summer 2011

summer 2011

Paul and I, all 16 kids and Ashley, Benjamin's wife...Christmas 2012

Paul and I, all 16 kids and Ashley, Benjamin's wife...Christmas 2012

Friday, February 28, 2014

in the quiet of the morning....

I am being lazy. It is only a few degrees outside, so I sitting here in my comfy chair with a big comfy blanket over me, and the little space heater humming on the floor. The dogs are snoring, and the two kitties are curled up together in the hallway. Jon is still sleeping, and Kathryn is doing work in her room. Joseph just refilled my coffee and went back to his drawing, and Mirielle is nocturnal, so she is sleeping.

I was not lazy all morning though. I got the kids ready for school, shoveled the driveway (that lake effect snow is heavy!), swept the kitchen and living room, put some towels in the wash, cleaned off the counters and cleared up breakfast I don't feel too guilty about sitting here.

It has been a while since I have had any peace and quiet, and with this being Friday, the weekends are rather loud and busy, so I had better get this little rest in while I can. Jon will be wandering out here before too long, he will chat while he eats breakfast, then we will do some school work...

So this is special, this little bit of quiet.

Lots of people are getting sick and tired of this long cold and snowy winter. I don't mind it as much, mostly I look out the window and it's pretty. But shoveling gets old. The bitter cold wind I could do without. And I am getting cabin fever a little bit. I can go out and about, but where to? Shopping? I do love me some Target, but I don't like going there because I find too many good things. And the blah mall, blah. I want to walk down the road without navigating around ice and snow. I want to sit on the deck and feel the sun on my skin, not just my face because the rest of me is all bundled up.

And the pool....I have sadly neglected the pool lately. I just can't seem to bring myself to go when it's five degrees out!

Yesterday I did my part to warm up the house. The two little girls didn't go to school because Camille had to see the orthopedic surgeon about her arm, which has healed up nicely despite her continuance to use it when it was supposed to be immobilized. (it is still healing, and is very near a growth plate, so she is supposed to be careful and not fall on it. I'm sure she won't fall, because she's not supposed to.) Anyway. The little girls were here, and the other kids got out of school early because of the snow, so I baked chocolate chip cookies. Camille had to bring class snack today, so I made a few dozen extra big cookies and packed them up for her to bring, instead of the usual granola bars.

The cookies are not being eaten as fast as usual, which I attribute to Sam's absence. He would get a glass of milk, and eat cookies like it was an Olympic sport. Oh I miss him.

Being a parent is challenging sometimes. I have to stop and think sometimes about what I am trying to accomplish. What the big picture is. Having my five-girls-in-a-row born within five years....even if they were my only five kids, I think I would be hard pressed for patience. Margaret is 17, Kathryn is almost 16, Evelyn is 14 1/2, Suzanne is almost 13, and Sonja will be 12 in May. One of them is extremely picky, won't touch a washcloth, uses only papertowels or the scrub brush, hates when others smack or lick their fingers or slurp hot drinks. Of course her sisters know this, and sometimes slurp or smack on purpose. Another of the girls is just plain competent. She can clean, she can cook, and...she can "w"itch! She knows just what everyone else should be doing, and she isn't afraid to point it out. "What!!," she says, "the truth hurts!" Another of of these girls is a sweetie, but really messy. Last night I saw her eating a banana. She poured honey on the banana, and ate it as it dripped all over the floor. Um, excuse me, really?! No wonder I have been finding so many sticky spots on the floor. Anyway. These girls seem to be at odds with each other quite frequently, and they aren't quiet about it. I try to keep the peace, I try to keep them in line...I see both sides, yes, that sister is being a butt-head, but look at how you are acting! I try to encourage them when it's peaceful to be more patient, to overlook things, to say they are sorry....

The thing is, they really do love each other. When they are friends, they are really good friends. But when the claws come out, ouch.

Anyway. Yesterday after Camille's doctor visit, we went to the thrift store and bought an electric piano keyboard for $4.99. It works well if the cord is just so.

We then stopped in at the dollar store and got some fake flowers for them to play wedding, and some beads to make bracelets with.

They don't get bored, my little girls. They dress up in heels and pretty dresses and go from playing office to wedding to store to Barbies to getting out all the art supplies and making invitations to some pretend event they are having. They can mess up the whole house in a day.

My friend Martha lost her mother yesterday. Martha is amazing, she took her mom into her home after her father passed away, and took such good care of her. I am thinking of her today, and sending her hugs, and keeping her in my prayers. She has been such a good example of being a true servant, she blessed her mom so very much. I can only hope my own children will take such good care of me someday....

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

and I finally got my phone call....

I know I already put this picture up a few days back, but I like it. Sam called last evening, and I won't embarrass him by saying that he was rather....never mind. Let's just say that if he could have come home, he may have. But he says he is okay, and has lots of good guys with him, battle buddies, he called them. He says the place is awful, he is still in "reception", real boot camp hasn't started yet. He was given permission to make that one call, and will be able to call again in a month or so. Oh, my heart. I want to tell those drill sergeants...

Dear Drill Sergeants,

Be nice to Sam. He is a very special kid. He has never really been away from home. He is kind and thoughtful, and he will take out the garbage without being asked. He can carry in half the groceries in one trip, usually in his bare feet, whatever the weather. He will go for walks with his boring old mom, and actually enjoy them. He doesn't like to be touched, and sometimes it takes him a minute to figure out new things, and he asks, "What?" alot. He will remember everything he has ever heard, and will be like an encyclopedia of Army regulations to his buddies. He will NEVER purposely do anything wrong, he will never lie, he will never steal. He just won't. He will get upset if he is wrongfully accused. Nothing is ever his fault, but if he thinks about it and realizes that perhaps it is, he will always apologize, in the most sincere way. He likes things to be good between himself and whoever he has to do with. To put it bluntly, he is just too good for this world. Please keep that in mind.

He is not just some guy who joined the Army. He has been enthralled with the whole idea of the military since he was a little boy. His collection of history books could fill a small library, and yes, he has read them all. He probably knows more about World War II than all of you sergeants put together, no offense. He loves his country with all his heart. 'Merica. His true love. He believes fervently in the right to bear arms, and is very excited to be able to do so, thus his choice of being in the infantry. If partiotism were a disease, he would have an incurable case of it.

So please realize what a treasure you have in this guy. Treat him well, and you will have the best soldier the Army has ever seen.


Sam's mama

I was upset after talking to him. I told him how much I miss him, and he didn't want me to. No guy wants to cry in front of his friends, but hey, he might have done them all a favor, if they were calling home too, could have let them know it's okay. But of course they would have just teased him. I sure hope they are being nice to him. It's like sending your kid to kindergarten, only a million times more intense. I know, he's a big boy, he'll be fine. But. That doesn't stop my Mama Bear feelings.

I am trying to get my house straightened around. Yesterday I sorted through shoes (Sam can't need four pairs of sneakers near the door...when he comes home on leave, he can just buy a new pair. Right?) I weeded through the coats and jackets on the hooks, and couldn't get rid of all of his sweatshirts. The girls can wear them camping or something.

I bought Jonathan one of those cube-basket things to put his television on. He and Sam pooled their money a while back to buy a 32 inch set to play video games on, with the understanding that Jon would get it when Sam left. There is no antenna, so it won't get tv stations on it, but it is fine for playing games on.

Spring isn't here, but I am in the spring cleaning mood. I want to sort and organize and make the place nice, and we all know THAT doesn't happen every day.

My heart and thoughts are with a family in our church out on the west coast who lost their mom, a mom of sixteen children also, to cancer. She is in a better place and her suffering is done, but her family has to go on without her...pray for her husband and her kids and grandchildren. They were blessed to have had her in their lives.

It also weighs on me that our good friend Dave's cancer has returned. I know that God sends all things for our very best, and it is comforting that Dave and his wife also know this, but he does have eight kids. I am praying that he can be cured. His first cancer was 7 years ago, and it was a rough road, but he says he learned more things through his sufferings than he ever could have learned. I am praying that he will learn more good things, but will be with us for a long time yet.

Ah well, there is a driveway to shovel, and laundry to switch over and floors to sweep, along with Jon to teach and dinner to plan.

Monday, February 24, 2014

brrrrr.....winter's back!

I took a walk on Saturday. On Saturday, we were having a little taste of spring. It was in the 40's, and sunny. Windy, and not exactly warm, but nice....and whispering promises of good things to come. Today...winter is back. Snow and wind and more snow, 28 degrees out. Forecast for tonight: snow. Forecast for the week: freezing cold temperatures. And some snow.

Suzanne Eleanor, aka Karl, had a birthday yesterday. She is 13 years old, for a total of six teenagers at a time in the family. Not for long though, Mali turns 20 in a few weeks.

Suze said no pictures, so I handed Char my phone and she somehow got a double selfie of her and Karl. (Suze also said she didn't want to blow out her candles, so Camille more than happily did it for her.)

The princesses in their kitty hats, waiting for the bus this morning. So much cuteness.

And just to add to the randomness of this post, here is the new desk-y thing Paul bought for me on Saturday. I should have taken a picture of the old desk we had here before. It was hideous, and it makes me sad just to say that because it was my mother's desk, and she treasured it. It was not even real wood, but that laminated stuff, and the drawer pulls were 70's style...someone had scratched some designs in the side, and some of the drawers were broken. It looked just awful. So. Paul took me to a place that sells unfinished furniture, and we picked this out. I sanded it and finished it, repeated it a few times, until it was nice and even and smooth. It looks so much better in here, matches the tables, and brightens the room. I said, "Money DOES buy happiness." :)

It got me going on organizing a bit too, which is always good, and I run with it when I feel that compulsion, because believe me, I don't get it too often. I sorted through the shoes, getting rid of some that Sam left here. Not all of them, but hey, a kid who just left for the Army doesn't need five pairs of old sneakers near the door. I kept all of his sweatshirts though. I threw some things away that had broken zippers or were stained, passed a few other things along to other people, and filled a bag for the goodwill. Oooh, it feels nice! It makes me want to move on to the closets and and and.

Also, we painted Sonja and Jon's room this past weekend. I helped them spackle and sand, and bought a new vacuum cleaner to clean up the dust, helped them wipe down the walls and open up the paint, but they mostly painted themselves. And ha, yes, they also painted themselves. Jon had paint all over his forehead and on his back. They got a lot on the baseboards, and some drippings on the carpet even though we used newspaper. But it is finished, and it looks brighter and clean and nice.

My new vacuum: Oh, I am such a housewife! I loved getting it! It is a Shark, a small canister-style, with lots of attachments. It only weighs 6 pounds, and has a shoulder strap for doing stairs, and wandering around sucking up cobwebs from ceilings and corners. I vacuumed the furniture, and it worked really well. Our Dyson has a broken hose, which just needs to be replaced, but I just procrastinated ordering the new one, and we needed to vacuum. :)

Anyway. New stuff does make me happy. I understand that a plethora of new stuff would make one numb to new stuff, make one desire to have even nicer new stuff. But I can't lie, new stuff makes me happy.

Just carrying that new vacuum cleaner into the house, ooh, I couldn't wait to plug it in and try it out. Yup, such a housewife.

And the new desk-y thing: I love it!

And today I am supposed to take Kathryn and Jonathan to the library. I don't actually want to go out into the cold snowy day, no way no how, but. I think I might anyway....

Thursday, February 20, 2014

in which life goes on....

This morning....I was awakened early by noise, but what else is new. Kids are on vacation from school, so there is noise in the morning. Well, the little girls play so nicely in their room most mornings, just occasionally yelling or slamming their door...I thought lots of kids were up, so I got up and got dressed....when I started out to the living room, I realized that Jonathan and Sonja were not up yet...they had slept in the living room because....we are prepping their room to paint it. Their bunkbeds are in the middle of the room, with all their stuff piled on them, the walls spackled and partly sanded...

Anyway, I didn't want to wake up the dogs then the kids, so I said good morning to the princesses, and got back in bed with my book: oh happy day. Not for long: Kathryn came wandering in and settled down on my comfy bed to tell me that the general consensus was...a trip to the mall. The big mall in the big city. Okay, I said, before I had time to think of the hundreds of reasons why this was a bad idea. She said they had swept the living room and kitchen and cleaned up before they asked me:)

So to the mall we went. Charlotte Claire and Camille loved the glass elevators and the escalators and going on the carousel. Jon loved going into BestBuy, nerdy child that he is. He also went into GameStop, and I bought him a new game, since Sam left him his game system.

I do not like the mall. It fills me with disappointment. The glitz and the emptiness, the smell of cinnamon buns and fried food, the indecent mannequins, and the people, walking around like zombies. The men-folk being dragged there, just being good husbands/boyfriends/dads...

Sometimes we find good deals. I have all these daughters, you see, and I like to let them have nice things.

Anyway, I have had enough of the mall for a while.

We stopped at the grocery store on the way home for apples and salad stuff and some snacks for the girls to bring over to Emily's house tonight.

Tomorrow we have to sand the walls a bit more, then we can start painting. I do not really want to do this project right now, there are other things I thought should be done first. But Sonja moved the bunkbeds, then decided it needed to be painted, I bought the paint....and I guess an eleven year old can't paint her own room, so here we are.

Sam arrived in Fort Benning and texted me at 1:40 a.m. He will be all right. I will be all right.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

what a day....

Samuel James and I....

Suzanne and Sam and Kathryn....

Sam and Mirielle....

He's gone. He was in the Atlanta airport earlier, he texted me. If he is allowed a phone call when he arrives at Fort Benning, Mirielle will take the call, as she is nocturnal and doesn't work tonight. It was as hard to say goodbye as I thought it would be....but one thing that really struck me was this: after Samuel was sworn in, he stood so straight and tall. Now, I am one of those moms who always reminds her kids to stand up tall and not slouch. Sam never listened to me. But today, he stood tall and didn't slouch:)

there was a man with one hundred sheep.....

That's who I feel like today. One sheep lost, and he left all the rest to find it. Who woulda thunk it, that a man could be so caring about one, when he had so many? I feel so blessed that Mirielle and Kathryn and Suzanne and Jonathan are going with me to see Samuel sworn in to the sad...

I will take some pictures today, even if Sam doesn't like it:)

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

sayin' goodbye to this guy....

Samuel saying goodbye to Camille.....

He left this morning. But we will still see him tomorrow morning when he is officially sworn in. And yes, I know he didn't just walk off the edge of the world. Or die. Or get shipped overseas. But. He left home. And...he is my friend. I am going to miss him so badly I can't even see through the tears. He has been out of school for weeks now, so we really had some time together. He would lecture Jonathan on history, he would bring me coffee, he would tease me about hogging all the half and half. He was almost always game to go out and about with me, especially if there was a stop at McD's or for a coffee....

Today I was out and about, and dang it if I didn't see so many things that Sam would like. It just kept hitting me that he wouldn't be here when I got home, that he won't be here at all....not for a long time. I am home after a day of out and about....The Wizard Of Oz in 3D with Sonja K. and Camille....then to Lowe's to get paint for Sonja's room...then to pick up my new glasses...then to BJ's for almonds...then to Valvoline for an oil change....then to Target for a new undershirt and bra for Sonja K. We also hit the after Valentine's Day candy sale:) If we can manage to save it for Easter, they will get some in their baskets.

The a quick stop for a 99 cent coffee for me, and 99 cent iced lattes for the two girls.....then home. Ah, home. Evelyn cleaned up while we were out, so yay. I need to get moving and get some dinner started, but for now...aah.

Monday, February 17, 2014

and....his last day here....

So I made him some cookies. I asked him what dessert he wants for tonight, he decided just plain old chocolate chip cookies. I don't know why I wasn't thinking more clearly, I accidentally ate too much cookie dough. The dough is way better than the cookies.

So Samuel is leaving tomorrow, in the morning. I have cried three times today, oh I am a big baby of a mama. He has packed up his room, so Margaret can move in. I would rather leave it, so he still had a room to come home to, on leave, but. It isn't practical. Besides, he no sooner signed up for the Army, than the fighting for that room began. Having a room all to oneself is pretty special. Margaret shares with Mirielle and Evelyn now, and they are already planning for the extra space when she moves out.

Anyway. Emily and Evelyn are back from Jamaica....they brought me....
I opened the seasoning and put some on some chicken breast, to marinate for dinner. I think we are having taco salad, and some chicken. They had fun in Jamaica, by the way. They relaxed and relaxed some more. They didn't get sunburned, used plenty of sunscreen, and didn't really lie in the sun. They swam and relaxed in the shade.

Tomorrow I am not even driving Sam to the recruiting office. Joseph is. I already promised the girls I would take them to see the original, "Wizard Of Oz", which is playing in 3D. It only plays twice this week, while they are on winter break from school, and the second time is on Wednesday, which is when Sam is getting officially sworn in, and we say goodbye before he actually flies to Georgia for Basic training.

The girls are excited about going to the movies. Jon too, and a few of the older girls. Then to the store to get paint for a few of their rooms. I think the long winter is getting long, and they need to do something like that. I feel a little stir-crazy too.

Lots of the kids are piling into the kitchen for lunch. They are making frozen chicken bites and boxed mac and cheese...I told them the cookies are off limits until after dinner, we'll see.

This afternoon my thoughts and prayers are with our friend who was just recently re-diagnosed with cancer, as he is having a big test today. He won't find out the results immediately, but the test itself is rather invasive and uncomfortable, so I keep praying for him, and his family today. The whole thing really does make my trials feel trivial.

Kathryn is playing her guitar and singing, Char and Camille are writing sentences on the refrigerator, one says, "If Mom was pritty I would love mum." Okay.

Last evening something funny happened. We went out to church for a little gathering, then on the way home, Sonja asked me if I had my phone. No I did not, as SONJA had it. She said she didn't have it anymore, and we couldn't find it in the we went back. There, in the parking lot, in a tire track, was my phone. It had frozen tiretracks on it. We had definitely run it over. And it still worked. It was only 12 degrees out, so it was too cold to get wet, but I can't believe it wasn't crushed. Sam says I should tell the company. (Samsung Galaxy 3).

First World Probs, eh? Lost my phone!

Well, lots of things going on here....

Saturday, February 15, 2014

happy saturday!

Kathryn and I.....

Miss Charlotte Claire will never hate me! How comforting. And sweet. Although I do think in like ten years she will forget this sentiment.

Suri does this all the she not cute?

I made these cookies today....oh yum. Paleo pumpkin cookies....

3/4 cup canned pumpkin puree
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup coconut oil (I was almost out of this, so I substituted butter)
6 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp baking powder
chocolate chips (I broke up a 3.5 ounce bar of Lindt Intense Dark chocolate with orange....and added a handful of Nestle chips)

Just mix the dry ingredients together and add to the other stuff....they are cake-y cookies, really moist, not dry and crumbly like some of my "healthy" baked goods.

I was craving some thing yummy this morning, especially after I made the girls some homemade waffles...oh I wanted waffles! But I ate eggs instead. I had some frozen blueberries too, with just a sprinkling of oats on top, some milk, and microwaved 'til hot and bubbly. I still wanted something good, so I made these cookies. I think they're good.

Today is a headache day. Sinus-y kind of blah headache. I took a few ibuprofen this morning to try to head it off, I know from experience that if I try to ignore these headaches they can get really intense. I took a second dose a little bit ago, and it still is pounding. I can't work out when I have one of these headaches, I learned that the hard way too. I was thinking of the , "No Excuses" poster, and what a mistake. My head was pounding so hard I almost threw up. Anyway. My body is telling me to chill today, so don't mind if I do:)

Paul and Joseph and Sam left to work at the Dome today for the college basketball game (Syracuse is STILL undefeated! 24-0, and ranked the #1 team in the country). I am staying here with the kids, as all the girls are at a weekend church conference, and of course Emily and Evelyn are in Jamaica still. I have just Sonja and Jonathan and Charlotte Claire and Camille, and Jon's friend Toby. It is relatively quiet, they have dollhouse stuff all over the living room and have been playing house in my room. They like to go from thing to thing without cleaning up, because they are never really done playing with anything.

I was planning to take them out and about this afternoon, to pick up my new glasses, and just get them out of the house. It is lovely outside, but can one really send a child with a broken arm out to play in the snow? And no way is Char going out without her. Anyway, I was going to go out, but Sonja K. is sick. She says she is feeling better because she wants to go, but...I just don't know about that.

They are waiting for me to finish with my computer so they can watch a movie on it.

I found out today that a friend who had cancer seven years ago....has it again. I didn't read his email yesterday, so I was blissfully unaware when I talked to his wife last evening, and now I feel like an idiot, she probably thought I knew, and I didn't say anything. Joseph said something to me about it this morning as I was washing dishes....and I just cried. This guy has eight kids. And he is a terrific father. A super nice guy, a very dear friend. He knows that God weighs and measures each and every thing in his life, so that is a great comfort. He has been an excellent example of seriously living the gospel in his battle with cancer, he is an amazingly happy person, for trusting God with his whole heart. So I am praying for him, that the new cancer is small and local and can be cured. His first cancer was very serious stuff, totally miraculous that he has had seven years after that diagnosis. I know there is a time and season for everything under the sun, and not one of us will escape this life alive, unless Jesus comes back in our lifetime:), and I know that each day has enough trials of it's own and we are not to be anxious for tomorrow....this is a testing of faith. It does really hurt to see friends suffer...all I can do is pray, and be good, and help them any way I can....and trust God.

Last evening Sam had some of his friends from church over, one last hurrah before leaving here on Tuesday. I made five pizzas and ten pounds of chicken wings, and had lots of soda and cookies and some candy for those boys. They are going to miss Sam, and I know it is hard for him to leave them. He feels a big responsibility for is hard these days for young boys to stay on the straight and narrow.

It took me a few hours this morning to get my kitchen cleaned all up:)

My headache isn't getting much better, perhaps a nice late afternoon rest on the couch would do me some good. I could snore with the dogs while the kids watch a movie on my computer. Sounds like a win/win to me.....

Friday, February 14, 2014

enjoying the day.....

This kid is leaving in four days...Suzanne skipped school (report cards already came out, and it is the day before winter break, so she says she isn't missing anything.) Sonja is home too. Kathryn and Jon are here. Joseph is here. Mirielle can't sleep, she is on the couch with a blanket (it is the middle of the night for her). And Sam is here. Antsy, excited, apprehensive.

I shoveled the driveway this morning, which for some reason is one of my favorite things. We got lots of new snow last night, but it has stopped now. Anyway, Happy Valentine's Day. I bought a little treat for each of the kids, so it will be fun....

Thursday, February 13, 2014

the quiet of the morn....

Camille and I like to chill in my chair still, my big giant six year old baby...and Kitty, well...Kitty like to cuddle.

Jon was sitting with Suri, and Sam with Duke....Sam looks too young and innocent for the Army, doesn't he?

I took him out to lunch yesterday. We drove up to a city on the lake, it was cold and the sun sparkled on the snow. We chose a little restaurant on the river, an old brick building with high ceilings and rustic wood flooring. A huge woodstove warmed it. On the bar were two baskets, each one containing a small dog. Those dogs would just peek out at newcomers although one pup did step out of his basket and walk, across the bar a few steps, to greet a patron named Patrick, who looked like he just got off the boat from Ireland, complete with the rakish cap....and got back in the basket. Those pups just stayed put. The waitress/bartender said they are well trained, they just chill there all day. Cuteness.

Life is stranger than fiction.

Sam had a burger, a huge burger with all the fixings, plus a mountain of french fries. We shared onion rings that tasted like they were just cut fresh and battered up, oh yum. I had a an open faced steak sandwich with green peppers and onions, served with home made pita chips and fresh bruschetta. The peppers and onions were still a bit crispy, the steak peppery and done just right, oh it was good. I only ate half and brought the rest home and gave it to Sonja:) Sam saved half his huge burger too, because he had to go to Future Soldiers' Training in the afternoon and work out.

A stop on the way home for coffee, and we were good.

Today would be a nice day to hunker down and stay in the house...but alas, I shall not. Samuel, we have decided, needs to take the leap and join the 21st century...and get a cell phone. He was going to wait until after Basic training, but we talked about it, and it seems smart to get one now, so he can use it when he does get phone privileges. So off we will go to get one this fine morning. He also has a list of things to bring with him, like shaving gel instead of aerosol.

One of my daughters was dragging this morning, stayed up late doing homework. She does too much, between school and church and working out, and all the she sat there saying that no one who didn't walk in her shoes would understand how exhausted and busy and frustrated she is. I get that. But. I do know what being tired and overwhelmed feels like, and when I tried to comfort her, she brushed me off. I guess one's sleeplessness is unique, no one else can possibly imagine what MY tired feels like.

If there is one thing I do know, it's what tired feels like. Oh the tired years....days and weeks and months and years of being tired. I look back at pictures of my kids, of sunny days and happy times, and I can bet you a million bucks, I was tired. Getting up in the night with a baby then taking care of toddlers and older kids, ever chasing the elusive Good Nap, than reading books when I could be sleeping, eating bagels and toast and cereal not realizing the wicked vicious circle of fatigue I was trapped in was magnified by a poor diet filled with sugar and carbs....boosted by afternoon cookies, to comfort my poor tired self for missing yet another nap for one reason or another.....yeah, I remember Tired. Tired was my closet, most hated companion for those years.

Yet...I would do it all again in a heartbeat. In fact, if I knew it would slip away and go by so fast, I would have enjoyed it more, focused less on how tired I was and more on how amazing and funny and sweet those babies and little ones were.

But we don't get a re-do.

And....I am pretty sure I made the most of my days.

Anyway. Here I sit in the quiet, knowing full well that I should get out of my comfy chair and pack my bag and go out into the cold morning and got to the pool. I just can't. I don't want to. Maybe tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


Zero. That's the temperature here this morning. It was colder before the sun came up. Zero. It's also how much weight I lost this year so far. Well, I actually lost several pounds, but found them all again, so I am the same as I was at the beginning of January. Zero. That's how much motivation I am feeling this morning.

The sun is shining today, shining on piles of sparkling snow. The kids who go to school all went to school, even the two little princesses, all freshly showered with their hair blow-dryed, backpacks filled with homework all completed, and lunches packed. The house is too quiet, with Jon still lying in bed reading stuff on his tablet, Kathryn doing work in her room, Joseph doing who knows what, Sam still sleeping. The dogs are snoring, and I am tempted to go back to bed.

I have swept the floors and washed the dishes, and am feeling restless. It isn't that there's nothing to do, it's that there's nothing I WANT to do, and organizing and shining and dusting and scrubbing...blah.

Emily and Evelyn have the right idea. Right now they are probably exploring the resort, walking on the beach, or testing the water in one of the pools, down in Jamaica. They probably had fresh tropical fruit for breakfast. They probably had to lather on the sunscreen, with their blonde hair and light complexions. Oh, sunscreen! Sunshine on my skin, I miss you! I could go get some on my face, I guess, but the zero temperature would definitely negate the good basking feeling.

Samuel is leaving in next week, so I might take him out to lunch today or something. I want to make the most of our days here, since seriously, we will hopefully see him when he graduates from Basic in June or so (road trip to Georgia!), then...who knows? He could be stationed in South Korea or Germany or Hawaii, or he could be at Fort Drum in northern New York. He is antsy, a little nervous, lots of energy, restless, done with school and done packing up his stuff, ready to go, but not leaving yet...

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

snow day!!!!

Miss Camille Anaya

Miss Charlotte Claire

And, just for good measure, a picture of Kitty napping with Suri.

Emily and Evelyn left for Jamaica this morning. Evelyn had gum and new lip gloss and new sunglasses and two packs of Mentos and some M&M's and a couple of Luna bars in her carry-on, and I made sure she had her passport. Emily made sure they had sunscreen. Off they went. Joseph so nicely drove them to the airport at five a.m., but I did hear Duke barking when Emily arrived. And when Joe got back home from the airport. And when Mirielle got home from work this morning. I also woke up Paul got up for work, and to check to see if there was school in all this snow. A two-hour delay. Yay! I fell back to sleep for like the hundredth time, then Sonja came barging in and announced that school was cancelled. yay. Now, where was I...ahh, back to sleep. See, sleep has eluded me for so many many much that I just adore it, worship it, covet it, Back to sleep I went. Then Camille brought me in a letter she wrote for me. I actually drifted off AGAIN, then Char brought me one...okay, that's it, I give up.

I do like to get up anyway, on snow days, to revel in that excitement that only a snow day can bring. The promise of staying in all day unexpectedly with all the kids, the thought of perhaps baking cookies, having tea, watching movies...

The REALITY of a snow day is sometimes a bit different though. Laundry and dishes and sweeping and mopping the of my teenager daughters plugging here ears and moaning when I start to belt out a perfectly good of the other kids nagging Camille for playing her plastic flute (it WAS annoying, but jeepers.), an argument about the unequality of having the boys take out the garbage....oh, the usual. I don't know why I am surprised that it is so absolutely crazy here sometimes, with still eleven "kids" still at home. They all have their opinions, and are not afraid to voice them.

With so many older kids and so few younger ones, I have to remind the older ones that the little kids still have the right to be little kids...which includes making forts and noise and messes. They got to do it when they were little, and these kids also get to.

Today, I do not want to make cookies. Okay, I do, but I don't. You know what I mean. I'm not sure if I could not eat them.

Ah well. The Complaint Department is now open. One sister is telling me how her sister doesn't take care of her goodbye for now.

Monday, February 10, 2014

snow snow snow

Evelyn(14) and I, Sonja K.(11), and Suzanne(12). Kathryn(15) was in the van taking the picture, she didn't want to get out and get in one. There's always one who won't co-operate when it's time for a photo.

I was nice and picked the three girls up from school when Kathryn and I were out and about. They made me take them to DunkinDonuts for 99 cent lattes, which upon receiving from the drive-through lady was informed that the limit is ONE per customer, but that she would make an exception this time. Well. okay. We went to BJ's and got green peppers and veggies and apples and sandwich bags and shampoo and milk and blueberries and yogurt and M&M's and dark chocolate covered rasberries (what, I had a coupon!)....

Then...because I am so nice, I took the girls to the TacoBell drive-through, ordered $8.48 worth of horrid smelling tacos and nacho thing-ys. I love this No Appetite thing:)

Then to Marshalls to find something nice for Evelyn's trip to Jamaica...she is leaving in the morning, with Emily, my oldest daughter. We found a few nice tops and a pretty skirt.

Home..ah, home. I told the girls I was gonna go home and get into bed, but guess what? I didn't. There were groceries to put away, and Emily stopped over, Gramma called, Paul came home, the little girls had homework to sort through....some of the older ones and Paul left for meetings and activities at church, and I gave dinner to the four youngest. An easy dinner of leftover macaroni and cheese, turkey sandwiches, and carrots. I had lots of spinach on my turkey, which was on a 16 calorie rice cake thing, followed by a rasberry Greek yogurt with some chocolate chips....yummers.

Now the girls are going crazy, Jon is hanging out with Sam, the dogs are sleeping, and here I sit. I feel much better but oh so tired. Tomorrow, I am going to my brother's house to babysit for a few of his grandchildren for a few hours....:)

ahh, monday.....

I was going to write, "Monday morning", but alas, it is no longer morning. I slept the morning away, but before you get too jealous, let me fill you in: I was so sick last night. Ugh, blah, and dang, I was sick. I think I must have picked up something working at the Dome...I mean, thousands of people, handling money and serving food, I don't know. I was extremely tired all day yesterday, having just worked at the Dome on Friday....and I felt just not well. When we got home, I was DONE. I put my feetsies up, watched, "Downton Abbey", and that was it. phew. After I got into bed, I started having wicked stomach pain, and now I will be polite and spare you the details, but it wasn't pretty, nor was it fun.

It lasted most of the night, then when it was time to get the little ones up for school, I wimped out and asked Paul to ask Kathryn to send them for me. Thankfully she did so, and with a good attitude too.

My stomach hurts really badly. I feel washed out, tired, and just plain the total definition of the word BLAH.

But I don't want to complain. I mean, I am really really trying to fit in daily exercise, but today, ha. No thanks. I thought of the controversial poster of the young mom with three little ones, looking fitter than a fiddle, flashing those amazing abs of hers and asking, "What's Your Excuse?" Well. I have lots of them.

Anyway. I need to go pay the taxes today, and go to the store. Yeah, the store. We are out of bread, out of butter, no apples in sight, no bananas or yogurt. I don't FEEL like going, but I am going to try.

What I FEEL like doing is going back to bed. The one good thing is that I have absolutely no appetite, and if you put a box of donuts in front of me I wouldn't even desire to take a deep whiff of them.

I would like to bottle THAT up for one of those ravenous days.

Anyway. Samuel is leaving next week. The days are going by, and he is getting....antsy. He is excited, yet apprehensive. I am just feeling ripped off. Yeah, he's a big boy and it's his life, but he is just so much a part of my days. He is hilarious and has the biggest heart. He is like this huge little kid in a big man's body. I always thought of Sam as too good for this world, not a mean bone in his body. And the Army of all places! Oh dear. His boot camp, or Basic Training, will be in Fort Benning, Georgia. Infantry training, no joke. I know, thousands up on thousands of other young soldiers have survived boot camp, but guess what? I bet thousands upon thousands of moms have been secretly wondering if they trained their boys up well enough, if they would be able to handle it all without crying, if their boys would get through it. If they had done their Mother Job well enough to prepare their son for the harsh reality that is the Army. (oh, and lest I forget, daughters too, I forget that girls grow up and join the Army too...just not at Fort Benning basic, Sam says, because they are infantry only). Anyway.

I am not looking forward to the Goodbye.

Sam is out shoveling the driveway right now, with Jonathan (gym class?).

I do not know if I am going to make it to the store. I am not feeling it.

Friday, February 7, 2014

happy friday!

Well now life wouldn't be life without the bad things, would it? I can't blog about everything that happens, and sometimes I wonder if I give the impression that my life is smoooooth sailing. In one way it is, but that is only because of this single reason, which has nothing to do with ease or good luck: God's grace. And that grace isn't just poured out on me because I happened to win the grace lottery or I am secretly really special. No, I have a rotten flesh and a selfish nature, just like the next guy. all that happens, good or bad or in between, I know that there is salvation to be attained to, and I believe with all my heart that God sends everything for my very best. isn't my circumstances that are blessed, it is the work that God does when I give my heart to Him and trust in Him.

I have been doing okay for the last few days, eating-wise. Two days. ha. But, a drop in the bucket WILL fill up the bucket, if another drop falls in each day. Unless some of it evaporates in a donut attack. But we won't think like that.

Yesterday I took Miss Camille to the doctor for her broken arm. He talked to us for like three minutes then got a phone call, nodded and said his goodbye, and was out the door. hmph. rudeness. She has to keep the arm immobilized for three weeks, no running or falling, no gym at school, then back for another appointment and an xray to see if it has healed.

Charlotte Claire came along too, she didn't want to get on the bus alone:) Now that Jon is homeschooled, those two little girls never want to go to elementary school by themselves, the rest of the kids are middle school or high school and go on the earlier bus. Samuel went along with us too, to drop his high school transcripts off at the recruiting office, and because I promised him we would go out to lunch. We went to the grocery store first for dog chow and kitty chow and bananas and peppers and oranges and cheese and milk and detergent.

Then....we ordered take-out Chinese to take home. The little girls wanted, "to go somewhere, Mommy please!", but I did NOT want to go to the all-you-can-eat-buffet, and...I just wanted to go home. We did. And it was nice. We sat at the table, they opened their fortune cookies, and it was really fun. I think we all are conscious that Sam's days here at home are ticking away, and are trying to just enjoy him.

We are supposed to be leaving for the pool in a few minutes here, so I need to get up and move it. We are working at the Dome this afternoon/evening, the Globetrotters will be there. Working at the is nice to be with my friends, and we jokingly say, "Dome time is family time!" because so many from our family work there...tonight, for example, Paul and I, Emily,Abigail, Joseph, Sam, and Margaret. Mirielle works sometimes too, and Aaron occasionally. I don't mind much, but it kills my knee. Standing for so long, the cement the pool this morning might really help.

Jon has school work to do, but he is so distracted. He is feeding yogurt to the cat, and Suri is begging for a taste. Those dogs are Jon's besties, he loves them to pieces. He is going to the pool with me too, and Sam is going to run on the track. (oh my soul, will he be in good enough shape for boot camp? Will it just do him in? I hope he doesn't cry. I can't bear it. Yeah, I know, I am a drama queen where it concerns my kids going out into the big bad world, I do know that:))

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

move more eat less....

Okay, okay, I already know that. I do. But it's winter, and my walks have gone to "H", which stands for, "heck", of course. It's too cold to go to the pool, and I'm always hungry. So you see the problem here, right? Yup, it's mental. I WANT to succeed, but I have this little mental battle to fight, day in day out.

Now just for the record, I haven't gone off the deep end and started eating bread again. No sandwiches for me. No toast. No bagels. No white 'tatoes. Even brown rice, just a spoonful. But. The little things here and there, oh they kill me. My metabolism is different than it was a few years ago, so now just a little ice cream causes the scale to jump up. I cannot cheat, at this point. My knee has been extremely painful lately, making walking difficult, and exercising not much easier. The pool really is the answer, but today...the roads are terrible and it is snowing again. Excuse? Hard to say. Oh, I so feel like giving up, but I can't.

I will list all my trip-ups....

1. Chocolate. Dark chocolate...they say it's healthy, but that's only if you have that little thing I like to call Self-Control. Because ten squares of anything is gonna make one fatter.

2. Peanut M&M's. There are peanuts in them, they are healthy! ha. Ever do the peanut M&M math? 9 calories each....multiply that by one hundred, and wow.

3. Chocolate chips. We always have the three pound bag of Nestle in the baking cupboard. A small handful makes any diet yogurt yum.

4. Popcorn. With butter. I have tried reasoning, I have tried limiting, I have tired taping my mouth closed, but somehow, popcorn still gets in there.

5. Whipped cream. Oh heavenly coffee, whipped cream makes everything better. I have stopped buying it.

6. Snyder's Hot Buffalo Wing pretzel bites. What?! You've never had them? Good for you! Because they are too good.

7. Anything pumpkin. Muffins, cookies, pies....I do not want them in my house. I will eat them all just to get rid of them.

8. Chocolate chip cookie dough. Big spoonfuls, small spoonfuls...once I start....dang.

9. Oatmeal cookies. I love them to death. Fresh baked and chewy, with chocolate chips or raisins...just too good.

10. Reese's peanut butter cups. Even typing their name gives me the drools. I love them, love them, love them. The miniature ones are the best, with that thick chocolate...unfortunately, the 50 ounce bags of the Hershey candy...with the peanut butter cups and Kisses and Krackel bars, and Mr. Goodbar, and Special Darks....they were $3.99. After Christmas clearance. Would you believe me if I told you we went through like ten bags since Christmas? Yeah, I helped. The bad thing is....I really limited myself. I think I could almost live on chocolate....

Of course there are infinite things that TEMPT me, but I don't eat them anymore. I of course like donuts, wait I LOVE donuts. But I don't eat them. I love pizza, but don't eat it. I love mac n'cheese, and pasta and grilled cheese sammies, but no more.

I basically eat meat and veggies, eggs and fruits, almonds and occasionally peanuts. But. The honest truth is that there are still many things that trip me up. I know I can live without them, and I will. I know I can move more and cut these bad things out again. I will.

Just writing this has encouraged me, again. Sorry if it seems like the same old same old, but this fight will never be over for me.

And some people don't eat when they are anxious about things. Isn't that No Fair?

Anyway, we won't get into the No Fair stuff.

Today, the kids all went to school, except for the homeschoolers, of course. I went out with the two little girls, and the two puppies, and shoveled the driveway. We got quite a bit of snow last night, and more is coming down now.

Today is the first day of the rest of your life, as my mother used to say.

Monday, February 3, 2014

paul and me......

Paul and I....I love him:)

superbowl sadness.....

Poor Samuel. His team, oh they lost big time. He was of course just kidding in this picture, he is such a funny kid. I don't care a whit about football, I was surprised I even knew who was playing this year....but Sam is leaving for Basic training in just two weeks, so I put a little effort in making it festive here. We had a nice brown sugar ham, fresh Italian bread, and salad bar fixings, plus Mountain Dew for the kids (if you think it's easy to give them that garbage, oh it kills me, but they loved it), and chips. No chips for me. And ice cream cones.

Today will be interesting. I am waiting for a call back from the orthopaedic office concerning Camille's arm. The report was sent there, and the dr. will look at it and call me about setting up an appointment if necessary. I also am going to the Dome this afternoon to work at the concession stand. (They won against Duke on Saturday, they are still undefeated....can you tell I do care a teeny bit about college basketball?) Syracuse is ranked #2 in the nation, but may be moved up to #1 today, they are playing Notre Dame this afternoon. Saturday's game was LOUD. And so very exciting. Paul and I poured beer, so we were done after half-time, and were free to watch the remainder of the game. Standing there on the hard cement floor was a killer, it was way too crowded to find a seat, with over 35 thousand fans packing the Dome. Syracuse was winning, and at the last second, a three pointer from Duke....overtime. Tie score, five minutes added to the was exciting, but honestly, my knee hurt like the devil....Syracuse went on to win 91 to 89, and it was all good. Too good. People were going nuts! I don't much like crowds, and this was a crowd, a happy crazy one.

Anyway. Yesterday I went to the pool, which felt great. Home for a snack of almonds and grapefruit and a few handfuls of popcorn, then off to the mall to pick up some new glasses for Suzanne, Samuel, Jonathan, and I. The guy broke mine while trying to tighten the frame a little. Snapped the lens, so they need to be reordered.

We stopped at the toy store because I promised Camille we would do something fun, and I can't very well take her bowling or to the McDonalds playland with a broken arm. And shh, I love the toy store. We looked at dollhouse stuff, which I wanted to buy, but didn't. I got her a few little trinkets that we found marked down that added up to less than ten dollars, and she was happy.

Grocery store for salad stuff, then, ahhh, home.

The days are busy but sometimes I remember how much busier they were when I had littler ones, nursing babies, toddlers. I sort of miss those days, and I truly wonder how I ever managed.

Paul is at work today. Coming home from the novelty and adventure of a two week project in France to....chaos and the huge propane bill and noise and Camille breaking her arm and working the Dome and the leaky washer and the tires in the minivan that need air.....I wonder if it is overwhelming. I actually know it is overwhelming. I have this little fear that over time, he will prefer his time away....I know he loves us, and me, and all, but. It is there, that little fear.

He brought home some scarves for a few of the girls, and tea from his co-worker from England. She brought him tea, he brought her Lucky Charms for her daughter. He got me flowers from the gas station on the way home from the airport:), I am not kidding. But I loved it. Spontaneous, and with a kiss. I do love him.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

saturday morning.....

Every once in a while, it's good to feel accomplished. For someone like me, it doesn't take much. This fine morning I woke up on the early side, took a shower and washed my hair just in case any of the other kids decide to climb a tree and fall on their arm. After a good workout, I peeked in on the girls...playing nicely. Paul had left for the dump then the gym, the older kids had left early for the basketball game at the Dome, the other kids were still sleeping. I swept the floors and washed counters and did up the dishes. Breakfast time: sauteed summer squash with red onions, bacon, sausage, eggs, coffee. I remembered my vitamin D, and a few other vitamins. I helped Camille decorate her Valentine's box for school.

So it has been a good day.

Paul and I are leaving for the Dome in a few hours to work at the concession stand for the basketball game. It is a big game for this area, more than 35 thousand people are expected, with broadcasts from ESPN.

Okay, the Hair Wash Thing: I don't like going out and about unless my hair is clean, my teeth are brushed, and I have clean clothes on. Neat. Maybe not beautiful or in the latest fashions, but neat and clean. I think having so many kids made me more self-conscious about it. When Sam was just a little kid, Mirielle threw a softball really hard and hit Sam in the face. He obviously needed to go to the emergency room, but....I really needed to wash my hair. I also had many small children, who had been outside playing...they needed some cleaning up too. Now, if it was a true emergency, I would have just gone. But Paul was going to be coming home from work soon. This was before cell phones, and when I called him at work, there was no answer, so I knew he was on his way home. He couldn't believe I made Sam wait. :)

Kathryn is making red velvet cupcakes. I hate her. It smells heavenly in here.

Paul is home now, oh it's nice.

Time to get ready to leave.....