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

Thursday, April 24, 2014

all packed and ready to go!

2,754 miles I will be traveling tomorrow. The U.S. of A. is a big country! I am glad we aren't driving to Washington state! Emily called me to find out the plan, Joseph is driving us to the airport at....4:15 a.m. If I believed in unGodly hours, this would be one.

I managed to fit all my stuff into a carry-on, to save the $25-each-way charge to check bags on the flight. It is quite packed, considering I have lots of things for my grand-baby:) Who can resist all that cute baby girl stuff? I also packed healthy snacks like almonds and apples and beef jerky and a few balance bars. Two bathing suits, plus my sneakers, and I'm good.

I am also going to fit this laptop into my bag, so there will be updates, as Emily and I will be certain to have lots of extra downtime lazing around our hotel:) Can you tell I am smiling?

Today I went shopping to stock the place up with bananas and yogurt and milk and apples and chicken and turkey lunch meat and bread and crackers and a huge box of Fruit Loops. yuck, but then again, if I am honest, I would love a huge bowl of those. But I won't.

I haven't picked out school clothes for the girls for the three days Kathryn will be getting them on the bus, she says she can do it. I think she can. The girls are just glad it isn't Joseph doing it, like he apparently did one other time we went away. I guess he didn't do their hair so well.

Cleaning the house while I am going is optional, I told the kids. I said they can either clean up continuously like I do, or just let it get really really messy so Paul can see just how much Mommy actually does around here. But, I told them, don't really do that. He should not have to come home from his long day at work and do dishes, especially if they get home from school and just lounge around. No way.

If they can get along with each other while I am gone would be nice too. When we went to Florida, we were hanging around the pool with Grandma, and got a call that one teenage girl threw a plate at her sister. When we were in Washington after Benjamin got home from Afghanistan, we got a call from a crying girl, with shouting and fighting sisters in the background, long distance girl drama.

Paul WILL be here this time though.

Aaron came today for a long visit. Some of my dear daughters raided his Easter basket, but luckily I had extra candy and was able to re-fill it quick when he pulled into the driveway.

And...the kids are home from their thing at it is noisy. Lots of kids are here talking to me at once...

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

good morning, happy wednesday!

After school yesterday, Kathryn got out her guitar, and several of the girls started singing, "Let It Go", and it was lovely. I knew they would hate it if I videoed it, but I sneaked in and got my phone. Sure enough, by the time I had unplugged it from the charger, they were done, and Kap was putting the guitar away. So I snapped a picture of Camille with her library book.

Today is a rainy day. Dark and gloomy and rainy and ever-so-cozy. The birds are singing, and it is spring, never mind that it is a chilly 41 degrees out.

The kids all went to school again today, but I am picking the little girls up 15 minutes early today, which means they will get home almost an hour earlier than usual, because of the long bus ride. They miss a bit of playtime, but I am also picking their cousins up, so they can play here for a few hours.

Yesterday afternoon, after preparing dinner and putting it in the oven (marinated pork chops and potatoes sliced up and tossed in olive oil and seasoning), giving the older girls instructions when to take it out, I took the three youngest kids to the pool. I have had little kids for years and years and years, but these last few are growing up fast. As they kicked and splashed and played volleyball with the giant beachball, I tried to hold on to the moment, tried to appreciate it. I have been to that pool hundreds of times through the years with various children. One time little Samuel got out of the pool with Daddy to run in to go pee, then came out, didn't get his float-y back on, and jumped right on in...down he went, all I saw were bubbles as I scrambled over to scoop him up. He was probably 2 and a half or three. I can just see his curly blonde hair and chubby little cheeks. Now he is in the Army. I feel like an old fool, to borrow a phrase from my mother-in-law, because sometimes I see cute little toddlers and babies, and I get all teary-eyed, because it went by too fast.

Yesterday my sister-in-law came to visit, and brought her 7 month old grandson with her. He is a heartbreaker, so adorable and sweet and cuddly and content and smart, he is just a keeper. :)

This morning, I came out to the kitchen where my girls were gathered, eating breakfast and getting shoes on for school. Evelyn said that she had a dream I was pregnant. I was like, "Yippee!"

Now that Sam has graduated and gone away to the Army, there are only six kids going to school in the morning...Margaret, Evelyn, Suzanne, and Sonja go first trip. Then the two little girls go second trip an hour later. (Kathryn and Jon homeschool) It seems like so few kids, and it is. I haven't had only six kids go to school since the oldest six went, and then I had a whole slew of younger ones at home.

I am thankful that I can be home and enjoy the two homeschoolers, and the older kids when they come to visit (Emily was here for a few hours yesterday). I get to talk to Mirielle in the mornings when she gets home from working at the hospital. I am here after school, too. Sometimes I think I should be working, but then the time I had home would be so limited and stressful, catching up on all the work. I like the days when I can sit and put my feet up and have a cup of coffee when they get in the door from school, and just talk to them and hear about their days while they banter and shriek and eat up all the snacks.

With all that said, I am absolutely thrilled about my trip to Washington state! Friday morning before the sun comes up, Emily and I will be on that plane! Oh some heavenly downtime, and yay! I get so see that little granddaughter of mine. And my precious son Benjamin. That boy was always a handful, so clever and competent, right from the start. He grew up and grew into one of those dreaded terrible teens. He lied and he sneaked and his favorite phrase was, "I do what I want..." He got in trouble, he had the wrong friends, he dropped out of college a few times...we were at our wits' ends, trying to help that boy back to the right path in life. Then...things finally clicked for him, then he left for the Army. I always felt a little bit ripped off by that. Now he is such a decent young man, totally on the straight and narrow, would do anything for his wife and daughter...and he is so far away and I am missing out on him:) So. I am greatly looking forward to being with him for a few days, this fine guy who is my son. The good boy who was in there all along, but overshadowed by poor choices and that ATTITUDE.

Anyway, I am happy to be taking off for a bit, and also excited for the kids because Paul is planning a few fun things for them. In a way it's No Fair because he seems to do fun things when Mommy is gone, but when I am here, blah. I want to get in on ALL of the fun, but since I never have been able to be in two places at once, I shall just enjoy that they can get along fine without me.

Oh, it's hard to get up and moving again...the dogs are snoring on the couches....I want to snore on the couch!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

and you learn something new every day....

This fine rainy morning, I headed to the dentist. My whole jaw has been just aching, I cannot chew anything on the right side, ouch. Dr. Dentist looked at my teeth, then tapped them. OUCH! Three in a row hurt like the devil! He said that three teeth can't just hurt when one is bad, and since it came on so suddenly, it was perhaps a sinus infection, but he would do an x-ray to see what was going on. And there on the x-ray, was the sinus cavity, very swollen, right there above those molars. I did not know they were so close, or that a toothache could be caused by a sinus infection. It certainly explains the constant headaches I have had lately. He prescribed an antibiotic, and I hope it clears it up. It is much better than that drill....because believe me, I was sitting pretty tensely. I had to consciously relax....then next thing I knew, I was out of that dreaded chair, and off to Walmart for a prescription!

Guess what? I like wandering around Walmart all by my lonesome. It took 45 minutes for the pharmacy to fill the script, so I had some time on my hands. I looked at pans and storage containers, then at discounted Easter candy. Yes, I bought some. Then clothes for Anya, because Gramma can't go a-visitin' without some cute little outfits! Then I wandered over and picked out a few things for Sonja's birthday. Then I meandered over to the ladies's clothes and picked out a sweater and a t-shirt...I bought Jon and Camille a package of bologna, I cannot stand it, but for some reason they absolutely love it, I rarely buy it. I bought some yummy green salad olives, then headed to get the medicine...

A quick stop at the dollar store, because....why not?

I filled the van with gas, then home.

Ah, home. Kim, my sister-in-law, was here, and Emily came over. We had things to talk about concerning the grill we run at church conferences. Kim brought one of her grandsons, he is a sweetie.

And that's all I have to say today. I am thankful I didn't have to have a root canal, but am hoping these antibiotics kick in soon so my poor jaw will stop aching. It. hurts. so. bad. :(

Monday, April 21, 2014

and a happy monday it is!

Phew, what a day! It started too early, with me waking up remembering how much cleaning I had to do this fine morning...once I wake up and think about things, it's game over for sleep.

Paul had to get a physical for an insurance policy, and he thought it would be easier to have the nurse/doctor come to the house, since she offered. Um, easier for WHOM, is what I want to know. We had Easter grass and jelly beans and toys decorating the living room floor, and the kitchen floor was mopped just yesterday, but....yes, but. You know how it is. If you don't, then I hate you. Just kidding. I am just a wee bit envious. Anyway. I got up and got the princesses dressed and brushed and washed and fed with lunches all packed, then started on the house. Paul is working from home today. He couldn't figure out for the life of him why I was so concerned with cleaning up the house, "for someone you are never going to see again", he said. Well. I really don't know. I just don't like it messy anyway, so it makes sense to clean it when you know someone's coming over. BTW, if anyone was going to drop in, this morning would have been a good time. It's getting messy again already! Anyway, I took a nice long walk, then when the dr./nurse got here, I entertained the three children and two small dogs she brought with her. Or rather was entertained by them. They stayed outside and tried out all the bikes and scooters, while the dogs ran here and there. Cuteness!

I got some sun (yay!), worked out, did some dishes and laundry, which I dried in the sun. I assigned Jon some work, went over it with him, and made sure he was reading his book instead of playing games on his tablet. He got some bike riding in, and some sitting on the deck with mommy time. I made a dentist appointment for myself for first thing tomorrow morning, and I made a grocery list. Has anyone else noticed how the prices are just creeping up? I am going to three different stores to get the sale things at each place. Aldi is one of them, their produce is so cheap! It takes longer to go here and there, but it's worth it.

I am so excited by the two trips coming up!!!! Emily and I are going on an airplane! I know, I have never grown up, and it is still exciting to me to fly. I don't particularly like airport security, especially with Emily the rebel with her comments. She says things like, "Yeah, it's a good thing we are only bringing 3 ounces of shampoo so it's not dangerous!". But we shall have fun, because she also has the gift of Stopping To Smell The Roses. We will NOT get bored, and we can have those companionable silences without wondering if we said something wrong. She does NOT get stressed, no she stays calm cool and collected. We are going to see Ben and Ashley and Anya, and perhaps Pike's Market in Seattle, or Mount Ranier. We are staying in a hotel a few minutes from his house, a hotel with hot breakfast, a pool, and a hot tub. :)

Then in a few weeks, Georgia! I booked the hotel for that last night. No flying this time, it's only 17 hours to drive. Paul and I and Joseph and maybe Kathryn, and Jonathan, Charlotte Claire, and Camille. The rest of the kids will be at the youth conference at church. One of Sam's friends, who grew up with him, went to school with him, who is from a family with 14 kids, from our church, called last night to get Sam's contact info....Nate is graduating from his Basic Training in Fort Benning the week before we go down there, so he will be free to visit with Sam too. I can't wait to see him, and am so glad Sam will get to spend time with him. His older brother Steve is stationed there too, and perhaps he will be free too. Anyway, I booked a hotel room that's a suite, with two queen beds and a living room with a pullout couch. Two televisions, free breakfast, cookies in the evening, indoor pool and hot tub in case of rain or bad weather. The little girls are so excited, they got ready for school speedy quick this morning so they could see pictures of it. It takes me forever and a day to choose a place, I want nice but not too expensive, and I look and look until I find something I am absolutely sure of....but I actually like it.

Anyway. I need to get up and get moving again. Some of the kids will be getting off the bus in like five minutes....

Sunday, April 20, 2014

easter easter easter

Seventeen baskets, all filled. Well, technically, 15, since Emily, Abigail, and Mali shared a huge bowl.

Duke is so easy going. He is just the nicest dog.

Joseph with Kitty, Suri, and Duke.

And, a retro picture....

This is when Evelyn was a little newborn, 15 years ago this summer. Look how Benjamin was holding her! He was ten years old, and the oldest of nine kids. Emily was 14, Abigail 12. Kathryn was the little toddler, Samuel didn't like having his picture taken. Oh they were fun.

Today was a glorious day! Sunshine and warmth! I had to work at the baseball stadium, but had 20 minutes outside on the deck, where I ate my breakfast and drank my coffee before dressing in my ugly blue work trousers to go to the game. I decided today though, to be thankful. Because honestly, why waste life grumbling? I would RATHER have stayed home and spent much more time in that wonderful sunshine. But life is seriously what you make of it, and I decided today to get treasures in heaven:) At the stadium, you can look out at the sunny field while you stand on the hard cement floors and wait on people. I took a 15 minute break with Abigail, it was very pleasant to sit there in the stands and watch the game and get some sun on my face.

When I got home, I brought the little girls outside and watched them ride their bikes, then Paul came out and did sprints up and down the road with the pups, and the girls on their bikes. Now the little girls have had showers and are in their pajamas. They all had pizza for dinner, and are watching, "The Princess And The Pauper", Barbie version. I am having chicken and broccoli. I did sample some candy yesterday, and want to get back on the right track today:)

Camille told me this afternoon that if she kissed me as much as she loves me, she would never stop kissing me. Can life get any better than that?

Ugh, but I have a toothache. No, not from candy. It started so randomly, in the middle of the night last Thursday. It's in a tooth that was crowned when I was expecting Camille. The whole jaw aches, it feels like I bit down hard on something and it's stuck way up deep in the gum, and the pain is unbearable sometimes. I am taking ibuprofen here and there, but am going to call the dentist in the morning. I would rather give birth with no pain meds a million times in the middle of the road than go to the dentist.

Practicing thankfulness is more challenging when there is physical pain involved. I find I want to complain every time I turn around.

Charlotte Claire is sitting on the couch eating cotton candy from her basket. blah. Sugar. I know it makes me feel awful, and would really like to wean the kids off it. It is everywhere.

The pies I made yesterday were absolutely incredible. I just made them with whole milk and pudding mix, but the crust....crushed graham crackers and butter, then I mixed in some melted chocolate chips with more butter, pressed it into the pie pans, and what yummy crust! I only had a tiny bit of each. I didn't make any bread or rolls yesterday, but when Emily and Abigail came over, they brought a loaf of Italian bread.

Oh well. Time to look for hotels for the beginning of May in Fort Benning! I cancelled the rooms I reserved for June. I cannot wait to see Samuel....!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

ahh, happy easter!

Today is Easter, for all intents and purposes. We are having our ham dinner, and the baskets, and hunting for eggs. Tomorrow, Paul and I and Abigail and Joseph are working at the baseball stadium, so today is our Easter.

The little girls are so very excited. We are having three friends over for dinner and making them baskets, and the little girls want to help fill them. They have been dancing around here all morning. They made a list of names for baskets and labelled them for me with masking tape. (A bowl for Emily, Abigail, and Mali to share, then 14 more).

We have to clean up the house. The puppies bring in so much dirt, even though we keep a few towels by the door and wipe their paws when they come in. I sweep the floor several times a day, but one cannot sweep until one picks up the various items that end up strewn around, like socks, stuffed animals, dolls, a hair elastic....and the little girls have made themselves thrones in front of the t.v. cabinet. They stacked up those work-out maps, put plastic bins on top, then their yellow Little Tikes chairs. They asked if they could Please Please Please leave them there so they could sit on their thrones while they have their baskets. Whatever. It really adds to that Better Homes And Gardens look we don't have going on here.

Margaret made some yummy cookies with Jonathan last night, for later. I am making chocolate pies and a coconut cream pie, and thinking of attempting some home made rolls. Then again, I keep lazily reasoning, perhaps just ham and applesauce and veggies, because of all the sugar from the candy and pies, which I do not plan to partake of anyway.

Paul is taking the kids to the park to ride their bikes. They are adjusting helmets and getting sneakers on, and gloves, it is chilly today. He is mailing some letters to Samuel, also. I was considering having him stop at the store for store-bought rolls, is so crowded the day before Easter, and he hates stores.

Samuel gets to call us today! He wrote to us, and he is passing everything and doing well. He has a good attitude, too.

rrr. Evelyn is up and wants to get cleaning. I am not ready to start yet, and besides, I already swept up the kitchen, washed dishes, served breakfast to the little ones. I like sitting here for a bit. But...I cannot relax, knowing I have things to do. I am tired, because we picked Mirielle and Kathryn up from the airport last night, and the ride home wasn't long enough to hear about their trip to I stayed up past two...three o'clock, I climbed into bed. 7:30 this morning, I woke up, tried SO hard to fall back to sleep...but I KNEW Sam was going to call today, and what if I slept through it? I knew I had to clean and make pies and clean...rrr.

Sam said we shouldn't come to his graduation in June. He says he may have to ship out right on his graduation day, and have no day with us. He also said he could possibly have ten days of leave, it just isn't clear yet. So, he wants us to come for Family Day in May. Family day x 3, actually, three full days of leave for him, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. He says if he ships immediately after graduation he may not get any leave until Christmas, so if we don't go to Family Day in May, we are out. So. Change of plans....I am waiting until after I talk to him today to change our hotel reservations, but I think we are going to Georgia in a few weeks!

Phew, Paul finally went out the door with the kids. I probably don't have to explain that I seriously love them. But I am trying to write here! Adjust my helmet, mama! I can't find my other glove! I don't NEED to go pee, I know there aren't bathrooms there, I won't have to go!

I am getting up out of my comfy chair now, it's niggling at me, all the things I have to do.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

recipes, answers, and a huge thank you!

I'll start with the thank you, to my mother-in-law Eleanor...she sent me her sewing machine! It arrived this morning, and I can't wait to set it up and finish the apron I cut out for Camille last week, and start lots more things.

Recipes: Paul grew up loving his grandmother's molasses cookies, so here it is...

1 cup brown sugar
4 cups flour
1 cup shortening
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 eggs
2 tsp. ginger
1 cup molasses
1 tsp ground cloves
1/2 cup hot water
1 tsp. salt
3 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp lemon extract
Sprinkle with sugar before baking, I added cinnamon to the sugar, that made them really yummy.

Combine ingredients in order given. Drop on greased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 for 10 minutes.

The next is the white cake I made the other day, I really liked it, had to throw the last few pieces out so I wouldn't eat them while I waited for the kids to eat them.

2 1/2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 cup milk
3/4 cup shortening or butter (I used some of each)
4 eggs
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla

I mixed the dry ingredients, set aside. Mix up the shortening/butter, add the sugar, then the eggs,vanilla, then the milk, add the dry ingredients to it, then mix it up till fluffy.

It is rather dense, but flavorful, and good with fruit and whipped cream.

Now, on to some answers. I had a question about keeping the kids home from school. So here goes...

My oldest child who is still in school is fifth in her class. She does her work because she wants to do well. The next youngest from her is homeschooled this year because she decided, for personal reasons, that she would rather not be at school. I believe that decision, for her, was lifesaving. The next three girls are all on honor roll or high honor roll, report card after report card. Then there is Jonathan, who is homeschooled this year. Then the two little girls. The two little girls get excellent grades. Charlotte Claire now gets 100's on all her spelling tests, and is really advancing in reading levels. She gets math, and does well there too. Camille is very advanced, her reading level is improving by leaps and bounds. She can read just about anything, and fluently. She also "gets" math. I don't know if school is slow, or if these kids are clever, but they seem to do well in all they are given.

The older kids know they have to go to school regularly, or they will fall behind. So they do. Sonja still misses too much and has to work hard to catch up, but we are working on that. It's hard when you are 11 years old and have teenage issues, in my opinion. Anyway. The younger kids do miss a bit of school, sometimes a day a week, but then I try to get them to go the whole week the next week, and so on, so they aren't just absent all the time. They make up their work, but at their grade levels (1st and 2nd), it isn't too difficult. There are days they miss because of things like pajama parties with movies (they can do that at home!), or half days which for them would be spent mostly on the long bus ride there and back.

So here's the thing: Sometimes I do need my "kid fix". But also sometimes I sense they need a "mommy fix". Life goes by fast, they grow up, their time to be little kids and just is so limited. Their school days are long, they get home after 4:00, and head to bed a bit after 8:00, with daily homework, usually. Add in dinner, maybe a shower, and they have no time for playing house or office or school or Barbies.

I do not officially homeschool them when they are home. But I talk to them. Camille asked me yesterday if there were east and west poles, or just north and south ones. Char just asked me what one quarter of ten is. When I answered, she said, "I thought so!!", very excitedly. I interact with them, and they learn from life. School has it's place, it teaches them about reality and that life isn't fair and how to get along with others. But it isn't the end all and be all of a kid's life. My kids learn how to stop and smell the roses, and how to cuddle on the couch with a book. They go out and about with me and learn about coupons and prices and checks and ATM's and tax and gas mileage and speed limits and signs and how badly mom sings in the van.

Perhaps I don't play by the rules, but so far, the school hasn't had any issues with me, or with the kids. I know they don't love when kids miss too much school, and I know they lose state aid when they are absent. But on the other hand, look at all the state aid they have gotten from all my kids going to school all these years....:)

If I wasn't allowed to keep the kids home as much as I have, I don't think I would send them to school at all.

I hope that answers the question.

And on to other kids have enjoyed their vacation. It is cold out, snowy yesterday, sunny today. It should warm up a bit today though. I have to go work at the baseball stadium today for a double header. It will be very busy there, and I hate to leave the kids, but I have some babysitters here and Paul will watch them this evening. I also like going because I am working with Emily and Joseph and lots of my friends.

Tomorrow, I am taking the kids to Kids' Camp at church, for the day. They get to play together and do activities, and I get to talk to the other parents.

I am excited about Easter! I am filling baskets for 14 of my kids (Sorry Ben! Ashley can fill you one this year!), and Sam of course can't have any "contraband" while in Basic Training. Plus, three baskets for three friends from church who are staying in the area, Stevie and Adrian and Andrew. Em doesn't want any candy, well, she conceded, just a few I am filling a bowl for her to share with Abigail and Mali. I LOVE filling the Easter baskets. Simply love it. We are having our Easter dinner on Saturday, our baskets on Saturday morning, because there is a baseball game on Easter Sunday. I figure one day is the same as another, basically, so why not sign up to work the baseball game, since I know lots of others won't be so thrilled to work on Easter....

We have a spiral sliced ham from Target. They had $10 off if you spent $50 on food, not too shabby. I have red potatoes, and veggies, and the makings for a chocolate pie with chocolate graham cracker crust, and a coconut cream pie. Oh, I need my jaw wired shut for the next week! I WILL behave.

And now, I have to get my daily letter to Samuel written....