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, February 28, 2018

school threats and blood pressure...

and never a dull moment. Our high school received a threat yesterday, which school officials deemed serious enough to call/email/AND text all parents. My three high school girls started texting me and telling me there were police at the school. Meanwhile, I am getting ready for my doctor's appointment. By the time I got to the office, I knew my kids were safe, as they said the kid who made the threats was arrested, but still, my heart hurt because I knew the whole matter scared them. These school shootings are terrifying, horrific, and I just wanted to get my girls home safe and sound and make them some coffee.

(These threats against the schools are ridiculous! One poor kid in a private school in the city posted a video of himself shooting a B.B. gun at a can, saying he was perfecting his "school shooting skills". It's the sort of thing a boy might say, thinking he was funny. I didn't see the video, but to me, it didn't seem like a real threat, just a stupid comment. Now he's in jail, charged with a felony, and a huge bail amount to get out. I am worried this thing will get out of hand, in the zeal to stop more violence, the cops will arrest kids who are just being unthinking teenagers. If there is a real threat, like if this kid had a "real" gun at home, and actually threatened directly, sure, get him, bothers me.)

So as I was checking in at the desk at OB/GYN, I told the receptionist what was going on, and if my phone was pinging, I didn't mean to be rude, I just didn't feel I could just silence it and ignore the girls at that point.

Imagine my surprise when I got called in, and my blood pressure was 126/76. I was shocked. I felt shaky and nervous, between my hatred of doctor visits and the stuff going on in school, I thought for sure it'd be higher. My weight...blah. Still much better than a few years back, but not as good as it could be of course.

And, the bottom line is this: whenever post-menopausal bleeding occurs, the first thing they look for is cancer. The midwife told me repeatedly that I was wise to come right in. She's a really nice lady, she hugged me when she came into the room. She delivered several of my babies, and I do love her. When she was saying goodbye, she said, "It was so nice to see you, Della, I just wish it was under better circumstances." dismal forebodings, get far from me!

I have to go back in for a sonogram and a few more tests, and then a consult with the doctor who did the D&C when my last baby didn't make it. I remember him as a nice guy.

I did ask the midwife if there are cases where there is no cause ever found, and the bleeding remains unexplained. "Absolutely. We just look for cancer first."

So there it is. The Big K, no one wants it, everyone fears it, but sometimes, people get it.

God knows the big picture, and there are countless verses about not being anxious. To trust that He knows what's best for me is what I want to do, with all of my heart. This trust doesn't always come naturally, we have to fight to come into rest about it sometimes. By fight, I mean saying a big huge NO to those "what if" thoughts, and those worries. Don't jump off the bridge 'til you come to it, right?

I do have better things to occupy myself with, anyway. Here is some excellent news: Our son Joseph is engaged!

Joseph and Bethany!

Are they not the sweetest couple? (My niece Susan took their pics, strykingphotography)

We are all pretty excited about this, she's a super nice girl.

Today is warm weather again, by warm I mean 50 degrees (10c), and rain is moving in. But by tomorrow night, a snowstorm is hitting, dang it, Samuel is supposed to drive up from Virginia. He has to be on base near the airport tomorrow for Army Reserve training. So he is bringing Grace and baby Grant with him, so they can spend time with us.:) Now I am not sure what will happen, we almost forgot it was winter here.

Last evening, all the older kids were at a meeting, so I went in the hot tub with Char and Cam. It was so lovely, the moon shining and the stars out, living out here in the country, you can see the sky at night, no light pollution. The hot tub is everything I dreamed it would be, all those years it wasn't working. It isn't just that you're sitting there in hot bubbly water, it's that no one has an iPod or phone, and you can talk. It's just a nice little break, always fun.

Sweet little Anne is coming soon, and the homeschooled kids need to get up and get busy. The three high school girls went out the door this morning, glad I was up with them, one of them never leaves herself enough time, so I threw some things together for her lunch, and put a bagel in the toaster...I know, I spoil her. Evelyn texted me from school and said there were "cops" there. What is this world coming to?

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

the house is a mess!

In my dream life, I would never utter this phrase, nor even think it in a panic upon hearing of the imminent arrival of company. I would just calmly register the fact that someone was coming over, straighten the couch pillows, and sit down sipping coffee waiting for friends to come over.

Why do we always long for what's just out of reach?

I know, I know, I can hear you...Just Clean The Freakin' House.

And I try. I really do. Every day, I do the basics, I keep the floors swept and mopped and the counters cleaned off, the dishes done, and I keep up with the laundry these days. But the closets get unorganized and filled with things we don't need, and things get haphazardly crammed into cupboards, and I get these piles of stuff in my room. I have bags of good things I bought, which I can't find when I need them, and sometimes, ha, it's like mini-Christmas when I find these treasures when I'm not even looking for them.

I read about the 40 day garbage bag challenge, where, yes you guessed it, you remove a garbage bag full of stuff from your house every day for 40 days, hopefully to the second hand store. I am going to try that. Seriously. I want to go minimalist. Ha. I THINK that, then I see some really cool stuff I would like to have, and...

But I am doing better. I went to the thrift store the other day and parked my cart back in the front of the store with nothing in it. I don't want any more junk. I don't want a third dog, and no more kitties. I hate to say it, but I think I may have grown up.

But not all the way. Here's how I know: give me a sunny day and I'll abandon this challenge, and every other lick of housework in a heartbeat, and leave for an adventure.

I will also still stay up way too late reading my book, and be too tired to think straight in the morning, but will still do it again the next night.

I am trying to get back on the no sugar lifestyle after the stupendous trip to Florida. Peanut butter M&M's, you made me gain four pounds! Now that doesn't seem like alot, but I worked for weeks to go down a few pounds before the trip, and blah. But, I am going back to Keto eating, and am looking forward to seeing some results. A few weeks ago, I complained to my son Benjamin about my lack of weight I do well all week, then eat two cookies and gain two pounds back, and I kid you not. He said, "Well, you have to it worth it to you to NEVER eat the cookies, and lose fifty pounds? Or just keep doing this...?" I want to lose the fifty pounds. I do. I want to feel better and be able to wear things that I'm not super-muffin-ing out of, and I don't want to be so hot and sweaty and have to cover my upper arms, ha.

I am going to the doctor this afternoon, and I'm dreading the blood pressure reading. I know it gets better with good diet and exercise, and the good diet thing I have been doing better on, but blah.

Ah well...things to do, children to teach, little Anne to play with...

Monday, February 26, 2018

appointments and messy houses...

Here's the thing: I am shocked and surprised at how messy my house still gets.

Monday morning clean up, blah. We do have two Labs, and they bring in plenty of dust, dirt, and then there is all the dog fur. My daughter Margaret and her husband have two Boxer/Labs, who visited yesterday, doubling the dust and dog fur.

Yesterday, I was busy in the kitchen. On such a dreary rainy day, baking chocolate chip cookies was just the thing to do. I put some chicken drums and thighs in lemon and lime juice, olive oil and rosemary, salt and pepper, to marinate for dinner. Then it was time to go to the baby shower. I brought some of the cookies, because once I make them, I rather want them to be all gone. I didn't eat any cookie dough this time, because that is like opening the gateway to eating more cookie dough, then a few cookies. I did eat one cookie. And let me tell you, it was good.

The baby shower was really special. The mom-to-be is my sister's second oldest daughter, my only sister Cheryl, who has seven daughters. Becky is 12 days older than Emily, and I can clearly remember the first time I held her. Cheryl's girls grew up with my kids. Anyway, the shower was encouraging, as we heard about how no two babies are alike, God makes each of them unique, and gives them into the families He chooses. It takes a village to raise a child, and we need our friends! The older ones mentor the younger ones, and make it so good for them. We are all very excited to meet this baby, she is due a few weeks after my daughter Margaret...which is coming up in less than three weeks!

So we had our nice dinner last night of mashed potatoes (I peeled ten pounds of potatoes in the living room while talking to Emily, I felt like the proverbial southern grandmama sitting in the rocker on the front porch snapping beans or shucking peas.), roasted chicken, and a nice big salad.

Lots of stuff is going, on as usual, never a dull moment here. Our older kids are planning a huge trip to Norway for Easter, there's Easter Camp, with tons of activities to choose from, mostly to get to know kids from other countries, and build their connections to God. We are still short on the money they need to go, so we are getting busy here...bringing back the bottles and cans, and I am going to check a few places to see if there are things I can buy and resell.

I have a doctor's appointment to cancel this morning, because I was supposed to get a mammogram first, and haven't done that yet. I just had one last year! And then tomorrow I have to go in for this other stuff that surprised me a few weeks back. I'm pretty sure no one likes going to the doctor, but I really really hate it. Getting weighed, blah, and hey, ignorance is bliss, I don't want to hear any bad news. I have a busy life going on here, ain't nobody got time for bad health.

Our friend who has struggled with cancer of the esophagus has had some bad news, he has a tumor in his lung that is cancerous. He has battled this for over ten years. He has a wife and eight kids, they are an amazing family and I would love and appreciate any prayers for him, and for his family. He has really worked hard to take the trials with a good spirit, and has grown in wisdom and grace, for sure. God has blessed him in the midst of his sufferings.

And that is all for this fine morning.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

dreary day...

You know what's almost as nice as a brilliantly sunny day? A dark rainy day. The kind of day that makes you want to hunker down inside and put on a pot of soup, maybe bake some chocolate chip cookies. The kind of day that if the sun peeks through, you want it to go away again, and leave you to the delicious gloom.

When the kids were little, I welcomed those dark rainy days because maybe there wouldn't be as much pressure to get outside. I mean,'s just say ten kids twelve and under...who want to go outside...and there are dishes and laundry and the floors are sticky and you are in the middle of sewing new curtains, and haven't the foggiest what's for dinner tonight...and kids want to go play out in the sunshine!

Anyway. It's one of those cozy days. The only thing I dislike is that the dogs get so muddy, and they go in and out so many times every day. They are Labs, they love water, and they see that creek in the back yard as their personal vacation spot. They are still sleeping in Charlotte Claire and Camille's room, so shh, I don't feel like letting them out then wiping them down, so I am tip-toeing around here, put on a pot of coffee, and am here sneaking in a post.

We got home safe and sound Friday night. We left as planned, at O-Dark-Thirty, really at 4:30 a.m. on Thursday. We drove through Florida, hit Georgia as the sun was up and shining...Georgia is a long state to drive through, but it's fascinating, with it's mossy trees and it was so warm when we stopped. Then South Carolina, North Carolina, then finally, Virginia. We had a hotel booked in Richmond. We stopped first to get some dinner to eat when we got to our room...Wendy's. Evelyn and Irene and I really like their salads. But I do NOT like blue cheese, or any kind of cheese, unless it's on a pizza or in the dreaded mac-and-cheese, but whatever. I asked for mine without. And lo and behold, we got to the hotel, and blah, it was permeated with blue cheese. So I did text the 1-800 number and complain...but I made sure to say that the employee was super nice, just made a mistake, but oh I was hungry. Anyway. It's good I ordered some extra stuff.

And the hotel: I booked this hotel instead of a few other ones that looked promising because of one particular feature: the hot tub. There is nothing like a soak in a hot tub after fourteen hours in the van. So you can imagine the look on my face when the seven of us suited up and walked into the pool room, and there was a swimming pool...and the hot tub had been cemented over, filled in, was no more in existence. The girls were disappointed too, but they had too much fun looking at my face. I couldn't stop saying, "Seriously?"

So the next morning, I had every intention of having a nice conversation with the manager about how it was pictured on the CURRENT online reservation site, with no mention it had been removed, which swayed me to this hotel, when I could easily, for the price I payed, have reserved somewhere else. But as luck would have it, the manager was out, the girl in the breakfast room said, getting more...half and half! Ha. If you know me at all, this is a coffee deal-breaker, no half- and half. I could do whole milk, but they had skim, or low-fat. They had flavored sugary creamers, but I can't drink those. It was almost funny.

We had to make a stop for coffee after we left.

And we survived. And I am well aware that I sound like a spoiled First World Probs girl, and I am sorry about that.

It was nice to get home. We had lots of fun travelling, sang the Phinneas and Ferb song too many times, and the girls have a song about the periodic table, and then there's the presidents song...and stopping for chicken nuggets and the spilling of barbecue sauce in the van and the dropping of the bag of M&M's...good times.

It's so nice to be with Paul again. He made us dinner, but we weren't really hungry, so we saved it and had it last night.

Yesterday afternoon, I went on an outing all by myself. Paul was working from home, Jonathan was at my brother's house helping install new flooring, the older girls all at a conference, and the two little girls just wanted to stay home. Char was playing dollhouse and Cam was practicing the clarinet. So off I went, to the library...I got a stack of interesting books for them, a few for me. Then to the thrift store, where surprise, I bought nothing. Then to Aldi, where I bought bacon and half and half and veggies and some Halo oranges, they are so yum. Then to the dollar store for a gift bag for my nieces's baby shower, which is today.

It wasn't half bad going out by myself. I am used to hearing a chorus of protests and opinions about every stop and every purchase, too. I bought two huge bags of marshmallows at the dollar store, for 25 cents each, we can make rice krispy treats with them. If my girls were there, they would be like, "Mom, we don't need those!"

The coffee has finished brewing, so I need to sneak out and pour a cup, all tippy-toe quiet...let sleeping dogs lie, and all that...

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

saying goodbye to florida isn't easy when there is snow at home!

So we have made our Go Back Home plan: we are getting up at 4 a.m. and heading north...hopefully uneventfully, all the way to Richmond, Virginia. We booked a room with lots of beds, a little pricier than I wanted, but who wants to sleep on the floor after driving all day long?

The hotel also has a pool and a hot tub, just in case we want to soak or use up some energy.

We will still have over five hundred miles to go on Friday, but it will be warming up from tomorrow's snow in New York, and hopefully the travel conditions will be better.

It's a loooooong way home. Twelve hundred miles.

Our van is packed, and we have had a very good day.

We went to the pool this morning. We sunned and swam...and the same lady from the other day told me her friend didn't believe her how many kids I had, and wanted me to confirm it...they were okay about it, until an old man came along, over to the pool, and she blared the news to him, in a rather coarse way. I wasn't sure what to do, so I just ignored them. The man declared he was the only guy at the pool, so the Loud Lady made a sweeping gesture with her arm, at all of us, and said, "Well then you can take your pick." I was absolutely horrified. I still didn't say anything, but I was ready to pack up and leave. Sometimes I am just struck plain dumb by people. After mulling it over all day, I have concluded that I SHOULD have said something. I didn't want to fight with her, but sometimes there are just these spirits that people bring, and I should have stood up for the girls and told her to clean it up, pipe down, or just to shut up if she was going to be derogatory.

We headed back to Grandma's, and yay, went out to lunch at Panera Bread! It was very pleasant, I had a huge salad and a yummy coffee with nutmeg in it. The kids cleaned up their food nicely, they really enjoyed it.

Back to the pool for the afternoon, and it was much better, the Loud Lady wasn't there, and the kids felt much more comfortable. With temperatures in the high eighties, and plenty of sunshine and a nice breeze, perfection. Just lovely. Delicious weather.

Evening: Grandma ordered chicken wings and pizzas to celebrate Suzanne's birthday! We also had cake and ice cream, and watched the Syracuse basketball game, which was weird because if I were back in New York, I would have been at the Dome working at that game.

It's hard to say goodbye to Grandma. She's so much fun, and has been very good to us. We came here and messed up her nice tidy house, ha.

I probably won't be blogging on my way home, so goodbye for a day or two...pray for our travels...have I mentioned how much I don't like driving?:)

pictures of fun...:)

Magic Kingdom! I'm not gonna lie and say that you MUST bring your children here. In fact, we felt a little sorry for some of the little ones there, it was quite warm, and they got tired, and we saw more crying children than we usually see at Walmart. But then there were thousands of people in the park, and the lines were a little long. I think that kids under four would rather just play at the beach, but that's just my opinion.

There was singing in this van on the way to Disney. Singing along with ABBA, and the songs from Barbie movies. They sing the Natural Elements song. They were excited!

Camille and I...

Miss Cam and Evelyn Joy...

Suzanne and I...

Suzanne and Sonja, Char, Cam, and Evelyn...

Char, Ev, and Cam...they spun their teacup like crazy, and were dizzy. Suze and I just sat there and watched people get dizzy.

Miss Char stood in line for the Ralleye cars and did her hair.

The girls are better picture takers than their mama, and they were sending them out all day, snapchat, ect. :) is essentially our last day of vacation, tomorrow morning we hit the road, back to New York, back to reality!

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

come along to the magic kingdom with us!

Our plan: get up early, get the lunch packed: one lunchbag with the wraps (olive oil rosemary wraps with turkey, or ham, and lettuce...with pepper), the other with grapes, cucumber slices, and cheese. And a bag of pepperoni slices. Then one backpack with baggies of SunChips, peanutbutter filled pretzels, granola bars, M&M's.

Stop for coffee, fill the gas tank, then, yay! We were heading to Disney!!!

Our breakfast was in the van...ready cooked packaged bacon, and for the girls, croissants and corn muffins. We also had some yummy Bolthouse smoothies, and no, I didn't get paid. The girls enjoyed picking out their own flavor. I got a vanilla protein shake, but only drank half of it because it was so sweet.

There was traffic near the theme park...then we got there, and it's twenty three dollars to park. ouchie. We ultimately decided to actually pay $45 to park! Premium parking, near the gate, no taking the seemed like a good idea, because it was so pricey already, why not?

Once you get there, you wait in line to get your bags searched. Then you wait in line to get on the metro train that takes you to the park. Then you wait in line to get in. Then yay, you are all used to doing what you'll be doing all day!

But: we had a blast. We went on Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain and Space Mountain, and the Mad Tea Cups and the Dumbo ride and Pirates of The Carribean. We cooled off under the mist station, and we took a spin in the gas powered cars. We got ice cream, then we went and got iced coffees and iced teas, they have a Starbucks there!

We enjoyed the 87 degree day, sometimes the little clouds floated by, and a nice breeze helped make it lovely.

Space Mountain was just way too much fun, and having a FastPass for it was great, we just walked right by the line.

Overall, we walked for 6 and a half miles today.

My feet hurt. My knees hurt. But oh it was fun.

The girls really enjoyed it, and they are exhausted. I am the last one up, and I am falling asleep too.

Grandma is too good to us, sending us off to Disney like that. Tomorrow is our last day here, and we are going to celebrate Suzanne's 17th birthday. Grandma ordered a cake from Publix, and the girls are really excited about it. We plan to get in some more pool and sun, and some talking to Grandma...I hope it's a really long relaxing day....because Thursday, we head back to New York....but ha, I get to see Paul again, yay!

Monday, February 19, 2018

grocery store geek, sunshine, and more sunshine...

This fine morning, my mother-in-law and I went to the Publix for milk and eggs, strawberries and and and. We got supplies for tomorrow's trip to Walt Disney's Magic Kingdom, too. The girls all left for the pool while we were gone, so after the groceries were put away, down to the pool I went.

Now this place is a retirement community. Guests are allowed. But these people at the pool are all different degrees of OLD. Most are smiley and friendly, but there are always a few lemon suckers, scowling when they see the kids. This morning as I settled into my chair to join the girls, a resident informed us loudly, "Remember, no one under 18 is allowed in the hot tub. It's the rules." Why do some people love rules? And who made her queen? But I have been working hard on not judging people, and not getting offended, and my kids look to me, whether I realize it or not, whether THEY realize it or not, to set the tone, and so I behaved myself. I did remark quietly that I really and solemnly hope to not grow old and bitter against young people.

We waited until the Queen of the pool left before I brought them into the hot tub.

Here's the thing: My kids are thoughtful. They aren't going to jump into the pool and splash the ladies, and ruin their hair-do's. But I told the kids that those old people don't know this. They see kids, they think: trouble.

And here's another thing. Sometimes I forget that the world ain't all rainbows and puppydogs, and it hits me hard every time.

Suzanne, Camille, me, Evelyn, Charlotte Claire, Sonja, and Irene.

Anyway, I forget how things really are out in this big world. Today, for example, a lady at the pool motioned to all the girls lounging in the sun, and asked me if they were all mine. Well, no, I said, five of them are. "Five! You have FIVE girls?" Well, yes, I said, and then I added..."here with me anyway. There are a few more at home." Now, I should have just stopped there. I really should have. But no, I don't learn. She asked how MANY more. I told her there are eleven girls all together. She glanced at the lady a few chairs over and said, "Well, you have HER beat, she has six daughters." Wow, I said, that's nice! Isn't it fun! She agreed it is, but was looking at me like I had antlers. They kept repeating, ELEVEN DAUGHTERS. So...again, stupid me, had to go mention, "I have five sons thrown in there, too, just to make it interesting." Then I most definitely had antlers. The first lady looked right at me and said loudly, "You're crazy." Honest to God.

I simply told her, "No, it's fun, I love it." Then I swam away with Camille. The girls asked me afterwards why that lady called me crazy, they heard her all the way across the pool....

I guess everyone doesn't love big families.

We are having a good time here though. After a nice morning swim session, we headed back for some lunch, then back to the pool for some afternoon sunshine. We decided to go into town to a store we don't have up north. Evelyn and I didn't find anything for ourselves, but the other girls had some good luck, and it was fun. We also went to Publix again, ha, for a few more things for tomorrow...we got some drink pouches to freeze, they keep the turkey wraps cold and then we can drink them as they thaw. We have grapes, cucumber slices, plums, Sun-Chips, M&M's, granola bars, and peanut butter pretzels. We don't like to waste money on food at theme parks, ha.

Magic Kingdom!!! We have a few fast passes, and yes, we are going on Space Mountain! It's going to be hot, 86 and sunny...I will NOT complain about the heat. I will try to get some good pictures. I haven't been taking too many:)

We had burgers on the grill tonight, and these green beans that Grandma made, cooked with bacon, yummers. Sitting out on the porch, watching Winter Olympics with the warm breeze blowing's not too shabby.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

hot hot hot...winter break!

Off we go!!! This was as we pulled out of the driveway on Friday.

Our trip down was very pleasant. We had some rain, but no snow. Our actual departure time was 12:30, after putting air in the tires and checking the oil. We stopped for coffee to start with, and we hit the road.

By about two in the morning, we were exhausted. I had only driven a few hours, but had been the co-pilot for Evelyn, and my eyes weren't co-operating anymore. I drove over the nobby stay-awake things on the edge of the road, and that was it, I had to find a place to park and zzzz for a few hours. Well, turn that van off, and everyone wakes up. The shuffling and snuffling were horrendous. Evelyn declared she was fit to drive more, so off we went again, with Camille, who had slept the most already, as co-pilot.

After a few hours, Ev was too tired to drive, so we parked again, and I turned on some white noise on my phone, and we all slept for a few hours. We hit our destination of the Marriott in Amelia Island by noon. The nice lady at the desk had a room ready for us, we changed, and headed to the beach. I do have beach pics, but I am too tired to download them tonight. Here's just one:

I actually forgot my phone at the hotel, so I had to steal this one from Irene.

The fog rolled in and the beach got chilly, so we walked back to the hotel...and we were hungry and tired. Pizza and wings? Yes. Early to bed, oh it was nice.

We had a super nice hotel breakfast, but the coffee was only so/so, so we stopped at Starbucks. :)

Four hours later, we were at Grandma's.

And then we were at the pool:)

Then we were having grilled hot dogs, corn on the cob, and pasta salad for dinner, thank you Grandma!

We watched some Olympics, the girls headed down to the pool and hot tub for a bit, but we are all tired again, no surprise there.

Tomorrow, high eighties and sunny...right now Cam and I are snuggled into bed, Cam reading a book, Char falling asleep on the floor, the other girls in the other room, and Grandma all settled in early too. It is very nice indeed...

Friday, February 16, 2018

and off we go to florida!!!!

Life IS all sunshine and roses sometimes, isn't it? Never mind that we have to drive 1,276 miles to get to Grandma's house...our van burns lots of oil, so Evelyn and I will have to be on that. Jon isn't coming with us on this trip:) The tires need air frequently too, but according to the mechanic in town, the van is fine for the trip.

Jon is staying here for winter break because his good friends will be on break too, and will be doing fun stuff. Kathryn has work, so she'll be here, and Joseph works from home and will be here too. Kathryn has today off, and is taking Jon ice skating. She says they'll have fun, and Jon agreed, he said, "We'll have fun even if we don't have fun."

I'm leaving soon to pick the three high school girls up from school, before their lunch time, early. My three girls, and their friend Irene, who is coming with us. As soon as Jon seat was empty, and he was positive he would rather stay here and do boy things with the boys, the girls started in on, "Can we bring Irene?" Now, Irene is a great girl. Seriously. She has never been one of those girls who can only be friends with one of my girls at a time, she brings them together, and she brings fun. She enjoys things tremendously, appreciates things, and gets along great with the younger girls too. Having Irene around is not like having company, she fits in, she's like family.

So anyway. We're leaving soon. Did I pack enough? Too much? Sunscreen, toothbrush, phone charger, Dramamine for poor Suze who gets car sick..check. Nuts, gum, apples, oranges, chips, Tic-Tacs, a whole assortment of chocolate bars, protein bars, crackers...check. Evelyn told me specifically not to bring too many snacks, but did I listen? ha.

I got the kids an Echo Dot for Christmas, and Jon is asking Alexa about the weather. It's rather fun, but she says this too often, "Your Echo Dot has lost it's connection.", as we have terrible internet service out here.

Camille made French toast for their brekky, I told them a good breakfast is smart this morning. Jon took over so Cam could take a shower, and he cooked up the rest of the egg mixture for me, a dash of cinnamon made them actually good, with salt and pepper. Served to me while I blog, on a plate with a fork, couldn't ask for more. See? Sunshine and roses.

I just painted my toenails, because bare feet, beach...and guess what? It's honestly the first time I have done them since before I went to California last August.

Here's the thing: I don't like driving. I don't like going fast and passing tractor-trailers, and I don't like merging. I don't like not being 100% certain which lane I should be in, and I don't like driving in the night when I can't see. I just don't. I tried to get as much sleep as I could last night, as we won't be going night-night again until Saturday night at the hotel in Amelia Island. But ha, we all know how that goes. Your body will not be talked into sleeping when it has things on it's mind, like not forgetting to pack the wipes for the van and your favorite sunglasses.

But driving there is the way we are getting there, so I'll suck it up and drive. The kids are going nuts with excitement, and they have this president song they're probably going to sing all the way down, I'll know all of my presidents in order by the time we get there.

I AM bringing this laptop with me, and I'll take plenty of pics, so you can all come to Florida with us. Oh, and here's a funny thing: Evelyn's English teacher is going to Magic Kingdom a few days after we're going, and we are going to hide a family picture there so they can find it.....

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

the trials in life....

Okay, is it just me, or is the very word "cancer" a terrifying word? Aaron used to call it The Big K. No one wants it, no wants their family members to have it. And when we hop on our Jump To Conclusions Mats at the drop of a pin, or rather at the first sign of a possible symptom, ugh.

Here's the thing, and this is not for the faint of heart. These are details of me, of my life, and I choose to hopes it can help someone else deal with things too. Lots of stories aren't mine to tell...but this one is.

I have been in menopause for over two and a half years. You know, after the magic year with no monthly curse, bing, menopause. So imagine my surprise and non-delight when I started in on one yesterday...after being crampy and moody for a week or so...I was like, "Oh no, cancer!" Yes, I jump right over all the other things it may just be, and land right on death row. I texted my sister, she called me right away. She is dealing with her own health issues, but has grown in wisdom and grace, as she has faced her trials with complete trust in God. Next I texted two of my nurse daughters, who assured me that there are other things that can cause this. This fine morning, I called the OB-GYN and made an appointment for when we get back from Florida.

(They were thrilled with me, they love patients who skip their annual exams for a few years, then want to get into be seen pronto.)

Anyway. Now I wait. And now I battle those pesky doom and gloom thoughts. A snowball isn't formed with one snowflake, and although great bundles of anxiety seem to come out of nowhere and obliterate clear and logical thinking, those bundles should be dismantled and sent packing. Then the little snowflakes that so innocently want to band together need to be melted with faith that God sees the big picture, He weighs and measures, and every hair on our heads is numbered.

So Anne is here today, and she didn't want me to blog, no sir! Not when there are stories to be read and songs to be sung! But I sneaked back to it, ha. Mirielle texted me a bit ago, and suggested there is always going to the emergency room. Oh dear. A large bundle of anxiety hit me right upside the head with that text because of this: Mirielle is an oncology nurse. She deals with the real deal every day, the Big K. And when the oncology nurse doesn't just poo-hoo your symptoms, uh oh.

But unless anything changes, I am going to wait until I get back from Florida, and go in to the OB-GYN office, where hopefully I'll be told that everything is just fine.

In the meanwhile, those thoughts of anxiety cannot rule! They cannot! They are in direct contradiction to believing that God plans all things for our best! That doesn't mean we don't go to the doctor, or that we walk near the edges of cliffs and trust that God will be there to catch us. We cannot add one cubit to our lives by worrying. And logically, even worst case scenario, do I want to spend my final months worrying, ha?

Anyway. In all this there is still everyday life. Lunches to be made and towels to fold. The van to pick up from the place in town, and and and. School. Divvying out the strawberries. (They were $1.49 a pound at Aldi!, so I got two pounds).(Cam bit into one and said, "It tastes like visiting Grandma.")

It's really interesting, really, when you look at your life from the perspective of What If I Really Only Had A Short Time To Live. Because really, short or long, we aren't going to walk this earth forever. The "problems" seem smaller, and the troubles not so troubling, and I want to be tender and good to my kids.

I still took the time do do some laundry and sweep and mop the floors though. :)

Tonight, Evelyn and I are working the college basketball game, it starts at nine o'clock. Happy Valentine's Day to us.

Paul is sweet though, he had Kathryn get me flowers and some chocolate covered almonds. I got up this morning and there they were on the counter. I do miss him.

Anyway, I just thought I'd share, TMI or not, because life is made up of unpleasant things, but these very things can bring us treasures in heaven, oil in our lamps, and teach us to appreciate our days.

Monday, February 12, 2018


It's late, and I should be in bed. It's been busy, Samuel and Grace and baby Grant left this morning, and I miss them already.

Here's something interesting: my oldest and my youngest, Emily Anne and Camille Anaya, 33 and 10. They are 23 years apart, and Em and I are 19 years apart, ha.

And here is me with Sonja K.

I feel like my kids all look different from each other, but when I am in a pic with just one, we look alike.

Anyway. This fine afternoon, when those three high school girls got off the bus, we went shopping, just to one store, because I was going to buy them new sandals. We did not the sandals, but I had a 30 percent off coupon, plus a $15 off of $50 coupon, so we got a few other things. I found a few shirts for less than five dollars, a couple of beach towel, they found shorts, and a shirt for Jon. (I looked in the ad when I got home, and dang it, it was the last day of the sandal sale, and it mentioned they were in the accessories dept., which is why we didn't find them with the shoes. dang it.)

We were going to head home, but they were hungry. I suggested going to the store and looking for something yummy to go home and make, but naaaahhhh, they weren't enthused. I didn't feel much like that either, so I suggest McDonalds, which may lack in nutrition, but it makes up for it in price, ha. They didn't mind having burgers and fries and nuggets and ice waters for dinner. I had four nuggets, then made keto cheese crackers at home to eat while we watched Jeopardy!.

We've been washing clothes and starting to pack for Florida. I dropped the van off at the place in town to get the oil changed, and a check up, to be reasonably sure it will make it the 2,400 mile round trip to Florida and back.

Here's a funny thing: On Sunday, Evelyn and I took a store run, we were out of milk and bread and bananas, and running low on eggs and kitty food. On the way home, we decided to stop at the auto scrap yard, The Pick and Pull. Now, I have never been to the Pick and Pull before, but we lost the little plastic button that you push to lower the driver's side window, and it only works if you stick the arm of a certain pair of sunglasses into it, and sometimes it gets cranky and doesn't want to go back up properly. So Ev and I go inside, and I proceed to explain to the guy there that the do-hicky thingy on the door doesn't work and we have to use sunglasses in the little thingy to get the window to go up and down...and all the guys in there are staring at us. They sent us out into the snowy junk yard to find a matching Town and Country van, and we had no tools. But we are smart girls. We found the vehicle, after trudging down a few rows, and when my BigLots discount card wouldn't pry the button off, Ev found a pen cap that worked. We were right proud of ourselves. I mean, an older gentleman inside that Pick and Pull asked us if were were "parts-pullers", and I replied, "Yes. Yes we are." He seemed impressed.

Anyway. Evelyn installed that replacement button right on our missing spot, and voila! The window still didn't work. It didn't work until I was halfway down the highway to town, to bring that van in for it's check up, when that window rolled all the way down all by itself.

I told the guy at Main St. that I don't much care now whether the window gets fixed to go up and down, I just want it back up, and to stay up while I'm driving.

I just hope it's not too pricey. Older vehicles are money pits.

Next week: Florida. Sunshine. Ahhhhhh. The bad thing is that it's going to be almost ninety, and I am going to melt all over. In a huge puddle. ha. poor me, right?

I'm tired. Paul is still in Boston, and I am still staying up too late reading. Maeve Binchy is one of my favorites, and especially now having been to Ireland, I know some of the places in the books...:) Morning comes early, and tomorrow it's Anne and Lydia...:)

Friday, February 9, 2018

little guy is here!!!

Little baby Grant is here! :)

my sweet baby....

Well, I can barely contain myself this fine morning. Guess who will be here in TWO HOURS? Little Grant!!! My only grandson, grandchild #4, Samuel and Grace's baby Grant. I got to meet him when he was born, but have not seen him since, and every time I see a pic of him, it makes me teary eyed, and I just WANT him. They live in Virginia, and are coming here for the weekend!!!!

So when you're having company for the weekend, you clean the house. I knew all week they were coming. I did. So I did little things like take the couch apart and vacuum under the cushions, washed all the covers. I washed lots of bedding, and Jonathan cleaned up his room so Grace and baby Grant can stay in there. Then last night, I went to Target and got some room-darkening drapes and a new curtain rod, since Jon didn't have any curtains and his mini-blinds had broken. Jonathan knows his way around a drill, so he put the new curtain rod up, no problem.

So here's the thing, my procrastination level is at an all time I sit, knowing I should sweep and mop and put some cookies in the oven, ha. And the bathroom could use a good cleaning, and and and. The longer I wait, the more quickly I'll have to move, and the more efficient I'll be, right?

Here's something else that's happy: Lydia is coming over today. Mali has to work, and Zac has class, so we get to have her over. She's cuter and sweeter with every visit. She is also two years old, which explains why yesterday she totally lost it when her mama had the nerve to start peeling the orange that Lydia was planning to peel. It's almost like two year olds have have a tantrum coming on and are just waiting for one thing to not go their way, and woosh.

Yesterday we went to little Davian's 6th birthday party. Anne is his baby sister, and I watch her three days a week. She saw me and gave me the sweetest hug. It was nice to see my sister (Davian and Anne are her grandchildren), and my nieces. My sister Cheryl, my only sister, has seven daughters, six are now married, and #7 is engaged and will be married in May, up in Ottawa, Canada, so yay road trip! Anyway. It was nice to spend some time with them.

We had to leave to pick up Kathryn, who spent a few days at Emily - Abigail - Mirielle's house in town, because they have fast internet, and Kathryn works from home. We did venture to Target, at 8:30 p.m. Camille got some flip-flops for Florida, and I got some cheese popcorn, kitty litter, and the curtains. I must have had a few more things in that cart, because it came to a hundred dollars. Ouch, ouch. One time I realized that on the bottom of the receipt, there is a "Red Card Savings This Year...", and that is 5%, so that means I spent 95% more than that, ouch. And believe me, I don't just go in there dropping things in the cart willy-nilly.

Well, I have bedding to put in the dryer and floors to sweep and mop. I am so excited. Yay!!! Yay for grandchildren!!!!

Monday, February 5, 2018

the days are too much fun...

Little Miss Lydia Eleanor...isn't she cute? She's my two and a half year old granddaughter, Mali's daughter. She came over for the day yesterday...:)

There is never a dull moment around here, I tell ya. We lost our van keys, so we have to have our van towed to the dealership to have new ones cut. The dealership will order key fobs for us, but will charge $200 each. So I ordered two off Amazon for $19.86. The dealership will charge fifty bucks each to cut them. When they arrive in the mail, I have to get the van towed...until then, there is a fifty dollar cash reward to anyone here who finds those dang keys.

So, in eleven days, I am going to Florida with Evelyn, Suzanne, Sonja, Charlotte Claire, and Camille. We are going to visit Grandma! And what a welcome relief it will be to sit in the sun, and soak in the warmth, and sit and talk with Grandma...our trip will be short, as we have many reasons to come home early, most importantly this: Paul is gone for work, and will come home right after we leave for Florida, then leave again for a week when we were supposed to come he will be home for the week we're we HAVE to come home a few days early so we can see him.

So Grandma so nicely let us choose an amusement park to visit while we are in Florida. This has lead to hours of debate here. Universal Studios was the first choice, but, concerned with long lines, we are instead going to Magic Kingdom. We went to Magic Kingdom a few years ago, and it was truly magical. Evelyn has never been, and she is going this time, so yay!

We had burgers and fries for dinner, and a cute little personal sized watermelon which was so yummy, it tasted like summer.

Today, I went bye-bye THREE times. The first time I left a bit after eight and picked Kathryn up from Benjamin and Ashley's apartment...she stayed there to watch their Border Collie while they visited Florida. They got home during the night last night, Kathryn picked them up at the airport so of course I was awake to make sure she got there okay, there was snow...blah. But it was fine, she was fine, and they are probably all tired today.

Anyway, I picked her up, and we went into the store really quickly since we were out, we got apples and oranges and milk. We filled the truck with gas, then headed home.

Later, I brought Miss Camille to the library. She takes forever and a day to pick out a book, I was on page 54 of one of my new books by the time she made her first selection.

Home...ah home...for five minutes. Evelyn and I went to the small city to pick up a cross-stitch Grandma had done and had framed for baby Grant. Then we went to Walmart for a new toaster. Our old one died, got dropped onto the deck while getting the crumbs cleaned out. Springs were falling out.

Home, time to make the dinner.

We are getting more snow this week, and it's cold out. It's February, so what do I expect? It's just that you have to get out when you can...

We just watched Jeopardy!, and the girls are cleaning up the kitchen, since I made the dinner, and they aren't going anywhere tonight.

Ah well, there are a lot of daughters here in the living room, and I don't want to miss anything, ha.

Friday, February 2, 2018

no school!!! snow day!!!!

I woke up at 5 this morning, glad I still had time to go back to sleep. But then I started thinking about things...appointments I should make, projects I want to start, school reports, things I want to organize, and life itself. No matter how much I told myself just to go back to sleep, ugh. I was just drifting off when Evelyn texted me that school was delayed by two hours. Oh drats, fully awake again, should at least get up and go to the bathroom. Then I decided that I was really awake, so I should just stay up, let the dogs out, start the coffee, and do some morning work. was cancelled altogether!

As you may have noticed, I have a mild obsession with weather. I love going out in the snowy mornings, and shoveling the driveway. The snow was extra heavy and dense today, so I didn't get the whole thing done, and it's still coming down, we are forecast to get another 7 - 8 inches today. It's only 11 degrees (-11.6c), and windy. So the roads are bad, it Mirielle three times longer to get to work this morning. Anyway, I like going out and experiencing it.

Today, the three high school girls are home, yay! Evelyn is already making it fun for the little girls, she is making crepes with raspberries. But first, they have to clean up the house a little, as Evelyn says, "If we're going to be stuck in the house all day, it may as well be clean." The apple doesn't rot far from the tree, I see myself in her so much.

Last evening, Sonja made cupcakes with Camille. Vanilla cupcakes with vanilla buttercream frosting, and sprinkles, which I am trying to avoid. I WILL avoid them. I thought the majority of them would go off to school with the three girls, to be shared with their friends, but ha. Now they sit there prettily, frosting dripping down the sides, tempting me. But NO. Just no.

Because...I have been doing well at avoiding sugar, and carbs, except for Monday night when we went out to dinner...I had the burger and fries, and ate the.whole.thing., bun and all. But since then, I have been really good, and I feel better when I don't eat the junk. Yesterday, I had two eggs and bacon. Then some almond bread with butter for lunch. Then hot sausage with peppers and onions, and a nice big salad for dinner. That's it. No chocolate, no popcorn, no tastes or bites. When I stay the course and eat like this, my cravings fade and I feel satisfied. But add a cookie or two, and the Sugar Monster in me takes over and just roars to be fed.

Crepes with raspberries won't be eaten by me:)

Just so you know, Charlotte Claire is sweeping the floor while riding the hoverboard.

Ah well, time to get moving. It's a fun place today, home. There is a Yay, We Have A Day Off spirit that's contagiously fun!!!

Thursday, February 1, 2018

snow snow snow snow!

See that area north of Auburn, south of Oswego? That's where we live, right in the path of the snow machine aka Lake Ontario. Lake Erie is mostly frozen now, so western New York doesn't get as much snow now, but Ontario rarely freezes over. The cold Arctic air moves down, over the lake, and dumps it. The snow moves down in bands, sometimes one town will get pounded and across the way, nothing. You can drive to Syracuse, and it'll be sunny there, or maybe a snow band hovers over Auburn and it's fine at home. But mostly, we get snow. Not as much as Oswego, where Margaret and Adrian live, but we still get snow.

It's pretty, the snow. It paints the world white and sparkly, and covers a multitude of sins, even the trashiest places look heavenly on a winter's evening with the lights glowing in the windows. I love how the snow muffles sound, there's nothing like that special quietness of outside on a snowy day.

But...when we have places to go, and things to do, it's treacherous. I do not like driving in it. I don't like when the wind blows the extra snow into the road. I don't like when it's snowing so hard you can't see where you're going. And I don't like walking on icy surfaces.

I talked to my son Aaron yesterday. He and Riley are moving from California to Oregon, so that Riley can start med school. Aaron is working at Stanford now, as an R.N., but will be taking a new job, in Oregon, and will be going back to school to be a nurse anesthetist. So no more trips to Cali for me, I will have to visit them in Oregon now, ha.

Lydia is coming over this afternoon, Mali has an appointment. Lydia is something else. She's two and a half now, and she knows everything. She can count and knows her letters and colors and she is just so animated and hilarious. She is so much like her mama it's like going back in time.

Our trip to Florida is coming up soon. I'm looking forward to feeling the sun warm my skin, and to sitting up late talking to Grandma. And sand between the toes at the beach stop on the way there, and yes, the sunshine...the long drive, I could do without, but Evelyn is sharing the driving, and she's excellent.