summer 2011

summer 2011

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

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

Friday, April 28, 2017


Yesterday...we went to the beach! I didn't get any pics of the three kids, I didn't get any of Kim, my sis-in-law, with her three homeschoolers and two grandchildren...but I did enjoy some sunshine and fresh air on the shore of Lake Ontario. The kids enjoyed the playground and digging holes. They had big plans for hole digging. We have this nice garden shovel, a nice dangerous one, that really digs sand, not like those little bendy plastic wimpy things that come with the pails. This shovel gets holes dug, and fast. Unfortunately, it's also a kid-magnet, you know, those kids who don't bring toys to the beach and come along and want to play with ours. I don't mind sharing, but this thing is not a toy, it's for kids who know how to be careful not to chop off toes or swing it into someone's face.

Our kids (my three and the cousins) dug a nice big hole. It had lots of water in it, and they were very delighted with it. Two little boys, whom I will call The Tibble Twins, came along to play. They thought it would be fun to try to wreck the walls our kids were trying to build at the edges of the huge hole. I got up from my comfy beach chair and nicely asked the boys to listen to our kids' pleas not to wreck the walls. Then again, to please not throw a bucket of water on Sean, who was trying to defend this hole. Then again, please play nice, boys! Well. Three strikes. Kim got up for #4, and told them to just go away. They did. Where were their parents? Who knows. It's a shame too, because I think they're homeschoolers, and it's nice for the kids to learn to get along, but jeepers.

Anyway. I still felt bad, like we could have tried more, but those kids obviously didn't care about making the grand mega-cool hole, they just wanted to destroy things.

Molly didn't accompany to the beach with Lydia, but was going to be coming to the house, so we spent just three hours at the beach, then headed home for a sweet Lydia visit. The girls had filled a little pool for her in the yard.

I grilled chicken on the deck, which I had marinated in lemon juice/olive oil/seasonings, and a little bit of Italian dressing. It was sooooo good, hardly any leftover for any lunches.

Dinner is still a big production here most nights. We had leftover potatoes, rice, salad, and mixed veggies. Of course you have to get out the hot sauce, the barbecue sauce, the salad dressings and croutons and Craisins, the butter, the salt and pepper...napkins, cups, plates, forks. Then...clean it all up! Many hands supposedly make light the task, but there elbows that rub, and teenage tempers to deal with, ha. Mali actually helped the most last night. It's nice to sit together at the table though.

Today, I am going to the grocery store to get the stuff for Sunday, Jonathan's birthday cookout. He is turning 13, my little guy is going to be a teenager, ha, like I need another teenager (this makes five at the present time, although Jon, being child #14, is the 14th teenager in our family:)) We are having burgers on the grill, and pasta salad, and chips, and cuppycakes. Jon really wants ice cream cake, the homemade stuff on the cookies and butter crust, but it's hard to serve to a whole group of boys...I think 15 or so are coming. So I promised we would have it another night this weekend, which means I have to get stuff for that too. I think I might have to just duct tape my mouth shut for the weekend. I have been staying away from sugar nicely, eating well, watching the portions and the carbs...and this morning, the scale hates me, I am UP a half a pound. no fair, I tell you, no fair...patience, though...and keep on. This is where I want to just want to acknowledge that I AM broken, and go out for ice cream. But I won't. I am going to hold out and see what happens.

Anyway. Never a dull moment. Our puppy is in heat, so there is that. We plan to get her spayed, but have read/heard that it's better to wait until they are a bit older. I am glad Duke is fixed, that makes it easier. I put flea/tick repellent on the three dogs last's so expensive, especially times three. I also bought stuff for the two kitties. But the fleas around here in the summer are brutal, they live in the yard.

Ah well...I am enjoying the nice weather. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, the windows are open (yay for new windows with nice screens that haven't been ruined by any cats or small children!). It's still quiet in here, the dogs are all fed and happy and snoring, and the kids haven't emerged from their rooms yet, except for the Real School kids who left a few hours ago, and Kathryn, who left for work. The homeschoolers are allowed to be on their tablets in the mornings before nine, if they're awake. So any minute now, they will come tumbling out here and we'll start the day...even though I have already been up for three hours.:)

Thursday, April 27, 2017

hanging on to the "patience" part....

Day after day, week after sugar, no treats. How long can one survive? Ha, it's really only been for this week that I've been 100% good, but no results yet! So here's the thing...I am trying to figure out how I can be "dieting" for years and years, and be stalled. And this is the answer...I have not endured long enough. I have not held out. I am good all week, for example, then I have a few cookies, or whatever it is. Not tons, but enough to gain a few pounds, which take all week to lose again. I am broken. But the answer is perhaps NOT giving in on the weekend, NOT eating three spoonfuls of cookie dough. I haven't even had ice cream this year, except for that homemade stuff in Connecticut, in January. So we agree, it's not fair. But stomping my feet and making excuses for my post-menopausal bad metabolism isn't getting me into smaller jeans. So something needs to change, and I think it's the patience part. I tell myself, "You were good yesterday, it didn't kill you, you can do it again today." I need to just keep doing this, along with the exercise.

And here's the thing: the keto diet didn't really work for me. It helped curb my appetite for sweets, kept me satisfied, but didn't help me lose weight after the initial ten pounds or so. Lower carbs helps, but when I was really dropping the pounds, I was eating oatmeal every morning. I think I need to count calories more, and maybe cut out some of the half and half...and coffee is my favorite...I'm thinking of substituting iced tea for that third cup of the day, ha.

Weight loss, the cursed obsession in the land of plenty. Everywhere you go, everywhere you look, things that are horribly food and fountain drinks, sweet and salty bags of artificial happiness. Making good choices isn't impossible, nor is it really more expensive, but it takes lots of self-control, and definitely is more work. Being prepared for a day of out and about is essential, or those golden arches will start to glitter...and the the taste of a plain apple compared to 2 for buck apple pies at McD' just have to re-learn what tastes good. The additives and seasonings are addictive...and come on, is there anything that can compare to an Oreo? Or kettle chips?

Oh I don't know. I just know I am going to work hard at saying NO, and eat plenty of good stuff...last night I had a big plate of spinach, with a slice of ham for dinner, and it was good. :)

So my focus for now is to continue in doing what I know is good, eating all the healthy things, but saying no 100% to the things I shouldn't have...not much different than I have been doing, just narrowing down that margin of...having something yummy...

It's going to be 80+ degrees today, hmmmm...beach? It sounds lovely. Lydia is supposed to come over, but little girls like the beach too, right?

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

the empty slate of a day...

What will be written here, on this empty slate?

Something I have been thinking of was on a little facebook video, a guy talking about the 20 billion dollar diet industry. He says they don't want us to know that it takes three things to lose weight.
1. Create a calorie deficit.
2. Strength training two or three times a week.
3. Patience.

He said #3 is the most important, because if we don't get immediate results with #1 and #2, we give up, and are depressed. I haven't started any strength training yet, but am working hard on #1 and #3.

Oh, and do you want to hear something really funny? I thought of this last night in the shower, and I was in there laughing to myself like a crazy woman...remember the other day when I was so distraught because of Paul's "I don't know" reply?'s the question I had asked him, and I do not lie...."The new toilet seats are really nice, thank you. Were they expensive?" Seriously. It was about the toilet seats. They ARE really nice, by the way. I can't figure for the life of me what was wrong with that question, ha. I was thinking about how much of a change it makes in the bathrooms, and for probably just a small amount of money, but maybe I came off as being snarky, who me? (I guess I had been ever so gently nagging for new ones for a while now...) I don't know. But I am thankful that God is good, and we don't have to get divorced just because we are put together so differently.

Lydia is such a sweetums. I took this when I was going to change her diaper...she then took my phone and looked at herself and laughed.

It's amazing how the heart can so completely love so many kids.

Today it's going to be warm out, tomorrow downright hot, in the eighties. 65 and sunny is good enough for me, but I'm not complaining. Our kitty had kittens, they're a week old, and in the little girls' room. They want to keep one, had me worn down, but Paul asked incredulously, "Why do we need ANOTHER cat, we have two?" No one had a good answer to that question. :)

I don't have any trips scheduled for the near future, except for the cabin in the Adirondacks at the end of June. It should be pretty sweet, as my kids from the west coast should be coming...Ben and Ashley and little Anya already have plane tickets. The nurses try to get as much of the week off as they can, and Abigail already took her vacation to go on a cruise with Grandma but might take the week without pay. If all the kids are there it will be amazing, it's been a few years since all of them have been together at the same time.

Paul is going to India in a few weeks...I do not wish to accompany him there, no offense to anyone who lives there. The traffic would scare the life out of me. But of course if he did invite me, I would go. I am not longing to go there though.

Kathryn is getting ready for work, and Miss Char is up, so off I go...

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

too busy to blog? nah!

With Sam home, every day is a party. This fine morning, I made the bacon, and Jonathan made the scrambled eggs. We wrote a list of guests for Jon's upcoming birthday celebration, and decided on what food to make. Sam chose a gift to order for him. I left with Char and Cam for gymnastics, Sam and Margaret (she had the day off from work) brought Lydia over to Emily's house, where Kathryn was working...oh, it's confusing, isn't it? Anyway...we went to the thrift store first, Char, Cam, and I. We found Nike shinguards, a pair of really sweet Reebok sandals for one of the boys, a few shirts for me.

After gymnastics, we went to BJ's for coffee, half and half, walnuts, flaxseed, and coconut oil.

Home...ah, home. It was busy! Dinner for 13...ham and applesauce, salad, and baked potatoes.

The older kids all went to the youth meeting, just Char and Cam and Lydia and Paul and I are here. Lydia is eating graham crackers and fussing...she is getting tired. She is so funny, she is only a year and a half, and she repeats so many things, and says, "shoes off, let me see it, uh-oh!, go bye-bye, baby, look it!, ba-ba, daddy, mommy, down da slide, SONJA!!!(Onya!), kitty", and lots of other jibber jabber.

She keeps busy. I honestly don't know how I raised 16 did I manage? I know I am old, but at this time of night, ha 8:30, I'm tired!

Monday, April 24, 2017

the victim....

The definition of the word victim: A person who is harmed, injured, or killed as a result of a crime, accident, or other event or action, or someone or something that is harmed by an unpleasant event.

Victim mentality: I am not going to look up the definition of this, but I think we all know what it is. And perhaps we don't realize that we all suffer from it, to some degree. In my mind, it's this: to suffer because we perceive we have been wronged. Usually we've done absolutely nothing, then someone else says something rude, hurts our feelings, makes an innocent comment, and oh starts the thoughts going, and poor me.

It's very clear, on paper, or in theory, to see the foolishness of this. But when you're actually in the midst of it, it's very hard to determine what's really going on, and to get free from it.

I have a husband of few words, unless he's talking about history, war, sprints, making bone broth, or deer hunting...or podcasts on any of these things. Sometimes he's talkative, and we cover what's going on with all the kids, and it's good. But other times, I say something to him, and he has something on his mind, and he just says one of two things, "uh-huh", or his classic, "I don't know." He says this in a very final way, as in, End Of Conversation.

So he and I, we've been through all this before, and I already know he isn't being like this to be mean, he DOES love me, yet...when it happens, ouch. It hurts my feelings, makes me feel insignifigant. Then before I know it, I'm thinking of all the things he's said in the last few weeks to back up my case, he really doesn't respect me. He doesn't care. Then he asks me a question, and I think, in the spirit of giving him a taste of his own medicine, to answer him, "I don't know". He just looks puzzled, because we all know that I have a million things to say about everything, he has no idea in the world that I was hurt when he answered me this way earlier. No idea.

So my case is building against my husband in my mind. I'm hurt. I am the victim. Then, oh no, one of my daughters is rude to me. Now EVERYBODY hates me! Poor me!

So what do I do? Go jump off a cliff? Keep in mind that it's these bitter thoughts, these bitter roots, that we are warned against...(I'll start at verse 12, because this is such good stuff! Hebrews 12 12: "Therefore strengthen the hands that hang down,and the feeble knees, 13: and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated but healed. 14 Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: 15 looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness sprining up causes trouble, and by this many become defiled.")

This morning, I took a nice long walk, thank you Duke for waking me up at ten minutes to six. On this walk, I thought about things. It seems so real, so important, how we are perceived, how we are treated. We know to turn the other cheek and to forgive, but when we are in the middle of feeling so wronged, it's not easy. But for myself, I know. I KNOW when I'm treading down the wrong path in my thoughts. I happen to have a very sweet and kind husband, and I know I am very blessed in that. But that doesn't mean we magically get along perfectly. There are trials. And when these things happen, what do I do? I truly believe that if I gave in to these thoughts, continued to give him tastes of his own medicine, hardened my heart...things would go very very badly.

So I know what to do. I humble myself. I need to pray, I need to thank God that I have had the grace to see how I am, and to really learn what it means to be good. Because it's SO easy to be good when the sun is shining and the tails are wagging.

Of course I am just giving an example of what I have been struggling with, and not trying to put Paul in a bad light. He's a good guy, very kind and responsible, a caring man.

And all of this makes me very very thankful. And it gets me thinking...perhaps I have been an idiot, maybe all of my own actions and comments aren't perfect and kind and gentle. Maybe, just maybe, I have been a tiny bit offensive, ha, as unbeliveable as that may seem.

And you know, standard marriage advice: talk to each other! So later, I'll try to bring this up...and he'll probably have no idea what I'm talking about:) But if I get things sorted in my own mind first, and don't go into the converstation accusing him of being a huge jerk, it will probably go a teeny bit better.

So these are the battles that must be fought! I walked down the road this morning, and saw a deer, and a John Deer tractor, and a few cows, and lots of wild flowers in the woods, and tulips in the neighbors' yards. The air was cool and fresh, and there was green everywhere. I was walking. I am alive. It is a day of grace. And I am thankful I know better than to let myself drift into bitterness, by God's goodness.

Today is a good day. It's going to be warm and sunny, and I have to take a quick trip to the library. Sam is home, and he is up for some fun days with the homeschool kids. I already know that these days with him will quickly fade into good memories, as he has to get a job soon, and will be going to college, and will get too busy.

So today, I will be thankful.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

all by my lonesome....

Here's the thing: I love my kids. Of course I do! And I won't be redundant and list all the blah blah blah reasons for this, but I will just say this: sometimes, just sometimes, this mama longs for a wee little bit of quiet time.

Because I am nice. I am too nice to just go in my room and shut the door, especially when older kids come to visit. I am too nice to sit here on my computer when the kids are up and about and wanting/needing attention. I am too nice to go anywhere without taking whoever wants to come with me, especially because I know the value of one on one time, or more realistically, one on two or three or four time, ha.

So yesterday, I felt a strong longing for quiet time. I know, I know, I am lucky to never be lonely. My mother used to tell me all the time that someday I would miss the slamming of doors as kids went in and out, and the constant background noise, even the fighting. But that knowledge of what the future might hold doesn't negate the feeling of overstimulation that comes from never ever being all by myself. It isn't anyone in particular, it's the constant barrage of input, of conversation, of interaction, leaving me unable to ever even think a full thought.

So anyway, yesterday morning Emily came over and picked up Evelyn, Suzanne, and Sonja for a day of waffles, hiking, and going out to lunch. Samuel was here with Kathryn, who had the day off from work, Jonathan, Charlotte Claire, and Camille. Sam needed to go out and about for a few things, and I couldn't accompany because I was waiting for the guy to come look at the septic pump. Sam took them all with him...only Joseph was here, and he was working. I delighted in the silence. I swept up and did dishes, then sat down with a book...then the guy called and said he was on his the time I finished talking to him about the repairs (he has to come back today), Sam was home with the kids.

We needed things from the store. I offered anyone and everyone to come, but they had already gone out with Sam, and wanted to stay here and hang out with him. So, poor me, ha, off I went! I stopped in Walmart first, and pawed through the bra racks, trying to find my size (what do big girls DO? It's so hard to find a bra! And when I look around me, I don't see just small girls, so why do the bra sizes reflect only smaller women? I do not get it.)(And in Walmart, of all places! One would think....rrr.)Anyway, I tried some one, and actually found one that might work. I did all this without apologizing to anyone or any kids, ha, and I took my sweet time. I looked through the tank tops and found a few for summer, and I looked at the baby section to find a little something for my brother's new grandson, baby Elijah. I found some sweet things for little Lydia, too. I bought her THREE $3 dresses, with no teenagers telling me their opinion of that.

Then to the grocery store...I have gotten used to shopping with kids who can run and get things I forgot to get, so I found myself backtracking here and there, but it was not too shabby to shop all by my lonesome. I could think thoughts, and I didn't end up buying snack crackers and Buffalo pretzels, or bulk candy. I could talk to the cashier without any eyerolling going on behind me, and I loaded up the van just the way I like, cold things near cold things, ect.

The best part was thinking thoughts with no interruptions. Years ago, I remember envying Paul his commute to and from work, because he had that time all to himself. In those days, if I wanted to think a thought, I had to set an alarm for the middle of the night, but I never did that because I always had a baby that would wake me up anyway, and I remember enjoying those times of quiet, tired as I was.

The grass IS always greener, and we do tend to wish for whatever it is we don't have, but some quiet time once in a while is golden. With so much going on with each of the kids, and the fact that this has been their school break, I needed it. I didn't listen to music, I just talked to God, and thought about things.

This fine morning, Duke woke up at 6:30. On a SATURDAY MORNING. Paul got up with him, and I felt guilty, but I still stayed in that comfy bed...then I smelled coffee...and I just couldn't fall back to at 7:30, up I got. And here I sit. The floors need sweeping, and ect, but here I sit. Paul is getting things packed up for the dump, and I feel lazy and bummy, but here I sit. In less than and hour, I am leaving to help Emily prepare/cater lunch for a planning meeting of 50 people. We are making salads with steak or chicken, and garlic bread.

My coffee is almost gone, and the day is starting...Sunny and Suri are out "helping" Paul get things in the truck, Duke snores blissfully. He can't hear anymore, so when Paul asked who wanted to go Bye-Bye, Duke just slept on. He can barely get in the truck anyway.

So this is my life...a chunky middle aged lady who blissfully wanders around Walmart all by herself...delighting in stopping at Dunkin and only ordering one coffee...yet tomorrow when the house is full of older kids visiting and younger kids vying for attention, laughing and joking and arguing, the coffee brewing and the dinner table overflowing...the dogs excited and wagging tails spilling drinks, I will be in heaven.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

out of the Army!!!!!!

He's out!!!! He is not really completely out because he is using leftover leave days until his official contract ends, but for intents and purposes, he is done. He had a nice ceremony, got a plaque, and said goodbye to his buddies...and yes, I cried.

After packing the rest of his stuff in the back of the minivan, we headed north...saying goodbye to Washington D.C...and the base...for probably the last time. As excited as Samuel was, I think it was sad for him too. It was home for almost three years.

We found our hotel in Maryland, checked in, then walked to a Chipotle for some dinner...we also bought a bottle of Australian wine to celebrate. Back to our room...ahh. Sam, Evelyn, Jonathan, and I...we had a relaxing evening...they played Monopoly, which is now a video game.

This morning after a terrible hotel breakfast, we headed home...and made it by 5:00 p.m. Aaaahh...home! I made spaghetti for dinner, including a spaghetti squash for me, instead of pasta.

Then Sam asked for his Easter basket...and ha, we got him a bunny...

It was sort of a joke, because when he was little, he always wanted the BIG BIG BIG chocolate bunny...this one is two pounds of hollow chocolate...and shh, since he came home AFTER Easter, I got it half price. He liked it well enough! He let us open it right up...we shared with Lydia!

So Sam is finally home. Margaret and Adrian came to visit with their puppy, which is always fun and also crazy, as she likes to pee here and there, even though she is mostly housebroken at their place. Plus, she and Sunny like to run and wrestle. Sunny went out and got totally muddy...Sonja K. gave her a bath. The floors were so muddy too, I have mopped twice since being home this afternoon. We got dinner cleaned up, and now Lydia is reading stories with Camille and Evelyn. Kathryn, Suzanne, and Sonja K. went to the Dollar General in town (are they in every town now??!) to get something or is school vacation, and they are planning a fun night of scary movies with Sam...finally. They have Sam here. Jonathan is in heaven. He has already been shooting airsoft rifles with Sam, and has been helping him put all of his boxes away. Kathryn so nicely is moving out of her room, in with Suze, to give Sam a place, it WAS his room three+ years ago.

Anyway, never a dull momoent. Paul got home from work during all the fun and excitement, and just to add to the fun, the alarm on the septic pump was going off. The switch is burned out again, and we are hoping the pump isn't ruined. I have to call the guy tomorrow. Then Paul had to leave for a meeting.

Tomorrow night, Paul is planning on going fishing with Sam and Jonathan and maybe Adrian. So many of us are so glad that Sam is home:)

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

just do it!!!!

I spoiled myself, bought fresh makes an ordinary salad delightful.

Here's what I decided: Nike is right. Just do it. I can't wait until I WANT to go on a walk. Likewise, I can't wait until I DON'T want to eat candy. I want to, I JUST DON'T DO IT. My goals and my temptations are at odds with each other, ha.

Mali Rose is my seventh child...she is a keeper. She is Lydia's mommy, plus she works full time nights as an RN at a hospital in the city. She's a good mama, and Lydia is a happy girl.

She brought me these flowers on Easter.

Lydia with the Labs...can you tell she put her own coat on?

Yesterday I was rather set on staying home. Evelyn had homework to work on, even though it's spring break. Char and Cam have cousin Danielle here, and were planning a tea party. But Sonja, she said she didn't want to just stay home all vacation, she wanted to DO something. So Mom to the rescue, we went to the Burlington Coat Factory. She found a pair of jeans, I found a few things for Jonathan's birthday, which is coming up at the end of the month. We then went to the dreaded mall, and Old Navy was having a good sale...I had to put a few things back, but got the little girls a few shirts for .97 each, and a shirt for me for five dollars. Then we walked into Sears, because I really need new bras, but...they were $40, buy one get one half off...still, $60 for two bras? Nah. We walked back out...I wanted to get home, anyway. But not before a quick trip to Price Chopper for pork chops ($1.29 a pound!), and a few really nice sirloin beef steaks (3.77 a pound). And grapes, lettuces, tomatoes, cheese, coffee.

We had pizza for dinner, I rolled out the crusts and Sonja "decorated" them. Jonathan grilled the steaks, Suzanne made the salad, aand I made a keto pizza, the one with almond flour and mozzarella as crust. We didn't NEED to have steak with dinner, but it was SO good!!!

And I was glad I made so much food, because a car pulled into the driveway, and Emily and Mirielle were visiting! Yay for lots of dinner!

Today Lydia is spending the day here, and Jonathan is going to a friend's birthday celebration. I'll be taking the girls to gymnastics, then the older kids will all be leaving for the evening.

And tomorrow, bright and early, in fact SO bright and early that it won't even be bright yet, Evelyn and I are leaving for Washington D.C./Arlington Va., to pick up Samuel! This time for sure, I hope!

At the dinner table last evening, we were talking about coping mechanisms. Paul says listing things you're thankful for helps, even basics like running water and the washer and dryer. Also having a small amount of quiet time to clear your head and be consciously thankful. Reading Viktor Frankl's "Man's Search For Meaning" is a good thing too. (He said when you can't change life, you have to change yourself). We also discussed exercise, and how you need to Just Do It. And this I loved: one daughter said to another daughter, "You were wrong (about something or other)!", and the other one replied, "That's okay, I don't mind being wrong." That, is a beautiful thing. Without humility, getting along with each other is impossible.

The little girls are outside without Sunny, and she can't for the life of her understand why they didn't take her. She thinks they made a bad mistake. She is lying in her spot on the top of the back of the couch, watching them from the window, whining and making a sad face. So out she goes.

But life ain't all sunshine and roses. I worry about a few of the kids, and I don't always get the respect I find myself feeling I deserve, ha, and the housework is redundant and boring, and the pounds aren't coming off. Some of my kids do not agree with our homeschooling the younger kids, and of course just being a mom can feel like the most thankless job in the universe. The kids come and go and leave trails of destruction. Paul suggested I get a job, and I feel like I am already drowning in busyness sometimes. I only mention these things to clarify that no one gets an easy ride through life, we all have our trials. When I sit here and write, I don't always mention the frustration of standing on that bathroom scale and DANG it again, it just won't go down, or how someone threw a load of clean laundry on the couch so they could dry their own stuff, and it wasn't quite dry and it's all wrinkled. You know, the clogged drains and the egg pan left dirty on the stove (no one did it!), and and and. :)

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Happy Easter!!!!

Homemade peanut butter treats...peanut butter, butter, a little bit of Nutella, confectioner's sugar...dipped in milk chocolate, and white chocolate...yum.

I also made some little molded bunnies and chicks, and cupcakes to put them on.

Miss Lydia, the Lydster. She loved the cuppycakes!

Her mama bought her a new dolly for Easter.

We had the traditional ham dinner, with applesauce, mashed potatoes, steamed green beans, asparagus, and rolls. The weather was nice, Paul went fishing with Jonathan and Adrian, and also took a little hike with Charlotte Claire and Camille. Margaret and Suzanne helped me fill the baskets...we set one aside for Samuel:)

I ate a few pieces of candy today, but I am done. No cupcakes, no rolls, just one homemade peanut butter treat, two small Reese's eggs, one jelly bean...the jelly bean was out-of-this-world good. Why did I eat it? Now my brain remembers the goodness of jelly beans, and I want to EAT AlL THE JELLY BEANS. Chocolate, marshmallow peeps, chocolate covered marshmallow eggs, malted eggs, Cadbury chocolate eggs...we have them ALL. And I WANT THEM. But, I am done. I had a little bit, and I am done. I KNOW own self, some people can handle it, I cannot. So I am done.

Oh, I don't care for sweets. When someone says that, I do automatically hate them, ha.

Torture. That's what my next week will be here. I will deny myself, I will get the sugar out of my system so it doesn't plague me as much, but I love it ALL.

Just the smell, the aroma, of an Easter basket full of treats...oh dear.

Jonathan, Abigail, and I took a sunset walk this eveing. It was Jon's idea, and it was a good one, it felt nice. I told him to bug me every single day to take my walk.

And, now it is bed time. Duke woke me at 5:18 this morning, a whole hour earlier than yesterday morning, so goodnight!!!

Friday, April 14, 2017

home...without sam....

The long ride's supposed to take under seven hours...but traffic!!! It was hard to say goodbye to Sam...his paperwork was sitting on a desk, but now he has a firm appointment to get things signed next Wednesday it is...!

We picnicked in the park with Sam before heading home. It's springtime in D.C.!

The Netherlands Carrillion, which was gifted to the U.S in 1954, in thanks for help during and after's quite amazing, and yesterday played the songs from each branch of service.

So we said goodbye to Sam and drove home...we were greeted by two happy dogs, and Duke, ha. And lots of happy kids! Kathryn and Evelyn left for the weekend, went to Connecticut, and the younger kids were at Emily's house, but are home now...Em took them for an adventure today, a hike and for ice cream.

My suitcase is still packed, and I'm ready for bed.

This is going to be a good weekend...tomorrow is Filling The Easter Baskets day, and we have lots of things to do here too. I need to go the store to get the ham for Sunday's dinner, and see if the kids still want to make half moon cookies for Easter. We also plan to make some little chocolate bunnies from the plastic molds.

I am refreshed and re-energized from my trip. So much time spent with Paul, it was nice! I missed the kids, and am excited to be back home...even though Duke will most certainly wake me up bright and too early.

And next week...another trip to Washington D.C.!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

and the answer is....:

Samuel cannot come home yet! His packet was sitting on a desk at battalion, and needs more signatures, so his date is now next Wednesday.

Sam and Paul...

It has been a nice visit though! We got here last night...we attempted to go to the grocery store, but ended up at a diner. Then this morning, we HAD to go to the store...bottled water, strawberries, pistachios, a few green peppers, and some peppered turkey lunch meat...for lunch. We had a picnic at the Marine Memorial with Sam.

In the background, the Washington Monument, and some of the tulips gifted to the U.S. from the Netherlands after WWII.

The trees! The springtime loveliness! The contrast of the beauty, and the almost too much.

We walked about 3 and a half miles today. The temperature was perfect, warm and sunny but not overly hot.

Samuel worked half a day, then we picked him up on base, and brought him back here to our hotel. He's watching a WWII documentary with Paul, of course. We went in the hot tub, and had our our room...a rotisserie chicken from the store, veggies, strawberries, and popcorn. :)

It has been fun and relaxing, but tomorrow we have to return Sam to base, pack up some of his stuff, then say goodbye...until next week, when I take another....roadtrip!!!

update....roadtrip...we found summer!!!!

Last evening after FINALLY arriving at our hotel in Fairfax Virginia...I will spare you the fun and adventurous details of getting on and off highways with five and six lane traffic...but we found the place. And we were hungry for dinner. So of course we googled the closest supermarket, because well, we like to eat healthy, ect. So I had it on my phone, and Paul had it on his phone, and...we followed his directions. Now, wandering around in heavy traffic isn't terrible when it's over 70 degrees out, and there are sidewalks. But when we had walked about a mile and asked a lady in a pizza shop for directions, and the store was where MY phone said it was, by then a mile and a half in the OTHER direction, I cried uncle and said we had to just eat a restaurant.

The Silver Diner is not giving me any money to say they are excellent. Organic, farm raised, local, fresh...and yummy. I had a burger with fresh spinach, tomato, pickles, and some awesome fries which I shouldn't have was so good. Paul had a turkey avocado sandwich.

I just had to stop and take a pic of how lovely the streetlamp looked shining through...leaves! We do not have any leaves on our trees yet, back in central New York state. We are watching the buds anxiously, trying to actually catch them opening and unfurling those baby green's always the same, one morning I'll wake up, and voila! Magic leaves. I know, it's science, but it's still a miracle every year.

So we drove south to admire and enjoy their leaves.

And. hopefully to pick up Sam. The packet of paperwork he was waiting for, had been completed for over a week, and was sitting in a stack on someone's desk. Seriously. Now he has to have sevreral people sign off on it, and he says one woman requires an appointment, and is like a combination of the lunch lady on the Simpsons and the TSA. I don't know if this is true, or if it's what he has heard from other soldiers, but I am hoping and praying he gets this done today, because tomorrow is Good Friday, and the base won't be conducting business like that, not until next Tuesday...we will be back home in New York by then, hopefully not without Sam. If he doesn't get these things taken care of today, we will be just going home tomorrow without him.

And he just texted me that he was sick last pray for him!

Today we are going to the city to see the cherry blossoms and museums. My feet are terrified, but the rest of me is excited.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017


Maybe I could forget to bring my phone, ha. Sorry, I'm just thinking about the juggling of things I have to manage while Paul and I take off for a few days...home issues are never too far away for them to MOM me, ha. MOM! The cat is limping! There's nothing to eat!!! Oh, and the arguments they have when I'm gone...I don't know if it's because I'm not here to smooth things over before they erupt, or if they just enjoy freaking me out long distance, :) I also know this: they love when I leave. I always give one particular girl my credit card, just in case, for emergencies. When there are pizza boxes, I know they had an emergency: there was nothing to eat!

So here's the thing: Paul and I are taking a trip down to pick up Samuel...our Army son. He has been stationed at Fort Myer, Arlington Va./Washington D.C., and is now at the end of his Army stint...he is SUPPOSED to get out tomorrow...he has taken care of all of his paperwork, but the Army has not yet signed off on their part. So, we have our hotel reservations, Paul took the time off of work, and we are going. But we may come home without Sam...oh, the Army. We are still going because A., we want to, and B., poor Sam, if he doesn't get out, the LEAST we can do is still visit him.

So in just a few hours, we will be going on a roadtrip! I do love roadtrips. I am not packed, not at all. The kids here are all figured out, with older kids stepping up. They have stacks of books and workbooks and things to work on, and never get bored.

Yesterday was a busy day...we went to the small city, to the department of motor vehicles to turn in some license plates. Then to the bank, to deposit some checks. Then to the thrift store where I found a pair of Tom's, off white lacy slip size, comfy, and only two dollars and fifty cents. There are very few shoes that fit my feet comfortably, so yay!

Then, to gymnastics class...and after that, hurry hurry hurry, brought the kids home, changed into jeans and sneakers and grabbed my concession stand hat...Evelyn and I went to the Carrier Dome to work the lacrosse game...home at 10 pm. Too tired to go to bed, just sat here with my feetsies up, staring into space, since the internet wasn't working.

Then Duke woke me up this morning at 6:11.

The days just fly by. In all these things, these trials big and small, which all people go through, I hope to be awake and get oil in my lamp. There is treasure to find, God is so interested in working in us! That still small voice that tells me perhaps it ISN'T someone else, perhaps it's ME being arrogant...being contrary...oh, there is so much sin, permeated right through us, so much to be cleansed from. When we walk in the light, life is so good.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

too much of a good thing....

Sunshine! Oh it was nice! A little more sunscreen next time, or perhaps just a little less sunshine...but hey, I was STARVED for it.

The Dukester...he was tried from trying to keep track of me all day. He HAS to be wherever I am. When I'm cleaning up the house in the morning, he moves from room to room with me, and it hurts my heart when he keeps getting up, so there I am trying not to leave the kitchen to put something in the living room....anyway, he had to be on the deck when I was on the deck, but it was too hot for him, so he would go inside and lie right near the door. He did not eat his breakfast yesterday, then wouldn't eat dinner, so I thought he was done for. But he ate his entire bowl of breakfast this morning. hmmm.

Sunny got covered in dirt and mud, of course, it was a good day for a puppy dog. She loves to run through the creek, and play with the kids. Jon shoots his airsoft gun, and when the little pellets hit the trees, Sunny is running to check it out. She just has a happy smile on her silly face all day outside. Paul gave her an evening bath, she doesn't even fight it anymore, Labs adapt to things so quickly. (she needs one every day these days)

Kim came over with Dani and Sean, they also homeschool. The girls decorated t-shirts, and played and explored in the back. The boys had light sabers and bikes and also went out to the way back yard. No one complained of being bored.

The day went by too fast, it was wonderful not to have anywhere to have to be, and to just enjoy being outside.

When Kim left, Evelyn wanted to go turn in a job application, so I asked her if we could go to BJ's too, because I needed a few things (coffee!). We weren't gone long, then we were, ahh, home, and it was time to make...dinner. I grilled pork chop rib things and hot Italian sausage, and we had salads and I sliced an orange for the girls. By the time I finished making dinner, I had the start of a headache, my eyes got worse...and worse...I don't know if it was the sun, or the grilling or both, but it was a horrible headache. It was pounding, and I felt sick to my stomach from the pain, took a few more ibuprofen, and went to bed early-ish...I woke up this morning and it was gone, but honestly, it drains me and I feel like I could crawl back to bed and stay there all day.

But I cannot do that. Today I have a few errands to do, and there is gymnastics, then I am working at the lacrosse game.

Today we have to decide if we are indeed going to Washington D.C. tomorrow, or not. Samuel has all of his paperwork filed and in order, but the Army has to sign off on things, and you know how efficient the government is. Sam thinks they might not have his things signed and ready for him to leave as scheduled on Thursday. So if we keep our hotel reservations and go down and visit a sad Sam who wants to come home and can't yet, it would be nice, but then we would have to go back again next week or whenever the Army lets him go...and there IS a chance he WILL be able to go on Thursday....

Anyway...the warm days are different now than they were a few years back...I still have kids who like to run barefoot and get filthy, but they can all shower their own selves now, except for the doggies.

We are thinking of re-doing our deck. Margaret's husband Adrian has been talking about it, and it's where we spend our time when it's nice out, so I really hope we can swing it. The deck is as old as the house (25 years), and has gotten splintery. If we re-do it, we can extend it a bit too, which sounds marvelous.

But there's always that to-do list...the Happy Homeowners. We still need some new windows, we need to replace the screen doors, and ect. New kitchen faucet, a few toilet seats, closet door...

Yeah, so Duke seems fine this morning, as fine as old Duke can be, that is. I went to bed with that headache, thinking maybe I would be calling the vet today. And ha, yeah, I need to put my dog down? But I don't have time today, with working at the Dome after gymnastics...and tomorrow, nah, tomorrow we're planning to leave for D.C.....maybe hmmm, Monday? I did imagine this conversation. And I may joke about putting Duke to sleep, but in reality, I cannot even think about it. It's spring again, and somehow, after he survived another winter, he deserves the nice weather.

Ah well, time to get these kids moving on some important math!

Monday, April 10, 2017

too much truth...

I'm learning, I really am....that sometimes it's wise not to say anything, when parenting teenagers. I said something I shouldn't have said to one darling daughter...truth, with no grace. Just because it's true, doesn't mean it has to be said.

Ah, the teen years. There is no one size fits all. There's no hard and fast rule. There's mostly this: if you feel you should say it, don't. Think about it first, and do NOT REACT. No matter what, do not just react to the following:
snarky comments
answering back
loud exaggerated sighs

If something really needs saying, I'm telling you, it's better for everyone if you have thought it out, and are very calm. Because a hormonal teenager isn't really looking for a fight, but my goodness, it seems like they are, and if you fall into the trap, you are going to find it gets sparky, really quick.

So let out your own loud sigh, and pray for some wisdom before you open your mouth.

In other news, besides a recap of our fun and exciting weekend (Monster Truck, Paul's birthday (avocado mousse!), all the kids coming for a visit (well, 13 of them!!!) Today is a nice day! We are planning to spend it outside, as much as possible. I am heading out to the deck with my coffee in just a few minutes. Jonathan is doing math out there, Cam is looking for a mystery to solve, and Sunny just ate an entire stick of butter!

Cam is already asking to go get ice cream this afternoon, give us a 70 degree day, and we think it's summer here in central New York state. Yeah, I have my tank top on. Sunshine, yay!!!!

Friday, April 7, 2017

if only....

If only I had lots of courage, and I was a photographer. I wouldn't be afraid of breaking in on solemn moments, I would have that fancy camera with the long lens, and snap away, without anyone think I was obnoxious. As it stands, I have my iPhone, and you would not believe how many of my kids resort to putting their hands over their faces when I so innocently try to get some good pictures.

They are getting better though. The parking lot pics and the selfies with them in stores, they tolerate...because they are seeing how time passes, and how it's nice to remember the fun times.

And this all leads me to next son Samuel is getting out of the Army! (I am at loss for the correct term for that...I can't say "graduating", and if I say, "discharged", it sounds like he's getting the boot, when in reality they offered him the moon and all the stars to re-enlist). His time is up, he's getting out, and if things go according to plan, Paul and I will be down there at Fort Myer on Thursday for a little goodbye Sam ceremony! We reserved a hotel last night, we plan to leave on Wednesday, spend the day with him on Thursday if possible, then head home with him, and all of his stuff, on Friday.

It's one last trip to D.C., very bittersweet. I love that he's coming home, but it has been nice to take all the trips there. I hope we'll at least get a glimpse of the cherry blossom trees.

Oh, and my original point of this post...I hope I get some good pictures!

Anyway. Yesterday we stayed home, did some math and reading. I cleaned out a closet, and let me just ask this: how do we accumulate so much stuff, and why is it so unorganized? I love organization! When I look at pics of someone's craft area all neat and in rows and bins, I almost want to cry, I love it so much, but I am not able to keep things that way myself. I try. So I tried with this closet's our pantry closet. I took everything out, vacuumed and wiped down the shelves, and honestly, I just did all this last year, so it's not been that long. I organized it because I was going to make cookies, and the ingredients were in a jumble, and I knew I had more flour...well, turns out I have six bags of flour, ha. The baking bin is all neatened up, the tomato sauces are all in one place, the soups are in another, ect. It's very nice now, but the key is keeping it that way...

We also went through the grow, shoes get shabby, so they need weeding out occasionally. Winter boots can almost be put away, but not actually snowed last night, and is rain/snowing right now! Duke was barking before the sun came up, and when I got up to let them all out, the deck was covered with white stuff!

Paul's birthday is on Sunday, and we are having lasagna. Two of my girls are in an interest group at church, and are making lasagna as a fundraiser, so YAY, I don't have to make dinner on Sunday! Tomorrow is one of my non-favorite events, the Monster Truck Jam, at the Carrier Dome. Our church is working there as a fundraiser, in concessions. It's loud. But it IS rather cool, they truck in tons and tons of dirt, and cover that floor that is usually hosting basketball, football, or lacrosse games...then those huge trucks come in and is cool. I do feel bad for the prices of the things our stands sell, but we can't do anything about it. Families get these tickets, $15 for kids, then can't bring any food in with them, and are sort of stuck paying $4 for a hot dog, $5 for pizza.

Anyway, it's Friday, and I'm always glad for Fridays, it means I'll see more of Paul, more of the school kids, and maybe Margaret and Adrian...Emily and Mirielle aren't working their R.N. jobs this weekend, so hopefully I'll see them. (Mali flew down to Myrtle Beach for a little vacation with Lydia and Zach). Weekends don't mean sleeping in anymore, not for as long as we have Duke, no, he's an early bird. He just gets all out of sorts once he's awake and no one human is out here. He follows me around when he's awake, but lately, that's not very often. He sleeps for most of the day.

It's nice to feel better, this cold is winding down. My stomach hasn't been great lately, and there are things going around. I haven't been actually been sick, but have just felt sick, if that makes sense. In any case, I really don't mind hunkering down and staying home in this gloomy wet weather...

Thursday, April 6, 2017

april showers bring may flowers...

and April floods bring lots of mud. ha. But here in central New York, you'll hear this: "At least it's not snow."

My one dollar sunglasses, before I left for the library yesterday...sunglasses in central New York...ha.

Camille Anaya, just because she's cute. We went to the grocery store after the library yesterday, and they had fluffy blankets marked down to six dollars...she chose one that's the same color as Sunny, and came with a soft teddy bear.

The's just such a nice place. We part ways after returning our books, after I find a few I go find the kids. Yesterday, Miss Char was already reading a book she found, sitting at our usual table. Camille was sitting on the floor in one of the rows, flipping through pages and deciding. Jon found some books and joined us at the table. After everyone found a few good ones to read, we chose some non-fiction books to learn lots of things from. (Yesterday we chose some colonial America books, and one on Israel) On the way out of the library, Camille announced that she got the same plastic bag as she brought in! There were four bags, I put them in my purse after we returned the books, then pulled them out to put the new books into. I said to her, "Now what's the chance of that?", and Char yelled, "25%!" So they're learning, ha.

The grocery store...we tried to skip through there as fast as we could, and we didn't do too badly. I try to connect with the kids during these outings, instead of just being focused on what I need to get. I question them on how much per pound something is if it's $5.29, buy one get one free, ect. I think it's a good real life skill to be able to figure things like that out quickly in your head. It's interesting to see what methods they use, how they come to their answers.

Anyway. Home is always nice after an outing, and yesterday we weren't gone very long. Home with a stack of library books is especially nice. I put on a pot of coffee, we put away the groceries, then the school kids came in. Jonathan grilled the burgers for dinner, yay Jonny!

Today, we are staying home. We are going to do lots of math, then have reading time, and maybe an Easter project.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

and what shall we say?

Sometimes I walk around with things running through my head, and can't wait to sit down and write, but other times I can't think of a stinking thing to say. But this fine morning, let us just see....

Yesterday, we were headed to the small city for some lunch, and a trip to the thrift store, when Margaret called...she lives half an hour north of here...she didn't have to work, so she wanted to do something. Of course we could wait for her to get here!

We went to Moe's for lunch, because it's reasonable, and the food is healthy-ish, if one doesn't eat too many (or any!) of those chips and homemade salsa. I ordered the salad with just a small bit of cilantro rice...and only ate half of it, brought the rest home to Sonja. :) Anyway. I had Margaret, Jonathan, Charlotte Claire, and Camille with me, and the girl at the register asked if they were all my kids. Yes, I told her. Wow!, she said. That's a lot of kids! So at the risk of mortifying those four I had with me, I said, "This is just 25% of them, actually." She was no math whiz, she looked very confused, and how many do you have?

Now, contrary to what my teenagers believe, I try not to start this particular discussion, as it's sometimes rather embarrassing, depending on how shocked/surprised/LOUD the questioner is, and sometimes people can even be rude about it. One lady said, "You must be crazy." True, but that has nothing to do with it. Several have said, "Better you than me", which obviously with that attitude, it IS better me than them. But anyway, I try to just move through life like a regular person, which is much easier these days, since I don't actually have ten or twelve or sixteen kids with me everywhere I go, ha. But sometimes, you just have to tell I told her. And she was shocked/surprised/LOUD. I smiled sheepishly at Margaret, said, "Don't kill me."

But this lady was nice about it too. I ordered water with our meals, and she said, "You can just have soda, it's fine." um...ouch, but Jonathan was halfway to the soda machine, he didn't need to be told twice. Then she gave me four free meal coupons for another day. She said, and I quote, "I just fee so bad for you...I mean, they're beautiful kids, but still!"

I don't know whether to laugh or to cry, but I took the coupons anyway.

Our next stop was the thrift store...Cam found a nice pair of work out pants and a top, and a pair of Adidas slides.

Gymnastics class was fun, Char "has" her back handspring! It's a beautiful thing.

Home...ha, home. I had put corned beef in the crock pot, so I cut up some red potatoes and put them on to boil. Some of the kids, and Paul, don't care for corned beef, but it was only $1.49 a pound, and some of us love it. I didn't make any alternate food, if they don't like it, they can make whatever they want. :)

Anyway...I have been behaving as far as not eating cookies, or's so hard! I stay away from carbs like the plague, except for some of those chips yesterday.

Today we are having a break from the rain, the yard is a muddy soggy sponge, but at least it's not pouring out. I am not sure what is on our agenda today....

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

just go away!

Rain rain, I don't mind, but the yard is a soggy sponge. The dogs are even skeptical, Sunny whined at the door this morning, the other two joined her, and of course I let them out. They bolted out the door and just stood on the deck. I watched them from the door...Duke went down and peed, the other two just stood there in the rain, then started to whine again, to come back in. I have a towel on the floor inside the door, and they are trained to just come in the door and sit, so I can wipe 12 paws and three backs, and give out treats. Sometimes a certain Sunny sneaks past me, bypassing the towels for something she thinks is more exciting, leaving a trail of muddy prints...but we are working on it.

They are now fed, dried off, and snoring peacefully.

Here's what I made yesterday:

Peanut butter cookies! I tasted one, but that's it. The girls saved some in baggies for school lunches, and Molly took a few to work. She came to visit, then left little Miss Lydia with us for the evening.

Lyd does not get bored. She eats Puffs, and finds toys to explore, and chatters the whole time. Some sayings are clear as a bell, like, "Wow!", and "Look at that!", but then she also talks in whole sentences and paragraphs that certainly mean something to her, but not quite to us yet.

She discovered the fun of emptying the book shelve, one book at a time. She was bringing them across the room to Jonathan, who was sitting on the floor trying to get her to sit with him to read the books...she just kept bringing new ones. (Notice how huge my "baby" Camille (Aunt Camille, ha!) is getting?)
Lydia won't be two until August, and she is so smart and so delightful.

A little bit of springiness...the mirror is from the thrift store, the first vase there is from the thrift store but was an ugly green, I chalk painted it the pale aqua, then coated it with polyurethane...the next vase, the gray one, was made by one of the kids in high school ceramics and painted green and orange, so I chalk painted that too...and the little glass jar, also. The aqua bowl - dollar store!

And here is what homeschool looks like sometimes...

Jonathan with some mac & cheese...notice the "broken cupboard" in the's actually it's real name, The Broken Cupboard. The sad thing is that I found an old photo from when Evelyn was a toddler, standing in front of it, and it had already earned that name...and Ev is 17 years old. So the door broke off, and we just set the door in front of the cupboard...when I tidy up better and make sure the stuff inside the cupboard is in there properly, it looks better...and The Potholder Drawer is opened because I was in the middle of baking the peanut butter cookies...

Miss Charlotte Claire decided to get cozy to eat her bowl of yumminess.

Camille at her food properly at the table because she was in the middle of an art project.
Notice behind her, the small refrigerator from the camper, brought in when the big one wasn't working. Still sitting there. And the frame of that window...that's the first one Paul installed several years ago, he accidentally used a new building window instead of a replacement window...and it's still like that. I think of it like this: It hasn't killed me yet, so it' won't kill me today. But sometimes, it bothers me. It's just not on the top of the list, I guess. We still need more new windows, and have to replace the furnace this year...I am not complaining, I'm just saying there are always priorities, ha.

I just thought I would post a few "real" pics...I WISH I lived in a perfect house, but we don't. And I'm thankful for it anyway.

Today we are going out and's Gymnastics Class day, and we also need milk and coconut oil and fruits and veggies. I was thinking of taking them to Moe's for lunch, because I have a free coupon for Charlotte...

Monday, April 3, 2017

just sick...and it's all my fault...

I did manage a nice walk yesterday afternoon with Abigail, our second oldest daughter.

But, I'm sick. Just a bad cold, stuffy and aching head, that miserable want-to-crawl-into-bed-and-feel-sorry-for-myself feeling. I don't get sick very often, and honestly, last week, I was rather marveling, very stupidly, over how other people always seem to get sick, and I remain fine. It wasn't exactly a PROUD thought, I was just wondering about it. Then I got the headache Friday night, and the stuffiness...getting up with Duke this weekend was no picnic, ha.

Anyway. I had a nice weekend anyway. Mirielle came to visit on Friday afternoon while I was making oatmeal cookies. I toasted the oats first, but it wasn't a very good recipe. I wasn't making them for me anyway, they were to cozy up the house so the kids could come home from school and have cookies, and be warm.

So Paul came home from work and told me he was taking me out to dinner, he had made reservations for 6:30. He said Abigail reminded him that he was in India for Valentine's Day, and Ireland for our wedding anniversary. (wow, thank you Ab!). It was a happy evening...and it was a nice restaurant. I had fried haddock, the only kind of fish I actually like, and it was perfection. Paul shook his head at me for forgetting my glasses, he had to read the menu to me...then when the waiter took my order, he asked me, "Soup or salad?", and I thought he was offering, "Super salad", and I said, "Yes, please.". Then Paul said, "Which one do you want?", and I got it. oops.

But it was a nice meal, a glass of wine, then coffee and we split a fresh homemade cannoli. It was tasty, but way too small.

Saturday, Paul went out to set up a trail-cam where he deer hunts, and I had four little girls having a good time here...Miss Char and Miss Cam had cousin Dani and friend Amanda over, it was a sleepover! Well, Evelyn wanted to go to the thrift store, so Suzanne said she would look after the girls for a bit and help them make slime (with foam balls and glitter, what a mess!). Evelyn, Sonja, and I went to the thrift store...I was happy, I found a shirt for myself for a dollar fifty, a few pretty woven Easter baskets, three nice Barbies still in the boxes, and a few other nice clothes for the kids...all the clothes were 50% off.

Home...and time to make the pizza. I always make a keto pizza in addition to the regular ones we make, with almond flour and mozzarella cheese crust.

The two pepperonis...

Peppers and onions, bacon, and pepperoni. I didn't take a pic of the keto pizza, but it was good.

Yesterday, I stayed home alone...all alone, with the three doggies, and the two kitties. I was not feeling horrible, but too sniffy for church, I didn't want to share the cold with all the babies there. So I swept and mopped and dragged the sewing machine out. I re-covered two throw pillows I had bought at the thrift store (they were really clean, smelled good, no stains, but I put them in the dryer first anyway.) I washed dishes, made a batch of chocolate chip cookies...

And, since it was so nice out, the sun shining and temperatures in the fifties, I swept off the deck. Paul and some of the kids had left with Suri and Sunny, to go on an adventure/hike on a little island not too far from here, with fishing poles. (Sunny jumped in the pond, swam out, and stole the bobber)(she's bad:)). The dogs came home exhausted, muddy, and happy. Sunny needed a bath, but she's getting used to baths.

Abigail came to visit while most of the family was gone, and it was pleasant. We sat out there on the deck for a bit, soaking in the sunshine and trying to ignore the chilly wind, ah springtime in central New York.

Then dinner...I had put two roasts in the oven, with carrots. The girls wrapped some potatoes in foil and put them in to bake, and I microwaved some fresh broccoli. It was a very nice Sunday dinner....

Then later, we watched a few episodes of, "The Simpsons", and I made popcorn, the yummy kind in the big pan on the stove, with lots of butter.

This morning, I eyed the stack of popcorn bowls, and the pan, still sitting in the sink...the floors ALWAYS need sweeping, with three dogs in here, but especially in the morning. I cannot sit in my chair without sweeping first. So I swept. I wiped down the counters, and threw in a load of towels. Then I found myself here, wrapped in a blanket, sipping coffee. My head hurts, my throat hurts, I am starting to cough, and I am all stuffed up. But ha, I am as happy as can be. I am thankful I am homeschooling the three youngest, they are sleeping in to catch up from a very busy weekend, soon they will stumble out here, wrap in blankets, perhaps toast some waffles and make themselves a cup of tea, and we will look things up and talk about things, and do some math. Maybe we'll make it to the library later....

Friday, March 31, 2017

cozy 101...

We live west of Syracuse, with heavy rain still to come. It's gloomy, it's chilly, and yes, the fake fireplace is humming, what did we ever do without it? The forecast is dismal, isn't it? Sunday will be glorious, if the sun peeks out, never mind that a high of 49 isn't really very warm. Here in New York, it means shorts and windows open.

But today, it's cozy in here. I do wonder if I really like the gloomy days, or just decided somewhere along the line to embrace them, because the alternative is either move to California, or be miserable.

As I was taking a dollhouse person from a bad puppy this morning, I stopped to look at how this was set up. The daddy figure is checking out the 'fridge, one lady is vacuuming, and the other is holding a baby in the rocking chair. It's like what I always dreamed of, having someone to clean while I rocked the baby.

Sunny has a hard time minding her business when it concerns dollhouse people. She thinks they are just the right consistency for teething on. I got one from her, (thankfully Drop It works)...then she kept going over and nosing around, I kept telling her no, it's not for you...then she just flopped down in her little bed, head on paws, and sighed. She is no dummy.

Silly me, I was marveling at how people keep getting sick, and how come I haven't been sick in so long? Not that I wanted to be, of course, but maybe I am just a healthy person. harrumph. My head has been stuffy and dizzy lately, and yesterday the cold symptoms started in full force. A head cold is such a feel-sorry-for-myself sickness. It rather matches the weather today. I am thankful for tissues, and for hot coffee and tea. Last evening, for dinner, I made a really good pot of chicken soup. I chopped up and onion, some red peppers, some carrots, and some potatoes, into small cubes...browned them up nicely in olive oil, then added them to the pot where a nice sized container of chicken broth, some water, and the leftover chicken from the day before (all cubed up small), was simmering. I added lots of fresh cilantro, then after fifteen minutes or so, scooped most of it out. I made rice, and those pop and fresh biscuits, for the kids. It was so good, I want to make more!

Yesterday, I took the little girls to the craft store. We got our slime supplies...we want to make some with the foam balls in it. We went up and down the aisles, and picked out some springy flowers to bring out the coral color in the living room, and some coral chalk paint (ooh, what can I paint?). I let them get some of the modeling clay that will harden if you leave it out, and they are very excited about that. We got a few new mason jar candles, too. The nice lady at the register let me use two coupons, one for %50 off a regular priced item (the chalk paint), and the other %15 off the total, including sale stuff.

We then went to the warehouse store for pepperoni and half and half and Easter candy.

Then, Walmart! We needed liquid laundry starch for our slime recipe, and some pizza dough, and ice cream for Saturday night. The girls are having a few friends over for a sleepover!

Yesterday, I talked to my son Samuel for over an hour on the phone. I talked to Benjamin the day before. I love keeping in touch with the older ones. We are planning our 2017 summer vacation...we are renting the camp on the lake in the Adirondacks again! Getting out of the car and smelling the pines, the freshness of the air, seeing the lake right there in the front yard, the slamming of the wood screen door, running in to check out the now familiar cabin, the excitement of greeting the grown kids from far away...we bring so many snacks it's not funny, and I mostly let myself go...not completely, but I enjoy some wine and popcorn, and last year, I had Oreos. We eat snacks on the dock every afternoon in lieu of lunch, and even when it rains, we enjoy it all. I cannot wait.

And Sam is getting out of the Army so soon! Paul and I are going to drive down to his little exit ceremony. I asked if President Trump would be there, as Sam is a member of the Old Guard, Presidential Honor Guard. But I don't think Mr. Trump knows that Samuel exists. His loss, ha.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

some pictures, and some sewing

Emily stopped by after clinical yesterday, and took this pic of Jonathan and Sunny...where did our little tiny puppy go?

Where is Suri?

And here is Duke...he's pretty cute.

Evelyn played board games with the kids the other night...

Just a little springiness! I made new valances for the living room windows yesterday, and re-covered a few pillows to match. I like the coral color for spring and summer.

The other valances were just made in the fall, but I wanted something lighter for spring.

Getting out the sewing machine is always fun. It worked fine yesterday, not a single snag, it was lovely. Sometimes you just have those days when the thread breaks, it bunches, the bobbin messes up, but not yesterday.

Keeping the floors clean these days is challenging, with all the paws to wipe, not to mention the kids going out to play then coming in with muddy shoes, sneakers, or feet. But as you get older you realize that deja vous, yes, that sense of, "this AGAIN?", and you know it's temporary...the ground will dry, things will get better. It's really not a huge-o deal.

Easter is just around the corner. I have a small stockpile of candy, but want to get more. I won't be filling 16 baskets this year, but will make a small one for the three older girls who live in town, just a small one with good chocolate in it and not a lot of junk. They would rather not be eating candy, so maybe I'll put some protein bars and nuts in it. Samuel should be home for Easter this year, which is fun, because he was always the one who would help me wrap presents, fill stockings, and fill the Easter baskets. I have such good memories of that. And of him when he was four years old, he wanted a big big big chocolate bunny. He saw one in the store, I think it was called Grandfather Bunny. And he just kept saying he wanted that huge chocolate rabbit for Easter. So, I got it for him. The other kids never said anything about why they just regular sized ones, they were all just impressed with that one Sam got. I don't know why he wanted that so badly, but he got it.

The girls are all excited because they are having cousin Dani and friend Amanda over to spend the night on Saturday. They have big plans, and I let them decide on a DIY project to do with them...I think they are choosing to make slime. So today we are going to the craft store, yay! We want to make the stuff with the little foam beads in it, and maybe some glitter.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

what??! no photos??!!

I really need to start snapping more pictures. Yesterday, for example, was a wonderful day, and now I'll just have to describe it.

The kids were busy and didn't want to get ready to leave the house. The girls were playing in their kinetic sand. So of course we had to look up DIY recipes to make our own, which is now on our To Do list. Charlotte Claire was in and out of the house, rain doesn't bother her, she was practicing her back handspring. Jonathan is reading a good book, and was training Sunny and cooking breakfast. It was just the sort of day to just LIVE.

Anyway, they all showered and ate, and out the door we went...first to the thrift store. I found a nice little cooler, a small-ish one, that seems like it will be very handy in the summer. The kids found a Jeopardy! board game, and the game of Life, both in excellent condition, for just a few dollars each. They could not wait to get home and play. (Evelyn played a game of Jeopardy! with them after the youth meeting last night. Then she said, "Do you want to know a secret? I took a huge nap after school today!" Camille said, "No wonder you're so happy!")

They also found a few nice gymnastics leotards, and a pair of nice shorts.

Then a coffee for me, and a few donut holes for them, they knew they each got three and one was left over, and I did not want one (yes I did! yes I did! but I said NO, thank you, like a good girl!), but the girl gave two extra, and let's just say it does not take much to make them happy. Four each. It was a good day. They ate two, and saved the others for after gymnastics.

Then the dollar store...there were huge bags of stuffing for a dollar, and huge bags of croutons, and huge bags of mini marshmallows, and huge bags of chocolate rice crispy cereal, and some good Easter candy, and some nice bowls from Target, and a few useful things like onion powder and new salt and pepper shakers. (We plan to make the chocolate rice krispy treats for Easter, Sam will be home!)

And...gymnastics class...then, grocery store for dog chow, milk,cheese, broccoli, bananas, chicken, corn, oats (I don't eat them anymore, but the kids do occasionally).

While we were in the grocery store, Jonathan was online on my phone putting in a pizza order. The three homeschool kids get their monthly free pan pizzas through the reading program, and when you order online, the large two topping pan pizzas are $7.99. So Jon ordered two large, and the three personals, and we picked them up on the way home.

Now this is a fine plan for a ticket out of making dinner for the family. And it's a good way to make your kids totally and completely love you. They see those pizza boxes, and YAY! Although I think Jonathan may have leaked the info via snapchat.

The problem is, I am not going to just eat pizza right now. So I had to keep my eyes off the boxes, and make some eggs for dinner for myself. A lot of good it did though, I ate pretzels later while they were playing Jeopardy! dang it. But not too many, and I had a decent day, calorie wise. is a new day, one that started at 5:58 a.m., thank you Duke. I did go back to bed, although I shouldn't have wasted the time, for all the sleep I didn't manage to get, but my bed is warm and cozy, so I couldn't resist.

Now I am up, the sky is clear and blue, and it is cold, 38 degrees (3.33 c). I don't want to clean the house, AGAIN, but I want it to be clean, so I suppose I will take a whack at it. My laundry hampers are pretty empty, it's like after all these years, the laundry is caught up. Even the little girls know how to do their own laundry, although I help them a bit. Jonathan is a champ, he is learning how to hang it all up and fold his home clothes and put it all away. Now there were years, kids, I find myself saying, when there was a laundry mountain in the doorway of the laundry room. An actual mountain that one would walk up one side of and down the other, in order to get into that laundry room. The room itself housed all the clothes for all the kids, until they got old enough to decide they wanted their own things in their own rooms. I just found it easier to pick out school clothes for 9 kids all from one room, and when we all went somewhere, I would just pick out everything at once, making sure it all went together nicely, ha. I hung almost everything up, there are racks on all the walls. It got messy, oh boy did it ever. I would clean it and say that it would stay that way forever, but life was so busy. I would do laundry day in, day out, and never get to the bottom, because day in, day out, the kids were wearing clothes and the bedding pile would be added to even as I tried to get in at least one load of it daily. I remember standing in that room looking at every single hamper, all sorted...the whites hamper, the lights hamper, the darks hamper, the towels hamper, and then the mountain of bedding...and when there was a newborn, a small bin of baby clothes, because I didn't wash those with the other clothes yet...I would stand there trying to decide which hamper needed to be washed the most urgently. They all seemed to be screaming PICK ME! And more than once I wished I had more than one washer, more than one dryer.

But, as much as I couldn't imagine it happening, those days passed into memories.

Having babies and toddlers and school kids and teenagers and appointments and meals to make and papers to sign and and and, for all those years...even when I sat to put my feet up, I had a baby or two or three sitting with me. I do not regret a minute of it, but it explains why I still cannot believe it when I have times where there is nothing URGENT to take care of! Yes, I am still busy, and there are things to do...but the intensity of those years has softened into a lull of slow busyness. And I am still the mom of 16 kids..butmost of them are independent. When Evelyn Joy turns 18 this summer, that will be eleven of our kids, 18 and over, leaving only 5 under 18. Miss Charlotte Claire will be 10 in May, and she has only Camille younger than her, heck when Benjamin was 10, he had EIGHT younger siblings.

Yes, life has changed. Now I have more time, but I want to use it in a good way. Today, I may take the kids to the pool, maybe for a long walk to check out if anything is blooming in the woods yet. There were things sprouting during the last warm up, and the grass here is surprisingly green. We need this sunshine to dry up the mud, thus keeping 12 paws cleaner, ha.

And that is the end of today's ramble.:)

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

cloudy and gloomy?

Central New York state weather forecast...and I don't mind a bit. I don't like the muddy soggy yard, but the gloom is rather delicious. It's a hunker down and make soup sort of day. Jonathan just got back from a walk with Sunny, which I should have gone on, but I caved to the temptation of quiet, alone, morning time. A big steaming cup of coffee, the fake fireplace humming, and I'm good.

But staying home is not on the agenda today. It's gymnastics class day, and Charlotte Claire is very excited because she has been working on her back handspring, her aerial, and her front tuck (sumi). They do these things on the trampoline, and I can't even watch, ha.

But gymnastics isn't the only thing on the agenda...I have a bill to pay, license plates to turn in to the DMV, and the list for things we need at the store is chow, again, toothpaste, half and half, milk, fresh fruits and veggies.

I do not mind going out and about, in fact I really like it, but I also like to stay at home.

Here's something I have been thinking about. I know someone who used to be the most beautiful girl I ever saw. She was breathtakingly beautiful, and only a few years older than me, so I hated her, naturally. Not really HATED, but she was the type of girl who didn't even need make up. Some of us tried hard to be pretty, and she just existed and was gorgeous. We weren't close, and I haven't been in touch with her much over the years, but the great invention called Facebook keeps me updated of these friends. So. She has cancer, and I saw pictures of her the other day....and let's not get mean, because that is NOT my intention. I am trying to make a point that beauty is a fleeting thing, she is still lovely and sweet, but I was rather shocked at how she looked. And now of course she just needs to heal, and get well, and live! Who cares how she looks! And it just hit me how stupid we can be, to care so much about outward things, things that pass away.

I hope my teenage daughters can figure this out while they are still young. The young people these days are so prone to comparing themselves, and the instagram filters don't help. One of them was telling me about a girl from school who looked so good in her pictures, but in person was...well, different. I don't use those filters at all, they seem deceitful to me, but whatever. Anyway, the girls these days have so much social media to contend with, where they don't see the bad and the ugly, only the sides of people they want to present.

Girls want to fit in, they want to feel good about themselves, I get that. But to let those feelings of not being pretty enough, or thin enough, or popular, steal their joy! Steal what could be a happy youth time!

And you know, I have body image issues as well, I hate being fat! I say I don't care how I look, I just want to feel good, but I don't like the muffin top, and I don't like being limited in what I feel comfortable wearing, and I don't like to jiggle, ha.

So it's a work for me too, to see these things for what they are...the spirit of vanity is a thief.

Young people don't realize how quickly time actually flies. One day, you wake up, and look in the mirror to see an old lady there, with wrinkles and crinkles and those wiry grays sticking up out of the part.

Anyway. I have a list of things I want to accomplish this spring...some things we "need".

A new firepit for the deck, the old one served us well until it rusted through.
A new kitchen sink faucet, it's literally falling off. An nice one though, one of the classy tall ones. We seem to get the twenty dollar ones, and wonder why they are so junky.
New faucets for the bathroom sinks, they are so old and crudded up with hard water...
New toilet seats. We just need them.
A new screen door for the deck door. One of the dogs, combined with the snow/harsh temps of winter, has made a nice crack in it, and along with the mud from one bad dog jumping on it when she wants to come in, it looks pretty grungy.
Two more Adirondack chairs for the deck. We have other chairs, that aren't as comfy, and we play musical chairs with the two we have. Notice I only say two, we actually could use like six, but we're keeping it real here, ha.
We also need to replace the rest of our windows, we only did half of them last year.

I try to keep in mind with home improvements that it can be that same spirit of vanity, but it's still nice to have things comfortable. The firepit is a good investment because of the fun we can have out there, marshmallows and all. I also like to make the house inviting, so it can be a place people feel comfortable. If they don't like dogs, they are rather out of luck though:)

I do know that there is this lust to have more....a lust that never is fulfilled. The more we have, the more we want, type of thing. More, bigger, newer, the latest. It's like filling up a colander with liquid, it will never fill up and be satisfied. It's like getting a new phone, and loving it, until the day you start hating it, ha. But we can't take this stuff with us, and if my heart is just in it all, wound up in it, then I am not seeing things clearly, not working on the important things enough.

Sometimes when I see really nice houses, I wonder if the families that live there are happy. I think, "If I lived there, I would be happy.", I mean, how can you have any problems or trials if you lived in a really nice house? :)

Yesterday, I swept and mopped, and Jonathan vacuumed. The girls and cousin Dani were outside a lot, making a new fort out by the creek, and learning new tricks on the trampoline. Camille came in to get something and her feet were covered in mud. She just needed to run and get it quick, jeepers Mom. I made her dip her feet in a bowl of water and wipe them off. Yes, they were bare feet out there in the 55 degree weather, Central New Yorkers after a long winter. The dogs needed baths after keeping them company out there, too. (And you should see the lovely shanty out there by the creek...they scavenge and find these things...and I gave them a tin bucket to add to it...but they had so much fun...)

My coffee cup is sad and empty. The washer and dryer are humming and chugging, Jonathan is doing his own laundry. I need to get moving too.