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

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

ah what a day...

Today had a late start, because my night was hollowed out. Duke, that darned chocolate lab, is a bad boy! We didn't go through getting him neutered way back when Suri was spayed, partly because he's so old. Mostly he stays right here, goes out to go to the bathroom, and comes back in. But when the yellow lab down the road is in heat, he is just programmed to run down there and visit his girlfriend. So, we take him out only on the leash, which is fine. But. Even during the night, he starts in, howling to go out. I took him out at four o'clock. It WAS a beautiful night, clear skies and a glowing moon... Anyway. Me, fully awake...back in bed, I may as well have started cleaning the house. I was WIDE awake. I thought about every one of my kids, said my prayers, tossed and turned and solved the world's problems.

So when I finally fell back to sleep, oops, I slept too long, poor me, eh?

Believe me, I totally and fully appreciate it when I can sleep in. I will never ever forget how it feels to be exhausted and sleep starved.

Anyway. This morning, I woke up and all the laundry was done, and the house was spotless! Just kidding.

We are leaving soon, to go to the library and to the store. We have nary an apple or pear on the counter, nor any grapes or bananas. Our supply of fresh spinach and romaine/lettuce is dwindling, and the milk jug is almost empty. I am hearing rumors of girls needing shampoo and other necessities, so...we need to go to the store.

I plan to cut some coupons before we go, and be a little bit organized.

So, lots is going on, yet nothing. But here are a few things I would like to say.

1. I love Paul. He is getting nicer and more handsome, year after year. Who wouldn't like to get a text that says, "I love you, Sweetie."?

2. My kids drive me batty, but they fill my life right to the brim with goodness and fun and love. Shh, yeah, and frustration, but we won't think about that right now when we're being all sentimental.

3. Time is ticking, Jon is reminding me when we are leaving, so I need to get moving...

Monday, March 30, 2015

if feels like a monday...

Someone's got a case of the Mondays.

Is it possible for me to be less random when blogging? Let's, no.

I am thankful for today. It's cozy here in our living room with the heater going. It is not cozy outside, with the overcast skies and drizzling rain, falling on our gray snow-filled yard, garnished with mud. The snow recedes a few inches here and there, and yes, there is mud.

This is the lull in the day. We have had breakfast (Miss Char made scrambled eggs all by her little self!). We did school. We had craft time/art class. We had afternoon snack/lunch: yogurt with blueberries and granola, celery sticks, pepperoni and crackers, pumpkin seeds and roasted almonds. I like to set out little bowls of healthy-ish things so they can pick what they want in the afternoon. I just had the yogurt and berries, and a second cup of coffee...and a few pieces of celery.

Jonny is riding his scooter in the house now, Char is lying on the couch under a blanket with her Darth Vader mask, and Cam is sitting in a chair looking through a pair of binoculars. Kathryn is making a quesadilla, and Suze is still doing school work. Margaret left for her babysitting job, and Joseph is doing work on his computer.

Yesterday morning, I started the day by lounging in bed, leisurely looking at facebook on my phone...then a shower. I wandered out to the kitchen, the sunshine streaming in, thinking of a day spent with the kids, riding bikes maybe...but, I ended up going to the Dome to work at the NCAA basketball game final four! When it was decided another person was needed, I had five minutes to get ready, then out the door I went. I don't mind working, but I do feel it the next day.

Paul made dinner for me, even served me my plate when I got home! He made hot sausage stuffed chicken legs and steamed spinach. He took four teenaged girls to town to Dunkin Donuts while I was gone, because, "------" was in a bad mood, he said. I loved him then more than ever...for seeing that one of his daughters needed extra attention.

Jonathan and I are saving up for our trip to Washington state. He has dibs on all of the bottle and can money, and we are planning to sell stuff on ebay. I give him any tips I get at the Dome. We aren't supposed to take tips, but if someone leaves a buck on the counter, I am not going to just put it in the cash drawer:)

Char is lying under a blanket, just resting, and Cam is reading a book. Jon is rattling around in his room. Times like these I have to be firm, ha, I am allowed on my computer, but they aren't allowed on their tablets or computer games. It is nice and quiet in here for now, but Evelyn and Sonja will be getting off the bus in a few minutes.

Is this random enough?

Easter basket filling is this week!!! I LOVE it. I am filling one for Samuel. Mirielle and Aaron and Margaret and Evelyn are heading to Washington D.C. this weekend, and taking a basket to Sam. I guess the Easter Dinner table won't be overly crowded this year.

Here's the bus...I have to put on some coffee for Evelyn...:)

Saturday, March 28, 2015

a puppy! a puppy!

Meet the newest family member! Well, technically, he's my "grand" dog, but that's a term I won't be using. Emily adopted a dog from the rescue shelter today!

Emily and Abigail and Mirielle and Mali live in a house in a town a few miles from here. Emily and Mirielle have been wanting a dog for a long time, particularly a lab. Em's application was approved at the rescue shelter, and they received a shipment of new dogs today from down south. Oh, the choosing! All the yapping puppies and barking doggies in their cages, begging to be pet and played with. There was a sign on the wall that read, "Saving one dog will not save the world, but surely for that one dog, the world will change forever." Oh, to choose! There is a puppy room there. I cried in there. I wanted them all. They desperately wanted me, too. Or anyone, for that matter. To put their hand in the crate and scratch the back of their neck, or pat their head. One little guy was chewing at the bars, he wanted to play so badly.

This pup that Emily chose is a lab mix. He is a year and a half old, and hails from Texas. He sat there in his cage, all calm-like, and wagged his tail. We took him out for a walk in the parking lot, and he greeted the other dogs being test-walked, happily. He stopped at one point, turned around, and gave Emily this nice little huggy kissy thing, like he was making sure she was still on the end of the leash. He is a heart-stealer. I held him on my lap all the way home. He's smaller than our labs, easy to manage, and very cute.

I told Em not to be surprised, she will probably wonder a few times what the heck she was thinking, and perhaps even have some fleeting regrets about getting him. Dogs are hard work, and adjusting will be a challenge. He needs to learn a few things. But she is head over heels, and I am so happy for her....

Thursday, March 26, 2015

snowy day in the spring...

The kids are going out to play in the snow, gym class of course. We have had school, snack time/lunch time (pepperoni, crackers, carrots, pears, and angel food cake), play time (my sister called, so I told the kids, "recess!"). We then had cozy story time with hot cups of green tea and honey, reading, "Farmer Boy." I got sidetracked a little while ago looking online for strollers for Mali, blah.

Now, they are outside, and I am getting up and doing my workout. I have swept and mopped and washed clothes and bedding and cleaned and dusted today, but if that burned enough calories, I would be a thin woman. Evelyn had to go and crack open a bag of chocolate covered mint patties that were for the Easter baskets. So basically, I said, Throw Me One Of Those. She threw three.


Anyway, it has been another nice day. It is 36 degrees out, but the snow is coming down. The space heater is humming, but hey, spring WILL come.

I am super excited about my trip to Washington D.C./Virginia. The hotel I booked is actually in Manassas, Va. Hot tub and pool, yay! Cherry blossom time, and hopefully nice springy weather. Our yard has had this snow in it since January. No thawing this year. Some snow has receded along the edges now, but most of the yard has been blanketed in the same snow for two months now. So sorry if I have spring on the brain.

Ah well, off I go...even though believe me, I like my comfy chair....(I don't want to work out, ha!)

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

wednesday randomness....

1. I love homeschooling my kids. Five of them. Two go to public school. Nine have graduated. Four are registered nurses (3 of them are taking classes/continuing education to branch out to be N.P.s, or other specialties). One is an accountant (Abigail!). Ben has "graduated" from the Army, was a medic, and now is an apprentice in the HVAC program. Samuel is in the Army still. Joseph is taking classes/studying art. And Margaret just graduated in January, has a part time nanny/babysitting job, and is leaving in June or July to go to Norway for a year with Abigail.

2. I love homeschooling these kids of mine because their minds are sponges, and I simply get a kick out of their enthusiasm.

3. Yesterday was a good day. I worked out, yay me, and went for a walk. Now, before you go thinking how much I totally rock, consider this: I was huffing and puffing. I used to be able to do four sets of 20 push-ups, now I struggle with three sets of 10. not good. But. I am not giving up.

4. My weight: I lost 72 pounds, through diligence and struggle and self-denial, eating lots of good foods and cutting out bad ones. I gained back 25. Actually 30, but have gotten 5 back off. I have spent months now gaining and losing the same few pounds. That's still a maintained loss of 47 pounds, which is a good thing. But I don't have the luxury of reveling in that. I have tasted better, and want more. I know I need to move more and avoid sugar like the plague, eat more veggies, and stop my excuses. I already know what to do. My one valid excuse is that my knees are shot. Full of arthritis, and very painful. I cannot fully extend my right leg anymore. Some days are better than others, but taking those walks I so enjoy make me limpy for the rest of the day. The dr. said no hills, no stairs. But at what cost? One of these years, I will seriously consider replacement surgery.

5. Anyway, I am not giving up. I put the brakes on when I regained that 30 pounds, because believe me, I could so easily be back where I started.

6. It has been a long winter. The view from my kitchen window.

This was yesterday...there is grass! Perhaps we aren't stuck in a land of Frozen after all!

8. I am going to Washington D.C. in a few weeks to visit Samuel! I love it! I love going on base, hearing his stories, seeing him, seeing new places...we are not staying in D.C. this time, but are choosing a place in Virginia, not sure exactly where yet. Abigail and Kathryn and Suzanne are going also.

9. Paul is leaving for France that weekend.

10. Jonathan and I are saving to go on a trip by ourselves. He gets the can and bottle money, and I pay him to do little jobs. He has almost a hundred dollars already. We want to go see Benjamin and Ashley (and little Anya, my only granddaughter), in the fall, to Washington state. Charlotte Claire and Camille caught on, and want in. They each have like a hundred dollars. Jon says if we include them it will take us way longer to save. Ha, Ashley is probably reading this, thinking WHAT?!

11. I think it's good for kids to have things to look forward to, and to save for.

12. Today, Margaret is taking the three youngest kids on a field trip to have lunch with some friends who have three small children. They are pretty excited.

13. I am staying home, as I won't have a vehicle.

14. When Marge gets home, I might go to the thrift store quick, for half price Wednesday.

15. Mali is going to have a baby at the end of August, and I am stroller shopping online for her. poor me, ha.

16. The girls are awake in their room, and will be coming out to greet me...I know these years are numbered, having little ones in the house...they are growing up so fast. Miss Char will be NINE in May. Slow down, girls!

Is that random enough?

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

woo hoo, 32 degrees and sunny!

The kids rode their bikes!

Yes, it is zero degrees C. For us here in central New York state, it is WONDERFUL!!! I am going out the door in five minutes to take the little girls for a walk. They were out playing today already, but I didn't realize how warm it was out there.

Today, I stayed home. Joseph brought the car into the shop for me, Margaret left for her babysitting job, and here I am with no vehicle. It's kind of nice because, well, I can't go anywhere. We spent time today on school, and I did some housework. I have ribs and cauliflower in the oven right now, for an early dinner.

Monday, March 23, 2015

and, a birthday!!!

We had too much fun today!

It is this girl's birthday! Miss Kathryn Grace, aka Kap, or Kappy Sue. She is seventeen today...

Back when she was born, this tenth child of mine, Emily Anne, my oldest, was 13 years old. Abigail was 11, and Benjamin was 9. Mirielle was 8, Joseph 6, Aaron 5, Mali 4, Samuel 2 and a half, and Margaret was fifteen months old.

We went out and about drop off some books at the library. Kathryn drove there, what fun for me!, ha. I had to use my invisible brake, but honestly, she is a good driver. You would think by number ten, I would be bracing myself less on the dashboard.

We went to Kohl's, to find a something for Kap's birthday. She didn't find anything that she liked that was reasonable. We went to Target, same thing. I took them to McDonald's drivethrough, and let them eat in the van while I went into the grocery store for good stuff. Evelyn and I bought the makings for a Chipotle-style meal. We also bought donuts (instead of making a cake), ice cream, which they didn't even eat.

Mali came over this evening. She is 17 weeks along now, and feeling a bit better, but still has morning sickness, and an ulcer, which complicates things. She certainly likes our kitty and Duke. She is going to be a good mama.

It has been a good day, but let's be honest: no day goes by without a few snags in it. One of the cars is acting up, one of the dogs pooped in the kitchen again, GOOD MORNING to me! One of my daughters stomped off to her room TWICE. I didn't work out, I ate bites of donuts...but only one chicken nugget and two fries from McD's.

It was a very cold day, sunny, but freezing. It was ten degrees when I woke up, and 19 later in the afternoon. That is well below freezing, and with a brisk wind, brr.

But, spring will come one of these days. We will appreciate it like never before. We won't grumble about anything, when the grass appears underneath all that snow.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

happy spring!!! from us here in the frozen northeast....

This morning, at 6:17, I woke up. We have two small guests in our home, Mr. William, who is six, and his little brother Sebastian, who is three. I thought they might be awake...they slept in Jonathan's room, and slept until seven o'clock! Anyway....the first thing I noticed upon entering the kitchen, was a nice big pile...of you know, dog poop. Yup. One of those puppies had to go during the night, so they did, right near the door. ugh. I ushered them out the door so I could clean it up, and there was new snow out there!

This was taken yesterday...

snow snow go away,
not that we don't like to play,
but boots and mittens are getting old,
we're tired of all the wind and cold.
barefeet, green grass, warm sun,
fun fun fun fun

Here's a bit of sunshine though:

Cupcakes! My sister-in-law Kim turns 50, so her family threw her a surprise party! I made the cupcakes...lemon, vanilla, and chocolate. It was hard to keep it a secret from Kim, she stopped in here for coffee on the way to the Dome on Friday, and I had been baking all day...before she got here, I had to pack up those cupcakes and stack them in the little girls' room, so she wouldn't see them.

It was great fun. She had a few inklings, but was pretty surprised anyway. We had pizza and salad and fresh fruit, meatballs and rolls and tons of snacks.

I could sit here for a while, I washed dishes and swept and mopped the floors, fed the small ones some breakfast...but it's time to get moving....we are going to church, and believe me, getting 13 people out the door peacefully is...challenging.

Friday, March 20, 2015

proud army mom...

Here's Sam on the end, first row.

Sam is the front guy on the outside in this "at ease" picture...

He was in the parade in New York City on Tuesday. I wish I could have been there, but photos will have to do.

I have to leave in a little while to take Jonathan to his friends' house for a huge game of airsoft. He is spending the night there. It's a day off from real school, so they made these big plans. I had to get up extra early, because everybody with kids knows that a day off isn't a real day off unless you can't sleep in.

Tomorrow we are having special company! My niece and her husband have a six year old kindergartner named William, and three year old twins..well, one of the twins, the girl, Linnea, is going somewere with her Mama, and their daddy has to go out of town, so the boy twin, Sebastian, is coming here! With Will, to spend the day with us...and the night tomorrow!

I also have to take three kids for eye exams on Saturday, and tonight of course is the Billy Joel concert. I have to leave here today at three-ish. Sometimes I think the fun will just never end, but then I realize that yup, it will someday, so I may as well enjoy the ride.

Jon is still sleeping, I hate to wake him up...the bad puppies are in his matter how he barricades that door, they find their way in to sleep with their friend Jonny. They are bed hogs, too. The floor, ha, never. Good, I just heard the alarm on his tablet go off.

That means that two doggies will need to go outside in like two minutes, and Duke is still on leash restrictions, so off I go, into the cold morning...winter just won't get off our backs this year in the northeast....:)

Thursday, March 19, 2015

life: sunshine and roses?

If you had asked me that a few hours ago...blah. We know it's all in the attitude, but that positive attitude isn't always magically present. I had my head screwed on wrong this morning, or perhaps my shoes were too tight. It couldn't have been the empty ice cream cake pan on the counter, not totally empty of course. Maybe it was the foil that covered that ice cream cake, on the floor, complete with plenty of sticky spots, courtesy of one fat hoggy Labrador Retriever, who loves stealing things from the counter during the night. Maybe it was washing all those dishes that piled up since after dinner last night...that weren't mine. Maybe it was that I had to hook Duke to the leash and take him out, because the dog down the road is in heat again, and he disappeared for too long last evening, and that dog's owner doesn't take kindly to Duke wooing his yellow lab. Perhaps when Jonathan remarked how melty that ice cream cake was...and I questioned him about it, which led to the discovery that the large chest freezer wasn't plugged in all the, DUH. a-hem. They ate that ice cream cake last evening after I went to bed, it was melty, and duh? okay, I get it. It just didn't dawn on them.

I have sixteen kids. Eleven of them are girls. Seven of the girls still live at home (3 live with Emily),plus Joseph and Jon, who are EASY. Girls=trouble. They are good girls. Most of the time. But they are girls, and they are by nature, unpredictable. One of them didn't like something I said yesterday, so she picked up her things, and stomped down the stairs. ouch. I wanted to stomp after her and set her straight. But I didn't. I took a deep breath, and decided to talk to her later. maybe. Another of them posted something I didn't care for, so I had to talk to her. These girls of mine don't always think the same way as I do about things. I believe in giving them freedom, but then there's the line I draw. They need limits, too. They need encouragement, they need to feel a responsibility in their actions, as to the effect they have on their peers and siblings. It keeps me busy, wondering and praying and judging my own self, along with trying to steer them in the best direction. Sometimes it's wisdom to keep my mouth shut, sometimes I have to say something. Usually this isn't very clear in the moment, and believe me, I spend a lot of time on my knees, raising these girls of mine.

And I won't lie, sometimes it's exhausting. Sometimes I wish I just didn't care what they did.

But I do care, and it's my lot in life:)

Having lots of kids is more than giving birth and nursing babies.

It's juggling rides and schedules, feeding and clothing them, appointments, and...most importantly, being a good example, and raising them up to be responsible and respectful and thankful adults....

Anyway. I found my share of grumbling this morning. I actually found myself thinking that I wish I didn't KNOW that it is all how I take it. I really wanted to be mad at the world. But I couldn't be. I know, I just know without a shadow of a doubt, that all things work together for the good for those who love God. And I knew that I needed to just become more patient, more merciful, and quit complaining.

I remembered this: Thankfulness is a powerful weapon against all sin. When you start counting your blessings, those trials get short and light.

I still wanted to stomp my feet...but less and less. I am alive and well. I have today. There are times and seasons in life, of course, but today, I choose to be grateful.

Emily is having a meeting about the catering business, I have to leave here in just a few minutes. The younger kids are all working hard on their school work and it is quiet in here. The sunshine is streaming in the windows, but it is cold outside, only 15 or so.

oops, gotta run!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

what a nice day!!!!

It's still winter here in central New York state. We got a few inches of snow last night...

My day started with a headache...a headache that I have been fighting off for a while, you know, the niggling kind of background headache. It kicked in today...I had to take some ibuprofen and went to bed, after enduring through doing some schooling with the kids. I was in bed for half hour tops, and Jon came in and asked me if Margaret could take them to Pizza Hut to redeem their monthly Book-It pizza coupons...I remembered we needed dog food, so up I got. We went for pizza....

Eight of us five homeschoolers, and Margaret who just graduated in January, and Olivia, the girls bestie, and cousin.

We then went to BJ's for the dog food...and a big bag of kitty food, and kitty litter...and a huge package of Peeps for Easter.

We stopped for a few movies....

Home...I put a pork loin roast in the oven, and made two pumpkin pies. The kids hung sheets over the windows to make it nice and dark in here, and are watching, "Alexander and the Horrible Terrible Very Bad Day", or whatever it is.

So my headache went away, and we had a nice day.

The house smells heavenly, too.

So, Paul might take me to Florida with him in a few weeks! I hope so! He is getting work plans in order, and if that's his next assignment, I may just be going on a little vacation!!! I am SO excited. Even if it doesn't work out, I still get to keep this excitement...does that make sense?

I am sipping coffee, and having a little dark chocolate...what a good day.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

the dreaded phone call...but all is okay.....

I suppose I am a drama queen, and get too upset too quickly. Now that I realize that nothing is wrong, it is very clear that I overreacted. But when the phone rang and it was the state police...asking about, "a vehicle registered to a Paul W., that was found...blah blah blah..." I looked out the window. All cars accounted for except for Paul's truck. I told the nice policeman that Paul had driven his truck to work. He asked where he worked. By now I was bracing myself for bad news. The scariness bypassed all reason, assuming I have any reason, and went straight to the pit of my stomach, but shot out adrenaline down my arms to make my hands shake, along the way. Then I realized that he was saying the vehicle was parked near a bar...a bar? Paul? What? Apparently it was illegally parked, and the owner was going to tow it. I asked if it was there right now, and he said he didn't know. hmm. I asked if it was perhaps on NoName Rd., and he said, yes, it was. Okay. I figured it out....

My daughter lives close to a bar. It's a country-ish bar, does get a little rabble-rousy on the weekends, and in the warm weather, the patrons play horseshoes outside. Parking is limited, as it is in Emily's driveway, but she and her roommates know not to park at the bar. There is another business farther down the road, which apparently calls the cops if one parks there...the business owners assumed a bar patron was parked there...but it was one of my daughters who was visiting Emily's house for girls' fellowship. Yes, they were gathered to have fun and encourage each other to faithfulness...last night. The owners called the police, and the police checked out the plates, and called me. okay.

Now that it is straightened out, and I promised Officer Friendly that my daughters would not park there ever again, it is rather funny. But the first few moments of the call had me unraveling.

We are out of cat food. I can't believe that all the people around here who feed the kitties couldn't think to let me in on the fact that the bag was getting low. Now we are totally out. We are also almost out of raw spinach. We have switched from iceburg lettuce to romaine to eating almost all spinach for salads.

Anyway, I guess I am going out and about a little bit. I have a package to mail to Washington State too, some clothes for Miss Anya, my little granddaughter. Have I mentioned that they are coming east in June? Yes they are! She gets to ride on a big airplane, and come to see her Grammy! I hope she isn't scared of me. I hope she lets me cuddle her. If not, I will still enjoy her absolute cuteness, as will all her aunties and uncles. Samuel may not be able to get the time off to come up to the camp we are renting on an Adirondack lake...that breaks my heart. Apparently in the Old Guard, they are a smallish unit, and aren't supposed to ask for time off in the summer. Sam and Ben haven't been together in a year and a half. wah.

Off I go....

Monday, March 16, 2015

monday morning lazies...

I know, I know, I could go in and wake them up, lazy children of mine. The older girls are up and about doing their school work...Camille is reading a book in bed, while Char slumbers away, Cam being a good girl and not waking up her sister. Jonathan is still sleeping too. One of the things I love about homeschooling is not having to rouse sleeping children from their comfy beds on dark cold mornings. I try to get them to bed early enough that they wake naturally, early enough to tackle schooling and get it out of the way so there's still lots of time for play. They were tucked in well before ten last night, so obviously they are catching up on sleep, isn't that nice for them? Honestly, when the elementary aged kids were in public school, they were always tired. They got home from school after four each day, and had to be in bed by 8:30. So five days a week, I had four hours to spend with them...after school snack, homework, dinner, was never enough time, hence they had some days off:)

Anyway. I know it's not for everyone, but we are enjoying it immensely.

Emily, my oldest daughter, is starting her own catering company. She is a nurse at a big hospital, but has a passion for cooking. She bought an established business, complete with a delivery van, dishes, serving dishes, ect. But she's not keeping the money for herself, it's for our church. It will be lots of work, but fun too, and will keep the young people busy in a good way.

Samuel, my soldier son in the Old Guard, is on a bus heading to New York City, he is going to be in the St. Patrick's Day Parade there tomorrow.

And fast is now Monday afternoon...we did our school, then the kids read books while I worked out for a bit. Two of my girls still go to Real School, Evelyn and Sonja. When they got home, I brought them along with Camille to the small city to get salt for the water softener. We also stopped at the thrift store, where I bought a few books and not much else. We HAD to stop for a coffee, which led to a Coolata and an iced latte and three donuts. No, no donut for me.

Home: Aaron was here for a visit! Margaret and Jonathan had made chili for dinner.

Aaron is gone...the girls have been working out, doing homework. I cleaned up the kitchen and decided to sit down and relax.

The girls are now coloring at the kitchen table, and Jonathan is in from riding his bike, and playing a game on his tablet. It is nice today, but more snow is coming! More cold fronts, more snow...spring is going to be greatly appreciated this year.

I am excited about Easter. It is in 20 days, Camille and I counted today. She wanted to just Ask Siri on my phone, but I made her figure it out the regular math-y way. I suggested a family basket this year instead of individual baskets. The older kids are all for it, but the younger kids still want their own. I love filling Easter baskets. Chocolate bunnies and malted eggs and jelly beans...the smell of it all together, yummers. I will behave though.

Ah is good.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

life is too short....

1. Life is too short to hold a grudge. Let it go.

2. When I am tempted to blurt a mean retort, I try to wait a minute...think about it...and hopefully, not say it at all.

3. I am so thankful for afterthoughts. When I think later about a situation and see how hard I was, or how stubborn, or how contentious...I am thankful I have a chance to put it right.

4. Daughters are tricky creatures. "Be quick to listen and slow to speak" should be a verse that comes to mind when dealing with daughters.

5. Having two huge dogs when the snow starts to melt and the mud appears...oops, I am complaining about the snow melting!

6. Mopping the floor three times a day is good exercise.

7. Corned beef is too salty. But yum, once a year won't kill us.

8. We cracked into the Norwegian chocolate's history now. There were 13 of us here though, so we divvied it up.

9. Spring is coming! Spring is coming! Not this week, there was actually new snow on the ground this morning...but next week maybe...

10. This Friday I am working at the Billy Joel concert...not too shabby.

11. It's so nice to have Paul home again...

12. I have a huge list of the stuff I want to accomplish around here. High on that list: get the hot tub fixed!!!!

13. The house is quiet, and I am tired. Tomorrow is another day...

Thursday, March 12, 2015

cinderella movie review

The little girls were enchanted.I found myself with a smile on my face.Lily James totally nailed it! Sweet and believable, beautiful in a likable way...and with a motto, "Have courage and be kind.", how can you not love her? Plus, she was friends with the animals, and took good care of the cute little mice.

Mirielle and I, and Suzanne and Sonja, and Charlotte Claire, Camille, and cousin Danielle...headed to the small city this evening. We stopped in the dollar store first for some chocolate...I had Hershey's with almonds...

Anyway...the little girls absolutely love the movies, they were entranced. I thought the stepmother was a copy of Glenn Close in 101 Dalmations/Anglelica Huston in Ever After. Cate Blanchett is lovely, but I felt like she was poured into that stepmother mold, it was like deja vous. The prince...well, he was all right. But Prince Charming, or Kit, as he was named...should be stunning, or really handsome, or something. This guy was just so-so. I was so ready to be entertained by the stepsisters, but they were silly and loud and looked seriously dopey in their matching clothes. I think Sophie McShera, aka Daisy from Downton is adorable though. The fairy godmother had me at hello, she was flawless, Helena Bonham-Carter.

The overall look of the movie: magical. It was like Disney animation came to life. The costumes and dresses were gorgeous.

We all think we got our money's worth, it was a good movie to see on the big screen. The little ones are planning to see it again when it comes to Redbox.

Margaret took Jonathan to the library, where he stocked up on Star Wars movies. She watched one with him while we were out. I did offer to take Jon too, but he decided not to. I think he would have liked it.

Tomorrow I might take Evelyn shopping for shoes after school. With eleven daughters, I am starting to get use to hearing, "I have no shoes!". It does no good to go look in their closet and hold up pair after pair, because believe me, they have no shoes. She is being truthful though, she likes to wear nice clothes to school and her flats hurt her feet. It isn't sandal weather, and it won't be boot weather for long...the thing about Evelyn is, I offered to take her, and she said that shoes are too expensive, she would be fine. I need some time with her though, so perhaps I will insist.

Raising kids is like climbing a mountain that has no peak. Sometimes the going gets easier, but you never really get to the top. The needs change, but they still NEED. In this day and age, with internet so accessible, I can't police everything everyone does, but I try to pay attention and talk to them, encourage them, steer them in the right direction. With Paul gone so much, I am The Parent. I love being their mom, but that doesn't mean it's always easy.

Yesterday, Jonathan went to the airport with me to pick up Emily and Margaret. They had been in Paris for a few days, and in Norway. They brought back Norwegian chocolate, which I am saving for an evening when lots of the kids are here, and a really nice scarf for me from France. Oh this old thing? Yah, it's from Paris.

We picked them up, and they were hungry. We went to Moe's for lunch, oh Mexican yumminess. They have fresh tortilla chips and this homemade salsa that is just incredible.

Our dinner tonight was almost as good. I deboned several chicken breasts, and chopped up the chicken. We had Jasmine rice, chopped green and red peppers and onions, broccoli and cauliflower. I put Frank's Hot Sauce on my rice, and orange ginger on the chicken...not bad at all.

I did work out today, again! I saw a nice number on the scale, which was encouraging. It helped me not go overboard with the chocolate, thinking about that number and how I would like it to go even lower. Okay, a lot lower.

The princesses are loud and silly. It's getting late....I am tired, but it's my own fault. I read an entire book last night in bed, then another one this morning. That makes three since Sunday. That's what I do when Paul's gone.

I haven't given up on my remodeling ideas...but I am a muller, I have to mull those thougths and plans over for a while before I jump in. We have two bad kitties who are already plotting to jump up on the wet countertops which haven't even been started yet. And taking the cupboard doors off and sanding them all down...blah. Wake me up when it's finished and the kitchen looks like a page from Better Homes And Gardens. And don't even get me started on the What If list. Because Paul doesn't think the cabinets look too bad, which is in itself hilarious. But hey, he doesn't think that I look too bad either. His lack of discernment is a good thing:) But if I wreck those cabinets, make them look like one of those Home Decorating Fails, he will wonder why I even wanted to change them because they look, "fine".

Things around here don't bother him much. He likes it neat, and we both like the floors clean. But no trim around the bottom of the walls in the living room since he replaced the flooring...six years ago? Doesn't bother him. We have lived here 21 years, and still haven't put that molding around in the foyer. The one kitchen window Paul replaced like four years ago or so, has no trim around it, only ragged sheetrock. He mistakenly replaced it with a new building window, not a replacement window. So it was a bigger job than he bargained for, and he thinks it is fine. Now, I am not criticizing him. He just isn't bothered by it. And because I love him and don't want to be unappreciative, I don't want to fret and nag about it...because for one thing, it has not killed me yet, so it isn't likely to.

I certainly do miss him this week....

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

love him...

I love him.

home again, again...

Our little getaway was nice...the pool, the hot tub...stretching out on a comfy bed watching my favorite home renovating shows on cable, which we don't have here at home, good thing. Unfortunately, I ate too many Tootsie Rolls...I am not one of those, "yuck, I don't like candy, it's too sweet" kind of girls.

Sleep...well, it was scarce. I took several naps during the night. At times I just sat up in the bed and listened to the symphony of sounds...sleeping in a room with six other, I may have had a teeny bit too much coffee.

We got home today, and I took a nap. I crawled into my big comfy bed, and slept for a few hours. I had to. Because there is tired, and there is ZOMBIE. See, on Sunday night I watched that scary movie with the girls...and headed to bed around midnight, scared out of my wits. I decided to read for a while, and duh, I read the entire book from cover to cover...oops. 4 in the morning, and I was falling asleep...

So I started this little getaway tired...and ended it: ZOMBIE.

I had to take a nap because my daughters Emily and Margaret are heading back from their little trip to France and Norway, and don't know for sure if they are getting in tonight at midnight, or tomorrow afternoon..they will let me know at ten tonight. With a trip to the airport possibly looming, I had to take a nap.

And a lovely nap it was.

Now my older kids are at the youth meeting, and the younger three are watching, "Star Wars". It is too quiet in here.

I worked out this afternoon, after I woke up, cleaned the kitchen and washed dishes and did laundry...not a spectacular work out, but then none of mine have ever amounted to much. But I was in better shape when I did it consistently. I did swim this morning in the pool a bit, too.

But most importantly, today I had NO TOOTSIE ROLLS.

The Northeast is thawing out. The snowbanks are still as tall as me, at the end of my driveway, but the snow is melting. The kids went outside today and sank into it as they walked around. The roof is covered with ice and snow and Joseph is afraid of heights and of the combination of heights and ice, which I blame him not...and I am certainly not getting up there...I hope it all just falls down nicely without soaking into our roof.

The snow is going to melt and I am going to find myself missing it, when these two dogs of ours come romping in the door all muddy pawed.

Aw well, there is always something to witch about if you look hard enough.

You know what I am excited about? I am going to be a Grandma again. I don't know how that is properly said, because I already am a Grandma of one sweet little Anya...and now Mali is going to have a baby...and I am so excited about it I can't see straight. She has this adorable tummy already...and has names picked out...her baby is going to be LOVED. Mali herself is a very kind and tenderhearted girl. She is a nurse, and she has worked her butt off to get where she is. She has worked 12 hour night shifts, pausing for morning sickness, then back to work.

For her sake, I would wish things had been different...that she would be married first...but this is not really my business. She is 21 years old, and her life is her own. She has the love and support and prayers of her ten sisters and five brothers, and her parents and friends behind her. We will help her out in any way we fact, Jonathan has already declared that he will be the baby's favorite. And I only say that I wish things were different because I want what's best for her. Life isn't easy, and no mom wants to see their child struggle, all grown up or not.

Ah well...Evelyn wants help with her math homework, Paul is in France, he is the math helper, the kids' movie is over and they are settling in for the night, so I have to tuck them in and pray with them...

Monday, March 9, 2015

happy anniversary to another little trip...

Ah, 31 years ago today...I married him. I was 18 years old, and head over heels. I am STILL head over heels.

Obviously it hasn't been one smooth sailing trip through a bed of roses. ha, no sir. Marriage is a lot of work. You have to take the time to connect with each other, and keep it fun. You have to drop your ideas of how you think marriage should be...and when your feelings are hurt, talk about it! He is usually clueless! Men do not think the same way as women do.

I have had times where I have thought No Fair, I wish he hung on my every word, he doesn't appreciate me, doesn't esteem me...I have had my share of times when I thought my heart would just break...remember, we have been married for thirty one years! People change and grow and need space...but through it all, somehow, we have respected each other, and our love has grown deeper. We don't have to agree on every single thing.

But at the end of the day, what matters is that we have kept our hearts pure toward each other. Bitter thoughts haven't been allowed in. We have learned how to humble ourselves, to say we are sorry....and somehow, we have been blessed to still really really like each other.

And today, since Paul is in France, I am going on another little road trip! Just an hour or so away...a little get-a-way with Kim and 3 of her homeschooled kids, and my five homeschoolers...we have a few hotel rooms rented, and are going to celebrate her Olivia's 15th birthday! I have cuppycakes packed, and popcorn, and our bathing suits...we are leaving soon! Yay! pool, hot we come!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

happy birthday to you!!!

Today my Mali Rose turned 21. She is my seventh child, and was born way back when I was 28 years old...which is how old my mother was when I was born. Anyway...Mali is one of my four registered nurses, and she is 16 weeks pregnant. She looks adorable...and feels...well, not as bad as she did for the first trimester...she was here this evening, and we celebrated.

The kids are watching a scary movie...eating popcorn. I think I will join them....

Saturday, March 7, 2015

saturday morning and other important things....

1. I love Saturdays...especially the blank ones, that I can fill in as I go.

2. Today is not a blank one for me, but it is for some small children who are filling the living room up with dollhouse and Duplos.

3. Today is the Monster Truck Jam, not where I would choose to go if I had my druthers, but life is short, so it will be fun.

4. Paul is leaving again...for France.

5. We stayed up way way way too late last night, then I woke up far too early and started thinking about countertops and sanding things and what to do about the wood edging in the brain would not relax and let my poor tired body go back to sleep.

6. I just had the best breakfast: an egg with lots of black pepper, cooked up with diced green and red peppers and a few onions.

7. Add in some sprouted grain toast with a dash of cinnamon, honey, and butter...and a hot cup of coffee, and I am happy.

8. My two little girls are best friends/worst enemies this morning. Cam likes to whistle, Char hates it. Plus, Char's Duplo stairs keep falling down.

9. I am thankful for the prayers and kind wishes of friends regarding my brother. It is liberating to be able to talk about him here. Life goes on, but it is so therapeutic to re-live that day, in some strange way. It's like I'm finally coming to terms with it, but only a little bit.

10. Suri has a stuffed lion that she beats the snot out of and plays fetch with. She is using it as a pillow, and it is so cute it's not funny.

11. I have to go get dressed and get moving to go to the Monster Jam. It's challenging for me, physically, because I start work there at noon, and the event ends after 10:00 p.m., standing on my feet on concrete floor, serving over-priced hot dogs in soggy buns and $3.75 bottles of water:(

12. We will have a few breaks, but that means climbing steep stairs to find a place they allow us to sit in the stands.

Ah well...time to move along...blah.:)

Friday, March 6, 2015

six years later, it still hurts....

It fell on a Friday six years ago too...the day my brother took his own life. It was a warmer day, that day, with spring already starting. Paul and I were out and about buying flooring for the living room, blissfully unaware that my brother was preparing to shoot himself. I miss him, and sometimes momentarily forget that he's gone, then remember again. The pain has dulled, but it will never go away. Nor will the guilt (how could I not know?!! What did I miss? I should have known. He seemed fine.)

Life goes on, and that doesn't seem fair either. But it does.

I don't want to spend the day being sad. It is my sweet niece's birthday today...Olivia, the cousin who is here at least a few days a week. My brother lived there, shared land with my brother, and it was there that he died, out by the pond, on her birthday. Her cake sat there in the house...a nine year old girl's birthday forgotten in the midst of the police cars and ambulance...her own daddy in shock, he had found his brother. It was too much for a little girl. Too much for all of us. Her family has worked hard to make her birthdays good days, since then. To try to make some good memories that can somehow displace that unbearable day. Because the kids all loved their Uncle Billy. It was just too much, that day.

Of course suicide is one of those things people don't talk about in our society. It's right up there with miscarriages, the things that make people too uncomfortable to discuss. Cancer, heart attack, house burned down, car can talk about those things.

Anyway. I miss Billy, and I won't wallow in sadness today. He wouldn't like it.

I am feeling compelled to renovate some things around here. I am not a do-it-yourselfer though, I am an IDEA person, and want someone else to do it. And believe me, I have ideas. And here's where the fun part comes in: I think I have to do it myself. My wise daughter Mirielle told me a few months back that if Dad is going to be gone all the time, then I have to step up and just do things myself.

So here's my grand plan: I want to paint my kitchen cabinets. We built our house in 1990-1991...and those oak cabinets were all the rage. This is no small project, I need to remove all the doors and sand them, remove the handle/pulls, prime them, paint them....paint the edges of the cabinets....

And: I want to refinish my countertops. I have been scouring posts and videos about DYI fake granite...using primer, paint, and polyurethane. I'm thinking to try it out on my bathroom counter first and if it goes well, then I'll take the plunge in the kitchen.

This is all very ambitious for yours truly, who feels accomplished when using a drill to put up mini blinds.

So I think I might mosey out to Lowe's today and just take a look-see...and maybe get some supplies. I have always thought that when I feel strongly compelled to do something, I should just do it...before I decide meh, it's fine like it is.

Tomorrow, Monster Truck Jam!!! I am working there at concessions, not attending as a spectator. It's loud, but pretty cool. They truck in tons of dirt, and our basketball court/football field/lacrosse field is transformed into a dirt pit. This year is supposed to be new and improved and even more impressive. I offered to take Jon, but he declined, said the one minute videos we send from our phones will be fine. I think he just doesn't like loud noises much.

Anyway, Paul leaves for France again tomorrow, for a week.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

home again!

What a trip it was! I couldn't have driven it, but my sister-in-law did it. It took almost twice as long as it should have taken, due to bad weather. Sleet and slush and freezing rain...the tractor trailers would go by and drown us in slashings of slush. It was slippery and when it go dark out, not fun. But we still rather made it fun. Kim was doing the driving, but I was in charge of keeping her spirits up and I think I did a good job:). We thought our passengers were going to miss their flight for certain, at one point. The map on the phone was giving us a running time of our destination, and that time was standing still...and even going backwards for a while. We got them there, not knowing if they would make it through security and catch their flight...but they did! The flight was delayed an hour, yay!

So after a seven hour trip, we had to find our hotel. This was my first time in New York City, except for landing/departing at airports there. And this is about all I saw:

The Staten Island Bridge. We also went over the George Washington Bridge. We saw some buildings, and lots of lights. We entered and exited so many highways, and saw way too many cars!

By the time we got to our hotel, which we were extremely thankful we had booked ahead of time, we were almost dizzy. It was after 11 p.m., we were tired and hungry and the pool was closed. The nice guy at the desk gave us each a cookie, I think he gives everyone one. It was oatmeal/raisin/choc.chip/walnut. Mine disappeared before I could even reason with myself about it.

We found our room. It was a HUGE hotel, and our room was up in a back was like the corridors of, "The Shining"...our room was an adjoining room. The door was closed and locked between our room and our neighbors, but here were signs at the top of the door that it had been jammed open, or at least someone had tried. And there were loud voices from the other side of the wall, it sounded like a guy on the phone, or two guys talking...and I didn't like it. So....Kim bore with me, and back down to the desk we went...and asked to be changed. While we waited we heard the guy tell someone one the phone that due to high occupancy he couldn't accept the government discount rate, and the rate for the night was $179. We only paid $75. :) Anyway. We changed rooms, and were still hungry. The restaurant in the hotel was too pricey, so we had snacks....watermelon and nuts and grapes and a couple of yummy drinks I won't discuss.

I have to say, lounging in the comfy beds and watching HDTV with Kim wasn't too shabby. And in the morning, we decided not to care what anyone thought about us, and we headed to the pool, which was the focal point of the atrium, and of one else was swimming.

We got on the road, and stopped in New Jersey at IHOP. I ate my eggs, bacon, and hash browns...but those blueberry pancakes...oh dear. The topping was so sweet and too sweet, and I didn't even think to add syrup until I had eaten enough of them...they simply didn't need it. Can you believe I couldn't finish them?

Anyway...I am home today. My ear hurts, my head is congested, and I am dizzy. But other than that, no complaints.

Except for this: Abigail AND Margaret are going to Norway in June...for a whole year. They both were accepted, and I am happy for them but shh, I burst into tears and had myself a good little cry when Ab texted me this morning. A year is a long time for a mom not to see her child...even if that child is 28, and her sister is 18. wah.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

on the road again....!

Fundraising yesterday....working at the college basketball game...

And today: My bag is packed. Kim and I are driving her daughter, and a few friends to New York City so they can catch a flight to Norway (where Emily and Margaret are now) for a church conference. Since it is a long drive from here, 5 hours, we are spending the night! We will say bye-bye to our passengers, and find our hotel...I anticipate a relaxing evening after a long drive...

Goodbye for now!

Monday, March 2, 2015

lazy sunday afternoon....

Camille woke up with a fever this morning. I made her hot tea with honey and milk and put it in a sippy cup so she could lie on the couch and watch cartoons with it. Charlotte Claire joined her, but wanted her tea in a regular mug. I scooped both of those girls up onto my lap and they sat with me in my chair for a while.

Jonathan was invited over to a friend's house this afternoon, and I had girls where who wanted to go out and about. We had no church today because there was a conference, which Joseph went to. Anyway, we dropped Jon off, then went to...Kohl's. I had shoes to return. I like browsing around looking for things. I found: sneakers for Jonathan, Reebok, regularly $60 for $17, beautiful dresses for the princesses for $6.50 each, an adorable coat to send to Anya, and a few things to put away for Kathryn's birthday, which she picked out herself.

Then to the grocery store...Sonja remembered that you can order fries and onion rings at the fish department, I had two onion rings on the way home, but no fries.

Home...I put chicken in the oven that had been marinating in the fridge, put on some rice to boil, and microwaved some green beans, and some mixed veggies. We also had a few loaves of fresh soft peasant bread from the store...I ate a tiny piece of the end slice with butter....oh heavenly yum. Bread is simply the best, but if it made one thin, I wouldn't be where I am today.

Tomorrow: basketball game. Tuesday: a little trip out of town with my sister-in-law Kim. Then Saturday, Paul leaves for France, and I head over to the Dome to work at the Monster Jam...

And blah blah blah, as my father used to say. It is now Mundane morning, and my life is so exciting! Even Camille knows how thrilling things have been around here lately. She was hopping around the kitchen this morning, listing off the amazing things that have happened lately:

1." First," she said, "we got a new garbage can!"

2. "You bought a new mop!"

3." We moved the microwave to a different counter!"

4. "Then we won a loaf of bread from Price Chopper! Can we go there today and get it?"

Ha, the loaf of bread. I also won a muffin. They're having a sweepstakes game, and I am collecting the stickers and putting them in the little booklet...of course I have only one or two that I still need in all the categories, which I seriously doubt I am going to come across. Well, last night I was sticking my newest stickers in, and the little girls joined me in my comfy chair. We speculated on where we would go on our free $10,000 vacation or what we would do if we won the $20,000 home makeover. I pointed out that I wouldn't mind winning the new car, but Cam would prefer the XBox One. I would probably win something boring like free gas for a year.

It was kind of mean of me to get them all excited, they really think we're going to win. I had my older girls feeling sorry for me last week, because I pretended I thought we were really going to win something, and I saw them looking at each other, conveying that, "Poor Mom" glance.

The other night, one of my girls gave me a hard time about something. I'll spare the details, but later that night, she texted me and apologized. She said she was thankful for Dad and I, and all we do for her. Is there joy that can compare to what I felt?

Jon, Char, and Cam have colds. Not terribly bad ones, but those little fevers seemed to be the onset. I don't have a fever, but my eyes hurt, and my head aches terribly. When I turn my head too fast, the room spins...which to some degree is normal for me, I have too much fluid in my ears. I think I may have the cold too, but it is all in my head, ha, not my imagination.

My very favorite cashier at P. Chopper is moving to a different store, tomorrow is her last day. Big deal, you might say. But this girl, she is a treasure. She is so simple and sincere, and very lovely in an unconventional way. She is a little bit slow, perhaps, but she has a huge heart. She told me that she's leaving because she has a brother with special needs, she needs to spend more time with him and help him more, and working closer to home will help. She said that she wants to leave this world better than she came into it, and wants to be an example in her life. She wants to get treasures in heaven, and not spend her time on herself. I believe with all my heart that I will see this girl again eternity.

Ah well, school time.