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

Monday, June 29, 2015

happy monday, better family picture...and our summer bucket list

So here we are, all home from vacation...reality is hitting me. Responsibilities...blah. I have end-of-the-year reports and testing grades due, and in just a few short weeks, my intent-to-homeschool notices will be due for next year. Duke's ear isn't looking good, and we just aren't comfy with having his ear removed...he's ten years old. He's limpy and lumpy and it breaks my heart, but having such a surgery on an old dog just doesn't make sense. But trying saying that out loud at the vet's office without feeling like a total cheapskate dog hater. I told Paul I want him to come with me to Duke's next appointment, so we can make a decision together. I mean, I don't want to make a decision based on what the vet thinks of me...or what I perceive the vet thinks.

Then there are the cupcakes. Always the cupcakes. My daughter Emily bought a catering company, to do fundraising for our church. It has always been one of her dreams, but she is a full-time registered nurse on a busy floor in a hospital in the city, plus she is a college student, taking classes on her way to be a nurse practitioner, and has also been teaching a class of nursing This new business is taking off at the same time, and wow.

Anyhoo. This weekend, on July 4th, we are catering a family barbecue. I am making the cupcakes and chocolate chip cookies. Sounds easy. Well. The lemon ones alone take hours. I am sort of excited about it, but there is always the worry that they will flop or tip over in the car or burn or or or. Wake me up when it's over.

Paul is leaving for a work trip to I think Massachusetts on Sunday.

So...we do sort of have a bucket list for the summer....

1. Get the pool clear again. We came home from vacation to a green pool. wah.

2. Beach! Lots of times!

3. Go to the amusement park in the Adirondacks! I have five free tickets for homeschooling, and do not want them to go to waste. I just have to figure out who is going, and if we'll camp up there, or get a hotel room for the night, if Paul can go (I want to go during the week when the lines are shorter).

4. Take the kids to the park to ride bikes and scooters.

5. Sell stuff on ebay and make extra money for...
a. Evelyn and Kathryn's trip to Norway with Mirielle in August.
b. Jon, Char, Cam, and my trip to Washington state in September.
c. Our trip to the amusement park.

6. Make lesson plans for next school year.

7. Take walks!

8. Pick blueberries, freeze some.

9. Library. Library. Library.

And that's all I can think of right now...we are going to the library this fine rainy Monday morning...there are stacks of books to return. And, we are almost out of dogfood and coconut oil, so a stop at BJ's is in the picture.

I have a mammogram next week, blah, but family history and all that...I am also bummed about my lack of weight loss during isn't fair. I did not have a single piece of candy, nor a chip, nor a can of beer. No marshmallows...have you ever sat around a fire and not had a roasted marshmallow? I did. No marshmallows. All toasted and ooohy-gooy...not a taste. I behaved myself, but I guess I had a few too many nuts, or cherries, or maybe just didn't exercise as much as I thought I did. I gained four pounds, while Joseph, who had everything he wanted, lost four pounds. I seriously thought I would come home, step on the scale, and voila! Pay off for all the denying myself! But no! Oh well. I think I'm broken.

Ah well, off to the library.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

and, we're home...!

All sixteen kids, and Ben's wife Ashley with our little granddaughter Anya. When the kids were little and I set the table night after night for SO didn't seem possible that some day it would be so absolutely glorious to just have everyone all together for a few days. We celebrated my 50th birthday, even though I am still 49 for a few weeks. Mali made me a watermelon cake...huge round slices of watermelon with whipped cream, berries, and topped with chopped walnuts. Marge bought me a coffee mug, Abigail got me a scrub brush that holds dish detergent in the handle, AND lots of new forks! And the best thing...they promised to get the hot tub fixed for me.

The very best thing was having them all there though.

No one leaving in the evenings for meetings, and long leisurely days spent tanning on the dock, and jumping in the clear cold water to cool off. They canoed and kayaked and row-boated. We went on a hike through the woods to find a waterfalls. We had coffee on the screen porch in the mornings...I slept like a log, and woke up early...brewed the coffee, and visited with whoever else was up, usually Mirielle. Mirielle made some fabulous breakfasts, since she was up so early the days she was there...

Miss Emily...all relaxed.

The birthday cake...there were two of them. yum.

Evelyn Joy in the kitchen at the cabin...

Suzanne caught a fish!

Lucky Cam lost a tooth, and it turns out there are lots of tooth fairies in the Adirondacks, aka older siblings.

One of my favorite things about this vacation was seeing Paul relax and enjoy himself so much!

Sweet little Anya, our granddaughter.

Abigail, Jon, and Miss Char...she had a huge ball of mud from our hike..she called it elephant poop.

Sam and Suze...relaxing.


Happy me!

Only a few more weeks 'til 50! I used to think fifty was OLD. Now I know different.

Kap and Ev and Sonja K. and Char and Suze and Cam and Ab...

And with me...the last night at the camp...only seven daughters left with Paul and me.

We had too much fun. Then the boys had to go back to their Washingtons...Ben flew out west yesterday morning...when I said goodbye to him from the cabin the other night, my eyes filled with tears that wouldn't stop overflowing...Sam was sitting next to me on the couch...he put his arm around me and patted my arm. Because he was feeling it too. He hadn't been with Benjamin in two years. And the days flew by too quickly...goodbyes aren't fun.

Then this fine morning while it was dark and rainy, at four o'clock, I left with Samuel to go to his Washington....D.C. wah.

All in vacation ever.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

my happy place....

Grilling burgers on the deck...I realized last evening that I absolutely love our deck. It's old and splintery, and our patio furniture consists of those plastic chairs, one glass topped table, and a nice lounge chair from the second hand store, which we play musical chairs with. But we have a grill that works, and we get the sunshine out there all day...shade in the afternoon and evening. We have a fire pit out there too. Summertime is just plain sweet...

My very own granddaughter in my very own minivan! She was exhausted from her overnight travels from Washington state, although her mama and daddy said she was a good little traveler. She was headed to her other grandparents' house to catch up on some sleep. We won't see them until Monday...

And:!! Samuel James is home, on leave from the Army! Bad mom award, I fell asleep before he got home, fully intending on coming out to say hello..oops. So I took this nice pic of his backpack..

He's up and the day is starting...bye for now.

Friday, June 19, 2015

never a dull moment...ever...

Yesterday was a whirlwind of...well, I'll just make a scattered list.

1. I spend a good part of Wednesday cleaning and packing, so Thursday was shop-for-the-camp-trip day. Kathryn accompanied me, because she wanted to stop at the thrift store to find a certain type of baseball cap. So. Dollar store, BigLots (shampoo, insect repellent, pumpkin seeds, undies...)BJ's, where Kathryn talked me into buying a huge bag of Nerds and Laffy Taffy. She said, "Just imagine going out in the kayak, and sitting on the lake, and eating candy."

2. We then went to Aldi for cashews (the salt and pepper cashews are so good!), raspberries, eggs, avocados, an air mattress because the cabin sleeps 12!, ha. We already have a few here, too.

3. While in Aldi, the vet called my house, so Margaret called me, and gave me the message. Apparently it's not conclusive that Duke's ear is cancerous, but it can't be ruled out. Vet wants to keep him on the antibiotic, keep fleas under control, and see what happens...if ear continues to bother, perhaps remove it. I have to call her back, she didn't pick up when I called when I got home...

4. But my head wasn't totally in the Duke Game, because...when I got home laden with all sorts of things to be frozen, refrigerated, packed...Evelyn mentioned how much her foot hurt. She had stepped on a tack the day before...and uh-oh, there was a red line leading from the now swollen spot on the bottom of her foot, across the foot, and up to the ankle. I am no doctor, but I know that red lines going up limbs are dangerous, so a call to the pediatrician...and yeah, bring her right in.

5. So...she has a nice infection going on, Dr. cultured it to make sure the meds he prescribed would cover whatever germ she picked up.

6. While paying for the antibiotic in Walmart, Mali called me, all upset...she had been having cramps and was sent to the hospital to be checked out...oh dear. She still has like nine weeks left...

7. Home...again. I was SO stressed out, trying to take things right, but just frazzled to the bone. Mali texted finally and said she was okay, just infection. Wow...Duke, Evelyn, Mali.

8. After making dinner of hot sausage on the grill and steamed broccoli, I went out to the pool...all by myself. It was just what the dr. ordered. I swam and floated and sorted my thoughts. Oh, it was nice.

9. My lab results came in, and they're not too shabby! My fasting glucose was 90, A1C: 5.5 , triglycerides 53, "good" cholesterol 82, total cholesterol 191, and normal readings for thyroid. And, I lost another pound, for a grand total of ten pounds now since starting this new thing back at the end of April.

10. I woke up at five this morning, bright eyed and bushy tailed...but that didn't last long. I tossed and turned and thought about things...every time I got even close to falling back to sleep, I would think...hmm, I need to pack "D" batteries for the air mattress pump. Or, is four pounds of butter enough for a whole week? Do we have enough dog food? Garbage bags, we need to pack some of those. I need to renew my library books.

11. So here I am. I swept the floors and made a pot of coffee...I know I should do more cleaning, one would never believe how clean it was in here the day before yesterday.

12. We have to leave in just an hour to pick Benjamin and Ashley and little Anya up from the airport!!! Yeah, I should be doing more work. I really should. I mean, I opened the microwave, and if I was at someone else's house and their microwave was that dirty, yuck. I try to keep it clean, needs to be done. Yet here I sit. I know I have some kids who would LOVE to help instead of sleeping in on this cloudy morning.

And...there is bedding to wash...

Thursday, June 18, 2015

just another day...not!!!

I will not take one single day of my life for granted. No sir. Today, I am going to the grocery store...well, like three different ones. We need supplies for our week at the camp. Now, what mother wouldn't be jumping up and down with happiness about the prospect of having ALL SIXTEEN KIDS together at the SAME TIME. Well, I can't actually jump anymore, but I hope to some day...between the arthritis in the knees and well, the little tummy I sport...okay, big tummy...I can't get airborne anymore.

But my SPIRIT is jumping up and down.

Tomorrow, I am picking Benjamin and Ashley and granddaughter Anya up from the airport, from Washington state. The plan was to also pick up Samuel (from Washington D.C.), and hour later, but his flight is at 11:00 PM, not AM. oops. But Paul has taken tomorrow off from work, and is going to the airport with me:)

I have packed my clothes, Jonathan's clothes, and the princesses things for the camp. There are boxes filled with essentials like olive oil and rice and cans of soup for a rainy day, marshmallows and graham crackers and chocolate bars, shampoo and insect repellent and microwave popcorn, dishwashing liquid and towels and washcloths and sheets. I feel like Mrs. Potato head in the Toy Story movie, when she kept shoving more stuff into Mr. Potato head.

Towels...I keep washing them to pack for the trip, and they keep using them for going in the pool. Is there ever ever going to be enough towels here?

I am also happy today because the scale was kind to me. I have now lost 8 pounds in seven weeks. That's not the speed I was hoping for, but at least it's moving downward, and for someone my this stage of life, I'll take it.

Here's the thing about this diet I'm on:

I am rarely hungry. I drink my coffee in the morning with coconut oil and MCT oil...then don't breakfast until around noon...then I usually have a few eggs, some veggies...or perhaps just nuts and berries.

I eat meat with lots of veggies for dinner every night, and get unbelievably full...I used to NEVER get full.

After dinner, I just don't eat...if I want something, I'll have Chai tea.

I no longer eat sugar. At all. Not even when Jonathan made chocolate chip cookies yesterday, all by himself. (he bagged some up for Ben and Ashley and for Sam:))

Being free from sugar is amazing. I am no longer it's slave. I still am attracted to baked goods and ice cream, but it doesn't have that pull anymore. I tell myself that I have lived for a few months without it, I don't need to have any now.

Popcorn was the hardest thing to give up. I now have it purposely once a week or so, to "carb up", and honestly, although it's bothers my stomach now.

I have had dark chocolate five times in these last few months, only one bite, five times. It was enough, when previously, I had to eat square after square, as if reassuring myself that yes, it was good. Now I find it overly sweet, and a little bite is enough.

Sometimes I put unsweetened cocoa in my coffee or tea, put it in the blender with heavy cream or half and half, and a little bit of coconut oil....yum!

My hot flashes have not returned.

My clothes fit better, I have lost a little of that annoying muffin top, not nearly enough of it yet, but some of it.

Overall, I am happy with my progress. I have to remember to take my vitamins and minerals, and to drink lots of water, and to eat enough veggies. But I am satisfied with this way of eating, because my blood sugar no longer dips and I feel more steady...using fat for fuel.

Macadamia nuts are SO GOOD! They are also so expensive. I bought a big bag of them at BJ's, and tried to keep them a little hidden...that's hard for me, I want to give my kids all good things, but...I reason that I don't eat the ice cream or the popsicles or the chips, so I can have a little treat. And don't blame me if I presented them as "something for Mommy that you guys probably wouldn't like."

Pistachio nuts are also wonderful.

Cherries are in stores now, from Washington state....oh heavenly yum. I could eat the whole bag because they taste so good, but I don't. So I still need self-control, and I still need to deny myself. Life will always be like that for someone like me.

The day is starting, kids are waking up. Sonja left on the bus for her very last day of school this morning. Evelyn finished up yesterday. No more pencils, no more more teachers' dirty looks.

And, I have places to go and things to do....

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

happiness, sadness, all mixed up....

Is it possible to be exuberantly happy in the midst of feeling sad about something? I feel disloyal to Duke to be so excited, but: we bought plane tickets! Jonathan and I have been saving up to go out to Washington state to visit Ben and Ashley and little Anya...and since Paul has frequent flier miles, we were able to get tickets for Char and Cam too!!!! They don't even know yet, they are still sleeping. Jon made me promise that he could be the one to tell them. None of these younger ones has flown before, so it will be quite an adventure...I went from flying out there alone last December, to flying with three kids this September!

Paul isn't sure of his exact schedule for September yet, other than he will be in Norway for part of it. Hopefully he'll figure things out and get a ticket and join us.

Ben and Ashley: we are invading! But only for six days. It will seem like a whirlwind for a few days, then we'll be gone, and Anya will be looking for the kids. It's nice that they will get to play together, my little ones love the littler ones. And I maintain that if my grandchild is going to live on the other side of the country, I am still going to see her! hmph.

So you see, happy here, but bummed about Duke. What if his biopsy comes back that it's not cancer at all? The vet wants to remove his ear if that's the case, doing chest x-rays first to make sure his lungs are clear, ect. Um...I don't really think this is going to happen. Duke is such an old man dog. He won't like to have all this done, he's old and wah. It's mean not to do it, but it's kind of mean to do it, too. And of course cha-ching.

I need to clear my head. So much swirling's one of those weeks when I wish I wasn't the mom, just one of the kids, responsible only for packing a backpack for myself...but alas, I am the one who has to bring the coffee filters and matches and aluminum foil, the extra sheets and barbecue sauce and the can opener.

We have things starting to stack up on the kitchen table...

Then this morning, I realized that Ben and Ashley and Anya and Samuel are going to be here this Friday! That means I have to clean the house, too! dang it.

Packing and cleaning...and Evelyn has New York state regents tests today, which she needs rides to and from...tomorrow, too. I have to do some grocery shopping for the camping trip...

I have to pack clothes for myself, Jon, Char, and Camille.

But first I have to wash clothes. The hampers are rather full.

I have to wash towels first. Where do they all go?

Sometimes I wish I was one of those each-kid-has-a-towel-and-a-hook kind of moms, with the color coded drinking cups and individual storage cubbies....

All those ideas to make a mom's life easier, I can't seem to manage, partly because I am vehemently opposed to raising my huge flock of kids as if we live in an institution instead of a home. And what if they don't LIKE using a green cup every stinkin' day of their childhood? I know I like a variety when choosing what to drink out of. I like my Corelle coffee mugs, but not the same one every day!

Some moms deal with the Shoe Problem by restricting the number of pairs each kid can have. My little girls are shoe-aholics. You can get them all ready to go someplace in a jiffy, but you had better plan some shoe choosing time. Flip flops, sandals, sneakers, or dressy shoes? Rainboots or leather boots or warm boots or maybe the loafers?

Anyway. I have a busy week, but the fact is, I am going to see all of my kids together in a few days!!!!!

And the fact is, I can't wait. Ben, for instance, has turned out to be the most amazing guy! He is funny and charming and quick-witted and humble and responsible and respectful and thankful...and this is a boy who gave us the biggest headaches for a few years there! Oh, he was a handful. I worried more about him! And I mean serious worry. The wrong friends, the wrong attitude, always a day late and and a dollar short. Crashed cars and mysterious transactions...someone really just GAVE you a car stereo? I do credit both God and Ashley for turning my boy around. When he met Ashley, he wanted to be a better man, he had something to straighten himself out for. As for God, He never left Ben alone. He seemed to know Ben needed trials, and He also did miracles in his life...the boat accident and the four-wheel accident (Ben almost died. He had an infection in his leg from the tree branch that stuck in his leg, and it moved up so fast, the surgeon said they were afraid they were going to lose him. 15 years old.) He ran a red light one time while delivering pizzas...totaled the car. So to say I am thankful for the way Ben has turned out is like the biggest understatement ever.

Anyway, the busier I am, the more likely I am to go off on tangents because I think it is a welcome distraction from the stuff I have to take care of. When I get really overwhelmed with the little details of life, I think longingly of sitting here in my comfy chair and writing, because it's what relaxes me.

Oh, btw, taking Duke to the vet was humiliating. He had fleas, which I knew. We have flea treatment drops, but always try to wait to apply in the evening so no one pets them and gets it on their hands, but kept forgetting. Duke has a bare patch on his hind quarters which has greatly improved since I started giving him a teaspoon of coconut oil every day. His nails are too long, and with the huge lump on his paw...the vet was kind, but you know when you are really aware that someone think's you're stupid? The way she explained the biopsy was like she was talking to a kindergartner. I did get some expensive flea treatment from the vet, and put on both dogs....'s another tangent. I was at the grocery store the other day all by myself. While chatting with the cashier, she was visited by her baby brother, who was all grown up and taller than she. It led to talking about her brothers and how much they eat, and I told her I know a little about that, which led to me telling her how many kids I have at home to feed....which led to a conversation about cost and volume of food...and I said, "I like to feed them healthy food, too, which is expensive. We don't just eat big pots of pasta." As I said the word "pasta", I happened to glance at the pile of food belonging to the lady behind me...a stack of boxes of pasta. I looked at her, she looked at me, and looked away. I seriously was not insulting her, I had no idea she was behind me buying pasta. And it was just an example I used, because some people assume we just eat huge casseroles and pasta. oops.

I don't like to hurt people's feelings or step on their toes, I go out of my way to be nice, and oops.

All right, enough nonsense for now. The girls are awake now, and Jonathan has told them about the trip. They are pretty excited. Davian is here, and wants to go too.:)

Monday, June 15, 2015

mind if I cry a little?

Things aren't looking so grand for Duke...and I need to cry about it. His ear...I thought it was just irritated...the vet thinks it's cancer. Duke has a few other lumps, which he had when we got him. Benign fatty tumors are common in labs, and he has an ugly one on his paw. The vet is pretty sure Duke has a cancerous tumor on his ear. His lymph nodes are swollen. The ear is also infected, so Duke is on antibiotics. He is too smart, it took several pieces of bologna with the pill hidden in it, I finally had to tip his stubborn beak into the air to get him not to spit out that pill.

The vet took a tissue sample to send in to the lab....she said that if it isn't cancer, the ear will have to come off. Most of the ear. Now, I don't know about you, but we don't have tons of money floating around to spend on dog surgery. It if IS cancer, we obviously wouldn't do the procedure...I mean, Duke is almost ten. He has lost weight, and has been hobbling around since we got him, but worse now.

The whole thing is just heartbreaking. I need to go cry.