summer 2011

summer 2011

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

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

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

...and they all just blend together...

The cows down the road, and the horses, and the TRUMP 2020 flag hanging from the barn...what a nice afternoon for a walk.

Now, it's late afternoon coffee time while Jonathan, such a good boy, is grilling burgers.

We had a very busy day. We cleaned out the linen closet in the hallway, AND the laundry room. We sorted and folded and washed and dried, made bags for the thrift store, and for the garbage-io. Shh, there were three strollers in the laundry room. We only saved one. One was an umbrella stroller from when EMILY was a baby, and she's 35.

We found things we didn't know we had, like the copper brownie pan (thank you, Cheryl!), and a bag of goodies and trinkets from the costume jewelry clearance at Kohl's. We found treats, too:

Christmas Reese's trees and miniatures!

Our laundry room is now cleaned and organized. We got rid of the last remaining sock basket, now that all keep their socks in their own drawers in their own rooms. For years and years, the dreaded sock basket sorting was an EEK producing experience. Abigail, Charlotte Claire, and I pulled out the pairs we could match, and actually dumped the rest...years worth of socks from the bottom of the basket, with no matches, into the trash, and please: don't tell me that I could have used them for something. I need LESS stuff!

We're not bored yet. The state has ruled that there will be no April break this year. More packets will be delivered, more school work, which is actually welcome news. The kids have moved along at lightening speed, and getting work done keeps them busy. Anyway, the district is sending out more work, the buses will be stopping at each house, and the superintendent says the kids will also be getting a surprise. I am intrigued, and can't wait to see what it'll be!

Hopefully the weather will warm up and we can get outside more and get the yard nicer. It's actually nice to have the kids here, ready and willing to get things done. It's nice to go on walks with them, and plan meals, watch The Simpsons...they've been playing The Settlers of Catan, I let them order an expansion pack.

Anyway, it's going well here, battling sin, seeking to please God in all the things during the day, and in the night too, when the scary dreams come...

Monday, March 30, 2020

but I like staying at home!!!

A little bit of springtime...

Yesterday, Abigail and Jonathan and I took a little drive...we parked down the street from Molly's apartment building, and she came out with little Ophelia, the huggy bear, and little Lydia...we couldn't hug them. We talked, as Lydia danced up and down the sidewalk, keeping our distance. We left them with some gifts, a new kitty backpack with a stuffed bunny rabbit in it, and a basket full of count-down-to-Easter eggs. We labeled each egg/gift, so there's one for each day, then a cute little chocolate bunny in a bigger plastic egg, for Easter morning. We thought it would be a nice way to brighten Lydia's days...

Our next stop was at Anne and Davian's house, to drop off some treats, then to Sebastian and Linnea's, then to Ben and Ashley's. Ben was in the woods cutting firewood, Elise was napping, but we saw Ashley and little Anya, we stayed outside, they stood in their doorway. (It's so hard!). We gave them treats too, the count-down-to Easter baskets, and little backpacks and stuffed bunnies. The idea is that Lydia and Anya with Elise can FaceTime each day when they open the new egg, they get the same ones each day.

We drove around and delivered our goodies, then home...ah, home.

This morning, I talked about how Germany is doing antibody tests, so those who have immunity will be able to return to work. I suggested we get busy on that here, so things can go back to normal. Evelyn said, "No, I like staying at home!" I cannot tell you how much this warms my heart. We've been stuck here for all these days, and they all said they still like it. And this is Evelyn, who has been working and going to college and living 45 minutes from here, for quite a while, now back it's nice to hear that it's been good here.

She has been amazing, I must say. She organized the pantry, and with Sonja, organized the homeschool/art supplies, and cleaned out the game closet. Are we the only family with SEVEN game of Monopoly? Sponge Bob version, StarWars edition, etc.

Yesterday Jonathan grilled chicken breast outside, we made roasted asparagus, some cauliflower and green beans, and a big pan of roasted sweet potato fries, and some Basmati rice. Tonight's plan: leftover grilled chicken, macaroni and cheese and some cauliflower and cheese (frozen cauliflower!), and maybe some Buffalo cauliflower.

It is rather sweet to have so many of us together for so long...we puzzled last night:

Two piece don't fit in right! We did the entire puzzle yesterday, spent so much time trying to figure out the last few pieces, finally concluded that two pieces aren't cut right. It was a fun puzzle though!!

We have lots more in the closet...and Mr. President has just suggested we maintain social distancing for another 30 days...

Sunday, March 29, 2020

a surprise...

A new table soccer game!

Paul's birthday is next week, but we decided to surprise him early. It's a small-fish table, but it was only $29, one of those impulse buys. We had it hidden, and the kids put it together and brought it into the living room last night. Paul jokingly said at one point, "Stop playing that game and get back on your devices..."

We just finished watching a Netflix show called, The Stranger. It was very interesting, lots of layers, subplots...a bit of language, but nothing really bad in it. It's set in the U.K., so every time they got in their cars, it was like they were going around to the wrong side. We enjoyed it though, parceled it out and watched it together. Now we have to find something else, and believe me, finding something that is appropriate, and of general interest to eight people...well.

We walked in the rain yesterday. I got soaked, my coat apparently isn't waterproof...I mean soaked down to the underclothes. It wasn't a big deal to go in and change, and we didn't melt.

We also sorted and organized and found old pictures...

When I had babies, the kids would come to visit, and it was such a joy! I would let them get in the bed and push all the buttons. Joseph is the little boy looking at the buttons, Benjamin was holding the newborn, Margaret Cheryl, our ninth. Benjy was all of eight years old in this pic. Ben's the third youngest, Ab had just turned ten, and Emily was going to turn 12 in a yeah, we had nine kids, oldest one 12. (they got a little closer together after that, ha, Margaret was the oldest of five that were born in five years, and so on...)

This pic though: the joy that babies brought into the house! It wasn't all turmoil and mess!

Yes, we had fun. Yes, it was crazy. Yes, I would do it all over again.

Paul and I are the only ones up, sipping our coffee like old people. We have a virtual church meeting at eleven, and will probably make French toast for brunch. Dinner is chicken on the grill, rain or not, and asparagus. We have some things to deliver today, a little something for Lydia, for Anya, and for Elise. I had this idea yesterday to make count-down to Easter calendars, and was trying to figure out how to do it, to put a surprise for each day, then I thought of the plastic eggs! We just numbered them, so they can open one each day, starting today, and there is a big one for the last day, which is Easter Sunday! A few of the days are not candy. There are eggs that go into water and grow into a bunny or a chick, there's a bunny that dances with solar energy. I just thought to drop them off, not go in and say hello of course, but maybe talk from six feet's so hard.

Of course there are many who are really suffering, and the sickness is horrible. The healthcare workers have to cope with so much, unimaginable suffering. So that makes our little discomforts seem petty, so we can practice thankfulness, and pray, and do what we can to build our homes, encourage each other, make things nice...

I think that blogging and reaching out to each other is really important right now. I know I really like reading what others are up to, and being encouraged by their faith. If you have a blog and I don't know about it, how about commenting so I can read it?

Saturday, March 28, 2020

well now we're on to Saturday...

Ahh, Saturday, no one going anywhere, we can do what we want...ha.

Yesterday, Mr. Golden Sun decided to shine down on us. 48 degrees, but sunshine! And you bet we were out in it!

Our Dunkin outing turned into a Target run. Target is an "essential" business, I always thought so too. The girls had a mission, Miss Charlotte Claire and Miss Camille Anaya: to get hair dye. Now, things are different now, these kids have been disconnected from Real Life, along with the rest of the world, I know, but still. I decided to just let them have pink hair. We also had a few things we needed, and Target was actually NOT a zoo. We wore gloves, and stayed in two separate groups. The shopping cart had just been totally wiped down and disinfected, and there were more employees than customers, wiping things down and restocking shelves. The Starbucks cafe is closed, and the front snack bar too, with it's tantalizing caramel corn aroma. We didn't look at clothes or anything, just bought another puzzle, and a game that looks fun, to drop off for Anya and Elise. I got them a bag of little chocolate Hershey bunnies, too. And some bubbles for Wulf, and a Pez bunny.

There was actually toilet paper on the shelf, and we actually didn't get any, because we have enough for now. We did get a package of chicken. Last night's dinner was oven nachos with chicken, and some yummy toppings. Tonight is pizza night, I'll make a Fathead pizza too, with almond flour crust.

We were planning to go out to a nature preserve with the pups today, but it looks like it might rain all day. I did not go on my walk yesterday, for the first time. I was waiting to go with Abigail when she got home from work, but I had a niggling headache that started building up...uh oh. I should have taken something earlier. By the time I popped a single Excedrin, it was a pounder, mostly around my right eye. It hurt like the devil. I took one more Excedrin, then on ibuprofen, then I excused myself to go lie down for a few minutes, which turned into an hour. It was one of those humdingers, wherein if you even move the pinkie finger, it pounds and you almost barf. I couldn't even think a thought, or it drummed.

Thankfulness, thankful for pain utterly thankful, and that it kicked in, and helped. I was able to get up and rejoin the family after only an hour. I hadn't eaten yet for the day, and dinner was ready, how sweet is that? We had a family zoom chat, which was mostly excited little Lydia dancing around and singing and talking to Anya, but it was so nice to see her, and just see the kids. Kathryn joined from Oregon, so we got to see baby Achilles too. It's nice we have the technology we have in these days.

Here in central NY state, spring struggles to arrive. March is always that month of takes SO long for spring to just kick in...little teases of a sunny day, a warm day, but with rain, very few really temperate days...this year, we just NEED to be outside, more than ever, and come on! Just be nice out!

Oh yeah, thankfulness...:)

I got a few of the springy decorations out yesterday...maybe tomorrow I'll post more pics...if I'm not too busy, ha.

Thursday, March 26, 2020


I'm very thankful we can still walk down the road. I read that in Chicago, right now, you can only just go outside for a bit, can't go on a long bike ride or a long run, have to stay close to home. I saw a video from the U.K. of people out in the sun in a city park, and being dispersed and yelled at and sent home, by the metro police. I saw a surfer in Sardinia being called in by cops on horses, told to leave and go home. (because duh, he was infecting the whole world by surfing). The comments on these articles astound me: everyone is in agreement, we need to isolate, and the government knows best!

Some people have more common sense than others, I suppose. But sitting on our rear ends in our houses is not good. We need to get out and move. This is tricky, because it's human nature to want to gather, and teenagers especially, don't have a good grasp of long term consequences.

Maybe I've just read too many dystopian novels, or watched too much Netflix, but this whole attitude of being tracked, watched, and sequestered just freaks me out. In Russia, there are thousands and thousands of cameras, and they WILL get you if you defy a quarantine.

I am comforted that God knows and plans all things, and that this earth is only my temporary home.

We went on our walk early today, because, you won't believe this: the sun was out! It was over 50 degrees, and sunny. We got back, and before the clouds rolled in, we sat in the sun, we basked. It was wonderful, even if the wind was downright chilly. I put on a sundress, my sunnies, and a dollop of sunscreen on my nose. It smelled like warm weather, ha, with that sunscreen. It lasted 15-20 minutes, then where did it go? Now it's gray. Again.

But I won't complain. Remember the slaves in Egypt, given their freedom, how quickly they forgot and started complaining? God gave them bread from heaven, rained it right down to them, they wanted...meat. God HATED that, the complaining. So it's important, vital, to practice thankfulness. It's the greatest spiritual weapon against complaining that there is.

The dogs are snoring on the couches, the kitty sitting there with Miss Char, who is still doing school work. Camille is finished, and working on the new puzzle.

Dinner last night was a roaring success, thanks to Miss Evelyn Joy and Mr. Jonathan...Jon grilled the chicken breast outside, Ev planned the meal: chicken/rice bowls. There was corn salsa with red onion and cilantro, and chopped tomato/onion/cilantro, chopped black olives, cheese, sour cream, lime tortilla chips, and regular ones, along with Basmati rice. I ate too much, then dessert was: brownies, which I didn't even taste, and some low carb cheesecake for me, made with cream cheese and heavy cream and an almond flour/butter/crunchy peanut butter crust, with blueberries on top.

There's some left in the 'fridge, but I am fasting until dinner time. Dinner tonight: tacos/taco salad. We don't have many fixings left, but we do have the burger, the tortilla chips, cheese, and salsa.

We have pizza dough in the fridge for Saturday night, and are having some sort of nachos tomorrow night, mostly the same as tonight.

I've noticed that it's much more difficult to fast, to eat low carb, to stay away from sugar, during these days of quarantine. I joked that I'm going to come out if this weighing a hundred pounds more, but I sure hope not! I'm actually hovering about ten pounds LESS than I was at the lowest weight I got to, around 8 years ago, or whenever Ben got home from Afghanistan. So I've lost about 38 pounds since July first...I still have at least 40 pounds to go...but the good news is that I'm inching out of the "obese" category, less than ten pounds to go, and I'll only be "overweight", ha!!!

Ah well...the girls are getting antsy, what should we do now?

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

noon time brekky, and other strange things...

Sonja K. with the kitties and much coziness!...and the homeschooled kids with the online college kid, and Abigail, getting some work done...

Jonathan made scrambled eggs and bacon this morning while I made a big batch of waffles, our little brunch. The kids stayed up and watched a movie last night and slept in too late, but who really cares? Abigail is on half day work, so she goes in every afternoon. She can stay up later at night too, so it's like summer vacation...without the summer.

Our dinner last night was leftover chicken pot pie, warmed in the oven yum, and leftover pasta, sausage, meatballs and sauce, ect. We are being much more conscious of using/eating all the leftovers now. It's actually much easier to plan meals because the kids are all here, every night, no guesswork. No one is dropping in for dinner either, so we can safely plan on eight people. They will have afternoon snacks, because of the late brekky/brunch thing, so as long as they don't have too much, they'll all be hungry for dinner.

I've read that there have been increases in domestic violence incidents, especially involving children. Being confined, in close quarters, brings more stress because one's impatience is stirred up, right? It's never actually the fault of the kids, it's because the parents or caregivers' love grows cold. This is not good. Oh how I wish the whole world could hear the gospel, that all could be aware of their own sin, and learn to be forebearing and gentle.

Here in our house, things are going well, but not because we magically all get along! There have been a few tears, lots of encouragement, and plenty of prayers in need, because we all recognize that we need to humble ourselves, individually, in order to have peace. Evelyn is doing a zoom call for a class, which is extremely important, so we all have to be quiet for a few hours. Paul is working from home, and actually has a job interview today for the job he already has, which is weird, but hey, these are weird times.

The kids are all doing school work right now, our walk will be later in the afternoon or before dinner.

We still plan to go out for a ride on Friday, we'll stop and get out if we find a park that's empty. We might still go to the Dunkin drive through, too. It's funny that what was just recently a little blip in a regular day can become an entire outing!

There's a new thing going around where you post an embarrassing pic of yourself and caption it, "Until Tomorrow". At least it's not daring each other to lick the deodorant at Walmart or to cough on old people. An entire world full of half bored young people, oh dear me.

I'm trying to be a liberal as can be with the kids about watching things, ect....yesterday afternoon, they were watching The Simpsons and eating Oreos. Well, they do their schoolwork first, so who cares, right? And if they do eat all the snacks, well, we can bake stuff. Oh, the first world probs. Compared to what so many people are going through right now, our problems are like jokes. The people dying in hospitals with no visitors allowed, women giving birth alone, people with weak immune systems and damaged lungs getting sick, even healthy people getting sick with the virus...

So I pray, so many times a day, that God will have mercy on this world, will bless the doctors and nurses and the healthcare workers, that people will turn to Him in all of it, and good will come of it. I heard a story yesterday from my sister:
A man was very sick with Corona virus, extremely sick. He was in the hospital, really struggling to breathe. He started praying to God for mercy and for help, then he felt as if someone breathed air right into his lungs. By morning, he had turned a corner. His doctor came in, asked the man if he was a believer, because, "a miracle" had happened.

(My sister said she heard this on Fox News). I haven't read/heard the story, just from her. But it's uplifting, nonetheless.

My sister, keep her in your prayers! She has had bad asthma all her life, very bad lung function. Couple that with her in remission breast cancer, and other health issues and ailments (one kidney barely functions, congenital birth defect, ect ect ect) pray for her, that she does not get this virus, of if she does, that it passes over her like a feather in the sand, barely leaving a mark.

I do pray, because prayer moves mountains. I pray for my internet friends and my real life friends, and and there's no reason to be discouraged or bored, there's plenty to do. Just pick up that bible, and dig in!!!

Tuesday, March 24, 2020


Don't hate me! We have eight people living here. The girls went in for me, wore gloves, stayed away from others, and didn't take more than what was polite. They did get a package of toilet paper, and the big pack of paper towels, one package of chicken, and one package of ground beef from a different store, since you can only get one kind of meat at a time in Wegmans.

They went into the bakery, and we now have donuts in the house.

We have general meal plans, and are very thankful for what we have. We do have others we will be able to help if they need it, like Joe and Beth, and Emily and Mariel, if they aren't going in the stores anymore.

Last night for dinner was spaghetti. I only had some of the sausage with sauce over green beans. The kids love spaghetti, and there's enough left for tonight.

It's still cold and snowy here...we'll go for our walk later.

We have big plans! We are having a party on Friday night, dressing up and having snacks. We're trying to keep busy, keep planning things, so the kids don't get downcast. They have piles of schoolwork, so I try to take it easy on them when they want to just watch things. I do nag them to go on the walks, though. Char and Cam have been learning new dances, and exercising with Evelyn. We watched a few episodes of HGTV, which I have no idea why we get now, on the new tv. It's tempting to watch it all day long ha. But we don't. Plus, Paul doesn't like it, probably all the whining and witching. This house is too small, we NEED an extra bedroom. (they have two kids, and NEED a four bedroom house with four bathrooms. Their two kids cannot POSSIBLY share a bathroom, oh now. It IS rather hard to watch sometimes.

Ah well. Sonja is doing laundry, Evelyn stuff for college. Sonja's senior year of high school is pretty much in ruins, Evelyn's college turned upside down. Abigail is working half days now, which means half pay. One of her co-workers just messaged her that she (the co-worker) was laid off, let go. So there certainly are sufferings afoot. Don't you just love that word, "afoot"?

Believe me, I'm not going crazy, because I ALREADY AM, ha. Enjoy your days, and remember:

..When the Lord brought back the captivity of Zion,
We were like those who dream.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
And our tongue with singing.
Then they said among the nations,
"The Lord has done great things for them."
The Lord has done great things for us.
And we are glad.
Bring back the captivity, O Lord.
As the streams in the South.
Those who sow in tears
Shall reap in joy.
He who continually goes forth weeping,
Bearing seed for sowing,
Shall doubtless come again with rejoicing,
Bringing his sheaves with him. (psalm 126)

Monday, March 23, 2020

winter, again?!...and the BEST cozy pic!

Yeah, it's been snowing all day...these are from this morning, it's deeper now. I didn't realize it would actually stick to the ground, but it IS beautiful, like Narnia out there. I am going to make sure to get out in it in a bit.

But first, here's a pic I took this morning:

Miss Charlotte Claire doing school work, Sunny-the-dog, Orange Guy-the-cat...just the lounging, and the comfort food, sums up our house right now. I made the waffles and delivered them to the kids while they did their work, Abigail too. She's on half day schedule, to keep them socially distanced in her office...who knew the vending machine business was essential? She's gone to work now. Evelyn is taking a calculus exam, and the other kids doing school work while Paul works from home in the kitchen.

I broke a glass this morning, dropping a heavy travel mug from the cupboard onto the counter, which knocked off a brand new glass...dang it. When Evelyn cleaned and organized the pantry, we found a box of beautiful glasses I had gotten for 90% off a while ago, because there were only five instead of six in the box. Well, now there are only four.

Life is different yet the same. Having more people here has made it more interesting, and I am really glad to see so many things about myself, things that are stirred up because of more personalities in a small space. It's easy to see ourselves as very nice and peaceful people, when we're all by ourselves. But add some opinionated daughters, a teenaged son who knows pretty much everything, a few more teenagers, mix them all up, spin them around, and wow, I am a jerk! I like the last word! I get offended when they refer to "boomers"! I get irritated about empty seltzer cans and when they stuff one more thing into the garbage can instead of taking it out. Wasting paper towels now seems like a capital offense, btw.

But I am thankful, so very thankful for these days! Not long ago, there were actually days when I was rattling around in this house, all by my lonesome, and those days will probably be coming again, at some point. So now I am surrounded by family, and dad-gummit, I am going to find salvation in it all, AND, I am going to enjoy it as much as possible!

Camille and I are going to start a puzzle, she finished her work for the day. Isn't it crazy that these girls homeschooled for five years, and here they are, back home again? And to have Abigail back home, 32 years old, I love it! She is a joy to have, she is thankful for everything!

I'll leave you with today's selfie...

And, last night's dinner, homemade chicken pot pie...

(I made three of them, there is only like half of one left...)

And, coffee drink by Jon, embellished with chocolate syrup and crushed Oreos by Evelyn, sampled by Miss Camille Anaya...

Stay safe, stay inside unless you can get outside for some fresh air, and most of all, look up!!! Pray and you'll receive, seek and you'll find...this really is an amazing time of grace!