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

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

it's not gradual, it's like BOOM.

How on earth did we grow old, grandparents, for goodness sake! We were so young, not so very long ago, that someone read us a verse, "Let no one despise your youth, but be an example for those who believe..."(1 Tim 4:12...), then yesterday I heard that verse being read to the youth group, and I thought, my goodness, time doesn't just creep along, it takes flying leaps. Paul had his surgery on Christmas Eve, his knee is still so swollen, he limps around, and it tugs my heart, because...he's getting old. I cannot bear it. He's the strong, healthy one. Okay, he's only 58, but still. He doesn't touch up his grays, either, ha.
We have had some beautiful winter weather here. The kids all went snow tubing and snow boarding yesterday.
We stopped at Starbucks the other day, and Jonny couldn't resist using the table that is "not in use". I want to mention that I am not getting a penny for saying so, but Starbucks is good. I asked what hot coffee was fresh at the moment, and the kid made a fresh pot of Pike Roast, and with heavy cream, mmmm. Sonja had a hot chai with a shot of espresso, said it was the yummiest ever, to paraphrase. I made sure to give them a good tip. Do you tip at your coffee place? I hope so. I tip at the gas station in town, too, after all, you don't have to get out in the heat or the freezing wind, you just sit there and they pump the gas for you. If every single person gave a buck, think of the effect it would have on those who earn low wages, and when an employee is tipped, I think they work extra hard. Our tree is having it's last day, gracing the living room. Tomorrow it will become a bird haven, a squirrel hideout. The needles are pinging down, and it's getting dusty. I hate to see it go. There is a real thing, a post holiday depression syndrome, but this year, people are getting it badly. We've pumped up the holiday season so much, started in earnest earlier, spend more, tried so hard to make it all so wonderful, then bam, it's done. Every year I think of Dr. Suess' Grinch, "on the walls he left nothing but hooks, and some wire...(then he went up the chimney himself, the old liar)"'s so desolate when we take down the Christmas. This year, I tried to be minimal, but no, I couldn't do that, no sir. This house is Christmas Central. I am planning to leave some of the white lights up, and some of the little trees, because they're winter-y, right? The year is ending, and we are starting a new year by heading to Florida. I know, we're crazy. But we still have a grandma to visit, and we are going to do that. We're only going for a few days, then coming home for a quarantine. I hope and pray we'll all be okay! I hope grandma will be too. It's so crazy that a simple 3 hour direct flight to Florida is such an ordeal. We've thought on it and thunk about it, and decided to go ahead and go. SOMEONE has to keep the travel industry afloat, right? Anyway. I have to get moving and try on some shorts, which UGH, if you live in the land of winter like I do, with white pasty legs, chunky too, well, you would understand why this is not something I look forward to. We are flying cheap-0 air, actually Frontier, where you can bring a purse or backpack, or pay one million dollars to check a carry-on, so we are only checking one to share between the five of us. The tickets were only a hundred dollars, and we're renting a car in Orlando and driving to Grandma's, so it isn't TOO risky, I hope. We aren't going to Magic Kingdom of Busch Gardens, just a few days in Orlando after visiting Grandma, so we can sun and swim. Off I go to see how fantastic I don't look in my summer seems like forever and a day since I've worn summer clothes....

Sunday, December 27, 2020

oh the joy, and did we really just take it all for granted?

Nine years ago, Paul and I with our sixteen kids, and one d-in-law, Ashley. No grandchildren yet, our little ones still quite little...all together for Christmas, just as it should be, right? We did have a nice Christmas. The three older girls stopped over and stayed by the door with masks on, and gave their gifts.
Sonja is heading for a medical career, so she got a nice pink stethoscope!
Miss Char got some Airpods. She opened the case first and looked puzzled, so I lied and said that was supposed to be for Sonja, who has Airpods. Well, Char looked mighty disappointed, but when the next gift actually was those expensive little earbuds, she was elated.
Charlotte Claire and Camille Anaya.
Grant and Wulf, two sweet grandchildren, besties, cousins.
Sunny just watches.
Sam stops to pet her...
Wulf and Grant.
Uncle Sam holding Tennyson, and Adrian (Ten's daddy)
Tennyson and Sunny.
Wulf loved the new ride-on I got. It's the one I got from marketplace, remember when I approached the wrong lady in the parking lot with a handful of cash?
Lydia and little Ophelia...
Anya and Elise...
Baby Achilles, who turned one year old, with the little toy I sent him...isn't he adorable? But Oregon, that is too far away! Yesterday, we went to...Walmart, of all places, to find some snow pants for a few girls who have grown up and grown out of all the hand-me-down kids' snowpants we had here.
Char and Evelyn, trying on men's snowpants, because there were hardly any left in the women's section. With change rooms closed, they had to try them on right in the store, which...I'm sorry, was hilarious.
We got a few bags of half price candy, then we were out of there. We stopped in the thrift store, then to a nice local coffee place, then took a drive and enjoyed our drinks. There's a nice section of town, down by Owasco Lake, with absolutely beautiful houses, so we drove through the neighbhorhood and and gushed over them. Home, ah home...I put some chuck roast in the oven, sprinkled with gravy mix and pepper, (dredged in flour and seared in olive oil first), and peeled 6 or 7 pounds of potatoes for mashies. Christmas went by too fast, and I'm thankful we were able to spend it with some of the kids. Even that feels chance-y, as if at some point our good luck will catch up with us, and we'll all pay steeply. The simplest pleasure of life: getting together. It's the most rewarding and enriching and encouraging and downright fun, and it's like playing roulette, in a way. You are just taking a chance. Yes, we're all careful when we go out and about, but if one person gets "it"...ugh. On the other hand, it's our LIFE, and our days fly by, do we have to live those days alone? Even gathering with limited family, it's hard to ward off those thoughts of depression, of anxiety, of hopelessness, I see it in the kids. One of the younger girls has bad dreams, one has nightmares. Their social lives are greatly diminished, and the news is just dark and dreary. So I try, so hard, to make things good at home, and do what I feel we can safely do to make life good, and most importantly, I pray and encourage, and take solace in: the very hairs of our heads are numbered, and not a sparrow falls to the ground without His knowledge.

Friday, December 25, 2020

merry merry Christmas.!

This is just a short early morning post, we haven't opened presents yet. Paul is still sleeping, that man came home from his surgery yesterday and stayed awake all day, getting up and walking around, as per permission from the doctor.
After dropping him off at the hospital (Oh my heart! It was so sad to see him walk in there all by his lonesome, but I want to give a very genuine and thankful shoutout to the nurses there, he said they were so very nice to him). Anyway, after I dropped him off, it was six o'clock, and the bakery was opening! Still pitch dark out, I went and got in line, waiting in the cold wind for my turn in the heavenly aroma and warmth, I got donuts for Christmas eve.
Jonathan grilled burgers last night on the deck, we had onion rings, and all the burger toppings: tomatoes, pickles, red onion, jalapenos, avocado, cheeses including crumbled blue cheese (Not my thing, but whatever...) Jonathan and Camille made five pounds of fudge, then a batch of peanut butter fudge. Right now the traditional cinnamon rolls are in the oven, and it smells amazing in here. I am having coffee, and the kids are lounging in expectation...they all slept in the living room last night! There are blankets everywhere! Margaret is playing my favorite Christmas song..."Oh Come All Ye Faithful"....

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

surgery on Christmas Eve? dang.

Paul has a torn meniscus, and has been trying to get it repaired. With the hospital situations these days, it's tricky, but he had his pre-op testing done (his ekg was good, which is a huge PHEW for us, because he has had A-Fib in the past, and has had two surgeries to correct it). His Covid test was negative too, so he's good to go, tomorrow morning we leave here at 5:30, before the sun comes up. I can't be with him, just drop him off and pick him up, that's life these days. So Merry Christmas to us, right? He's confident he'll feel fine. Sonja and I went to the store the other day for some last minute gifts, to replace two that I actually lost. They'll show up, but dang, where did they go? Anyway...
This was marked down because it's broken. Can you even imagine gifting this to someone, to a hero? You are such a hero, I bought you a broken cup.
Then there was this fine set, with a broken mug, seriously? Anyway. Today I have made three sets of pie crust, which means top and bottom, which means I've used 6 sticks of butter, mmm. I'm making chicken pot pies, which are way too good. There'll be some leftover dough, maybe a pumpkin pie and a sugar free pumpkin pie.... Yesterday was dear Margaret's birthday, she's 24 years old. She was my home-from-the-hospital-on-Christmas-Eve baby, our ninth child. I realized that wow, I was 31 years old and had nine kids. We had a nice little impromptu birthday celebration. Paul made venison chili, I made 10 pounds of chicken wings. We had some green beans, then I made a sugar free dessert, some chocolate pie/cheesecake pie stuff. (The crust was melted butter with a scoop of peanut butter stirred into the pie plate, then some toasted crushed pecans, then some of the cheese cake mixture (cream cheese whipped up with with whipped heavy cream mixed in, a splash of stevia and a splash of fake sugar, then the sugar free chocolate pudding (from a box), then the rest of the cream cheese mixture) Anyway, it's the day before Christmas eve, and we are all very excited here! The kids are finally done with online school for the whole vacation, yay! They're playing, if you can believe it, Grand Theft Auto.

Sunday, December 20, 2020

gingerbread houses!

Can I start by saying thank you for the kind comments about the girls not coming to Christmas? Hugs to all of you out there who also cannot get together, especially long distances. At least these three daughters are local and I can see them outside! The families that can't be together is one of the saddest things. And, we made our gingerbread houses! We decided to opt for the sugar glue method instead of the royal icing with egg whites, partly because we wanted them to be 100% edible, and to set more quickly. (one cup of sugar, cook it in a pan on low, stirring, until it becomes liquid, then dip those edges in FAST, it sets like lightening. And it is burning hot, both Evelyn and Margaret have blisters on their hands from drips!) (But the houses are super sturdy, it really works!)
Wulf was helping! Then Grandpa got him dressed and took him outside to play in the snow, pulled him around on the sled.
Camille and Sonja worked on one house, Char and I another, then Margaret and Evelyn did a special building...which in context, makes sense. See, a long time ago there was a gingerbread contest. Aaron and Molly and Margaret build a Starbucks, which came out fantastic, but it didn't win any prizes. (Sam and Sonja made a The Battle of Verdun, with lots of red frosting, oh dear.). Anyway, it's like one of our family jokes, we bring up the Starbucks gingerbread house, and we all groan, because darn it, it should have won! So Margaret HAD to make a Dunkin!
It was so much fun!
We had a wonderful dinner, those mini frozen eggrolls and fries put in the oven, then we ordered chicken wings, unhealthy but oh so nice not to cook in the midst of the fun!
We have too many cookies!
Camille's and Sonja's house:
Mine and Char's:
It was messy, but so much fun. The girls were remembering decorating cookies through the years, and are thankful they know how to make frosting and use the piping bag. (Camille made the frosting).
We had to be creative, one of the houses is on top of the refrigerator, one up on a tall bookcase. Our bad puppies would eat the entire house if they could, in the night. Just in double case, we had Sunny in our room last night, and Suri went in Jon's. Anyway, it's snowing like a snow globe this fine morning, and I have things to do!

Saturday, December 19, 2020

absolutely TRUE heroes....(and gingerbread!)

We are in the midst of a global pandemic. Whether you believe in the lockdowns, or the rules, or whether you believe a mask helps or hinders, we ARE in a pandemic. There are "cases", but then there are actual hospitalizations and deaths. This is where it gets real. We're at a critical point here in central NY state, where the hospitals are getting full, and there are so many seriously sick people. Here's what I'm getting at: my daughters aren't coming for Christmas. They live in town, five miles away. One is a nurse practitoner, one a nurse educator/chemo infusion/oncology nurse, and Abigail, she's an accountant, but she lives with Emily and Mariel.
(Mariel in black, Abigail, Emily, circled) They decided not to come because they care about people. They love people. Em works in pulmonary care now, and the dr. she works with is absolutely critical right now, of utter importance to treat people, and if he were to get sick...well, that would be awful. Emily wants to do all she can to protect everyone she can, so she's lying low for a bit. Mariel too. When I found out they weren't coming, I was brave and told them I understood. I do understand. We did this in the beginning, for months, then got toether a bit outside, then as things worsened in the autumn, we knew it was coming, the separations again. But I did cry when I got off the phone. I cried because they are my girls, and Christmas is family and memories. I also cried because I am in awe of how good and soft their hearts are. It's one thing to follow the letter of the law, but to do it out of love for other people! We decided they would come over in the early afternoon, and just stay on the deck for a bit, exchange gifts in the snow, social distanced. So it's not that bad. It's not the whole Christmas brunch and dinner, but it's something, and it'll be special. It's hard to whine about it when so many others have it much worse. And when there is so much to be thankful for. But it's my blog and I'll whine if I want to, right? I got up bright and early this fine morning to roll out and bake the gingerbread pieces.
It took several hours!
We planned, and cut the templates last night.
The house smells amazing!
There will be three houses, three teams. Margaret and Evelyn, Sonja and Camille, Charlotte Claire and me.
We also have cookies galore!
Jonathan brought home coffee from Oregon, oh so good!
Yesterday afternoon, we watched Lydia and this sweetie, little Ophelia, while Molly and Josh did some Christmas shopping. (Baby Tennyson in the background) Some of us pitched in and bought Molly a gift, some really nice nursing shoes...
We couldn't wait until Christmas! She needs comfy shoes! She started a new job in a big hospital west of here, hopefully she won't end up on the Covid floor, although that's selfish, someone has to do it, but ugh.
This is one of my favorite pics, my oldest (Emily Anne), and youngest, Camille Anaya. Emily and I are 19 years apart, Em and Cam are 22 years apart.
Just a lovely pic of Abigail...
Mariel and I. So I still have some gifts to wrap, and a house to clean, and what on earth is for dinner? Paul is bow hunting, one deer isn't enough, I guess. He's all excited for ice fishing to begin...