summer 2011

summer 2011

Paul and I, all 16 kids and Ashley, Benjamin's wife...Christmas 2012

Paul and I, all 16 kids and Ashley, Benjamin's wife...Christmas 2012

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

a little story....

Today, Jonathan Robert is 15 years old. He has been a joy and a blessing since the day he was born. If you've been reading here for any length of time, you know that Jon was born a mere 10 months and two weeks after baby Robert was "born", stillborn. Now, if you've ever had a stillborn baby, you know that feeling of bottomless grief. A baby should be warm and breathe, move, snuggle...not just lie there all floppy with the eyes closed. It's torture, it's heart wrenching, and you would give your very soul to have that baby take a breath and just be alive. But instead, you have to say goodbye. You have to wrap that baby tenderly in his little hospital blanket, the very same kind of blanket that all his siblings were swaddled in, while they cried and nursed and were marveled at in. Then you have to say goodbye.

Maybe I should have had more time to grieve, but when I found out we were expecting another baby, I didn't let the joy bubble up. I was too afraid to. I was the very definition of "cautiously optimistic". But when Jonathan was born, and he cried, and he was warm and alive and needed to be nursed, I was beside myself with joy, feet off the ground, floating, ridiculously happy. He was darling and perfect and healing, and we all loved him immensely.

Maybe it's not fair to Jon that our joy in him is tied to our deep sadness at the loss of his brother, but that's the way it is. And Jon himself can take the credit for being such a good kid. He has chosen to be kind, to be forgiving, to be gentle. He isn't perfect, he is very witty and nothing is funnier than mocking your mama, and he can talk back, but he's pretty quick to knock it off, and if necessary, apologize. I realize that when you're a teenager, your mom is old and silly. That's just how it is, too.

But anyway, today is his birthday. And I'm very thankful for him. For all of them.

The day after tomorrow, some of us are heading down to Fairfax, Virginia, bright and early in the morning, with our wedding clothes packed. Most of the kids will be making it to the wedding, and that in itself is exciting.

Monday, April 29, 2019

a birthday celebration, some home work, and and and...

Jonathan turns 15 tomorrow, so we celebrated yesterday. Corned beef, carrots, and potatoes in the crock pot, then three pizzas, (and a Keto pizza for me!). Margaret came over early and made the ice cream cakes with Charlotte Claire. (crushed Oreos mixed with melted butter crusts, then one carton of slightly softened mint chocolate chip ice cream with hot fudge on top, mint cookies crumbled on top, and some melted marshmallow fluff...the peanut butter one same but with a cup of melted peanut butter mixed with a broken up chocolate bunny, all mixed together and poured on top, along with hot fudge and some crunched up peanut butter cookies, put back in the freezer until party time...). (I did not consume any, except for licking the spoon after serving the mint...oh yummers)

On Saturday, we worked on the foyer and downstairs hallway. It's now spackled and sanded and ready for painting. The trim got a few coats of white, no more wood trim there.

But we haven't worked on it all since Saturday. I won't be very popular if I suggest we get moving on it tonight, but I don't care much about being popular, now do I?

Today has been so busy. Miss Lydia Eleanor and Miss Anne Beatrice have kept me hopping. When I take Lydia to the bathroom now, Anne wants to go too, which is a good thing...I brought them outside to play for a while, and played matching game a few times. Playdough, coloring, dollies, shopping carts...and lunch, and snacks, and and and. But, lots of hugs and silly songs too, it's a happy kind of busy.

I talked to Samuel on the phone today, he's so excited! This weekend, he's getting married! So on Thursday morning, we're heading south! The wedding is on a military base at the officers' club:). I'm excited too because most of the kids will be there! "kids", I say. They're growing up!

Anyway. It's cold and dreary here, the dreariness is cozy, but honestly, it's kind of....oppressive. It doesn't depress me, but so many days here are overcast and rainy.

It was nice in the middle of the day, Char and Cam and Dani did school work out on the trampoline. Off the damp ground, and the weak filtered cloud covered sun that managed to get through warms up the black trampoline...

Suzanne made peanut butter cookies with the little girls after school, and now is making ramen noodles with Camille, homemade ones.

I'm not sure what's for dinner, but there was boxed Mac and cheese eaten recently, and Jon had leftover pizza and a bowl of leftover corned beef and potatoes about an hour ago.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

snowy spring morning...

We've had some adventures though! Just Thursday, it was too nice out to get groceries, so we we dropped off our thrift store bags, went to Lowe's for paint, and...home to enjoy the sunshine! So that meant yesterday was a grocery store day. Lydia was here, she had spent the night. And I want to get that foyer painted, it's like having money in your pocket and wanting to spend it. So I started spackling, bright and early. Then Anne's daddy texted and asked if she could come here for the day. Okay. It would work. Grocery store with a two year old and a three year old, AND, we had decided to get the passports for the girls too! So I put away my spackle, and greeted Miss Anne.

I had to pick Miss Suzanne up from school early, as she was going to the prom with a group of friends. She was voted to Prom Court, and shh, I knew but couldn't tell her. I was invited to go and take pictures, but it didn't work out, and I thought she wouldn't love it, :).
That's Suzanne in the lavender...

Char, Cam, Jon...and the paint color we chose. Don't think for one minute that those kids just stood there and let me pick, either.

The foyer has wood trim around the door, a wood railing, and a wood board with shiny brass hooks, and a brass colored switch plate. So, we'll take those hooks off, spray paint them black, paint the wood white, paint the switch plate white, maybe spray paint the door handle black...and the walls will be Azure Snow. The brass chandelier is coming down, that'll be spray painted black, maybe new globes. I'll try to take some before pics.

Remember how I painted and re-did the bathroom in the fall? I FINAllY put on new drawer/cabinet handle/pulls. I found some clearanced at Target, $4.48 for a six pack, but they were a chrome finish. Hmm. The black spray paint was on clearance too, $2.38. So I got some spray primer, and on Thursday when it was nice out, I did some spray painting. I also re-did a Little Tikes plastic table that I painted last summer, it chipped a bit through the winter.

Jonathan and Sonja K. got a little muddy on the four-wheel. Sonja took this pic of me with Lydia. Lydia loves cuddles.

Camille, me, Charlotte Claire. It was quite an adventure to get passports done with the two small girls. They were really good, and the ladies who work at the county clerk's office are super nice. They gave us a room with a table and chairs to fill out the papers in, and paper and pens to the little girls to keep busy. They even took a pic of Lyd and Anne when the girls got their photos taken! It feels nice to have this accomplished. Paul had to meet me there, as both parents have to sign for a child's passport.

We went to Aldi with the girls too, and when I pulled into the parking lot, Anne said, "No, I don't wanna go to this place!" The whole time we were driving, she chattered about going to the library, because that's where I usually bring her. She was actually not bad in there at all, once I opened a box of vanilla wafers. Don't worry, I bought them.

Today, it's snowing. Seriously. It's cold and dark and snowy. harrumph. Margaret is coming over with little Wulf, and we might go to the big mall in the big city...

Thursday, April 25, 2019

good morning!

I'll be honest with you. I don't always feel sunshine-y in the morning. Especially when I've been working really hard for THREE WHOLE DAYS, and the meany-a$$ scale didn't budge. I know, three days is a long time. But, I walked anyway this morning:)

It's lovely out there today! Still a bit chilly, but the brilliant blue of the sky, my favorite color!

The buds! It's really coming, the warm weather! And that old climbing tree, oh dear, almost cried when I saw, stop growing up so fast!

Anyway. Today is the first day this week I don't have any small children, but Lydia will be coming this afternoon to spend the night. So today, I need to get some things done, fun things, like picking out some paint for the foyer and downstairs hallway. Anne was here yesterday and the day before, and she's a sweetie pie. She loves me. She likes to sit with me and sing songs (I sing Itsy Bitsy Spider and use a big black hair clip for the spider, she loves it.). She follows me around and asks lots of questions, and always wants to go outside. It's not difficult, but it is nearly impossible to do anything else when you're watching her, mostly because hey, she's not my child, and I have to watch her very diligently, does that make sense? So I thought of this: SO many people have commented to me through the years, "I only, and THEY drive me crazy, how do you do it?"...or some variation of this...they have one child, or two, or four....and maybe they don't drive them crazy, maybe the mom just can't seem to keep up, or get anything done, or whatever. So just for the record, having only one or two small children here during the day: it's all relative, you can't get much done with small children in the house.

So today seems like a real day off! I have to get lots of schooling stuff done while we can concentrate...when the small children are here, the homeschool kids spend lots of time in their rooms doing work. But when the small children aren't here, I can actually work with them more, but, alas, it a day off:)

Ah well, things do do...I am going to make a meal plan for the next five days, and and and. But oh, last night, I made the yummiest dinner! We have so much ham still, I wanted to make something using it. So I decided on's what I did:
9x13 glass pan, put some butter in it, about third stick, cut up, and a scoop of bacon grease (we save it when we cook bacon, in a mason jar in the 'fridge). Put pan in oven while it preheats, until fat melts and coats pan. I sprinkled in some almond flour, and some coconut flour, and put the pan back in the oven. I microwaved a bag of frozen broccoli florets for three minutes, then cubed up lots of ham. 9 eggs whipped up with one cup of half and half, a cup of shredded cheddar....
Remove glass baking dish from oven, add ham and broccoli, the pour egg mixture over top, and sprinkle with more cheddar cheese, salt, and pepper, and into the 375 took about 40 minutes, but keep an eye on it. It was SO GOOD. Seriously flavorful. So easy, nutritious, and quick.

Anyway...the girls are up, and we have things to do...

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

it's a start!!!

It's spring, so here's to new beginnings! I walked again this morning, but I'm telling you, it's a teeny tiny walk, just a half mile, mostly because of my knee. I want to strengthen other muscles without wearing it out. I've found it only has so many steps in a day before it really aches. So, leg lifts, exercises and that little morning walk, two days in a row, ha.

It's a gloomy sort of day, the exact kind of day I just love. A little bit of sunshine would be nice, but.

Yesterday, I somehow managed to clean the laundry room. Anne and I went outside for a bit, and the girls did school work. We did some math, then they did other things on their own. When the older girls got home from school, they helped with Anne so I could really get some stuff done in there. There are lots of bags to take to the thrift store now. Blankets and comforters, clothes and more clothes, and the laundry room looks like a lady who lost a hundred pounds. It said, "I was always the same laundry room, there's just less of me now."

Charlotte Claire is up now and is telling me her bye for now.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

home renovations...!!!!!

My favorite! Not doing the work, of course, but the end result, oh my.

This fine morning, I woke up at five a.m. to use the bathroom, and why oh why didn't I just stay up? I tossed and turned and enjoyed my comfy bed, then dozed off right as I had to get up. I didn't feel like going for a walk, but I did. A teeny one, but still. I fussed and protested, not sure why, but even as I headed down the driveway, my lazy brain was telling me it wasn't a good day for a walk. Anyone else have such battles with exercise?

Our poor deck! Only one winter, and the nice sealant is peeling off! We applied really good stuff too, Behr. I wonder if I should send a pic to the company, as it's supposed to be five year finish.

But, do you SEE those trees out there? The leaves are unfurling, and our Tree-top resort will be in session soon!

Okay...home renovation. Before and after. Fixer upper. We don't have cable, and only watch the HGTV when we stay in hotels or are at Gramma's house in Florida, which is prob a good thing. But, we are going to be doing some things around here, and I am very excited! Look at this foyer...what were we thinking with the yellow?

That dusty chandelier....Paul is going to take that down for me, I'll clean it off, and spray paint it...either white or black...and maybe get new glass globes for it. I could buy a new one, but what fun is that? He's going to paint the ceiling, and help us paint this foyer, I won't get on a ladder, no sir, no how, no way.

We're going to paint the trim white, and the walls...not sure yet. A very pale grayish blue, or green maybe. I don't want it too dark. But not as bright as the yellow, ha.

We're painting first, then the stairs are getting new carpet, probably dark gray. I've read and read about using the laminate on the stairs, and headache, and pricey for the bumpers ledge things you have to buy, ect. So new carpet it is. Then, the floor will be re-done with the wood looking vinyl plank flooring. The downstairs hall, the upstairs hall, and the kitchen will all be getting new floors. Sooooo, I also want to paint the downstairs hallway, as well as the trim down there.

I have Anne coming today, so I won't start until Thursday.

Yesterday, I went through the coats and snow pants hanging there in the foyer. We don't have tons of kids here playing in the snow anymore, and we simply don't need to hang on to the plethora of cold weather gear. If the kids here have a pair of snow pants each, and an extra play jacket, we're good. I weeded through the mittens, gloves, hats, and scarves, and saved just a few things, bagged up all the rest. The shoe area too...everything that's still nice and grown out of, or, you know how girls are, they just had to have them, and....there they sit. So lots of bags went to the thrift store. The good thing is that Suzanne and I actually brought those bags and dropped them off last night, so they're not sitting here.

The kids took back lots of cans and bottles yesterday too. That's always nice.

Anyway, I am in a spring purge mood, and we all know it won't last forever, so I have to cash in on it while it's here. I want to clean out the laundry room but good, be radical. For so many years, we needed so much extra bedding, now...we have what's on the beds, and only really need a few extra sets in case of company, but we usually wash what we have, and put it back on. But the laundry room is overflowing with extra blankets and comforters and and and. And, clothes that no one wears. They keep their clothes in their rooms now, yet there are still so many things in that laundry, one of these days, so help me, ha, I am going to clean that room up nicely, again. But more radically than ever before.

I'm no minimalist, but it's finally dawning on me that we don't need all of this stuff! I got rid of a pair of old Army boots yesterday, they've been sitting in that foyer for so long, they were moldy! I said, if anyone really needs these, they can go buy more at the Army/Navy store. It's ridiculous. The kids grow up and move on, and the stuff that's left here...

We had a nice Easter, lots of ham, applesauce, Miriells's sweet potato casserole with marshmallows on top, oh dear yum. But, I have renewed my vow to eat healthy! Again, I know, but remember, I am not giving up! No sugar. I honestly ate one, yes, one, piece of Easter candy, a little chocolate egg, while I filed the baskets. I made a decision to stay out of the candy.

I worked out yesterday, a wimpy work out, but I am so out of shape. I am hoping to go to the pool at the rec center tonight. I NEED to get into better shape. I get out of breath on hills, and want to be able to do things in life! Also, the scale isn't kind to me, and it's creeping changes are being made!!! I am not going to sit here and make excuses, although believe me, I have some good ones.

Anne is here...bye for now.

Friday, April 19, 2019

girls just wanna have fun...

Suzanne and I took a little walk yesterday afternoon, on this gloomy cloudy day. (Isn't Suze beautiful? She's my 12th child, #4 in the five-girls-in-a-row-in-five-years...just turned 18, graduating from high school this year...)

She went to the grocery store with me yesterday morning to get a few things for Joseph and Bethany. Beth fell while rock-climbing, broke her kneecap and damaged a tendon, very serious stuff. She had to have surgery this week, and Joseph didn't want to leave her to go get some of the things they needed. So Suze was a sport and went with me.

Then we had company, yesterday. William, Sebastian, and Linnea came to visit for a few hours while their mama was at a dr. app., they are going to have a new baby brother or sister in the fall! Anyway, I grilled them some hot dogs, and then we had an Easter egg hunt. My own kids have grown up and gotten all blahhh about Easter baskets, so I gave these children small chocolate bunnies and some's nice to see kids so excited about stuff.

After they left, my girls were antsy. Remember, Jonathan is in Norway, so it's just these four girls, Suzanne, Sonja K., Charlotte Claire, and Camille. They wanted to doooo somethiiiing. But what? I suggested we go to Moe's, but nah, a few would, a few wouldn't...a movie? Nothing good playing. Dumbo? Nah. Emily drove Evelyn home from work and stopped in for a little bit of dinner, and a a pleasant evening. We ended up watching an anime, "Arietty", which is based on "The Borrowers", which I read when I was young.

Today, we decided last night, we would Do Something. I suggested the Eastman Kodak museum in Rochester, that's quite interesting. Or the Corning Museum of Glass. Either would be nice...but I know they would rather go to the outlet mall, blah. It's warm here, finally, but oh so overcast and rain is coming. The ground is already so soggy. We need some sunshine, lots of it!

Camille is the baby of the family, she's now 11 and a half. She is SO funny. She misses Kathryn like crazy. Kap married Darius, and lives in Oregon. Cam says, "Kap used to do so many things with me, she was fun. Now, I'm just lonely." Lonely at home with only 3 or 4 sisters, yeah, I know. I feel the same way sometimes. Sometimes the house seems almost echo-y.

So today, we'll go do something fun. These girls of mine, they love each other, but do you know what they like to do? Insult each other. Mostly fooling around, but sometimes ouch. Then one will say something too sharp at the wrong moment, and one will get offended, someone will feel misunderstood...they "borrow" each other's stuff, but are also very quick to lend if one needs something. I try to stay out of their sneaking each other's stuff episodes. These end-of-the-line girls, these girls who have grown up without all the mess and chaos of lots of younger siblings and babies in the house, they are different than the older ones. Thrift store? harrumph. Yet they're not snobby, they just have been raised differently. They get out and about much much more, have gone out to eat much much more, they're just different. But one thing is for sure: they are growing up just as fast as the older ones did...there are times and seasons with each of them, and when it's their turn to be the older ones at home, I enjoy it as much as I can, because I KNOW they're not here forever. They're just passing through, just as we all are on this earth. I mean, it's traumatic, in a mini sort of way, to have a loved and cherished child grow up and leave home....but then it happens with one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine...and OUCH! One, two at a time, they find their places in the's a happy thing, of course, that they become responsible adults, but the void that's left at the dinner table, the extra spaces on the couches...

I still see all of my kids, except for Kathryn and Aaron and Sam, who all live far away, but the others, I see them often. And I'm not walking around all depressed that there are only six kids at home these days.

Anyway. Today we're doing something fun. Because life just marches by so quickly, and these kids of mine, they are just marching by too.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

the tea company....

Suzanne and Sonja K. and I went out to brekky this morning. Emily had picked up Camille and Charlotte Claire, to go on a hike, so there were only three of us. This place makes their own raisin bread, and the toast is sinfully delicious, and for someone like me, someone struggling to lose weight, someone who should NOT be eating bread, let alone thick sliced raisin bread toasted and slathered in butter...well. I shall not go to this place again, because I would not be able to NOT order the toast. That pic of the heaping plate, that was MY plate. I did give the hash browns to Sonja K., after sampling a few. I didn't finish all of the omelet, but that doesn't matter, because I. ate. all. the. toast. (I am skipping dinner!!!)

We had a nice time, then went to visit Margaret, she works from home. Little Wulf was very happy to have visitors. He slaps his little tummy when you ask him where it is, and can repeat things like, "Hee-haw". He's very busy and very cute, and he liked emptying out my purse. He will steal your phone and hightail it when he knows you're after him.

Now we're home, the little girls are home, and Suzanne is moving into the bedroom that Kathryn left empty. We have way too much stuff in our house. Extra bedding used to be at a premium here, now...we have too much.

Anyway. I'm enjoying having the high school girls here on break.

It's supposed to be spring break, and today was supposed to be 50 and sunny, so all optimistically, we dressed in our Birkenstocks and light springy clothes (me with a sundress and sweater, bare legs, ha), so we could go for a nice walk in the city...well, ha. It clouded over, the wind came up, and brr.

I am going to put my sneakers on and go on a little walk in a few minutes.

Yesterday, we went to Target. I should stay out of that place, too. I behaved, actually, only bought a teeny bit more Easter candy, even though I am not going to eat it. Sonja got a nice new suitcase for her trip this summer, Norway, then Germany!

We went to the grocery store armed with lots of coupons, and stocked up on shampoo and razors and girly stuff.

Then home...with pizza. Yes, I have been baaaaad. Pizza and an afternoon movie, vacation-style. But, I skipped dinner ha. Anyway...the vacuum cleaner is giving trouble off I go to do my favorite-est thing, unclog the vacuum cleaner.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

don't forget me...

Jonathan was SO excited to be leaving for his trip to Norway. I made a triple batch of chocolate chip cookies, and baked enough of them in time for the boys to have plenty for their drive to New York City, five hours in the car, ugh. Jon mentioned, "Oh sure, make cookies when I'm leaving..." I told him we had to celebrate. They ended up having a late start, and those cookies were out of the oven in time for them to have some, which was my hope, but I didn't tell him that.

Now, you know me, a drama queen to the bone, but this is drama-y even for me. I walked by Jon's open bedroom door, glanced in at that empty room, and was just overwhelmed, overcome, sadness. Not because the kid is on a two week trip to Norway. No, it was more the foreshadowing of the future. It WILL happen, they will all grow up and move out. Somehow, I thought the process would be slower, and part of me thought it would never really happen. But it's happening.

Last night, those girls went to a friend's place, and Paul and I were here all by our lonesomes! I don't mind. What I mind is that one of these days, it's going to be just us all the time! Sometimes it feels echo-y in here, and I can hear the clock ticking. I know they're supposed to grow up and start their own lives. That's a good thing. But I decided when I walked by Jon's empty room that I'm not going to let them forget me. I'm not going to sit here all lonely and wait for them to remember to ask me to go somewhere with them, nor am I going to hint for a visit. No sir. I am going to bug the heck right out of them, which is the right thing to do. Did they not do that to MOI when they were small? Some days I thought I was being MOMMY-ed to death! Mom, mom, mom.

This week, school break, April vacation, will be a quieter one here. Anne won't be coming over, because her mama is a teacher and is also on break. Lydia is going to Florida. Long story almost short, Paul and I will have only FOUR kids here. That's only a fourth of them, ha. Just girls, Suzanne and Sonja K., Charlotte Claire, and Camille.

I don't mind a bit, we'll have a nice time, and maybe some fun day trips. Shh, it's kind of peaceful, kind of like a break. If you only have four children, please don't take offense, but honestly, parenting just four kids is like...a vacation, at the ages they are now, anyway. But it's all relative.

Today is painting day at Emily's house, and it's going to be a nice day. 65 and sunny. Mmmm-hmmm, a good one.

Friday, April 12, 2019

ahh, Friday again....!

If I weren't so lazy, this place would look pretty darned good. I have ideas, see. But. ha.

This fine morning, I have been chalk painting the frame of a nice mirror I got at the thrift store yesterday. It was probably quite lovely, back in it's day, when an oak mirror was the thing. Off-white chalk paint from Walmart, the five dollar jar, goes quite a ways. I just have to wax it, then figure out where to hang it.

My mother used to use the phrase, "piddle around", and that's what I do. Yesterday was an Out and About day, for Jonathan, Char, Cam, and me. Jon needed a haircut, and some things for his trip. We went to Marshall's, and he found socks and a sweater, a birthday gift for one of his friends, and we bought one large suitcase. We are going to need a few more, but ugh they're pricey, so one at a time.

I paid for Jon's haircut and left him to it, while the girls and I went over to the thrift store. Either you love thrift stores or hate them, and these two little girls of mine just aren't into it. I only bought the mirror, but thrift stores are where I get my nice coffee mugs, and sometimes really nice shoes or boots. And toys! And sometimes, suitcases. When I was a teenager, those nice jeans that weren't even a possibility at a "real" store, could actually be mine if I found the right size and style, and YAY when I did! It's like a treasure hunt, but I have been working hard on not buying anything unless I really love it, or really need it. I browse around and tell myself that I already have too much stuff.

Anyway. We went to the grocery store too, for some bread and potatoes, burger and coffee. And some snacks for Jon to take on his trip. He is leaving this afternoon, they are driving to New York city, then flying directly to Oslo. He'll be gone almost two weeks!

Evelyn is gone this week, visiting out west, Mirielle is in California.

(Wulf and Suri, just because it's so cute. Labs are so good with kids.)

Remember when a tree fell on Emily's house? She lives in a big old house in town, with Abigail and Mirielle. Well, that tree caused quite a bit of damage, but why only repair the roof? Why not fix up the kitchen, which was indirectly impacted because of the room over it, ect. (The room above the kitchen was a rickety mess, unused but full of they tore out the floor of that room, thus the kitchen ceiling became the second story ceiling...and very airy and nice. You have to tear out the wall between the kitchen and the storage area, where all her catering business stuff was stored...and then you need new floors, of course! And new cabinets. You can't just leave those ancient things there! So new countertops, too...and an island would be nice! And the sink, oh my, something wrong with the faucet, we're not moving this old junky sink across the room and under that lovely window, a new one is a must! The washer and dryer can come out of Abigail's room now, and into their own little closet, and and and. Her new cabinets are unfinished, that means we get to paint them. Tomorrow there'a a party at her house, a painting party! I am bringing the food and preparing it, as well as helping keep an eye on the young painters, you know, refilling and wiping splotches, and yeah, probably painting too.

It's going to be a nice day, 65 degrees and perhaps not even raining! Spring takes soooooooo long to arrive here in central New York state.

I am ready to get the yard cleaned up, and enjoy some outdoors.

Sometimes I wish I had a guarantee that I would live to...a hundred and ten. With full mobility and a clear mind. When you get old, the spectre that is death is hovering on the periphery, and I just don't want this party to end. I tell myself that God is in charge of life and of death, and that it's not my business to worry or wonder about the WHEN, or the HOW, but words like "cancer", "stroke", "dementia", "heart attack", give me low key panic sometimes. It seems so random, too, I mean, a person can exercise and chew a piece of gum when the birthday cake is enjoyed, but then get hit by a car.

My thing is that I simply LOVE life. I don't get bored. And the years tick by. I want to get as much as I possibly can out of the days. And that doesn't mean I want to do all the things that make ME happy, but store up treasures in heaven. And those piles of treasures aren't so much in what we DO, but of course in HOW we do it. Looking for a pat on the back, oh well, just lost that prize. Honor seeking ain't gonna get you there. :)

God is good. You hear people say, all the time, "It's for the best." But when you truly believe that God causes all things to work together for our best, then....well, even trials are good things, right? Even when your teenager contradicts you, or when you spill the coffee grounds, or your son loses his wallet. When you're not feeling appreciated, when you can't seem to get the house clean, when the scale won't can choose, go ahead...wallow in that poor me, or ask God, "What do you want to show me?" When we see ourselves as we truly are, then we can have so much mercy on other people.

And...I'm done preachin' for the day...:)

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

...getting old...

Yesterday was Paul's birthday, 57! I didn't know what to get him, but I know he likes beef, so a brisket went into the oven at 5 a.m. And yes, I did go back to bed.

Lots of the kids were here to celebrate. I peeled 8 pounds of potatoes for mashies, Sonja made a huge salad, we put some rolls in the oven, and had the brisket. MMMM. Suzanne and Camille made cupcakes, vanilla with chocolate frosting. (I did not have one, yet I didn't lose like ten pounds for passing it up. It's SO not fair.)

Of course Paul doesn't care about candles or singing Happy Birthday, but oh the little grandkids like it! I asked Lydia and Anya how old Grandpa is, and they agreed on sixteen. So he got sixteen candles. They got to blow them out, too.

Yesterday I did some cleaning around here, you know, putting away mittens and boots, sorting and organizing and sweeping in corners. Of course, today it's snowing out. That's what happens when you FINALLY put the boots away, in central New York.

Camille and I went to the library yesterday, too. Then to the thrift store quick, to look for luggage, which we didn't find. I did, however, find a nice pair of sandals for $5.99, which I may be able to wear to the wedding. We went to the hardware store and bought two rakes, then to the grocery store for stuff for the salad.

Can you believe that my two youngest, the "little girls", are so grown up? Miss Charlotte Claire is almost 13, and Camille is eleven and a half! Sam asked recently when we were going to stop calling them the little girls. Probably never.

Lydia spent the night last night, and is still sleeping, in the little girls' room...(see? little girls!). Anne will be here soon. So it'll be a busy day.

Monday, April 8, 2019

rainy morning and send some prayers!!!

This fine morning, keep my dear little granddaughter Lydia on your heart and in your prayers. She's fine, no alarm, but her parents are having a difficult time, custody issues. It's so hard, because I see the good in everyone, even Lydia's dad. I prayed for him, hoped he would grow up and be a decent guy. And I won't say he's not, I'll just say that he's being difficult. He's saying things that aren't true. Mali is trying very hard to be civil, to let him see Lydia when he wants, but he's saying she has kept her from him. He actually didn't try to see little Lydia for several months. Months. Now he sees her once a week, which is how often he has requested to see her, but he's saying that she has been keeping Lyd from him.

I wrote like six paragraphs and just deleted them. The details aren't my story to tell, but I did get a phone call from her dad yesterday, and he's angry. He's angry, and he's telling lies, he's bitter, and he's playing the victim. And I love Lydia, with all of my heart. She is so sensitive and sweet and fragile, so I am praying for her.

Life isn't all sunshine and puppy dogs.

Paul and I did have a really really nice weekend away!

Never mind that Sonja was home sick, throwing up, bad headache, texting me. I felt really bad, a little bit guilty, but...we didn't go home. She's almost seventeen, and she was okay..and she is okay. She went to school today.

Anyway, our weekend away was in the Niagara region, southern shore of western Lake Ontario. It was beautiful.

We went wine tasting, and I learned that I truly veer towards the sweeter...Niagara, Catawba, semi-sweet Gewerztimier, although some rieslings are okay when the residual sugar is low, they taste sweeter. The super dry wines, well, with a steak, maybe, but...

Here's something exciting though: I am going to Oregon in October! Visiting Aaron and Riley, seeing Kathryn too!!! I'm very excited, Mariel is going too, west coast wine tour!!!!

And, next month is Sam and Grace's wedding in Virginia.

The first weekend in June, back to the Niagara region for another wine tour with lots of my daughters!

And...remember to pray...!

Friday, April 5, 2019

an extra large helping of patience, please....

Have you ever heard that when you pray for patience, you get trials so that you can learn to be patient in them? I'll be honest, I was afraid to pray for patience, for a long long time...because I already had enough trials, thank you.

Having young children in the house, grandchildren and others I watch during the day has shown me that I am very lacking, and I must've prayed extra hard, ha.

There are two small children here today...they are sweet and cuddly and adorable...but.

We won't get into any details, but it's challenging to keep them both happy and fed and clean and pottied and changed and also get anything done here, including school work! Challenging, but not impossible.

The dryer is humming, the floors are swept, I've made eggs and bacon (Anne LOVES eggs and bacon!), they've had cereal, and a snack, and played with dollhouse, colored, and played with blocks, dupes, and had a huge fight over one ride-on.

I am in the middle of packing for the weekend, am leaving this afternoon, so what's the hurry?

Yesterday, I had to bring a few daughters for doctors' appointments, and we brought Lydia along.

We had to return those shoes I bought from Kohl's. (Seriously Kohl's? The wide-width my foot, ha. The base of the shoe itself was so narrow, to bottom of my foot hung right off...harrumph. Back to the store they went.). Anyway. I had $20 in Kohl's cash, $15 in Rewards, and 20% off the total, so we shopped a little. I got some winter jammies for next year for the grandkids, a pair of Levi's jeans for Sonja, a shirt for Sonja and a sweater for Suzanne, pants for Lydia, and some other odds and ends, all for $43.

Then into Ollies, which is a discount store, which I LOVE, which Suzanne and Sonja don't LOVE. I got some snacks, and some new solar lights for summer, and a teeny tiny bit of Easter candy. This is what I do, I buy a little bit ever time I go out and about, then when I go to fill the baskets, I'm like, "Where in the H did all this candy come from?". Happens ever year. And I only have five/six at home to make baskets for! But I make on basket for Emily, Abigail, Mirielle to share, ect.

I like filling Easter baskets. I think it's finally happened: I am more excited about it than the kids are.

Oh my goodness, it's rainy and chilly today. The rain is dripping down, pinging onto the metal roof, and I just want to cuddle under a blanket and drink coffee. The girls are sitting right here playing dollhouse, getting along really well, all happy. I already had my two cups of coffee, I don't have my third until later in the day...

Wait, I spoke too soon. Anne has randomly started yelling STOP to Lyd....

Thursday, April 4, 2019

just another day....

and I hope I didn't take it for granted. Lydia was here, but Anne didn't come because she is sick. We did school, I washed bedding, vacuumed, made meatballs for dinner...

Charlotte Claire took Lydia outside to play for a bit, but I didn't venture out the door. Suzanne did the Activity Club driving tonight. I did work out, yay me, but shh, I had three squares of chocolate for brekky. The chocolate had almonds in it, so....I just didn't want eggs. Then lunch was one piece of Ezekial toast with peanut butter.

But I exercised. Not much, but still, it's something.

Tomorrow, there are some doctor's appointments, and some shoes to return...poor me, I ordered shoes online, all full of hope they would actually fit and not hurt my feet, well ha. Back they go. I'm going to look for a huge-0 suitcase at Kohl's when I return the shoes...because so many of us are traveling to Norway this summer, and we usually do lots of inter-family suitcase sharing. We have plenty of smaller ones, we just need a few of the larger checked bag sized bags.

Friday, goodbye for the weekend! Paul and I are going away, yay!!!! We're grilling some steak on Friday night, then burgers on Saturday, going to some vineyards, a brewery maybe, maybe up to Lake Ontario.

Well, today is ANOTHER day, I sort of ran out of steam in yesterday afternoon's post.

I had a huge revelation yesterday: I need to be WAY more thankful. It's so easy to see when the kids need to be more thankful. It's easy to see when other family or friends, or even strangers on the internet, need to be more thankful, griping and complaining about every little thing.

I had vacuum cleaner wars the other day. A clog here, a clog there, then it tipped over as I dragged and it hit a corner, and the whole dust collection bin section fell out, opened up, and made a huge mess, because I hadn't snapped it in properly. I was just wrestling with this vacuum cleaner. I told Paul that I've had issues with it continuously since I got it. He said, bless his innocent heart, "Is this something you can buy at the thrift store? A better vacuum cleaner?" Um, if that were the case, sweetie, don't you think I would HAVE ONE? But I didn't say that. I was too shocked at his sweet naivety.

So there's that. Then there's our camper. When we got that camper, oh heavenly bliss. We had six kids, so we bought a 35 foot camper. Some of my older posts describe the fun of pulling that thing to the Adirondacks behind our 15 passenger van. Once, we were behind a small parade in a small town, and the folks on the sidewalk thought it was still the parade, so we just waved.

Anyway, that shiny new camper from 1992 is not so shiny anymore. The roof started leaking. It's fixable, but we'll have to do lots of cleaning in there, airing out, ect. And we have to pay a good sum of money, yearly, to keep it where it is. It's a wonderful place, it's at our church property, and it's amazing to stay in it, but the money came due, and the camper is getting junky, and I was grumbling. Grumbling because I would really like to get a NEW camper, not even new, a used one that doesn't leak, that the refrigerator actually works, etc ect ect.

When I'm focused on what's wrong instead of what's right, then it's blah.

I realize what a spoiled brat I am.

Because hey, you can compare what you have with those who have more, and always feel like you're a day late and a dollar short.

Or, you can choose to be thankful for everything you have. You can pray for thankfulness. When you do this, God will certainly point out when you aren't being thankful, He'll show you what you can work on, and then it's up to you. You CAN get victory in this, and have so much peace in your life.

I find that in the "earthly" things, there has to be a balance. You can't just not care, you need to be a good steward of what you have, and make the best of things. Maybe I can't get a new floor, but at least I can try to keep this one clean.

The sun is shining this fine morning. I intend to get out there to the yard one of these days and rake up the leaves from last fall. Our rake is broken, so I do have a good excuse, ha. I should go buy four of them and have gym class, ha. Homeschool gym class.

The sewing machine is on the kitchen table. We decided to leave it out, after Suze got it out last night to make some more hair scrunchies. I am thinking to make Camille a skirt, and I want to teach them to use it. I forgot how much I love sewing, but I also hate it. I am very impatient, and the seam ripper is an evil little thing that I hate using. I am a corner cutter.

Suzanne and Camille made these brown sugar snickerdoodles the other day. Is there anything yummier than the scent of cinnamon baked goods on a chilly dark day? I did break off a tiny piece, and duh, it was good, why do I torture myself? I still say one should automatically lose five pounds when one resists this sort of temptation.

(And Sunny, because she's cute, and I'm still twelve years old) I go to start my day, which means shh, I'm going to scroll through the news and facebook, ha.

Monday, April 1, 2019

totally not joking....!

Yes, we woke up to snow this morning. I went out and shoveled the driveway, and the birds were singing and flitting from snowy branches to snowy branches...spring, meh. April Fool's, more like it. It's so different than REAL winter snow, the muffled silence. I can hear the birds right now even through the closed window, singing and probably wondering what the heck is going on.

We had such nice weather on Saturday, even after we left the theater at midnight, it was 65 degrees out. Then yesterday, it was so damp and chilly. It was the perfect day to read the paper with coffee, stay home, and be cozy. We cleaned the house a little...I wrestled with the vacuum cleaner, it seems to be clogged every time I use it. The girls started begging me to get out the sewing machine...they chose fabrics, and I made scrunchies, the fabric covered hair elastics. I also made a lining for a white woven basket we picked up at the thrift store a while ago, for Evelyn.

Evelyn made macaroni and cheese, and a pan of cauliflower and cheese for me, and put the pork into the instant pot for pulled pork. The snow was falling, but the house smelled delicious...then Margaret and Adrian and Wulf came over...then Emily and Abigail. It was very pleasant.

We bought Sonja's ticket home from Germany last night!!!!! She is going to Norway with us, then to Germany for three weeks with her friend Suzie, and flying home by herself. That part I don't like. Not at all. But she'll be 17, and Emily helped book the ticket so she has a layover in Iceland instead of London, as the airport in Iceland is very small and easy to navigate. She is very very excited!!!

It's quiet in here, for now...Anne will be here soon, the kids will come wandering in and we'll do some school work...and then maybe they'll go sledding on the back hill.