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, July 31, 2015

getting all sentimental....

Today is a brilliantly beautiful summer day, and all is right in the world. I woke up early, then remembered that I didn't need to get up right I decided to get dressed, then..shh, get back in bed with my book. As I was dressing, I heard voices, and remembered: Mirielle (24) was picking Kathryn (17) and Evelyn (15) and Suzanne (14) up to take them to Washington D.C. to visit Samuel for his birthday! Samuel is turning 20.:)

So I hurried out to talk to them before they left, and make sure they had plenty of good snacks for the drive. I told them to give Sam a hug from me, and tell him I love him. When they drove away without me, wah. I want to go see Sam.

I walked outside barefoot in the cool wet grass to turn on the pool filter. Then a quick stop by the front garden, and yes! Tomatoes! I picked five gorgeous one, wading through the soft dirt. I took a minute to look around...we aren't landscape-y people, and we live out here in the country...the lawn is mowed, but that's about it. There are trees on all sides of us, and the birds are singing, the breeze blowing, the sky blue...I just want to bottle it up and save it for those frozen tundra days of winter. I can't do that, so I just stood there and breathed it in. I wished I had my camera handy, but even pictures can't capture a fresh summer morning.

The house is quiet. Jonathan, Char, and Cam are all at Emily/Abigail/Mirielle's house. Sonja is here but still snoozing. The dogs have been out and fed, and are napping.

My mother passed away 9 years ago this week. Her body couldn't withstand kidney dialysis anymore, she had been there sitting in that chair having her blood cleaned with a machine, three times a week, for nine years. Her heart was misbehaving, her feet weren't getting enough blood/oxygen, she was in pain, and was not relishing the thought of either having a stroke, or dying in the dialysis chair. So...she quit. Stopped dialysis. It was a long time coming, it was inevitable. Her heart just couldn't take it anymore.

She had said so many times through the years that it was too much, and she felt so wiped out when she got home...but when she actually signed herself into the hospice room at the hospital, we knew that it was real, she was really going to die. Kidney dialysis patients can't survive without it, and she was just done. A person has a right to refuse treatment, she said, and she was done. And, she was happy. Seriously. She sat there on the side of the bed in that hospice room, swinging her legs, smiling at me, and said, "This is my death bed. Isn't that weird?" um, Mom, don't do this. My father was battling leukemia at the time, and was furious that she was "giving up". He kept calling me and telling me to talk her out of it. That she needed to keep going, she had lots of life left. She didn't. She had come so close to dying so many times, and had been rushed to the hospital by ambulance from that chair...

So there she was, all happy to be done with it all and to be going home to Jesus. I kid you not, she was happy. All the grandchildren came to visit, her room was like a three ring circus with all the kids' drawings taped to the walls, and the babies and siblings in there all day. She LOVED it.

She missed her dialyis that Friday for the first time. She checked into hospice on a Saturday. Monday morning came, and she stayed there, no dialysis. The doctor told us she would fall into a deep coma, and last a few weeks. Well, not MY mother. She stayed awake and alert, didn't want to miss anything!

On Thursday night, my sister Cheryl and I, and our youngest brother Casey, were with her...she tried to get out of bed to go to Jesus. We are not a mushy family, but we told her how much we loved her, and we were crying our eyes out. She wanted to go to Jesus, but we told her she didn't need to get up, He was going to come and get her as soon as He was ready for her. She was very happy about that. We shouldn't have left that night, but when it got really late, we did. My older brother stayed with her, and didn't mean to doze off, but as soon as he did, Jesus came for her.

No, she didn't want to miss anything, so she waited until all was quiet.

I have often wondered if she realized it would be so permanent, her death. Life just goes on without her, but I miss her like crazy. She enjoyed life so thoroughly! Everything was an adventure with her. After she passed, I found that I had no patience for people who #itched about everything. They are alive, after all. I wondered why she had life cut so short, dying at 69. She who loved life.

I would seriously give a million dollars to be able to go pick her up and take her shopping, like I used to. I wouldn't even get irritated with her if she chatted endlessly while I tried to sort my coupons, or if she said to the kids, "Grandma doesn't like when you act like that!"

Life is short. Enjoy the day.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

and the fun goes on....

Ah, summertime...I actually drove to town the other my bathing suit. I mean, I am the one who brushes teeth and changes into bye-bye clothes just to go to Redbox. Granted my bathing suit is no bikini...but still.

And I didn't get out of the car, I was just helping Paul drop the truck off at the garage in town for an inspection.

Yesterday, I watched two of my brother's grandchildren for half the day. Miss E., the two year old, is entranced with this light saber. Her five year old brother had lots of fun with my niece's little boy, William, who is six, and was spending the night at our house.

As my brother was picking up E. and L., my five-girls-in-a-row pulled in the driveway from their going away breakfast party for their friend Nellie who is going to Norway for a year...they also shopped at the big mall in the big city for a bit, without me, thus without much money:). They brought with them two extra girls, Irene and Grace. Then Aaron came over with his dog Lilly, who stayed with us for five days while Aaron was in San Diego. Lilly has been depressed at home, apparently. She was pretty happy to be back here, running around with Duke and Suri.

Then Abigail came over...she's leaving, with Margaret, next week...for a year long visit to Norway.

I am extremely thankful for our was SO hot out yesterday.

My favorite thing: grill dinner, then hop in the pool to cool off before eating. Last night I microwaved some potatoes and sweet potatoes, then some green beans, then went out and grilled steak and some hot my bathing suit. Ah, summertime.

Evelyn is going with me to take Duke to the vet this fine morning.

We have kept his Cone of Shame, as Joseph calls it, on 24/7. It seems mean and cruel, but his ear has been so sliced and diced and patched up, if he got at those itchy stitches, it would be a mess. Also, he had a tumor removed from his foot, with the cone he can't get at those stitches either.

Today, the stitches come out, and hopefully his cone will be done with too. I have to hold the bowl for him to eat his kibbles, and he looks so pathetic. He still has a hard time getting around in that thing, but has adapted a bit. He is used to it, I think.

This afternoon, I am working at the baseball stadium, $2 beer night = busy! And last time, I made six dollars in tips. Six dollars. My register took in over a thousand dollars, mostly in beer sales. That a LOT of beer pouring. And I got six dollars. These college kids are cheapskates:) I usually share with the kitchen crew, and the runners, then give some to Jonathan for our trip fund, maybe get a coffee on the way home...but six bucks. harumph.

And now that I have used up most of my time sitting here, I have to go get ready in a hurry so I am not late for the vet appointment....

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

so many cuddles....

Miss Cammy is my cuddler. She holds my hand in parking lots, and doesn't miss a chance to climb into my lap, big girl that she is at seven years old.

Today is a sunshiny day. Aaron is coming soon to pick up his dog, then I am packing up the three youngest kids, and cousin Dani (yes, she spent another night, and yes, they did go to sleep earlier). Dani and Char are not being nice to Camille, according to Camille. They hurt her feelings. So she is hanging with me for a bit. I know a bit about three girls trying to get along. It isn't always easy, and Cam is...well, she is the baby of the family.

Anyhoo. It's a warm and sunny day, and I never finished my sentence...I am taking the kids to our friends' house to swim in their nice pool.

And tomorrow, I am watching Miss Em and Mr. Liam, a few of my brother's grandchildren. More cuddles from the two year old:)

And well, life is too busy to sit here any longer, I have things to do and places to go and kids to talk to, not necessarily in that order...

Monday, July 27, 2015

sweet sweet summertime....

I love summer. Simply love it.

Cam at our friend's pool the other day. We are invited there again tomorrow:)

And tomorrow it will be almost 90F (32.2c), and sunny. Today: 87 and sunny.

The three little girls, my two youngest and cousin Dani, just went outside in their jammies to play on the swingset. They have been up for hours, just as I predicted, but they aren't fussy or grumpy, quite the opposite. They had their breakfast, and have been playing store with the adding machine and the toy shopping carts.

I realized this morning that these days of little chattering girls are not infinite. Cousin Dani is turning 10 next month, Char is nine, and Camille will turn 8 in November. In a few short years, they will be sulky teenagers:) No, they will still be fun. But they will inevitably lose their joy at the simpler things in life, and will scoff at things that now delight them. The word, "boring" will become part of their vocabulary, and they will learn to roll their eyes at their mama. Going bye-bye won't get them all excited, they will solemnly ask where we are going, then decide if it sounds fun or not. They will moan about early mornings, and spending the entire day going in and out of the pool will lose it's allure.

I am not one of those parents who can't wait 'til their kids grow up.

These dogs of mine...Lily slept through the night last night, she has adapted well. But she did leave me a present in the hallway. She's chasing her tail right now. She likes chewing up plastic water bottles, at least it's not shoes. Mirielle came over last night, and could only find one sandal when it was time to go. Whenever someone comes over who doesn't live here, Lil repeatedly picks up one of their shoes and carries it around. I found Mirielle's sandal this morning on a living room chair. At least it wasn't all chewed up.

We do have flea problems, and Aaron's not going to be too happy about it. These dogs have been treated with the best flea treatment available, from the vet, and the cats have been treated too. I vacuum and sweep, and still they have fleas. I think it's because they go outside. Life certainly ain't all sunshine and rainbows, and sometimes I get sick of the work of taking care of pets....shoveling up prizes in the yard, and the kitty litter box, and the dog hair on the floor, washing the couch covers even though they aren't allowed on the couches with the's a good thing they're cute.

I do have grown up things to do today, like banking and mailing things. I don't like grown up things. I just want to play.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

late night not-so-quietness....

Here I am again, wondering why I thought it was such a grand idea to let them have a sleepover, my two youngest children. My two princesses. My #15 and #16 children. We'll go to bed nicely, they said. It's almost midnight, and I'm tired! I don't really want to go to bed, fall to sleep, then have to get up and shush them again. They just took a trip to the bathroom, the kind that only three at a time can make, apparently.

Lilly is sleeping ON my feet...Aaron's dog, the dog who has been here since Thursday...wreaking havoc...not really. She's not too bad, she is actually sweet and nice, just bouncy and energetic and happy...

She woke me up twice on Thursday night, the first time I trekked outside with all three dogs at 4 a.m. When she woke me on Friday night, I just told her to LIE DOWN, and BE QUIET. She did. When she woke me this morning at 5:30, I did the same. She did. But I was WIDE awake. blah. I hope tonight's better.

Today, we went to the beach. It was foggy, then sunny and brilliantly warm and lovely. The water, Lake Ontario, was cool and refreshing and clear and clean.

The sand was warm on top, then nice and cool underneath...nice for feet to dig into while sitting in the sun talking with friends.

I didn't take a single picture. I just left my phone right in my bag on the table in the shade, and took an electronics break. I knew I would kick myself for not getting pictures, but I decided to just enjoy the beach.

This is going to be an interesting school year. My two oldest homeschoolers are going back to real school. I will still have the three youngest here, plus for lots of the days Davian will be here, which we thoroughly enjoy. My daughter Mali is having her baby next month, and when she goes back to work I will watch her sometimes, when her daddy can't. With the older two not here, I won't be able to go anywhere unless I take all the kids with me, just like the old days. I am planning to stay home a whole lot more. :)

I am planning next years' curriculum...we need a bit more structure, says me who doesn't like structure. It's a necessary evil, I think, so we can accomplish more than we did this year.

The girls seem to have settled down. I just hate when they stay up so late then inevitably wake up with the birds in the morning and are tired...then of course they will start in again, asking if she can spend one more night. Tonight, they will tell me, we will go to bed so nicely! And ha, I will believe them.

Ah well. Life is good. The dogs are all settled down for the night, and so shall is going to be a scorching hot week...I have very few plans, and am thankful for the swimming pool!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

free range parenting....

Where are all the kids? Drive through a neighborhood, and see all the empty streets! Those well-manicured lawns with the fancy play structures, empty! Where are the kids on bikes, roaming around looking for other kids to play a game of kickball?

When I was a kid, we could stay out until the street lights came on.

When my older kids were younger, they had no television, and when we got a computer, the nice fat desktop, it was the only one in the house, and it sat on a table in the living room, hogging the phone line when one was online. It was so easy to see who was doing what or instant messaging whom.

These days, kids have their iPods or phones and communication with each other on these devices are as vital to them as breathing. We have times here at home when we all put them away and to each other! I am mean sometimes, making kids get offline, stop playing video games, and DO SOMETHING ELSE. They are pretty good about it, but kids are people too, and people tend to take the path of least resistance, and amusing oneself online is just too easy.

My rant here is this: electronic devices are making us lazy and fat and apathetic about the world around us. Our whole lives are documented with pics on social media. But in it all, we need to actually relate to each other and LIVE.

I will continue to do my part to be a Mean Mom, to nag and get after them. Life is too short to spend it all in front of a screen. And on this note, goodbye for now!

Friday, July 24, 2015

monumental mayhem....

And it isn't the kids! This is the little sweetie I have watched a few times this week and last...

This is her five year old brother...he keeps himself so busy, loves to play with the waffle blocks. It makes me happy that I have kept so many toys, when these kids come over. isn't the kids coming over that makes the crazy around here: it's Aaron's dog! Oh Aaron, I send you a slap through the internet! He took a little vacation, and we said Sure, We'll Watch Lily...and yeah, we knew Lil was a crazy dog, but oh dear. She's a handful! It's a good thing she's cute, and I'm nice. She is a destroyer of slippers and flip-flops. She left a surprise on the kitchen floor yesterday, then another one this morning. She's kind of magic: she can be here and there and everywhere all at once! She gets all up in Duke's grill, and he has that Cone Of Shame, so he just does a little growl and she backs off, she's at least got some common sense. She's friends with Suri now, so that's fun. Having two huge doggies chase each other around the house...they knocked down the floor lamp this morning.

And she didn't sleep through the night last night. I had to take three dogs out at 4:00 a.m. Seriously.

It is getting better as we adjust, and she adjusts, but oh dear. She is kind though, no malice or meanness. Just excitement and happiness, and when we ask her questions, she cocks her head to the side so far it looks sideways, and it is adorable. The cat is joining in the fun now, attacking and trying to play. Oh joy.

Yesterday I had the two sweet children visit me for a few hours...while they were still here I had to bring Duke to the vet for a check, leaving Evelyn and Kathryn in charge. Sonja K. went with me...

I think we look like twins.:) My kids all look so different, but they all look a little bit like me.

Anyhow...our little friend Davian wanted to come over...

Can you see why it was a unanimous YES? He's a doll. We took a swim in the pool after I returned from the vet. (Duke's healing up well. He has to keep that cone on so he can't bet at his ear, which is like a funny movie, as my mother-in-law would say. He crashes into everything, and has no inkling that he should perhaps lift his head a little more to get up the steps instead of the cone crashing into every.single.step.)

Anyway...after a while, it was time to bring Jonathan over to his friend's party....and Char and Cam over to their friend's house...and Davian didn't want to go home yet, he suggested that we get a he came along for the ride, and we went to DunkinDonuts...

Davian can read, so when he chose his donut, he asked for, "Strawberry, please." Strawberry was what it said on the little placard on the shelf for the pink with sprinkles. He is so funny and sweet. He ordered a mango Coolata. When we were leaving, he was holding my hand, and looked up at me and said, "Thank you, Della." So sweet, he is.

Five of my daughters left to go spend the night at Grandma's house. She took them out for pizza and for a movie. Paul and I ended up eating dinner all by ourselves! I grilled pork chops, steamed some broccoli, and made salads, while he picked zucchini from the garden, and fried it up with seasonings...mmm.

Okay...Pool Story. Our pool isn't anything gorgeous. It's not landscaped or inground, but I love it. It makes the summer heat bearable and enjoyable, and it provides a place for all sorts of interesting interactions with the kids, there are all different combinations of kids I swim with each day. It is refreshing, and makes getting some exercise quite fun. Anyhow. With all this sunshine, the water evaporates. So we put the hose in for a while the other night. oops, forgot to take it out! I heard a noise that evening, the sound of water dripping and spilling...and yup, the hose was still on. Long story short, the next morning, I went out to turn on the pool filter, and what!!!? All that water was....drained! The pool wasn't empty of course, but the water level had gone down to under the skimmer, so we couldn't turn on the filter! There was a leak! I searched for it, couldn't find it...and I felt despair. I love that pool, and it was finally so clear one could see one's toes perfectly at the bottom. ugh. blah. I was not happy about it.

Then I had a thought. It was this: be thankful. rrr. No, be thankful. Fight for it, for thankfulness. I mean, when IS the testing of one's faith? I thought about the Glad Game (Pollyanna!).

Then Paul came home from work, all happy and thrilled to have another thing to work on...and ha, someone had left the filter on "backwash", hence the water drained out. It was, probably me. ha. oops. All that anxiety and worry and it was such a simple fix. oops.

I was totally jumping for joy, despite Paul shaking his head at my stupidity.

The doggies are all settled down quietly right now. Duke sprawled in the middle of the floor, Lily on my feet...I mean RIGHT on my feet...and Suri on the couch she's not supposed to be on, with Camille...I am overlooking it because if I tell her to Get Down, she'll get up and jump down, and it might stir them all up again. phew. I actually told the little girls to turn on the television this morning because I wanted to write, and have a little bit of quiet, Bad Mom Award. Jon isn't home from his friend's yet, the girls are all still with Grandma, Joe is working on art...

The minivan is fixed, and it was no charge, because the part was just replaced a few onths ago and it was under warranty, which was good because the vet bill....ouchy.

Mali is due to have her baby in four weeks, but has had just about enough of being pregnant. She is working five 12 hour shifts in a row at the hospital, and is just tired out. I told her: one day at a time, one moment at a time. Tell Satan with his whispers and worries to go back to hell where he belongs!

Worry and stress...I hate them. I hate when I let things pile on me and weigh me down. I realize that I do not have to live that way, and am thankful, so thankful that God is good, and sends all things for my very best.

Jesus said that His yoke was easy and His burden was light.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

dog surgery...poor duke

This is Duke when we picked him up from the vet yesterday.

He has only a small sliver of ear left.

Plus he had a tumor removed from his foot..and, he was neutered. I thought he was too old to go through that surgery, after having all the presurgery testing done way back when Suri was spayed, we decided not to do it. After all, Duke was already so old. But since he was going under anesthesia anyway...we decided to just do it.

So poor guy, he has been really through a lot. The Cone of Shame, as Joe calls the big plastic collar he came home with...isn't working out. Suri is afraid of it, and when Duke follows her while wearing it, she hides under the kitchen table, and when he tries to get under there, it crashes into everything, and was almost worse for his ear...

Just a little bit of Suri spam, she's so cute.

Jon, Char, and Cam at the playground...we went there after we dropped Duke off at the vet...


This fantastic state park has a splash park! It was great fun, I had my suit on too, and got soaked.

It was great did weigh heavily on me though, the fact that the minivan was making strange noises...that got louder as we adventured further from home...when we left the park, that van sounded like a choo-choo train, and when an actual train nearby let out a loud whistle, Jon thought it was hilarious.

So today Duke is recovering at home, and the minivan is in the shop, again.

I took some girls to the library today, and swam in the pool with Mali....ah, summertime....

Sunday, July 19, 2015

summer days, summer nights...

Here's my favorite kind of day: going in the pool three or four times with various different, I swam with Abigail, Mali, Kathryn, Evelyn, Suzanne, Sonja, Jon, Char, Camille, and Paul. And my other favorite is grilling dinner...last night - steak, tonight - burgers. I like going barefoot in the yard, and picking raspberries and eating them right off the bush. I like late bedtimes, and early coffee on the deck, and the kids's sunkissed faces.

I like the spontaneity of summer. I like when it so hot out, the pool water barely refreshes. It hit 90 today.

Today, however, Paul and I and Kathryn had to work the baseball game, and it was too hot there. We had to wear those horrid polyester button down smocks over our clothes, and in that concession stand, it was blazing hot. Getting home and into that pool was heavenly.

Ah, summer...

The Big Van. We cleaned it out yesterday, it just has to be vacuumed...and then it is going to be for sale. Of course I was sentimental, cleaning out that big van. We had some good times, and plenty of adventures in her.

We don't exactly fit in the minivan very well, but can usually manage to bring two vehicles...the big van just got....too big. We don't need fifteen seats anymore:(

Suri and Duke. You can see his ear a little in this picture...I didn't want to take one that shows the tumor too clearly, because it's yuck. He goes in early in the morning for surgery.

I am taking the three youngest kids with me to bring him to the vet, then we are going on an adventure...I am taking them to a state park with a water park/sprinkler park in it! We have our suits all packed, and I will get a lunch together quick in the morning, we have to leave here by 7:30, to get Duke to the vet in time.

Duke...he's going to feel so much better...:)

Saturday, July 18, 2015

untethered in the universe...

For some reason, that was the phrase that went through my head when my mother died. It was how I felt. Lost. Surrounded by my husband and kids, but lonely. My mother...I used to call her when I was making dinner, almost every night. I would call her in the morning, around nine o'clock, after the kids got on the bus. I would call her when someone lost that particularly wiggly tooth, and when someone won a prize at school. I would call her for recipes and advice and just for reassurance that my life wouldn't always be so busy. It's too quiet here at my house, she would tell me. I'll trade you, she would say.

I am missing her these days. It's funny, the ebb and flow of life, how the kids grow up and are now my adult friends, and also how my mother-in-law has turned into my very good friend. I am not lonely, anymore. But I still miss her. She had such a huge heart, and all the time in the world for each and every person who crossed her path.

Summer has descended upon us with heat and humidity...poor Jon is on day #3 of being sick. Sonja is sick too, and Char keeps taking her temperature. Being nine years old, it's not clear if she really doesn't feel well, or she's still young enough to think it's rather fun to be sick.

The kids who feel fine are antsy. They don't want to stay home today, they want to go somewhere! So I don't know what's in store for me today. Evelyn keeps looking at me, wanting me to stop writing and figure out what we are going to do...:)

Friday, July 17, 2015

fun and sickness....

Today, Miss Char, Miss Cam, and I went to our friends' house all by ourselves, to swim. They dove and splashed, while I talked:)

We stopped at the little store in town, where Marge works, and bought some peaches and cauliflower and blueberries and ice cream and cheese and ham and bacon and bagels and cream cheese, on the way home. It's fun when your daughter is the cashier.

Jonathan didn't come with us today because he has a fever. He came down with it last evening while I was working at the baseball game. He was concerned that he wouldn't be able to go to swim today, and when he got up this morning it was obvious he was too sick to go. But, he said that we should still go and he would stay home because he would feel bad if the little girls had to miss it too, because they were so excited to go. What a nice boy. I was nice to him in return, I told him that because he was sick, he could stay home and play as many video games as he wanted to. He then asked, "Would ice cream be good for me too?" Yes, Jon, eat ice cream too.

Now Sonja K. has a fever, too.

So much for going to the Adirondacks next week...

Ah well, life can't be ALL sunshine and roses.

I am concerned about Duke. His surgery is all set for Monday morning...but what if he has cancer in other places, and we put him through this? Mali thought it would be strange for him to have such a huge ugly tumor, and NOT have it elsewhere. I need to talk to the vet in the morning before he operates.'s late, and Paul and I are going to watch a movie or something...the princesses are having a sleepover in Kathryn and Suzanne's room, Sonja is dozing on the couch, and Jon is already in bed. Mali was here for a while, but has gone home now. Goodnight.

Thursday, July 16, 2015


And puppy dogs, rainbows and roses! I am in a super good mood today. Paul's home, although he's at work. I had to drive all the way to the suburbs this morning, he had to return the rental car from his work trip. While discussing the route, he maintained the quickest way was to take the thruway to the highway, then exit right near the rental agency. I mentioned it would be just as easy to exit right after the thruway and take the town roads. Why would you do that? Well. It's where I was born and raised, that village, and if I can take a little drive through it, well, I will. So he took the highway route, and I exited and meandered on through town. Road construction! It took forever and a day! oops.

Anyhoo. He dropped off the car, joined me in the minivan, and we got to spend a little bit of time together on the road.

He's off to work now.

It's a lovely day! 70 + degrees, and sunshine! The pool is clean, although it might just be too chilly to take a swim today.

My little friends aren't coming today, so it seems rather quiet here. The princesses have been out on the swings, and are playing in their room. Jonathan: still sleeping, at noon! He has been staying up too late and getting up too early, and is catching up. That boy is turning into a teenager!

I am excited because:
We might go to the Adirondacks next week! I have those free admission tickets to the theme park/water park there, and Paul thinks he can get a few days off of we may go camping. Honestly, I would rather go the hotel route, sleeping in a tent is not my cup of tea. My hip hitting the ground sleeping on an air mattress, waking up to see the spiders on the inside of the tent, mosquitoes...all the packing and setting up and taking down and putting away when we get home...blah. But wait, does this mean I am getting OLD?! The fact that I am counting the cost of the fun? uh-oh.

We will only be taking the four youngest kids, which will be strange/fun/and like we're playing We Have A Small Family. The older ones don't mind, they like nothing better than having mom and dad leave for a few days so they can eat all the junk food and watch lots of tv and play video games all night. Also they get to do tons of fun things all the time. Mirielle is taking three of the girls to Washington D.C. to visit Sam at the end of the month, and Sonja is going on a camping trip with Abigail, and the youth girls. They also do day trips and hikes and waterfall explorations. So don't feel sorry for them.

Last night the girls came home from Emily's house all excited: She is planning a trip for Evelyn and Suzanne for next March, to England and Norway. The girls said the tickets are only like $500, and I should come too. Stop my beating heart, I want to go. I just might. There is nothing I like more than going adventuring, and there is nothing I like more than traveling with Emily...put those two things together, and wow. Em is the kind of girl who doesn't get ruffled when things don't go according to plan, partially because she isn't a planner to begin with. She likes to go with the flow, and stop and smell the roses. She isn't a tourist-y type, more of an off-the-beaten-path girl. Oooh, fun.

Ah well, I have some documents to type for school, which I have been putting off, so as to retain my crown of Miss Procrastination 2015. It's sunny out, can't I do it tomorrow? Wait, tomorrow, we are going to visit our friends...and their built in pool with a diving, I don't jump off the diving board. But it's the highlight of the summer for Jon, Char, and Cam...who DO jump off the diving board.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

rainy morning with lots of kids....

Hess least fifteen of them...and waffletown...= fun. Two of my brother's grandchildren are here with us today, they were here Monday and yesterday too. My niece, their mama, is having another baby in a few weeks. She used to play here when she was a little girl, how time flies.

The little one is just two years old, and she is a doll. She is cuddly, and likes to climb on my lap and read, "The Big Pink Book of Everything" with me. The five year old big brother is sweet, smart, and keeps busy. He is having a good time with Jon, and Jon's plentiful toys.

I feel such a weight of responsibility, having other people's children here. Was I so paranoid and watchful with my own kids when they were smaller? It's joyful to have the little ones here, but also in a way, exhausting. Maybe because I'm old now.:)

It makes me wonder too, how did I ever manage? For Monday and Tuesday, we had a few cousins and a friend here too, making lunch and snack time busier than it's been in a while.

So last evening, I took Jonathan, Charlotte Claire, and Camille to the movies. The movie was showing at 7:00, but we arrived a bit before six, oops...good thing the theatre is located right next to my favorite dollar store, with BigLots next to that. We burned that hour, easy. Pool floaties, a new rug for the floor in front of the kitchen sink, pumpkin seeds to eat during the movie instead of popcorn...

We saw, "Inside Out", and it was entertaining. The best part was when Jon and I both laughed at something and looked at each other. And the way the little girls were just plain entranced, enchanted...less is more where these things are concerned...they appreciate it so much when they rarely go.

It's too busy to concentrate right now...Sonja, Kathryn, Suzanne, Evelyn, and cousin Olivia, Cam, Char, Jon, the two visiting children...are here and there and talking and playing...

Sunday, July 12, 2015

a teeny tiny break in the craziness...

I'm finally sitting here in the quiet...well, almost quiet. The last remnant of children are settling in to bed...Jon has a friend over, the little girls have cousin Dani here. Kathryn is heading to bed, those teenage girls of mine were having quite a lively conversation a bit ago. Kathryn was the mediator, trying to make peace between Evelyn and Sonja. They weren't exactly fighting, they just misunderstand each other all the time. They truly try to get along, and they are the bestest of friends when they are friends. But they can get loud. And silly. They do bring fun and joy into the house though.

Who am I kidding? The kids aren't going to be quiet yet. Sleepover, and all.

Anyhow. Tomorrow two of my brother's grandchildren are coming over for the day, as he usually watches them and is going on vacation. The little girl E., is two, and her big brother L. is five. We are very excited to be having them over, and hope they really like it here.

I worked the baseball game today. I didn't just get up and dressed and leave though. I made sure that several other kids here had their lunch packed and soccer stuff, as they were going to church with soccer practice after. I said goodbye to Paul, who headed back to Massachusetts for work. Then Kathryn and I went to the game. We work in the chicken fry stand, selling chicken, fries, deep fried hot dogs (yeah, seriously), and fried dough. And soda and beer. We don't do the cooking, just the selling. We come home smelling like cotton candy and fried food. Oh, and today the cotton candy sellers gave us as much cotton candy as we wanted. I felt a little piggy taking 4 or 5, but they assured me they would throw out what we didn't take...and I found myself trying to de-pig my image by saying I had nine kids at of the ladies wanted to fill a garbage bag for, I said, they don't need that much. The little girls were pretty thrilled when I walked in with it though.

Abigail brought the kids home from church and soccer practice, and watched them here, and took them in the pool. Emily brought Suzanne and Evelyn on a waterfall hike. Sonja ended up at her friends' house for the afternoon. Margaret worked at the grocery store in town today. I have to count on my fingers sometime to figure out who is where with whom.

I ate some leftover chicken strips at the fry stand, so only had some raw carrots, a few almonds, and some slices of pepperoni for dinner...oh, and a homemade iced coffee: cooled coffee with ice and unsweetened baking cocoa, some half and half...into the blender, sometimes I add vanilla. Yum. The kids had individual frozen pizzas and baby carrots and iced tea. It's nice not to cook dinner after a day working the baseball game....oh, and I took a dip in the pool with Abigail when I got home. :)

Yeah, so I don't have any pictures from the beach on Friday because my new phone died on the way there. I don't think I charged it properly, oops. Abigail took some but hasn't sent them to me yet. The beach was absolutely pristine. The sky was blue, the sand was warm, the water was cool but not cold, and there were big waves to play in. We went to a beach on the east side of Lake was just perfect. Evelyn and I made a charcoal fire and roasted some burgers and coneys (spicy white hot dogs), and hot dogs. Kim brought a watermelon, and a thermos pot of hot coffee, which we had after dinner with some of Mirielle's coconut brownies. Yes, I had one, it was my birthday. Sitting there on the beach with the sun low in the sky, toes in the sand, eating a brownie and sipping hot coffee...ahh. The day zipped by too fast.

But, Paul was home when I got there, and he had shined up the kitchen for me. It was so very nice to see him.

Saturday...yesterday...we braved the mosquitoes and picked raspberries from the bushes out back. Paul and Jonathan mowed the lawn. I sat in the sun talking to daughters, went in the pool about five different times with different kids, then after dinner, took Camille to town to get ice cream at the store, and the Annie movie from Redbox.

Even Paul liked it.

Well, it seems we are having surgery done on Duke. It's scheduled for next week, and it can't come soon enough. The vet is pretty certain the tumor is cancer, and that he doesn't need a third round of antibiotics. But, the ear is horribly smelly and disgusting and gross. Duke doesn't realize that he smells...poor guy.

It'll be nice to get it done. He'll have to wear The Cone Of Shame afterward, so it can heal without him rolling on it and rubbing it against everything...he's going to look rather silly with one ear, but he won't care, and neither will we.

I am tired enough, I suppose. Morning comes quickly, and I have a book to finish.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

out and about with six daughters...

We went to the mall today...

Kathryn, Sonja, Evelyn, Suzanne...and Charlotte Claire and the mall...first picture taken on my new iPhone:) My old phone was giving me trouble...freezing up when I wanted to take a pic, and other assorted inconveniences. I get to upgrade every two years, so I decided to go big. I switched allegiances from Samsung Galaxy, mostly because I can text my girls' iPods with it.

Aaron's dog, Lily. Aaron lives in a nice apartment in the city, so we visited him after the mall. I accidentally deleted a nice picture of him.

A trip to the grocery store...

And, a quick stop into McDonald's for drinks...I had buy one get one free coupons, so they paired up and used three coupons. I just had a coffee from the dollar menu.

And now, I am going to rent a movie with Margaret...for girls' movie night...hey, Paul's out of town...:)

summer morning....

Jonathan came home from his friend's house...with his friend. They had Doritos and cookies last night at 11 o'clock...then Jon barfed. He made it to the bathroom, but I did feel sorry for him. Hopefully it was just too much junk late at night, yeah I know, Bad Mom Award here...but you know, summertime and childhood and all that.

About isn't written in stone that we are going forward with this surgery. The estimate is coming in the mail. I am 99% sure we will do it, but there is a chance that it will be so expensive we will second guess that. Does that make us bad pet parents? I am certain, to some people, that it does. In life, there will be those who think you're foolish if you do something, others think you're foolish if you don't. Or cruel. But thank the Lord this is America, and we have freedom to choose. :) I find actually that I need to get free from what people think of me, more and more. In theory, I don't care at all. And I know that those who would please men cannot please God. But it's in there, and it's an extremely valuable thing to be able to see it, and be free from it...caring what people think.

My two little girls are playing dollhouse this morning. They are currently having a property line dispute, which I hope they resolve without having to call law enforcement. They get along well most of the time, but when the fighting starts...ugh.

They are going to come along with us on our trip to the dreaded mall, just because. Hopefully we can make it fun without making it too expensive.

Coconut oil is one of my favorite things. I blend it in my morning coffee, it keeps me full until lunch, making breakfast a thing of the past..although I often eat eggs for lunch. I use it on my skin, which makes my hands smell like a tropical vacation, but so soft. I feed a teaspoon of it to Duke every morning, for the calories (he is a thin old man!), and to help his skin, and it seems to have helped. I then let Suri lick off the spoon...she doesn't need the extra calories, but try telling her that when she gets all excited, thinking, Treat Time!

Here's what I'm excited about: Friday, the beach!!!!! It's my birthday Friday, fifty years old. And my nice daughters have decided that we should go to my favorite beach, on Lake's vast and sandy and sometimes the waves are huge and ocean-like. Emily can't make it, as she has students to teach, but Abigail and Mirielle are going. I'm trying to get my friend and sister-in-law Kim to come with her kids, and perhaps even her husband, my brother...who got me for his birthday when he was seven. His birthday is the day after mine, he turns 57. (I grew up with him saying that he owns me, as he got me for his birthday:))

The natives are getting restless, is that saying still okay? When are we going, they want to know. I guess I am in no hurry to go to the mall is short, so off we go....


Well, the vet visit was different than I had expected. Sonja K. went with me, for which I rewarded her with a chocolate shake from McDonalds on the way home, as it was hot today and the air conditioning in the minivan chose to stop working. The vet seems very optimistic that this surgery will make Duke a happy dog. He thinks the ear tumor is cancerous, and the only thing to do is...remove his ear. Duke's heart and lungs are strong, says the vet, and if today's bloodwork comes out fine, he will probably have surgery...which I do have mixed feelings about, since Duke is so old and lumpy. I don't want him to suffer through recovery, ect., only to have more cancer crop up and cause him misery. blah. But Duke is such a good boy. He's the best dog to take to the vet. He did have his worried face on when he had bloodwork, which was adorable, bless his little innocent heart. I hate loving a dog so much, you know? He wouldn't even take a treat in the exam room, but he did gobble it up when we took him outside. He was like, "I'll go in, and listen to you, but I don't like this. I don't know about this, and I don't like it."

Oh, if dogs could talk.

He is tentatively scheduled for ear removal surgery in a few weeks, pending the bloodwork results. isn't ALL sadness and, it's summer. And we like summer. Today we lazed around a bit, sat in the's nice having five teenage girls...Margaret 18, Kathryn 17, Evelyn almost 16 (next month!), Suzanne 14, and Sonja K. 13...there is never No One To Talk To. I have girls to swim with, and sit in the sun with, and talk to as we wash up the dishes. We were in and out of the pool today, enjoying the almost 90 degree weather, and the fact that the pool is so very clean! Remember, the filter broke last summer right after I had it finally clean and all that stuff was in there since then...algae and leaves and green stuff....finally, it's clean again.

I found myself home with only Charlotte Claire and Camille, as the older kids all went to the youth meeting. Char fed Kitty and discovered that we were out of cat food! Someone had left the closet door open, and Bad Duke, he ate up all that kitty food, put his head right into the Little Friskies. So...we HAD to go to Target, right?

Just the three of us set out...Camille had the church songbook, and we sang, "Joy, Joy, Joy", and "I Have Decided To Follow Jesus". And, they talked. They delighted in having Mama's full attention, and I delighted in giving it. We found them a set of flower pots to paint, a pack of flower seeds, and some more potting soil. They are excited to work on this stuff tomorrow. I bought a package of division flash cards, some chocolate animal crackers, Starbucks coffee (yum!), and three bags of frozen chicken breast, as it was on sale and there was a $5 off coupon. The little girls got some oatmeal raisin cookies, which I admit drooling over...

It was a dark rainy drive home, but we enjoyed it. Char did not stop talking. The airplane flight to Washington state is their most favorite subject...who gets window seat, and walking while flying, what the bathroom will be like, where to go and how to stow luggage....they are so excited! The trip's not until September, but half the fun is the looking forward.

Never a dull moment. Tomorrow we have to go to the big awful mall in the big city, again, because two of the girls have iPods that need repairs, and are still under warranty. (none of them have cell phones:))

We are making arrangements to get kitty kitten "fixed", which Suzanne says could be avoided if kitty got converted. You had to be there, it was funny.

Oh's after 1 a.m., and here I sit...morning comes early, and I can't seem to sleep in, so I had better get to bed before I turn into a zombie....goodnight.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

we deserve to be tired....

Kathryn, Suzanne, Evelyn, and Sonja, with Charlotte Claire and Camille in the front...late night Walmarting. It was after 11 when we left the store. We had important things to get, like gum and ice cream (for them), almonds and cashews, and pool shock. I also got two $2 tank tops for Jonathan, and a bag of Doritos for these girls. While they enjoyed ice cream cones on the way home, I had a piece of beef jerky and a few slugs of Powerade Zero.

We visited Grandma first, and watched part of a Shirley Temple movie. She was pretty adorable.

The princesses are awake, they slept in my big comfy bed with me last night, and were asleep as soon as their heads hit the pillows. Jonathan is at his friend's house, and the big kids are all still sleeping. It's a cloudy day, perfect for sleeping. I have been up since seven, because as soon as I wake up in the morning, my thoughts start thinking, and I can't fall back to sleep. I read for too long last night, as Paul is gone away again, and I can leave the light on next to my I am tired, but I deserve it:)

Today is Take Duke To The Vet Day. Jonathan texted me from his friend's house this morning, asking me what time the appointment is, and what was going to be done. I explained that it is just a consultation and he texted that is he worried. Oh Jonathan. I've been so busy thinking about me, about how I don't want to go through this, that I rather forgot that other people love Duke too. Stupid Duke, being so nice and gentle and happy and thankful for each pat on the head. He has to go wag his tail if one even looks in his direction. blah.

I have been lazy today. I put a bag of shock in the pool, because it is so close to being crystal clear. We have so many mosquitoes, I got bit up just going to the back yard. I washed a few dishes, wiped down the counter, took a load of laundry out and put most of it away...then made my coffee, and settled into my comfy chair, without even sweeping the floors.

Here are some random things floating around in my head:

1. I have to do final report cards for the five homeschoolers.

2. There are dentist appointments to be made.

3. I have free tickets for an Adirondack theme park, through a homeschooling program, for myself (teacher!), and four of the kids. I want to go during the week when the lines will be shorter, and have to figure out if I want to wait forever and a day for Paul to figure out when he can accompany us, or just take a few of the older kids and suck it up and pay for their tickets...and whether to camp in tents (what if it rains!?), or get a hotel for two nights and make it a restful vacation.

4. We rented the camp for next summer! We liked it so much, we want to go back! Having all the family together in a place away from the hustle and bustle of life was so amazing, we all want to do it again.

5. Mali got rear-ended yesterday. Oh, that text! I called her right away to see if she is okay, and she was fine, but shaken up. She was hit in the rear as the light turned green...lots of damage to her nice new car. But I told her: A car is a car, but the most important thing is that she is okay. I wonder what the driver who hit her thought when she got out of her car with that big pregnant belly....

6. Charlotte Claire and Camille are having apple pie and chocolate ice cream for breakfast. I bought the pie yesterday at Wegman's for $5, they have the best apple pies...I want some. But I will not have some.

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

Monday, July 6, 2015

ahh, summer monday....

Camille, Kathryn, Sonja K., and Char....we went on a spontaneous outing last the village, to Dunkin Donuts, for ice cream..then we parked in a good spot to watch the fireworks at the speedway, but they didn't start because the race was still going on...and we decided to just leave. But it was still fun. (The van parked next to us was filled with kids...they had nine in there, two carseats...I remember those days.

Today I had to say goodbye to sweetiepie, little Anya. She and her mama are heading back home to Washington state tomorrow. She was here today, and she is a darling. She likes our black lab Suri better than all the toys here.

Tomorrow I have to take Duke to the vet to talk about surgery on his ear. Dear me, I wish I could just fast forward to after the appointment. I am filled with dread. No one likes to be The Bad Pet Owner. You know, the evil person who won't/can't cough up a thousand dollars for surgery. But here's the thing...

1. I love Duke. But, he's old. He's hobbly. He's lumpy.

2. Duke is a DOG. He has no understanding of life and death. He has no idea that I am thinking about his demise, as he lies there on the leather couch washing his paws.

3. He can't live with his ear the way it is. It is cruel and besides, it is very gross. He's on his second round of antibiotics, and the tumor on his ear is yucky indeed.

4. If surgery is our only option, and it's as costly as I think it will be, will the vet think I am horrid if I suggest I'm thinking of having him put down? Duke, not the vet.

5. When we brought our truck in for service last week, Joseph asked me if I would feel like an idiot if we had to tell the mechanic we decided not to put any more money into that truck...ha, I said it's different to "junk" Duke.

6. Though I joke about it, and indeed I fact, we have been saying since we got him, "Duke won't make it through the winter.", it breaks my heart to consider saying goodbye to him.

7. Duke, poor Duke. I wish there was an easy answer. It isn't just the money. It's the fact that the ear may be cancerous, and he may have cancer in other places. If we opt for the surgery, he'll have to have x-rays and bloodwork and pre-surgical tests done. And he is ten years old.

8. Paul is gone on a work trip again, to Massachusetts. wah. I wanted him to go with me to the vet. I can just picture me sitting there crying, saying, "Yes, Mr. Vet, do anything you can to possibly save his life."

9. I wish I could just fast-forward to after tomorrow.

But I can't so I will just bask in this wonderful feeling called Dread.

Today was a gorgeous day. The pool is almost perfectly clear, almost.

We have to go to Walmart...we need a fan-on-a-stick, you know, one of those fans on a post that oscillates? Spins around as it blows? I don't know if "need" is the right word, but when it gets hot in here, yeah, NEED.

Maybe we'll make an outing of it, take all the kids and get ice cream....not me though. I am waiting and having one on Friday...the first of the season:)

Saturday, July 4, 2015

happy fourth of july!!!

Memories of our time together at the camp contrast with this weekend's reality...Paul and I actually found ourselves off on our own this afternoon! We went to one of the Finger lakes and walked along the was lovely.

The kids were here and there and everywhere...four of the girls on a hike, two of the kids in Ohio, Ben and Sam back in their Washingtons, Em at the catering event, two of the girls working at the baseball game, the three youngest at their friends house for the day...Mali texted and wanted to know if anything was going on today...and no one was home!

Five daughters are home now, plus Sonja's friend. Jonathan is spending the night at Emily and Abigail and Mirielle's house.

The catering event went well. I managed to deliver two hundred cupcakes without smushing any. They looked pretty nice all spread out on the table, and I know they taste good because I baked them from scratch and used the best ingredients.

I am going out in the driveway to watch fireworks with Camille...

Friday, July 3, 2015

friday night...what a day!

Yesterday, I baked over 200 cupcakes, then frosted them today. I made over a hundred chocolate chip cookies this morning. I grilled burgers for dinner. I swept, mopped, washed a few loads of bedding, and washed lots of dishes.

But the best part was this: Ashley and Anya came over! Little Anya is getting more comfortable here, she is a little sunshine! It's so nice to just have them here...

After dinner tonight, I hopped in the pool with Char and Cam for a quick cool off..., ha. More like climbed the ladder carefully...anyway, after our swim we went out for ice cream ... Abigail, Suzanne, Sonja, Jonathan, Charlotte Claire, and Camille...I didn't have ice cream, I stopped and got a coffee with sugar free raspberry in it. The soft vanilla and chocolate twist looked yum. I decided that next Friday, my fiftieth birthday, I am going to have an ice cream cone. It will be the first ice cream I have had in over ten weeks. I don't guess it will kill me. And if it does, I will die happy:)

We went to visit Grandma after the stop at the ice cream place...

Tomorrow, Evelyn, Suzanne, and Sonja are going on a hike with Abigail and some other girls from church. Jonathan is going over to one of his friend's house, and that leaves Paul and I, and the two princesses. I have to deliver my cookies and cupcakes to the event that is being catered around noon...then I have the day free. What shall we do with just two kids?

The house is quiet now, the girls all doing their own thing and Paul watching, "The Simpson's" with Jonathan. I am tired enough, after all that baking and washing up and and and...

Thursday, July 2, 2015

the little details of life....

1. Today was Cupcake Day. Evelyn helped me bake 52 chocolate, 70-ish lemon, and about 60 vanilla, from scratch. We grated lemon peel, and separated eggs, mixed and washed the bowls and took five hours.

2. Tomorrow is Frost-The-Cupcakes Day. And, Bake Chocolate Chip Cookie Day. It's all for a fourth of July barbecue that Emily's company is catering, for a church fundraiser.

3. Margaret took Suzanne, Sonja, Irene (Sonja's friend), Jonathan, Char, and Cam to the park at one of the Finger Lakes...they played chess and cards and played on the playground.

4. Kathryn and Joseph left this morning for a weekend trip to Ohio for a soccer tournament.

5. Duke, oh poor Duke. He is going to the vet next week to re-check his ear. It doesn't look good, and we have to decide what to do. :(

6. Ashley, Ben's wife, is still in town...she came to visit the other day with little Anya...and is coming again tomorrow.

7. The weather today is absolutely glorious. Sunshine and a slight breeze, low humidity...just perfect, but horrible weather for baking cupcakes! I just wanted to go outside today!

8. Tomorrow is supposed to be more of the same weather, so I need to get those cupcakes frosted early on.

9. It is quiet-ish here, just the hum of two push-mowers, as Paul and Jonathan tackle the lawn. We were gone on vacation, then got all that rain...

10. It's that time again, time to mosey on out to the kitchen and decide what's for dinner. With Joe and Kap gone, there are only nine of us for dinner. It's a far cry from just a few years ago...oh yeah, Margaret's going out with some friends tonight, so only eight!

11. Paul brought flowers for me today. He has tomorrow off, and came home a little early today...early enough for us to drive to town together and pick up the truck from the repair shop. This has been repair year for us, with our three clunkers.

12. The lawn mowers are quiet now, perhaps I'll jump up and pretend I'm busy:) ha.