summer 2011

summer 2011

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

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

Monday, March 31, 2014

monday, where have you gone?

Our backyard this afternoon...still a little bit of snow. It was 43 (6c), and Miss Camille wanted to go barefoot. Instead they dragged out a few big comforters and tons of dolls and played house in the little playhouses in the yard.

Jonathan and I were able to enjoy the sunshine a bit, even though it was still quite chilly. He rode his bike while I walked.

Going out to breakfast this morning with my friends was SO much fun. I do have to mention that the cinnamon raisin toast was out of this world, baked fresh by a place up in the next county. I didn't mean to eat both whole slices. We sat for too long and drank too much coffee, but oh we had a nice time.

After eating all that bread for breakfast, along with some scrambled eggs (I left the hashbrowns on the plate, so I wasn't too terrible)...I had a grapefruit, a few almonds, and a protein bar for lunch. Dinner: taco salad with no taco chips. This evening has been super challenging...I want chocolate! I finally had like ten chocolate chips and four almonds, then a few bites of a paleo pumpkin cookie, and now I am better, but oh that chocolate craving....I have so much Easter candy in my room, and it was calling my name!

Yeah, I get sick and tired of being plagued by wanting yummy stuff, but hey, I made through another day. Resist the devil and he will flee from you, right?

I am hoping to go visit Benjamin in Washington state at the end of April. If Emily can get that Friday off, we are good to go. I just have to see them, and that baby of theirs. My granddaughter. I simply can't wait.

And....lots of kids are up and about and I can't concentrate here....

Sunday, March 30, 2014

lazy sunday....

Well, for right now, it's lazy. I swept the floors, put in a load of towels, and made breakfast, omelets with peppers, onions, tomatoes, and sausage. I brewed some more coffee, and here I am. Ah, I just got up and refilled my coffee which meant making another pot, put the towels in the dryer, and washed some dishes.

Second cup is just as good as the first, yum.

So yesterday, five of my kids (Emily, Mirielle, Joseph, Margaret, and Kathryn) worked at the Dome with was a long day, two lacrosse games. It was Kathryn's first Dome event, as she just turned 16, and she had a major headache by the time we closed the stand. I told her she has to take breaks and drink water. Anyway, it was Kim's birthday (my sister-in-law), so we took her to Five Guy's afterward. I know you want to know what Five Guy's is, so here goes: you walk into this burger joint, and there are stacks of huge sacks of potatoes, with the place of origin on a sign on the wall, they buy from local farmers. You order either a small burger or a large burger, and tell the cashier what you want on it, she hits the buttons as you add things, and the toppings are all free with the burger. Then the fries are fresh cut, and heavenly yum. I had a burger with lettuce, tomato, hot sauce, raw green peppers, raw onions, and sauteed onions. I ate the whole thing, fresh bun and all. I cannot remember the last time I had a burger bun. Oh dear it was good. I only had six fries, oh, and one of Emily's cajun fries. It's a tiny bit apparent that I love food.

Other than that, I have been behaving myself, and the scale is starting to slowly creep down.

Anyway. Today, a feast at church...slow-cooked chicken with peppers and cilantro, wraps, and all the fixings. Plus fries, and pudding cookie-crust pies for dessert. Emily is the main cook today, with Joseph, Kathryn, Suzanne, and Sonja helping.

We heard from Samuel yesterday. Paul was home with the little kids when I was at the Dome, so he got the phone call. He is doing okay. He got hit in the face by one of the sgts. during combat training, but said nothing broke. He also was offered the possibility of training for an Old Guard position, which is very honorable to even be asked. Besides the height/weight requirements, the guys were asked several questions and several were eliminated, but Sam was still there in the small group of guys left, because he has never smoked or been arrested or had any traffic tickets. I think the Army is just looking for squeaky clean guys, and Sam is certainly that. I don't know for sure if he will train for that or not, but he was pretty excited to be singled out.

He says he is doing fine, lots of push-ups and running, but he likes the training exercising. Finding co-ordinates while out in the woods, putting together his very own rifle, and rolling around in the mud in the obstacle's just his thing.

Tomorrow morning I am going out to breakfast with two of my very favorite people, Dave and Angela. I have written about them here before, they have eight kids still at home, and he has cancer. Again. His story is a miracle, as he beat the odds and was cancer free for seven years after treatment for cancer of the esophagus. He now has some spots on the lung, and in lymph nodes. So Tuesday he starts chemo. Again. He has full faith that his life is in God's hands, and that God sends all things for his very best. He is such a very dear friend, a great guy, so encouraging to be with...even when he was sick and tired and physically exhausted, he would be thankful. Both he and Angela are such kind good friends.

And in the afternoon, I am picking the little girls up from school, along with their two cousins, Sean and Danielle. We are going on an adventure, perhaps to the library. They want to go to the cemetery to visit Robert, their brother who was stillborn between Sonja and Jonathan, but I don't know if it will be warm enough outside for that. Jon talks about Robert sometimes, he wishes he had lived so he would have a brother close in age to play with, Jon is a little boy island in a sea of girls here, with five older and two younger, (plus the four older older girls, and the four older boys). He said the other day, "But, if Robert had been born I wouldn't be here." I told that was not true at all. That God planned for Jonathan to be here since before time, it is written that we have been called since before the foundation of the earth was layed.

And so my lazy Sunday is ticking by, I have to go get the little girls dressed and ready to go to church....

Friday, March 28, 2014

playing hooky....

So....this fine morning, we stopped at a cemetery because as we were driving, we passed a small one and I thought it would be fun to stop and explore...and right as I thought that, Miss Char said the same thing! So I drove on to one I knew of, in a small old village...they bounded out of the van, and started reading the names. We are strange people, I guess, to enjoy cemeteries. I know they are full of loss and sadness, but they also tell stories, and for homeschooling Jonathan, help with math, because hey, how fast can YOU figure out how old someone was at death, if they were born in 1846 and died in 1905?

Anyway, we had the little girls with us because Suri had to be at the vet all the way on the other side of the small city this morning before 8...and no one here could take second trip and get the girls on the bus. They had to get up extra early, and wore school clothes, carried backpacks, and nicely packed lunches. Well. They were out and about with Mama, they did not want to get driven to school. Since we were in the city, I did stop at a grocery store, and let them pick out a donut...Camille started in on how she wasn't feeling well, she didn't think she could go to school, oh how sick she felt, she said as she picked out a small bottle of strawberry milk. uh-huh. Anyway, I caved. Not because they wanted to skip so badly, but because I wanted to be with THEM so badly. We reasoned it school today they were having a Parents As Reading Partners finale, to celebrate the end of the four week reading program, complete with...watching a movie.

So, they missed their spelling tests, but not a whole lot else. And here they are at home, playing dollhouse with all their little hearts. They are singing, and talking, and in their own little world. They ate their lunches on the living room floor surrounded by little furniture.

Can you guess how happy I am to have them around today?

I wrote and mailed a letter to Samuel today. I want him to get a letter from home every day.:)

Anyway, Suri was a little nervous to be at the vet, but she was still so good. She wagged her tail, but was shaking. I told the vet not to be alarmed at the red on her nails, her big sisters like to paint them so she looks pretty.

No puppies for Suri. We have to go pick her up later this afternoon. Poor Duke doesn't know what to do with himself. When he wants to go outside, he just stands there like, "What? All by myself? Where IS she?"

I have chicken marinating for dinner, but I still have lots to do. I got sidetracked looking at vacations in the Dominican Republic.....see, this year we celebrated our 30th anniversary, and didn't even go out to dinner. We decided to take a weekend away in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, when the weather warms up. I was looking at hotels, and they are quite I took a little detour and wondered what if we went for five days to really warm weather...there are places, including airfare and all food and drinks, for under $900. Right on the beach. oh my. But it isn't in the cards right now. See, it's warm today, 46 degrees (7.7c), but tomorrow night, we are expecting snow again. Perhaps up to ten inches of snow. Heavy wet spring snow.

Oh well. It will come, spring. And these days of cold and clouds and cabin fever will fade from our memories...

I am going to go make myself work out. See, I love how I feel after I exercise. I love the feeling of accomplishment, and love when I feel the soreness in my thighs, and that stretching in my arms...but nonetheless, actually working out is always always a fight. My mind wants to but... not really. My body, nah, doesn't want to. So I have to just turn off the excuses, or rather, ignore them, and just DO IT.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

last day for kitty hats?

Camille Anaya...
Charlotte Claire...

I didn't get pictures of them in their kitty hats this morning, but I did take these. It was 12 (-11 c) degrees when I got up, 14 (-10c) when they went out to get on the bus. Nice spring weather! I told them that this may be the last morning for those furry kitty hats. But I remember saying that to them last week. And the week before.

Well, I have figured out an obvious: why the youngest child is so spoiled. It may just be because the Mommy and the Daddy realize how fast life goes by, how quickly the others grew up, so they don't want to waste too much time with discipline and unpleasantness, but rather cramming in all the fun things before this child grows up, too.

As my two little princesses ate their breakfast and did their homework this morning, I just enjoyed their little-ness. They still need lots of napkins, and have no concept of time in the morning, they need micro-managing. Jonathan still needs lots of this sort of attention too, but the others....they are growing up! Sonja K. is almost 12, she has an alarm clock now, she remembers to take showers without reminders, she does her homework...okay, I do make her lunch sometimes, but she is getting so independent. That is the goal with kids, to teach them responsibility and to take care of themselves.

I know there is a time and season for everything, and the children have to grow up. For years and years and years, we had our adventures and our parties and our crazy trips out and about. The older kids will still go, still help me, but they aren't jumping up and down about a trip to the park anymore. Teenagers are interesting, one day they will be totally gung-ho about something, the next day they want nothing to do with it. But little kids, oh, pick them up early from school and take them to the library and they are in heaven!

Older kids are blessings too, but in different ways. When the parenting is replaced by being equals, and there is fellowship and friendship and companionship...when we go out and about or just sit and have coffee and talk, it is amazing. Emily and I had an excellent shopping trip yesterday, sorry Em, hope that's not social suicide for you!

Anyway, I will be cramming all sorts of fun things into the next few years, before the little girls start snubbing their Barbies and tea parties, and get sullen....

Jonathan is still sick, but you know how kids seem to get more mellow and a bit sweeter when they are sick? Yup. Jon is a sweetheart anyway, but these last few days, he really is. His temperature is 100 this morning and he has a cough. I am still making him do a little bit of work though. Just a little. I was hoping he would be better so we could go to the pool this morning. Perhaps he will want to go on a little walk this afternoon if it warms up enough. He and I are speculating about the missing jet...we don't think it just crashed in the ocean. Why would the pilot go through so much trouble to change the course of the flight, fly under the radar, just to crash in the ocean? It makes no sense. Jon wondered if the debris in the ocean was just suitcases they threw out the plane windows to make it look like there was a plane crash....I told him a little about how that would be impossible, so he is reading about that now...oh he is so funny and fun.

Yesterday I went shopping with Emily, which was fun, and also very productive, as I got some essentials like almonds and peanutbutter. I also made a nice dinner, which was potatoes and onions sliced up and baked in olive oil, hot sausages, and salad. I listed something on ebay, wrote AND mailed two letters, and fit my work out in. It does feel good to get things done. But today, there is more to do. Life is going by too fast!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

and out the door she goes....

So much for the stuff I had to get done today. I am home now, sitting here with me feetsies up, lulled by the hum of Jonathan's space heater, as he sits on the couch under a sleeping bag, watching stuff on his tablet. He has a fever of 101, this sickness that Charlotte Claire, then Camille, then Sonja and I's Jon's turn. I could just fall asleep to the hum of this heater. Plus, it's cold outside, and sort of cozy in here. The kids are all home from school now, the princesses are playing in their room. Others are doing homework, and it's quiet. Mirielle, Kathryn, and Suze went on a little trip up to Canada for a few days.

Anyway, today I went out and about with Emily. She had to buy the food for a church meal for this Sunday, so I helped her plan and shop. We went to three stores to get the best prices on everything, and were fairly quick, I decided not to dawdle too much today, as I wanted to get home...I think I am done buying Easter candy now. I didn't get much this year, just some Cadbury chocolate eggs, Reese's miniature eggs, Marshmallow Peeps, and chocolate bunnies. Oh, and a few bags of Snicker and Milky Way miniatures. And, some Valentine's Day M&Ms that are in my closet.

Spending time with Emily is not too shabby. We get along like peas and carrots. I am so thankful that I don't work! Being able to take off at a moment's notice is amazing, I do not take it for granted. I mean, most mornings, I get the little girls off to school, and Mirielle gets home from her night shift at the hospital. She makes some dinner, and sits down and talks to me as I have my morning coffee. It's so nice! This fine day, I was nice and didn't give Jonathan any work to do while I was gone, because he is sick. (He stayed home with Joseph.)

We stopped for coffee today, then Emily bought this amazing dark chocolate bar with cinnamon pecans in it....we ate that on the way home. Sinfully good, but hopefully not too terribly fattening. It was small...we shared it...oh, never mind. It was good.

We have this dollar store around sells name brand stuff for...a dollar. Today I bought 10 count boxes of fruit snacks, 6 packs of yogurt/protein granola bars, and Ghiardelli hot cocoa mix.

Today I also bought the peanut butter we were out of, a few bags of almonds which are a staple for me, apples, carrots, and more coffee.

I brought Jon home some pudding, since he is sick.

I also bought him a little car that makes noise and lights up, and he respectfully told me that it is nice, and was nice of me, but...he thinks he is too old for it, and will give it to one of his cousins. Wah. But he was so sweet about it.

Ah well, time to move it again. I have to figure out dinner, and work out, and list a million things on ebay....oh, but I just want to take a little nappy here in my comfy chair....

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

another day, another bale of hay....

Mr. Ed The Talking Horse? Never mind. Sometimes I think this winter is never going to end, that certain trials are never going to end, then I realize that all of this is going to end, that's my sunny thought for today:)

But seriously, we only have today. So make good use of it!

And making good use of it doesn't mean crawling into bed with a good book and a hot cup of coffee, although that does sound mighty fine, as cold as it still is today.

Sometimes making good use of your time means doing things for others.

Sometimes that means letting the housework go.

Yesterday....a nice relaxing morning, chatting with a few of my sons (Joseph and Aaron, and Jon of course), and Kathryn...some schoolwork with Jon, a nice work-out, a shower, and where does the day go - it was two-thirty! Kathryn and Jon and I went to the small city to get Kathryn's learner's permit to drive. Sixteen years old, and learning to drive. My tenth child to drive, so don't ask where the gray hairs came from. I figure we may as well get her permit so she has lots of time to practice before she actually gets her license.

We had to stop at the grocery store for bananas and peppers and oranges and burger and yogurt and eggs and milk and some chocolate bunnies for the baskets.

Then to Walmart to pick up the HDMI cord that Jon ordered online.

A stop at the bank, then at the gas station...

Then, home. Ahh. But, not for long! I put away the groceries, washed some dishes, and off we were again, back to the small city...this time with Evelyn and Sonja. I had promised Evelyn several months ago that I would take her to see the movie, "Divergent" when it came out. Over the weekend, there were all sorts of reasons why it didn't work, so Monday night, we were on!

Kathryn agreed to give the younger ones dinner for me, the older ones could help themselves, out the door we went. First stop: Dunkin Donuts for coffee...and M&M stir ins. What is this item, you might ask? Well, it is amazing. Soft ice cream, with mini M&M's. Or crunched Oreos. For a dollar. It was dinner. And lunch.

The movie was fascinating. We don't go to the theater enough for it not to be a treat. I was enthralled. At one point, during a wicked fight scene, I said aloud, "Oh my!". Evelyn replied, "MOM!"

The fun part was on the way home, dissecting the movie. I haven't finished the book yet, but read more than half of it, I thought they did a good job. The movie is never as good as the book, but this one was decent. Some of it didn't ring very true to me, I mean, in real life, do people pause for sentiments when they are running for their lives?

Anyway, spending time with the teenagers if always interesting.

Mirielle is taking Kathryn to Ottowa tomorrow, for a few days to visit their cousin Janet, who got married last year and has a new baby. Suzanne might go too, but don't tell her teachers.

Ah well, today I hope to stay home and catch up with the work. I have things to list on ebay, and phone calls to make, and laundry to do, and and and. Never a dull moment. Honestly, sometimes I get so sick and tired of doing the same work day in day out, but then I realize a few things...

1. Life is short.

2. I have running water, a washer and a dryer, ect ect ect. No toting buckets from the creek.

3. It is NOT what I do that brings me happiness or discontent, it is how I take it. Liking what I do, not doing what I like.

4. I am not working twelve hour days in a mine, for goodness' sake. I am washing dishes in HOT water, picking up an abundance of toys, folding huge loads of clean fragrant towels...

anyway....nothing worth complaining about. I think about how much God has blessed me, and how horrid it is to complain about things. One of the most brilliant contemporary expressions, my absolute favorite, is, "First World Probs". It really sums it up.

Monday, March 24, 2014

and we are going to georgia!

But first, a cute picture of the princesses...their cousin Dani is in the middle. She spent the night here, and they played and played and played. They had heels on and all different dress-up clothes, they had strollers and carriages and dolls and bears and doggies out. Camille said they wanted to play Restaurant, so she would tell me when they were ready to order. Um. Okay. Jonathan helped me make the waffles for them, and serve the tea.

Mali came over to visit, and helped Camille do her homework. There was a lot of laughing and fooling around, but they finally finished it.

We are going to Georgia in June! We are hoping and assuming that Samuel completes his basic training, we think he will, but reserved hotel rooms with a cancellation policy just in case. Two rooms for five nights in the hot Georgia sun! The place we chose has a salt water pool, and a hot tub in the work out room. And, the free breakfast has lots of goodies, like omelettes and fresh fruit, and make-your-own-waffles. He will have his Turning Blue ceremony on Thursday morning, and be able to spend the entire day with us, then graduate the next day and also have the day with us. The hotel will be an excellent place to crash with him. And the rest of the weekend, we aren't sure of yet...depends where they send him next. If he goes to Germany or something, he will have a few weeks of leave....and, Aaron is here, so I will write later.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

kicked out of the club....

Abigail, Kathryn Grace, Evelyn Joy, Jonathan, and the princesses, Miss Char and Miss the museum of play.

Me with Jon, Cam, Char...

Okay. Here's the club I have been kicked out of...the Mommy Club. More specifically, the Mommy with a Baby In A Stroller Club. Okay, we all have to leave that club sometime. But seriously, I was in that club for over 25 years. Emily was born 29 years ago, and Cam was in a stroller until like three years ago:)....over two and a half decades. Diaper bags and bottles and strollers.

I don't mind that my life has moved on. I enjoy my kids immensely. But. Being at the kids' museum the other day, seing the moms with their Baby Bjorns and Peg-Peregos and McClarens, chatting with each other about how old their babies were...I felt old. I know there is a time and season for everything, but it made me miss those baby days. When my kids were playing and pretending and exploring, I followed them around, sitting down here and there, and feeling an emptiness of arms that I haven't been aware of for quite some time. It's just the classic old adage that I felt, that I wanted to say to those mommies..."Enjoy that baby, it goes by fast!"

Anyway, our museum day was so much fun! It is an amazing place. We took our time, and really let the kids play. Abigail and I had a nice time together, too. I am so very blessed to have all these daughters, they grow up into my best friends.

Saturday...I took Jonathan, Charlotte Claire, and Camille to the pool.

Then...the girls wanted to do something to celebrate Kathryn's 16th birthday...
Kathryn is such a good girl. She has what she calls, "swag". She dresses how she wants, rather like a tomboy, although that term definitely dates me. But don't just look at her knit hat and her high topped sneakers and write her off, no sir, this girl is a sweetie. She has the softest heart! She can be moody, she can have quite an attitude, but she thinks of others, and she is very giving.

Evelyn, Abigail, Sonja, Suzanne, Kathryn, then their cousins, Eileen and Olivia. Margaret was with us at the dreaded mall too, but didn't want to be in the pictures.

Yes, the mall. The fun part was that my sister-in-law (Eileen and Olivia's mom) went with us. We found her some new shoes, and we tried on dresses. The whole group of us went to Chili's to celebrate Kap's birthday. I ate too many chips with salsa, and oh the fries....I should have said Hold The Fries. But it was very enjoyable, despite the ups and downs of the moods of some of my girls.

Somehow they talked me into going to Target on the way home, I needed to get a new home phone anyway. We have our cell phones, but still have a home phone, and it didn't work very well anymore. Some of the buttons just didn't work, so if anyone had to call "911" they would be out of luck. The "1" didn't work. I bought Kathryn some nice earphones and a book and a dry erase board. Margaret found a few things to add to our cart, so I did get to wince at the register when I swiped my card.

Winter is edging into Spring's time. Our whole yard is still covered in snow, we got more last night. This week: cold cold cold and more snow. The weather man said we might get some warm weather next weekend. Brrr.

Today is Kathryn's birthday, Mirielle made homemade brownies during the night last night. I am staying away from them. I have been trying so hard to behave, then I had that restaurant food last night, blah.

It is too cold out to go for a walk, 22 degrees (5.5 c). Perhaps to the pool again, or just a workout with push-ups and weights. But I WILL exercise today. For what it's worth....

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

almost forgot to blog today!

Jon and I went for a nice walk today. It was not freezing out, at 39 degrees, but it was windy and chilly. But very pleasant, with the sun shining on the snow.

I decided that even if I don't feel like it, I am going to walk/exercise each and every day. And, I am not going to snack in the evening, even if it is healthy stuff. No more. And, I am going to cut back on afternoon coffee, wah, because I have been having heartburn. When I went to the dr. on Monday, the N.P. I saw suggested my sore throat was caused by acid reflux. blah. I would rather change up my lifestyle, and see if I can fix things that way, than pop antacids again.

There is nothing worse than waking up in the middle of the night and having that burning feeling. not fun.

Anyway. I need to get into better shape so I feel better. I have been arguing with myself about these things, you see, and I decided that I need to just do what I need to do, rather than wait until I feel like it. Because lazy me ain't never gonna feel like it.

And, here are the little girls this morning having breakfast. Yucky Cap'n Crunch, they like it, but I would rather feed them Life or Chex. Cereal last lots longer now that Sam is gone, but he would hate me saying that.

Today I picked the girls up from school a bit early, along with their cousins Sean and Danielle, who are also in first and second grade. They had big pretzels and cocoa, then started in on playing...Jonathan has been playing with Sean, and the girls are playing massive house, which means they have expanded playing all over our house. They are going on pretend vacation....which apparently requires lots of strollers and carriages. Man, they have tons of kids. Danielle has the white fur coat on, she is looking classy. They have high heels from their sisters, and purses stuffed with all sorts of things.

So. Dinner is almost ready, hot sausages, pasta, meat sauce, green beans. I like having piles and piles of green beans with sauce. The trick will be not to eat anything after dinner....that's when I feel snacky.

Ah well, Joseph put the pasta on for me, time to move it and drain it.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

letters from sammy!

Or should I say Pvt. Samuel J. W. ? He is a treasure, my son Sam. He wrote, "I know this is where I should be because I'm closer to God and the Holy spirit than I've ever been. Why? Not because I pray when I'm afraid, but because now I see what being away from God's people is like, the strength that the friends give, I didn't realize it. Now I'm far from God's people, but I'm closer to God than ever, He cares for me. I'm openly Christian and in the spirit, I don't hide or avoid it. I'm open and firm about the church and my calling, I've never done that outside of home, not really. So yes, I think the Army is God's way of showing me the world, and testing my faith, moving me from on the fence to the right side..."

I don't think he'll mind me sharing that since he himself said he is open about it. I think he will be a strength and an inspiration to the other guys there. He said in one letter that he is, "socially cool", and the guys tell him he should be a comedian. I was hoping that would happen, that he would simply be himself.

He certainly will have his share of struggles in Basic, but I am much more at rest about him now that I have read these four letters he sent, all shoved into one envelope. He has the right attitude, and we know that anyone who seeks Him will not be put to shame.

Today, the same old same old around here. Sonja and I went out and about yesterday, for our throat cultures. We will find out today if we have strep. If not, I wonder if we have had the flu.

We stopped for a coffee for me, and a large strawberry coolatta for her, with whipped cream. Oh yummers I wish I could drink something like that. We also went to Aldi for cantaloupes and apples and lemons and green beans and coffee creamer, and of course, chocolate. We went to the crappy depressing mall and bought one shirt for Sonja for six bucks,and it was our lucky day, a free little totebag with each purchase. Sears had nothing, expensive old-people clothes, boring and dusty. J.C. Penney was even worse, it was too quiet in there, the clearance racks cluttered with ugly clothes, not nearly cheap enough even if they were remotely attractive. Sonja was looking for a few of those camisole tops to wear under stuff, they $9 each. Nah, too much.

But it was nice to be with Sonja, and since it has been so cold outside, I didn't mind walking from one end of the mall to the other, even if I did smell yummy things that made me hungry.

Ah well, flu or strep or whatever, today I am going to work out. I need to Just Do It, to borrow a famous phrase. I was 14 pounds heavier yesterday at the dr. than when I went in last March, ugh. That scale needs to move down, not up. My blood pressure was 110/62 though, can't complain about that! My temperature was only 96.2, I do run low. I am going to try much harder to get my movement in each day, and continue to eat healthy but nothing in the evenings again, and see if I can get the scale going in the right direction, then if it doesn't, I will look into the thyroid thing more.

Anyway. This is the day which the Lord has made. There are things that I don't understand in this life, here are a few of them:

Our friend who had cancer of the esophagus...he is seven years out, which is a total miracle. Well, he has more cancer. In his lung. He has total faith that God sends everything for his very best, and he has beaten the odds already. He has a wife and eight children. He said one time that he would never wish for cancer, but he is thankful that he has gone through what he has, because he has learned so much about himself through this journey. He seeks and finds those treasures amidst his trials, he is an excellent friend and an excellent example of not feeling sorry for oneself, but totally believing God no matter what.... God does know best but this whole thing hurts my heart.

Then, I heard that yesterday a young mom who was 30 weeks pregnant with her second child was killed in a car accident out near where Benjamin lives. I didn't know her personally, but she was in our church, and has family and friends who know my family and friends, and it is just so so so sad. 24 years old. I am praying today for her family.

So use your time wisely! Forgive, forget, be good, bless!

Monday, March 17, 2014

big plans....

Spring is coming. When Mirielle got home from work this fine morning, she said the thermometer on her car said that it was one degree (-17). So it is bitterly cold out there, the kind of cold that makes the snow crackle under your feet. You can see your breath out there. The sunshine is promising but deceptive.

But spring will come. It snowed here on Mother's Day once, but spring will come.

I want to spruce up the house a little bit, paint the inside of the doors and wash up the trim, clean off the scrubby parts where the kitty jumps on the door to go out, things like that. I googled colors of doors, and wasted a good half an hour getting more confused about paint colors. Oh, how I decorate my house from my chair!

But today I won't be sitting here much longer, I have things to do. Sonja K. has not been feeling well so I am going to call the dr. to get her in. I have other phone calls to make, laundry to do, the usual. Yesterday I put my foot down a bit about the older kids helping more around the house, and even got Paul on board to help me do that. A few of them are really good about doing their jobs, but a few others...not so much. It's just that if they all pitch in a bit more, I would possibly be able to think about doing more other things, like....I don't know, like not doing as much housework!

Anyway. The little girls have been telling me how much fun they had with Emily and Abigail this past weekend. Abigail picked them up on Friday and brought them to her physical therapy place, then to McDonalds for smoothies, then to the grocery store where she let them pick out a kind of cereal because they were spending the night at her place, then they picked out toaster pastries...

On Saturday morning, Emily took them to the pool, then out to the diner for breakfast, then to the library, where they each got a book and the, "Eloise At The Plaza" movie, which we did watch last night:)

Em said they cleaned upstairs at her house, re-arranged her desk, and she found a letter written by Camille that said on the top, "Off the job", and the entire page was filled with fake cursive scribbles. They were playing Work, I guess.

Too much fun, they had.

So this morning went well, got the kids out the door to school with very little drama. I did have to clean up a surprise pile of doggy stuff in the hallway, these dogs get spoiled and get to go out several times a night when Mirielle is home from work and stays up all night, but last night she worked, and...someone couldn't hold it. I am just glad I didn't step in it. :)

When I took my five girls shopping on Saturday, we were talking about how a mom could love so many kids. 16 kids, and I do love them all. It is amazing, but I told them that God gives the children, and also enlarges the heart. What they don't realize is how much it weighs on me sometimes, wondering if I give them each enough attention, or that sudden thought that I perhaps forgot one of their birthdays or a really important appointment or something. I am not supermom. There are so many many things that could have been done better, so many things I have forgotten, or could have helped more with. A few of my older kids have taken up so much slack in their days, I couldn't have gotten through those busy years without them. But one thing I do, is love them. And I work, day after day, on keeping my heart soft towards them, no matter if they are in the Talk-Back-To-Mom phase or if they are incessant door slammers. I work on listening to them. Sometimes my brain still feels like a big muddle, can't fit one more piece of information...and one of them asks me to remember this or that...oh dear. By the grace of God, we have gotten through these years! There is no way at all I could have even remotely managed without His guidance.

For me it seems that the single most important factor in our family is that I live in self-acknowledgement about my own sin, that I listen to what God is saying to me during the days...and get grace from Him.

The other day I mentioned that I need to see the treasures that lie in the housework, in the endless dishes and messes and making dinners, day after day. It's so true! There is so much to hear from God in the midst of it all! We can wish our lives away, dreaming of vacations and greener pastures, but here is where I am, and here is where I can either grow and thrive, or become miserable.

And now I must check on Miss Sonja K, and decide whether she is just skipping school because she loves staying home with her old mama, or if she is really sick...probably both...:)

Sunday, March 16, 2014

shh, quiet morning and they're all still sleeping....

Suzanne Eleanor 13, Evelyn Joy 14, Sonja Kathleen 11, Kathryn Grace 15, and Margaret Cheryl 17.

This picture tells a story. It tells of some girls who woke up on Saturday morning and were restless. It was milder outside, but getting windy, snowing a bit more, slushy, not great for doing much out there. They wanted to do, "something". Please, Mom. The two little girls were at Emily and Abigail's place, and Paul was going to take Jonathan sledding. So...why not?

See, I told the girls I like to take pictures when we are out and about. I wish I had taken more through the years, especially of these five...but there seems to always be one who doesn't want to co-operate. This time, you can guess who it was. And Suze, oh my goodness...she had picked out this flannel button-down shirt from the boys' department. I told her she could get it. The tag had come off, but she set it with the shirt in the cart. Somehow it got lost when we put the things on the counter, so, unbeknownst (wow, that's a real word?!) to me, she set it aside, thinking she couldn't get it without a tag. So she was sad. I had no idea. On the way out of the store, she was upset, I told her she didn't have to put it back, the cashier would know how to ring it up. I said we could go back, she said no.

So to the grocery store next to Target we the time we got to the second aisle, she was in tears. She is really good at that, by the way. She knows it works. I told her not to try this garbage with me, but she said it was real, she couldn't help it. Oh for goodness sakes, I gave them my Target card and let them go back over there and buy the shirt, but ONLY the shirt, please. So help me if they came back with slushies and popcorn...but they didn't.:)

Anyway. We had our share of fun. They convinced me to get a pizza in the grocery store to eat on the way home. I didn't want to, they weren't on sale, but they suggested it was cheaper than McDonalds...I don't know who said we were going to McDonalds anyway, but they did have a point.

My girls do know how to shop the clearance rack. The question I always ask them as they approach me with an armload of stuff, is, "Do you really need this?" Occasionally the answer will be, "Fine! I'll just put it back!". Oh, they can be tricky, these teenage girls. They always are very thankful when I take them out and about though....and we talk about lots of good stuff on the long car ride to the stores.

Last evening, they all went over to Emily and Abigail's house, so Paul and I were here with the littler ones. Paul was watching basket ball, and the kids were not really doing anything, so I suggested getting out the Lego bin. They dumped it out on the living room floor, and were busy for like two hours. Paul planted himself right there too, and collected all the people pieces and put them together for the kids. I sat there for a bit too, but the floor is pretty hard.

They were reluctant to leave their creations and go to bed, so we said they could leave everything now our living room looks like Lego city.

Paul and I are the only ones up. The dogs have been out and have eaten, and are snoring on the couch near Paul, who is on his own computer. It is quiet, and we have our coffee. It is nice, but I am not ready for it yet, I will be glad when they wake up and run out and say, "Mommy! Good morning! Yay, no one wrecked our Lego stuff!".....My mother told me years ago when I complained about the constant noise that someday I would miss it. And I see already that it is getting much quieter here sometimes. Not when those five girls are at it though, mind you.

So Samuel graduates from Basic Training in June, and I told the little girls last night that they get to go with us to Georgia. They are thrilled! I asked Camille if she wanted to go pack now, and she was all ready to. Just kidding, I said, not quite yet. Three more months. Infantry training is long. Poor Sam.

And...the girls are up!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

ahh, saturday....

The princesses are at Emily and Abigail's house. They got to spend the night last night. I love seeing them pack their dollies and jammies for an overnighter at their sisters' place. Abigail encouraged them to bring enough toys so they wouldn't get bored, but Camille said, "We don't need too many, because we play with people who aren't really there, like our husbands and our kids." Ha, they play house in the upstairs, it is a nice old house with lots of rooms to play in. They brought a few dolls, and I am pretty sure they aren't bored. Especially because I sent their bathing suits, Emily was planning a trip to the pool this morning.

I love that the big girls are so good to their little sisters. Remember now, Emily and I are closer in years (19 years apart) than Emily and Camille (23 years apart:)). Anyway, I love it.

Sonja K. has a friend here, and has taken over the room she shares with Jonny, which has caused one rather large fight this morning, but Jon has apologized, and Sonja and her friend now have the room while Jon has moved his game system out here to the living room. Evelyn made waffles, and the older kids are still sleeping.

Yesterday I got a letter from Sam, which was just a form he had to fill out to send us his address. I wrote him a letter and got it in the mailbox this morning. His graduation date is in the middle of June, I wish I knew for certain how long he will have between graduation and having to report to wherever he will be stationed, and if he will be able to leave overnight or have to report back to base by midnight or risk turning into an AWOL pumpkin. Fort Benning is only three hours from the gulf of Mexico, and I would love to spend a few days there on the beach with Sam and the family. Oh well, even if we don't do that, we will get a nice hotel near the base for four or five days, and hang out by the pool with him. I just miss that kid so much.

I am going to try a Paleo banana bread recipe this morning. I am allergic to bananas, but somehow when they're baked, I can tolerate them in small amounts. We have too many right now, every once in a while that happens, and I hate to waste them.

Friday, March 14, 2014

not feeling like friday....

I am an optimistic girl. I have never had much patience for other people's bad moods. Life is too short, snap out of it, look at the bright side! I also feel responsible for the happiness of so many other people around here, I can't allow myself to get depressed. No sir, I have to remain stable and sane! Plus, I KNOW that God sends all things for my very best, what's there to be sad about?

Yet...yet...sometimes, I don't know, I just feel like hiding out somewhere and crying. I haven't felt so great in a few weeks, the pediatrician's office called yesterday to inform me that Camille's throat culture showed group a strep. Do I have it too? Do I feel like going to the dr. office today to find out? What if I have to step on the dreaded scale? Oh dang, I am gonna cry. I have tried so hard, avoided the yummy stuff, but still can't get off of this long arduous plateau, and can I even call it a plateau when it's clearly 20 pounds more than I was last year? Oh poor me. Yet, I know it's my fault. I could have exercised more, eaten less, skipped those popcorn all adds up, and each and every action has an equal and unpositive weight gain. I can't eat like I used to, and I don't. But I have also strayed from my strictness that helped me lose all the weight a few years ago.

Crying about it is useless, but don't mind if I do anyway.

This HAS been a long cold winter, and it seems like all I do is clean up the house and do the dishes and laundry and then do it all over again. But hey, there are treasures to be found in all these things, I just need to lift my vision....

Last evening, we had a really good time. We had corned beef and roasted red potatoes, boiled cabbage and carrots (I added some of the corned beef and lots of the juices to the boiling pot, it flavored the cabbage nicely). Mirielle made an awesome homemade chocolate cake, then let the little girls help frost it.
Camille and Charlotte Claire and Jonathan
Mirielle made the frosting and let them have at it....Miss Char.
Miss Camille had a turn...
They were pretty proud of themselves.

I asked for a small slice, as the voice in my head screeched for me to not do it. I broke off a little piece, then gave the rest to Abigail. It was just too good,then it got passed out, and was gone, phew. I think I have to stop even having those tastes if I want to get back to losing weight again. Seriously.

Anyway, Emily and Abigail came over last night for dinner and to hang around for a bit. Joseph had his friends Andrew and Adrian over for a bit, so we had a full house, and a full dinner table. I stayed up too late and got up too early. Camille is still in bed, the rest of the kids went to school except for homeschooling Kathryn, Jonathan went home with Abigail last night with some math problems, and a few writing assignments, and instructions to read about the Ukraine.

I think I will be smart and call the dr.....

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The blizzard's over....

The sun is shining, but it is bitterly cold out there. 7 (-13) The school kids had a two hour delay this morning, which we knew about ahead of time, which means yes, I slept in a little. By "a little", I truly mean a little. Once I wake up in the morning, I can't go back to sleep.

Camille is still home from school. She was just wiped out again last evening, so we decided that she could use another day at home, so she doesn't go straight back and catch another thing. The doctor's office just called and informed me that she tested positive for group a strep, but the antibiotic she is on will probably cover it. If she continues to have a fever, I have to get a second type of medicine for her. I think keeping her home today was a good thing.

And, shh, I love it! She has tons of work to do, Charlotte Claire brought it home from her teacher for her. She is lying on the floor right now, on the rug, in front of the little heater, doing work. She is as happy as a bug on a rug, ha. I am giving her a spelling test right now. I add random words sometimes just to make it fun.

As Char was waiting for the bus this morning, she said, "I won't be a part of a giggly group when I get older." She was up when the five girls got on the bus....Margaret 17, (Kathryn 15 homeschools) Evelyn 14, Suzanne 13, and Sonja 11. My five girls in a row are pretty giggly, pretty "w"itchy, and pretty intense. But they are certainly fun. I am glad Char has Camille and Jonny to play with, but those teenagers of mine are luckier than they know, to have each other.

This morning my girls were complaining about a particular teacher and his rules. I told them that sometimes when people get old and ugly and miserable, they get jealous of the younger ones, so they do all they can to assert power over them and justify their own existence, which is to enforce rules. Ok, I do not exactly totally believe that, but they thought it was funny.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

cold and snowy and blizzardy!

Our backyard.

The kids were riding these yesterday.

This is a little different than yesterday's selfie...

And, here are the cookies. I only doubled the recipe instead of tripling it this time. I baked 48, and refrigerated the rest of the dough. No one will eat the dough from the fridge, no sir. It will just vanish into thin air. Anyway. I also made some pumpkin cookies with coconut flour, to help me stay out of the chocolate chippers.

Four of my girls (Kathryn 15, Evelyn 14, Suzanne 12, and Sonja 11), went outside to play for a bit. They were silly and loud and got bundled up and went out and got tired out from the wind and the cold. My camera doesn't pick up the blowing snow very well, but it is coming down like crazy right now. Huge flakes, blowing all around in circles, making the driveway deeper and deeper. I went out with Jonathan and Char a few hours ago and attempted to shovel, but the snow is heavy and deep, I only made a few paths. Paul is going out with the snowblower later.

We had an early dinner of taco salad...

Now I am having a hot cup of coffee with some pumpkin cookies.

All in all, it has been an excellent day....


Today, we are expecting a blizzard! A foot or so of snow, perhaps almost two feet....cold and wind. But yesterday...oh yesterday was bliss! Sunshine and warmth! I dropped my sister off at her appointment...then went to Save-A-Lot and spent $8 on some produce and a pound of butter. Then to the thrift store, two bucks on three books. The through the drive-through at DunkinDonuts for a coffee...and off to the lake I went. It was so warm, I left my coat in the van. I ate an orange while I walked along the channel. I walked briskly along, totally and completely enjoying that sunshine. I walked/jogged a bit, then sat in the van with the sun shining on my face and arms while I read a book and ate almonds and an apple, and sipped my coffee. After I basked for about an hour, I headed to the grocery store for just a few things, and to use the bathroom. I ran into my sister-in-law and her grandson, they sat in my van for a bit while we chatted and I held the grandson:), who is a cutie-pants.

Then Cheryl was done, so I picked her up and we headed back to the same grocery store for her prescriptions. She was a little loopy, more so than usual even, so I told her not to say anything to anyone. It was quite funny. She was pretty worn out from the procedure she had done (kidney stones blasted), so I got her home before we did anything stupid. Don't ask.

Anyway. I got home, and Camille was on the couch again. 101 fever. Enough of this, I called the dr. Eight days in a row of spiking a fever is too many. I was told to bring her right in. So right in we went, just Camille and I. She was just so sweet. She has acute bronchitis/walking pneumonia. Our wonderful medical insurance only lets us get prescriptions at Walmart and one other small pharmacy that was closed, so off we went to Wallyworld. I let her ride in the back of the cart with her little thing of orange juice and baggie of cheese crackers, like a two-year old. It took almost an hour for the medicine, so we wandered around looking. I let her pick out some rainbow hair extensions for 97 cents, and some plastic sparkly rings. I found a $3 pair of slippers, and a few $1 shirts for the girls.

Home...oh it's nice to be home. Paul made some salads, I cooked up some dreadful Ramen noodles for the kids, gave them some chicken and salad with it, and we had dinner.

And today, no school!
This is our pear tree. Pretty soon it will be covered with blossoms, and it will be beautiful. But for now, it has to endure the wind and the snow. But, spring WILL come.

I don't mind this storm, mostly because I don't have to drive in it. I won't like it if the power goes out, but otherwise, it's cozy and exciting. I have taken lots of pictures of "before", and hope to take some cool "after" ones.

I think I will make some cookies for the kids to warm it up in here and celebrate that this is a wonderful day. I can make some pumpkin healthy ones for me:)

Or, I can clean out one of the hall closets. Nah, cookies sound better....

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

and off I go....

This fine morning I am taking my sister to an appointment. I left Jonathan with some work to do, Joseph is here, as well as Kathryn and...Sonja, who isn't feeling well this morning. Camille is still sick, I may have to call the dr. for her. Charlotte Claire was sick with the same thing for several days, but Cam had a fever again last number seven.

She was better yesterday, Miss Camille. She hadn't been out of the house for days, and begged me to take her somewhere. I cleaned her room nicely yesterday, which is always fun. She said this time it will stay clean, which I believe each and every time. The day I stop believing that is the day I get in this chair and stay here:). Anyway, I took her out and about in the afternoon, then she zonked on the couch after dinner, and lo and behold, had a fever again. Bad Mom Award.

We went to Walmart and bought a small rug for Jon and Sonja's room, a few cute little bins for the princesses' room...then they begged to go to the dollar store. I just wanted to go home, but I took them. It's a good thing I did! I had fun! There were huge bins of Target bathing suits dollar each. Last year's suits, new with tags. I bought trunks for Paul and Joseph and Jonathan. Bikinis for the little girls and for my niece and tons of tops and bottoms for all of my daughters. I made some new friends with a few ladies as we dug through the bins and shouted EUREKA when we found a matching top or bottom of the right fabric and right size. I told the ladies that I have eleven daughters, and they were so helpful in finding some nice suits. It was great fun, and Jon and Camille made friends with a little girl named Raven, her Grandma was looking through the bins with me. (Poor Raven will probably get sick in the next few days:()

My girls here were pretty thrilled with the abundance of new bathing suits, probably because this has been a long winter, and bathing suits are proof that summer does exist.

I got a few that fit me, too. And a nice one for my sister.

My coffee cup is empty and my raisin toast is gone...oh, that Food For Life bread is yummy...before I discovered it, I hadn't had toast in pretty much three years, except for the occasional breakfast out, where I would eat some of it. I am a carb-o girl at heart, if a high carbohydrate diet were healthy, I would be the healthiest girl out there. Obviously it isn't. For years, I would subsist on bagels and crackers and toast and cereal all those busy tired days. And cookies, to boost me up on those afternoons of failed naps. And after the good naps. Anyway, now I pretty much avoid the grains and breads and chips. Dinners are mostly chicken and veggies, no more pasta for me. Breakfasts are sometimes like eggs and broccoli, sometimes some oats and a cut up apple or blueberries, or the F F L toast, which is made from sprouted grains. I just have to get back to No Eating In The Evening, even if it is healthy stuff. I find myself wandering around looking for something to snack on. rrrrr. Yesterday I bought five bags of double dipped chocolate covered peanuts for a dollar a bag at Walmart. Big mistake. I hadn't had any lunch, so I thought I would eat a few in the car on the way home. Ha. A few and a few more. rrr. No more for me.

I have formed good habits as far as eating healthy, but still need to modify some behaviors:)

And, since I have lost weight, my metabolism has changed. I slip up just a little, and voila a few pounds find their way back to me. Not fair.

Anyway. Life is good.

Monday, March 10, 2014

and a new week....

I am almost hesitant to write anything today since I possibly offended half the world with my last post about Monster Jam:) It just goes to show that I have to think about the fact that people actually read this when I am writing it.

Paul and I have been married for 30 years, yesterday was our anniversary. Did we celebrate? Go out to dinner? Um, no. He fixed the oven though. He thinks he fixed it, I hope so, black stuff, sooty-like, has been the by-product of this oven for too long now. I also got to go to church to watch a few transmissions of a Sister's Conference, and had lunch with my friends. Time change combined with staying up way too late on Saturday night, and I was ready for a nap yesterday...but I didn't want to waste a perfectly good afternoon sleeping, so...I went shopping with Evelyn and Mirielle. Paul just didn't feel like going out to dinner, so I didn't push it. We are planning a weekend away sometime when the weather warms up, to Gettysburg again. I realized that going out and about made me feel better about the fact that hey, it was our thirtieth, and yes, I had some expectations. We agreed to postpone our week away, but still, I guess I felt a little ripped-off. So, off shopping we went. Mirielle is great fun, and she has a Kohl's charge card, and had a 30% off coupon. I bought my little granddaughter a beautiful dress for next Christmas for $3.50. I got the princesses each a skirt for $2.40. We went to the grocery store next, and got some corned beef and cabbage and carrots and onions and milk and coffee and bananas and oranges and grapes and cookies and eggs and cheese. Then a quick stop to the craft store because they had a good sale and a %20 off coupon. I bought some canvases for homeschooling Kathryn to paint on, a sketch book to put away for Joseph's birthday, and some lovely fake flowers. Oh, and some spools of ribbon for the princesses.

Home. I sauteed some chicken breast in olive oil and pepper until it was crispy, then tossed it in orange ginger sauce. Steamed broccoli and snap peas, and voila, a dinner! A yummy healthy dinner. Camille was home with Paul, she had already eaten. The rest of the kids went to church to see a movie and have dinner, so they were all set.

Kids going here and there and everywhere, it is hard to sit down and eat as a family these days, but we try, because it is really important. We already have Thursday's dinner planned, it will be our corned beef meal. Mirielle has the night off, and we may possible be able to all be here in the evening.

There are chicken thighs marinating in the 'fridge for dinner, so I feel accomplished, knowing in the morning already what's for dinner tonight.

I have my second load of laundry in, and have washed a sink full of dishes.

Jon needs some help with some school work,(he is teaching Camille some math right now) and Camille is chomping to get out of the house and go somewhere. I kept her home from school again because she still had a fever yesterday. She is much better today, but needs to get better before she goes to school to pick up the next sickness.

It is 32 degrees out right now. Zero Celsius. Camille opened the door to let the dogs out, and yelled, "It's spring! I am not serious, it is spring!" She obviously doesn't know exactly what the word SERIOUS means, but it was funny. Because it is still freezing out, and there is still lots of snow, but when it has been such a long cold winter, 32 doesn't feel so bad. But...there is a snowstorm brewing for Wednesday night....more snow. ugh.

But spring will come, and it will feel glorious.

Emily and I might take a little trip out west to visit Ben and Ashley and their baby Anya, next month. She is trying to get a few days off from work. I just think that not seeing that baby day after day, week after week, is torture...but not seeing her for the whole year is just not right. They are supposed to come home in November, when Benjamin gets out of the Army. I can't wait that long. And of course it will be nice to see Ben and Ashley too.

Mirielle and I are talking about trying to plan a little trip to Hershey, Pennsylvania, to take the younger kids to the amusement park there. And we are planning our trip to Georgia for Sam's graduation from boot camp. We would like to take a few vehicles and take the whole fandamily, if possible. We will see.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

a birthday and a phone call and sickness....

Mali turned 20....she came over last night and we celebrated a bit. Pizza (a vegetarian one for her with olives, red and green peppers, and onions. She has been a vegetarian for five years now.), and salad.

It's funny to think that when I had Mali, I was 28 years old. Seven kids, and 28 years old. A year younger than my oldest daughter is now.
Mali was two in this one, when Sam was the baby. I was thirty then, and had half of the kids I would eventually have, not including Robert:(.

Mali was a cute little thing.

We HAVE to include a pic of Duke and Suri. Mali took this last night, after she covered them up nicely for their nap. She had put the princess Snuggy on Suri then called them for a treat, and we laughed our heads off as Suri padded across the floor wearing that pink Snuggy.

Then a phone call from this guy, my little Sammy. Private Samuel J. W., now, although ha, I definitely still think of Sam as this sweet little boy. He is now at his barracks, ready to start boot camp. He only had like 30 seconds on the phone, but said all of his mailing info would be sent to us, and that he loves us and misses us. And that was it. We probably won't hear from him for a while, but we ARE planning one heck of a trip to see him graduate in June. I am proposing that all of us that can go down there, taking two vehicles if we have to. He would be so happy to see the the little girls...and Jon...and all of us.

And, I have been sick. Functioning sick, as per usual. Know what I mean? I did take a mega nap on Thursday afternoon. I had taken Kathryn to the library, and kept feeling really sick, like I was really going to be sick to my stomach, and I had a headache. I managed to get through Target and the grocery store, kept feeling blah then fine....then got home and slept for three hours. Of course I was wide awake at bedtime, so I read an entire library book. Then yesterday, again, felt blah. I took another mega nap, then managed to clean up the house and make the birthday cake, while Suzanne and Kathryn made the pizzas.

I don't feel horrible, just blah-ish and yucky. And, today is Monster Jam. Monster Jam is ridiculous, but we (our church) run a concession stand there. The Carrier Dome is filled with dirt, and those huge noisy trucks race around, kicking up dust. It's a sad day for people like me, who take the money from the poor people who seem to cash their paychecks and blow it all on over-priced junky food. They aren't allowed to bring their own food in, so they have to buy stuff. Some of them seriously don't know simple math, and demand to know why it adds up to so much, while others simply look shocked that three bottles of water add up to $11.75. I know, I know, it's a free country, and if people want to waste good money on one day of fun, so be it. But I can't help thinking how much good, healthy food these people could buy for the amount of money they spend. And believe me, this is a different crowd than we get at sporting events. More guys with dirt under their fingernails and the greasy spot on their hat where they adjust it. More people that need dental work, kids that don't have Under Armour jackets. I just hope they have lots of fun and really enjoy it all, although for the life of me I don't understand it. (I realize this sounds really snotty, and I don't mean it that way. I love people, and enjoy the interaction with them, I just am trying to be truthful. The day just makes me sad.)

But off we go today, Paul and I and Joseph and Emily and Abigail and work at Monster Jam.

My throat hurts. I would like to go get back in bed for another one of those mega naps, but, alas, we are short handed, and I can't just not go today. I will take a few ibuprofen, and hopefully be fine.

Camille is doing better today, normal temperature finally. She is still rather subdued, not bouncing off the walls yet, and her hair...oh, what a rat's nest! She hates having her hair brushed on a good day, but when she was sick, she refused. So now we have a major detangling event on our agenda.

There is birthday cake out there on the table, with my yummy homemade buttercream frosting, and it is not calling me, it is SCREAMING my name. I am ready to go scrape the whole thing into the garbage. I escaped without even a taste last night, but what good is that if I go out there and eat the rest of it, little by little, every time I pass it?:) I made some of the frosting peanutbutter, and I know it must be heavenly on the chocolate cupcakes....but I will NOT even taste it. Nope. When I don't feel well, my excuses are pretty darned good, but they are still excuses. I made two eggs this morning, and steamed a bowl of broccoli, eaten together....healthy, but come on, it's not pancakes! Oh well, feeling good is better than eating food that is bad for me. Right? Perhaps I will make a slice of that yummy Food For Life raisin toast....(I didn't get any money for saying this, but that is GOOD bread, the Ezekial bread and the raisin stuff...made from sprouted grains, gluten-free...) It's five dollars a loaf, but if you keep it in the freezer and make it last, it's worth it.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

it has been five years now...

since the horrible awful unbelievable mind-numbing night that my brother took his life.

It is supposed to get easier, and perhaps in some ways it has.

Some days go by and I don't even think about it.

But there is still that punch-in-the-gut remembering thing that happens when I think about Billy in the context of how he would think something or other was funny. Hits me anew, I groan and wonder for the millionth time what in the world possessed him to do something permanent. So final.

I don't spend all of my days wondering, nor do I dwell on sad thoughts. It occurred to me that the longer we live here on this earth, the more sad anniversaries of things we rack up...7 years since my dad died, 8 since my mom died, ect. ect. Life is too short to be pulled under by sad memories.

I don't always get sad when I think of Billy. Sometimes my son Joseph will give me that look, that look that makes me feel foolish. Billy was an expert at that. He was wise and perceptive, scoffing, yet tender when you least expected it. He loved the babies and little ones, and took such good care of our parents in their last days. He was supremely intelligent, and long before the internet days of looking up info in just seconds, he was a go-to, as he read voraciously and retained everything he ever read. He loved to bless and give. He really did. Caramel cream candies...oh they remind us all of Billy.

But life goes on, and there are things to deal with here at home. Camille has been sick. I got home from working at the Dome the other night and found out she had been lying on the couch with a headache. Paul gave her Tylenol before he tucked her in. I didn't even wake her up yesterday for school, because asix year old who lies on the couch with a headache is coming down with something. I was right. She is sick.
Miss Camille is a snuggler on a good day, she gets sick and oh my she loves her mama.

Her fever spiked last evening....I am thankful for ibuprofen.

She is a bit better today, temperature down to 101, and watching silly shows on televison. I talked Charlotte Claire into going to school alone, which she so bravely did. Cam is sick, but still happy to be here:)

And, I had to add this happy picture, because there are still so many blessings in life.... Our children are our biggest blessings, but these two pups sure add to the love around here. They are just so sweet and good and friendly. Paul doesn't like his picture taken much, but I took it anyway.

I took a quick little trip to Walmart with Mirielle yesterday afternoon after the school kids got home. We needed a few things like grapefruit and bananas and yogurt and coffee, and some popsicles and fudge bars and creamsicles for the sick child. I also cruised the clearance section and got Jonathan some $3 pants, a really sweet $3 shirt for Charlotte Claire and some jeans, and some things for Mali for her birthday, which is in two days.

It is sunny today, and according to the weatherman, it will be warming up quite nicely: into the 20's. That IS a warm-up, comparatively, but oh my goodness it has been a long cold winter. Tomorrow it is forecast to climb out of freezing to 39 (3.8 c) degrees! 39 degrees and sunny!!!

Camille has asked for lemonade, so I will go make some from lemon juice and sugar and bad as I feel for Camille, I don't mind taking care of her one little bit...I would rather be sick myself than see any of my kids suffer. But it's nice to be needed.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014


One degree. (-17c) That's what it was when I sent my two little princesses out the door to the bus this morning. brr. The sun is trying to peek out now, but more snow is coming, just some light flurries, an inch or two or three.

And, I have to go to the Dome. The Dome...the college basketball venue in the city. Syracuse has lost their last three games, bringing them down from #1 in the nation to #7. Our church works at one of the concession stands there for all the home games, and this is the last one. phew. It isn't hard work, but it means leaving house and home and trekking out into the cold, up the steps and hill of the Dome, and standing on my feet for several hours, meaning my knees will ache extra tomorrow. But. It does also mean being with my friends, and as I usually run a register, getting to "meet" lots of people. I enjoy people. I think every movie star has a look-alike, and several of them go to the Dome. I like working with the church youth, too. They are much more fun than the older people:)

This morning I had to drive to town to pick up Mirielle from dropping her car off to have the oil changed. Yeah, it's cold out there. The new snow is still clean and sparkly, so it certainly is pretty. The fields and trees are covered, it looks like a Christmas card. The Great Lakes are more than 90% frozen over, which is monumental. It has been a cold harsh winter. I know I talk about it all the time, is my little reality. Yesterday we had a second delivery of oil, it is the first winter since we have been in this house that we have had to have a second delivery, and we have been here 21 years. We have not burned any wood this year at all, since Paul was gone so much in the fall. Our old wood supplier stopped selling, and we haven't found another. Anyway. Spring cannot come fast enough for me.

And we get by. Jonathan and I picked the little girls up from school yesterday and went into town to pay the house insurance, then to the Dollar General to get a new fan for Kathryn (our family has a slight white noise addiction, the lady in the store thought I was cray cray for requesting a fan when it was like four degrees out). And Jon "needed" triple A batteries. That boy always needs batteries. Buy him a package of batteries, and he is in hog heaven, making all of his stuff come back to life. Yesterday, it was the walkie-talkies. He put one near Suri and had a blast talking to her, I should have videoed her, she was so puzzled. Anyway. I let them pick out some candy too, then we stopped into the grocery store for a few things, then home. I try to keep them busy when it's too cold to go outside.

The little girls are fun. The other night we played with Aqua sand, which doesn't get wet in water. We played Jenga, meaning we built houses out of the blocks. We made bracelets. Since we got an additional couch, we moved out one of the big tables from our living room, and moved the last desktop computer out, to Evelyn's room. There is much extra room for the girls to play over there, so they are going to set up "house" there when they get home from school. I told them they could move the couch across for a wall if they want to. I want to stay home from the Dome and play with them:)

Oh, my life! So interesting, huh?

Lately I have felt rather sad. Sam, winter, missing my mother, having my only grandchild so far away, my sister works and I never talk to her anymore, my sis-in-law is always driving her kids everywhere and can never go anywhere anymore...Paul is pretty busy too, and was sick last I have felt rather lonely. Lonely in the midst of the noise and confusion. Whenever I start on the pity-party-path, lots of thoughts come along that fuel the Poor Me fire. I realized last night that those thoughts have to STOP. AS a man thinks, so he is. It is a waste of time, and no good comes of it. It is the wrong spirit to be in. To get back on the right path, the first step is to be thankful. When one is thankful for each and every thing, there is no room for anything else to thrive. Also, those thoughts come - I can't help that they come. But I CAN help how I react to them. God gives grace to overcome sin, I don't have to agree with every thought that comes into my head. It isn't what goes into a man which defiles him, but what comes out. Tried faith is worth more than gold.

Mirielle and I reasoned this out this morning: God created Samuel just the way He wanted him. God knew Sam had his one-track mind to be in the Army. Sam trusts God, prays, lives a good life...God will not forsake Sam. Sam is where he is supposed to be. Perhaps God will use him as a light there, in the Army. I know that those who trust in Him will not be put to shame. I know that. And Sam trusts in Him. So I still miss Sammers, as Mirielle always calls him, but I will work more to have peace about his decisions.

So...there are hopefully some trips coming up in my future. Besides being thankful for each and every thing that God lovingly sends my way, nothing cheers me up like going on a trip. I love the planning and the going, seeing new things....Emily and I might just take a little trip out to Washington state to see Ben and Ashley and my sweet little grand-baby, Anya. Then there is the trip to Georgia when Sam graduates from boot camp. Beyond that, I don't know. I did find some real deals on trips to the Dominican...for under $800, five days, all-inclusive, including airfare from central New York. Oh the sand and sun. Anyway.:)

A girl can dream.

And, a girl can get off of her lazy one and get busy around the house.....

Sunday, March 2, 2014

come talk me in....!

Shh, don't tell Camille that it's, "tuck", not, "talk". She likes to be talked in. I don't like to correct their little mis-speaks,oh the cuteness and the littleness. The days go by, and up they grow. No more foot-y pajamas, or sippy cups. No more stepstool in the bathroom, they can reach now. Even Camille can read by herself, although she still likes to be read to. My babies are not babies anymore.

Okay, sometimes you can go to the thrift store and come out with maybe a couple of books and dusty fingers, but other days...oh joy! Yesterday was one of those bonus days. Miss Camille found a beautiful jewelry box with little glass doors and spinn-y things for all the necklaces she hopes to collect. She found a little polka dotted clip board for playing school and restaurant. She got some Barbie books, and a Juney B. Jones book. (Miss Char was out and about with Mirielle, and was pretty thrilled at the new treasures too, obviously they will share)

Anyway, I found: a new couch! A leather couch! I am not a big fan of the idea of buying used furniture, because of possible critters and just the not knowing....but. I saw this couch, and it looked so clean! Not a tear in it, not too saggy, just fine. Now, we didn't have room in our vehicle for a couch, and this place is way over in another county, but I decided to just go out on a limb and buy the couch. I had just been to the grocery store and had a huge long receipt with several coupons for $7 off any $25 or more purchase, so I redeemed one on my first order, which included a Little Tikes table and two chairs, our old chairs got cracked and broken and the girls used bins to sit on when they played school and office....anyway. I bought the couch for $41 including tax, using another coupon.

I had to go home and get the truck and and go all the way back and pick it was dinner time when I got it home. Paul and Mirielle and Evelyn had made taco salad, and were just thrilled to have to go out into the cold evening to help carry in a couch. It is sitting in limbo now, waiting for me to decide how to fit it in. I would like to mount it on the wall over the other couch, to make a double decker, not really. The room isn't actually big enough, but we will fit it in, we need the places to sit.

Anyway. It is a pretty morning, snow is falling and it is quiet. The girls are really busy playing with their new treasures, and I have had one cup of coffee. Paul put a piece of beef in the crockpot, and is heading to town for some potatoes to go in with it.

We got a few letters from Sam,and each and every one of us who read them started to cry. I can't help feeling like we've thrown him to the wolves, and if you personally know Sam, you would understand. It does help me to know that he wouldn't have had it any other way. If I had talked to the recruiters and told them that Sam was "special", Sam would have never forgiven me. He is doing what he always wanted to do, and he will be fine. That is what I am telling myself. But I am also finding myself in tears when I least expect it.

Since we are heading to church this fine Sunday, I have much to do, so off I go, out of the comfy chair....