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

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

trying to fit it all in....

Winter came back yesterday!

The snow was light and fluffy, so it wasn't a problem to shovel the driveway, and I reasoned it was a fair trade for not going on my walk. Today's excuse for no walk is the temperature: 10 degrees.(-12c) Nope. Just nope.

This fine morning though, the sun is shining, until the afternoon when more snow comes. I need to get to the grocery store, as we are almost out of eggs and half and half and and and. If I go during the day, I have to get back in a hurry because Sonja has physical therapy for her knee at 2:30. I am picking up the three high school girls and taking them with me to the physical therapy, and if I go to grocery store after, I have to go in the snow. And I don't like driving in snow.

Poor me, ha, First World Probs.

Yesterday I made almond bread and banana almond bread, yum. I like to slice it up and freeze it, so I have something good to eat when I want bread. I also made a batch of snickerdoodle cookies after dinner last night. Snickerdoodles are cookies rolled in cinnamon and sugar. They are tantalizingly yummy, and I was careful: I sliced off one little taste, agreed they were good, then avoided them like the plague, even as I baked them all. The recipe I used called for butter instead of shortening, and oh dear they are good. The girls brought lots of them to school to share with their friends, and a lot of them got eaten after dinner last night, so phew, they are almost gone.

I have to get a mammogram before the end of the month, as I am going to visit the breast cancer specialists, blah. I don't want to for a few reasons:

1. Our insurance stinks out loud. I don't like to say "it sucks", but it does. We have a $7,500 deductible, which means that is what we pay out of pocket, before being able to pay only %20 of everything, which is also very costly. This place is pricey, and they want me in every six months with my huge risk factors, which include my maternal grandmother dying at a young age of breast cancer, her sister dying of breast cancer, my mother having breast cancer in both breasts, and my sister having breast cancer. I settled on once a year, which still costs us a small fortune.

2. I don't want to live my life as a "patient" when I am not even sick.

3. The anxiety and worry about results takes years off my life, ha.

4. I don't like going to the doctor, don't like being pawed at, don't like the questions...and when that nice breast cancer doctor found out how many kids I have, she was shocked, I grew antlers and turned into a Crazy Lady. Seriously. You can see the change in the way you are viewed, it goes from just a normal fat suburban housewife, to a weirdo who is obviously not too smart.

5. Ain't nobody got time for that. I watch little Anne three days a week, so I have Mondays and Fridays to do things like field trips and going to the pool and appointments. She is a good little girl, very happy, most of the time, so it's not a huge deal to bring her to things, but not to a mammogram, so that has to be on a Monday or a Friday.

But, at the end of the day, I know I am lucky and blessed to live in a country where we at least have good healthcare, albeit expensive healthcare. My mother's breast cancer had spread to her lymph nodes, and she had some major surgery, but she lived like 25 years after her original diagnosis, and that was way back when.

Each day is indeed a gift.

And I am squandering this gift, by sitting here blabbing, ha.

I have washed dishes and swept floors and am trying to teach Sunny that she has no business barking at the neighbors when they're out in their own yard, which consists of me telling her to be quiet, which she totally ignores, to me getting up and telling her, which she also ignores, to me making her Get Down from the couch, and telling her to Lie Down on the floor, which she does, clunking her head down her paws with a huge sigh, then making her way slowly back to the couch into her Looking Out The Window spot by the time I am sitting back in my chair. It's like having a two year old.

Ah well. Off I go, to learn to be thankful, to learn to be patient, to rejoice and be glad in this day the Lord has given us....

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

snowglobe day....

It's just too pretty out today...the snow is swirling around, and the brightness in here from the blanket of whiteness makes it seem festive. We decided to stay put, stay in with the little fireplace heater blasting, cuddling under blankets doing schoolwork. We were thinking of going to the library, but Anne has a bit of a cold. She is taking a nap right now, then we are going to go outside for a little bit. We can bundle her up, wrap her in a blanket and carry her around, just to get some cold fresh air. Then, inside for tea and cocoa. Poor us, huh? :)

Last night, I got to go out to dinner with my friends. We went to Smokey Bones, and no, I am not getting paid for this review, ha. It was too pricey for my liking, but they did have a really good policy of letting each person have their separate check, and could pay at the portable kiosk on the table. I opted for the burger, so adventurous of me, but a grilled tasted like summertime, with tomatoes and red onions and peppered bacon on really was good. Being out with my friends though, priceless. Yes, it was fun. It's so nice to catch up and also to know you're not alone in your afflictions, not the only one with a husband who doesn't always want to talk about the little details in life ha.

I did not go on my walk this morning. I Just DO It, thank you NIKE, but ah...blah.

Yesterday after my walk, after I blogged, my headache increased in intensity until it was almost unbearable. I took a few ibuprofen and headed in to lie down, after assigning the kids some schoolwork. Well, I dozed off and on, and finally the headache faded to the background, leaving me feeling shaky and worn out. The girls had a suprise for me, they had taken their bunk beds apart, with the help of Jonathan, and now have single beds for the first time since they left their cribs. Their room is more crowded, but they are pretty pleased with themselves.

I feel like I lost most of a day, I never nap, but I was thankful it was a day I was actually able to go lie down, I didn't have Anne or Lydia here, and no appointments to go to.

Ah well...there's nothing much going on, just helping the kids with math, and doing laundry, and Anne is waking up...:)

Monday, January 29, 2018

on giving up....

I am in terrible shape. It's the truth. I let the daily walks slip, which is partly understandable, because hey, it's cold out. It's slippery when it's cold, and there's no place to walk with snowbanks on the edge of the road, and we all remember a few years back when I almost got run over by the snowplow. Good thing I was in better shape then, because I was able to hop nimbly into the snowbank, narrowly missing that plow as it barreled down the road. Anyway. I do have excuses, oh a whole barrel of them.

But the bottom line, is this: I am tried of being so out of shape. So on Friday morning, I went for my walk. I huffed up the hill. And I felt great, mentally. I was like, "Oh yeah! Getting back into it! Yes!" Then on Saturday, I walked again. And on Sunday. Then this fine morning, it was 27 degrees out and I had a headache. So I started teetering towards my comfy chair and a cup of coffee. I stood there at the sink washing last night's pasta pan, deliberating with my self. The coffee/chair was the clear winner, then I just said NO to my lazy self. I dried off my hands, took my vitamins with my spoon of coconut oil, got a nice drink of water, and put my sneakers on. I didn't go particularly far, but I walked down the road and up that evil hill. And it made me happy.

As I walked, I reasoned with myself. I may have won the victory this morning, myself told myself, but tomorrow, it might be colder out...ha.

I have had so many stops and starts with this whole Lifestyle Change thing, but the important thing is to never give up. It ain't over 'til it's over. And you have to start somewhere. I know if I keep walking up that hill every day, it'll get easier. My knees don't love it, and it's not pleasant to have achy knees. But. I am not giving up.

Sugar...oh sugar, how I love thee, but when I cut you out, I feel better! It's not fun to turn down the ice cream, but at the end of the day, when I think back on what I ate, it's an amazing feeling to have stood firm and to have eaten cleanly.

Remember, it was only last week when I made a double batch of chocolate half moon cookies, and a batch of vanilla ones. I resisted and resisted, then when I was finishing up frosting the last few cookies, I frosted a chocolate one with vanilla frosting, the homemade buttercream stuff, and it was a saggy cookie, so I deemed it unfit to serve at Margaret and Adrian's baby I took a bite. Big mistake, because guess what? It was more than delicious. It was supremely yum. I ate the whole thing. Mmmm mmm. After that, I had no more, no more at all, even at the baby shower on Friday night. I was done. But I know very well how fragile I am, and how easy it is to slip into eating things like that. So I take one day at a time, and when I get through a whole day being good, I'm a happy camper.

Anyway. here's a good thing:

This is baby Grant! My sweet little grandson, Samuel's baby. Isn't he adorable? I miss him terribly, he lives in Virginia. :(

Have I ever mentioned how tricky it is to parent teenagers? I have five teenagers at the moment. One of them snapped at me yesterday, one of them who is usually really respectful. I, being the strong mature lady I am, started to get teary-eyed, because it hurt my feelings terribly. So I said nothing, thankfully, because reacting when you're hurting is not always wise. I decided later, after thinking about it a bit, that the teenager wasn't being mean, just reacting also, to something, BUT, as the mom, I needed to point out that it wasn't acceptable, and it won't be tolerated. So later, when it was peaceful, I brought it up, and got a sincere apology.

Four of these teenagers are girls. They're great friends, when they're not snipping and sniping at each other. One LOVES to contradict, she thinks it's her God-given duty to point out the other side of every issue. So her sisters of course have to contra-contradict, and oh the fun. They borrow/steal each other's clothes and shoes and sneaker and boots, and heaven forbid one of them leaves their sister's things in the wrong place or stains it, or loses it...

It's not new. It's the same old story that has been played out here for the last 20 years, just a different cast of characters as the older ones grow up and move out. The two oldest girls, I might add though, didn't fight with each other. They just didn't. They still add ballast to the boat, and goodness and reasonable-ness to the family. Emily is not a fighter, she chooses peace, and goodness. Abigail is a giver, she is a total blessing.

Anyway. Please don't think my teens are awful. They are so full of life and fun and they are good kids. But behind every good kid, is How A Kid Is At Home, and that's not always smooth sailing, ha.

Today, I have to go pick Evelyn up from school so she can go to the town offices and get her residency confirmed for her college classes. Sonja has her first day of physical therapy for her knee, but she can walk from the school, and then to Emily's house, then I'll pick her up. The kids are ready to do lots of school today, and maybe we'll go to the pool....

Have I mentioned how great it is to have the hot tub running? It's grand. I love it.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

living life backwards....

If today was the last day of your life, and you knew it, you would no doubt look back on your life and have a few regrets...maybe that you would have actually listened more to your daughter's concerns about her back-handspring rather than shushing her so you could hear the question to the JEOPARDY answer. Maybe you would have called your sister more, or overlooked the splatters of coffee on the counter near the pot, or the towels the kids like to drop on the floor. Maybe you would rue that you worried too much about things you couldn't change, and neglected to change the things you should have.

If you lived your life backwards, it would be easy to figure out what was important. This is precisely why most old people have some wisdom, they have learned a thing or two along the way, or at least we hope they did.

I tend to think this way a lot though, as I am tempted to grumble about having to do something I don't like. I picture myself in a wheelchair, some day in the future, felled by some perfectly possible ailment or tragedy, watching wistfully as someone else sweeps my floors, a task I hated every single day, and now wish with all my heart I could do.

I remember when my older kids were small, my mother-in-law said to me, "These are the best days of your life." Well, they didn't feel that way. I was tired and busy and had no idea what I was doing. Now of course, I would go back and do it all over again in a heartbeat. Not that my life is bad now, it's just that when I was so young, it was simpler, and in retrospect, so innocent and precious.

Anyway. Today, here I am in the wintery glow of my living room, snow swirling around, the ground covered in white, brightening things up. It seems Christmas-y, and it seems cozy. My three youngest children are still nestled snug in their beds, we stay up too late and I let them sleep in sometimes. Today we will stay here and do some school, maybe move the furniture and get out the gym mats, maybe do some baking. Then in the afternoon, I am heading to the Dome to work at the basketball game, with Joseph and Evelyn. Ben and Abigail and Mirielle will be there too.:)

Yesterday I was at the dentist when Jonathan called, he had stayed home with Joseph. Anyway, the school nurse had called here asking if Suzanne was absent from school, so Jon confirmed that she was, then after hanging up, went to her room and she wasn't there. He called me and asked where she was. I saw her get on the bus in the morning, so I thought there must just be a mistake, but at the same time, I got worried. So I tried to call the school...busy signal. I called and called and called, and finally got through. The lady in the office said she would call me back right away if Suzanne wasn't there, but confirmed it was just a mix up because Suze had an exam and was probably not in home-room for very long. ugh. She was there, she was fine, but ugh.

Then I heard about the school shooting in Kentucky. Oh dear me, why? Then the cyberbullying of a Florida girl, resulting in her hanging herself with a dog leash in the closet. Tragic, that this girl thinks this what people think of her is SO real, so important, and that social media has such a huge part of her life, and also the two 12 year olds who bullied her were arrested. 12 year olds arrested. Unbelievable. These kids with their phones, confusing reality with's scary.

Oh well. Here are some things I have been working on:

"A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." (prov. 15)

"He will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to the fathers."(Malachi)

See how this works? When I am dealing with my kids, I have to, first and foremost, be awake to what spirit I am in. If I am angry and impatient, then whoa! I need to deal with that first!

Children AND adults respond to goodness and to love. The problem is that I personally don't have enough of that. "I find the principle then that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good...(Romans 7)

This puts me in need, for sure. I pray for self-acknowledgement, and for victory over my own sin! Then things go well.

God is no respecter of persons. Any person, at any time, can decide they want to live a good life.

And off I go....happily, thankful I can still "go", ha!

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

on the go....

This fine morning, I am heading out the door to the dentist, the two little girls need cleanings. I hope they don't have any cavities. I think we are bringing little Anne with us too, then Miss Lydia is coming over in the afternoon. Little girls! They keep me hopping, but children bring life into our lives, don't they?

We are such spoiled people, we Americans. Or maybe it's just my family. Not too long ago, frozen waffles were all the rage here, they clamored for them, I bought them by the 60 count box, and they relished them. A few of the girls would eat them on the way out the door to the bus in the morning, and if we ran out, my goodness, we had better get more! Then...they got tired of waffles. I would buy them, and they would sit in the freezer. Yesterday, I bought bagels, small cute ones, and they are happy, because we haven't had them in a while. Jonathan just requested I buy oatmeal, he says it sounds really good. Same thing, they haven't had an oatmeal streak in a while.

Yesterday I was talking to my sister on the phone, and she had to go to the grocery store in the small city for a prescription. (She has major issues with kidney stones, and has a bum kidney, so has to have surgery on Friday to get stones removed, again.)Anyway, I asked if I may join her, so in the afternoon as the older girls were getting home, I went off with just my sister. I bought eggs and cheese and milk and chicken and kitty food and litter. We just went to the one store, then home, so it was nice.

Home...I made a pot of chicken soup...I cut up the chicken breast, rolled it quick in flour with rosemary, salt, and pepper, browned it in olive oil, and added it to a few quarts of chicken stock...then added some sliced carrots, and cubed potatoes, and simmered it for an hour, and voila, dinner! Evelyn made some garlic bread to go with it, and the kids loved it. It WAS really good, and there's lots left for lunch.

I also put a pork roast in the crock pot with some lemon and lime juice and Jamaican jerk spices. It's nice knowing what's for dinner.

The countdown is beginning for our Florida trip. It's going to be really special this year, because Evelyn, Suzanne, Sonja are going...(unfortunately Kathryn has to work, and can't make)...and Jonathan, Charlotte Claire, and Camille...we can only fit seven in the van anyway. But the fact that the three high school girls are going with the three homeschooled kids, it's going to be really fun. I hope and pray that the weather will be good as we leave New York and drive through the state of Pennsylvania. Have you ever driven through Pennsylvania? There's one sign that makes me laugh every time, it says: Endless Mountain Region. ha. That's about it. Trees and hills. Add in some snow, and no thank you. It's beautiful, it really is, but it gets old fast.

So I hope the weather is good. Evelyn is an excellent driver, and isn't afraid of traffic. She and I will be the only drivers, and it's 16 hours to Amelia Island in good traffic, without stops. I think it's necessary to always have a passenger who is awake and can talk to the driver, so I will have a turn in the back seat when she is driving, so I can take a nap, which is a huge joke. I mean, if Jon is up there being co-pilot navigator, I'll be back there NOT SLEEPING, getting more tired. I don't know why, I just can't sleep in the car. Unless I'm the one driving through Georgia in the dark, then I'm tired.

We will spend the day, then the night, at Amelia Island, which is right on the Atlantic, then head to Grandma's house, four to five hours away. I'm like, ahh, warmth, I can hang out at the pool in her little park every day for a few hours, there's a hot tub too...and just hang out with her in the mornings and evenings, sounds lovely. The girls are a bit more restless and adventurous, and want to hit a beach while we're there, they've googled the heck out of "beaches near Zephyrhills". We are also planning to go to a theme park for a day, I am partial to Magic Kingdom, we went once and it was a blast. But they want to go to Universal Studios. I think it might be more crowded there, but whatever.

The best part of the trip is just chilling with Grandma. It really is. Being on vacation...ahhh. Paul has a busy travel schedule, and will be in Boston for the two weeks preceding our trip, so that'll be hard. I wish he could just fly to Florida for a few days to be with us, but his work schedule is super busy.

Anyway...time to go to the dentist.

Monday, January 22, 2018

monday again? oops.

We had a really fun homeschooling adventure on Friday, we went to Wonderworks in the big mall, with my sister-in-law and her two youngest. (Sean had just stepped out of this pic!)

Why don't I write every morning anymore? Winter? Sameness? I don't know. But here's a random quick list of what's been going on.

Emily turned 33.

Emily playing bubbles with Camille, the oldest and the youngest...33 and ten:)

A huge selfie in on a huge phone!

Paul is back from India, I picked him up from the airport yesterday. He got to visit the Taj Mahal. (Isn't he cute?)

This fine morning, I was puttering around, half helping the high school girls out the door to school...mostly making sure they ate something for breakfast, even if it was just a banana, and that they have a lunch, and that they're clothes are okay, no tummies peeking out or whatever. It's insane what's considered "okay" these days, and it's interesting to be the mom and figure out when to put the old foot down. They're really good girls though. But anyway, this fine morning, Evelyn had an eye issue, she has a small bump inside of the lid which is irritating her eye. Suzanne thinks she has an ear infection, one ear has been plugged and is really hurting today. And Sonja, the knee surgery queen, is requesting a doctor's appointment again, her knee just hurts. Day after day. Again.

The three homeschool kids are getting up and getting going, after a busy weekend.

Yesterday our church rented out a huge sports/gymnastics gym, filled with mats and bars and trampolines, and an indoor soccer field. Two hours of jumping and running and playing, and they were exhausted last evening. Then the older kids went to a feast/meeting, and we got to have little Anya here. She drove around in the Little Tikes car, played waffleblocks with Charlotte Claire, and I read her some stories, after we watched the movie, "Eloise".
She did not want to go home when her daddy texted and said they were almost at my house to pick her up, and to please get her ready. She was STILL PLAYING. Well, I told her, how about if you surprise your mama and daddy and get ready really really nicely and are all ready when they get here? Wouldn't that be so nice? It worked, she thought it would be nice!

So I took her picture, and told her I would show it to her mommy and daddy, that she is such a good girl. She really is. I love her, and it's so nice to have her here on the east coast.

Anyway...not much going on here, yet, it's so busy. I have to get going and teach these three youngest kids a thing or two, ha.

Monday, January 15, 2018

still here....

It has been such a good weekend, I haven't had time to blog!

From Friday with 60 degrees and pouring rain, to Friday night with temperatures plummeting to zero and a foot of new snow by Saturday morning...I didn't leave the house Saturday except to pick up pizza and chicken wings in the evening, in the Town of Frozen, it was just a few degrees out and the snow was just packed on the roads. Sunday was cold cold cold, so we stayed home. Today: out and about, ah it was nice to get out, and it seemed so warm, at 21 degrees and sunny.

Friday we were out and about too, in the warm rain. Jonathan, Charlotte Claire, Camille and I went to the library, then Target, Walmart for a haircut for Jonathan, and here's a sad story about that: New York state has passed a new minimum wage law, so the Sam's Clubs stores around here are all closing, and this Walmart has announced it's closing the hair salon part. It's so handy to go there, and it's only $12.95 for a haircut for Jon, and those girls (and Brian!) do such a good job. Anyway, it's closing at the end of the month.

Anyway, we went out again today, first to the thrift store...I found a really pretty white bowl, a nice glass pitcher. Then to Bed, Bath, and Beyond where we got two little sleds for the kids, they are heading out the door to go sledding in the back right now. We also got a stand for an UppaBaby bassinet that we got there previously for $17.99, the stand was $26. I am thinking of putting it on Ebay.

We went to Marshall's, where I got some grandbaby clothes, and a few things for the girls, from the clearance rack of course.

Then to the craft store because Suzanne needed more yarn.

Then to BJ's for some chicken, peppers, kale, and snacks for lunches.

A few of us got coffees from the Simple Roast, a local place which roasts their own beans, yummers, then the kids got a few things from the afternoon menu at Arby's.

Now I am heading in to the kitchen to make chicken fajitas, Abigail is coming over for dinner.

Paul is in India, which means I stay up way too late. Margaret and Adrian and Mirielle came over yesterday, so we solved the world's problems until late late late. I made a triple batch of chocolate chip oatmeal cookies with milk chocolate chips, regular chocolate chips, and butterscotch chips, and dang it, I ate cookies yesterday. gets in my system, and all bets are off. So today, I am behaving. :)

There is fresh roasted olive oil kale, courtesy of Suzanne, which smells so yummy. mmm.

Tomorrow, I am watching Lydia as well as Anne.

Anyway...bye for now!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

staying on the straight and narrow...

I've had a couple of days of mostly healthy eating, and it feels nice. The less sugar I eat, the less I crave. Last evening I did eat one super yummy thing: a Lindt truffle, coconut cream with milk chocolate. I could easily eat the entire bag, I am not one of those people who feel sick eating too much chocolate, or perhaps I just don't care if I feel sick, I just like chocolate.

Anyway. It's nice to just eat one, and be happy, which I am saying, but have never experienced, ha, but I ate only one anyway and mentally slapped my hand.

I stayed home yesterday, and it was nice. I decided to paint the trim on the kitchen window behind the sink, but after sanding it and wiping it down, I decided not to. Because, Anne woke up from her nap, :) Staying home all day was nice though. My granddaughters Anya and baby Elise came to visit with mama Ashley, then Ben came too, after work. I made meatballs and sauce, some pasta, and heated up some canned green beans, because that's what I eat my sauce and meatballs with.

This fine morning, Lydia came over in her jammies. She wasn't a happy camper at first, but then she got over it, and settled in, and got excited about our outing. We went to a place in the mall where the kids can run and play, down slides and through tunnels, ride little bikes and throw foam balls. Anne liked it there too.

Sean and Danielle, on the left side and on the right side, then Jon, Cam, Char with Lydia, and Anne in the stroller. Kim, the mama of Sean and Dani, my sister-in-law, had the tickets to this fun place, and shared with us, so nicely. It was a good day, and the older kids were so kind to the little ones, and took turns playing with them for hours, while Kim and I kept an eye on things and caught up.:)

I like proofreading posts and seeing lots of the little smiley face things:).

Anyway. Bad weather is coming again! Tomorrow, rain turning to snow...from 58 degrees in the morning to 12 in the evening, then more snow. Paul is leaving Saturday for India, I am watching a few of my sister's grandchildren, my niece Susan's two boys, and bringing Paul to the airport. The older kids are going here there and everywhere, a few to Ohio....Emily will be back from visiting Aaron and Riley in California, but will be working.

Anyway. This is a disjointed post, started early this morning, stopped abruptly when Lydia arrived here, and started again before Jeopardy! started, then again a few minutes ago. We had a slapdash dinner tonight of all the chicken from the freezer, a five pound bag of Buffalo wings, the rest of a bag of barbecue chunks, some breaded chicken fillets, and a chicken patty. I also made a salad of fresh spinach, red and yellow peppers, craisins, croutons, and green olives on the side.

Maybe tomorrow I'll stay home and make a nice dinner...

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

31 degrees and sunny?!!

We'll take it! Just a tad under 0 c, it's all good, feels like spring.

Camille, me, Charlotte Claire, all comfy in my chair, doing our research on one of the very best things one can research, besides maybe getting a new puppy or baby names, anyway, we were looking up: theme parks in Florida. Yes, we are hoping to go to either Universal, or Magic Kingdom again, or maybe Busch Gardens again. Universal is winning, we're just not sure about the long lines, as we're going on a regularly scheduled winter break instead of going a week early, ha. Honestly though, the girls are THRILLED and are talking non-stop about this upcoming trip. They aren't thinking of the looong tiring drive, the traffic, the possibility of bad roads and stormy weather through the Pennsylvania mountains. No, they are thinking ROADTRIP! Sunshine! Camille said yesterday, "One of the very best parts of the trip is getting there, getting out of the van, and seeing Grandma. And hugs, definitely hugs."

We already reserved a hotel for one night in Amelia Island, Georgia, a hop, skip, and a jump from the ocean. It is about four hours from our destination of Zephyr Hills, Fla. It gives us a nice rest for the last leg of the journey, and hey, it's the Atlantic Ocean, wow.:) I am almost considering reserving a second night so we can have an entire day there...

Speaking of happy exciting things, yesterday a huge box came in the mail. The delivery guy honked, and Sonja was voted to go out and get the package, as we grumbled that we never get anything in the mail, it's always nutritional supplements and vitamins for Paul and Joe and Kathryn. But the box came in, and it was for me! It was from Margaret! She had told me something was coming for me, and not to get too excited, but who can not get to excited when a huge box comes in the mail?

It was a dustpan on a stick! It's shiny and new, and the handle doesn't come unscrewed and fall off. The handle on the old one came off for good, so we put a wood broomstick/paint roller extender thing on it that's way too heavy for the dustpan, so if one leaves it standing by itself, it tips over, scattering the mess. Anyway, it was a very welcome surprise, but ha, such a huge-0 box for it!!!

Camille has the box now, she spent an amazing amount of time in there last night with her flashlight. I'm not sure if she was playing office during a power outage, or practicing being homeless, or what, but she had that box covered in blankets and here it is in the middle of the living room, she wants to keep it.

This fine morning, Kathryn took Charlotte Claire and Camille out and about, she took them to Target and to TJMaxx, and spoiled them, each a new shirt, and new neck-pillows for our Florida trip, which Cam so nicely said I can borrow if I get a chance to sleep. They are home now, and will do some school. I don't worry too much if our hours are random, last evening we did lots of science, geography, and vocabulary. They're learning.:)

Anne is taking her nap, so we're having Quiet Time. Jonathan is doing his own school work. He and I, and Anne, had a nice breakfast together. He made bacon and scrambled eggs. He says he is trying to eat healthier, cut the carbs. It's nice to see, and nice that he came to that decision by himself. He said some of the boys are going to start some sort of martial arts...they're always doing something fun.

Tomorrow we are having a fun field trip, to the big mall in the city, to one of those indoor play places. I will have Anne and Lydia, and yay for going bye-bye with a one year old and a two year old! It makes it tricky, but also makes it so much fun. The little ones are such blessings, despite diaper changes and melt-downs. Watching them keeps me on my toes.

Ah well, there is laundry to do and kids to teach and so so so many little projects to tackle. I like the keep the stovetop cleaned off, and the microwave wiped out, and the front of the refrigerator shiny, the tile on the back of the stove clean, and and and. I swept and mopped this morning, and washed all the couch covers, and and and. But, it never ends. Until some day it does, ha. I read an article on yahoo, which someone also posted on Facebook, that a 27 year old girl wrote before she died of cancer. Oh the things we waste time fretting over, as if we had our lives stretched out before us with no end. She wrote about using your money to bless, and not measuring your worth in "likes", or letting social media influence your self-image, letting go of caring about a flabby tummy, and being thankful for your days. She said she would desperately love to grow old with her partner and raise a family, and that she loved her life and didn't want to die, but there wasn't anything she could do about it. I did cry when I read it. Our days ARE numbered, and the fact that I have already lived twice as long as this lovely young lady, what do I have to complain about, ever?

And you know, in God's eyes, it's a level playing field. We might always think others have it easier, or better. But when it concerns grace from God, help from Him, He is no respecter of persons. Anyone who prays for help, who wants to put their life in order and start listening and being obedient to what God speaks to him, has the opportunity to be blessed by God. He resists the proud, and gives grace to the humble. It is never too late to turn to Him, nor is one ever put to shame, who puts his trust in Him.

And that is my sermon for today, :)

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

oops, sorry!

Sorry Evelyn! She had to go to a public meeting for an assignment in one of her classes, so it was a school board meeting last night, and I was supposed to go with her. And. I forgot. Well, I remembered a few times, felt confident I had plenty of time, then forgot again.

But it's not like I was just sitting around twiddling my thumbs, forgetting about things. No sir. First was the pool with the three homeschooled kids...getting out of the driveway was a challenge, the packed ice in the driveway had melted into a cement-like slush, keeping my wimpy old minivan captive. I had to reverse and gun it several times, which is much more fun than shoveling it. We moved forward a few feet at a time, but eventually, we were out of the driveway.

The pool was amazing, as usual. Putting my bathing suit on is NOT amazing, but I'll spare you the details. Margaret had the day off from work, and Adrian worked half a day, so they met us there. The kids love swimming with Adrian, he plays with them and is lots of fun. Margaret and Adrian agreed to bring the kids with them on their errands, and took them out to lunch, while I headed home to be picked up by my sister. She had a dr. appointment to prepare for an upcoming kidney stone surgery, blah. So I cut coupons in the waiting room while she saw the dr. I asked her if it would embarrass her, ha, because when I say "cut coupons", I mean RIP coupons, because I didn't have my purse scissors with me.

Our shopping find of the day: Bumbo seat, with tray: $13.79. We both have grandchildren, so we each got one.

Then the grocery store. I must say, it's nice to go use lots of coupons without kids there rolling their eyes and sighing. The donuts were half price, and ugh, why oh why did I buy some? But, alas, I did. And...since I had been swimming and was starving and it was past dinner time, yeah, some donut eating happened on the way home. Does it matter if I truly enjoyed it (or ahem...them!)?

So I had a handful of nuts for dinner when I got home, and called it a night, as far as eating goes. Not ideal, but oh well. I can only hope the swimming made up for most of it:(

Home with groceries...Mirielle was so nice, she went with Evelyn to the meeting. I felt bad, but when I remembered, I was already in the city, already had my coupons ready, and we were out of a few things at home, so I texted her and said I wasn't going to make it. eeks. I COULD have headed home. But, I have Anne today, tomorrow, and Thursday, and that means ha, no coupons, and honestly, I don't mind running in a store quick with her, but not a long shopping trip.

This fine afternoon, Sonja and I have to have fillings at the dentist. I have a super small cavity all the way back in a wisdom tooth, which means my jaw may just crack and stay open forever, which is my primary concern, along with the fear of my nose being dislocated. I'll have every single muscle in my body tensed, which may make the whole ordeal count as a workout!

Anne is going with us to the dentist. It's one of the rare times I'll break my "no tablet" rule, or phone, or whatever. Babies like those silly little songs videos at such young ages.

She is taking a nap right now, in the stroller with the fan on, so we're doing school quietly. Don't think for one minute that I just sit here typing, I have been helping Charlotte with the word, "devise", taking the loud bone away from Sunny, answering Camille, directing them what book to go to next, answering texts about watching kids, and of course, drinking coffee. Oh, poor busy me, ha.

Monday, January 8, 2018

is it spring yet?

See that snow overhanging the deck, built up from the roof?

There it is, after if fell down with a huge BANG.

I hurried out the front door, which THANKFULLY I had shoveled out, that door wouldn't have opened for anyone with all that snow on the porch...anyway, Paul had just gotten home from running a few errands and a trip to the dump, so he got up there first, but I helped him shovel it out...we could NOT have gotten out the door. The snow was almost halfway up the window. It's kind of scary, to get that much snow, to almost be literally snowed in.

It's stopped now. The local airport reported 66 hours straight of snow, and I daresay, it was even longer here. Every weather map I looked at for a few days, our house was right smack in the middle of that lake effect snow band coming off of Ontario.

But now, it's an almost springy 20 degrees, going up to maybe....33 today! But, with more snow...

We have plans though, to the pool at noon, then I may go with my sister to her dr. appt., then of course we may or may not gallivant as long as we're out.

Plans are coming together for Margaret's baby shower, which we are having here in a few weeks. She is due in March. I am so excited! Guess what! I am not barred from the delivery room! I have actually been invited to be there! I am so thrilled, and honored, and wouldn't miss it for the world. But anyway, we are having the shower here. The girls have invited like 30 people, but then with our fam here too, it's going to be a full house. This all means of course, that I have to CLEAN, more than usual. Because we get used to the hard water build up on the faucets, and the stuff piled up in the hallway...but oh dear, company's coming, all of the sudden I see so many things that are out of order, too messy!

Anyway. I had this minor epiphany the other morning, as I shuffled out here in my sweatpants and messy bun, in my $4.99 Walmart slippers...(sometimes I feel so old, doing the slipper shuffle)...but I realized something that's very obvious: this is my life. It's it. This. Waking up, wiping down counters and making a fresh pot of coffee, letting the dogs in and out and giving them water. Throwing in a load of laundry. Hugging Cam when she wanders into the kitchen with her blankie around her shoulders. This IS life. When you're young, you tend to think about life in terms of preparation for the future, then you all of the sudden get old, and you try to slow it down, this life that speeds by.

So here's something really special: I'm 99% sure we're going to Florida next month! Now, lots of people go to Florida every year, no biggie. But me, I never ever went there until I had five kids, and after that it was another 15 years or so before I went again. When I was a kid, only the rich kids went to Florida. My mother used to say it was overrated, as she did with all things we couldn't afford, ha. But Paul's mom is there, and has invited us down, and Paul and I talked, and decided that although he cannot go with me because work is way too busy for him this quarter, with a few trips to India thrown in for good measure...I can go by myself with the kids. Evelyn can help drive if we go on winter break, so that's what we're doing. I am hoping and praying for good driving weather. We looked into renting a van, but oh dear, with an 18 year old driver, it's $57 per day extra!

But anyway, we are leaving winter behind for a week in February!!!

And here I sit, with kids to teach, and a house to clean. Anne isn't here today, so I have been relaxing for too long. If I was smart, I would start with little projects each day so the house would be all clean by the baby shower, so there won't be a few days of panic cleaning accompanied by wondering why the heck I waited until the last minute, along with baking the half-moon cookies or cupcakes.
These happened the other day...I wanted to keep the little girls busy. When the high temp outside is 0, (-17.7), with 30 MPH wind gusts...they can't very well go out sledding. I did encourage them to go outside a few times, just for 10 or 15 minutes at a time, just to experience it, and because I think it's healthy. I went out at least four times a day during all this bad weather, it's so magnificent, the forces of nature. When the road is full of snow, and the wind is howling, and there is only's exhilarating. So they did most of the mixing and measuring, then I made the frostings and let them finish up. It kept them busy, and heated the house, but oh dear, they were hard to resist. Chocolate half-moons! I sampled a few tastes, then when they were all frosted, I did have half of one, the white frosted half. It was my homemade, no recipe, white buttercream, and on the chocolate cookie, oh yummers. But, I am behaving myself. Yesterday I did much better, and now that the entire supply of post-Christmas clearanced York Peppermint Patties are gone, I'll be really good. Because you know, a cup of hot coffee and a few Yorks, mmmm.....

Friday, January 5, 2018

snow day!!!

There's not much we can see out the windows today, with so much snow on the screens.

Some snow on the deck...

School was cancelled for today, yesterday! So the girls stayed up late, and when we got up this morning, it was a tiny bit like Christmas. A snow day! But, it was waaayy too cold to go sledding or build a snowman. The weatherman said frostbite can occur within 15 minutes in temperatures like these (one or two degrees F (-17), plus wind blowing...)

All day, I looked out the window...while I read the entire book, "The Kite Runner", while we baked a few loaves of bread...

We made chili, and put it in the crockpot, and there is huge satisfaction in knowing all afternoon that dinner is already done.

But I kept looking out the windows...I just wanted to go out in it, see how cold it really was.

So I bundled up and went outside. Evelyn went too, and lasted like three minutes. Sonja showed up for another three minutes. Even the puppies wanted to go back in before I did. I shoveled the steps, and some of the snow from the bottom of the driveway. My hands started to hurt, even with gloves on. I had to get in out of the wind. Jonathan had cleared the driveway twice, thankful for the snowblower, but the snow came down all day here, and the snowplow goes by and the end of the driveway gets full of snow again.

Anyway. Once I got back in the house it felt really warm in here. It's what I tell the kids if they complain about being cold: Go outside for a few minutes, and you'll see how warm it is in here, ha.

Anyway...we watched some netflix (the girls are watching Barbie and The Island Princess (AND, eating freezepops! Jonathan found them in the downstairs freezer, and jackpot, the kids are eating them like crazy!))

The day was leisurely, but it went by too fast. I felt better when Emily assured me that both Abigail and Mirielle had made it home from work safely. Then Paul came in, and phew. Good.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

arctic air is a comin' for a visit...

But I hope it's not too rude of a guest. Have you ever read the book, "Owl At Home", by Arnold Lobel? Well, you should. Get it for your kids or your grandkids. Or read it to your cat. Owl felt sorry for winter, so he invited it in. Well, winter was a rude guest! It turned Owl's hot pea soup into green ice, and blew snow all around his house! So he shooed it back out the door, which it slammed when it left!

Reading stories to kids is golden, it should never be replaced by letting them watch a you-tube video or playing a game on your phone. In my humble opinion.

So our weather forecast is dismal, we live southeast of Lake Ontario, which is a lake effect snow making machine. It IS pretty, snow is falling right now, huge flakes, like living in a snow globe. The tree branches are all sparkling with snow, and more just keeps swirling down.

Maybe today I'll venture outside and take some pictures.

Yesterday, we took a quick trip to Costco, although Kathryn will tell you that "quick" wasn't the word she would use to describe it. I love Costco, it's rather new to the area, and Emily surprised me with a membership a bit ago. I have only gone a handful of times because it isn't so close by, but yesterday I was heading out to get a few things, and Mali texted. She was wondering what we were doing, so we decided to meet at Costco, since it's near her house.

Little Anne, and Lydia, and Cam and I...Camille is getting so big!

They are so adorably cute.

After Costco, Mali headed home for a few things, then to my house. We took a detour to Target, Kathryn had a few things she wanted. Since Emily had taken Jonathan and Charlotte Claire cross country skiing:

So I spoiled Cam a little, and let her choose a few things in Target...a discounted Christmas bingo game, which we had fun playing last night, and a few small clearanced toys.

We had hamburgers for dinner, but honestly, it's not the same eating it with a fork and no bun, I rarely eat regular bread or buns anymore. :( There are lots of recipes for substitutes out there, and believe me, I have tried some. This very morning I baked a double batch of cinnamon almond bread (with flax seed, coconut flour, and a whole dozen eggs)(and a little bit of honey, ha) It just came out of the oven, and mmm good, with hot pumpkin coffee.

Camille made pancakes, she adds a pinch of cinnamon, some vanilla, and a dab of brown sugar, and fries them up in butter, oh dear they looked good. She wants to make a cake today, Char wants to make half-moon cookies, and I say blah, snow me in with fresh baked goods and expect me to be thin by spring?

Grandma is heading back to Florida soon, she was very sick back in the summer, so she stayed up here in the frozen north for way longer than she likes. She invited us down, and oh my goodness I want to go in February! We just might...we just might.

The thing about winter here is this: if we're going to get cold weather, at least we get lots of snow to go with it! It's pretty! It's rough to drive in, but it really is cozy. The whole house has that different light to it, that comes from the whiteness of outside. It feels Christmas-y, and celebratory, and just snug.

On Saturday, I am working at the basketball game, and oh dear, it's going to be cold walking into that Dome! The high temperature is forecast to be zero, (-17c), and that's the HIGH! With wind! And snow!

Anyway. Time to do more school.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

hopes and dreams for 2018....

I want to find a diet in the new year that actually works. Ha. Diets don't fail, it's the sneaky hands putting the food in the mouth, isn't it? And the brains behind the hands, reasoning and plotting, defending and suggesting, when those very brains know full well that it's nonsense, no one NEEDS cookies, not even just a little taste, and cookie dough DOES have calories.

Anyway. It's not going to be a brand spankin' new diet, just more resolve, along with the rests of the fat people in the United States of America...more resolve to be more honest with myself about what I actually indulge in.

The Target ad features snazzy work out gear, the Aldi ad is full of healthy options, our whole country is going to get skinny. Until the Valentine's Day candy comes out, anyway. What they need to sell is little bottles of motivation, just dab a bit behind the ear in the morning, and yes, I'll go to the gym! Maybe it can include some ingredients that clarify for us that a chocolate covered peanut is NOT health food, and that consuming healthy fats doesn't mean we can eat a half a stick of butter on sprouted grain toast and be smug about it.

We do need to purge the house from yummy things. My kids are funny, if they don't love it or really want it, they don't eat it. I brought home a few chocolate chip cookies from the Great Freezing NYC Adventure, from the boxed dinners they passed out. I did eat one of them, and it hit the spot. I wanted to eat more, of course I did. But I brought two home for the kids, maybe the girls would want them in their lunch, ect. But they are just sitting there in their plastic packaging, calling MY name, not THEIR names. There is a huge bowl of treats from the Christmas stockings, too. I dumped it all in the bowl so we could put the stockings away with the ornaments..there are mini Reese's Peanut Butter Christmas Trees, Andes Mints, Hershey Kisses, chocolate coins, Skittles, ect...I am considering dumping the whole bowl into the garbagio.

Yesterday was Get Rid Of The Tree day. wah. It was the nicest tree. Evelyn and Sonja had taken the ornaments off it already, but it looked really nice just standing there in it's white lights, with the star on top all lit up. But it was dropping needles, and it was time to say goodbye. Paul and Jonathan dragged it out the door last night, Camille vacuumed up the needles while Jonathan cleaned up the dirt from the plant they knocked over on the way out the door. We put away stray gifts, although there is still a crate here with a brand new water bottle, if no one claims it, it's mine, along with Mali's stocking full of treats, and a few other things. We left up a few winter-y decorations, but it still looks too bare in here. We straightened up our toy corner, and got rid of some things, which is like pulling teeth for yours truly. (The doll bed from Ikea, which Emily bought for Camille? The mattress board was broken, and it was wobbly...but I had painted it pink, and made a lovely little bedskirt and mattress cover...but As kids grow up, they don't want old toys stored in their rooms anymore, and if the grand kids only usually play with cash registers and dollhouse stuff and a few baby dolls and shopping carts, why do I keep so much? I also have bins of duplos and Little Tikes Waffle blocks, and some various electronic toys, along with a few bins of baby toys.

But we got rid of some dolly car seats, and the doll bed/changing table that Abigail got for Christmas when she was little, and Abigail just turned 31.

Anyway. It feels good to purge and organize.

Anne is coming over this fine morning. We are having a break from single digits, and it's going up to 20F (-6.6) today with no snow in the forecast. So we are going to the store today to stock up on the essentials. Emily is taking Jonathan and Charlotte Claire skiing, but Char has already learned two new songs on the ukelele, and has learned how to spell, "ridiculously", "recipe", "Fahrenheit",and "experience".

Our forecast: cold, more cold, and more snow. A week from today will still be under freezing, with quite a storm moving in Thursday to Friday, with HIGH temps Friday and Saturday of 2 and 3 degrees (-16c ). Friday is supposed to be windy and snowy too, so I am saying SNOW DAY!

Kathryn has the day off from work, so I am hoping she comes out with us. Not to steal from our spelling list, but it's been a ridiculously cold stretch here in the northeast, and I do not like winter driving. No, not at all. Especially in the minivan.

This morning's coffee has been delicious, mostly pumpkin spice with a scoop of regular Dunkin Donuts roast on top, just yummy. My chair is back in it's usual corner, not that the tree is gone, and it's all good, except I set my coffee on the window sill when I type, and it gets cold so fast...

Anyway, my real goals for the year, along with losing like fifty pounds, are to be humble and soft-hearted and forgiving and to listen for that still small voice of God, and be obedient. Then life will be good.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

brrrrrr! can you say COLD?!!!

This is from yesterday morning on the bus to New York City. Here's how it went...

We arrived in Syracuse, at the Destiny U.S.A parking lot, to meet the buses at 4 a.m. We waited in line outside to be checked in, in sub-zero temperatures, listening to comments from up and down the line about how stupid we were. The bosses checking us in were seated in their warm car, which was running with heat blasting, of course. We received our I.D. tags, and were directed to bus #3. The bus had no heat. No heat. You know how you go into an empty house or garage in the cold and it feels colder than outside? That was our bus. I had leggings under khakis, and a turtleneck layered with two sweatshirts, a scarf, a hat, gloves, and a winter coat, and I shivered on and off the whole five hours plus, to NYC. The wipers froze up on the bus, the driver had to stop to scrape the ice off the windshield. It wasn't horrible, we laughed and joked and I had my thermos of coffee, we shared snacks, and tried to get a little nap before arrival.

When we got there, we waited around outside for a while, in the wind, then walked to the building (Citi Field, it WAS cool!), then waited some more in the freezing hallways. There was very little organization, and my poor legs, ha.

It was time to get our STAFF jackets and hats, and dang, the NYC Classic hats were all gone, so we got New York Mets hats instead. Then...nightmare of all nightmares, they were all out of bigger jackets, and only had mediums. Now, I had a winter coat on top of my sweatshirts, and I am not a small lady to begin with, so a medium wouldn't even stretch across my back. I persuaded David O. to trade his large, so I could at least get it on. It didn't snap up in the front, which is too bad because it would have kept me a little bit warmer. Anyway. We got our name tags, and headed to our stands. We were all assigned to different places, and I went into my stand all by my lonesome.

I admit, I was intimidated. I didn't know what this stand served, or how it was run, but in I went. I was at my loveliest, btw, with two hats on, and my green winter coat peeking out of an unsnapped outer Winter Classic shell, and oh my, my black galoshes over my sneakers. My khakis were big and baggy, and rolled up at the cuffs. So in to the stand I went. I had missed the how-to's and the what was served in what boats, so I asked a few questions, and jumped in to work. It became clear right away that one guy there was know-it-all-y and one of those Alpha male types. He bossed me around just a teeny bit too much for my liking, and I had been the one exhorting the others earlier not to take any crab from anyone. This guy tried to grab drinks right from me that were for a different lady, was telling me to hurry up, and was all up in my grill and in my personal space, so without even knowing what words were going to come out of my mouth, I looked right at him and said, "Will you please be nice to me?"

It worked. He stammered and shrugged and I do believe he saw how he was being. I was nothing but nice to him, and by the end of that hockey game, we were on friendly enough terms. There was a special needs man bunning and boxing the hot dogs, he thought a few at time would be good enough, so were continuously short on hot dogs. We ran out of cocoa, and the coffee machine wasn't hooked up. Customers waited in the cold wind only to find out we had no hot drinks for sale, and as the one lady I was working with said, "I have been yelled at more today than I have been by my husband in my entire marriage!"

So cold and unpopular, I still made some good friends in that stand. One of the cooks had three beers waiting for him for the bus ride home, and dang it, how did I think Hershey Kisses were going to cut it? What was I thinking? We shivered and worked, and I am telling you, it was cold. I tried to wipe the counters down when we cleaned up at the end, and the water simply froze immediately, and I had to scrape it off. My fingers were numb, even though the water I started with was hot. The counter bucket that was there during the game was frozen solid, and the water bottle I had been sipping from was frozen.

The ride home was better, the bus had heat, and I had some of those little warmers to warm my hands that just seemed to want to stay cold and stiff. I had put some in my sneakers before the game, and although they kept my toes from falling off, they wedged in at the end of the shoes, making my toes have to bend to fit in right, oh the complaints, I'm done now, ha.

We shared stories on the bus on the way home, got home at almost 1 a.m., 22 hours of sheer fun. I cracked out those Hershey Kisses, and the York Peppermint Patties, too. The boxed dinners they served us for the bus weren't bad, I ate those little bags of salty chips, I felt like I couldn't eat enough, after being in the cold all day.

After getting off the bus, a snowy ride down the thruway with Emily, Abigail, and Paul...

Home...ah home. I woke up at 3 a.m. with leg cramps, very dehydrated. I will be drinking a lot of water today, and of course starting my New Year's diet, like the rest of the western world.:)