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, February 28, 2017

and what will tuesday bring?

Messy hair don't care. Ha, I've always wanted to say that, but hey, I'm old, and I look like an idiot saying these trendy things.

The handsome young guy on the right is my son Samuel.

Little Miss Sunshine...she has had a bath almost every day this past week. Running through the creek is her favorite.

Trying to get these three to sit still for a picture...

Sunny smiled for this one, but Suri closed her eyes...and Duke, oh's what he did yesterday: he went outside with the kids, and Suri and Sunny...they romped through the creek...but where the creek is deep and muddy, he got stuck. The kids couldn't get him out, so Paul, who was working from home, had to go rescue him. Poor Duke was standing in cold water shoulder deep, and was scared. He was so shaken up, and then he had to have a bath. After a huge drink of water, that dog slept the afternoon away. Suri and Sunny also had to have baths. It's like having little kids. (The kids had to shower too, but they can now do that on their own.)

Anyway. Here's something I like to do: find pitchers or vases at the thrift store and paint them with chalk paint.

The one on the left was navy blue, the big pitcher was 80's blue, and the little one was bright green. I didn't paint the one on the right, I like it as is.

So yesterday after the dentist, Jon and I went to the store for vitamin D, salad stuff, and the makings for lasagna. We also stopped at the dollar store and got some snacks, then BigLots for dog treats and a new toy for Sunny. We got a coffee from my favorite little coffee shack (Jon got an iced coffee), then stopped at the bank, and ahh, home.

Jonathan worked on his mid-year test, which he aced. The little girls showed me the work they did while I was gone, and I let them go outside to play. Jon and I took an after dinner walk last evening, and it was lovely. This warm weather is a treat in February.

So this fine morning, we have plans: The girls have to do their tests, and we are making that lasagna. Then, gymnastics. Mali is coming over with little Lydia, I have missed them. They went to Colorado for vacation, and I haven't seen them in a few weeks. Emily is coming over too.

There is no end to things to do around here, but I am thankful for the times I can sit here and write, and get my thoughts straight.

As for Duke...obviously I don't feel 100% ready to put him down, or I would have done it already. I look at him and I want him to live forever. He's a sweetheart. But he does struggle. He wouldn't get up and eat his dinner again last night, we tried to get him to eat from the couch and he wasn't interested. He does this more and more. He can still get on the couch but it takes him forever. Last night he got off the couch to go outside, and he fell. He was struggling to find his feet, and he just collapsed. He limps and struggles and it's painful for my heart. He is also getting snappy. He is the kindest soul, and has no agression, but Margaret and Adrian got a new puppy...a very calm and sweet puppy, but Duke wants nothing to do with her. I do respect that, he's old, and this is his house. But he was pretty snappy and growly about it, and ugh, with small children around, it's scary to see this side of him. I don't think he would actually attack, I think he's just protecting himself and giving a warning, but what if Lydia fell on him? We just have to keep an eye on him and make sure she keeps her distance. The other Labs are extremely easy going as far as kids go. We maul them and hug them and bug them and they are just unfazed.

Anyway. He does wake us up at night too, and that in itself isn't the end of the world. It feels like it when it's warm enough for them to get muddy and I am standing there at three a.m. wiping 12 paws, because if Duke barks to go out, the other two are all over it too.

What I worry about with Duke is him falling down the stairs. This house has stairs, there's no way around it. He struggles so much, and his doggy arthritis meds don't seem to help much.

So one of these days. It's not like, "Oh I'm tired of Duke and all of his barking, I think I'll get rid of him." It's more like I don't like seeing him suffer, and if I can put him down before he falls and breaks something or before he has to hurt too much, I will. But to be honest, the barking during the night is wearing on me. And not just me, the teenagers who have to get up and go to school in the morning.

Jonathan told me yesterday to just pray about it and I would find the right answer. I just about dissolved in tears, my 12 year old son has some true wisdom.

And...time to get moving. :)

Monday, February 27, 2017

making monday morning magnificent....

We were there looking for hula hoops for their Harry Potter party, to play Quidditch. Would these work?

Anyway. This fine morning I have to bring Jonathan to the dentist, stop at the bank, and the grocery store for dog biscuits and coffee. Paul is working from home and is going to help the little girls with school.

Last night we had lots of people around the table for dinner...Emily, Abigail, Mirielle, Margaret and Adrian joined us for pot roast and rosemary potatoes, carrots, and green beans, with pumpkin bread for dessert. We started a 1000 piece puzzle after dinner, but put it away after a while. It was fun to puzzle and talk though.

I need to brush my clean wet hair, change my clothes, make some Ezekial toast, and get Jonathan moving. It's a sunny winter day, no rain, no snow, but chilly...I'll take it.


Saturday, February 25, 2017

free? really?

I love me some free stuff. Who doesn't? But I am not getting all rah-rahed about free college. In New York state, it's buzzing around the politicians.

Here's why I don't think it's brilliant:

1. It's not really "free". Someone has to pay for it. And just for example, why should Paul, who spent years paying off his own college loans, have "free" college taken out of his hard earned money in taxes?

2. Having things that are available to those under certain income levels seems to take away incentive to make more money, work more hours or days, because then benefits are lost. Can you imagine turning down promotions or full time work so you can continue to qualify for free or lower tuition, for yourself or your kids?

3. Samuel joined the Army, with the knowledge that he would be eligible for the G.I. Bill, the pot of gold at the end of the military service rainbow. One time he figured out how much he was actually making per hour, and it was laughable, but the benefits, like college afterward, really sweeten the deal. So if kids get college free just because....because...

4. In my opinion and limited scope, it seems those who are handed free college because of parents' income don't always appreciate it.

5. Seven of my kids have been in college so far, and some of them are still paying it off. The older ones got a little bit of help financially, but most of their tuition has been covered in loans. So now they have good jobs and work, should their taxes cover "free" tuition?

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe we should just be happy to help. Maybe socialism really does work.

But hey, it's my blog, and sometimes I just like to rant.

Duke barked during the night, but I didn't let him out. So he helped himself to getting through the gate, and peed in the foyer. Then at 6:51, he was barking again. Am I never ever going to be able to sleep in on a Saturday, as long as he lives? And does that factor into the When Should We Put Him Down question, or is it just selfishness?

Emily, Mirielle, Joseph, Evelyn,Margaret, and Suzanne just left to work at the lacrosse game. Jonathan is at a weekend camping trip, Kathryn is leaving for California tomorrow to train for a Pharmacy Tech position. Sonja, Charlotte Claire, and Camille are still sleeping.

Last night, I went on an outing with my sister Cheryl. Hobby Lobby (I didn't buy a single thing, it's too expensive, ha, and I like thrift store prices), Joanne Fabrics, where I bought some pretty card paper for the girls for when they make houses, and some modeling clay that hardens, for making little clay pots. I also bought them some wood birdhouses to paint.

Then we went for dinner, which was relaxing and not too shabby. We ate at PizzaUno because she had a coupon. We rated it a 5 out of ten. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't really good, either, except for the fries, which we shouldn't have been eating anyway, ha. The grilled veggies were just okay, they were just thrown on the plates, served lukewarm,, kind of mushy. It was fun, but I wouldn't go there again, unless I had a really good coupon.

We stopped at the grocery store, and I am glad we did, because we were out of kitty food. They had pot roast for $2.49 a pound, and we have plenty of potatoes, onions, and carrots here. It's turning colder this afternoon, so I thought a nice cold weather dinner would be good.

Paul is coming home today! I am leaving in for the airport in a little while. Two weeks is a long time to be apart. I should be cleaning the house...:) I've been up for a while, did a little picking up, took a nice hot shower, and here I am, in the quiet, having a second cup of coffee.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

when the 12th child turns sixteen....

Miss Suzanne Eleanor, being an auntie to little Lydia Eleanor.

I had a few plans today, for Suzanne's birthday. I got up early, thank you Duke, and made cupcakes. Chocolate cupcakes. The teenagers started waking up, and we threw around some birthday ideas, then Suze got a text from Erica, with an offer of going on a hike. I told Suzanne to please, accept, go have fun. Erica is amazing, she does so many nice things for the girls. Sonja K. and cousin Grace were going along too.

Suzanne said she didn't want anything for her birthday. She certainly doesn't want a party. She's funny like that. I got her a few little things anyway, but nothing big. I offered her a new pair of jeans or a nice hoodie or something we normally wouldn't just go and buy, but she insists she's all set. She is such a good girl. Seriously.

So Evelyn and I went to the library with little girls...

(they are obsessed with housing design...Char wants to be an architect)

...then to grocery store for hamburger buns and pickles, we are grilling burgers tonight! We also fit in a quick trip to the thrift store, where Cam found a pair of Adidas pants for $2, and I found a few things to chalk paint.

The dollar store too, for a few things to put away for Easter, and some granola bars.

Home...ah, home. The kids are playing outside with cousin William in the 67 degree weather. It's almost a record-breaking warmth today. The windows are open, and it's lovely. The dogs are going to need another bath today.

I have to frost the cupcakes.

Tomorrow, we are going to the Department of Motor Vehicles to get Suzanne a driving permit. My 12th driver. You would think I would be all chillaxed by now, but nah, I still press that imaginary brake. I like to let them get their permits as soon as they turn 16, so they have longer to learn to drive, more practice before they actually get their licenses.

The struggle is real, I am not eating any sugar these days. I did some wimpy exercises three mornings in a row. I am planning to fit in a walk this afternoon, too. It's the story of my life. Burgers with no buns, no cupcakes, no swirly flavors in's my lot in life. As soon as I ease up and eat a few fries, the pounds pile back on.

Anyway. There is much to be thankful for. The refrigerator works again! The minivan is fixed! We have stacks of library books! :)

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

home in all it's glory....

This fine Tuesday morning was started for me by the barking of Duke. He's been better about barking during the night, but he can't wait much in the morning to get outside. So up I got. I wanted to crawl back into the warm bed, since the high school girls are on school break, and no one else was up, but I decided to just start the day so I wouldn't have to go through the slight agony of getting out of bed a second time.

After a shower and a wimpy work-out (One has to start somewhere!), I fed the puppies and did some laundry, washed dishes and wiped down counters, swept floors and cleaned out my purse was interesting in itself, because what did I find in there???! Guess. Just guess. No, not a winning lottery ticket, but...the receipt for the refrigerator! I went through SO much trouble getting that thing fixed because I didn't have that stupid receipt, and there it was, right where it was supposed to be, in my purse, in the special pocket for things I might need someday.

Anyway. After two hours of puttering, here I am in my comfy chair. Kids are awake now, and I am having coffee.

But I am not staying long in this comfy chair. No sir, I am going to the Department of Motor Vehicles, with Mirielle. I offered to go with her because I don't see much of her these days. And, tomorrow is her birthday. Mirielle Joy (her actual name is Mariel, shh, don't tell her I wrote this, she told me years ago I could mention her on my blog but only if I changed her name, ha.) Anyway. She's my fourth child, and she's a sunshine but don't mess with her. She knows what she's about, and she has a huge soft heart, but she's tough, and hard working. No excuses.

Anyway. We went shopping yesterday after our rental van return (that van was a beauty, a 2017, all the bells and whistles, and I found myself a little unimpressed with our 2008 model on the way home...) At the grocery store, I found myself looking forward to making meals again. We decided on a few whole chickens, which I roasted yesterday afternoon. I made a pan of stuffing, and some cute little baked potatoes, and mixed veggies. There is enough chicken left for some chicken and gravy tonight, or perhaps a chicken noodle soup. After, we went to Target and I tried to get Suzanne to pick something out for her birthday, which is on Thursday, but she said she doesn't want anything. Go figure. She's turning 16 though, so I will take her to get her driving permit. (My 12th driver!)

Yes, back home again, where the floors don't stay clean and the laundry never ends. And you know what? As nice as it is to go on vacation, I kind of like it.

And here's what happens when you look out your window notice your puppy sitting in your van. We think she sneaked in there when we were unloading the groceries.

Monday, February 20, 2017

our day at Arllington....

Camille was getting a closer look at a stone.

To be honest, Cam wasn't thrilled to go to Arlington again. She wanted to see things she hadn't seen before. I told her to open her eyes, and really try to see things she hadn't noticed before, and to enjoy the beautiful day in the sunshine. We had a few things on our agenda at the cemetery...

The Tomb of The Unknown Soldier...Adrian hadn't been here before. He also has an uncle buried in Arlington, and found his tombstone and took a picture of it for his mother.

The sheer magnitude, the expanse of this place is overwhelming.

This was my point of view most of the time, stopping to smell the roses, or rather read the stones, then hurrying to catch up.

This poor young man died right after his 21st birthday.

Long story short, Camille ended up having a really good time. These stones tell stories, and for what it's worth, we acknowledge the sacrifices they made, and walk through the rows, thankful for life, for freedom. The kids learned how to figure out the ages of the deceased, so it was a good math lesson. Sam is ever the good teacher, too.

We stopped at a fresh grave, covered in flowers and still without a headstone, Samuel was part of the funeral just a few weeks ago, when a young major passed away, one of Sam's fellow soldiers. We stopped and shed a few tears for him. A few feet away from his grave was a woman sitting in a lawn chair, right in front of what I assume was her husband's stone. She just sat there in the sunshine. That alone was enough to bring on the tears.

We also visited the Marine Memorial.

These flowers also evoked the prickling of a few tears. Who placed them there? A wife, an old veteran who lost his buddies, or maybe a patriotic young person who is just plain thankful?

And now I have to go to return the rental car....

home...ah, home!

This was taken today, on Sam's three year anniversary of joining the Army...

And this one was taken three years ago....

We left Florida at about nine o'clock on Friday night, and drove all night long, arrived in Washington D.C. on Saturday morning. We picked Sam up and headed to the capital...

This was taken in front of Starbucks, I believe it was the one that stupid protesters damaged after the inauguration. (I mean, protest all you like, it's a free country, but for heaven's sake, leave the businesses alone!)

I was in a fog, I hadn't slept at all while Adrian drove because Jonathan was his co-pilot, and they kept themselves awake by reading stupid jokes...blonde jokes...and roaring with laughter. By the time it was my turn to drive I was exhausted...but we pressed on, and made it into the crazy city of D.C.

The Museum of Natural History is always fun.

Sam is a natural born teacher.

The girls liked the Hope Diamond.

And the zebras...

And the giraffe....

We walked to the monument, then turned back to where we parked the car, clocking almost five miles.

Our hotel was nice, but it was 35 minutes from the middle of the lots of traffic.

But it had a nice pool, a hot tub, a reception in the evening with free drinks and snacks, and an amazing breakfast. Plus, it fit six comfortably, and the 8 of us fit in just fine.

And today was spent walking again almost five miles, all around Arlington National Cemetery....

Friday, February 17, 2017

the sunshine state...

Yesterday, we went to Busch Gardens. Cheetahs and lions, and rhinos, along with flamingos and other tropical birds, and the gardens...oh it was lovely. The roller coasters and! I didn't ride the really crazy ones, I get too dizzy. Once my equilibrium gets messed up, the day is a headache, so I just went on a few milder ones. I don't get bored waiting while the kids ride because people watching is at a premium in amusement parks.

Grocery store geek: The Wynn-Dixie.


Today we spent a few hours at the pool....a dip in the hot tub, and lying in the sun...ahh.

Back at home, in the land of snow, the refrigerator repair man was visiting today with the spare parts. I hope it's all fixed and good and stays good.

The dogs are being bad, according to the kids at home. Sunny chews everything and has too much energy. She's probably lonely. I miss her too:)

We are planning our trip home now, 24 hours of driving, dang and blah.

We want to stop in Washington, D.C. and see Samuel. So we are trying to work out the we leave tonight and drive at night? The roads are clearer, but it's harder to see. If we leave in the morning and drive all day, we'll get there so late at we have to figure it out.

I don't want to leave Florida, don't want to leave Grandma. But as with all good things, it must come to an end.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

just a little bit of sunshine....

Camille is my little friend, my dear youngest daughter, my sweetie. She absolutely delights in the pool here in Grandma's community. She so nicely jumps in like a pencil, making nary a splash, in deference to the older people who probably don't want their hair wet as they walk around talking in the pool. We go back in the afternoon when we have the pool to ourselves, and she jumps in to her heart's content.


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

road trip to florida!!!

With Sonja K....

With Sonja and Margaret and Adrian and Camille, Charlotte Claire, and Jonathan...

We drove and drove and drove...and arrived in Amelia Island on Sunday morning. Our room wasn't ready yet, but the hotel people were so very nice and let us use the bathrooms to change, and let us park the van there. The beach was right there, just a short walk, and within view.

We splashed in the cold water, and nodded off on our blanket. The kids collected shells and kicked the soccer ball.

Miss Charlotte Claire...

After our time on the beach, we checked in and discovered we were really hungry. We ordered pizza, and Miss Sonja and I went to pick them up, stopping first at Publix, which of course I loved, and got some salad and drinks, and some really pretty cupcakes for the kids.

After dinner and some lounging around the room, we headed down to the was amazing in the dark, the sky lit up with stars.

One of the interesting things about having lots of kids is trying to connect with each one of them. Having Sonja K. 14, Jonathan 12, Char 10, and Cam 9 is VERY FUN. Sonja is the youngest of my five-girls-in-a-row, and is almost 15, and is a regular eye-rolling teenager. But when she's with the younger ones, she tends to be more carefree. And it's fun.

We are with Grandma now...fresh strawberries are in season here. Imagine that. It's actually HOT OUT.

And now I will sign off, and write again later...

Friday, February 10, 2017

the roller coaster of a snowglobe

This is right now out my window, from my comfy chair.

We have had a mild winter, so we aren't allowed to complain. Just an hour or so north of here, along the eastern shore of Lake Ontario, there are places that have gotten feet upon feet of snow. The snowbanks are ten feet high. But. We're getting a little dose of it today.

School was delayed for two hours, then cancelled. I was supposed to go pay the taxes, but Paul nicely said he would, hey, he has a truck.

The refrigerator guy is coming in a few hours. I have a feeling he's going to look at it, and come back next week with the part to fix it.

My 3 high school teenagers are sleeping in, they are thrilled to have a snow day!

I didn't get to sleep in, because the refrigerator guy was going to call, then he did, and now he's coming. So up I got.

It was particularly painful this morning because I had somewhat of a turbulent night. Duke, Old Dukey, started in on his persistent intermittent barking at 4:00 a.m. At 4:13, I got out of the warm bed and ventured out here. I immediately spotted a pile of poop, which I stepped over, right into: (sorry if you are having breakfast), a pile of doggy throw up. I will be kind and spare you the details, and also I am not sure what I said, but it most certainly wasn't, "Yay!"

So I shooed the dogs out into the cold snowy night, and got to work. I cleaned up the messes by the door, and looked yonder into the living room, and what the heck? It looked like someone was playing a big joke on me. There were, no lie, eight more piles of barf. Eight. At first I suspected Duke, he's getting old and all, but then I realized there were chewed things in it, sorry, but it HAD to be puppy. Little Miss Sunshine. She was eating tree branches in the yard. She eats plastic bags if she can get them, she eats anything. It's like babyproofing for a toddler around here, yet she still finds things to eat.

Anyway. I cleaned it all up, let them back in, gave them a biscuit and told them to go lie down. I washed off my feet, and climbed back into my warm bed. It was 4:43.

And I tossed. I turned. I thought about our trip. I thought about homeschooling reports, assignments, packing. I thought about my sister (she's doing pretty good, but how is someone supposed to do after going through such an operation?)(she has an excellent attitude, but there is a lot of suffering!). I prayed for my kids, I prayed for my friends. I thought about myself and how I waste time and energy so often on feeling this way or that, instead of just giving it up and being good. I thought fondly of Paul, and what a good guy he is...he is going to be gone for two weeks, and that gets long. And I thought about our van.

I brought it in for an oil change yesterday, and I asked them to please give it a good look to make sure it will make the long drive to Florida. I know they can't guarantee we won't end up on the side of the road somewhere...but they can give us an idea.

So their idea was that we should not drive this van to Florida. It needs a new catalytic converter, which we knew, but we were told we could drive it like that for a while. Yesterday they said it was really clogged up, and they wouldn't recommend a long trip like that with it like that. Okay, I said, knowing they are very pricey, can you get it done by Saturday? Ha. The part takes five days to get in, once it's ordered. Okay. hmm. I asked Paul if he thought our old van would make the trip. He didn't think so. It's mileage is closer to 200 thousand now, and...he will be all the way in India, he just didn't think we should take it.

So all of the sudden, I was faced with not being able to go. We were thinking of other weeks, but with Paul's travel schedule, and Margaret and Adrian already having some off from work, and the fact that for once, I am ahead of myself and ALREADY PACKED. I was feeling rather down, rather like I was going to cry. Now, I don't like being a drama queen, I actually thought to myself, Now, what would I tell someone else in this situation? Maybe something like, "accept it, make the best of it, it happens for a reason, go cry about it then get over it."

Sometimes you can't help feeling like you're going to cry. Jonathan was hilarious, he was the adult while I sulked. Okay, I didn't sulk, not a total sulk, just a let down blah.

Then Grandma came through and suggested we rent a car, that she'd take care of it. Well, Jonathan said, "I knew there was a reason I didn't get really sad." And he proceeded to make a nice offer on Priceline.

So we'll be driving a nice new rental down to Florida.


I am tired today. I am ready to take Duke out and shoot him, but I don't really mean that. He's my little buddy. He is moving so slowly, I know his days are numbered, but it takes so little to make him happy. He's always been the kind of dog that you just look at, or when he could still hear, say his name, and he would wag. Now I just pet him and he looks at me and and wags, and honestly, I feel like lately he's looking at me like he's saying, "I'm getting so done with all of this.".

Anyway. Time to get moving.

Thursday, February 9, 2017


This is my favorite time of the day, the quiet hour. The three teenage high school girls are out the door, the dogs have been out twice and fed, played with, petted, and are snoring on the couch. The fake heater is humming, it's realistic flames cozying it up in here while it snows like crazy out the window. The little girls spent the night at Margaret and Adrian's, and Jonathan is still in bed, reading, "The Lord Of The Rings". Kathryn has the day off from her job at the grocery store in town so she's sleeping in, and Joseph is in his room.

I am supposed to have the van to the shop in town in four minutes, for an oil change. It ain't gonna happen. I cannot bring myself to hurry out into the snow just yet. I haven't enjoyed this quiet hour enough.

I did not get enough sleep last night, thank you Duke. I stayed up too late, then he woke me up at 5:15. Barking. Every few minutes, getting closer together and louder, until I get up and let him out. It's like hearing a newborn making that scratching sound on the sheet, then whimpering, and you're like, "please just go back to sleep...", then they start to cry...but letting the dogs out isn't like snuggling and feeding a warm fragrant baby. The floors are cold, and my bed is warm. I fully intended to go back to bed, and I did get back under the warm covers for a while, but sleep didn't find me. Then I remembered I really needed to get up with the high school girls because they are going out and about with Emily this afternoon, and I wanted to give them a little bit of money.

It's good I got up with them. One of them started crying, her friends at school simply won't talk to her. So I made sure she had a good lunch, at least. And I reminded her that she would be having fun after school with Em and her sisters.

Today's my day for going out and about, getting Jonathan a haircut and some swim shorts. He's growing up and growing out of everything, and the next boy older than him is Samuel, 21 years old in the Army, I certainly didn't save his old clothes for Jon. So Jon gets everything new, ha, except for what we get at thrift stores. (lucky Jon, he comes after the five-girls-in-a-row, and before Char and Cam).

Tomorrow I have to stay home during the day because of the refrigerator repair. And Saturday, we leave for Florida! We aren't leaving until the afternoon because Paul is leaving for India, and I have to bring him to the airport. I am counting on the refrigerator being fixed, so I can buy some food for the kids who will be home.

Anyway. Never a dull moment. I should really get moving, I guess...blah, I don't want to.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

the saga continues....

but I won't bore you to tears. I'll just randomly list some of the latest in the refrigerator crisis, which has been upgraded from a "situation", because of the continued warmth and subsequent spoilage of really good food.

The Samsung support guy was very polite, but he left out the little detail of the service not being under warranty. I'm not sure he knew it himself, but somehow that's the memo the service center got.

I called Lowe's corporate customer service, and finally got some help. The nice lady had mercy on me, and is sending a local technician over to look at the refrigerator...on Friday. Now, this call happened on Tuesday, and our refrigerator has been broken since Saturday. But who was I to complain, at least she decided to cover it under a Lowe's warranty.

Today I went to one of the most hated places in the United States of America, the department of motor vehicles. The workers there cannot help the frustration generated by their customers, they don't make the laws and rules. You have to turn in your plates before you cancel your insurance, you have to have insurance before you change a registration from one name to another, you have to have signatures and correct identifications and proof of addresses. You always have to have at least one item you don't have, and then you have to come back another day, take another number, and wait again in the plastic seats.

Mirielle had things to take care of there, so I went along just to spend some time with her. She had to stop at the grocery store, and I had to get more doggy chow, so the dogs don't run out while we're in Florida next week.

I brought home a rotisserie chicken, one of the best inventions of the century, $4.99 for a whole lemon pepper chicken.

That was just a snack though. I made a huge pan of chicken breasts with orange sauce, a pan of rice (sometimes I make my rice in the oven...I just spray the pan with non-stick stuff, or melt butter in it, then add the rice and water, extra butter, a little bit of salt, and today...some lemon juice and freshly ground pepper...cover with foil, and bake while the chicken is baking)
I also made some green beans, and voila, a healthy dinner. Emily and Mirielle came over for a bit.

See, they are looking for a new house, and I love looking at houses, so they nicely let me go with them. This one may possibly be the one, but it isn't perfect.

Other than my two short outings, I stayed home today.

Miss Lydia is here tonight. She's a chatterbox these days! She sings, "Twinkle Twinkle", especially the line, "up above the world..."

Tomorrow morning I have to bring the minivan in for an oil change, and to be checked out to make sure it's okay for 2,500 miles round trip. That's a lot of miles.

Then I'm bringing Jonathan for a haircut. The little girls are spending the night at Margaret's house, as she works from home on Wednesdays, and they are getting together with some other little girls who homeschool, which should be great fun.

Emily is picking the three high school girls up and bringing them on an adventure.

So we are busy doing this and that, not always all together, but I try to keep up with who is doing what and how they are all managing, and to listen to them and help them and encourage them to make good choices, to forgive, to be nice, to stand firm in temptations.

But I will say this: I cannot wait to get to Florida, sunshine on my skin. Here in the northeast, in central New York state, we don't get much sunshine in the winter, and when we do, it's often cold and we are bundled in layers. So I get to craving that feeling, that baking in the sun. And guess what? It's strawberry season in Florida. Guess what Grandma is buying for us? Fresh strawberries. Does life get any better?

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

some politics perhaps?

Nothing divides the people in the greatest country on earth quicker than politics. These days, just wear a Trump hat in public and find out for yourself. No, I do not have a Trump hat.

One nation under God..

...with fifty states, which have individual laws and rights. The freedom of speech is a luxury that has consequences. If you say something mean to your friend, yes, you have that right, but it doesn't mean it was wise to say it.

I do not consider myself either a Democrat or a Republican. Far left, far right, conservative, liberal, whatever. I hate the fighting and the name calling, the babyish NOT MY PRESIDENT whining. Women marching for Reproductive Rights,(no offense, but "rights" are one thing...scraping out a helpless little baby is another) I can't stomach it. Quit complaining, and be thankful that you live in such a wonderful land of opportunity. You are not oppressed.

Women want respect. I get that. You can make laws that require people to hire women, to pay them equally, treat them equally. But respect is something that begins in the home! Parents respect each other, teach by example, they respect their children, and teach them to respect each other.

I think boys should never hit girls. Never. They're usually bigger and stronger, and what good could come of a man hitting a woman? Just. don't. do. it.

I think it's nice and thoughtful of men to hold doors open for women. But also for women to hold doors open for men.

I think women get more respect when they are modest.

I don't like that just because I happen to think abortion is horrible, that I am lumped in with Hating Women, Being Against Women.

I don't like the division of this country. There aren't two distinct groups who hate each other. We are a melting pot of peoples, with different convictions, different morals, different ways of living, all here to pursue life and happiness.

I do not hate gays, I do not care whether they choose to marry each other, or adopt children, or run for president. In fact, some of my very favorite people are gay.

I am not against immigration, I am rather against giving so many free benefits to anyone who comes here to make their way. I think that reliance on the government for sustenance should be only if one is sick or injured, and try separating those people from those who cheat and really could work! There is so much corruption in people, so laws and rules aren't going to help.

To me, there is not a clear line that separates Americans into two groups, yet when we vocalize one belief, immediately we are categorized as haters. I do not hate anyone. But I do hate seeing hate, and violence.

This division that politics has wrought has hit close to home. One of my girls commented something about girls dressing respectably getting more respect, something of that nature...she was hit with the accusation of, and I quote, "slut shaming." Slut shaming. I'm sorry, I cannot take that seriously. But in the high school world, this is real stuff. One of my girls was tiring of hearing her friends spout about abortion rights, ect., and made a stand about it because she believed she should speak up...and she finds herself instantly: with no friends. She texted me yesterday asking for prayers, because her friends wouldn't even look at her in school. I hurt for her. Do they not like her anymore just because she has different beliefs? Poor poor girl. She's sweet and kind and thoughtful and never pushed her opinions on anyone, but it got to the point where she just answered what SHE thought about things, and now...silence. They cannot be friends with her anymore.

So, I told her that it's written to pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one shall see the Lord. She doesn't have to be besties with them anymore, but she can be nice. This division over beliefs is sickening.

We are leaving or Florida on Saturday. I hope I hear from the local refrigerator repairman soon, I might have to call there. We have a lot to do. We are staying a night on the way down in a hotel on Amelia Island, 100 yards from the ocean. We have to find Charlotte Claire a new bathing suit, and dig out our summer clothes to pack. Poor us, ha.

Monday, February 6, 2017

when it rains, it pours...(and update!)

And okay, it's not exactly pouring...but. Our new refrigerator is not working. The freezer is great, the refrigerator part is not cooling. I just bought this lovely Samsung in October. But guess what? I cannot find the paperwork. I have absolutely no recollection of where I put it. Now, I remember back then, the stressful day of getting it delivered in a rainy downpour of a day, then leaving for the weekend, to Virginia in the mountains, to be with Samuel and lots of the kids. It was acting up, but only because it was stuck in Demo mode. We got it figured out, and it's been dreamy...until now, when it's not dreamy. It's nightmare-y. Because I have to call Lowe's and explain that I paid cash for this unit, and do not have a receipt,'s a floor model. I don't know if I have any ground to stand on, and I feel absolutely sick. I am trying to remind myself that it's just another trial, even if we have to pay for repairs out of pocket, it's not the end of the world. was a thousand dollars for this, and what was I thinking? Paul was in India, so I had to do it myself. We had the cash because we had just sold the big van. Why didn't I ask about the warranty? Why didn't I take better care of the paperwork? My stomach hurts, and I am not kidding. I am trying not to stress, but seriously?

So now I am going to get out of my comfy chair and search for that paperwork, a second time, and then make that phone call to Lowe's. Here's my plan:

To make sure that I remember to conduct myself as if Jesus were listening in on the call, ha, because he certainly will be!

To make sure that no matter what, I remember that God causes all things to work together for our good.

I do blame myself in this one, because I am so scatterbrained sometimes, but sometimes I feel like I am juggling one ball too many.

But. The gospel still applies, scatterbrained or not. I cannot change the past.

First world probs.

But in any case, pray for me today. Of course I would love it if they would just tell me how to push some buttons, and it would work, and all of our costly food would come back from the brink of spoilage. Or that they'll send a new refrigerator out immediately, and cover the cost of all the wasted veggies. ha.

Instead I think they are going to say they are sorry, but if the customer is so stupid to pay cash, lose the receipt, AND buy a floor model, oh well.


I called Lowe's, and they have no record of our purchase. Apparently floor models or scratch&dent items are exempt from any store warranties. The woman I spoke to assured me that I was offered extended warranties upon purchase, which I most certainly was not. I was foolish to take it for granted that a warranty would apply, and the saleslady the day of my purchase agreed that it was a great deal for such a great refrigerator, and I didn't even think to ask about warranties.

Anyway, store wouldn't/couldn't help. So I called Samsung, and spoke to a very kind Indian gentlemen, who walked me through lots of control panel possibilities, then came to agree with me that it's not cooling properly. He is sending a service order to a local place, and even offered replacement value for items that spoil...which is happening, because service tech hasn't even called yet. (this guy was SO polite!)

It was good to remember to be nice though, as I spoke with the lady from Lowe's. She was just doing her job.

Bottom line though: don't buy a floor model or scratch and dent from Lowe's.

Friday, February 3, 2017

half empty, or half full?

On the one hand, all the tests I have had this week area a huge waste of money. But, hey, I passed them all, that I know of anyway.

The breast cancer care center wants me to have lots more tests, because of my risk factors. I am mulling this over. I don't want to keep spending time and money on something that "might" happen. I do think I will have genetic testing done though, because I owe that to my daughters. But that's it. And I'll behave myself and keep current with the check-ups, but I am not going there every six months like the nice doctor suggested.

Today I had this test done that took my blood pressure in arms, thighs, calves, ankles, and...big toes! The thigh ones actually hurt, the cuff tightened until there was no pulse at all, then relaxed. The tech/nurse said mine went quickly, which is an indication that my arteries are nice and soft, as opposed to being riddled with PAD. (I lay there pondering this, and decided it meant Peripheral Artery Disease).

That test went okay, I haven't heard the results from the dr. yet.

The next thing was the stress test. I had to have those pesky pads put on. I had to wear a hospital gown, which isn't my look. It was a guy tech/nurse who did this part of the prep, blah. I wore my best bra that doesn't have an underwire, but what looks fine at home, looks so dingy in the bright florescent lights. Anyway. I had an echogram done first, then I ran on the treadmill. The cardiologist was in there, along with two nurse/tech ladies. My blood pressure went up incrementally as the speed and incline increased, but it didn't even reach the baseline they expected, and my heart readout was beautiful. They were talking about food for their Superbowl parties (can you believe they are talking about chicken wings and dips in a cardiologist's office?)

Anyway, it was embarrassing to run in front of these fit people, but when I was finished, barely out of breath, the dr. declared I passed with flying colors, and that I am in good shape, and that I shouldn't be afraid to exercise. He said, "I guess you were right, it WAS a reaction to that antibiotic."

Hundreds and hundreds of dollars later, and I was right.

Oh well.

I haven't heard the results of the halter monitor yet, but I am assuming that was fine too.

And yes, I am glad. I am. It's nice to get clean check-ups.

There was the nicest couple in the waiting room today. They loved each other. He was frail, and had done a stress test, and was hungry after. The nurse gave him a cup of water, and a breakfast bar. She opened it for him, and he held it out to me and asked if I wanted any of it. It was so polite and sweet, but of course I declined. His wife offered to get me a magazine. I was sitting there in my hospital gown, so she probably assumed I had something wrong with me, and there she was, all of like 80 years old...

Anyway. I got out of there, and yay! I could go get coffee, because I wasn't allowed to have any before the stress test. It was almost noon, and I had been functioning for six hours with no caffeine.

But first, Walmart for a few pizza doughs, some green and red peppers, lettuces, and cucumbers. That's seriously all I bought.

Then to B.J.'s, which I have been avoiding because my membership expired. I do the $100 one, with 2% back, because I spend enough there to get lots of rewards. I bought burger and chicken, hot sauce and barbecue sauce, coffee and croutons, and the huge bag of chocolate chips.

And I filled the van with gas...then finally, coffee.

I stopped at an independent roaster coffee place, their coffee is so good. I splurged and asked for just a little bit of pumpkin swirl...I don't like the sugar, but I deserved it, ha. It was so creamy and yummy.

Home...ah, home. Emily had the day off and so nicely brought Jonathan, Charlotte Claire, and Camille ice skating, then to Panda Express for lunch. She's a nice big sister!

So I had the house almost to myself, as Joseph was here but was in his room painting and stuff. The puppies were glad to see me.

Then the kids came tumbling in the door with stories and Panda food, the three girls came home on the bus, I put some oatmeal chocolate chip cookies in the oven, and my quiet time was over...and my headache was picking up speed. I had ignored it for too long, the ibuprofen weren't helping, I finally had to cry Uncle and go to bed for a bit. I lay there under the covers, as still as could be, while it pounded away...then eventually receded. phew.

Time to make dinner...taco salad tonight. I chopped veggies and sauteed the meat, Jonathan and Sonja helping me get out cheese and sour cream and plates and sauces. is good. There are sad things in this world though. I don't like reading the news sometimes. The prison standoff in Delaware broke my heart, because there was a female counselor who was taken hostage, and it's believed that some of the prisoners protected her. One of the prison guards was murdered. I cried. I also cried last night because one my teenage daughters was researching for a school paper, and she decided to do it on abortion. She read about late term and partial birth abortion, and broke down crying when she told me how it's done. Later, she tried to sleep, and couldn't, and came in to the living room hysterical. She said she didn't want to go to sleep because she would have nightmares. I told her that it's absolutely correct, right, and understandable for her to be so upset, because it's horrid. It is gross, and it's sad. I also told her that she should probably do her paper on something else.

Tomorrow morning, no sleeping in for me! We have to be at the basketball stadium by 8:00 a.m.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

soaking it in....

This is right now, from my comfy chair. It's a lovely winter day, with more snow in the forecast.

And I don't have to go anywhere! For the first day this week, I don't have any appointments. We are thinking of the library, but with more snow coming, I'm not sure. We still have some science books to look through, and they really want new chapter books to read, as most nights I don't allow tablets in bed, just books, unless they luck out and get to watch a few episodes of Naruto.

Yesterday after taking off that awful heart monitor, I hurried real fast to take a shower and get out the door to my appointment. I took a few wrong turns, despite the GPS on the phone, how was I supposed to know the left two lanes were for turning left? It all makes total sense once you know where you're going. I drove to the wrong building in the wrong parking lot, and once I found the right building, I couldn't figure out where I was going. The check engine light is still on in the van, and it started making a new noise. I had to go to the bathroom, but didn't want to be even later, so I passed by the Ladies' Room in the hallway. This decison wasn't smart, but that's another story. I didn't pee my pants, but it was close. Long story short, I was 8 minutes late, and was greeted with, "You're late, Della!", chastised by a receptionist I never met before, and will now always hate, ha. I was thinking more like I should get a huge prize for finding the place all by myself. harrumph.

The good news is the nice cancer doctor said my lump is a non-issue, don't even give it a thought, just a small fatty deposit, almost gone away. The bad news is that she thinks the odds are really stacked against me with family history, and my sister's genetic testing results, and that I should have it done too, along with being monitored every six months. Um...I am not sure I want to do this.

Tomorrow is my stress test and neck ultrasound at the cardiologist. He told me I should be going in at least once a year for checkups.

This, in my humble opinion, is a grand idea, but also ridiculous. Using up so much money and time...

I feel like they get you into their clutches, and they see the dollar signs. Oh, I'm sure they are really nice people, and they want to make sure you're well and healthy, but it IS a business. And they seem to love to "run some tests"., no appointments, and I love it.

Yesterday after my appointment, I stupidly didn't check the route I chose for "home" on the GPS, and I followed directions all through the worst part of the big city. I did not like that one little bit. I stopped at the grocery store for this raspberry salad dressing the girls have discovered they love, half and half, milk, bagels, pepperoni, and yogurt.

Home, ah home. The kids helped me put things away, we talked, went over some work, then the three Real School kids came home on the bus. Evelyn and Suzanne wanted to know if their glasses came in yet, so I called, and yes, they were in. ugh. That meant another outing, but Suzanne's old glasses had broken and were taped together, plus, they wanted their new ones! So off we went. Sonja joined us too.

We went to Old Navy in the mall, and found some sweet things for the little girls for $1.99 each, and a sweater for Suzanne. Then Target, because Sonja needed a bathing suit. Then to Dunkin, I got an iced coffee with cream, and a shot of sugar free raspberry. mmm.

Home...again. I made a big salad, and the girls put some pizzas in the oven.

I called my sister, and she's doing well as one could be, considering what she had just been through, such a major surgery just the day before! She was pleased with the experience at the surgery center, she had her own nurse, and felt well taken care of. I am amazed at such a short stay, but that's the way of the world now.

Our furnace is patched up, again, and hopefully will hold together until warmer weather, when we can see about getting a new one.

The kids are up, so I am going to get busy...have a really good day!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

another hour....

And I'll be able to remove this halter cardiac monitor. Yay! Because I can feel that pea down under those mattresses. And, I'll get to take a shower. It has driven me crazy! I haven't showered since Monday morning right before the appointment to get this thing on. blah.

And, after my shower, it's hurry hurry hurry, out the door to the breast care center to check this lump, and hopefully the doctor will throw her head back and laugh heartily because it is SO nothing to worry about. Then she'll wipe her eyes and ask me why I am wasting their time.

My sister's surgery went well yesterday, as well as a double mastectomy can be expected to go. She most likely won't need radiation (YAY!!!!), and will find out in a week or so whether chemo is in the picture. She needs to get better, we have more adventures to go on. One of her seven girls is getting married in the springtime, which will make six son-in-laws for her! She never had any boys, but she's rolling in the sons now! :)

So we are going full steam ahead with our Florida plans! I am bummed because I never lost that extra 20 pounds...well, extra fifty...okay, extra 70 pounds. It's hard because I am determined not to let that make my life miserable, that deception that things would be so much better if I was thinner (wait, don't you have to be "thin" to be described as "thinner"?). Anyway, I need to find the fine line of being okay with myself, yet still making good choices and staying away from sugar. I just wish I looked a teeny bit better in shorts. And bathing suits...let's not go there.

After all these appointments are squared away, and the doctors have shooed me out their doors, I will dig out the warm weather clothes and start packing. It's a long long drive from New York state to Florida, and drivers are crazy! If only the tractor trailers had their own highways...

The other day I was driving in the small city, in a 40mph zone. There was a sign indicating that the left lane was closing ahead. In the right lane, two tractor trailers zooming along...then, my lane abruptly ended! I couldn't get over, so I had to stop. I thought I was going to get crunched from behind! A nice driver behind the tractor trailers stopped and let me merge, but dang it was scary. And then there are the texters. They drive and text. You can see them looking down and swerving. I do not have road rage, but sometimes...ha, when one of my kids was like three, she asked me, "Mommy, why are the other drivers idiots?"

I think I'm rambling because I'm nervous. I am nervous because I am going to a new place. I don't usually go so far by myself, and it's a new office, new doctor, and I'm not sure why I have to go there. I always feel like I am not prepared for the exam, in new situations.

Yesterday when I was out...which was all day, btw. We had dentist appointments in the morning (the dentist told me that he NEVER says this, but my two little girls are the best patients ever. He said he has people twice their age who aren't half as good:)) We went to Walmart, where I managed to fill the cart. They have these small fleecy warm blankets, marked down to $3, so I bought four. We like our little blankets in the living room, and they match nicely. I got myself a hoodie for nine dollars, and a new space heater for Evelyn's room. A package of socks, a t-shirt for Jonathan, a few odds and ends, and dang it, it adds up quickly. I didn't even buy any food. And, I forgot we were running out of coffee. oops. You would have thought I murdered someone, the way Paul and Evelyn were acting last night. Ev so nicely prepares the pot every night so she just has to switch it on in the morning, and there was only pumpkin spice coffee, which Paul hates. Good thing there were a few nice little bags we have gotten as gifts, she made stuff from the Dominican Republic that Margaret and Adrian brought back for us.

So today, I must buy coffee.

Anyway, after Walmart, we went to McDonalds. Kim, my sister-in-law, met us there. She had her two youngest children, and her three year old grandson. We sat and talked while the kids sat and talked and played a bit. It was a sad realization, but my kids are growing out of the McDonald's playplace. (and have you ever sat at McDonald's and ate only four chicken nuggets and a coffee? Fries, burgers, sundaes, calling your name?! You would think you would lose at least two pounds just for being faithful there!)

And in just seven minutes, my monitor will beep, and I'll be able to take it off, which gives me hardly any time at all to fit in a shower before I have to leave to be at my appointment on time.

Oh the fun.

And, have I mentioned that winter is back? The cars, the deck, the yard, all sprinkled generously with white sparkly stuff. If the sun came out, it would sparkle. I don't mind as long as it isn't blizzarding while I drive. Anyway, I am rambling again, I am going to get ready to go now, and hopefully I won't have anything much to write about regarding this appointment, on tomorrow's post....