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

Monday, December 30, 2019

...just excitement!

Our New Year's Eve plans are coming together, and I'm so excited! Our youth group is heading to Ottawa to celebrate with friends up there, so Emily, (Abigail is in Norway), Mirielle, Benjamin, Adrian, Sonja, Jon, Char, Cam, will be heading north, spending the night, having brekky and dinner up there before heading home New Year's Day evening. So Ashley and the girls will be either coming here, or Margaret and Wulf and Paul and I will be heading over there, and we'll have our own little party! I am heading out in a bit here to get some party horns and hats. Wulf and Elise won't really understand, but Anya will like ringing in the new year. Shh, don't tell her, it won't really be midnight ha.

Our friends are having a gathering, and yes, it's a little hard not to go, but we will have some fun anyway.

And on New Year's day, one of our besties is turning...63? Not exactly sure, but we are heading up to the restaurant on the lake where you get the chicken wings, one free for each year of age. I love this place, I order the haddock and bring home half of it. And with friends, so fun!

Anyway. Yesterday we painted at Emily's. She has a big old house in town, with beautiful vintage woodwork, which we took pains not to splatter. She has two adjoining living rooms, we painted both of those, and it looks so nice! We finished up, and had wings and pizza, then put the furniture back. It was a good day.

My girls are on a late schedule, a teenager vacation schedule. They stay up playing SIMS, then sleep in. They are going to be in for a world of pain when they have to get up for school again next week.

I am not watching Anne on this school break because her mama is a teacher, so I don't have to get up in the morning either. Last night I could NOT fall asleep, it was one a.m. the last time I looked. When I finally did, I had good sleep, but woke up at seven, and rolled back over. That is so nice to be able to do! I didn't get out of bed until 8:30. That's late for an old lady!

The new year is upon us, and I have thoughts and dreams of hoeing things out, minimizing, losing fifty pounds, getting another job, so I can pay for my travel addiction. I want to replace the tile floor in the kitchen, fix the hot tub, and renovate near the door, putting the pantry in the laundry room. So I just need time, money, help, and the motivation to last longer than the first week of January.

You want to know what's sad? When your dog starts to get old. Suri is seven and a half. Suri has a bad hip anyway, she was hit by a car when she was little, and had to have the hip bone, where it goes into the hip socket, totally removed as it was shattered. Muscle fiber replaced the bone, and went into the socket, and she is a little wobbly, but it worked. We have measured the dog chow and tried lower carb formulas, because she tends towards portliness. She has a few little white hairs on her chin, too. She is the nicest dog, with the kindest face, she is definitely part people. She is a hungry dog, she does a little dance-y twirl when you're setting her food down for her. She counter surfs when no one is around, if you leave a sleeve of bagels or a loaf of bread within her reach, she will consume the entire thing. She behaves like an angel when we're here, of course, whereas Sunny would be more likely to swipe a toddler's snack from the coffee table. She won't just take it when the child is sitting here, but she watches and swoops in for the unattended, and gobble and crunch. Suri is more well behaved. They are both part of the family, and as much as I hate the dog hair and the rainy days of wiping them off, and the way they hog the couches, I love them so much. They just make it a home. The other day, I mentioned that when these two are long gone, I would like a small dog, a portable dog, one I can bring to Target with me in a little doggy purse. Then I felt bad for even planning, because how can we bear the loss of these two, how can we? Never mind, we won't think about it.

Anyway. Time for coffee #2, then maybe I'll rouse those girls out of bed...

Sunday, December 29, 2019

...a little trot down memory lane...

What babies we were 35+ years ago! Me in my $13 dress and three dollar hat. Is it possible to feel sorry for the past you?

Married at 18 and a half, Emily was born when I was 19 and a half. (She and I are closer in age than she and Camille, who are 22 1/2 years apart)

Paul with Emily and Abigail, then little Benjamin.

Benjamin in the high chair, Emily and Abigail, me holding Mirielle...

Emily, Abigail and Ben in the hats Em made in kindergarten, then Ben getting a snack for baby Mirielle.

This is my handsome brother, Billy. If you've been reading a while, you know he passed away several years ago, died by suicide via shotgun. I know, it is shocking and it shouldn't be said. But it happened, and it's horrible. Of the seven kids in our family growing up, it was my sister, four brothers, the youngest of them Billy, then me, then little brother Casey. So Billy and I were besties growing up, and good friends with the same friends, when we were teenagers. This is a grief that has dulled from sharp and unbearable, like you can hardly breathe, to a major punch in the gut when it's remembered. Because, why?

Kathryn Grace when she was small, because she was so cute.

Kathryn, Molly holding little Jonathan, Suzanne, Sonja, Evelyn Joy...Margaret isn't in the pic, nor is Samuel, Sam is after Molly, Margaret after Sam.

My parents. My dad looked a little grumpy. He always was a little bit grumpy, but he had a huge, caring heart. My mom, she was the best.

Last evening, we had carne asada fajitas/taco salad, with all the fixings. Emily and Mirielle came over (Abigail is in Norway), Margaret and Adrian and Wulf, Evelyn and Molly too. Sonja, Char, and Cam were here, with Paul and I. Somehow we got into the old pictures and photo albums.

Today, we are going over to Emily's house to help her paint her living room.

Paul is busy putting hinges and the door handle on a door we have to replace for Joseph and Bethany, the one that Sunny chewed through when she stayed with them.

And...I can't keep quiet about this anymore because I am so excited: I am going to Mexico again!!!! Mirielle, Evelyn, and I are going in March, meeting Aaron and Riley there. We are staying at a beautiful resort, white sand beaches, pools and pool bars, several restaurants and buffets, all-inclusive. I am SO excited! I know, it seems like I travel a lot. But for the first 45 years of my life I went hardly anywhere! In the last ten years, I've been to:
(Iceland only for a layover, but it's so beautiful, I want to go for a longer layover and visit the hot springs!)
London, England (only for a day!)
Jamaica (twice)
Dominican Republic
California (like four times)
Washington State (like four times)
Washington, D.C., several times
Georgia. (on the way to and from Fla, stayed a night here and there, plus when Sam was in the Army)
Oklahoma (when Ben was graduating from Basic)
All the states on the way to Cali, we stayed the night in:

So you can say this: I love to travel. I love it, hate it. Hate the anxiety jitters, hate going through security, hate being away from home, but also love being away from home. I love the traveling bonds, the sharing of experiences, the memories made, the just plain fun of walking away from responsibilities and being on vacation. Paul and I went to Norway when we had seven kids, just brought Molly, the baby, then didn't really travel until #16, Miss Camille, was two, then we went to Jamaica, all by ourselves. We liked it so much, we went to Dominican, then Jamaica again. I'm trying to get him to come to Mexico with us, but he hasn't decided yet to yet.

Anyway, there are girls to wake up, a day to live, more coffee to drink...and ugh, dishes and sweeping.

Friday, December 27, 2019

...on the walls, he left nothing but hooks, and some wire...

I hate the blankness of after Christmas. I can't take the decorations down yet! The tree is losing needles, so it's days are numbered. All the lights in the windows are staying for a bit, it gets dark out so early but they add some coziness.

Yesterday, we went out and about, to the mall. Sonja didn't find the sneakers she wanted (one of her Christmas gifts was a promise to go sneaker shopping), but she did find a pair of sparkly pink Crocs. We also found the candy shop, half price Smidgens, peanut butter and milk chocolate. I don't eat them myself, but the kids were certainly happy to get some.

We then went to Target, because...well, because TARGET. We only bought coffee beans (espresso beans for Jon), a few clearance shirts for the girls, and a sweet little baby outfit for the new granddaughter we're expecting in a few weeks, Lydia's little sister!

What?! I had a coupon! Buy one get one free, so two were free.

Yeah, I'm just learning how to take a panoramic shot. :). This on Christmas, after all had gone to bed. So sad and empty.

And this is a few years ago...

Look at all those kids!!!

So Samuel and Grace lost their beloved 2001 Oldsmobile Bravada, in that accident right before Christmas. It was towed to a place that now wants $765 in towing and storage fees. The car only had liability insurance on it, so they won't get anything for it, now they have to pay, it's like adding insult to injury, right? It's in my name, too, so I got the letter stating what we owe. Life is full of fun and surprises sometimes. I just keep encouraging Sam that it's only money, it's painful as heck when you're young and starting out and just don't have a stash of it. He put so much money into that vehicle, and boom, gone. But God DOES work all things together for the good for those who love Him.

May I also add that once your kids grow up and have real life trials, it makes the days when they were babies and toddlers seem like a HUGE PIECE OF CAKE?

Here's the thing: I do not want any of them to suffer, at all. But life = suffering. And it's necessary, and unavoidable. It's a good thing I'm not in charge of the universe.

Anyway. Tonight, the girls are going to a sleepover, I don't know what Jonathan is doing, but wowza, are Paul and I alone again, for the second Friday night in a row?

Last night, we had a nice cozy dinner of leftover ham, warmed in the oven with leftover sweet potato casserole, and some freshly roasted Brussel sprouts, in olive oil, salt and pepper. We watched, "Kiki's Delivery Service", a Miyazaki movie. It's totally appropriate for kids, very sweet and entertaining, really a beautiful movie. Paul sat here and watched it too, really enjoyed it.

I am not sure what we are doing today. It's still strange to me, to have time on my hands, and actually have to decide what to do with it. For years upon years, I just spent my days strategizing and reprioritizing, changing diapers and feeding babies and making meals and washing clothes, sweeping the floors between loads of dishes, rocking babies, cleaning up messes...there was no such thing as free time. I remember that if I decided to try to take a nap, that meant giving up whatever cleaning I could get done if baby was sleeping, but if you're up with a baby during the night and have to be up all day with kids, you start getting run down, and a good nap is golden. The stars have to be aligned just right: baby sleeping, toddlers sleeping, older children behaving...I used to turn on a movie, or give them stacks of books and some snacks and tell them not to get off the couch. But of course there would almost always something or other that ruined it. A slammed door, a phone call...once one the kids brought the phone in because it was the police benevolent association, fundraising, but the child only got the POLICE part, and woke me up, "Mom, the police are on the phone!" Heart attack city, I tell you.

Anyway, I remember when I was knee deep in small children, practically drowning in busyness, and my mom told me that someday it would be so quiet in my house, I would miss the chaos. I snorted. I scoffed. I huffed and sighed. No way, no how, would that ever happen, it would never be quiet in my house, and if it was, oh how heavenly it sounded. But, she was right. I just wish she was still around to enjoy it with me. I will say this once, and I'll say it a thousand times, it is NO FAIR that my mother had to die at 69 years old. No one enjoyed my kids like she did. She was a good grandma, the book reading kind, the Remember- All-of-Their-Favorite-Color kind of grandma. She was a listener. And she gave children the time of day. She was a good example for me in that. All kids want attention, need attention, positive attention.

Ah well...what will today bring?

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

a very merry Christmas...

Eleven of our kids were here today, with a few spouses, and our grandson Wulf. We opened presents leisurely, after all had coffee, or juice, or cinnamon buns. I got a lovely candle and a sweater from Paul, a travel mug from Emily, and the movie Downton Abbey, a blanket, and some nice nail polish. Paul liked his Muck boots, but they're a size small, so he has to exchange them. The girls all got super cozy blankets, the kind that are fleecy fur on one side, and a few of them got foam/gel mattress toppers. Char got her new Vans (sneakers), Cam got her electric toothbrush. The older girls got an Instapot, Mirielle got a weighted blanket and a wine opening set, Abigail got a pretty sweater, so did Margaret. Jon got tools, and a cream whipper for his fancy espresso.

We made sausage and bacon, waffles with fruit, eggs, and Mirielle made strata, spinach and broccoli and cheese with ham. Then dinner, which was ham, Jon made his sweet potato casserole with marshmallows and pecans, and roasted veggies: Brussel sprouts, asparagus, and broccoli, and brown and serve rolls. We sat and put together a puzzle for a bit, played Bananagrams, and a huge game of Headbandz...

(It was our homemade version of the game).

With Wulf.

We had dogs galore here today, our Labs Sunny and Suri, Margaret and Adrian's dog Bunny, and Joseph and Bethany's dog Bella.

Some pics...

So all the older kids have gone home, just the youngest five are here, and they've all gone to bed. Jon is still on the phone to Samuel, and I can hear Char and Cam talking too. But it's just me here in the living room, and I am tired. I am tired because I woke up bright and early, before the sun even came up, too excited to fall back to sleep.

It's been a good day, I love having the kids here.

a peek into Christmas Eve....

Christmas Eve at Benjamin and Ashley's house! 12 of the 16 kids were there, and 4 spouses, 4 of the six grandchildren. We sang songs, Margaret played the guitar. We played scattergories, and a special Jeopardy game that Evelyn made. She also did a hilarious slideshow. There were meatballs and sausage, homemade breadsticks and corn chowder, bacon wrapped venison meatloaf (Paul, who else?), and those little yummy hotdogs wrapped in dough. Cheese platters and chicken wing dip and spinach dip and cookies and fudge and and and. I am behaving myself this season though. I stayed clear of the sugar, but did sample some Samuel Adams Winter Collection beers. We opened four, and between five or six of us, sampled them. I preferred the chocolate, but all of it was good. Then when we got back here last night, I did have a little bit of wine. It was a delicious one from Cayuga Lake.

Evelyn, Sonja, Me...

Kids are waking up, so...Merry Christmas!!!!

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

twas the day before Christmas...

...and all through the house,
my teens were still sleeping,
but not my spouse.

He was working from home, with computers spread out,
The countertop taken, I had reason to pout.
I had stockings to fill and floors still to sweep,
It's a day for joy, no reason to weep!

There are meatballs to be snuggled all snug in the crockpot,
And cookies to arrange with the fudge on the platter.
But my chair is so comfy, that's what is the matter.

The gifts ARE all wrapped, the shopping all done,
For the fiftieth time I wonder,
Have I forgotten anyone?
Don't ask how I know that it wouldn't be fun.

Years ago I forgot my secret Santa's gift,
Tried to pretend the random gift I grabbed from under the tree was IT.
My organizational skills are sketchy at best,
But there's so much to do, no time for rest...

My standard statement on each Christmas morn,
that each of the precious children I've born,
will get unequal piles of presents and gifts,
Share, please dear children, we don't want any rifts!

Christmas is big here so each of them know,
They are loved and so wanted, with gifts we can show,
Though we have so many, they are each unique,
That they know they are loved is all that I seek.

I'd need millions of dollars to show them them how deeply,
I love them, but instead I just do it cheaply.
As a mom of so many, I'm always compelled,
To prove to each one that my whole heart they've held.

The kids who live far away I am missing,
I long for the days with all under my wing.
But they grow and scatter,
I get older and fatter.

A poem about Christmas, became a love song,
I want each of them to know how deeply I long,
To impart that they are all blessings to me,
There'd be millions of gifts under the tree.

Baby Achilles! Little Wulf!

Sonja, me, Char, Cam, cousin Danielle, we went out and about the other day. Did I ever mention that Sonja passed her driver's test!

Well, there are things to do here, as comfy as my chair is!!!

Monday, December 23, 2019

a little bit of thankfulness...

Every where you look these days, bad news and more things to worry about. You can't watch t.v. without being bombarded with ads for 'scripts that have more side effects than the actual ailments. Politics, new laws, can be depressing.

(That's why we don't watch much t.v., and mute it during commercials)

But seriously, it's like BAD NEWS everywhere.

So I'd just like to say this: if you are reading this, you are alive. You have either a phone, a tablet, or a computer. You can read! You can see! So there is hope!

So here's what I'm thankful for today, in no particular order:

1. Freedom. We can worship our Lord, we can dress how we like, we can go where we want to, have as many or as few children as we choose, home educate if we wish, read and watch what we want.

2. The Labradors and the two kitties. Our dogs are not perfect, somehow they have developed selective hearing, if they are on a mission, they will give a backwards glance as they trot away as we call them. They listen MOST of the time, and are excellent in the house and with kids. Sunny WILL steal a child's cracker, but only if it's unattended. She will mosey up to a child who is toddling with a cracker, and try to get a lick, but won't just grab it from their hand. She takes things very gently, and both of them tolerate being sat on and hugged and mauled, although we don't actually let kids abuse them, you know what I mean. If Suri gets tired of the hugs, she just relocates, lies down, puts her big clunky head on her paws, and sighs loudly. And the kitties, they purr and meow for cream in the morning, lie in the patches of sunlight coming in the windows, and just make me happy.

3. My kids. I know, I have said it here often enough, but how did I deserve all these amazing kids? We had a 23rd birthday celebration last night for Margaret, my #9 child (wife of Adrian, mom of Wulf). Emily, Abigail, Mirielle, the three oldest girls, came over laden with gifts. Emily made a flourless chocolate cake and homemade whipped cream. Evelyn grilled steaks in the dark with a headlamp, and I made mashed potatoes. Paul made bacon wrapped venison meatloaf.

4. I'm not done about the kids ha. They bring such joy and fun and light when they visit, and the ones still at home are delightful too. The two youngest, Miss Char and Miss Cam have done so well in school, I am so proud of them. Sonja is doing fantastically well in school too.

5. I am thankful for Paul. He is the head of the household, but we are partners. He doesn't put his foot down, he asks me what I think. He has so much wisdom and guidance for the older kids. They know they'll get good advice when I say, "ask Dad." He is also fun, and funny, and extremely responsible.

6. Living in the country!!! I do not like traffic, nor do I like my Target store to be like Black Friday shopping on a regular day. I don't mind driving 20 miles to get to stores, nor living 15 minutes from Walmart. We don't live far enough out that it's crazy far to civilization, there are Dollar Generals within five minutes, but it's nice to live on a country road with cows and corn fields.

7. I am super thankful that I KNOW that God sends all things for my very best. That doesn't make it automatically easy to accept trials, there is still suffering sometimes, but there is a peace and rest that comes with that knowledge. There is a hope too, because I know He is doing a work in me, and that I don't have to be a bitter person, an angry person, a grudge holding person, I don't have to repay evil for evil, get anyone back. I can forgive and forget. Basically, I do not have to be a slave to sin, and that's something to be quite glad about. If this list were in order of importance, this would be #1.

There are far more things to be thankful for, like being alive in this time where we can form actual friendships online, and encourage one another, the internet can be used for good! But, alas, I am off to the kitchen to bake up some more butter cut out cookies. And to make a phone call to Target...I ordered a gift for one of the kids, it arrived, along with an email message that a specific item was delivered. I almost just wrapped the whole shipping box, but decided to open it, and it's good I did! The box contains an Our Generation doll bathing suit and swimming accessories! My son would not have understood why I gave him that, ha!!! oops, Target!

Saturday, December 21, 2019

when you get that phone call...

First of all, everyone is all right. Sonja came into our room this fine Saturday morning, to tell me that there was an accident, and why wasn't I picking up my phone, don't worry, everyone's all right, it's nothing bad, well it IS bad, but...Grace crashed their car, but she's okay, but since the car is in your name, the police are going to call you...ugh.

So Sam called me and told me the story, and the important thing is that: Grace is okay. Her dad was bringing her home, so I reminded Sam she was going to be upset, maybe a bit traumatized, the car is most likely totaled.

There's never a dull moment when you have kids, even when they're not kids anymore. Sam wanted to get ahold of me before the police called me, and I'm glad for that, I would have had the heart attack, for sure.

Did I go back to sleep? ha. This has been a rough week, me trying in vain to fall asleep at night at a decent hour, then barely getting up in the morning to see the school girls out the door. In fact, I slept right through it two days, yes I did. I've never been a "set an alarm" girl, but I had to for Wednesday morning, to ensure I didn't sleep until after seven again. In my defense, seven is like getting up at four on the west coast, right?

Anyway, Saturday morning, I'm up, but it's probably good.

For some reason I just feel so weepy and sad for Sam. The car was his grandfather's, Paul's dad's. It isn't worth much anymore, but it was the top of the line, back in it's day, with leather seats and a sun roof. Sam put a lot of money into it, just got new tires, and he won't get much back from insurance. He LOVED that car.


Paul and I went out to dinner last night! We chose a little pub called Prison City, because it's in the only city in the country in which there is a maximum security prison within city limits. He had a burger, I had the garlic parmesan wings, and three of his fries. We split a flight of beer, which is four 5 oz. pours, so 20 ounces between the two of us. I really liked a sour cherry beer, tasted like wine, and a dark coconut/vanilla bean. It's nice to get to taste them, without going overboard. We then stopped at the store for dog chow, and a ham for Christmas.

The kids all had plans, we were home alone, and watched a movie by candle light and the Christmas tree and window lights.

But, there still managed to be chaos and crashing around. Paul had spotted a mouse the other night. As far as we know, we don't have mice, but it's been really really cold here, and sometimes they will come anyway, he saw one and we all panicked. We are city girls living in the country, I think. Orange Guy (boy kitty) had it cornered, it ran under the stove. Paul bought mouse traps, but we didn't catch it. Then last night, Sunny starts in, nosing around in the laundry room, and Orange Guy joins him. O.G. comes out with the mouse, yay! Then lets it go, so he can bat it around a bit, as it's still alive. It runs down the stairs, and the crashing down there goes on and on, until Sunny comes upstairs with the now deceased mouse. I think kitty caught it and Sunny stole it, but who knows?

We think, since the animals made such a big production of hunting it down, that it possibly was the only one, and we don't have an infestation or anything. But never a dull moment.

One of my favorite places is the dollar store. We have a local chain called Real Deals, and they get lots of items from stores, most worth much more than a buck. But some of the stuff, no thanks...

(pics because, why not?)

We used to be young! Paul with Emily, me with Emily and Abigail...we camped in a tent that year, the next year we bought a pop up camper.

Anyway. Yesterday Anne was here, I had missed her so much while in Oregon. She played with play dough, and with little things (doll house stuff), and "helped" me make brownies. I tried to make cake balls, made homemade butter cream frosting, mixed too much into the crumpled cake, had to make brownies to stir in to make it not so sticky...still too gooey, but made them anyway. I also made more cut out cookie dough, might bake them today. Tomorrow is our Christmas feast/party at church, have lots of gifts to label for that. We're having Christmas Eve at Ben's house, with appetizers, then a dinner here on Christmas Day, because Jonathan wants to make sweet potato casserole again.

Anyway, I'm glad Grace is okay....

Thursday, December 19, 2019

eight degrees! (-13.3c)...with a bit of snow, and some wind?

And this isn't even the midwest! A few years back, when Mirielle and I drove across the country, I remember pumping gas in maybe Iowa, brr! In any case, it's cold here right now. The snow crunches underfoot. It looks pretty though!

So yesterday, Jonathan and I tried to get out and about and get some Christmastime groceries, find a Secret Santa gift for one of the kids who wasn't able to do it, and stop at the auto parts store to get something for fixing his four wheeler. The sun was shining on the snow when we left. I knew the forecast, snow was coming, so we TRIED to hurry. We were a good 40 minutes from home, although it's only 20 miles. So we went to Aldi first...avocados, chicken (boneless thighs for 85 cents a pound!), heavy cream, butter ($1.99 a pound for butter!), Brussel sprouts, broccoli, asparagus, chocolate, eggs...a good cartful.

Then Target, where we walked around in circles, me not wanting to leave until we checked off the items on our list, wanting to hurry to get home before the snow started falling, but not wanting to have to go shopping again before Christmas. We were in line when someone commented that it was snowing. Dang, I had wanted to beat it. Target is to the east of us, so we would have to drive home right into the wind, and when that wind contains snow that is coming 1 to 2 inches an hour, it's not fun.

We stopped for gas, then at the auto parts store, and made our way home. I wouldn't call it treacherous, although it was for a bit here and there, in places where the snow just blows across the road, and there were a few whiteouts. The car in front of us didn't have it's lights on, and I couldn't believe how many vehicles passed us with no lights on. It was hard to see! This was in daylight, I'm glad it wasn't at night!

Home, ah home. We finished up some gift wrapping, then started in on frosting those cookies. Sonja started dinner while we were still frosting and sprinkling, Jonathan helped her. Taco beef, Jasmine rice, fresh cilantro, tomatoes, green peppers, cheese, sour cream, black olives, tortillas or wraps. It was a nice yummy cozy dinner.

It was a nice cozy night. No one could go anywhere, things were cancelled because of the weather. I texted my girls and made sure they all made it home from work safely, they did. So we had all the Christmas lights on, and watched, "Eloise at Christmas", which I HIGHLY recommend! "Eloise at the Plaza" was a favorite of the kids when they were little. Eloise (based on the books), is precocious, spunky, but funny and cute and kind. Julie Andrews played Nanny, and was just golden. It was the perfect movie, even Paul watched it.

Today's agenda: get this house cleaned, find the Christmas stockings...I am planning to fill stockings for only the five kids still at home, but maybe I'll fill 13 stocking. (Aaron and Kathryn and Samuel: sorry, I am not mailing them.

I got distracted looking at old pictures...ten years ago, this was our at home, all 18 of us. The five boys and eleven girls. Now it's just Jonathan, Suzanne, Sonja K., Charlotte Claire, and Camille. I can't even think of how it'll be in ten more years! Cam will be 22...oh dear! And the one of Paul and I when we were young, ha!

This is just one of my favorites...when Mali had just had Lydia, and her nice brother Aaron came for a visit. Aaron is an R.N., and was working, thus the scrubs and stethoscope. He lives in California now, but he and Mali were very close growing up.

And this one, so random, but Camille was/is so cute, and Suri is the best Labrador, isn't her face just the cutest?

And that's it for today!

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

I'm dreaming of a....

white Christmas...

Yesterday was cookie baking day. I made regular butter cut outs, and a batch of peanut butter cut outs. They're in containers waiting to be frosted, which I think is the fun part. It's snowing out like crazy right now, so when the girls get home from school, some Christmas music, and some cookie frosting...

It was also go out and about day, when they got home yesterday. We went to get a surprise gift for Paul, then to Walmart to get some things. As much as I hate Walmart, and all the small town stores they've run out of business, and their lying "Made In America" campaign in the 80's, run while they were threatening and bribing small manufacturers to move their facilities to China, ugh, you can find good stuff for cheap, in Walmart. Secret Santa gifts, and then some Brussel sprouts and fresh broccoli to go with those pork chops you have marinating. We also went to Marshall's. Sometimes you find good stuff there, sometimes you don't, but when you do, ca-ching, ouch. Yesterday, we did. We went into A.C. Moore, my favorite craft store, which is closing soon. They aren't all closing, but several locations, going out of business. It's super sad to me, I haunt that place, and I love that place. I get the extra 15% off homeschooling discount, and they have good sales! My kids don't particularly like going there, but yesterday they were pretty nice about it because they know I'm bummed out that it's closing. I only got a tiny tree for $3.20, a few ornaments for less than a dollar, and two little sleds that I somehow think I'll find time to paint.

It's lovely and so festive in here, so cozy, I love it. What I do not love is the prospect awaiting me, the pile of boxes that have come in the mail, piles of presents to sort and wrap. I tried to keep a grand thing is I can type it into notes on my computer, and it's on my phone too, so I can check things when I'm out shopping. But do I log everything? No, it HAS to be challenging. So here I sit in the lovely morning, school kids out the door, dogs snoring, procrastinating the gift wrapping...