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

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

are we all glad for another day of life?

I know I am.

Grateful. Thankful. Happy. Yet frustrated that I now have no idea why I have this pain. I can live with the pain, it isn't horrible, ha, it's easier than dancing through the medical world and waiting for phone calls. As long as it's not life-threatening, I don't really care. But what if ignoring it makes it worse? I read a futuristic novel once where the people had this annual scan which could detect pretty much any ailment...I need one of those.

Or perhaps I should just put my head back in the sand.

In any case, today is a good day. There is still snow on the ground, so it seems Christmas-y in here. Samuel is still home on leave from the Army, and is sleeping on the couch with the over-the-stove fan on high. I usually just get some coffee and sit in my chair anyway, but yesterday he said the noise of my typing kept waking him up. He stays up late watching stuff with his sisters, so I was nice this morning and am in my room. With my coffee, of course.

The princesses went to Emily's house to spend the night. She is bringing them home and picking up some of the older girls to bring ice skating. She is the best oldest child a family could have. :)

I am in an organizing mood. The little girls have been wanting me to clean out their closet for forever and a day. There are clothes hanging in there that honestly, they have not even worn. A baby dress of Emily's, Benjamin's baby overalls...a bag of cloth diapers, just in case. Just in case what, I don't know. Some of us think we need to be prepared for...something. Shelves full of Fisher-Price Little people houses...a barn, the gas station, the merry-go-round...minus most of the accessories, which have gotten lost through the years. They might be worth something, we can't get rid of them! ha. I am just done storing things that I'll never put on ebay. To the thrift store they will go, and if no one wants them - oh well.

Now I just need to figure out how to get my organizing mood transferred to actually cleaning that closet.

I don't want to do it today, it's one of Sam's last days here. He has to be back on base by midnight on the first, so we're not sure yet when he's heading back.

I also am making a new and better commitment to health: more exercise! More veggies! Going off plan for Christmas has thrown me, the sugar cravings came back with a vengeance. All I want is chocolate! I did have a few pieces yesterday, nothing crazy, but I have to stop it. I am now only two pounds over my pre-Christmas weight, down from five pounds over. Why oh why does it take so long to lose it, yet it comes back on so very quickly?

Anyway...this all leads me to a question...why when the new year rolls around do we all want to clean and organize and eat well and exercise? Is this normal, or have we all been brainwashed by advertising? I mean, look at the Target ad this week. Exercise clothes and cleaning products. Even Aldi has their usual January stock: yoga mats and hand weights.

All this re-commitment is uncomfortable. I don't want to go out in the cold for a walk! I don't want to change into work out clothes and get all sweaty! I don't like when my heart pounds and I get all tired! I want to stay comfy and warm and relaxed. The conundrum in this whole thing is that when I actually go outside that comfort zone and do the things I think I despise, I feel great...I feel accomplished. I know, I know, get off my lazy middle-aged rear end, stop talking, and just do it.

I read this blog of an overweight woman who knew she needed a huge kick in the bum for incentive, so she booked a trip with this five day mountain hike...six months from now. So she needs to lose the weight and get in shape, or else.

Paul is going to find out soon when he can get time off in the new year for our trip to Florida. The kids keep clamoring about it, they can't wait. Even the 23 hour drive is fun for them. It has been a warm winter for us, but we still haven't had the sunshine soaking into our skin...for way too long now. I just crave it.

From my cleaning and organizing yesterday afternoon, I have several bags in the back of the minivan to go to the thrift store, so I need to get moving, lest they get comfy in there and stay for a while.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

and...the phone call...

the scan was all clear! This is good news, of course, made me happy...yet confused. I still have a pain in my side, and no more gallbladder, so that's not it. The dr. is supposed to call me tomorrow to talk about further testing, ect. I am at the point now where I would like to just go back to doing what I do best, ignoring it and hoping it will go away.

Our living room is crazy right now. Jonathan is flying one remote control helicopter, Char another. Emily is reading the I Spy book with Cam, and Paul, Sonja, and I are just chilling. We cleaned up lots of toys in the end of our living room, packed up several bags to send to the thrift we could fit in a nice Ikea organizer that Aaron gave to us. It was lots of work, but there is much more room, and the kids are loving the play space.

Anyhow. I thought I would check in and let you all know the scan results. I am really really hoping this is just nothing...

so much to learn....

Yesterday was a wonderful day. I mean, Samuel is home on leave! There was coffee! It was pouring rain outside, and the Christmas lights were twinkling in here! Aside from the fact that the dr. office STILL hadn't heard from the hospital about my scan, it was a fine day indeed.

Then the phone was the dr. office...just telling me that they hadn't heard yet, but would be calling the hospital again to see what was going on. I found my heart pounding, my hands shaking. This is ridiculous. Either something's wrong, or it isn't. There's not a stinking thing I can do about it.

Emily, our oldest daughter, came over to bring Miss Evelyn to a bookstore downtown. Samuel was fine staying home, but some of the other girls wanted to do something, so they tagged along with Em and Ev...Kathryn, Suzanne, and Sonja joined them. They dropped Jonathan off at his friend's house, so that left me here with only Joseph, who doesn't count because he was working in his room, and Miss Char and Miss Cam...they wanted to do something fun, but I was expecting that dreaded phone call...I pictured myself driving and my phone ringing, and having to pull we stayed here and had fun instead.

We got out the beads and made bracelets. Then we had a warm yummy lunch (mine wasn't as yummy as theirs'). Then 4:30 hit, the dr. office was closed, I wasn't getting a call, so we left for town, to get a new Redbox movie. Then to the little grocery store there for ice cream, sprinkles, and hot fudge. (no, I didn't have any). By then Paul was home, then the older kids all stomped back in the door...they had gone out for Thai food, and weren't hungry for dinner. We had such a late lunch, we weren't hungry either. So Paul just had a huge salad and a leftover burger from the other day, all by his lonesome.:)

We got some snow last night, which changed over to freezing rain. It's icy out there. I went out with the dogs this morning...'s lovely from the windows, but driving in it is not fun. Nine of my kids are licensed drivers now, and two have their permits. So I don't stay up and worry every night, but it concerns me when they drive in bad weather, because every mom knows their kids do not know how to drive. I remember hitting those invisible brakes.

The bad labradors are on the couch they aren't allowed on. Charlotte Claire just came down the hall, and Suri started wagging that tail! Duke is old. He is sleeping so deeply we have to check and see if he's still breathing sometimes. We ask, "Do you want to go out? Want to go out?!", and he just wakes up and lies there considering, and more often than not, decides that no, he doesn't care to go out, actually, and puts his head back down on his paws, and sighs a deep sigh. Poor Duke.

I want this week to go by sloooowly. The kids are on vacation, Sam's here, and next week, Aaron's leaving for California. He's supposed to come over this afternoon to bring us some of his apartment furniture. wah. I am SO going to visit him though. I have never been to California, and it's high time I did. ha.

There's a yummy beef stew in the fridge, that I made on Sunday, and a turkey thawing for tomorrow. When it's dismally overcast and rainy and snowy and chilly, it's nice to have those winter-y foods. I've been buying special things they don't usually get, like chips and dips, and soda. I drink diet soda a few times a week, but prefer water. And coffee, of course. And hot tea in the evenings. There's the matter of all the Christmas chocolate I received...I just want to eat it all. Milk chocolate assortment...chocolates from around the world...

And these from Sam. 1260 calories. For the whole jar, of course. He told me to save them and open them sometime later, when there aren't so many people around, which we all know is a recipe for disaster. It is clearly a one serving jar, ha.

Kids are getting up and about, we are on a late vacation there are things to do, laundry to switch, breakfast to see to....

Monday, December 28, 2015

christmas vacation....

And there's no snow here in the northeast...well, there was a dusting this fine morning, and we are supposed to get some tonight. It's just chilly out, damp and sledding or ice skating, unless we go to an indoor rink. The local roller skating rink closed down, and the kids' museums are expensive. Shopping is also expensive:) I was thinking to at least gather the kids today and take them out for pizza.

But then I am not sure the doctor's office has my cell phone number. Do I wait around for a phone call? It's the Monday after a three day Christmas weekend, the phones at that office are probably ringing off their hooks...people who waited all weekend with their ailments, until they could call on Monday morning.

One minute I think I'm totally fine, they didn't fine a thing on the scan, or perhaps one of those water-filled cysts that will just go away on it's own. Life stretches before me infinitely again. Then I eat something, and feel so bloated and full, and have heartburn, and just feel blah, and I am certain that I am a goner.

And in the midst of it, there is this thing called Real Life. You know, where the dirty towels stack up and you run out of garbage bags and the 'fridge really needs to be cleaned out. And our refrigerator is picking a fine time to act up: Paul keeps having to use the hair dryer to melt the ice so the fridge side stays's science. I swear, our appliances are haunted. But we know how to fix a leaky washer, throw a towel on the floor in front of it. We have a refrigerator towel, too.

Paul's back to work today, but only for today, tomorrow, and Wednesday, then he has another nice long weekend.

Sometimes I feel like I have lost myself along the way, in being a mom. My life is molded around the needs and wants of others. I would love to go get in bed and read a book, but I would only do that if everything else was taken care of, and no one needed me for anything. But again, The Grass Is Always Greener truly isn't doing what you like that makes you happy, it's being happy in what you're doing. My life is rich and blessed, yet I find so much discontent. And while writing this, I had a thought: maybe it's time to play the Glad Game, you know, Pollyanna? She received a missionary barrel, and hoped there was a doll in it, but there were a pair of crutches. So she decided to just be glad she didn't NEED the crutches. Thankfulness is a very powerful force, it does indeed wage war against the Poor Me spirit.

We do get to choose, despite our circumstances, whether to be thankful or just complain endlessly. Does God really know just what I need, or do I know better?

Sunday, December 27, 2015

my six youngest daughters....

Suzanne 14, Sonja K. 13, Kathryn 17, me 50 ha, Evelyn Joy 16, then Miss Charlotte Claire 9, and Miss Camille Anaya 8...the other 10 are scattered here and there and at work...

We went out and about yesterday to pick up Kathryn's new glasses, and Evelyn's new glasses. Kap needs hers for reading, Ev for distance. We were good girls, and decided not to walk the mall while we were there. Camille, the girl on crutches, was the only one who really wanted to...Cam likes clothes, and loves getting new ones, so she was really wanting to look. But the older girls were feeling spoiled and satiated from Christmas still, and agreed that if we looked we would want to buy, and we don't need anything.

We did stop at the grocery store...we decided to have pasta and meatballs for dinner, with fresh Italian bread and rolls, in case they wanted meatball subs. (I had green beans with meatballs).

They were planning a get-together last night, but we ended up with just five friends over. The older girls borrowed Char and Cam's new karaoke machine, and were loud and silly. The little girls played in their room, Jon played video games, and the rest of us watched a stupid scary movie, but it was fun.

This morning as I cleaned up candy wrappers and emptied soda cups and tea mugs, and swept up stray potato chips and cookie crumbs, I thought, "I am done with Christmas." Don't get me wrong. I love company. But as the Mom, I see what needs to be done, and either I do it myself, or I enlist help, and that is a lose/lose situation. Balk, balk, balk, why don't you ask HER, she hasn't done ANYTHING. Okay, they aren't always that bad, sometimes I exaggerate. It isn't just the cleaning up...I can't explain it...but sometimes I get to where I would like to go crawl into bed and pull the covers over myself, and get away from all the noise and banter. Just saying this makes me feel like a bad person, but it's there. It's not as strong as the desire to be with my kids though, and if one of the older ones who no longer lives at home were to call me right now and say they were coming over, I would put on a pot of coffee and get ready for a visit. The grass is always greener. I remember years ago, complaining about the perpetual motion of our household to my mother...she gave me no sympathy. She simply said, "I'll trade you. It's so lonely here..."

This morning, Paul and some of the older ones left for the basketball game...Joseph, his friend Caleb, Suzanne, Sonja...are all here, but in their just Jonathan 11, Char 9, and Cam 8 were here in the living room with me. I said, "What if we just had three kids, just you three...whatever would we do?" They agreed it would be strange. The girls skipped down to their room to play with their new dolls, Jon is on his computer, and it is quiet in here. The tree is lit up, the coffee pot is on, the dogs are snoring.

And...we are out of milk, coconut oil, and the Redbox movie has to be returned. It is dismal and rainy out, and I don't want to get dressed and leave. I took a piece of beef from the freezer and am planning a stew...or just maybe a is frozen solid, I am such a good planner, I astound even my self.

I don't mind keeping busy though. And I like making good food, making people happy. The meatballs last night were so good, and so appreciated. Sam either eats at the mess hall (I don't think that's what it's called anymore, in the Army, but whatever), or he eats what he prepares himself...which is not homecooked food. He wants me to make him some beef stroganoff this week.

Ben and Ashley sent us some coffee from out there in Seattle Washington, the unofficial coffee capitol of the country. It's nice and dark and so so good. Mali's boyfriend Zac bought me Starbuck's Cinnamon Dolce, which Sam also bought me, along with a bag of caramel coffee. Oooh, I like Christmas coffee! The chocolates though, dang, I want to eat them. I am thinking of being a good clean eater all week, then having chocolate on New Year's Eve.

We still have cookies here, then Sonja's friend arrived last night with a big pan filled with...more cookies, plus rice krispie Christmas trees. I didn't touch them, but the kids did. We also have pound Hershey bars were marked down to $2.75. Um, yes? I'll take three. They will keep in the closet for a while, until the kids need a snack for something or other. I love Hershey's chocolate, mmm. Maybe I'll bring a few to Norway for my girls when I visit.

The struggle is real. Getting back on track is harder than staying on track in the first place, but it was nice to have some treats over Christmas.

Aaron is moving to California, next week...
He loves his little niece Lydia:)

I am going to miss him like crazy. He's taking a temporary travel nurse position, but is giving up his apartment in the I suspect he's never coming back, except to visit. He's always loved the warm weather, and the finer things in life...he will make a good salary out there, and is continuing with his education too. I'm making myself cry now. I don't want him to be a stranger. Life's too short to only see your children once a year or so. Having Ben on the west coast is hard enough. I was never one of those moms who jumped up and down when the child left for kindergarten, nor do I make big plans for their bedrooms when they finally move out, although their younger siblings put dibs on them...there are more bedrooms with less kids in them these days. They have to grow up and function on their own, and so far they have done quite well at this, which is a good thing. But to me, they are always my kids. My soul aches when they don't get promoted or if they get a traffic ticket. I feel bad or them when they're tired or if they have a big tax bill to pay, or even if they drop their phone and shatter the screen.

It's clear I am starting to's just that it's so quiet and comfy here in my chair...but off to the store I go...first, I have to extend an invite to the little girls...they like getting out of the house...

Saturday, December 26, 2015

and a merry christmas it was....

It was 68 degrees here on Christmas Eve, so Kathryn and I took a walk.

Having Sam home makes it so special.

He loves baby Lydia...she spent the night with us on Christmas Eve, and Mali came home from her 12 hour shift and cuddled with her baby on the couch, on Christmas morning, a very tired Mali. I don't know how she does it. She had to go back to work on Christmas night for another 12 hour shift.

Anyone wanna guess who gained 3 pounds in the last few days? I decided to just go with it...I didn't go crazy, but I did have some cookies. On Christmas Eve morning, I had a temporary leave of my senses, if you can believe me, and made two chocolate pies, and two pumpkin pies. I had to make crusts for quiche the kitchen was pretty busy. We made four pounds of bacon, four quiche, pancakes, fresh pineapple, melon, and blueberries, and sausage. And orange juice, which we don't have on a regular basis. Christmas morning, we had lots of cinnamon rolls, then more bacon, leftover quiche, and eggs. I didn't even have a cinnamon roll, but I did have pie on Christmas Eve. With freshly made whipped cream. oh dear, it was good.

But Christmas wasn't all about the food. It was about the people. Having most of the family here under one roof is what makes me happy. I don't get tired of it. These adults who have grown up here, reminiscing about their childhoods and Christmases past...

Part of me hates Christmas. I am an organizationally-challenged mom, and this year I didn't get enough gifts for Evelyn. Emily loved the espresso pot and espresso beans I got her, Kathryn was thrilled with a new iPod, her old one was two years old, and the sound no longer worked...none of my kids have phones until they get jobs and can pay for them, so they use iPods for texting and staying in touch with the big wide world. But anyway, the Christmas hating part: did I buy too much, not enough? I didn't get enough for Aaron, then he came over laden with gifts for the kids...and yummy chocolates for me from Trader Joe's. I always start out with my list, writing down gifts as I get them, but somehow each year I lose track of what I buy for who...and someone ends up getting lots more than the others...Mirielle didn't get much this year either. I think shopping for Secret Santa gifts throws me off, too, but we do that exchange on Christmas Eve...

Anyway, Paul thinks I buy too much, I think I buy too little, but we agree to disagree:)

I got a fitbit type of watch, but it didn't track my sleep last night, unless it was to confirm my worst suspicions: I didn't sleep at all, which is what it feels like this morning, ha. Mali got me a spiral veggie slicer, so my pasta replaced veggies are more authentic. Sam got me dark chocolate coconut cashews and two bags of Starbucks coffee, and a box of chocolates....Em got me a sweater, and two tickets to a showing of the play, "To Kill A Mockingbird".

Jonathan liked his remote controlled helicopter. They got Star Wars Monopoly, and new light sabers, and the girls got a karaoke machine with disco lights. They got baby dolls and clothes. Older kids got earbuds and headphones and coats, gloves, clothes. Kathryn passed her old iPod down, and gave Char her old Surface.

Aaron brought his dog over...Lilly, who is part lab, part demon, ha. She's actually friendly and kind, but she has more energy than the rest of us put together. She was so excited about the presents, she was always in the middle of it, running away with gifts, and shredding up the wrapping paper and cardboard for us. She finally got tired and settled down, but we didn't mind her craziness, she gets along fine with Suri, and is so funny and cute. Duke growled at her when she got up in his grill, but didn't do much more than that.

The after Christmas let-down is here...what do we do now? Not for me so much, I don't get bored. I can putter around and do whatever people need me to do, go here and there, and be fine...but some of the teenagers will need some things to keep them occupied. Maybe Joseph will take them ice skating. Samuel is going shooting this afternoon with some friends, and we might have to go pick up some glasses today. Tomorrow is a basketball game...Paul and some of the older kids are working...isn't Sam nice, home on leave from the Army and working volunteer for church? I will be home with the younger kids, maybe we'll do something fun.

We're narrowing down dates for our trip to Florida. I'm pretty excited to be driving down again, it takes 23 hours to get there, and with a van full of's extra fun.

Then March, to Norway to see Abigail and Margaret...

See, I don't have time for "complications". This pain in my side, it has to be just a harmless, benign lump of something that can be removed by a magic wand of some sort. I have places to go, kids to raise.

My family simply wouldn't survive without me. Who would know where the tape is? Who would remind Jon to brush his teeth? Who would know we need more kitty litter, dental floss, light bulbs? Who would take the time to listen to dreams and cuddle with the princesses?

I know, I know, don't cross the bridge until you come to it, don't worry about tomorrow.

But these thoughts are real, and they come. My job is to put them in perspective. I truly believe that taken properly, it's a good thing to be so conscious of one's mortality. Walking around weeping and feeling sorry for myself would be fruitless. But our lives are finite, and as much as we would choose the Live To 99 And Die In My Sleep option if we were able to fill out a form..yes, I would check that box. Maybe even Live To 110 And Die Right After The Huge Birthday Party At The Nursing Home choice.
In our society, death is to be avoided at all costs. It's not to be spoken about. It harshes the mellow. Yet it's gonna happen to the best of us. This knowledge isn't a surprise, yet it seems more surprising when one is faced with possible health challenges...we want to dig in our heels and hold on, no, not ME, I don't want to die.

Sorry, don't mean to be such a downer right after Christmas.

I just like my life, enjoy my days, and would like to live under the illusion that they will just go on and on...

And today, I have things to do. God isn't finished with me yet.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

a quick merry christmas eve post....

Oh the joy of getting up in the morning and remembering that Samuel is home for Christmas! I slept much better last night. There's not much time for sitting around, I am making quiche, cutting up fruit (cantaloupe, pineapple, kiwi, watermelon), making sausage, bacon, and cinnamon buns. 12 of the kids plus some friends will be here in a few hours, and believe me, I have work to do. I mean, there is a towel hanging on that chair, and a folded one on the arm of the couch, along with a pair of fuzzy socks. There is another sock on the coffee table, along with a few candy wrappers, two grapefruit, two coffee mugs, and Jon's new StarWars cup. The cardboard and the returnable bottles need to be taken out.

We are having a heatwave here in the Northeast, 62 degrees out. Paul is out for a walk, which I rather envy...I have so much to do, but it probably would have done me some good to go for a walk instead of sitting here writing about all I have to do.

Ah well....I will post if I hear anything from the doctor's office. If not, Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

no news is good news...i hope!

I called the doctor this afternoon, but Ashley-The-Receptionist told me they hadn't heard anything yet. Well, hurry up already. Tomorrow I will call again, and if the office hasn't had word yet, I will call the hospital and ask why the delay in reading a simple sono report.

And tonight, another night stretches before me, but I am determined not to be fearful. "Resist the devil and he will flee from you..." James 4:7 Today does have enough cares of it's own, without worry about tomorrow, or about next week. Tossing and turning in the night are not my favorites, but I will get some treasures in heaven out of all of this!

Eight kids are coming in the door from the new Star Wars movie, so goodbye again. I will post if I hear anything, and thank you for kind words and prayers!


Samuel's home! He drove all night, and surprised us! I walked into the kitchen this morning, and there he was, talking to Joseph and Jonathan. I squealed and jumped up and down like an idiot, while Sam did that Sam-smirk, pleased as heck with himself for surprising me. I knew he was coming today, but I thought I would be waiting all day for him to come, wondering and...worrying a bit about him driving alone, and traffic...but he's home for Christmas, safe and sound. And guess what? I hugged him and I cried.

I didn't sleep much last night. Unbidden thoughts pranced through my head, new ones arriving as I shooed menacing ones away. It was a full on attack of anxiety, fear, self-pity, and sadness. I kept telling those thought NO, I don't even know for sure what's wrong with me yet, so leave me alone. But I thought of the little girls having to go back to school, I thought of my chair empty, I thought of surgery and hospitals and what my kitchen would look like if I were to be really sick or worse. This pain in my lower side, the pain that drove me to call the doctor in the first place, was killing last night, while I was awake fighting those thoughts. It really hurt, and I was actually crying in the's not a fun place to be in.

I did fall back to sleep somehow, and woke with a real pounder of a headache...then found Sam in the kitchen, and realized that there is so much joy in my life, I can't give in to all the anxiety. Evelyn texted from school that there's nothing going on, and to please come get her...please. So Sam agreed to go get her, I sent a note with him, to give to the office...I hope she jumps up and down and squeals like I did when she sees it's Sam picking her up and not me.

Suri loves me, and wants to get up on my lap. She doesn't know how huge she is, and she just can't get close enough sometimes. Duke's happy with a pat on the head a few times a day, but Suri needs affection, and honestly, she's therapeutic. Depressed? Get a Lab. As I write this, she is lying there staring at me intensely, waiting for the invite to come up onto my lap. She's a 70 pound dog.

Anyhoo...I'll check in here if and when I hear anything from the doctor's office...

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

promise me you'll be okay...pinkie promise....

Camille picks up bits and pieces and knows I am going for an appointment today. A sonogram. Having been pregnant 22 times. Yes, twenty two, sixteen children, one stillborn baby Robert, and five miscarriages. So to me, a sono is synonomous ha, SONOmous with babies. With joy. Apart from the one that revealed that little Robert no longer had a heartbeat of course.

Today, it's a different story. An ovarian cyst by itself is not a biggie. Most are fluid-filled and benign. But most don't cause pain. And it's not like the cyst/tumor/growth will hold up a little sign that says, "Don't worry, I'm not going to hurt you!", or worse. No, it has to be removed to be biopsied. And that little "removal" is what gets me a bit panicky. Because cysts/tumors/growths aren't removed in five star resorts by the ocean.

And of course there's the "c" word. It's a club I have no desire to join. I think of Camille, and Char, and Jon, and Paul...and and and ...and I like it here, on earth. My sister-in-law is going with me to the appointment (heart icon), my brother just called me and asked me to go grocery shopping to like four stores tomorrow morning (heart again), and my sister offered to come with me today but she's not feeling 100% herself, so I told her no:) I have a comfy home here on earth, and am not ready to check out any time soon.

Okay, I am Miss Drama Queen, every single issue isn't a death sentence. But writing about it straightens it out in my mind. And you all can pray for me, and for the tests I am having, that if there is something that needs to be seen and diagnosed, they see it and I get the right help. Thank you:)

Monday, December 21, 2015

and it finally dawns on me....

That Christmas is um...this week. Not only that, we do our celebrating on Christmas Eve...especially this year, when all of our nurses (4) are working on Christmas Day. So on Thursday, we start with brunch...then a chipotle-style buffet in the evening.

Thursday is in like three days.

I want to have the whole house cleaned by then. The laundry caught up. A bed all made up for Sam. And cookies, lots of fresh baked Christmas cut out cookies. So I should start right in, instead of sitting here writing about it.

This morning, I wrapped some last minute presents, and finished filling the stockings. I actually have two boxes filled with paper lunch bags with their names on them...I only filled 13 this year...I'll have one of the kids label the actual stockings, and sometime between now and Christmas Eve, I'll transfer the stuff. It was just easier to fill them with the bags, because they stand in the boxes, all in age order, easy to fill with what for whom.

I swept floors and put in laundry this morning too, and took care of the puppies.

Mali and Lydia are coming over today for a visit (yay! This Grammy just loves baby Lydia!) I also plan to bake lots of cookies today. This evening, I am taking Sonja K. shopping for her secret Santa gift, and picking our friend Adrian up from the airport, he went back home to visit his family in Winnipeg (Manitoba, Canada).

Tomorrow I have the sonogram to see what's going on with the possible ovarian trouble.

So all told, I have plenty of spare time to finish all my last minute preparations. Oh yeah, I should make a list of what I will need for brunch and dinner, and food for Christmas day. And yeah, I had better shop for it, too. The most wonderful time of the year my arse, ha. Just kidding. I am bound and determined to enjoy all the nooks and crannies of the season, even though, as the Mom, it's head spinningly busy. Right now, for instance, one would never guess, to look at me sitting here with my feetsies propped up on a Little Tikes chair, that I have so much to do. I am enjoying the quiet, the dogs are snoring, the house is still and when the kids get up, their excitement will make me happy. Christmas = kids = joy.

We had a marvelous Christmas celebration at church yesterday...

Our sweet friend Liv was Santa...the kids were singing, "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town", and out she came with the bag of gifts. The youth each pick a child's name and buy gifts for the children, which is so sweet. They well remember when they were the recipients.

Camille, Charlotte Claire, friends.

We started the day with brunch...Emily made all varieties fo quiche, including some crustless for those of us avoiding carbs. There were pancakes, blueberry and chocolate chip, with whipped cream and syrup. Sausages, juice, and fruit platters. Coffee, tea, cocoa...then dinner, which was planned and prepared by our friend Mel...roast pork with stuffing, mashed potatoes, grilled asparagus...then dessert, by Emily...the best chocolate cake ever, drizzled with melted chocolate...and a white cake, dense with a hint of lemon, served with berries and whipped cream. I had a slice of each, decided to "carb up". When you avoid "junk" 95% of the time, that 5% is sooooo good.

Spending the day with good friends, sipping coffee and catching up, getting encouraged to fight our individual fights of faith in our daily lives...I can't complain.

My son Aaron is leaving in January to be a travelling nurse in California for a few months. Poor Aaron, he's going to miss the whole New York February freeze, the dismal slush of March, the snowy surprises of April...Of course, being his mom, I reminded him of a song we sing in church, "if you move somewhere new, all your cares will move too, but be good, then will all things be good..."

Yeah, so, about that cookie dough...

Sunday, December 20, 2015

only five days 'til Christmas....

Let's make this a random post today, ha, as if that's unusual.

Abigail is in Dubai. That's in the United Arab Emirates.

She took this pic yesterday.

Margaret is in Norway, land of winter.

Samuel is in Washington D.C., with weather that's breaking records, for lack of snow, and lack of cold.

He's driving home for Christmas, and I am thankful there's no snow in the forecast, at least for his trip here...his return trip, who knows.

Both of the dogs are sleeping on the couch they are not supposed to be on. They look adorable, and I am not going to disturb them.

Today is our Christmas celebration at church. Paul and Kathryn left early to help Emily with the brunch preparations. I need to get the other kids ready and get out the door, soon.

Yesterday afternoon, after a busy basketball game, I returned home with a strong desire to chill with a cup of hot coffee and my feet up. And I did for a little while, but then took Miss Char and Miss Cam on a special shopping trip. We went to the small city, so they could try to find a pretty dress to wear today. Marshall's: nothing. The thrift store: nothing, but I found an adorable pair of Carter's baby overalls for $1.99, looked like they were never worn, for Lydia. Walmart: no dresses they liked/that fit them...but we did get sparkly leggings to go with the dresses they already have and can wear but were hoping not to. If that makes sense. Now that they have leggings to go with them, they'll be fine. We picked up a little gift for Dani's brother Sean, and got a few bags of candy for our Christmas candy dish, for when Sam comes home...(and for when Aaron drops in for a visit!) I let them get a pink milk and a chocolate milk, and we had beef jerky on the way home.

Home: Wrapped a few gifts quick, put in a load of laundry (my thrift store findings), and started rolling out pizza dough. Paul and all the older kids had gone for a sound check for the music portion of the it was only the princesses and I. Zucchini sliced, rolled in olive oil, broiled, then topped with sauce, cheese, pepperoni and put back in the was MY pizza, and it was good enough.

Anyway. Life is good. I am not letting worry steal my Christmas joy. Today is a good day, and come what may next week, or after is still a good day.

Of course now I have to run around like the crazy woman that I am, to get everyone out the door on time...:)

Saturday, December 19, 2015

having that attitude....

Camille still doesn't realize how uncool it is to take selfies with Mom. I took her in for a re-X-ray of her ankle, and yes, it's still fractured, but is setting in the right way. We waited in that room for so long, trying not to look at those ugly posters on the walls of hip fractures and osteoporosis bones...the nurses' station was right outside our exam room, and I heard someone say, "Alan, don't you have patients?" Alan was the Physician's Assistant we were waiting for. I wanted to open the door and yell, "You're damn right he has patients, Alan, get in here right this minute, young man!" Yeah, it's gotten so that lots of these doctors are young enough to almost be my kids...have they gotten younger....?

Camille didn't mind the wait though. She's a sunny child.

After a quick oil change, we went to Joseph's appointment with the oral surgeon. That waiting room was nice for Cam, lots of books, coloring books and crayons...but the 24 hour news station was blaring...we don't turn our television on except for to watch something specific, then turn it off afterward...muting it during commercials. The news is just sensationalized, and annoying, I read the news of course, but...anyway, I didn't like it much...Joseph ended up having the tooth pulled right then, which I was thankful for. He's been in such agony. He's a big boy, but honestly, it doesn't matter how old they are, especially when they're hurting, I still am Mommy.:)

Then home, only to leave again with Emily to do the shopping for the Christmas celebration for Sunday. We bought stuff for a nice brunch, and to make some cakes for dessert...a white with whipped cream and berries, and a chocolate drizzled with chocolate...served with whipped cream.

Emily is fun to spend a day with. She had to get up early this morning to go in for the first shift of our fundraising concessions at the basketball game (I am leaving in like 20 minutes, why I am still sitting here is beyond me), and tomorrow she has to get up really early to start preparations for the brunch. On her weekend off. I mentioned that it stinks she can't sleep in. She just looked at me, and said, "I don't mind." What a girl. She isn't going to complain.

Looks like time is ticking and I have to get out the door....have a happy Saturday!

Friday, December 18, 2015

ah when it rains...

It pours. Not all stories are mine to tell. Joseph, my fifth born child, who is really all grown up now, the artist, has broken a molar, and has been suffering immensely. I'll spare the details, but he hasn't been able to get into the dentist...he's on the phone now trying to figure something out, after another sleepless night.

And me...well, I have been having this pain in my side on and off for quite a while. It has gotten really bad in the last few weeks. I tried my usual strategy, which is to ignore it and it will go away. When that didn't work, I procrastinated a little. When the pain flared up, like in the middle of the night, I would be all like, yes, I need to call the dr. Then in the morning, it wouldn't seem so bad, and well, I'll be fine. But the other night, I had several sleepless hours, so...I called the dr. in the morning, and there was an opening for yesterday afternoon.

My blood pressure was 124/72, and I lost another 12 pounds since early July (as per their records, I have lost a total of 76 pounds) (remember, I had lost more, was 8 pounds less than I am now, but started that dreaded re-gain....until I got serious again) But the point of the visit wasn't weight nor blood pressure, it was this pain...we decided it is probably an ovarian cyst. Which led me to schedule a sonogram at the hospital next week. It also led me to read lots of scary stuff online. So of course the thoughts minute I'm all but dead and buried, and the next I'm certain that it's just a painful cyst.

I saw a quote recently that went along the lines of...You can have faith or you can worry, but you can't do both.

God does know the beginning and the end, so why is it so hard for me not to know?

My sonogram isn't until next week, but I have to call the GYN for an appointment too. I'll be asking some questions, perhaps I can be seen earlier just in case this is more of an emergency, because sometimes it hurts quite badly. The horror stories I read into the night last night! Of things bursting! Of huge tumors! Ha, I hope if I have a tumor it's a huge-0 one and I'll instantly lose like 20 pounds. That would explain a lot, ha. But seriously, it does put things in perspective. I'm not going to Go There, I'm not going to start in on the, 'What if this is my last Christmas" garbage, but believe me, those little headlines float across the inside of my forehead.

But today, I have more pressing things to attend to. I was supposed to do the shopping for Sunday's Christmas celebration at church, with Costco, our favorite place. I have been looking forward to it all week. But Joseph is on the phone getting a referral to an oral surgeon, he's in some serious pain...okay. He's going in today...and he's not supposed to drive himself. Camille has to see the orthopedic doctor for an x-ray this morning to see how her ankle is healing, then over to the oral surgeon with Joseph. The minivan needs an oil change desperately, so we'll do that too.

I can't help but wonder that if...if my number was up sooner rather than would this machine run without me? It's a sobering thought that the world can run just fine without each and every one of us, but it would really put a damper on this house...I mean, last night, as the rest of the family was retiring to bed, I was mixing up a double batch of chocolate chocolate chip cookies for Evelyn, because I knew today was all booked up, and she needed dessert for tonight's girls' party.

Anyhoo...on to happier things. After my appointment, being all by my lonesome, I took the opportunity to stop into the craft store...I had a $10 rewards I had lots of fun for only seven dollars. Ornaments for the mini Christmas tree, which the princesses use for their dolls...a few candles, some ornaments...then I meandered into Walmart to get stuff to make fudge for our church friends. I also got a few small gifts...

Ten pounds of fudge on the kitchen table in covered containers, ready to wrap up in smaller tins for our friends. Five pounds of regular, five of mint.

So now I need to get moving and get out the door with Joseph, Jonathan, Char, and Camille. Cam needs a shower, which requires taking off her cast and holding on to her so she can balance on one foot. I can make them raisin toast to eat in the van. I also need to call the dr. for me quick before I leave. Hurry hurry hurry.

Emily, if you read this, I hope I can still go with you...after Joe's appointment, if it doesn't take too long. They might be just giving him something for the pain and scheduling him for next week. Please wait for me, I wanna go to Costco!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

each and every day....

Ho hum, another day. No, please, don't ever let that be my attitude. Never mind that it's dark and rainy. See, I had this bad dream last night...a really bad one. I was at Paul's sister's house, with a few of the kids...and I knew something bad had happened...the girls and I were trying to clean up after ourselves, and not be a burden, and my brother-in-law and sister-in-law were trying to make us feel as at home as possible, yet something was off...I finally said that I wanted to go home, and they just looked at each other. Then Emily was there, and she said, "Home is gone, Mom. The house burned down." So I asked about Paul...Daddy..., and the other kids, and she just sat there with tears streaming down her face, holding my arm tightly. In my dream, I started screaming, "No, No, No!", over and over again, and just wailing. I woke up. And vowed to never ever take a day for granted again.

Letting the dogs back in on a rainy day is a treat. I let them in first, then went for a towel. Duke's a good boy, he listened to me and just plopped down to wait, but Suri skittered after me across the floor and made me use my Not Kidding voice before she ran back and sat near the door. They love being toweled off, and neither likes taking turns. They knew it was breakfast time, too, and no matter that they have the same kind of dog food each morning, they act like they are starving and are getting a five star meal. Plus, today was a New Bag Of Dog Food Day, and they get so crazy for that, it must just smell fresher or something. These dogs are a good example of how we should behave, thankful and happy.

Two labs in the house means sweeping up piles and piles of dog hair every day. But it's totally worth it.

The princesses have their cousin Danielle here again.

Camille, Charlotte Claire, and Danielle....

We went out and about yesterday, Kim and I and these three girls...they walked around by themselves in the thrift store, it's small and we could almost see them throughout the store...we certainly could hear them, between the clacking of Cam's crutches to the silliness of their laughter...once I heard one of them say, "Come on, let's go laugh at the dresses!" Oh dear. They tried on shoes, and checked out the purses, and picked out some lovely miniature mugs for their dolls. They are all into making things for their dolls these days. They had me buy tiny little Christmas stockings in the dollar store...then last night they made a fake fireplace out of a cardboard box, and hung those stockings over them...tacks in the wall? Oh well.

I realized last night that I have absolutely no time left for mailing packages if I want them to get there by Christmas. And Christmas cards, um, what was I thinking? I think by not acknowledging how many days 'til Christmas, I was fooling myself that I had plenty of time. But guess what? The world isn't going to end if I don't get them sent.

Last evening, I spent my time in a most enjoyable way. I helped out with the four-year old group at Activity club, with Emily. Sebastian and Linnea were there, the twins I watched here for a few weeks. We sang, "On Top Of Spaghetti", and they got teary-eyed, because it is such a sad song. It was their birthday yesterday, actually...four years old!

I have to leave in a few minutes to drive Kathryn somewhere. And we have to start school...those little girls are silly in their room, having a blast, so it will be challenging....

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

blissfully unaware....

I am operating under the pretense that Christmas is still a ways off. It's nicer that way, but what a surprise I am going to be in for come next week, when I fully realize that it's actually already Christmas, and I am not done shopping yet. I haven't written my Christmas cards, and there are gifts I still have to mail. I want to buy something online, which I had better hurry and get to, or one of my kids will be getting their gift for Valentine's Day. The kids keep mentioning how many days 'til Christmas, as they hang little ornaments on their advent calendar tree, and as they exclaim about the chocolate calendar's daily surprise. I tune it out. I have absolutely no idea, at this very moment, off the top of my head, how many days there are until Christmas.

I do know that Samuel is coming home next week. So I know I have to bake lots of cookies. I know we are having everyone here on Christmas Eve, and I will have to buy lots of food. What are we having? I don't know yet. We have had Mexican food a few times and that was fantastic, so maybe we'll do that again. I should get some opinions, write a list, and see who wants to bring what.

My Christmas list...oh dear. Will they know I love them anyway? I am not a good keeper-tracker, but I have tried to write everything for everyone down on this piece of paper I keep folded up in my wallet. I have not lost this list yet this year, so yay me. I wrapped a few things yesterday afternoon, and checked them off the list...and noticed a few gaping holes next to a few names, dang it. I would feel better if I bought them all a few more things each, but that ain't happening.

Finances...I don't like to write on here about money. We aren't hurting, we have much to be thankful for. I read a quote recently that I will botch completely, but it went along these lines: When you're thankful for everything, you have more than enough, but when you're unthankful, there's never enough. I have often thought that if you are lacking, give more, and God will bless you, because that is just a law of the universe, that when you give you will receive. God wants us to trust in Him, so it is not the end of the world to be in situations where ends don't quite meet.

Worry and worry and fretting and anxiety, sleepless nights...just place your life into His keeping, and fight the good fight of faith. It rains on the just and the unjust, we all have our trials...but when we have the attitude, that know-for-certain-faith, that all things are weighed and measured just for me, that God knows just what's best for me...from waiting in long lines, to being talked back to, being ignored, forgotten, underesteemed, whatever it is for my best. Why? Because I can see my pride, I can see how I would rather be respected. I can see that I am worried, and don't trust Him enough. When I can see these things, I am humble. I am can be molded, worked with, I am not stubborn and obstinate.

Here I sit, solving all the problems of the universe, yet I have to get out the door in half an hour. I have swept and cleaned up, showered, brushed out my nice clean hair, and made a fresh pot of coffee. Now I need to get the girls up and ready, I am dropping Kathryn and Jonathan off at my brother's house for a few hours to babysit for two of his grandchildren for a bit, and going out and about with Char and Cam...picking up my sister-in-law Kim, and her daughter Danielle.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

the better to see you with, my dear....

Sonja K. and I. I think it's funny how no matter which of my kids I "selfie" with, we look alike, although my kids all look so different from each other.

To the eye doctor we went yesterday afternoon so that Kathryn and Evelyn can join the ranks of glasses wearers. The little girls had too much fun trying on all the glasses, and though it took almost two hours, we didn't get bored. Kathryn, Evelyn, Sonja, Char, and Cam did start getting hungry...

We went to Target...

Evelyn sneaked a sip...

We stopped into the grocery store quick for ice cream, a pizza to put in the oven when we got home, some store chicken to eat in the van, milk, frozen veggies, shampoo and conditioner, Christmas M&M's, and a few other equally important necessities. Camille can't walk for long periods of time on the crutches, as it hurts her hands and tires her out, plus it was pouring rain last night, so she had curbside service, and her older sisters lifting her in and out of the van. When we got home, the kitchen floor was wet from the groceries being brought in, and she slipped and fell. She cried a little and said her ankle hurt and ached, but the fall didn't hurt it, thankfully. She landed on her back on one of her crutches...I set her up on the couch all comfy, and she got to eat her pizza there when it was done. I think the whole out and about thing just wore her out.

Today, a dark and overcast rainy day. It's so cozy in here it's not funny. I spent lots of time washing up a dollhouse and lots of furniture to give to some friends of ours, for Christmas for their kids. We decided to include the driving camper, and the pop-up camper. I cleaned it all with a toothbrush, washcloth, and anti-bacterial cleaner, then rinsed the dollhouse in the tub, and the accessories in the sink. It's all dried off, and wrapped up in pretty wrapping paper. The kids won't care if it's not brand new.

So my soldier son Sam is coming home for two daughters who are in Norway are not coming home. Margaret is spending Christmas with a Norwegian family, and Abigail is traveling to Dubai to celebrate with the family of a girl she has gotten to know in Norway. Benjamin, Ashley, and Anya are not coming home for Christmas, because they are planning to come for the cabin in the woods in June again next year, and travelling from Washington state is expensive.

My three real school girls are home now, and it's busy. I have this mindset that I am simply not very busy anymore because I am on what I think of as the "downside" of having sixteen kids....I was on the upside, the climbing up side, for years and years, nursing and changing diapers and cleaning up messes and going to bed at night with the house as messy as it was when I woke up in the morning, despite trying to clean it up, in fits and starts between three meals, snacks, appointments, and laundry. I never got ahead. While I was cleaning the bathroom, they would be messing up the kitchen. I would wash bedding, they would wet the bed. The laundry room doorway had an actual laundry mountain, I am not kidding.

So these days it's hard to think of myself as being "busy". I have time to write. I can go to the bathroom any old time I want, without making the big decision of whether it's better to announce I am going and risk having a child cry and want to come with me, or sneak down the hallway and just hope they don't notice Mommy's gone and decide it's a good time to play in the baby powder. I don't have to pack bottles and diapers, sippy cups and snacks, every time I go out the door. I now make dinner without little hands tugging my skirts and little arms begging to be scooped up. The cereal doesn't get dumped out.

Life is simpler. I am less busy. But I am busier than I think I am, the days never have enough time in them. The house is sometimes cleaner when I go to bed than it was when I got up in the morning, and I have time to shave my legs, but with four teenagers in the house, and four other kids (one older, three younger), I find enough to do. And right now, I have to talk to some kids, and start in on dinner....

Sunday, December 13, 2015

have you watered the tree?

oops, I totally forgot. Mr. Jonathan is the self-proclaimed tree waterer, albeit a forgetful one. He is on it now though.

Ah, Christmas. I have made cut out cookies three times now, two of the butter/sugar, and one of gingerbread. Last night I had a few...I figured if I was carbing up, I might as well just eat some, because they are going fast. I couldn't freeze any because our freezer is full of venison. I could have fit a few in, I suppose, but I'll just make more before Samuel gets home. Anyway, those cookies are GOOD.

Today, I was good. No cheating, just good healthy food. It's not easy to navigate through life avoiding sugar, but for me, it's necessary. I tell myself all sorts of things to help me stay on the straight and narrow..., like that I have managed for these months, I can manage more months. And it hasn't killed me. I remind myself that even if I have only lost about 20 pounds since the beginning of May, it was part of that roll above the waistband of my jeans. And I don't want that back. Not that it's gone, bit it is a little smaller. And smaller is good. I tell myself that my hot flashes are mostly gone, I am convinced that eating low carb, higher fat keeps them at bay...I tell myself that diabetes is a gateway illness that leads to all sorts of ailments like heart disease. Sugar = trouble, for me.

But the M&M's and the Reese's Peanut Butter Christmas Trees and the cut out cookies and the fudge...they beckon me, try to entice me. And it hasn't killed me yet to resist.

I do try to "carb up" at least once a week, sometimes twice. But those carbs should be relatively healthy...I usually just have popcorn popped in coconut oil. Rice or sweet potatoes are good choices. Not stacks of cookies. :) But occasionally on the carb night I will have a few cookies or something I normally don't eat, knowing that it is only that night, and the next morning I am back on track.

Anyway. I have lots of people on my Christmas list. Paul, Emily, (not Abigail, she's getting a gift when I visit here in Norway in March), Ben and Ashley and Anya, Mirielle, Joseph, Aaron, Mali and baby and Zac, Samuel, (not Margaret, she's also getting something when I visit here in March), Kathryn, Evelyn, Suzanne, Sonja, Jonathan, Charlotte Claire, Camille, my mother-in-law, our friend Adrian who is coming here for Christmas, and something for all my church friends....I have ordered, shopped, wrapped, and half-arsedly kept track of everything. I basically think I'm done, but I will issue my disclaimer again this year: if your sister got more than you, just remember it's not because mom loves her more than she loves you, it's because Mom just got befuddled and lost track of what she got for whom. And if you happened to get more than your sister, share with her for goodness sake, and don't think you are extra special, although you certainly are.

I tried. Aaron's right, that would be perfectly fitting to put on my tombstone.

"Here lies Della
Mother, Friend, Wife
She Tried
Every Day of Her Life"

Or just,
"She Tried."

ha. It's so insulting but so fitting at the same time.

We watched our little sunshine today....Miss Lydia.
With Miss Evelyn Joy...

Christmas time brings it's share of pressures and trials and stresses. The baking and shopping and wrapping and remembering are enough, but then there is other real life, like eye doctor appointments (two tomorrow afternoon), and now a few orthopaedic appointments for Camille. And of course the grocery shopping and cleaning and doing our schoolwork each day. I look after Davian most days (which I love!), and Lydia sometimes (which I also love!), so I never ever get bored. I am working hard not to let holiday stress get it's claws into me. There is the spirit of Always More. More gifts, so they will be more pleased.

Here's something fun...we have lots of dollhouses and a whole collection of Little Tikes but mostly Fisher Price Dream dollhouse furniture. We decided to give a house and lots of accessories to a family we know with lots of small children, for Christmas. It makes me happy to know kids are going to get pleasure from these things I love so much, and it's good for me to let them go. Because believe me, I love these sounds crazy, but I didn't buy all of it just because my kids like it:)

Here's something not exactly fun, but interesting...our church youth group is selling wreaths for a fundraiser, for building churches and spreading the gospel, with a small portion going to fund activities for the children's, Sonja went with her cousin and an older friend, and they met an old man. This old man said he would like to buy a wreath, then proceeded to tell them that his wife had just passed away. Today, she died today. He was very sad, and seemed quite lonely. They went and bought him a card and some flowers. Who knows, maybe he has dementia and his wife died ten years ago, but so what. They made him happy. He blessed them, and they blessed him.

I took my walk today. I am trying like crazy to move more these days. It's nice to go on walks in this warm weather! Tomorrow, it's supposed to hit 65 here! In New York, in December! We simply have to go out to a park or something,'s not easy with Camille on crutches, but perhaps we can figure something out...because snow is in the forecast for next weekend.

my handsome husband....

We went to a Christmas concert, and it was so incredibly nice...then for a gathering at our friends' house after...a little wine, a few cookies, some chocolate...I took a night off from watching everything I eat...tomorrow, back to normal. And...goodnight!

Friday, December 11, 2015

never a dull moment #emergencyroom

The day was going along just fine...we had finished lunch and were planning on going for a walk to enjoy the unseasonably mild weather. The kids went out to the trampoline...the trampoline that Paul did not want. Remember when I brought it home? How thrilled he wasn't? I had forgotten how much he hated our old trampoline. He said I should have talked to him about it first, and he's right, I should have. But I wasn't thinking (it was on sale, I paid for it, and was rather proud of myself that we put it together all by ourselves) I knew, just knew that something would happen... so it was no big surprise to me when I heard that distinct cry...the one every mom knows...the one that isn't just a No Fair It Was My Turn. It was that I'm Hurt cry. I ran out the front door with Kathryn, took one look at Camille's ankle, already swollen up, and said, "We're going to the hospital, she broke her ankle."

But Cam is a sweetie...she took the whole thing quite well...

And you know Paul, he's not one to hold a grudge...the whole thing is rather humorous, except for the fact that Camille is lying on the couch with her crutches leaning against it...

We ARE getting rid of the trampoline though.

Anyway...was we waited for the results of the x-rays, Kathryn and Camille started in about McDonalds. We were there for three hours, waiting in that room, so they had lots of time to look forward to nuggets and milkshakes. Cam's going to want to break her ankle more often, she got a large chocolate milkshake...that's not on the dollar menu.

Anyway you moms out there, keep your hair clean, and your gas tank full, if you have kids because you never know when you'll end up in the emergency room....

Thursday, December 10, 2015

'tis the season to be jolly....

My three youngest, and Davian. This Santa was so kind, he asked the children if they knew about the very first Christmas gifts...from the wise men to the baby Jesus...he also asked them what they wanted for Christmas...they all said they didn't know what they wanted, except for Davian, who said, "I want ALL the planets!"

Camille and Davian, Evelyn, Kathryn, Jonathan, Charlotte Claire...

Only eleven thousand dollars!

Miss Char and Miss Cam are getting too big too fast...but they are still enjoying the Christmas season...

They are still small enough to delight in it all.

Well, sort of small...Jonny is 11 and a half, and...well, wah.

Cam, Davian, and Char...

We explored the mall without spending any money, then went to a Chinese restaurant for some lunch specials. Then to the dreaded grocery store...we live far enough from the stores that it's smart to fit it in when we're out anyway...we needed kale and broccoli and bananas and milk and almond milk and frozen veggies and canned veggies and baking supplies...we were pretty quick, because small children don't really like grocery shopping...we just went around the edges:)

Today is Aaron's birthday.
He's one of my favorite children, my adventurous son. This is from a wonderful day a year ago, when we were out in Seattle Washington to visit Benjamin. We had taken the ferry across the Puget Sound, and walked in the rain to a little coffee shop, shared a huge molasses cookie and had some good hot coffee. That night we went out to dinner with Ben, Ashley and little Anya, to a Mexican restaurant, and oh the fun we had...I don't see Aaron as much as I would like to, and he is applying to do some traveling nursing (he's an R.N.) in California for a few months. Maybe I'll win the lottery, and be able to visit him.

Our weather is simply not typical December weather...sunny skies, and going into the 50's today. We are planning a bike ride, of all things. We should be going sledding, ha. The kids are taking advantage of me sitting here on the computer,they are playing Minecraft, which is absolutely not allowed during the school day, bad mom award. I just gave them the five minute warning, so I have to behave too and get moving on school.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

I'll be home for Christmas...

You can count on me....

I'll be home for Christmas....

He called me today...and you know, your son in the Army calls and says all seriously, "Mom." And THIS mom thinks, "Oh no, what's wrong!" But he was just trying to contain his excitement that his leave packet was accepted, and YES, barring anything unforseen, he is coming home for Christmas!!! It's been two years since he's been home for Christmas. My Sammy, coming home. I can't even contain my excitement. You know that story that Jesus told about the man who had 100 sheep? One was lost so he left the other 99 to go find the one...well, I know what that's like. Who knew a mom could LOVE so many children, so deeply, so much, each one...? We can have a house full, and I can still be knowing who is missing. Sam is so well loved here, when he's here, it MAKES it.

Now don't get me started on missing Abigail and Benjamin, Ashley, and Anya, and Margaret. Don't even get me started. But. I am still very thankful that Samuel gets to come home.

Not that it's been forever since we have been all together...last June every last one of my kids was able to make it up to the cabin in the woods...

And that was pretty heavenly.

Anyhow, it made my day...then Aaron stopped in for a visit. The day after tomorrow is his birthday, so I gave him his present, a package of Starbuck's coffee and a travel mug. I also made cookies....

Do you have any idea how hard it is to make these and not eat them? Especially when Kathryn brought me a steaming mug of pumpkin spice coffee while I was frosting them? Such is my lot in life....

And now I have meatballs in the oven, probably done. Someone needs to make the pasta, and the sauce, and set the table. Lest you ask where my helpers are, I'll tell you...Joseph is very busy working on stuff...Kathryn and Evelyn are working at the basketball game, Suzanne is doing homework, and Sonja fell asleep...I keep texting her...I don't appreciate when they come home from school and fall asleep, but she got upset with one of her sisters, and went and got into bed. I wish I could do that, ha. Jonathan already helped me clean up the cookie mess, took out the garbage, and helped Char clean the bathroom this afternoon, now he's allowed to play video games since we are done with school for the day...the little girls are all done with school too, and are playing in their room. It's all quiet and lonely here in the living room, Paul's not home from work yet. Me with my huge family! Ah well, there will still be eight of us for dinner....

too much shopping...

With Miss Sonja K.

Fitting in a shopping trip with the girls proves to be difficult sometimes, what with them having so many evening activities. Yesterday we were watching the twins here in the afternoon, but Evelyn Joy insisted she didn't need anything from anywhere, so she would be the babysitter. She said she looked forward to it all day at school. I hated to leave, those twins were so cute coming in and exclaiming over the "puppies" and the Christmas tree...Sebastian said to me, "Remember we had a sleepover?", as he sat on my lap giving me a nice hug. Considering that they were here for 10-12 days, yeah, I do remember. And I love them. They want to bring their blankets again, and I say, do it!

Anyway. We wrested ourselves away from their cuteness and left them with Jon, Char, Cam, Ev, and Joseph...ha. We stopped at the library to drop off books and pick up one Paul had ordered. We went to the dreaded mall. First stop, DressBarn. What an unfortunate name for a store! Dress Barn, where all the cows and pigs come to get dresses. This cow tried on a dress, it was lovely (and a size 14!), and it was on the 70% off rack. But it rang up only 50% off. So I embarrassed the daylights out of my four teenagers when I told the lady I would think about it and maybe be back later. I liked it, but for that price, didn't love it. Then to Sears. My girls don't much like Sears, nor do I, but I thought they might just find the dressy clothes they needed for the Christmas concert...they tried some things on, but nah...I tried on five dresses and ended up buying one.

Old Navy. We got a few people crossed off our shopping lists, and the girls found themselves some good stuff...nothing like knowing your own Christmas gifts, but it's better than me buying them stuff they won't wear. And they are good shoppers, I'm talking shirts for $2.97 and $5.00. A few more stores in there and we were all malled out...I did see what I want for Christmas though...
Two yellow lab pups in line to get their pictures taken with Santa! They weren't for sale...I was the only one who would have liked to stay and watch their photo shoot.

Next, food. The girls were starving, and I was hungry too, even with my avocado/kale/coconut milk smoothie with berries. They were thinking McDonalds, I suggested Chipotle, where I can get a salad with chicken...and lots of fresh salsa, and the cooked peppers and onions...yum. We still went to McDonalds, because Suze wanted nuggets:)

Then to Burlington Coat Factory, to try on more clothes for the concert...we had a little luck...Evelyn was texting me saying Camille missed me and wanted to know when I would be home. Then to Target for leggings and a dress for Sonja and some Christmas presents for their secret Santas, ect. Then a quick run in to the grocery store for more avocados, bananas, bread, and lettuce.

Home. Home, where I check my email after putting things away and notice that my Target order from earlier in the day, which had gotten messed up and stuck and froze...had gone through after all. I hope only once this time...last year, I had a problem, and the same order shipped seven times, charging our card over and over again...I had to go return all the stuff quickly. It seems this one only went through once...but I bought some of those items in the store last night, thinking the order didn't go through...more returns I guess.

I feel like I am done with shopping now. We spent too much last night, even though we carefully considered each item, and I put things back left and right. It adds up so quickly, and with so many on my list, ugh.

Anyhow. Home today, and it's cozy in here with Camille on the arm of my chair...she misses me so goodbye for now...

Monday, December 7, 2015

and good morning happy monday!

A party with these girls, as my teenagers would say. "These girls", my friends, are more special than can be articulated. We are different, yet this describes us perfectly: "Behold how good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity."(Psalm 133)

Emily's house was warm and welcoming, although she hadn't gotten around to decorating for Christmas yet. She's a busy girl, going to school and working full time as a nurse. Mirielle is doing the same thing, she's so busy she didn't even join the party...homework was due!

We got our Christmas tree. Sonja K. is 13, and she has ideas of what a tree should look like. She's thinking sleek, a nice color scheme, white lights...I like colored lights, lots and lots of them, with a whole assortment of ornaments we have collected through the years. She says it looks awful, I think it's beautiful. It looks like it's always looked. Maybe next year I'll let her do it how she wants, if she still wants to. That's the thing, sometimes I don't think things through. It wouldn't have hurt me to let her just do it all up differently, but I was set and determined. Old and stubborn, that's me.

We had quite a crew for dinner last night, 16 of us at the table. 17, counting Lydia. Our internet is so slooowww, so I cannot post the adorable pictures. We had roast pork, which had marinated in lemon juice and olive oil with Jamaican jerk seasoning, rice with lime and cilantro (and butter!), fresh broccoli, mini peppers, and mixed vegetables. And for dessert: lots of leftover treats from the bazaar, fudge and chocolate dipped oreos...almond joy fudge, and chocolate dipped wafer cookies...and chocolate dipped peppermint patties.

This afternoon I am going to fit in a trip to the dreaded mall with some of my girls, between school and their youth meeting tonight. They have things going on every night of the week, and this coming weekend is a huge church Christmas concert. They are supposed to have nice clothes, as they are singing in it. Plus, a few of them want/need jeans, and haven't had any luck finding them at the thrift stores, so the mall it is. I have sixteen kids plus some close friends on my Christmas list, and there are still blanks next to some of their names. Since I am going to Norway in March, I think I will just bring Abigail and Margaret their presents then, instead of spending so much on shipping gifts overseas. Now it seems like Samuel might not make it home for Christmas, he put in for leave and hasn't heard yet:( The poor kid hasn't been here for Christmas in two years. So I had better send him something soon because it takes a while this time of year.

There's a Christmas song, "All I Want For Christmas Is You", and I can relate. I don't want/need anything for Chrismas, except for maybe getting my hot tub fixed, but that is getting old, asking for that. It just ain't gonna happen. But anyway, I don't want anything. I hate the stress of shopping and trying so hard to find the balance of not overspending, and yet making everyone happy. I have Paul on one end of the spectrum, Paul who works hard and pays the bills and thinks the kids only need like one or two things, and then I have the kids who are happily expectant of a merry Christmas which includes that pile of gifts...then me in the middle, trying to please them all. I am okay with getting the older kids just a few little things, but the teenage girls, and the little kids...? Just because there are a lot of them doesn't mean they shouldn't get that pile of gifts.

We were supposed to get up and go to the pool this fine morning, but I wimped out. The chilly overcast rainy frost-coated morning called for hot coffee and a blanket, not rousing the homeschoolers out of their warm beds to get their bathing suits packed. The little girls had their cousin overnight for three nights...they stayed up way too late and got up way too early, so they NEEDED to catch up. Jonathan had a friend over Saturday night, and when I got home from my party, I checked in his room, they were playing video games and eating Ramen 12:30 in the morning. So yeah, I let them sleep in this morning.

It's chilly in here. My coffee gets cold in my cup before I finish it, and my cold fingers are making mistakes on the keyboard. My feet are under a blanket, and don't want to touch the floor and put those clothes in the dryer. Our tree is all lit up...Jonathan is reading about Pearl Harbor, as it's the anniversary of the bombing by the Japanese, thus our entrance into WWII. Camille is playing with the Playmobil Christmas set while Jon reads her little snippets.

Charlotte Claire is still sleeping, Kathryn is working on school, and Joseph is working on an art project. The coffee pot has more pumpkin spice coffee, and the space heater is humming that sleepy hum. Do I HAVE to get up and get busy? Can't I just sit here a while longer?

Oh...I wandered off from a point I was trying to make, big surprise there, but I don't want anything for Christmas...I just want the kids here, and I want my kids to be happy. And I want a nice warm sunshine-y getaway with Paul, ha. Oh believe me, if I started in on wanting things, I am sure I could find a good sized list. Warm new boots, and my coat is two years old, (it was THREE dollars on the clearance rack a few years back, in the spring time. THREE DOLLARS.) New jeans, and a few scarves, and a diamond ring, and a puppy. Ha, kidding not kidding. I really don't want anything. I think the most important thing we can have is an appreciation for what we already have. And a thankfulness for our days, our spouses, our kids, or parents, or friends.

Saturday, December 5, 2015


It was too much work for too little money, but it was nice to be out in the community and see some people I haven't seen in a while. The little girls enjoyed it, for a while anyway...being at the bazaar. Will we do it again? No. But ask us when we forget a bit about how much time and effort we put into it. It WAS fun.

And, there is leftover fudge, which my teenage daughters are raiding.

Tonight, I am going to a party! I rarely get to to to parties, so yay yay yay! It's at Emily's house, which is also Mirielle's house, in town. I am bringing a big bag of pistachio nuts, some mini peppers, and some leftover fudge.

And no surprise, I feel guilty. I was gone all day, never mind that I had the younger girls with me, I still felt the pull of home. Now I am leaving all these kids with Daddy and going out to be with the 25 and up girls:) I took a trip to the small city between the bazaar and home, even though it's out of the way, to buy chicken wings to make for dinner before I leave, you know, appeasing the conscience and all, but guess what? The daughter who was with me grabbed two 10 pound bags of boneless skinless chicken breast instead of wings...and this mom didn't notice until I opened the bag and poured it on the baking sheet and...what? So they are having chicken, fresh rolls, and veggies.

Ah well. Life is good.

Friday, December 4, 2015

friday again already...not that I mind, but slow down, life!

Camille and I on our little outing yesterday...

Okay. Life is going by too fast. I want to stop and enjoy it. Here's one way I have started to to the evenings, when my teenage girls gather in the living room, I put away my phone or my laptop, and look right at them, and talk to them. I hug them when they walk by and tell them they are cute, or sweet, or how much I appreciate them. It's so easy to parent on autopilot, nagging about who left what where. Did you do your homework? Brush your teeth? Leave your clothes in the dryer? Oh, and the orders I can bark out, not even thinking how I would feel if someone wanted me to do something RIGHT NOW.

But to stop a minute, and think about be appreciative of the moments, because this IS LIFE. It isn't all preparing for Christmas, or preparing them for adulthood, or getting things ready for the bazaar. THIS IS LIFE. To live with no regrets isn't living for myself, it's living with an awareness of how I am to people, and being kinder and more patient, maybe even doing nice things for people instead of just thinking of me me me.

We can't seem to keep our dogs off the couch. They have the leather one they are allowed on because it is easy to wipe down...but they like the other couch because they want to be next to their friends. They thrive on being next to peoples. I wash the couch covers a few times a week. And guess what? I am the number one perpetrator, because they look at me with those cute little faces and want to be pet and cuddle.

Anyway. Paul and I are taking some of the younger kids to Florida this winter to visit his mom, and we are so excited about it. We haven't picked the dates yet as it has to be fit in with Paul's travel schedule for work, and we haven't picked which kid can't go yet, as we can only fit seven in the van:), and 8 of us want to go. Can we double buckle for a few thousand miles? Oh dear. Anyway. We're thinking of staying for a day or two at the ocean...oh warm sand and sunshine, I love thee. It's only the beginning of December,and beach weather already seems like a distant memory.

Davian is coming over soon, and I have things to do, and kids to teach, and clothes to wash, and and and...

Thursday, December 3, 2015


Lydia she not cute? This picture just makes me smile.

So this morning we are taking a little trip to a Mennonite fabric store, where they sell bulk spices and candy and sprinkles and and and...fabric, of course. I need cream of tartar to make more batches of gingerbread playdough, and haven't found it in lots of other stores. So I NEED to go there, ha. It's a wonderful little store with all sorts of interesting things...

Camille is excited to go and is picking out her own clothes. So far she has a frilly pink skirt, a white blouse with black hearts on it, and a peach colored top to go under it. Now she is picking out leggings to go with it. Um, I don't know if there are leggings in this world that will pull that outfit together, but she has some florescent pink ones that she thinks are darling. I said fine, just change the peach colored shirt to a pink or black one.

Jon is feeling a bit better now, his temperature is 99.3. He's going to stay here and chill with Joseph and Kathryn.

Anyhow...I have tons of things to do:)

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

ahhh, comfy chair....

Can you stand another boring day recap? Here goes...

1. Up and out the door by 8:15 to my brother's house, to babysit for two of his grandchildren for a few hours with Kathryn. My oldest daughter Emily had Jonathan, Char, and Cam at her house for an overnight, so it was a teeny bit hard for me to leave knowing I could be working on bazaar stuff and wrapping presents with no little kids home. But, I enjoyed little Mimi and baby S.

2. Davian came to my brother's house, and then back home with me. He stayed here with Kathryn while I ran to the post office to pick up packages, although Joseph had picked them up while I was at my brother's. Then to the dollar store, Big Lots, Walmart, AND BJ's...hurrying home to sweep up and do the morning work I never got eat some brekky/lunch...

3. Then out the door to work at the basketball game. I was not thrilled to be the money manager. I don't like change, I don't like new things, and I didn't want to do it. I had to go to the money meeting, and I couldn't figure out how to lock and unlock the money bag. But I figured it out, and it was fine. We had to stay until well after the game was over, and the traffic was horrific. And...Jonathan had been texting me while I was working, telling me he was sick...his temperature was 99.5...then 100.5...and he feels awful. I also felt awful, not being home when my little guy is sick. But Daddy was here with them:)

4. I walked 4.14 miles today, according the ap on my phone.

5. Tomorrow I have lots of stuff to work on for the bazaar, and it's supposed to snow, so I hope I get to stay home.

6. Emily had the three youngest overnight, then she took the shopping for their secret santa gifts, and then took them for Chinese food and sushi. I am so extremely thankful for my older kids and how they bless the younger ones.

7. I don't want to tell them how much I miss them because I don't want them to get homesick, but I miss Abigail and Margaret so much. A year is a long time to be away from your daughters. I am thankful I am going to see them both in March!

8. I am at the Too-Tired-To-Get-Up-And-Go-To-Bed stage right now. I am so so tired. Partly because Duke is such a jerk. Ha, I like saying that because an old dog like Duke...he's nothing but goodness on four wobbly arthritic legs, and calling him a jerk...just makes me laugh. But I wasn't laughing at 4:00 this morning when he started that intermittent woofing. I knew he had to go to the bathroom, so I got up and he wobbled right to the door, wagging his tail...of course Suri had to go too, and they stayed out there for like ten minutes, finding the right places and sniffing around. It was pouring rain, so I had to get two towels and wipe them down when they came back in, and they were deliriously happy because they thought it was morning! Breakfast! Petting! Oh happy! No way. I told them to lie down, and I headed back to bed. It was NOT morning yet. Ah well. I tossed and turned but was happy to get back into my warm comfy bed anyway.

9. I am excited about Christmas. We are getting our tree on Sunday. I hope we have lots of lights that actually work. I hate doing the light untangling and the messing with the bulbs to get strands of them to work. 1st world probs, eh?

10. Tonight I got to spend lots of time working with my friend Angela. She is the most compassionate and thoughtful friend...she has 8 kids, and her husband is an 8 year cancer of the esophagus survivor, who has also had cancer re-appear in a few places, and had had different treatments, ect. If you are a praying person, pray for her, and her husband, and their family. Their kids are absolute gems. Their little boy Toby is Jonathan's bestie, he is so sweet and kind, he's a marshmallow. He has no guile. Anyway, I enjoyed my time with Angela...

Sorry...I am tired, and can't think straight...the house is quiet but no, I can't write...ha.