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

Friday, September 28, 2018

where DOES that week go?

Camille and Char with little Lydia. We went to Marshall's to get baskets for the newly painted dresser...


(they removed the bottom two drawers so they could put baskets in...)


Yes, it's sitting in the kitchen/dining room. Looks lovely, better now than yesterday, ha. They dragged it out here to paint, and of course I helped them. They sanded it, primed it, and helped me paint it with a four dollar jar of Americana satin enamel from the craft store. I thought it rolled on beautifully.

Anyway...lots going on here, big surprise, huh? We're going to Ben and Ashley's house for dinner!

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

why pie? why not???!

Two apple pies...because we went apple picking the other day, and had so many apples. I started peeling them, and Camille found the butter crust recipe online, multiplied it by four (two tops, two bottoms), and started measuring the flour. She helped roll it out, too, and top it with half and half and sugar, because duh, it needs more fat and sugar. I sprinkled a bit of lemon juice on the apples, along with sugar and flour and cinnamon, and some butter on top before the top crusts went on.

Is it good? The house smells heavenly, and we just happen to have squirty whipped cream in the 'fridge. Diet, I know you're thinking that...what about my healthy eating? Well, first pies of the seasons, diet shmy-et.

Lydia is here tonight, she came this afternoon right after Anne left. She liked the pie, too. She didn't quite finish it all, but hey, that's what Gramma is for. And I wonder how I got like this, ha.

Today, we went to the library.

We took turns watching Anne, and looking for books. Charlotte Claire wins.

Home, and time to make dinner, ahead of time, for once. Cubed, dredged in flour and spices (rosemary and salt and pepper) and browned 6+ pounds of chicken breast in olive oil, then added water and some chicken broth, simmered for a few hours, added potatoes and mixed veggies, served with those little pop and fresh rolls...none for me though.

Yesterday, we had a big day. We went shopping for paint for those rooms that are getting moved around. I'll try to take before and after pics!

Who doesn't love a big home improvement store? Lowes, love it.

My head was spinning. We looked at flooring, we are re-doing our kitchen floor because we have so many cracked tiles. I can live with the aesthetics of that, but when the broken pieces start to come up and bite the feet, it's time to say goodbye to the tile I have absolutely loved having. It's too much work, and money, to replace it with tile again, so we are doing some waterproof wood-like fakey stuff that looks warm and homey, we hope. We are also replacing the carpet in two of the bedrooms with fake wood. But paint, oh dear, picking the colors! Jon chose rather quickly, but I thought Char and Cam would NEVER agree. But they did. I also got some paint, the paint I have been drooling over, Sherwin Williams Sea Salt, a quart of enamel for the door, I LOVE it. I'll take a pic tomorrow. I'm going to paint the front door, too.

Anyway, the days are busy. Busy enough. Joseph and Beth stopped by this evening for a few things from his room. The girls are really antsy to get moved in. Joe says he'll be moved out by next week. I don't mind, ha.

Well, four daughters just came in the door....

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

adjusting to only seven kids at home...

Everyone knows that you blink, and they grow up. You're happy to know the adult they've become, your child turns into your friend, but part of your very soul aches that it went by so quickly. You know you could have been kinder and more patient with the child that has grown up, and you wonder if you possibly could have appreciated him enough.

When you have lots of kids, this happens over and over again. We were even for a few years there, eight home and eight left the nest. Now NINE are out on their own. The two oldest girls here (Kathryn is 20, Evelyn is 19) talk about getting an apartment, ect., and ouch. I know. They grow up and leave. But I will never for the LIFE of me figure out people who can't wait until their kids leave and they can have their house back.

Don't get me wrong, the house isn't quiet, except for rare instances where it IS, and that's just weird. We still have kids here, in fits and starts, sometimes both of these lovelies at the same time. Here's my granddaughter Lydia:

She arrived last evening to spend the night with us, happy as could be. She likes to play "store".

Anne was here yesterday. She is a busy one, and if she finds a pencil or a pen, watch out. But she likes to sit with me and read books and sing songs and cuddle. :) I play with her while the kids do their schoolwork, and it' ain't too shabby, ha.

I do find myself missing Joseph at random times during the day, hearing a noise and expecting it to be him, then remembering that he moved out. It's not like I miss him terribly or that I'm broken up about it, it's just that years and years of having him around, it's hard to adjust. How can a mom be lonely during the day with four, five kids in the house? (Yesterday, Kathryn worked in the afternoon, Jon, Char, Cam, and Anne were here all day...)

It's not loneliness. It's that ache in my soul. The older you get, the clearer the childhoods of your children become. You can just SMELL their hair after baths, and remember them all in their towels, and bedtime stories and prayers, and the glee on Christmas mornings. You smell cinnamon buns, and you think of your kids waiting to open presents, because at our house, cinnamon buns = Christmas morning. Your brain cannot retain everything, so your memories are sifted and shifted and perhaps the stomach bugs and door slamming episodes fade a bit, and you maybe remember yourself as more of an ideal mom than you actually were. The Laundry Mountain in the doorway of the laundry room becomes somewhat of a joke, but you know it was a huge ordeal back in the day. The Couch Monster of clean clothes is funny now too.

People tell you, "They grow up fast", but no, that isn't happening in MY fam. No, my days trod and plod and oh my goodness, is it only eleven a.m.? How am I going to make it 'til Paul gets home? A few in diapers, one nursing, one being potty-trained, kids getting off the bus with homework, things to be signed and kept track of, and oh no! Library books not to lose! Dinner, oh what's for dinner?

The days are long but the years are short, they say.

When you know this and experience it, the poor youngest kids, getting so many hugs from mom. :)

Ah well. Joseph moved out, but lots of his stuff hasn't moved out, and there are kids fighting for that bedroom, ha. Our bedroom situation is going to be like one of those little square plastic puzzles where you move the small squares around to make a picture. One room gets emptied when girls move into Joe's room, we redo floors and paint, then another room gets emptied, we redo floors and paint, then one girl moves from room she shared with sister, and voila! No guest room for me, no sir, these kids see the possibly of an empty room, and they cannot possible share anymore, no way. Char and Cam will be the only ones left sharing a room. Nine people in a big house, there used to be 18. Four kids shared the room that Sonja will have to herself.

Oh well, time marches on.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

wedding pictures!

What a perfect day for a wedding!

Paul and I with Joe before the ceremony. I think he was a little bit nervous.

With Suze and Sonja...

My five-girls-in-a-row are now 21, 20, 19, 17, and 16. HOW? Margaret, Kathryn, Evelyn, Suzanne, and Sonja K.

Kathryn at the cookie table...

Joseph and Benjamin (Ben was the best man), waiting for Bethany...

Beth with her dad...

With Anna and Irene...

The coffee table.

Treats and coloring stuff for the kids.

The donuts!

Joseph and Bethany with Janette, Beth's sister...

Grandma (Paul's mom) saying goodbye to the bride and groom before she left.

Little Elise, Ben and Ashley's baby, my sweet granddaughter.

There are more pics, and more stories, what a day! Emily and I prepared the brisket, the secret ingredient was beer, a bottle of Heinekin in each pan, and tomato paste, brown sugar, chili powder, salt, and garlic. Several hours later, oh yummers. We also served pulled pork. The macaroni and cheese turned out amazing, Mariel made it. We served up 98 bowls of salad before the buffet, Emily made the dressing, I don't like dressing, but this was really good.

It was a lot of work. I was in the kitchen until it was time to get dressed for the ceremony (4:30), then back in the kitchen to help plate the salads, until I voiced that I was missing the cookies and milk, ha, which was the welcome snack in the foyer. I was then kicked out of the kitchen, and friends pitched in and got everything done.

The cookies were good. :)

Anyway, the wedding was a success, and phew, it's over. Now I just have to deal with the fact that Joseph isn't going to walk into the kitchen this morning and eat all the bacon...:(

Saturday, September 22, 2018

tears of joy...and sadness! and adventures...

First, the adventures. We went apple picking yesterday...

With my homeschooled kids (and little Lydia!)...Jon towers over me now, and Charlotte Claire and Camille are growing up! They are 14, 12, and 10 now.

Kathryn (Aunt Kathryn!) with Lydia

Jonathan and Char.

Lydia loves apple picking. She delights that they are on the trees, and that she can take bites of them.

And then into the little store for some apple cinnamon donuts, made fresh daily, and no sir, I did not have even a bite. Target!

Sometimes they get slushies:)

Lydia was happy with a banana.

And I was happy with an iced coffee from Starbucks, thank you, Kathryn. It was a happy drive home, with Lydia singing the entire way. Sometimes she doesn't like anyone to sing with her, sometimes she asks us all to sing along. She also sang her way through the store, she cares not a whit what anyone thinks of her, so refreshing, huh?

And...the sadness...which is also joyful...Joseph is moving out. This will be the last morning he wanders upstairs and refills my coffee for me. He is 27, and has never lived anywhere but home, except for three months in Norway a few years back. He works from home, he's an artist and does contract work. He bought a car, and a house in town, and has been moving his things out all week.

I WILL see him, he isn't disappearing, but it'll never be the same. He's making his own home, this will be a place that he'll visit. He's not a little boy anymore, but to a mama, the years go by so fast, and looking back, the memories seem like yesterday, and he was just born. I got to the hospital to have him at a quarter to noon, and he was born at a quarter to midnight, on a 95 degree day in May. He was chill from birth, he stretched those long legs right out of those swaddling blankets. He has always been gentle and mild, and compassionate. He hasn't given me a hard time about anything. He has humor and sarcasm, but goodness, too. When he was little, he was always making something, and I remember when he figured out that Aunt Cheryl, my sister, would buy him things from the craft store. He always wanted feathers, he couldn't have too many of them. He went through a very long fascination with Native Americans, and made costumes and headdresses. When he was in first grade, he made a Superman "S" to put on his shirt, and all the kids in his class wanted them, so his teacher so kindly let all of her students wear them on their shirts.

He was a funny kid. Little boys have a reputation for being wild and crazy, and he was a bit wild with Aaron and Sam and big brother Ben, and all his sisters, but in a silly way, not a violent or breaking-things way. They played in the woods, and they played house with their sisters, and they played huge games of hide and seek, and of course Run and Scream, which involved them turning out all the lights and running around screaming, hiding and jumping out at each other. This was not my favorite game.

Anyway, today, he is getting married. Last night we did some wedding set up. I'll take lots more pics today!

Abigail and Char were setting the tables.

Evelyn is making flower crowns for the bride and the flower girls. I set up the cookies and milk table, and we put some yummy rub on the pork roasts. Emily is putting them in the oven now. Evelyn and I are headed out the door soon to put finishing touches on lots of things, and put those beef briskets in the oven. So many loose ends, I forgot to buy the onions and the tomato stuff for the briskets, but oh so thankfully, Margaret is going out to pick up the donuts and the fresh rolls, so she is going to get the forgotten items. I still have to buy like ten bags of ice, but that's it, hopefully!

Bye for now, and have a very nice first day of autumn, it's chilly here in the northeast!!!!

Friday, September 21, 2018

on sneakin' out the door all by my lonesome...

I'm the first to shout the merits and the blessings of having a huge-0 family. I love the noise and the fun and the goodness, but shh, going out and about all by my lonesome...aaahh.

Yesterday I decided not to drag anyone with me. I had to shop for food for the wedding, and as helpful as small children can sometimes be, they get antsy. So I went alone. And I found myself telling no one in particular in the aisles, "I'm hurrying, just need a few more things. Almost done."

I had lots of thinking to do, decisions to make, multiple stores to run into. And I enjoyed every minute of it, except for my aching feetsies.

I got home, and ta-da! It was time to drag the groceries in that I bought for home, because I couldn't just go to all of those stores without buying some bread and butter and coffee and and and for here, could I? There was just enough time to fill 100 little bags with Swedish Fish and Sour Patch Kids and tie them with little ribbons, for wedding favors...(Bethany loves them). Then time to drive Kathryn to work, at the pizza shop in town, then home to get a coffee to go, pack up the mixer and Suzanne and Camille, and to the church to bake cookies.

We stopped and got 20 chicken wings and two slices of pizza (for Suze and Cam!), I had to bribe them to come help me, ha. Suzanne actually will help with anything she can, she's a sweetheart and such a good girl. Cam is too, of course, but she was much more willing when I promised wings.

We made two triple batches of chocolate chip cookies. The bridal couple requested cookies and milk as a welcome snack, served between the ceremony and the wedding dinner/feast. There are probably a few hundred cookies, and they're good. We only over-baked one tray:) So cookies and milk, ice water, and coffee...

Home...ah, home. I was home by 8:20...I had just enough time to put my feet up for a few minutes before it was time to pick Kathryn up at work. She does drive, we just don't always have enough vehicles, and she works only five miles away.

I still need a few things for wedding food, and we have to do so much this evening. We have beef brisket and pork roasts that need to be seasoned (rubbed), and dishes to wash and tables to set. It's going to be a lovely wedding, and I promise to get lots of pics! Especially of the cookies and milk! It's going to be so warm and welcoming.

And it's going to be the first day of fall, chilly-ish, high 62 degrees (16.6c).

This fine morning, the wind is blowing and it's gorgeous outside. We might do something fun after school work is done...:)

Thursday, September 20, 2018

happy thursday!

It's chilly this morning, real autumn weather breaking in. The sad thing is the pool, Jonathan asked the other day if he should turn on the filter...nah, don't bother. Even if it gets really hot again, the water will be too cold. :(

The leaves are starting to turn, and yes, it's pretty, and I do have a few sweaters I like, and I actually bought some rainboots, which I am excited to wear, but wah. I like summer.

The wedding is the day after tomorrow. Guess who is going shopping today to buy the food? Uh-huh, I am. I am also considering going back and buying a dress I tried on but didn't buy because it was too big. Can I take it in? Will I have time? hmm.

So much to do and so little time, but it's better than having nothing to do and lots of time, right? One of these days though, one rainy chilly day, maybe I'll lie in bed with a good book...

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

a trip to costco??!!!!

Yes, don't mind if I do! Emily renewed our joint membership and wished me a Merry Christmas. She had yesterday off, my sweet nurse practitioner daughter. Can you tell I'm so proud of her? She's worked very hard to get where she is, and I think she's happy. She certainly liked finding this cider yesterday...

We brought Jonny along too, and he found new snow pants. There are just too many good things at Costco. We browsed the home section, and the bathroom faucets! The flooring! Emily found a decent shoe shelf, which she didn't realize how much she needed until she found it. I bought a 12 pack of croissants, Camille loves them...only 3 or 4 were eaten, and the dogs finished them off during the night, oops, they weren't put up high enough. Bad puppies. They usually sleep in Char and Cam's room, but Lydia is spending the night, and Danielle...

Anyway, we had enough fun in Costco, buying some food for the wedding and trying a few samples.

We had lunch at MesaGrande. Who doesn't love a little chipotle seasoned grilled chicken with lettuce, rice, cilantro, homemade salsa...? Nothing fried, no carb overload. I ate half, and took the rest home to Sonja K., for a happy after school snack.

The search for a decent dress to wear to the wedding continues. I am not particularly picky, it's just that for my size and body type, I can't just wear anything. I found a dress in Burlington that I liked but it was hot, and uncomfy, and I looked like an old lady. Mrs. Roper from "Three's Company". I found one last night at Kohl's, it was the right color, style, and price (an online return!), but it was a few sizes too big, which is nice, ha, but it was baggy and I looked just sorry in it.

I have one to wear, but it's loud, and clingy, and I don't love it. I like quiet and billowy, but slimming, and it has to be cheap and understated. Wait, maybe I am a little picky.

Anyway. Three days to the wedding. And today, I have Anne coming over, and Lydia is here. It's challenging to do school lessons, but we work hard at it. I think you can spend so much time in life trying to pave the way for smooth sailing, instead of learning to sail around things, work with the things that come up, and do what you can.

Went shopping with these girls the other night...sometimes I wish I had all the money in the world to get them everything they want, but of course that wouldn't be good either. But they tried on these dresses, and I thought they looked so nice!

"Oh, get them!", I said, not considering that perhaps they were trying on expensive dresses just BECAUSE. My girls are cost conscious, and I assumed these were on sale or clearance, but oops, $40 each, um, then Charlotte asked, "Why on earth would you even try them on?" I did consider, but it's just a lot.

It was a beautiful night. We stopped at McDonalds for some dollar menu food, I had four or five nuggets, two fries, and a diet Coke. We haven't been there in ages, and they really liked it.

Tomorrow, I plan to do most of the food shopping, then bake the cookies for the wedding. Friday is for last minute shopping, the fresh stuff for the salad, ect. Saturday morning early, we'll be in the kitchen at the church, putting the pork roast and beef brisket in the oven, making the macaroni and cheese recipe X ten, cutting up the salad veggies, tidying and organizing and cleaning and setting up. The wedding is in the afternoon, the ceremony outside, and the forecast is beautiful: 67 and sunny. What a nice first day of fall, what nice weather for a wedding!

I am thankful for today. I can't throw anyone under the bus and blab on here about specific trials, but I think we can all agree that even on the best of days, most of us are tempted to feel sorry for ourselves a bit here and there. Maybe we try really hard and aren't appreciated, maybe we're on a different wavelength than our husband half the time, maybe we're a day late and a dollar short and perpetually looking for where we put things. Maybe our knees ache and we can't lose that last fifty pounds and our feet hurt. We all have our things. But when I believe with all of my heart that God works all things together for my good, how does that change things? My feet don't stop hurting, and my kids don't stop saying that Mom drives like a grandma, and it doesn't stop the five cent cans from being bagged with the recycleables, or the towels on the front of the stove from being left all willy-nilly. It doesn't put the shoes neatly on the shelf near the door instead of having them flung all over, and it there will still be a milk jug in the refrigerator with one eighth of an ounce in it because someone didn't feel like rinsing it and putting it in the recycleable bin, which is NOT where the five cent cans go.

The circumstances vary, and sometimes it seems silly how the whole of them can add up and make life seem gloomy. But God doesn't make mistakes, and when we look up, and pray for help, and listen to Him, there is so much to learn! He wants us to get victory, and to endure in temptation, and have peace. It's SO easy to see how someone else should behave, but salvation has to do with ME, and how I take things. Being a mom is a tricky one, because I HAVE to chasten, guide, encourage, and sometimes put my foot down, because I care about my kids and have a responsibility to raise them right, not because I'm irritated or annoyed.

Anyway, I am thankful for the trials too.

Anne just turned two, Lydia just turned three...they keep me hopping.

Monday, September 17, 2018


Cousin Danielle, Camille, me and Miss Charlotte Claire. We had a nice weekend at the soccer tournament. Jonathan played hard...his team tied, then won, then lost in the semi-finals. He was worn right out, it was extremely hot and humid.

Lydia at the soccer tournament...:)

A wedding?!!! In five days!!!? wow. My son Joseph is getting married in five days.

(Aren't they cute?) Bethany and Joseph...

They're getting married on Saturday. I still need to find a dress, but what's the hurry, right? Either I find one, or I wear something I already have. I want to get something for the girls too, Char and Cam, and also maybe Suzanne and Sonja...Evelyn and Kathryn work, so they can get their own, but oh dear it's always so busy and we need to get a break from everything and just go and try things on. Five days, ha. In that time, I also need to buy food for 80-something people, bake chocolate chip cookies, as we are doing a welcome snack in the foyer of cookies and milk, and coffee, and ice water. I'm really fine with doing this, I'm glad we're doing the food ourselves, it's work, but it's also fun, and it's a labor of love. We want to make it nice for them.
The menu is:
pulled pork (and fresh rolls)
beef brisket
Mariel's homemade macaroni and cheese with panko breadcrumbs
tossed salad

Donuts from the best bakery, down near the the town I grew up in...oh yummy.

So shopping a bit tomorrow, then Thursday, baking cookies Thursday night, Friday last minute shopping maybe, some food prep, Saturday putting the meats in the oven early, food prep, wedding in the afternoon...

This fine morning, Anne is here, being her usual cute two year old self, Lydia is here but still sleeping. Anne has the t.v. remote and is saying, "A cell phone!"

We need a library trip, but have two small children and only one car seat, so we will be waiting until afternoon:)

Is everything all sunshine-y and sweet? Yes, and no. Yes, with the right attitude. But there is a time and season for everything under the sun, and at the moment, we have close friends going through a huge trial. Dave and Angela have 8 kids, and Dave was diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus over ten years ago, has had spots on his lungs, chemo, radiation...their youngest son was just a baby when the cancer showed up, he has lived his whole life with this. Dave now has two tumors on his brain and is really suffering. He's been out of work, and his wife has been there at his side, and also not working during this latest ordeal. Emily set up a go-fundme for them, private message me at if you would like to see it. Also, you can read his blog at Cancer Chronicles. Dave is funny even when he's in the most challenging of trials. Pray for him and his family!!!