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, September 29, 2015

on the way home from seattle....with pictures

Paul and I with the three youngest...and Ben and Ashley and Anya, at Mt. Rainier.

Anya and me...

Anya and Char.

Anya with Paul...her grampa.

This is why it's nice to travel with small children. They know how to stop and smell the roses. Camille.

The princesses on the ferry from Bainbridge Island. It was a gorgeous day to be on the Puget Sound.

With Charlotte Claire...

With Paul...

Paul and Jon and Char and Cam as the ferry got back to Seattle...

At Mt. Rainier with Paul and the three kids.

Camille...a bird landed right in her hand!

We visited the coffee shop in town FOUR times. And not just for the coffee, they bake cookies and blueberry muffins every day...from scratch.

These two...Benjamin and dad...they haven't had enough time together through the seems like Ben straightened out from the difficult teenager he was, then left for the Army...four years flew by, he settled in Seattle...and now the two of them get along like peas and carrots.

Anya loves her Aunties...Cam and Char.

The tree roots! The trees! huge.

I had a goal at the cabin in the drink my morning coffee in the hot tub each day. I must say, I was successful.

The mountain takes my breath away, and no photos do it justice. We hiked up a path one day, and it REALLY took my breath away, I had to say "uncle" and suggest we turn around. Because yeah, all the way up I ooohed and ahhed at the view while I sucked wind. ha. But it was beautiful.

Our plane boards in 20 minutes, we are in the airport in Seattle. Paul's flight left already, we are on our own. The kids are watching shows on Jon's tablet, leaving me a little bit of time to blog before we get moving. We don't get home until 10:30 tomorrow morning...and by then my older kids will be on their flight to Israel...they take off when we land.

And we have had a wonderful vacation. I miss my Ben already, and Ashley too. She has such a big soft heart, and was so good to us. Little Anya was warming more and more and more to us, by the time we left, she had totally stolen our hearts. Saying goodbye is more cruel than I can put into words. As thankful I am to have spend time with them, it hurts to leave. I am saving my money up to come back again...days and weeks and months are hard to apart from them, but years would be intolerable:)

We need to get up and walk around before our flight, which means turning off their show and gathering all the electronics and backpacks and luggage...blah. But it is still fun. They make it so much fun, with their delight in all the little details that regular people overlook.

And, off we go....

Saturday, September 26, 2015

in other news....

That is my son! No, not the president of the United States, and no, not the president of China...but that handsome soldier standing there directly behind them, facing the camera...that's Sam! He has had a busy week...he saw the Pope the other day.

We are having a busy week too. Yesterday when Ashley and Anya took a nap, we decorated for a surprise birthday party for the two of them, as both their birthdays are next month, when we are all the way back east again...

Anya didn't quite know what to make of it at first...

But the party horns and balloons were delightful.

We also explored the town...

We found a river....which I do have pictures of, but it takes so long to load the photos, and Benjamin is awake, the kids are eating cereal, and I smell coffee...I hate missing out on life.

For the surprise party, Paul and I snuck into town with the kids...into the bakery...the coffee shop that roasts it's own beans daily....and bought Ashley a pound of coffee, and some fresh baked cookies...and of course I had to sample the brewed coffee...yum. We also went to the dinky little grocery store and bought a "heater cake", which is what my kids call the frozen Pepperidge Farms cakes...chocolate. And a pumpkin muffin from the bakery.

I had brought gifts from home, and the plates and candles and decorations from Walmart on the way here to the wilderness. The kids enjoyed surprising them, and decorating, putting the crepe paper streamers up...

Anyhoo. How can I describe how nice it is up here? The air smells crisp, it is Autumn for sure. The trees are still mostly green, but there are leaves to crunch in, and there are reds and oranges dotting the green-ness. The trees...they're huge! They are huge and fat and tower into the sky. We saw elk, wandering around the town. Just out for a walk behind the grocery store.

We have soaked in the hot tub under the stars (and yesterday before breakfast), played cards, made good meals...and talked.

Today we are going adventuring again. Maybe Mt. St. Helens, which is to the south of us, or maybe back up Mt. Rainier. Or to the river, so they can catch some salmon. I don't care much. I just like being with Ben and Ashley, and Anya is like a ray of sunshine. She just enjoys life, and is so sweet.

Ah well...enough for now.

Friday, September 25, 2015

cabin in the woods

We're here! It's beautiful, and the hot tub is nice. Tomorrow we go find the river, the salmon are running. We went up the mountain today...

Maybe tomorrow I'll have time for blogging:)

Thursday, September 24, 2015

in seattle....

I would like to say that the kids loved the gum wall...but Jonathan despises gum, the smell of it, the texture, and the whole idea of it. The girls and I added some to it, but Anya just looked at it...she is a sweet little granddaughter...

The fact is, we are having so much fun I don't have time to blog. The airplane trip was a blast, the kids delighted in every aspect of it, annoying most passengers and amusing a few. Spending time with Ben and Ashley and Anya...too precious to waste time here on the dusty old keyboard.

Monday, September 21, 2015

teaching kids to drive, last minute shopping, and packing for a trip....

Parking 101. Um, Evelyn? Nice try. Like mother like daughter, I guess. I am not the best parker, and my record for taking up the most spaces is four, but I did have a big van back then.

Evelyn isn't a bad driver, in fact she has improved a lot since she terrified us all on that one trip to the small city. It was seriously scary, sorry Evelyn. But practice makes perfect, and even though she's the eleventh child I have taught to drive, I still get a bit dashboard-holdy when she drives. Yesterday though, I realized at one point that I actually forgot that she is a new driver, so yay Evelyn.

She knows how to go through the Dunkin drive-through...the boy working there gave her TWO ten packs of munchkins instead of one:) No, I didn't eat any. Just coffee.

We had to buy underwear for one of the girls going to Israel, and a huge bag of dog food, and more coconut oil, and a bag of coffee. I bought pizza pockets for the kids who will be here without a cook when I'm in Seattle, and enough bread, lunch meat, ect., for the week.

Our bags are packed! Paul is a reasonable guy, and he gets a free checked bag since he is a frequent flyer. He thought I could just pack my stuff in half of that bag, and that it's not necessary for me to also lug a carry-on. Well. Sneakers and jackets and sweaters and jeans and skirts and undies and and and. I TRIED to fit it into that one bag, but I think he took a teensy bit more than his fair half, so it didn't fit. But it's also not my fault that my stuff is so big. I would LIKE to pack a tiny little bikini for the hot tub at the cabin, but I have one of those granny-dress-suits.


Also, when I travel, I can't decide on things. Should I wear my sneakers? We fly to Washington D.C., only an hour-ish, then from there to Washington state...6 hours-ish. Sneakers on for that long? Birkenstocks would slip right off on the plane, but are not so great for walking long distances in airports. Oh, the conundrums. And I am not one of those pajama pants travelers. I just don't feel respectable walking around in public in work-out pants, either. If I lost another fifty pounds maybe. But ain't nobody want to see that at this point.

Anyhoo. The kids have snacks in their backpacks, and their tablets, and some crayons. They have their shoes chosen and packed, and are all set.

Today we have to go to the bank and change some change to money, to spend in Seattle. We have researched what to do in the city, and believe me, I wish I wasn't such a cheapskate. The Great Wheel, the famous ferris wheel overlooking the Puget Sound and the city of Seattle...will cost over $60! I know, I know, it's a big trip for the kids, but ouch. But listen to this: there is a donut place at Pike's Market, that makes their own fresh donuts, and they make...maple-frosted with bacon!

Vacations are tricky for constant-dieters. I don't want to need two seats on the plane home. It's such hard hard work to get the pounds off these days, I have only lost 4 pounds since my birthday in July...I don't want to put it all back on in one week. :)

Well, the kids have school to do before we run to the bank. And I just realized that I never did pack any undies. oops, wonder what else I forgot? I mean, it's not like I just had an hour of peace and quiet in which to pack....

I intend to bring this trusty laptop with me on vacation, since traveling to the west coast gives us the luxury of sleeping in, and it still being early, as they are three hours behind me, sleeping in to nine is lovely, and it will only be 6 a.m. out there. So I may just have some time to blog...if the kiddos stay quiet and don't wake up Ashley and Anya...

Friday, September 18, 2015

just an afternoon break...

Morning walk! Yay me!

Cold windy days will come, and I will long for mornings like these.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

going going going....

What a day...first schoolwork, then the beach, then shopping. Home at 9:30, and dinner...veggies dipped in olive oil, and a coney re-heated from the other night.

The beach...

Miss Lydia Eleanor went too...and she was an angel. Mali was careful to keep her out of the sun:)

Our shopping crew...Suzanne, Kathryn, Mali, and Evelyn holding Lydia.

She was only kidding when she suggested this hat for Israel...Kathryn Grace.

They needed hats and sunglasses and sunscreen and protein bars and gum and tummy tablets, just in case...

We also went to the thrift store, I needed jeans. I couldn't find any, so had to buy some from Walmart for full price, sixteen bucks. ouch. I also finally bought a new bra, another thing I procrastinated about. I.hate.trying.them.on. They come on those little hangers, and are so hard to put back on there when you decide it doesn't fit right. And seriously, no bra in the world is going to fit as nicely as the one you have on, and trying them on is just...not fun. I didn't much like trying the jeans on either...they didn't magically make my tummy go away.

This mama is tired, the house is finally quiet (but rather messy)(because mama wasn't here for dinner)...

And morning comes early...and with the morning, more fun...working at the church soccer game in the kitchen...bringing all the kids out there to watch the games...up, and out the door. Phew. :)

good morning!!!!

I walked this morning, yay me.

There were deer grazing, The farmer down the road has been busy cutting the corn...the field looks like Jonny after a buzz cut. I found another wild turkey feather, and put it in the freezer, as I read that it helps to kill the germs. The girls want them to write with...Cam has, "always wanted a feather quill!"

The girls are watching, "Curious George", and eating Cinnamon Life. They are allowed to watch something in the morning if they want, they are free until nine o'clock. And shh, I LOVE Curious George. He is adorable without being annoying.

Today, school is going to be just a few hours because...we are going to the beach! Yup, again! Mirielle has the day off, and wants to soak in some sun...she's a nurse, works 12 hour night shifts, and doesn't see the sun much when she works lots of days in a row. Mali is going to with little Lydia...(I am bringing a sun shade)

Yesterday afternoon, we packed suitcases! The three youngest kids are almost all packed up and ready to go. When 10 family members are all traveling at the same time, there can't be the usual suitcase swapping and borrowing. Shh, I found some really nice carry-ons at the thrift is a Samsonite, for $5! So now everyone has what they need...I think. They have to let me know because I won't be here the week before they leave for Israel, so if they need something, they are on their own.

This afternoon when we get home from the beach,we are going Walmarting, and maybe dollar-storing. They need travel-sized stuff, and protein bars, and motion-sickness meds. A few of them need more undies, one needs more socks...ten days in Israel, and no one wants to take time to wash things out on a trip like this.

We can't shop over the weekend because there is a church soccer tournament, plus a football game on Saturday...that brings us to Monday, and we are leaving on Tuesday I think we better go tonight. Besides, I will probably be buying last minute groceries for these guys on Monday night.

We have to leave for the airport at like 3:30 in the morning, Monday night/Tuesday...the kids say they aren't even going to go to bed. Um, yes, they are. They are also planning to be silly on the first flight, as they have never flown, and are rather anxious. Yesterday we googled turbulence, which was probably not smart, but they were asking...all I can say is that I already feel sorry for the businessmen/businesspeople who are taking that early morning flight to Washington D.C....we are flying from one Washington to the other, which is a very long flight...I hope they doze off a little.

Anyway, they are so excited, and counting the days to the trip now isn't such an exercise in math...

I don't watch, "The View", but what idiots. Why does that nurse have a doctor's stethoscope? Seriously? Save me the lame apologies. Being the mom of FOUR registered nurses, I have the greatest respect for the profession. 12 hour shifts, difficult patients, never having time to eat, sore feet, compression stockings, taking crap from the patients in all ways possible, dealing with the families...and then of course there is the serious kids never tell me patient specifics, as per HIPA, but sometimes they have to talk to someone about the young soldier who was bit by a rabid dog in that soldier's backpack sitting on the shelf as he fought for his life...and lost...reminded this young nurse of her brother who was fighting in the very same war...or the young father who was dying of cancer in his room all decorated in crayoned pictures from his kids...the ones who die too young, and who are so kind, who are so loved...the middle aged down-syndrome patient who passed away, leaving his younger brother so broken he collapsed in the doorway, sobbing. These things my kids deal in day out.

Anyhow....time to get moving....:)

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

playground day...

1. The kids ran around for a few hours at the playground while Mirielle and I sat in the sun and basked...we were at, "Bird Poop Playground", as the kids call it because there are ducks and geese there. There was a nice breeze, and the sun was blazing. Davian made friends with a little boy, but after that boy left, the kids had the playground to themselves. So the whole play structure was a ship...

2. Mirielle has new tires on her car! Just kidding, that's not exciting. But when you grow up, you have to spend your money on not-fun things.

3. We did go to Target before the playground. I bought Suzanne a beautiful white scarf to wear in Israel. They are visiting the Old City, and have to be well-covered.

4. When Mirielle's car was finished, we headed home then remembered we hadn't gotten we stopped at the grocery store. We bought apples and bananas and burger and cereal and ice cream and yogurt and avocados and cheese.

5. Home...ah home. But not for long. These kids are leaving for Israel before I get back from Seattle, and I am leaving for Seattle in the wee hours of the morning on Tuesday...and these kids have a soccer tournament this weekend, and I am working at the football game Saturday....and they need stuff before they go....

6. Jonathan needs a haircut, but says he needs to grow it out for Halloween.

7. Laundry and packing...lots to do. But oh I cannot wait to get to Seattle! Paul will be relaxed and Relaxed Paul is so nice to be with! And seeing my sweet little granddaughter! And being with Ben and Ashley...I can't wait.

Anyway...this has been a horrid post to write...the kids are here and there and everywhere, and you know how it is when you realize that you are ignoring them? And that you really should be doing other things? And that you have been interrupted no less than fifty times? And that your thought process is fragmented and your writing is awful and why even hit the "publish" button?

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

the little details of life....

I've always wanted to be one of those people who took care of things as they arose, but alas I am a pile-er. Phone calls, store returns, things I'm going to list on ebay...things that grow and multiply until they are like the couch clothes-monster....too big to shake a stick at.

And when I get good and tired of waking up in the middle of the night and not being able to fall back to sleep, I take care of things. Then I feel like Mrs. Accomplished.

I will spare you the boring details but, as I am leaving for a week, I have to make sure there are rations here for both teenagers and pets. These older kids of mine will be on the runway in their plane, taking off, right as our plane touches down, on the day we return from Seattle...they will be heading for their much awaited trip to Israel. So anything they need for the trip from me has to be handled BEFORE I leave for Seattle next week. Money, luggage, trips to the store for important things like gum and deodorant.

Also the day we return is the day the three and a half year old twins come here for their ten day visit, as their parents (my sister's daughter and her husband) will be going to Israel too.

The kids haven't started their school work yet because for some reason they have decided to clean their rooms, and in what universe would a mother interrupt that rare and wonderful occurrence?

Mali is coming over later with little Llama...

She is a good mama, Mali is. Lydia is growing and getting chubby cheeks:)

We are thinking of going apple picking, but with the warmth and sunshine coming back, maybe a trip to the park.

Davian is here now, little sunshine himself.

Yesterday we stopped for ice's Davian with Camille.

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

We need to start that their rooms are picked up and the hampers are overflowing...see how that works? Anyhow, this place is busy and here I sit, Bad Mom Award.

Monday, September 14, 2015

once upon a monday...

...there was a mom.

She wanted to stay in bed and read her library book. It was darkish, and rainy, and every so comfy in that bed. But she smelled the coffee that her husband had made before he went out the door for work. And she knew that if she wasted the time before the homeschooled kids woke up, she'd regret it...because there were floors to sweep and a blog to write on.

She talked herself out of her morning's raining!, she reasoned! She was so good at talking herself out of things that were good for her, she should get a medal.

This mom loved her kids. She had lots of them, too. Only half were still at home...ten of them around the dinner table just seemed...sparse. Sometimes she realized that these at home weren't there permanently either, and they would grow older and trickle out the door too.

She couldn't seem to stop time, so she decided to simply enjoy the days, revel in the childhood of the three youngest, and do all she could to connect with the teenagers at home...

Of course just because they moved out, didn't automatically make the older kids "strangers". No, Emily and Mirielle and Mali and Aaron still visited, and this mom would definitely drop whatever she was doing to spend time with these "children" of hers. Washington state Benjamin and family, and Washington, D.C. Samuel were on her heart too, and if they called or texted...well, she was all ears.

This mom was thankful that she didn't work. Because if she worked, who would take Mirielle to get new tires on her car?

Homeschooling...ahh, sweetness. An apple picking field trip to the place where they freshly fry donuts? Yes, thank you. Spelling test on Friday night? Why not? Looking up pictures of Lab puppies randomly? Nice. Raking up the leaves and jumping in them, having a picnic in the yard, setting up a whole dollhouse can learn from those things, right?

Jury has a responsibility to be a good citizen, and serve when called. But who will homeschool the children, this mom wonders. She had better call and find out if it's a valid excuse to get out of her summons. Part of her would love to serve on a interesting! And forty dollars a day doesn't sound too bad.

This mom is happy about having her little friend Davian come over and spend his days with her...he brings joy, with the bounce in his step, and his curiosity about his world...his happiness is contagious, and he also loves to cuddle.

This fine Monday morning, life is good for this mama. She has to abandon her blog, and pay attention to her children. Davian is coming over, and the kids are having breakfast. She has to do schoolwork with them, and perhaps go on a spontaneous outing in the afternoon...

Friday, September 11, 2015

never a dull moment...

Do I look like I feel? Oh, that morning after a migraine was a bad one, but is there ever a good one? There ARE good things about horrid headaches though:

1. When you come to the slow realization that the pain is subsiding, and you no longer feel like you are going to throw up when you so much as wiggle your baby finger...the joy starts in...

2. When the pain is actually mostly gone, and you can sleep without the pounding pounding brain-wracking pain...bliss.

3. When you wake up and it's a new day, and your head isn't aching...yay!

4. I realize that there are those who are in chronic pain, and I think of them when I am suffering, and I count my blessings, and feel bad knowing there are people who suffer much more than I do.

5. When I am starting to feel like myself again...oh the relief. A new day!

The reality is that the day after a migraine...I am washed out and done in and zapped. I was up for a lion's share of the night, and took ibuprofen intermittently...when it finally kicked in and I slept, I had a hard time getting up. But I had to! I was slow in getting my morning work started, and when Davian walked in this morning, he asked, "Why is it so dirty in here?" I told him I hadn't swept yet, and after I did it would be nice and clean. He didn't look convinced and rightly so.

Anyway. I have had my coffee, had my van towed away, and swept the floors....

Hopefully it will be an inexpensive fix, but she won't start, no way no how.

The kids rather enjoyed watching the tow truck driver winch that van up onto his big truck.

Now they are playing school, have their desks all set up, but are doing real work. Davian has a desk too, but it's play time for him. He's a smart little thing, but he really likes to play, too. He just had a birthday party for a stuffed dog that he named, "Della".

Yesterday was fun...

Char and Cam don't mind a little shopping. It was my sister's 60th birthday, and I wanted to get her something...
We found a few things we really needed...

And a few things we didn't. But Kathryn found a nice scarf for Israel...have I mentioned that eight of our kids are going to Israel in three weeks with the youth group? They are visiting some sacred places, where ankles and shoulders need covering. They are going for ten days, and I am going to be watching a sweet little set of twins while they are away, starting the day I return from Seattle. game to work at...fundraising. I don't mind too much, it's fun to be with friends.

Camille's favorite new thing is to make up poems and write them in her little notebook. The way they get into their own little worlds, playing school and pretending while really learning stuff...Miss Char has the dry erase board and is being the teacher, teaching me I had better pay attention...Davian has his hand raised already...