summer 2011

summer 2011

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

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

Friday, March 24, 2017

greener grass and rose colored glasses...

Um, don't tell the school district, but today has been a homeschooler's dream. The teacher was up partying all night, also known as baking cakes for like 400 - 600 people, which turned, awful, but that's a whole 'nother story. So the teacher stayed up too late, and ate too many cake scraps, which made sleep just out of reach. Teacher got to bed around one, knowing she had to get up at 6:30 to get sweet daughter Evelyn Joy to school for a science field trip. The knowledge that one has to get up early somehow inhibits the elusive sleep from washing over me. Then...when I blissfully nod, Duke decides to declare himself to the world, just a few intermittent barks of loneliness, spaced apart almost scientifically to when I nod back off again. I actually imagine myself sighting him in, on just an airsoft rifle, of course! Just give him a little BE QUIET zonk.

Evelyn arrives in my room, MOM, YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO DRIVE ME TO SCHOOL! WE HAVE TO LEAVE IN FIVE MINUTES! This is not my favorite way to start the day.

I drank coffee on the way there, and regaled her with my woeful cake tales. Um yeah. They rose up nicely, then fell flat...baked up lovely on the outsides, and the insides were still jiggly...we turned the oven way down, and waited ever so impatiently as the night got older and the cakes seemed just weird. They tasted fine, I mean, we HAD to trim the edges where they over-rose. But they are going to be more like blonde brownies than white cake...but served with berries and whipped cream...

Anyway, teacher did something teacher never does: went back to bed. The night was unbelievably short, and it's a cold and dreary day, windy and overcast, a day for sleeping a little bit. Jonathan agreed to get up and stay out here with the puppies, so they didn't bark in utter loneliness...and I took a one hour nap.

(Duke can't sleep in our room. It's like taking a nap with a toddler who has eaten too much sugar. He's antsy and keeps me awake)(and I think he likes being with the other dogs)

Anyway. Teacher spent too much time with two small children on the arms of her chair, looking at houses for sale. We like to critique ever aspect, and especially like to look at the really expensive ones. We found one we can really fit into, and we want it, but unfortunately, it ain't gonna happen, ha. Those kitchens though!

For some reason, Miss Cam is having milk and a chocolate cupcake, and Char is mauling poor Sunny, who looks tolerant, but not thrilled.

We are going to do some more intense school, in a bit. It's just one of those days...and we have stacks and stacks of new library books! Yesterday in the library, the girls were exclaiming, "I just love books!", nodding in agreement with each other, and jumping up and down. That makes this homeschooling thing worth it.

We also went to the dreaded Target yesterday, to get a few gifts for Kathryn. I bought her some sandals, which she thought were going to be pretty useless in Norway, ha. We also brought lunch up to her, she is staying in Oswego this week. It was only McDonalds, but hey, a side salad with a few nuggets...they all got $2 chocolate shakes too, oh how I longed, but didn't dare...she took her lunch hour when we got there, but then had to get back to work.

Lately I have been googling things like airline tickets to California, and Seattle, then more reasonable, hotel prices for just maybe a long weekend in July, maybe in Cape Cod. Paul and I need a little get-away again, don't you think?

The story unfolding in London is horrific. Local news isn't much better, here an investigator in the DA's office allegedly hit an 18 year old boy while driving, and didn't even stop. The boy was taken off life support after family and friends said their goodbyes, and now this former investigator, (he has been fired), is in big trouble. He knows the law, but couldn't apply it to himself, he was probably pretty drunk. Sad and tragic on all sides.

Sunny is in her perch on the back of the couch in front of the window. I don't like that she picked that spot, but she really likes it, and it's cute, and oh well, she wins. Sometimes you have to just pick your battles. Having eleven daughters has taught me that. I would say it's like this with the girls: 90% of the time, keep your mouth shut. No matter if you are right and they are wronger than the day is long. When you, as the mom, feel the most like straightening them out and using your God-given Mom Power, as in BECAUSE I SAID SO, it's usually not the right time. The right time is pretty much when things are calm and good, and you can talk in a peaceful way, after all the anger and the right-ness and the impatience has burned off, ha. There are exceptions to every rule of course, especially where Momming is concerned, but usually the first reaction is a wrong reaction. There is a time and place for putting the foot down, and I am still learning how to fine-tune this skill, my poor older kids! Oh, to get a Re-Do of life!

I do go on and on sometimes, hampered from getting up from this comfy chair by the knowledge that letting sleeping dogs lie is better than putting my foot rest down and waking them all up, letting them out, then wiping off 12 muddy paws...and the coffee is particularly yummy this chilly morning.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

happy birthday to kathryn, and dollhouse people go to jail....

My Kathryn Grace is 19 today! Kap is our tenth child, the second of the five-girls-in-a-row-in-five-years. (those girls are now 20, 19, 17, 16, 14 -almost 15)(Margaret was 5 years 5 months when Sonja was it was Margaret 5, Kathryn 4, Evelyn 2, Suzanne 14 months...when Sonja was born) (I had too much fun with these girls!)

Anyway, Miss Kathryn is staying at Margaret's place this week, Margaret is in California training for a new job. Kathryn is working full time, and saving up money for her plane ticket to Norway, she is staying there for a year.

We are heading to the library today, then to visit Kathryn up in that small city by Lake Ontario.

But first, some pictures from our fun day yesterday with the twins...

Mr. Sebastian playing with Sunny.

Miss Linnea playing dollhouse...I feel bad that I didn't get a cuter pic of her, she is a darling. She gives bear hugs! They both do:)

These dollhouse people were in jail...

These were their visitors.

I think a successful playing day is when the whole house is involved, ha, when their imaginations just take over. They also played a huge game of hide and seek, and then colored pictures. Char and Cam were teaching the twins how to write their names.

This is not a good morning for blogging. I have had texts from Kathryn, Paul, Mali, and Eleanor...all good things, but. We are going to look after Lydia this evening...well, Paul and some of the kids are. I am going to be baking cakes for 400+ people, and making rice krispie treats with Oreos for 200. Evelyn and I went shopping for the ingredients last night. Math skills come in handy when you're multiplying recipes by 20! (and figuring out how many pounds of flour you need)

The little girls are supposed to be showering and getting something to eat, so I can help them pick out something nice to wear out and about. They are in reality dragging their cute little feet, they say it's cold and they don't want to get moving. Jonathan has been up since dawn, he likes his free time before "school" starts in the morning.

I love the Life Stories, please send more! I am going out on a limb here, my friends, asking for these! It's like having a party and hoping the people you invited show up! It's so interesting!

Well, my day is turning out to be a busy one...library...Paul ordered a book he wants, we have books due back, and we really need a new supply. Then we need another bag of puppy chow, and I want to run into the dreaded Target because they have those solar lights on sale, and I love them...the girls like to make light/jar/DIY projects with them for summertime. And I want to get a gift for Kathryn.

The clock is ticking, Miss Lydia will be here in the afternoon so we have to get going so we can get home...

Here are some other random things going on here...

The three high school girls are doing well, getting good grades. Evelyn Joy, my 11th grader, is going on a science field trip tomorrow and has to be at the school earlier than the bus would get her, so I will be getting up and driving her. She has a driver's license, but the school requires lots of paperwork for a kid to be allowed to drive to school. Suzanne is in 10th grade, and seems to be doing okay even with some of her "friends" not speaking to her anymore. Sonja K. is in 9th grade, and is working hard to offset the week she took off to accompany us to Florida.

Homeschooling is going well. Yesterday the kids each had to teach the others about a book they read. So they learned about and discussed earthquakes and shifting plates (we don't like that Aaron lives in San Fran, :)),the Titanic (Jon's cruise is over, so it's okay now, ha), and simple science. It makes learning fun, and when we google any questions that come up, we learn a lot.

Weight loss...I am, as always, re-committing. I spent a good hour the other night reading Paleo diet success stories from Mark's Daily Apple. These people suffered from their grain heavy diets, and feel better as well as had excellent weight loss results from eating more meat, veggies, healthy fats, and reducing fruits, starches, and eliminating sugars and processed foods. I have to make more of an effort to eat clean each day, and it's getting better again. Tortilla chips: no. Rice: just a spoonful. Popcorn: um...this SHOULD be a no, but me loves it. So it's: way less often. Ice cream: I don't eat it unless it's the homemade stuff from a farm-to-dairy place, which is almost never, but I do plan to go to one this spring. Bread: no. Occasionally Ezekial bread, which is from sprouted grains. I am trying to concentrate on what I CAN eat. The other night I had a huge bowl of spinach, with green beans, then some chicken and just a tablespoon of rice sprinkled on top. When I was losing weight nicely, I ate a lot of spinach.

Anyway. It's always a challenge, but I feel better when I eat cleanly, and I feel more in control, and ha, in my life, with all these teenagers, not much is in my control...which is okay, especially because I know that God has it, but still.

Here I sit when I have places to go and birthday presents to buy. stories!!!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

your life's story....

No one wants to hear a stranger's life story. Except for me, I want to hear it. I'm one of those ladies who gets in these conversations with people at the store, and my kids just raise their eyebrows. Maybe I don't know how to gently extract myself from their tales, maybe I'm actually interested, maybe a little of both.

People are just lonely sometimes. When you're old or infirm, or even a bit poor, it can take tons of effort to just get out the door and out into the world, and if it only happens occasionally, it's a big deal. These people need socializing. I know a little bit about this, being a not really stay-at-home-mom. You do talk to your kids, but I did crave talking to actual adults sometimes.

Anyway, every single person has a story. Not all of them are earth shattering, but all are interesting in their own way. I sit here every morning, blabbing on and on about minor details of a normal life here in central New York favorite things to yap about are:
1. Traveling
2. Coffee
3. Trying to lose weight
4. The kids
5. Bargains
6. Adventures
7. Home decorating ideas or projects
8. The Labradors
9. The marriage
10. Memories of growing up

I get comments sometimes from readers, reminding me that people actually do read this, and I love it!

But here's the thing: I want to hear YOUR story. If you have a blog, let me know! If you don't, tell me about yourself! I want to hear YOUR story.

Here's my story for today...

Kathryn bought me a new laptop/Chromebook. It's shiny and new, and the screen doesn't turn black at the slightest jolt. There are no missing keys,and when you plug it in to charge it, it just charges without having to hold the charger just the right way. I absolutely love it.

Here's a fun thing: Kohl's has had 30% off online orders, free shipping, and a $10 off coupon for $40 more of kids' clothes. The clothes are on sale already (good thing because their regular prices are way too high). Anyway, I ordered Char, Cam, and their best buddy cousin Dani, these pretty princessy dresses. This was very exciting!

Isn't it pretty? But nice dresses don't come free! Yesterday, we cleaned out the laundry room! Our laundry room ain't what it used to be, with the mountain of bedding in the doorway, me never ever being able to get to the bottom of it...our old washing machine was a nightmare, it rarely spun out without me giving it a spin by hand, and loads had to go through several times before they spun enough water out to be able to go in the dryer, it took all day to do a load sometimes, and when there were lots of small children and lots of bedding to wash, and of course the clothes and towels...and socks.

This isn't even the white ones, ha.

Anyway, I enlisted the kids to help me get this done yesterday...sorting and straightening, rooting through and bagging up clothes too small, ect.

Today we were going to go to the science museum, but it's so cold out! 16 degrees this fine snowy spring morning! So the twins are coming over to play later. We have school to do first. Tomorrow, library trip.

Kids are up and busy and I need to get moving again...

Monday, March 20, 2017

strange happenings....and mysteries...

When you want to go to see "Beauty and The Beast", and all the firetrucks are at the theater...Miss Charlotte Claire. We didn't miss it though, we simply drove to the other side of town to the mall theater, with Mirielle, Camille, and cousin Dani.

I skipped dinner so I could have some popcorn...we got the refill size, and when I finally got the nerve to tiptoe out of the movie to get it refilled, there was no one there at the counter! Dang it! We didn't really need anymore, but still...there WERE five of us, and it WAS dinner, ha.

The movie was really enjoyable. I liked it. I know there was some controversy, but I don't care about that. We liked it.

Anyway, on the way home from the movie, there were all the same firetrucks and rescue vehicles parked on the highway, traffic diverted onto a back road, lots of rescue vehicles, ect...I hope it wasn't a bad accident.

As for the mysteries...Miss Cam is all into solving mysteries lately. She has this little handbag with a notebook and a magnifying glass, and she asks questions and looks for clues. She asked me last night if I had lost anything she could help me find...I told her my phone charger has been missing for a few months, but I doubted she would find it. Well. She found it! Within like five minutes! Then she asked Paul, with her little notebook out, pencil poised...he said yes, his knife. Well. She found that too, right away. She asked a few questions, started searching, and voila!

So when I went to the little grocery store in town, I bought her some ice cream bars as payment. (I went specifically for half and half, we are too spoiled to drink milk in the coffee...then I went out to breakfast this morning with my older brother and my sister, and the place only had Coffee-Mate, which is sugary and fake, so we had our coffee...)(but it was a really nice time!)

Then today, I found some mysteries to solve online, kids' stories with clues, ect.

Today was a good school day. Jonathan aced his mid-year exam, Char finished half of hers and did really well, and today Camille finished hers, and also did really well. We discovered she didn't know how to multiply fractions, so we had some lessons, and she picked it up in no time, as well as the concept of converting mixed numbers to improper fractions and back again. It was really fun, I enjoy being in on the true joy of learning with them.

Tomorrow is gymnastics class, which we missed last week because of the storm.

Danielle is spending the night, because by the time the movie was over, it was late...they are still awake in there, having a good old time.

We were thinking of going to the pool today, but I got caught up in planning for a big upcoming church feast...six hundred people, 300 pounds of spiral sliced ham. I ordered it from Wegmans, the meat department guy is a gem, so pleasant and helpful. This Saturday, and guess where I will be? Uh-huh, in the kitchen. Kim and I are thinking of making cupcakes for dessert...600+ cupcakes...will we go crazy after like 200? We'll bake them in the church kitchen, the convection oven is faster and has six racks. But still, it will be...interesting.

Life sure is interesting...

Sunday, March 19, 2017

lazy sunday afternoon....

You would never know that Paul and I have sixteen kids. He's watching something on his tablet with the basketball game playing on the television, and here I sit...sipping my coffee. The kids are all busy...Sonja went to see, "Beauty and the Beast" with some friends...(Mirielle is taking the little girls tomorrow night). Evelyn took Jonathan, Charlotte Claire, and Camille to take all the bottles and cans to the redemption center. And so on.

We got up and went to church this fine morning, then came home and played with the puppies a bit, Sunny loves the snow. Then I went for a nice walk...40 degrees and sunny, feels wonderful!

There is to be taco salad for dinner, and I skipped lunch, so I am thinking of heading into the kitchen....

Saturday, March 18, 2017

an afternoon rest...

These happened yesterday...and yes, they're all gone. Thirteen of my kids were here yesterday! I wanted to take a picture, but a few of them immediately shut that down, I mean, Mirielle had worked all day long and stopped in for way did she want a picture taken. Emily, Abigail, Mirielle, Joseph, Mali, Margaret, Kathryn, Evelyn, Suzanne, Sonja, Jonathan, Charlotte Claire, and Camille were all here, along with Paul and I, Margaret's husband Adrian, and Mali's little Lydia. We had our corned beef dinner, and Paul made venison chili.

Tonight, the girls are having friends over. I made chocolate chip cookie dough, still have to bake some, and we're making pizzas.

I don't feel like doing anything, btw. Duke woke me up at 6 a.m., and I knew I wouldn't be able to go back to sleep because I had to be up a bit after seven anyway, to work at the college basketball game at the Dome. So my feet hurt, not to complain, but listen...the stadium is all cement floors, and we had to stay open until the game was over, and of course we had to open way before game time to prepare food, ect. We sold pretzels and popcorn, hot dogs and coneys, sausage subs and pizza, and nachos....cotton candy, caramel corn, candy, water, soda. The lines were long, it was busy. By the time we got home and I walked up the driveway, my feet were longing to be up, here in the comfy chair.

Now I am sitting down for the second time, the cookie dough is made, I cleaned up a bit...but I have to go bake, and make pizzas. Is it just me or does my life revolve around food?

But first, something very cool: Kathryn bought me a new laptop/chromebook! It's coming soon in the mail! I almost cried when she told me, I don't want her spending her money on me, she has a new job, and is only working until July when she goes to Norway for a year, she should be saving up. My little old Samsung Chromebook has seen better days....the screen has to be in a certain position or it goes black, it's missing keys, the puppy chewed up the charger so it has this wonky one that only charges it when it feels like it. One false move, and it shuts off. So Kathryn surprised me and ordered one for me.

She wanted to wait until it arrived, but the other girls were so excited to tell me, she couldn't wait.

So tonight they are having some friends over, and I want to make it nice for them, so I am reluctantly getting out of my chair...only my feet are reluctant, the rest of me likes doing fun stuff like making cookies, ha.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

back home again...

Paul is coming home today! I get to pick him up from the airport later this afternoon. I would like to make a quick trip to the small city first, to get some groceries...we are scraping the bottom of the bin of doggy kibble, and are running out of essentials, like half and half for the coffee. Our fresh fruit and veggies are diminishing, we are almost at the point where the teenagers stand there with the 'fridge open saying, "There's nothing to eat."

I would like to get the house spic and span and spotless before Paul comes home, I don't know why. Maybe it's because when you've been gone, staying in nicely vacuumed hotel rooms without iron water stains in the sinks, you notice more clutter and dust when you get home. Not that we have those things, ha.

Maybe it's because I want to pretend like I'm a busy girl. Maybe because it's just less stressful walking into a clean house, at least for me. When the kids have it nice when I come home from somewhere, I love it.

And me...I would like to lose at least ten pounds before this afternoon. I have to wash my hair, I already showered this morning but Kathryn was needing me to drive her over to Emily's house in town because she works from home, online, and our internet is sloooow. So I didn't wash my hair in the shower because it's cold out, and we had to leave. Good planner, I am.

It's been a busy morning, for reals, as Kathryn says. I swept and mopped, I washed up the counters and did some laundry. I shoveled some of the driveway. We have like three feet of snow out there, the only vehicle that is shoveled out is the truck. Abigail gets home from her cruise tomorrow, and her car is simply snowed in. I widened the pathway a bit, throwing the shovels of snow onto the snowbank on the clear side of the driveway, Sunny there to dive under and catch the snow. She loves when you throw the whole shovel of snow on her! She jumps to catch it, she dives "underwater" in the snow, she wags and smiles and just delights in it. I want to wack her one because she also wrecks the snowbanks, sliding all that snow back into the driveway.

The good thing about Sunny being such a little helper when I shovel is that she gets tired. She's very cute and darling when she is running around the house with a sock in her mouth that she's not supposed to have, but when I'm trying to do something important, like sit here and's nice to have her snoring on the couch.

But as with all good things, yeah, I have to get up and get the girls ready and go out into the cold windy day. The snow has stopped for now, but the wind is still blowing all that snow into the roads, but the truck has four wheel drive, so I should be okay to go to the store.

Spring is going to be so sweet this year....

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

cookies and snowstorms....

These cookies are better than bakery cookies. They are simply amazingly yummy.

from out my window...

Kathryn and Sunny....

So Snow Day #2 is still nice and cozy.

Tomorrow, Paul is supposed to fly in from Ireland, the snow and wind should die down by then. I hope so. We shoveled the driveway three times today, and some of the cars are absolutely buried still. Kathryn got the snowblower started but it kept turning back off, it simply balked at all that snow. The lady next store came over and plowed the end of the driveway after the snowplow filled it with even more snow, that was so kind of her.

It's getting old, it really is. The snow is blowing sideways. You can go out side and not even be able to tell anyone had been out there an hour before. Snowing and blowing. I don't mind getting bundled up and going out in it though, it's kind of cool.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

not even OLDER!!!

I was just sitting here in a rare quiet moment...thinking about how much I love our little fake-y fireplace...the fake flames dance, it throws some decent heat, and the coziness factor is right up there, on par with cinnamon rolls baking in the oven.

But, as I had that thought of how much I really like the thing, I had a vision of putting it under the deck in the future. You know, scrapping it. Under The Deck is the holding room, like county jail on the way to prison, for things heading to the dump. Because, like all things we love and cherish, it will break someday, and we'll get rid of it.

As I had that vision, that little snippet of some day in the far future, hopefully far future...I realized that if this thing lasts ten years, I'll be putting it under the deck when I'm 61. And I cannot even reconcile with being FIFTY ONE YET.

Anyway. If we are so lucky, we do get old.

And I'm watching Little Miss Sunshine with Evelyn now...the kids have a second snow day tomorrow!!!

snow day!!!

But yesterday was NOT a snow day! We went to the childrens' museum!

Miss Char and Miss Cam in the butterfly garden...

Miss Mali Rose with Lydia Eleanor...

Lyddie Lydster...

There was an old woman,
Who lived in a shoe,
She had so many children,
She didn't know what to do.
But they grew up and away,
So to the museum of play,
She went with only two.

(Charlotte Claire took the picture) (And my #7 child came with me, with little Lydia:))

This is the optical illusion house that makes you look smaller. Hmm.

We had a nice day, it was a far cry from the old days when I dragged 12 or 15 kids through that museum...or rather they dragged me. Stopping to nurse the baby...oh good times. My two little girls are angels, they didn't complain a bit that we were rather on Miss Lydia's schedule...she got a bit tired, so we just left instead of pushing it. In the old days, we couldn't always be so accomodating of nap time, there were the rest of the kids to consider. How oh how did we manage, I do wonder.

It was a really pleasant day with though.

And today, snow day!!!

The big tree has started to bud, and is now covered in snow. The wind is picking up, and it's chilly.

Homemade cinnamon rolls happened, Evelyn and I made them. Can you say the word, "bliss"? Can you guess who strayed from their low carb lifestyle? uh huh. With hot coffee, with Emily here to visit, with kids home from school because of the blizzard swirling around the house...Em got out of work early, she works as a nurse in the city at the hospital, but today she was working at a dr. office in the small city, clinical for her future degree as a Nurse Practitioner. The office closed early, so she stopped in.

So coziness happened so far today.

Last evening, dear Evelyn grilled burgers for us, out in the dark windy evening, on the deck.

My dinner...oh heavenly yumminess.

This fine day I talked to my son Samuel from Washington D.C., then to my son Aaron from California. It was 40 degrees in D.C., and 65 in California. harrumph.

This fine day started too early, again, thank you Dukester. 6:11, on a snow day! After the dogs went out, came in, had a treat...I dragged Duke down to my room, and he snuggled right nicely into Paul's side of the bed. He slept there until almost nine o'clock, which is just what the doctor ordered, ha. I have felt so sleep deprived. Evelyn already had the coffee on and the cinnamon bun recipe out when I got out of the comfy bed.

Now it's time to think about making dinner...

Monday, March 13, 2017

uneasy weather....

Never trust a March snowstorm. 24 years ago today, we had a surprise nor'easter hit. When I say, "surprise", I mean SURPRISE! Without smartphones and laptops, our weather forecasts were limited to nightly television meteorologists, and ha, we didn't have a t.v. back then, so our family got the daily newspaper, which yes, was delivered on a dinosaur.

So that big storm 24 years ago gridlocked the traffic in the city...the people got out of work early, all at the same time, and the storm stopped the vehicles in their tracks...snow was falling at almost 4 inches an hour at one point. Paul left work and got as far as the end of the road, and had to just park and walk...he came in the door so covered in snow, it reminded us of when Pa in "Little House" had gotten caught in a blizzard.

The fun thing about that storm was that my mother got snowed in with us. To pass the time, at one point, we decided to have a poetry contest (no television, we didn't get one until a few years later). Paul's poem was surprisingly the best, and it was great fun.

The wind howled around the house and we got several feet of snow in two days.

Now, forecasters are predicting another big one, the worst snow of the season, right when we could almost taste spring. I have already put away winter decorations! There are tulips on the counter!

With Paul in Ireland, somehow I just feel uneasy about this storm, like I need to prepare. If power goes out, we lose water too, so we need to fill up some jugs and pitchers. We should go to the store and get some food that's easy to eat if we lose power, too. And dig out some firewood, as if I could make a fire in the woodburner furnace without smoking us out of the house, ha.

Today we aren't going to just sit around and wait for the snow, we are going to the childrens' museum of play! It's one of my favorite places, and we are going with Mali and little Lydia.

First, I have to go take care of a ticket, poor Evelyn got pulled over by the state police the other night for having a headlight out. She was driving Abigail's car (Abby is on a cruise with Grandma). Ev had no idea the headlight was out. It has to be fixed and signed off from a car fixer/mechanic or police officer and postmarked today, mailed in to court. Evelyn was upset about being pulled over, and I was like, "Seriously, I have to take care of this today, I am going to the museum!" But that's life, isn't it? The officer could have given us a little more time, but I guess he thinks we have nothing better to do.

I do have better things to do, which is why it's a mystery to me why I am sitting here in my comfy chair with the fake fireplace roaring it's fake sound with it's fake flames dancing, spewing out wonderfully warm real heat. The dogs are snoring now, and it's peaceful. I have to wake the girls and pack our lunches, but I have a little bit of time.

Yesterday, I went to the Lowe's Home Improvement store with Mirielle. She is updating her bathroom. I had a gift card from some paint I bought back in the fall, and Cam has been bugging me to use it, she was afraid it would expire or I would lose it, poor child. So, I bought a new stove fan/hood/exhaust thing. It looks so much better! Adrian, Margaret's husband, installed it as soon as I brought it in.

I still want to do more projects here, but where to start? I want to sew with the little girls, paint the counter tops, paint the cabinets...

On Friday, we puttered around and did lots of art projects. The little girls love to paint things. I painted an unfinished mirror that I used a 55% off coupon on in the craft store, with white enamel paint, it is hung on the wall behind the far couch, and I like it. I chalk painted the little ceramic toothbrush holders we have had in the bathroom for like 20 years. I chalk painted some blue mason jars, to put flowers in, and they look just how I wanted them to. Char painted a little crate, Cam painted a wood tray.

So Margaret and Adrian have a puppy. She's three months old, her name is Bunny, and she's a Lab/Boxer mix, I think. She's adorable and very well behaved. She comes to visit frequently, and runs around with Sunny. Suri tolerates her, Duke doesn't like her at all, I think he feels threatened, so he growls when she comes close. She's learning to just leave him alone. Anyway, Bunny is not quite potty trained, so we have to pick up all the throw rugs when she comes to visit. She gets excited and stops and does a little reminds me of Sunny just a few months ago. Overall, it's nice when they bring her over, because dogs need friends too.

So Duke woke me up at 12:30 last night, right as I was falling asleep. I let them all out, and when they came in, I gave Duke one of his doggy arthritis pills, took him into my room, and actually lifted him right up into the bed, practically covered him up and sang him a song. He slept until seven this morning. Paul will have to sleep on the floor when he gets home. :)

Yeah, I need to go pack some lunches. I hope the snow holds off until later tonight so we get home safe and sound.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

crazy in love....

33 years today! Happy Anniversary to us! I told him he lucked out this year, he was in India for Valentine's Day, and now Ireland for our anniversary.

It's a work, marriage is. I can be so certain of what he's thinking, of what he means, and react according to that without even giving him a chance. Ha, I am not saying I'm wrong though, just that maybe, just maybe, I will be one of these days. :) Seriously though, it is a work. Feelings feel so real, and when I perceive I have been wronged, my instinct is to fire back. Or put up a wall, to protect myself. And really, he doesn't mean anything, or I maybe misunderstood, or maybe, just maybe, I am the one being a brat. Not likely, but stranger things have happened. I mean, the other day before he left for his trip, he said he had to go to Walmart to get the outlet plugs that are compatible in Ireland. I offered to go for him, to save him a Walmart trip, he hates that place. He laughed, and declined the offer. He said, "You'll get the wrong one and I'll have to go back anyway." Murder has been committed for lesser offenses I tell you. He was only teasing me, but I felt like he was calling me stupid. I started pouting, then I realized what a waste of time it was, because for one thing, he had already left for Walmart...and the other thing is, well, it's pointless.

I love him. I really really do. He loves me too. Here's the thing...we were so busy with babies and kids and teenagers and messes and maintenance and potty training and showers and baths and laundry and meals and shopping...for years and years and years...we rubbed elbows and were tempted to get on each other's nerves, but somehow, through the grace of God, we didn't let our love grow cold in it all. And honestly, there were times when I know I was no prize. I was fat, I was tired, I was frazzled. I love my life, but it hasn't been without challenges. I would clean one room, and the other ones would turn even more tornado-ish. Then it would be time to make dinner when I was up to my elbows in sorting laundry, and then there would be things to go to in the evenings and the kids all had to be dressed neatly and and and. It hasn't been an easy trip through life. The blessings definitely far outweigh the struggles, but my point here is that our married life hasn't been a Disney movie, played out in a tropical paradise.

I think a successful marriage has to be in the framework of a commitment. Like, no matter what, we are together. There has to be respect. I have always felt that he respected me, even when he teased about me not getting the right pluggy thing. ha. There has to be self acknowledgement, and there has to be forgiveness. And kindness. When I am not really feeling the love from him, even though I know it's there somewhere, I have found that I can be the one to just be good, give a hug, smile at him, whatever.

Anyway. Today we went to the airport with Jonathan and Abigail, they made it down to Florida and are with Grandma now, leaving in the morning with her for their cruise. Charlotte Claire, Camille, and I went to the fabric store...we sat there and looked through pattern books, and I let them each choose a dress pattern, with no zippers, please, ha. Then we looked at the fabric, which has gotten so pricey! We found some we liked, that was on clearance too. We looked around the store a bit...we came across some lovely overpriced lanterns, and I asked the girls, "If these are 49.99 and are on sale for 40% off, what do we do?" Camille said, "But one!" (I meant, "How do we go about figuring out how much they are...ha. (round to fifty, five times 6, since we would pay 60%, and get thirty...)(but of course we would never pay that much))

We went to the craft store too, I let them choose some wood things to paint. We got new fake flowers, and a few candles...they love the battery candles in their room.

We went to Aldi for half and half and chocolate and green peppers and cashews and almond milk.

Then...home. We were really hungry but are trying not to eat out so home we went...

Duke wakes me up too early, so I really should sign off and get to sleep. It has been a really good day.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

where's wednesday?

This is today after the pool! It was SO nice to get in that water and swim! Why oh why don't I go more often? The kids loved it too. Jonathan was with Margaret and Adrian, but we had little Davian with us for the day. The only problem with swimming is it makes me hungry, ha.

Yesterday, I worked out...and when I say, "worked out", you may envision something a tiny bit more intense than what my exercise routine is at this time of my life, as in HA. I can go down about an inch with my push-ups, can't even do a sit-up, so I lie on my back and lift my heels off the floor, keeping my legs straight, and lift them right into the air...that pulls those abs good. I lift my ten pound weights, and do some aerobic things, and stretches. It's not earth shattering, but it's a start.

Converse day...before we left for gymnastics yesterday.

We had a corned beef dinner tonight...cabbage, baked potatoes, carrots, and green beans. Mirielle and Margaret came over, and it was nice...but in the back of my mind was that I had to help Jonathan pack...he's leaving tomorrow for his cruise to Mexico/Caribbean with Grandma and Abigail.

So, tomorrow we are going to the airport. I am bringing Char and Cam with me, so we can go to the fabric store on the way home to get dress patterns...I want to teach them to sew.

Anyway...the days fly by. Paul is setting in over in Ireland. Aaron called today from California, and I talked to Samuel this week too, and also Benjamin from Washington state. I like keeping in touch with my boys. If I were rich, I would use all my money to fly here and there to visit them. And maybe another trip to Jamaica with Paul. I really want to go see Aaron...he's going to be moving into a house with a pool. And visiting Ben and Ashley and Anya is on my list too. Samuel will be home before we know it, but I will be going down to Washington D.C. to pick him up.

Ah well...we are going to miss Jonny around here next week.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

23 years ago today....

Or rather tomorrow, to make this story easier to tell....

I had a baby. She was the most beautiful little girl. I was induced for her right on my due date because a stress test indicated she was...ha, stressed? So I checked into the hospital early in the morning, had Pitocin running into my veins all day long. Nothing happened. Contractions were mild, weren't progressing. I talked to my sister on the phone at a bit after four in the afternoon, lamented that things weren't going well...then, oh dear...a whirlwind of horrible contractions, and by five o'clock, I had a baby in my arms! I'm telling you, one push, and she was there. The doctor said, "God wants you to have babies, Della", as she was born.

So Mali Rose (aka Molly Rose) was born, and the very next day was our 10th wedding anniversary. Seven kids...Emily was 9, Abigail 7, Benjamin 5, Mirielle 4, Joseph 2, and Aaron 15 months.

(Mali with Kathryn)

Tonight, Miss Mali is coming over so we can celebrate her birthday. I can't wait to sing Happy Birthday and see little Lydia's face. She can sing, "Twinkle Twinkle". She can say, "All right!" She can give you "five". She can say a very emphatic, "NO". If she decides she doesn't like something you feed her, she'll simply scoop it all out of her mouth, and hand it to you. She's such a tiny thing with a big brave personality, coming into our big crazy house and taking over, ha. We love her...and her mama too, of course.

This morning is a headache morning. I know why, too, or at least I am theorizing that it was the brownies. It's a good thing to blame it on, anyway, I need all the help I can get to stay away from things like that.

It could be from waking up while it was still dark this morning to let the dogs out. I tried to go back to sleep with Duke in my room, but he was having none of was like way back when I had little babies, and I had an antsy toddler in my bed, me trying desperately to sleep, small child trying desperately to wiggle around and sing songs.

Anyway. It's a good day. I am thankful for ibuprofen, and for coffee.

Monday, March 6, 2017

monday madness.....

Where oh where did the day go? We stayed home, we did school, I read, we painted some little birdhouses, they made clay pots to put pencils in. I made chili, rice, and brownies.

Tomorrow, we are not staying home. Jonathan needs a hair trim, and preferably some new sandals for his cruise with Grandma. Yes, his Grandma is taking him on a Caribbean cruise with Abigail! She asked Abigail first, and told her she cold pick a Abigail picked Jonathan!

They are leaving on Thursday, so I will be bringing them to the airport, which makes three trips to the airport in six days...(Paul left for Ireland on Saturday, Kathryn came home from California last night, and now these two are flying to Florida to meet up with Grandma for their cruise).

So tomorrow I need to get some groceries, a birthday present for Mali (she's turning 23!) It seems like she has been grown up for so long already...she graduated from high school a year early, with Aaron, then started nursing school. She got a job as an R.N. right after, because school loans don't wait forever to be paid off! She's a mom, and has all the grown up stuff like car payments.

Mali is coming over tomorrow afternoon, so I will make something nice for dinner, and have something good for dessert. I can't very well bake something when I'm not home, and if I was thinking ahead I would have made something today, so maybe I'll just get ice cream and put together an ice cream pie quick. (quickly is correct, but doesn't "quick" sound better?)

Anyway. Between buying lightbulbs and almond flour and flip flops for Jon and doggy chow and plastic wrap and coffee filters and gymnastics and birthday gifts...tomorrow will be fun.

As much as I wish I could say I didn't eat any brownies, um...well, I had a few. I like the chewiness of the corner pieces. The sad part is that I ate so well today! I had a few meatballs for a late breakfast, four chicken wings for lunch, and chili for dinner. It was enough food, and I almost made it through the day successfully, but dang it if I didn't get fooled into thinking the old One Taste thing. ugh.

Tomorrow is another day. I will behave.

I am very tired and am going to try to sleep early, because obviously Duke will be waking me bright and early. He hasn't been eating all of his food today, morning and evening he left some behind...actually for the last few days. He is also very shaky on his legs. And tonight, he snapped at poor Charlotte, she was trying to get him to wake up and go outside one last time, he can't hear, so he was startled when she shook him awake. I don't know...I am worried he is turning into a know, a dog who might actually bite, just because he can't see well, can't hear, and is old and wobbly. wah. Samuel is getting out of the Army next month, and asked me to please wait until he can come home and say goodbye. I will try my hardest to respect that. But my thinking is that if Duke can survive a harsh New York winter, it seems cruel to put him down when the weather is turning nice...never mind. I can't think about it tonight. Why oh why do we have to love these creatures so much? Is it not enough that I have given my heart to so many children? And Paul of course. But these are ANIMALS. My heart doesn't care about that though. No sir. I love those puppies.

Okay. enough for tonight.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

it started to early, but oh well....

These three couch hogs...(the couch is a hodgepodge of blankets and coverings, they have to be washed quite often...) Duke is the chocolate guy, with half an ear. He's the wake up with the birds dude. This fine morning, I watched the sun come up while they went outside and romped around...they came in, I gave them their treat, told them to go lie down, and got back in my still warm bed. Well. This time, Duke wasn't even quiet for five minutes. I no sooner was covered and comfy, and he started in again. I put a pillow over my head to drown out his intermittent barks. I put two pillows on my head. I put my phone with the white noise on high volume, directly on my ear, with two pillows on top. I could still hear him.

Poor guy. He just wants people around. I think he's going senile. So I just got up. It's not terrible, being up with the birds on Sunday morning. It's not the end of the world to be tired. I gave Duke his medicine, and he's happy as can be. I noticed that as I sit here with my computer, he puts his head up every once and a while and looks around, making sure there's someone out here. I think that perhaps I am going to have to maybe perhaps start having him sleep in my room. I have resistance to that idea, because for years and years and years, I had children who would have rather bunked in with us, and though it wasn't easy, I drew that line. Once they were passed the nursing stage, I wasn't going to have a family bed, ha, there wouldn't have been room for me any more. And that takes something, to put a kid back to bed when they come padding in silently in the middle of the night...more than once, I had myself a good fright when some sweet child or other appeared by my bedside and said into the silence, "I don't feel well!", or, the real heartbreaker, "I had a bad dream..."

I know if I let him sleep in my room, even in a comfy bed on the floor, that dog is going to end up climbing into our bed. And I am not sure I am up for that. Labs are very hoggy, and have absolutely no concept of personal space, ha.

Besides being tired, it's a really nice morning. I have my pumpkin spice coffee, my new warm slippers, a furry blanket, and the house is quiet, now that the puppy has finished with her after-breakfast antics. (She has an energetic streak in the mornings, we have to play fetch, and she roughhouses with Suri so much I have to shoo them back out the door a few times until she settles down.)

Yesterday was the basketball game at the Dome...Emily, Abigail, Margaret, Evelyn, Suzanne, and I all worked. We dropped Paul off at the airport...he's in Ireland for a few weeks. Abigail and I rode together, and after the airport, we went to that magnet bakery...oh dear. Half-moon cookies...big cake-like confections with half chocolate/half vanilla frosting on top. And the eclairs...Camille has been asking for a while to try one, so I figured it would be nice to come home from the game with a little surprise...three huge the bad thing about all this is that no one really liked the eclairs except for Cam...and I heard myself say, "Let me have just a small try of that, Cam...." As if I wouldn't like it or something, who am I kidding? I DID like it, and dang if I didn't help Cam finish it there are two in the box in the refrigerator, and that child better eat both of them for breakfast, or I am going to have to smush them into the garbage can.:)

Anyway. After the game, as tired as I was, I promised Sonja, who had stayed home all day with the little girls, that I would take her somewhere. Evelyn and Suzanne showered and we went out the was almost seven o'clock on a frigid Saturday night, seven degrees(-13.88c), clear and cold.

We hadn't decided on what to do, these five girls and I. It was so cold out, and dark out...we decided our house is cozy and warm, so we ordered a pizza and some wings, went to town and got a movie, "Sully", the one about the pilot who landed the plane in the Hudson river in New York (It was pretty good, and the little girls were very intrigued, after we looked up actual pictures and accounts of it).

So we picked up our pizza and watched our movie, and had a nice cozy evening.

Then, because I had had a long busy day and Paul wasn't home, I read a book for too long into the night. I should know better, I mean, one would think that a Sunday morning would be a nice time to sleep in, but ha.

But life goes by in a blink, and these are good years. There will always be something, won't there?

Friday, March 3, 2017

all the cookies....

A triple batch of chocolate chip....

I told myself that I already know they're good, I don't need to try one and see. Because I know me. I know I want to eat all the cookies. Or at least four. And I do better on no sugar! So no tasting the cookie dough either. I can eat so much cookie dough! So it's better to just have none. I got used to this method of self denial way back when I started on this weight loss journey, and it worked for me. I can still treat the kids occasionally, still warm up the house, but not eat any.

Don't get me wrong, I am not going to never eat cookies, if that makes sense. I also plan to eat ice cream again soon, but not just any ice cream. I heard of this creamery that's semi-local, and I want to take a few of the kids, and my sister...

It's just that if I want to feel good, I can't eat the sugar on a regular basis, and when it's out of my system, I don't crave it as much, and I function better.

Anyway...this fine morning I am going with Mirielle to look at a house, and the refrigerator repairman is coming too. If he comes when I'm gone, he's going to have to talk to Joseph, who absolutely loves me for this, ha.

I am bringing Miss Charlotte Claire and Miss Camille too, because they LOVE houses, housing designs, decorating, ect.

So it's been a busy morning. I was exclaiming joyfully to anyone who would listen, how Sunny made it through THREE nights without peeing or pooping near the door. (she never does it during the day anymore, that's something:)). Sonja said I was jinxing myself, but I don't believe in jinxes. ha. I should've listened to her. This fine morning, Duke barked me out of bed at six, and there by the door was a little present from Sunny.

Of course I cleaned it up, swept the floors, then mopped, washed dishes and cleaned counters...washed my hair, got the kids up, had them shower and eat and dress neatly...

And now I am taking a break...guy is here...

Thursday, March 2, 2017

spring yesterday, winter today....

It was so nice and springy! I went for my walk, we went to the playground...

And today...well, I woke up and it was no longer 67 (19.4) was 20 (-6.6).

The wind picked up, the cold front came through, and brought snow, lots of it.

But yesterday...oh it was nice. We went to the park...sunshine on my face. I know, we were just in Florida, but's my favorite. We went to the library, where we met up with a few good friends, it's always nice to see friends when you go out and about. Then the thrift store, and:

We found an American Girl doll for Camille, the 2013 Doll of The Year, Saige, for $3.99. When I lifted her hair and saw that logo, it was rather fun. Charlotte Claire found Adidas pants, a sweatshirt, and a nice gym bag. The pants are too big for her, but believe me, she found an older sister who was interested.

We stopped into the grocery store because I had cut some coupons and the stuff was all on's the time to get razors for the girls, and shampoo, ect. And who did we see in that store but my brother Bob! And, it was his birthday, of course I totally forgot and my sister reminded me later, oops. we're back to winter. It stopped snowing, the sun is shining, but it's still in the twenties. The kids have almost finished school for now and are going to go out and play in it before they finish up for the day.

Mali is coming over today with little miss Lydia, yay! Lydia knows we babysit for her sometimes because her mama has to work, and I think she is smart enough to worry that her mama is going to leave while they visit here together, which makes her very clingy and we therefore get very few hugs and snuggles. When we do babysit for her, she cries when mama leaves, but then settles in and is fine. But I love the visits. She's learning to talk, and when she makes connections, it's a riot. She's only a year and a half, but she seems so smart.

My other granddaughter way far away in Seattle is doing well too. (She's going to be a big sister!!! Grandchild #3, this is getting serious! I really AM a Grandma!) I am hoping Paul and I can visit out there before long. Maybe we could just take a detour down the coast and visit California before heading home.

I am thinking of making cookies today...why would I torture myself, you might ask...I wonder the same thing, but when I think of the girls getting off the bus and being so happy...:)

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

never a dull moment...ever.

I know it's not only us, every family, ever person has struggles. And compared to the sufferings in third world countries, our refrigerator woes don't even register as a blip on the Problem Radar. But still, as the kids say, the struggle is real...the refrigerator isn't cooling...again.

But, I do have the receipt now:

There. Now I won't lose it, ha.

The appliance guy, Wayne, is coming over on Friday. Until then? All the food in the refrigerator? It will have to be transferred to the small 'fridge from our camper that still graces our kitchen.

See? In comparison, First World Probs.

And yeah, I had a very short and choppy night, thank you Dukester.

But, I am not complaining. This morning we are counting our blessings. I saw an article titled, "One In Eight People Have No Close Friends, Loneliness Epidemic", or something like that. So the girls and I decided to be thankful we have friends. And a house, that Daddy has a job, that we're going to the library. Cam's thankful for the blanket she's cuddled under. I am thankful for this cup of steaming pumpkin spice coffee, which I am sipping after sweeping and washing the couch covers and wiping down the counters. Charlotte Claire is thankful for homeschooling, and that she just found three pairs of scissors in the drawer.

It is interesting, you can decide all you want to be happy, or content, or thankful...but as soon as the wind blows in the wrong direction, oh dear. Sometimes we even think, "Why ME!!?", or the ever popular, "poor me...". But the reality is that it's just another trial, another test of our faith..."no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful: nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it." (Heb 12:11)

So we need the bumps in the road, the rough days, the headaches, the muddy paws and mountains of dirty that our faith can be tested.

It's a beautiful day here in central New York state. Later the cold front will come, the wind will bring rain and snow...but for now, it's beautiful. It's like a taste of spring. Camille is so nicely refilling my pumpkin spice coffee. We are getting ready for the library...