summer 2011

summer 2011

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

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

Friday, August 29, 2014


Not really. This is Emily's throwback Thursday pic.

It is still August, still summer, and it's Friday!

First of all, the baseball game was fun. If I could just step out of my old achy body, with the throbbing knees and oh, my feet by the end of the night of standing on that cement floor....but I can't. I go and fund raise, and yes, suffer in my body for it, but I can't explain how much fun it is. Last evening, I really got to know Anna. I have known her since she was born, but seriously, what 49 year old is friends with a 16 year old girl? I worked with her 21 year old sister too, and when she said something really funny at the end of the night, we just about fell on the floor laughing. Yes, it was busy and crazy and at times a bit challenging to keep up, but I am thankful that my life is never lonely or boring!

We went to the drive-through on the way home for some iced coffees, and don't kill me Marg, but...oh dear, she didn't pull up close enough to the window, and had to get out to pay and to take the drinks. It was SO funny. The boy working there was trying not to laugh, but he was so nice, he reassured Margaret that it happens a lot. um, no, I don't really think so, but it was nice of him to say so.

I talked to my Army son Samuel this morning on the phone. He really likes his training. He went on a ten mile ruck yesterday. He gets to run around the capital and the memorials, and loves it. He is wise for his years, he reminded me that I am very lucky to get to go to the baseball games, and to the college football and basketball games...that that's where the fun is, and that he misses it so much. He says part of missing home is missing being a part of all that stuff. Even though we don't go to the games to sit and watch, but to prepare and serve food and run registers, and to clean up afterward. It really is in the attitude.

Today we are going camping, and I still have to get into that packing groove. I have added things to the pile, like hot cocoa mix and teabags, coffee and a jar of peanut butter, and a bag of marshmallows. I haven't decided for sure what our meals will be, and I know I need a few things from the store. Sometimes I wish the Organization Fairy would come along and wave her wand at me, causing my scattered thoughts to come together and make some sense.

This morning I was thinking about all the things that have happened in my life since I started writing this blog. I have lost two babies (miscarriages), my brother killed himself, one of my sons joined the Army,got married, deployed to Afghanistan, came home and had a rough time but survived it and now has a baby girl. Four of my kids graduated from nursing school and now all have good jobs as RN's. We replaced our swimming pool all by ourselves, said goodbye to Champ the dog and Rosie the bad dog, one stillborn puppy, got a few kitties, lost a few kitties, gall bladder surgery, Aaron's surgery for his depressed sternum, Abigail's knee surgery, a few broken arms and broken legs, Paul's travels to Ireland, India, Germany, France, and Louisiana, our trips to Jamaica and Dominican Republic, Florida, Georgia, Virginia, my trip to Seattle Washington, Paul's coronary ablation, and countless other little every day trials, dilemmas, and joys, sleepless nights, and tired days.

What is my point? Each thing seems so big when it happens. Then it passes. What do I get out of it? In each and every thing, I get to choose. I can say yes, or no, to anxiety and worry. I can choose to trust God. I can get mad, angry, bitter. I can blame others, give in to accusing thoughts toward my husband or friends. Day in, day out, I get to choose. Here are some verses that I think of often...

"If you obey the voice of the Lord your God, to keep His commandments and His statutes which are written in the Book of the Law, and if you turn to the Lord your God with all your hear and with all your soul. For this commandment which I command you today is NOT too mysterious for you, nor too far off....It is not in heaven, that you should say, 'Who shall ascend into heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?', Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, 'Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?' But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it. See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgements, that you may live and multiply; and the Lord your God will bless you in the land which you possess. But if your heart turns away so that you do not hear, and are drawn away, and worship other gods and serve them, I announce to you today that you shall surely perish; you shall not prolong your days in the land which you cross over the Jordan to go in and possess. I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life,that both you and your descendants may live...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, Isaac, and Jacob, to give to them." (Deuteronomy 30, verses 10 -20)

I know, that's a lot of bible, right there. But it's so relevant! So living and true! Choose life!

Giving your life to God is not hard and heavy and full of rules and restrictions. On the contrary, it's a life of freedom!

And I am done preaching for now. I have to get packing....:)

Thursday, August 28, 2014

army son

Samuel James....isn't he handsome?

He's 19 years old now, all grown up, yet...still so sincere and innocent. He has passed his 60 minute and 90 minute standing still things...(I don't know the official term for standing there without looking to the right nor the left while the heat is turned up, the lights turned out then on again, ect. But he passed them.) He passed the rifle manual, next week is marching, then uniform inspection.

Being in the Old Guard is like being in summer camp for people obsessed with details. Sam reminds me that he's infantry first, and Old Guard second. Protecting Washington, D.C., and his Army base are the most important, but he certainly is enjoying his training so far.

He has been a little disappointed in his fellow man, though. One would think that no one would steal $70 from his wallet among such honorable soldiers, but someone did. I think he is more sad about it than he is mad that he lost money.

He found out this afternoon that he could have had a weekend pass and left the base for four days, but it's too late now. What??! He wanted so badly to be at the youth conference this weekend at church. But, he said, it happened for a reason, and there's no use getting upset about it.

Now, that's the best thing about Sam! With an attitude like that, he will have God's blessing over his life....

ah summer, please stay with us for a while....

This morning, I woke up with a good thought: be thankful. I know, I know, it's a common saying. But when you think about it, it's our nature to think about what we want, what we may get in the future, and perhaps even how unfair it is that others have what we perceive to be more, than we have.

So I woke up some teenagers and told them about this, encouraged them to count their blessings. It's easy to see that the Israelites were foolish to complain when they were brought out of bondage...they had bread from heaven to eat! But they wanted meat! They complained and God hated it! Just think how much more He hates it when we're unthankful and complaining.

I woke up those teenagers not just to give them my thankfulness spiel, but to take them to visit Grandma, who wasn't home. We did go to the playground though, and to get ice cream.

Sometimes I wake up during the night and think of interesting things to write, then forget them when I am actually sitting here with the computer.

I have to leave to go to the baseball game in a few hours. Mirielle, Margaret, and Joseph are working, too. It's not really hard to work, standing on the cement floor at the chicken stand is hard on my knees, and my feet start hurting, but Thursday is Dollar Beer Night (dollar hot dogs, too), and when it's really busy, I don't notice the pain. The other thing is that it's really fun. I like talking to customers, and working with my friends (and my kids). (We volunteer for our church, it's not great money, but it's something)

We are going camping tomorrow! The piles on the kitchen table are growing! When we went a few weeks ago, I forgot a spatula. I wonder what I'll forget this time. Going with little kids is a whole different ballgame than having teenagers and older kids along. Obviously the teenagers, even the good ones, will balk at the things younger kids delight in. They get antsy, and sometimes complain about how boring everything is. Things that were wonderful when they were little get a little lame. But once they get past the teenager-y stage, in their twenties, they seem to realize the importance of enjoying things for the benefit of the littler ones, and they possibly know that life is going by fast, and start to re-enjoy the little things.

At any rate, Paul and I are taking only Jonathan 10, Charlotte Claire 8, and Camille 6. We haven't gone camping with only three kids since...well, since we only had three kids! And back then, those oldest three were 4 and under. So this weekend sounds....relaxing.

And for my disclaimer: I would certainly take another baby if God chose to bless me with one, or if anyone had one they didn't want. I am not relieved to be out of that stage, although it is more relaxing and much much less work. But, I would take the work and the babies anyday!

So we are taking the bikes, and hopefully it won't rain. We'll have campfires and the younger kids will love having all the attention. I am looking forward to having some nice time with Paul, too, especially because he is going to France again next week.

Yesterday I went shopping all by my lonesome. The little girls were totally engrossed in playing dollhouse. Evelyn was going to go with me but she had a wicked headache. I told the girls it was only grocery shopping, so none really wanted to go. I mean, no Target? Nah, not worth it. So off I went...the dollar store, where I got cinnamon raisin bread for a buck, and four packs of Greek yogurt too. Some Ghiardelli chocolates and some six packs of big soft pretzels, and I headed to BigLots. I bought Balance Bars and half price chips and cookies for camping, shampoo and conditioner, and a bag of dog food. Then to Aldi for chocolate, eggs, half and half, milk, apples, bananas. Another grocery store for chicken breast, pretzels, more apples, detergent, bleach, paper plates for camping. Ahh, then home. Going by myself is fun, in a way. I can dawdle without anyone telling me to hurry, I can put five of something in the cart without hearing, "Really, Mom?!", and I can go to another store, and another, without resistance. I made friends with some old people. I gestured for them to get in front of me in line, and when they politely declined, I insisted and told them I had a babysitter at home and was good to be gone for a while and was in no hurry. They laughed and joked that I wanted to be gone as long as possible....

I feel sorry for old people sometimes, when out shopping. I think stores should have benches here and there for them to rest on. Not if they are like Paul's mom, but regular old people:)

So much for writing today...I give up. Teenagers are snacking, Evelyn wants to place an Amazon order, there are questions and giggles and silliness and just general mayhem. And now Suri is standing here looking at me. She cannot talk, but she can give me The Stare. It means to pet her, or let her out, or feed her. She is very insistent, and if I ignore her, she puts her paw on me. Duke would whine, not Suri. She just silently insists I figure out what she wants. Good thing she's cute.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

really excited!!!!

Okay, taking the plunge into homeschooling five of my kids has been exhilarating yet terrifying. Well, perhaps not exactly TERRIFYING, but a bit scary. I mean, what if I don't teach them enough? What if they fail their end of year exams? What if I wreck their entire lives?

I am sort of kidding, but being a mom is scary enough sometimes. These blessings called children have been placed in my care. To raise them up into responsible citizens, able to make their own way in the world is daunting. To labor to instill values in them, to help them to fear God and keep His commandments, to follow Jesus and live a clean victorious life...that is my whole heart's desire for them. Worldly success is good, but if they will live those faithful lives, that is beyond magnificent.

Anyway, here we are, school starting next week, and me being tempted to think, "What was I thinking!? I can't do this!"

So, I did what any freaked out mom would do, I went shopping! I scrolled through Amazon, and placed an order. (I haven't actually completed the order yet, Jon knows the password and he's still sleeping:))

I have a basic idea of what I want to teach them, but having more books specific to grade level will help.

Okay, so Duke behaved last night. He didn't bark or howl a single time. Paul however, was really bad. His allergies kicked in big time, and he sniffed and sniffled for a huge section of the night. I hate when I wake up and can't get back to sleep, but when he's tossing and turning too, ugh. Oh, the trials of life, ha. Anyway, this morning at 7: ish, I hear the school bus pull up, and honk a few times. I look out the window, and sure enough, there is the bus. What? Did I sleep for a whole week? Did I get the dates totally mixed up? Three of my kids are getting on that bus this year, but I thought school started next week. hmmm. Then Evelyn came in to my room and told me, duh Mom, there's high school orientation this morning. That's why the bus came, but she wasn't going on the bus, she wanted a ride instead. Okay, good. I didn't sleep for a week or get seriously mixed up with dates.

And, I got up and drove Miss Ev to school, then came home and took my walk.

Today I have to do some grocery shopping. I am not complaining, but food prices just keep going up. The cheap food is the most unhealthy, too, it seems. I like to feed the kids good stuff, like chicken and veggies and a little brown rice on the side, which is what we had last night. They seriously like ramen noodles, and boxed mac and cheese, which in my humble opinion, isn't even food. I get it for them sometimes for summer lunches, but blah. We don't eat much pasta any more, or even much bread. I like the sprouted grain bread, which is like $5 a loaf....the cinnamon raisin Ezekial bread, toasted with butter, yum.

Anyway, I like to have fresh fruit and we are almost out. We do have lots of green beans from the garden in our freezer, :)

I bought a new toothbrush last week, which I stuck in my purse. It is sticking out. Charlotte Claire said I should just leave it in there, in case we ever go to Florida again.

I talked to Benjamin today. He is in the Army and is stationed near Seattle Washington, at Ft. Lewis-McChord. He and his wife and little Anya, the sole grand child, are probably staying out there when he gets out of the Army. He is training for an apprenticeship in HVAC (heating, air conditoning), and the job market is good there, as is the weather, and they have made a few friends there. Wah for me. But they are happy there, I guess, and it's obviously their choice. There are no words to express how much I would like to be part of little Anya's life, not just a long-distance Grandma, but there's not much I can do about it. I can't explain it properly, but it almost hurts to see pictures and videos of that darling little girl.

She is a sweetie pie.

My nocturnal teenagers are all still sleeping. The little girls have had breakfast, and are deeply into playing dollhouse. The dogs are sleeping, and the house is quiet. I have to leave to pick up Evelyn soon, and switch laundry.

Tomorrow I am working at the baseball game, and on Friday we are going camping for the weekend. Our kitchen table reflects that I have started making camping piles. :)

Monday, August 25, 2014

adding to the general mayhem....

but first, a lovely pic of my Margaret and me, working the baseball game the other night...

Jon's friend gave him the most annoying toy, which also fascinates the kids. It is a miniature arcade-style claw machine that only works with carnival music. It has one volume: loud. Sonja is playing it right now. The little ones are in their suits, ready for our excursion. I have made phone calls today, and feel very accomplished. I got up and did dishes, swept floors, washed clothes and towels.

Duke was bad again last night and it's a good thing I don't have the superpower to vaporize dogs, or he would be just a fine mist right now. No, I love him, but oh dear. He howls in the night to go out. It's not his fault that I can't get back in bed and fall directly back into dreamland, but lie there thinking about all the things that I have to do, want to do, want to do better, and don't want to do. It seems like he is being evil, barking again right as I start to drift off....but he just wants to go out again. He wants to trot down the street to see his girl dog. The second time he barked, I just came out to tell him to shut up. He did. The third time, I was still awake, and Jon let him out without his leash, before I had a chance...rrr. So, I got dressed and grabbed the leash, and set off down the road just as the sun came up.

I took a little morning nap, but am so tired.

I just talked to the septic tank guy about getting the system inspected. The county mandates it, for our own good. It IS good for the local businesses though. Anyway. I emailed the window company about replacing some of these windows, and called the local garage about repairing one of the tires for the big van, so we can get rid of it.

Oh the fun. Now it's time to pack some lunch for our outing. It is sunny and warm and gorgeous out, and I am thankful. In a strange way, I am thankful for my sleeplessness last night too. It gives me time to think about people and pray for them, and pray for myself. I realized last night that I am really good at knowing that all things work together for the good for everyone else, but when things happen that rile me...

So...God is good.

it it isn't one thing, it's another....

Babies don't wake me up anymore, but now the dogs do. Not always, but lately, Duke has been a Bad Boy. Last night he howled ever few minutes to go out. I finally got up, hitched him to the leash, and took him out and about in the yard. Suri doesn't have to have a leash, she goes naked and behaves herself.

So, Kathryn got home from California in the wee hours of the morning, and of course I stayed up for a few hours hearing all about the Hollywood sign and the sidewalk of stars and Universal Studios and her meeting friends from the west coast, and how difficult it was for the girl who brought them to navigate the traffic, she is a small town girl and Los Angeles is a big city.

So...I finally went to bed. Four hours later, Duke was begging to go out. He yipped and yapped until I got up...I was so tired I could barely see straight. Well, I should have tried to see a bit straighter, maybe I would have seen the pile of poop over by the door instead of stepping right into it. blah. Words can't really describe that sensation, and we won't get into what it smelled like, or what words slipped out of my usually pristine mouth:)

I'll fast-forward through the clean up, but I will mention I need to buy a new rug for over near the door.

When I got Duke hitched to his leash and started opening the door, I realized the reason they barked in the first place was because there were vehicles parked out at the end of the driveway, a few rescue trucks, and there was an ambulance at the house across the street.

Now, I realized that my lovely little nightgown was not going to cut it for that early morning yard walk, not at all. So I got dressed, and took them out. I wasn't able to see too much, and not wanting to be nosey, I didn't cross the road and ask questions. I hope my neighbors are okay.

So...I had to take a shower before I went back to bed, because just yuck. Lots of floor cleaning first....

Back to bed I went. I tried and tried to wind down and fall back to sleep. I thought about my neighbors, I thought about Duke rrr, I tried to think calm peaceful thoughts....and I managed to drift off again for an hour or so.

That means I have been a bit tired all day.

But, I still vacuumed the stairs and the hallway, and the kitchen and living room. I cleaned up the really cool fort I helped the girls make the other day. I had moved one of the couches away from the wall, and made them a cozy little area with blankets draped over a pop-up tent, and over the back of the couch. It was so totally cozy, they slept in there on Friday night.

Anyway. Mirielle came over, we sat in the sun a bit. Evelyn, Suzanne, and Sonja came back from Connecticut. (They were full of fun stories about going out for pizza, getting pulled over (the officer asked for all their licenses, ha, they are 12 and 13 and 14 and 15, with the driver who is like 20.) (they were driving a bit squiggly because they were singing)

We bought 3 dozen corn, and had taco salad with tomatoes and green peppers from the garden. 13 of the kids were here.

I wanted to get outside more than I actually did. This house gets messy so fast. The washer was busy all day long, and there are always dishes to wash. I may not be the queen of housekeeping, not quite anyway, but I do not like dirty dishes in the sink. They must be washed several times a day, or yuck. And, they HAVE to be rinsed when put in the sink, although lots of the older kids will just wash their own dishes after using them. Joseph always does.

Yesterday we went to celebrate Grandma's 85th birthday.

Grandma had lots of her grandchildren there....

Some of my girls missed the party, so we plan to go visit Grandma one day this week.

But tomorrow, it is going to be hot and our pool is simply green. I have given up on it. Paul says he will look at the filter soon, one of these days, but it will be next year before we can swim in it again:( So tomorrow we are going to the church pool to swim, with Susan and her William, and the twins.

The next day there is a birthday party for the little kids to go to (their cousin Danielle is turning 9!).

Then on Thursday, I am working at the baseball game with Mirielle.

Then Friday, camping!!! I have to shop for it, pack for it, plan for it. We are camping on Lake Ontario, and have reserved a site that has electricity, so we can have fans in our tents. If it rains, the kids can watch a movie on their little dvd player. Oh, how times have changed. When I was a kid, raining just meant you got wet.

I hope it doesn't rain though. I want sand and sun and fun in the water with Paul and the kids....

Friday, August 22, 2014

tired me and sad birthdays....

Yes, I stayed up too late. We watched the relatively new Spiderman movie, which I wondered why they bothered to remake a good movie with a good Peter Parker and lovely Mary Jane, but the new version was pretty good. It was Evelyn's birthday, and she picked the movie. When it was over, the girls were putting in another movie, at 12:30 ish....

Anyway, at 6 ish this morning, Duke started barking to go out. I got up fast so he wouldn't wake up the whole house on this dark cozy morning, and let the two of them out. I stayed out there on the deck, and called them back to me when they were done...Suri came, Duke looked me in the eye, not really, but he did seem to consider his options....then took off down the street to visit his girl-dog. rrrr. I should have run after him in my nightie, but I didn't. So here I am waiting for him to get back, feeling like a Bad Dog Owner, a Bad Neighbor, and actually, quite tired. I should have gotten dressed and gone after him, but now, he'll be back any minute...right?

If I get dressed I'll be really wide awake.

And duh, I want to go back to bed.

Paul just left for work. I made him a pot of coffee, because I love him. He thinks I'm crazy, sitting here in the gloom, writing away. :)

Today, I have plans. I have to go somewhere to get something printed, and to get something to bring to Grandma's 85th birthday party tomorrow. I know Evelyn wants me to take her to Target to return the maternity skirt I accidentally bought her, but Target is a dangerous place to bring teenage girls. See, if five or six girls all find one or two or Lord Help Me, three things....even if they're cheap, it adds up somehow to a hundred bucks. The girls say I have a Check-out face. I was never aware of it until they pointed it out, but sure enough, I feel that face coming on when I slide that card.

Anyway. Evelyn's birthday wasn't supposed to be sad. She turned 15. I bought a nice butterfly tablecloth and matching cups. We had heater cake (she wanted it!)(Pepperidge Farms frozen chocolate frosted three layer cake), and the two ice cream pies she made herself. I put out dishes of KitKats, York Peppermints, and miniature Reese's with the dessert. And our dinner was yum: I cut up chicken breast into small chunks, and cooked it up in two frying pans with seasonings. It was interesting that the stuff in the iron skillet browned up so nicely. Anyway, Sonja and I chopped up tomatoes and onions and added olive oil, garlic, and cilantro. We served it with some nice baguettes from Wegmans. We also had sliced cucumbers, and green pepper from the garden.

The sad part? Well, there were ten of us at the table. Ten. I know, that seems like almost a crowd to some people, but for us, for a birthday, it was almost desolate. Only seven of our kids, one cousin, and Mama and Daddy. Nine of our kids not here. Ben and Sam in the Army, a few of the older ones working, then some at a fundraiser...

Evelyn didn't invite any friends over, either. She was back and forth about it, then just didn't do it. Now, before you feel too sorry for her,(:)) she IS going away for the weekend to Connecticut with two sisters, her cousin, and a few older girls from church.

I live a blissful life. I get hugs all day from my little girls, enjoy conversations with my teenagers, and with Mr. Jonathan, who is a ten year old little old man, who quite certainly knows everything. I have a million things to take care of, and am extremely thankful that we can get by without me working.

It isn't all fun and games though. I feel the weight of responsibility so strongly sometimes it might just crush me, to use the time wisely and teach my kids what they need to know in life. And now that I have taken on more to homeschool, I second guess my ability to teach them properly. I wonder if I have taken the plunge for selfish reasons. With the summer winding down, and only three kids heading to school (I haven't sent only three kids since Benjy went to kindergarten, some 20 years ago!), I wonder how long it will take for homeschooling to get old for the kids. Will they resent being home? It goes so against the grain still, yet parents seem so fine and actually happy to send their kids off to perfect strangers when September rolls around. And the bus drivers. Don't even get me started. Just because it is What Kids Do. They go to school. The government says so, the people do it. I just don't buy it that it's the best for all kids, yet I don't feel 100% that keeping them here is absolutely for their best either. So, I made the decision, along with Paul, he doesn't have much faith in our dear government, so school is not so very esteemed by him. We are absolutely not critical of the teachers, no sir, we have been blessed by many excellent ones, who truly care about our children. It's more the blanket policies, the cookie cutter teaching, the one-size-fits all approach, way they dawdle and waste time and feel free to have pajama day to watch movies, yet I am breaking the law by keeping them home when they aren't sick, to watch a movie with ME, perhaps.

Yes, I know I am rambling. Perhaps I should backspace that whole paragraph away, or do some editing.

So I have to call the window company, which I am of course procrastinating. We need to replace a few windows here, a few there, so I have to have all those rooms clean at the same time, so the window people don't think we're slobs. Or rather so they don't find out that we are slobs, it is a big secret, see. Well, "slob" is a horrid word, isn't it? I think I would prefer, "Housekeeping Challenged".

Ah well. I do feel weighed down by responsibilities sometimes. Paul works long hours, he usually doesn't even get to eat dinner with us unless I serve it past 7:30. And he's so tired these days, just from work. He is in a-fib constantly, and it tires him out. (yes, he is seeing a good cardiologist, and yes, he is going to be treated for it, yes he is on medication, hopefully the treatment course will cure him of it). He works very hard, and I do what I can to make sure things are nice for him at home. I have always leaned on him for support, as he's leaned on me. But as he has been so tired lately, I feel like I need to step up and handle more. I also feel helpless sometimes, seeing him put his finger on his neck,feeling that pulse of his just flying, skipping all around. I know, I know, lots of people have a-fib. It isn't a death sentence. He'll be fine. But I am still allowed to feel what I feel. I love him so dearly.

In all this, I know that God is weighing and measuring, and giving us just what we can bear, just right for us. He has works to do in us, and sends all the right trials.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

happy birthday evelyn

Evelyn Joy and me...

Evelyn is 15 years old today. When she was born,

Emily was 14
Abigail was 12
Benjamin was 10
Mirielle was 9
Joseph was 8
Aaron was 6
Mali Rose was 5
Samuel was 4
Margaret was 2
Kathryn was 17 months

Evelyn is my eleventh child, Evelyn -Eleven, ha. (poor Ben, he was only ten years old and the oldest of nine kids). Anyway. Evelyn was born a few weeks after Ben's terrible boat accident, where he fell off and met up with the boat's motor. She was one of my only overdue babies, and it was a hot summer. It was also the summer we took all the kids to a symphony concert in a park, and Margaret dawdled on the way from the playground, stubbornly refusing to come with was about 6 weeks before I had Evelyn...anyway, a sudden summer storm came upon us, cracking and lighting up the sky, wind we tried to herd the children towards the parking lot, we somehow lost Margaret, our two year old. I thought she was right there, she was JUST right there. No, she was not there. We looked and looked, and total strangers helped us look. It was pouring rain, and it was dark, and we simply could not find her. I was getting pretty terrified, Paul was out in the rain looking, I left the other kids with the symphony members, and was out looking too. It turned out that a well-meaning stranger had scooped her up when it started to rain, and brought her to the check-in booth at the park, where the police were informed, and it took a while to put two and two together, and realize we were looking for her. Oh, the days before cell phones. Anyway, it was tremendously terrifying, and I was not appreciative of that stranger at all. I still have my suspicions, I mean, who in the heck scoops up someone's child and brings them somewhere? rrrr. Anyway.

Evelyn was born into a big crazy family, and she was a fusser. She never ever was put down without fussing about it. She had to be held just so, rocked in a specific way, and she had a temper. She was a beautiful baby though.

She is still a force to be reckoned with, my Evelyn. She is extremely capable, and is full of bluster. She has no tolerance for incompetence, and if she's in charge, watch out. But it WILL get done. She seems years beyond 15. She is a book-a-holic. She is probably the library's number one fan. She is always giving me good books to read, but I cannot keep up with her. She loves Suri, our black lab, with all of her heart. She snuggles and mauls that dog!

She made her own ice cream cakes for her birthday. I already gave her some gifts. I bought her two really nice baskets that go with her room, a wood hurricane candle holder thingy, a diffuser that matches her room, some peppermint tea, a nice long skirt that is maternity which I accidentally bought off the clearance rack in Target without looking at it enough which we shall return and get her something else which she is rather happy about, a blue pitcher and four matching canning jar/glasses with lids and straws. Plus, at the thrift store yesterday she found some cool retro jeans, a big floppy sweater, and lace up ankle boots. And, a really nice picture for her room.

Anyway. It isn't much of a birthday, with some of the older kids working at the baseball game, and the three youngest at their friends' house (I have to go pick them up soon). I haven't started dinner because....

Today I took Evelyn and Suzanne and Sonja and cousin Olivia for a little the small store in town, where they got to pick out some candy and nail polish...then out for ice cream.

It is dark and rainy and nice out, very cozy in here. It is too quiet.

I haven't worked out today, and am bound and determined to. So bye for now....

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

early morning quiet....

The teenagers outlasted me last night, starting a movie when I was starting to go to bed. So this morning, they are all sleeping away while I grab a bit of quiet. I would have liked to sleep longer, but the quiet is better than the sleep sometimes. I actually sneaked out to the living room to grab my laptop, but I couldn't sneak past the puppies, no way. I snapped the leash on Duke, and out we went.

So here I am all wide awake. I hear the little girls stirring. Have I mentioned how glad I am that I am home schooling them this year? They have their little desks all set up, and were begging me for an assignment yesterday, so I had them write a list of ten field trips they wanted to go on. Then they wanted to do more, so they each wrote a story based on one of the places they want to go. Camille's story about going to the New York State Fair is so good, she convinced me to take them again this year.

So my 16 year old daughter Kathryn is in California. She was in Disney yesterday, no fair! She seems to be having fun, but we miss her too much! Evelyn 14, Suzanne 13, and Sonja 12 are going on a trip to Connecticut this coming weekend to visit friends, and their cousin Ellen. There is a birthday party for their Grandma this weekend, so they are torn about what to do. Paul and I are letting them choose. Margaret is staying home and going to the birthday, but I think the other three girls are going on the trip.

Last evening, Paul and I and the two little girls went to visit our friend Joe. Joe is older, the same age my parents would be if they were still with us, in his seventies. He lives in a nice little place in town now, after years of living in the big city. He had us over, along with my sister and her husband, for some wine, Greek olives and Feta cheese and hummus...(he is Greek). My two little girls can be rambunctious little rascals, so I told them to get all their fooling around out before we went, then I helped them choose nice fancy outfits to wear, thinking that maybe if they thought it was more formal, they would behave like little ladies. And surprise, they did! It helped that Joe set up a nice little table for them and served them fancy juice in pretty little glasses. They whispered and sipped and played on their tablets and colored pictures in their notebooks, and were sad when it was time to leave.

Today is Wednesday, half-price at the thrift store day. I am taking some of the girls there to scout around. Evelyn Joy turns 15 tomorrow, some of us went out and about yesterday to get her some presents. Gone are the days when I could just grab something from my closet, although I do attempt to stock things there when I find good deals.

Ah well, little girls are up and chatting....

Monday, August 18, 2014

why do I stay up so late into the night?

I am addicted to quiet. I was without it for so many years, it is like yumminess to my ears. Everyone is in bed now, and the house is just filled with that yumminess.

Today turned out to be busy busy busy. I noticed a few of these tiny moths flying in and around one of the kitchen cupboards, and yuck, there were little moth-y things in some of the opened bags of rice and chocolate chips. So...I cleaned out the whole cupboard, threw away everything that was opened, wiped down the shelves...then moved on to the next cupboard, where there was absolutely no evidence of any moth-y things, but I figured I would clean it out anyway. We checked all the other cupboards, and phew, the first one was the only one that was involved. blah and yuck, but at least I have some organized shelves now.

After I finished with that, Mali came over for a visit. We had some garden veggies, some tomatoes on rye bread, and some good conversation. She left, and it was time to make some banana bread. I made some Paleo stuff with blueberries (coconut and almond flour), then some regular stuff. Then it was time to make dinner, for eleven of us (Aaron was here, Sonja was at Grace's) beans from the garden, yellow squash from the garden, some red potatoes cut up and tossed in olive oil and seasoning and baked, sliced tomatoes, from the garden, and burgers.

Paul got home from work at 7:30, so by the time we finished dinner, it was almost 8:30. We don't see much of him. We did make some camping reservations though, we are going camping with just the three youngest kids on Labor Day weekend. Interesting times, I tell you! Char said, "People will think we have only three kids!" I remember going to this very same campgrounds years ago, when Paul had to go into work and I was there all day with the kids by myself....oh, how I counted the hours until he got there.

For all the mopping and wiping and dusting I have done today, one couldn't really tell right now if they walked into my house. I tend to lose steam by evening, and say The Heck With It. Then the next morning, oh there is too much to do.

I will hate myself in the morning if I don't get to bed soon. So goodnight.

jon helps me with the pictures....

Ah, a camping picture, thank you Jonathan! Paul and Abigail....note how wonderful the weather was when we were all packed up to go home.:)


Kim and I and our little treat while shopping and shopping and shopping for the summer conference grill....

home again home again, jiggety jig...

Of course I know that "jiggety" isn't a real word. Or is it?

So I feel sort of like I deserve a big prize for not only surviving another camping trip in tents, but surviving a camping trip in tents in the rain! It didn't start until we got them all set up, but it was cold. Chilly and cold. brrr. I don't get cold too easily, either. Abigail had her winter coat on, and was lamenting that she forgot to bring gloves.

Then the rain started. It was rather funny that we sat there around the campfire with umbrellas. Abigail gets a million points for bringing those umbrellas, by the way. When we climbed into our tents (we had five), our bedding was damp because it was so cold and wet.

I slept in practically all the clothes I brought. I had exercise leggings under my sweatpant capris, which looked lovely with my neon socks and Birkenstocks, so I put my sneakers on. I had a short sleeved shirt, a long sleeved shirt, a jacket, then a huge sweater on. I slept in it all too, except for the sneakers:)

Anyway. Saturday was a tad bit warmer, but still very chilly. We went down to the beach, where Paul and the kids did some fishing off the dock, and some of them took the kayaks out. Then three of my daughters decided to take a swim...not that they had their suits with them or anything. The beach was deserted. The sky was cloudy, but that little lake still called me. I couldn't make it down the steep incline to where they chose to take a dip, so I went back to the campsite for my suit, and went in properly on the public beach:). And yes, it was cold. Way too cold. But oh so refreshing.

Due to technical difficulties, aka I Don't Know What I'm Doing, I can't upload any pictures. Jon will have to help me:)

Anyway, we survived camping. Emily and Abigail and Mali, Margaret, Evelyn, Suzanne, Sonja, Jonathan, Charlotte Claire, and Camille, and cousin Olivia went. Kathryn is out west, she won a trip to Oregon and California for her fundraising efforts. She went with a cousin (Olivia's sister Eileen), and three friends.

Getting home from camping is not my idea of fun. It rained, so all the tents have to be aired out. Our deck is draped with them. There are stacks and piles of bedding and towels and smoky smelling clothes that are waiting for their turn to take a ride in the washer. I could breeze right through it, but then one of the girls will come up and put their own load in.

The house is mostly back to it's regular sparkling self, ha. Only a bag here and a stack there to still put away.

It was a lot of work, but oh the fun we had! When Mali had a tiny salamander, oh so cute, until it scrambled up her sleeve, which sent her into a hopping screaming frenzy, as she ripped off her jacket and shirt, and we laughed out heads off. Emily drove up right at that moment, it was pretty hysterical. We went through the industrial sized bag of Twix bars, plus peanut butter M&M's, and marshmallows, and on Saturday, I kept making pancakes and they kept eating them. We had lots of hot coffee and tea and cocoa, too. Hot dogs roasted over the fire, even in the rain, taste excellent. The kids were commenting on how good they were, I said they were seasoned with Camping.

Emily brought up a variety pack of beer, some summer shandy and some rye, a few other flavors, it was fun to try them.

Sometimes I think that you have to have had sixteen kids, going through year after year of having a nursing baby plus a wandering toddler plus a needy two and a half year old plus a four year old who needs to be accompanied to the bathhouse at extremely frequent intervals, plus a few more older kids who dance around begging to go to the beach or a bike ride or to the absolutely appreciate the peacefulness of going camping with a bunch of kids with the youngest being six years old.:)

Paul and I are thinking of going camping again on Labor Day weekend, as the kids are all going to be at the youth conference. We only have three kids who are under youth age (12). So perhaps we will camp with Jon, Char, and Cam. :) (I just told the little girls, and they are jumping up and down and trying to figure out what we will drive (bring bikes! bring kayaks!)

I am happy today. Happy because it is still summer, and because I am homeschooling five of my kids, and I won't be very sad when school starts. A little sad, because that school bus will take Sonja, Evelyn, and Margaret away each morning. But happy that my younger ones will be here with me.

We have plans. Big plans. Field trips and outings and lots of fun. We want to start school a day early, then take the real local first day of school off, and go somewhere fun. We have some books already, some plans. I have written most of the Plans, which I write rather ambiguously. The girls want a cozy reading area, so that means some new bean bag chairs. They are using their Little Tikes tables for desks, but I am imagining them lounging on the couches with their work, before long.

There are things they must learn to do, lots of math and proper paragraph writing, and science-y stuff...but I think we will learn a lot through life. Making and baking and budgeting money and setting up a fish tank. In Real School, they waste so much time, I don't think it will be too challenging to teach these guys as much or more in less time, leaving more time for fun. Right now, they are setting up and organizing their play kitchen...they seriously never get bored.

Maybe today I will let them bake some real cookies....

It is a chilly morning, overcast and gloomy, my favorite kind of day. I have cleaned up and swept floors and put through some laundry. I have fed the little kids, burned some toast, and talked to the neighbor down the road about bad Duke visiting his girl-dog.

So what's on the agenda? Lots of little things. We are getting rid of our big van, wah and yay. I remember getting that thing, it was almost brand new (one year old), and it was so huge and nice! It fit us all for a while, by the time we outgrew it a few of the older kids started driving. (there are 18 of us, it is a 15 passenger van). Then time went on, and the kids grew older, and more started driving...Ben joined the Army, Emily moved out...then Abigail, now Mirielle and Mali too. Then Aaron. Then Samuel joined the Army. Nine of the kids have drivers' licenses, and Kathryn has her permit. Emily and Abigail and Ben and Mirielle and Aaron and Mali all have their own cars. So we drive the minivan and the truck and the Bravada, which takes a lot of gas, but is very nice and seats five. It is really Sam's from his Grandpa and Grandma, but I don't think it's practical for him to have it in Washington, D.C. with all that traffic....

Anyway. We grew and grew until we barely fit in the big van, then lo and behold, we started going in the other direction. It takes SO much gas, and although there are times it would be really convenient to use it, it isn't worth the expense of insuring it when we rarely use it.

Time marches on. Sometimes I am out and about with just a few kids, maybe a couple of teenagers, and I see these moms with their babies and little ones, and I smile at them, and they look at me and perhaps think that I have NO IDEA how busy they are....

So always be nice to people, you have no idea what they are going through, or have gone through.

Ah well, as much as I am enjoying just sitting here writing, I have to get moving. My conscience is niggling me about things that I should do, like go on my walk and and and.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

taking a breather....

There is chicken in the oven, brown rice on the stove, and a pan of taco meat too. I like to cook the food ahead of time for camping, so we just have to heat it up. Tacos are for tonight's dinner though. The chicken will be sliced and frozen in baggies, so it keeps nice and safe in the cooler. We will heat it up in a big foil pan with the rice and some canned veggies. Plain but nourishing, as my father used to tell my mother, which was so insulting I don't know where to start. Anyway.

I took a quick trip to one town to drop off one daughter who is working the baseball game, then to another town to return some Redbox movies, fill the truck with gas for tomorrow, and buy some ice cream and lunch meat for the weekend. No, the ice cream is for tonight:) See, I have some daughters who are doing a fundraising job this afternoon, even though they are ha, on vacation. So I wanted to make them a nice dinner and get them ice cream....

Only four kids are home right now. The little girls are playing with Sonja's crutches...oh yeah, I forgot to tell that story!

The other night at the conference, I was sitting on the back patio, relaxing with some friends, when my niece came and told me that Sonja was hurt. That she couldn't move. Oh dear. Now, this was a surprise, because I had just gotten out of the shower and my hair was shiny and clean! Anyway. Sonja K. had been on this swing (think May Pole with swings instead of ribbons), and somehow she hit the pole really hard, so hard she blacked out. When she came to, she didn't remember what had happened. She was sitting in a chair about fifty feet from the swing. She had walked there, but when we tried to get her to walk again, she simply couldn't, said it hurt her hip/lower back, too badly. Hmm, with a possible back injury, I didn't want to take the chance of just having her go back to the camper and go to bed, then be paralyzed for life because her mother didn't feel like taking a midnight trip to the hospital. Mirielle was with me, and we agreed she needed to be checked out. So off we went, for a midnight trip to the E.R.

She was fine, thankfully.

We arrived back at the camper at 4 a.m. I was NOT fine:)

One of my girls asked me why I was awake so early the next morning, after getting to bed so late. Duh, I said. It's Childrens' Day, the best day of the year!

So tomorrow morning, off we go to the mountains. Paul and I, and at least ten of the kids. I'm not sure if Mali will join us or not. We are taking the minivan and the truck and Abigail's car, and lots of tents. It is going to be chilly up there, but I am still excited about going. There's something soothing about being up there. It helps that there is no cell phone service, and no electricity. That means 100% full attention to each other while sitting around the campfire.

Now on to more practical matters...does anyone else get like a whole grocery store bag full of garbage when cleaning out their purse? Oh, me neither. My purse is like the family suitcase. Right now it has two Snicker Bars, a plastic container of strawberry Mentos gum, three protein bars, a stick of Starburst, three different kinds of mint gum, several pens, a plastic spoon still in a plastic wrapper, a baggy of almonds, a whole can of almonds, several pens,a package of caps for a cap gun, a hairbrush, some hair elastics, a few bobby pins, a baggy of ibuprofen and acetominophen and Pepto tablets and anti-diarrhea pills, a small first aid kit, a baggy of Girl Things, a baggy of wipes, a container of antibacterial wipes, some napkins and tissues, two pair of sunglasses, my reading glasses, two family pictures, and my phone charger. And yeah, that's AFTER I cleaned it out.

Because, never know.

Does anyone else pack and pack until their brain is numb?

Sometimes I feel like Mrs. Potato Head in, "Toy Story", when she kept putting more stuff into Mr. Potato Head.

Two little Amish girls went missing from a place not far from where we are going camping tomorrow. They were missing for a full 24 hours, and are now home. They were presumed abducted, and it is not clear exactly what happened, but the kidnappers are at still out there, and it is a bit scary, but I am so thankful the girls are back home.

I am tired, and we have to get going early, so I am done here. I will be back on Monday!!!!

don't worry, I didn't up and die....

You'll know when I kick the bucket, buy the farm, start pushing up daisies. I told my sister my password so she can write something sad and nice about me, at least it had better be nice, although at that point, I won't care. And don't worry, I don't actually think I'm dying, although I do admit to worrying about every little skipped heartbeat, and there are nights when I am almost certain This Is It, yet I manage to fall asleep and wake up in the morning, still alive.

Anyway. I have been busy, and I won't bore you with the details. Here is a random rundown of my crazy life this past week...

I have several photos I would like to put on here but there seems to be a glitch in the matrix, so no pictures today.

So...grill shopping. Hours and hours, seven different stores to get the best deals on stuff. Two full days of shopping. I also had to shop, cook, pack for our own family's Summer Conference...

What is Summer Conference, you ask? (you can always look on the website and check it out). Or, I'll explain it...the church we go to is actually the central location, or conference center, for several churches, who all get together several times a year, for conferences. This past week, there were over 800 people at our church, in dorms and cabins and campers. We ran our candy store and made pizzas, served chicken and burgers, fries and salt potatoes. The money goes right back to the church:)

Childrens' Day is a sight to behold. Pony rides and waterslides, the pools open, face painting, cookie decorating, air-soft wars, roller hockey, and tons of crafts to choose from. Our little girls made the most adorable tutus!

There are meetings and this year, it was our church's turn to put on the play, which was Emily's baby. She wrote and directed, but of she couldn't have done it without the talent and co-operation of her siblings and friends. It was a whole-church effort, and was extremely encouraging and entertaining. It was about the apostles, and how they were faithful to God. Paul was tired of kicking against the goads, whatever "goads" are, but he was hearing God speak to him, and resisting. Even though he was a terrible man, hunting down the Christians and turning them into prison and sometimes death, he was forgiven, and God did amazing things in him.

It doesn't matter what we have done up to this point. God can turn our lives around, if we give ourselves to Him, and like Paul, say, "Lord, what do you want me to do?"

People have this strange understanding that we cannot get victory over sin. They think that we are sinners, and can be forgiven, end of story. This totally negates all that Jesus did for us! He opened a way through the flesh, a way out of being bound to sin. Why did He say to, "go and sin no more", if we are meant to just keep sinning and asking for forgiveness?

We are meant to live an overcoming life! To be done with anger and bitterness and judging others! It isn't a life full of rules, but a life full of mercy and goodness and freedom!

Anyway, enough preaching for today. (But seriously, look at all the problems in the world today and tell me it's not because of sin. If every single person in the world chose to bless instead of curse, forgive, keep themselves pure outside of marriage, tell the truth, ect., what would the world be like?) (Being at Summer Conference with hundreds of people who chose to live for God is a bit like heaven on earth:))

Anyway. Summer Conference is over, and our camping vacation was supposed to begin...but. It is cold here in New York state! In the Adirondack mountains, brrrr! 49 degrees at night, and rainy. That's no weather for tenting with kids!

So here we are at home, doing laundry and recovering from the conference, and deciding whether to go up there for the weekend and freeze,'s nice in the mountains, and this is the only time we can all go. Emily, and Abigail, and Mali, and all the rest of us. :)

We do have coffee and tea and cocoa and marshmallows, after all.

And, later I will write more...have to go.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

here's the thing....

I shouldn't be sitting here. But I'm so tired! I stayed up half the night with Mirielle, then read for a few hours. It was close to 5 am, and I was drifting off to sleep. I woke up at 8:50, and had to get moving! I have so much to do today. Problem is I can't think straight. When I'm tired, I keep going from thing to thing, forgetting from one minute to the next what the heck I was just doing. Now if you know me In Real Life, perhaps this is not a big surprise, since I am always scatterbrained at best. But being tired magnifies it.

We are moving out to our camper today for our church Summer Conference. Over 800 people will be there by Saturday....

Since I am feeling random and disjointed, here are some facts about today, my life, our church, and the conference....

1. The families in our church generally have lots of children. Children are revered, respected, cherished, and loved.

2. Kim and I bought hundreds of dollars worth of stuff for the candy store and grill that we run during the conference, yesterday. We shopped all the live long day. Tomorrow, we finish up.

3. The girls are excited to go out to the camper, so they are bugging me:)

4. Paul is coming home from Louisiana tonight.

5. Our church conference is attended by those of here in our local church, plus the fellowships from Canada, Ohio, Delaware, Connecticut, ect., plus some friends come from Europe and the west coast.

6. I love working at the candy store because...I love the kids! They get a chance to buy stuff with their own money, do their own transactions, and I get to see them year after year, growing up too fast.

7. Tomorrow, Kim and I have to buy all the fresh stuff for the grill....and stuff for pizzas. The minivan will be bottoming out again, and we will be tired, but if our shopping expedition is anything like the one yesterday, there WILL be laughs, and there will be fun, there will be coffee, and cream.

8. It is our turn, (our local church) to do the annual play. Emily wrote the play, and is directing it, and it is fantastic. I went to rehearsal yesterday evening, and was blown away. Abigail helps back stage, Mirielle sings in it, Joseph has a few parts, Margaret and Kathryn and Suze and Sonja and Evelyn sing in it, plus have a few parts, as do Jon, Char, and Cam. It is amazing to see young and old come together and work on this, and the result is extremely encouraging....

9. It's typical for me to sit here and write about all I have to do instead of actually just doing it. But don't worry, once I get back up and get moving again, I will be busy for hours.

10. Why did I stay up so late last night?

Oh dang, these little girls keep asking me when we are going, so I will sign off for now....remember, life is short and God is good. There is no such thing as being too forgiving, or too kind.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

beautiful daughters of mine....

Even if I didn't have sixteen beautiful children, even if I only had these five girls, I would be blessed. Wait, that doesn't sound very nice, scratch it. Restart: I have these five beautiful daughters....Margaret Cheryl 17, Kathryn Grace 16, Evelyn Joy(15 in a few weeks), Suzanne Eleanor 13, and Sonja Kathleen 12.

Even when they're making faces, they are lovely.

Then of course I have little 8 year old Charlotte Claire....

And six year old Camille Anaya, who is wise enough to know how to stop and smell the roses.

Of course I have my oldest daughter Emily Anne, 29....

And then there's Abigail Marie, 27....

Mirielle Joy, 24........And Mali Rose, 20...

And then there are the five boys.... Aaron Royce, 21, Samuel James, 19, Benjamin Paul 25, Joseph Michael, 23, and little Jonathan Robert, 10.

Then there is my daughter-in-law Ashley, and my granddaughter Anya...

Today, I have been thinking about thankfulness. It's easy to be thankful on a sunny day when none of the kids are smacking each other and the house is relatively in order. But when things don't go my way, when my job seems really thankless, when things I work hard at are criticized...oh dear, then it becomes challenging. But God knows exactly what I need! If I truly believe this, then I can be thankful no matter what. It doesn't always feel good to go through the fire, it isn't always easy to humble myself, but when I say, "Let Your will be done.", then I come to a peace that surpasses all else.

Today, I am thankful for my older kids have lots of freedom. Some of them like to say bad words, a few of them are really outspoken, and some are blatantly honest with me about how I act, and if I so much as start to complain, will say, "Mom, don't start." (I HATE to hear this, has really really helped me, because hey, I don't WANT to "start".) Anyway. I don't always have warm fuzzy feelings for my kids, these kids with minds of their own, but I love them, they truly light up my life. They help me see myself, they keep things in perspective, they keep me young.

I am also thankful for Paul. I miss him when he's away, no matter how much I like stretching out by myself in that king sized bed reading well into the night.:)

I am thankful for summer nights with the crickets singing their evening songs, and the starry skies, but not for the mosquitoes. I am thankful for the blissful days, the pool even though it's green, for our big yard with lots of trees and no landscaping, for our garden which gives us yummy things despite the weeds that thrive there.

I am thankful for my mother-in-law. She gets more precious to me as the years go by. She is a strong and outspoken lady, but she is kind and generous, and she is extremely funny. She has more energy in her baby finger than I have in my whole body, and she is almost 85 years old.

I am thankful for my friends. Have you ever realized something about yourself and wondered how your friends have put up with you without ever pointing it out? Like how perhaps you go on and on, boring people to death with the minor details...or how maybe you always have to correct them, or be right, or argue each point, or have the last word?

Anyway, I am thankful for so many things.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

stormy afternoon....

As I sit here in the gloom, thunder cracking in the distance, I am thankful.

Yesterday, Paul and I played Make Pretend We Are A Family With Two Kids. With all the older kids at play practice, and working as nurses, and in the Army, we ended up with only the princesses. First, we did practical things, like load the truck up with garbage to take to the dump. While he was there with the girls, I washed dishes and swept floors and made bacon and eggs, and cut up veggies. After breakfast, Paul suggested a trip to the beach. Oh simplicity! Seriously, compared to Back In The Day, when I had nursing babies and toddlers and just plain lots of kids, going to the beach was a huge endeavor. A playpen, at least one pram, (you know, one for the baby, one for the toddler...the double ones never pushed as well on the sand) The food and bottles and swim diapers and and and. Anyway. Yesterday, we were ready in a few minutes flat. The princesses can put on their suits, pack an outfit and a towel in their own little backpacks, while I pack a quick snack in one little we went.

We walked out on the pier and watched the boats go by, we sat in the sand and played in the water. We sat in the shade of a big maple tree while the girls ran and played on the playground, we sat there and just looked at each other. We watched other parents chase toddlers, and yell at their kids. Not all of them, of course. There was one young dad there who looked, no offense, like an unlikely candidate for Father Of The Year, with his tatoos and those big earrings that make the giant holes in the ear lobes. But he was amazing with those kids, which just goes to show it ain't what's on the outside that counts.

Anyway. Then we went to the cemetery to visit Robert's grave. I wish I had gotten a picture of Camille. She sat right down and planted herself right on that grave. She traced his name with her fingers, and sat there talking to herself, or to him, I don't know. Taking a picture of her there almost seemed too intrusive.

Both girls really like walking along and reading the names on the tombstones and asking a million questions, and speculating between them how the people died.

Next stop for a coffee for Paul and I to share. Then to the ice cream place. Then to visit Grandma for a bit. Then, home....

Home. It was after seven, and all my play practice kids were home, plus four friends. And, they were hungry. Oh dear. I was a bit tired, not thinking I was going home to make a huge dinner for like...I don't know, a lot of people. I started rummaging through the fridge, through the cupboards, racking my brain....I decided on taco salad, because we have peppers and tomatoes in the garden, and there was lots of burger in the freezer. Problem: no salsa. Solution: Margaret made some yummy stuff from the garden tomatoes and olive oil, cilantro, and chopped onions. We also had very little sour cream, and no olives, but hey, it was good anyway. I never ate any last night, because I decided to bake cookies too, a triple batch of chocolate chip. By the time I was finished, it was 9:30, much too late for dinner. So I broke off a few pieces of cookie to add to the three hunks of cookie dough I had eaten, and called it a night for eating. I had made a plate, but put it in the fridge, and ate it today. It WAS good, Margaret's salsa was superb.

This morning, the kids all went to play practice again, leaving Paul and I with our little family of just Miss Char and Miss Cam. We had to hurry out the door to get Paul to the airport, he is in Louisiana for the week. We dropped him off, me sniffing a bit, dang I hate saying goodbye to him. We went to the dollar store because I broke my sunglasses yesterday. Yeah, that's where I get them. In my old age, I cannot drive without them, but it's useless to buy good ones, the way I lose them and sit on them and snap the arms off accidentally. Anyway. We bought lots of Ghiardelli chocolates and Lindt truffles and some peanut butter filled pretzels for Abigail, and some Buffalo sourdough pretzel bites and new leashes for the girls' pet stuffed tigers.

Grocery store....since I only had the two girls, I was giving them plenty of attention, and let me tell you, they just thrived. They gushed about how much fun they were having, and Camille said none too quietly, "I bet Satan is just so mad that we are being so good!" Oh dear. Most people don't walk around talking about Satan:) But I bet he was mad, we were so happy and thankful....

We got home and had to haul all the groceries in by ourselves.

Samuel called me again. He is such a funny kid. He is bound and determined to be a good boy, and you know being out in this world, there are many temptations. It is comforting to me that he chooses to answer to God, and wants to please Him. Anyway, he told me that quite a few sergeants/officers have told him he will probably be chosen by Echo Company. It is the company which gets first choice of the new soldiers there, because they guard the president and do White House detail. I told him I am so proud of him, and reminded him to stand up straight and tall, which is something I tell all of my kids:)

As life marches on, I find myself getting more sentimental and just plain feeling...old. After we dropped Paul off at the airport, I asked the little girls if they wanted to see the house Mama grew up in. I showed them the newer houses that weren't there when I was little, those were the woods and fields I played in. I showed them the creek that Casey and I spent so much time playing in and next to. When we drove down that little street I grew up on, the memories of the bus stop, of Kelly who loved playing with frogs, of vacation bible school in the yard of the brown house, roller skating and playing huge games of neighborhood jump rope and kickball. There were no kids riding around the blocks on their bikes today, where were they? My brothers used to alter their bikes so they had huge forks and sissy bars. We used to play hide-and-seek until it got dark, in the whole neighborhood! We didn't call friends to see if they could play, we simply went outside and found our friends. No cell phones, no texting.

Anyway, I feel like a walking cliche', the way the years roll back in my mind, and all those big houses look so little now, how simple life was, and how free it seems we were as kids. We drove over to my old elementary school and the field behind it shrunk, the trees cut down, one can see the businesses and traffic from the playground. It seemed to be a peaceful place when I was little, now it is like a splotch of green plunked down in the middle of suburbia.

There are more lanes of traffic on Main Street, the little stores gobbled up by convenience stores, the post office closed, the old Victorian house library replaced by a big new ugly one. The ice cream place is still there, with it's giant fake ice cream cone on the roof, but it is looking sad, and it's days are probably numbered.

Time just goes by, and when I think about all the people on my street, I realize most of them are dead and gone, the old neighbors.

I don't know what I expected, driving through the old neighborhood. Pintos and stationwagons and kids with transistor radios hanging from their banana seat bikes wearing cut off jean shorts and polyester shirts and mood rings?

But I am thankful for life, thankful for these last two little children of mine, who along with Jonathan, are the only ones still really children. They light up my life.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

yet another beautiful saturday...

The sun is shining and it is very warm and humid. July is all gone, summer is slipping away too fast. The house is quiet this morning because most of the kids are involved in a huge church play that will be performed during our fellowship week next week. Charlotte Claire and Camille are here, Paul is here. So it is quiet.

I was tempted to feel quite grumpy this morning a few times. I woke up at 6:30 when someone came to pick up Joseph for early morning filming of one of the scenes, then I must have rolled onto my back, because I woke up to Paul nudging me...shh, I snore. I somehow fall back to sleep again, then woke to Jonny nudging me, asking me for money for lunch today, which I had promised and forgotten to give. It was only 8:30, so I actually drifted off again...then the dogs started barking at who knows what. Oh well. Sleep is over rated. No, it isn't. It is delicious. That doesn't mean I have to be grumpy though. It could be worse.

Today my eighth child is 19 years old, Mr. Sammy. Or should I say, Private Sammy. He is far away from home, and I couldn't send him anything because he doesn't have a mail-receiving address yet. Oh, he's a big boy, he'll be fine. He seems quite happy down there on his base, actually. I miss him though. He's one of those kids who is just nice to have around.

I miss my son Benjamin too. I really hope he moves back here after the Army. How do grandparents survive when their grandchildren are so far away? I was not prepared for how much Anya stole my heart, and I simply miss her. I don't want to her to grow up as a long distance relative, who visits once a year and thinks we're all crazy. I don't want her to miss out on all the love we all have to share with her. Ben gets out of the Army in the fall, but is considering relocating elsewhere. They are all grown up and get to decide where they want to be, and I am supposed to be all grown up too, but wah! I want to cry like a baby!

The princesses are eating breakfast all by themselves at the kitchen table, and I feel guilty, so off I go...:)

Friday, August 1, 2014

proud army mom

Samuel and Benjamin...

Benjamin is 25, Samuel is 18, tomorrow he will be 19. (Happy Birthday, Sam!)

Ben is stationed in Washington state, and will be done with the Army in the fall.

Sam is just starting out in the Army. He is in Arlington Va./Wash. D.C., and called me yesterday. He said he went up on the hill at the base the other night, he had clean-up duty after a re-enactment. He said the view of the capitol and the monument all lit up at night was incredible. He can see Arlington National Cemetery from his barracks. He is an extreme history buff, so this is just his thing. He hasn't started his Old Guard training yet, he is still in seminars and classes. He has been reminded that he is first infantry, and their first priority is to protect the base and the capital. So he feels pretty good about where he is. He was issued his shiny shoes with the clicky things, the metal plates. (watch a you-tube video of the Tomb Of The Unknown Soldier. When they click their heels together...) Sam says when several of the soldiers march together with those shoes on, it gives goosebumps.

Anyway, he is happy and excited to be where he is, although he knows it will be really hard to pass all the tests, and the level of discipline is incredible.

So what else is going on? Not much. Library yesterday, then Walmart. I needed pool shock, and I couldn't very well not buy a stack of 17 cent spiral notebooks. And the watermelon looked good, and a few cantaloupe, and a bag of cherries. $80 later, I had my pool shock. oops.

Mirielle came over again last night, and once again I stayed up way way too late, but I must say: it is worth it.

Yesterday I had fun with my new vacuum cleaner. I vacuumed for over an hour. It's one thing I actually like to do.

Time to get up and get moving again. There are two cousins here today, and most of my kids are home. Some are sitting out on the deck, perhaps I will join them. Poor me, eh?