summer 2011

summer 2011

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

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

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

to love and to cherish...

Oh those words are easy to repeat on the alter, aren't they? Selfishness and bitterness and wanting to be right can creep in, little by little, one thought at a time...and it's easy to see HIS faults, and be so blind to my own. It's such a shame that so many marriages that are begun in hope of lifetimes of love, growing old together...end...or perhaps even linger on, dead and miserable...because of sin.

Anyway. It's not always a picnic, but I am extremely thankful to have a good marriage.

And I'm thankful for my friends too...Kim and I had too much fun shopping and making food for a Memorial Day picnic.

Six of my daughters helped prepare food...

Sonja, Kathryn, Suzanne, Emily, Evelyn, and Mirielle...two of Kim's girls helped too.

So van #1 didn't pass inspection...then #2 didn't pass...needs a new tie rod. So I drove Paul to work again this van #2 can get fixed.

We are talking about how frogs are formed from tadpoles, and now have to look them up so Davian can see...the kids are up and talking so I'm done writing for now....

Friday, May 27, 2016

the struggle is real....

Little Lydia Eleanor came to visit yesterday. It was hot, and she was getting fussy and tired. The older kids usually hog her, but there comes a point when Grandma has to rock her to sleep. I love it, haven't lost my touch, ha.

Sometimes I write my title, then go off an entirely different tangent...forgetting what the heck I was thinking in the first place...this morning, we are getting ready to go to the beach. We can only go for a few hours, because we are a one vehicle family this week, and can only fit properly because Jon is at his friend's house. The other van is still in the shop to the tune of four hundred bucks. It's not finished yet, so I drove Paul to work and back, which takes an hour, then will leave the beach by three, because it's in the total opposite direction of Paul's pick him up by four, because it's a holiday weekend and he gets out early.

And ha, I am complaining? I'm going to the beach!!!! Spring took forever to arrive, and now it's summer weather, 88 today!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

della does nothing.....

I first I was offended when I heard someone say that about me. Now I am merely amused, as it comes to mind every once in a while as I find myself amazed at just how busy life still is at times.

One of our minivans is in the shop, so I have been driving Paul to work in the morning. It's a half hour each way, so that's two's not two hours of backbreaking labor in the hot sun...but still.

With homeschooling three kids and watching sweet Davian...

Isn't he cute? He was frosting the cinnamon rolls with Camille. He's actually no trouble at all. He's darling and sweet and never gives me a hard time about anything.

Anyway...I find myself surprisingly busy. You know, there's always a list of stuff to do, niggling at me, while I sit in the sun and talk to my sister on the phone, ha.

Yesterday afternoon, when Evelyn got home from school, we had a date to plant our little flower garden. But first, we headed to town to buy more potting soil. We bought some flowers too, and put those in alone with wildflower seeds, and filled lots of little pots with soil and seeds...we bought a small splash pool because the big pool is not open yet (but almost!) so very warm here, and the kids like to play with the hose and get wet.

We also stopped in the store to stock up on popsicles.

Then it was time to go pick Paul up from work.

And come home and make burgers to grill outside...oh I love this summer weather.

When I dropped Paul off this morning, I felt sorry for him. He's being dropped off by his wife in a minivan, ha. When the other van is fixed, he can drive that to work, until he gets a truck. Our truck budget is you know, older model...and that made me feel sorry for him...after working all these years, I wish he could just have a nice shiny new one, like all the nice ones in his work parking lot. He has had a couple of good ones over the years, but this makes two of them that have been wrecked in accidents that weren't his fault, and you never get enough to replace them after paying them off.

But I didn't dwell on pity for too long, it's just the influence of our society and the commercials on t.v. It's too easy to forget how fortunate we really are.

Yesterday I made a pot of mocha fudge flavored sugar, just the flavored coffee grounds. There was some leftover after Evelyn and I enjoyed a mug (Paul and Joseph do not like flavored coffee at all), so I put some in the refrigerator to drink this afternoon over ice...and is it pathetic that I am really looking forward to it?

I am picking Evelyn and Suzanne up from school in a little while. Sonja didn't go, it's spring olympics day, and she would just rather be home.

Tomorrow we are thinking of going to the beach! The water in Lake Ontario will be too cold to swim much, but the sun and the sand and the putting the toes in the water...who can complain?

Davian will be here soon, and I will make some breakfast for the kids, have a second cup of coffee, and begin the day.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

life will be better...

Life will be better when I lose this extra fifty pounds, and when I FINALLY get my house clean. And this red furniture that was so charming ten years ago really bothers me now, I'll feel much better when I get rid of it and get something more neutral. When the hot tub gets fixed and the lawn gets mowed, life'll be better.

Who knows, maybe it will, but ha, I'll probably never find out, except for the lawn getting mowed part, then the kids will drag all sorts of cut grass into the house on their feet.

This fine morning, I had to drive Paul to work again. Our perfect drop-the-van-off-at-the-shop in town failed yesterday, because Paul had the only set of keys to that particular his pocket. So...we will drop it off today, and when it's done, we'll exchange it with the other minivan...and hopefully they'll both pass inspection and have nice new oil changes and everything will be fine, ha.

Life will also be better when Miss Camille stops breaking her ankles.

The slightly amusing thing is that six years ago she broke her leg on the trampoline...the old one, without the safety net...

The only thing that does make this slightly amusing is that it popped up in my facebook feed this morning, "share your memories!". Six years ago, almost to the day...

She has to wear a stabilizing boot for three weeks, then have another x-ray to see how it's healing up. The doctor was a gem, he said that kids heal quickly, and the most important thing they need is love...and then he added, "And I can see she's getting that."

So we still have the trampoline, but no more squirt guns or water fights on it. They are pretty good about taking turns on it, too. Miss Cam is taking a long vacation from it in any case.

I wonder how it is that I have had five boys with no broken fact, sixteen kids with only a few here and there...Margaret walked in front of her sister who was swinging on the swingset, fell on her arm...when she was two. Charlotte Claire got her foot stuck between the mattress and wood side of the bottom bunk, then fell...ouch. And then Miss Camille, baby of the family...fell out of the tree and broke her arm, broke the leg six years ago, the left ankle in December, and now the right ankle on Sunday.

phew. Yes, she takes her vitamins, and gets her vitamin D.

So I could do with some mundane-ness around here. We are working on finishing up school, and on getting the pool opened up.

Mali came over with baby Lydia for a visit yesterday afternoon. (while I was picking Paul up from work, the kids pitched in and made taco salad for dinner...they did a fantastic job, and when I walked in and Molly was there, and they had actually made the dinner, oh joy!) Anyway, Mali and I brought Lydia over to visit Grandma, who hasn't seen her since she was a tiny baby, last fall before she went to Florida.

Okay...time to start the day.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

never a dull moment, poor camille....

So yesterday morning I decided that indeed I would call the doctor about her in the middle of the nice sunny day, after doing some laundry and hanging it out, sweeping up the floors, doing some school...I took Miss Cam in to the doctor. I thought it was just a sprain. But to be safe, you know, have it checked. The doctor agreed it's hard to tell without an x-ray, even for doctors, ha. So...down to the x-ray place. They gave Cam a nice little bracelet and some stickers...

And...yes, it's fractured. Dang it. Darn it.

By the time we were done and diagnosed, the orthopedic office was we're going in today at noon.

Poor Camille. I hate to see her hampered by the crutches and the cast and her poor ankles...the other one was broken in December. She broke her arm a few years back, falling out of a tree.

It's not the trampoline's fault this time, it's the fact that they were playing with the hose on it.

And the obvious thing is to get rid of it. But I am not sure that's going to happen...because it's Char's favorite thing in the world. That child jumps for hours a day. Camille was crying when she got hurt, crying because she didn't want to get rid of the trampoline.

Now for Cam, her jumping days are over for a while anyway...

I didn't have the heart to bring the poor child to the grocery store after finding out her ankle was I brought her home, and had Evelyn take care of her. I said to be nice, and to wait on her...I don't want her hobbling around on the crutches with that foot not casted...ugh.

First I had to bring kids to soccer...Joseph usually drives, but we are down a vehicle, and Paul was still at work. Then Suzanne and I went to the dollar store...I bought some little potted flowers for Evelyn's and my garden...and some snacks...then to the grocery store for avocados, lettuce, berries (love when fresh blueberries are on sale!!!)(they don't last long here), dog food, milk, ect ect ect.

Home...ah home. Evelyn had so nicely fed the kids who were home, so I just had to put away the groceries, then go pick kids up from soccer.

This morning, I drove Paul to work so we can take one of the vans in to the shop for inspection. One has a leaky hose, the other a leaky tire, so they are taking turns at the shop this week, and I have to pick Paul up from work later.

I know, I'm not alone. Life is busy sometimes...and I spend my time doing things that need to be done...just like everyone else here on the earth. It isn't always parties and puppydogs, although I did bring Suri when I picked up the kids from soccer...they love when they get in the van and see her.

Monday, May 23, 2016

today is the first day of the rest of your life...

This lovely horizontal rainbow graced the sky over our backyard yesterday, as Paul and the younger kids planted seeds in the garden.

Camille so nicely just informed me that I am "five decades old". Thanks, Cam.

These little ones of mine are getting too smart.

We all know that kids grow up. They grow up fast. Everyone told us it would go by fast. It didn't seem like it when the older ones were all little, when I was in the very thick of the diapers and the clutter and the chaos and the sleepless nights. Then those older ones grew up and went on to college and Ben got joined the Army and got married...and I still had little kids...but this was different: I KNEW these ones would grow up fast. I KNEW the days would fly, and their childhood here at home was temporary. They were slipping right through my fingers, and coming out as adults. Ten of my kids are 18 and over now. The ones at home are 25, 18, 16, 15, 14, 12, 10, and 8. It's still chaotic sometimes (6 of them ARE girls, ha).

But things are different now. I cherish each and every day of their quickly fleeting days as kids who still run barefoot and sings silly songs on the swings, climb trees and pick bouquets of dandelions. My favorite times are the mornings, when I sit in my comfy chair with Char on one side, Cam on the other, perched on the armrests, all covered up by a big blankie...they still tell me their long rambling dreams, or get excited about the endless stretch of summer and all of it's possibilities. They haven't realized yet that we won't do half the things on our summer bucket list, ha.

Mr. Jon The Sarcastic notices these things now. He is still sweet and small, but I know he will be going through that inevitable growth spurt one of these days, he'll go to bed as a little boy and wake up taller than me with hairy legs. He'll be suddenly much smarter than his mother, and will be just too cool for school. But I've been through this before too. I know that his soft kind heart will still be in that tough teenage body, and that he won't really mean it when he answers me back and gives me a hard time. I don't want him to grow up and grow away from these idyllic days, but it will happen. I know that now.

The sun is shining, our trees have birthed their leaves that still sport that brand new spring look. The sky is clear and blue, and the birds are singing. Jonathan is outside with Davian, we haven't started school yet for the day. Camille is playing SIMS (That's educational, right?), because she...hurt her ankle...on the trampoline. Oh dear, yes she did. I am pretty sure it's not broken, but haven't called the dr. yet, it's swollen but not as bad as when she broke the other one in December. Oh never a dull moment, and yes, the trampoline again. But this time they were playing with the hose on it, which is obviously not a good idea.

So she's icing and elevating, and I am dreading making the phone call...

Both of our minivans have to be inspected and have oil changes this week, one of them is leaking coolant. There is a church conference this weekend, and then a picnic on Monday, and guess who is planning and buying the food for that? Kathryn informed me last night that she volunteered me.

I have to catch up on laundry, and we are overdue for a trip to the library. There is less than a half gallon of milk in the refrigerator, and only four slices of bread left. The apples and oranges are gone, and most of the yogurt. We had a nice salad last night and used up the last of the fresh produce.

So I should say that while there's never a dull moment, there are certainly tedious moments, ha. A house doesn't clean itself, nor does it stay clean for any length of time.

But these days of ours are numbered, and whether the tasks are mundane or glorious things like planning our time at the cabin in the woods...I am determined to make the moments count, and not to waste time wishing things were different. I want to savor the minutes of the day like the first mouthful of wine...roll it around in my mouth and delight in each one.

Ha, this sounds all lovely, but when Duke crossed the living room, headed straight for me, then opened his mouth and barfed on the rug near my feet, I wasn't basking in the beauty of THOSE minutes. Or yesterday when I went to blend my coffee (with coconut oil), and the seal from the blender was sprayed in a three to five foot radius, including all over the shirt I didn't want to stain.

Anyway. I am thankful for my days. I am thankful for my husband, and you know, that isn't always just a natural thing. But it is wisdom to overlook a matter, and I have to just overlook things yesterday, he made a big pot of bone broth. It's very healthy. He gets these big beef bones, and boils them with black beans and cabbage and other veggies, to get vitamins in the broth. It simmers on the stove all the live long day, making the house smell like the entrance to a big old apartment building with no ventilation. It's so healthy, he says.

I love him anyway. If you're married, and not totally in love with your spouse, then you need to pray about it, ask yourself what you can do to change that, and work like crazy on making it better. You were in love when you got married, why waste time not enjoying each other? You don't have to agree on everything, but you do have to practice forgiving and forgetting. While we were in France, we really talked about things...marriage is work, especially after so many years.

Anyway...I have a million things to do....

Friday, May 20, 2016

life is just sunshine and puppy dogs....

Duke and Suri...enjoying the new little rug I bought for the deck. Yes, it's just for them.

Summer weather here, finally! We had a fire, and they had s'mores...the puppies were hoping Jonathan would drop a crumb...

Today, I bought a few new chairs for the deck...Adirondack chairs. And the little rug, just for the dogs.

Camille and her marshmallow...

At the store with Miss Camille...oh how life has changed...a few years ago, I had a baby in the car seat, one in the back, and a few...or ten, or 14, walking...

But today, I went with just Suzanne and Camille...

The little girls and I had some fun making lanterns with solar lights and mason jars...they are excited to make the deck a little nicer.

The day went by too fast...we had a fire in the evening, and roasted hot dogs. Miss Cam really wanted to toast a marshmallow for me, but I wasn't going to have one...I am behaving myself these days.

And tomorrow is Saturday...and the forecast: sunny.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

hither, tither, and nigh...

Here and there and everywhere. I had to drive Kathryn to day two of a big test...and I was all by my lonesome, kids safe at home with Joseph and I stopped in at the grocery store, AGAIN, because I needed more avocados...I want to try a recipe my mother-in-law cut from the paper...mousse, from avocado. I'll let you know how it turns out.

Of course I am not the type of girl who just grabs the one thing and exits the store, I had to buy five boxes of cereal because there were coupons on the boxes, and a save $5 if you buy 5 special...the kids love Cinnamon Life. And I decided to buy some steak to put on the grill tomorrow, because yay, Paul is planning to take a few days off from work! He's hardly been home in SO long.

Anyway...I bought a loaf of freshly baked bread, and some more lettuces for salads.

Three of my girls are going on a fun excursion, to a cabin in the woods of West Virginia. They are taking one of our minivans, so I was nice, and took it to the carwash place and vacuumed it, then stopped and filled it up with gas. Then, since Wednesday is half price day at the thrift store...and I was all alone, I stopped...I bought a nice hard covered book, WWII in pictures, for Sam. I bought pink jeans for Char, black shorts for Suze, a nice top for Ev, a white vase form Pier One for two bucks, glass globes for the living room ceiling fan! I was planning on buying some, and yay, 79 cents each! I also got a nice new pillow for the couch, which will be taking a ride in the washing machine. A gray bowl from Target, and a brand new looking pair of winter boots for Miss Char for next year, a pair of swim trunks for Jon, plus a book for me...23 dollars.

Then...home, ah home.

Evelyn didn't go to school because she's going with Emily to buy the food for the cabin. The school nurse called when I was gone, Jon answered the phone, and said that Evelyn isn't feeling well. I was floored that she listened to a 12 year old, but Jon can sound older, he has good phone manners...and Ev did have a headache today...but I would have just told her the truth. I found it hilarious that Jon did that though.

The school has been patient with us and all of our trips...

But life, it's short! It's to be enjoyed and explored and lived to the fullest!

Tonight, Paul and I and some of our older kids are going to a training seminar for a new venue our church fundraising group is taking on this summer...instead of working at the baseball stadium, we are working concerts! Keith Urban, Def Leopard, Snoop Dog, Journey...lots of big names. Because we don't have enough to do, ha.

My mother-in-law is home from Florida for the summer, and is doing well...but her brother passed away last week. She is the last of the five siblings, all four of her brothers have died. I can't imagine. He went in his sleep though, and he was very old...93 I think.

Anyway...we are getting our school year wrapped up here, and are looking forward to summer. I teased Paul that he has to get the garden started, get the pool started, and fix that hot tub...:)

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

love love love my kids

Miss Char and Miss Cam went on the after dinner walk with me last evening...I didn't get a word in edgewise.

Today, Davian is coming over to play. I have to take Kathryn to part one of her big test, we're leaving in a few minutes. Our new coffee maker is wonderful, does coffee really taste better made in a better coffee pot? It seems so.

I ordered the end-of-the-year tests for the homeschooled kids. The year is winding down, yay, summer!

Emily and Evelyn and Sonja are going to a cabin in the woods of West Virginia with four other girls, this week...a nice cabin, with a hot tub and four bathrooms. They have hikes and adventures planned, and on the rainy day...they are staying inside and reading, and watching movies, and playing video games, and drinking coffee. (Emily is a good big sister.)

I need to help Cam wash her hair, she is taking her own showers these days...a far cry from when the kids actually lined after the other...

Monday, May 16, 2016

back in new york....

The airport...was as close as I got to Paris...

I had to choose where to go on our only free afternoon/evening together...and it wasn't sightseeing in Paris...although as we headed toward it, I rather wished I was going to at least get a closeup glimpse of the Eiffel tower.

But I had made my choice...

And it was so moving. I knew it would be sad, but the sheer volume of graves...ten thousand men.

All that free time I had last week was, I'm home...with lots of kids. The two year old is here with us today, and the homeschoolers are having spelling tests and doing some math, the school kids are home. There is coffee brewing, and the dinner is in the crockpot, pulled pork.

We went to Target today, because our coffee maker was malfunctioning. It would turn off after one minute...we would unplug it and plug it back in, and sometimes it worked, sometimes it turned off after one minute of brewing. We are big babies when it comes to our coffee, so I just went and bought a new coffee maker. I also had to get a few birthday gifts for Joseph, he turned 25 today.

We weren't gone long, Miss Annika isn't feeling well today, and I didn't want to tire her out.

Laundry, sweeping, making meals...oh I didn't miss my time off! But I DID miss my kids.

Our poor truck is totaled, poor Paul. By the time we get what it's worth now, and pay it off, we'll never be able to replace it.

And so on. But life is good, and I have much to be thankful for, and if this post is generic and basic, it's because the kids are all here, and there is much going on. :)

Friday, May 13, 2016

happy friday, and goodbye to this nice hotel in france....

We are checking out of what has become my home for the last five days. Paul has to go in to work for a while, so I will be exploring a different small town for a few hours. When he gets out of work, we'll head to the American cemetery and museum at Normandy, Utah Beach.

I'm not exactly positive why I chose to visit there instead of going in to Paris. After all, who doesn't want to see the Eiffel tower, and visit the museums? If we had more free time here, I'm sure we would fit it in. The sad thing about leaving here is that I'll probably never come back.

My last solitary breakfast at the hotel...I enjoyed this tremendously, just sitting and people watching, eating that luscious apricot jam. At home, I avoid sugar like the plague, but here I have been more free with it, I hope I didn't gain 20 pounds.

Yes, we went to a nice French restaurant and ordered...burgers and fries. Neither of us ate the buns, and both left more than half the fries...when you get used to eating less, you can't just stuff it in anymore, which is a good thing. I couldn't even think about dessert. After dinner we walked around the town a bit, it was so lovely. The sun doesn't set here until almost ten p.m..

So today we are going sightseeing, then to our hotel near the airport, near Paris...then tomorrow morning, we head back to New York.

I can't wait to see the kids! I never did find Miss Char a birthday present except for some chocolate...oh well.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

a fairytale....

It's not getting old, being in France. We are really enjoying the time we have together.

We drove to Domfront last evening and explored the castle ruins...built in 1100.

The village across the way is like a fairytale setting.

We got our dinner from the grocery store again, we would rather explore the surrounding villages than sit in restaurants, so we had an on-the-road picnic again. Fresh baked bread, salami, cheese, lettuces, and Coke Zero...though we don't normally eat bread,'s bakery bread in France.

Maybe some people travel all the time, and maybe I'm making too big a deal out of simply being here. But I don't care. I am absolutely and thoroughly enjoying it.

This fine morning, it's sprinkly and foggy and overcast. I set out with a purpose: to find that toy store! I searched for it yesterday on walk #3, and didn't find it. I did find a nice big store, and bought chocolate for home. And a little gift for Katie's baby (Davian is going to have a baby sister!!!!). But no toy store. So I checked google maps and found it this morning...and it was closed. Everything here is closed in the afternoons, and if they open again, they close by 7 p.m. But it was 9:30 in the morning! I walked back to town, turned around and checked again at 10:00, and it was still closed. Whatever. I went to the boulangerie...and yeah, there were a few pastries I wanted to try...I didn't get the eclairs though...ugh. They looked so good.

Anyway. I walked over seven miles average, each day for the last few days. And then today, my phone glitched and didn't record my steps! And, I couldn't take any pictures! I walked a different way and saw new cool things, too.

This is our last night here in this town. Tomorrow we head to our hotel in Paris. He will get out of work early, and we'll have the afternoon to explore. We were considering taking the train into the city, of Paris, but neither of us really like cities, and yes, I would like to say that I saw the Eiffel tower, but other than that? I don't know. We are leaning towards going to the cemetery, the American cemetery at Normandy. I think of all those soldiers buried there, and their mamas never got to come visit their graves, it's the least I can do, is go there and say a little thank you to them.

In a few days, I'll be back home, back in New York state, back to eating no bread, back to sweeping the floors every morning...I can't wait to see the kids, but...wah.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

sunny morning walk...

If I were bolder, I would care nothing of what people think, and just snap pictures like a tourist. But wanting to blend in a little, especially being all alone, I try to act like I belong here, which isn't easy when you are walking down the street in aqua colored sneakers (thank you, Eleanor, ha), a black skirt, (it's too warm for jeans, and I don't do shorts in public, unless they're really long and it's Florida), and my striped sweater. I walked through town this morning and noticed this plain fact: I do NOT fit in here. The French women tend to wear scarves, nice shoes, blouses, sweaters, jackets...very conservative and dressy, no Walmart-y pajama pants to be seen.

I happened upon a street market this fine sunny morning. There were all sorts of things for sale, but I only bought a crepe from the crepe truck, mmm. I also stopped in the store for a bottle of cold water, and now I'm back in my room enjoying both. I was going to stop in the park, but decided to make that my afternoon trip. I walked almost seven miles yesterday, and two and a half today so far, so it balances out the morning croissants and the afternoon crepe. It COULD be worse, easily...I walked by this little boulangerie, and it smelled absolutely heavenly. I knew that if I went in there, I would buy dangerous things, and I would eat every bite, so I just wandered by and enjoyed the aroma.

Being here is like being on a movie set. The guys have purses. The older men wear tweed caps, and some wear tweed jackets, and dressy pants, walking with their canes through the park, like I went into the twilight zone. They carry wicker baskets to put market items in...I mean, when's the last time I saw a man walking with a wicker basket with loaves of bread in it, in New York? Never, that's when.

The people here are also unsmiling. I try to make eye contact and smile when I pass people on the sidewalk, but no can do, especially the women. The men...some of them are too bold, with their looks. So I avoid looking at them. At the market today, an old man with a can bumped against me, and the crook of the cane grabbed my purse handle, it jolted me, because of course I read all about the pickpockets in Paris, and here I am in this nice little town, almost relaxed...I think it was an accident, but still. He smiled and said something I didn't understand, and my wallet is still in there, so I think he meant no harm. Oh, you can take the New Yorker out of New York...but you can't take the New York out of the New Yorker...ha.

Last evening, Paul and I went to the store again, he needed more veggies for lunch. We have carrots and berries and some sort of lettuce, tomatoes, nuts, low carb homemade crackers, and chocolate in our room. It's nice to eat semi-healthy most of the time. Anyway, after the store, we drove back here, and walked to a restaurant in town. It was an Italian place, French style. We had these individual pizzas, oh heavenly yum, the crust melts right in your mouth. He ordered what he thought was the house wine, but it was this yummy mixed drink. We were too full to finish our pizzas, let alone even think about dessert, so we walked back to the hotel, and met up with one of his coworkers in the lobby. We sat and talked a while, had some wine, and relaxed. The sun doesn't set here until like ten o'clock, so it was a late night for us.

We needed this trip, this time together. He is at work all day of course, but still. It has been so nice. It's nice to remember why you married each other. We are thinking of leaving this hotel and getting a room near Mont St. Michel, which is a spectacular castle/monastery on the ocean/English channel...the tide comes in and the castle is surrounded by water. The drawback is that there are hundreds of steps, which is what my particular nightmares are made of.

Today, is Charlotte Claire's tenth birthday. I get the Bad Mom Award for not being home. I know they will have a good celebration without me, but still. Mommy guilt. Kathryn is making cupcakes, and I have a few little things for Char that Jon is going to give her, but ouch.

The thing is, a good marriage is the foundation of the family, and our family will be better off in the long run, at least that's what I'm telling myself, ha. I think I'll go back out and about soon....

Tuesday, May 10, 2016


I won't melt in the rain, right? So I walked to town this morning, to the grocery store again. I HAD to, I needed more chocolate. No, I didn't eat all of what I bought yesterday, but the one I did eat was too wonderful, wonderful enough to walk 2 and a half miles for. It really poured on the way back, but I didn't melt!

I was soaked to the skin though. I had to change my clothes before I lounged around all afternoon...then I decided to go for adventure #2...which was walk to town a different way, and this time, I had a place in mind...the boulangerie, which is of course one of the first words I learned. I also learned how to say, "Deux croissant, s'll vous plait." Yes, that number is two, which is too many croissants for one lady for lunch, but you know...I'm in France.

The sun is out now, but I have walked four and a half miles today, so I am resting with the window wide screens here! I am also drinking coffee, and eating croissants.

I met a friend! Her husband is working here too, she's from Louisiana, and is super nice and easy to talk to. We walked together yesterday, she is expecting her first baby, and was looking for a place to have lunch. Well, here in France, that's not so easy. The restaurants close at 2:00, and open again later. So we found a place that was open, went in and ordered water, then found out they weren't serving food. They negotiated and offered one sandwich from the menu, which wasn't something she could eat, she's gluten free. We ended up at the grocery store, ha.

This has been a good trip in so many ways. Paul worked late last evening, but when he got here, we had to decide what to do for dinner...and ha, we store! Salami, fresh rolls, cheese, a bottle of wine...mmmm. We drove around the country side a bit, it's so lovely, the roads are narrow and twisty, and the cows are grazing...the towns are so old, and it's just cool to be here. We're having a good time together, we needed this. I am a very lucky girl.

Monday, May 9, 2016

on my own in france....

This is me, happy to have survived my first solo outing in the village. I walked 3.48 miles, to the grocery store...there were too many chocolate choices:

(and Paul told me when I was packing that the chocolate there is the same as the chocolate here. I found THAT hard to believe. There's more Hershey's in sight, although we do have Lindt at home. I figured I'd be a fool to bring chocolate from home, it's the one thing that's fun to splurge on, while vacationing, especially in Europe.)

Here's what I bought for my lunch:

Spinach, strawberries, milk chocolate, and dark chocolate. I will try to save some of the chocolate for tomorrow. Try.

I walked to the store, then decided to take a detour through the park on the way back...but I got confused, and had to retrace my steps because I didn't want to get lost.

And I did get scared in the park. Paul and I walked there yesterday, and there were so many people! But yesterday was Sunday, and today...well, today it was quiet and lonely there, and I was all alone...there was a guy pushing a wheelbarrow, collecting garbage, and he was like ten feet behind me for what seemed like an hour, and oh country girl that I am, I got paranoid. Ha. Not terrified, just a little bit freaked out. I didn't pass another soul on the whole trip out of the maze of paths that makes up that park. I was glad to get back out onto the streets again, blending in like I belong here, ha.

I feel conspicuous when I pull out the cellphone and take a picture. I almost wish I had a nice camera with a strap around my neck, full-blown tourist. Then it would be understandable that I would be walking around taking photos, but when I pull out the phone and snap a pic of a house or a building, I feel like I'm doing surveillance or something.

It's raining this afternoon, so I am holed up in my room, but don't feel sorry for me. I just made a huge steaming mug of coffee, because we bring the electric pot with us, and the mini blender (to blend in some coconut oil, yum). I am trying to wait to taste the chocolate, but it's starting to call my name. I have a good book to read, and the window is open, the rain is drumming, and I want to take a nap. Maybe I will.

france. I am in france.

This is me, right now, relaxing in our hotel room, all comfy with pillows, blogging.

I just came back from breakfast, and oh dear, I'm going to have to be careful. Cafe Americano, two cups...with a croissant. Wait, it gets better...two mini crepes with butter and apricot jam...there are these tiny little jars of jam on the breakfast buffet, they are adorable! I had a slice of ham, which was really good, and then I tasted some lemon poppyseed bread. I didn't eat the whole slice, because I had croissant-on-the-brain, which can only be cured by a strong dose of self-denial, or just getting up and getting another one. I chose the latter, because you know, I'm in France. So I got up, and dang it, they were all gone, so I chose a different one, which I thought had raisins in it. Imagine my surprise and delight to discover it was a CHOCOLATE FILLED croissant. No raisins in this thing! Oh dear. It was heavenly, and for me, who avoids carbs like the plague, it was enough, more than enough. So I took care of my plate before finishing up my coffee, just so I wouldn't talk myself into another one.

Paul and I are really enjoying ourselves. The trip over wasn't too bad. I made a friend on the plane, a French speaking English teacher from Canada. She was super nice, and we really hit it off.

Yesterday, we walked four miles.

It's so amazing here. So European, ha.

Paul...he's so funny. He is fun to explore with. He took me out to dinner last night, with some of his co-workers. They are a nice group, they travel a lot. One lady, I totally admire, she's been to China and Japan, and travels all by herself. She's very nice, and down to earth.

My dessert from last night. There are two kinds of people. The kind who love to order dessert, and the kind who just wave it away, too full, they say, as if that has anything to do with it. Paul's co-workers ALL ordered dessert. :)

I like this house.

Anyway. I am heading out, all by my lonesome, to walk around town. I plan to visit the grocery store, of course, and browse up and down the aisles, leisurely, I have all the live long day. I plan to sit on a bench in the little park. I plan to take lots of pictures, but I hate to pull out my phone and snap pictures, it makes me feel so touristy. Of course when we walked yesterday, everyone looked at us anyway...we had made coffee in our hotel room and were carrying our big-a$$ travel mugs, which practically scream that we're American. (the coffees here are so small. Just tiny miniature things)

Anyway. The birds are singing, the sun is shining, and I am setting out for an adventure. There are so many people that I wish were here with me...(and BTW, I do feel guilty being gone...I talked to Kathryn on the phone last night, she said Charlotte Claire is sick, throwing up...then she messaged me this morning that Miss Cam is sick now too...oh dear...Jon with the fever and infection when I was in Norway, now this! I know Kathryn is tenderhearted and will take good care of them, but my heart hurts when I think of them. Maybe I'll buy them a present today...)

Saturday, May 7, 2016

On our way to france

We're at the airport in NYC. I promise to take tons of pictures.

Friday, May 6, 2016

mom, I got in an accident...

Okay. Okay. Are you okay? Yes, she's okay. But Dad's truck, um, it's not so okay.

Emily borrowed Paul's truck to do some work at her house (she built a bench with cement blocks and pieces of wood for her new patio). She was driving through a flashing yellow light and this poor older woman didn't see her, just paused at the flashing red light, and pulled right out in front of Emily. The airbags deployed, the front quarterpanel of the lady's car is all smashed in, she's very lucky the hit wasn't just a bit farther back where she was sitting, it would have been really really bad. The poor woman had just spent the day in the hospital in the big city with her husband who had surgery, it had been a rough day already, then she had this accident...thankfully no one was hurt. I drove up to pick up Emily, and this woman came and hugged me and said how sorry she was, she was ready to fall apart. I do not believe in coincidences, although I don't know why this all happened, I know I was meant to pray for this poor lady. And poor Emily was a bit shaken too. She put on a brave face, but it was quite a crash.

It was an out of the blue event in a seemingly normal day....

Yesterday was Clean-Off-The-Bookcases day. Books are dear to me, the childrens' books we weeded through all carry memories of happy times and cuddles...and quotes..."Ten Apples Up On Top", (All of this must stop stop stop!), Dr. Seuss (Can this go on all day and night, it could you know, and it just might!), and the stacks of Little Golden Books (The Book About God, Elouise Wilkin)...precious little books, but we had way too many. We sorted, and most of them went to the thrift store so other children can be cuddled and read to. At least that's my hope, instead of being handed a tablet or a phone to play with. We kept the Little House books and the National Geographic books, and others that were special to us.

Evelyn had a doctor's appointment in the afternoon, so we stopped to drop off the books afterward. That's a huge accomplishment, to actually drop off the donated items, instead of bagging them up and intending to...but anyway. We had to shop a little bit. Ev found shoes and dresses. I bought a few more books, and a nice shirt for one of the girls. Evelyn has a good eye, and flexible taste. She wears what she likes, and she always looks nice, not caring if it's in style or not.

We stopped at BJ's for chicken, pepperoni, milk, and a bag of Dunkin coffee.

Home...ah, home...Mali was there with sweet Lydia Eleanor...

Oh, Gramma loves her!!!

Mali had to leave for work, we were watching baby, and making a big dinner...I cubed up six pounds of chicken breast, tossed it into lemon juice/olive oil with fajita seasonings, and browned it up in olive oil, we opened up some black olives, sliced up green and red peppers, cut some cheese, warmed up rice, steamed the corn, ect.

Then the phone call from Emily. Okay, Em, no problem, I'll be right there to get you. On the way out the door, I grabbed a Hershey's milk chocolate bar with almonds from the pantry...stress makes me want chocolate. But I knew that if I opened it I would eat the entire four ounce bar, so I waited. Nope, Em didn't want want any. So I decided not to open it, and it was a good victory for me. Mirielle came over when we got home (Em came here for a bit) and joined me for dinner, because the rest of the family had already eaten and it was all cleaned up. (Em's accident was over a half hour away from here).

So. Keep that hair clean, you never know when you have to jump in the car and go rescue someone.

And here's the thing: when you have a lot of kids, and a lot of vehicles, these things happen. Poor Paul, his trucks have gotten so banged up through the years...Ben flipped the old Ford, Margaret and Abigail both drove it off the road...and there have been fender benders and nicks and bumps, mostly with his trucks. This one's a Nissan, and I hope it's not totaled because we couldn't replace it for what we would get for it. Oh well. Everyone was okay, and that's the important part...I told the poor lady that, not to worry, at least everyone was okay.

And tomorrow...France. I haven't packed yet...(and this weekend, the kids have a soccer weekend, and are staying in our camper, so I have to help them pack, and drive them there tonight, and the camper hasn't been cleaned out yet this season....) Never a dull moment. But things have changed so much, it's not nearly as busy as it was in the old days...

Fourteen years ago..eight older kids were in school, these were the ones home during the day. Margaret was home too because she was in kindergarten the next year when Robert was "born". These were kids number 10, 11, 12, and 13, Kathryn, Evelyn, Suzanne, and Sonja. (the crazy part is that I had four more after this).

Anyway. Time to get moving...

Thursday, May 5, 2016

rain rain go away....

This is my thoughtful blogging face, with my four year old glasses on. The new ones should come in next week, and yay, should work a little better, as these old ones are getting blurry, ha.

It's not raining right now, but the weather forecast for our small town in France, well...rain. I hoped it would change, and maybe it still will, but when I checked Monday, it made me decide to order a new jacket from Target. The estimated arrival date was next Monday, and we leave for France on Saturday...then I checked this morning, and yay, my jacket is coming today! Because rain or shine, I am not going to sit in my hotel room all day while Paul is at work.

Davian is here playing with the kitten. Joseph is making a second pot of coffee, and Kathryn is doing laundry. The little girls had a surprise sleepover at their big sister Emily's house last night. Em is done with classes for the summer, but is teaching a nursing class once a week. She is very busy now trying to garden and landscape, and putter around her house, work on catering a few events.

This afternoon I have to bring Evelyn in for a check-up so she can get working papers, she is applying for a summer job. She has been learning to drive, and is taking her driving test next month, along with Kathryn. While we're out, we might check out the thrift store, Evelyn loves browsing with me.

Abigail is texting me from Norway, and my brother is stopping over for a visit and to get a cooler I borrowed a while off I go...:)

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

coffee and no cookies....

As per Sonja's birthday request: chocolate chip cookies with pink frosting. I also made a huge cookie, which hasn't been cut into yet...I baked all of the triple batch of dough yesterday instead of refrigerating some and baking it in intervals, which translates into "kids eating refrigerated cookie dough like there's no tomorrow".

And I didn't have a single bite. Not a lick of dough, not a chocolate chip. Do I win a prize? Do I automatically lose 10 pounds? Nope. But the kids sure liked them, and Sonja was pleased.

Our living room is still in gym mode, the furniture moved out of the way and the floor covered in mats. Miss Char is in gymnastics heaven.

I need to go shopping today. We are running out of milk and bread and cheese and yogurt and bananas and apples and fresh veggies. We need groceries for when I'm gone, and I need things to bring with me like nuts and bars and maybe some beef jerky.

So I'm going to cut some coupons, get these guys moving on some school work, then go out and about so I can come home and see this sweetie:

Miss Lydia Eleanor! She's been on vacation with her mommy and daddy in Myrtle Beach, so we have missed her! I was in D.C. when she was here least, so it's been a while. I have another granddaughter, out on the west coast, Miss Anya Jade, she is adorable. She is coming on an airplane this summer to visit us, and mmm, I can't wait! One of the things I envision someday: a grandchild coming in the door and racing to see Grammy. But for now, I have my other little sister's grandchildren are huggy and sweet too. I need to go out and about...I have things to return to Target, and maybe look for a jacket...I want a rain coat with a hood that is small, doesn't wrinkle, and isn't huge or too small...thankfully my mother-in-law gave me some really comfy sneakers when we visited her in Florida. I am definitely bringing them to France. She also gave me some comfy sandals, which I need to wear for a bit to see if they STAY comfy, before I pack them. I haven't packed yet, haven't even decided what suitcase/s to bring. I need to cut some coupons.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

cookies, birthdays, forts, and a kitten....

Today is Miss Sonja Kathleen's 14th birthday. Now the five-girls-in-a-row are 19, 18, 16, 15, and 14. We went on an outing yesterday afternoon...they eye doctor for Suzanne, Jonathan, and I...but that's the only place we went, because yours truly left her wallet on the table next to her chair. So after we got home, the whole van load of us (Kathryn and Sonja and Char and Cam went too), Miss S.K. and I went to town, just to get a few things at the little store there...since it was the day before her birthday, I stopped at Dunkin so she could get a yummy drink. I also got her a pink frosted donut with sprinkles. I got a large iced coffee...and surprise! The cash register was acting up, so our order was free!

Sonja requested chocolate chip cookies with homemade pink I made a triple batch.

I started on the frosting, but decided to take a writing
break first...

The kids are building a huge fort in the living room today.

They moved furniture to have "gym class".

We only have one kitten left...she's spoken for, but we're keeping her a few more days so mama kitty can adjust.

Jonathan and I have been taking our walks, three days in a row! Last evening, we walked before dark, and was lovely...

Anyway...I'm looking forward to getting my new reading glasses. They'll probably come in when I'm in France...and guess what...? Charlotte Claire turns ten years old when we're there, too. oops. I am kind of glad I didn't realize that little fact when I was considering whether to go or not. It's bad enough to miss their soccer tournament, but a ten year old birthday without your mommy? I know she'll be all right, but oops.

My living room is a disaster...waffleblocks, wooden blocks, the forts, lots of blankets and pillows. Jonathan is vacuuming his room, the other kids are making towers and playing, "Sorry!"

They grow up too fast, and I love when they play. They've been to the moon today, and visiting other planets, and they even brought some of the animals with them. They lured them into their fort with treats and kitten chow, and every once in a while, a cat would escape and they would go fetch it again. Davian is in love with the poor kitten...he's pretty gentle with it, but he really likes to cart it around.

In the midst of this seemingly normal week, I am elated about our trip to France. My head is swirling....passport, sneakers, toothbrush, phone charger...then there's the fact that 8 kids will be here all week...(not exactly kids, Joseph is almost 25 and Kathryn is 18), but they will need food and meal plans, ect.

But today is Sonja's birthday, so I shall go finish that pink frosting, and decorate some cookies, as per her request. I don't even know yet what's for dinner, oops.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

and so ends another lovely sunday....

Rain? What rain? I have to remind myself this: I will not melt. The walks are so necessary! I can think about things, and breathe the country air, and when the evil hill is difficult, I KNOW I need to tackle it every day so that it loses some of it's evil.

We made Chinese food today using chicken we cooked yesterday. Evelyn chopped cabbage, onions, green peppers, and sauteed in olive oil with salt and pepper. I deboned the chicken breast, and chopped it up. Evelyn boiled pasta, drained it, and added it to the cabbage mixture, along with soy sauce and sugar, with some seasonings. We made a pan of basmati rice with butter, too. We heated the chicken in olive oil, then added orange ginger sauce. Okay, it wasn't as yummy as takeout, because the chicken wasn't battered, but it was good, and way more healthy. We had it as a big late lunch, and sat at the table and solved the world's problems for a while. Dinner was therefore just random snacks. Camille had an apple dipped in caramel, and some pretzels, and some granola, for example. We had some 10 calorie jello, and I had pistachio nuts. I am not hungry right now, but I want to eat something...but I won't.

The kittens, oh our dear little kittens...we only have one left now.

Two nice people came here today and each took one kitten. Our friend Adrian took one last night, so one little kitten awaits her new home with one of Suzanne's friends. Phew, we successfully navigated having cute kittens and not keeping one. I really really wanted one, and honestly, one of the older girls cried when one of the orange tigers left today. You do get attached, and they are so darling.

So I'm spending too much time googling things to do in Paris...we only have on afternoon/evening there, so I'm thinking this: a glimpse of the Eiffel tower, and a picnic somewhere...a bottle of wine and some good bread, or maybe a fresh crepe.

Anyway...tomorrow is Monday, and let's be thankful to wake up, and be alive, and have the grumbling!