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

Saturday, November 30, 2019

black Saturday...

We have had a glorious day. We lazed around with the Christmas tree glowing, had bacon and eggs and some coffee, and solved the worlds' problems. Jonathan is on a day trip to Seattle, Washington. He got to go play late night ice hockey with Darius last night, they got home at 2 a.m., then had to leave super early this morning. He went to the Starbucks headquarters:).

So Kathryn and I went out and about today, and got a little bit of Christmas shopping done. She is looking to get a comfy chair to rock that new baby in, when he arrives.
I tried this one out and decided she should indeed get it.

We were at Fred Meyer, which is a very cool store that we do not have in central New York state. Clothes, toys, food, all in one store. It was rather pricey, but fun to walk around in.

Miss Kathryn Grace:

We then went to T. J. Maxx, where I found this:

I did not buy it. But I wanted it. It would take up half my suitcase. And Paul would not understand if I brought it home. But, isn't it cute?

So tonight we shall have leftover turkey and fixings, and I'll have a tiny bit of pie. Not too much though, last night I had too much. Oh it was good, with Umpqua vanilla bean ice cream.

It's nice being here, Kathryn and Darius are pretty excited, me too. We got some tiny newborn onesies, and a few more little sleepers, I think they're all set for baby now. The car seat is ready, and the little swing all set up, the teeny diapers on the change table, and the little bathtub...the sweet thing is how excited Mr. Jonathan is, Uncle Jonny. He simply cannot wait to meet "Little Guy". :)

Friday, November 29, 2019

giving thanks in Oregon...

We got here at their house in Salem by 7:30 or 8 last night, and yes, then we went Black Friday shopping, just to Target and Walmart. They didn't have any Christmas decorations, so I got them a tree, and a few ornaments.

It's just a little $30 tree from Target, but it makes it so cozy and festive in here.

We had our turkey dinner today. I made on apple pie and one pumpkin pie today. Jon made sweet potato casserole with marshmallows and pecans (it stole the show). We had turkey and gravy, and mashed potatoes, and stuffing and rolls. The pies are waiting a bit, as Kathryn and Darius and Jonathan are playing Settlers of Catan.

It's been so nice to be here. I did miss a huge dinner at Benjamin and Ashley's place, over 30 there for dinner...

...but you can't be in two places at once, and this is where I am, and I am therefore content.

Darius and Jonathan are going to play ice hockey with the youth group tonight, so Kathryn and I are planning something on the line of a Hallmark movie and popcorn.

I have not heard any results yet of Wednesday's CT scan, nor of my bloodwork, so I am working on being content and thankful.

We are super excited about the upcoming birth. Kathryn has lots of Braxton Hicks contractions, the anticipation is wonderful.

Anyway, it's nice to be here in Oregon!

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

questions and no answers...

One thing I have learned, being a mom to 16 kids, is that sometimes there are no solutions to problems. Sometimes you have a baby who won't sleep, or who climbs out of their crib, or takes off all of their clothes every time they have to go pee, and you don't like this, so you try to solve the problem. But sometimes, you need to just DEAL with your own self, and let it go. Because, as it says in the book The Kite Runner, kids are not coloring books.

But anyway. Sometimes you do seek answers, and that's what I'm doing today. I went to the doctor for a physical, and to check out the intermittent pain I've been having in my side for the last month. It comes and goes, and when it goes, I'm like, "Phew, that's gone!" comes back. I think it's either a kidney stone or diverticulitis, or perhaps liver cancer or pancreatic cancer. Or, as Evelyn suggested, "...a 25 pound begign tumor, when it gets removed you'll be skinny!!" So who knows. I had blood work done today, and have a CT scan first thing in the morning, so I guess I'll get answers soon.

As I told the NP, I don't mind the pain, the discomfort, I can live with it and ignore it and procrastinate...and shh, if it IS cancer, I wouldn't even want to know...those kinds of cancer are killers, and why waste good money on so much suffering? I'd rather just be ignorant and bye bye. Sorry for being such a fatalist, am I the only one who jumps right to the gravest conclusions?

But, on the other hand, if it's as simple as diverticulitis, and an antibiotic will clear it up, and I'll live to be 95, I'll take it.

My blood pressure was not too bad today, 118/82. I don't take any meds except for vitamins, so that's a good thing. Hopefully my blood work will come back good too. is time to make those pies!!!! I cheated a bit: I stopped at Walmart and bought a food processor! It's just a cheap-0 one, a Black and Decker, (sorry Black and Decker, no offense), for $26.99. It'll help make that pie dough quicker. If anyone has any experience with making pie dough with one of these, please, give me pointers!!!!


Monday, November 25, 2019

packing for Oregon!

I should NOT be sitting here, no sir! I should be packing because the next few days are going to be busy busy! Tomorrow, I have my dr. appt. in the morning, then have to buy 40 pounds of apples, and make those pies with the youth girls. Then Sam and Grace and little Grant will be here on Wednesday for the day, and Wednesday evening the whole fam is coming here for a get together. I need to make a dessert for that, as well as some pies for our own Thanksgiving, which I won't even be present for.

So I can't do my usual procrastination, I need to get packed. I am not an organized person, no matter how much I try. My life would be so much easier if I were, and I'm not giving up on it, but oh dear, why do I put things here and there and everywhere? I am a draper and a dropper, and since the laundry room is no longer the huge clothes closet for 16 children (as the years went by and they each grew up and started taking care of their own clothes, hanging them in their own closets, the laundry room became more of a hodgepodge of bedding, storage for the crock pot, chalk paint supplies, bags of birthday gifts, you know, important stuff!) I store lots of my own clothes in that laundry room. That way, if I really want to find particular pair of LulaRoe leggings, I can look in like five different places. I did this recently to no avail, then found them this morning, yay!, on top of my dresser under a pile of important things.

So packing is more of first gathering things, then perhaps doing a load of laundry so things won't start out wrinkled, and in some cases, trying everything on first. I am fitting into more old clothes now, too, which is fun. This is exciting, mostly just to me, but I did hit a goal this morning:
I am finally, FINALLY, back down to the lowest number I hit on this weight loss journey, a number I went down to way back 7 or 8 years ago. I lost 70 pounds! Then, as I've said over and over again, life happened, menopause happened, and that scale stopped going down, and started going back up! So the 70 pounds loss was whittled down to 40-something, and back in June, I decided to get more serious. I started doing intermittent fasting in July, and of course I had some cheat-y times in Norway, after all, Norwegian chocolate!!! I had a few wine tours, on which one HAS to eat pretzels and sometimes pizza, and I've had times when I've gone out to eat with the girls and had whatever I wanted. But getting right back to it, avoiding sugar on a daily basis, eating either one or two meals a day, it's been working, slowly (oh, ever so slowly...for example, I've lost ten pounds in the last two months.). But I feel as if I can maintain this way of life, and if I keep losing at this rate, in a year I'll be at a healthy weight.

Anyway, here's another little before and after...the "before" was actually a sign just like this one, that said, "WELCOME". I didn't like it, I had gotten it for a buck at the dollar store, and it was on the wall covering up a place that we hadn't painted because there was a C.D. player, an under-the-counter one,...then we painted our cabinets, took that C.D. player down, and there was the old paint color behind it. So duh, I had to hang something there!

Anyway, I painted over the welcome sign with a few coats of primer, then mixed black and white chalk paint until I got a nice gray, then added water, painted it on and wiped it off with a paper towel...and made this! It's better than the welcome sign, and when the holidays are over, I'll find something else to cover up the old paint.

(this KITCHEN sign is next!)
You can see what I'm doing here, right? Procrastination at it's finest. I need to do so many things, but dragging out the blogging, so here I sit in my comfy chair.

Another thing, Walmart! I found a red and black plaid blanket/throw there for $4.96, and a five dollar pillow...

Anyway. Enough with the putting it off, I need to go pack. The UPS truck just came with my new hand mixer. I got the cheapest one possible from Kohl's a few weeks ago, as my thrift store one broke. I have a nice Kitchen Aid stand mixer, but you can't really do double or triple batches in it, flour flies all over the place. See? I'm babbling...bye.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

a REAL before and after, but still a work in progress...

It's a thing, to compare pics from ten years ago, because a decade has gone here's me a few weeks ago, then ten years ago:

That second pic was from our first time in Jamaica, our "honeymoon we never took" trip, when the sixteenth child was two years old.

I didn't start to lose weight yet at that point, obviously.

Yesterday was so much fun! Margaret and Wulf came for a visit, and we decided to go out and about a little...

(click on pic)

Walmart is already rather a zoo, I wish my Christmas shopping was all done. I feel so discombobulated (one of my favorite words) this year, but then, when haven't felt that?

To tell you the truth, I am in an all-out WAR against anxiety. I've never really been plagued with worry, but the last few years, oh dear! I find myself getting so worked up about everything! Even if I manage to fall to sleep with no problem, I'll wake up in a few hours, and my brain just starts going again!

Here's what I'm doing to combat it: praying. Talking to God. I KNOW that He sends all things for my very best, but there is still a working out, if you know what I mean...a testing of the faith. I need to be steadfast in prayer.

I also make lists to sort out what needs to be done, and that helps.

Also, I feel like I've spread myself too think for years on end, now I can't seem to manage that anymore. It's like I just start short-circuiting when there's too much on my plate.

I'm traveling out west in a few days, and have not even begun to pack, I need everyone to leave me alone and give me some time to concentrate, so I can pack, ha. I am checking a suitcase, it's only sixty dollars, I was mistaken. I have some baby things to bring for the newest grand baby! Just an FYI: if someone you know is going on a long distance plane trip to visit someone else you know, and you think it's a good idea to ask that person to bring a gift to the other person for you, think again. Instead, get the far away person's address, and mail the gift. The person flying doesn't want to be bogged down with all sorts of things to bring. (That's today's rant.)

I think part of my anxiety lately is that I am flying this week, and though I don't mind the flight itself, going through security hasn't been pleasant for me a few times, now just thinking about it makes me feel queasy. And it makes me mad. I am an American citizen, faithful, loyal, honest and upright, and to be treated like a common criminal just because I want to go bye-bye, ugh. The TSA is out of control. To be patted down like I was the last time, it's just wrong. The fact that so many people are okay with it is ridiculous. I know, being worried about it does not help one little bit, I AM working on it.

The other thing is that I've been having a nagging pain in my side for about a month now, in the liver/pancreas region. It's not terribly painful, sometimes achy, sometimes burning, but it's there, and it needs to be checked out. I have no gallbladder, so it's not that. And you know, Alex Trebek...

I have a dr. appointment on Tuesday. So we'll see. In the mean time, I am alive, and I do not owe Satan anything, so I will trust God and battle anxiety.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

not too long ago....

...there was a mom. She was tired and busy, but she didn't quite realize how rich and rewarding her crazy life was. When those small children grew and grew, and started moving out, that mama tried to grab onto those days, to make them slow down. But they didn't slow down. Those kids continued to grow up, and lo and behold: sometimes that mama's house was so quiet, one could hear the clock tick.

This is an actual picture of that mama, several years ago:

And, an actual picture of 15 of the 16 kids, biggest brother Benjamin was just returning from Afghanistan at the time...

(you have to click on the pic, otherwise it'll only show half of them)
Oh my soul, we had fun.

Last evening, Emily dropped by for a little visit, I love that. Then I went to the pool with Abigail, Mirielle, Marge & Adrian and little Wulf, and Sonja K. We came home, I made popcorn for dinner. I rarely have it anymore, but pop it on the stovetop in coconut oil, melt lots of butter, salt it, and yummers. Evelyn is home for the weekend, and it was cozy and nice to sit around and talk. I was so chilled after the pool, I had a cup of hot decaf coffee at ten p.m. :)

And the scale dropped a little more, probably because I exercised in that pool for a full hour, then only had popcorn, although I had some mixed nuts before I swam.

The house is quiet right now. The girls get up for school every day, and were super excited last night at the prospect of sleeping in. I was too, there seems to be very few days for it, and it was lovely. I kept waking up and dozing back off. Paul and Jonathan got up at five and went hunting, but I didn't wake up this time. Sometimes I do, and cannot fall back to sleep.

The school kids are officially on Thanksgiving break. They have no school until December 2, and I'm not sure they'll go even that day. Emily is taking Charlotte Claire and Camille to Winnipeg for the weekend, leaving at midnight on Thanksgiving, driving to Toronto, and flying out from there. They have some good friends there!

Anyway, I don't know what the day will bring. Evelyn is buying a car (yay!), Emily is making food for a band practice weekend at church, I am going out to help her with lunch. I'm thinking of bringing the 3 youngest girls out and about because we have too much fun. Samuel and Grace are coming for Thanksgiving with little Grant, they're coming on Wednesday, so I'll have a full day with them before I leave on turkey day with Jon to fly to Portland. I need to get packed before then, I suppose. All the fam will be here Wednesday evening for chicken wings and pizza and a little get together since I won't make the one on Thursday.

Ah well. Life is good.

Friday, November 22, 2019

oh yeah, Friday!!!!

Friday pie day. I have things to do this morning, and one of them is getting supplies to make 23 pies with the youth girls, for Thanksgiving.

Sometimes I hide things so well, I cannot find them myself. I bought three bags of Starbucks coffee last week. Two of the medium roast, and one bag of vanilla. I was thinking Christmas gifts, but this fine morning, Paul is working from home, and he wants "real" coffee. We only have pumpkin spice, maple, and then espresso beans (Jonathan!). It's not a huge deal to grind the beans, it's what he'll have to do, but...I looked EVERYWHERE for that Starbucks coffee, thought I'd just crack open a bag, but I put it away so well, I can't find it. dang.

Weight loss: it's slooooow going, but it IS going! I lose on the average of a pound a week. So seriously, 8 pounds in the last two months, but since July 1st, 27 pounds. I am not positive of the starting weight, I just know it was creeping upwards, and I was getting worried I would regain ALL of that 70 pounds I lost like 7 or 8 years ago. I am now only 2 pounds away from the lowest I got in that 70 pound loss. I still have 40 to 50 pounds to lose to get to a healthy weight, and this lifestyle seems to be working for me so far, so hopefully, it'll work. I know I sound like a broken record, all these years on this blog, denying myself this and that, and always still fat. But, I have mostly given up sugar. I eat a spoonful of crunchy peanut butter after dinner some nights, and that does have sugar in it, but it's SO good, and it satisfies me. Last night, I had one and a half burgers,(they were BIG burgers, real beef, no fake meat here!) no bun, with some tomato and pickles. Some celery, and a heaping spoon of peanut butter. That's all I had for the day. Sometimes I have more for dinner, sometimes I have two meals, one being eggs, because they're so healthy. But no brekky, no snacks, and mostly, no sugar. I just don't eat the cookies or the candy. I just don't. "Just a little" doesn't work for me.

It's dark and rainy and windy today, so cozy, my favorite kind of day, except of course the blazingly sunny summer days, but that's a whole different story. I'm just glad it's rain and not snow. Snow is lovely, but I hate driving in it.

My van is back from the shop, $450 later, and there is a leak in the transmission line now, it'll be $210 to fix that. This van is a 2008. It's a nice model, leather seats and power doors, but oh dear, it's been pricey to maintain. Every time we sink more money into her, I think we need to drive her longer to get our money's worth. But one of these days, ugh, we need a new one! Our second minivan is sitting in the driveway, same year, needs too much work. Money doesn't grow on trees, does it? Paul's truck is still doing all right, it has 4 wheel drive, too. I would LOVE an all wheel drive or 4 wheel drive vehicle for driving in the snow. A minivan...ugh.

Anyway. All the things we want and need, but in the end, the only thing that matters is how faithful we've been in all those little trials in our days. The oil in our lamps will be of value. Not how thin we got, or how nice our house was, or if we found perfect Christmas gifts, or if we successfully hid our gray hair. No one lives forever, and we all must stand before God someday, whether we want to think about that or not. I often picture myself there, and it shouldn't make me tremble. If I seek and choose to please Him, in every thought and action, in all my days, praying for wisdom and guidance, then I will have nothing to be ashamed of. When you think of this, it's rather easy to let grudges go, and be kind instead. I am very very thankful that God has blessed me so much! There is nothing of more value, than to be faithful in your days.

That's all the preaching I'm going to do today, ha. But honestly, when you count your blessings, when you're truly thankful for what God sends your way, life becomes rich and good.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

so very proud...

These two! They homeschooled for FIVE YEARS. Five years of bliss for mama. We went on excursions and trips...Florida, Washington state (Seattle, Mt. Rainier!), Virginia, Washington DC, Florida a few times, Georgia, and of course, Norway this past summer. We had picnics and shopping trips, and too much lazing around the house solving the worlds' problems. We had cozy schoolwork in front of the little space heater, we had baking days, and room renovation days.

They went back to "real" school this year, 7th and 8th grade. And as I wrote before, I was a teeny tiny bit apprehensive..., okay, sometimes downright FRIGHTENED that they weren't prepared to go back! I would lie awake at night, picturing them not keeping up at all. They wouldn't fit in, they couldn't keep up...but, guess what? They HAVE kept up. High Honor Roll for both of them!!!!

They get up every morning all by themselves, I get up too, but they wake themselves up. They arrive in the kitchen all dressed (and I might add that they both do their own laundry and take care of their own clothes). They remember their gym clothes, keep them washed and clean, Camille remembers her instrument (she plays the clarinet in band), and they get their lunches packed every night. I help if they want some brekky, Char usually declines, but Cam is always up for some toast, a bagel, or if I make French toast, Char will have some too. They go out that door every morning, haven't missed a day yet!

So I am thankful. I'm thankful that their years at home didn't do them any harm, they learned more than they thought they did. They learned responsibility and I think they are quite self confident.

So our minivan is back in the shop. The appointment the other day was a diagnosis, to order the parts. Today is the actual fixing day, power steering fluid leak. Five hundred dollars. ouch. That old van, ugh.

Paul and Jonathan are out in the woods hunting, and Anne is coming over soon. I have a store list for next week, I want to get things before the stores become absolute-before-Thanksgiving ZOOS. Our youth girls from church, including some of my girls, are baking pies for a fundraiser for their youth trips, and guess who has to get the supplies?

I also have to get some things for the turkey dinner on Thursday, Thanksgiving!!!! I am so sorry I have to miss it. 13 of the 16 kids will be there, all the grandkids...and some of our friends, too. It's going to be at Ben's huge house.

But alas, Jonathan and I will be getting on a plane, and heading out to Oregon, to be with Kathryn and Darius when they are having their baby. Believe me, I am happy about that! Sometimes you have to miss one thing to be there for another, I suppose!

These two were here yesterday, Lydia and Anne:

Anne was playing with purple play dough, making "muddy puddles" for her toy dog to jump in.

And these two, just because: cuteness! Suri just gazing out the window. I do wish they were never allowed on the couches, but Paul was so smitten with Suri when she was just a sweet little Lab puppy, he encouraged her to always sit with him. They are cuddles, but they are also hairy couch hogs. I have to wash those covers a few times a week!

Anne...she loves being read to. She will bring a stack, then when I read them all, five or six books, she wants to start over again. Little kids do love repetition, but for me, ugh. I love the cuddle part though, and it's a good measure of selfishness, being with a small child all day:). It is SO good for me!!! And, of course, I love her to pieces.

...because Kettler is cute too. She was purring and cuddling, because her kitty food dish was OH HEAVENS, empty. I always give the kitties a small dash of cream when I get my coffee, so both of them will come a-running when they hear the kettle. Cats are too smart.

So you know you're a rural hick when you have to make sure to pick up the deer leg from the deck, and throw it over the side into the garbage can before anyone comes over. Sunny must have taken it out of the can in the first place. She's whining to go out, and get into that can. ugh. It is so disgusting. I mean, I was born and raised in the suburbs, for goodness sakes. My father went deer hunting a few times, but he didn't actually shoot anything! Jon has gotten two this year, and there's nothing like that deer hanging in the tree in the front yard to cure. I really wanted to put a red light on it's nose. It's gone now, Jonathan butchered it yesterday. It's a very long process, and he did it all by himself, at the kitchen table. We use disposable tablecloths and lots of cutting boards, I didn't help him, because sorry, I am too squeamish. It makes me feel bad, all the work he puts into it, but it's his thing, I guess.

I think it might be a good day to make cookies. I can't go anywhere since the van is in the shop, and I have already decorated for Christmas, and wrapped most of the gifts I've already bought...

Tuesday, November 19, 2019


Okay, so this wasn't an earth-shatteringly important project, but I enjoyed it. I did forget to take the "before", but it was just unfinished wood. Some chalk paint mixed with water, for the gray I mixed black and oatmeal colored chalk paint, the words "Joy" and "Peace" came in a package with "Believe", from the dollar store, for a dollar. It was just fun to do.

I also whitewashed a whole package of wooden hearts, and glued little hangers of string on them, for old fashioned looking tree ornaments. In the middle of all this, my glue gun died. I think it might have been clogged up, but in any case, the hot glue was gushing down the sides instead out of the proper place. It was very old, Paul got it for me before we lived in this house, back when we were in our mobile home, maybe 30 years ago! Suzanne was mentioning she needed more yarn, so we made a 2 o'clock in the afternoon, spur of the moment, trip to the craft store. Jonathan came along because he wanted the propane tank refilled for the grill, as he has lots of venison (he shot a small buck with a bow, now it's shotgun season, and he got a doe). So Jon walked around that store with me, saying how ever single item in there is rather useless. I suppose it't true. But I LOVE that place!!!

A new glue gun, some yarn, a few more packages of ribbon, and we were on our way home again.

I do need to go get some groceries again. The van has to go into the shop this afternoon, hopefully it's an easy fix this time.

So the seasons have clashed. The beautiful autumn leaves have all fallen, and we have had snow, so the fall decorations look sad now, even though Thanksgiving hasn't yet arrived. We do still have a few things around, notably the pumpkin spice coffee...the clash of the seasons:

But I do love Christmas decorations!

I'm trying to be more organized (the story of my LIFE!), and meal plan, for at least a week at a time...who am I kidding, it's like five days, and I feel accomplished. Yesterday when we were out and about, we were wondering what was for dinner, because my last week's meal plan had ended and the new one hasn't been made yet, a work in progress I am. Suzanne remembered we had a ten pound bag of chicken wings in the freezer, so she texted Sonja K., who was home from school by then, and asked her pretty please to put the wings in the oven.

We tossed some in parmesan garlic sauce, some in barbecue, and some in Frank's Red Hot sauce with melted butter. mmmm.

So this fine day, I need to make another meal plan, and go to the store.

Also, I need to get some of the Christmas shopping out of the way.

The girls do a Yankee swap gift exchange for their youth girls' party, we need three gifts for that. Jon will prob do the same with the boys, but he has his own money. Then the kids buy gifts for the children, then we do a family Secret Santa, etc., I think I wrote about this we have THREE December birthdays, Aaron, Abigail, and Margaret. I am trying to write everything down, it's nice to have notes on my laptop that is synced to my phone, no more keeping track of a spiral notebook:). If I were smart, I'd wrap everything I already have...

Anne will be here soon, and I think Lydia will come today and spend the night. It is precious to have little ones in the house, and it's the best cure there is, for laziness.

Monday, November 18, 2019

before and after...

Everyone loves a good Before and After, so I am going to whitewash a Christmas tree today, and I'll remember this time to take the BEFORE pic, ha. It's just a wood tree I got for five bucks from the craft store, and I spent an inordinate amount of time researching how to whitewash wood.

If I don't do crafty things once in a while, I go nuts.

This is another reason I am thankful I don't work. Well, I do watch little Anne, but you know what I mean.

Friday, I was super thankful I don't work. My three daughters needed me! Emily called me and I was more than happy to help. Emily lives in a house in town, with Abigail and Mirielle. Here is a pic with them with a few of their friends (they had a Friendsgiving on Saturday).
(Emily, Abigail, Jen, Janette, Mirielle, and Page)

Anyway, they were having dire plumbing issues, but the three of them work full time, (Emily is a nurse practitioner, Abigail is an accountant, and Mirielle is a cancer/chemo certified R.N.)...and someone had to be there to greet the plumber. So I arranged for Anne to be dropped off there instead. I don't actually suffer from social anxiety, but this is not on my list of favorite things to do, meeting strangers and answering the questions I don't know the answers to, like, "Where is the septic tank?" "Did the water back up into this particular sink?", and "Was this tub affected?" I did know that they do indeed have a basement, ten points! I ended up calling Em at work and having her talk directly to the plumber. He didn't seem to understand that I did not live there, so I answered the best I could and showed him around. He got it all fixed up, lickety split, charged one arm and one leg, and left. Phew.

Of course he thought Anne was adorable, because she is, and she chatted with him because she loves everyone, so he showed me a pic of HIS three year old, and I told him that my three oldest daughters lived in this house...and that I had eleven daughters all together...and he said, wow, no boys! Well, I said, there ARE five of those, too.

I do admit, it's fun. It's fun to shock people like that. I can feel the transformation from Normal Person to Crazy Lady, seriously. I wanted to tell him not to worry, it's not contagious.

Anyway. I loved to be able to help the girls like that. When you love someone, or someoneS, ha, it's easy to do nice things for them, you WANT to. And if you don't want to and you do it anyway, it makes you happy. My older girls have been SO good to the younger ones, I owe them everything.

We had a cozy weekend. I baked pumpkin spice muffins, and didn't eat any, the girls made brownies. Paul came home on Saturday, and then in the afternoon, the girls were going stir crazy, so we went out and about for a little bit. One of the fast food places had a special on any size curly fries with cheese sauce for a dollar, so I took them there for some junk, then we drove to the small city for a little shopping. Do you know how hard it is to smell those fries and not have any?! I should lose like five pounds for that endurance!

(cousin Dani, me, Miss Char behind Camille, and Sonja K.)

We didn't get much, but let me tell you, it's hard to go to the stores with all the adorable nostalgic Christmas stuff that I do NOT NEED, and not buy it all. I love the red plaid, the black and white Buffalo plaid, the trees in the tin pails, the whitewashed signs...but I resisted.

Yesterday, Margaret was with us because Adrian joined the boys out deer hunting. We decided to go to Target because it's nice to get little Wulf out a bit. Emily joined us, too. So me, Emily, Marge, Sonja, Charlotte Claire, and Camille, and Wulf. Evelyn stayed here to do school work...she is working full time and going to college full time, so she is very busy.

Target, same: lovely Christmas decorations that I do not need.

Home, ah, I was glad I put chicken in the crockpot. It was marinated in lime juice and cilantro, and oh how good it smelled when we walked in! We had fajitas again, chopped tomatoes, green peppers, fresh cilantro, cheese and sour cream, black olives, ect.

It's snowing out right now, it looks so festive and lovely, the flakes floating down so gracefully.

I've been doing a bit of online shopping, getting a head start on Christmas. At church, the youth aged kids choose names for children, and my kids have all aged out of being the children, ha, but they all chose names yesterday to buy gifts for Christmas. We're having a nice Christmas feast/celebration/concert on the 22nd of December, now we have some children to buy gifts for, in addition to the grandchildren. We also do a Secret Santa in our family, so I have to help (and pay for!) Sonja, Jon, Char, Cam, get their gifts. Then I get things for the kids still at home, then just a little something for the older ones...then something for Paul, and for our friends at church, usually a little something for each family, like a nice candle or an ornament, or some chocolates or mints. It's a lot, and this year I'll be gone from Thanksgiving day until the 14th of December, in Oregon, with Kathryn and Darius, and that wee newborn that's coming! So I have to do things in advance, that's why I'm starting early.

Anyway, I have enough to keep me busy, don't I?

Thursday, November 14, 2019

maudlin old fool...

I seriously had tears in my eyes, and this is true: The new Hess truck commercial. "The Hess truck's back, and it's better than ever..."

Why? Because my Samuel, who is 24 years old, was in LOVE with Hess trucks. His gramma would get him one every Christmas, and he kept them all nice...then Jonathan came along, born when Sam was nine, and was soon obsessed too. He was allowed to play with Sam's trucks, but he used to bite the tires off. As he grew older and inherited all of Sam's old trucks, he would get a new one every year from Gramma...a few years ago, he was actually counting the days until the season's new model was revealed. It was a big deal.

Now, Jonathan is 15. He remembers those days fondly, but is no longer interested in having the new truck. He is more into hunting, and fishing, and hiking, and playing hockey.

So why tears? Because the little boy grew up, the sweet innocent little boy. And, being the youngest of the five boys, it magnifies that they all have grown up.

That's not supposed to be sad, but it is, to me.

I know I have been extremely blessed to have shared in so many childhoods! I mean, years and years of making forts, and playing play dough, going sledding, and getting new coloring books. I have been extra blessed, this went on for so many years, I thought it would last forever.

Now, Camille is 12. She doesn't care for toys anymore. She got her nails done, as a birthday gift this year.

Don't get me wrong, I am not walking around crying. Ha, I'm sitting in my chair crying! No, seriously, I am happy, but sometimes it just hits me, the way they grow up so quickly.

Last night, we went to the pool...Suzanne, Sonja, Jonathan, Charlotte Claire, and Camille, the five youngest. Sonja does independent gym now, and has to get her 90 minutes a week. We were in the water for almost an hour, and it felt fantastic. I always say I need to go more, and I do.

We've been watching (re-watching) Downton Abbey. What is more cozy than that? Christmas lights, the fake fireplace humming, a hot cup of tea...

So weight loss is slow, but I did try on some clothes this morning, and they are fitting better, looser. It's not fair, of course, I read the success stories of other people who do intermittent fasting, Keto diet, ect., and oh the results they get! I think I've ruined my metabolism over the years, I seriously ate a big bowl of popcorn the other day, right before dinner, and gained two pounds. That was a funny story. While I was in Ottawa that Friday night, Evelyn made homemade popcorn, with lots of butter, for the girls. They only ate a little of it. Now, popcorn is my absolute favorite, especially stovetop popped homemade like that, with lots of butter. Anyway, it was in a pan with the lid on it, and someone was cleaning up, and put that pan in the cupboard with popcorn in it. I needed to use that pan on Sunday when we were having the surprise baby shower, imagine my surprise and delight when I discovered that popcorn!

Two days old, everyone else said to throw it out. Um, I could not resist it. I haven't had popcorn since the night in California when I shared some microwaved stuff, and before that, a while. I used to have it every week, but have cut it out. So I had just one piece, then dumped a bunch in a bowl, threw away all the rest, and sat down and enjoyed the heck out of that bowl of popcorn. And I did gain two pounds.

Anyway. Now I want popcorn, ha.

I went threw a bunch of clothes today, found a skirt I wore a few years back...I slipped it on, and it was HUGE on me. Then I tried on a pair of jeans that I wore just a few months ago, and they are too baggy. That's not too shabby, right?

Jonathan and I are leaving in two weeks for our trip to Oregon. I am very excited to spend some time with Kathryn and Darius, and to be there to welcome their new baby into the world. I hope he is born right when we get there, so we have maximum newborn snuggling days before we have to fly the 2,783 miles back home. If I were smart, I'd be booking another trip out there in like February, I can't go so long without seeing that little baby boy.

Being a Grandma is a double blessing! My five grandchildren all live pretty close, Grant is in Virginia but they are planning to move to this area in the summer:)

Yesterday we went out to the craft store. I picked up a few Christmas presents, and some black and white checked ribbon, plus an unfinished tree to some unfinished wood hearts to paint and make into tree ornaments, despite knowing we don't need any more Christmas stuff. We went to Bed Bath and Beyond, and I got a new little rug with a red truck with a tree in it, for $7.85. Then to Dollar Tree for $13 of stuff we "needed". I did get Anne two cute little bird ornaments. She fed them and sang to them all the way through the next stop, Aldi. We got beef for Carne Asada, cilantro, a bag of limes, tomatoes...tonight, fajita night! The beef is marinating in a mix of cilantro, lime juice, salt and pepper, vinegar, olive oil...there is a bag of chicken breast marinating, too. Dinner is going to be good.

Anne will be here soon...

Wednesday, November 13, 2019's beginning to look a lot like...

...decorating way too early!

I know. It's way too soon for Christmas. 42 days, eeks. But, yesterday I wanted to sort through the Christmas stuff, partly so I wouldn't go buy more stuff we just do not need. So we dragged up all the bins...put up lights in the windows, then decided WHAT THE HECK. We may as well just decorate. The tree won't come until probably the second week in December, because we like a real tree. And next week when the snow melted and the dust bunnies start to collect on all the little snowmen in here, I'll wish I had waited. But we played some Christmas music and had a very nice afternoon.

Ah well. Today is very cold, way under freezing, but the snow has stopped and we might venture out...

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

well, burrrrrr!

We didn't get as much snow here as we thought we would, but it's enough, thank you. And it's cold. Refreshingly cold, I might add. I did go out and shovel a path on the deck, steps, and down the driveway before Jonathan came out and cleared the rest with the snowblower. (He also took out the trash!)

It's snowing right now, and it feels just so Christmasy! We put lights in the windows yesterday, I want to sneak the decorations in little by little, ha.

We had to take Sonja to the dr. yesterday in the small city (knee is doing okay!), and we also went to BigLots for extension cords, a tarp for Jonathan, and...well, AND! There were a few tiny little decorations that sneaked their way into our cart! An adorable throw pillow, too. And a few gifts, also.

Then the grocery store, because with the snowy cold forecast, it's nice to be stuck at home with lots of meal choices. We did make a meal plan first, last night was spaghetti and meatballs. I skipped the spaghetti part. The meatballs come out really good when you put some hot sausage into it, yummers.

Tonight is waffles and bacon, chaffles for me. (low carb, mozzarella cheese and egg, with just a teaspoon of almond flour...I might add some pumpkin too). I'll make some scrambled eggs too, to get some protein into those children of mine.

Jonathan has become quite the barista lately. He grinds the espresso beans, makes French press coffee, espresso in the little pot on the stove, froths the milk. He made me a cup of maple (Aldi!), hot and yummy.

And here, just because they're cute...Paul too:)

Monday, November 11, 2019

well, a long time ago...

...I had a baby. He was very very small, compared to the first two. Yes, baby #3 was born a week early, and he was a little peanut, 6#3ounces. I was a bit worried, but the pediatrician said, "He'll grow."

And he did. He grew into a three year old who loved to vacuum. He could pick up the toys and vacuum the living room all by himself. He was obsessed with the violin, so I bought him a toy one. He was friendly and energetic and when we built this house, he liked coming here to the building site to help his daddy. We celebrated his fourth birthday here in this living room, when the walls were still plywood shells and the table we used was a stack of boards.

He grew more, and his extra energy did him well, he played basketball and football in high school...but he did get in with some bad influences, and that is a whole 'nother story, which we will skip over. But I will say this: when this boy hit rock bottom, this mama prayed and sobbed and entreated God for help, and God answered. He said, "If you don't believe he can be help, how can you be of any help? You need to believe." So I told God that I believed.

Anyway. Benjamin had God's hand on him, he went off to the Army, he was a medic in Afghanistan, he had some rough times, and trials galore, but he has done well, and is in a good place. I am extremely proud of him, and love spending time with him and his family. He lives ten minutes away, in a big house, a big open home, friendly and warm. What more could a mama want?

Benjamin with Ashley and Anya and little Elise...and with Elise.

He is thirty one years old today, which cannot be possible, I was 23 years old when he was born. He was actually #4, I had a 12 week miscarriage exactly a year before his due date. He was our little baby boy, we had Emily and Abigail and little Benjamin Bunny.

There are days and days in raising children, days that add up to years...and in those days, we have opportunities to turn to God, to pray for wisdom, to acknowledge how little we know! Looking back, I see how I could have been on my knees so much more! But I am thankful for Benjamin, my Veterans' Day baby!

Yesterday, we had a surprise baby shower for Mali and Josh, Lydia is going to be a big sister! Mali was pretty surprised.

We had pulled pork nachos with tomatoes, peppers, black olives, sour cream, shredded cheese and melty cheese (queso). Ashley brought broccoli cheddar soup and Emily brought the best meatballs ever. We had cookies and cupcakes (Suzanne made chocolate cupcakes, and strawberry cupcakes, which I frosted...some with homemade pink buttercream, some with canned chocolate). There were other chips and candy and snacks too...

I do wish I took more pics!

Today, Paul is going to Nevada. Today, Sonja has to go to the orthopedic doctor because her knee is swelling again. Her knee and our minivan seem like kindred spirits, going in to the shop and costing all the money ha. (The van is leaking power steering fluid...)

Today, snow is coming. Lots of snow here in the northeast. We are due south of Lake Ontario, which is still warm, and when cold air comes over that lake, the lake effect snow just hammers us. Those to the direct east of the lake get more, but we are also in a "snow belt".

It's going to be bitterly cold this week too. I plan to stop at the store for milk and bread this afternoon when I'm in the small city, then stay huddled at home until it's all over. I must be getting old, so daunted by snowy roads!

Friday night, Margaret and I, and my sister Cheryl, drove up to Ottawa. We didn't go into the city, a small town on the outskirts, to a baby shower for Cheryl's youngest daughter Audrey. It was SO nice to see old friends and have such a warm encouraging time!

Of course our visit included a trip to the grocery store, so we could get some good breakfast things for Saturday morning.

This was a small expensive store, but still: the prices are so much higher in Canada!

And...this, because it's cute...