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

Sunday, May 31, 2020

...what a blessing... peaceful our day has been, here in the countryside. The country is in shambles, and I pray for the good, law-abiding citizens, and the upright of the law enforcement, the National Guard who probably never thought they'd be called on for something like this, I mean, this isn't just laying sandbags for a flooded river. Two wrongs don't make a right, and these protests are being organized by...never mind. I am not getting into it. I am praying though.

Social media is also a cesspool right now, so I'll just stick to my nice sweet bloggers out there, and get back offline.

Paul and I took a little hike with the Labs today.

We walked across that field...some of our hike was on the two ruts that make up the road, the tractor path, some just in the woods.

It's been a lovely day.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

fact or fiction?

If you had told me 6 months ago that I would be required to wear a mask wherever I went, would I have believed you? At first, we weren't supposed to, only healthcare workers. en it was optional, now it's required by most stores, although the actual wording in our state is "if you can't maintain six feet distance".

Contact Tracing is another term we never heard of before the last few months. In some countries, such as India, it's optional to download apps onto your phone, but you won't get on a train or bus without the app. So it's not really optional. It's coming soon to the U.S. of A, New York is probably going to be first.

I don't think that the elected officials are consciously power grabbing, except for our governor. I think it's just the spirit of the times, the spirit of's just oozing into the policies, taking away civil liberties, for "the common good."

It would be terrifying, if my kingdom were of this earth.

It IS written in Matthew to be anxious for NOTHING.

If a sparrow doesn't fall to the ground without our Heavenly Father knowing, and the very hairs of our head are numbered, we can rest assured that all these things are taking place for a reason.

But, in it all, I can make the best of my days. I refuse to be weighed down by things I cannot control. That doesn't mean I agree with it all, or that I won't point out the injustices to my kids. But this is our life! We need to be thankful for each day, our very existence is a gift.

To be honest, I have had nights where I've tossed and turned, plagued by dark thoughts and worry. But we are not debtors to the flesh, we do not have to give in, just because we are tempted. We can say NO. I trust God, and say NO to giving in to those thoughts. Jesus said, "Follow me." He didn't give in, and we don't have to either. It's very simple, and a very restful way to live.

Humanly speaking, I do not have the best life. I am lazy, I have no discernible talents, and I procrastinate all the live-long day before making a simple phone call. But I have a hope in God, so therefore I am happy. Jesus was anointed with the oil of gladness, because he loved righteousness and hated iniquity. If I love righteousness and hate the iniquity in MYSELF, then I'll also be anointed with that oil of gladness.

Anyway, this is a post I started a few days ago, but then Sam called, and then life happened. Why do I still find myself so busy?

Today, we were sitting on the deck...Abigail, Evelyn, Sonja K., Char, Cam, me...and I mentioned a bottle of wine I had in my bedroom closet, from a wine tour last spring. It was one of the best wines I've had, and I was saving it. For what? No idea. We decided WHAT THE HECK, and opened it! Remember all those cold dreary days when we wished for, longed for...good weather? To be sitting here in the tree-top resort, which is our deck's name, and here we are? That is cause for celebration! And because this wine is so very delicious, we had to put it away before we drank the whole bottle.

Confession: I haven't brushed my hair in at least three days. And my Walmart shorts, aren't they lovely? So comfy though.

Anyway, it was supposed to rain, but it passed us by, and everyone is back out on the deck. All those years of work when the kids were little, the sleepless nights and tired days, the little ones brought joy, but nothing compared to the blessings these older kids bring me.

Also: pray for peace in our country! The riots and unrest are getting worse, and the National Guard has been called in. The National Guard: young guys who want free college, older people, "weekend warriors", who get some benefits from doing their one-weekend-a-month...Americans...and I can tell you this, they would probably rather shoot their own foot off than actually fire at a fellow American. So pray for our country. (A few years ago during the Baltimore riots, Samuel was almost called in for "peacekeeping". He is in the Army Reserves, so pray he doesn't get called into action!).

Thursday, May 28, 2020

shall we talk about it?

Our power went out for a bit the other day when it was really really hot. Sonja K. and I sat in the front yard just staring at the sky, watching these clouds...the big one was a giant, angry cow, the little one was a fishy, swimming right into the cow's mouth. Before it got there, it dissipated into a fine mist. I do not get bored, do you? I did worry a tiny bit about the food in the freezer. We also have no water when there's no power. My sister and my brother both live in town, and neither of them had power either. So I wondered if the whole world was going to shut down, and what we would do for water. But I decided not to jump off that bridge before I came to it, and not to worry about it. But you know, thoughts do come.

It came back on, and Paul went back in the house to work, break in the shade: over.

The pool is almost clear. Almost. It's a lighter shade of green, anyway. Sonja and I took a quick to Walmart this fine morning to get more pool shock, and some algaecide. We also got some black spray paint to touch up some outdoor chairs. I wanted chalk paint wax, but there was none to be found. I did get some thin elastic, and was going to buy more fabric for masks, but it was 11:15, and the fabric cutting hours don't start until noon. I was also going to get another one of these 4-cube storage units for inside our door, to replace the shoe storage thing that looks so awful, and is listing badly to one side. No sir, none there, none in Target, either.

I guess everyone is organizing and doing projects.

Walmart is a nightmare. I wear my mask, and follow the arrows on the floor. But what in the heck good does it do when 7 out of 10 other people DO NOT follow the arrows on the floor? And I'm not going to walk through the store reminding 27 people that they're going the wrong way. Especially because Sonja begged me not to, ha.

I guess the lesson is this: if you go out and about, you are at the mercy of others' behavior.

We are having taco salad for dinner, again. We are so lucky to have Aldi to shop at. We can get cilantro for 79 cents, and tomatoes and peppers always cheap, as well as avocados and sour cream, fresh salsa, and the chipotle lime salsa. Walmart sells the BEST lime tortilla chips for under two dollars, and Aldi's tortilla chips are under one dollar. We just keep this stuff on hand, and when we have burger, it's either burgers on the grill, meatballs, or...taco salad. Meatballs are mostly for cooler weather, and I don't always feel like grilling, so we have lots of taco salad. It is always good.

So today, Sonja K. and Charlotte Claire went out and mowed the lawn. We only have push mowers at this time, and it's rather warm today. So Paul told the girls they could go get ice cream. Yay! I went too, with no plans to get any, but oh dear, that went down the drain. I got a small twist, chocolate and vanilla soft ice cream, and yummy yum yum. You gotta live life, right? I say NO most of the time...

Stormy weather is coming, I love a good rainstorm. We have nowhere to go, and there will be eight of us here for dinner, maybe we'll light a few candles...

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

now THAT was a weekend!

Camille, Charlotte Claire, and Sonja K., on Benjamin's four-wheeler, with little Anya on her very own ride.

We went over to Ben and Ashley's for Memorial Day. We have been with Margaret and Adrian and little Wulf right along, because of many reasons, and recently added Ben and Ashley into our contacts. Ben works, he's essential, but his work is very isolated and usually outside (heating and air-conditioning). Ashley goes to the store once a week, and that's about it.

(the lockdown isn't a foolproof plan, what about when Margaret has a doctor's appointment (she's pregnant) and cannot bring her son? What about if Benjamin works full time and by the time he gets to the store after work there's nothing left that they need, and they can't bring their kids to the store, and need someone (grandma!) to watch them?).

Ben and Ashley and their little Anya and Elise, and the girls with their baby chicks. They have a nice house, with a huge yard, a really fun place for a picnic.

Paul with Elise, and some of the pups. We brought our two, Ben and Ashley have two, and Margaret and Adrian brought their Boxer-Lab mix, Bunny.

Our dogs think it's their birthday when they get to go BYE-BYE. They smile the whole time they are at Ben's house. They run and fetch the ball, and sniff around with the other dogs, it's so nice for them.

Sonja, Ev, Anya, Char running across, me, Camille, Jon, and Ben...Benjamin made the corn hole games, and the golf ball toss game.

Abigail, Evelyn, Sonja K., Char, Cam, and Anya in the back.

Jonny, Evelyn, Sonja.

...nice little spot in our front yard...the deck isn't finished yet, we are waiting for the perfect time to stain has to be dry beforehand, and stay dry for a reasonable time afterwards. It's ninety degrees and humid today, so I don't think it's getting done today.

So all of our deck stuff is in the yard, and oh well. It's cooler in the yard anyway. We had snow just a few weeks ago, now we're frying!

The pool is a work in progress, too. Abigail and I got in there yesterday and scooped out leaves. Then I shocked the heck out of it, as I told the kids, added 8 pounds. It's still not clear, but it needs time for the filter to run. Soon, it'll be clear soon, can you tell I cannot wait? When this whole epidemic started, the quarant-ton, as Mariel calls it, I had been going to my twice-a-week water aerobics class. I just love being in the water, and it's the best exercise for me. Now, of course, all that is a blissful memory, but the fact that we have our very own pool has been moved up from just being vaguely thankful, to being extremely and unbelievably full to the brim with gratitude.

We took a quick trip to the store yesterday, to buy more shock. We also got a package of chicken breast, yay!, and some burger. I bought a new fan, too. ( We have two air conditioners, window units, but we haven't installed them in a few years. They do a decent job of dropping the temperature of just the kitchen and living room a bit, but we have to put up a curtain across the hallway, it's not ideal, and it doesn't get unbearably hot too often here in central NY state.)

I grilled last evening, hot sausages, coneys (spicy white hot dogs, a central NY state specialty, Hofmans), and hot dogs. I made salt potatoes, another central NY original (Hinderwadels in North Syracuse). We had fresh green beans, and blueberries and strawberries for dessert, and leftover cupcakes. Our picnic at Ben's was on Sunday, and on Sunday morning, I got up and made chocolate cupcakes, from scratch, just because. And buttercream frosting.

Our cook out on Sunday was magnificent. Burgers, coneys, hot dogs, pasta salad, baked beans, a huge fruit bowl with watermelon, berries, grapes...

Anyway, it was a phenomenal weekend, and our nice weather continues. Abigail and Evelyn have gone back to work, Paul is working (from home), and my kids who are doing school from home are still asleep.

It's a whole new level of crazy to have them learning from home, and this is coming from ME, who homeschooled the girls for five years, and Jon since after he was in third grade. They don't have much work, and it's so easy! I actually love it, and jeepers, if the new look of school is going to be social distancing and mask wearing, they might just stay at home...

Well, I actually, believe it or not, have things to do and phone calls to make.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

make hay while the sun shines, love it!

Quote by Marilyn, from Pa (Charles Ingalls), Laura Ingalls Wilder.

The deck is a work in progress. It's been a bear! The stripper, which was supposed to magically remove the old peeling stain, just apply and spray with a garden hose! ha. Of course not! So we stepped it up to the pressure washer, and well, wouldn't you know, there are experts out there saying to be careful, pressure washing can damage the deck. Sure enough, there were places where the top layer turned a little pulpy. That dries, and voila, splinters! So, we had to sand it. When I say "we", I mean these nice daughters of mine, Miss Sonja K., and Miss Evelyn Joy. Jonathan also took a few turns. The stairway isn't done yet, but it got dark out. I sprayed it off with the hose to get the sawdust off. Now it has to dry dry dry again, before getting stained.

It's a big deck, and it was a very warm day. When these two girls were finished, they actually had me spray them off with the house, it was hilarious. They are too much fun. We watched a movie last night, "What Happened to Monday", and the girls made midnight brownies from scratch. Well, it was only ten o'clock, but.

We spent a good portion of the day outside in the sunshine. First, Abigail and I took Jonathan out and about, he needed ammo. It can be hard to find, and since there were three of us, we could each get two, so he's nice and stocked up. We also got a nice little raft for summertime, and a huge-0 bag of salt water taffy. We went into Walmart, and let me just say: do not go there on a Saturday. It was not easy to social distance, and there are so many people who just don't seem to care about it. It makes my heart hurt, seeing some of the older people, so vulnerable, and I just hope they don't get sick. You can say to order your groceries, but it takes forever to get a time slot, and there is no meat available when you do that. So many older ones don't know how to do such things, either.

Anyway, it was a circus-y zoo in Walmart. The check-out lines extended right into the clothing section. I got Miss Camille a tank top and a pair of shorts, she is in women's sizes now, and is wearing little girls shorts from last year. We also got a bag of ice (our ice maker stopped working in the refrigerator, but oh how heavenly it is to fill it up, and just put your glass up to the little lever, and get ice!). (I grew up with ice cube trays, and that's what we usually use, but we can't keep up when it gets warm out!). So for $1.34, wow, right?

We got some tortilla chips and a green pepper and some olives for the pasta salad we are making for today.

Today, we are doing an outside picnic at Ben and Ashley's house.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

well that sunshine's nice!!! and a walk down memory lane...

We did take a quick trip to Target today...

What?! It's essential! They spray down the carts, we stay away from other shoppers, and get the things we need.

This is a little candy shop I want to go into someday, but I also DON'T want to go into someday, because we all know I'll buy stuff we don't need. I just feel sorry for the shop, and want to give it some business. Maybe I can take Anya and Lydia there sometime, when things get better...

Margaret Cheryl holding Sonja Kathleen, Kathryn Grace, Suzanne Eleanor, and Evelyn Joy (Margaret was six, Sonja K. was 14 months...this was a month after we lost baby Robert. All those little girls, my five-in-a-row-in-five-years, so cute.

Margaret, Kathryn, Suzanne, Evelyn, and Sonja...the years just flew by! I remember people warning me, when these little girls were so little and cute, "Just wait 'til they're teenagers!" Well, I waited. And we had some hairy times. But now the youngest of these darlings just turned 18 years old! (Margaret is 24, Kathryn 23, Evelyn almost 21, and Suzanne is 19.

Anyway...I was looking through old pictures, here are just a few...

How's that for some feathered hair! That little girl I was holding, my mom babysat for her.

My sister Cheryl getting married, and me.

Me with little Emily...

Paul with Emily...

And...time to get busy again...the girls have a zoom call and are doing a kitchen activity, making peanut butter cups. I have to finish cleaning up dinner...

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

...why, you'd have to get up!

Don't ask what show that's from, but I'm going to guess The Simpsons. Paul says it all the time. And today, yes, I have to get up. Don't get me wrong, I got up yesterday, too! After the girls finished their schoolwork, we went on a grand outing: Dunkin, for $2 iced coffees, Lowe's! There's nothing like a huge home improvement store to give me more ideas for more projects, and make me just plain discontent with our house, ha. But we didn't go there just to wander willy-nilly up and down the aisles, dreaming of new bathroom cabinets or choosing what flooring we'll get SOMEDAY, and shh, yes, we have done this in the past. We went to get deck supplies, stripper to remove the peeling deck stain, and new deck stain. People don't social distance much in Lowe's, and it was crowded. Smaller construction has opened up here in NY state, in central NY anyway, so there was a lot of supply purchasing going on.

After we got our somewhat boring supplies, over a hundred dollars worth, I asked the girls what THEY wanted to do. Now, there aren't so many options around here. They chose Wendy's, so off we went to wait in the line at the drive-through. They were going to get a few things and share, I was content with my iced coffee. Then one of them noticed that Moe's looked open! (Mexican, like Chipotle). It had been closed, but sure enough, it was open again! They absolutely love Moe's, and heck, Mexican food is healthy, so no fasting until dinner for me, yesterday! I was having some too!

Being in the little shopping plaza where Moe's is located was creepy, according to the girls. Creepy because the parking lot is mostly empty. The Army/Navy store is open, the Harbor Freight tool store open, but not Marshalls, not Bed/Bath/Beyond. How come tools are essential but new shoes aren't? harrumph.

Anyway, we stopped at the dollar store, Sonja and I went in, and got brushes and scrubbers, to get the deck job done. It's just cheaper than Lowe's.

Home, ah home. We took everything off the deck...well, the kids did, while I started dinner. Dinner: rice, steamed broccoli, sliced red and orange peppers, leftover steak sliced up, browned in olive oil with lots of onions and peppers, some flour and some corn tortillas, browned up in some more olive oil...mmm.

So now the deck stripper is sitting there on the deck, which is all cleaned off, and all hosed down, waiting for a certain lazybones to get up out of her comfy chair, and get to work. It has to dry for a day before applying the new stain. I hope I do it right this time.

Here in NY, one cannot make a campground reservation for this summer. If you already have one, you can change it to 2021, free of charge, or keep it, and hope the parks open for camping. We hadn't gotten around to making reservations yet, and who knows if we'll be able to, or if they'll open. The beaches will be open, but with 50% occupancy, which will make it so if you aren't there first thing, you won't get a parking spot. Masks will be required if you are too close to others, but dang it, I don't want wear a mask on the beach. Can you just imagine the tan lines of the new normal?! I told the girls we should protest, and take off all our bikini tops and wear them as masks. (as IF I wear a bikini ha)

The great and wonderful mayor of NYC, has declared that beaches in his jurisdiction will NOT be opening this summer. People can walk on the beaches, but he threatened, if they go in the water, they WILL be taken right back out of the water. He says he will open some big arenas as cooling centers. Now, if you are a small child, and it's hot out, would you rather go play in the water at the beach, or go to a cooling center, where you would have to wear a mask, and...what would you do there? If you were a teenager, and you were hot and wanted to go play in the waves, would you be just as happy to go to a cooling center and sit there and get cool? And these cooling centers, if people can gather in them, why can't they just watch a basketball game while they're there? Does it make sense to anyone? Am I just extremely obtuse?

I can't drop it. Salt water, beach, can it be worse than being allowed to walk on the beach?

The thing is, this lockdown happened because there were horrible things happening in Italy, in China, and we didn't want our hospitals over run. It was science, and guess work, and we emptied out our hospitals. Our brilliant governor here in NY did a very very bad thing: he emptied the hospitals, executive orders, and those old people went to nursing homes, and: the nursing homes were FORBIDDEN to test those old people for Covid-19. They HAD to accept them, without testing them. Now, I don't know about nursing homes in the rest of the country or world, but here in NY, they are generally understaffed. They rely on patient's families to come in and help...maybe not exactly "rely on", but welcome them to visit and help with feedings, bathroom breaks, ect. These visits came to a screeching halt, as new patients were brought in, bringing more virus to the already understaffed facilities.

This was bad. So many old people got sick and died, now he has reversed his order. He said last week that now nursing home employees have to get tested twice a week, or ELSE: he would shut them down! Mr. Bossypants. As if he wasn't the very one, with his list of mandates, who caused most of this in the first place!

Emptying out hospitals, they did it because they thought they would need the beds. Well, here in central NY, that hasn't been the case at ALL. My nurse practitioner daughter had her hours and pay cut in half, because no one wanted to go to their doctor's office anymore. Nurses on regular floors had their hours cut, or were laid off. This happened all over the country. Dentist offices: closed. Eye doctors: closed. (Jonny's glasses broke, and we paid extra for the breakage plan, but was the vision center open? We had to order new glasses online from a different place). Anyway. All this was done to FLATTEN the CURVE.

Now it's flattened, and the rules have changed! The list of things that has to happen before the different phases of reopening are...well, numerous.

And, religious services are in the LAST PHASE. Our great and powerful governor, the wizard himself, has already proclaimed that the curve was flattened because of what WE did, not because of God. ouch. I flinched for him, when he declared that one. I was waiting for a lightening bolt.

Anyway. I don't know the answers, but I don't like how people are just unquestioning. And if you DO question authority, you are automatically lumped in with the wife-beater wearing, gun-totin', Don't-Tread-On-Me, crazies.

There is a middle ground. I believe this virus is real, and it is horrific. But we also have to live our lives, and people can't hole up at home and wait for a vaccine which will in all likelihood, never materialize. If they want to, they can, I suppose. But we have another problem here: some getting unemployment don't want to go back to work because they make MORE, with the newly added bonuses, than they did when they were working. So they say they're scared and feel unprotected, and stay at home and make more money. Most of the people DO want to go back to work though, I think.

Have you noticed that when I have something I don't really want to do, I find all sorts of things to write about? Prolong the procrastination? The deck needs to be done. Sonja is signing up for fall college classes, mostly online, she hopes....

I have other things to work on today too: making cookies for the night shift nurses on Molly's floor. She works on a Covid-19 floor, and it's not fun, at all. She said the day-shift nurses get all sorts of goodies from the community, restaurants, ect. But the night-shift, not so much. So I volunteered cookies. Then Emily messaged me last night and asked me to make some surgical caps. ( Okay, I guess. I do have a new I do have things to do, darn it.

Monday, May 18, 2020 life...

On Friday morning, while Ashley went to the grocery store, I went over to stay with their two little girls. When daddy (Ben)is an essential worker, and stores run out of things quicker than ever, and you can't go early in the morning unless you're a senior citizen, well, you need to go to the store, and what's better than bringing your kids along? Gramma watching them!

They live ten minutes away. After years and years of only seeing them a few weeks out of the year, when they were on the west coast, it's still amazing to have them so close by. I pretty much missed out on the first few years of little Anya's life. We behaved ourselves and didn't see them at all, then I went over there a few times and we kept our distance. Then we decided to start spending a bit of time with them.

On Saturday, for Joseph's birthday, we went over there again...

Benjamin with Elise...(doesn't he look a little like Chip Gaines?)

Jonathan with Wulf

Paul and Camille

Joseph and his wife Bethany with Anya, and social distancing Emily...

Mariel and Emily...they only visited outside, and left when we went in the house for dinner.

Anya showing Paul their garden. He's a good grandpa.

...just some early morning pics, Saturday.

We had some beautiful fruit platters, this is the remainder, all dumped in the container, but oh it was still so enjoyable.

The weather was beautiful here yesterday. Evelyn, Sonja, Jonathan, Charlotte Claire, Camille, and I played some badminton in the front yard. They hit the volleyball back and forth for a while. Margaret and Adrian came over with Wulf. Jonathan grilled hot dogs, sausages, coneys. We put some water in the little pools on the deck for Wulf.

Slowly, slowly, expanding our interactions, being careful, washing the hands...but living life, too. It's a strange world we live in, where just getting together with your family is actually illegal, especially when your family is as big as ours. I don't actually know about all of this, I certainly do believe that this virus is awful. I know some people get really really sick, and so many die terrible, lonely deaths. I know it spreads easily and is no joke. But I also know that MOST people will be fine. Life here in central New York is opening little by little. Beaches will be open this summer, with more rules, of course, and you know how much I love rules. I've been working on that though, the tendency to be such a rebel about everything. I don't just want to be proud and arrogant, and know-it-all-y about this. But the reality is that even if we do get a vaccine in the next 12-18 months, will it work? The flu vaccine for example, don't thousands still die from flu? I don't know. I can't NOT see my grandkids for THAT long! What about them?, you cannot just keep children all locked up for weeks and weeks and months and YEARS, and expect them to be fine! Anyway. It's a very hot topic, and very controversial, but we here in our house are choosing, little by little, to be with family.

This is also controversial, but this is a good time to try to get healthier! Cut out the sugar, cut the carbs back, move a bit more! I do try, then last night I made a huge-0 batch of stove-popped popcorn, with lots of butter and salt, oh how yummy. We had leftover pulled pork for dinner, with all the fixings: tortilla chips (I love the lime ones from Walmart, I try to be so low carb, but they are my weakness!), chopped tomatoes, cilantro, red and green peppers, sour cream, etc.

Anyway, I am thankful for another day. I shall use it wisely, listen to hear what God would have me work on today, and be faithful to that, the small quiet voice which tells us right from wrong...