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

Sunday, June 9, 2024

oh ho, hands down, no contest, waaaay better!!!!!!

 The camper, a game-changer.  In case you missed my camper history, or if perhaps you like hearing the same stories over and over again, here you go:  We started out tenting years ago, when we had two small children.  It was holy heck, challenging-ly difficult, but fun too.  A week in a tent, with nary a cook stove, meaning even coffee had to be made bent over a campfire.  Smoke in your eyes.  We decided:  we need a camper.

The next summer, when we had baby Benjamin, our #3 child, we bought a brand new Coleman pop up camper.  We used that until #6 Aaron was a baby, then we bought our 35 ft. Prowler.  (We had one rainy camping trip, tucked all those five children in bed in that pop-up, then sat under the tiny little awning reading the newspaper by lantern light...and decided:  we need a bigger camper).

That 35 foot camper was years of fun.  We had our own bedroom in the front, could play cards and backgammon, tuck a baby into bed next to our bed...we outgrew it...for several years we had to use some tents too...then it started getting older and bigger, then we got rid of the Big Van, and couldn't tow it if we wanted to.  So we went back to tenting...after getting rained out a few times, we decided:  we need to rent a camp.  We had some nice years of that, then the grandchildren kept coming, the family got just too big for that.  So, we went back to tenting.

Now, I like tent camping.  But heaving myself onto the air mattress at night, then getting the camping leg cramps, waking in the morning and un-heaving...then the horrific walk to the bathroom, trying not to think about peeing, one step at a time, and heaven help me, one morning the janitor was in there, just a minute, m'am, almost done!  Well, you're gonna have an extra puddle to clean up, kind sir.  It was like the little nightmare on top of a very bad dream, to see that janitor cart and the stupid little We're Cleaning! sign.  

So we got this new little camper.  I had hopes, I had dreams, and I wondered if the reality would match up.  Well, yes.  Yes, it has.  I won't say it was the most comfortable sleeping, as I had the edge part and there's a crevasse where the camper and the bunk part meet, and I am the Princess and the Pea.  But it was okay.  It was cozy.  Morning rolled in, I rolled out of bed, no heaving, and took four steps to the bathroom.  Ahhh.  Then the morning coffee:  that inside camper stovetop is so slick, just turn on the burner, and voila, the kettle is going.  Then:  coffee on the couch with my feet up.  Oh ho, it was nice.  

We had some chilly windy weather, mixed with a small bit of rain during the night.  Excellent sleeping weather, as the waves were noisy, it's the best to sleep with the sound of waves.

This was our view from the campsite.  Lake Ontario.

These two, they like camping.
So cozy in their little bunk end.
Camping hair, camping clothes...
One lazy pup too close to the fire...yeah, we moved her.

I can't believe we have a camper again.  I do love it.
Unzip the end and wow, the lake!
Charlotte Claire learned how to chop the wood to get kindling pieces.

A little bit of sunshine!

Paul and Char drove home in the truck, towing the camper.  Camille rode with me in the car.  We were going right by a grocery store, so I decided we should stop.  Burger was $3.29 a pound, bacon $3.33 a pound, cherries were two-something...we only got a very few things, because we wanted to get home.

I invited the family over, (I missed them!) on the way home, on the family chat.  We weren't in the door ten minutes when they started coming over...maybe a bit longer, we had put the refrigerator stuff away and unfolded the ends to air out... 

Meatballs!  Six pounds of ground beef makes a lot of meatballs...I made some pasta too, just the right thing for a beautiful windy day, with a passing rain shower.

Six of my girls went over to the school to play pickle ball with three friends...Amanda has the tennis balls, Grace is behind her (their second cousin!), and Linnea (another second cousin!)...Margaret in the front with the sunnies, and Kathryn...then Sonja K. in the back, Evelyn, Char, and Miss Cam next to Grace...

 So Darius was here with his three kids, Adrian with his three kids, Sam and Grace with their three, but Grace wasn't feeling well.  The dads were watching a race, and watching their kids...but you know how that goes!  I was helping quite a bit, it was busy, but the kids and babies are so hilarious, so precious.  The bigger boys were playing in the yard, I set the two year old girls (Rhys and Ruth) up at the table with teeny tiny things (Calico Critters), I chased babies and gave one my measuring spoons, got the bin of blocks for them, just helped keep them safe and happy, while making meatballs and sauce and was like the old days!  They were actually all really good.  The two year old cousins have a few spats here and there, but they play together more and more.  

Blythe and Maeve

Blythe and Jamie
Uncle Darius with Wulf (Grant, and Achilles too)
Aunt Evelyn with Jamie, who just woke up, and Rhys

Time to go home...all the gathering of tired children and babies, finding the socks, the water bottles...then  wow,'s quiet.  

There is laundry to do, and things to put away, but for right now, an early evening coffee and reflections of a very nice weekend...ahhhh.  

Thursday, June 6, 2024

...soupy weather!

 ...which differs from Soup Weather, which is when it's dark and chilly outside.  Soupy weather is muggy and humid.  It's not even ultra hot, just sweating weather.  Last night, I will admit, was rough sleeping.  A fan in the window didn't do much.  I tossed and turned and had lots of good thinking time.  I considered maybe putting the AC in the window...

I am not a fan of air conditioning, in general.  It's unnatural to be so cold in the summer, and coming in from the heat to the cold, sometimes it does feel great, but it makes you not want to go outside at all.  I like open windows and breezes coming in.  We don't have central AC here in the house.  We do put a window unit in our bedroom some years, and the other upstairs bedrooms have that option too.  There have been years we've put window units in the kitchen and living room windows.  

But overall, where we live, there are only, in my humble opinion, like ten days where the heat and humidity are almost unbearable.  And, we have a pool.  

My thoughts, when the kids were younger, it was nice it was just as warm in the house as outside, it helped them want to go outside.  When I was a kid, most of us didn't have AC, and we all played outside all summer long.  

Now if I lived in Phoenix, it would be a totally different story.  They're in the hundreds all week, barely cooling down at night.  It's actually quite deadly to live in that climate without AC, and it's happening...last year over 600 died in the summer, in JUST the Phoenix area, from heat...many were homeless...(Whenever I visit there, I wonder why the heck did they build all this in the DESERT?!)

We have decided to go ahead and go camping, tomorrow instead of today.  Charlotte Claire can't miss school, and Paul can't miss work, but we will leave around noon tomorrow.  So I have PLENTY of time to pack!  

The camper is very lightweight, and cannot hold more than 400 pounds of cargo for towing, including contents of refrigerator.  Now, we don't have a campsite with electricity or water hook up, so ultimately we would fill the fresh tank, but we don't want to tow that weight.  We do have a battery that's charged, and a generator to recharge it, just to turn on the lights a bit, and the refrigerator is on now, plugged in to our home's electric, but we'll switch it to propane for the weekend.  It's nice to have a refrigerator, not just coolers.  We can also make our coffee right there in the camper, a three burner stove to heat the kettle.  Morning coffee in the camper, ahhh.  Will my expectations be met?  

The camper is very small.  We're towing it with a Nissan Frontier, so it has to be small.  The dogs are going with, they will take up every single bit of floor space, and more.  Charlotte Claire and Camille are coming too, then Paul and I.  Others will be up to visit during the day, but just the four, rather SIX of us for sleeping.  I don't know how it will all work with storage yet, but it's very exciting to me to get it all figured out.  

The weekend weather doesn't look as menacing as it did a few days ago.  Right now, it should rain the first half of Friday, we'll get there right as it clears up, hopefully.  It'll be cool, in the sixties, but still pleasant, I hope.  Our site is right there across from the beach, so sunsets are gorgeous, mornings are gorgeous, it's just nice.   Saturday it's supposed to rain in the morning, then clear up for the rest of the day, still chilly though...but hey, campfires are nice!  

This post has been written in fits and starts, as I have to go out to the pool frequently to empty the filter basket...those pesky cottonwood trees, snowing down their fluff, which lands in the pool, which clogs up the basket...I also brought a load of things to the camper...some mugs, a frying pan, marshmallows....I pack in fits and starts too.  I wish I had a normal brain that did things more logically.  

I got up to let the cat out, which led to loading up to take things to the camper, then I raked up after the dogs a bit, then wandered back in, down to the pool, and oh, those pans I left soaking last night!  A load of laundry, now here I am, back in the comfy chair.  Of course I don't want to sit here all day anyway, or do I?

Camille will be taking her test on this computer, so I decided to get back to this and finish it up.  But first, here are some random photos...we went strawberry picking yesterday!  I told the kids, eat them up before they go bad, I don't want any to go to waste, because I had to lean over for each one, and ugh.  :). I thought I was smart, washing them all up and putting them in glass jars...but nope, you're not supposed to wash them first, oops.  My gravestone, as my dear son Aaron once mentioned, should read She Tried.

Look at Rhys all the way up there...we had the place to ourselves...
Guess which basket Rhys picked?

Achilles...more went in his tummy than in his basket!

Oscar and Sonja...:)
Camille and I went to the thrift store yesterday morning.  
Yes, we bought this and brought it has project! written all over it.  It's veneered wood except for the top, I think, so maybe we'll sand and refinish the top wood and paint the bottom...Camille has been wanting one of these for a while...and it was marked down to $29.99.  

Ah well....the rain will be moving in soon, hope it cools the air a little so I can vacuum...have a really good day!

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

in reality....

 ....I could tell you that yesterday afternoon, it was blissful as we floated in the pool for the first time of the season...and that would be true.  The water was refreshingly cool, a nice break from the humidity and the blazing sun.  

But, we were talking about the future.  It made my tummy hurt.  Charlotte Claire is leaving in five weeks for a year in Germany, although she is coming home in August for Sonja's wedding.  Camille is taking her end of the year test now, and is going to attempt to take the GED, HSE, New York State Equivalency test soon, even though she hasn't completed her senior year of maybe starting college next year...oh dear.  

You know when you have kids that they are going to grow up and move out.  Then some of them actually do, and it's like peeling off a bandaid each and every time.  Then, you kind of get used to them being gone, get settled in with the smaller family, then another up and leaves.  Stop it right now, you guys!  This family is getting too small!  

Four kids at home has been nice and comfortable.  When they're all here at the same time, it's quite fun.  I knew it wasn't permanent, they're all just passing through, but dang.  Camille, in college?  Sonja getting married, Char leaving for a year...

Again, it's the goal, isn't it?  To raise them up, get them on their feet, so they can walk away.  Success!  They're on their own!  Tax-paying citizens, we did it!  But shh, it hurts.  I am not one of those exuberant Empty Nesters, who can finally buy low sugar yogurts without anyone eating them.  I NEED all those shoes by the door!  

Random:  Jonathan and Sunny...Jon bought a "new" truck.  It's a manual transmission, and it sounds like a tank.

Rhys...I went with Kathryn for her dr. appt. yesterday, and we had to stop at Aldi on the way home...she was such a good girl, I had a treat for her in my purse...two miniature Reese's cups, her favorite.  We also went into the thrift store, just quickly, and I bought one of those little trains that sets up the dominos, so you can knock them down again.  Lydia and Ophelia came here for a bit before Activity Club, and had lots of fun with it...$3.74, and it came with working batteries.  

Our camping plans...well, the forecast is SO terrible at this point, rain and storms and cooler weather...we're going to take a good look at it, then decide whether we really want to go camp in it...I rather do, but we'll see.  

Activity club was great fun last evening.  We had a campfire, roasted marshmallows, had a birthday party for one of the little girls, gave out prize bags, and had cookies with candles in them.  I was supposed to make cupcakes, but had complications with the oven.  Paul figured it out and fixed it, but I had already bought those cute little frosted cookies...

Today, I think we're going strawberry picking...not sure how many I'll be able to pick, as leaning over isn't my back's favorite thing, and my knees absolutely scream when I try to squat...:).    Have a really good day!

Monday, June 3, 2024

just thankful...

 Have I mentioned what an amazing day we had here on Saturday?  Lots of grandchildren came over, and the weather was simply glorious.  Not too hot, sunny, breezy...a perfect day to fill the little pool and get out the squirt guns.  They ran wild, those grandkids.  They like to play in Grandpa's fishing kayak, oh the adventures they go on!  They climb trees and play on the swings (two new swings this year!).  

We set up in the front yard, as the deck is hot for crawling babies.  (The big pool is uncovered, but still very cold and not quite clean enough yet.)

Sweet old Suri is so good with the babies...she just puts here head down and sighs.

Just fun...

Rhys was a bit tired, she liked having a little time out in the shade in the swing.
Baby Maeve, baby Blythe...
Baby Jamison...
Jamie and Blythe
Kathryn with Blythe and Jamie...

Then yesterday after church, Evelyn had to return something to Target...did I want to come?  Wait, I think I may have invited myself.  I found too much stuff in Target this time, oops.  A few birthday gifts, some chicken,  confectioner's sugar, cream (I had a $10 0ff $30 grocery coupon)...

Me in the back, Camille and Charlotte Claire, Sonja K., Evelyn Joy...

These outings with all the daughters are fewer and farther between than they used to be, I find myself extra thankful for them now.  They are so much fun.  

When we got home, I tried to make dinner quickly so Sonja could eat before work, night shift nurse. There were drumsticks and boneless breast that I had started raining as soon as I put it on the grill, so I pulled a chair under the tree instead of hovering over the grill...she ended up having something else for dinner, because it wasn't done in time.  Raining or not though, it was quite pleasant out there.

This fine morning, I went to the pool, then came home and unfolded the camper ends because we folded them up in the rain yesterday so Paul could check the lights.  He installed a new weight distribution hitch, and got a new plug converter for the light system so when he signals, the camper lights signal too.  The brake system isn't working yet.  And of course I feel guilty because he's spending so much time doing all of this for a camper he may or may not have wanted as much as I did.  Then to make matters worse, it seem a little wet on the end I folded while wet, (the other end was folded up as soon as it started sprinkling, but he was working on the ground under the front end, so I couldn't fold it until he was done there) not sure if that's normal or not...a good bit of dampness...maybe I'm just having major Buyer's Remorse, the kind where you're not really remorseful, but more like OH DANG, this had BETTER be a GOOD, STURDY, LONG LASTING item, after my YEARS of looking and deciding!  

I've been lah-de-dahing about packing for this weekend's camping trip, having all the time in the world.  But oops, we're booked for Thursday through Sunday.  The only thing I've done is put a flashlight out on the table.  I have made a list too, so that counts.  

It's not for sure yet that Miss Char and Miss Cam will come with us, and what about Evelyn?  She was thinking about would be fun!  

Anyway, this afternoon I have to bring Char to an appointment, get chlorine tablets from Costco, and I have to find out if the dr. office has heard anything about Cam's MRI...and I have flowers I bought from Walmart that need to be repotted...poor me, I have to putter around outside...

One more thing:  this blog is not political, as I firmly believe that all that is earthly will pass away anyway, and God gives grace to the humble, and every knee shall bow down to Jesus someday.  The things that happen here on earth are background noise to me.  I feel myself getting drawn into it sometimes, and there are obviously things that are unjust, things that are wrong, evil things.  Political parties have begun to loathe and despise those on the other side, which seems like a work of Satan,  He is the father of lies, and loves when people hate one another.   Broad assumptions, categorizing people, painting them stupid, each side being so right!  And the name calling!  Grow up, right?

I am definitely more conservative.  In NY state, the jail laws allow too many criminals to walk.  I don't agree with abortion, at ALL, but question whether it is something the government has to be involved in.  To me, it's sugar coated as a right, when it's actually selfish and cold hearted.(and murder).I feel compassion for women in general, women who have to bear so much, and aren't always treated with respect from other women, or from men...women who are poor, already in rough situations.  But heaven forbid they should be encouraged to keep pure until marriage.  And men:  stay faithful, respect your wives!  Oh, see why I stay out of it all?  You can't put bandaids on it.  

Money is the root of all evil, and corruption is rampant in the world.  There are so many good people out there too, God will bless them.  Other than that, I don't know.   

I'm distracted...I took a break and repotted my flowers.  We don't seem to have a garden this year.  We were gone to Arizona, then Paul was really sick, and we've been so busy getting the pool and camper ready...then one of the girls mentioned the shower isn't draining properly...then I saw one lone pantry moth this morning, which sends me on a rampage, to hone in on the source before we have a big big problem.  I saw it land on the curtain, I set my coffee down, missed the end table, coffee splashed all over the floor and couch, and I stopped for a minute:  No, my life is NOT a shiftshow.  to put it nicely.  It isn't.  Trials come, as they should, suck it up, clean it up, and don't despair.  

Anyway...another mess of a post, rambling from here to there...have a really nice day!

Friday, May 31, 2024

it's all good...

 ...even the bad things.  Life is interesting, and a verse keeps coming to me:  The spirit of a man will sustain him in sickness, but a broken spirit, who can bear?  Prov. 18:14.   Bent, but not broken, right?  God causes all things to work together for our good, when we love Him.  Sometimes if feels like my very soul is being scorched, but what can I do?  Give up?  Worry?  Blame someone?  Isn't it better to find something in it all to be thankful for, even if I don't understand things?  

We are having absolutely gorgeous weather here in New York State.  Warm and breezy, sunny skies, cool at night, just perfect.  I went out and dawdled around this morning, swept up the grass cuttings from the sidewalk, cleaned up after the dogs, watered my flowers...then I came in and sat in my comfy chair for a bit, and went out the pool deck.  I scrubbed and hosed off some chairs, and the deck itself.  The pool cover is off, and the hose has been in, filling that pool right up so we can run the filter.  It's not too bad, some leaves in there, but nothing like the years we left it uncovered!  

I'm sure the water is freezing, but one of these days, I'll actually be swimming in my own pool again, it's such a short portion of the year, here in the north.  

I have been a hurtin' unit lately.  Achey legs, achey back, ugh.  5,400 steps, so it's not like I have been overly lazy, but I think the arthritis in my knees has been just screaming at me.  I wondered if I was fighting off what Paul didn't fight off, which we think was Covid again.  He was SO tired.  The last time I felt like I was fighting it off, I had a few days of extra body aches too.  

Anyway.  Paul and I went to 6 year old granddaughter Elise's dance recital this evening, she is in ballet.  Mariel was there too, and Sonja with Charlotte Claire and Camille.  They left to go hang out with their friends, and Paul and I went to Walmart to get a new plug for the camper/truck electrical switch.  Then to Harbor Freight to get a brand new weight distribution hitch. (remind me that I DO get presents sometimes!).  Then we went to the cemetery to see him mama's gravestone, which is still so unreal to me.  I have not reconciled myself to the fact that she is no longer with us.  I still think of things to tell her, and am always hearing what she would say about things, she did have something to say about everything.  I truly miss her.  

This little guy is buried right near her: 

He only has a little marker, but that's okay.  

It was a pleasant outing, even the sad part, spending some time with Paul is always nice.  He's had a really rough week, but seems to be on the mend.  He's planning to go fishing tomorrow:)

Kathryn and I went out and about a few times this week.  I waited in the car with her little ones while she went into the dr. to sign some papers.  We sang songs, I gave them cookies, and I played Oscar the Grouch's I Love Trash for them, and we talked about all the people coming and going in the parking lot.  I pointed out that the old lady had a sweater on because old people get colder.  Rhys so sweetly asked, "Are you cold, Grandma?"  Touche', Rhys.  

She came over to visit a few times too...Jamie likes the rocking puppy...

Ahh, the warm evenings on the deck...I bought a few more flowers at Walmart today, need to put them in bigger pots...

I think some grandkids are coming over tomorrow.  It's been a while for most of them, it'll be fun.  

And...I'm not going to go on and on about this, but can you imagine that we live in a country where the legal system is used to punish one's political enemies?  

Anyway, we had Costco chicken this week, and I made some excellent meatballs.   I made some chicken breast, tossed in baking powder, flour and corn starch, and fried up in olive oil...some in orange sauce, some in buffalo sauce, and some plain.  

Ah this post scrambled enough for you?  I don't know what random things to write about sometimes!  There are of course things that are not for the blog, as usual, and it can seem like I'm leaving out crucial info, like la-ti-da, hunky dory life, right here!

 I saw an article where a few young people are having fits about growing up in the public eye, having every event documented on Facebook, how much they hate that their first period was public knowledge...that's awful, but, remember this...just as they are victims in this, their mothers sort of were too...everyone else was doing it!  They probably didn't think of later repercussions.   

So far as I know, none of my kids are accusing me of being a Life Ruiner.  I hope I wasn't too forthcoming...

And, it's late.  I need to get some sleep.  

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

home sweet home...

 ...and Paul is sick.  Am I getting it too?  I am tired, and have a sore throat, but maybe I'll fight it off.  It was a rainy Memorial Day, we cancelled having all the kids over because of Paul.  Yesterday I went shopping for burgers and hot dogs, buns and chips, salt potatoes, a water melon, strawberries, blueberries, drinks, cookies...then we canceled. 

It's been a crazy couple of days.  Rhys was sick, sicker, then went to the hospital, ruptured appendix.  She had a drain put in, and lots of antibiotics, and is coming home tonight.  

She felt better, and got to visit the play room, and Achilles got to visit too.   After the fact, when you summarize it all into a paragraph with a picture, a tidy little story...but oh my goodness, when the little child is so sick, goes to the hospital, the realization that it's very serious, oh the prayers that went up for this sweet girl!

The quail family visited us in Arizona...
Aaron and Paul, looking for the wild burrows.
From the plane...
Ben and Ashley and family...
Paul and I visiting a very old establishment in Prescott, Arizona...

We're home now, and all the things I wanted to start in on, I have not had the energy to even think about.  Life is funny, and curveballs come, but God is always good. If He is for us, who can be against us?  

Have a really nice day!