summer 2011

summer 2011

Paul and I, all 16 kids and Ashley, Benjamin's wife...Christmas 2012

Paul and I, all 16 kids and Ashley, Benjamin's wife...Christmas 2012

Friday, March 31, 2017

cozy 101...

We live west of Syracuse, with heavy rain still to come. It's gloomy, it's chilly, and yes, the fake fireplace is humming, what did we ever do without it? The forecast is dismal, isn't it? Sunday will be glorious, if the sun peeks out, never mind that a high of 49 isn't really very warm. Here in New York, it means shorts and windows open.

But today, it's cozy in here. I do wonder if I really like the gloomy days, or just decided somewhere along the line to embrace them, because the alternative is either move to California, or be miserable.

As I was taking a dollhouse person from a bad puppy this morning, I stopped to look at how this was set up. The daddy figure is checking out the 'fridge, one lady is vacuuming, and the other is holding a baby in the rocking chair. It's like what I always dreamed of, having someone to clean while I rocked the baby.

Sunny has a hard time minding her business when it concerns dollhouse people. She thinks they are just the right consistency for teething on. I got one from her, (thankfully Drop It works)...then she kept going over and nosing around, I kept telling her no, it's not for you...then she just flopped down in her little bed, head on paws, and sighed. She is no dummy.

Silly me, I was marveling at how people keep getting sick, and how come I haven't been sick in so long? Not that I wanted to be, of course, but maybe I am just a healthy person. harrumph. My head has been stuffy and dizzy lately, and yesterday the cold symptoms started in full force. A head cold is such a feel-sorry-for-myself sickness. It rather matches the weather today. I am thankful for tissues, and for hot coffee and tea. Last evening, for dinner, I made a really good pot of chicken soup. I chopped up and onion, some red peppers, some carrots, and some potatoes, into small cubes...browned them up nicely in olive oil, then added them to the pot where a nice sized container of chicken broth, some water, and the leftover chicken from the day before (all cubed up small), was simmering. I added lots of fresh cilantro, then after fifteen minutes or so, scooped most of it out. I made rice, and those pop and fresh biscuits, for the kids. It was so good, I want to make more!

Yesterday, I took the little girls to the craft store. We got our slime supplies...we want to make some with the foam balls in it. We went up and down the aisles, and picked out some springy flowers to bring out the coral color in the living room, and some coral chalk paint (ooh, what can I paint?). I let them get some of the modeling clay that will harden if you leave it out, and they are very excited about that. We got a few new mason jar candles, too. The nice lady at the register let me use two coupons, one for %50 off a regular priced item (the chalk paint), and the other %15 off the total, including sale stuff.

We then went to the warehouse store for pepperoni and half and half and Easter candy.

Then, Walmart! We needed liquid laundry starch for our slime recipe, and some pizza dough, and ice cream for Saturday night. The girls are having a few friends over for a sleepover!

Yesterday, I talked to my son Samuel for over an hour on the phone. I talked to Benjamin the day before. I love keeping in touch with the older ones. We are planning our 2017 summer vacation...we are renting the camp on the lake in the Adirondacks again! Getting out of the car and smelling the pines, the freshness of the air, seeing the lake right there in the front yard, the slamming of the wood screen door, running in to check out the now familiar cabin, the excitement of greeting the grown kids from far away...we bring so many snacks it's not funny, and I mostly let myself go...not completely, but I enjoy some wine and popcorn, and last year, I had Oreos. We eat snacks on the dock every afternoon in lieu of lunch, and even when it rains, we enjoy it all. I cannot wait.

And Sam is getting out of the Army so soon! Paul and I are going to drive down to his little exit ceremony. I asked if President Trump would be there, as Sam is a member of the Old Guard, Presidential Honor Guard. But I don't think Mr. Trump knows that Samuel exists. His loss, ha.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

some pictures, and some sewing

Emily stopped by after clinical yesterday, and took this pic of Jonathan and Sunny...where did our little tiny puppy go?

Where is Suri?

And here is Duke...he's pretty cute.

Evelyn played board games with the kids the other night...

Just a little springiness! I made new valances for the living room windows yesterday, and re-covered a few pillows to match. I like the coral color for spring and summer.

The other valances were just made in the fall, but I wanted something lighter for spring.

Getting out the sewing machine is always fun. It worked fine yesterday, not a single snag, it was lovely. Sometimes you just have those days when the thread breaks, it bunches, the bobbin messes up, but not yesterday.

Keeping the floors clean these days is challenging, with all the paws to wipe, not to mention the kids going out to play then coming in with muddy shoes, sneakers, or feet. But as you get older you realize that deja vous, yes, that sense of, "this AGAIN?", and you know it's temporary...the ground will dry, things will get better. It's really not a huge-o deal.

Easter is just around the corner. I have a small stockpile of candy, but want to get more. I won't be filling 16 baskets this year, but will make a small one for the three older girls who live in town, just a small one with good chocolate in it and not a lot of junk. They would rather not be eating candy, so maybe I'll put some protein bars and nuts in it. Samuel should be home for Easter this year, which is fun, because he was always the one who would help me wrap presents, fill stockings, and fill the Easter baskets. I have such good memories of that. And of him when he was four years old, he wanted a big big big chocolate bunny. He saw one in the store, I think it was called Grandfather Bunny. And he just kept saying he wanted that huge chocolate rabbit for Easter. So, I got it for him. The other kids never said anything about why they just regular sized ones, they were all just impressed with that one Sam got. I don't know why he wanted that so badly, but he got it.

The girls are all excited because they are having cousin Dani and friend Amanda over to spend the night on Saturday. They have big plans, and I let them decide on a DIY project to do with them...I think they are choosing to make slime. So today we are going to the craft store, yay! We want to make the stuff with the little foam beads in it, and maybe some glitter.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

what??! no photos??!!

I really need to start snapping more pictures. Yesterday, for example, was a wonderful day, and now I'll just have to describe it.

The kids were busy and didn't want to get ready to leave the house. The girls were playing in their kinetic sand. So of course we had to look up DIY recipes to make our own, which is now on our To Do list. Charlotte Claire was in and out of the house, rain doesn't bother her, she was practicing her back handspring. Jonathan is reading a good book, and was training Sunny and cooking breakfast. It was just the sort of day to just LIVE.

Anyway, they all showered and ate, and out the door we went...first to the thrift store. I found a nice little cooler, a small-ish one, that seems like it will be very handy in the summer. The kids found a Jeopardy! board game, and the game of Life, both in excellent condition, for just a few dollars each. They could not wait to get home and play. (Evelyn played a game of Jeopardy! with them after the youth meeting last night. Then she said, "Do you want to know a secret? I took a huge nap after school today!" Camille said, "No wonder you're so happy!")

They also found a few nice gymnastics leotards, and a pair of nice shorts.

Then a coffee for me, and a few donut holes for them, they knew they each got three and one was left over, and I did not want one (yes I did! yes I did! but I said NO, thank you, like a good girl!), but the girl gave two extra, and let's just say it does not take much to make them happy. Four each. It was a good day. They ate two, and saved the others for after gymnastics.

Then the dollar store...there were huge bags of stuffing for a dollar, and huge bags of croutons, and huge bags of mini marshmallows, and huge bags of chocolate rice crispy cereal, and some good Easter candy, and some nice bowls from Target, and a few useful things like onion powder and new salt and pepper shakers. (We plan to make the chocolate rice krispy treats for Easter, Sam will be home!)

And...gymnastics class...then, grocery store for dog chow, milk,cheese, broccoli, bananas, chicken, corn, oats (I don't eat them anymore, but the kids do occasionally).

While we were in the grocery store, Jonathan was online on my phone putting in a pizza order. The three homeschool kids get their monthly free pan pizzas through the reading program, and when you order online, the large two topping pan pizzas are $7.99. So Jon ordered two large, and the three personals, and we picked them up on the way home.

Now this is a fine plan for a ticket out of making dinner for the family. And it's a good way to make your kids totally and completely love you. They see those pizza boxes, and YAY! Although I think Jonathan may have leaked the info via snapchat.

The problem is, I am not going to just eat pizza right now. So I had to keep my eyes off the boxes, and make some eggs for dinner for myself. A lot of good it did though, I ate pretzels later while they were playing Jeopardy! dang it. But not too many, and I had a decent day, calorie wise. is a new day, one that started at 5:58 a.m., thank you Duke. I did go back to bed, although I shouldn't have wasted the time, for all the sleep I didn't manage to get, but my bed is warm and cozy, so I couldn't resist.

Now I am up, the sky is clear and blue, and it is cold, 38 degrees (3.33 c). I don't want to clean the house, AGAIN, but I want it to be clean, so I suppose I will take a whack at it. My laundry hampers are pretty empty, it's like after all these years, the laundry is caught up. Even the little girls know how to do their own laundry, although I help them a bit. Jonathan is a champ, he is learning how to hang it all up and fold his home clothes and put it all away. Now there were years, kids, I find myself saying, when there was a laundry mountain in the doorway of the laundry room. An actual mountain that one would walk up one side of and down the other, in order to get into that laundry room. The room itself housed all the clothes for all the kids, until they got old enough to decide they wanted their own things in their own rooms. I just found it easier to pick out school clothes for 9 kids all from one room, and when we all went somewhere, I would just pick out everything at once, making sure it all went together nicely, ha. I hung almost everything up, there are racks on all the walls. It got messy, oh boy did it ever. I would clean it and say that it would stay that way forever, but life was so busy. I would do laundry day in, day out, and never get to the bottom, because day in, day out, the kids were wearing clothes and the bedding pile would be added to even as I tried to get in at least one load of it daily. I remember standing in that room looking at every single hamper, all sorted...the whites hamper, the lights hamper, the darks hamper, the towels hamper, and then the mountain of bedding...and when there was a newborn, a small bin of baby clothes, because I didn't wash those with the other clothes yet...I would stand there trying to decide which hamper needed to be washed the most urgently. They all seemed to be screaming PICK ME! And more than once I wished I had more than one washer, more than one dryer.

But, as much as I couldn't imagine it happening, those days passed into memories.

Having babies and toddlers and school kids and teenagers and appointments and meals to make and papers to sign and and and, for all those years...even when I sat to put my feet up, I had a baby or two or three sitting with me. I do not regret a minute of it, but it explains why I still cannot believe it when I have times where there is nothing URGENT to take care of! Yes, I am still busy, and there are things to do...but the intensity of those years has softened into a lull of slow busyness. And I am still the mom of 16 kids..butmost of them are independent. When Evelyn Joy turns 18 this summer, that will be eleven of our kids, 18 and over, leaving only 5 under 18. Miss Charlotte Claire will be 10 in May, and she has only Camille younger than her, heck when Benjamin was 10, he had EIGHT younger siblings.

Yes, life has changed. Now I have more time, but I want to use it in a good way. Today, I may take the kids to the pool, maybe for a long walk to check out if anything is blooming in the woods yet. There were things sprouting during the last warm up, and the grass here is surprisingly green. We need this sunshine to dry up the mud, thus keeping 12 paws cleaner, ha.

And that is the end of today's ramble.:)

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

cloudy and gloomy?

Central New York state weather forecast...and I don't mind a bit. I don't like the muddy soggy yard, but the gloom is rather delicious. It's a hunker down and make soup sort of day. Jonathan just got back from a walk with Sunny, which I should have gone on, but I caved to the temptation of quiet, alone, morning time. A big steaming cup of coffee, the fake fireplace humming, and I'm good.

But staying home is not on the agenda today. It's gymnastics class day, and Charlotte Claire is very excited because she has been working on her back handspring, her aerial, and her front tuck (sumi). They do these things on the trampoline, and I can't even watch, ha.

But gymnastics isn't the only thing on the agenda...I have a bill to pay, license plates to turn in to the DMV, and the list for things we need at the store is chow, again, toothpaste, half and half, milk, fresh fruits and veggies.

I do not mind going out and about, in fact I really like it, but I also like to stay at home.

Here's something I have been thinking about. I know someone who used to be the most beautiful girl I ever saw. She was breathtakingly beautiful, and only a few years older than me, so I hated her, naturally. Not really HATED, but she was the type of girl who didn't even need make up. Some of us tried hard to be pretty, and she just existed and was gorgeous. We weren't close, and I haven't been in touch with her much over the years, but the great invention called Facebook keeps me updated of these friends. So. She has cancer, and I saw pictures of her the other day....and let's not get mean, because that is NOT my intention. I am trying to make a point that beauty is a fleeting thing, she is still lovely and sweet, but I was rather shocked at how she looked. And now of course she just needs to heal, and get well, and live! Who cares how she looks! And it just hit me how stupid we can be, to care so much about outward things, things that pass away.

I hope my teenage daughters can figure this out while they are still young. The young people these days are so prone to comparing themselves, and the instagram filters don't help. One of them was telling me about a girl from school who looked so good in her pictures, but in person was...well, different. I don't use those filters at all, they seem deceitful to me, but whatever. Anyway, the girls these days have so much social media to contend with, where they don't see the bad and the ugly, only the sides of people they want to present.

Girls want to fit in, they want to feel good about themselves, I get that. But to let those feelings of not being pretty enough, or thin enough, or popular, steal their joy! Steal what could be a happy youth time!

And you know, I have body image issues as well, I hate being fat! I say I don't care how I look, I just want to feel good, but I don't like the muffin top, and I don't like being limited in what I feel comfortable wearing, and I don't like to jiggle, ha.

So it's a work for me too, to see these things for what they are...the spirit of vanity is a thief.

Young people don't realize how quickly time actually flies. One day, you wake up, and look in the mirror to see an old lady there, with wrinkles and crinkles and those wiry grays sticking up out of the part.

Anyway. I have a list of things I want to accomplish this spring...some things we "need".

A new firepit for the deck, the old one served us well until it rusted through.
A new kitchen sink faucet, it's literally falling off. An nice one though, one of the classy tall ones. We seem to get the twenty dollar ones, and wonder why they are so junky.
New faucets for the bathroom sinks, they are so old and crudded up with hard water...
New toilet seats. We just need them.
A new screen door for the deck door. One of the dogs, combined with the snow/harsh temps of winter, has made a nice crack in it, and along with the mud from one bad dog jumping on it when she wants to come in, it looks pretty grungy.
Two more Adirondack chairs for the deck. We have other chairs, that aren't as comfy, and we play musical chairs with the two we have. Notice I only say two, we actually could use like six, but we're keeping it real here, ha.
We also need to replace the rest of our windows, we only did half of them last year.

I try to keep in mind with home improvements that it can be that same spirit of vanity, but it's still nice to have things comfortable. The firepit is a good investment because of the fun we can have out there, marshmallows and all. I also like to make the house inviting, so it can be a place people feel comfortable. If they don't like dogs, they are rather out of luck though:)

I do know that there is this lust to have more....a lust that never is fulfilled. The more we have, the more we want, type of thing. More, bigger, newer, the latest. It's like filling up a colander with liquid, it will never fill up and be satisfied. It's like getting a new phone, and loving it, until the day you start hating it, ha. But we can't take this stuff with us, and if my heart is just in it all, wound up in it, then I am not seeing things clearly, not working on the important things enough.

Sometimes when I see really nice houses, I wonder if the families that live there are happy. I think, "If I lived there, I would be happy.", I mean, how can you have any problems or trials if you lived in a really nice house? :)

Yesterday, I swept and mopped, and Jonathan vacuumed. The girls and cousin Dani were outside a lot, making a new fort out by the creek, and learning new tricks on the trampoline. Camille came in to get something and her feet were covered in mud. She just needed to run and get it quick, jeepers Mom. I made her dip her feet in a bowl of water and wipe them off. Yes, they were bare feet out there in the 55 degree weather, Central New Yorkers after a long winter. The dogs needed baths after keeping them company out there, too. (And you should see the lovely shanty out there by the creek...they scavenge and find these things...and I gave them a tin bucket to add to it...but they had so much fun...)

My coffee cup is sad and empty. The washer and dryer are humming and chugging, Jonathan is doing his own laundry. I need to get moving too.

Monday, March 27, 2017

the real honest truth....

This is what the living room looks like some mornings, when Puppy has been ripping things up. Ripping things up is her favorite. Shopping bags, cereal boxes, stuffed animals, she's not picky. She was looking for something under that rug, too, I guess. The truth about puppies, besides being irresistibly cute, is:
1. They are slobs.
2. They are pooping/peeing machines. Sunny gets confused when it's snowy on the deck, and thinks it's a great place to poop. The snow is now melting, and voila, five piles of poop on my deck! It's not MY favorite to clean it up, but that's what I had to do this fine morning. (housebreaking them is no picnic! Sunny is fine during the day now, she has learned to whine or bark at the door, but sometimes she still leaves a present near the door during the night, what a thing to have to face in the morning!) But she is getting better and better.
3. They have too much energy. They crash and smash, knock things over, and romp around the house.
4. They like to steal things and run away. When we were matching socks, Sunny had great fun with this. (Thankfully,she's learning to Drop It, with the help of lots of treats and rewards...)
5. They get really really muddy on rainy spring days. Romping through the drainage ditches is also Sunny's favorite.
6. They grow up too fast, ha.
7. They sometimes bring yucky stuff into the house. At exactly 5:03 a.m. on Sunday morning, Little Miss Sunshine brought in a huge bird was hanging out of her mouth, she dropped it when commanded, got her treat, then I had the privilege of disposing of had a huge beak, and one eye looking at me.

So the real honest truth about puppies is they seem to take more patience than we can possibly possess, to the through those first crazy months, then all of the sudden one day you realize that you have a pretty nice dog.

And, the real truth about me...

1. I also am a slob. I like clean, but I also like to drape sweaters on chairs and create stacks of things to go through later.
2. I seriously wish I had a house cleaner. I don't mind cleaning the house every once in a while, but ever single day gets old.
3. Weight loss...ugh. More like the creep...the dreaded creep. But I am not giving up, never ever.
4. Writing is my favorite. Besides snacking, but we know I can't just do THAT.
5. I cannot wear high heels. My feet are wide, perhaps from all the pregnancies, because they were a nice 7 1/2 narrow when I was a teenager. 8 1/2 wide, ugh. It's hard to find comfy shoes, thus I am a Brikenstock girl. From flat comfy Ugg-type boots in the winter, to sandals in the spring, occasionally Birkenstock clogs.
6. I love to bake. That's a dangerous love.
7. Babies...oh, I held my niece's little one the other day, and instant love.

And, the truth about our weekend in the kitchen...last week, I spent lots of time on a huge church gathering we had on Saturday. Wednesday night, shopping for dessert items...Thursday night making white cakes, seven sheet-sized cakes (the huge full sheet pans, the kind that don't fit in regular ovens). That endeavor was a huge crying FAIL. They rose up beautifully, then sunk down, way down, and took forever to bake all the way through...they were nicely golden brown on the outsides, then soupy in the middle, so I had to turn the convection oven down really low and wait for them to bake through. We served them anyway, I hoped that berries and whipped cream would cover a multitude of sins, and they did. Some people actually loved the "cake", it was like a thick brownie-like cookie thing. I mean, they were made withall those pounds of butter, and 48 cups of sugar, so how bad could they be?

The rice krispie treats turned out marvelous though! They had seven packages of Oreo cookies in them, which Char and Cam crunched up for me. They were drizzled with melted chocolate chips, then cut and individually wrapped, 240 of them.

We somehow managed to make that meal for almost six hundred people...300 pounds of ham. I made the glaze with 18 pounds of brown sugar (and honey and orange juice), it was pretty good. Paul and Kim sliced that ham, we glazed it and baked it a bit...we trimmed, wrapped, poked, and baked 600 potatoes. And the green beans...boiled, run under cold water, chilled, then tossed on the griddle with bacon grease, chopped onions, lemon juice, and a bit of crushed red pepper, served with lots of bacon pieces...and rolls...600 rolls, heated in the warmers. The plating crews did a fabulous job of serving it all up with butter and salt and pepper, and sour cream. It was a busy day in the kitchen, but the meal came out wonderful. Emily was the manager, and she kept it together, and we had great fun.

Last night, we had ribs. They cooked on low in the oven for four hours, then slathered in barbecue sauce, for another hour on high. We also had fresh strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries with real whipped cream (no sugar!), served as parfaits (some of the kids had strawberry yogurt with theirs)(and confectioner's sugar sprinkled on the whipped cream). We sort of celebrated Kathryn's birthday, and she wanted fruit instead of a cake.

Here's a really good story:
My oldest daughter Emily is a lovely girl, she loves reading good books, writing stories (she has a few health themed short stories published in, "The Healing Muse"). She is also a hard worker. She has been a registered nurse for years now, but in addition to working full time, she has gotten her Bachelor's degree, and now is working on her Master's. It takes a long time to fit those classes in while working, plus all the other things Em does, like catering and doing trips and activities with the kids. So...she is considering cutting back her work hours at the promptings of her sisters Abigail and Mirielle, who are also her housemates. They have offered to help her financially and in any other way they can, so she can be a full time student, still working her nursing job at the hospital, but with less hours, so that she can finish her college in one year instead of dragging it out! That means in just one year, she will be a Nurse Practitioner! I think Abby and Mirielle are wonderful sisters. It just makes my heart full.

So anyway...the truth about my mornings...when I get up at the butt-crack of dawn, as my girls like to say, with Duke barking, and there is NO present near the door, it's a good day. When there ARE messes to clean up, it's not necessarily a BAD day, but.

Duke. His days are numbered and since I have already covered this topic too many times, I am not going to go there, but I can't take it. Being a dog owner isn't all sunshine and rainbows when they get old and decisions have to be made. I would rather he just pass away in his sleep, but he's just so feeble. One day he was standing in front of the fake fireplace barking. Just barking at it. And he gets a bit growly and snappy sometimes because he can't hear, and can't see so well either.

Oh, and here's a truth: Our sweet kitty Kettler is going to have ANOTHER batch of kittens! Yes, I know, irresponsible pet owners, who don't spay their cat. But there's a method to their madness, my kids' madness. Suzanne owns the Kettler, she is Suzanne's kitty. She has the responsibility of getting her spayed. I will pay for it, but Suze has to look into some of the low-payment options out there, and she has. But after the last kittens were all given away with us not keeping one, which considered a wonderful thing, as we need another cat like we need an elephant. But the kids do not see it that way. Three dogs, two cats...they NEED a kitten. They are all on the same page on this. After this litter, the cat will get "fixed", they promise. But we need to keep one. NEED. Who am I to argue against this? I don't want to be the really bad guy, and I also like kittens, having a kitten with Labs is adorable. They are so gentle with cats, even Sunny. Oh dear, am I crazy?

Anyway. Yesterday I took these nice girls to the mall...Sonja, my niece Grace, and Evelyn.

Sonja wanted a new jean skirt, which she found. Then we went to Forever21, which had a sale on clearance, buy one get one free. I found these sweet little white lacy dresses for the little girls and cousin Dani...$7.99, but but with the buy one get one, they were four dollars! (Sonja also got a four dollar skirt) After just H&M and Forever 21, we were done. I don't much like malls with their high prices and bright lights and people looking so lost. I mean, it's like, "Let's go to the mall and buy clothes to wear to the mall!" I would rather shop thrift stores, or maybe just cruise the clearance racks. Yesterday I rather wanted to get home, I had ribs in the oven...and older kids coming over to visit.

I took the girls for milkshakes at McDonalds, which turned into some chicken nuggets too, and you have to have some fries! Not me though, I had a few nuggets and an iced coffee.

I have truly enjoyed the comments, the stories, the introductions. :) Any more?

Friday, March 24, 2017

greener grass and rose colored glasses...

Um, don't tell the school district, but today has been a homeschooler's dream. The teacher was up partying all night, also known as baking cakes for like 400 - 600 people, which turned, awful, but that's a whole 'nother story. So the teacher stayed up too late, and ate too many cake scraps, which made sleep just out of reach. Teacher got to bed around one, knowing she had to get up at 6:30 to get sweet daughter Evelyn Joy to school for a science field trip. The knowledge that one has to get up early somehow inhibits the elusive sleep from washing over me. Then...when I blissfully nod, Duke decides to declare himself to the world, just a few intermittent barks of loneliness, spaced apart almost scientifically to when I nod back off again. I actually imagine myself sighting him in, on just an airsoft rifle, of course! Just give him a little BE QUIET zonk.

Evelyn arrives in my room, MOM, YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO DRIVE ME TO SCHOOL! WE HAVE TO LEAVE IN FIVE MINUTES! This is not my favorite way to start the day.

I drank coffee on the way there, and regaled her with my woeful cake tales. Um yeah. They rose up nicely, then fell flat...baked up lovely on the outsides, and the insides were still jiggly...we turned the oven way down, and waited ever so impatiently as the night got older and the cakes seemed just weird. They tasted fine, I mean, we HAD to trim the edges where they over-rose. But they are going to be more like blonde brownies than white cake...but served with berries and whipped cream...

Anyway, teacher did something teacher never does: went back to bed. The night was unbelievably short, and it's a cold and dreary day, windy and overcast, a day for sleeping a little bit. Jonathan agreed to get up and stay out here with the puppies, so they didn't bark in utter loneliness...and I took a one hour nap.

(Duke can't sleep in our room. It's like taking a nap with a toddler who has eaten too much sugar. He's antsy and keeps me awake)(and I think he likes being with the other dogs)

Anyway. Teacher spent too much time with two small children on the arms of her chair, looking at houses for sale. We like to critique ever aspect, and especially like to look at the really expensive ones. We found one we can really fit into, and we want it, but unfortunately, it ain't gonna happen, ha. Those kitchens though!

For some reason, Miss Cam is having milk and a chocolate cupcake, and Char is mauling poor Sunny, who looks tolerant, but not thrilled.

We are going to do some more intense school, in a bit. It's just one of those days...and we have stacks and stacks of new library books! Yesterday in the library, the girls were exclaiming, "I just love books!", nodding in agreement with each other, and jumping up and down. That makes this homeschooling thing worth it.

We also went to the dreaded Target yesterday, to get a few gifts for Kathryn. I bought her some sandals, which she thought were going to be pretty useless in Norway, ha. We also brought lunch up to her, she is staying in Oswego this week. It was only McDonalds, but hey, a side salad with a few nuggets...they all got $2 chocolate shakes too, oh how I longed, but didn't dare...she took her lunch hour when we got there, but then had to get back to work.

Lately I have been googling things like airline tickets to California, and Seattle, then more reasonable, hotel prices for just maybe a long weekend in July, maybe in Cape Cod. Paul and I need a little get-away again, don't you think?

The story unfolding in London is horrific. Local news isn't much better, here an investigator in the DA's office allegedly hit an 18 year old boy while driving, and didn't even stop. The boy was taken off life support after family and friends said their goodbyes, and now this former investigator, (he has been fired), is in big trouble. He knows the law, but couldn't apply it to himself, he was probably pretty drunk. Sad and tragic on all sides.

Sunny is in her perch on the back of the couch in front of the window. I don't like that she picked that spot, but she really likes it, and it's cute, and oh well, she wins. Sometimes you have to just pick your battles. Having eleven daughters has taught me that. I would say it's like this with the girls: 90% of the time, keep your mouth shut. No matter if you are right and they are wronger than the day is long. When you, as the mom, feel the most like straightening them out and using your God-given Mom Power, as in BECAUSE I SAID SO, it's usually not the right time. The right time is pretty much when things are calm and good, and you can talk in a peaceful way, after all the anger and the right-ness and the impatience has burned off, ha. There are exceptions to every rule of course, especially where Momming is concerned, but usually the first reaction is a wrong reaction. There is a time and place for putting the foot down, and I am still learning how to fine-tune this skill, my poor older kids! Oh, to get a Re-Do of life!

I do go on and on sometimes, hampered from getting up from this comfy chair by the knowledge that letting sleeping dogs lie is better than putting my foot rest down and waking them all up, letting them out, then wiping off 12 muddy paws...and the coffee is particularly yummy this chilly morning.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

happy birthday to kathryn, and dollhouse people go to jail....

My Kathryn Grace is 19 today! Kap is our tenth child, the second of the five-girls-in-a-row-in-five-years. (those girls are now 20, 19, 17, 16, 14 -almost 15)(Margaret was 5 years 5 months when Sonja was it was Margaret 5, Kathryn 4, Evelyn 2, Suzanne 14 months...when Sonja was born) (I had too much fun with these girls!)

Anyway, Miss Kathryn is staying at Margaret's place this week, Margaret is in California training for a new job. Kathryn is working full time, and saving up money for her plane ticket to Norway, she is staying there for a year.

We are heading to the library today, then to visit Kathryn up in that small city by Lake Ontario.

But first, some pictures from our fun day yesterday with the twins...

Mr. Sebastian playing with Sunny.

Miss Linnea playing dollhouse...I feel bad that I didn't get a cuter pic of her, she is a darling. She gives bear hugs! They both do:)

These dollhouse people were in jail...

These were their visitors.

I think a successful playing day is when the whole house is involved, ha, when their imaginations just take over. They also played a huge game of hide and seek, and then colored pictures. Char and Cam were teaching the twins how to write their names.

This is not a good morning for blogging. I have had texts from Kathryn, Paul, Mali, and Eleanor...all good things, but. We are going to look after Lydia this evening...well, Paul and some of the kids are. I am going to be baking cakes for 400+ people, and making rice krispie treats with Oreos for 200. Evelyn and I went shopping for the ingredients last night. Math skills come in handy when you're multiplying recipes by 20! (and figuring out how many pounds of flour you need)

The little girls are supposed to be showering and getting something to eat, so I can help them pick out something nice to wear out and about. They are in reality dragging their cute little feet, they say it's cold and they don't want to get moving. Jonathan has been up since dawn, he likes his free time before "school" starts in the morning.

I love the Life Stories, please send more! I am going out on a limb here, my friends, asking for these! It's like having a party and hoping the people you invited show up! It's so interesting!

Well, my day is turning out to be a busy one...library...Paul ordered a book he wants, we have books due back, and we really need a new supply. Then we need another bag of puppy chow, and I want to run into the dreaded Target because they have those solar lights on sale, and I love them...the girls like to make light/jar/DIY projects with them for summertime. And I want to get a gift for Kathryn.

The clock is ticking, Miss Lydia will be here in the afternoon so we have to get going so we can get home...

Here are some other random things going on here...

The three high school girls are doing well, getting good grades. Evelyn Joy, my 11th grader, is going on a science field trip tomorrow and has to be at the school earlier than the bus would get her, so I will be getting up and driving her. She has a driver's license, but the school requires lots of paperwork for a kid to be allowed to drive to school. Suzanne is in 10th grade, and seems to be doing okay even with some of her "friends" not speaking to her anymore. Sonja K. is in 9th grade, and is working hard to offset the week she took off to accompany us to Florida.

Homeschooling is going well. Yesterday the kids each had to teach the others about a book they read. So they learned about and discussed earthquakes and shifting plates (we don't like that Aaron lives in San Fran, :)),the Titanic (Jon's cruise is over, so it's okay now, ha), and simple science. It makes learning fun, and when we google any questions that come up, we learn a lot.

Weight loss...I am, as always, re-committing. I spent a good hour the other night reading Paleo diet success stories from Mark's Daily Apple. These people suffered from their grain heavy diets, and feel better as well as had excellent weight loss results from eating more meat, veggies, healthy fats, and reducing fruits, starches, and eliminating sugars and processed foods. I have to make more of an effort to eat clean each day, and it's getting better again. Tortilla chips: no. Rice: just a spoonful. Popcorn: um...this SHOULD be a no, but me loves it. So it's: way less often. Ice cream: I don't eat it unless it's the homemade stuff from a farm-to-dairy place, which is almost never, but I do plan to go to one this spring. Bread: no. Occasionally Ezekial bread, which is from sprouted grains. I am trying to concentrate on what I CAN eat. The other night I had a huge bowl of spinach, with green beans, then some chicken and just a tablespoon of rice sprinkled on top. When I was losing weight nicely, I ate a lot of spinach.

Anyway. It's always a challenge, but I feel better when I eat cleanly, and I feel more in control, and ha, in my life, with all these teenagers, not much is in my control...which is okay, especially because I know that God has it, but still.

Here I sit when I have places to go and birthday presents to buy. stories!!!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

your life's story....

No one wants to hear a stranger's life story. Except for me, I want to hear it. I'm one of those ladies who gets in these conversations with people at the store, and my kids just raise their eyebrows. Maybe I don't know how to gently extract myself from their tales, maybe I'm actually interested, maybe a little of both.

People are just lonely sometimes. When you're old or infirm, or even a bit poor, it can take tons of effort to just get out the door and out into the world, and if it only happens occasionally, it's a big deal. These people need socializing. I know a little bit about this, being a not really stay-at-home-mom. You do talk to your kids, but I did crave talking to actual adults sometimes.

Anyway, every single person has a story. Not all of them are earth shattering, but all are interesting in their own way. I sit here every morning, blabbing on and on about minor details of a normal life here in central New York favorite things to yap about are:
1. Traveling
2. Coffee
3. Trying to lose weight
4. The kids
5. Bargains
6. Adventures
7. Home decorating ideas or projects
8. The Labradors
9. The marriage
10. Memories of growing up

I get comments sometimes from readers, reminding me that people actually do read this, and I love it!

But here's the thing: I want to hear YOUR story. If you have a blog, let me know! If you don't, tell me about yourself! I want to hear YOUR story.

Here's my story for today...

Kathryn bought me a new laptop/Chromebook. It's shiny and new, and the screen doesn't turn black at the slightest jolt. There are no missing keys,and when you plug it in to charge it, it just charges without having to hold the charger just the right way. I absolutely love it.

Here's a fun thing: Kohl's has had 30% off online orders, free shipping, and a $10 off coupon for $40 more of kids' clothes. The clothes are on sale already (good thing because their regular prices are way too high). Anyway, I ordered Char, Cam, and their best buddy cousin Dani, these pretty princessy dresses. This was very exciting!

Isn't it pretty? But nice dresses don't come free! Yesterday, we cleaned out the laundry room! Our laundry room ain't what it used to be, with the mountain of bedding in the doorway, me never ever being able to get to the bottom of it...our old washing machine was a nightmare, it rarely spun out without me giving it a spin by hand, and loads had to go through several times before they spun enough water out to be able to go in the dryer, it took all day to do a load sometimes, and when there were lots of small children and lots of bedding to wash, and of course the clothes and towels...and socks.

This isn't even the white ones, ha.

Anyway, I enlisted the kids to help me get this done yesterday...sorting and straightening, rooting through and bagging up clothes too small, ect.

Today we were going to go to the science museum, but it's so cold out! 16 degrees this fine snowy spring morning! So the twins are coming over to play later. We have school to do first. Tomorrow, library trip.

Kids are up and busy and I need to get moving again...

Monday, March 20, 2017

strange happenings....and mysteries...

When you want to go to see "Beauty and The Beast", and all the firetrucks are at the theater...Miss Charlotte Claire. We didn't miss it though, we simply drove to the other side of town to the mall theater, with Mirielle, Camille, and cousin Dani.

I skipped dinner so I could have some popcorn...we got the refill size, and when I finally got the nerve to tiptoe out of the movie to get it refilled, there was no one there at the counter! Dang it! We didn't really need anymore, but still...there WERE five of us, and it WAS dinner, ha.

The movie was really enjoyable. I liked it. I know there was some controversy, but I don't care about that. We liked it.

Anyway, on the way home from the movie, there were all the same firetrucks and rescue vehicles parked on the highway, traffic diverted onto a back road, lots of rescue vehicles, ect...I hope it wasn't a bad accident.

As for the mysteries...Miss Cam is all into solving mysteries lately. She has this little handbag with a notebook and a magnifying glass, and she asks questions and looks for clues. She asked me last night if I had lost anything she could help me find...I told her my phone charger has been missing for a few months, but I doubted she would find it. Well. She found it! Within like five minutes! Then she asked Paul, with her little notebook out, pencil poised...he said yes, his knife. Well. She found that too, right away. She asked a few questions, started searching, and voila!

So when I went to the little grocery store in town, I bought her some ice cream bars as payment. (I went specifically for half and half, we are too spoiled to drink milk in the coffee...then I went out to breakfast this morning with my older brother and my sister, and the place only had Coffee-Mate, which is sugary and fake, so we had our coffee...)(but it was a really nice time!)

Then today, I found some mysteries to solve online, kids' stories with clues, ect.

Today was a good school day. Jonathan aced his mid-year exam, Char finished half of hers and did really well, and today Camille finished hers, and also did really well. We discovered she didn't know how to multiply fractions, so we had some lessons, and she picked it up in no time, as well as the concept of converting mixed numbers to improper fractions and back again. It was really fun, I enjoy being in on the true joy of learning with them.

Tomorrow is gymnastics class, which we missed last week because of the storm.

Danielle is spending the night, because by the time the movie was over, it was late...they are still awake in there, having a good old time.

We were thinking of going to the pool today, but I got caught up in planning for a big upcoming church feast...six hundred people, 300 pounds of spiral sliced ham. I ordered it from Wegmans, the meat department guy is a gem, so pleasant and helpful. This Saturday, and guess where I will be? Uh-huh, in the kitchen. Kim and I are thinking of making cupcakes for dessert...600+ cupcakes...will we go crazy after like 200? We'll bake them in the church kitchen, the convection oven is faster and has six racks. But still, it will be...interesting.

Life sure is interesting...

Sunday, March 19, 2017

lazy sunday afternoon....

You would never know that Paul and I have sixteen kids. He's watching something on his tablet with the basketball game playing on the television, and here I sit...sipping my coffee. The kids are all busy...Sonja went to see, "Beauty and the Beast" with some friends...(Mirielle is taking the little girls tomorrow night). Evelyn took Jonathan, Charlotte Claire, and Camille to take all the bottles and cans to the redemption center. And so on.

We got up and went to church this fine morning, then came home and played with the puppies a bit, Sunny loves the snow. Then I went for a nice walk...40 degrees and sunny, feels wonderful!

There is to be taco salad for dinner, and I skipped lunch, so I am thinking of heading into the kitchen....

Saturday, March 18, 2017

an afternoon rest...

These happened yesterday...and yes, they're all gone. Thirteen of my kids were here yesterday! I wanted to take a picture, but a few of them immediately shut that down, I mean, Mirielle had worked all day long and stopped in for way did she want a picture taken. Emily, Abigail, Mirielle, Joseph, Mali, Margaret, Kathryn, Evelyn, Suzanne, Sonja, Jonathan, Charlotte Claire, and Camille were all here, along with Paul and I, Margaret's husband Adrian, and Mali's little Lydia. We had our corned beef dinner, and Paul made venison chili.

Tonight, the girls are having friends over. I made chocolate chip cookie dough, still have to bake some, and we're making pizzas.

I don't feel like doing anything, btw. Duke woke me up at 6 a.m., and I knew I wouldn't be able to go back to sleep because I had to be up a bit after seven anyway, to work at the college basketball game at the Dome. So my feet hurt, not to complain, but listen...the stadium is all cement floors, and we had to stay open until the game was over, and of course we had to open way before game time to prepare food, ect. We sold pretzels and popcorn, hot dogs and coneys, sausage subs and pizza, and nachos....cotton candy, caramel corn, candy, water, soda. The lines were long, it was busy. By the time we got home and I walked up the driveway, my feet were longing to be up, here in the comfy chair.

Now I am sitting down for the second time, the cookie dough is made, I cleaned up a bit...but I have to go bake, and make pizzas. Is it just me or does my life revolve around food?

But first, something very cool: Kathryn bought me a new laptop/chromebook! It's coming soon in the mail! I almost cried when she told me, I don't want her spending her money on me, she has a new job, and is only working until July when she goes to Norway for a year, she should be saving up. My little old Samsung Chromebook has seen better days....the screen has to be in a certain position or it goes black, it's missing keys, the puppy chewed up the charger so it has this wonky one that only charges it when it feels like it. One false move, and it shuts off. So Kathryn surprised me and ordered one for me.

She wanted to wait until it arrived, but the other girls were so excited to tell me, she couldn't wait.

So tonight they are having some friends over, and I want to make it nice for them, so I am reluctantly getting out of my chair...only my feet are reluctant, the rest of me likes doing fun stuff like making cookies, ha.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

back home again...

Paul is coming home today! I get to pick him up from the airport later this afternoon. I would like to make a quick trip to the small city first, to get some groceries...we are scraping the bottom of the bin of doggy kibble, and are running out of essentials, like half and half for the coffee. Our fresh fruit and veggies are diminishing, we are almost at the point where the teenagers stand there with the 'fridge open saying, "There's nothing to eat."

I would like to get the house spic and span and spotless before Paul comes home, I don't know why. Maybe it's because when you've been gone, staying in nicely vacuumed hotel rooms without iron water stains in the sinks, you notice more clutter and dust when you get home. Not that we have those things, ha.

Maybe it's because I want to pretend like I'm a busy girl. Maybe because it's just less stressful walking into a clean house, at least for me. When the kids have it nice when I come home from somewhere, I love it.

And me...I would like to lose at least ten pounds before this afternoon. I have to wash my hair, I already showered this morning but Kathryn was needing me to drive her over to Emily's house in town because she works from home, online, and our internet is sloooow. So I didn't wash my hair in the shower because it's cold out, and we had to leave. Good planner, I am.

It's been a busy morning, for reals, as Kathryn says. I swept and mopped, I washed up the counters and did some laundry. I shoveled some of the driveway. We have like three feet of snow out there, the only vehicle that is shoveled out is the truck. Abigail gets home from her cruise tomorrow, and her car is simply snowed in. I widened the pathway a bit, throwing the shovels of snow onto the snowbank on the clear side of the driveway, Sunny there to dive under and catch the snow. She loves when you throw the whole shovel of snow on her! She jumps to catch it, she dives "underwater" in the snow, she wags and smiles and just delights in it. I want to wack her one because she also wrecks the snowbanks, sliding all that snow back into the driveway.

The good thing about Sunny being such a little helper when I shovel is that she gets tired. She's very cute and darling when she is running around the house with a sock in her mouth that she's not supposed to have, but when I'm trying to do something important, like sit here and's nice to have her snoring on the couch.

But as with all good things, yeah, I have to get up and get the girls ready and go out into the cold windy day. The snow has stopped for now, but the wind is still blowing all that snow into the roads, but the truck has four wheel drive, so I should be okay to go to the store.

Spring is going to be so sweet this year....

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

cookies and snowstorms....

These cookies are better than bakery cookies. They are simply amazingly yummy.

from out my window...

Kathryn and Sunny....

So Snow Day #2 is still nice and cozy.

Tomorrow, Paul is supposed to fly in from Ireland, the snow and wind should die down by then. I hope so. We shoveled the driveway three times today, and some of the cars are absolutely buried still. Kathryn got the snowblower started but it kept turning back off, it simply balked at all that snow. The lady next store came over and plowed the end of the driveway after the snowplow filled it with even more snow, that was so kind of her.

It's getting old, it really is. The snow is blowing sideways. You can go out side and not even be able to tell anyone had been out there an hour before. Snowing and blowing. I don't mind getting bundled up and going out in it though, it's kind of cool.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

not even OLDER!!!

I was just sitting here in a rare quiet moment...thinking about how much I love our little fake-y fireplace...the fake flames dance, it throws some decent heat, and the coziness factor is right up there, on par with cinnamon rolls baking in the oven.

But, as I had that thought of how much I really like the thing, I had a vision of putting it under the deck in the future. You know, scrapping it. Under The Deck is the holding room, like county jail on the way to prison, for things heading to the dump. Because, like all things we love and cherish, it will break someday, and we'll get rid of it.

As I had that vision, that little snippet of some day in the far future, hopefully far future...I realized that if this thing lasts ten years, I'll be putting it under the deck when I'm 61. And I cannot even reconcile with being FIFTY ONE YET.

Anyway. If we are so lucky, we do get old.

And I'm watching Little Miss Sunshine with Evelyn now...the kids have a second snow day tomorrow!!!

snow day!!!

But yesterday was NOT a snow day! We went to the childrens' museum!

Miss Char and Miss Cam in the butterfly garden...

Miss Mali Rose with Lydia Eleanor...

Lyddie Lydster...

There was an old woman,
Who lived in a shoe,
She had so many children,
She didn't know what to do.
But they grew up and away,
So to the museum of play,
She went with only two.

(Charlotte Claire took the picture) (And my #7 child came with me, with little Lydia:))

This is the optical illusion house that makes you look smaller. Hmm.

We had a nice day, it was a far cry from the old days when I dragged 12 or 15 kids through that museum...or rather they dragged me. Stopping to nurse the baby...oh good times. My two little girls are angels, they didn't complain a bit that we were rather on Miss Lydia's schedule...she got a bit tired, so we just left instead of pushing it. In the old days, we couldn't always be so accomodating of nap time, there were the rest of the kids to consider. How oh how did we manage, I do wonder.

It was a really pleasant day with though.

And today, snow day!!!

The big tree has started to bud, and is now covered in snow. The wind is picking up, and it's chilly.

Homemade cinnamon rolls happened, Evelyn and I made them. Can you say the word, "bliss"? Can you guess who strayed from their low carb lifestyle? uh huh. With hot coffee, with Emily here to visit, with kids home from school because of the blizzard swirling around the house...Em got out of work early, she works as a nurse in the city at the hospital, but today she was working at a dr. office in the small city, clinical for her future degree as a Nurse Practitioner. The office closed early, so she stopped in.

So coziness happened so far today.

Last evening, dear Evelyn grilled burgers for us, out in the dark windy evening, on the deck.

My dinner...oh heavenly yumminess.

This fine day I talked to my son Samuel from Washington D.C., then to my son Aaron from California. It was 40 degrees in D.C., and 65 in California. harrumph.

This fine day started too early, again, thank you Dukester. 6:11, on a snow day! After the dogs went out, came in, had a treat...I dragged Duke down to my room, and he snuggled right nicely into Paul's side of the bed. He slept there until almost nine o'clock, which is just what the doctor ordered, ha. I have felt so sleep deprived. Evelyn already had the coffee on and the cinnamon bun recipe out when I got out of the comfy bed.

Now it's time to think about making dinner...

Monday, March 13, 2017

uneasy weather....

Never trust a March snowstorm. 24 years ago today, we had a surprise nor'easter hit. When I say, "surprise", I mean SURPRISE! Without smartphones and laptops, our weather forecasts were limited to nightly television meteorologists, and ha, we didn't have a t.v. back then, so our family got the daily newspaper, which yes, was delivered on a dinosaur.

So that big storm 24 years ago gridlocked the traffic in the city...the people got out of work early, all at the same time, and the storm stopped the vehicles in their tracks...snow was falling at almost 4 inches an hour at one point. Paul left work and got as far as the end of the road, and had to just park and walk...he came in the door so covered in snow, it reminded us of when Pa in "Little House" had gotten caught in a blizzard.

The fun thing about that storm was that my mother got snowed in with us. To pass the time, at one point, we decided to have a poetry contest (no television, we didn't get one until a few years later). Paul's poem was surprisingly the best, and it was great fun.

The wind howled around the house and we got several feet of snow in two days.

Now, forecasters are predicting another big one, the worst snow of the season, right when we could almost taste spring. I have already put away winter decorations! There are tulips on the counter!

With Paul in Ireland, somehow I just feel uneasy about this storm, like I need to prepare. If power goes out, we lose water too, so we need to fill up some jugs and pitchers. We should go to the store and get some food that's easy to eat if we lose power, too. And dig out some firewood, as if I could make a fire in the woodburner furnace without smoking us out of the house, ha.

Today we aren't going to just sit around and wait for the snow, we are going to the childrens' museum of play! It's one of my favorite places, and we are going with Mali and little Lydia.

First, I have to go take care of a ticket, poor Evelyn got pulled over by the state police the other night for having a headlight out. She was driving Abigail's car (Abby is on a cruise with Grandma). Ev had no idea the headlight was out. It has to be fixed and signed off from a car fixer/mechanic or police officer and postmarked today, mailed in to court. Evelyn was upset about being pulled over, and I was like, "Seriously, I have to take care of this today, I am going to the museum!" But that's life, isn't it? The officer could have given us a little more time, but I guess he thinks we have nothing better to do.

I do have better things to do, which is why it's a mystery to me why I am sitting here in my comfy chair with the fake fireplace roaring it's fake sound with it's fake flames dancing, spewing out wonderfully warm real heat. The dogs are snoring now, and it's peaceful. I have to wake the girls and pack our lunches, but I have a little bit of time.

Yesterday, I went to the Lowe's Home Improvement store with Mirielle. She is updating her bathroom. I had a gift card from some paint I bought back in the fall, and Cam has been bugging me to use it, she was afraid it would expire or I would lose it, poor child. So, I bought a new stove fan/hood/exhaust thing. It looks so much better! Adrian, Margaret's husband, installed it as soon as I brought it in.

I still want to do more projects here, but where to start? I want to sew with the little girls, paint the counter tops, paint the cabinets...

On Friday, we puttered around and did lots of art projects. The little girls love to paint things. I painted an unfinished mirror that I used a 55% off coupon on in the craft store, with white enamel paint, it is hung on the wall behind the far couch, and I like it. I chalk painted the little ceramic toothbrush holders we have had in the bathroom for like 20 years. I chalk painted some blue mason jars, to put flowers in, and they look just how I wanted them to. Char painted a little crate, Cam painted a wood tray.

So Margaret and Adrian have a puppy. She's three months old, her name is Bunny, and she's a Lab/Boxer mix, I think. She's adorable and very well behaved. She comes to visit frequently, and runs around with Sunny. Suri tolerates her, Duke doesn't like her at all, I think he feels threatened, so he growls when she comes close. She's learning to just leave him alone. Anyway, Bunny is not quite potty trained, so we have to pick up all the throw rugs when she comes to visit. She gets excited and stops and does a little reminds me of Sunny just a few months ago. Overall, it's nice when they bring her over, because dogs need friends too.

So Duke woke me up at 12:30 last night, right as I was falling asleep. I let them all out, and when they came in, I gave Duke one of his doggy arthritis pills, took him into my room, and actually lifted him right up into the bed, practically covered him up and sang him a song. He slept until seven this morning. Paul will have to sleep on the floor when he gets home. :)

Yeah, I need to go pack some lunches. I hope the snow holds off until later tonight so we get home safe and sound.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

crazy in love....

33 years today! Happy Anniversary to us! I told him he lucked out this year, he was in India for Valentine's Day, and now Ireland for our anniversary.

It's a work, marriage is. I can be so certain of what he's thinking, of what he means, and react according to that without even giving him a chance. Ha, I am not saying I'm wrong though, just that maybe, just maybe, I will be one of these days. :) Seriously though, it is a work. Feelings feel so real, and when I perceive I have been wronged, my instinct is to fire back. Or put up a wall, to protect myself. And really, he doesn't mean anything, or I maybe misunderstood, or maybe, just maybe, I am the one being a brat. Not likely, but stranger things have happened. I mean, the other day before he left for his trip, he said he had to go to Walmart to get the outlet plugs that are compatible in Ireland. I offered to go for him, to save him a Walmart trip, he hates that place. He laughed, and declined the offer. He said, "You'll get the wrong one and I'll have to go back anyway." Murder has been committed for lesser offenses I tell you. He was only teasing me, but I felt like he was calling me stupid. I started pouting, then I realized what a waste of time it was, because for one thing, he had already left for Walmart...and the other thing is, well, it's pointless.

I love him. I really really do. He loves me too. Here's the thing...we were so busy with babies and kids and teenagers and messes and maintenance and potty training and showers and baths and laundry and meals and shopping...for years and years and years...we rubbed elbows and were tempted to get on each other's nerves, but somehow, through the grace of God, we didn't let our love grow cold in it all. And honestly, there were times when I know I was no prize. I was fat, I was tired, I was frazzled. I love my life, but it hasn't been without challenges. I would clean one room, and the other ones would turn even more tornado-ish. Then it would be time to make dinner when I was up to my elbows in sorting laundry, and then there would be things to go to in the evenings and the kids all had to be dressed neatly and and and. It hasn't been an easy trip through life. The blessings definitely far outweigh the struggles, but my point here is that our married life hasn't been a Disney movie, played out in a tropical paradise.

I think a successful marriage has to be in the framework of a commitment. Like, no matter what, we are together. There has to be respect. I have always felt that he respected me, even when he teased about me not getting the right pluggy thing. ha. There has to be self acknowledgement, and there has to be forgiveness. And kindness. When I am not really feeling the love from him, even though I know it's there somewhere, I have found that I can be the one to just be good, give a hug, smile at him, whatever.

Anyway. Today we went to the airport with Jonathan and Abigail, they made it down to Florida and are with Grandma now, leaving in the morning with her for their cruise. Charlotte Claire, Camille, and I went to the fabric store...we sat there and looked through pattern books, and I let them each choose a dress pattern, with no zippers, please, ha. Then we looked at the fabric, which has gotten so pricey! We found some we liked, that was on clearance too. We looked around the store a bit...we came across some lovely overpriced lanterns, and I asked the girls, "If these are 49.99 and are on sale for 40% off, what do we do?" Camille said, "But one!" (I meant, "How do we go about figuring out how much they are...ha. (round to fifty, five times 6, since we would pay 60%, and get thirty...)(but of course we would never pay that much))

We went to the craft store too, I let them choose some wood things to paint. We got new fake flowers, and a few candles...they love the battery candles in their room.

We went to Aldi for half and half and chocolate and green peppers and cashews and almond milk.

Then...home. We were really hungry but are trying not to eat out so home we went...

Duke wakes me up too early, so I really should sign off and get to sleep. It has been a really good day.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

where's wednesday?

This is today after the pool! It was SO nice to get in that water and swim! Why oh why don't I go more often? The kids loved it too. Jonathan was with Margaret and Adrian, but we had little Davian with us for the day. The only problem with swimming is it makes me hungry, ha.

Yesterday, I worked out...and when I say, "worked out", you may envision something a tiny bit more intense than what my exercise routine is at this time of my life, as in HA. I can go down about an inch with my push-ups, can't even do a sit-up, so I lie on my back and lift my heels off the floor, keeping my legs straight, and lift them right into the air...that pulls those abs good. I lift my ten pound weights, and do some aerobic things, and stretches. It's not earth shattering, but it's a start.

Converse day...before we left for gymnastics yesterday.

We had a corned beef dinner tonight...cabbage, baked potatoes, carrots, and green beans. Mirielle and Margaret came over, and it was nice...but in the back of my mind was that I had to help Jonathan pack...he's leaving tomorrow for his cruise to Mexico/Caribbean with Grandma and Abigail.

So, tomorrow we are going to the airport. I am bringing Char and Cam with me, so we can go to the fabric store on the way home to get dress patterns...I want to teach them to sew.

Anyway...the days fly by. Paul is setting in over in Ireland. Aaron called today from California, and I talked to Samuel this week too, and also Benjamin from Washington state. I like keeping in touch with my boys. If I were rich, I would use all my money to fly here and there to visit them. And maybe another trip to Jamaica with Paul. I really want to go see Aaron...he's going to be moving into a house with a pool. And visiting Ben and Ashley and Anya is on my list too. Samuel will be home before we know it, but I will be going down to Washington D.C. to pick him up.

Ah well...we are going to miss Jonny around here next week.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

23 years ago today....

Or rather tomorrow, to make this story easier to tell....

I had a baby. She was the most beautiful little girl. I was induced for her right on my due date because a stress test indicated she was...ha, stressed? So I checked into the hospital early in the morning, had Pitocin running into my veins all day long. Nothing happened. Contractions were mild, weren't progressing. I talked to my sister on the phone at a bit after four in the afternoon, lamented that things weren't going well...then, oh dear...a whirlwind of horrible contractions, and by five o'clock, I had a baby in my arms! I'm telling you, one push, and she was there. The doctor said, "God wants you to have babies, Della", as she was born.

So Mali Rose (aka Molly Rose) was born, and the very next day was our 10th wedding anniversary. Seven kids...Emily was 9, Abigail 7, Benjamin 5, Mirielle 4, Joseph 2, and Aaron 15 months.

(Mali with Kathryn)

Tonight, Miss Mali is coming over so we can celebrate her birthday. I can't wait to sing Happy Birthday and see little Lydia's face. She can sing, "Twinkle Twinkle". She can say, "All right!" She can give you "five". She can say a very emphatic, "NO". If she decides she doesn't like something you feed her, she'll simply scoop it all out of her mouth, and hand it to you. She's such a tiny thing with a big brave personality, coming into our big crazy house and taking over, ha. We love her...and her mama too, of course.

This morning is a headache morning. I know why, too, or at least I am theorizing that it was the brownies. It's a good thing to blame it on, anyway, I need all the help I can get to stay away from things like that.

It could be from waking up while it was still dark this morning to let the dogs out. I tried to go back to sleep with Duke in my room, but he was having none of was like way back when I had little babies, and I had an antsy toddler in my bed, me trying desperately to sleep, small child trying desperately to wiggle around and sing songs.

Anyway. It's a good day. I am thankful for ibuprofen, and for coffee.

Monday, March 6, 2017

monday madness.....

Where oh where did the day go? We stayed home, we did school, I read, we painted some little birdhouses, they made clay pots to put pencils in. I made chili, rice, and brownies.

Tomorrow, we are not staying home. Jonathan needs a hair trim, and preferably some new sandals for his cruise with Grandma. Yes, his Grandma is taking him on a Caribbean cruise with Abigail! She asked Abigail first, and told her she cold pick a Abigail picked Jonathan!

They are leaving on Thursday, so I will be bringing them to the airport, which makes three trips to the airport in six days...(Paul left for Ireland on Saturday, Kathryn came home from California last night, and now these two are flying to Florida to meet up with Grandma for their cruise).

So tomorrow I need to get some groceries, a birthday present for Mali (she's turning 23!) It seems like she has been grown up for so long already...she graduated from high school a year early, with Aaron, then started nursing school. She got a job as an R.N. right after, because school loans don't wait forever to be paid off! She's a mom, and has all the grown up stuff like car payments.

Mali is coming over tomorrow afternoon, so I will make something nice for dinner, and have something good for dessert. I can't very well bake something when I'm not home, and if I was thinking ahead I would have made something today, so maybe I'll just get ice cream and put together an ice cream pie quick. (quickly is correct, but doesn't "quick" sound better?)

Anyway. Between buying lightbulbs and almond flour and flip flops for Jon and doggy chow and plastic wrap and coffee filters and gymnastics and birthday gifts...tomorrow will be fun.

As much as I wish I could say I didn't eat any brownies, um...well, I had a few. I like the chewiness of the corner pieces. The sad part is that I ate so well today! I had a few meatballs for a late breakfast, four chicken wings for lunch, and chili for dinner. It was enough food, and I almost made it through the day successfully, but dang it if I didn't get fooled into thinking the old One Taste thing. ugh.

Tomorrow is another day. I will behave.

I am very tired and am going to try to sleep early, because obviously Duke will be waking me bright and early. He hasn't been eating all of his food today, morning and evening he left some behind...actually for the last few days. He is also very shaky on his legs. And tonight, he snapped at poor Charlotte, she was trying to get him to wake up and go outside one last time, he can't hear, so he was startled when she shook him awake. I don't know...I am worried he is turning into a know, a dog who might actually bite, just because he can't see well, can't hear, and is old and wobbly. wah. Samuel is getting out of the Army next month, and asked me to please wait until he can come home and say goodbye. I will try my hardest to respect that. But my thinking is that if Duke can survive a harsh New York winter, it seems cruel to put him down when the weather is turning nice...never mind. I can't think about it tonight. Why oh why do we have to love these creatures so much? Is it not enough that I have given my heart to so many children? And Paul of course. But these are ANIMALS. My heart doesn't care about that though. No sir. I love those puppies.

Okay. enough for tonight.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

it started to early, but oh well....

These three couch hogs...(the couch is a hodgepodge of blankets and coverings, they have to be washed quite often...) Duke is the chocolate guy, with half an ear. He's the wake up with the birds dude. This fine morning, I watched the sun come up while they went outside and romped around...they came in, I gave them their treat, told them to go lie down, and got back in my still warm bed. Well. This time, Duke wasn't even quiet for five minutes. I no sooner was covered and comfy, and he started in again. I put a pillow over my head to drown out his intermittent barks. I put two pillows on my head. I put my phone with the white noise on high volume, directly on my ear, with two pillows on top. I could still hear him.

Poor guy. He just wants people around. I think he's going senile. So I just got up. It's not terrible, being up with the birds on Sunday morning. It's not the end of the world to be tired. I gave Duke his medicine, and he's happy as can be. I noticed that as I sit here with my computer, he puts his head up every once and a while and looks around, making sure there's someone out here. I think that perhaps I am going to have to maybe perhaps start having him sleep in my room. I have resistance to that idea, because for years and years and years, I had children who would have rather bunked in with us, and though it wasn't easy, I drew that line. Once they were passed the nursing stage, I wasn't going to have a family bed, ha, there wouldn't have been room for me any more. And that takes something, to put a kid back to bed when they come padding in silently in the middle of the night...more than once, I had myself a good fright when some sweet child or other appeared by my bedside and said into the silence, "I don't feel well!", or, the real heartbreaker, "I had a bad dream..."

I know if I let him sleep in my room, even in a comfy bed on the floor, that dog is going to end up climbing into our bed. And I am not sure I am up for that. Labs are very hoggy, and have absolutely no concept of personal space, ha.

Besides being tired, it's a really nice morning. I have my pumpkin spice coffee, my new warm slippers, a furry blanket, and the house is quiet, now that the puppy has finished with her after-breakfast antics. (She has an energetic streak in the mornings, we have to play fetch, and she roughhouses with Suri so much I have to shoo them back out the door a few times until she settles down.)

Yesterday was the basketball game at the Dome...Emily, Abigail, Margaret, Evelyn, Suzanne, and I all worked. We dropped Paul off at the airport...he's in Ireland for a few weeks. Abigail and I rode together, and after the airport, we went to that magnet bakery...oh dear. Half-moon cookies...big cake-like confections with half chocolate/half vanilla frosting on top. And the eclairs...Camille has been asking for a while to try one, so I figured it would be nice to come home from the game with a little surprise...three huge the bad thing about all this is that no one really liked the eclairs except for Cam...and I heard myself say, "Let me have just a small try of that, Cam...." As if I wouldn't like it or something, who am I kidding? I DID like it, and dang if I didn't help Cam finish it there are two in the box in the refrigerator, and that child better eat both of them for breakfast, or I am going to have to smush them into the garbage can.:)

Anyway. After the game, as tired as I was, I promised Sonja, who had stayed home all day with the little girls, that I would take her somewhere. Evelyn and Suzanne showered and we went out the was almost seven o'clock on a frigid Saturday night, seven degrees(-13.88c), clear and cold.

We hadn't decided on what to do, these five girls and I. It was so cold out, and dark out...we decided our house is cozy and warm, so we ordered a pizza and some wings, went to town and got a movie, "Sully", the one about the pilot who landed the plane in the Hudson river in New York (It was pretty good, and the little girls were very intrigued, after we looked up actual pictures and accounts of it).

So we picked up our pizza and watched our movie, and had a nice cozy evening.

Then, because I had had a long busy day and Paul wasn't home, I read a book for too long into the night. I should know better, I mean, one would think that a Sunday morning would be a nice time to sleep in, but ha.

But life goes by in a blink, and these are good years. There will always be something, won't there?

Friday, March 3, 2017

all the cookies....

A triple batch of chocolate chip....

I told myself that I already know they're good, I don't need to try one and see. Because I know me. I know I want to eat all the cookies. Or at least four. And I do better on no sugar! So no tasting the cookie dough either. I can eat so much cookie dough! So it's better to just have none. I got used to this method of self denial way back when I started on this weight loss journey, and it worked for me. I can still treat the kids occasionally, still warm up the house, but not eat any.

Don't get me wrong, I am not going to never eat cookies, if that makes sense. I also plan to eat ice cream again soon, but not just any ice cream. I heard of this creamery that's semi-local, and I want to take a few of the kids, and my sister...

It's just that if I want to feel good, I can't eat the sugar on a regular basis, and when it's out of my system, I don't crave it as much, and I function better.

Anyway...this fine morning I am going with Mirielle to look at a house, and the refrigerator repairman is coming too. If he comes when I'm gone, he's going to have to talk to Joseph, who absolutely loves me for this, ha.

I am bringing Miss Charlotte Claire and Miss Camille too, because they LOVE houses, housing designs, decorating, ect.

So it's been a busy morning. I was exclaiming joyfully to anyone who would listen, how Sunny made it through THREE nights without peeing or pooping near the door. (she never does it during the day anymore, that's something:)). Sonja said I was jinxing myself, but I don't believe in jinxes. ha. I should've listened to her. This fine morning, Duke barked me out of bed at six, and there by the door was a little present from Sunny.

Of course I cleaned it up, swept the floors, then mopped, washed dishes and cleaned counters...washed my hair, got the kids up, had them shower and eat and dress neatly...

And now I am taking a break...guy is here...