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

Monday, April 30, 2012

a day late and a dollar short

Today is Jonathan's birthday. He is eight years old. His teacher sent me a nice little note, saying that I was welcome to bring in a birthday treat to his class today, and stay from 2:30 to 2:50. (and not a minute more!,ha.) I also had the option to just send something in with him. But he liked the idea of me coming in! He said, "You have never done that, Mom!". So I agreed to come in. Then...the dentist appointment I made several months ago just happens to be for today. I can still make it in time for Jon's school Quickie Party, but it will be rushed. As per usual, I guess.

A few of the kids thought it would be good to remind me that I never came to school for THEIR birthdays. Well, I had my hands kinda full.

I have had my hands kinda full for several-everal years now. And I always feel like I am forgetting something or someone. I feel like no matter how hard I try, I am not going to accomplish all that I try to do. I will never get a Clean House Award. I didn't go to college. I read books and think, "I could have written that!", and see inventions that I have already thought the walking cane with a chair attached and the lights for sneakers (I saw them at Target!)...anyway, it's plain I will never be rich or famous.

And since Camille is up, and playing the ukelele she made out of a cereal box with rubber bands yesterday at Activity Club at church yesterday, I am distracted. We have to leave in like 45 minutes for the dentist, too. What was I thinking, making a morning appointment!!?

And it's probably good that I lost my train of thought, it looked like it was going in a bad direction. I would much rather count my blessings than feel sorry for myself.

So here is something that made me really happy:

Benjamin, as we all know, is in Afghanistan. He is at a remote outpost, with a small group of soldiers. He is a medic, as well as an infantryman. He goes out on patrol every single day. It is a stressful life, to say the least, but he is determined to make the most of it. So...the other day, they had a day off. A whole day, stretched before them. Then one of the Sgts. decided that the the tents were too single belonging of every single guy had to be carried out, the floors swept and mopped, and the things put back away neatly. Then a line of a song came to Ben, "Think that God can do a miracle within us..." He decided right then to take things right, that God always causes everything to work together for the good for those who love Him. And that made Ben happy. So he started joking that the pile of belongings looked like a garage sale....he said that he has noticed that when he really works on taking things right, the good spirit spreads to the other guys, and they get happy too. (he also mentioned that he has experienced when he has gotten upset and complained about things, it is contagious too). So he has decided that come what may, he will take what comes to him, from God's hand. What more could a mother ask for, for her son?

AND, the same day...Emily was sleeping, happily enjoying a day off from her usual 12 hour shifts as a nurse in medical intensive care. Then, her phone rang. WHERE ARE YOU? Oops, she was supposed to be at work, she thought she had the day off!!! As she got ready and headed to work, she was thinking BLAH thoughts....then the very same line from the very same song came into her mind, "Think that God can do a miracle within us...", and she decided that no matter what, she was going to be glad.

I was really really happy to hear that she had experienced the same thing on the same day as Benjamin. It shows that God is working. It is written in Rev. 2, 29, "He who has an ear, let him hear what the spirit speaks to the churches." When we sang that very song yesterday at church, I was very glad indeed.

So I go out and about with Kathryn and Evelyn and Camille...I will listen for what God has to say to me. It doesn't matter if I am smart and successful, or in my case, NOT smart and successful. The most important thing is how I take the trials, and that I let God mold me. When I stand before Him someday, I am very certain He is not going to ask me if I ever got that laundry room cleaned....

Sunday, April 29, 2012

sunday, a day of rest. ha.

Charlotte Claire and Camille are not only princesses, they are Monkey Rascals. They climbed up the bunkbed and into this baby carriage bassinet on top of the dresser. I didn't know this occurred until I found this picture on my camera, which is how I find out about alot of things. I did wonder how all the stuffed animals ended up on the floor.
Little Linnea (pronounced Lin ay a), the girl twin. Sitting in my chair. I had to scoop her up, of course.
Kathryn Grace holding Sebastian, the boy twin.
Four of the seven pizzas my boys made yesterday.
Aaron and Joseph, pizza makers.
Jonathan got a new remote control truck...and fluffy dog slippers from Abigail. His cousin Will wanted a turn.
Margaret on mandolin, having a good old time at Jon's party.
Jonny blows out the candles.

This break has lasted too long, the internet is going so slow. It forever to put up the pictures. Mirielle is baking the cookies for Jonathan's birthday at school tomorrow, and to send to Benjamin. I had one bit of Camille's, and one of Char's. I SO want to go have some dough. And a few cookies. But I shall not. I have had a handful of M&M's with some peanuts this afternoon, a few hours ago. So today I have had:

breakfast: whole oats with a spoonful of crunchy peanutbutter and lots of blueberries, no sugar.

Lunch: one piece of whole grain bread,(I usually don't eat bread), with crunchy peanutbutter and a small bit of rasberry jam.

snack: the peanuts and M&M's

snack: a vanilla lowfat sugar free yogurt with some toasted almonds on top.

phew. The house smells like cookies. I can't do this! Yes, I can. Yes, I can.

Dinner: I am going to head into the kitchen and make some homemade macaroni and cheese and some chicken, and some veggies.

Paul is out of town for the week. wah.

Do we really have to have dinner tonight? I don't feel like it.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

birthday party day here in the crazy house

We live out in the country. In the sticks. Rural. We are on the outer edge of internet service, which means it goes slow. Sometimes it goes down. This morning, it is not behaving, so I can't put up the pictures I want to post. The ones of the sun dappling through the trees from my walk this morning. I love when the sun is just coming up in the sky, and the shadows are long. I can't seem to post the picture of the Previously Evil Hill. Now it's just Rosie that's evil. She was horrid this morning, pulling like there's a fire to get to. She needs therapy. Then there were other pictures that Sonja took last night. Emily and Mali were here...there was a whole living room full of kids, laughing about the time years ago when Paul's shorts ripped in Sam's club, and he didn't care. Anyway, Sonja got some nice pictures. One of Mirielle with a Nerf gun in front of her face.

So it is probably just as well, the kids hate when I put such flattering pictures up of them.

Today is party day. First it is Clean Up Day, of course, like every day. And since there always has to be a monkey wrench, Emily is cleaning the kitchen at church today, and lots of my girls are going to help. That means...I will be doing lots of stuff myself. I am trying to enlist Suze to make the ice cream cake. And I think I can get Joseph and Aaron to help with the pizzas, I am plannning on making seven.

Poor Jonathan. He asked me the other day if I could please wrap his presents. I had bought a roll of nice birthday paper at the dollar store, but when I went to wrap the presents, I couldn't find it. So I got out the comics from last Sunday's paper, but couldn't find the tape. rrr. I bought new tape yesterday, but guess what? No one knows where it went. There must be a black hole around here somewhere, filled with socks and tape and scissors and hairburshes. And sharpened pencils, pens, and barettes.

He heard me asking where in the heck the tape was last night, and he said it would be fine if his presents were just in bags. Such a nice boy. But I am bound and determined to find the tape. And the wrapping paper. rrr.

Dr. appointment with twin babies yesterday: divine. They are scrumptious, those babies. What felt strange, was that I didn't know exactly how to comfort them. They cried after their shots, and wanted their Mama. She is super good with them, she nurses and bottle feeds them, and they keep her hopping. She seriously has her hands full, but in a good way. They are growing well and doing fine.

The kids got home from school not long after I got home from the appointment, so I made Evelyn go to the store with me. We needed ice cream and the cookies, more bananas and salad stuff. As we were leaving the store with our cart that did not co-operate, it had a funky front wheel, a nice older man let us go ahead of him, saying, "A woman's work is never done." So true! Home to put those groceries away, and make some meatballs for dinner, wash the day's dishes (our dishwasher is not working well these days), and serve dinner. The older kids had to leave for the youth meeting, so Paul and I cleaned up. We left with the youngest five, and visited his dad who is back from wintering in Florida. Camille thought she was going to play Tag in his living room, not. Anyway...Grampa asked me what I am going to do with myself when Camille goes to school...ha. Clean, do laundry, sit around on the comuputer. I didn't say the last part.

And now I have things to do.

Friday, April 27, 2012

how could I forget!!

I wrote the things that were so excellent about losing 54 pounds, and I forgot the primary reason I was so inspired to start in the first place, the Horrible Heartburn! It was the reason I went to the doctor one year ago. It had gotten so bad, it plagued me not just at night, but all day long. If I leaned over to pick something up, I had stomach acid in my throat. The over-the-counter meds I was taking no longer worked. As soon as I lost the first 12 pounds, it went a way. It hasn't come back. I don't miss it. I even forgot all about it, enough to not remember to list it as one of the bonuses of losing some pounds. Wow. We had chicken wings for dinner last night, hot Buffalo wings. I didn't have even a trace of heartburn.

The scale is not going down though, wah. I hope I am not stuck at this weight forever. But then, would it be the worst thing in the world if I was? Am I happy? I am. So I am going to work hard, but not get depressed about being so stuck.

Because it is one of the biggest mental tricks we play on ourselves...The Grass Is Always Greener thing. Instead of just being content, we always think that we Would Be Happier If...or When...but not one of us who walks this earth has the guarantee of tomorrow, so why waste time reserving our happiness for When or If?

Not that I won't jump with joy when I can get that smaller pair of jeans zipped. We have to have hope. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not yet seen.(Hebrews 11). I can have faith for something, but that doesn't meant I am unhappy until what I have faith for comes to be.

It was snowing on Rosie and I this morning. We didn't mind. My new sneakers keep my feet dry, so I am fine with the cold. I did put away all the winter coats and boots already though. oops.

It is one of those dark days again, the kind that are perfect for staying in and bumbling around the house. Good days for procrastinating, and not brushing my hair. But today I am not staying home. I am going to do something really fun: help Susan take the baby twins to the dr. for a check-up. The same dr. I have brought all my own babies to. Joseph is going to watch the twins' big brother William, who is one year older than Miss Camille. And Miss Camille.

Walk away from cleaning the house to spend some time with little babies? Notta problem.

Tomorrow we are having Jonathan's 8th birthday party. We are having homemade pizza, and for dessert, he does not want cake. He wants oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. He also likes ice cream cake, and Evelyn is an expert at that. So I am thinking to make the cookies for Monday, his actual birthday, for him to bring to school. And yes, I am almost drooling because oatmeal chocolate chip are delectable, I cannot resist them, but I will anyway. This is way too hard!!! Jonathan actually said to me yesterday, as he ate a cookie, "Mom, I bet it's hard for you not to have any of these." I don't walk around saying how much I would love a cookie...most of the time..anyway, I just told him that it is sometimes hard. "Sometimes hard", ha! HA. I feel like I mostly have this big hungry monster in me, wanting to just eat the Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs that Uncle Bob gave to Jonathan, and cereal...I love cereal, haven't had a bowl in like a year. I want to eat a stack of cookies. But I cannot. My dear conscience would not let me enjoy them anymore. When I ration it out that it is okay to have something, I do actually enjoy it. But when I know I shouldn't, it is tainted. I hope I am not crazy, is this all normal dieting behavior?

Anyway, the big hungry monster in me is mostly quiet, it isn't like I am constantly tortured.

And we are having a party for Mr. Jonathan, the finest little boy in the world. He is SO grown-up. I suspect he is on the outer edge of having Asperger's syndrome. He is always honest, he is obsessed with cars, he gets easily overwhelmed by multiple choices, and he takes things so seriously, beyond his years. If he ever asks for anything, he makes sure to tell me it is okay if I don't get it for him if it is too much. He ALWAYS apologizes if he gives me a hard time about anything. He is truly a good boy, so funny and smart and good. He is thrilled beyond imagination that Joseph got a new t.v. for his room, for video games, and gave Jonathan the old fat one. Jon has it hooked up to the Wii, and can play in there. Jonathan also has his own laptop....Emily bought a new one because her old one wasn't even turning on. She gave it to Jon, and he got it to work. He plays games on it, and it is fine. He takes really good care of it, and loves it. It is so funny.

Anyway. Time to move it move it. I have already put some laundry in the washer, but there is much more to do here. Ha, I just thought of something funny. My oldest daughter Emily is a nurse. She works on the medical intensive care floor. She sees alot of death, much suffering. One of her peeves is when a patient is not going to make it, and is just hooked up and being kept alive for no particular reason. She told me recently that Dad and I should really appoint a healthcare proxy. I told her I would do that, and it would be her. And if it ever comes to it, I told her, you can disconnect me, I said, if you really think I don't have a chance for recovery. But please, I said, give me just a little while to lie there doing absolutely nothing. I think I might enjoy it.

Eggs that

Thursday, April 26, 2012

afternoon break...

Ha, I write that as I actually have something to take a break from. Today has been a heavenly day. Camille and I stayed in the dark cozy house, all hemmed in by the cloudy skies. We did venture out for a short walk down the road so Rosie could go pee, and Camille could collect some pretty weeds. Other than that...I exercised, she played. I swept the floors, she played Polly Pocket. We cuddled a bit, ate some lunch together...we had leftover chicken breast sauteed in olive oil with seasoning, served on fresh spinach, with craisins, sunflower seeds, and slivered almonds. And bacon bits. And an orange Camille peeled for us. She is hilarious, the way she loves raw spinach. She calls it, "leaves". She prayed before lunch, she said, "Please God, know that I love you. And watch over Benny because I don't want him to die. One of my brothers already died, and I miss him every day. So please God don't let Benny die." I do not know where this child gets her drama. She was not even alive when we lost Robert, so she can't possibly miss him. And I don't know where she even got the idea that Benjamin is in danger. But I guess a four year old can figure out that being, "in war" means "danger".

We are having some issues with flooding in the downstairs, in Sam's bedroom, unfortunately. It has been really rainy, and it is seeping in. He is moving all his stuff into the hallway, I think he might abandon the room until we can do something about it. blah, it's always something.

Joseph and Kathryn went to the post office to mail a guitar to Benjamin. They are also going to get a birthday present for Jonathan, his party is going to be on Saturday. 8 years old already!

When they were leaving, I looked in my purse for the van keys, and found a pumpkin spice flavored Nip that my sister gave me a few months ago. It is really good with my coffee. Thank you, Cheryl, I am finally trying it! The keys weren't in my purse, they were in the van. Who left them there? Me? One of the kids said, "Mom, you shouldn't do that." Well you know dear, I didn't do it on purpose. We moms make mistakes too.

Having teenagers is a good thing. If taken right, the parent can come to some real humility. Everything I have ever said to one of the kids has been said back to me by a teenager. I am beginning to understand how it has been for them when I have said things that didn't need to be said, like, "Well, you have to THINK next time." Or, "That's what you get." Or, "Think before you speak." Sowing needs to be done in peace. When things happen, it usually is better to be quiet. Parents can stir up so much wrath, thinking it is their "right" to say whatever they want, without realizing how difficult it is for the poor kids to take it when they are already upset about something. Then on top of it, the parent doesn't let the kid defend himself or talk back AT ALL. ouch for the kid. I am learning though!

How did this get to be about parenting? There are no rules that work for one and all, it is really all about being patient, being patient, praying for more patience, praying for wisdom, and suffering. Just because I am The Mom doesn't mean I get to have the last word. I want peace, I want to have it good with my kids, I want to be a good example. Love covers a multitude of sins.(1 peter, 4 v.8)

Soccer practice has been cancelled for tonight, which figures, because I actually prepared dinner so they would have time to eat before they went, for once. There are ten pounds of chicken wings in the oven, a loaf of Vienna bread thawing on the counter, and three pounds of broccoli to be microwaved. The wings are done, and smell so good. I will melt some butter, mix it with hot sauce, and make most of the wings Buffalo style. The rest I will toss with barbecue sauce for the younger kids.

Samuel is going camping this weekend with some of the boys from church, up in the Adirondacks. It will be around 18 degrees Friday night, and they are sleeping in a lean-to. Sounds fun... not! I just gave him a huge (56 ounce) bag of M&M's to take.

Evelyn just came back from a run in the rain.

I worked out today, and have been pretty good about eating well...but. I took out a huge package of frozen cookies that I had gotten at BJ's for $2.99 a few months ago...chocolate chip, pumpkin chocolate chip, and chocolate fudge....and baked them up for the kids to have after school. I put on a pot of coffee for Margaret, Sam, and I, and stayed the heck away from the cookies. I did eat some of the chips that broke off when they were still frozen, so I vowed not to have any of the baked cookies. They smelled heavenly. I just took them off the trays and walked away. I microwaved four strawberries, cut them up with my spoon, added a lowfat sugar free yogurt and fifteen honey roasted peanuts, and voila! My afternoon snack.

Today after I exercised, I Tryed Things On. A skirt I bought several months ago finally fits! And I can get one pair of pants zipped without lying on the bed...but they are still too tight. Progress though! The scale does tell a story, but not always the WHOLE story. And I can't just compare my progress with others...I just have to keep going, not give up, and one of these days that scale will go down.

Time to get moving again, this break has been too long.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

my baby and I....

My baby is getting too big!! Do you like the side of the 'fridge? The stovetop? Paul's backpack on the counter with the coffeepot? Joseph with the kitty kitten in the background? Sam took the picture, then he said it was "terrible". So I thought it would be nice to put it up, my nice clean house and my baby.

too fat and too tired

But working hard on an attitude adjustment here. I am getting sick and tired of being so heavy. I had it all planned out, to lose this weight. I would suffer, and I would get thin. I suffered. The pounds came off. Even after I lost the baby, I got back in the groove. I lost the weight I gained in Jamaica, and maintained well over the dreaded holidays. Then this gallbladder thing threw me for a depressing loop. Week after week of working hard and exercising, and blah. I am the same weight this morning as I was like six weeks ago. It is No Fair. Suffering SHOULD equal results. So I think perhaps I should suffer more. blah, I do not want to suffer anymore. Sometimes I think back to the blissful days when I didn't care what the heck I ate, the days when I baked cookies if they sounded good, and I actually ate them. With very little remorse. I had buns on my burgers, and actually ate potatoes. And bagels. Yum. And if I wanted a bowl of ice cream, I had one.

Okay, enough of that. The GOOD things about being 54 pounds lighter now:

I am not as afraid of breaking chairs, although I did break one last week. But it was an old chair, and really on it's last leg.

My feet and legs don't ache like they used to. I would be standing there cooking, and just aching with pain.

My back feels better.

I have more energy. Not tons yet, but more than I had.

I got to get new underwear. Not that I threw out all of my old ones yet, they are still perfectly good underwear! A bit baggy, but on those stay at home days, who cares? Okay, some of them fall down.

I wear jeans now. I still don't look like I want to look, but I feel somewhat "normal". Although it really really bothers me that I feel better about myself now even though I am the very same person I was before.

I am not terrified of stairs. This doesn't mean I am the first one to the top, no, I still bring up the rear.

My blood pressure is better, which was the initial reason I finally made the leap to lose.

I no longer have to shop in the big size stores. I wear a regular large or x-large shirt now, and a 16 or 18 bottoms. That alone is amazing to me.

The extra large men's shorts that I wore when I first started exercising last year are really baggy on me. The first time I put them on, they were so snug I thought they were gonna rip.

So now that we have determined that my struggles have indeed been worth it, let me mention that I still feel really fat. I still don't like how I look, and I still feel like I have a long long way to go. And I wonder if that will ever really change. So I try not to think about it, and try to focus on the healthy benefits of losing this weight.

Today is going to be a GOOD DAY!!!!! Camille and I are going on an adventure! Emily, my oldest daughter, is picking us up in her little Suzuki. Car, not motorcycle. We are going to stop by the school and sign out Evelyn, then go to the big city and hook up with Mali, my number seven child, the fourth of the eleven girls. She has classes today, nursing college. We will then go to the award ceremony for Emily, who won a writing contest at work. She works at one of the big hospitals in the city, an RN on a critical care floor. She wrote about a nurse dealing with loss on a regular basis, and how this one case affected her...anyway, she has to read some of it today, so we are going along to listen. I just hope I can behave myself. I tend to get bored easily, and with Mali around, my goodness, I just have to look at that girl sometimes and everything is funny. And, I am extra tired since I devoured an entire library book last night and went to bed after one a.m.

Benjamin is doing well. He called Paul yesterday. He has to go out on patrol every single day because he is the medic, which is No Fair, good thing I teach my kids that Life Isn't Fair. Ben told me the other day that when he wonders why the heck he is doing certain things, he will say to himself, "Because God wants this to happen". He really copes by believing that God causes all things to work together for his best, as it is written in Romans 8. So yesterday when I got home from shopping...I took a five pound bag of sugar out of the grocery bag and carried it across the kitchen to put it away, not hearing Camille shouting, "Mama, you are spilling LOTS of sugar!" The bag was completely open, and I had it upside down. The bag was almost empty in my hand, but I hadn't realized it because I was talking to like four kids at once....anyway, someone had to clean it up. blah, that would be ME. That sugar got all over the floor, all over by the door, in shoes and boots and in the canned food bin. It was everywhere. And I was grumbling. Then I thought of Benjamin, over there in Afghanistan, working hard to take things right, to get heavenly treasures and be a good example to the other guys...and I was truly humbled. I would take this right! Why should my kids see mom all upset about a mess? I tell you, I hate messes, I hate sticky, but I love what God wants to teach me in these trials!

So, all that being said, I need to get out of this chair and move it!!!! Maybe this exercise I will fit in today will help that stubborn scale move, or maybe it will just feel good and help my blood pressure...but I will do it, because I am not giving up!!!!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

weekly weigh-in...blah.

I am not ready to say exactly what the numbers are we are talking about here, but let's just say...I was up .8 of a pound since last Tuesday's weigh-in. I cannot go on gaining on weekends and taking all week just to get back down to where I was, or I will never lose this excess weight. blah! But as Mali always says, "It could be worse, it could be raining."

I behaved pretty well yesterday. The cake taunted me for a while, then I figured out a plan. My first snack was some chicken and a pear, my second snack was going to be yogurt. I decided to sneak in a very small piece of cake, on top of the yogurt, with some slivered toasted almonds. I shouldn't have had any at all, but. I did. It tasted like rich chocolate-y Oreo cookies. It is all gone now, thankfully.

For dinner, I made homemade chicken pot pies. I baked some chicken breasts with olive oil and seasonings, then cheated and opened three cans of cream of chicken soup...I simmered five pounds of cubed potatoes in that(with lots of water) while the chicken baked. I rolled out pie crusts to fit the 9'x13' glass baking pans. When the chicken was done, Evelyn chopped it up, I added it to the pot with two bags of frozen mixed veggies. Then into the crusts, topped with crust, and into the oven. It only had to bake for 20 minutes to make the top golden, was so so good. Camille had thirds! The kids really liked it, and I regretfully couldn't say NO to the yummy crust. I

thought I would just eat around it, but ha.

I did resist dessert, they had Reese's Klondike bars, and mint chocolate chip Klondike bars. Paul also got out a bag of cinnamon imperials he found in the cupboard. They have only 60 calories for like 46 of them, so I had ten.

We sat around the table for a while, solving the world's problems. Emily, my nice and unselfish and sweet and fun oldest daughter, is taking Samuel and Margaret to Washington, D.C. for a few days next month. Samuel...he is a total World War II know-it-all, a real history buff. Margaret is close behind him. I want to go too! Those Smithsonian museums are amazing.

Today I am a nice mom. I let my Charlotte Claire stay home. She has been going to school just too much lately. So on this chilly drizzly dark morning, I did not even wake her up. I explained to Sonja and Jonathan that she is little, and her kindergarten day is too long. They were fine with her getting to stay home. They know I did the same for them when they were little. Do I need to even mention how happy Miss Camille is this morning? I'm telling you, this is where the joy is, having the kids here all happy and playing...they have the whole living room as their "house", dollies everywhere...

Margaret is home, she is sick with something. She is achy and her neck hurts and she has a headache. Evelyn is home because we are running out of food again, and we need to go library hopping again. I owe $23.24 in overdue fines to one of them. blah. Oh, Evelyn is here because going to the library is her Favorite Thing, and she says they are doing nothing today in school since there are state tests tomorrow. I told her I need a nap first. It sounds nice, doesn't it? Climbing under my electric blanket, and just dozing IS one of those days. It was snowing when I was out with Rosie, raining first and windy, then actual snow blowing down.

But I won't take a nap. I have too much to do. I need to work out and clean up this house, and get to the store. We are out of yogurt and bananas and have no salad stuff. The milk is getting low, and the bread is almost gone.

Charlotte Claire just asked me, "Mama, how come I never get my wishes come true?" What wishes, I asked. She said, "That I never have to go to school again." Camille, who has never been to school, said that school was fun, but Char told her that it is NOT fun. hmm.

Emily picked Sonja, Jonathan, and Charlotte Claire up from school yesterday and took them to a diner, to celebrate their birthdays, which are all coming up soon. What a nice big sister. I thought about asking if I could join her with Camille, but I knew that would ruin it. Em said they were really really good, and it was fun taking them.

I stayed up way too late last night. Way too late. I should not do this to myself. I had a lazy-ish day yesterday because it was so dark and chilly and rainy, my favorite kind of day ever...after I worked out and did a little bit of work around here, I sat down with my book...and Camille crawled into my lap in her princess dress. I covered her up with my robe, and she fell asleep. I read my book,rocked my chair, she slept. How perfect is that? It lasted for over an hour. Pure bliss, I tell you. The only thing that could have made it better: coffee and cookies, but I do not eat cookies anymore.

My coffee cup is almost empty, and I should really really get moving. I wish there was a way to slow down these days. My phone did a strange thing this morning: the clock stopped at 7:09. It kind of freaked me out, because we all know that song about the clock stopping when the old man died. I did not die, but it feels omenous, and I cannot and do not want to feel like that. To just say it straight out, I have a son in Afghanistan. I am not a wreck about him, I am not scared to death. But sometimes...I just get these pangs of worry so strong, I want to go over there and get him and drag him back here where he belongs. When my phone clock stopped, I thought, "Oh no.". Immediately. I just talked to Ben yesterday, and he was fine. It is irrational. But I did think it. He is doing well though. He says he is learning just how blessed we Americans are. He sees the poverty in the villages. He knows the lumpy cot he sleeps on is horrid but better than what the people there have. He knows that when he gets home he will revel in a comfy bed, for a while, before he forgets all about what it is like to not have it. He misses couches, he says. His days are long, filled with patrols and watches, and his nights are short, just a few hours of sleep and then watch-duty. He goes on missions with guys with mine-sweepers, and he rides in trucks with big guns on them. This is not a game, and it is not fun for his mama. It is so nice to talk to him though! He has a good attitude, and seems determined to learn from what he is going through.

And now, I shall get up out of this comfy chair...

Monday, April 23, 2012

a little bit of snow

Jonathan and Mali Rose
Mirielle loves to bake. When she is really busy and stressed out with school, she will just bake something when she knows she shouldn't, it's her way of dealing. This cake is no ordinary cake, it is from her special cookbook, made with melted chocolate and cocoa powder. She put coconut on only half, to please everyone. Well. I happen to LOVE both coconut, and her homemade chocolate cakes. And here I am, home on a chilly rainy day, with a half of cake on the counter. I am thinking of putting a bag over the whole thing, or putting it in the closet.
April 23rd, and snow. We didn't get much, but Rosie stuck her face in her water dish on the deck and it was full of slush. I took the short cheat-y walk because it was so cold, and slippery. Last evening I went out for a little after-dinner walk. I had already walked in the morning, and had done an afternoon workout. But I was really frustrated, and needed to get out of the house. I was not upset at anyone here, I just needed to sort out some thoughts. And get my head on straight concerning the cake Mirielle was baking, the aroma was heavenly. So out I went, without Rosie The Bad Dog to pull me around. I went down road, hearing only the scrunch scrunch of my own sneakers. Then I realized that I heard another scrunch scrunch, slightly out of sync with mine, and turned to see a guy walking behind me. Lacking my usual tact, I said, "You scared me!" He apologized. I then realized that not two seconds before this, I had...well, I had farted. Really loudly. I mean, everyone does it, right? And I was out walking all by myself. Being all grown up and dignified, I started laughing. This guy walked briskly past me as I scrunched along, laughing my head off. I do not know who he was, but he most certainly thinks I am crazy. My walk was very helpful. See, my frustration stemmed from my weight. I have gained two pounds. That might not seem like much, but that scale was going down nicely for me, small increments at a time. Over the weekend I wasn't as careful, but I thought it wouldn't hurt to cheat just a bit to fool my body, ect. And it wasn't much, just the Irish coffee on Friday, and some popcorn on Saturday night...a bite of Aaron's white chocolate bunny...ten peanut M&M's...a few bites here and there of stuff I normally avoid. Not even that much. Then I read about how it is so hard to lose weight in one's forties because of shifting hormones. And I am certain that it is much slower since I got that darned gall bladder removed. So I was upset. All this work, and I am the same weight I was a few months ago! It just isn't working anymore! So I walked. I thought, and I reasoned, and I felt sorry for myself. And I came to a conclusion: I cannot give up. I need to try to fool this stubborn body of mine. But I will not just eat cake and forget the whole thing. I may try calorie cycling, or more intense workouts. But I will not give up. That made me feel better. When I stepped on the scale this morning, and saw that yucky number, I just told it HA, you will go away never to be seen again! Dang, if only willpower alone could take away the pounds! If sheer determination made those numbers shrink! Anyway, here I am. The house is in it's comfortable Monday state. I am thinking of doing another organization project. I did the hall closet and the girls' room last week. I am thinking of the cupboards under the microwave...the ones filled with storage containers that avalanche all over the floor, when opened. If we keep them all in that cupboard, where do the missing lids go? I need to clean the laundry room too, but that is a job to do with Evelyn. She gets things done. Especially if I pay her. Camille was sad to see the kids get on the bus this morning. She wants Charlotte Claire to play with her. But she got over her sadness, and is in her own little world now...she is wearing her princess Snuggie, and playing with a whole slew of Barbies... This week I may be watching my little great nephew Davian. His mama is my sister's oldest daughter, Katie. Katie is the French teacher over at the school. She is an amazing girl...childhood leukemia survivor, she has Krohn's disease, and has suffered immensely but has still been my kids' favorite teacher. Her daughter Grace is one of the best kids in this world, I was there when she was born. So I love her like my own. Anyway, Katie and her husband have a new baby, born at the end of January, Mr. Davian. He is SO beautiful. Katie is back to work, and daddy is a stay-at-home dad. Well, he has to go in to work sometimes, and that is where I come in. I am absolutely thrilled to have a chance to take care of this little guy. So I have my work cut out for me today. The regular Monday stuff, and staying out of the cake. I feel like just eating the whole thing and ending the battle, but it don't work like that.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

rainy saturday morning

My walk through the little stand of woods was awesome. The rain pattering down, the squirrels scampering, the greens of the trees just SO green...I almost stepped on a garter snake while looking into the woods. oops. Last night Paul surprised some of us with marshmallows. That meant a campfire for those of us who don't go to the Friday night youth meetings. Sonja K. was at Susan's house helping with the baby twins, so it was just Suze and Jonathan and the two little princesses. Paul also bought the stuff to make some hot Irish coffee, which was really yummy to sip while we relaxed at the fire. Well, "relax" is hardly the word. Rosie was there, wagging her whole body in sheer joy that we were out there. Knocking into my coffee, getting tangled in the marshmallow sticks. She will obey the command to Lie Down, but only until she cannot stand not getting pet any longer, then she has her big fuzzy chin in my lap again, wagging her whole backside and hitting everything with that tail. And the kids roasting marshmallows: nervewracking. Jon and Suze are really on the ball about blowing out any that catch on fire, but I am always afraid that one of them will swing the stick around and hit a sibling with a flaming marshmallow. It was a beautiful night, the wind died down and the stars were out. No mosquitoes, just a few Junebugs. We saw a bat, too. I slept too late this fine morning. Rather, I tried my darndest to get some sleep. We stayed up 'til two, and at 7:01, Miss Camille was out of her door and down the hall, none too quiet. rrr. I corralled them back into their room and asked them to please play quietly and quit slamming the door. They must've heard it as, "Make lots of noise, get in a few fights, and SLAM THAT DOOR!" So I dozed off like a million times, and found myself getting really irritated at those girls. When I finally showed my pretty face out here, Sonja and Suze were up too, and the girls were so glad to see Mama, my irritation dwindled...I did tell them they need to be more quiet in the morning though. Abigail is on her way to pick me up, we are going out shopping on the dark drizzly day. It is good to see her and spend time talking...the girls are so busy playing right now they don't even care that I am leaving. It helps that I cleaned their room so nicely yesterday. I organized everything, and made it really nice in there.... And off I go....

Friday, April 20, 2012

things that make me cry....

1. Hearing newborn babies cry. It doesn't necessarily make me sad, it just strikes something in me, a longing I guess.

2. Reading about a Blawk Hawk helicopter going down in Afghanistan, killing 4 U.S. soldiers. Having Benjamin over there brings home the reality that even when it isn't MY child, it is someone's child...someone's husband, someone's daddy.

3. When I remember, in the midst of thinking of something really funny to tell my mom, that she no longer walks this earth.

4. When Suzanne tells me about a boy in her class who has had the same sneakers for two years, and he wears old dirty clothes and needs a haircut and the kids are mean to him.

5. The thought of sending Camille to school. (Although I second guess this decision all the time, I think it would be good for her to be only one year behind Char...and she is SO smart, and sociable...I don't know.)

6. The news that Paul's job is very likely morphing into a traveling position, meaning he might be gone two weeks for every one week he is here. wah.

7. Feeling like I am not needed, or wanted, or appreciated sometimes. Oh poor me. I do not agree with giving in to feeling like this, but it makes me cry on occasion nonetheless.

8. My laundry room floor. Or the floor I am assuming is still under all those clothes.

9. The way that Jonathan is so attached to his toys that when one gets broken, he is so very sad.

10. Two of my girls bought $16 sunglasses with their own money. They will get broken, and I will cry.

Excellent! Only ten things that I can think of this morning, not bad. It is gorgeously sunny out, it will be eighty degrees today before the rain comes in for the weekend. I WAS going to clean the girls' room today...yesterday I cleaned out the hall closet. I threw away old Christmas dresses and bedskirts and broken hangers and a PollyFlinders outfit that no one would wear these days, even if it wasn't stained. It is nice to have the closet all cleaned out. I hate when I do a job like that though, and then still have to catch up on everything else. But, the bonus side of being Un-organized, is that when you actually organize something, it is so much fun! I keep opening that closet door and looking in at the beautiful neatness of it! I showed all the kids when they got home from school...

The weeks are flying by. Jonathan was amazed that it is Friday again already. I was so tempted to keep them home from school today to enjoy the nice spring weather! The grass is so green, and the leaves are that tender green color. Paul is going to try to come home a bit early and pick them up from school. He hasn't seen them much this week because he has been working late, had a few meetings, ect.

I grilled chicken last night for dinner. I marinated it in orange ginger sauce first, and it was yummy. Served with broccoli and sliced Vienna bread, which was buy one loaf get two free at Price Chopper (three for $2.49). I do not eat bread. But somehow I had a half a piece. Then the other half, with butter. Then I finished Camille's piece. Fresh bread with that chewy crust, real butter...why can't it be super healthy?

Then Mirielle decided to bake cookies for Benjamin. I have not heard from him since last week, and he hadn't gotten any boxes yet. So he will probably get a whole bunch at the same time, and the whole platoon can have a party! Anyway, she made a double batch of chocolate chip cookie dough, started baking them, and I took over when she went in for a shower...I tasted the dough. And again. I love cookie dough. One cookie was overbaked. I love the crispy crunchy ones. So I broke it in half and oh so good...I gave the other half to Sonja so I wouldn't eat it too. Mirielle wrapped most of them up for Ben. The rest, I wrapped up separately and gave them to kids for later, put some in lunches, and now the plate is empty in the sink. Phew. I survived another Cookie Baking with minimal damage.

So another box is heading to Ben. We also put some pens in there, and some SlimJims, and a big bag of beef jerky, and some baggies in case he wants to take just a bit with him when he goes out on patrol.

I dreamed last night that I was in Afghanistan. I was over there with all of my 18 years and older kids, at war. We were all so scared, and kept thinking we were going to get shot. I explained to someone that I had seven of my kids fighting with me, and 9 left at home. How can I do math in my dreams?

I have to go take some bedding out of the wash and hang it outside to dry, and put in a load of socks. Then perhaps do some exercising, then tackle those dishes...just from breakfast and after dinner last night, the sink is overflowing onto the counter. And these floors that got swept and vacuumed yesterday...ha. Rosie needs to go out again, and I need to wash my long tangly hair. But I am not complaining. I enjoy my life. And, it's Friday!!! Date night, weekend, yay! And, I already know what we are having for dinner, which is a huge bonus! Burgers on the grill....

Thursday, April 19, 2012

just the two of us....

Miss Camille Anaya, playing Office at her Hershey box desk. She wonders why it is so quiet in here. She said, "Why do we have to have all this peace and quiet??!" I agree, Miss Camille. It is quiet with just the two of us....
me this morning...
Miss Charlotte Claire going off to kindergarten. She loves these particular sneakers, "high tops". She has countless pairs of cute shoes and sandals, but these are her choice. I almost kept her home today...she was sound asleep and I hesitated before nudging her. I considered how nice it would be to just let the poor child sleep, then wake up and play with Camille all day...but I did the "right" thing, and woke her up. hmm.

Camille is not playing office anymore. No, she is brushing my long tangly hair. She is telling me that I am being a good girl, and that the tangles aren't that bad.

Our days alone at home are numbered. Summer vacation is in like 66 days, not that I am counting. Then I will have a full house again, then...September, and just me. wah.

We went to the dreaded mall yesterday. I had Kathryn and Suze with me, and they wanted a few shirts. Target didn't have any, although I do have to mention the Easter stuff I got there...oh my goodness, I can't ever go there again. 90% off the Easter stuff. NINETY. That means of course, that one only pays 10% of the original price. A bag of Lifesaver Jellybeans: 26 cents. Malted eggs, 20 cents. Chocolate marshmallow bunnies? 19 cents. Bags of plastic eggs, 9 cents, and woven baskets for a quarter. How much did I buy? Pretty much filled the cart. SweetTart jelly beans, Starburst Jelly beans...bags and bags. I checked the prices at the store scanner, and they weren't ringing up right. I asked a nice boy who worked there to confirm that things were indeed 90% off, and he said they were. I questioned why the jelly beans were 65 cents then, and we agreed that they couldn't have been originally $6.50. He said that someone didn't know their math. I was glad he knew his, and didn't assume that this chubby lady with a baby doll sitting in the place for real child and a card chock full of cheap candy, was CRAZY. (Kap and Suze had Camille with them, I was watching Camille's baby for her). That nice boy might have THOUGHT I was crazy, but he didn't let on. Anyway, it was fun at the register. The prices had to all be manually changed....the people behind me loved me, and did not think I was crazy at all.

Now the kids who are with me when I Stock Up like this, do not like it. But when they want candy and I have some, they love me. I am actually thinking of sending Ben and the soldiers a whole box of bags of jelly beans. If they melt too badly, they can throw them away, but I am betting they will eat them. And I am betting they won't care if it is after Easter.

The mall. I do not care for the mall. The air is stale. The sale signs are deceiving. The cinnamon smell makes me think I am hungry. I hate the food court. Too fattening, and too expensive. And too yummy. I bought Kathryn a few t-shirts from the Aeropostale clearance rack, then a few from Old Navy. (I bought Camille a Christmas Hello Kitty shirt for $1.47, and she was thrilled). Sears had 50% off their clearance footwear, so I got some Avia sneakers for $10. Shoes for next year for Char and Camille, $5 each. Really nice boots for Camille next year, $8.50. Two shirts for me for $3.99 each. A really nice thick plush polka-dotted bathrobe for me, $3.99. I just put it on, and it is so comfy. It's all I need, another reason for it to be hard to get up out of my chair and get moving.

Price-Chopper. By now the girls were hungry, so they ordered an order of fries and an order of onion rings, bought two Gatorades and a chocolate milk for Camille, and went to the "restaurant". They had great fun, and I shopped all by my lonesome. I actually got to use coupons! I saved so much the manager had to come over and type in a code. That always happens there though. Lots of coupon and store specials.

I had one more stop, another grocery store where hot and ready pizzas were buy one get one free. Paul was working late and going to dinner with co-workers visiting the company from abroad, so I decided to splurge. I ordered four pizzas. While they baked I walked around finding things we really needed like chip dip for a buck, and boxes of Cheese Nips for a buck, two cantaloupes and two mini watermelon, and some grapes. I love going into more than one supermarket and getting the specials from each. Anyway, when I picked up the pizzas, I noticed the price stickers, and asked if they were the Buy One Get One Free pizzas, and the lady said they were not. These ones were bigger. Oh. People were looking at me. I just hesitated and walked away with forty dollars worth of pizza. Dang. I did not want to pay that much. I thought I had FOURTEEN dollars worth. (they were $6.99 each, but buy one get one, and I had four). When the cashier asked me how I was doing, I said, "not good.", and I explained to him that the pizza lady didn't specify that they had more than one size pizza. The manager came over, and I told him I was just really surprised about the un-clarity, and he said he would gladly charge me for only two of the pizzas. I felt like a scammer. But I agreed. I would not have even stopped at that store for regular priced bigger pizzas. So I took the deal....I was truly nice about it. I just felt like I was going to cry. I do buy lots of things, but I try to be careful about how much I spend, and ouch.

Anyway, here I am this morning with Camille. We are rattling around like two peas in a pod. She has had two breakfasts now, and is cuddled up to me in my chair.

I have a headache today. The kind that just nags there in the background, makes me feel tired and blah, and NOT like exercising. The kind that makes me just want to sit here all day. This sunny day does not go with my headache, it should be dark and rainy.

It seems I have run out of fun and exciting things to write about!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Yet there was frost on the pumpkins this morning, as my mother used to say. Rosie and I didn't do our regular long walk...but not because of the chill...I just got up a little too late, and Jonathan was up early since he didn't finish his homework last night. If he doesn't get it done, he has to either miss playtime or pay some of his "class cash" to his teacher. So Rosie and I just did our cheat-y little walk.

For some reason, today I am picking Kathryn Grace and Suzanne Eleanor up from school at 11-ish. They will be done with their state tests, and asked me if I could PLEASE pick them up. So I said I would.

Samuel is going fishing with one of his friends who has no college classes today. This friend is a great kid. Thing is, he is picking Sam up early from school. All Sam will be missing is gym, and part of English, which he is doing fine in. The school is rather picky about these things though. One cannot just write, "please allow my son to be picked up early by his friend so they can go fishing." And if one writes that the student has an appointment, the school wants a note from the doctor. So what's a parent to do? I chose to write that Sam was being picked up for a church activity. It IS sort of a church activity, since this friend is a real example of living a pure life, and he is a help to Sam....and I really don't think God will mind.

It is a free country, right?

Which makes me think of Benjamin. Every time I go shopping, I think of things to get for him. Yesterday I got him a bag of beef jerky and a huge box of Slim Jims. And lots of pens to give to the village kids, if he wants to, or just for the other soldiers if they want them. It frustrates me to have my kid over there in a war zone. I want to call his Sgt. and say that Benjy is NOT ALLOWED to go on those dangerous convoys.

Since I am leaving sooner rather than later, and I want to fit my exercise in, I shall sign off early this morning....

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

good morning!

I have decided to be happy today, even though my weekly weigh-in is blah. I lost a lousy half a pound. No fair. I have to work hard to trick this comfortable body of mine, this body that does not want to change. So I am looking at it like this: Yay, I lost a half a pound!

Yesterday, I did my mile walk, as fast as I could go. Then I exercised later, some lunges and crunches, ect, for 25 minutes. Then to the pool in the evening. Charlotte Claire and Camille brought baby dolls with them. They let their babies jump in from the side, and they taught them to swim. Abigail met us there after work. Sam and a few of the girls played basketball while some of us swam. Miss Camille had herself a little tantrum because she did not want to leave...

Before we left for the pool, the kids were playing in the sprinkler in the yard. It hit 90 degrees, and when they got off the bus, their faces were all hot and flushed...I was glad I had planned to take them swimming. plans. But I do need to get to the store, again. I am out of frozen strawberries (I like to put four or five in a bowl, microwave them a little until they can be cut up easily, then add a low-fat sugar free yogurt to them...and sometimes toasted almonds, or a bit of coconut)...and I am also out of blueberries, which are so good microwaved with my oatmeal. We are running out of eggs, and our fruit supply is almost depleted. We do spend an unGodly amount of money on food, but I figure it is an investment in our health. Fresh fruit and veggies are so expensive, but I try to buy what is in season, or keep the salads simple. Winter salads don't have tomatoes in them, but cucumbers and green peppers. Peppers are always $3.99 for six at Wegman's.

Good news!!! My hot tub is getting fixed!!! Finally!! Thomas came over last night to look at it. He is going to come back some time this week. There is just a broken pipe, but it is hard to get to, and the whole heavy thing has to be jacked up and put on blocks to be worked on. At least I HOPE it is just a broken pipe. It has been out of service for like two years!!! My only nice thing, that hot tub. My favorite thing. I mean, sitting out there in the steaming bubbles, looking up at the stars...we have had some really fun times in there. No distractions, so we have had some nice conversations in there. The littler kids use it like a pool, going underwater and swimming around.

I read an article this morning about sleep deprivation. Long term not-enough-sleep is very bad for one's health. It raises blood sugars and contributes to poor decision making (I knew that!). Weight gain is an obvious result. I already knew this! But it is nice that someone did a study and got the same results. I totally blame my weight gain on lack of sleep, followed by being so busy for all those years. I was so tired, I just ate what was there. Usually toast and bagels, or cookies. And I WAS times. (16 kids, one stillborn baby, and five miscarriages). All I craved in those pregnancies: carbs. No salads or veggies, just plain simple carbs. Lovely, right? And hey, back in the day, it was commonly thought that low-fat, high carb was the way to go. ouch. Anyway, now that I have firmly established my excuses....I shall take some of the blame. I did give in to donuts. And I baked cookies AND ate them. I didn't exercise, except to walk around in stores and chase the kids. I ate before bed if I felt like it, especially popcorn.

Now, however, I have smartened up a bit. Took me long enough. I just wish the pounds would fall off quicker.

Camille is having a little after-breakfast snack of a tiny chocolate bunny. I want a bite. But if I wait a few minutes, she will have eaten that little bunny, and I will be fine. (shouldn't I lose like four pounds just for this suffering alone??!)

Pounds falling off or not, I shall exercise this morning. It is good for my heart, and gives me energy. It probably lowers my blood sugars too. I read some weight-loss success stories this morning on Shape-fit, and am encouraged. I avoid those doomsday stories that indicate that most people that lose weight gain it back.

One of our good friends just got back from a year deployment in Afghanistan! He is in the Army, is married with two kids. I saw him on Sunday, and it was so so good to have him back! He left the Kandahar Airport the DAY BEFORE Benjamin arrived there! They just missed each other. They were good friends growing up...still friends, but their paths haven't crossed in quite a while. Anyway, Matt seems so much more....grown-up. And it was so good to see him.

I think of my Benjamin like twenty times a day. Things over there are heating up, with NATO and the American soldiers trying to get things accomplished in a hurry before the troops start pulling out. The Bad Guys also get really attack-y and bomb-y in the springtime....sometimes next December seems like years after day of him being there...I am really laboring to be at rest about him. It doesn't come naturally, it is a fight. Each thought that comes, I have to just commit to God. I pray for that kid, and I pray for me...because I do not want that spirit of fear to have any ground in my heart.

Now...enough procrastinating, I have things to do and a Camille to play with...

Monday, April 16, 2012

house of the week...

relaxed me in my chair this morning...
frazzled me after frosting all those cupcakes
Emily and Aaron and some of our company the other night...
Charlotte Claire

Our pear tree is looking good.

Aaron and Rosie
Joseph thought Rosie looked nice in this hat.
In the Real Estate section of the Sunday paper, there is always, "The House Of The Week". This week's house features a huge kitchen with two ovens and a grill. Why don't we have two ovens and a grill? Some of the houses have these huge living spaces, or indoor pools, several bathrooms. And I think, we need that!

And I think, "if we had a huge house with lots of room and plenty of storage space, I would be happy."

I jokingly say when I see a beautiful spacious home, "Those people have no trials at all."


I quit eating brown sugar on my oatmeal with peanutbutter, went back to putting blueberries in it. Trying to get this weight loss going, it is so so slow. I write numbers down...and when I looked in my handy-dandy notebook this morning, blah, I am the same today as I was ten days ago. I see a good number, then it goes away, comes back a few days later, and it takes a while before I really "own" that number, then finally it changes to a lower one...painstakingly slow. It was not like this before my gallbladder surgery. Not this slow.

The good thing is that I will not give up. I will not gain my weight back, and I will not stop trying to lose more. I will also not eat a Reese's egg because it has 170 calories in it. I can eat a yogurt with berries for that. Or an apple and some almonds. And I would feel too guilty, and I would just want another one anyway.

Yesterday we had a 60th birthday feast for the leading brother at church. He has been a good friend through the years, living what he preaches, being such a good example. Anyway, Emily and Mirielle did the food. They made lemon-pepper and barbecued marinated chicken breast, fried french fries, (I only had one. that was really hard, but I survived), fresh baked rolls, and tossed salad. They also made these yummy looking desserts...rasberries with white cake and whipped cream, layered in cups...then this layered brownie and ice cream thing...I just stayed right away from them. ouch.

After the feast, I went to my brother Bob's house to celebrate his retirement, 37 years as an electrician. I think all ten of his kids were there, some with kids of their own, so there were some cute babies and toddlers there. I made the cupcakes for this party...and I did cave and have two of the small ones...and half a small one that Suze was throwing away. That's one of my downfalls, I was like, "what? Don't throw that away, give it to me!" I need to learn to let the garbage have stuff.

Saturday night we had some company, Sonja said there were 27 of us here. I made 7 pizzas and a hundred wings, and put out some veggies and dip. Abigail brought soda and Italian bread, and I passed out some of candy I got after Easter. It was a busy day in the kitchen...I went from frosting cupcakes to making pizzas.

I never fit my exercising in, then yesterday went when I got home at seven in the evening, I sneaked into my room for 15 minutes of getting my heart going, just 40 push-ups and lifting the ten pound weights, some jogging in place, just a wimpy little work-out. But I felt better not skipping the entire weekend.

Vacation is over. The kids are at college and school, and Camille is totally lost. She is sitting on the arm of my chair. Mondays are always lonely for her, but after vacations she is more lost than ever. I have read her one book, told her what various words spell, and answered many questions. She had breakfast with the school kids, but she wants a PopTart, which I have said, "no" to, and now wants me to get her out, "different" clothes. She is being a big bug, and I feel bad for her. She is reading a chapter book with no pictures now, she loves to sound out words and make up the stories....

Today is warm and pleasant, it is going to be 88 degrees and sunny. My walk with Rosie was absolutely delightful...the smells of spring, the unique greens that have just been born, the wild flowers and the birds singing. I wished I had more time this morning. I forget about my aches and pains when the scenery is so nice and Rosie is being a good dog, only pulling my arm off a few times when squirrels run across the road in front of her.

My brother suggested to me that I train as a Certified Nursing Assistant. I could work at a nursing home for like 14 bucks an hour. Registered nurses make more, but the schooling is alot longer and more intense. I don't know. I would want to make enough that Paul could retire before he is seventy five. It seems fair that I work a few years so he can take a few off. But this place here, this home, takes so much work! I feel like I am finally able to actually keep it afloat, and barely. With Camille going to school, it seems strange that I would just stay home and clean...but if I am not here, who is going to clean and when? Who will wash all the clothes and make the healthy dinners? Who will have a nice snack and lend a listening ear to kids who get off that crazy school bus and need love and normalcy? I just don't know. I think I will wait a bit and see. Just because they aren't babies anymore doesn't mean they don't still need Mommy.

My dream job would be to write a newspaper column. I never ever run out of things to write about. Perhaps they are the same things over and over again, but still.

My arm is falling asleep because my 38 pound baby is leaning on it while I try to type. My oatmeal is gone, my coffee cup is empty and there is no Kathryn or Suze to refill it for me. Wah, I miss them today! And not just for the hot coffee. They are such joys to me. Only like 65 days until summer vacation starts though!!! I LOVE summer, having the kids all here...the non-stop kitchen, the lounging and the spontaneous adventures. The trips to the beach that last 'til sunset.

Mirielle send a package to Benjamin this morning. Cookies. He will have many friends, if he ever actually gets these boxes of goodies. We send a few baggies of baby wipes in each box, because the treats are probably melted.

Well...time to get out of this comfy chair...I have already put some laundry in, mopped up the kitchen floor, but not much else. The sun is shining, and Camille and I want to get out into it.

Friday, April 13, 2012


tonight I have plans. I am going to see, "The Lorax", with a group of little girls, and one of the moms, my close friend, Patty. Then to her house to celebrate a birthday, Irene is ten years old, only two weeks older than Sonja K.

Today, I also have plans. I have to bake those cupcakes. It is sunny today, and is going up to sixty. So my other plans: sit in the sun. Ahh, love to sit in the sun.

Weight loss: A new number!!! Yay!! Now, the pounds are NOT melting off effortlessly. No, it is ever so slow. But seeing that new number is so freakin' awesome, as my kids would say. (and of course I would respond, "don't say "freakin'")

Yesterday I did have a softserve ice cream cone for lunch. 8 of my kids went shopping with me. Joseph, Samuel, Kathryn, Evelyn, Suzanne, Sonja, Charlotte Claire, and Camille. Going through the Dunkin'Donuts drive-thru with them was an experience. The ice cream there is only 99 cents, and it is Baskin-Robins. I wanted a coffee for the long drive home...and I had only had a few almonds and an apple since, I had an ice cream. I ordered six cones, two donuts with pink frosting, and one with chocolate frosting, one large coffee with lots of cream, and two ice waters. Eleven dollars and some change. As we pulled out, Sam complained that he didn't get a donut. I pulled back in and parked, and as we waited for Evelyn to go in and get his donut for him, he 'fessed up that he had an ice cream, he just wanted a donut too. rrr. It was all quite hilarious though.

And the ice cream was so good. I always seem to lose a pound the morning after I have one for some reason.

I was really good for the rest of the night though, and I went to the pool, too.

News from Benjamin:

"we were told that a soldier from B Co was killed. When that happens they black out the communication until the family was contacted. They just lifted the blackout. I knew him, but just knew who he was. Its still sad. Glad I'm not with B Co anymore though. Anyways, we received other news. Today we are heading out to --------, I don't know how long we will be there, anywhere from 2 weeks or more. Most likely more. I don't think I'll have wi fi so I won't be able to text. Everything is going well here. We got new trucks, ones with ac, and are getting ready to roll out in an hour or two. I will be absolutely fine...." He goes on to say how much he misses and loves us...

Now, I would be lying if I said I just went ahead and believed that he would "be absolutely fine". I want to believe it. I will believe it. But that tiny bit of fear that wants to get into my heart and make me terrified for him, I am fighting that. And of course there is the full knowledge that some other family is getting the Dreaded and Horrible visit from some Army Captain, delivering them the news that their son died for his country. This whole thing is just more than I bargained for, not that I had a choice in the matter. I knew it would be hard, but I didn't know it would be THIS hard.

My cashier in the grocery store really blessed me yesterday. I have "known" her for years, her son fought in Iraq. When she asked how I was doing, I told her about Benjamin, and she was so encouraging and understanding. She told me that her son was in a terrible firefight three weeks into his deployment, ect., and that when she was in the mall one day, she got a call from him on her cell phone, telling her that he was okay. She said she walked around that mall crying like a fool, telling people that her son was okay. Tears of happiness, of course. Relief. Thankfulness. She told me that she is praying for Ben, and that she knows he will be fine. She has been through this, and she knew just what would be comforting. I think God knew what check-out line I needed to be in yesterday.

Well, the sunny day is going on without me, I shall get moving so I can enjoy that elusive sunshine.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

spring break, stop going by so fast!!!

I was MADE for vacations. I do not like schedules, nor commitments. I like spontaneous outings, and leisurely afternoons. I like when the kids get up and hang around in their jammies, when the little girls don't get their hair brushed for a few days at a time. I like when the blankets on the couches are being used, and when breakfast runs into lunch, which runs into dinner. I like the feeling of hope that comes with the fact that we can go on an adventure anytime we decide to.

It is not warm enough outside. Only in the forties. Charlotte Claire and Camille saw the deceiving sunshine this morning and decided they wanted to get that storage tub out again, on the deck, and fill it with water for their Barbies. No, dears, it is way too chilly for that. I know you did it already this year, but that was last month during Fake Summer.

I am a zombie this morning. I knew I would be, staying up until almost two o'clock watching a dvd of zombie shows that Sam chose from Redbox. Now, I do not particularly like scary stuff, movies that make me jump and cringe, but watching it with Kathryn and Suze and Samuel was really fun. I kept saying that I was going to bed, but I couldn't go until I saw what happened....then another episode would start...

So when the princesses started their laughing and shrieking this morning at eight o'clock, I was...blah, I was a zombie.

Now this vacation is not all sunshine and roses, of course. There are fights. This fine morning for example, Sonja K., who is almost ten, and Jonathan Robert, who is almost 8, are fighting. One of those on and on things, getting at each other. I told them that if they are bound and determined to keep it up, they have to go in their room together and stay there all day and they can fight all they want. I do not want to sort out argument after argument.

The girls, 9 of the eleven daughters of mine, are going on their second annual vacation to the ocean in a few months, and they have invited...not me, but Jonathan to go with them. Sonja has found out about this, and is rather miffed. I am not happy that she is not just happy about it. I am also not thrilled they would rather not have me along, but I do totally understand. Emily Anne is more adventurous than me and she likes being in charge. She is responsible enough, I mean, she is a nurse. But they like going off without Mom. So all the girls (and Jonny) except for the two youngest, are going.

I have cupcakes cupcakes cupcakes to make again, but I can't say for what, as it is a secret. I think I shall bake some today since it is supposed to be warmer and sunnier tomorrow....

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

okay, where was I?

Vacation. Sweet relaxing vacation. The little girls are hilarious. They wrote letters to Benjamin, made paperbag puppets, and are eating apples and playing schoolhouse. Evelyn and Sonja just left to go help Susan with those sweet little twins. Jonathan is sitting in a comfy chair watching television. We have hardly had it on this week, except for watching back to back episodes of, "Psych", which we have on dvd. It is almost noon and some of the kids haven't eaten breakfast yet. I slept in later than I have in ages, until 9:00! I packed up some stuff to send to Benjamin, and set out for my walk...curses, there was the streetsweeper!! Rosie tends to want to chase and herd cars and trucks, but slow moving vehicles are her favorite. I decided to turn around and head home as fast as our legs could carry us.

Anyway, I sent Benjamin some M&M brownies, some sunflower seeds, some Caldesene powder for heat rash, a large can of mixed nuts, and some skittles.

Kathryn is making a second pot of coffee. The college kids have had some, and she is making enough for me to have another cup. It is nice to have the kids around. Not that it makes for relaxing blogging. Nah, it goes like this sometimes: Mom, can I have a freezepop? No - it will start a stampede. Mom, I'll hide it. Okay, go ahead. Mom!! How come SHE gets a freezepop? Can I have one too! Yes, go ahead.
Mom, there are none left, can I have fruit snacks instead? I guess so. Mom, how come she has fruitsnacks? Mom, can we go shopping. No, not now. Mom, she won't stop kicking my chair. Mom, when is lunch? Hey Mom, guess what? I read three chapters last night.

And so on.

So instead of sitting here and whipping through a quick post, I stop and start and forget what the heck I was saying, over and over again. I don't want to not write on vacation though, it is my free therapy.

Kathryn just brought me a super yummy hot cup of coffee, thank you, Kap!

I have to take Mali to a dr. appointment today. Paul so nicely took the huge van and left me the minivan. He is thinking about selling the big truck in the driveway that needs work and buying a small truck that actually runs. Then I could drive the minivan on a regular basis. If you have never driven a fifteen passenger van around town, you won't know how happy this makes me. If you have never tried to parallel park a huge van, or even tried to score a good spot at Target in one, you won't understand the absolute joy at driving something that actually accelerates when you step on the gas. If you have never picked your kids up from school in a fifteen passenger van, you have never experienced the utter embarrassment they suffer, which I do not get, but than I am not a teenager anymore in some respects.

Just parking that big van is a joke. I pull in, back out again, straighten it out, try again...the kids groan. I sometimes take up four spots. Because the doors open straight out on the side, instead of sliding open, and if anyone parks too close on that side, it is hard to get out...

I am also thankful for that big van. I do not want to get rid of it yet. It means that I can take all my kids to the beach if we decide to go. It means I can let whoever wants to go shopping with me, go with me.

But it gets terrible gas mileage.

Anyway anyway anyway... the girls are now putting on a puppet show. And I have to go exercise before I take Mali.

Thank you to Glenda who wants to send something to Benjamin. If anyone else is interested in his address, just email me at I remember when he was in medic training, there were lots of guys who never got anything from home, so Ben shared with them. It makes me sad to know that there are probably guys with him right now who won't get packages, so Ben knows to share whatever he gets. It is not so nice over there, so whatever we can do to show our appreciation for what they are doing and to make their time there better, pass quicker....I am certain it will be appreciated.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

short post this morning....

I have a headache this morning. The two little princesses have colds, Camille has a low-grade fever. They crawled into bed with me early this morning, after Paul left for work. I was already awake though, Benjamin texted me at 6:09 a.m. I do not mind though, I do not want him to even ever consider what time it is over here, if he has the time and opportunity to converse, I am here.

He is living in a nightmare. He, since he is a Medic, has to go every single day out on patrol. The mortars and snipers get to take turns and go every other day or every third day. He had his first casualty, a little boy who reminded him painfully of our Jonny. Ben was closing his eyes and crying, and praying, and felt like he was going to pass out. Because this wasn't practice, this was real, and it was a small child, so innocent. This child was hit by an IED, probably being planted by his father. Benjamin said he probably wouldn't make it, this little boy, because of his extensive injuries.

So Benjamin said he was excited to do his job, his Medic job...but if he never had to do anything like that again, he would be fine with it. What can a mother say? Life is harsh, war is hell. Benjamin was raised here in a nice family, with a huge love and respect for life. I can only hope and pray that he guards his heart, and doesn't grow hard and bitter. I think it helps that he keeps in touch. It is horribly expensive to have phone/internet service there, but I think it is worth every penny.

That is how my day started, hearing about his 91 degree day over in Afghanistan. It made my nice cool walk with Rosie seem peaceful and heavenly.

Evelyn is having a friend over, so I have to get out of this chair and go pick her up, stopping at the store first for some bread and apples.

My head is aching. But I shall not complain. I think about Ben, and it makes me really want to be thankful for my country, and my life.

Weigh in: Down one pound. One lousy pound. But in the big scheme of things, I am okay with that. For some reason, the fat likes me.

Monday, April 9, 2012


Mirielle,22, my number four child.
My sister's youngest daughter Audrey, curly haired cousin of curly-haired Margaret....holding Linnea, one of the twins.
Linnea has curly hair!
My fifth oldest child, Joseph, who is twenty...holding Sebastian, one of the twins. I love seeing my boys hold babies.

My sister's daughter Janet (my bestest friend, ha), Kathryn and Suzanne...our dear friend Joe behind Suze.
Mali and Abigail
Kathryn and Suzanne after lunch at church yesterday.
Char and William, my sister's grandson, big brother of these sweet little twins.
Miss Camille
Miss Charlotte Claire
Suze and Kap saw me coming.
All dressed in their Easter finest, ready for pictures taken...NOT. They hated me coming in with the camera.

real life...

Writing on this blog is challenging for me sometimes. I am rarely at loss for what to say, but rather am second-guessing what I should put out there. After all, this blog isn't just all about ME, it affects so many other people, who deserve some privacy in their lives. This morning I feel sad. I feel un-appreciated, and almost lonely. I cried this morning, before I even got out of bed, because sometimes I just get tired of dealing with things. Then I thought of the message I heard yesterday about having the mind of Christ. Yes, even when I feel wronged and hurt, I can give that up and love anyway. I do not have to get even, I do not have to keep nurturing painful thoughts, I do not have to feed my offendedness. I really started to get thankful then, realizing that I can be saved in all things. If God wanted everyone to always treat me the way I think I deserve to be treated, than that is how it would be. But He knows, in His infinite wisdom, what I need.

After I prayed myself out of that funk, I went into the bathroom and got on the scale. dang. Hopefully it was just the salty ham, retaining some fluid. Because there is no way I went over by seven thousand calories. blah. I went out into the freezing wind to walk Rosie, wondering where spring went, and trying to straighten out my thoughts. Battling against those thoughts of discouragement about losing weight, and just life in general. It is vital that we do not let dispair gain the upper hand in our lives. As I quoted to Benjamin the other day, "A merry heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones."

We all have our trials. I choose to fight against my own sin, instead of blaming others. Instead of getting bitter, and letting my heart grow hard. In every situation in life, we have choices. Sometimes it seems SO right and reasonable to be offended! But it is never the right choice! Just think to suffer and overcome instead!

So I am fighting my way through the day. Some days it is warm and sunny and everything is wonderful, but other is more of a fight.

And since I am not going to feel sorry for myself today, I will not mention the state of the house. Or that it is Paul's fiftieth birthday and I have no idea what is for dinner. Or that I haven't stepped foot in the laundry room in like three days, which is pretty much asking for an avalanche of dirty clothes to pile up. Or that I want some French Toast bagel bread, toasted with butter, so badly. But I know I shouldn't. I am also surrounded by chocolate bunnies and malted eggs, but I won't mention how much that is killing me.

It is vacation, Easter vacation, April break. Our van is in the shop, so I am stranded. Margaret, Kathryn, and Suzanne spent the night at Susan and Thomas' house to help with the twins and William. I woke up too early and started in on those thoughts, um, wah. But my day is before me, and it shall be a good one.

Mirielle made a huge batch of chocolate chip cookies last night and sent some out to Benjamin this morning, along with some sunflower seeds and some baby wipes. I guess it is broiling hot over there in Afghanistan. We think that even if the cookies arrive melted and mushy, the guys will like them. And, we included wipes.

One thing I have discovered, something old as the hills but for good reason: when I am feeling down, and I think of others, it is like magic, like healing for the spirit. I prayed for my husband and all of my kids this morning, and as I prayed for them I realized how blessed I am. I prayed for my friends, and for family members. It is so true that when we think of others, our own troubles melt.

My oldest daughter Emily is 27 years old. She is a Registered nurse in the intensive care unit. She sees a lot of death. She deals with the families of the patients. It is heavy stuff, and I don't know how she bears it. She also goes to school part time, so she is very busy. But her heart's desire is to work more with the young people at church, to give of her time and her money and to not think of herself. Just thinking of her makes me want to be faithful in my situations.

Jonny is walking around in his undies and my pink slippers. Charlotte Claire and Camille are being horrid. They are fooling around and screeching and there has been pinching this morning. Me thinks it is the candy. All the candy, spread all over the new rug in the living room, being eaten and played with. Rosie, in this one respect anyways, has been an angel and hasn't even sniffed at it.

Paul is planning a bigger garden than last year. I am indifferent right now. I would rather work on things in here, but that is because I let myself start seeing what "needs" to be done. He and I never seem to be on the same page about what is top on the list. He will buy a rasberry bush and spend all day planting it while I see the holes in the screens. Good thing I love him.

Oh heavenly yumminess, Camille just graciously gave me a bit of her Baby Binks, hollow chocolate bunny. So sweet and delicious. Just a small bite, from the back of his head, not the thick top of the ears or tail. I would like to just sit here and eat a whole chocolate bunny, yum. This is torturous. But since I seem to gain weight just breathing the aroma of good things, I shall hold out and be a good girl.

Yesterday I did forty-five pushups! ha, it isn't like it sounds, I cannot go all the way down. But I did four sets of ten, then one of five and my poor wrists felt like they were going to snap. I only worked out for fifteen minutes because it was a busy day. I took Saturday off, except for my morning walk. Today I will fit in a really good work out, to make up for that taste of Baby Binks. And and and. I have not been terrible, but I have had my share of "tastes" these last few days. But I am telling myself, "Dear, you know how these things taste, so just knock it off and suck it up and leave it alone!"

Our Easter dinner was really good, ham and sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes (none for me), asparagus, fresh broccoli, and pineapple chunks (none for me, I am allergic). I had a plate full of greens, tiny bit of sweet potatoes, and little by little, way too much ham. A little more, and a bite when I was cleaning up, and another, and another. rats. But it was so good. Everyone was here for dinner except for Emily who worked and stopped over later, and of course Benjamin. And Sam, who slept through dinner because he spent Saturday night at his friend's house, and they stayed up all night playing video games. rrr.

If this post seems long and boring and discombobulated, it is because I have kids here on vacation, and there is never a dull moment. I have answered twenty one questions, solved three problems, and refereed two fights since I have started writing this. I ran to the bathroom, re-filled my coffee, and answered the phone. Now I shall go and enjoy my kids and count my blessings.