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, August 31, 2022

no, please, summer, don't go!

 The pool was cold today.  It was partly cloudy, and only 75 degrees out.  We would have delighted at that in May, or maybe even June, but in August, we want heat, sunshine, and a really warm pool.

The nights get cooler, the water gets cooler, and summer starts waning.  It happens every year, and we know there's not a thing we can do to make it last longer.  The barefoot mornings of weeding the garden, wandering around in the dewy grass, feeling the sun already baking my arms, are numbered.  The shadows are getting longer, and nightfall coming sooner.  

Of course the plus to all this is: Yay, Autumn!   Pumpkin season is not too shabby.  It's absolute beauty doesn't compare to floating around in the pool watching the puffy little clouds float by, but it is a pretty good consolation prize.

This fine morning, I organized on closet...okay truth:  I did a half-rear-end job because Kathryn was on her way over to pick me up by the time I had everything out and sorted, so I rather shoved it all back in willy-nilly, but it is better than before.  I vacuumed, so happy that I washed the vacuum's filters yesterday, and they were all dry and clean today, and the vac worked so nicely!  

Kathryn came to get me, she needed a few things from Walmart, and okay, I would go with her.  I got to see Achilles and Rhys!  There was this ducky, a waddling duck, for seven push it, it quacks and walks, and they loved it.

I got some bins for the big project coming up downstairs, a bag of coffee beans, a few grandchildren outfits, some Scotch tape, and that's about it.   We got a really good coffee from the little coffee hut, I like iced Americano with heavy cream, no sugar, no flavors.

Home...ah, home.  I vacuumed, and cleaned the room that Abigail is going to stay in for the weekend.  I have been washing bedding, and bagging up extra bedding to donate.  We simply don't need it all.  I got all hot and sweaty, then went in the pool and froze, then talked to my sister on the phone...then, time to make dinner:  chicken soup, as per Camille's was SO good, we make the noodles on the side, so they can eat as many as they want.

Tomorrow, after physical therapy, Char and Cam are going to help me organize our big storage room.  My plan is to purge.  I want to get rid of at least half of all the decorations, and some of the toys, and lots of the other stuff down there.  We want to work for two hours, then take some stuff to the thrift store.  They have other plans in the evening, as I do.  (I'm helping Emily unpack and sort a Sysco order for the weekend's food, food for 450 youth who are going to be at the conference).  (I will be helping make brekky and lunch for them on Friday, and dinner on Saturday)

Anyway.  There never seems to be enough time for these things, but we need to make the time, eek out a spot, and get it done.  I really want less stuff, it that makes sense.  When we had 18 people in the house, we needed all the extra bedding.  Now, why do we still have the ballerina comforter and the Space Jam comforter and the dinosaur bedding?  Do we actually need 20 or 30 extra blankets, and all these sheets?  The towels, too...for years, they seemed a precious commodity, we ran out of them all the time!  Now, the closet is full, and there are actually only five of us now, on a day-to-day basis!  We need lots for when people come over to swim in the pool, but in, we don't need them all.

After dinner, rushed out the door to bring Char to clean a camper, as a fundraiser (she drove!  poor me!). But ahh, that rainbow!

I walked in the door from that excursion, and these three had an idea:  let's go for ice cream!

You can clearly see that I said YES.  (I didn't have any...but I didn't say anything about how hard it was, I just sort of pretend I don't really want any, so they feel fine and free to enjoy theirs.   I love it, but it makes me feel yucky. has been a day!!!!  

Tuesday, August 30, 2022



Paul wore this shirt in high school!  That was more than a few years ago!  He's so funny.
After our day at the beach, washing the sandy towels and putting things away, I got hot again, and ahhh, into the pool I went.  Sonja joined me, then Miss Cam came out to the pool deck, wondering if we were going to Target, like I had suggested before...we NEEDED dog chow, oops, totally ran out, and who wants to go to the Dollar General, when they've got three daughters who LOVE Targeting?  Off we went...Charlotte Claire also needed some school supplies, as she starts 11th grade next week...  (That's Camille, Char, and Sonja K.) (Sonja just started third year of college, second year of nursing school yesterday, and was pleased to go out and about).

Lydia Eleanor, one of my granddaughters.
Ophelia Rose, Lyd's little sister.
Cousins, Achilles and Grant...

Ophelia and Lydia

Lake lovely.

I didn't get pics of Rhys or Ruth, but they were there too, with Kathryn, and Grace.  So six grandchildren, four daughters, and one daughter-in-law, at the beach, so much fun.  

This fine day, PT for Camille, then who knows?  The girls are switching bedrooms around, so there's no end to things I could be busy with.  

This coming weekend is going to be super busy.  There's a youth conference at church, with kids coming from all over the place, and I'll be helping in the kitchen.  

Have I mentioned that Abigail is moving to Delaware?  She has been visiting there a lot because she started her own accounting business, then was hired to do the accounting for some companies that are based there, she has lots of friends there, so it makes sense.  It makes sense, but to be totally honest, it's sad for me.  She's one of my best friends, love having her around, but of course I'm happy for her.  

You know what I long for?  A dark rainy day with a good book.  Dark and really pouring, not one of those quick storms where the sun comes out and ruins all the nice darkness.  The kind of day where you look on the weather radar, and YES, endless green, covering the entire area.  The kind of day where no one else is around, no one needs anything from you, and you have hot coffee and a good book.  We have a metal roof, so rain sounds delicious.  

We might get some rain today, and maybe I'll find a good book...hmm, maybe Camille and I can sneak off to the library after PT....

Monday, August 29, 2022

just shortly....

 It's not autumn yet, today will be in the nineties and humid, so off we go; to the beach!  We're leaving in 20 minutes, so I'll blog until I have four minutes left, then I'll run around like a crazy woman.  Chairs, cooler, bathing suit...what will I forget?  

Yesterday was incredible.  I woke up in the morning feeling fine, invited the family over.  I cleaned and vacuumed and mopped, and made pumpkin bread and pumpkin muffins, and keto pumpkin bread (it was very good, moist and flavorful!).  

Chicken was defrosting, pork chops marinating, and ahh, finally I got in the pool.  The water was chilly because the night time temps have been dropping, but it felt so refreshing.  Sam and Grace and Grant and Ruth, Kathryn, Achilles, and Rhys, Evelyn, Margaret, Adrian, Wulf, Tennyson,  (and of course Paul and I, Sonja, Char, Cam) was a wonderful day.

Off I go, to gather the girls...and pack up the car...yay for living so close to Lake Ontario!!!!

Sunday, August 28, 2022

oh, lots of fun today!


Not too long ago, not too far from here, there was a mom...she didn't live in a shoe, but you get the idea.  Miss Charlotte Claire, standing behind Jonathan, was NOT thrilled that she had to stop swinging to come over and get in the photo.  And Jonny, the lonely little petunia in an onion patch, or the rose among the thorns?  No wonder he's grown up to be such a nice guy though...

So yesterday was my kitchen day at our church...I went shopping on Friday for the food, for 36 people...started putting it all away, and oops, the number went up to 50...okay, had to go back to a store and buy more stuff.

Kathryn and little Rhys came with me, and we stopped at Chipotle.  (Achilles stayed here with Sonja, Char, and Cam)

Anyway, kitchen yesterday:  Camille helped, along with my friends Karen and Linda.  Taco salad for lunch, 26 pounds of burger to cook up and season, then the chopping of all the peppers and tomatoes ect.  Surprise, 60 were there for lunch.  There was enough, thankfully, just barely enough burger, which is astounding, but I think they all were working hard and were just hungry.  And shh, it was good, ha.

Dinner:  BBQ chicken (marinated in vinegar and cajun seasoning, baked to 145 OOPS 158, got busy and didn't take it out when it beeped!, then grilled with a generous slather of sauce), fresh corn on the cob, salt potatoes, and salad with tomatoes from our garden, mini cucumbers, radishes, diced peppers, and sliced strawberries.  Oh, and croissant dinner rolls, the pop and fresh ones.  
Dessert:  brownies, boxed brownies:  four boxes all baked into one big deep pan, with milk chocolate chips and mini dark chips sprinkled on top, some before baking and some when it came out of the oven...the pan was lined with parchment, so when they cooled, I simply lifted the whole thing out of the pan, and sliced and squared them up...I tasted a little crumb, mmm good!  (Hershey's brownie mix)

My dear friend Karen...too much fun, we had!

While all this kitchen fun was going on, there was work going on out back...there's ongoing construction on a ski/sledding lodge, and some new cabins, plus maintenance work.  There are trailer sites, dorms, suites, and cabins because so many people come from so many places for different conferences throughout the year, so people pay the young people for things like redoing their deck...and the money goes toward the kids traveling to other conferences in Norway.
Margaret, Sonja, Evelyn, and Charlotte Claire working on a's good for them to do hard work, and earn money for things that are important to them.  I also think they had fun!

So it was a day, a good day, a tiring the time I walked up the steps to the deck when I got home, I was a hurtin' unit, as we used to say in the old days.  I told Camille if anyone wants to come over tomorrow, I am NOT cooking.  

But guess what?  I feel fine this fine sunny Sunday, and out on our family chat, I said...come on over, and I'll rustle up some dinner...   so I guess I'm cooking!

...a new rug for the least that's what THEY think.

XI Van Fleet, a survivor of Mao Zedong's communist revolution in China....something to think about, right?  

Ah well, off I go to marinate some pork chops...

Thursday, August 25, 2022

a busy day in a busy life...

 Now this fine morning, we had to get out the door before I washed up a few dishes, put some chlorine tabs in the pool basket, turned on the filter, picked some tomatoes from the garden, and off we went...Miss Charlotte Claire, and I.  She had to have a back-to-school dr. appointment, check up.  

I was nice and let her drive most of the way home, after we left the city, I pulled over and let her have a turn.  She did fine, and I almost relaxed.

Home, for half hour, then off to physical therapy for Miss Camille...then to the pharmacy for a 'script, then...Kathryn was texting me about a stroller for sale.  She is expecting #3 (not sure if I mentioned that on here yet!  We are SO excited, this is the first baby of theirs that will be born here, and not all the way on the west coast!  So, we will get to hold and rock and take care of and help with, to our hearts' content!).  Anyway, she had decided on a stroller...she wanted a Baby Jogger front-to-back double, with a rider board for Achilles, and a bassinet to use when the new baby is small.  She found one in a small city not too far away, I volunteered to go with her to see if it was in good condition.  Well, it really was!  It was a decent price, but the guy said it was five years old, and the date on it proved him wrong, it was eight years old.  It's very decent though, solid, and clean, and what she wanted, and much much cheaper than brand new.

Then, home again...and here I sit...I need to get busy again, make some dinner..

Yesterday though, did I tell you about yesterday?  Pool party for Miss Lydia Eleanor, I don't have any pool pics, but it was oh, so fun!  Mariel just happened to have the day off, and Evelyn came for a bit...the water was cool but refreshing.  

Rhys Harper, Kathryn's little one...
Lydia was proud she could blow up the balloons. With Achilles, and Sonja in the background holding Ruth...
Camille holding Rhys, Kathryn, Sonja with Ruth, Grace, and Lydia and Achilles in front, with pink and green balloons...
...and Grant in this pic!
Lydia was so excited!
Smells good!
A pile of presents!
In the evening, after the birthday party, after I made panfried chicken breast cutlets with rice and fresh salsa from garden tomatoes, we had more company!  Mariel came over again (with Camille in this pic)
Margaret and Sonja singing karaoke...  We had lots of girls over, for a fun evening with popcorn, charcuterie, Mariel's zucchini bread...phew.

Ah well...busy is good.  Tomorrow, shopping for Saturday's workers' lunch and dinner meals...

And...guess what?  Paul is traveling for work again, and next week:  Budapest, Hungary!  Isn't that interesting?  He's rather excited, I kind of wish I were going too...but what on earth would I do all day while he worked?  

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

when the rain comes down in the summer... the soggy grass, which needs mowing, to the garden...oh, the tomatoes!  How I wish I could preserve them just as they are today, sweet and perfect, to slice up in the middle of winter.  How I wish I could preserve this whole day, to enjoy in the middle of winter...barefeet, ahh.

We only got 3 or 4 summer squash, but 10 or so zucchini.  The watermelon stopped growing, not sure if they're edible or not.  The pepper plants yielded teeny tiny peppers, not pickable yet.  But we certainly got enough tomatoes!  It's a small garden, not a huge one way out back, like we did years ago, with green beans and snap peas and corn.  

I do love summer.  It seems once you start to settle into it, it's waning, things start crisping up.  There were yellow leaves in the pool filter basket this morning.  The shadows are changing.  

Tomorrow, we are having a pool party for Miss Lydia Eleanor, who turns SEVEN.  The weather is supposed to dry up and be sunny, yay!  Camille and I went shopping yesterday and got her a nice doll, and a doll hair brush and spray bottle to brush the hair properly.  I also have leggings and a top, and some necklaces and headbands for her:).  We have to wrap it all up, I think wrapping paper is more fun than gift bags for little kids.

In the evening, the girls are having the youth group, girls, over for a game night/fire on the deck night, depending on what they want to do.  So today, we clean up the house, after Camille's physical therapy.

We went to the orthopedic dr. yesterday, and saw the NP.  Oh, what a waste of time, to drive all the way up there, and wait in the waiting room just to hear, "Your right knee (the newly injured one) is way more wiggly than the one you had surgery on, it's very likely it'll dislocate again.  Keep the brace on, and keep up with the exercises to strengthen up those quad muscles.  Have a good day and see you in six weeks."  Pretty much, that's what happened.  So hopeful.  Poor Camille.  We are going to be starting a new program here at home, that helped both Paul and Benjamin with their knees, in addition to the physical therapy.

After the appointment, we found our way to Target, where we crawled up and down the toy aisles, looking for the perfect gift for Lydia.  We got some chicken, and some seltzer, and not much else.  We went over to Price Chopper for the $1.49 a pound pork chops, then to Aldi for heavy cream, strawberries, salad stuff, and a new rug for in front of the sink, for autumn.  I do love the FUN aisle at Aldi, it truly is fun.  

This morning, I put the pork chops to marinate in lime juice and Jamaican jerk seasoning.  The chicken thighs I bought went into some lime juice and grill rub, in a baggy and into the freezer.  

This Saturday, Camille and I will be working in the kitchen at church making lunch and dinner for our friends who are working, building a new winter structure (sledding, hot tubs, saunas), and doing general maintenance.  We're not sure how many will be there yet, so I won't do much planning until Friday, when I will go shop for what we's so much fun!  

Anyway, life is good, but it's important to be faithful in the hidden, in the little things.  I can pray for progress in my life, and for God to do a work in me, and for oil in my lamp, but then when trials come, I can't be surprised!  God is answering, giving me the opportunity to work out my salvation!  ..."work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.  Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain."(Phil. 2 12-16)

Yes, we will be tested in our faith, and sometimes that can be painful.  Our thoughts need to be pure, and when someone makes a cutting comment, what do I think?  Even if I don't say it, it cannot take root in my heart!  We actually cannot really help it if our feelings are hurt, but we CAN help what thoughts we let stay in our hearts and minds, it's so freeing to forgive and let things go.  

Anyway...rain is coming down in bucketfuls, and off we go to physical therapy...

Monday, August 22, 2022

camping and birthdays and rain, oh my!

 Can I tell you a story?  23 years ago, I had an eventful summer.  I was expecting my eleventh child.  I was  34 years old, my oldest was 14 (Emily), Abigail was 12, Benjamin was 10...he had gotten in that terrible boat accident in July of that year, he fell off the pontoon boat and was hit by the propeller...way up in the Adirondacks, good thing they had a good, although tiny, hospital with an excellent trauma surgeon...Ben had 106 stitches, infection from the lake water, oh he was in shock.  Paul still won't talk about it.  He was definitely in shock.  But anyway.  Little Benjamin survived with a whole mess of scars, and thrived. (But:  That very week, we had a campsite reservation at a park up in the Adirondacks, the camper was completely packed, we were ready to roll the very next day...Paul had taken little Benjy up for a boy's campout, and was supposed to come back the next morning, hitch up the 35 ft camper, which was all packed, to the 15 passenger van...). (I do marvel that I was 8 months pregnant with 10 children, and going camping for nine days)...the reservation had to be cancelled...when Paul called me from the hospital to tell me what had happened to Ben, I asked will he be okay?, and Paul said...I don't know.   So there I was.  Not even knowing if he was going to make it, it was bad, he had lost a lot of blood, and the remote campsite was all the way down Long Lake, they had to boat all the way to a town with a dock that the ambulance could meet them at, after driving across the lake to find a camp with a I had to tell the kids about it, and Aaron, who was 6 years old, said I don't care about Ben, I just want to go camping!, and he cried his eyes out...for the lost camping trip.  Emily was 14, she was a good big sister, she said campout tonight in the living room!  They all dragged their bedding out to have some fun...I was heart sick with worry...I took the cordless phone to bed with me (oh we were cutting edge!)...and I tossed around in my bed like a worm in hot ashes, in agony, worrying.  I pictured Ben dying, I pictured him parked in a wheelchair, I could not bear it.  He was my sunshine-y little bundle of of course I prayed and I prayed, then next thing I knew, I was waking up to the phone ringing....Paul calling:  Ben was out of surgery, and things looked positive.  The propeller hit his hip, did lots of damage, but if it had hit the stomach, the organ damage!  or if it had hit the spine!   So he was torn up a bit, but the prognosis was promising....

That was also the summer we went to the symphony at a big county park, and a summer storm rolled in really quickly.  No one had cell phones then, so we weren't all checking the radar, it surprised us.  Long story short:  Paul was bringing some of the little ones back from playing on the playground, before the concert started, it was just getting dark, and one of them had a little tantrum about it, she was standing there with her arms crossed, then the thunder started, and people started scattering, and where was she?  Wait, seriously, where WAS she?  She was gone.  She was not anywhere.  It got dark fast, and she wasn't anywhere.  She was two and a half years old, Miss Margaret Cheryl, and she was gone.  I was hysterical.  All the little girls were in matching sundresses, and I showed the symphony members, who were helping us look for her, and one of them yelled I found her!  but it was Kathryn.  They were up there on the stage watching our other children, keeping them busy and strangers were out looking...this venue is along a deep canal, on a lake, and I thought she walked into the water, I was really really upset.  I don't know how much time passed before a police officer showed up with her, a man saw her standing there and scooped her up, brought her to the tollbooth/entrance booth, and they called the police, which I do believe someone did from our end too...but back then, things took longer.   The whole ordeal was awful, horrible, and honestly, at the end of the day, quite embarrassing.  I was hugely pregnant, with a horde of children, and I had lost one.  Thank God she was safe and sound and found, but oh dear, what a night.  

Anyway.  When Evelyn Joy was born, we were supposed to be camping.  We had reserved the year before, and had the best site in the park, right on the water.  Well, we couldn't exactly go camping on my due date, so we gave the site to my sister and her family, they had seven daughters.  We did go visit them when our new baby was two or three days old though...I just sat in the shade and held the baby, while the kids played with their cousins in the sand and went swimming.  I mean, this was the SECOND camping trip that the kids had to miss that summer, poor Aaron!

So this past weekend, we camped at the same park, had the best site, and I tried to tell my story, but my kids have heard it before, and they rolled their eyes.  I'll just blog about it then.  Ha, on here I can tell the same stories, and if you all are rolling your eyes, oh well!

Anyway, our camping trip this past weekend was gorgeous...beautiful weather, very few bugs, clear clean water, lots of sunshine, until Sunday rained and poured while we were taking down the tents, happy birthday Evelyn!

From our campsite...

Camping's worth the air mattress discomfort and having to walk to the bathhouse, it's worth all the camping and the sand and the packing and unpacking.  Camping coffee.  ahhh.

Happy camper.
Camille, Charlotte Claire, Sonja K., and me.
Kathryn Grace came for a visit with Achilles and Rhys...they like Grandpa and the pups...
Sonja and Char are having a Top Dog competition, they had to axe up some wood...I think Sonja won.
Abigail visited us, and snuggled with Mr. Achilles, after he was cleaned up with his jammies on, for the ride home...
Mariel held little Rhys...
Me, Sonja, Abigail holding Achilles, Camille, Evelyn, Char, Kathryn with Rhys, Margaret and Mariel peeking out from the back, and our friend Ashilde, who was visiting from Norway.

Char and Sunny...
And, Evelyn on her birthday...rain!  

But, later, she came over for a visit and I had made a few chicken pot pies..

Okay, it looks sloppy, but I don't like to trim it, and waste all the best part, the buttery crust!  

And a birthday cake!

Boxed yellow cake, shh...with homemade buttercream frosting...

The kids said it reminds them of being little...and it was so good, I had a spoonful which turned into two, which I then stopped myself before I had a huge piece, just too yummy.  
Miss Evelyn Joy, isn't she lovely?  She is also so much fun, and such a good girl.  
Char with the cake...

Paul in the background, Sonja, Char, Camille, Margaret, and Evelyn...and a puzzle!  Emily also stopped by, with a present for Evelyn.  I hope it was a nice birthday!

This fine morning, it's raining and pouring and the radar shows more rain.  It's nice, in that I have to bring Camille to the ortho dr., which is 40 minutes away, and it's not like we're missing out on pool time.  I would rather have this whole day home, to do things, but who wouldn't, right?  Life just goes on, and we just don't always get to choose how we spend our time.  So we can either grump about it, or be thankful and make the most of it....