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

Friday, December 15, 2017

8 degrees out there...

-13.3c. Brrr. Jack Frost has decorated the glass on the door, and the snow crunches underfoot. The sun is out now, but more lake effect snow is coming later. Hopefully AFTER I pick Paul up from the airport, he's coming home from Boston this evening.

Anne is coming over in a little while. I had too much fun yesterday, Emily brought Jonathan, Char, and Cam ice skating. I was here with Anne, who turned a year in September, and Lydia, who turned two in August, and I just realized that I had kids who were 14 months apart, how did I do it? They were really good, but oh dear, it kept me on my toes. Anne seemed to be watching for me to forget to watch out for my glasses, my coffee, or my phone, but I was just a shade quicker than she was, although she did manage to swipe my phone a few times. I had to trade her for something good to get it back. The two of them got along just fine.

That stroller in the background was Lydia's doing, she loaded it up with stuff. She took the two Christmas towels from the front of the stove, and referred to them as, "the red and green paper towels." She knows her colors, her numbers, and we had at least ten phone calls back and forth, she called me from the Fisher-Price Chatterbox telephone, and I answered on my phone. She would ask if I was coming home soon, and I would say yes, do you need anything from the store? After a brief conversation, she would say, "goodbye!", then call me again. Over and over again.

After Lydia and Anne went to their homes, and the skating kids were back home, and things were all settled down, Evelyn and I went to the grocery store. And to Walmart, for a few last minute gifts. One of my sons asked for, "All of the pillows.", for Christmas. So I got him three, and three pillowcases, which believe me, the guilt of BUYING pillow cases! I can make them, and heaven knows I have bins of fabric! But the sewing machine hasn't seen the light of day in quite a while. I do not know how I stay so busy. But I do.

Anyway. I stayed up late last night wrapping stuff, and I have washed the Christmas stockings. I am excited about Christmas...Paul's gift is stuck in Chicago, it was supposed to be here a week ago. I was really hoping it arrived while he was out of town. I hope it makes it on time. I can't tell what it is, even though I do not think for one second that he reads this blog, ha.

Bye for now...Anne.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

snow day!!!


Camille was the first one up, and was out the door with me...

Snow Day! But it started out that school was delayed for two hours. I wanted more sleep because we all know that when Paul is traveling for work (he's in Boston), Della stays up way too late reading, so morning comes as a shocker. I knew Lydia was coming, I knew Anne was coming, and the driveway had to be shoveled.


Miss Char got up and helped. Jonathan got the snowblower started, and had the rest of the driveway clear in no time.

I don't mind getting up and going out to shovel. It's invigorating, and the doggies love playing in the snow. Sunny thinks every shovelful is something to chase and dive into.



Anyway...I procrastinated the whole getting up out of my nice warm bed thing, checked my phone one more time, and YES, school was now CLOSED! I texted Mali to see when Lydia was coming, and she wasn't, because her daddy had a snow day too. Anne was still supposed to come though, so we had to get up and get moving and clear that driveway. Then, she didn't come. So...I could have stayed in bed. oh well. :(

The three high school girls were getting up as we finished up with the driveway, and the coffee was ready. We turned on the tree lights, cranked up the fake fireplace, and cuddled under blankets, and planned our day. The kids decided to go sledding in the back.



Surprise! Kathryn decided to give Jonathan an early Christmas present! Kathryn had to work today, she was working from home, and busy, but Evelyn, Suzanne, Sonja, Jon, Charlotte Claire, and Camille went sledding. (Joseph works from home too, he's a freelance artist). I got to work on the triple batch of gingerbread cookie dough. We decided that gingerbread houses are over rated, and too much work, so we just made the cookies. After sledding, we had another cozy time in the living room, this time they had Evelyn's homemade hot chocolate, while I had a second cup of coffee. Then, time to frost the cookies!

Dinner went into the oven, chicken and gravy. I peeled potatoes and made mashies, and we had stuffing and veggies, and some cranberry sauce, because it is Abigail's birthday, and she came over after work. Emily came over too, so we had a nice dinner, the eleven of us.

Emily asked me how I like it that my house is such a hub for people coming over. I told her that 99% of the time I love it. I enjoy the kids, and like having company. I wish the house would automatically be always clean though. I get tired of cleaning it. It doesn't stay clean, not with all the peoples still living here, and the doggies and kitties. Evelyn determined today that, "Mom is the biggest slob." And yes, I had to admit, I had left shoes I wore to the Christmas concert next to my chair in the living room since December 2nd. And yes, that was my coffee cup sitting there. And my sweater is draped on the back of the couch, what?! I got hot! I have pairs of glasses everywhere, and leave my slippers wherever I am when my feet get too hot, then look for them later. I have passed these tendencies on to my kids, and somehow we all manage to survive. Today was nice because they all pitched in so much, and got the place neat and tidy in no time flat.

Having people over is a blessing though. When I know company is coming, I do that panic cleaning, the kind of cleaning I'm best at. I don't exactly throw stuff under the couch, but I get it straightened up in double time. It's usually when I do something clever like drop the glass bottle of olive oil out of the cupboard, smash, glass and oil all over the floor. This is a true story, and it happened the other day when we were expecting all kinds of company.

I told Em that the grass is always greener, with us humans. Solitude sounds lovely sometimes, but I don't really crave it. I would appreciate some quiet alone time, but I also am super thankful for having the kid, and friends and older kids and grand kids coming over.

Anyway. The gingerbread cookies: they are too good. Do not make them, and if you do, don't triple the recipe. I ate at least six, if not TEN of them today, all together. What? I can't help that Evelyn brought her mama a steaming hot cup of coffee while we were frosting! "In for a penny, in for a pound", is not a wise saying when consoling oneself about cookie-eating.

But what a grand day we had.

Tomorrow, my three high school girls will be heading back to high school. Anne and Lydia will be coming over, and I think Jonathan and Char are going cross-country skiing with Emily. Shh, Em wouldn't want me to brag, but she is done with school for the term, did excellent on her last final, and has ONE semester left before being qualified to take the Nurse Practitioner exam, or whatever it's called. She's still working full time as a registered nurse, so she's busy...but now that she has a few weeks between school terms, we'll see a little more of her. :)

She is teaching Camille the clarinet, which is adorable. Jonathan is learning trumpet, and Char is plucking the guitar, plinking the piano a little, and trying out the violin. I am not musical, but some of my kids certainly are. Today we burst into some pretty lovely renditions of Christmas songs. Suzanne played, "I'll Be Home For Christmas" (Bing Crosby), and they teased me as I started to get teary-eyed. Aaron won't be home for Christmas, and Samuel won't either.

So after Emily and Abigail left, the dinner was cleaned up and put away, and we had watched, "Psych The Movie", Jonathan, Char, Cam, and I went in the hot tub. 16 degrees out, and a 104 degree hot tub: mmm-hmmm. yup. Very nice. Then the coyotes started howling, and they were too close for comfort, so we hopped out and ran through the snow back into the house. Ev and Char put on boots and put the covers back on, turned it back down. Walking in the snow to get in that thing is crazy, but getting out, dripping and hot, and walking back through the snow is crazy!

All showered and ready for bed...we had a good day.







Tuesday, December 12, 2017

dreaming of a white christmas...


Jonathan and Charlotte Claire shoveled the driveway, Paul is in Boston for the week, and he's the one who knows how to start the snowblower. When he gets home, I am totally going to have him show me how.

The trampoline needed to be shoveled off this morning, too.


Yesterday's adventure was not how we planned, we drove 47 minutes to this special bakery/diner, and lo and behold, it was closed. The website listed it as open, but it had a closed sign in the window, and was all dark. hmmph. We got a coffee at Dunkin, and headed back to our area, where we ate at a local diner. By the time we sat down it was almost noon, and we were hungry. Mirielle and Char, Cam and I, we cleaned our plates. Well, not me, I saved half of the cinnamon raisin toast...it was hard to do, because it is baked fresh from a local bakery and delivered to this diner, and it is delectable. I shouldn't have had any of it, but when you name this diner, I think of this bread. You can keep the burgers and fries, I like the bread. So I had scrambled eggs and hash browns, and bacon. I swore to myself I wouldn't eat anything else for the rest of the day. But. I did. And, it was another egg, with a piece of sausage. Dinner for Evelyn and I, who had gone on a new coat quest...

See, Ev wanted a new coat for Christmas. We found one online, very reasonably priced, and ordered it. It didn't fit her right, but it did fit one of her sisters, who is now getting it for Christmas, so much for surprises. Anyway, we have gone from store to store to find her a coat, but they are so expensive. We ended up getting one at the warehouse store, for a good enough price, and she likes it okay. The good part was we went out yesterday afternoon and spent several hours together, which is always nice.

I do not know how these dogs have so much energy to fight and fool around after all that playing in the snow while the kids shoveled. They are worse than kids, the way they play. It doesn't last all day, thankfully, they get so tired and take huge-0 naps. I am about to send them back out the door. Sunny is the rabble-rouser, Suri wants to just lie around, but Sunny goes over and bites her leg, and puts toys in her face to get her to take the bait and start tugging back. They are wrestling on the couch, 75 pound dogs.

Time for school, and Anne is coming over...

Monday, December 11, 2017

it's the most wonderful time, of the year....


Evelyn made these yesterday, and somehow I know that they were excellently yummers.


Snow! This is from yesterday evening, it's been snowing lots more, and it's coming down like a snow globe right now.


Miss Sonja K. helped decorate the gingerbread cookies. Saturday night, after a long busy day working at the Dome, I didn't feel like doing much, but Evelyn and Charlotte Claire and Camille wanted to do something fun. (Kathryn took Suzanne secret Santa shopping, and Jonathan was at a boys' weekend having fun). So we ordered chicken wings and a pizza, watched silly Hallmark movies, and made cookies. #coziness.



Okay, here's a story: I got a Christmas card in the mail from Wegmans, a grocery store chain here in the northeast, the best supermarket ever, and I am a supermarket geek. I almost threw the card away, but I scanned the print inside, and instead of just saying, "Merry Christmas", this card said, and I honestly thought it was a scam, but it said that I qualified for a prize for being one of their best customers. Visit the service desk to claim my $50 gift card and coupons, as well as a gift. ha, I thought, but I did it anyway. I presented the card at the service desk on Friday, and what????!!!!!! I was in the top 100 customers for my local store. Top 100!??? Indeed. The manager came to congratulate me, and present the gift box. I was floored. No scam here. Then the box itself held coupons for free things! A free pound of shrimp, free ready-made entrees, ect, and a bottle of herbed sunflower oil. Plus, a fifty dollar gift card.


This does mean that perhaps I spend too much at the grocery store, I mean, I go to Wegmans, but I also go to BJ's, and Tops, and Price Chopper.

Anyway, it was too much fun.

Yesterday, Cheryl and I took our husbands to the airport. Bill was heading down to Georgia to visit his parents, and Paul was renting a car to go to Boston for the week, for work. They just happened to both have to be at the airport at the same time, so Cheryl and I found ourselves in the town we grew up in, and we had fun...the Geddes bakery, first. That's where Margaret and Adrian got their wedding donuts, one year ago yesterday, Happy Anniversary! We were celebrating Abigail's birthday yesterday, so that was going to be the cake, a dozen assorted donuts, then three different muffins in a separate box for a birthday gift, Ab loves muffins.

Anyway. Cheryl and I went to Kmart, then to Target, and got lots of Christmas shopping done. We got coffee, and talked, and it was a great day.

Home...Evelyn had made cinnamon buns, and it smelled heavenly in here. I put a ham in the oven, then quartered some potatoes, tossed them in olive oil and seasonings, and roasted them up. We had apples sauce and veggies, too. Then dessert: gingerbread cookies (they were SO good!), the cinnamon rolls, the Oreo truffles I had made (do NOT make these. You have been warned. They are way too good. One package of Oreos, or store brand, I used Wegmans, all broken up, add an 8 ounce package of cream cheese, blended together until smooth. I dipped mine in a bag of chocolate chips, melted with a bit of coconut oil and some white chocolate melting wafers. Then for some of them, I added Andes mint chocolate chips, and made some minty ones. They are too good, so do not make them.). There were donuts, cut in halves, of course, and even quarters, for tasting purposes. I only had one thin slice of a chocolate frosted one, one truffle, and a few tastes of cinnamon roll...then like four gingerbread cookies. blah. But. Today is a new day.

We were celebrating Abigail's 31st birthday. She is my second oldest child, born back when I was a mere 21 years old. Ab is a very special daughter. She's my accountant daughter, and she's sweet and funny and genuine, faithful and kind and thoughtful. She's diligent and responsible, and she has a laugh that makes every one around her laugh too.

Some of us went in the hot tub in the evening, which was delightful under the falling snow. The little girls got out, rolled in the snow, and jumped back in. Not me, it was hard enough to walk barefoot in the snow then get into the tub, but hey, 104 degrees when it's 25 outside is pretty sweet.

Today, we are going on an adventure. Mirielle is picking me up, and we are going to a a bakery/restaurant in a small town a ways from here, owned by my brother's son's girlfriend, so my nephew's girlfriend, Mirielle's cousin's girlfriend. She bakes her own breads, makes everything fresh and is a pastry chef. So, we have been wanting to visit her restaurant, and today is the day. The snow is falling, it looks so Christmas-y, and we are off...and shh, I know, two days in a row of eating the wrong things...but I'll be careful.












Thursday, December 7, 2017

just being there....


Our twenty dollar Christmas tree...I rather like it's odd proportions, it's nice and old fashioned. And my girls won again: white lights.


The little girls counted, we made 96 cookies...and frosted them. I did not eat one cookie, not a whole one. I do confess to breaking off a few pieces to taste, which is silly, because how can these not taste good? Seriously? Butter, real vanilla, flour and sugar, eggs, then more sugar on top:) But before you think me too virtuous, I will also confess to eating 3/4 of a chocolate bar last night. I was so good all day, then I just HAD to have chocolate. Dang it, no one else wanted a square, and I wasn't paying close attention. Do you want to hear more excuses or is that good enough? BTW, it was really yummy, good old fashioned Hershey's milk chocolate.

Yesterday, Camille said, "I don't know why, but I am just so happy." Ah, young children at Christmas time.

Then this morning, she woke up from a bad dream. She dreamed that Evelyn had magic powers and that she had turned evil. She prattled on about it all, then she got to the end, the bad part, where she had to give me one last hug. Ah Cam, I just hugged her for a while, told her I love her. Poor girl. She's watching, "Arthur", right now, because the school day hasn't started yet, ha. Anne will be here soon, and we'll be getting busy. The days fly by.

Yesterday, we did go out and about. I wanted to get something for Abigail's birthday (yes, we have THREE kids born in December!, just in case Christmas presents weren't enough to buy.) We went to Marshall's and found not only Ab's gift but some good Secret Santa things. Then since we had Anne in the stroller, she was happy, we walked down to Moe's. Moe's is a chain restaurant, Mexican food. The kids LOVE it. It's like Chipotle, you go through the line and customize your taco, burrito, rice bowl, or salad. Wednesday kids eat free, Jonathan pointed out. :)

We went to B.J.'s next a huge warehouse store. The kids like that place because of free samples. Anne was getting tired, but I still let the kids stop for waffle fries and mac and cheese, after all, it's a day in their lives. Char and Cam were adorable, they were singing songs to Anne as we walked along, keeping her happy, and I tell you, they were making complete strangers happy too, they were all out smiling at me as we passed them, and my girls were oblivious that they were in public.

Home...ah, home. We brought in the gifts and the groceries, and saved lots of our Moe's food for the three high school girls. We had coffee and cookies when they got home (no cookies for me though!), and it was cozy. I put the plate of cookies in front of Anne...she didn't know what one to choose.


This fine morning, I was extremely thankful that I could be here for Cam after her bad dream. I am thankful to be here when those three high school girls get off the bus, and for when the older ones stop over. My kids are growing up, but I'm still glad I can be here for them.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

cookies and coffee and sparkly things...

are the delusion of December, the sunshine and puppy dogs of the season. It's exciting! It is. I feel like a kid this year, all happy with anticipation. I got Paul something really cool, and with my own money, and can't wait for him to be all happy about it. If you must know, he's a hard one to please.That's not even the right way to describe it, it's more like he doesn't show it, or maybe that he doesn't see the need to fake it. If it's just a ho-hum gift, he'll give a ho-hum reaction, not smile and say how much he loves it, like I do.

Yesterday was really nice, in the early afternoon, Margaret and I went out shopping. I had some Target coupons: a ten dollar gift card came in the mail (off the purchase of fifty dollars or more), I had another gift card, then had returned some things and had still another gift card, then had a 20% off the total purchase coupon from black Friday. I got some Secret Santa stuff done, and a few gifts, and had a nice time with Margaret, she dawdles along and wasn't in a hurry, it was seriously enjoyable.

Our weekend was fantabulous. We had company on Friday night. I had a baking day on Friday. Four pumpkin pies, two loaves of bread, a loaf of low carb almond bread, and chocolate chip cookies.

Paul made venison stew, and some venison roast, both very good, and this from someone who doesn't like it very much.

Saturday was our church Christmas concert, the little girls sang, "We need a little Christmas", and it was sweet. It was incredibly blessed and encouraging. Here is my sister Cheryl with me. :)


Back at home in the evening, everyone was here except for Aaron. The nurses had the night off, Samuel was here for the weekend, and even Grandma visited, although I got here right after she left.

Sunday, more company! Paul was slicing up and packaging more deer meat at the kitchen table while I made a ham dinner at the other end of the room...ham, roasted potatoes, sliced veggies, rolls, and more cookies for dessert. There were at least twenty of us eating, and it was crazy but fun.

Now after all the company and the busyness, the house needs another thorough cleaning, but blah, I do not feel like it.

In a little while, Anne will be here. And after that, Sam will be leaving, going back to Virginia, to where he calls home these days. Some stories are not mine to tell, but you know, there is a story here, one that I have been going through...you know how sometimes I say that life ain't all rainbows and sprinkles? Well, sometimes you just get hit with these trials, right out of left field, and wow. Okay. But here's the thing: Samuel is going to be a daddy! Imagine our surprise, not long after he got out of the Army, us not even knowing he had a sweetheart! So for all these months, I haven't said anything because he had to tell people his own way, and it's not my story to tell.

His sweetie's name is Grace, and she is just finishing her degree in elementary education. Their baby is due next month, and if it were up to Sam, he would marry her right now, but like I said, it's not my story. Sam is trying to find his way in life, instead of going to college after the Army like he thought he would, he's working and trying to find a job as a police officer. It serves him well that he was in the Old Guard, I have no doubt he will find something good. The fact is that Sam and Grace love each other very much, she is a very nice girl, I really like her. Things don't always go the way this mama thinks they should, children grow up, and have minds of their own. The good thing is that Sam is a good kid, and is very determined to go forward in life with living for God, and being responsible, and putting things right. He is extremely excited about the upcoming birth of his baby, and plans to be a good father, and help raise his son.

So, I am going to be a Grandma of four, and this will be the first grandson! :)











Friday, December 1, 2017

and on to december...

The girls are excited, today they get to start their "chocolate calendars", the cardboard advents with a little molded Christmas chocolate behind every door. They each get their own, which was unheard of back in the day, back when I was knee-deep in small children. On our wall calendar were the names of the kids whose turn it was...at one time, we had four calendars and three kids sharing each one, so they got a chocolate every third day, it was hard to keep track of, then one of the toddlers or maybe a sneaky six year old, would get a hold of one of those calendars, open every little door, and...eat all the chocolate.

Anyway...back then, there was no way I was going to buy 12 or 10 or even six of those calendars, so they had to share. Sometimes they would choose to do the "every day we each get a small bite" method. Oh my poor kids, they had to learn to take turns and share.

Now Char and Cam and Jon each get their own calendar. But I'm pretty sure they will share with Kap and Ev and Suze and Sonja K.

Yesterday I spent a ridiculous amount of time painting these little sign things, you know, the painted wood block things that are all the rage? I bought some ugly ones at the dollar store, painted them with primer, then yesterday used white pearl essence acrylic, then wrote words with glue and put glitter on them...also painted one of those cardboard-y advent things with the drawers for each day...I spend a few hours on this stuff, with so many other things to do, and I can't even say they came out excellent...maybe I'll take some pics of them later...but I can say this: I enjoyed it immensely.

I am a procrastinator. I woke up this morning with all my plans for the day. I want to make some low carb almond/coconut flour bread. (Yesterday I made some of those keto muffins, cinnamon, with some low-sugar craisins in a few of them...I ate them with butter and a little bit of no sugar added strawberry preserves...mmmm.) I also want to make two loaves of regular homemade bread, because we are having company tonight, and we are having two different crock-pot venison dishes that Paul is making. One has peaches in it, one has squash, I think. I know he cut up onions and peppers last night, and the kitchen counter looked like a murder had taken place. I used the kitchen table to make up a triple batch of chocolate chip cookie dough, and then baked just three pans of them so the girls could have some for school, and will bake the rest today. Today, when I do the other million things I have to do.

Anyway, I woke up this morning, and started to get things out to make some bread. Then I reasoned that it's better hot from the oven, so I shouldn't start it yet. And besides, Camille wasn't up yet, and she's the bread kneader. I need to do a thorough cleaning of the bathroom, and and and. But. I decided that it's going to be such a busy day, I should take advantage of the quiet of the morning first, because it's going to be a long time before I can sit and relax again.

The dogs have been out and back in, 8 paws wiped off (sometimes I miss Duke so much I start to cry), they are snoozing on the couches but one bad Sunny did destroy a random tree ornament she found on the floor. It's shredded up, waiting for me to clean up. The cats are fed and watered, sprawled out sleeping. The floors have been swept, the counters washed, and that's about it.

This morning, I found a little ornament I had set on a shelf on the wall behind the couch...in the kitten's paws. It's a little white squirrel ornament with a gold sparkly scarf (Suzanne laughed when I actually bought it for $2, but it's cute!), but somehow that kitten got that ornament down and was beating the heck out of it..as I took it away and put it back on the shelf, I realized: We have a kitten. We're getting a Christmas tree tomorrow. Dang it. Christmas trees are just giant kitty toys. We have had them tip over before, cats climb trees. We WILL tie it up, regardless, but still.

Anyway, I have so much to do, but I know I'll run out of steam if I start scurrying too soon. Or hmm, is that just one of my excuses? I think it's just that panic cleaning is more effective. And besides, if I clean now, it will be messy again later anyway.

Last evening, poor Jonathan asked me if we could please watch our friend's three/four month old puppy for the day before Christmas through the day after Christmas, he would get paid towards his trip! Um, no. I said no. That's a first, btw. I am not a "no" sayer. I usually say yes. Especially to a visiting puppy! And this is one adorable puppy. Margaret and Adrian have this puppy's sister. But guess what? Margaret and Adrian will be bringing their not-quite-one year old Bunny pup over, plus their little 3/4 month old pup here, on Christmas Eve, and have been invited to stay the night here, which will be fun...but add one more puppy to the mix, and this is where even me, who doesn't say NO, had to say no. It was hard. Jon was disappointed. He is trying hard to earn money for this big trip...Evelyn and Suzanne and Sonja, and Jon are going to Norway in the spring for a special conference, with activities geared toward youth. And earning money for this has been challenging...but it seemed like it would tip the scales here from crazy to just CRAZYYY>

Anyway. The kid have been wreath-selling and raking leaves and cleaning people's cars, and still have lots of money to earn in a short time period.

As you get older, you realize how with the passing of time, things that are such a big deal, will fade into memory with everything else, and therefore, you don't get so bent out of shape about things. Also, hopefully, you know for a fact that God does not make mistakes, and there is a huge comfort in that. You see that He has had His hand on situations, and on people, and that when you put your trust in Him, there is no shame, no disappointment. If God is for us, who can be against us? (Rom 8:31)

Thursday, November 30, 2017

it's beginning to look a lot like...busyness!


Okay, one thing that just makes my heart happy is when animals live together in harmony. These guys are friends. They chase each other around, but they cuddle up together too. It's not rare to see the cats and the dogs snuggling. I like it. I also like the quiet of the morning, like right now, when they're all sleeping. Kitten is on my lap behind the laptop screen, the pups on the couches, the cats are sprawled out sleeping too.

Busyness...yesterday we stayed home, had Anne here, got some school done...then in the afternoon I picked up the van with the bum tire, only a $15 fix, so that's always nice, then brought Miss Suzanne to the craft store for more yarn. I also looked at all the Christmas decorations, all on big sale, and I may have put a few things in the cart. We were in a hurry because Ben and Ashley and Anya and baby Elise were coming over, to have dinner with us before activity club. I cannot hurry in the craft store. I wander hither and nigh, looking at everything I didn't know I needed, getting more good ideas by the minute.

Then the fun at the register: this particular store offers a 15% discount off total purchases, including sale items, with proof of being a teacher, or a homeschooling teacher/parent. I have asked about it, and was told to bring in proof from the school. So yesterday, I finally remembered to do that, and oh what a hulabaloo. The cashier was not impressed with the form from the school, she said, "It says, "We have received your letter expressing your intent to homeschool...", intent? That doesn't prove you are really homeschooling." Okay.

After going in circles for a while, with Suzanne standing there like a champ, not even rolling her eyes or sighing huge sighs, they finally just gave me a discount card. I DO spend lots of money there, and it IS their policy, but oh dear I felt like they were bestowing a hug favor upon me, and I had to bow down and kiss their feet....then the cashier said, "Thank you for your patience." ha, she didn't see how much IMPATIENCE I had inside, but to be fair, I was battling it...:)

Anne is here in four minutes, so up goes the sleeping kitty, as I go out to greet her...

Weekend forecast: company, full house Friday night. Clean the house Friday, make room for Christmas tree (furniture moving!)
Saturday morning: Christmas tree quest, the place we bought from for years closed down, people retired. We used to cut our own, maybe that's what we'll do. Saturday afternoon: Christmas concert! Just me and the little girls, and Mirielle and Abigail are going...then in the evening, gathering here with all the kids except for Aaron:( So I'll be home early from the concert. The kids are planning to pitch in and order pizzas, so I don't have to worry about dinner that night.

Today, we are going to fit in a quick trip to the grocery store. I baked some keto muffins this morning, cinnamon flaxseed, yucky but yummy, if you know what I mean...when you cut out sugar and most carbs, then a fresh baked muffin is just dandy, even if it's not sweet. Anyway, I figured that tomorrow I would be quite busy around here, and we are running out of some essentials, so I'll just go today.

I am super excited for Christmas because I got Paul something really fun. It's nice to earn a bit of my own money, even if I spend most of it on the kids. But to buy something for him with money I earned myself is very satisfying, and I think he might even be surprised and really appreciate what I got. Joseph put it on his card, and I paid him for it, so Paul doesn't look at the account and ask what I bought. I don't think he reads this, but just in case, I won't tell what it is...:)



Wednesday, November 29, 2017

library and target....

Camille's favorite outing...of course it could be topped off with a trip to the diner, but that didn't happen yesterday...one of them did get the bright idea to stop at the Byrne Dairy and get cookie-wiches...now, if you haven't had one of these, you are missing out big time. It's a chocolate chip cookie sandwich, the filling is: soft ice cream, all swirled in between, and then frozen solid. They make brownie ones now, and mint and raspberry ice cream filling too. I did not imbibe, no, I just drank some sugar free lemon flavored iced tea (I love the real tea with no artificial sweeteners, just lemon and tea), and pretended like I wasn't drooling.

Anyway...we went to the library, finally!, and imagine my surprise and delight when I realized that half the library books were still on the kitchen table, including the book that was lost and then found, which is adding up the fines for me...ugh. Oh well. We still got out a few stacks of good books. And little Anne loves the library.

Target...we went there because Cam has a $15 gift card from her birthday. I found a few Christmas gifts, and got some more Christmas lights, and used a few coupons quick, ha, kids would differ in opinion about my version of "quick", but I really was quick...Target offered a $10 gift card if one purchased four particular health and beauty items, and I had coupons for those four items, so it was a grand deal. And they are good Christmas gifts.

Anyway. Anne was tired in Target, so we did hurry through. I let her play with a few things I didn't end up buying, bad shopper award, but she lost interest. She was so good in there though. She likes going bye-bye. I asked her if she wanted to go when we were getting ready, and she did!

We got home, and what fun, Lydia and her mama (Mali) were visiting! Anne liked that so much!

I made chicken, noodles, and a nice big salad for dinner.

And that's what's going on here. Lots of busyness, drama, and random small crises, but it's all good.

Anne is on her way over, and somehow I have to get to the shop in town to pick up the van, the tire had a leak, and then the spigot/valve broke, corroded, so we couldn't fill the tire...never a dull moment.

Sonja K. is here, stayed home from school not feeling well. I don't think she's really sick....:)

Oh, and here's Camille's Christmas list...I thought it was cute...neck-a-lace, ha.

And Fruity Pebbles box with the two bags, she is asking for the warehouse size. It's too funny. Oh Cam, don't grow up...

Friday, November 24, 2017

black friday and a huge deer (big buck!) and the hot tub...!


Paul got another deer this morning...a good sized buck, 45 pounds of meat in the freezer. I am not partial to venison, but need to start liking it, we have so much of it.

I went out B.F. shopping this fine morning, way too late to get in on most of the bargains. The stores were still packed, but the good stuff was gone. But honestly, it starts on Thanksgiving evening now, and who in their right mind wants to leave their family and their warm cozy home at five o'clock on Thanksgiving day to get in on the sales? It's crazy.

Two things I wanted, I ordered online anyway. I did get a few things I wanted in Target and Walmart this morning too. I already ordered some stuff from Kohl's online, and am not planning on getting tons of stuff this year. We have Secret Santa gifts to get, we drew names on Wednesday.

And..the hot tub is working just fine!!! After all these years, I can't believe it works after just a few minor repairs. The cover is fine, I just ordered a new sheet of thick bubble wrap stuff to go under the cover, and the old cover still works well. The stars were astounding tonight, we sat out there and it was just so relaxing.

Tomorrow morning, early, Evelyn and I are heading to the Dome for a basketball game...but not as spectator, no, we have to work concessions. Benjamin is going to ride with us. Abigail is watching the little girls for me, Paul is going hunting again, and Jon is going to his friend's house.

Suzanne has taken up crocheting, she has the cutest hat on with little ears on it. She made me a warm scarf. Sonja is making a blanket, and even Char and Cam have been crocheting. :)

Anyway, goodnight. Morning comes early.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

thankful thursday...happy Thanksgiving, happy turkey day...


Paul's mom was here with us for dinner, and that's my son Joseph in my spot, as I took the picture...he sat at the counter, didn't mind a bit. Three of our kids weren't here for thanksgiving, Aaron, Sam, and Kathryn. And baby Elise was here but snoozing in her little seat in the living room while we ate.

It went by too fast. Margaret made sweet potato soup, it was SO good! The fresh turkey was delicious, and everything else was too. Some of the kids went in the hot tub when it got late, and lots of us played Jeopardy! that Evelyn made. We picked names for our Christmas Secret Santa. Things are exciting.

This fine morning, we are having brunch...well, at noon-ish...oven French Toast, bacon, sausage, fruit, juice, coffee, scrambled eggs, ect. The our official Turkey Day dinner: homemade pizza and wings, including a keto pizza or two, because SOMEONE has to get back on track. Someone who, shh, had too much pie...but oh dear. It was good.

Anyway. Here's a little flashback from life here five years ago...

This was five years ago, and the thing we unanimously agreed on that we were most thankful for was Benjamin's safe return from Afghanistan. In this pic, fifteen of the kids, all except for Ben, who had just come back from his tour, and was at Fort Lewis-McChord out in Washington. There are so many funny things about this picture, but when I look at it, I just see how God has been good to us. We have had our share of trials, but have been blessed beyond measure.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

pies and more pies but not enough pies....and police.

Oh, the plans of man...

Yesterday was supposed to go a certain way, and ha. I should know by now...

When you have Pie Making Plans, all you want to do is start measuring out that flour, rolling out that pie crust. But no, other things happen...

So the trouble with the daughter at school escalated, more stuff was added into the mix, she was harassed in the hallway, and ultimately, we had to go talk to a sheriff's investigator, at the suggestion and request of the school counselor. The backlash of this whole thing is extremely difficult, I can't go into details, but what a mess. And there we were, right during prime pie making time, at the Public Safety Building, trying to secure safety for our girl.

Daughter and I went to procure last minute milk and bread kind of things, and I bought her a new water bottle, she could have asked for the moon, but she's a good girl, and didn't.

Home...ah, time to put some frozen pizza into the oven for a spiffy-quick din-din...then make those pies. But. What?! Oh my goodness, it's Tuesday night, the kids are going to the youth meeting! That meant it was just Charlotte Claire and Camille home to help me! And do you know those girls were up to the task? They peeled all the apples for the two apple pies. We made five pumpkin, and a shell for the chocolate pie I haven't made yet. We didn't make nearly the amount we usually do, but it will do. We made 8 crusts, I gave each of them a bowl and put ingredients for for crusts in each bowl and they pureed those bits of butter right into the flour/salt/sugar mix. Camille mixed and measured the pumpkin pie filling while Char started the apples, and I rolled out the crusts. It was really a good time, and we finished in less than three hours. And...

We went into the hot tub! Benjamin and Adrian fixed it!

But...there is a leak. It's a small one, so we may be able to live with it. And...this morning the girls can't get it out of sleep mode, so I have to go re-set it and see if I can get it going. The cover which we thought was ripped isn't ripped, and is working fine. I ordered more of the thick bubble wrap stuff to put on under the cover, it should be here Friday. It's heavenly to sit in there...Char, Cam, and I went in while the pumpkin pies baked...then Evelyn, Suzanne, and Sonja came in after the youth meeting...it was amazing. The chilly air, and the hot water...so nice.

And...our Thanksgiving is today, and someone has to get that bird into the oven...its over 26 pounds, and it'll take a while. Paul is out hunting with Jonathan...our tables need to be moved, the house needs cleaning...and here I sit. I woke up with a headache, and today, I do not want a headache. I started off with ibuprofen right away, I don't like taking it, but today, I do not want a headache....

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

teenagers and how to deal with them....

Ha, if you thought I'd give you answers...instead, I entreat you to take a deep breath, say a prayer, then say exactly the opposite of what you thought you needed to say to your teenager. Dealing with teenagers is a painful experience, and there is definitely no one-size-fits-all in it. In my book, what's required are buckets full of forgiveness, a soft heart, and a few more buckets of forgiveness...and a huge dose of humility. For the MOM (or whoever has the gift of dealing with the teenager!).

Me: You have too much make up on.
Kid: Do you think leggings with a skirt look nice?
Me: No, but I have a huge muffin top at the moment, so my jeans aren't comfy, and I am not there yet in the Leggings as Pants thing.
Kid: I like my make up.
Me: You are so pretty without it.
Kid: You are so critical.

Me: Can you wash up a few dishes?'
Kid: I have so much homework. I don't think you realize, Mom.
Me: When you're done, then.
Kid: I won't be done until bed time.
(How, may I ask, does this child have time to binge watch every episode ever made of that one hospital show?)

Me: I'm going to the library today while you're at school.
Kid: What?! I NEED to go to the library!!!
Me: I have no problem going after school instead, if you want.
Kid: No, because then you'll be mad you had to wait for me.

At the moment, we only have three teenage girls at home, one teenage boy, one older boy who is no trouble at all, and the two little girls who know more about monthly cycles and biology than you would think possible, courtesy of having nine older sisters. Jon knows a thing or two also, doesn't bat an eyelash at the conversations these girls have. Anyway. Kathryn is coming home from California in a few weeks, so it will be even more fun, ha.

These three girls...the third, fourth, and fifth girls of our five-girls-in-a-row-in-five-years, are besties, when they aren't worst enemies. It comes so quickly, they're all laughing and having a good old time, then woosh, one says something, and another retorts, and the third one either sides with one of her sisters, or rolls her eyes and walks away. There can be slamming, pouting, crying, but it never lasts long. They have too much fun together.

And here's the thing: we love them more than life itself. We would do anything for them, and our only hope is that they are happy in life.

Yesterday, one daughter came home from school with tears overflowing. I had a bad day, she said. I can't offer details, but she was threatened three times, by the same boy...he says he is going to beat her up.

Never a dull moment. This daughter is a little bit scared, because who wants to have a target on their back? They say this boy has been in trouble a lot and has been in fights, and in my book, any boy who threatens a girl....hmm.

So pray for us, that we don't give in to that spirit of fear, because it IS written that God has NOT given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. (2 Tim. 1/7)

So these girls of mine all went to school today, brave souls as they are, I offered them, especially the one, to stay home, but no, she said that's just letting him win. He's not there, but his friends are there, and with social media, these things go around, and sides are being taken. It's ridiculous, but it's the world we live in.

Pray for us to be safe, but also not to blow things out of proportion, and also that we can have soft hearts and not let hatred in.

On a different note, yesterday I painted an ugly little dresser, didn't take "before" pics, but it came out so nice! I primed it first, which was very strong smelling stuff, oil based, but oh it worked to cover up the red. Then, I chalk painted it Plaster color, from Walmart, then waxed it up...it looks really nice. Then...one of the brand new stools, the black one...I spray painted it with spray chalk paint. It was not a success. It didn't go on evenly, it dripped, and I just wasn't impressed. My sister was helpful, she said that I can always wait until spring, take it out on the deck, and do it over again. But I didn't wait until spring, I just repainted it with regular chalk paint. I had some of the plaster color, and added some golden brown acrylic to make the color creamier, and it looks fine now. I finished the last coat of wax this morning.

As if I didn't have anything better to do. Tomorrow is our Thanksgiving. Tomorrow. Anne is here, and I have like ten pies to make. I have cleaning to do, but guess what? We are going to the library. Somebody got out a Game of Thrones book, and it's severely overdue. The kids really want more books to read, and Anne likes the library a lot, there are blocks and toys there.

We will also stop at the store for a few straggly odds and ends, like eggs and milk, and then Jon wants to go to Sears to get his glasses fixed, hopefully they can just put the arm back on for him without too much hassle.

So I'll come home with groceries and books and small children, and wistfully wish to just crawl into bed with a steaming mug of coffee and a good new book, but I won't. We need to move the kitchen tables around and sweep and mop under them, and there is always juggling with stuff...Paul's hunting clothes bin, and school supplies and craft stuff and and and.

But guess what? I am SO excited for Turkey Day. So excited. Emily and Mirielle and Mali all have the day off, three R.N.'s with the same day off! And Ben and Ashley are here!!!! Little Anya and baby Elise, and sweet little Lydia will be here. I am so excited. I am not excited about all the work, but it will be worth it. We have a fresh turkey in the fridge, and have so much to be thankful for....

Sunday, November 19, 2017

the obituaries....

I don't read the Sunday morning paper from cover to cover anymore, as the news is the same as the stuff I read online, but I do enjoy the obituaries. "Enjoy" may not be the right word, it's not like I'm glad all those people died, it's just that I feel it's the least I can do for them. I scan them, and find it fascinating what how whole lives are summed up in one or two sentences, including things like, "She loved her cat, Fluffy." "He was a HAM radio operator."

Life goes by fast, we do know that. I know a few things I don't want in my obituary:

She was always fretting about something.

She was as lazy as the day is long.

She tried. (when my son Aaron was a teenager, he said that was going to be my epitaph, ha)

No one could sweep the floor to her standards.

She eventually caught up on her laundry.

Anyway...what I'd really like written about me:

She didn't care what anyone thought of her, she lived for God.

She remained in patience and in love, no matter what happened.

Her house was open and welcoming, always, even if she didn't feel like company.

She loved her husband, her kids and their spouses, the grandchildren, and her friends so much that she never ever complained about them.

Anyway. Here in the Northeast U.S. of A., we are having a windy cold spell, it's snowing out right now, and the wind sounds like a freight train. I was the first one up, so I got to let the dogs out. Our across-the-street neighbors are having company, which our pups think is their business, Sunny goes barking over there like they have no right to get their Sunday paper out of their box. So I had to go outside with them, with treats in my hands, praising them for going potty, and luring them back in before they got any ideas. I had already gone out to get our newspaper, slipping on the easiest shoes by the door, which are Jonathan's sandals/slides, the most-used shoes in the house, and brrrr! Then, I had to go out again, because, of all things, there is holiday season Sunday delivery service, and Kathryn got something delivered. So barefoot, in the slushy snow, I ran out and met the delivery guy before the barking dogs woke up the whole house.

Boring details, sorry.

I made the coffee, washed up a sinkful of dishes, swept the floors, put laundry in the dryer, put laundry in the washer, wiped down counters, then ahh, my comfy chair and the Sunday paper.

Can I tell you about a video I watched about a married couple that I know? Years ago, they had come to a place in their marriage where L., the wife, thought they should just separate. They had grown apart, and she was sad. V. had no idea things had gotten THAT bad, but he knew his wife had some changing to do. He came in to great need in his heart because he didn't want his marriage to end, so he prayed to God for help. He got an answer...the answer was that maybe, just maybe, HE was part of the problem. He didn't think so, really, but he prayed and prayed, and talked to God about this...and finally conceded that he was 5% of the problem. He decided that even though he was only 5% of the problem, he would work with all his heart on that 5%. He was more thoughtful, more forgiving, he saw his own demands on her in it all, and it softened her heart too. She started to see her own self too, and they pressed into God for more light and more understanding....and now they are a few years older than me, still married, and extremely happy together.

So, Happy Sunday to you all!

Friday, November 17, 2017

black friday online!

I hate to give out all of my secrets, but shh, shopping online for B.F. deals is the way to go. I also don't like to give out all the secrets of what I am getting for Christmas, in case any of the kids reads the blog...but Kohl's starts their deals on Monday, so you can order boots for your girls, or surprises for the other kids...and you get $15 in Kohl's Cash for every $50 you spend...and no I am not getting paid to say this.

We are having our Thanksgiving on Wednesday, because three of the nurses have Wednesday off, and it's all about having the family together, so Wednesday is Turkey Day, and we will indeed be thankful! Thursday will have it's own celebration for all who are able to attend, a brunch, then a pizza later...there's something insanely satisfying about having pizza when you know most of the rest of the country is having a turkey dinner, like we're rebelling against the whole holiday, but in reality we've just already had it.

Anyway. After school today we have a plan to do some crafts at the kitchen table, drink coffee and cocoa, and have fun. We're painting some ornaments...

Sugar. Sugar is my #1 enemy, besides sin, of course. Sugar, as in grains and pastas, and of course M&M's. I try to eat only meats and veggies, barely any fruit even, but last night I had a mini pack of M&M's, and limited it to only one small pack...I knew I shouldn't have had them, even as I ripped open the cute little brown paper, but...then I wanted more, but said NO, and that was it. Our dinner last night though, it was not healthy...but oh it was yum. Cam and I cut like seven pounds of chicken breast into little cubes, then I dumped it all into a corn starch/flour mixture, and deep fried each little chicken piece, turning the whole mess into fragrant fried chicken bites, which we mixed up with orange ginger sauce, served with rice and veggies, rice which I limited to a tablespoon, but accompanied by that decadent chicken, all was lost anyways. But did I mention it was good? The kids really super appreciated it, it tasted better than Chinese buffet chicken, and they also knew Mom stood at the stove for a good hour, frying chicken.

Because sometimes you just look at that package of chicken breast and wonder what in the heck to do with it...we've had chicken and gravy a lot lately, and fajitas are good but who has green peppers and tomatoes on hand right now? I try to avoid packaged foods, and lean on meat and veggies with optional starches, like noodles, potatoes, rice, or fresh rolls or Italian bread, which I avoid in general, and sometimes I just run out of ideas.

Tonight I'm making spaghetti...the kids love it, and I eat the sauce on canned green beans, or perhaps some spaghetti squash.

The girls and I are going on a fun outing and I am so excited! They need red or green dresses for a Christmas concert at church, their dress rehearsal is tomorrow, so today we are going looking. We have been so busy lately, it's nice to have a day like this.

Yesterday was Della's Daycare, we had: Davian(5) and his little sister Anne(1), and Lydia(2), and Jon's friend Toby(12). It was busy and noisy and there were toys here and there and everywhere like the old days, and my head was spinning. There is this awareness of where a child is, what a child is doing, that every mom has or should have...that vigilant second nature that keeps track even while doing a million other things...it took me years for that to dissipate, and to relax, and to realize, there's no one I have to keep an eagle-eye on, 24/7. I found myself watching other people's kids too intensely, making sure they didn't stand up in the stroller, or knock down their drink, but eventually, it sort of went away. Now...taking care of Anne, I watch her like a hawk. It's even more intense than with my own kids, ha. And when Lyd comes over, too...it's back! That hyper-vigilance. The other evening, after little Anne was long gone, back at home with her family, I found myself doing that sudden panic of Oh No, Am I Supposed To Be Watching Someone!!!?

So today...we don't have any little ones...and off we go...the girls are happy, and Jon is doing something with Joseph...after doing some school work, of course:)

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

head games...

Yesterday, Kim was visiting, and we were talking about home improvements. We both have our lists, and most of the things on the lists will never actually even get onto the lists, and we know it. Because to get something accomplished, you have to want to do it more than the other 99 things that are calling for your attention, then you have to have the money and the time to do it.

At our house, replacing the windows has been on the list, and we actually did half of them last year. The rest were supposed to be done this year, but we got a new furnace instead. A new roof is on the list too, happy homeowners we are! I would like to add a new tile floor for the kitchen, because my brother installed ours years ago, (my brother who committed suicide), and he didn't install new sub-flooring, just put the tile over the linoleum...I'm not sure if that's why we have so many cracked tiles, or if it's just the type of tile we chose, but...we have lots of cracked tiles. I would like to rip up the carpeting in our bedroom and replace it with interlocking wood-like flooring. I would like to replace some bedroom carpets for the kids, and Sam's old room needs a desperate makeover, having had leaking pipes. But those are big projects.

The projects that I can actually do reasonably are the DIY things like the kitchen cabinets and counters. Every so often, I do lots of online research, and almost start these projects, ha. Yesterday I started a small project...Jonathan had this little dresser in his room, and carried it out here while cleaning his room, said he doesn't want it anymore. It originally had white veneer, but was painted red to match some other red things in his room years ago...so I sanded it down, and got ready to prime it, but to spare boring details, I don't have that primer right now because Jonathan forgot to bring it home, blah, and now this red dresser is sitting in the kitchen. I was thinking to chalk paint it a nice creamy white, or a dusty blue, put on some new knobs, and use it for hats and mittens over by the door. I love little, do-able projects like that.

Anyway. I am almost ready to start in on the cabinets...they have to be scrubbed first, and have all the handles/pulls taken off. Then I am thinking to chalk paint, then use a matte polycrylic. But I am going back and forth, I could sand and use latex paint, an nice satin finish, then I wouldn't have to seal them. And I'm not sure what color...I love the old-ish look of creamy white, antique-y, farm-house-ish, but the window frames are stark white, with white trim and hmmmm. Maybe a pale gray, or a deep dark gray.

I am leaning toward chalk paint because I am leaning towards not taking the doors off. I just don't know where I would put them all, and it seems like a huge hassle. I have read accounts of cabinets just being painted with doors on, and they've turned out fine.

Anyway...once I get these ideas into my head, I just want to redo everything. And we need to be driven, in order to actually accomplish something, but then there is the whole Being Content thing, and then Where Does It All End, and then of course there's At The End Of My Life None of These Things Matter. But then, for the time being, it's nice to have a pleasant home, a comfortable place....

But oh my goodness, I really want to start this project....

In other news, Kathryn might be coming home at the end of the month. Samuel has moved down to Virginia for a bit...details on that later...life is stranger than fiction though, I'll say that.

And...Anne will be here soon!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

hess trucks and other seasonal fun...!

It's back, and it's better than ever! Jonathan got his truck in the mail today from Grandma! 13 is not too old to love a new Hess truck!

Yesterday afternoon, I went to the craft store with my sister. It was a split second decision, one of those spontaneous trips out the door...she called and yes, I wanted to go with her! After all, I had just put dinner in the oven...I had floured and browned up two chuck roasts, in hot oil, with pepper and rosemary...cut up potatoes and carrots, and put it all in two glass baking pans in the oven, covered tight in foil...so yes, I felt I could leave.

The craft store is all things Christmas. And yeah, I bought a few ornaments:)

I won't put anything up until after Thanksgiving, but I am excited about it.

We went to the pool yesterday, and it felt great...Margaret and Adrian went with us...what a nice day.

And, I walked this morning! I just did, and lo and behold, I didn't freeze to death.

Tonight's dinner is going to be meat, potatoes, and carrots from last night, made into a stew/soup, with a fresh loaf of Italian bread...well, it was fresh yesterday afternoon, still hot, when I put it into the cart. My sister and I went to the grocery store really quick after the craft store, I didn't need much...just some half and half, a pound of butter, some bananas, and a package of hot sausage, and some spicy white hot coneys, marked down because they are summery, but are still good.

Anyway. Anne was delightful today...she is walking more than crawling now, and she liked the Hess truck as much as Jon did. She keeps me busy, but it's nice to have a little one to snuggle with. My sister-in-law Kim came for a visit with her two youngest, who also homeschool. Coffee and conversation, it was cozy and nice. I made up a triple batch of chocolate chip cookie dough and baked a few pans of them...and resisted...tasted some dough, but resisted...then all of the sudden, I found myself breaking off a piece of cookie where there are no chocolate chips...I like that part best, my cookies are more brown sugar than white, and the dough part is so caramel-y...it was SO good, so I ate like two more cookies...blah. So much work I do, then that happens.

But one thing I have learned is that just because I mess up like that, doesn't mean I am doomed and I may as well eat a bag of Tootsie Rolls...no sir. It's back on track before too much damage is done, and oh well, learn from it.

And...it's dinner time.

Monday, November 13, 2017

brrrrrr......

Cold weather happens, here in the northeast. Try as you may, you can't escape it, unless you actually escape it and head south. This fine morning, it's 30f. That's two degrees below freezing, so the precipitation is snowy/freezing rain stuff. There was new snow all over the deck and on the vehicles in the driveway this morning. It's overcast, and gloomy, and no one in their right mind would go for a walk in it. But here's the thing: I need to wrap my mind around the fact that those lovely autumn days are just about gone, summer is a distant memory, and I will not melt, nor will I freeze to death. I may not enjoy the pelting sting of freezing rain against my face, nor relish the cold wind, but. This is how it is, and I need to stop with the excuses.

Every morning, I declare that indeed, tomorrow I will take my walk.

This past weekend went by in a blur, but a good, happy blur. On Friday, we gave away kitten #6 to a nice lady who is a real estate agent and has two kids, and two dogs, and one cat. They had two cats, but one passed away and her dogs missed it. We messaged back and forth quite a bit, then agreed to meet at Target so she could take kitty. She sent me pics later of the kitten meeting her dogs, and they all liked each other, kitty didn't stop purring. I'm glad kitty found a good home. They are all rehomed now except for little orange guy, as we call him. He's staying, because we NEED three cats. I can't say I'm complaining, he loves me best. He's lying here on my lap right now, purring. He's really big and furry and sweet and very needy. He wants his mama all the time, and we are trying to keep them separated so she can stop nursing, and start drying up so she can be spayed.

After saying goodbye to the kitten, we went shopping for a bit. Kohl's had some good coupons and discounts, so we got a few things..the little girls had grown out of all their boots, so they found some that weren't too crazy-unreasonable. A few of the older girls found sweaters for seven dollars, the nice long ones with the hoods.

Yesterday, we went to Target...Margaret was with us, which was like the good old days. Margaret, Evelyn, Suzanne, Sonja, Charlotte Claire, Camille, and me. We bought bar-stools for the counter, which the kids have been wanting forever and ever. They don't match, one is black and the other is warm white. One is taller, and the styles are different. But they were $12 and $13, and Evelyn and Char assembled them as soon as we got home. Paul came in the door from hunting, and the kids were all excited, see the new stools, Daddy? He had no idea that we even needed them! Now of course, I am flitting through pintrest, trying to decide if I should Go For It, and spray paint them a nice matching gray or chalk paint them or just leave them and not risk ruining them. Can you spray paint in the house? I have the boxes they came in and could make a backdrop....hmmmm. What if I wreck them?

Thanksgiving is almost upon us, how did this happen? I tell you, time is on warp speed these days. School reports are due this week, already! Christmas is just around the corner! 41 days, not that I'm counting. It makes things seem frantic to see that number, but I have been stashing a few things away in my present closet. I like to give each of the kids lots of good stuff, but that's not really practical, nor do they need it, the older ones. The younger ones aren't so much into toys anymore, and the grandchildren don't need lots of stuff either. Anya is four now, and has a new baby sister, and for the time being, lives in a snuggly apartment, with not a lot of room for extras. She already has plenty of toys, too. Lydia is two, and she has LOADS of toys already. So Grandma can't just go crazy, their mamas wouldn't appreciated that. But with secret Santa gifts and girls' youth gift exchanges and and and, the fun is just starting.

I saw an article written by a mom of four boys, lamenting on how they already had all the toys. ALL OF THE TOYS, is what she said. So her younger kid didn't need anything but maybe some new jeans and sneakers. (she was suggesting that friends and relatives gift them with memberships to museums, ect, instead of toys because she was so stressed about having too much stuff). I get it, I really do. But, I have always believed that the younger kids deserve to know the joy of getting their OWN new doll, or new set of Lego. Just because MOM has been there done that, doesn't mean the child shouldn't get to experience the excess of Christmas, ha.

Anyway. Kids are up, the day is an empty slate, the floors need sweeping...and I am thinking about those stools...

Friday, November 10, 2017

winter already?!!!!!



It snowed! And it's cold! It's 23 degrees (-5c), and windy. We didn't get much snow, but it changes the lighting in here, and makes it feel almost Christmas-y.


There's no school today, so the high school girls are making breakfast, with their friend Irene and cousin Grace. Jonathan is shooting his airsoft gun with Sunny...Sunny goes crazy to go chase the pellets. Charlotte Claire and Camille changed their room around again, it's how they get it really clean. They are only ten and eleven, and they move those bunk beds and dressers and rearrange things all by themselves. It's sad each time though, Char says she has glass tea sets that she doesn't want anymore. :(
Joseph left a few hours ago to go, of all places, to the Adirondacks, to Giant Mountain, for a mountain hike. The temperatures there are frigid, but he's prepared, taking a few friends, and off he went.


Evelyn Joy, Camille, me, Sonja K., and Miss Charlotte Claire in the background...we went to the dreaded mall yesterday...we met up with a nice girl and her mama, who took two of the kittens...only one left, except for the one we are somehow keeping. Three cats is still this side of crazy, right?

The mall...we didn't do much. We went to H&M where I found a few baby things for grandbabies and a pair of jeans for Char, then to Forever21 where we hit the one dollar rack, for a few hats and socks, then found Cam some really pretty leggings for three dollars.

We went into Bath & Body Works, which the girls LOVE, even though we don't buy anything. It's SO expensive!

Anyway. We decided to leave and hit the grocery store for some frozen pizzas, there is a store brand of chicken/bacon/ranch, that they really like...

This morning, I woke up at 6:30, saw the snow, and was too excited to go back to sleep. So I got up and started in on the morning work of dishes, laundry, sweeping up the floors. I changed and washed the couch covers, and put some chicken in the crockpot. It's so cold out, it's a fine day for chicken and gravy, and mashed potatoes, stuffing, squash....mmm. And the best part is that I love starting the day knowing what's for dinner...doesn't take much, with me, doesn't take much.

There are cinnamon buns, and I am not eating cinnamon buns. They smell tantalizingly yummy, but no, I am not having any. I had an egg and a sausage, and a pile of green peppers with onions, thank you, Evelyn Joy! And pumpkin spice coffee.

Oh well...time to get moving, again....

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

ten years ago today....

Ten years ago today, my baby was born. Of course I didn't know she was going to be the caboose, but alas she is. She is just the biggest blessing. I don't like to repeat old stories...ha, wait, yes I do. But Camille was the baby I thought I had lost. I had the miscarriage, and went on with life...feeling sad and tired and worn out. It was a sad spring, my parents had both just passed away, and I just didn't feel well. And long story short, all those weeks, I was pregnant still after all! It was maybe a subchrionic bleed, or loss of a twin, I don't know...but at 15 or 16 weeks I went in for a check up, had a urine sample that came out still positive, then a blood test to see what was going on...the beta numbers were sky high, so the office called and said to come right in...whisked in for a sonogram, and there was a perfect little baby waving at us! I had thought ovarian cancer, but no sir, it was Camille Anaya (Anaya means: God answered.)

Anyway. We didn't know if Cam was a he or a she until she was born, but she was the best baby. She has been the best child too, and that's saying alot because I have 15 other best children, ha. But she has been a cuddler since she was born, and she still snuggles on the arm of my chair sometimes. She has a huge heart, and is very independent. She can pack for a sleepover all by herself, heat up a can of soup, make pancakes, cupcakes, and scrambled eggs. But shh, she still acts like the youngest child, and I don't mind. Because she is. And I say this: if you have had sixteen kids, and feel qualified to give advice on how to deal with the youngest, you are more than welcome, ha.

It's cold out. It's rainy and really wet, the dogs get muddy just running through the yard. I swept and mopped this morning, then the dogs came in from running about with Jonathan...he wiped them off, but I had to wipe down the whole kitchen floor again...

Coffee is on, Anne is here, and cousin Danielle has spent two nights, so it's like a little party. Except that Anne is tired and ready for her morning nap.

Monday, November 6, 2017

birthdays, strollers, camps...


Happy Birthday to Camille! In the background is Samuel, just came back from his weekend with the Army Reserves...he is talking about being deployed to Africa next year...spend his whole time in the regular Army in D.C., at Arlington, all safe and sound from being sent overseas, then joins the reserves...


Cam requested lemon meringue pie for her birthday. Okay, I thought, how hard can that be? Lemon pie and pudding mix would have been the smart option, with my homemade butter pie crust...but no, I had to go totally scratch, with the lemon juice and the cornstarch, and it was really good...too sweet and not tangy enough, but Cam loved it...I made two, and it took way too long, especially because you can't make just two pies, we had to have two pumpkin, too. By the time I got done cleaning, and making those pies, I decided the roast beef in the crock pot was going into the refrigerator for tonight's dinner, and we were ordering pizza. We had around 23 people for dinner, and I did not feel like going with my original plan, which was to peel, boil, and mash 10 pounds of potatoes, make stuffing, and veggies, to serve with the beef and gravy. I just didn't have it in me. I wanted to enjoy Ben and Ashley and little Anya and new baby Elise...I wanted to enjoy Mali and Lydia, and talking to Margaret and Adrian, and Emily and Abigail and Mirielle...and Sam came home from his weekend...it was crazy enough with six pizza boxes stacked up and the help yourself thing...I also cut up celery, cucumbers, carrots, and peppers, and had nice little prize bags for the little kids.

Anyway. Our hot topic of discussion was this: to rent the same camp this year, right on the water with the delicious dock to jump off of, or to sit and bake in the sun on...or a huge camp we found that has 8 bedrooms and an industrial sized kitchen, with a game room...it's just in a field, surrounded by woods...not on the water...but in the Adirondacks, one would have to drive to go fishing or swimming. But it would fit us so much better. I am SO leaning towards the camp on the water, I am supposed to be sending the deposit in today for it....the bigger one is more expensive, but still within budget. It's like one of those shows, Ben and I keep texting each other the pros and cons...with a few more babies being born into the family, we will be bursting at the seams in the lakeside camp. A few of the older kids will have to rent hotel rooms in town and commute. But the big camp will fit us all. But. We won't be able to just go jump in that freezing cold lake whenever we want, or just take the kayaks out, or go fishing in the boat whenever....I am not a decision maker in any sense, I go back and forth, and when I finally make up my mind, I jump right into second guessing myself. It's bad. Most of the kids agree to the big camp, it allows dogs, which is a deal breaker for Char. But. A few of them are like, NO WAY. There is NOTHING in this world like waking up and sitting out on the porch with a cup of coffee, and listening to the loons...just watching the water. And the sunsets up there, oh dear me.

We can drive to beaches and lakes, drive to places...and we'll have fun. The big camp has a huge-O stove, like the kind in my dreams, and an industrial/commercial refrigerator. There is seating for like 30 people, and so much room to rattle around in.

If we don't love it, our week at the original camp might be hard or impossible to get back for the next year. So it's a gamble. Part of me says to go for it, it'll be new and different and we'll all be there, so how can it be anything but fun? Margaret says she'll bring a little pool, ha.

I bought a new stroller. I still love strollers. I found one in T.J.Max for $150, but I behaved myself and didn't buy it, even though they sell for $400 elsewhere. (City Premier by Baby Jogger) I reasoned that it would be nice to have for the grandkids, and for when I watch Anne. But no, I resisted. I went to that store a few more times, and dang it, it was still there. Well, on Saturday, I went there to get a gift for Camille, and lo-and-behold, it was there, and when I tried to resist, what???!!! There was a RED tag on it! Upon closer investigation, wow! It was marked down to $90! Did I NEED it? Heck no! But for $90, yes. Yes, I needed it. I put it in my cart, and when Evelyn rejoined me after shopping in the shoe section, she just shook her head, and snapped a pic for Sonja.

It's for Margaret. That's a good thing. She did already buy one, but a different one. She's twenty weeks now, and this stroller will be great for her, as she can get a bassinet for it and make it a pram.

What fun.

Kittens...we are giving away the kittens...one lady wants two for her two little girls...then there is one left to give away, since we are keeping one little orange guy, making our cat total three, which is just this side of crazy, in my mind.

Today...we are going to the pool.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

math science history, unraveling a mystery....

Homeschooling...it's fun, it's busy...you can start to write a blog post or put a load in the washer quick, but then there's a math question...so you have to be present, you have to be patient.

Next week, we were planning to take an overnight trip for Camille's birthday. My baby is turning ten years old! Our house is most often hopping with older kids, grand kids, friends...Miss Cam helps with little Anne, who is here three days a week. She plays with her little nieces when they visit. For her birthday, we thought it would be nice to go away for a night, so we could have some fun, just the three homeschooled kids and me. We spent far too long researching, and finding just the right place...(that's school, right?), then I tried to book it, the excitement was IN THE AIR, and nope, it didn't work. A glitch somewhere. So I called the hotel directly, and the prices on the phone were way more than online. So no, not going to do it. I told Cam maybe we aren't meant to go, but I would try again later.

Because, going overnight to spend some time in the hot tub, the pool, have breakfast....watch hours of HDTV...it's fun.

I also suggested we save the money and buy her a bike instead...she got flustered, she hates wasting money, it makes her feel bad, so I just shut up about it and said that we'll have fun going away.

Anyway. She's doing division problems in front of the fake fireplace. The skies have cleared up, I opted out of my walk this morning because it was so chilly and pouring rain. I know I won't melt, but getting soaked to the skin...just no.

We are going to the library in a bit, for more stacks of books, and to let Anne play a bit.

And let me go off on a tangent, please. Let's go back in time, ten years. Ten years ago, I started this blog. I was still pregnant for Camille, didn't know she was a girl until she was born. But anyway. Ten years ago...let's see what life looked like...
Emily was 22
Abigail was 20
Benjamin 18
Mirielle 17
Joseph 16
Aaron 14
Mali 13
Samuel 12
Margaret 10
Kathryn 9
Evelyn 8
Suzanne 6
Sonja 5
(baby Robert in between Sonja and Jon)
Jonathan 3
Char 18 months

I was knee deep in it, ha. When Cam was born, 8 kids ten and under. Oh my dear goodness.

Anyway.

I changed my mind about this autumn, it's not the most beautiful ever. The leaves seemed to be blowing off the trees before they get a chance to become breathtaking. There are so many bare naked trees already. There is something chilling about bare trees, something foreboding, like you know what's coming, you can't stop it, it's stronger than you. Winter humbles me. We're fortunate enough to have gloves and boots, and a warm place to live, but without all that, it would win.

The warm walking mornings are taken for granted, then you realize that being cold on a morning walk isn't just a joke, it's really happening again. You can bundle up, but having an ice cube nose and a hat on your head isn't the same as walking with the cool breeze blowing your hair. Your fingers huddle under your jacket sleeves, until you know gloves have to be dug out of the closet.

Maybe I'm getting old, getting tired of being cold, maybe I am understanding my mother-in-law more, she winters in Florida but is staying in the stark cold north until January this year. It hasn't even started and I find it dismal. Morning walks when the road is icy, nope. When the snowbanks make it nearly impossible for a non-nimble old lady like me to hop out of the way of a speeding snowplow. It did happen once, I almost got snowplowed. I kid you not. It was the hands-down most terrifying experience of my life. It was when we still had our sheepdog, Rosie-The-Bad-Dog. She was barking like crazy at our neighbors down the road, barking and circling the neighbor's tractor/plow, as they tried to clear their driveway. I had to go down the road and lunge for that dogs collar, drag her unhappy butt back down towards our house, when the snowplow came barreling down the road. The snowbanks were huge, but I leaped right into it, scrambled out of the road for dear life. I probably spent the first few minutes warning time, when I first realized that the plow was indeed coming, deciding what the heck to do, then it was almost upon me, and dang it, I dove right into that snow bank. I don't even remember if I let go of Rosie so that she could bark at the plow, I don't remember. I just remember the terror, and then coming into the house and telling everyone I almost got hit, uh huh, you're fine, "almost" doesn't count.

Anyway. The sun is coming out, Cam needs help, and I haven't had breakfast yet.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

november?!


But first, let's finish with October...me with my two granddaughters, Anya (Ben and Ashley's, Ben had a class and Ashley just had a baby), and Lydia...Mali went too, along with Miss Char the haunted doll, and Miss Cam, the artist...


It was cold out. We bundled up, brought blankets for the wagon. While we were driving to pick up Anya and meet Mali and Lydia, I talked to Char and Cam about being happy in what you do, verses doing what makes you happy. We talked about how life isn't about trying your darnedest to line things up just so, so that you are personally comfy and happy, but about being good and blessing and listening to what God has to say during it all. They were pretty gung-ho to be good Aunties to Anya and Lydia, and I think they really were. They brought Anya up to the houses with them to Trick or Treat, so motherly and gentle, and patient too. I think they were really blessed back by her joy, and all in all were very happy campers. Also, I told them that since we were going with younger ones and they didn't go to as many houses as they would otherwise have gone to, I would stop at the store on the way home and let them buy a few bags. So I did:)

And...now it is November. wow.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

boo!


This is from a few years ago. Tonight, our Trick or Treating will be different, as Jonathan is going with Joseph and some other boys, then to Margaret and Adrian's for a boys' party, the older girls are having a youth gathering/party, so I am left with only the two youngest, but we are also taking Anya. Mali is coming too, with little Lydia. It's chilly out, so we will have to really bundle up.

The weekend went by too fast, once again. Sunday I worked at the high school band competition, in a food stand, with Paul and Evelyn and Suzanne...Abigail worked an earlier shift. This is Suze with me...


Let me tell you about donuts...there were trays and trays of them there, at the food stand, that weren't going to be sold because apparently the cash registers hadn't been programmed for them, so they were to be thrown away. Dozens of them, racks of fresh beautiful donuts, to be thrown away. If that's not sinful, what is, I ask? We were told we could eat them on our breaks, and even take a few home with us on the down-low, shh, we aren't allowed to leave the Dome with any food. But most of them went...into the garbage. Some nights, our leftovers go to the local Rescue Mission shelter, but not this past Sunday. So into the can they went. I did take a few home for the kids, but I did not eat any. The white frosted with sprinkles, the chocolate glazed, they called me, they screamed my name, but I stood firm. I just can't.

Anyway. It's very chilly here, and windy, and we've had lots of rain. Gloomy and cold, perfect for Halloween. I hope the rain lets up for tonight.

Anne is due here in just a few minutes, I have to put the dogs' dishes up, and do a second check for small things, you know, things one small girl would put in her mouth, like a penny or a small lego or a doll shoe, or even a piece of kitty chow. I sweep and mop each morning before she comes, because she still crawls, although she is taking steps now!

Benjamin is coming over with Anya today to finish up our furnace. It'll be nice to see him, and Anya. Lydia was here for quite a while yesterday. When she was getting ready to leave with Mali, she kept asking where the moon was, and I told her it was bye-bye behind the clouds and rain, and she said, "Like the dun!". Her mama translated. Like the sun. Yes, Lyd, like the sun. Cuteness overload.

Yesterday started out pleasantly...it was windy and rainy, and I was no way going on my walk, since I had worked a long shift at the band competition on Sunday. The little girls were with Margaret, so it was just Jonathan and me. We decided to go to the store, since were were out of bread and fresh fruits and veggies. We stopped in at the thrift store first, and contemplated buying a wood rocking chair, I was itching to repaint it, but the seat was cracked, so we said Nah. We got some new glasses, as they disappear around here. Then the dollar store, which didn't have anything fantastic, but the girls wanted face paint for tonight. Then, the grocery store. There was a deal where if you bought five participating items, you got five dollars off your bill, and there were coupons in the paper for most of the things, plus special dollar double coupons. Jon was most patient while I chose shampoos and conditioners and razors, for almost free.

We got home and put things away, then Margaret brought Lydia over...Mali works nights as a nurse, 12 hour shifts, and doesn't get much sleep when Lydia wakes up as soon as she gets home from work in the morning. Daddy is in college now, so Mali gets only a tiny bit of sleep when Lyd naps, which is not enough at all. So Marge went and picked her up, and when the three high school girls got off the bus, they were delighted to find Miss Lydia here. :)

Saturday, October 28, 2017

simply enchanting...

Autumn...the blast of color here in the northeast is so brilliant, that I find myself saying that it's more beautiful this year than ever. "You say that every year, Mom." Last evening, I was able to go along on the haunted pumpkin walk, or as it's properly named, Enchanted Pumpkin Walk...at the nature center, there are hundreds upon hundreds of carved pumpkins, all lit up, on the edges of paths through the woods...pumpkins carved as Winnie-the Pooh, Tinkerbell, Shrek, the Yankees logo...you name it. There was a magic show (which was lame, but hey, the kids liked it), then there were donuts and cider. I didn't have either, as I am trying hard to abstain from sugar.


The other night, I took these three girls to the village for a walk (Danielle (cousin/best friend), Camille, and Charlotte Claire), with Sunny. It was chilly out, but we still managed to stop at the ice cream place, which is closing soon until spring. I wasn't going to get a soft-serve vanilla/pumpkin twist, but then I reasoned that What The Heck, and I got one.

And it was good. Darn it, I was almost hoping it wasn't wonderful and delightful, but darn it, it was.

Anyway, Charlotte Claire has this idea that she wants to bring Sunny Trick or Treating. Sunny is adorable and sweet, but she's no angel on the leash, and she's very shy. So it seems obvious to me that she would ruin the night, but Char...not so easily convinced. So we went to the village and let her walk Sunny, and it wasn't terrible. She wasn't as skittish as I thought she would be, she was extremely happy to be out exploring, she tugged a bit, but didn't shy away or bark at anyone at the ice cream place. She sat for a taste, and wagged...but thankfully, Char agreed that it would make Halloween night difficult. :)



Now, it's no secret that puppies and kittens together are my favorite. I don't know why it tickles me so, to see them live in harmony. Sunny absolutely loves the kittens. The kittens have no fear of the dogs either, they rub against their legs, and snuggle up and sleep with them, all purring. It's really sweet....and yes, we have three kittens to give away still, as we are keeping one. I have an appointment for vet next week for mama kitty, she's not having any more kittens...

Paul is back from hunting, and is going to the dump. Two of the girls went to a Harry Potter festival, and the little girls are having their friend Amanda over. Jon is having a friend come over later with his puppy, to socialize it with our dogs. I'm not sure what the day will bring for me, yet. I am thinking of going to the home improvement store to buy a new kitchen faucet, as ours is broken...it still works, but the handle falls off if you don't turn it just so. I also am itching to do the countertop resurfacing and kitchen cabinet refinishing...I might just have to say NO to lots of things that come up, once I start these projects.

Have you ever had your feeling so hurt you just had to cry? It happened to me last night. I felt like such an idiot. It doesn't matter what the circumstances, but I couldn't help the brimming with tears that overcame me. It's why I could never be the President, I would cry too easily. Anyway. I couldn't help it. But now...now is what I CAN help...is the afterthoughts, the suggestions that flit through my mind that could easily lead to bitterness...and we all know that it's written about bitterness, that we should see to it that no root of bitterness should spring up, because by it, many will be defiled.(He. 12:15) We can't help our reactions sometimes, but we can help what we allow to grow and take root in our hearts, hidden where no one can see, no one but God. It's really amazing, actually, as I prayed that my heart wouldn't grow hard, that I wouldn't give in to offendedness, that I was able so see something about myself, something I did, came back to me...

Anyway. God is good. We don't have to be plagued by sin! It's hard and heavy to hold grudges, but to forgive, to let it go, it's light and good and free!