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, December 27, 2018

way back when....

This is way back when we had ten kids get on that school bus every morning(Mariel, Joseph, Aaron, Sam, Margaret, Kathryn, Evelyn, Suzanne, Sonja)...and a few older ones who were probably in college...Emily, Abigail, Ben...and then there were the younger ones who weren't in school yet...Jonathan, Charlotte Claire, and Camille wasn't born yet...but she would arrive in just a few months after this pic was taken, #16!!!

And...lots of kids here, time to blog some other time!!!

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

and just as quickly as it arrived, it left....

Christmas. But hopefully we're still jolly! All I wanted for Christmas: good kids, and a clean house. Well, the kids are good ha.

It's been a whirlwind, but a lovely one. On Christmas morning, Margaret asked if we could sing a Christmas song to Wulf....
Seven of my girls on Christmas morning...

We had Christmas Eve at Ben's, then Christmas morning quiet with only one of the grandchildren, little Wulf.

This year I got an Instapot! We used it yesterday, Emily made some amazing roast in it, with red can brown the meat up, then it takes a fraction of the time the crockpot takes. It's eight quarts, and I am pretty sure I'll be using it a lot. I can't help but think how nice it would have been to have way back when, for those busy days of wandering into the kitchen at five o'clock and pulling a package of frozen meat out, running it under water...

Christmas isn't all about the gifts, but I did get some good ones this year! Kathryn got me slippers but too small, so Eveln got new slippers! Abigail got me a nice mug that says, "I love Mom", and some coffee. Molly got me the mug and scarf, and some really good almonds. Paul got me a really pretty ring! And Aaron and Riley sent me this new MacBook!(which is super nice because we got Suzanne a new laptop, so I can pass my old Chromebook to Sonja, and now there won't be all the borrowing...they would need to do homework, and I would pass them my laptop, and not have it when I had a chance to sit down and use it...) And some nice sunglasses! (They really spoiled all the kids this year, too!).

So now Miss Technology is learning to use the MacBook. This is why there aren't loads of Christmas pics up, ha, still figuring that out!

The nice thing is that the kids KNOW they can't use this. I am a sharer, but they are all set now, so this is mine:)
(Camille got a new tablet, so she's all set now too!)

And Samuel and Grace are coming back soon, so it won't be quiet here for long! The kids are on Christmas break, but Paul is back to work, and the older girls are all back to work...

Lydia is here this morning...I gave her a present, a baby Annie doll...

Lydia is a good little mommy!!!

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

we wish you a merry christmas!!!!

We celebrated at Ben's house last night, we did Secret Santa and then the kids gave me some gifts...Molly gave me this scarf and mug. :)

Surprise, Suzanne! She knew I had her for Secret Santa because right after we picked names, I snapped a pic of her name, because I am old and forgetful. Within five minutes she picked up my phone to look at the pictures I had taken so far, saw her name on that paper slip pic, and ha, it was kind of funny. So she thought she knew what I was getting her too, but I tricked her and got her nice Bear Paw boots!

The kids are just waking up! I've washed dishes and swept floors, just like any other day. But the homemade cinnamon buns are rising on the counter, and the bacon is ready to fry...we are having orange juice, we don't drink it regularly anymore but this morning, we are having some. It's Christmas...

Last night...14 of the kids were there, and we skyped Sam in Virginia, and Aaron in Oregon.

Fourteen of the kids, and four of the five grandchildren were there. What more could I want? Well, maybe next Christmas, or sometime in the summer, all 16 of them will be together again...

Monday, December 24, 2018

tomorrow is Christmas, it's practically here!

This year I can finally say, "For 53 years I've put up with it now, I must stop this Christmas from coming, but how?" (Dr. Seuss, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas)

And yes, that cookie has inappropriate gumdrops. YOU try decorating cookies with a boatload of daughters!

Char, Cam, and Kathryn...

Yesterday I stayed home, and baked...gingerbread cookies, peanut butter Christmas trees with the cookie press, and the Rice Krispie treats. It was a nice day, a quiet day, Emily came for a visit in the evening.

Paul went out into the woods at Ben's house, and came home with a....squirrel. I am not kidding. And yes, he ate it. No, I didn't try it.

Anyway. I need to scoot my lazy rear end into the kitchen and prepare a batch of cinnamon buns for tomorrow morning! We decided homemade would be better than those ones in the can. I am not planning to eat any anyway, but maybe a bite or two, on Christmas morning.

Ah well, Merry Christmas to all of my friends who read this, thank you for all of your kind words and nice comments...

Sunday, December 23, 2018

feelings go up...and feelings go down...

It's Christmas, and peace and joy are the spirits of the season! But what happens when I'm not feeling it? I'm the mom. If I'm down and out, what happens around here to the rest of the gang? It IS a huge responsibility to have a family, and not just in the meet-all-the-needs way. Everyone knows that good conquers evil, and that kind words have a far greater effect than lashing out about something. When Mama is happy, everyone is happy, right?

So this morning I am finding myself truly thankful that I don't have to give in to the woe-is-me thoughts. There is so much work to do on a day to day basis, even with the kids getting older. We still have small children here most days, and teenagers know how to make food just fine, but their idea of cleaning up doesn't line up with mine. So there is work, and when I have the wrong mindset, it's almost drudgery. I was washing a sinkful of silverware this morning, grumping inside about how our dishwasher is perfectly fine, but our water is so mineral-y and iron-y that it leaves white coatings on the dishes if we use the dishwasher. (and yes, we have a softener system). So blah poor me, I'm washing so many dishes. Then a tiny thought came, that I have hot running water, and soap, so maybe be a little bit thankful?

It can snowball. The Poor Me thoughts can multiply. Sometimes I feel like my lot in life is a joke, that I'm just here as the support person for everyone else, so that their lives can run smoothly.

But here's the thing: I WANT to bless! I want to give, and to serve, that's my heart! All those other thoughts are just my selfish sinful nature, and I am not in debt to that. I get seriously happy when I fight those things that want to steal the joy and peace that should be reigning in my heart. God doesn't make mistakes, and we need to trust that He sends only the very best to us. There is such peace in believing that.

Also, watch out for social media envy. It's too easy to compare your measly little life to the opulence of others', why don't we have nice windows like that? Her husband is looking at her like she's a queen! She has all her gifts wrapped and her house purged and meals prepped? And the minimalists! I find so much grudging, I want to be a minimalist! I absolutely adore the clean counters and sleek open floors with nary a dirty sock to be seen! But shh, I also love all my stuff. Except for the dirty socks. I just do wonder though, how can a minimalist mom maintain that with actual human teenagers in the house? How does she train them to hang up their backpacks and throw away their Dunkin cups? Their library books? The guitar? The blankets they cuddled up in to watch a movie the night before?

Anyway...I go from tangent to tangent, but honestly, writing here straightens me out, gets my priorities in order. I did wake up and get sad super fast this morning, just thinking about our friend Dave. He and his wife have 8 children, four still under 18. He was diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus like 12 years ago, and has had different tumors and chemo off and on since then. His life was turned upside down, yet he remained thankful. He has been such a good friend, so easy to talk to, so encouraging, and now he's nearing the end of his days. He is home with hospice care. I know he's going to a better place. I know he needs a rest from his sufferings, but my heart aches because I'll miss him. And my heart aches for his wife and kids. It's Christmas, too. God doesn't make mistakes, but sometimes life is very sad.

Then I watched a video that popped up in my facebook feed, back when Anya was a little baby, and Aaron was holding her...I cried because Camille was in the background, a 6 year old, dancing in front of the Christmas tree...and Aaron, I miss him so much! Life goes on and kids grow up, and sometimes that just makes me sad.

Today, I have the crock pot filled with pork, pulled pork nachos tonight! The older kids will be coming over, and the celebrations will begin. We are having an appetizer contest on Christmas eve, I am on a team with Char and Cam...we will be making miniature stuffing muffins, with apples, onion and celery, and some variation of the Krispie Treats...we're thinking adding some peanut butter and dipping in chocolate...

Anyway...Merry Christmas!!!

Friday, December 21, 2018

joy to the world!

Okay, so they're not so pinterest-y, but I did make them yesterday...

This is the third time this season I've made the double batch of cut-out butter cookies, it makes about 85 cookies.

They take a bit of time to make, but less than in the days gone by, the baby/toddler/small children days, when I had to break to nurse the baby and get the toddler fed and into nap, and and and.

Everyone should have 16 children, and be so busy for so many years, on so little sleep, so busy that you can't string two thoughts together, then...when the littlest one starts growing up...ahh, you appreciate EVERYTHING. Every single cup of coffee with the feetsies up, every moment of quiet, every uninterrupted baking session, going to the bathroom without little fingers snaking under the door...or even not having to make the decision whether to sneak to the bathroom without saying anything and risking one of them noticing and listening to a chorus of WHERE'S MOMMY (or worse, they sneak real quick into the cereal cupboard), or telling them and having one or two cry to come with you.

Anyway. It's not actually post-traumatic stress syndrome, because it wasn't really traumatic. But it was challenging. And It was rich and filled with blessings and hugs and cuddles and fun.

So I decided not to go to the pool yesterday, because it was so blissful to just be home. The usual busy church schedule is rather relaxed this week, so everyone was home last night, and it was nice. I frosted the cookies, got a few last gifts wrapped, and a visit from Bethany and Joseph.

Here's a little something fun: We are going to Florida this year, in February! Grandma is wanting a visit! Paul is going with us this year, yay! The drive is UGH so long, the drive home, super UGH. But, it's so nice to visit the sunshine and warmth in February, and to spend time with Grandma...and go to a theme park, too:)

Well, I have things to do and places to go and a house to clean. Ever notice how clean the living room feels when you clean under the couches?

Thursday, December 20, 2018

some of my favorite things....

Do these look yummers or what? Peanut butter cups on top of peanut butter cups?

And these: Rice Krispie Treats that look like little presents!

I need to stay off of Pinterest, right? Good thing there's no calories in looking.

But here's the thing: we are having an appetizer contest on Christmas eve. I am pairing up with Char and Cam, and am thinking Krispie treats with peanut butter in them dipped in chocolate...then when I was poking around looking at yummy things, I found this dip you make to dip cookies into, it's cream cheese with brown sugar and peanut butter, all whipped up, with broken Reese's broken into it. Oh dear heavenly yum.

I AM going to have a nice Christmas, a few treats on Christmas Eve, we're celebrating at Ben's house. We're doing Secret Santa. Fourteen of the kids will be there, with spouses and grandkids there'll be...well, a lot, ha. 24, I think. Sam, Grace, and Grant are coming back on the 26th, (they left yesterday).

We're celebrating Christmas morning here, with all of the older kids who want to come, but I think Molly and Josh and Lyd will open presents at their place then come over, same with Ben and Ashley and their two little girls. I think Margaret and Adrian may just spend the night here Christmas Eve, it's so nice when they wake up here in the morning. Jon and I have plans to make homemade cinnamon buns, and I'll have to remember orange juice. I rarely buy it, just as a treat, as it's so sugary and superfluous.

Anyway. We are having ham and beef brisket for Christmas dinner at Ben and Ashley's, in addition to the feasting on Christmas eve there.

As far as gifts go, I think I'm done. I am not satisfied when I look at my list. I want to give them things that will make each and every one of them happy and thrilled and surprised. They grow up, but they're all my sweet dears, whom I would give my very life for. My heart can break at the mere thought of them being hurt or sad, and all I really want is for them to have good lives. When Margaret and Adrian got married, Margaret said to him, something along the lines of, "If you are ever hurt or sad, it won't be because of me, I vow right now to only bless you and be good to you every single day forever..."

Anyway anyway. Today, I went to the post office for boxes to ship some things in, what's the hurry, right? The day before yesterday, we stopped and Sam ran in and came out with only huge boxes, which I didn't realize until we got home. Then yesterday I asked Kathryn to stop and get some on her way to the gym, but she stopped on the way home when it was closed. Rural post offices close for lunch out here. So today I got the boxes, then drove back to town to mail them, then went to the small city with Jonathan for a few things.

Home...time to wrap presents with Lydia! She wanted everything to be for her mom. And she wanted to tape everything for me. She likes to help.

And, I made another batch of cut out cookie dough this morning, the third batch this season. So...out to the kitchen I go, to cut them out and bake them...then frost them!

(it's hard to bake and not eat it, but I'm doing okay. I think it's a ripoff I don't lose more weight than I am losing, but that's my lot in life, I guess. Jon told me I need to start working out, which I did but stopped again, I told him it's like this: 80% diet, 20% exercise...he said, "Well, maybe you need that 20%." ouchers, Jon. But, I'm going to the pool this afternoon...

Off I go...

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

how many days?

I can't. I really can't. It cannot be so close. So I'm just going through the days, pretending like I have lots of time. I can't even say what I've been up to, as it will ruin surprises.

Today, Samuel and I took a quick trip to the small city. He and I both know how to dawdle, and I can't remember the last time I've been to Walmart with one of my kids without being sighed at for simply looking at things! But no eye-rolling from Sam! He just looked at stuff right along with me, as we agreed we should really hurry up.

We didn't hurry up though, and it was fun.

Home....ah home. Sam and Grace and baby Grant have been here since Saturday. They were supposed to leave last night, but their car broke down. It's fixed now, so tomorrow I'll drive them to the place where it was fixed, and they'll leave from there.

Last evening, Benjamin and Ashley and their two little girls came for dinner. Their little Anya is BESTIES with little Lydia, so of course Lydia was NOT ready to go home when her mama came to pick her up. We had pulled pork nachos.

Tonight we had some really nice chuck roast which had been in the crockpot all day. I cut up some sweet potatoes and red skinned potatoes and roasted them in olive oil, mmm.

Dessert: the kids opened a box of chocolates from our friend from church, and I smelled it, but didn't have any. I'm really trying to not eat sugar, and it's helping! I've lost about seven pounds in the last few months. I know, it's not a lot, but it's better than GAINING seven pounds. Right? I'm still exactly 20 pounds over the lowest I went, back a few years seven years ago, I guess. It's coming back off slowly! I do intermittent fasting, and low carb, very little sugar, avoid eating in the evening, which is so hard around here! I can't drink diet soda anymore, I had some bad reactions from it. (shaky, jittery, feeling like my very brain was buzzing!) I stayed away from it because I thought it was the culprit, tried it again, and sure enough! I cannot tolerate it. I think going lower carb makes me more sensitive to it.

Anyway...seltzer water, or tea in the evening, or even a piece of gum makes me happy enough.

My shopping isn't done. My wrapping isn't done.

But I still have time, ha.

Today when I went out and about with Samuel, I forgot my phone and my glasses. I was as good as blind, as far as reading my Christmas list. Sam offered to read it for me, but first of all, his name IS on there, as well as what I've gotten for him, AND, I write things in codes that even I have trouble deciphering!

One of the girls still has a giant white blank next to her name.

So I am not quite done yet.

We had an amazing Christmas celebration at church. I bought the food on Friday with Camille.

40 pounds of potatoes, carrots, sqash (all roasted up, yummers!)..brown sugar cured spiral sliced ham, apple sauce with apples cut up in it, green beans with almonds... rolls with butter, baked potatoes and sour cream and butter...punch, coffee, hot cocoa with mini marshmallows and M&M's. And all those cookies from the cookie bake for dessert!

Kathryn at the candy and dessert table. I had only one cookie for the day, one of the mocha/peppermint twists I made.

Camille and me...:)

Benjamin with his baby, Elise...

Suzanne and Miss Char...

We watched baby Grant on Saturday night so his parents could go to the military ball...

And today is this beautiful little boy's first birthday!!! Happy 1st, Grant!!!

So it's been on Friday, having people over for dinner, babysitting on Saturday, Christmas celebration on Sunday...Emily, Evelyn, Kathryn, Char, and Cam, and some of the other girls helped with the meal...but oh how sweet it is when it all comes out nicely! appointments for Sonja and I...I have a cavity, dang it. Back to the dentist for a filling in March, which will be here before we know it.

Anyway, life is busy, but I'll keep on working on being thankful.

Maybe tomorrow I'll get my shopping done, and my gifts wrapped, and things out to the post office.

Maybe I'll get the house cleaned too.

You never know!

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

molly rose gets married....

The cupcake table...

Ben and Ashley's house...all the furniture moved into the other room, and the carpet rolled up...Evelyn did most of the decorating, with Margaret.

My Molly Rose, my seventh child, my little rebel. She has chosen her own course in life, she has had her challenges. She is a registered nurse, she graduated from high school a year early and went to college, started working in the hospital right after college. She had Lydia three years ago, and still managed to work full time since Lyd was five weeks old. She is a good mommy, too. She met Joshua, and they both knew from the first minute they were meant to be. They pledged forever to each other, and it makes my heart happy. She deserves to be treated so well, he's a true gentleman.

Lydia walked down the aisle first...

Paul walked Molly down the aisle...

The Mr. and Mrs.!

Me with two of my granddaughters...Miss Anya and little Lydia.

Four of my daughters (well, five, Abigail is in the background...)with my other granddaughter, Elise. (Cam, Char with Elise in the front, Sonja K. and Emily in the back)

Paul and I with our eleven daughters!

With our sons Jonathan, Benjamin, and new son-in-law Josh...and Jon holding baby Wulf. (Joseph had already left, and Samuel and Aaron didn't make it to the wedding...:( )

Phew. It's over. It was so nice. This day, wow, what a day. We got up early and headed out the door on a quest to find Charlotte Claire a new dress. She's a growing girl, from a child to a beautiful young lady just overnight! She tried on some of her dresses and I almost cried...she's just gotten so big. So, off we went to the small city, to Marshall's, where she found just the right dress for fifteen dollars. Jonathan also went, and found a secret Santa gift for the boys' party this Friday, and some nice Adidas sneakers for $24, for Christmas. I feel bad making him wait, but who just gets new sneakers two weeks before Christmas?

We got home, got those meatballs in the oven, the girls took showers, I washed my tangly hair, and we packed up our cupcakes and headed over to Ben's house. We stopped at the pizza place in town, the best pizza in the world I'll venture to say, and picked up three large. We got to Ben and Ashley's by one, and just got home a bit ago.

The meatballs were really good, in the crockpot with barbecue sauce. Ashley made Buffalo chicken breast chunks, and Emily brought cheese, crackers, more cheese, grapes, oranges...Josh's mom brought these twice baked salt potatoes with bacon and cheese and some other dips and stuff. We had punch, and of course the cupcakes.

I did try some of the cupcakes, why not? I figure your daughter gets married only once, ha. (Only two of my eleven daughters are married!)

Anyway. It was quite a day! Ashley is the sweetest girl. She made so many pots of coffee, and was so gracious about the complete taking over of her home for this event. She has a busy little one year old (Elise), and Anya the kindergartner, so she is a busy mom. And Benjamin came right home from work and started setting up chairs.

The kids have all gone to bed for the night, I am up all alone. I need to get some sleep too. Lydia is coming bright and early tomorrow morning:) And in the evening, we are going to the pool with Abigail, it's her real birthday tomorrow. And I keep saying I need to go to the pool. So we have a date.

I have so many more things to do, but I need to recover from this event first. Sunday is our church Christmas feast, 80+ people, and I am buying the food for that. Friday night we are doing a cookie bake where everyone brings dough and bakes together.

And...I have totally backed off from my Christmas preparations here! I have so much wrapping to do! And I've lost track of some things I think I've bought, so I need to brainstorm and write things down! The days are flying by!

And, Samuel and Grace and baby Grant are coming up this coming weekend to stay here!

Ah well.

Can I just revisit the cupcake subject? They were SO good! The vanilla recipe, oh dear, yummers. The frosting was delectable. The chocolate ones were really good too. I sent a dozen for Molly to take to work, a dozen for Josh to take to work, and brought home about a dozen. They are calling me, but I am not lis-ten-ing! I will not eat anymore! I only had about one and a half altogether. The vanilla was actually better. But no more. No more.

Anyway. Goodnight!!!

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

wedding cupcakes!!!!

I found some good recipes, I hope! I did cut up one chocolate one for Lydia and tasted a bit, mmm. The vanilla, I haven't tried, but hey, there's sugar in it, and sour cream, and can it not be good?

Buttercream frosting...

There are sixty something, all packed up nicely for tomorrow. I can't wait to put them on the cupcake stand and on the platters, it's fun. We have lots of decorating to do! We're using pine branches, greenery, sticks and twigs, and white Christmas lights.

I made lists, and checked them twice, tomorrow, a wedding! Mali and Josh are getting married. I hope it turns out just beautiful...

blogging with a snuggler....

This fine morning, I am attempting to write while snuggling with Miss Lydia. She is tired, had to get out of her warm bed too early, so her mama can go take care of sick people. We are watching Curious George. My first cup of coffee is gone, and I'm ready to start my day, but she isn't ready for me to get up yet.

So procrastinator that I am, I haven't started on those wedding cupcakes yet. I did look through my recipe box yesterday, lo and behold my papers with my favorite chocolate and vanilla cupcakes aren't in there. So I had to take to the internet to find some similar, and will have to cross my fingers they are good. That's the problem with being so organized ha.

I also found out we didn't have enough milk or eggs for the recipes, and also needed some buttermilk. So last evening, Evelyn and I went to the store...she also had to get some decorations for the wedding. She got two small Christmas trees to make a nice place for the ceremony...she has lots of ideas, it will be lovely.

There will only be like 40 people for the wedding, so the cupcakes shouldn't be too hard, says the procrastinator.

In other news, I did make a triple batch of chocolate chip cookies yesterday, with holiday (red and green) M&Ms on top. And I did not eat one single one. I sent a few home with Darius, he had to go home to Oregon in the wee hours this morning. I sent a few home with Emily, and with Anne, and Suze took lots to school.

Anyway...I'll try to take lots of pictures...time to get up and moving and start those cuppycakes!

Monday, December 10, 2018

monday morning blues NOT!

Sometimes you just look at things totally wrong. For example, on Mondays, I have two small children for the day. This means pretty much zero gets done here, and with one in diapers and one potty-training, with faces and hands to wash after those little snacks, and keeping them from bopping each other while fighting over one particular color Duplo block, and cleaning up playdough...well, I can make the mistake of waking up on Monday morning and being like...ugh.

But. But. IN a totally different prospective, yay! I get to stay today! I am going to get some hugs and snuggles, and hear funny little things said! I get to dry tears and give comfort and bless and nourish these little ones.

Two days 'til the wedding...I am planning to make the cupcakes this evening, and bring them over to Ben and Ashley's tomorrow to frost/'s so much easier to decorate them onsite, than to transfer them. I'll take lots of pictures, I am excited, because making cupcakes for something special is my thing, but...of course there's that fear that they'll flop!

I still don't know what I'm wearing, or what the little girls are wearing...the other girls all have their own ideas, and they'll be fine. Jon has lots of dress clothes too.

Yesterday we had an excellent birthday celebration for Abigail.

We had pulled pork nachos...Mirielle made homemade salsa, and oh dear were they good! I am not a cheese or sour cream person, so mine looked rather plain, but yum.

The dessert was a nod to Abigail's love for bananas and all things banana, a banana cake with cream cheese looked delectable, but I cannot eat bananas, I am allergic to them. It looked so moist and dense and yum, but I had to say no, which I was rather glad about.

We had baby Wulf here to spend the night on Saturday so his mama and papa could have a bit of time away for their two year annivesary...

I don't remember if I put up a pic of Olaf yet...Lydia helped me make him.

On Saturday morning, I went out and about with Evelyn, Suzanne, Sonja, Charlotte Claire, and Camille. I tried on this fleece because it was marked down, and it looked fit, and I liked it, but then I hung it back up and said I don't need it. My daughters insisted I get it, Sonja said she would wrap it up and give it to me for Christmas. :)

Ah well...Anne will be here in five minutes...Lyd is all snuggled up with me, but time to get up...and maybe have that second cup of coffee...