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, July 31, 2018

thank you!!!

In no particular order, as per usual...

Thank you, Aaron and Riley, for my new phone.
Thank you, Benjamin and Thomas for fixing our water pump switch.
Thank you, Adrian for our new deck (and Sam and Kap and girls for helping!)
Thank you, Ashley for the Britta pitcher.
Thank you, Cheryl, for the almond butter. (I'm having some right now, yummers!)
Thank you, Mirielle, for weekending with me.
Thank you, Emily, for picking dad up in New Jersey.
Thank you, Eleanor, for SO MUCH, mostly for raising such a good son, Paul is a good guy.
Thank you, Samuel, for being so thoughtful and calling your mama.
Thank you, Abigail, for being such a good example.
Thank you, Mali, for sharing Lydia and being such a good mama to her.
Thank you, Joseph, for being so respectful to me.
Thank you, Margaret, for being my friend.
Thank you, Kathryn, for all you do for your sisters.
Thank you, Evelyn, for your strength and your help around here.
Thank you, Suzanne, for your kind heart and goodness towards the little ones.
Thank you, Sonja K. for your genuine and happy disposition, and for making me laugh.
Thank you, Jonathan, for mowing and helping and being such a good kid.
Thank you, Miss Charlotte Claire for your sweet and sassy attitude, you light up the days.
Thank you, Camille Anaya, for still sitting on the arm of my chair and calling me, "Mama".
Thank you, Paul, for loving me through thick and thin, ha, and being so responsible and good.
Thank you, Grace, for loving Sam. You are so good for him!
Thank you, Bethany, for loving Joseph and making him light up!

Okay, I'll stop. This fine morning, it's Pay The Taxes, and go to Walmart to get Suzanne's contacts. Then, since Jonathan is working today with our friend Thomas, it's only girls here, six daughters and me...Kathryn, Evelyn, Suzanne, Sonja, Char, and Camille, we are going to maybe the outlet mall.

Can I talk about Mr. Jonathan for a minute? He's always busy. He is Mr. Social. Yesterday, he went with Evelyn and Sonja to paint at Emily, Abigail, and Mirielle's house. The older girls gave the younger ones money toward their spring trip to Norway, so the younger ones are paying back by helping them at their house. Jonathan mowed their lawn, weedeated, then came here and cleaned up under the deck, then went to soccer practice last night. phew. He doesn't complain, he just does what needs doing, and is a happy kid.

Anyway. I walked this morning again. And now, it's time to leave. If you want to have fun, try getting six daughters out the door and into the van...oh dear. It's like herding turtles...

Monday, July 30, 2018

a new start...

Morning walk...these have not been happening, but: I am starting anew. Again. I am going to get in better shape. I'm telling you, excuses or not, when you start to get over the hill, the weight not only piles on, it seeks me out, courts me, moves right in without my permission. But, excuses or not, I am not giving up.

Heading to New Jersey on Saturday to pick Paul up...he couldn't get a flight until evening, and didn't want to wait in the airport all day.

And, the next stop...:)

It was a lot of driving, thank you to my dear daughter Emily who actually drove. She's a busy girl these days, seeing her own patients in primary care, she says it's mentally exhausting because of the variety and the seriousness, and the huge responsibility. It was nice for me to have those hours with her to catch up, and hear about her days. And don't worry, she wouldn't violate the patients' privacy, she speaks vaguely and never tells names or specific details.

Anyway, Paul is home, and he is tired. :)

We had lots of people over for dinner last night. Burgers, hot dogs, and some hot sausage patties on the grill,and a watermelon, and a nice salad from Ashley. Davian was here for the day, then Lydia arrived in the evening to spend the night. I need to take more pictures, don't I? Baby Wulf, little Elise (she's crawling now!), Anya...and Lydia...they are so sweet.

I did not take this pic, but it was on my phone, so...Lydia loves her aunties.

So what is life REALLY like? The days speed by. The pool is nice, pretty clear. The grill needs cleaning. The house...well, it always needs a bit more attention, but it's not terrible. The hot tub...ugh. It's leaking, and something wonky on the control screen...
But what's going on with me?

I am soaking in these summer days, trying to hold on to them...because busier days are coming. Kathryn is going to college. She's commuting from here, but still. She will be gone every day, and busy with homework. Evelyn is leaving at the end of August, for three months, to Switzerland. Suzanne and Sonja are going back to school, 11th and 12th grades. Jonathan, Charlotte Claire, and Camille are homeschooling again. I need to get their plans and curriculum sorted out. I want to have them enroll in the homeschool gym class in the small city, it's pricey but I think it's good for them, and fun. I have Lydia here a few days a week, and when school starts, Anne will probably be coming over again.

Paul might be going to Singapore again, maybe for one week. He mentioned maybe bringing me if we have enough frequent flyer miles. Well. I stuttered. It's a long flight. I don't know. wow. Me? Singapore? Do you know that AFTER flying to New York or New Jersey (short flights, just an hour or so, but then the layover...)..then all the way to California (almost six hours), there's a 16 hr, 20 minute flight to Singapore? It sounds claustrophobic, and exhausting. It sounds like way too long to travel...but then again, I would get to go to cool would that be? The hotel would surely have a pool, and with warm weather...hmmm. But then, I think, I have a pool in my back yard.

And I could think of better ways to redeem those, Jamaica? And don't forget, we're planning a trip to Norway next summer! I would LOVE to be able to bring Suzanne and Sonja and Jonathan, along with Char and Cam....

Anyway. Have you ever noticed the endless cycle wherein you think that when a certain thing gets finished, accomplished, or purchased, you will be happy? I remember when Joseph was small, he was absolutely convinced that if he got a package of feathers, he would be happy. He was making an Indian costume (Native American), and he needed feathers. (He was hilarious, he was always asking my sister to get him some, too...)Anyway, he would get them, and make the costume, then tell me he would be happy if he had a pair of black pants and a black make a batman outfit. He was always making something or other, but just the earnestness of the expressions on his little face, as he tried to convince me that this ONE thing he wanted would make him happy. But of course we know, that once we get that one thing, we want something else.

When I got my kitchen painted, ceiling and all, yay! But it only made me want to paint the living room, ceiling too. Then I got some new windows and painted the windowsills never ends. Now I have ideas about a new shower in my bathroom, knocking down a few walls in here, and definitely new flooring in the kitchen. :) But. I am conscious that it isn't getting things renovated, or acquiring things, that makes me happy. Well, it DOES, but, ha, I know this is deceitful, this seeking of always new and better, and it wastes the days...days like today, for example, a day when for all intents and purposes, I should be totally thankful and content. I am. It's a decision I am making. I am thankful for what we have.

Lydia is awake, little miss sunshine herself.

I have to go out and about, bring Paul his lunch, he forgot it, and he's so tired, it's the least I can do...

Saturday, July 28, 2018

it's one in the morning!!!

And Paul isn't home yet! He flew the 16 + hour flight from Singapore to San Francisco, then to New Jersey, where there were storms...his flight home was canceled! No cars left, which was kind of a blessing in disguise in my humble opinion because he must have been pretty tired after such a journey. He might end up flying home tomorrow evening. I COULD go pick him up tomorrow, but at 4+ hours each way...he may as well fly.

Today...we went to the cemetery in town to visit my is lovely there, up on the hill.

12 years ago tomorrow, actually today because it's after midnight, my mother passed away. We visited her grave. There are no words for the grief I still feel. It has dimmed, it is more subtle, but it is still there, and sometimes I miss her fiercely. My dad too. My brother is also buried there...:(

Kathryn, Camille, Suzanne, and Sonja K. (Evelyn and Charlotte and Jonathan stayed home with Lydia)

Walking around a cemetery is a very soul searching experience. Kathryn said, "No matter what path you choose, no matter how successful you are, you still end up here." It's something to think about, and when you see the graves of the babies and the teenagers, and the beloved parents, oh it's sad.

Evelyn texted us and said the water was not working at home, so to stop and get some water. That translated to, "get donuts too.".

Kathryn, Camille, Sonja, and Suzanne, picking out donuts.

Home...put away the groceries, and make some pizzas, Jonathan had friend over. Then: pool, ahh. Why did I even leave today? It was supposed to be rainy, but it was just hot and humid.

Paul did not make it home from Singapore. I waited up to see if he would get a late flight, but no. Evelyn, Suzanne, and Sonja worked at the amphitheater...R.E.O. Speedwagon and Chicago...I would have loved to work this one, but with the airport trip, I thought I wouldn't make it on time, but oh well. It was nice to be home with Jon and his friends, and Kathryn and Charlotte Claire and Camille. was a good day...our water stopped working, because the switch on the water pump stopped working, but thankfully Benjamin knows how to fix these things. Water coming out of the faucet, it's lovely. We had to stop at the hardware store to get a new switch.

Friday, July 27, 2018

easy as pie....

Easy as pie, harrumph, whoever said that never made one. The girls took little Lydia blueberry picking yesterday, and what to do with all the berries? A whole pound of butter for the crusts, how could they not be good? Cam and I put half and half on the tops, then sprinkled sugar on for that extra sparkle...okay, I am a sloppy pie maker, but oh they were good. I made a huge boo-boo with the oven temp, the were supposed to bake for 20 minutes at 425, then be turned down, but I didn't turn it down right, which I blame the oven for, ha. So they browned up too much, but oh yummers. There is still one whole pie in the refrigerator...:)

So here's a gripe of mine...when there is a sign for something on sale, and you fail to read the small print, or even maybe you assume since there's a sign on the display where an item is, it's included in the sale...

So after the dentist yesterday, the girls didn't want to hit the beach, they wanted to go to Five Below and get pool floaties, then go home and go in the pool. That sounded okay to me. So this display...we chose the popsicle ones, and duh, those weren't included! We were at the register, and the cashiers agreed with me that it was misleading, but what are ya gonna do? I wanted to get home and get into the pool, not stand around embarrassing my kids by fussing about how the sign shouldn't be there with all those floaties if only a few of them were on sale, it wasn't a huge deal...but then, blah, it seems so dishonest of them. We agreed we won't go there again.

Anyway...we had fun with them in the pool.

These little birds are living in our raspberry bushes! The nest was there with it's pretty little eggs, and we were delighted when they hatched! I like to check on them, but I don't get too close. Jonathan is having some boys over today to play air-soft...they go back in the woods and shoot each other...and I told him to make sure they stay far away from these bushes, I don't want anyone knocking into the nest. I feel very protective of these babies.

Sonja and I think we look an awful lot alike...:)

This morning, library. And later, I think I am having company for dinner, and lots of my girls are working at the amphitheater for a concert...Jon's friends will be here, and I have to pick Paul up at the airport at eleven tonight.

So Lydia has been here for three nights, her poor mama had three 12 hour night shifts in a row. But Miss Lydia, she's so sweet and good. She goes to bed so nicely, Camille tucked her in last night! She read her stories, and helped her brush her teeth, then sang her some seems like yesterday I was doing that with Cam.

Lydia wakes up all bright eyed and bushy-tailed, and eats her brekky, then plays dollhouse with whatever auntie she can get to play with her. Char dressed her and brushed her hair, Kathryn braided her hair, and Evelyn is playing dollhouse with her.

It's a good thing our dogs are cute. They can be such a pain in the neck. They are mostly obedient, but they LOVE barking at the neighbors. It's their favorite. They come when we call them back in, and we reward them with a treat for coming back so nicely, but of course they think the treat is for...barking at the neighbors in the first place. They are people doggies, and they don't want to be outside unless we are, and you can't even go check on the pool without them coming along, wagging, thinking it's a grand adventure. Sometimes I let them out in the morning, and they just stand on the deck looking at me, waiting for me to come too...I shoo them off the deck, saying, "go potty, go potty", but they are in such a hurry to come back in and get pet, they are SO happy to see me in the morning. They are couch hogs, and they sprawl across the cool kitchen tile in the hot weather. They slop water all over when they drink, and they WILL steal food if left unattended, but have gotten much much better about this, waiting until absolutely no one is looking. we go to the library...

Thursday, July 26, 2018

the chaotic life of mama...

There's still a sense of excitement when the toys come out, and the living room turns into a playroom. Lydia loves her aunties, and uncles too. Davian came to spend the afternoon with us, too.

This pool steals my heart when it's hot out, and it's been a treasure this summer, so refreshing. Keeping it clear is work though! It'll rain, and the pool will turn green...and blah. I am very thankful for this pool though. We put it up ourselves, it's not huge, and the ladder could be sturdier (but at least it removes for safety). The kids talk about getting an inground much fun a diving board would be...but I steer them back around, to be thankful for the one we have. We WOULD like to add a small deck so they can jump in...

The deck...I love the deck. I did think I was done with buying things like little picnic tables, but shh, this one was only $16.98, and we have these little grandkids, and little friends over too...what?! We NEEDED it!

Um, yeah, that's my cart. Walmart was having a clearance sale...on toys. My kids are sort of growing out of toys, but still play a little bit with certain things, and they'll still play with visiting kids or grandkids. But I figured I would get a few Christmas gifts, and the Waffleblocks, they are so much fun! The huge railroad set was marked down to $13! Perfect for a rainy day with Lydia over!

The symphony played outdoors on Lake Ontario! Symphoria, at Fort Ontario in Oswego. Did you know that this place once was called, Safe Haven? It was a refugee camp for almost 1,000 displaced Europeans, mostly Jewish, from 1944 to 1945. Anyway, we loved the concert...the 1812 Overture...wonderful.

Summertime...blissful, relaxing, but still, busy somehow. We've had Lydia a lot, and we've had tons of rain here in the northeast. Today is sunny and warm, and I'm wanting to go to the beach, but of course we have dentist appointments right smack in the middle of the afternoon. I think the older girls might go on their own adventure, and leave me with the dentist appointment girls, Miss Char and Miss Cam. They said they would take Lydia along...whatever we do, I'm sure we'll make the most of it.

Paul is coming home tomorrow night, in what seems like the longest trip ever, even though it was the usual two weeks.

The red mini van was in the shop for inspection and new rear brakes. Then, it was making noises and smoking, so we brought it back in, and blah, someone had engaged the parking brake and driven with it on, but didn't know it because of the dashboard lights that seem to be permanently the mechanic used his little computer figure-er-outer to diagnose the problem on the dash, and said it was just a lose wire, the brake was fine after he fixed it, ect. But, in the process of using this figure-er-outer, he put down the windows, and our driver's door buttons don't work at all, so now the window is down a few inches...and won't go back up. So we have to stop and visit Ed at the shop again.

Anyway...summer is slipping away. School will start soon, with only two high school girls getting on the bus. Evelyn is all graduated, and she is going to Switzerland for a few months!!!! Kathryn is going to college, and the three youngest are homeschooling again, so I have to get those plans drawn up, and submitted. Joseph will be getting married soon, maybe in September, they are figuring out a date...and the little girls are chomping at the bit to move into his bigger room...and I am thinking "guest room" for their room.

I want to buy a saw...a circular saw...and a handheld sander...and a miter saw...I want to set up a workshop, actually. I want a tile cutter, and I want to be able to do my own renovations. We'll see.

And off I go, to start the office...blah.:)

Saturday, July 21, 2018

cabin in the adirondacks....

Relaxing... yes, it happened: I relaxed.

We went on a grand adventure today! We went up Gore Mountain!

We took the gondola ride...this is Mirielle...

(I found a groupon, and saved a bit of money, bought the groupon right in the parking lot before we went in!).
Going up the mountain in the gondola: absolutely gorgeous, until it suddenly stopped, and we were just there, dangling, waiting...what was going on? It was panic city, we didn't all completely lose it, but after it started moving again, we confessed how we were each picturing ourselves having to be rescued.

So we went to the top, and walked around.

Then...we asked a nice lady who operated the gondola where a nice beach is, and off we Minerva Lake.

We spread out our towels, and ahh, relaxed. We had packed a cooler of drinks, and brought snacks...and after a few hours in the beautiful sun, with a swim too, we were done. So we changed into our clothes and got ice cream from the stand right there on the beach. mmm, mint chocolate chip for me. What??!! IT's vacation!

The girls love the window seat. It's so cozy! Char fell asleep here after we returned from the beach. We grilled steak, made mashed potatoes, a nice salad, and then I sliced up fresh French bread, and browned it in Irish butter in the frying pan...oh dear me, yummers. We had wine from our wine tour last week, a kind we thought would go well with steak, and yeah. Mmm-hmm. Our steak was grilled on charcoal...we had to brave the bees...yes, yellowjackets built a nest under this beautiful cabin's porch! The owner came over to help us out, after both Char and Cam got stung...she hung tarps over the porch, she will have to hire an exterminator. She was so nice to us, offered to take us out to dinner. We said we would be okay (We wanted to grill that steak!), and she said she was crediting us a hundred dollars off our rental fee. A very nice lady, she built this cabin, she is something else!

Anyway. It's lovely.

Dinner is over, and off we go to explore the Hudson's lovely up here, with several places to walk in it...

Friday, July 20, 2018

just imagine... living room on a February afternoon, the wind swirling the snow around the house, the little heater working furiously, it's very hum warm and comforting. Mirielle here, talking about spring, about summer, how it flies by. Mirielle who had/has a thing for Airbnb, looking, planning, dreaming...she found a cabin in the woods, a small new cabin, built by a woman with her own hands on her own land, a woman moving from the Big Apple to the woods, to support herself after years in the rat race. Okay, I did flourish that a bit, but the bare bones of it are facts. The land was in her family for generations, she recently purchased more land, and decided to build cabins, apart from each other and rustic but with all the amenities.

I happened to have some cash, just got paid for babysitting, so I told her that of course I would pitch in for a weekend in July. "A Weekend In July". The very phrase is delicious in February!!!

The cabin is small, is for four people. Char and Cam were dancing around at the thought of it, so we decided, just them, Mirielle, and me. (Now if you ever had 16 kids, or even THREE kids, and were bringing just two, you would know what I mean when I write this phrase: Mommy Guilt.) We looked at as saving a weekend, putting it in the bank, a weekend that was already taken, come what may. Because, as Mare said, you think you're going to do all these things, and summer passes...
So we paid for that cabin, and this weekend became ours.

About the Guilt thing: it ain't happening. Jonathan has plans, he's going to a huge car show with his friends, and the other kids are actually way too happy they have the house to themselves! (Joseph is here, so they're not really alone.) I was talking, at one point, of letting one of them go instead of me, but no, they said, really, they said, just go! We love when you're gone! ouch. But they're teenagers, I know what they mean.

Paul just happens to be in Singapore, too. His schedule is unpredictable...if he were home, I may have switched things up, but he's not.

Anyway, this afternoon Evelyn is going to drive Char, Cam, and me to the hospital, where Mirielle works, and drop us off. Mare will get her car from the garage, and pick us up, and off we'll go. Our bags are already packed in there, we will just be waiting on the sidewalk outside of the hospital with a cooler and some grocery bags, ha.

This fine morning, I woke at 6:04, all happy we are going bye bye. Evelyn and I are heading to the grocery store, and to Kohl's...she bought jeans the other day and they left the taggy thing on it, and I happen to have $30 in Kohl's cash. So poor us, ha.

Benjamin and Ashley are moving tomorrow, and I do feel bad I won't be here for that. But when we reserved this cabin, we had no idea they would be buying a house, no idea they would close on it, and have this moving date.

Ah well, time to renew my library books (the things you can do online!), and get moving...

But first imagine this...relaxing...ah, I can't wait.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

laziness sounds good!

Summer mornings, ahhh....our weather here in the northeast, in New York state, has been stellar.

Yesterday we packed up the cooler and headed to Benjamin's house to paint cabinets, and kitchen trim. Kathryn and Suzanne painted the front porch, Evelyn and Jonathan started painting the cabinet bases and window trim in the kitchen, and Irene, Sonja, and I painted cabinet doors...two coats of primer, then a coat of paint...first backs of primer, then fronts, then second coats, then paint today...they still need one more coat...

Yesterday, I brought over burger and hot dogs, and grilled dinner when we were done painting for the night. Grandma had bought some fresh local sweet corn, and oh that was good with the burgers and watermelon, and salad. The kids all had ice creams too.

Their new house is so big and airy! They haven't moved all their stuff in yet, and are in the middle of remodeling some things, and have to move out of the apartment, so it's a bit crazy, especially with two kids.

Anya loves having company...especially little cousin Lydia.

Jonathan is growing up so fast! He had already painted Paul's mom's deck yesterday morning, then joined us painting at Ben and Ashley's.

This fine morning, we went over there first thing and got some painting done. Then the girls went out on an adventure, and left me here with little Lydia and Charlotte Claire, Camille, and Evelyn, and Jonathan. And Joseph. But ha, it seemed like very few people.

Evelyn is grilling Cornell chicken, there are baked potatoes in the oven, and we will make a veggie.

Lydia is still here, she has spent two nights, but her mama came over to Ben's house yesterday afternoon for a few hours to visit her. She works nights at the hospital, and it's nice that Lyd goes to sleep so well here for us. Having her here is just joy.

Somehow I manage to keep busy here, even though I don't "work".

Today, I did three loads of laundry, and packed for the cabin...tomorrow, cabin here we come!

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

please, summer, please slow down...

The days are your life. The driving and the waiting and the cleaning up, this is life. It's not something that's going to happen Some Day, it's now. You can choose to gripe your life away, piddle away the time wishing you were doing something different, but this is life.

I, for one, have been tempted to fall victim to the Grass Is Always Greener on the Other Side of the Fence syndrome. If I'm preparing food, I wish I was outside with the guests, if I'm in the store, I wish I was home on the deck. If I'm home for more than a day, I wish I was out doing something fun. If I'm cleaning the house, I wish it was already clean and I was in bed with a book.

Anyway. There is something to be said for being content where you are, and with what you are occupied with.

Yesterday, six of my daughters accompanied me out and about. We needed to renew Evelyn's passport, but someone forgot their checkbook. Thankfully I realized it before we all trooped into the county courthouse building, but I had already wasted fifty cents in the parking meter, blah.

We went to Kohl's, where I had some good coupons. The girls found jeans, I found a Christmas gift for baby Grant, my son Sam's little guy, a few things for little Anya who is starting kindergarten this year, and a cute outfit for baby Wulf.

Then, take-out Chinese food and home to watch the Simpsons. What!? It was a rainy day! And apparently I "owed" a few of the kids Chinese food...I promised Sonja K. for her birthday, and that was on May 3rd, and I promised Suze after her SAT test, and that was a few months back too.

The weather cleared up, we got to swim...then Emily came over, and Margaret and Adrian and baby Wulf, and Ashley with baby Elise and little Anya. Lydia came over, and we had a nice cook-out, a fire on the deck, and marshmallows, and I didn't have one. :(

Here's something nice though: Lydia spent the night, for the first time, and she did fantastic! She went to bed so nicely at 9:30-ish, and slept until after nine this morning! She's so sweet and chatty and just happy, it's nice to have a little one in the house. She slept in a pack and play in Suzanne's room.

This morning, Jonathan went to Grandma's to paint her back deck, and I am taking Evelyn to get her passport renewed, and then there is a painting party at Ben's new house.

We don't get bored, that's for sure.

As for me, today I'm going to use each opportunity to be thankful, and to hear what God has to say to me.

And, I'll try to remember to take some pictures, too.

Monday, July 16, 2018

still alive and kicking!!!

The party...oh my it went by fast! Did I take a single picture? oops.

The first guest was Kim, my sister-in-law, little cousin Danielle's mama. She helped me get the chicken sliced up and into a crock-pot. The pulled pork was done, Sonja had cooked up the taco beef and that was in a crock pot...the veggies were all cut up and in bags in the refrigerator. The coolers were full of ice and drinks, and Evelyn had made pitchers of mint lemonade, raspberry lemonade, ect. I made a pot of coffee, and people started arriving...

The rest is rather a blur. We kept refilling the peppers, olives, tomatoes, and cheese, and getting out more sour cream. The girls helped keep things cleaned up, lots of empty cans and bottles. (No alcohol, just seltzers, waters, and soda.) SO many of our friends came over. I enjoyed myself, talked to so many people. The kids ran around and played, trampoline and swings and they got out lots of toys.

The cake: I googled "Graduation cake", and made the first one that came up. I doubled the recipe, used 20 egg whites, and like seven cups of sugar, and made it in two half-sheet pans. It was delectable. I layered them, cut the edges off because the little girls saw it on a cooking show, and frosted it with buttercream icing. I ran out before I wrote anything on it, so when I drove Paul to the airport, I got more shortening so I could make another batch. Getting home just two hours before people would arrive, and making more But the cake tasted so good. We served it with berries and whipped cream. I only tasted one bit when I was cutting it and plating it, it was so good I ate another bit before really thinking about it, but then was done. It was hard not to just have a huge piece, but oh dear me, I have to be careful.

Then...they started leaving, and by a bit after ten o'clock, it was just us again, and wow, that was a good party.

Yesterday was our wine festival...and let's just say it was too much fun.

Today it's warm and sunny and I am done writing for the day...

Friday, July 13, 2018

it hasn't killed me yet...

I know, we're just having a graduation party, no biggie. And it's really not, except for that it IS. There's the regular cleaning up, which you would think, duh, just clean. That's fine and dandy, but we still LIVE here. There's a coffee cup next to the stack of wii games and dvds on the top of the tv cube thing. There is newspaper on the couch, which Suri is sleeping on. The floors were swept and vacuumed yesterday, but that was YESTERDAY! We have two Labs! The couch covers are in the washing machine, the pork is in the crock pot for pulled pork, the pool is backwashed, chlorinated, and turned on. And the coffee is perking.
This is me, right now, alive.

Today, I need to grill the chicken which I bought yesterday and put into three gallon sized baggies with marinade. The burger needs to be cooked up and seasoned for the nacho bar, and I'm not talking just a package of it, there are five big packages of it. Maybe 25, 30 pounds. My plan is to cook it all up, put some in a crockpot, and the rest in bags in the refrigerator. If we don't need it, I can freeze it. If we do, it'll warm up fast on high in crock pot. I hope. We also plan to cut up all the peppers and tomatoes, ect., and bag those up until it's time to set out the food. I'm thinking to put ice in plastic bins and set the bowls in those, it's hot today and getting hotter.

Mirielle brought over their cooler and lots of drinks last night.

And yesterday, I bought 70 water bottles and some soda, Kool-aid thingys for the kids, in the plastic bottles, good for the environment.

Camille and I set out bright and early yesterday, after I was done dawdling around here. We had lots of groceries to get, but decided to sneak to Target first. She got a few easy workbooks to do during the summertime, new sandals, and a dollhouse furniture desk set. Hey, she was the one who was ready and willing to go with Mom early in the morning. To be fair, all of the older girls went to the drive-in movies the night before, except for Evelyn, who was cleaning Em, Ab, and Mirielle's house.

Anyway, Cam and I moseyed on over to the outdoor section, and yeah, there were clearances...70% off the patio furniture and gas grills...oh, how we debated, and ended up with a bench and a new pillow.

It was $29. We liked it better than the sets, and it was originally $99, but still, it's not a "need". Cam and I did have an adventure getting it to the register. The good thing is that it SAVED me money, because who can browse up and down the rest of Target with that thing on the cart?

Evelyn's lily...

This rocking chair is from Aldi, and I love it, but I also hate tripping over the rockers, which I have done more than you would imagine. The table is Little Tikes and was a screaming yellow for years, but I couldn't even scrub it decently, so I decided to spray paint it.

This one was white on top with pink legs, and also stained quite a bit on top. I made the mistake of not letting the spray paint dry enough before I put things on top, and the paint peeled, so I had to put this placemat on it:( Live and learn, I guess.

Anyway, it's quiet in here for now, but the girls will be getting up, and Jon and his friend Toby, and Joseph...and the day will get crazy. I have to bring Paul to the airport, as he is leaving for Singapore again, today. Samuel is going to be here this evening, I can't wait to see him! He is all grown up and responsible, and I am not done worrying about him...he worked last evening, then left at 11 p.m., from Virginia, drove through the night straight to drill (Army Reserves in Syracuse (NY)), will do whatever soldiers do in drill on a hot summer day, then will get here when the party is starting. Tomorrow, drill all day, Sunday, drill all day, then Sunday night drive through the night to get back to Virginia, and work all night Monday night.

Anyway...this is the only quiet time I'll be getting for a while. Tomorrow morning, shh, I am going to the Finger Lakes Wine Festival, with my friend Karen, and Emily, Mirielle, and Miss Evelyn, our designated driver. We bought the tickets for this in the cold of the winter, and have been looking SO forward to it. Charlotte Claire and Camille are going camping with their activity club, leaving at 8 a.m., cousin Dani will be spending the night tonight and going too. So I have to make sure they have sleeping bags and warm socks, bathing suits and jackets...

Also in the cold of winter, Mirielle and I split the cost of a small cabin in the Adirondacks for next weekend, found it on Airbnb, and it's like the concept of money in the bank: but it's a weekend in the bank, you know, reserved. If anything else comes up, nope, we've got a cabin. I was contemplating giving up my spot so Mirielle could take her friend instead of me, because it's just her and I and the two little girls going...but my teenagers told me to please go and leave them here, they have too much fun without me. hmmm

Ah well, Sunny is whining to go outside, and I do have just a few things to do....

Thursday, July 12, 2018

what have I done??!!!

That's the stage I am in in this, "Let's Have A Huge Graduation Party!" saga. It goes like this:

1. Let's have a party!
2. Let's invite everyone, heck, everyone!
3. Days go by, it's looming, but it's nothing to worry about, plenty of time.
4. Uh-oh, better start cleaning up around here, a little. Still plenty of time.
5. Oh NO! The party's tomorrow! I still have to buy the food, pre-cook some of it, the lawn needs mowing and the downstairs bathroom, oh no! And dessert? I've thought about it, but that's about it! There's no dessert! I can bake this afternoon after I shop at three stores, right? While I'm cooking? The playhouses in the yard need to be hosed out, and the kitchen table where all the fab food will be set out is still stacked with various backpacks, a towel, someone's school books, (I know, it's July).

I did vacuum yesterday, and we HAVE cleaned, but this place is like a nice little stream, it never stops moving and changing shape. The dogs keep shedding, and the teenagers keep making iced coffee, and leaving the glasses around to decorate. I can't say anything, the stick from the 60 calorie fudgie I had last night is sitting in the empty wine glass...yeah, I had a glass of Finger Lakes wine from the Goose Watch Winery...oh yummers. So that's sitting on the window sill near my chair, next to my water bottle, but I'm the mom! I'm the one who'll be taking care of it anyway, so no biggie, right?

Anyway. Here I sit, adding to the general spirit of procrastination, before that the whole situation leans toward panic and chaos.

Don't get me wrong. I am not regretting that we're hosting this party. This will come though, I am teetering on the edge of that thought as I type. I will regret it. I will kick myself black and blue. I will wonder what the "H" I was thinking, heck, of course. Then things will fall into place, people will come, we'll have an amazing time, the food will turn out all right, I'll have forgotten a thing or two, and oops maybe we won't have gotten to that downstairs bathroom, but it'll be such a good party, I'll be thankful we had it.

After parties are over, and the guests have gone home, I have never regretted having the gathering. It's just part of the process, for a procrastinator like me...

Camille is going to accompany me to the grocery stores this morning to get all that we need for our Taco Bar for the grad party. We are having pulled pork, grilled chicken for fajitas, taco beef for taco salad, and some hot dogs for the kids who are still scared of Mexican food. And of course there are the tomatoes and lettuce cilantro and rice and olives and cheese sauce...

We are down a van, again, this time the red one needed inspection. It ran out in June, and the excitement of going out and about and wondering if a cop would notice, was just getting out of hand. The first thing Ed-the-mechanic said when I drove that van into the little auto place in town was, "Missy, that thing is getting loud!". Yeah, needs a muffler. Then he noticed it needed new rear brakes, could tell magically just by looking at the rear tire. What a coincidence, I told him, the Brake Light had just turned on that very day! He said he would have to keep it overnight, which means, $$$. I waver between being super thankful we have vehicles, to wishing we could just win the lottery already and get good vans which stay good.

Anyway. Time to wake Camille up and get going....the other girls have things to do today, a few are hanging out with the girls visiting from Germany, Evelyn is cleaning Mirielle, Emily, and Abigail's house in payment for the money they gave to the kids' spring time trip to Norway, and blah, this isn't a good day for that as we have a bit to do here, but we still have tomorrow, right?

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

the most wonderful day ever....

This was taken at Purity Ice Cream in Ithaca...local milk and cream, made in small batches...yummers. Sonja K in the front left, Irene behind her, Grace behind her, Suzanne in the back middle, Charlotte Claire in the front of Suze, then Emily and I. Kathryn Grace in the middle with the cap on, Camille next to her, then little Amanda, with Miss Evelyn Joy in the front, in glasses, taking the pic. (The van with Mel and the girls from Germany didn't go to the ice cream place after the park)

The park was lovely. For such a hot day, 89 degrees (31.66c), it was very comfortable there. The girls headed for the hiking trail, I headed for the water/picnic area. I slung my backpack over my shoulder, lugged the small cooler full of sugar free sparkling water and a zero calorie Kool-Aid cooler, a bag of pop-corn, and the picnic blanket, and said goodbye. The girls felt bad, Suze in particular wanted to stay with me, but I assured them I was fine all by my lonesome. I could probably have done the hike, but I didn't want them to have to worry about me, I didn't want to slow them down.

Shh, it was nice to be by myself for a bit. I had no book, and wasn't going to sit there on a beautiful day on my phone, because ha, there wasn't much of a signal, and things took forever and a day to load, so I put it away and just people-watched. I sat on that picnic blanket in the shad, eating popcorn and sipping water, and worried how in the heck I was going to get back up, being in my bathing dress, and all. Then I saw a chubby lady in a small-ish bikini kneeling and leaning over her snack bag on a blanket nearby, and oh my dear Lordy-Lord, there wasn't anything left to the imagination, the whole world saw what shouldn't be flashed. Usually when my kids are there, I ask them to create a small disturbance so as to deflect attention from me as I struggle to get up. (Benjamin, the big stinker, did the opposite recently, he yelled, "Help, she can't get up, and everyone looked at me as I was struggling to get into a good position from my spot in the grass...and of course that made me laugh, which made my muscles collapse...)

Anyway, I enjoyed the quiet time, and people never fail to amuse me. I saw a guy trip over a small shoe, probably his grandkid's, and almost fall over...he scanned the area to see if anyone saw, so I turned away so he wouldn't be embarrassed. One lady went in the water and her shorts were all full of air, and a huge air bubble emerged, she announced to no one in particular that she did NOT fart. As I sat near the water, the two ladies right next to me were discussing one's divorce, and how she wasted sixteen years of her life, and too bad, he was NOT getting the house. I watched people dive off the diving board, and kids splash each other. I swam, I sunned, and swam again.

Then a few hours later, the girls came back from their hike...we had a nice picnic lunch, then some of them tried out the diving board...this is my Camille can this be?

I rode there with Emily. She is a brand-new, board certified, NYS qualified, Nurse Practitioner. And she just started in family practice, saw eleven patients her first day. She works four long days a week, and has Tuesdays off, yay! It was so nice to spend time with her! We had Char and Cam and their friend Amanda with us, and we stopped at the grocery store on the way home. I let the girls pick out some bulk candy:)

At home, Abigail stopped by with flowers for my birthday! I made her a quick dinner, as she had just gotten home from work, and birthday or no birthday, the kids were all going to cleaning at church, followed by Chinese food and volleyball with the German girls who are visiting. So the house cleared out except for Paul and I and Camille and Amanda, who are still under youth age. Paul cooked up some taco meat and we had a simple dinner of taco salad. I went in the pool all by myself as the girls were busy playing in their room, and Paul was packing for his trip to Singapore on Friday.

I know I am old, and I know life goes on, but it was a rather lonely evening, and I had to put the brakes on the self-pity, after all, I had one of the most wonderful days ever, and I just didn't want the fun to end, ha.

Our weather is amazing, sunny and warm again today. I have things to do and places to go...there are well over a hundred people invited on Friday to the graduation party, and ha, I have yet to start getting things for it. One cannot do EVERYTHING at the last minute!

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

happy birthday, to me!

Happiness is waking up on your birthday, and seeing this on the counter:

He remembered! And, the gift isn't too shabby either, ha. The mug is the kind that keeps thing really hot, or really cold, and they really work well! I had one that lasted a few years before I lost track of it, and it was awesome. And there's an essential oils diffuser in the bag too, yay.

He's a good husband, a keeper. But can I tell you what he did? A friend went salmon fishing, fresh water salmon from Lake Ontario...of course Paul wanted some! It was in a bag in the refrigerator, and the bag leaked. It was in there leaking that stinky salmon juice all over, down in the drawers and underneath them, leaking away while we obliviously enjoyed life...then I realized that the smell lingered after he removed that salmon from the 'fridge, grilled it up, bagged and froze the he cleaned it up. He did. But it was too late, the whole refrigerator smelled, and the food in it smelled. Opened cheese and pepperoni smelled, it was not fun. So I offered Sonja K. twenty bucks to clean it out really well. She's amazing, she spend an hour, wiped down each jar and carton, cleaned up every nook and cranny, put fresh baking soda in there, and now it's fine. It was worth every penny. Anyway, I am not a fish person in the first place, so blaaaah, I didn't like the smell, but I know he didn't do it on purpose. When I see him in the kitchen, I have to just look the other way, ha.

So yeah, I'm 53 today. That seems like a joke, I do not feel 53, except for when I get up after sitting for too long and my knee does that trick thing where it threatens to buckle, and when I don't get enough sleep and I'm nodding off in the afternoon like a two year old. And when I look in the mirror and see the wrinkles, and the gray hair.

But I refuse to get old in spirit. I will not stop delighting in life, and I will not take a single day for granted.

Today, I am going along on an adventure with Emily, Kathryn, Evelyn, Suzanne, Sonja, Charlotte Claire, and Camille, as well as I think 14 girls from Germany who stayed in town after the volleyball camp. I am not sure if other girls are going too, but they had planned this and then realized it was my birthday. I said I certainly didn't mind, I could find plenty to do all by my lonesome, and I didn't even word it like that, ha. Shh, a day all to myself doesn't sound horrible! But they felt bad, and invited me, even though they are all young people. It's a waterfalls hike/picnic. I wasn't going to come, but decided to, even if the hike is too much for me, I can bow out in the middle and relax, and go for a swim. Evelyn sent me this text:

She knows how to warm a mama's heart, that's for sure. What more, may I ask, could an old lady ask for?

On our family chat, one daughter asked another what they should get me for my birthday, and I said please, nothing, the deck last year is still a good gift, it hasn't worn off, and I do not need anything else. The pool is clear, I have a big deck, and I am all set.

It's been a challenge to get that pool clear, it was nice before the cabin, then when we got home, blah. It has been worth it's weight in gold this year though. Last night I grilled burgers and hot dogs in my swim dress, I have several suits, and they are the old-lady type swim dress suits, and I like to swim, then grill, then jump back in the pool. Ha, no wonder it's so hard to keep the pool clear. But summertime....bare feet....ahh.

It's not all roses and puppy dogs though, with those dogs comes dog poop, and with all these kids comes clutter and messes. Yesterday we cleared out old coats and shoes for a good couple of hours. The sun was shining and the pool was calling, but it was after two o'clock before we got outside. I also had paperwork to do for homeschooling, and a few other things to take care of. And there is always laundry, always floors to sweep, doggies shed something terrible in the heat.

And the refrigerator mess. Joseph just opened it and said it still smells like fish. I think I'll get like ten boxes of baking soda. blah.

Joseph had already made coffee when I got up this morning, that's a good happy thing. He is engaged, and will be getting married one of these days, hasn't set a date yet, at least that we know of, he's funny about things. The little girls are chomping at the bit to take over his room, it's way bigger than theirs.

But of course mama here isn't in a hurry to see him move out. No way, no how. He IS 27, but he is a good kid, a gentle kid, a nice young man. He works from home, and I am so used to him being here, I can leave the house and he'll keep an eye on the kids, or let the dogs out, or he can help me drop off cars at the mechanic, ect. There are times and seasons in life, and I am honestly sad that the time for him living here at home is coming to an end. I'll still see him, of course, but it'll be different. Home is different when you get your own place. There have been so many seasons in my life with different kids, and if I could go back in time, I would realize how fleeting they were, and cherish the days more. When Aaron and Mirielle and Mali were in nursing school together, and would have a day off, and we would adventure...when Abigail lived here and was in college, and sometimes I would drive her and spend the day in that city. When Emily was in nursing school and I would pick her up and bring her here for the weekend.

Whatever the details, the times and seasons pass, and things change. The kids grow up, no matter how I try to keep them little, ha.

Last night I had a dream that I was offered a small toddler to adopt. She was 18 months old, had dark hair and eyes, and she clung to me, loved me, right away. I was so absolutely thrilled, I loved her completely, and one of the older kids made a huge cake that said, "Congratulations on the 17th child!" I was over the moon, in that dream.

There are so many babies in this world, so many kids who are not wanted, why can't someone give one to me? I know, I have enough, but if there was one little baby, one small toddler, who needed love and care....I would take them.

Having grandchildren has been amazing, I am thankful for them. Here is a nice picture of the youngest, little Wulf...

Isn't he beautiful?

And time is passing and the girls are getting ready and I don't want to make them late, so off I go...

Monday, July 9, 2018

all the time in the world...

That's what I have. The president of Procrastinators Anonymous, that's me. I don't need to do that now, the graduation party is not until Friday! Never mind that Paul is leaving for another two week trip to Singapore on Friday morning, and that my girls have friends from Germany in town, with plans to do this and that and the other thing, and sadly, "the other thing" is probs not Helping Mom Clean The House.

But, as we procrastinators know, it WILL get done. Or it won't, and I won't die, I haven't died yet from a messy house, although I have had that Die A Million Deaths feeling a few times when people drop by when things are at their worst. I remember one time a friend came by, and looked at the building blocks strewn across the kitchen floor, he looked at me, and asked, "Why don't you just pick them up?" Where do I even start with a question like that? Did he think I threw them all over because I like stepping on Legos? Or that I told the kids to have as much fun as they want, but to make sure they throw toys all over the kitchen as well as the living room?


The kids are growing up, but I've had little friends here a lot for the last few days. Miss Lydia was here on Thursday, and again yesterday. She gets here at 6 a.m. (her POOR mama! She works those 12 hour shifts and has to wake Lyd up and drive her here...:(). I have thoroughly enjoyed bonding with little Lydia, those quiet hours of the morning, keeping her busy and talking to her and singing songs and playing store...not too shabby.

I don't like media/movies/tablets, ect., for small children, but I make exceptions for this stretch in the early morning, as neither of us is ready to face the day yet. I played Peppa Pig for her, both of us cuddled in my chair,but the little stinker turns around and makes sure my eyes are open at two minute intervals. "Open your eyes, Grandma. Open your eyes!"

Sebastian and Linnea were here by 8 a.m. on Saturday, to spend the day with me. My own kids were all at volleyball camp, and Jon was going fishing with Paul, which was why I had the twins: their daddy and older brother were going fishing with Paul too, their mama at volleyball camp, so I offered to watch them. It was too much fun. We swam and colored and I told them stories, we went for ice cream, and to the store for more pool supplies. I forgot just how much fun small children are. They delight in the things older ones don't even notice anymore. On the way home from the store, sun-kissed and ice cream sticky, they were looking sleepy, so I sang them the nighty-night song, and they fell fast asleep.

Anyway. I do keep busy, somehow. Yesterday Paul and I went to a celebration for Nate and Danielle, some friends who moved down south and were married a few months back. Nate is from a family with fourteen kids, and spent lots of time here at our house back when the boys were growing up. It was a beautiful day to be outside with friends.

Anyway, I am making a list of all the things that I would like to get done by Friday, so that the girls here are aware and plan accordingly. In other words, don't make plans on Friday, we are panic cleaning, ha.

This morning, I got up and got the pool started, put in some more chlorine, weeded the patio, puttered around the yard picking things up and pulling weeds here and there, washed a load of towels, wiped down the counters, went to take my vitamins and ended up remembering to give the dogs their heartworm pills, which had to be disguised in raw burger, so they would take them. Suri somehow spit hers out like three times, so I finally had to hold her handle closed and tip her head back, she didn't like that much, but she needed the pill. (Sam calls the dogs' noses "the handle")

So I putter around and do things, the girls are all exhausted from their busy back to back schedule of cabin-summer conference at church - volleyball camp. They are still sleeping, and I know they'll wake up and have all sorts of plans. I still haven't heard all the stories of the fun they had. They stayed at hotels and had feasts and a gala, and way too much fun.

I have missed them.

Our weather here in the northeast is flawless. Today: brilliantly sunny and warm, high 89. (31.6c). It's what Mirielle calls "an umbrella sky". A blue umbrella. Here in central New York, we get all to many gray umbrellas, and of course we get too much snow, and our winters sometimes last right up to summer, no spring at all, ha. So when it's so gorgeous outside...we appreciate it.

And...who can resist the cherries and strawberries of the beginning of summer?

And now I am going to finish my list, but first, here's a pic of me with Kathryn...I think I look like each of the girls I take a picture with...

Saturday, July 7, 2018

how about today? and cabin pics...

If I have neglected writing here, it's mostly because when I get behind, I get paralyzed with procrastination. See, I had this amazing plan to write about the cabin...I had pictures, and stories...then the wifi in the woods was awful at best, and Margaret was there WORKING, so we stayed offline, for the most part. It was good, because teenage girls with no devices are teenage girls who are quite fun to be with. But, I got way behind on blogging, and when I get way behind, whoa.

So I decided to just forget about the cabin and write about today. Today, Paul is gone-a-fishin'. He took Jonathan, and Benjamin, and our friend Thomas and his son William. That means I have little twins Sebastian and Linnea here, because their mama is at volleyball camp, where lots of my girls are.

Volleyball camp...400 girls from lots of countries, here to play and get to know each other. I had thought I would have some time to myself during this event, but ha. Thursday little Miss Lydia was here for the day. She got here at six a.m.. We visited great-grandma (Paul's mom), and we went to the grocery store. She was delightful, a chocolate milk and a plastic boat made her happy. We went in the pool, and played on the deck.

Friday, Ben was moving his stuff out of Grandma's garage. He rented a moving van, and some of us went over there to help him. I mostly kept Grandma company, ha. Then we went to his new house, where he and some of the boys unloaded, and I grilled up some lunch: hamburgers, hot dogs, coneys. Ashley made a salad and we had a first picnic at his new house. He is still not totally moved in yet, there are some renovations to do, but pinch me, I am still in awe that they live here on the east coast now, the new house is 9 miles down the road!

Then today, I have the twins. It's funny, I thought I would enjoy some "time off", but here I am with little ones, and it's quite fun. I suggested they put back some toys after taking more out, but they haven't done that yet. They're setting up dollhouse, but have already colored and played grocery store, and with the toy computers and the doll strollers and the pinball machine...

Sebastian said he had a good idea: "Let's go to Target and buy some toys!"

I WAS tempted, but nah, not really a good idea. I do like toys, and I do like small children who like toys, but nah, ha.

Here are a few pics from the cabin, randomly...

Emily enjoying the wonderful stove...TWO OVENS!

Morning jammy hugs with Anya.

A day in Lake Placid with Sonja, Evelyn, Mirielle, me, Suzanne behind me, Grace (Sam's fiance'), and Margaret. (We had terrible coffee, but the view was gorgeous. We found a Gap Outlet store, and the girls got a few nice things (6 dollar jeans!), and we got ice cream. Yes, I had some.)

The view from the coffee shop, in Lake Placid.

Grocery store nerd! We HAD to go into Price Chopper!

My two grandsons, Mr. Grant in the back, he is Sam and Grace's son, and Wulf, Margaret and Adrian's son. It was heavenly to spend the week with two babies to rock and hold. We all got lots of turns.

Auntie Emily holding Anya...

Grant and Grandma and his boo-boo lip.

Camille at the bar.

Jonathan with baby Elise.

Grace and Evelyn and Emily and the two little was Bar Food Night, hot Buffalo wings, garlic wings, barbecue wings, Korean bbq wings, all charred up on the grill...with mozzarella sticks and jalapeno poppers...

It was just a nice cabin...

Ashley, Ben, Evelyn, with some dessert skewers...brownies, marshmallows, and strawberries, drizzled with melted chocolate.

Lydia and Anya at the beach, with lots of the girls in the water playing volleyball. Adirondack lakes are so beautiful, with the mountains in the background...the water was clear and clean and amazing.

Four of the five grand kids: Elise, Anya, Lydia, and baby Wulf with his daddy, Adrian.

There are more, but I can't sit here much longer, I have things to do. Being gone from home for a few weeks has consequences, you see. The weeds grow, the pool turns green, the dust accumulates. We are having a graduation party here in six days, and oh dear, between preparing the food and cleaning the place up, I don't know where to start. So I'll wait 'til the last minute, ha.