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

Thursday, November 30, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

library and target....

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 24, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anyway, goodnight. Morning comes early.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

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

Oh, the plans of man...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

teenagers and how to deal with them....

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, November 19, 2017

the obituaries....

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

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

She was always fretting about something.

She was as lazy as the day is long.

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

No one could sweep the floor to her standards.

She eventually caught up on her laundry.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Boring details, sorry.

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

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

So, Happy Sunday to you all!

Friday, November 17, 2017

black friday online!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

head games...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And...Anne will be here soon!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

hess trucks and other seasonal fun...!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 13, 2017


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 10, 2017

winter already?!!!!!

It snowed! And it's cold! It's 23 degrees (-5c), and windy. We didn't get much snow, but it changes the lighting in here, and makes it feel almost Christmas-y.

There's no school today, so the high school girls are making breakfast, with their friend Irene and cousin Grace. Jonathan is shooting his airsoft gun with Sunny...Sunny goes crazy to go chase the pellets. Charlotte Claire and Camille changed their room around again, it's how they get it really clean. They are only ten and eleven, and they move those bunk beds and dressers and rearrange things all by themselves. It's sad each time though, Char says she has glass tea sets that she doesn't want anymore. :(
Joseph left a few hours ago to go, of all places, to the Adirondacks, to Giant Mountain, for a mountain hike. The temperatures there are frigid, but he's prepared, taking a few friends, and off he went.

Evelyn Joy, Camille, me, Sonja K., and Miss Charlotte Claire in the background...we went to the dreaded mall yesterday...we met up with a nice girl and her mama, who took two of the kittens...only one left, except for the one we are somehow keeping. Three cats is still this side of crazy, right?

The mall...we didn't do much. We went to H&M where I found a few baby things for grandbabies and a pair of jeans for Char, then to Forever21 where we hit the one dollar rack, for a few hats and socks, then found Cam some really pretty leggings for three dollars.

We went into Bath & Body Works, which the girls LOVE, even though we don't buy anything. It's SO expensive!

Anyway. We decided to leave and hit the grocery store for some frozen pizzas, there is a store brand of chicken/bacon/ranch, that they really like...

This morning, I woke up at 6:30, saw the snow, and was too excited to go back to sleep. So I got up and started in on the morning work of dishes, laundry, sweeping up the floors. I changed and washed the couch covers, and put some chicken in the crockpot. It's so cold out, it's a fine day for chicken and gravy, and mashed potatoes, stuffing, squash....mmm. And the best part is that I love starting the day knowing what's for dinner...doesn't take much, with me, doesn't take much.

There are cinnamon buns, and I am not eating cinnamon buns. They smell tantalizingly yummy, but no, I am not having any. I had an egg and a sausage, and a pile of green peppers with onions, thank you, Evelyn Joy! And pumpkin spice coffee.

Oh well...time to get moving, again....

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

ten years ago today....

Ten years ago today, my baby was born. Of course I didn't know she was going to be the caboose, but alas she is. She is just the biggest blessing. I don't like to repeat old stories...ha, wait, yes I do. But Camille was the baby I thought I had lost. I had the miscarriage, and went on with life...feeling sad and tired and worn out. It was a sad spring, my parents had both just passed away, and I just didn't feel well. And long story short, all those weeks, I was pregnant still after all! It was maybe a subchrionic bleed, or loss of a twin, I don't know...but at 15 or 16 weeks I went in for a check up, had a urine sample that came out still positive, then a blood test to see what was going on...the beta numbers were sky high, so the office called and said to come right in...whisked in for a sonogram, and there was a perfect little baby waving at us! I had thought ovarian cancer, but no sir, it was Camille Anaya (Anaya means: God answered.)

Anyway. We didn't know if Cam was a he or a she until she was born, but she was the best baby. She has been the best child too, and that's saying alot because I have 15 other best children, ha. But she has been a cuddler since she was born, and she still snuggles on the arm of my chair sometimes. She has a huge heart, and is very independent. She can pack for a sleepover all by herself, heat up a can of soup, make pancakes, cupcakes, and scrambled eggs. But shh, she still acts like the youngest child, and I don't mind. Because she is. And I say this: if you have had sixteen kids, and feel qualified to give advice on how to deal with the youngest, you are more than welcome, ha.

It's cold out. It's rainy and really wet, the dogs get muddy just running through the yard. I swept and mopped this morning, then the dogs came in from running about with Jonathan...he wiped them off, but I had to wipe down the whole kitchen floor again...

Coffee is on, Anne is here, and cousin Danielle has spent two nights, so it's like a little party. Except that Anne is tired and ready for her morning nap.

Monday, November 6, 2017

birthdays, strollers, camps...

Happy Birthday to Camille! In the background is Samuel, just came back from his weekend with the Army Reserves...he is talking about being deployed to Africa next year...spend his whole time in the regular Army in D.C., at Arlington, all safe and sound from being sent overseas, then joins the reserves...

Cam requested lemon meringue pie for her birthday. Okay, I thought, how hard can that be? Lemon pie and pudding mix would have been the smart option, with my homemade butter pie crust...but no, I had to go totally scratch, with the lemon juice and the cornstarch, and it was really good...too sweet and not tangy enough, but Cam loved it...I made two, and it took way too long, especially because you can't make just two pies, we had to have two pumpkin, too. By the time I got done cleaning, and making those pies, I decided the roast beef in the crock pot was going into the refrigerator for tonight's dinner, and we were ordering pizza. We had around 23 people for dinner, and I did not feel like going with my original plan, which was to peel, boil, and mash 10 pounds of potatoes, make stuffing, and veggies, to serve with the beef and gravy. I just didn't have it in me. I wanted to enjoy Ben and Ashley and little Anya and new baby Elise...I wanted to enjoy Mali and Lydia, and talking to Margaret and Adrian, and Emily and Abigail and Mirielle...and Sam came home from his was crazy enough with six pizza boxes stacked up and the help yourself thing...I also cut up celery, cucumbers, carrots, and peppers, and had nice little prize bags for the little kids.

Anyway. Our hot topic of discussion was this: to rent the same camp this year, right on the water with the delicious dock to jump off of, or to sit and bake in the sun on...or a huge camp we found that has 8 bedrooms and an industrial sized kitchen, with a game's just in a field, surrounded by woods...not on the water...but in the Adirondacks, one would have to drive to go fishing or swimming. But it would fit us so much better. I am SO leaning towards the camp on the water, I am supposed to be sending the deposit in today for it....the bigger one is more expensive, but still within budget. It's like one of those shows, Ben and I keep texting each other the pros and cons...with a few more babies being born into the family, we will be bursting at the seams in the lakeside camp. A few of the older kids will have to rent hotel rooms in town and commute. But the big camp will fit us all. But. We won't be able to just go jump in that freezing cold lake whenever we want, or just take the kayaks out, or go fishing in the boat whenever....I am not a decision maker in any sense, I go back and forth, and when I finally make up my mind, I jump right into second guessing myself. It's bad. Most of the kids agree to the big camp, it allows dogs, which is a deal breaker for Char. But. A few of them are like, NO WAY. There is NOTHING in this world like waking up and sitting out on the porch with a cup of coffee, and listening to the loons...just watching the water. And the sunsets up there, oh dear me.

We can drive to beaches and lakes, drive to places...and we'll have fun. The big camp has a huge-O stove, like the kind in my dreams, and an industrial/commercial refrigerator. There is seating for like 30 people, and so much room to rattle around in.

If we don't love it, our week at the original camp might be hard or impossible to get back for the next year. So it's a gamble. Part of me says to go for it, it'll be new and different and we'll all be there, so how can it be anything but fun? Margaret says she'll bring a little pool, ha.

I bought a new stroller. I still love strollers. I found one in T.J.Max for $150, but I behaved myself and didn't buy it, even though they sell for $400 elsewhere. (City Premier by Baby Jogger) I reasoned that it would be nice to have for the grandkids, and for when I watch Anne. But no, I resisted. I went to that store a few more times, and dang it, it was still there. Well, on Saturday, I went there to get a gift for Camille, and lo-and-behold, it was there, and when I tried to resist, what???!!! There was a RED tag on it! Upon closer investigation, wow! It was marked down to $90! Did I NEED it? Heck no! But for $90, yes. Yes, I needed it. I put it in my cart, and when Evelyn rejoined me after shopping in the shoe section, she just shook her head, and snapped a pic for Sonja.

It's for Margaret. That's a good thing. She did already buy one, but a different one. She's twenty weeks now, and this stroller will be great for her, as she can get a bassinet for it and make it a pram.

What fun.

Kittens...we are giving away the lady wants two for her two little girls...then there is one left to give away, since we are keeping one little orange guy, making our cat total three, which is just this side of crazy, in my mind.

Today...we are going to the pool.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

math science history, unraveling a mystery....'s fun, it's can start to write a blog post or put a load in the washer quick, but then there's a math you have to be present, you have to be patient.

Next week, we were planning to take an overnight trip for Camille's birthday. My baby is turning ten years old! Our house is most often hopping with older kids, grand kids, friends...Miss Cam helps with little Anne, who is here three days a week. She plays with her little nieces when they visit. For her birthday, we thought it would be nice to go away for a night, so we could have some fun, just the three homeschooled kids and me. We spent far too long researching, and finding just the right place...(that's school, right?), then I tried to book it, the excitement was IN THE AIR, and nope, it didn't work. A glitch somewhere. So I called the hotel directly, and the prices on the phone were way more than online. So no, not going to do it. I told Cam maybe we aren't meant to go, but I would try again later.

Because, going overnight to spend some time in the hot tub, the pool, have hours of's fun.

I also suggested we save the money and buy her a bike instead...she got flustered, she hates wasting money, it makes her feel bad, so I just shut up about it and said that we'll have fun going away.

Anyway. She's doing division problems in front of the fake fireplace. The skies have cleared up, I opted out of my walk this morning because it was so chilly and pouring rain. I know I won't melt, but getting soaked to the skin...just no.

We are going to the library in a bit, for more stacks of books, and to let Anne play a bit.

And let me go off on a tangent, please. Let's go back in time, ten years. Ten years ago, I started this blog. I was still pregnant for Camille, didn't know she was a girl until she was born. But anyway. Ten years ago...let's see what life looked like...
Emily was 22
Abigail was 20
Benjamin 18
Mirielle 17
Joseph 16
Aaron 14
Mali 13
Samuel 12
Margaret 10
Kathryn 9
Evelyn 8
Suzanne 6
Sonja 5
(baby Robert in between Sonja and Jon)
Jonathan 3
Char 18 months

I was knee deep in it, ha. When Cam was born, 8 kids ten and under. Oh my dear goodness.


I changed my mind about this autumn, it's not the most beautiful ever. The leaves seemed to be blowing off the trees before they get a chance to become breathtaking. There are so many bare naked trees already. There is something chilling about bare trees, something foreboding, like you know what's coming, you can't stop it, it's stronger than you. Winter humbles me. We're fortunate enough to have gloves and boots, and a warm place to live, but without all that, it would win.

The warm walking mornings are taken for granted, then you realize that being cold on a morning walk isn't just a joke, it's really happening again. You can bundle up, but having an ice cube nose and a hat on your head isn't the same as walking with the cool breeze blowing your hair. Your fingers huddle under your jacket sleeves, until you know gloves have to be dug out of the closet.

Maybe I'm getting old, getting tired of being cold, maybe I am understanding my mother-in-law more, she winters in Florida but is staying in the stark cold north until January this year. It hasn't even started and I find it dismal. Morning walks when the road is icy, nope. When the snowbanks make it nearly impossible for a non-nimble old lady like me to hop out of the way of a speeding snowplow. It did happen once, I almost got snowplowed. I kid you not. It was the hands-down most terrifying experience of my life. It was when we still had our sheepdog, Rosie-The-Bad-Dog. She was barking like crazy at our neighbors down the road, barking and circling the neighbor's tractor/plow, as they tried to clear their driveway. I had to go down the road and lunge for that dogs collar, drag her unhappy butt back down towards our house, when the snowplow came barreling down the road. The snowbanks were huge, but I leaped right into it, scrambled out of the road for dear life. I probably spent the first few minutes warning time, when I first realized that the plow was indeed coming, deciding what the heck to do, then it was almost upon me, and dang it, I dove right into that snow bank. I don't even remember if I let go of Rosie so that she could bark at the plow, I don't remember. I just remember the terror, and then coming into the house and telling everyone I almost got hit, uh huh, you're fine, "almost" doesn't count.

Anyway. The sun is coming out, Cam needs help, and I haven't had breakfast yet.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017


But first, let's finish with with my two granddaughters, Anya (Ben and Ashley's, Ben had a class and Ashley just had a baby), and Lydia...Mali went too, along with Miss Char the haunted doll, and Miss Cam, the artist...

It was cold out. We bundled up, brought blankets for the wagon. While we were driving to pick up Anya and meet Mali and Lydia, I talked to Char and Cam about being happy in what you do, verses doing what makes you happy. We talked about how life isn't about trying your darnedest to line things up just so, so that you are personally comfy and happy, but about being good and blessing and listening to what God has to say during it all. They were pretty gung-ho to be good Aunties to Anya and Lydia, and I think they really were. They brought Anya up to the houses with them to Trick or Treat, so motherly and gentle, and patient too. I think they were really blessed back by her joy, and all in all were very happy campers. Also, I told them that since we were going with younger ones and they didn't go to as many houses as they would otherwise have gone to, I would stop at the store on the way home and let them buy a few bags. So I did:) it is November. wow.