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 30, 2011

tips for a happy marriage....

As I sit here in the quiet, awaiting the second trip school bus's arrival, talking periodically to one of the eight kids who are here, busy on computers, exercising, reading, relaxing, I am thinking about my husband.

Why am I so lucky to still be crazy about him?

Why am I so lucky to have him still be crazy about me?

Our Friday night Date Night has become a habit, a good habit that we totally look forward to...we sneak into our room, close the door, and watch movies on the computer. We have to get the younger kids into bed first, but the older kids are fine out here on their own.

It wouldn't be right for me to give advice on how to have a happy marriage, really, since I have often been witchy with a capital "B". And stubborn and slow to bend. But God is good, so I will anyway. Because something good is working here, and if anyone can get any help from us, good.

First of all...I would like to thank God, for letting us, I am not kidding or practicing my Oscar speech...I bet if anyone interviewed a thousand couples who have been married for 25 years or longer, and were still happy together, I bet anything that most, if not all, had submitted themselves to God first and foremost. Seriously, getting free from selfishness is the most important thing, I think. I know there is a saying in the world that goes like, "you have to love yourself before you can love anyone else."...but. But. I don't know about that. There is always so so so much room for more goodness, and more blessing...and when I am working on that, and am so blessed that he is also working on that, how can it not be good? When we both work together to bless the kids, to be patient with them, to listen to can it not be good? It requires sacrifice, and for me to give up my opinions sometimes, and maybe some time I would like to spend on myself...but it is a law of God that when one gives one receives!

While there are probably good marriages outside of God, I don't know anything about that, I am only writing about what I have experience with.

We have of course had our trials and our differences, but we have both understood that being right doesn't matter, and have always wanted the best for each other, so our love has grown, and we still have a great time together. A good marriage, as far as I know, is alot of work, but work well worth it.

That being said, I would never recommend that anyone marry anyone who doesn't answer to God. Because I realize that I am simply not that fantastic that Paul just plains loves me so, he has humbled himself and striven to please God in the situations too.

Oh, I hate being preachy. I am just in a good mood, and happy about my friend and husband, happy that it is Friday, and would wish this same happiness on my friends...

never a dull moment...again!

Oh, those phone calls! Those panic-inducing, spring to action kind...Mali got bit by a dog. We were all dressed and ready for open house, seven of us. The call came from a number I didn't recognize because Mali, who always brings her phone running, had set it down and forgotten to take it.

Aaron jumped in the car and went to get her as we waited to leave in the minivan, kids all excited to show us their classrooms, and Camille thrilled to be going to school. It was very clear when Mali got home that she needed to go to the hospital, but first I had to go to the dog owner and find out if it had had it's rabies vaccination. Bye, kids, have fun with them, Daddy, I cannot believe I am missing Open House at school....

The sad part? The dog owner is so very kind, the dog had all it's shots, is a very nice dog, just doesn't like joggers. The kind dog owner said she will pay the dr. bill, and will do what she has to with the dog, she apologized over and over again...I think the county health department will recommend or require the dog to be put to sleep because this isn't its first offense...the poor lady.

Mali's story:

She was running, and decided to take a different route...(she runs like seven, eight miles a day)...three dogs came running down a long driveway towards her, the big one bit her lower leg and knocked her right down. She fell on her hand hard, bruised her thumb, and the dog jumped on her and was growling...she said she somehow got up and ran down the road, this is a back road, a country road, the houses are far apart, she didn't have her phone...she ran up the driveway at the first house she saw, no one was home...the next house, way down the road, the lady was not only home, she was an EMT (Emergency Medical Technician). She let Mali in and washed her up, and let her use her phone...and told her she really needed to go to the hospital...

Now the really interesting part: we got to the hospital, and there was my dear sister-in-law at the Emergency Room with her daughter Olivia, our sweet little niece/cousin/friend who spends lots of nights at our house...she had a FONDUE fork stuck in the bottom of her foot. It had prongs on it, couldn't just pull it out...she was in agony because it was in the soft part of her there was Mali, blood dripping down her leg and soaking her sock, and Olivia in the wheelchair holding the end of that fork so it didn't wiggle...

Olivia is now on crutches for a few days, a bit of local anesthesia and the dr. got it out, ouch. Poor girl, no gymnastics for a few days for her. Mali got her wounds cleaned up and some of those new plastic stitches put on, so they can drain...she has some major bruising, too. That dog was big!

Mali and I spent a considerable amount of time trying to figure out why events transpire the way they do. We already spent the whole day together, did God want us to spend more time together? (I mentioned I probably was driving her crazy, but she insisted I don't drive her crazy. I took that as a really huge compliment).

We were both so hungry...I had decided not to eat dinner before Open House, just a we went to Subway after - she got a vegetarian sub with triple cheese, and I got a Hot Buffalo chicken sub...we had to eat some of them before heading home...then got some gas in the college kid's nice little car...then home. Oops, a State Police car in the driveway. The hospital had reported the dog bite, and the cop thought we would be home...not yet, we had to eat and get gas! We didn't know they were sending an officer to our house. Poor Paul! He thought it was us coming home, and Rosie was out on the deck barking...when he realized the barking wasn't stopping, he went out and there was the cop, saying, "State Police here.." oops. He got Rosie inside and in her cage....thankfully she didn't bit the officer....

Now, if you know me at all, you know that my worst nightmare, besides getting those scary phone calls, and besides going to the Emergency Room with dirty hair (ha, this time I was all dressed and my hair was clean!), is having the police come when the house is messy. And dangit, it was messy. The officer only went as far as the kitchen, but my everywhere, what good is it to have shoe shelves? The empty Economy Sized Folger's coffee container I had given to Camille to keep her money for the candy store in, lying there on the floor...a few socks, Sonja's half finished Solar System project on the table with a few backpacks and some dishes...the three, yes THREE huge bags of dog food I had stocked up on because I had a coupon and it was on sale, and which I HAD asked the boys to take downstairs...blah. All I can say is blah. Because I try so hard to be neat and respectable, and no one ever stops in to take our statement when the house is clean.

Poor Mali can't run for a few days. And, she will probably have a few scars on her best assets, according to her. Oh well. Nothing happens by chance, and we did have some good fun. We got to laughing while waiting for the doctor to come back into the examining room, imagining if I sat on the little dr. stool and she started giving me a hair cut with the scissors he had used for the gauze. We were tired, it was getting late, and we laughed ourselves almost to the floor with that one...

Because I am so nice I am going to pick Margaret up early from school today so she doesn't have to endure the Pep Rally. Some of my kids have ZERO school spirit, which is fine with me. (it is always good to remind the kids how nice I am when I do something for them, right?)

So I got to bed after one a.m., and got up at 6:30 to take the Bad Dog for her walk. I am ready for a nap now. hmm, I wonder how long Camille will sleep this morning.... nah, she is up already...I have nap-on-the-brain, now. Perhaps, just perhaps, I can sneak one in....a nice long one, not interrupted by any phone calls or FedEx deliveries or slamming doors or barking dogs...the chances are looking slim.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

afternoon break...

The following things should be getting done:

1. Dinner preparation.

2. A work-out, today is supposed to be treadmill day.

3. General cleaning up, since we left early this morning for a a dr. appt. for Mali.

4. Getting ready to leave, since Open House at school starts in a few hours.

But no, here I sit. I shouldn't have even sat, but I did.

Oh well....can I possibly concentrate right now? Apparently not...that niggling that I have things to do won't let me sit here.

Jonathan says a kid on the bus kissed Charlotte Claire's hand. Jon says it is because he loves her, he loves kids with blonde hair, he says. blah. She is in kindergarten. The kisser is too, at least he is little too.

I just bought Converse sneakers for the princesses, 75% off, really sweet ones...Miss Camille is trying to tie hers.

Can't are rubbing elbows, need to talk to Mama...

Wednesday, September 28, 2011 it real?

This morning I dragged my lazy rear out of bed at 6:19 so I could make up some pancake batter for the kids before I walked the Bad Dog. I felt pretty terrific about this, even though it was just Aunt Jemima Complete Just-Add-Water mix.

The kids appreciated it, and one of the older ones even complimented me. Then, oh of my daughters expressed dismay that she would have to go out into the world smelling like pancakes! She hates when things are cooked in the morning. I say if anyone gets close enough to her to smell her, they should answer to me, but I didn't mention that this morning, as I was trying to behave and keep the peace.

I guess it's the old You Can Please Some Of The People Some Of The Time...

It's the same thing when I buy cookies. I do not eat cookies anymore, especially packaged cookies (okay, sometimes I will eat one cookie...just sometimes) anyway, some of the kids are jumping up and down with thrilledness to have cookies and milk, then one of them will say, "why do you buy cookies when no one needs them?"...and I do understand this point of view. I like to see the kids enjoy things, but I don't want to make anyone suffer...besides me, of course..wait, I don't want to suffer either....anyway...

I was planning on going swimming with Miss Camille this morning until I found out that Sonja's class is having a Swim Party today at the same time as the open swim. I will not do that to her. She is having a hard enough time. She claims her suit is too tight, and did not bring it, so she will just be watching. wah. I could not convince her otherwise, she is worried about the locker room, too...changing in front of the other girls. Oh, why do they have to grow up and get self-conscious? She is such a sweet and pretty little girl, too. Perhaps I will go and pick her up and spare her sitting there on the bench watching the other kids swim...

I have been looking at Jamaica vacations....hmm, now why do I feel such a longing to go there again? I mean besides the obvious reasons like the unbelievable color of the water and the sand and the nice hot sun that is all but gone from around here by December...could it be the days of relaxing with Paul, having conversations whenever we want about whatever we want without interruption, except for perhaps from a waiter asking what we would like to drink? It could be because I now know what it is like to have five or six days without having to worry at all about what the kids are doing, or break up a fight, or make dinner for 15 people. Or 16 or 17 or 18. I have experienced the gradual emptying of the mind of the little details that usually smother my poor brain, the actual state of relaxation. That does not happen in real life, ever. Oh, I have "rest", but that state of low-intensity bliss, of peace...I am craving it. If I hadn't gone on these vacations in the last two years, I wouldn't even have known this existed...but now I know! (Hey, we were married for 26 years before we had a honeymoon...we got married on a Friday night, went to church on Sunday, and back to work on Monday...)

A weekend away is nice, but not nearly so nice as the Caribbean.

Last night we heated up the leftover pizza in the oven, made nice salad, cut up the last watermelon of the season (I shall not buy another, this one was rather mushy), and I grilled the marinated chicken breasts outside. It came out just right, nice and juicy. Chicken is good to have because when there is some left, Paul and the older kids take it for lunches the next day.

The Kitten thinks Rosie is his mother. He comes purring over to her trying to cuddle up...and Rosie washes is cute. Kitten even goes into Rosie's cage for naps...sometimes I give Kitten some chicken or good treats in Rosie's bowl and make Rosie wait 'til Kitten is done before she can have drives her crazy, but I am hoping it helps her respect Kitten...hopefully it doesn't backfire and make her eat Kitten all up.

I told Mali that no matter what name she picks, Mr. Swanson or Aunt Calculator(Joe's name for kitty), I end up calling it Kitty Kitten.

Is it becoming obvious yet that I have absolutely nothing to say?

Rosie needs another bath. I gave her one last week, which signaled to her that it was a good time to go romp through the swamp. She doesn't like to be clean and fluffy and smell like baby shampoo. (I use it on her face so it doesn't hurt her eyes).

Camille is in her own little world playing Barbies right now. And yes, I do have some things to do..I just don't feel like it. I swept and mopped and did laundry yesterday, I don't want to do it again today. Maybe I will go clean up Camille's room again, that's fun. Poor me, right?

Last night I stumbled upon a blog that was upsetting to me...a lady lost 90 pounds, gained it back and more, then lost 110 pounds, and gained that back...she is now trying to mentally prepare herself to do it again, "for good this time". I do not want to do that. I have to divorce my mind from the love of all yummy things. This is going to be a lifelong battle for me. I think it is No Fair sometimes because I see normal thin people eating things I cannot have...and can never have, really. Martha, you asked about popcorn...yes, I can have popcorn...I make hot-air popped sometimes...but not a whole bowl of it...and not every day...I long to come to the place where it is fine to just eat my salad and chicken and be satisfied without dueling it out in my mind about whether I can have just a bite of the fresh bread, or the brownie, or worse, the ice cream...will the love of All Things Yummy ever decrease, or better yet disapear? I am hoping so. Resist the devil and he will flee from you, right?

So I think I will go make some cookies. just kidding.

Maybe I will look at resorts on the seven mile beach in Negril...

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

being a nice momma

I try to be nice. I really do. Day in day out, no matter how I feel, I want to bless my kids. There has to be a sacrifice of ME in order to do that most of the time.

Last evening, Paul was at a meeting, and I was putting the kids to bed. I have noticed that I have gotten into this rut with the two little princesses where I tell them it is time to brush their teeth and get ready for bed countless times before it actually happens. This is not their fault. I need to say it once, and make sure it gets done. Anyway, they were finally washed up and brushed and flushed, and cuddled in my bed with me for stories...(Mali so kindly agreed to read Jonathan some of a chapter book, a Junie B. Jones story) Suzanne and Sonja and Charlotte Claire and Camille cuddled with me and I read three books. Then we talked a little bit about school. Sonja said she doesn't really have any friends. She said she had to finish some punctuation on a paper and missed most of play time yesterday, so she just stayed in for the rest of it and helped the teacher. wah. I felt such compassion for her.

So..she has a the solar system project due next week(our family's 13th solar system project) I am picking the elementary school kids up early and taking them to the store to get the poster board and some glitter. They went out the door this morning happy with their notes to be picked up, and ice cream money, too. This is the first time Charlotte Claire gets to buy ice cream, and she was pretty excited about it.

I know it isn't just about spoiling them rotten, but it is fun. (This morning Margaret was grumping that we didn't help her with HER projects. We didn't? I can't remember. She was the oldest in that string of five-girls-in-a-row in five years, so we probably didn't. My life is like this constant guilt trip....)

Five pizzas were made for dinner last night. I rolled the dough and Evelyn put them together. Charlotte Claire, Camille and Jon sampled the pepperoni and green peppers. There was plenty left-over for lunches. I had a large bowl of fresh spinach with cashews, then a small piece of pizza...then a taste of the garlic one, and a taste of another one...I had to almost slap my own hand. Then the kids had some chocolate bars for dessert...oh how I wanted one. Instead I got the last bite of Sonja's, and the last bite of Jon's. Two little bites instead of a whole one. Then it was over, the candy was gone, and I had endured! I should lose like five pounds for that!

If you are ever bored and lonely, get a kitten and a sheepdog. A big dumb sheepdog. Rosie doesn't realize that she is like sixty pounds, she romps around here trying to catch Kitten...the sweet thing is that when she has Kitten cornered, she is very gentle. I hope she doesn't accidentally hurt him though.

The snapping turtle that lives in the swamp down the road had babies. One was walking in the road, he was so little, he was almost cute. I decided not to bring him home, since his Mama is at least a foot long and terrifying....there were also a few that had gotten run over...

No Story Hour for us this morning. Suzanne is home from school because she says her tummy hurts, and after picking her up yesterday from the nurse's office, I shall spare her...and me.

I felt guilty about how long she had to wait for me at school, felt guilty about how we had to leave the park after such a short time, guilty that I forgot to get razors for Samuel, and that I didn't get Mirielle's text requesting a calculator until I was already home. Not terribly guilty, just a little bit so that it all adds up. The thing I always feel the worst about thought is when I am so impatient. When so many things are going on at once sometimes I get short with someone, and I hate that so much. I immediately want to rewind and get another chance.

Monday, September 26, 2011

never a dull moment...

Happily I skipped out the door to the park...well, after I put in one load of towels, and tied up Rosie and got her two pails of water (in case she spilled one), and got a few lawn chairs into the van...we brought some water bottles and a few snacks, and the lunch I had packed for Jon for school.

The park was totally and absolutely gorgeous. Sunny and eighty degrees with a nice little sister met me there with her almost three year old grandson, who happens to be Jon's little buddy. They played and ran and slid down the slides while Cheryl and I sunned and talked...then Susan joined us with new sonogram pics of the twins...oh, heart-wrenchingly cute! So exciting, too. We were having too good of a time, I guess...because the school nurse called and said she had Suzanne sick in her office, could I please come get her? We were down south of the small city at the lake, and really had to get to the store...if I went and got her first, I would have to drive the fifteen miles back to the store, and I would have had to wait until after school when there would be someone to stay with her if she was really We reluctantly left the beautiful park, went quickly through the store (well, not so very quickly...), and picked up Suze. I think she was just tired.


So here we are, home again. I am wondering two things:

1. If this were a few years ago when no one had cell phones, would daddy have had to leave work and go get her?

2. What would have happened if I were in nursing school?

I am deciding I don't really like having a cell phone. I don't mind my older kids texting me all the time, but mostly they WANT things..want me to get things, do things...I am too accessable!

Rosie broke her leash while we were gone, and probably terrorized the neighbors and pooped in their yards. oops. She probably chased the mail lady right down the road. She was laughing her head off when I pulled in and saw her dragging that broken leash....

Well, I do not feel like meandering into that kitchen and rustling up some dinner. No, I don't want to. But growing up means doing what you don't want when you don't want to, so I have to.

Since I did nothing in the way of housework today, I shall get these guys to pitch in and do a five minute clean up...right now, I think I shall lie on the couch and take a nap. ha. I say that, but I rarely do. Maybe because it is when my kids think of all the important things to say to me, right as I doze off...

40 pounds gone now...

I am back on track! Thinking positive, ect. I have lost 1.6 pounds per week on average since I started this new "lifestyle change", a.k.a. "diet". Not too shabby taking into consideration I had six weeks with no loss at all. I saw the lowest number in years on Saturday, and was pleased to see it again on Sunday and this morning. Usually when those numbers go down, they go back up again before I see the lower one I am encouraged. I told myself this morning that I have lost forty pounds, that means I can lose forty more. The apple cake Mirielle made yesterday is still on the counter, one third of it or so...I feel like flinging it off the deck, it is so good. And the oatmeal is all gone, so I had a bowl of Kashi Go Lean Crunch this morning, yummy but not nearly as filling. I had to almost slap myself, I wanted to go get a refill. So my demons are not gone, I am just fired up to deal firmly with them!

Isn't that the story of my life? There will always be trials and temptations! In everything!

This morning, Jonathan had a bad start. I woke them up singing my Good Morning song, which they do not appreciate, so I decided to be nice and stop singing...but Jonathan was antagonized anyway. I suggested he hop right into the shower because he needed a hair wash, and last evening he declined, said he would rather do it in the morning. But not THIS morning. No, this morning he had one of his breakdowns...he was just so upset, couldn't stop crying. Saying it was my fault he didn't take the shower last night, because he would have....he spent 20 minutes in there with the water on, I finally knocked and told him to come out...he came out, wrapped in his towel, and I poured the milk on his cereal and gave it to him. He did not WANT milk on yet. rrr. Anyway, he was crying and sobbing buckets of tears by the time the bus came, so I sent him back to bed. As he went down the hall toward his room, he turned and asked me, "Are you mad, Mom?" I just told him I didn't want to talk about it right now. It is very important to him that I am not upset with him... it is tricky to show the child you hate the behavior but not the child. And it is also not wise to get after a kid who is already having such a rough time. Honestly, I was very patient and kind with him this morning. My hand was a little itchy, ha. My mother used to say her hands were itchy when she saw a kid being bad, 'cause her hand wanted to give a little spank. the store again with me today! No oatmeal, bread, bananas, or yogurt in the house. Most mornings, twelve kids go out the door with lunches. That is alot of food. And every single night, there is this thing called, "dinner"....that takes a lot food too.

Rosie and the Kitten like to play together. Rosie is much more gentle than I thought she would be. They romp and run and I watch them and wonder why the heck I didn't get a Small Dog. Kitten likes to play in the dollhouses, jumping out the windows and running through the doors while Rosie runs around trying to catch him. Kitten runs under the big red chair, and Rosie lies there with her nose under the chair looking for Kitten, and Kitten sneaks out the other side and pounces on wonder I get so little accomplished around here. I am easily distracted...we have these magnet letters on our fridge...every time I turn around I am re-arranging them to make a different nonsensical phrase.

Exercise: something I have been trying is to go on the treadmill for only fifteen minutes, going really fast on a steep incline for like two minutes, then slowing down and just walking fast on flat, then increasing the incline again and giving it all I've got (which believe me isn't much) for like two minutes....I have read that interval training is better than just exercising for longer times. We'll see. I try different things on different days...I cannot do one single regular push-up yet. I lie there and try, and find myself laughing my head off, it is useless. I do the cheaty ones, and I do a cheaty version of sit-ups. I lift my wimpy ten pound weights, and I do my stair stepping on the front porch. I am hoping to get to the pool a few times this week, too. Exercising is not really my thing, but it is growing on me, and it does give me more energy. And I like the soreness, it makes me feel healthy. ha. The moral of this paragraph is this: If I can do this, anyone can! I am the Queen Of Lazy! The Captain Of The Comfy Chair! The Corner Cutter! The Master Of Excuses! I have relaxing down to a science! Give me coffee and the laptop, and I am down for the count! So really, if I can move it, anyone can. Just fight the mental battle, say no to the excuses, and feel better!

That being said, just taking a quick look around this place makes me just want to sit here and write all the live-long day. It isn't terrible, but there is about a hundred tiny pieces of paper strewn around the living room floor - looks like one of the princesses was practicing with the kindergarten scissors. There is NO clothes monster on the couch, which is something to be glad about. There are however, several loads of laundry screaming to be washed. The kids did the clean up from dinner last night, but somehow no one washed the pans or swept the floor...blah. So I am not buried with work, but I do need to get moving...or not, I just got a call from my sister who is in the small city with her grandson while Susan gets a sono (she is expecting twins), and does her three hour glucose test. We are meeting her at a park! The laundry can wait!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

sunday, a day of rest...

Margaret - 14, Kathryn - 13, Evelyn - 12, and Suzanne, 10 and a half....can you guess which girl did NOT want her picture taken?
Soccer players...

Aaron didn't like me taking his picture...but he looks so cute with a stethoscope.

So...another busy day is almost over. I watched one soccer game today and sold lots of candy and ice cream and soda and water and Gatorade. It was great fun, especially seeing all the kids and babies. Our soccer team lost every single game yet again, but they had fun doing it. They did not score even one goal. poor kids.

Camille is busy tonight, she has a pink sparkly princess dress on, a crown on her head, and high heels on. She just went to the "hosabel" to get her baby girl out, she said. She bought a new stroller and took it with her, she said. She was, "walking carefully because of the baby in her tummy". If that doesn't make me want to have one more baby, I don't know what does. Oh, and Paul told me he gets two extra weeks off if we have another one, when it is born. blah and blah.

I had a dream last night that my mother texted me, "come see me." was unnerving, not that I am superstitious (just a little stitious, ha), but still. I miss her so much when there are church events like the soccer weekends because she loved seeing everyone so much. When she was too sick to go, she would ask me a million questions, so I still find myself making a mental file for her, who had a baby and who is engaged and the funny things the kids say and do at the candy store. (one little boy bought a pack of gum, then went behind the table and offered a piece to my sister Cheryl...)(and they come with their sticky pennies and their little purses and the little boys with their wallets, just so funny)

Well...these tired kids need stories and hugs and to be tucked in to bed. So does their mommy.

Friday, September 23, 2011

autumn...what will it bring?

For some reason, I find the fall rather frightening, and not because of Halloween. When the shadows are so long, and the wind blows, it is like the foreboding of the cold to come...

I survived Mali's driving, but barely. She almost killed us a few times. STOP means STOP!!! Red light, stop..."I am, Mom!" NOW, just STOP...blah. I told her later that it is nothing personal, I just didn't want to die. It does take some driving experience to know whether to speed up or slow down at a yellow light. I know you are SUPPOSED to slow down, but I interpret it as, "Hurry up and get through this light before it turns green". Anyway, she didn't cry, and didn't kill us, so it went well. She just needs more experience, so I guess I need more gray hair.

We did have our fun though. We wandered through Marshall's and Fashion Bug without buying anything, and went into the pet store without buying a cute little puppy or a guinea pig. Then we went to lunch at the Chinese buffet...I didn't really want to, for obvious reasons, but I have been promising Mali a trip there and it just seemed right. Camille really thought it was fun. She didn't stop talking the whole time about how good it was and how we should, "always come here when we go shopping, pinkie promise, Mama?" It was good for me to realize that just because I was paying $5.25 for my lunch didn't mean I had to eat my money's worth. I had only chicken, and a taste of the noodles and rice, and oranges for dessert with my tea. Okay, I tasted some of Camille's desserts, yum. But it was enough. I couldn't do that every day, but I didn't totally sabotage myself, either.

Then we went grocery shopping to get the soda for the grill, lots and lots and lots of it...then to Walmart to get the rolls for the burgers. The hot dog buns were too much, I knew they are cheaper at BJ's, so we went there next...they had a coupon for $2.50 off two jars of Nutella, so I HAD to get some of that. And some muffins because I knew Abigail was coming over for dinner and I like to send her with something for the next day.

Dinner was quick and easy...I bought some frozen chipotle chicken mini-tacos, they were clearanced for $5 a box....60 per box. I made a huge salad for myself with spinach and no dressing. After that lunch, I couldn't just eat a regular dinner. I fit in giving Rosie-The-Bad-Dog a nice bath, she smells good now and her white fur is back to white again. Then I made popcorn for the little kids to have during story time...the older kids were at soccer, the college kids doing homework...but who ate most of the popcorn? Blah! I wish I could just take my desire for food out like it was a couple of double A batteries...blah.

But today is a new day, and I shall have no popcorn. Paul is coming home, and I want to clean this house up. I haven't had much help from anyone around here this week with all the soccer practices, and I haven't done as much because I have been gone alot...

I let Jonathan stay home today because it was his turn to sleep in my big comfy bed last night, and he brought a truck in with him that kept turning on...and he kept kicking me, and, he cried in his sleep..oh my goodness, we were awake so much I thought I would just let him sleep in and have a day off.

And those are the boring details of my life...

Thursday, September 22, 2011

the last day of summer

Charlotte Claire, kindergartener

"You take terrible pictures, Mom!", said Sonja after I showed her the adorable picture I had just taken of her. I thought I would add this one so you can see how clean my house isn't.

The town meeting we went to last evening: inconclusive. Mr. Neighbor didn't have the paperwork completed properly. So next month we go again, then the county sees his application, if they approve it we are sunk. The fact that we don't want it doesn't seem to be of any consequence in the big scheme of things. I did speak up in the meeting though, I had to. One supporter of the Mud Bog actually stated that the neighbors were all opposing the plan simply because we had, "an axe to grind with Mark". What?!! I have absolutely nothing personal against this man. So I said so. I also said that we just don't think that parking 500 cars next door would be very nice, and that the lot next to us is zoned residential and we would like it to stay that way. It did get a tiny bit heated when Mark's wife asked what the difference between what they were proposing and someone riding their four wheeler around and around and around their own property...yeah, Ben used to do that. Ride all around our back yard. I didn't say anything else, because it doesn't take a genius to see that these two things differ greatly. One four wheeler vs. however many cars racing in a bog, PLUS all the spectators. He is hoping for crowds of two thousand. TWO THOUSAND people on this little country road, whooping and cheering and having a bit of beer. blah. But we can only do what we can do, and last night after getting tempted to get all out of rest about the whole thing I remembered that this is only temporary, our earthly home. Life goes by, we are citizens of heaven and the most important thing is to live our lives pleasing to Him, then all the other things will fall into place.

So being home with Camille has been so much fun. Yesterday I really wanted to go to the pool, but I started in on picking up and cleaning, and didn't want to lose my stride...I cleaned the little girls room up, sorted clothes, did laundry, swept floors...Camille got the other broom and helped me sweep...she put her little hand on her little hip and said to me, "If you don't pick up these toys right now I am going to throw them away! I am not going to say it again!" ouch....and by the way, she forgot to ask nicely like three times first, she fast-forwarded to the threats...I never do that, do I? ouch, hope not. I tell you though, the best way to see what you are really like as a mom is to listen to the kids...ouch.

Today Mali has no classes, and she has her learner's permit, so I am going to suffer through her driving us to the store. I HATE kids learning how to drive. She is the seventh one, so I should be a little bit used to it by now, but I am not. I have already told her that she is not allowed to argue...if I say she is going too fast, she is going to fast. It is called "learner's" permit for a reason, she is learning, I am teaching. duh. I really wish I had my own brake pedal though.

And, we shall have some fun.

We have to get some more things for the Victory Grill at church...

Camille is sitting with me with her fleecy footy froggy jammies on, cute as can be. She talks like a miniature grown up now, she says she does not want to play Barbies, because she will get LONELY. She is now up and after the poor kitten...

Meal plans: I do not have any. Every once in a while, I plan for a few days. Mostly it is fly-by-the-seat of my pants, wander into the kitchen and scratch my head...which is NOT smart when there are fifteen people to feed. There has to be enough of stuff, it has to be quick and healthy and something they will like. blah, it is the hardest part of my job. We eat alot of chicken. I buy the boneless skinless breasts when they are under $2 a pound, usually marinade them at least over night, or before I freeze them, so they aren't dry. I cheat when I make chicken soup, I buy the store brand (or Campbells when it is on sale and I have a coupon)cream of celery soup, four or five cans makes a good base for soup for us...I simply cook the frozen chicken breast right in the soup, then add whatever we have, either noodles or potatoes or rice (leftover rice is good in soup), maybe a bag of frozen mixed veggies, or some fresh carrots....beef prices are up too high, so we have had more chicken than ever. We still get burger, used in taco salad and make meatloaf, I do not follow a recipe. I just crumble up some crackers, mix with some bread crumbs, add garlic and onion powder, minced onions, pepper, some chopped onion, the burger, and a few eggs...when I bake it, I form it into several smaller loaves, so there is more surface, more crispiness, less sog.

Well, I certainly don't want to think about dinner right now. I had a yummy breakfast though. I had my usual, oatmeal with a spoonful of crunchy peanutbutter and brown sugar, and a handful of wild blueberries. I buy them by the three pound bag, frozen wild blueberries, and they make that oatmeal so good!

My knees have been aching, probably from trying to run. blah. I tried for like fifty feet this morning, and they hurt, so I stopped. Rosie did not like that I stopped, she was pulling and turning and looking at me...sorry, girl! The walk was lovely is the last day of summer, but the leaves are changing, and the shadows are long. We are done with the pool for the season, we need to cover it before all the poplar trees shed their leaves.

Paul will be home tomorrow, I am looking so forward to a nice hug. And a kiss. And since this is a family blog, that is all I am saying.

I can just hear my older kids saying, "MAAAHM!" that way they have of stretching MOM out to three sylables. They say that when I call Paul, "my boyfriend", as I do when he texts me.

Camille is hilarious...she wears pull-ups to sleep in, and really wants to keep them dry, because I told her when she is all done with them and stays dry all night, she will get a present. Which was not brilliant of me, now she tries to tell me that she kept dry...she is telling me right now that the yellow stuff in the pull-up, "came in the pull-up, Mamma, it came like this from the package." hmm.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

with all my heart and soul....

I love Paul, with all my heart and soul. I just do. I have since I met him, and it has only gotten better, stronger. I am so very thankful for him, and that we still love each other so much.

We are mostly on the same page about things, and when we aren't - we don't butt heads too much because we just know better, I guess. And we don't see it as important to be right, we know that when we humble ourselves it only gets better.

It helps that we are still strongly attracted to each other, too.

Too Much Information, perhaps.

I was reading the obituaries this morning, one of my favorite things to do...and one 85 year old woman who lost her husband all the way back in 1981,( when I was still in tenth grade,) was quoted as saying that she had, "loved her husband with all her heart and soul." It made me sad to think she had spent all those years without him, missing him.

I am thinking that the more I count my blessings, the more difficult it will be to be sad about things.

Yesterday was such a good day I wish I could do a re-do. Margaret was the co-pilot of the shopping trip, and a good one, too. She and I have had our times of difficulty, exasperating each other without meaning to, yet she is such a sweet girl. Strong and opinionated, but very kind. We had a good old time driving down the roads, making up limericks...mine was: As a girl named Margaret once said,
as she tossed her big curly head,
"If you don't like my hair,
You can stick it right there,"
And her mother sent her to bed.
Don't read too much into was off the top of my head.

Well, SHE thought it was funny.

Our dinner last night: I came in with all the groceries after dropping off the food for the soccer weekend at church, and did 15 minutes or so of exercise...after catching up with everyone's day, and warning them not to eat all the M&Ms in the first day and passing out the things I got for them (headbands for Suze, sensitive teeth toothpaste for Mirielle, shorts for Suze, shaving cream for Evelyn...)anyway, I had to make dinner, I cut some fresh chicken breasts up a bit, wrapped each piece in a piece of bacon, sprinkled it with pepper, and put in the oven...then put in a pan of basmati rice with butter, covered in foil...after about an hour, and opening five cans of green beans, dinner! (baking the rice is so much is supposed to be soaked in water for 15 minutes before baking, but blah, I just put it in with twice the water/rice ratio, and it is always good.)

The peanut M&Ms are almost gone already. AND, someone opened the regular ones, too. The chocolate covered raisins are almost gone, too, but I am glad about that. They are now my enemy. I cannot ever be in their presence. ha.

Why, you might ask, do I even buy these things? good question. The thing is, it is all gone so fast, divvying stuff up 13 or 14 ways just makes it gone quickly. So it seems like lots of treats, but it really isn't.

Tonight is the Dreaded Town Board Meeting. I am trying to guilt more older kids into coming with far Sam and Sonja K. are coming. I think it would be ideal if they ALL would come and take up a whole row, just to make a point about who this race track would impact...

I embarrassed Miss Margaret at the store yesterday. She HATES it when people make a big deal about our family. She wants to be just a girl...not a Girl From That Big Family. Well...I'll try to spare the boring details, but at the service desk in BJ's yesterday, I overheard the clerks trying to sell memberships at a much better price than what I paid just two weeks ago, and with two months extra. I asked why I wasn't offered that deal, and was told it was only for new members, not RE-JOINING members, which makes NO sense. Loyal customers should be given deals, right? The manager heard my comment, which I made very nicely, and offered to give me two free months on my membership. When she looked up my account and saw how much I spent there last year , she was shocked...I told her I have 16 kids, 13 still at home, and Oh My Goodness...I was almost embarrassed at how interested she was..she asked lots of questions, and Marg was just standing there dying....but this lady was just innocently interested, and I didn't mind a bit answering her questions (yes, just one washing machine)....poor Marg. She just wants to be Normal. I told her we ARE Normal, just a WHOLE bunch of Normal.

Camille and I might go for a swim today, since my knees are killing me...the running must not be good for them, they ached like two giant toothaches this morning...she is waking up now, so I shall cuddle her...

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

losing weight

I thought perhaps if I wrote a small post dedicated to this big struggle in my life, it would help me tackle it. This struggle of mine, this fight against the temptations to eat bad things and to stay in bed on chilly mornings instead of traipsing down the road with the Bad Dog...

This morning I had myself 99% convinced that it was a good idea to stay in bed for an extra hour. I turned off that alarm, and snuggled under those covers...but the niggling wouldn't shut up. That niggling is worth millions, and I am thankful for it.

I got up.

It was chilly. But I walked, walked around worms in the road, and two dead baby snakes. I even ran a tiny little bit, down near the woods where no neighbors could laugh their heads off at the fat lady running so slowly....running still scares me, I am afraid I will trip over Rosie, or slip and fall, or hurt my poor knees. So I just run a little bit, but get extremely winded in that little bit.

Eating: blah. I am good, I eat well, healthy stuff. But then I am falling into the rut of eating too much of the snacky extras. I don't touch potato chips or candy bars, but I had chocolate covered raisins again. I shall not purchase them again, I now know they are too delicious. Chocolate chips: I have to get strict again, count them out, leave the room, do not go back for more. I have to be radical if I want to change! I can't just give myself an inch here and an inch there and expect the pounds to fall off. I have to say NO to things I shouldn't have. If I am hungry, there are healthy things to eat, fruits and veggies and yogurt...

Working out: I am being too lazy. I did fifteen minutes of stuff today. I had been shopping all day, I reasoned. I wanted to sit and put my feetsies up, I reasoned. (we did go to Target, BJ's, and Price Chopper....Evelyn and Olivia, who skipped their Environmental Conservation field trip, and Margaret who didn't feel well this morning, and Sonja who wanted to go too...then I actually picked Kathryn up from school from her lunchtime, she was texting on her ipod (someone gave her their old one) that she had a headache and wanted to come with us...I am too nice. We had way too much fun) Anyway, the school skippers and Camille and I walked and shopped and got tired.

Every day has it's share of good excuses. But from here on in I am going to suffer more, deny myself more, and get back in my groove. I was in such a good mindset when I began this journey....if I could bottle up that mindset, it be worth a million dollars a is hard to get it back! When I lost the baby, I felt like I was suffering enough, so I let myself have more things. I didn't gain any weight, but I didn't lose any, either. Anyway, I shall get tough again. I really want to just be done with being so heavy so I can do more and feel better.

Once those numbers go down a little more, I am going to start posting my weight, starting weight, ect...but not until they go down a little more. Ha, I am still too embarrassed.

Oh is quiet in here, Rosie and I are the last ones up. And I am tired. If I am going to listen to those niggling thoughts in the morning, I had better get rested up...

who skipped school today?

Not Camille, she's too cool for school...I think she learns more here than the other kids are learning at school anyway...

Little Miss Taster

Miss Help Mommy Make Cookies...the candy stacked on the floor in the background is not for us, it is for our church soccer tournament weekend
Little Miss Ice Cream Cone Pajamas...she said she didn't have any dreams last night, because there were, "No pictures behind my eyes!"

Margaret Cheryl has a tummy ache. Sonja K. has a case of the I Know You Are Going she didn't feel well as the bus was about to arrive. rrr. Now she is playing dollhouse with Camille and the kitten. Evelyn and her cousin Olivia are here, skipping out on a field trip.

My nursing school students are funny. Aaron looked at my arm yesterday afternoon and said to Mirielle, "Mom would need the Large Adult cuff." Excuse me? Mirielle said that I wouldn't. Thank you, Mirielle.

Today we are going shopping. Will we have fun? Will we get some coffee somewhere? Will we find bargains? Will I remember sensitive toothpaste for Mirielle, and hair stuff for Mali? Will I get everything we need for the Victory Grill this weekend? Will I come home refreshed and relaxed and ready to make dinner for these guys? ha.

Tomorrow night is the Town Board meeting, the neighbor has appealed the Board's decision, and wants to go ahead with his Mud Bog racing. Mud Bog racing in my back yard. He told the local paper he has room to park 500 cars. FIVE HUNDRED CARS, parked next to my yard. Yay. He already told me that if we continue to oppose him, he will cut down every single tree so we won't even have a sound or visual buffer. So we are dealing with a real gentleman here. I am trying to prepare some things to say...just what I love doing, talking in front of a crowd of people. But it must be done, we need to stand up for what we want. Paul is conveniently out of town, and my older kids do not want to go to this meeting. I don't blame them, but I have warned them that if they don't go and this gets approved, I WILL blame them. rrr.

I walked this morning, and ran a little bit feels great. Too bad the pounds aren't falling off like I would like them too...must be the cookie dough that found its way into my mouth yesterday...blah...I have a huge plan, involving losing ten pounds a month....for like 8 months...but if NO pounds come off per week, my plan won't work. I need a personal trainer....and more discipline.

There are so many sad things in life. This morning while walking, I heard gunshots, very close by. (I question whether it is safe to walk these roads during hunting season). Before I knew what I was even thinking, I imagined the night my brother shot himself. I was not there, but my brother and sister-in-law heard the gunshot so closeby, then saw Billy's dog Shelly running to them with her leash attached to her collar...they KNEW something was wrong, Billy did not let go of that leash. Blah, the sadness came over me like a suffocation. My poor brother...Billy, why? And my poor brother Tom who found can one get over something like that? Everytime I see him I just want to give him a hug. Time passes and things get better, but every once in a while, oh my goodness it seems impossible to get past these things.

Life is stranger than fiction, as they say. And sadder sometimes too. But today I shall strive to see the good things. And believe in God, my God who has called and chosen me...that He will send all things for my very best.

Monday, September 19, 2011

do they possibly know how much I love them?

It gets busy here. Today, Camille and I made chocolate chip cookies, super yummy ones. She stirred the flour mixture, splashing it all over her chair and the table. Then she "killed the eggies", which means she got to stab them and mix them up. She also added the chocolate chips. We baked two pans, then headed in for our stories and naptime in my big comfy bed...I am so bad, I fell asleep before she did. I could feel her petting my face as I conked...she is a sweetie, she always tells me I am pretty, and that she loves me.

I didn't mean to really fall asleep, but who can resist a big comfy bed, snuggled up to Camille, with the fan on? An hour later I sneaked out and realized I had no idea what was for dinner. I took out a bag of frozen chicken, marinating in lemon pepper. Added to four cans of cream of celery soup, some frozen peas, a can of corn, and some potatoes...a quick and easy pot of soup on a rainy chilly afternoon, followed by cookies out of the oven. I was good, had only one cookie,...but I did have a few other tastes broken off other cookies, which I do know really count....I had two servings of the soup though, with very few potatoes in my bowl. It came out nice and yummy.

Anyways...homework and dinner and bedtime and stories and the printer wouldn't work well for Mali who hurt her leg running again, and there is Never a Dull Moment.

I sat here this evening and ate too many nuts, mixed roasted almonds/cashews/walnuts. They were yummy, and I should have just taken some and put the container away. But no, I had to eat them all up. rrr. All my discipline all day, and I go and do that.

Tomorrow we are going shopping. Camille told me she was going to be good and not ask for any toys. She will remind me every five minutes that she is indeed being good and not asking for anything. She really is a little sunshine.

Yes, I have much to be thankful for. But I still have a list of things I hate:

1. Homework. Poor Jonathan has four hours from the time he steps off the bus 'til the time he is tucked into bed, yet he has homework to do.

2. Days when I don't exercise. I went for my walk to day, but nothing else. I just couldn't make myself, didn't feel like it. blah.

3. Socks. Wearing them, washing them, matching them. blah.

4. When Paul goes away. Honestly, it is kind of nice to be the boss, yet I miss him, especially when the printer doesn't work for Mali.

5. Tearing school children away from their play for bedtime.

6. Waking school children up on cold mornings and sending them out the door.

Oh well...I am distracted...

aah, a new week....

Sometimes when I find myself complaining, I realize that, hey, I am ALIVE. When things seem like they go on and on, I remember that there WILL be an end someday. We don't get to live forever. Puts things in perspective.

Good way to start out a Monday post, right?

It is a good day. Cold and crisp and sunny. Paul is gone for the week, but he went with a co-worker so he left me the minivan, which Joseph drove to college today. Joseph's car, which he inherited from Abigail (who was so nice to pass it on instead of selling it for like a hundred bucks), is old. The driver's side door does not open from the outside. But it has only 60 something thousand miles on it, and it runs.

Anyway, enough Off On A Tangent, it is a good day. Camille is up and she hasn't stopped talking since she woke up. She seems to have realized she has no one to play with, and keeps saying so. She also noticed the kitten purrs, and is fascinated that it means he is happy. He was in her room cuddling with her as she played with her dolls. She is busy now with a whole bag of new-to-her shoes, sandals, and sneakers from her cousin Grace.

It's funny because each week seems like such a blank slate, and I think I will accomplish so much...then each day is SO crazy and busy and my head spins...yet by the weekend, I will be thinking the next week is a blank slate.

Finally, finally, finally, I ordered a new foot pedal for my sewing machine!!! I ordered one a while ago, it came, and it was the wrong one. Anyway, I bought one on ebay last night, and it should be coming in a few days. First project: a Rapunzel dress for the spoiled youngest child. Then perhaps I will see about replacing the valances and curtains around here. I get so sick of them after a while, and never find nice ones that I can afford. Actually, I rarely find nice ones that I can't afford, either.

I am the referee for my teenagers. They mostly get along and have great fun together, but then there are the times one borrows another's clothes, or hair dryer, or loses something that belongs to another, and they just rrr, the claws come out. I say Forgive Her, Say You're Sorry, Be Nice, Don't Return Evil For Evil, ECT. I hate it when there is fighting going on. I tell them it isn't fair for the little ones to hear it, they don't hear it from Dad and I. So they snarl softly.

In the morning.. there is so much going on in a short period of time...this morning, three college kids and five first trip kids were leaving at the same time...gathering their lunches from the 'fridge, getting breakfast...Aaron was the first in the car, honking for his sisters, which I am sure our older neighbors just of the girls asked me my opinion on her footwear, I didn't think it looked nice, didn't mean to make her cry, she asked! I forgot the Golden Teenage Fashion Rule: lie. It didn't help that four other kids jumped and agreed with me though. So we all had to hear how this poor girl has NO SHOES. They all say this at one time or another, but if it is true, why are there three or four hundred pair over by the door?

Camille wants to go someplace today. I think we should stay home and get some work done. hmm.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

why am I crying again?

I hate whiners. Ha, that sounds meaner than I meant it to. But I am an optimistic person, and don't find much patience with people who see the dark side of everything, and dwell on the negative things....well. Well. Here I am, feeling SO darned sad. Most of the time I am fine, but sometimes it feels like such an effort to live my normal life! I feel tired and like I just can't deal with one more thing. I don't want to feel this way, but it is the way it is right now.

But there are times and seasons in life, and this is just a trial in a series of trials, weighed and measured for me by God himself. (Sonja just came and told me she is going to be a Rock Star for Camille is asking me to make her a Rapunzel dress, she says, "Pinky promise you will?" um, no.) Anyway, this is a season for me to live by faith, moment by moment.

It is interesting to feel like I have no strength of my own and to trust that God will give me the patience I need to get through each situation.

I did a cheaty little work out this afternoon, then sat down here with my second cup of coffee for the day, and a handful of dark chocolate chips. I read dark chocolate is healthy. I actually don't care that much if it is, I just like feeling okay about eating it. ha.

Dinner tonight will be a cheaty dinner, too. Frozen chicken taquitas, I don't know what they will be like but they were cheap at BJs. And maybe a big salad. We had a yummy lunch at church today after the baptism, made by Emily: we had chicken breast which she marinated overnight, some in Buffalo hot sauce...baked potatoes with sour cream and bacon and butter (I skipped this part), and a really good garden salad, loaded with good stuff. She also served brownies, which I also skipped.

Abigail took Jonathan to Walmart, most of the kids are playing outside. They cleaned the van for me, six of them, without any help from Paul or I. It is a big van and it gets pretty messy. Perhaps they will be careful not to throw anything on the floor for a couple days now.

I find that I am getting sick and tired of trying to lose weight. But I do not WANT to get sick and tired of it. I want to hang in there and lose lots more. I do NOT want to gain back what I have lost, either. No, my blood pressure is lower, my acid reflux/heartburn is HISTORY....I do not want to gain it back. I have to keep up this battle for the rest of my life, blah. Why do I have to love apple pie so much? The pies I made came out just right, nice and tart, the crust was made with shortening and butter, and was flaky and good...I put sugar on top before baking, so the top crust was of the girls said it would be good with some of that caramel ice cream, but I put my foot down about that. Now if someone would go in the kitchen and eat that last piece that is calling me relentlessly...I could just go eat it and get it over with. Nah.

This week will be busy enough. I have to do shopping for next weekend's soccer tournament at church, go to the town board meeting about this mud bog plan, and Paul will be out of town for work all week. He will be back on Friday night, then he will work at the Dome on Saturday for a football game while I am out at church with the kids selling candy and watching soccer games. Never a dull moment.

I am thinking it might be fun to get that sewing machine fixed and make a Rapunzel dress. hmm.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

one hundred twenty three pictures of the kitten?!!

playing games

Suzanne with the princesses

Charlotte Claire and Camille
Evelyn Joy
She's not quite four, but she can write her name

The oldest and the youngest: Emily so nicely let Camille put barettes in here hair last night.

Sonja and Kitty...

Okay, all of the pictures aren't of the Kitten, just most of them. He is Mr. Popular around here.

Tonight was Family night, everyone was here except for Benjamin, and we missed him. We played a huge game of Scattergories, in which we made up our own categories, consisting of things like, "Famous Pies", and "Depressing words", and "Things that make Mirielle mad...". Eleven of us at the table, eating pie, oh heavenly pie, and laughing our heads off. I really think it was a stress-relieving evening.

Today is done, today was fun, tomorrow is another one...(dr. seuss)

apple pie day!

There are four apple pies in the oven. I always forgot how long it takes to make apple pies. Peeling the apples and mixing the sugar/cinnamon/flour, making the crust...rolling it out. I did have help, but the wrong sort of help. The two little princesses and Jonathan rather hindered the process, yet they enhanced it at the same time. (Emily took Suzanne and Sonja shopping, Abigail took Kathryn and Evelyn apple picking, Samuel is at Nate's house, Margaret is at my sister's house, leaving me here with Paul and the three youngest, and the four college students...Mirielle, Joseph, Aaron, and Mali. Joe and Aaron both requested apple pie, it must be the weather, cool and crisp...)

So...the college students have been in their rooms doing homework all day, and are just emerging to have some snacks. I just sat down after getting those pies in the oven and washing all the dishes...I sat down with some coffee, and my favorite yogurt special: light rasberry yogurt with blueberries, nuts, and a handful of chocolate chips...

Our living room is filled with toys today. More than usual. Because of the chilliness outside, they have been playing mostly in here. There are four dollhouses set up, and a waffletown city, plus some Barbies. They went out to swing for a bit, and are back in here....

So basically nothing exciting is going on around here. Oh, the scale is back down again, which is sweet! We went to the pool last night, and I ran a little tiny bit again today...

Abigail is sitting here talking to me, so I am distracted.

Friday, September 16, 2011


What makes me happy? Right now, something very simple...Mr. Kitty Kitten a.k.a Mr. Swanson, curled up under my chin, running his little engine as loud as can be. Rosie is taking her morning nap in her cage, and Camille is still sleeping. was rainy and cold, and Mali was home. We decided to take the books back to the library before we owned them, and then stopped at a different Wegman's than we usually go to. It is a warm and welcoming grocery store, with excellent private label items, super yummy bakery stuff, superior meats and produce, and good prices on most things. We decided to get some of the Wokery food to go...I got a little of this and a little of that, and when it was weighed at the register, it was a pound. Ouch, I ate a pound of food. Way way too much. Some of it WAS broccoli, but still. I had only salad for dinner last night.

Mali and I decided to go to Target while we were out, and she found a few pair of running shorts on clearance. I noticed that a princess pool toy that was marked down last week, which Camille had asked for and I said No - it was Too Expensive, was marked down more, to 75% I picked it up and handed it to Camille...she said, "Oh, is this cheap now so I can get it?" rrr. She has caught on. Then later in the store she found something and asked in her NOT quiet way, "Can I get this when it gets cheap?"

Emily came for a visit last evening. She brought four of the kids to soccer, and listened to the younger kids talk about school. She reminds me of my mother the way she gives them the time of day.

I think that is such a foundation for life for kids, to listen to them and talk with them, it gives them security and makes them feel like they matter.

I did talk to my son Benjamin the other day. I can't remember if I wrote about that yet. He is deploying in February, but is coming home for Christmas. He plans to drive from Washington State to New York state because Ashley will be staying here when he leaves for Afghanistan, and they need to bring their car here, and perhaps a U-haul with their stuff in it. His assignment in Afghanistan sounds terribly dangerous, it un-nerved me, but then I realized that as his mother, I cannot be flipping out in fear, I have to be positive and encouraging! He sounded nervous enough about it. So I reminded him that God has had His hand on him all his life, this will be no exception. Jesus did say that we can't add anything to our lives by being anxious. And that His yoke is easy and His burden is light.

Tonight we have big plans. The older kids are going to the Friday night youth meeting, so Paul and I will take Suzanne and Sonja and Jonathan and Charlotte Claire and Camille to the rec. center pool. It is great fun for them, especially because they love playing with Daddy in the water. It is fun for us because it tends to tire them out...ha, evil motives.

I ran a little again yesterday when I took Rosie for her second walk...not a long stretch, just long enough to show me what terrible shape I am in. I huffed and was downright discouraging at first. So I ran a little bit again this wasn't magically easier yet.

Camille is up now, wearing a sweet little flannel nightgown, cuddled up to me in my chair...the Kitten AND Camille...yes, life is good.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

cold drizzly rainy day...

Who in their right mind would get up at 6:30 on a chilly dark morning and take their big stupid dog for a walk in the rain? hmm. I did get sidetracked, made pancakes for the kids, and put the coffee on..then I took Miss Bad Dog for a cheaty-short walk. We skipped the hill. It was pouring out, which doesn't bother me too much, but also the bus was going to be coming, and Rosie is a nut when it comes to School Buses. So I have to take her on another walk later. The fun part of this morning's walk? I jogged back! I did stop once because jogging is so foreign to me I thought I was going to trip and fall, but Rosie loved it. She kept looking back at me with a huge grin on her face saying, "Are we really going this fast! YES!"

So there is hope for me, the Laziest Woman Alive.

Charlotte Claire has some strong opinions about her kindergarten clothes. She did not want to wear the cute little polka-dotted rainboots. She did not want to wear the colorful raincoat. So she won, she went out the door in her little plaid sneakers and her fleece jacket.

Joseph and Mali are both home, sleeping of course. They do not have classes today. That means I can take Rosie on a longer walk later, yay. It also means perhaps we shall get some seriously overdue library books returned to the far-away library.

So...Tereza asked if Paul ever wants things to be more orderly around here. He has sort of given up, I think. I had to train him to accept the toys in the living room. I have always liked to sort of play with the kids with their toys/watch them play, never wanted to just shuffle them off to their rooms to play...add this to my Toy Addiction (especially dollhouse stuff), and yes, there are toys in here. We try to keep it neat, and picked up between playtimes, but is obvious at all times that kids live here. Paul is neat and clean, takes care of his own things, does his own laundry, makes his own lunches every night. I know I feel more stressed when it is overly messy, so I try to keep it to a minimum if I can...there were days and months and years when I tried my best to keep it neater, but it was like hitting my head against the wall...sometimes he would come home from work and just start cleaning up. It would bother me and make me feel like I wasn't doing enough, but after a while I realized that he just liked it less stressful, like I did.

There are some things that neither of us like, things that make it seem crazy around here:

1. Screaming. If they slammed their finger in the door or someone pulled their hair, fine. But screaming as a part of regular life or in play, nah.

2. Slamming doors and jumping on the couch.

3. Running through the living room, except for in the winter/rainy days when they pick up the toys and run around the circle that is the kitchen/living room...over and over again until we can't take it anymore.

4. Really loud talking/interupting/arguing....

5. Shoes on in the house...

Anyway...we seem to be on the same page as far as the house goes, mostly. He has more energy than me and would keep it cleaner, but he doesn't clean the way I clean, so I am fine with it my way. ha. (he likes under the couches clean, so when it seems the very most inconvenient, he decides to clean under them...)(he does find some really good stuff under there)

So...yesterday afternoon was interesting around here. It isn't always smooth sailing. We can sow things into our children, try our best to be good examples, but they are human, and even though they might KNOW how to behave, they don't always put it into practice. It gets really challenging when several of them are upset about things at the same time....

Here's what happened:

After a busy day of cleaning, mopping the kitchen, playing with Camille, ect., we went to my comfy bed with a stack of story books. By book #4, my eyes were closing and I could barely form the words...I conked. She conked. Then the Propane Man pulled into the drive way with that truck that drives Rosie crazy...bark, bark, bark, bark...blah. I was wide awake. I had slept for FIVE minutes. Wide awake yet exhausted. So...I got up.

After making up a chore list for the kids, greeting them when they came in, and hearing some school horror stories (one kids was late in Suze's class because he had to go to the bathroom! what a good reason to get yelled at! blah) Anyway, I decided to work out. I put on my sneakers, and tried to do some stair stepping...Mom, Mom, Mom...blah, I love them, but when I have my earphones in, please, I am trying to get some exercise legs are already protesting, don't give me more reasons to say Forget It. Then Mali wants to go to school to watch a cross-country meet, which seems ridiculous to me. I tell her to ask Joe. I start really getting into my exercise. She comes back. Joe can't, too much homework. Ask Aaron. Step, step, step...Aaron can't, too busy. Blah. I ignore her and go get on the treadmill. I am going really fast when I am informed that one child threw a cup of milk at another child in the kitchen, and won't clean it up because it was the child who offended him who was at fault. rrr. I try to ignore this, but after 8 minutes of listening to slamming around and wondering if things are okay up there, I give up. blah. I took Mali to school. Straightened out the fight. Directed the clean-up...

I know, boring details, but I just want to make the point that it isn't always smooth sailing. Kids are kids, they rub elbows, they have demands, they talk back...I am there in my invisible striped shirt with my invisible whistle, tired and sick of it, yet I can't just quit and walk away. It seems like there is no goodness in me, yet I have to still be good. It is by the grace of God I got through yesterday afternoon without losing it!

Also...I am okay with losing the baby, 90% of the time. I am fine, normal, functioning...just once in a while ouch. It is getting better mostly.

This brave little kitten is a pain in the neck sometimes. He sits on the arm of the chair washing his little face, all satisfied because he cleaned out my oatmeal bowl. He sees me put it down on the table next to my chair and runs over for a taste. He thinks the kitchen table is a good place to run around, and even hops over onto the counters...he has some lessons to learn. He tries to get outside, and we want him to be an indoor cat. (fleas, cars, ect.) He beats the heck out of Rosie's tail, climbs all over her, drinks her water, I can't believe how much she puts up with. He is on top of her cage right now while she takes her morning nap. He bugs the heck out of her, all with such an innocent little face.

Yes, life is good.

The lasagna that Mirielle made was good, too. Too good. I made a big bowl of spinach for myself, cooked with lemon-pepper seasoning, and had a few tablespoons of lasagna on top of it, with some extra sauce and hot sausage slices.

Days with Camille are sweet. She likes to Do Her Homework. I give her some old school papers, pens, crayons, a glue stick, scissors...and she keeps busy forever, counting and coloring and circling things and making letters. She was hesitant to go to her room to play dollies at first, but now she is fine with it. She took a long bath by herself yesterday and enjoyed being Boss of the Faucet. She asks me things, and if I say yes, she says, "Do you promise? Pinky promise?" I don't know where she learned that. She doesn't act like a baby at all, rather like a miniature grown-up. She is very sweet, hardly ever contrary, and tells me all the time how much she loves me. She is also very huggy and affectionate. I just want time to go by slowly....

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

questions, anyone?

"Designated chores and household responsibilities." I do not even like that phrase, but I should grow up one of these days I guess.

We have tried many different systems around here. What seems to work best is this: Some chores are assigned weekly. Other things I assign on a daily basis, giving jobs to who seems to have the most free time to help. Aaron is taking 18 credit hours right now in college, and he helps out when he can. That is good enough for me. Joseph is also in college: he took the kids to and from soccer practice the other night. That is good enough for me. Mirielle is swamped right now in nursing school, but she made two pans of lasagna last night for tonight's dinner, plus helped with the kids and cleaned up the kitchen. All without being asked. That is good enough for me. Each afternoon, on these school days, I will ask someone to help me with dinner, someone to set the table, and depending on what needs to be done, unload the dishwasher or maybe take Charlotte and Camille out to swing, or fold towels, ect. Sometimes the one I ask to help me in the kitchen is a child who I feel needs time with just me. Same with when I ask one of them to help me with putting clothes away, or to help me grill the chicken. It isn't so much about the chores, it is about having it good with the kids. They also need to learn how to do things well, and sometimes are asked to come back and sweep a second time, or re-wash something. Sometimes one of them will decide on their own to clean up the living room, or I will initiate it and get them all to pitch in. After dinner each night, I will ask someone who didn't help with preparation to do the dishwasher, someone else to clear, someone to sweep, wash the table, pans, ect. Having so many kids is nice, because the resposibilities get spread around and no one is over-burdened.

I try to give my kids as much freedom as I possibly can to make things that sound good to them, as long as they clean up after themselves. We eat our dinners together every night, but other meals on weekends and during summer are staggered throughout the day. We are a unit, but a unit made up of individuals who need to be themselves.

Laundry: I don't "make" anyone do their own laundry. They just seem to come to the point where they want to do their own. That ties up the washer and dryer and makes things more complicated, but it is how it is around here. The good part is I can ask them to put something in with their stuff if I really need it washed, and that they can wash a load of towels or bedding for me if I ask them to.

Trash: Sam takes the trash out everyday with out being asked. If he is not here, Kathryn will take it out.

Their rooms: I never ask the older ones to clean their rooms, they keep them clean on their own. They just do. The two rooms shared by the three kids, and the two little girls: I have to help them, and get after them...and they get pretty messy pretty fast.

Our house is not sparkling clean, but it isn't dirty, either. I don't like dirt, or sticky stuff, or crumbs. The little girls still get a clean wet washcloth served with their food so they never get down from the table with sticky hands. I have always insisted the kids wash their hands after eating when they were little and it sticks with them as they grow up. (obviously BEFORE eating, too)

My personal opinion is that it is hard to function with too much clutter and mess. I don't like it. Back in the years when I had babies and toddlers and was tired, all I wanted was my house cleaner. I had very little free time, and was always asking the kids to help clean up. I don't think it hurt them any.

I still really value a clean house. It is never as clean as I would like it, but we LIVE here, and it needs to be a comfortable place, too. The kids need to play, we need to stretch out, take off our socks, throw them on the floor...well, I try to find out WHO threw them on the floor, but no one ever did.

Anyway, the kids do have responsibilities around here. When they are in school, they have very little free time. The younger ones have four hours from the time they get off the bus to the time they get tucked in at night, which is why I let them stay home sometimes, but that is Off On A Tangent. I don't like to have them do too much on school days, especially if they have homework too.

One way I have dealt with kids who fuss when they are asked to do a job is to tell them to nevermind, I will do it myself. They HATE that. Most of them. There are one or two who will gladly let me.

Anyway anyway anyway, at the end of the day it isn't how clean the house is that is the most important thing, it is if there is peace and warmth in the house. Anyone who can accomplish both of those things, good for you! I have had trouble balancing the two, because when I push too much and want things Just So, there isn't peace. I know I am not the best manager, and that I have often let things slide to go on fun adventures, then suddenly noticed a million things that needed to be done immediately if not yesterday...

Usually once a week during the school year I make up a job list, assigning each child something that doesn't get covered on a regular day, like windows or mirrors or putting away clothes. It works wonderfully, gets a lot done quickly.

Laundry again: I always put the clothes away as I take them out of the dryer. I hang everything up that is for "bye-bye", and fold the play clothes and put them away. If I leave a load in the dryer for some reason, and one of the kids does laundry, the clothes end up on the couch. That is where the Couch Monster comes in. Also in the Couch Monster: clothes I got out for someone that maybe didn't fit right, something that can be worn a second time, things the kids pick up when cleaning the living room and don't feel like putting away properly...the pile is very small right now, but I think I will put it on the list of Things To Do.

We had fun going out to dinner last night. Six of my sister's seven daughters went, along with my Emily and Abigail, and my sister Cheryl, and I. Cheryl and I were very well behaved, eating-wise anyway. We chose the salads with chicken breast, orange slices, raisins, toasted almonds, roasted red peppers...the bread with olive oil dip was too good...and the dessert: homemade canolli. When the waiter was mentioning we might be too full for dessert, he said a few times there were only a few "finishers"...meaning those who finished their whole dinners. Yes, the girls all brought home some of their pasta dinners for lunches today. But come on, my sister and I had SALADS. Of course we finished them! rrr. It was nice to spend a bit of time with Becky, who is going to Norway today for a whole year. wah.

I also found out that I am not ready to be out in public among people yet. How many weeks has it been since I lost the baby? A few, maybe three...and I can't stop thinking about it. I don't want to dwell on it, I want to get past it but the hurt is still there. I don't remember it being this bad before. I think it is because I saw that heartbeat, which made my hopes soar, even when I was spotting and bleeding, I saw that heartbeat and had hope. I never lost a baby before after seeing the heartbeat, my first miscarriage was at 12 weeks, but I hadn't had a sonogram. blah. Anyway, one of my nieces found out she is having twins on the Monday after I had the d&c...I couldn't be happier for her, but ouch. During our meal last night, we were talking about strollers and car seats, things I love, and it just hit me that I had lost this baby, and I wanted to walk out and go someplace and hide. It hit me so suddenly, caught me off guard, that I feel like I don't even want to be around anyone anymore. I got home and cried until I couldn't cry anymore. Honestly, the hardest part is that God sent this baby in the first place, why did He take it back? Did He not hear me pray and beg and plead for its life? And immediately upon admitting that I struggle with this, I feelhorrible because I do not want to question God. I know in my heart that He sends what's best for us. I guess it is part of , "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.."(proverbs 3 v.5)... I comfort myself with knowing that tried faith is more precious than gold, and it is much more difficult to trust in the Lord when one has known sufferings...and I can't just jump to the finish line in this, there are tears and thoughts and situations that I have to go through....I think I wanted to heal too quickly, and just brushed things under the rug.

So...I have my work cut out for me. In the house, in my thoughts, in my heart...

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

school skippers

New York State law says the kids have to be in school unless they have a valid excuse to be absent, like being sick.

What about the child who forgot to do her homework until five minutes before the bus came, then started crying because her pencil wasn't working, and her brother had put a crayon in the electric sharpener and broke it, and she just couldn't finish it fast enough?

What about the other child who came home the day before with a headache, then claimed she threw up during the night? The one who is playing happily with her three year old sister right now?

The poor little boy, he went to school...he said, "fine, you'll just have to come pick me up from the nurse's office...", because he hurt what he referred to as, "a bone in my neck, it bent sideways." I told him bones don't bend, but I do think he might have strained a muscle in his neck. Either he is a really good actor, or he was really in pain, because he walked around here all morning favoring it. He has already missed a day of school the first week, blah.

So two are home. One is playing with Camille, the other is in her bed, the place I sent her when she just plain refused to go get on the bus, because she had too many tears and didn't want to go to school with a "crying face". In my heart I do not blame her, but...

The real problem here is me. I should have made sure she did the homework yesterday.


After the dust settled, and it became clear that two little girls would be home from school today, I thought, "Yippee!"

Yesterday went by without me going to the store, or getting a nap. But I exercised. Every muscle in my body protested, but I did it anyway. The scale had begun to creep up a little in the wrong direction, probably because of the Evil Cookiewich, and the Molasses Cookie Lunch from Saturday. And the nibbles of the big pretzel. And the bites of Sabarro Pizza from the Dome. blah.

Yes, I do know I have an unhealthy relationship with food, one in which I just plain love food. Not ALL food, just most of it. Do I need therapy? Probably. But at the end of the day, it comes down to one thing: denying myself. I can do that. I know I can. I am also conditioning myself to become emotionally divorced from eating for comfort. So if you read this and think to yourself, "This lady is nuts. All she thinks about is donuts.", you are absolutely right. But as I always say, who ISN'T crazy? About something or other, anyway.

Tomorrow my sister's daughter Becky is leaving to go to Norway for a year. She is Emily's age, and she is such a good girl. So much fun, so faithful and wholehearted and good and giving. Jonathan will miss her sorely. Tonight some of us are going out to dinner to say our goodbyes, and to celebrate Cheryl's (her mom, my sister) birthday. Emily and Abigail are going, and a few of Cheryl's seven girls, or all of them I don't should be great fun, and I am looking forward to it. I shall starve myself all day, ha. No, I will behave. I do have SOME self-control. Emily has some killer heals to wear, we are supposed to dress up. hmm.

Today I have to go to the store for sure. Camille is having the last of the milk in her cereal, and the bread is gone. We are running out of other things too, so I have to go. This morning is Story Hour, and I have to miss it because I have the other two girls here. Poor Camille.

Rosie is in her cage. She is supposed to be taking her morning nap. Kitten likes to antagonize Rosie, so he is climbing all over the cage. Rosie is fit to be tied. Whatever that means. I believe Katie wrote a comment saying something like, "Rosie and a kitten! Just what you need." She was absolutely right, it is crazy. But it is also vastly entertaining, as long as Rosie doesn't hurt the kitty, which I don't think will happen...Kitty Kitten is just so brave and stupid! He actually stood on his back legs and batted Rosie in the nose a few times before hightailing it. Rosie just stood there.

School days are busy days. During the day, I can catch my breath and catch up on things around here, but when they get home, it is snacks and talking and homework and playing and running around outside, and then dinner time and bed time...the college kids are so busy with homework and working out in the few hours they have, I don't ask them to do much around here. The other school kids are busy too, last night three of them went to soccer practice after dinner, Joseph nicely drove them for us. By the time we get them tucked in at night, blah I am tired. Then I prepare some lunches and get clothes out for the next day. There are always papers to look out and things to straighten out and stuff to remember.

These days are nothing compared to the days when we somehow did the same things with babies and toddlers, too. I feel sorry for my older kids sometimes when I think how crazy those times were. They seem okay, but I wish I could just go back in time and give them each a hug and tell them that I love them dearly....

Benjamin is coming home for Christmas! I do not know if he is deploying immediately afterwards, or in February or if I am even supposed to write anything on here about any case, I am looking SO forward to seeing him again, and Ashley.

It seems like every couple of days there is news of another soldier dying in Afghanistan. We are just a few hours away from Fort Drum, and there are losses from there too often. One of the guys who recently was killed was due to come home in 12 days to get married. 12 days.

Well, I should get myself out of this comfy chair and get moving. The Clothes Monster on the couch is not as giant as it was yesterday, but it did a little last night...someone threw a load of clean blankies there. Not difficult to fold and put away, just has to be done. I dried a comforter and sheet out on the deck, someone brought it in and put it in a chair. Is that really where it goes? Do I have to do everything myself? I did do lots of laundry yesterday, sorted things, put things away. I washed socks and matched them, yay! It was nice to be home all day long. Besides the laundry though, the same things I did yesterday have to be done today.