and sang, "Oh Suzanna" fifty times, with a different state each time. (Little Davian:)).

Jonathan and I are getting ready to book our tickets to Washington state! We are so excited. Paul might go with us too:)!

Healthwise, I am doing better. I am adapting to ketosis, and finding it rather easy to stick to plan, as I don't get very hungry or crave sugar these days. I am still rather shaky in the mornings, but it is improving. I am sticking to this come heck or high water...and at the end of the summer, I'll have an ice cream cone....

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

quick post about important stuff....

Well, it's Tuesday. It's beautiful out, very springy and lively, birds and tree branches waving in the breeze. Suri is panting in my face, she wants to go out and romp in some mud from the rain we had last night. Jonathan is playing StarWars with little Davian, Davian who has a light saber tucked into his belt loop, and his little baseball cap on. Too much cuteness....Davian just told me, "We're pretending."

I let Char choose yesterday, to go out to lunch or to the toy store to pick out a gift for herself. She had other presents too, two Star Wars t-shirts, Star Wars sleep pants, a girls' Nerf rifle, and some hair things. Anyway, she chose the toy store, duh. Oh the fun we had. I let them sit in all those little battery cars that we will never buy. We wandered up and down the aisles, but Char found nothing she wanted. I bought a little bouncy seat for Mali's baby:) When we were checking out, I told the cashier that Charlotte Claire was nine today, and Davian offered, "I am three!" She asked him how many that was, and he held up three fingers. She thought that was so cute. I had to restrain myself, this child knows which planet is closest to the sun, which planet is the hottest, and the capitals of all of the states. And, how to read anything.

Next stop: Target - Charlotte thought she could find what she wanted, and she did, a new light saber! They got popcorn and slushies, and got to choose a candy...Davian got fruit snacks, and snacked on them while we shopped.

It was a fun day.

Home: corn dogs and fries for dinner. Not for me, of course, but that was Char's choice for her birthday. I had a burger with no bun, a pile of fresh sliced beets with butter, lots of raw spinach, some pickles. Her dessert choice was pumpkin pie, so I made pumpkin pudding pie with graham cracker crust. They said it was good:)

This new eating style is challenging me....I feel really shaky in the mornings. I am hoping I get over it, and start feeling more energy. I already feel better in general. The thing is, my sugar cravings are gone, and that is a very large miracle.

The lilacs have bloomed in the yard, I think I'll go pick some so we can enjoy them...they smell so good....

Monday, May 11, 2015

random thoughts, scattered musings...

As per usual. I was driving down the road this morning at a rather un-Godly hour (is that offensive? I wasn't sure, so I wrote it anyway.) The sun was so low in the sky, it gave the whole world a different look. The trees have unfurled their newborn light green leaves. The lilacs are blooming, and the morning dew makes all of it sparkle. I drove down the curvy back roads out here in the country, and thought about things. (I wasn't just out driving, I had to take Kathryn and Suzanne out to church where they are working on a construction job this week.)

Anyhoo, I thought it would be convenient if we could just lie our foreheads on pieces of paper, and have all the tangled thoughts line up all neatly, so we could sort through them easier. The appointments and reports, the things we want to list on ebay, the paint we want to buy for what and where, the items that need to be returned, and the different kids and what they need (soccer cleats! soccer socks! a new bra! more pads! bobby pins! conditioner!....), and Charlotte Claire's 9th birthday!

In the midst of all the things going on, it's party day! She didn't want a birthday party, just to have her cousin Danielle over. So...yesterday big sister Abigail picked up Danielle, and Char and Cam, and took them to the mall. They asked to go to the clearance room in the shoe store (the apple doesn't rot far from the tree:)), where they played, "runway". They tried on shoes and purses, and marched around the store singing Christmas carols. Cam said that people stared at them, but no clapped.

They went to Claire's and picked out jewelry from the one dollar rack, Abigail let them take as long as they wanted. She took them to lunch at Friendly's. She let them pick out flowers for me. They came home with giant cans of iced tea, all happy and excited. A text to Dani's mom (Kim), and YES! Dani can spend the night! But...when I was cooking my Mother's Day dinner, the princesses stood in the kitchen and asked me to feel foreheads, Dani's felt hot. Well, it certainly did. 102.7, said the thermometer. Poor girl. I confirmed with her dad (my brother Tom) that I could give her some medicine, then drove her home. She wanted to go home she didn't feel well. My girls were super bummed.

And today, we were going to go out to lunch again...maybe Char will want to postpone until Danielle is better...I don't know. Char asked for pumpkin pie for her birthday, so I had better get busy. How in the world am I supposed to not eat pumpkin pie, is what I want to know.

Well, I guess I should go hang up the Happy Birthday sign and decorate a little, perhaps drag all of her gifts out of the closet and see what we have. She is a StarWars nerd, so I already gave her a really cool hooded beach towel...

Last Minute Louie, that's me.

I already did all of this stuff in my mind, of course.

Our minivan is making a new noise, and it is not a fun pleasant noise. I hesitate to bring it to the shop because Margaret works in town, and takes the other car...and I don't like being carless. I guess I could always drive her to work. Details, details.

And in the midst of all this fun, we are having a church conference this coming weekend, and are doing our grill/candy store. I have to buy the candy, and lots of food...

But: I won't be there until the afternoon on Saturday, because Evelyn and I have a date that is non-negotiable. Non-breakable. A promise. I am taking her to a mental institution/asylum. Seriously. This place has been closed for a long time, but is open once a year for guided tours, as a fund raiser for a local charity. Evelyn is a voracious reader, and this kind of thing fascinates her. When we read about it, I promised on the spot that I would take her to this event...then found out it was the spring conference at church. So, we are going to the asylum. I keep teasing her that she had better not back out on me. She is fifteen years old, and one of sixteen kids. It is a big thing that we are spending this day together. We are planning to leave extra early and have breakfast in some greasy diner. It's all fodder for that big book I know she is going to write someday.

My kids know I love them, but I seriously doubt they know the extent that I love each and every one of them.

The thing I wish I had more of: time. I like to spend time with them. I hate that they feel slighted if I have to interrupt a conversation with one of them to attend to something for another one of them. I like it if I am always free if they need me. I enjoy them, each of them. They are all so different. I never ever need to punish any of them, they are such good kids. If the younger ones ever do anything wrong, I just talk to them about it, and encourage them to be good. It mostly works. I do remind them not to let the water run, or to shut the refrigerator door, then decide what to eat...and not to walk across the couch. Or slam the door, leave toothpaste in the sink, and to please replace the toilet paper, as I am usually the one sitting there yelling for a roll.

Anyway. Life is interesting, and good. My little friend Davian is on his way bye for now. I am not proof reading this, so sorry if there are misspellings or offensive things I would have edited out...:)

Sunday, May 10, 2015

happy mother's day!

This was a few years ago, but I wish I had done more of these, back when Benjamin didn't live on the other side of the country, and Samuel wasn't in the Army.

We are planning some updated photos in June when Ben comes home....with Ashley and Anya, and Samuel has leave.

Anyway, Happy Mother's Day. It's a celebration for me, yet my own mother isn't with us anymore, so wah.

This fine morning, I woke up before everyone else. Now that I'm sleeping better at night, I wake up earlier. Anyhoo, I didn't get breakfast in bed. Paul did make me some lovely coffee though, with coconut oil/MCT oil, and half and half. All blended in the blender, yummers. I swept floors and cleaned up. Paul washed all of the dishes, yay! I really really wanted him to just sit down out on the deck with me, and ignore the mess, but it didn't happen. We had to eat breakfast (I made bacon and eggs), and pack some healthy food for our lunch, as we both worked the baseball game today. We had to be out the door by 10:45, so there wasn't much time for sitting around.

So we got home, and I put chicken in the oven, planning to finish it off on the grill. Well, one whole package is spoiled! Our refrigerator is really cold, and the date on this is the 13th, so it should be fine. rrr. I had to dig some out of the freezer and pry it out of the package, all the while thinking, meh, Mother's Day.

The kids are tired out, Evelyn and Sonja and Jonathan, they had soccer practice for three hours today and over two hours yesterday.

Kathryn and Suzanne worked outside all day yesterday doing a building project at church.

Margaret is working at the grocery store in town...we stopped in there on the way home from the game to get half and half...and boy is Marg a cute cashier!

Paul bought me a nice mug for hot or cold drinks, and he got us matching wedding bands...I'm not sure what kind of metal, but they are shiny purple. Very different and hippie-ish. My wedding band fell off my finger three and a half years ago, after I lost 50 pounds. I have been going around with a naked finger, and told Paul I am tired of getting hit on in Walmart.

It's hot and humid today. I am not complaining, just pointing it out. After that winter we just had, I am not complaining.

Jon asked me how the baseball game was, and I said, "I can't complain." He said, "You shouldn't complain anyway." Wise boy.

Jonathan and I are doing well on our little savings for our trip out to Washington state. It's really fun to plan. He was looking up when we should go, and asked me, "Is there an airline called, "Other Airlines?" cuteness. He kind of wants to take one of the cheaper flights with two layovers, so we can take off and land more, and, "get our money's worth."

I am continuing to do well on this keto plan, eating my veggies and avoiding sweets and breads and fruit, except for berries. I feel better except for still kind of foggy and shaky in the mornings. I need to read more and figure it out. I am not ready to add more carbs back, because that will get me into trouble and bring back cravings. I am NOT craving sugar for the very first time in my life. I don't care about it. That in itself is a miracle.

Tomorrow is Charlotte Claire's birthday, we are probably going to the diner for lunch to celebrate. She is turning nine...slow down, Char, slow down....

Saturday, May 9, 2015

feeling sentimental....

My seven youngest children, six years ago...we were at the cemetery to visit little baby Robert, who died before he got to meet all these happy kids (stillborn).

Life is easier these days, but this picture just made me realize that it isn't just my imagination: it was busy! But SO blessed!

Camille was 18 months, Charlotte Claire almost 3, Jonathan 5, Sonja Kathleen 7, Suzanne 8, Evelyn Joy 9, and Kathryn Grace had just turned 11. (not pictured: Margaret 12, Samuel 13, Mali Rose 15, Aaron 15, Joseph almost 17, Mirielle 18, Benjamin 19, Abigail 23, and Emily 25.)

Anyway...this fine morning I was up bright and early to drive older kids here and there, and now Camille is up, watching cartoons...I suggested it to her because it's Saturday morning! On school mornings, they wouldn't even think of turning it on.

Paul is home, it is warm out, and we had a great day at the beach. It was GORGEOUS there.

Tire swing! We were happy to be able to bring our little friend to the beach...the beach with the nice playground.

He's a he is playing with Jonny...

Jonathan is SO good with him, they adore each other.

And we can't forget the selfie of yours truly, sporting the sun hat from the dollar store. It did help my face not to scorch. I felt like pretty Over The Hill in it.

It was so beautiful there!

Then to the airport to pick up Paul..Jonny and I...

Happy Saturday!

Friday, May 8, 2015

walmart stories....

Walmart. Home of the screaming children, pajama pants, and good old American slang. "No, you ain't gettin' that, you been bad!"

It takes all kinds of people to make the world go around, that's what Ma Ingalls said in the Little House books. And I don't mean to be judgy wudgy. But going to Walmart yesterday afternoon was a sad story....

First, I saw the little boy who got a whack on the butt for whining for a toy. Not just the whack though, he was berated for his behavior, very loudly. He was 8 or so, and looked SO embarrassed. The family walked by with her just going on about it. He said, "I hate you." Mom said, "Just you wait 'til later." And so on. wah. I can't even stand to think what happened later.

Then I heard another encounter while looking for some baking the next aisle over, a child apparently thought it was a good idea to say the "h" word. His Mama didn't like that one little bit, so she whacked. I heard a smack, then a loud lecture while the child wailed. She was yelling, "You don't act like that in the store!"

There was a little girl about five years old, so cute, with long brown hair and thick glasses...absolutely adorable. She was carrying marshmallows, graham crackers, and chocolate bars. I smiled at her, oh lucky child, she was going to make s'mores! Then her Mama said, "I TOLD YOU TO PUT THAT BACK!" Mom stood there glaring with hands on hips while small girl went back a few aisles by herself...I didn't stick around to gawk, but it seemed like small child was getting more bags of marshmallows.:)

So this is a free country and all, and one can parent how one chooses. I get that. No one is obligated to take Gentle Parenting classes when they leave the hospital with their new babies. Freedom is good. But it still breaks my heart when kids have to suffer because of parents. Kids are people too, and they deserve respect.

Kids are kids. They do bad things. They fight with each other, and tell lies, and say words they heard on the bus.

And believe me, this was an unusually Sad Loud Yelling Mama day in Walmart. Maybe it's the heat. But I had some tears in my eyes. I asked the cashier how she could stand it, and she misunderstood. She thought I was bothered by the kids crying. No,I'm not irritated, I'm saddened. I don't think badly of their mamas either, I just hate that they think it's okay to treat their kids like that.

Judgy Wudgy: I judge myself, and yes, I am also irritated and short tempered. I know that.

God is good. I have much to be thankful for. When I see those mamas getting frustrated, I always say a prayer for them, that God will speak to them in some way to be aware of their own behavior, to be more patient with their kids.

My own monsters are hopping around in excitement. Our estimated time of departure is in one hour. So I will sit here and write, then scramble around like a crazy woman. We are having turkey and rolls for lunch. The rolls are the yummy fresh-baked ones from B.J.'s. They were packed in a bag with some crackers, paper towels, plates, cups...on the kitchen table. Two bad doggies really like those kind of rolls. rrrr. Yeah, they tipped that bag over and had a roll feast during the night. Good thing I bought two bags.

Jon, Char, and Cam are playing poker at the coffee table. Yeah, my kids are little gamblers. They just don't get bored. Davian is here, he is so excited for the beach, he came walking up the driveway with his little bag, a huge smile, oh I love him. The enthusiasm of children makes adventures way more fun.

And...departure time: 45 minutes. yay, the beach!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

sparing you the boring details...

Oh the deets and the tails, as Mirielle likes to say...sunny warm weather, and again, I spent most of the day outside. We deserve it, after that long cold winter. The kids bring their school books out on blankets in the yard. The younger ones run through the sprinkler and wade in the little pool. Davian, the sweet three year old who comes over to spend days here, likes to dip his head in the water every little while.

We soaked up that sunshine today! Aaron stopped by for a few hours, and Margaret didn't have to work. It was busy yet not busy, as I did minimal maintenance, but not much real work.

Tomorrow: BEACH!!!! Oh how we have been dreaming of the beach! It is forecast to be 88 degrees (31.1c), with no wind. And sunny skies. So the beach it is! The water in Lake Ontario will be freezing, but the kids will still be able to fill their pails and splash around. Ahh, hot sand on my feet...I can't wait.

I have managed to stay in ketosis, and wow, it is interesting. I still feel a little bit weak and foggy-brained, as my body gets used to using fat for energy, but I haven't been hungry at all. No sugar for me, and for the first time ever, I don't really want it. This evening, I decided to take just a taste of dark chocolate from tasted so sweet, I wanted to spit it out. Seriously. It wasn't like the old, "give me more!". Interesting.

It's late and tomorrow, bright and early, the beach!!! Then the best part...heading toward the big the pick up Paul!!!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

#summer weather in new york....

A little sun makes everyone happy.

The greenness has finally descended upon us! I took this pic from the driver's seat of the minivan as I was leaving today...oh, life is never dull...I was staying home today. Then I got a phone call...and had to take one of my favorite little girls to a dr. appointment. I didn't mind, really. She's excellent company, I love her, and she's going to be okay. She had bumped her head really hard, has a mild concussion, and has to take it easy for a while...but I think she's going to be okay.

Our morning was eventful! I bought a new grill because the old one needed too much work. Those burner thingys just deteriorated. I loved that nice big four burner grill, but didn't want to bother with ordering parts and trying to fix I bought a $99 grill from Aldi.

Paul is out of town, so we put it together ourselves. ugh.

Jon gets an A+ in Grill Assembly, and another one in Instruction Deciphering.

Camille and Char get A's in Learning to Use A Screwdriver and in Introduction to Nuts, Bolts, Washers, And Wingnuts.

And, we did it! They did most of it. They pulled the pieces out of the box all crazy-like, while I nagged not to lose anything.

And...this is what we waited all winter for! Burgers on the grill!

My house is getting messy. I swept and mopped this morning, then made a batch of flax seed muffins...

These are so quick and easy, and I wish I could say they are SO GOOD. They smell heavenly when they are baking, but...meh. Not very sweet, but I like them anyway. The texture is good, and they are healthy.

2 cups flax seed
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
(mix together)

In blender,
5 eggs,
1/4 cup palm sugar (or honey, or whatever you like)
1/3 cup melted coconut oil
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons vanilla

Fold blended ingredients into bowl of dry..
Bake 350 for 20 minutes.

I added a few blueberries to the tops of mine.

My problem is that even though they aren't delicious, they smell wonderful, and I want to eat the all.

Good thing my kids like them! Davian, the little guy who comes to play here every day, LOVES them. He eats them right up, with plenty of butter.

Anyway, I cleaned up and baked, then we assembled the grill...then played in the yard...I brought out some snack for the kids, celery and pepperoni and sweet potato chips, and cold drinks.

What a nice day. Tomorrow: sunny and 78! Yay!

Paul will be calling me soon from Jacksonville, and my phone isn't off I go.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

low carb high fat: keto diet

I am trying something new. Something more radical. Something that many people misunderstand. And already I have had excellent results. I have been eating relatively lo-carb for quite a while now. It was four years ago now that I decided I needed a good kick in the pants, and started eating healthy. I lost weight, but some crept back on. I walked, exercised, counted calories. I knew that when I ate sugar, I wanted more sugar, although to be clear here: just because I WANTED it, I didn't give in and binge. I just suffered, and wanted it. The more little sneaks I snuck in here and there, the more I wanted cookies and ice cream.

So I decided I needed to totally detox off sugar, to be free from her clutches.

Paul was doing a 30 day no sugar thing, eating high fat and lo carb, and was looking slim and trim, and feeling really good. I was skeptical, of course. I couldn't be that strict!

Then came the hot flashes. The torment, the sleeplessness. My late night computer sleuthing skills led me to some articles that suggested that going high fat/low carb would help with the whole hormone I thought I would give it a try. Ignorance is bliss, but it doesn't help with hot flashes.

So. I decided to try a bit, to eat mostly veggies and not much fruit, moderate protein...and lots of fat. MCT oil in my coffee with heavy cream, for that first cup of the morning. Spinach with a whole dollop of butter. Handfuls of almonds, a few berries with...more heavy cream. Yeah, I did think of my poor arteries. But recent research indicates that it is not the fat we consume that causes fat gain, but the carbohydrates and sugar. Ha, it goes against my grain to eat lots of fat, but I decided to give it a try.

Guess what? The hot flashes have all but disappeared. I still have one occasionally. But I sleep SO much better. I FEEL so much better. It's only been a week, but I can say this: I'm all in. If I have to eat this way for the rest of my life, so be it. I have already lost a few pounds, which is probably water weight, but whatever. I feel better.

I made cuppycakes for Jon's birthday without so much as a taste of the frosting. By avoiding sugar completely, I feel free.

Yesterday I went into the grocery store though, and my sniffer sniffed those donuts, from the minute I walked into the store. Bakeries will always attract me, and donuts will never stop being works of art in my eyes.

The fat quells the apetite, feeds the brain instead of glycogen, and makes one feel more even-keeled.

Now, I am no expert in this way of eating. I am still reading things and tweaking things, and have questions...some say to still count calories, some say just to eat more veggies with a little bit of fat if you're still hungry and don't worry about it. I have to find my way through it.

The hardest part is to reckon with the fact that I won't be eating ice cream cones this summer. I won't be eating roasted marshmallows around the fire.

But food IS medicine, and if we want our bodies to function properly, we have to fuel them properly.

Can't have our cake and eat it too.

Yesterday, I took Miss Sonja, Miss Margaret, and Miss Suzanne to a few stores after I picked Miss Marg up from work. Kohl's was fun...I found Suzanne the most beautiful earrings for six dollars, regularly sixty...and a matching ring that looks like Kate's engagement ring...speaking of Kate Middleton, isn't their baby adorable? And the name: Charlotte Elizabeth Diana. love it. Anyway, the ring was also $6, and we had to spend $50 to get the ten dollars off, so...I bought if for Evelyn, who was delighted! I bought myself a few things there, one dress with high hopes that I will magically transform into someone with enough confidence to wear it out of the house...

In Target, I found a really cute dress that had Evelyn written all over it, and guess what? It fits her perfectly and she loves it! For only seven dollars! My kids have this thing they do...stemming from one time I supposedly quietly shrieked, "SEVEN DOLLARS!!!". So they mimic me, and when something is too expensive, they say that. Anyway.

I bought myself the nicest green sweater, in such a summery color...light weight, and really pretty. It wasn't cheap enough, but it was the last one there in my size, and I knew if I didn't buy it, I would end up with a color I don't like from the clearance rack some day in the future.

Our little friend Davian is here today. He is very busy, putting together the Thomas The Tank Engine train track. Jon dragged the whole bin out here to the living room. Davian is humming to himself as he pulls pieces out of the bin, he is such a happy little boy. He enjoys life, and never seems to get bored. We love him. He lights up our lives:)

The princesses have had their cousin Dani here for a few days. They made a huge bed on their bedroom floor, sleepover! Last night they were so tired from staying up until midnight the night before, they fell asleep right after I tucked them in. These days of sunshine and running around outside have helped for a good night's sleep too.

Okay, here's something fun...Jonathan bought a quad-copter back in January, with his Christmas money. It stopped working after a while, and the company never responded. Jon was pretty bummed about it. So yesterday, he started googling, and sat there at the table with Daddy's tools all spread all over, and took it apart. It wasn't long before he came running outside to where we were with the little kids splashing in the kiddie pool....shouting with joy: he had fixed it! He isn't sure what he really did, but he fixed it. It flies again! He is so happy.

Right now, the kids have finished breakfast, and Davian is being their teacher. He is asking them what the capitals are for the states, it's hilarious.

Ah well, time to get moving....

Monday, May 4, 2015


The princesses playing in the creek...they like to play camping, or lost in the woods.

Today was a glorious day. Our little friend came for the day...we decided to fill the little pool and play under the sprinkler, so the princesses found something nice for him to wear. He is so stinkin' cute and adorable. He simply enjoys life. Three years old he is, and so hilarious and smart. After a busy day of running around the yard and jumping in that pool, he took a break and was playing a game on Jon's tablet. One of the little girls was looking at the map of the United States on the kitchen wall and couldn't figure out what the capital of Wyoming was because of how the red star was placed. So I asked Davian. He didn't even look up from his game, just calmly said, "Cheyenne."

So they had sunshine and ice cream, and plenty of barefoot time. Today was gym class. An extra long gym class.

Tomorrow, we'll do more school work.

Sonja K. had a birthday yesterday, and is now 13 years old.

Sonja K. This is an old picture, but I like it.

We had the party of parties on Sunday. Little boys galore, running in and out of the house, playing water wars with squirt guns and buckets of water outside, getting dripping wet. They ate their chocolate cupcakes across the kitchen floor, and left wrappers and half drank waterbottles and drink pouches here and there and everywhere. I surmise that each and every one of these little boys would have manners...individually...but get them in a big group, and they forget everything they were ever taught. No, it was great fun. Jon enjoyed himself, as much as a kid like Jon can, when his Nerf bullets are getting lost and his light sabers are being played with. He was a bit disconcerted, but overall he enjoyed it. We walked around the yard and found stray pieces of his stuff...


Never a dull moment.

Mali is here, so bye for now...