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

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

one the go, day in day out...

It is lovely out today. Chilly and autumn-like, 59 degrees. I walked down the road after driving Sam to work, and I thought about the next few days. Tomorrow I have to drive Paul to work too, because we are going to one of his co-workers retirement party, this way I can just pick Paul up from work and he won't have to drive all the way home to get me. I also have to bring Camille to visit her classroom tomorrow. She has to bring her crayons and glue sticks and her little nap pad, and put it in her little cubby. wah.

Friday it is going to be hot, 94 degrees. I'm thinking Beach. Saturday: our first event at the Carrier Dome. Our youth aged kids, Emily and Abigail and not Ben because he is far far away, and Mirielle, and Joseph, and Aaron, and Mali, and Samuel, and Margaret, and Kathryn, and Evelyn..will be at the youth conference. So either my sister or my niece Katie will watch the six kids who are under youth age, so Paul and I can work at the Dome.

Then on Monday Paul and I, plus all of our youth aged kids, are invited to Ottowa, Canada, for the opening feast - the church there has a new meeting hall. Abigail determined she would get too tired to go, so she is going to help with the kids here on Monday. So...I have to plan meals. I have to plan what I am going to wear tomorrow. And we still need school supplies. So today, we are going shopping. I have to bring Sonja and Jonathan to Susan's house, they want to play with the twins and William, and are spending the night. I hope they behave and don't fight, and are more of a blessing than a curse for Susan, ha. Then I have to pick up Sam in the afternoon, after shopping with Margaret and Kathryn and Suzanne and the princesses.

Phew. I want to stay home. I started cleaning my room yesterday, and want to finish. Not really, I would rather someone else do it for me, or a magic wand would be nice. I threw away lots of giant skirts and horrid shirts, and old stretched out bathing suits. I threw away big baggy underwear because there are days I find myself wearing them, and they actually fall down. I threw away my lovely bra collection. I had a certain size, a certain style, and I had like ten in different colors. They got too big. Just too big to wear anymore. wah. Now I am not so certain which size I wear, or what style suits me. I know, poor me, right? But it was hard to ditch them!

Well, time to move it move it.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

our new dishwasher....

"has a lock on it, so no one steals our dishes." Camille Anaya, age four.

She is having a popsicle for breakfast. She asked, I said Yes. Why not? Summer is almost over.

Kittens are heavenly. They are curled up together on the couch. They are just all sweet and fuzzy and innocent. Soon we shall start them on kitten chow and get them going in the litter box....then before we know it, we'll be saying goodbye to them. Their mama will be going to visit the vet, so we don't have another litter of kittens.

My morning has not been uneventful. Sweet little Suri can be a monster. She pooped on and near her newspapers last night. Not once, not twice, but FIVE piles of poop. Two puddles of pee. Dang, who elected ME as the Puppy Janitor? I am very thankful for disinfectant spray and paper towels.

She also got into the can of compost stuff....she chowed on corn cobs. She must have been playing with them too, because there was corn all over the floor near the door.

I suppose the answer would be to put her in that crate, whining or not, and get up in the night and take her out to potty when she barks...

It is a good thing she is so cute.

Anyway. I drove Samuel to work because his bike is acting up. I do not recommend buying bikes from Wal-Mart. Complete and total Made In China junk. We bought two bikes, the pedals fell off. The other one, the tire popped, not just the tube, the whole tire. The gears get stuck.

So I drove him, meaning I had to get up at a bit after six am.

The princesses are having fun with the dishwasher box. They made purple curtains and taped them to the windows their sister cut out for them. There is like a half of a load of clean towels on the bottom to make it comfy. Yesterday they were fighting so much about it, I just took it outside and said, "fight out here." They were friends again pretty quickly. I mean, I am not going to referee every little disagreement because it makes a huge-er deal out of things than necessary.

The box is back in the living room now. Looks lovely.

Last night's dinner was very yummy. It was raining out, so I baked the marinated chicken breast. It wasn't as good as grilled, but it was good. We had corn on the cob, and a huge salad with garden tomatoes.

After dinner, Paul was finishing up the new dishwasher installation, and Joe and Aaron were cleaning up dinner. I decided to go for a walk, even though it was sprinkling out. Sam volunteered to go with me. We walked a few miles, talking about important things like his weekend camping trip and World War II. It was dark when we got home, I was glad Sam was with me.

Ah well, time to get moving.

Monday, August 27, 2012

yeah, we have a lot of kids....

I just read one of those cute little articles about having a large family. "You know you have a lot of kids when they won't fit on one couch....when you can't do color coded toothbrushes because there aren't enough colors...when you have too many to even get the "family rate"...." I laughed because our kids don't fit on TWO couches.

Anyway, there are days when I wonder why my life is still so busy - my youngest child will be five years old in November! It could be kittens and the puppy, but I think it is because there are still 12 kids living at home. The oldest three here commute to college (Mali is in the dorm). They are pretty self-sufficient. I don't ask anything of them during the school year because they are so busy. They will help out when they can, they are good kids, but they don't do regular daily stuff for me. Samuel, Margaret and Kathryn will be in high school this year. Then Evelyn, Suzanne, and Sonja will be in middle school. So all those kids will be First Trip kids, meaning they get on the bus an hour earlier than the Second Trip Kids, Jonathan, Charlotte Claire, and Camille. wah, Camille. Anyway....

The day will be quiet, but the work will still be plentiful. I am hoping to use my time wisely. I have ideas about meal planning, and getting more organized. hmm, perhaps. Once those kids get off the bus in the afternoon though, it is very very busy. Afternoon snacks, homework, listening about their days, saying No T.V. now, reminding them where their backpacks go. Then dinner, which will be properly planned, of course...

I just took a Puppy Break. I already took her outside this morning at 7, then again when I got back from my walk at 8:30. She decided she had to pee again, so she squatted in the middle of the living room and started...I told her No, Outside...and took her out immediately...she finished out there, I patted her head and praised her, ran around with her for a few minutes, then came in and cleaned up the puddle. Slap me silly if I ever want another puppy.

One good thing about having a puppy is this: it gets me outside. Several times a day. But it is a good thing, being outside. Going up and down the steps....when we got Rosie, I lost 11 pounds those first few months. That was a few years before I began my New Lifestyle, aka Diet, so I don't count those pounds when I say I lost 60something pounds.

The thing about announcing I was going to lose forty pounds? Well, I do not know exactly what happened, but I am now three pounds OVER my lowest weight. (Lowest since I started this thing, I was of course lighter several years ago...123 in high school...wah). It is Not Fair, this new metabolism I have since losing some weight. I have to count those almonds. If I have popcorn, it has to be just a cup or two, not Having The Bowl On My Lap. The statistics are against us poor people who have struggled so hard to lose our extra pounds. I do not want my pounds back. I am not even ready to be in maintenance mode, I want to lose more, and it is so very difficult. So....this is my life. Forever, or however long I live anyway, this is it. There is no going back, no giving up. It is obviously preferable to the alternative, which is gaining it all back plus probably more, if I went back to my old habits. So I shall fight this fight, make good choices...and when I slip up, I will not give up.

There, I am re-encouraged.

Okay...Afghanistan. What a mess. The Afghan Army soldiers turning on the U.S. and NATO is ridiculous to think they can be trusted. This year has been much deadlier than last year. I guess NATO has suggested that soldiers carry loaded guns always when on bases....what a nice way to live, so relaxing. I will be glad when my son is back home, back on U.S. soil....but even gladder when the rest of them are back home too. I totally support our guys, but have serious questions about what good it is for them to be over there....

Well, it is a fine Monday morning. I wish I could say we are staying home, but alas I promised Miss Evelyn a trip to the library. She only has a few days to gorge on books...

The kittens are being too cute. They pounce and and bat at each other...prance around and somersault, leap into the air...rabbit kick each other...I could play with them all day.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

sunday night quiet....

It was another busy day here in Busytown. With three kittens and a Mama Kitty residing in the living room, with a puppy who doesn't bother them at all since Mama has hissed at her a few times, there is sweetness and sometimes a tiny bit of chaos. The kitties are curled up on the floor with Mama right now, all quiet. Whoever takes one of these kittens will be lucky - they are used to people. They remind me of the book, "Are You My Mother?"....the earnest way they peer into my face.

After church this morning, I dropped the princesses off at their friend/cousin Danielle's house for a tea-party birthday party. Home to switch the big van for the truck, then on to...the Chinese buffet with Evelyn and Suze, being joined by Abigail, Mali, Kathryn, and Sonja. Why did we go there? Apparently I promised them I would take them there sometime this summer.....and summer is almost over. So I gave in. By the time we pulled up at the restaurant, I was glad I had given in to them, and Evelyn said she was glad she had begged me.

Our fortune cookies: Suze's said, "Seek advice from you mother, she is wise." Suze said, "yeah, because she told me to make a volleyball out of plastic bags." True, I did. Long story. Anyway, my fortune had Mali and Abigail falling out of their chairs. We all laughed so hard our stomachs hurt and the boys at the next table were telling us to Shut Up. It said, "You may be hungry soon. Order take-out now." ha. As if we would be hungry after eating at the all-you-can-eat buffet...I don't know now why it was so hilarious, but it was. to the grocery store for a can of coffee, a watermelon ($2.99!), some cherries, and a TimmyHo's coffee for me. Sear's to buy: a new dishwasher!!! We have been handwashing for months now, and when we let it slip, it takes forever to get them all washed. We usually keep up, and I don't really mind washing them....but. It will be SO nice to load them all in and get them washed at once again. I was supposed to get the $299 model, but I had a coupon for fifty bucks off an appliance priced $300 or I got the $359 one for $ has the stainless steel front like the stove and fridge. I hope it works well and lasts long. We have a new water-softening system in, and Paul is going to put in a small filter on the hot water pipe that feeds it, so the hard water will not clog it up and kill it.

Mali, Kathryn, and I stopped to visit Paul's dad on the way home. He had a grand mal seizure last week and spent a few days in the hospital. He can no longer drive, and it is hard for him. He was sitting there on his front porch watching the cars go by. He was glad for the company, and we enjoyed our visit with him. Paul had spent the previous day with him, and he told me how much he appreciated it. Then his mom got home, so we stayed a bit longer to talk to her. They are getting old but aging so gracefully. They just seem more humble, more thankful...and I really like being with them.

Home again home again, jiggety jig. I put my suit on and jumped in the pool. It was 86 degrees out, and humid. Then....over to pick up the princesses from their party. They had too much fun, Camille only cried for me once, and had one accident, opps. Sorry, Kim! They came home, had a nice warm bath, and were tucked in before 9 o'clock.

Mali has been home for the weekend from college, her clinicals haven't started yet. She took Margaret, Kathryn, Evelyn, Suzanne, and Sonja over to where Jonathan has been, at their cousin's house (Sebastian and Linnea and William), to watch a movie. They are on their way home now, so my quiet will be invaded.

My three big boys, Joseph, Aaron, and Samuel, are back from their weekend camping trip in the Adirondacks. The van smelled horrible from all the boys that rode in there. Girls just don't stink up a van like boys do.

One more week of vacation before school starts...I am hoping it will be a long long week. I want to go to the beach, to sit around by the pool, enjoy the kids, just soak them up. For me, the beginning of school is actually physically painful. I cannot stand it. I cannot bear it. The thought of Miss Camille getting on that bus: I can't even think about it. Everytime I start to, I just push it away. I know, I have to grow up and deal...but. I don't want her to go yet. Perhaps she won't want to, and I can keep her another year. But I want Char, too, and Jonny...wah. I hate school. Hate it. It steals my kids from me.

The house....oh, the house....let's just say that tomorrow, I will have my work cut out for me. And since my kids are still on their slightly nocturnal schedule, I will be on my own for a few hours before they get up to help me in the morning. The college kids will be leaving, and I will drive Samuel, then ugh, the work. The new dishwasher isn't hooked up yet, and there ARE dishes to wash. The floors, which were swept today, need it again. Laundry, always. Counters, I know they are under that stuff. ugh, and ugh. But not the end of the world. As long as no one drops in until at least noon.

I am tired tonight. I had a headache-y day yesterday. I was out working in the yard for a few hours in the sun, (dehydration?), had a piece of hot sausage for dinner (nitrates?), and hot tea in the evening (too much caffeine?). I took an evening swim, and my head was pounding...went to bed with a headache. Never ever do that, I told myself later. By the middle of the night, I was in agony. Pounding and pounding, nauseaus, blah. I took four ibuprofen. Didn't even touch the pain. Every time I so much as wiggled my pinkie, I almost threw up. Two more ibuprofen, lots of water. Finally!!! - I finally got some relief and fell back to sleep. When I woke up at 9a.m, my first thought was, "I am gonna sleep all day." Then I remembered Danielle's birthday party, and that I had to rummage through my present closet, wrap the gifts, ect....and then there was church, can't miss that....blah. I have gone all day with that wrung-out feeling that follows those headaches. I feel like I could crawl into bed and sleep for days....but, Sam needs his ride at 6:45 a.m. Perhaps I will feel like a million bucks tomorrow. Now, I shall exercise some grown-up-ness and go get into bed instead of reveling in the quiet...ha, they all came in and there was a squabble about using the bathrooms...wait, two or three squabbles...

Friday, August 24, 2012

don't wish your life away....

This is now. This is life. Not tomorrow, not next year. Only today. Fat, messy house, things to do...this is my life. Am I making the most of it? Grabbing those moments? Hugging those little girls, engaging them in conversation, praising the older kids and talking to them instead of just saying, "you left your mug on the counter with the tea bag in it AGAIN...."?

I got up early this morning even though Sam got in all of his 30 hours of work already this week and didn't need a ride. I heard Suri whining, so I got up and took her outside. Then I sat on the floor with kittens for a while, what joy! They are just so stupid and sweet. Suri is afraid of them. She would come up to me on one side and let me pet her, then tentatively sniff a kitten, then back away. I think it is because Mama Kitty has hissed at her a few times. Mama does not want the kittens in the kids' room though, she brings them back into the living room by the scruffs of their necks. She is a social kitty, and wants these kittens in here. Do I mind? ha. I am having the time of my life. But sadly, they have to be given away in a few weeks. I am sad because I know I am finally growing up...because I know we don't need to keep one.

So this morning I am happy and thankful. There are so many things to be thankful for!!!!

1. Food. The kids get up and wander into the kitchen. There is cereal, bread for toast, bananas, orange juice, milk, oatmeal. That is nothing to take for granted.

2. Charlotte Claire and Camille. They have been awake in their room for a while, but they play in there together, I can hear them laughing. They are so lucky to have each other!

3. My husband. We aren't always on the same wavelenghth, and I sometimes think he doesn't appreciate me enough, sniff sniff, but. I love him more and more, and he loves me. We still have that spark, and I must say it has gotten better and better, and that is all I am gonna say about that.

4. God. Yes, this one should come first, because from Him all blessings come. I am thankful that He has had mercy on me, and helps me straighten out my thoughts. "We are hard pressed on ever side but not crushed, perplexed but not in despair," (2 Corinthians 4) Seriously, our thoughts are our rudder, steering us, and we need to watch over them carefully. It is okay to be tempted to return evil for evil, but it is never okay to actually give in and do it. I find that when I feel hurt or offended, it is in my nature to strike back....and I do not want to do that.

5. My messy home. I wish it weren't messy. I wish it were organized. But, I am thankful for it. For the fun we have here, and the warmth.

6. Down time. I love and appreciate when I can sit here in my comfy chair with my coffee and put my feetsies up. Never underestimate the value of putting those up for a bit. A nurse commented recently that it was amazing that I don't have vericlose veins after having so many pregnancies, and I said it was because I put my feet up too often.

7. Our big yard. We only have two and a half acres, but the kids can run around...we drive by this place in the small city where several families share a small "yard" - mostly paved, between two buildings...there is a small kiddie pool, some tables and umbrellas, and litle bikes...very sad and rather depressing. It makes me feel almost guilty that we have so much grass, and all these trees to climb....

8. My walks. I went on two yesterday. My second one was after dinner, I felt antsy so I put on my sneakers and headed for the hills. I sorted out those thoughts and determined not to have any snacks in the evening, which didn't work because I had a handful of chocolate chips later. But I SO enjoy the mild weather and those walks.

9. Jonny. He is such good company. He charges my phone and my Nook for me, he uses my phone to text his sisters, he answers my texts for me sometimes, he doesn't ask for things in the store anymore, he talks to me about important things like what cars would make good police cars (he pointed out that using gas-guzzlers could be dangerous, because what if a cop had several criminals to chase and ran out of gas?). Anyway, Jonathan is such a good boy.

10. My six teenagers. They know way more than I do. They ever need new sneakers, or have only "one good shirt". They need hair conditioner and they need face wash. When I tell them what they REALLY need, and what I lived without, they say, "In the seventies....", or "back in the dinosaur age...". But they really are good kids, and appreciate things.

11. Good deals. Today, we are going on an adventure! J.C.Penney has a special for the month of August in all their hair salons - free haircuts for school kids up to sixth grade! I will give the stylist a tip, of course, but free! Camille, Char, and Jon are going in this afternoon. Mirielle took Sonja last week. Now, I have never even had my hair cut anywhere, ever, so this is, to me, an extravagance. The princesses are really excited about it. Don't get used to it, girls.

12. Summer sunshine. There is nothing like it. We have almost set a record here this summer, 23 days of 90+degree days so far, and this weekend: sunny skies, warmth into the high eighties or low nineties.

13. My son Benjamin, and his strong faith in God. I honestly don't know what would have happened to him without his faith. Imagine being over in Afghanistan, your major lifeline and hope for the future being getting off that plane to your beautiful wife, then finding out that she has had a change of heart, THEN finding out there is someone else. Please continue to pray for Benjamin, that he holds on to his faith and doesn't give in to despair.

14. My blog. I love writing here. I don't seem to run out of things to say.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

filled with hope...

In, "The Hunger Games", President Snow tells the gamemaster that one thing is stronger than fear: hope.

Now, I am thinking about weight loss today. Because I have been stuck for a while. Getting too comfy, not pushing myself enough. Yah, I have lost 60-something pounds, bigga the deal. I am not on a plateau, in my mind, because a plateau involves a person working really hard and hitting that spot where nothing happens. I am not trying really hard. Just moderately hard. I eat way way way healthier than I used to, but there are things I know I shouldn't have, and when I do have things that are okay, I need to watch those portions. For example, last night I cracked open the peanuts...need I say more? Anyway, for something to happen my life, I have to believe it will happen. This sounds yoga-y and hippie-ish, but it is true. So I decided not to glean strength anymore from what I have already accomplished, and start anew. Again. I will lose forty pounds. There. That is my goal. Added to what I already lost makes it seem too much, but starting now, forty pounds, not too lofty a goal.

We are having absolutely gorgeous weather here in our part of the world. Today: sunshine, high in the eighties. Not a cloud in the sky. Not humid, just pleasant. Tomorrow and Saturday: 90 degrees and sunny. Delicious weather. I will swim and enjoy the sunshine. If only someone would come clean my house for me. ha.

Today, I have to go to the dentist for my broken tooth. I HATE the dentist. Not him personally, just the whole poking around in my mouth thing. I love when he tests the fillings with that sharp thing, dang it makes me nervous. I find myself sitting there all tensed up, every musle in my body clenched...toes pointed toward the ceiling, grabbing the handles of the chair, thinking if my mouth opened any wider my jaw would dislocate. Then the needle into the gums...then the drill. Just the sound of that drill can make me dizzy. I hate that drill. Even with novocaine, I can feel it, and I tense up, dreading an accidental un-numb spot....yes, I have the right mindset for the dentist, don't I?

Lots of my kids are going with me today. They have their school supply lists. I'm sure it will be an adventure.

I am not looking forward to menopause. Life is challenging enough, but more mood swings? blah. I already hate the way my cycles are getting shorter and more random. I mean, it is NOT FAIR to get periods just three weeks apart. Not fun, and not fair. I like to think of myself as a nice lady, a good kind mom...but sometimes I get the tiniest glimpses of how I really am, witchy with a capitol B, and ouch. Then I get my period and That Explains It. Anyway, I am all happy today because I have a week or two or three to enjoy before it comes again.

Now, I sit here and write like no one reads this. At our church conference, a very nice daddy, who was walking with his early rising toddler so Mama could sleep, mentioned that his wife reads my blog. It rather suprised me because I forget people actually read this. This sounds stupid, it IS on the internet, but when I write, I just sit here and write what comes into my head. I have to sensor myself concerning things about my kids that they would kill me for if I ever wrote, but other than that, I am not too careful. I don't think I could write anymore if I actually thought about who reads it.

And now, I shall get out of my comfy chair and get moving. This is particularly hard to do this fine morning because Miss Char is the only one up. Even Suri and Mama Kitty and the three baby kitties are dozing here in our living room.....

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

my favorite things....

The way Paul loves Suri...and Evelyn sitting there with Jon's computer, with her birthday stuff in front of her...Emily got her a nice new backpack, I got her those new drawers to keep stuff in, and a few shirts, and twenty bucks. One of her siblings also gave her a twenty, but no one will fess up. I am thinking it was Suze.

Spoiled Suri...when I saw this, I thought of the new Muppet movie, and the song, "Am I A Man, Or Am I A Muppet..."

Mama Kitty has a comfy kitten-pillow...these kittens are so cute. The little girls are playing with them right now. Camille has one wrapped in a little blanket, and she is rocking it like a baby. I keep reminding them that kittens are very fragile, and they have to be nice and gentle, and take good care of them while Mama is outside.

Jonathan prays every night that God will help the kittens have good homes, and plenty of food.

Aaron loves Puppy too. She is hard to resist, she just loves people so much. She is learning not to jump up, but she gets so happy she can barely contain it, then she just rolls over to get her tummy rubbed.

Favorite things - I think my most favorite is Summer. Summer vacation. And it is slipping away. Only this week and next, and dreaded school will begin. Have I bought their school supplies yet? ha. I have stocked up on 25 cent crayons and 50 cent markers, and 17 cent notebooks, but I haven't even glanced at their school lists. blah.

Summer. This summer, I have gotten up most days at a bit after six to drive Sam to work. He does have a bike, but some of the days were so hot, and five miles there and five miles back...I am too nice. Now his new bike is broken, it needs a new tire. I told him this morning that he will have to get it fixed or ride mine tomorrow, as I have a dentist appointment for myself and two of the kids. One of my molars broke right in half during our church summer conference. ouch. It hasn't hurt too badly, but I only chew on the other side now. I hate going to the dentist. He is a nice guy, but I would rather have a baby with no pain meds than go for a filling, any day of the week.

Anyway, I haven't been sleeping in much this summer. I don't mind being up early though. I take Suri outside for a bit before driving Sam, then take her with me for the ride. Then get home and get my sneakers on, and walk before any kids are up. Home, coffee, oatmeal, blog...before they are even up, most mornings.

Yesterday, on Evelyn's birthday, I took a quick trip to Walmart with five girls, to get Ev a volleyball. They had no volleyballs in Walmart. Dang. So I bought the girls Powerades, and M&M's and two posters for Evelyn, and home we went. I wish I had thought to get another gallon of milk. We are almost out and the store in town is so expensive.

Puppies and kittens and rainbows and sunshine. I talked to Benjamin for quite a while on the phone the other day. He is working hard to move on with his life, and not get bitter about Ashley. His heart has been broken. He thought this marriage was forever. My heart is broken for him, and for her. I miss her, I care about her, and I think she is making a terrible, shortsighted mistake. It is cursedly painful to be a mother sometimes. The phrase, "I feel your pain", is actually real for mothers. I mean, I don't go to nursing school, but I feel anxiety about the upcoming exams, I remind them to remember things, I feel the triumph when they ace those tests. I am not in the army, but when Benjamin was shot at last week (the guy in front of him was hit, Ben had to patch him up and have him 'coptered out, bullets were flying around Benjamin's boots), I felt his fear. I am not in high school, but I make sure my kids have decent sneakers and shoes and clothes and I certainly feel it if they aren't happy. I am not a nurse, but when Emily loses a patient who was much too young to die, and has some mourning to do, I feel that with her. "A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones." Prov. 17, v 22. I can't fake a cheerful heart. I have to have things in order in my own life. I can't hold on to anger, or nurse grudges. I need to let God's light shine on my sin, so I can be pure and refined, so I have something to give my children. 1 Timothy 4:16 "Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine, continue in them, in doing so you will save both yourself, and those who hear you." Take heed to yourself.

Ah, sorry about that! Just my version of thinking out loud. Preaching to myself. There is no recipe written out that I can just follow, like, "How To Keep Sane And Raise 16 Children Into Adulthood." I can seek after wisdom from God, pray for help, and be humble, then it will go well.

I think it is hilarious sometimes because people think the answer to being able to manage a big family is by Being Organized. I am sure it helps, and I would love to Be Organized myself. But. The truth is: it is by the grace of God. He strengthens the bruised and wavering reed. Jesus grew up like a tender shoot out of dry ground, which shows that what is around us doesn't determine the outcome, it is how we TAKE things. I can get everything in order around me, but still be miserable. When I learn that it is ME that has to change, then it goes well. Come hell or high water, I can learn to be content. ha, it isn't written like that in the bible, but the meaning is the same.

And now I am done encouraging myself to face the day. Because sometimes I too forget that it is me that has to be humble, I get caught up in thinking Things Around Here Have To Change, Or Else. And that may be true....but. And now I have to clean up real fast, my new babysitting kids are on their way over to meet me!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

off to college....

Aaron, Joseph, and Mirielle before they left for their morning commute to college. Mali is staying in the dorms this semester.

kittens = joy.

someone is NOT allowed to sleep on the couch...

My birthday Zinnias are not dead yet. I am a plant killer. These almost bit the dust, but I pulled off the dead flowers and watered them more faithfully....anyway, it is a beautiful morning.

Summer is winding down, and I am not done with it yet! We haven't even made our Summer To Do list yet! I want to go to the beach again. Our weather here in central New York state is glorious. Sunny and cool this morn, but it will be a nice warm day, with day after day of warmth and sunshine to follow.

Evelyn Joy is 13 years old today. When she was born, my oldest child, Emily, was 14, Abigail 12, Benjamin 10 (he had just been in the horrible boat accident), Mirielle 9, Joseph 8, Aaron 6, Mali Rose 5, Samuel 4, Margaret 2 and a half, and Kathryn was 17 months. (ha, 9 kids ten and under...yet somehow, we survived). Anyway, Evelyn is going to make her own ice cream cakes today. We will have burgers on the grill, and perhaps some corn on the cob from the lady down the road. She is having a few friends over to swim.

Dang, I thought I would be able to write with no distractions, but the princesses are up now, and Suri is awake again and needs to go out. The kittens are meowing, and Camille has her head in their box, meowing back to them. She just looked at me so earnestly and said, "Luke is hungry, and the Mama Cat isn't here!" Now she is telling them to sit down in their box, so the movie can start. I think she could sit there all day. They are in the living room now, the kittens. Mama Cat, aka Swanson Kitty, moved them from the kids' room to out here because she is a social kitty, I think. They have a nice big box on the couch, and Suri hasn't really noticed them yet.

Anyway, one of these days I will be able to write a decent post...I feel like it is just blah blah lately.

Yesterday, Mali had to move in to her dorm room. She needed some things first, so I took her shopping with Margaret 15, and Jonathan 8, and the two little princesses. We went to Kohl's, where the nice cashier gave me the 20% off discount even though I didn't have a coupon. I got Sam two shirts for less than three bucks each, sandals for Jon for next year, a dress and shoes for Margaret, a few things for Mali, and a sweatshirt for me. Then to Target for Evelyn's birthday presents, then to Price Chopper for chicken and burger and stuff for Mali. After bringing Mali to her dorm, we went to Wegman's for the ice cream for the ice cream cake. Anyway, we made a stop at Dunkin'Donuts for for me, that is. Iced Tea for Ev, Iced Coffee for Marg, and soft ice cream for the three littler ones (99 cents). They were all out of ice cream. Dang, I ordered the each a chocolate glazed donut. As I drove to the pick-up window, the little girls started saying, "Can we please have pink frosting and sprinkles?" So I asked the nice kid at the pick-up window if I could change two of the donuts...he said, "You can keep the chocolate ones, I will just give you the sprinkle ones for free." I said, like an idiot, "It must be my birthday, thank you!" Now, I don't even EAT donuts anymore, but I still get happy to get free ones. I did have one bite of Jon's....

Suri did not pee or poop on her papers at all last night. She does not sleep in the cage, she doesn't like it in there very much. We put a dollhouse across the hallway, so she stays in the kitchen/living room at night. When we first got her, I of course loved her to pieces, but I wondered why in the heck I got another puppy when she peed on the floor and when I cleaned up yet another we are slowly turning that corner, and she is not as much trouble, but still super sweet. She chews things up, she bites on my nice kitchen table pedestals, she has tons of energy sometimes, and still has to be taken outside several-everal times a day. But she is SO worth it.

Ah well, I shall go start in on my work...not that I didn't already wash a bunch of dishes this morning...but there is laundry, and since we are having girls over today, there is cleaning up to do...always always always, right?

Monday, August 20, 2012

monday, slow down!

Little princesses tired out from camping...

Camping is fun. Being outside, being away from computers and iPods, even phones, which don't work in the Adirondacks...being together. Cooking over the fire...(the baked potatoes were SO good, thanks to Emily). But being home and just walking down the hall to the bathroom instead of hoofing it all the way down the road - not bad. And my comfy chair, I didn't miss it, but I am glad to see it again.

I actually like the walking associated with Going Camping. I used to hate it. Now I don't mind at all. One day we went for a walk/run with Suri and the four youngest kids. I weighed in when I got home - not terrible, no gain, but no loss. It sort of kills me because if I had not eaten the candy, I would have lost, with all the exercise I did. We ate really healthy meals, like chicken breast, pre-grilled and heated in olive oil, with brown rice....and taco salad. Hot dogs on the last night, with green beans and baked potatoes. The kids liked grilling them on sticks. But we had snacks. Chips. I only had one. One single chip. Two cookies. But I had Good And Plenty, the candy coated black licorices. And Nerds, which I didn't even know I liked. I had a s'more one night, then a roasted marshmallow. I felt really blah, then realized it could have been much worse. And, It Is What It Is, whatever that means. Over and done, and it was fun.

I just got a call from a friend...a babysitting job offer when school starts, two days a week for a toddler and a little princess older sister...very adorable children. I said I would think about it, but guess what? I think I will.

Miss Margaret is ready for our trip to Target...another busy day, Suri has to go to the vet this afternoon for another shot, and we need groceries. Off I go....

Sunday, August 19, 2012

home from the mountains....

Eleven of our kids, heading out to rent some canoes. They look nice on Abigail's new car. In this picture: Emily, Abigail, Mali, Samuel, Kathryn, Evelyn, Suzanne, Sonja, Jon, Char, and Camille. Let's see....Benjamin is in Afghanistan, Mirielle and Aaron had a class to go to (Aaron did come up for one night), Joe had college orientation, and Margaret wasn't feeling well plus she hates camping...)

For the first few days, we only had seven children. We rattled around, seriously. Paul and I kept looking at them all and saying, "is this IT?" From Kathryn down to Camille, seven kids, from age 14 down to age four. We set up five tents and the shade shelter, and headed to the beach. And marveled at how easy it seemed. It must be because we no longer have to haul the Pack'nPlay and the strollers and the bug nets and the diaper bag....or because we no longer have to chase a toddler while keeping a baby out of the sun...or pull stones from a curious crawler's mouth...or follow a new walker around every single step, especially in the more washing off sandy pacifiers or changing poopy sandy diapers. Instead we relaxed while the two little princesses made friends and swam and played with Jon and their sisters. Suri was our baby. She was a good girl at the beach....
She slept in the tent with Paul and I, and the little girls. She was so good and cuddly! She jumped up on the sides of the tent when she needed to go out...came back in, settled down, and slept like a baby.

Anyway, after being there with seven kids for a bit, Aaron came up with Mali...then he had to go back home the next day. Then...Abigail came up with Samuel and Emily. We put up another tent...six tents, and no trouble. It is a good campground for us...our poor neighbors though. I did talk to them though, they didn't seem to hate us.

My little girls are all tired out from our trip home and playing dollhouse and having spaghetti for dinner and baths after, they need to be tucked in...I am tired too...from putting away clothes and bedding and food and doing loads and loads of laundry...

This, of course, is our real baby...Miss Camille. She loves camping.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

how many tents do we need to go camping?

Five, we think. Bedding, sleeping bags, towels. Food: I shopped yesterday, today I will grill 10-12 pounds of chicken breast, cut it up, baggy it, and freeze it. It can be warmed up either over a fire in a grill basket, or in case of rain, on the small propane camp stove. I will cook up a six pound package of burger, add taco seasoning, and freeze it in some baggies. And we will have hot dogs the last night. They last a long time in the cooler...(yuck though, right?)(but they taste ever so good when one is camping). We will have eggs and bacon, and oatmeal in the mornings. I also bought some Poptarts for the kids. Lunches: peanutbutter and fluff or jelly, and some sliced turkey and ham. Snacks...chips, cookies, blah...not for me!

I have a system for packing. It's called When I Think Of Something, I Put It On The Table. I also have a list. We take the two back seats out of the huge van, and pack everything in there. Then use the third row seat for bedding, and the front seats and first row for seating, along with the minivan. The little girls have a couch full of toys they want to bring.

I had to go buy one more tent yesterday. Paul had the unenviable task of assembling several tents in the front yard to see which ones were usable.

Kathryn is sick. Fever, sore throat, headache. I took her to dr. yesterday, he did a throat culture so I don't know yet if she has Strep. She wanted apple juice and ice cream, so I stopped at the store. Um, $76 later, I was hurrying back out to the truck, where she waited ever so patiently. Sorry, Kap, I just was getting what you wanted and saw this and that, I did hurry. I sounded lame even to myself. But I got some food we need for camping. I hope she is better enough by tomorrow to come...a few of the older kids will be here since college is starting, but I want her to come camping.

After settling Kap in with some ice cream and marinating the chicken I bought, I was out the door again with Evelyn and Suzanne, to buy a tent. And more food. We went to the sporting goods store first, in the big suburb. I reluctantly spent my birthday gift certificate, the one I was going to use on some nice sneakers, on a shade thingy. Our last one broke and refused to fold down when we left during the terrible rain storm.

At Target, I got the tent and some undies for the little girls. They are trying on all eleven pair as I write this. I wonder if it occurs to them that they are all the same size. I really should throw away some of the ratty old ones. I also got them some clearanced shirts for school, which they are thrilled about.

I got up early this morning and walked in the sprinkles. As I walked, I wrote the book I am going to write someday, in my head. My walk was over too soon. When the kids go back to school, I think I will write chapter after chapter on my walks, and walk lots farther.

Anyway, going shopping with Evelyn and Suze is more fun that it should be. Suze got tired so Evie pushed her in the cart with the cat food and marshmallows. Suze is taller than me, so she looked pretty hilarious all folded up in that cart. We stopped at McDonalds for coffee for me, and a frappe for Ev, a milkshake for Suze. And fries for Suze. I ate one. Why on earth are those fries so yummy?

Home at last. Put away the groceries. phew. What a day. I did manage a nice swim in the afternoon before Kap's dr. appointment, our pool is amazing this year, so clear and clean. I love it the most, followed by Camille, then Char.

If this post seems scrambled and disjointed, it is because, A. I took Suri out to pee. B. I am helping the girls try on their new stuff. And C., I keep thinking of all I have to do and know I need to Move It.

So...I don't know if I will write again before we leave. Cross those fingers we have good weather!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

we're going camping!!!

Rain, rain, go away...we're taking our chances! And bringing rain boots. And tarps. And some umbrellas. Yay, I am glad we are going.

Today can't make up it's mind, weather-wise. Rain, then sun, then rain. Bedding hanging out to dry, got rained on, in the dryer now.

I spent a few hours in the pool again today, poor me! It sprinkled a bit, but I was already wet so I didn't mind.

I have been battling some interesting things the last few days. Ironically, Benjamin has been my inspiration to take things right. I feel at the end of my rope, more impatient than ever, and really weak...unable to bear anything. Just the little trials of life...sometimes they feel heavy. Then thoughts come. I feel a bit sorry for poor me. I cannot do anything right. But like I said, lately Ben has been my inspiration. If he can hold out and not lose hope in his difficult and heartbreaking trial, I can be a big girl and not give in to my whiny feelings which want me to go cry somewhere. Not that it's wrong to go cry somewhere, shh, I cried in the pool today, all by myself, then splashed water on my face. Nothing specific is wrong, just sometimes...wah. Life is too much. I don't really believe that though, I KNOW that God plans all things for my best. I just have to fight my way through thoughts sometimes.

It is pouring out and it is SO cozy in our living room. Abigail brought over peanutbutter cookie dough and baked up some cookies. I tasted one bite of Camille's. Dang, she makes good cookies. She rolls them in sugar before she bakes them. I can't get out of here, away from them. But I am not having one. Absolutely not. I had some dessert at a church lunch today, angel food cake with whipped cream and strawberries. So I have already cheated today.

Well, Suri just squatted and peed on the floor, so off I go...

Saturday, August 11, 2012

weight loss picture

Yes, I used to wear this skirt. When it started getting baggy on me, I didn't know what to do, I wore it so much....

I haven't lost much lately. But. I am not gaining! I keep deciding to keep going. It isn't just a one time thing, Yes I Am Going To Lose Weight. No, I have to give myself pep talks. Because part of me is sick and tired of being careful, of saying NO THANK YOU. (and RRR when I say that and hear, Oh, just a little, or It's Just A Small Piece...)Anyway...I have decided to stay the course, to try harder, to get this thing moving again. I bought this tankini bathing suit top, and when I was searching through my dresser for some bottoms to wear with it, I found this skirt, tried it on...and decided to re-encourage myself...seriously, if I can do this ANYONE can. Because I am the Queen of Loving Food.

I had a large ice cream cone today. But my breakfast was only a few small handfuls of almonds and raisins with some coffee. Lunch was watermelon, a whole tomato, a whole green pepper (loving the garden!), with some bacon bits and a little bit of chicken breast. Dinner: a hot dog with no bun, some chicken breast, lots of green beans. Not a terribly bad day...then Sonja came home from her day with Grace carrying a bag of Snyder's Buffalo Chicken Wing pretzels. Oh, dang. I am having tea and a piece of apple pie flavored gum instead.

Today I spent almost two hours in the pool after taking a nice long walk. Yes, I know, I have a good life. Even better - five or six kids swam with me.

Paul brought home a watermelon grown by some local Mennonite farmers. I will never enjoy another grocery store melon again. It was totally awesome.

We are watching the Olympics, relaxing, planning our camping trip....

Friday, August 10, 2012

just a rainy day...

I was nice this morning. I got out of my cozy bed, got dressed, took Suri outside, then drove Samuel to work. It is only five miles away, but I couldn't let him ride his bike in the rain. Suri went with me. I washed a few dishes, ate some breakfast...Quaker whole oats, microwaved with some water...freshly toasted sliced almonds, and half a nice juicy peach sliced over the top. With some brown sugar. Coffee. Yum. The rain is pitter-pattering on the air conditioning unit, and it is dark and cozy in here. Suri is sleeping in the laundry room doorway, and all the kids are still in their beds. I have a stack of library books, and the couch is calling me. I didn't take my walk in the pouring rain, so I will have to make up for that later.

We haven't had many rainy days this summer, so I am rooting for this one to last all the live-long day. I hate when the sun peeks out when I still feel like hunkering down inside. Problem is, we are planning a camping trip for next week, and the weather, which has been hot and sunny all summer, is changing. Rain and cooler days. blah. Not good tenting weather. We shall have to get together and decide if we still want to go to the mountains. I will still swim in the lake even if it is chilly, but it is more pleasant if it is warm. Next week is the only week that will work for everyone schedules though....better chilly and rainy than not at all, right?

Yesterday was a Library Day. Kathryn 14, Evelyn 12, Suzanne 11, Sonja 10, Charlotte Claire 6, and Camille 4, went with me. Jonathan sort of wanted to go but Samuel said he would let him shoot his air-soft gun and watch a movie with him if he stayed home. Jon always wants to go but he really doesn't like the shopping after. Anyway, we got some books, then went to Kohl's to get sneakers for Kathryn. I tried on a few bathing suits and ended up getting a few tankini tops, super-cheap. I bought Jon a pair of shorts and a shirt for school, and a few things for the little girls, and a dress for Evelyn. Then we went to the grocery store. Bread and English muffins, Cheerios and bananas, laundry detergent and yogurt, milk and cheese. We got some gum that tastes like dessert, I chose apple pie flavor. Half price, of course. It is quite good. Sugar free, too. Then, I took them to McDonalds. Bad food, waste of money. Why do they like it so much? I had a few chicken nuggets and a fruit and yogurt parfait, and a coffee. The McDouble looked so good, but I do not eat those anymore. I know, I know, the nuggets are trash too. But yummy trash.

Home...put away the groceries, and jump in to the pool! Before we got in, Paul was mowing in the way back, and suddenly started yelling and jumping around. At first I thought he mowed his foot off or something, but then realized he was getting stung. He had hit a wasp's nest in the ground, and got several-everal bites. He ran to the pool and sat on the side, dipping his legs in...ouch ouch. I had gotten a few myself in the same spot last week while watering that garden back there. He went out later and sprayed the nest. phew, never a dull moment. I was glad it was wasps and not his foot cut off though.

We watched some Olympic diving, and some races, while reading stories to the little girls. They were all tucked in when the thunder and lightening started...I love a good storm, but they aren't quite as impressed. It was a good one though.

Anyway, not much to say, not much going on. But I will mention that I thought I had put on a few pounds being away at our church scale there, so I had to just I was glad to come home and find out I hadn't gained any, in fact this morning I am down to a nice new low! I will behave today, and make myself exercise instead of just reading those library books...

Thursday, August 9, 2012

alive and well....

After a long our church conference

Evelyn and Abigail, my second oldest and my eleventh child...(25 and 12)

Jonathan, 8, helped out so much by making sno cones.

My dear friend Linda, this one's for you. Thank you for the help at the candy store, and for the friendship. I thought we would get a chance to talk more, but it is busy and goes by too fast...

Miss Mirielle, my fourth oldest, working in the kitchen at the conference.

Emily Anne, my oldest, and Camille Anaya, my youngest.

Aaron in the kitchen.

My older brother Bob, at the conference. In the kitchen, of course.

My dear husband Paul...he was only there for one day because he had to work.

Margaret Cheryl, my ninth child, fifteen years old.

Samuel James, my eighth child...17 years old. He was on "watch duty", and had a large walkie-talkie hooked to his belt loop, so I told him I wanted a picture of him looking all Law Inforcer-y. He said, "Mom, you do know you can just buy these at the store, right?". Whatever. And the walkie didn't even show up in the picture, amazing photographer that I am.

Abigail talking with Emmi, a good friend of ours who lost her husband to a car accident last year. The thing about our church - the older ones and the youth have it so good together. No age barriers, just good friends.

Dave and Angela...parents of eight, still in love. Dave is a five year cancer survivor, he had cancer of the asophogus. He is such a good example, they are very good friends too.

So that is where I have been. Summer Conference at our church. Amazing to be there, but phew, exhausting. I heard some good childrens' meeting was about use thankfulness as a sword against our grumpiness. I need that!

My spirit was refreshed, my desire to be faithful was increased, I felt like I was re-converted.

Then it was the day to pack up and come home. It was hot, and I didn't have much help because older kids weren't there, a few middle sized ones went to an amusement park with friends from Canada, ect. So. There I was, packing up the camper. The tent needed to be taken down, bedding packed up, cupboards emptied, clothes taken off hangers... Bringing it all in the door at home. One child was not helping. At all. Grumpy. Going sloooow. rr. Then, she got upset at being asked to do something, swung around, and knocked a glass candle holder onto the tile floor, accidentally, shattered glass, yay. I was hot. I wanted to go in the pool. I grumped and grumbled and nagged at this child. My son Aaron said he heard me complaining and thought, "I guess Mom didn't hear anything good at the conference." Ouch. Yes, ouch. But. I did hear something, and just because I found myself forgetting during that trial, I did hear something. I do need to be more awake, I do need to take heed to myself first and foremost. Yes, it is easy to see that the child is being grumpy. But what about me?!! I am thankful. Thankful that I can indeed see how sinful I am. Thankful that I know God will help me in temptations.

Pray for my son Benjamin. He has been in the biggest trial of his life, over there in Afghanistan. His wife has decided that she does not want to be with him anymore. And if that weren't painful enough, she has found someone else. He is brokenhearted. He has been focused all this time on coming back to her, going on a trip somewhere, being with her. He knows God is near him, and has gotten great comfort in knowing that all things work together for the good for those who love Him. He has a good attitude, but he is suffering. If you could pray for him, that he keeps his faith...he obviously feels betrayed and hurt, and is really working on not becoming angry and bitter.

This has been heavy for me, of course. But I am truly thankful that Ben has not turned away from God, as people tend to do when bad things happen. I ache for him though. If I could take the pain in his place, I would. I told him that if I thought of any magical thing that would help, I would let him know. He did laugh at that, which I needed to hear, Ben's laugh. I am proud of him. One of the sergeants offered to try to get him shipped home sooner, but Benjamin said he cannot leave his men, if anything happened to them while he was gone he would not be able to live with himself, he said. Thinking of others, caring for others always helps us to think less of our own problems. It probably is healing for him.

Anyways, there is much suffering in this world, and sometimes I feel like I could just lie down on the floor and cry. We did have a crying party here in our living room the night the kids found out that Ben and Ashley were splitting up. We were really sitting around watching the Olympics and crying. Then Suzanne pointed out that Jon cries funny, and we were laughing our heads off for a few minutes.

I still love Ashley. I feel like I am losing one of my daughters. I do not want to lose her. Pray for her too.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

i have no clue...

No clue whatsoever, what to write about today. I could mention that I went with Emily to look at a few houses yesterday. Or that I did indeed take my walk this morning. (for some reason, it still seems like a monumental accomplishment to get out the door of this house, alone, and be reasonably certain it isn't going to fall apart without me)(I do carry my phone with me. This morning I reminded Sonja K. that I have it, but please only call me if you need to. She is always the one who calls me when I am out and about to ask important things like, "where are you?", and "did you get me anything?")

I could write about how Suri has a split personality...sometimes she is a tail-wagging sweetie who rolls over to have her tummy rubbed, sometimes she is inhabited by a furniture chewing, paper ripping, toy destroying demon.

I could write about how the door slamming and laughing continued on for hours after I put my weary head on my pillow last night.

I will say that today Samuel James is seventeen years old. He is our eighth child, Emily-The-Oldest was ten when Sam was born. Abigail was 8, Benjamin was 6, Mirielle 5, Joseph 4, Aaron 2, and Mali was seventeen months. Yeah, five kids five and under. How did I ever manage? He was 8 days old when we went to the Summer Conference at church that year. Well, Sam has grown up into an amazing kid. He works this summer at the school, doing landscaping and weed-eating. The boy who struggled to get up in the morning to get on that school bus has miraculously been able to get up at "0-dark-thirty", as Emily says, to ride his bike five miles to work.

The weather here in central New York state is brilliant. Sunny and warm, breezy, mid-seventies, going up to the nineties today. I need to pack because we are leaving tomorrow for four-five days.(and tomorrow is another Grill shopping day) Food, clothes, bedding...Sam and Aaron still have to go to work next week, as does Paul, so they will only be there for the weekend. The two little girls are the most excited, they pack these backpacks full of Barbies and coloring books...and they have these huge fluffy robes they inherited from their sisters, they want to bring them in case we have a campfire and they get cold. Right.

My sister-in-law Kim has been in the hospital for the third time in the last month or so, with her daughter Carrie, who has recurring kidney infections and some other complications. She is only 17...but she had a bone marrow transplant when she was two...and her health has never been good. When a child is diagnosed with cancer, and goes into remission, and the years pass...the "C" word is never far from the parents' minds. Every little ache and pain that comes along can bring the pray for my brother Tom, and Kim, and Carrie and the other kids (there are twelve).

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


Phew. Yesterday, Monday, For the grill at church. Tomorrow I plan to stay home, as it is Samuel's birthday. I am making a nice dinner for him, fresh mashies (potatoes), grilled steak, and corn on the cob. Mirielle is making cake balls for him (cake, smooshed up with a can of frosting, formed into balls, refrigerated, coated in chocolate).

There is more to buy on Friday, last minute things like fresh rolls, salad fixings, and fresh fruit. I also have to pack clothes and food and bedding because we are staying in our camper for four days.

Life is busy. I hate being gone from home so much. I owe Evelyn a million dollars because after being gone shopping so long today, making up some chicken for dinner, I went to a grill meeting, leaving her to give the younger kids dinner.

Home now. Not much to say, I am tired. The little girls are still up, I have to go tuck them in.

We are watching the Olympics...there are 13 of us in the livingroom right now.

Emily is here now...I cannot concentrate. Perhaps in the morning...