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, October 31, 2019!...and wah!!!

Well, it's official, the little girls don't want to go out trick or treating. Camille said she felt funny going last year. So we decided to stay home and make chicken wings and watch a scary movie. (Jonathan is going with his friends). I COULD go over to Ben's house, which I would like to do, but the girls want to do stuff here, so I'll stay with them, and we'll have fun.

But I'll be honest. It's sad.

Here's Suzanne playing matching game with Anne...

Today, I am going to the store to get the chicken wings. I also have a list of stuff to get for this weekend, it'll be a busy one at church: a practice weekend for the Christmas concert, a volleyball weekend, and a hockey weekend. I'm helping Emily in the kitchen. Jon is playing hockey, Charlotte Claire's playing volleyball, Camille and Margaret are participating in the music, and Sonja will be in the kitchen with me. Too much fun!!!

Oh well, life is ever changing, and it's too short to be wasting time wishing things were different. Off well go...

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

parties and candy everywhere...

Paul and I were Mr. and Mrs. Claus for our kids' activity club party...and Wulf, our little say, "Make the face, Wulf!", and he makes that frown...then he grins. It doesn't get old. Cuteness overload.

Granddaughter Elise...

Orange Guy...and, I found Waldo!, or Abigail...with Wulf

That's my daughter Emily, playing doctor! The kids loved going to her "station" to get a check-up, a sticker, and a lollipop. She let them listen to their own hearts, too. (That's our granddaughter Anya, Elise's big sister, in the blue Cinderella gown)

So we had fun last night, and somehow I navigated through the pizza and the cider and donuts, and the candy candy candy, without having ANY.

Lydia came home with us last night and spent the night, Anne was delighted to arrive this morning, knowing her friend was here. They had too much fun, with a few good fights thrown in just to keep me on my toes. Anne was broken hearted when Lydia went home, but Suzanne read her Dr. Seuss' ABC's, and she's fine now.

I have to get ready soon, I'm going to calling hours for my cousin. I've not seen him in several years, but it's still important go and see his family. My dad was one of 12, only 3 left of them, and not all that many cousins anymore. Life goes by so fast, so use your days wisely.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

seasons of change...all good things come to an end...

Melancholy. It's always been one of my favorite words. Our house is changing. It's still home, it's still my favorite place in the world. I still have dreams that I move away, and the whole time I am reveling in the grandness of the new house (it's always like an HGTV house!), I am missing this place, wondering why I left "the house with the blue countertops".

But this house is getting quieter, and it's sad. Sometimes, you can hear the clock tick. We are not t.v. people, we haven't even turned on Jeopardy! in weeks. Not many years ago, there were eighteen of us living here in this house. The older ones start leaving, of course they do. These days, there are seven of us here at home. Evelyn was coming home on weekends (she works full time, and is in college full time, stays with Margaret and Adrian, a half hour away), but now is so busy with school, she seems to have settled in to just staying there most of the time. So last evening, I went in to her room looking for something, and it was...empty. Now that bedroom used to be shared by 2, three of the girls at a time. one is in there, except for when she comes home. It's a nice room. But it's empty. I forgot what I was looking for as I stood there admiring the mirrors that were painted, the bed painted gray, the nice colors of the walls, the little details put in to make it such a nice room...a room that was outgrown, discarded. A sad room. I cried my eyes out.

Empty rooms. Kids growing up. It's almost Halloween, and I'm excited. But my girls...they are getting a bit old for Trick or Treating, even the youngest two are wondering if they're too old. They are considering going, but it's not EXCITING for them this year. They are growing up.

It's not supposed to be sad when your kids grow up, it's part of life. But consider this: I've been in this game for almost 35 years. The house got busier and busier and more and more loud and full and crazy, then it started going in reverse, and's just strange.

In the last year alone, three moved out. Joseph got married and bought a house in town, Kathryn got married and moved to Oregon, Evelyn moved in with Margaret and Adrian. Now Suzanne is planning to move to California, there will be only four kids home.

It happens. I understand that. But please, allow me to wallow in my misery.

The grandchildren, oh they are blessings, they bring energy and life, vitality, into the house. Anne, too. She is a handful at times, but she is a little sunshine, too.

I am very thankful that I have enough to keep my busy. I am certainly not bored, but sometimes I do get a teensy bit lonely. Not for long though. I have some excellent older kids who don't mind hanging out with their mama!

Anyway. Paul is working from home, which I both love and hate, and if you don't understand that, I get it. Yesterday, for example, I called my sister. I hadn't talked to her in DAYS, so it wasn't a five minute phone call. It feels lazy to sit here on the phone hour...when he's working hard, so, shh, thank heavens for cell phones, I walked around outside with Anne, let her swing and climb and jump on the trampoline, while I talked to my sister. (At one point yesterday, he said, "Why don't you go out and rake the leaves so Anne can jump in them?" Um, because I'm sitting here comfortably?...)

I am lazy, lazier than the day is long, but I also like to have things relatively in order. The sink empty, the floors swept, the laundry done, and I don't like the house messy. So I do what I need to do, I just laze around in between. I really do love my comfy chair.

I did do ten push ups while my coffee water heated up this morning.

Here's another thing that's interesting...getting old. I thought the other day: if I live to 108, my life is half over.

Every ache and twinge, and I think dismal forebodings. Especially in the night. When you get older, and you fall asleep because you are so exhausted, then wake up at three or four, and the thoughts come in like a freight train, the wonderings and the worryings...there is an unending list of things to worry about. Me, my health, all the WHAT-IFs, then for all the kids! What if?!!! And then the grand kids, and my friends...oh dear. And then there are all the procrastinations, and the ideas, the home improvements, the lists...this can go on until exactly five minutes before I am supposed to get up, then I am conked out fast asleep.

(For the record, I do not actively give in to all of this anxiety. No sir. Jesus himself encouraged us to take his yoke and learn from him, for he is meek and humble of heart...and we will find rest for our souls. Rest for our souls. I'll take that! So I do pray my way through!)

And...Anne will be here soon.

Monday, October 28, 2019

parties and outings and bears, oh my!

Well, there is no bear, but there could have been, if Jonathan had his way. He actually went bear hunting in the Adirondacks this past weekend with two of his friends. They're crazy. But, it's good clean fun, and I'll take it. They camped out in the wilderness in the rain, but didn't see any bears.

Outings galore!

Saturday was a fun day with some of the girls. We went to a few stores, then to Chili's, their choice. I decided to let go of my apprehensions (money! calories! too much food!), and just take them there. They get a kick out of the whole thing, from choosing the appetizers to actually getting a drink that isn't ice water (it's included in the ten dollar special). I ate too many of the chips and salsa, but I did order steamed broccoli and roasted asparagus as my sides, a lot of good it did to offset the chipotle chicken crispers, but I didn't eat but half of them.

On Saturday afternoon, we stopped at Emily's house on the way home to drop off some donuts for the Halloween party she was having for the girls, but her power had just abruptly gone off. I offered to have the party at my house if it didn't get fixed right away.

So I had a party! (Her power is all restored, she needed the box replaced) It's kind of weird to go from being out and about without a care in the world, to be having lots of girls over for a party. Emily had already bought lots of food and snacks, but I had to clean up and make it party-ish. We put candles in the jack-o-lanterns, and lit lots of candles around here. I found an orange table cloth, and some Halloween cups in my stash. (See kids? It can be good to have lots of stuff!). I opened some Twix and some KitKats and put them on a big Pumpkin platter, we had cheese and crackers and pepperoni, a pizza, some baked breaded mozzarella sticks, chocolate cookies, donuts, pumpkin muffins (I made them, and the house smelled yummy). There were veggies and dip, and apple cider, and seltzers to drink. (I didn't eat anything, I had enough for lunch, and I know me: if I started snacking....:()

Anyway. The girls had fun. Here is Deb, Napoleon Dynamite, and Kip:

They played Mario Cart, and Just Dance, and were loud and silly and I think they had fun.

Yesterday after church, I went out and about with Abigail. It's very special to spend one on one time with your kids, even if they are all grown up and moved out. We went to a big shoe store to look for walking shoes for her, and I tried on several pairs of boots and shoes. I go from Birkenstocks to winter boots, because of my horrendously wide feet, and autumn weather is not cold enough for those furry boots, yet not sandal weather, and I am too old to pull off the socks-with-Birks thing. I had no luck, and Abigail ended up buying a pair of slippers.

Then we went to Kohls, where I lucked out, found a pair of black Eastland boots, an online return. They sell for $70, I got them for $23. They're 9 wide, I take an 8 1/2, but. I like them, and they seem like they'll work for my feet.

Paul had chicken in the oven when I got home, so I made some Brussel sprouts, spaghetti squash, and put some onion rings in the oven. Emily had taken Sonja driving (her road test is next week!), so she stayed for dinner.

After dinner, Camille helped me wrap Christmas presents! No, I am not super early and organized, but you already know that. It's for the kids' activity club party at church. Paul and I are doing the Mr. and Mrs. Claus theme, and I wrapped up the treats, so they each get a little gift.

It was a good weekend, but it went by too fast, and when I woke up this morning, I wished my bed wasn't so warm and comfortable, but then, I am glad it is. Anne will be here soon, and we will start the day as per usual, reading a whole stack of library books. I do have the best job, don't I? I get to watch Ms. Cuddle-Wuddles. She is super snuggly, and she would sit here for hours on end, with me in my chair, reading stories. Maybe today we'll go for a nice walk, too...

Friday, October 25, 2019

strange happenings and coyotes howling...

It is the spooky time of year, but what happened to me yesterday afternoon was not a funny kind of scary, at all. It was a busy afternoon. The kids were here, Anne was here, I was trying to oversee Jonathan making chili while I made bacon and eggs for Anne and me. We had gone out and about, to the library, all happy because our tire had been repaired for only $23! Then the van started making a horrible sound when I turned the steering wheel...such a grinding, grouchy sound, after the library, we came needed more power steering fluid. Anyway. We were home, and I decided to have some eggs as a late afternoon snack, brekky, early dinner, whatever you call the first meal of the day when it's eaten at four in the afternoon. While puttering in the kitchen, washing up a few dishes while directing Jon on chili-making, I started feeling funny. My eyes were having swirling problems. Seriously, swirling and really bright colors, I couldn't see clearly. It was stupidly scary, and I had to go sit down. I ate an egg, a few pieces of bacon, thinking maybe after fasting like this for three months, all of the sudden I had issues? I did feel a bit better, started to be able to see clearer. It was definitely in both eyes, which is good, and of course I texted Emily, my Nurse Practitioner daughter. She called me and asked some questions, and we both agreed it was probably an ocular migraine. I did get a headache after, and have been slightly headache-y all day long today, sinuses packed, you know, blah. She told me that years ago, when she was working in the ICU at the hospital, she had a terribly difficult case, and the family of the patient was challenging, and she got yelled at for something...she went into the bathroom, and when she looked into the mirror, her face was swirling. She said ocular migraines can be brought on by stress. So, she suggested I take today off from watching Anne, and just rest.

But here's the thing. Anne's dad is self-employed with a landscaping business. I wasn't just going to bail on him. So I asked Suzanne to get up and get the little girls on the bus for me this morning so I could at least sleep in a bit.

I have realized, since yesterday afternoon, that I am very tense. I need to chill. I need to consciously relax my muscles. Today we decided to go out and about because we needed to get some money for Jon, because I have borrowed from him for different things, and he is going on a bear hunt this weekend in the wilderness...and I needed to get Santa hats for Paul and week we are doing a Mr. and Mrs. Claus themed set-up for the children in the activity club. I also needed treats and some wrapping paper. When the kids come "trick-or-treating" at our set-up, they will get a little wrapped gift!
We also needed dog biscuits, yogurt, and bananas.

Home...ah, home. Jonathan made burgers, and we put a pizza in the oven. The other kids went to the youth meeting, Paul is home from his afternoon bow-hunting excursion, and it's quiet in here.

I am thankful that my eye swirling incident wasn't the death of me, and that here I am, alive, and making the most of life. It is a beautiful time of year, and I have much to be thankful for.

I rummaged through the hall closet today, searching for valances I know I bought from Target online a few months back. I found this!

Sam's Army blanket, he's been looking for it, knew he left it here...

I did find the valances, too. I ironed them and hung them up, and I like them.

Here is little Anne today...

Thursday, October 24, 2019

life is interesting...

It's absolutely gorgeous here in central New York state today.

(taken from my comfy chair...I told myself it'd be nice to go outside for pics, but...)

Grant, my sweet little grandson from Virginia, has gone home. They left yesterday, after a few bonus days of visiting due to vehicle being in the shop, for wheel bearings and state inspection. It was busy with little Grant here, he has lots of energy, but now that he's gone, I miss him. He has such a sweet disposition.

Samuel is good with kids, and Grant was okaaaay with sharing his daddy, while Sam read to Anne.

Anne likes to play with play dough. This is homemade stuff, it has a nicer consistency than the little cans of store bought.

Anne will be here in a little while. And in a little while I have to bring the van in, flat tire, ran over a nail. The place in town where Sam got his car serviced, said the tire cannot be repaired due to placement of the nail. This is a very new tire, like six months old. And you know if you replace one front tire, you have to replace the other one. So I'm bringing it to the other place in the other town, just to see if maybe they'll fix it. The valve stem also broke off, so...

You know, there's never a dull moment. And money just flows out like it's going down the drain, with car repairs, doctor bills, life. But you can't take it with you, and it's not worth stressing over, although I do admit to being tempted to anxiety...about money, health, my kids...I do lie awake at night sometimes, but that is a universal battle. It's not just moms, I would suppose it's an affliction of mankind. Jesus himself said to look at the Lillies of the field, who neither toil nor spin, and our Heavenly Father takes care of them. Be anxious for NOTHING, we are reminded in Matthew. But in reality, it is a serious trial to keep those words! It just doesn't come natural to me anymore. My younger self was more carefree, but now it's a challenge, but one worth taking up, because fighting against those anxious thoughts, fighting to get the peace of God, to trust Him, is so much more restful.

Okay, weight loss update: I am now only seven pounds over the lowest weight I got to around nine years ago when lost seventy pounds. Remember, I gained 30 back, so I guess I am down 23 since the beginning of July. I've taken breaks, like Norwegian chocolate in Norway, and the wine tours, and the California wineries, and Cajun fries in Cali, too...but in between, I've been very consistent in my fasting, eating mostly one meal a day, sometimes two, if brekky (in the early afternoon mostly, a few hours before dinner) is nice and low carb like a few eggs. I drink black coffee sometimes, but mostly I put heavy cream in it,'s good, ha.

Anyway. I'm happy it's working. It's slow, but I feel okay, and am optimistic that I'll actually get to a good healthy weight this time. After losing 70 pounds, I still had 30, 40, 50 to I am not done yet. Right now I could stand to lose at least fifty. I wouldn't be skinny. To be at my high school weight, it would be more like 70. So it's a work in progress, and I am not giving up!!!!!

Time to go get that tire fixed...

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

having visitors....

Sam, Grace, and Grant are here for a visit. They were due to leave yesterday morning but their car needs some work, so it's in the shop...and they are staying on for a bit extra.

Grant in the "rain car", jumping on the trampoline with Anne..

Wulf, my other grandson (Grant's cousin), and the pups.

Sam and Jonathan, and me.

We need a trip to the store, but the tire on the van needs repairing. It went flat on Friday night when we went to the pool, we filled it up, and dang it it was almost flat again yesterday. Paul looked at it, and yeah, it had a nail in it. So...if it can't be fixed, we get a new one, which prob means two new ones, and we just got new tires a few months ago. It's called, "life", I guess.

But in any case, we are running out of milk and are out of bread, and need a trip to the store really soon. In the mean time, Grant has the whole package of crackers...

Thursday, October 17, 2019

.....SO cozy!!!!...

So here I am, back into the midst of autumn, after that sunshine-y trip to California. It's raining today. It's dark and windy, the huge maple in the front is turning orange, the new metal roof amplifying the sound of the rain. My first coffee is gone, Paul is in the kitchen working from home today, Jonathan isn't out here be fair, he sometimes starts his schoolwork in his room in the morning, although he is quite possibly still sleeping. Anne will be here soon.

Just between you and me, I don't love it when Paul works from home. I always feel like I should maybe be doing something more than sitting here blogging, you know? I know watching Anne is a job, and homeschooling Jonathan is a job, and keeping the house clean and getting dinner on the table is something worthwhile...and being here in the mornings when the girls get on the bus is definitely a good thing. This fine dark morning, I made them a plate of hot, crispy, pancakes, fried up in butter, with a dash of brown sugar, cinnamon, and sugar in the batter. I make sure they have their lunches, and send them out the door with my best wishes for a good day.

But still, I feel guilty sitting around so much when Paul is working from home. When he's not here, I don't feel bad at all, because I kind of KNOW how much I actually do around here, but when he's here, I feel rather lazy.

I am thankful I can be here when the girls leave for school, and when they get home, too. I'm glad I get to putter around and keep things nice in here. After raising all these kids, having days and weeks and months and years of such busyness, one year we had ten kids in public school, from kindergarten to 12th. Year after year, I had four or even five younger than school age, here at home all day. In those years, it was obvious that I worked really hard, and though I have always been thankful to be at home, I really worked my butt off and it was justified to be here not working.

Today, Jonathan and I have to figure out his first homeschool report of the year, what he's done and how he's done, get that finished up and sent in to the school. We NEED groceries here, running out of cat food and paper towels...we need a meal plan, too. Suzanne is willing to look after Anne in the afternoon if we want to go to the store then, instead of waiting until she goes home around five, five-thirty...or we could go during the day, and take her with us. That's always interesting! She does like going out and about, but it's definitely challenging.

Anyways. Tomorrow night, Abigail is going to the pool with me, and whoever else we can get to come along too. It always feels fantastic to get into the water and move, I don't for the life of me know why I don't do it more often. Saturday is full of plans. Sam and Grace and little Grant live in Virginia, but are wanting to move to this area (YAY!!!!), so when Sam is doing Army things at his weekend drill, I might go apartment hunting with Grace. Later in the day we are doing church things, as well as helping Sam get his car inspected. Sunday, a birthday party for little Anya, turning 6, the oldest of our five grandchildren, as well as for her little sister Elise, who is turning two! I have the gifts all wrapped for Anya, but not for Elise yet. I've gotten Elise a sweet little dress and leggings, but want to get her a toy or book still.

Wow, the wind is blowing, the trees swaying, leaves blowing around, decorating the yard...its lovely.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

rain rain rain, but OH so cozy!!!

Some silliness today. Miss Lydia was here, and Anne came over, so...lots of stories!

I actually took a darned good nap today. We got home from our trip to California so late that it was actually morning. I went to bed after one, and dang it, could NOT fall asleep. So this morning was harsh. I HAD to get up with Miss Char and Miss Cam though! I made them French Toast! They got their report cards last week, and I am so stinkin' proud of them! Their grades were 92, 98, 92, 91, 95, and 96, and 99, 99, 100, 98, 97, and 98. I simply cannot tell you how happy this makes me. Here I was, worried they would be behind when they returned to "real" school after five years of homeschool. Well, apparently they learned quite a bit. They learned HOW to learn, they learned to enjoy learning, and they certainly enjoyed those childhood years.

Suzanne and Jonathan kept an eye on the little girls while I had my little nap today, it was a super enjoyable, yummy nap. I do not take naps as a rule. I used to, when I could, through the years when I was in sleep starvation. Now, I don't like to waste the time, and am seldom that tired, that I want to miss all the goings on, but today, wow I was tired.

Tomorrow I have to fit in a trip to the grocery store. I caught up on some laundry today, some cleaning up, some playing with play dough...and a visit with Mali and Josh when they picked up Lydia.

This coming weekend, Samuel and Grace are bringing little Grant for a visit! Sam has Army drill, but Grace will be here!

Oh, and can I say this?: I only gained one pound on the California trip. I thought more like five. We had homemade chicken pot pie with the butteriest crust, and also homemade raspberry pie, so tangy with the same crust with a pinch of sugar on top, with Tillamook vanilla ice cream...while watching the Great British Baking Show. We had homemade chicken wings, we had steak, we had hot baked brownies with walnuts and ice cream. I ate some fries. I had a small beer, and some wine. But, I tried to space it out, fast in between...but still, I'm happy with the result. It was a true vacation, good clean fun, lots of laughs, and very restful.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

4.5 earthquake, and bye bye to Cali

It’s challenging to blog on my phone. We’ve had a nice time with the boys, Mirielle and I. The landscape here is lovely and strange. Last night we made chicken wings, sweet potato fries, tarot tots, and roasted brussel sprouts. We watched SO many episodes of the Great British Baking Show! We’ve been to the Embarcadero on the bay, and to a few wineries. Today: San Jose airport, and ahhh....home.
I was awakened by a huge jolt last night. Then felt a few tremors. I suspected an earthquake, which is very scary of course, but I did go back to sleep. It was 4.5 and not far from where we are. I’ll go back to NY and endure snow storms, thank you.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Thursday, October 10, 2019's the little things..

Last evening, after Anne went home, I took the little girls to the thrift store so they could look for jeans. No matter what, we always find something funny there. I mean, the shorts Camille is holding up? I wished Evelyn was there, she always found good things, and the funniest dresses.

I found a LulaRoe dress with the tags still on, for $7.50. It is still snug, but it's a lovely dress: goals.

So on Tuesday night, Sonja took her five hour driving course, which is necessary here in New York, before one schedules the road test to get the driver's license. The small city is a 20 minute drive, so I just stayed there instead of driving home, then back again. Since it was a school night, the younger girls couldn't accompany, and Jonathan was helping at activity club. So I dropped Sonja off, or rather, she dropped herself off, and I moved to the driver's seat. She's a good driver, it's me, I get so nervous, my feet pressed to the floor on my invisible brakes.

So anyway, I was in the city all by myself for...five hours! I knew the course wouldn't actually last that long, shh, they let them out after four hours and ten minutes, but still. I had some time to wander, squander, browse, and dilly-dally. I went into Bed, Bath, Beyond, and found a few things to put away for Christmas, and something for Ashley's birthday. Then A.C. Moore, the craft store...going in there all by myself was slightly heavenly. I got a lovely fake autumn bouquet with light, muted colors, for 70% off, and some disposable icing bags for decorating, with the 55% off coupon.

Then to the thrift store all by myself. The books were ten for a dollar. I chose three, then overheard the cashier telling another customer that one had to buy them in quantities of ten or they were the regular price. What's seven more books, right? I found, Love You Forever, a Cinderella book (Anne loves Cinderella), and then pulled an Anne of Green Gables off the shelf...I leafed through it to make sure it wasn't an abridged version, and there, tucked inside the front cover, was a crisp twenty dollar bill.

I thought it maybe was fake, but of course I added that book to my stack. I've read all those books by Lucy Montgomery, long ago, but there's nothing like reading those rich phrases of Anne's, plus, there was twenty bucks in it!

When I got to the van with my $4.31 worth of goodies, which was ten books and a $2.99 Cinderella dress for Anne, I looked closely at that twenty, and decided it was fake because it was different than the one in my wallet.

When I got home, Paul said it was real. He held it up to the light, and said it was absolutely real. So I googled it, and sure enough, it is just a different model than the one in my wallet, a 1996 series. So yay me. It's not that it's a lot of money, it was just fun.

I'm leaving for California in the morning...we have to leave for the airport at 4 a.m., and do you think I have packed yet? I haven't even located the carry-on I'm bringing. I have done laundry, and have a foggy idea of what I'm bringing, but that's about it.

That's not too shabby, right?