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, July 20, 2018

just imagine... living room on a February afternoon, the wind swirling the snow around the house, the little heater working furiously, it's very hum warm and comforting. Mirielle here, talking about spring, about summer, how it flies by. Mirielle who had/has a thing for Airbnb, looking, planning, dreaming...she found a cabin in the woods, a small new cabin, built by a woman with her own hands on her own land, a woman moving from the Big Apple to the woods, to support herself after years in the rat race. Okay, I did flourish that a bit, but the bare bones of it are facts. The land was in her family for generations, she recently purchased more land, and decided to build cabins, apart from each other and rustic but with all the amenities.

I happened to have some cash, just got paid for babysitting, so I told her that of course I would pitch in for a weekend in July. "A Weekend In July". The very phrase is delicious in February!!!

The cabin is small, is for four people. Char and Cam were dancing around at the thought of it, so we decided, just them, Mirielle, and me. (Now if you ever had 16 kids, or even THREE kids, and were bringing just two, you would know what I mean when I write this phrase: Mommy Guilt.) We looked at as saving a weekend, putting it in the bank, a weekend that was already taken, come what may. Because, as Mare said, you think you're going to do all these things, and summer passes...
So we paid for that cabin, and this weekend became ours.

About the Guilt thing: it ain't happening. Jonathan has plans, he's going to a huge car show with his friends, and the other kids are actually way too happy they have the house to themselves! (Joseph is here, so they're not really alone.) I was talking, at one point, of letting one of them go instead of me, but no, they said, really, they said, just go! We love when you're gone! ouch. But they're teenagers, I know what they mean.

Paul just happens to be in Singapore, too. His schedule is unpredictable...if he were home, I may have switched things up, but he's not.

Anyway, this afternoon Evelyn is going to drive Char, Cam, and me to the hospital, where Mirielle works, and drop us off. Mare will get her car from the garage, and pick us up, and off we'll go. Our bags are already packed in there, we will just be waiting on the sidewalk outside of the hospital with a cooler and some grocery bags, ha.

This fine morning, I woke at 6:04, all happy we are going bye bye. Evelyn and I are heading to the grocery store, and to Kohl's...she bought jeans the other day and they left the taggy thing on it, and I happen to have $30 in Kohl's cash. So poor us, ha.

Benjamin and Ashley are moving tomorrow, and I do feel bad I won't be here for that. But when we reserved this cabin, we had no idea they would be buying a house, no idea they would close on it, and have this moving date.

Ah well, time to renew my library books (the things you can do online!), and get moving...

But first imagine this...relaxing...ah, I can't wait.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

laziness sounds good!

Summer mornings, ahhh....our weather here in the northeast, in New York state, has been stellar.

Yesterday we packed up the cooler and headed to Benjamin's house to paint cabinets, and kitchen trim. Kathryn and Suzanne painted the front porch, Evelyn and Jonathan started painting the cabinet bases and window trim in the kitchen, and Irene, Sonja, and I painted cabinet doors...two coats of primer, then a coat of paint...first backs of primer, then fronts, then second coats, then paint today...they still need one more coat...

Yesterday, I brought over burger and hot dogs, and grilled dinner when we were done painting for the night. Grandma had bought some fresh local sweet corn, and oh that was good with the burgers and watermelon, and salad. The kids all had ice creams too.

Their new house is so big and airy! They haven't moved all their stuff in yet, and are in the middle of remodeling some things, and have to move out of the apartment, so it's a bit crazy, especially with two kids.

Anya loves having company...especially little cousin Lydia.

Jonathan is growing up so fast! He had already painted Paul's mom's deck yesterday morning, then joined us painting at Ben and Ashley's.

This fine morning, we went over there first thing and got some painting done. Then the girls went out on an adventure, and left me here with little Lydia and Charlotte Claire, Camille, and Evelyn, and Jonathan. And Joseph. But ha, it seemed like very few people.

Evelyn is grilling Cornell chicken, there are baked potatoes in the oven, and we will make a veggie.

Lydia is still here, she has spent two nights, but her mama came over to Ben's house yesterday afternoon for a few hours to visit her. She works nights at the hospital, and it's nice that Lyd goes to sleep so well here for us. Having her here is just joy.

Somehow I manage to keep busy here, even though I don't "work".

Today, I did three loads of laundry, and packed for the cabin...tomorrow, cabin here we come!

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

please, summer, please slow down...

The days are your life. The driving and the waiting and the cleaning up, this is life. It's not something that's going to happen Some Day, it's now. You can choose to gripe your life away, piddle away the time wishing you were doing something different, but this is life.

I, for one, have been tempted to fall victim to the Grass Is Always Greener on the Other Side of the Fence syndrome. If I'm preparing food, I wish I was outside with the guests, if I'm in the store, I wish I was home on the deck. If I'm home for more than a day, I wish I was out doing something fun. If I'm cleaning the house, I wish it was already clean and I was in bed with a book.

Anyway. There is something to be said for being content where you are, and with what you are occupied with.

Yesterday, six of my daughters accompanied me out and about. We needed to renew Evelyn's passport, but someone forgot their checkbook. Thankfully I realized it before we all trooped into the county courthouse building, but I had already wasted fifty cents in the parking meter, blah.

We went to Kohl's, where I had some good coupons. The girls found jeans, I found a Christmas gift for baby Grant, my son Sam's little guy, a few things for little Anya who is starting kindergarten this year, and a cute outfit for baby Wulf.

Then, take-out Chinese food and home to watch the Simpsons. What!? It was a rainy day! And apparently I "owed" a few of the kids Chinese food...I promised Sonja K. for her birthday, and that was on May 3rd, and I promised Suze after her SAT test, and that was a few months back too.

The weather cleared up, we got to swim...then Emily came over, and Margaret and Adrian and baby Wulf, and Ashley with baby Elise and little Anya. Lydia came over, and we had a nice cook-out, a fire on the deck, and marshmallows, and I didn't have one. :(

Here's something nice though: Lydia spent the night, for the first time, and she did fantastic! She went to bed so nicely at 9:30-ish, and slept until after nine this morning! She's so sweet and chatty and just happy, it's nice to have a little one in the house. She slept in a pack and play in Suzanne's room.

This morning, Jonathan went to Grandma's to paint her back deck, and I am taking Evelyn to get her passport renewed, and then there is a painting party at Ben's new house.

We don't get bored, that's for sure.

As for me, today I'm going to use each opportunity to be thankful, and to hear what God has to say to me.

And, I'll try to remember to take some pictures, too.

Monday, July 16, 2018

still alive and kicking!!!

The party...oh my it went by fast! Did I take a single picture? oops.

The first guest was Kim, my sister-in-law, little cousin Danielle's mama. She helped me get the chicken sliced up and into a crock-pot. The pulled pork was done, Sonja had cooked up the taco beef and that was in a crock pot...the veggies were all cut up and in bags in the refrigerator. The coolers were full of ice and drinks, and Evelyn had made pitchers of mint lemonade, raspberry lemonade, ect. I made a pot of coffee, and people started arriving...

The rest is rather a blur. We kept refilling the peppers, olives, tomatoes, and cheese, and getting out more sour cream. The girls helped keep things cleaned up, lots of empty cans and bottles. (No alcohol, just seltzers, waters, and soda.) SO many of our friends came over. I enjoyed myself, talked to so many people. The kids ran around and played, trampoline and swings and they got out lots of toys.

The cake: I googled "Graduation cake", and made the first one that came up. I doubled the recipe, used 20 egg whites, and like seven cups of sugar, and made it in two half-sheet pans. It was delectable. I layered them, cut the edges off because the little girls saw it on a cooking show, and frosted it with buttercream icing. I ran out before I wrote anything on it, so when I drove Paul to the airport, I got more shortening so I could make another batch. Getting home just two hours before people would arrive, and making more But the cake tasted so good. We served it with berries and whipped cream. I only tasted one bit when I was cutting it and plating it, it was so good I ate another bit before really thinking about it, but then was done. It was hard not to just have a huge piece, but oh dear me, I have to be careful.

Then...they started leaving, and by a bit after ten o'clock, it was just us again, and wow, that was a good party.

Yesterday was our wine festival...and let's just say it was too much fun.

Today it's warm and sunny and I am done writing for the day...

Friday, July 13, 2018

it hasn't killed me yet...

I know, we're just having a graduation party, no biggie. And it's really not, except for that it IS. There's the regular cleaning up, which you would think, duh, just clean. That's fine and dandy, but we still LIVE here. There's a coffee cup next to the stack of wii games and dvds on the top of the tv cube thing. There is newspaper on the couch, which Suri is sleeping on. The floors were swept and vacuumed yesterday, but that was YESTERDAY! We have two Labs! The couch covers are in the washing machine, the pork is in the crock pot for pulled pork, the pool is backwashed, chlorinated, and turned on. And the coffee is perking.
This is me, right now, alive.

Today, I need to grill the chicken which I bought yesterday and put into three gallon sized baggies with marinade. The burger needs to be cooked up and seasoned for the nacho bar, and I'm not talking just a package of it, there are five big packages of it. Maybe 25, 30 pounds. My plan is to cook it all up, put some in a crockpot, and the rest in bags in the refrigerator. If we don't need it, I can freeze it. If we do, it'll warm up fast on high in crock pot. I hope. We also plan to cut up all the peppers and tomatoes, ect., and bag those up until it's time to set out the food. I'm thinking to put ice in plastic bins and set the bowls in those, it's hot today and getting hotter.

Mirielle brought over their cooler and lots of drinks last night.

And yesterday, I bought 70 water bottles and some soda, Kool-aid thingys for the kids, in the plastic bottles, good for the environment.

Camille and I set out bright and early yesterday, after I was done dawdling around here. We had lots of groceries to get, but decided to sneak to Target first. She got a few easy workbooks to do during the summertime, new sandals, and a dollhouse furniture desk set. Hey, she was the one who was ready and willing to go with Mom early in the morning. To be fair, all of the older girls went to the drive-in movies the night before, except for Evelyn, who was cleaning Em, Ab, and Mirielle's house.

Anyway, Cam and I moseyed on over to the outdoor section, and yeah, there were clearances...70% off the patio furniture and gas grills...oh, how we debated, and ended up with a bench and a new pillow.

It was $29. We liked it better than the sets, and it was originally $99, but still, it's not a "need". Cam and I did have an adventure getting it to the register. The good thing is that it SAVED me money, because who can browse up and down the rest of Target with that thing on the cart?

Evelyn's lily...

This rocking chair is from Aldi, and I love it, but I also hate tripping over the rockers, which I have done more than you would imagine. The table is Little Tikes and was a screaming yellow for years, but I couldn't even scrub it decently, so I decided to spray paint it.

This one was white on top with pink legs, and also stained quite a bit on top. I made the mistake of not letting the spray paint dry enough before I put things on top, and the paint peeled, so I had to put this placemat on it:( Live and learn, I guess.

Anyway, it's quiet in here for now, but the girls will be getting up, and Jon and his friend Toby, and Joseph...and the day will get crazy. I have to bring Paul to the airport, as he is leaving for Singapore again, today. Samuel is going to be here this evening, I can't wait to see him! He is all grown up and responsible, and I am not done worrying about him...he worked last evening, then left at 11 p.m., from Virginia, drove through the night straight to drill (Army Reserves in Syracuse (NY)), will do whatever soldiers do in drill on a hot summer day, then will get here when the party is starting. Tomorrow, drill all day, Sunday, drill all day, then Sunday night drive through the night to get back to Virginia, and work all night Monday night.

Anyway...this is the only quiet time I'll be getting for a while. Tomorrow morning, shh, I am going to the Finger Lakes Wine Festival, with my friend Karen, and Emily, Mirielle, and Miss Evelyn, our designated driver. We bought the tickets for this in the cold of the winter, and have been looking SO forward to it. Charlotte Claire and Camille are going camping with their activity club, leaving at 8 a.m., cousin Dani will be spending the night tonight and going too. So I have to make sure they have sleeping bags and warm socks, bathing suits and jackets...

Also in the cold of winter, Mirielle and I split the cost of a small cabin in the Adirondacks for next weekend, found it on Airbnb, and it's like the concept of money in the bank: but it's a weekend in the bank, you know, reserved. If anything else comes up, nope, we've got a cabin. I was contemplating giving up my spot so Mirielle could take her friend instead of me, because it's just her and I and the two little girls going...but my teenagers told me to please go and leave them here, they have too much fun without me. hmmm

Ah well, Sunny is whining to go outside, and I do have just a few things to do....

Thursday, July 12, 2018

what have I done??!!!

That's the stage I am in in this, "Let's Have A Huge Graduation Party!" saga. It goes like this:

1. Let's have a party!
2. Let's invite everyone, heck, everyone!
3. Days go by, it's looming, but it's nothing to worry about, plenty of time.
4. Uh-oh, better start cleaning up around here, a little. Still plenty of time.
5. Oh NO! The party's tomorrow! I still have to buy the food, pre-cook some of it, the lawn needs mowing and the downstairs bathroom, oh no! And dessert? I've thought about it, but that's about it! There's no dessert! I can bake this afternoon after I shop at three stores, right? While I'm cooking? The playhouses in the yard need to be hosed out, and the kitchen table where all the fab food will be set out is still stacked with various backpacks, a towel, someone's school books, (I know, it's July).

I did vacuum yesterday, and we HAVE cleaned, but this place is like a nice little stream, it never stops moving and changing shape. The dogs keep shedding, and the teenagers keep making iced coffee, and leaving the glasses around to decorate. I can't say anything, the stick from the 60 calorie fudgie I had last night is sitting in the empty wine glass...yeah, I had a glass of Finger Lakes wine from the Goose Watch Winery...oh yummers. So that's sitting on the window sill near my chair, next to my water bottle, but I'm the mom! I'm the one who'll be taking care of it anyway, so no biggie, right?

Anyway. Here I sit, adding to the general spirit of procrastination, before that the whole situation leans toward panic and chaos.

Don't get me wrong. I am not regretting that we're hosting this party. This will come though, I am teetering on the edge of that thought as I type. I will regret it. I will kick myself black and blue. I will wonder what the "H" I was thinking, heck, of course. Then things will fall into place, people will come, we'll have an amazing time, the food will turn out all right, I'll have forgotten a thing or two, and oops maybe we won't have gotten to that downstairs bathroom, but it'll be such a good party, I'll be thankful we had it.

After parties are over, and the guests have gone home, I have never regretted having the gathering. It's just part of the process, for a procrastinator like me...

Camille is going to accompany me to the grocery stores this morning to get all that we need for our Taco Bar for the grad party. We are having pulled pork, grilled chicken for fajitas, taco beef for taco salad, and some hot dogs for the kids who are still scared of Mexican food. And of course there are the tomatoes and lettuce cilantro and rice and olives and cheese sauce...

We are down a van, again, this time the red one needed inspection. It ran out in June, and the excitement of going out and about and wondering if a cop would notice, was just getting out of hand. The first thing Ed-the-mechanic said when I drove that van into the little auto place in town was, "Missy, that thing is getting loud!". Yeah, needs a muffler. Then he noticed it needed new rear brakes, could tell magically just by looking at the rear tire. What a coincidence, I told him, the Brake Light had just turned on that very day! He said he would have to keep it overnight, which means, $$$. I waver between being super thankful we have vehicles, to wishing we could just win the lottery already and get good vans which stay good.

Anyway. Time to wake Camille up and get going....the other girls have things to do today, a few are hanging out with the girls visiting from Germany, Evelyn is cleaning Mirielle, Emily, and Abigail's house in payment for the money they gave to the kids' spring time trip to Norway, and blah, this isn't a good day for that as we have a bit to do here, but we still have tomorrow, right?

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

the most wonderful day ever....

This was taken at Purity Ice Cream in Ithaca...local milk and cream, made in small batches...yummers. Sonja K in the front left, Irene behind her, Grace behind her, Suzanne in the back middle, Charlotte Claire in the front of Suze, then Emily and I. Kathryn Grace in the middle with the cap on, Camille next to her, then little Amanda, with Miss Evelyn Joy in the front, in glasses, taking the pic. (The van with Mel and the girls from Germany didn't go to the ice cream place after the park)

The park was lovely. For such a hot day, 89 degrees (31.66c), it was very comfortable there. The girls headed for the hiking trail, I headed for the water/picnic area. I slung my backpack over my shoulder, lugged the small cooler full of sugar free sparkling water and a zero calorie Kool-Aid cooler, a bag of pop-corn, and the picnic blanket, and said goodbye. The girls felt bad, Suze in particular wanted to stay with me, but I assured them I was fine all by my lonesome. I could probably have done the hike, but I didn't want them to have to worry about me, I didn't want to slow them down.

Shh, it was nice to be by myself for a bit. I had no book, and wasn't going to sit there on a beautiful day on my phone, because ha, there wasn't much of a signal, and things took forever and a day to load, so I put it away and just people-watched. I sat on that picnic blanket in the shad, eating popcorn and sipping water, and worried how in the heck I was going to get back up, being in my bathing dress, and all. Then I saw a chubby lady in a small-ish bikini kneeling and leaning over her snack bag on a blanket nearby, and oh my dear Lordy-Lord, there wasn't anything left to the imagination, the whole world saw what shouldn't be flashed. Usually when my kids are there, I ask them to create a small disturbance so as to deflect attention from me as I struggle to get up. (Benjamin, the big stinker, did the opposite recently, he yelled, "Help, she can't get up, and everyone looked at me as I was struggling to get into a good position from my spot in the grass...and of course that made me laugh, which made my muscles collapse...)

Anyway, I enjoyed the quiet time, and people never fail to amuse me. I saw a guy trip over a small shoe, probably his grandkid's, and almost fall over...he scanned the area to see if anyone saw, so I turned away so he wouldn't be embarrassed. One lady went in the water and her shorts were all full of air, and a huge air bubble emerged, she announced to no one in particular that she did NOT fart. As I sat near the water, the two ladies right next to me were discussing one's divorce, and how she wasted sixteen years of her life, and too bad, he was NOT getting the house. I watched people dive off the diving board, and kids splash each other. I swam, I sunned, and swam again.

Then a few hours later, the girls came back from their hike...we had a nice picnic lunch, then some of them tried out the diving board...this is my Camille can this be?

I rode there with Emily. She is a brand-new, board certified, NYS qualified, Nurse Practitioner. And she just started in family practice, saw eleven patients her first day. She works four long days a week, and has Tuesdays off, yay! It was so nice to spend time with her! We had Char and Cam and their friend Amanda with us, and we stopped at the grocery store on the way home. I let the girls pick out some bulk candy:)

At home, Abigail stopped by with flowers for my birthday! I made her a quick dinner, as she had just gotten home from work, and birthday or no birthday, the kids were all going to cleaning at church, followed by Chinese food and volleyball with the German girls who are visiting. So the house cleared out except for Paul and I and Camille and Amanda, who are still under youth age. Paul cooked up some taco meat and we had a simple dinner of taco salad. I went in the pool all by myself as the girls were busy playing in their room, and Paul was packing for his trip to Singapore on Friday.

I know I am old, and I know life goes on, but it was a rather lonely evening, and I had to put the brakes on the self-pity, after all, I had one of the most wonderful days ever, and I just didn't want the fun to end, ha.

Our weather is amazing, sunny and warm again today. I have things to do and places to go...there are well over a hundred people invited on Friday to the graduation party, and ha, I have yet to start getting things for it. One cannot do EVERYTHING at the last minute!