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

Sunday, December 31, 2017

never a dull moment, and always have clean hair...

Because, like Charlotte Claire said today in the waiting room at the Urgent Care Center, "This is not what I expected to be doing today." Char was unlucky enough to get a kitty scratch right on her eyeball today, right out of the blue...she was lying on the couch staring at the mama cat, and mama cat just reached her paw out and took a swipe.

So four degrees out and snowy, off we went to get it checked out. Of course I talked to Emily first, Em is almost a nurse practitioner, and has friends in hospital-y places. I texted her pics, she forwarded them to an eye dr. friend, and the verdict: go to urgent care, get it checked out, so we did. The cornea has a small scratch, so to Walmart for a prescription for antibiotic drops we went.

It hurt her quite a bit when it first happened, the she felt a lot better, but we went in anyway in case my A#1 diagnostic skills missed anything, and because of the possibility of infection. And here's the thing: These things only happen when I really need to wash my hair. I was planning to do it today. With such cold weather, I shower each night before bed, then wash my hair separately every other day in the sink, so as to not go to bed with wet hair. And today when Char got scratched, my immediate thought was Oh Great My Hair's Dirty, I Can't Go To The E.R. So shh, I did wash it quick while waiting for Emily to call me back. :) (once when Sam was about 9, and I was knee-deep in little ones, he got smacked in the forehead with a baseball, and oh the gaping tear, I almost fainted, I am not good with blood, and also my hair was dirty, and the thought of loading 12 or 13 or however many kids into that big van and driving to the E.R. was...well, let's just say I waited until Paul came home and let him take him up. This was before cell phones, and he didn't pick up the phone at work, so I hoped he was coming straight home. Imagine his surprise and delight when he walked in the door then right back out with poor Samuel...oh, Bad Mom Award.

Walmart. Oh Walmart, I hate you but love you so. The pharmacy shuts completely down for lunch break, and that's when we arrived. So poor us, we had to wander around and fill the cart with 75% off Christmas clearance. Just for the record, I refuse to buy wrapping paper and store it for a whole year, no matter how cheap. It's just not that expensive to buy next year. I will buy ornaments if they're pretty, and gift sets, sure. I got a nice bath set today for the girls, for $3.74, with body wash, lotion, spray, and a pair of purple slippers. We got some chocolate, and an apron for Evelyn, for less than two dollars, because the other day she saying she needed one. We got half and half, bagels, butter, and two new bins to store the Christmas ornaments in.

Home...ah, home. I was particularly happy to pull in the driveway today because the roads were awful! It is so cold here in the northeast! It was below zero this morning, and in the lower single digits...and when lake effect snow is falling, the road salt doesn't work, and there was a car off the road right as I left the small city...then another one. Oh dang. I was thankful I had the truck, and it has four-wheel drive.

Anyway. Tonight, I am going to bed early...because I have to wake up and be out the door by three a.m. THREE A.M.! Is there a more unGodly hour? The temperature at that time is forecast to be -7 f (-21.6c). We will board our bus to NYC, and go to Citi Field for the hockey game.

Oh joy. Oh yippee. I'm trying to have a good attitude. It sounded fun when I signed up, ha. I have a new red Coleman thermos from Christmas, I will fill that with hot coffee, and hope to heck there is a bathroom on that bus, a five hour trip it is. And then we have to work outside in this cold, so we are dressing in layers...I am hoping this work doesn't involve stairs, I do hate stairs, in a much more intense way than I hate Walmart.

There is a party going on here tonight! Mirielle and Margaret are coming over, and having lots of fun with the younger kids. Sonja put chicken wings in the oven, and I bought them dips and chips and pizza rolls and good drinks. I hope I sleep through this party, so I am not too exhausted at 2:45 when the alarm goes off. Because I don't sleep on planes, and prob don't sleep on buses.

Camille and I made brownies, they frosted them, and declared them yummers, and I am abstaining. Can you just smell them? The whole house is chocolate-y and one little piece of the crusty outside part, oh dear, no, I cannot. I am behaving today.

Yup, so bye for now. Pray for us on our little journey, that we don't get frostbite, and that I don't encounter too many stairs...

Friday, December 29, 2017

living in frozen...

This was the other day when we watched little Anne...she got tired, so I rocked her in a snuggy blanket. :) Em posted it on the family chat. But alas, I had to get up and get ready to go work the basketball game, and her mama and daddy came to get her...

This is from right now, taken from my comfy chair...outside, snow on the trees, and it's cold out there! 4 degrees (-15c), but much warmer than yesterday, which was -5F (-20c). Either way, it feels like you have no pants on after five minutes of shoveling off the deck steps.

A random pic from the other day, Suzanne playing with Lydia "Lydster", and Anya.

Last evening, we had lasagna for dinner. It was so cold, we decided to just eat in the living room, where the little fake fireplace makes it seem warmer than it is, and the couches and the rugs and the candle and the glowing tree make it cozy. It was only Paul and I, Joseph, Kathryn, Evelyn, Suzanne, Sonja, Jonathan, Char, and Camille. Their friends Toby, Timmy, Zech, and Amanda had gone home. When it's only us, we rattle around like peas in a pod, like the book, "The Cow in the House", by Harriet Ziefert, which I do recommend you read. (Plot: Old woman gets complain-y that her house is too small while she rolls out noodles. Husband, the farmer, gets advice from wise man to bring the chickens into the house. Then the other farm animals, one by one, while the wife complains how small and crowded the house is. Finally, even the cow goes into the little house. Then the wise man asks if the house is crowded, and the farmer answers that if his brother visited with his ten children, all steps and stairs, things would be really, "higgeldy piggeldy". The wise man said he was making progress, and advised him to start taking the animals out, one by one, and when the cow was finally out of the house, the wife announced that the house was really nice and roomy. So. When all the company leaves, and it's just us, it's like getting the cow out of the house. ha.


Yesterday, I did go out and about, with Emily and Evelyn. Em and I needed to buy some khaki pants, so we were headed to the thrift store. See, on New Year's Day, some of us are boarding a bus at an unGodly hour, and heading to New York City to work at the Citi Classic Hockey game, a fundraiser for our church, and the dress code requires khaki pants, which may not be a prob for most people, but I hate khaki pants and did not own any until yesterday's purchase of a pair for $4.99. We also have to wear black shoes or boots, of which I own neither, and since I have extremely picky feet which aren't comfy in anything except for my five year old Adiddas bright blue sneakers, I was most surprised and delighted to pick up a pair of Grips, new with the tags, black galoshes for over the sneakers.

Now this adventure is interesting, this bus trip to NYC. It's like five hours, and we have to arrive at the parking lot where the bus will depart, at 3:55 a.m. That means leaving the house at 3:00 a.m., which means getting up at 2:30, 2:45, which is what time I usually go to bed on New Year's Eve. I won't be able to fall asleep any earlier than midnight anyway, on vacation like this with the kids around. So after two hours of sleep, we'll be headed on a bus, in record cold temperatures, to work at a stadium....OUTSIDE. Well, no one can tell us for sure where we'll be working, and for some reason we were all right with this, and since the hockey game is taking place in a baseball stadium which is being adapted for hockey, the food kiosks are technically outside...and it's going to be freeeeeezing cold and windy. How, may I ask, am I supposed to take money and give change, with freezing hands? Fingerless gloves have been suggested, but then fingers are exposed, and my old-lady hands don't work in the cold. We have to wear a shell, or outer jacket, which they give us, and our own winter gear underneath, so we will dress in layers. I am thinking leggings under the khaki pants. Someone suggested long johns, but this old mama isn't outdoors-y enough to own a pair, and I am not investing in any. Anyway.

The thing about this adventure is that only SIXTEEN people signed up for it...Paul and I, Emily and Abigail...Evelyn and Ben couldn't because they didn't take the required alcohol training course because Ben was still out west when it was given, and Ev was still 17 then. Kathryn has to work, so she isn't going.

We will take the bus down there, work where they assign us, then back on the bus for the long ride home. I am hoping we have fun, we don't get bus sick, or hypothermia. I'm sure it will end up being fine. Some of my older kids are going to make it nice for our littler ones on New Year's Eve, and on New Year's Day too.

Anyway, our trip out and about yesterday was worthwhile, we got our khakis, and I found a mint condition Wii game for the kids, and a nice white bowl, and was able to use a $7 off a $25 purchase at the thrift store, which is always fun. We grocery-stored, and then stopped into Aldi quick for some nuts and bars for the bus, and scored Hershey Christmas kisses for $1.47 a bag. When you live in a house full of girls, you can never have too much chocolate.

Today, I am hoping to bring my three high school girls and my three homeschooled kids on a little adventure, to a museum, then out to Chinese....shh, don't tell them, it's a surprise. They have been in the house a lot, and it IS freezing out, but the roads aren't too bad, I don't think. Paul went to work, and texted that the main roads are fine. Ah, winter driving, how I despise thee.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

the festivities continue....

Sunny likes Christmas.
Paul handed out the presents, as per tradition.

Sweet new grand baby Elise, all snuggly and warm. It's such a blessing when the grandkids come in the door. Elise's big sister Anya comes in and hands out the hugs, and when she shouts, "Hi Grandma!", oh joy. Lydia was here yesterday too, and being two years old, the day after Christmas, she was a little bit tired and overwhelmed. We didn't mind a few meltdowns.

A few years ago, six to be exact, before we had any grandchildren. Camille was so little!

Okay, so we have had so many celebrations here! Our secret Santa was last night, because all the kids who live locally could come, the three nurses didn't have to work, finally, after three 12 hour shifts in a row for Em and Mirielle! Mali worked all day on Christmas, too. Fourteen of the kids were here,(and Ashley and Adrian and the three granddaughters) only Aaron in San Francisco, and Sam with his new baby down in Virginia, weren't here.

Secret Santa was so much fun! Kathryn got me and bought me a Columbia jacket/raincoat. I do love it, but would never spend that much on something. Abigail bought Joseph a backpacking sleeping bag, and Mirielle got a warm fuzzy blanket and some wine. Some of the older kids pitched in and got me a new kitchen faucet! A really nice fancy Moen! I was totally surprised!

Paul loved the kayak! Have I told the kayak story yet? Well, it was supposed to come the week Paul was in Boston, but that would have been way too simple. It arrived at Walmart last week, and we couldn't figure out how to lie and use the truck, so I decided to just shove it into the minivan. Not without googling the heck out of "fitting kayak into minivan", and measuring the inside from dash to hatchback. Sonja K. agreed to get up early Saturday morning with me, Christmas Eve Eve, and go give it a try. We were apparently the only people the Walmart history to buy a kayak in the winter, according to the workers who marveled at our ship-to-store purchase. The nice guy who helped load it into the van didn't think it was a good idea to drive with it like that, but hey, I'm willing to take a chance once in a while. Sonja was in the passenger seat, and we could not see each other, as that kayak was reaching the windshield between us, turned on it's side.

Home with the kayak: Paul hadn't gone ice fishing! The truck was in the driveway! Would he see us? We sneaked that kayak out, and carried it to the back yard, no plan, just trying to hide it before he looked out the window. We couldn't drag it because he would see the tracks in the snow. We wanted to put it in the utility room, but all his ice fishing gear was in there, and he would see the kayak for sure. So we just carried it around to the back of the swimming pool and left it there.

Paul was out in the yard so many times running around with the dogs (we had four dogs here for three days, Margaret and Adrian brought Bunny and Ham, their Boxer-Lab mixes, who are one year old, and four months old.)

So I thought he had seen the kayak for sure.

On Christmas morning, Paul went out to get the surprises he had ordered for Charlotte Claire and Camille: new bikes! They were thrilled! Big plans for spring and summer!

Then I moved those bikes over in that kitchen, and Jonathan and Adrian sneaked out to the back yard and brought in the kayak. A ten foot fishing kayak! I told Paul to come into the kitchen, and he was really, genuinely surprised! He hadn't seen it, hadn't known anything about it!

So we had a nice Christmas. I am thankful for my family. We have way too much fun. The kids got a hoverboard, and right now Jonathan is sweeping the kitchen floor while hover-ing, playing Hotel California on the bluetooth speaker. I am thankful that when I run straight out of natural patience, God is more than willing to help me along when I ask and pray. I am thankful that so many in the family are occupied with "seeking peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord", so that it's good here. There are little disagreements, but there is no fighting. It's a good place, a good home, and I am very thankful for that.

Now that Bunny and Ham have gone home with Margaret and Adrian, it seems quiet here, even though there are still eight kids here. Paul is back at work. Davian and his little sister Anne will be here any minute now, and the kids are having friends over too. Five of us will be working at the Dome today, basketball game. Brr, it's 8 degrees out!

And Anne and Davian are here, so bye for now....

Monday, December 25, 2017

merry merry merry christmas!

The presents are piled up under the tree. Margaret and I are having coffee while the two Labradors and her and Adrian's two Boxadors rumble and play. Jonathan is up, Paul is up, and the little girls are snoozing. We set the time of nine o'clock to open gifts, but there is a lot of sleeping happening still. (Margaret and Adrian have moved in for a few days, Abigail has too!)

Kids are getting up, so mama isn't going to sit here blogging!!!! Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 23, 2017

we visited warmth and sunshine...

His name is Grant! Isn't he precious?

We drove down to Virginia, and 50 degrees and sunny, yes sir, we'll take it.

With Evelyn, enjoying some sun.

Adrian, Emily, Mirielle, me, and Evelyn...we went to the hospital to visit baby, and to see Grace and Samuel. Baby Grant was in the NICU (newborn intensive care) with an infection, so I.V. antibiotics, and low sugar levels, and then he developed jaundice. I was the only one of us five to be able to go in and see baby, but I couldn't hold him. Seeing Samuel hold him was precious enough though.

The next day we went out walking, and went shopping, and to lunch, before heading back to the hospital. Imagine our surprise and delight that Grant was doing so much better, he was expected to move into the regular nursery before night! So we all got to visit him, and hold him!!!

Samuel is totally smitten. I am so proud of both he and Grace, they are good parents already.

And this is all for now...home again!!!

Monday, December 18, 2017

just call me grandma!!!! a new baby has been born!!!

A baby grandson! Little Grant has been born! My son Samuel is a daddy. And now I have four grandchildren.

The little family is in Virginia, 6 -7 hours from here, but guess what? Yeah, we're going to go see this new baby this week. Not sure of the details yet, and we don't want to overwhelm the new mama, but we thought a short meet on Wednesday, maybe a little visit on Thursday, and then back home by Friday. So, road trip the week before Christmas!

Since he's not my newborn, I don't want to post any pics without asking, but will you believe me that he's beautiful?

What else is happening here...cookies!

I made a double batch on Saturday, a ten cups of flour recipe. It took h o u r s.

One container is in the freezer, most of them went to the church Christmas celebration yesterday, which was totally fun and amazing.

We had some older kids and the three granddaughters over in the afternoon. Anya said to me, "Grandma, I'm starving. We could have macaroni and cheese. It's really easy to make." So thankfully I had some. Paul had made ginger stew with venison, but little kids like their mac and cheese, and mini hot dogs too. I cut up some carrots and celery and oranges, too.

The granddaughters light up my life.

Anyway. Today has things that need to be accomplished: one van won't start, is the battery still under warranty? Jon needs his small game license, and we are almost out of paper towels.

And I need to make menus and plans for the upcoming days...and planning, um, it's not my thing.

Friday, December 15, 2017

8 degrees out there...

-13.3c. Brrr. Jack Frost has decorated the glass on the door, and the snow crunches underfoot. The sun is out now, but more lake effect snow is coming later. Hopefully AFTER I pick Paul up from the airport, he's coming home from Boston this evening.

Anne is coming over in a little while. I had too much fun yesterday, Emily brought Jonathan, Char, and Cam ice skating. I was here with Anne, who turned a year in September, and Lydia, who turned two in August, and I just realized that I had kids who were 14 months apart, how did I do it? They were really good, but oh dear, it kept me on my toes. Anne seemed to be watching for me to forget to watch out for my glasses, my coffee, or my phone, but I was just a shade quicker than she was, although she did manage to swipe my phone a few times. I had to trade her for something good to get it back. The two of them got along just fine.

That stroller in the background was Lydia's doing, she loaded it up with stuff. She took the two Christmas towels from the front of the stove, and referred to them as, "the red and green paper towels." She knows her colors, her numbers, and we had at least ten phone calls back and forth, she called me from the Fisher-Price Chatterbox telephone, and I answered on my phone. She would ask if I was coming home soon, and I would say yes, do you need anything from the store? After a brief conversation, she would say, "goodbye!", then call me again. Over and over again.

After Lydia and Anne went to their homes, and the skating kids were back home, and things were all settled down, Evelyn and I went to the grocery store. And to Walmart, for a few last minute gifts. One of my sons asked for, "All of the pillows.", for Christmas. So I got him three, and three pillowcases, which believe me, the guilt of BUYING pillow cases! I can make them, and heaven knows I have bins of fabric! But the sewing machine hasn't seen the light of day in quite a while. I do not know how I stay so busy. But I do.

Anyway. I stayed up late last night wrapping stuff, and I have washed the Christmas stockings. I am excited about Christmas...Paul's gift is stuck in Chicago, it was supposed to be here a week ago. I was really hoping it arrived while he was out of town. I hope it makes it on time. I can't tell what it is, even though I do not think for one second that he reads this blog, ha.

Bye for now...Anne.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

snow day!!!

Camille was the first one up, and was out the door with me...

Snow Day! But it started out that school was delayed for two hours. I wanted more sleep because we all know that when Paul is traveling for work (he's in Boston), Della stays up way too late reading, so morning comes as a shocker. I knew Lydia was coming, I knew Anne was coming, and the driveway had to be shoveled.

Miss Char got up and helped. Jonathan got the snowblower started, and had the rest of the driveway clear in no time.

I don't mind getting up and going out to shovel. It's invigorating, and the doggies love playing in the snow. Sunny thinks every shovelful is something to chase and dive into.

Anyway...I procrastinated the whole getting up out of my nice warm bed thing, checked my phone one more time, and YES, school was now CLOSED! I texted Mali to see when Lydia was coming, and she wasn't, because her daddy had a snow day too. Anne was still supposed to come though, so we had to get up and get moving and clear that driveway. Then, she didn't come. So...I could have stayed in bed. oh well. :(

The three high school girls were getting up as we finished up with the driveway, and the coffee was ready. We turned on the tree lights, cranked up the fake fireplace, and cuddled under blankets, and planned our day. The kids decided to go sledding in the back.

Surprise! Kathryn decided to give Jonathan an early Christmas present! Kathryn had to work today, she was working from home, and busy, but Evelyn, Suzanne, Sonja, Jon, Charlotte Claire, and Camille went sledding. (Joseph works from home too, he's a freelance artist). I got to work on the triple batch of gingerbread cookie dough. We decided that gingerbread houses are over rated, and too much work, so we just made the cookies. After sledding, we had another cozy time in the living room, this time they had Evelyn's homemade hot chocolate, while I had a second cup of coffee. Then, time to frost the cookies!

Dinner went into the oven, chicken and gravy. I peeled potatoes and made mashies, and we had stuffing and veggies, and some cranberry sauce, because it is Abigail's birthday, and she came over after work. Emily came over too, so we had a nice dinner, the eleven of us.

Emily asked me how I like it that my house is such a hub for people coming over. I told her that 99% of the time I love it. I enjoy the kids, and like having company. I wish the house would automatically be always clean though. I get tired of cleaning it. It doesn't stay clean, not with all the peoples still living here, and the doggies and kitties. Evelyn determined today that, "Mom is the biggest slob." And yes, I had to admit, I had left shoes I wore to the Christmas concert next to my chair in the living room since December 2nd. And yes, that was my coffee cup sitting there. And my sweater is draped on the back of the couch, what?! I got hot! I have pairs of glasses everywhere, and leave my slippers wherever I am when my feet get too hot, then look for them later. I have passed these tendencies on to my kids, and somehow we all manage to survive. Today was nice because they all pitched in so much, and got the place neat and tidy in no time flat.

Having people over is a blessing though. When I know company is coming, I do that panic cleaning, the kind of cleaning I'm best at. I don't exactly throw stuff under the couch, but I get it straightened up in double time. It's usually when I do something clever like drop the glass bottle of olive oil out of the cupboard, smash, glass and oil all over the floor. This is a true story, and it happened the other day when we were expecting all kinds of company.

I told Em that the grass is always greener, with us humans. Solitude sounds lovely sometimes, but I don't really crave it. I would appreciate some quiet alone time, but I also am super thankful for having the kid, and friends and older kids and grand kids coming over.

Anyway. The gingerbread cookies: they are too good. Do not make them, and if you do, don't triple the recipe. I ate at least six, if not TEN of them today, all together. What? I can't help that Evelyn brought her mama a steaming hot cup of coffee while we were frosting! "In for a penny, in for a pound", is not a wise saying when consoling oneself about cookie-eating.

But what a grand day we had.

Tomorrow, my three high school girls will be heading back to high school. Anne and Lydia will be coming over, and I think Jonathan and Char are going cross-country skiing with Emily. Shh, Em wouldn't want me to brag, but she is done with school for the term, did excellent on her last final, and has ONE semester left before being qualified to take the Nurse Practitioner exam, or whatever it's called. She's still working full time as a registered nurse, so she's busy...but now that she has a few weeks between school terms, we'll see a little more of her. :)

She is teaching Camille the clarinet, which is adorable. Jonathan is learning trumpet, and Char is plucking the guitar, plinking the piano a little, and trying out the violin. I am not musical, but some of my kids certainly are. Today we burst into some pretty lovely renditions of Christmas songs. Suzanne played, "I'll Be Home For Christmas" (Bing Crosby), and they teased me as I started to get teary-eyed. Aaron won't be home for Christmas, and Samuel won't either.

So after Emily and Abigail left, the dinner was cleaned up and put away, and we had watched, "Psych The Movie", Jonathan, Char, Cam, and I went in the hot tub. 16 degrees out, and a 104 degree hot tub: mmm-hmmm. yup. Very nice. Then the coyotes started howling, and they were too close for comfort, so we hopped out and ran through the snow back into the house. Ev and Char put on boots and put the covers back on, turned it back down. Walking in the snow to get in that thing is crazy, but getting out, dripping and hot, and walking back through the snow is crazy!

All showered and ready for bed...we had a good day.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

dreaming of a white christmas...

Jonathan and Charlotte Claire shoveled the driveway, Paul is in Boston for the week, and he's the one who knows how to start the snowblower. When he gets home, I am totally going to have him show me how.

The trampoline needed to be shoveled off this morning, too.

Yesterday's adventure was not how we planned, we drove 47 minutes to this special bakery/diner, and lo and behold, it was closed. The website listed it as open, but it had a closed sign in the window, and was all dark. hmmph. We got a coffee at Dunkin, and headed back to our area, where we ate at a local diner. By the time we sat down it was almost noon, and we were hungry. Mirielle and Char, Cam and I, we cleaned our plates. Well, not me, I saved half of the cinnamon raisin was hard to do, because it is baked fresh from a local bakery and delivered to this diner, and it is delectable. I shouldn't have had any of it, but when you name this diner, I think of this bread. You can keep the burgers and fries, I like the bread. So I had scrambled eggs and hash browns, and bacon. I swore to myself I wouldn't eat anything else for the rest of the day. But. I did. And, it was another egg, with a piece of sausage. Dinner for Evelyn and I, who had gone on a new coat quest...

See, Ev wanted a new coat for Christmas. We found one online, very reasonably priced, and ordered it. It didn't fit her right, but it did fit one of her sisters, who is now getting it for Christmas, so much for surprises. Anyway, we have gone from store to store to find her a coat, but they are so expensive. We ended up getting one at the warehouse store, for a good enough price, and she likes it okay. The good part was we went out yesterday afternoon and spent several hours together, which is always nice.

I do not know how these dogs have so much energy to fight and fool around after all that playing in the snow while the kids shoveled. They are worse than kids, the way they play. It doesn't last all day, thankfully, they get so tired and take huge-0 naps. I am about to send them back out the door. Sunny is the rabble-rouser, Suri wants to just lie around, but Sunny goes over and bites her leg, and puts toys in her face to get her to take the bait and start tugging back. They are wrestling on the couch, 75 pound dogs.

Time for school, and Anne is coming over...

Monday, December 11, 2017

it's the most wonderful time, of the year....

Evelyn made these yesterday, and somehow I know that they were excellently yummers.

Snow! This is from yesterday evening, it's been snowing lots more, and it's coming down like a snow globe right now.

Miss Sonja K. helped decorate the gingerbread cookies. Saturday night, after a long busy day working at the Dome, I didn't feel like doing much, but Evelyn and Charlotte Claire and Camille wanted to do something fun. (Kathryn took Suzanne secret Santa shopping, and Jonathan was at a boys' weekend having fun). So we ordered chicken wings and a pizza, watched silly Hallmark movies, and made cookies. #coziness.

Okay, here's a story: I got a Christmas card in the mail from Wegmans, a grocery store chain here in the northeast, the best supermarket ever, and I am a supermarket geek. I almost threw the card away, but I scanned the print inside, and instead of just saying, "Merry Christmas", this card said, and I honestly thought it was a scam, but it said that I qualified for a prize for being one of their best customers. Visit the service desk to claim my $50 gift card and coupons, as well as a gift. ha, I thought, but I did it anyway. I presented the card at the service desk on Friday, and what????!!!!!! I was in the top 100 customers for my local store. Top 100!??? Indeed. The manager came to congratulate me, and present the gift box. I was floored. No scam here. Then the box itself held coupons for free things! A free pound of shrimp, free ready-made entrees, ect, and a bottle of herbed sunflower oil. Plus, a fifty dollar gift card.

This does mean that perhaps I spend too much at the grocery store, I mean, I go to Wegmans, but I also go to BJ's, and Tops, and Price Chopper.

Anyway, it was too much fun.

Yesterday, Cheryl and I took our husbands to the airport. Bill was heading down to Georgia to visit his parents, and Paul was renting a car to go to Boston for the week, for work. They just happened to both have to be at the airport at the same time, so Cheryl and I found ourselves in the town we grew up in, and we had fun...the Geddes bakery, first. That's where Margaret and Adrian got their wedding donuts, one year ago yesterday, Happy Anniversary! We were celebrating Abigail's birthday yesterday, so that was going to be the cake, a dozen assorted donuts, then three different muffins in a separate box for a birthday gift, Ab loves muffins.

Anyway. Cheryl and I went to Kmart, then to Target, and got lots of Christmas shopping done. We got coffee, and talked, and it was a great day.

Home...Evelyn had made cinnamon buns, and it smelled heavenly in here. I put a ham in the oven, then quartered some potatoes, tossed them in olive oil and seasonings, and roasted them up. We had apples sauce and veggies, too. Then dessert: gingerbread cookies (they were SO good!), the cinnamon rolls, the Oreo truffles I had made (do NOT make these. You have been warned. They are way too good. One package of Oreos, or store brand, I used Wegmans, all broken up, add an 8 ounce package of cream cheese, blended together until smooth. I dipped mine in a bag of chocolate chips, melted with a bit of coconut oil and some white chocolate melting wafers. Then for some of them, I added Andes mint chocolate chips, and made some minty ones. They are too good, so do not make them.). There were donuts, cut in halves, of course, and even quarters, for tasting purposes. I only had one thin slice of a chocolate frosted one, one truffle, and a few tastes of cinnamon roll...then like four gingerbread cookies. blah. But. Today is a new day.

We were celebrating Abigail's 31st birthday. She is my second oldest child, born back when I was a mere 21 years old. Ab is a very special daughter. She's my accountant daughter, and she's sweet and funny and genuine, faithful and kind and thoughtful. She's diligent and responsible, and she has a laugh that makes every one around her laugh too.

Some of us went in the hot tub in the evening, which was delightful under the falling snow. The little girls got out, rolled in the snow, and jumped back in. Not me, it was hard enough to walk barefoot in the snow then get into the tub, but hey, 104 degrees when it's 25 outside is pretty sweet.

Today, we are going on an adventure. Mirielle is picking me up, and we are going to a a bakery/restaurant in a small town a ways from here, owned by my brother's son's girlfriend, so my nephew's girlfriend, Mirielle's cousin's girlfriend. She bakes her own breads, makes everything fresh and is a pastry chef. So, we have been wanting to visit her restaurant, and today is the day. The snow is falling, it looks so Christmas-y, and we are off...and shh, I know, two days in a row of eating the wrong things...but I'll be careful.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

just being there....

Our twenty dollar Christmas tree...I rather like it's odd proportions, it's nice and old fashioned. And my girls won again: white lights.

The little girls counted, we made 96 cookies...and frosted them. I did not eat one cookie, not a whole one. I do confess to breaking off a few pieces to taste, which is silly, because how can these not taste good? Seriously? Butter, real vanilla, flour and sugar, eggs, then more sugar on top:) But before you think me too virtuous, I will also confess to eating 3/4 of a chocolate bar last night. I was so good all day, then I just HAD to have chocolate. Dang it, no one else wanted a square, and I wasn't paying close attention. Do you want to hear more excuses or is that good enough? BTW, it was really yummy, good old fashioned Hershey's milk chocolate.

Yesterday, Camille said, "I don't know why, but I am just so happy." Ah, young children at Christmas time.

Then this morning, she woke up from a bad dream. She dreamed that Evelyn had magic powers and that she had turned evil. She prattled on about it all, then she got to the end, the bad part, where she had to give me one last hug. Ah Cam, I just hugged her for a while, told her I love her. Poor girl. She's watching, "Arthur", right now, because the school day hasn't started yet, ha. Anne will be here soon, and we'll be getting busy. The days fly by.

Yesterday, we did go out and about. I wanted to get something for Abigail's birthday (yes, we have THREE kids born in December!, just in case Christmas presents weren't enough to buy.) We went to Marshall's and found not only Ab's gift but some good Secret Santa things. Then since we had Anne in the stroller, she was happy, we walked down to Moe's. Moe's is a chain restaurant, Mexican food. The kids LOVE it. It's like Chipotle, you go through the line and customize your taco, burrito, rice bowl, or salad. Wednesday kids eat free, Jonathan pointed out. :)

We went to B.J.'s next a huge warehouse store. The kids like that place because of free samples. Anne was getting tired, but I still let the kids stop for waffle fries and mac and cheese, after all, it's a day in their lives. Char and Cam were adorable, they were singing songs to Anne as we walked along, keeping her happy, and I tell you, they were making complete strangers happy too, they were all out smiling at me as we passed them, and my girls were oblivious that they were in public.

Home...ah, home. We brought in the gifts and the groceries, and saved lots of our Moe's food for the three high school girls. We had coffee and cookies when they got home (no cookies for me though!), and it was cozy. I put the plate of cookies in front of Anne...she didn't know what one to choose.

This fine morning, I was extremely thankful that I could be here for Cam after her bad dream. I am thankful to be here when those three high school girls get off the bus, and for when the older ones stop over. My kids are growing up, but I'm still glad I can be here for them.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

cookies and coffee and sparkly things...

are the delusion of December, the sunshine and puppy dogs of the season. It's exciting! It is. I feel like a kid this year, all happy with anticipation. I got Paul something really cool, and with my own money, and can't wait for him to be all happy about it. If you must know, he's a hard one to please.That's not even the right way to describe it, it's more like he doesn't show it, or maybe that he doesn't see the need to fake it. If it's just a ho-hum gift, he'll give a ho-hum reaction, not smile and say how much he loves it, like I do.

Yesterday was really nice, in the early afternoon, Margaret and I went out shopping. I had some Target coupons: a ten dollar gift card came in the mail (off the purchase of fifty dollars or more), I had another gift card, then had returned some things and had still another gift card, then had a 20% off the total purchase coupon from black Friday. I got some Secret Santa stuff done, and a few gifts, and had a nice time with Margaret, she dawdles along and wasn't in a hurry, it was seriously enjoyable.

Our weekend was fantabulous. We had company on Friday night. I had a baking day on Friday. Four pumpkin pies, two loaves of bread, a loaf of low carb almond bread, and chocolate chip cookies.

Paul made venison stew, and some venison roast, both very good, and this from someone who doesn't like it very much.

Saturday was our church Christmas concert, the little girls sang, "We need a little Christmas", and it was sweet. It was incredibly blessed and encouraging. Here is my sister Cheryl with me. :)

Back at home in the evening, everyone was here except for Aaron. The nurses had the night off, Samuel was here for the weekend, and even Grandma visited, although I got here right after she left.

Sunday, more company! Paul was slicing up and packaging more deer meat at the kitchen table while I made a ham dinner at the other end of the room...ham, roasted potatoes, sliced veggies, rolls, and more cookies for dessert. There were at least twenty of us eating, and it was crazy but fun.

Now after all the company and the busyness, the house needs another thorough cleaning, but blah, I do not feel like it.

In a little while, Anne will be here. And after that, Sam will be leaving, going back to Virginia, to where he calls home these days. Some stories are not mine to tell, but you know, there is a story here, one that I have been going know how sometimes I say that life ain't all rainbows and sprinkles? Well, sometimes you just get hit with these trials, right out of left field, and wow. Okay. But here's the thing: Samuel is going to be a daddy! Imagine our surprise, not long after he got out of the Army, us not even knowing he had a sweetheart! So for all these months, I haven't said anything because he had to tell people his own way, and it's not my story to tell.

His sweetie's name is Grace, and she is just finishing her degree in elementary education. Their baby is due next month, and if it were up to Sam, he would marry her right now, but like I said, it's not my story. Sam is trying to find his way in life, instead of going to college after the Army like he thought he would, he's working and trying to find a job as a police officer. It serves him well that he was in the Old Guard, I have no doubt he will find something good. The fact is that Sam and Grace love each other very much, she is a very nice girl, I really like her. Things don't always go the way this mama thinks they should, children grow up, and have minds of their own. The good thing is that Sam is a good kid, and is very determined to go forward in life with living for God, and being responsible, and putting things right. He is extremely excited about the upcoming birth of his baby, and plans to be a good father, and help raise his son.

So, I am going to be a Grandma of four, and this will be the first grandson! :)

Friday, December 1, 2017

and on to december...

The girls are excited, today they get to start their "chocolate calendars", the cardboard advents with a little molded Christmas chocolate behind every door. They each get their own, which was unheard of back in the day, back when I was knee-deep in small children. On our wall calendar were the names of the kids whose turn it one time, we had four calendars and three kids sharing each one, so they got a chocolate every third day, it was hard to keep track of, then one of the toddlers or maybe a sneaky six year old, would get a hold of one of those calendars, open every little door, all the chocolate.

Anyway...back then, there was no way I was going to buy 12 or 10 or even six of those calendars, so they had to share. Sometimes they would choose to do the "every day we each get a small bite" method. Oh my poor kids, they had to learn to take turns and share.

Now Char and Cam and Jon each get their own calendar. But I'm pretty sure they will share with Kap and Ev and Suze and Sonja K.

Yesterday I spent a ridiculous amount of time painting these little sign things, you know, the painted wood block things that are all the rage? I bought some ugly ones at the dollar store, painted them with primer, then yesterday used white pearl essence acrylic, then wrote words with glue and put glitter on them...also painted one of those cardboard-y advent things with the drawers for each day...I spend a few hours on this stuff, with so many other things to do, and I can't even say they came out excellent...maybe I'll take some pics of them later...but I can say this: I enjoyed it immensely.

I am a procrastinator. I woke up this morning with all my plans for the day. I want to make some low carb almond/coconut flour bread. (Yesterday I made some of those keto muffins, cinnamon, with some low-sugar craisins in a few of them...I ate them with butter and a little bit of no sugar added strawberry preserves...mmmm.) I also want to make two loaves of regular homemade bread, because we are having company tonight, and we are having two different crock-pot venison dishes that Paul is making. One has peaches in it, one has squash, I think. I know he cut up onions and peppers last night, and the kitchen counter looked like a murder had taken place. I used the kitchen table to make up a triple batch of chocolate chip cookie dough, and then baked just three pans of them so the girls could have some for school, and will bake the rest today. Today, when I do the other million things I have to do.

Anyway, I woke up this morning, and started to get things out to make some bread. Then I reasoned that it's better hot from the oven, so I shouldn't start it yet. And besides, Camille wasn't up yet, and she's the bread kneader. I need to do a thorough cleaning of the bathroom, and and and. But. I decided that it's going to be such a busy day, I should take advantage of the quiet of the morning first, because it's going to be a long time before I can sit and relax again.

The dogs have been out and back in, 8 paws wiped off (sometimes I miss Duke so much I start to cry), they are snoozing on the couches but one bad Sunny did destroy a random tree ornament she found on the floor. It's shredded up, waiting for me to clean up. The cats are fed and watered, sprawled out sleeping. The floors have been swept, the counters washed, and that's about it.

This morning, I found a little ornament I had set on a shelf on the wall behind the the kitten's paws. It's a little white squirrel ornament with a gold sparkly scarf (Suzanne laughed when I actually bought it for $2, but it's cute!), but somehow that kitten got that ornament down and was beating the heck out of I took it away and put it back on the shelf, I realized: We have a kitten. We're getting a Christmas tree tomorrow. Dang it. Christmas trees are just giant kitty toys. We have had them tip over before, cats climb trees. We WILL tie it up, regardless, but still.

Anyway, I have so much to do, but I know I'll run out of steam if I start scurrying too soon. Or hmm, is that just one of my excuses? I think it's just that panic cleaning is more effective. And besides, if I clean now, it will be messy again later anyway.

Last evening, poor Jonathan asked me if we could please watch our friend's three/four month old puppy for the day before Christmas through the day after Christmas, he would get paid towards his trip! Um, no. I said no. That's a first, btw. I am not a "no" sayer. I usually say yes. Especially to a visiting puppy! And this is one adorable puppy. Margaret and Adrian have this puppy's sister. But guess what? Margaret and Adrian will be bringing their not-quite-one year old Bunny pup over, plus their little 3/4 month old pup here, on Christmas Eve, and have been invited to stay the night here, which will be fun...but add one more puppy to the mix, and this is where even me, who doesn't say NO, had to say no. It was hard. Jon was disappointed. He is trying hard to earn money for this big trip...Evelyn and Suzanne and Sonja, and Jon are going to Norway in the spring for a special conference, with activities geared toward youth. And earning money for this has been challenging...but it seemed like it would tip the scales here from crazy to just CRAZYYY>

Anyway. The kid have been wreath-selling and raking leaves and cleaning people's cars, and still have lots of money to earn in a short time period.

As you get older, you realize how with the passing of time, things that are such a big deal, will fade into memory with everything else, and therefore, you don't get so bent out of shape about things. Also, hopefully, you know for a fact that God does not make mistakes, and there is a huge comfort in that. You see that He has had His hand on situations, and on people, and that when you put your trust in Him, there is no shame, no disappointment. If God is for us, who can be against us? (Rom 8:31)

Thursday, November 30, 2017

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

Okay, one thing that just makes my heart happy is when animals live together in harmony. These guys are friends. They chase each other around, but they cuddle up together too. It's not rare to see the cats and the dogs snuggling. I like it. I also like the quiet of the morning, like right now, when they're all sleeping. Kitten is on my lap behind the laptop screen, the pups on the couches, the cats are sprawled out sleeping too.

Busyness...yesterday we stayed home, had Anne here, got some school done...then in the afternoon I picked up the van with the bum tire, only a $15 fix, so that's always nice, then brought Miss Suzanne to the craft store for more yarn. I also looked at all the Christmas decorations, all on big sale, and I may have put a few things in the cart. We were in a hurry because Ben and Ashley and Anya and baby Elise were coming over, to have dinner with us before activity club. I cannot hurry in the craft store. I wander hither and nigh, looking at everything I didn't know I needed, getting more good ideas by the minute.

Then the fun at the register: this particular store offers a 15% discount off total purchases, including sale items, with proof of being a teacher, or a homeschooling teacher/parent. I have asked about it, and was told to bring in proof from the school. So yesterday, I finally remembered to do that, and oh what a hulabaloo. The cashier was not impressed with the form from the school, she said, "It says, "We have received your letter expressing your intent to homeschool...", intent? That doesn't prove you are really homeschooling." Okay.

After going in circles for a while, with Suzanne standing there like a champ, not even rolling her eyes or sighing huge sighs, they finally just gave me a discount card. I DO spend lots of money there, and it IS their policy, but oh dear I felt like they were bestowing a hug favor upon me, and I had to bow down and kiss their feet....then the cashier said, "Thank you for your patience." ha, she didn't see how much IMPATIENCE I had inside, but to be fair, I was battling it...:)

Anne is here in four minutes, so up goes the sleeping kitty, as I go out to greet her...

Weekend forecast: company, full house Friday night. Clean the house Friday, make room for Christmas tree (furniture moving!)
Saturday morning: Christmas tree quest, the place we bought from for years closed down, people retired. We used to cut our own, maybe that's what we'll do. Saturday afternoon: Christmas concert! Just me and the little girls, and Mirielle and Abigail are going...then in the evening, gathering here with all the kids except for Aaron:( So I'll be home early from the concert. The kids are planning to pitch in and order pizzas, so I don't have to worry about dinner that night.

Today, we are going to fit in a quick trip to the grocery store. I baked some keto muffins this morning, cinnamon flaxseed, yucky but yummy, if you know what I mean...when you cut out sugar and most carbs, then a fresh baked muffin is just dandy, even if it's not sweet. Anyway, I figured that tomorrow I would be quite busy around here, and we are running out of some essentials, so I'll just go today.

I am super excited for Christmas because I got Paul something really fun. It's nice to earn a bit of my own money, even if I spend most of it on the kids. But to buy something for him with money I earned myself is very satisfying, and I think he might even be surprised and really appreciate what I got. Joseph put it on his card, and I paid him for it, so Paul doesn't look at the account and ask what I bought. I don't think he reads this, but just in case, I won't tell what it is...:)

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

library and target....

Camille's favorite outing...of course it could be topped off with a trip to the diner, but that didn't happen of them did get the bright idea to stop at the Byrne Dairy and get, if you haven't had one of these, you are missing out big time. It's a chocolate chip cookie sandwich, the filling is: soft ice cream, all swirled in between, and then frozen solid. They make brownie ones now, and mint and raspberry ice cream filling too. I did not imbibe, no, I just drank some sugar free lemon flavored iced tea (I love the real tea with no artificial sweeteners, just lemon and tea), and pretended like I wasn't drooling.

Anyway...we went to the library, finally!, and imagine my surprise and delight when I realized that half the library books were still on the kitchen table, including the book that was lost and then found, which is adding up the fines for me...ugh. Oh well. We still got out a few stacks of good books. And little Anne loves the library.

Target...we went there because Cam has a $15 gift card from her birthday. I found a few Christmas gifts, and got some more Christmas lights, and used a few coupons quick, ha, kids would differ in opinion about my version of "quick", but I really was quick...Target offered a $10 gift card if one purchased four particular health and beauty items, and I had coupons for those four items, so it was a grand deal. And they are good Christmas gifts.

Anyway. Anne was tired in Target, so we did hurry through. I let her play with a few things I didn't end up buying, bad shopper award, but she lost interest. She was so good in there though. She likes going bye-bye. I asked her if she wanted to go when we were getting ready, and she did!

We got home, and what fun, Lydia and her mama (Mali) were visiting! Anne liked that so much!

I made chicken, noodles, and a nice big salad for dinner.

And that's what's going on here. Lots of busyness, drama, and random small crises, but it's all good.

Anne is on her way over, and somehow I have to get to the shop in town to pick up the van, the tire had a leak, and then the spigot/valve broke, corroded, so we couldn't fill the tire...never a dull moment.

Sonja K. is here, stayed home from school not feeling well. I don't think she's really sick....:)

Oh, and here's Camille's Christmas list...I thought it was cute...neck-a-lace, ha.

And Fruity Pebbles box with the two bags, she is asking for the warehouse size. It's too funny. Oh Cam, don't grow up...

Friday, November 24, 2017

black friday and a huge deer (big buck!) and the hot tub...!

Paul got another deer this morning...a good sized buck, 45 pounds of meat in the freezer. I am not partial to venison, but need to start liking it, we have so much of it.

I went out B.F. shopping this fine morning, way too late to get in on most of the bargains. The stores were still packed, but the good stuff was gone. But honestly, it starts on Thanksgiving evening now, and who in their right mind wants to leave their family and their warm cozy home at five o'clock on Thanksgiving day to get in on the sales? It's crazy.

Two things I wanted, I ordered online anyway. I did get a few things I wanted in Target and Walmart this morning too. I already ordered some stuff from Kohl's online, and am not planning on getting tons of stuff this year. We have Secret Santa gifts to get, we drew names on Wednesday.

And..the hot tub is working just fine!!! After all these years, I can't believe it works after just a few minor repairs. The cover is fine, I just ordered a new sheet of thick bubble wrap stuff to go under the cover, and the old cover still works well. The stars were astounding tonight, we sat out there and it was just so relaxing.

Tomorrow morning, early, Evelyn and I are heading to the Dome for a basketball game...but not as spectator, no, we have to work concessions. Benjamin is going to ride with us. Abigail is watching the little girls for me, Paul is going hunting again, and Jon is going to his friend's house.

Suzanne has taken up crocheting, she has the cutest hat on with little ears on it. She made me a warm scarf. Sonja is making a blanket, and even Char and Cam have been crocheting. :)

Anyway, goodnight. Morning comes early.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

thankful thursday...happy Thanksgiving, happy turkey day...

Paul's mom was here with us for dinner, and that's my son Joseph in my spot, as I took the picture...he sat at the counter, didn't mind a bit. Three of our kids weren't here for thanksgiving, Aaron, Sam, and Kathryn. And baby Elise was here but snoozing in her little seat in the living room while we ate.

It went by too fast. Margaret made sweet potato soup, it was SO good! The fresh turkey was delicious, and everything else was too. Some of the kids went in the hot tub when it got late, and lots of us played Jeopardy! that Evelyn made. We picked names for our Christmas Secret Santa. Things are exciting.

This fine morning, we are having brunch...well, at noon-ish...oven French Toast, bacon, sausage, fruit, juice, coffee, scrambled eggs, ect. The our official Turkey Day dinner: homemade pizza and wings, including a keto pizza or two, because SOMEONE has to get back on track. Someone who, shh, had too much pie...but oh dear. It was good.

Anyway. Here's a little flashback from life here five years ago...

This was five years ago, and the thing we unanimously agreed on that we were most thankful for was Benjamin's safe return from Afghanistan. In this pic, fifteen of the kids, all except for Ben, who had just come back from his tour, and was at Fort Lewis-McChord out in Washington. There are so many funny things about this picture, but when I look at it, I just see how God has been good to us. We have had our share of trials, but have been blessed beyond measure.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

pies and more pies but not enough pies....and police.

Oh, the plans of man...

Yesterday was supposed to go a certain way, and ha. I should know by now...

When you have Pie Making Plans, all you want to do is start measuring out that flour, rolling out that pie crust. But no, other things happen...

So the trouble with the daughter at school escalated, more stuff was added into the mix, she was harassed in the hallway, and ultimately, we had to go talk to a sheriff's investigator, at the suggestion and request of the school counselor. The backlash of this whole thing is extremely difficult, I can't go into details, but what a mess. And there we were, right during prime pie making time, at the Public Safety Building, trying to secure safety for our girl.

Daughter and I went to procure last minute milk and bread kind of things, and I bought her a new water bottle, she could have asked for the moon, but she's a good girl, and didn't.

Home...ah, time to put some frozen pizza into the oven for a spiffy-quick din-din...then make those pies. But. What?! Oh my goodness, it's Tuesday night, the kids are going to the youth meeting! That meant it was just Charlotte Claire and Camille home to help me! And do you know those girls were up to the task? They peeled all the apples for the two apple pies. We made five pumpkin, and a shell for the chocolate pie I haven't made yet. We didn't make nearly the amount we usually do, but it will do. We made 8 crusts, I gave each of them a bowl and put ingredients for for crusts in each bowl and they pureed those bits of butter right into the flour/salt/sugar mix. Camille mixed and measured the pumpkin pie filling while Char started the apples, and I rolled out the crusts. It was really a good time, and we finished in less than three hours. And...

We went into the hot tub! Benjamin and Adrian fixed it!

But...there is a leak. It's a small one, so we may be able to live with it. And...this morning the girls can't get it out of sleep mode, so I have to go re-set it and see if I can get it going. The cover which we thought was ripped isn't ripped, and is working fine. I ordered more of the thick bubble wrap stuff to put on under the cover, it should be here Friday. It's heavenly to sit in there...Char, Cam, and I went in while the pumpkin pies baked...then Evelyn, Suzanne, and Sonja came in after the youth was amazing. The chilly air, and the hot nice.

And...our Thanksgiving is today, and someone has to get that bird into the oven...its over 26 pounds, and it'll take a while. Paul is out hunting with Jonathan...our tables need to be moved, the house needs cleaning...and here I sit. I woke up with a headache, and today, I do not want a headache. I started off with ibuprofen right away, I don't like taking it, but today, I do not want a headache....

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

teenagers and how to deal with them....

Ha, if you thought I'd give you answers...instead, I entreat you to take a deep breath, say a prayer, then say exactly the opposite of what you thought you needed to say to your teenager. Dealing with teenagers is a painful experience, and there is definitely no one-size-fits-all in it. In my book, what's required are buckets full of forgiveness, a soft heart, and a few more buckets of forgiveness...and a huge dose of humility. For the MOM (or whoever has the gift of dealing with the teenager!).

Me: You have too much make up on.
Kid: Do you think leggings with a skirt look nice?
Me: No, but I have a huge muffin top at the moment, so my jeans aren't comfy, and I am not there yet in the Leggings as Pants thing.
Kid: I like my make up.
Me: You are so pretty without it.
Kid: You are so critical.

Me: Can you wash up a few dishes?'
Kid: I have so much homework. I don't think you realize, Mom.
Me: When you're done, then.
Kid: I won't be done until bed time.
(How, may I ask, does this child have time to binge watch every episode ever made of that one hospital show?)

Me: I'm going to the library today while you're at school.
Kid: What?! I NEED to go to the library!!!
Me: I have no problem going after school instead, if you want.
Kid: No, because then you'll be mad you had to wait for me.

At the moment, we only have three teenage girls at home, one teenage boy, one older boy who is no trouble at all, and the two little girls who know more about monthly cycles and biology than you would think possible, courtesy of having nine older sisters. Jon knows a thing or two also, doesn't bat an eyelash at the conversations these girls have. Anyway. Kathryn is coming home from California in a few weeks, so it will be even more fun, ha.

These three girls...the third, fourth, and fifth girls of our five-girls-in-a-row-in-five-years, are besties, when they aren't worst enemies. It comes so quickly, they're all laughing and having a good old time, then woosh, one says something, and another retorts, and the third one either sides with one of her sisters, or rolls her eyes and walks away. There can be slamming, pouting, crying, but it never lasts long. They have too much fun together.

And here's the thing: we love them more than life itself. We would do anything for them, and our only hope is that they are happy in life.

Yesterday, one daughter came home from school with tears overflowing. I had a bad day, she said. I can't offer details, but she was threatened three times, by the same boy...he says he is going to beat her up.

Never a dull moment. This daughter is a little bit scared, because who wants to have a target on their back? They say this boy has been in trouble a lot and has been in fights, and in my book, any boy who threatens a girl....hmm.

So pray for us, that we don't give in to that spirit of fear, because it IS written that God has NOT given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. (2 Tim. 1/7)

So these girls of mine all went to school today, brave souls as they are, I offered them, especially the one, to stay home, but no, she said that's just letting him win. He's not there, but his friends are there, and with social media, these things go around, and sides are being taken. It's ridiculous, but it's the world we live in.

Pray for us to be safe, but also not to blow things out of proportion, and also that we can have soft hearts and not let hatred in.

On a different note, yesterday I painted an ugly little dresser, didn't take "before" pics, but it came out so nice! I primed it first, which was very strong smelling stuff, oil based, but oh it worked to cover up the red. Then, I chalk painted it Plaster color, from Walmart, then waxed it looks really nice. of the brand new stools, the black one...I spray painted it with spray chalk paint. It was not a success. It didn't go on evenly, it dripped, and I just wasn't impressed. My sister was helpful, she said that I can always wait until spring, take it out on the deck, and do it over again. But I didn't wait until spring, I just repainted it with regular chalk paint. I had some of the plaster color, and added some golden brown acrylic to make the color creamier, and it looks fine now. I finished the last coat of wax this morning.

As if I didn't have anything better to do. Tomorrow is our Thanksgiving. Tomorrow. Anne is here, and I have like ten pies to make. I have cleaning to do, but guess what? We are going to the library. Somebody got out a Game of Thrones book, and it's severely overdue. The kids really want more books to read, and Anne likes the library a lot, there are blocks and toys there.

We will also stop at the store for a few straggly odds and ends, like eggs and milk, and then Jon wants to go to Sears to get his glasses fixed, hopefully they can just put the arm back on for him without too much hassle.

So I'll come home with groceries and books and small children, and wistfully wish to just crawl into bed with a steaming mug of coffee and a good new book, but I won't. We need to move the kitchen tables around and sweep and mop under them, and there is always juggling with stuff...Paul's hunting clothes bin, and school supplies and craft stuff and and and.

But guess what? I am SO excited for Turkey Day. So excited. Emily and Mirielle and Mali all have the day off, three R.N.'s with the same day off! And Ben and Ashley are here!!!! Little Anya and baby Elise, and sweet little Lydia will be here. I am so excited. I am not excited about all the work, but it will be worth it. We have a fresh turkey in the fridge, and have so much to be thankful for....

Sunday, November 19, 2017

the obituaries....

I don't read the Sunday morning paper from cover to cover anymore, as the news is the same as the stuff I read online, but I do enjoy the obituaries. "Enjoy" may not be the right word, it's not like I'm glad all those people died, it's just that I feel it's the least I can do for them. I scan them, and find it fascinating what how whole lives are summed up in one or two sentences, including things like, "She loved her cat, Fluffy." "He was a HAM radio operator."

Life goes by fast, we do know that. I know a few things I don't want in my obituary:

She was always fretting about something.

She was as lazy as the day is long.

She tried. (when my son Aaron was a teenager, he said that was going to be my epitaph, ha)

No one could sweep the floor to her standards.

She eventually caught up on her laundry.

Anyway...what I'd really like written about me:

She didn't care what anyone thought of her, she lived for God.

She remained in patience and in love, no matter what happened.

Her house was open and welcoming, always, even if she didn't feel like company.

She loved her husband, her kids and their spouses, the grandchildren, and her friends so much that she never ever complained about them.

Anyway. Here in the Northeast U.S. of A., we are having a windy cold spell, it's snowing out right now, and the wind sounds like a freight train. I was the first one up, so I got to let the dogs out. Our across-the-street neighbors are having company, which our pups think is their business, Sunny goes barking over there like they have no right to get their Sunday paper out of their box. So I had to go outside with them, with treats in my hands, praising them for going potty, and luring them back in before they got any ideas. I had already gone out to get our newspaper, slipping on the easiest shoes by the door, which are Jonathan's sandals/slides, the most-used shoes in the house, and brrrr! Then, I had to go out again, because, of all things, there is holiday season Sunday delivery service, and Kathryn got something delivered. So barefoot, in the slushy snow, I ran out and met the delivery guy before the barking dogs woke up the whole house.

Boring details, sorry.

I made the coffee, washed up a sinkful of dishes, swept the floors, put laundry in the dryer, put laundry in the washer, wiped down counters, then ahh, my comfy chair and the Sunday paper.

Can I tell you about a video I watched about a married couple that I know? Years ago, they had come to a place in their marriage where L., the wife, thought they should just separate. They had grown apart, and she was sad. V. had no idea things had gotten THAT bad, but he knew his wife had some changing to do. He came in to great need in his heart because he didn't want his marriage to end, so he prayed to God for help. He got an answer...the answer was that maybe, just maybe, HE was part of the problem. He didn't think so, really, but he prayed and prayed, and talked to God about this...and finally conceded that he was 5% of the problem. He decided that even though he was only 5% of the problem, he would work with all his heart on that 5%. He was more thoughtful, more forgiving, he saw his own demands on her in it all, and it softened her heart too. She started to see her own self too, and they pressed into God for more light and more understanding....and now they are a few years older than me, still married, and extremely happy together.

So, Happy Sunday to you all!

Friday, November 17, 2017

black friday online!

I hate to give out all of my secrets, but shh, shopping online for B.F. deals is the way to go. I also don't like to give out all the secrets of what I am getting for Christmas, in case any of the kids reads the blog...but Kohl's starts their deals on Monday, so you can order boots for your girls, or surprises for the other kids...and you get $15 in Kohl's Cash for every $50 you spend...and no I am not getting paid to say this.

We are having our Thanksgiving on Wednesday, because three of the nurses have Wednesday off, and it's all about having the family together, so Wednesday is Turkey Day, and we will indeed be thankful! Thursday will have it's own celebration for all who are able to attend, a brunch, then a pizza later...there's something insanely satisfying about having pizza when you know most of the rest of the country is having a turkey dinner, like we're rebelling against the whole holiday, but in reality we've just already had it.

Anyway. After school today we have a plan to do some crafts at the kitchen table, drink coffee and cocoa, and have fun. We're painting some ornaments...

Sugar. Sugar is my #1 enemy, besides sin, of course. Sugar, as in grains and pastas, and of course M&M's. I try to eat only meats and veggies, barely any fruit even, but last night I had a mini pack of M&M's, and limited it to only one small pack...I knew I shouldn't have had them, even as I ripped open the cute little brown paper, but...then I wanted more, but said NO, and that was it. Our dinner last night though, it was not healthy...but oh it was yum. Cam and I cut like seven pounds of chicken breast into little cubes, then I dumped it all into a corn starch/flour mixture, and deep fried each little chicken piece, turning the whole mess into fragrant fried chicken bites, which we mixed up with orange ginger sauce, served with rice and veggies, rice which I limited to a tablespoon, but accompanied by that decadent chicken, all was lost anyways. But did I mention it was good? The kids really super appreciated it, it tasted better than Chinese buffet chicken, and they also knew Mom stood at the stove for a good hour, frying chicken.

Because sometimes you just look at that package of chicken breast and wonder what in the heck to do with it...we've had chicken and gravy a lot lately, and fajitas are good but who has green peppers and tomatoes on hand right now? I try to avoid packaged foods, and lean on meat and veggies with optional starches, like noodles, potatoes, rice, or fresh rolls or Italian bread, which I avoid in general, and sometimes I just run out of ideas.

Tonight I'm making spaghetti...the kids love it, and I eat the sauce on canned green beans, or perhaps some spaghetti squash.

The girls and I are going on a fun outing and I am so excited! They need red or green dresses for a Christmas concert at church, their dress rehearsal is tomorrow, so today we are going looking. We have been so busy lately, it's nice to have a day like this.

Yesterday was Della's Daycare, we had: Davian(5) and his little sister Anne(1), and Lydia(2), and Jon's friend Toby(12). It was busy and noisy and there were toys here and there and everywhere like the old days, and my head was spinning. There is this awareness of where a child is, what a child is doing, that every mom has or should have...that vigilant second nature that keeps track even while doing a million other took me years for that to dissipate, and to relax, and to realize, there's no one I have to keep an eagle-eye on, 24/7. I found myself watching other people's kids too intensely, making sure they didn't stand up in the stroller, or knock down their drink, but eventually, it sort of went away. Now...taking care of Anne, I watch her like a hawk. It's even more intense than with my own kids, ha. And when Lyd comes over,'s back! That hyper-vigilance. The other evening, after little Anne was long gone, back at home with her family, I found myself doing that sudden panic of Oh No, Am I Supposed To Be Watching Someone!!!?

So today...we don't have any little ones...and off we go...the girls are happy, and Jon is doing something with Joseph...after doing some school work, of course:)

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

head games...

Yesterday, Kim was visiting, and we were talking about home improvements. We both have our lists, and most of the things on the lists will never actually even get onto the lists, and we know it. Because to get something accomplished, you have to want to do it more than the other 99 things that are calling for your attention, then you have to have the money and the time to do it.

At our house, replacing the windows has been on the list, and we actually did half of them last year. The rest were supposed to be done this year, but we got a new furnace instead. A new roof is on the list too, happy homeowners we are! I would like to add a new tile floor for the kitchen, because my brother installed ours years ago, (my brother who committed suicide), and he didn't install new sub-flooring, just put the tile over the linoleum...I'm not sure if that's why we have so many cracked tiles, or if it's just the type of tile we chose, but...we have lots of cracked tiles. I would like to rip up the carpeting in our bedroom and replace it with interlocking wood-like flooring. I would like to replace some bedroom carpets for the kids, and Sam's old room needs a desperate makeover, having had leaking pipes. But those are big projects.

The projects that I can actually do reasonably are the DIY things like the kitchen cabinets and counters. Every so often, I do lots of online research, and almost start these projects, ha. Yesterday I started a small project...Jonathan had this little dresser in his room, and carried it out here while cleaning his room, said he doesn't want it anymore. It originally had white veneer, but was painted red to match some other red things in his room years I sanded it down, and got ready to prime it, but to spare boring details, I don't have that primer right now because Jonathan forgot to bring it home, blah, and now this red dresser is sitting in the kitchen. I was thinking to chalk paint it a nice creamy white, or a dusty blue, put on some new knobs, and use it for hats and mittens over by the door. I love little, do-able projects like that.

Anyway. I am almost ready to start in on the cabinets...they have to be scrubbed first, and have all the handles/pulls taken off. Then I am thinking to chalk paint, then use a matte polycrylic. But I am going back and forth, I could sand and use latex paint, an nice satin finish, then I wouldn't have to seal them. And I'm not sure what color...I love the old-ish look of creamy white, antique-y, farm-house-ish, but the window frames are stark white, with white trim and hmmmm. Maybe a pale gray, or a deep dark gray.

I am leaning toward chalk paint because I am leaning towards not taking the doors off. I just don't know where I would put them all, and it seems like a huge hassle. I have read accounts of cabinets just being painted with doors on, and they've turned out fine.

Anyway...once I get these ideas into my head, I just want to redo everything. And we need to be driven, in order to actually accomplish something, but then there is the whole Being Content thing, and then Where Does It All End, and then of course there's At The End Of My Life None of These Things Matter. But then, for the time being, it's nice to have a pleasant home, a comfortable place....

But oh my goodness, I really want to start this project....

In other news, Kathryn might be coming home at the end of the month. Samuel has moved down to Virginia for a bit...details on that is stranger than fiction though, I'll say that.

And...Anne will be here soon!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

hess trucks and other seasonal fun...!

It's back, and it's better than ever! Jonathan got his truck in the mail today from Grandma! 13 is not too old to love a new Hess truck!

Yesterday afternoon, I went to the craft store with my sister. It was a split second decision, one of those spontaneous trips out the door...she called and yes, I wanted to go with her! After all, I had just put dinner in the oven...I had floured and browned up two chuck roasts, in hot oil, with pepper and rosemary...cut up potatoes and carrots, and put it all in two glass baking pans in the oven, covered tight in yes, I felt I could leave.

The craft store is all things Christmas. And yeah, I bought a few ornaments:)

I won't put anything up until after Thanksgiving, but I am excited about it.

We went to the pool yesterday, and it felt great...Margaret and Adrian went with us...what a nice day.

And, I walked this morning! I just did, and lo and behold, I didn't freeze to death.

Tonight's dinner is going to be meat, potatoes, and carrots from last night, made into a stew/soup, with a fresh loaf of Italian bread...well, it was fresh yesterday afternoon, still hot, when I put it into the cart. My sister and I went to the grocery store really quick after the craft store, I didn't need much...just some half and half, a pound of butter, some bananas, and a package of hot sausage, and some spicy white hot coneys, marked down because they are summery, but are still good.

Anyway. Anne was delightful today...she is walking more than crawling now, and she liked the Hess truck as much as Jon did. She keeps me busy, but it's nice to have a little one to snuggle with. My sister-in-law Kim came for a visit with her two youngest, who also homeschool. Coffee and conversation, it was cozy and nice. I made up a triple batch of chocolate chip cookie dough and baked a few pans of them...and resisted...tasted some dough, but resisted...then all of the sudden, I found myself breaking off a piece of cookie where there are no chocolate chips...I like that part best, my cookies are more brown sugar than white, and the dough part is so was SO good, so I ate like two more cookies...blah. So much work I do, then that happens.

But one thing I have learned is that just because I mess up like that, doesn't mean I am doomed and I may as well eat a bag of Tootsie sir. It's back on track before too much damage is done, and oh well, learn from it.'s dinner time.

Monday, November 13, 2017


Cold weather happens, here in the northeast. Try as you may, you can't escape it, unless you actually escape it and head south. This fine morning, it's 30f. That's two degrees below freezing, so the precipitation is snowy/freezing rain stuff. There was new snow all over the deck and on the vehicles in the driveway this morning. It's overcast, and gloomy, and no one in their right mind would go for a walk in it. But here's the thing: I need to wrap my mind around the fact that those lovely autumn days are just about gone, summer is a distant memory, and I will not melt, nor will I freeze to death. I may not enjoy the pelting sting of freezing rain against my face, nor relish the cold wind, but. This is how it is, and I need to stop with the excuses.

Every morning, I declare that indeed, tomorrow I will take my walk.

This past weekend went by in a blur, but a good, happy blur. On Friday, we gave away kitten #6 to a nice lady who is a real estate agent and has two kids, and two dogs, and one cat. They had two cats, but one passed away and her dogs missed it. We messaged back and forth quite a bit, then agreed to meet at Target so she could take kitty. She sent me pics later of the kitten meeting her dogs, and they all liked each other, kitty didn't stop purring. I'm glad kitty found a good home. They are all rehomed now except for little orange guy, as we call him. He's staying, because we NEED three cats. I can't say I'm complaining, he loves me best. He's lying here on my lap right now, purring. He's really big and furry and sweet and very needy. He wants his mama all the time, and we are trying to keep them separated so she can stop nursing, and start drying up so she can be spayed.

After saying goodbye to the kitten, we went shopping for a bit. Kohl's had some good coupons and discounts, so we got a few things..the little girls had grown out of all their boots, so they found some that weren't too crazy-unreasonable. A few of the older girls found sweaters for seven dollars, the nice long ones with the hoods.

Yesterday, we went to Target...Margaret was with us, which was like the good old days. Margaret, Evelyn, Suzanne, Sonja, Charlotte Claire, Camille, and me. We bought bar-stools for the counter, which the kids have been wanting forever and ever. They don't match, one is black and the other is warm white. One is taller, and the styles are different. But they were $12 and $13, and Evelyn and Char assembled them as soon as we got home. Paul came in the door from hunting, and the kids were all excited, see the new stools, Daddy? He had no idea that we even needed them! Now of course, I am flitting through pintrest, trying to decide if I should Go For It, and spray paint them a nice matching gray or chalk paint them or just leave them and not risk ruining them. Can you spray paint in the house? I have the boxes they came in and could make a backdrop....hmmmm. What if I wreck them?

Thanksgiving is almost upon us, how did this happen? I tell you, time is on warp speed these days. School reports are due this week, already! Christmas is just around the corner! 41 days, not that I'm counting. It makes things seem frantic to see that number, but I have been stashing a few things away in my present closet. I like to give each of the kids lots of good stuff, but that's not really practical, nor do they need it, the older ones. The younger ones aren't so much into toys anymore, and the grandchildren don't need lots of stuff either. Anya is four now, and has a new baby sister, and for the time being, lives in a snuggly apartment, with not a lot of room for extras. She already has plenty of toys, too. Lydia is two, and she has LOADS of toys already. So Grandma can't just go crazy, their mamas wouldn't appreciated that. But with secret Santa gifts and girls' youth gift exchanges and and and, the fun is just starting.

I saw an article written by a mom of four boys, lamenting on how they already had all the toys. ALL OF THE TOYS, is what she said. So her younger kid didn't need anything but maybe some new jeans and sneakers. (she was suggesting that friends and relatives gift them with memberships to museums, ect, instead of toys because she was so stressed about having too much stuff). I get it, I really do. But, I have always believed that the younger kids deserve to know the joy of getting their OWN new doll, or new set of Lego. Just because MOM has been there done that, doesn't mean the child shouldn't get to experience the excess of Christmas, ha.

Anyway. Kids are up, the day is an empty slate, the floors need sweeping...and I am thinking about those stools...