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, April 30, 2015

happy birthday, to jon!

They are playing store. If I don't catch them quickly in the morning, they get involved in these things, and it's so hard for me to tear them away to do schooling. So this fine birthday morning, while the aroma of Jon's favorite cookies wafts through the house..

So they are playing store, using two toy shopping carts, and now they've made a whole pile of fake money. They have raided the cupboards, and Jon got out a stack of video games to "buy", he says they are all half off today. The cashiers are having a snack break now though...

I have been avoiding baking cookies. Because I am The Cookie Monster. And these oatmeal cookies are almost to die for. They are made with butter and a little bit of coconut oil, and then all the other evil things like white flour and sugars. I haven't had one and don't plan to, but I never forget a cookie, and I know if I were to bite into one, I wouldn't be disappointed with the chewy consistency...oh yummers. But I have decided to stay on the straight and narrow, and since I'm not the moderation kind of girl when it comes to cookies, I just won't have any. One cookie will just fuel the fire.

Anyway. I made only a single batch, no doubling or tripling. Did I mention how yummy they smell?

Birthday cookies and milk for breakfast! Because...why not?

The weather here in the northeast is finally cracking...letting in some spring warmth. The sun is shining, and today will be in the sixties. We were outside yesterday, then went to the pool. Not too shabby.

We ARE going to do some school today. After cookie break. They know it's nice out, so they will get their stuff done so they can run around in their barefeet and soak up the sun.

Writing this between taking trays of cookies out of the oven and cleaning up two milk spills...I can't concentrate. Not to mention the excited kids goodbye for now.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

a new stroller!

Miss Camille was the most excited when we found this stroller to buy for her big sister Mali's new baby, which is due at the end of the summer.

So...I told Miss Mali that I would buy her the stroller/carseat. I was NOT thinking Graco. I am a stroller snob, and wanted something European. I browsed ebay, and craigslist...but didn't see anything spectacular at an affordable price. Yesterday, Camille came along with me when I dropped Margaret off at work. She works 20+ minutes away. If I return home, then drive back to get her, it's 80 minutes of driving. She works three hour stretches, and her job is right down the road from I just stay there...there is a library and a park, and a few minutes farther, Target and grocery stores and and and.

So yesterday Camille was with me. I didn't need groceries or anything, so I asked her what she wanted to do. Toy store! Of course. The apple doesn't rot very far from the tree:) Anyway, clearance sale! This stroller with the car seat was only $102! A hundred bucks! The car seat is very nice and cushy, and the stroller is surprisingly nice, for a Graco. The footrest can adjust to make a cozy bassinet like bed for baby, and the seat back reclines all the way. The hood is huge, and it is pushes like a dream. Camille pushed it all the way through Toys R Us, she had more fun than you would believe.

My little friend is on his way, so goodbye for now...

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

terrible tuesday...

Camille found a new passion. She isn't the picture of grace, which sometimes breaks my heart, but she THINKS she is, so it's okay. You should see her do ballet.

Ah. Today is sunny and beautiful, and not really so terrible. I mean, I am alive. That's something. I won't complain about my Hollowed Out night. (That's when you fall asleep like a log, then wake up and think about things. The bed is uncomfy and you get hot and cold and have great ideas and the list of things you know you have to do grows and grows...then the blinds start brightening, and you check the time...ugh, almost time to get up. You try to fall back to sleep for that last hour, but don't doze until like five minutes before you have to get up. That's a hollowed out night.) Anyway. Aside from feeling really sleepy, it's a good day.

Yesterday...I dropped some kids off at the library, then headed to Target to buy a new blender. Our old one died after only two years, but appliances in our house are used like five times more often than the average. And my kids are smoothie makers. We chose a nicer model, and it the kids couldn't wait to come home and start making smoothies. I also bought Char and Cam each a cute pair of shorts and a top, for our upcoming trip to Washington D.C....Memorial Day weekend. I found some pants for Jonathan, too. And leggings for Sonja. And popcorn and slushies on the way out the door. They love to pour their own icee/slushie. Of course they do. Aldi for half and half and milk and eggs and bananas and oranges and lemons.

Then to Tops for a few other things...I found Dannon fruit on the bottom strawberry yogurt for twenty cents. I got 21 of them, left one behind because my mother taught me to never take the last one. One of the kids asked why I was buying so many...duh. For smoothies!

Anyway. Home, put the stuff away, and took Kathryn to soccer practice.

The kids weren't very hungry for dinner because they had smoothies so late in the day, and Paul ate a late lunch. So I cooked up some bacon, then baked a big batch of kale tossed in olive oil...sliced up some grapefruit, and washed the strawberries. A healthy little snack.

Davian is here today, playing dollhouse with Camille. Charlotte Claire just woke up and told me that she was awake all night. I showed her where I wrote about the Hollowed Out night. hmm. Her's sounded just like mine.

I do have places to go today, but tomorrow I might stay home...if I can. I don't mind going out and about, but it's hard to balance school, cleaning the place up, and all these home improvement projects are only getting done in my mind in the middle of the night.

Last night when I did sleep, I had a dream about a tiny baby. I scooped that baby up, it was warm and trusting and I loved it. It's mother said I could have it, then it's daddy came along and took it away. I just stood there rubbing my empty hands together, telling that daddy to be good to his baby. Okay, I know it made no sense.

Ah well. Paul rototilled a spot in the front yard for Evelyn and I to plant stuff. I am no landscaper, and neither of my thumbs are green. But now that my little ones are growing up, the things that I never had time for are possibilities. For years and years, it was enough to just get the lawn mowed, and paint the trim every few years, maybe do some weed-eating. There was simply enough to do INSIDE the house. When I got outside, I had babies and toddlers to tend to...and just painting trim, for example, was accomplished real quick during naptime.

Time to get moving...I have washed dishes and swept and mopped and wiped down counters. Now I have to get these kiddos some breakfast and start some schooling...

Monday, April 27, 2015

marvelous monday...

And just why is it marvelous? No, I didn't win the lottery, and no, I am not pregnant. We didn't decide to build a new house, heck, we haven't even fixed the hot tub. The refrigerator still leaks, as does the washing machine (that's what towels were made for right?). I am still fat, and the house is still messy. But. I am alive. And today is stretched before me....

In an hour or so, my sweet little Davian is coming over. He's not exactly, "mine", but he certainly owns part of my heart. He is my niece and her husband's son, and he is a total sweetie. I get to watch him this week. He has so much personality, and adds so much to our home when he's here. The little girls cluck around, wanting to take care of him and play with him, and Jonathan loves having a little friend to impress. And Davian impresses us regularly. He's an extremely intelligent child, I wouldn't believe it if I didn't know him...he knows the planets and the state capitals and how to read...and not just simple stuff. He reads and understands what he has read. He turned three in January. :)

When someone trusts me/us with their child, I do feel a huge weight of responsibility, yet also very blessed.

Mali was here yesterday. She is still pretty sick. She threw up three times. She kept down only crackers, the whole day. She has this cute little tummy now, and the baby is kicking. I am looking forward to meeting this new grand child, and since Mali will be going back to work after maternity leave (probably six weeks or so), I will be babysitting for her. I intend to love this child as much as Mali will, and since I love her already, I'm off to a good start. Anyway, Mali brought came over with her new kitten, a tiny little black thing that cuddled up under her chin and purred. The kids had too much fun keeping track of that kitten, and our doggies were SO good, interested in it, but they just wagged and sniffed.

So here's the thing: hot flashes. If you have never had them, or if you went through the dreaded Change and it was a piece of cake, I hate you. Seriously. I mean, I'm sleeping away, and all of the sudden I'm hot. Hot all over, and have to thrash off all the covers. If I'm lucky enough to drift back to sleep, I wake up freezing. Then it happens again. Five o'clock rolls around. Then six. And there I am, all wide awake. I had one in the store the other day and it is not fun. And this is the big thing in life, along with miscarriages and periods, that is not to be talked about. I mean, can I really answer the cashier's friendly query, "And how are you today?", with..."Well, not too bad, but I just had a horrible hot flash in the cereal aisle." It is not spoken about. It's personal, and we are to be quiet about it. It's like Ha, You're Getting Old! But don't talk about it.

There, I feel better.

Emily and Abigail also visited yesterday, along with my niece Audrey. The little girls had their friend Amanda over, and it was quite a busy house, with the kitten here and all. One pint-sized kitten can add a lot of hullabaloo. We had taco salad, and I made a quick pan of brownies, using coconut oil instead of canola or vegetable oil, and I'm sad to say that I tasted some and they were excellent. It was only one batch, and it went quickly, thankfully. waking up, things to learn, breakfast to make...

Saturday, April 25, 2015

out and about....on a lovely saturday...

oops, this one was from yesterday after the pool...Kathryn was driving...and not appreciating her fun mom.

This was from my walk this morning...the air was crisp, but oh the promise of spring!! Look at that sky!

Evelyn wanted to go to the book sale at the library today. And why not? We took Suzanne and Sonja too. We had to stop in the dollar store afterward for some potting soil...the girls got silly...

These three youngest children of ours, Jonathan (#14), Charlotte Claire (#15), and Camille, the baby...we took them out for Chinese food, Paul and I. The older kids were all busy...

And so another lovely Saturday has passed. The kids are watching, "Penguins". The house is quiet, the teenagers are all still gone.

We decided it was fun to go to the Chinese buffet, but blah, the greasy food, yuck. Even the kids felt too full. Ah well. It was fun. We drove all around the country roads on the way home.

Friday, April 24, 2015

keeping it real....

If you walked into my house right now, you might wonder why I am sitting here in my comfy chair with my feet up, wearing my lovely blue and black slippers. You might glance at that Minion slipper on the coffee table on the stack of books, and wonder why there is so much dust. How CAN she just sit there, when there is clearly work to be done?!

Well, shh, I'll tell you why. It's because it's QUIET in here. The space heater is droning, the snow is falling furiously outside...the kids are all still sleeping, except for the two girls who left hours ago for Real School. I have had my coffee...swept floors, cleaned the top of the stove, polished the appliances, cleaned the inside of the microwave...all the while thinking that I wanted to sit down and write in the QUIET. And, I finished my book. It was a good one, it made me cry. It's called, "Lila", by Marilyn Robinson.

Yesterday, after dropping Margaret off at work, Kathryn, Suzanne, and I, went to Kmart. If you ever wonder why Kmart is doing so badly, just go shopping there, and it will become apparent really quickly. Kmart has a special place in my good memories, because my mother worked there part-time when I was a little girl. She worked in the back, in the snack bar part. I remember my father getting my little brother and I a fountain soda there, it was like 17 cents for a small. We could get it ourselves, so we mixed orange and root beer and cola. There were balloons hanging over the cash could pick one if you were buying an ice cream sundae, and maybe get it free if there was a free coupon in the balloon. We never got sundaes there, so we never got to pick a balloon. One could smoke in Kmart back then, and I remember my dad sitting there smoking, waiting for my mother to get off work.

In our Kmart, there was a little deli in the front of the store, too, and sometimes the blue light would be flashing, and the announcer saying, "We have a blue light special in the front of the store, where our sliced baked ham is now only,"whatever, something cheap..."a pound, for the next ten minutes only!" We would see the lady with the blue light cart, and follow her, so we could be the first ones there when it was announced. I remember when my mother worked there, waking up in the morning sometimes and finding a special present that she had brought home the night before. She worked until 10pm, so we were asleep when she got home, those nights she worked.

So Kmart was my favorite store as a kid. (Walmart was a southern thing back then, I had never heard of it.) Our Kmart burned down one time. My father took us there to see it, all ashes and blackened. I cried my eyes out because the doll I had picked out that I wanted for Christmas was all burned up.

Anyway, Kmart now...meh. I bought new quilts for the couches...they are cheap-o. I bought a few lightweight chairs that come in the little bags you can sling over your shoulder, for our next trip to Washington D.C., for the parade, for Grandma.:) and me:). I bought one little Loving Family dollhouse car to put on ebay.

Then we went to the thrift store. It wasn't half price Wednesday, but I did have a seven dollar off coupon. We bought some serving bowls, a nice Columbia jacket for one of the girls, some clothes for the little girls, and a tea pot and cups for Charlotte Claire, still in the box. the library for a while.

Home...we had roasted kale with olive oil and sea salt. Jonathan rolled out pizza dough. We had a pepperoni, a bacon, and a garlic pizza. We had a whole pan of zucchini pizzas, too, for those of us who just won't eat pizza dough. :) We had hot sausages, too.

The baseball game was cancelled, btw. Too snowy. Nice April we are having. quiet is over, the kids are all up...and we are going to the pool today after our school time...

Thursday, April 23, 2015

our huge family.....with pictures

Life in a big family, like everything else, changes as the years go by. My first baby was born 30 years ago, the last one 7 years ago. The busyness got busier, life got so hectic it couldn't get more hectic, then the babies stopped coming...and I could breathe again. I didn't die of lack of sleep. It didn't kill me that I could never ever finish one little thing without a baby crying for me. It felt like it would, sometimes. It wasn't easy, raising all these kids. The ear infections and diaper rashes and bee stings and broken bones, well check-ups and kindergarten registrations. Graduations and birthdays and driving tests. Shuttling them to sports practices and youth meetings and to friends' houses.

The pace has slowed down a bit years ago, I would have been writing with a baby in my arms. I don't get up in the night with them anymore, except when Camille has a bad dream. She is so cute, she doesn't turn on any lights, she just creeps into our room and stands by the bed...I wake up, aware that someone's there, and AAAHHH, try not to startle her when I freak. Anyway.

The pace has slowed down a bit. I am free to come and go a bit more, without packing the up the diaper bag, buckling them all in...sticking that pack of crackers in my purse.

My days used to start with diaper changes and bottles and sippy cups and nursing and chasing toddlers, while getting older kids ready for school and remembering to sign homework logs and pack lunches and and and. The baths and showers and brushing the girls' hair...finding matching socks and making sure they went out the door with the proper shoes and coats. When Emily was a teenager, she had to have wisdom teeth pulled. Let's see...if she was 16, Abigail was 14, Ben was 12, Mirielle 11, Joseph 9, Aaron 8, Mali 6, Samuel 5, Margaret 4, Kathryn 3, Evelyn 1, and Suzanne a tiny baby. The day of her surgery, Abigail and Ben and Mirielle and Joe and Aaron and Mali, went to school as usual. But we had to bring Sam and Margaret and Kap and Evelyn and of course little baby Suzanne, with us to the appointment. Phew. We got there. As I sat down in the waiting room, I realized that Sam had two left boots on. Aaron had the same boots as Sam, in a larger size. So Sam had one huge boot on, and one smaller one on, both left boots. oh well. I seem to remember we stopped at Walmart on the way home to get a prescription filled for Em...poor Em.

Anyway. Life has slowed down. I don't miss the craziness of those days, but I do miss the babies. I wouldn't have traded it for anything. I learned that one can handle much more than one thinks...perhaps not as stylishly as one would like...

Paul and me...

Here are my children....

Emily Anne, our oldest...with Lou, her little sweetheart rescue dog. Em is a nurse, is starting up a catering company, and is always taking more classes...she will be a nurse practitioner one of these days.

Abigail Marie...she is an accountant and will be leaving in June/July to go to Norway for a year.

Benjamin comes next. He is finished with the Army, he was a medic in Afghanistan, but now is an HVAC apprentice. He has a wife, Ashley, and little Anya...and of course Baxter.

Mirielle Joy...she is also a nurse. She hates her middle name, but that's because she doesn't realize what a true joy she really is.

Joseph, child #5. He is an animal lover, and an artist. He is funny and sarcastic and likes to go barefoot. He is also extremely respectful and thoughtful.

Aaron is also an nurse. (he's the one in the middle, between Ev and Sam). He is one of my favorites, such a big heart.

Mali Rose...she also a nurse. She is also going to have a baby girl in August. :)

Samuel James, in the Old Guard, U.S. Army. He is the one on the left, the shorter one. (the other guy is Asher, the boy from Kentucky who chased down the little girl's hat from the busy street in D.C. that day). I have other pics of Sam, but liked this in his dress uniform.

Margaret Cheryl...all grown up and graduated from high school. She is working hard to save up for her plane ticket to Norway, she is going there for a year with Abigail.

Kathryn Grace, aka Kap, or Kappy Sue. She is with her big brother Sam...they are buddies. Kathryn is homeschooling 11th grade this year. She is a tomboy and a rebel, but oh she's sweet.

Evelyn Joy...she's my drama queen. She is a voracious reader, and when we read the same books we have a great time analyzing and reviewing. She goes to 9th grade in real school.

Suzanne Eleanor...she also homeschools, 8th grade. She is besties with Kap, and is a sweetheart.

Miss Sonja Kathleen, seventh grader at real school. She is also known as Ginger, or Ginge. She is just plain sunny.

Jonathan Robert...Jonny. He's homeschooled, 5th grade this year. He is like a miniature adult most of the time. He is responsible and reliable yet he still likes to run around and play.

Charlotte Claire, long hair. She homeschools this year, and I love it! She is finally into reading chapter books, and is doing well. She's a StarWars nerd:)

Camille Anaya, Cam. She's the baby, the #16 child. She's still cuddly. She also homeschools, 2nd grade. She is smart and quick and is a joy to have around.

And of course we have the two Labs...they complete us:) They add dirty floors and hairy furniture, but also wagging tails and happy faces when they see us in the morning. Yeah, they smile.

I'm glad I did this today. I reminded myself of how blessed I am. Because I was feeling a tiny bit sorry for know, just starting to gather up some thoughts of Poor Me, but not in a total wallow. Yesterday one of my daughters was so totally rude to me. Unacceptably rude. I had the sense to drop it at the moment, because she was pretty upset about something. No use making it worse. The bottom line, is, it hurt my feelings terribly. I would never have treated my mother like that. I don't want to dredge it up again, but I do have to let her know, again, that it is not all right to be mean to mom. Then this morning, I looked out the window and:

Yeah, it snowed here. I mentioned it to one of my kids, who just answered, "rrr". Never mind, don't talk to me. Then I told Paul something, which he didn't seem to find interesting...and that feeling came..poor me. No one cares. It's not really true, and I won't start down that slippery slope, but honestly, I felt like I could just use a good cry.

It is snowing again, and guess what? There's baseball game today! Paul's coming home from work half day, and we're working at it together. In the snow. Do they play baseball in the snow? I don't know. There's Rained Out, but is there Snowed Out? It's cold, too! We're practically outside there, with the window open to the elements, brrr! I thought we were done with the snow....

Kids are awake, time to get moving...

Wednesday, April 22, 2015


Yesterday, I went to the library....with my four homeschooled daughters.

Camille checks out chapter books, but likes to sit and read the picture books.

Charlotte Claire is discovering how nice it is to read a book. In the beginning of this school year, she didn't care much for going to the library.

We also went to the fabric store to get some bracelet cording for Paul. Yes, Paul. He watched a you-tube video and taught himself to braid the cord like the infantry cords, and made bracelets for a few of the girls, and yeah, one for himself. Parachute cord, it is. We ended up finding a whole plethora of newly discounted bracelet supplies like beads and clasps.

And, a group selfie. My kids are getting a little use to me wanting to take pictures when we go out and about:)

After the fabric store, I dropped them off at...McDonald's. They really wanted to go, just one dollar item each, please Mom. Fine. They ended up having quite a good time there, while I ran through Price-Chopper all by my lonesome. I picked up some more strawberries, green peppers, chicken, coffee, and yogurt...and two loaves of bread because the cheese was on sale. I realized that my kids love grilled cheese sandwiches, and just because I don't eat bread anymore doesn't mean they shouldn't have the option of their favorite lunch. Anyway.

We had taco salad for dinner, yay me, I didn't have any tortilla chips with mine. I had a good day square of dark chocolate, two squares of milk chocolate...from France...not optimal, but not too bad overall. Paul cooked up some fresh beets with dinner, and I had some...yummers.

I got up early this morning. I do this thing where I wake up in the wee hours of the morning and start thinking about important things. This morning it was around five a.m. I finally got up at 6:11. If let the dogs out, then wiped their muddy paws when they came back in. I fed them, swept the floors, washed up the stray dishes that accumulated since dinner last night, wiped down the counters, and talked with Evelyn and Sonja as they got ready for Real School. I put in some laundry, and talked to Paul as he got ready for work, and I had some bulletproof coffee (Paul's recipe). He has been eating super healthy, and doing intermittent fasting...he hasn't lost weight, but is leaner, and is feeling so good. He was hardly jet-lagged after this last trip, and I think it's because of his diet. He was showing me the notches on his belt..,"Sure, show the fat girl how big your belt is getting on you."

No fair.

But, there's nothing I can do but keep on, and not give up. Progress is so sloooooow. Once I decide I want something, I don't want to wait for it! Each little thing we do seems so inconsequential, but that is deceiving. It does matter, overall. Losing weight is the result of a massive series of small decisions, many of which are truly painful. It's sort of like our path of doesn't happen overnight, but if we listen to that still small voice of God speaking to us about our own behavior, and are faithful, then we make progress and become more patient and more humble.

Kathryn is up now, so I will end my rantings and ramblings now. It is one of those cozy dark and rainy days here in central New York state, and I want to go get in bed with my stack of library books...but I have things to do and children to teach. I have to take Miss Margaret to the post office to mail in her paperwork for her work Visa, she is going to Norway for a year with Abigail. The little girls want to go to the pool. So..bye for now.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

getting that motivation back....

Way back when I first started to live a healthier lifestyle, aka diet and excercise...I was so full of motivation, it was coming out my ears. I could have bottled it up and made millions. I never thought it would run dry. I was certainly tempted, but no sir, I was holding fast. I had a vision, you see. And that vision was pure and hopeful and, I was going to finally get thin!

Fast forward four years...I have stayed in the war, but have not been strong through all of the battles. If I had surrendered, I have no doubt I would be back where I started or worse. But I did not wave that white flag. No, I re-started the war. During the long long cold winter, I admit that I veered off course too many times with baking cookies and eating leftover pie for breakfast. But not stacks of cookies...just a few. I didn't totally binge or go crazy...but giving in just a little here and there is deadly for someone like me. The weight goes back on so unfairly, so easily. One dinner out, two pounds. One day of eating pie for all three meals, two pounds. Since January, I have been losing and re-gaining the same pounds. I refuse to go higher on the scale. So I have maintained an almost fifty pound loss, but it WAS an over SEVENTY pound loss. Almost 25 pounds crept back on...

Now I have my head back in the game. I am serious again. Believe me, I have been serious again like every night when I get in bed, thinking that tomorrow will be fantastic. But. Now I really am. See, walking around Washington D.C. for hours and hours...hurt my feet. Even in my old worn out Birkenstocks, my most comfy shoes. Blisters on my insoles, bruises on the tops of my feet from the straps. I worked at a lacrosse game and two baseball games last week, wearing my sneakers, and my feet KILLED. I would get home, and put them up, and they would throb like they were hit with a hammer. I couldn't help but think, I need to lose this weight. It can't hurt.

I have been flexing and exercising them, and putting them up frequently...and working out, and avoiding sugar...and white flour...not for vanity. Not for swimsuit season...but because my feet hurt.

But whatever the reason, my heart or my shoes...I'll take it.

I know how tenuous this motivated state of mind is. I am so easily deceived....

But, "start as you mean to go on", my mother used to say. So I don't want to cut back severely, and not be able to maintain that for I am purposely leaving popcorn on my I Can Eat It list. And, occasional ice cream. But. The general day to day eating is just going to be clean.

Anyway. This is my life

Yesterday, the three youngest kids helped me make my shopping list. They agreed to trying a new thing: buying only healthy stuff from the store so there won't be cookies or candy or chips to tempt us. No bread or cereal. No soda or juice. Just oats (for oatmeal), fruits, veggies, meat, yogurt. I brought home mangoes and bananas and strawberries and pears and apples and grapes, tomatoes, spinach, carrots, potatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, cucumbers, yellow squash, and lettuces. I did buy rice cakes and corn tortillas, and tortilla chips, as well as some sweet potato chips for lunches. I bought cheeses and hummus and veggie dips and butter and eggs and bacon, as well as chickens and sausages and ground beef.

We rarely eat sandwiches anyway, and if the kids want, they can have crackers or rice cakes. I hate feeding them cereal, they are okay with trying to avoid cereal and bagels...white flour just turns to sugar, and is no good for them. They are planning to have yogurt with fruit for breakfast...some of them just eat a banana anyways.

I am not opposed to giving them chocolate sometimes, and we will certainly be having ice cream as a treat...just not so much junk on a regular basis.

I have to get moving, I am bringing my brother to a doctor's appointment and have to leave here soon. Suzanne and Joseph will be here with the little ones for a few hours...they know that if I leave, no tablets or computer or television, just reading books or playing or doing school work...

Monday, April 20, 2015

the good things in life....

Good food. I try. Fruits and veggies and meat...a little bit of dairy (half and half in my coffee, and occasional yogurt...) There are all sorts of regimens and programs out there, but I am just trying to stay away from sugars and grains. I never thought, a few years ago, that I could live without bread. But here I am, alive and happy.

Don't get me wrong, I did crack into the chocolate from France...honestly, Paul hugged me and said, "Sweets for the sweet." And they were sweet. Lots of my kids were here from their weekend away in Ottowa, so I had help...thankfully! I know better than to open a bar of European chocolate when I am here by my lonesome.

Yesterday was a brilliantly beautiful day! We had blue skies and the sixties anyway. It was a day for hanging clothes out to dry, and putting on shorts to get a little color on my shockingly white chunky legs. The princesses have had their cousin Dani here for the weekend, and they have been playing in the woods. They set up a campsite in the woods, because they got lost from their real they have made a bed of grasses near the creek, and have buckets and an old tin pail, and made a spinning wheel from an old stroller wheel...what they need to spin at a campsite is beyond me, but they have been having a blast out there. Muddy girls. I visited and admired their site, then we tromped through the yard and marveled at the bike that grew into a tree. Actually, the tree grew in the middle of the bike tire, but either way, it's pretty cool. It's in the way back yard, and I guess it's what happens when one leaves a bike out in nature.

Paul joined us outside. He was foraging for edibles. He has been reading about the different plants that grow naturally and how they are healthy...he was like a little kid when he discovered something he had been looking for. Here, taste this, he would say. Um, it tastes like grass. He said it was really good for you. It TASTES really good for you. Anyway. He is funny. He thinned the raspberry bushes and planted the blueberries I got him for his birthday. The girls and I got rakes and shovels and helped the creek flow better. I was mud up to the ankles. The dogs were horrid, they slopped through the creek, and would even lie right down in it. They were so muddy! They weren't allowed in the house all day, until I gave them baths, which I finally did. Duke is so good, he climbed right into the tub and sat down. I told him over and over what a good boy he is, he loves me. Outside, he would follow me EVERYWHERE. If I walked ten feet, he got up, followed me, and would lie down again. Paul realized what he was doing, and told me to walk over a bit...and sure enough, Duke got up, walked over to me, sat down, then settled with his head on his paws...keeping an eye on me. He did it for the entire day. It didn't matter if Paul was wandering around in the woods, Duke stayed with me. I hadn't realized before how much he is MY dog, and believe me, I appreciate it. It makes me happy.

We also cleaned under the deck. I asked Paul if we please could, it's a big job for just me, and Paul is a better helper than the kids...he didn't complain about it at all. And believe me, there was plenty that COULD be complained about...I mean, if your mirror breaks, do you just put the broken mirror under the deck for the glass to fall all over? Apparently. Anyway, we got it all cleaned up, and it made me happy.

We had broiled steak for was a cheap cut, of course, London Broil, so I marinated it first. Paul doesn't like commercial dressings or marinades with soy in them, so I made my own...a splash of white vinegar, some olive oil, an egg, and some roast beef seasoning, lots of pepper, and a pinch of salt. It was pretty yummy. We had it with lots of different veggies...but no potatoes or rice or bread.

People think religion is hard and heavy and rules-y. But when one is thankful, is that hard and heavy? When one chooses to judge oneself instead of others, is that heavy? How about when one chooses to bless instead of curse. Or not return evil for evil...or to overcome evil with good....or to not be anxious for tomorrow...or to trust in the Lord with all of their heart and not lean on their own it hard and heavy to live like that? Is it difficult to be with someone who lives like that? Absolutely not! More and more and more, I am enjoying my husband. He simply will not let the cares of this life weigh him down. He fights against complaining and unthankfulness, and he is a joy to be with. The way he lives is such an encouragement to believe with all of my heart that each and every trial that comes my way is weighed and measured, and is for my absolute best. God knows what I need, and He will never leave me or forsake me.

It doesn't magically make everything easy-peasy. It's a fight to say NO to sin. But it's a fight well worth fighting! Jesus said, "Follow me!" His yoke is easy and His burden is light. Lying and backbiting and lusting after money and people and power and being miserable and discontent and worrying...who wants to be bound by those things? not me. I am so thankful that God has been so good to me...when I see my kids grow up and choose to follow Him, to live purely...I get a glimpse how it must be for God when I make good choices...

Life is short. When I stand before Him on that day, I certainly won't wish I had been mean and backbitten more. I won't wish I had had more money and a bigger cleaner house, or that I had aged well and looked spiffy. If I have any regrets standing there, they will certainly be that I wasn't faithful to that still small voice from heaven...that would speak to my heart about my own behavior...

So today will be a good day. Camille is up now, lying on the couch with a book. It is rainy today, and I have already been out and about, driving Jonathan and Kathryn to my brother's house to watch one of his grandchildren while he has eye surgery. Char is still in bed, I will have to make sure she isn't on her tablet, it IS a school day. Jon and Kap will have to make it up later.:)

Suze is still in bed too. Seven of my kids went to Ottowa for the weekend to baby sit for families there as their church had a big feast...hard to explain, but my kids came home with all their babysitting stories, and were blessed so much.

Anyway...time to get moving...

Friday, April 17, 2015

spring is in the air!!!!

Baseball! I don't love the game, shh, that doesn't mean I am not a good American...I don't hate it though. If I lived the rest of my life without ever seeing a game, I wouldn't even notice. But if I sit there and watch, I can get into it. But working at the stadium today was an adventure. The warm weather and one dollar sodas and hot dogs, and two dollar beer...brought the crowds.

The crowds are nice people. Most of them are happy about spring time. Happy about being at the ball park. Happy to get a hot dog for a buck. But SOME people are just miserable. Today, in fact, I had Mr. Miserable himself in my line to get beer. (The beer taps are right on the counters next to the cash registers, so we have to pour beer for customers ourselves.) Mr. M was a big-ish guy with a big-ish mouth. He was loudly accusing a small-ish timid looking guy of cutting in line. Now, this line cutter didn't look like he had a clue. I think he just ordered out of turn accidentally because he was a stuttering sort of kid, a little hunched over, glasses...not to judge or anything, but he didn't get the Most Outgoing Award in high school. Anyway. Mr M. was really going after this guy about budging, getting loud about it, too. I did not like it, not one little bit. So I told Mr. M to cool it, that it wasn't a big deal, that the other guy didn't mean to do it. He wasn't calming down, and the alleged line cutter looked miserable, like he was fighting tears...his eyes were opened wide, like he was scared, and it looked like tears were going to start rolling down his cheeks. It made me seriously mad at Mr. M. So I blurted out, "I am his Mom, leave him alone!"

I can't stop marveling at myself. What in the capital H possessed me to claim to be this guy's mother? Let's analyze....

1. I have strong maternal instincts, and when I saw this bullying, I pictured it happening to one of my sons.

2. Bullying is despicable, and cannot be tolerated.

3. I tried reasoning, but it didn't work.

4. Perhaps I made it a teeny bit more awkward for the shy guy, he took his change and thanked me, but seemed really embarrassed.

5. Seriously though? The other people in line were just going to stand there and let that big Mr. Miserable be pushy and mean?

6. I still can't believe I said I was his mom.

7. My hands were shaking so badly, I do not like confrontations. Not at all.

8. Even thinking about it now upsets me.

Anyway. It was busy and crowded...we worked for almost seven hours without a break. Then the game was over and we had to clean up and...ugh, the bathrooms were locked. eeks. Anyway, we survived, and it was rather fun. I like people, mostly, and life is stranger than fiction. I saw an extremely patient lady with four special needs adults, she was so good to them it just made me smile. I saw daddies buying hot dogs for kids, and ladies who were so thankful and happy. I saw a middle aged man jump right out of line to come pay the bill for three young soldiers. The two dollar beer is a pain in the rear, because sometimes the taps get foamy, and it takes forever to get a good cup of beer...and some of the jokes and comments from the beer customers just aren't that funny, but most of them are decent...just happy to be there. One guy was getting two beers at a time, the limit, getting back in line and drinking the beers in line, then getting two more. I was teasing him about it, and he said, "I'm an alcoholic, what can I say?! Funny not funny.

All in a day's work, I guess.

Kim came for a visit with her two youngest kids this evening, we were both tired out from our stadium work. I made popcorn, and we crashed with our feet up...I felt bad when she had to get up and drive home...and another baseball game...and Kim and I are both working, again....I hope my feet stop hurting by then:)

Thursday, April 16, 2015

don't throw stones if you live in a glass house...

Most of us just don't realize what our own houses are made of. Remember the saying, "There, for the grace of God, go I"? Or something like that. I read news stories, and sometimes the accompanying comments. No mercy. For example, a local doctor has been arrested for writing hundreds of prescriptions for himself. He is addicted to pain medicine. Those leaving comments are ready to stone him as a criminal. What he did was wrong, but does anyone think for one minute that he worked so hard to get his medical degree...and at 36 years old, WANTED to find himself in ruins? Addiction is tricky, because it sneaks up on people. Never do it in the first place, they say. But painkillers are different. People are exposed to them for legitimate reasons, and find that they take the edge off of life. My children who aren't children any more and are nurses see so many "nice" people who are there for the meds. I just don't think prison time is the answer.

Anyway. I don't have much time for speculation this morning, can't solve the world's problems. I have to get ready, I'm leaving in just a few hours to go to the opening game for the minor league baseball team. New food this year, blah. We actually have for sale a deep fried hot dog. Today, opening day, is also Dollar Thursday...which means hot dogs and sodas are a buck, one dollar...and beer is two dollars. wow, right? It means we will be BUSY, especially because it is a beautiful sunny warm spring day. I don't mind being at the stadium's outside, and the happiness of being there after a long winter is contagious.

Thankfulness is contagious, too.

Today, my little friend is coming over again! He is my sister's grandson, and he is a doll. We absolutely love him. He's only three years old, and can ready ANYTHING. We have a map of the United States on the kitchen wall, going for that classy look, and he can find the state capitols. If you could just hear the way he says, "Honolulu". Then, he sat next to me on the couch, looked at me, and said, "Delaware." Ha, I said, "What did Delaware?" He answered with a smirk, "A brand New Jersey." This child just turned three in January. He is so funny, yet so smart...and he just loves to come over and play. I love how my little girls are so nurturing of him. They love having someone smaller to fuss about.

Anyway, there will be fun everywhere today.

And with that, I have to get moving...

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

oh it's way too early in the morning....

It's nice out here, finally! The sunshine, the warmth, the green everywhere!

Yesterday...I had to drive Margaret to her job, because of complications from that fun car crash last November, she can't drive for a while, which is pretty devastating for an 18 year old girl with independence. Then it was time to go work at the college lacrosse game, which turned out to be too much fun. I had to "do cash", which involves walking halfway around the huge-o Dome, way faster than my little legs can carry me, to keep up with the Manager, who doesn't notice that I am almost jogging to keep up. When I mentioned that I don't know how to "do cash", he promised to help me. I then told him that I do know how to count. He didn't laugh. ugh. Anyway, it was easy because the game was very slow, not many in the stadium. So we got to chat quite a bit while we worked. Mirielle, Joseph, Kathryn worked...along with my sister-in-law Kim and her daughter Eileen, and lots of other friends.

We stopped for an ice cream on the way home, a soft serve chocolate and vanilla can one resist such a thing after being on one's feet for hours (and I won't even get into how it felt to put my sneakers on with those blisters from walking like ten miles Saturday during that Cherry Blossom Festival). was late, after 10:30...and my little ones were just heading to bed. They were happy, and I was thankful for Margaret. She had made them homemade broccoli cheddar soup for dinner (Camille took one taste and had a sandwich:)). She is so good to them, Miss Marge. I had brought them home giant soft pretzels and cheese cups to dip...they had never had the cheese, and wanted to try it, and it was still I let them. They took a few bites and we wrapped it all up for today...

Since Paul is in France, the two princesses sleep with me in the big comfy bed. Cam said, "Mama, I like you because you are squishy, and your bed because it's squishy."

I got in bed at the same time as they did, but I finished my library book...ugh. I think it was three o'clock when I turned out my reading lamp. Then at 6:30, I woke and remembered that I wanted to get up with the school girls, Evelyn and Sonja. I didn't want to, obviously, but I did. I didn't even see them yesterday because I was gone to work at the Dome before they got home from school. I hate that part.

And I want to go back to bed, tired as I am, but my niece's little boy is coming over for the day, and I have things to do.

Life is interesting. Parenting teenagers is challenging. It takes more patience than I'll ever have. I am on your side. When they go through that phase where Mom is just ancient, and doesn't understand. When it's almost impossible to be on the same wavelength. I want my kids to make good choices, and I'll do anything I can to help them. In the end, they can choose whether or not they want to "stay on the straight and narrow", or make other lifestyle choices. I can only pray, and be patient, and be good, and encourage...and say "no" to things I don't think are healthy for them, which always makes me popular, ha. Times of trial aren't just torture though, there is a purpose for it all. It is a testing of faith, and it is also a lesson in humility...I simply don't have all the answers. I also find so much anxiety, when we all know: today. Today has enough cares of it's own. And I can't help feeling a sort of fellowship with God during times when I am upset and worried about the path one of my children is on...He certainly can understand.

I also can't help but feel overwhelmed sometimes with the weight of responsibility I have with these kids of mine. It isn't just feeding them and making sure they have shorts for summer. But I trusted God when I had them all, so I need to trust Him now - He will give me the strength and endurance and wisdom I need to deal with situations.

Paul is still in France, and I miss him. It's not easy to do all of the parenting by myself. I have talked to him on the phone, it's nice these days that it's not expensive anymore to talk "long distance". He'll be home on Saturday night.

Tomorrow I work at the baseball stadium for opening day. It should be fairly busy. Then on Friday...almost all of my kids are heading up to Ottowa to babysit for families there in our church who are preparing for a big church feast. Abigail, Margaret, Kathryn, Evelyn, Suzanne, Sonja, and even Jonathan, who is only ten, but is excellent with small children. So when I work at the second baseball game on Friday, my sister will watch Char and Cam, as Joe is working the game too. It will be quiet here for a few days with them all gone...but ha, I'm not too sad about it. The princesses will love having tons of attention.

So today or tomorrow I need to write permission notes for the kids to travel across the border (I had Paul sign several blank sheets of paper before he left for France), locate birth certificates and I.D. cards, pack snacks, and help Jon pack a bag.

Life is interesting. There are so many details, so many things to take care of....Kap's working papers, Margaret's travel/work Visa, Mali's baby shower, our trip next month, report cards to submit, appointments and auto maintenance, our pool needs love and attention, our yard...trim needs painting, and never mind all those nice little renovations I want to do. It's good to plan, but to let it all weigh me down...nah.

Ah well. I feel better now, writing is my happiness. It helps me sort my thoughts, it relaxes me...although if I get any more relaxed, I am going to be snoring. blah. Will I ever learn?

Monday, April 13, 2015

home again...and I miss him already...

Sam...he's back on his base doing soldier things, and I am back home, sitting in my comfy chair.

And I miss him. He is a very special kid. He has a huge heart, a whole litany of sarcastic remarks, and the ability to make even the smallest outing an adventure. He also has a very special bond with his siblings, particularly these two girls, Kathryn (Kap), and Suzanne (Karl).

Abigail and I had hours and hours to talk as we's only a seven hour trip, but I drove in my dreams. I had to use the bathroom in the night at the hotel, and in my half sleep, I imagined myself getting in the turning lane to walk there. Abigail and I didn't run out of things to talk about, btw.

Home. Ah, home. There's nothing like it. Of course being the mom and the chief cook and housecleaner, walking in the door is always a treat. I have to remember how thankful I am that I have older kids who can and will hold down the fort for me...they took such good care of the little ones! Mirielle brought them to the park to ride bikes, and for ice cream, and made them a special lunch at her house. She was here with them too, watched the first episode of Downton Abby with them, and tucked them in. Margaret and Evelyn and Sonja were also good to them, as I imagine Joseph was, although he probably let his sisters do most of it.

With all this in mind, I walked in the door last night...and tried really hard not to notice things...long story short: I just stayed up for an hour or so and cleaned up. I was wound up from driving, and from that large iced coffee from Starbucks, so I swept and mopped and shined things up, washed a load of towels, and thought about things. It wasn't too bad, and lest you think they were lazy when I was gone, not true. They just did things their own way for the weekend, and had lots of time outside with the kids.

Anyway, I climbed into my big comfy bed last night with two little bed hogs named Charlotte Claire and Camille. They promptly moved into my room as soon as Paul left for France on Saturday. We woke up this morning with too much to talk about. I showed them all my pictures on my phone, and they told me about their weekend. Then I gave them their presents. I usually bring them back the little shampoos and lotions and all the packets of tea and sugar from the hotel, but sometimes I get them little gifts too. We went to the toy store yesterday...Sam said it had been way too long since he had been to ToysR Us. We got Jonathan a really nice light saber, and a Nerf-style StarWars gun for Char, and a little dollhouse furniture set for Cam. (Shh, Sam bought two light sabers to bring back to barracks...they might be all grown up and in the Army, but those soldiers are still just big boys who like to play.)

Anyway. It is nice out today, so I have big plans. I have already slathered sunscreen on my sunburn. I can't believe I am 49 years old and haven't learned that being in the sun for several hours after a long winter...duh.

Oh happy, Aaron is here!!!! bye for now!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

adventures in washington d.c.....

Yeah, a hotel bathroom selfie...hafta show off my new sunburn....

The Cherry Blossom Parade! The Dunkin car!

It was a beautiful day! Sunny and warm-ish, nice breeze...Sam was in the parade in his handsome uniform.... This is the Honor Guard, Sam is one of those soldiers.

After the parade, Sam went back to base with the Army guys...then came back and met up with us.

In the mean time, we visited the Smithsonian Museum of American History. We had to use the bathroom. We waited in a long long line to get in, then in another long line to use the restroom. Then...we sat in the sunshine...we had stood for SO long at the parade. WE arrived early, having gotten up at 6:30 and drove to the metro station, after grabbing some breakfast from McDonald's, which we stuck in Kap's backpack for later. We parked, took the subway, and arrived at an excellent viewing spot for the parade with time to spare. There were hundreds and thousands of people there, and they all seemed to want to come stand in front of us.

Anyway...after we decided to head back to the hotel...we discovered that the Smithsonian stop on the metro was CLOSED. We had to walk to the Arlington station. It was far far far, after walking around all day, especially. We walked across that big bridge...
The Monument started looking small.

We finally got on the metro heading east...there were no seats, of course, so I held onto the pole with all my might. The girls thought I was exaggerating, but I am not a small lady, and I really had to hold on.

My feet are blistered from the walking, and I am tired. Abigail and I went in the hot tub when we got's good to be here in Virginia with Sam...and that's all I have to say about that.

Friday, April 10, 2015

roadtrip, cherry blossoms, national sibling!

Abigail and I...

ah the trees in Washington!

Oh Sam, so good to see you!

Sam and two of his the Marine memorial....

And that's all for now!