summer 2011

summer 2011

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

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

Thursday, June 30, 2016

sunshine and happiness...and sand

We went to the beach!

Miss Camille...she forgot her bathing suit top, so her resourceful sister let her wear her looked like a suit top...mostly. Evelyn and I heard two teenagers out in the water commenting about it, so Evelyn glared at them, like a good big sister, ha.

Kathryn Grace...

I don't take pics of the girls in their suits, once they get we don't have many photos from today, because there were the four teenagers (Kathryn 18, Evelyn 16, Suzanne 15, Sonja 14), and Jon, Char, and Cam. I decided to post this one of me because...well, just's what I look like.

We cooked hot dogs and hamburgers over charcoal in the grill on the beach, then the kids roasted marshmallows. They didn't go on the playground, they didn't want to...ouch, they are growing up. They did play in the sand, and in the waves...Lake Ontario rustles up some nice big waves sometimes, and it was a blast. When I'm out in the water, I still find myself scanning the shore, making sure everyone is being supervised, and ha, we are all out swimming! There is no baby in a pram, no toddler at the water's edge with Daddy...old habits, you know.

The beach is just plain fun. The weather was absolutely perfect, warm but not overly hot, breezy, sunny...

As you can see, the fun begins well before we arrive at the beach. A carton of ice cream: $2. A 12-pack of cones: $1. The ice cream scoop: $3. Ice cream cones in the van for seven kids for only $6: priceless. And shh, Sonja was holding a few pizzas. I did not eat any pizza. I licked off the ice cream scoop, and yes, my girls took pictures of me standing there in the parking lot with the empty container and the scoop, getting the last bit out. Hopefully we were quite invisible to other shoppers.

Anyway. We are home now, and the kids have showered and gotten into comfy clothes. We had strawberries, picked fresh yesterday and sliced, nice and cold...bowls of them, yum.

We picked 16 pounds yesterday.

Our pool has been's getting clear!

Tomorrow is another busy day. I have an appointment in the morning, then have to get flea stuff for the animals, and a few gifts...birthdays, graduations...and a friend of ours is coming over tomorrow evening to celebrate his birthday with us, and Jon is going to make cupcake or something..., and the older girls are all going to a friend's graduation party.

Saturday, Paul is coming home from France! The older girls are all invited to Emily's.

Sunday, we are supposed to go to a park to celebrate the 4th of July, watch the symphony, and fireworks.

Anyway. It's busy, but I love summer. I love watermelon and drying clothes outside, and having fires, and the hot sunshine on my skin. I love getting up early and drinking coffee on the deck. I love when the kids get up one by one, all rumpled and rested. I love making iced coffee with Evelyn, and iced tea with Kathryn. I love watering the flowers and taking care of the pool, walking barefoot in the dewy morning grass.

Oh, so I had gained seven and a half pounds on vacation...I am still up four, but a better way to look at it: I lost three and a half, ha. It's so hard. But today I kept active, and ate lots of veggies, no bun on my burger, ect. I am easing back into my nice way of eating, and hopefully staying there a while.

I'm not going to obsess about it. I know I would be the happiest girl in the world with no trials or troubles, if I were thin. I would be on top of the world. Honestly, I was on the beach today, noticing the girls in the bikinis, so un-selfconscious-seeming, and I thought, if they can wear that, they can wear anything they want to...just go into a store, and pick out what they like...not worrying about fat arms (or batwings!), protruding bellies, love handles...I know it's not really true that being thin and in shape automatically equals happiness, just as having millions of dollars doesn't guarantee it. But what if you had BOTH!??! Just kidding.

The body is just a temporal thing, and the way we fret over it just shows how little we understand the promises God has in store for us. The only thing truly of value is that we get oil in our lamps, treasures in heaven, that we get wisdom and understanding in our situations, things of heavenly worth. All the riches and the thinness and the cool gadgets and the big beautiful houses...they aren't bad things, but to pine for them, to waste one's life gathering things that moths destroy and rust decays, how sad is that?

Anyway, enough preaching for tonight, I'm tired. The princesses and Evelyn are going on tomorrow morning's outing. Oh, I just remembered, we need more coffee. And bottled water for Evelyn's new Keurig.

Good night.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016 can't buy happiness...ha

Money by itself maybe, but this new iPad mini makes me happy. My son Aaron surprised me at the cabin, early birthday present...he bought a wireless keyboard to go with it, so I can still type when my teenagers are hogging my laptop.

Also, Grandma bought Evelyn an early birthday gift, a Keurig with lots of little coffees. Evelyn is our resident coffee queen, so she's pretty happy.

An animal has been getting into our garbage every night, knocks a can over and feasts. It's not our dogs, because it happens after they are in for the night. Just another thing for me to do every morning as I go out to take care of the pool, which is almost clear, yay!

Last night I let Char and Cam share the big comfy bed, and if Miss Cam kicked me once, she kicked me a thousand times. I feel more tired this morning than I did before I went to bed last night.

I am hoping to see Ashley and Anya one last time before they fly home to Washington state tomorrow. Benjamin headed back last Saturday because he had to work this week. Saying goodbye is not my favorite. As I watered the tomato plants this morning, in the yard all by my lonesome, except for poor Duke who loves me, I noticed how quiet it was. It hits me hard sometimes, the sentimentality of the past, the days when I watered the garden with a baby on my hip and a toddler or two squashing the plants, "helping", of course. I have had times lately when I have actually gone swimming all alone. I walk through the house announcing my plans to go in the pool, one else wants to. Rewind a few years, and I had to use Going In The Pool as the huge carrot to dangle to get them to help clean up in the mornings, before our summer fun things would begin each day. It was always a big production, swim diapers in the later years, and before they were invented, just making sure their diapers were clean...getting them sunscreen-ed and in their floaties and gathering up a dozen or more towels...sometimes we would swim when the little ones were napping, and that was blissful, because even with those floaties on, I had at least one of them in my arms and all of them in my sight.

It has been a long road, having so many kids, but the road is getting lonelier now. In the yard today, I could almost see them all, climbing the trees with their long braids, making forts and chasing with the Super Soakers. The two littlest girls, and Jon, still play out there of course, but it's different now...there aren't nine kids under age ten, ha. The morning work is now a far cry from the utter craziness in the past, the diapers and bottles and nursing babies, getting two small ones in the high chairs and making breakfast for all the rest...even serving cereal and juice was, like everything else, a big production. From the mountain of laundry in the laundry room doorway (that was just the bedding and the stuff that wouldn't fit in the overflowing hampers), to the dishes that never were completely finished, to the floors which I worked so hard to keep clean, I have never been able to stand sticky, which is rather ironic...I don't like crumbs on the floor, or dirt either. So those days were beyond busy, but the small, medium and large children who graced me with their exuberance for life, who have blessed me far beyond what work and toil they caused, have grown up and our house is..different. It is still a busy house, but with fewer small children and no babies except for the grandchildren and others who visit.

Here's the thing: I started writing this morning while it was still it is not quiet. Jon is going to mow part of the lawn, Kathryn did the front yesterday. Evelyn is up, the little girls are chatting away, asking when we are going to Lake George, we have complimentary amusement park tickets through a homeschooling program. I am going to sign off and talk to them...:)

giving them the time of day....

My two little 15th and 16th...oh we had fun tonight! The older kids were all busy, and Paul is in France again.

We went to the library, just the three of us...Charlotte Claire,

Camille Anaya.....and me.

After eating our yummy and healthy-ish dinner, we headed to Target.

We wandered and browsed and looked at the toys. I let them get new wipe-board markers, and they helped me choose a wallet case for my phone. They got slushies, and I got a Starbucks medium roast with two shots of sugar free mocha, and cream. We bought squirt-y whipped cream, and strawberries, and cherries.

Our plan was to watch The Hunger Games. These girls read Naruto and Full Metal Alchemist, and were fascinated by what they heard about The Hunger Games. Well, I should have known soon as Prim was chosen as tribute, Charlotte Claire had a bad tummy ache, and wanted to watch, "Charlie and Lola". So we did, and she felt better immediately. I had forgotten how intense the movie was, but Cam still wants to watch it. Char said, "Maybe when I get older, like 11 or 12, I can watch it." They have no idea how cute they are...

Our fun night was only part two of a wonderful day...a few of us went into the small city this morning, and got more pool shock and chlorine tablets from Walmart, which also included getting a pair of swimming goggles,bananas and a few bags of ice (snow cones!), cucumbers and peppers and celery. Then a quick trip to Marshall's, where we got a new waterbottle for Kathryn, because the nice one I got her for graduation fell off the dock at camp, and disappeared. I also let Char get a pair of cute shorts, a new top, and she helped me pick out a new outfit for Cam too. I also bought Sonja K. a Real Madrid soccer ball, and a little gift for Anya. was time to go to our friends' house for a pool party! Evelyn and I went, with Jon, Char, and Cam. The other teenagers stayed home, which I didn't love, but sometimes it's easier to let them do what they want. Anyway, the gathering was so sister's daughter, son-in-law, and grandson from Australia were there, as well as three of her daughters and their kids, making the number of friends I played with in the pool go up exceptionally high. I had seven little friends today! I like sharing my sister's grandkids, ha.

It was a beautiful day, and we fully enjoyed the pool, but it was over too soon, as Evelyn kept reminding me that they had to be somewhere by 5 o'clock.

Here's the thing: Char and Cam had a really good day. The kept thanking me for all the fun. We did have fun. But mostly, I listened to them. Plus, we looked up houses for sale in the Adirondacks, and oh they love looking at pics of houses...they like talking about the houses they are going to live in someday, and critiquing the ones for sale.

Now they are all tucked in to bed, and I am headed there soon. It has been a busy day and I didn't sleep enough last night because of the concert...the concert was busy-ish, but the hard part was that it was so hot and humid. We wear black t-shirts, and black baseball type hats, oh hot and sweaty, how I hate thee! It was fun, of course, but it costs me something to do those events, mostly my feet ache like crazy by the time it's over.

Ah well...when you're falling asleep at the keyboard, you had better get to bed.

Monday, June 27, 2016

cabin in the vacation ever...

One day I went on a walk while three of my daughters were going on a run...they caught me taking pics and one of them yelled, "That better be a selfie, Mom!" So here's my selfie.

And don't let that fool you, I wasn't Miss Healthy while on sir. I gained seven and a half pounds, in one week. And that's not even eating a bun on the burger or a bowl of Golden Grahams, although I was tempted. Nor a Poptart, or a beer. I did drink some wine, and there were M&M's involved, and there may have been a bag of caramel creams...and popcorn two nights...ugh.

I am not getting paid to say that I love Oreo cookies. I never eat them, but on vacation, I had a few. This particular variety had three cookies glued together with a layer of chocolate middle, and a layer of vanilla middle. This particular day was fantastic, Mirielle had presented us with a bottle of wine out on the dock...she came down laden with glasses, and passed it out...just a small bit, but you know me, give me some wine, and I need a cookie to go with it.

I grilled burgers...

With Sonja.

Ben, Ashley, and little Anya...Benjamin tricked me, said he couldn't come this year...but he really couldn't come this year...until after he had booked tickets for just Ashley and Anya to come, which was a surprise for the kids...then he was able to double up on his apprenticeship classes, and get done early, so last minute he booked a ticket for himself, all on the downlow. When he appeared on the steps of the cabin, I jumped up and down and screamed...I was SO happy to see him. My big boy, my oldest son...all grown up and living on the other side of the country, oh it was so nice to be with him...Ashley and Anya stayed on for a few extra days and are coming to visit me this week:)

With Anya...

Camille with Anya...

Lydia can stand up now...and Anya liked cuddling with Cam.

The two granddaughters, Lydia and Anya. Cousins.

Paul with our five sons...Aaron, Samuel, Joseph, Benjamin, Paul, and Jonathan in the front.

Emily with Camille...

It's so beautiful up there...

I started writing this a few hours ago, but Samuel was still here, and oh how he procrastinated leaving the house to head back to base. It's a seven hour drive, and he intended to leave last night and drive during the night, but decided to leave this morning instead. So of course I couldn't sit here blogging while he lamented how much he was going to miss the dogs, and home, ha.

Our time at camp was magical, as nice as I had anticipated. I am trying to get back to normal this week, working a concert tonight, taking someone for a driver's test in the morning, and another one at the end of the week, as well as this and that and the other thing, trying to eek out bits of actual summer vacation between doing things I have to do, ha.

Maybe I'll post more pictures when I get a chance...for now, have a happy Monday, bless others and God will bless you.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

home home home...

Ah, home...nothing like coming in the door with not only a week's worth of clothes, bedding, laundry, what's left of the food...PLUS groceries, because Evelyn and I stopped and shopped on the way home...we also went to Walmart for pool shock and khaki shorts for Ev because we are working a concert on Monday, and khakis are required.

Home...the The dogs are home, Paul picked them up, then went to the airport, he's headed to France.

Samuel is in town picking up pizza and wings...

We are babysitting baby Lydia.

Sam is home until tomorrow night...

And here's something fun: Benjamin surprised us and showed up at camp! He came from Washington state, with Ashley and little Anya...I knew the girls were coming, but was keeping it a surprise for the family, then Ben tricked me and came!

It was too much fun, but it's busy here, Lydia is fussing, and the pool needs tending to again so the filter doesn't clog...

Maybe tomorrow I'll find a minute or two to blog...

Sunday, June 19, 2016


Early in the morning at the cabin, only the sound of the water lapping against the dock. Paul is out fishing, but no one else is up yet.

It's nice for me to see Paul enjoying himself so much. We have his brother's boat for the week, which belonged to their dad, and it's special for Paul to use it. When we got here yesterday, with the two little girls, after unloading and putting away the cold stuff, we went for a ride down the lake. He and Charlotte Claire fished while Cam and I stayed out of their way and hoped they would catch something. They didn't. But they have caught a few little sunnies from the dock.

Today, lots of kids will be coming up, and it won't be so quiet anymore, but it will be a joyful noise, at least to this mama's ears. My grown-up kids have grown up into such nice adults, they're my friends, ha. I am a very lucky girl.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

cabins in the woods!!!! bye!!!

Taking a break from the packing, having a light beer with lime...on the deck, while grilling steak, with Sam. :)

Yes, that is a boat in our yard! It's Paul's brother's boat, and we are borrowing it for our trip to the woods. Paul is beside himself with happiness, he has always loved going out on the boat. I have good memories of accompanying his dad out on fishing expeditions, way back when. Anyway, he has been sorting his fishing lures and fishing poles and getting everything ready, while I pack everything else, ha.

This isn't packing, this is filling the back of the van with bags of groceries, ha. We still have all the fridge and freezer stuff to put in the coolers, and then there is bedding, and towels, and and and.

The dogs are going on vacation too, to Paul's other brother's house. Duke, poor Duke...he's old, his nails are too long, I pondered bringing him in to get them trimmed, but the old guy doesn't leave the deck but a few times a day, everything is a chore when you're an old dog...

Anyway. We are leaving in a few hours, so I thought I would take a few minutes to say goodbye, for now, I'm not sure if I will be blogging there or not....

Friday, June 17, 2016

tomorrow we we can say that tomorrow we're going...!

That was the chant of the smallest child yesterday...when she wakes up this morning, she knows that tomorrow we are going to the cabin in the woods. We'll be leaving as if we are a small family, Paul driving the truck towing the boat, with Charlotte Claire as co-pilot, and the two dogs in the back seat...they are going to visit his brother for the week, because unfortunately, no pets are allowed at the camp.

I will be driving the old minivan, the one with no air conditioning, with Miss Camille as my companion. I am leaving the nicer van with A.C. for the kids to drive up on Sunday, after their youth conference is over, because there are more of them and it gets hot in the back of the old van.

So for one afternoon, we will be like a small family, except for the sheer volume of stuff we are dragging with us...

By Monday evening, the camp will be full to the rafters with the lot of us.

Today, I will do lots of last minute packing, maybe take Char for a hair cut, stop at the post office, fill the van with gas, get air in that one tire that seems to lose air.

Our pool is finally getting there, you know, when the pool gets clean and clear and you just want to jump in when you look at it...and we are leaving for vacation. Because of the cottonwood trees making it snow cotton, we can't leave the filter running unless someone is cleaning the filter basket every hour or so, or the motor strains, so wah.

In the midst of the hurrying and scurrying to get ready for camp, I am working on being conscious that these days are my life...and to sit and gather my wits, and enjoy the days, enjoy the time with Sam home.

Yesterday Evelyn and I did some big shopping, phew. We started at Target, to get Jonathan sneakers and jeans. You know how that goes, we got a few more things too.

Then Price Chopper...the girl at the register was astounded at how much we were buying...then we went to BJ's and bought more. Chicken and burgers and potatoes and veggies and fruits and muffins and nuts and popcorn and cheese and pepperoni and bacon and eggs and coffee and lots of half and half....

I drove Evelyn to school this morning for her tests, after doing lots of dishes and cleaning up the kitchen. The kids do help, but when so many people live in one house, the mess happens fast. Yesterday I washed Jon's clothes and packed them, and helped the little girls pack theirs. My stuff is mostly packed, and the other kids take care of their own stuff now. I have a stack of towels and sheets ready to go, and things like bandaids and medicines I hope we don't need.

Mali might be coming for a visit today with baby Lydia, Sam really wants to see her. I'm not sure what else is going on, but it will be a good day.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

don't forget to live life!!!

We set out for the berry patch yesterday, me protesting that I had too much to do, but my nice kids wanted me along. The berries weren't ripe yet, so we went out for ice cream...

Cupcakes for the graduation party...

And now I am going to talk to my's so nice today, I will live life now and write about life later...ha.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

who in their right mind....?

Would schedule a graduation party...on a Wednesday...three days before leaving for a week in a cabin?

A crazy woman, that's who.

Never mind that I have towels to gather and wash, clothes to pack, meals to plan, shop for, and pack...that is all on hold until tomorrow. Today, we are going to the berry patch down the road for strawberries...

I made lots of cupcakes last night, with the help of Charlotte Claire and Camille. This is sometimes harder than just doing it myself, but it makes it fun. I didn't have enough cocoa powder, so I substituted a can of chocolate sweetened condensed milk for the two cups of milk, adding a splash of half and half in to make up for the other two ounces, as the can was 14 ounces. Fuzzy math. I also added two cups of boiling just brewed coffee instead of the water the recipe called for, and oh dear they are good. They aren't dense and chocolate-y like the ones I usually make, but they'll do.

I won't list the things I have to get done today, but believe me, it's enough.

The things I have to do are running through my head, and when I finally fell asleep last night, the newsreel of items I need for the camp, Jon's first youth conference weekend (does he have enough clean clothes? And he lost the only pair of sneakers he owns, left them in his friend's van....).

This fine morning, I drove Suzanne to school for a Living Environment Regents, then welcomed Davian. I had coffee with my son Samuel (yay, Sam's home!!!!!), then made French Toast and eggs for breakfast. I am at the point now where I KNOW I have tons of stuff to do, but am procrastinating starting in on it.

Maybe I'll send the kids to the berry patch with money and stay home and do sit here, ha.

Yesterday after picking Ev up from school, Suzanne and I, and Evelyn, went to Aldi for some fruit, eggs, salad stuff...then we went to the fabric store, not for fabric, but for one of those cool coloring books for adults, and new markers, for the cabin in the woods.

Sam went to the school to pick Suzanne up from her test, and now they're bye for now.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

life happens...

Sam was supposed to be here this fine morning, all hopped up on coffee from his long drive through the night from Washington, D.C. But when he went to sign out last night, at a few minutes after midnight, his leave packet was lost. There was not a thing he could do. So he went to bed. This morning, it was found, and he's getting on the road right about now. I told him that God must have thought he needed to find some irritation in himself, and he said, "ha ha, Ben told me the same thing."

Life happens. Day in, day out, things don't go the way they are supposed to go. Flipping out about it isn't going to help, but knowing for certain that God causes all things to work together for the good for those who love him is a help.

Now when these horrible things happen like the shootings in Orlando, I have no answers. I cried, when I first heard. I cried when I read the texts from the young man hiding, texting, "Mommy, I am going to die." It breaks my heart. It's just awful and sad.

There is a lot of sadness in this world, things I can't do anything about. But the things I can work on are the little things in my life that come along, chances to live what I believe.

So yesterday...we went to the doctor...and Camille got her boot off!

We're happy! She has to take it easy. The doctor said she isn't allowed to run around or beat anybody up yet, but she can swim, which is excellent news, as we are going to the cabin in the woods, in four days!!!

After our appointment, the whole slew of us filed out of the waiting room...Evelyn, who had a half day of school, Kathryn, Jonathan, Char, Cam, and Davian (Davian didn't want to leave yet, he wasn't done reading his magazine). We had to go to the grocery store, with Cam hobbling around saying how "weird" her foot felt, Jon asking if we really needed so much stuff, the little girls guilting me into buying them those cute little miniature pies, Kathryn helping Davian pick out some bubbles...two carts full of stuff...because tomorrow night, we are having a graduation party for Kathryn with the church youth group, and because Sam is going to be here, and he'll want to see all of his friends...

It's crazy to have a party in the midst of packing. Simply crazy. Packing is just on the back burner, and I'll resume Thursday, as I also do all the shopping for next week. I have to compartmentalize things, and just deal with cleaning up the house and planning for tomorrow. I have to bake a cake, marinade the meat, clean off the grill, and don't get me started about cleaning up for company...our kitchen table is the packing dumping place, and it all has to be moved now.

But here I sit, ha.

I drove Evelyn to school this morning for a New York state regents exam and have to pick her up in a few hours.

The floors have been swept, laundry hung up and more put in the washer, and the living room straightened up. The pool filter is on, the basket cleaned out, and I took the dogs out and fed and watered them.

But anyway. After our grocery shopping expedition yesterday, it was time to take the cats in to the small city for their rabies immunizations...the dogs are still good until next year. Of course Old Kitty was no where to be found. We looked and looked, but he didn't show up until after we were resignedly headed on our way with just Kettler kitty.

The line for shots was all the way to the sidewalk, probably 40 dogs and maybe 40 cats there. The dogs were all tugging and barking and sniffing, well most of them. There was one huge fat lab, as calm as she could be. Our own kitty was stressed out, she just watched everything from the carrier.

Charlotte Claire liked carrying the kitty carrier, but once the buckle on the strap came undone, and down went kitty, carrier and all. oops. It was a slow fall though, slipped through her hands as she tried to catch it, so she slowed it down to a gentle THUNK. took a few hours, then we were home again. I stopped and got the kids ice cream on the way home because they had been so good and helpful...

Home. I hadn't had dinner, and opted out of an ice cream cone, although I did end up finishing Char's, couldn't waste it, ha. I made a few salads with chicken on them, and we had an eight o'clock supper...Joseph and the other kids were at soccer, and Paul had eaten all by himself. Crazy days.

After dinner, I decided to get a start on cleaning up for company, so I vacuumed the couches, between the cushions, then the stairs and foyer, and here and I put the vacuum cleaner away, I smelled something horrible...the little girls smelled it too, so we started frantically searching for a cat poop...but oh no, it was Suri! Bad dog! She had rolled in something! Oh disgusting! I had to give her a bath, and I had just sanitized the tub! Camille had just finished wiping down the leather couch, which stinky Suri was lying on. rrr. So into the tub she went. By the time she shook herself off all the way from the bathroom through the kitchen on the way out to the deck, we had lots of water to wipe up. Finally I got to sit down and put my feet up, at nine o'clock, after throwing a whole 'nother load of towels in the dryer from cleaning up the mess.

But Suri is glossy and sweet smelling. I tried to lure Duke into the bathroom for a bath after Suri already totally messed it up, but he wasn't falling for it, no way no how, even when I told him, "Treat! Treat!" He just sighed, and put his head on his paws.

And I wasn't in the mood to drag his butt in there.

This morning, I am thankful for coffee, as I have been awake since 0-dark-thirty, as Emily likes to say. I am thankful that I am going to be with my family next week. Aaron is flying in to Boston Saturday morning and driving up to the camp. I am like a little kid at Christmas....

Monday, June 13, 2016

being the mom....

I wish I were one of my kids, instead of the mom, sometimes. I remember when I was a kid, and my mother would make pancakes in her iron frying pan. She made huge pancakes, none of the cute little ones that I make for my own kids. Each one was as big as the pan, and we each had one, often struggling to finish it. She stood at the stove, frying them up, and we ate them fresh from the pan, as they were done. The last one was for her, she sat and at it as we were finishing up. She was always last. When I had kids, and I made them pancakes, I stacked them up on platters and had them wait, so we could all eat together. But as I stood at the stove, I realized what "being the mom" is.

It's seeing what needs to be done, and recruiting help to do it.

It's always having things to do.

It's making sure things get done.

It's encouraging, forcing, cajoling, and to do things they don't always want to do.

It's getting out of bed in the morning and forgetting my own problems, as I focus on what the kids need for the day.

It's spending hours on my knees (literally and figuratively) praying for the wisdom to deal with those flukey little things that surprise me every single time, and also self control and patience.

It's keeping them fed and clothed, educated and prepared for their days.

It's making darned sure that I personally have my own life straight with God, so that I'm in the position to encourage and exhort them to take what comes on their way in the right way.

It's understanding what is important in life, and what isn't.

It's keeping track of the library books, and making sure we don't run out of toilet paper.

It's being the bad guy when they've all been on their iPods too much.

It's paying attention to who needs attention.

It's biting my tongue when I want to lash out, and bringing up things I don't want to discuss when I think it's for their good.

It's putting them first while also putting my husband first.

It's taking care of myself so I can be around for them.

It's dropping what I thought I was going to do today when I have to pick them up at school because they have a headache.

It's teaching them to drive...Kathryn and Evelyn are both learning now, #10 and #11...and I still stomp those invisible brakes.

It's making cookies for their favorite teacher when all I want to do is sit and put my feet up.

It's going to the dreaded mall when they NEED a new dress or bathing suit or bra...and waiting so patiently while they try things on.

It's accidentally putting their favorite hoodie in the dryer and promising to buy them a new one.

It's saving them a plate of dinner because they have to run out the door for something or other when dinner is being served.

It's setting a few chicken wings aside from the sauce, a few meatballs aside from the sauce, every time, because Sonja likes them plain.'s a lot of things. I am not always good at all of these things, and sometimes I wish I was just one of the kids, and someone else had the huge load of responsibility that comes with Being Mom.

We are heading to the Adirondacks in five days. Five days. There are like 20 of us going, and we need food...the older kids are pitching in and bringing stuff, but still. I have to buy lots of food. And you know how it is, if you remember 299 food items, you get no credit, but heck, if you forget the ketchup, BAD MOM, ha.

I have told them each to pack sheets and a towel. But my head is still spinning with all that I have to remember. The kitchen table is now the grand central station of things set aside for Cabin In The Woods.

Am I excited for Cabin In The Woods? Oh yeah. Coffee on the screened porch in the morning, listening to the loons, either alone as I wake early there, or with whoever else got up early...Mirielle, Evelyn, Mali...just lovely. The campfires? A blast. Sitting in the sun on the dock, playing musical chairs, swimming in the freezing but sparkling clean Adirondack water...refreshing and so much fun, as I totally love basking in the kids' enjoyment of this.

But. I know that even at the camp, Being Mom means knowing where everything is, what we're having for every meal and snack. I am bringing a whole boatload of foam plates, sorry environment! I am not spending my vacation washing dishes:)

Anyway. I am excited to be with the kids, hopefully they all get along well and I don't have to put on my striped shirt and get out the whistle. Hopefully we can all take turns with meals and clean up. Hopefully we get lots of sun shining on the dock.

Today, I take Miss Camille to the orthopedic doctor to get her an ankle x-ray. She's hoping it's all healed and she'll be done with the boot, for camp. Me too.

Tonight we are taking the two cats and one black lab to the rabies clinic for their shots, which promises to be a good time.

Tomorrow night, Samuel starts leave, and drives home, arriving on Wednesday morning. Wednesday night, we are having a graduation party for Kathryn, last minute. So I have to clean the house and make food, and a huge cake. In the midst of the kitchen table Grand Central Station thing..ha.

But life is good, and one thing at a time, and all of that.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

sunday funday....

We went to the Parade of Homes on Friday...8 houses, different builders and styles, all beautiful and luxurious. It was too much fun, the little girls just moved their little selves right into those houses.

Miss Cam says that if we had this shower, she would always always take one as soon as Mommy asked her to. I personally wondered why a family would need such a huge-o shower, one could fit at least five or six small children in there, and believe me, once upon a time not so long ago, it would have been wonderful to have such a shower, in those days of many children lining up for their turn...I also wondered why an average family would need a double wall oven, those huge six burner stoves, or the pot-filler spigot behind the stove. Or four full bathrooms. Or a complete movie theater in the basement, but hey, if you have the money, why not?

Irene, and Sonja.

So it was a nice outing, followed by a quick trip to Target to get some gifts for a few girls who are graduating from high school, and a few girls who are leaving for Norway for a year, because Emily was having a celebration at her house for these girls. We found really nice gifts really quickly, and the girls really liked them (scarves, nice water bottles, a beach towel for one of them, candy)...

We were extremely hungry, so we went through the McDonald's drivethrough...chicken nuggets are so good, I don't care what anyone says. I always think of the saying, "deep fried garbage on a sunny day", from Sesame Street (Oscar The Grouch), but I eat them anyways. I got an order of fries for the five girls to share, and home we went.

Yesterday morning, the fun began early. The younger kids were supposed to go on an end of the year activity club hike, but thunderstorms changed those a trip to the museum of play! Both of our minivans were needed, so there was some shuffling and planning, but the kids got to where they needed to be, and I got to where I needed to be, which was in the kitchen at church...I baked cookies...

I baked a huge cake. It was butter cake, three pounds of butter, because I double-quadrupled the recipe...and I don't know how to say that I 8-times-ed it.

Homemade buttercream frosting...

Topped with berries and whipped cream...and guess what? I ate some. It was SO good.

We washed and cubed 30 pounds of red potatoes, and nine pounds of sweet potatoes. Kim grilled the steak, we sliced it...22 pounds of it. We served coffee and iced tea and cold brew coffee and infused water, with platters of fruit and chocolate covered rasberries. (Snack/fruit with drinks, followed by lunch, then another snack, then dinner, then dessert...)

We left there at 8:30 pm, and oh dear I was a hurting unit.

When I hobbled out of bed this morning, I felt like I had done an extreme workout. I walked down the driveway to get the morning paper, Duke and I were a matching set...old dog, old lady. It's a lot of work, but also a lot of fun, to spend an entire day preparing food, cleaning up in between, doing dishes, making more food...

This was our crew...Evelyn over there in the corner, Emily, our friend Irene in the back, Sonja K. with the cookie in her mouth, the morning, Kim was there, and in the afternoon, Patty joined us.

Anyway. Today is a nice relaxing day. Paul is at a landscaping fundraiser with Kathryn and Evelyn. Joseph is working hard on an online video game art piece that is due this week. The little girls are still poring over the pamphlets they got from the Parade of Homes...reading the Sunday comics...Sonja is coloring, Suzanne is helping me delete photos from my phone. Jonathan is still in bed. It is indeed a wonderful Sunday. Suzanne wants to bring chocolate chip cookies to one of her teachers that means my time to sit here is over...

Friday, June 10, 2016

from the bottom of my heart...

I sincerely love each one of my kids. And here's the thing: sometimes I spend too much money. I stop and get them coffee, take them to McDonalds, I make them happy. I let them get new sandals, because everyone knows a teenage girl can't have too many shoes, and even if the old ones still fit, they're OLD. And bathing suits...a girl needs to feel good about herself, and having the right bathing suit is essential. I know this. I want them to know they're important to me. There may be a whole slew of them, but each one of them holds my whole heart.

Here's the other thing: I try to listen. I try to remember what each one of them is going through. I'm not always so good at these things, and thus I unconsciously resort to spoiling them a little. When I take just one or two out and about, we do have too much fun. But I firmly believe that children should grow up knowing that they are special. They are important. They are loved.

So this afternoon we are going on a fun outing. I am picking up four girls from school, Evelyn Joy, Suzanne Eleanor, Sonja Kathleen, and their good friend Irene. Charlotte Claire, Camille Anaya, and I will pick them up. We are going to the Parade Of Homes, in the nice suburbs on the other side of the city. It's a thing where you pay to walk through newly built houses, to get decorating ideas and ogle things you can't afford, thus becoming discontent with your own dumpy house. ha. My little girls, and Evelyn, have a thing for housing design. The little girls like to make floor plans on graph paper...

Now Sonja is telling me she needs shorts. No, Mom, I'm not kidding. I NEED some.

It's always something, isn't it?

Wow, now that Paul has his new(ish) truck, the vans are both out of the shop, and I'm not driving him back and forth to work, I have lots of extra time every day.

Yesterday, Emily and I shopped for a fundraising dinner we are preparing tomorrow...actually it's lunch, afternoon snack, dinner, and dessert. We are serving:

A steak bowl with red potatoes roasted in olive oil, topped by spinach/spring mix, cucumber slices, tomato wedges, and...slices of grilled steak, with fresh bread and butter.

Afternoon snack:
Honeydew, cantaloupe, grapes, cheese, and tons of homemade chocolate chip cookies.

Marinated barbecued bone-in chicken breasts, cilantro lime rice, cubed sweet potatoes roasted in olive oil, and a grilled veggie mix, including asparagus, summer squash, zucchini, red and green peppers, and sweet onions,.

Homemade white butter cake with buttercream frosting, fresh strawberries and blueberries, frozen rasberries, and topped with fresh whipped cream.

Of course we will have coffee and cream, iced coffee, iced tea, Coke and Diet Coke, and lots of water infused with lime and strawberries.

We are both so organized, my list looked like a crazy person wrote it, but we managed to get everything we need in three stores, keeping the cost as low as possible, of course.

So tomorrow will be a day of baking and preparing and serving and fun...with Emily and Evelyn and maybe Jonathan.

Last night, I made burgers on the grill and a nice big salad. The kids had yummy bakery buns on their burgers, so that was the optional carb, ha.

When we were out and about yesterday, I bought myself a new tablet, a 7 inch Samsung Galaxy. My Chromebook is by Samsung, and it's lasted wonderfully, but the tablet is smaller and I think I can maybe blog on it...I wanted to get a keyboard case but it was $22, and I had already spent too much. Miss Charlotte Claire is crazy about the new tablet, and wants to go buy one for herself. My little girls save up their money like squirrels, and now they are both itching for new tablets. Kids and technology these days! They know more than I do, and were helping me set things up on it last night. They say it's quick and they love the picture quality, ect. I know they are going to use it more than I will...I will feel better when the case comes in the mail though...Amazon Prime, only two days, ha. And no, I don't get any money for saying that. If I had two million readers a day, I might put ads on the blog, but I might not either. The idea of profiting from having a large family turns my stomach. The only reason we were blessed with sixteen beautiful kids is because God is good and kind, and took special mercy on us, and gave us more than we ever deserve.

But then again, maybe it would be nice to earn a little money doing what I like, thus being able to bless the kids even more, ha.

This fine morning I have a doctor's appointment that I haven't yet cancelled. I don't need a check-up again, I just had one last year! It's too nice a day to spend in the dr.'s office.

Anyone out there glad Hillary's doing so well? Don' I find it hard to respect a woman who stood by her lying cheating husband. She belittled herself, just to climb the ladder. Of course I wish her no harm, but a truthful person is much more esteemed in my eyes. I must admit to being baffled...what do people see in her, why do they want her to lead this country? I do not get it.

Yeah, so no more politics. I don't like to waste my time getting ruffled about things I can't change.

It's time to start the day, I guess...

Thursday, June 9, 2016

I have sixteen

And this is my oldest...Emily Anne...(Ann with an "e", ha.) I thought I was so original, naming her Emily way back in 1985, before the internet, before Emily was the #1 name for girls. My younger brother was shocked, he said, "Emily is an old lady name!" That was the point. Or so I thought. Anyway. Yesterday, I went out to lunch with my oldest "child".

And my youngest child, Camille Anaya.

And a few in between...Mali Rose 22, Kathryn Grace 18, Jonathan Robert 12, Charlotte Claire 10...and little Davian, baby Lydia, and Lydia's daddy Zac.

And let me tell you something: with lots of kids comes tons of joy, but also tons of this: Mommy Guilt. Mommy Guilt comes tearing at the mom's heart when child leaves lunch on counter, and mom doesn't find time to bring it to school. These sort of things. Well yesterday, we were at Chipotle, and Mirielle texted me and asked, "Do you want to go to Chipotle?" Oh I felt bad! It was nurses' day, buy one get one free, and Em and Mali are nurses, but so is Mirielle...I had just assumed she was at work...Em had been teaching a class, and came straight from there and didn't realize Mirielle was home either...oops. It worked out fine, she picked up Evelyn and Sonja and brought them out to lunch/dinner...

Anyway. Having all the babies was one thing...chasing toddlers, you know, the busy stuff...but now that they are grown up, and growing up, it's still busy. I am so so so thankful that I don't "work". I can be home, and spend time with my older ones when they have a free day, if they want or need.

So Kathryn is technically finished with high school, and is contemplating her next step. She's thinking maybe college, criminal justice, then the police academy. She's always thought about being a police officer, but isn't 100% sure that's for her. She's a really good kid, hard working, and sweet. I know she'll succeed in whatever she chooses because she's so dedicated. She homeschooled the last few years of high school, and she took it very seriously. She is taking her driver's test soon, and I sincerely hope she passes, it makes it so much easier, as far as getting a job, ect.

Evelyn is finishing up 10th grade, and is also taking her driver's test soon. Evelyn will succeed in life too, she is not afraid of hard work, she knows how to boss people around, she sees what needs to be done and assigns people to do it, ha.

Suzanne finishing up 9th grade. She isn't feeling well today, and has three finals. She left the house in tears, she gets stressed about stuff. I feel so so bad for her, she asked me to pray for her.

Sonja is almost done with 8th grade...(Evelyn, Suze, and Sonja go to "real" school). Sonja is funny, competent, and very friendly. She is so into soccer, she practices kicking the ball around the yard with Jonathan all the time, and plays on the church team.

Jonathan, Char, and Cam are all finishing up their school for the year too.

Joseph (25) lives here too...Mr. Art. He is always working on something, at his standing desk. He sells a few things here and there, just enough to get by, but hasn't hit total success yet. He loves what he does, and I am confident that one of these days he'll make it.

Abigail (29) is in Norway.

Benjamin (27) is in Washington state.

Aaron (23) is in California.

Samuel (20) is in Washington D.C.

(Sam texted this pic to Evelyn last night, I asked her to forward it to me, and on the blog it goes...Don't kill me, Sam!)

Margaret (19) is in Norway.

So the kids are 31,29,27,26,25,23,22,20,19,18,16,15,14,12,10, and 8.

My prayers take a long time at night.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

rainy stay-at-home day...

As the school year winds down and the promise of a long unscheduled summer looms, I want to impart to you all how disillusioned I am about such things. I unconsciously put up mental blocks...that block out the appointments, the rides to here and there...I envision a summer of sitting on the deck, of drinking a light beer while I grill the chicken...I am not a beer person, but once in a while it's lovely, it just goes together...a light beer with lime, being outside, listening to the tree frogs come out...marveling still at the fact that I am OUTSIDE, the warm breeze caressing my arms, bare feet on the warm wood of the deck, outside without a jacket and boots and gloves, ha.

So I have these visions of summertime. Swimming and sunning and watching the kids play badminton in the yard. Taking walks and having campfires, just being outside.

Yesterday, I grilled pork chops, marinaded in fresh lime juice, olive oil, and Jamaican jerk spices. Pork is tricky to grill, because it has to be cooked so thoroughly. We had a salad with it. Paul and the older kids left to go to a landscaping fundraiser, and I went to the awards ceremony with Evelyn. It's nice to go out with just one...Miss Ev is 16, she drove...and she looked so elegant and grown up, going up to the stage for her awards. And shh, when the superintendent gave his speech and mentioned how the parents should be commended for encouraging and assisting the students to have good attendance, ect., Ev and I just looked at each other. I think school is a wonderful thing, just not the ONLY thing. We are very blessed to have a lifestyle where it's normal to travel and visit friends and family far away. I think that's just as important, or more important, than school.

Anyway. It's still quiet here. Joseph just came in for coffee, and I told him that I don't know if I'm just old and soppy, but this spring has been the most beautiful ever, and he replied that he says that every year. I probably do too, but just don't remember it.

It's a rainy sort of day today, chilly compared to the hot days we've had, and the perfect day to get lots of homeschooling done, we are finishing up! I think we might take a trip to the library too. I want to continue that all summer because reading is so important. I like to get a stack of random books about things like the tombs of Egypt, life in Siberia, Native Americans of the Southwest, ect. They browse through them, maybe read them, share about them, and learn.

Our No Electronics During The Day rule will be relaxed during the summer, but I am definitely going to make sure it's not just a lazy free for all. I honestly believe that video games/social media, ect., the whole online thing, is the biggest thief of our precious and brief time here on earth. In moderation it's fun, it's great to connect to others, and for teenagers, it is almost essential. But, the path of least resistance is the one we take, but I am the Mama here, and I will provide a little bit of resistance, so they don't waste their summer on devices and playing games:)

So fun times are son Aaron is flying in from California to come to the camp in the Adirondacks. My Army son Samuel will be here next week, spending some days here before we leave for the camp. Margaret, who has been in Norway for the year, has been having adventures of her own, visiting Italy (Venice!), Switzerland, Germany. Abigail is in Norway too, they won't be home until later in the summer. Benjamin cannot come to the cabin in the woods this year, he is in his training, his apprenticeship program for HVAC. But he's coming, with his wife and our two year old granddaughter Anya, later in the summer. :)

I will be attending so many concerts this summer! Not as a guest, but as a concession stand worker! It's fun though, hard work, but fun to be there with friends and family, doing church fundraising. And, we are right near the stage and can hear the music loud and clear. At the Ringo Starr concert, the song, "Photograph" started playing....and oh dear. That song just reminds me of my mother..."I can't get used to living here, my heart is broke, my tears are cried in vain...every time I see your face, it reminds me of the places we used to go...and all I've got is a photograph, and I realize you're not coming back, anymore..." As for my mother, I miss her more and more, not the less and less one would expect. She would just delight in so many things! I used to call her every day when I was making dinner. And in the mornings, too. She cared about the details in a way no one else ever has. You know, the little things the kids said, how the cashier reacted to me asking her to put the cold things in separate bags, how much I saved with coupons, and that there was a crayon in the dryer with the little girls' nice dresses.

I miss her. It's just not fair that she only had 69 years on earth. She genuinely loved everyone who came across her path. My friends would rather sit and talk to her than come in my room and listen to records (GAWD, I'M OLD!)

I guess I'm old and soppy, aren't I? But my mother wouldn't want me to be sad, she didn't believe in wasting time with that.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

it's a beautiful day for a picnic!!!!

My schedule was clear today! I would have been fine staying home, puttering around, setting things aside for our vacation which is rapidly approaching. But the natives were a little restless, Kathryn wanted to do "something fun", so we swept floors, washed dishes, and did some laundry before heading out the door...Kathryn, Jonathan, Charlotte Claire, Camille, Davian, and yours truly.

We stopped in to see Grandma first, and I was proud of the kids, they know how to sit nicely and not interrupt while the older ones visit, even though they were anxious to get to the playground.

I let them choose lunch: some pizzas, McDonalds, or Chinese takeout...of course they wanted Chinese. While we waited the fifteen minutes for the food to be prepared, we went into the drug store and I let them pick out milk,chocolate milk, lemonade...bottled water, for me.

We parked downtown, and put the money in the meter, and trekked down the sidewalk to the restaurant. For little kids, this is all an adventure...crossing a city street isn't something they do everyday.

Then, as we got to the van, the rain absolutely poured. Well kids, guess what? We're going home to have a picnic! They got all excited about that, because they're smart kids. They realize going to the playground in the pouring rain isn't going to happen. When we got home, Davian said, "We could have gone down the slides in the rain and had water slides!"

Anyway...they ate their yummy food at the coffee table, and are playing dollhouse...the kind where the whole living room is a be-careful-where-you-step zone.

So our day was fun.

Tonight, there is an awards ceremony at the high school, and we are going because Evelyn is getting an award. The older kids are doing a landscaping fundraiser.

I'm glad God watered the garden for us today, and who doesn't love an afternoon of trees swaying in the cloudy breeze, with darkening skies and downpours? Jonathan is so nicely bringing his mama a cup of coffee, even though he is busy taking a test.

As I sit here typing, I see my hands on the keyboard...they're old lady hands. The veins are popping out like my mother's did. They are wrinkled. When you're fifty, you realize that you would be one lucky son-of-a-gun if your life is half over, it's is more than likely two thirds finished, but who knows. Could be more, could be less, but in any case, you're getting old. In twenty years, Miss Anya, my sweet granddaugher from out in Washington state...will be 22, and I'll be seventy. Seventy used to seem so old! Now it seems...ah, not too terribly old, not as old as EIGHTY. If I live to be eighty, my oldest daughter, Emily, will be 61. She had better take good care of herself, because she promised not to ever put me in a nursing home. That's why I want to lose weight, ha, so I can stay healthy and get old and not be too heavy for Em to lift.

It seems like I spent years trying to prove I wasn't too young to know what I'm talking about, being the sixth child of seven in my family...the older ones teased me, and talked to me with patient dismissal of my wisdom in any given area. Then I got old enough to be disrespected all over again by my kids, who say, "Yeah Mom, back when there were dinosaurs...when cell phones were as big as your face...when people used PAY PHONES, ha. They think school was easier back then. They think kids weren't cool at all, but we were. We were cool.

Anyway...I am getting old, but I am thankful for these kids who still keep me young. They are playing, taking over the whole living room, talking about the differences in boys' voices and girls' voices, then breaking out in another song.

Camille loves to sit with me.

Yesterday, it was a beautiful sunny breezy day, and I sneaked to the grocery store all by my lonesome. Kathryn agreed to keep an eye on the kids. Cam likes to go with me, but with her broken ankle, I thought she should stay home and lie a little bit low. I started out with a quick run into the thrift store...I found a rare Gotz baby doll, signed, for $3.99. A Radly of London leather purse for $4.99. A nice new purse for me for ten bucks, which is expensive, but it's a brand new purse. I checked online, and the Radley purse is something that would sell nicely on ebay, but Miss Evelyn fell in love with it, so she has a new purse. Two of the other girls were indignant, they need purses, too! I had no idea they would like it so much, girls are a puzzle sometimes. The doll is cute and sweet, but I am hoping to sell her.

The dollar store was next: bags of Reeses' Peanutbutter Eggs...for a dollar, of course. We don't mind that Easter's over. They're still good. I bought some swim floaties for the camp, some little paper plates for camp, and some snacks to put away for the camp.

The grocery store was fun all by myself. I used some coupons, even.

When I got home and put it all away, I had a little bit of time to relax before going with Paul to pick up his took a few hours because the dealership was a ways away. It's a nice truck, a Nissan 4x4, with a back seat.

Corn on the cob for dinner, with leftover beef and chicken.

Sam called yesterday, he's coming home next week!!! Oh how happy I am that Cabin-In-The-Woods is coming up!!!!

It means lots of packing, but yay!!!!

Monday, June 6, 2016

trying to unlazy myself...

Paul is a difficult guy to be married to, because he's so good at everything. He manages to fit in exercise, no excuses. He has extensive arthritis in his shoulders, but still works out around it. He cuts back on sugar, and is as slim as the day we met, yet he can afford to stuff a few chips in his mouth when he walks in from work and dinner isn't ready yet. He doesn't forget responsibilities nearly as much as his scatterbrained wife, and he's just more active. Sitting is "so bad for you", he says, as he does this and that and makes me feel so lazy. Never intentionally. He's too nice for that. But you know how it is to be with someone who is just by nature, an achiever...

I know I was lazy yesterday. I was. Who wouldn't be? Saturday was a busy day. And I had a good book to finish...and another good one to start. "Lazy" lazy as I could get away with in between doing stuff. You know, not exactly shutting myself in my room, but picking up the book when I had a chance...

The kids had three friends over, and Emily came for dinner, so it was a nice day, even with the clouds and intermittent rain. The kids don't care about rain, they still went in the pool. They still made sno cones.

Emily and I are planning another event, for this Saturday. We are planning lunch, afternoon snack, and dinner for 60 people, and will go shop for the food on Thursday. I love doing these things!

Today, we need groceries. The refrigerator is looking very sad indeed. The empty produce drawers glare at me, and when we get down to the last of the milk and half/half, it gets scary. Black coffee? eeks.

We are totally spoiled. We have food in the freezer, in the pantry. We could live on it for a while. But the girls pack their school lunches, and like to grab bananas and fruit and yogurts. Even when I fill the 'fridge with groceries, they'll open it and stare..."There's nothing to eat."

The girls had their cousin Dani spend the night, they were awake in their room until midnight, then are in there whispering and giggling already. That's the thing I don't like about sleepovers, they'll be tired and grumpy today.

But they sure have fun. They had the karaoke machine going....they have ten times the energy I have.

Ah well. It's too beautiful a day to go to the store, maybe I'll have Kathryn watch the kids and I'll sneak out by myself and get in done quickly....

Sunday, June 5, 2016

the saturdays of summer...#childhood

Yesterday was Saturday. All of the older kids had plans, they were gone from early morning to late at night. That left Paul and I home with only the two little girls...and the four year old twins, Sebastian and Linnea and their 7 year old brother Will. (Their mom and dad went on the day hike with my older kids).

Paul had things to do and places to go, (he bought a truck, yay!) it was like the old, and lots of small children.

And it was glorious.

The day was like one of those where you almost pinch yourself because, could it really be this nice out? Not too hot, but warm and sunny, with a lovely breeze. The kids played dollhouse. They played house. They colored. They had sno cones (I have an industrial sized sno cone maker on my kitchen table, Paul and I bought it years ago to make sno cones for church events, and I brought it home for the summer..) one point, they were playing "zoo". Four of them were on the trampoline, and Camille, who cannot go on the trampoline because of that pesky broken ankle, was the zookeeper. She had dishes of food, like bowls of water with leaves floating in them, and it was feeding time, when I was out there making sure they weren't playing with matches or knives.

They played on the swings, and we went in the pool a few times. We had sno cones again. I grilled chicken on the deck, and we ate outside. Sebastian assured me that he did not like chicken, but once he had one little taste, he decided he actually did like it. He ate seconds and thirds.

At the beginning of the day, I talked to my girls about electronics...and we agreed: no games, no tablets, phones, movies, ect. It was going to be an outside day.

It was around dinner time when I realized that the twins usually take a nap. oops. It never occurred to me to have them lie down, and they probably wouldn't have fallen asleep here anyway, but still. I felt bad because they were just little Energizer Bunnies all day long, and probably were falling apart when they got home.

The day was not without trials, of course, no day is. There was a large splashy drink spill, and a few squabbles.

And in the afternoon I left for a bit, when Paul returned home, to go to a bridal shower for my nephew's fiance. I came back with some little packets of mints, party favors, for Camille-the-zookeeper to feed to her animals in the zoo.

By the time our little visitors were in their carseats and on the way home, my older kids were pouring the door, telling about their day at the park. Jon fished and got one bite but didn't catch anything. They hiked and had a huge cookout, and way too much fun.

Oh, the blissful days of summertime. Today we are having a rainy day, with thunderstorms later on. I would like to stay in bed and read all day, but someone had to get up and take the dogs out, feed them, wash dishes and wipe down counters, throw a load of towels in the wash, and put some beef in the crockpot for dinner. I got up early so I could eke out some quiet time, then found myself doing all sorts of chores, so I just ditched the sweeping and sat in my comfy chair to write. I hear footsteps and doors opening, so....

Friday, June 3, 2016



1. Kathryn is done with school! She passed her New York state high school equivalency test, which has been changed recently, and is more difficult. It is supposed to be equal to having four years of high school, so yay Kathryn is done!

2. Samuel is coming home in eleven days!

3. Suzanne is having a school friend over this afternoon (the girl I met yesterday and hugged:)), and we have to clean the house...when the weather is warm, I do the bare minimum. Wait, when the weather is cold, I also do the bare minimum.

4. Tonight, Paul and I and Kathryn and Emily are working at the Ringo Starr concert.

5. Tomorrow, all of our kids except for Char and Cam are going to be gone...Joseph left this morning for a camping trip in the Adirondacks, and tomorrow Kathryn, Evelyn, Suzanne, Sonja, and Jonathan are going on a hike, cookout, with friends from church.

6. Our house will be far from quiet and empty though, because we are having William, and those sweet twins, Linnea and Sebastian here for the day.

7. There's a wedding shower for my brother's future daughter-in-law, which I hope to attend even for a little while, maybe with the small children, or maybe I'll leave them with Paul for an hour.

8. Paul is looking at a few trucks...our poor truck was almost paid off, now we have to start over again.

9. The sun is shining and we wanted to go to the beach, but Joseph took the van to the Adirondacks, and I didn't feel like driving Paul to work the cleaning-the-house thing...ugh.

10. I don't mind having an incentive to get cleaning around here...I love when it's shiny and's just so repetitive.

11. We have school stuff to finish up, and it's so hard when the birds are singing and the sun is shining and the pool is calling.

12. Davian is here this morning with his bible books. He knows how to read, and is doing activity books. He's so funny. I gave him a four-colored click-y pen, and he's in love. It's funny because he's so small (he turned four in February), and is such a reader, so he speaks like a book sometimes. He just told me he needs the color gray, and that black and white mixed make gray. His attention span is unreal, and he's sweet and cuddly as well as unbelievably smart.

13. I am stalling here...sitting here thinking of what to write, when I know darn well I should get the house clean so we can get out to the pool. Once I start, it won't be so bad. And I have already swept the living room and kitchen, and picked things up, but blah, I don't feel like doing more...

14. I got a few good books at the library yesterday, and I'm halfway through one already. When I have a good book, oh it's hard to do anything else.

And ha, I'm done stalling I go to clean things up...

Thursday, June 2, 2016

and then there are trials....

We went out for ice cream!!! This is one of the things I love about homeschooling, the freedom to do what we want when we want. I was going to have a soft-serve twist, chocolate and vanilla, but at the last minute I decided I would be happier if I didn't. Because I assessed how I felt, and I really didn't want one that badly. I know, not a big deal, but to me...each temptation is a big deal, and if I just said, "what the heck", and gave in each time, I would gain back all my weight. So I fight, and I assess, and I don't give up. The kids really enjoyed it though:)

Anyway. Life isn't totally all sunshine and roses.

Today was one of those days. The difficulties weren't stacked up one after another, but I had a really rough night. If you have ever had a really really bad migraine, you can relate. It was one of those superbly painful ones, one where the feeling that the barf was all the way up to my chin, ready to fly out, because the pain was so intense...the throbbing stabbing pain.

It started in quietly, yesterday afternoon...then it got bad during the night, when I realized that I wasn't going to get any sleep if I didn't get some ibuprofen. I was lying there waiting for Paul to get up for work, so I could ask him to get me some. Then I looked at my phone, which killed, because my head was screaming when I moved. It was five o'clock. He wasn't getting up any time soon. So I hobbled in and got two, drank lots of water, and got back into bed. The throbbing pain was so intense, I tried my best to relax every muscle and not move, so it was six it wasn't any better, so I got up and took two more ibuprofen. By seven, it was easing off a tiny bit, but I was exhausted. I think intense pain tires me out.

But it also helps me have mercy on others. Pain teaches us to value the times when we feel good, too.

I couldn't get up to see the school girls out the door. I couldn't get up for Davian, good thing Kathryn was here.

Suzanne called me from school and asked me to bring a few things she needed for a presentation. Ugh. I knew I had to get up, but my head still hurt, and every time I closed my eyes I was dreaming again. I finally got up, at ten a.m., feeling wrung out and awful, not like one would expect to feel after sleeping in until ten.

Anyway,I brought Suzanne's stuff to school (and met her friend, who has wanted to meet me for a while, I gave her a hug!) I brought Kathryn to the library, then to Kohl's, because I had Kohl's cash, and a 20% off coupon. Kathryn needed khaki shorts for tomorrow night, for our new church fundraiser, working a concert venue in the city, on the lake. Ringo Starr is coming tomorrow night, to the brand new outdoor stadium. We are working the food concessions there, and have to wear khaki shorts or pants.

I also got her a nice pair of Birkenstocks for $26, boots for Char and Cam for next winter for $8 a pair, pants for Jonathan, a few tank tops for me, and a few other all adds up so fast, even when it's at bargain prices.

We then went to the grocery store for just a few things, like strawberries and peppers and tomatoes and cheese and chicken.

Home...ah home. Lydia was here!

She likes the Little Tikes car.

We had taco salad for dinner out on the deck, Emily joined us, and Samuel SORT of did...he was on the phone. He's doing well in the Army Old Guard these days, he's now officially a team leader, in charge of five guys, one of whom is five years older than Sam. He was in the ceremony on Memorial Day at the Tomb, with President Obama, and said it was so hot and humid...

But he saw the old guys there in their Vietnam caps, and was sorry for feeling complain-y.

He was also in the Twilight Tatoo last night, and afterward there is always a meet-greet, and he got to shake hands with some veterans, and with lots of kids who delight in meeting the soldiers.

Sam's excited because he is coming home in two weeks, and we're excited to see him.

Four kids are in the living room this fine evening, so I have to be more attentive.

I got through this day, and hopefully I got lots of treasures too. I hope my headache wasn't just in vain, just a suffering with no results, that would be tragic. I hope I got something out of it...

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

when the kids get older, it'll get easier....


Okay, it has gotten easier in many ways, the whole diaper thing has faded from recent memory...and of course no getting up in the night with newborns or using bibs, bottles, sippy cups...except for when I babysit and have my granddaughter over.

And car you know how many car seats we used to have in that 15 passenger van? Neither do I, I don't remember, but it was at least four...maybe five.

We can leave a drink on the coffee table and the only one who will get into it is the dog, with her waggy tail.

Easier, yes,...but would you believe my days are still filled up?

I have been driving Paul back and forth to work, which was about two hours a day in total, but now the minivans are both inspected and running, so tomorrow it will feel like I have a few extra hours! This afternoon, Suzanne went to a friend's house to work on a school project, the red van had to be picked up from the shop, I had to pick Paul up from work, and we were going to look at a vehicle for sale, as he would like to replace his smashed up truck.

Mali had asked if Wednesday was a good day to visit, and yes, it was! I packed up the three youngest kids, and Davian, and went to the dollar store and BJ's quick this morning, for important things like chocolate and popsicles, and of course meat and veggies.

Our visit was short because I had driving to do...then home again to make dinner.

The kids all went to activity club except for Evelyn and I, so we took a quick swim after dinner. The pool is warm, but not completely clean yet, there are still leaves that need to be vacuumed and skimmed out.

Now it is quiet...Evelyn went to her room to read, Paul is around here someplace, probably watering the garden...and I am sitting here all comfy. So yes, it has gotten easier.

And I appreciate the down time. I have been up since 6 a.m.. I am ready for bed.

I am old now, compared to when I had those little babies to take care of, and I wonder already how my younger self managed.

Oh yeah, I am babysitting for Lydia tomorrow...even with her, I wonder how I kept up. It's busy. Babies are busy. She's crawling, and pulling herself much for that drink on the coffee table!

But anyway, here's my point: life hasn't really gotten easier...the kids grow up, mom and dad get need to go here and there and everywhere, and still need to be's the thing: they are worth it.

My three school girls (Evelyn 16, Suzanne 15, and Sonja K. 14) get off the bus, chattering and snacking and making a pot of coffee, and it's so nice to be here with them! I got to swim with Jonny today, Jonny who takes the responsibility of taking care of the pool very seriously. Jonny who rides his new birthday bike all around the yard, and carefully puts it away when he's done. Jonny...he's my friend:)

And the princesses...Char is learning to do an aerial. Cam is dragging, because of her ankle, and the high black boot she has to the heat. She gets tired out, but she clomps along anyway. I let her ride in the cart in BJ's today, she liked that.

They were happy because of the free they had peanutbutter filled pretzels, miniature slices of pizza, and cute little cups of grape juice.

They like going through the self-scan aisles.

They are delightful. They sing in the van. They like to lie on the blanket in the yard, in the shade of the pear and maple trees, and talk about important things, like that two anacondas are as long as our house.

It's not all sunshine and rainbows though. The freshly mowed grass gets tracked through the house. The dishes, oh the neverendingdishes. Char wants a summer haircut but she doesn't trust me to do it since the horrible incident with Camille's hair, and thank you Char, now I don't trust me either. The dogs have fleas...the end of the year reports have to be of the older girls is being difficult...

And now they are all home, seven of them coming up the deck steps and in the door....