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

Thursday, February 28, 2019

are you totally serious right now?

So, here's the thing: we are getting our internet changed up a bit, (it's so slow it almost goes backwards). The internet box-y thing, the router, is of all places, in our bedroom. Now, you can walk into my house any day of the week and agree it's not out of a magazine, unless it's maybe a "before" picture, but my bedroom is in a category all of it's own. Do you see where I'm going with this? Yes, the terror is real, Paul texted me yesterday, "The cable guy is coming on Friday morning to change the box in our room."

Now my room hasn't always been so scary. About five years ago when Paul was in India for over two weeks, I surprised him by painting the room, redecorating it a bit, even moved a dresser that hadn't been moved since, shh, we moved in, and cleaned under and behind it, and painted back there. I put up new blinds, new valances, the whole bit. And I vowed to keep it pristine. Since then, I have gone in my usual cycles...the drape and drop, which gets unbearable after a few months, when things find their way to the floor, then you add a backpack with stuff still in there from the beach, and a box of pictures, and a few rolls of wrapping paper, a stray Christmas stocking (or four), a few shopping bags with good deals in them, Paul's four guitars, his bow, his tackle box, maybe an armload of things I didn't know what to do with when someone was coming over. So yeah, a nightmare.

Then I clean it all up, organize it, sift through my clothes, wash them, keep too many, put them away...and re-vow to keep it clean.

Well. I've been planning on doing a deep clean in there for months now. I can't just pick a few things up, that's not how this works!

I'll admit, I was fuming that I had to hurry up and clean it, fuming at the thought of the technician stepping on all of my clothes, but I was honestly quite thankful for the extra SHOVE to hoe it all out.

The kids laughed at me, asked me why I let it get that way. Suze said she couldn't stand that, would never let her room get that bad. Jonathan smirked because I've been on his case to clean up his nice new room, he has the new flooring and new paint and all. "Ironic, isn't it Mom?", he had the guts to say last night. (But he cleaned his up as I cleaned mine up.

A minimalist I'll never be. I see those vast empty spaces with nary a towel hung over a chair in some of those Marie Kondo-ed homes, and oh how I love it. But. It just ain't happenin' here.

I have a pile of things to sell on eBay. I have an electric blanket I haven't used this year, but what if I want it next winter? Bathing suits that might fit me again, socks I might find the match for, cards from the ALL makes me happy! It fills me with JOY! I just need more space to put it, is all!

Anyway. I am not quite finished with the room, I took a half hour break to watch the Jeopardy tournament last night, then finished up for the evening so I could take a shower and go to bed. I still have some dusting to do, and more vacuuming.

Who knows? Maybe our internet will be spotty and difficult and we'll need the technician to come more often...that might be terrifying but effective.

That's me, being nice. We got more snow, so I went out and shoveled a path for the school girls, down the steps and driveway. Wouldn't you know, the snow shovel that's supposed to be outside the door was at the foot of the deck steps, and the one from down there I found accidentally, buried in the snow. harrumph.

Sam is coming for the weekend! YAY! He does have Army Reserves drill on Saturday and Sunday but he's coming tonight and will be here all day tomorrow. As fate would have it, I have a lunch date tomorrow and will be gone for a few hours. My older brother is having a birthday, so my sister and I are joining him and his wife for lunch. We're going to a place up on Lake Ontario that has the chicken wing special...on your birthday, free wings, one for each year of your life! Some of us are getting to the point where it's well worth it to go there.

Sam will be teaching the kids for me tomorrow, he's an excellent history teacher.

Then, one week from today, I'm leaving for Norway!

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

the answer is: there is no answer...

Okay, here I am, sitting in my comfy chair for just a few more minutes until 2 year old Anne arrives, with her Little Einstein book and her pink backpack. I am thinking of something, mulling it was a question someone recently asked one of my daughters. It was, "How did your mom do it? How did she handle things with all the kids?"

My honest answer is that I didn't ever feel like I could "handle" anything. I felt a day late and a dollar short. My house was never clean enough, and ha, that's an understatement. The clothes monster lived on our couch for years. If you cleaned him up and put him away, ha, he would reappear as soon as you focused on taking care of kids or making dinner. It would start with one older kid or spouse who had to do laundry, and didn't know what to do with a load of toddler clothes, or some clean towels, or was in too much of a hurry...and on to the couch that load of clean clothes would go. I hated it, but I was SO busy, and it always turned into a mini project to put it all, this was only around-the-house clothes, the nicer clothes somehow always made it right onto hangers in the laundry room, because that was the most important to me, to have the kids clean and wrinkle free, dressed neatly when they left the house.

And I guess that's the thing...some parents can manage to do it all, but I couldn't. I had my priorities, and one of them was going on adventures, ha. But each day, though I might have had some semblance of a plan for what needed to get done, when you add in all the as-needed factors, like nursing and changing and rocking the baby, bathing the baby, changing the toddler, feeding the small children brekky, getting 10 kids out the door WITH their lunches and backpacks preferably, etc. In between actually feeding, dressing, washing, taking care of these kids, there was the monstrosity of the house to keep clean...I swept the floors every single day, I couldn't/can't stand small children/dirty floors. I kept them as clean as I could manage. The inside of my cupboards: mayhem. I simply didn't take the time to put things in smart places, just wherever I could shove it in when I was in a hurry. I'd sometimes organize a cupboard, feel like a queen for like a week, then slowly, it would return to chaos.

I had to hurry, whatever I did, HURRY was the name of the game. Because a baby is like a teeny adorable ticking time bomb. Whether that baby is in the swing, or in the bassinet, or kicking her feet happily in the cute little seat on the counter, that baby only had so much sleep time/contentment time, then...wah. That baby would need mama. So hurry and get those dishes washed up, hurry and throw that load in the dryer, sneak in and go pee, and get that small toddler's diaper changed, but hurry! You want to get as much done as you can, before you sink back into your comfy chair and nurse that baby.

Even cuddling and rocking the babies was a luxury. I did it no matter what needed to be done, generally. But the mind didn't always just relax and enjoy the baby, no, there was this little background rant playing continuously, mapping out the ever changing game plan...changing priorities as the circumstances changed....I mean, you can't plan for having to sweep up the entire box of Cheerios, or spit ups, or marker on the wall. But they have to be taken care of. Potty training 2 year olds can't just wait 'til mommy finishes making peanut butter sandwiches, they need to go NOW.

So my life basically consisted of continuously changing priorities to survive the day. There was no down time. If there was a nap to make up for lost night time sleep, you can be certain it was NOT long and luxurious.

I am not complaining, nor am I trying to make my life seem like it was unbearable. The point I am making is that a mama has to be flexible, let go of big ambitions, and tend to all the little brush fires that break out all day long. For me, a big thing was to let go of how I WANTED the house to be, and how it actually was. You can't let go completely, because that drive to make things better, cleaner, nicer, is really a gift, what if you didn't have it at all?

But it had to be balanced with contentment, if that makes any sense.

And no one ever stopped in when they house was semi clean, no sir. Only when it was at it's worse. I remember one of our friends stopping in on a particularly crazy day, there were building blocks all over the kitchen floor, a small child driving in a Little Tikes car, dollhouse stuff out, coloring stuff on the table, me up to my elbows making dinner, and this friend was just speechless....he just looked around and his face said it all. His own wife made each and every bed every morning and their house was pristine. (six kids, but still.).


I have no advice on how to manage things, because I never actually managed anything. I kept my head out of the water, and the kids survived, ha. No, I can say a few things actually...

Love those kids. Be gentle with them. If I could go back in time, and see more clearly that those kids were much more important than getting a dish rinsed...oh my heart. I knew it, but didn't know it as much as I do now, looking back.

If there's anything I gleaned from the crazy years, here it is:

1. Keep discipline short and gentle, least said soonest mended, is what Ma Ingalls once said.

2. Focus more on the positive, with kids. Praise and goodness lead to repentance. (Romans 2:4...."the goodness of the Lord leads to repentance..."). Speak right to their hearts, with the assumption that they WANT to be good.

3. Simply disapproving of bad behavior, and changing direction instead of backing kids into a one wants to be backed into a corner. Put yourself in their shoes, and show a child the same respect you would want. One thing I learned through the years was not to call a child out on their behavior in front of anyone, including siblings, if you can possibly manage that. And embarrassed child will act out even more. I've seen parents yell at kids in public, and when a kid is 10 or 12, you can see their humiliation, they are just dying. Ouch.

4. Be 100% clear and open about your own state of mind when you deal with your children. God wants to help, ask Him! Be open and pure before Him, confess your impatience, your irritation, ask for wisdom! Take a breath, acknowledge your own weakness, then proceed with caution, children are more precious than gold, and are gifts right from heaven. Yes, you're tired, yes, you're in a hurry, yes, that kids is being a jerk, ha, but to deal justly with kids, small and big, you have to take heed to yourself first.

5. Work to be free from what anyone else thinks of you, your house, your family, your way of doing things. Yes, that mom can keep her house spotless, but we can just have these ideas of how things SHOULD be, and guess what? This is your life. This day, this moment, don't waste it wishing things were cleaner or more organized, do what you can but then work on being content.

Anyway...Anne is here, Lydia is coming soon, Jonathan is making breakfast, and I have tons to do. :)

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

back to real life...

Yesterday was a SNOW DAY! Do you even realize how nice that was? Oh, I had big plans to get schooling done, and unpack, and organize...but the high school girls were home, and I actually went back to bed when I found out school was cancelled. Lydia wasn't coming over, Anne's mom is a teacher, so I don't have her little two year old self when there's no school. But the winds were powerful, gusting 50, 60 mph, with threats of power outages. Since we don't have running water when the power goes out, I decided to get up and fill pitchers and kettles. (once, a few years ago, I decided to stock up on some gallons of water in case our power went out, but do you know what my kids did? They drank that water. They used it to make coffee because duh it tastes better....)(I tried). Anyway. It was six in the morning, and I went back to bed.

Going back to bed is delicious. I mentally checked off all the reasons why I actually didn't need to be up for anything, and woo hoo, back to bed. I didn't sleep too much more, but I snuggled in and relaxed, and fell back to sleep for a bit.

It doesn't take much. Seriously. Sleep deprivation was the hardest thing for me for years and years and years. Now I just am in love with a good night's sleep.

So yesterday's big plans and ambitions went right out the window, as we binge watched Psyche and had popcorn. I made pancakes for the kids. (I ate some frozen almond bread, warmed up with butter and a teaspoon of apricot preserves. mmm)

For dinner, I cubed up the leftover pork loin roast, browned it up in olive oil with some taco seasoning, and served it with tomatoes, cilantro, leftover rice, olives, cheese, sour cream...Sonja browned up the corn and flour tortillas in another frying pan...they were good, the pork tasted like chicken.

Emily stopped over for a visit. She is taking her kitties to the vet this morning, so Char and Cam went along with her to help. I am leaving in like uh-oh, ten minutes, to take Jonathan for an eye exam....oops, off I go! Bye for now!

Sunday, February 24, 2019

wedding pics, and back to New York!!!!

Mitch&May Photography and Bethany Waters...for the above and below photos.

Well, I wasn't there, but what a lovely bride, my daughter Kathryn Grace! Congratulations to her and Darius! They are with friends on the west coast. They were married on Friday, then had a nice gathering on Saturday.

I am sad that I missed it, and sad that Kathryn has settled down so very far away, in Oregon. But I am thankful she has good friends there, and that she is so happy with Darius.

Well, we left Florida yesterday morning, and drove until we were both exhausted. He drove, I kept an eye on things. Signal lights are just for decoration, apparently, and cell phones MUST be used while driving. (Florida drivers are the worst!). We took a nap at a rest stop, just slept in the car for a few hours. Then, back on the road....all night, until that sun came up, then got home before noon.

Home...yay, the dogs!!!! Sunny got anxious while were gone and ate Joe and Bethany's door.

We owe them a new door.

Home. I wiped down counters, swept floors, and cleaned out the drawers in the refrigerator. One would think that I actually missed doing these type of things, but one would be WRONG. I do not enjoy doing them, I only enjoy the end result, ha.

Paul and I had to head down to the airport to return the rental vehicle, and I didn't cry. It was a brand new Chevy Suburban with seating for eight. Oh it was nice. With only four kids with us, we actually had extra room.

We stopped for some groceries on the way home, then home to....make dinner! I had marinated some pork loin roasts as soon as we got home, Suzanne put them in the oven on low when we left for the airport. So when I got home, I made some jasmine rice, broccoli, and green beans. I also cut up a tomato and some cilantro, yum.

Margaret and Adrian were here for a bit with little Wulf. :)

Suzanne, Sonja, and Charlotte went to a dinner with their sisters, friends, and friends from Winnipeg. Camille is painting, Paul fixed the washing machine (he ordered a new pump before we came while we were gone, he installed it today! The second load is already almost done.

It's so nice to be home. The doggies are so sweet and cuddly and glad to see us. The kitties are purry and cuddly too.

Don't get me wrong, I loved being in Florida. We went to the beaches at the Gulf coast THREE TIMES. We soaked in the pool, which opened on the very next day after I found out it was closed all week. (fake news, ha). We sunned and lounged and played in the waves. We went out to dinner once, and made some really good dinners. Aaron and Riley visited Grandma, and made a steak dinner that rivaled any I've ever had. On Friday night we celebrated Suzanne's 18th birthday with pizza and chicken wings.

Yesterday was her real birthday, so on the way home, we stopped to gas up, and lo and behold there was a DairyQueen there! Yeah, I got one too, not a sundae like the girls, just a cone, but shh, a large one.

I'm glad the driving part is behind us.

(this was after we were on the road for a while...ugh)
It's kind of nice to be home. We have school work to dive into, and Miss Lyd and Miss Anne, my three year old granddaughter and my great-niece, will be coming in the morning to spend the day here with us. I need to unpack, and a shower sounds heavenly.

Samuel is coming for a visit this coming weekend. Well, not really for a visit, just visiting because he has to come to New York for Army Reserves drill. So we'll see him Friday, and on Saturday evening:). But I'm not complaining.

The weather here in New York state, oh my! Wind gusts up to 70 miles per hour, snow up in Oswego, some snow here during the night. It was warm and rainy earlier, but brrr, a cold front moved in. I drove through some serious fog in the mountains of Pennsylvania this morning, it was just plain scary. I could not see where I was going. Anyway, I miss that 85 - 90 degree warmth already. It was soooooo nice!!!! Winter is making herself known this week, all week long. Highs in the twenties, snow, brr.

Ah well. Time to move it:)

Friday, February 22, 2019

sunny days go by too fast!!!

First of all, the pool in Grandma's neighborhood opened up, so yay for that. But yesterday, we went to the Florida National Cemetery, as per Paul's request. The girls were real troopers about it. I mean, when it's 80+ degrees and climbing, who wants to walk around in a huge cemetery?

And we went for ice cream.

This fine hot sunny day we are heading to the beach again, one last time, then going out somewhere for dinner to celebrate Suzanne's 18th birthday, which is tomorrow. Then in the morning, we head north. It took us 24 hours to get here, so ugh, a long drive ahead of us.

Today is Mirielle's birthday, and it's also Kathryn's wedding day. Yes, Kathryn is getting married out in Salem. And I'm not there. Oh my heart.

So much to write about, but we have to get ready.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

what? seriously?

Well here we are down in Florida, in the nice warm sunshine, and ugh, the pool in Grandma's park is closed...for the entire week! We found this little tidbit out the hard way, as we were all dressed in swimsuits and walking to that pool yesterday. So, we packed up and went to...

Clearwater Beach, on the Gulf coast.

It's gorgeous there. We parked in a garage right near the beach, literally took an elevator down, and lo and behold, the first floor of the garage was a store, it was weird, which opened up onto the beach. A hop, skip, and a jump. We brought a chair for me, from Grandma's, yay, and the girls put their towels down, and ahhhhh. The water was clear and not too chilly, we played in the waves in between getting a bit hot in the sun. What's not to like?

Well, it's an hour and a half each way from Grandma's house. Actually longer to get home, traffic. The drive is pretty, we saw a dolphin while going over a bridge. But it's a lot of driving to do every day.

Today, it's forecast for afternoon/evening showers, so we are going to a huge cemetery, and no, the girls are not actually thrilled. We might go bowling too.

Tomorrow, maybe beach again.

It's a bummer that the pool is out of order. We can't even go down and take a dip in the hot tub in the evenings.

Turns out, as much as I adore sunshine when I'm near the water, the heat and humidity pretty much kill me. When it's 12 degrees at home, I feel like a huge jerk complaining about almost 90 degree heat, but ugh. :)

So a trip to the cemetery today...well...Paul really wants to go, I'm just hoping I don't faint or sweat to death.

Also, when you're not a skinny gal, it's hard to find the balance of comfort and not being too slobby, when you're with your m-i-l, you know, your husband's mama. She is as thin as a rail, and when your tummy hangs over your shorts and your upper arms do that jiggly thing... when it's this hot at home, well, I just throw on a tank top and shorts, and let what jiggles jiggle.

Also, she's old, and she gets cold. She starts closing the windows out on her sitting porch, and then, the ceiling fan is chilling her too, and I'm like dripping. She keeps telling me I'll understand when I'm 89. The rest of the place is air-conditioned, but she doesn't like it too cool.

And I'm not complaining. I'm simply owning up that though it seems like I'm just the vacationing fool lately, it's not all sunshine and puppy dogs.

We do have nice tans though.

And thankfully, my faith that God knows just what I need doesn't disappear on vacation.

My family...we are not super neat. Not dirty, not that, but we are drapers and droppers and pilers. Grandma, she is neat, to a fault. She will bring one...yes ONE...empty can out to the returnables bag in the shed. She keeps all neat and tidy and out of sight. Then we come. And oh dear. With our water bottles and seltzer cans and beach towels, phones charging and a few pairs of shoes each. So we have to up our game, and be neater, so we don't stress her out. I like neatness too, so it's nice to be in a neat and tidy house. But shh, when I think of home, and leaving my coffee cup near my chair (what!!!? I'm gonna have another cup! And use it again!!), it makes me a little homesick.

I miss the dogs too. I really do. Their messy paws and whining to go out, then barking to come back in, but their affection and gladness to see me each time I come back into the room....

The thing is, no matter where we go, or what we do, we bring our own selves with us. And our own self is what determines our happiness. I can fool myself that someone else' opinion or actions is the cause of my distress, but it's really how I take it. And no matter where I go or what I do, there's always room for to be kinder, more patient, and get closer to God. It's nice to get away from so many responsibilities, and to enjoy some down time and warmth, and have fun with the girls, and spend so much good time with Paul, and visit with Grandma, but there's still always that work that needs to go on in my heart.

So staying in someone else's home isn't my naturally favorite cup of tea, but I'm working with it, and working on being thankful. Paul is plotting what graves to look for in the cemetery. eeks.

Monday, February 18, 2019

the sunshine state...

Surprise of all surprises, the boys from Oregon decided to come visit Grandma too, for a few days! Aaron and Riley are here in Florida too.

We stayed in a really nice place on Saturday night, and enjoyed the lazy river, floating in the sunshine.

Now we're with Grandma, catching up, and relaxing. Not sure what we're doing today...

Sunday, February 17, 2019

here in Florida....

Today we'll go on to Grandma's place. It took a full 24 hours to get here, driving straight with just rest stops, and one three hour stretch to snooze. Paul did most of the driving, thankfully. My eyes just won't stay open! But oh, that's a long long time to be in the car, even if it IS a really nice car. We rented an 8 passenger Chevy Suburban, and of course it's brand new with all the bells and whistles. I am not complaining about our 2008 minivans, but...

We spent yesterday in the lazy river and hot tub here at the hotel. We went to Disney Springs, which is crowded and expensive, but also quite interesting. So much to look at!

Everyone else is still sleeping here in the hotel room. I got up super early and took a bath, a long, water-wasting bath, very hot and relaxing. The shower and tub are separate units, and the tub looked super clean.

I washed my tangly hair, got my jammies back on, and here I am!

Sunshine. It's good for the soul. Good for what ails you. And vacation is grand, especially with Paul. My last two years of coming down here have been without him, he had to work. So it's really nice to have him, and he's so much fun in vacation mode.

It's nice with the four girls, too. Suzanne, Sonja, Charlotte Claire, and Camille. Who ever would have thought we would go on vacay with only FOUR kids? Jonathan chose to stay back to hang out and enjoy winter with his friends. They have a snowmobile, and are always adventuring. Sitting by a pool, the long car ride...he was a bit torn about not seeing Grandma, but.

I am absolutely reveling in spending time with these four youngest girls. It's crazy how happy it makes me to see them enjoy things.

Here's my dilemma: it's 8:30, and we have to check out by 11:00. I want to go out and get some sunshine first, enjoy the lazy river a bit. So do I start crashing around and wake everyone up or let them sleep? Paul and I pretty much missed a whole night of sleep, these kids dozed between stops.

I slept like a baby last night until 1:45 when I must have stretched in my sleep, and dang it, leg cramp in the calf. The weird thing is when I got up to try to walk it off (I also took some ibuprofen, magnesium, potassium, and vitamin D, and drank a huge glass of water), the other calf started cramping too. Car ride? Dehydrated? It has happened before, but dang, both of them! If you've ever had a leg cramp up, you'll know what I mean when I say: agony. It sounds like such a mild wimpy occurrence, but OUCH!!!

I did get them to calm down, and fell back to sleep. The bed is comfy, shared with Miss Cam. Sonja K. and Char are in the other bed, Miss Suze in a nest on the floor on one side of the room, Paul on the other. (Paul likes to sleep on the floor. I know. It would be sheer torture for me.)

Anyway, I have much to be thankful for.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

I had a dream....

...that I had a baby. The birth was quick and painless, and I pulled that baby up onto my chest, and he looked right at me with his newborn eyes, and I knew he was a baby boy without even verifying. He was breathtakingly beautiful, and I had no idea it was only a dream. (although the "quick and painless" thing should have clued me in ha)

Obviously, I am all done having babies, at 53 years old. But oh, I want that baby from my dream!

I think maybe it was Robert.

There has been so much in the news lately about abortion, late term abortion, ect., and it always brings me back to the saddest day ever, when little Robert arrived. I would have done ANYTHING to breathe life into his poor little body. And I simply cannot fathom why anyone would CHOOSE to TAKE life from a poor pure innocent little infant.

Anyway. When we went to Mexico, we took two huge suitcases and checked them, so we only had our backpacks/purses to carry. Most of my stuff went into Mariel's bag, which went to her house. I wasn't anxious to get it back, because, duh, it's winter, and that was all warm weather stuff...then wait! Yesterday, I realized that DUH, I am going to Florida in a few days and all of my summer stuff is still packed in that suitcase at Mariel's place in town!

And, to make it more fun, our washing machine is broken again. Lucky Camille did two loads of her laundry yesterday, then I washed a load of towels, and bang, it started blinking a code, and those soggy towels have taken like three rides in that washer, and it won't spin them. Paul worked on it a bit last night, but it's still not fixed. So, I may have to go to the laundromat tonight.

After I get my suitcase stuff.

So this fine morning, Lydia and Anne are here but it seems quiet because the little family of Margaret, Adrian, and baby Wulf just left. They are flying up to Winnipeg for a week because Adrian's grandma isn't doing well, and stopped here for a few hours because their flight was delayed. Adrian so nicely drove me up to town quick to pick up the red minivan, which is fixed, again, while Margaret held down the fort.

They are on their way now, and the little girls are playing in water. Because yes, I always believe the following: we won't make a mess! I fall for it every.single.time.

So they are quarreling and spatting, each of them having a hard time sharing. There's a Barbie swimming pool and some Polly Pocket dolls, and the battery powered sink with a working faucet. They want what the other one has, and on and on it goes. Anne has an older brother, but Davian is seven, and a sister but Grace is 15, and of course Lydia is an only child, so...they're a work in progress.

So the trials of life will continue as long as there is life, but in the right perspective, that's what they are: trials. We had an incident on our flight to Mexico, where the plane parked and everyone unbuckled and started gathering bags from overhead bins, when the flight attendant announced we were at the wrong gate, so replace the bags, sit down, buckle back up. Oh, the sighing and crabbing! As soon as all were seated again, the flight attendant got back on the microphone and said, okay, this gate has been approved, you can deboard the plane. Well. People were just so upset! I turned to my seat-mates and said, "That was just a test." They looked at me like I was from Mars. It's just par for the course to complain about everything, I guess.

Anyway, it's almost snack time for little girls, then time to lie down for a bit. Lydia spent the night last night and slept in late, so she's not as tired as usual. Anne has been yawning.

Off I go to fix some snacks...

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

snow day!!!! no school!!!

February in central New York state, ugh. We're right in the path of the lake effect snow, and it's coming down. Not only seven inches of snow, but freezing rain later? We are staying home today. I'm glad we stopped in Walmart yesterday and have milk, bread, and eggs. Today might just be a baking bread day. hmmm.

Lydia is here, and is spending the night. She is such a cuddly little sweetie pie. I brought home Kinder eggs for the girls, and for Lydia and Anya, and haven't passed them out yet, except Cam had one on Saturday. :)

The kids are still sleeping, and oh my goodness it's cozy in here. The fake fireplace is humming, my coffee is yummy, and the snow is coming down out there, making the house bright and Christmas-y. I like the sunshine on my skin, but I admit to being totally in love with COZY. Blankets strewn on the couches, lighting candles on the coffee table in the evenings, hot tea when I've had enough coffee.

There are building blocks and dollhouses, little trucks and cars, toy dishes and foods, strewn around our happy living room.

Ah well....maybe I should go put some dinner in the crockpot. Shh, Aldi sells the best chuck roast. I used to avoid both chuck roasts, and meat from Aldi, but I have discovered their beef is really really good. It's packaged shrink wrapped, and lasts longer in the refrigerator. Chuck roast with all the fat...well, that's what makes it so good, I guess. I dredge it in flour, brown it on all sides in hot olive oil, then put it in the crock pot, sprinkled with a packet of brown gravy mix. Add some carrots, potatoes, and a sliced onion, and oh dear, you've got a yummy dinner. In my book, there's nothing quite as satisfying as knowing what's for dinner.

Monday, February 11, 2019

in between vacations

Getting back to Real Life after a tropical vacation in the middle of winter isn't too bad, when you're unpacking the suitcase only to repack it with the same bathing suits.

Real Life is nice, hanging out at home and doing school, mopping the floors, watching 3 year old Lydia play with 2 year old Anne, taking care of the puppies, snuggling the Orange Guy, whom, if he could talk, would say, "Purring is my favorite."

This afternoon I had the opportunity to take Jonathan and Miss Cam for haircuts. Have you ever been absurdly proud of one of your kids? ha, multiply that by sixteen and you know how I feel. Seriously. But today, it was Jonathan. He is such a gentleman. He sat there talking to the haircutting lady (stylist?), Mr. Social. Then we went to the auto store for coolant and oil for the blue minivan, and he also knows how to open the hood and which place to pour them. Driving the blue minivan is no picnic. The mileage is creeping toward 200 thousand, it's a 2008, and if you go over 50, it starts to shake. The heat only works in the front, and there is a headlight out. We bought one, but haven't installed it yet. I told Jon I am not driving anywhere until we do. The red van, also a 2008, is in the shop. One of the coolant hoses came apart. That van only visits us, it really lives at the shop.

Anyway. We also went to Walmart, because we're crazy, and we needed milk and bananas and pizza dough. I got some chocolate for the kids for Valentine's Day, too.

We went into Marshall's while we waited for our appointment, to try to find a swimsuit for Camille. We did find nice sneakers for Jon for ten dollars, and a cute floral top for Cam for Florida for five. I also bought an outfit for Lydia, and one for Anya. :)

Then to the tractor supply store for a huge-0 bag of dog chow, the nice low carb meat and veggie kind.

Then, I ran into the dollar store and bought one box of cereal, one 12 pack of Reese's (for a dollar!), and 3 Pereguina chocolate bars.

Home...ah home. I marinated some chicken breast in lime juice, Montreal chicken seasoning, and olive oil. Suzanne made half moon cookies...oh yumster. I didn't eat any, but oh they're pretty. (they're little cake-like cookies that are usually frosted half chocolate and half vanilla)(but Size wanted them Valentine-y, so one side is white, and the other side pink, but all flavored vanilla). While Cam and Suze baked, I cooked up the chicken in olive oil, chopped peppers and tomatoes and cilantro. Cam warmed up some pasta, and I browned up some corn tortillas. Dinner was: mmm mmm good.

The day flew by.

Tomorrow, I'm supposed to bring Jon to an eye appointment, but the weather forecast....snow, icy rain, freezing rain, more snow...and I only have the blue van.

So...we'll see.

I'd rather stay home. I don't get bored, no sir.

Just a few more days, then it'll be Friday, and off we go...first to Jacksonville for a night at the ocean, then to central Florida the next day, and all week there in the sunshine. Charlotte Claire wants to go to Clearwater beach while we're there, we'll see. We are going to Busch Gardens, yay! I'm not big on roll-y coasters, but still like the parks with the kids, and I can tolerate a few rides, like the water ones.

I'm now only a pound up from before Mexico, so that's good. But I still have a long way to go. But this year is my year, I'm going to lose like fifty pounds. I am also stating just for the record that I am not letting my fatness interfere with my happiness. You could tell me 'til you're blue in the face that being thin wouldn't make me happier, but no sir, I do not believe that at all, I could just...wear.clothes. So it WOULD make me happier. But. At the same time, I'm not going to let it get to me and weigh me down, ha, isn't that a good one?

Grandma is down in Florida waiting for our visit. I hope we don't wear her out too much. So far, only four of the kids are going with Paul and I. One fourth of the kids, ha.

Anyway. I'm thankful for these vacations, and you know, it hasn't always been this way for me, for us. We never went to Florida with the older kids, not until like six years ago. And I never went on a real vacation, a tropical trip, until we were married for 26 years. 35 is coming up next month. Can you believe that?

Saturday, February 9, 2019

home, home again...I like to be here when I can...

Pink Floyd anyone?

Yes, we're home, Paul's home, it's snowing out, and the dogs are happy as heck we're here.

Today was a good day with my girls. Margaret came over with her little Wulf, and went to Target with me, and Evelyn, Suzanne, Sonja, and Camille. (Emily is in Ottawa with Jonathan and Charlotte Claire, they were going to skate on the Rideau canal but maybe were going to tour the capital instead).

So we Target-ed, found a few important things, then went to the craft store so Suzanne could get some yarn.

Then to Aldi, because we were running out of some essentials, and because we decided we needed Mexican food for dinner...I was having withdrawl, ha. So we came home and made taco meat (beef), chicken cut in strips in fried up in olive oil and seasonings with a bit of lime, jasmine rice, chopped tomatoes, homemade pico, cliantro, chopped peppers, avocado, and other toppings. Dessert: grapes, strawberries, blueberries. Mmmm.

Here's the thing, I really enjoyed my vacation. I had some drinks that were too sugary (White Russian, mmm. Frozen Marguerita, Mojito). I ate the cake, I ate the churros. (oh my goodness, churros? too good!). So I dreaded the scale, dreaded it. Three pounds. I felt like I gained like 20, seriously. But three, I can do that. I can get that back off. I would rather have lost three pounds, but oh it was fun to just enjoy all the things.

Tomorrow we're going to Connecticut for the day, and on Friday, Florida! I need to unpack so I can repack.

And shh, this morning I swept and mopped and cleaned up...I wanted to sit at the table and wait for my coffee, ha.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

the Santa Fe steak house restaurant for our last night...

It's late at night, and yes, I did put the brownie a la mode twice. The first pic is the view from the beach lunch buffet. Then there's Evelyn Joy, so sweet.

Our steak dinner reservations were for 9:30, so it was past ten when we got our meals. Mine was a Cajun encrusted sirloin...very spicy, especially at this time of night.

We had another lovely day here, swimming in the ocean waves and relaxing by the pool.

We managed to escape major sunburns, mine has faded a bit. We went through so much sunscreen.

So tomorrow morning, we'll hit the breakfast buffet for the last time, and then off we go on our hour + trip to the Cancun airport. Then we fly to New York, then Syracuse, where we wait for Paul, who will be arriving an hour later from Nevada.

Phew. It's been too much fun.

what vacation is like for a mom with lots of kids...

Here I am, awake at the crack of dawn, when I could be sleeping! The school called, the school that's a few thousand miles away, in the frozen north, where there's ice and snow, to let me know there's a two hour delay. So typical me, once awake, wide awake, I decided to do some internet know, how much do these resort workers make, how much to buy a house on the beach, and how much weight does a normal person gain on vacation.

Here at the resort, there are families with children. As much as I admire the babies and toddlers, and the older imps with their ice cream mustaches, I'm glad I'm not watching them ha. It seems so selfish, but I am reveling in the utter lack of responsibility.

Don't get me wrong, the kids are adorable. Yesterday we watched the dolphins, and these little kids were swimming with them, put their hands out when the dolphin swam by, and got rides right on those dolphins, across the pool, with huge grins, some of those kids just laughing their heads off with joy. Kids are precious. But when I see the sunburnt mom being led across the little bridge to the bathroom by the little monster doing the potty dance, I'm glad I don't have small children here.

But oh, if I could have taken my kids on a vacation like this when they were small, of course I would have. Water parks and ice cream stations, yup.

Can we talk about the food here? Yesterday I decided to behave a little better because the night before was a bit rough for me, I had heartburn (my own fault), and had to sit up and watch the hours tick away while the girls slept. So breakfast was an omelet and a roasted/fried seasoned tomato...then Aaron showed up with a piece of this flaky pastry like cream cake, which he insisted we all try...oh heavenly yummers it was good...we didn't go get more, but we just kept talking about it yesterday. He wants to go home and make one. Anyway...I was a bit better yesterday, no cake at lunch, ha. But you just sit down at the lovely tables in the restaurants, and drinks of your choice are served...the buffets, oh my goodness! Everything you could imagine in a first class bakery, plus all the food! Steak, chicken, pork, all grilled up sizzling fresh. Salsas and guacamole, and every kind of fresh fruit and veggie. (Watermelon, cantaloupe, pineapple on skewers, works of art!). Rice, every kind of fried potato (hash brown, fries, wedges). Sausages, vats of bacon, ham, all sorts of yogurts, smoothie stations, soft ice cream, toppings, mini tarts...the other night we had lemon curd tarts in a crunchy chocolate shell with meringue...oh yum. With hot coffee...mmm.

For lunch, we eat at the open air beach buffet. The pico, fresh salsa, is amazing. I eat that with a few tortillas, some grilled chicken, a spoon of rice, some peppers...a nice break from the sun, and we are always somehow starving at lunch. We kept to our No Cake At Lunch vow yesterday, but today is our last day.

When I get home, I'm going to go sit at the dining room table and wait for my coffee, ha.

It's going to be tough, going back to my reality. I have not missed making my own coffee, wiping down the counters, washing up, and you know, all the maintenance and busy work.

But when I think of my girls at home, of my Jonathan and Miss Char, and Miss Cam, and the older ones, I am excited to see them.

We will have one week home, to catch up on things, then start packing...we're driving to Florida! The kids are extremely excited about this, and I'll really enjoy it. It'll be a far cry from this REAL vacation, but the joy will be there nonetheless...the joy from sharing experiences, and being with them, but not the joy of simply relaxing, ha.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

the Mexican restaurant...

Tonight, we took the open air, no roof, double decker bus over to the Mexican restaurant. I chose the pork tacos, sprinkled with lime...the pork was sizzling hot from the grill, the little tortillas warm, mmm. Then lime soup, which had peppers and chicken, and tortilla strips. The entree: beef and pepper tortillas...I did order the steak, and Aaron ordered the tortillas, but we traded Desserts, oh my! I had the tres leches cake (3 milk), there were a few crem brûlée, some Mexican ice cream with cocoa and chili spices, we shared them all. It was more fun than humans should be allowed.

Only one more day left. One more day of having nothing more to do than venture into the gorgeous translucent ocean waves and splash with schools of tropical fish. Nothing better to do than go on a walk down through the almost endless pools, and drying in the sun before re-applying sunscreen.

We have reservations at the steak house tomorrow night, and want to go bowling again, and we haven't played mini golf yet. Then the next day...heading home...back to cold and snow and brr, but ahh, back to Paul and the kids:)

the sunny days just speed by!!!

Mariel Joy...

The dolphins, Aaron, and our little friend...

Brekky, and the dolphins...

We start each day slowly...get up, dress for breakfast, bring the swimsuits with us...breakfast is lovely, hot coffee with milk, served at the table. Omelets made to order every day, I like green peppers and tomatoes, and a nice side of bacon. I'm trying to behave, oh it's hard, there are so many pastries and donuts and yummy things.

Then we mosey on down to get towels, and some chairs in the sun by the pool...we drink our bottled water, take a swim, get a drink, play in the aquamarine ocean waves, then rinse off and sit by the pool again. Lunch buffet, open air on the beach, for some tortillas and pico, a few taquitos, a couple of fries maybe...some back to the pool again.

Now we are chilling in our room, we have evening reservations for a Mexican restaurant. So we've showered, and soon we'll get dressed and head out.

We've been bowling twice, oh how fun!!

I'm actually cold right now, poor me ha, our room is air conditioned, and I've been in the sun.

As nice as it's been to totally relax, I don't think it's the life for me. I miss my kids of course, and my dear husband, who happens to be in Nevada for work right now, but I miss the dogs and almost the kitties too.

I do not miss washing dishes and sweeping floors, nor do I miss doing a load of laundry or cooking dinner.

It's eye opening to be among so many privileged people here, I tell you. I find myself so critical of the crass behavior, the drinking and general entitled-ness. Lots of people are nice, and I like making friends, but I don't ever want to become a snob, where I don't appreciate things.'s so nice here...:)

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

so nice!!!!

Another lovely day....too much sun!