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

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

to be used for good things...

A long time ago, I lived in a mobile home. It was really nice because we bought it brand new, it was a step up from the first one we lived in. It was bigger and, was new and shiny! The cupboards were made of plywood, and the sinks were plastic, but it fit our needs, and we were totally blessed to get an opening in a really nice small park in Paul's hometown. It was a spacious yard with plenty of trees, and we really liked the place. We had five kids in that trailer. When Paul changed jobs, we started thinking about buying a house.

The houses in our price range were rampant fixer-uppers, and with five small children and not a big budget, we were hesitant. I had a feeling we would buy a dump and it would stay a dump, ha. So my brother offered to build us a house. He had built two, and and was not a builder by trade, but an electrician. But we decided to go for it.

We bought our land, which was a corn field.

We had the foundation built, the basement bricked, the septic system installed.

Then the house was framed, when baby#5, Joseph, was just a month old.

We moved in when Joseph was 11 months old, and by then we were expecting #6, Aaron.

I remember when we first moved in, the thankfulness that filled me because we lived in a huge new house. It's a simple house, built with the cheaper options on doors and fixtures, but it is well built and sturdy, functional and spacious. It's really a big rectangle, and the kids on the bus used to say it was a hotel. We never got around to putting shutters on the windows, which is okay now, because I don't like them anymore ha. But anyway, I remember sweeping the floor one day after we first moved in, and telling God, "Thank you SO much for blessing us with this house. I promise to use it in a good way. For goodness and fellowship."

I felt like we were so blessed to have this place, that it was only logical to pass the blessings on. So, through the years we have had an open home, as far as we've been able. If someone wants to come over, if Jon wants friends here, if the girls want a gathering, if Paul wants company, I try to just say YES. It honestly isn't always easy. Things are always crystal clear in theory, but when it's time to have company, and the house is a mess, dang, I don't feel like it. Then there's the I Just Want To Hibernate thing, my longing for just peace and quiet and some ME time. Everyone has to find their own way through that particular thing, but for me, seeking that doesn't bring peace, but sometimes when I land in it, I enjoy it immensely.

I have to die a million deaths when the door is simply open for company. Because things around here never seem to be as neat, as clean, as organized as I would like. But it hasn't killed me, and people seem to still like to come over.

One time we had a young man over for dinner, and he held up his fork and said, "I get the bent fork!" I was a little embarrassed, the tines on that fork looked like someone had used it to pry something out of something, going every which way. But that young man married my niece, and I now babysit for his little Anne, and his little Davian came over yesterday for a fun-filled visit.

(Suzanne, our 17 year old, is EXCELLENT with little kids. She traced Anya and Davian in the driveway so they could color themselves...)

This is my daughter Margaret. She is holding Ben and Ashley's little Elise, and her own baby Wulf is sleeping in the little seat.

Our pool isn't perfectly clean yet, but it is refreshing, and a work in progress, like me.

My phone is broken. It has been acting up for some time now, but now it won't turn on at all. I had to borrow Jon's watch last night so I could take it in my room so I could check the time in the morning, to make sure I got up with the school girls. I feel rather lost without the phone, they become so vital. Emily is going to Verizon today to check on our plan and see if we can disolve it, because of a million reasons, so maybe I will go with her and see what's up with this phone, get a different one, or whatever. One question: how can all these people afford these iPhones and Samsungs? They are so expensive.

Exciting things are happening though, Evelyn is graduating from high school and we are planning a party for her, and Emily, who graduated from college. Em and I might go for a little trip to the west coast to visit some friends out there, too. Paul is leaving for Singapore on Friday. Our huge cabin vacation is coming up in June.

This is the longest stretch of peace and quiet I've had in a long time. The dogs are snoring, and the birds are singing. I have tended to the pool, wiped down the counters, and put on the coffee, and that's about all. The homeschoolers have to be awakened, and and and...

Saturday, May 26, 2018

little improvements, pictures!!!

The deck is all sealed!
The dark swivel chairs were awful before I spray painted them. $4.99 each at the thrift store, cream colored frames with rose/pink mesh seats, so eighties!

The rocking chair in the corner is from Aldi, and it's so comfy!

This was the yellow Little Tikes table. We've had it for years, it was stained and even after bleaching it, it looked awful. So I used the rest of the can of spray paint from painting the hinges on the kitchen cabinets, I figured it couldn't look worse. And I like it! It's between two Adirondack chairs on the deck.

The flower box...lots of wildflower seeds are sprouting already.

Anyway. Today was a beautiful day. Warm and humid and full of good things. :)

Thursday, May 24, 2018

I'll be happy when...

I lose fifty pounds.
My house is clean.
My husband buys me a diamond ring.
The dogs stop pooping in the yard.
The kids stop putting wet towels in the clothes hamper, there IS a towel hamper.
Whoever uses the last of the water in the Britta refills it.
People stop slopping coffee down the fronts of the newly painted cabinets.
Gas prices go down.
My purse is organized. I found SIX hairclips and five pairs of sunglasses in there the other day.
The pool is clean.
We get a new screen/storm door...make that two, one for the deck door, one for the front door.
We get new bathroom faucets, they are old and corroded.
We get a new roof.
We finish replacing the falling apart windows.
We do something about the broken tiles in the kitchen...a whole new floor would make me happy.
The ice maker in the freezer gets fixed.
The window on the van gets fixed. (Paul ordered the part but it's the wrong one)
The window in the kitchen, oh don't get me's the wrong window, Paul made it fit, and the sheetrock around it..ugh.
My teenagers treat me with respect each and every day.
My family totally realizes how much I actually do to make this place function.
My knees stop hurting. One of them is being a total jerk, acting up and aching and giving out.

I could add new Birkenstocks and lower or no medical insurance deductible, but that would be greedy.

It's the biggest trip up, isn't it? The old, "I'll Be Happy When...".

Because it just ain't true. Look at millionaires and billionaires. Are they actually any happier? I remember when Paul and I were first married, saddled with huge student loan payments. I didn't work after Emily was born, and we were pretty broke for a few years. We lived in a mobile home, had our car payment, and spent $30 a week on groceries. I had, and I am serious, about three pairs of underwear. We got a used washing machine, and had no dryer for years. But we were happy. We didn't have much, we never went out to eat, we were happy.

Money CAN buy happiness, of course it can, a good Labrador Retriever pup costs upwards of $600, right? And vet bills. :)

But there is this lie, this lust, that is never satisfied, that always wants the next thing on the list.

Last year when my kids pitched in and paid for our new deck, which Adrian and Sam and some of the other kids built, I told them that they never ever have to get me anything again, they are set for life as far as birthdays, Christmas, Mother's was the best gift. It hasn't worn off yet, either.

But I was like that when we first moved into this house....I remember pinching myself to prove that it was real. I was overflowing with happiness. Years passed, stained carpets and rickety windows and broken closet doors happened, and where did my thankfulness go?

Anyway. Things don't have to be perfect in order to be happy. We are gifted with a drive to make things nice, and that's a good thing, but to be content with what we have is golden.

It IS nice to improve things though...we spent yesterday afternoon coating the deck with waterproofing coating, and talk about tedious work! Those little railing spindles, oh dear! We still have to do the backs of one section, which Jon couldn't reach on the ladder. And this morning we are going to give the decking part a second coat, and the stairs. Oh, yesterday I was working on the stairs. I had started at the top and one of my daughters was doing the trim/railing below me, and I don't know what she was thinking, but she painted the bottom steps. There I was, in the middle of the stairs, painted in. If I were small and nimble, no problem, but I had to step on those stairs to get down, no leaps for me. I touched them up a bit, and of course some bad puppies made prints on them anyway, but oh dear, what was she thinking?

It was quite a project. Emily, Kathryn, Evelyn, Suzanne, Sonja, Jonathan, Char, Cam, and cousin Danielle all pitched in. Ashley was here with Elise and Anya, Lydia was here, little Anne was here, Margaret was here with baby Wulf. We spent the entire day outside, what gorgeous weather. Our sidewalks and driveway are covered in chalk...

It DOES feel nice to accomplish getting the deck protected. Trying to find a string of nice days, and fit it into our schedule, and actually getting it done, wow. I'll take some pics of it later.

Adrian built a flower box/raised bed planter thing for Evelyn the other day, in no time flat, using the old deck lumber. It looks SO NICE. And the front porch is finished, too. I won't lie, I do love the little upgrades, improvements. But I like to revel in them, enjoy them, and not just want more!

Life should be reveled in, and enjoyed.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

little ones straight from heaven...

This fine sunny morning, my two and a half year old granddaughter Lydia is here for a visit, while her tired mama is trying to take a nap back at their apartment. Mali has to work a 12 hour overnight shift tonight at the hospital, and a girl can't just stay up all day then work all night, can she? I told her to take care of herself, I'll help with Lydia as much as I can.

Anne is here today too, and Ashley is coming over with Anya, my four and a half year old granddaughter. And, Margaret might be coming over with baby Wulf.

We filled the water tables, and put a few inches of water in the little pool. The girls are in here now playing dollhouse after eating French toast.

We'll be going back outside soon...:)

What a happy good day!

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

rain, rain, go away....

but too bad, I walked anyway.

and this doesn't seem like much, it's a start, a good start to the day.

So yesterday, my morning started out differently. I drove the three high school girls to school because Evelyn was doing a speech/presentation on how to make a pour-over coffee, and iced coffee, and had lots of equipment to bring. They had extra time, and were very thankful they didn't have to take the bus, so it was worth postponing the morning walk. (I went later!). I decided since I had such an early start and was dressed in bye bye clothes, I would go to the grocery store while I was out, all by myself, after dropping them off at school.

My first stop was Aldi, but dang it, I was out TOO early, it didn't open for an hour. So I went to the big grocery store across the street, and had the store just about all to myself, mostly me, and the workers. I leisurely ripped out coupons for things on sale, and got some shampoo and girly supplies and cleaning products, without having any kids sighing and rolling their eyes at how mom takes SO LONG.

I truly enjoyed myself.

Then, Aldi! That parking lot filled up fast. I had wanted to get there ASAP, because they just had a new ad come out, and they had swings for $7.99, with the ropes and hooks and everything! I got two of those round disk swings, one for the tree in the front yard (in the same tree as our big webbed swing), and one for the swingset in the back yard, which has been looking like a kid with missing teeth for a few years now. I also got two regular swings for $7.99 each, and the girls put them up as soon as I got home. Now there are four swings, a glider, a round disk swing, and a baby swing on the swing set.

Aldi had too many good things, I had to just walk past them. Their prices are so good, but it still adds up. And did I really need the big outside clock/thermometer? Or the squishy footrest-seat thing? Or MORE throw pillows for the deck? (I got an outdoor rocking chair there last month for $24, and I LOVE it. It's SO comfy!)

Anyway. It's raining cats and dogs, I walked, and didn't melt.

Getting into good habits means breaking through the excuses. I know myself, it's never going to be free sailing, but it does get easier when you just do it.

So Adrian is a very handy son-in-law. He built the front porch in no time flat, and then he built Evelyn a raised bed garden box. He used all old deck lumber for the garden box, and mostly old lumber for the front porch, but new decking and railing wood. So yesterday after school, Evelyn and I headed out to get potting soil and a few more plants for her box. We put down old wood in the bottom, then landscaping fabric, then filled it up, and planted wildflower seeds, and put in some flower plants.

Our new deck needs to be stained, so yesterday we carried all the chairs and tables down to the yard, ha people are going to be slowing down, thinking there's a yard sale here. I had just put up strings of solar lights, so I had to take those down, they are long and tangly. We plan to wash it up nicely today in the rain, then let it dry for most of tomorrow, which is forecast to be sunny, then stain it in the afternoon when it's in the shade. It's supposed to be sunny and dry on Thursday and Friday too, which will give it a few days to dry properly.

It's hard to find a stretch of days to do these things here in the northeast, with our frequent rainy days. But I'll say this: I don't mind a rainy day. Today is so overcast and gloomy and comfy. I love it. Even walking in the rain wasn't a hardship, the drops pelting on my hood reminded me of camping in the rain. And rain brings out the good smells of the lilacs and fresh grass. There was something dead down near the woods though, and yuckkers, I walked a little faster by that.


Last evening, I found myself home with just Jonathan and Camille. The older girls all went to a girls' fellowship night at Emily-Abigail-Mirielle's house, where they had a fire and celebrated Charlotte Claire's birthday. Camille isn't in the youth group yet:) Paul works in the evenings now, so anyway...I offered them to do something fun. We threw some ideas around, which is honestly the most fun part, then decided to just go to town, four miles down the road, and get some take-out Chinese, and rent a Redbox movie. We got sesame chicken, and the movie, "Wonder".

Kathryn is making a nice breakfast for the homeschooled kids, and we have work to do...:)

Saturday, May 19, 2018

terrible day!!!

It is POURING out. I have yet to venture out for my morning walk, despite telling myself how I am certain not to melt. Maybe in a little while...

It's not really a terrible day, although when people work Monday through Friday, when the sun is shining and the birds are singing, then on Saturday, the rain and gloom set in, ouch. And today is a big day, Mali is moving into an apartment with little Lydia. It's sad because they lived in a house with daddy, but things were complicated, and as it' guessed it...not my story to tell,so we will leave it at that. But Paul and at least ten of our kids are pitching in and helping her move. It's been a long time coming, and these things are never easy, though in the long run, are for the best. I love Mali and Lydia with all of my heart, and am praying for them, that they can adjust and find peace and happiness.

I could have, maybe should have, gone to help too. But I decided that I would stay here and make cookies, and some almond bread, and have dinner ready-ish for later, because everyone is landing here for burgers, coneys, and hot dogs on the grill, after the move. So I am here blogging, the dogs are snoring, and one Orange Guy kitty is sleeping behind my computer, sprawled on my legs. My first coffee of the day is empty, if I could get a refill without disturbing the cat, I would be in hog heaven.

I do feel a teeny tiny bit guilty about being so gung-ho about helping, then staying home, but hey, someone has to prepare the feast! And someone has to sneak in a little bit of peace and quiet every once in a while!

The dogs are seriously snoring, both of them, one on each couch.

I have all the ingredients out and measured for the cookies, and the boxes of pasta on the counter for the pasta salad. I was bustling around doing things as the kids and Paul grabbed brekky and coffees and headed out the door, but then when the house was quiet...I decided to have a nice little break, ha.

Yesterday, Charlotte Claire, Camille, and I took back the cans and bottles, and got $16.25. I handed it right to Cam, for our trip fund. Paul and I and the two of them are saving up for a trip to Norway next summer.

Afterward, we went to the ice cream place, Kathryn was there after the school's Grandparents and Special Friends Day, she went for little Linnea, one of my niece's twins. My sister's daughter Claire and her husband, and two little ones, are still in town since my sister's youngest daughter got married. Claire and her hubby live in Australia, so it's a big thing to see them. I visited a bit, but did not have any ice cream, which was sheer torture, but I vowed not to eat it unless I go to the place which has the really good homemade stuff.

But later, after the youth girls went to a dinner and bon-fire, and Jon left to go hang out with his friends, Camille and I went to the pool. We met Abigail there, and Ashley and Anya and baby Elise (Elise loves the pool!). While still in the locker room, I ordered chicken wings and one slice of pepperoni pizza (for Camille), and picked it up on the way home. Paul and I and Camille watched the finale of Master Chef Junior while eating our wings. Is that not the ending of a perfect day? Then the girls and Jonathan came tumbling back into the house from their fun, and it was crazy in here again.

One thing's for sure, you don't automatically lose a pound when you turn down ice cream. It's just not fair. I see these people cutting back, cutting things out, and they slim down magically, and I just stay the same, no matter what. Okay, I know, I do cheat here and there, but it takes DAYS to drop the cheat pounds, then I maintain, until it happens again, and duh, I know, never cheat and it'll work, and duh, I'll be thin in no time. But this is taking YEARS. And now that I type this, I do remember this: oops, yesterday for dinner before the pool, I had, wait for it: five or six squares of that Italian milk chocolate with natural peanut butter on top. With hot coffee, in my comfy chair, after going in the pool here (yuck, I tried to scoop the middle stuff from the bottom, and ended up breaking the leaf scoop, the handle snapped in half, and the green slimy leaves and stuff from the bottom of the pool went all over into the water, which is good in the long run because then the filter works it out, but yuckers), anyway, I was chilly, and this snack was superb, but oh my, celery and peanut butter would have been the smart choice.

Here's what I ate yesterday: eggs and bacon for brekky. One 15 calorie popsicle. One 40 cal. fudge-pop. The chocolate with peanut butter. ONE small chocolate covered peanut butter pretzel, which we had gotten on clearance from Ollies, Christmas snacks, for 28 cents a bag. I told Camille not to give me another one even if I chased her around the deck, and she didn't, that little brat, ha, it was THAT GOOD, but I only had one. And I only verbally chased her around the deck. Then I had the chicken wings after the pool. So I walked, then swam in the evening, but oh no, didn't lose an ounce.

I try to eat only two meals a day, very low carbs, like eggs for breakfast, and meat and veggies for dinner, but I just don't drop pounds like you would think. I wonder if my body thinks I'm starving or something. Or if those little chocolate days hold the pounds. Or the few days a week I eat popcorn. Whatever. It is a good day anyway, although I am convinced it would be better if I was fifty pounds lighter. Every once in a while I remember my old Aunt Boots, she was overweight all her life, then she got cancer. She had a huge picnic at her house, to say goodbye to everyone, which was really really sad...and one thing she said was, "Well, I'm finally thin..."

So it's not the Be All, to be thin. Life is still good. But that being said, I'm NOT giving up.

Friday, May 18, 2018

that perfect day...

Today is a perfect day. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and Evelyn is here at home because she isn't going on the senior trip. I went on my walk, making it the full week, yay me. But all isn't sunshine and roses, I am not in the best shape. I walk my way through it, but the aches and pains are certainly there.

Paul doesn't have to work today, it's his Saturday because he is on Singapore time, readying for his trip there next month, and working with the office there. His schedule has changed to going to work for the afternoon evening, but his mornings are still filled with work calls.

Our pool is getting cleaner, it just needs to warm up and get hot again. We've had a few beautiful days. Yesterday, Charlotte Claire, Camille, and I went to the grocery store for some basics, like bananas and lettuce and chicken and eggs. We went into Kohl's really quickly, and the girls found a few super-clearanced things, with an extra 15% off. Then to Ollies, which I do love. They have things like brand name snacks, Perugina chocolate bars for $1.29. The big yummy one. I had to get a base for the new deck umbrella. Oh, that was a disaster, the new umbrella. I have been wanting one for a few years, but the deck shades over in the afternoon, so it wasn't a necessity, but I wanted one for if anyone wants/needs shade earlier. So, I was at Target, and the really nice one was on sale for 65, and the one I chose was $40. Well, two days after I put it up, I forgot to fold it down in the evening, and the wind picked up, and tipped the table over, and oops, all the new plants we had just gotten from the dollar store, whoopee all over the deck.

I cheaped out and didn't get the base, thought we could just use a pail of sand or something, but hadn't gotten to it yet. I decided to just bite the bullet and go buy a base, Ollie's had one for $6.99. Well, those were all gone, so I had to buy the $17 one. And Paul repaired the bent umbrella for me, he had to cut the bottom off because it was so badly bent. Lesson: remember to fold up your umbrella at night, and perhaps opt for the better one next time.

At Ollie's, I also bought two strings of solar lights for the deck, they looked awesome last night. I tangled them up good trying to put them on, there are 200 lights in each string.

By the time I got home, Paul had left for work, and I felt kind of bad. But today I plan to stay home:)

The kids are finishing up their school year, the three high school girls, and the homeschool kids. Evelyn is graduating! A few of them are planning to work this summer, which is going to be interesting, because I don't particularly want to spend my summer shuttling girls to and from jobs, but they don't exactly have cars. We have the one extra minivan, with no air conditioning, so we will have to work out details.

Anyway. Life is busy but good, not without trials, but trials either bring one closer to God, or make one angry and bitter and dissatisfied with life.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

getting back into it...

To shut down the Reasoning Center, and Just Do It, that's my goal. This morning's excuse, and I kid you not: I don't need to walk, I'm going to the beach, and I'll prob walk a lot there.

I did not heed this bad advice, I went on my walk. Just to be straight here, we're talking a 1.3 mile walk. It's not running half a marathon. There IS an evil hill, and a few other slightly devilish slopes, but it's A WALK. But try convincing my morning mind of that...

What you've got to realize is that isn't "just a walk", as far as mental well-being goes. It's triumphing over laziness, it's getting back a little bit of stamina, it's having more energy for the day, it's making it easier to pass up the sugar.

Anyway. This happened:

Jonathan has been saving up his money, he mows his sisters' lawn, does odd jobs, and this is what he bought, from a friend of ours. I'm happy for Jon, but ugh, as a mama, I don't like these things. Jon was just a wee one when his big brother Benjamin had his terrible accident on his 4-wheeler. (Ben ran into a large tree branch, which ripped into his leg. He was rushed to the hospital, and by the time he got into surgery, the infection from the wood was rushing up the leg, and the surgeon told Paul that Ben might not make it. He did make it, his leg had to be opened up quite a bit to flush out all that stuff, and Ben was in the hospital for a bit, he healed up nicely, and I am thankful for that. but.)

We are going to the beach today. It won't be hot and sultry, but it will be in the seventies and humid. We are going with Ashley and Anya and baby Elise. And hopefully Emily. We are down a vehicle because the check engine light turned on in the red van. Both of our minivans are getting up there in miles, but thankfully we have two of them, so we can still beach while one is in the shop. And hopefully it's nothing too serious. :(

Today is Joseph's birthday! He was born during a heatwave back in 1991. 95 degrees on the day he was born. I remember this because we lived in a mobile home. We had purchased our land on which to build this house, but we were still living in that trailer. (We moved in here when Joe was 11 months old). Our mobile home was hot when it was hot out. And when I got to the hospital at 4 cm dilated, and was offered to stay or go home and come back when I was farther along (which seems crazy with a fifth baby!), I chose to stay, it was much cooler in the hospital. I came in with my sister Cheryl, and some of her kids, and 3 of mine, we had been headed to the mall for the coolness...and I do wonder, who on earth goes to the mall with small children on their due date? We turned around halfway there and all trooped into the hospital because I realized that those pesky little contractions were actually coming five minutes apart...)

I got there at noon and he was born at a quarter to midnight. It was a long day, but such an easy birth, he was born with such minimal effort. He was a long baby, and he didn't like to be swaddled. His feet would just stick right out of those receiving blankets, he stretched right out. He's always been so easygoing.

Anyway. We are supposed to be getting ready for the beach. I like to sit here until the last minute then scurry around like crazy. (Can I just mention how different it is to get ready these days? The kids get their own suits and towels and we don't need to lug the playpen and the pram...)

But we still bring the pails and shovels, because I like building sand castles, ha.

Monday, May 14, 2018

dance like nobody's watchin'..

...and write like nobody's readin'. That's my favorite, to just sit here and write, and not take time to consider whether this would offend this person, or oh wait, does my mother-in-law read this?! (she does:)). My goal in life is to live before God, and as a normal regular person who is filled to the brim with sin, of course I am going to see myself in what I do, in what I write..and that's a good thing! Writing helps me sort things out sometimes, and helps me see what's really important.

I have struggled with what to share/what not to share on this blog. There are personal struggles my kids go through that aren't my stories to tell. So sometimes you might read this and think that I have a good happy life, and that is totally true, because I truly believe that God sends all things for my best, and no matter what happens, there IS a purpose. But what you DON'T see is the situations in my life that I can't share because, like I mentioned, they aren't my stories to tell. My daughter Mali is going through tough times right now, but she is a treasure of a girl, an excellent mama to little Lydia, and I have experienced that God has answered my prayers concerning Mali before, and I KNOW He has His hand on her, but pray for her!


Anyway, I was talking to a mama recently, who has several children, now grown, who had a difficult time being patient when her older kids were little. She insisted she wasn't cut out to be a mother, and she got so sick and tired of being irritated and impatient and downright angry with her kids, she cried out to God for victory, and she worked and worked at being patient when she was tempted...she said that her younger children never saw her angry. She persevered in her prayers, and she got that victory. She said, "If I can do this, anyone can."

Anyway. My life isn't perfect, but I am 100% totally certain that God causes all things to work together for my best.

So I went on my walk again this fine spring morning...being outside these days is simply delightful.

Kathryn is excited, she got accepted to college, and is at this point, hoping to be a physical therapist. Kathryn homeschooled from tenth grad on, she worked very hard and took it seriously. I am thrilled because I know she'll be successful, and that the world is opening up more to homeschoolers.

Kathryn being Auntie, with little cousins - Lydia, and Anya on her back.

We are going to the library today. I walked, then worked on the pool for a bit. The "new" pump motor works fine so far, and the pool is looking good! It is a bit early, but it'll be nice to have a clean pool when the weather gets warm, which sounds like a "duh" statement, doesn't it?

Yesterday I went to Canada, with Emily and Kathryn and Sonja and Camille. We stopped in Watertown for lunch, at Chipotle, yummers. I like that you can get a good meal that's healthy and doesn't totally break the bank, without feeling regretful afterwards. And they're not paying me to say that. We ate outside in the warmth and sunshine, then stopped at Starbucks for iced coffee, and back on the my niece's wedding. My sister's seventh daughter, all grown up and married. My sister with no sons now has seven son-in-laws!

It was after nine o'clock when we headed back home, a pleasant drive talking to Emily. But after a nice hot shower, I got to bed close to 1:30. So when 6:50 rolled around, I was tempted to roll over and go back to sleep, but I had to get up and see my high school girls as they went out the door. Sonja stayed in Ottowa overnight with some of her friends, they are going to the Tulip Festival today. A good reason to skip school if I ever heard one, ha.

So I am very tired today, but hopefully it won't kill me.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

happy mother's day to all the mamas...

Of course when I start seeing the merchandise come out for this Hallmark holiday, I think of my own late mother. And ha, it's hard to think of her as "late", because she was anything but late, back when she still walked this earth. She would be standing there at her front door with her big black "pocketbook", as she called it, slung over her arm, waiting for me when I arrived to pick her up for a shopping trip. I miss her more as the years go by, and I see and experience things that I can no longer share with her. When I see those ads that say, "Give Mom blah blah!", I don't think of myself as the mom in relationship to my kids, I just think of my own mom.

Paul brought me some beautiful flowers, and Aaron sent me a card with a Starbucks gift card:)

Today, we are going on a small road trip up to Canada for a wedding...Emily, Kathryn, Sonja, Char, and Camille. Evelyn can't go because she is sick, Paul has to work (big surprise there). I want to leave early-ish so we can stop and have lunch somewhere, it IS Mother's Day, and I will have five of my girls with me.

The traveling bug is itching me again. I am thinking to go visit my boys out west. I just looked up ticket prices to Oregon...:) I just have to get Emily convinced to go with me...

Margaret and Adrian came over last night with little baby Wulf. He is smiling now! Great big huge smiles, and he is doing that cooing-talking thing, where he tries to tell Grandma all his stories! I love him.

Baby Grant needs to come visit me soon, or I need to take a little trip down to many people to visit, so little time..and money.

Anyway, I need to get moving here. Happy Mother's Day, hug your mom while you still can.

Friday, May 11, 2018

the fifteenth child...

When Miss Charlotte Claire was born, 12 years ago today, here's what things looked like around here:
Emily 21
Abigail 19
Benjamin 17
Mirielle 16
Joseph 14, almost 15
Aaron 13
Mali 12
Samuel 10
Margaret 9
Kathryn 8
Evelyn 6
Suzanne 5
Sonja K. 4
(baby Robert)
Jonathan 2

I had a few miscarriages before I had Miss Char, so I was very thankful to say hello to her sweet newborn self. After the five-girls-in-a-row, then little Jonathan, I had a baby girl again, daughter #10...

(me, Camille, and Char)

Anyway, today is her birthday! I'm not sure what we'll do during the day, but tonight a few of her friends are coming over, and lots of her older siblings will be here. I'm making pizzas, including at least one keto pizza (crust with almond flour and mozzarella cheese), and Ben is bringing some venison steaks. We're also making peanut butter ice cream pie, and mint chocolate chip ice cream pie. (crumbled Oreos mixed with melted butter crusts, the peanut butter one has the cookies with peanut butter filling...)

And I am going to behave myself. I can't use the old, "It's a party!" excuse, because duh, we always have parties.

I might just eat a spoonful of crunchy peanut butter with a few chocolate chips on it.

This fine morning, I almost talked myself out of the morning walk. Here were some of my excuses: I walked SO much yesterday, almost three miles.
I don't want to tire myself out, today is going to be a busy one.
My knee hurts.
I don't have enough time to get everything done, a walk is a half hour.

But I didn't listen to myself, I just went. Five days in a row. And this is what the kitchen looks like in the morning, I have to ignore it and go out the door, because if I straighten one little thing, I'll get so sidetracked, I won't end up going.

The truth is that even though my knee is wonky, the walks help tremendously. I think they clear my mind almost as much as blogging does. I don't listen to music or podcasts, I just think about things and listen to the geese honk or the squirrels scampering. This morning, I was thinking about how much it bothers me when people think I am better than I really am. I have lots of kids, and a good life, by the grace of God. When I think of how I have been in the past, and how impatient I was with the kids when they were little, and how I felt totally at my wit's end so often, I see that God has just plain been good to me, helped me overcome. The other day while talking about going out and about with lots of small children, someone asked how I kept them with me, kept them in line, and I didn't actually remember. But Mali did, she said I would pinch her arm and tell her to behave. Ouch, that hurts my heart, I don't really remember that, but I am sorry. But the truth is, I am not perfect, but I am a work in progress. God isn't finished with me yet:)

So yesterday afternoon, spur of the moment, Sonja K. and I went on an adventure. We went to the big mall in the city, the Carousel Center, which is now named Destiny. I do not care much for malls, the perfume-y smells, the crowds of people, the pricey stores, although I do like the smells of the popcorn/caramel corn place and of course the cinnamon buns. And this mall has Finger Lakes Roasters, and I'm not getting paid to say yummers to freshly roasted coffee. My only complaint is that they fill those air vacuums with coffee, and it isn't steaming hot and fresh. Anyway. Sonja K. ordered some jeans with a birthday gift card, and just between you and me and the whole rest of the world, I didn't appreciate them. So we decided to go exchange them. Evelyn so sweetly volunteered to look after Anne, and sent us on our merry way. I won't bore you with the deets and tails, but she ended up keeping the jeans. She had no problem with them. Anyway, we also went to T.J.Maxx, where I got a little outfit for baby Grant, Sam and Grace's baby...

This is me eating healthy:), and I did not eat nary a crumb of that cookie in front of me. I did take a few nibbles of the bread, but then wrapped it up and brought it home, along with half this salad, because Evelyn likes yummy things to bring for lunch, and I'm nice, ha.

Now moving to the random section of the blog, here are the two kitties, Kettler and Orange Guy, mother and son, the only kitten we have of her several litters. Both are now "fixed", and they're good friends. She was washing him in this pic.

Kettler likes the new water table. We let her go outside, she doesn't wander far, mostly just the yard and the deck. Orange Guy wants out, but we are trying to keep him in. Don't tell him, but the minute he starts climbing screens, we'll let him out.

Grant, Sam and Grace's baby. Isn't he cute?

Little Wulf...I stole this pic from snapchat, isn't he cute too? I have two grandsons...and three granddaughters, and I love love love them.

Okay, enough sitting here...

Thursday, May 10, 2018

i'm dating myself here...

But do you remember Farah Fawcett? I was an impressionable teen when she was at the height of her fame, and that's how I wanted MY hair. She was simply the standard of beauty at that time...way back in the seventies. I remember being in Kmart and seeing a poster of her, and feeling so frumpy. (It is NOT just today's girls with the internet influence, who struggle with insecurity!). Anyway. Fast-forward, and here I am, never did get that hair right, am even frumpier, and she's passed away...and the worst part of it, is that she has a son, 33 now, who is in jail again, he has a drug addiction. He has been in and out for years, was released for a few hours back when she died, for the funeral.

All that glitters is not gold, and I never knew she had a son who struggled like this, and now I feel bad for her, very sorry for her, the very woman I had envied so much when I was 14.

Anyway. Here I am, ready for little Anne to come over.

Yesterday, Mali visited with Lydia, and Mali set up the new water table. Ashley came over with baby Elise and Anya, then when Anne was picked up, her big brother Davian got out of the car and asked if he could stay a while. Having the little kids here makes the house seem extra home-y.

After everyone left, Suzanne and Sonja and I decided to go for ice cream. They had already had some after school, but I have been wanting some, and don't want to just have any old ice cream, I wanted the real stuff. So we went to a local cafe, they get their ice cream from Basset's in Pennsylvania, and no, I am not getting paid to say: delish. I had one scoop of birthday cake bash, and one scoop of Lake Effect, which is vanilla with coconut and almonds, with surprise chunks of chocolate...on a homemade waffle cone. Later when I was expressing my regrets at eating that ice cream cone, Sonja K. said, "Well, you didn't have to have two scoops." ha. Yes, dear, I did. It was soooooo good. From now on, I am not having any dessert or sweet at all unless it's a really really good one. Can I just say how good it was?

We then went to Walmart for bananas and pepperoni and cheese and bagels and cashews and a new pool skimmer, and girl stuff...can I also say without embarrassing any daughters, that it could seriously break the bank, how many monthly supplies we have to buy? Five of them at home getting it, and they of course get on the same schedule, which makes it very interesting around here.

Can I please complain for a minute about my husband working from home? He is on a new schedule, because he is doing a project in Singapore. He works from 2 in the afternoon until ten at night. But, he takes calls in the morning, and is sitting there at the counter in the kitchen talking and straightening things out, whatever it is he does for work, ha. And we sort of have to be quiet, and I feel like I have to keep busier, because shh, I sit around too much.

Then he's gone for dinner, and comes back home in time to go to bed. I don't love it. But I am thankful he has a job, and a good job, and that I don't have to work. I am really really thankful for that.

Although I wish I was paid for writing this blog. That would suit me just fine.

Tomorrow is Charlotte Claire's birthday. She is turning 12 years old. We should probably plan a birthday bash, eh? We are already thinking of going to the pool. This is a soccer tournament weekend for the kids 15 and younger, so our weekend is full. Then on Sunday, some of us are driving up to Ottowa, Canada, for a sister's youngest daughter of the seven, is getting married...last one, seven girls will all be married.

It's rainy here today...I did fit my walk in before it started, four days in a row!

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

sweet sweet spring...

Okay, we all know what spring is, but have you LISTENED to it? The birds, even the down the road neighbor's lawn mower humming...the tractors going up and down the road...
And the smells! That sweet aroma of fresh grass.
And those little newborn baby leaves on the trees, in the distinctive just-bloomed green.
The pear tree decked out in blossoms.
And the warmth, oh how nice to mill around in bare feet.

I walked this morning, two days in a row now. Why, you might ask, don't I just do it every day? Well, see, my knee was really acting up, so I rested it, then I had to psyche myself out all over again to get started back in on it. My knees are just not so good, lots of arthritis, and the doc said many years ago he would like to see me "get ten more years out of them before replacing them".

And I don't want to do that.

But it's scary, the prospect of not being able to walk. Sometimes getting out of the car, or up from a chair, the one knee doesn't want to support me. That's why it's vital to get some of this weight off, too.

Anyway, today I walked.

We have the "new" pool pump which I bought second-hand, so hopefully our pool will be opened up soon. We spend lots of time outside yesterday, even took a dip in the hot tub, without cranking up the temperature (80 degrees).

Anne is here now, and we spent a bit of time outside. She likes to wander around, go down the slide, and today she tried out the glider on the swingset. She visited the three girls in the tent, Charlotte Claire, Camille, and cousin Danielle. They have been bugging and bothering to sleep out, and last night they had carefully checked the weather forecast, and told me that before they even asked, so I knew what they were angling for...and I surprised them and said yes.

Today, Kathryn is taking them on an adventure, water-falling. I am going on my own adventure with Anne and Jonathan, to pick up the Orange Guy from the vet, where he was neutered. what fun, eh?

Anyway, we didn't spend too much time outside because little miss doesn't want to hold my hand, and I was trying to veer her away from walking where there were lots of broken sticks. She had removed her shoes on the slide, and was barefooting it. I didn't want to fight her, just protect her wee little feet, but she was having none of it, so I scooped her up and here we are in the house again.

She has had a diaper change, and half a banana, and is playing with the dollhouse toys. She is standing in the dollhouse pool right now, ha. She has a super long attention span with toys, actually. She's having the grandma doll jump on the bed.

Last evening, I went on a small outing with just Evelyn and Camille. I had the sense that Ev needed to spend some time with me, it's been a while, so off we went. We got a housewarming gift for Benjamin and Ashley, as they are closing on their house next month. We got birthday presents for Miss Char, who is turning 12 on Friday. And, we got 9 potted flowers from the dollar store, along with some nice flower pots and wildflower seeds.

Now, Wendy's is not paying me to say this, although they really should, but they have yummy salads. I ordered the apple/pecan salad with grilled chicken, hold the crumbled blue cheese, and extra pecans, please. It comes with a raspberry vinagrette, which I skipped. It has craisins in it too, so yum. The pecans have this coating on them that's spicy, so it's a good taste, and I really really enjoyed it. The girls wanted just a Frosty, and yay us, a special on them, 50 cents! So we ordered eight, of course, so the other kids at home could have one.

And I didn't have one. Nary a taste.

Oh great, Cam just knocked down a glass jar in her room as she was bringing her bedding back in from the tent. A glass jar filled with sand and shells. It did break.

They are at least taking care of the tent, without being told:)

I tell ya, after losing a day a few weeks ago, I am trying to remind myself what day it is every morning so it doesn't happen again. I felt so OLD. I saw my kids looking at each other, the raised brow thing, yeah, mom's getting senile. I am NOT. But it felt so strange, because it wasn't just a few hours or a few minutes of having that extra day in there, it was several days. I think I just thought it was Wednesday twice, then when it was actually Friday, I totally thought it was Thursday. It was so discombobulating.

They are cleaning up the broken glass, vacuuming now. How did they get so responsible?

We have some school to do before they go adventuring, so bye for now...

Monday, May 7, 2018

ahhh, what a weekend!!!

Congratulations to Emily Anne! She did it! She has her Master's degree in Health Science, and is now a Nurse Practitioner! Her graduation ceremony was very boring, but these two little girls, her littlest sisters and biggest fans, didn't complain too much.

After the graduation, we skipped the after-reception, and headed toward home in the pouring rain and wind. We stopped for gas and hot coffees for Em, Paul, and I, and some iced teas for the little girls. They were as happy as can be. Sometimes it doesn't take much.

See, we had somewhere we wanted to be...the sisters' conference at our home church in Victory, NY! It was a Northeastern conference, so we got to meet friends from the West coast too. The weather cleared up and Saturday was a flawless day, warm and pleasant. As per usual, there wasn't enough time to talk to everyone, and it went by way too quickly. But I came home encouraged and happy, ready to face life's challenges with a new purpose. God is good, and no matter what comes along, He WILL give me victory.

Yesterday afternoon I went to a wedding shower for my sister's youngest daughter, Audrey. She is my sister's last and final daughter to get married. The wedding is next week in Canada, and yes, I am going!

This fine morning, I am heading over to a friend's house for brunch with some of our friends from Oregon who are flying out this afternoon. Then I have to go pick up a pool pump I am buying from Marketplace, (like craigslist). Then, I have to drive up north to drop Orange Guy off at the vet to be neutered.

Paul is on a really strange work schedule, as he is doing a project in Singapore. He has to work in the evenings, so he was here this morning, and it's weird to have him sitting at the counter on his computer while I putter around cleaning up.

Anyway, I had a good weekend. I stayed in the camper with lots of my daughters. Then last evening, Benjamin arranged to have everyone come here for a cook out. He brought the burgers and hot dogs, and Evelyn made a pasta salad. Jon had some friends here, and all of my older kids were here, except of course for the few who don't live in the area. A few friends were supposed to come over too, so Paul cleaned up the house while I was at the wedding shower..then it didn't work for them to come. I was disappointed, but partly relieved, but only relieved because I have a big hang-up about the house...I can't explain it, but I feel like even if it's clean to us, it's not up to par, and I hate that feeling. So I therefore don't want to let it hold me back from having friends over.

I also have a huge hatred of meeting new's more like fear, and anxiety, and I stumble over words and forget names and feel awkward, and want to go sit in the corner. But in my heart, I want to meet people, and get to know them, so the only way to get free from those bonds of fear is to take up a battle, and call it what it is: sin. Fear of man. Caring what people think of me. Whatever name it goes by, it can't rule me. I'm tired of feeling so self-conscious, so I have been learning to say a good loud NO to it inside. Then after I talk to people, I think of things I said, and feel like a jerk, ha. I should have stayed in the corner, I think. But that's just because it's still so in me to care what people think, and I don't want to be bound by that!

It's funny, spring is here, and I have all these plans for making things nice, fixing things up. Paul worked on the lawn mowers yesterday, and he wants to start the garden soon. I want to get the pool opened, hopefully the "new" pump will work. The deck needs staining/finishing, and we need new screen doors. Our new front porch is half done, Adrian is out in Oregon with Margaret and baby Wulf, visiting Aaron and Riley. :) I know he'll finish it. He's such a good carpenter, he makes it look effortless, and he is so calm, just talking along, and measuring and cutting, and it comes to together like magic.

He's going to make Evelyn a raised garden box for the yard, because last year lots of dogs, who shall remain un-named, ran through our little garden and destroyed all the flowers. They rolled in it, and dug in it, and dang them, wrecked it.

So it's nice to make the house home-y, but also to remember that this earth is such a temporary dwelling. I have this one window in the kitchen, the one Paul put in years ago...he used a new building window instead of a replacement window, so it didn't fit right. He never finished the edges, and the sheetrock along the bottom is ragged, so I have a table in front of it that hides the bottom, but the sides are visible. Every once in a while, I look at that and it starts to bother me, but then I remember this: it hasn't killed me yet, so it probably won't kill me now. Other things just keep being priority, like last week when a bold rusted through the toilet in my bathroom and water flooded the floor. He fixed that up, likety-split, when he got back from India. I put a bucket under it and shut off the toilet, in the mean time.

He is super busy with his job. I appreciate that he has a good job, and it's nice that he also likes it. And I am super thankful that I don't work. I have enough time to do things around here, and spend lots of time with the kids, older and younger. I am extremely thankful for that. So it seems petty to complain about him being so busy. At least I can take up the slack. This coming weekend is a soccer weekend for lots of my kids, and Paul is looking at lots of work...he will be there part of the time, but...

Then in a few weeks, he'll go to Singapore for two weeks. Then the next month, again. blah.

But today is all we have, any of us. And today, I will listen to what God has to say to me, and I'll be faithful to that.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

feeling fat...

My dear daughter Kathryn and I at the park the other day...

And this is before cropping...cropping a pic sure cuts off the fattier parts, eh? Ah well, a work in progress, that's me. I hate to go on and on about it, and around here I try to keep my battles to myself, as I don't want to damage my kids, especially my girls, by obsessing about weight. But the honest truth for me is that I have to be strict with myself, because when I don't consume sugar, I am nicer and calmer and make better choices. When I cut back on carbs and eat mostly fats and proteins, I lose the puffiness and feel so good.

And here's the truth of the matter:
Several years ago, I lost 70 pounds. I had to. I was so sick and tired of it, and then my blood pressure started to climb. I didn't stay at that weight, a few pounds found me again, and I maintained there for a few years. This last winter, a few more came trickling back on, and now I am at exactly 50 pounds less than my BEFORE weight. That's not terrible, but oh no, I am NOT going back to the huffing and puffing weight. BRAKES are ON. I am serious again. No spoonfuls of cookie dough for me.

The problem here is that it's ice cream season. I heart ice cream. It calls my name. There's a local place that sells this homemade stuff, and it's almost to die for. Then another place that makes it's own, The Cayuga Creamery. Just the name makes me drool.

Emily is finished with school, and although that's a huge topic, I am only mentioning it because she suggested a hike today with the little girls, and I can go with Anne too if I want. First thought I had: it's near the creamery. If I hike, I can have ice cream. First thought. And second thought, and third...

Anyway. My battles don't go away just because I have good resolutions.

Yesterday afternoon we gave away the last kitten. The very very last kitten. Mama kitty is spayed, and our Orange Guy is getting neutered next week. Finally, right? The guy we gave the kitty to seems like a great guy. I got numerous responses from the ad on Craigslist, including some scathing ones, and yeah, I did reply to one. I can't help it. I simply said, "You're right! I lied about the mama cat being spayed! I am really stupid, and am going to give the kitten to someone who will feed it to their snake! I am irresponsible! How on earth do you know me so well?!"

The guy I chose: middle aged guy, a little plump, married, deferred to his wife before committing, showed up on time, had a kitty cage to bring kitty home in, and explained to kitty that this was to keep her safe. He had a cat for 14 years and said it was a long time before he and his wife could even think about getting another, they were so crushed with the loss. He also has a ten year old, gentle dog at home who is lonely, and used to sleep with the cat. So I feel 100% certain that he is either a good liar and missed his calling in Hollywood, or that I found an excellent home for the kitty, despite being stupid and irresponsible, ha.

So tomorrow, Paul and I are going to Emily's graduation ceremony. I am so proud of her, I could cry. She is a smart girl. She graduated third in her class in high school, took a year to travel and visit friends, then went to nursing school. She then worked for a while at a hospital in the city, then spent a year in Norway. She came home, back to work, and school...classes and classes, four year degree, then on and on, until now...she is finished. She already has a job at an office north of here, in the city where Margaret and Adrian live. She will be doing primary care. She will be working M-F, no weekends, and ahh, it'll be so nice for her.

My weekend plans are totally exciting, a sisters' conference at church! It's a North American conference, so I get to see friends from far and near. My friend Tereza, I haven't met in person yet, will be there! Emily, Abigail, Mirielle, Evelyn, Suzanne, Sonja, and Charlotte Claire, and Ashley, will be there. (Kathryn is staying here with Camille, we thought Paul would be in India again, but he won't be.)

Anyway. Some of us are staying in the camper, and I have yet to go vacuum it and clean it, but why do today what you can postpone until tomorrow? is Sonja's birthday! She is sweet sixteen! I might surprise her and take her to get her driving permit...:) Sonja's birth was special, and I'm sure any 16 year old would be glad that her mother is writing about her birth on the blog. My sister came to visit me when I was in labor for Sonja, and back then, not many people had other people at their births, as is more the trend now. But anyway, my sister had six girls with her, a few of hers, a few of my older ones, and one of our brother's girls. I was in a huge birthing room, and happened to be only like an hour away from the big event, and I was so glad to see them all, I said they should please just stay. So they did! They were all lined up on the side, so they didn't see everything, but oh dear, it was one of those dream births...I knew baby was coming, and with every contraction, she was moving down, but I didn't say anything, until bam, it was time to push, and she was born with very minimal effort. I wouldn't say it was an actual piece of cake, but it was a really good birth.

Sonja K. is one of my favorite kids. She has a sunny outlook, and keeps us laughing.

And I'll leave you with a good pic...Samuel and his little guy, sweet grandson Grant...

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

finally, nice weather!!! a matter of perspective...

I started this post this morning, then Anne here I am 12 hours later.

Vacuuming and mopping and wiping down counters, then sitting in my chair for a breather...then Miss Anne arrived. Miss Camille needed a trip to the library, and yes, I mean NEEDed. She cannot sleep at night without a book, even if she goes to bed really late. I know this because I slept with her when we were in Florida, and even after a long day at the Magic Kingdom, she had to read before going to sleep.

Anyway, Cam, Anne, and I went to the library. Then "real quick" into the grocery store, I wanted some chicken to put on the grill...the warm weather arriving made me think of barbecued chicken.

Then to the pharmacy, the Walgreens, to get some gauze bandages for Jonathan because he has a bad rash/reaction to poison ivy, and Emily says he needs to have it covered up. Emily knows what she's talking about, she graduates on Friday, and is a Nurse Practitioner...she still needs to take her boards, but she is DONE with school!

Home...ah, home. Anne took a nap, I mopped the floors again because we had a few extra doggies visiting, Margaret and Adrian's. Then we spent some time outside. Ashley came over with baby Elise and little Anya. We enjoyed the sunshine, and when Anne woke up, she came out to play too.

The chicken was par-boiled, then I grilled it before heading to the Walmart to meet the guy from craigslist who was taking the last kitten. Don't worry, I screened the ad responders well, and this guy was really nice. He and his wife had a cat for 14 years, and after it died, they couldn't bring themselves to get another, they loved their cat so much...then they saw the pic of our kitten, and because she was raised with the Labradors, they decided it was the kitten for them...they have a 10 year old dog, all gentle and kind, who used to snuggle with their old cat...I think I found a good home for kitty.

So 24 pieces of chicken doesn't go too far around here, but I set a piece aside before I left. Suzanne drove to Walmart, she needs to take her driving test soon.

There are kids here wanting to talk to me, and it's too distracting to write anything goodnight, and maybe tomorrow I'll get something worthwhile written...

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

the fourteenth child....

Jonathan Robert turned fourteen yesterday. I was going to write that my 14th child turned 14, but in reality, Jon is #15, because little tiny baby Robert was #14.
Anyway, Jonathan and I found ourselves quite alone yesterday, as the little girls were with Kathryn. So we went out and about on his birthday, first to the diner. I started with a cup of coffee, and Jon said to the waitress, very grown-up-like, "I'll have the same." I smiled very big-ly, because it was so cute. He drinks his coffee black. He is taller than me, calmer than me, the very voice of reason. He is smart and snarky, but has been working hard on not contradicting or talking back, so spending time with him is very pleasant.

I had written a meal plan for the week, a grocery list, and had cut some coupons. First we went to Target, and guess what? Jon doesn't really like we did the extremely quick route, deviating from my normal pattern, which admittedly was hard. But I did want to pick something out for Sonja K., she's turning 16 on Thursday. (Can you BELIEVE IT? My five-little-girls-in-a-row in five years will be 21, 20, 18, 17, and 16!)

We ended up getting a patio umbrella for the table on the deck, we get shade there in the afternoon but not at's something we could live without, but...:) I also got a little something for Miss Charlotte Claire, she turns 12 on the 11th of May...can you believe it's May?

Anyway...Jon had such a good attitude in Price Chopper. He helped, and had his head in the game, as I call it, when a kid actually suggests things we might need with certain meals, and helps put things in the cart, without having to be told to put the iPod or phone away, ha.

We got home, and I put the pork chops in to marinate...lemon juice and olive oil, with lots of Jamaican jerk seasoning and pepper. I also marinated some London broil, it was $1.99 a pound! Tonight's dinner:) Anyway, I grilled the chops and oh my goodness, yummers. The lemon juice is a good tenderizer, and it tastes so tangy and good. I made rice and fresh steamed broccoli, too. The girls were all going to a soccer kickoff, so they were eating dinner there, and Kathryn and the little girls aren't here...Jon ate a plate of food before going out the door to his friends' house, so Paul and I sat there and ate dinner...just us and the dogs. Joseph was going out the door to be with his is changing, that's for sure. Sometimes the house is overflowing with people and kids and noise, and sometimes we find ourselves actually able to carry on a conversation without interruptions.

Anyhow, I felt kind of bad, taking Jon grocery shopping on his birthday. But we needed stuff. And today, we are going on a picnic! He got a long board for his birthday, and a helmet. A long board, for those of you with no teenagers, is a skateboard. So we are going to the park today so he can ride it. Kathryn and I and Jon, and Char and Cam, and little Anne, and we're meeting Abigail there for lunch. Ab is my second oldest, and works close to a nice park/playground.

So we are packing our lunches, and going out into the sunshine today. 75 degrees and partly sunny. I can deal with that.

Anne is arriving soon, so I sign off now...maybe I'll take some pics today...