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

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

and yeah, I was wrong....

As pointed out in a few comments from kind readers from Ireland, they DO flush their toilet paper. I misunderstood a sign, but also a coffee shop we went to featured a can next to the commode, full of used t.p. But who knows, maybe lots of people were crying and wiped their eyes, or had colds. Live and learn, and I just wanted to apologize for my mistake.

The older you get, the more you realize that things you felt so strongly about long ago aren't so important, and that you may even have been wrong about some things, or even a lot of things. So if you're thinking clearly, you pretty much know that if you feel strongly about something, you may well be wrong, based on what you've learned in life. So it's easier to see the other side of issues, easier to realize that there is more than one way to skin a cat. This is useful when one is a grandparent, this acknowledgement that I am not the Queen of Doing Everything Right. We tend to judge and measure all according to how we think things should be...

My little friend Anne is on her way over. I swept and mopped the floors this morning, did some laundry, and went on my walk. I have been waking up at 5:00 a.m.! It's still dark then, and this morning, very chilly. It was 33 when I got home from the walk, frost on the pumpkins for sure! Now it's cozy in here with the hot coffee, pumpkin spice, and the little fireplace on. The girls joggle each other for a good spot in front of it, Char has it right now. They have to fight with the dogs and cats for that space, too, ha. to bring Anne in!

Monday, October 16, 2017

no time to blog? what?!

But I did walk this morning!

Yesterday, we had a birthday party! Little Miss Anya Jade turned four years old! Here she is with Ben and Ashley, her papa and her mama....

Ashley is due with baby #2 next week, but she still managed to bring over the whole party...chips and dip and veggies and drinks and hot dogs and mac and cheese...and homemade cannoli dip!!!

Isn't that puppy cute? It's Margaret and Adrian's, a Boxador. They're having a baby in March, but now they have a puppy and a dog too...:)

This fine morning, I had to drive Samuel to the airport. He received a subpoena to testify in a trial against a former sergeant in the Army who is accused of abuse of authority, abuse of the soldiers. He has to meet with the prosecutor, and has been warned that the defense will likely try to paint a picture of the soldiers who are testifying against the sergeant as trying to get revenge, and it might be very uncomfortable.

Margaret had the day off of work today, so she came over for a visit with her new puppy. Joseph agreed to puppysit so we could go out and off to Target! I found some Christmas presents, and a pair of leggings for Camille. We were hungry and tempted to go somewhere for lunch, but decided to just come home and have a nice dinner. Camille cut tomatoes, Evelyn cut peppers, we had taco salad with black olives and that yucky jarred melty cheese (no, I do not eat it.). Ben and Ashley came for dinner too.

Life with kittens and puppies and small children visiting is fun, and busy. Tomorrow, baby Anne is coming over for the day. I will be on call for when Ashley has her baby, I will watch Anya. I hope it's not during the night, but if it is, it is, I am very excited to meet this new grandchild, our third grandchild, third granddaughter!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

the west coast of Ireland...

The Wild Atlantic Way...

We are staying at a little cottage up a narrow windy road, with stone walls and hedges, and cows, and a view of the sea....

This isn't the cottage but it's on the road to the cottage.

We may or may not have stopped in at a chocolate shop...

Fish and Chips!

Chips...they're just fries.

Coffee in Galway...

Back at the cozy cottage (don't you love the stairway?) We spent the day in the city...walking around, having coffee, then lunch, then an afternoon Guinness...which is not my normal, but hey, when in Ireland...

We came back here as the rain started. The little fireplace warmed it up, and we may or may not have a bag of pastries...I made some coffee, and here we are, almost packed to leave tomorrow to drive back across the green isle, all the way to Dublin to make our way back home.

Yesterday, we went to the Cliffs of Moher...

It was windy up there! And stairs! I walked up so many stairs! I'm glad I've been going on my walks every morning, so it wasn't so bad. It was so lovely...

After arriving at our cottage yesterday, after a long day of winding narrow roads, and beautiful views, we were hungry. We drove back down the lane to this place:

Right on the water!

A local brew from down the road...

A local cider....

Slow roasted beef and gravy over potatoes, with veggies on the was just the thing after a long day, and on a chilly night.

This trip has been interesting. It's been and adventure taking double decker buses in Dublin, and for Mirielle to drive on the wrong side of the road. We had to get used to the alarm system in the first apartment we stayed at, and figure out the shower, and how to lock the door, and how to start the car (there's a trick to it, we almost had to call roadside assistance but Mirielle figured it out!). We enjoyed the city today, but it was pretty touristy.

Things are different here. They don't flush toilet paper, and the sink spigots in the bathrooms, the taps, are usually two separate units, as if you want either cold water or hot water, and not WARM water. Seriously. Coffee, regular yummy not to be found. It's espresso. With...milk. Good thing we know to bring our own bag of Starbucks, some filters, and the pour through filter thing-y, and to buy the cream at the grocery store. The coffee in the shops is okay, but not just a real cup of coffee. But the people are friendly and fun, and we have had too many good laughs. Now, I'm tired, and we need to get ready for our last epic adventure...driving back across the country...:)

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

a day in Dublin....

The bus stop is right across from our apartment, so we kept the car parked and took the bus today, the double decker, and yes we sat on the top floor.

The first bus took us into the city, then we had to walk a few blocks and get on a different bus, to go to the Guinness factory tour. Lots of walking, and we found it.

We walked over a bridge and saw the River Liffey.

At the factory...

We learned the proper way to pour.

We stopped at a pub in Dublin for some late lunch...the beer was a local brew on tap, we finished the pints but not the pizza.

We don't even feel like having any now, but this seemed like a good idea when we were in Tesco.

All comfy cozy back at our little apartment, my feet up on the coffee table...reflecting on the day. It was confusing to figure out where we were going, but it was adventurous and the Guinness factory storehouse was interesting. The best part was pouring our own pint at the end, then drinking it on the 7th floor, with a view of the whole city.

The whole country of Ireland only has 4.7 million people. New York state has 19 million something, even without New York City, New York has 11 million. It is very much a Catholic country, and the population is not racially diverse at all, 94 % white. The police here do not carry guns. Pepper spray and batons only.

Tomorrow we will leave the fair waterside apartment and say goodbye to Dublin, as we drive across the entire country (ha, 3 and a half hours!), to the Cliffs of Moher, then up to Galway on the west we need to pack.

Monday, October 9, 2017

here in ireland...oh dear!

Our airplane selfie. The plane ride was...horrid. Yeah, horrid. We wanted to sleep, and the cabin crew wanted to serve food...all food and beverages were for purchase, not even water was free on this flight. We had brought our own, so we were fine, just wanted to sleep. Well. Wrinkling and crinkling of wrappers and papers. The guy across the aisle from me alternated snoring, then waking up and unscrewing his soda pop bottle, which hissed loudly. The lady in the row behind us sniffed. Rhythmically. Sniffed. The guy behind me stretched his legs out of under my seat, slamming his footsies into the back of my legs, waking me up with the jolts. The overhead screens flickered, and people walked down the aisle, bumping into the seats. So it wasn't a night for sleep. But it was still fun. We laughed our heads off about how Mali would have been with the sniffing. She detests sniffing.

Morning came, and we were in Dublin. We walked a few miles through the airport to immigration, where we were greeted with: Mirielle, is it true you had issues and were denied entry to the U.K. a few years back? Oh, the fun and games of standing there after taking 999 naps on the plane all night, wanting coffee and having to use the bathroom...this Irish dude was serious. He wasn't going to just let us into his country if we were going to try to find jobs and stay! No sir. He needed proof of Mirielle's employment, and lots of other details. When he finally stamped those passports and we were on our way to the luggage carels, we thought our trials were over. uh-hum.

The rental car. Can you say Driving on the WRONG side of the road? Well, we didn't even get to that point yet when our gps/wi-fi device wouldn't work. Mare had to go back in and get the correct password. Then...we drove away in that spiffy little rental car, her driving correctly on the wrong side of the road, but there was a beeping! Incessant beeping! We were buckled, it was in drive, the lights were on...but it wouldn't stop. We turned around and drove right back to that rental place got out of the car...the tire was smoking! The guy thought we were rather funny, he took the car for a spin, and declared, "Thar's obsolutely nothing wrong with this carr." But, he got us a different on anyway. We drove away in that, and it was also beeping like mad...ooops, emergency brake. ha.


We tried some fish and chips, and yeah, chips are just french fries.

We shared one, and it was still too much food.

We just couldn't go to Starbucks in Ireland! least it is in a castle ruins, or church ruins...

Then we went for coffee...

Then we walked around Howth...

We went to a store, Lidl, to get some bread...we chose pumpkin seed bread, and some yummy Irish butter...and some raspberry jam, and real Irish cream for the coffee.

This is our front window view from our little apartment...the Irish Sea!

After we settled in a bit, brewed some coffee, and unpacked, we headed to the village on foot, in search of a pub. We went to an old one, highly reccommended...I walked in first, and it was Nary a lady in sight. I turned right back around, smacking pretty much into we tried the little place across the street. I don't know what's wrong with me, but I walked into that place and explained that we were from out of town, and wanted to go to a pub, but the place across the street was full of men! They offered the meal menu, but I said we only wanted a beer. Mirielle had a glass of wine, I had one beer on tap. It was good...but with the jet lag, and not much to eat...oh dear me. It was more than enough. We walked back here, and had toast...the pumpkin seed bread...mmm.

It's not very late, but we are tired and trying to figure out the bus schedule...we are hitting the Guinness Storehouse tomorrow and don't want to drive in the Dublin traffic....

Sunday, October 8, 2017

if I could put time in a bottle...

Remember that song? Today is a day to go into the bottle, to save up for the middle of winter. It's absolutely deliciously gorgeous out there, some sun, some clouds, 72 degrees...the wind is rustling the trees, lulling me to sleep here in my quiet house. Yes, I said QUIET house. Now if you've been reading my blog, you already know that as the mom of sixteen kids, I have had a noisy house for years...and years...and years. So this new quiet thing is still yummy.

It's still rarely quiet. With two grandchildren visiting frequently, and babysitting one year old Anne, and having three homeschoolers, plus six other kids living here, adult kids who visit and come for dinner, the house is still hectic.

But today, after sweeping and washing dishes and cleaning up, and helping kids out the door with daddy to go to church, where they will eat lunch together after, I finished up my packing, and ha, here I sit. I still need to take a shower and remember my toothbrush and phone charger, and to pack up this nice little chromebook, so I can blog in Ireland, of course...but I like to wait until the last minute then hurry up.

You all know what today is, right? Besides being Sunday, October 8, it is the day we depart for Ireland. I cannot. believe. it.

Mirielle and I are sharing a checked bag, then each bringing smaller carry-on bags. We both tend to be over-packers, but she wins, she had FOUR toothbrushes packed. Four. But she realized that was ridiculous, so she took one out. I can't help it, I keep laughing about it. If I don't remember to grab my toothbrush last minute, one of those is going to be for me, and she'll be all justified in bringing so many, but also lamenting that she only has one extra. It's too funny.

We are bringing a bag of Starbucks coffee, and some of those miniature half and half things so we can have our morning coffee. Also the Melita pourover filter in case there is no coffee pot, and of course coffee filters. And bars: Quest bars and Balance bars, and no I am not getting paid to say that. We have emergency rations consisting of small packets of three varieties of M&M's. We have wipes and hand sanitizer and any over-the-counter meds you can think of, times two. Band-aids? Check. Boots. Sneakers. Sandals. She brought flip-flops for the shower. Of course she did.

Last evening I went online and purchased the tickets to tour the Guinness Storehouse! We have already researched where to park, she screenshot them and has them on her phone. We are going to the village of Howth, to do some cliff walking, hope I don't huff and puff myself to death. To say that I am excited about this trip is putting it mildly. One of the very best parts is spending time with Mirielle. You know, having eleven daughters is more blessing than one person deserves as it is. But the fact that I get along well with all of them, and enjoy spending time with each of them is unreal. I am not bragging, honest I'm not. And also can I mention that my daughter-in-law Ashley is my friend too? I love her more and more as time goes on. It reminds me once again of the parable of the man with 100 sheep, he lost ONE and was upset, he left the other 99 to find it. It IS possible to love so many kids, the 5 boys as well, each with all of my heart. I haven't spent much time with Emily lately because she is finishing up her Master's degree while still working full time. She is extremely busy and I know she misses us too, and when she graduates in the spring, we are going to have the biggest party! Anyway. I miss them when I don't see them often. Kathryn is in California, and ouch, I miss her. And seeing Ben and Ashley so often hasn't gotten old. They came over for dinner last evening with Anya, and I LOVE it. She says, "Grandma, Grandma...!", and I realize that she's talking to ME. I am GRANDMA. :)

(Mirielle is second from left in back, between Evelyn and Mali Rose)

I win Off On A Tangent!

My point was that spending time with Mirielle is one of the best parts of this trip. We are good at adventuring together, as we drove across the country to California a while back. In January! Riley is still teasing us that we brought a snow shovel. And since we drove out there and flew back, we left our supply of emergency snacks there: it filled up a whole cupboard. Protein/granola bars, by the dozen, I kid you not. Seeds. Cashews. Almonds. And water, oh the water we had in that car. We could have survived for a month. But over-packing aside, Mirielle is a great travelling companion. She is level-headed, but also open to drinking an Irish beer. I can't wait for her to drive on the "wrong" side of the road, as we are renting a car. It'll be the first pic. :)

I should go take my shower and get ready. Mirielle will come over all ready to go and I'll be sitting here in my raggedy Adidas capris with my messy hair, feet up, sipping coffee, and then I'll certainly forget to grab my toothbrush...

And don't worry, I am going to take pictures!

Friday, October 6, 2017

bad bad dream...

Did you ever wake up from a really bad dream, just crying? And did you ever try to tell someone about your dream, only to have them sigh with boredom?

Oh dear, last night in my dream, I was in the airport, ready to go through security for our trip to Ireland. Oh, joy, my sister was there to see me off! (And Cheryl, you looked like a million bucks). Then I realized that all of my daughters were there too, waving and giving me hugs. Then...there were men in black, shooting. Shooting at my girls. I can barely even write this, it was horrific. I ran I screamed I ended up outside the airport. Paul was there. I asked him...and he whispered that Kathryn was shot in the head. No, he said, it was Evelyn. All of them were shot, but Evelyn was gone. I cannot tell you how I wailed in that dream. I shouted and screamed NO NO NO. NO. I didn't know it was a dream. I even told strangers, as they filed out of the airport, shell shocked and dazed, that my Evelyn was gone. Hysterical doesn't even begin to describe it. Then I woke up. It was five o'clock. All I could think of was getting up and hugging my girls.

Now, since I AM a psychiatrist, I know that I have issues about leaving the kids for my trip. And yesterday Evelyn was being all prickly, and we agreed that although we missed her terribly when she was in California this summer, it was more peaceful here. I felt guilty about saying that, as evidenced in my dream. (and about it being more peaceful, when you have a lot of children, taking one out of the mix for even a little while changes the dynamics, and Ev being the middle girl of the five-girls-in-a-row born in five years, she has to stand out, and I get that. So she's spunky. I love her immensely, of course I do, but there can be hissing among the girls, ha)

Also, this horrible mass murder which took place in Las Vegas has affected us all. I try not to watch the videos, but I have read stories. And I will say this: this is the real America. Those heroes who drove strangers to the hospital in pick up trucks, those who held pressure on wounds of people they had never seen before, those who ran through the crowd, carrying wounded out then going back in for more, disregarding their own safety. Those are Real Americans. Not all these social media critics, calling for more rules, more laws, even going so far as to blame this senseless murder on people who support the right to own guns. um, really? (Murder is against the law, does anyone in their right mind think that this guy stopped to think about that? Would he not have stockpiled guns just because they were illegal? Most drugs are illegal. Our emergency rooms here in the states are brimming with overdoses. Making something illegal only makes it more difficult to obtain, and criminals have to be more crafty. Law abiding citizens who want to protect themselves are the ones who would suffer from stricter controls) Laws and more laws. Slap those band aids on. I don't believe this world is going to get any better with more laws.

But anyway, that was a tangent. And one I am sorry I went off on, the way the media turned this tragedy into a political discussion so quickly was sickening.

Anyway. I told Evelyn a little about the dream this morning, and that I love her, and of course I'll drive over to school and pick them up early today so they don't have to sit through the Pep Rally!

This fine morning, it's dark and rainy. It's so cozy it's not funny. I have brewed pumpkin spice coffee, and I am thinking of crawling into bed with a book for a bit, would that be so bad of me? I've been up since five o'clock...

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

counting the blessings....

First of all, I would like to quote one of my favorite songs, from the movie Frozen...."Let it go..."

It's comforting, healing, and peaceful to let it go. A thought that plagues me about someone, or something so unrighteous that happens, or hurt feelings that could so easily cause bitterness...let it go.

And here are the things I am deciding to be thankful for today:

1. Ibuprofen. Yesterday's headache decided to settle in and stay a while, building to a monster by bedtime. As I went on my walk this fine morning, headache-free, but in one of those day-after fogs, I realized how blessed it is to be able to open that bottle and take a few pain relievers.

2. D-Mannose. It works! I have been having pains and twinges of a UTI, and started taking this stuff again. It really works.

3. Being flea-free! Not to sound like an advertisement for the Seresto collars, because I am certainly not getting a cent for plugging their product, but they work! No more fleas!

4. I've been going on my walks every morning! I am not in marathon shape, and my muffin top is more like an extra bed pillow spilling over top of the jeans, but at least I have been walking, and it feels good.

5. Babysitting for little Anne. Yesterday she didn't feel well, and had a slight fever. But rocking babies is my specialty, and even though this little girl is one year old, when she doesn't feel well, she likes to be rocked and sung to. (ha, it's nice to sing to a baby who doesn't yet understand how terrible my voice is!)

This girl. Miss Char, Charlotte Claire, my tenth daughter, my fifteenth 11 year old teenager. She does not give up, she wants to learn a standing back tuck, she learns it.

7. Coffee. Pumpkin spice coffee. Joseph made the pot a bit ago, it smells heavenly in here, with the crispness of the morning and the breeze blowing in the trees, the dogs's a beautiful day.

And...I have to get up and sweep the floors, put in a load of laundry...

Monday, October 2, 2017

can you say cozy?

It was only 39 degrees this morning when I went on my walk. brrr. But I am not complaining. The little heater is going in here, with it's fake flames and sleepy hum. Joseph had brewed pumpkin spice coffee.

But peaceful and good, the world is not. This mass shooting in Las Vegas: horrific. Having worked concessions for the same Jason Aldean at an outdoor concert, wow. Just wow. But amidst the insanity there is goodness: the people who drove the injured to the hospitals when ambulances were overwhelmed, and those who are donating supplies and food to the ones still in shock there in the venue... There are no words.

I have been having dreams about my mother, that she lives in a village a few miles from here. In every dream, she lives in Liverpool. And in every dream, I wonder why I don't visit her more often. In one the other night, I realized that she was living there and I hadn't visited her in years, then comforted myself, in the dream, that she had my brothers there with her. Then I realized, in the dream, that my younger brother had grown up and gotten married and had two kids, and that my other brother had died. It was as if I was hearing it for the first time about my brother Billy, and I woke up crying. Grief changes as time passes, but it never goes away. Especially with my brother. Sometimes I remember how he died, (suicide by shotgun), and I cannot bear it. I simply cannot. There is guilt (why didn't we know something was wrong??!!!!). There is horror, there is shock, there is just deep deep sadness. It gets a little better, with time, but then sometimes it sneaks right in and I can't believe it's really true.

Then these things happen, mass shootings. These lunatics! The horror and grief inflicted on all of these people...I know it doesn't help them one bit that I'm sad for them...but I am.

Paul has been bow-hunting. He was in the woods for most of the day yesterday. Evelyn and I took a little trip to the thrift store, and yay, I found some nice sneakers!!! Adidas slip-ons, almost brand new, look like they were tried on and never worn, for $8.99. I also bought a purple Little Tikes car, which was too small for Anya, but Lydia will fit nicely in it. So much for clearing out the toys when the kids grow up, ha.

We had a nice busy dinner last evening: Paul and I, Emily, Abigail, Ben and Ashley and Anya, Joseph, Sam, Margaret and Adrian, Evelyn, Suzanne, Sonja, Jon, Char, and Cam, and the girls' friend Irene. We had lasagna, which the girls had made for a church fundraiser (Thank you , Evelyn, for all of your hard work!!!) We also had Italian bread, hot sausage, salad, and for dessert, apple pie with ice ream.

This fine morning, the kids are doing school work, and then we are going out to lunch in the small city up north, meeting friends there.

Ben and Ashley's baby is due in three weeks. Yeah, oops on me booking a trip to Ireland, I hope that baby doesn't come too early! I am looking after Anya while that new baby is being born, :)

This time next week, I'll be in Dublin! The kids will be staying with Margaret and Adrian, and will still be doing their school work while they're there. They are pretty excited about it, they said I could stay as long as I want to. The big girls don't seem to mind too much either, wah. They're planning to make really good dinners and homemade pretzels...

Friday, September 29, 2017

in the middle of the night...

I had to bring Kathryn to the airport. She is off to California for a bit, to start her new job. Her flight left at 5-something a.m., so she had to be there at 4 something a.m., so I had to get up at 3-something a.m. And as per usual, I kept waking up to make sure I wasn't oversleeping, so I finally just got out of bed at three.

I made a coffee to go, and the ride there wasn't too bad. Then I dropped Kap off, said goodbye, and wah. I hate goodbyes. Kathryn is such a joy to have around. So...the ride home. Uneventful, thankfully, but there's nothing like a long dark stretch of highway all alone to stir up the thoughts. In the middle of the night, life seems to know it's brevity. The time spent with the kids as they grow just slips away. I wanted to stop and text Kathryn immediately, tell her to stay away from strangers, and watch her bags, and and and. But she's growing up. She's traveled alone before.

Anyway....home I drove, into the house, and yay, back to bed! It was only 5-something a.m., still dark, and so yummy to climb back into bed. I had to change back into jammies though, I cannot just get into bed with jeans on.

So I slept in, until 8:30. It seemed late, until I started adding it up. I woke when Paul left, when the school bus backed up honking it's back-up warning with the three high school girls on it. I didn't get up to see them off this morning, but I did make them chocolate chip cookies yesterday and wrapped three each for today's lunches. Then at 8:00 I heard the little girls' door open, they set their alarm so they can have a free hour before school starts.

And, I went on my walk.

The scale is creeeeeeping down. Every so slowly. I saw a number I haven't seen in a while, this fine morning. I moved the scale to three different places on the floor, just to make sure it wasn't tricking me. See, yesterday I mixed up a triple batch of chocolate chip cookies...and the cookie dough...oh dang. I only had a few tastes, and I told myself that just because I did that doesn't mean I have to go hog wild and eat it all. Then, I broke off a piece of a cookie...the buttery brown sugar chewy goodness of that cookie, I could happily eat a dozen, but I put the brakes on. It will never get easy.

Dinner was in the crock pot, which makes me disproportionately, insanely happy. I feel accomplished all the live-long day, like, "Yeah, I know what I'm having for dinner tonight. I have my act together." It was in before seven a.m., a nice fatty piece of pork, simmered in lemon juice (it makes it so tender!), a splash of Mountain Dew, and lots of Jamaican Jerk seasoning. By afternoon, it was smelling good in here.

Baking cookies with Anne here was challenging, were my kids that curious? She delights in the doggies and kitties, too, and I have to make sure they are also delighting in her. Ashley came to visit with Anya, and we talked while I puttered around. When Anne's daddy came to get her, I was just about to change her diaper, but decided not to have him wait...then I peeked into it as I handed her over, and oops, it was a poopy one. He didn't have time to wait for me to change her, as Davian's bus was due soon, so he had to take her home like that, only five minutes down the road, but I still felt like the bad babysitter. I love her so, though, and take good care of her. I do love her, I love rocking her all cuddly when she's getting tired, and I love reading books with her. I love that she sings the first part of the ABC song, and that when I sing Twinkle Twinkle, she chimes in at the exact right part: Up above the world so high...she sings Up Above Da, every time the song is done, and I sing it again. :)

We gave away one kitten yesterday, to Suzanne's friend. Her mama came to pick it up, and she had a hard time choosing. She said she needs something small to love and take care of, so she chose the sweet little runt of the litter. She had a little bottle already, and special kitty milk to feed it, and kitten chow. That kitten is going to a happy home.

After she left, and Ashley left with Anya, and Anne was gone home...dinner time. Kathryn took the little girls to buy ice cream, then they had a mega Monopoly game, while I watched the last episode of the series on the Vietnam war with Paul. He massaged my sore shoulder, so it was all good. (Do not get me started on all the things our country didn't seem to learn about that war. Why oh why are men so stupid?)

Well, today I have to go pay the tax bill, and it's National Coffee Day, and my favorite place in the small city is selling medium iced or hot coffee for a dollar. I feel myself gravitating toward there today....but we'll see what the kids want to do.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

the chill we've all been waiting for....

If you haven't noticed, I like weather. Here in central New York state, we have had 13 days in a row with temperatures 80 degrees or higher. The past three days were 90 or above, making it an official heat wave. Then last evening, the wind picked up, the leaves swirled off the trees, and the temperature dropped. This fine morning, it feels like autumn. 59 degrees, breezy, pleasantly and cozily overcast.

The sunshine and warmth was a gift, of course it was. But in keeping with The Grass Is Always Greener mentality, it was too hot, and we longed for autumn. It was humid and sticky. The girls in Real School were really hot and sweaty. It feel nice now, refreshing.

Last evening, Evelyn and Sonja accompanied me to Kohl's in the small city. I needed sneakers. I needed to try them on and make decisions. Shoe shopping is not fun when you have the feet of a woman who has born many children...feet that stretched right out to ensure the balance of the larger body. These feet can be squished into flats, for instance, but look hilarious. But the real mystery is why shoes that felt okay in the store hurt in various surprise places when they are walked in, in Real Life.

I tried some wide width Nikes for $65. They were wide where they needed, but pinched in other places. Then I tried a pair of Fila because they were only $25, and voila, they fit! They weren't even wide width. But. They didn't exactly pass the Going On A Walk test this morning. They were tight across the wide part, pinched in a few places. blah. I want shoes that feel like marshmallows. The ones Grandma gave me a few years ago were perfect, but they got chewed up by a visiting puppy. (They were comfy shoes, even glowed in the dark, which made them super fun but if someone was ever chasing me in the dark, how could I hide?)

Anyway. I found my shoes, found one nice shirt for my Ireland trip, and bought a pillow for $2.99, and gave it to Evelyn. And Sonja found a five dollar shirt. No evening trip out is complete without a stop at the grocery store, I wanted flour for the huge-0 package of yeast I got at the warehouse store, and some fresh fruits and veggies, and paper towels.

Anne is here this fine chilly morning, playing a blanket on the floor with a toy computer. She keeps me hopping, but she is sweetness, and joy. She is learning words and has absolutely no fear of puppies or kitties. She is cautious though, and could be walking if she wanted to.

Ten days until Ireland!!!!

It's hard to sit here and write all sunshine-y and glad when one of our very close friends is suffering. Dave has been battling cancer and all of it's accompaniments for years now. It started in his esophagus, and now, nine and a half years later, with some recurrences in between, is showing up in his lung. He and his wife are absolutely dear and faithful friends, they have eight kids who are all friends of my kids. This is heart wrenching. We do know that the very hairs of our heads are numbered, and that God knows the big picture, but still. Keep them in your prayers.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

on happiness and bucket lists and blessing others....

Life is a gift, and if you ever start out on Monday morning full of complaints, just sit down with the obituary section from a medium sized city's newspaper. Go ahead. Spread open those pages and roam over the names and the ages, the survivors, the pictures of those who passed away during the last week. Then go ahead and continue on with your complaints. Yes, you're tired, and someone drank the rest of the half and half and left the empty carton on the counter, or worse, put it into the garbage without even squishing it. And the sweatshirt draped over the back of the chair, the load of clean towels dumped on the couch, ugh.

This morning, I read the local news before opening the old blog. A man and his son were killed by a guy fleeing from the police...he ran a stop sign and plowed right into them. Gone. A young firefighter lost control of his car the other night, hit a tree. Gone. I know, depressing, ignore it, don't dwell on sadness. But it is part of life, and and what we don't want to think about is that we are here only temporarily. We tend to dig in our heels and build our little kingdoms as if they're permanent.

Anyway. In one of the obituaries I read, the man had TWO survivors. Two. sadness?

Anyway. Yesterday evening, we had company! In addition to Paul and I, Joseph, Kathryn, Evelyn, Suzanne, Sonja, Jonathan, Char, Camille...Margaret and Adrian came over, and Mali and Lydia. I made spaghetti for dinner, with a quick salad, and some green beans (I don't eat pasta anymore, I just eat the sauce with canned green beans...good? nah. Tolerable.)

It was so hot out, but the evening came with a breeze, and the sun went behind the trees. Today it's supposed to be almost 90 again, and humid.

Anyway. This morning I walked again! It's becoming a habit again, so I don't protest it as much in my head, I just do it.

Now I just need to get back into working out...

I have been avoiding sugar though.

Carol commented and said that visiting Ireland was on her Bucket List. I have always wanted so badly to go to Ireland, so when Mirielle started talking about it, as unpractical as it is to just drop everything and go, I said, YES!!! Life is short, right? I In two weeks!!!! Yesterday, I bought a new purse/bag, one that has a long shoulder strap so I can keep it in front of me, as I read there are many pickpockets in Dublin. :( I have my Costco raincoat, and now I just need to get some new sneakers. I wish I had some stylish boots that didn't kill my feet, but you know, if wishes were fishes we'd eat them on dishes and all that.

Ah well. There are floors to sweep and dishes to wash. And to teach, and little Anne is coming over...sweet Anne. She's one year old, still crawls, but can stand up...she'll be walking any day now. She's so smart, she can say apple and ball and bye and doggy. She lets you know what she wants, and she is a busy one. I love her, can you tell? She keeps me hopping, but it's all good....:)

Monday, September 25, 2017

hot hot hot!!!!

And the weather is pretty warm too, ha. Paul and I worked the Paul McCartney concert on Saturday night...with Abigail, Benjamin, Mirielle, Joseph, Samuel, Kathryn, Evelyn, and Suzanne. It was steaming hot in that Dome. But the music was fantastic, and the customers were happy...sweaty and happy. Then just a little bit of drama, as Benjamin had some poison ivy, which he is allergic to, and it was swelling and spreading, on his face...then he was having trouble swallowing. uh oh. Never you mind that he is 28 years old. He could be two years old still by the way I still feel:) Anyway, he left with Mirielle and Kathryn to the hospital, and is doing fine after some steriods and other meds. Never a dull one, I tell you.

Yesterday was a perfectly beautiful day. We spent the afternoon swimming in the pools at church, after grilling burgers and hot was SO NICE! Then home, relaxing on the deck with Margaret for a bit, then...popcorn for dinner. The yummy stovetop stuff, with lots of butter. Samuel asked if I was making dinner, and I said I already made a nice lunch, as I was the burger griller. So popcorn it was. A lot of the kids finangled their own dinners...there's this container of cheese sauce in the 'fridge...I bought one of those huge-O cans of it, so they heat up little bits of it at a time, and eat it with tortilla chips and on everything else too. blah, but they like it.

I walked this morning, but the little girls didn't. I woke them up but they chose to sleep in a bit. That's okay. It was a busy weekend. They spent the night at their friend's house on Saturday, and we all know how much sleep they didn't get.

It's supposed to be 90 degrees and oppressively humid today. The summer we never got, is here!

So two weeks from today I'll be arriving in Ireland!!! My head is swirling with things to remember, so I made myself some lists this morning. We are running out of doggie chow, and we buy good stuff from the tractor store now, so I have places to go. We are running out of coffee, and I want to get protein bars for my trip, and small things of almonds. I know there are stores in Ireland, and shh, I look forward to visiting them! But I am funny about going places without backup snacks, in case of getting stranded, or whatever. And we ARE flying the cheapie airline, so there won't be anything served on the flight. We should be good girls and get some sleep anyway, it's an overnight flight. And we can't check into our room/apartment until afternoon.

Ah must begin.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

foggy morning, sunny day...

Suri likes going on morning walks. For the most part, she just walks along without tugging the leash, but when you least expect it, she lunges towards a dead frog, her 82 pounds yanking at my arm and pulling the leash into the skin of my palm.

Miss Charlotte Claire brought Sunny. She is leash training her, mostly in the yard, and thought this walk went well. She stops every time Sunny tugs, and gave her a treat when we got home.

My morning walk is usually my time to think, but I told the girls how magnificent the fog is to walk in, so they got up early this morning to join me.

Yesterday's donut shop quest was a success! Fresh made donuts, chocolate and pumpkin and cinnamon and plain and cherry, to customize with frostings. A pumpkin donut with cream cheese frosting, or a chocolate with vanilla buttercream. A cherry donut with vanilla frosting and Fruity Pebbles cereal? The kids said it was yum. I tried a cannoli donut, with real fresh filling and chocolate chips around the edges. It was fun to pick them out, but more fun to go to the park and try them. The park was perfect! There was a shaded pavillion with tables, and it was clean! There were bathrooms there, and a working drinking fountain, as well as lots of nice playground equipment. Now, going to the play ground with a one year old is challenging. Little Anne wanted to crawl around and explore, so I let her. But why did she gravitate toward the pavement from the grass? And the woodchips, oh man they are not good for babies to crawl in, or to taste, either. But she liked to explore, and didn't mind when I redirected her when she started slapping that pavement or finding the dirt underneath the woodchips. I don't know who tired out first, but I think it was me. I told Ashley that I didn't know how I managed this stage SIXTEEN TIMES, ha.

Anya and Lydia liked the playground better than the donuts. It was a beautiful day.

We got home and played on the deck for a while. Anne seemed hot,so we took her clothes off and let her splash in the little pool for a bit, then she ate some pudding and played with some toys.

I made taco salad for dinner, then Evelyn and I went to the thrift store...the little kids went to Activity Club, and the older girls were doing homework. We found a huge mirror to be chalk painted (the frame), a few books, and not much else. We went to the dollar store for granola bars and good chocolate, then...home.

Today, after school work, library. Anne is on her bye for now.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

the little tiny things in life....

Small people are delightful. I have two grandchildren, little girls. One is Anya, almost four, the other Lydia just turned two. They are my heart. When I hear, "Grandma, Grandma!...", every time, after realizing that it is ME being spoken to, ha, I melt.

Both girls were visiting me yesterday. Well, not just ME. The house. The dogs and the kittens and the dollhouses and the swings, the trampoline, and their favorites: Miss Char and Miss Cam. And their other aunties, and Uncle Jon and Uncle Sam and Uncle Joseph.

Mali was here with Lydia when I had to leave to take Sunny to the vet. It's a good half hour+ of a drive, so I brought Jonathan with me. It was super nice to catch up with him, my 13 year old son. He is SO grown up, so respectful and I don't know...balanced? Rooted and grounded? He is just decent and moral and kind, but also witty and hilarious, in that young teenage boy kind of way, trying to fit in with the older ones. Anyway, we talked and enjoyed the warm afternoon.

I grilled chicken for dinner, and it took forever...well, over an hour and a half...the propane was running low. When Paul changed the tank, voila, big flames, and chicken was finally done. It was really good, and we had it with a nice salad and some red potatoes.

I read a story this morning... a lady was in Target with her small son, negotiating on which of three small stuffed dinosaurs he would get to have, when an older man interacted with the boy, gave him a $20 bill and told him to get all three...the man turned to the mom and explained, with tears in his eyes, that his two year old grandson had just passed away last week. For one, it's fantastic in this world we live in, for strangers to connect, and that this mom didn't just shoo the man away at first glance. I remember right after my mother died, I was in Kmart and an old lady in line in front of me had wrinkled hands, just like my mother's. Yeah, I get it that all old people have wrinkled hands. But my mom's death was so fresh and raw, and this lady's hands just made me cry. I wanted to talk to her, to hug her, to make sure she wasn't lonely, I wanted to connect with her, and be her friend.

Anyway. Anne is on her way over, and we are going on adventure today! Mirielle is watching little Lydia today, and we are meeting Ashley and Anya at an amazing donut place! We are hoping it's amazing anyway....then maybe a park with a playground...:)

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

out and about....

Camille thought this was just too funny. We Walmarted after Evelyn's doctor's appointment, because we needed a bulb for the minivan's headlight. This doesn't mean we bee-lined for the automotive department then left the store, no sir, then we wouldn't have found the 15 pack of socks for $3.50. We wouldn't have discovered that Wallyworld now stocks CalicoCritter stuff. I let the girls get the tiny set of triple bunks, and the little loft bed, for $6.88 each, shh. They came home and played dollhouse with that stuff for hours.:)

We had gone to McDonalds drive through first, for drinks...their iced coffee is pretty good, and then the $2 small shakes, or other specialty beverages for the kids...Char ordered a small chocolate shake, and the guy at the window apologized for accidentally making it a large. It made her day. We also got one order of chicken nuggets, hate them/love them, and as we sat in the truck in the Walmart parking lot scarfing them down (what? I only had three. 150 calories.)(and we didn't order any fries), Camille said, "Look at us, eating McDonalds in Walmart parking lot." We could not stop laughing.

Anyway. Home, ah home. I had also gone to Costco with Mirielle and Jonathan during the day...and I found my new raincoat for Ireland there, who would have thought? They have too much good stuff at Costco! Emily got a membership and added me, so uh-oh.

Today, Miss Anne Beatrice is coming over, in just a few minutes actually. We will play outside in the little pool, it's so warm out!

Beautiful, right?

I walked this morning, yay.

It's lovely in the morning on our road.

This afternoon, I have to bring Sunny in to the vet to get her stitches removed and for her Lyme disease prevention booster. She's gonna LOVE that. ugh. Mali is coming over with Miss Lydia, too. :)