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, November 29, 2023

getting caught in the snow!

 Yesterday, I was feeling adventurous.  The sun was shining, but the wind was blowing and it was 29 degrees.  I had to move the truck (scrape the snow off the windshield first) to get the car out of the driveway, and by the time I had cleaned off the car windshield, without gloves for some reason, my hands were frozen.  How old am I?

Camille and I went to Target.  I had a small order pick up, then just a few things to get.  We tried a few things on, I was bitterly disappointed in the jeans, oh my tummy!  But she found a lovely Christmas dress for only nine dollars.  We wandered and meandered and found a few Christmas gifts.  I checked my phone a few times for where that snow was on the radar...lake snow was pounding Oswego, just to the north of us.  It was forecast to swing down at some point, but we were playing Beat The Snow.

The thrift store was fun, 25% off on Tuesdays for seniors, and that's 55 and up, so that's me.  I found some grandchildren clothes, Cam found two shirts, one still with Old Navy tags.  I found a little coat for Ruth with the tags still on it.  Then, when we got to the register, Barbies!  New in the box, holiday Barbies!  I had a good idea, what if we got them for the granddaughters?  I want to get the grandchildren only one thing each this year, as they have SO much stuff, how about one really fun present?  

These were the four we chose, for $11.24 each.  Anya and Elise, and Lydia and Ophelia....the two year olds (Ruth and Rhys) are too little.  It was great fun to pick them out, there were SO many to choose from.

It was snowing when we left the store, so we didn't go anywhere else.  We headed home.  Sure enough, snow.  It was blowing and snowing, and at one point, I could barely see...about five minutes of driving in the blinding white-out.  It hadn't covered the road yet, so I could still see where I was going, but it's not fun.  The rest of the way was off and on again limited visibility, but not too bad.  We were glad to get back home, ahh, home.  Activity club was canceled in the evening.  Both Emily and Mariel had challenging rides home from work, and Sonja had to leave to drive to the city, right in the midst of it.  That's one thing about working night shift, leaving for work at six o'clock, when it's dark...ugh.  She texted Jon when she got there, safe but late, it was not easy.

Sharing the highway with the tractor trailers, ugh.  But she made it.

That's what life is like when you live here in Central New York State, south of Lake Ontario, the great snow machine.  The folks east of the lake get SO much snow, I think they had at least a foot, 18 inches.  

Once we got home, and the house was filled with that brightness that a snow filled yard brings, with all the Christmas lights on, it was so cozy.  We wrapped a few presents, and had hot drinks.  

Then, time to make dinner.  I cut up a five pound package of chicken breast, then tossed it in a bowl with cornstarch and flour, salt and pepper.  Into the hot wok, three batches, golden brown and crispy.  Camille made a pan of rice.  I microwaved a bag of broccoli crowns, then a bag of Chinese mixed veggie stir fry, just until soft, then threw it all into the wok.  I added the chicken back in, then the sauce, which was butter and orange marmalade with ginger, the packed of teriyaki sauce from the veggies, and some Target orange  chicken sauce, all bubbling hot.  I poured it over everything, stirred it up, and mmm.  Americanized Chinese food.  

Sunrise with snowy branches, winter isn't all bad.  

This fine day, Margaret is coming over with her little ones.  I need to get up and vacuum and clean up a bit.  Sonja is home from work now, having some brekky, then she'll sleep the day away.  What a job, taking care of children in the pediatric hospital...oh my soul.  She never tells me any specific details, but sometimes the outlines of the stories...a newborn with broken bones, shaken baby syndrome...a baby left alone in a house and discovered by a plumber...a special needs child with a myriad of issues, still smiling. They don't even know me, but I pray for them.  

Ah well, time to move it move it...have a really nice day!

Monday, November 27, 2023

staying home is actually nice...

 ...but before I ramble, check out our bully cat...

Miss Kettler, aka Mama Cat, aka Old Kitty, was sleeping so prettily, I thought I'd take a picture.

Out of nowhere sprang Orange Guy, her bullying son, to bat his paws at her.  Just look at her face.
She did NOT like this.
Where did she go?  She was OUT OF THERE.  Oh well.  He hopped down and meowed to go outside.  He didn't even want her spot.

I have mostly stayed home since Wednesday.  I brought Cam to music practice on Friday, then church yesterday, but that's about it.  The pool was cancelled this morning for some reason, so here I am.  Shh, the house gets cleaner and stays cleaner when I'm here puttering around.  I rather like it.  This fine morning, I washed dishes, scrubbed the sinks, cleaned the stove top, did a few loads of laundry, vacuumed, mopped, and took care of the cans.  I got Camille's quarterly report typed up, printed, and into the mail box.  I had coffee with Sonja when she got home from her night shift, then second coffee with Miss Camille as we discussed her report, and what she's going to work on next.

My Christmas shopping, ugh.  I got a few things this past weekend, but I flip through the sites and see Black Friday!!!!  Cyber Monday!!!  get it, buy it, snap it up!  But, the prices aren't all that great.  I need to take a breather, and think about what I want to get for people, and then proceed.  I am definitely leaning towards simpler this year.  :)

In a little while, I have to go pick Miss Charlotte Claire up from school and bring her to the dermatologist.  Camille will come too, then we'll stop for a few groceries.   I should make a list, a meal plan.  I've been trying to behave and use meat from the freezer.  I tend to buy it on sale, stick it in the freezer, then buy fresh stuff.  

There.  Now they're both sleeping nicely.

Ah well.  We're supposed to get some snow this week, ugh, lake effect snow.  I don't mind a pretty snowfall, with big flakes floating down and covering all the brown of the world with sparkles.  But when it comes with heavy winds and low visibility, when you seriously cannot see where the road even is, nope.  Hate it.  Slippery sidewalks, slippery roads, no thank you.  I will stay home as much as I have to in avoidance, but I cannot bubblewrap my kids.  This is the climate we live in, and when they grow up and have jobs, they will have to drive in the snow.  Worrying won't help, either, will it?  

So I have to go get ready so I'm not scrambling about at the very last second, which shh, I will be doing anyway....have a really good day!

Saturday, November 25, 2023's beginning to look a lot like...


This countdown tree, from years and years ago...back when I used to make everything.  The kids love having it up.  They must have good memories of getting a turn to choose which ornament to hang on the little pushpin each day as Christmas neared.
I really just set things out, all willynilly,  will be tweaking and rearranging as we go along.

She's a little crooked, but she's a beauty.  I like a fatter, wilder tree, but Paul took Charlotte Claire and Camille, and they chose this one.
They insist on white lights, so I made sure they were at least the warm white lights...Tennyson helped too, he has candy canes to put on!

Yesterday:  still clean up to do from Thursday's big day, then Paul said he'd go get the tree, so that meant moving my chair from the Tree Corner, which mean moving lots of other things around.  Paul hauled up bin after bin of decorations, while I moved furniture (Jonathan helped me).  Kathryn and Darius and their kids, and Darius' brother Josh were coming over, and Margaret and her little ones too.  So I scurried to get some semblance of order, but ha, it was rather a poop-show, to put it nicely.  Bins and decorations and clutter...Kathryn doesn't even live here anymore, but she was packing up the empty containers and putting them back in the storage room.  Paul set up a Hotwheels track for the boys right in the middle of the room, and it was busy in here...but I LOVE it.  I got to rock Jamison to sleep, and there is nothing like sitting in my comfy chair holding a sleeping baby.  I got to hold little Miss Blythe Margaret, too.  There were leftovers being warmed up, and pie being eaten, it was just a good day.  When everyone packed up and left, I started puttering around with the decorations...but it was time to bring Camille to music practice...

Anyway...came home after eight, and those girls had big plans:  A Downton Abbey Christmas episdode, how could I possible be responsible and go to bed at a decent time?  1:30, and ahh. I was out like a light.  7:00 am, and wow, wide awake...but wait a minute, that was NOT enough sleep...but too bad, my body said, no way I'm going back to sleep.  I blame my body, but it was actually my MIND's fault.  I started THINKING about things...mostly coffee, ha. 

Just a single batch of chocolate chips cookies.  This recipe:

2 1/2 c flour, 1 teas baking soda, 1 tsp salt, stir up.  In separate bigger bowl, 1 stick (4 oz or 1/2 cup) softened butter, 1/2 c shortening, combine until smooth.  Add 1 cup brown sugar (I used some dark, some light), 1/2 c granulated sugar, mix in...add two room temp eggs, 1 tsp vanilla.  I added a bag of mini chocolate chips (12 oz), a heaping handful of the Christmas M&M's, and some on top too.  I baked them one sheet at a time in a 350 oven for 10 minutes, then left them on the parchment on the pan for a few minutes.  Jon says they're good, and the house smells heavenly.  I know they're good, cannot eat any, I'll just want another one.  Plus, I had some buttered caramel pecans last night while watching Downton...

Jonathan's Christmas gift came in it's regular package, not in a shipping box, and guess who ran out to get the package?  The good thing is he's excited about it.  dang.  I didn't think he was going to be home today. He went to Ben's now, with some cookies, to work on his four-wheeler.  It was nice having him here for the morning though.  Sonja left to hang out with some friends, Char and Cam are in vacay mode, Char reading a Tolkien book (Lord of the Rings Two Towers),  and Camille is playing her violin.  The dogs are snoring, the fake fireplace is making us warm and cozy, the Christmas lights are twinkling.  Jon made us bacon and eggs before he left, so it was a nice start to the day.  (ha, I was up for hours before I saw their teenaged happy faces!)

We have no idea what's for dinner, but heck, there's still turkey in there, and a whole apple pie.  :)

Friday, November 24, 2023

another thanksgiving day flown by!

pumpkin pie

blueberry pie
a long time ago when Benjamin was in Afghanistan...a motley crew.

 A few years back, when Grandma was visiting...that's her in the pink...and Joseph at the head, with Benjamin next to him...good times.

In addition to these place settings, we had three small children.  The babies slept through dinner.
The 28 pound bird, roasted up was SO moist.
One of the sweet potato casseroles...
The picture I took...Camille, Sonja, Josh, Grace, you can't see Ruth or Ophelia, Sam at the end, Molly, Emily, Jonathan, Grant, Char, and part of Annetta, and Paul...
A better pic that Josh took...

A game with Grant and grandpa after dinner.

Our thankfulness board....
Cousins:  Ophelia and Ruth. 

Kathryn with Achilles, Wulf, and Tennyson
Cousins Rhys and baby Blythe
Wulf, Rhys, Tennyson
Then Elise, Anya, little Declan in the background...

All the cooking and cleaning and preparing and serving and cleaning up, wow.  It was SO worth it though!

It's time to clean up a bit, we did the after dinner clean up, many hands make light the task, but each day brings it's share of dog hair to vacuum up, and there are some toys thrown around, and and and.  I skipped the pool today because I cut the bottom of my foot on a piece of broken kitchen tile this morning, and didn't want to have a bandaid come off in the pool, or risk walking across the pool deck dripping blood, yuck.  I fixed the tile:  tape.  One of these days, we're really going to replace that floor.  

Today, some of the older girls are coming over to visit, with some sweet grandchildren, so I have to move it move it.  I might get to rock some babies today...poor me!

Thursday, November 23, 2023

happy turkey thankful!

 Our Thanksgivings have changed and evolved.  This year, 13 adults, 3 children, two babies.  The smaller families celebrate with each other, one family is sick, and Evelyn is visiting her brothers in Arizona.  Suzanne and her fiancĂ© are celebrating with his family, Joseph and his wife are celebrating with her family.  

Here are some random things I am thankful for this year:

1.  Turkey.  It's 28 pounds, in the oven, and it smells fantastic.  I did not brine it after all, but it'stuffed with  a sliced lemon and a quartered onion, with lots of butter, rosemary, salt and pepper, all covered in it's foil tent.

2.  The fantastic way I discovered to prepare the sweet potatoes:  I boiled six pounds of them, whole in their skins until soft, then the skins just peeled right off.  They are in a big bag in the refrigerator, waiting to be turned into the most delicious dish of all, sweet potato casserole.  I'm thinking to try the potatoes for mashies that way too.

3.  The new washing machine, even though it might be a dud.  It washed one load, then squeaked and squawked for the second, I had to google the code it was throwing, and open it a few times to resdistribute the clothes.  Jon messed with it a bit, then it spun out fine.  I REALLY want to try another load, believe me, we have enough clothes to wash ha, after being without one for so long...but Sonja is sleeping, and she works the night shift tonight, so I'll wait, in case it squeaks and squawks again.

4.  Jon and the girls.  They are very excited and into the celebration today.  Char is making cinnamon rolls, Camille is making hash browns, and we bought fresh  raspberries, for brekky.  Our lunch will be some charcuterie and the sweet potato/squash soup that Emily is making.  I got sidetracked, I am so thankful for the kids and their good attitudes...this last 25% of our kids, what blessings.  Paul and I both have experienced how finite their childhoods are, and how quickly they grow up and move on, so we just delight in the noise and nonsense and silliness and joking around with these last four at home.  

5.  I am super thankful for my sister.  She is going through a major health issue right now, very serious stuff, but she fights and battles to be at rest in all.  This is for her:

The kids are pretty much done making the breakfast, my coffee is almost gone, and there are things to do.  My hip is acting up again, not as bad as last time, but it's tender and I'm being careful, I feel so old today.  I didn't sleep much, stayed up way too late, couldn't fall asleep, then woke up when Paul's alarm went off at 4 something (hunting!).  I had to get up at 6:30 to get the bird in the oven.  So I'm tired.  I don't mind so much, but I do stupid things like getting the turkey all covered in foil, heaved and hoisted into the oven, then duh, forgot to season it!  Back out she came.  But today, I will be thankful.  One moment at a time.  I will not color the whole day with a black crayon because I'm tired.  I can manage, one thing at a time.  (Ever notice how your nerves can fray so easily when you're tired?  I don't want to be b$tchy, no sir.)

Anyway...have a really nice day, however you choose to celebrate.  

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

the honest truth...

 So the new refrigerator is actually very nice, it's cold and the lights are so bright when you open the doors.  It's all spiffy and clean still, and you know how it is, we'll always keep it nice!  We are going to though.  Seriously.  But anyway, our washing machine debacle:  Paul has spent too much time and money on parts, he finally cried uncle!  I had an extremely nice set of stacked washer/dryer, from a very nice area, for a very nice price, ($100), that I was inquiring about (they were remodeling.)  Well, someone else got to them first, they must have gotten so many responses, they never got back to me.  Then there is a non-stacking washer, quite nice, for a hundred, right in town.  The young man said if it doesn't work, he'll take it back.  In his own words, "I'm not going to screw you out of a hundred bucks."  

To accomodate non-stacking appliances, the laundry room had to be rearranged.  This didn't sit well with me.  I know, I'm a huge brat, by nature.  No one wants less room though!   Paul and the girls emptied the room, more and more things in the living room we had JUST CLEANED.  oh dear.  I kept hearing mom, do you want this?  YES, I WANT EVERYTHING, that is WHY I HAVE IT.  But, the minimalist part of me, the part that adores empty spaces and organization, that part was in total agreement.  Hoe it all out.  

I wouldn't have chosen to do this project right before Thanksgiving, but then trials never come when we want them to.  Ha, we would keep cancelling them.  Now is not a good time for the testing of my faith, maybe next week?  

So I kind of failed this whole test.  I tried, but not hard enough.  I realized somewhere along the line how absolutely unthankful I've been.  It's ugly. 

The girls, being on vacation, watched a movie last night, 13 Going On 30.  At one point the main character asked her mother what she would change in her life, if she could go back.  The mom basically said nothing.  Because I've learned from my mistakes.  

So as much as I'd like to go through these last few days all over again, and be extremely thankful, I cannot.  But I can learn from it.  It's good for me.  It's SO easy to encourage other people, but me, I'm proud and stubborn.  And thank God for His mercy, that I can learn from life.

I most certainly wasn't thankful at this point.  But I did realize what treasures the girls were being.  They helped SO much.  (That's why I took them out and about today, and to Starbucks.  Because they are such good girls.)
The old washer, before it went all the way outside.  
This was hiding in the laundry room, Suzanne made it in high school.  It's back out on the kitchen counter where it belongs.

Today has been a day:  Pool, then out and about to drop off several bags of previously loved items at the thrift store, let me tell you, that feels good!  We also shopped there, and I got a nice Lands End coat, down filled, for way more than I thought I'd ever pay for a coat, $24.99.  It's so nice though.  

We went into Marshall's to get a little birthday gift for a friend, a gift for the girls'  Christmas party, and a few refrigerator organizers.  Then into Aldi for a pizza to throw in the oven tonight for a quick dinner, plus some hot sausages.  I also dug a Costco cauliflower crust pizza out of the freezer out for me.    

Home...ahh, home.  Time to make the pies.  I had already cut up three 3 pound bags of Granny Smiths, and put them in the cinnamon/flour/sugar  mixture.  I rolled out those crusts, and when the pizzas came out, pies went in.  
One apple pie!  (there are two)
Camille mixed up the pumpkin...
I rolled the dough...

The blueberry is in the oven now.  I blind baked the crust for a chocolate pie, but it burned!  I partly followed some internet lady's advice to leave it in covered in foil for an hour.    I thought that was way too long, so I checked after half hour, and too late!  dang.  

We might be able to skip by without the chocolate pie, or make a graham cracker crust.  The sweet potatoes are all boiled for the sweet potato casserole (it'll be topped with marshmallows and pecans, mmm).  

Ah well.  After the apple pies went in the oven, dinner was done, time to put the feet up for a few minutes, but it was time to go pick up the "new" washing machine. 
It's actually quite spiffy.  We're on our second load of laundry already, it works.  

I have to go drain those potatoes, then I think I'm done for tonight. 

Tomorrow is a big day.  I don't want to forget what it's all about, in the midst of the steamy stirring and dish washing and looking for empty spaces to set hot pans.   I think I've learned a bit about thankfulness lately, it's easier said than done sometimes, but it's very hopeful for us, God is good.  

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

just going and going...

...but today, perhaps, we'll stay home and catch up.  Yesterday morning was frosty and cold, going to the pool.  I had to park quite a bit away, and brr, my sweatshirt was not warm enough.  The pool water was delightful, and getting in there and moving feels so nice.  After a hot shower, I was ready to go out and about with Kathryn.  

We hadn't been to BJ's in a very long time, but they were enticing me with a $20 membership fee, so why not?  I bought a few Christmas presents, a huge-0 jug of Dawn for the dishes, a big bag of Christmas Hershey's miniatures to put in the glass jar, and some girly things that are cheaper there.  

Baby Jamison...
Rhys...she loves Minnie Mouse

 I didn't get a picture of Achilles!  

Well, it turns out I don't have much to say, after all!  I thought I did, thought, it's quiet in here, I'll blog.  Paul is out hunting, he just likes being in the woods.  Jon is at work, Sonja came home from a 12 hour night shift and is in bed, Charlotte Claire and Cam are still sleeping, it's vacation week.  The dogs are snoring, and here I sit with my first cup of coffee.

Our washer is still all taken apart in the middle of the laundry room.  I have not gone to the laundromat yet.  The final part that Paul ordered should come today, if he cannot fix it, I have one lined up on Marketplace.  It's a top loader though, and our present ones stack, so we would have to scramble things up in that laundry room, but there are some other options there as well.  You have to trust that people are being truthful when buying used items.  Some are moving or remodeling, but what if that washer has been giving them headaches for years?  There are Black Friday sales on washers too, but ouch. 

It's super cozy in here, and I don't want to get up and clean the house and make the pie crusts and brine the turkey.  I don't want to clean, vacuum, organize.  I would rather go to the thrift store today, 25% off.  We do have several bags to drop off there.  I could clean tomorrow, before I make pies, after the pool.  I would win first prize in a Procrastination Contest, but only if my sister weren't in it, as she's wicked good at it.  

Sometimes I wonder how I am an actual grown up.  I only want to do the fun things.  

But, since I apparently AM an actual grown up, I will get up out of this comfy chair and putter around, and clean the place up.  I will make ten pie doughs.  I will put away all the clean dishes and wipe down the stove and the inside of the microwave.  I will vacuum and I will mop.  

Since it is Thanksgiving week, and I don't want to be a hypocrite, I will be thankful for my day, and will do my work with joy, singing songs of praise as I lean over to pick up stray dog toys (Sunny gets pieces of her Cookie Monster out of the dog toy bin every night, she likes to get a good game of Fetch going!)(But she never puts them away!).  I will be thankful for hot water and for plenty of soap (that big jug of Dawn, Merry Christmas to me, it's good stuff!).  

See how I'm dragging this out?  ha.  Have a really good day...