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, June 30, 2020

strawberry fields....forever.

Four girls went picking with me, we came home with five quarts of the most delectable berries ever. They were so delicious, I decided it was worth breaking my fast yesterday, strawberries...warm from the sun, sweet, heavenly. We picked them at a local Mennonite farm. The girl working in the little store had to been all of twelve years old, barefoot with braids and a pretty dress on. She had such a sunny disposition, and she figured out that math like a pro, counted out the change, and wished us a very nice afternoon.

Home, and a nice afternoon swim in the sunshine.

Dinner: pork chops hot from the grill. The girls wanted "bowls", which we usually make with grilled chicken, but they cut up their chops and had them with the rice, cilantro, fresh salsa, chopped tomatoes and peppers, ect.

Abigail and I got up early and went to Target and Aldi. Aldi had ground beef marked half price, so we got lots. I made it into hamburger patties and froze them. The pork chops were marked down too. They had cherries for $1.99 a pound, and salt potatoes for $1.99 a bag. I do like Aldi. Their fresh salsa is SO good.

Today, it's mowing-the-lawn day. I promised the girls an outing if they helped (when I say "help", I mean that they'll mow the lawn, of course). I hope to sneak a trip to the thrift store into the outing...

It's quiet here, the kids are sleeping still, the dogs have been outside, back in, fed, and are napping on the couches. The pool is all taken care of, the floors swept, the dishes done, a few loads of laundry have been put through, and Paul had to go into work for a few things. He's been working from home so much, it's strange to have him gone, and to have true quiet here. The dogs are snoring, the birds are singing, the dryer is humming, and I am sipping my second cup of coffee, a Veranda Light roast from Starbucks, which was marked down in Walmart. It's quite yummy.

Does anyone else sometimes forget that the world is knee-deep in pandemonium? I do. Then I remember the pandemic, and the governor's ever expanding orders and mandates, and blah. Camping this past weekend was a very nice break from the sameness and dire news. I am trying not to read the articles about this person or that person who had a horrific battle with Covid, or the doom and gloom prophecies about the economy. The violence and the statues and monuments being destroyed and defaced make me sick. Then our governor says if you travel here from a state with whatever percentage of positives lately, you will get a huge-0 fine, blah blah blah, but if you riot and smash windows, well, you should think about wearing a mask.

It's the spirit of the times, isn't it? Punish the law abiding citizens for minor offenses, but let the criminals out of jail so they don't get Covid. In New York, the jail reforms are letting so many robbers, assaulters, crooks, dealers, and creepers out of jail...they get an appearance ticket, instead. I do think there needs to be a huge overhaul of the whole prison system, but I'm just working on theory...and that is that people have to have hope in their lives. These long sentences will ruin people, give them short and sweet, with rehabilitation and education in prison, along with having to work while they are there. But prison is big money, the laundry services, uniforms, food services, etc., it's business. It costs the taxpayers money, but it all goes to these big companies (Aramark, for one). I don't know.

I'm glad I'm not in charge of the world. And ssshhh, just for the record, I'm not racist. Now days, you can't even say that, or someone will say, just like a kindergartener, "That means you ARE racist!" Well, nana-nana-boo-boo, I am NOT. YOU ARE, ha. I also won't apolozize for being white. My father was one of 12 kids, grew up in the city, his father was an alcoholic, died when my dad was young. His mom married again, and the step father was very abusive. My dad worked his butt off from the time he was a teenager. He gave most of his money to his mother and to his siblings. He worked very hard in life, never missed a day of work. He was honest to a fault, and wouldn't "take a dime from the government". We qualified for free lunches, ect, when I was growing up, but my father would NEVER allow that. He said you had to work and make your way in life. He worked for the county all his life, sewer plants...or a-hum, water pollution control.

There ARE inequalities, and protesting can bring those to light. There ARE horrible things that happen, like being pulled over just because you are black. I do not disagree with these truths. There are awful and racist people, and there are ignorant and arrogant people, who look down on others for ridiculous reasons. I abhor that.

But, I don't see what's wrong with saying that all lives matter. They do. God created man in his own image. It's written in Psalm 133, "Behold how good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!"

Ah well, I can't change the world. But I can be faithful in my days, in my little corner of it.

Monday, June 29, 2020

simply gorgeous....absolutely.

We camped just a hop, skip and a jump away from the water, so close that even lazy me didn't mind the walk. It was a bit cloudy and drizzly on Saturday morning, but it cleared up, and all that rain that was forecasted? It never showed up. We think it was because Anya prayed. Sunday was breathtakingly beautiful. This sandy beach on Lake Ontario, the water was clear, you could see your feet when you were up to your waist. So nice! The pups loved it. There's a campers' beach with no lifeguards, so no rules! The dogs could fetch the stick to their hearts' content, along with so many other people's dogs! We brought their tie-out stakes, and when they got tired, they napped in the sand, there was plenty of shade, too.

I took one of Anya, she took one of me.

When we got there, the playground was all covered in orange plastic fencing, closed because of Covid-19. It was SO sad, especially because it was right across from our site, and one of the nicest playgrounds ever.

Well, imagine our surprise and delight when two state park workers started cutting down that orange plastic, and hung up nice new swings! It was AMAZING! Now, I don't personally play on playgrounds much anymore, although I did try out a swing, but the happiness of the grandkids, and the other kids in the park, could fuel a fleet of tanks!

Our campsite wasn't directly on the water, but I could see the lake from our tent, through the woods.

Camille,Danielle, Charlotte Claire, Sonja, and Anya.

Cousin Will (he's a second cousin, but we just say cousin...he's my sister Cheryl's daughters little guy, isn't he cute?) (he came with us, obviously), Benjamin, and Jonny.

Wulf, borrowing he cousin Elise's bike. I think it's hilarious, because his name is Wulf. and a pink bike. Just cute.

Wulf with his dad, Adrian, and with Elise.

Margaret wit Elise and Wulf...

Oh it was a nice weekend! I cooked brekky sausages over the fire yesterday, and we had a real feast on Saturday night, all cooked over the fire, sausages and hot dogs and coneys. The kids had s'mores galore, and we sang some songs around the fire, too.

Now this afternoon, we are all settled in back home, slept in our comfy beds (who am I kidding? I have this huge-0, giant, air mattress, which plugs into an outlet and with the turn of a switch, it inflates, it's knee high. I bring an extension cord, because my van has an electrical outlet. Turn on the van, turn on the bed switch, and voila, a comfy bed that takes up the whole tent!

But we've settled in, so today we are going...strawberry picking, and on a picnic!!!

Friday, June 26, 2020

from 100 to 60...

The chance of precipitation where we're camping this weekend is down to 60%. Why I am sitting here blogging instead of rustling up some extra tarps is beyond me, yet just about right.

Yesterday, we took a trip to the small city with the last of the thrift store bags. These contained previous treasures of mine, and everything in me wanted to rip the bags open and hug those Fisher-Price Little People buildings. I held on to them for years, the girls had these shelves in their closet, and complained that they didn't want toys on them anymore. I had more of an affinity for the toys than they ever did. But less is more, and as I long for a cleaner and less cluttered house, I have to say my goodbyes.

We then went to Walmart to get MORE stuff. A few bins for the camping stuff, fuel for the camp stove, decaf coffee, some heavy cream, bananas.

(the people ahead of us didn't have masks on, tsk tsk, ha. I don't really care. I do think it's wise to keep a bit of distance from people, but they didn't get THAT memo either. The girl came right up to me and handed me a bag of Cheetos, asked me to put it back on the shelf behind me for her. What was I supposed to do, she was like 14 years old, tell her, "Get back! Get away from me!")

Going for just a weekend is a pain in the rear, you need so much stuff, and it seems like once you set it all up, it's time to take it all back down. Add in the rain, and ugh. But, that's just one side of the story. There will be fun! Ben and Ashley and Anya and Elise are going, Emily, Abigail and Mariel are going, Margaret and Adrian and Wulf are going, and Sonja, Jonathan, Charlotte Claire, Camille, cousin Danielle, and cousin William are going, with Paul and I. There will be s'mores and hot dogs cooked over the fire, there will be volleyball and there will be coffee, in my old-fashioned coffee pot.

The pups are very excited to go camping. They LOVE going bye-bye. Yesterday afternoon, they went to the vet. You park and call, and the tech comes and gets the dog, then the vet calls to discuss treatments, shots, ect. Well Little Miss Sunny-Pants didn't want to go with the nice vet tech. No sir, she wouldn't budgeroo. We had to push while she pulled, then Miss Char had to get out and walk towards the building, finally Sunny got out and wagged her way in, so shyly. She did fine though. Then Suri's turn, she wagged her whole body and went in like a champ.

Last night's dinner: the girls played a little Master Chef, with pizza dough. They made garlic knots, a ham and pineapple pizza, a pepperoni, and a barbecue chicken pizza. I cooked up some bacon and eggs, and a keto peanut butter mug cake. Paul had some leftover chicken and left with the kayak to fish on Duck Lake.

I have so many odds and ends to remember today, my head is overflowing. I do have lists though. Sometimes when I'm packing for something like this, and we NEED so many things (tongs, foil, clothesline, dishwashing liquid, vitamins, hairbrush, extra socks, dog treats, a tie out rope for pups, their dishes, water jug, pancake syrup, rain jackets...), I think of Little House in the Big Woods, when they left their entire life in the woods behind to find a new place to live, and all their possessions fit in that wagon, and there's no mention of it bottoming out.

Interesting occurrence: I am an optimistic person by nature. I don't generally get weighed down by the cares of life, and I try to see the other side of every story. News stories tend to fear monger, and I take them with a grain of salt. But lately, I think I've reached the saturation point of bad, depressing news. This virus, it keeps on going. The economy, the violence and the blaming and the victim mentality and the total trashing of monuments and statues has hit me, hurt me, taken my optimism down a few notches. But I'm super thankful that I have a hope, a heavenly promise, and that I won't be absolutely layed out by all of this, but FEELING it so much has been good for me, because I feel like I have much more mercy on people, and I wish I could just hug and comfort people and tell them to look up, and cast their cares on Him, because His yoke is easy, and His burden is light.

Does that make sense?

Here's the thing: being tempted and giving in to temptation are two different things. We are not animals, and we do NOT have to give in. God gives grace to the humble, and when we ask for help, He will give it. Being tempted and seeing our tendencies and our weaknesses is such a good thing, keeps us humble, and reminds us that we are no better than anyone else! If every single person on this earth focused on their own sin, and stopped pointing the finger, the whole world would be peaceful, instantly.

Anyway, today is going to be a busy one, I am making a pasta salad to bring with us. I just put it into a few gallon sized baggies, we're super fancy. I leave so much for the last minute, we'll be scurrying around today for sure! But what fun! I'm glad the NY state parks are opened up for camping, and now we can legally gather in groups of 25, so we won't be harassed if we gather in one campsite for a fire...(we have three sites).

So have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, June 25, 2020

well now, that's a bargain!

A long time ago, nye about last summer, I was browsing in the thrift store, and voila! A percolator coffee pot! It looked to be all there, in fine condition, in fact brand new-ish. $2.99, I reckon I can part with that. It's a nice one, from Vermont Country it is, ignore the water marks on it, if we don't dry things off, our nice well water decorates.

The coffee is AMAZING!

(It's $39.95!)

Well, this fine weekend we are going camping, and a tried and true method for making coffee is to bring the tea kettle, boil the water, and make pour over. But, if you're camping, you SHOULD have a REAL coffee pot, right? My parents used to make stove top coffee, and when that started perking, oh the aroma! They graduated to a fancy Polly-Perk, orange plastic, before switching to ugh, instant.

Before the days of Mr. Coffee, I suppose...we had the orange model. So fancy.

Anyway. I had to try the pot and make sure it will work. This morning we are bringing what I hope is the final load of bags to the thrift store, then going to Walmart for some camp fuel for the stove, and some odds and ends.

This afternoon the pups have to go to the vet. Isn't Sunny a clown?

Both pups are going to the vet this afternoon. You call from the parking lot, and they bring them in. Will they be good? Sunny Sunster is a 'Fraidy-Cat, she likes to hide under the chair and have the nice vet get right on the floor for the exam. Suri wags her tail and growls at the same time. She doesn't have a mean bone in her body, but when she's unsure of someone, she does that. If they just pet her, she'll be their forever friend, but shh, don't tell that to the robbers and burglers. This is Suri's first time at this vet, I hope she behaves her fat little self. Anyway, they go in without mama, and you talk to the vet on the phone during the exam, which is on my list of things I hate the most, phone conversations with people I don't know very well, awkward! Awkward is my middle name.

My view yesterday afternoon, with a cup of coffee, grilling dinner. Bone in chicken breasts were cheap at Aldi, then there were $2 off coupons on the packages, so marinated overnight in vinegar, olive oil, and Montreal chicken seasoning, then grilled for almost two hours with Stubbs bbq sauce, and a bit of Sweet Baby Ray's...I also melted butter with Frank's Hot Sauce, to top it with. We had leftover salt potatoes, steamed broccoli, and cherries for dessert.

And this is me this morning, because I'm happy, and because it's my blog, and I can selfie if I want to. Sometimes I read blogs and I have no idea who is writing, I like seeing pics of the author, so...anyway, have a very good day, and say a little prayer that the thunderstorms and rain that is forecast for our little weekend in tents, right on the shore of Ontario, is dry and fun!!! (I know it'll be fun, but storms in a tent, ugh!)

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

ridiculously accomplished here...

I worked out! This is huge! It's a major procrastination breakthrough! I MEAN to work out, every night I go to bed and say, "Yup, tomorrow's the day!" Every time one of my kids talks about their work out, I say, "Oh, I'm going to start that again." I worked out twice or thrice during quarantine, I did a lot of walking. And I try to move and exercise in the pool instead of just floating around, although guess what I prefer?

Here's the thing: Emily and Mariel and Ashley are all doing this workout, it's called SWEAT, which I haven't done yet, but the point is, Em and Mar have stuck with their workout for like 100 days. They both work full time, Mariel is the chemo nurse and Em is a nurse practitioner. (She's done with her hospital Coronavirus help, back to regular practice). Ashley does this now too, Ben has been inspired to work out again because of his sisters, Evelyn and Margaret rarely miss a workout...Paul works from home, yet never fails to impress me with the way he fits in some sprints, or pulls that weighted tire down the road, or jump ropes.

So today, my kids are off doing fun things, playing volleyball with some friends, Jon is at work, Paul is working...I cleaned and washed dishes, did laundry and puttered around the yard, then did my workout, followed by a nice swim!

My chair did not make it back into the house. It has been rained on. I cannot get used to this chair. Oh, the first world problems! I don't know if we're allowed to say that anymore, my kids say it's taboo to say third world country, these days. You probably can't even say, "taboo".

Tomorrow, the pups need to go to the vet, oh joy. They have to go in alone, we cannot accompany them. I do not like this, not one little bit. I trust and adore the vets in this practice, but still, the doggies will be scared, unless they get some treats.

Friday, we are going camping for the weekend, up on Lake Ontario, in tents. The forecast isn't looking great, so I'm wondering if it's worth wasting the $70 we paid for the three nights, and staying here, where rain and wind won't wreck my sleep.

So yes, we have food prep and shopping to do, and some packing, and and and.

This is going to be a really good summer though. Kathryn, my dear daughter who now lives in Oregon, is coming for an almost two week visit with her husband and their little baby Achilles.

(Achilles with the toy that Paul's mom sent him)(Isn't he cute?)

Then, while they're still in town, Sam and Grace are coming for a week with little Grant!

(Grant is cute too!)

Somewhere in that time period, hopefully BEFORE, actually, the lumber for our new pool deck will arrive.

Our next vacation is at the end of July, we rented the camp right on the water in the Adirondacks! I am SO excited! It's sad for whomever it was who had that week and cancelled, but when I checked, right smack during the lockdown, and there was an open week, yay!!!!! Yes please! We had no idea if beaches would be opened up anywhere, or what we would be able to do...obviously no international travel, and some state parks aren't opened up yet, we just didn't know, so we rented a camp.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

wow, what a day!

It all started with the usual, driving Jon to his summer job, which I do every morning. Then watering the garden, fussing with the pool, raking up doggy presents, and sometimes the kitties leave some gifts too...yesterday was a dead robin in the front yard, bad kitty! (They got into some baby bunnies too, so sad!)

Then, it was time to take Miss Charlotte Claire for a haircut. Here is what it looked like, on her birthday last month:

And today:

Then to Target with Emily, who had gone with Mariel, who had a hair appointment at the same place just a bit after Char's, what a coincidence! Em joined us for a bit...

The girls went for some fries and a shake, and Emily and I went to the store, then to the huge bookstore, then to the liquor store for a bottle of wine. Mariel was all done, and her hair looks lovely!

Home, dinner, taco salad, again. I had gotten some bone in chicken breasts marked down, so they're in marinade for tomorrow. I also froze up some boneless breasts in marinade, and made burger patties and froze them.

After dinner, we went out to our church property and did some work. The kids were such good sports about it, so spontaneous ice cream on the way home!

(Not for me, I'm having some keto ice cream from Aldi)

And now we're home again...oh, in between it all, we did take a dip in the pool! 85 degrees, and mmm fantastic.

Monday, June 22, 2020

....letting go...

I don't know if I can do it. I just don't know. It's been so long, and I'm not sure I can live without chair. My big comfy chair.

She's outside, next to "under the deck", where once-loved treasures go to await their final journey, to the dump. I hadn't planned to replace her. Paul was at his parents house, his dad has passed away a few years back, and his mom is done with traveling to NY for the summers, she decided to just stay put in Florida. So Paul was helping to empty the house, and texted me how nice this chair is:

Yes, we all agree, this chair is much nicer than my old comfy one. It is smaller, and more trim and smart and acceptable. My old chair looks like crappola on a stick. But, it's SO comfy. Once we put this newer one in it's place, and dragged it to the middle of the room, I sat in it again to confirm that it's just old and yucky, but instead, I almost cried, it's so comfy, and it is HOME. When I'm away from home too long, I miss my family, and I miss my chair.

A few of the teenagers practically disowned me when I started veering towards keeping the old girl.

So I asked Paul and Jonny to take her out under the deck, before I changed my mind. I've since told them that if they can't find me, I'll be down there sitting in her.

It's rained on that poor chair, but believe me, I'm still mulling whether we can just keep this chair, and drag the comfy one back up the steps.

We had a nice cook out yesterday. 11 of the kids were here, 3 spouses, five of the grandkids. The pool was warm and the burgers were good. Ashley brought a pasta salad, Margaret and Adrian brought donuts, Molly a bottle of Sangria, Emily helped Paul make the burger patties, and made the salt potatoes. We had coneys too, and fruit...watermelon, cantaloupe, grapes, strawberries, blueberries, all cut up, mmm.

Adorable little Elise, with her big sister Anya, holding and admiring their baby cousin Ophelia, Lydia's baby sister.

Margaret brought her guitar and we sang some songs. We solved the world's problems, and had a really nice time together. We made plans for our camping trip next weekend, and talked about the cabin rules for next month...we are renting a cabin for a week in the Adirondacks!

Saturday, June 20, 2020

....beach day was glorious...

Lake Ontario, clear, cold, and beautiful.
(That's Benjamin and his little Elise)

Elise and Lydia

Elise, Anya, Lydia...

My kids didn't go with me to the beach this time, they went on a picnic. Lydia and I hitched a ride with Ben and Ashley and Anya and Elise. The water was cold, the sun was hot, and no one wore masks, except for the lifeguards when they were not in the chair. Even the park ranger walked around with his mask dangling from his belt loop.

The warm weather continues, and our pool is in use! Today Paul is going fishing, and I might stay home and have some of the older kids over, maybe a grandchild or two...tomorrow, Father's Day, we are having the whole family over for burgers and a swim...

Thursday, June 18, 2020

can we agree it's annoying?

The birds! They start in when the sun comes up, and I'm trying to sleep! I guess all those years of waking up for babies has left me a light sleeper, but oh my goodness. I'm half kidding, they sound so dang summer-y, and I am in love with summery.

But I did wake up before six for the second morning in a row. Yesterday it was Sunny's fault however, she was whining to go outside, so one of the girls let her out, then went back to bed, so she started barking to come back in. ugh.

Anyway, I get up early, and putter around the yard, pulling weeds, watering flowers, cleaning up a few doggy piles, and the occasional "gift" from the cat (hint: they hunt, and leave furry little victims on the sidewalk). Today the hose had to go in the pool for a while, and I had to play fetch with Sunny for a bit. Suri is only good for like two fetches, then she lies down and sighs deeply, head on the paws. She is definitely related to me.

So yesterday I met Benjamin at Lowe's, and we ordered the deck supplies. Well wouldn't you know it, the rest of America is getting new decks, too! Between people being locked down and doing home improvements, and factories and companies having 25% workforces, the supplies are all back ordered and harder to procure. So our deck supplies will be delivered...sometime. Sometime soon, we hope, but what can you do? The poor cashier said people have been yelling at her for it, even regular customers. That is ridiculous! How can it even remotely be her fault?

Benjamin met me there because hey, he gets 10% off, military discount. I think I deserve to partake and share that discount, because I went through enough drama and trauma with him over in Afghanistan, medic-ing. We saved $160, so thank you, Lowe's for thanking Americans for their service!

I had gone to the thrift store, all by myself, before I met him. I found a shirt for my grandson Grant, a book to read, a V-tech toy, which works with new batteries, for the grandkids to play with, and a new-to-me white Corelle coffee mug, all for $5.08. :)

Afterward, I went to BJ's, got chicken, bacon, and burger, a bag of salad mix, and some fresh broccoli florets.

Home...ah, home.

Today, the slate is blank. The pool is clear and warm and the sun is shining, poor me. Margaret it coming over later with Wulf, he likes Grandma's pool.

And tomorrow, the beach...!!!!

And...what's annoying isn't really the birds, it's the political climate. I don't care if you love or hate Trump, be respectful. And who are YOU to say that if I don't speak out against something, I'm part of the problem? Go ahead, defund all the police, you probably don't even have to, because they're quitting. It seems more and more people are more and more tolerant of criminal behavior, yet if you speak out with a different opinion about anything, well, you should be fired! Silenced! How dare you! I absolutely abhor when ANYONE is looked down upon or treated badly for any you know that Iceland has pretty much zero population of Down syndrome, because they abort all the babies with it? To me, that's reason for outrage. To be patient and kind, and to acknowledge and be thankful that God has made all people as He has seen fit...judging and finger pointing and accusing and categorizing people...its tiring. I'm taking the rest of the day off from all news and social media.

Have a very good day:)

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

mostly sunny and 85!! wow!

I'll take it! Today is going to be a very special day! I'm going to Lowe's (home improvement store) to meet Benjamin on his lunch hour, so we can order the wood for the new pool deck! Why is this so exciting? Well, Ben is one of my favorite kids, I just still love spending time with him, still have to pinch myself that he actually lives nearby. And...a pool deck! After all these years!

The other kids are going on an outing today to a waterfalls with Emily and some of their I'm going off on my own, to the small city. That means I can stop at the thrift store if I want, with no eye rolls or sighs, or, "Can I just wait in the car?" Oh, listen to this: yesterday, those girls went to the thrift store without me! Ironic, because they don't LIKE the thrift store. Only 4 fit in the truck, so I told them to go on and go somewhere and have fun, I don't need to go...and that's where they went! harrumph. They came home with cute jeans, one pair new with tags.

Sonja, Charlotte Claire and I got up and took a trip to drop off lots of donations, that old van in the driveway is now cleared out! Then into Walmart to get some oil for Jon's four wheelers (he has three that he is working on and fixing up). A coffee from the local place, and home. (I got cold brew with heavy cream and one shot of sugar-free coconut. Not bad!)

I spent a few hours painting the back of the deck rails while the girls went out and about. (They returned all the cans and bottles, $40! That's a lot of seltzer.) Then I went in the pool, and talked to my sister on the phone. It was a gloriously lovely day. Dinner: chicken grilled, which had marinated in vinegar, olive oil, and Montreal chicken seasoning...jasmine rice, a homemade salsa (tomatoes, cilantro, garlic, chopped red onions, a dash of olive oil), green peppers...

Have a really good day, and if you're in the northeast of the U.S., enjoy this weather if you can!