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

Thursday, May 29, 2014

letter from sam, trip to the library, and a new purse....

Yesterday was just fantastic. Kathryn and I got an early start to the library, where I paid a large fine, thank you girls for all those books you had stacked next to your beds and forgot to give me when I went out and about. I was ready to pay for one mystery book which no one got out, no one read and no one knew where it was. Then the other night, the princesses were playing school, and out of their drawer full of paper and notebooks, voila! The missing library book!

We got out the movie, "Pollyanna", for the girls, Paul is reading them the book right now. The movie is pretty cool, but it needs a re-do, to be more like the book. I love the Glad Game, by the way.

Anyway, we then went to one of our favorite places, the thrift store. I like to shop until I find Something Really Great. And I found it! A new purse, a Relic brand from Kohl's, for $5.99. It was brand spankin' new, not a crumb in it. Just what I wanted for summer. I also got two new shirts, a Corelle bowl and two mugs, a glass pitcher, and a shiny red tea kettle for a friend who is getting his first apartment. Kathryn got a few pairs of jeans to cut off into shorts, and a couple of cool t-shirts.

Then, the dollar store, where I stocked up on chocolate and sunglasses. They sell Target sunglasses for a buck. I don't much care what they look like, as long as they work. I can't see paying big money for them they way they disappear and get broken. I also got a really old-lady-ish sun hat, and some granola bars.

Grocery store for grapes and watermelon and yogurt and eggs and chicken, then home...

The kids had to go to activity club, ect, and Paul had church work to do, so I went to visit his mom, who is back from Florida for the summer. Evelyn went with me, and we had a very nice time. She gave me a lovely necklace, which I am very excited about. I will wear it to Sam's graduation:) She seems to be doing well, but is still getting her strength back from a strenuous trip last month to the Kentucky Derby. She's 84 but has more energy than I do.

Tomorrow is Grandparent's Day at school. Mirielle and I went last year for the little girls, and it wasn't all that great. Lots of people crowded into the rooms, the kids are all cute and happy and proud of their grandpas and grandmas, parents have passed away, and I didn't want to ask Paul's mom to go, it's just hot and too much walking....and and, Camille has an appointment for her arm which she broke a few months ago...we are making a day of it. Charlotte will come with us, and Jon too, and we will get some lunch and take it to the park by the lake, along with scooters and bikes, and have a nice day in the sunshine.

I have been thinking alot lately about being thankful. It's easy when the sun is out, and I am out in it:), but when there are dishes and there is drama (I DO have eleven daughters!), when I feel slighted or like no one loves me, then it is a different story. Then, I have to decide, really, what direction I am going to let my thoughts go in. Poor me? Seriously? NO sir. Those thoughts can shrivel up and die, because I am not going to water them. Life is too short. God has given me too much.

I am thankful for this wonderful spring time after that long cold winter. Being out on the deck with the tree branches swaying in the breeze, the birds singing, the brilliant blue of the sky, not having to bundle up....ooh, I love bare feet. I am thankful for our two big huge labs, who muck through the creek and have to be toweled off. They are always happy to see me, always no matter what. They hold no grudges, and have no complaints. They simply wag and and are overjoyed when they get a treat or a pat on the head. It's funny, Duke never asks to go out, Suri does. She comes to me and sits there looking at me, tells me with her eyes. Sometimes Mirielle says, "Use your words!", and it's funny. We ask if they want to go out, and they jump up and run to the door. They know if you spell o-u-t, too. Even the word, "go", means to run to the door. Anyway. They are precious.

I am thankful for all these kids too. It takes up ever inch of space in my brain to keep track of who is doing what and what each one of them is going through, and sometimes I will think of one of them and sort of panic, because I almost forgot that something or other was going on with them.

I have four nurses now. Four. I take partial credit, as I did go through Nursing School with each one of them, praying for them and waiting with anticipation for test scores.

Half of them are out of high school, only 8 more to go.

Oh, and one thing I am really super thankful for is that I have been given the gift of the appreciation of Stopping To Smell The Roses. When Char and Cam and I hatched the plan for tomorrow in lieu of Grandparent's Day, we all got really excited, and Camille said,"I love having things to look forward to!." I do, too. Okay, I have things to do around the house, things perhaps that should be done instead of walked away from, but guess what? I don't care. My kids won't have memories of living in a spotless house with all their stuff organized and arranged just so, but hopefully they'll remember the countless adventures, the time spent outside,or of their dollhouse stuff spread from one end of the living room to the other, or setting up blanket forts or playing store with all the canned food, promising me they will clean it up when they were done, with me always realizing they will never really be done. Because that was always the answer, "Mom, we aren't DONE playing with it yet." Even if they had moved on to playing school in a different room.

Anyway. The kids are growing up and the house still isn't spotless, but I did clean off the stovetop and shine up all the cupboards and appliances yesterday, and wash out the inside of the microwave. I did a few loads of laundry, and swept the floors a few times. I bleached out the kitchen sink, it is white, and we have an abundance of iron in our water....but, I still am not an organizer. It took me years to decide on one particular cupboard to keep the peanut butter, for example. I don't like crumbs or sticky or dirty, or clutter, but I can't organize to save my life. I try. As Aaron says, on my tombstone they'll have written, "She Tried."

Enough rambling for this fine morning. :)

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

and a happy tuesday to all....

My Army son Benjamin and his little daughter Anya. Is this adorable or what? Thank you Ashley, sorry I stole it from your facebook page:)

It's hot today. After that long long winter, it's lovely, but...okay, it's just a smidgen too hot. There, I did it. I complained about the heat.

My ear hurts today, and my teeth and face ache again, sinus trouble. I just feel like diving into bed and staying there. I read an entire book today, between schooling Jon and doing laundry and cleaning up. (The other day I heard one of my friends, when asked to do something, say to, "ask Della, she does NOTHING.") I thought of this today while I read my book:) But. This is one day of down time after a VERY busy weekend, which followed a VERY busy week, in which I did shopping for the church soccer tournament grill....four times. In the evenings, I worked a baseball game, brought the kids to soccer practice, did food prep on Friday night...phew. Honestly, I was a little offended when I heard her say that Della Does Nothing. I wanted to jump up and straighten her out. She knows I homeschool, but she must have forgotten. She perhaps doesn't know how much other stuff I do. But seriously, it doesn't matter. I KNOW what matters is how I take it. Being offended...really? Is that worth it? It is written, "when giving, don't let your right hand know what your left hand is doing, that your giving may be in secret..."(Matt. 6:3) When I go blaring about what I do, and start demanding on others to do more too, I lose all my heavenly treasures. Seeking honor is worse than not doing anything in the first place. I am writing this to encourage myself:)

Anyway. I am having a Down Day, and that's all right. As long as I don't include ice cream in it, I'll be fine.

Yesterday morning I found myself here with 8 kids, so I made them breakfast. Sausage and waffles, which looked so yummy. But I behaved and made myself some scrambled eggs and Ezekial toast (made with sprouted grains). I brought home pizza the other night, and had one slice. I don't really like eating any, but was glad that I resisted after the one slice. I know everyone isn't afflicted with the I Want More thing, but it is the thorn in my side.

I got a letter from Samuel today. He is out in a six day "ruck". He said last week they learned how to clear houses, looking for enemies, using chalk bullets. He got hit several times and has bruises. This whole Army thing is not so easy for me, although I am proud of Sam, and glad he is doing all right. He says he wants those frozen cakes when he comes home, chocolate and coconut (Pepperidge Farms), and Tollhouse cookies. I guess the whole platoon keeps talking about what they are going to have when they go home on leave, poor guys.

And....the first school bus is here, off I go to sort out drama and hear about some girls' day.

Monday, May 26, 2014

memorial day post....

Since it's Memorial Day, here is a picture of Specialist Benjamin W. I am truly proud of him. Joining the Army helped save his life, he was on the wrong path, and the discipline and routine, along with his desire to turn his life around, in addition to his new bride Ashley's support, he thrived in the Army. He is a Medic, and saved his Sergeant's life while deployed in Afghanistan. I know I am shamelessly bragging, but...I don't care:) He is readying himself for civilian life, his Army career will be over in the fall....

And of course I am proud of Samuel. He is just the sweetest boy, and I am honestly surprised (sorry Sam!) at how well he as adapted to military life so far. He has gotten through the hardest part of Infantry Basic Training, which is hard for anyone. So I am extremely proud of him. The fact that he was chosen to be in the Old Guard is quite an honor, so yes, I am proud of him.

And, I am proud of our church soccer team. They have lost game after game year after year...and this year, they won first place in the "b" pool, winning or tying all of their games except for one. Four of my kids play on the team, and Kathryn is the assistant coach, so it was pretty cool....

It turns out that Sonja, aka Ginger, is a really good player! She made a few amazing kicks, made two goals during shoot-outs.

Our weather is brilliantly sunny and magnificently warm. I made brownies and a cake, which I have to decorate, we are getting together this afternoon for a picnic to celebrate the soccer team's win. But right now, I am headed outside with lots of my kids...

Friday, May 23, 2014

random ramblings on a fine friday....

This is my oldest son Benjamin, in his dress blues. I am not sure of the occasion, I stole the picture from Ashley's facebook page:) I just thought he looked so handsome!

So today I am tired. No one wants to hear the boring details, but I am tired today because of yesterday. I had to buy stuff for the grill for the soccer tournament this weekend at church. Evelyn had stayed home from school and wanted to spend some time with me. Quality time at Target! She got to pick out a nice purse, from the clearance rack of course, a shirt, and a tank top. We went to two grocery stores, and she actually was her sister Emily in BJ's, since Em has the membership card for the church purchases, and only Em and one other girl can use it. Evelyn is 14, Em is 29, but they didn't even notice.

I picked the little girls up from school, then home to unload things and put my feet up for a scant half hour before it was time to go to work at the baseball stadium. I had to iron out all the details of who was going where first, between soccer practice and a demo/construction job some of the older ones were working on, and someone to watch Susan's kids, so she could work at the baseball game....and of course someone to stay home and watch the younger ones. The ballgame was so busy, I didn't get a chance to sneak my phone out of my pocket to read any messages until well past the kids' bedtime, and the one message from Char simply said, "come home". wah.

She was fine though, Daddy was here, and she chattered away this morning about how much fun they had.

Anyway, Susan's van had a flat tire on the way to the game, Kim had to come pick us up and she had to call roadside assistance. Oh the fun never ends. I got home and nocturnal Mirielle was up, she had the night off, so I stayed up and talked to her for a few hours. It was almost two when I crawled into bed, having to get up 6:30. Dang, I am so tired. I have to finish up grill shopping, then do food prep tonight...and tomorrow, soccer tournament!

This morning has been fun already. I went to get clean undies for the princesses, and lo and behold, that stupid cat of ours used their clean undies basket for a litter box. rrrrr. rrrrr. I pay Jon a dollar for each time he empties the litter box, so he usually is on task, he can empty it every day if he wants to. He has fallen behind a little, and bratty kitty doesn't like to go unless the box is nice and clean. The stupid cat goes outside all the time anyway, I don't know why it even uses litter anymore, but it's better than poop in the laundry room. rrrr. I have to reason it out, at least we don't have mice. And, stupid kitty is SO nice.

Ah well, the day beckons, and so does my nice comfy bed, but I have no time for naps today. Schooling, then will have suffice.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

lovely day at home....

Spring has finally sprung here in New York state.

We went on a nice walk the other day....

The little ones just got home from school. Emily picked up some of the older ones and took them out and about. Jon has been waiting for his sisters to get off the bus so they can play outside. He wants to climb a tree, but Camille cannot. Not yet. I hate when kids climb trees anyway, but when the baby of the family breaks her arm, oh dear. I can't bring myself to forbid it though, it is part of being a kid. Low branches, and make sure they're strong, please.

I managed to stay home today. Jonathan is reading, "Farmer Boy", by Laura Ingalls Wilder. He is learning to write a little neater, and is perfecting adding fractions with different denominators, and improper fractions. He went around the yard picking leaves and comparing them. He played with his remote controlled helicopter (it is actually controlled by his tablet), and ran around with the dogs.

Tonight is the elementary school concert for Charlotte Claire and Camille. Paul has a board meeting, and the other kids are going to Activity Club. It is so busy sometimes...

Camille just found an M&M in her sneaker, she is throwing it out because her shoe reeks, she says. She is a better man than I.

Anyway. I went on a nice long walk this morning, I was thankful my knee didn't hurt. I am hobbling around sometimes....

Yesterday, I cooked chicken out on the grill. Paul and the little girls were out in the garden, Camille is hilarious, Paul had the rototiller on, and she was dancing around on the other side of the garden, leaping and picking flowers (weeds), and singing. I sat down and looked at our yard, at the mature trees that we planted when we moved in, and realized how fast the years go by. Our land used to be a corn field, and we could see the highway from our house when we first built it. Now, there are woods around our yard. I looked at the ride-ons that they are too big for, especially the Little Tikes Cozy Coupe, which Emily christened, "The Rain Car" (because it has a roof, and when it doesn't get wet, I guess...). This is the second Cozy Coupe, the first one of Em's lasted through several children, then Jon got this new one. They are all too big for it now. Sad thought. It has been a few years since we had a toddler, before that...we had them year after year after year, starting almost 30 years ago. All those years of scrambling around protecting drinks on end tables, being on the alert for chairs being dragged across floors for easier access to sugar bowls and salt shakers, keeping the toilet lid down and the bathroom door closed, making sure the doors were all the way closed and little choke-y things were all picked up from the floors that had to remain clean all the time because of the crawling babies that we seemed to have a never-ending supply of. It's funny because while I was thinking these things, of how even though we have kids here it seems so silent, without the crying babies and toddlers, Charlotte Claire said so innocently, "Mama, you haven't had a baby in a long time! But I don't want to talk about the baby that died, or you will have bad dreams...."

I'm the kind of person who will be very busy when I have to be very busy, but when I lose steam and there is nothing that absolutely HAS to be done right now, I don't know what to do with myself. I get the dishes done and the floors cleaned, the counters straightened, and I'm like, Let's Go Bye-Bye. Or, Where's My Book? That's why I am enjoying the homeschooling this year so much, I feel like I belong here at home, to be available for the older kids, and to be here when anyone is sick and has to stay home from school, and teaching here gives me a purpose. Plus, of course, I think it's a really good option for Kathryn and Jonathan.

There is chicken soup on the stove tonight. I feel so accomplished when the afternoon rolls around and I actually know what's for dinner, and when I have it already started, oh yay me. There are some rolls for those who still eat such things, and leftover watermelon too. I am hypnotizing myself again...You Will Not Eat Chocolate. Ice Cream Is Not That Good. One Bite Of A Roll With Butter Leads To Another. A Few Chocolate Chips Is Not 50. Stay Out Of The Miniature Snickers. Do Not Eat One Chip - It Doesn't Work.

Last evening I had a cup of tea, which helped, after I ate like five of those little mini Snicker bars. I decided that was ENOUGH, and made the tea. rrrr. I know, why did I buy them? Well, they were $4.99 for a 52 ounce bag. How could I NOT buy them? I will send the rest with the older kids tonight for their youth activities. Get them out of here. :)

Yah ,so we all have our struggles.

Did I mention that Mali Rose got a job? She got a job! At the same hospital Mirielle works at, as an Registered Nurse. Yay! She still has to take her state nursing exam, but can start working first and take it with in like a six month period. Four nurses in the family now...

And....we have decided for sure to let our four girls come along on the trip to Georgia for Samuel's graduation from Basic Training. Kathryn 16, Evelyn 14, Suzanne 13, and Sonja 12, are coming with us. It will change the whole dynamics of the trip from a nice little getaway to...oh dear, to rather a Drama Fest, but these four girls are SO MUCH FUN. (Margaret cannot come because of school, and the older ones have obligations and work, and the younger ones already got to go last time) So...we cancelled our reservations, somewhat regretfully on my part, I had reserved a place with a nice outside saltwater pool:), back to the same hotel we went to last time because it has a one bedroom suite, with a t.v. in each room...the pool is indoors, but oh well. Maybe it will be rainy and we will be thankful for that. Paul had reward points, so we only spend like sixty dollars a night for this place, which isn't too bad.

Oh well, have to finish making that soup, and get the girls ready for their concert, and figure who else is going where and who is driving and what vehicle I will be driving....ha, no more babies or toddlers, but oh dear, the logistics!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

plethora of excuses....

I have been just blog cruising. I like to read the weight loss blogs for encouragement and motivation. I love living in these times, being able to communicate and connect with like-minded people. It's really neat. I am facebook friends with another Army mom I met in Fort Benning, and I think that's really cool.

Anyway. Today I am going shopping with my oldest daughter Emily, and my sister-in-law Kim, for our church grill. I have to work with Jonathan a bit first on his school work, and do some laundry. I didn't go on my walk this morning because my poor knees don't like to walk AND shop. wah.

Last evening, Paul went downstairs to put salt in the water softener system. Jonathan followed him, because...that's what Jon does. He likes to follow you around and talk, and help, and just see what's going on. Well, I heard all this commotion, Paul was saying things like, "Oh my goodness. Oh no. Oh dear. Oh Jon." Now, Paul doesn't usually flip out. He is calm cool collected. He wasn't yelling at all, but he was all serious-like, and he didn't sound too happy. So, I put my computer down, get up from my chair, and start to really panic, thinking of things like blood and severed limbs, by the tone of Paul's voice, that panicky sound, and I also hear Jon crying. Well. Jon stepped on a pipe, the main pipe that goes from the main house plumbing to the water softener system, and water was going all over the downstairs. And Jon was standing there sobbing because he stepped on it accidentally. By the time I figured out what was going on, Paul was telling Jon it was okay, it was a mistake, no big deal, but the floor was all wet and Jon was so upset. I actually just plopped down on the stairs and put my head in my hands, I was so relieved it was just a plumbing problem. My heart was pounding, I really thought something really bad had happened. phew. Of course, I am not the one who had to take a 10 pm trip to the hardware store to get a new piece of pipe...:)

Paul fixed up that pipe, but first he hugged Jon and told him it was all right.


I think we are going to take Kathryn 16, Evelyn 14, Suzanne 13, and Sonja K. 12, to Georgia with us. I think Sam would love it, I think they would really enjoy the graduation, and hey, they are growing up so fast and in a few years, who would want to go on a trip with Mommy and Daddy? They want to go to the National Infantry Museum, and the civil war museum prisoner of war camp. It will be all cozy like in one hotel room, but I think the memories of this trip will be well worth it.'s time to get moving.:)

Monday, May 19, 2014

and a fine monday morning it is....

Okay...random things from a scatterbrained mom.

I just talked to Emily, she said she bought me roses for Mother's Day and forgot to bring them over. Well, she said, she bought them the day AFTER Mother's Day. And they were two dollars a dozen. I don't care that she forgot to bring them over, and I don't care that she only paid two dollars. I am happy that she thought about me, and that she knew I would appreciate them all the more because...they were two dollars.

Abigail...I spent time with her yesterday, we worked at the ball game together. She has this hilarious laugh, and such a good attitude about life.

Anyway, the things that are swirling around in my brain...I have to do some shopping for our church soccer tournament for this weekend. Lots of shopping, several hundred cans of drinks, burgers and chicken and and and. I already bought most of the candy for the candy store. I also have to work on Thursday night at the baseball game. Paul signed up to work on Saturday and Sunday, which means he won't get to see Evelyn, Suzanne, Sonja, and Jonathan play soccer. I probably won't get to see too much either, since I will be working at the candy store. It's really interesting to do this church fundraising. It is a sacrifice for everyone who does it, but it seems like it's always the same people who work. The ones who don't work probably have really good reasons, but they don't realize that those who do have the same reasons but just work anyway. So I need to just work on my own salvation, and be happy doing what I know is right without getting critical of those who are happy not helping.:)

We are thinking of homeschooling our little girls in the next few years. Our school district is amazing, the teachers are very nice...but our little girls are growing up so fast, childhood is so fleeting. They are there in school all day, get home at 4:00, then have much repetition, too. Camille catches on to things rather quickly, and loves to learn. They still like the social aspect of school, but are asking to homeschool. I think they could probably get enough school work done at home in just a few hours a day, then have plenty more time to run and play and use their imaginations.

We get to choose. Things happen to us, but our thoughts are our own, and our thoughts are like the rudder that guides how our lives will go. A little thought of bitterness will cause those bitter roots to grow, so sneakily they grow. They can seem so RIGHT, those thoughts. But we have the choice to cling to that which is good, to say no to those thoughts. I keep thinking of a verse in Deuteronomy, it says, "Choose life!" (30:19 "I call heaven and earth as witness today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing, therefore choose life that you and your descendants may live; 20 "that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Issac, and Jacob, to give to them.")

I can think of ways I have been slighted, or of something Paul has said to me, or they way someone assumes I will take care of something...and the thoughts start to churn. It doesn't matter if I look like a nice person, or if I can keep my house clean, or make it to ever church function. What matters is that I keep my heart pure. I am going to stand before Him one day, and nothing will be hidden then. Just think to take care of all that sin, day in day out, to live in such a way that that day isn't a fearful thing.

It seems like among Christians, there is so much emphasis on whether one thing or another is right or wrong, but mention being free from sin, and oh dear, not THAT. The outward things will fall into place when the inner life is put right.

Anyway. Enough preaching. I am mostly preaching to myself, you wouldn't believe how much help I get from writing things like that.

Mali just texted me and asked me if I am home. Oh joy, I am my mother's daughter, they way I get so happy just knowing one of my older kids is coming for a visit! She said she misses me, how can anything be better than that? My mother used to say that if anyone asked her if she had a favorite child or grandchild, she would answer, "Yes, the one I'm with!" I feel like that with my kids, too. I love them all, and think about them all the time when they're not with me, I pray for them, wish them the best....

This is why I am glad I don't have a Real Job. Mali is coming over:)!

Now, don't go thinking I don't have any trials. I do. I just have to be careful what I write here, I don't want the kids to hate me. Sam still bugs me about something I wrote years ago about his pants falling down and him needing a new belt, apparently I bought him a belt at the dollar store and blogged about it. He can do this hilarious Mom voice and narrate it, it makes everyone laugh, and I cringe.

I just have to tell my story and be careful of their privacy, that's all.

Anyway, Mali's coming over! I knew this was going to be a good day.

Friday, May 16, 2014

just plain happy....

Are you ever just plain happy? I am. Today I am. There is no specific reason for it, and I am a little suspicious of it, because I get nervous that something bad will happen. That is in direct contradiction to believe that God sends all things for my very best, but it is still in there a little bit.

Anyway, here is why I am happy:

1. I love my husband. He isn't perfect, and sometimes he drives me absolutely nuts, but I am not quite perfect either so I can overlook when he just Uh-Huhs when I tell him perfectly interesting stuff.

2. I love my kids. Last night I drove five of them to soccer practice, and promised them on the way there that if they were back in the van at 8:00 on the dot, I would take them to Dunkin for an ice cream or a frozen drink. (sometimes the practice runs over, and I have other kids to get home to:)) It worked, and off we went. They had lots of ranting to do, and they took turns. A. doesn't listen! B. argues back with the coach! C. gets so mad whenever she's corrected! D. swore at me! E. knocked me down for no reason and when I said he should apologize, he said, "Sorrrrrreeeeeee!" like he didn't mean it, and when I said not to say it like that, he said, "What, you don't like apologies, fine!" and so on. Kathryn is the assistant coach, so between the two of us, we managed to get the kids thinking more positively, encouraging them to forgive and forget and not argue. To at least for the Good Sportsmen Trophy.:)

3. I love the weather. Today it is chillier and rainy. The persistent dark cloudy kind of rain. It is beyond cozy in here right now, and I have a huge mug of coffee.

4. I love that it's Joseph's 23rd birthday! He is my fifth child, and I love him to pieces! Here he is with Samuel and Jonathan. Joe hates his name, wishes I had used more imagination. He does not lack in imagination. He is an artist, and spends most of his time drawing, and putting together a portfolio. He has tried working in construction, and went to college for a half year, then to nursing school for one semester. He hated those things. He loves his art, and is trying to perfect his stuff so he can make a living at it. Joseph is a kind soul. He doesn't ask for much, and he does lots of things he really doesn't love doing without complaining. He reminds me so much of my late brother Billy, the way he can peg people and say the most cynical things. I bought him a super new pencil sharpener, some nice pens, pencils, drawing paper, and a t-shirt that says, "Yes, I am hiding from you."

5. I love our two labs. Nice, cute, funny, smart...mostly obedient. Sort of like the kids.

6. I love homeschooling Kathryn and Jonathan. It gives me more time with them, the days go by too fast.

7. I love that Ben is done with the Army in the fall, and moving back to New York. I can't wait to spend more time with him and Ashley, and of course Anya:)

8. I love that Mali is pretty much done with nursing school.

9. I love that Paul and I are going to Georgia again, to see Samuel "turn blue", into a genuine Infantryman, and graduate from Army Basic training.

10. I love my older kids, the ones who have mostly gone through the perils of their youth and landed safely in the land of Responsible Young Adulthood....Emily and Abigail and Benjamin and Mirielle and Aaron....they support themselves. :)

11. I love that even though I ate so terribly last week on vacation in Georgia, the scale is moving down again. I love that I am optimistic again about getting smaller. It is so much a mental battle.

And now I am tired of that, although I am certain there are many more things I love.

I talked to my brother on the phone this morning, and I am very proud of him. He has lost so much weight. The details aren't my story to tell, but he looks like a younger smaller version of his already handsome self. It is so encouraging to talk to him. He has simply changed his lifestyle.

Okay, so our upcoming trip to Georgia....Paul and I are planning to go all by our lonesomes and bring Sam back with us, for his 10 day leave. We want to go by ourselves because....we really want some time. Sharing a hotel room with lots of kids is fun, but. A few of my teenagers REALLY want to go, but we would kind of want to get them their own room, which isn't really feasible. They say Sam wants them to come, and I do agree that he does, but. I feel sort of selfish, but we simply can't seem to carve out any time to spend just together, and the ride down and the few days before we see Sam seem perfect. I know I can't please everyone all the time, but I am used to The Kids Come First, and it's hard knowing they would have too much fun if they came with us. I am ready to just say Okay Everyone Who Wants To Can Come, we will pack in like sardines and just have a good old time.

I love the hustle and bustle of still having so many kids around, but I also like these down days, where Kathryn is doing her work, Jon is doing his work, Joe is doing his work, the dogs are snoring on the couches, and I putter around from one thing to another, accomplishing a little here and a little there. I know when the school bus pulls up, the drama and the noise will come back in full force, so I try to bask in the peacefulness.

Last evening, after we came in from soccer practice and Dunkin Donuts (I only got a coffee with sugar-free rasberry), the power went out. It stayed out for like an hour, and it was just plain cozy in here. We turned on all the battery-operated candles (I LOVE those!), lit some real candles, and talked. I was glad when it came back on so we could sleep with the fan on, and run the water again, but it was actually kind of exciting to have had it go out for a bit.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

my favorite kind of day....

Warm and overcast, breezy with those distant storms threatening, the leaves rustling, the curtains flapping in the wind. Just having leaves on the trees finally, yay!

Oh thrift store shopping! I refrained from snapping a picture of Evelyn, Suzanne, Sonja, Char, and Camille. They HATE when I do things like that. But it was quite funny, us with our overflowing cart full of good finds, plus the two swivel office chairs Cam and Char talked me into buying for them for $5.99 each. They LOVE playing office, and school, and promised me they would love these chairs forever and clean their room so they can fit in there. I don't believe them, but I bought them anyway. We also bought a whole stack of Little House Books, "The Poisonwood Bible", and "The Help", which are good to read again, along with a few other books that look good for summer reading. I found two nice blue Corelle mugs, and a baby doll with it's clothes still on. The girls found shorts and jeans and button down shirts and shoes.

Our hands were dusty, but we enjoyed our little scavenger hunt. We then met Mirielle at Kohl's, because she had a 30% off coupon. Sometimes the clearance stuff there is really reasonable, especially with a little extra discount. I love dressing the two little girls in cute clothes...............

A quick trip into Aldi for some produce and half and half and a little bit of chocolate for when we really need it. Yes, NEED. When you have a houseful of girls, sometimes you really need chocolate.

We had chicken wraps for dinner, with lots of good veggies, and strawberries for dessert. The kids rushed off to activity club, I cleaned up, then went for a nice long walk, then left for a grill meeting at church. (Paul started rototilling the garden, I saw him for like two minutes last night.)

And today...stretched before me like a blank slate. I have lots to do, but what will I really do? I would like to crack into that new stack of books we brought home yesterday, but I won't. Not yet.

So, my dear son Samuel James is graduating from Infantry Basic Training on June 13. At least I HOPE he makes it through. My heart would absolutely break for him if he didn't, but I won't think about that. Anyway, Paul and I are travelling to Georgia again. We will bring Sam back with us, he will have leave for 10 days, then head to his base in Virginia, where he will be in the Old Guard. BTW, I am very proud of him to have been chosen for that. He said they picked out a group of around 40 guys from the whole platoon, then sat them down and started asking questions and eliminating them based on their answers. Sam never smoked, never got arrested, ect. So he was one of seven guys who were selected. Anyway, he will be coming home. All sorts of busyness will be going on while he is home, but we chose one day for our family to be together, and you know how hard that is to co-ordinate, with three nurses in the family with different schedules. A few have to ask for that day off, but hey, it will be worth it. I am just sad that Benjamin can't be home too, but flying from Washington state for a weekend is not feasible. We will have to call him or skype him that day. I miss him muchly. And I know that isn't a real word, although I don't see why we aren't allowed to just add "ly" or "er" to anything we want. Funner and stupider should be words. Anyway.

I am working hard on getting back into better shape. A new beginning, again. I don't care how many times I have to re-start, I am not giving up. I gained like five pounds on that Georgia trip, partly eating those dark chocolate covered pomegranate things while driving, just to keep awake. Partly because we sat around for three full days and I ate chocolate. And some of the Easter candy I brought for Sam. No donuts, but I realize I can't tick off all the things I didn't eat, but be honest and acknowledge the things I DID eat. I can be so puzzled sometimes why I am at a standstill, I mean, I didn't eat any cookies! But I DID eat like seven squares of dark chocolate and too many nuts, or too much popcorn, or whatever. I have to be awake, and eat lots of stuff that's good for me so I am not feeling deprived and so snacky all the time. "Snacky" should also be a word.

So Mali Rose, my dear little Mali, made it through nursing school. Now, she is my fourth nurse (Emily, Mirielle, Aaron)...but somehow I am jumping up and down like ten times more for her. They all worked hard, but Mali...she really worked hard. She had times where she was sure she wasn't going to get through it, and I would tell her it ain't over 'til it's over, don't give up, you can do this, take one day at a time, just focus, you can do it....I rejoiced when she passed her tests, I cried with her when she failed them. I worried when she had evaluations...I basically went through nursing school with her. She is in the final stretch, her classes are all finished except for one clinical she is working on, which she is pretty certain to pass. I'm not quite opening the champagne yet, but soon, yes very soon....

And, off I go to do all the stuff I have to do around here....

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

oh how time flies....

This was what a school morning looked like around here a few years back. Sonja K. was in kindergarten, now she is in the sixth grade. Jon was three, Char was one, I was probably expecting Camille. Phew. Emily, Abigail, and Benjamin were all through with school by that time, perhaps in college, I don't know. I do know that if anyone has good reason to be a little crazy, it is me:)

But as I marveled at having so many kids in school, I realized that I still have lots of kids in school. Sam graduated early, but I still have Margaret, Evelyn, Suzanne, Sonja, Charlotte Claire, and Camille, plus Kathryn and Jon doing homeschool.

Anyway, it has been a crazy ride, this motherhood thing. It seems like I spent so many years being tired and nauseous and frazzled. Up half the night with a baby, chasing a few toddlers all day, longing for that ever-elusive Good Nap...then the middle school kids would have these school projects, and I would just groan. Snack days, ugh. Then there were the spring olympics, where different grades were supposed to wear different colored shirts, oh my goodness I couldn't keep afloat. I felt like I always got by by the skin of my teeth, whatever that means. I would go in the office to sign a few of the kids out, and when I was asked what grade a particular child was in, I would get that panicky feeling, and when asked what teacher, oh my, give me a second, I think I know...

I admit I couldn't keep track of everything. I would go in to parent teacher conferences, and nod my head and agree, but honestly, I didn't know what each child was doing in school. I just couldn't keep that much information in my head, and besides, I already went to school, I didn't have to go again with each child, right? They were well-behaved, did their work, got along with other kids, that was the important part.

I went for years thinking there should be like two of me. One to clean the house, because hey, when you're so tired you can't see straight, or perhaps you just had a miscarriage and you're out of milk and bread and the dog needs to go to the vet and someone's birthday is coming up and there is a church conference and the camper needs to be vacuumed and the pool needs chemicals and the car needs to be inspected...but there was just me. And Paul, of course. But since I didn't work, it was really up to me to manage things around here, at least during the day. I was always thankful I didn't have to work, at least at a Real Job.

Anyway. I am still winding down from all that busyness. Between homeschooling, keeping up with the laundry and the house, shopping, hanging out with the older ones when they have an odd day off, doing church things, I still keep busy enough. But the whirlwind has slowed to a steady breeze, for the most part.

Today is Wednesday. That means 50% off at the thrift store in the small city. It means I am picking five kids up early from school to go there. They have finally realized that one can find good things secondhand. I think once they have that EUREKA find, that perfect pair of jeans for just a few bucks, they get hooked. They recently bought nice jeans, like American Eagle and Hollister, and cut them into shorts, sewed on lace, made them cute. I like buying myself a few books here and there, and finding nice coffee mugs. In a normal house, there are mugs. The mugs stay there, where they belong between uses, in the cupboard. In our house, they disappear, like the spoons do. When I cleaned the van before the trip to Georgia, I found three. I also like to browse the furniture section, we got our five matching kitchen chairs there for only $29.99. Not each, for all five. And our leather couch for $41. Anyway. Going out and about with my girls is FUN.

I worked out yesterday, then Abigail came over in the evening for a nice long walk. My knee hurt so badly I could have cried, later when I got up from my comfy chair after finally finishing the third book in the Divergent series. I hobbled in to take my shower before bed, trying not to get too bummed out. I know it gets bad, then gets a little better, then gets worse, then a little better, and yesterday I just did way too much. One of these years I'll get both knees replaced, I wish I could just wave a magic wand. It is a hard thing to try to get into shape when it hurts so much to do it.

Well, there is stuff to be done here, a boy to teach, laundry to switch.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

looking back a little.....

Just a few years back, all of the kids.

This was taken 3 or 4 years ago.......from littlest to biggest....Camille, Charlotte Claire, Jonathan, Sonja, Suzanne, Evelyn, Kathryn, Margaret, Samuel, Mali Rose, Aaron, Joseph, Mirielle, Benjamin, Abigail, and Emily. They were in age-order, but not exactly size order.

Five years ago....Camille was 1 and a half, Charlotte Claire 3, Jonathan 5, Sonja K. 7, Suzanne 8, Evelyn 9, and Kathryn 11. (Margaret was 12, Sam 13, Mali 15, Aaron 16, Joseph 18, Mirielle 19, Benjamin 20, Abigail 22, and Emily 24.

The five little girls-in-a-row-in-five years: Margaret 10, Kathryn 9, Evelyn 7 1/2, Suzanne 6, and Sonja K. 5....

It is warm summer-like weather today, 76 degrees and sunny. I am enjoying my day now, I have been to the dr. about that little pre-cancerous thingy I had removed from my forehead, I am fine, and to the store, and and I am home, and thinking about starting dinner. Kids are home from school, the little ones are filling their little pool in the front yard. It is freeze-pop and bathing suit weather for them....finally.

Monday, May 12, 2014

saying goodbye is never fun....

Saying goodbye to Sam was one of the hardest things ever. He didn't try to hide the tears he was wiping away as he turned and walked toward his barracks with his plastic shopping bags of supplies from the px. (He hadn't been to a store since he first got there in February, and needed more razors and this tool for being out in the field, which cost like $50. I always thought the Army supplied the soldiers with gear, but lots of the stuff they have to buy with their own money.)

Anyway. It was hard to leave him. He has settled in and adjusted, and now has to go through the homesickness all over again. But these next five weeks of Infantry training will go by much faster than the first 11 weeks of being processed, and regular Basic training. Because hey, five weeks is only 35 days. That's what I told him. He hasn't had candy or coffee or pizza in all those weeks, and lost 25 pounds. He looks good. He didn't eat too much of the junk we brought him, and that he got at the px. He isn't used to it anymore.

He has grown up. He is so very responsible, and careful to abide by all of the rules. He stands up so straight and tall, the Army has accomplished in a matter of weeks what I couldn't manage to do in all of his 18 years, no matter how I nagged. But, now he stands straight and tall. He is super respectful, and thankful, and has this good attitude to take things right no matter what. He has known from childhood that Life Isn't Fair, but when it happens that it really isn't, it is not easy to take. He said being in the Army is mostly mental. I told him that LIFE is mostly mental. It's all in the attitude. He said some guys just complain about everything all the time, and their Army experience is awful. Not that I blame them, from what Sam told me, I would complain too:)....Sam went on this 11 mile "ruck", with a 60 pound pack, on a hot humid Georgia day, in full gear. He was near the front, and booking along nicely ,when a Sgt. asked him if he was going to, "fall out of line". He answered, "No, Drill Sergeant.", and was rewarded with running all the way back to the start of the line to count everyone, then back up to the front. For me, that would have been the time to call the M.P.s, I would simply walk away and go AWOL. Then there was the time he assembled The Perfect Breakfast. Now Chow time isn't like a restaurant, or even home. You Get What You Get And You Don't Throw A Fit, as Charlotte Claire would say. But this one morning, all the stars were aligned properly in the universe, and he got all the good stuff. He got the large box of Raisin Bran Crunch, and he actually got milk for it...apparently sometimes if there is a back-up in the line for milk, the Drill Sgt. will tell them to just move along, which means dry cereal or cereal with Powerade on it. Anyway, Perfect Breakfast soon as Sam sat with his tray, a Sgt. came in and asked for two volunteers for Fire Watch. No one volunteered, so immediately they were told they were selfish, and they were excused from breakfast. Perfect Breakfast, and he didn't get to eat one bite. Life Ain't Fair.

But when one signs up for the military, one knows these things will happen, and Sam really tries to take it all in stride. Remember, he is the boy who would sit there at the dinner table with all his silverware and plate and cup arranged Just So, and eat ever so slowly, he had his routines. I am amazed and surprised and really genuinely happy that he has adjusted so well to so much change. He is actually so stinkin' proud of himself, too, I can tell. It has been great for his self-confidence. He is the boy who would never even place his own order at McDonalds, remember.

He is a kind soul, Sam is. He wasn't afraid to tell me how much he missed all of us, and how hard those first weeks were. He called his sisters and talked to them, and to Benjamin. He can't wait until June, he graduates, and comes home for a week of leave!!!! Paul and I are traveling to Georgia again, and bringing him back with us. He got his Duty Assignment, he is officially going to be in the Old Guard, and stationed in Virginia. Perhaps he will guard the president:)

Jonathan and Charlotte Claire and Camille were real sports about visiting Sam. They have this enthusiasm about things, the girls picked up leaves from under the tree and started playing Tree Farm. We were at the base for three full days, with not exactly loads to do for little kids, but they made due. They brought four Barbies and some little bears, and spread it all out on the floor of the reception building where we sat and visited, and belted out, "Let It Go", oblivious to the smirking soldiers. Camille showed Sam how she does push-ups at one point....T They took a few naps....
Miss Char....

Miss Camille....

Charlotte turned 8 on Sunday, and spent her birthday there visiting Sam at the base. We bought her a package of Twizzlers. She already had a birthday party last week, so she was fine. :) And, we let her choose between McDonalds and Wendy's on the way home from Georgia.

Anyway. It was a nice little vacation. We are home now, and I am taking a break from unpacking and doing laundry. Evelyn made me coffee, Joseph served it to me....

Joe is a nice boy.

Paul is at the mall picking up his new glasses. He took Suzanne and Sonja with him, and is stopping at the store to get stuff for taco salad for dinner.

So back to normal now....did I mention how nice it was to see the rest of the kids?

Saturday, May 10, 2014

my son sam the army man...

Samuel James....

Sam hadn't had anything from Starbucks in weeks. No coffee since February. So we brought him a cookie crumble frappuccino.

With Sam...

Paul with Sam....

Sam with Joseph, Charlotte and Camille...

We walked around the base today.

Sam hadn't been in a store in over 60 days, and he needed some supplies, like KitKat bars and coffee. He has had neither of those things since February either. So we walked to the px a few times. Sam has lost like 25 pounds, and just can't and doesn't eat as much anymore. But he sure enjoyed the coffee and the chocolate, and the subs and the Chinese food we brought him.

He is doing well, this big handsome son of mine. He was intensely homesick when he first got here, away from friends and family and all the things we take for granted, like sitting on a couch. He has grown up so much, he is so responsible and takes being a soldier very seriously. My heart aches that he has to stay on the base this weekend, just for moving his hand during his p.t. test. As soon as that hand moved, the drill sgt. terminated his test, and that was all the push-ups that were recorded. He failed by two push-ups. And he usually gets good marks on those tests. But that is life, it isn't always fair, and the Army is a perfect example of it. As Sam said, "Even the kid who sneaked cake into the barracks in his pockets got to leave the base!"

Anyway, life isn't always fair, so Sam has to stay at the base all weekend, with us visiting him there. He can't take off that hot uniform or even roll up the sleeves or take off his huge boots. But he is pretty happy to have us there, to have his phone for a few days...he talked to Ben and to his sisters today:) He is happy to have coffee, and to talk to Jonathan, and to sit on a couch.

I am tired. We spent the day there with Sam again, then came back to the hotel, and into the pool for a long splashy swim. Now we are settled down, and should go to sleep. We are checking out of the hotel tomorrow morning, visiting Sam for the day, saying goodbye to him, :(, then on towards home, 18 hours of driving....

Thursday, May 8, 2014

up all night!

Jonathan, Charlotte Claire, and Camille think this trip is just the greatest. I am basking in their enthusiasm, as I am well aware that fast forward like five years and they will be all This Is So Lame.

They enjoy every single bit of it, from the mountains of Pennsylvania, some of which are aptly named the Endless Mountains. I mean, they ARE pretty, but you see've seen them all. We went from New York state, which is a newbie to this spring green stuff, with only little tiny baby leaves on the trees, to full blown green-ness. Charlotte Claire was looking forward to our drive through the city of Charlotte, North Carolina, but alas, she was sleeping, and no way was I waking her up. They had their pillow pets and blankies and finally settled in so Paul could doze while I took a turn. I like driving during the night, getting comfy behind a big truck that is cruising along just a bit above the speed limit....

We checked in to our hotel near five a.m., tucked those excited little girls in....and at 8:30, they were awake. I managed to doze a little more, but they were up playing "quietly", so I got up and brought them down to breakfast.

We are going to the Army base tomorrow to see Samuel. He called while we were in the pool and left a message, I think he misses us as much as we miss him. I am so very thankful that we came down here, and am looking SO forward to seeing him...

For today, though, we have a few things on the agenda...Jon brought his x-box. But we went to go out and about, and perhaps go to the Piggly Wiggly. Call me a strange Northerner, but I rather like exploring regional grocery stores. Out in Washington state there is the Winco, and of course the Safeway, which are not in New York. Down here there is Publix, too. We also have learned that we can eat cheaper and healthier by going to a store rather than going out to eat. If we are allowed though, we will bring pizza or Chinese take-out to Sam.

And...I am distracted because Paul is watching Pawn Stars, where these guys run a pawn shop, right now a guy is pawning his own father's WWII jacket....we don't have cable at home:)

Anyway...I am having a grand old time.

Monday, May 5, 2014

bye bye with Kap

I didn't really WANT to go bye bye today, but since we are leaving for Georgia on Wednesday and have to pack tomorrow, I decided it would be wise.

Then I started gathering clothes to pack...and doing laundry....and cleaning up...the day started going by, so we got a late start. And, there was a band concert tonight for Evelyn, so I had nary a minute for dinner between shopping and picking up the van at the shop and going to the concert. Phew. Home again, kids tucked in, and ready for bed. I made it through the day without a nap.

Tomorrow...I have to clean out that messy minivan, and finish packing. I have packed the kids' clothes, still have to do mine. I bought snacks for the 18 hour drive, like beef jerky and almonds and chocolate covered cashews and veggie sticks and apples and peanutbutter crackers, and some flavored tootsie rolls for the kids, plus some diet iced teas.

Georgia, ah, warm weather! High eighties! I am looking forward to it, and to seeing Samuel. Life is good. Busy, but good.

and a happy monday...

It would be rather happier if I hadn't stayed up until almost two a.m. with my nocturnal daughter Mirielle, who had the night off from work. We watched, "Call The Midwife" at midnight. Today is brilliantly sunny, a beautiful spring day, and my eyelids feel like sandpaper. The house is quiet, the kids went off to school, the homeschoolers are still sleeping, and I want to go back to bed.

But, I have to bring the van to town to the shop, and there are remnants of the birthday party everywhere. Kids got out building blocks and dollhouse stuff, and there are Nerf bullets scattered everywhere. I wrapped up the leftover cupcakes last night, I find that things that are wrapped up are a little harder to eat mindlessly. I did not eat any cupcakes yesterday, but I did eat some salt and vinegar chips, and a few chocolates...rrr.

The party was supposed to last for three hours, but it went on and on and on, the boys running through the house shooting each other and shouting, the girls playing quietly in their room. I wanted to send the boys outside, but it was rather wet out there, and didn't want them to get all muddy then bring it all in the house. Anyway, it was a long day, the last boy left after 8:00....

I know, I know, I used to have chaos like that all day every day, but my boys were not that crazy. I simply didn't allow them to run and jump onto the couches and slam around. Just because there were a lot of them didn't mean they could wreck everything. Chaos and noise aside, it was a fun day. Jon had a blast with his friends, and Camille really enjoyed her day too. Lots of big cousins stopped in, and I enjoyed my chats with them. My brother stopped in for a coffee when he dropped his kids off, that was nice.

Having a wedding on Saturday and a birthday party on Sunday made for a scrambled Monday morning as the little girls did their homework while eating their FruitLoops. oops. Never even thought of it last night.

So the day after tomorrow, we leave for Georgia. It is like a 17+ hour ride, and we are driving straight through. Driving through the night seems better for the kids, the trip doesn't drag on and on like that. They are looking forward to stopping somewhere to get ready for bed, then snuggling in with blankets and pillows and sleeping in the van. You know who will be wide awake the whole way. Yup, I can't sleep on a trip, I like to see everything. I should really try to though, so I don't get a raging headache.

Our trip won't be like I had planned. Samuel won't be able to leave the base. He apparently didn't pass his last P.T. test because of hand placement during push-ups or something. He called me briefly Friday night to tell me that, and sounded upset. I struggled whether to write about it on here, thinking he would probably hate it. But I decided to because he did nothing wrong. He is a good young man, honest and hard-working, truthful, kind, thoughtful.. He has made lots of progress running and has made it through the long "ruck" with the heavy pack. He has passed from phase to phase of Basic, so it is not the end of the world that he failed one P.T. test. I am proud of him, and intend to tell him so. I won't even jokingly say, "See, I told you you shouldn't have joined the Army."

I am not sure if he will be allowed to have his favorite cookies, or what sort of set-up there is there for visiting, but I certainly won't be hopping in there with his Easter basket, no sir. Ha, he would kill me.

Paul and I have decided that we are going to make an additional trip down there in June to attend his graduation.

phew. Life is interesting. Paul had a routine physical a few weeks back. He heard the other day that during the EKG, his old friend A-Fib showed up. He had an ablation done a few years ago to fix it, but was told it could return, and it has. He doesn't think it is as bad as it was before, but oh my, I had forgotten all about that little chapter of our lives. He will be fine, there are many options to treat it, but still. My husband and his heart are very close to MY heart, and I found myself more than a little shaken to hear it.

Life isn't always sunshine and roses, but God sends all things for our very best. There is great peace when we fight against our own anxieties and really believe that. Actually, it is easier to believe it in the big trials, but when someone spills milk or when Paul decides to cook a huge breakfast while I am cleaning the kitchen for a party or when I find out that those pizza rolls in the freezer for the party that I told no one to eat are half gone...well, then I need to really wake up! It is NOT about the circumstances, it is about how I take it! I get to choose!

in which she stays up way too late...

Miss Char, cousin Dani, Miss Camille....all dressed up for their cousin's wedding, and Miss Sonja Kathleen, she turned 12 yesterday.

The lovely couple, my sister's daughter Ellen, and her new husband Phillip.

My sister Cheryl...

Sonja K. relaxing with the pups on her birthday...

We had a party today...for Miss Charlotte Claire, she is turning 8 next week, and Jonathan, who turned 10 last week, and Miss Sonja K., turned 12 yesterday.

And, it is way too late, to bed with me.

Friday, May 2, 2014

ahh, friday, and finally a real post....

Today, I thought I would try to sneak in some time to finish my book. It's the right kind of day for it, overcast and gloomy, my favorite kind of day, although those brilliantly sunny warm ones are nice too. Anyway, I thought maybe I would sneak back to bed and get some reading in. Some relaxing. But Paul is working from home today, and the little girls didn't go to school, and I have been so busy...

Here's what I did yesterday:

Got the kids out to school.

Swept and cleaned off the counters.

Made some coffee, and left with Emily to shop for the food for my niece Ellen's wedding.

We first dropped the minivan off to get the oil changed and an inspection done.

Then off to Aldi. Then to Wegmans. Then to Maines, which is like ten miles farther because the parmesan cheese was too expensive at Wegmans. Then a coffee stop, then out to the church to put unload. Then to the school to pick up Charlotte Claire and Camille, then home. We had just enough time to bring in our own groceries, say goodbye to Emily, then to the small city for Char's dentist appointment. It was only the princesses and me, and they wanted to go to Kohl's because they love looking at the clothes, and knew I wanted to get a birthday present for Sonja. We did, and we got her a skater skirt, a t-shirt, a sweater, and some leggings. (She liked them, yay me!). (her birthday isn't until tomorrow, but I couldn't wait.)) Anyway. Then to Walmart to get batteries for Jon's birthday present, and some stuff for their party, good stuff like streamers and plates and balloons. Then to BJ's for brownie mix for the wedding. The girls had fun in there because they were giving out samples. I did take a piece of Dove chocolate:), but skipped the crackers and grape juice. Camille went to the cracker table three times, poor starving child.

Home to drop off the kids and the stuff, then back to town with Margaret, to pick up the minivan. Yes, it passed New York state inspection, but. It needs new something or others. The poor mechanic was explaining it to me, and said, "You know, the bushers." Um, I said, No, actually I don't. It is only a few hundred to get them all replaced, and we need that van in good shape for our trip to Georgia next week.

Ahh, home. I made dinner (orange ginger chicken breast, zucchini and onions and cauliflower roasted in the oven, and cantaloupe.) Then in the evening, ice cream pie for Jon's birthday, which I had made the night before. I only had a few teaspoons full, phew. It was too good with that butter/crumbled cookie crust, and hot fudge on top.

Anyway, Emily and Abigail were over for a visit, and we had a very relaxing and pleasant evening. I was ready to turn in early-ish, and right as I was getting in the shower, Kathryn texted and wanted a ride home from babysitting for my niece's children. Paul thankfully volunteered to go.

So today, I let the girls stay home because Char's cheeks were like a chipmunk yesterday from the dentist visit, and of course Camille said she just didn't feel great, and they haven't missed a day in a while, so I said they could stay home. Yay! Party time! They had all these plans, and their joy is so contagious.

I have swept and washed bedding and clothes and towels, baked several dozen cupcakes, and packed them up for Sunday. I still have to frost them, but I love that part. I washed the top of the stove, puttered around wiping things down and sorting things and cleaning up. I helped Camille work on her school project, and fill the goody bags for the party, which is on Sunday.

Tomorrow is a wedding!!!! My sister's number six daughter Ellen is getting married. (she has seven). There are 300 guests expected, Paul is helping with the meal. He has to go out tonight to prepare, and go early tomorrow to help again. Some of my kids are also helping to serve. It shall be a very encouraging time, and very nice to see so many friends. My sister's #4 daughter is in town from Australia with her fiance, her family is meeting him for the first time. I don't even know what I am going to wear yet, that's how busy I have been. I will probably wear the same dress I wore last year for Ellen's sister Janet's wedding, and to my other niece Liz's wedding. I would like to have looked in Kohl's and found a fabulous dress that makes me look like fifty pounds lighter, for ten bucks or so, but I didn't even look. We had shopped so much, and I just didn't feel like it.

Anyway. Here I sit, having a little relaxation while the girls clean their ever-messy room. They just had some ice cream pie with Jonny, and I politely declined. Miss Char has a big plan, and amidst all the stuff I did today, she has been driving me batty. She has saved up all her birthday and Christmas money for a long time, and has over a hundred dollars. She wants to buy a tablet, and she wants it before we go to Georgia, which means we can't order it and know it will get here in time. So she has been looking online all day, on and off, looking for one that she can afford and that is in stock. Even though it has been annoying, I get a kick out of my consumer-driven kids, learning how to navigate the internet and find who has what in stock, and compare prices and features. Of course this whole thing is RIGHT up Jon's alley, so they have been chattering to me all day the virtues of this or that tablet.

The verdict is that if those girls get their room cleaned, I will take them to the small city to Walmart and let Char get her tablet. I am so nice I can't stand it. Because seriously, I would rather go to the pool, or just chill, or or or. But. I promised, because it will perhaps get that room cleaned....and perhaps stop the tablet talk.

Oh, and here is something to rejoice about: Mali passed nursing school!!!! She did it! She persevered, she passed her tests, she passed her classes, and she is done, all except for one class she has to take for six weeks. I am very proud of her. If I had a dollar for everytime she was ready to give up....

So next Wednesday, we are outta here! We are heading to Georgia!!!! The ride will be challenging with the little kids, but they were so good on the trip to Florida last year, I'm sure we'll survive. This trip is only 17 hours, with stops probably longer, but really not so long.

So that's what has been going on here. I got back from Seattle on Tuesday, and have been going non-stop ever since. I am so extremely thankful for my family lately. Shopping with Emily, which isn't how I would have chosen to spend my day yesterday, but we agreed to help, and we both know how to make the best of life, and we certainly had our fun. Life is too short to grump about what one has to do. My two little girls have been fighting too much lately. They are 18 months apart, and the best of friends, but when they have their competitive moments or their squabbles, look out. They know how to push each others' buttons, and when they have a mind to fight, they are really good at it. Sometimes I think they just get bored and argue recreationally. I told them today that I am not going to try to figure out who said what or who is at fault, but if they are bound and determined to fight, they can just sit in chairs or go in their room and fight all they want to. I figure if they are doing it for attention from me, they can just cross that off their list. If I were to try to sort out all the little hissy fits, by the time I got to the bottom of things, they would move on to getting along well, and be best friends again. Jon sometimes gets involved, mostly because he likes to argue a bit, but he mostly does it for something to do.

My five-girls-in-a-row-in-five-years, phew, they can disagree! At any given time, there are two of them at each other. I try to get involved as little as possible.

Anyway. I am enjoying my life. I do recognize that I have People Coming Over Anxiety. I never feel the house is clean enough for company. Probably isn't. It just isn't in my realm of capability to keep this place spotless all the time. I do not like clutter, and it isn't dirty, isn't how I would like it to be. So when company is coming, I see a million things that I need done, now! We are having people over on Sunday for a double birthday party for Jon and Charlotte Claire, their friends, and perhaps their friends' parents, and some is supposed to rain, so the house will be pretty full. I could do my old trick and make cookies, like I did one time the house was messy and some boys from church came over. They were so distracted by the hot chocolate chip cookies right out of the oven, they didn't care about the house. :)

Oh well, dinner time approaches and yup, no idea what to make yet. And, I need to go on a long walk down the road before it rains again. And, Jonathan is playing with his new remote controlled helicopter and is commenting and talking to me....