summer 2011

summer 2011

Paul and I, all 16 kids and Ashley, Benjamin's wife...Christmas 2012

Paul and I, all 16 kids and Ashley, Benjamin's wife...Christmas 2012

Thursday, March 31, 2016

lumps, bumps, and trials.....

Is it just a cyst? A harmless little bump? Or is it....the dreaded "C-word"? At this point I am honestly not very worried. I have gotten all out of sorts about things in the past, like the terrible pain in my lower side, which totally disappeared, making me wonder if prayers were answered or if I had a rare and fleeting disorder never before diagnosed.

So it's just a little lump. A hard little pea sized lump, in my left breast. I wanted to do my usual Ignore-It-And-Maybe-It-Will-Go-Away thingy, but after reading lots of scary stuff online, I decided to call the dr. A mammogram is set up for Monday morning. Hopefully it will be nothing...but you know, my mother had breast cancer which spread to her lymph nodes, resulting in the lovely radical double mastectomy. And she survived several more years. Her mother died of cancer at the age 35, and my father's mother died of cancer in her fifties. My own father died of a stroke but had leukemia too.

Anyhow. This is what I'm dealing with today, and I just thought I'd share. Life is interesting. 80% of lumps are non-cancerous.

Tonight, I have to call in to see if I have to report for Jury Duty tomorrow morning. I already did my 6 month deferral, which is allowed once in a lifetime in our county. I was supposed to report last September when we would be in Seattle with the kids, and um, we saved for months for those plane tickets. Anyway, I have to possibly report tomorrow. I called and pleaded my case with like five people before being connected with the commissioner of jurors. I told her I homeschool my kids, and asked what I am supposed to do with them. She said, "Do what you usually do with them when you do something else." So I am tempted to just bring them all to the courtroom with me, and say, "This is what I usually do with them." The thing is, I also watch little Annika, and Davian...I hope this is viewed as a good enough excuse to be excused, although I would actually like to sit on a jury. I hope I don't have to blurt out that I have a mammogram scheduled for Monday.

Yesterday we had our sunshine, but it just wasn't warm enough, although it hit 60. The wind was chilly. The kids loved being outside and running around. Today, it's raining...and this weekend...we are getting more snow. Spring snow for central New York. Paul is leaving for France on Saturday, for two weeks. I thought I was done with driving him to the airport in the snow for the year.

"Don't put the cart before the horse", my mother used to say. I was in tenth grade when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She tried to hide it from me at first, when I confronted her, she said she had a lump on her WRIST, ha. My dad tended towards being miserable and grumpy a lot, and when he missed work and drove my mom to chemo appointments, he wasn't always the pleasantest. He was responsible and caring in his own way, and would always do what he had to do, but he simply wasn't always kind about it. He would feel bad later, and give someone twenty bucks, he didn't WANT to be that way. My mother used to keep track of his moods, she swore he was what used to be called manic depressive, or bipolar. He refused to believe it, and never got help for it. Anyway, sometimes I would skip school and go with my mom, on the bus from our house in the suburbs, to the big city, to her chemo appointments. The first time I went, I went in the room with her while she had the i.v. hooked up...the blood snaked up the clear tube before the medicine found it's way down, and the whole room swayed...down I went, thankfully into a chair.

Anyway, my mom used to make everything as fun as possible, in case you wonder where I came from. Those trips to the city were actually good times, but of course my mother was suffering and not letting me know it. She had cancer before there was Zofran for nausea. The chemo was harsher back in 1982. But she never ever complained. Her beautiful red curly hair fell out, and she wore a wig bought from the wig counter at Kmart. Do you believe that such a thing actually existed, a wig counter at Kmart? When we went there for her to try them on, we laughed so hard we were falling on the floor.

Her own mother had died when my mom was only 14 years old, and she seriously thought this cancer was the end for her. I just remembered how she loved us so much. She was so unselfish, as if she just wanted to use her time to be good. It wasn't the end for her, she lived to be 69.

Anyway anyway.

None of us knows how many days we have here on earth, so it's a perfect opportunity to place our lives into God's keeping, and let go of worries. To trust in the Lord with all of your heart sounds like a good plan, but it requires saying a firm NO to those thoughts of anxiety, and to pondering all of the What-Ifs.

Well, I just got a call from the IRS! (Internal Revenue Service). Apparently we owe lots of money are in danger of a lawsuit, if we don't call them back immediately with our tax information. Now, I'm no Einstein, but I wasn't born yesterday, either. Scammers...calling and's sick. So many older people, and foreigners, fall for it, and actually pay them. My sister was on the line with an Indian guy who threatened her with jail time if she didn't pay her back taxes immediately...she talked to him for quite a while, played along, before asking him if he thought she was that stupid.

My sister has some health issues too, some serious chronic kidney infections...she has some big tests coming up to determine what will be done. We're praying for each other, her and I.

While I sit here and write, and put things out there for the whole world to see, I I share too much? I am not looking for pity, or for attention. I just like keeping it real, as much as possible. Life isn't easy. And when I'm going through different trials, I feel fake sitting here writing about rainbows and puppydogs, when really, I'm struggling with something.

Here's another thing: Duke is reaching the end of his rainbow. I am getting to the point where I wonder if he's ready to go to doggy heaven and chase the bunny rabbits. He keeps peeing in the house. He pees in the hall, when we came back from Florida we were greeted with piles of pee on our bedroom he lifted his leg and peed on clothes I had hanging, you know, draped nicely, ha. I had to do so much laundry. Then he peed in the little girls' room the other night, and in the downstairs hallway. Now I'm hearing that he pooped in the downstairs hallway last night. He goes out plenty of times during the day...and going up and down the deck steps is getting more challenging for him. What point does a dog have to reach before we put him out of his misery? I am making myself cry. I love the Duke-ster. He's the kindest, most gentle soul. He follows me around the house and breaks my heart. I go from one room to another, and he so painstakingly gets up and relocates. He has lumps and bumps of his own, but no more surgeries for Duke. I just don't know....

And now the kids are up, the little girls want to go shopping with cousin Danielle...Grandma gave them $20 each to buy something when we went to Disney, but they saved it and want to go somewhere. Hmm. Maybe we will.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

busy from the word GO....

The small children who visit me during the day are delightful. They share nicely, and never ever grab things and say things like, "MINE!". No, they really are sweet, and I know it's normal to have those little tug-of-wars over things, and it's good for them both to learn to get along. They like to play with playdough, and duplo blocks, dollhouse stuff, coloring, and playing with the toy food and dishes and dolls. They really like going outside, too, which is what I plan to do with them today, as it is going to be 60 degrees out. Yesterday, baby Lydia was here too, baby Lydia had just had a boatload of immunizations, so she was borderline fussy. But Auntie Evelyn got off the school bus and took over, had her asleep in her arms in no time.

Davian, Annika, and Camille...Jonathan had hidden chocolate bunnies and plastic eggs with candy, for them to find.

Lydia with Annika...

She likes the baby kitties...yes, we have four new kittens...

Davian knows to be gentle with the kittens...

Yesterday was Kim's birthday, she didn't have any little grandchildren to babysit, so she went out and about with her youngest four, and stopped in for coffee and a visit.

Mirielle stopped in to pick up Suzanne for a chorus practice, and because she knew Lydia was there and wanted to sneak in some baby hugs.

I miss Grandma. We had a good time just talking. And of course the nice warm weather...I miss that too. It was also rather nice not making dinner all week, or sweeping and mopping and housework...

Anyway, when all the older kids left for a meeting last evening, and my little friends had gone back to their own homes, I was left with just Char and Cam and cousin Danielle, and baby Lydia...(and Paul). The girls had this recipe they HAD to try, to make homemade lip gloss...coconut oil and a half a crayon, melted over a double boiler...we have lots of plastic Easter eggs to put it in, and they really wanted to make it. Well, I said, I want to help you, but Lydia here is a bit fussy, and wants Grandma to carry her Paul made it with them.

After they went to bed, I rocked my little granddaughter to sleep, and sat here with her, enjoying every minute.

Her daddy picked her up at almost 11, so it was indeed a full busy day.

This fine morning, I went on my walk, with Suri. My new mantra is like Nike says, "Just Do It". I don't have to wait until I feel like it, or I would never go. My other new mantra is, "Just Don't Eat It". But, the chocolate bunny longing is gone now, since I finally had a little taste of one that the girls were was nothing like I just wasn't that yum. Reeses' Eggs, Hershey's chocolate candy coated eggs, Hershey Kisses, now THOSE are good! And I already know that, so I don't have to eat one just to make sure. Thus the saying, Just Don't Eat It.

Life is too short. A family we know from way back,lost one of their grown daughters on Easter Sunday. They have already suffered the loss of a son, in his early twenties, a few years ago in a car accident. I didn't know Maria well, but was friends with her on Facebook, and my older kids knew her. I am so sad for her family right now. Knowing she's with her baby brother is comforting, but still...her poor parents, and siblings.

My little sweetie Annika is going to be here soon. She just loves Jonathan, and I usually wake him up before she gets there, but he didn't get home until like 2 a.m., he went to New York city with a friend to pick up a friend from the airport, yesterday. And the little girls have their cousin over, so they stayed up late...Annika is going to want to wake them up:)

Monday, March 28, 2016

monday morning, back in the real world....

Happy Monday Morning, everyone! I had the best sleep last night! Our trip home from Florida took 25 hours, and you know me, I don't sleep in cars...well, this trip, I tried. At one point, around 3 a.m., neither of us felt like we could drive anymore, so we stopped at a rest stop somewhere in Virginia, and tried to sleep. My eyes wanted to, but sitting up in a van seat? With six other people trying to get comfortable? The kids were pretty much zonked...

Anyway. We made it home, by one o'clock in the afternoon, of course we stopped at the grocery store in town on the way, because of Easter dinner! The ham was already in the refrigerator, but we needed applesauce, asparagus, and rolls. I made roasted red-skinned potatoes, and roasted sweet potatoes.

Mali came over with baby Lydia...

And Emily joined us after dinner.

I kept my hands off the Easter candy...I had only one little piece of chocolate, let it dissolve in my mouth while I pondered the age old question, "Why is chocolate so wonderfully good?" Camille got a white chocolate lamb, and she opened up and took a bite...she offered some to me, but I just smelled it, it smelled like childhood...I think I had one of those when I was little. I imagined opening a chocolate bunny and biting the ears off...oh yum. But I didn't go crazy on the Easter candy.

As a matter of fact, I came home from vacation weighing less than I did when I left.

Anyway. Life goes on after vacation. We are left with sunkissed skin, and good memories of sunshine, and warmth. Spending time with Grandma was so nice...

Today, my little two year old friend Annika is here, all dressed in her princess dress...Davian is here too, little sweetheart. Davian wants to do an Easter egg hunt...hmmm. Good idea.

Friday, March 25, 2016

rain and storms and saying goodbye....

Last night, we had thunderstorms, and 18 homes were damaged/destroyed between this town and the next one over, due to high winds. (no one was hurt) Thunder boomed through the night, and today we will get more storms...rain. But we had day after day of glorious sunshine, so we can't complain.

Tomorrow morning, we head back to New York...over 20 hours of driving. But I'm not going to think about that yet. We still have today, to spend with Grandma. Syracuse University's basketball team made it to the Sweet 16, and tonight they play...we will stay up late and watch it with Grandma...

Then tomorrow morning, we say goodbye. I have gotten used to the warmth, the green, the palm trees. The nice thing is that it's spring in New York. We may not have 80 degrees yet, but the warmth is just around the corner.

I brought the little girls breakfast in bed this morning. They ate cereal and had orange juice and waffles, lying in bed watching cartoons. Pretty soon we will head over to Grandma's place. I'm not sure what we will do today, maybe fit in a little swim or a dip in the hot tub, between downpours of rain.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

fun, sun...

With Camille...

We've been staying up later, sleeping in later, especially the princesses. This morning, they ate breakfast in bed while watching cartoons. They are thoroughly enjoying vacation. We headed over to Grandma's place, and sat and visited while Paul did some work online, as in Real Job Work. the beach. Of course it's never that easy. One would think that when in Florida, it's easy to just go to the beach. Well. The parking lot was full when we finally got there, so we went to a different beach...lots of driving....and finally, we found another beach. I mean, if a town has the word "Beach" in it, and one assumes they really have a long sandy beach, yet they only have houses and communities on the coast, well, what is THAT?!

The beach we found was wasn't the vast sandy wavy beach we had imagined. So I decided to play the Glad Game. You know, Pollyanna, when she wanted a doll from the missionary barrel, and got a pair of crutches she decided to be glad she didn't NEED the crutches. The beach was very pleasant. The sand was white and warm, the sun shone through the clouds, the breeze was lovely in the palm trees. Never mind that the swimming area was tiny and rocky and there were loud bratty kids...and believe me, I wasn't just being judgmental, these pre-teens had potty mouths, and I don't just mean mild swears. They were spouting inuendoes and dropping the F-bomb liberally. Anyway. The sand was nice, the water was refreshing, and we had a a cooler full of healthy snacks, and some cold drinks. Char did gymnastics, Cam and Jon dug holes, Suze and Sonja enjoyed sunbathing, and we visited with Grandma. I went in the water a few times, and it was cool and refreshing.

And honestly, when you think about it, how in the world could one possibly be unthankful to be at a beach in Florida in March, when back in New York it's cold out?!

It just goes to show how we can be, by nature.

Driving around for hours with five kids can be challenging, but they were pretty good too. If I were driving, I would have stopped for ice cream again, even though we got it yesterday. But that's just me.

We ordered subs for dinner, which was hilarious, just deciding where to order food from, then who wanted what, then actually getting them ordered....but what a treat, not making dinner....and yum, they were so good. Thank you to Grandma, who is taking such good care of us all.

We're back at the hotel again tonight, the little girls are watching Disney something or other, and Paul is taking a shower. It's so nice to be on vacation. It goes by too fast, in a way, but in another way, I start to miss my kids at home. And those stupid dogs, I miss them fiercely. When I think about Suri wagging her entire being, when we get home, she will be simply beside herself with happiness, oh I miss her. And Duke too, he'll be so dignified-ly happy to see us...

One thing about being on vacation together is that Paul gets to interact with the kids, day after day, and it's fun. Usually he sees them in fits and starts, as my mother used to say. A few hours here, a few hours's been nice.

And another thing is this: Paul is a nice guy. He's not patient by nature, but oh my goodness, he works on it. He's good. He's responsible, yet he teases, and we banter, and at the end of the day, we are never mad at each other, and I am so very thankful for that. I love having him around, and spending so much time together. That alone makes vacation an excellent time.


the beach...can life get any better?

The sun, the warmth...ah.

This morning, Paul served the little girls breakfast in bed. Bowls of apple cinnamon oatmeal and muffins, from the breakfast buffet here. I have been sitting here sipping my coffee, enjoying the fact that I don't have to sweep any floors this morning.

The girls at home are going to fill the Easter baskets for me, and are taking care of the puppies, and sweeping the floors. They are going to the store today for supplies. Kathryn turned 18 yesterday, without her mama to make her a cake, but Mali took her out shopping and to lunch. These lucky kids of mine, with their siblings to do nice things for them.

I miss Emily, Abigail (Norway), Benjamin (Wa.state), Mirielle, Joseph, Aaron (California), Mali, Samuel (Army), Margaret (Norway), Kathryn, and Evelyn....

And now, we will get on with our day...enjoying our time with Grandma.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

sunshine and roses....

Paul and I after walking around Disney all day...six miles!

We saw Chewbacca!!! The kids are huge Star Wars fans, so it was all fun and interesting for them.

Here's the story down here in Florida....Suzanne, Sonja, and Jonathan are staying with Grandma. Paul and I are staying in a hotel in town with the two little girls. So the other night, we left Grandma's, dropped Paul and Char off at the hotel, and Camille and I went shopping to fill the cooler with good things to eat, for our day at Disney.

Publix was closed at nine o'clock, so we headed to the Walmart superstore. Oh, we had fun. I let her pick out some junk, like Cheetos and Swiss Rolls, but then we got cucumbers and green peppers, celery and baby carrots, and a bag of mixed veggies with broccoli and snap peas. We got baby oranges, strawberries, nuts, and the makings for turkey and pepperoni wraps, and some of those little drink pouches.

At the hotel, which has a refrigerator and a microwave, I spread a towel on the bed, and began meal prep...I sliced everything up, made the wraps, and put it all in baggies (I bought a box of them). The cooler has a shoulder strap, and is a pain to carry around, but when we waited in lines, we just set it down and nudged it with our feet. It was nice to have so many good snacks all day. I carried a huge purse with a waterbottle in it, which I kept refilling at the fountains, so we kept hydrated. Paul bought the kids ice cream bars (Suze had a lemonade bar with strawberries in it, and didn't want to finish it, so obviously I had to eat it.)

The lines were long, but we used our fast passes, and got to do most of what we set out to do. It was an absolutely perfect day, 77 and sunny, cool enough in the shade, and warm without being too hot, in the sun. We simply had fun together, as we navigated our way through the crowds and did what they wanted to do. (I enjoyed the Raiders Of The Lost Ark Stunt Show...) was fun...and here's the truthful part: by the time we headed to the trams that take you to your car in the massive parking lots, my knees were no longer whimpering, they were really starting to cry. A good hot shower and a night's rest was welcome, and hopefully I won't be hobbling too much today....because, we're going to the beach!!!!

It's going to be 80 and sunny! We're heading to the Gulf coast for a day at the beach, bringing Grandma with us.

This whole thing is amazing, restful, relaxing...I love the vacation form of my husband, when he can relax mentally, and just enjoy life. In real life, we don't get much time together, so this has been really nice.

And of course it's been so nice having time with Grandma...she has made us nice dinners, and the strawberries are ripe here, so she has kept us well supplied...she bought Pop Tarts for the kids, and yummy cereals, and has brownies and ice cream at her place for them...they are getting spoiled. She lives in a community with a heated pool and a hot tub...:)

And then there are the kids back at home...Evelyn has been cooking, she is home with Kathryn and Joseph. They made salads, she grilled chicken (outside in the New York cold!), and Kathryn made low carb crackers. She's also working on making a slab of ribs....she marinated them, then cooked them a while, and is going to finish cooking them this afternoon after school.

I miss them, but they don't mind us being gone, not too much. I am enjoying myself too much, here at the hotel...the kids are still sleeping, and here I sit with my computer....

Sunday, March 20, 2016


We are actually on the southern coast of Georgia, arrived yesterday after an 18 hour drive through the night...

Today we head four hours to Grandma's place in Florida...

The rest of the family (Paul, Suzanne, Sonja, Jonathan, Charlotte Claire, and Camille) just woke up, and we are heading down to breakfast...why do hotels have breakfast from 6 to 9 a.m., duh, we are on vacation, ha, first world probs. Bye for now!

Friday, March 18, 2016

happy friday....!

This week has been a strange one, a week of being between vacations. I came home last Friday, and am leaving again today. We are heading to Georgia for one night, then on to Florida to spend the week with Grandma, Paul's mom. A few of the kids will stay with her, Paul and I will stay in town in a hotel with the younger two or three. (Just the five youngest are going with us).

The bags are mostly packed. The kids have tablets and a dvd player, and movies, times have we even need to bring markers and crayons? The van seats swivel around to face backwards, and there is a little table that can be put in, Jon wants to play cards...since the day we looked at that van to buy it, he has been planning the trip to Florida, and how they can play cards. Yesterday I sent them out to clean the van for the trip, not that it was messy, they have been pretty good about keeping it nice. But I figured if they cleaned it themselves, they would be more likely to keep it that Jon hooked up the extension cord and carried out the vacuum cleaner, while Char had the paper towels and the window spray, Cam with the garbage bag. They cleaned and dusted and shined it, and are very proud of themselves.

Anyway. Sonja needed a new bathing suit. And I get it, I really do. She'll be fourteen in May, and her last year's suit doesn't fit right, and none of her sisters are her same size, ect. I remember the awkward feeling of that age. So when she got home from school yesterday, we went on a little adventure...we dropped off overdue library books, then went to the bank, then to Target. She found something she liked, not on sale, but I didn't want her to feel bad, so I just encouraged her to pick one out. She's such a good girl, she chose just a top because she has bottoms at home to match. I also got Jon some new swim trunks because that boy is growing like a weed, he's almost as tall as his mama.

We stopped to fill up the gas tank using the grocery store gas points and saved ten bucks, always nice, then the grocery store really quickly to get some things for the ride (those little oranges, some grapes, sandwich stuff, a few drinks).

Then home...ah home.

Suzanne has been stressing about missing another week of school. She's in 9th grade. She homeschooled last year for one year, and went back to public school. Her grades are excellent, all high nineties. But missing the entire week to go to Norway made it hard to catch up, and now she's leaving again. We let her choose if she wanted to stay home, because if she feels pressure, it has to be her decision. She's at school now, there's a half day. I'm 99% sure she's choosing Florida:)

Just an FYI, we can't always take vacations when there's school vacation, because of Paul's travel/work schedule. When we get back, he'll be leaving soon after for two weeks in France....

Anyway. The little details of life.

This is how Jonathan spent the entire day yesterday: Watching the kitty have her kittens. He had cleaned out his closet, and put down a towel, and for the last few weeks, he would put her in there and give her some food. So yesterday morning, she went in there meowing, and purring, and settled down in the closet. She had four kittens during the course of the day, and Jon kept a close eye on it all. (He has been reading up on it all the last few weeks). He was very concerned that the first born kitten couldn't find a nipple to latch on to, but I assured him it wouldn't starve. I sat with Jon a few different times, it is pretty awesome. Then when I was busy doing other things, he would text me to let me know what was going on. He is not thrilled to be leaving them, although he is of course thrilled about the trip.

Joseph will be here to take care of them, but it is hard to leave them:)

Ah well....time to get moving...I don't know if I'll be blogging on vacation, but I hope so...:)

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

back to normal....

The daily walk. The weather has been overcast, drizzly, rainy, and cozy. Perfect for coming home from a big trip and settling back into homeschooling. (Kathryn took over for me last week:))

So...when I was gone, there was drama. Here's what happened. Jonathan had had an infected toe, an ingrown toenail. I will spare you the details, but yuck. Emily, who is a critical care nurse in a big hospital, had looked at it, and was advising him on how to take care of it, soaking, topical antibiotic, ect. She looked at the toe again right before we left for our trip, and it hadn't gotten any better. Time for a trip to the doctor. Paul had to make the appointment and take him in. The doctor prescribed an oral antibiotic. Emily told me, as we drove to New York City, how many patients she had over the years who had gone septic, and many who had died, from seemingly harmless infections. It gets into the bloodstream, and boom, story over. So when we were happily over in Norway and found out that Jonathan had a fever of 104, and hadn't gotten his prescription yet, we were more than concerned. He started on the medicine, and still had a high fever 24 hours later, so Emily advised Paul to take Jon to the hospital. She worried that Jon was going septic, and believe me, Em is not like me. She is calm. She doesn't panic. But she has seen things, and she knew this could be serious. Anyway. Paul took him to the hospital, they started I.V. antibiotics, and did a flu swab. He had the flu. The high fever could have been a combination of the toe, and the flu, but in any case, they gave him fluids for a while, and sent him home with another antibiotic. He was feeling better in a few days.

Being far far away when your child is sick is torture. The fact that he was in good hands (Jon has two other nurse/sisters, Mirielle and Mali, who also checked on him), is irrelevant to a mom. Mom needs to comfort when child is suffering. It's not that I didn't believe with all my heart that God knew what He was doing.

Fast forward to today. Camille came down with the flu over the weekend. She is much better now, it didn't last long, her fever didn't get so high. Yesterday morning, I was greeted by Charlotte Claire telling me she had gotten sick during the night. Over the railing of that top bunk, down to the carpet. I was so thankful they had just cleaned their room.

She has had a slight fever, but isn't feeling too terribly. She is doing her school work right now, and drinking green tea with honey.

The thing is, we are leaving the day after tomorrow, for Florida! I'm thinking that if Suzanne or Sonja get sick, they can just hang out in the hotel until they get better, so as to not pass it on to Grandma. Maybe they won't get it. Hopefully Paul nor I will get it. Time will tell, and in the meantime, we are packing to go to warm weather and sunshine.

Our trip will start Friday, we will drive 15+ hours to Georgia, then visit the Atlantic Ocean from there, spending one night. Sunday morning will bring us to our destination in Florida, where we will stay until the next Saturday. We have plans to visit the gulf coast, ahh, the beach....the weather forecast is glorious, I mean, 85 degrees and sunny, yes please. We are also going to Disney!!! Disney Hollywood Studios, because the kids are so obsessed with StarWars. I firmly believe that the pre-trip excitement is half the fun, so last evening we watched videos of the rides there (Tower of Terror, can't wait!).

The part I am NOT looking forward to is the car ride. I don't mind being a passenger, but I don't care to drive on busy highways. It's a long trip, so I will take my turn.

Here are other random things that have been going on:

Miss Lydia visited yesterday!

We love her.

Kitty is going to have kittens any day now. Jonathan has been researching the whole process, and can't wait for the big event.

The princesses are getting too big too fast.

4. Mirielle is taking Kathryn and Evelyn to Washington D.C. this weekend. (only the five youngest are going to Florida with Paul and I). She reserved a hotel, and were all set to visit Samuel. But...he won't be there! He will be in Pennsylvania shooting a movie! He has a part in a documentary about World War I, which he is SO up his alley. They are going to D.C. anyway, to enjoy the weather and just be tourists.

5. Benjamin and Ashley bought a house out in Washington state. Honestly, my first reaction: NO! Too far away! But, it's their life, their decision, and they are happy and doing well, plus he is in a five year apprenticeship for HVAC, and has to stay at least through that. I miss them terribly. Ben has grown into such a fine young man, despite his rocky teenage years.

Jonathan is reading the 7th Harry Potter book, and the girls have moved on from their school work to their tablets, so this mama has to get back on track....

Monday, March 14, 2016

about London....

Sonja K. near Big Ben...

Suzanne, Emily, Sonja, and I...we had said goodbye to their sisters in Norway, and spend some hours exploring London...

We walked. And we walked. 8.98 miles, we walked.

And we sat and rested. Em had a handy dandy guide book with a good map in it. I wanted to make sure she knew where we were going, so we didn't backtrack or go in circles. After walking over five miles around Oslo just the day before, my knees were protesting as the rest of me rejoiced in seeing so many splendid sights.

Sonja and Emily...

This is the tea shop where we bought a cute little canister of tea for Kathryn.

We went to the palace and the Queen didn't so much as look out the window to say hello. The guards with their funny hats are hard to take seriously.

With Suzanne on the train...

And, that's all I can say for now, life keeps happening, and Evelyn is sick at school, so off I go to brush my tangly hair and go pick her up...Camille has the flu, so I'm not surprised...

Friday, March 11, 2016

back in new york....

We spent a day in Oslo. This is the Opera House.

Our hotel up in the mountains in Hallingdal.

The view!

From our hotel window...

Suzanne, Margaret, Sonja, and Emily played in the snow...

Margaret, Suzanne, Sonja, and Emily...

Margaret, me, Suzanne...

After our days in the mountains, we headed down the snowy windy road to the train station to spend a few days with Abigail in Oslo.

We went shopping...

We woke up at three a.m. to head toward London...the bus to the airport, a flight from Oslo to Gatwick, a train to London, then a day in London...which is a post for another day...we walked 8.98 miles...then took the train back to Gatwick, got on a plane to New York City, then...tried to drive home. After an hour or so, me falling asleep as the navigator, and finally Emily agreeing that we were too tired to drive...we stopped at a hotel for a night...

This morning, home...and here we are. Jonathan was sick when I was infection in his toe, then a high fever, so Paul took him to the hospital, and...the fever was unrelated to the infection, he has the flu. Now Cam has a fever, but at least I'm here. Being across the ocean when your little boy is sick is not easy nor fun. It didn't matter that he was in good hands.

Anyway...home, and kids are here and talking and I can't sit here writing anymore...more pictures sometime soon...

Monday, March 7, 2016

in norway....

I do have some pictures, lots of them, but I am using Margaret's MacBook. So I will just list some of the highlights of this amazing trip...

1. Our hotel in NYC was comfy and clean, and we ordered pizza and watched HDTV, the home decorating/remodeling channel, then an earthquake movie with cheesy dialogue. Suzanne and Sonja were (are) loaded with candy, as we stopped at the Dollar General on the way.

2. We drove from the hotel the next morning to long term parking, then took a shuttle to the airport. As we entered JFK, a worker asked us immediately if we were looking for Norwegian Airlines, we don't know how he knew.

3. Our bags were just the right weight, phew, they were loaded down with stuff we were bringing to Margaret and Abigail, and it would have been painful to have to part with the American chocolate if we had to unstuff them.

4. Our flight was delayed again by a few more hours, so the airlines gave us each an $18 food voucher to use in the airport. With several hours to hang around before departure, we planned our attack: first two orders of Chinese food to share...(a few pieces of chicken was enough for me, the thought of eating that stuff before a seven hour flight, blah). Then Starbucks, a drink each and another voucher was gone. After going through security, we used the last two vouchers at a different Starbucks, getting breakfast sandwiches to eat on the plane, and iced coffees and teas...we spent $38.11 at Starbucks, but it only cost $2.11, and yes, it was fun.

5. The wings were icy, we waited a while for takeoff, and the plane had no televisions or movies. But since I don't get bored, I didn't get bored. I drank a lot of water, got up frequently, and it was a nice flight. Usually this airline doesn't serve food but they did! We had a hot dinner meal, which I enjoyed (key lime pie/cake in a little jar!). They also served a breakfast snack of smoked turkey on a baguette, orange juice, and a little cranberry orange loaf. I couldn't drink the juice or eat the loaf, too much sugar, and let me tell you, I am afraid of too much sugar. The night before I had had pizza, and had eaten candy while we were driving, and I had this horrible experience of shaking and feeling awful, I can't tolerate sugar anymore) (that did not stop me from trying Norwegian ice cream though, ha!)

6. We arrived in Norway, and guess what? The plane just parks there on the tarmac, all snowy and icy, and one exits the plane onto snowy stairs...interesting.

7. Since Emily is fluent in Norwegian, going through customs was quick and painless.

8. We made through in record time and boarded a train to Stokke, but first, Sonja and I successfully purchased a lime fizzy water from a vending maching, for lots of kroner.

9. Two hours on the train. The scenery was too beautiful for me to nap.

10. Arrival at the train station, and there was Margaret!!!! Big hug!

11. We got to the conference center, to our cabin...the bedroom is up a steep wood ladder, a loft room. Very cool, yet it is what my nightmares are made of. But it was either climb that ladder, or sleep on the couch. I climbed the ladder. But not yet. We put our suitcases down, dressed for the meeting, and headed through the snow and slush to the meeting hall.

12. And it was incredible. 4,000 girls, ladies, moms, sisters, all there in the meeting hall. (look up

13. Yet, despite how amazing it was, I was falling asleep. I would blink, and my eyes wouldn't open back up. So after an hour or so, it was back up to the cabin for a little nap. After all, noon here is six a.m. at home, and I had missed the entire night of sleep, because you all know I don't sleep on planes.

14. I climbed that ladder, and it was the most comfy bed in the world. I sank into it, and had the best nap ever. Emily shared with me, then Suzanne and Sonja had the bunkbeds. We slept and slept, couldn't wake up, and missed the afternoon meeting. But it was a good thing in the end, because we were all good to go, for the feast in the evening.

15. We stayed up until 4 a.m. back at our cabin, talking and catching up...and um, yes, eating Norwegian chocolate. Heck, when am I in Norway? Their chocolate is SO yum. I exercised restraint, in that I didn't eat ALL of it.

16. We visited our friends, Vern and Linda, who used to live in our area years ago, and were very very good to our older kids, ect. They made a nice meal for us, and served us excellent coffee, and the warmth we felt there in their living room makes me almost cry just thinking of it now. Words can't describe their goodness.

17. Our trip up to the mountains: Dark and snowy and slightly terrifying, and I am used to snow! It was a four our trip, all snuggled in the minivan, one of Margaret's friends at the wheel...when we started up the mountain, I started praying. It hadn't been plowed, and the van was balking at every turn, rrrrmmm, working at getting through the snow...the road was steep and twisty and turny, and we climbed higher up this mountain...then rrrrmm, that van wouldn't go, and right at that moment, another van came down the mountain, and it was a group of boys who live in the other house here, one of them hopped in and made it look easy as he drove up the rest of the way. I found every muscle in my body tensed up, as we rounded curves, but we made it safe and sound...and this place is beautiful.

18. We couldn't see the view last night, because obviously it was dark out. So we explored the hotel. Only one other guest was staying but the candles were lit, and a fire was burning in the fireplace. Very cosy. Here in Norway, the bathrooms are different...there is a drain in the floor, and the shower just runs right onto the floor and gets the floor wet, instead of being a separage tub/stall.

19. This morning, we had a scrumptious breakfast of bacon and eggs, coffee, and that yummy Norwegian bread with butter. We sat and talked, then decided to go for a walk.

20. We bundled up, and headed out into the snow. The view is astounding! We are up in Hallingdal, almost at the top of this mountain. The girls left the road and went plodding through the waist deep snow, laughing and shrieking, to climb a hill to see better. I took pictures of them falling in and floundering. (Emily, Suzanne, Sonja, and Margaret) (Abigail is in Oslo, we are taking the train there tomorrow to spend a day with her before heading to London)

21. The girls headed back out for some cross country skiing, but the mile and a half of walking up a hill in snow was good enough for me. I told them to do whatever they want, I am fine! I am sitting in our hotel room, on the comfy bed, on the dune (the Norwegians use comforters with sheet covers over them, they put the dune right into the dune cover, and that's the bedding.) It is quiet, and I am happy.

22. So Margaret lives in the house next to this hotel, and works here, but is a guest at the hotel with us for these days.

23. We have big plans for tonight: up the road, there is a place in the woods with a little wood shelter and a firepit, so we will bring some hot dogs and cocoa, and make a fire there. I figure I already walked a mile and a half, tonight will make three miles, that's enough for an old lady on vacation, ha. To get from the road to the shelter, one must navigate through waist high snow, so I think I'll just go last.

24. Overall, I give this vacation a ten out of ten so far. Of course I miss Paul and the kids at home, but this is absolutely amazing. The best part is the goodness of our friends! Margaret has made friends here with girls from Peru and Portugal and Switzerland. They speak Spanish, Portuguese, and Norwegian, so our conversations have been interesting!

25. God is good. Have you ever felt so blessed that you know you don't possibly deserve it? That's how I feel.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

norway tomorrow!!!!

I feel like a little know, when they are excited about something, counting the days, then when they can finally say it's happening TOMORROW, oh the joy.

Honestly, I'd be more excited if I was all packed...but I'm finding that I have way more stuff than I have suitcase space for. I can't leave the giant bags of Reese's behind!

The loose ends, those get to me. The toothbrush, the passport, the phone charger.

The girls are worse than me. They still have their clothes in piles, not decided exactly what to take. Then Sonja found out this morning that her skirt and shirt that she ordered is not coming until tomorrow, and she was counting on them to take with her, wah.

Mommy!, they say, I don't know what to pack!

I have been telling them for the last few weeks to get their stuff together, and let me know if they need anything.

But they're excited.

Suzanne gets motion sickness and isn't loving the idea of the plane ride, or the trek up into the mountains to see Margaret.

We are taking trains and buses too.

Anyway. We went to the zoo on Monday....

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

Little Annika with Kathryn...

Annika and Davian...

Anyway. Tomorrow I leave, and am not taking my computer. So no blog posts for a while unless Emily brings hers, and lets me use it while she goes skiing or something.

When I get home from Norway, I'll be here for a week, then leave for Florida to visit Grandma!....(the kids are so excited about that they can barely stand it....)(yes, Disney!)