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, April 30, 2016

a joyful day!

It's Jonathan's birthday! He's 12 years old. Jonathan is our Rainbow Baby, born way back before that term was coined. I thought I was unique in the absolute joy that Jon brought into our lives after losing baby Robert, but thanks to social media and other blogs, I now know this is a common experience...the complete and utter thankfulness for the baby that's born after a devastating loss: Rainbow Baby.

When Jon was born, I remember being so very thankful for the simple fact that he was alive. He moved. He cried vigorously from the minute he emerged into the world, then calmed down and checked us out with those beautiful eyes. He had wiggly, kicky legs, and tiny little toes...and he was alive. I'm telling you, after delivering baby Robert, holding a miniature little baby, your OWN baby, perfect in every way...except not hope, the end before the beginning, wrapped up so sweetly in the familiar newborn blanket, yet cruelly still and unmoving. It felt like the end of the world. Go home and enjoy your other children, the doctor said. I was ready for that. Because after giving birth in that hospital to all of those other babies, babies who nursed and cried, and snuggled into my shoulder, I was traumatized every time I heard anything wheel down the hall, thinking they were bringing me my baby to take care of, and ugh. But Robert wasn't coming home in a perfectly prepared car seat in the nice little outfits we had bought for him. We were going home with broken hearts.

Then Jonathan came along...he was born ten and a half months after Robert. I could barely breathe throughout the pregnancy, every time he was still, I had to fight the panic. When he wiggled around in there, I hoped he wasn't getting tangled in the cord. It wasn't a blissful 9 months. When he was born, it was absolutely too good to be true.

His older siblings practically stole him from me, if I hadn't nursed him, I never would have gotten a turn. The loss of Robert affected them, too, and they smothered Jonathan in love. Jon has grown up to be just the best boy. He's thoughtful and helpful and kind and has a wicked sense of humor. He has the gift of patience with younger kids, little Annika calls him her "best friend".

Emily, Benjamin, and Aaron pitched in and bought him a really nice new bike for his birthday. I bought him soccer cleats, two Super Soakers, and a new soccer ball, and also gave him money to go out to lunch with three of his friends today. He's making bacon for breakfast right now, and I need to get up and go help make a special breakfast...French toast or waffles.

So today, I am thankful for Jon, and the joy he has brought into our lives.

Friday, April 29, 2016

YES, going to france....:)

My kids rock, they really do.

They got together and talked, and were very enthusiastic in telling me to JUST GO.

Here's the thing...last night, I really prayed about my marriage...I know I need to put more effort into putting it first...then this morning, I was awakened by my phone beeping, ugh, I didn't mute it, and it was waaay too early...but Paul is in France...and he was texting to ask me to go to France with him next week. I immediately thought of my prayers, and really hoped this trip would work out.

Marriage takes time, and time is the one commodity we don't have enough of. When Paul comes back from a trip, he usually gets in on a Saturday evening, is quite tired and jet-lagged on Sunday, then back to work on Monday. We fit in our time for each other after all else is taken care of.

Anyhow...he bought me a ticket! I am actually going!!! He's coming home tomorrow, and we leave a week from tomorrow. (If I weren't going with him, it would be a pretty rough stretch, he's been gone way more than he's been home)

So of course I googled "how to get into shape in a week", and would you believe it doesn't work that way? Nor can you lose fifty pounds in a week, darn it. Yeah, one of my first thoughts was, ha, "I can't go to France being this fat!"

But I'm going, and I'm happy about it.

My nice sister gave me a $20 off coupon for a nice store in the dreaded mall, so this evening when the older girls went over to Emily's house, I took the small kids out and about...Jonathan, Char, Cam, and little cousin William.

They were so precious while I tried things on...Jon sat on a bench with Will, playing a video game together. Char did cartwheels, yes, in the store, and Cam hovered outside the door to comment on what I tried on. I considered going outside of my comfort zone and wearing things other than t-shirts, but it was...too outside of my comfort zone. I did get two elbow length shirts and a pair of super comfortable and almost flattering black pants, all for $30, thank you Cheryl!

I admired a really pretty sweater as I checked out, but it was so pricey...the clothes in that store are very nice, but most things are like fifty bucks...the sweater was on sale for $20, but still.

We took a really quick run into the grocery store after a detour at Dunkin Donuts in the mall...I really enjoyed my iced coffee, and the kids had iced teas. Jonathan turns 12 tomorrow, and had one request: bacon for breakfast. I also got some orange juice, celery, blueberries (my special snack tonight), and more coffee.

Home...William gets to spend the night! He's too cute. He loves hearing stories, and he's in luck, because I like telling them. The girls also told him stories on the ride home from the suburbs.

Jonathan has chosen to just have a few friends to go out to lunch with him, instead of having tons of boys over...the thought it would be too overwhelming. Evelyn is going to make him an ice cream pie (Oreos crushed up, mixed with melted butter for the crust...then partially melted ice cream, topped with crumbled cookies and hot fudge, and frozen up will I not eat this? And I can't, or I won't lose that fifty pounds for France!!)

Anyway...thank you for taking the time to comment, and to encourage me to go on this trip. I do believe it will be a good thing, and honestly, somebody pinch me, I just can't believe I'm going to France. This has been the travel-y-ist segment of my life, the last half year...since last September, I've been to Washington state, then our trip across the country to California in January, a trip to Norway (and London), the Georgia/Florida trip, and to Washington D.C. again. Now to France. Of course exploring new places is my favorite, and honestly, for years and years, I didn't explore too much, having so many kids! We camped for vacations. :)

france? me? really? um, next week?

How to decide? 100% of me says YES!!! But then the other 100% of me wonders how on earth will this family function without me.

I watch young children during the week. Can Kathryn manage to do it for me? Is it right to ask her to? The kids have schooling to do, will they do it? Then there's the soccer tournament at church...Sonja and Jonathan are playing, and are so into it...I want to watch them play, I want to be a part of this with them. There are also so many other things going on next weekend...

Here's the thing: I felt so bad later after writing that Paul doesn't care about the little details in my life. Because that implies that he doesn't care about me, and that's not true. He's just more of a get-to-the-point-of-the-story person. And I am a storyteller. Yet we still really like each other. We've managed to stay on the same page through many trials, choosing to be together in whatever challenges come our way. When one particular older son got himself in trouble a few years back, Paul looked at me, and asked, "What do we do?" We've been through so much together. And we are very blessed to still have that attraction to each other. So when I write here, I write about how I feel about things, yet I don't want to put him in a bad light for the whole world to read, and think he's not an excellent husband...:)

So. He texted this morning, it's not a sure thing yet, he's been looking into getting me a plane ticket...for next week. I pulled of a trip to Washington D.C. last week, with about 12 hours notice until departure time, but I took my younger kids with me. This is a little different. I have some thinking to do.

My heart says to just go. When will I ever get an opportunity like this again? We get so very little time together without kids around, and we are getting older, and and and. I also want to get a little peek into his world...

Then come all the practicalities...I'm pretty sure I can convince the older kids to cover for me, but is it fair?

The answer to this question will come this evening, when he calls me from Paris. He's coming home tomorrow, but only for a week. Will I be getting on the plane with him the next time, or will I be dropping him off at the airport and driving to the soccer tournament?...hmm.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

sometimes I just am.

In the midst of life, in the middle of KNOWING that all things work together for my trusting being thankful...there is a reality. That reality is that there is a suffering involved in order to get from being where I am, to being absolutely thankful, or being content in my circumstances.

I can't just decide to be thankful, then voila, I'm thankful. It takes a suffering, and the sacrifice is usually giving up something I want...maybe it's five minutes of peace and quiet, or maybe it's having the kitchen clean, or maybe it's driving someone somewhere or taking kids someplace I don't feel like going. I can do these things on autopilot, without actually changing over to thankfulness inside, then I get worn out and bitter, and it's like NO FAIR, what about ME!?? Changing the attitude inside is the key. Just being quiet, putting on a smile, and heading out to the van when I would actually like to stay home and finish the dishes or read my's necessary, but there IS the inside to's imperative that I walk in the light, that I work with God in this, that I can be changed, and that I get victory over complaining and being miserable.

No one gets happiness just handed to them in life. Sure, we are all happy and smiles when things go our way, but when you're a mom, heck, when do things actually go how you want them to? I can spend my entire life working and striving to get all my ducks in a row, to get things organized, to create, to explore, to get things fixed up, repaired, ect...I can work so hard to get things how I want them to be. And that in itself is not wrong, it's part of life. But. The thing of REAL value, is to let God do a work in the heart. To be open and flexible and have low thoughts, to be really changed inside. So that when things don't go how I want them to, I don't have to just paste a smile on my face while sulking inside, it gets old. One gets tired, and sick and tired, and longs for things to be different.

Sometimes I feel really really lonely. Paul...he's gone a lot, and when he is here, he's so distracted with stuff. He simply isn't interested in all the details of life, of MY life. We totally love each other, and occasionally we talk about everything...but on a day-to-day basis...not so much. He's a guy. :) I do have my friends, but they are busy too, and can rarely get together. And I have my kids. One cannot dump on one's kids, ha. Oh dear, am I feeling sorry for myself? Not really, just telling it like it is.

For the record, I am really thankful for my friends. (and for Paul...he's coming home from France on Saturday, yay!!)

But here's my point....whether it's feeling lonely, or left out, or sad, or misunderstood, or maybe you feel really used and under- appreciated...there is hope...! Jesus didn't come to heal those who were well.

And, it's important to realize that it's okay to be truthful about how it really is in your life. If I had my druthers, I would have more of a social life, less housework, and oh, everyone would be so thankful for all I do for them, ha. I would have plenty of money to do all the home improvements I want to do, and of course to travel and visit all of my kids. Paul and I would be planning a trip to Jamaica, and since we're dreaming, I would have an indoor pool, or at the very least, my hot tub fixed.

And since we're still dreaming, this last fifty pounds of extra weight would start melting away, and oh, I wouldn't crave chocolate anymore. I heard once that it helps to imagine spiders crawling on brownies, then you wouldn't want to eat them. Duh! You just get the ice cream out!

Speaking of ice cream....last night I dodged the ice cream temptation...I took Evelyn, Suzanne, Charlotte Claire, and Camille out and about...we were going to get ice cream but the lines were long, so we went to the Dunkin Donuts drive through...I got an iced coffee, no sugar, of course...the little girls got cones, and the big girls got yummy drinks. It's so hard not to have ice cream. Then we went to Walmart to get something for Jon's birthday...and cookies and ice cream and hot fudge to make him an ice cream cake for his birthday...wah.

Anyway. Today, we went up to Lake Ontario...we stopped in a little store, and I got a coffee, blueberry flavor with no sugar. It wasn't the half moon cookie the girls had, but it was okay. It's not easy to always say no. It's not easy that when you do say YES, it's mixed with guilt, and the scale jumps up so immediately. Oh, poor me, ha.

It IS a daily battle, it's my lifelong thing. If I don't fight it, the weight WILL come back.

Anyway...after our trip to the lake...the girls wanted to go to the diner, so we stopped at Emily's house...she had the day off, and sure, she would like to go! The little girls are at a friends' house, Jon is at a friends' house, and we have no small children it was only Kathryn, Evelyn, Suzanne, Sonja, Em, me, and friend Irene. And, I had a burger on sourdough was cut in half, so I gave half to Ev, who only had a small meal. I also ordered raisin toast to share with everyone because this diner gets their cinnamon raisin bread fresh daily from a local baker, and it's heavenly good. I am not supposed to eat those carbs, and oh, did I mention the burger came with fries? I did give some to the girls, but yeah, I ate some too.

Oh well.

Anyway...there may be some people in this world who are automatically happy and all sunshiny all the time, but I am not one of them. Yet I am bound and determined not to live as a grump. I don't want to be bitter and miserable and miserly and judgemental and harsh and impatient and selfish. So, in the same way I have to work at what I eat, I will work on saying NO to sin.

Monday, April 25, 2016

home from our nice weekend away....

With's hard to say goodbye to him....he's such a good kid.

He is like a walking history book, and delights in teaching the kids. We visited the Marine Memorial monument.

Arlington National Cemetery is such a solemn place. Sam reminded the kids to be respectful there, and to behave themselves. It was a lovely day for a stroll, sunny skies and 70 degrees. There are leaves on the trees down in D.C., spring has arrived there.

Late night diner trip with Sam...Charlotte Claire, cousin Danielle, and Camille...

Jonathan at the Great Falls National was National Park week, so free admission.

Jon, Mirielle, and Sam.


The Potomac River roaring...

There were streams that led to the river, fun to explore...

The ride home was long, road construction, and traffic. We came upon a motorcycle accident that had just happened, the ambulances weren't there yet, and oh dear I wish I hadn't looked. Under the bright blue skies of a sunny is short. I don't know whether those two guys splayed in the road made it or not, but...

And now it is Monday. My three Real School kids are on spring break, so we stayed up too late last night and watched a scary movie, then I had to get up early to greet my little friend Annika. It's overcast and chilly today, but perhaps we'll venture outside anyway. I didn't get enough sleep, and would like to crawl into bed with a book, but I won't.

Jonathan turns 12 next Saturday (!), so I need to get him a birthday present. Maybe when he's at soccer tonight, I'll take the other kids out and about...

Sunday, April 24, 2016

travels and adventures...

In our hotel room, most are still asleep. The seven of us were tired after a full day of fun yesterday. Our plan was to go to the Shenandoah National Park, but a raging forest fire changed that plan. We pondered taking the metro to the city to see the Smithsonian museums again, for little Danielle, but she didn't seem to really care either way, and Samuel spends so much time in we went to Great Falls, and it was lovely. I would post some pictures, but the girls are using my phone for white noise.

We walked some trails, the kids climbed rocks and played in a stream. We ate our chicken bacon wraps in the park, people watching, and dog watching. There were two black labs there, oh so cute. We went back to the hotel in the afternoon and got coffee, ah, then went to the pool and hot tub. Back to the room to watch more HDTV (home decorating, remodeling, house searching, ect.)...then a late evening trip to the diner...

It's time now to get up for breakfast, and start the day. This place has decent food, and plenty of really good coffee, so it's a winner. The seven of us fit well in this room, there are two double beds and a pull out couch, plus a refrigerator and an extra sink.

Today, we have to say goodbye to Sam. Jon suggested we just bring him home with us, but we can't do that. The Army wouldn't like it. It's the hardest thing. Being with Samuel is like remembering why you like something so much. He's really funny, and so good to the little kids, and Jon simply worships him.

And, today is going to be 70 degrees and sunny here....

I love my life. Spontaneous road trips are my favorite. Paul's back in France for the week, so I'll be on my own again this week. The four teenage girls sent pics of a gathering at our house last night, Emily was there, and baby Lydia...they are having a good time without Mom there. Joseph brought Paul to the airport, and went to the dump for us...

Anyway...I do have lots of nice pictures. The girls are so much fun, Char and Cam and cousin Dani. They delight in the little things, like hotel make-your-own-waffles. :)

Friday, April 22, 2016

on the road again!!!!

Yes, I am in Washington, D.C.!!! Well, actually we are in Virginia right now, in our hotel...relaxing with Samuel, my Army son!

Jon, Samuel, Mirielle, then in the front, Charlotte Claire, cousin Danielle, and Camille...

With Mirielle...

So yesterday, after watching Emily win first prize in the category for prose, in the medical university's writing contest, and read her piece, (wah it was good!), and also listening to all of the other wonderful and inspiring and thought-provoking poems and stories...I had a talk with Mirielle...she had reserved a hotel room here, and was planning this trip to visit Sam, and the girls who were to accompany her couldn't she asked me to come. Of course I will!!! The two little girls had cousin Dani spending the night, and we just happened to have room for her, and her mom and dad were okay with it, so yay!!! Little girls are very happy campers!

Here we are...seeing Sam is always a treat. He and Jonathan are stretched out and relaxed, talking about playing Air-Soft. Mirielle is doing homework, and the little girls are having tea with tons of sugar and cream, and donuts and pizza.

(Yes, I declined the cake yesterday. But today, donuts happened. But I did take a nice swim in the hotel pool, so hopefully I won't gain ten pounds...the donut shop was a heavenly place...with coffee...after traveling all day...oh dear.)

Anyway. I just wanted to check in....tomorrow, Shenandoah National Park....:)

Thursday, April 21, 2016

luxuriating in laziness...

If I were an animal, I would definitely be a tree sloth. I would of course turn into a cheetah when someone pulled into the driveway unexpectedly, for some panic cleaning. I do love my comfy chair and my morning coffee. For years and years, this practice was just unheard of, this sitting here and meditating on important things, like which shade of white I should paint my cabinets. No, for years, I was more than busy, from the time I opened my eyes in the morning, until the time I opened them again several times during the night.

These days, I find it difficult to have a quiet moment in the morning. The girls are awake, and Jonathan's alarm will go off in a few minutes, he likes to be up early. I usually get up and sweep, wipe down counters, straighten things out...but this morning, the quietness was too alluring, I had to sit down and write. My fingers just get itchy.

My oldest daughter, Emily, is a nurse, but she's really a writer. She has won a few contests and awards for short stories. She's reading a story this afternoon at a medical/nursing presentation, and I am going to see if I can manage to go with her. (She also had an article published yesterday on , "Why I Can Be Thankful On Bad Days Too").

Yesterday, I played with chalk paint. I repainted an extra wood kitchen a shade of's rather bright, but I like it. I ended up putting it in the living room with a pillow on it, it's rather interesting. I also painted a wood crate to put paper recyclables in. I still need to take the yucky fake wood blades off the living room ceiling fan, and paint them. I like to keep busy, but get so tired of doing the same housework day after day. This morning, I am so comfy in my chair, and my little friends are coming over...first the two year old, then little Davian. So it's totally worth it that I told Miss Char and Miss Cam and cousin Danielle that I would give them a dollar to vacuum the kitchen and living room, wash the counters and coffee table. They are in full swing, and ha, I get a few more minutes to write.

Camille said, "A dollar for all that work?" I told her that if she does it really often, it will add up. And seriously, they have to do things like this for no money all of the time, but guess what? They are working really hard!!!

They love to play dolls when Dani comes over. They also like to make things for their dolls. I am thinking of taking them to the warehouse store to get some boxes, so they can build things.

This weekend, Mirielle is going to Washington D.C. to visit Samuel. She's taking Kathryn, Suzanne, and Jonathan, as far as I know, and they are going camping. I want to go! But Paul is leaving Saturday morning for another week in France....

Okay...weight loss update...I'm holding steady...I've been maintaining the same weight for months now, which is better than gaining it back, but ugh. I had been starting to regain last year, so I got serious, and lost 14 pounds, but can't seem to get past this point. And the reason: I am too comfortable. I need to move more, be more diligent, work harder. The brink of middle age is when most women pack on a few pounds, and losing weight right now for me is difficult. But, I am not giving up. My days have gone like this for the past week or so: eating really healthy all day, then having some chocolate in the evening, or popcorn, or something I shouldn't have. So I just need to avoid that, and I will do better. Every night I go to bed and tell myself, tomorrow evening, I am going to be much more careful. ha.

And the first thing I thought of this morning, and this is that if I go with Emily, there will be cake. Cake. Is there anything more yummy in the world? For me, the battle doesn't begin when I see the cake, it starts right in when I KNOW about the cake. It's a special occasion. Then I think of sugar...all that sugar. And I decide, no, I won't have any. I'll just smile, and say, no thank you. And if ONE single person says, "Oh, have some, it's really good!", I will just slap them. ha.

I do have a good bit of self control. I made a triple batch of chocolate chip cookie dough yesterday, and baked up three pans of cookies. I didn't eat even a taste of one. I just enjoyed how they looked, and the heavenly smell...I gave some to Davian's mom and dad, and sent some home with Annika's mom, and the kids had some after school. I want to bake some to send to Samuel, they don't serve cookies like that in the Army.

My coffee is gone, and the girls are still cleaning up, they are so funny. I need to get up and throw in a load of laundry, and get moving. Annika will be here any minute now....

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

dusting off the keyboard...

Oh no, don't tell me I'm getting to be one of THOSE bloggers...with a bag of excuses why their poor blog has been neglected, and promises that it won't happen again. ha.

Life happens, and lately, it's been a busy one. With the two year old and the four year old coming to play....diapers and popsicles and messes, and fun and going outside and coming back in...there's not much of a chance to sit here and write. Annika is due here any minute now...

Yesterday afternoon, I took Sonja and Jonathan out to buy new soccer cleats. Jon's feet are growing at an alarming rate, he's like a puppy with big paws. He's still shorter than his mama, but not for long. And Sonja is so in to soccer, she's been longing for these particular cleats which she's never going to get, so she's happy with the Nike ones I got her, ha. (both of them have birthdays in the next few weeks) Since we were out and had no milk in the house, we stopped at Aldi. That led to bacon and avacodos and butter and fruits and veggies...

Then to Walmart to get a prescription for Jonathan, his toe is not healing up. Next week, a podiatrist, for a consult, hopefully to get a simple procedure done to get this toe back to normal, so poor Jon isn't limping and wincing when someone steps on his foot. Not a good way to play soccer, that's for sure.

In Walmart, I decided to look at a few things to get Paul for his birthday, which was last week. I wanted to get him a really nice blender, but decided we have two blenders on the counter, so just to wait on that...then in the clearance aisle, there was a food dehydrator marked down to $30, from $99. We had one, and it broke, so I thought he'd like it. He just looked at it and said, "Nah..." Fine, we'll take it back. Now, when I get a gift I don't really like, I hate myself for it in a way, but I'm too nice to ever say. He wasn't being rude or mean, he just reacted. He told me he was very thankful that I took the time to choose something for him, and he appreciated that. I would rather have the truth and bring the thing back than have it collect dust, but I did feel rather bad. wah, poor me. But then I looked on ebay, and those things are selling for big money, so I am thinking of going back to Walmart and getting the other one there, and making a bit of money...:)

Sunshine...I can't get enough of it. Yesterday we spread a sheet in the front yard, and all the little children and I gathered there and marveled about the buds on the trees which will soon unfold into tiny baby leaves, right when we're not looking. We looked for four leafed clover, and had popsicles. Davian is sensitive to the sun, so he sat under an umbrella and ate his, slathered in sunscreen. They jumped on the trampoline, and went on the swings, played in the Little Tikes car, and ran around the yard. It's like the old days....

And this fine morning, we are heading out the door to a moms and tots group, for those who are home during the day, homeschoolers, ect. I have to pack lunch and get clothes bye for now.

Friday, April 15, 2016

sunshine and puppy dogs...

I hope my blog doesn't make my life seem like rainbows and sparkles...but some days, well some days are just special. Today, for sister-in-law Kim and I had planned to go on a field trip with our younger kids, our homeschoolers. We were going to a park...the lake, or the other lake, or perhaps even the other lake. Then we talked about maybe just staying here at my house, and letting them play. The girls have a nifty fort they have been working on, out back across the creek. (Their walls are made of an old desk, and they have a blue tarp draped over it, it looks quite lovely.)

Anyway, my niece texted me, wondered if she could bring her four year old twins over for a bit while she took Will to the doctor...of course we LOVE Sebastian and Linnea, so, after confirming with Kim that we would be just staying here, I said YES.

Davian came over, and that boy, when he saw those twins skipping happily up the driveway, he put his hands on his hips and said, "I am NOT ready for this." Oh funniness. So with Kim's kids, and the three four year olds, and my three, we had quite the party. They went on the swings and the trampoline (yeah, we still have it...), and explored along the creek. We had a picnic lunch in the yard, and best of all, Kim and I had lots of time to sit in the sun and talk. And have coffee.

When the twins went home, the little girls decided they were hot, so they filled a plastic storage bin, and three coolers with water....filled pitchers in the kitchen sink and carried them out to the deck, not dripping a bit, Mom. Yeah, right. Anyway, they put bathing suits on and cooled off in those coolers and bins, Davian didn't have a suit here so he went in his undies.

Kim made strawberry ice cream cones for the kids, then she had to get going. I painted the trim on the front door, then relaxed for a bit before our next adventure...

The movies! Four dollars for 3D StarWars The Force Awakens. I am not a huge fan, so Sonja and I decided to go shopping while they watched the movies. Suzanne, Jon, Char, and Cam went to the theater, with plenty of money for one large popcorn, and a large drink to share. (I told Jon to make sure he got the free refill, ha.)

Sonja and I went to Kmart, where there was 40% off the clearance clothes...she got one shirt, I got one shirt...we also got stuffed bunnies for the three youngest kids, for 99 cents each, as they were 90% off.

Then to BigLots, as she was searching for a birthday present for one of her best friends. We found a really cute lunchbox/cooler, and got her some lunchie snacks to put in it, along with some nail polish. Not a bad gift for a girl turning 14.

Then, we parked in the theater parking lot and waited for the kids...and ordered pizza from Pizza Hut. The kids had a few free pan pizza coupons from the homeschool reading program...

Home...ah, home. Pizza and Phinneas and Ferb.

Yes, it was a good day. The dog got mud on my clean kitchen floor, and kids dripped popsicles, and I was busy at times, but it was a good day. The sun shone all day, not a cloud in the brilliant blue sky. It was 60-something degrees, and it was lovely. Tomorrow it's going to be 65, and sunny again. Yay! The older kids are all busy, working at the churchgrounds, doing landscaping and general maintenence, so I will be here with just the two little the afternoon, we go to the airport to pick up Kathryn and Evelyn from California, and then Paul from France...

Thursday, April 14, 2016

the fourteenth child...

He's really the fifteenth child, because little Robert William was the fourteenth, and was stillborn. But anyway. Jonny is the the youngest of the five boys, and has nine older sisters, five directly older, and then the two younger sisters.

Jonathan is not really a child. He's like a small adult who shows occasional childlike tendencies. He's smart. He blends into a room, focusing on his book or tablet so as to seem like he's not listening. He has a head on his shoulders. He can download things to flash drives, and call customer service, and put air in the tires, and make his own plans with friends. He does what chores he's asked to do, and if he complains, he apologizes. He never needs punishment ever (I don't believe in punishments, but that's another story). Simply pointing out less than stellar behavior results in him saying he'll try harder. You know, throwing dirty socks in places and not hanging up his towel.

He is witty and sharp. He is understanding, and caring, and has so much patience with small children. He loves Annika, and she calls him, "My best friend, Jonny."

So his toe was infected last month...after antibiotics and a trip to the hospital that ended up being the flu, and then having a reaction to the sulfa antibiotic and breaking out in a rash...his toe is infected again. We went to the dr. this afternoon and had it swabbed to be cultured, to see what germ(s) to fight. The dr. says he probably should have a small surgical procedure done to remove part of the skin on the side of the toenail, to prevent recurrence. Jon is not thrilled about the prospect, but is tired of the pain of the swollen infected toe, and would like to be done with it all. So we shall see. Never a dull moment.

My little friends were here today, then Lydia was here this evening. It's like the old days, changing diapers and washing little faces and hands. I fed Lydia sweet potatoes, and it was like playing house:) I fed her a bottle and rocked her to sleep, too.

I find myself very busy these days, chasing kids, preparing snacks, cleaning up messes. I have also been painting...the inside and the outside of the kitchen door, and the inside of the front door. I also painted the ugly dark brown laminated shoe storage shelf, it came out nice. I just feel driven to get these things done...the weather is going to be beautiful soon, and who wants to be inside painting then?

Sunshine is forecast for the next four days...

Camille wants to go to the library tomorrow. She NEEDS a book, she finished hers. How can I say no to that?

I'm staying up way too late because the days have been too busy to just sit and think, to relax, to have time to read things or write. I like the quiet of the night, but I know I'll kick myself when morning comes way too soon.

It's after midnight, oops.

And, I have a new book to read, Jon and I stopped at the thrift store quick before his dr. visit. He needs new soccer cleats, but there are never cleats there when you need them. His feet just keep growing, and I hate to invest in a brand new pair if he's going to outgrow them. We did pick up a few books though...he got something called, "The Dog Who Farted". How could I not buy that for him?

I did tell him that if we can't find any at the thrift stores, we'll just get some new ones. He really likes playing, he plays on the church team, and they are having practices two or three times a week now. Sonja is bugging for new ones too, for her birthday, please, she says.

Paul's birthday was last Saturday, and he'll be home this Saturday night. Camille almost cried when I said we didn't get him anything for his birthday. So she started planning and suggesting, then Char said we should make him a nice dinner on Sunday, you know, she said, have some nice meat and veggies for him, and have everyone over, and give him presents. Sounds like a I have been looking at things to buy him...he's not the easiest to shop for. He does like to putter around the kitchen...he makes bone broth, he has kombucha tea fermenting in the laundry room, he ferments carrots and makes sauerkraut. He makes his daily kale/avocado/berry smoothies, too. So hmmmmm. I don't want to mention anything here, on the off chance he'll read it.

Friday, we are planning a trip to a park with Kim, and her younger kids, the cousins. In the evening, we are thinking to go see the new StarWars movie in the cheap theater, in 3D. Actually, I'm thinking of dropping Suzanne off with them, and going to Kmart or the Christmas Tree shop...StarWars isn't my favorite, and 3D gives me a headache. :)

But they like it, and are excited about it.


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

raindrops on roses, and whiskers on kittens...


This kitten was just purring...

Charlotte Claire...

So we had this new mini-winter during spring, but tomorrow, sunshine comes to central New York state...and stays for a few days, getting warmer each Sunday, 70 degrees. It's too good to be true, and I'll believe it when I see it, but I sure hope it's true!

Yesterday I painted the inside of the kitchen door, then last night I decided to give the ugly brown laminated shoe organizer a coat of gray chalk paint. I already painted the end tables and the ceiling fan blades with the one six dollar bottle, and there was still enough to do the shoe thing. I gave it a second coat this morning, and then a coat of wax. It's not a lovely piece of furniture, but I'm not in a position to replace it right at the moment, so at least it looks better.

I plan to paint the outside of the kitchen door this week, and the aluminum screen door too. The bad dogs jump on it when they want to come in, and leave muddy paw prints on it...perhaps if I paint gray it will blend better.

My Walmart trip the other night netted new trim paint too, for around the doors outside. This sunny weather should be good for getting these things done. The front porch is just a block of cement, so I am thinking to paint that too....and this should be a good week to wash the front of the faces north, and gets all mossy/green from lack of sunshine.

Yes, there's enough to do around here, along with the usual dishes and sweeping, laundry and meals...and teaching kids how to multiply fractions.

And, there are my little friends who come over to play, too. They like to get out lots of toys. This morning, Annika wanted to paint...I got out all the watercolors, and she painted for four minutes. :)

My girls got off to California, arrived safely, and are with their big brother Aaron. He's taking them to Long Beach for a few days, and to see the redwoods. I miss those girls, Kathryn and Evelyn, even though it's only been since yesterday morning. When you're used to having lots of teenage girls around, having only two (Suzanne and Sonja), it's different. Mirielle did stop for a visit last evening to help Suzanne with her French homework. And tonight, Mali is bringing Lydia over for a bit. So it's not like it's really quiet or anything...

So...all this painting and working and keeping busy...I like it, but oh it's nice to sit in my comfy chair and put my feet up sometimes, like right now. It's after noon, and I just finally drank my morning coffee, and yes, it was cold. I made French toast for the kids, but I haven't eaten yet.

Since I got up at 3:30 yesterday morning to drive to the airport, I was dragging bedtime, I couldn't keep my eyes open. Char and Cam both brought their favorite blankets into my big comfy bed, and we talked about fun things...poor girls, I couldn't keep awake to talk.

Well, time to get moving again. Annika wants more milk in her bottle, but I want to see if I can get her to eat something first. She didn't eat her French toast at all...

Sunday, April 10, 2016

burning through the days....

Friday...mall....home for a breather, then off to shop with Mirielle for food for today's church gathering.

Saturday...started to put the kitchen back together...I chalk painted the ceiling fan blades, so they had to go back on, along with the new light globes. The curtains had to be washed, ironed, and put back up. The pictures were hung back on the walls, and Jon put all the switchplates, ect., back.

Saturday afternoon, it was time to go to the Luke Bryant concert, to work. Imagine my surprise and dismay when we started working at 3:30 and found out he didn't even take the stage until 9:45! It was a long day, and I barely was in bed by 2:00 am.

Then this morning, the church gathering...of course I helped in the kitchen, because it's fun in there.

Home...not for long, I had to go to Walmart...I needed two new curtain rods as some of the old ones were bent, and I threw them away. I got a track phone for Kathryn and Evelyn, because they are leaving for California in a few hours and should travel with a phone.

Kim came with me, then stayed here for dinner...we made pizza, three regular ones and a low carb crust one.

The kids are settled into bed, and I have to leave here in five hours to go to the airport, wah. I am tired, so I should get some was snowing like crazy a bit ago, I hope it dies down before I have to drive down the IS April now...

But life isn't all craziness and busyness...Kim and I sat and had coffee, and talked while the younger kids made up a really interesting game with some math blocks I bought at the thrift store. I saw my friends today, and I held kittens. I pet Suri, and I wandered through Walmart lazily, even bought some paint for the outside of the doors and the outside trim. No, life isn't always so busy. It's enjoyable. My older girls keep me laughing, too.

Paul is having a good enough time in France, he visited Normandy, and Utah Beach this weekend. I miss him.


Friday, April 8, 2016

and off we go....

Life is busy, but I find it hard to complain. For example yesterday, oh what a day...Kathryn and I started right in on painting the kitchen ceiling. Now we built this house a long time ago, we started back in the spring of 1990, and moved in a year later, when we were just expecting our sixth child, Aaron. Joseph was almost a year old when we moved in, and from a three bedroom mobile home with five kids to this big huge

But...add eleven kids, let them be kids, have friends over, enjoy life...and things get run down. We have re-painted the kitchen a few times through the years, but the ceiling was never redone, and it needed it badly.

So Kathryn and I started on it, guess what? It's not fun rolling paint onto a ceiling. I thought it would just glide right on, but ouch and a half, it hurt my neck, I had to reload the roller after every swipe because the ceiling just sucked that paint right in. We decided not to prime it first because it's a big room and it seemed like way too much work. This turned out to be a bad decision because we ran out of paint when we were only a third Camille and I had to make a trip to Lowe's. We were supposed to hurry but we got sidetracked looking at the faucets and appliances and sample kitchens, where we picked up some little countertop samples. We also spent too much time dreaming in the light fixture aisles. I bought new glass globes for the kitchen ceiling fan, because there were only two out of three still on it. I took the blades off it the other day and painted them with gray chalk paint, they don't look exactly fantastic, but are nicer than the white with gold trim that they were before. Anyway. We got our ceiling paint, and headed home.

The ceiling painting continued, and we played thankfulness games...I said at least we weren't building pyramids in Egypt in the blazing sun. Kap countered that blazing sun sounded nice.

Anyway...the three girls who go to school got home, and joined right in. We got the ceiling finished, started spackling spots in the kitchen, then couldn't find any sandpaper at all. I was covered in paint speckles, and did not want to get clean clothes on AGAIN and head to the store, so we made Joseph go to the hardware store in town.

The spackle got sanded, the walls wiped down, and the kitchen painting began as we cleaned up the ceiling paint mess. We had two rollers, and three edgers, with Jon, Char, and Cam as go-phers. They wiped up paint drops and got paper towels for us. Jon was the handyman with the screwdriver, he removed all the outlet covers and light switch plates, plus removed all the wall hangings and the coats from the hooks. He helped clear the counters and cover things with plastic.

The kids were getting hungry, and of course the kitchen was a disaster, no food was going to be prepared there. They talked about pizza until I realized that this indeed was the carrot to dangle before these helpers, to keep them enthusiastic. Okay, I said, when we get almost done, we'll order pizza and make Joe go pick it up. I sat down at 9 o'clock and had some chicken wings and yeah, I caved and ate some pizza. It wasn't carb night, but I didn't care. My neck and shoulders were on fire, and my feet needed to be put up, and we were watching, "Minions", which is so adorable and funny but also kind of scary.

This fine morning, of course I notice places we missed and places were paint got slopped and not cleaned up. The coats are all in a pile on the living room chair, and the outlet covers and light switch covers need to be put back on. All the pictures need to be rehung, and the curtains, which I washed in the midst of all the painting fun, are hanging over the back of a chair, waiting to be ironed, and hung on new curtain rods which I haven't purchased yet, the old ones were bent.

I still want to paint the wood trim on the windows white, but that can wait for another day.

The cabinets are still going to have a makeover, and then the countertops, but those things will also wait for a bit.

The girls are not ready for another project quite yet either. But I am so optimistic about the next few things because I know they are good workers. Not one of them got mad and quit, and believe me, there were little arguments. There was also singing, loud and silly. We all belted out some Abba, Wa Wa, Waterloo! It sounds pretty good sung at the top of the lungs. Every few minutes someone would start singing something, and Sonja also educated us all about her favorite soccer teams and players.

When I told them about the cabinet project, and what it would entail, they were actually all for it. Kathryn and Evelyn are leaving for their week in California on Monday, so I think we'll wait for their return.

And this weekend is packed full already. I promised Kathryn a trip to the big mall in the big city to get a new dress for California, and we are watching Lydia this afternoon. Then also in the afternoon, I am going shopping with Mirielle for food for a church thing on Sunday. Then tomorrow, Luke Bryant is performing at the Dome, and we are working at the concession stand.

I think I had better get moving. Kathryn is up and doing things like dishes and sweeping because she wants to get going to the dreaded mall....

Thursday, April 7, 2016


With Evelyn...

Kathryn 18, Evelyn 16, Sonja almost 14, and Suzanne 15. We went out and about last evening, while Joseph and the little ones were at activity club. We went to Kohl's, and didn't find any bargains, although I did splurge on SIX new towels, for $2.99 each. I'm such a housewife. Evelyn was driving, and I didn't feel that my life was in danger one single time, I almost forgot how new of a driver she is. Anyway, we went to the giant home improvement store, Lowe's, which I try to avoid because of the plethora of items I realize I need as I walk through those aisles. Also, things add up too quickly there, ha. We chose paint for the kitchen, a new shade of yellow...and did you ever try to choose paint colors with four teenage girls? One was telling me, in all earnest, about a soccer match. Another was sillily suggesting outrageous colors, and one of them was actually trying to help, although she gets easily overwhelmed and wanted to just choose one and get it over with. At one point one of them was actually lying on the concrete floor, laughing. These are not toddlers, remember. Then one picked up one of those extending poles for the paint rollers, and somehow the pieces separated, went flying down the aisle, clanging and crashing. I just walked a few steps away as if I wasn't with them, as they roared in laughter. We stocked up on paint rollers and all that fun stuff, now we are all set to prime and paint the kitchen ceiling, and then do the walls.

Our next stop was going out to dinner, which was a long standing promise on my part, for Kathryn's 18th birthday. One of them asked, "Can we please get drinks tonight?" She meant soda instead of the usual water, and I said, "How about no?" We needed toilet paper from the store, so I told them they could pick out something to drink on the way home, and just have the water with dinner. I know, I know, but it was pricey enough, and why am I writing this? I'll never understand myself.

It was a yummy dinner, anyway. I have been super good with my eating, so I decided to just enjoy dinner. We had the fresh tortilla chips with salsa, then most of us had the honey chipotle chicken crispers...with fries and onion rings. I ate only a few fries, two or three of the onion rings, and three crispers...then brought it home for Jonathan.

This morning, our two year old isn't coming over, but the twins are here!

So we have the supplies to start painting that we just need that nudge to actually get started. I just gave Jonathan a pep talk about how life is all about doing things you don't want to do. I want the results, I just don't want to actually do the work. Right now the little girls are talking about the kind of house they would build if we had a million dollars...

And since they want me to join them in speculation, bye for now...

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

brrrr in april....

15 degrees this fine spring morning, here in central New York state. The sun is shining on the snow, and it IS lovely out there. I am thinking maybe today we'll go to the library. The kids all have different subjects they want to learn about, so we need books about Japan and skateboards, and trees. They wrote up spring and summer bucket lists yesterday. They want to ride bikes and swim and learn different gymnastics moves. They are so enthusiastic about everything, I want to freeze time so that I always have these young ones in the house, keeping things lively.

Okay, here's a yucky subject. Bugs. Have you ever heard of pantry moths? Neither had I. We found some last fall, and did extensive cleaning of the cupboards, and got rid of them, or so we thought. Or maybe new ones came in the dog food or something. But in any case, there were a few flying around and we decided to clean out the cupboards again, throwing away opened stuff, just to make sure to keep those little pests at bay. I had just bought new flour, so I put it into plastic containers. Camille and I were also baking molasses cookies, so that made it interesting. We emptied the cupboards, vacuumed, wiped them down, and put things back with a little more rhyme and reason. Evelyn is a good organizer, and is priceless to have around when there's a project to do. We hope this is the end of those little moths, and so help me, if we see so much as one of them...

Anyway. Today we did go to the library. Little Annika likes do do the puzzles, and the girls read her stories. They got out a few stacks of books, then we went to the grocery store quick to get things for Joseph's activity club. We then ran into the dollar store for a few things...Annika picked up a purple pail and said, "I love purple", as she walked down the aisle with the pail I bought it for her. She's just cute.

Home...ah home. Jon built a fort for Annika, and is flying his remote controlled helicopter. The school girls are home, and it's pleasant in here. I made a roast with carrots, and lots of mashed potatoes for dinner last night, and there are plenty of leftovers, so I don't need to scramble to figure out dinner tonight. That's always a good feeling.

Mali is coming over with baby Lydia, this Grandma is excited about that. Lydia is so precious. You know, when other people have grandchildren, you admire them, and really like them, but when you get your own, oh dear, it's like they just own your heart. Although I do really love my sister's grand kids, and my brothers' too...I guess any children I spend time with, I will fall in love with.

Right now, Jonathan is letting Annika pilot the copter..she's sitting on the couch singing Happy Birthday to herself.

I miss Paul. I don't like him to be gone, but I do like missing him, if that makes sense.

The doctor's office just called to confirm with me that the lump is benign, and to assure me they will call in a few months to remind me, and set up a 6 month re-check to be sure nothing scary grows.

I'm enjoying my coffee, and my chair, and my day, and my life...

Monday, April 4, 2016

happy monday, and yay, good results today!

I'll tell the ending first, so if you don't want to suffer through the story, you'll be all set. I'm fine. The lump is....just a lump.

Snow. I had to shovel the driveway and clean off the van, scrape the windshield. The roads were not good, there were two ruts to drive in, and the going was slow. I had to go to the hospital first to pick up my old mammogram, as per doctor's office request, but was told they send them, so I went there for nothing. So on to the mammogram. The technician was wonderful, so professional and kind, and respectful. She felt the lump, and made sure she had nice clear pictures. I then had a sonogram done, and lying there in the dark watching the screen felt like deja' vous...all those sonos I had during all those pregnancies. They were infinitely more fun. Because today, I could see that lump on the screen. She was measuring it, and getting lots of angles of it. Then she was all done, and told me to wait right there, the radiologist would be in to talk to me, and discuss further options if necessary.

So there I was. Waiting for my fate. I decided that there was not a thing I could do about what the results would be, so I tried to close my eyes and relax, and not give into any anxious thoughts.

Then, lo and behold, the news: it was fine. The lump is nothing, but come back in 6 months just to make sure. You can get dressed, and have a nice day. Okay. I was reeling. "Happy" doesn't begin to describe it.

I stopped at the store on the way home for kitty food. I was practically dancing through the store. Somehow I realized it wouldn't be a good idea to share the reason for my gladness with the cashier.

So here in central New York, we are having winter in the spring. It's 27 degrees out, and there's snow. Tomorrow is going to be even colder, it's going down to 11 tonight. What a cozy day to have beef and carrots in the crock pot:)

Annika is here today, they have been playing store with the toy carts and cash registers. They get out all the plastic grocery bags and fill their carts with all sorts of stuff. It's great fun, and it makes the living room look lovely.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

ha ha ha, snow in april...a spring day in central new york....

I was more excited about it than the kids...waking up to snow. Not just a dusting of snow, lots of snow...and wind, and cold.

The dogs were a little confused, but I offered the word PLAY, and out they came, to scamper in the snow with me. Well, Suri scampered, Duke wandered around behind me and whined. He gets cold easily, I think, because he doesn't run around anymore.

So I started my day by shoveling the driveway, on April 3rd.

Sam texted a picture, in D.C. it's sunny, and the grass is green. He said it was 81 there on Friday. Here, it's 22, and more snow is coming tonight, with cold and wind, making the work/school commute difficult tomorrow...on April 4th.

I won't be driving to work or school tomorrow, but I do have an early appointment in the small city for the mammogram. It'll be nice if they look at the results, and laugh heartily at how that lump is nothing but a harmless little cyst! Or a dried pea, that somehow got stuck under my skin! oh, that happens sometimes, they'll say. You have a good 30-40 years ahead of you, young woman, now go and enjoy it! If it turns out to be no big deal, I vow to cherish each and every day here on earth. Wait, I kind of already do. The thing about days is this: you can't get them back, you can't do them over again, and they get shorter and go by faster and faster. No matter how many I have left, I want to use them in a good way...

Anyway. Yesterday I drove Paul to the airport. There are eight kids still here at home, and usually friends here on weekends, three here this weekend. The airport is in a suburb where I grew up, lots of shopping places there (plus that wonderful bakery which I managed not to visit). Anyway, I decided to invite Evelyn along, just her. She's 16 years old, and oh my goodness is she spunky and spicy and amazing.
(Evelyn Joy with baby Lydia)
She has attitude. She has ambition. She knows what needs to be done, and she not only does it, but gets her siblings to do things. When she's good she's very very good...but don't mess with her when she's being horrid. She's tons of fun, though, and yesterday, we indeed had tons of fun.

She's going to California with Kathryn next week, and needed a bathing suit. So we went to the mall. Sears was first...and Sears was having 50% off their clearance. For example, I got a jean skirt for $4.99, and shirts for Jon for $2.49. I almost bought a winter coat for $15, regularly $120, but I put it back, and now I kick myself. We found too much stuff.

We found her a suit in a different store, and a nice rain jacket. We got groceries, and ran into my sister Cheryl in store...we saw her, so we sneaked up on her, hiding behind the store ad until we were right near her. Evelyn was so good about letting me stand there and catch up, even though we had been gone for hours.

We bought stuff to make the best taco salad, so that's what I did when we got home...

Our team lost the basketball game, but hey, they made it to the Final Four, and our women's basketball team did too, they're playing tonight. Not too shabby.

Ah well, it's chilly in here, someone should make some cookies...

Friday, April 1, 2016

it was a dark and rainy day....

The dogs were snoring on the couch while the rain dripped and dropped. The coffee pot also dripped and dropped, filling the dark room with it's pleasing aroma. The lady in the comfortable chair had a dismal foreboding of the future, when the quiet was the norm , not the anomaly. The two little girls were at their big sister Emily's house spending the night with their new dolls...

Cousin Danielle, Davian, Charlotte Claire, and Camille...and don't feel too sorry for Davian, he got new playdough, Skittles in a cute Bunny topped tube, and some sidewalk chalk.:)

Miss Char

Miss Cam

(Yesterday we took a little outing...the little girls had these big ideas, to buy jeans at the thrift store and cut them off...then decorate them with lace and shiny we went. It was a good thrift store day, for $20 we got Kathryn a desk, which she brought home and painted with chalk paint, and Adidas slides for Paul, two pairs of jeans for the girls (Danielle couldn't find any she liked, so I told her we might have some here she can cut off), some nice little baby toys for Lydia, and a few other things...all for twenty bucks!) (And we went to Walmart quick, so the little girls could shop with the $20 they got from Grandma...we gave Dani a twenty too, so they had tons of fun...they decided on the baby dolls, which made me very happy. I love that they still like to play house. Cam bought twin babies which are smaller than the other girls' dolls, so she says she was due later than the other girls, but had her babies early and they are preemies, but the babies are all the same age)(I went through my drawers last night and got them out some special bonnets, the little sleeper Paul bought when Benjamin was born, and some little booties...why let them rot in a drawer when the girls enjoy them so much?)

Anyway...the quiet is almost scary. The kids who are home are still asleep, or in their rooms still, and this old mama is enjoying the downtime after a busy week with lots of kids around. The two year old doesn't come on Fridays, but perhaps Davian will be here in a bit.

The new coffee pot, which is a real cheapie, has a glitch: it turns off after about one minute of brewing. The coffee-wanter has to stand vigil, turning that switch back on over and over again until that pot brews. Our water kills coffee pots every six months or so, so investing in a nice one is just silly. Yes, we have poured vinegar through...our water is just full of good things, like iron and minerals.

Anyway. No jury duty today! The mandatory night-before-service-check-in-phone-call said, "Thank you for your service, you are good for six years, you do not have to report on Friday, April 1st." Yay!

It feels like I have a day off!

Paul grilled burgers outside last night. I sliced up some summer squash and tossed it in olive oil with fresh cauliflower, seasoned it up, and roasted it in the oven. A burger with no bun, tomato slices, pickles, and a pile of veggies...mmm.

Tomorrow, he leaves for France...for two weeks. I am thankful he has a good job, but wah that he's gone so much. In a way I might venture to say it's good for us...we get to miss each other, we are always glad to see each other again, and hey, I get the whole big bed to myself sometimes. any of my kids who might read this from far far Abigail, Benjamin, (and Ashley:)), Aaron, Samuel, are NOT out-of-sight-out-of-mind. I miss you all, but guess what? I am proud of each of you...that you have grown up, and can function on your own, that I must have taught you something right, ha. When the local older kids stop in, like Emily, Mirielle, Mali...I get so happy. I feel just like my mother sometimes, the way she would be thrilled when I visited her.

Yes, I am truly blessed.