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, September 22, 2023


 ...some people hate to fly, hate to travel.  Some love it.  Guess what? I love AND hate it!  I love the adventure, seeing all the different people and different places.  Hate:  walking long distances in a hurry, crowds, rules...the whole TSA debacle, ugh.  This fine morning, Paul had checked us in to our flights, but PreCheck didn't show up on my boarding pass.  (PreCheck itself is a huge-0 scam:  you pay $85 for five years of walking through security without taking off your shoes, jackets, sweaters,  or removing the liquids from your bags.).   One text to Riley, he added my known traveler number, and voila, I was all set.  

It sounds whiny, but you know, I have had a few bad experiences going through security.  I am just a Pat-Down magnet.  One of those pat down sessions, which I have written about before, was out and out abusive, I was totally humiliated.  The screen lit up in a very private place, that seemed to give that woman free license to lift my dress up, right over my round tummy, and pat down my...private place.  I did have leggings on, but I am old, and I am chubby, I do not wear leggings as pants.  This woman lifted my dress right up, right in front of the whole world of tired travelers, there was an officer just standing there watching.  I burst into tears, and protested the whole time.  She simply threatened, "A private screening can be arranged."  Um, if you do this to me in public, what would you do in private?  Oh dear.  

So going through security is always nerve-wracking for me.  It's better with PreCheck, but still, all the hurry hurry hurry, take this off, leave that in a container, put this here, don't lose your phone...sometimes even in PreCheck, they demand my needs to be "swiped", apparently.  Wiped down, tested for...something?  I don't mean to be dramatic, lots of these people are perfectly nice, but I do believe that the very nature of the job attracts some questionable characters, or does the nature of the job with it's small taste of power turn very nice people into unsavory characters?  hmm.

It's not like you can stand there and stomp your feet and ask to speak to the manager.  You don't like it, you don't fly.

But once we clear security, we get to wait for our flight, then file onto the plane, and relax in the soft comfy seat.  Not really, we fly economy.  At least I can buckle the seatbelt these days.    Camille and I have some healthy snacks packed, and she's bringing herself one of these:

We had eight ripe bananas...some have mini chocolate chips, not the ones Camille will choose.
And, one loaf of banana bread...

Cousins:  Denzel Alexander and Maeve Louise

 Lydia Eleanor with baby brother Denzel,  cousin Grant Thomas with baby sister Maeve.

This has been a busy day, but not really.  It took me all the live-long day to pack.  I had to wash clothes, then hmm, I should do a load of towels.  I washed the crock pot from last night's chicken stew, and the brownie pan.  I touched up my roots, shh.  

Then Camille, bless her heart, painted my toe nails for me.  

Just realized I never finished this post...oops.  

here in the desert with dessert...


Ahh, the sun coming up...not too warm yet this fine morning.  I woke up at four, when the robot-vac started its morning rounds.  It was seven back home, so I decided to just stay up.  Decided.  ha.  As IF I could just go back to sleep, one of the perks of getting older, you don't sleep like a teenager anymore.  I did sleep well, and that's something I do not take for granted.
The pups were up with the birds anyway.  
Banjo catching the ball.
Last evening, we had dessert in the desert.  We shared them all.  I want to say it made me feel ill and I'll never eat cookies again, but I felt fantastic and they were delicious.  The three brown sugar Pop-Tart cookies:  yup.  The Oreo, meh, the chocolate chip, good, the monster cookie, excellent.  

This is Lilly.  She's getting old in the chin, but still acts like a puppy.  
Pretzel keeps an eye on things.
Banjo is trouble, so adorable, so energetic.  Look at that face.

Paul with his three friends.  

Our trip out here was uneventful, yet so eventful.  I got my preCheck straightened out, so glad I did, the line for the regular security was so long.  I'm not at the I need a wheelchair stage, but my knees sing me a sad song when I'm on my feet for too long, they lock up and ache.  

We had a tight connection in NY city, so when our captain informed us of issues needing attention before we took off on our first flight, I just had to let it go and relax, not let it get to me.  We ended up landing ten minutes before our next flight boarded, so we scurried through that airport...and phew, made it just in time.  JetBlue, and I'm not getting paid to say this, is a fine airline:  free snacks and drinks, they came through the cabin twice with the drinks, and their coffee is Dunkin, not too bad, with real milk based cream.  They have a snack cabinet, fully stocked, free for the taking.  The seats are roomy, and they have movie screens on each seat back.  I watched The Green Book, and really enjoyed it.  I tried to watch an episode of Chip and Johanna flipping a house, but so many commercials, and so much shiplap.  So I watched Elf, which is adorable and funny.  I had never watched the beginning before, I must have always been in the kitchen making popcorn ha.

Riley picked us up and had cold brews for us, the cinnamon one I like and a chai tea for Camille.  :). Then, homemade ramen noodles with all the fixings for dinner...oh it was good.

We are certainly enjoying our visit.  They are leaving for Austria and Scotland tomorrow, we will be house sitting and doggy sitting.  The forecast is pleasant and gorgeous, sunny and in the nineties or low hundreds, so we're looking forward to many afternoons in the pool.   

I already miss my kids at home, and the grandkids too, but I plan to keep in touch with them while we're here.  If I see any poisonous toads or snakes, I'll make sure to video them for the kids to see, especially Wulf and Achilles.  But of course I hope that doesn't happen.  (You have to check the yard for them before you let the dogs out in the morning!)

Have a really good day!

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

we Monday-ed around...

 The day started with a coffee, after a quick kitchen cleanup.  Then, the pool...home, ahh...but not for long!  Miss Charlotte Claire had forgotten her lunch.  Now, in days long past, if one forgot one's lunch, one ate a school lunch and we paid it back.  Or one shared with a friend or sibling.  Mom didn't pack all those younger children into the 15 passenger van at the drop of a hat.  (Once when a child at school was throwing up and had to be picked up RIGHT NOW, I had to get all those younger children buckled in to that big van, and lo and behold, they were playing house, and two of the little boys had sundresses on, because they were being their sisters...I HAD to change them first...)

Anyway.  I had been pondering a trip to Kohl's because I wanted to try on a bra. There was one for sale for $19.99, with 30%off, but I didn't want to order it without trying it on.  So when I saw the text at 11:15 that Char forgot her lunch, lunch is at 11:30, so out the door I went...may as well drive to Kohl's too, with Miss Camille.  (I found two, and splurged!)

Then to Target quick, where I found a pair of shorts in my size for $5.40, and a nice new top for $6.  Cam found some nice jean shorts.  We are leaving for Arizona on Thursday morning, so summery clothes:  nice.  I think it's like 99 degrees there.  We also bought some snacks for the plane (shelled pistachio nuts, low carb bars, trail mix for Cam).  

Then home....ahh, home.  Not for long though.  I had promised Miss Charlotte Claire that we would go to The Parade of Homes, and Monday was the only free night.  So right back out the door we went.  Char and Cam have always had an affinity for housing design and decorating, and have loved going in and checking out the new builds.  

Seven hundred thousand dollars for a house in a housing development?  phew.  But they sure are nice!  Our house is such a big rectangle of practicality, seeing the high ceilings (high heat bills! challenging to paint, or dust, or change the light bulbs!), and the huge walk in closets (that could be another bedroom!), the houses seem almost too ostentatious to me.  I'm also not sure I'm a fan of such open concepts.  The huge kitchen island being right in the living room?  And, all the built-ins:  what if you want to change things, they seem so permanent.  One house had floating stairs, just polished wood beams with no backs, um, I would slip and break my leg.  And since the ceilings are so high, the staircases are so high...we went up and down so many stairs yesterday!  There were features I envied, our lives would have been almost perfect if we had had one of those huge mud rooms with a dog bath!  Imagine not having all your coats and boots and winter gloves right in the entry of your kitchen/dining room!  

Ah well.  We know going to those things makes us hate and despise our horrid awful house.  :)

Dinner...ha, we had planned to put chicken in the crockpot in between outings, but Paul had put beef in there...beef tongue.    ugh.  I didn't even so much as approach that crock pot, much less taste it.  I was a nice mom, and brought the girls through the McDonald's drive through.  I had had some pizza which I shouldn't have had, but the houses had chefs in the kitchens making gourmet food...we didn't sample any at all until we got to the last house, and it was this fantastic pizza, with sausage and veggies...Camille didn't want hers, so yeah, I had two slices...they WERE very small, but sill.  I was not hungry for dinner.  We brought chicken nuggets home for the boys here, and Sonja went out to dinner for her friend's birthday.

Anyway.  This fine morning I might be going to the store quick with Kathryn and her little ones, then Grace is coming over with the kids.  I need to get up and vacuum, and start to think about packing.  I did make a list, but have to figure out what clothes I'm bringing.  I did buy a sun hat yesterday, as Aaron said he got a farmer's tan just being outside for five minutes the other day.  :). 

Well, have a really nice day!

Sunday, September 17, 2023

beach vacation in the finger lakes....


Not too far from here, right on the other side of the tracks...
Evelyn and Camille, and the curried chicken out on the deck...

That sunset on Cayuga Lake!
Miss Charlotte Claire

Char and Evelyn
Miss Cam
Emily in the kayak...look at that clear water!

Mariel was there too.  

We got there on Friday with plenty of time to enjoy the warm sunshine.  Saturday did NOT disappoint:  cool and crisp for morning coffee on the deck, then warm sunshine for the rest of the day.  We went out swimming, and sat in the sun.  Then charcuterie on the deck.  An afternoon swim, we like Lake Hair:)

We headed home this morning after coffee and cleaning up the cabin...but not home, to church.  Then, home...Sam, Grace, Grant, Ruth, and baby Maeve came over.  Evelyn came for a bit, and Margaret, Adrian, Wulf, Tennyson, and baby Blythe came.  Paul and I, and Sonja, Char, Cam, Jon, and his friend Woutar too.  I grilled coneys, and roasted some potatoes.  We had some other leftovers too.  

Everyone is gone now, and it's quiet...

Our weekend was amazing, so relaxing and not very quiet, ha, as we never run out of things to talk about. Maybe tomorrow after the pool I can write a proper blog post.  There are still six of us here in the living room, and I cannot concentrate...:)

Friday, September 15, 2023


 Ahh, a weekend at the lake!  Does the reality every match up with the expectations?  When Emily surprised me with this plan, back in July, we hoped it would be one of those crazy hot September weekends, so that no matter how cold Cayuga Lake is, we'd be in it.  

We cannot sneeze at this forecast.  It could be worse.  It could be raining.  "Filtered sun, breezy".  Harrumph.  Full sun, please, as I bask on that private beach.  Somebody slap me.

This sweetheart visited yesterday with her mama and two big brothers...

Blythe Margaret...

Dinner was homemade meatballs. I had to go to the pricey little grocery store in town for sauce.  I usually have a stock of it, but oops.  I also was out of oats, as no one here really eats oatmeal anymore, and I like old-fashioned whole oats in the meatballs, with lots of minced onion.  

This is the blog post that won't get done, ha, this fine morning I went to the pool...then to pick up some freshly roasted coffee from the place down near the prison.  The owner actually runs a very busy and successful graphics/printing place, and roasts coffee on the side as a hobby.  He sent out an email that it was on sale, because he enjoys roasting it and wants to get it into the hands of those who appreciate good coffee.  $12.50 for a pound of fresh whole bean coffee, how can you beat that?  

Wegmans was next, for chicken breast, pepperoni, and seltzers.  I also got some of my favorite 40 calorie frozen fudge bars, no sugar added and so yummy.  Then, Aldi for raspberries, grapes, little oranges, cinnamon swirl bread, butter, brie, goat cheese, fresh salsa, peppers, and some other goodies.  

Home...ah, home.  I cooked up the three pounds of bacon I bought from the Mennonite store the other day, and have the chicken breast trimmed up and marinating in Cornell sauce...which ha, we are going to be in that neck of the woods, near Ithaca on Cayuga Lake.  I'll grill that chicken before we leave, and slice up a bunch of peppers, simple wraps are so good for dinner.

For now, though, a break for my achey feet.  

Maybe I'll take some pictures, maybe my five daughters won't love that, ha, if they're all settled into comfy relaxing clothes.  Emily, Mariel, Evelyn, Charlotte Claire, and Camille...won't it be fun?

Thursday, September 14, 2023

a new day...


Oh yes we did!  It was too much fun, with my sister. The footrests didn't work on our chairs, so we relocated to the front row, where one guy was sitting in the aisle seat.  There are only 5 chairs in a row, so we skipped one seat and lo and behold, my footrest only went half way up, and got stuck.  I managed to finagle myself out of the chair to fix it, but couldn't.  Cheryl was pressing everywhere for the button for her footrest, and it was broken off.  This wasn't happening quietly, of course, there was some hysterical laughter.  (The movie hadn't started yet, just those endless ads).  The guy sitting there asked if we wanted him to move, but oh no, of course not.  We decided to move our rear ends back to where we started out, and as I picked up the loud crinkly plastic water bottle I had brought in in my purse, I promised the man that we would behave when the movie started.
Cheryl and I...we went to dinner before the movie.
Cheryl, I am sorry/not sorry for posting this.  It was too much fun.

Anya came over for a visit, and thought she'd make a comfy seat by stacking up a bunch of pillows.  She baked with Camille.

These smelled absolutely HEAVENLY, a cinnamon coffee cake cookie with streusel topping.  
I also made a batch of lemon cupcakes, with lemon buttercream frosting for Anne, we celebrated her birthday at activity club last night.

Yesterday, water aerobics, then home...the group was going to their monthly out-to-brekky, and once again, I opted not to go.  They are such a nice group of people, but Kathryn was coming over with Achilles, Rhys, and Jamie, and Sonja had the day off from the hospital, and we were picking Miss Char up early from school because she said, "Please don't go anywhere without me..."

So Kathryn and the kids came for a bit, had some snacks and played, got out some toys, then we went to Target, and to Old Navy.  Old Navy is a strange store.  There are a few good deals, but most of their stuff is over-priced.  Their baby clothes are meh.  Target has a much better selection, and much better prices.  

Jamie, first time in the cart...didn't last too long, mama had to carry him...he's so cute.
Rhys, her reaction when I asked her why the mannequin didn't have any eyes or nose...

Home....ah, home.  The I had a package of chicken breast to use, and was pondering different meals, when I thought, "I'll make Chinese food...", right as Camille said, "Mama, can you make Chinese?"  Now, the meal I made is not authentic Chinese food, but it's was good.  I chopped the chicken into bite-sized pieces, tossed it into a flour and corn starch mixture with pepper, then browned it all up in three batches in the wok, in canola, olive, and sesame oil.  The veggies were a bag of teriyaki stir fry mix from Aldi, plus a bag of broccoli florets.  Camille made a pan of rice, and some cauliflower rice, which I browned in sesame oil.  The sauce for the chicken was:  half a stick of butter, lots of freshly ground ginger, some orange marmalade, half a bottle of teriyaki sauce that was in the refrigerator, all hot and bubbly and poured on the hot chicken, it was really good.  

Anyway.  Life is going by quickly.  The days blur together, and I haven't gotten bored yet.  This weekend is my weekend away in the Fingerlakes.  Emily rented an Airbnb on Cayuga Lake, with a nice little private beach, and a dock, a fire pit, a deck looking over the water...with Mariel, Evelyn, Charlotte Claire, and Camille, just a little getaway.  (Em told me about it on my birthday, said it was going to be my present).   We are meal planning, and thinking chicken fajitas on Friday night, bacon eggs and cinnamon toast for Saturday morning, charcuterie for lunch, and Emily's homemade curry dish for dinner.  I'll bring popcorn and coconut oil to make it in.  

There are things in life that aren't our stories to tell, and there are things that are extremely difficult to deal with.  I was discussing with one of my daughters how I want to come into rest about something, she said," Just make a decision to be at rest about it, then every time a temptation comes up that's from anxiety, or worry, say NO, ask God to help you be at rest..."  So basically, it's a battle to take up.  There is peace when we put our trust in God, but sometimes we have to fight for that peace.  And it seems hypocritical to me to comfort someone that their trials and tribulations are from God, yet be a wreck about the whole thing.  So I have to do my share, then I can be a help.  Does that make sense?  

I'll be honest, I have not been sleeping well.  Usually after few hollow nights, those pesky go-right-to-sleep-only-to-wake-up-at-two-and-stay-awake-til-the-sun-comes-up nights, I'll have a good night's sleep.  Well, I am really due for one.  Last night, Sunny woke me up whining at midnight, then the power went out at 1:30, turning off the fan, then adding insult to injury, the smoke alarms all do a little beep, all of them throughout the whole huge house.  The fan turning off wasn't enough, ha, how about this?  BEEP.  BEEP.  BEEP.  ugh.   Sunny decided she needed to go out again, and let me tell you, out here in the country, when it's dark, it's PITCH black.  I had to get my phone for the flashlight.    Then, I was WIDE awake.  One of my pool friends said she just turns on the lights and does Sudoko when she can't sleep.  Ha, I said, my husband would LOVE that.  The thing about insomnia is that it turns physical.  You are awake so long, you feel the hips ache, then the arm falls asleep right as you think you might possibly be falling asleep, so you roll over...then sleep doesn't come, but you have figured out what to do with all the ground beef in the refrigerator, and have made a firm decision that you WILL clean out the produce drawer tomorrow, for sure.  

Anyway...there are things to do and places to go, and things to pray about, and things to be thankful for...have a really good day.

Monday, September 11, 2023


 I'm not going to try to summarize the last few days, all though I did try to summer-ize them ha.  The pool days are over, and I'm starting to grow up and realize that here in the northeast, it's not like half the year's winter, half is summer.  The colder months win by a mile.

The good things I've made lately:

Saturday was a quiet day here, I puttered around, and decided to make chicken pot pies for dinner.  But you cannot make those without adding a low calorie pumpkin!  Guess what?  No pumpkin! But wait, there's a big bag of apples!  

Yesterday was Ribs-in-the-Smoker Day.  I don't know why, but I just get a real kick out of making them.  Such little effort for such amazingly delicious bounty.  I didn't get a picture, but I made four full racks of ribs.  They were really really good.  We also had cornbread (made from a mix, but the kids discovered that you can put butter and honey on it, pop it in the microwave, and mmm.). I cut up carrots and celery, and made oven roasted red potatoes with fresh rosemary and parmesan cheese.  (they were REALLY good too)

Dessert:  brownies made in the copper As-Seen-On-TV pan that cuts them magically, my sister gave it to me a few years ago (I'm pretty sure she got it on sale, ha.)    I give it a nine out of ten.  The brownies were cut perfectly, they cooked nicely, the kids said they were good.  

Friday was spent doing errands with Abigail.  We got some lunch (Wendy's, the apple pecan salad with extra packets of spicy pecans, and grilled chicken).  We laughed our heads off and talked and caught up.  We went to Ollie's for some Activity Club things, and then to Aldi for some groceries...normal things, but so much nicer with Abigail.

This fine morning, I'm headed to water aerobics, then to pick up Anya, my oldest grandchild.  She is going to be baking something yummy with Camille today.  When I bring her home, I'll pick up my sister, we're going adventuring for her birthday.    

What is nicer than a dark gloomy morning?  Jonathan and his friend just left for work, Paul is at the gym, Sonja is at work, Charlotte Claire got on the school bus, and Miss Cam is still asleep.  The dogs have been fed and are sleepy.   There are things to do and places to go, but for right now, this is just perfect.  

Sonja's job is going well, but it would be easy to be torn apart by what she sees and deals with.  Children with burns, and children who aren't wanted, babies suffering, some who have been abused, some with curable ailments and surgeries, some with chronic conditions.  She's learning to cope with it all, to do her best.  I may be biased as her mother, but Sonja is truly a ray of sunshine.  She laughs and the joy is just contagious.  She makes life fun.   She's very smart and competent.  (of course she abides by HIPA, and does not tell us any specifics about any patients).   She starts working nights soon...

Miss Charlotte Claire is having a good start to school.  She gets out her stacks of textbooks and does her homework faithfully.  She likes learning.  Miss Camille is also doing well, she has all of Char's school stuff from last year.  :)

I haven't done any fall decorating yet.  I always think I'll keep it to the bare minimum, but ha, I tend to over do it.  Maybe not, this year.  I'm excited for the onset of the holiday season, but not for driving in the snow.  

AND:  lest we is the 22 year anniversary of a dark and scary day.  I remember Margaret, four years old, tugging my skirt, asking over and over again, "Didn't the bad guys care about the babies?  What about the babies and the kids?"  My father had called me, said, "Turn on the t.v., we're being attacked."  We had never had a tv, just gotten it a few years before that...I turned it on, and we were glued to it.  We had no idea what was going on, shock.  The only good thing that came of all that suffering and anguish was a deep unifying love for our country.  War:  fueled by greed, profit.  So much corruption in this world.  

Ah well...I'll finish my gloomy morning coffee, then get ready for swim class....Paul's home from the gym bye, and have a really good day.   I'll leave you with a picture of my three youngest:

Camille Anaya, almost 16, Charlotte Claire 17, Sonja Kathleen 21 (Jonathan is 19 now...).