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

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

the diary of my days....

These little electrodes are attractive, eh? I'm glad it's not summertime, I look like a science experiment, but at least when I leave the house I can cover them up.

And leaving the house is what I do best. This fine winter morning, 13 degrees (-10.5c), with widespread snow in the forecast, I am taking kids to dentist appointments. Since it is winter and driving in snow isn't my favorite, we are staying in the small city until the afternoon gymnastics class. I am not at loss for what we should do, because I need new slippers. Evelyn is so kind to let me wear hers while she is at school, but I need some. (My old ones disappeared, and I do suspect Little Miss Sunshine. Camille found her Totoro slipper in the yard...several different times).

So Walmart for new slippers. And a few new towels. Where do THOSE go? With the odd socks, probably.

And: We are going to Florida! Now, to those of you who maybe live there, or go there every year come heck or high water, it's no biggie. But I never ever went there while growing up, it's only been the last few years that we have gone, and it is HUGE. I don't like driving, but I'll do it, but I do love seeing new places, and the adventure of road trips. I like packing, and we get to see Grandma!!! These last few years we have just gotten along so peachily, and I really enjoy our time together. Sonja is trying to decide whether to miss a week of Real School to go with us, it's her choice, after all, it's her who has to make up work or get low grades. I hope she decides to go though! She's almost fifteen, the youngest of the five-girls-in-a-row, who are now 20, 18, 17, 15, and 14...(Suzanne will turn 16, then Sonja will turn 15 a few months later))...and she is a teenager among teenagers at home...but when she is with the younger kids, she seems to lighten up and have a really good time...she gets to be the oldest, instead of ha, #13! Margaret and Adrian are going with us too, which will be fun. Adrian has never been to Florida.

So I have to write down everything I do while wearing this heart monitor. I should have jotted down the exact time I found out we were actually able to make the Florida trip, as I'm sure my heart started going faster.

And this morning, while I cleaned up dog pee by the door (Miss Sunny doesn't always make it until morning, but at least she has chosen a spot near the door...:( ), I decided to just write, "cleaning up..."

Sunny IS cute.

Miss Char thought she would be cute in her sweatshirt. She kept it on for a few hours, didn't care.

Blogging is an interesting endeavor. It's soothing to me, it relaxes me to sit and write. I rarely proofread, I just write, and hit the Publish button. I don't blog to be braggy, but honestly, I do see my blessings more clearly when I write.

My dogs for example, look adorbs in pictures. In real life, they are even cuter. Suri is a snuggly cuddler, she loves being pet and hugged. The kids can do anything they want, and she doesn't care at all. Duke is chill, old and laid back, but when you even look at him, he thumps his tail. It's like he's old...can't run and play anymore, and all that's left is goodness. (sometimes I think it would be better if he just got mean and cranky...). And Sunny...she's always looking for a chance to devour a platter of cookies. Yesterday, I made those oatmeal chocolate chip cookies with Jonathan (and did not eat even one bite!), and Sunny ...she didn't jump up, but if we had left cookies within easy reach and left the room, she would have. She got a block of cheese the other day. She has calmed down a lot though, and is a sweet dog.

Have I mentioned how much travelling Paul is going to be doing? India for two weeks, home for a week, then Ireland for two weeks? blah. The only good thing, besides the fact that he actually has a job, is the frequent flier miles he will accumulate. We are thinking maybe...just maybe, a trip out to Seattle to visit Ben and Ashley and little Anya...:), if he gets lots of reward miles.

Okay...yesterday the nice man came to fix the furnace. He said it's days are numbered, too many things need replacing, it's 25 years old, and we just plain need a new one before next winter, but hopefully it will last a while. Well. This morning I woke up to brrrr. Then Paul called me and's not working. That's why it's so cold in here, duh! It did click on and run yesterday after Mr. D. came but then stopped again. So Paul is trying to figure out what to do...if we have it replaced now, it will take days to get it all lined up and installed, ect, and it's cold out! So he's opting to try and get the one part that he suspects is the fault...and see what happens...never a dull moment, I tell you. With money, it's like you put the paycheck into a colander, and watch it seep out the holes. We have enough of what we need, which I am very thankful for, but it's always something...:)

And...I have sat here for the longest possible time before I have to hurry and wake the kids and get them out the door....Jon always wonders why I don't start getting ready earlier...there is just no answer, Jon. No answer.

Monday, January 30, 2017

when it rains....

I SHOULD say, when it snows it blizzards, but that isn't really the case either. This morning we woke up to a snowglobe world, tree branches decorated, and yard sparkling. I drove to the small city for an appointment, and the roads weren't too bad. The plow hadn't been down the southbound lane, which I was driving in, but I managed. My appointment was at the cardiologist, where they outfitted me with a halter monitor. You won't even know it's there, they said. Just do your normal activities, they said. Um, they don't know who they're dealing with, I am Miss Princess And The Pea, and I DO know it's there. And the fun part is that I get to log all my relevant activities. If I unload groceries, write it down. If I walk the dog, write it down. Paul better know this means he is totally staying on his side of the bed, because I am NOT WRITING THAT DOWN.

Anyway. This blog being p.g. and all, that's enough of that.

Our furnace stopped working. It's 22 degrees out, and yay for the little fake fireplace. The furnace man is coming today, which means I am going to sit here for the longest possible time, then get up and panic clean. Of course I clean for the furnace man! The downstairs hallway needs vacuuming anyway. And I didn't sweep the floor this morning before leaving the house, which would be fine if we didn't have three slobby dogs. Do you know what stuffed animal guts look like? Pieces of white fluffy stuff, and little pellets, scattered all over the living room. The tuna fish can that Sunny stole from the counter. The empty dog food bag, which I let Sunny have after I emptied the food into the locking bin...I let her have it for a while because she thought there must be something in something that smells so good, she put her whole head in it and ran forward, trying to get whatever smelled so good. It was too funny to take it away from her. And now it's in the living room. Real classy.

Anyway, I am going to do a nice quick clean up before the furnace guy gets here.

And, the check engine light is on in the minivan again. The mechanic recommended using high octane fuel to see if it would clean up the catalytic converter. But it's stressful to drive with that little orange light on.

Tomorrow, dentist...then gymnastics. Wednesday, the breast cancer center for the tiny little lump. Friday, the stress test at the cardiologist. Then, I hope I am done for a while. I am pretty sure all our pre-tax insurance dollars will be all used up...

Tomorrow is my sister's surgery, she is having a double mastectomy done. Pray for her, she has an excellent attitude, but God hears those prayers, and many times through the years miracles have happened. My sister says that she doesn't want to feel sorry for herself, nor does she want to live a life in bondage to anxiety. So she is fighting against those things. It is a very real struggle, to lose a part of yourself, and my prayers for her are that she can be honest that it's challenging, then come to peace with it. And of course, that the cancer is only in that lump, and is gone forever!

The girls are playing with playdough. They dug out the gingerbread playdough I made last year, and have this really cool set I got on clearance, a baking set with cupcake holders. They are setting up a pretty bakery. Jonathan is reading, "The Lord Of Rings". So we need to get some school done today too.

I went to the grocery store after my appointment, because we really needed dog food. Suri is on low calorie food, so I had to get two 20 pound bags. We needed kitty litter, and paper towels, and toilet paper. My cart was almost full. I also got burger and cheese and veggies and yogurt and bacon and chips. Some people hate shopping, but I am not one of them. I like going by myself sometimes. Today, I bought chips because they were buy two, get three free, tortilla chips (I LOVE the lime ones!) and regular potato chips. They were 4.29 a bag, then there was a coupon that if you bought two bags of chips, you got a jar of salsa or cheese sauce for free. The sauce was on sale for $3.50, but they took $3.99 off with the coupon. So for a little more than eight dollars, five bags of chips and a jar of cheese sauce. I know not so healthy, not for me anyway. But they have snacks for lunches, and supplies for taco night.

Our overnight-at-the-hotel night was fantastic. It's good to laugh your head off once in a while, and we certainly did that. It's also important to know you aren't alone in your struggles, and to be able to talk with friends who aren't going to judge you. We ate too much junk, drank too much junk, and went in the heated pool, which felt great because some of us had worked at the basketball game earlier in the day, and eeks, it was tiring.

It's always good to get back home after an overnight, even when you walk in and the house is freezing and smells like fuel oil...Paul tried to fix it himself before calling someone, of course.

Jonathan suggested a batch of oatmeal chocolate chip coookies...I am inclining to think that's an ace of an idea, if only I can keep them out of my mouth. But first, panic cleaning!

Friday, January 27, 2017

afterthoughts and regrets...

I don't really believe in being politically correct, but I also don't like to trample anyone's feelings. And I don't want to be judgmental and critical. So I thought about what I wrote yesterday, and it may be true, but it doesn't mean that if anyone else lives their lives in any other way, I don't like them. I do love people, and sometimes it's clear that better choices would bring them more peace, but who am I?

This fine morning, I don't have much time to sit here and ruminate on the world's problems. I have a doctor's appointment. I have to do the stress test at the cardiologist. (it would be a true stress test if they played an individually tailored video, for me it would be the dogs fighting and raising holy "h" in the living room while I try to blog with a hot cup of coffee, the floors not yet swept, and the dryer buzzing, while kids asked me important questions, like, "are iceburgs made of salt water?")

I have this appointment because of that lovely trip to emergency room last fall, after taking the dreaded Ciprofloxin. My pounding heart! Skipping beats! They kept me overnight, then of course made me swear in blood that I would follow up with a cardio dr. Naturally, I decided I didn't need to...but at my nice little check-up with my nurse practitioner...she saw the hospital notes, and said I really need to do that. My daughter, Nurse Mirielle, already admonished me that I don't want to be labelled, "Non-compliant." ha. It's actually the most suitable title ever, for me, after "Procrastinator."

Anyway. I am caught in the medical world wind tunnel. Of course I hope I am declared fine and healthy, but then it does feel like more of a waste of money. A horrible diagnosis, no one wants, but at least it justifies the expenses, and I am really sort of kidding.

So my pumpkin spice coffee is waiting for me, as well as Miss Charlotte Claire, who has lots to talk about this morning...she's the first of the home schoolers awake, so she deserves some one on one...:)

Thursday, January 26, 2017

what's wrong with this picture????!!!

I like to read the news, to know what's going on in the world. But oh my goodness, things are so backwards sometimes. A lady had a baby, and her boyfriend, in secret complicity with the hospital staff, had the newborn dressed in a onsie that said, "Will you marry me?", and when the new mother opened the swaddling blanket, she was so surprised! Yahoo news! Is it just me, or is this a little out of order?

I am not being individually critical of anyone. I'm really not. But let's not just pretend it's all okay.

Abortion has been in the news lately too. Your tax dollars funding procedures you may or may not support...but have you ever actually looked at a Planned Parenthood site and read about the abortion procedure? It's started out by assuring the pregnant patient that it's perfectly normal to have one, 3 out of 10 women have one by the time they're 45. It actually said this on the random local site I looked at! The description of the whole procedure is too awful to write about here, but not once does it refer to the baby as a baby. If it's been 12 weeks since your last period, the procedure will go as follows...(gently suctioning..., ect...) Then to my horror,..."if it's been 16 or more weeks since your last period, then...." Seriously.

Lots of people have opinions about things. Women have rights, ect. But I told my little girls a little bit the other day, as we went on a walk, a rough outline of what abortion is. I spared them the gory details of course, but I felt I needed to teach them about it.

It is spoken of as, "a reproductive right."

Did you ever stop and think about how wonderful this world would be if there were no sin? If each and every person, when tempted to sin, endured that temptation, said NO, and was good instead? There would be no lying. No stealing. No assault, murder, or rape, no greed or evny, or corruption. If each and every person on the earth got a connection to God, and lived to please Him, the trickle down effect would be a peaceful earth.

Because the problems in this world are not because of laws...or lack of laws, or because of this country or that country.

I cannot change the world, obviously. I can't change anyone but myself. And I am working on that, one temptation at a time.

This fine day, I am heading out the door to babysit for a few of my brother's grandchildren, he has an appointment. Kathryn doesn't work today so she's staying here with Camille, who still has a fever. (Cam's doing better though, she made herself a whopping bowl of oatmeal, and at the whole thing.)

Yesterday, we mostly stayed home, except for walking home from the collision shop after dropping the van off, then walking up there to pick it up later...which was interesting. We brought Sunny the first time, she was fine...then Suri the next time, and she was not fine. As we got close to the highway, she started really pulling at the leash...then she actually pulled me so hard, I fell! Flat! I hit two knees, one hand, and my chin. Chin, right in the gravel. Yeah, I started crying. I'm a big girl, and big girls fall hard. Jonny was so concerned, I collected myself pretty fast and said I was fine. But all I wanted to do was hide in the bathroom and cry. Suri is not used to being around the traffic, I guess.

In the afternoon, I took Suzanne and Evelyn to the vision center for exams and new glasses. It was a different doctor, and he asked Suzanne if she was the youngest. No, she said, I am the twelfth. He didn't understand her at first. When he did, he looked at me, and said, "You have TWELVE CHILDREN?" Suzanne answered that no, she also has 4 younger siblings. He was floored. Asked if we were Amish. I could see him looking for my newly grown horns. It was rather embarrassing.

Anyway, Mali and little Lydia met us there, and we enjoyed their company. Lyd played at the little playground in the middle of the mall, she climbed up those steps and went down the slide, then got knocked over by another little girl at the bottom of the slide...she was broken hearted until the little girl hugged her and said she was sorry...Lydia liked the hug so much, she broke out in loud crying again when it ended, and the other girl rushed back over and hugged her again, making Lydia stop immediately and smile her cheesy little smile. It was adorable.

Anyway...time to get moving. Van trouble again, shop in town this time...engine light...rrr.

p.s. I just want to add that obviously this is my blog, and all opinions are my own, and in no way should reflect on anyone but me.:) (sometimes I just have to vent.)

Wednesday, January 25, 2017


The back yard...I went outside with the dogs this morning, and just soaked it in.

These two are crazy. They wrestle and fight and the house isn't big enough for them sometimes. Duke politely declines to play with them. He tolerates so much garbage from Sunny, then he does a little warning growl and snap once in a while, which Sunny totally respects. He actually hasn't had to do that in a long time, I guess, because Sunny mostly just licks his face and wags her tail and he doesn't care.

I walked four days in a row! And I am going to walk again in a few minutes, as our van has to go back up to the collision shop down the road for a few tweaks, and I am going to walk back home. I have backed off on sugar again, for the most part...I can make it through the whole day eating good nutritious food...then last night, I ate some chocolate. Not terrible much, but still. And I have a Cadbury Mint Crunch bar the girls brought me from South Africa. It's calling me, but I asked my girls last evening if they wanted any..."nah", they said. (It's beyond me how anyone could ever be so disinterested in chocolate, especially with mint crunch!). So I didn't crack into it, because then I would eat it all. So I will wait until I have some sharers.

Since Paul and a few of the older kids were gone last evening, I offered to bring home pizza for the other kids...who am I kidding, I relished the thought of not making dinner! So I picked up three Little Caesars pizzas, and an 8 pack of wings. I did not eat any pizza, but I did eat wings.

Right now I am sipping my pumpkin spice sweetener, just pumpkin flavored coffee. I made the pot after Paul went to work and Evelyn went out the door to school...there was a cup left from the coffee they had, and shh, I poured it down the drain when the pumpkin stuff was done.

Home school kids waking up...Camille is all stuffy...she doesn't feel well..

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

ahh, blogging....

I walked three days in a row! Yay me! It's hard to swallow...the being in bad shape...after years of huffing and puffing, then finally getting serious....getting results...then letting the fitness side just sort of sliiiiide. Getting back up that evil hill is serious business. It's a harsh reality of burning thighs and the old huffing. I brought the little girls with me a few times lately, and Cam is on fire to help me! She says when it's too slippery outside, we are going to get the mats out and work out!

I really wonder about how we're programmed as people. There are the No Excuses group...Paul is one of those. He is as busy as can be, but he works out and eats right. If I had a choice, I would choose this chair and to blog, or to read a book in my comfy bed. Or to sit on the deck in the sun. In the pool even, I would rather lounge about than swim. I have to MAKE myself do things. Laziness is just in my blood.

And here's some good news: my MRI came out fine, which is of course wonderful, but then why do I get the wonkiest symptoms...that come and go? I am thinking pinched nerve does kill me because an MRI is so expensive. Oh well.

This Friday I go to the cardiologist for a stress test...yay, I get to huff and puff on a treadmill in the dr.'s office!

This fine morning, I am heading to the dentist with Jonathan. Miss Char and Miss Cam scored a sleepover with at Emily, Abigail, and Mirielle's house last night. I will come back from the little city and pick them up, then go back to that city for gymnastics class. Paul and the older kids are working at the basketball game tonight at the Dome, but I am staying home with the rest of the kids...Evelyn, Suzanne, Sonja, Jon, Char, and Cam. I promised them a cozy evening.

I just had some quinoa for breakfast. I know it's high in carbs, so I measured carefully to make sure it was only one serving. I ate it with just a little bit of cream and no sweetener, and it was really good. It has a lot of protein in it.

This coming Saturday is one of our girls' hotel sleepover nights. They are the best! All of the moms there have lots of we don't run out of things to talk about. It's good for our hearts to be together, we don't gossip or backbite, but we encourage each other in our battles, and it's so nice to be with such good friends who aren't trying to one-up each other or be "right". We are getting old, I am the youngest of the group...

I so hate driving in the winter. And winter is back, here in central New York state...after some days of warmth, days of rain, the snow has brightened our windows again. The transition from rain to snow makes the roads slippery.

In the Never A Dull Moment scheme, our red minivan is back from the shop...the engine light thing fixed (a sensor causing not enough oxygen, or something like that). But something is still wrong with a different sensor, which was caused by the body repair shop, according to the auto shop in town. The little details in calls and appointments and things to straighten wonder we love our vacations.

Yesterday was an amazing day. We stayed home, except for our walk, and except for me driving to town to get the minivan. We did school, and the girls made slime with flour and dishwashing liquid. Camille is fascinated with making pulley systems from linking all the dog leashes, stringing them out the kitchen window down to the swingset in the back yard, and sending things down in a basket. They have been playing Barbies, reading library books (no tablets or movies or t.v. during the day!), and there are gym mats covering most of the living room floor. They do not get bored.

Our dinner was yummy last night. I cut the chicken breasts into big pieces, rolled them in flour, and browned them in olive oil...then added them to two cans of cream of chicken soup with extra water in it...and simmered it for almost an hour....the chicken came out so tender and yummy. Cam helped me peel five pounds of potatoes for mashies, and all of them got eaten. We had broccoli and corn too.

It was very chilly in the dining area, so we had our dinner in the living room....with the fake fire place going, and watching, Antiques Roadshow, Civil War Relics was nice. We like to shout out how much things are worth...not that we watch it very often, but it was a good episode with lots of history. One guy had an actual prosthetic arm from a great great grandfather, with a picture of him using it, and lots of letter was written and signed by Walt Whitman, who felt compassion for wounded soldiers who couldn't write to their loved ones...(that was assessed for like twenty grand).

Anyway. It's time to leave for our dentist appointment...

Saturday, January 21, 2017

sweet saturday....

Here's a random collection of thoughts from this fine Saturday day started way too early, thanks to our very own old man dog, Mr. Duke. He's getting rather crazy. He wakes during the night and does this little "ruff" thing...then again...more frequent, a little louder, until someone gets up and lets him outside. And for some strange reason, no one else in the family EVER hears him. He has done this several times this's hard for me to go back to sleep, and when I have to get up early, by the time I'm almost back to sleep, it's time to get up.

And, Mr. Duke is having trouble getting up our deck stairs. I feel very sorry for him, and I know I have been saying this for a long time, but his days are very numbered. For his own sake, he is going over that rainbow bridge one of these days, wah.

We are having a warm day here in central New York state. It hit fifty degrees today! I went for a walk with Char and Cam, 1.7 miles.

We went down the road and saw the horses, the cows, and the alpacas.

Some of the kids are here and there, but Char and Cam are making a pulley system out the back window to the swingset. I asked what they were doing, they said, "nothing!".

Paul was out in the garden, and now is running sprints. He's going to the symphony tonight with Emily and a few friends. So maybe I will do something fun with those who are still home. "Something Fun" is a concept that was much easier when they were all little, and McDonald's playland was a blast. The carousel at the mall was Something Fun. Now Something Fun inevitably costs me a lot of money.

I talked to Samuel today! He had an interesting time at the Inauguration. He was in front of the capital building, seating people. Mostly, though, they stood at attention and watched, just to be there. He hadn't felt well, but he survived, and said he was thankful for our prayers for him. He does not like crowds, and well...that was a crowd!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

a horrible nightmare of a dream....

I get to tell you my dream, but you don't have to read it. You know, when you start telling someone your dream, and they're like feigning death, not wanting the boring I'll try to keep it short...the other night, I had a dream...

...that Paul surprised me with kitchen renovations! I walked into my kitchen, in my dream, and there was a gorgeous new sink with a swanky tall faucet, but...the counter tops...oh dear, they were hideous! Green plastic-y with with white swirls, hunter green. I mean ugly, and if you happen to have these in your home at this very minute, I do apologize. But these were ugly. Then I looked at Paul, in my dream, and he was so proud of himself. He had installed it all, and surprised me, and was waiting for me to jump up and I did. (not a total body jump, I can't do that, even in dreams) I lied in my dream. I told him I loved it.

Anyway. I'm now a bit thankful for my 80's looking blue counter tops with the oak edging.

And here's a real life nightmare: I had an MRI this morning. If you are ever scheduled to have one, run in the other direction and do not stop. I am not just being a drama queen, it was horrible. I did not realize how claustrophobic I am. You have to lie flat on your back and have a mask thing over your face, then slide into the tube and hold very still...mine was 40 minutes long. I was offered a choice of music, piped in through big ugly headphones, so I classic rock it was. Mistake! "come on baby light my fire....", over and over again when it's background music is one thing, but when you're lying there listening to it in a stifling tube...ugh. The next few songs were not much better. I found myself close to panic a few times, I tried the Pretend I'm On The Beach trick, and the walking through summery grass...but it was just awful. I have had CT scans before, and they weren't so bad, but this one...ugh.

While lying there, I thought of patients in the hospital who had to just lie on their backs, especially one guy Em had, who had some sort of accident which paralyzed him from between the neck and waist....he couldn't feel himself breath, so he was consistently panicked.

Hopefully nothing is found, hopefully it's just a huge waste of time and money, ha.

I was all by myself, early in the morning, most places still closed, so I went to Walmart...they have decent pizza dough for a dollar, and the weekend is coming up...I browsed around, just enjoying myself...I got the little girls each a clearanced top, and a few wood things to paint, for art class.

Home...ah, home. I had only had coffee on the way there, so now I am having my Ezekial raisin toast, and a nice 'nother cup of coffee. Margaret is here working, the kids are reading in bed...we went to the library yesterday, so we're all stocked up again.

Emily and Mirielle came over yesterday afternoon laden with candy from South Africa, and some Kenyan coffee.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

when I became mommy....

This is my daughter Emily Anne, and me, when she had her White Coat ceremony last month. Today is her birthday. She is um...32. 32. How can I possibly have a daughter who is 32?

With Abigail, my second oldest, and little Linnea.

Working at the Ampitheater with Emily...

In Norway last year....

When Emily was born, I was nineteen years old. It's so cliche' to say how smitten I was, how in love with her. That's what moms do. But when Em was born, I was sleeping. She was transverse, and thankfully we had this old school doctor who still went out on a limb and used forceps. I had to sign all the paperwork for a c-section just in case his plan didn't work, to do "mid-forceps", turn her and pull her out. I will spare the gory details, but the doctor's plan worked. I woke up to Paul crying. I had no idea where I was or what was going on. He said, "We have a girl! A girl first!" And I said, "What do you mean, "first"? I looked at my hands, they were black from the fingerprinting, and I was so freaked out...then he handed me a bundle...with a face sticking out...and yeah, I fell hard...right into love with Emily.

Growing up in a family like ours hasn't always been easy for a girl like Em. She is a reader, and she had to be creative to sneak away and find alone time. She was fun and adventurous, and the younger kids depended on her for outings, games, fun meals...she could give baths and showers and put kids to bed. I tried really hard not to depend too much on any one of the older kids, so they could have their own lives too...

One of my favorite things is when I get the chance to have a day with Em. Once we went to Seattle together...she's so calm cool and collected, didn't get ruffled even when we spent $$$ on the wrong train tickets.

The kids are waiting for me to take them to the I can't concentrate. But I will say this: I am super thankful for Emily.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

rainy, chilly, dark, cold, wet, and....cozy!

It's a day not fit for man nor beast, with the rain pouring down, temperatures hovering around freezing. The day was dark, the skies gray, damp and chilly. I'm home now, home from the grocery store and the kids' gymnastics class...time to make dinner, but first, a rest with my feet up, the fake fireplace cranking out some heat...

It is time to make dinner, we're having taco salad. It is time to get out of my comfy chair and start that.

We went to the zoo yesterday!

These three were in the back seat...Miss Camille, cousin Davian, and Miss Charlotte Claire.

Little granddaughter Lydia was there with Mali....

Lydia was happy there at the zoo. She liked the monkeys, because she loves Curious George. She also liked being able to walk around. It was a nice day outside, not warm or anything, but hey, it was above freezing!

The dogs are all sleeping, the girls are doing homework, Margaret is here working, it is quiet...but it's time to make dinner....

Saturday, January 14, 2017

where have I been, where am I going...

In the last few years, I have been to...


Seattle, Washington
Washington, D.C.

Drove to California, so visited several states
Washington D.C.
Norway, with a day in London
California again
Washington D.C. again

This year doesn't look as promising, but we are most likely driving to Florida next month. Paul is going to India, then to Ireland. I told him he could take me to Ireland if he wants. He DOES want, but it ain't happening. I just hope he travels a lot so he can accumulate frequent flyer miles.

I also really want to go to D.C. again for a weekend with Samuel before he gets out of the Army, which will be happening by May. Sam is good at being in the Old Guard, and could definitely re-enlist, but thankfully he isn't. I am proud of him, he looks so spiffy in his uniform, but he misses home, friends, family, and is ready to go to college.

Evelyn and I are going on an adventure today...thrift store hopping. I am looking for an old dresser to chalk paint/re-do, for over near the door. Evelyn loves to browse and linger, dawdle, and explore, so she's the perfect companion for this.

Friday, January 13, 2017

all the days and the elusive skinny me....

The tricky part of writing a blog is realizing that people actually read it. For example, if you knew your husband was a reader, you would want to only write nice things about him, and hopefully you would anyway. If you knew your grocery store cashiers read it, you wouldn't want to vent how witchily you were treated when you asked that your bread not be under the canned tomatoes. If you knew your kids' teachers read it, you would maybe tread lightly on how little you care if they miss school. Thinking about the readers, about the audience, whom you are writing for can paralyze the I try really hard to just write, and not think about offending anyone. This also has to be done without jeopardizing anyone's personal privacy, after all, my life is intertwined with so many other lives, and while I may have a daily story to tell, it isn't always mine to tell...

Our minivan is up at the collision shop for repairs. The other minivan needs a few new tires, so Jonathan and I are heading to Walmart today to do that before more snow hits. Jon made all the tire phone calls yesterday. He had to go out to the van and get the tire number/size, then call around to find out prices and see who had them in stock. He's getting a well-rounded education.

The little girls haven't been out much so I will take them out and about too, we sometimes do our schoolwork in the afternoon.

Here are some random thoughts about losing weight....

1. There is a deceitful voice in my head that tells me that I will be extremely happy when I finally get thin. (I know this isn't true, because I was thin when I was young, and that same voice told me I wasn't thin enough)(This voice also tells me I would be completely and totally happy if I lived in one of those really nice houses with granite countertops, ha)

2. I have eased away from eating sugar again, and I feel much better, but the pounds haven't melted off. Okay, so it's only been since this past Monday. And during the week last week, until the weekend. See the pattern? I have to behave this weekend, or all the hard work during the week is lost.

3. I have maintained a large weight loss for almost six years now. This is hard work, even though I am not skinny, I have managed to not regain it all. At the doctor's office, I was officially sixty pounds less than 6 years ago. (their scale is higher than mine at home of course). This could be better, I have gained some back, have been holding steady here for months upon months, losing a little, gaining it, losing it again. It's hard work, and I am not even getting thin.

4. But. I am not going to give up. I am trying extra hard to avoid sugar and those pesky fast burning carbohydrates.

5. I "knew" a woman who lost like a hundred fifty pounds. She was a local woman, wrote a column in the newspaper. She suffered, she worked so hard, she walked every day, she gave up donuts, she bared her soul in that column, and the words she wrote so honestly really resonated with me...I mean, who could admit that she couldn't even buy boxes of 100 calorie snacks because she would eat the entire box? This woman was realistic, and she was very successful. She lost all that weight...then she died anyway. For a long time, I wondered why she stopped writing...then I googled her name, and there it was, in the obituaries. Now I am not stupid, I know everyone dies. But she wasn't very old, she didn't have weight loss surgery, she lost her weight the old fashioned way. I was just disappointed and sad that she suffered so thin...and died within a few years. You would think she guaranteed herself some extra years, and would be able to enjoy her new thin body for a bit. Even though I didn't take the plunge and actually start my weight loss journey when I was reading her columns, I took what she said to heart...

Kids are up now. I talked to Benjamin, my son from Washington state, on the phone for a while, then the kids got up, so it's no longer the quiet morning house...bye!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

vacation! and messes and real life....

Real life: dogs poop. They SHOULD do it on the edge of the yard, in the woods. So sometimes someone has to go out in the yard and do some raking and shoveling. And, those same dogs should never ever get into the garbage. But they do. So someone has to go out and pick it up.

The car insurance estimate adjuster guy called me as I was raking this morning, said he was on his way, several hours earlier than I had expected. Now, it's not like I had to dress up for the queen, but still...I thought I would change out of Jonathan's huge boots, take off my work gloves and wash my hands.

So...vacation: we are most likely going to Florida! We have gone a few times in the last few years, but this does not diminish the absolute excitement of the whole thing! Even the car ride, as long as it is (about 20 hours), is an adventure, driving through the states, maybe stopping into Walmart in South Carolina just to hear their accents...breakfast in Georgia, the same. We like to stop for the night on the Georgia coast, the ocean there is beautiful. Paul cannot go on this trip because he has so many things going on at work right now, and we are laving when he is leaving for India.

Anyway, yay!!!

Sunshine and warm air...ahhh.

Emily and Mirielle are having a good time in South Africa. They went to the Indian Ocean...

We need to go to the library soon. Today, the twins are visiting...they are five years old now, and so adorable. They love the puppies and the cats. They wanted to go outside, but it's so muddy out there, they have played dollhouse and Star Wars and are coloring now. Miss Lydia is coming over later, and Margaret is here working.

We're bringing the minivan up to the repair shop, too. I can say this, I never get the chance to be bored.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

morning thoughts...

It should be a cozy quiet should be. But one Little Miss Sunshine has her own evil plans. There is a garbage can turned over outside, with the bag that was in it all shredded up, trash littered all over the icy snow. I went out there this morning wearing Jonathan's boots (they're huge, and easy to slip on quickly) to see why Sunny didn't come right back in with Suri and Duke. Well, because she was having a little party! First of all, you must know this: here in central New York state, we had freezing rain yesterday afternoon. Lots of it. Our little world is covered in a sheet of ice. The cars are glazed, and the yard is like a skating rink. So for me to navigate the deck steps then waddle across the yard in those huge boots...I had my arms out for balance, like I was walking on the was so slippery! I picked up the main garbage, but I was sliding everywhere, and hey, if I go down, it would be you know...the bigger you are the harder you fall.

So I left some of it out there, decorating the side yard. That just about screams that we'll have unexpected company today.

Tomorrow, the insurance adjuster is coming to check out the minivan.

And today, Margaret is coming over to work from home from here, because she doesn't have internet yet at her new apartment. (yay!)(I miss her!)

But for right now, I am the only one up besides the doggies.

We are going to gymnastics this afternoon. It's supposed to warm up, the ice will melt, the yard will get soggy, and I will have to wipe 12 paws each time these guys come back into the house. But I shouldn't look at it that way...I get to wipe paws as they excitedly wag and greet me and try to lick my face and beg for treats (they always get a treat when they come inside). It's really not that bad.

As I was telling Terre, I have been had a multitude of excuses run through my head regarding the medical tests I am supposed to have. Excuse why I don't need them, which leads me to two I afraid of what will be found, or of what WON'T be found? Hearing the words, "You're found, the tests are all clear!", is what I want! Of course! Of course of course of course! I don't want anything to be wrong! But there is a tiny part of me, the pride part, that feels like if there's nothing wrong, it's a huge waste of time and money. And I won't even get into the money part, our insurance is awful. But my mother always said, "A lady doesn't talk about money", ha. Not really.

I do miss my mother these days. I wish I had asked her more questions. When you're young, you just think the world is a stable place, a place where people will always remain. You don't imagine that one day you realize that you won't be able to talk to your mom or dad ever again in your entire life. You can't possibly imagine a world where uncles and aunts and cousins and friends have died.

From my teenage perspective, back in the tenth grade, when my mother was battling breast cancer, yes, I worried. She had an invasive cancer that was in the lymph nodes, and back then, the mastectomy surgery was very radical. She lost muscle in her upper arms, and could barley brush her own hair...wait, she lost her hair. She was sick from the chemo, but back then, there wasn't Zofran. The chemo itself was harsher, less "refined". I worried she would die. I went with her sometimes to her doctor's appointments. She was always fun, didn't complain. I think she figured that if she didn't have much time left, she would make the most of it. I didn't even realize how much she must have been suffering, because she really didn't let on.

She lived another 25 years, but had a heart attack, and then kidney failure, nine years on dialysis.

I wish I had comforted her more, taken care of her more. During those years, I was having babies and was busy, she died when Miss Charlotte Claire was newborn. Oh, when Char was born, I brought her over to see my parents when she was only like three days old because my mother wasn't well enough to go to the hospital, and my dad had leukemia. My mother held her and was so thrilled to meet her. I'm glad I did that. It's a good memory. My poor mother. Her heart wasn't tolerating the dialysis so well at that point. They would have to stop it half way, and sometimes she ended up going to the hospital in an ambulance because of heart issues...she knew her days were numbered, so after that one last time of ending up in the E.R. from dialysis, she decided to just discontinue. That meant a matter of days were left to her. She was firm in her decision, wasn't afraid to die, she said. She didn't really have much choice, other than to try to continue those three times a week dialysis sessions, and hope she didn't have a stroke or heart attack in the chair. That is rather discouraged, ha. So she stayed in the hospital when they brought her in that last Friday...she checked right into the palliative care floor, and that was it. She lived until Thursday morning. And that week is a whole 'nother story, sad but also very uplifting. You can really see the character of a person when the trials are serious, and she just shined. She seemed genuinely glad to be ending her suffering, and just lit up that she was, "going to be with Jesus!"

Anyway. I miss her so much. She was a calming presence, a voice of reason, and also so much fun.

Paul has bone broth in the crock pot. I do not like the smell of it, but he thinks it smells great. It simmers there for days, steeping the I have a pan of water with cinnamon bubbling on the stove to try to cover it up. The kids are going to wake up and think we're having cinnamon rolls.

Last night, I made rosemary chicken breast strips, and a huge salad. It's nice to put all the salad toppings in bowls so we can take what we like. There was also fresh Italian bread...I took the tiny little heal piece, and had to slap my own hands to stop from reaching for more, it was so good. I love bread! Just love it! But it doesn't love me.

I also made homemade keto crackers's the recipe, which I stole from

1 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese ( substituted some of this with cheddar cheese)
3/4 cup almond flour
2 tablespoons of cream cheese

microwave this for a little bit at a time, stir, get it melted just a tiny bit.
put into kitchen aid and mix it up with the dough hook (I have mixed it by hand too, it's possible). Add an egg. Mix more.

Add seasonings! I added crushed red pepper, garlic, onion powder, salt, pepper, rosemary...

Roll it out between two pieces of parchment paper, then put on baking sheet...remove top paper. Bake until brown on edges, put paper back on top, flip over, remove top sheet again, and bake a bit more...I sliced it up into cracker sized pieces before baking the second time, with a pizza wheel.

They are so good!

This is the same recipe as I use for pizza dough...and bye, Margaret is here.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

a fender bender, some freezing rain, and dr. appointments...

It's so cool outside right now! The freezing rain made an ice topping on the snow, the cars are covered in ice...I made some kids get dressed and come out with me...Sonja lasted five minutes and was chilled, but Jonathan and Camille are still out there. They are going down the slide on the swingset on their sleds...

Sunny, just because...

And, my poor minivan! Paul took her to work yesterday, and a guy going the opposite direction slid into him. No one was hurt, but my poor minivan.

I am in love with another vehicle today anyway, Emily is in South Africa, and let Kathryn use her car...a nice orange Subaru Crosstrek...I drove it to the small city today, and felt like Marge in her Canyonero...(Simpsons? Anyone?).

Anyway, I had a dr. appointment today, which begets more dr. appointments. Everything was okay, my blood pressure is dandy (120/78), my weight was excellent. Just kidding on that one. The reason I went in was because when I had that second sonogram on the tiny little breast lump, the radiologist recommended I see a specialist just to rule anything out, as in his report to my primary care doctor. So what was I going to say, "Nah, I don't want to go."? Then I told dr. about these dizzy/numb episodes I have had, she thought they were on par with migraines, but then we have to rule out neurological events, like those pesky little TIAs, which are mini-strokes. Or MS. I don't really think I have those things, but. And...there was the time a few months back when I went to the hospital for those horrible palpitations while taking Ciprofloxin. The report said to follow up with a cardiologist, because of an elevated something that could indicate a blood many things to rule out. I sat there deciding...trying to discern if I REALLY have to go to all these specialists when I am obviously well and healthy. The breast lump...well, with my sister's latest antics, and my late mother's bout with breast cancer...well, I really should get things checked out. The Neurologist...I don't know. The cardiologist? blah.

So that's what my day was like...the kids were really good and did all the school assignments I left for them, so I made them cinnamon buns when I got home. Then I made a double batch of keto crackers...

Right now I'm sipping my coffee and listening to the wind roar. It's cozy in here. Girls are doing homework, the kids are all back in from playing outside.

Monday, January 9, 2017

oh it's good to be back home again....

The weekend in Connecticut was too much fun. Here was our little stop on the way home for ice cream, with our friend Page, and my nieces Audrey and Susan...the ice cream, which I know you want to know about, is made fresh at this little shop, from the cream from the cows from the dairy farm down the road. The waffle cones are also made fresh, so upon entering the shop, one is assaulted with the aroma, the quaintness...and then, how to choose a flavor? I opted for pumpkin, and vanilla, which was like a huge slice of cold pumpkin pie with whipped cream, only the whipped cream was fresh vanilla ice cream. Sounds like what dreams are made of, right?

This stop was only the cherry on top of the huge sundae that was our weekend. It's not possible for me to put into words how good and precious it is to be with my friends. We stayed with Elise and Mark, and their five little kids...and I remembered how it was to have lots of little children...they are busy but oh my goodness so sweet.

We went to a writers'/photography workshop.

I came home refreshed, and ready to take life seriously. These countless little trials aren't sent as punishment, or even to frustrate me, but so that I can get oil in my lamp. Life is meant to be good and warm and fun and hopeful, and this is indeed how it is when one gets victory over sin in each temptation.

Returning home after being gone, wow. Who went where and did what? Abigail had Char and Cam overnight both nights, she took them to the gymnastics place for open gym night, took them to the thrift store and actually let them buy high heels, let them make breakfast...

Paul and Jonathan went ice fishing...

I was really hoping the filleting and cooking would take place while I was still gone, but Paul was doing that last evening after I got home. I am not a fan of fish, but he cooked some up and it didn't stink up the house. He said it was really good, and brave Sonja K. agreed with him.

One of the fun things about traveling is looking at nice houses. In Connecticut, the lovely homes are white, big, old, and have red doors, and candles in all the windows.

And's time for school!

Friday, January 6, 2017

bad bad doggies....

Evelyn with Miss Sunny...Sunny looks so sweet and innocent...

Duke....our old man dog.

And Suri, four years old.

Why are they so bad, you might ask? Well...they got into lots of things last night. They left behind evidence of their big pig-out party...they ate an 8 pack of hamburger buns that I bought yesterday to have burgers/sloppy Joes tonight. They ate two 10 packs of those big soft cookies. They ate a six pack of fresh baked blueberry muffins. They finished off the huge package of pizzelle, there were at least forty cookies in two plastic packages inside of the plastic container...they knocked down the girls' Halloween candy, and ate ALL the Skittles (thankfully my kids don't leave chocolate around for too long). There were wrappers, packages, and cookie crumbs all over the floors.

I asked them who did it, and they just wagged. It's a good thing they are cute. So much for Suri's diet. She eats special low calorie dog food.

I painted my laundry room door. I do not like it. I painted the old pine trim with white enamel, like the window trim. It's fun to do little projects like that, but I don't like how it turned out, but maybe because it's just so different...

Have I mentioned that I am going away for the weekend...without any of my kids? Yes I am. I am going for an Active Christianity workshop in Connecticut. (if you want to read some excellent articles, go to Active I am going with a few of my nieces, and some friends. I feel like it's out of my comfort zone, but I love to write, and even more, I love anything that will help others deal with life's situations. God is good. He never ever gives us more than we can bear.

So my sister has to have surgery soon, it's still getting sorted out. She has decisions to make, and treatment plans to choose, but honestly, she's taking it all quite well. Our mother was a breast cancer survivor (she lived for 25 years after having a double mastectomy, cancer in her lymph-nodes too) (she also survived a heart attack, triple bypass surgery, and lived for 9 years on kidney dialysis, three days a week). But my sister...she's facing a long road. She has seven daughters, five are married and one is engaged and getting married in May. She has 10 going on 11 grandchildren. So not beating this thing is not an option! We need her! Keep her in your prayers, please!

It's sunny and 18 degrees (-7.7), brrr. The sun is shining on the snow...

Thursday, January 5, 2017

and the days passed...

Yesterday was a day of fun and adventure. Miss Char was co-pilot, with Camille and Jonathan in the back. Our first stop was a visit to the dentist. They had flouride treatments, and will go back in a few weeks for sealants, and one to have a filling done.

We went to the thrift store for 50% off Wednesday. Char was feeling sick to her stomach from the fluoride treatment, said she really felt like she was going to be sick, and the thrift store "smelled funny", and it really does. So we left.

She said she felt okay enough to go to Wegmans, which was good because we needed milk and and and. I let them pick out a small amount of candy from the bulk food, and they helped me with meal plans. They got to pick out a box of cereal...which we generally stay away from these days, trying to eat eggs or homemade breakfasts like French toast or pancakes...but sometimes they like their cereal. Cam chose the store brand shredded wheat bites with blueberry...yum.

They were really happy in the grocery big kids talking to mom, getting all of my attention, and ha, picking out candy.

We headed to Moe's next, for an early lunch...

Camille and Charlotte Claire, looking sweet.

After lunch, Lowe's!...big box home improvement store, and fun!!! I try to avoid this place, it makes me want to do renovations. The kids LOVE it. They want to go down every aisle, open every shower door, try out all the faucets, open every oven. They dance and sing and exclaim over the refrigerators with the double drawers (one had a HOT water dispenser!). They picked out color sample chips for countertops (I let them each take ONE). And paint...oh they love the paint sample cards! We couldn't decide on a color for the cabinets, but I did chose a gray to paint the laundry room door. We picked out small rollers and some drop cloths, and a can of stainless steel spray, and headed to gymnastics...

It was such a good day. When we got home, Paul had already left to work at the basketball game, with Joseph, Kathryn, and Evelyn, so only Suzanne and Sonja were home...I got to work making us a nice dinner...chicken, rice with cilantro, and broccoli. The kids did some school work, then Lydia came over for the evening, and amused us by learning how to say, "poop". She's a busy little girl, but oh so funny and sweet.

And today..another day, by the grace of God. What shall we do? Library? hmm.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

beginning anew...

But first of all, can I just vent? Coffee everywhere this fine January morning! It flew! The three high school girls went outside to wait for the bus, the doggies thought they were strangers out at the curb, so they started to bark. I called them over to me to shush them, and give them a treat...when I reached for the cracker I had here on my table for just such a doggie emergency, I hit my nice full cup of hot yummy coffee...hit it hard. Coffee down the wall, pooling on the floor, dripping into a bag of new clothes from Forever 21 which I had procured from the dreaded mall for the little girls, which was still on the floor next to my on my chair, on the table, under the table. At least it smells good, but ugh.

It was the last cup of the pot, so I started a new pot.

The younger kids are still sleeping, and I would like to join them. My eyes feel sandy. I woke up at 5:50, thinking it was 6:50 and I had to hurry. oops. I know my bed is warm and comfy, but I PROMISED the kids I would take them to the pool this morning. I promised on purpose because I knew my lazy body would balk, and it's cold out, and it's early, and we'll go a different day. But promising Camille: I can't back out.

So I am gearing up to get out the door by sitting here.

Yesterday Jonathan and I headed up to visit Margaret and Adrian in their new apartment. We admired all of their cool new stuff (it is very warm and cozy), then explored the little city where they live. First the thrift store, then out to a place near the river. I brought Samuel there the day before he left for Army basic training. It's the city's old City Hall, wood floors and lots of brick. We then went to a discount outlet store with lots of random odds and ends, plus 75% off their Christmas stuff. I bought some solar lights for next year, an 8 pack for $2.50.

Home...I was not hungry for dinner, but I did have some miniature York Peppermint bites...they were $3.49 for a 24 ounce bag. No more for me, no more. Then Joseph made an excellent keto pizza (crust made with mozzarella cheese and almond flour), and I warmed up leftover pasta and sauce for the younger kids. It was a crazy kind of day, with kids going different places, no schedule...

I started cleaning the cabinets in the kitchen, to prepare for the painting project. It's a huge scary project for me. We have to live here and eat here, the ten of us, while this happens. The doors SHOULD come off, but where on earth would I put them all? With three dogs in the house, and two kitties...I can't imagine they wouldn't wreak havoc on freshly painted doors lying on the tables and benches. So I am leaning towards leaving the doors on. But. We are removing the handles/pulls first, so I can properly clean them, so...I'm not sure how we are supposed to open and close the cupboards while they are being painted...maybe I'll take out everything we could possibly need for the next few weeks and stack it on the tables...ugh.

The cupboards need intense cleaning before painting, I started last night. I didn't have cleaning gloves so I put a quart sized baggie on my hand to handle the strong cleanser (TSP). It didn't work because it dripped, my hands got irritate quickly. So, I have to get some gloves.

And, it's going to be a lot of work.

Because after they're clean comes the primer, two or three coats I am thinking. And I still haven't decided between chalk paint and regular cabinet enamel paint...then either wax finish or polyurethane.

Before I even start this, I am going to clean out the cabinets, get rid of extra dishes, old sippy cups, those Disney plates, odd mugs and cups.

And when this project is done...I will paint the countertops...then the tile behind the stove.

I can't decide yet what color to paint them...I am thinking a creamy old-fashioned white, but it might clash with the stark white of the new windows and trim. Or gray...will they look dated in just a few years? I just don't know. I am horrible at making decisions.

The countertops...ugh, blue...and wood trimmed. I want to try to paint them, wood and all. I have watched countless transformation videos, and read different will also be tricky to pull off, living here and eating and feeding the family while keeping things off the counters.

And it's a new year, so of course I want to get in better shape, along with the rest of America!

The fresh coffee is done, oh yummers. The fake fireplace is humming and throwing heat, with it's fake flames dancing so convincingly. The day is dawning but is overcast and chilly, snow is still covering the ground. It's a good day to stay home and get things done, or just stay here in my chair under this warm fleecy blanket. See, it's good I promised Camille!

Cam has dealt with some disappointments lately. There was a big ice skating outing planned for Friday night, but then snow interfered. Lake effect snow, almost zero visibility...they got almost to the city but turned around and headed home. Cam cried, the other kids didn't cry but were bummed out. We had made five carafes of cocoa, and two of hot coffee!

It was a fun evening anyway, with extra kids landing here too, but still.

Emily took the younger kids ice skating a few weeks ago, and when they arrived at the rink, the hours had changed because of a hockey they didn't get to skate.

Then there was the cross country ski trip Emily planned, then we decided Camille wouldn't be able to last very long so she had to stay home with me.

But, Emily DID take them to the Star Wars movie and to Panera Bread the other day.

Today, Emily and Mirielle are leaving for their trip to South Africa! It seemed so long ago when they decided to go, but here it is, January of 2017.

Anyway. A new year starts, full of optimism. We have lots of schooling to do, field trips to take, projects to do. Samuel gets out of the Army this year. We hope to take a weekend to visit him soon. In March, Abigail and Jonathan are going on a cruise with Grandma. We took Jon to apply for his passport right before Christmas, what fun!

Sunny is being bad, or rather, is getting bored. She's finding things to chew on, she wants to play fetch and run around...she doesn't want me to be lazy this fine lazy morning...