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, September 29, 2017

in the middle of the night...

I had to bring Kathryn to the airport. She is off to California for a bit, to start her new job. Her flight left at 5-something a.m., so she had to be there at 4 something a.m., so I had to get up at 3-something a.m. And as per usual, I kept waking up to make sure I wasn't oversleeping, so I finally just got out of bed at three.

I made a coffee to go, and the ride there wasn't too bad. Then I dropped Kap off, said goodbye, and wah. I hate goodbyes. Kathryn is such a joy to have around. So...the ride home. Uneventful, thankfully, but there's nothing like a long dark stretch of highway all alone to stir up the thoughts. In the middle of the night, life seems to know it's brevity. The time spent with the kids as they grow just slips away. I wanted to stop and text Kathryn immediately, tell her to stay away from strangers, and watch her bags, and and and. But she's growing up. She's traveled alone before.

Anyway....home I drove, into the house, and yay, back to bed! It was only 5-something a.m., still dark, and so yummy to climb back into bed. I had to change back into jammies though, I cannot just get into bed with jeans on.

So I slept in, until 8:30. It seemed late, until I started adding it up. I woke when Paul left, when the school bus backed up honking it's back-up warning with the three high school girls on it. I didn't get up to see them off this morning, but I did make them chocolate chip cookies yesterday and wrapped three each for today's lunches. Then at 8:00 I heard the little girls' door open, they set their alarm so they can have a free hour before school starts.

And, I went on my walk.

The scale is creeeeeeping down. Every so slowly. I saw a number I haven't seen in a while, this fine morning. I moved the scale to three different places on the floor, just to make sure it wasn't tricking me. See, yesterday I mixed up a triple batch of chocolate chip cookies...and the cookie dough...oh dang. I only had a few tastes, and I told myself that just because I did that doesn't mean I have to go hog wild and eat it all. Then, I broke off a piece of a cookie...the buttery brown sugar chewy goodness of that cookie, I could happily eat a dozen, but I put the brakes on. It will never get easy.

Dinner was in the crock pot, which makes me disproportionately, insanely happy. I feel accomplished all the live-long day, like, "Yeah, I know what I'm having for dinner tonight. I have my act together." It was in before seven a.m., a nice fatty piece of pork, simmered in lemon juice (it makes it so tender!), a splash of Mountain Dew, and lots of Jamaican Jerk seasoning. By afternoon, it was smelling good in here.

Baking cookies with Anne here was challenging, were my kids that curious? She delights in the doggies and kitties, too, and I have to make sure they are also delighting in her. Ashley came to visit with Anya, and we talked while I puttered around. When Anne's daddy came to get her, I was just about to change her diaper, but decided not to have him wait...then I peeked into it as I handed her over, and oops, it was a poopy one. He didn't have time to wait for me to change her, as Davian's bus was due soon, so he had to take her home like that, only five minutes down the road, but I still felt like the bad babysitter. I love her so, though, and take good care of her. I do love her, I love rocking her all cuddly when she's getting tired, and I love reading books with her. I love that she sings the first part of the ABC song, and that when I sing Twinkle Twinkle, she chimes in at the exact right part: Up above the world so high...she sings Up Above Da, every time the song is done, and I sing it again. :)

We gave away one kitten yesterday, to Suzanne's friend. Her mama came to pick it up, and she had a hard time choosing. She said she needs something small to love and take care of, so she chose the sweet little runt of the litter. She had a little bottle already, and special kitty milk to feed it, and kitten chow. That kitten is going to a happy home.

After she left, and Ashley left with Anya, and Anne was gone home...dinner time. Kathryn took the little girls to buy ice cream, then they had a mega Monopoly game, while I watched the last episode of the series on the Vietnam war with Paul. He massaged my sore shoulder, so it was all good. (Do not get me started on all the things our country didn't seem to learn about that war. Why oh why are men so stupid?)

Well, today I have to go pay the tax bill, and it's National Coffee Day, and my favorite place in the small city is selling medium iced or hot coffee for a dollar. I feel myself gravitating toward there today....but we'll see what the kids want to do.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

the chill we've all been waiting for....

If you haven't noticed, I like weather. Here in central New York state, we have had 13 days in a row with temperatures 80 degrees or higher. The past three days were 90 or above, making it an official heat wave. Then last evening, the wind picked up, the leaves swirled off the trees, and the temperature dropped. This fine morning, it feels like autumn. 59 degrees, breezy, pleasantly and cozily overcast.

The sunshine and warmth was a gift, of course it was. But in keeping with The Grass Is Always Greener mentality, it was too hot, and we longed for autumn. It was humid and sticky. The girls in Real School were really hot and sweaty. It feel nice now, refreshing.

Last evening, Evelyn and Sonja accompanied me to Kohl's in the small city. I needed sneakers. I needed to try them on and make decisions. Shoe shopping is not fun when you have the feet of a woman who has born many children...feet that stretched right out to ensure the balance of the larger body. These feet can be squished into flats, for instance, but look hilarious. But the real mystery is why shoes that felt okay in the store hurt in various surprise places when they are walked in, in Real Life.

I tried some wide width Nikes for $65. They were wide where they needed, but pinched in other places. Then I tried a pair of Fila because they were only $25, and voila, they fit! They weren't even wide width. But. They didn't exactly pass the Going On A Walk test this morning. They were tight across the wide part, pinched in a few places. blah. I want shoes that feel like marshmallows. The ones Grandma gave me a few years ago were perfect, but they got chewed up by a visiting puppy. (They were comfy shoes, even glowed in the dark, which made them super fun but if someone was ever chasing me in the dark, how could I hide?)

Anyway. I found my shoes, found one nice shirt for my Ireland trip, and bought a pillow for $2.99, and gave it to Evelyn. And Sonja found a five dollar shirt. No evening trip out is complete without a stop at the grocery store, I wanted flour for the huge-0 package of yeast I got at the warehouse store, and some fresh fruits and veggies, and paper towels.

Anne is here this fine chilly morning, playing a blanket on the floor with a toy computer. She keeps me hopping, but she is sweetness, and joy. She is learning words and has absolutely no fear of puppies or kitties. She is cautious though, and could be walking if she wanted to.

Ten days until Ireland!!!!

It's hard to sit here and write all sunshine-y and glad when one of our very close friends is suffering. Dave has been battling cancer and all of it's accompaniments for years now. It started in his esophagus, and now, nine and a half years later, with some recurrences in between, is showing up in his lung. He and his wife are absolutely dear and faithful friends, they have eight kids who are all friends of my kids. This is heart wrenching. We do know that the very hairs of our heads are numbered, and that God knows the big picture, but still. Keep them in your prayers.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

on happiness and bucket lists and blessing others....

Life is a gift, and if you ever start out on Monday morning full of complaints, just sit down with the obituary section from a medium sized city's newspaper. Go ahead. Spread open those pages and roam over the names and the ages, the survivors, the pictures of those who passed away during the last week. Then go ahead and continue on with your complaints. Yes, you're tired, and someone drank the rest of the half and half and left the empty carton on the counter, or worse, put it into the garbage without even squishing it. And the sweatshirt draped over the back of the chair, the load of clean towels dumped on the couch, ugh.

This morning, I read the local news before opening the old blog. A man and his son were killed by a guy fleeing from the police...he ran a stop sign and plowed right into them. Gone. A young firefighter lost control of his car the other night, hit a tree. Gone. I know, depressing, ignore it, don't dwell on sadness. But it is part of life, and and what we don't want to think about is that we are here only temporarily. We tend to dig in our heels and build our little kingdoms as if they're permanent.

Anyway. In one of the obituaries I read, the man had TWO survivors. Two. sadness?

Anyway. Yesterday evening, we had company! In addition to Paul and I, Joseph, Kathryn, Evelyn, Suzanne, Sonja, Jonathan, Char, Camille...Margaret and Adrian came over, and Mali and Lydia. I made spaghetti for dinner, with a quick salad, and some green beans (I don't eat pasta anymore, I just eat the sauce with canned green beans...good? nah. Tolerable.)

It was so hot out, but the evening came with a breeze, and the sun went behind the trees. Today it's supposed to be almost 90 again, and humid.

Anyway. This morning I walked again! It's becoming a habit again, so I don't protest it as much in my head, I just do it.

Now I just need to get back into working out...

I have been avoiding sugar though.

Carol commented and said that visiting Ireland was on her Bucket List. I have always wanted so badly to go to Ireland, so when Mirielle started talking about it, as unpractical as it is to just drop everything and go, I said, YES!!! Life is short, right? I In two weeks!!!! Yesterday, I bought a new purse/bag, one that has a long shoulder strap so I can keep it in front of me, as I read there are many pickpockets in Dublin. :( I have my Costco raincoat, and now I just need to get some new sneakers. I wish I had some stylish boots that didn't kill my feet, but you know, if wishes were fishes we'd eat them on dishes and all that.

Ah well. There are floors to sweep and dishes to wash. And to teach, and little Anne is coming over...sweet Anne. She's one year old, still crawls, but can stand up...she'll be walking any day now. She's so smart, she can say apple and ball and bye and doggy. She lets you know what she wants, and she is a busy one. I love her, can you tell? She keeps me hopping, but it's all good....:)

Monday, September 25, 2017

hot hot hot!!!!

And the weather is pretty warm too, ha. Paul and I worked the Paul McCartney concert on Saturday night...with Abigail, Benjamin, Mirielle, Joseph, Samuel, Kathryn, Evelyn, and Suzanne. It was steaming hot in that Dome. But the music was fantastic, and the customers were happy...sweaty and happy. Then just a little bit of drama, as Benjamin had some poison ivy, which he is allergic to, and it was swelling and spreading, on his face...then he was having trouble swallowing. uh oh. Never you mind that he is 28 years old. He could be two years old still by the way I still feel:) Anyway, he left with Mirielle and Kathryn to the hospital, and is doing fine after some steriods and other meds. Never a dull one, I tell you.

Yesterday was a perfectly beautiful day. We spent the afternoon swimming in the pools at church, after grilling burgers and hot was SO NICE! Then home, relaxing on the deck with Margaret for a bit, then...popcorn for dinner. The yummy stovetop stuff, with lots of butter. Samuel asked if I was making dinner, and I said I already made a nice lunch, as I was the burger griller. So popcorn it was. A lot of the kids finangled their own dinners...there's this container of cheese sauce in the 'fridge...I bought one of those huge-O cans of it, so they heat up little bits of it at a time, and eat it with tortilla chips and on everything else too. blah, but they like it.

I walked this morning, but the little girls didn't. I woke them up but they chose to sleep in a bit. That's okay. It was a busy weekend. They spent the night at their friend's house on Saturday, and we all know how much sleep they didn't get.

It's supposed to be 90 degrees and oppressively humid today. The summer we never got, is here!

So two weeks from today I'll be arriving in Ireland!!! My head is swirling with things to remember, so I made myself some lists this morning. We are running out of doggie chow, and we buy good stuff from the tractor store now, so I have places to go. We are running out of coffee, and I want to get protein bars for my trip, and small things of almonds. I know there are stores in Ireland, and shh, I look forward to visiting them! But I am funny about going places without backup snacks, in case of getting stranded, or whatever. And we ARE flying the cheapie airline, so there won't be anything served on the flight. We should be good girls and get some sleep anyway, it's an overnight flight. And we can't check into our room/apartment until afternoon.

Ah must begin.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

foggy morning, sunny day...

Suri likes going on morning walks. For the most part, she just walks along without tugging the leash, but when you least expect it, she lunges towards a dead frog, her 82 pounds yanking at my arm and pulling the leash into the skin of my palm.

Miss Charlotte Claire brought Sunny. She is leash training her, mostly in the yard, and thought this walk went well. She stops every time Sunny tugs, and gave her a treat when we got home.

My morning walk is usually my time to think, but I told the girls how magnificent the fog is to walk in, so they got up early this morning to join me.

Yesterday's donut shop quest was a success! Fresh made donuts, chocolate and pumpkin and cinnamon and plain and cherry, to customize with frostings. A pumpkin donut with cream cheese frosting, or a chocolate with vanilla buttercream. A cherry donut with vanilla frosting and Fruity Pebbles cereal? The kids said it was yum. I tried a cannoli donut, with real fresh filling and chocolate chips around the edges. It was fun to pick them out, but more fun to go to the park and try them. The park was perfect! There was a shaded pavillion with tables, and it was clean! There were bathrooms there, and a working drinking fountain, as well as lots of nice playground equipment. Now, going to the play ground with a one year old is challenging. Little Anne wanted to crawl around and explore, so I let her. But why did she gravitate toward the pavement from the grass? And the woodchips, oh man they are not good for babies to crawl in, or to taste, either. But she liked to explore, and didn't mind when I redirected her when she started slapping that pavement or finding the dirt underneath the woodchips. I don't know who tired out first, but I think it was me. I told Ashley that I didn't know how I managed this stage SIXTEEN TIMES, ha.

Anya and Lydia liked the playground better than the donuts. It was a beautiful day.

We got home and played on the deck for a while. Anne seemed hot,so we took her clothes off and let her splash in the little pool for a bit, then she ate some pudding and played with some toys.

I made taco salad for dinner, then Evelyn and I went to the thrift store...the little kids went to Activity Club, and the older girls were doing homework. We found a huge mirror to be chalk painted (the frame), a few books, and not much else. We went to the dollar store for granola bars and good chocolate, then...home.

Today, after school work, library. Anne is on her bye for now.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

the little tiny things in life....

Small people are delightful. I have two grandchildren, little girls. One is Anya, almost four, the other Lydia just turned two. They are my heart. When I hear, "Grandma, Grandma!...", every time, after realizing that it is ME being spoken to, ha, I melt.

Both girls were visiting me yesterday. Well, not just ME. The house. The dogs and the kittens and the dollhouses and the swings, the trampoline, and their favorites: Miss Char and Miss Cam. And their other aunties, and Uncle Jon and Uncle Sam and Uncle Joseph.

Mali was here with Lydia when I had to leave to take Sunny to the vet. It's a good half hour+ of a drive, so I brought Jonathan with me. It was super nice to catch up with him, my 13 year old son. He is SO grown up, so respectful and I don't know...balanced? Rooted and grounded? He is just decent and moral and kind, but also witty and hilarious, in that young teenage boy kind of way, trying to fit in with the older ones. Anyway, we talked and enjoyed the warm afternoon.

I grilled chicken for dinner, and it took forever...well, over an hour and a half...the propane was running low. When Paul changed the tank, voila, big flames, and chicken was finally done. It was really good, and we had it with a nice salad and some red potatoes.

I read a story this morning... a lady was in Target with her small son, negotiating on which of three small stuffed dinosaurs he would get to have, when an older man interacted with the boy, gave him a $20 bill and told him to get all three...the man turned to the mom and explained, with tears in his eyes, that his two year old grandson had just passed away last week. For one, it's fantastic in this world we live in, for strangers to connect, and that this mom didn't just shoo the man away at first glance. I remember right after my mother died, I was in Kmart and an old lady in line in front of me had wrinkled hands, just like my mother's. Yeah, I get it that all old people have wrinkled hands. But my mom's death was so fresh and raw, and this lady's hands just made me cry. I wanted to talk to her, to hug her, to make sure she wasn't lonely, I wanted to connect with her, and be her friend.

Anyway. Anne is on her way over, and we are going on adventure today! Mirielle is watching little Lydia today, and we are meeting Ashley and Anya at an amazing donut place! We are hoping it's amazing anyway....then maybe a park with a playground...:)

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

out and about....

Camille thought this was just too funny. We Walmarted after Evelyn's doctor's appointment, because we needed a bulb for the minivan's headlight. This doesn't mean we bee-lined for the automotive department then left the store, no sir, then we wouldn't have found the 15 pack of socks for $3.50. We wouldn't have discovered that Wallyworld now stocks CalicoCritter stuff. I let the girls get the tiny set of triple bunks, and the little loft bed, for $6.88 each, shh. They came home and played dollhouse with that stuff for hours.:)

We had gone to McDonalds drive through first, for drinks...their iced coffee is pretty good, and then the $2 small shakes, or other specialty beverages for the kids...Char ordered a small chocolate shake, and the guy at the window apologized for accidentally making it a large. It made her day. We also got one order of chicken nuggets, hate them/love them, and as we sat in the truck in the Walmart parking lot scarfing them down (what? I only had three. 150 calories.)(and we didn't order any fries), Camille said, "Look at us, eating McDonalds in Walmart parking lot." We could not stop laughing.

Anyway. Home, ah home. I had also gone to Costco with Mirielle and Jonathan during the day...and I found my new raincoat for Ireland there, who would have thought? They have too much good stuff at Costco! Emily got a membership and added me, so uh-oh.

Today, Miss Anne Beatrice is coming over, in just a few minutes actually. We will play outside in the little pool, it's so warm out!

Beautiful, right?

I walked this morning, yay.

It's lovely in the morning on our road.

This afternoon, I have to bring Sunny in to the vet to get her stitches removed and for her Lyme disease prevention booster. She's gonna LOVE that. ugh. Mali is coming over with Miss Lydia, too. :)

Monday, September 18, 2017

good morning happy monday!!!!

I walked again! Once I get back into the habit, it's easier to go, Nike sure got it right with Just Do It.:)
(I would like to insert a little complaint that the scale is stubborn, after all this work lately it should be getting busy going down down down, but what are ya gonna do? I figure it is still healthy to walk, and it's still healthy to to eat well. Losing weight isn't the ONLY thing I'm aiming for,...right?)

Sunny leaps for bubbles! She loves them!

Her wrinkled forehead...she's so cute. Do you know Char can make her jump through a hula hoop by holding a treat? Suri just walks AROUND the hoop.

This afternoon I have to bring Evelyn in to the doctor for a shot, then tomorrow I have to take Sunny to get her stitches out. I don't have Anne today, but I will have her tomorrow and Wednesday, maybe Thursday. Ashley and I have a date this week to go on a donut shop adventure, we can barely look at the pictures, they look so good. I know, I know, I lament about not losing weight, then start in on the donuts...but. But. But, I am faithful all day every day, so I get a break, a one donut break...?

The little girls are having breakfast, we will be starting school soon.

We are having a heat wave here in central New York state, low eighties every day, and humid! We bought a little pool on clearance the other day, and the girls played in it with Anya yesterday. We also scrubbed out the hot tub yesterday, got it ready to be fixed. The parts have arrived! Now, I know hot tubs are tricky, and I know that it might not be that simple to just replace the obvious part, and voila, fill it up and have it work. The cover is in rough shape, we hope to save it with, shh, duct tape, at least until we are sure the thing runs well. Benjamin is so busy right now with his new job, he is an apprentice so has classes a few nights a week, and they are expecting their baby in five weeks.:)

It was a grand weekend for our kids! They were blessed to be at a soccer weekend with kids from England, Denmark, B.C., Salem, Ohio, Conneticut, Ottowa, Delaware, Missouri, and Norway. Yesterday afternoon Paul and Ben and Sam and some others took the kids from England to a shooting range, they liked that well enough.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

keeping busy...

I remember the days when going into the bathroom all by my lonesome was a luxury, but it wasn't even luxurious, because I had to hurry hurry hurry, and there was always the conundrum: do I announce my intentions, and give the kids a heads up that they can maybe get into stuff, or do I sneak away, tiptoeing down the hall, avoiding possible separation tears, or worse: requests to accompany me.

Anyway. My days were crazy. These days by comparison are easy, easy peasy.

But, it is still busy. We have little Anne here during the days, and she is a sunshine. But even a sunshine needs to be watched, especially a one year old sunshine. But shh, she also likes to read books and snuggle and yesterday, she fell asleep in my arms as I rocked her and sang the Winnie The Pooh song.."silly ol', silly ol' bear..."

Mirielle came over in the afternoon, as I was attempting to make healthy muffins...
2 cups flaxseed
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon cinnamon/pumpkin pie spice

5 eggs
1/3 cup melted coconut oil
1/2 cup water
a splash of vanilla
1/4 cup of honey or other sweetener (I used two tablespoons of honey, and a tablespoon of molasses)

You can add blueberries, or even chocolate chips, or maybe some unsweetened cocoa powder...

They aren't sweet, but they smell heavenly when they're baking, and if you add butter, and maybe some pumpkin jam...yum.

Anyway. Mirielle visited and we planned our trip to Ireland. We rented a whole "flat" near the Irish Sea for the first few days, then a homey little place a few hours from the Atlantic for the next few days...We will visit Howth Castle, the city of Dublin, then drive across the country, which is only like three hours, ha, who knew? It takes days to get across the U.S. Anyway, we will go to the Cliffs of Moher, then drive up to Galway and stay there...we rented a car, an automatic with a GPS in case our phones poop out on us. Mirielle is going to drive on the wrong side of the road! Oh the fun we're going to have. We just wish we could take all of the kids with us...

Anne is here! bye

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

apples and autumn....

It wasn't cool or crispy enough for a good orchard trip, that sun was warm! Warm sun is nice for the beach, you know, not for apple picking!

Mali went with us, Camille, Charlotte Claire, and me with Lydia...Miss Anne Beatrice was in the stroller...

Anne is one of my sister's grandchildren, she is Davian's baby sister. (Davian is in kindergarten now!) I am looking after her a few days a week. And she is pure sweetness.

I took this before my walk this morning...the reflection of the mess in my kitchen. The mirror is one of my thrift store finds, all chalk painted and waxed.

Miss Lyd, as we call Lydia Eleanor, the two year old granddaughter. She thought apple picking was grand. She pulled the first apple from the tree, and threw it on the ground. I don't know why she thought that was what we were doing, maybe because there were a lot of apples already on the ground. She is a sunshine-y chatterbox. We drove to that orchard with two carseats in the van, almost like the old days.

And...we got apple cider, freshly made. Also donuts, cinnamon donuts, still warm. I only had a taste, and a sip of cider, buy oh yummers.

The almost four year old granddaughter came for a visit yesterday too, Anya Jade. She likes coming over to play, the dollhouse stuff and the trampoline, the dogs and the kittens...and the little girls. She really likes her Aunt Charlotte and her Aunt Camille. I am still reveling in the fact that I get to see her on a regular basis, considering for the first three and a half years of her life, I only got to visit her and see her when she visited here. Now she lives twenty minutes away! I don't think I'll ever just take it for granted.

Anne will be here in a little while, and the little girls and Jon need to start in on their spelling. We are going to visit Grandma today, and I have to bring Paul's truck in to get something fixed. Mirielle is coming over so we can plan our trip to Ireland. I have been checking out the Airbnb places, and they look amazing! I would much rather rent out a whole apartment from a private citizen than a hotel room from a big chain. The question we stay in the city, or relax in the countryside? Do we rent a car so we can go where we please, when we please, but have to deal with driving on the wrong side of the road, and traffic, ect., or do we just use the bus system and the train? Which would be more fun and relaxing? hmmm. We have decisions to make.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

thrifty finds.....

Sometimes you just do something spur of the moment, or if you're like me, you are ALWAYS flying by the seat of your pants, running out the door on a whim...which was what happened yesterday evening. I won't bore you with the details of who was going where with whom, but Evelyn and I decided that What The Heck, we were going to the thrift store.

We browsed the outside stuff first, and oh yeah, I found a dollhouse. I have yet to grow up, so I was clapping my hands in delight. It was spotlessly clean and brand new looking. We brought it in and asked the price: $7.99. Okay. I asked if I could leave it on the counter while we shopped. Well, that wasn't going to work because it was already seven o'clock, and they close at seven o'clock! What?! We were there, all ready to browse, and they were closing! I paid for the dollhouse, and wah, we left. (When we got home, it didn't take long to find the dollhouse online, it's a Calico Critter, and very pricey!)

We decided to try the other thrift store in the small city, and they were open until nine. What fun, I found a pink fleece Addidas zippered hoodie for Char, brand new looking, for $3.99! Then right next to it, a pull-over UnderArmour hoodie for Cam, also for $3.99! I found warm Columbia boots for me, a few sweaters, and a shirt. Evelyn found shoes! I can't remember the brand, but they are adorable.

Then, a stop in Walmart for a few things that Suzanne needed. Evelyn and I had already picked out some mums for the deck, and I wanted some for the front porch. They were sorry looking things at Walmart, but one we picked up seemed all right, and I felt sorry for it, and put it in the cart. The cashier gave us a discount because they were so sorry, so for $2.94, you can't complain. I bought a few tiny pumpkins to autumn up the place, and a few orange/brown towels.

Today, we are going on an adventure when the kids finish their school work. We are going apple picking at a place we haven't been to. Did you know that New York state is the second apple producing state in the U.S., behind Washington state? I just have to navigate my way through all the sweetness - fresh cider, the donuts, the pumpkin muffins.

Yesterday, after school work, we got some things done around here. We washed the front of the house, the lower windows, cleaned the two minivans, washed the windows and vacuumed them, then Samuel and Jonathan mowed the front and back yards. Dinner was easy, leftover pork roast warmed in the oven with olive oil and rosemary, leftover mashed potatoes, and applesauce.

This fine morning, I tried to talk myself out of my morning walk. I will be walking later, I reasoned. There's so much to do, I protested. But I went anyway, yay me. The thought of pumpkin spice coffee lured me back at a speedy pace, and it didn't disappoint. I have done some laundry, and helped the girls with spelling, but there is housework to do, blah. I like a clean house, but this Every Single Day cleaning thing gets old. :)

Oh, the fun thing about the dollhouse is that my girls, my little nine year old Camille Anaya and 11 year old Charlotte Claire (Cam is almost ten, they are 18 months apart), loved that dollhouse. They got out all the little Woodeez critters and play sets and set that house up, played with it for TWO HOURS, until finally, at ten o'clock, I regretfully Mean Mommied them to bed. They kept the house set up, put it on a shelf, but put away all the rest of the fun stuff they had scattered across the living room floor. I love seeing them be kids, and playing together like that. It was worth every penny.

I think I'll make the kids a nice brekky, and get some things done around here....

Monday, September 11, 2017

ireland: here we come!!!!

Yes!!! Mirielle and I are going to Ireland next month!!! She found some really reasonable plane tickets, and kept saying that we should really go...and I'm the only one who took her up on it, because Emily is in college as well as working full time, Abigail used all of her vacation already, Mali is taking college classes as well as working full time, and being a mommy to a two year old, ect. So Mirielle and I are going to Ireland!

I have been researching hotels and things to do, and apparently there's a section of the city to avoid, and there are pickpockets galore, so we need to make sure we don't look like tourists, and keep all of our gold and diamonds locked in the hotel safe, ha. We were planning to rent a car to drive to see cliffs and the sea, but driving and parking in the city seems difficult, plus there's the little detail of driving on the WRONG side of the road. I am one of those handed-ness challenged people, you know, who turn left when the directions say right. Let's hope Mirielle does better, oh I am a horrible navigator, but she'll be the better driver, so we'll be okay. Oh dear.

We don't have big huge plans of what we want to do and see, I told her I would be glad to sit in a pub and listen to people talk in that charming accent. And maybe I would have a Guinness. There's a famous ice cream place by the Irish sea, and there are the Cliffs Of Moher. I would like to see the countryside, and walk through Dublin, visit an old church...

Today, however, I am just staying home and teaching these kids. They are working on spelling list #2. When we are done with school we plan to get some things done outside. The north side of our house is the front of it, and with this damp rainy summer, the mossy green stuff grows and looks terrible on the white siding. So we will wash the house, rake up the yard, and maybe even vacuum the van.

Tomorrow, after school is done, we are going to an apple orchard with Mali and little Miss Lydia.

Wednesday, Mirielle and I will be planning our trip.

Friday is the beginning of a huge soccer weekend for lots of our kids: Emily, Benjamin, Joseph, Sam, Kathryn, Suzanne, Sonja, and Jonathan will be playing, and Abigail, Mirielle, and Evelyn will be watching. And Friday, I will be springing my dear mother-in-law, Eleanor, from the rehab center/nursing home! She gets to go home! She is doing really really well. It will be interesting because I will also have Lydia that day, but Charlotte Claire and Camille will help.

This week's agenda also includes making sure Eleanor's refrigerator and cupboards are properly stocked:)

Paul is in Boston for the week, yesterday I drove him to the airport where he left in his rental car, and Evelyn and I drove home in his truck...but first, the grocery store. I splurged and bought three beautiful pots of mums. I also bought nine store brand items, so I got a coupon for $2.25 off my next purchase. On the way out of the store, I saw that autumn Welcome mats were $4, so yeah, I grabbed one, got in the express line, and paid $1.75 for one.

I did walk this morning!

Do you like my Army shirt? Samuel scored SEVENTEEN of them when he joined the reserves, which sounds like a lot, but with two parents, we are short one already. Ben stopped in the other night, he had one on, Sam had one on, Joseph had one on, it's rather funny.

The sun shining on the morning mist...:)

As per usual when Paul is away, I stay up way too late, reveling in the the king sized bed all to myself, leaving the light on, finishing an entire novel, reading about Dublin online, catching up on news and who is doing what on facebook. I am not glad he's gone, but parts of it are good, like the way I miss him and look so forward to him coming home. And shh, having the bed to myself is not too shabby. If I weren't trying like heck to lose fifty pounds before Ireland, I would totally eat cookies in bed while I read.

Anyway. The kids need help with school, Suri wants to be pet, and Sunny is up to no good. We aren't letting her out without her leash because she was just spayed on Thursday, so she's got extra energy, which she's using to chew up slippers, a headband, and and a plastic cup. I had my pumpkin spice coffee, but I am not touching the cinnamon rolls that Camille baked all by herself, warming the house and making it smell heavenly. They are drinking fresh local apple cider, too. Autumn IS nice.

Friday, September 8, 2017

how did I get so old?!

One of my daughters remarked to me the other day that she feels a lack of respect from people because she's young. Well ha. I remember that. Paul and I were married young, had children when we were young (and also when we were old), and I hated hearing, "But you're so young...", in a way that indicated that naturally, because I was so young, I had no idea about things. Well. Next thing you know, I'm old. My kids sling that little snippet around on a regular basis. "Mom's old." But what I want to know is, when was the happy middle? The age when I was just right? I think I missed it.

As a fat lady who used to be much fatter, I am trying to reclaim lost ground. I gained a few pounds back (20, if we're going to be honest). It's not easy. Last evening, we had an excellent little celebration/appreciation gathering for a dear friend who has done so much for my girls, Erica. She is moving to another state, we will still see her occasionally, but it's sad to see her go. Anyway, there was cake. It was being passed out, and yes! I'll have some! My mouth bypassed my brain, after all, it was from Wegman's bakery, the gold standard of buttercream frosted cakes in this part of the world. I took the little plate, tasted that cake, and oh yummers, bliss...until my brain caught up, and dang wasn't too late. I set the plate down. I thought about it a little. I don't like to waste food, thanks to my mother, who raised me in the seventies...oil embargo, energy crisis, double digit inflation...anyway. I wasted that piece of cake. I threw it into the garbage. It didn't feel good. but it was the right thing to do. Now before you go thinking I have a will of steel, consider this: I had already had some of those cannoli chips with dip. Cannoli pastries, but in chip and dip version. Oh heavenly yum, I ate like seven of those chips before I realized...wait,sorry, that's not true! I realized right at the start, but I munched right through those thoughts. dang.

Anyway. Sorry to bore you with my struggles.

Today is a new day, a good day. I walked this morning with my Suri dog. She's sad, Sunny is at the vet, she spent the night because she was spayed yesterday. Suri doesn't know where all her friends are. She is big and sweet and needy, oh pet me, she says.

Today I have to drive up and pick up Miss Sunshine. We are doing well in our school here. The girls both did well, got 100% on their spelling tests and are doing math and reading comprehension.

Yesterday, we went to the big mall in the big city. See, I was in California for Danielle's birthday, Dani is my niece, my little girls's bestie, their little cousin. I felt bad because they went to her party sans presents. So I told her I would do something fun when I got home. So we set the date, and after dropping Sunny off at the vet (which was sad because Sunny was so scared...her tail between her legs...the vet tech guy wasn't deterred, he said, "It's okay, I'm a professional", and he looked younger than most of my kids)...anyway, she did fine, and I have to pick her up today. So we picked up Dani, and headed to the mall. I let them try some things on, and buy some things, then we went to the grocery store, and I let them pick out some drinks, and some candy. Then, for even more fun, I stopped at Arby's and let them get milkshakes and curly fries and sliders, but the sweet thing was that it was during afternoon special hours, and each item they got was a dollar.

At the grocery store, we got a marked down birthday cake, which was still plenty fresh (well, I had to at least TASTE IT!), and sang Happy Birthday to Danielle, when we got home, ha, not in the grocery store.

So life is fun, life is busy, it's nice having Kathryn back, the kittens are doing well, I have to sweep the floors and switch over laundry, between explaining how many zeroes in a trillion and how to put those invisible zeros in to keep places. The fun thing about homeschooling is that I am learning too. :) See, you CAN teach an old dog...

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

a good mother....

A good mom bakes peanut butter cookies on the first day of school...

A good mom gets up in time to see her kids off to school, makes sure they are wearing modest and neat clothes, have their lunches, and that they eat a good breakfast.

It's only the second day of school, and shh, on the first day I slept through the alarm and ran outside in my nightgown with a sweatshirt over it, to say goodbye to the three high school girls as they waited for the bus.

But I DID walk again this morning. And I baked cookies yesterday. And I got up in time to see that they did not eat any breakfast, but Evelyn did go out the door with a large mug of coffee. Oh, I try.

Our first day of school was a success. They did spelling and reading and reading comprehension, and math, as well as beginning Norwegian, and gym class. Then Jonathan and Charlotte Claire made taco salad/nachos all by themselves. A hot cup of green tea with honey, and homemade bread toasted with butter and jam, curled up on the couch with school books, how can you beat that?

Today, after our school work is done, we are heading to the library, taking little Miss Lydia with us. We also need a few things from the grocery store, so the school girls can pack decent lunches.

Later in the day we are going to visit Grandma in the rehab place.

And, Miss Kathryn is home from Norway! She was supposed to go for a whole year, but she came home early. Ah life, never predictable.

The dogs are all antsy and fussy because our friend Mike is here installing the brand spankin' new septic pump! They know someone's here, and are barking intermittently. Also, the guys from the highway department are working on the ditches, with all the rain we've had they have to make sure the water if flowing through them properly, and they are cutting branches down too.

Anyway, I am trying to lay off sugar again, because it's like a gateway drug for me. A little bit leads to a handful of this and a slice of that, so I'm going cold-turkey. It's hard when a trip to the store is in order, because I don't have much that I CAN eat. No almonds or cashews, very little in the produce drawer, and we are running out of eggs.

And the peanut butter cookies...I honestly only had a small taste, just to try them. It was very very hard, because I wanted to sit down with a whole stack of them with my coffee...they were very chewy and the brown sugar and butter in them made them so carmel-y, I just wanted all of the cookies. all. So I didn't bring a single one into the living room when I sat down with my afternoon coffee. Not a one. I bagged most of them up so the girls could take them with their lunches for the next few days.:)

The thing about this restricted eating, dieting, healthy lifestyle, whatever you call this: it's hard. It doesn't get easy, it never comes natural to me, and I KNOW there's a fine line I walk, I am never invincible, never more than a bite away from falling off the good food wagon. I cannot be smug in my plate of greens with my bunless burger, because I KNOW myself, and therefore do not judge those who indulge.

Cool weather brings it's own special challenges, the pumpkin swirl coffee is back, and you know that "swirl" is sugar, right? Oh so yum, and life is short, but the answer has to be NO. Just plain coffee. Oh, but I LOVE the swirl...NO, just plain coffee. And the pumpkin pies and cookies and cakes, the recipes that come up to taunt me as I scroll through the social media...and pies, can we talk about APPLE PIE? Heck, we can even substitute those apples for the pears growing in the tree in my yard, make a pie with flaky buttery golden crust, with sparkling crystals of sugar baked on top...and my resistance is null, void, and gone. So I have to carefully navigate through the autumn, enjoying the sights and smells but not the tastes, ha.

And...can you tell I am teaching/talking/correcting/helping three kids with school work while I write this? It feels choppy and disjointed, but that's the story of my life, choppy and disjointed.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

it's back to school in the rain!!!!

But first, the morning walk! Accountability 101! Rain or shine! I won't melt, that's what I tell myself.

The little girls are immersed in school work, we planned work and schedules last evening, not to be last minute or anything. Jonathan is getting a break today, he came in from Winnipeg in the early hours of the morning, so I am letting him catch some sleep. The three high school girls got on the bus despite their lack of sleep.

Abigail headed to work this morning after getting home at 3 a.m., and...her car broke down, just stopped driving as she was going up a hill. She is waiting for the tow truck, then I am picking her up from the auto mechanic in town. (never a dull moment)

And in other Never A Dull Moment news, our septic pump is broken, again! It's probably under a thousand bucks. Add it to the list, but it can't wait, nor can the new furnace. The old one is barely functioning, and the repairman said so many parts are falling apart, it can't be repaired anymore, so we are getting a new one. The new pool pump motor can wait until spring, and the rest of the new windows have moved down a few slots on the To Do list. Happy Homeowners, that's us!

Lydia is coming over this afternoon for a visit with her mama, and tomorrow she is coming over again, when her mama goes to work. Thursday, Little Miss Sunshine is going in to the vet to be spayed. Then I am taking some little girls here on a fun outing, for them, not me,...the mall. I told them they can try on some clothes and have a photo shoot, just for fun.

Char and Cam and I made homemade bread on Sunday. I was smart this time, and had only a few little tastes. There's some left, so I made them toast for breakfast, with jam. They also had hot green tea with honey. So it's cozy time here, with the rain and the gloom.

Jonathan is up now, and I have to catch up on how his weekend was...

Monday, September 4, 2017

seriously? the beach?!!!

The last day of summer vacation, with an 80 degree yeah, the beach. Yesterday: rain. Tomorrow: rain. So today, we went to the beach. BTW, I have no idea who that guy is behind me, I had no idea when I took the pic...

Miss Charlotte Claire...she was doing lots of gymnastics on the beach, back handsprings, handstands...

Sam was reading on the beach...

Mirielle was there too, but hey, nobody wants their mom pointing a camera, or a phone, at them when they're sunbathing. I respect that. Sam took this one of Paul and Camille...

It's cooling off, and autumn is in the air. School starts tomorrow. Our kids aren't due back from Winnipeg until almost midnight, so they requested that I make lunches for the three of them that go to Real I will. :)

Sunday, September 3, 2017

oh yeah, a new start!

I went on my morning walk! Now, this may seem like a small thing, but believe me, it's huge! I have gotten out of shape again, and every single night I tell myself that tomorrow I'll do better. This fine morning, bound and determined to go on that morning walk, I looked at the rain, and then at the weather map...yes, it was raining...and went anyway.

The thing about the morning walk is this: it's lovely. It's relaxing, such a good start to the day, and I managed to do it for a few years straight before I started finding it hard to fit it in. Anyway, I'm in bad shape, but it ain't over 'til it's over, and today is a new start.

We are having just a bit of fun here with our company, we are puppysitting for the long weekend for Ms. Bunnifer Lopez, aka Bunny, or Little Miss Bunshine, Margaret and Adrian's Boxador, she's a few months younger than Sunny. They are besties, girlfriends, buddies...they play-fight, they wrestle, they run, they romp and rumpus and create all sorts of mayhem, wreak the craziest havoc. They try to get Suri to join in, but she'll have none of their nonsense, she remains stoic and wags her tail, looks at me and we agree: they're crazy. But they're all good dogs, and it's quite fun at our house this weekend.

Aaron and Riley flew in from San Francisco this weekend to surprise Grandma! She was doing so poorly this past week, she was taken back to the hospital, but now is back in the rehab center and is doing quiet well. We went to visit her yesterday. Paul made her some scalloped potatoes, and I brought her chocolate chip cookies, and was happy to see her eat two of them. :)

We had pizza and the local place for dinner, so no cooking, just made a big salad and put more cookies in the oven. Ben and Ashley and Anya, and Molly and Lydia joined us. Lots of the kids are in Winnipeg for the weekend (Emily, Abigail, Margaret (and Adrian), Evelyn, Suzanne, Sonja, and Jonathan), and the little girls don't like it. Cam keeps saying, "We need more people here."

It's quiet here on this rainy morning, except for the puppies romping around. I made meatballs last night for tonight's dinner, and am thinking of making a fine dessert...hmm. Not for me though, oh dear, I need to get serious again.

School starts this week, and I am excited to begin homeschooling Jon, Char, and Cam...and we'll have three girls in high school again this year, Evelyn, Suzanne, and Sonja. We are also going to be having Lydia two days a week, so I'm sure we won't be bored. :)

Friday, September 1, 2017

home again home again, jiggity jig....

And we went to market to buy...some old lamps.
Lamps from the thrift store, new with the tags on! They were brown wood, ugh, but oh the possibilities! The girls voted for gray, I had wanted something a bit more oomphy, but they vetoed the nice aqua. And the mirror, from the North Carolina Mirror company, gold and gilded, just screaming to be chalkpainted a nice plaster color...

We got home after midnight on Wednesday. Thursday morning, I went with Emily and Camille to visit Grandma, who is doing so much better! She was alert and talking, and she is one strong lady.

Home again, just to leave to take a few kids school shopping...but I drove right to that thrift store first, for me. Camille found a NorthFace jacket, and I found a Cuisinart mixer that works. I got Lydia a little Fisher-Price van, with batteries, that sings little songs.

Then to Walmart...$55 worth of binders, folders, pens, pencils, and other nonsense. Apparently we BUY bookcovers now, ha.

Marshalls, for a backpack for Sonja. She wanted an expensive one, so she bought it herself with babysitting money.

B.J.'s for groceries, and snacks for their trip to Winnipeg. 27 hours each way, they left this morning...Emily and Abigail and Margaret and Adrian, Evelyn and Suzanne and Sonja and Jonathan. They went with the youth group, two 15 passenger vans and a car...

And now I have to leave to work the football game...ugh.:)