summer 2011

summer 2011

Paul and I, all 16 kids and Ashley, Benjamin's wife...Christmas 2012

Paul and I, all 16 kids and Ashley, Benjamin's wife...Christmas 2012

Sunday, November 29, 2015

chiseling out some quiet time...

No matter what, Camille loves me.:)

Miss Lydia came to visit us last evening...Kathryn and Sonja enjoyed her immensely...Suzanne and the little girls did too. And of course Grammy here was in heaven.

What is this? Well, this is Evelyn Joy having fun with her favorite friend, Miss Suri.

This is from our walk along the canal the other day...Paul with Suri, the girls on their bikes...

Today is a relatively blank slate. We are out of dog food, oops, the pups had small servings supplemented with a few dog biscuits this fine morning. I have ideas for gifts and crafts and need a few supplies. The older girls have things they need to be at this afternoon, choir practice and party planning committees, ect., and need rides. The younger girls might go wreath selling with some of the girls, but that isn't for certain yet. So as per usual, Mom can't just wake up and decide what to do with her day:)

Time is flying too fast. Christmas seemed so far away for so long, and the stores were decorating and advertising way too early. Now it seems like the autumn just sped by and all of the sudden, it's Christmas. This wouldn't be a problem for those who plan ahead, but for people like me, with a million good ideas swirling around in my head, and not enough time to do them all, blah. This Saturday we have a table at a craft bazaar, and do I have one single thing completed? Oh, I have ideas and plans!

But as for right now...right this moment, life is good. Suri is snoring on the couch, Char is watching something on her tablet, Paul is out hunting, and the other kids are still all in bed. I took inventory of my gift closet this morning and it was dismal. I came out here to get my Christmas list out first, and of course the dogs acted like they hadn't seem my in a week, and I had to take them outside, then feed them, and lo and behold one of them had thrown up on the living room floor, and nah, I simply couldn't just skip down into my room with the Christmas list and leave that there. Dang. And of course I wonder if it was Duke, who has been so limpy and hobbly lately. He had better not go and die on us right before Christmas.

Last evening, I ordered pizza for the kids from the place in town. It's yummy stuff. I was tired from working my shift at the football game, and didn't make an alternate meal for I cut a thin strip of a piece, which was added to by another thin strip...until I had probably half a slice...and they are huge slices. Oh well. Real life happens. Miss Lydia was here, and we were enjoying her, I had been on my feet, didn't feel like making healthy food. Oh yes, I have the whole plethora of excuses.

Eating white flour, sugar, and simple carbs gives me heartburn, and headaches. But that knowledge seems far off when that cardboard box is opened and the aroma of pepperoni and of that amazing crust wafts out...

Today is another day. I will be smarter today. :)

Saturday, November 28, 2015

teenagers, Christmas, and poor me syndrome, and travel plans

Suzanne took this pic on Thanksgiving...the day we didn't have our celebration, the glorious day we went to the park. It wasn't just the beautiful weather, it was my beautiful girls. They were all on board, and if you have ever had a teenage daughter, you know what I mean. When one girl has the attitude, it can taint the whole day. We had the park to ourselves, and it felt good to be silly and run around and swing as high as we could go. This is how little kids feel all the time, impervious to what others think...

Evelyn and I did venture out to do a little bit of Black Friday shopping on Thursday evening, since we had our turkey dinner on Wednesday this year. Walmart was madness, and people were annoyed and frustrated, but there were a few cheerful faces. We got the one thing we went in there for, and three extra things on the way out the door. We had some good laughs at about a lady in the parking lot cursing the drivers and saying how They Ain't Got No Business Tryin' To Run Us Over When All We Want Is To Get Us Some Deals. Proud to be an American.

So yesterday I didn't go shopping, for the first time in Black Friday history. Paul and I went to the canal with the two little girls and their bikes, and Suri. Suri was so good...she got to off-leash it for most of the time...she doesn't go too far, then she turns and trots back to us, she kept between the girls ahead, and us. We walked over two miles.

At home, it was time to decorate for Christmas. Joseph and Jonathan took a trip to Washington D.C. to be with Samuel this weekend, along with some of their friends. Some of the girls went someplace with Emily, so it was only the two little girls, Sonja, and me left to pack away the autumn stuff and get out some Christmas stuff. Camille and Char were really in to it. They put lights up in the kitchen all by themselves, then got pretty princess dresses on, turned out all the regular lights, and danced to Christmas music in the lovely light of those twinkling little Christmas bulbs. I got out my phone to take some pics, and Char hid, so I told her just to dance and I would put it away. :)

This morning, we have our last college football game to work, then we're picking Lydia up. Mali works nights now at the hospital, 7 to 7. She runs on fumes, but we are happy when we get to watch Lydia.'s a story...the electricity in our living room stopped working several months ago, except for a few outlets. So we ran electrical cords to a few lamps in the evenings, then I picked up the cords and rolled them up in the mornings. We had asked a friend to come fix it for us, and he didn't get to we asked again, and he would get to it, yes. Months went by. I thought it would be like that forever. I know, I know, we should have just called an electrician, but anyway. The story...I was talking to my oldest son Ben the other day, and he was incredulous that we were not getting it fixed. He is in an apprenticeship for HVAC (heating, ventilation, air condition repair/installation). He said it was probably a simple fix, and that for my Christmas present, he was calling an electrician. He did. The guy called us yesterday, was in the area, and came over to take a look. Long story short, it was a simple fix. And now it's fixed. The guy was super nice, and was floored when he asked if all the kids milling around were ours and I pointed to a family picture. He was simply floored. He genuinely liked the kids here, talked to them, told them to be nice to their mother.

Now our house was clean, we just had thanksgiving, and we had cleaned. But our getting a bit run down. There are things that need the big spot of where the hallway gate had been...where the paint rubbed off...and we never did put the molding down in the living room along the bottom of the walls, after getting new 6 years ago. And then there's the kitchen window with no trim around it, the one Paul replaced himself. And so on. It's not a mansion, but it's our home, and it's mostly clean. But.

Ben had made arrangements with the electrician to send him the bill, because it was my Christmas gift. But Ben texted me and had me guess how much the guy charged. Nothing. Not a penny. He told Ben that once in a while he likes to bless people, and our family "seemed like we needed it". I didn't know whether to laugh or to cry. But I decided to just be thankful, and not take it as an insult:)

And the travel plans: Emily and I are taking the two youngest girls of the Norway in March! Suzanne 14 and Sonja 13!!! We bought the plane tickets!!! We are going to a sisters conference, and to visit Abigail and Margaret! And, we have an 8 hour layover in London on the way home and are hoping to see the city. Sonja Kathleen is ecstatic, she has to get a passport!!!! She is going on a plane! Sonja is the youngest of those five girls in a row, and she is the sunshine of the group. She is loud and silly and funny and she appreciates things. She's called, "Ginger", but she insists her hair isn't red, just a little orange-y. Suzanne just went to Israel,so she is a seasoned traveler. But she's never been to Norway, and is quite excited. She's more quiet and reserved, but when she does get chatty and animated, it makes you feel good. And to make her all happy about something is so worth it.

Anyway. Life is good.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

happy thanksgiving!!!

We had our dinner yesterday, so today...we went to the park when Paul went out hunting. Here are the seven youngest...:)

A visit to Robert's grave was a sad little detour in our fun little outing. (Robert was stillborn back in 2003). Paul's dad's grave is there too, and we shared some memories of him.

Sweet baby Lydia.

Aaron and Kathryn...

So we had our dinner yesterday...and today enjoyed the gloriously day at the park. We packed travel mugs of hot tea and cocoa, and some turkey...but the wind was brisk, and we agreed to head home to eat after swinging and playing on the playground.

Redbox for a movie (BigHero6), and a lunch of turkey in gravy over potatoes and squash and green beans...the seven kids are all watching while I sit here on my computer. (Joseph is in his room).

Anyway...the movie is good, rather distracting, and I want to connect more with these's fun to all be watching the same thing. It doesn't seem like Thanksgiving, but it's a good day. :)

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

pie...and more pie...

Today is Thanksgiving for our family. We are celebrating a day early because Emily can make it, and Aaron, and Mali. Poor Mirielle though, she is working every day until Saturday. Nurses have the worst schedules because patients in hospitals still need care on holidays.

So the turkey is going in the oven soon, and the onions and celery need to be cut for the stuffing, the potatoes peeled and the squash prepared. There is still cleaning to be done, too. I spent yesterday making pies. Blueberry, Key lime, chocolate, pumpkin, and a keto pumpkin cheesecake....for me. (less than a half cup of honey to sweeten the whole thing, cream cheese, just butter and a little coconut flour for a crust...)

Emily is coming over early to help, and I am really excited for today. Benjamin won't be here from Washington state, Samuel won't be here from Washington D.C., and Abigail and Margaret won't make it from Norway. And then Mirielle will be working. But the rest will be here, plus a few friends, making 16 at the table.

Maybe some pictures later:)

Monday, November 23, 2015

hello, winter!

I hurried the kids out the play in it, of course! It's going to be sunny and warm (55F, 12C) by Thursday, and this snow will be just a memory. It's well below freezing right now, but even today it will warm up to the middle thirties, and the melting will begin. It's seriously like a winter wonderland right now though....

And last night, Miss Lydia came to visit!
Here's my baby Camille with Mali's baby Lydia...and me, Grammy:)

The heater is humming, and the house is filled with that special lighting that only a snow filled yard can provide. It feels like Christmas, and makes me want to do Christmas-y things, instead of attacking the sink full of dishes. I need to make a turkey dinner list because we are having our Thanksgiving celebration on Wednesday. I should be baking pies today, but I'll do it tomorrow. I am leaving everything 'til tomorrow, ha.

Emily and I were looking up tickets to fly to Norway in March for a sisters' conference at church. I know, ha, Norway in March. We had wanted to go to England first, but it's too pricey, plus we want to figure out if we can take a few of my other girls, but shh, I don't want them to know about it until I figure out if we can manage it. Traveling with Em is always an adventure. She's good at navigating, but also very chill if things don't go according to plan.

Samuel is back in Washington D.C. after a week of training at Fort Benning in Georgia at a leadership/squad leader training thing. I am very proud of Sam:)

And let's see...if you read this blog and think my life is just are partly right. Because I firmly believe that God causes all things to work together for the good for those who love Him. But that doesn't mean there isn't a suffering involved. During the 8 years I have written this blog, things have happened in my life that I have losing baby Robert, and a few miscarriages...the loss of my brother's suicide... and things that I haven't been able to share because those stories are not MY stories to tell....a few of my kids have gone through hard times...SERIOUSLY hard times. There have been times that I have known the sun was behind the clouds, but it didn't feel like it.

When I choose not to share certain things, it isn't because I want to give the illusion that my life is picture perfect. But no matter what lifestyle my kids grow up and choose, I still love them. I hope and pray, of course, that they choose to seek God in all they do. Because I love them. I want them to be happy. So I pray for them, and seek with all my heart to personally live a life that is well-pleasing to God, to be a good example, to bless and serve when I don't feel like it, to forgive and forget, to be a doer of what I know is right, and not a preacher.

And yeah, there is no shortage of work to do here today...I need to start with my list and make sure I have all I need to start baking those pies. The 23 pound turkey is thawing...I need to buy squash...ours didn't grow well in the garden this year...

Sunday, November 22, 2015

sunday afternoon....

This is how I feel today too...

The cold has moved in, the sun is setting, and the house is quiet for a bit. Paul and Jonny are out hunting, the princesses are playing in their room, and the rest of the teenagers, and Joseph, are in their rooms. We had a big lunch of leftover chicken heated up in olive oil and pepper, and stirred into a ginger teriyaki sauce, with basmati rice and steamed broccoli.

It's snowing out now, brr.

Christmas excitement is creeping in....I put in a Target order today. Phew, that takes care of a few of the kids. The little girls went to the craft store with me today. I spent too much and had too much fun. We came home with some wreaths, which I decorated and put on the doors. is here, and I have things to do...

Friday, November 20, 2015

and friday rolls around again...

I would like to say we are staying home today, but alas, we are going bye-bye...just for two specific things: a huge turkey, and something for the crafts I am making for the bazaar this year. I bought a turkey yesterday but it's only 18 pounds, and am hoping to get a bigger one. It's only 48 cents a pound, and we'll use the smaller one maybe for Christmas, or for just a random Sunday meal.

Oh how spoiled we are. I watched a video from Operation Christmas Child...a huge roomful of school kids somewhere in Africa, I am guessing, opening their shoeboxes full of gifts, and shrieking with joy. One boy was waving a box of markers like it was a million dollars. I had my three youngest watch it with me this morning, then we went to the site and read personal stories of kids receiving their boxes, and how having their own toothbrush instead of sharing with others at the orphanage was the best thing, but most of all, these kids felt the love of a stranger. The kids and I agreed that we need to fill a box or two, and found there are drop off locations around here.

Jonathan is making eggs for Camille for breakfast. Miss Char is taking a shower. Duke is lying at my feet, and Suri is napping on the couch, snoring.

It's chilly and sunny here, the wind has died down, it's a good day for playing outside. Yesterday rain was forecast, so when the kids woke up, I told them to go out and jump on the trampoline quickly before the rain comes through.

Yesterday's calling hours/service for our friend's mom was very touching, very sad. I am so thankful that we attended. Paul was able to leave work for a while and go, it was nice to see him there too. I didn't know his mom well, she came here once years ago, but that's not always the point. Steve needed his friends in his time of sorrow.

It's time to get moving here again.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

trying to fit it all in...

There was a museum trip that I was bound and determined to fit in this week. So I planned it for Tuesday. Then dang it, there was a basketball game I needed to work. Then Wednesday, but there was Activity Club in the afternoon. Thursday? Yes, Thursday it is. Then lo and behold, a friend of ours lost his mama, and the calling hours are...on Thursday. Who was the one who said that it isn't doing what one likes, it's liking what one does? Yeah, well. I DID say that.

So no museum today. Calling hours for a friend's mama.

Tomorrow? No, Kim can't go tomorrow, she has grandkids coming to visit her.

Tomorrow night, I am going to see the latest Hunger Games movie with some of my girls and one of their friends. Again, liking what I do. It IS fun to share the excitement with them, then critique the movie, compare it to the books, ect.

And Saturday, I'm working the concession stand again.

Do I even get a say in life? Ha, I don't mind. I could barge through putting my foot down and choosing what I want to do instead, and probably couldn't even think of what to do with myself. And besides, I'm pretty certain that there's a blessing over doing what's good for others.

I had a dream last night that I was doing things I shouldn't do, hanging with some rebels (sometimes in my dreams I am a teenager again), and I could feel my conscience niggling. Finally I started crying, and told a whole group of really tough kids, "I can't do this anymore! I would rather have God's good pleasure over my life than anything else in the world!"

Anyway. That's the main goal in life...and when we do that first, all the rest sort of falls into place. And now I need to hurry hurry hurry...:)

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

when mama stays up late in the night...

I am too tired to be up, but the quiet is just too nice to say goodnight to. It's going to get busier around here before it gets calmer, so I need to grab the chance to chill by myself while I can.

Thanksgiving is next week, and we are having a turkey dinner on Wednesday, because three of the four nurses in our family can make it: Emily, Aaron, and Mali. Poor Mirielle has an awful schedule and has to work several 12 hour nights in a row next week:(

I used to routinely have most of my Christmas shopping done before Thanksgiving, but not this year! I did get some things yesterday, but still have a ways to go. And we have reserved a table at a craft bazaar for next month, and oh the ideas that are swirling around in my head!

Right now, I don't have any library books, because I just don't want to take the time to read these days. are some random facts in no particular order.

1. I have eleven daughters. Sometimes that suprises me. That's a lot of daughters. They are all unique, and I am thankful for them all.

2. Five sons. Five. Even if I didn't have eleven daughters, and just had five boys, that's a lot of boys! They are amazing boys, my grown boys, and little Jonathan who is such a good kid.

3. I have always wanted to homeschool, and when I finally started to, I fell in love with it. That doesn't mean I don't second guess myself sometimes, but I have peace about it.

4. Bragging about your kids is allowed on your own blog.

5. A guy at the basketball concession told me he loved me tonight. Then he looked at me and said, "I am totally serious. I love you." He was awfully young, so I am thinking he meant in a mother sort of way. Either way, it was both weird and flattering.

6. I am staying up late because I had a strange incidence of sudden acid reflux, the choking/burning/coughing kind, while sitting right here in my chair, a few hours ago. I drank coffee on the way home from the basketball game, and had some dark chocolate. Bad combination, I guess. I thought I would stay up for a while so it doesn't happen while I sleep.

7. Before I lost lots of weight, I was plagued by heartburn, but it mostly went away with a good healthy lower carb diet.

8. Moving more is on my agenda for the winter. I am such a relaxer! When it's cold out and the cozy little space heater is blowing warm air on my toes, oh I like to sit in my chair and think about things. But those push ups and exercises and walks and dancing around with the kids feel so much better!

9..Paul and I have to get our heads together and plan our trip to Florida for this coming winter. I also want to see about making my hoped for trip to Norway in March a reality...with a little side trip to England:)

10.Hunting season for big game starts next week. Paul bought a license and really wants to shoot a deer so we can eat nice natural unprocessed meat. This is going to take some adjustments from Miss Picky here. You can tell me all you want to that it's good for me, that doesn't mean I'm going to eat it. I would like the skin though, to cure and make moccasins out of.

And never mind, I am getting tired. Good night!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

feeling accomplished...

Aim low and you won't be disappointed. I took the kids to the pool yesterday, yay me! They had a half a bagel before we left, so were famished by the time we got out of the water. Home, hung up the suits and towels, and French toast with berries and whipped cream, eggs with bacon bits and sausage, and ice water. I only had the eggs and berries, but believe me, I wanted the whipped cream. It's the squirty kind in the can, and we were supposed to save it for Thanksgiving pie, but no one opened it, and hey, if it's open, it's fair game in this house.

This afternoon there's a college basketball game, and yes, I am working at it. Stay At Home Mom, ha.

At 4:45 this chilly morning, Duke started in on his intermittent barking. It wasn't his Stranger Is Here barking, which he does even when Paul comes home from work, it was his Have To Go Out barking. Just a bark...then I would start to drift back off...then another...I waited to see if anyone else possibly heard him and would be the nice one, but hah. Me, it was. Brr. Both of the dogs wagged and wagged when I came out, happily thinking it was morning. I let them out, and waited fifteen minutes for them to run wild and explore important things, and probably go to the bathroom too. They thought it was food time too, but no way. I patted their naughty heads and went back to bed. My bed was so warm and comfy and I had over two more hours before I had to get up. I closed my eyes. I thought of things. I thought of how much I grumbled when I had to get up. I thought of how tired I would be later when I had to work at the basketball game. I thought of how easily I slip into being not very thankful. I talked to God about things. I thought about how Christians can be critical and judgemental, and how I don't want to be like that.

I didn't like it, but it was good for me.

And then of course, at 6:30 when Paul got up, I talked to him...then fell asleep. Right when I had to get up. Then I had an awful dream, that Paul was sitting in a chair, leaning back all tired. In the dream it was obvious he was very sick. I leaned over and kissed his stubbly cheek, and told I loved him, then I teased him and said, "what's left of you." A horrible thing to say, and I feel bad even though it was only a dream. He was so thin and tired, then he closed his eyes and started sobbing, and I kept kissing him and telling him how much I loved him...then I woke up. And wanted to get into the van and drive to his work and hug him. It was just a dream. But the feelings I felt were real. The feelings I had when I woke up were real. I do love him, even if he makes bonebroth and komucha tea, pickled carrots and homemade saurkraut, and messes up the kitchen, and leaves socks on the floor. I love him. I am glad for that bad dream....

And I have kids to talk to and to teach...and enjoy.

Monday, November 16, 2015

on doing what I like...

I like writing. So I have to remember when I am feeling all huffy about never getting a say in how I spend my day that I DO get to write. It's not always blissfully quiet when I sit here trying to string two thoughts together, but this morning it is. That's because I half-assed it on the morning work, and yes I do know that's a bad word, but nothing else fits so perfectly to describe how I wiped down the counters, swept the floors, straightened the couch covers, washed the popcorn pan and bowls from last night, and put on a pot of coffee before beelining it to this comfy chair, to sneak in this very quiet time before the homeschooled kids get up. And that was AFTER I conversed with my three daughters who still go to real school, Sonja 13, Suzanne 14, and Evelyn Joy 16. Suze keeps a low profile in the morning, very quiet. Too quiet sometimes and I worry. Sonja and Evelyn are like dynamite and a match. This morning for instance, I was telling a story about when Ben was a newborn baby and I went Christmas shopping with him. Back then, I told the girls, there weren't yet infant car seats. A baby went into a large convertible style seat in the car, then was taken out of it, and brought into store or where ever, in the arms of his caretaker. So I used a regular little babyseat, the kind one used on a countertop, to put him in when we got into the toy store that day, in the back of the shopping cart. As I stopped to browse in the doll aisle, a woman took a large box from the shelf, set it on the cart directly over where baby Benjy sat in his infant seat, and started to open up the box. Um, I am a real nice lady, but the mama bear in me came out that day.

Anyhoo. When I tell these stories, the kids look at each other, raise their eyebrows, and say that Mom's old. Imagine, a world without infant carseats. Anyway, Sonja started decided it was 'fessing up time, and started telling stories about eating all of Evelyn's gummy candy that she got for her birthday from Uncle Bob, to which Evelyn replied, "Do you hate me? Why do you always take MY stuff." (Sonja DID steal Evelyn's sweater just yesterday, but Sonja called it "borrowing".)

So yeah, a nice smooth morning that ended with three girls dashing for the bus, leaving one lunch on the countertop. I am not one of those mom's who knows exactly who what lunch belongs with, so I waited for the is Evelyn's. Yes, I will bring it to school for you, because I agree, you can't starve. But shh, don't tell Sonja, she forgot her lunch last week when it was cold and rainy, and shh, Bad Mom Award, I told her to borrow from the lunch ladies and eat a school lunch.

I have been thinking a bit about doing what one likes. It IS golden, to sit here in the quiet and tap out my thoughts. It clears my head. And that's okay, to strive to fit it in. But. As I go about my day, more likely than not, most of the things I occupy myself with are things I wouldn't exactly choose to do. In this lies the old cliche, Like What You Do, instead of Do What You Like. It's a good work to learn to be content, and to be thankful for whatever God sends each day. And it is a constant work. It's easy to waste the days being miserable because nothing goes the way I want it to. That misery effects everyone around me. And that is how sin destroys, wrecks, and divides. Choosing to fight those thoughts of Poor Me, and the anxiety about money, and worry about how the kids are behaving, and the reports I need to do for school (dang, I have to get those in!!)'s a good that brings joy in the midst of noise and chaos, and goodness instead of answering back, kindness instead of being harsh and critical. It's a learning process, but a good fight.

The days are simply not long enough to do all the things we need to do, and I want life to just go on and on. That's one of the things that really tempts me to freak out, honestly, thinking of how mortal we all are. Just a thought flitting through my mind of something happening to one of the kids, and I can't handle it, I simply have to remember that God has all of this, I don't need to fret about it. I enjoy life, though, and sometimes I think, "Well, I'm fifty, so if I'm lucky, I get another 30-40 I am already over halfway through my ride through life..." Again, God HAS this. I don't need to worry about it. But those thoughts do come.

Anyway. Today is all I need to be concerned with, and today we are going to do some school, go to the library, and perhaps start some Christmas shopping. And I need to write reports...:)

Saturday, November 14, 2015

and our hearts are with france....

Paul is not leaving this morning for his trip to Paris. His company has halted travel to France until further notice. His bags will be unpacked, and he will stay home today with the five youngest while I go to a football game concessions...with Joseph and Kathryn and Evelyn.

Reading about all the suffering the terrorists have unleashed over there makes me angry (how DARE they?!!), but also so sad for the French people. Not only for the deaths, but because the feeling of safety in their own country has been pulled from beneath their feet.

So my gladness that Paul suddenly ISN'T leaving for a week is tempered with sadness.

Charlotte Claire asked me a few minutes ago, "Do you think all those people who say they're praying for France are really praying?" Yes, the conundrum of our time, the empty social media promises of all those prayers. It's something I have really taken seriously, because to tell someone they are in your prayers, and then to forget all about it....mmm, not good.

Saturday morning, snowing out, cozy in here, but there is tidying up to do before I leave. And kids are up and about, Paul is in the kitchen making me a keto yucky but so yummy at the same time: avocado, coconut/almond milk, kale, berries, flax seed, cinnamon, vanilla. It will be my lunch today. I am happy that even though I have totally carbed up the other night when we went out of town for the night (oh the french fries I ate. And the Long Island Iced Tea. And the bottom bun I left on that bacon burger. mmm-hmm, it was good.) weight is down to that nice new number I saw last week. So slowly, yet it's moving in the right direction.

Ah well. Coffee's brewing, and it's time to talk to this family of mine...

Friday, November 13, 2015

#redCup #merrychristmas


Miss Evelyn Joy...

So Starbucks switched to plain red cups for the holiday season, also known by us rebels as The CHRISTMAS season. And guess what? I don't really care. They want to kowtow and grovel and try to please people, that's their weakness. I like Dunkin coffee better anyway, and it's cheaper.

Evelyn was kind enough to go to the grocery store yesterday afternoon with me. We needed eggs and avocados and bananas and and and. We also went to the thrift store and found some treasures, but I got one of my daughters a coat...a perfectly nice L.L. Bean coat, nice and warm and looks brand new...she doesn't really like it. It's always a stretch to pick something out for a teenager, and I would rather she was honest than pretended to like it, although I would prefer that she REALLY liked it. Oh well. That's the chance I take.

And now it's time to start school. I have a friend perched on the arm of my chair, Miss Cam.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

and a happy start to the morning....

The usual, swept the floors, fed and watered the dogs, and pet them a bit of course. I did some laundry, and made a pot of coffee. Then Camille told me she felt like she was going to throw up, right as Evelyn texted me from school, asking to be picked up. She's not sick, she just doesn't want to be in school today. If I was a smart mom, I would text her back that OF COURSE I AM NOT GOING TO PICK YOU UP. But I am not a smart mom, I am a mom who realizes that she has ELEVEN daughters, and is glad to give some attention to a 16 year old girl who needs it. These kids of mine are just passing through. Nine of them are 18 and over now. The time spent with these teenagers is precious and fleeting.

So of course I answered, "What time do you want me to pick you up?".

We haven't started school yet. The girls are playing Barbies. The just don't get bored, and I have a respect for playing, and find it hard to make them stop, to hit the books. They are 8 and 9, and in a few years the dolls will be all lonely in their bins, as these last two kids of mine grow up.

It's gloomy and windy today...the dismal forebodings kind of autumn day...those beautiful leaves have all crumpled up and blown away, leaving the trees so stark.

It's a day for baking, for hunkering down and staying in. Jon is sitting on the couch reading a book with Mr. Kitty purring on his lap, and the dogs are snoring on the other couch. My mug of pumpkin spice coffee is almost gone, and that niggling thought that we need to start school won't leave me alone, although believe me, I'm trying to ignore it.

It's that time of year for me to start really thinking about fixing things up in here, so I have been nagging Paul to figure out what's wrong with our oven. He tried to fix it last night, and made a huge-o mess, black sooty stuff all over the floor. He has already replaced a part, ect. This stove of ours is a nice one, it has a convection oven and extra burners on the top, and I like it...but. But it needs to be fixed or replaced, although it's not what I would like to spend a chunk of money on. I can't paint the kitchen if it's just going to get all sooty from the oven. And I also want to undertake the painting of the kitchen cabinets. One of my daughters said last night that there is "nothing to do", and I was all over that. Just wait, I told her, we are going to have plenty to do, because we are going to do some painting projects and home improvements. They actually seem okay with it. I need to do it while I still have willing helpers living here at home:)

Okay, the niggling is getting louder, ha, we need to get going on our math. (We are concentrating on just math for a few days, to get down some concepts...I am trying to make math less scary:))

Here's your favorite blogger this fine morning...can't seem to get out of this chair....!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

home again....

Our little trip went by too fast...
This is me when I discovered how nice the hotel was:)

We left at noon-ish and stopped at a wildlife refuge.

Our hotel room was fantastic! There was a sitting room with a fireplace, and a full kitchen.

I happen to love fireplaces, it was a chilly and rainy afternoon, and this was so cozy! The hotel was right in the same parking lot as T.G.I.F, a decent enough place for dinner. And since we were walking, we had a drink with dinner, which believe me, doesn't happen when kids are along:)

Anyway. 31 years, and we still like each other. We did lots of walking, and enjoyed the pool and hot tub. We were across the street from a thrift store, so we explored there this morning. I found some good Christmas presents for the kids. Then we took the long scenic ride home, along the southern shore of Lake Ontario, admiring the beautiful houses and apple orchards.

Some of those houses are magnificent! So absolutely huge! Chances are, the people who live in them don't have even half the kids we have, why do they need all of that room? I don't blame them, if I had that much money, I would have a huge house too. But not super huge, I like cozy. I would have a fireplace though, and an endless pool, indoors.

Char, Cam, and I took a nice walk in the sprinkling rain this afternoon before dinner. I had made some pumpkin flax seed muffins, some with berries and some with a few mini chocolate chips on top, oh they are good, especially for being healthy. Then pork chops, apple sauce, rice, and salad for dinner.

The younger kids are at activity club. Right now, Paul is attempting to fix the oven (yay!)(I can't paint my kitchen or the cabinets until it gets fixed). Kathryn and Evelyn are making pudding and homemade whipped cream. Why don't they just shoot me? Hot chocolate pudding...I hate healthy eating sometimes. Suzanne is here too, and they are full of silliness, while Paul is trying to figure this stove thing out.

Today is Benjamin's birthday, and also my friend Martha's son Benjamin's birthday. I think that's pretty cool. If I were rich, I would fly out to visit Ben at least every six months. Or heck, every three. I miss him, I miss Ashley, and I miss that little Anya. And, I love to travel.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015


Paul's leaving work early off we are going!

This morning, I googled the name of a blog I used to read that had gone private, and found a whole thread of mean-spirited comments directed at this blog writer. Criticizing, critiquing, and just plain hating on this mom for having lots of kids, and for adopting special needs children. The venom people can spew just shocks me! It's a free country, and heaven forbid one should say a word about someone being gay or switching genders, but if you choose to homeschool or have lots of kids, look out! Just to clarify this, I have no problem with whatever way people choose to live their lives, I am just making a point.

Yesterday, Kathryn, Jonathan, Camille, Davian, and Charlotte Claire, and I went to Pizza Hut to redeem the Book-It pizza coupons for homeschoolers. Then a quick trip to the grocery store for milk and veggies, and a new tablet charger for Miss Char. We also got those chocolate count down to Christmas calendars already! Only twenty days until December...whoa.

Tomorrow, my son Benjamin turns 27! He was born on Veterans' Day and has always had the day off on his birthday, how cool is that? And he is also a veteran! Anyhow, I wish I could give him a birthday hug, but he is out there in Washington state, all the way across the country. I do count my blessings that it's so easy to keep in touch these days with social media/texting, ect. Back in the day, we had to call family or friends long distance on our little black rotary-dial phone. And only in the evenings and on weekends, of course!

And, school must begin! Enough lounging!

Although Camille makes a cute lounger...

Monday, November 9, 2015

happy monday....!

I am happy today! Tomorrow, Paul and I are sneaking away for one night! He has Wednesday off from work for Veterans' Day, and has hotel points. We tried to fit it in on a weekend, but there's always something. This coming weekend, for instance, he's leaving for France again, then it's the weekend after Thanksgiving, then into December...anyhow...I'm glad and looking so forward to the little getaway.

Not that I don't love my kids. But having uninterrupted conversations with the husband is rather rare. And believe you me, the kids are just as glad as we are, I know they aren't BAD when we leave, but they certainly eat snacks on the couch and stay up way too late. As long as they don't kill each other or set the house on fire...

And then, Thanksgiving is coming up! Having four nurses in the family makes it difficult to schedule anything they can all attend, but two of the four can make it for sure if we have dinner on Wednesday. One can't make it any of the days, she's working several in a row, and another hasn't chimed in yet. But if two can make it on Wednesday, then Wednesday it is. Thursday we'll just have Mexican food or something fun. One day is as good as another, as far as I'm concerned, I just want to them to be able to be here.

Today is my brother's birthday. William. He isn't with us anymore, if you have been reading this for any length of time, you know that he died by his own hand in a gruesome way...with a gun. It's one of those things that doesn't get any easier, and it's taboo to talk about. It's just not an acceptable way to die. I won't ever get over the shock of it, nor will I ever stop missing my brother. We grew up a close family, my sister...then four boys...then me, and then my little brother Casey. The youngest of those four boys was Billy. We were very close as teenagers. It's funny because I see him in my son Joseph, the sarcasm and the wit, and the nonchalant attitude. And just the way Joe can look at me and make me feel like I'm being silly, reminds me so much of Billy. The years go by, and the things my kids say and do, and the way our dogs are, I find myself thinking, "Billy would love this, Billy would find this hilarious, Billy is missing this."

But on a happier note, I saw a new number on the scale this morning! It's slow going, but at least we're moving in the right direction. I am in no danger of wasting away to nothing, don't worry. Here's a thought: When one is fat, whatever health problem they experience can be chalked up to...fatness. It causes a whole plethora of ills, from metabolic syndrome which leads to diabetes, high blood pressure, and of course strokes and heart attacks, and even some cancers. But guess what? Skinny people have those issues too. And guess what? Everyone dies. Not just the fat people. I know life is harder when you're bigger. Life is more limited, more uncomfortable, clothes are harder to find, it's hard to buckle, to tie one's shoes, ect ect ect. But losing weight doesn't automatically make one happy and healthy. I used to read a column written by a lady named Bunny Dimmel, Bunny being a nickname. She was so inspirational to me! She had gained lots and lots of weight, and was several hundred pounds when she realized that she had gotten herself into this mess, and she would get herself out. So she did. She walked and she prepared healthy food all day on Saturdays to freeze for her week. She went through the drive-through of the coffee shop, got a coffee, asked the calorie content in a specific variety of donut, then made a happy conscious choice not to have one, and drove a way. She was amazing. Then she fell off the map. I couldn't find any new entries for her...then I sort of forgot about her. I decided to google her the other day, and dang it, she passed away a year ago Saturday. I was stunned. Saddened, and stunned. She had lost all that weight! She was supposed to be healthy and vigorous now! Yes, I know, everyone dies. But. It seems so unfair.

Anyway. Charlotte Claire seems to have a cold, and her voice is sort of hoarse, so she is having hot tea on this chilly morning, in her fuzzy robe. (She drinks it without sugar because she likes it that way, go Char!) Cam is still sleeping, Char sneaked out without waking her. Jonathan is up, talking to Margaret, who is in Norway, with his tablet. Davian is coming soon, and the day is starting!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

and a happy birthday it was.....

Cuppy-cakes and cookies...

and birthday cake...

Having a baby in the house, oh so nice. We didn't really feed cake to Lydia, btw. Isn't she so sweet and cute and nice? We had to take turns holding her all evening.

We had chicken wings last night, twenty pounds of them...some barbecued, some Buffalo...we peeled a huge pot of potatoes, and had mashies, and lots of sliced cucumbers, celery, and carrots...and corn, as per Camille's request.

Camille got a new doll for her birthday, and an outfit for her...not a baby doll, the American Girl type from Target. She LOVES her, even though we have a passel of dolls already. After all, Camille is the eleventh girl in the family, and I'm not exactly the Get-Rid-Of-Things type of girl. She also got a bracelet/jewelry making kit, some nail polish, and two Barbie movies, and some money. Right now, Miss Char, Miss Cam, and cousin Dani are out here with dolls and strollers, watching one of the new movies.

I had a nice surprise for them this morning, that I forgot to give them last night: I bought three matching nightgowns that came with little nightgowns for dolls, the size doll Cam just got. (They were marked down to five dollars at Kohl's last week, plus I had a coupon)

And as cozy as it is in here this morning, I have a grim outing to leave for in a few minutes....Mirielle and I are taking Mr. Louis, aka Lou...the little doggy...back to the shelter. All I can say is poor Emily. She's doing what she knows is the right thing to do, but oh the heartbreak.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

my baby is 8 today....

Yes, 8 years ago today we had our 16th child, our miracle baby. She is my little sweetie still. I have baked cookies with rainbow sprinkles, and cakes and cupcakes, waiting to be frosted. We are celebrating with chicken wings, mashed potatoes, and corn, as per her request:)

I am heading to town now, taking a break from cleaning and baking, to get vanilla for the's always something I'm out of. Maybe I'll get some balloons too. Yes, Miss Organized here. I went shopping with Emily yesterday, for an Israel feast we are having tomorrow, and got a few prizes to make little prize bags for Cam and her friends. They are not put together yet, nor are her gifts wrapped. Heck, I still haven't decided exactly what I'm going to give her yet. I did however, make a huge impulse purchase this past week:

A trampoline. It was on sale! The kids have been wanting one forever and a day, since our old one fell apart and died. I didn't want another one, Cam dislocated her elbow on the old one. But...I bought it. I was proud of myself, I was the self-appointed project engineer, and we put the whole thing together by the time Paul got home from work. He was NOT impressed. I guess we have different opinions of having a trampoline, but thankfully he's okay with it, and knows the kids just love it. It does have a safety net, but we didn't get that far before it got dark the other night, then it rained yesterday, ect.

Anyhow...tonight we are having a party for Cam. Emily and Mirielle and Mali are coming over, along with some little friends.

And, I need to move it...

Thursday, November 5, 2015

why do I do this everyday?

Here I am, a fifty year old lady, wasting time typing on a laptop every morning, writing the same thing, day after day. I don't know who reads it, and I don't know why I write it. I only know that it sorts me out, and it's rather therapeutic. And when I'm writing it, I forget that people actually READ it.

Here are some random thoughts for today, you know, sorting things out in my mind and all...

1. I have been blogging for over 8 years now.

2. Camille was not born yet when I started. She is turning 8 this Saturday.

3. I have five teenagers, the 18 year old in Norway for a year. The other four accompanied me on an outing last evening:

Sonja 13, Suzanne 14, me, Evelyn 16, and Kathryn 17. These girls are so full of fun and life! They bicker, and randomly get extremely offended at each other, yet they love each other and when they are getting along, it's magnificent. We went out to dinner last evening, then to Kohl's because I had a good coupon (we only spent $18 in there), then to the Tim Horten's/Coldstone Creamery, where I decided to go ahead and get some pumpkin ice cream, which lo and behold comes with one free mix-in (free, ha! That cup of ice cream was five dollars!) I got Snicker bar mixed in. Um, yum? Kathryn shared with me while the other girls chose things from Tim's, like cookie flavored lattes and smoothies.

4. Today I am right back to eating clean. I find that going off course once a week or so, in a small time period, and not going wild, doesn't seem to affect me.

5. Which brings me to weight loss...the ever present spectre in my cross to bear, the thorn in my flesh...I can't just walk away from it, or the pounds will come back with a vengeance. Since I decided to clean up my act four and a half years ago, I am down aprox. 67 pounds...I HAD been down over 70, then got sloppy and put 25 pounds back on like nothing. So I got serious again, and it's been sloooow going. Eighteen pounds down in the last six months, but I feel better. I have a long way to go, at least 40 more pounds, although for my height, I could safely lose another 70. It's not negotiable, I have to keep on with this, if I don't, I'll just gain it all back, and I am not up for that. So I keep plugging along, keep moving, keeping eating clean, saying NO to sweets and grains an average of a million times a day....

6. I am happily married. But I won't lie, it is a work to keep the "happily" part in that phrase. I don't think Paul reads this, but if you do dear, please, don't be offended. It's NOT you. It's the fact that I have occasionally let little things that bug me...pile up...little grievances like how maybe I thought you should have noticed how hard I worked for that dinner, and you didn't even seem to care, or that I had a lot to say and you just nodded and put headphones on, or that my feelings were hurt...and so on. And voila, before I knew it, once again, I was rather distant, rather offended. This is not good, this is not right. Forgiving and forgetting is not a one time deal, it's a way of life, if you want to preserve your marriage. I love my husband, and racking up these invisible iniquities is like letting a wrecking ball swing at the whole relationship. I have to purify my own thoughts in order to love purely. It has nothing to do with the way he is, or can be, because heaven knows he's not perfect, ha. But this is something worth working on! And it helps that he's really hot, and to any of my kids who might be reading this, sorry.

7. Christmas is next month. I do not have a present closet so much anymore. 9 of the kids now 18 or over, what do I possibly get them? We do a gift exchange that is lots of fun, and I am trying to downsize what I give...except to the little ones:) But here's the thing: I love my kids so much, I don't want them to feel like because I only got them a coffee mug and a new scarf that I don't care about them....ha.

8. Next week, Paul and I are going away for a night! We are fitting it in in the middle of the week because he has Veteran's Day off. He's leaving for France next weekend, so we couldn't go until at least the weekend after Thanksgiving, and that's not even for sure...

9. Homeschooling: yeah, we're having fun, but we have to fit more work in. These glorious days of Indian summer here in New York have been wonderful, but not conducive to a lot of bookwork:) We went to my brother's for breakfast yesterday, which was really fun, and was like a restaurant breakfast. He's amazing btw, taking care of small children while making to-order breakfasts, and keeping the house spotless. And, he LOVES those little ones he watches.

10. My heart is aching and breaking for my oldest daughter, Emily. She lives in a nice big house in town with Mirielle (Abigail lived there too, before going to Norway for a year), and another girl. Anyway, she adopted a rescue dog back in the springtime. He's an adorable little lab-mix. He had been abused in his former life, which leaves him...unpredictable. He has attachment issues, but also he has growling issues. Randomly. He'll love you on one visit, then the next time he'll bare his teeth, snap, growl...and scare the living heck out of you. He loves Emily dearly, sleeps in her bed, obeys her on walks, accompanies her on adventures. But Emily bought that house to be a good place, a place for friends to visit, for fellowship...and little Lou can wreak havoc on all of that. He's a liability, because one of these days, he really could bite someone. The girls had baby Lydia there and had to watch him like a hawk, which of course one should do anyway with a dog, but still. Anyway...Emily has decided to return Lou to the shelter. It has not been an easy decision, but in the end, people have to come first, and although they have been patient and kind and good to this pup, he has been aggressive at times, so...he has to go. I know Emily is going to be partly relieved to have him gone, and she is going to feel guilty to feel like that, because she's going to feel like a bad person, a shmuck, a traitor, and there will be a huge hole in her heart, because she did give her heart to this little dog. She's all grown up, Emily is. But she's still my little girl, and if I could take this pain from her, I gladly would. Yeah, it's only a dog, you can say. But the way she loves this dog is still love. wah.

Lou wanted to go to Israel with Emily...

11. Little girls are up playing, they never get bored. They have turned the bottom bunk into a couch, and are playing dolls, and don't want to do any school work. But they will...:) Davian is here now too, so time to move it...

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

an old gramma....

We got to pick up my granddaughter, Lydia, and bring her to the zoo with us.

It doesn't make me feel old to be a gramma, especially was like old times, and I haven't forgotten how to rock a fussy baby and pay the zoo admission at the same time, or how to do a quick diaper change on the front seat of the van. Jonathan, Char, and Cam took turns pushing the stroller, and took turns holding Davian's hand. BTW, going to the zoo with a three year old who can read is fun, he enjoyed looking at all the placards and descriptions that accompany each exhibit, especially the maps that showed where in the world the species lives or lived. Hearing him exclaim, "Oh, that's native to Brazil!" his little voice...he's adorable.

And Lydia: she's so good! I am officially in love with her. :)

It was a lovely day to spend outside. My favorite part was lunch...we ate on a bench in the shade...the breeze blowing, the temperature just right, the kids extra hungry...hunger makes everything taste good, and they loved their peanut butter and jam sandwiches, and bologna sandwiches...then Davian said, "This is the best day ever!"

This morning, I don't have much time to sit here. We have been invited to my brother's house for breakfast! He lives down the road, in town. We are picking up Davian on the way. My brother Bob is the second oldest of the seven of us, he has ten kids all grown up, just a few still at home, and lots of grandchildren, I have lost count. He babysits for some of them, so there will be three there today, I think. (He is retired)

It's another beautiful day today, the sun shining on what's left of the autumn brilliance. Our pear tree is still beautiful.

My friend Martha wrote on her blog recently about feeling nostalgic. That's me, perpetually. Carrying Lydia at the zoo made me feel like a young mom again, and I missed those crazy days. Ha, I did feel like a member of The Club again, you know, the Yeah, I Have A Baby Club. When your youngest outgrows the stroller, you can smile knowingly at a mom still in the Baby Club, but she is IN the club, and she knows how it is, and you don't anymore. :) Anyhow.

Bye for now.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

enjoying the days.....

The trees! Their beautiful leaves! Wah.

Is is still okay to use the term, "Indian Summer"? I don't want to have to go on the morning show and apologize to the whole world for my insensitivity.

In any case, the weather this week is amazing, here in central New York state. The brilliant blue sky, high sixties, just grand. Today, we are going on an adventure, to the zoo! My homeschooled kids and I, and Davian, and we are picking up baby Lydia. She won't appreciate the monkeys or the elephants, but we will appreciate her!

I have been reading about unschooling, and radical unschooling, and have read some articles about homework, and how too much of it stresses kids out. "Stresses kids out." That's sad. Kids need to have responsibilities, but their lives are being eaten up by repetitive meaningless tasks, all in the name of giving them a good life, a good start, a fighting chance...then college, will they actually live their lives? I don't know. All things aren't for all people, but I think too much structure just smothers their creativity and wastes their childhood.

And I do want to talk about this sometime, but now Davian is here, we have to get ready and have breakfast, and pack lunch, and yay! We are going to the zoo!