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

Friday, December 30, 2016

have I mentioned cozy?

In my comfy chair...:)

This is a few years back...all the kids and Benjamin's wife Ashley:)

And you believe this really existed? It's not just some lovely picture I of my daughters actually ate this the other day. I thought it was a work of art...chocolate with chocolate with chocolate on top!

Random, yes.

But. Here's the thing: it's cozy in here. I am on my fourth library book since our trip there on Tuesday. Today, the natives were restless, I almost took them to the mall. The weather forecasters tend to be sensationalists, saying no unnecessary travel. The big bands of lake effect snow were heading here, and the wind is blowing. I hemmed and hawed, while the kids found things to keep them busy, then just decided it was stupid to risk life and limb for a trip to the mall. So we stayed put. All of the kids have left to go ice skating at an outdoor rink in the city. I was tempted to go just to watch, but brr. I did make five carafes of hot chocolate, and two carafes of coffee for them. (not just them, their friends too!). I also made butterscotch/chocolate/coconut/M&M/brownie/sweetened condensed milk layer bars, but they weren't quite baked all the way through, and when I tried to cut them to put them in a container, they were too mushy. So back into the oven went the fragrant chocolaty bars.

Paul and I are the only ones home now. He's watching football and gathering equipment for ice fishing tomorrow with Jonny. Okay...roads are bad, ice skating is cancelled for some of them...they are coming in the door! bye...

Thursday, December 29, 2016

snow and cold and staying home...

But yesterday, oh yesterday was fun! Evelyn stayed home with a stack of library books, but Jonathan, Suzanne, Kathryn, Sonja, Camille, and Charlotte Claire went along...the three youngest had gymnastics, and while I watched them, sipped coffee, and chatted with a few other homeschooling moms, the three older girls went to Moe's for some Mexican food. We all went to Walmart afterward for some 50% off Christmas chocolate...then home...ah, home.

I made Sloppy Joes for dinner, and hamburgers for the picky ones, and a huge salad.

After dinner was the best part of the day...time for me to go to my niece's house for a gathering...snacks, wine, and the hot tub!

And today, we said goodbye to the Christmas tree. It was the most excellent tree we have ever had, none of those big holes that had to be turned to the wall. It was losing needles and I was afraid it was a fire hazard, so we reluctantly pulled off all the ornaments. One of the teenagers dropped an ornament into the box, breaking a few other things...I thought she had just tossed it in there carelessly, but she insisted she dropped it accidentally. whatever. Joseph dragged the tree out, leaving a needles galore on the floor. My comfy chair is now back in it's proper place in the corner where the tree was. The floors are cleaned up, and most of the Christmas stuff is packed away. We left the lights in the windows and some of the wintery stuff out, it's still winter:)

Evelyn is reading an Upton Sinclair book, "The Jungle", and is sharing gross passages about the corrupt meat packing industry at the beginning of the century. ugh.

I have read two library books since Tuesday. "My Name Is Lucy Barrett", by Elizabeth Strout...I started it last night and finished it this morning, it was a page turner.

Sonja is playing FIFA 17. Joseph too Jonathan and some of their friends rock climbing. Cam is playing with her dolls and stroller and cash register, Char is lying on the couch with her tablet. Kathryn is working out, and Suzanne is probably reading her library book. I like vacation.:) We can't go anywhere because Joseph has the van, the other van needs new tires before it's driven in snow, and we have snow. It looks fresh and clean out there again. Waking up to the trees and branches coated and covered makes it almost worth living here in snow country.

I am not tired of winter yet. The coziness hasn't gotten old. I like when the temperature drops low enough to freeze the ground outside, and when it's covered in snow, because the dogs don't get all muddy. Sunny had to have a few baths when the weather warmed up, she romps across the yard and doesn't care one bit about getting muddy. Right now she's sleeping in front of the lovely little fake fireplace, with Cam curled up to her. She's a keeper.

Here's a question: how do you keep away from sugar when there are Andes Mints and Hershey's Kisses in the house? It's killing me. The cut out cookies are all gone, phew.

Today would be a good soup day, or perhaps a pot of chili day...

Monday, December 26, 2016

'Twas the night before Christmas...and all through the house...the teenagers were still up, playing video games...Abigail and Mirielle, Margaret and Adrian...had a sleepover...I was the last one up...

I made cut out cookies again, because Margaret and Adrian missed the first batch...and because, well, you have to have Christmas cookies on Christmas!

Christmas morning!!! I woke up while it was still dark, and started getting ready...the puppies were awake!

Ah, the Christmas traditions...we have cinnamon buns on Christmas morning..

Camille is nine years old, still a little

She's a little big for it, but she loves it.

I like it too:)

Paul playing refrigerator letters with Lydia, Abigail, Kathryn, Jonathan, and Suzanne...12 of the kids were here Christmas morning, plus Adiran, and granddaughter Lydia.

Lots of wrapping paper!

Here's one of my Christmas gifts: Sunny destroyed my favorite sweater. I had left treats in the pocket, left the sweater in my comfy chair...and during the night, on Christmas Eve...a creature WAS stirring...and chewing a hole in my sweater pocket to find those dog biscuits.

Abigail is here this morning, Paul is also I won't sit here and write right now...but I will say it was a lovely Christmas...

Friday, December 23, 2016

merry merry christmas!!!

I PROMISED Camille we would make gingerbread houses...and ha, I bought her a boxed one to build. It was half price. I really wanted to make them from scratch, didn't happen. She didn't care.

Cam and I went out and about all by our lonesomes today. She said she wanted to see Santa. Well, she saw him all right, from about fifty feet away. That was good enough.

We had fun though...found a consignment shop and bought a few more little treasures for Lydia's Christmas. We stopped into a local coffee shop...three dollars for a coffee and a homemade pastry! She chose the pastry, gave me a tiny taste...yummers.(She brought the rest home to share and we think Sunny found it) She was thirsty in the mall, so as we headed to the drinking fountain, I asked her if she wanted pizza, of course she did! So I got her a slice and a water, and we sat in the food court for a bit.

We grocery-ied, and bought the chicken wings for Christmas Eve, the eggs and bacon and juice for brunch, and some snacks.

(She got a day with me because Char and I went out to the other day, brought Ashley and Anya to the airport, then went to Kmart to get Cam a gift)

And, Emily took Jon and Char cross country skiing yesterday...she rented the skis, and they could have them today too, so I took a pic of them in the backyard...

Tomorrow we can say, "Tomorrow is Christmas, it's practically here!"-The Grinch, from The Grinch Stole Christmas...

Margaret and Adrian are back from their honeymoon, and have Jon, Char, and Cam over to their new apartment for a sleepover! It's too quiet here! But they'll all be back tomorrow...for a huge sleepover here! If I don't get a chance to blog tomorrow, Merry Christmas!!!!!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

to the airport....:)

Samuel James had to go back to the Army. So yesterday we drove him to the airport. Ashley and Anya had their flight delayed from Sunday until this afternoon, and we're driving them to the airport. (Yay for us though, it meant an extra day with them yesterday, and another one today!)
And tonight, I will pick Margaret and Adrian up from the airport...they will be coming home from their honeymoon in Punta Cana.

Our weather is cold and clear, no snow in the immediate forecast, so driving conditions to the airport are fine. I hate goodbyes, but having that last bit of time with Sam yesterday was nice. He's such a good big brother, the little kids miss him already. I do too. He is just too much fun to have around.

Only a few days until the big day, and am I ready? I have no idea. I did so much Christmas prep right after Thanksgiving, to get it out of the way before the wedding, I cannot remember much about what I bought or wrapped. I have this list I wrote, but some things I wrote in code, but can't for the life of me now figure out what a few of the words mean. One thing says simply, "Target". Yes. I bought that child something from Target. But what? Why did I think I would remember that? I wrapped it all, yay me, but now...what in the heck did I wrap?

Also, I have to remember that this is a Christmas for the younger kids, most of all! The ones who still live at home. I can find myself bummed out by the absence of Aaron, and that Ben and Ashley and Sam were home earlier and not for Christmas...and that my nurses all work crazy hours...Emily works 12 hour shifts on the 24th, 25th, and 26th. Mirielle and Mali will both be able to come over for a bit on Christmas morning, before heading to work. (Abigail and Mirielle are planning to spend the night on Christmas Eve! Now that sounds fun!). But anyway, I have to remember to concentrate on making it a fun and warm holiday for the ones who can be here.

And the question we've all been waiting for:

What do I want for Christmas?

In no particular order, of course, here's my wish list:

1. To lose another 50 pounds. When I set out to get healthy and lose weight, I had big goals. I lost 70 pounds...and have gained a little back. I am still maintaining a 50+ pound loss, and it's really really hard to just do this, but I would really like to lose that last fifty or sixty pounds and really feel good.

2. Earn some money. But not have to go to work. ha.

3. I want my kids to be happy. Remember, this is in no particular order of importance.

4. Time with my husband! Oh the days go by and we rarely get that nice quality time...we function so much as the parents, and don't have enough time as a couple.

5. Puppy obedience classes for Sunny.

6. One more trip to Washington D.C. to be with Sam before he gets out of the Army in the spring.

7. Trips trips trips...I want to visit Grandma in Florida, visit Ben and Ashley in Seattle, and
Aaron in California. A long weekend with Paul, or perhaps a long WEEK. Anywhere. But as
long as we're dreaming, somewhere really warm and sandy. :)

8. I want a rainy or snowy day, with everyone occupied and happy, and a good book. And coffee.

9. I want my sister's cancer to be the unbelievably most mild "case" of cancer the doctors have
worked with! I don't want her to suffer, and I want her to live to be a hundred, so I can be
90 (ha, and Emily will be 71!), and we can be in a nursing home together and cause all sorts
of fun to happen.

10. More time with my friends! Hotel overnights, gatherings!

11. Most of all, I want to be thankful for what I already have. It's written in John 1:4, "In Him was life, and the life was the light of men..." I want to have that life in me! My deepest desire is to live in a way that can be of help to others, so they can find their way to peace, to rest, a victorious life with no jealousies or grudges, no bitterness or misery.

A new coffee maker was on the list, but Charlotte Claire got me one for Secret Santa. It's downright spiffy, the coffee stays in the machine and dispenses directly into the mugs, no carafe at all, and it stays hot for hours without burning! She also got me a really nice mug, and she gets all happy when she sees me using it.

There are things I hate about Christmas, being the Mom, and the one responsible for everyone's happiness. I know, I know, I am not really responsible for that. But. Anyway, I feel such a huge pressure each and every year...I can't make the kids happy by buying them cell phones, because we can't afford cell phone plans for all the teenagers, they don't get phones until they have jobs and can pay for them. So they use iPods, and a few of them have really old iPods, with cracked screens, ect. They certainly have friends in school who have the latest electronic gadgets, kids younger than them with iPhone 7's. And yes, I would like to see their happy faces if we could do that for them. But no, they are getting boots and clothes and things like that. Things they mostly helped me pick out. They are not deprived. They are well fed and warm and well dressed. They are actually quite spoiled. And part of me, for Christmas, would like to just overwhelm them with sparkly amazing things!

Basically, the more we have, the more we want. We can show our family and friends how much we care ALL YEAR ROUND, but somehow we have this mentality that buying them gifts if the measure of how much we care. And this is my problem too! I want the kids to know I LOVE them! Love them enough to spend lots of money buying them good stuff, ha!

Ah well...enough time wasted sitting here going off on tangents...this house needs to be cleaned up.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

it's beginning to look a lot like....

Can you see Sunny? This was taken the other night when it was starting to "blizzard".

This was taken from the window, when the snow just started.

Suri...just because...because she's cute.


Miss Cam and Miss Char at their gymnastics open house the other day.

I love/hate winter. It's SO cozy in the house, all the lights and the little fake fireplace, with it's convincing fake flames, the fuzzy couch blankets, the dogs snoring, hot coffee...but I HATE driving in it, and I hate having my family drive in it. This morning, there is a basketball game in the city. Evelyn called from the vehicle she was in, with Kathryn and Emily and Mirielle...and told me to tell Paul not to go, the weather was horrible, Mirielle had to pull over on the Thruway because she couldn't see. Paul went anyway, he and Joseph and Samuel are all signed up to work, so they went. I am here with Suzanne and Sonja K. and Jonathan and Char and Cam...and trying not to worry. I have texted the girls, they made it there all right, but Paul hasn't gotten there yet. Maybe they just forgot to text me.

I plan to stay home today. They took the good van, the one with the new tires, so I'm here, and it's kind of nice. Yesterday, I baked three pumpkin pies and a lemon pie. And with those pies went my all-day-good-behavior streak, as far as clean eating. We had a nice ham dinner, and well, pie...with fresh, flaky butter crust...whipped cream with no sugar (I love unsweetened whipped cream, fresh from the Kitchen-Aid) (there was sweet canned stuff for those who like that better)...and now, breakfast is going to be...yeah, pie. I LOVE pumpkin pie for breakfast.

Charlotte Claire is the only child up this fine snowy morning. I just offered her a cup of hot tea and a slice of pie, she's watching Saturday morning cartoons...she said, "YES!"

So off I go...

Friday, December 16, 2016

-2f, -18.8c.....brr!

Wow. I went out this morning to shovel a path in the driveway so the girls could get on the bus, and my hands got so cold, they ached. It doesn't help that my mittens were one of those little stretchy gloves, and one of Jonathan's old gloves, still wet from one of the little girls wearing it out to play yesterday. I have a nice pair of warm gloves, but I let one of the girls borrow them, and none of them has the foggiest what I'm talking about.

Anyway. It's cold out. It's snowy out too. But today is nothing like yesterday was. Emily, Evelyn, and I went out and about in the cold wind, shopping for Sunday's Christmas celebration. The wind made my teeth ache, hit my forehead like a hammer. Just brr. Long story short, it got really bad in the afternoon, whiteouts, zero visibility. Emily went to pick Abigail up from the Thruway stop (Abigail got a ride with a co-worker who has a better vehicle for the snow), and it took her like five times longer than it usually would. Em said it was the worst weather she has ever driven in. They came stomping in the door, happy as can be to have made it. I made a nice dinner, chicken fajitas. We all cuddled up and ate, played a game of Scattergories, then when the snow cleared up a bit, they headed home. They only live five miles away.

Today, I am planning to stay home. Emily is taking the younger kids ice skating, Sam is meeting up with one of his friends, and I am going to get the house cleaned up for a gathering tonight. We are having ham and applesauce, green beans, baked potatoes, and roasted brussel sprouts. I am thinking of baking a few pumpkin pies. Sam only has a few more days home, and Ashley and Anya are heading back to Washington state on Sunday.

Aaron is not coming home for Christmas. It makes my heart ache. But maybe I'll go out and visit them again one of these days. He has done well though, he finished his four year degree while working as an R.N., and has just gotten a permanent position at Stanford, in California. Permanent. As in, he's not just traveling for a year then coming back to New York. wah.

So yesterday as I was preparing to go shopping, a war broke out here at home. I don't even know how it started. But I do know that Sam wanted bacon, and two of the girls made it known that if I was making bacon, they were going in their rooms until the smell went away, because they didn't want to smell like bacon. We were also cleaning things up around here a bit, and they were making comments to each other, next thing I know, there were a few slamming girls. I can't say I was innocent, one of them declared she was tired of being nice, and I, before thinking as usual, said, "What? When were you being nice?" oops. Yeah. So she stomped downstairs. Sam does not like fighting, he just wants everyone to get along well, which I suppose everyone in the whole world wants. I didn't like the new vibe in the house, and started thinking back to my own behavior, how I could have maybe helped things be more peaceful. Better late than never, I jumped right in to kindness, told daughter I was really kidding and I shouldn't have said what I did, hugged other daughter and tried to get her to reverse her grumpiness...gave them some space. It went much better by the time we went out the door....

We all work hard on getting along well. But with so many personalities, and the little comments, and getting offended, having the last word, and then there's when one person says something to someone and five other people add their comments...ugh. It can get ugly.

But we are a work in progress.

I try really hard to see their KNOW they want to be forgive and forget, to just get past the things that are undesirable, so we can just enjoy life.

Because the days are too short, the years fly by.

We did our Secret Santa gift exchange the other night when Benjamin was still home. Charlotte Claire had my name, so Emily bought the gift for her...a nice new coffee maker that dispenses a cup at a time, and a really nice new mug. And a candle, because as Char said, "Everyone can use a new candle!"

Mali and Lydia are coming over tonight, Emily, Abigail and Mirielle too, and Ashley with Anya. Joseph, Sam, Kathryn, Evelyn, Suzanne, Sonja, Jonathan, Char, and Cam will be home, and of course Paul and I. (Margaret and Adrian are on their honeymoon, in Punta Cana!)

So here's an interesting story: My sister was diagnosed with cancer. Remember when I wrote that I just wanted someone to say the whole thing was a big mistake? Well, she does have cancer, the whole thing was not a big mistake, BUT: part of it was! It wasn't the lymph node with malignant breast cancer cells, it was the tumor itself which was biopsied. So the cancer, as far as they know, is not in the lymph nodes, which means that it isn't metastatic...meaning it is probably localized to the breast, and not in her whole system, which is more dire. She is facing surgery, (mastectomy), radiation, and possibly chemotherapy. The radiation itself takes four to six weeks, and is every single day, from Monday to Friday. Of course her husband cannot take that much time off from work, so I plan to make a schedule so we can take turns bringing her, my brother and I, and a few of our friends. Keep her in your prayers! She is very thankful that her outlook looks much brighter. (I think prayers changed things, personally.)

I brought my laptop into my room this morning, after taking care of the dogs and shoveling snow and talking to my three high school girls before they left, because Samuel was sleeping on the couch. He had his own room before he left for the Army, and that room was taken by Margaret, then taken by Kathryn when Margaret left for Norway for a year, then retaken by Margaret, now Kathryn has it Samuel sleeps on the couch when he comes home:) Kathryn came in my room to visit me this morning, and brought me more coffee:)

I think the kids are awake now, so it's time to put this away...

Thursday, December 15, 2016

snow day!

While I would like to plaster the page with lovely snow pics, you all already know what snow looks like. Today, we have snow. We have cold. We have wind. We are hunkered down in the house, school has been cancelled. Samuel is still on leave, there are cinnamon buns in the oven, and I am still sipping my first cup coffee.

Joseph, Samuel, Kathryn, Evelyn, Suzanne, Sonja, Jonathan, Charlotte Claire, Camille, and me...all here in the house. Emily has the day off from work, and we are supposed to do shopping today for tonight's girls' Christmas party, and for the Sunday Christmas feast. brrr.

We are loving having Sam home. Yesterday we went to lunch at Panera, the homeschooled kids with Kathryn too. Then we went to Walmart so he could get more gifts, then to their gymnastics presentation for friends and family.

It smells so good in here, but I cannot eat those cinnamon buns, no sir. :(

Monday, December 12, 2016

wedding!!!! winter wonderland! (pictures)

Margaret and Adrian were married...

with the two little granddaughters, Miss Anya and Miss Lydia...

Emily with Camille and Charlotte Claire...

Paul and I...he kept saying, "One down, ten to go..." (and that's just the girls!) But honestly, we are fine either way...they don't have to get married to make us happy...but this WAS one happy day.

Samuel with Kathryn and Sonja K.

Benjamin, Ashley, and little Anya...

Camille, Char, Lydia, and Anya...

The wedding photographer, my niece Susan, is excellent. She put out some preview pictures, the rest I haven't seen yet. Our family pictures don't have Aaron in them, as he is in California, and Mali isn't in them either, she is an RN on night shift, and has to sleep during the day...and she accidentally overslept on Saturday. I mean, it's like getting up in the middle of the night for her, I felt so bad for her.

The day went by too fast, it was really a blessed day. The food was really good, the girls did a good job in the kitchen (if you read this Becky, Erica, Kim, Bob...thank you!!!!!)
Rosemary chicken with white wine sauce, mashed red skinned potatoes with chives, and roasted butternut squash with brussel sprouts. The pre-dinner salad: mixed greens with raspberry vinaigrette, crumpled feta cheese, orange slices, craisins, and brown sugar toasted pecans (Emily did the sugaring and toasting, and they were so good!). We also had bakery fresh Italian bread, and dessert was 204 donuts, from the same bakery.

The cocoa bar!

The kids sang a song...

Sam is still in town, so we shall have a good week. Benjamin and Ashley too, although Ben leaves early Wednesday.

Samuel slept on the couch last night, so after getting up with the school girls, taking the dogs out, feeding them, ect., I grabbed my computer and a cup of coffee, and got back in bed. I mean, I don't want to disturb Sam! I just wish someone would come in here with the pot and give me a refill.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

festivities, gatherings, fun, and family....and a haircut!

I finally did it. I got a haircut at a hair salon, first time in my life. I debated whether to make the appointment, or to just get the scissors like I usually do, and trim it here and there. My sister-in-law Kim and I were going out and about, Kim is even busier than I am, she started a LulaRoe business, and babysits grand kids on a regular basis, has 12 kids, homeschools some of them, ect. So I decided to surprise her, and make the appointment for the both of us, and didn't tell her until we were in the plaza where the haircut place was.

I didn't get a picture of her haircut, but she looks adorable! No more long ponytail!

And, granddaughters!!!! Anya from far away, and little Lydia, sweet cousins.

Anya and Lydia...are they scrumptious or what? And let me brag for a minute or two...Miss Anya just turned three, she knows those letters, she knows their sounds, she's a smart cookie. Lydia is smart too, she knows how to put those letters in the dog water bowl to get them all clean. She also chatters and says, "Wow!", claps her hands and stomps her feet when I sing, "When you're happy and you know it..." They kept us busy and entertained last evening. Sunny was a royal pain in the neck, stealing Anya's cheese stick, trying to steal Puffs from Lydia...she's gentle with them, though.

So the wedding is happening the day after tomorrow!!! It crept and sneeked right up on me! Emily and I are going out to buy the food today, and all the little odds and ends. We have fantastic friends helping with set up and decorating and will prepare and serve the food, as well as clean up. In lieu of a wedding cake, Margaret and Adrian chose donuts. Yes, donuts. The ultimate food, the best yummy on earth. And, they ordered them from the little Greek bakery in the town I was raised in, the bakery I used to get things for my dad when he was so sick with leukemia. The bakery that is foremost in my mind when I have to pick someone up from the airport, because it's right in that town. Once I asked the girl working there if it still smelled heavenly to her, working there for so long. She said it did. I think heaven will smell like this bakery. Anyway, the happy couple ordered 204 donuts, and I ordered the fresh bread for the tables from there, which will all be baked on Saturday morning. So ha, even if nothing else comes out good, we will have donuts.

So I am super excited. Ashley is in town with little Anya, Benjamin is flying in on Saturday morning. Soldier Samuel from D.C. is coming tomorrow (yay!!!). We're having a gathering tomorrow night here, with pizza from the place in town. I keep thinking of all the meals I COULD make for a large group of people, then I slap myself silly, and keep the pizza idea. This very morning, I had to slap myself because I almost started a batch of cut-out sugar cookies, you know, Christmas cookies. I thought I could get them almost done before the shopping trip. But thankfully, the lazy voice in my head chimed in. Between cleaning up the house in the morning, taking the dogs out a million times, and having a chance to sit here and blog, clearing my head and straightening out my thoughts, I don't have time to bake cookies.

Kids are up, and my day is getting bye for now.

Monday, December 5, 2016

and it's been busy! but this girl....

This is Miss Anya Jade, my oldest grandchild. She lives in Washington state, and I have been blessed to have her visit three times this year! I love her so much. She loves her Auntie Charlotte Claire and her Auntie Camille more than she likes her Grandma, but I understand. They're fun! They play dollhouse with her, and get out the baby dolls, and sing karaoke with her! Grandma doesn't mind, just having her in the house is wonderful. And she gives me hugs, the best hugs! I have loved my own kids, and lots of other ones too...but these two granddaughters of mine have just astounded me with how much I love them.

I should be in bed. The house is quiet, the dogs are snoring on the couch. I should be in bed. The big fat blue spruce is still plugged in, white lights glowing. But it has been such a busy day! I had so many things on my list to do! We needed bread and milk and eggs.

Ashley came over with Anya, Benjamin is still back home in Washington, he is coming in late Friday night. Then Emily came over with my niece Becky, our friend Erica, and my sister-in-law Kim, to plan the details of the menu, and logistics of it all.

Tomorrow, I'll be buying as much of the food as I can, like a few more tablecloths, coffee cups, coffee, ect. I need to get a belt for Jonathan, and I really need shoes.

Wednesday is haircut day for the kids, as well as gymnastics. And hopefully lots of seeing Anya.

Thursday...the day to get the rest of the food...

Friday, the day to stay home and clean and welcome Samuel, yay, Emily's picking him up from the airport. Then Adrian's family is coming over...they are flying in from Winnipeg...and we're having pizza. Then Saturday morning, wedding rehearsal and brunch, put on by Emily. At five in the afternoon, the wedding ceremony, followed by the church feast. It's so fun and exciting, and I will post lots of pictures.

So our home will be busy for the next few days. As long as I don't grew weary of doing good, things will go well for me. I don't mean I can't put my feet up, either. It's all about having the right attitude.'s almost midnight, and I'm so tired. Goodnight!

still crazy after all these years...

Yes, still love him like crazy.

Yes, we crossed up near Brockville, Ontario.

Our visit to Canada was short and sweet.

And now the countdown begins...the wedding is on SATURDAY! I have to take three kids for haircuts, and maybe me too...I still have never had my hair cut anywhere, and I'm 51...not that I'll get a special martyr prize in the end or anything, but part of me thinks that if I've cut it myself up to now, why go somewhere and pay to have it cut? But then, it would be fun, and it might look really nice.

This fine morning, I am making a grocery list for things we need here, and am taking Jonathan to get a belt to wear to the wedding. I'm not sure how many kids will be accompanying me. Ashley is in town with little Anya, and I want to make sure we have good food and snacks for their visits here.

Sunny thinks she is a lap dog.

How am I supposed to get up and get moving now?

She's super warm and cuddly.

Friday, December 2, 2016

another good day in this life...

Yay Emily! She still has a ways to go before she is a practicing nurse practitioner but she is now ready to start clinicals, with real patients:)

After the ceremony, we went shopping...I am not really wearing this to the wedding, but if I ever wanted to Effie Trinket it, I would totally buy this.

So I had some criteria for my dress for the wedding...I REALLY wanted to find one at the thrift store, but mostly I wanted it to be cheap or on clearance, ha, gray, and sparkly. And it had to cover my arms, and be modest. I found this today...

I had Kathryn take this picture, and as soon as I saw it, the self-criticism tummy! But then...who really cares? Kathryn didn't like it at all when I started, so I stopped. It's not a good example for teenagers...:)

I am glad I found something though. We also found gifts for my niece's daughter Grace, who is celebrating her 14th birthday this evening, Evelyn, Suzanne, and Sonja went to her party. I found a few gifts also, and then we went to the warehouse store for a big bag chow.

We had some lunch at Five Guys, they have the best burgers!

Kathryn took the youngest three kids out and about today. They went for pizza with their homeschool certificates.

Tonight, they are bugging about when we are getting the Christmas tree. It was supposed to be today, but the place down the road closed too early, or I got home too late, plus Paul had the truck at work. Tomorrow he is going hunting, then we are going to a Christmas concert. Sunday morning we are leaving early to go to Ottowa (Canada) for the day for a birthday celebration for a either the older kids get it on Sunday, or we wait until Monday.

Ah well....time to rejoin the's not easy to write when there are kids to talk to...

Thursday, December 1, 2016

trouble makers butting their noses in....

The other afternoon, Margaret and I took a little trip over to the suburbs, and visited a big party supply store to buy napkins, pretty champagne glasses, you know, wedding stuff. Because the wedding is next week, and we don't want to be last minute or anything. Well, we were really hungry, both of us had only eaten breakfast...and there in the very plaza was a Chinese take-out place. We both acknowledged later that it always makes us feel awful to eat that food, but we were hungry, and it's so good!

As we waited to order our food, a woman stormed into the place and yelled at the cashier, "Don't yell at me on the phone, don't call me at work, blah blah blah..."...she smacked a container of food onto the counter, left it, and stomped out of the place. The cashier's face had turned beet red, she was so flustered, and barely managed to take our order.

So, as we ate, enjoying each other's company and talking about the wedding, a different customer approached the counter and complained about some cheesy won-ton thing her daughter had bitten into...said it was spoiled, wrong color, smelled bad, ect...she was not talking nicely, she wasn't exactly YELLING, but she was being obnoxious and rude, and was looking all around, trying to make eye contact with other patrons, as if we were going to gang up on the cashier with her. We just sat there eating, both thinking that surely this lady could be nicer about her disappointing food item. The cashier was stammering, trying to explain that they had switched brands of cheese, ect. The lady was not having it, just kept complaining.

So the restaurant manager cooked up some new food for the ladies, apologized thankfulness at all from customers, just a, "Well, I hope we don't get sick..."

At that point, Margaret decided to call out to the manager, workers, cashier, who were at the counter, "The food is really good, we like it, good job!" I nodded my head, gave the thumbs-up.

Yeah, you know, counter-act the rudeness a little...she felt sorry for the cashier.

Her comment didn't go over so well with the disgruntled customers.

They sat there squawking about trouble makers butting their noses in, making it worse, ect. oops. Margaret, they better not come after us.

But anyway, it's good to be more self-aware, because there are certainly things that have to be set right in customer service, maybe we are overcharged or whatever, but being nice sure goes a long way.

Paul is well enough to be back to work, but he did lose over five pounds being sick. I told him that I found it.

Today the kids start in on their chocolate-a-day advent calendars, and we start counting the days until Christmas. Here's what I want for Christmas:

New iPods for all the teenagers...

New tires for both of our minivans.

The hot tub fixed.

Sunny to be totally housebroken. And less crazy.

My sister's cancer diagnosis to be a big mistake.

My far away sons to move back to New York.

Magically replenished paper towels, toilet paper, dog food, cat food, kitty litter, and laundry detergent. (for the kids, it's ALL magically replenished!)

Well that was I just got a phone call from a cheery girl named Emily, who told me I qualify for an all inclusive cruise, for 75% off! I was mean, and let her list all the wonderful amenities before I told her I wasn't interested. How did she get my cell phone number, that's what I would like to know.


For Christmas...I want all my kids to be happy. Not the fulfill-their-lusts kind of happy, but the peaceful kind of happiness that comes with living before God.

I want my parents to come back to life, just for a few sit and drink coffee with me, and catch up. I want to give my mom a big hug, and tell her that even though she's long gone from this earth, she is totally in my head. I AM HER. I tell my kids, "Pretty is as pretty does. Stand straight up tall and don't be ashamed of what God gave you," or her classic..."A liar is a thief and a thief is a liar, and I HATE LIARS." She used to call me, "Lady Jane". I don't know why, but I would give anything to have hear her chastise me and call me Lady Jane, one more time.

I would also like a nice vacation with Paul. Now I know what you're thinking, we have already had a few vacations, we don't need another one. But don't forget this: we are living in a house with nine of our kids...five of whom are TEENAGERS. GIRL TEENAGERS.

But enough of my wish's a list of things we're thankful for...I like to start in on this out loud around the house randomly, the kids chime in, and it's good...good to be thankful.

Our new's shiny and new, it gives ice and water from the door, it's still organized and clean, and best of all, it doesn't leak like our old one did, so no more daily changing the "refrigerator towel" we had to keep on the floor in front of it.

Our new microwave! It's not much different than the old one, but live without one of these for a few days and you'll see how essential they become.

That we painted the living room walls and ceiling.

The new fake fireplace. I LOVE it. I love it so much, I am afraid something is going to happen to it and we won't be able to replace it. It makes it warm and cozy in here, and it looks cute.

Our "new" minivan. It has over a hundred thousand miles on it now, but it's still sweet...push button doors and back hatch...and heated seats!

The dogs. I have a love/hate relationship with having dogs in the house. It's a full time job just to keep things clean, especially my floors! But they are sweet and I think it's good for the kids to have them.

Our yard. I love living out in the country.

I'm thankful for my's old, it's hard to charge, but it works, and when I open it up and it turns on, yay!

Friends, family...of course I'm thankful.

I really want to use each day in a good feels like we're always preparing for something that's coming up, using days to get ready for things. So today will be a good day. Never mind that yes, I am planning to move all the furniture and deep clean the living room...ha. It will be a good day.