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

Saturday, October 31, 2015


Sonja 13, Darth Vader...Evelyn 16 flapper, me witch, Suzanne inmate..?, Jonny 11 Harry Potter/or young Luke Skywalker, Kathryn 17 - The Joker, then Miss Char in the front, a StarWars character, and Cam...a hunter. The older ones didn't really trick or treat, but we thoroughly enjoyed walking around the neighborhood, seeing all the kids dressed up...there were parents with coolers in their wagons, yeah, walking and drinking beer. Anyhoo.


Kathryn...and I.

With Miss Evelyn.

Scary girl pumped the gas...:)

Since I am such a nice mom, I let them get fountain drinks from the gas station, 69 cents each. Then we picked up a sheet pizza and fifty chicken wings...and home in the cozy chilly night to watch, "Kiki's Delivery Service", a Japanese animae.

Tomorrow...up early and out the door, to work at the high school field band competition, in the concession stand...never a dull moment...

halloween adventures....

Yesterday, in honor of Camille's birthday, which is next week, we went to the dreaded Chinese buffet for lunch...

Getting new tires at Walmart is always in adventure too. The three little girls (Miss Char and Miss Cam and their cousin Danielle) dance and sing like they are on a stage somewhere, oblivious that they are actually in the automotive department. We also brought cousin Olivia (Dani's older sister), and little Davian.

My fortune:)

Today, I made this:
I made two pear/apple pies. I tasted some, and it's out of this world, wah, kids, hurry and eat it!

Miss Char, cousin Dani, and Walmart yesterday...

We had to wait an hour for the new tires, so why not have fun?

We watched Lydia yesterday afternoon/evening. Here's Kathryn holding her. Kap is my #10 child, and it seems like yesterday she was just born, and I overheard one nurse say to another, in the hospital, "Ten kids! I don't know WHAT she's gonna do when she gets home!" ha, neither did I. (I had an after labor/birth migraine, and was sitting there crying as they took little Kathryn Grace to the nursery for a bit so I could get a little bit of sleep....) Anyhoo. Kathryn has grown up to a lovely 17 year old, and she, along with her sisters and brothers, loves little Lydia Eleanor.

And...we are going on more adventures!!! Time to get the kids dressed to go Trick Or Treating! We have already ordered a sheet pizza and 50 wings, for our Dump/Trade Candy Party, afterwards....bye!

Friday, October 30, 2015

another wonderful morning....

I have always taken stock in this: Stop and smell the roses. Consider this scenario...: A mom in a hurry, dragging small children at a brisk pace across the parking lot, she has lots to do, and no time to do it. The children are ferried about, buckled and unbuckled from their car seats, as mom gets things done. Perhaps they are even lectured about how much of a hurry they are in, and how they need to stop fussing about things like socks sliding down in boots. Oh been there done that! But. I hope I took the time to marvel at cloud formations and skip over parking lot puddles and sing happy songs!

Life is too short to just hurry through it! Especially with small children! Yes, there are days filled with appointments and stops here and there. But seriously, each day is a gift. Not just the sunny Saturdays at the zoo. I have been reading about "Dispositional Mindfulness". I am really really good at letting things come in one ear and out the other, and also thinking about all the things I need to get done while hearing all about someone's day. Mom, are you even listening? (I always thought it wasn't fair, 16 kids and only two ears). But anyway.

Being aware of life, actually stopping and saying to myself, "This is now. This is my life." My life is not tomorrow, or later, or when I lose 50 pounds. It's now. I think of it as awareness living. To tune in to NOW, to actually taste that sip of coffee, and appreciate it. Yes, I sound like a new age hippie, but whatever.

There are trials in the midst of the roses, I know that. I have a friend who hasn't been feeling well lately, who still moves along and does everything for everyone. I have another friend who has battled cancer of the esophagus for eight years, being in remission for quite some time...who now has cancer in the lung. He has a wife and eight children, one of them is Jonathan's best friend. This is not all sunshine and roses, but he has such a thankful attitude, and knows with all of his heart that God causes all things to work together for his good. (keep him in your prayers, please!)

In any case, life is precious, and I intend to use each day as mindfully and thankfully as I can. Not necessarily to do or accomplish things that I want to do, but to be awake and aware of what God is working. Do you know that it is written, "do good to all men...."(Gal 6 v.10) Does this include the nasty cashier and the guy who just pulled out in front of me? Yep. Goodness is a whole 'nother thing, I certainly don't have enough of it, my supply runs out when I get start getting irritated, but that's when I turn to God...He always helps in time of need.

Today I am going to Walmart to get new tires on the old minivan, my favorite thing to do...spend lots of money on fun and exciting things, spend lots of Walmart. But. It's all in the attitude, right?

Thursday, October 29, 2015

the bleakness of autumn....

When the leaves are all rained on, too soggy to rake up and jump in...and yes, I know some people rake the leaves to actually make their yard look nice, but I like leaves.

This tree filled our whole living room with the light reflected from it's brilliant yellow it's half naked.

And my pear tree...with the lonely chair sitting there getting rained on...

Today is a perfect day for baking. What should we make for the Halloween party tonight? Cut-out cookies? Pear/apple pie? Pumpkin cheesecake? Pumpkin cupcakes with white chocolate cream cheese frosting? Chocolate pumpkin cake? There are too too many options, and I can't decide. I want to make everything, then that small part of my mind that is actually rational, reminds me that cut-out cookies take a LONG TIME to make. Pears are hard to peel, and take forever. Then I start thinking that I don't even eat these things anymore, so maybe I'll make healthy muffins with flax's hard to make sugar laden junk, even if it looks pretty and tastes good, to give to kids who are already getting candy...oh ignorance is bliss and I wish sometimes I didn't know anything about healthy eating.

Yesterday I did indeed pick Miss Evelyn up from school, near the end of the day. I brought Camille with me too, and we went to the thrift store. I found Adidas soccer cleats for Jonathan, for three bucks, a cozy robe for Cam, some costume stuff (a huge furry coat and a hat for Camille, she's going to be a hunter on Halloween, it's going to be cold out), and a few books.

We also went to the dollar store, where bags of Indiana popcorn were 2/$1.00. Cheddar cheese, Jalapeno, kettle corn...that'll keep the kids busy for a while. We also bought granola bars and cereal...all the stuff I don't eat. :)

We were home in record time...and made pizzas for dinner. I also made a pan of roasted broccoli and cauliflower, to which I added mozzarella and pepperoni, and roasted some more. Okay, it's not as good as pizza, but it satisfied me. I also had some leftover corned beef...then a few squares of 90% dark, yet so good.

Okay, I've said it before, but I'll say it again: Mr. Davian lights up our lives. I have always loved him of course, but he is so absolutely darling, we all love him so much. He loves playing with the kids, he never gets bored, he likes playdough and drawing and coloring and reading...we have this box of cards with facts about countries of the world, and this little boy, all of three years old, likes reading them and guessing the countries. He adores popsicles and bananas, and will eat his lunch nicely if I just give it to him, but if I ask him, he's not really hungry. Because he's too busy doing other things. He is the most brilliant kid I have ever met, yet he's also a sweet child, with a huge imagination. He had a bunny named Fred...Fred died, he told me. His whole face turned red and his eyes started brimming, so I told him, "Fred is in bunny heaven with our dog, Rosie!" He got all happy so fast, and agreed that there was indeed a Bunny Heaven, a Doggy Heaven, and a Kitty Heaven. I love this child so much, seeing him cry can break my heart.

And that's it for now. The day stretches before me, and I have decisions to make!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

it was a dark and rainy day....

Camille carved the big one all by herself.

Kitty pumpkin, by Olivia, my niece. She so kindly did it for Davian, who brought it home with him:)

Miss Char...homeschooling is so cozy sometimes.

Today, we have rain. It's dark, it's chilly, and it's so cozy in here I can't stand it. I have a mug of pumpkin spice coffee, blended with coconut oil and half and half. The girls are sleeping in, and I have to go wake them up to start school, but...I will in a minute.

Margaret is not coming home for Christmas, she is staying in Norway. Abigail is in Norway too, and might go to Dubai for Christmas. wah. But, the experience of celebrating somewhere else might be good for them. Me, mother hen, wants them all here, but...

Evelyn has been texting me from school, shh. She doesn't have a phone, just an ipod, but the school has wifi, so has been asking me to please pick her up at 2 o'clock. Why? Because it's Wednesday. 1/2 off at the thrift store. And tomorrow we have a Halloween celebration, and then Friday it's trick or treat...she probably wants to look for costume stuff. Oh, yes, just what I want to do, head out and about when it's pouring rain, and the wind is supposed to be gusting at like 50 m.p.h. this afternoon. But I said I would pick her up. Because...well, just because.

So yesterday we went to pick out pumpkins at a farm down the road, which is where we bought our "new' minivan. There were cats and kittens running around, and the lady there was fine with the kids petting them...they wanted to bring one home, but sometimes I am a grown up and know enough to act like one, and we just came home with pumpkins and apples.

Roasted pumpkin seeds, yum! After they dried out in the oven, I tossed them in butter, salt, and pepper, and put them back in for a bit, and they are pretty good.

Dinner: corned beef, red potatoes, carrots, and onions. I love when I put dinner in the oven, smell it cooking all afternoon...just knowing that I have accomplished something, knowing what's for dinner instead of the 5 o'clock panic.

I picked pears from the tree in the yard, maybe tomorrow I'll bake some pear/apple pies for the party. The skins are blemished and thick, but the insides taste good, and are wonderful in pies.

As for now, we have to hit the books...I like to do a lot of schooling when it's a rainy day:)

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

doing what I like, liking what I do....

There is a huge difference, by the way. You can't always do what you like, but you can choose to like it anyway. As a mom with lots and lots of kids, I don't actually get to do what I really want to most of the time, but hey, that's real life. So I do the next best thing: I enjoy life.

It's a chilly morning here in central New York state, as my mother used to say, there's frost on the pumpkins. 29 degrees. Oh yeah, now I remember why I wanted to buy that heater for the living room last winter. The trees are still brilliant, and the pear tree is overflowing with fruit. I am thinking to make some pear pies again...they are too good. Rainy weather is moving in tomorrow, but today is going to be chilly and sunny. So, this afternoon we might take a little field trip down the road to buy some pumpkins.

Halloween is almost upon us, which I love. When we were growing up, way back in the 70's, dressing up and dragging a pillowcase door to door, trudging through the neighborhoods until we thought it was heavy enough...dumping the loot on the living room floor, trading. Those paper straws with the flavored sugar, Pixie Stix: my little brother and I always used to dump a few of those into a glass of water for our after-trick-or-treating beverage. When we were kids, we didn't get much candy for the most part, so this loot was important, we made it was sibling currency, too. Snicker bars were a hot commodity, and back then, most of them were the big bars.

One of my favorite parts about Halloween is simple: getting outside, walking around, and enjoying the night. Our weather can vary so much, we just hope it's not raining. Or snowing, which could happen too.

BTW, after a wonderful weekend in D.C. with Samuel, enjoying going out to dinner a few times, and a few slices of Dominoes pizza, my weight is back where it was before we left, yay. Now, one could argue that if I had really worked hard and stuck to plan better, I would be down a few more pounds, and yes, I agree. But it's hard to find high fat low carb options all the time, and sometimes it's nice to just say yes to the pizza. When you rarely eat something, it is so appreciated. And on Saturday night, we went to this Green Turtle restaurant. I had ribs, which came with fries, which I could have substituted...but we had walked all over creation, and skipped lunch...and I had behaved bigtime at breakfast, no Belgium waffles for I had the fries...they were made fresh from potatoes that still had the skin on them, and it would be fair to say that I scarfed them down. They didn't stand a chance, I cleaned my plate.

Anyhoo. It was a good weekend, and I am glad it balanced out, the extra exercise and the extra carbs:)

Yesterday, we did some school, then went outside. It was just too nice out to sit there doing work all day. I took a trip to the small city in the afternoon with Suzanne after she got off the school bus, to change the oil in the old minivan. We did it at Walmart, so poor us, we had to spend a half hour walking around waiting. Suzanne needed a new mirror for her room, and I bought some baking supplies. The auto guy said we really need new tires on the van, the existing ones are too awful to even rotate, it's always something. Anyway, we went to B.J's for coffee and coconut oil and I picked up a few Christmas presents and a birthday gift for month, she turns eight. I bought a package of burger, and when we got home, I quickly made up a huge batch of eight o'clock dinner doesn't hurt anyone once in a while.

I need to get up and get moving. The girls are giggling in their room, and Jonathan is flying his remote controlled helicopter. Time to be mean and hit the books:)

Monday, October 26, 2015

home from our travels again...what fun!

Mirielle and I with Miss Char and Miss Cam...we left on Friday...and picked up Mali and Lydia!

We surprised Sam! He has only met Lydia very briefly when she was tiny, back in August. Oh, the look on his face when he walked to the van and there was the car seat!

It was late when we got to the Army late that instead of going through the rigamarole (is that a real word?) of trying to get on base, we met him at the convenience store...and we were at the wrong convenience store...the one we were at was sketchy at best, and honestly, lots of shady characters were staring at us...but we were also staring at them...I felt like such a country girl. Anyhoo.

We got to our hotel in the wee hours of the morning, and had so much talking and visiting to do, plus with deciding who slept where and eating the pizza we had picked up at 1:20 was four when I closed my eyes. At eightish, Miss Lydia was all fed and fussing, so I took her and let Mali go back to sleep...oh, it was heavenly, I walked with her until she fell mostly asleep, then got into bed sitting up, with my back against the headboard, rocking her until she gave up and slept on my shoulder. There should be a name for that specific wondrous moment, when a baby falls alseep on the shoulder. The heaviness of the's amazing, and felt so familiar...I have probably experienced that particular joy a more than my fair share, but it was delicious.

Anyhow. I was tired, to say the least, but we made it down to gather up some breakfast before it ended, and brought it back to the room. Some of us then moseyed (is THAT a word?) down to the pool and the hot tub...ahh.

We visited Leesburg, Virginia....

Mirielle was in a coffee shop when I took this...the weekend flew by without us getting a pic of all of us. dang. This is Sam, of course, and Mali, of course, and the little girls.

Samuel was pretty glad to see baby Lydia.

And Mirielle loves Lydia too.

Anyhow. I love these random sibling groups who bond in different ways on these little weekends. Mirielle is the fourth "child", Mali the 7th, Samuel the 8th, and of course the princesses are the 15th and 16th.

Sam got Slushies for the little girls.

Here's a funny story. We walked around in Leesburg, Virginia, admiring the lovely houses, so old and brick and stately. We meandered around a cemetery, and browsed an antique store. We decided to tour a stately old mansion/house that belonged to a distinguished WWII officer, George C. Marshall. Well. It was a lovely house, but the tours were guided, and we found ourselves sitting in a room upstairs watching a twenty minute film. I felt myself getting what I call, "The Funeral Giggles", my inappropriate laughter. Whenever it's a serious situation and bursting out laughing would be totally wrong, I feel it bubbling up. I couldn't even look at Sam...because the Tour Lady was stopping the movie every few minutes and asking us questions like we were in school, quizzing us...and if you know anything about Sam, it's that he's absolutely brilliant about history, especially WWII. He answered a few questions, but didn't want to let on how much he knew, because for him, it was rather boring...and for the rest of us, snore.

Anyway. I felt like we had fallen into the rabbit hole. The house was fascinating, but the Tour Lady just droned. And she was so nice! And totally and completely excited about George's life! She was almost jumping up and down about how he met his first wife, and how he brought home this particular dresser from China...Mali was trying to keep Lydia happy, and the little girls looked like they were going to cry. We kept looking at each was seriously so slow, but the lady was so nice...and did I mention that we got in free instead of paying $10 each, military discount? So we didn't want to be rude. Then Sam, the rascal...he got a phone call. Said it was important, politely excused himself that he had to take it...came back in and said he had to leave, get back to base, right now. I was a bit alarmed, but thought I saw a tiny bit of a smirk in his eyes. Yeah, he made it up.

We excused ourselves with apologies, and Tour Lady, who was impressed with Sam, and that he is in the Old Guard, told us to make sure we come back some time to finish the tour! We thanked her profusely, and left without hurting her feelings, and fled to the van.

Those of us who had believed that Sam had to return to the base were relieved that he really didn't have to.

Now, I don't abide lying, but. He spared her feelings and got us out of there. Tour Guide lady couldn't have fathomed anyone being less than enthralled with George, and sorry, but our attention spans were maxed out.

Saying goodbye to Sam is never fun. But we left him on base, after going out for Mexican food for lunch, and started our long trip home....yeah, we got lost. We stopped for gas in Virginia, and fell down another rabbit hole. We could not find a gas station. We found ourselves in the hugest, richest, fanciest new housing development I have ever seen. It was Wisteria Lane on steroids. Blocks and blocks of HUGE fancy brand new houses, even the shops and grocery stores were new and build in spiffy non-store construction. There were paved walkways every where, and all the kids on bikes had helmets. The were pushing expensive strollers, and all the cars were nice ones. We spied a gas station and it wasn't open yet, so we drove around, of course using our phones to direct us to another one, but...that place was beyond extravagant, and we were pretty amazed. What do these people do for a living?

Anyway. We got home at close to 2:00 a.m. this morning, so wah, I am tired today.

But it was worth it.

Friday, October 23, 2015

oh yeah friday....

I won the Best Leave Contest, but then I was the only entrant.

My three little homeschoolers and four cousins. The older kids who go to Real School had a half day, and are home now too. So it's busy here. Some are playing dollhouse, some coloring, some reading, and a few girls are on their ipods. Some of us are leaving in a few hours to go visit Samuel...btw, he texted me a bit ago and said he was doing some sort of ceremony with Obama today. Did you know that he is in Echo Company, which is the official Honor Guard of the president? And yet he's just little Sammers. And yes, I did bake a triple batch of chocolate chip cookies yesterday, and have a container of them already packed in the van:)'s busy here, and there's no time for blogging.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

a new day....

I eat low carb, high fat...all day every day. But once in a while, I need to carb up. Because my son Joseph told me I should. And because I read a lot of stuff, and determined it wouldn't hurt me. Now, carbing up should be low fat and healthy carbs, like some white rice or sweet potatoes. But heck, I eat cleanly day in day out, so last evening...we had a movie night. The little girls were going to Emily's for a sleepover after activity club, and Jon was at a.c., so I was home with just Kathryn 17, Evelyn 16, Suzanne 14, and Sonja K. 13. We watched, "21 Jump Street", again, which is funny but oh so crude. Why do they have to dirty up those movies? I made popcorn...the kind in the pan, like my mother used to make, only I use coconut oil, and drizzle it with lots of butter. So yeah, I ate popcorn, and then...I ate candy. Two small Almond Joys, two Reese's Peanutbutter cups, and a KitKat. Small Halloween sized, but still. I don't eat sugar anymore. No cookies or ice cream or even bread or grains. So they were so sweet, but so good. But here's the interesting part: I felt AWFUL. Sugar rush, skipping heart, hot flashes, tummy ache. How one earth did I survive all those years eating things like that so indiscriminately?

Anyhow. I am still alive this morning, and the scale is actually down a pound. Now I know some people are opposed to scales, but I feel I need to keep track of what effects me. I also know I have a tendency for my mood for the day to be influenced by that number on the scale. But. I have decided once and for all that if I don't like the number, it isn't the end of the world, I will never ever give up eating healthily, learning more about nutrition, and trying to lose this extra weight. I just won't. I feel too good.

Tomorrow, Washington D.C.! I am so proud of Samuel, Mr. Old Guard. We'll be getting there quite late, and the hotel pool will probably be closed, but hopefully we can get in there in the morning before we go out and about. I hope the hotel has more than those yummy waffles that I don't eat, for the breakfast. I will be packing stuff just in case, but it's nice when there are at least eggs.

Charlotte Clare and Camille are SO excited to go. Their favorite part of trips is talking about it and packing their stuff. They like to count the McDonalds we pass, and spy out different license plates.

Joseph is making himself some blended with coconut oil. We have been drinking pumpkin spice coffee, and it's so good. It smells like autumn.

The only good thing about when your husband is in France? Sprawling out on the whole bed and reading a good book right into the night. Having to get up in the morning isn't fun, but oh how I love reading into the night once in a while.

Paul comes home from France on Saturday, and I won't be here to greet him at the airport, Emily is picking him up. I won't get home until late Sunday.

Well, it's quiet here with the little girls at Em's house, but Jon is here and Davian is coming over soon. Jonathan and I have some grammar pages to go over, and lots of things to talk about...he has been reading the latest, "National Geographic" while I type, so we have been talking about nuclear power and other important things...

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

what did I do to deserve this!?

Camille and I....

The three youngest...Camille 7, Miss Charlotte Claire 9, and Jonathan, 11.

The older kids all went to a youth meeting last night, so we decided to go out and about and use the pizza coupons for homeschooling. They get a free pan pizza each month for reading lots of books:) I ordered two large pizzas in addition for when the older kids got home. I just had some chicken wings, which were not that good. Don't order the wings from Pizza Hut.

But need I say this? We had fun. We colored our placemats and played tic-tac-toe. Walmart! Suzanne started painting her room several weeks ago, and ran out of paint, which is no surprise. It's a huge room, plus it was painted a rich dark brown, which believe me, I did not choose. The new color is a greyish blue, and much brighter, but even though it's the good stuff, a gallon didn't go very far. So two more gallons of paint, a new pocketknife and a coconut for Jonny, and a new stroller for my little granddaughter Lydia...

Oh what torture for me to choose which one to get! She has a heavy stroller that takes up all her trunk room, so I have been looking for a small one...this one folds up like an umbrella stroller, but the seat comes off and can face either way, and it seems higher up than other strollers. The kids were so excited about picking it out, and that I actually bought it. They couldn't wait to get home and take it out of the box. Now we just need Lydia to come over to try it out!

Jonathan is off spending the night with Emily, as Em is babysitting this morning for some friends of ours who also homeschool. He brought his school work with him:)

Emily and I are planning our trip to Norway for March, for a sisters' conference. We would like to leave a few days early and visit London. I have ALWAYS wanted to go to England, and just the thought of it makes me jump up and down inside. If I COULD jump in real life, I would. Anyway. And in Norway, I would see Margaret and Abigail!

Davian is here, and Char is playing with the small dollhouse stuff with him. They are living on an island, and Davian thinks it should be in Jackson, Mississipi, or in Florida with alligators, or maybe in the Bahamas. He is three years they are checking the world map to figure out the best place for their island.

My life. Not always a bed of roses, but so amazingly excellent. I am thankful!

Kathryn is making breakfast, and my quiet time of the morning is over...

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

getting a really really long turn...

And I never even waited in line. Yeah, I am getting a super long turn at being Mommy. Some people have a few kids, so maybe ten or twelve years of interacting closely with children, followed by the brief preteen years when you think that maybe they will be easy teenagers, or perhaps, "What the H are we gonna do?!" Then they deal with the bickering for a few years, which differs from the childhood stuff, especially with girls. Looking at your sister wrong can cause stomping and/or slamming. Anyhoo...

I am getting a super long turn at this. Emily is 30 now, born when I was just 19. So for all these years it's been like a twisty turny ride...and is it awful to say that I have wondered at times when it would end? You know, it looks fun when you're in line, then you wonder if you're crazy, then the next thing you know you're strapped in and there's no turning back...some of those rides are horrific, they can't end soon enough for me. My life as Mommy has not been horrific, but there are those sudden twists and nauseating curves that make me hold on for dear life.

Yesterday, for example, was a good day. We did our school work in the sunny kitchen, each child working diligently without complaint, understanding all their work without stubbornly putting their heads down on their books complaining that it was TOO HARD. ha. Homeschooling bliss here. I decided to make things more fun by using Jon's light saber to point out places of interest on the U.S. map, which graces our dining area wall, and looks like a million bucks, ha. Davian, who is three, knows his geography, and lights up the whole room with his enthusiasm when we start looking at maps.

I made them some eggs and bacon and toast, then it was time for homeschool gym class, the pool! We did a lot of racing, making sure the kids (and I) got in lots of exercise, not just splashing fun. Kathryn, 17, my homeschooling senior, worked out in the gym, then met us in the locker room for showers. She told me how excellent her workout was...then I headed into the bathroom, and....there was commotion, I heard yelling, I heard someone saying, "mom" really desperately and quietly and I thought I imagined it...Kap had fainted in the shower, fallen and hit her head. Two nice ladies were attending to her, were so kind and concerned...they summoned the front desk lady who brought a cold water bottle and a granola bar...Kap was pale and shaky, but after eating a few bites of the bar, started feeling better. She had been up since the wee hours, and had eaten an apple...I think her sugar levels just dropped in the hot shower.

Never a dull moment, that's what I always say.

Home. Ah, home. Kids were so hungry after their swim, I suggested that we play restaurant. Jon and I were the cooks/waiters, and Camille sort of was too, although she was a customer with Davian and Char. They set the Little Tikes table all nicely, in the living room over where the toy kitchen stuff is. They had tomato soup and grilled cheese, apple slices with cinnamon and sugar, and powerade in glasses with ice. Then they played with this collection of really small dollhouse stuff that we keep put away from small children...they played for SO LONG. Jonathan then took Davian out back on an "exploration". I made a batch of banana bread so as not to waste the ones that didn't get eaten, then started on the four pizzas for dinner...I ended up giving a pizza to Sonja, one to Char, and one to Cam, and asking them to make them...pepperoni and black olives, red and green peppers, sauce and cheese, and melted butter with garlic in it for the edges of the crust. For me, a pan of roasted cauliflower, topped after roasting with cheese and pepperoni, and some peppers. the grocery store, after Davian went home. Kathryn, Sonja K., and Camille came along. We needed more bananas, ha, milk and bread and cinnamon and eggs and cheese...we also got grapes and chicken and pork chops and more pumpkin spice coffee, half and half, and popcorn.

We stopped at Tim Horten's on the way home for a treat, they got frozen hot chocolates, and I had an iced coffee with sugar free pumpkin spice.

Home...ah, home. We put it all away....and bedtime!

I will spare the details of how I let the dogs out before bed and Suri didn't come back in so I forgot and went to bed and must have been barking intermittently for a long time, then finally Duke took up the cause, and started in on barking non stop...3 a.m,, Paul in France, me thinking we have an intruder...when I tiptoed down the hallway, armed with my dangerous phone, I saw only Duke and remembered Suri was outside. I was sorry to her, and she forgave me, she wanted to stay up for a long time and be friends, but I needed sleep.

Anyhow. Most of the time this parenthood ride is amazing,and I want it to slow down and never end.

This morning, I went to throw a load of lights in the washer, and ugh, there were clothes in there. I opened the dryer, and yeah, clothes in there. Since I am nice, I didn't just throw the clean clothes on the couch for the dogs to sleep on, I folded them nicely and thought fondly back to last week when the older kids were in Israel and I had the washer and dryer to myself the whole time. I noticed all the good detergent was gone, and I thought of days gone past when Samuel was still at home, and I would say something to them, "them" being the teenagers, about using too much detergent or leaving clothes in the dryer, and he would say, "I guess Mom hates us all."

Davian is here now, and we have school to do on this dark and rainy and cozy morning.

Monday, October 19, 2015

learning new things....

I am just plain thankful this morning, thankful that God hasn't given up on me. It's a new day, a new week, and I have decided to be thankful for life.

Here are some news snippets, random as per usual:

1. I baked chocolate chip cookies yesterday, and usually pack them in an airtight container as they cool, leaving some on a plate for them to eat...well, they were left out last night, and...some bad dog ate all but three cookies. She must have been just too full for those last three. She knew she was bad, because when I held up the empty parchment paper and put it near her, her eyes were HUGE. I told her NO. She followed me around with her stuffed dog until I forgave her and played with her.

2. Slowly but surely, I am learning to bite my tongue, think before I speak (is what I have to say helpful, is it nice, is it self-righteous and arrogant?)

3. Homeschooling: it's a life of constant adjustments. What works for one child doesn't work for another. And as usual, patience is the first ingredient for the solution of every difficulty.

4. My mother-in-law is back in Florida, and we are planning a trip to visit her this winter. The kids are beyond excited about this, and keep bugging me to get on with the planning. I am going to miss stopping in to see her, as her summer home is only ten minutes from here.

5. Mirielle was here yesterday. I love when the older kids come to visit. She brought clothes from her closet for the girls to borrow, and also helped Evelyn order some new boots. I am not sick of hearing about the Israel trip yet, either.

6. We had other company yesterday sister-in-law and her two youngest came over, two of her teens were already here having an overnight with my girls. Another friend was here too. We had pork chops for dinner...with baked apples/pears-from-the-front-yard-tree, baked with cinnamon and too much sugar.

7. We are going to the pool today. It gets harder to get our exercise when the cold weather sets in...Jon said it was 29 degrees when he got up this morning. (-1.6c)

8. Warmer weather is returning this week, here in central New York state we get all sorts of fluctuations in weather. The leaves are amazing this year, the colors so vivid it almost hurts the eyes. The next phase of autumn is almost creepy...the leaves crisping up and blowing away, leaving the trees bare...desolate...dismal forebodings...the long shadows, the wind... And just knowing that winter is coming...with the icy roads and white-out driving conditions...

9. Pumpkin spice coffee! I love it! I also have pumpkin spice syrup (thank you Cheryl, and also I love the pumpkin candle! We lit it the other night when we were chilled to the bone after the soccer tournament)...

10. There is a pumpkin cheesecake in the refrigerator too. No crust, simply some butter with a little bit of coconut flour. There is very little sweetener in it, just about a third cup of honey for the whole thing, and a few packets of stevia.

11. It's chilly in here, my coffee got cold.

12. Paul is in France. I will be in Washington D.C. when he gets home this weekend, so Emily is picking him up from the airport.

13. Visiting Samuel this weekend: I. Can't. Wait. Charlotte Claire and Camille are coming too...

14. Ah are up, school must begin!

15. And...weight-loss: I have decided to have a positive attitude about this no matter what. The scale has been kind to me lately, then, not so kind. But I am not going to let a few ounces, or ugh, a few pounds get me down. I am 50 years old, and feel better than I have since high school. My sugar cravings are basically under control, and I have enough energy, ha, usually. I am working on moving more, fitting in those push-ups and stretches, getting to the pool, taking the walks...I have lost 17-18 pounds in five months. That is rather pathetic, but. I am not giving up. My body is smart, and I have to outsmart it. It likes all the chubby-jiggles. It wants to keep the muffin top and the thunder thighs. Since I started this journey four years ago, I have lost 67 pounds, as of right now. That's the official number, although I had already lost 11 pounds before I started, and honestly, I am a hundred down from my highest weight, but I was pregnant with Camille then, and a lot of it was water weight. I have at least 50 pounds to go. 60 would be divine. Anyhow. It's a constant learning process for me, and it's a good fight. I don't want diabetes, I want to be able to knees are bad, and I am thinking replacement knees when I lose a bit more weight...the thought of walking without them aching, of going up steps without pain...ahh.

Saturday, October 17, 2015


Evelyn and I...who wore it better?

It's 42 degrees out. 5.5 c. We spend the day outside, and really, brr. It snowed for a bit, then the sun came back out. We were spared the rain we expected, which was nice...for the soccer tournament was cold enough, the fields muddy already.
Jon played...
I wish I had a better picture of him. This tournament if for boys and girls aged 11 to 16. Jonathan is 11. He felt yucky after the first two games played back to back, drank some water, threw up, felt better, and played two more games. They won one game.

Sonja played's her cousin Grace, friend Irene, and her...with hot chocolate:)

I had to leave the tournament for a bit to bring Paul to the airport...I stopped for hot coffee, pumpkin spice for Evelyn...I wanted pumpkin spice too, but it's too sugary for me:( I brought some hot chocolates too...for some of the other kids.

We are home now, snuggled under blankets, with the space heater on. We got pizza (not me...I had cauliflower cooked in butter and hot sauce, with a few slices of pepperoni, and three hot Buffalo chicken wings.)

Okay...happenings with the kids:

1. Emily: She stopped to watch some soccer on her way to work today. I don't see her enough. She had an excellent time in Israel...

I was going to write about each of the kids, but Char and Cam are wanting to talk to me...they watched, "Ponyo", and now want Mama:)

The kids are doing well....Sam called me to day, and said, "Mom.". In that voice. You know, the one that makes a hundred horrid scenarios run through Mom's mind in like two seconds. Then when he told me what the deal was, I was like, "phew, nadda problem." He was rear-ended, and Abigail, if you are reading this, sorry to be the one to break it to you...Sam is using Abigail's car for the year she is in Norway. The back bumper came off. It was a harsh crash, but no one was hurt, and the other driver was ticketed.

Margaret is in Norway too, and is going to try to come home for Christmas. yay! has been challenging to write this, as the activity level in the house this afternoon...the kitty wanted to dance on my keyboard, Suri keeps putting her head on my lap which means, "feed me". I ask her if she's hungry, and her whole cute face changes, she smiles and her ears go forward, her whole face says, "yes, hungry!"

Suri and Camille stole my chair today:

And lest I ramble anymore, goodbye.

Friday, October 16, 2015

where does the time go?

Is it just me, or do other parents look at pictures of their kids when they were little, and cry? I cry because the time flew by, I cry because I hope I was as good to them as I possibly could have been, I cry because I didn't realize how fast it would all zip by.

Did I appreciate their soft little faces...the ones that now have their own wrinkles of time? Did I listen to their stories, appreciate their coloring projects?

I know I herded them through showers, one after another. I washed their faces and brushed their teeth and got out the rows of clothes for the day, hurrying here and there and hopefully...not forgetting to appreciate the moments. I listened to their nightly prayers, often tapping my feet in impatience as I had a baby waiting for me, or maybe I was just hoping to get them all in bed so I could have five minutes of peace and quiet.

If I could do it all over again, I would care less about the house and the mess. I wish I could go back in time and hug those innocent little children in those pictures. Because they grow up, and Mom isn't so cool anymore, and hugs are more awkward.

Why the sentimentality today? I don't know. I have four young children here who are waiting to go to the library, and life is good. Yesterday we went to the pool...tomorrow is a church soccer tournament, Sonja and Jonathan are playing. Tonight there is a Dome basketball event, but I am not working, I am watching the twins and their big brother William (I miss them)...tomorrow Paul leaves for France for a week...then next weekend, I am going to Washington D.C. with Mirielle to visit Samuel!

Anyhow, these kids are ready to leave, waiting for me...

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

dark rainy morning...and some peace and quiet....

Yesterday afternoon, it wasn't raining. Joseph came in from outside while I was making dinner and remarked on the beauty of the I did what every good mom would do, I put down my knife and put on my sneakers. I sent out the invite to go for a walk, and got three takers....


Miss Char...

And Miss Cam...

We collected pretty leaves, and I talked them out of "stealing" some corn from the field...I know, the farmer won't miss two stalks, or just a few ears that we can use to decorate with, but still: it's not ours, and we can't just take it.

I also baked some cookies yesterday...

I didn't have any:), and I also miss Samuel so much every time I make cookies. He would just fill a glass with milk and enjoy those cookies like there's no tomorrow. Not that the rest of the kids don't like them, but no one enjoys the cookies like Sam.

So...yesterday was the big day, the Get-Our-Van-Day. It's all paid for (well, we still owe the BANK, but the deal has gone through with the previous owner, and all that was left for me to do was insure it, register it, pay the sales tax, and get the new license plates. ha. To the Department of Motor Vehicles we went. Now, we live in a rural county, the main city is small and friendly, and easily navigated. The DMV isn't too bad, the workers there are actually quite nice. But. We were sent our merry way because I needed Paul's driver's license and his signature on another form. No, his passport wasn't enough I.D., it was only 4 points, and they need 6 points. So...we drove to his work, he signed the form, and gave me his license. Back downtown, parallel park, feed the meter, get out of the van with four kids (the three youngest and Davian), and go back into the DMV. Well. A different clerk this time, who tells me I need the seller's signature on this form, which Paul has signed in the wrong place.

Whatever. I took the kids to Wegman's and let them pick out a slice of pizza and get soda from that neat machine that lets you choose from a zillion different flavors. (I did need avocados and bananas and kale and milk and coffee). We had fun in there, I got them their free cookie from the bakery, and we tried to make the best of it...Jon was railing about rules and regulations and the stupid state...but I asked him if maybe he thought that this was a good example of God knowing just what we's easy to be thankful when the feet are up and the coffee is hot.

I felt we had run around enough, and the kids needed to be outside playing a bit. Plus, we had school to do! We sometimes do evening stuff, last night we had spelling tests.

So today, I am going to stop and get a signature from the previous owner of the van, then go to DMV for hopefully the last time for this particular purchase, and then pick up the van...the kids are so excited about it because it has power everything and heated seats and they want to see if it has a dvd player in it. It's not a new van, but it's new to us, and it IS rather fun. For the most part, ha.

But for now, it's quiet. Joseph is up, Jonathan is up, but the princesses are still sleeping. I am having that first cup of coffee, and yeah, my feet are up. I have already fed the cats and dogs and swept up the floors, and gotten out morning work for the kids.

I am hoping to sneak in a weekend in Washington, D.C. soon, to visit my Army son Sam. I miss him. A few of the older girls are planning a trip, and I am trying to get in on it with the three youngest:)

Mali's little Lydia is adorable! I love love love being Grandma!

Lydia Eleanor...such a sweetie pie.

Evelyn and Suzanne missed lots of school for Israel, and they have tons of work to make up. They have to make up gym class, which is totally ridiculous. They hiked and walked and walked and swam and hiked and trained with the Israeli Army, for goodness sake! I told them to just show their gym teachers some pictures...

Ah well. Real life things need to be done, the dryer has beeped, the library books are due, and there is so much that needs cleaning and organizing. There is school work and and and. Sitting here is such a nice reprieve:)

Monday, October 12, 2015

a different kind of quiet....

These guys are back home! (Except for Margaret and Abigail, who flew on back to Norway) In pic, Joseph, Suzanne, Kathryn, Margaret, Mirielle, Evelyn, Abigail, and Emily.

And, these guys are back home with their mama and papa.

So it's a different kind of quiet. No pitter patter of little feet in the early morning, no breakfast requests or morning jammy snuggles. My own kids are all still sleeping, and the sweet twins and their big brother Will (he was here on the weekends, stayed with my sister, his Grammy, during the week so he could go to school).

My own kids aren't quiet. But they get their own cereal, and don't fuss about which cup their milk is in. ha. Their noise is in a different form, those teenage quarrels and opinions and suggestions and yeah, they come in and take over the house. Having only little ones is busy, but it has been a different kind of busy...almost soothing in it's predictable-ness, compared to dealing with teenagers. And the cuddles! Oh dear, I have had more hugs and snuggles in the last few weeks! Dealing with little children that aren't my own is interesting. I couldn't let them run circles around me...I mean, yeah, we ALL want cookies right after breakfast. It WAS a good idea to bring all the teddy bears outside, but sorry, I know I would be the one dragging their soggy butts back in the house tomorrow when we realized they were still out there. And it is cuddly to eat popsicles on the couch, but...nah. And honey sweety pie, I don't care if he DID have that booster seat last time, and you REALLY want a turn, this booster seat is just as nice. Twins, they are interesting. These little things they compete first I tried to be fair, then I realized they didn't care about fairness, they just wanted what they wanted when they wanted it, especially if their sibling wanted it. :)

These little ones came here to my house so trustingly, so sweetly, and they did have fun! I absolutely love they way they appreciate the little stuff. I would find a really red maple leaf, and they would jump up and down and start running around the yard looking for more. They loved going morning I had to pick Paul up from the airport, and wanted to make it a little bit special for them, so we all went into the Dunkin Donuts and I let them all pick out what donut they wanted, Davian was with us that day too. They took a few minutes to decide, and the clerk was so patient with them...

Anyhow, I miss them already, but we have plans for the future...I sang them the song, "On Top Of Spaghetti", and told them how Camille used to cry her eyes out when she was little because it was so sad. Sebastian would ask me over and over again, to "sing that sad song to me". So we are going to have a meatball party at my house some night and sing that song.

Just being silly and breaking out in, "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star", and having little voices join eye-rolling...ha, it was fun.

Charlotte Claire and Camille loved having little ones here too. They liked tucking them in at night and for naps. They liked pushing them on the swings and helping them set up doll houses and forts. It made me realize that my kids are getting so big.

Story time.

Our trip to Target...Sebastian and Linnea with Char and Cam. I let them choose a plastic pumpkin right as we walked in, and they were pretty happy. But when we approached the toy department, just to look, I told them...Linnea said she didn't WANT the pumpkin. I knew what she was getting at. I reminded her that we were just looking, and she told me that her mama let her get toys. Can you see how I just drowned in cuteness? And half way through the store, I pretended I hadn't heard them ask for popcorn, and suggested, "How about we get popcorn and slushies?!" Just to hear them shout, "Yay!" Then there was the broken cup...I found these nice cups with straws, and let Sebastian choose one...there was only one little girls' cup, with princesses...Linnea was delighted...until it slipped out of her hand and fell, and yeah, it broke. She was so upset, I picked up another cup, not as nifty, but it had Anna and Elsa on it...and she was okay with it. But she kept telling me, "It makes me sad.", and I told her it just happens sometimes, and it IS sad. That child...the way she wrapped herself around my heart.

Camille, Char, Linnea, William, and Sebastian...we stopped at a one-room school house that William is fascinated with, he read a story about it in school and enjoyed the spur of the moment visit, even though it was closed and we only looked in the windows.

My teenagers are waking up, they have laundry to do...I did enjoy being the sole user of the washer and dryer for the last few weeks...ah well. Back to real life.