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, September 2, 2014

and school begins, again....

Today is the first day of school here in our rural district. Three of my kids got on that bus, Margaret 17 is a senior, Evelyn 15 is a freshman, and Miss Sonja K. is in 8th grade. (I noticed the three going to school are the curly haired girls...and we did mention this morning that they are the snippy ones, the three who rub each other the wrong way the most....)

Later I will take a picture of the five kids who are homeschooling, for their first day. We are planning a trip to the library. Right now, Jon is taking a shower and the princesses are writing down some spelling words. They wrote me five facts and ten opinions about our camping trip, and I simply chose the misspelled words and made a list. I have ordered comprehensive curriculum books for them, but they haven't arrived yet.

Lake Ontario in the evening. See the moon? It was breathtaking....

The lifeguards were gone for the these three youngest children of mine enjoyed the chair. They took turns jumping into the pile of sand in front of it.

It was chilly there on Sunday, but the kids didn't mind.

so this wasn't exactly wilderness camping:)

We took a little field trip to Sackets Harbor to see the battlefield from the war of 1812.

Unknown soldiers from that war. It did make me cry.

We went to the visitor's center.... Miss Charlotte Claire. It's kind of interesting for me when one of them forgets their jacket, and Jon offers his. They had nice little matching jackets:) We had a Shoe Emergency while camping. First, we started off down the road and Char realized about five miles in that she hadn't brought any shoes at all. So, we turned around and went home. She grabbed Cam's extra sneakers, an umbrella, and her 98 cent flip flops from the beginning of summer. Well, they broke, those flip flops. We used the plastic tag from the bread to hold the toe thingy on to the ripped part of the sole, but they were goners. So, a trip into the small city up north, to Target. Now, going to Target with Paul is not exactly fun. We went straight back to the shoe department, found some nice comfy sandals for half price, the to the register we went. He was very patient, given that girls in a shoe department take forever and a day, and of course Camille automatically needed new ones too, in her mind. She didn't get any, and took it quite well.

Camille would have stayed in the rocking chair for an hour and read the books, but the rest of us wanted to move on.

Kathryn and Suzanne want to go to the library now. I don't. I want to sit here and write. I got up at 6:18, dawdled around talking to the school kids, then went for my walk. I would like some quiet time to write, but it isn't happening today. Char is sitting at the table with Kap and Suze and Jon, and they were talking about war. Char said that kids should be allowed to put on astronaut suits and jump off the earth to another planet if war started. um, gravity Char? Oh yeah, she said.

Jon is talking about the invisibility power now. Harry Potter is a favorite here.

Jon is now explaining to Charlotte Claire about StarWars, and how it is in a galaxy far far away. Kap just found out that Annikin is Darth Vader:) Oh, the nerdiness!

Monday, September 1, 2014

fun fun fun

Our little family at the was SO weird to camp with only three kids! Instead of feeding a small army, we made meals for five!

Paul even relaxed.

Tomorrow is the first day of I have to talk to several kids...goodbye for now.

Friday, August 29, 2014


Not really. This is Emily's throwback Thursday pic.

It is still August, still summer, and it's Friday!

First of all, the baseball game was fun. If I could just step out of my old achy body, with the throbbing knees and oh, my feet by the end of the night of standing on that cement floor....but I can't. I go and fund raise, and yes, suffer in my body for it, but I can't explain how much fun it is. Last evening, I really got to know Anna. I have known her since she was born, but seriously, what 49 year old is friends with a 16 year old girl? I worked with her 21 year old sister too, and when she said something really funny at the end of the night, we just about fell on the floor laughing. Yes, it was busy and crazy and at times a bit challenging to keep up, but I am thankful that my life is never lonely or boring!

We went to the drive-through on the way home for some iced coffees, and don't kill me Marg, but...oh dear, she didn't pull up close enough to the window, and had to get out to pay and to take the drinks. It was SO funny. The boy working there was trying not to laugh, but he was so nice, he reassured Margaret that it happens a lot. um, no, I don't really think so, but it was nice of him to say so.

I talked to my Army son Samuel this morning on the phone. He really likes his training. He went on a ten mile ruck yesterday. He gets to run around the capital and the memorials, and loves it. He is wise for his years, he reminded me that I am very lucky to get to go to the baseball games, and to the college football and basketball games...that that's where the fun is, and that he misses it so much. He says part of missing home is missing being a part of all that stuff. Even though we don't go to the games to sit and watch, but to prepare and serve food and run registers, and to clean up afterward. It really is in the attitude.

Today we are going camping, and I still have to get into that packing groove. I have added things to the pile, like hot cocoa mix and teabags, coffee and a jar of peanut butter, and a bag of marshmallows. I haven't decided for sure what our meals will be, and I know I need a few things from the store. Sometimes I wish the Organization Fairy would come along and wave her wand at me, causing my scattered thoughts to come together and make some sense.

This morning I was thinking about all the things that have happened in my life since I started writing this blog. I have lost two babies (miscarriages), my brother killed himself, one of my sons joined the Army,got married, deployed to Afghanistan, came home and had a rough time but survived it and now has a baby girl. Four of my kids graduated from nursing school and now all have good jobs as RN's. We replaced our swimming pool all by ourselves, said goodbye to Champ the dog and Rosie the bad dog, one stillborn puppy, got a few kitties, lost a few kitties, gall bladder surgery, Aaron's surgery for his depressed sternum, Abigail's knee surgery, a few broken arms and broken legs, Paul's travels to Ireland, India, Germany, France, and Louisiana, our trips to Jamaica and Dominican Republic, Florida, Georgia, Virginia, my trip to Seattle Washington, Paul's coronary ablation, and countless other little every day trials, dilemmas, and joys, sleepless nights, and tired days.

What is my point? Each thing seems so big when it happens. Then it passes. What do I get out of it? In each and every thing, I get to choose. I can say yes, or no, to anxiety and worry. I can choose to trust God. I can get mad, angry, bitter. I can blame others, give in to accusing thoughts toward my husband or friends. Day in, day out, I get to choose. Here are some verses that I think of often...

"If you obey the voice of the Lord your God, to keep His commandments and His statutes which are written in the Book of the Law, and if you turn to the Lord your God with all your hear and with all your soul. For this commandment which I command you today is NOT too mysterious for you, nor too far off....It is not in heaven, that you should say, 'Who shall ascend into heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?', Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, 'Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?' But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it. See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgements, that you may live and multiply; and the Lord your God will bless you in the land which you possess. But if your heart turns away so that you do not hear, and are drawn away, and worship other gods and serve them, I announce to you today that you shall surely perish; you shall not prolong your days in the land which you cross over the Jordan to go in and possess. I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life,that both you and your descendants may live...that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give to them." (Deuteronomy 30, verses 10 -20)

I know, that's a lot of bible, right there. But it's so relevant! So living and true! Choose life!

Giving your life to God is not hard and heavy and full of rules and restrictions. On the contrary, it's a life of freedom!

And I am done preaching for now. I have to get packing....:)

Thursday, August 28, 2014

army son

Samuel James....isn't he handsome?

He's 19 years old now, all grown up, yet...still so sincere and innocent. He has passed his 60 minute and 90 minute standing still things...(I don't know the official term for standing there without looking to the right nor the left while the heat is turned up, the lights turned out then on again, ect. But he passed them.) He passed the rifle manual, next week is marching, then uniform inspection.

Being in the Old Guard is like being in summer camp for people obsessed with details. Sam reminds me that he's infantry first, and Old Guard second. Protecting Washington, D.C., and his Army base are the most important, but he certainly is enjoying his training so far.

He has been a little disappointed in his fellow man, though. One would think that no one would steal $70 from his wallet among such honorable soldiers, but someone did. I think he is more sad about it than he is mad that he lost money.

He found out this afternoon that he could have had a weekend pass and left the base for four days, but it's too late now. What??! He wanted so badly to be at the youth conference this weekend at church. But, he said, it happened for a reason, and there's no use getting upset about it.

Now, that's the best thing about Sam! With an attitude like that, he will have God's blessing over his life....

ah summer, please stay with us for a while....

This morning, I woke up with a good thought: be thankful. I know, I know, it's a common saying. But when you think about it, it's our nature to think about what we want, what we may get in the future, and perhaps even how unfair it is that others have what we perceive to be more, than we have.

So I woke up some teenagers and told them about this, encouraged them to count their blessings. It's easy to see that the Israelites were foolish to complain when they were brought out of bondage...they had bread from heaven to eat! But they wanted meat! They complained and God hated it! Just think how much more He hates it when we're unthankful and complaining.

I woke up those teenagers not just to give them my thankfulness spiel, but to take them to visit Grandma, who wasn't home. We did go to the playground though, and to get ice cream.

Sometimes I wake up during the night and think of interesting things to write, then forget them when I am actually sitting here with the computer.

I have to leave to go to the baseball game in a few hours. Mirielle, Margaret, and Joseph are working, too. It's not really hard to work, standing on the cement floor at the chicken stand is hard on my knees, and my feet start hurting, but Thursday is Dollar Beer Night (dollar hot dogs, too), and when it's really busy, I don't notice the pain. The other thing is that it's really fun. I like talking to customers, and working with my friends (and my kids). (We volunteer for our church, it's not great money, but it's something)

We are going camping tomorrow! The piles on the kitchen table are growing! When we went a few weeks ago, I forgot a spatula. I wonder what I'll forget this time. Going with little kids is a whole different ballgame than having teenagers and older kids along. Obviously the teenagers, even the good ones, will balk at the things younger kids delight in. They get antsy, and sometimes complain about how boring everything is. Things that were wonderful when they were little get a little lame. But once they get past the teenager-y stage, in their twenties, they seem to realize the importance of enjoying things for the benefit of the littler ones, and they possibly know that life is going by fast, and start to re-enjoy the little things.

At any rate, Paul and I are taking only Jonathan 10, Charlotte Claire 8, and Camille 6. We haven't gone camping with only three kids since...well, since we only had three kids! And back then, those oldest three were 4 and under. So this weekend sounds....relaxing.

And for my disclaimer: I would certainly take another baby if God chose to bless me with one, or if anyone had one they didn't want. I am not relieved to be out of that stage, although it is more relaxing and much much less work. But, I would take the work and the babies anyday!

So we are taking the bikes, and hopefully it won't rain. We'll have campfires and the younger kids will love having all the attention. I am looking forward to having some nice time with Paul, too, especially because he is going to France again next week.

Yesterday I went shopping all by my lonesome. The little girls were totally engrossed in playing dollhouse. Evelyn was going to go with me but she had a wicked headache. I told the girls it was only grocery shopping, so none really wanted to go. I mean, no Target? Nah, not worth it. So off I went...the dollar store, where I got cinnamon raisin bread for a buck, and four packs of Greek yogurt too. Some Ghiardelli chocolates and some six packs of big soft pretzels, and I headed to BigLots. I bought Balance Bars and half price chips and cookies for camping, shampoo and conditioner, and a bag of dog food. Then to Aldi for chocolate, eggs, half and half, milk, apples, bananas. Another grocery store for chicken breast, pretzels, more apples, detergent, bleach, paper plates for camping. Ahh, then home. Going by myself is fun, in a way. I can dawdle without anyone telling me to hurry, I can put five of something in the cart without hearing, "Really, Mom?!", and I can go to another store, and another, without resistance. I made friends with some old people. I gestured for them to get in front of me in line, and when they politely declined, I insisted and told them I had a babysitter at home and was good to be gone for a while and was in no hurry. They laughed and joked that I wanted to be gone as long as possible....

I feel sorry for old people sometimes, when out shopping. I think stores should have benches here and there for them to rest on. Not if they are like Paul's mom, but regular old people:)

So much for writing today...I give up. Teenagers are snacking, Evelyn wants to place an Amazon order, there are questions and giggles and silliness and just general mayhem. And now Suri is standing here looking at me. She cannot talk, but she can give me The Stare. It means to pet her, or let her out, or feed her. She is very insistent, and if I ignore her, she puts her paw on me. Duke would whine, not Suri. She just silently insists I figure out what she wants. Good thing she's cute.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

really excited!!!!

Okay, taking the plunge into homeschooling five of my kids has been exhilarating yet terrifying. Well, perhaps not exactly TERRIFYING, but a bit scary. I mean, what if I don't teach them enough? What if they fail their end of year exams? What if I wreck their entire lives?

I am sort of kidding, but being a mom is scary enough sometimes. These blessings called children have been placed in my care. To raise them up into responsible citizens, able to make their own way in the world is daunting. To labor to instill values in them, to help them to fear God and keep His commandments, to follow Jesus and live a clean victorious life...that is my whole heart's desire for them. Worldly success is good, but if they will live those faithful lives, that is beyond magnificent.

Anyway, here we are, school starting next week, and me being tempted to think, "What was I thinking!? I can't do this!"

So, I did what any freaked out mom would do, I went shopping! I scrolled through Amazon, and placed an order. (I haven't actually completed the order yet, Jon knows the password and he's still sleeping:))

I have a basic idea of what I want to teach them, but having more books specific to grade level will help.

Okay, so Duke behaved last night. He didn't bark or howl a single time. Paul however, was really bad. His allergies kicked in big time, and he sniffed and sniffled for a huge section of the night. I hate when I wake up and can't get back to sleep, but when he's tossing and turning too, ugh. Oh, the trials of life, ha. Anyway, this morning at 7: ish, I hear the school bus pull up, and honk a few times. I look out the window, and sure enough, there is the bus. What? Did I sleep for a whole week? Did I get the dates totally mixed up? Three of my kids are getting on that bus this year, but I thought school started next week. hmmm. Then Evelyn came in to my room and told me, duh Mom, there's high school orientation this morning. That's why the bus came, but she wasn't going on the bus, she wanted a ride instead. Okay, good. I didn't sleep for a week or get seriously mixed up with dates.

And, I got up and drove Miss Ev to school, then came home and took my walk.

Today I have to do some grocery shopping. I am not complaining, but food prices just keep going up. The cheap food is the most unhealthy, too, it seems. I like to feed the kids good stuff, like chicken and veggies and a little brown rice on the side, which is what we had last night. They seriously like ramen noodles, and boxed mac and cheese, which in my humble opinion, isn't even food. I get it for them sometimes for summer lunches, but blah. We don't eat much pasta any more, or even much bread. I like the sprouted grain bread, which is like $5 a loaf....the cinnamon raisin Ezekial bread, toasted with butter, yum.

Anyway, I like to have fresh fruit and we are almost out. We do have lots of green beans from the garden in our freezer, :)

I bought a new toothbrush last week, which I stuck in my purse. It is sticking out. Charlotte Claire said I should just leave it in there, in case we ever go to Florida again.

I talked to Benjamin today. He is in the Army and is stationed near Seattle Washington, at Ft. Lewis-McChord. He and his wife and little Anya, the sole grand child, are probably staying out there when he gets out of the Army. He is training for an apprenticeship in HVAC (heating, air conditoning), and the job market is good there, as is the weather, and they have made a few friends there. Wah for me. But they are happy there, I guess, and it's obviously their choice. There are no words to express how much I would like to be part of little Anya's life, not just a long-distance Grandma, but there's not much I can do about it. I can't explain it properly, but it almost hurts to see pictures and videos of that darling little girl.

She is a sweetie pie.

My nocturnal teenagers are all still sleeping. The little girls have had breakfast, and are deeply into playing dollhouse. The dogs are sleeping, and the house is quiet. I have to leave to pick up Evelyn soon, and switch laundry.

Tomorrow I am working at the baseball game, and on Friday we are going camping for the weekend. Our kitchen table reflects that I have started making camping piles. :)

Monday, August 25, 2014

adding to the general mayhem....

but first, a lovely pic of my Margaret and me, working the baseball game the other night...

Jon's friend gave him the most annoying toy, which also fascinates the kids. It is a miniature arcade-style claw machine that only works with carnival music. It has one volume: loud. Sonja is playing it right now. The little ones are in their suits, ready for our excursion. I have made phone calls today, and feel very accomplished. I got up and did dishes, swept floors, washed clothes and towels.

Duke was bad again last night and it's a good thing I don't have the superpower to vaporize dogs, or he would be just a fine mist right now. No, I love him, but oh dear. He howls in the night to go out. It's not his fault that I can't get back in bed and fall directly back into dreamland, but lie there thinking about all the things that I have to do, want to do, want to do better, and don't want to do. It seems like he is being evil, barking again right as I start to drift off....but he just wants to go out again. He wants to trot down the street to see his girl dog. The second time he barked, I just came out to tell him to shut up. He did. The third time, I was still awake, and Jon let him out without his leash, before I had a chance...rrr. So, I got dressed and grabbed the leash, and set off down the road just as the sun came up.

I took a little morning nap, but am so tired.

I just talked to the septic tank guy about getting the system inspected. The county mandates it, for our own good. It IS good for the local businesses though. Anyway. I emailed the window company about replacing some of these windows, and called the local garage about repairing one of the tires for the big van, so we can get rid of it.

Oh the fun. Now it's time to pack some lunch for our outing. It is sunny and warm and gorgeous out, and I am thankful. In a strange way, I am thankful for my sleeplessness last night too. It gives me time to think about people and pray for them, and pray for myself. I realized last night that I am really good at knowing that all things work together for the good for everyone else, but when things happen that rile me...

So...God is good.