summer 2011

summer 2011

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

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

Thursday, January 29, 2015

just go outside!!!

It's nice out today. 22 degrees (-5.5c). No wind, it's not sunny, but hey, it's not snowing. It's that time of day when, after doing school work for some hours, they are starting to get antsy. So I shooed them out the door. I don't care if you aren't finished with your letter to Sam, just go. I didn't have to tell Jon twice, he happily set aside his curriculum book and got his snowpants on. It's good for the puppies too, they like to go romp around in the snow.

Today was Report Card Day. I keep them simple, trying to satisfy the requirements of New York state, while not getting into much detail. I know my kids are growing and thriving and learning, but I have to assure the government that they are, too. Can't have them just plain enjoying childhood. Anyway, I felt a tiny bit evil, but in Jonathan's summary on Health class, I added that he has been learning about the dangers of sitting too much. Sometimes when we have been sitting here doing work, I get up and make them all join me, dancing around like idiots for a few minutes.

We went out and about yesterday. Thrift store, where we found a glow-in-the-dark solar system to hang in the girls' room, a Nerf gun, two new Star Wars books, a beautiful London Fog winter coat for Charlotte Claire, a Columbia winter coat for one of the older girls ($4.50!)....a quick stop in the store for two things we forgot in the previous day's shopping trip, and fifty dollars later, we were headed home.

Miss Cam in Target...

I made chicken for dinner, lots of it, so it would last for some lunches. Boneless chicken breast, and boneless thighs, at $1.99 a pound, much cheaper than lunch meats and more healthy. We have lots of romaine and fresh spinach, so they can eat salads with chicken. They also had tomato soup, and some grilled cheese sandwiches. I had a bowl of steamed broccoli with my chicken. I can get through the day pretty well without eating anything bad, but resolve melts, until I am getting into bed of course, and I find myself promising that Tomorrow Will Be Better. But I have been good the last few evenings, and it shows on the scale. My basic diet is good and healthy, it's important for me to just stay away from the extras.

A hot cup of tea is always a good thing in the evening, for me, with just a splash of milk and no sugar. But oh, chocolate goes so well with tea...

And there it is.

Anyway. Samuel was in the coolest presentation/ceremony yesterday! I watched it live on It was the retirement ceremony for the Secretary of Defense. Prez and V. Prez were there, and stood up while the armed forces marched by in full dress dear Sam being in the Old Guard and representing the Army. The video is on youtube....I am going to have my girls who are heading to Florida tomorrow show it to their Grandma, so she can see how handsome Samuel is all decked out.

I talked to Sam last evening. I like to brag about him. I mean, he had a hard time with Infantry boot camp, struggling with those push-ups. But he is an excellent soldier. He has been given responsibility for his group of guys (platoon) a few times, and his Sgt. frequently refers to him as an example of how to do things. It's because Sam is so focused on doing well, and enjoys what he's doing. He is being promoted next week, to Private First Class, which isn't a huge deal, but he's excited about it. He is working hard to practice for his Excellence Infantry Badge, which IS a big deal. Before this kid left for the Army, he would go on runs, and come home after only ten or fifteen minutes, huffing and worn out. He now can go on ten mile rucks with a heavy pack, no problem. He is a "sharpshooter", and...well, I am just proud of him.

The good thing about Sam though is that he is still Sam. He misses the little kids so much. He calls sometimes and talks to everyone in the house. He laughed his head off last night at Joe's story...:

When we were all gone yesterday, Joseph came out of his room and found Suri, the black lab, napping comfortably...ON TOP OF THE KITCHEN TABLE. There next to her was the pancake plate....totally empty, licked clean. Jonathan had made a huge batch of pancakes, which we forgot to put away. oops. Suri ate them ALL.

Sam misses the dogs as much as he misses us peoples.

Miss Char talking to Sam....

Aaron came to visit last evening. He is working hard, and taking classes to get his Bachelor's in nursing. After that, he wants to go to school to be an anesthesiologist, or an NA, because I can't spell Nurse An...blah blah blah.

Today is Margaret Cheryl's very last day of high school!!!!! My ninth child, graduating from high school. She is graduating early, January instead of June. She is leaving tomorrow for Florida for a little vacation with Grandma, with Emily and Mirielle.

I'll try not to be too jelly, as Kap would say.

I have no complaints though, I am going on a little get-away myself, to a hotel with some of my very best friends for the night tomorrow.

Then Saturday, the Harlem Globetrotters come to the Dome! Yes, I am working. Life is not boring, that's for sure.

And now, I have laundry to fold and floors to sweep.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

how long is this gonna take?

Camille, sprawled out on the floor in Evelyn's room in her big baggy Disney World sweatshirt, her heart pajama pants, and Hello Kitty slippers...lying on the floor next to the heater, on this 9 degree morning. She was hurrying me along, as I stretched and did push-ups and lifted my ten pound dumbbells. She had plans with her mama, and this was no fun.

But I held firm, and tried to ignore her cute little self. Then the dogs started barking furiously, oh joy, the UPS man. Whatever. I collected my phone and glasses and slippers, and called it a day.

So Camille's question is a good one. How long is this gonna take? I lost 70 pounds, gained back a little more than 20, and am still working. How long is it gonna take? The answer depends on how much effort I put in to it, I suppose. But then the deeper question, can I be happy on the journey? I have this thing, this subconscious thought, that when I finally finally get thin, I will be ecstatic. I will just be so full of joy. Things will be easier. I can just picture myself so free and light and toned. It can happen, I know that. But I can also win the lottery, ha. And believe me, I know my trials and troubles won't magically melt away:)

Anyway. Here I am in my chair with my coffee, all showered, while the kids lounge on the couches with their school books.

Cousin Danielle decided she wanted to go home last night, after they were all tucked into bed. She said she didn't feel well. I went into their room to try to talk her into just going to sleep and going home in the morning, but she was sitting there with a bowl. Um, okay, I'll call your mom.

While we waited for her mom, she chatted up a storm, and seemed fine, but who knows. I told her I remember what it was like to be little and not feel well and want to be home with my mommy.

So Char and Camille moved into my nice big comfy bed when Dani went home.

And I slept better than I have in days.

In fact, I looked at my phone when I woke up, and it was....9:26. wow.

Cam and I snuggled for a bit, and planned our meals for the week. It's easy to get into a rut with meals. In the fall, it's like, YAY, we can have more soups and roasted veggies and those cold weather comfort foods. But with January winding down, it gets old. Fresh garden veggies sound heavenly. Chicken on the grill, oh yum. Corn on the cob, zucchini. I want taco salad and chicken fajitas. Grocery store tomatoes though, blah.

Anyway, we are going to the library, then the grocery store. Seriously, happiness is having a huge stack of library books, just waiting to be read. And having food in the 'fridge, knowing what's for dinner...oh bliss.

Off we's ten degrees now, but the sun is shining here while the blizzard pounds away at the coast....

Monday, January 26, 2015

coffee coffee coffee.....

This is what I look like before my coffee in the morning...

This stuff is good. No, I am not getting paid to say it. It is too pricey to drink every day, but today was a special day. Monday. Monday morning, after another night of not nearly enough sleep. Just opening the bag of this and taking a deep sniff is yum. mmm, yum.

We have had a flu thing going around here. It starts with a sore throat and a stomach ache, and your eyes ache...I know, isn't that a strange symptom? But it has been reported by quite a few of the kids, and I have experienced it too. I feel like I have been just fighting it off for days. Friday night I felt so awful I was certain I was not going to be able to drive Paul to the airport on Saturday. But on Saturday I was fine. Then Saturday night I felt so awful, I thought I was going to be in bed all day Sunday. Again, not true.

Now my chest sort of aches, like it does when I go on the treadmill for too long and start huffing. I feel like gravity is pulling me down with all it's might, and like gravity is winning. My temperature is only 96.5, which is normal for me. So today, I am taking it easy. I have swept floors and washed dishes and put in a load of towels, and matched some socks. I puttered around a little here and there, taught the kids about possessive plurals, and read the entire Sunday paper. I helped the girls get dressed to go outside, and landed back in my chair. Perhaps today if I listen to my body and take it easy, I will get better faster.

The dogs just came in all covered with snow. It is only 12 degrees out there (-11c). brrr.

Kathryn requested a trip to the library today to return books, but I assured her that I renewed online, so we don't really have to go today. She still has plenty of work to do with the books she has.

Cousin Danielle is with the little girls, she spent the night. They played school in their room before they went out to play. That counts, right?

They are just too cute. Miss Suri and her face! Duke is so tired.

They were outside with the girls for a while, so now they're tired.

Those little girls lasted quite a while out there. They sledded down the slide on sleds and made a little fort. Now they need some tea and cocoa, and a brownie. Today they learned one important thing: It's more fun to homeschool.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

fun and friends...

Kim and I....

I don't know if I can explain how much fun we had this weekend.

It was so nice to have the time with my friends, some of us decided that this coming weekend will be perfect for our randomly chosen next hotel night. 5 or 6 or 7 of us will get together and oh dear, do we have a nice time. The pool, the hot tub, some laughs and of course some encouragement for each other. Life isn't always easy, and we aren't getting any younger. We need each other, we friends.

It is really cold tonight, around zero. It is chilly in this house, too. I have socks and slippers on, and a blanket over me, and my feet are still cold. Winter may be sparkling and pretty, but it has been long enough, thank you. I guess that's why spring is so glorious, and summer....oh I do love me some summer. Just thinking about going barefoot in the garden, picking cherry tomatoes and eating them, all warm from the sun, never mind that Duke sometimes follows me around the garden, stopping here and there and lifting his leg. blah. Anyway. Summer. What a thought.

I made some really good chicken soup for dinner tonight. From the two whole chickens I roasted the other day, I saved all the nice gravy/broth/pan drippings, added some water, lots of chicken, then later some sliced carrots, then some cubed potatoes. Simple, and so yummy, especially on a cold night. Some of the kids ate bread and butter too. We forgot to eat the brownies, how can we forget those? I put them up out of reach of the bad puppies, who get into things in the night, and almost pulled back the foil and sampled one, but then I remembered what would happen if that taste proved to be too yummy. Oh, that plate of brownies wouldn't stand a chance. Okay, I wouldn't eat them ALL, but let's just say it's better if I don't even go there.

Last night, I hardly slept. I forgot that even when I'm tired, I don't sleep well when Paul's gone, especially the first night. I don't know why, I am just totally and completely conscious of the emptiness of the bed. Don't get me wrong, I like that I can toss and turn and read without disturbing anyone, but for some reason, I just feel like the world isn't right.

Today some of us were talking about the good old days when dinosaurs roamed the earth, in the seventies, when I was growing up. We hardly had soda or chips back then. We had a dinner with meat on pay day, you know, a whole chicken leg or a nice pork chop. The next two weeks until the next pay day, we had meat IN our dinner, but not a whole portion. We also had things like scrambled eggs for dinner, or pancakes with corn in them. Or hamburger soup. It looked like dishwater, but it was pretty good. My mother made spaghetti by boiling and draining the pasta, adding some cooked burger, and a jar of spaghetti sauce, then a jar of water...right to the pasta. Voila, a big pot of spaghetti. It was good, especially leftover and reheated. Sometimes, when the days ticked off toward the magical pay day, we would have something like tuna fish and mushroom soup over toast, which I totally despised. Blah. We never starved, but...

Anyway. When I was a kid, we didn't have constant supervision like kids do now. We lived in a neighborhood, and when we got home from school and changed into play clothes, we went outside. We met up with our friends, we played in the creek, we rode our bikes with bare heads around the block, we played jump rope and kickball. We climbed trees and built forts and sometimes went to someone's house, a house with no parent home, and made prank phone calls. We walked to the store, we made those funny chains from gum wrappers, back when each stick was wrapped in foil AND paper. Hershey bars were, too. We made boondoggle bracelets.

Anyway, times have changed. I absolutely hate how addicted kids are to their electronics. It seems like they are born with their faces glued to a screen. Small children should be looking at their surroundings, reading other people's expressions, forming ideas about the world around them, not just playing with their Mom's phone. It has gone out of style to look out the window when driving in the car! Heaven forbid they should get bored! Isn't that where daydreaming comes in?

Blah, I am getting old. Technology has a time and place, but I sincerely believe there should be limits for kids. We, as humans, naturally choose the path of least resistance, and the iPod is easier than getting out a deck of cards to play solitaire, or actually playing board games or hangman with gasp, a pen and paper. Trivia Crack is the latest thing around here. We can be carrying on a perfectly good conversation, and Sonja will ask, "Who won the World Series in 1976?"

What I really hate is when there are ten or twelve of us sitting around the living room, and everyone is on a tablet or computer or iPod. Seriously? Thankfully we all agree that sometimes it's good to just say Put Them Away, and have real conversations.

Especially at dinner.

he's gone away again...

And he is missed, already. Mr. Paul, gone to France again. My dear dear husband, whom I have fallen deeper in love with as the days and months go by. We have been married 31 years this March, which doesn't seem possible. I wasn't ready to say goodbye to him today, but I dropped him off at the airport, and...said goodbye to him.

Two whole weeks.

So this evening, after coming home from a very busy day, which I won't get into the details of, I relaxed with four daughters and Jonathan. Lots of other kids were home, the princesses tucked into bed, or "talked" in, as Char calls it. Abigail, Margaret, Evelyn, Sonja and I laughed our heads off at silly things as we wound down from a busy day. Some of our kids worked at a fundraiser at the basketball game, some babysat for others who worked, and some babysat here while Mama was doing food prep for tomorrow's fun day. Tonight, we gathered in the living room, put up our feet, and laughed. Sonja recounted babysitting for my brother's grand-daughter...she told his dog to SIT, and the little grand-daughter....sat. Then Sonja mistakenly called Tina the dog, "Tuna", and Jon said, "Tuna...that's fishy." And we laughed 'til we couldn't breathe. Then Evelyn brought up a boy who used to like Abigail, named Chip. And I said, "Chip's a dip." Margaret said, "Chip's Ahoy." Silliness, but when you have had a long day, and you are tired, it is so funny.

It is quiet now aside from the laughter still coming from the girls' room.

Can I reiterate how much I love my small children? Jonathan and Miss Char and Miss Cam totally light up my life. I have been a mom for 30 years now, and have learned a thing or two. I have learned to that it is indeed wisdom to overlook a matter, as it is written in Proverbs. I have learned that one catches more flies with honey, and that to think before speaking can save one much grief. I have also learned to appreciate the little ones. The time has slipped by so quickly, and the childhood of my kids has flown by, leaving me with all these teenagers and adults, and basically, three younger kids. Jonathan is ten, Char 8, and Cam 7. These three younger ones still get excited for little prizes and will sit with Mama on a Saturday morning. Holidays are still magical for them, and they love me unconditionally. I savor the days with them, knowing they are numbered...I still enjoy them when they grow up, but they change, and life changes, and soon we won't have kids playing school and house and store...until the grandchildren visit, of course.

And...I am tired. It has been a long day, and tomorrow is another one.

Friday, January 23, 2015

proud army mama....

The Old impressive group, the face of the Army. Samuel is seventh from the right. He was in a funeral the other day, it's quite moving, sad, to follow that casket through the cemetery...he said in spite of that, Arlington is absolutely beautiful in the snow.

Margaret and Jonathan are having a Lord Of The Rings marathon...not all in one night. Marg filled Charlotte Claire in on the details of the first few movies, so tonight Char and Cam are snuggled under blankets on the couch watching, and asking a million questions. They are absolutely fascinated. I see another obsession coming on....

I roasted to nice fat chickens for dinner, with some Jamaican jerk seasoning. We had it with steamed broccoli and some homemade salsa/brushetta stuff....I chopped tomatoes and red onion, added some chopped cilantro, a bit of onion powder, sea salt, and a bit of olive oil. Yum, added to the chicken and broccoli, it made the meal.

So Paul is leaving in the morning. I think this time is the very hardest yet, the impending goodbye. It's never fun, but balanced out with the fact that I don't mind having the bed all to myself and reading the nights away, and knowing how nice it is when he gets home again...I am usually okay with him leaving. Okay, not happy. But this time...perhaps because of his heart procedure...I am just not jumping up and down about this. He is all packed, and when he rolled his suitcase out towards the door...wah.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

a visit to the psychiatrist

Let me introduce you to the best psychiatrist in the world: me. I have no formal education, but I can solve everyone else's problems! But my own...hmm. Well, let's see what I would tell myself if I was my own patient:

Dr. Me: What brings you here today?

Real Me: Well, I am disorganized. I feel giddy when I open my sock drawer and there is a matching pair.

Dr. Me: Is that really why you are here today?

Real Me: Well...I need to lose like 80 pounds. Why am I my own worse enemy? Why can't I just exercise every day like I know I should? Why do cookies call my name? Why do I love popcorn?

Dr. Me: You already know all the answers, dear. You just need to...suffer a bit.

Real Me: Suffer? You think I don't suffer? Why, I can't bend over without ripping my pants! My shirts ride up, and when I have to get my phone out of my jeans pocket, I lose feeling in my hand!

Dr. Me: You are suffering as a result of not suffering in the right way.

Real Me: But but but do you know how many pieces of cake I HAVEN'T EATEN?

Dr. Me: Here's what to do: Book a vacation. When your husband comes home from work, tell him you had to do it, doctor's orders. Then picture yourself on the beach everytime you start thinking of chocolate.

Real Me: So, if I think about the beach when I eat chocolate, I will lose weight?

Anyway...Dr. Me is so right! I just need to suffer. I know that! You can paint it any color you like, but that's what it is. It's not the answer we fat people want, no sir. We want the painless diet, where we can eat frosting on our toast and never ever exercise. But we all know where that has gotten me.

So, after almost four years of fighting this battle...I will continue. I know my weaknesses...namely chocolate. And, cookie dough. And perhaps a few cookies. I no longer eat pasta, rarely eat bread (only the end piece occasionally, from a fresh-baked loaf of Italian or sourdough). I don't eat chips, rarely pizza. So my basic diet is healthy. I just need to slap my little hand a bit more, and get those work-outs in.

I am motivated today, because I got up and got my lovely Nike sports bra on with my sweat pants. Never mind that it's a 1X, I feel sporty in that bra. Even though I am not a real athlete. Anyway, I headed to Evelyn's room, because she has stolen my ten-pound weights, and she has a space heater in there. I was feeling pretty good, but where in the heck were the weights? I tip-toed into Margaret's room, she is a known weight stealer, but no, she said. She could only find one in Evelyn's room, but I was free to take the one. Thank you dear, and by the way, are you going to school? She drives in late these days, she only has six left, then she is all graduated from high school! Next Thursday is her last day! Anyway. Back to Evelyn's room with the one weight. I checked Kathryn and Suzanne's room, no luck. dang. Oh well, I am already in here, all dressed up like a fit person, so I figured it out. I used the ten pound kettlebell too.

The coffee is on, the little girls are playing dolls in their room, the puppies are sleeping on the couch, the kitties are curled up sleeping too. Jon is still sleeping, and the other homeschooled girls are shh, are near Niagara Falls with Mali.

BTW, I didn't book a vacation.

Oh, yesterday our adventure was fun!!! The thrift store, I love that place! I bought a popcorn popper, the kind you put the oil and kernels in the bottom, then flip it over when it all pops...I bought new jeans that fit great until I sit down, then ugh, two pairs of jeans and some snow boots for Jon, an adorable rain coat for Camille, a Lee Middleton baby doll for $2.99, and I can't remember what else. But all that was only $25.

This weekend is going to be fun, except for the part where Paul leaves for France on Saturday. Saturday evening is food prep for our church feast on Sunday, along with practice for the song we are performing. The over 30 year olds are putting hosting this event for all of the under 30. We agreed on a menu, but I am the one who is going to stretch the dollars and go to different stores to get the best prices for all the stuff...which is one thing I am good at.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

home school....

Notice Kitty Kitten, aka Kettler, or Miss Mix, derived of course from Meow Mix...she prances across the table like she belongs there.

This morning is busy here as some of my teenagers get ready for a trip to Niagara Falls with their big sister Mali. I am taking Jonathan, Char, and Cam, on a little outing to the small city to use their Book It coupons at Pizza Hut, then to the thrift store. I just want to get out and about with them while the sun shines. Not that it's warm, it's now 12 (-1.1C).

Girl drama. You can't have eleven daughters without it. They seem to take turns being difficult. They help each other out, but can be brutally honest too. They go through ups and downs with friends, suffer through misunderstandings and have times when they are certain no one understands what they are going through. I can't be everything to everyone, and sometimes, like right now, I feel like I want a re-do on the whole day. lovely daughter, at eleven o'clock, declared she had no clean clothes and had to do laundry. She is leaving at noon. A load was already in, so with hands on hips, she exclaimed that she HAD to do laundry! Well. Why in the heck didn't you get up at 8 then, I asked? You seriously think we shouldn't have washed clothes today because we anticipated that you might possibly need to? And I didn't say it nicely. I reacted. And she turned and walked down the hall. She said, "You didn't have to yell at me." So. I tried to talk to her a little while later. She said, "It's okay. You're right, I'm wrong." Whatever. That's not what I was going to say. Because, ha, I WAS right, but that's not the point. It's all in the delivery. I was incredulous, and came off as being way too harsh.

So the daughter drama. Face it, when you have 16 kids, they aren't all going to be thrilled with you at all times.

Camille is curled up in a chair reading, "Happiness is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown". Ah, that's the life.

I suppose I should get moving now, out of my comfy chair, and, talk to some daughters, and get going on our adventure.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

we can dream....

My life is lovely. It really is. I love staying home, love home schooling, love my house, my husband, my dogs. And the kitties. But when winter gets long and cold and dark, I start thinking about those islands in the Caribbean, and sometimes I do more than think. I google these resorts on these islands.....

Not that I wouldn't love to bring the whole fam-damily, but mostly, I just want to go with Paul. So I can see him relax. I mean, he's a fun guy, but when his responsibilities are put aside and his cares melt away, I am left with a REALLY fun guy. A guy I really like being with. Perhaps my own cares melt away too, and the combination is just too good to be true. Toes in the sand, a drink at the pool bar, not worrying about what's for dinner or who is going where when with whom.

So Paul got a non-cash award from one of his bosses, which he assumed we would spend at Amazon. No, please, let's save it toward a vacation, I said. It's only about a sixth of the cost, but it's a start...

Anyway. Back to reality. Even if we don't ever end up going, the dreaming part is free, and rather fun.

And, I have a headache. I have ignored it all day, but now it is pounding. I took two ibuprofen, hopefully they'll kick in and it will go away. When I have a headache, it's hard to think about anything else, it is so THERE, in the forefront, dominating my day.

How can one exercise when one has a headache? Go for a walk? Go to the pool? No way. Not today. And yeah, part of me is glad for a good excuse, as I am my worst enemy when it comes to talking myself into a work-out.

I will however, behave with the food. I was tempted to make popcorn today, but I knew I would eat the whole bowl, so I had a mug of tomato soup and a cup of tea instead.

Jonathan ordered a quad-copter, a remote control helicopter thing with a camera on it, with his Christmas money. It's not supposed to arrive here until February, but that doesn't stop Jon from looking out the window expectantly every time he hears a truck. The waiting is the hardest part, but also half the fun. Camille is waiting for her Christmas doll, I contacted Kohl's and they were great about refunding my money, then letting me re-buy it for the same sale price. It must make sense to them.

My headache is actually going away. I will be so thankful, every minute, and take notice that I have nothing to complain about. OH heavenly bliss, to have a head that isn't pounding.

Paul is going back to France on Saturday, for two weeks. Mali has booked an Embassy Suites hotel room for tomorrow night in a big city a few hours from here, and is taking a few of her sisters for an overnight. She invited me. I had to decline, because Paul is only here for a few more nights...but it does sound tempting...pool, hot tub...

Monday, January 19, 2015

monday morning mumblings....

So yesterday my oldest "child" turned 30, Happy Birthday to Emily! I already gave her a pair of warm gloves and some adorable knee socks last week, but yesterday I stopped into Price Chopper for some whipped cream to go with the berries Kim gave me from Liz's baby shower, Liz being my brother Tom and his wife Kim's daughter....I went to the shower, (Liz looks adorable pregnant!), then realized it was Em's birthday, and remembered that oh yeah, she was coming for dinner. So I scurried toward home...

At the grocery store I found more birthday gifts...a cool knife, As Seen On TV, some facewash, Organix shampoo and conditioner that smells so heavenly, a pair of tights, and some Burt's Bees lotion. Oh, and a bag of Starbucks' Blonde roast coffee.

We watched Downton Abby and had popcorn. The good kind. Margaret and Jonathan got out the cookbook and made Em a birthday cake, even though I brought home some yummy 3 layer lemon-strawberry-orange cake from the shower, which the kids loved. Margaret just wanted to bake, I think. They made a vanilla cream cake, with fluffy cream cheese frosting. So now, this fine Monday morning, there are the remnants of two cakes calling to me. And today, I am not answering. Nope.

The kids have no school because it is Martin Luther King Day. The four teenagers are still in Ohio. Margaret and Jonathan are going out to lunch, and I am going on a quick trip to the small city with Kim, just because. Joseph is going to keep an eye on the princesses and their cousin Danille, whom was brought home from the shower with us to spend the night, much to the princesses' delight. We stopped at Redbox and got the movie, "Malificent", which Dani hadn't watched yet. Oh joy, they were happy. Those girls just play and play and play. They turn their bunk beds into a snuggly house, they set up Barbies, they sing and dance and dress up.

Our weather is moderating here in the northeast. Just regular snow, and cold, without being sub-zero. Yesterday it warmed up to a bit of rain, in fact.

Paul is back at work today. His a-Fib is still gone, thankfully. He has a little device that he holds to his chest every day, then telephones the dr. office, and they get a recording of his rhythm, which is totally magic, isn't it? He is supposed to do that if he feels it start racing, but hopefully it won't.

It's hard for me to see him slowed down by health. I don't know what it is, but I love him more and more. Seeing him in that hospital gown, all vulnerable and hooked up to the I.V., oh dear. He is so true, so genuine, so kind and responsible. He can still look at me and raise his eyebrows and make me just smile.

Ah well, I have things to do. After making a nice dinner last night, and washing lots of dishes, imagine my joy and happiness when I walked into the kitchen this fine Monday morning and discovered how many of the dishes didn't get washed...the popcorn pan and several bowls, one of the chicken pans, the frosting bowl from the cake, and an assortment of silverware, cups, and mugs. My first reaction was...well,never mind. I don't like housework, and I never will, but that doesn't mean I have to be miserable.

And now I need to really get going....

Saturday, January 17, 2015

a baby!!!!!!

Not me. My daughter Mali. I am going to be a Grandma again! Which doesn't make sense, but in any case, Mali is going to have a baby.

This news was a bit of a shocker, but we all took it pretty well. After all, it's a baby! And Mali is almost 21, has a good job, and is "on her feet". The fact that she's not married to her boyfriend...well, that's her choice. There comes a time, when raising kids, when they start making their own decisions, and all we can do as parents is love them, and be good, and try not to say, "I told you so."

Also, I love Mali so very much, and will do all I can to help her out, and support her. She knows our beliefs, so we didn't have to say anything to her. Love covers a multitude of sins, after all, and the goodness of the Lord brings repentance. And, we simply love Mali. She is a very nurturing and caring girl, and after the initial panic, she is actually quite excited. She says she absolutely loves this little baby already.

Our house is bustling this morning. Our septic pump has been replaced, but there is something electrical wrong now, so a friend is coming over to look at it. The furnace has been acting up, so Paul has been tinkering with that. Joseph has been a huge help, going to the dump today, chopping wood, and emptying the ash pan of the woodstove. Four of our girls have gone to Ohio for the weekend, so there are only five "kids" here. The princesses are eating French toast and making bead necklaces.

I am a bit restless, wanting to plan stuff and go places, but Paul is tired, and has a bit of brain fog from his procedure. It is rather normal after anesthesia, but still, it's not fun. We need to just keep it low key so he can rest up and get better.

Camille with her doll bed...Emily bought it from Ikea a while ago, and Cam has been wanting to paint it. I bought a can of pink glossy paint from the dollar store a while ago, and Camille started prodding me to get to it....

Of course she wanted to paint it herself, and then Charlotte Claire found another brush and joined us. They painted, I caught drips.

It came out nice, so I got out the sewing machine and made a little bedskirt for it. I wanted to make some blankets and a pillow too, it was fun, but it was getting to be dinner time...I made boneless chicken thighs with orange sauce, stir-fried cabbage with onions, broccoli, and snap peas. And a pan of roasted potatoes with carrots, onions, and brussel sprouts. Camille has wanted to try the sprouts, and I finally bought some.

Margaret and Jonathan also made a few pizzas.

So I put away the sewing, and the girls took the newly pink doll bed to their room. They don't care so much about new blankets, wah. Perhaps I will make them for the real baby:), Mali's baby.

We also baked cookies yesterday....

I made them to send with the girls for their road trip...and dang they were too good. I am glad they are all gone now.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

in which she goes to walmart...again...

Guess how many places our insurance company covers for prescriptions? yup, two. One is a small place downtown, and the other...Walmart. And guess what? Paul had lots of meds called into Walmart from the hospital, meds he needs to take today. His asophagus was a little scraped up from the procedure, from the freezing of part of the heart. So he needs to drink this magic slurry before eating, and has to stay on his blood thinners, ect., for a while.

We are all home and happy. Margaret is making a four-layer cake with Jonathan, because they were bored and the house was cold.

Four of my daughters, Kathryn, Evelyn, Suzanne, and Sonja are going away to Ohio for the weekend. I need to get them some snacks for their trip.

So, to Walmart I go...again.

never a dull moment....

Except for right this very minute, it's quiet. But let's go back to the other night, the night before Paul's procedure....

We had finished dinner, and were settling in for some Star Wars, when Sonja said exasperatedly from the kitchen, "There is no water coming from the front of the 'fridge. I thought perhaps the intake tube was clogged, hard water and all. Then she announced that there was no water coming from the sink. Ugh. Not now, please, not frozen pipes. Not tonight.

Paul did some investigating, and figured out that the pump for the septic tank was not working, and causing the breaker to switch off. I don't know how he figured that out, but he was right.

Before we headed to the hospital, he called our super nice septic/excavating guy and gave him my cell number to keep updated while we were at the hospital. It's almost hilarious sometimes how these things get a little bit of money, (from the smashed up car), then oh, you need say...a tank of heating oil! Then two vehicles need repairs. Then your septic pump goes. I don't know why, but it just struck me as funny, because it is so typical.

Paul texted me from the hospital and said not to hurry in, his scope thing-y isn't until at least ten, but I am going to head in soon. It's cold in here, I am not sure if the furnace is kicking's always something, isn't it?

But the older I get the more I realize how foolish it is to get all stirred up about each little thing. A tempest in a tea cup. It doesn't do any good.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

at the hospital all day....

This is what I look like when I have been at the hospital all the live-long day.

Paul's procedure went well. He had to have a scope thing-y done, sorry for being so science-y. The asophagus is right next to the heart, so the scope scoped out his heart, checking for clots or deformities, and it found all to be a-Okay.

He was a little drowsy from this, but waited happily for the real fun to begin...we had to wait quite a while, apparently the first patient of the day, the person before Paul, had some complications, which is never a good thing for morale.

Paul went in the operating room, or procedure room, or if we were English, the operating "Theatre" a little after two, and came out at 7:30. That's a long time. There was much more to this than I had realized. The blood must be thinnned, then with it is all over, thickened back up. He was sedated and intubated and an area of his heart was frozen. The asopagus was also frozen, an unwanted side effect, so he has to have another scope put down there tomorrow to make sure it wasn't damaged.

His heart seems to be in normal rhythm, and the procedure went well. It was a long process, and rather scary, from my point of view. Our friend Cathy, who spent the entire afternoon and evening with us, jumped up and down, and I mean actually jumped up and down after the doctor/surgeon came in to tell us it was a success. Cathy works with that dr. as his scrub nurse/operating room assistant, and she has been in lots of these procedures, so she knows lots of stuff. And while ignorance is bliss, being In The Know is probably not bliss.

Anyway, while Paul was having fun, we went out for Greek food. mmmm. Not bad.

When we were allowed in the recovery room to see him, I was so tempted to snap a picture, but oh, so tacky. But honestly, he looked so cute and handsome. He didn't shave this morning, so he was all rugged and bristly. And his glasses weren't on, and he was lying there a little confused, but happy, relieved it was over, and thankful it went well. He was tired, but he asked me how I was doing, and how things were going at home. He certainly is a keeper, and I love him. I am very glad things went well. I cannot even imagine...never mind.

It was hard to say goodbye to him, but I did. I wanted to stay and sleep in the chair in his room....

First thing in the morning, I will leave to go spend some time with him, then bring him home. Sonja K. is going with me. She was here in the living room when I got home this evening, and said she would gladly skip school to go with me.

Also, our friend Dave had good news with his surgery on Monday: the cancerous tumor was safely removed, and the two other tumors were biopsied, and found to be benign. Excellent news!

And, tomorrow morning, bright and early, my brother Bob is having surgery on his back. At the same hospital Paul is in. When it rains it pours. I am hoping and praying that Bob's surgery goes as well as Dave's, and Paul's did.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

walmart and other atrocities....

eeks, I don't like Wallyworld. They must be doing something right, because the same workers have been there, in the one I go to, for years and years and years. Perhaps there is just no where else to go. At any rate, it's not the employees, it's the store. I don't like it. I went there anyway today, to buy a gift for Emily's birthday. Don't worry, Emily, I got you something nice.

And, I meandered into the garden department, where all the after-holiday merchandise is dragged for clearance. The Christmas stuff was 90% off. That's a bargain, if you need Christmas stuff. I didn't, but I browsed anyway. I let the girls get some nail polish sets, and I decided on some packages of bowls and cups. The cheap-y ones, 4-packs wrapped in plastic. They usually sell for like a dollar. Well. These rang up 98 cents. Seriously? They originally sold for $9.79? On what planet? I didn't buy them.

Anyway. The cold weather deterred me from going to a different store for the groceries I wanted, so I bought my milk and eggs and bananas there. And batteries. Jonathan the Battery Boy needed 9-volt and D batteries for Christmas toys. I don't like buying meat from Walmart, and their produce is usually second rate. What good is it if it's cheap if it's rotten?

There is a point to this post. I was driving along, on the way to the small city, with two little girls and Suzanne, as Jonathan had gone to the library with Margaret. I told Suzanne that in real life, at least in MY life, only like 10% of the time is it really exciting and special and fun. Sometimes more, sometimes less. The rest of the time, I am doing things like driving to Walmart. With lots of kids to take places and do things for, you could safely say that most of the time, I am not doing what I would really like to be doing, as is the case with most people who grow up and have jobs. Even if they like their jobs, they still have to be in boring meetings, or have long commutes, perhaps.

Here's the thing: are we only happy that 10% of the time then? And the rest of the time, live in a mindset that ranges from tolerating the situations to being not exactly mad but not jumping up and down? Oh what a waste! I choose to be happy. It is a fight sometimes, to be sure, to be happy. But honestly, to do anything else is a waste of time. I am not talking about chasing a feeling of bubbliness...I mean more to learn to fight against grumpiness and be content. If I have to drive someone somewhere and I don't want to, I don't have to be surly and miserable. I can use that time to talk to whoever I am driving, unless, ha, it happens to be a miserable teenager who doesn't want to talk to her mama right now. That happened to me a few weeks ago. This girl was in a mood, and I knew my very existence was bothering her, so I had to just be quiet for a while. That was interesting.

Anyway. There is a time and a season for everything, and obviously it's not appropriate to be jumping up and down with glee when someone dies or something. But to learn contentment is a gift. God has given us life! And none of us owns tomorrow.

My kids got out and about for a bit today, but they are still crazy!!! Cabin fever, they are silly and loud and bouncing off the walls.....

staying warm....

-6 degrees,F. That's -21 C. That's cold. But the sun is shining on that snow, making the scene out the window a sparkly winter wonderland. The snowman and fort the kids made yesterday just glisten in that sun. They won't be playing out there today though, it's too cold.

We will probably be going out and about for a bit though. Maybe later, when the temperature gets above zero. It will warm up to about nine degrees in the afternoon. We have to mail Camille's tablet back for repair, a Walmart bargain. We also need milk and bread and eggs. And a birthday present for Emily...she is turning 30 on Sunday. Thirty!!! She doesn't act a day over...hmm, 12? No, she's not a silly teenage girl...but she certainly isn't OLD. Let's just say she appreciates life. She has the gift of making the best of what life has to offer her. She has a firm and certain belief that God sends each and everything for her very best. So how can she not be glad? She is not totally unselfish by nature, if it were up to her, she would probably curl with a book each and every evening, and find her own things to putter away and do on days off. But she is compelled to work with the youth, and to do things with her siblings. I know she goes out of her own comfort zone to bless her sisters and friends.
My sister's daughter Becky, who is 12 days older than Emily....with Emily. Fabulous at thirty!

Emily from Christmas time...

Her home is also the home of her sisters Abigail and Mirielle. And, of her friends Page and Nellie, who are sisters, and grew up with our girls. Their house is a home. It is comfortable, it is open, and it is welcoming. It is used for good things. Gatherings and fellowship and fun.

Jonathan loves to go to Emmy's house. The little girls do too, it is a big old house, with a nice big staircase, and lots of rooms to explore.

Emily is coming with me tomorrow for Paul's "procedure". After working three 12 hour shifts in a row, the last thing she probably wants is to hang out in a hospital all day, but she is going to be there anyway, and I am thankful for that. It's always nice to have a nurse with you:) Also, a close friend of ours, Kathy, who is a nurse, and actually works in this particular hospital, for the same surgeon who will be doing the procedure, in the exact operating room, is taking the day off because she doesn't want to work on such a close friend...will be with us there tomorrow too. This is really helpful, because she knows exactly what is going on, and she will know what to look for and what questions to ask.

Anxiety. Oh, it lurks. On the one hand, I trust that God is close by, sending all things for our very best. On the other hand, I know that too. But that doesn't mean I am not strongly tempted to worry. To let in some of those dreaded, "what-if" thoughts. Those are a slippery slope. Do you know that it says in the bible, "God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, of love, and of a sound mind."(2Tim.) So therefore I fight against that spirit of fear.

Camille is up and wants to cuddle....

Monday, January 12, 2015

happy monday!

In spite of my rants about hating winter, I don't hate everything about it. This fine morning, for example, I enjoyed shoveling the driveway a bit. It was 20 minutes of exercise! Margaret drove to school this morning, ugh, because she gives piano lessons to a friend once a week. I told her to drive slowly....

And it IS pretty out there this morning. It keeps snowing, just lightly, covering all the tree branches. It's 30 degrees (-1.1C), which is downright warm, after the freezing days we have had. But, not for long. It's going down to -5 (-20C) tonight. brrr.

And here's something to be thankful for:
Suri is a sweetie. She is always so happy to see me when I get home from working at the Dome. I think it's because I smell like Dome food. Duke is just more laid back, he's an old man, he wags, gets pet, and goes in and lies back down. Suri is more persistent. She doesn't like the petting to stop, so she nudges and looks at me pleadingly, she is such a good dog.

If you were to stop in to my house this fine winter Monday morning, you would be able to have a cup of coffee with me, since I made a good sized pot and Joseph and I are the only coffee drinkers here today. You would be able to find a place to sit down, but I would ask you not to look around too much. See, yesterday was one of those days where I was pretty much gone all day, with a little break home in the middle of the day, a break I did not use to clean the house. Church, home for lunch, the Dome.

And this morning, I got up, got dressed, and shoveled the driveway. I came back in, put in a load of towels, shined the front of the refrigerator and the stove, washed the tables and counters, and....made coffee and toast. And here I sit. I didn't feel like sweeping and sorting and doing housework in the quiet of the morning. Once the kids wake up, I can't concentrate. The kids who attend Real School left a few hours ago, the older girls who homeschool usually wake up and start doing work on their own, in their room. The little girls are up and playing, and Jon's alarm keeps going off, but I have yet to see him.

One thing on our agenda today is to go out and play in the snow while the weather is so mild.

But first, a nice warm breakfast for a few little girls...

Sunday, January 11, 2015

wanna make a dollar?

Here I am, sitting with my feet up, attempting to blog, which is one of my favorite-est things, and I remembered that my phone needs to be charged because I'm going to the Dome soon, and need to be reachable. ugh, the Dome. So I offered Jon a dollar to get my phone from my purse and plug it in. He is such a good boy, he would have done it for nothing.

Okay, I like college basketball. But we have a new area, a new concession stand at the Dome...and it is BUSY. Super busy. The lines are long, people want their food yesterday, and sometimes we run out of stuff. It can be stressful, but it's also fun. I get to be with friends, and I have to remind myself that just because the customer may be impatient, I don't have to react to that. I can just do my job. It's just a basketball game, and it's just a hot dog! Or as Joe says, "It's not real."

Not that we don't work hard, we do. We give it our best. I am just referring to not getting drawn in to the stress fest part.

Football on television. Nope, can't see what all the fuss is about. If there was never another game ever, it wouldn't bother me in the least. I think it reminds me of being little, of feeling closed in, inside, with football on our big wood console t.v., having to be quiet, and feeling like I was going to jump out of my skin. Football, blah.

This is a big week, coming up. Our friend Dave, who has battled cancer of the asophagus for seven years now, having been in remission for over five years...has some tumors in his lung. He is going in for surgery tomorrow, and will find out exactly what's going on with those tumors. I am praying fervently for him, and his wife, and his eight kids. They have been through so much. But honestly...if you were to meet Dave, and talk to him, you would be totally blown away. He trusts God with all his heart, and has learned so much during his journey with cancer. He says he is thankful for it.

Then Paul has his procedure on Wednesday, then my brother Bob has a big operation on his spine on Thursday.

Lots of prayers will be going up this week.

So remember...each day is a gift. Bless as far and wide as you can, it will come back to you tenfold. Don't hold on to grudges, let it go, as in the Frozen song. Forgive, and God will forgive you.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

saturday night....

I'm old. It's ten o'clock, and I'm tired. The little girls are still awake, they are in their room, supposedly getting in bed so I can come in and pray with them and tuck them in. They seemed to have been sidetracked, and are probably playing dolls. Paul is watching football, with the sound turned down thankfully. Old kitty is on my lap purring, and I have a blanket covering my feet, over the socks and slippers. It's another chilly night here in Narnia.

Emily came over tonight, right as I took homemade meatballs out of the oven. Nine of the kids were here for dinner. We also had pasta (not me), artisan bread from Aldi that we heated in the oven (not me...well, I tasted a piece of the crust, oh heavenly yum). I had lots of green beans with my sauce and meatballs.

Then after dinner, some Aldi chocolate. mmm.

And hot tea.

Emily has gone home now, and it is quiet in here. I have had a good day. Evelyn informed me that she needed four yards of fleece fabric by Monday for a project in school. She told me this a few times earlier in the week, but hey, we had time! Tomorrow I am working at the basketball game at the Dome, so we went to the fabric store today. Kathryn, Suzanne, Charlotte Claire, and Camille came along too. We chose some nice fabric to make a few little girls' dresses, and some doll clothes.

Suzanne is teaching herself to crochet by way of YouTube. She made the cutest little hat today, for Camille, lavender with a grey flower with a blue button in the middle. I love it, and love that she's keeping busy.

Those little girls are still laughing and fooling around. Sonja is in there with them, she just loves to be silly with them.

Far be it from me to not have anything to write about, but that's it. Tonight I simply have no ambition to write. I think perhaps I'll read for a while and retire...when I say, "retire", it reminds me of my mother. Sometimes I miss her so suddenly and so fiercely, I wonder how I possibly could have survived for these eight+ years without her. She was one of my very best friends....

Friday, January 9, 2015

the little things...

As we all know, it's the little things that add up to the most importance. Little decisions day in and day out, about what I put in my mouth. And about what comes out of my mouth. Sometimes I can't help the little things that come flying out with no forethought, but then there are the things that I roll around in my mind....

I can agree with little thoughts that miffed me. I can build a little case in my mind, because after all, I had only the best intentions, and why would they say that to me? But those little thoughts can destroy friendships. Agreeing with them tears down relationships. No one can see in there, what we allow into our hearts. But God can, and when we walk in the light, and cleanse ourselves from all that sin, those bad thoughts, then we get happy. It doesn't matter who says what to me or about me. I am free. It isn't fun, because, hey, I want everyone to just plain like me! But I am so very thankful for these verses "Make every effort to live in peace with all men and be holy;, without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble, and defile many." (Hebrews 12, 14 and 15.)

It is hard and miserable, to hate. It is free and light, to love. We get to choose.

This fine sunny cold winter morning, we have been lazy. I slept until 9:00, which isn't as grand as it sounds, I wrestled some thoughts all night last night. Oh, the dismal scenarios that plagued me! It seemed like a Testing Of My Faith night. I would reason myself out of worrying about Paul's heart procedure, then I would think about car repairs and then dang it, home school reports are due soon. And then I would go back to those thoughts I had about someone thinking things of me....and so on. I had to do some praying. But I finally fell asleep.

Someday each of us will stand before God. No matter if we believe it or not, it's going to happen. There will be no place to hide. I know I'll be pretty nervous, I don't even like airport security, and driving over the border to Canada gets me stammering. But seriously, I want to live my life with this in mind. Winning an argument, proving myself right, whatever seems so important at the time...those are things I'm sure I would be ashamed of...if my heart was full of them when I stood before God.

Yesterday...I took Kathryn to the thrift store. She likes to buy old jeans and make them into cool shorts. I bought a really nice sweater, a pair of jeans for myself, a pile of books...for $22. Then to the grocery store for oats, yogurt, peppers, bananas, carrots, milk, tea, butter, bread, and popcorn kernels.

Home: I had put a turkey in the oven, it was done and the house smelled holiday-ish. Putting away the groceries and getting dinner fixed was hurried, I had to get out the door by 6:30 to go to a meeting about an upcoming church feast. I microwaved a huge bowl of fresh broccoli, and then some potatoes. I didn't even "gravy" up the gravy, just served it as is. It was a yummy meal, and I am thankful for Joseph, who had the unenviable task of taking all of the meat off the carcass (isn't that just a lovely word for something you just ate from?), and for some teenage girls who cleaned up for me...Paul called me from work and had lost his keys. Then called, he found them. Then called, the car wouldn't start. Then called, it did. Okay. He confirmed he wouldn't be going to the meeting with me, I was late, so out the door I went. Life isn't boring, that's for sure.

Abigail has to go to the bank, so she is going to bring the little girls so they can cash in all their change. Jon wants to go to because Abigail is his very best friend. I want to go too because, well, it's a cold sunny winter's morning, and I want to get out of the house and hang out with Abigail too!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

miss procrastination

Miss Procrastination. Since I am a psychologist, not, although I certainly should be, I will say this: there is a good explanation for being a procrastinator. Or rather, a litany of good excuses for putting things off. It isn't just laziness that makes me postpone making a phone call I don't want to make. Because if so much as the thought of calling Kim enters my mind, I am on that phone. But straightening out an insurance matter, or rescheduling a doctor appointment, ugh. I'll do it this afternoon!

Sometimes when you put something off long enough, it becomes an obsolete problem, and you never have to deal with it. Or sometimes it snowballs, and the more days that go by, the more embarrassing it becomes to come to terms with something you should have done a while ago. For example, we have this big van in the driveway that hasn't been driven in a few years. A 15 passenger van. Paul took one of the tires off and had me bring it in to the car place in town to get fixed. And...I didn't pick it up for...weeks. I would think of that tire, and be so embarrassed that I took so long to go pick it up. So I left it there for like a month. When I brought our minivan in for inspection, I just acted all casual and said I may as well pick up that tire now, too.

The big van is a whole other story. I bring it up to Paul every once in a while, and he gives his classic, "I don't know.", which means he doesn't want to think about it right now. Ha, he is extremely responsible about most things, but getting rid of the big van just isn't on his priority list right now. I told him it could be a trip to Florida and maybe Jamaica too if we sell it....:)

He has to have a heart "procedure" done next week. Emily said I should't call it surgery, because it technically isn't. It is a coronary catheter ablation, in which the part of the heart that is sending faulty electrical signals will be frozen or tied off, so a regular rhythm will be re-established, getting his heart out of A-Fib. He has been on a heavy duty blood thinner for a while to prevent stroke...a blood thinner that scares me a little because there is no "anecdote" for it, should he cut himself or fall and have any bruising...Aaron said he had a patient who was on it and fell off a ladder, and had internal bleeding and was in critical condition...having four nurses in the family is interesting, to say the least. Anyway. Paul has been on a medication to get him out of A-Fib, but it stopped working, so he is having this done. He had this procedure done a few years ago, but now a different part of the heart is misbehaving.

He goes in next Wednesday and has to stay for one night.

Ten days later, he will be on a plane to France, for a two week work project.

So he has a lot going on.

And should I even mention how hard it is for me to see him go through any medical procedures? I would rather have a hundred I.V.'s myself than see him have one. He had to have one in each hand last time, just in case. He is in extremely good shape, he exercises and eats well. In fact, he drives me crazy with his ongoing research and experiments. Lately it's all about the gut. Good gut bacteria - eating fermented food. So he bought canning jars and ferments carrots and cabbage, keeping them all covered up, taking them out and burping them. He made bone broth in the crockpot, cooking cauliflower and onions in the broth to add nutrients. I told him it smelled like a Russian apartment, no offense. Anyway, I love him more than life itself. I look at him and see him get all animated about these things, and it amuses me and makes me love him more. I don't always share his enthusiasm, but if he wants to mess up the kitchen and smell up the house, I don't mind. I took a sip of the bone broth, and well, it's not for me. It's enough for me to stay away from sugar and carbs, I don't feel the need to be so radical.

Anyway. I love him. More and more. I sat next to him on the couch last night, he had that razor stubble and mmm, he's still so cute. I think it is absolutely hilarious when we snuggle a bit or have a kiss and the kids say, "EWWW, Gross!", because I know they secretly love it that we still like each other so much.

It was cold here this morning, zero. With a wind chill. It is up to ten now, and the sun is shining. Paul and I went to town, to pick up the Bravada, which he drove to work. The truck is now in the shop, and the minivan is in the driveway, which means I can go to the store. We need peppermint tea, yogurt, bananas. Joe says we need veggies and meat, which is all he will eat.

Anyway, the procrastination thing: the car mechanic/shop owner told Paul that we should have gotten the Bravada in for inspection sooner when it was due, so Paul called me Miss Procrastinator. hmph. Where was he? Ha, probably in France. And then we didn't need it as much because we had just gotten the Sentra back from Mali, who bought her own car. And besides, what difference does it make if we waited to get it inspected, does that make the problems with it worse? It is fixed now, so all is well, but jeepers. Now we don't have to inspect it until January next year, so we get two more months. never mind.

The kids are doing school work, the dogs are napping, the space heater is humming. I shoveled the driveway, does that count as my work out?

The sun is shining now, the snow has stopped coming down, but the roads are packed ice. The snow squeaks underfoot in the extreme cold. The little girls wanted to go out and play this morning, but I told them to wait until later, it should be warming up to...19. They were afraid the snow would melt. nah, not today.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

being home...

This is one of the nicest cats ever. He has taken so much abuse from the younger kitty, the kitty with the unending energy. That little kitty jumps on this guy, attacks him, pounces, wrestles...and big kitty just takes it in stride. He simply doesn't care. Then they lie next to each other for a nap. This big kitty likes to snuggle on my lap, he does it every evening. He starts walking towards my chair, jumps up onto my lap, and purrs.

Yesterday, Suri jumped up and snuggled into my lap.
She's a little large, but she doesn't know it.

Our vehicle situation right now: one car is in the shop in town, getting all sorts of things fixed and tweaked in order to pass the N.Y. state annual inspection. Paul's truck will go in next, the brakes are bad. It is sitting in the driveway, and he drove my minivan to work. He suggested I drive him in, so I would have a vehicle. Nah, I don't think so. Not having a vehicle is rather nice, I daresay. I can't go anywhere, so here I am at home, and it's not bad.

Today is a cold one! There was a two hour delay for school, the wind is blowing, and the temperature, a balmy 15 (-9.4C), and dropping. Brr. I have two space heaters going in the living room this morning.

I exercised yesterday afternoon. I had to track down my ten pound weights, I found them in Evelyn's room. So I just exercised in there, with Sonja lying there on the floor in front of their heater, on her iPod. She was a good girl, and didn't laugh at her mama. I also vacuumed the stairs, washed the foyer floor, swept and mopped the kitchen and living room...I am trying to stay active here in the house. The older girls are all about eating well and working out, so I refrained from any baking. It's one thing to bake cookies and know they will get eaten, but if they don't want to eat them either, I just won't make any.

The little girls have their cousin here, she spent the night last night. Her older sister Olivia is here too, she spent the night with the older girls. Homeschooling is nice:)

I shouldn't even read the news. The 17 year old girl from Connecticut who has Non-hodgkin's lymphoma, and has refused chemotherapy because she doesn't want her immune system compromised, she thinks there are better ways to fight it. Her mother agrees with her and supports her, but the local department of child services disagrees, and flexed their muscles to get her into their custody, and actually forced her to submit to chemo. I couldn't help but draw the correlation: a woman in America has the right to "choose" whether to continue with a pregnancy, but not what drugs go into her own body?

And Martha, you are right, there is much to be thankful for in the winter. I mean, we don't live under a bridge. In the big city, there are some homeless shelters, but there are also those who just live under the bridges. How can they stand the cold? We have shelter, food and water, and hot coffee and books. We have computers and internet, internet being right up there with food and water, for my kids with their iPods. Even the dogs seem thankful. Usually, when I let them out in the morning, they go happily out the door, even if someone has already let them out earlier. This morning, they just stood there and wagged their tails, and looked at me like I was a crazy woman. No sir, they did not want to go out again.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

just to be clear...

I don't hate everything about winter. I don't hate when I am home and have no place I need to go, and there is coffee, and I have a good book. But even that is better in the summer:)

I don't hate the way the sun shines on the snow and it looks like a million diamonds, and when the trees are covered, illuminating each branch. I don't hate the kids going ice skating and sledding, and I don't hate how when it's so cold out, the dogs' paws don't need wiping off twenty times a a day as they come in the house.

But I hate the driving. I hate when you simply don't know where the road ends and the ditch starts. I hate when the snow blows sideways, when your headlights are a joke and all you can see is...snow. I hate driving in the winter. The sliding and the skidding and the slush and the unexpected slippery patches. I hate those phone calls (Margaret went off the road last winter with a few of the girls in the truck, they ended up at the lunch lady's house....)Abigail took the truck off the road on that same hill a few years back. Two of my daughters work in a hospital north of here, in one of the snowiest cities in the country, right on the lake. I can't even think about their commute, I have to pray. Emily and Abigail drive to the other city every day, and that's often no picnic either.

We have had our school bus go off the road a few times, and once our truck spun out in our own driveway and got stuck in the yard. Ha, I did that once with the old Big Van, too, it was not funny at the time, but my father-in-law saw a picture of it somehow, and it tickled him silly. I was trying to get out of the driveway and ended up sideways in the yard, stuck fast in the snow.

But filling the oil tank, keeping the space heaters running, and still walking around with socks and slippers and a big heavy sweater on...blah. I am a barefoot girl.

Anyway. This morning has been fun! The kitty kitten knocked down a picture frame and shattered the glass. I no sooner cleaned that up, than Duke started know, that heaving that a dog does before...he barfs right near the open door you are trying to shoo him out of. blah.

I decided to sweep and mop, then throw in a load of towels. While I was in the laundry room, the phone rang, it was the office of Paul's eye dr., apparently the Dr. broke his arm so Paul has to reschedule. Then Paul texted me and asked me to call about the Bravada which is in the shop getting inspected...there are a few things that need fixing on it apparently, and it's not done yet...he had to drive the minivan to work because the truck needs new brakes. I am not looking forward to driving that truck to town needing new brakes, in the snow.

Anyway. There are children to teach, and children to rouse from their warm beds, and breakfast to make. I have not made a pot of coffee yet this fine cold morning. It is a balmy 15 degrees (-9.4 C). The snow is coming down in those big fluffy lake effect flakes, and it IS pretty. Kitty kitten is staring out the window in fascination, her little head swiveling around in wonder.

We are reading the book, "Farmer Boy." Did you know that Almanzo Wilder grew up in New York state? If you have never read this book, even if you don't want to read the whole Little House On The Prairie series, you should read it. Almanzo told Laura the stories of his growing up and about farm life, when they were old, and lived in Missouri. She wrote the book without ever visiting his childhood home. Then their daughter Rose grew up and visited the house in Malone, New York, and couldn't believe how accurately her mama had described it. It is such a clear depiction of what life was like in the 1800's. Oh, how hard they worked.

And, I am thinking of a summer field trip for these kids....his house is still there. We went years ago, when Emily was fascinated with the Little House books.

Wow, it's snowing out. And it DOES look pretty.

Monday, January 5, 2015

top ten reasons to hate winter....

I don't really feel like counting, but I hate walking on slippery surfaces. Once a long time ago, I got out of our big van carrying a baby in a car seat, now please don't think I'm a bad mom because I forgot which baby it was...but I had just debated whether to take him/her out of the car seat, then decided not to, and when I stepped out of the van with that car seat, my feet slipped right out from underneath me on the ice, and I landed, all XXX amount of pounds of me, right on that car seat. The baby was fine, but I was shaken...if that baby had been in my arms, if that baby had fallen on that ice with skinny lil me on top, oh dear.

If that don't make ya hate winter, I don't know what will.

And then there's the deck steps. Our deck steps are slippery in the winter. Sonja claims that I told them every single day of their lives to Be Careful On The Deck Steps, in the wintertime, and the ONE DAY I didn't, she fell all the way down. She's not the only one, imagine how my heart dropped when I said goodbye to Paul one morning, and to have a nice day, and probably, "Be careful on those steps.", and then heard that unmistakable kerplunking.

And then there's the driveway. When you have to play musical chairs with cars in the driveway anyway, add in some snow and ice, and it really gets fun.

Paul has a rule in the winter: back the cars in. Then it's easier to get out if it snows a lot. Now, to some people, no biggie. Just back in. But people like me, who don't always know their left from their right...yeah.

The darkness...winter's darkness. It's cozy, yes, but also claustrophobic and rather depressing. Paul leaves for work in the dark and gets home in the dark, day after day.

And for some of us who thrive on going out and about, having to stay home because of cold and snow makes us antsy.

And, going to the pool when it's this cold out: not gonna happen.

And baking, oh I love baking in the winter. But baking and not eating it, that is just not fun.

Don't even mention all those cans of pumpkin calling me...oh the pumpkin muffins I want to bake...and eat.

Winter does that to me. Makes me want to bake and eat.

Cold feet, cold hands, my nose is even cold.

The boots and mittens and hats and coats and snowpants...the hooks and shelves and doorway are overflowing.

Emily says that anyone who says they love winter is clearly lying. She has a co-worker who used to live in San Diego, and says that one gets sick of it being always sunny and warm. Emily says that cannot be true. She misses her garden, and wants to go barefoot. She is super thankful that she has a trip to Florida planned soon, to visit Gramma!

Winter isn't always horrid, but it certainly can't compare to summertime, when the sun doesn't set until nine o'clock, and there are flowers and birds and tomatoes from the garden. Summer, when I stand there at the grilling chicken in my bathing suit, when it's so hot out, I know I will have to take another dip in the pool before dinner.

I think I appreciate the summer more because of the winter, and of course even the thought of the promise of spring reminds me that this isn't like the movie Frozen. We aren't stuck here forever. It seems like it sometimes, but it will melt, the boots WILL get put away.

The Christmas decorations are all taken down and put away, and the tree is in the side woods...the house looks like the Grinch was here. He left nothing but hooks, and some wire. The empty spot where the tree was is a nice place for little girls to play, my kids have always had a thing for filling a blank space. Oh, don't worry Mom, we'll clean it up when we're done. Do you believe I still fall for this line? I was actually thinking of getting one of those little trampolines for the corner. Excess energy and all.

I just took two pans of chicken breast out of the oven. I think I am going to slice it up and put some of in barbecue sauce and some in hot sauce with a little bit of butter. Then put the kaiser rolls I bought today under the broiler for a few minutes, add the chicken to them with a little bit of cheese...and make them some toasty hot chicken sandwiches for dinner.

I am going to also make a nice big salad.

There are two pounds of Florida strawberries all sliced in a bowl on the counter, shh...I put plastic wrap on the bowl, and put a potholder on the top so the kids won't walk by and eat one, it's disguised. I bought an angel food cake today...mmmm.

Camille is hungry, so I am done here. Evelyn has already been bugging me about what's for dinner, and when is dinner. I know, I know, I said I was going to pay more attention, but honestly when the rubber meets the road and I am sitting here on a roll, leave me alone already! ha. Okay, okay, I am done. I'll fix dinner and pay attention to you kids....

happy monday!

Oh, the joy of living near Lake Ontario in the winter...lake effect snow is coming. There is a two hour delay for school...Sonja is lying on the couch waiting for it to cancel. The wind is howling, but the snow hasn't really started yet...and here I go, out the door to bring my brother to an appointment. I hate driving in the snow, just hate it. When I can't see where the road is, blah...

Ah well, Emily and Mirielle and Mali and Aaron have no snow days, nurses have to go to work no matter what.

And now that I have sat here in my comfy chair to the last minute, bye for I go into the cold....

Sunday, January 4, 2015

vacation must end sometime....

Paul has to go back to work tomorrow, and I have to go back to homeschooling these little scoundrels. The three public school kids have to go back to school, if there IS is warm and windy today today, but the lake effect snow is moving in during the night, along with a huge drop in temperature.

I have to get out of the house bright and early to bring my brother to a doctor appointment, then back home to get Suzanne to bring her to an eye dr. appointment. Her glasses were broken in the accident, and she has been wearing old ones, which for a 13 year old girl, yikes.

I realized today that if Margaret leaves in June for a year in Norway like she is hoping to, we will have only eight kids left at home, only half of them. Time just flies.

Well, I walked again this morning. And I ate pretty well today, although I went to a 30th birthday party for my sister's second oldest daughter Becky, who was born just a few weeks before my oldest, Emily. I made the cupcakes, and well, I had to try them. And I only ate the frosting and threw away the cupcake.

We are watching the season premiere of, "Downton Abbey"....and is it ever distracting!

Friday, January 2, 2015

family pictures

This was taken the day after Christmas, when all the nurses finally had the day off...out on the deck...14 of the kids..From left to right, Sonja K. 12, Margaret 18, Mali 20, Joseph 23, Paul, Aaron 22, Kathryn in the hat 16, Abigail 28, and Suzanne 13. Next row Jonathan 10, me, Evelyn...then Camille in the front hugging Mirielle 24, and Charlotte Claire with Emily 29 who is kneeling down... .everyone except for Samuel (Army), and Benjamin (and Ashley and granddaughter Anya, out in Washington state)

One little miss Charlotte Claire got a Darth Vader mask for Christmas.

And since I have my computer all fixed thanks to my nice husband who ordered a new screen and installed it for me, now I can post pictures again.

Today, I went for my walk, in the snow. Yay me! Then after a leisurely breakfast of sprouted grain toast with butter and the yummiest pumpkin jam I could ever have imagined which I got from Emily for Christmas...I sat and had coffee...did some laundry, cleaned up a bit...then went out and about. Mali came over first, and took Evelyn, Char, and Cam to the big mall in the big city. So I took Margaret, Kathryn, Suzanne, and Sonja with me...we went to Target, where we almost got into a terrible crash with an old man in an old car with a hood as big as our entire Sentra was, who ran the stop sign and good thing we have good brakes on the minivan, and a loud horn. He flipped us off, like it was our legs were jelly, I was shaking inside. blah, all I could think of was, no, not another vehicle crashed!

We bought just a few Christmas leftovers, and a few things for Sonja K. Then to the grocery store for chicken and bananas and spinach and half and half and coffee and bread and... pizza and some chicken wings for dinner for the kids. Paul and I split the last steak, and had a huge salad.

Home, ah home. Mali brought the girls home, and they came home happy. They got new lip gloss, and they rode the carousel, and Mali took them to eat at Panera Bread. Cam said they were all spoiled.

There are four girls in the living room right now, and it is too distracting to write...I can't for the life of me even remember what I was going to write. Good thing they're cute.

happy new year!

Sometimes I sit here and start a post, then interesting things happen around me....I am simply determined to pay more attention, and be awake to catch when one of these kids of mine needs me. Teenaged girls are funny, they never want to talk when it's convenient for me, and I am asking them how they are. But how touchy they can be if they attempt to bare their soul and I am distracted. Mom doesn't listen!

Lest I make them sound bratty, they are, and they aren't. One of them was giving me a hard time the other night, but then I got a late night text...sorry for being kind of a jerk, I let my emotions get the best of me, and I am sorry. whoa! That is no small thing! And believe me, I am very very thankful when one of them can see how they are, and want to be good. Even if it's a midnight text.

Our New Year's Eve was interesting. We planned our steak dinner, the on the way back from the movies with the three youngest, we realized the older kids' celebration didn't start until 9:30, and the three kids who worked the fundraiser would be getting home and be we detoured to a store that was still open, and bought more steak. Paul broiled the meat, I made the veggies and deep fried a whole 5 pound bag of russet potatoes, cut and some fries from the freezer. The older kids really appreciated it....and when they left, we ate...the little kids had eaten already, and it wasn't like I had planned, but hey, what is?

Then...I started to get a headache. I don't know if it was the movie, or being out in the freezing weather, or something I ate...but it got worse and worse...ibuprofen didn't touch it, so I added an acetominophen...still help...I was feeling like I was going to be sick, and my eyes hurt...I felt really guilty, but I had to go to bed fifteen minutes before midnight. I took an Excedrin, drank lots of water, and climbed into bed, feeling like I ruined New Year's. The kids stayed up with Daddy....but I couldn't move. Not even a finger, lest I feel like I was going to throw up. blah what a night. I woke up on New Year's day feeling like I had been run over by a truck, and it wasn't a hangover. It was a migraine hangover.

But that's life. Yesterday, Camille made a pineapple upside down cake from a kids' baking book we got from the library. I am allergic to pineapple, so I won't be sneaking any tastes from it. It came out beautiful, but no one wanted a piece, and I felt sorry for Cam. She had a slice, the rest of the cake is just sitting there. I am not above eating cake so a child doesn't feel like no one wanted their cake, but I can't eat it, thankfully...

The kids had pizza for dinner, Paul and I had coneys (spicy white hot dogs), we had veggies and dip, the kids had chips too...I had roasted sweet potatoes, too.

It's snowing out now, the ground is all white, it is very wintery and looks like a Christmas card out my windows.

It is cozy in here, I am sipping my coffee...lots of the kids are sleeping still, Paul is up. is sort of our anniversary. 33 years ago tonight, Paul and I met.

It was a cold night. I found out later, it was the last night of Paul's college vacation, and his brother talked him into going out with him....he would rather just stay in and play his guitar...but he went out. I was 16 years old, a junior in high school (yeah, I would kill one my daughters:)). I was spending the weekend with my cousins, who lived out in the country, but decided to go out, in the small city. I had to lie to the bouncer, to get into the bar. I had practiced saying my birthday, just moving the year back two years, over and over again. When I got to the door, I explained I had not brought my purse and didn't know I was going out, and I was born July 10 1963, which was partly true. Oh, the good old days when the drinking age was 18.

So I got into the bar. I hung around with my cousin and a few of her friends. We just stood around, playing this game called, "Wouldn't I like to bring him home to meet Mommy." Basically just checking out all of the guys, and choosing a favorite. I picked Paul out from the crowd. Oh, he was cute. Curly hair to his shoulders, slim, tall, cute. I told my cousin he was the one I wanted to bring home to meet Mommy. Then she pointed out that, as he went up to the bar, his shirt tag was sticking out. She dared me to go tuck it in. Now, I was 16 year old. I hadn't had anything to drink, we were just there to hang out. But I was dared, so I did. I went up to that cute guy and tucked his shirt tag in. He turned around, and said, "That must have taken alot of guts.", or something like that. He had just bought two beers....I guess 33 years ago, beer was cheap, they were two for a buck, I think. He handed me one, and we stood there and talked. We liked the same books, and the same cartoons. Okay, I confess, I am not head over heels for Bugs Bunny, but I thought it was adorable that he was so unashamed to admit he was. He was so cute! So clean and sincere and respectful. He asked me to dance, and the song was playing, "If I Could Fly..." So...we danced, and looked into each other's eyes, had a kiss or two...and I was gone, just in love. Remember, I was sixteen years old.

He called me the next night. And the next. It was long distance, back then, but he still called. He came to visit me a few weeks later...he apparently felt the same way about me. We did get "converted" about a year later, then were married when I was 18 and he was 20. Oh, what babies we were! But we loved each other, and that hasn't changed. We have had our ups and downs through the years, but it has always been the two of us against our problems, never divided or against each other.

He is an amazing husband. He is kind, and thoughtful, and responsible. Of course there have been times...times when I have felt slighted or ignored or that he simply didn't like me anymore. But men and women are different, and our responses differ too. Communication! We both want the same thing, but the thoughts that can grow and multiply in our own minds if we don't talk and straighten things out....

Anyway. I am thankful for Paul, even though he can be stubborn and picky and he has so much energy, he makes me feel unaccomplished and lazy, simply by his existence. :)

Ha, he is up and doing things, and here I sit, typing.

Ah well.

Pvt. Samuel W. is coming home next month to visit, if he can get approval from the whole chain of command. Paul is going to France at the end of January, but will be home by then. It will be better than Christmas, to have Sam here. He is everyone's favorite brother. It would be perfect if Ben and Ashley could take a quick trip home then too, so everyone could be together at once. Abigail and Margaret might be going to Norway for a year, leaving in June...

The kids are awake, and there are things to do. Breakfast, sweeping, a few loads of laundry....