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

Monday, October 31, 2016

happy halloween!!!!!

I hope our Trick or Treating night is better than my dream last night! It was awful, in it we were driving to the store, and noticed kids walking down the road in costumes...then realized we had FORGOTTEN IT WAS HALLOWEEN! Then I woke up.

Camille has been after me to help her with her costume, but being the Queen of Procrastination, I haven't quite gotten to it yet. I worked at the Field Band/Marching Band competition concession stand yesterday...left the house at 9:45 in the morning, and got home at around nine at night. After taking the puppy out, and getting a large glass of water, I sat down and put my poor feet up, and Cam asked me to help with her costume. Um, tomorrow honey.

Thankfully, I have nice teenagers. Suzanne helped them carve their pumpkins. Jonathan cleaned and seasoned the pumpkin seeds and roasted them. They took good care of the puppy (no messes in the house!), and kept the place reasonably clean.

Anyway...this morning, Duke threw up on a nice is going through it's second trip through the washing machine, because I like that rug.

My life. ha.

But I have a nice cup of coffee, and it's quiet in here, finally, after taking the dogs out three times. And sweeping the floor. And cleaning up a mess from during the night.

I am excited about Halloween. It's going to be cold, but no rain! We'll have to bundle up, but it's nice to be outside walking around, and the kids like it so much. I try to make it as fun as I can for them, and it makes me happy to see them happy. Honestly, if I was doing what I like best, it would probably be climbing into bed with a book.

Also, keep my Samuel in your prayers. He hit his head pretty hard, has been on bed rest, and is heading to the medical clinic this morning. He'll probably kill me for writing about it on here, but hey, I am his mama, no matter that he's all big and in the Army.

Love is an interesting thing, isn't it? You can love your child with all of your heart, and love the next one also with all of your heart. Love isn't something that's hard to spread around, getting thin like the pie crust when it's rolled out too much. It's a good fight, too, to STAY in that pure love for your kids. Wouldn't it be a tragedy to let our own sin, our own demands and irritation, come into our hearts, so that we had things against our own kids?

Anyway. I am hoping and praying that Sam is okay, I think he will be. God has had His hand on Sam for this long, I am certain that come what may, it will be His will.

Here's what comforted me this morning: as I was cleaning up the mess from old Duke, I was feeling quite miserable. It was gross, I like that particular rug, the kitten was trying to get to it, Sunny thought it was a snack (sorry!!!), ect. So I was feeling really like crying. And complaining. Then maybe even a little bit mad. And I thought this thought: If I didn't have all these pets, my life would actually be almost easy right now. Then I thought about that. Easy. Is that the goal? It sounds wonderful. But the thing is, when I get miserable, when I get mad, isn't that sin? No matter what brings it up, it's there, and I can't get victory over what I don't see. So if my attitude is to get more oil in my lamp, get more patience in trials, then things will go well.

Margaret just texted that she is coming home from work in time to help the kids get ready, and that she will stop on the way home to get anything they might need for their costumes. Can you tell I'm happy?

Friday, October 28, 2016

oh the gloomy cozy days....

Overcast and cloudy, drizzly...I took Sunny outside and it started raining on us...brr. But here in the house, with some orange lights on the shelf with little pumpkins, a candle lighted on the coffee table, and the space heater humming...with a fresh hot cup of coffee and a low carb pumpkin muffin to nibble on...I'll take it. Coziness.

Sunny went to the airport with us yesterday to pick up Paul, who is home from India. Sunny likes the van now, she is on Crumb Control. She curled up on Char's lap and snoozed.

Miss Charlotte Claire...

Jonathan procured a battery for this long lost camera, and is having a great time taking pictures. (At our house, random handstands are the norm, btw.)

Camille made the muffins...mostly. Char helped too. When we finished up our school work, we did some fun kitchen stuff. After the muffins went in the oven, Cam prepared the marinade for the meal she is making for tonight's dinner...she squeezed the lemons and limes, added seasoning and olive oil, and put the chicken in the container and into the refrigerator. Then she made pudding cups, layered with graham cracker crumbs and marshmallows while Charlotte Claire learned how to make homemade macaroni and cheese. I cut up a head of cauliflower and steamed it while she melted a stick of butter, stirred in some flour, added the milk, boiled it up, added cheese, stirred it...Jonathan cooked the pan of cauliflower and cheese for us low-carbers, and one pan of mac and cheese for everyone else. Char put bread crumbs on top of the Real stuff, and into the oven it went. It was cozy and fragrant in here, and our early dinner was yummy.

We headed out into the rainy 39 degree evening for Enchanted Beaver Lake, which is where hundreds of jack-o-lanterns are lit up, lining the walking paths through the nature center. It's pitch dark except for the pumpkins, which are carved all differently...animals, Disney princesses, insects, Shrek! We had fresh cinnamon donuts (I ate one bite and passed it on:)), popcorn, hot cider...

It was a really good day, which like all other good days, passed by too quickly.

And today is another one. I plan to stay home, unless Evelyn, who went to school with a headache, calls me to come get her from school. She is taking an AP class, and can only miss it a certain number of times, so it gets her to go in the morning when she really doesn't want to. She is an excellent student, but yesterday she gave blood, so she's a bit tired.

Anyway. I plan to stay home and enjoy the coziness. It is rainy still, and the dogs are snoring. They have been out twice, fed, and they have run around and played...not Duke, of course. He walks and wags and lies back down. Four year old Suri is revisiting her puppyhood now that we have Sunny. They play and romp and it's like having ten kids in the house.

Sunny is the kind of dog who sees her water dish, full of water, and thinks, "That would be fun to drag through the living room, spilling out all the water, then chew it all to pieces!" We now have a metal water dish that is hard for her to pick up.

She is a Lab though, so when she sleeps, she sleeps. Our late sheepdog, Rosie, never fully rested....she kept an eye on all activity, day and night. Sunny flops down, sighs, and snoozes.

Can you tell I love her? I am conflicted sometimes, wonder how I ended up with THREE dogs, and THREE cats. They are so much work. I like clean floors. So we have a towel by the door, to wipe paws when they come in. Four paws, four more paws, then four more...several-everal times a day. The cats are really no problem...except that we now store our bread in the refrigerator, because one of them likes to get on the counter in the night and rip into the bread.

But I love them all. They are cuddly and cute and add joy and fun to the house. When I wake up in the morning and they are absolutely beside themselves in happiness to see me...their whole bodies wag. The kitties keep the mice away, and are really no trouble. The small kitten plays with the puppy, knocks down the flowers, and attacks the lamps.

We haven't bought any pumpkins yet this year. Our garden produced butternut squash, but no pumpkins...I'm not sure if we planted any or not, of course when I say "we", I mean Paul. So we are going tomorrow to get some, and carve them up nicely, then toss the seeds in olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast them. mmm.

Tonight we might go over to the rec. center pool for a swim...we can't get lazy just because it's chilly out, right?

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

who wants a headache?

I'm giving mine away. But then I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy, and I don't have any enemies. Actually, it's calmed down to a dull roar, but yesterday was rough. I don't mean to be a big baby, but every once in a while I get a terrible migraine, and it's hard to function. I tried to wait a while before taking ibuprofen, because it's not good for you, but then the headache really sets in good. It's probably better to try to knock it down quickly, but I always try to see if it will maybe just go away, ha.

Anyway, yesterday it was a bad headache day. It got so bad I thought I was going to be sick. I finally took a little nap....two ibuprofen, then two more....I was profusely aware of how fortunate I was to be home, to be ABLE to lie down, heaven knows there have been days through the years that I survived by the sheer grace of God....

So I was thankful to lie my throbbing head on the pillow, under a mountain of covers, and when I woke up, just the dreary remnants remained...that drained feeling, but also the euphoria of that awful pain being gone.

It was a spaghetti night. At our house, when the weather turns chilly, and when Mama doesn't know what else to make, it's a spaghetti night. Frozen chunk of burger smells promising when it's browning on the stove with onion powder and black pepper...then I realized it was sausage, but oh well, it was still good.

With a million things to do, I decided to make three apple pies.
Lots of cold butter with the salt/flour mixture, tossed with ice water, then minimal handling...make for a nice flaky crust. I like to put a thin coating of half and half or whole milk on top, then sprinkle with sugar.

The house smelled heavenly with those pies baking...until some leaked onto the bottom of the oven. No problem, I'll just steam clean, add a cup of water, touch a button, lock the oven, and voila! Except for I hit the wrong button. The house smelled like burnt toast, we had to open the windows, and freeze the place down, because we aren't the kind of people who turn the heat on in October...I lit a few candles to make it seem warm, and hauled out a small space heater for the living room.

Anyway. It was good pie. Really really good pie. Now someone better eat the rest of it, because it is torturing me. And for the record, I did skip dinner, aside from tasting the sauce, so I could have pie. Also lunch. I had only my Ezekial toast all day, because of that awful headache.

So this fine morning I have to venture out bright and early to take the little girls for check-ups, dragging poor Jonathan along too because we have gymnastics class a few hours later, and don't want to drive all the way back here to get him. We'll have a few hours in between, perhaps we'll use our pizza/reading program coupons. And there's always Walmart. Kids like that store...but there was a nice heater in the Aldi ad, hmm, it would keep it cozy in here...

I'm sure we'll figure it out. Jon wants (NEEDS!) triple A batteries for his electric circuit board thing or one of his copters, I forgot last time I went, and he wants them badly enough that he'll endure shopping, to get them.

I've noticed that instead of working steadily to get out the door, I tend to take it easy, then hurry hurry. I like my quiet time in the morning, right now the dogs are finally snoring after going out three times, and eating their breakfast. Sunny trashed the living room no problem, she jumps up on the couch, and helps herself to tissues from the tissue box...then rips them up. Magazines, grocery ads, notebooks...she shreds. I just give her the empty paper towel rolls, she delights in chewing them up. She finds socks and sneaks things off the coffee table. She's like a two year old...on high speed.

She's a handful...but oh so sweet and cute. She'll be a fine dog, and as much as I get weary of the puppy stage, it's hilarious too, with the romping and jumping, she's like Tigger.

And I have to get moving...the kids are all sleeping...I don't like waking them up for showers and getting out the door, but time is ticking and we must leave...

Tomorrow morning, the same thing...leaving early...but for a good thing, picking Paul up from the airport!!! He has flown from Coimbatore Chennai,heading now to Mumbai....he'll be home in 26 hours...maybe 27. It's a long trip home from the south of India to New York.

But I can't wait to see him!!!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

home again, from Shenandoah, D. C., and Gettysburg....

Ten of the kids...and me...what a weekend!

Abigail and I with Sonja and Camille...we didn't do the big hike, so we explored a little....

We found a lovely view without hiking...we just drove and parked.

We found a playground...

We found a Target...with a Starbucks in it.

We headed back to the cabin and started dinner, Abigail and I. Chili and cornbread...

Miss Sonja at the cabin.

On Sunday morning, Abigail headed back home with the three high school girls, Evelyn, Suzanne, and Sonja. Mirielle and I headed toward Washington D.C. with Samuel, Kathryn, Jonathan, Charlotte Claire, and Camille. We did some sightseeing before bringing Sam back to the base.

Samuel is the best tour guide.

We visited the Botanical Gardens.

We went to the Cafe Rio with Sam, then came the part that's not my favorite: saying goodbye. It's just so good to spend time with Samuel. He's so good to Jonathan, so good to his sisters.

We drove as far as Gettysburg, and the van was not driving well. After checking into our hotel room, and enjoying the hot tub and pool, I drove with Jonathan to pick up a pizza...and the brakes were metal on metal...not good. So yesterday morning, we called a local repair shop and they so nicely fit us in...(Mike's Kars of Gettysburg, and no, they are not paying me to say how wonderful they were to us). After diagnosing the brake problem, they drove us back into town so we could walk around and explore....

We ate at the Lincoln Diner...Miss Kathryn and Miss Mirielle...

The mechanic shop van picked us up when they finished with wasn't how we wanted to spend the day, walking around the battlefield is not optimal, everything is too far apart...but we made the best of it, and when the van was finished, we headed home...

And now we are getting back into our's chilly and windy and cloudy, real authentic autumn weather...brrr!!!!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

when it rains it pours....

And it's pouring...puppy doesn't like the rain, she whines and wants to go back in instead of doing her business...

It was also raining when the refrigerator guys came. They were super nice, and so careful not to smash into any walls. They had to take the front door right off it's hinges to fit it through, and it was very funny...the one guy kept measuring and saying it all measured right, it SHOULD fit through...the other guy kept saying, "Yeah, but them angles, you can't measure angles." Oh dear, they were nice. I'm not sure the protocol of tipping appliance delivery guys, but it took them a while, and they kept their smiles the whole while, so I just tipped them. There's no way in this world they can possible make enough money at that job to compensate for what they have to do.

This afternoon, Evelyn Joy, Joseph, and I headed toward the airport to pick up Emily's car. She parked it in long-term parking, and flew out to Seattle to visit Benjamin. I was going to just drive her to the airport at four this morning, but asked her to just leave the car there, and I would pick it up later...because ugh. sleep, you know. So anyway....we stopped at her house first and got the keys...Joseph grabbed the wrong keys...the ones for her Suzuki, which is gone and buried, not for the new Subaru. We did not realize this until he dropped us off and drove away. He does not have a phone, so we were left standing there outside of Emily's nice orange car....

(We wondered why the horn didn't honk and the lights didn't flash when Ev pushed the buttons on the keyfob...) wrong keys.

So, we called Abigail, she got the right keys and brought them to us.

We then went to the grocery store to get milk, now that our new refrigerator is nice and cold and the milk won't spoil. We also got ingredients to make yummy meals this weekend...yay, we are picking Samuel up from his base in D.C./Arlington, and going to Shenandoah! Mirielle rented a nice resort condo that sleeps 8, so we can fit just a few more...two little girls on the floor, not too crowded.

We plan to make chili and cornbread on Saturday evening...the place has a nice fireplace, and the weather will be crisp and chilly. Sam is really up for some home cooking, after eating at the "mess hall" (chow hall?).

We are leaving first thing in the morning, leaving Joseph here with the puppies and the kitties.

I hope the rain stops, sharing the road with tractor trailers in the rain is not my favorite.

But you know what IS my favorite? Traveling...driving in the van for hours with lots of the kids...seriously. I love it. I love stopping at different places, seeing new things, and I have never been to the part of Virginia we are going to. I can't wait to see Sam! It's funny because Em is out with Ben and Ashley and little Anya, Paul is in India, and we are going to D.C./Virginia. And Aaron is all the way out in California, I miss him more than a little bit. And Grandma is back in Florida...

The teenage girls are excited for this little trip. They love their brother Sam. To see them together is just such a good thing. was a good day. Puppy sneaked into the little girls' room and pooped, and peed on the laundry room floor...did I mention she doesn't like the rain? She is very perfect, but needs much work on her housetraining. ugh.

And now I have to go pack before the clock strikes midnight...because I'm tired.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

once upon a time...

...there was a old-ish lady...who decided to dress up for the kids' Halloween party. The adults were welcome to dress up...but only a few of them did.

Camille was a gumball machine. She had this idea, she did most of it herself, including painting the little styrofoam balls.

Charlotte Claire was a gymnast...(my picture of her didn't load!)
My two oldest daughters, Emily and Abigail...with little Linnea, my niece's daughter (one of the twins)

Sonja K. with little Lydia Eleanor...

Anyway, this lady left the house in the morning, did errands (shopped for this party!), brought the kids to gymnastics, finished the shopping, came home, finished up costumes and cleaned up the house a bit, left again...picked up twenty pizzas, then went to the party...with 12 of her kids, and one grandchild, plus of course lots of other friends...

Home, ah home...but no time to put the feet up yet! No sir, the new refrigerator is coming in the morning, so the old one had to be cleaned out! There is still stuff in there worth saving, perhaps, but it was bagged up nicely so it can be taken out quickly when the truck pulls into the driveway with the shiny clean new refrigerator, which will never ever get sticky and unorganized.

As she finished the job, lining up bags of things for Jonathan and Miss Char to take to the garbage can, sighing loudly with contentment that it was finished, her chair was calling her's no easy task to clean out a refrigerator with a starving hungry puppy sniffing everything. Puppies are always starving hungry, they will eat anything. A spool of thread, a doll shoe, popsicle sticks, napkins. But stuff from the refrigerator, yippee! Jonathan had to outsmart her and remove a bag of shredded cheese from her happy jaw, she thought it was a fun game!

Anyway...the lady was about to head to her chair, after switching laundry over and tucking tired little girls into bed...when she realized that she hadn't cleaned off the TOP of the refrigerator! So she did what she does best...she left it for tomorrow....

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

perfect weather....and projects...and laundry....

As we left for a meeting last evening, my daughters and I agreed that it was, "perfect weather for selfies...", ha. The sunset hued everything muted pinkish orange, just lovely. Today it's to be in the low 80's. It's so warm out there, yet the smell of autumn, the smell of leaves, the distinctive shadows, scream that it's no longer summer.

Yesterday, oh dang, we ended up going to the library and Target, then a quick grocery store run for kitty chow, half and half, chicken, bananas, and dishwashing liquid. Sometimes I wonder how they survived out on the prairie, with their twice a year trips to town. The things we "need"!

Target...I returned the cover for the couch, and chose a few things for little Miss Anya...I found a nice wedding gift for Margaret, shh, Camille and Char found some very reasonable sneakers, which was great fun. Little girls love footwear, and when they can actually get them, oh, they're happy! They are growing too fast, way too fast, and their feet aren't fitting into all those cute little boots and shoes they already have, wah. I don't like investing in anything too pricey, they way they grow.

We got home, and I decided, after putting chicken in the oven and putting things away, that I would drag the sewing machine out and begin some projects. Well. Sounds easy. But. The sewing machine wasn't cooperating. I took it apart and oiled it, changed the buttons and dials, and finally could sew more than three inches without the thread breaking, then I realized I was sewing the two pieces together wrong, and had to rip it all out. No wonder people throw sewing machines out of windows!

I finally got one pillow cover finished, for two hours of effort. My sewing stuff is scattered all over the kitchen table, and it's staying there until I finish the rest of the pillow covers and the valances. I am hoping the machine is more reasonable this fine morning...I don't have much time to sew today, three kids have dentist appointments, and a few of them "need" things. I am excited to go out and about with them though, they are also growing up fast, and these times with them are special.

We are having a fun Halloween party tomorrow, which I am buying the food and snacks we are dressing up, and Cam has big ideas and needs help. Good thing I have nothing better to do.

The new refrigerator is coming on Thursday, and also Emily is leaving for Seattle on Thursday, has to go to the airport in the middle of the night, and I am nice, so I will be tired on Thursday.

I am sew excited to sew, hope it goes seamlessly, this thread is leaving me in stitches.

Monday, October 17, 2016

rain, rain, don't go away....

Good morning, happy Monday, it's rainy here and so cozy. I have been out with the dogs three times already. Rain or shine, having a puppy means you go outside.

So, we sold our big van, which is wonderful, but we didn't get nearly what we thought we would for it. The good thing is the nice man who bought it, a preacher from Ghana, who needed it for his church, had a mechanic check it from bumper to bumper. It's nice knowing he is fully informed about what it needs, what works, and what doesn't. Two thousand dollars....and guess what? The refrigerator is broken. So...I didn't spend it all, of course, but I did go buy a new refrigerator. Ours has leaked for years, it's gotten to be a habit to change the Refrigerator Towel every couple of days, but it isn't very cold, and Paul can't figure it out, it's ten years old, time for a new one.

I like to take time with a big purchase, check things out, research, go here and there to look. But we need to replace it quickly, so I was determined to just decide yesterday. I really wanted to get one to match the stove, but for the same price I found one that had an ice maker in the door, which was nice, made more room in the freezer. It's a Samsung, a display model, so it was $300 cheaper than it's selling elsewhere. I figure it'll look like that within a week at my house anyway. It's so hard for me to make a decision like that, Paul's in India, he told me just to buy one. I took Evelyn and Sonja and Char and Cam, and the puppy, since they are allowed in Home Depot and Lowe's. She did pee on the floor in Lowe's, but we had stuff to clean it up.

Anyway. It's coming on Thursday. I am very thankful we were able to replace it. I was honestly a bit miffed, at first, that our nice two thousand dollars would be dinged into by spending half of it on a 'fridge, but then I realized how ridiculous it was to be unthankful for that.

The really funny thing is that back a few months ago when we were looking for a new stove, I found that really really marked down refrigerator, and told Paul we should buy it. He wouldn't even glance at it, said, "We are NOT shopping for a refrigerator, we do not need one, we are looking for a stove." Fine, I said, now ours is going to break because we are not buying that one. So when we determined that ours isn't fixable, I told Paul it was my fault, although I do think it's a tiny bit his fault, ha.

Anyway. It's going to be busy around here this week, things going on in the evenings, picking Sonja up from physical therapy, dentist appointments, shopping for the activity club party which is on Wednesday evening, then getting the refrigerator delivered on Thursday.

Friday morning we are leaving for Washington D.C., where we will pick up Samuel and go to Virginia for our little vacation near the Shenandoah park. He called last night to tell me that he has been put on patrol, gate patrol, and his four day pass for next weekend revoked to just a two-day. He now has to work all day on Friday, and again on Monday. He reminded me that with the Army, nothing is ever certain. He has no idea what time he will get out of work on Friday, either. So. We will work around it and figure it out. I know for certain that God DOES know exactly what we need.

Sam is disappointed though, because he misses his siblings so much.

My darling little granddaughter Anya Jade turned three years old! Emily is flying out to Seattle to visit them this week, so I am sending her birthday gift with her. I miss her, and am so glad she is coming here for Margaret's wedding in December. She's coming early, so she can have lots of days to come here and play. I have saved so many toys, and rejoice when the kids come and enjoy them. :)

Today, I am planning on getting the sewing machine out, and starting on the living room valances and pillow covers. I don't dread it nearly as much as I dreaded the painting job. I am so glad that is behind me. I see so much more trim I would like to paint, but ugh, not yet.

So I have a red plaid couch and chair, bought ten years ago. They are fine, but I am tired of the red. I found a chair cover on clearance for twenty bucks, and it fits the chair. I looked online at Target, and the couch covers were on sale, then an extra ten percent off, so I decided to just buy one and cover up that red for once and for all. When it arrived and we so excitedly started to put it on, Kathryn couldn't get the two cushions stuffed into the one piece of it, and I looked again at the packaging...oops. I had ordered a loveseat cover. So I have to take it back. I did order the right size now, and it's coming soon. I looked into covering it myself, and some people can do these things grandly, but I would pull out my hair, and it gives me a headache just thinking about it. The stretchy washable cover is like sixty dollars, and I have been considering it for years now...

Anyway. All the little things in life, the things that bog us down and want to steal all of our thoughts...things that in the end aren't very important...things we have to deal with, but in the midst of them, we can gather so many treasures if we are willing to open our hearts to what God would teach us.

It's so quiet here, but not for long...the kids will be waking up...I have things to do...:)

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

how about now?

It feels like life always consists of getting ready for something. It takes a very conscious effort to just live in the NOW. Right now. This is my life, there are no guarantees of anything beyond this very moment. All these little moments add up to a lifetime, and when I am thankful for everything in each moment, that thankfulness snowballs up to a life lived with no regrets.

I do have regrets though. When I think back of all my years with little ones, I wish I had taken more pictures, hugged them more...of course at the time I did my best, and this particular set of regrets is based on the fact that time slips through our fingers, childhood flees, and I am so stinking sentimental.

Small children do not reign in our house like they once did. Our youngest child is almost nine! They still play with dolls, but have downsized their collection, and now choose to paint their nails or sing karaoke, or take selfies...they do gymnastics and run around and jump on the trampoline, but playing house is getting more rare for them, although they did protest when I wanted to get rid of the Little Tikes shopping cart...they still need it for when they play store.

Anyway, today is here. Today we will do some school, then gymnastics, maybe get pizza with our homeschool reading program certificates. I need more coconut oil and a bag of doggy food. Evelyn and I took a trip to the small city yesterday afternoon, leaving Sonja with instructions to put the roast in the oven with foil wrapped potatoes and sweet potatoes, Kathryn cut up some carrots to put in with it. (I love knowing dinner will be done when I get home).

We bought milk and bread and pears and bananas and chicken and sausage and butter and dog biscuits and puppy chow and popcorn and bagels and cereal and coffee and eggs and papertowels and tissues. The kids really like canned soup for afterschool snack, and for lunch on chilly days, so we got some of that too. We got a five pound bag of mozzarella cheese to make our paleo/keto crackers, the kids love them as much as Paul and I do.

We had to drive our newer van to the shop in town, and pick up the older one. We must own part of that auto repair shop by now.

Oh the little details of life. I find it challenging to change my focus from what I am determined to accomplish, to what's REALLY important. The kids need to be listened to. They need to be hugged and praised and they need to know they're important. Man cannot live on bread alone, and kids need more than food and clothes.

So...this weekend, my mother-in-law heads back to Florida, and yes, I am really hoping to drive down and visit her this winter with at least the homeschooled kids:), Paul leaves for a two week trip to India...yes, India. That is far far away, and unlike his frequent trips to France, I am not jealous. No offense, I'm sure it's magnificent, but I don't have a longing to go there. He is pretty excited though. I am going to a church conference this weekend, just for the ladies! :) :)

We're doing a lot of planning around here...the weekend after next, lots of us are driving down to Washington D.C. to pick up soldier Sam, and take him to Virginia...some of them are going on a hike in the Shenandoah forest, some of us will shop or walk or go to the pool. We are planning a wedding shower for Margaret and Adrian, and then of course there are wedding plans...we tried to book a weekend up in Montreal for just girls, a few of Margaret's friends and 8 of her sisters, but it didn't work out. There are not enough weekends in life.

And I will end with a few things that make me happy:

1. Jonathan helped Camille make jello yesterday. Cam was counting the minutes until the four hours which the box suggested as the setting time, was over. Then she delighted in the jello.

2. When my teenage girls apologize to each other.

3. Texts or phone calls from my far away kids...or my close by older kids.

4. When the older kids stop in for a visit.

5. My library book.

6. Paul.

7. My new living room all freshly painted, even though there are spots that...ugh, never mind.

8. The new valances that I can't wait to make.

9. Sunny...Little Miss Sunshine. And Duke and Suri.

And goodbye for now...

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

and we did it!!!!!

We painted the ceiling AND the walls, plus the hallway, all in one day!

And looky looky at the disaster of a kitchen in the background...but do notice that the child in that picture, Miss Charlotte Claire, is only ten, and was one of the best painters.

This is Irene, friend of the family, besties with Sonja. She was here for the weekend, and so gladly pitched in, working all the live-long day. She never lost her smile, either. (The pizza and wings that were promised when we finished was the dangling carrot, the pot of gold at the end of the painting rainbow...expensive, but has to be figured into the cost of painting here, ha.)

Evelyn and Sonja K.

The finished color last evening, it looks lighter during the day.

So we worked hard yesterday. The prep work is what gets you, putting all the furniture in the middle of the room seems easy peasy, until you actually start in on it. I had recently moved the couches to paint the window trim, so they were all clean underneath, but other things, well, let's just say we found hair ponies and Nerf bullets that have been gone for a long long time. And dust and dog hair. We moved stuff into bedrooms, and the kitchen was a royal dumping grounds, then everything left was covered with plastic and old sheets, the exposed floor with newspaper...and we began by sweeping the ceiling to get the dust off...then sanding the spackle on the walls, wiping down the walls, vacuuming the dust...then, finally, opening the ceiling paint. We used almost all of the three gallons, and it was hard on the neck and shoulders. Two of the girls actually followed through with their plans to go to the mall, because they never heard we were painting today, they said. I tried not to give them too hard a time about it, but I wasn't thrilled about it. Then Mali called and asked us to watch 13 month old Lydia in the afternoon/evening, and oh dear...I love Lydia, of course I do, but um, our house was turned upside down...but I said we would figure it out, just bring her on over.

The two girls returned from the mall, one changed and started right in to help, the other had to leave to go to her language lessons, taking the only vehicle that is currently running well. One is in the shop, the other is leaking radiator fluid and will go in then the first one is fixed. So we ordered the pizza when we were done, and had to have Kathryn leave her lesson to pick it, and we ate at 8:30 at night.

So the painting was done...then came the task of putting everything back...can I just say how thankful I am for my kids who stuck with the task until the end?

A few of the girls I couldn't photograph, because at one point two of them were painting in just bras, Jonathan made a comment, and I said to pretend they are bathing suits. We sang, we listened to blaring music, we laughed until we cried, and we encouraged each other to just get it done. We also took a moment to respect all those who do work like this for a living, day in and day out.

We are saying goodbye to some classic toys that graced our house for years...the little kitchen is going to some friends, and some other things will wait for Lydia...(Mali is moving into a house next month, from her apartment)

The living room feels more open, clean and fresh, and screaming for those valances to be made, ha. Next project....

We had to cancel our dentist appointments for today because we don't have a vehicle and if I drove Paul to work, we wouldn't make it in time because the appointment was for 8:20. We are out of milk and bread, but Irene's dad brought over cheesecake and ice cream last night, thankful we had Irene for the weekend while he and his wife went to Ohio for the weekend. So Camille is happily eating cheesecake for breakfast. A grocery store trip is on the horizon...because we are running out of half and half for the coffee:) And puppy chow.

Anyway, I'm glad the whole painting ordeal is mostly over...I still have lots of trim to paint, but not today.

Today, we'll stay home and do school and enjoy the clean new living room.

Monday, October 10, 2016

so got a cup of coffee and went back to bed with her book....

But alas, this is not how the story really went. No, she cleaned up a small neat pile of dog poop, after taking the three dogs outside, feeding and watering them, giving Duke his antibiotics and joint medicine...then wiping down the counters quick, making a pot of pumpkin spice coffee...I decided to just stay out here and blog...there's no school today, so kids are sleeping in...Margaret went to work, Paul went to work, and one of our vans is in the shop...Paul tried to fix the brakes, but one of the calibers got stuck, so it needs a professional, ha. That leaves me here with no vehicle. That means that no matter who wants to go where, I cannot take them, which is rather a nice thought. Paint The Living Room Day.

This is Evelyn Joy, with me. She is seventeen years old, and she is a wonderful girl. She is also, by her own admission, a witch with a capital "B", just ask her sisters. She is the middle child of the five-girls-in-a-row-in-five-years. She is hardworking when she wants to be, but she shares my affinity for books, and has no problem reading for hours at a time. She does her homework religiously, and is one of those rare competent children, who can actually think on their own, completing tasks without a step by step narrative. She can come into a situation, take charge, and get it done. Her people skills need polishing, she has a good heart, but like many capable people, she has no tolerance for slackers. This is a recipe for some pretty good arguing matches here in the home, as she has demands on her normal teenage sisters that they step up, they don't like listening to Evelyn rant, ect. But, I am thankful for Evelyn. She gets things done. She knows I want to paint, so she set the date weeks ago, which is now today. She decreed that none of the kids go anywhere no matter who invites them for what, that they all pitch in and get it all done in one day...ceiling, then walls. Of course at least one of her siblings said, "What? I never heard that. I made plans!"

So yesterday afternoon, she accompanied me to Lowes. Or rather, I went with her, she likes to drive. We started with a pumpkin spice coffee, then went to the dollar store, as lots of paint supplies are much cheaper there. We did end up with chocolate, too.

Lowe's. I love home improvement stores. I generally try to avoid them, as they make me want to, duh, improve my home. There has to be a balance between improving what can be improved, and being discontent and wanting to burn the whole thing down and start over, ha.

Anyway. We decided on paint color, picked out some nice ceiling paint and new rollers, and headed home.

It had been a very busy day. Mirielle was in her first half marathon, so Evelyn and I got up at 0-dark thirty, and went along, Emily too.

She was too cute. Milling around with all those 1,100 runners made me want to be an athlete too.

But...we spent our 2 hours and 17 minutes doing other things...those pancakes came with my scrambled eggs and bacon..pumpkin spice pancakes. They should be illegal. I thought, "Oh, I'll just taste them." ha. Do I not know myself by now? I did exercise sufficient self-control, I only ate a small amount, then saved them in a foam container, along with lots of that bacon, for Mirielle after her race.

Emily was trying to study for a big exam. She is extremely busy these days with college classes, she works full time and is studying to be a Nurse Practitioner. So Evelyn and I tried to talk quietly, looking on pinetrest for good shades of gray for our living room.

Then...we left the restaurant, and lo and behold, right there near the race finish line near the stadium, was the regional market flea market! Oh, the treasures! We were in love! As we were browsing, I heard a man say, "I saw you put that in your pocket Mam!", and it was my brother Joe! I haven't seen him in months! He said he often goes there on Sundays, (I can see why!) There's a fresh donut stand (it's all you can smell), he gets a coffee, and walks around. Anyway, it was so nice to talk to him...then Mirielle texted and said she was done with the race, and OOPS! We weren't there at the finish line! We hurried on over, and congratulated her...

I was proud of her! She didn't come in last, as she feared she would, ha, she did fine, and I am totally impressed that with her busy schedule, she has been training enough to run that far. She is also in school, working towards her Master's in nursing, while working full time. Oh, the bragging I do..sorry!

Anyway, we walked toward the car, wandering back through the market, we stopped and got a few fried doughs, I told Mirielle she earned it after all those miles. We bought some fresh local Alfalfa honey for the Emily.

Anyway. Here I sit. We have to move all the furniture into the middle of the room and cover it with plastic covers, then the fun begins. Painting ceilings is not my favorite, but we finished building this house in 1992, and the ceiling hasn't been repainted in here yet. (And remember our old oven leaked that sooty awful stuff?...)

It would be nice if the kids said, "Oh Mom, you just go get in bed with your book, we'll bring you coffee and Ezekial toast with butter and honey, we'll do all the painting. And we won't fight or argue at all! And we'll remember to take Sunny out every half hour or so, and we'll make lunch ourselves without making a huge mess! And we'll keep the dishes done and the kitchen clean too! And of course we won't splatter on the freshly painted window trim, nor will we paint a white skunk stripe down the back of Suri's sleek black..."

So tune in tomorrow to see if we actually accomplished all we set out to do...:)

Friday, October 7, 2016

pumpkin and spice and everything nice...

A little homeschooling field trip to the apple orchard yesterday...I was relieved to see the donut racks empty when we entered the store to get our bags to pick apples. No decisions to make on whether to buy some (no contest, of course I would!), and whether to just eat one (um, no, well, maybe...)...So, we went out and picked some apples...

We didn't pick very many, as I want to make sure they get eaten, and we can always go again, here in Central New York, there are apple orchards everywhere. Anyway, we went back into the store building to weigh and pay for the apples, and dang it, the donut case had just been refilled with steaming hot apple cinnamon donuts. Can you just smell it? And of course they are cheaper by the dozen, so yeah. And the cider...freshly pressed, okay, get a gallon that. And honey...from their own bees, right out back. A jar of that too.

Then the battle began...the donut battle. We got in the minivan with those bags, and Cam discovered she had left her water bottle in the store when they were picking out the donuts, so Jon went back in with her to get it, and I took a bite out of a donut and put it back in the bag. One bite. One yummy taste. I have a will of steel. ha, not really. Jon came back out, looked in the bag, and said, "One of these has a bite out of it!" um, sorry. That was me.

These dang kids though, there are still like five donuts out there on the counter! I thought they would be gone! Now the battle rages! :)

Pumpkin muffins are saving me. Mirielle made some the other day, and sent a few over, along with the recipe. I made a double batch, and oh are they good. They were labeled "donuts", but I skipped rolling them in sugar, and made them in muffin papers. I don't know if this recipe is stolen, but if it is, be assured that I am not making any money from posting it...

Pumpkin Muffins:

1/2 cup coconut flour
3/4 cup almond flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
3 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoons salt

4 large eggs, room temp.
7 tablespoons butter or coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup maple syrup (I used honey)
2 tablespoons coconut sugar or brown sugar (I think these were too sweet, and would lessen the honey and either omit the sugar, or use less)
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
2 teaspoons vanilla

(for the donut version, you are supposed to roll them in 1/3 cup coconut or regular sugar mixed with 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon) (I didn't) (but if you sprinkled a tiny bit of sugar and cinnamon before baking, yum)

Mix dry ingredients, in separate bowl the wet ingredients...add the dry to the wet and stir until just combined.

Bake in mini muffin pans for 11 - 13 minutes at 350

And they are good...very moist. I doubled the recipe, and store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator. They aren't the absolute healthiest things out there in terms of sugar content, but I like to see the girls grab these for breakfast, and they are pretty yummy.

So my latest project has been painting the trim of the living room windows. Before I started, I enthusiastically thought I would paint those three windows, then move to the kitchen, then the doors in the hallway, the trim around the kitchen door...oh, I was going to spiff the place up. But ugh, it's so tedious. I have to do a final coat on these living room windows, then put the furniture back...and a few days, begin the new valances...I don't know if I have the time or energy to paint this room, although it would look nice.

Yesterday, I was supposed to pick Sonja up at 1:00 for her orthopedic appt. The dr. office called in the morning, and said the dr. is no longer available in the afternoon, and could we come in at no, I said, thinking of the painting I wanted to do. Okay, said the nice receptionist, then we can't see her until the 19th. Sonja K. has been absolutely chomping at the bit, wanting to get back on that soccer field, so I couldn't do that to her. So I found myself picking her up at 11:00...and no, she's not healed up yet. She has another 6 weeks off of gym, and has been advised to continue physical therapy and keep up with the exercises...

She was not thrilled about that. So I took her to Kohl's and bought her a pair of boots. She needed them, and it was nice to be just with her for a bit. We then went to the grocery store for some burger, as it was a nice sunny day, and burgers on the grill!!!

Home...and out the door to the apple orchard with the younger kids...

Home...and I started painting. Kathryn grilled the burgers, the other girls helped slice tomatoes from the garden, onions, pickles, and steam some broccoli. I took a break for dinner, then got right back to painting...right until it was time to shower and to to bed. I am not so enthusiastic about painting all the trim in the house anymore, ha.

And now I shall give it one last coat, do some school with the kids, then get out the door for a dr. appointment for Sonja K., and Jonathan...we are all going, because afterward, a haircut for Jon...and maybe for Char...maybe for me...:)

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

real people, fat people, happy people...

Okay, I have been looking around for a nice dress to wear to Margaret's and Adrian's wedding. I tried a few on, and let's just say I should have had a drink first. So I sit in my comfy chair and scroll through the lovely mother-of-the-bride dresses online, and they look so nice! Because those ladies are not truly size 18. They don't have tummies that hang over their thigh-tops. They don't have love handles, or back fat. They don't have upper arms that resemble small thighs, only with more jiggle. They can actually wear high heels on their tiny little feet.

I would like to see, for once, REAL people in these clothes. No one would buy them, of course, but it would be nice to see....I would click on the back view and see rolls, thus being able to imagine myself in it.

So my dream dress would be gray or silvery, mature and demure, flowing softly over my tummy, covering my arms in delicate lace...and my dream price would be clearance rack, preferably %50 off the lowest price. I am not that picky, honestly, but I am not buying a peach or magenta dress just because they're cheap. It would just be really fun to find something fantastic at say...the thrift store.

Yesterday, Jonathan wasn't feeling well, so I went out and about with just Char and Cam. We went to Walmart for paint samples, and a can of white paint for window trim. We got sandpaper and a few paintbrushes, and a bag of beef jerky to snack on. Then to the fabric store, oh we love that place. I let them pick out a few things to put away for Christmas, and they helped me choose fabric for new living room valances and throw pillows.

Then home for a nice afternoon...I grilled chicken, made rice, and Sonja made a salad.

And now, I have a sewing machine that I want to drag out and set up, and painting I want to start...but this afternoon is gymnastics class...and tomorrow another trip to the small city for a dr. appointment, then back there again on Friday...but in between, I'm sure I can fit it in.

And now, before I change the laundry over, we shall do some school....

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

call me crazy....

Too early in the morning for pictures! Sunny thought 6:10 was a fine time to wake up, and that means she has to go outside immediately. It means that one old mama is dragged out of bed and into the misty autumn morning, leaving that warm bed regretfully.

We carry little treats in our pockets when we bring Little Miss Sunshine outside, when she goes potty, she gets praises and a treat. She is hilarious, she squats and pees, then comes over and sits down for the treat. She is going less and less inside the house, which is wonderful.

So yesterday we went out and about...

We went to the mall...which was a good thing, because I got some cute flower headbands for the little girls for the wedding (Margaret is getting married in December!). Claire's in the mall had a special, buy three things get two free...and I found things on the $2 five things for $6. :) We also got good things from Sears, their clearance stuff was all $3.99. Jonathan got some nice shorts and a few shirts, the girls found outfits for next summer, and I got a nice shirt.

Jonathan...he reminds me of a large breed puppy, ha. Those feet! He'll be growing into them any day now...he's only 12, but oh dear he's changing fast. He was less than thrilled with the shopping trip. I stopped for a coffee at the Dunkin kiosk, and the pots were all empty, the employee had just gotten there and her predecessor had neglected to keep them perking, so I had to wait for my coffee, which I assured her was really not a big deal at all. While I waited, I called the kids over and let them pick a out a donut, then the nice lady said they were on the house because I had to wait for my coffee. I protested, said it wasn't necessary, but she insisted. So they thanked her so nicely...and we left with my 99 cent coffee and three donuts.

So poor Jonny...he started feeling blah last evening, his temperature was 99.5...then this morning it's 100. So we cancelled our plans to meet Abigail for lunch at a park. Abigail is his best buddy, and we can't do it without him, it would be too mean.

Margaret's wedding dress is in, she has to go try it on and see if it needs alterations, so exciting! The dresses I ordered for the little girls should be coming today or tomorrow. I need to find something to wear, which I hate, because I look 12 months pregnant in everything. blah. In theory, who cares? In reality, I care, ha.

Paul made dinner last night, bacon and eggs. I toasted some English muffins and bagels for the kids and it was a nice little dinner. I had an afternoon snack which was horrible yet not too bad: an avocado blended with some cream cheese, a few tablespoons of canned pumpkin, pumpkin pie spices, and a spoon of honey...all blended up, like a green pumpkin pudding, with a small scattering of mini chocolate was dessert-y without being too carb-y. It was better than eating a pumpkin spice donut.

We renewed our gym membership yesterday, now I can take the kids to the pool whenever we want, happy!!!

There is simply not enough time in the day, too few days in the week. Lydia is coming over tonight...