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

Sunday, December 31, 2017

never a dull moment, and always have clean hair...

Because, like Charlotte Claire said today in the waiting room at the Urgent Care Center, "This is not what I expected to be doing today." Char was unlucky enough to get a kitty scratch right on her eyeball today, right out of the blue...she was lying on the couch staring at the mama cat, and mama cat just reached her paw out and took a swipe.

So four degrees out and snowy, off we went to get it checked out. Of course I talked to Emily first, Em is almost a nurse practitioner, and has friends in hospital-y places. I texted her pics, she forwarded them to an eye dr. friend, and the verdict: go to urgent care, get it checked out, so we did. The cornea has a small scratch, so to Walmart for a prescription for antibiotic drops we went.

It hurt her quite a bit when it first happened, the she felt a lot better, but we went in anyway in case my A#1 diagnostic skills missed anything, and because of the possibility of infection. And here's the thing: These things only happen when I really need to wash my hair. I was planning to do it today. With such cold weather, I shower each night before bed, then wash my hair separately every other day in the sink, so as to not go to bed with wet hair. And today when Char got scratched, my immediate thought was Oh Great My Hair's Dirty, I Can't Go To The E.R. So shh, I did wash it quick while waiting for Emily to call me back. :) (once when Sam was about 9, and I was knee-deep in little ones, he got smacked in the forehead with a baseball, and oh the gaping tear, I almost fainted, I am not good with blood, and also my hair was dirty, and the thought of loading 12 or 13 or however many kids into that big van and driving to the E.R. was...well, let's just say I waited until Paul came home and let him take him up. This was before cell phones, and he didn't pick up the phone at work, so I hoped he was coming straight home. Imagine his surprise and delight when he walked in the door then right back out with poor Samuel...oh, Bad Mom Award.

Walmart. Oh Walmart, I hate you but love you so. The pharmacy shuts completely down for lunch break, and that's when we arrived. So poor us, we had to wander around and fill the cart with 75% off Christmas clearance. Just for the record, I refuse to buy wrapping paper and store it for a whole year, no matter how cheap. It's just not that expensive to buy next year. I will buy ornaments if they're pretty, and gift sets, sure. I got a nice bath set today for the girls, for $3.74, with body wash, lotion, spray, and a pair of purple slippers. We got some chocolate, and an apron for Evelyn, for less than two dollars, because the other day she saying she needed one. We got half and half, bagels, butter, and two new bins to store the Christmas ornaments in.

Home...ah, home. I was particularly happy to pull in the driveway today because the roads were awful! It is so cold here in the northeast! It was below zero this morning, and in the lower single digits...and when lake effect snow is falling, the road salt doesn't work, and there was a car off the road right as I left the small city...then another one. Oh dang. I was thankful I had the truck, and it has four-wheel drive.

Anyway. Tonight, I am going to bed early...because I have to wake up and be out the door by three a.m. THREE A.M.! Is there a more unGodly hour? The temperature at that time is forecast to be -7 f (-21.6c). We will board our bus to NYC, and go to Citi Field for the hockey game.

Oh joy. Oh yippee. I'm trying to have a good attitude. It sounded fun when I signed up, ha. I have a new red Coleman thermos from Christmas, I will fill that with hot coffee, and hope to heck there is a bathroom on that bus, a five hour trip it is. And then we have to work outside in this cold, so we are dressing in layers...I am hoping this work doesn't involve stairs, I do hate stairs, in a much more intense way than I hate Walmart.

There is a party going on here tonight! Mirielle and Margaret are coming over, and having lots of fun with the younger kids. Sonja put chicken wings in the oven, and I bought them dips and chips and pizza rolls and good drinks. I hope I sleep through this party, so I am not too exhausted at 2:45 when the alarm goes off. Because I don't sleep on planes, and prob don't sleep on buses.

Camille and I made brownies, they frosted them, and declared them yummers, and I am abstaining. Can you just smell them? The whole house is chocolate-y and one little piece of the crusty outside part, oh dear, no, I cannot. I am behaving today.

Yup, so bye for now. Pray for us on our little journey, that we don't get frostbite, and that I don't encounter too many stairs...

Friday, December 29, 2017

living in frozen...

This was the other day when we watched little Anne...she got tired, so I rocked her in a snuggy blanket. :) Em posted it on the family chat. But alas, I had to get up and get ready to go work the basketball game, and her mama and daddy came to get her...

This is from right now, taken from my comfy chair...outside, snow on the trees, and it's cold out there! 4 degrees (-15c), but much warmer than yesterday, which was -5F (-20c). Either way, it feels like you have no pants on after five minutes of shoveling off the deck steps.

A random pic from the other day, Suzanne playing with Lydia "Lydster", and Anya.

Last evening, we had lasagna for dinner. It was so cold, we decided to just eat in the living room, where the little fake fireplace makes it seem warmer than it is, and the couches and the rugs and the candle and the glowing tree make it cozy. It was only Paul and I, Joseph, Kathryn, Evelyn, Suzanne, Sonja, Jonathan, Char, and Camille. Their friends Toby, Timmy, Zech, and Amanda had gone home. When it's only us, we rattle around like peas in a pod, like the book, "The Cow in the House", by Harriet Ziefert, which I do recommend you read. (Plot: Old woman gets complain-y that her house is too small while she rolls out noodles. Husband, the farmer, gets advice from wise man to bring the chickens into the house. Then the other farm animals, one by one, while the wife complains how small and crowded the house is. Finally, even the cow goes into the little house. Then the wise man asks if the house is crowded, and the farmer answers that if his brother visited with his ten children, all steps and stairs, things would be really, "higgeldy piggeldy". The wise man said he was making progress, and advised him to start taking the animals out, one by one, and when the cow was finally out of the house, the wife announced that the house was really nice and roomy. So. When all the company leaves, and it's just us, it's like getting the cow out of the house. ha.


Yesterday, I did go out and about, with Emily and Evelyn. Em and I needed to buy some khaki pants, so we were headed to the thrift store. See, on New Year's Day, some of us are boarding a bus at an unGodly hour, and heading to New York City to work at the Citi Classic Hockey game, a fundraiser for our church, and the dress code requires khaki pants, which may not be a prob for most people, but I hate khaki pants and did not own any until yesterday's purchase of a pair for $4.99. We also have to wear black shoes or boots, of which I own neither, and since I have extremely picky feet which aren't comfy in anything except for my five year old Adiddas bright blue sneakers, I was most surprised and delighted to pick up a pair of Grips, new with the tags, black galoshes for over the sneakers.

Now this adventure is interesting, this bus trip to NYC. It's like five hours, and we have to arrive at the parking lot where the bus will depart, at 3:55 a.m. That means leaving the house at 3:00 a.m., which means getting up at 2:30, 2:45, which is what time I usually go to bed on New Year's Eve. I won't be able to fall asleep any earlier than midnight anyway, on vacation like this with the kids around. So after two hours of sleep, we'll be headed on a bus, in record cold temperatures, to work at a stadium....OUTSIDE. Well, no one can tell us for sure where we'll be working, and for some reason we were all right with this, and since the hockey game is taking place in a baseball stadium which is being adapted for hockey, the food kiosks are technically outside...and it's going to be freeeeeezing cold and windy. How, may I ask, am I supposed to take money and give change, with freezing hands? Fingerless gloves have been suggested, but then fingers are exposed, and my old-lady hands don't work in the cold. We have to wear a shell, or outer jacket, which they give us, and our own winter gear underneath, so we will dress in layers. I am thinking leggings under the khaki pants. Someone suggested long johns, but this old mama isn't outdoors-y enough to own a pair, and I am not investing in any. Anyway.

The thing about this adventure is that only SIXTEEN people signed up for it...Paul and I, Emily and Abigail...Evelyn and Ben couldn't because they didn't take the required alcohol training course because Ben was still out west when it was given, and Ev was still 17 then. Kathryn has to work, so she isn't going.

We will take the bus down there, work where they assign us, then back on the bus for the long ride home. I am hoping we have fun, we don't get bus sick, or hypothermia. I'm sure it will end up being fine. Some of my older kids are going to make it nice for our littler ones on New Year's Eve, and on New Year's Day too.

Anyway, our trip out and about yesterday was worthwhile, we got our khakis, and I found a mint condition Wii game for the kids, and a nice white bowl, and was able to use a $7 off a $25 purchase at the thrift store, which is always fun. We grocery-stored, and then stopped into Aldi quick for some nuts and bars for the bus, and scored Hershey Christmas kisses for $1.47 a bag. When you live in a house full of girls, you can never have too much chocolate.

Today, I am hoping to bring my three high school girls and my three homeschooled kids on a little adventure, to a museum, then out to Chinese....shh, don't tell them, it's a surprise. They have been in the house a lot, and it IS freezing out, but the roads aren't too bad, I don't think. Paul went to work, and texted that the main roads are fine. Ah, winter driving, how I despise thee.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

the festivities continue....

Sunny likes Christmas.
Paul handed out the presents, as per tradition.

Sweet new grand baby Elise, all snuggly and warm. It's such a blessing when the grandkids come in the door. Elise's big sister Anya comes in and hands out the hugs, and when she shouts, "Hi Grandma!", oh joy. Lydia was here yesterday too, and being two years old, the day after Christmas, she was a little bit tired and overwhelmed. We didn't mind a few meltdowns.

A few years ago, six to be exact, before we had any grandchildren. Camille was so little!

Okay, so we have had so many celebrations here! Our secret Santa was last night, because all the kids who live locally could come, the three nurses didn't have to work, finally, after three 12 hour shifts in a row for Em and Mirielle! Mali worked all day on Christmas, too. Fourteen of the kids were here,(and Ashley and Adrian and the three granddaughters) only Aaron in San Francisco, and Sam with his new baby down in Virginia, weren't here.

Secret Santa was so much fun! Kathryn got me and bought me a Columbia jacket/raincoat. I do love it, but would never spend that much on something. Abigail bought Joseph a backpacking sleeping bag, and Mirielle got a warm fuzzy blanket and some wine. Some of the older kids pitched in and got me a new kitchen faucet! A really nice fancy Moen! I was totally surprised!

Paul loved the kayak! Have I told the kayak story yet? Well, it was supposed to come the week Paul was in Boston, but that would have been way too simple. It arrived at Walmart last week, and we couldn't figure out how to lie and use the truck, so I decided to just shove it into the minivan. Not without googling the heck out of "fitting kayak into minivan", and measuring the inside from dash to hatchback. Sonja K. agreed to get up early Saturday morning with me, Christmas Eve Eve, and go give it a try. We were apparently the only people the Walmart history to buy a kayak in the winter, according to the workers who marveled at our ship-to-store purchase. The nice guy who helped load it into the van didn't think it was a good idea to drive with it like that, but hey, I'm willing to take a chance once in a while. Sonja was in the passenger seat, and we could not see each other, as that kayak was reaching the windshield between us, turned on it's side.

Home with the kayak: Paul hadn't gone ice fishing! The truck was in the driveway! Would he see us? We sneaked that kayak out, and carried it to the back yard, no plan, just trying to hide it before he looked out the window. We couldn't drag it because he would see the tracks in the snow. We wanted to put it in the utility room, but all his ice fishing gear was in there, and he would see the kayak for sure. So we just carried it around to the back of the swimming pool and left it there.

Paul was out in the yard so many times running around with the dogs (we had four dogs here for three days, Margaret and Adrian brought Bunny and Ham, their Boxer-Lab mixes, who are one year old, and four months old.)

So I thought he had seen the kayak for sure.

On Christmas morning, Paul went out to get the surprises he had ordered for Charlotte Claire and Camille: new bikes! They were thrilled! Big plans for spring and summer!

Then I moved those bikes over in that kitchen, and Jonathan and Adrian sneaked out to the back yard and brought in the kayak. A ten foot fishing kayak! I told Paul to come into the kitchen, and he was really, genuinely surprised! He hadn't seen it, hadn't known anything about it!

So we had a nice Christmas. I am thankful for my family. We have way too much fun. The kids got a hoverboard, and right now Jonathan is sweeping the kitchen floor while hover-ing, playing Hotel California on the bluetooth speaker. I am thankful that when I run straight out of natural patience, God is more than willing to help me along when I ask and pray. I am thankful that so many in the family are occupied with "seeking peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord", so that it's good here. There are little disagreements, but there is no fighting. It's a good place, a good home, and I am very thankful for that.

Now that Bunny and Ham have gone home with Margaret and Adrian, it seems quiet here, even though there are still eight kids here. Paul is back at work. Davian and his little sister Anne will be here any minute now, and the kids are having friends over too. Five of us will be working at the Dome today, basketball game. Brr, it's 8 degrees out!

And Anne and Davian are here, so bye for now....

Monday, December 25, 2017

merry merry merry christmas!

The presents are piled up under the tree. Margaret and I are having coffee while the two Labradors and her and Adrian's two Boxadors rumble and play. Jonathan is up, Paul is up, and the little girls are snoozing. We set the time of nine o'clock to open gifts, but there is a lot of sleeping happening still. (Margaret and Adrian have moved in for a few days, Abigail has too!)

Kids are getting up, so mama isn't going to sit here blogging!!!! Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 23, 2017

we visited warmth and sunshine...

His name is Grant! Isn't he precious?

We drove down to Virginia, and 50 degrees and sunny, yes sir, we'll take it.

With Evelyn, enjoying some sun.

Adrian, Emily, Mirielle, me, and Evelyn...we went to the hospital to visit baby, and to see Grace and Samuel. Baby Grant was in the NICU (newborn intensive care) with an infection, so I.V. antibiotics, and low sugar levels, and then he developed jaundice. I was the only one of us five to be able to go in and see baby, but I couldn't hold him. Seeing Samuel hold him was precious enough though.

The next day we went out walking, and went shopping, and to lunch, before heading back to the hospital. Imagine our surprise and delight that Grant was doing so much better, he was expected to move into the regular nursery before night! So we all got to visit him, and hold him!!!

Samuel is totally smitten. I am so proud of both he and Grace, they are good parents already.

And this is all for now...home again!!!

Monday, December 18, 2017

just call me grandma!!!! a new baby has been born!!!

A baby grandson! Little Grant has been born! My son Samuel is a daddy. And now I have four grandchildren.

The little family is in Virginia, 6 -7 hours from here, but guess what? Yeah, we're going to go see this new baby this week. Not sure of the details yet, and we don't want to overwhelm the new mama, but we thought a short meet on Wednesday, maybe a little visit on Thursday, and then back home by Friday. So, road trip the week before Christmas!

Since he's not my newborn, I don't want to post any pics without asking, but will you believe me that he's beautiful?

What else is happening here...cookies!

I made a double batch on Saturday, a ten cups of flour recipe. It took h o u r s.

One container is in the freezer, most of them went to the church Christmas celebration yesterday, which was totally fun and amazing.

We had some older kids and the three granddaughters over in the afternoon. Anya said to me, "Grandma, I'm starving. We could have macaroni and cheese. It's really easy to make." So thankfully I had some. Paul had made ginger stew with venison, but little kids like their mac and cheese, and mini hot dogs too. I cut up some carrots and celery and oranges, too.

The granddaughters light up my life.

Anyway. Today has things that need to be accomplished: one van won't start, is the battery still under warranty? Jon needs his small game license, and we are almost out of paper towels.

And I need to make menus and plans for the upcoming days...and planning, um, it's not my thing.

Friday, December 15, 2017

8 degrees out there...

-13.3c. Brrr. Jack Frost has decorated the glass on the door, and the snow crunches underfoot. The sun is out now, but more lake effect snow is coming later. Hopefully AFTER I pick Paul up from the airport, he's coming home from Boston this evening.

Anne is coming over in a little while. I had too much fun yesterday, Emily brought Jonathan, Char, and Cam ice skating. I was here with Anne, who turned a year in September, and Lydia, who turned two in August, and I just realized that I had kids who were 14 months apart, how did I do it? They were really good, but oh dear, it kept me on my toes. Anne seemed to be watching for me to forget to watch out for my glasses, my coffee, or my phone, but I was just a shade quicker than she was, although she did manage to swipe my phone a few times. I had to trade her for something good to get it back. The two of them got along just fine.

That stroller in the background was Lydia's doing, she loaded it up with stuff. She took the two Christmas towels from the front of the stove, and referred to them as, "the red and green paper towels." She knows her colors, her numbers, and we had at least ten phone calls back and forth, she called me from the Fisher-Price Chatterbox telephone, and I answered on my phone. She would ask if I was coming home soon, and I would say yes, do you need anything from the store? After a brief conversation, she would say, "goodbye!", then call me again. Over and over again.

After Lydia and Anne went to their homes, and the skating kids were back home, and things were all settled down, Evelyn and I went to the grocery store. And to Walmart, for a few last minute gifts. One of my sons asked for, "All of the pillows.", for Christmas. So I got him three, and three pillowcases, which believe me, the guilt of BUYING pillow cases! I can make them, and heaven knows I have bins of fabric! But the sewing machine hasn't seen the light of day in quite a while. I do not know how I stay so busy. But I do.

Anyway. I stayed up late last night wrapping stuff, and I have washed the Christmas stockings. I am excited about Christmas...Paul's gift is stuck in Chicago, it was supposed to be here a week ago. I was really hoping it arrived while he was out of town. I hope it makes it on time. I can't tell what it is, even though I do not think for one second that he reads this blog, ha.

Bye for now...Anne.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

snow day!!!

Camille was the first one up, and was out the door with me...

Snow Day! But it started out that school was delayed for two hours. I wanted more sleep because we all know that when Paul is traveling for work (he's in Boston), Della stays up way too late reading, so morning comes as a shocker. I knew Lydia was coming, I knew Anne was coming, and the driveway had to be shoveled.

Miss Char got up and helped. Jonathan got the snowblower started, and had the rest of the driveway clear in no time.

I don't mind getting up and going out to shovel. It's invigorating, and the doggies love playing in the snow. Sunny thinks every shovelful is something to chase and dive into.

Anyway...I procrastinated the whole getting up out of my nice warm bed thing, checked my phone one more time, and YES, school was now CLOSED! I texted Mali to see when Lydia was coming, and she wasn't, because her daddy had a snow day too. Anne was still supposed to come though, so we had to get up and get moving and clear that driveway. Then, she didn't come. So...I could have stayed in bed. oh well. :(

The three high school girls were getting up as we finished up with the driveway, and the coffee was ready. We turned on the tree lights, cranked up the fake fireplace, and cuddled under blankets, and planned our day. The kids decided to go sledding in the back.

Surprise! Kathryn decided to give Jonathan an early Christmas present! Kathryn had to work today, she was working from home, and busy, but Evelyn, Suzanne, Sonja, Jon, Charlotte Claire, and Camille went sledding. (Joseph works from home too, he's a freelance artist). I got to work on the triple batch of gingerbread cookie dough. We decided that gingerbread houses are over rated, and too much work, so we just made the cookies. After sledding, we had another cozy time in the living room, this time they had Evelyn's homemade hot chocolate, while I had a second cup of coffee. Then, time to frost the cookies!

Dinner went into the oven, chicken and gravy. I peeled potatoes and made mashies, and we had stuffing and veggies, and some cranberry sauce, because it is Abigail's birthday, and she came over after work. Emily came over too, so we had a nice dinner, the eleven of us.

Emily asked me how I like it that my house is such a hub for people coming over. I told her that 99% of the time I love it. I enjoy the kids, and like having company. I wish the house would automatically be always clean though. I get tired of cleaning it. It doesn't stay clean, not with all the peoples still living here, and the doggies and kitties. Evelyn determined today that, "Mom is the biggest slob." And yes, I had to admit, I had left shoes I wore to the Christmas concert next to my chair in the living room since December 2nd. And yes, that was my coffee cup sitting there. And my sweater is draped on the back of the couch, what?! I got hot! I have pairs of glasses everywhere, and leave my slippers wherever I am when my feet get too hot, then look for them later. I have passed these tendencies on to my kids, and somehow we all manage to survive. Today was nice because they all pitched in so much, and got the place neat and tidy in no time flat.

Having people over is a blessing though. When I know company is coming, I do that panic cleaning, the kind of cleaning I'm best at. I don't exactly throw stuff under the couch, but I get it straightened up in double time. It's usually when I do something clever like drop the glass bottle of olive oil out of the cupboard, smash, glass and oil all over the floor. This is a true story, and it happened the other day when we were expecting all kinds of company.

I told Em that the grass is always greener, with us humans. Solitude sounds lovely sometimes, but I don't really crave it. I would appreciate some quiet alone time, but I also am super thankful for having the kid, and friends and older kids and grand kids coming over.

Anyway. The gingerbread cookies: they are too good. Do not make them, and if you do, don't triple the recipe. I ate at least six, if not TEN of them today, all together. What? I can't help that Evelyn brought her mama a steaming hot cup of coffee while we were frosting! "In for a penny, in for a pound", is not a wise saying when consoling oneself about cookie-eating.

But what a grand day we had.

Tomorrow, my three high school girls will be heading back to high school. Anne and Lydia will be coming over, and I think Jonathan and Char are going cross-country skiing with Emily. Shh, Em wouldn't want me to brag, but she is done with school for the term, did excellent on her last final, and has ONE semester left before being qualified to take the Nurse Practitioner exam, or whatever it's called. She's still working full time as a registered nurse, so she's busy...but now that she has a few weeks between school terms, we'll see a little more of her. :)

She is teaching Camille the clarinet, which is adorable. Jonathan is learning trumpet, and Char is plucking the guitar, plinking the piano a little, and trying out the violin. I am not musical, but some of my kids certainly are. Today we burst into some pretty lovely renditions of Christmas songs. Suzanne played, "I'll Be Home For Christmas" (Bing Crosby), and they teased me as I started to get teary-eyed. Aaron won't be home for Christmas, and Samuel won't either.

So after Emily and Abigail left, the dinner was cleaned up and put away, and we had watched, "Psych The Movie", Jonathan, Char, Cam, and I went in the hot tub. 16 degrees out, and a 104 degree hot tub: mmm-hmmm. yup. Very nice. Then the coyotes started howling, and they were too close for comfort, so we hopped out and ran through the snow back into the house. Ev and Char put on boots and put the covers back on, turned it back down. Walking in the snow to get in that thing is crazy, but getting out, dripping and hot, and walking back through the snow is crazy!

All showered and ready for bed...we had a good day.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

dreaming of a white christmas...

Jonathan and Charlotte Claire shoveled the driveway, Paul is in Boston for the week, and he's the one who knows how to start the snowblower. When he gets home, I am totally going to have him show me how.

The trampoline needed to be shoveled off this morning, too.

Yesterday's adventure was not how we planned, we drove 47 minutes to this special bakery/diner, and lo and behold, it was closed. The website listed it as open, but it had a closed sign in the window, and was all dark. hmmph. We got a coffee at Dunkin, and headed back to our area, where we ate at a local diner. By the time we sat down it was almost noon, and we were hungry. Mirielle and Char, Cam and I, we cleaned our plates. Well, not me, I saved half of the cinnamon raisin was hard to do, because it is baked fresh from a local bakery and delivered to this diner, and it is delectable. I shouldn't have had any of it, but when you name this diner, I think of this bread. You can keep the burgers and fries, I like the bread. So I had scrambled eggs and hash browns, and bacon. I swore to myself I wouldn't eat anything else for the rest of the day. But. I did. And, it was another egg, with a piece of sausage. Dinner for Evelyn and I, who had gone on a new coat quest...

See, Ev wanted a new coat for Christmas. We found one online, very reasonably priced, and ordered it. It didn't fit her right, but it did fit one of her sisters, who is now getting it for Christmas, so much for surprises. Anyway, we have gone from store to store to find her a coat, but they are so expensive. We ended up getting one at the warehouse store, for a good enough price, and she likes it okay. The good part was we went out yesterday afternoon and spent several hours together, which is always nice.

I do not know how these dogs have so much energy to fight and fool around after all that playing in the snow while the kids shoveled. They are worse than kids, the way they play. It doesn't last all day, thankfully, they get so tired and take huge-0 naps. I am about to send them back out the door. Sunny is the rabble-rouser, Suri wants to just lie around, but Sunny goes over and bites her leg, and puts toys in her face to get her to take the bait and start tugging back. They are wrestling on the couch, 75 pound dogs.

Time for school, and Anne is coming over...

Monday, December 11, 2017

it's the most wonderful time, of the year....

Evelyn made these yesterday, and somehow I know that they were excellently yummers.

Snow! This is from yesterday evening, it's been snowing lots more, and it's coming down like a snow globe right now.

Miss Sonja K. helped decorate the gingerbread cookies. Saturday night, after a long busy day working at the Dome, I didn't feel like doing much, but Evelyn and Charlotte Claire and Camille wanted to do something fun. (Kathryn took Suzanne secret Santa shopping, and Jonathan was at a boys' weekend having fun). So we ordered chicken wings and a pizza, watched silly Hallmark movies, and made cookies. #coziness.

Okay, here's a story: I got a Christmas card in the mail from Wegmans, a grocery store chain here in the northeast, the best supermarket ever, and I am a supermarket geek. I almost threw the card away, but I scanned the print inside, and instead of just saying, "Merry Christmas", this card said, and I honestly thought it was a scam, but it said that I qualified for a prize for being one of their best customers. Visit the service desk to claim my $50 gift card and coupons, as well as a gift. ha, I thought, but I did it anyway. I presented the card at the service desk on Friday, and what????!!!!!! I was in the top 100 customers for my local store. Top 100!??? Indeed. The manager came to congratulate me, and present the gift box. I was floored. No scam here. Then the box itself held coupons for free things! A free pound of shrimp, free ready-made entrees, ect, and a bottle of herbed sunflower oil. Plus, a fifty dollar gift card.

This does mean that perhaps I spend too much at the grocery store, I mean, I go to Wegmans, but I also go to BJ's, and Tops, and Price Chopper.

Anyway, it was too much fun.

Yesterday, Cheryl and I took our husbands to the airport. Bill was heading down to Georgia to visit his parents, and Paul was renting a car to go to Boston for the week, for work. They just happened to both have to be at the airport at the same time, so Cheryl and I found ourselves in the town we grew up in, and we had fun...the Geddes bakery, first. That's where Margaret and Adrian got their wedding donuts, one year ago yesterday, Happy Anniversary! We were celebrating Abigail's birthday yesterday, so that was going to be the cake, a dozen assorted donuts, then three different muffins in a separate box for a birthday gift, Ab loves muffins.

Anyway. Cheryl and I went to Kmart, then to Target, and got lots of Christmas shopping done. We got coffee, and talked, and it was a great day.

Home...Evelyn had made cinnamon buns, and it smelled heavenly in here. I put a ham in the oven, then quartered some potatoes, tossed them in olive oil and seasonings, and roasted them up. We had apples sauce and veggies, too. Then dessert: gingerbread cookies (they were SO good!), the cinnamon rolls, the Oreo truffles I had made (do NOT make these. You have been warned. They are way too good. One package of Oreos, or store brand, I used Wegmans, all broken up, add an 8 ounce package of cream cheese, blended together until smooth. I dipped mine in a bag of chocolate chips, melted with a bit of coconut oil and some white chocolate melting wafers. Then for some of them, I added Andes mint chocolate chips, and made some minty ones. They are too good, so do not make them.). There were donuts, cut in halves, of course, and even quarters, for tasting purposes. I only had one thin slice of a chocolate frosted one, one truffle, and a few tastes of cinnamon roll...then like four gingerbread cookies. blah. But. Today is a new day.

We were celebrating Abigail's 31st birthday. She is my second oldest child, born back when I was a mere 21 years old. Ab is a very special daughter. She's my accountant daughter, and she's sweet and funny and genuine, faithful and kind and thoughtful. She's diligent and responsible, and she has a laugh that makes every one around her laugh too.

Some of us went in the hot tub in the evening, which was delightful under the falling snow. The little girls got out, rolled in the snow, and jumped back in. Not me, it was hard enough to walk barefoot in the snow then get into the tub, but hey, 104 degrees when it's 25 outside is pretty sweet.

Today, we are going on an adventure. Mirielle is picking me up, and we are going to a a bakery/restaurant in a small town a ways from here, owned by my brother's son's girlfriend, so my nephew's girlfriend, Mirielle's cousin's girlfriend. She bakes her own breads, makes everything fresh and is a pastry chef. So, we have been wanting to visit her restaurant, and today is the day. The snow is falling, it looks so Christmas-y, and we are off...and shh, I know, two days in a row of eating the wrong things...but I'll be careful.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

just being there....

Our twenty dollar Christmas tree...I rather like it's odd proportions, it's nice and old fashioned. And my girls won again: white lights.

The little girls counted, we made 96 cookies...and frosted them. I did not eat one cookie, not a whole one. I do confess to breaking off a few pieces to taste, which is silly, because how can these not taste good? Seriously? Butter, real vanilla, flour and sugar, eggs, then more sugar on top:) But before you think me too virtuous, I will also confess to eating 3/4 of a chocolate bar last night. I was so good all day, then I just HAD to have chocolate. Dang it, no one else wanted a square, and I wasn't paying close attention. Do you want to hear more excuses or is that good enough? BTW, it was really yummy, good old fashioned Hershey's milk chocolate.

Yesterday, Camille said, "I don't know why, but I am just so happy." Ah, young children at Christmas time.

Then this morning, she woke up from a bad dream. She dreamed that Evelyn had magic powers and that she had turned evil. She prattled on about it all, then she got to the end, the bad part, where she had to give me one last hug. Ah Cam, I just hugged her for a while, told her I love her. Poor girl. She's watching, "Arthur", right now, because the school day hasn't started yet, ha. Anne will be here soon, and we'll be getting busy. The days fly by.

Yesterday, we did go out and about. I wanted to get something for Abigail's birthday (yes, we have THREE kids born in December!, just in case Christmas presents weren't enough to buy.) We went to Marshall's and found not only Ab's gift but some good Secret Santa things. Then since we had Anne in the stroller, she was happy, we walked down to Moe's. Moe's is a chain restaurant, Mexican food. The kids LOVE it. It's like Chipotle, you go through the line and customize your taco, burrito, rice bowl, or salad. Wednesday kids eat free, Jonathan pointed out. :)

We went to B.J.'s next a huge warehouse store. The kids like that place because of free samples. Anne was getting tired, but I still let the kids stop for waffle fries and mac and cheese, after all, it's a day in their lives. Char and Cam were adorable, they were singing songs to Anne as we walked along, keeping her happy, and I tell you, they were making complete strangers happy too, they were all out smiling at me as we passed them, and my girls were oblivious that they were in public.

Home...ah, home. We brought in the gifts and the groceries, and saved lots of our Moe's food for the three high school girls. We had coffee and cookies when they got home (no cookies for me though!), and it was cozy. I put the plate of cookies in front of Anne...she didn't know what one to choose.

This fine morning, I was extremely thankful that I could be here for Cam after her bad dream. I am thankful to be here when those three high school girls get off the bus, and for when the older ones stop over. My kids are growing up, but I'm still glad I can be here for them.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

cookies and coffee and sparkly things...

are the delusion of December, the sunshine and puppy dogs of the season. It's exciting! It is. I feel like a kid this year, all happy with anticipation. I got Paul something really cool, and with my own money, and can't wait for him to be all happy about it. If you must know, he's a hard one to please.That's not even the right way to describe it, it's more like he doesn't show it, or maybe that he doesn't see the need to fake it. If it's just a ho-hum gift, he'll give a ho-hum reaction, not smile and say how much he loves it, like I do.

Yesterday was really nice, in the early afternoon, Margaret and I went out shopping. I had some Target coupons: a ten dollar gift card came in the mail (off the purchase of fifty dollars or more), I had another gift card, then had returned some things and had still another gift card, then had a 20% off the total purchase coupon from black Friday. I got some Secret Santa stuff done, and a few gifts, and had a nice time with Margaret, she dawdles along and wasn't in a hurry, it was seriously enjoyable.

Our weekend was fantabulous. We had company on Friday night. I had a baking day on Friday. Four pumpkin pies, two loaves of bread, a loaf of low carb almond bread, and chocolate chip cookies.

Paul made venison stew, and some venison roast, both very good, and this from someone who doesn't like it very much.

Saturday was our church Christmas concert, the little girls sang, "We need a little Christmas", and it was sweet. It was incredibly blessed and encouraging. Here is my sister Cheryl with me. :)

Back at home in the evening, everyone was here except for Aaron. The nurses had the night off, Samuel was here for the weekend, and even Grandma visited, although I got here right after she left.

Sunday, more company! Paul was slicing up and packaging more deer meat at the kitchen table while I made a ham dinner at the other end of the room...ham, roasted potatoes, sliced veggies, rolls, and more cookies for dessert. There were at least twenty of us eating, and it was crazy but fun.

Now after all the company and the busyness, the house needs another thorough cleaning, but blah, I do not feel like it.

In a little while, Anne will be here. And after that, Sam will be leaving, going back to Virginia, to where he calls home these days. Some stories are not mine to tell, but you know, there is a story here, one that I have been going know how sometimes I say that life ain't all rainbows and sprinkles? Well, sometimes you just get hit with these trials, right out of left field, and wow. Okay. But here's the thing: Samuel is going to be a daddy! Imagine our surprise, not long after he got out of the Army, us not even knowing he had a sweetheart! So for all these months, I haven't said anything because he had to tell people his own way, and it's not my story to tell.

His sweetie's name is Grace, and she is just finishing her degree in elementary education. Their baby is due next month, and if it were up to Sam, he would marry her right now, but like I said, it's not my story. Sam is trying to find his way in life, instead of going to college after the Army like he thought he would, he's working and trying to find a job as a police officer. It serves him well that he was in the Old Guard, I have no doubt he will find something good. The fact is that Sam and Grace love each other very much, she is a very nice girl, I really like her. Things don't always go the way this mama thinks they should, children grow up, and have minds of their own. The good thing is that Sam is a good kid, and is very determined to go forward in life with living for God, and being responsible, and putting things right. He is extremely excited about the upcoming birth of his baby, and plans to be a good father, and help raise his son.

So, I am going to be a Grandma of four, and this will be the first grandson! :)

Friday, December 1, 2017

and on to december...

The girls are excited, today they get to start their "chocolate calendars", the cardboard advents with a little molded Christmas chocolate behind every door. They each get their own, which was unheard of back in the day, back when I was knee-deep in small children. On our wall calendar were the names of the kids whose turn it one time, we had four calendars and three kids sharing each one, so they got a chocolate every third day, it was hard to keep track of, then one of the toddlers or maybe a sneaky six year old, would get a hold of one of those calendars, open every little door, all the chocolate.

Anyway...back then, there was no way I was going to buy 12 or 10 or even six of those calendars, so they had to share. Sometimes they would choose to do the "every day we each get a small bite" method. Oh my poor kids, they had to learn to take turns and share.

Now Char and Cam and Jon each get their own calendar. But I'm pretty sure they will share with Kap and Ev and Suze and Sonja K.

Yesterday I spent a ridiculous amount of time painting these little sign things, you know, the painted wood block things that are all the rage? I bought some ugly ones at the dollar store, painted them with primer, then yesterday used white pearl essence acrylic, then wrote words with glue and put glitter on them...also painted one of those cardboard-y advent things with the drawers for each day...I spend a few hours on this stuff, with so many other things to do, and I can't even say they came out excellent...maybe I'll take some pics of them later...but I can say this: I enjoyed it immensely.

I am a procrastinator. I woke up this morning with all my plans for the day. I want to make some low carb almond/coconut flour bread. (Yesterday I made some of those keto muffins, cinnamon, with some low-sugar craisins in a few of them...I ate them with butter and a little bit of no sugar added strawberry preserves...mmmm.) I also want to make two loaves of regular homemade bread, because we are having company tonight, and we are having two different crock-pot venison dishes that Paul is making. One has peaches in it, one has squash, I think. I know he cut up onions and peppers last night, and the kitchen counter looked like a murder had taken place. I used the kitchen table to make up a triple batch of chocolate chip cookie dough, and then baked just three pans of them so the girls could have some for school, and will bake the rest today. Today, when I do the other million things I have to do.

Anyway, I woke up this morning, and started to get things out to make some bread. Then I reasoned that it's better hot from the oven, so I shouldn't start it yet. And besides, Camille wasn't up yet, and she's the bread kneader. I need to do a thorough cleaning of the bathroom, and and and. But. I decided that it's going to be such a busy day, I should take advantage of the quiet of the morning first, because it's going to be a long time before I can sit and relax again.

The dogs have been out and back in, 8 paws wiped off (sometimes I miss Duke so much I start to cry), they are snoozing on the couches but one bad Sunny did destroy a random tree ornament she found on the floor. It's shredded up, waiting for me to clean up. The cats are fed and watered, sprawled out sleeping. The floors have been swept, the counters washed, and that's about it.

This morning, I found a little ornament I had set on a shelf on the wall behind the the kitten's paws. It's a little white squirrel ornament with a gold sparkly scarf (Suzanne laughed when I actually bought it for $2, but it's cute!), but somehow that kitten got that ornament down and was beating the heck out of I took it away and put it back on the shelf, I realized: We have a kitten. We're getting a Christmas tree tomorrow. Dang it. Christmas trees are just giant kitty toys. We have had them tip over before, cats climb trees. We WILL tie it up, regardless, but still.

Anyway, I have so much to do, but I know I'll run out of steam if I start scurrying too soon. Or hmm, is that just one of my excuses? I think it's just that panic cleaning is more effective. And besides, if I clean now, it will be messy again later anyway.

Last evening, poor Jonathan asked me if we could please watch our friend's three/four month old puppy for the day before Christmas through the day after Christmas, he would get paid towards his trip! Um, no. I said no. That's a first, btw. I am not a "no" sayer. I usually say yes. Especially to a visiting puppy! And this is one adorable puppy. Margaret and Adrian have this puppy's sister. But guess what? Margaret and Adrian will be bringing their not-quite-one year old Bunny pup over, plus their little 3/4 month old pup here, on Christmas Eve, and have been invited to stay the night here, which will be fun...but add one more puppy to the mix, and this is where even me, who doesn't say NO, had to say no. It was hard. Jon was disappointed. He is trying hard to earn money for this big trip...Evelyn and Suzanne and Sonja, and Jon are going to Norway in the spring for a special conference, with activities geared toward youth. And earning money for this has been challenging...but it seemed like it would tip the scales here from crazy to just CRAZYYY>

Anyway. The kid have been wreath-selling and raking leaves and cleaning people's cars, and still have lots of money to earn in a short time period.

As you get older, you realize how with the passing of time, things that are such a big deal, will fade into memory with everything else, and therefore, you don't get so bent out of shape about things. Also, hopefully, you know for a fact that God does not make mistakes, and there is a huge comfort in that. You see that He has had His hand on situations, and on people, and that when you put your trust in Him, there is no shame, no disappointment. If God is for us, who can be against us? (Rom 8:31)