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

Saturday, January 30, 2016

fatass rant....

Here in the western world, American culture, thin is in. Being fat is epidemic, it's killing us, we are obese!

You can't blame us, everything tastes so good, and it's so cheap! An apple is good...when it's fresh and crunchy, but give me an off season apple with a couple of bruises in it, or a smushy grape, or a pear that is engineered be picked when it's hard as a rock, then ripen on the way to the store...and it's still crunchy and flavorless and yuck. But Doritos, they're always good! Dollar menus, with the salty fatty flavor enhanced deep fried yummies.

So you can't blame us. When I was a kid, a can of soda was special, I can count on one hand how many times I had one all to myself. Cake was for birthdays. We got chips on payday, not every day in our lunches.

Anyway, we're fat. And believe you me, fat people are treated differently than not-so-fat people. I am still fat, but more ACCEPTABLY fat. 70 pounds down now, but still in a size 16 jeans, I am still fat. But. Let me tell you something. It's different. In the Target parking lot several years ago, I didn't put my cart back where it belonged because I had unloaded small children into the van, and didn't want to walk to the cart return and leave them in there (but also I was probably lazy, and heck, my knees probably hurt after walking all the way through Target)...anyway, as I climbed into the driver's seat of that 15 passenger van, this snarky young couple that pulled into the parking spot across from me grabbed the shopping cart I had left there, and yelled, "No wonder you're fat!" ouch. Once I went on this lovely dinner cruise with Paul, and as we stood appreciating the view, I turned my head and a group of his co-workers all turned away from me at the same time. I continued to stare in their direction, and sure enough, they all peeked over at me, and looked away real quick-like. I caught them. They were talking about me. I had put so much thought into my yellow flowered blue skirt, and yellow elbow sleeved top. No bare arms for me! I had my Birkenstocks on, of course. Maybe they were saying how pretty I looked! Or maybe they heard I had a busload of kids at home. But I don't think so...because when I looked at them, they were ashamed. They didn't smile at me, like they would if they were saying nice things about me.

What kills me is that I am the same exact person as I was before. And when I lose fifty more pounds (hey, it COULD happen!), I will still be the same person. But hopefully I will never ever forget what if feels like to be snickered at. I know, I was probably a sight, especially when Easter candy was 75% off and I was filling my cart. But still.

My metabolism isn't what I would like it to be. I can't eat like a normal person anymore, or my weight will come back with a vengeance. And I don't want that to happen, because I FEEL so much better. I am not running marathons, or doing CrossFit, but I can explore cities and navigate airports and go to parks and malls without huffing and puffing. I can buckle seatbelts and fit in more normal clothes. But I am still me.

I can work at the basketball games, something I couldn't do 70 pounds ago.

Been there done that...I KNOW what it's like to feel hopeless, to feel like that it won't make a whit of difference whether I eat another cupcake or not, I'm still fat, and I could never diet. I used to read so much about weight loss before I took the plunge and really started working on it...I was a huge, fat, weight loss expert. But the numbers were big and scary, and baby steps seemed impossible. And have you heard the success rate of losing large amounts and actually keeping it off? 5%. Yeah, 95% of people gain it all back, and then some. So why try?

For me, as I have written a million times, it was the acid reflux...heartburn 24/7. I had managed it for a few years with antacids and it just got worse. When I finally went to the doctor for it, and saw that my nice low blood pressure was creeping up, I flipped out. I was 46 years old, not ready for the downward slide! The doctor said it wasn't that bad, to just start on the Prilosec, and we would sort out the b.p. later, maybe start on some meds.

I left the office a shaking mess. No. I had to do something. So I did.

I haven't been perfect, it hasn't been easy. But when my size 24 jean skirt started falling down, I knew I was making progress. After a bit I bought a scale. It's been five years since I started to fight back, and it hasn't been easy. I got pregnant for baby #17 after losing the first 25 pounds, and even saw it's tiny heartbeat on the sonogram, but then lost the baby. Sticking to plan wasn't easy during that. I also had gall bladder removal, and you know, real life. Parties and celebrations and trips and just normal baking cookies for the kids. Saying NO a million times doesn't feel rewarding, but it's the story of my life, and I'm sticking to it.

In a perfect world, we wouldn't be judgy wudgy about anyone. I know, there are things I have ranted about here...parents being mean to their kids, toddlers in strollers playing with tablets instead of walking or even just looking at the world around them...but I'm working on working on ME, and giving others freedom to just be themselves. But as for fat shaming, one of the last frontiers of allowable judging, because heck, it's THEIR FAULT. no. I will not. I have walked in those still walking in those shoes...

And now, no lie, I am going in the kitchen to help my girls bake cookies for their activity groups. For their sakes, I just try to be normal about it, but we all know that I can't eat any of those cookies...

p.s. One of my coping mechanisms is to buy things that I CAN have, like macadamia nuts, pistachios, peppered cashews, and salt and vinegar peanuts, frozen rasberries and blueberries...90% dark chocolate. They can be expensive, but it helps! I also splurge on good coffee, and different kinds of tea. I also chew different flavors of gum when I really want to eat something...

friday night fun!

Fifty years old. Fifty. Half a century. But I feel better now than I did for so many years....

My oldest "child", Emily...this may not be the greatest pic, but she is a lovely girl,she turned 31 a few weeks ago.

Miss Lydia, Mali's little sunshine.

This is the lovely new cross stitch my mother-in-law did for me. :)

My day:

1. Out to breakfast with my brother, with Jon, Char, and Cam.

2. Library.

3. Dollar store.

4. Grocery store.

5. School to pick up Suzanne.

6. Home, ahh home.

7. Gas station to check air in van tires.

8. Walmart.

9. Pizza hut to pick up dinner:)

Regarding #9, we had free pan pizza coupons for the youngest three...then ordered online, three medium pizzas for $5 each. When I went to pick them up, the three mediums were done, but I had to wait 20 minutes for the small ones for the kids. As I stood there and watched a 30-something year old guy named Frank huffing and bustling, keeping up amazingly well with a seemingly unending barrage of orders, I realized how ridiculous it was to be impatient...upset...even though I had called to order the three personal pan pizzas, they had not made them. An oversight, a mistake. The didn't apologize, they just put the order in, made the pizzas, and I waited. So on the one hand, I had plenty of good reasons to be upset. But wait a minute. Do all things work together for our good EXCEPT for when we have to wait for pizza?


Today was busy enough. When I am out and about so much, of course the housework slips. And playing catch-up isn't my favorite. Paul is coming home from France tomorrow, and we wouldn't want him to think we just slacked off the whole time he was gone, now would we? What are you doing with YOUR Saturday?

Seriously though, for all the work I put into getting the floors clean, it should at least last a day. Three would be nice. Sweeping, vacuuming, mopping...

Anyway, also regarding #9, I tried to behave tonight. I browned up some fresh chicken breast that I had marinating in the refrigerator, and also made broccoli slaw...I mixed that chicken with hot sauce and butter, and ate it all together...and only had one small slice of the pizza, while we watched, "Home". After the little girls were tucked in, I watched, "The Age Of Adaline", with the older girls. Unfortunately, I made a big batch of popcorn popped in coconut oil, with butter...

So Paul is coming home tomorrow. Of course I'm glad, but to be honest, it's nice that he travels some, because then I miss him when he's gone. And missing someone means you can't wait until they come back, and that helps you appreciate them, and being glad to see someone you have been married to since 1984...well, that's a good thing. So shh, it's not just because he puts air in the van tires and can stop and get a gallon of milk on the way home from work.

I am thankful for our marriage. It isn't perfect. He is not a detail person. I can tell a story, and he'll start waving his hands in that, "hurry up and get to the point" motion. I say, that's the whole point of me telling this story, for the conversation, not just to pass on information. So I have had my share of hurt feelings. We're different, he and I. I am definitely a Drop Everything And Visit type when the older kids come over. And, I am a Clean Up Quick before company comes person, too. He thinks it looks fine in here. He's more practical, more responsible.

But...the thing about Paul is that he is very humble. Even if his initial reaction to something is strong, he'll second guess himself, talk to me about it, and then mellow out. No matter what the older kids come up with, he doesn't get too ruffled. He KNOWS it's not the end of the world when something challenging happens, and his calmness is very comforting. He rarely pursues his own interests, and when he does, I love it. It does my heart good to see him go fishing or hunting, or play his guitar.

He's a little naggy about us leaving the lights on, and turning the heat up too high, and if it were up to him, we wouldn't have overdue fees at the library every single time we get books out. Ha, he has a lot to put up with!

But we do love each other, and I am thankful that our differences haven't gotten in the way of that. Sparks still fly, sorry kids, if you are reading this. :)

Charlotte Claire and Camille Anaya had gym class this evening AFTER they watched their movie. They ran around and around and around. They have those foam interlocking mats, and they push the coffee table over, put the mats down, and drag a ten foot long two-by-four up the stairs, and use it as a balance beam. Because living rooms are also gymnasiums. Sometimes they put on rollerblades, and yeah, skate around the living room and kitchen. Is it GOOD for the floors? No, but it sure is fun for the kids. Winter is long and cold here in central New York state. They go out and play and go sledding but it's not enough exercise....

Yeah, so goodnight. My stagecoach has long turned back to a pumpkin.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

and to walmart we go....

I have issues with Walmart, but when it comes right down to it, sometimes you just have to go there. Kathryn is making bracelets with paracord, and guess where it is reasonably priced? And if you happen to need bananas and a bag of dogfood, and some underwear, where else would you go?

Walmart and their shady practices...they had their "Made In America" campaign in the 80's, and all the while were setting up factories in China. I saw a documentary where a sock manufacturer, who existed because of a huge Walmart contract, was told to move their facilities to China or they would find a different supplier. They did the same with electronics and other textiles. Because it was cheaper. Okay, fine, do whatever makes your business float, but the hypocrisy!

Here's another peeve, as long as I'm peeving: girls who have babies and...dump them. I don't know their issues, I don't know their mindsets, I don't want to judge...but every time I read about one, I seethe. And I cry. I say, "I would have taken that baby!"

When I read the news, I admit, I don't know what I would do to fix it all. The homeless...five of them were shot in Seattle, and this also made me cry. We saw so many of them on our last trip out there...tents set up near the waterfront, little camp sites in Pioneer Square. I don't know the answers for all these things, but it's still sad. Supposedly there are 3,000 homeless children enrolled in school in that city.

Heroin. Meth. Synthetic marijuana. In the big city, in the hospital where Emily and Mirielle work, the number of babies born with addictions is skyrocketing...and these are not just teenage moms, they are the soccer moms, the middle class women who should know better.

Drugs cause all sorts of crime, and when drug use goes up, so does crime, because they NEED their drugs.

There is no band aid big enough for all these things. Laws and rules and jail sentences and legislation cannot fix it all.

Moses brought those tablets down the mountain with the ten commandments. They weren't followed.

Jesus came, born in the flesh, battling sin and growing in wisdom and grace...until He overcame all sin. He said, "follow me". Can you imagine a world where everyone lived in purity? Just think of the multitude of problems that would be eradicated if each and every person waited until they were in a decent place financially and got married BEFORE having children? If spouses were faithful to each other, and people didn't lie and cheat. If companies REALLY cared about their employees, and each person worked if they were capable...if those who had plenty gave willingly to those who were sick, and to the elderly.

I could go on and on.

But I won't. Because we are going to Walmart. The kids aren't allowed computer or tablet time during the school day, and are reading their library books because I haven't given them any work. So mama needs to stop dreaming about how life is going to be on the new earth someday and be faithful today, in her own world. This afternoon there is a basketball game to work at, and tomorrow, the homeschooled kids and I are going out to breakfast with my brother...:)

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

just a little bit busy....

I know, it's not like the old days when I had two in diapers and was expecting a new one, working feverishly to get that older toddler into big girl or big boy undies so I wouldn't have...gasp...THREE in diapers. THAT would have been unreasonable.

Yet I am still busy. Teaching, reading, listening, learning...

Today, little Davian came to visit. He's not yet four, and smart as a whip. He was all about the Statue Of Liberty today. I asked him if he knew where America got her, and of course he knew. He posed as her...if you are reading this and know him in Real Life, ask him what the Statue looks like...he was also very interested in the route Mirielle and I took while traveling across the country. He said, "What do all those places LOOK like?" I explained to him the vastness of the prairies, and the mountains...

As he was leaving, Miss Lydia, our littlest grandbaby, was arriving. The fighting began! "I didn't get to hold her once last time, you always hog her, my turn is too short, you always get like five turns...." They want to feed her and change her and carry her around. Gramma here just bides her time...Joseph, Kathryn, Jon, Char, and Cam went out the door to Activity Club, and Sonja left to go ice skating...Suze had a pile of homework, as did Grammy got a turn! Lydia is smart, too. If I to the smoochy-kiss on her cheek, every single time, she'll try to make the same noise. She is just delightful.

Evelyn and I sneaked away to town for a quick store run. I baked a double batch of chocolate chip cookies today, because I had to send some to Activity Club with the kids, and discovered there was only one more egg in that huge carton in the 'fridge. And no more bread on the counter. The milk was almost gone too. So Evelyn got a chance to practice her driving skills...did you know that Evelyn is the eleventh child? That means she is the eleventh child I have taught to drive. She has gotten so much better already, it's hardly frightening to drive with her anymore. It's a helpless feeling to be the passenger, pumping that invisible brake and trying to let her drive without the running monologue, "now signal, now start the turn, okay, slow down, SLOW DOWN!"...

Mali came to pick her up after a long day, a 12 hour shift and the first one of going-back-on-days...she switches from night shift to day shift every few weeks.

Then the kids came back in the door...from A.C., then Sonja from skating.

I read several chapters of a new library book to the little girls after hearing everyone's accounts of their evening. The princesses are tucked into my bed. They have been wanting to share that nice big bed of mine, since Daddy's in France...but I have selfishly been dragging my feet. I SO love stretching out in the whole thing! With the both of those girls in there, I get kicked all night. Miss Cam walks right up me in the night. Part of me loves the cozy part of it, but I don't sleep as well, and tomorrow there's a huge college basketball game, and I am working at it...Notre Dame.

Next week, I am starting a new endeavor, watching a sweet two-year-old three days a week while her mama finishes up her last semester of college. She's a darling little girl, I have watched her in the past, and am looking forward to it. I know we will all be in love with her, and it is so nice to have small children in the house. I also know that I will find grumbling and complaining in myself...that happens whenever I am out of my comfort zone a bit, but that is not a bad thing. It's in there, I may as well deal with it! God is good, He makes sure we have ample opportunity to be cleansed if that is what we seek.

Today I texted with both of my daughters who are in Norway. Abigail is sick in bed, with a fever. She said that besides being sick, she is doing quite well. No matter that she turned 29 in December, I wish I could bring her tea and hand her tissues. Margaret is doing okay, she just a few things she needs me to bring when I visit her in March.

Okay, here's a thought...remember the horrible pain that plagued me, the pain in my side? It went away. It was the story of my life for a while, then it disappeared. It's almost embarrassing, the fuss I made over it, the expensive tests I had...and now it's gone. Nothing showed up on the ct scan. Then I thought...people prayed for me. I prayed for me. Maybe, just maybe...hmm.

Or else it's just proof that my previous theory would have worked: if you ignore something for long enough, it will go away.

My chalk paint order hasn't arrived yet, so nothing on my remodeling/redecorating list has been tacked this week except for cleaning out the shoe area as you walk in the door. We weeded through those and made bags for the thrift store, and for the garbage.

It starts to rankle, that I can't seem to find the time to do the things I want to do, yet the bigger picture: it doesn't really matter in the long run. When I stand there before God, which IS going to happen...I really won't care at all if I ever got those kitchen cabinets painted or that closet cleaned out.

What WILL matter is how I stood in my trials, big and small. Did I keep my heart pure?

Sometimes we forget that our journey here is so temporal, we stick our heels in and stubbornly resist knowing that our eternal home is all that is of lasting value. Our house started out new and shiny, then went rather downhill...more things falling into disrepair than getting fixed, until we reached the point where there are a lot of projects. It's not a bad thing to make things nice, it's not bad to want to live in a pleasant and peaceful place. But. The big picture: it didn't kill me yesterday and it probably won't kill me tomorrow.

Monday, January 25, 2016

on a beautiful moonlit night....

This is near Emily's house..., I took the kids to the library. My four homeschoolers, plus two cousins, who also homeschool, Olivia, and Danielle. We got out stacks of books, paid the inevitable overdue fine, and headed to Target...the kids have gift cards:) The three little girls (Char, Cam, and Dani) tried on boots...for a very long time. They looked at toys and clothes. They decided to buy one piece gymnastic leotards, and a few plastic snow sleds. I found a pair of MukLuk boots, an online return. They aren't sold in stores, just online, and there they sat, in my size, marked down...I couldn't resist. They were too expensive ($38!), but my old boots are getting worn, and it's SO hard to find things that fit my feet comfortably, and my old boots aren't sold at BJ's anymore. These boots are still $54.99 online, so it was sort of a good deal...I tried to put them back several times, but oh I like them! So, I bought myself a new pair of boots.

I also splurged on new lamp shades.

Sweat pants and slippers for Jonathan, slippers for three teenage girls, some marked down packages of gum, and a really pretty long black sweater...I couldn't decide who to give it to, so I gave it to Suzanne and told her to share it. Ha, that's not a very nice thing to do to a 14 year old girl who has four teenage sisters...but Margaret's in Norway, so she doesn't count.

Kathryn drove today:)

Then to the grocery store, really quickly, I told them.

Kathryn with cousin Liv, Jonathan, then Camille, Char, and cousin Dani...

Home...ah, home. Not for long though, time to bring a few kids to soccer practice! It's far enough away that it's silly to drive back home then go back to pick them up, so I picked Kim up (my sister-in-law, Olivia and Dani's mom), and we went to a small town and visited their pizza shop...just a few chicken wings, and we split a slice of cheese pizza...then decided to bring home pizzas to our kids...then heck, wings too! I walked in the door at 7:15 with a sheet pizza and 40 wings. Eight kids: thrilled. It was an unexpected Monday night party. Leftovers were happily distributed for tomorrow's lunches at school.

After cleaning up the mess and putting away the leftovers, I sat down and put my feet up...then Sonja called, she needed a ride home from an activity planning meeting. Okay. dang. I really don't mind driving once I get out to the van and am on the road. It's the getting out of the comfy chair and heading into the cold dark night that's hard to get my head wrapped around. Tonight though, the full or almost full moon shone on the snow, and it was breathtakingly beautiful. And once I picked up Sonja, we had a nice little ride, a chance to talk.

Home again...ahh. Now the house is quiet and I need to head to bed too. Paul is in France, he made it there safe and sound. I do have library books, ha.

Tomorrow I have big plans for school here. So I won't be blogging in the morning. I am going to stay off the computer until later in the day when we're all done.

Suri is Miss Cuddlebuckets herself.

And now I gather my library books and head to hog up that whole bed to myself...don't get me wrong, I miss Paul...but shh, I do love to hog the bed.

new day, new week, new hope....

Here's the thing: There's a lot to do around here. Sitting here writing about it first is a waste of time, a complete waste of perfectly good time. But some of us need to encourage ourselves, get our thoughts in order, rev our engines before we roar into the day.

I ordered some chalk paint last night, from Walmart, to paint the end tables I have had since I was in high school. Yea, who else bought furniture with their babysitting money? They were unfinished pine, $49, and I bought two. For my future home. I also bought a couch and loveseat and paid for it weekly. It seemed perfectly logical at the time, as Paul and I were planning to get married sometime after graduation, and it turns out it was the following March, when I was the ripe old age of 18 and a half.

Anyway. I sanded and finished these end tables, 32 years ago. It's time for a change. There are SO many things I want to do around here, it's overwhelming...the walls and ceilings need to be wiped down, primed, painted...the kitchen cabinets don't like their boring old oak finish any more...they are thinking white, with a little distressing...some doors want paint, light fixtures and lamps are screaming for makeovers, lampshades need replacing...and where do I possibly start? With the end tables. A small easy project, I hope. I will take some before pics, clean them up and sand them, paint them, wax them, put on some new knobs, and take after pics. Sounds tremendously relaxing and easy, ha. But the cat will surely jump on one while it's wet, and some totally innocent child will put a cup of water on one and say, WHAT? I didn't know!

Anyhow. Today we are going out and about, library and maybe Target, as some little kids here have gift cards and want to browse. We could use a few things from the store, milk and eggs and fresh produce.

If only I had gotten an earlier start....but I needed sleep. I woke up bright and early, my eyes hurt, so I went back to sleep. Saturday night was our girls' hotel night and I dare say I slept an hour at most. Seriously, at 5:59 I was still wide awake. But oh it was worth it! I was a zombie yesterday, then stayed up too late reading, as per my usual when Paul is gone...

He got to spend time with our granddaughter's so adorable! She calls him Papa. I am bound and determined to go out there and visit them pretty soon...2,700 miles is just so far away.

Paul went from Seattle to San Francisco to New Jersey to Paris, then rented a car and drove to wherever he is in France...he won't be back until of course I had to read until midnight. It's how I function when he's gone.

Anyway. Today we are going out and about. The weather is nice, chilly and not snowing. We missed the major east coast storm. Sam got pummeled in D.C. though.

I like driving when the roads are clear.

Things are getting out of hand here. Charlotte Claire is roller skating with Camille's crutches to help her stay up. Camille is sweeping the kitchen floor in Heeley's, those sneakers with the roller wheel in the back. Mama is sitting in her chair, no school work is being done, and now UPS is here and the dogs are barking. Okay. I'm done being lazy. Bye for now...

Thursday, January 21, 2016

and another day gone...

This morning, Jonny was happy to be leaving the house to go ice skating in the city with Emily and Mali, and Char and Camille.

We picked up Emily along the way, then met Mali at the mall....Kathryn and I watched little baby Lydia at the mall while they went downtown to ice skate.

Kathryn and you can see, it was a total chore to watch that baby.

But we soldiered on, and took care of her:)

We only went to one store, Old Navy. They were having 30% off their clearance stuff, so the little girls got dresses for $3.49, and scarves and mittens for 68 cents. I got two shirts for 68 cents each, seriously, and a sports bra...for 33 cents. Not kidding.

Mali was running on empty. She is on a 12 hour night shift schedule at the hospital, and hasn't been able to sleep much during the day, so I told her to just go home and take a nap, go get her groceries, and then come get Lydia later. We could take her home, and somehow survive, ha. Evelyn, Suzanne, and Sonja were absolutely thrilled when we walked in with her. I hardly got a turn.

We made tacos for dinner, and the evening passed quickly and somehow emptily, even with eight kids and a baby in the house, plus Mali coming over, and Mirielle stopping in...because Paul is in Seattle. I drove him to the airport this morning when it was still dark out. In the snow. I got home, hung out with Ev, Suze, and Sonja while they got ready for school, then went back to bed and read for a while...:)

So tonight I am tired, and tomorrow I have to get up and take Cam to the doctor once more for her ankle, although I hardly think it's necessary. They have to get all their visits in, milk it for all it's worth. She has gone ice skating a few times, and sledding, and is doing gymnastics every day...I think her ankle is okay. But we'll go just to make sure.

Some of my girls want to go to Old Navy to see if there's anything left they want, and they also have Target gift cards, and something to return there, so are clamoring to go tomorrow afternoon, although they have to be back in the early evening for a meeting, so hurry hurry.

There's never a dull moment, and in it all, I get to choose how to navigate through it all. Sometimes I feel really lost in the current, just going with the flow, having no say in life. But the big picture is that God has this. He knows what I need. My soul is troubled sometimes, but I don't want to be weighed down by things I can't do anything about. Kids grow up and make decisions, and live their lives, and Mama knows best, right? But Mama has a thing or two to learn about humility, and sees her lack of wisdom enough to know sometimes it's better just to be quiet, and pray about things.

The house is quiet now. Kathryn so kindly invited the two little girls to have a sleepover in her room tonight. The dogs are snoring, and one of the kitties is sleeping on my feet, which is always coveted here...the kids know I am a sucker for not disturbing them when they have an animal cuddled so nicely in their lap, it is almost a guarantee they will get skipped over when Mama is choosing someone to take out the garbage or run and and answer the phone.

Here are a few pics I took from Ashley:), Paul is there with our sweet little granddaughter, and Ben and Seattle...

Benjamin, Anya, and Grampa (Paul)

I wish with all my heart I could be there too, I miss them, but it's so sweet that Paul loves little Anya so much...and she seems to like him, too.


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

yeah, so it's winter now...

Last evening, the little girls started in on how they loved summer, and couldn't wait for it to arrive. We counted, there are 121 days until the first of June.

But we can't wish our lives away, I told them. Let's be thankful for the coziness. They moved the coffee table out of the way, and spread the mats they got for Christmas across the room, and put the two by four they use for a balance beam on them. They said they are thankful for a big living room. And for the space heater. And for hot tea.

Right now, they are eating bowls of Cheerios at the coffee table with a candle lit.

Today, we are going to do some school, then go out and about in the snow. It is STILL snowing here. The band of snow sets up across Lake Ontario...and gets comfy. We shoveled that driveway so many times yesterday.

Anyway, we didn't pay that insurance bill yesterday because I called the office, and they had left! I was glad to stay home. But today it must be paid, and we are running out of cat food, and stuff for lunches. Paul is leaving early tomorrow morning for Washington state/Oregon, and then France, so he needs a few things that I'm picking up for him.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

snow day! no school...

There was a two hour delay, for school. I decided to get up out of my warm bed, and help Paul shovel the driveway, since work doesn't have things like delays. There was a foot of new snow in that driveway. The snowblower won't start, as per usual, since our appliances are haunted.

Suri, aka the 17th child, loves the snow.

She likes playing fetch with the snowballs I throw into the yard. She goes underwater-like, in the snow, and it's hilarious.

After Paul got his truck shoveled out and drove away to work, Suri stayed out there and kept me company while I dug out the minivan, as the car insurance is due today, and we need things from the store. If the roads are too bad, I'll just pay the insurance, and come back home.

The four girls made it back safely after a treacherous drive from Ohio. I'm happy for them that they get a day off from school today, and I want to hear more about their weekend.

On Thursday, I have to get up before dawn and bring Paul to the airport, he's going out to visit Ben and Ashley and Anya in Washington state, then going with Ben to a church conference. From there, he goes to France, so I won't see him for a while. This weekend, I am going to one of those fantastic hotel nights with my friends...we are all very busy moms, between the 8 of us, we have 72 kids. So a night away to sit in the hot tub is well appreciated!

Living in rural New York state is lovely. The more places I go in this world, the more I appreciate home. The desert is hauntingly beautiful, the mountains majestic, the lemon trees of California picturesque. But as a tired mom appreciates a good night's sleep more than anything, a New Yorker appreciates spring and summer. I am already thinking spring. Only ten or so more weeks of winter, then the days get longer and warmer, and the kids start going barefoot again...

Going out in the cold and shoveling snow is invigorating. It's 15 degrees, and when I take off my mitten to take a picture, my fingers freeze. Stomping the snow off my boots and coming into the house to the smell of morning coffee, it's warm. Now the warmth has worn off, the coffee cup is empty, the house still quiet. The day stretches before me, with it's demands...I have reports to write, and laundry to do, the morning sweeping hasn't been done, and and and...but for right now, I think I'll get more coffee and cover up with a blanket.

Monday, January 18, 2016

snow snow snow.....

And it's cold...

Jonathan shoveled the driveway today....twice. I did help the second time:)

I didn't last too long out's 16 degrees and windy.

Just the other night, I was in California having dinner outside...

Today was cozy...we made stew, and I do mean, "we". Jonathan tossed the beef in flour and spices, and browned it up while I cut the potatoes and carrots. We did laundry, and cleaned up, and they played in the house, and in the snow. The four teenage girls are on their way home from Ohio, Paul was at work, so it was only Joseph, me, and the three younger kids.

Sunday, January 17, 2016


Miss Lydia came to visit this evening. She's very popular here.

Such a cute Grampa! Paul is smitten with Lydia too.

Happy 31st birthday to my oldest "child", Miss Emily Anne...tomorrow...she was over today, so we celebrated! Four of my teenage daughters are in Ohio for the weekend, so the house seems relatively quiet...just Paul and I, Joseph, Jonathan, Char and Cam here...then Emily, Mali and baby Lydia, and Mirielle. Em helped prepare her own birthday dinner, chicken fajitas, which came out so good. The princesses wanted to make cupcakes, and they voted chocolate, so they helped measure and stir, from scratch...and then I filled the frosting bag for them, and let them have at it. Not too shabby. Too bad I'm on the road to recovering from a week of vacation, and am not eating sugar anymore, again.:)

I took Suri with me to the small town this afternoon, as I had to get some things from the store, return Redbox movies, and get Emily a gift...I already had some headbands and a solar light for her yard, so I got her some snap peas in the supermarket...they taste like summer...and a gift card for DunkinDonuts...I took Suri because the little girls were with Em, and Jon was at his friend's was weird not having an assortment of kids to choose from, to accompany me to town.

Our birthday celebration was lovely, they had ice cream from a local dairy, called, "Up All Night", which is coffee ice cream with chocolate espresso fudge ripple...oh I wanted some. But no, I am not eating sugar anymore. I didn't even taste the frosting I made. It's not easy, but hey, it's my lot in life.

Now that I'm home, I miss Aaron terribly. He's so far away. Two kids in Norway, one in California, one in Washington D.C., and one in Washington state...good thing I love traveling! I will be visiting the girls in Norway in March. Paul's leaving on Thursday to visit Ben and Ashley and Anya in Washington state, then going to a church conference with Benjamin. He's leaving straight from there for a week in France. Anyway, I miss Aaron, California is too far away. He has taken a traveling nursing job there, the pay is good, he likes the hospital...he's happy...

I'm tired...the snow is swirling out there...Mali texted me that she was home safe and sound, but there was a bad accident on the highway. This lake effect snow is intense, we're right in the middle of it, and tomorrow the kids are driving back from Ohio in fun.

Oh, here's something fun: Paul cleaned the house up so nicely for me for when I got home yesterday! He swept and mopped and scrubbed sinks, the new stove was all installed and gleaming, and there were flowers on the counter...he made dinner, too....

Saturday, January 16, 2016

a day in california....

Aaron and I...

Oh joy the beach! The Pacific ocean! There were surfers January! It was 60 degrees...not swimming weather exactly, but I had to take my sneakers and socks off and walk in the water.

That's the Golden Gate Bridge!

Riley (Aaron's friend), with Aaron and Mirielle...

A streetcar...

Miss Mirielle....

Heading back from the beach...traffic, houses so close together with no yards...just different.

We went downtown this evening for dinner at a Mexican restaurant...and ate out on the January. We're not in Kansas anymore, Toto.

Tomorrow morning, bright and early, we head back to New York the quick way...from the airport. It's been way too much fun.

Friday, January 15, 2016


We made it! We drove all the way across the entire country! Yesterday's driving was the scariest, and leaving the worst for last isn't my favorite. We went from Reno, and drove up into those mountains, with the signs flashing about slippery roads and snow and ice. Trucks were required to pull over and put chains on the tires, and we had ours in case cars were also supposed to. The elevation rose to almost 7,000 feet, winding and curving, with those tractor trailers just speeding along like they never heard of brake failure. There were Runaway Truck lanes here and there, so it obviously has happened...and when the hill was steep, and there was a tractor trailer in the rear view mirror getting bigger by the second, and the road was twisting into another hairpin curve, and Aaron had asked to please be nice to his brakes...ugh.

We survived. I told Mare that this trip was like climbing a mountain for me. I don't like driving, I don't like big trucks, I don't like passing them, I don't like entering freeways, or changing lanes, or navigating through five lane traffic. But I figure there's nothing to fear but fear itself. Mirielle did more driving than me for day three and four, because she doesn't mind it at all, and I hate it, but I did my share yesterday, and for the first two days. I am so very thankful and relieved that the driving part is over...

I have lots of pictures on my phone, but it's still plugged in and humming with white noise, as it's 6 a.m. here. Aaron bought a couch from Ikea that turns into a queen bed, which Mare and I share here. She can sleep through snoring, which is good, just in case anyone were to snore. Aaron and Riley took us around Redwood City yesterday. We had coffee from a local place they found, and walked around in the warm (to us!) fifty-five degree misty rain, sipping it. We decided unanimously to have dinner at the apartment, instead of going out somewhere, because Riley is an amazing cook. So we stopped at Safeway, which I loved, being the grocery store geek...and got some chicken breast, fresh green beans, and a bottle of wine...New York does not sell wine or liquor in grocery stores.

Then to Target because they needed a few things. I bought all the ingredients to bake them some chocolate chip cookies. Their apartment has this amazing microwave/convection oven, and a KitchenAid stove/range. I am rather excited to use it.

The dinner was delicious, eaten at their desk in the office, as they have no dining table yet.

So the road trip that came up out of nowhere, last minute and spontaneous, played out better than I could have imagined. I looked at the map and figured it out, and it worked wonderfully. We drove all the way to Davenport Iowa the first day, then to Cheyenne Wyoming the second day, putting 1600 miles behind us. Then to Salt Lake City, arriving early in the afternoon and giving us a nice break...we hit Target there, and had salads from Wendy's for dinner, and had a plastic hotel cup filled with wine, in the hot tub...we did take a stop in Nebraska for something called a Runza, which is burger and cabbage and onions, enclosed in a fresh baked roll. Mare tried it and liked it, I had the regular burger with lettuce, tomato, and pickles...we shared a fries/onion rings made Nebraska more pleasant.

Our fifth night was in Reno, and we got there early too. We stayed in one of those mega resort casinos, for only fifty bucks a night. I'm sure they thought we would feed money into the slots but neither of us had the slightest desire to gamble, but we did visit the Starbucks in the lobby. The girl gave us our coffees, and said that if we brought the cups and receipt back later, we could have fifty four cent refills. Um, yes please! This resort had seven restaurants in it...we chose the rib buffet one, and it was very good, including drinks and coffee for eleven bucks each. The pool was amazing, as was the hot tub.

We watched several episodes of HDTV, so Paul should watch out when I get home, I am inspired to knock out some walls and redecorate! Kidding about the walls, but I am buying paint!

Anyway...we're here in California. Aaron has to work for part of the day, then we are going to see the Golden Gate bridge, and the Pacific Ocean, which I do suspect may closely resemble the Atlantic Ocean, but still. Tomorrow we get on a plane and fly east again....and believe you me, as thrilling as it was to see the country, I'm glad we don't have to drive home.

We saw the Salt Flats of Nevada with the sun coming up behind us, we saw tumbleweeds. We saw small towns, and Black Angus cattle. We drove through land so flat it looked like we would drive right off the edge of the earth. We saw windmills...miles of them. Truck stops and McDonald's and dirt roads and tractor trailers hauling farm equipment. We watched the sun set over the Nebraska sky, like the world's biggest mess of cotton candy, spreading from horizon to horizon. We drove and drove and drove, and didn't get bored. We didn't listen to audio books, or the radio. We just had good conversation, companionable silence, and lots of laughs. We found a super yuppie town in Utah, a place where rich skiers live and shop. As with every stop, we would gather the empty coffee cups and other trash, so the car wouldn't get all dumpy...and headed to a posh little coffee shop. There was no can outside that we could see, so I just carried the garbage in with us...and put it in the can in there. The whole shop was filled with people...and they just looked at us when we entered. No smiles, just staring. We did look a little frumpy and windblown, but not quite homeless. The menu board had no prices listed, and I wanted to just meander around and find a more comfortable coffee shop. But nah, we, only five something for two coffees! I'll have on snickerdoodle cookie too, for us to share, I told the girl. Okay, she said, that will be nine dollars and fifty six cents. Four. Dollars. For. A. Cookie. Now, my pride is right around the four dollar mark, so I let it go, paid, took the cookie, and waited until we got out of there to exclaim about it at the same time as Mirielle....we could make a whole batch of cookies for four dollars!

But we shared it with the yummy coffee and chalked it up to saving our faces. Mirielle's iced coffee was interesting though, the ice cubes were frozen coffee.

The apartment is still quiet, I could probably put this away and take a little nap....

Thursday, January 14, 2016


Mirielle and I went to dinner at the hotel...our first "real" meal since we started the trip....

It was a buffet...I had a few ribs, some veggies, some chicken...but then the desserts...oh dear me.

We didn't eat all that dessert, we mostly tasted.

Tomorrow morning, California!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

we're in reno!!!!

We are staying at a casino resort, it was like fifty bucks a night. The pool is incredible, we've already been in...the hot tub too. There's a Starbucks in the lobby, along with 7 restaurants and...lots of casino things, which we just aren't into.

Oh, Paul bought us a really really nice stove! It arrived at the house, and is being hooked up tomorrow. Evelyn called me as we crossed the desert today, and told me about the delivery man...he had them move the shoes from near the door, and the coats from the hooks, and then he said the "f" word. Evelyn said it's a good thing the kids weren't in the room. She said the kitchen was a mess when he came in, and he looked around...

We are watching HGTV, so bye for now...

hello from salt lake city...

We are leaving here soon, getting an early start to Reno...we are staying in a huge casino resort there, but no gambling for us. Today, we cross a desert, and I would rather have dessert, but oh well. We don't hate each other yet, and have been eating more fast food than I had planned on. We did have salads for dinner last night, after the wine in the hot tub...what?

Monday, January 11, 2016

cheyenne, wyoming...

Mirielle and I don't hate each other yet.

We drove all the way from east Iowa, through the whole state of Nebraska, to Cheyenne...

It was dark when we got here, and we did get lost once, we took a little detour down to Colorado for a bit, through a spooky little time called Julesburg...the lighting and the desolation, the whole town was tinted sepia...

We took rights and lefts down bumpy back roads under that huge prairie sky, and found our way back to the highway, with a little help from the GPS, of course.

We had burgers from a joint exclusive to Nebraska, and saw lots of black cows and corn fields.

The hot tub here at the hotel is fine, I went down by myself because Mirielle didn't want to. I got in the pool room, and there was one guy sitting there in the corner reading a huge bible, and another one in the hot tub, no one else in there. So I got into the cold pool, and reasoned with myself. I really wanted to soak in that hot water, but felt so self conscious to just go over and get in. Finally I realized that I was uncomfortable in my suit, so I took a towel, draped it over the front of me, and walked over to the hot tub. I didn't care if they thought I was cray-cray, I felt more comfortable with the towel, and since when do I care what people think anyway? Humpfph, I drove all the way out here in two days, I am not going to be scared to go in a hot tub just because of two guys.

Driving and driving...800 miles again today, not counting when we got lost, and backtracking to the hotel.

Tomorrow, Salt Lake City, Utah!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

we are in...Iowa!

You learn so many things traveling across this huge country...we are in Iowa for instance...who knew that it was, from east to west, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, then Iowa? I couldn't have gotten that right on a test, unless I had a map in front of me, I know them by their shapes, but there are no shapes here driving across the country....we drove 800 miles today. My feet hurt. Between stove shopping and working at the basketball game yesterday, I was on them too much...then driving today...

But. I will say this: it is fun! We hit snow in Ohio, that wasn't fun. We saw cars off the road and cars smashed up, and I was gripping the steering wheel so hard my hands hurt.

We crossed the Mississippi River tonight! We couldn't see much, but still.

We're tired...and we have a long long way to's 2,700 miles of a I guess that makes 1,900 to go...ugh.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

leaving for the basketball game...and for california

Evelyn and I sneaked away to the big mall in the big city, yesterday...I started the day in a hurry, getting Camille to her dr. appointment, so she could have a final x-ray and say goodbye to the crutches...

We had picked Evelyn up from school early, poor girl, she wasn't sick, just feeling like she wanted to spend some time with Mom, and was feeling rather...never mind, her story not mine. She's fine thought:), anyway. We picked up Davian, too. Kathryn and I, Jon and Char and Cam and Davian and the dr, then to the grocery store...

Then to the gas station...One dollar and sixty one cents for over 13 gallons of gas.

Home...the kids piled to the table for lunch, then Evelyn and I left them with Kathryn and headed to the triple A office for maps. The lady there assured me it was "aggressive" to drive that far in that many days in wintertime. But you'll have such fun!, she said.

We then went to that big mall to look in the Sears outlet appliance store...I don't mind a few dents...but things there were expensive...then to Best Buy...still expensive....Evelyn chose out leggings for herself and her sisters at Forever 21, and we left the mall without succumbing to any of the yummies that were making us hungry. No wonder Americans are fat though...the frozen yogurt kiosk right in the middle of the walkway! The smell of fries! The restaurants in that mall...oh yum.

We stopped at our favorite thrift store on the way home, and I got a large purse/travel bag, brand new never been used, all the little taggies still on the glasses case and wallet, for $6.99.

The dollar store was our last stop.

Home again, ahh...only to find out that at 7 p.m., no, they hadn't had dinner...and who was making dinner? Mommy! Yay, thank you Mommy, hamburgers!! Veggies!

Eight o'clock...ahh, ready to sit and put my feet up and study my maps, plan this trip...but not yet! Suze needed a ride to a friend's house!

This morning, I had to bring Mirielle to town to pick up her car...then home long enough to sweep the floors and wipe down the counters, blend up a coconut oil coffee for breakfast, and out the door with Paul to look for...a new stove. We have vastly different opinions on what we should get, by the way. I want shiny, sturdy, whistle-whistle looks. He wants...a stove. He nicely walked past the marked down white one, but is perfectly fine with the bottom of the line-open-the-oven-door-and-it-feels-like-it's-going-to-fall-off model. We both rather liked a GE model, which he may be able to get a small discount was on sale and is very attractive...but listen to the is: we stopped into Home Depot just for a look-see, and there in the entrance was a floor model marked down refrigerator, a Samsung beauty of a 'fridge...for $599. A two thousand dollar model, so shiny and new and no broken or cracked shelves, no leaking from the bottom...oh dear, I WANTED it. I even offered to not get the stove, just that new fridge. We don't need it, he said. Ours is nine years old, I said. I'm not sure it's really that old, but it looks old all of the sudden. ha. It's interesting how it gets when I WANT something. To get back into the thankful-for-what-I-have mode takes a work, but it's more comfortable here. It also helps to ward off jealousy when others have nice things, because that's just plain ugly...but oh ho it's in me!

We didn't buy one yet.

Anyway. Now, it's time to leave for the basketball game. You would think, since I am leaving early in the morning, that I'm all packed up and ready to go. HA. I am rather mostly packed...I bought a snow shovel, and it's in the car. That car is already packed to the brim with Aaron's stuff...I have to remember this computer so I can blog my across the country. I have an idea I would love to do, but I will probably wimp out, plus I don't want to advertise that Mare and I are stupid and traveling on our own across the country...I would like to interview locals, ask them about the area, how long they've lived there, what's their story...and take their picture, leaving out their name if they wish...doesn't it sound fun? Mirielle will probably kill me if I go around talking to everyone. ha. If I do it, I'll have to say my husband and the scary dogs are out in the car...

Ah well...I need to use these next few minutes to get some last minute things packed. Mittens? check. Warm boots? check. Sunglasses? check, two pair...I stopped at the dollar store specifically to get a second pair. I need to pack this Chromebook, the charger, my phone charger...and some coconut oil. And the one green pepper I bought for tomorrow in the car.

It's going to be challenging to eat healthily, but I'm going to try. I go...maybe I'll write a little bit tomorrow night, when we Illinois! Or the next night in....Cheyenne Wyoming. Oh, this is fun.

Friday, January 8, 2016

out of the woods!

The CT scan was clear. That elated me, yes it did, along with leaving me to wonder what is wrong with me. My plan now is to just see how it goes, and if it doesn't get worse, I'll be okay. I prayed ahead of time that if there was anything horrible, it would show up, and it didn't, so either there's nothing horrible, or it just isn't meant to be known, and I'm placing my bets on, "nothing horrible".

The phone call came right after the stove repairman left. He left us with bad news, but better bad stove news than bad CT scan news. It cost us $73.33 to hear that our stove was being, "condemned". Have you ever heard of an appliance being condemned? We can use the top burners, but not the oven. For all this time, it wasn't hooked up properly. The propane service checked the hook-up, so we really didn't think that was the issue. I can't even relate the whole experience with the stove man, but the short of it is it was dangerous for us to be using that stove like that. And now...we're shopping for a new one. And BTW, he "condemned" it, because that entitles us to a $50 off coupon in the appliance store he works for.

I shouldn't be sitting here at all, because Camille has to be at the orthopedic dr. in a little over than an hour, and Evelyn left her lunch on the is five miles in the opposite direction of the dr. office.

We wrote out a meal plan for next week, when I am traversing the country. Today, I have to get the food for it, plus whatever else Mare and I decided we need for our trip. I don't eat much fruit anymore, just a few berries every day in my kale/avocado smoothie, and an occasional slice of grapefruit, because of the fructose, and the elevating of blood sugar. I suggested we bring green peppers and carrots to snack on, along with the nuts we already have. Mare says apples and those little Halo oranges. Okay, won't kill me...and I am bringing a few green peppers, too. I also threw in an emergency bag of peanut M&M's, although in an extreme emergency, there is dog food in the back of Aaron's car, which we are driving.

So many details to work out! We are flying home, so we can't just bring snow boots and coats and mittens, unless we want to wear it all back. It is recommended to bring a shovel, driving in winter weather through the mountains (Donner Pass), and of course Mirielle thinks if we have a shovel we won't need it, and if we don't bring one, we will regret it. It means leaving the shovel with Aaron, who lives in an apartment in the city, and will need a shovel like he needs a hole in the head.'s not boring. I really really have to leave now....

Thursday, January 7, 2016

choose joy....

This 70 pound Lab thinks she is a lap dog. She comes to me and begs to come up. She just looks at me with intensity...her water bowl is full, she has already eaten, and been outside. She just puts her head on my lap and begs with her eyes. Then when I say, "you want to come up here?", she jumps right up and makes herself at home. Last night, right after she had settled in, Kitty came purring around, so I called him up too. The two dogs and two cats in our house get along well.

Anyway. As I wait once again for a phone call about a test, I wonder a few things...first of all, why am I planning a trip across the country, ha? Life is short, I told Mirielle. We may as well, it will be fun. And it is exciting. The persistent burning pain in my side makes me think dismal thoughts sometimes, I must admit. But I distinctly remember a day many years ago....

I was making dinner, and having my daily phone conversation with my mother. My mother was a cancer survivor (breast cancer/lymph nodes involved, double masectomy), heart attack survivor, triple bypass survivor, who ended up with renal failure, resulting in nine years of dialysis, three times a week. Nine years. She would get so wiped out, she would come home and think she couldn't do it any more. For the last few years of her life, she went quite a few times by ambulance to the hospital from her chair at the dialysis center, because her heart simply couldn't take the stress any more. So this one day we were talking on the phone, and she was weak and tired, and she said she was afraid. I, being young and relatively healthy, knew all the answers. Afraid! What's the worst thing that could happen, Mom? You could die. Yes, and that's what we're ALL going to do. In the end, she wasn't afraid at all. She was the most cheerful person you could ever imagine, after she checked into the hospice/palliative care room at the hospital. No more dialysis! She was going home! She sat there on the first day, on the side of the bed, swinging her legs and greeting her visitors with, "Oh, I have been DYING to see you!", putting them at ease with the awkwardness of visiting someone who is actually going to die within probably a week. She checked in on Saturday and was gone by the next Friday. And her joy didn't diminish, even when she was sleepy. The night before she passed, as we stood around her bed patting her arms and holding her hands and telling her how much we loved her, she tried to get up out of bed, to go to Jesus now, she said. Oh no, we told her, she didn't have to get up at all! He would be there soon to scoop her up and away, she just had to wait a little bit. That made her very happy. She went to sleep that night, and indeed Jesus came, and took her away.

I am comforted by the experience of her passing. I know there's nothing to be afraid of, even if faced with what we human beings term "the worst".

And also, I know that each day has enough cares of it's own, so I have no business worrying about things like that.

Worrying is a huge thief, stealing joy and peace. I think there's a term for someone who thinks of death in each ache and pain, perhaps "fatalist". That's me.

Today, Davian is coming over. We haven't had him here for a while, so yay! I am planning to go over our trip route on the map with him, he's heard we are going and is excited about it.

I am reading the Laura Ingalls Wilder book, "The Long Winter" to the kids. Oh there's nothing cozier than snuggling together on a freezing cold day, with cups of hot tea...

Ah well. If I get a call from the dr. office about yesterday's CT scan, I'll write about it...hopefully it's nothing:)

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

a very sunny day....

Once upon a time, there was a sunny day. The day started out well below freezing, and when the mama left in the morning for her CT scan, her hands froze on the steering wheel. The dashboard gauge read: 9 degrees (-12C). She had cleared the frost in a nice circle on the driver's side of the windshield, and set out for the small city.

After initialing page after page of documents, it was time to wait in the waiting room for the scan. The television was blaring with a kids' detective show while the middle aged couple across from her held hands and wiped tears from their eyes. This mama tried really hard not to be nosey, but she did wonder...then the lady was called in for a test, and the guy pulled out an old fashioned flip phone, and punched out a text while wiping his eyes.

The scan itself was no big deal, after getting over the shock of the immensity of that scary machine. "Just lie down on this flimsy narrow table, please, do as we say and you'll be alright." Not really, but that's what this mama heard.

Shh, but the test was over quickly, so the mama sneaked right over to the grocery store, living it up that she was all by her lonesome. She used the bathroom there, all by herself, then bought a coffee to drink while cruising the aisles. She considered and chose and browsed, with no apologies about how long it was taking. She bought a Darth Vader Jell-o mold, complete with four packages of Jell-o, for only $2.49! And a two-pack of Glade Christmas candles, although she noted that they were labeled, "Holiday Edition" candles. The shelf tag said 75 cents, clearance, but when she got out to her van, she realized she had paid $5.79 for them. Four other items also rang up wrong, so back into the store she went. She had overpaid by $15. It took almost 20 minutes to get it all straightened out, with the lady at the service desk making phone calls to various people from different departments, stating each time, "The customer says the price is..." if the customer was making wild and crazy claims. This mama felt humiliated, her integrity questioned, as if it was HER fault things were not programmed properly when the shelf tags were changed. To top it off, as she turned to leave, the lady at the desk handed her a dollar from the drawer. For her trouble. Hmpfffph. She took the dollar, said her thanks, and mumbled all the way out the door that her time must be worth only four dollars an hour.

Then, shh, she went to the thrift store. Oh, the joy of inspecting so many racks of clothes without having to give thumbs up or vetoing armloads of items chosen by teenagers! She found some school workbooks for 40 cents, a nice sweatshirt for Jon for $1.49, and a vintage doll...1966 Baby the original dress! For three dollars.

Home...ah, she was glad to be home. She had fasted for the scan, eaten a "healthy" bar in the van...mmm hungry. She did some laundry, (Char was excited for her "new" Addidas shirt, so Mama had to wash it for her!)...anyway, Mama put a pork roast in the crock pot with lime sprinkled on it, and spices.....for pulled pork dinner. She washed a sinkful of dishes, and sat with Miss Camille, to go over her homework.

One of her favorite daughters came for a visit, Miss Mirielle...her travel companion for the upcoming cross-country trip...she showed Mirielle her supply of bars, and drinks, and snacks for the trip...all healthy, except for one bag of miniature Reese's Peanut Butter cups, just in case they got stranded, or really hungry for Reese's.

They asked each other the very same question, "Why are we doing this?" , yet they are both excited about the whole adventure!

This Mama is very distracted now, and can't concentrate relating her wonderfully sunny day. Her school kids are home...all eight of the "kids" who still live at home are milling around...some are singing, "Wanted...Dead Or Alive" to the top of their lungs, one is eating a pot pie, and one is pretending to push her sister down the stairs. This mama is done with writing...and shh, she is waiting waiting waiting for a phone call from the doctor, saying the scan is clear, and her pain is just...well, that's the tricky has to be SOMETHING. Ah well....

Monday, January 4, 2016

seven degrees out...

That's minus 13.8 Celsius. The dogs didn't stay out for very long this morning, ha. The space heater is humming, and I am glad for my new slippers. I have socks on too, and my feet are still not warm and toasty. My coffee cup is full of piping hot pumpkin spice coffee, I'm wearing velour sweat pants, and my warmest wool sweater, from the thrift store, of course. We haven't started school yet because I let the girls have their cousin overnight, and they are way too busy playing already. I figure they aren't parked in front of the t.v., so we're okay.

Mirielle and I are really going to do it, we're driving across the whole U. S. of A.! She thinks we can do it in three days...we are leaving directly after she works a 12 hour night shift at the hospital, so she will be sleeping in the car while I navigate and drive...15 hours. I think that's too aggressive for the first day...if I drink enough coffee to drive that long so she can sleep, I'll have to stop every four hours to go to the bathroom. On paper, it's doable...15 hours to Des Moines Iowa, then 15 to Salt Lake City, then 8 to Reno, then on day four, the last few hours to San Francisco. But leaving at 8 a.m. + 15 hours plus a few stops, that puts you at at least 2 a.m. the first day. If the next day was ALSO 15 hours...leaving at 7 a.m., driving until 11 or midnight with stops...ugh. I don't know. I think we should pace ourselves more...but we'll see.

We're leaving next Sunday. I would take a third driver but his car is filled with good stuff that he needs:)

Ah well. Things to do, kids to parent:)

Sunday, January 3, 2016

bye! off I go!!! California, here I come!

January, California.

February, Florida.

March, Norway.

It's not as exciting as it sounds, we are DRIVING all the way to California! 2,700 miles. Mirielle and I are driving Aaron's car for him, then flying home. I'm not sure when we're leaving yet. It's a lot of driving, and I admit I freaked a little when I realized we are going through the Donner Pass...but the car is a nice Subaru with four wheel drive, and we are New York drivers, so we'll be okay:)

February plans to Florida are not yet final.

March plans to Norway are in place, airline tickets purchased.

Winter has arrived with cold and snow. The high tomorrow: 15 (-9c). Tuesday we work the basketball game at the Dome. Wednesday I have my CT scan to see if we can figure out this pain, which has gotten a bit better. Friday, Camille gets another x-ray to see how her ankle is healing.

The princesses are having a sleepover tonight with cousin Danielle in Sam's old room. They set it all up cozy in there...

Emily was here today. Mali was here with baby Lydia. Aaron stopped to say goodbye, he's now on the road to California. He gave us his nice vacuum cleaner and some camping supplies. I don't like that he's moving so far away, but I do like the vacuum cleaner. As soon as he left, I plugged it in and tried it out.

Mirielle and I will be doing a long grueling drive, but then we will get to see where Aaron lives, and hopefully spend at least one day at the beach, or at least in the sunshine, before flying home.

Life isn't boring, that's for sure.

Friday, January 1, 2016

my boys are all leaving me...

Being a mom to grown up sons is such an honor. That's the best way I can say it. I have four grown sons. Benjamin, Joseph who still lives home, Aaron who is leaving in a few days for California, and Army Sam. When I am with Ben,(which isn't often because he lives on the other side of the country) it's like we see each other every day, and it's just so GOOD to be with him. Joe doesn't mince words. He can be direct with me, but he is also so tender-hearted. The times when I've been sad or having a rough time, Joseph would sense it and ask me if I was okay. One time I was upset about something, and I asked him if he was sad too...he said, "No, but I'm sad that you're sad." He is extremely respectful. The kids say he's my favorite, but my favorite is always the kid I am with at the moment. Then there's Aaron. Aaron, my go-getter, leaving for better weather, better pay...Aaron is funny and witty and smart and always good to me. And Sam...I realize that I still see him as like a 10 year old kid. He texted and said he made it back to base safe and sound this morning. He's a big boy.:) I sent him on his way with a big baggie of chocolate chip cookies.

It's snowing here in central New York state. Big fluffy flakes. There's a turkey in the oven. Baby Lydia spent the night, and is sleeping now in her little bed in the living room. The windows are fogged up, and it's cozy in here. I am planning on taking a walk later, I was chilly yesterday afternoon and Paul said if I went for a walk in the cold, I would be toasty when I got back in the worked.

A renewed commitment to getting in better shape...along with the rest of the country, I am going to be fit and healthy in 2016. Not because it's a new year, necessarily, but because of Christmas eating. I was pretty good, but added too much chocolate. Yesterday a few mini Reese's peanut butter Christmas trees, and a mini York peppermint patty. Once I taste these yummy things, they torment. I need to get back into my No Candy/No Sugar mindset. It's easier that way, to just say to myself, "I don't eat that stuff."

Anyway...lots of kids are up and around, and I am done typing for now...