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, June 30, 2015

babies and kids and shopping...

Shopping at the big mall in the big city with this girl...Sonja K. She's a sunshine, always game for a selfie with Mom.

with Suzanne and the princesses, and Sonja K.

Cam and Char...

Sonja with Camille.

Char, Sonja K., and Kathryn at Mali's apartment.

Miss Mali...she's due in 8 weeks. I went with her to her sonogram today. I found myself holding my breath as the technician ran the wand over her belly. The volume was turned down, and when I didn't hear the heartbeat right away, I was...nervous. Then she turned it up, it thump-thumped, and I could see that baby girl moving around on the screen. She has chubby cheeks and lots of hair. I was pretty much almost crying with joy, it's quite a feeling to be in love with a grandchild who isn't even born yet.

And we went to the mall...oh, the dreaded mall. I was outvoted, I suggested we go to the "far away Target", but these daughters of mine are no longer little kids who think a far away Target is somehow more magical, they wanted to go to the mall. So, I took them. I suppose I must have let it show how much I wasn't loving it, one of the girls said we didn't have to do this if I didn't want I decided that I had better change my attitude. After all, we know that it isn't doing what one likes that makes one happy, it's liking what one does. Life is short and all that, so I decided to enjoy my girls and just be happy.

I let the little girls get new bathing suits for $8 in Old Navy. I couldn't have made them happier. The other girls got a few nice things, then we headed to the food court, because of course, they were STARVING. I didn't remind them that they don't know what starving actually is.

I abstained from foodcourt food except for three pieces of sesame chicken, taken from three different children's plates. I opted for a blonde roast coffee from Starbucks instead, remembering that I had had a good breakfast, and then a few cashews. (I ate some sweet sausage and a nice big salad when we got home)

The little girls are being silly, and need attention...

Monday, June 29, 2015

happy monday, better family picture...and our summer bucket list

So here we are, all home from vacation...reality is hitting me. Responsibilities...blah. I have end-of-the-year reports and testing grades due, and in just a few short weeks, my intent-to-homeschool notices will be due for next year. Duke's ear isn't looking good, and we just aren't comfy with having his ear removed...he's ten years old. He's limpy and lumpy and it breaks my heart, but having such a surgery on an old dog just doesn't make sense. But trying saying that out loud at the vet's office without feeling like a total cheapskate dog hater. I told Paul I want him to come with me to Duke's next appointment, so we can make a decision together. I mean, I don't want to make a decision based on what the vet thinks of me...or what I perceive the vet thinks.

Then there are the cupcakes. Always the cupcakes. My daughter Emily bought a catering company, to do fundraising for our church. It has always been one of her dreams, but she is a full-time registered nurse on a busy floor in a hospital in the city, plus she is a college student, taking classes on her way to be a nurse practitioner, and has also been teaching a class of nursing This new business is taking off at the same time, and wow.

Anyhoo. This weekend, on July 4th, we are catering a family barbecue. I am making the cupcakes and chocolate chip cookies. Sounds easy. Well. The lemon ones alone take hours. I am sort of excited about it, but there is always the worry that they will flop or tip over in the car or burn or or or. Wake me up when it's over.

Paul is leaving for a work trip to I think Massachusetts on Sunday.

So...we do sort of have a bucket list for the summer....

1. Get the pool clear again. We came home from vacation to a green pool. wah.

2. Beach! Lots of times!

3. Go to the amusement park in the Adirondacks! I have five free tickets for homeschooling, and do not want them to go to waste. I just have to figure out who is going, and if we'll camp up there, or get a hotel room for the night, if Paul can go (I want to go during the week when the lines are shorter).

4. Take the kids to the park to ride bikes and scooters.

5. Sell stuff on ebay and make extra money for...
a. Evelyn and Kathryn's trip to Norway with Mirielle in August.
b. Jon, Char, Cam, and my trip to Washington state in September.
c. Our trip to the amusement park.

6. Make lesson plans for next school year.

7. Take walks!

8. Pick blueberries, freeze some.

9. Library. Library. Library.

And that's all I can think of right now...we are going to the library this fine rainy Monday morning...there are stacks of books to return. And, we are almost out of dogfood and coconut oil, so a stop at BJ's is in the picture.

I have a mammogram next week, blah, but family history and all that...I am also bummed about my lack of weight loss during isn't fair. I did not have a single piece of candy, nor a chip, nor a can of beer. No marshmallows...have you ever sat around a fire and not had a roasted marshmallow? I did. No marshmallows. All toasted and ooohy-gooy...not a taste. I behaved myself, but I guess I had a few too many nuts, or cherries, or maybe just didn't exercise as much as I thought I did. I gained four pounds, while Joseph, who had everything he wanted, lost four pounds. I seriously thought I would come home, step on the scale, and voila! Pay off for all the denying myself! But no! Oh well. I think I'm broken.

Ah well, off to the library.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

and, we're home...!

All sixteen kids, and Ben's wife Ashley with our little granddaughter Anya. When the kids were little and I set the table night after night for SO didn't seem possible that some day it would be so absolutely glorious to just have everyone all together for a few days. We celebrated my 50th birthday, even though I am still 49 for a few weeks. Mali made me a watermelon cake...huge round slices of watermelon with whipped cream, berries, and topped with chopped walnuts. Marge bought me a coffee mug, Abigail got me a scrub brush that holds dish detergent in the handle, AND lots of new forks! And the best thing...they promised to get the hot tub fixed for me.

The very best thing was having them all there though.

No one leaving in the evenings for meetings, and long leisurely days spent tanning on the dock, and jumping in the clear cold water to cool off. They canoed and kayaked and row-boated. We went on a hike through the woods to find a waterfalls. We had coffee on the screen porch in the mornings...I slept like a log, and woke up early...brewed the coffee, and visited with whoever else was up, usually Mirielle. Mirielle made some fabulous breakfasts, since she was up so early the days she was there...

Miss Emily...all relaxed.

The birthday cake...there were two of them. yum.

Evelyn Joy in the kitchen at the cabin...

Suzanne caught a fish!

Lucky Cam lost a tooth, and it turns out there are lots of tooth fairies in the Adirondacks, aka older siblings.

One of my favorite things about this vacation was seeing Paul relax and enjoy himself so much!

Sweet little Anya, our granddaughter.

Abigail, Jon, and Miss Char...she had a huge ball of mud from our hike..she called it elephant poop.

Sam and Suze...relaxing.


Happy me!

Only a few more weeks 'til 50! I used to think fifty was OLD. Now I know different.

Kap and Ev and Sonja K. and Char and Suze and Cam and Ab...

And with me...the last night at the camp...only seven daughters left with Paul and me.

We had too much fun. Then the boys had to go back to their Washingtons...Ben flew out west yesterday morning...when I said goodbye to him from the cabin the other night, my eyes filled with tears that wouldn't stop overflowing...Sam was sitting next to me on the couch...he put his arm around me and patted my arm. Because he was feeling it too. He hadn't been with Benjamin in two years. And the days flew by too quickly...goodbyes aren't fun.

Then this fine morning while it was dark and rainy, at four o'clock, I left with Samuel to go to his Washington....D.C. wah.

All in vacation ever.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

my happy place....

Grilling burgers on the deck...I realized last evening that I absolutely love our deck. It's old and splintery, and our patio furniture consists of those plastic chairs, one glass topped table, and a nice lounge chair from the second hand store, which we play musical chairs with. But we have a grill that works, and we get the sunshine out there all day...shade in the afternoon and evening. We have a fire pit out there too. Summertime is just plain sweet...

My very own granddaughter in my very own minivan! She was exhausted from her overnight travels from Washington state, although her mama and daddy said she was a good little traveler. She was headed to her other grandparents' house to catch up on some sleep. We won't see them until Monday...

And:!! Samuel James is home, on leave from the Army! Bad mom award, I fell asleep before he got home, fully intending on coming out to say hello..oops. So I took this nice pic of his backpack..

He's up and the day is starting...bye for now.

Friday, June 19, 2015

never a dull moment...ever...

Yesterday was a whirlwind of...well, I'll just make a scattered list.

1. I spend a good part of Wednesday cleaning and packing, so Thursday was shop-for-the-camp-trip day. Kathryn accompanied me, because she wanted to stop at the thrift store to find a certain type of baseball cap. So. Dollar store, BigLots (shampoo, insect repellent, pumpkin seeds, undies...)BJ's, where Kathryn talked me into buying a huge bag of Nerds and Laffy Taffy. She said, "Just imagine going out in the kayak, and sitting on the lake, and eating candy."

2. We then went to Aldi for cashews (the salt and pepper cashews are so good!), raspberries, eggs, avocados, an air mattress because the cabin sleeps 12!, ha. We already have a few here, too.

3. While in Aldi, the vet called my house, so Margaret called me, and gave me the message. Apparently it's not conclusive that Duke's ear is cancerous, but it can't be ruled out. Vet wants to keep him on the antibiotic, keep fleas under control, and see what happens...if ear continues to bother, perhaps remove it. I have to call her back, she didn't pick up when I called when I got home...

4. But my head wasn't totally in the Duke Game, because...when I got home laden with all sorts of things to be frozen, refrigerated, packed...Evelyn mentioned how much her foot hurt. She had stepped on a tack the day before...and uh-oh, there was a red line leading from the now swollen spot on the bottom of her foot, across the foot, and up to the ankle. I am no doctor, but I know that red lines going up limbs are dangerous, so a call to the pediatrician...and yeah, bring her right in.

5. So...she has a nice infection going on, Dr. cultured it to make sure the meds he prescribed would cover whatever germ she picked up.

6. While paying for the antibiotic in Walmart, Mali called me, all upset...she had been having cramps and was sent to the hospital to be checked out...oh dear. She still has like nine weeks left...

7. Home...again. I was SO stressed out, trying to take things right, but just frazzled to the bone. Mali texted finally and said she was okay, just infection. Wow...Duke, Evelyn, Mali.

8. After making dinner of hot sausage on the grill and steamed broccoli, I went out to the pool...all by myself. It was just what the dr. ordered. I swam and floated and sorted my thoughts. Oh, it was nice.

9. My lab results came in, and they're not too shabby! My fasting glucose was 90, A1C: 5.5 , triglycerides 53, "good" cholesterol 82, total cholesterol 191, and normal readings for thyroid. And, I lost another pound, for a grand total of ten pounds now since starting this new thing back at the end of April.

10. I woke up at five this morning, bright eyed and bushy tailed...but that didn't last long. I tossed and turned and thought about things...every time I got even close to falling back to sleep, I would think...hmm, I need to pack "D" batteries for the air mattress pump. Or, is four pounds of butter enough for a whole week? Do we have enough dog food? Garbage bags, we need to pack some of those. I need to renew my library books.

11. So here I am. I swept the floors and made a pot of coffee...I know I should do more cleaning, one would never believe how clean it was in here the day before yesterday.

12. We have to leave in just an hour to pick Benjamin and Ashley and little Anya up from the airport!!! Yeah, I should be doing more work. I really should. I mean, I opened the microwave, and if I was at someone else's house and their microwave was that dirty, yuck. I try to keep it clean, needs to be done. Yet here I sit. I know I have some kids who would LOVE to help instead of sleeping in on this cloudy morning.

And...there is bedding to wash...

Thursday, June 18, 2015

just another day...not!!!

I will not take one single day of my life for granted. No sir. Today, I am going to the grocery store...well, like three different ones. We need supplies for our week at the camp. Now, what mother wouldn't be jumping up and down with happiness about the prospect of having ALL SIXTEEN KIDS together at the SAME TIME. Well, I can't actually jump anymore, but I hope to some day...between the arthritis in the knees and well, the little tummy I sport...okay, big tummy...I can't get airborne anymore.

But my SPIRIT is jumping up and down.

Tomorrow, I am picking Benjamin and Ashley and granddaughter Anya up from the airport, from Washington state. The plan was to also pick up Samuel (from Washington D.C.), and hour later, but his flight is at 11:00 PM, not AM. oops. But Paul has taken tomorrow off from work, and is going to the airport with me:)

I have packed my clothes, Jonathan's clothes, and the princesses things for the camp. There are boxes filled with essentials like olive oil and rice and cans of soup for a rainy day, marshmallows and graham crackers and chocolate bars, shampoo and insect repellent and microwave popcorn, dishwashing liquid and towels and washcloths and sheets. I feel like Mrs. Potato head in the Toy Story movie, when she kept shoving more stuff into Mr. Potato head.

Towels...I keep washing them to pack for the trip, and they keep using them for going in the pool. Is there ever ever going to be enough towels here?

I am also happy today because the scale was kind to me. I have now lost 8 pounds in seven weeks. That's not the speed I was hoping for, but at least it's moving downward, and for someone my this stage of life, I'll take it.

Here's the thing about this diet I'm on:

I am rarely hungry. I drink my coffee in the morning with coconut oil and MCT oil...then don't breakfast until around noon...then I usually have a few eggs, some veggies...or perhaps just nuts and berries.

I eat meat with lots of veggies for dinner every night, and get unbelievably full...I used to NEVER get full.

After dinner, I just don't eat...if I want something, I'll have Chai tea.

I no longer eat sugar. At all. Not even when Jonathan made chocolate chip cookies yesterday, all by himself. (he bagged some up for Ben and Ashley and for Sam:))

Being free from sugar is amazing. I am no longer it's slave. I still am attracted to baked goods and ice cream, but it doesn't have that pull anymore. I tell myself that I have lived for a few months without it, I don't need to have any now.

Popcorn was the hardest thing to give up. I now have it purposely once a week or so, to "carb up", and honestly, although it's bothers my stomach now.

I have had dark chocolate five times in these last few months, only one bite, five times. It was enough, when previously, I had to eat square after square, as if reassuring myself that yes, it was good. Now I find it overly sweet, and a little bite is enough.

Sometimes I put unsweetened cocoa in my coffee or tea, put it in the blender with heavy cream or half and half, and a little bit of coconut oil....yum!

My hot flashes have not returned.

My clothes fit better, I have lost a little of that annoying muffin top, not nearly enough of it yet, but some of it.

Overall, I am happy with my progress. I have to remember to take my vitamins and minerals, and to drink lots of water, and to eat enough veggies. But I am satisfied with this way of eating, because my blood sugar no longer dips and I feel more steady...using fat for fuel.

Macadamia nuts are SO GOOD! They are also so expensive. I bought a big bag of them at BJ's, and tried to keep them a little hidden...that's hard for me, I want to give my kids all good things, but...I reason that I don't eat the ice cream or the popsicles or the chips, so I can have a little treat. And don't blame me if I presented them as "something for Mommy that you guys probably wouldn't like."

Pistachio nuts are also wonderful.

Cherries are in stores now, from Washington state....oh heavenly yum. I could eat the whole bag because they taste so good, but I don't. So I still need self-control, and I still need to deny myself. Life will always be like that for someone like me.

The day is starting, kids are waking up. Sonja left on the bus for her very last day of school this morning. Evelyn finished up yesterday. No more pencils, no more more teachers' dirty looks.

And, I have places to go and things to do....

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

happiness, sadness, all mixed up....

Is it possible to be exuberantly happy in the midst of feeling sad about something? I feel disloyal to Duke to be so excited, but: we bought plane tickets! Jonathan and I have been saving up to go out to Washington state to visit Ben and Ashley and little Anya...and since Paul has frequent flier miles, we were able to get tickets for Char and Cam too!!!! They don't even know yet, they are still sleeping. Jon made me promise that he could be the one to tell them. None of these younger ones has flown before, so it will be quite an adventure...I went from flying out there alone last December, to flying with three kids this September!

Paul isn't sure of his exact schedule for September yet, other than he will be in Norway for part of it. Hopefully he'll figure things out and get a ticket and join us.

Ben and Ashley: we are invading! But only for six days. It will seem like a whirlwind for a few days, then we'll be gone, and Anya will be looking for the kids. It's nice that they will get to play together, my little ones love the littler ones. And I maintain that if my grandchild is going to live on the other side of the country, I am still going to see her! hmph.

So you see, happy here, but bummed about Duke. What if his biopsy comes back that it's not cancer at all? The vet wants to remove his ear if that's the case, doing chest x-rays first to make sure his lungs are clear, ect. Um...I don't really think this is going to happen. Duke is such an old man dog. He won't like to have all this done, he's old and wah. It's mean not to do it, but it's kind of mean to do it, too. And of course cha-ching.

I need to clear my head. So much swirling's one of those weeks when I wish I wasn't the mom, just one of the kids, responsible only for packing a backpack for myself...but alas, I am the one who has to bring the coffee filters and matches and aluminum foil, the extra sheets and barbecue sauce and the can opener.

We have things starting to stack up on the kitchen table...

Then this morning, I realized that Ben and Ashley and Anya and Samuel are going to be here this Friday! That means I have to clean the house, too! dang it.

Packing and cleaning...and Evelyn has New York state regents tests today, which she needs rides to and from...tomorrow, too. I have to do some grocery shopping for the camping trip...

I have to pack clothes for myself, Jon, Char, and Camille.

But first I have to wash clothes. The hampers are rather full.

I have to wash towels first. Where do they all go?

Sometimes I wish I was one of those each-kid-has-a-towel-and-a-hook kind of moms, with the color coded drinking cups and individual storage cubbies....

All those ideas to make a mom's life easier, I can't seem to manage, partly because I am vehemently opposed to raising my huge flock of kids as if we live in an institution instead of a home. And what if they don't LIKE using a green cup every stinkin' day of their childhood? I know I like a variety when choosing what to drink out of. I like my Corelle coffee mugs, but not the same one every day!

Some moms deal with the Shoe Problem by restricting the number of pairs each kid can have. My little girls are shoe-aholics. You can get them all ready to go someplace in a jiffy, but you had better plan some shoe choosing time. Flip flops, sandals, sneakers, or dressy shoes? Rainboots or leather boots or warm boots or maybe the loafers?

Anyway. I have a busy week, but the fact is, I am going to see all of my kids together in a few days!!!!!

And the fact is, I can't wait. Ben, for instance, has turned out to be the most amazing guy! He is funny and charming and quick-witted and humble and responsible and respectful and thankful...and this is a boy who gave us the biggest headaches for a few years there! Oh, he was a handful. I worried more about him! And I mean serious worry. The wrong friends, the wrong attitude, always a day late and and a dollar short. Crashed cars and mysterious transactions...someone really just GAVE you a car stereo? I do credit both God and Ashley for turning my boy around. When he met Ashley, he wanted to be a better man, he had something to straighten himself out for. As for God, He never left Ben alone. He seemed to know Ben needed trials, and He also did miracles in his life...the boat accident and the four-wheel accident (Ben almost died. He had an infection in his leg from the tree branch that stuck in his leg, and it moved up so fast, the surgeon said they were afraid they were going to lose him. 15 years old.) He ran a red light one time while delivering pizzas...totaled the car. So to say I am thankful for the way Ben has turned out is like the biggest understatement ever.

Anyway, the busier I am, the more likely I am to go off on tangents because I think it is a welcome distraction from the stuff I have to take care of. When I get really overwhelmed with the little details of life, I think longingly of sitting here in my comfy chair and writing, because it's what relaxes me.

Oh, btw, taking Duke to the vet was humiliating. He had fleas, which I knew. We have flea treatment drops, but always try to wait to apply in the evening so no one pets them and gets it on their hands, but kept forgetting. Duke has a bare patch on his hind quarters which has greatly improved since I started giving him a teaspoon of coconut oil every day. His nails are too long, and with the huge lump on his paw...the vet was kind, but you know when you are really aware that someone think's you're stupid? The way she explained the biopsy was like she was talking to a kindergartner. I did get some expensive flea treatment from the vet, and put on both dogs....'s another tangent. I was at the grocery store the other day all by myself. While chatting with the cashier, she was visited by her baby brother, who was all grown up and taller than she. It led to talking about her brothers and how much they eat, and I told her I know a little about that, which led to me telling her how many kids I have at home to feed....which led to a conversation about cost and volume of food...and I said, "I like to feed them healthy food, too, which is expensive. We don't just eat big pots of pasta." As I said the word "pasta", I happened to glance at the pile of food belonging to the lady behind me...a stack of boxes of pasta. I looked at her, she looked at me, and looked away. I seriously was not insulting her, I had no idea she was behind me buying pasta. And it was just an example I used, because some people assume we just eat huge casseroles and pasta. oops.

I don't like to hurt people's feelings or step on their toes, I go out of my way to be nice, and oops.

All right, enough nonsense for now. The girls are awake now, and Jonathan has told them about the trip. They are pretty excited. Davian is here, and wants to go too.:)

Monday, June 15, 2015

mind if I cry a little?

Things aren't looking so grand for Duke...and I need to cry about it. His ear...I thought it was just irritated...the vet thinks it's cancer. Duke has a few other lumps, which he had when we got him. Benign fatty tumors are common in labs, and he has an ugly one on his paw. The vet is pretty sure Duke has a cancerous tumor on his ear. His lymph nodes are swollen. The ear is also infected, so Duke is on antibiotics. He is too smart, it took several pieces of bologna with the pill hidden in it, I finally had to tip his stubborn beak into the air to get him not to spit out that pill.

The vet took a tissue sample to send in to the lab....she said that if it isn't cancer, the ear will have to come off. Most of the ear. Now, I don't know about you, but we don't have tons of money floating around to spend on dog surgery. It if IS cancer, we obviously wouldn't do the procedure...I mean, Duke is almost ten. He has lost weight, and has been hobbling around since we got him, but worse now.

The whole thing is just heartbreaking. I need to go cry.

lots of kids, cloudy monday....

Margaret, Sonja K., Aaron, Joseph, Suzanne, and Evelyn...from yesterday.

Suzanne, Mali, and Kathryn.

Suzanne, Aaron, Evelyn...

So this fine happy morning, I am thankful for Kathryn Grace. She let the princesses sleep in her room because Camille just couldn't sleep last night. Lo and behold, Miss Char ended up throwing up three times...she made it to the bathroom, but Kap took care of her and didn't even wake me up. Kathryn deserves a prize.

Char feels much better, but it is a subdued day here...Margaret took Jonathan to his dentist appointment, because I have to leave in a few hours to take Duke to the vet.

Why did I gain a pound over the weekend? I didn't so much as taste those cupcakes...well, a minute crumb, but not even a whiff of the frosting. Seriously. No bread, no hot dog buns, no diet soda even. Water and more water, veggies, nuts, meat.

Oh well. There are worse things. It is warm and muggy today, and the pool is almost clear. Intermittent rain showers don't help, although it helps keep it full.

This will be a week of packing and gathering. Sometimes I hate being the mom, there is too much to remember. The kids are blissfully excited while I am trying to brainstorm everything we will possibly need. Blender? Floaties? Life vests for kayaks. Kayaks. There is a six vehicle limit, which in itself requires strategic planning, as six of the kids have cars, and we have three. And some have to drive back to the city to work, Emily has a class to teach...and Ben has to leave early to go back to Washington state.

I think we might go with the bring your own place setting policy, instead of using massive amounts of disposable plates and cups. There will be enough older ones to do dishes:)

The extended weather forecast predicts rain, but we will have fun all being together no matter if it rains or not, although I would rather sit on that dock in the sunshine. I am looking forward to seeing my kids interact with each other, there is nothing like it, as a mom. They are all growing up, and the stories they tell about being little, as if it was so long ago, when in fact we just blinked and here we are. Sometimes they tell of things I didn't know can they have done these things without my knowing? They dug toilets in the side woods? ugh. And I do know the boys tried to cook a frozen pizza in their room on the heat duct. I'm sure they will reflect on when Joe and Aaron were The Bombies. They made up a world where they could throw towels on the floors instead of hanging them up, and no mom would get after them! They could crash things and be silly with no consequences. They told of these things around the fire when they were just little boys, and although it was funny, I didn't see much difference in their stories and how things really were.

Ah well. The inside jokes and the teasing and the collective making Mom the villain....I am looking forward to it all...

Sunday, June 14, 2015

baby shower, 11 daughters, cuppycakes, pictures

Mali...and Zac...their baby is due at the end of August...we had a baby shower today.

All eleven of my daughters were there!

Suzanne and Kathryn love each other.

I made SO many cupcakes! Lemon, with lemon buttercream frosting, chocolate with regular vanilla buttercream frosting, and vanilla with vanilla...the mixing and stirring and egg separating and lemon peel grating and alternating ingredients! I had a rough cupcake day on Friday...the small cake I was attempting to bake tipped over in the oven...I cleaned up the batter as best as I could, but not quick enough, it caught on fire. Calm cool and collected as always, I stood there yelling for Joseph, because Kathryn and Suzanne were out in the pool with the younger kids....Joe didn't hear me, and I didn't see the fire extinguisher, so I threw baking soda on it, and it went out. My adrenaline must really have been flowing, because afterwards I felt like jelly. And now I had no more baking soda to bake the lemon ones...but I didn't care...I was DONE.

Saturday morning Mirielle and I shopped for sausages and hot dogs and coneys (spicy white hot dogs), and chicken...she marinated it and cut it in cubes, put it on skewers, and grilled it....mmm. We bought watermelon and grapes and strawberries, and stuff for pasta salads, and tossed salad, and baked beans and salt potatoes...we bought candy and drinks for the kids, and lemons for iced water with lemon. Zac's mom bought the rest of the drinks.

Then make the lemon cupcakes, and frost them all.

This morning, up bright and early to boil up the salt potatoes, and pack up everything and go to the was a beautiful day, and Mali was very blessed. She got so many nice baby things!

I am tired was busy and fun, but phew. Tomorrow I have to bring Jon to the dentist, and bring Duke to the vet...his ear is yucky. And, my boys are coming in on Friday morning! First Ben from Washington state, with Ashley and my grand daughter Anya, then Samuel from Washington D.C.! We are renting our camp next week! Yay for vacation! Abigail and Mirielle were here tonight helping me make menu plans and lists and appointing a few of the older ones to buy different!

Ah well...good night!

Friday, June 12, 2015

six weeks, seven and a half pounds...

It could be better...but hey, it could be worse. I'll take it. Although a person who hasn't had ice cream or a cookie or a piece of bread in that long should by all rights have lost at least 20 pounds.

Yesterday I was out shopping with Suzanne, I had to get the ingredients to make cupcakes for Mali's baby shower. I was a little hungry, and had some good coupons, so I bought a few jars of baby food. Pumpkin, apples, cinnamon, lemon juice were the only ingredients in this little jar I picked up...oh yum. Yeah, I ate a jar of baby food in the Aldi parking lot before we ran in there for lemons. I didn't have a spoon, but I DID have a straw. Suzanne just made faces. I also had some salt and pepper cashews, but not too many. Aldi has good prices on nuts.

Dinner: burgers on the grill with sliced dill pickles, steamed asparagus, and some mini peppers. mmmm.

This morning I have wasted an UnGodly amount of time looking/shopping online for a bathing suit. They are close to impossible to find in stores, those big suits. Online of course it's hard to tell because they are all modeled on these shapely small ladies who are no way a size 18. When I find one I like, I scrutinize it,mentally add in a few rolls of back fat, picture me leaning over in it to help the kids dig a hole...and skip on to the next one. I avoid the Old Lady Suits like the know, the ones with the huge flowers. And they're expensive! Lots are over a hundred, some close to two. For a bathing suit! My own trusty black suit which I love was one dollar at the dollar store, when they had those bins of suits from Target. Brand new, one dollar. It's getting stretched out and baggy, and isn't very flattering, so I am thinking it's time for a new one, but I don't know. I did bid on one on ebay, so I have to wait 'til that ends before I order one, or it would be just my luck that I would win and have two suits coming in the mail.

The kids are busy this morning painting at the kitchen table. I have cupcakes to bake, and laundry to do. School is almost over for my two girls who go to real school, and my homeschool kids are down to just reading books, and doing some multiplication every day. I want to keep them reading and learning all summer. We don't, as a rule, go on tablets and computers and watch things during the day unless we are looking something up, and by WE I don't mean ME, I get to blog and read the news.

The other night, Jonathan knocked the bottle of olive oil from the shattered all over the tile mixed with olive oil. His first reaction was, "Who's the idiot who left this near the edge of the counter?!" My first reaction was, "Jonathan!!!". He countered with, "Don't blame me, it's not my fault!" I told him I don't care who's fault it is (it was mine), it doesn't matter. phew. I just cared that I wanted to eat dinner, and there was a huge dangerous mess, not the kind you can leave for later. Paul and Evelyn both found pieces of glass I missed, the hard way, but thankfully not too badly. And I pride myself on Getting All The Broken Glass.

So my new steam mop came in handy, after the clean up, to get the remnants of oil off the floor.

My brother stopped over yesterday with some strawberries, grown right on the edge of town, and sold at a Mennonite stand. oh yum. They beat the ones shipped from Florida, hands down. We might just have to go strawberry picking.

We have tickets for a theme park in the Adirondacks!!! Free, from homeschooling! I signed up a few months ago, and I got a free ticket too! Not for the older kids, just 13 and under, but still. The older kids don't care anyway. Paul and I are going to take them, we'll only have to buy a ticket for him, and I have a ten dollar off coupon for that:)....we'll probably camp somewhere, and go from the campsite. We rarely did theme parks when the older kids were little, except for a few years when this one place in western New York had this deal at the end of the year...$30 per carload...our car was a fifteen passenger van, and yes, it was $2 each for admission:) They don't do that promotion any more.

Summer is upon us, and I want time to just sloooooow down. I am almost fifty, and life is speeding by....

This is me happy, grilling burgers last night...

Thursday, June 11, 2015

leisurely walk through life.....

Like Miley sang, it's the climb. The little things. Life is NOW.

Stop and smell the roses...

Cam...enjoying the no particular hurry...

I am still reveling in the beauty of June...that harsh cold winter hasn't been forgotten.

Camille, Jonathan, Charlotte Claire...

Oh, the joy of a walk after some rain! She splished and she splashed, Miss Camille.

And, some chicken on the grill...I do not miss winter.

The crazy mama with kitty kitten...for some reason, the school girls think it's funny when kitty waves goodbye to them when they leave for the bus.

Our pool is getting clean, slowly but surely. There is still gunk (leaves! we have cottonwood trees, so there is also white fluff...) in the middle on the bottom, and it's tedious to vacuum because the basket gets filled so quickly. Yesterday we got in and swam around, that helps because it then goes through the filter.

Okay, Paul stopped at the store on the way home from work yesterday and bought ingredients for two recipes he just had to try...egg salad with avocados, and soup...with avocado. First, he assembled the "new" food processor from the thrift store...and yeah, a piece was missing...and he found out the hard way it was broken...chicken broth and avocado all over the counter and he tried it in the tiny food processor, but first he had to find it, and of course only I know where exactly in the cupboard it is. He couldn't find the measuring spoons, either. Now all this time, I was sitting in my comfy chair, attempting to read a really good library book. I had made dinner (chicken on the grill, ect.), cleaned up, and the kids were all at activity club. And Paul is out in the kitchen cooking, and making messes, and asking me where things were. But. Here's the thing. Despite the irritation I felt, I was happy that he does things that make him happy. He loved how his new recipes came out, and had the girls taste stuff when they came in the door. Yes, he was pretty thrilled. And I am thankful that I don't have to give in to irritation.

He cleaned up after himself. But no offense to any guys reading this, but in my humble opinion, they don't clean up very well. So this fine morning, I found myself tempted to get a bit RRR, all over again.:)

Anyhow. It's his house too. And I love him. A lot.

Tomorrow, I have to make a boatload of cupcakes for Mali's baby shower. I have some good recipes for chocolate, vanilla, and lemon cupcakes. I need to go over them, and make a list, and get the stuff I need from the store, which I should do today so I can stay home tomorrow and bake. I plan to frost them on's easier to break it up, and not have to bake and frost on the same day.

Today, Davian is here, as well as Sebastian and Linnea, the twins...they are all three years old, and they are adorable. It's a riot to have little ones in the house, they are so funny. Davian is asking Sebastian how old he is....just too much cuteness...Linnea is playing in the girls' room with them...

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

a visit to the doctor, and haircuts....

Kathryn and I, twins:)...she had just had her long hair cut...I think it's adorable, it frames her face...

This is Suzanne before her haircut, and sorry, I don't have an "after" one. But she looks adorable too.

What a day. We went to BJ's to get a new steam mop...something I didn't know I needed until my sister-in-law explained how much she likes hers. I had rewards money, so decided that yes, I needed a steam mop. I haven't opened it yet...I swept the floor this morning before I left to get bloodwork done, and it needs to be swept again before I mop...those bad doggies and their flying fur.

Then we went for haircuts...then to Marshall's because it was a rainy day and it wasn't time for my dr. appt. yet. Then to the McDonald's drive through because Kap and Suze were hungry. I didn't get anything.

Then to the Dr. I hate going to the dr. My weight was down fifty-three pounds since the time 4 years ago I decided to change my lifestyle. It was down four pounds since I was there two years ago for a sore throat. Anyhow. My blood pressure was 138/88, which freaked me out. All this healthy eating, and what???!! The N.P. wasn't as alarmed as I was, she said it fell below the parameters for high blood pressure. Well, I said, it is too high for me. She took it again with a different cuff, and it was 122/80. The bottom number still seems high for me, but oh well. The visit went well, she ordered bloodwork, scheduled a mammogram, and recommended a trip to the gyn. for a pap smear, which yay, seriously? I know, preventative health, but blah. Anyway. She had never heard of the ketogenic diet, and seemed to share my affection for healthy fats.

I won't lie, (wait, I HATE that phrase. Of course I won't lie!), but I was a bit disappointed with my dr. visit. My weight loss has been so so slow, but I thought at least my blood pressure would be nice and low...I guess I put too much stock in numbers, but when you try and try and do all you can to be healthy, you want to be healthy, dang it! There's nothing to do but keep on, though. My goal is to avoid the onset of type-II diabetes...

After the doctor, we headed over to the county clerk to get a passport for Suzanne Eleanor! wow, 14 years old, and a passport, lucky girl! She is going to Israel in September with Emily and Abigail and Mirielle and Margaret and Kathryn, and lots of their friends from church. Do you believe they didn't need me to go to help chaperone?:)

Then, to the grocery store for veggies and milk and cheese and chicken...

Home..I grilled the chicken outside, and served it with rice and mixed veggies. Cherries and pistachios for dessert.

This morning, I got up bright and early and headed to the small city for my blood work. I do not appreciate fasting blood work. I brought my coffee with coconut oil to drink afterward, and felt fine. I wandered through the grocery store all alone, to buy bananas and eggs and strawberries and plums and cauliflower and popsicles and dog biscuits.

Home...and here I am. I have a multitude of things to do, but here I am. The marble game came in the mail, and it looks like fun. The sun is shining though, and we need to get outside, after these past few rainy days...

What kind of person gets all excited about a new mop? I can't wait to try it.

Monday, June 8, 2015

keeping busy...

Once upon a time there was a middle aged lady, who didn't know she was old until she looked into the mirror or had to walk up hills. She acted 12 when she was with her 12 year old, and 7 with her 7 year old. She giggled when it was inappropriate to do so, and whispered with her sister in church. She liked to go barefoot, and preferred to leave major housekeeping until company was coming over. Her idea of a perfect day involved a good book and some cookies..but alas, she stopped eating cookies.

This poor woman though..she had so many kids she didn't know what to do! She felt like she was drowning sometimes, paddling to keep her head above water, keeping track of who was where and who needed what when. She loved all those kids with all of her heart, and didn't want any of them to ever feel slighted. So she dropped whatever she was doing whenever any of them needed a ride or a hug or someone to listen to their really good dream.

Her own wants and needs seemed selfish sometimes, even a walk down the road was a challenge. She stayed up with teenagers who wanted to watch movies, last night it was, "American Sniper", which was way too sad, and reminded her of her own son's tour in Afghanistan, and she felt really really bad for those soldiers who were in firefights and battles and had to return to Real Life and be normal again.

This lady was a Stop And Smell The Roses type. She knew that life was NOW, and not some wonderful thing that was going to happen when all of her ducks were finally in a row. She knew how to browse and dawdle and never missed an opportunity to gaze up at the stars on the way in the door from somewhere.

This woman liked to bake. She loved to bake. She was excited because one of her daughters was having a baby, and the baby shower was in five days! And, of course, she was making cupcakes! Would they come out good? Would they get smashed and banged up during transport?

The baby shower itself was looking to be fun...whole families were invited instead of just girls. A cookout! She was planning the food with some other daughters, there were so many details to take care of! She already bought purple napkins and plastic cutlery and bottles of sparkling grape juice. She bought drawers to transport cupcakes, and so many little baby outfits it wasn't funny. Ha, after years and years of browsing baby sections of stores...then the babies stopped coming...she had to break the lovable habit of baby to have a good excuse to haunt those aisles of pink and blue cuteness again...!

Mothers eat the burned toast and drink the old coffee from the pot so the kids can make fresh stuff, wouldn't want to waste it! This morning, this particular mom poured coffee from a pitcher next to the pot, heated it in the microwave, then found out it was double strength decaf from yesterday, to make iced coffee. Oh well. She drank it.

This mom loved to read. She wished there was an eighth day in every week, set aside just to cuddle up and read books, without interruptions like, "Mom, can you drive me to soccer?...Mom what's for dinner? What time is it?" (seriously, you can't look yourself?) and of course the whole litany of Where Is...scissors, tape, can opener, the iron, phone charger, ipod charger, t.v. remote...go ahead, I wasn't trying to read.

Anyhoo. This lady was never ever bored. She appreciated car rides all alone, just to think about things. She was almost sad she fell asleep so quickly at night, because she missed out on thinking time.

She had big plans. She was going to write children's books someday, and sell lots of things on ebay someday, and maybe start a small business selling homemade insect repellent and lip balm. She was going to clean out closets someday too.

She also had home improvement plans, to work on when life wasn't so busy. Countertops and painting cabinets and walls.

She was losing weight, this mom. Slowly slowly slowly. It was hard work, but she had a vision of herself, in excellent shape, keeping up with life, and being able to wear anything she liked instead of trying on five outfits and always looking too fat. She could just picture herself not caring if the sleeves were long enough to cover her arms, and actually wearing tank tops in public! She had jeans in her drawers with the tags still on that she bought so hopefully in size 14..she couldn't get them buttoned yet, but soon!

This mom was taking charge of her health. She took her vitamins and didn't eat any sugar anymore...her only carbs were veggies, and a serving of fruit a day, usually berries. She ate almonds and macadamia nuts and cashews and pistachio nuts sparingly (okay, not always so sparingly.), and has had only four bites of chocolate in the past six weeks or so. She is on fire with determination to get this done. The sugar cravings are under control, and now she would just like the weight to fall off, please.

She is going to the doctor tomorrow for a check up. She absolutely hates doctors. Not personally, of course, but the personal scrutiny is uncomfortable. She can never remember the important questions, and sits there on that table, swinging her legs and saying she feels fine, and has no complaints. Even though she has episodes of dizziness sometimes, and of course once in a while in the night she wakes up and wonders if her heart is pounding so hard because This Is It, the big heart attack...

This lady has to be done blogging now because her darned minivan still sounds like an airplane when cruising down the highway, and that cranky noise it makes when it turns hasn't gone away, despite the $500 in repairs a few weeks ago. She hates making phone calls, but there it is, she has to call the repair shop, then bring it in and drop it off and live without it for a day or two.

She is happy the pool is on it's way to being swimable! (who knew? swimable is not a word!) She is also hopeful the hot tub will be revived instead of just being a receptacle for hatching tadpoles.

Her little friend Davian is here today, and kids are reading books and talking about how many days are in a year. Cam took a random guess and was right! They are too funny. Jonathan fixed his quadcopter, ordered a part, it finally came, and yay.

And...enough for now.

Friday, June 5, 2015

free donut day!!!!

Free donuts? Yes! Okay, I do not eat donuts anymore. But I will let my kids get one today. We are going on a field trip to the library, and will stop for free donuts.

I am feeling random today, so here no particular order:

1. I ordered a brand new Marble Race game from ebay this morning because Davian LOVES to put together the one we have, which is several years old and is missing lots of pieces.

2. Being able to have Davian here is something I don't take lightly, he is precious. He perched on the arm of my chair and read the descriptions of the marble games. To hear him pronounce, "That one is Marbleous!", is...adorable. Yes, he can read. Anything.

3. Jonathan and Davian are looking at Jon's tablet, looking up the capital of Bolivia.

4. The less structure I give my homeschoolers, the more curious they seem about the world. They spend time measuring things and looking things up and finding out if calico cats really are always female.

5. Google Earth is fun for kids. They are touring town right now, looking at Davian's house.

6. The baseball game last night was busy. The $2 beer kept us hopping. I gave all of my tips to the two guys who work in the kitchen. They get minimum wage, and it's hot back there.

7. The cotton candy boy came into our stand last night after the game and gave us the leftovers. We brought home like ten things of it:)

8. Sonja is going to Toronto for the weekend with Abigail.

9. We are taking the kids to a parade tonight, the Firemen's parade. Firetrucks...if you've seen one you've seen them all, but there are marching bands and some of the floats throw candy.

10. Ah, it's Friday. Paul is supposed to fix the rest of the pool filter tonight, the switch to the motor is burned out. Then, hopefully, the filter will work, and in a week or so, we'll be swimming!

11. Tomorrow Paul and I are working at the baseball stadium again.

12. Homeschooling=Paperwork. blah.

13. Next week is Mali's baby shower. I am making the cupcakes, and helping with the food. Last night I had a dream that the guests were arriving, and I had totally forgotten to make those cupcakes! Anxiety much?

14. I have a love/hate relationship with making cupcakes for events, as my dream illustrates. What if they come out terrible, or if I drop them on the way?

15. The princesses can take showers by themselves now, I am becoming obsolete.

16. I love my husband. Have I mentioned that lately?

17. In three weeks, Samuel will be coming home for the first time in a year. Benjamin and Ashley and Anya will be coming, and those brothers will see each other for the first time in two years. We will be going to the camp we rented in the Adirondacks, and I can't wait. New family pictures!

18. It's time to get ready and go out and about...

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

ketogenic diet for weight loss....

Me, at the mall yesterday...oh the dreaded mall...but that's another story.

This diet seems to be working, slowly but surely. It has it's quirks, like the side-effect of my electrolytes getting out of whack, but overall, it's amazing. I am rarely hungry, and my sugar cravings are at bay. I can't say I will never "fall" again, but I have been faithful 100% for over 5 weeks now. Okay, a few times, looking back, I realized that I ate too many nuts. But I have had only a bite of dark chocolate on three different occasions. No cookies, candy, sugar, ice cream, chips, bread, or even croutons. My daily fruit intake consists of mostly berries, and usually not too many.

To date, I have lost seven pounds. I can't complain. Before I started this, I went to bed every night promising myself I would do better tomorrow. I tried. I tried. I tried. But even with restriction, those pounds wouldn't budge. I felt broken.

So what do I eat? Well, I start the day with a cup of ice water with salt/potassiam chloride in it. I take magnesium/calcium supplements, and of course vitamin D. I blend my morning coffee with cream, coconut oil, and MCT oil. It keeps me from being hungry for hours. If I am going out and about, I make a few eggs, cooked in butter. I pack food with me always: cucumbers or spinach in a baggie, or raw broccoli, or all of the above. I bring maybe some nuts or pepperoni. And always my water, usually with a little bit of salt.

My afternoon snack was a few blueberries, a handful of pistachio nuts, and a cup of chai tea with a teaspoon of unsweetened cocoa powder, blended with...coconut oil and some cream. It was so good.

Dinner is always a serving of meat, with lots of veggies, and butter. Last night I had zucchini and sweet onions, tossed in olive oil with seasonings, cooked in the grill basket on the grill next to the marinated pork chops. I also had a huge salad (romaine with red peppers, tomatoes, and blueberries).

If I haven't had my fruit for the day, I will have some berries in the evening with cream, but if I had, I just don't eat anything.

My goal is to "carb up" at least one night a week. I have read a lot about it, and especially for women, who are stingy with their weight loss, oh our bodies like to store fat! , it seems essential to fool the metabolism. So the other night, I had four cups of popcorn...the next morning the scale was up two pounds, but the next day it was down 2 and a half pounds. So a few times a week, I will have a bowl of rice or some popcorn, or maybe some potatoes.

This is all new to me, and I am certain I will be tweaking things here and there.

I just know that I am glad to have found something that works for me. Essentially, I have ruined my body through years of putting myself last, and, through not really realizing the damage the carbs and sugar were actually doing. So here I am, trying my hardest to get back into shape so that my older years won't be so difficult. So that I can feel better, and keep up with the kids and the grandkids.

Later today, Jonathan and I are going to the pool store to get some sand for the filter, Paul got the parts in the mail and fixed it. Yay for getting the pool going this year! It is so dirty, it's going to be a lot of work to get it clean...but yay anyway.

Yesterday, we went to the dreaded mall...

This is Suzanne 14, Evelyn 15, cousin Olivia 15, Margaret 18, and Kathryn 17.

Evelyn Joy...she was smiling at a soldier who just walked by. Kathryn thanked him for his service and told him about Samuel. This soldier is stationed at Fort Drum, 10th Mountain Division, Infantry. He told Kathryn he joined so he could "shoot guns". What a baby faced young guy. I hope he never gets deployed.

Strong is the new skinny? My joy at the discovery that Forever 21 has a plus sized department quickly diminished when I pawed through the racks and the clothes were pretty ugly.

This would really irk some of my feminist daughters.

I bought this shirt for Joseph.

Who's the grown-up here anyway? Have you ever walked through the mall with a bunch of teenage girls who are begging fakily to go to Build-A-Bear? Please Mom Please?

And, here are the princesses with their cousin Dani in the their new Target dresses...$5.74 each.

Today the sun shines, and we will be outside for a bit. Summer is coming!

But for now, there is laundry to do...and kids to feed...and teach...