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

Saturday, December 30, 2023

wonderful down-time...

 Well, not TOO down.  Margaret is staying here with her two little boys, and baby Blythe.  Yesterday, we had Achilles, Rhys, and Jamison come for a visit too, then Sam came over with Grant and Wulf.  I made some yummy dinner:  a chuck roast 30 hours in the sous vide, then pan seared, then butter and rosemary...homemade macaroni and cheese, raw carrots and celery.  

Camille and Kathryn and Charlotte Claire in Norway...
Wulf, Grandpa, Tennyson
Yes, that's Wulf...we went to Target and got some Dino claws and a mask...

Movie night!  Darius, Achilles, Tennyson, Sam, and Ruth on the couch, then Rhys, Wulf, and Grant on the ottoman....
Ruth with baby dolly....
Isn't she so adorable? him.
Rhys, Wulf, Grant
Baby Jamison, he was so tired...I love rocking him to sleep...when it was only Margaret and I with the six little ones, and she had baby Blythe, I said, "If I rock Jamie to sleep, and you have a sleeping baby too, we're doomed...he Wulf, want to be the boss of the kids for a while?"  He did not.  Darius wasn't gone for too long though.  We survived, and had lots of fun.  He took Tenny and Achilles to the store and got ice cream for movie time, after dinner.  
BJ's today, the robot that checks inventory...they were absolutely fascinated.  I may or may not have told them it was a monster.

Grandpa helping with a lego set...
These five in Norway:  Camille, Jon, Kathryn, Emily, Charlotte Claire...Mariel is there too.

We went to BJ's today, got some pizzas and mozzarella sticks for tomorrow night.  I wanted to order pizza, but it might be too crazy busy on New Year's Eve.  We're going to a gym/trampoline/gymnastics place in the afternoon so all the kids can run around and play, then some are coming back here, hopefully all tired out and ready to vegetate, but ha, I doubt it.  

Right now, I have a homemade chicken pot pie in the oven, and a sugar free pumpkin pie.  The pot pie:  I cut up the chicken breast, about  2 1/2 pounds, browned it up, added a quart of chicken broth, salt and pepper, rosemary...then two peeled chopped potatoes, some chopped celery, a bag of frozen veggies (corn, green beans, carrots, peas)...after all simmered to soft, I added cornstarch and flour stirred up with cold water, to thicken it all up.  A nice big pie pan, with homemade butter crust, most of the mixture fit into it, but there was a baggy leftover for the freezer.  I sprinkle more salt and pepper and rosemary on the top before baking.  The sugar free pumpkin pie is just the recipe on the can, but instead of the 3/4 cup of sugar, I added a small amount of monk-fruit sugar (about 1/6th of a cup), and the same amount of brown sugar stevia, then a heaping tablespoon of honey.  So it's technically not sugar-free, but mostly.  And, the crust is positively sinful, in a way, butter and flour...but mmm.  Sometimes you just have to have something yummy, right?  

Ah well, the house smells astoundingly amazingly delicious, the aroma of baking pot pie AND pumpkin pie, oh dear.  We'll have a cozy hot dinner tonight....just Paul and I, Margaret and her little boys (Blythe doesn't eat these things yet), and Sonja isn't home.  Have a nice evening, and Happy New Year!

Monday, December 25, 2023

we wish you a merry Christmas...

 14 of the kids were here either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, or both.  (Aaron is in Phoenix, and Abigail in Delaware).  Emily brought Paul's trumpet back, Margaret tried it...Tenny was intrigued.

Wulf and Tennyson wanted turns after Emily...
Suzanne with baby Maeve
Jonathan, and Grant
Suzanne and Evelyn
Camille, Margaret, and Sam (with Maeve)
Suzanne, Charlotte Claire, Sonja, Camille, Margaret...
Sonja, Char, Cam, Evelyn
Some grandchildren with Miss Char...they played a game where they had to close their eyes and guess the candies, from Hot Tamales to Junior Mints...they loved it.

Elise with her Holiday Barbie...I got four of them at the thrift store, brand new in the boxes, for four of the granddaughters...they loved them.  It was actually an item on Anya's Christmas list, which I didn't know.
Lydia, Anya, Elise
Molly in yellow, little Opheila behind Lydia, Anya, Elise
Achilles, Evelyn, Sonja holding Rhys, Char, Cam...singing Christmas songs.
With Grace too (Sam's wife)
Benjamin holding Declan
Ashley with Declan
Grandchildren, Emily in the background
Cousin Anya hugging Ophelia
Cam with Maeve, Molly with Denzel
Aunt Evelyn and the game, and Paul
Camille with Maeve
Mariel, Sam with Denzel, Kathryn
Jonny with Ruth and Suri
Evelyn with Jamie, Kathryn with Denzel:  measuring the babies
Another game with Aunt Evelyn, blindfolded bow scooping.

Achilles, Grace in the back with Maeve, Cam with Jamie, Mariel with Blythe, Kathryn standing
Sonja playing Jenga with Tennyson
And phew...just like that, wow, it's over.  I had meant to stay home Saturday.  I really meant to.  I made cookie dough because we needed more gingerbread cookies.  But, my brother had texted and asked if anyone wanted to go out to lunch with Aunt Barb, whom I had just gone out to lunch with a few days before.  But, I decided to go, got a chance to see my older brother Bob, and my younger brother Casey.  It was time well spent.  We went to Cracker Barrel, it was meh.  Not too shabby, but nothing to write home about.

Home, and time to get those cookies baked.  Suzanne came for a visit, we had ribs.  I made them in the Instant pot because I was baking cookies.  26 minutes, I think, rubbed with salt and pepper, doused with vinegar and brown sugar, with some bbq sauce too.  I cooked two racks, cut in half, standing up, with the rack in the bottom.  Then, ten minutes or so in the oven on broil, with extra sauce...oh yum.

Yesterday, we frosted those cookies, made meatballs, got them into the crockpot with sauce, and Paul made venison chili.  I made a five pound batch of fudge, and we cleaned up the house.  We had charcuterie, we had chicken biryani, mozzarella sticks, air fried cheese curds, cookies, and all sorts of snacks.

When the families went home, we settled in for our Secret Santa, Jonathan got me, a new bookcase!  We stayed up too late and played some funny games, and laughed our heads off.  This morning came too quickly.  Evelyn spent the night, and we had a quiet Christmas morning.  I got an Always Pan, a really nice frying/sauteeing/oven-safe pan, from Sonja and Abigail.  I also got a really nice Aura picture frame that Bluetooths pics from your camera roll, and displays can change the settings from one minute, to ten minute intervals, load tons of pics on's a nice picture frame too...from Evelyn.  I got new spatulas, a book, a mug tree from Hearth and Hand, and some new mugs.  

Jon got a new espresso machine, so that was fun...Paul got a soda stream to make our own seltzer.  The girls got clothes, and a new desk chair for Camille, a laptop desk for Char, along with a huge suitcase and a matching carryon.  They got hair things and socks and mittens and hats and scarves and and and.  They're all set to leave for Norway in the morning.  They packed today, weighed the checked bag, and got it under fifty pounds.  They have their passports, and a note that says they can travel with Emily and Mariel (just the two girls, Jon is 19). Sonja isn't going, she has to work.

Margaret will be staying here with the two boys, so I had better get to bed and get some sleep.  It was a busy day.  Food and messes and cleaning up, but so absolutely nice, loved it all.  Emily, Benjamin and Ashley with Anya, Elise, Declan, Mariel, Joseph and Bethany, Molly and Josh with Lydia, Ophelia, Denzel, Sam and Grace with Grant, Ruth, Maeve, Margaret and Adrian with Wulf, Tennyson, Blythe, Kathryn and Darius with Achilles, Rhys, Jamison, Evelyn, Suzanne and Zech, Sonja, Jonathan, Charlotte Claire, and Camille...with Paul and I...38.  And....good night.

Friday, December 22, 2023

27 years ago...

 I had a baby girl!  We already had four boys, and four girls, so our tie-breaker was little Miss Margaret Cheryl.  I came home from the hospital on Christmas Eve, and the big question was:  Are we going to Uncle Bob's?  My older brother, a dad of ten himself, always had an open home, and Christmas Eve at his place was the APEX of the year to the kids.  

I was only 31 years old, if I did my math right, with nine kids.  Home from the hospital, and yes, why not go to Uncle Bob's?  Problem was, little Mariel started getting sick, so Paul stayed home with her.  I had a girl staying with me to help out, but shh, we know how that goes some times.  She WAS sweet and fun though.  Anyway, I packed up the rest of the kids and that newborn baby, and drove that 15 passenger van over to my brother's house, where my sister and her husband were with their seven daughters, and my other brother and his wife with their how-ever-many they had at that time, they eventually had 12.  It was chaos and fun and those kids would sit so nicely waiting for their presents.  I would bring a gift for each of the cousins, and their parents too.  (Remember, I was young).  

Anyway.  Today Miss Margaret is 27, and has three kids of her own.  She was going to bring the little guys over to spend the night, Wulf and Tennyson, so she could celebrate with Adrian, but Wulf's ear hurt last night.  I wouldn't mind so much being awakened, but what if he wanted his mom in the middle of the night?  And I lied, I hate being woke up ha.

Last night, Little Miss Sunshine woke me up by...ahhem, barfing.  Dogs.  They eat things.  She was hacking and hawking, and I was pretending like I didn't hear a thing.  Because I wasn't getting up at three o'clock for a puke cleaning party.  The whole rest of the night my sleep was mixed up with questions:  would Paul get up to go to the bathroom and step in it?  Would I forget it was there and step in it?  

Well, I got up before Paul, and stepped stealthily around it, and what do you know?  After she came in from outside, she started in again, right in front of the couch.  I tried to stop her, to get her to come to the door and go outside, but she took the scenic route through the living room, over near the presents, behind the coffee table, into the kitchen, then over to my new kitchen rug, um NO, I got her collar and led her over to the door, and out onto the deck, where she started barking her head off at something really scary, like a bird or a squirrel.  BARKBARKBARK as I was armed with paper towels and cleaning spray, leaning over and cleaning up a trail of yuk.  BARKBARKBARK.  I stood up, put my hands on my hips, and said to the dog who couldn't hear me, I hate you.

I don't really hate her, but my inner two year old came out, I guess.

I actually feel horrible for her, because she obviously didn't feel so great, but good enough to bark.  

She's fine now, as dogs usually are after a tummy bout.

Anyway.  I made gluten free molasses cookie dough, did some cleaning up and other exciting things, then went to Walmart with Kathryn.  Achilles fell asleep right as we were five minutes from the store, so we went to Starbucks, so he could sleep for longer, and because blonde roast iced Americanos with heavy cream, mmm.  

Walmart was a ZOO.  But.  It was pleasant, if that makes sense.  I had Jamieson in my cart, feeding him Cheerios.  He likes to carry on a conversation.  aaaah, he says.  aaaah, I say back.  He smiles at people and cheers them up.  We saw an old old man choosing a red sweater for $17.98.  We got stuck in traffic and heard a young man in an American flag hoodie saying to an older guy, "I thought no way, these Jesus freaks are so weird, no religious nut-jobs...but guess what?  I'm different, they're not so bad, things are good..."  I stood there, blocked in by an employee hauling a huge-0 cart of merchandise, listing to this young guy, and crying.  Happy tears.  I almost yelled amen!  

I bought a few stocking stuffers, and off we went.  Achilles and Rhys were really good, so they got bubble gum and a Matchbox car for Achilles.  He's trying to learn how to blow bubbles with his gum so that's great fun.

Home....ahh, home.  Sonja had cleaned up the kitchen so that was a treat.  I made the molasses cookies, then the dairy free cut outs...I frosted those, too. 

Took keep them distinct from the other cut outs I made with butter, I used different cutters.  

Last night was Christmas movie night, some Hallmark type with Sir Cole, A Knight Before Christmas maybe...Sonja had gotten Chipotle for the kids, and they were all comfy watching....I stayed up with them, got in bed at 1:03.  

The kitty on Sonja...:)

Charlotte Claire:  there were puppies visiting at school.  no, no way, no how.  But wait, I want one.  

My sister and I had a nice time with our Aunt Barb.  There are only two aunts left, two siblings of our father's left out of 12, and our other aunt is developing dementia.  Aunt Barb lost her husband years ago, and never had any children, so she gets lonely.  We went to Panera and sat and talked for a bit.  Their family was dirt poor.  But my grandmother used to say soap and water are cheap, there's no excuse for being dirty.   Her house was apparently spotless.  

Anyway.  After lunch, Cheryl had a Target pick up, and I had to run in to Target for gluten free flour, and who did I see in there?  Sonja, Char, and Cam!  I had put a few things in my cart, since they are always with me, I thought I'd get them a few things, and ha, I think they saw.  

Cheryl and I moseyed over to Price Chopper, where the donuts get marked down to $2 for a half dozen after four o'clock.  We got only a few things, then stopped at Tops, where I ran in to get ground beef for $2.99 a pound, for our Christmas Eve meatballs.  There were packages of pepperoni for buy 2 get 3 free, so 5 packages for $7.18, not too bad.   They also had Pepsi buy 2 get 4 free.  I got a few Pepsi Zeros, and ginger ale, and diet Mt. Dew...we don't drink soda very often at all, but a diet cola once in a while is so yummy, so I got it for Christmas. 

All that running around, home for dinner, I had leftover chicken taco soup and the kids ate their Chipotle.  Paul cooked some venison, happy as can be.

Sorry I seem to be going on and on this evening, so much to say with nothing really to say.  There's still so much to do, but I find I work better under pressure, at least that's how I console my procrastinating self.  I have some things to wrap, stockings to fill, and the food...still some to prepare, and I want to make fudge.  They're eating the cookies up too, the rascals...they love the gingerbread ones.