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
family

Saturday, June 24, 2017

the cabin in the woods....

Once upon a time there was a girl...

A girl who fell in love, and got married...and the babies started coming. The first baby was pretty much perfect. She was smart and healthy, being all chubby and blue-eyed, she was the kind of baby in the baby books. Her mama could have written a series of How To books, based on her parenting success with this first child...How To Potty Train In Just One Day!, for example. And of course Getting Your Infant To Sleep Through The Night, How To Have A Content Toddler On The Beach...a whole slew of books she could have written!

Then came baby #2, who was a bit more challenging. This baby didn't settle down easily, and required much more time and patience. Then baby #3 came after a 12 week miscarriage in between, so he was a joy and blessing...and also a handful!

Now this mama had Emily, Abigail, and Benjamin. Enough children for any sane person.

Ben was one when Mirielle was born, then two and a half when Joseph joined the family....the family who lived in a mobile home. It was a nice one, it was brand spankin' new when they moved in, and on a huge treed lot in the village, with a wood play structure, and a garden....but it was getting tight. So this family decided to build a huge house.

The house was framed that summer when Joseph was a newborn baby...then for pretty much the first year of Joseph's life, that mama was a single mama. That daddy would go straight to the building site from work every night, and of course on Saturdays. The mama got used to doing everything her own way, and then on Sundays, Daddy had different ideas, so it was interesting.

They moved into their new house, then were joined by #6, Aaron...then the next year, #7 Mali Rose, then the next year, #8 Samuel James...the mama was thirty years old, and had 8 kids.

More than enough kids for any sane person, ha. But mama and daddy trusted that God knew exactly what they needed, and trusted Him with all of their hearts.

This wasn't always easy. There were sleepless nights, and trips to the E.R., and times when infants and toddlers were sick, and school children still needed clean clothes and homework checked...there were school events that this mama faked her way through, being a day late and a dollar short, and all.

Anyway...the fabulous thirties were busy years, as the older ones grew up, and the babies still came. Margaret, #9, came a the next year after Samuel, then #10 Kathryn 15 months later. Evelyn #11 came the following summer, then #12 Suzanne 17 months later. Sonja K, #13, came along just 14 months after Suze, then baby Robert was born, stillborn, a year later. He was followed by #14 Jonathan Robert, who was really #15, 10 and a half months after Robert's "birth". This mama had a few very sad miscarriages, then Miss Charlotte Claire was born two years after Jonathan. And then Miss Camille, last but not least, 18 months later.

There wasn't time for leisure, these years. Sleeping in, ha. I would read books into the night sometimes, and wake up exhausted, but I had to! Laundry piled on the couch, thus our resident Couch Monster, who haunted us in different shapes and forms for years, now just a memory, as the Laundry Mountain at the door of the laundry room. I kept the floors swept and cleaned because of a strong aversion to crumbs and stickiness, but this wasn't easy either, with constantly having a nursing baby and/or being big and pregnant.

I didn't make good food choices, and I blame it mostly on fatigue, and morning sickness. I only wanted bland carbs. Bagels, Cheerios, oatmeal. I never craved salads or meats, or fresh veggies or fruits. I wanted crackers and cookies. So many afternoons, I consoled my tired self, distraught and unbelieving that another opportunity for a nap for my poor tired body was foiled by the circumstances of life, like a small baby not sleeping at the same time as the toddlers, or maybe an afternoon appointment, or even phone calls or visitors...so my consolation was maybe a stack of cookies with my coffee, wake myself up, ha.

I do regret those choices, but time only goes one way, and it ain't backwards. I do not regret, however, the many choices I made as far as going on adventures and leaving the house, with it's many messes, behind.

These days I am still busy, with driving kids places and shopping and appointments and homeschooling the three youngest, and taking care of the doggies, and doing volunteer stuff for church...but I am still reeling from the days of REAL busyness. I still revel in sitting here and finishing a whole cup of coffee without having to jump up and break up a toddler fight or get someone's hot little hands out of the sugar bowl. I remember sitting down with high hopes, then seriously, someone needed to be wiped, or there was a diaper to be changed.

But still, I would do it all again in a heartbeat. I would go back in time and hug all those babies and kids, and tell them they meant the world to me.

But time still only goes one way.

And this is why I rejoice at our time of Cabin in the Woods. Because all 16 of these amazing kids of mine will be there! The way the math works is this: The toil and tears that Paul and I suffered in the raising of them somehow got erased, and blessings were multiplied and added on to, so that now we are completely and overwhelmingly filled with awe at how we got so lucky.

Practical questions about the cabin...how big is it? There are two small bedrooms upstairs, a new half bath this year, and a huge dorm room with lots of beds and bunk beds. Downstairs is a bedroom with a queen sized bed, and bunk beds, plus a big living room/dining room with a fireplace, woodstove, and a couch in case anyone wants to sleep there. Then a screened in porch with another couch, a picnic table, and lots of chairs. There are two bathrooms downstairs. Plus an outbuilding, The Shed, with a bed or two. We do bump elbows, and if everyone leaves phone chargers and jackets and purses and backpacks around, it gets cluttered fast, and there are quite a few pairs of shoes near the door. We take turns making the diners and breakfasts, and lunches are usually snacks.

I have a good friend looking after the doggies, I hope they behave themselves. I wish the cabin allowed them...but then it will be nice not to have to get up whenever Duke decides he misses me, which was 6:14 on this fine Saturday morning....

Friday, June 23, 2017

what's good in life....


With Sonja yesterday at the thrift store....sometimes we have too much fun.


She may never forgive me for posting this, but it's a good lesson: stop caring what people think, and try on the funny dress!


We found these blocks, $3.99 a box. Yes, I still buy toys, for the grandkids to play with when they come!


Sunny didn't seem to mind that the little girls put this sweater on her. She wore it around for hours until Paul came home from work and felt sorry for her, said it was too hot for a sweater.

Paul fixed the pump switch on the pool filter last night, what would I do without him? How does he know how to do so many things?

Evelyn, Sonja, and I went out for a bit yesterday. Evelyn wanted to recycle some used clothes, she turned them in at a clothing exchange store and got a little bit of pocket money. Then we went to Kohl's because I had ten dollars Kohl's cash. I found a pair of dress pants for Joseph, who absolutely hates shopping, and yay, they fit him. I took the girls to Subway too, and I was good, only had a quarter of a sub, which is no easy feat when it's so yummy...I like black olives and cucumbers and spinach and tomatoes and lettuce, on a chicken breast sub, with hot sauce.

Anyway. Tomorrow night, Paul and I are leaving for the cabin. Am I packed? I hope so. You know how you reach a certain point and just sort of burn out? I feel like that about packing. I feel like we are bringing way too much stuff, more stuff than the Ingalls family brought to live on the prairie. Minimalists, we're not. We are having nacho bar night at the cabin, so we HAVE to have that horrible liquid cheese, and fresh cilantro, and corn...and don't forget the sour cream, along with all the peppers and tomatoes and lettuces and oh yeah, the jalapenos! And shh, we are bringing lots of paper plates, the thick sturdy ones. We may not be good for the environment, but we certainly are good for the economy!

Swim floaties and goggles and towels and bedding and snacks and shoes and sneakers and don't forget the chargers or the toothbrushes!

I do plan on bringing this acer chromebook, so perhaps I'll blog a little, but who knows. I know I will feel overwhelmed at times, I love all the kids, and having the ALL together is nothing short of stellar. I LOVE it. It's been TWO YEARS since we were ALL together. TWO YEARS! And who knows when it'll happen again?

One thing we are doing is having a family picture taken by Susan, my sister's daughter...the mama of those lovely twins we like to have over, and of course their big brother too. They will be coming up to the camp one day so Susan can work her magic. She is amazing, she really is. We figure propping an iPhone on the roof of the car worked okay last time, ha...

Okay...time to drive kids places...bye for now.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

the good, the bad,and the ugly....

Trying to balance what to write about and what not to mention, without painting a picture that's rosier than reality is my goal here. So yeah, some stories aren't mine to tell, and some messes aren't what we really want to show the world, but I will tell you this: they are there, ha. My laundry room, the downstairs hall with the kitty litter...ect.

The other night, a friend was talking about a blogger who posted pics of her house, and all the nice views, but neglected to include one side of the house that was bordered by a factory, or some other dumpy place, giving the illusion that her place was much nicer than it actually was. I don't want to be like that, but I also don't want to embarrass my kids by posting pictures of the sink full of dishes, or what it looks like behind the couch. Sometimes I consider just walking away from this blog. Have I disclosed too much? Have I said too little?

Everything isn't sunshine and roses, of course not. I have sixteen kids, for heaven's sake! But the purpose of this blog isn't to paint a picture of a huge happy family, it's for ME to write from my point of view.

And here's my view today. Sometimes I get overwhelmed. The teenagers, oh dear. When one of them says, "Mom!", and I immediately answer in my WHAT NOW voice, and they get offended and say NEVER MIND. Okay. That went well. Then another mentions they NEED shoes. ALL of her shoes, ALL of them have faults. She can name them all, if I don't believe her. And washing machine wars...I thought it was good if they all learned to wash their own clothes, but oh dear, it's hard to fit a load in, sharing it with them all. There is always dog hair. I sweep every morning, but then by the next morning, it's there. Clutter piles up fast, and a day of housecleaning success vanishes before I can even revel in it. Kids grow out of clothes, we bag them up to give to friends and they sit there until we remember to actually give them away.

My view is also this: Life is one huge gift. I firmly believe that each and every day, there are multitudes of treasures to be found if I have my eyes open and can hear what God has to say to me. I know that each of my kids are different from each other, and there is no One Size Fits All method to deal with things that come up, but that God is always faithful to give wisdom when I ask.

Have you ever noticed a tendency to want to help when someone is truly in need? As a parent, if one of the kids is really sad, I want to comfort and help. That's the way it is with God, too. When I pray for patience, and for understanding and mercy and goodness towards my kids, He gives it.

Anyway. Yesterday was a good day. We headed out to gymnastics a bit early and stopped at the thrift store. There were these outdoor chairs that swivel, and rock a little, mauve colored with white metal bases...not beautiful, but comfortable and...$4.99 each. I asked Evelyn if she thought we could fit them in the back of the van...and she was willing to try. And they smooshed right in there! We didn't have enough chairs on the deck, so it's nice. I would like to paint them/redo them, but we'll see.

I still have some things to accomplish before the camp, some shopping, some marinating and freezing meat, and packing clothes.

This weekend is a huge weekend for us, our church is having a grand feast in the big city. Over a thousand people, actually 1,600 or so, from all over the east coast, and hundreds from Norway. And then leaving for Cabin.

And fast forward a day...this was written yesterday. I am having trouble finding time to write, because I don't do well with a million interruptions. Nine hundred ninety nine thousand ninety nine are okay, but when it hits a million, I can't do it anymore. I did get the meat purchased and frozen, but ha, I had a detour. Emily came to pick up Jonathan to help her pick up a huge grill for Saturday's church cookout, and then she was going to Trader Joe's. Now, I have never been to Trader Joe's. It's new to our area. So I found myself getting ready really quickly, and leaving the house, kids, and dogs to Evelyn for a few hours.

And did I like Trader Joe's? Way too much. I am glad it's far far away, at least too far for regular visits. A 17.4 ounce Belguim chocolate bar for $4.99? In the cart. I also bought their brand of Ezekial bread (sprouted grains), some unsweetened coconut flakes, a jar of crunchy almond butter, a watermelon, some bacon ends and pieces for Jonathan (he's a good kid, he didn't ask for a thing, but he loves bacon, and pointed it out...so I let him get it.)

So in the afternoon, I made these little treats from 2 tablespoons melted butter, 3/4 cup of almond butter, a quarter teaspoon of stevia, and a cup of the coconut...made them into little cookie shapes, into the freezer, and oh yummy!

This morning, I accidentally slept in. I always wake up early, think of what I have to do, and get myself out of bed. Yesterday it was 6:20. This morning, I woke up, checked the time, and HOLY COW! it was 9:20. oops. I had missed one phone call and two texts. I was in a deep sleep, and I guess I needed it.

I feel like I am a day late and a dollar short as it is, but sleeping in, whoa.

Today's agenda is to sit around in the sun and wish someone would pack and clean the house for me. ha. I wish. Actually, Evelyn and I are taking a trip to the place she is going to turn in her old nice clothes, one of the closet used stores, then we are going to Kohl's because I have ten dollars Kohl's cash, and I hate to waste it. Then home...hopefully with lots of time left in the day for that sitting in the sunshine. And cleaning the house, of course.

Camille is keeping track of the days Until The Cabin, and oh dear! She packs her own clothes now, and is trying to balance that tricky question of How Many Pairs Of Underwear Do I Need To Leave Here. It's a rainy forecast, and with all the stuff God has to deal with all the time, it seems selfish to pray for nicer weather, but...





Tuesday, June 20, 2017

and the question is....

Can I really write an entire post in one sitting these days?


Yesterday, went to the huge-0 mall in the city. The best part was that we met Mali and her little Lydia there. We went into the Home Goods store and tried out the rocking chairs.


Lydia was so good at the mall. I think she liked being out and about and seeing all the people, on a rainy day.


Our new deck steps...the old ones went straight down, and were steep and dangerous.


We're trying to keep the new deck nice and clean, but we still hang towels over the rails.

Today is gymnastics, the last class of the season. We considered the summer program, but it's pricey, and the girls decided they could just practice here, and have one less thing to drive to the city for in the summertime.

And the answer to my opening question is no, my brother stopped in to see the new deck, so ha, but I did come back to it. The kids are getting their lazy summer attitudes on already, no one has had breakfast yet. Evelyn left for her state test (last one for the year!), and Kathryn left for work, and Paul too. We're still on the first pot of coffee, and I have been puttering around, vacuuming, wiping counters, laundry, packing some clothes...only a few days until the cabin! Evelyn's home now...and there's nothing like blogging and nodding uh-huh when your teenager wants to talk about a test...so bye.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

even the days when I don't do anything...

I am doing stuff. Cleaning the pool filter, adding some chlorine, backwashing the pump, then wandering around the yard picking up doggy surprises, candy wrappers which of course NO ONE dropped, weeding around the tomato plants, then sweeping the floors and wiping counters and putting some towels in the washer...I had to drive Suzanne to school this morning...it was really early, and no other kids were there yet, so we drove over to the Dunkin and got her a few donuts...she was nervous, didn't eat breakfast, and only had a bite of one donut...I told her she would be hungry and happy when her test was over, so to save them.

Anyway. That whole post was YESTERDAY. It got so busy around here I couldn't even write. With Real School ended, and end of the year tests winding down, the three high school girls are here more, and Kathryn has been working from home...and Adrian has been here when he can, finishing up the deck.

Jonathan has a friend over, they pitched a tent in the back yard. Kathryn went to the Dollar General in town last evening and bought them snacks, with Charlotte Claire and Camille. Dollar General, popping up in all the small towns...I want to hate them, but it's a handy store...you can get a bag of dog food if you go to scoop it out of the bin for three dancing wagging doggies, and oops, when did we run out of that? You can get birthday party stuff for a last minute bash, you know how those birthdays sneak up, even though they are on the same day every year.

Today, I am going on an adventure. Abigail and Mirielle, Evelyn,Suzanne, Sonja, Charlotte Claire, Camille, and two of the girls' friends, Carmen and Grace. We are going to Lake Ontario to a nature preserve that I have never been to, on the eastern shore. We are leaving in an hour, so I can blog until the last possible minute, then get ready like a crazy woman.

I have been up for two hours already, Saturday morning, and I am wide awake, thinking of all the things I have to do. Then I got up, and surprise! Somebody got into the bathroom garbage, and whee, scattered it all over the living room! I doubt it was Duke, he doesn't have the energy for that. Suri looked mildly guilty but bored with such shenanigans, so the most likely suspect is: Sunny. She was frolicking in it.

I found myself out on the deck transplanting flower sprouts from a big pot to little pots, then sweeping up the floors, then gathering up towels and putting them in the hamper, refilled the dog food bins with the new 44 pound bag from the warehouse store. Time flies when you're doing all the things that no one else sees to do.

And I still have to get the girls up and pack lunch. I am glad my daughters include me in their adventures. I was going to stay here and be with Paul today, but he says he has lots of stuff to do too, so I should just go and have fun. :)

Our kitchen table is groaning with Stuff For Camp. Every time I think of something to pack, I put it over there. Who knew we could need so much stuff for one week?

It's a beautiful day today, and I have too much stuff going through my head to sit here and enjoy writing, blah. I am going to have to keep my laptop in my bedroom so I can just wake up in the mornings and blog before I face the world, and ha, all these kids of mine! I am loving it, though, you know that. I know how fleeting it is, and each one of them will be moving out at some point, probably, (hopefully a few will want to stay forever...I cannot for the life of me understand those people who can't wait to get them all out the door so they can be Empty Nesters. Maybe in ten years if they're all still here I'll change my tune, but I don't think so) Kathryn is leaving in July, for a year in Norway. Evelyn is leaving July 1st for a month in California with her brother Aaron.

Anyway...I have to get up and get ready....the girls hate when I'm not ready when they get here, oh how the tables have turned.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

of course I wouldn't!


...go on a wine tour with two of my daughters! (Mirielle and Emily)
I started out as the designated driver, not that the girls had that much, the tastings are small amounts. The first place we went was pleasant, we were the only customers, and the girls learned about "pairings", trying different appetizers with the wine. I found myself a little jar of pumpkin butter for my Ezekial toast, but it's still in Emily's car.

Anyway. The next place we didn't taste anything, just bought a few bottles because we know it's good. Do you know there's a grape called the "Diamond"? And the Cayuga White? Also, a German grape, which I couldn't pronounce, produces a nice crisp tangy flavor. The third place, the girls decided that I could taste, because Emily was fine to drive. Well. This third place, the wine pourer guy (I don't know if these people have official titles, but they are all very personable and friendly)...but this guy was over-generous, and gave us 8 or 9 tries instead of the six we chose. The Thirsty Owl, it was called, and they have some really good stuff. I am so sophisticated, each time the pourer guy asked what I thought, I would say, "yummy". ha. Mare and I couldn't even look at each other a few times.

The fourth place was a bit off the beaten path, right down near the lake, and it was lovely. The door was propped open, and kitty cats wandered in and out. Mare and I tried a few more. And bought a few bottles.

Place #5, our final stop, we tried a few...but first we asked where the bathroom was...the smarty pants wine pourer guy said, "Right to the left behind this building, there's a hole in the ground." And I said delightedly, "Oh good, just like at home!" He said I won the Best Response Ever. And the best wine there happened to be called, "Smart A$$", and of course I wouldn't buy something like that!

So now we have some bottles of wine for the camp, to share on the dock. (Ashley, I bought you some Cayuga Lake grape juice!)

Home...but first a stop in the grocery store for some strawberries, bread, half and half, burger, chicken, bacon, eggs, and ice cream sandwiches.

Then home...the kids were all gathered on the deck, with the little pool filled to dip their feet in. Emily and Mirielle took Evelyn and Sonja out to Chipotle, it was Nurse's Day for free burritos. I made a chocolate cake, to have with berries and whipped cream, a pasta salad, and burgers on the grill. I hadn't had lunch, and I think the sun and the wine triggered a migraine. I know there are a few wines that do that, but mostly I am okay, since I tried so many, I have no idea which was the culprit. But it may have been a combination of sun, not eating lunch, and the grilling burgers with the smoke going in my face. Whatever the reason, I had a really bad one, getting worse by the minute. I finished cooking, and went to bed, without even eating, since by then I felt like I was going to heave with the pain.

Ibuprofen and quiet under the covers for a few hours, then I got up and had some dinner. It was all cleaned up and put away, and I was sad that I missed some good family time. Margaret and Adrian were here...Adrian is finishing up the deck. He is going to put a railing board along the top of the railing, like a shelf. He finished the gate last night, making the deck like a big playpen for small children, and for animals. It latches really easily. The stair railings are almost done too.

This morning, more state testing, and a study session for Evelyn, so I let her just drive the van to school. Our other van, which was smashed into, is still in the shop, so no vehicle for me today. It's okay, I don't need to go anywhere, and I have to start packing for our vacation.

I still have a residual headache, and feel so drained. It was a horrible one. Right now, I am sitting in my comfy chair with a blanket, coffee, and quiet. Char and Cam decided to sleep in the living room last night, with the doggies. So they have the fan on in the window. The hum of the fan, the coolness of the morning...I could fall back to sleep.

The pool is still green, but getting better as the filter chugs away, and we clean out the cottonwood cotton. Now the weather forecast is for cooler days, wah.








Wednesday, June 14, 2017

far be it from me to....


shamelessly brag about the new deck...and, well, I don't really see it as "bragging", because I am more thankful. Extremely thankful, the kind of thankful that makes me want to cry, because I can't believe it really happened, and that my favorite place in the world became such a clean, vast, open, and welcoming space. It's peaceful on this deck, because it's up near the trees, and the birds are singing, and it's just so amazing.




The old deck ended right smack in the middle of this window, making a nice perch for 25 years of kitties to sit on, look into dining area window, paw at the window, and be let in. It's always been a no-no to simply open the window and let kitty cat in, but even I did it. Notice there's no screen, the nice kitties wrecked that as soon as they could.

Anyway. New deck aside, there are things to do around this gosh-forsaken heck-hole, as Marge Simpson would say. The pool...

This can't even be counted as the "before" pic, because this is after dumping several pounds of chlorine shock in, and finally...turning on the filter! There was a patch job to be done, which required draining the pool a bit, the refilling it...then scooping and scooping and scooping the cottonwood cotton that flew daintily through the air like snow...and landed in the pool. This morning I went out to clean out the filter basket. I put my hand right in that basket to pull out the cottonwood cotton and the leaves, and I felt something yucky. I pulled my hand back out like it was shocked, then I reasoned that it was just a yucky leave. I put my hand back in there, and yuck! Slimy! Pulled it back out...then a third time, telling myself that it was just a slimy leave...yuck! I couldn't do it. I turned off the filter, took out the basket, and yup, it was a...frog. I did a little "I just touched a frog!" dance. eew.

So the pool will probably get clear right in time for our Adirondack vacation, ha.

Today, I am going on an adventure! Emily and Mirielle invited me to go on a wine find. We live in the heart of the Finger Lakes region, wine country! Cayuga Lake, Seneca Lake...the wineries are abundant, and the wine is soooo good! A few weeks ago, we stopped at a place on Cayuga Lake, and found this raspberry wine that's almost sinful. So today, both girls have the day off from stressful nurse jobs, they both work in the big hospital, Em in ICU, Mirielle in oncology. And it's a beautiful day, high seventies and sunny. I told them I would drive if they want to taste the wine. We are getting some for the camp, because there is nothing like sitting on the dock on that Adirondack lake, with a glass of wine.


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

presenting....the new deck!!!!!!!!!!!!


The new stairs are finished, just need the railing completed, but Adrian has to work his "real" job today. Isn't it nice? He did such a good job. The older kids here helped too, mostly Sam and Jon, and Paul too. Today I wiped down the side of the house that wasn't reachable before, washed the windows, and put one Adirondack chair out there, sat and drank half a cup of coffee before driving Evelyn to school for a state test.

We still have to put lots of stuff back, clean up lots of wood in the yard, and figure out how to landscape near the new stairs. The old stairs went straight down, every person in this family fell down those steps at least once...now they have a landing in the middle, so less to fall down, ha. '

Our pool is filling up, we had to drain some of the water to patch where chlorine tablets had disintegrated the liner. It seems to be holding up, and soon we'll turn on the filter and begin clearing up the green. Pools are so much work.

So warm weather means bare feet and outside and finishing up home school...iced coffee and popsicles and running out of ice. Towels everywhere and lots of kids here...

Monday, June 12, 2017

where troubles melt like lemondrops....


But first, let me show you a little bit of fun here...our yard this past weekend...with everything from the deck brought down as it was ripped up and rebuilt...it was blazing hot out, so I made sno-cones for the kids who were working so hard. Adrian, my son-in-law, is the master builder, and he is quite a guy. He doesn't lose his cool, he works so hard.

I've done my best to keep the kids hydrated while they work, and make sure they have good food. Last night, steak on the grill and pasta salad. Saturday night, grilled pork chops, fries, and green beans. Iced tea and ice cream, and lots of ice water, too.

It's not done yet, but soon! And soon I'll be setting the chairs up on our new, bigger deck! It's 12 feet longer now, and extends past the house, affording us a view of the pool, but also of the broken hot tub, wah, but that's another story. I am so thankful for this new deck, I cannot even put it into words. I told the kids they are never ever to get me anything for birthday or Christmas, again, ever. This is just too much. My treetop paradise, which I called the old deck, even though the kids teased me about it, this new one has yet to be named. But I know that it will be a place of fellowship and gatherings, and we will all fit now! So I am very thankful!!!


The dark line under the window is from the rail where the old deck ended. A line which Adrian joked would probably stay there forever, ha.



Adrian and Margaret are here now, so it may just get done today!!! And now, I am off to pick Sonja up from school...then in a few hours, Suzanne and Evelyn want to be picked up...the next week or so they have end of the year Regent's exams, so I'll be driving to the school a lot...

Friday, June 9, 2017

shh, i'm going to target....

I do love me some Target. I hate it, too, how those numbers mystically multiply to an ouchy total at the register, especially when each and ever item put in the cart is scrutinized, then gone over again before we hit the check-out lines, to determine if it's a Want or a Need. Target is chock full of Wants, but when the Wants are reasonable enough, they become Needs. Also, when one has eleven daughters, they NEED stuff. The boys...not so much.

Today, I have things I want/need...new beach towels. I decided that yesterday when we were at the waterfalls park, and Miss Cam came out of the water and wrapped herself up in this striped towel that had stains all over it. We were dying, laughing, and poor Camille didn't see the big deal. This towel had obviously been used to wipe off muddy dogs, and the muddy spots didn't come off during it's ride in the washing machine. So I decided to just go buy a few new beach towels.

And, I want to get some bins to pack things in for the camp.

And, a few new floaties for playing in the water.

And, some clothes that make me look magically thin and fantastic, ha.

But not really.

I'd rather have an outfit that helped me not get be all tuckered out by 9 p.m.

Anyway. I know I have mentioned that we're getting a new deck. If you could picture a 51 year old woman doing the Happy Dance, that would be me. I love our deck, as it is, but it's getting splintery and the boards need to be replaced...so the kids talked, and decided to pitch in and fix it...and as long as they're at it, they're making it bigger! The deck is my happy place, my favorite place, the place where it seems warm, with the wind blocked by the house, even on spring days when it's not actually warm yet. It's where I grill, where we gather, where we have fires on summer evenings. So YAY!!!!! (It's going to be 12 feet longer, 16 feet wide, so that's a nice bit of extra space, yay!!!)

So I'm planning on staying around this weekend and making sure what all who help put in this deck have good food to eat...the grill can be used in the driveway, too. We have to take everything off that deck, dang it.

And now I have to drive Kathryn to work, so I can have the van to pick Evelyn up from school today, and go to Target, ha.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

why can't life just be a spring day?


We live close to so many cool places...today we went to a waterfall park with Mirielle...and Sam, and the three youngest...


Charlotte Claire, Jonathan, and Camille.




Notice my new three dollar sunglasses...I broke my own rule, which is the One Dollar Sunglasses Rule. These were marked down at Walmart, regularly 19 bucks. I don't care what they look like, I usually buy the first pair I put on, which is also one of my rules, I just go by comfort.

Anyway. The sun shone today, and we walked. Mirielle took the three youngest on the four mile trail, but Samuel and I took the easier way, avoided all the steps, and just walked around the park. I logged 2.7 miles, not too bad.

When the hiking and walking were all over, and dips in the water at the foot of the falls were completed, it was time to eat. Imagine our surprise when we realized that not a one of us had carried that cooler down and put it into the van...we had the bag of food, pretzels and popcorn, a few cookies and fruit roll-ups. I don't eat those things, usually, but I did eat some popcorn. The kids were really hungry, but we resisted going to fast food or Mexican or getting ice cream. We did stop at the grocery store for hamburger buns, strawberries, those cute little oranges, and some ice cream sandwiches and fudgsicles.

I grilled 19 burgers tonight, sliced up the pickles and tomatoes, and put out stuff for salad. Summer dinners, ahhh.

School is almost over, the next week will be busy driving the three school girls to Regents exams, year end tests.

Summer, I love summer. I look forward to barefeet and grilling and swimming and staying up late.

Then there is this: we are getting a new deck! We have lived here for 25 years, and our deck is getting rather splintery. The new one will be bigger, and the steps not as dangerous. When it's done, we will have a big cook out. :)

where where have I been?


Out and about with Miss Sonja...I am going to be spending some time with this girl, she has to have another surgery on her knee. I try to make the best of appointments and car drives.

This morning I was taking Kathryn over to Emily's house, the internet there actually works, so Kap can work from there...she is a pharmaceutical sales tech person. Anyway. I drove home on the back road, which winds along a pond...the sun was still low in the east, and the pinks and oranges tinted the water, the fields are lush green. It's only five miles to town where they live, and I don't always feel like driving, but I try to enjoy the talk with Kathryn on the way there, and then just bask in the silence on the way home...

The town is repaving our road this spring, and it's actually closed. We drive on it anyway, but sometimes it's tricky with the pavers and dump trucks. We're thinking of going on an outing with Mirielle this fine sunny day, and hopefully when we decide to leave, we can!

The days are winding down to our cabin in the woods vacation...all SIXTEEN kids and spouses will be there! And of course the two little granddaughters:) And, this year, the Grandma/Great Grandma is coming, too! Paul's mom..she will be staying in a motel in the little town, but will be with us during the days. Every time I think of it, I get so excited, then I feel like crying because I love these kids of mine, no matter how old they get. I love seeing them interact, and when we're all on vacation, and we're in the Adirondacks, no one has anywhere to be or needs rides, we're just there. Paul gets to use his brother's boat, so they go out fishing and we have a few kayaks, and the camp provides a canoe. I like sitting on the dock in the sun (I hope we get lots of sun!)

Anyway...our kitchen table, from now to camp time, is a stacking place for things for camp. I have warned the kids not to eat/take anything from the stacks, we'll see. There will be someone, of course, who never heard me say that.

So I have been here, busy, too busy to write...Mali came over with sweet Lydia yesterday...then we had a talent show at church, where Emily and I and Susan made ten pizzas...Buffalo chicken pizza, and barbecued chicken pizza, and cheese and pepperoni pizzas. We served nachos and corn dogs, and Kim made cotton candy.

It was great fun, and Miss Char and Miss Cam with their friend Amanda and cousin Dani won first prize! They sang, "The Star Spangled Banner", and did a gymnastic routine/dance.

Monday, June 5, 2017

the sun did not shine, it was too wet to play....


so we sat in the house all that cold cold wet day...(Dr. Seuss)...

We didn't really sit in the house all day, between rain showers it cleared up and was downright sunny. Then the clouds rolled in, and it poured! The house got dark and cozy, and we put on another pot of coffee. The girls got home from school, and made macaroni and cheese for after-school-snack. I had leftover meatballs and spaghetti squash (I LOVE spaghetti squash! It's so easy to make, too, I just cut the thing in half, scoop out the guts, then microwave the two halves until tender...pull it all out of the two halves with a fork, and voila! It's better than pasta!)

We might go to the library later, but maybe not. It's been a wonderful day to stay home...we had bacon and eggs for breakfast, Miss Charlotte Claire likes chopping onions and peppers and making the yummiest scrambles.

Tomorrow...dentist, gymnastics, pick up rental car, and do shopping for kids church Talent Show, I am doing the food...homemade pizzas, nachos, corn dogs, popcorn, and cotton candy courtesy of Kim.

I have to go pick Kathryn up from work soon, and make dinner, switch laundry...

Sunday, June 4, 2017

me and my big plans...ha

I was just telling someone yesterday that with 16 kids, I have learned the art of going with the flow, mostly. Not a whole lot surprises me anymore, and I know that plans are not written in stone. In fact, I have a hard time committing to things because there are so many variables!


In fact the other day, after pulling in the driveway from picking Paul up from work, you know, we're down a minivan, ect., and Abigail called....her car had stalled as she was leaving work...the engine light went on, so she decided not to take the big highway...then the car decided not to drive at all...so, I went and picked her up, and the tow truck took her car to the magical place that takes all of our money, ha.


The next day, she bought me these:)

And yay for sisters, because Emily let her drive her car to work, as she had the day off...and that was Friday. Evelyn texted me from school, shh, and asked me to please please pick her up. I was fiddling with the idea of the grocery store anyway, but my refrigerator man was coming over, I think he just likes us. Sam and Jonathan said they were fine to talk to him if he came before we got back, so I got Ev from school, picked up Emily, we got coffee and free donuts...

(no, I didn't eat any)...

We went to Target, and I finally got a new firepit! I agonized over it, they're the kind of thing I see on clearance when I don't need one, and then are pricey when our old one burns through. So...I got one.

Price Chopper had sirloin steak on sale for $2.99 a pound, so I bought some of that..even if the 'fridge didn't get fixed, I was grilling that on Friday night...a little bit of onion powder, some freshly ground pepper, and a lemon, squeezed on it while the first side grilled...I also cut up watermelon and cantaloupe and strawberries...Evelyn and I made red skinned mashed potatoes, and a big salad with radishes from the garden.





Anyway. The refrigerator works again. The fan was rubbing, causing it to turn off. He adjusted it, and suggested I get in contact with Samsung and let them know what's been going on, which I already have been. I didn't point out that the lady who answers the phone and scheduled this very guy's visits told me that Samsung already knows what's going on, and wouldn't email me any repair records. The guy also assured me that, "Samsung doesn't care.", and I aim to change that!

So...Saturday was a blank slate for me...I was going to help Paul in the garden, and had possible plans go on a wine tour. Then I was needed to drive the younger kids' group on an Activity Club end of the year celebration trip. I don't know how it happened, but I said yes, and I had fun! Three other adults and I had four boys and four girls...we walked along the water, they played in it, we walked to the falls, we walked back and had a picnic, they played on the playground, we stopped for ice cream, then I drove kids home...what a nice day! I didn't get home until like six in the evening, after leaving the house at 9:30 a.m.


I was super thankful that my mother-in-law had gotten us a big panful of barbecued chicken halves from a local church's fundraiser. I didn't have to make dinner, plus the chicken was absolutely delicious.

Anyway, my plans changed Saturday, but two of the little girls on that trip were Char and Cam. And the other kids are sweet and amusing and had so much fun.

This fine morning...I woke up early so I could sit here and write in the quiet, because it's been a few days. Well. Ha.


We have pets. Most of the time, I love having pets. But when you wake up in the morning and the garbage can is tipped over, empty ice cream containers and coffee grounds and chicken bones...all over the kitchen AND living room, they had quite the party! Then I let them out and start cleaning it up, thinking of the ticking clock, how we are leaving for church soon, and I have to get this all cleaned up before I can make coffee and blog...then when I've finished and let the dogs in, only two are there...I go out and investigate, and the little terrors have tipped a can over outside too! I grabbed an empty Target bag to scoop it all back up and back into the can, but yuck and rrr.

After they were fed and watered and pet, and the kitties fed...I got to sit here. But not for long this fine morning...

The kittens are roly-poly and adorable, and are finding new homes this week. Emily is taking one of them and the other two are spoken for, one already left the other day to Suzanne's friend from school. Perhaps this time we'll get Miss Kettler "fixed" before this happens again. Sunny's getting spayed soon. Puppies and kitties are pricey, too. But most of the time they're really worth it. Most of the time.













Thursday, June 1, 2017

going on that walk in the morning...


I like to take my morning walk for a few reasons, but mostly because it sets the day up with a feeling of accomplishment. I walk because it clears my head. I don't take music, I just think about things. I like the thought that it helps burn calories, and that when I am consistent with it, it gets easier.

This fine day started at 5:50 again, driving Paul to work because the smashed up van is still in the shop, the adjuster cannot even look at it until Monday, wah. I will be picking up a rental car today though, which is fine with me, I don't mind driving a nice new car for a week. The other minivan is still in the shop too, I brought it in yesterday for an inspection after the truck was finished, and it's still there. So today I have to pick that up, hopefully pick up the rental car, and pick Paul up from work. I got home from driving him there at 6:50, then helped the three high school girls pack up lunches, and talked to them while they got ready...then my walk.

Our refrigerator saga continues...I have to call them AGAIN, because it still isn't working, it's 50 degrees in there. It's frustrating because I went shopping and bought more refrigerator items, finally, and now they're getting too warm. I just want a b refrigerator that works, without all this drama. You pay a thousand bucks, and have this go on and on and on...blah.

Yesterday I drove to the auto place in town a few times (dropped off the truck, picked it up and dropped off the van, then drove there to pick up the van but it wasn't ready yet...), then in the afternoon, went to pick up Sonja from school for her orthopedic appointment. Samuel and Jonathan came along too, the truck fits four. The appointment went how I suspected it would go...she needs surgery again. There is still a piece of something floating behind the kneecap, eroding the cartilage there, and causing pain and damage. So the first week in July, that's what we'll be doing.

We went to Walmart afterward because Sam needed something for his car, which he is trying to get on the road. I just puttered around, bought some of those little Cutie oranges the kids love for lunches, bagels, crackers, and a few 88 cent dish towels. I love/hate Walmart. I love the variety of stuff, the low prices, but the way they make money hand over fist, while employing only minimal cashiers, making customers line up and wait to scan their own items, ugh. I hate that they caused so many American factories to shut down while building factories in China. The employees in our local Walmart are really nice, have been there forever. I like that I can go there and get everything from dog chow to almonds to new socks, while getting tires on the van.

Then home to drop off Sam, Sonja, and Jon, then pick Paul up from work...

Anyway. I dread making the appliance store phone call, I don't like making phone calls. I don't like dealing with this refrigerator stuff, but I have to.

Here's something happy though: our Adirondack vacation is coming up soon! All 16 kids will be there for most of the week!!!











Wednesday, May 31, 2017

don't worry mom, everything's fine...


You know, if you have ever had teenagers, how the phone calls can go...the ones you just dread...in this case, everything WAS fine, except for the van. No one was in it, it was parked in front of Emily's house, and someone backed into it. Never a dull one, I tell you.

And here's the thing: Miss Procrastinator that I am had three vehicles to get inspected by the end of May, which is today. I got one done last week, and lo and behold it needed a new hub bearing, so we were without it for a day or two. So I thought I would squeeze the other two in yesterday and today...well, yesterday, guess what? I forgot.

And now this one is in the auto shop, leaving me to drive Paul to work this morning at the slightly unGodly hour of 6 a.m., woke up at 5:30...now this isn't terrible, to start the day when the sun is coming up, but I could NOT fall asleep last night, the adrenaline of the phone call, or maybe the burst of activity at 11:00 p.m....I don't know.

So soon I leave for town, to drop Paul's truck off for inspection, then hope I don't get a ticket for the other minivan, as it won't get in today.

This is why you don't leave things to the last minute.

The first part of the day was nice...the refrigerator guy fixed the refrigerator.

I left for the small city to take the little girls to gymnastics. We stopped first at the thrift store, where we didn't find too much, but they enjoy browsing. Then to Moe's for lunch...

(what?! We had coupons!) The workers at this particular Moe's are so nice! We dawdled and enjoyed our fresh salsa and chips, and tacos and salad (me).

Then to the dollar store, where we always find something we need, like cinnamon bread and store brand cereal. I got coffee at my favorite little place (A Simple Roast), it's so yummy.

After class, we had a mission! Miss Cam has stopped with her thumb, and sorry to embarrass you, Camille, but mama is very proud of your determination! Once she decided, it was a done deal. I promised her something nice for a prize, so we decided on a swing for the tree in the front yard. They had them at the warehouse store, but when we went there yesterday, there were none to be found. Cam was feeling sad, I saw her lip quivering, she was so set to get her swing...she insisted we ask if they had any more. Now, warehouse club stores usually have all their merchandise out, so I thought it was fruitless, but Cam insisted we ask. As we were checking out (self-check, the girls love scanning stuff), I asked an employee...and she said, "Oh, there's one behind the service desk, it may have been a return...but there's nothing wrong with it, it seems to be all here..." Yay!!!! Cam kept telling me, "I told you we had to ask!"





And I went on my walk this morning...

Even though I had lots of really good reasons why I didn't really need to:)

I have to pick Sonja up early from school this afternoon to take her to the orthopedic doctor about last week's MRI of her knee. Then I have to pick Paul up from work.

I ordered end of the year tests for the homeschooled kids, and we have some things to wrap up. So I won't be sitting around today wondering what to do with myself, ha.

Today's goals:

Stay far far away from chocolate and ice cream. I am not one of those nonchalant people whom I hate and admire, who just wave soft serve cones and chocolate chip cookies away indifferently.

Be nice. Be warm. Be forgiving. Stay far far away from backbiting. Be patient.

Clean this place up. The rain last evening + three Labradors = muddy floors.

Laundry.

Enjoy the day...



























Tuesday, May 30, 2017

the ongoing saga of the refrigerator repairs....


All eleven daughters, and one grand daughter, and one puppy...this is from last summer. I know it has nothing to do with the refrigerator, but it's such a nice picture.

The repairman is coming again today. The fan in our brand new Samsung refrigerator is frozen up again, causing the bottom few drawers to be icy cold, and the top of the unit to be too warm. The freezer part works fine, thankfully. It happens again and again, so today the board is going to be replaced.

So this fine rainy morning, when I just wanted to sit in my cozy chair and sip my coffee and write amazing blog posts, I had to clean up the house because the fixer guy is coming. It seems like every day it's something, we were gone all day on Saturday, on Sunday, and part of Monday (I had a super nice brunch with Emily, Abigail, Evelyn, Suzanne, friend Page, and my sister Cheryl yesterday morning!) So this morning, I got up and started cleaning, as per usual, but the animals are brats today. The pups went in and out a few times, and it's pouring out, so 12 paws to wipe off. The kitty-cat is all active today too, meowing to go in and out of the room where her baby kittens are, then to be fed, then to go outside, and of course she can't stay out too long because of the rain, and because of the kittens. Then when I thought all was settled, I sat down, put my feet up, and Sunny started hacking...and sorry, but yeah, she barfed on the towel near the door, so yeah, that towel went into the trash. I hate to be so wasteful, but it WAS an old rippy towel, there to wipe down wet puppies, but still. We have seriously downsized our towel supply since we have gotten Little Miss Sunshine. And dang it, I think there are a few messes on the deck I have to deal with before the repairman arrives.

But anyway. Kittens!



This little black on is the runt of the litter, and also a scaredy cat. Sunny likes kittens, she wants to make friends. She was sniffing them, when this little one started hissing, Sunny ran away, to over near the door...she flopped down and put her head on her paws and sighed.


Is anything cuter than Miss Lydia with an ice cream cone? She came for a visit last night. :)


The Memorial Day Parade! That's Sebastian and Linnea and William with Camille...my niece's kids, love them!


Miss Charlotte Claire with her big sister Emily Anne...child #15 with child #1, who is not really a child anymore, ha.


Suzanne and I...


Char with Sunny...

Today is gymnastics day! We have testing to do, and math, and and and. The kids are still sleeping though, they had an exhaustingly busy weekend!

Weight loss: ha. Ha ha ha. There's something depressing about really trying for a month, and when the month ends...down only two pounds. But, at least it's down, and not up. And my daily walking...I put a few miles in yesterday, but my knee has been clicking something crazy, so this fine morning I decided not to go out in the pouring rain...but I am determined to do other exercises in the house today. The thing about lack of progress is that I feel like I do all this suffering, because yes, it is hard for me to not eat all of the cookies, then I just say, "What the heck." That's what I did on Sunday night. Paul had gone fishing with the boys, and I was here with some of the girls, some of the older ones visiting too, and I just had ice cream. With hot fudge and sprinkles. And then I had some more. I know, I know, fat girls shouldn't eat ice cream, and certainly not seconds! It was so yummy, why couldn't it have been disappointing, why couldn't I have felt horrible eating it? I don't eat sugar on a regular basis, nor any sort of bread (except for occasional Ezekial toast), no pasta or even fruit, with the exception of a small serving of berries or a few slices of an orange. So the sugar rush I experienced with the ice cream was actually quite nice.

But it's back to work now, back to seriousness, back to saying no. I have to live like this, even though I am rather stuck. It's for my blood pressure, to prevent diabetes, it's for my best, and I really don't mind.

But oh that ice cream was sooooo good.











Saturday, May 27, 2017

in the quiet of the morning...



I so appreciate when I get a chance to think...there are 11 of us living in our home these days, and it's usually a bit like a circus. On one hand, I don't like the clock ticking silence for TOO long, but then before long kids will come yawning into the living room, and the usual Saturday morning race for the washing machine will begin. Paul will go to the dump, and we'll pack up snacks and lunches, we have a church conference today! Joseph and Samuel will be playing soccer, too.

Here's something that will embarrass Miss Camille when she gets older, sorry in advance Cam...she stopped sucking her thumb. Now, I read so many things that instantly shamed me, Bad Mom Award, having a nine year old child who still thumb sucked! It usually pointed to a stressed child, a child who was perhaps suffering some sort of abuse. I don't really care if it reflected badly on me, but I did feel a twinge of that What Is Wrong With Me feeling once in a while. And of course, I felt bad for Miss Cam!!! She's such a lovely child...such a treasure...and her poor teeth! I was embarrassed for her, my heart broke for her, when she would absently sneak that thumb in when she was tired or thinking about things. I tried to help her, but every time I suggested something, that we read about it, ect., she got very upset and defensive. I tried ignoring it, along with giving the evil eye to any of my other kids who thought they were helpful in telling her twenty five times a day to Take Your Thumb Out, Cam. Leave Her Alone, I would hiss nicely.

Then one night, I suggested we talk about it, find some articles online, and she was very open for it. We looked at the appliances that cover the thumb, and she thought they looked stupid and babyish. We decided to get her a thumb splint/cast/wrap, a medical looking thing that made it look like she maybe sprained her thumb, but in the mean time, she put a band aid on to remind herself.

Well, I never did get around to buying her that splint/cast/wrap, but I did buy her a variety of band aids, and guess what? She finished! She hasn't put it in her mouth in a few weeks! She is such a determined kid, once SHE decided, the battle was half won.



I can't help thinking that's a good lesson for life, once we make a decision, that's half the battle. When I decided a few years ago to finally battle this weight I had put on, it seemed hopeful, it seemed possible, and I was mentally ready to tackle it. It's the same with our spiritual life! We need to come to the place when we realize that it is not everyone else in the world who is causing my frustration, my pain, my trials. It is MY battle, and I can come to complete peace in my life! It's absolutely normal to be tested and tempted and feel at my wits end sometimes, but that's where God can do his work in me. Trials are totally necessary, otherwise I just skate along, thinking I'm something great. He listens, He answers, He is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.

I cannot control all the circumstances in my life, in order to make me happy. I can't stop the idiot drivers, but I CAN work on my own road rage. (who, me?). I can't make the rain go away or the stop the dogs from shedding or my teenagers from rolling their eyes...oh, life. We can either get steamrolled by our own sin, or we can side with God and get victory.

My house...every day there is so much to do here. I don't like the endless cleaning up, the daily messes...this fine morning I had to face the fact that I made popcorn last night, the good pan popped stove top stuff, popped in coconut oil and drizzled with butter...I mean, who really cleans up after popcorn, at 11 p.m.?

The floors NEED sweeping, at least once a day, it's horrible in here in the morning: dog fur. Three dogs worth of dog fur. Spring shedding. And dogs bring in dirt and dust, too. Even though we wipe their paws, it still comes in. Sunny and Suri both had baths yesterday, but still. They're messier than little kids. And sometimes, I feel sick of having dogs. (Then they greet me with all that wagging, and I love them all over again)

Anyway. I am full of thankfulness. Our cabin in the Adirondacks is coming up next month, and as far as I know, each and every one of our sixteen kids will be there, plus the two granddaughters, spouses, friends. They won't all be there for the whole week, so we'll have to figure out a day when they all are there and get a new family picture....










Thursday, May 25, 2017

rain rain, don't go away...

I like the cozy weather. It's watering our plants! Our lawn doesn't need any more watering, the grass is creeping up too high as it is. But the dark overcast skies make it a perfect day to go to the library.

Samuel is working on a history timeline with the kids.

Rainy weather is not fun with paws to wipe off several times a day...Sunny LOVES the rain. Suri will go to the door, and stand there changing her mind, Duke will just sleep through it all. But sometimes they all go out, and I'm thankful they are trained to come in and SIT, so I can dry them off.

Anyway. Life is good. I haven't seen Paul much lately, but how cool is this: we've been married for 33 years, and I still get all happy, anticipating spending time with him.

This fine morning I woke at 5:40, and took Miss Sonja K. in for an MRI of her knee. The technician was confused because the procedure was to be done, "with contrast", but the dr. indicated on the prescription that he wanted I.V. dye instead of an injection into the joint of the affected knee. He called the office yesterday to clarify, to question why the doctor wanted it this way, and he said he was treated rudely. We discussed it, and decided to just go ahead with it the way it was stated, surprise Sonja, you are having an I.V. this morning!

She was fine with it, just wanted to go to school. But first we had to stop home, pick up Kathryn, pick up the other minivan from being inspected, oil changed, and a new hub bearing installed...then home, ah home. I skipped my walk. I know I won't melt, but...I just cleaned up the house instead.

So many things are going on right now, and honestly, sometimes I am tempted to be overwhelmed. I've had thoughts of not being good enough, thoughts of despair, thoughts of doubt about how things go...but deep down, I know, I just KNOW...that God causes all things to work together for the good for those who love him, and that brings tremendous comfort. I know that trials are good for me, that a tested faith if worth more than gold, and that it doesn't matter how things look on the outside, it's what's going on inside my heart that matters.

And can I end today's post by saying how thankful I am? These kids of mine...they bless me and keep me wondering, keep me laughing, and keep me hopping. I am so proud of them all, and if I could go back and do the whole thing over again, I would still receive them with joy.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

ah, life is good....


From my morning walk...which I almost didn't take. I am an expert in talking myself out of doing things that are good for me. This morning, I slept in as much as I could, as I am planning to stay up late tonight...then I remembered I had to get up and take the van in for an inspection! I had to drive into town, and then drop Kathryn off at Emily's house...I still enjoy those little drives all by my lonesome, quiet time to think is something a mom with lots of kids doesn't take for granted.

Home...ah I wanted coffee and relaxation...but no sir, it was time for the walk. Maybe later, I said to myself. Yes, later. I looked at the coffee pot, all hot and yummy...but no, I put my sneakers on.

I got halfway down the road, and saw the guys that work for the town making white lines in the road. I thought I should just turn around, yes, that's a good idea. Wait, the road is still open, I can still walk, I am not that shy, just walk by the guys, and you'll be fine. (Can you tell I'm not a city girl?) So I walked, said good morning to all three of them and agreed that yes, it is a good morning for a walk. Then on the way back, I realized that if those guys move down our road faster than me, our dogs might be outside, ready to bark at them. So I hurried back...and passed them...and asked what they were doing, btw. Repaving our road. Oh joy, I might have to find another place to walk, or get my rear out the door really early.

So I walked, and it makes me happy.

This also makes me happy....

This is Miss Evelyn Joy, my eleventh child, whom I call, "Elle-evenne", sometimes, with little Lydia Eleanor. Auntie Ev. God gives life, and children are a gift straight from heaven.

Monday, May 22, 2017

yeah, I'm still alive....

Although I do have to remind my sister of my password so she can let you all know if and when I do expire. What?! There is a 100% chance it will happen someday!

Anyway, on to more acceptable thoughts, happier subjects! This fine morning, I took Little Miss Sunshine on a walk. She isn't terrible on a leash, but she needs more training. I stopped walking everytime she pulled, so we were really stop and go for a stretch, but she also has a hang-up about going too far down the road, I think she smells the scary cows. She just stops in the road and sits down. So I tell her she wins, and we turn around.

So many things always going on around here, but I don't want to bore you with the details...so I will just write a random list, which you can skim or not:)

1. Paul did not go to India on Friday. His flight out kept getting delayed, until the connecting flights became impossible, and then the whole domino effect of him not getting there unless all plans changed...so he had to cancel the trip.

2. Emily and I did the shopping for the wedding...the food came out excellent, our friend Christine from Ottowa was the chef, the meal was one Mirielle had made for a youth gathering...grilled chicken breast served with jasmine rice which is cooked in coconut water and coconut milk, topped with a pineapple and red pepper salsa. The salad before the meal was fresh beets and pears, with spring mix and crumbled goat cheese. The dessert was soft ice cream with a whole slew of topping choices, which I did not partake of, for all the good it does me, I am just not losing...but that's a whole 'nother story.

3. The wedding was SO nice. I didn't sleep but three hours the night before, Duke woke me up, I let them out, an animal had gotten into the garbage, so they thought it was a buffet...long story short, I was WIDE awake, and couldn't get back to sleep. So I headed to the wedding with a major migraine coming on...it was really starting to steamroll me by the time we got there, really bad...but then I got out of the car, and noticed...it was gone. It totally disappeared. I took that as a huge gift from God. (it has never happened like that before, they usually get worse and worse, then take a few days to recover from)

4. Paul left with Kathryn this morning to drive to New York City, five hours away, to the Norwegian Embassy to get Kathryn's visa for her year in Norway. She is leaving in July. I was supposed to go, but since Paul's trip to India got cancelled, he volunteered.

5. Our refrigerator continues to give us trouble, the repairman has ordered a new "board", which I assume will magically fix it.

6. Margaret and Adrian invited the three younger kids to their place for the night when they thought I was the one going to NYC with Kathryn, but now that I'm not, they said the kids could still stay there. The kids opted to do that, of course.

7. On Friday, Charlotte Claire and Camille and I made 295 cookies for the wedding. 220 of them had to be packaged in cute little individual wraps, to be wedding favors. The rest were for rehearsal dinner/ect. I brought home a few of the rejects to the kids here. Those littlest girls of mine are amazing, they helped measure and cracked the eggs, and really helped make the cookies on the trays. We made three triple batches, and they helped until we were finished, with no complaints.

8. This morning I am drinking the yummy coffee that Samuel brought me from San Francisco....it has hints of berry and chocolate, but only subtle hints, it's so good.

9. I have so many things to do. The little details of life, the late library book and the bills and the end of the year testing and reports for homeschool, vet appointments, dentist appointments, three vehicles that need inspections this week...and Sonja has an MRI of her knee this week.

10. Yesterday afternoon, Samuel and Jonathan invited the boys from their youth group over, to hang out, and for dinner. It was a rainy day, so they were in the house, which seemed to shrink when they all piled in. Sonja and I headed out to the grocery store to get some stuff to make taco salad. We went to Target first, just a quick stop, because it was just Sonja and I...and she needed some shorts. A few other teenage daughters were surprised and dismayed that we went to Target without them.

11. After the taco salad, we served brownies and ice cream to the boys, and our own kids of course. By the time I got the last dishes done, it was after eight o'clock, and I was tired. But Evelyn and I stayed up and watched, "Dark Angel" on PBS.

12. My sister is having a good week, all seven of her daughters are in town, including Claire, who now lives in Australia with her husband and son.

But here's the thing...in all these things, all the details and busy stuff that goes on, I get to choose my attitude. I truly do. I cannot change my kids, or my husband, or other drivers or decisions that are made about things. I can just get all frustrated and bitter and miserable and feel misunderstood and look at life all dismally...or I can trust that God will give me victory over the sin that wants to weigh me down. This past week, I had some trials. And some tears. Life isn't always smooth sailing, but it is always good when I turn to God...and let HIM run the show. It's such a burden lifted when that happens. I pray for wisdom and patience and goodness, I am obedient to what I hear from Him, and then the other things fall into place.

My house needs cleaning, the clothes in the washer need to go in the dryer, I am supposed to make a dessert for something tomorrow, but the dogs are snoring and the house is quiet...it's a dark and cozy morning, my mother-in-law is back from Florida and I am going to visit her this afternoon. Life is good.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

a merry heart....

is good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones...(prov 17:22)


From my walk down the road this morning...


On my walk, happy because my legs work, and the weather is stellar, and mostly because I decided to trust God.

When you have lots of kids, it isn't likely that all of them are having easy, trial-free days at the same time. And sometimes, the poop just seems to hit the fan in large loads, leaving mom to wonder What The H? (heck, of course.)

It seems easy in retrospect, to trust God and accept the children, sweet baby after sweet baby...then they grow up...and my heart is entwined right in theirs, I love them more than ever...and whatever muck they step in, well, it gets my feet dirty too.

But I cannot, and will not, let my heart be troubled by their trials! I will remain steadfast in faith, that God causes all things to work together for the good for those who love him. What good am I to my children if I lose heart?

Emily's here, and I am not ready to leave...bye for now.