summer 2011

summer 2011

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

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

Friday, May 31, 2019

cleaning up! and grandparents day!

So this morning, my chair was the my lazy butt's magnet, but I cleaned up some things first. Sweeping and mopping and laundry and counters and dishes...I have to remind myself that it's good I can move, it's nice I am able to do these things, and that I am home here and have the time to clean up. It's NOT a bad thing. But shh, I don't like cleaning.

(Paul informed me he is having one of our old friends over tomorrow afternoon, when I'm gone. I said he would have clean the house, since it reflects on me, even when I'm not home. He said I would have to do it then. Kidding, of course, but still:))

Ashley came for a little visit, and to drop off Anya's car seat. I also had to drive their van, since ours is STILL in the shop. Anyway...Grandparents' Day was fun!

One of our activities was to color by number this picture...I started right in, and Anya asked, "Gramma, do you even know how to do this?" I answered smugly, "Anya, I went to kindergarten too, I know how to do it..." "Well, Gramma, why did you color the #2 space yellow then? It's supposed to be red." oops. The bell rang right then, signifying the end of that activity. On to the next! I folded it up and put it in my purse, and shh, we forgot all about it.

Lydia came over, and we had ice cream sundaes and some playtime.

So I'm leaving in a little while for my weekend away. How lucky am I? Can you believe my older girls are doing this with me? I miss the other kids when I leave, but I am very very happy to be going...:)

Thursday, May 30, 2019

navigating headaches and small children....

When you have a headache, everything in the whole world seems difficult. I had such a pounder yesterday afternoon, that I couldn't manage to start dinner while refereeing, I mean watching, the two small children here. I took ibuprofen, and was conscious to be thankful for its existence. When Anne went home, I had nary a half hour before I had to leave to bring Jonathan and Camille to Activity Club, so oops, sorry kids, no dinner. Cam made a bagel, Jon warmed up some leftovers, and I microwaved some frozen yummy lemon blueberry Keto almond flour pound cake, and brought it with me. (Paul ended up making burgers...sorry hon!).

I visited with Ben and Ashley while the kids were at A.C., which is always nice. My headache was on the back burner by then, but flared up wickedly on the drive more teensy little ibuprofen, and I woke up this fine morning feeling much better. Lydia is still asleep, and Anne will be here in a few minutes. I put a load of clothes in the washer and straightened a few things up this morning, but shh, I haven't swept or washed up those pesky dishes. I'll do it later, ha. I'm enjoying the quiet of the day before the kids all get up and it gets roaring in here again.

What I WANT to do today is start painting that foyer, but I know better than that. I can't watch children AND paint, and I don't think their parents want them to help me, ha. So I'll wait, the last minute scramble is real.

Jonathan told me last night, "Do NOT stress about the graduation party mom. Just don't." Words of wisdom. Those words are prob rooted in that he doesn't want to hear me fret, but they are truly encouraging nonetheless. Suzanne Eleanor is our twelfth child. She is the fourth girl in our five-girls-in-a-row-in-five-years. But she is an original, she's a snarky sweetheart. She'll smile right at you and give it to you straight. She has the biggest heart, she loves the kids and gives them the time of day. She has taught herself to crochet, and has done the most beautiful hats, baby blankets, a tiny sweater for Kathryn's baby....she made me mittens for Christmas! She watches you-tube videos and learns new patterns.

Anyway, she is graduating, and we are very proud of her. She has taken hard classes and has done well. I am glad to be throwing a party for her, but...oh, but. There IS pressure to clean things up, there isn't much time to do it, and then what if the food doesn't turn out well, or there isn't enough, or or or. Ha, there will never be a lack of things to fret about, but my hope is that in all these temptations, I can stand firm and not let myself get all worried and carried away.

We are thinking to do pulled pork nachos, and maybe grill chicken and some good hot dogs. Watermelon, chips, pasta salad, maybe Mirielle will make some of her Mac and cheese, it's delectable.

Anyway, life is short, and trials entire hope is that I get something of eternal value out of those trials, instead of just skating through life in a constant state of anxiety. God does NOT make mistakes.

So tomorrow, Grandparents Day, then ice cream sundaes here with Anya! I am so super thankful I get to be a part of her life, that she has moved back here from Washington state. She is a sweetheart!!!

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

oh dear.

I don't have any spectacular pics, or spectacular news, but life is good. I'm thankful for today. I mean hey, I woke up, which sometimes when I can't sleep at night and have those strange night-time issues where I wonder if I'm maybe dying, I envision myself waking up in the morning and realizing I was just being a drama queen extrodinaire, and it helps...then when I really do wake up in the morning, yay me!

I heard a joke once that if you wake up in the morning, when you're over fifty, with no aches or pains, you are probably dead.

Anyway. I am not dead, therefore, thankful today.

Lydia is here, she spent the night, and Anne is coming in a few minutes, so I'll have a fun-filled day with not much down-time. The kids are wrapping up their school year, but it's still rather interesting to get our school done with small children in the house. Not impossible, but more challenging.

Sonja K. has to have surgery on her knee next week. The doc told us that it isn't just simple surgery, but not horribly difficult, more in the middle, and possibly a hospital overnight. It's MPFL (Medial Patellofemoral Ligament Reconstruction). She had a choice to get a new ligament from her other leg, or from a cadaver. I was horrified! Wow. But hey, the person died, and donated their body, and if it's already there, and it means Sonja doesn't have to have a ligament removed from her other leg, which ouch, well, Sonja thinks it's crazy cool to have a piece of a dead person in her. Gross, sorry if you're drinking your coffee and reading this!

Next week will be a fun week, poor Miss Sonja K.

It'll be all fun and games for me too, figuring out what to do with the other kids, ect. And then there's going to be frequent follow-ups and physical therapy appointments. Never a dull one.

And, we're having a graduation party in three weeks for Suzanne! I have an extreme love/hate relationship with hosting large gatherings. My head spins with disorganization, and all the things that have needed fixing for eons just stand out, glaringly dumpy things that I could overlook day after day, but now, they need fixing YESTERDAY! Our foyer's progress for example..."progress" being the word in question, as we haven't done a stinkin' thing down there since we started, so hopefully, like a month ago. I tried to get an amen from the fam, a little vow to get agree to get it all done before the party, and they were all like, "Well, maybe...yeah, we can try." I was like, seriously? At least shout, "Of course!!!"

See, I've been low-key nagging Paul to take that chandelier down so I can clean it, spray paint it, and he can put it back up. There is only one light bulb in it, and it looks ghastly. Here are a few pics, I looked them up on my phone, and we started this project in...APRIL!!!! (Don't judge for the dust on that chandelier...never mind, judge away. You're right.)

(Sunny likes to be where the action is, keeping an eye on things)
The foyer now: all coats are relocated, most of them went bye-bye to the thrift store, the rest in the laundry room. The board where the hooks were is now white, as is the railing thing between the stairs. The hooks will be spray-painted black, along with the light fixture. And the walls will be painted a lovely gray-ish blue.

I have this thing where a party sounds like a grand idea, until I actually send the invites, then I'm all like, "What on earth have I done?!!!"

Because, yeah, it's real. People are coming over.

Our "work force" is greatly diminished here. Sonja is having her knee surgery next week, she won't be helping. Suzanne is in her senior year, has lots of exams...I am wanting to get started today, but have two small children here:)

Anyway. The dr. office surgery scheduler called and we have to go in to the hospital for pre-admission testing and bloodwork, the hospital schedules the surgery time and lets us know, and this appointment too...they schedule and let us know. That isn't ideal for me. For one, Friday is Grandparents and Special Friends Day at school, and I am going for Anya. I also have Anne every day, and my minivan is in the shop, still. So I couldn't bring her with me, not unless the van gets back first...see, I can drive Paul to work and use the truck, but one cannot install a car seat in the back seat. Our other van has issues too, ugh.

And this is written a few hours later...

Anyway. This coming weekend, I am going away!!! There are no words for how thrilled and excited I am about it! Here's why: my daughters like to hang out with me. It's like a dream come true. I had all these kids, accepted those babies with open arms, straight from heaven, rocked them and changed them, chased them, fed and read to them, cried when they got on the bus for the first time, and rejoiced when they grew up enough to stand on their own two feet. They went from being so much work, to being my friends, these older kids of mine. And this weekend, Emily and Abigail and Mariel and Margaret and Evelyn are going with our friend Karen, on a weekend away in an Airbnb near Lake Ontario, near Niagara Falls, and visiting some wineries. The whole weekend, YES!!! It's a really nice house, too. We're bring food to cook, and snacks, and this time I'm not going to buy...a-hem...20 bottles of wine, like I did last time.

Paul is going to be here with Suzanne, Sonja K., Jonathan, Charlotte Claire, and Camille. They are going to do something fun too. And I hate to miss it, ha. I'm like Arnold Lobel's "Owl at Home", where when he's upstairs, wonders how his downstairs is doing...

They've had their cereal, and then eggs and toast, and have cups of seltzer water. They play together quite nicely most of the time. They LOVE to climb up on my lap and read stories...the older kids have been in here but are now doing school work in their rooms, along with promises they won't just watch anime on their tablets.

It's been a busy morning, my coffee got cold. There's something wonderful about being able to drink a whole cup before that happens.

Friday, May 24, 2019

keeping busy here, this old gramma....

We had a library/go out for ice cream day. Lydia loves the library...the dollhouse, the toys, and of course the books. Grant liked the library too, but his daddy Sam liked it more.

Yesterday we went on another outing, Char and Cam had to go to the dentist for cleanings. Sam and Grant and Jonathan went along too, and walked around in the small city during our appointment. Then, we went to Ollie's discount store. I had a 15% the total purchase coupon, so I stocked up on snacks, and got a new frying pan and a new electric kettle. The old one was dandy until I opened the cupboard and a glass bottle of hot sauce jumped right out of the cupboard onto that nice glass kettle.

We make almost exclusively pour-over coffee these days, so a good and fast electric kettle is almost a necessity:)

It's been busy here with Samuel and little Grant staying with us. He is up first thing in the morning, and he likes to keep toys scattered all around. He reaches things and find things and gets things. He is Mr. Sunshine, and likes to rock with me and get some cuddles in the midst of his going going going. He likes the doggies and the kitties, and has survived the week with nary a scratch on him. The dogs are Labs, lazy tired Labs, and they don't care a hoot if someone is patting or pulling or hugging on them while they nap. If they do get bothered, they just get up and lie down in another place, and let out a loud sigh.

Anyway. Sam is leaving here later today, and the high school girls have the day off. So there are eight of us here today...but don't worry, we have things to do! The red van is acting up again so I have to call the garage...again...ugh.

Monday, May 20, 2019

what if?!!!!

Six of the kids are here, and are talking about..."what if we had eleven boys and five girls, instead...?" (instead of 11 girls and 5 boys). Oh dear. I cannot imagine.
We were talking about the girls...the middle group of girls, the five born in five years...Margaret was five when Sonja was born, with Kathryn, Evelyn, Suzanne in between. Then Robert was "born" when Sonja was 13 months, then Jonathan ten months later. Phew. Then Miss Char after a few miscarriages, then Camille, whom we thought we lost, and found out at 15 weeks that she was still in there, strong and fine.

And of course that's just the second half of the kids, Margaret is engine engine #nine.

This fine morning, Sonja K. and I were in the van and driving down the road by eight a.m., heading to her doctor's appointment. She had an MRI done on Saturday night, and I was skeptical the office would have the report yet, and I hate being right when it means a total waste of a trip. The office will call when they get it, and the doc is 90% certain Sonja will need surgery. So we wait for the call, which most assuredly won't come when it's quiet in here and I have a pen and paper handy.

Benjamin and Ashley have a nice big house with a nice big yard, and invited us all over on Saturday afternoon. All five of the grandchildren were there! Here they are with their Aunt Evelyn:

Elise in her swing, Anya standing behind Lydia, and Ev with Wulf and Grant. (Anya and Elise are Ben and Ashley's girls, Lydia is Mali's, Wulf is Marge and Adrian's, and Grant is Sam and Grace's little guy)

Sunday, I took four daughters shopping for a bit.

(Suzanne, Charlotte Claire, Camille, and Sonja K.)

Today, after dropping Sonja off at school after our appointment, we went out and about AGAIN, with Samuel, Grant, Jon, Char, and Cam. Marget, too much fun...clothes for the grand-kids:). Price-Chopper, I didn't need groceries, but they had cherries for $1.99 a pound...and and and. Home...I had lots of chicken to freeze, and I like to freeze it in lemon juice
and chicken seasonings, so that it is ready to cook when it thaws. There are pork chops in the same marinade, to throw on the grill for dinner. Last night, we had chicken fajitas, mmm good, but we had to cook inside, as we had high winds and thunderstorms here. I browned up the strips in two frying pans, then finished if off in the oven, we also had corn on the cob. We heated it up but good in here. Today, much cooler and windy.

Emily and Mirielle came to visit yesterday, and Sam was pleased to see them when he got back from drill. He had a rough time, he passed out on his run and ended up in Urgent Care for a bit. But he was fine, they couldn't find a reason, so back to work he went.

We had Grant all day Saturday and Sunday, he was a very good little boy. I love him.

Friday, May 17, 2019

...a night out....

You know you're a lucky girl when your older kids want to hang out with you still. Last night, Emily and Mirielle, Margaret and her husband Adrian, Evelyn and I, went out, to the small taste some beer, and have some food. It was a random plan, hatched together on Mother's Day, and I'm surprised that in the busyness of life, we actually went!

With Emily, with Mirielle, Miss Evelyn, and the whole crew of us.

But today, back to real life. Anne is coming over soon, and Samuel is here with baby Grant, but they're still sleeping. I'm trying to be very quiet, as Sam drove through the night from Virginia, and I'm glad he's getting some sleep.

The birds are singing, and it's actually not raining out at the moment. I have lots of little plants to pot, and some bulbs to plant, and I want to be outside.

One of these days, the weather will warm up, the rain will go away, and I'll be all grumbly about how it's just too hot...

Thursday, May 16, 2019

#5 is 28!!! Oh what a birth that was...

Wait, is it weird to still remember the birth of your child, who isn't a child anymore...?

Well, I am weird, so here was hotter than the dickens, whatever that means. The sun shone down on our tin hut, aka mobile home, and stifled us, this strange May heatwave, bringing 90 degree temps and humidity.

So on my due date for my fifth child, after putting one Miss Emily Anne on the bus to kindergarten, I packed up Abigail 4, Benjamin 2, and Mirielle 15 months, and headed to the big mall in the big city with my sister Cheryl. Her two oldest, Katie and Becky, were in Kindergarten and first grade (or second?). She had Susan, Claire, and Janet with her, was pregnant with her sixth. Somehow it made sense to us for two pregnant ladies to bring six small children to the mall on this hot day, which was my DUE DATE. It was hot, and we wanted to walk around, get the kids out of the hot houses, be together, and, okay, we're crazy.

So we got on the Thruway, and when the lady handed my sister the toll card, my sister told her that it was my due date, and was it okay if we did a U-ie, if we needed to? The toll-booth-lady scrunched down, peered into the van, and looked at me. "YOU!!!", she said...she did not like me. She was the very toll-booth-lady who had handed me the ticket a few weeks previous, when I was on my way to visit my was windy, the ticket blew away, and I did not even attempt to pretend to open my door and trundle out and chase a small slip of cardboard in the traffic, 8 and a half months pregnant, and a van full of kids. Nope. I just smiled at the lady, and apologized as she gave me another ticket, all the while she was grumbling about how she's accountable for each and every one and she was in trouble and and and. Well, I WAS sorry.

Anyway. We got on the Thruway, and headed towards the mall. Contraction! uh oh. Five minutes later...contraction! and yeah, every five minutes, so we got off at the first exit, got back on, and headed to the hospital. We all went, with the six kids. My sister waited with the kids while I was brought in, and four centimeters, I could have waited longer, but the contractions were coming, and it WAS my fifth baby, so I was staying. Paul came from work, and my sister headed home with the kids, and one of our friends stayed to help at our place with them...

So...I checked into the hospital at noon, and Joseph Michael was born at 11:45 pm. It was a long day, but so nice and cool in the hospital. Back then, you weren't allowed to eat anything in labor, so Paul bought peanut M&M's from the vending machine and poured them in a cup, and I sneaked them. Have you ever had a birth that, in retrospect, seems like it was easy? I guess I forget lots of the pain and agony, but I had no pain meds, and this birth seemed okay...he was born, and he was so long and lithe, so relaxed and stretched out. He WAS long, 23 inches, I think, and 8 lbs 10 ounces, I think. (shh, I don't always remember all the details). But he was a chill baby, always stretching his legs out of the swaddling blanket, and very content.

Now he's grown up and married, bought a house in town. Time just flies, I tell you.

Today I need to go to the store to stock up on butter, milk, half and half, bread, an Aldi run. I will get Joe something for his birthday and drop it off. Samuel and baby Grant (Grant was one in December, so he's not really "baby Grant, but oh well) are leaving tonight to come here for a week. Sam has drill in the Army reserves on Saturday and on Sunday, but I'll watch Grant for him. Sonja K. has an MRI on Saturday afternoon, too.

Suzanne is graduating from high school this year, and we have to plan a grad party for her. I have to look at things from her perspective, it's a big deal for her, for us, it's like,...oh another graduation. She's the 13th child...but I am excited for her, and proud of her. She's taken really hard classes and done really well. She is going to college, probably in the spring term next year. Suze is a super sweet girl, a kind hearted soul. She made half moon cookies for the senior auction, one of the teachers bought them. She baked them last night...

There were extras, but I only had the tiniest nibble of Cam's, and oh dear, Suze nailed it, it was good.

Anyway, there's school to do, and and and.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

soggy, wet, damp, chilly, drizzly, rainy, dark,.....cozy!

Cozy, it's the saving grace, right? In the Scandinavian countries, they use the word koselig, for so many things...because hey, if you can't have balmy sunshine, you have to make it nice, and cozy isn't bad.

For me, here in central New York state, there are two seasons: boots, and Birkenstocks. So now my feet are cold and wet when I go out and about. I did buy some rain boots, but they hurt my Princess-and-the-Pea feet.

Yesterday, I took Miss Sonja K. to the orthopedic doctor, again, because after two knee surgeries, her knee still swells up and hurts her. She was an active soccer player before that knee dislocated two summers ago, now it gives her trouble just walking. We saw a different doctor this time, and he seems to know his stuff. He said: She needs surgery, right away. Her knee is unstable, and has been partially dislocating continuously. He showed us the x-rays, and yeah, the knee-cap on the left leg is right on the side instead of the center of the knee. The ligament that should hold it into place is probably gone, and a piece of the knee cap is missing. So. An MRI will show more exactly, but the doctor says we will probably need to get a ligament from either her other leg, or from a cadaver (I was like WHAT???!!!)...and fix 'er up.

We walked out of there pretty shocked, thought they would say to just go do more physical therapy.

Never a dull moment.

And don't even get me started about my own knees. The "good" one is the one I dislocated back when I was a teenager. The bad one is bad, it sticks and clicks and hurts, but sometimes the "good" one hurts too. I have bad arthritis in them, and one of these days I need a makes financial sense to do it in the same year as Sonja's surgery, our deductible is sky high, but if we're going to meet it anyway...but. I've read about replacement, and it's not for the faint of heart. A short hospital stay, then 2-4 weeks in a recovery home, then physical therapy. Who takes care of the kids and the dogs and the house during all this, I wanna know? And ouch-wah-wah, I was cringing out loud when the doctor was manipulating Sonja's knee, I can't stand it, anyone bending my knee this way and that. Ugh. And then there's the antibiotic issue, I had a bad reaction to Cipro...

So I won't think about all of that right now. I have to call and see if I can get her into the MRI sooner than Saturday, so we can see the dr. sooner, and get things set up. I have a feeling dr. needs a new inground pool this year, he's in a wicked hurry. But we also told him our travel dates, Sonja is joining us to Norway, then going on to Germany for a few weeks, and dr. says it's best to get this done before all that traveling.

(last night at bedtime, Miss Silly was saying, "Look at my pink braids, Grandma!"

Lydia is still here, Paul is working from home (so I try to look busy, ha), and I am thinking to go out to lunch for my Aunt's birthday, with my brother Bob and sister Cheryl. It's super nice to go out and about with siblings once in a while, and I haven't seen my father's sister in a long while. He was one of twelve, and there are only three of them still living. My aunt is a really nice lady, and she has so many good stories from her own childhood years, they grew up very poor...

It's time to get going with school now, and the clothes from the washer need to go in the dryer after I take the ones out of the dryer....

Monday, May 13, 2019

can we sum up all the beauty?

This is my Mother's Day gift from Jonathan. "It's all the money I have." Three bucks, taped to two Norwegian chocolate bars. There are no words.

But ha, of course I have words! You didn't believe that, did you, that I had no words? Jon is the nicest kid, so funny. He was gone for most of the weekend, doing maintenance work, spring cleaning and weed-eating at our church. So when he came home yesterday, I teased him and asked him where my present was. He came up with a good one in about three minutes flat.

Here's one thing I want to write about: Saturday we had a very sobering morning, as our dear friend Dave was buried. He passed away in December. His wife and their eight kids, oh it's sad. He is in a better place, and he's pain free, after battling cancer of the esophagus and it's complications, for 11 years. He long outlived the statistics, but he suffered too. He learned so much in his sufferings, and he was there for his wife and kids. He was so encouraging, and he retained his sense of humor. He is deeply and sorely missed. With the sun shining and the birds singing, there at the cemetery, it's just heartbreaking that life goes on when someone so loved is laid to rest.

I wake up some mornings, and think of how he isn't with us anymore, and I vow not to waste the day, to get heavenly value from the things I go through.

Today will be a busy day. Lydia is here, she spent the night, and Anne is coming over very soon. I have to bring Sonja to the doctor this afternoon for her knee, again. Since she dislocated it two years ago, had two surgeries on it, it's still bothering her like crazy, and it feels like there's more loose cartilage floating in there.

Yesterday, Evelyn and I took a little trip to the small city to buy flowers from the dollar store. We chose eleven flowers, and a cute little aromatic basil plant. We went to Walmart for potting soil, then home with our Dunkin coffees, it was a pleasant trip together on a dark rainy morning. Paul was making brisket for dinner, he put it out on the grill for a few hours, then into the oven. The older kids were all coming over with side dishes, so I didn't have to cook anything! I sat down and put my feet up, looked on facebook marketplace, because I love to browse there...and lo and behold, the very vacuum cleaner I wanted, sixty bucks! It was a fraction of what they sell for, a Dyson canister vac with the hard-floor attachment included. It looked very I sent a message, and yes, I could come at three o'clock! Evelyn and I set out once again, and drove a half hour to the suburbs, and oh my, it was a nice house in a nice neighborhood...their garage was cleaner than our house is. The vac is in pristine condition, all works, as the guy showed us...Happy Mother's Day to me! Sonja vacuumed her room when I got it home, and declared it worked just fine. I told her to make sure she vacuums up pencils and q-tips and popsicle sticks and hair ties.

12 of the kids were here at some point yesterday. Mirielle made Mac and cheese with cauliflower and broccoli instead of the "Mac". She made a lemon blueberry pound cake, I only had a taste, I'm trying so hard! There were fresh veggies and dip, strawberries and blueberries and watermelon, and Josh (Mali's husband) made a beautiful, work of art, loaf of fresh bread. It was all really nice! We still had ice cream cake in the freezer, so we got that out after dinner, and I stayed the heck away from it. :)

The kids gave me some nice gifts...the older girls got me a nice suitcase, Mali got me a coffee candle, it has actual coffee beans in it, and smells heavenly, and a pretty scarf...Ev got me a nice stainless steel Dunkin travel mug. Marge got me a beauty box with various fun things in it, and a pair of salad tongs. Mostly it was nice to have them here.

We have had the rainiest spring here in central New York state. The ground is just a soggy mess. Those little girls are going to go wild in here today, I am not taking them out to get all muddy.

Anyway...time to get busy...

Sunday, May 12, 2019

happy Mother's Day!!!

I am so very thankful for my kids, that I get to be a mama. Yesterday, it was Miss Charlotte Claire's birthday, a little teenager she is now, but I still went out and about with Abigail Marie...Ab is my second oldest, and I never get to spend enough time with her! We went to Ollie's, where we both found the rugs we were looking for! We went to Kohl's, where she found Birkenstocks for less than $20! I got a few things for the grandkids (I love shopping in the baby sections!). Then to Aldi for some chicken wings for dinner. And one pizza dough.

Home...put those chicken wings in the oven, rolled out the pizza dough, and watched The Green Book with Suzanne and Evelyn. Suze and Sonja had taken Char, Cam, and Dani to the park, and for ice cream, for Char's birthday...

Wings, some Buffalo hot, some barbecue, a few garlic large butter and garlic pizza...and yum, what a dinner!

Then, we went bowling! Paul and I and six of our daughters, plus Danielle. (Mirielle, Evelyn, Suzanne, Sonja K., Char, and Camille).

Then, home for ice cream cake! Happy thirteenth, Charlotte Claire!!!

Now, it's Mother's Day, and Paul is making brisket. He grilled it, all wrapped in foil, for a few hours, now it's in the oven, and it smells heavenly in here. Evelyn and I are taking a little trip out and about to get some flowers and plants, and potting soil. Some of the older kids will be coming over this after noon, so happy me!

Do I need to even say how thankful I am for my kids? I love each of them with all of my heart. As I explained recently to Will, Sebastian, and Linnea, whose mama is having another baby, a mama's heart is very special, it is designed to love each child just as much as the others, and adding another does not in any way take away from the love for the other ones, but I also added, mama loves you just as much as the baby, but even more if you be good,'re welcome, Susan:)

The older kids are waking up and there is coffee brewing and it's a rainy cozy day...

Friday, May 10, 2019

when it rains, it pours...

This dark cozy morning, I am sitting here telling a story...Ms. Kathryn is having a baby! Kathryn and Darius got married in February, and are having a baby in December! She has so much morning sickness, but I keep telling her that it's a good thing. But guess what, it's terribly hard to have her so far away. And that sweater and hat, Suzanne crocheted those, in addition to the beautiful dark gray blanket they are laying on.

So two grand babies are on the way, Lord willing. I pray for those babies, and for my kids. I am beginning to see what it was like for my parents back in the day, they would get so concerned about us, about my siblings. (Believe me, I am still so thankful that my parents both passed away before my brother killed himself, how would they have coped with that?). But anyway, NOW I see what they fussed about. I am sorely tempted to be so worried about all of my chickies. But they were conceived in faith, and I can pray for them, hope for them, encourage them, help them as much as I can, then let it go, and trust that God has it all in His hands.

Yesterday, I took the kids out and about for a few hours. Charlotte Claire is having a birthday tomorrow, so I let her pick lunch, she chose Moe's, which is Mexican, with homemade salsas and fresh hot tortilla chips.

We went to Marshall's so Char could pick out a gift...but alas, she didn't find anything. I found a few things though, a cute mirror for Emily's new kitchen, and a white pitcher for her too. (I told her Happy Mother's Day, for helping me with the mothering:))

Next stop, thrift store. I found Land's End sandals, in my size, never worn, for $4.99. I wore them around for five minutes when we got home, and my Princess-And-The-Pea feet protested loudly. Whiny feet, I've got. But woo-hoo, I got this cute little four-wheeler ride on, with lots of beep-beep buttons and engine noises...I replaced the batteries and YES! It works! The grand kids are going to love it! And you better believe the teenage daughters rolled their eyes! Have I ever mentioned that I love toys? (This ride-on was only $2.99! I wiped it down, and it looks brand new!)

We went to Walmart for ant traps, it's the season. Of course a hundred dollars later, we had our ant traps.

I'm excited because we are going to the rec. center pool today, and because Abigail and I have a plan to go to Ollie's Bargain Center tomorrow. My younger kids hate Ollie's. I hate/love it. But they are one of the only places that carries string solar lights, and they're only ten bucks. Ours didn't all last the winter. Strung around the deck railings, it looks magical when it gets dark. And, and outing with Abigail!

It IS Char's birthday tomorrow, and Suzanne is going to do something fun with them, a hike or something...then they'll be a sleepover, and lots of giggling. Then on Sunday, Paul volunteered to "grill some chicken or something if you want to have everyone over..."

I've already received Mother's Day gifts...Paul sent me these berries...

...which was a funny mother-in-law texted me and thanked me for the lovely berries, they arrived still cold and fresh and were yummy....I had no idea what she was speaking of. Then a few hours later, the UPS man came, bringing my new Target tank top dress (What?! It was ten bucks, free delivery!), and a big Sherry's Berries box. Hmmm. Paul sent them!

So of course I waited until lots of kids were here (Suzanne and Sonja, Charlotte and Camille, cousin Danielle, and Abigail), then we cut them up and sampled them, yum.

The older girls got me a huge-0 suitcase for our trip to Norway! It's really lovely, much nicer than the ones I've been eying at the thrift store, ha. It's white with beige trim, very cute.

All right...things to do...

Thursday, May 9, 2019

all grown up....

I never thought I'd grow up. I vowed not to, Peter Pan copycat or not. No sir, I was going to enjoy the moments, smell the roses, and never let the anxieties of life bog me down. But then one day I realized that I don't ever want another dog. Or another cat. The battle of the fleas (and the expense! The collars that work are fifty bucks each...the dogs just got their new ones, and the cats still need them, again, and ugh!), the screens the cats like to climb, the meowing to come in and out of the house when I just sat down, the doggies and their muddy paws, raking up the piles in the yard...

Don't get me wrong, I love the two pups, and the two kitties too. I wouldn't get rid of them because they are trouble, never. But the thought of adding to the collection, nope, nah, and nada chance. I have grown up.

That being said, do not show me a Lab puppy for sale, I'll forget all of the above and bring it home.

Anyway. I still vow to not really grow up. The roses must be smelled (or "smelt" if we were British). The days must be treasured.

Yesterday was abundant in sunshine, and these two little charges of mine wanted OUT. It's funny how much they love each other, so innocent and sweet. They are distantly related, because Lydia is my granddaughter, and Anne is my sister's granddaughter. So we just say cousins, ha. (They're second cousins, I believe). They do fight a little sometimes, a sneaky little hit or the grabbing of a toy, so I watch to make sure it doesn't escalate, but still try to let them work it out as much as possible. They keep me hopping, I'll tell you that!

I did go on my walk again this morning. My knee has been holding up, and every walk I complete, I am thankful for that. This morning, my "good" knee gave a good twinge of pain during the walk, and I was like, "UH-OH!". I'm trying really hard to get into better shape...walking up that hill is good for me, yet I HATE it. I am lazy, I am a comfy chair person. I do enjoy getting out and walking, but if I had my druthers..

The scale is going down a teeny bit too...I'm avoiding sugar like the plague, and cutting most pasta, rice maybe a teaspoon, no bread. I do enjoy a Wegman's No Sugar Added frozen fudge bar sometimes, 60 calories of yumminess.

Over the weekend at the wedding, I had some chips, some wine, Panda Express TWICE, once I shared with Aaron and it was so fun...I ate some of the wedding cake, too. I wasn't totally off the rails, but I did indulge. But I walked so much, I came home the same weight. So I decided that I NEED to get out there and move. Also, I want to be in better shape for our huge trip to Norway this summer...airports and train stations and the hilly conference center when we get there...oh if I could go back in time, I would take much better care of this body!

Here's the thing: it is so easy to see how someone else could treat me a little better. It's so easy to get the old feelings hurt. It really is. And then it's easy and almost mindless to return it, you know, answer snarkily, or roll the eyes and harrumph. And then think Poor Me. I am working on this! On being conscious of how these hands of mine can bless, and I can be kind, no matter what! I recently had my eyes wide opened to how demanding I was being to one of the kids about the way something was done wrongly. How would I feel if someone talked to me like that? Oh ouch. There is so much to work on. When I am busy working out my own salvation, things are better for not only me, but the family too.

I have heard the term "Sanctimommy" a few times lately. My guess: term for a mom who does no wrong, doesn't get mad, keeps the child rear-facing for the full two years, gets to the gym...some of these moms try too hard. All the things, all the warnings, (co-sleeping!!! bad!! good!!!, bottle or breast!!, immunizations, homeschool, cloth diapers, potty-training...)but in all of this, the most important thing is that connection, in my humble opinion. There is more than one way to skin a cat, as my mother used to say, and all different ways to raise kids. My sixteen kids are mostly grown now, Camille is 11 and a half. So I've had a lot of chances to work on things, and figure things out, and my conclusion is that seeing the best in your child, lots of praise, positive attention, minimal nagging (oh that's been a hard one for me!), lots of encouragement, and taking time to just enjoy life with each of them, one on one time whenever possible...those things are important. No one cares that I used clothe diapers for several years, there is no prize for that.

The truth is, I've managed by the skin of my teeth and the grace of God, that's the real truth.

Here's some news: I am going to be a grandma, again! Mali and Josh (married in December) are expecting a new baby! Lydia is going to be a big sister!!!

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

a sunny day, a puppy's birthday, and more pictures...

The other day, Cam and I were heading out and about, and when we met at the door to leave, we looked at each other and oh my goodness, we were twins.

I did go on my walk this morning, yay me.

Waffletown. Lydia likes me to get down on the floor and play with her. I negotiated, I set it up, then sneaked off the floor. Or rather, heaved off the floor. We left it all out, not because we're lazy, but because Miss Anne is coming over this fine morning, and she'll love to play with it with Lydia!

And so many lovely wedding pics, they're so happy. I talked to Sam last night, and he's just so thrilled to be married.

And Miss Suri turned seven years old yesterday. She has a little tiny bit of white coming in on her beard, and oh my heart. Dogs should not grow old and feeble. She has, as Mirielle says, the cutest face on the planet. She's not perfect, she likes to bark at people, and if she starts a good jaunt down the street, you can call her name, she can stop and look over her shoulder at you, weigh her options, and trot away. Not always, but. But oh she's a sweetheart. She just wants pets and pets and pets. If you came to our house, she would bark at you, maybe even make a little growly noise, but she would be wagging the whole time and asking to be pet. Like, doing her job, but with a smile on her face.

Yesterday was a stay at home day, we got some school work done. For dinner, I made Chinese food...sort of. A huge package of fresh boneless chicken breast, cut into bite sized pieces, and put into a big baggie of marinade (some lemon and lime juices, a splash of olive oil, lots of Montreal Chicken Seasoning. A few hours later, the batter: a cup of flour, a cup of corn starch, salt and pepper (some people addd sugar), and a cup and a half of water or so, mixed, add all the chicken, stir it up...heat oil in a deep pan, and you're ready to add those pieces of chicken. I use little tongs to drop them into the pan. We also had jasmine rice (a teaspoon for me), and lots of fresh asparagus, yum. I didn't make homemade sauce because we didn't have some of the ingredients, but we have lots of bottles of sesame chicken sauce, etc., so we were all set. The kids really like when I make this, it's very occasional, ha.

Miss Lydia spent the night, and the older kids were at a youth meeting, so lots of Grandma time with Lydia. We read lots of books...Pinkalicious, Curious George, Mooch The's hilarious when she wants a turn to read to me, and she makes it up as she goes along. In our Three Bears book, after Goldilocks jumps out the window and runs away, the bears are looking out the window and there's a chicken in the grass. Lydia said, "Goldilocks turned into a chicken." It was so funny, she had that face she gets when she's not sure if someone is laughing with her or at her. Which made me laugh even more. Oh dear. But getting her brushed and flushed and into her jammies is kind of nice.

Today, Margaret needs some help with Wulf. She works full time from home, and takes care of the busy little Mr. too, I don't know how she does it. Today there are some important calls, so we might drive up there (25 minutes away), and take him to a play ground or something for a while so she can work. I don't think Anne and Lydia would mind a little road trip and a play you?

Right now I'm soaking in the quiet, before Lydia wakes up, and Anne arrives. My coffee is hot, the dogs have been out and back in, fed, and are snoring. I'm pretending not to notice the floors need to be swept...