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, April 30, 2024

is a dream still a dream when you own it? And happy birthday dear Jonny...!

I'm gonna say yes.  Yes it is.  I am as happy as can be with the new camper.  It's clean and nice and everything I wanted.  

Paul, happier than I thought he would be...he bought this for me, because he is nice and kind and good, and he knew I wanted one.  He's rather indifferent, when I asked him if he'd rather have a boat, he shrugged, then clarified that no, a camper is fine...but I know he's fibbing a little.  He was actually somewhat excited when we went to pick it up.  The hitch on his truck fit fine, but we still need to buy a weight distribution hitch.  It is light, but it does blow around.
Sunny was excited too.

 Would you be surprised if I wanted to paint the inside?  I am not painting the cabinets though, there's a certain camper make-over look that I actually don't like, I mean, it's a camper, it is not a farmhouse.  But, I would like to paint the inside walls white instead of the dreary beige, and take down the dreadful windows cornices.  The dinette seat covers would be nice to cover too, but we'll see.  

And:  Happy birthday to my dear Jonathan Robert.  He is twenty years old!  How can that possibly be?  I only have two teenagers left!  Sweet Jon has been a blessing every single day of his life.  He's funny and smart and hard working, responsible, honest...he's not home today, because he's in Mexico, visiting a church there and actually helping them build.  

(these are the kids who still live at home...)
In Norway with Camille (Jon), Kathryn, Sonja, Charlotte Claire
Yes, I think Jonathan is a fantastic boy, but he knows full well that it isn't what others think of him, it's having God's good pleasure over him that's all that matters.  When we're faithful in the little things, in the hidden, obedient to those little promptings from God, then life is good.  Being with Jon is very encouraging, but he's tons of fun too.

I've been lazy this morning.  I have so many things to do I cannot even shake a stick at them, but I will get up and begin, because that's how it works.  I need to bake cupcakes for Activity Club, as we're celebrating a birthday.  I need to finish cleaning my room.  I cleaned out my dresser in a radical way, on Sunday, and and still have some things to finish up.  The floors need vacuuming and all the usual maintenance stuff, and and and.  I have plants that need repotting, and outdoor puttering that is calling me, as it's beautiful out.  I want to get into the camper, yes I have already been in there this morning, and assess things, just sit in there and pinch myself.  

It's not just a hunk of materials, that camper.  It's going to be a place of coziness.  It'll take some of the physical discomfort that tenting abounds in, and make being away more comfortable.  I know it'll be work to maintain it, but setting up the tent and getting down to sleep on those air mattresses, ugh.  We can store some things in there too, so it won't be packing every single spatula and frying pan each time we go.  The weight capacity isn't much, but we can still keep some things in there, like baggies and paper towels and plastic wrap, foil, matches, candles, insect repellent, a few wash cloths and hand towels, soap, toothpaste.  

Oh well...time to move it move it...oh, one more thing:  I had dreams about my mother last night.  She loved camping so much.  My parents had a little 17 foot Bonanza camper when we were growing up, before we bought our camp.  (They let our neighbors borrow it while they built a new house, and those neighbors never gave it back!)(Can you imagine, even asking, to borrow someone's camper to live in while you built a house?  My parents were way too put it nicely)

Anyway, my mother was in her happy place when we were camping.  In my dream, she came over to see the new Jayco, and loved it.  It was SO real.  I miss her so very much.  :)

Monday, April 29, 2024

a little breather...

 ...this fine morning, the pool felt absolutely fantastic.  I am so very thankful I get to go three times a week, it's amazing to just get in the water and move.  This morning I realized that some exercises that really hurt my back, not long ago, do not hurt anymore.  

After the pool, and Camille's gym time, we headed to the small city...first the dollar store, as tomorrow's activity club features a birthday party, so party hats and a tablecloth.  Then for a coffee at the little hut in the parking lot, locally roasted, the iced Americano is delish.

Then, to the bank, for the check for the camper.  ouch.  I hope that camper is everything I'm hoping and dreaming it will be.  

Then for an oil change, since we're driving my car to Ocean City this weekend.  And, shh, I was proud of myself, I pulled right in to that Valvoline bay without falling into the big scary pit.  The guy didn't even have to frantically point one direction then the other.  Then he nicely pointed in the proper direction while saying turn on your left signal, now your I didn't do the wrong one and have to hear a smirking, " Okay, now your other right."

I figured out how to pop the hood, and everything.  When I was in elementary school, my teachers made me hate math, when they did those random oral quizzes where they would point at you and ask you a multiplication problem.  I knew the answers because I was good at simple math, but it was too scary, and I didn't like it at all.  It was the same with learning left and right, the way they would point and say to raise your left hand, it would always flummox me, and make me so embarrassed.  Now when I pull into Valvoline and they guy says left signal!, it all comes back.  I know.  Drama Queen.

Anyway, Camille and I decided to go to the thrift store, and it was too much fun.  I found a nice dress from Macy's, for five dollars, fits perfectly.  She got Zara shoes for five bucks, and I got some grandkid stuff, plus a porcelain coffee pour-over for Sonja.  

Home...ahh, home...but not for long!  Paul and I left with poor Miss Suri, aka Tubby-Tubster, she fell down a few of the deck steps the other day, and has been limping around.  Paul got her some doggy aspirin, but this morning it was clear we still needed to bring her in to the vet.  Diagnosis:  possible soft tissue injury.  She got some doggy carprofen, and some updated vaccines.  She had a doggy fever of 104 something, vet thought maybe because she was so worked up and panting.  She's usually a calm dog, but she has definitely slowed down a bit, and gets to panting.  

Home again, ahhh...but not for long...we're going to pick up the camper...hoping the hitch works at least to get it home...I hope Paul likes it, and loves it, and it'll work out splendidly.  :). Have a good evening...and wait, what's even for dinner?!  dang.  

Sunday, April 28, 2024

there's always a glitch...or a hitch...


Sometimes there's a glitch because there isn't a hitch.  We aren't rich, but to end up in a ditch, because of not the right hitch...would be a...never mind.  No swearing on the blog.  

The weight distribution hitch:  it's a whole can of worms, a deep Reddit hole, a camper towing controversy.  It's a light camper, so it's not technically necessary, but there are those who have had horrible experiences with swaying and those who have witnessed accidents.  They come in different sizes and ratings and if you have them installed by the dealer, oh dear, oh my.  

I never thought of this part, just thought I'd pay for the camper, get a receipt, go to motor vehicles downtown, pay taxes and get it registered, and voila, we were ready to camp.  But.  The truck has a hitch, but is it the right sized hitch?  probably not.  Because what fun would that be?

I supposed we'll find out tomorrow when we go to pick it up...this is the camper I've decided on, iffy floors and all...because it's one foot bigger, a few inches wider, more sleeping space, still lightweight.  I offered a thousand less, which believe me, is outside of my comfort zone, he counter offered four hundred more, so it was a price I was happy with...

Yesterday was a nice day with the older kids coming over to do some yard work...we didn't get all done, it did start to pour after about four hours of work.  (I lasted three hours...three hours of moving wood and hacking down vines, raking...) 

Wulf, Rhys, Achilles
Brownies with Camille's peanut butter, I did not have one.
Char, Emily, Paul...
Char, Margaret, Em, Evelyn
Camille, and me...

Kathryn was helping but also taking care of the one point, Jamison was in his stroller almost asleep in the yard, and Blythe was in her stroller almost started to rain...Em and Kathryn carried Jamie up the front steps into the foyer, and Kathryn rocked him to sleep...he slept there for quite a while...they brought Blythe up the deck steps into the kitchen, I turned on the stove fan, pushed her back and forth until she fell asleep...ahh, sleeping babies.  The other kids played with play dough, and ran around, but quietly.  

Kathryn and I grilled burgers and hot dogs.  I made salt potatoes, and put out oranges, strawberries, cotton candy grapes, and blackberries, and some chips.  It was raining out while we grilled, but it didn't flat out pour until later.  Such a cozy afternoon, a dreary day but coffee and kids and older kids, my favorite.

Ah well...another busy day today, then hopefully getting the camper tomorrow....we'll see!  Have a nice Sunday!

Friday, April 26, 2024

one way or another...

 I am not good at choosing.  I dither and blither, then rue and regret.  So bear with me while I ponder which camper to buy...

Camper A:  I have not seen this Starcraft in person yet.  I am driving over an hour today to see it, all by my lonesome.  The asking price was $9,000, went down to $8,400, I offered seven, they countered with $8,000.  It's a 2013, sleeps five maybe, has small holding tanks, but comes with weight distribution hitch and a solar panel. 

This is the original Dream Camper, it has only two sleeping areas, the long part of the couch does not fold out.

I do like the windows around the dining area, so bright.  It's a light camper too, 3,200

Camper B, which I went to see yesterday:  It's also a 2013, asking price $9,000, said they might go down a little.  It's a foot longer than A, a few inches wider, has sleeping area for 8, with four separate sleeping areas (the two ends pop out, the couch folds down, and the dinette too).  It does NOT come with a weight distribution hitch, or a solar panel, but the awning is brand new, as are the tires.  It looks like the clear winner, but:  the floor had a soft spot, so the guy put down 1/4 inch plywood, then new luxury vinyl looks great...but I wondered WHY the soft spot, because if there's water damage, whoa!  He showed me pictures of the floor, and told me it was an issue with this brand and model (Jayco Jayfeather Ultralite), where the flooring would sink down at the seams.  He said he reinforced the seams before putting the plywood down.  Plus:  he's an engineering teacher.  But, this worries me a little...He also installed marine-grade outside speakers, and a little charging station for phones.

The couch is smaller, but it folds down.  Small grandchildren could sleep on it:)

Also, the bathroom has a sink in this model, the one I haven't looked at yet doesn' you wash your hands in the bathtub?   As you can see, I am leaning towards this one, this seems to be the actual Dream Camper.  It helped so much, actually, posting the pics and the pluses and brain has been swirling, and you know what?  I'm not sure I'll drive all the way down to look at camper A...because I rather like camper B...

In other news, not terribly too much going on around here...but here's a mini heartbreak:  Sonja is going to try on wedding dresses today with some sisters and a friend...and not me.  I was kind of shocked when I heard about it, kind of hurt...doesn't she want me there?  But apparently the place only allows four to accompany.  I didn't make the cut.  ouch.  

I didn't write this to throw her under the bus, she's got a lot going on, and she's never done any of this before, maybe she thought it wasn't a big deal to me, I don't know.  I am certainly not going to hold it against her.   Ha, this is the sort of thing that gets me into trouble with my girls when I write about it, but hey, it's my blog and I'll cry if I want to.

Anyway.  I offered the guy eight for camper B, we'll see what he comes back with.   It makes sense to get the bigger one, right?  I am super excited about it.

I'll be going to the pool in a little while, then enjoying this beautiful day.  It's only 35 degrees right now, was colder when I got up this six o'clock, thanks to Mr. Meower.  

The sniffles and sneezing have calmed right down, I'm feeling so much better already.  I almost wonder if it was/is allergies.  

Oh, the carpet guy was here yesterday, and our stairs look so nice!  The padding is nice and thick, and they're quiet and luxurious, and poor old Suri can navigate much easier on them now.  There are still bits and pieces to finish up around here, but is a house ever really finished?  It seems like a constant poop-show of projects, the necessary ones coming up and out shadowing the more fun upgrades...something breaks, it jumps to the head of the line, leaving things like putting trim around the floor in the foyer FOREVER at the bottom of the list.  The melted siding on the side of the house where the grill was too close, when we first moved here over 30 years ago...meh.  Then the main's getting old!  I'd love a new vanity and sinks, but it's not quite on the list.  Sometimes I run things through this system:  It didn't kill me yet, so I think I can live with it.  But when and if it finally gets done, oh it's wonderful, like the trim around that kitchen window, was absent for YEARS, he surprised me by finishing it when I was in Norway, in March, along with new trim around the floor of the kitchen cabinets.  

Anyway.  There will always be something to do, and the trick is to stay motivated, but also be content and thankful.  I recently saw a photo of a coal miner's wife and child, from way back when, she was smiling, and their kitchen was an absolute dump.  The little boy was so scruffy and bedraggled, but she had some bread in pans on the table, and was happy.  

Funny story:  Kathryn's little Achilles was counting the other day, he got to nineteen (I don't know if he skipped any), and she asked what's next?  He said, "Ready or not, here I come!"  too cute.

Camille has been coming to the rec center with me, she works out in the gym while I swim.  She is steady, doesn't miss a day.  Charlotte Claire is on school break this week, so she'll come too.  

Tomorrow is our Yard Clean Up Day.  Lots of the older kids are coming over to lend a hand.  Evelyn wrote a list of what needs to be done, and it's exciting.  I'm so thankful for these kids of mine.  I will be grilling hot dogs and coneys and have chips and lots of strawberries, cotton candy grapes, and some blackberries.  The grandkids will be here too, running in and out of the house, and making things fun and exciting.  

Next weekend...Ocean City with Emily, Abigail, Sonja, Charlotte Claire, and Camille...:)

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

chasing the dream....

 ...I don't have many earthly aspirations, but I do like a good night's sleep.  Lack of it has been the bane of my existence, my Trial in Life.  Considering that I had babies and toddlers for a solid 24 years, the span from Emily's birth to when Camille was two, sleep was elusive and I craved it, longed for it.  

Now, we have two cats and two dogs, and one Orange Guy in particular likes to go out at around four or five a.m.  Since I am a nice person, I get up quickly, so he won't wake them all up too, which leads to...why am I the only one who hears his desperately loud mewing?!  

This fine morning at five, this dark rainy morning, Suri heard me coming down the hallway and decided that she also needed to go out.  She's old and feeble, watching her gingerly hop down the steps is painful.  I went right out onto the front porch, cold wet feet, and urged her to Go Potty, praised her, then what did she do?  She ambled right past me, like an old black bear, and wandered into the side yard to check things out, in no particular hurry.  

When she was finally back in, with a miniature little dog treat because she is precious, even though she listens when she feels like it, I got back in my warm comfy bed.  Wide awake.  

Anyway, such drama, ha.  One of my other dreams is having a camper.  It's funny because we went like this through the years:  tent, pop-up camper, huge-0 35 ft camper, back to the we're considering a hybrid camper, hard sided with a pop out bed at the end.  

I love camping.  Paul seems to enjoy it, but he would probably live out his years here happily enough if he never went again, ha.  For some reason though, for the last few years I've had this dream of camping through our older years...he and I and the pups, maybe a grandchild or two...seems/sounds so relaxing, after the crazy camping trips with all sixteen of the kids.  (But for the record, I have no regrets, I loved those camping'd no sooner get breakfast cleaned up, all the kids dressed, sit back to relax, when the Can we go to the beach now? started up.  They would bring their bikes and you'd have to keep track of who went with who and when they should be back, the treks to the bathhouse, the sand everywhere!  

Anyway.  Having a camper has been one of my dreams.  A small, easily towable, functional, no bells nor any whistles, model.  I found one.  It's a 2013, has been stored inside, well taken care of, comes with a solar panel, the tires are good, we can tow it with our Nissan pick-up.  It has one rear pop out bed, then a front dinette that folds down, and a long couch.  The refrigerator is tiny, there's no sink in the bathroom, and the holding tanks are small.  It's within our price range, and I actually offered less and am waiting to hear back from the guy.

I've been looking at campers for several years now, so I know what I like and what's a good deal.  The problem is, we can be so greedy.  Paul agreed we can get this camper, this perfectly modest and delightful little camper, but oh dear!  Oh my!  There are some gorgeous campers for a bit more money!  Newer ones, with bells AND whistles!  This is something I've noticed about myself time and again though, and I hate hate hate it.  I am bound and determined to be super thankful, and not wish for more or better.  

In a way, we're programmed like this for a reason, we have grown and developed from the beginning of time, if we were satisfied with life as it was, we'd still be eating raw meat and living in caves.  Would we even have the wheel, much less cars, buses, and airplanes?  To want the latest and the best-est though, it can go too far, and spoil our joy in simple things.  

So on Friday, I am going to look at, and maybe purchase, my little dream camper.  I have campground reservations for one weekend in June, and for Labor Day weekend, and will hopefully stay in it for our church summer conference.  Not sleeping in the tent:  yay!!!!  Having the camper bathroom for those middle-of-the-nights, yay!!!!  Maybe I'll do sleepovers in the yard with grandchildren, too.  Or fit in a middle of the week trip here and there up on Lake Ontario.  

It's ugly, this little dream camper.  The seat cushions are brown and more brown in a hideous pattern, as if the designer hated everyone.  

See?  Ugly.  The flooring clashes, too.  What do I see though?  Possibilities.  A trip to the fabric store.  Maybe some leftover flooring from our living room thing I love though are all the big windows, especially the front one.  A lot of the newer campers have phased those out.  

Tomorrow the carpet guy is coming to install the stair carpeting.  I'm very excited about that!  

Yesterday I painted some of the upper cabinet doors in the kitchen.  I did the lower ones last week, same color, just a clean new coat.  I have a few more to do, but the upper ones are harder, so I saved some for another day.  

In the evening, we had rented a huge gymnastics gym for our activity club, and it was so much fun.  I played catch with Tennyson, and walked around and watched the kids jump and climb and do flips.

I only took two pictures!  Josh and Lydia, and baby cousins Denzel and Blythe

On Monday after the pool, I picked up Anya and Elise, and friend Linnea, for some baking fun. 

cinnamon rolls...I forgot to add the egg to the mixture, saw it sitting there on the counter when they were in the oven rising...oops.  The kids thought they were good anyway.
They made the bagels, and I took a tiny taste, so good! 
It's a dark and chilly day, and I have no plans.  I skipped the pool today because of a runny nose...and sneezing.  You can't bring tissues into the pool.  I don't feel awful, but...I don't actually feel great either.  I haven't had a basic head cold in ages.  I usually fight them off, feel like I've been fighting this off for days and days, it may have won.  

Ah well...have a really nice day...oh, and my sister seems to be doing well over in Australia!  She's been to the beach, and out to dinner, and is enjoying those little Aussie grandchildren!  :)

Sunday, April 21, 2024


 This weekend has been like a throw-back to the Having-Little-Ones days.  Right now I'm all settled in on the couch where I have slept the last few nights, across from the futon where Wulf and Tenny are still asleep.  I tiptoed out and made a coffee, and here I am.  I told them I was going to sleep in my own bed and they would be fine out here, but they were having NONE of that.  Wulf said, "Grandma, we like when you sleep on the couch!"  What could I say to that?

Yesterday morning, Kathryn was going to take her two oldest out for some fun while Darius stayed home with the little one.  I asked if I could join with Wulf and Tennyson, so off we went to the diner.

Tennyson, Wulf, Achilles

Wulf, Tennyson, Rhys, Achilles

It was chilly and windy, but they wanted to look at the river...

We had fun at my house too, they went out "exploring" in the back yard...

Rhys fell asleep on me, and Tennyson took this wonderful picture:)
Bugs Bunny with Grandpa!
Tennyson, Achilles, Wulf, snuggled up to get warm after playing outside...with Suri and Sunny

Wulf wanted me to build him a jail...
Emily had taken Char and Cam out and about, and came in for a visit...Tennyson LOVES his Aunt Emily.
Charlotte Claire prob won't love this picture, but she's cute.

We did bring the kids for ice cream, and it was like the old had to pee, one had to poop, another had to pee...good thing there was a bathroom right there in the ice cream place.  

Being around little kids is refreshing.  They like knock-knock jokes, and silly nonsense, and they want to know everything about everything.  Tenny, three years old, pointed out the sprinkler system in the diner.  He told me water would spray out if there was a fire.  They like to collect little things, and when we went in Target, they asked before we went in, if they could get a toy.  I told them they have enough toys, but shh, I did get them each one of these...
They're still asleep, Wulf and Tenny, they're such good little boys.  I'll make them waffles this morning, then we'll go to church.  

We're having a Yard Clean Up day here this coming weekend.  I bought kayak hangers to install under the deck, and am going to order some hooks too, to organize shovels and rakes.   Some of the older kids are coming over to help, and I'll be grilling some good food.  

Anyway...have a nice day, and thank you for reading my ramblings...:)