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

Thursday, August 17, 2017

summer morning....

Life isn't always fun. The other night we found out that Paul's mom had gone into the E.R., and was being admitted to the hospital. Paul and I went up and spent some time with her, along with other family members...and left when she was all tucked into her own room. I visited yesterday morning, then Paul was there in the afternoon while I headed to the Amphitheater to work a concert, with Mariel, Sam, Evelyn, and Suzanne. Abigail took the three younger kids for a visit last night, and saw Ben and Ashley and Anya there.

I hope Grandm makes a full recovery. She's been so strong and independent, she's so smart and opinionated and caring...she's also a rememberer of birthdays, she's thoughtful and giving. She will be 88 years old next week, but she's still as sharp as a tack. She still lives on her own, drives, takes care of herself. So it's been beyond difficult to see her, sick.

With all the nurses in the family, and a cousin med student, there's input and speculation, but also a good support system, and people who love her who can help make informed decisions.

The one thing that has become so clear: Grandma has so many fans! So many who love her so dearly!

So my days pass by swiftly...it seems by the time we get things in order around here and decide what to do with the day, it's half gone. Evelyn is home from California, Sonja surprised her by chalk painting the bunk beds in their room, from ugly old 30 year old wood finish, to a nice gray.

Samuel signed up for the Army Reserves, six years of one weekend a month service, along with a two week stint each summer, and of course the ever possible threat of being deployed. But there are benefits too, healthcare and further training (he's changing his M.O. from just Infantry to some sort of civilian/Army liason officer). But the good thing is, he got free t-shirts, shh, 17 of them! One for almost all of us, ha, because yes, mom wants one too!


You know what? My whole life feels like the children's book, "A Cow In The House"...it's a story about an old woman, who is trying to roll out noodles in her kitchen...but her kitchen is just too small! So small! The whole house is too small! She starts fussing and fretting, so her husband goes and asks Grandpa Wiseman what to do...and is told to bring a chicken into the house...then a goat...then the pig! and finally, the cow. The house gets REALLY small. Then the wiseman tells the old man to start taking the animals out, one by one...then finally, even with just the cow in the house, the house feels bigger! Then...the cow goes back outside, and that house is huge!

Having eight kids in the house seems like just a few chickens, and ha, maybe the pig.

It's still busy sometimes. Today, Camille is getting her wish to go to the library. Then later, Mariel and I are picking up Paul's truck keys from a lady in town...the keys story is a good one:
Joseph took some of the boys to the canal, and oops, he dropped the keys into the water! Down the stream the went, swirling in the current...he had to a ride back here to the house to get the second set of keys (Paul is just NUTS about always knowing where BOTH sets of keys are, and ha, yeah, one is usually in one of my pockets or in the deep recesses of my purse). Anyway. A few days later, Mariel sees on Facebook this set of lost keys...and is certain they belong to Dad, not knowing the story of Joseph losing them. She called me, I told her story, she contacts co-worker who posted story...turns out a small boy found them while fishing in a creek a ways away from where they were dropped. Anyway, we are going to pick them up today, and believe me, we will be bearing a gift card, for their kindness in looking for the owner:)

Well, kids are up and talking and I can not write right now...

Monday, August 14, 2017

dog days of summer....


These two...lazy as the day is long...although Sunny still has crazy energy sometimes...this very morning she has destroyed one plastic bag, a scrubby sponge, and has chewed off the plastic tabs attached to the Melissa and Doug's shopping cart, eaten half a bowl of kitten chow, and is now playing tag with that kitten...Suzanne's kitten, you know, the one she said she'd keep in her room?
Kitten and Sunny are besties. Sunny plays so gently with that kitty. They run around the house, and the kitten is one thing, but Sunny is the bull in the china shop...kitty goes behind the couch no problem, so Sunny tries it too. Kitty jumps up to the window sill, Sunny almost topples the lamp in her hot pursuit. It's way too much fun. But Suzanne is giving the kitty away tomorrow, to a lady who works for a vet office and is looking for a small orange and white kitty. But, shh, our other kitty is having kittens...again...she's a kitty making machine, and yes, we are going to get her spayed...I am going to make an appointment as soon as this new litter is born...

But enough about the animals, except to mention this: Suri seems really sad. She's down in the dumps. Sunny is young and dumb and life is fun and there's stuff to chew on and chase, but Suri misses Duke. We've all noticed her gloominess. Poor girl. I miss Duke too, much more than I thought I would, and that sounds mean, but honestly: I thought there would be more relief...relief from seeing him suffering as he heaved himself up to follow me a measly three or four feet away, just to lie down again...relief from seeing the look on his face, and me knowing how numbered his days were...but instead of relief, there is just sadness, a huge sadness, and having the other two doggies helps...but I still miss him like crazy. When I find myself looking for him on the couch...holding the door open because he was always dead last coming up the deck steps...then realizing he's gone, and having that punched in the gut feeling. The fact that he was "only a dog" hasn't made any difference to my heart.

We had a busy weekend here...I worked at the Ampitheater on Saturday night for the Luke Bryan concert. The music: meh. I'm not a huge fan. It all sounded the same, and his voice is just so-so. It was crazy busy though, and our prices are high, which isn't our fault, we just work there...but it gets tiring, hearing the complaints. I know, five bucks for a bottle of water is crazy, but do you really need to decorate your disdain with the "F" word? One guy asked Paul how he could sleep at night. "Just fine", he said.

Yesterday was Fix The Leaky Washing Machine Day. It took the better part of the day...Paul watched videos and did it himself. He had to remove the dryer from on top, and to have room for that, bring half the stuff from the laundry room out here to the living room, after I had already swept and cleaned up...but I did sort some things and match some socks. He got it all fixed up, and we put in the trial load...and yay, it works! It didn't leak!

I made pasta salad, and some chocolate chip cookies, then put together some chicken kabobs...just marinated chicken (Italian dressing and lots of Jamaican Jerk seasoning), made some potatoes, Paul cut up summer squash, onions, and green peppers and grilled that too...it was a nice summery meal, eaten outside with Mariel here, and Margaret and Adrian, and Mali and Lydia.

Today is a nice day, sunny and pleasant, with the morning cicadas making their high pitched sounds. Apparently in New York state, we have annual cicadas, named, ha, Dog Day Cicadas. They make their shrill noises in...the dog days of summer.

We live near a tiny little regional airport, and today is a nice calm clear day for the small planes to fly, so they are buzzing overhead too. The birds are singing, the dogs are snoring...ah, summertime. Today, we are going over to our friends' house to swim in their inground pool...the kids love the diving board. I love talking to our friends, and cooling off, and who doesn't like sunshine on their skin? It's what I dream about all winter! We have to leave soon to pick up the little girls' friend Amanda. Then pack up our lunches and get moving. :)

Tomorrow, Evelyn is coming home from California, so airport trip for me.!!!

And...in a few weeks: I am going to California with Sonja!!!!!! Warmth and sunshine...and redwood trees, the Pacific Ocean, seeing Aaron and Riley...yay!!!!!!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

sad sad day....


Sam feels really bad...Duke was his friend.


Jonny too...he was with me when we went to pick Duke up, back four summers ago...Duke jumped right into the van, hopped onto that back seat next to Jon, and Jon called him, "Friend".

Paul was in Germany when we got Duke. I found him on Craigslist...free to good home, it said. He was lovely, so I called. Yes, they said, he's excellent with kids. He's friendly and good, but they had moved into a small apartment from their big farm, and weren't allowed to keep him. He was seven then, and already a bit hobbly. The owner told us, as we stood in the doorway of that small apartment, that three people had already come to see him and declined to take him, because he was too old. Well, that sold me immediately.

So we took him, his bling chain collar, his sturdy orange leash, his next dose of K-9 Advantage, and the rest of his 20 pound bag of Old Roy. We took him home. Paul called that evening, and asked, "What's new?" "A chocolate Lab!", I said.

After he settled in, and fathered one puppy, after which we got Suri spayed (the puppy didn't make it, but that's a whole 'nother story)...Duke belonged here. Suri wouldn't go outside without him, he wouldn't go outside without her. They would stand there on the deck and wait for each other. They barked at company together, and they shared the couch. They were companions and friends. Then we got Sunny last summer, just a wee baby pup, because Duke's days were numbered...but he lived and lived, with us watching and speculating and knowing, his time was running out.

It was pretty clear lately that he was seriously ready to go...his muscle mass was dwindling, he was barely eating, getting thinner and more wobbly....


So today we brought him to the vet. He settled right down on the green blanket on the floor, and that was the end of his story. Mostly. Can I tell the rest? Is it okay? Okay. So Duke was kind of an old man of a dog. He had this disgusting habit of clearing his throat, kind of gag-like coughing. It was so loud and gross, and we would all be like, "Duke, yuck!". Anyway, the vet explained that after he passed away, his body would perhaps give some involuntary shudders, ect. So he died...the vet checked for a heartbeat, and gently told us that he was gone. Then he did that yucky barfy sounding throat clearing thing. Once. Twice. We left that room, and walked through the waiting room crying our eyes out, Sonja and I...then we laughed our heads off at Duke being so rude, even in death. It was comic relief. We kept laughing about it, and kept crying for him. Off and on, all day.

I am sad. I am really sad. I have his collar here. I am thankful we have Little Miss Sunshine, so Suri doesn't worry about where Duke is.

We did go to the beach...we sat in the sun, we talked about things, we talked about Duke....and life goes on.









Wednesday, August 9, 2017

sunshine and puppydogs...

And going out and about with teenagers...

Suzanne, me, friend Irene, and Sonja...

Sonja had to go to the doctor for her post surgery check up, and she's doing fine. She is clear to go to Washington D.C. with some of the girls for some sightseeing this weekend. She just has to rest, elevate, and ice the knee if it swells. But overall, she is doing well, she has good range of motion, and minimal pain.

We went to Marshall's after the appointment, and dang it, we found too much good stuff. Clearance stuff...our receipt was full of $2, $3, and $4 items. I also bought a really pretty throw rug for the living room. They don't look nice for long, with all the dogs and the general traffic through here, but a new rug always brightens things up.

Then to Walmart...for shaving cream and laundry starch to augment the little girls' latest obsession: making the perfect slime. We also needed doggy chow and kitty food, milk, and apparently several other things that jumped right into the cart.

Home...ah, home. Suzanne and Camille helped me make kabobs from the beef I had marinating...I cubed it all up, cut up zucchini, yellow squash, sweet onions, green pepper, a few sweet potatoes, and tossed it all in olive oil and rosemary, some salt and pepper...we made piles of skewers, then I grilled them. We also had seasoned potato chunks, which we ended up microwaving...they went well with the kabobs, which were SO GOOD. And so easy, just grab a few, and sit out on the deck for a lovely summer dinner.

Today, little Miss Lydia Eleanor is coming over with Mali, for a visit. Maybe Miss Anya Jade with join with her mama Ashley. I cleaned out and filled both little pools this morning, one on the deck, and one in the yard...I had to get up and get going this morning because Sam had to bring his car in for inspection and needed a ride home.

Tomorrow...tomorrow is Duke's goodbye day. I am trying to just be normal...and not fall apart. It's sad, but for Duke himself...it's not so sad, because he.doesn't.know. He has no idea. Part of me feels like a huge trickster, like, "Okay Duke, let's go bye-bye!", and he's going to be happy just to be going in the van, even though he'll need a boost to get in. He'll thump his tail, because he is like that. Happy with just anything. And I'll feel super guilty and like a horrible person. And it'll be sad. Really really sad. But it's time. It seems like once we were all on the same page here about it, and I made that phone call, he really declined, almost like he might suspect something. He ate not a bite of his breakfast yesterday, then no dinner either. He had some treats, but no kibble. Then this morning, I thought he'd be hungry, but no sir, he ate one bite and that was it. I bring his bowl to him where he lies, he hasn't been able to actually stand up and eat a meal in a while. He is mostly lying on the couch these days, although he'll still follow me around sometimes, which breaks my heart, because he lies down, then I move, he gets up so painfully slow it hurts my heart, and lies down again near me. He did this while we cleaned up under the deck yesterday. But mostly he just sleeps. At night, he has been sleeping in Sam's room. Bless Sam's heart, he lets these dogs sleep with him, all three of them. They give him very little room in his bed, ha. Sam is going to be having a rough time too. But we know it's time.

And is it horrible that we plan to go to the beach, after the vet? It's going to be 82 degrees and sunny. And I'm going to feel like a horrible person.

Monday, August 7, 2017

to everything there is a season...

A time for every purpose under heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die...(Ecclesiastes 3)



Duke is heading to the rainbow bridge...to the bunny fields, heaven for doggies...where he can run all he wants, where his hind legs will no longer be wasted away, where his arthritic front legs won't collapse from under him.

He can't hear us ask him who's a good dog.

He has gotten more lame lately, has fallen a few times on the deck steps.

He is going on a one way trip to the vet on Thursday. Sam says we are going to look at chocolate lab puppies on Friday. He already announced it to the kids. But they don't remember that we got Miss Sunny to make up for the loss of Duke...last summer! Duke has had many calls from the governor, we just keep putting it off. But then we all realize this: it isn't about us. The poor boy is struggling too much, and the righteous thing, the humane thing, the loving thing...is to say goodbye. So this morning I finally made that phone call...and he is going bye-bye on Thursday.

I think we'll plan a fun last day for him.

Other happenings...a few of the girls are going on a trip to Washington D.C. this weekend.

We just got back from an amazing week spent in our camper at our church Fellowship Week.

Sebastian and Linnea, my niece's twins, are here while their brother hopefully gets the cast removed from his broken arm (trampoline).

I promised Camille a trip to the library, but shh, she may forget and continue to read, "Little House On The Prairie". She reads for at least an hour a night, in bed.

Suzanne brought home a kitten a few weeks ago, an orange and white little devil who thinks he is one of the dogs. He is sweet and purry and rambunctious and likes to walk across the kitchen table, sampling things.

Here is a pic Suzanne took of me holding my niece Katie's little girl, Anne Beatrice...(Davian's little sister)

(I had rocked her to sleep...)

It's fantastic to have Ben and Ashley and Anya nearby. I have to get used to that little voice saying, "Grandma, Grandma...!" It's music, it truly is.

Lydia was at our camper for one of the days...she's darling.

Camille helped me make French toast and sausage this morning.

Our swimming pool is a goner this year...from crystal clear to murky green...Paul is ordering a new motor for the filter...but all these sunny warm days, and dang it, no pool.

The kids are playing Mario Kart.

We had fresh sweet corn for dinner last night...I love summer. Our own garden hasn't yielded much, but I bought green peppers, cucumbers, peaches, and a huge tomato from a farm stand yesterday...and the corn.

Anyway...the summer days are lovely...even though my heart is sad about Duke...

Saturday, July 29, 2017

the saturdays in life....


Sonja hobbled her way through Target already. She was, "so bored!", so we went for a small outing.


Summertime dinners....mmm. Local sweet corn,raspberries from the yard, grilled burgers....:)

The Army visited yesterday...well, three recruiters. I had forgotten they were coming, and got up yesterday and cleaned under the couches, vacuumed them, washed the covers, swept and vacuumed and just cleaned things up...Sam got up and made bacon and eggs with peppers and onions, and I sat and ate breakfast at 12:30. Sam casually mentioned the recruiters were coming at 1:00. I totally forgot! He said, "Why were you cleaning then?"


Suzanne and I had plans to go to the store for coffee, coconut oil, and snacks for next week's summer conference at church. So when the recruiters pulled in, we said hello and left.

Sonja and her friend Irene were making French Toast when I left. The recruiters were admiring the new deck, and as I left, I told them they didn't have to stay out in the sun, they could go inside and talk...apparently they thought the French toast smelled really good, so one of them had some. They said they really liked our house, "It's how a house is supposed to be, it's a home." Well, that was nice of them. But ha, I know they are trying to woo Sam to sign up for the reserves, so they say what they can to be in his good graces.

Anyway. Today we have plans, Char and Cam have to go practice a song and dance for next week. I have to bring them out, and wait for them, then come back here and get ready to work the amphitheater tonight...Joan Jett and Boston are playing. At least it's decent music.

The sun is shining brilliantly and I wish I didn't have places to go...our pool is green, btw. The motor on the filter broke. It's always something, isn't it?

Ah well...I love summer. And...I LOVE LOVE LOVE that Benjamin, Ashley, and Anya are here! The found an apartment really close by, twenty minutes or so. It's surreal, and I am so happy about it.:)

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

all's well that ends well....


Miss Sonja K., also affectionately known as Ginger, or Miss Ging...she was nervous before her surgery. I told her that ignorance is bliss, and since she's been through this before, she knows what it'll be like. Love is a fierce thing, I would have taken her place to spare her, but since I couldn't, I tried to make things as fun as possible, which with Sonja K., isn't too difficult. She is a cheery girl, a smiling sunshine, even in the tumultuous teen years.

The procedure went well, the surgeon removed a large piece of broken off cartilage, the size of a quarter. He showed me a nice picture of it, and also the groove behind the kneecap it had carved when it was lodged there. It caused her pain and distress because of it's tendency to move around, making that crunchy sound, ugh. Anyway, he got it out, and is pretty certain it's the last bit in there.


This was after she had been in the recovery room for a while...but yes, she woke up happy.

Since I am so nice, we went through the Panera Bread drive through on the way home...she felt so awful in the car though...and when she got home, she just conked out...Sunny was there to keep her company though...


Sonja and I have had a nice time being home almost alone (Mariel, Sam, Suze, Jon, Char, and Cam are in Boston)...we binged watched "Stranger Things", 8 episodes on Netflix. I don't usually watch things, and I would have her pause so I could sweep quick, or put things in the dryer...ha, I can't just sit there watching...my mind starts ticking on all to be done.:)

Anyway, a great thing happened last evening: Benjamin arrived! With his huge moving truck, packed full! Ashley is on her way with Anya....they don't have a place to live yet, but their house in Seattle sold already. They are probably going to find an apartment for a while, they are expecting a baby in October, and Ben starts his new job next week. It's kind of overwhelming for them. And when Ben got here, Sunny was horrible. She is scared of him, so she barked at him. When she finally made friends with him for a few minutes, she would forget, and be afraid of him again, and bark at him, right in the living room. It was really annoying.

It's strange for the grown up kids to come "home". It doesn't probably feel like home, he's been gone for over seven years now. His own house was neat, orderly, spotless...and here...well, I try. We have iron in our water, despite our water softening system, so the there is orange stain in the white porcelain sink...and with three dogs in the house, it's so hard to keep the hair swept up and the furniture covers changed and washed....and when he came in and sat down last night, I saw him looking around. Things have changed since he grew up here...the blue carpeting is long gone, and the little children running underfoot have grown up. He has visited through the years, but the house was bustling with other kids then....last night, Paul was already in bed, and so was Joseph...so it was only Sonja, dozing on the couch, and me. And barking Sunny.


I would like to say that Sunny was such a good girl at the vet. But alas, she chewed through her leash on the way there, so imagine our surprise when we arrived and there was a two inch jagged leash attached to her collar....I had to loop the long chewed off part through her collar to form a makeshift leash, also making her look like some dog no one cares about...the nice reflector collar I bough just a few weeks ago from Walmart is peeling...she looked like a sad dog...and then she was terrified...she hid behind my chair in the examining room...it's a good thing she's cute.

And the vet there is super nice, and very understanding.

Anyway. I stayed up too late, had a hard time sleeping, then Duke woke me up again at 6:15. Once he wakes me, there's no use trying to go back to bed. He'll just bark if I disappear. And Sunny was rambunctious this morning. Yesterday she totally murdered a couch pillow. I took it from her twice, then got busy with something, and before I knew it, she had ripped into it and was joyfully pulling out teethfuls of stuffing...she de-stuffed that whole pillow in like fifteen minutes.

So this morning, she went over to the couch and helped herself to another pillow. No ma'am. Nuh-uh. I took it from her, sprinkled it liberally with pepper, put it to her nose, and told her very gently, "no". She went and picked it up again, I sprinkled more pepper on it, and held it out to her...she sneezed a few times, then left it alone. I brought her outside and threw the ball for a while, she just had extra energy, and she acts weird when the kids aren't here.

I am not looking forward to her antics when Benjamin wakes up...

So here's what's going on in my life today:

Abigail is coming over for dinner. I am not sure yet what I'm making.

Our nice clean pool turned green last week, with all the rain, while I was in Boston. Then to add insult to injury, the pump stopped working. Paul has it taken apart, he somehow knows how to fix things. But in the meanwhile, the pool is green.

Is it strange to say that that every time I looked at the sparkling pool before it turned, I thought it was too good to be true? Summertime, swimming....!

Anyway. It's still summer, still barefoot days.

Kathryn seems to be settling in okay in Norway.

Evelyn seems to be having fun still in California...I miss her too much.

Kids, you should have stayed little! Growing up and leaving home...harrumph.







Tuesday, July 25, 2017

surgery day....for sonja

There are a few things I'm thankful for this morning, one is arthroscopic surgery, making it possible for knee surgery to be a One Day outpatient experience. I'm looking for things to be thankful for this fine rainy morning...I was awakened at 6 a.m. by Duke, who also woke me up during the night:( Then Paul couldn't find his other set of truck keys, you know he has to always know where both are, ha, actually the tag for the gym is on the one still in my skirt pocket from last night...then Kathryn was texting from Norway, she just got there and is having a little bit of difficulty settling in...wow, a shotgun shot just rang out really close by...at 7:30 on a rainy morning...hmmm.

Sunny is destroying a pillow...I took it from her twice, she just got it again, and by the time I noticed, she had a large hole in it and was starting to remove all the stuffing. She killed it, ha. Now it's hers.

Yeah, so I tipped my purse over accidentally last night while driving Paul's truck...see, we ran out of kitty chow, so we drove into town, Sonja and I...we also went to visit Paul's mom for a bit...anyway, this morning I was making sure I had what I need for the day, and my wallet wasn't in my purse...then Paul texted me, and yeah, he has it...so, we have to leave earlier than planned, so I can pick it up at his work.

Sunny had fun at the vet yesterday...she hid under my chair. Her rash is possibly a flea allergy...the flea meds recommended by the other vet aren't used by this vet, they're ineffective. well, yeah. So Sunny has a new $58 flea collar...and dang, now I have to buy them for the other two dogs. If all goes well and her rash goes away, she'll be spayed in September.

And I had better get moving...surgery isn't something you can be late for!

Monday, July 24, 2017

and rain and rain and rain...


This is an actual WWII era pram used in France, for resistance work. The bottom panel hid a radio.

This museum, outside of Boston, was so very interesting...the actual dishes Hitler ate from, stuff from his bathroom cabinet, his dog's collar, complete with horrific swasticas, all there on display. Guns and real uniforms, adorning lifelike mannequins. There were yellow stars worn by Jews, documents and letters and General Patton's walking stick.

After walking through and looking at it all, I felt sick inside. How on earth can human beings be so cruel to each other? War is barbaric, and I just can't comprehend it. I feel bad if I don't give the kitty a splash of half and half when I make my morning coffee...or if I raise my voice when I find empty ice cube trays.

And I'm not meaning to make a joke of it. I partly enjoyed the museum, but it did make me feel sick.

Home...ah, home. We've had a few cookouts...summertime meals, burgers and sweet corn, and grilled chicken and salt potatoes, and zucchini from Emily's garden, tossed with yellow squash and onions, with olive oil and lime juice, cooked right in the grill basket. Yumminess.

Kathryn left yesterday. I know she'll be back in a year, and hopefully I'll go visit her this winter in Norway...but, she did take a piece of my heart with her. I love that she's so grown up and independent and can travel internationally all by her lonesome, but part of me fretted and worried. She's been texting me, she survived the 8 hour layover in New York, and then another one in Iceland, and her suitcase ripped, her credit card was denied when she tried to buy train tickets from the Oslo airport, her phone was dying and she couldn't find a charger...and she's almost there now. She's tired and hungry and probably a bit nervous. I want to hug her and take care of her, but...she went and grew up on me.

Our house is quiet today. Mariel so nicely is sharing her vacation with five of her siblings! She had some days off this week, so she took Samuel, Suzanne, Jonathan, Charlotte Claire, and Camille, and headed for Massachusetts, near the beach. They left a bit after eight this morning, I was there making sure they remembered the beach towels and umbrellas, and helping make them some bagels for the road, a coffee for Suze, remember sneakers for the Freedom Trail (in Boston)! Then they left, leaving me in silence. Sonja was still asleep, Joseph busy with is art, Paul at work...the puppies came in, ate brekky, and took naps.

Sonja is up now, and we have things to do today...Sunny is having her first appointment at a new vet. We are switching because this place is cheaper, and she needs to be spayed. She also has a rash, very sensitive skin, almost like a redhead or a pale blonde girl, ha...she might have poison ivy or maybe a reaction to something. So we're taking her in today.

And tomorrow, Sonja has knee surgery. The hospital is supposed to call today to tell us what time.

Sam got up with Duke last night, and lo and behold, Suri had gotten into the kitchen garbage! She KNOWS better, but it must have smelled too yummy for her to resist. He cleaned it up, nice boy that he is, Mr. Sammers...but I had to mop the floor this morning.

Duke...oh Duke, your days are numbered...he won't let anyone sleep...Sam has been taking him into his room every night because he is nice, and knows he can go back to sleep after taking him outside at random times, he knows I can't fall back to sleep...yes, Sam is nice. But Duke...he is feeble, he is old...and wah.

Anyway...time to get a move on...

Friday, July 21, 2017

the good and the bad and the adorable.....

The good: I watched a video this morning of a 12 year old boy with Down's Syndrome, who is obsessed with firefighters...he wants to tour all the fire stations! He was so enthusiastic! One of the firemen was clearly touched by this boy's simple pleasure in helping hold the firehose to put out a staged car fire...his joy blessed those who blessed him. You can't watch this without smiling.

Then the bad...the video where the teenagers from Florida mock a disabled man, as he walks into a pond and drowns. They stand there joking and speculating, while he struggles in the water. One of the boys suggests calling 911, but they don't. They just stand there laughing. They were smoking pot (a harmless drug!), and it was all a big joke.

And the adorable...

way back when I had lots of little kids...Kathryn 11, Evelyn almost 10, Suzanne 8, Sonja 7, Jonathan 5, Charlotte Claire 3, and Camille 20 months...(not pictured: Emily 24, Abigail 22, Benjamin 20, Mariel 19, Joseph 18, Aaron 16, Molly Rose 15, Samuel 13, and Margaret 12)(8 years ago!).

This fine morning, the sun is blazing hot, the air humid and warm, almost 90 degrees and rising...and we are leaving today. Paul is still at the office, has a meeting until 12:30, but I have to leave this room by noon. So I will wait in the foyer for him. We packed up our suitcases last night, so we're ready to roll when he's done.

Our destination: maybe home, maybe first a WWII museum.

One of the sad things about leaving here is knowing that it will be nearly impossible for Paul and I to maintain the closeness we've come to, yet again, on this little vacation. Of course we'll still love each other, and spend time with each other, but evening after evening of time...without the stresses of Real Life impinging...it's been sweet.

It makes me want to just go on a real vacation with him, one where I actually get to spend the whole days with him.

Anyway. I have to vacate my room soon, pack up the laptop and chargers, empty the little refrigerator, and get moving.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

is there actually such a thing as....

TOO MUCH QUIET? ha, no, not yet, anyway.

Paul left this morning after going down to the lobby and buying me a large Starbucks coffee, lots of cream, bit of nutmeg. We ran out of half and half in our little refrigerator, yes, we make our own coffee here in the room...we have a steam pot, and a pour through filter, and some good coffee. The Starbucks only stays open until 9:30 a.m., so a bit after nine I went down and got two more coffees to get me through the day:)

Then...I went for a walk. A long uninterrupted phone conversation with my sister-in-law, ate a few cherries...and soon I'm going down for a swim. I read some homeschooling stuff, finished two novels, and have read more news online than in the last five years put together.

But I am not bored. I don't mind taking leisurely showers, and sitting by the pool just thinking about things, or reading a book.

Because, I know when I get home, things will be going full speed again. The housework and the kids, and the dogs, and the cats....the volunteer work at church, and appointments, grocery shopping and cooking and and and.

Even being here, I am not insulated from dealing with kids...I have called, and texted, and dealt with issues.

So, I ended up having a nice time last evening. We drove through lots of nice neighborhoods to avoid the highway traffic. The houses and yards, wow. The place where the party was held: wow. A very nice place set back from the road, the pool just a dream with a waterfall and lots of natural rock landscaping. There were around 70 people there, and the caterers set up their tables and served...whole lobsters, clams, clam chowder, corn on the cob (we ARE in New England!), grilled chicken, salads, coleslaw, rolls, and yummers - bowls of strawberry shortcake...yes, please.

I am not a seafood girl, but the rest of the bunch really enjoyed digging in...I'm not sure the Europeans had ever had lobster like this, but cracking into those shells was a nice equalizer, you can't eat lobster in a crowd of people with too much dignity. It was quite fun, even though I went for the chicken.

My bathing suit stayed here at the hotel, but with the temperature in the low 90's, and the air saturated with humidity, I did put my feet in the pool. I sort of wished someone would push me in, it was so hot out.

As much as I hate meeting new people, I also love it at the same time. Two girls from Hungary, the French girl, the ladies from Texas...all so nice and pleasant. I talked to a native Bostonian with a fantastic accent, and of course the English guy, who says, "proper", all the time. It's neat to realize that we are all all so different, yet so much alike, us peoples. I ended up really enjoying the evening.

In real life, next week is Sonja's knee surgery, a vet appointment for Suri, and I'm sure we will need a boatload of groceries. Lydia is coming over on Saturday and Sunday, as Mali has to work, and Kathryn is flying out for Norway on Sunday:( (I am hoping and planning to go visit her in Norway for maybe New Year's. I will be scrimping and saving and hoping, ha.)(A year is too long for a girl to go without seeing her mama, right?). Anyway, real life will be busy.

For now, ahh, I am relaxed. I am going to mosey down to the pool now....

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

not my stories to tell....

Well, have you ever heard the expression, "My business, your business, and everybody else's business..."? Well...when I sit here and write, I have to decide what is MY story, and who it would affect if I tell it. Yesterday, I sat and wrote from the heart, then realized later in the day that that isn't MY story to tell.

I have gotten, believe it or not, a few messages here and there through the years about reality t.v., and I did not respond. Can you imagine exposing your kids' lives like that? Airing your troubles and your dirty laundry, and ha, that laundry mountain that was in the laundry room doorway for years? I feel bad enough sometimes for this blog. One of my sons still simmers about an incident years ago when I described a situation wherein he needed a belt, so we bought one at the dollar store. Now personally, I see no problem with this story. But when you are a teenage boy, it can be social suicide.

So I write, and I erase, and I wonder...and sometimes I think I have no business writing about our family at all.

But this week, I am here in Boston, and oh how nice it is! When Paul suggested I come with him for one of the weeks he would be here, it was a few months back, and I didn't hesitate to accept. But as the days went by, I wondered if I were doing the right thing...a week of not being there...a week in the summertime...a week of not getting anything done around the house...a week without the puppies...

But here I am. And guess what? It's nice. Even though Paul works all day, we have our evenings, and it's fun. It's fun to just deal with US. Last evening, our plans got changed, and we ended up just by ourselves.

And home..they're fine! Joseph is there, he is 26...Kathryn is 19, and had her last day of work on Monday, because she is going to Norway for a year, next week. That's another regret for me, not to be with her for these days...but, she is doing fun things with the younger ones. And they are fine. Last evening, Sonja asked me for my vanilla cake recipe...:)

I have heard rumors that the kids LIKE when mom and dad are gone, imagine that.

Today, we have plans to go to the home of the woman who runs the factory...we are leaving early, to spend a good part of the day and evening there. Paul said we can bring our bathing suits...and I asked, "Is there a pool?" He loves when I ask smart questions. But the REAL question is this: How can I lose 50 pounds in the next three hours? Or this: Do I sweat in the 92 degree heat, and pretend like I'm fine, or do I put on the suit...and die a little? Fat-shaming...the last frontier of allowable offenses in our politically correct world. Just don't eat so much, think the skinny ones. Maybe they think perhaps we don't realize we are fat. That we're fine with it, even. Maybe they're wondering why on earth we would eat a cookie, when for crying out loud, we're fat!

Or maybe...no one thinks any of this at all, and it's just my own battle.

In any case, I do not think I am ready to put on the suit...my suit, by the way, looks like a dress. One of my daughters actually said to me when I came out in it, in Florida, "Oh, nice dress, Mom!"

I haven't worn a bikini since I was a teenager. And ha, I thought I was fat then, at 125 pounds.

But anyway. Today, I am going for a walk, then coming back for a swim...poor me, all by my lonesome.

I will walk, and think about things. About being content, about not caring what people think of me. I don't really care, but then...I find that I do. I wonder why I put all this out here, for the world to read. Maybe because it's true. Maybe it will help someone else feel they're not alone.

I do know what matters in life, but that doesn't mean I magically feel no insecurity. I live to please God, and not man, yet...there is so much in me that quakes at the thought of spilling a drink down me (and shh, I dropped green stuff on my shirt at dinner the other night...)...in theory, who cares? In reality....I just want to stay home, ha. But out of my comfort zone is good for me.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

not giving up....just postponing....


This is me, relaxed. Super, wonderfully relaxed. So relaxed that the former me, the one with the nursing baby and toddlers and kindergartner and and and...actually HATES the relaxed me, she is so jealous.

Make no mistake, I am not just taking these days for granted. I, the Queen of Not Being Able To Think Two Thoughts Without Interruption, have had two entire days...all.by.myself.

Well, yesterday started with high hopes and ambitions.
But this is the lady who stormed right past me, pushing her baby in an ugly baby jogger (sorry, but I despise 3-wheeled strollers...I knew someone who had one and it was tippy. And they-re ugly. But hey, this young mama blew right by me and put me to shame, so I forgive her poor choice in strollers...and yeah, I guess it works for her, so whatever.)

(you can barely see her in this picture, she went by me so fast!)

Anyway. I walked down the road yesterday...for a while...then I decided to turn around. It was hot out, the road had no sidewalk, and...I just decided to turn around. I went back to the hotel, and headed straight for...coffee. The breakfast place had just stopped serving, but the nice lady gave me coffee anyway...she said she had just closed the drawer, but honestly, she said, it's okay for me to just have a cup...:) I don't say no to a large Starbucks, and be quiet Aaron, it is good.

I took my coffee and headed to the pool...I changed into my suit, sat by the pool and sipped my coffee, swam for half an hour, sat some more in a nice comfy lounge chair...then went up to my room and read a book.

Paul texted me that we were going out to dinner with his co-workers, to an Italian place. Shh, I did not google the place while on the phone with my sister. I did not study the menu ahead of time and decide to just get a margarita and dessert...of course when I was at the actual restaurant, I could not do this. A very thin woman would get away with it, but I couldn't do it. So I ordered this dish with chicken, sauteed with made-fresh-daily sausage, tomatoes, onions, and fresh broccoli, in a yummy sauce, over fresh made pasta...oh dear, homemade pasta...it was heavenly. Now, I do not eat pasta anymore. But now that I have had this, I want more, and not the boxed stuff, either. I couldn't bring the leftovers with me, or I would have eaten them today... Anyway. About dessert. Every person at the table groaned and said a resounding NO to dessert. Again, a very thin woman might have laughed daintily and withstood the mild teasing, and ordered a slice of peanut butter pie on a chocolate crust, or even a light scoop of peach gelato. Or maybe the tiramisu. My sister and I agreed that skipping the food and having dessert would be best, but no sir, I could not humiliate myself.

Today, I decided against trying the beach adventure again...because of forecasted thunderstorms. I went for a little walk, then swam for half an hour...I MADE myself exercise and swim in that pool instead of just float around...:)

Then I dried off, lounged in the chair, and read...poor me, all by my lonesome.


I talked to my son Benjamin on the phone today for almost two hours. If you are his boss and reading this, of course he was working at the same time!! He didn't know I was in Boston until like the second hour of our conversation...he said, "Oh, I wondered why you had so much time to talk without having to leave to drive anyone anywhere!"

He is moving back to New York!!!!! I am so beyond thrilled about this. I can't even put it into words. You know when teenage girls say, "I can't even!" Well, I can't even. Benjamin...my dear Ben. I don't have favorites, of course I don't, shh, they're all my favorites,,,



Anyway. God is good.

Tonight, Paul and I are going out again, but I am not entirely certain where...I think to his friend's house, a guy he works with who I was able to meet when we went to France. I don't know how many co-workers are going. I wish I wasn't so socially awkward. I love people, but I get rather tongue tied....blah.

Monday, July 17, 2017

here in Boston....

Well, we all know I am married to a crazy guy. You know, the healthy type. He pours his bottled water into his metal water bottle, because it's not good to drink out of plastic, does 24 hour fasts, eats burgers without the buns, (which I also do). So we're sort of on the same page. I mean, here's my yesterday's breakfast/lunch...

Ezekial toast with crunchy almond butter and fresh picked raspberries from the back yard.

Anyway. Paul woke up early this fine morning, worked out, then took a cold shower before making his coffee with coconut oil, which may well be all he consumes until dinner time. For dinner, he either goes to the grocery store for veggies and some sort of protein, or goes to McDonalds, orders a salad and a few burgers, and...eats them without the buns.

So he's not really crazy....

And anyway...here I am in Boston...he is working, right down the road...and I have the day stretched before me. I do not have a vehicle because the Check Engine light went on, on the truck, on Saturday...we didn't feel safe driving it the six or so hours from central New York to here. I can't drive the rental car he rents through work. We could rent a car for me, but I want to see how I manage without one. There IS tons of traffic here, and yeah, I don't like traffic.

So...this fine day, I am heading out on a little adventure...walking to a local lake/beach. This seems easy enough for a normal person. But I get hot. ha. And it's supposed to be in the high eighties today, like 86. And I have a blister on my toe still, so my Birkenstocks are a no-go, it has to be my sneakers. And I'm not big on wearing shorts in public so it's a jean skirt. And I forgot my beach towel, and my chair is too heavy to lug a few miles...and ouch, a few miles back, too. Have you ever seen a heavy middle aged lady heave herself daintily down on a towel at the beach, without showing "everything she owns", as my mother would put it? If I had my kids with me, I would ask them to please twirl around a little bit over there, and create a large distraction, ha. And then the whole time I'm relaxing, I'll be wondering how in the "H" I am going to get back up. Oh, the joys of having extra padding.

But there is a light at the end of the tunnel, it's called, "There Is A Dunkin Right Next To The Beach". Yes indeed there is. I am already deciding on an iced coffee when I get there, wiping the sweat from my forehead before it drips into my eyes.

Paul and I drove there last evening, to scope it out. I didn't squeal out loud when I saw the Dunkin, I played it cool.

See, Paul doesn't think it will be "too bad a walk". ha. Ha ha ha. It will be suffering and torture, and when I get there, I will feel like I have climbed Everest. Until I start remembering I have to walk all the way back.

But, there will be sunshine on the beach, and prime people watching, and fresh air...I can't just stay in this room all day, the pool IS open here, but it's indoors. There's no place to sit outside at this hotel, it's in a huge parking lot surrounded by other huge parking lots with other hotels people can't sit outside of, and corporations and companies and other exciting places.

When I get home, things will be moving along swiftly, as per usual...Sunny has a vet appointment on Monday, Sonja has her surgery on Tuesday, and so on. Our church summer conference is coming up the first week in August, and we will be staying in our camper. I have begged and bribed the kids to clean it this week:)

But for now...for this week...although I miss the kids and the dogs...I don't miss sweeping the floors and doing laundry. I am happy to have a break. I have my food for the day: some ready cooked bacon, some sliced cucumber, a bag of whole carrots, almonds, cashews, and a pear. I won't even look at the donuts when I get my iced coffee...

Now I just have to get my lazy rear end up and going...all by my lonesome....to the beach.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

july...what's not to love?


Morning walk!


Our road was repaved...the poor plants on the edge...


Too much rain here!!!


The trees are swimming.


This looked like a cozy spot to crawl into...but I didn't want to soak my sneakers. I walked around with wet shoes the other day and ended up with a blister on my toe...it didn't help that the amphitheater workers' parking lot is totally flooded and I worked the whole concert the other night with one soaking wet sock.

Anyway. There is another concert tonight, but I am not working because Paul is home! Mariel, Samuel, Kathryn, Joseph, and Suzanne are working.

What we have right now is a pleasant Saturday morning. The dogs have been out and fed, and are napping. The little girls are playing with this new dough they made with their science kit I bought them yesterday on clearance at Target. Jonathan is making some bacon. Sam is reading the headlines of news to us. Paul is at the gym. I am sitting here in my comfy chair paying half attention to what I'm writing, and half attention to what's going on.

Tomorrow, I am going to Boston with Paul for the week! I plan on doing...not a thing. :)

Thursday, July 13, 2017

life: please, please slow down!!!


This is Paul's mom, Eleanor...and me, with Miss Camille...my baby.

Time...it's our most precious and fleeting asset. It needs to slow down, but my internet speed needs to speed up. Doctor appointments and dentist appointments and waiting in traffic and all these other time thieves....this is my life. But sadly, I cannot just spend it how I want to...so...what can I do?

Here's a good tip: Enjoy every minute. Waiting in line at the department of motor vehicles...you can just grumble and mumble and watch the fair weather clouds sail in front of the sun from the window, and hate that you're not out in the day. And that's fair enough. But those minutes or even hours that are spent in ways beyond control are still MY LIFE. What if...just what if...I could be happy then too? If I could maybe get some treasures in heaven...?

I am trying to encourage myself here, friends. Because today is day #3 in a row of appointments. Tuesday was dentist for little girls, then in the afternoon I worked at the new lake view ampitheater at the Cheap Trick/Foreigner concert...until midnight! Oh, it was a long night. Then bright and early Wednesday I had to get a filling in a wisdom tooth, which was just joy, ha. But I did get to run to the grocery store by myself which was A-okay. And...after getting home and putting things away, we packed the cooler and got our swimsuits, and headed to our friends' house for a little pool party! Suzanne and Sonja, Jonathan, Charlotte Claire and Camille and I...:)

This fine morning, I was supposed to be already at an appointment,(it's for Sonja's knee surgery, a pre-op check-up) but it got changed to the afternoon, letting me actually sleep in a bit. But this afternoon it will be busy, because there is another concert right afterward. Lady Antebellum. I don't mind working at the concerts, the music is loud and clear, the people are happy...mostly. Our prices are sky high (five dollars for a bottle of water!)....and it is not our doing, we just work there. But by working there, we get to take the crappola from the customers about it. And sometimes the food isn't always ready and available because it is prepared in the main building out back, again, not our fault at all...but we get to shoulder the growls from the hungry who have to forego/wait for their $6.25 order of fries. And a can of beer is $12. It is a large can, but still. I take their money and smile and thank them for their business, and hope they put a dollar on the tip pile, ha, because I bring the tips home for the babysitters...and we split them up between the whole group, including the people from the company who work with us, even though we are non-profit. So it's not all sunshine and puppydogs, and it's hot there in the tent we work from...but again, it's life...it's MY LIFE, and when I have a good attitude...and I'm thankful...in a good spirit, it's contagious. And we can have fun, and fellowship, and it's not awful to work there.

My feet though...oh how my feet protest. They don't get the thankfulness thing. They just keep on complainin'.

So today will be filled up...and it's not always easy to figure out who will be where...the little girls have to go appointment-ing with me today because Samuel is bringing Emily and Mali and little Lydia to the airport (they are going to California to visit Aaron and Riley! and Evelyn, who is still there!). Sam is bringing Suzanne with him too because Suze has to get a flea collar for her new kitten. Yeah, we successfully gave away our latest kittens, then she got a little orange guy from one of her friends. Suzanne used the "It's Better To Ask For Forgiveness Than Permission" policy. It worked.

Anyway...off we go....

Saturday, July 8, 2017

family pictures!!!!

Paul and I with all sixteen of our kids, at the cabin in the woods.

One with Grandma, Benjamin's wife Ashley and little Anya, and Lydia and her daddy Zac, and Margaret's husband Adrian.

Ashley, Benjamin, and Anya...they are going to have another baby! And, they are moving back to the east coast at the end of this very month!



Back row: Evelyn Joy, Mariel Joy, Molly Rose, me, Margaret Cheryl, Abigail Marie, Sonja Kathleen... front row: Suzanne Eleanor, Camille Anaya, Kathryn Grace, Emily Anne, and Charlotte Claire...my lovely eleven girls...if ever I complain about anything ever, please remind me how blessed I really am.

Aaron Royce, Benjamin Paul, Paul, Samuel James, Joseph Michael, Jonathan Robert.

And here's why I haven't blogged lately: Friday, I went shopping with Emily for a catering event at nine a.m....We went to Maines, B.J.'s, Wegmans, Price Chopper, and Aldi. Em said, "Well, we went everywhere, but we didn't go to Tops". Well. Did I forget to buy chocolate chips? I went to Tops. I did not even start in on my baking until 6 PM yesterday. I made chocolate chip cookies, sugar cookies, chocolate cupcakes, vanilla cupcakes, and a vanilla sheet cake. I made the frosting for the cupcakes and cake, but didn't do the frosting until this morning. I made it to the catering event at 12:30 with the goodies, phew, it started at one.

Home...ah home, after so much running around. At my house, things don't just stop just because I'm not there. Yesterday the twins were visiting because big brother William fell off their trampoline and fractured his arm...and cousin Dani was there, friend Amanda was there, friend Irene was there...I offered Suzanne $20 to clean the house while I was gone, ha. Samuel, and Suzanne, and Jonathan all pitched in and cleaned up...yay!

Tonight I grilled on my new birthday present from Paul...a grill! My birthday isn't until Monday, but he's leaving for Boston tomorrow. Chicken breast and veggies...mmm.

I have to drive Paul to the airport to pick up his rental car in the morning...Emily is taking the four younger kids waterfalling tomorrow, and Jonathan went to Margaret and Adrian's place. I may just get some quiet time...:)

Thursday, July 6, 2017

sleeping in, and other exciting developments...

Ask any mom about sleep...it's absence in her life, it's utter beauty, it's fleeting rarity...

I don't mind being a little bit tired now and then. But believe me when I say this: for over 25 years, sleep eluded me. I was starved for it. My oldest was 22 and a half when my youngest was born...so for all those years of toddlers and babies, then having teenagers on the other end of the day, staying up late late late, having to get up in the morning to get 9 kids out the door for school, during those busy years, after getting up in the night with one baby or another...of course you can't just take a nap to catch up, ha. I tried. Believe me, I tried. It was sadly the focus of my day, most days. And the things that can sabotage a good nap, oh dear! Phone calls, babies who fell asleep just as the toddler woke up, afternoon visitors, barking dogs, older kids who needed supervison...naps were elusive little treasures that I hardly ever got.

So for me, sleep is super yummily delicious. Sometimes these days, I get enough of it, and I wake up satisfied and thankful...oh no, I am not one to take a good night's sleep for granted. No sir.

Duke, the early morning barker, for some reason slept in this morning. I woke up NATURALLY...just woke up, wondering why there was no barking...just woke up...picked up my phone, and Lord 'a mercy, it was EIGHT O'CLOCK! I had slept in!

I got dressed and came out here, and there was the Dukester, sleeping on the couch. I had to check to make sure he was alive, and sure enough, he was breathing...and don't think I'm too evil, but ha, I woke HIM up this morning. How do YOU like it, Duke?!

Anyway. I feel fine today. Sleep is not overrated.

Some people don't read the news, because it's depressing. It really is, but I can't stay away from it. Do you know that in New York state, if you receive public assistance, and win the lottery, the state will take all of your winnings up to the amount that you have taken in assistance for X amount of years? Poor people can't catch a break. We don't receive any public assistance, but can you imagine if you did, and won like a thousand dollars, or even ten thou? And nope, can't keep it. ouch.

And then there's this: a mom in Rochester NY was arrested because she left her 10 year old in a Lego store while she shopped. Now, this is sad. Because basically it was a win/win situation. Ten year old boys do.not.like.to.shop. No sir. But staying for an extended period of time in the Lego store: heaven. And the mom, shopping without the eye-rolling and foot-dragging sighs of a middle sized boy...phew. The sad part of the story is that there is such a thing as predators in the first place. And, that it's is the government's business to decide whether your child is safe, or in danger. The chance of someone really abducting that boy from that Lego store...probably wouldn't happen. So the mom made a decision, and got arrested.

And then every single summer, there are the sad things like drownings and car and boat accidents, many caused by drinking. And the shootings in the cities...just sad.

Anyway. Yesterday I crossed a few things off my to-do list, which for a professional procrastinator like myself, is sheer joy. Sunny is going to be spayed soon, I sent some emails and messages that had to be sent, Sonja's appointments are re-arranged a bit so I can go to Boston, MA, with Paul in a few weeks. School test results are printed and ready to send in. I still have to write the reports, shh. I wish I liked doing that as much as I like blogging. But still, I got some things done.

All the cleaning and straightening up of the house that was done yesterday, has to be done...again...today. Doggies, dog hair everywhere! And guess what? I didn't do it yet...I fed the dogs, took them outside, I took care of the pool, washed some dishes, made some coffee, and here I am.


Trying to get three dogs to look in the same direction and smile is harder than taking picture of children. And the kitty got in there.

I am thinking of going to the fabric store today...hmm...Char and Cam have two friends here...would four little girls like the fabric store?

Tomorrow I am going shopping with Emily for food for a party that her catering company is doing. I am making chocolate chip cookies, sugar cookies, cupcakes, AND a cake. This is the third year in a row that Emily has catered a party for these same people, and they like our stuff. So tomorrow...I am going to be busy busy busy. So next on my agenda this morning is to make an ingredients list...then school reports...so...goodbye!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

happiness is....


Charlotte Claire with Little Miss Sunshine, Sunny for short...also dubbed Jubooboo, Ja-boo-boo, by Miss Char. Char LOVES her Bunny-Boo-Boo, she talked me into the bandana thingy, the other pups have them as well. We also bought them new reflective collars...oh, what a great day for the dog loving little girl!




From the yard, red raspberries.


Enjoying the new deck!

Yesterday didn't go as planned...for one, it took forever and a day to get out the door to Walmart with the two princesses.(Then we had to turn around after driving five miles down the road, one of them had forgotten to...put.on.shoes.) See, the boys had a change in plans...why go to a crowded state park for a hike when you can invite your friends here, instead?! There's a pool, a trampoline, a big yard to shoot airsoft guns, and the deck...and a mom who will make good food. So instead of just being Paul and I and the two little girls, now it would be Joe, Sam, Jon, and four of their friends. Paul and Sam put the ribs in the oven on low, and we headed to the store.

Walmart...we tried to hurry, but how can anyone NOT dawdle in Walmart? The variety of shoppers intrigues me in itself, but then there all the things to look at, too! We needed dog chow and pool chlorine tablets. We bought new collars and bandanas, then got in line before we looked at any other things we just had to have.

The next store, Wegmans, is the best grocery store...we got a watermelon, some strawberries and blueberries, salad stuff...then I let the girls pick out a donut or muffin. We bought burger and cheese and butter and drinks, and some snacks. And...ice cream for the boys for later. I also bought some no-sugar Outshine bars, which are super yummy popsicles, 25 calories each. So yay, I can eat two or three, ha. I did have two on the way home.

Going out and about with just the two little girls: priceless. Char acts all grown up, but Cam still spins and dances down the aisles. They wanted red, white, and blue nail polish...and they got it. They chatter and exclaim and enjoy my full attention.



Margaret came over for dinner with her two puppies, then Ashley and Anya came for a visit.

And today....Mali and little Lydia are coming over, and Emily, and Ashley and Anya again...it's supposed to be 83 and sunny....what's not to like?

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

yummy yummy summertime....


Miss Camille with her healthy lunch...everything tastes better when you've had a swim, and the sun is shining.


I sent this one to Miss Evelyn, who is in California...as in, ha, we have nice weather too!

The pool has been grand, but we need more chlorine tablets, and we're running out of dog food. (Sorry...whenever I need something at the store...)

Yesterday was a day of cleaning up, swimming, sunning, and hanging out at home. We were planning a trip to the park, to see the symphony perform, and watch the fireworks...and we did go...but much later than we planned, because it was just so nice to be home and in that bathing suit. Paul took the day off from work, and Joseph,Sam, Suzanne, Sonja, Jonathan, Char, and Cam were here.

In the afternoon, we packed up a cooler with celery, cucumbers and cheese and pepperoni and lunch meat and some fried chicken...and iced tea and water and a few cans of Diet Pepsi. And a bag or two of snacks...cheese popcorn, and cookies, and Doritos. I only had cheese popcorn. I skipped the red, white, and blue Skittles, but I did have one of the yummiest things: have you tried the gummy sea-creature candies from Trader Joe's? No, I am not getting paid, I wish. My niece Susan had some there...they are so good, and they are all in really authentic fish themed shapes. The small children go crazy for them.

When we got to the park, one of my phone-borrowing daughters asked me why I hadn't charged my phone...oops. So I didn't take ANY pictures.

That means I'll have to use words. The park filled with people, but we had a nice spot on the grass, only maybe 50 feet from the symphony. The grass was spongy wet from all the rain we've had, so the blankets spread out did get soggy, but it was a nice warm day, which turned into a mild evening. The stars came out, and the half moon shone. The Star Spangled Banner started the evening, then some Star Wars music, then a tribute to our military troops. Samuel stood up when the Army veterans/active duty members were recognized, while the Army song played...it was one of those gives-you-the-chills moments.

The symphony ended with the 1812 Overture, with the crowd on our feet, clapping along, and dancing. It was amazing. Then there were fireworks!

Ashley was there with Anya, and I tell you, just joy! She has this big smile, and she watches all the big kids, and she loves her Aunties...and her Papa, which is what she calls Paul. It makes my heart happy that she's going to move to the east coast, and I'll get to see her so much more.

So leaving the parking lot last night after the fireworks ended was a fireworks show in itself. Everybody wants out, and no one wants to let anyone ahead of them. If I were driving, we would have just sat there and hung out for a while and waited until the impatient drivers left. But Paul was driving, and he knows how to nose the van out and edge into the line of vehicles. You could see drivers getting mad, and hear a few horns honking,(not at US, just to clarify...) but in our van, it was all joking and fun. We knew we didn't have anywhere we had to be in a hurry. But, Paul edged out in front of the wrong lady, oh was she mad. She had some choice words for Paul, she was going to punch him in his f*****g face, she screamed. I didn't much like the kids hearing that, but on the other hand, it was a prime example of how not to be. Sam dubbed the lady Laura Lunatic. She was pretty much touching our bumper, but Paul and I made sure the kids were good and didn't wave at her or enrage her anymore. One of the girls wanted to take a picture from the back of how close she was to our van, but we said not to.

We ended up having a really fun experience out of the parking lot, with Samuel cheering us on to be good and be patient.

Today is the glorious 4th of July, and the kids are scattering. Suzanne and Sonja are going with Abigail and some of their friends up to the Thousand Islands, to Alexandria Bay. Joseph, Samuel, and Jonathan are going on a hike with their friends. Paul and I will be here with just the two little girls! I have three racks of ribs to grill, but I think I'll wait until tomorrow...I think Ashley and Anya, Mali and Lydia, one of Sonja's friends, the little girls' friend Amanda..will be coming over.

And that's all I have to say about that. (If you've never watched Forrest Gump, what are you waiting for?)

Monday, July 3, 2017

life after vacation: wow.

I only gained four pounds on vacation, and lost a few of them already...not bad for all the bad things I ate...and here's the thing: I wasn't totally horribly indulgent. One night I skipped dinner, then had like five Oreos. Mint Oreos. Yes indeed, they are good...and there were caramel creams, the little wrapped ones with the white cream in the center...afternoon wine...and, donuts happened. We are a donut cutting family though, we want to taste ALL THE DONUTS. So I didn't go overboard, but I usually don't eat any donuts. Ice cream happened that one day, but it was so worth it! And yeah, I ordered a small. Popcorn happened a few times, and then there was one marshmallow night, I had two. I didn't go whole hog and have a s'more, skipped the graham crackers, but toasted a marshmallow, put a piece of Hershey's chocolate in my mouth, then the toasted marshmallow...oh yummers.

So, overall, it could have been worse. I stayed away from the buns, toast, bagels, and kept my portions small. I ate things I normally don't, but didn't go too crazy.

The after effects are the worst part though. Just getting a taste of things reawakens the sugar monster in me. So now it's back to slaying him again. And just an FYI: Oreos aren't as good as I remember them. The cream in the middle is disappointing, probably all the trans fat that was removed.

So back to reality here...laundry. Washing loads of bedding and towels, and shh, I haven't even opened my suitcase yet. We are taking turns with the washer and dryer. Yesterday I had to take Kathryn to the airport, in the middle of grilling steaks. I had to leave the last few for Paul to finish, so I could jump in the pool to cool off before getting dressed. Oh, poor me, ha.

I went to the grocery store after dropping her off...she is going to Seattle for a week to spend some time with Benjamin, who also flew out earlier yesterday. Ashley and Anya are staying in town for a week, but Ben had to get back. But; they are moving here! His job starts here at the end of the month!!!! After all these years, seeing them on a regular basis: just joy.

Evelyn also left for the west coast, she is spending July with Aaron (our #6 child, sweet Aaron...he is an R.N. at Stanford), and Riley. It makes me happy that the siblings enjoy each other's company so much. Ev had the mind to bless her brother, to help them with the house, the yard, the pool...and they also wants to bless Evelyn, because duh, California sunshine!

So here there are only seven of the sixteen home for right now...

Kathryn will come back from Seattle, then leave for Norway for a year. wah.

And anyway, today is a good day. I swept the floors, turned on the pool filter and added some chlorine, fed the puppies and the kitties, made coffee, and ahh, here I am, in the comfy chair. Duke decided that 6:14 was as good a time as any to start in on the barking this fine morning.

This afternoon, we are going to the park on the lake, Owasco Lake, (one of the Finger Lakes), for a picnic...then the symphony plays, then fireworks at dark. Lots of our friends are going too. I plan to pack healthy food, like celery and crunchy almond butter, sliced cucumbers, chicken, and maybe some popcorn. And fresh cherries, mmm.

In all the little things that go on in life, we get to choose our own paths. There are things I cannot change, but I can certainly adjust my own attitude, and purify my own heart from bad thoughts and keep it free from grudges. God is good! He makes no mistakes. Lately, I have been extremely thankful for the kids He has given me. They weren't born to me by accident, they are loved and were placed here with Paul and I, to be raised and nurtured and cared for...they grow up, and make their own ways in life, and we love them no matter what. I believe that God's intention is that all of creation would turn to Him, to trust Him, to live life purely without sinning. He does not force, we have free will. I believe that Jesus jumps up and down, there at His right hand, in heaven, when we choose to live for God, and each and every time we overcome sin...when we turn the other cheek, bless instead of curse, give with no demands. So it goes without saying that I would love for all of my kids to choose this too, but I love them, each of them, with all of my heart, no matter what directions their lives go.

It makes my soul ache when they suffer for what I see as bad decisions, and it also gives me a glimpse of what it must be like for God: He only wants the best for His children.

And those are my deep thoughts for the day. :)

Saturday, July 1, 2017

home from the cabin....now I need a vacation, ha.


Paul and I went out on the boat, all by our lonesomes, on Sunday morning. It was lovely.


Paul loves fishing. I think after all our super busy years of having babies and little children, he is now more free to do these things, and he is certainly enjoying it. All week long, he took different kids fishing.




The kids started arriving on Sunday...Benjamin and Ashley came with five pizzas and six dozen chicken wings. Everyone brought food, snacks, drinks. On Tuesday, Grandma came with Abigail, and brought 16 quarts of strawberries! And, steak and burgers and sausages.


Margaret, Mariel, Emily, Abigail, and Mali.


Grandma with Lydia and Evelyn Joy.


The neighbor's dog came to visit...


We had a few nice campfires...marshmallows: yes. One night, I just said YES.


We had rainy weather too, so sometimes we were elbow to elbow in the cabin. Fires in the fireplace warmed us up when we came in from jumping into the cold lake...I went in at least three times a day. We had too much fun in that water.




Miss Camille...she's getting so grown up. Even with my two granddaughters there at the cabin, Miss Cam was a nice little Aunty. Somehow, along the way, she stopped needing all the attention.


Lydia and Anya, cousins, from opposite coasts...:)


One day we went for ice cream...see the small child in the background? Miss Lydia.


No one loved it more than Lydia did.


We went to town for ice cream on Friday afternoon...Emily had already left, along with Benjamin and Ashley and little Anya. (Ben had a job interview...rumor has it that he and his family may indeed be moving back to the east coast!!!!) Paul was out in the boat with Adrian, Aaron, Samuel, and Jonathan. And Joseph was back at the cabin with Grandma.


We walked over to the beach for a few minutes, this is Mali with her little Lydia.


I love the cabin....right on the water.


Miss Sonja K.


Paul and I the before we went to the cabin, at our church feast.


:)

Samuel and Benjamin (with Emily and Suzanne peeking from behind). With Sam out of the Army, and Benjamin hopefully moving back "home", these two will be able to spend some time together, finally, after all these years...my two Army sons.

Anyway. It was great fun...I absolutely love being with all my kids. They get along very well, and the goodness I see in them makes my heart overflow with gladness and thankfulness. Grandma was there for most of the week too, and it was just a blessing. We laughed and we cooked tons of food...I ate too many snacks and had some wine too.

But...it's nice to be home. The puppies were glad to see us, and I was glad to see them. Kim, thank you for taking such good care of them!!!

Laundry in, coolers emptied, loads and loads of stuff carried into the house...coming home from a vacation is not nearly as fun for leaving for one.

My girls are three different places already, and Evelyn Joy is gone for the whole month, to California with her brother. (and Kathryn is leaving tomorrow to go to Washington state for a week with Benjamin). So it's just Paul and I and three of the boys, Joseph, Samuel, and Jonathan, home tonight. They are watching Lord Of The Rings.

And here I am...taking a quiet break, after such a busy week...yes, it WAS vacation, but ahhh....