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

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

bye bye, november....

Kathryn went with me today, we brought the three youngest to gymnastics..then we met Emily, Mirielle, Mali and her little girl Lydia, for lunch...

So Paul is feeling better (yay!)...I have realized lately how little all the rest of this stuff means. I love much.

Our dogs are so funny...I bought them squeaky toys today, and they of course fight over them like two year olds...(not Duke, he usually sleeps right through the whole thing) but one dog running around squeaking a toy and the other one trying to grab it, romping and running and wreaking all sorts of noise and havoc...

Jon is hiding the toy and squeaking it, and Sunny is going crazy...the looks on her face are priceless as she tries to find the source of the noise, and Jonathan is laughing his head off. Sunny has a wrinkly forehead, and when she does that thing, tilts her head to the side, she looks so hilarious.

So we never do get bored around here.

I plan to stay home tomorrow, get some good schooling in, move some furniture around in preparation for the Christmas tree...I talked to Samuel this evening. He is still wearing the 24 hour heart monitor. He is on Dead Man duty, which basically means he cannot do anything until he is cleared by the doctor, he has to wear the monitor for an entire month. He's coming home soon, is counting the days! :)

Ah well...time to turn off all the Christmas lights and go nighty night. The little girls are all giggly in their room still, but the older girls are all in their beds reading or doing homework. Sunny just jumped onto the couch with a hairbrush, um, no, that is NOT for you....

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

'tis the season!!!

Christmas cookies! They're from Starbucks in Target, and they're prettier than they taste. I bought two for the three of them to share, but they didn't complain. I had a blonde roast with lots of cream, oh yum.

The kids are doing school...Charlotte Claire has the coveted spot in front of the fake fireplace, so I let Cam bring a space heater out to put a blanket down in front of. Jonathan is in his room doing his work. These kids do not get bored. They started the day doing crafts, the kitchen tables are covered...glue and paint and ribbon and sparkles...they are painting a cardboard house, for one.

We have so many things we want to do! We want to try the branch to hang stockings on...paint it white, put glitter on it maybe...and hang it on the wall. I really want to make new stockings, I saw where they were made of burlap, white on the top with a few buttons for the boys, lace for the girls...but right now I would be insane to start a project like that...16 stockings plus the two granddaughters...(spouses/significant others can share). So...I am considering it.

But no, I can't! The wedding is almost upon us! It's on the tenth of December! We are having company the night before, here, in our messy house! Adrian, Margaret's fiance', tried to reassure me that it would be fine...but he didn't say, "Oh, your house is fine.", he said, "You have so many kids still at home, so many people here, it's understandable..." ha. Understandable. It really is funny, but I would rather have it pristine and lovely, thank you.

But whatever.

Yesterday we went to the library, I finished one of my books already, Vinegar Girl, by Anne Tyler. I really like her, A Spool Of Blue Thread was excellent. I like the kids to have plenty of good books to take to bed at night, they can read themselves to sleep instead of being on their tablets.

We went to Kohl's, and I let Jonathan pick out a nice sweatshirt for Christmas. The girls picked out some yoga pants, and we got a few gifts. Then to Target for candy canes an a few more gifts.

Home...and that's we are staying home today. It's windy and chilly and rainy, and it's SO cozy in here...we have Christmas lights, and the girls just made themselves hot tea. The puppy is lying on the rug by my feet. Margaret is working from home today, and Paul is too, he is still not feeling 100%.

Camille is working multiplying three digit numbers, but also is compiling a list of things she wants to do, I heard the word, "gingerbread..." (She is covered with a fleece blanket, and just said, "I win the cozy award!)..."waffle party, wrap presents, make fudge, watch Christmas movies...." She is a smart girl.

So thank you for kind words and prayers for my sister. She hasn't found out yet what the plan is, and can I just say that...not to be unbelieving or anything...but having to start in on CANCER TREATMENTS right before CHRISTMAS!! ? harrumph. I am still hoping they call her, and laugh their little heads off at the big mistake they made! Her tumor doesn't have malignant cells! It was a misunderstanding! She is FINE.

Well...I need to get my head in the game here, the kids are needing a teacher, and ha, that's me!

Monday, November 28, 2016

one foggy monday morning....

Little Miss Sunshine...she is a sunshine, mostly. But last night, she was bad. Everyone had gone on to bed, and I sat here for a bit, basking in the silence, the dogs all snoring, the house quiet for the night. Well. Sunny jumped off the couch, and started....sorry if you're eating your brekkie...she...well, she got sick. She is a scarfer, a counter surfer, a garbage picker, she's a part time monster. So I scooted her little butt out the door, made sure she also went pee while we were out there, we came back in, and I gathered the supplies to clean up the mess. As I gathered the paper towels, she ran to the other end of the living room and squatted....and started to poop! No way Jose! I brought her out once again, then had to clean up THAT mess. rrr. And just to make it more fun, one of the kids had left a piece of pizza on the counter...she jumped and grabbed it, and would NOT drop it. We practice DROP IT, but she's a smart dog, and she is not going to drop yummy homemade pizza. No sir. She is going to play run-around-the-circle, eluding me and gobbling that pizza at the same time. By the time I caught her, she had eaten it all. I tried luring her with treats, but she already had a pretty good treat, and would not be tricked.

Anyway. She's a handful. She has someone's winter hat right now, I guess I get up again and play DROP IT. I have already taken her out like four times today.

I hope the snowman enjoyed her short life. She WAS a girl snowman, Emily made her with the little girls on Thanksgiving day.

The three high school girls got on the bus this morning, after having an entire week off. They had two snow days preceding Thanksgiving vacation. The younger kids are still sleeping, we have to get moving on our school. Paul is home sick, he has a fever, and I am a tad bit concerned about him, but he says he's fine. Just sick.

Some stories are not mine to tell, but I will tell you this, because every other thought that flits through my head is this, "My sister has cancer."

This is my sister Cheryl with me, and our four remaining brothers.

She is my buddy, my friend, we are on the same wave length.

And she has cancer. I won't get into the details, because it's her story, and because she doesn't know much yet, just lab results.

I am trying here, trying to take the same advice I gave to her...take ONE day at a time. Do not be anxious for tomorrow. God has this, He sees the big picture.

But in it all there is such a deep sadness in my heart. I don't want to be morbid, or fatalistic, or a person with no hope, but I don't, can't... live without my sister. So I won't even go there, I will fight to believe that each day, God sends exactly what we need. One day at a time. Just today.

If you are a praying person, pray for my sister. She is the oldest of us seven kids, and has seven kids herself, all girls. She is the grandma of the darling twins I have over sometimes, and of little Davian. My sister is of the tribe of Joseph (The Anne Of Green Gables books...), she and I can communicate without even looking at each other.

Margaret's wedding is in 12 days! Guess who is buying all the food? uh huh. This coming weekend is a Christmas concert at church, then on Sunday, Paul and I are driving to Ottowa with Emily and Mirielle for a birthday feast for a friend. Oh, and on Friday I am going to Emily's White Coat Ceremony, signaling the beginning of clinicals in her Nurse Practioner program. So there is fun, and there is busyness, and there is the the thought running through my head about my sister...:)

Saturday, November 26, 2016

black friday matters...

Evelyn and I got out the door by 8 a.m. yesterday for a little Black Friday fun. Target was wiped out, decimated of deals, out of good stuff. Yet we still managed to get a few people crossed off my Christmas list. Walmart had TOO much good stuff. And nice people, too! The media proclaims far and wide about the violence and flaring tempers, but there are the nice people too. As we rooted through the four dollar sweat pants bin for a size medium, a gentleman from across the cardboard bin offered to help. In Sears, the lady in line in front of us was lamenting that her husband just didn't understand why she had to buy MORE Christmas decorations. Ha, #womeneverywhere. The two ladies behind us bonded over their common afflictions, namely aching feet. One nice lady put her two cents in and enlightened us on a sale in a different store, where the item we were looking at was much cheaper. Another lady talked me into buying a nifty gadget for Paul, I had considered it then put it down, and she said to buy it, it's amazing. No, she didn't work for the store.

So we had fun, spent too much money, drank too much coffee, and got so much done. Every year I tell the kids they aren't getting much for Christmas, they don't believe me anymore, but this year it's true. They are all growing up, so I can't just have a closet full of toys anymore. Their taste in clothes rarely matches up 100% with what I choose. Electronics are way too costly. They have iPods instead of phones (how can people afford phones for their kids?!), their iPods are getting old and cracked...last year we got one of them a new one, this year it's not on my list to replace any. I let them choose boots from Kohl's, and ordered them online.

It's not about the gifts, but as a mom, I want them, each one of them, to know I care about them. I want to get them something that makes their eyes light up. Yeah, I have been been brainwashed. As we were shopping yesterday, Evelyn announced, "I have been overtaken by the Christmas spirit."

We are having a wedding in a few weeks, so two of my sons will be here for a week, but not for Christmas. I told Sam not to worry, we'll have a wonderful time...Christmas cookies, all frosted and yummy, cinnamon buns in the morning, coziness...

It's really not about the gifts. But. The girls have a gift exchange in the youth group. A few of them have a gift exchange with friends. There's a gift exchange at church where the older kids buy for the little kids (which I think is amazing, it's so nice to see teenagers be so kind and thoughtful). And we have a family Secret Santa. So...guess who gets to buy a lion's share of those gifts? Yup. It makes my head spin.

But today, we are staying least I think we are. I want to finish Christmas decorating, do some projects with the little kids...

Anyway...the best part of Christmas is having the kids here...

Thursday, November 24, 2016

thankfulness post....

It's so easy to list off what we're thankful for, our hearts just brim with it when everything's going well. Take this morning, for example. I woke up, bound and DETERMINED to be thankful for each and every thing that comes my way. Determined to be done with all complaining. The steps were icy when I took the dogs outside, there was one cup of cold coffee in the pot, then I had to take Sunny out a second time...she peed like a good girl, but then started circling and squatting on the deck as we were going back in the house, so back down the icy steps we forward to new coffee, dogs all fed, load of towels put into the washer, time to sit down and write my thankfulness post...and where in the H (heck, of course) is my computer? I had to go room searching, it was in the second one I checked.

And guess what? rrr. Already, rrr. But my conviction to be thankful remains in place, I didn't give in and slam the door, ha.

Anyway. Today is Thanksgiving. Evelyn and I made six pumpkin pies last night. Suzanne, Charlotte Claire, and Camille helped peel apples for two huge apple pies. Then I made two chocolate pudding pies...and somehow I cooked INSTANT pudding. In the store, I distinctly asked one of my daughters if it was the right kind, and oh yes, Mom, it's the cook kind...I don't put my glasses on for every little thing, but maybe they're right, maybe I do need one of those glasses chains. Anyway, I had those buttery flaky pie crusts all baked and cooled down, and I put the pudding on the wasn't turning out right. So I fetched the box from the garbage, found my spectacles, and yup. Wrong pudding. Jonathan declared that it tasted fine, so we have two chocolate pies in the fridge that aren't my usual.

We are planning on having brunch, then a later dinner. Our overnight French Toast didn't get made. The girls were invited to a birthday party yesterday evening, Jon too, and Evelyn brought them. The girls left here weren't much interested in more kitchen stuff, especially because Kathryn made us marvelous Keto pizza, and Suzanne made three frozen pizzas...we were done. So we will just have regular French toast, but we have some really nice Italian bread to make it with.

When I was a little girl, we only had black olives on Thanksgiving. We weren't dirt poor, but we didn't have much. We were a YAY It's Payday! kind of family. It was like the apex of good eating, which gradually went downhill, until it was pancakes with corn in them for dinner the day before the next payday. Payday eating was having our own chicken leg, instead of chicken in some sort of soup or casserole, or having hamburgers. The rest of our dinners seemed to involve Spam, pasta, and eggs.

So Thanksgiving was really special. We saved the crusts from the bread loaves, put them in the freezer, Casey and I had the job of breaking the slices into mother would mix in onions and celery, sage, salt and pepper, and pour the dripping from the turkey into it, mix it all up with her hands, and it was the best stuffing. She always made piles of pies, it was absolutely the only time of the year we had pie.

I remember the windows steaming up from the turkey roasting, and the smell of the house. My father wasn't a very social man, he sat at the table with us for a little while and we tried to behave, but when he left the table and sat in his chair in the living room with his newspaper, the fun at the table began. There were seven of us kids, and we certainly had a good growing up.

It makes my heart sad that these Thanksgivings will be fond memories for my own kids, someday. They too will grow up and have their own families. I miss my parents like crazy around the holidays.

But it's not a day to be sad.

Our puppy is doing better, she seems to have turned the corner in the housebreaking business...she's not beyond an accident, but she seems to have figured out that inside is not the right place...she only peed inside once yesterday that I am aware of. And two nights with no accidents! She is a little sunshine...a sunshine who still keeps an eye on what might be reachable on the tables and counters, who chews shoes with no partiality. She still roughhouses with Suri, they drive me nuts.

Anyway. It's Thanksgiving, and I am the mom. That means that I have to get out of my comfy chair and start doing stuff. Our house feels laden with good stuff...heavy whipping cream and baby dill pickles, fresh green beans and those crunchy little onions...and pie, oh I can't wait for pie.

Paul is out hunting again, he'll be back for dinner.

The kids are all still sleeping, I have been out with the puppy four times now, it's good exercise but not exactly relaxing. She needs to learn to hold her bladder for longer periods of time. My coffee got cold...

Yesterday Miss Sonja Kathleen went to the doctor for her knee, and was cleared to go ahead and play sports and gym again, after all these months of physical therapy. We parked on the street, and some of the sidewalks were covered in two feet of snow, so we had to walk in the road.

We went to Wegman's, it was a madhouse. I had to wait ten minutes just to get a parking spot.

Our microwave broke the other started smelling and making a funny noise, then didn't heat the frozen veggies...I just unplugged it....and resigned myself to buying a new one. I did my research, yet we ended up getting one from Walmart. The ones in BJ's were on sale online, but not in the store. Then, it was time for gymnastics...a drive through coffee at this nice little new place, then a nice hour of watching the kids tumble and jump around.

Home...put everything away, start on pies, finish pies at 10:00 p.m., way tired.

This is Mirielle...she's my fourth child, but alas, no longer a child, at 26. She's a nurse in the cancer department (department? ward? center?) at the big hospital in the city, Emily also works there, in the medical ICU. Anyway, Mirielle has to work a 12 hour shift today. That makes me sad, because she's an excellent planner, a really good cook, and so much fun when the whole family is here. Nurses don't always get the holidays off, and when you have four nurses in the family (Aaron is in California anyway, but still, ha.), it's extremely rare to have an occasion where ALL of them can make it. I am sad that Mirielle isn't going to be here, but thankful for those patients that are blessed with her care, I know I am probably a little biased, but I think must be an excellent nurse...she's always been thoughtful and the kind of girl who would use all of her money to buy a gift for someone. A bit ago one of her sisters was going through a hard time, so Mirielle ordered her a dress, and told her a present was coming in the mail for her. One of life's greatest blessings is when your kids grown up and become your friends.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

it's pie day!!!!!

This fine morning, after wasting an inordinate amount of time trying to put cute puppy pictures on this blog, along with one cute kitty picture, and a pic of a random guy holding a cat with the saying, "Feline Paralysis: The condition one has when one cannot get up because of having a cat on his or her lap."

I don't know why I can't put pics on, but when I click on one, they all light up, and I am not putting a few hundred pictures on this post.

So I have a lot of kids, we know this. We also know that for years upon years, two and a half decades...I was sleep deprived. Sleep starved. There were times and seasons of more and less, but mostly I had less. Fast forward to now, my youngest is nine. I get to sleep through the night, yay me! Well. There are dogs. Dogs who like to get up before dawn some mornings...dogs who interrupt my dark cozy slumber with those irritating intermittent yelps.

When I come out here to take them out, they are BEYOND HAPPY to see me! Oh, the smiles on their faces, they wag their entire bodies, knocking each other out of the way to be closest to me! Their barks worked! I appeared!

It's a good thing they're cute, I'll tell you that. And believe you me, I have written their craigslist ads in my head more than once, on those days where I am convinced that three dogs is three dogs too many. ha.

So I got up at six, on a day when there is no school.

I have taken them out three times, washed dishes, wiped down the counters, and made coffee. They are fed and watered, and played with, now snoring on the couch. Miss Charlotte Claire is the first child awake this morning, besides Jonathan, who went hunting with Paul way early this morning.

This fine morning isn't for lounging around though. I have to bring Sonja to her orthopedic appointment, which was cancelled Monday due to the snow storm. Four hours later is gymnastics, and it makes no sense to drive from the small city to home then back again, so I will be bringing the little girls...and all the other girls who have been in the house so much lately. So it will be a whole van full of us going out and about...buying ingredients for pies, and food for tomorrow's thanksgiving feast.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

snowy days, snowy roads...

The storm has wound down, the snow has stopped...the kids had a second snow day today, so we are drowning in Cozy. Cozy, you know, the fake fireplace glowing and humming, the white lights in the windows, chocolate cookies baking. Cozy...the fragrance of coffee brewing. Cozy...a Monopoly game played by kids wrapped in blankets. Cozy...popcorn and tea and watching, "Eloise At Christmastime..."

I did take a quick trip to town today to get a bag of dog chow, some eggs, bananas, and stuff for taco salad for dinner. We did have a turkey dinner yesterday, but not a traditional Thanksgiving meal...I had to cook the turkey because it wouldn't fit in the we had it with just rolls and three different veggies, and cranberry sauce. I froze all the leftovers, including the gravy/juices, so that we wouldn't tire of turkey right before Turkey Day. (Joseph never gets tired of turkey, so I did leave a baggie in the 'fridge for him, which is gone already...)

Anyway, I was able to go to town today, but hurried back so Paul could go back out hunting before dark. He took Jonathan with him today, they spotted a few, shot at one, hit it, tracked it, lost it. :( (deer).

Lydia is coming over soon, and Joseph and Evelyn left to work at the basketball game, I didn't have to work this one, yay!

I don't mind the winter, the cold, the blustery wind whipping around the house...I just hate driving in it.

Tomorrow I have to get up early to do our Thanksgiving dinner shopping, take Sonja to the orthopedic doctor, then take the three youngest to gymnastics.'s time to make pies! I suggested we just have pumpkin and chocolate, but one daughter whined for apple. Hmm, did anyone whine for blueberry or lemon meringue?

Emily's bringing the squash from her garden, and I will get some wine. It will be a nice holiday, but Mirielle will be at work, a 12 hour shift on Thanksgiving. It rarely works out for all of them to have a holiday off, so we try to pick a day near the holiday to celebrate, this year Thursday itself works for all but one, so...wah. I love having Mirielle in the kitchen, she is a riot and she knows how to get things done.

So we will have let's see...17 here for dinner.

One of them is little Lydia, our littlest sunshine. (I can't wait though, Miss Anya, our west coast granddaughter, is coming soon!!!!! She'll be here for a few weeks!)

We're having brunch first, overnight French Toast, crepes with berries, scrambled or fried eggs, sausage, bacon...that's enough food for an entire day, ha. Orange juice, coffee...mmm.

Monday, November 21, 2016

snow day!!!!!

No school today!!!

The back yard...

Sunny likes the snow.

They all like it...well, not Duke. He just does his business, then stands next to me, shifting his weight on his old rickety legs. He will whine if I don't bring him in. When it was time for them to go outside a second time, he chose to stay inside on his rug.

I woke up early this morning and checked my phone, sure enough, school was cancelled. Paul was supposed to go hunting with Jonathan, but there's a travel advisory, and the snow is coming down, wind howling around the house...and it's so cold out there! 28 degrees, but so windy!

It's invigorating to go out into this storm, but so nice to come in, shake the snow off, put my sweater and slippers on, and have hot coffee. The dogs are tired out from the extra work it is to play in the snow, all three snoring on the I don't have to be on alert, watching for Sunny to start sniffing around, jumping up to take her out before she makes a little puddle. Oh the joy of puppies.

We had a wedding shower for Margaret yesterday and it was lovely. The food came out really good, and the whole thing fell together nicely, phew. My cake disaster...have I written about my cake disaster? Oh dear. Friday, I went shopping for the food for the shower. Then Miss Cam and I decided to go to Kohl's because I had $40 Kohl's cash and still need a nice dress for the wedding...first we stopped at McDonalds to get an iced coffee for me, and a frappe for her (I had a buy one get one free coupon) (It was so warm on Friday, we chose iced drinks. Today it's 28 degrees out.) Well, after we drove away, I sipped, and yuck, it had sugar in it! Not only do I hate sugar in coffee, I don't want to waste calories on it, raise blood sugar, ect. Cam felt bad because I really had wanted that coffee...anyway, we went in and looked for dresses. I told her I wanted something really big, really dressy, and really cheap. She would pull them out, and check tags and prices, and it was so funny. We found three to try on, and no way Jose'. No dice. I kiddingly whined about it, and Camille felt so sorry for me, I told her I was fine, I was just teasing her.

So after a day of shopping, we got home and put things away...(Kathryn so nicely did school with Jon and Char for me). It was time to make the cake. I did not feel like making the cake, but Saturday I had to work at the college football game, then go straight to Mali's new place for a housewarming party. So I made a homemade vanilla recipe that I have made before, it is scrumptious. Well. It burnt on the outside and was soupy in the middle. I tried to save it. I cut off the crusts, and tried to invert the pan and drop it out onto a tray, but only half of it came out of the pan. I was left with part of a cake, really moist yummy crumples of a cake. I wrapped it up, threw away the burnt pieces, and did my favorite Scarlett O'Hara impression, "I'll just think about it tomorrow..."

I ended up buying two cakes from Wegman's.

No one died from eating store cake. In fact, Wegman's makes super yummy cakes. The gold standard around these parts. It did almost kill ME, because to me, homemade from scratch is the ultimate, and I love making cakes for things like this. Plus, Wegman's cakes are expensive. But I survived, and it was so easy to not have to patch up that poor excuse for a cake.

Camille...she's so sensitive...when the cake disaster happened, I was all like, ARE YOU KIDDING ME????! But as soon as I started reacting like that, I realized she was standing there with a look on her sweet little face...and I asked her if she wanted me to get upset. She said, "No, Mommy!" And I told her that when she was tempted to get upset, to remember that God wants us to to be happy, to take things right, and not get mad and sad and stompy. It was hard for me, I admit it.

But I'm thankful I was able to buy replacement cakes.

And now we still have that poor excuse for a cake all wrapped up, ready to be mixed with a can of chocolate frosting, dipped into melted chocolate, and made into....cakeballs for a snow day!

There's a turkey in the 'fridge all thawed and ready to cook, so we're having a pre-Thanksgiving turkey dinner.

It's a good day.

Friday, November 18, 2016

christmas decorations diy

Our sweater wreath!!! We like to look at DIY stuff, and found this, had to try it. We bought a sweater at the thrift store for $2, used a piece of a pool noodle that my sister gave me, and bought some felt squares to make the flowers...Camille was chomping at the bit to make it, so we got out the hot glue gun and got to work. Of course we had to put it up right away, and it didn't blend well with all the orange autumn/Halloween/Thanksgiving decorations...wreaths, yellow and brown and orange flowers, little we threw the pumpkins off the deck into the woods, and packed up the rest of it.

We haven't totally decorated for Christmas, it's too early, but we did replace to cozy orange lights with white ones, and have a few things up...

It's fun to break the rules once in a while, even if they are my own in Christmas Stuff Goes Up The Day After Thanksgiving.

This golden oak framed mirror has been in our living room for's white now, and I like it. We can't decide if we like this berry-ish garland or not, it has fairy lights too...

In any case, it's fun, and the little girls enjoy it.

Today is Shopping For Food For Margaret's Wedding Shower Day. I have to write out a list, and get to work.

Anonymous asked why "don't they do a biopsy" on the lump on my breast, which is a good question. I have an appointment coming up to talk about the whole thing with my general practioner soon, so we'll see. But here's something interesting, at least to me: I think I am gluten-intolerant. Last year when I had that wicked pain in my lower right side, then by the time I had tests done (CT scan,ect.), it was better, and nothing showed up. I felt like a hypochondriac. I have noticed such pain here and there throughout the year, but the other night after eating two and a half slices of that delicious homemade bread: wham. It lasted a few days, overwhelming pain in my lower right side. Now it's gone. I don't eat bread normally, except for Ezekial cinnamon raisin, which is made from sprouted grains. I eat tortilla chips in moderation, and popcorn sometimes, but don't usually eat wheat. Last year, I had fallen into the cut-out cookie trap, and that may have been the trigger. It's been a few years since I have been eating like this, and I have read that when you cut something out, re-introducing it can cause reactions. Call me crazy, but I need all the help I can get to stay away from things like that, so hopefully the remembrance of pain will deter me, ha.

Pumpkin spice coffee is brewing. The pups are asleep. Little Miss Sunshine is adorable and sweet, but still not housebroken. The other day, Paul asked if she had a good day, and I told him she hadn't peed in the house all day. well. She seems to have taken a turn for the worse, christening little throw rugs, and peeing every little while. I am hoping it's just a phase she's going through. I found myself in tears this morning, so much of my time is taken up with her. I took the three dogs outside to run around, Duke runs in one circle, rolls on his back in the leaves, then plops down at my feet to get pet. The other two chase and run like crazy. I stood there in the frosty grass, breathing in the fresh cold air, really thinking about things. Yes, it's a pain in the neck to clean up messes. Yes, we feel like we've done everything we're supposed to do (if we catch her peeing, say, NO, take her outside quickly, give treats for each time she goes outside, right after she goes, ect ect ect)

So there I stood, all upset and perplexed and flummoxed. Then I it really the end of the world? What if she NEVER got potty trained? Would my whole life be miserable and not worth living? Do I really want to just wish all these days away, holding on to that never arriving time when all my ducks will be in a row, when I don't have messes to clean up any more, and perhaps all other things are in order and I feel great? Today, today is my life. Today always has trials. Some days more than others. But it IS my life. We try and change what we can for the better, but it's also vital to be at peace...that come what may, it's not TOO MUCH for me. God causes ALL things to work together for the good for those who love Him...we have the freedom to have pets or not have pets, that's not really the's that whatever trial comes our way, the real issue is how we choose to react to it.

I talked to my son Samuel last night, he has to wear a heart monitor for a month. His tests came out fine, but they want to make sure he's okay. I am just hoping his leave request is accepted, so he can be here for the wedding. :)

We successfully stayed home for the entire day yesterday. I chalk-painted something I got at barn sale, for one of the girls for Christmas, Camille put the coats of wax on it for me. We made a triple batch of chocolate chip cookies, to warm up the house and have a nice snack for when the three high school girls got off the bus. No, I did not eat one. I did taste the dough though, oh yum. I had to slap myself silly to stop from just eating spoonfuls.

I made pumpkin waffles for the kids. I wanted some, but instead made up some pumpkin butter for my Ezekial toast...just butter, a little bit of honey, and...pumpkin, with pumpkin pie spice too. Yeah, it was good. is good. :)

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

homemade bread, puppies, and showers...

Little Miss Sunshine...

And bread! I have never ever made homemade bread before, and decided on a whim to buy some yeast yesterday when in the store with the homeschooled kids...we were deciding what to have for our dinner, which was going to be a fun lonely dinner for only five kids and me. Paul and the older kids were working at the college basketball stadium. Anyway, I have made plenty of bread years ago in the breadmaker...oh, that was fun, just dump in the ingredients, push the buttons, and it made bread. It was lovely, but never enough bread for all these kids. I liked making pizza dough in it too, but it took all day to make three or four batches, so I had to actually think ahead and start in the morning, ha.

Anyway, bread happened. I let all the kids who wanted to, give it a bit of kneading. The smell of it baking, then having it sliced up hot with butter...oh joy. It hurt my tummy though, I don't eat bread these days...but it was worth it.

Today, we did some school, then I took just Miss Camille and went to the thrift store. Gymnastics was cancelled, so they set up mats all over the living room and did it at home. Anyway, Cam and I went to the thrift store. I found the little girls some cute sweaters, and a sweater for the sweater wreath we are going to make, and a few other trinkets.

Then to the dollar store to get table cloths for the wedding shower. I also found bags of Dove Mocha Swirled chocolate drops...I haven't opened any, they're for the shower, and some for Christmas. They also had the bags of Dove chocolate covered blueberries with cashews, which Evelyn opened, and I tried...oh they're good.

It's time to make dinner, and yours truly doesn't feel like it. Margaret took three of her sisters (Kathryn, Suzanne, and Sonja) out shopping, then they're going to Mali's place to babysit for little Lydia Eleanor for a few hours. Joseph is taking Char and Cam to Activity club in a few hours, so it will just be Evelyn, Jonathan, Paul, and I here.

And...dinner does not make itself.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

and you're good to go...

My lump has not grown, I am fine. I prayed to be at peace one way or the other, but I experienced a full on spiritual assault of fear while I lay there in the darkened room, that sono wand prodding my underarm while the tech paused to type and take still pictures. Why is she stopping, what does she see? The wave of fear came suddenly, the feeling of...oh no, this is IT. The dreaded diagnosis.

As I waited there alone while the doctor reviewed the results, bracing myself yet fighting for that peace, I decided to be thankful still. And when I heard the words, "The lump is still small, you're good to go, your doctor will let you know when you need to come back...", it was like Christmas!!!

So yay, and now I have to get out the door with the three youngest, dentist appointment for Jonathan...

Thank you for kind words, encouragement, and prayers. :)

Monday, November 14, 2016

nothing to complain about ever, never...

Have you ever experienced gratitude so profound that you vowed to never complain about anything ever again? Maybe a prayer answered, maybe a cancer scare that turned out fine? Well four years ago, I hugged my son Benjamin upon his return from Afghanistan. I hugged him, and all was right in the world. Just because I have sixteen of them doesn't mean I love them any less, and those months of his deployment...let's just say I'm glad they're in the past. I didn't exactly live in utter dread, but thoughts did cross my mind when the phone rang, and I was always truly happy to hear his voice, and him say he was fine, although I'm sure he never told me the half of it.

When a soldier comes home from a wartime deployment, there is a certain amount of guilt, because of those who didn't return. I remember being very aware of how lucky we were, and feeling some of that guilt myself, and compassion for the parents who lost their soldiers. These soldiers feel guilty for surviving when some didn't, they feel like they didn't see anything compared to some, and if they have no outward wounds then heck, they have nothing to complain about.

When Samuel joined the Army, it was like, "Oh no, here we go again...". His ASFAB scores were good, really good, he could have chosen some nifty career options, but no, he was infantry all the way, all he ever wanted to do. So when he was asked to join the Honor Guard, it was an answer to prayer...because the Old Guard generally do not deploy. So Sam has had his share of trials in his Army life, but PTSD for him.

Anyway..the thankfulness we feel when our prayers are answered tends to fade and disappear as life goes when I saw these pictures this fine morning, and recalled the pure joy of hugging Ben, I decided to just be thankful today.

Yeah, Sunny peed on the floor. Yeah, one of my teenagers was snippy. Yeah, Paul had to wake up at 5-something to take an international call for work and accidentally unplugged the fan, which may not have fully awakened me if he hadn't said, "Sorry!", as he plugged it back in.

So my thankfulness isn't because life is smooth sailing. (You should have seen the stacks of dishes in the sink this morning! And the crumbled leaves and dirt the dogs brought in!)

As I head in for my sonogram today, I aim to hang on to that gratitude. I am aware that I am an easily shaken person, I have so many fears, but to have faith that God plans all things for our best, and resting in that, is not compatible with living in anxiety. So that's my fight for be at rest.

Hebrews 2:14 - 16....

"Insamuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For indeed He does not give aid to angels, but He does give aid to the seed of Abraham."

Have a really good day!!!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

late night "i should be in bed" post...

I stayed up to decompress. To settle down, relax, let my hair down, put my feet up. I will spare the details of my busy weekend, but listen at least to this: I grilled six racks of ribs, then put them in the oven on a low temp to sizzle for several hours...then peeled 10 pounds of red potatoes for mashies (with Evelyn), cut up asparagus, and steamed mixed veggies...we had two friends of Jonathan's here for dinner, Abigail was here, and Emily and Mirielle stopped after work for dinner. Lydia was here too.

I talked to Sam on the phone this evening, pray that his leave packet is accepted! His first packet was lost by those above him on the totem pole, the Army is so reassuringly efficient. He is so ready to come home and celebrate his younger sister's wedding! He is still on light duty because of his concussion, and has a test for his heart this week.

As for me...tomorrow I have to go in and have the sonogram of the nice little lump on my breast...the one that was given the All Clear sign six months ago...those six months went by fast. I probably would have procrastinated the heck out of the recheck, but the dr. office called me, and made the appointment at the diagnostic imaging center for me.

I am not worried about it, as there is absolutely no use worrying about things I cannot change. But. I don't want there to be anything wrong. I would rather just live until I am 101, rocking along side Paul and Emily in our creaky old chairs at the nursing home. And worry is an interesting thing. I know that God already knows the ifs and the whats. I know that He is in control and sends only what's for my very best.

Kathryn offered to bring me to my appointment, which I gladly accepted. If that lump has grown and misbehaved, it would be nice to have her there. I remember back when I was pregnant for Robert, and at a routine check up found out that his little heart wasn't beating...I had driven myself there, and drove back home on autopilot, not breaking down until I was safely in the house...I can't remember now who was with me that day, I think Abigail...and we stopped at the dollar store, and I had her go in and buy treats for the kids at home, as if that would help buffer the news that they weren't getting a new baby brother in a few months.

Anyway. I am not going to be consumed by worry. I will get it checked out, and can I add that I am pretty thankful for modern medicine?

27 days until the wedding. Next weekend is the wedding shower, plus an open house at Mali's new place. Rehearsal brunch, the our family celebration while all are home for the wedding...getting the much fun coming up. I have to be okay, ha.

Sometimes I realize that I am not going to just live forever...and the thing that makes me the saddest when I realize that? The little girls. And Jon...and the teenage I can't think about it.

But no more gloomy thoughts. Morose is a wonderful word, but a horrible state of mind.

And now I am going to be a good girl and get to's almost midnight.

Friday, November 11, 2016

veterans day greetings....

My dear son of my favorite kids. He was born on Veterans Day, so he always had the day off from school. Benjamin was one of my most energetic kids, he was enthusiastic and charming and quite a little handful growing up. His teenage years...oh my goodness. I wore out my knees in prayer for him...and he turned fine...more than fine, but hey, I don't want to brag too much. I'm thankful for him, you all know he was in Afghanistan as a medic, and he made it home safely, transitioned out of the Army to an apprenticeship in heating/air conditioning. I don't like that he settled near his last base, near Seattle, on the total opposite side of this huge country of ours, but you can't have everything.

I am also so thankful for my Army son Samuel, serving in the President's Honor Guard.

Camille's sitting with me now, the three high school girls are home from school, Paul has the day off from work, so I can't write right now...:)

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

when it's dark and rainy....

View from my front window...the trees are getting stark. The darkness makes it cozy in here, with those fake flames dancing in the new fake fireplace, the dogs snoring on the couch.

Yesterday, it was sunny and nice...I went for a walk...

These cows weren't worried about the election.

It was a lovely autumn day.

Today is a lovely day too. The election news has many feeling ill, in shock. It's as if they had already written their praises for H.C.'s win, and when they had to scramble to give the nod to Mr. T., it was grudgingly, pointing out his flaws...oh, the regret in their voices that she's not the winner.

Honestly, I'm glad it wasn't her. I don't want our rights restricted even more, and I think that's the way she was headed, plus I don't trust her. She doesn't come off as a kind, warm, loving woman., ha.

Yesterday I sanded the wood frames around the kitchen windows, so I can paint them. In the afternoon, I went to the craft store with Margaret. I cannot go to craft stores. I cannot. Since I changed the colors of the living room, I wanted to change up the Christmas decor a little bit...and oh dear, the ideas I got, walking through that craft store! We already want to make a sweater wreath with a pool noodle, but now I have lots of other little projects as well. We bought some rose petals for the little flower girls, and some lovely decorations for the tables.

Tonight, I am going to a LulaRoe party. My friend/sister-in-law is a new representative, or whatever you call it, she now sells LulaRoe clothes. They are pricey, but very nice. I bought leggings and a skirt a few months ago, and really like them. I offered to bring a few of my daughters, and they accepted...but now I wondered if that was really smart, ha.

(The clothes are comfy, and soft, and flexible as far as sizes go...)

Anyway. Today is gymnastics, and also half price at the thrift store. Last week we had too much fun, the kids found a digital camera, in the box, with cords and the case, instructions, and everything, for $5.99. They have had more fun with it...and Camille has a really old iPod, her being low man on the totem pole, kids passing them on. She needed a charger, and found a docking station for just a few bucks, and it works. And of course I found my ugly oak mirror that transformed into exactly what I was looking for, painted with white chalk paint. Oh, and Jon found a Monopoly Build It game, the pieces still in the packages, for four dollars.

So we may go there today before gymnastics.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

election day, and other tales of woe...

Kathryn and I the Chinese buffet...the place I didn't want to go, but I let Camille choose where she wanted to go after the pool.

Jonathan with cousin Dani, Cam, and Char.

Here's the woe...the whole election. It's ridiculous. Yes, we want America to be great again. But insults and threats and such disrespect for women from one candidate...and the other, I don't even know where to start...she looked the other way while her husband philandered and flirted and lied...then she lied and lied and lied...the whole thing is so embarrassing and unbelievable...the only good thing is to rest assured that whoever ends up in that White House, God allowed it.

Also, speaking of woes, I am woefully out of shape. But I shall not give up hope! Swimming felt great yesterday, when I got out of bed this morning, I had that familiar after exercise muscle achy-ness, and it actually felt wonderful. Never mind that the scale was really mean to me. I shall not give up. My plan was to lose like fifty pounds before the wedding, but instead...I went the other way...I had a nice weekend in Virginia...and usually, I can get serious, and lose the extra few pounds...but...anyway...ha, I am getting more serious now. Remember, I am broken. If I gain a few pounds, it doesn't mean I was really bad, or that I binged big just means I ate NORMALLY a few times, or for a few days in a row. My metabolism is shot...exercise, low carbs, no sugar...that's what I need to get there.

Here's the thing: I am excited. Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat. The wedding is in 32 days. We want to get the Christmas tree before the wedding, because the kids from far away will be here, and we are doing our Secret Santa gift exchange the day after the wedding.

We are knee deep in wedding plans. :)

Monday, November 7, 2016

my baby, my buddy, my little friend....

Happy Birthday, Camille!!! Nine years old, and just as sweet as ever!

She chose lemon cupcakes, which out of my three specialties, are the most labor intensive...the zest of nine lemons, fresh-squeezed took several hours to make them, make the frosting, and decorate them. But oh they are good...simple syrup (some of the fresh lemon juice with sugar)on the top before icing them...just a bit more tang...a bit more flavor...the frosting is made from lots of butter, lemon zest, and of course lots of confectioner's sugar.

They were too too good, and I ate one...! I sent a container of them with Emily to take to work, nurses deserve cupcakes. I wrapped the rest up, two to a baggy, and put them in the refrigerator, out of sight, slightly out of mind. The cake is still wrapped in the fridge...mmm.

Anyway. Miss Cam is nine. She had presents yesterday, one sister got her an art kit, one the Twister game and a pretty necklace, and one a Kindle Fire tablet and a nice sweater. She had ham for dinner, as requested, and baked potatoes, and a big pan of homemade baked apples.
And salad, although that wasn't requested, ha.

We celebrated yesterday because Paul and Abigail had things to do this evening. But today is her birthday, so the celebrating continued...we went to the rec center pool, then to...Chinese...the Chinese buffet...they really enjoyed it.

So no dinner tonight...the kids had a bowl of cereal. I have been buying less cereal, but I did get Camille a huge box of Fruity Pebbles for her birthday, she shrieked with happiness when she opened it...

Anyway. Lydia just left, she was here for a few hours, she is so cute. Cousin Danielle is here for night #3, they are still having fun. Silliness is going on this very moment.

Friday, November 4, 2016

living room makeover....little by little...

The black box shelves we scored from the thrift store...all painted white and hung rather crookedly...and the mirror, it was oak before the chalk paint.

These mirrors were $7.99 for the three of them, Marshall's. The gray lamps were marked down, 70% off at Target, so they were $8 something.

Suri...on the couch.

And the kitties know where the warmth is...

Today, two little friends are coming to visit us...Mr. Sebastian and Miss Linnea, four year old twins, (almost five!). We are going to have a good day with them, some crafts, some snacks, and some playing with toys that no one uses much here anymore. Cam is excited to have small kids to play with, she still likes to play but Charlotte Claire balks at it most of the time, preferring nail polish and gymnastics.

It's going to be a rather quiet weekend here, some of the kids are going to Toronto, some to New York City. Paul and I will be here with the two little girls...Joseph will be home, and Margaret, but Margaret will be busy...she's getting married next month, and is busy fixing up the house they will be moving into.

Wedding plans, shower plans, what will we all wear? Gifts and food and cupcakes...then there's Christmas, we will be celebrating was a family the day after the wedding, as long as all the older kids from far and near have the time off from work, and are actually here. That means getting a tree early, too. It's a busy time, yet here I sit. I am not gifted with the planning ahead talent. I know there's lots to do, but can't do it until I have to do it.

The little girls planted themselves on the arms of my chair this morning, covered in fleece blankets, and we looked at DIY sweater wreaths. We have big plans. They are also going to paint some bottles for me, for Christmas. They are now eating a pomegranate. :)

Thursday, November 3, 2016

when life gives you cold.... a fireplace! Even if it's fake.

This fine rainy morning, I was all settled in to stay home and finish painting the frame of the old wood mirror I bought at the thrift store for $4.99 yesterday...and the shelves I bought there a few weeks ago...I really wanted to do the final coat, wax them, and put them up. But alas, Kathryn had a dentist appointment and didn't want to drive herself. So I assigned the kids some work, and left them in the capable hands of Joseph and Margaret, both of whom work from home.

We did go to the grocery store, just to get some snacks for the New York City trip...Emily is taking three of the girls. We also got some fresh spinach, eggs, cheese, and marked down Halloween candy.

Then to Marshall's, for a birthday gift for Camille...I found a few things for Christmas, something for Kathryn's secret Santa, but nothing for Cam. So we went to BJ's, and I got her a few things, as well as a birthday gift for my daughter-in-law Ashley out in I just have to mail it. :) (Her birthday was only last week) I also bought the new heater...I had $80 in store credit, so I decided to buy it...our living room gets so chilly, and even if we don't need the heat on, we can use the fireplace mode and lit looks like real flames. I really like it.

So we got home, set up the new heater...the kids are not too old to enjoy a nice big box to play in, BTW. I did the final coats of wax on the mirror and shelves, cleaned up a few things, got a cup of coffee, and here I am...

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

can we please slow down?

I have been around the block a few times, concerning this parenting thing. I don't want to name specific kids, or site specific problems, but life is would think nothing could faze me any more...ha.

One thing that I have learned is to not sweat the little things. The "tempest in a teacup". I see parents making the biggest deals out of the smallest things. I want to tell them to knock it off.

It's as if we think they'll stay little forever, the way we buy them toys and settle in for a life with children.

Camille is turning nine years old next week. We have majorly downsized our toy supply. She said she doesn't need any more dolls because she doesn't have room for them. (?!). She wants a new tablet for her birthday.

In a few years, Camille and Char will be teenagers too. They'll surprise me with random moodiness, they'll be snippy with me when I least expect it. They will grow up and need their space. I've been through it, I'm going through it now, five teenage girls at home presently...but somehow the last few of them leaving childhood behind makes me just sad.

But today is not a day for being sad. Today is gymnastics class, and activity club. And this evening, I am thinking of taking a few of the teenagers out and about...I think they need it.

We have stacks of library books, and curriculum books, and lots of school to do.

It's a good day.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

and now it's

I got to Gramma it for a bit last evening, we brought Miss Lydia out Trick or Treating with us.

Margaret with Lydia (Mali is Lydia's mom, Margaret Lydia up to bring her with us because Mali is moving into a house this week, plus working, and is very busy), Miss Katness Everdeen aka Charlotte Claire, Little Red Riding Hood Camille, and Jonathan Harry Potter.

It was strange to go out with only three kids who were Trick or Treating. Margaret came along with Lydia, and Abigail came too, which was too much fun...we bundled up and trundled down the winding streets of a nice housing development not too far from here. We can't just go in our neighborhood, because we have no neighborhood. Cows do not give out candy.

Anyway, the four other teenage girls stayed home...

They are growing up too fast.

But we had a good evening. It was very chilly, in the thirties.

The three younger kids got lots of candy, and are having lots of fun playing with it, trading it, counting, sorting, and organizing it. They have the floor of Jon's room pretty much covered in candy. Sunny would certainly have a field day if they tried to do that in here.

We made these yesterday...this is the plate I left for Emily and Mirielle at their house. They had to work a 12 hour shift yesterday, so they deserve cookies.

And start out November with a quick trip to the store for dog food...