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

Sunday, November 30, 2014

accident after effects....

I'd like to say that life just went on like normal, ha, whatever "normal" is when you have a family like this....but anyway, life hasn't really been normal.

But it hasn't been bad, either. There has been suffering, for sure. First and foremost, is the guilt of the driver. She did not see the other car as she made a left turn at a green light. It was two lanes each way, the other lane was clear, and the car in front of her was turning. She followed it, thinking the coast was clear...the vehicle my girls collided with was black, and she just didn't see it. So it was her fault. And that hurts her. The "what ifs" came up a few times, and honestly, this young driver of mine feels done with driving. (I have assured her that no one here blames her. Yes, she got a ticket, she has to go to court, it will all work out, take life one day at a time, don't worry about it, it won't help.)

Evelyn says she is never getting in a car again.

Kathryn has had a headache and can't sleep.

Suzanne...well, poor Suze. Her face is a mess, and for a 13 year old girl, that alone is traumatic. It will probably heal without scarring if she keeps the ointment on it and doesn't pick at it. It looks better all ready, but at first, oh my goodness. It was swollen and red and scraped and bruised. Her nose looks like Rudolph, Camille told her, but, Cam assured her, Rudolph is very cute.

But suffering isn't necessarily a bad thing. Obviously, learning from our mistakes is good, but it can go deeper. My young driver asked, "Why does God allow these things to happen? I was being careful!" Emily assured her that it doesn't matter, just be humble. I think these things happen to give us a respect for life, and to know our mortality. It gave me a huge boost of affection for my girls...I mean, you KNOW you love your kids, but do you tell them? Do you really consciously appreciate them?

It's funny, because these days, these very daughters of mine are probably the primary source of my irritation (I know, I get irritated because of ME, but you know what I mean. They can seriously test my patience, all these teenage girls!) Yet, they have my heart. I love them unbelievably much.

So our weekend has been different, strange, with them recounting and remembering. The driver is putting the pieces together, she had some big memory gaps, probably because of mild shock. She remembers seeing Suzanne slumped over, so Suze was probably knocked out. Evelyn admits it was a little bit fun to run into the fabric store shouting about the crash from 30 feet away. Kathryn said she knew Evelyn was going to do that, so she tried to tell me first, so they were both yelling stuff about it. Sonja gets the calm cool collected award.

And, it comes out that Kathryn was absolutely terrified when Suzanne didn't know where she was or how she got there...Kathryn thought her best friend Suze was going to stay like that. It's funny now, but to her, it wasn't very funny then.

And, while I was heading to the hospital in the ambulance with Suzanne, the girls were treated so kindly by the pizza place workers, being welcomed there to wait for Paul, and offering them food, and bringing them water. That warmed my heart, there are kind people in this world.

Also, when something like this happens, it gives me such a great appreciation for the volunteer firefighters and first responders. Everyone there was efficient and caring. Ha, one of the teachers from the middle school was there, all dressed in a fireman costume...the girls were all crying and shaking, and he was so nice to them.

And so last night I made some pizzas, Paul took Suzanne to town (she stayed in the car) to get a movie, and went in the store and got her Mountain Dew. Emily and Abigail and Aaron came over, and we watched, "Malificent", which was quite entertaining.

I was glad to see the girls open up and talk about it, and honestly...I think it strengthened the bonds between them. When you have so many daughters, they can get clique-y, Suzanne and Kathryn are extremely tight. So close, in fact, that Suze wanted Kathryn in the ambulance instead of me, which, ouch.

And now we are leaving for church...the girls are staying here though. Suze isn't ready to face the world, and the other girls are bruised and banged up a bit, sore...and just don't want to talk to everyone yet, they say.

Friday, November 28, 2014

and once again, you never know when you are going to end up in the emergency room....

Let me just say, first of all, that every one is all right. But what a day. Oh dear. These five girls wanted to go out and about, Black Friday Shopping. I vetoed leaving before dawn, but finally gave in and took them in the early afternoon. We went to Target and got a few things for our Secret Santas, then to Kohls...then they started rumbling about being hungry. I wanted to go to the fabric store and get some 70% off fabric...and I knew they would be bored silly in there and ask me if I was almost done a few hundred times, or start fooling around in I suggested they drop me off there and go to the mall right across the road and get a snack at the food court. Oh joy, they didn't mind doing that at all....I gave them a twenty dollar bill, and blissfully walked into the fabric of the only places I love going to all by my lonesome.

I picked out some of this and a little bit of that, and stood there waiting for my turn at the cutting table...when Evelyn and Kathryn came storming into the store shouting about an accident, a car crash....they were extremely loud and upset, so I left my cart there and left the store with them. Right on the highway near the store....there was our little Nissan, all smashed up, I kept asking if everyone was okay and they kept saying yeah, they thought so...then I saw Suzanne. Her face, it was all bloody, and she was in total shock. Her glasses were gone, and she looked like a zombie. Blood was streaming from her nose, and her face was all scraped up. I screamed for someone to call 911, and the lady in the car behind them shouted that she just did....

Let me say again that they are all okay. But at that moment, I did not know that. They were hit so hard that little car was dragged at least 300 feet from the intersection. The fire truck came, and then the ambulance, and the police. Questions and questions, and they were evaluating Suzanne....she had no idea where she was or how she got there, so they strapped her to the board and put her in the ambulance. I went with her. She is 13 years old. I had to go with her. The other girls were in varying degrees of hysterics. I'm sure their lives had flashed before their eyes, and seeing their sister all bloody was traumatic. I was torn, of course I had to go with Suze, but all of my Mom senses were screaming at me to comfort the other girls...Evelyn had called Paul, he was on his way, but we don't exactly live right next store to the mall, so it was going to be a while.

The police were still there, and the pizza shop man said they could wait in there. So off I went with Suze in the back of the ambulance, leaving half of my heart there with the other sobbing girls. If you think perhaps I over exaggerate this....nope.

Suzanne was in shock, she couldn't remember anything. She was trembling and shaking and crying for Kathryn. She kept asking if Kathryn was okay, and then saying she just woke up and thought she was having a bad dream, but could not remember going shopping at all.

Anyway...Emily was working at the hospital we went to, so she came down to visit us in the Emergency Room. Long story short: no broken bones, no stitches needed....the doctors told Suze she was a lucky girl, one of them whispered, "blessed girl". Her nose is very bruised and scraped...her face is scraped raw, and her neck is all raw from contact with the airbag.

But she walked out of there, and we are thankful. The car is gone, probably, but the girls are okay.

My feelings right now: the knowledge in the forefront of my consciousness that life is fragile. That others go through days like today and are not as fortunate. I am thankful my girls are okay. I love them to pieces, they are my life.

Our shopping loot is still in the car, we will go pick it up on Monday. It doesn't seem very important. Suzanne's glasses are somewhere, broken probably.

But we are home, and we are okay. And, we are thankful....


Thursday, November 27, 2014

happy thanksgiving!!!

Yesterday was Pie Day.

We made coconut cream, chocolate, pecan, pumpkin, apple, and lemon meringue.

Cam and Char made pumpkin pies with Margaret.

Jonathan made his own coconut cream pie, from scratch.

Joseph and Kathryn....

Ben, Mali, Sam won't be here today. Aaron will stop in before his night shift at the hospital. The other 12 are here already. There are 13 of us here in the living room right now, plus of course the two puppies and the two kitties. Paul has his guitar out, and the football game is on, muted so we can talk.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!!!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

yeah, just a little teeny tiny post....

This morning, I got up and got moving. You know, sweeping and doing dishes, feeding the puppies and letting them out. Scooping up the kitty kitten and hearing her purr under my chin, she being as glad to see me as I am to see her...I wrote out homework assignments, and brushed my tangly hair. We were in the car by 9:00 am to go to the library! First, however, I had to stop by the high school to drop off Margaret's project which she forgot to bring in.

I dropped kids off there, and headed over to the grocery store for some important things like fresh spinach, pretzels, grapefruit, dog food, kitty food, and kitten litter. I picked them back up, but they didn't want to go home yet, please Mom, let's go to Target. Okay, I guess so. I bought a few Christmas presents, some stocking stuffers, and we were on our way...almost. McDonalds, please, Mom, we're starving. They have no idea what STARVING is, but I gave in. I only had some coffee and four chicken nuggets. I have a love/hate relationship with that "food". It IS crap, no doubt about it. Salty fatty garbage. But it tastes so good....

Anyway, they each chose one thing from the dollar menu, plus they had a few nuggets, and one large fries for the whole vehicle, of which I only ate two.

Then...home. Ah, home. We put away the groceries, discussed schoolwork, and I put my feet up for a few minutes...then I headed over to school to pick up Sonja K., who was babysitting for my niece's twins and kindergartner with Suzanne while we went to work at the college basketball game. Home again for a few minutes...then over to drop them off at Susan's house, pick up Susan, and home again, to pick up Joseph, Kathryn, and Margaret, and on to the basketball game....

The game wasn't bad. At the end, we sometimes pack up the food and it is taken to the Rescue Mission for the homeless people. But some nights, it just gets thrown away. We aren't allowed to take it out of the Dome, it goes in the garbage. So...I put two pretzels in my purse to bring to the little kids...but we gave them to a homeless man pushing a shopping cart down the road. He seemed very grateful.

He wished us a Happy Holiday, and my niece said, "Happy Thanksgiving!", then clapped her hand over her mouth...that man doesn't have much of a chance of a happy Thanksgiving. The sad part is that he seemed mentally challenged, and it isn't fair that he fell through the cracks somehow and ended up out on a cold night, pushing a grocery cart with all his worldly goods in it.

I'm glad I broke the rules and those pretzels will fill his tummy instead of being at the bottom of the trash bag with the rest of the leftovers.

I am home now, obviously, and the house is quiet. Tomorrow is Pie Day, and Mali is coming over. We are having hummus and tortilla chips and queso cheese sauce and veggies, and some other snacks. Mali is a vegetarian, and since she can't be here on Thanksgiving because she's a nurse who doesn't have it off, I wanted to get her some things she would eat and enjoy.

And, we will be making pies.

Black Friday: I don't think I'll go out this year. I have already bought some stuff online, and there isn't that much I would want to go out into the crowds to buy. Years ago, I would look at all the ads, go into the 24 hour Walmart at like 4 a.m., fill the cart with stuff that I would price match from Toys R Us, and RiteAid and Walgreens. Then when Walmart's sale started, I would just send Abigail over to grab stuff while I waited with the cart. It seemed worth it, but the crowds have gotten bigger, and people seem pushier, although I honestly have had mostly good experiences with people on Black Friday trips.

I had an interesting experience this fine morning. I got up and was doing things, and Margaret was getting ready for school. She was just being herself, but I felt she was a bit rude. I was yakking about this weird dream I had (I dreamed that Emily bought us a huge amazing house, each room more spacious and lovely than the last, but the town it was in was so strange....there was a huge megaphone/sound system that played intermittent reminders for all sorts of things,it was like living in a vast airport (do not leave luggage unattended!), but it was mixed in with advertisements, like a really loud radio one couldn't change the channel of. In the dream, no one else minded this sound system. I was livid about it! I went to the town board and requested a meeting about it, and they just brushed me off and said there was no town meeting until at least next March, besides, everyone likes the megaphone!) (Why I have such weird dreams is beyond me) Anyway, I was telling Margaret about this dream, and she was basically ignoring me (but I do think I might be a tiny bit responsible for her forgetting her project)...and....and I felt like an idiot. I felt bad. Then Evelyn got up, and said something to me that I didn't appreciate....and oh, the thoughts that came flooding in! I am just sick and tired of being nice to everyone just so they can be mean to me! Done! No more!

Then Margaret texted and asked me to please bring her project in, she forgot it. And then I had this huge revelation! If I had been awake each and every time I had gotten offended at the way someone was toward me, and said NO to my own sin, and had overcome in each of those situations, then it wouldn't have snowballed into me feeling so hugely wronged! And surprise surprise, when she texted and I was tempted to say Too Bad Baby, guess what I heard clearly? not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good....(romans 12:21) Oh what a perfect opportunity to just bless and be good and forgive and forget!!!

But, I decided to talk to a few particular daughters of mine too, because they need to be more respectful, regardless.:)

Oh I do go is very very late, and I am very very tired...

Monday, November 24, 2014

cookies and fudge!

My life seems to revolve around food sometimes, and this time of year it is especially bad. Today, for example...I helped in the kitchen at church....we had a turkey dinner. I made the gravy and sliced the turkey and tossed the cubed sweet potatoes in olive oil,salt and pepper, and roasted them. Emily did the shopping and planning, I just helped out. She made the stuffing and engineered the mashed red potatoes, but Sonja and Irene did the manual labor. After all, mashed 'tatoes for 90 people is hard work. There were rolls (no, I didn't.) I had a heaping plate of green beans with almonds, lots of the sweet potatoes, and turkey.

Dessert: Evelyn made dessert shooters, which is basically when you layer stuff in clear plastic cups:) She made crust with crushed pretzels, melted butter, and brown sugar...then layered it with chocolate pudding and whipped cream. I had only a spoonful, and yum. I did however had a piece of pumpkin pie, but left the crust on the plate, yup, I wasted food, shh.

Anyway, I came home this afternoon and made a triple batch of chocolate chip cookies. Between taking them out of the oven and putting more in, I cut up the five pound pan of fudge I made yesterday. I packed up a nice box of goodies for Samuel, as he has to stay there on the Army base for Thanksgiving. I will send out the box in the morning, and hope he gets it in time....

And I was able to taste only a tiny bit of dough, yay me, but then the cookies...oh they came out so yum. I had a piece of one and another and another, probably like three cookies all together, dang it. I do make good cookies though.

Aaron came over for a visit this evening, and had a few....I can't explain fully how glad I am when I have something yummy like freshly baked cookies when one of the kids drops by.

Paul is home. He is so exhausted, jet-lagged. He will be feeling like himself by probably Wednesday or Thursday, and is leaving again....on Saturday, I think. I will be leaving the following Saturday, so he will get home before I get home....

My head is spinning with thoughts, Christmas gifts and traveling details and Thanksgiving ingredients, plus things like vehicles that need inspections and kittens that need to go to the vet and a certain dog who needs his nails trimmed...exercise I need to do, and walks I need to take, cupboards I need to organize. Fabric I have to buy so that gifts I can make, and decorations I have to get out, so the house I can make cozy. Cleaning I have to do, and a new garbage can I have to shop for, and dentist appointments I have to take kids to. Two girls need talking to because of the way they talked to one of their sisters, and school work needs to be seen to, and and and and and....oh, and Sam wants me to send him a hard drive from an x-box 360. I can't forget that. Bills and appointments and projects swirl around me like a dark cloud....

Procrastinators suffer. The non-procrastinators...we shall call them heretofor: smug people. The smug people ask why we put things off. Why not just Do It. Why not? Now, if I knew the answer to that, I would also be a smug people, not a procrastinator! jeepers.

I think it's because when you put things off because you just don't want to deal with it, because you hate making phone calls or you just plain have a little more time before something HAS to be done....and when you finally do it, you feel like you have really accomplished something! A little party, please! I finally made that appointment!

Not that anyone really likes being a procrastinator. No sir, it is just how some of us are. And tomorrow is as good a day as any.

Rambling is what I do shows how tired I am. The whole family is all snuggled into their beds, I am up with kitty kitten. She is finished attacking my feet, and is looking up at me...purring. I think she is looking for a nice spot to take a kitty nap.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

a dark cold day with no power....

Oh the plans I had for today! I won't bore you with the details, but...the power went out. No power, no water. So no washing dishes or doing laundry. No shower. No coffee. Thankfully Evelyn had made some, but only a little.

Abigail picked up the little ones and headed to a birthday party for their cousin William, but the rest of us congregated in the living room and discussed our options. We could go into town for coffee, or we could stay home and think about coffee. We got our coats on.

And...when we got home with our coffee, the power was back on. Phew. Pioneers we aren't.

I have a roast in the oven, and Evelyn is putting in some sweet potatoes. It smells yummy in here. Some of the older kids are heading to the Dome for an ice hockey game, I am not working at this one because...Paul is coming home tonight! I have missed him so much. I must say though, the nice thing about him going away for so long so often is....the anticipation of him coming home again...!

Evelyn and I wrapped Christmas presents today! Now, before you go getting all impressed, let me just say this: I only have stuff for the littler ones who are extremely easy to buy for. I have been putting gifts in the back of the lovely Big Van, which hasn't been driven in a year yet is still parked in the driveway. Char asked why there are Target bags in there. I told her not to peek, Santa is hiding presents in there. Now I wasn't born yesterday and I know that telling a child not to peek is pretty much like telling them they absolutely should peek at their earliest opportunity.

I have nothing yet for Emily, Abigail, Benjamin - Ashley - Anya, Mirielle, Joseph, Aaron, Mali, Samuel, Margaret, thing for Evelyn, nothing for Suzanne, Sonja....just things for the three youngest, and one thing for Kap and Karl (Kathryn and Suzanne) to share.

Oh, and I got something for Paul.

But I still feel accomplished that we wrapped presents before Thanksgiving.

Samuel cannot come home for Thanksgiving or Christmas this year. I am sad about that, but I am also so excited about the holidays! Thanksgiving...Aaron and Mali have to work, and with Ben out west and Sam in Washington D.C., 12 of the kids will be here. We are keeping it simple...turkey and gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, squash, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, and green beans. Pies: 2 pumpkin, 2 apple, 1 banana cream, 1 coconut cream, 2 chocolate, 1 lemon meringue, and one pecan. (my mother-in-law sent me pecans from Georgia, so I thought I would surprise Mirielle with a pecan pie, but Sonja told her about the pecans that came in the mail)

I want to decorate for Christmas, but we will wait until after Thanksgiving.

We have had a frozen week. There is snow on the ground, and it looks Christmas-y. There is ice on the deck, and the driveway is slippery. But, tomorrow is going to warm up, and by Monday it may hit 60 degrees (15.5C). Spring! And then it will get cold again and perhaps snow on Thanksgiving.

I have not gone on walks at all. I do not like slipping and sliding down the hills. I do not like walking during hunting season either, especially because a hunting club has bought some of the land down the road where I walk.

But maybe Monday I will get out there for a bit. I just won't wear my hat with the antlers on it.

Friday, November 21, 2014

how to be a cool and popular mom....

First of all, read the books your teenagers read. Talk to them about the books, omitting any comments that contain the words, "duh", "lame", or "obviously written for young adults". When they put on some music in the car, bob your head a little to the beat and pretend you know the words, or at least that you totally get the message of the song. Understand that your teenagers do not think that stopping at DunkinDonuts is a waste of money. Frappes and mochas and all of those other drinks that weren't invented yet back when I grew up while dinosaurs roamed the earth are totally worth four or five bucks each. If you want your teenagers to have fun with you, then go ahead, stop at McDonalds! You don't have to actually eat the food, but a quick way to their hearts is to let them order a thing or two from the dollar menu!

And, most important, after reading the books they read, when those books are made into movies, take them on opening night! Shriek with delight and anticipation, right along with them, and when that movie is over, clap your heart out. It doesn't matter if you loved it or not, you had fun with your kids, and they think you are totally cool!

Now that I have written this, let me say this: thankfully, I don't have to pretend to enjoy any of it, because I like books, I like movies based on books, and I love hanging out with my teenagers.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

in which she triumphs over fear and books that flight to washington!!!!

Or more accurately, her longing to see her granddaughter trumps the anxiety of travelling alone. I am still terra-miff-ied, but it will be worth it. And I do feel liberated, in a small way...I can do this!

Now, as I have taken plenty of trips with Emily and my other older kids, as well as with Paul, I do know a little bit about traveling. But, I am more of a follower than a leader, and if someone else is willing to take the helm, I am not there all second guessing them, nope, I am just letting them figure it out. I'm like that in a kitchen, too. Just tell me what to do. But the interesting thing is, when I HAVE to be the boss, I can do it. I can figure out what needs to be done and how to do it, but hey, if someone else is in charge, I'll just do what I'm told.

Anyway. I am going to Seattle, Washington! One son (Sam) in Washington D.C. and the other (Ben) on the west coast...

I leave on the 6th of December.

I think I have figured out what I would do with my money if I won the lottery. I would travel. I love seeing new places, and planning trips. I have kids who would LOVE to fly out and see Anya, too, but....

Samuel, who is in D.C., Army, Old Guard, cannot come home for either Thanksgiving or Christmas. He is on one of the bases that keeps a full group of soldiers at all times.

I just found out today that he can't come for Thanksgiving. So of course I was bemoaning that fact to the cashier in the grocery store, to which she replied, "you should go see him instead." I said, "We can't, there are too many of us." She probably thought I was crazy. Too many of us. But with the nurses in the family, and their crazy and different schedules, we couldn't co-ordinate a trip with all of the rest of us, so someone would end up alone for Christmas or Thanksgiving no matter how we tried.

Anyway. I feel bad for him. He is still only 19 years old, and has always loved the holidays and traditions. He was the liveliest one at the table, the funniest and also the one who enjoyed the meals the most.

I talked to him on the phone tonight, he has been doing lots of missions...and he went to the shooting range overnight again. He got 38 out of 40, which makes him an expert marksman, which he says he has to be to be in the infantry, but I am impressed. If I hit one out of 40, I would be having a good day. At 100 to 300 yards away, moving targets that popped up in 15 second intervals, if you took too long, you missed it....

Anyway. He is doing okay.

Today, we went to the mall....

Kathryn, Suzanne, Charlotte Claire, and Camille. We had to go, Kathryn's Surface wasn't responding, so we took it to the Microsoft store. It still isn't fixed, but that's another story, a boring one. We went into the Disney store, where the girls were instantly attracted to the Star Wars toys. Charlotte Claire is a huge SW nerd. I was a bit surprised to see them sail past all the princess dolls though.

We ate at the food court while we waited for Kathryn's computer. Chinese food, half a sub, a burrito...blah. I had the General Tso's chicken, and it was so salty, good. I was good too, I only had a few spoons of the rice. The girls ate a little of it, but were full enough from their own I threw it away. I still have that baggage from childhood: wasting food is a sin. But. It's better off in the garbage than in my gut, so off it went. The other thing is, I wanted to eat it all but I knew I didn't need it!

We went to Starbucks and got a coffee for me, and some iced teas for the girls. The two littler ones went on the carousel...I didn't get a picture because Kathryn and Suze had my phone (camera) when they walked to Starbucks for their drinks. dang. I stood there watching those little princesses go around and around on their horses, Camille clearly in her own little world, and remembered the days when we had to buy 12 or 14 two. And, no one needed Mama to stand there and go around and around, next to their horse making sure they didn't fall off. Times have a-changed.

They are growing up on me! But these two little girls really enjoy life. They danced along to the irritating Christmas music, and marveled at the decorations. They helped pick out a birthday present for their cousin, they are going to his birthday party on Saturday. They helped me pick out some clothes for them that we are saving for Christmas, too. They love to look in the kids' sections, and read the tags. They know that $19.99 is twenty bucks, and it is too much:)

Ah well. We stopped at Target on the way home from the mall, and got a few Christmas presents, and some socks for Jonathan.

Then, to the grocery store that has eggs on sale for a dollar a dozen this week. I got six dozen. And, some oranges, apples, and sweet potatoes, along with some bagels, half and half, and heavy cream for next week. Real whipped cream, pies, oh dear....

Thanksgiving. We do have much to be thankful for. Mali and Aaron, who are both nurses, have to work. Emily works at the same hospital as Aaron, but has the day off. Mirielle works with Mali, and has it off. Mali and Aaron both work nights, the other two work days now. So hopefully Mali and Aaron can each stop over for just a half hour or so,before work, on Thanksgiving evening.

Mali is coming over the day before to help me make pies. The kids watched the show, "Master Chef Junior", so now they want to make their own pies. hmm. Wasting food is a sin, but letting the kids help is a good thing....

Anyway. I am tired, and have to get up early in the morning....I am taking my brother to a doctor appointment. (one of my other brothers left today for a 3 day shift, helping those poor people in Buffalo dig out of all that snow! If you haven't heard about what I'm talking about here, google it! Buffalo, NY got blasted with snow! 5 inches an hour! People got stuck in their cars for 33 hours on the highway! Doors broke because of the weight of the snow, and 10 people died from storm related causes (heart attacks from shoveling, exposure, and one guy got buried in his car.))

Anyway again, I am tired, so goodnight.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

but i'm scared!

I don't go many places alone. Why would I? There are countless companions around here to go adventuring with. Today, for example, I took a quick trip to Wallyworld to pay for an order I had put in online, long story never mind. But instead of striking out alone, Suze (13) came along. We took a quick detour to the thrift store, which she doesn't love, but I do. (I got Char and Cam jackets, from L.L.Bean and Land's End, for cheap! And adorable snowman candlestick holders for a dollar each. And a $2 shirt for Jon. And a whole box of angel ornaments for $3.99.)

Anyway. Aaron is flying out to Seattle Washington in a few weeks to visit Ben and Ashley for a couple of days. I want to go with him. Tickets are $300, so Paul said Merry Christmas, go see your grand daughter. I said, YAY! But. Aaron already bought his ticket, and to get the same flight as him would be almost $500. blah. Or, I could just go the same day on a different flight and pay the $300. The way back has TWO stops. Oh I know, I am a big baby. But. I don't want to! Yet, I seriously want to go visit that grand baby, and see my son and Ashley. Oh I do I do.

Benjamin is texting me to just do it, don't think about it, just do it. I don't know. All by my lonesome? Will I know where to go and what to do? He said just get a coffee and wait for my next flight. Coffee? hmm, maybe....

And did you know that the coffee there on the west coast is yum? And, on every corner? hmmmm.....

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

again again

Every day it's the same thing, sweep the floor and clean things up. A coffee mug here, a tea cup there, with the teabag in it of course, and no one left it there. When I ask, they are eager to suggest one of their siblings, but if I question said sibling, they shrug and say Wasn't Me. I usually don't try to sleuth out the culprits. But seriously, a package of opened crackers on the coffee table? rrr.

There is always laundry to do, and dishes. I have cupboards and closets to organize, and the big freezer needs defrosting.

It's not that I don't like cleaning my house. I don't really mind. I just don't like doing it It gets old. Especially when I pick up say....a lego. I pick it up and put it on the counter, then the next day, there it is again, on the floor. I know, I should have had Jon take it, or put it where it belonged in the first place: one of the junk drawers, where it could mingle with the rubber bands and push-pins and Box Tops For Education.

Now of course I am thankful that I can walk, lean over, and physically do the things I don't really want to do. I am just venting about the sameness of it all. And hey, when your husband is in France all of the time..."we took the train from Paris", he said. Oh my life! That's what Aaron used to say. Oh, my life!

But overall, I can't complain. Homeschooling these five kids has been the absolute best thing I have ever done, besides have them all in the first place. They are having bagels and cream cheese, and bundling up in warm clothes. We have our two new space heaters humming, because it's cold outside! It was 20 degrees (-6.6 C) when I got up this morning. brrrr.

The dogs didn't stay out too long today:)

I know winter comes every year. It just does. But this year, the autumn went by so fast! I hope this early snow isn't a shadow of things to come. Up east of the lake (Ontario), and over near Buffalo, they are getting pounded. Four feet of snow or more. The NYS Thruway is closed through there, too.

We need another trip to the library, but not today. The little girls are invited to a birthday party this afternoon, and Jon gets to go too to play with the birthday girl's brother. We took a little trip to Walmart last evening to get a gift, and it was too much fun. We moseyed and dawdled and meandered through the store. We looked at the toys, pressed the buttons, and picked out a little doll in a little car seat, and a nice little blouse. We also picked out different colored Powerade drinks (I like purple Zero, no calories). We decided on frozen rasberries and vanilla ice cream for a treat when we got home. But. Lo and behold, right there above the vanilla ice cream: Pumpkin pie ice cream. Made by the local dairy. Oh heavenly yum, I didn't say no, I just bought one. And, I ate some last night. Sonja was pretty pleased to see it too. I made sure my dinner was lo-cal, a mug of tomato soup, a bowl of raw spinach with some turkey slices and pepper.

Anyway, it was fun to go out and about with the three youngest. The five girls went to Girls' Fellowship at Emily's house, and Joseph just stayed home. Honestly, having only nine kids home is rather easy. :)

I miss Paul. I'm glad he'll only be gone for a week this trip instead of two.

Okay, and here's the really really fun news: my mother-in-law asked me if I want to accompany her on a trip to....Seattle! To visit Ben and Ashley and little Anya, my only little grandchild! Next spring or summer....of course I said yes, and shh, we haven't asked Ben and Ashley yet, but I'm sure they won't mind.

This is Benjamin with Kathryn. Benjamin just had a birthday, on Veteran's Day. He turned 26. I love Benjy. He has grown up into such a nice responsible daddy. A good and caring husband. He transitioned from Army life to an apprenticeship in HVAC (heating/air conditioning ect). He signed out of the Army a few weeks back with no fanfare, no ceremony, just voila, you are now a regular citizen again. He is still on reserve for a year, but other than that, he is done with the Army.

Too bad he is staying in Washington state, it is too far away. But they like it there, and he got a good job there.

Anyway, I am excited about the prospect of another trip, and oh to see that little Anya again....:)

Monday, November 17, 2014

in love....

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas. The snow gives the house that lighting that only the reflection of snow outside can give, and with it comes a holiday spirit. I get as excited as the kids do. We have big plans for this season! We want to go to the science museum and watch, "The Polar Express" at the IMAX.

The kids went outside to play already.

Jonathan made pancakes, they are having cocoa, wearing their slippers, and checking the weather online. It is warming up to rain today, but getting drastically colder this week. I am not ready for winter, although I am super glad I found the girls some adorable snow boots from the thrift store a few weeks ago.

Kitty wants to go out:) she can't.

The kids are talking about camping. Cam wished upon a star, and she wished that Dad could find a wrench to take her training wheels off her bike...and the next day, he found a wrench, and took her training wheels off! Her wish worked. Char got sand in her eyes once, and washed them out with lake water, and it came out! Charlotte Claire's tablet died on that camping trip when rain flooded the tents...oh joy. But we remember it fondly, forgetting the hanging of all the stuff and trying to dry things out. Of course for kids, this part doesn't matter anyway.

Anyway. It is chilly and bright and the space heater is humming. I got up and exercised this morning, and sent out the kids' homeschooling first quarter reports. I slept in cozily late though, with the girls all cuddled in bed with me. I had a terrible headache when I got home from the progressed into one of those vice grip ones, then just pounded worse and worse. I haven't had a headache in at least three weeks, so I can't complain. But this one was rough. I took two ibuprofen before bed, but got back up to take an Excedrin. When I came out to the living room, I found this:

I don't know why I get such a kick out of the animals getting along with each other....

Anyway, I hate those headaches. It finally subsided, but when I woke up this morning, I felt that after-migraine slugishness...and was thankful I didn't HAVE to get up, although I should get up with the kids who go to Real School. Tomorrow I will.

We have yet to start our morning school work, although as we lay in bed this morning, I was explaining to Camille how to figure out how much something costs if it is a certain percent off. She actually caught on.

The kids are happy today, and I love it. I am very much in love with life today.

Sometimes I feel guilty saying I am happy. Life isn't equal for everyone all of the time, and perhaps right now friends or acquaintances are having difficulties, and here I am saying how glad I am. We all know there is a time and a season for everything under the sun...and today, I am happy.

I would be happier, I suppose, if I got on the scale this morning and it reflected how many times I denied myself something, instead of how many times I had just a taste...and then another taste. I would probably be happier if I won the lottery too, but we shall never know, since I don't play it.

And it's time to get up again and get moving on school.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

and another busy sunday...all gone.

We do get only the one ride through life. I firmly believe that if we actually KNEW how numbered our days and hours were, we would absolutely not waste any time at all grumping or complaining. And yeah, I know that "grumping" isn't a real word, but it should be.

Today, I worked at the basketball game. Do I like leaving my youngsters and driving to the city, parking in a parking garage with low ceilings and tiny parking spots?(I actually got a ride with my niece today, so I didn't have to drive:)) Paul and I have taken turns scraping up the minivan in there, actually. I went first, trying to exit the garage, and scraaaaaaaaping along the corner, oops. Paul asked me for weeks and months how I could possibly scrape up the van so badly. I just don't know, I said. The space I had to drive through was too small, I said. Then lo and behold, one night we were happily getting into that poor minivan to leave after a long night working, and scraaape BANG, he smashed the driver's door right into a cement post as he backed out. Far be if from me to sit there laughing and saying how glad I was that he had a turn. How could you do that, I asked? oh joy, it was totally worth it. Our poor minivan.

Anyway. Going to the Dome to work isn't what I would choose to do on a Sunday, or any other day, for that matter. But. It is what it is, and it is what I make of it. I got to see my friends. I got to see this adorable boy with Down's Syndrome, who was with his daddy, who obviously loved him to the moon and back. I got to see a chubby little girl buy a cookiewich (a cookiewich is a devilish invention, consisting of two superyummy chocolate chip cookies with swirled soft ice cream frozen in the middle. 550 calories.)Anyway, this little girl, around ten years old or so, counts out the money from her sparkly little change purse, gets her cookiewich, then her mother comes up behind her, and berates her..."Oh, you ate up all the popcorn by yourself, now you buy something you can't share with us. Seriously." um, wah? My niece Audrey actually cried. It was just so mean of that mom! That child is going to grow up and have to go to counseling.

Anyway. It wasn't horrid to work today. It was actually quite pleasant. We usually have this manager who didn't seem to attend the Be Nice To Your Workers School. She is snappy and barge-y, if you are in her way, oh well, she just shoulders into you. She grabs, doesn't say please and thank you, and she really gets after the younger ones at times. She isn't always horrid, and I actually like her as a person, to an extent. Okay, I love her but don't really like her. I figured out that I love her one night when she was leaning totally into my personal space, squatting down, trying to fix a clogged soda line, when I pressed the cash button on my register, and the drawer flew open, almost hitting her head. oops. I grabbed the drawer just in time to save her from a horrible corner bump, and realized, dear Lord, I love this woman. But honestly, I don't always like her too much.

But. Anyway. We had a different manager tonight, and it was totally chill, much more pleasant, and relaxed.

The children are nestled all snug in their beds, or rather, two of them are in my bed. Daddy is in France, so they get to be comfy and snuggly with me, those two little princesses.

Animals in the house, help! One of the dogs, we won't mention any names, but I am thinking along the lines of Duke, poops in the house a few times a week. I. Hate. It. Of course, I mean, who would like it? So, we put this lovely piece of plywood across the living room doorway, so they can't get into the halls or go downstairs. They work like crazy until they budge it out of place, and get through and go sleep with Jonny, and sneak into the hallway, and if the un-named dog has to go, he goes. This morning they woke me up, on a Sunday morning, at six o'clock. It was still dark out, and Duke was barking his little yip. Yip. Yip. He does this long silence in between barks, long enough to drift back to sleep. Then I would wake again, and think, that dog has to poop. So I got up and let them out. I waited there on the cold tile floor of the kitchen, wondering if I would be able to fall back to sleep.

And...those brats! One of them pooped on the kitchen floor! I am thinking Duke, I really am.

Ah well. I cleaned it up, and am still alive.

And, I went on Target . com and ordered a pet gate. It's really cute, with a kitty door so the cats can go through. I will put that up and keep them out here, at least.

Oh the fun and adventure that comes with having pets. I still think it's worth it. Those dogs are so sweet and cuddly and fun. And the kitties...
Little kitty doesn't care who she bugs. She has no fear. Big kitty can swat at her, growl at her, nothing deters her. She just pounces and wacks and attacks the twitching tail.

She jumps up and bites big kitty. Big kitty seems to be getting used to it, and barely reacts. The dogs put up with all sorts of abuse from spunky little kitty. The Kettler, that's her official name.

Two cats, two dogs. That's still sane. I will not get any more pets, that would be insane. Although I could totally be the crazy cat lady. And I would love a yellow lab. Then I think of Duke, and the poop, and of when they get into the garbage during the night and I wake up to piles of coffee grounds all over the kitchen floor....I get real sane real quick, and know I don't want any more pets.

They are more work than the kids.

Today, I got a cookiewich. And a piece of pizza. The pizza was Waste Pizza, which means we couldn't sell it because it was mangled or burned or something. So we could eat it. I only ate the cheese and pepperoni off the top, and threw away the crust. Then I ate half my cookiewich, and despite how much my mother used to harp on the sin of wasting food, I wrapped it up in the wrapper, and threw it away. I had had enough, and throwing it away is better than over eating. Yay me! You have no idea how good it feels to break away from something like.

Then I came home and had popcorn for dinner. But that's all I had, and it was for dinner, and yeah, I know I need to make better choices, but I still find that I eat based on how I feel, and I felt tired and sorry for my poor knees and feet, and wanted to relax....and eat popcorn.

Ah well, tomorrow is another day. I will make good choices.

saturday evening post...

Paul is headed back to France, Margaret and Joseph are with Emily and Aaron visiting Samuel, Sonja K. is in Detroit for the weekend with her cousin Becky, and Jonathan is at Abigail's house for the night. We aren't lonely here though, we have two cousins visiting.

After dropping Paul off at the airport, Suzanne, Evelyn, and I went to the dollar store. We got a few Christmas trinkets, and some dark chocolate...the yummy salted almond kind. And a milk caramel bar for the kids. We bought some wrapping paper and a school workbook for Camille.

Then...we went to Target. I had a ten dollar coupon:) I bought two space heaters because they were buy one get one half off. I got a few Christmas gifts for the kids, including a dress for Evelyn which she had her eye on that finally went down to 70% off.

Then the grocery store just for carrots and eggs and popcorn, and ice cream for tonight.

We came home and made a few pizzas, and I made up some Buffalo chicken breast chunks. The little girls went roller skating today with one of their friends, and came in the door and asked please please can their cousin Danielle spend the night. Yes, I said. So, at 11:22 at night, they are still wide awake and talking. They had a mystery to solve this evening...Camille had cut her toe, and didn't know it until she spotted the blood...and she had made a trail. They were in their own little world being detectives, trying to figure out what she did to her toe, and where it might have happened. They moved one of the couches so part of the living room is closed off, and have set up their little houses over there. They simply have too much fun.

We tried to watch a movie tonight, but our dvd player broke, and Jon took the game system with him to Abigail's house. My computer doesn't have a disk drive, and Paul's computer is with him on the way to France.

Paul will be in France for a week, home for a week, then in Florida for two weeks. Florida for the first two weeks in December. blah. No fair. He's gone so much, I feel like a single parent. I do all the day-to-day parenting, filling him in as much as I can, but mostly headline news, not little details. When he is home, he usually gets home from work late, closer to 8 than 7 most nights. I don't want to complain, because he has a good job, and he actually likes it, but I need to vent a little.

I don't know how to fix the stove or replace the broken light fixtures or figure out why the minivan is making that noise. Mirielle says I need to learn, and not save it all for Dad. I feel accomplished when I change a lightbulb, put batteries in something, or assemble a toy. I don't think I can tinker with the heating element on the stove.

We never did decide on what to do about new windows, so he fixed our existing ones by spraying on this extremely attractive foam, to seal the cold air out. It looks like fat puffy yellowed spray whipped cream.

There is a towel in front of the refrigerator, and a towel in front of the washing machine.

Yet, here I am, alive and well.

Life is short. There is something in us that wants everything just so. When it's all in order, I'll feel better, I subconsciously think. Of course, then there will be something else I want arranged differently. Or upgraded or replaced. It goes on and on, and if we're not careful, our days will be frittered away, always in pursuit of new and improved.

I know, there are things that have to be done. But we do delude ourselves about what is really necessary, and what we just plain WANT.

Granite countertops. I want them. A new garbage can, stainless steel - I want one. One of those fake fireplaces with the realistic flames...ohh, yes! New furniture because I never cared for this red stuff, please! What I would actually really really love is an endless pool. An indoor hot-tub like thing with a motor that creates a strong current to swim against.

The way I see it, is that rich people are never happy because the more one gets, the more one wants. The contentment is not going to come set up camp in me at some fixed point when I get what I think will make me happy. No sir. It comes when I decide I am happy with what I have.

Lately, I have been so extremely thankful for my little kids. Now that Char and Cam are homeschooling too, Jonathan has someone to play outside with. We had our first snowfall, and they were so very excited to go out exploring in it. They are just so funny. They made pretend passports. They played school this morning. They each had 32 invisible students. Cam was grading papers, talking to these invisible students as she frowned at the pretend papers they turned in. "What?! You think bears hibernate in the summer? No, wrong!", and Char was telling her students, as she stood at her easel with a marker in her hand, "I'm sorry you got a detention, but that's that, you have to keep it." They sometimes decide to play store, and in an instant, the living room has three shopping carts, some toy cash registers, and food from the cupboards set up on the couches and coffee tables. They get their real money out, and then some plastic Walmart bags...they just don't get bored.

I guess I realize that my days as a mommy to little children are numbered. So I am stepping back and breathing it in, living in the moments. For years and years I had what seemed like an endless supply of little ones....:)

One thing's for sure: the older ones, oh they try my soul! I almost can't bear it sometimes, I feel their pain, I want so much for them to find peace, and make good decisions.

It gives me a tiny glimpse of how it is for God, and us. He wants us to be saved, yet gives us free will. How He must rejoice when we make good choices!

Anyway, I am getting more and more tired, as I ramble....

Friday, November 14, 2014


Camille Anaya today....

winter already?!

We didn't get much snow here, just covered the yard and deck. It was cold for my morning walk though, 28 degrees.

My cozy spot for sitting in the sun, wah!

This is why I love homeschooling....the coziness.

Of course Suri and Cam are as cute as can be.

Taking my three youngest kids shopping is always an adventure.

It was a dark and chilly day, then it started snowing....

We drove the small Nissan, which is more cozy than the minivan, and a really far cry from that 15 passenger van I drove for years. Our first stop, after dropping off some library books, was Tim Horten's. I had a few coupons, so I got a coffee, a large hot chocolate for them to share, and ten Timbits for like four dollars. :) And no, I did not have any of them.

We shopped in three stores. Camille brought her little notebook and pen, and kept track of each and every item I put in the cart. Math class! She would do the math out loud, so Jon and Char helped too.

They have been outside this morning, first thing. Most of our snow melted, but it is still cold out, and snowing again.

Charlotte Claire is lying on the couch under a down comforter, writing a paper about yesterday. Camille finished two reports, ten pages of her curriculum book, and is working on math. Jon is writing, too.

It is chilly in here, we are looking into getting a fake fireplace/heater with flames kind of thing to keep it warmer in here. I don't really mind the beauty of winter, but I hate cold hands and cold feet. I walked this morning, and the road was slippery. blah.

Paul leaves for France again tomorrow. Sunday, another basketball game to work at. But I am not complaining. There is way too much to be thankful for!!!

Well...Cam needs my attention.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

and....I am back from washington d.c.! edited!

Vice President Joe Biden...after laying the wreath at the Tomb of The Unknown Army son Samuel is there! He is one of the Old Guard soldiers right next to the Tomb, right behind the V.P.!

We got up early, and arrived at the Tomb with a few hours to spare....(I stood there for way too long for my creaky old knees, but that's another story for another day.)

We watched the Old Guard soldier walk 21 steps, stop and wait a count of 21, turn, walk, ect. We saw the changing of the guard twice while we waited.

We were right there, and it was amazing.

The security was tight. We arrived at Arlington, and as we walked through the welcome building after using the restrooms, I heard a man shouting, "Mam! You can not have that! Mam, please, you have to throw that away!". I kept walking, glancing around for whoever he was shouting to. It was me. I had the audacity to have a water bottle with me! He said, "You have to get rid of that! You can enjoy it now, but you cannot take it into the cemetery, our vice president, Joe Biden, is going to be here today, and you cannot have a water bottle!" um, okay, I totally see the logic, but whatever. I do not argue with the Secret Service. Nope, not me.

They were everywhere. Military police, Secret Service, Washington Metro Police. We went through security up at the tomb, too. I was kind of glad they were being extra cautious, seeing that my son is a soldier, and there are really bad people out there who hate us.

Anyway. We stood on those steps at the tomb for hours, and it was totally worth it. Seeing the soldiers from all the branches march their Honor Guard units up the steps, and move in unison, they were awesome!

Our trip was amazing. We walked for miles, visited museums, went out to dinner, and lounged in the hot tub at the hotel. I have pictures and stories and good memories of how we got lost every five minutes, but never really too lost.

Evelyn, Mirielle, and Samuel at the Jefferson Memorial.

Marine Memorial

Mirielle Joy and Evelyn Joy....tourists.

Me, and Samuel James. He is so grown up! Just kidding, he only looks grown up. I brought him Frankenberry, Count Chocula, and Boo Berry, so he had to stop at the commissary to get milk to bring back to his barracks. He has this love for detail in what he is passionate about, so for him to memorize the movements and steps required for Old Guard's his thing. Edited: I realized after I wrote this, as I stood at the sink washing pans from dinner...that this is not fair to Sam, he really has grown up. I am his mommy, so I will always see the sweet child in him. He is responsible now. He takes good care of himself, his uniform, his money, and stands firm in his faith. He still enjoys the simple things in life, but he IS grown up. :) There, I feel better.

This bear is in the Museum of Natural History. It looks like it needs a hug.

Samuel and Paul near the Washington Monument.

Air and Space Museum. I admired it from the bench I planted my rear end on upon entering. See, we had walked and walked to get there. We found free parking down near the Jefferson Memorial, and hoofed it down the sidewalks. Oh, don't get me wrong, I am a country girl in the big city, and I couldn't get enough of the people...and the cute strollers I saw...and the was all interesting, but my poor knees didn't love it on little bit.

Paul at the Library of Congress. This was an interesting stop. Mirielle dropped us off and went to find a parking spot. While we waited, we walked by the Supreme Court building...and lots of security. The nation's Capitol building is across the street from the Library of Congress, and these two police officers were walking up and down, on patrol. One of them has what I think is an M-14 rifle. I made sure I behaved myself and didn't look suspicious.

So we entered the Library of Congress, and had to pass through security. I beeped, of course. My purse was searched, as per usual, (I always put the baggy of girl stuff on the top, just to make it fun for them)(it usually ensures they don't look too long in my lovely purse)(not that they'll find anything but an apple, a baggie of almonds, a baggy chock full of tylenol, ibuprofen, tummy tablets, band-aids)(I don't carry a diaper bag anymore after like 25 years straight of carrying one, but I still have supplies). Anyway. I beeped. So I had to go back through the scanner. I still beeped. I had to take my boots off. Now, I am not a small lady. It is no small feat (ha, feet!) for me to just remove my boots. I had nothing to lean on. As I yanked off boot number one, I lost my balance, and grabbed the scanner thing, just as the lady who had been behind me was walking through it. The guard guy did not like this one little bit, it made it beep, he told me not to touch it, I should have just sat down and cried. But I didn't, I just stood there trying to balance, yanking those boots off.

And then walked through again, and thankfully it didn't beep, I was in no mood for a pat-down.


We visited Robert E. Lee's former home, which was a plantation before it became Arlington cemetery. This pram and doll china belonged to his children.

Sam is a good tour guide. Here he is with Evelyn.

Sam with Evelyn again...

Arlington Cemetery is a beautiful place, but it is also extremely sad. I saw a woman sitting on a grave, washing it off with a waterbottle, wiping it down. She put flowers there, and watered them. She sat there for a bit, then when she got up, she leaned over and kissed the grave stone. She walked away with her head on an older woman's shoulder, I presume her Mama. I imagine it was her husband there. After she left, I wanted to go look, but I felt like I had already intruded on such a private moment. We saw a young soldier's stone, who died in Iraq, with pictures of two little boys taped to it. Yes, it is a sad place.

One evening we had a picnic across the river from the Jefferson Memorial.

The Washington Monument at night...

Mirielle drove with Evelyn as co-pilot, Paul and I in the back seat.
But after we picked Samuel up from the base, he was co-pilot. The three of us loved being squished in the back seat of Mirielle's Mitsubishi.

Evelyn 15, Mirielle, 25 and ...,

Samuel's in this group of soldiers, but can't be seen in this photo because of the angle. I am proud that he was chosen to be in this important ceremony, being such a new guy in the Old Guard.

Phew. What a weekend. I won't lie and say the whole thing was wonderful and glorious. My feet ached and my knees creaked. I tried very hard not to wreck it for everyone else, so I suffered in silence, mostly. Mirielle was wonderful about walking slower with me, and dropping me off or picking me up if she could. In our family, we joke around a lot, and if you have ever watched Parks and Recreation, you will understand about being The Jerry of the group. Jerry can't do anything right, no one respects him. He gets laughed at and mocked and dissed no matter what he does. I felt like the Jerry of the group, even though I protested and laughed about it, it was rather funny some of the time. I tried not to spill my drink or drop food on my shirt, but oops.

Overall, though, it was really nice to be away and the hot tub and pool were great. The happy hour in the evening at the hotel was free, and we enjoyed that too. The breakfasts were amazing, the coffee was good, and our room/suite was comfy, and we had two t.v.s.

Being away from home doesn't mean you don't still have to sort things out that are going on there. I still got texts and calls:)

And when I walked in the door, I saw the evidence of how much I do around here. Yet, I couldn't complain, because these older kids held down the fort for four days. Margaret took her SAT's Saturday, worked at the Dome on Monday, and took the kids out for pizza on Friday night. Joseph worked at the Dome twice, and Suzanne watched the three youngest plus two other kids all day on Saturday. They were busy doing other things too, so I can't expect them to have the house perfect. And when I asked each of them about it, they all assured me that they did tons of work. Ah well. It didn't kill me to come home and clean.

And do laundry. Camille was going to sleep on the floor because her bedding needed washing. Um, no, I can just put clean stuff on honey. blah. It made me resolve to take good care of myself because they obviously can't live without me.

The house is quiet right now. Paul isn't home from work yet. The kids went to activity club.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

what a small world!

I just got a comment on here from someone who found this blog and knows my niece Claire, who is living in New Zealand. She knows her husband, and is in the same church we are, and also homeschools! What a small world! BTW, Claire and her husband are expecting a baby, my sister is going to have three....THREE new grandbabies in April and May of next year. I shall have to share them. Claire lives far far away, but my Evelyn has big plans to save up her money and go visit her. (if anyone wants to contact me, email me at

Today is a good day. See, my sister has seven daughters. They grew up all intertangled and woven in with my kids. We had them over a lot, and went bye-bye together all the time. We camped together, and went on adventures together. My sister's youngest is the same age as my 6th child, so......I still had baby after baby as hers grew up. And, her children grew up and were like additional older siblings to my little ones, as well as friends with my older ones. Anyway, my sister's oldest daughter Katie has two children. One is in school, and the other is two years old, and is here at our house for the day. He can read already, and knows all his planets. He is a bit apprehensive of the dogs, but they just sniff him and go lie down, so he is getting used to them. He is playing house with the little girls, and playing with Jonathan...they are absolutely loving having a little guy to play with.

My older son Joseph, and Kathryn and Suzanne will be holding down the fort for a few hours today when I bring my older brother Bob to a doctor's appointment.

And later this afternoon I might be going to Costco again to help Emily shop for the couples' weekend food.

And...the day after tomorrow, I am going to....Washington, D.C.!!! Paul and I, Mirielle and Evelyn, are going on a four day weekend to visit Samuel! He is liking his position in the Old Guard, so far. He is just beginning in the Army, and Benjamin out in Washington state, is almost done. Anyway, we are looking forward to spending some time with Sam, and visiting the monuments and museums, and Arlington cemetery. We are staying in a nice hotel that includes breakfast, and has a pool and a hot tub. :)

I have five teenagers, plus a 12 and a half year old. Sam is one of the teenagers, but at 19 he is in the Army and doesn't give me any trouble. The next five kids, as you well know, are girls. Five in a row, born in five years....Margaret is 17, Kathryn is 16, Evelyn is 15, Suzanne is 13, and Sonja K. is 12. (then there is Jon 10, Charlotte Claire 8, and Camille 6 (almost 7!)...poor Jon!)

Anyway. Those five girls in a row...they keep me on my toes. There are always at least two of them disagreeing on something. Who wore my shirt? Did you hear what she said about me? She wasted the good tea! She left my waterbottle in her room. She says things about my skirt being short, but did you see her shirt? Uh-huh, I say. I heard that. Be nice, I say. Don't return evil for evil, I say. Forgive and forget, I say. Be thankful you have sisters, I say. If you can learn to get along with your sisters here at home, just think how prepared you will be for life, I say. Put yourself in her shoes, I say. She didn't mean that like it sounded, I say. They are not always bickering, no, sometimes they are ganging up on me. Fooling around, and they are indeed funny. Mom's old, they say. Mom likes dinosaur music, they say. Did you do that back in the 1800's, they say. The other day one of them said to me, "I'm glad you are my mom and you understand us.". ooh, can you please say that again?:)

Anyway, they can certainly be challenging, but I absolutely love them. I love when the three who go to school come in the door from the bus, and the homeschooling ones are here, and the snack time begins. I love the energy and the vitality and the hope they have for the future. They can be difficult, but they each have a good soft heart, and all of them are quick to apologize to me if they are rude or disrespectful.

As for me, I am learning. I am learning to wait before speaking. To ask God for wisdom. To be kind in return, no matter if I perceive snottiness in them. I am learning when to stand firm and put my foot down, and when to let things go. These are things that can't be written down in an instruction manual, because there is no one-size-fits all. What works with one child doesn't necessarily work with another. Most of all, I am learning that I have sin, and that I can't parent properly when I am offended or impatient or angry. I can't just react and be all like, BECAUSE I SAID SO.

The goal here is to lead them to obedience, right? Obedience to God. Not to rule with an iron fist, so they rebel and sneak and can't wait to get away.

Recently I was talking to one of my teenagers about some disrespectful behavior. I let her know that it is not acceptable, and it makes me sad, and she knows better. She answered me, "I know. I want to be good." Okay!!! Score!!! That's what we're looking for! I don't want them to just be good, I want them to WANT to be good.

Anyway. I have to get moving here. Camille is doing work, Jonathan is playing with little Davian, and Charlotte Claire in in her own little world, singing away as she picks up in her room. I need to go pick up my brother and bring him to his appointment. (he can drive, but he hurt his back and needs surgery, pray for him! He is one of my best friends....he is the daddy of ten, and has lots of grandchildren, I lost count...12 or so.)

Tuesday, November 4, 2014


Does sliding down the stairs in sleeping bags count as gym class? How about rollerskating in the living room? It's a good thing it's nice out today, because I had enough of the noise and sent them outside to swing. They brought Jon's light saber out, and had some fights, pretend ones that usually end up with one child crying, and that one child is usually Camille.

The thing is, when they do crazy things, it's just a matter of time before they get hurt. The longer they go wild, the bigger the chance, so I try to let them go for a bit, the stop them while everyone is still fine and whole.

Laundry, cleaning out the drawers of the 'fridge, doing laundry. blah. I took my walk today, though, and it was really nice. I also made a homemade chocolate cake....oh yum, a flour less cake....

melt six tablespoons of butter with 8 ounces of dark chocolate. I used some Ghiardelli chips, and some dark chocolate from Aldi, estimating, of course.

separate six eggs. put the whites in a large bowl. Whip the egg whites with the mixer until small peaks form, then add:

1/2 cup of sugar, slowly....until stiffer peaks form.

when the chocolate butter mixture cools a bit, add the egg yolks, whisk it up.

Now add 1/4 or so of the egg white mixture, whisk it into that egg/chocolate mixture....then fold in the rest...pour into a well buttered springform pan. I used a 9'by13' rectangle pan, just to see if this would be an okay recipe for larger quantities made in sheet cake pans....(Emily is doing the food for 170+ people, couples weekend at church, and needs dessert...we were thinking chocolate cake with rasberries, and perhaps some apple crisp with whipped cream....)

Anyway, bake this for 40 minutes or so, longer if you use the springform pan. It came out so yummy and good, you won't even miss the flour. At 325 degrees.

Anyway, it is too good, and I have to stay out of it. The little girls don't care much for dark chocolate, so they aren't helping me eat it. blah.

I have a beef stew simmering on the stove, so I feel so accomplished. There's nothing like actually knowing what's for dinner.

The little girls have been playing baby dolls/American Girls type dolls/house lately. Cam wanted to buy doll clothes at Target, but I said No Way. I can make those. So now they want me to make some. I don't have much of a supply of fabric anymore, but I was thinking to use clothes they have grown out of...then I can use the hems that are already there, ect. I would love to make them some winter coats, too...

Charlotte Claire is out in the kitchen, on rollerskates, giving whipped cream to the dog. Suri knows the sound of that squirty whipped cream can, and comes running. It IS cute, but don't waste it all on the dog. Some of us like it on frozen rasberries, in coffee, and on sugar free yogurt.

I walked today, and swam yesterday. I need to keep moving everyday, stay out of the sugar, and out of the cake, which Char DOES like....I had some chocolate last night, but nothing from McDonalds, which I somehow took five kids to yesterday afternoon. We went to the library....

Then to Target. We only got a few things, a backpack Sonja picked out for 70% off, which I put away for Christmas. We got Camille a dress for $4.48, and a matching scarf for $3.00, then a shirt for Char, a shirt for Paul, and that's about it.

To the grocery store quick for some apples and milk...I got some hot sausage that was on special, a bag of DunkinDonuts Pumpkin spice coffee, orange juice, and some marked down Halloween candy, which I put away for a rainy day. Most of it. I opened the Hershey bars, and had a few...

On the way to the van at the grocery store, I wanted to take a picture of five of my daughters walking in front of me...Suzanne holding Cam's hand, Kathryn, Charlotte Claire, Sonja....they just looked sweet...I felt in my pocket, and no phone. Sonja had left it in the library, we deduced, and we hoped it was still there. phew, it was. I don't know who was more relieved. By the time we arrived at the library, I realized trials are not always easy, and if my phone wasn't there, I would have to deal with it, and not be angry or mad at Sonja. This was after I told her she had better save her money if it was gone, unfortunately. I find that when it comes time for a testing of my faith, it always seems like whatever is happening should be an exception to the rules, that this is too much, I can't possibly remain patient NOW. But of course it is precisely at these very times that I can choose to trust God, and battle against anger and irritation.

Life is good.

Suzanne is so bored. Camille is singing a song, all wrapped in a towel and wet from her shower that Sonja gave her because she put lipstick in her hair. I need to switch over the laundry, and give the stew a stir.

Monday, November 3, 2014

and it's monday again....

Camille has a new baby! She wanted a doll car seat with a hood/canopy, so I made it for her. Then I found this sweet soft-bodied dolly, and couldn't resist it. She had a nice birthday party yesterday.

She turns seven next Friday, but this good Mama is going to Washington D.C. to see Sam, so we celebrated yesterday. Seven years old, my baby. How can that be?!

I made her cake and cupcakes, and only had a taste. I love chocolate cake with homemade buttercream frosting. oh dear.

This morning I decided to take the kids to the pool after we did our morning work. On the way there, Cam said, "I love homeschooling because we can go pee whenever we want to!" It's the little things...

We swam for 50 minutes. Miss Char was cold and wanted to get out and go home. Jonathan was playing volleyball with her, and didn't want to leave yet. Camille was in her own little world, playing tea party with a toy plastic boat, then watching it underwater with goggles on. They can jump into the deep end, 13 ft., with no floaties or life preservers any more. They just swim and swim.

Home for lunch, and some afternoon work. Cam is the quickest worker, she is done, the other two are being silly and not getting much done. They do work much better in the morning.

I think we might go to the library this afternoon.

I love homeschooling too.

So at the football game on Saturday, an interesting thing happened to me. I was encouraging someone else to be happy and enjoy the day even though there are much better places to be sometimes than fundraising at the Dome. Life is short, I said. Be happy, I said. Then when it was time for a break, I walked with Kathryn to find a place to sit. The game hadn't started, there were very few people in the stands. We usually go up really far where no one sits...but when we attempted to find a seat (there were literally thousands of empty seats)....the usher said we couldn't sit. At all. No where. Old rule being newly enforced, she said. Fine. We walked farther and climbed stairs, and were told yet again, nope. You can't sit anywhere at all, any time at all. Ever. okay. So we get a break and can eat some food, but we have to stand there when there are all the empty seats. Seriously? It is a cement floor, and the old knees get creaky and achy, and we work for seven and eight hour shifts. I found myself almost about to cry with the second attempt to sit, and then I started to get upset. Not anyone, just at the silliness of the RULES. And pretty soon, I didn't want to be there at all. I threw away my food, went back to the stand, and back to work, with a less than happy attitude. Then it hit me: I have to practice what I preach! There I was, encouraging someone else to be happy and make the most of it, and there I was, all miffed and ticked.

God is good. He knows just what we need.

It was a good day. I still don't like it that we can't sit down, but it doesn't mean I have to be miserable.

Oh the silliness here! I hate when we get to the point when they start fooling around and don't want to get their stuff done.

Ah well. Daylight savings time has started, it is starting to get dark already. I feel bad for Paul, he goes to work in the dark and comes home in the dark.

And, I need to help some kids with some stuff...