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, November 20, 2014

in which she triumphs over fear and books that flight to washington!!!!

Or more accurately, her longing to see her granddaughter trumps the anxiety of travelling alone. I am still terra-miff-ied, but it will be worth it. And I do feel liberated, in a small way...I can do this!

Now, as I have taken plenty of trips with Emily and my other older kids, as well as with Paul, I do know a little bit about traveling. But, I am more of a follower than a leader, and if someone else is willing to take the helm, I am not there all second guessing them, nope, I am just letting them figure it out. I'm like that in a kitchen, too. Just tell me what to do. But the interesting thing is, when I HAVE to be the boss, I can do it. I can figure out what needs to be done and how to do it, but hey, if someone else is in charge, I'll just do what I'm told.

Anyway. I am going to Seattle, Washington! One son (Sam) in Washington D.C. and the other (Ben) on the west coast...

I leave on the 6th of December.

I think I have figured out what I would do with my money if I won the lottery. I would travel. I love seeing new places, and planning trips. I have kids who would LOVE to fly out and see Anya, too, but....

Samuel, who is in D.C., Army, Old Guard, cannot come home for either Thanksgiving or Christmas. He is on one of the bases that keeps a full group of soldiers at all times.

I just found out today that he can't come for Thanksgiving. So of course I was bemoaning that fact to the cashier in the grocery store, to which she replied, "you should go see him instead." I said, "We can't, there are too many of us." She probably thought I was crazy. Too many of us. But with the nurses in the family, and their crazy and different schedules, we couldn't co-ordinate a trip with all of the rest of us, so someone would end up alone for Christmas or Thanksgiving no matter how we tried.

Anyway. I feel bad for him. He is still only 19 years old, and has always loved the holidays and traditions. He was the liveliest one at the table, the funniest and also the one who enjoyed the meals the most.

I talked to him on the phone tonight, he has been doing lots of missions...and he went to the shooting range overnight again. He got 38 out of 40, which makes him an expert marksman, which he says he has to be to be in the infantry, but I am impressed. If I hit one out of 40, I would be having a good day. At 100 to 300 yards away, moving targets that popped up in 15 second intervals, if you took too long, you missed it....

Anyway. He is doing okay.

Today, we went to the mall....

Kathryn, Suzanne, Charlotte Claire, and Camille. We had to go, Kathryn's Surface wasn't responding, so we took it to the Microsoft store. It still isn't fixed, but that's another story, a boring one. We went into the Disney store, where the girls were instantly attracted to the Star Wars toys. Charlotte Claire is a huge SW nerd. I was a bit surprised to see them sail past all the princess dolls though.

We ate at the food court while we waited for Kathryn's computer. Chinese food, half a sub, a burrito...blah. I had the General Tso's chicken, and it was so salty, good. I was good too, I only had a few spoons of the rice. The girls ate a little of it, but were full enough from their own I threw it away. I still have that baggage from childhood: wasting food is a sin. But. It's better off in the garbage than in my gut, so off it went. The other thing is, I wanted to eat it all but I knew I didn't need it!

We went to Starbucks and got a coffee for me, and some iced teas for the girls. The two littler ones went on the carousel...I didn't get a picture because Kathryn and Suze had my phone (camera) when they walked to Starbucks for their drinks. dang. I stood there watching those little princesses go around and around on their horses, Camille clearly in her own little world, and remembered the days when we had to buy 12 or 14 two. And, no one needed Mama to stand there and go around and around, next to their horse making sure they didn't fall off. Times have a-changed.

They are growing up on me! But these two little girls really enjoy life. They danced along to the irritating Christmas music, and marveled at the decorations. They helped pick out a birthday present for their cousin, they are going to his birthday party on Saturday. They helped me pick out some clothes for them that we are saving for Christmas, too. They love to look in the kids' sections, and read the tags. They know that $19.99 is twenty bucks, and it is too much:)

Ah well. We stopped at Target on the way home from the mall, and got a few Christmas presents, and some socks for Jonathan.

Then, to the grocery store that has eggs on sale for a dollar a dozen this week. I got six dozen. And, some oranges, apples, and sweet potatoes, along with some bagels, half and half, and heavy cream for next week. Real whipped cream, pies, oh dear....

Thanksgiving. We do have much to be thankful for. Mali and Aaron, who are both nurses, have to work. Emily works at the same hospital as Aaron, but has the day off. Mirielle works with Mali, and has it off. Mali and Aaron both work nights, the other two work days now. So hopefully Mali and Aaron can each stop over for just a half hour or so,before work, on Thanksgiving evening.

Mali is coming over the day before to help me make pies. The kids watched the show, "Master Chef Junior", so now they want to make their own pies. hmm. Wasting food is a sin, but letting the kids help is a good thing....

Anyway. I am tired, and have to get up early in the morning....I am taking my brother to a doctor appointment. (one of my other brothers left today for a 3 day shift, helping those poor people in Buffalo dig out of all that snow! If you haven't heard about what I'm talking about here, google it! Buffalo, NY got blasted with snow! 5 inches an hour! People got stuck in their cars for 33 hours on the highway! Doors broke because of the weight of the snow, and 10 people died from storm related causes (heart attacks from shoveling, exposure, and one guy got buried in his car.))

Anyway again, I am tired, so goodnight.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

but i'm scared!

I don't go many places alone. Why would I? There are countless companions around here to go adventuring with. Today, for example, I took a quick trip to Wallyworld to pay for an order I had put in online, long story never mind. But instead of striking out alone, Suze (13) came along. We took a quick detour to the thrift store, which she doesn't love, but I do. (I got Char and Cam jackets, from L.L.Bean and Land's End, for cheap! And adorable snowman candlestick holders for a dollar each. And a $2 shirt for Jon. And a whole box of angel ornaments for $3.99.)

Anyway. Aaron is flying out to Seattle Washington in a few weeks to visit Ben and Ashley for a couple of days. I want to go with him. Tickets are $300, so Paul said Merry Christmas, go see your grand daughter. I said, YAY! But. Aaron already bought his ticket, and to get the same flight as him would be almost $500. blah. Or, I could just go the same day on a different flight and pay the $300. The way back has TWO stops. Oh I know, I am a big baby. But. I don't want to! Yet, I seriously want to go visit that grand baby, and see my son and Ashley. Oh I do I do.

Benjamin is texting me to just do it, don't think about it, just do it. I don't know. All by my lonesome? Will I know where to go and what to do? He said just get a coffee and wait for my next flight. Coffee? hmm, maybe....

And did you know that the coffee there on the west coast is yum? And, on every corner? hmmmm.....

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

again again

Every day it's the same thing, sweep the floor and clean things up. A coffee mug here, a tea cup there, with the teabag in it of course, and no one left it there. When I ask, they are eager to suggest one of their siblings, but if I question said sibling, they shrug and say Wasn't Me. I usually don't try to sleuth out the culprits. But seriously, a package of opened crackers on the coffee table? rrr.

There is always laundry to do, and dishes. I have cupboards and closets to organize, and the big freezer needs defrosting.

It's not that I don't like cleaning my house. I don't really mind. I just don't like doing it It gets old. Especially when I pick up say....a lego. I pick it up and put it on the counter, then the next day, there it is again, on the floor. I know, I should have had Jon take it, or put it where it belonged in the first place: one of the junk drawers, where it could mingle with the rubber bands and push-pins and Box Tops For Education.

Now of course I am thankful that I can walk, lean over, and physically do the things I don't really want to do. I am just venting about the sameness of it all. And hey, when your husband is in France all of the time..."we took the train from Paris", he said. Oh my life! That's what Aaron used to say. Oh, my life!

But overall, I can't complain. Homeschooling these five kids has been the absolute best thing I have ever done, besides have them all in the first place. They are having bagels and cream cheese, and bundling up in warm clothes. We have our two new space heaters humming, because it's cold outside! It was 20 degrees (-6.6 C) when I got up this morning. brrrr.

The dogs didn't stay out too long today:)

I know winter comes every year. It just does. But this year, the autumn went by so fast! I hope this early snow isn't a shadow of things to come. Up east of the lake (Ontario), and over near Buffalo, they are getting pounded. Four feet of snow or more. The NYS Thruway is closed through there, too.

We need another trip to the library, but not today. The little girls are invited to a birthday party this afternoon, and Jon gets to go too to play with the birthday girl's brother. We took a little trip to Walmart last evening to get a gift, and it was too much fun. We moseyed and dawdled and meandered through the store. We looked at the toys, pressed the buttons, and picked out a little doll in a little car seat, and a nice little blouse. We also picked out different colored Powerade drinks (I like purple Zero, no calories). We decided on frozen rasberries and vanilla ice cream for a treat when we got home. But. Lo and behold, right there above the vanilla ice cream: Pumpkin pie ice cream. Made by the local dairy. Oh heavenly yum, I didn't say no, I just bought one. And, I ate some last night. Sonja was pretty pleased to see it too. I made sure my dinner was lo-cal, a mug of tomato soup, a bowl of raw spinach with some turkey slices and pepper.

Anyway, it was fun to go out and about with the three youngest. The five girls went to Girls' Fellowship at Emily's house, and Joseph just stayed home. Honestly, having only nine kids home is rather easy. :)

I miss Paul. I'm glad he'll only be gone for a week this trip instead of two.

Okay, and here's the really really fun news: my mother-in-law asked me if I want to accompany her on a trip to....Seattle! To visit Ben and Ashley and little Anya, my only little grandchild! Next spring or summer....of course I said yes, and shh, we haven't asked Ben and Ashley yet, but I'm sure they won't mind.

This is Benjamin with Kathryn. Benjamin just had a birthday, on Veteran's Day. He turned 26. I love Benjy. He has grown up into such a nice responsible daddy. A good and caring husband. He transitioned from Army life to an apprenticeship in HVAC (heating/air conditioning ect). He signed out of the Army a few weeks back with no fanfare, no ceremony, just voila, you are now a regular citizen again. He is still on reserve for a year, but other than that, he is done with the Army.

Too bad he is staying in Washington state, it is too far away. But they like it there, and he got a good job there.

Anyway, I am excited about the prospect of another trip, and oh to see that little Anya again....:)

Monday, November 17, 2014

in love....

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas. The snow gives the house that lighting that only the reflection of snow outside can give, and with it comes a holiday spirit. I get as excited as the kids do. We have big plans for this season! We want to go to the science museum and watch, "The Polar Express" at the IMAX.

The kids went outside to play already.

Jonathan made pancakes, they are having cocoa, wearing their slippers, and checking the weather online. It is warming up to rain today, but getting drastically colder this week. I am not ready for winter, although I am super glad I found the girls some adorable snow boots from the thrift store a few weeks ago.

Kitty wants to go out:) she can't.

The kids are talking about camping. Cam wished upon a star, and she wished that Dad could find a wrench to take her training wheels off her bike...and the next day, he found a wrench, and took her training wheels off! Her wish worked. Char got sand in her eyes once, and washed them out with lake water, and it came out! Charlotte Claire's tablet died on that camping trip when rain flooded the tents...oh joy. But we remember it fondly, forgetting the hanging of all the stuff and trying to dry things out. Of course for kids, this part doesn't matter anyway.

Anyway. It is chilly and bright and the space heater is humming. I got up and exercised this morning, and sent out the kids' homeschooling first quarter reports. I slept in cozily late though, with the girls all cuddled in bed with me. I had a terrible headache when I got home from the progressed into one of those vice grip ones, then just pounded worse and worse. I haven't had a headache in at least three weeks, so I can't complain. But this one was rough. I took two ibuprofen before bed, but got back up to take an Excedrin. When I came out to the living room, I found this:

I don't know why I get such a kick out of the animals getting along with each other....

Anyway, I hate those headaches. It finally subsided, but when I woke up this morning, I felt that after-migraine slugishness...and was thankful I didn't HAVE to get up, although I should get up with the kids who go to Real School. Tomorrow I will.

We have yet to start our morning school work, although as we lay in bed this morning, I was explaining to Camille how to figure out how much something costs if it is a certain percent off. She actually caught on.

The kids are happy today, and I love it. I am very much in love with life today.

Sometimes I feel guilty saying I am happy. Life isn't equal for everyone all of the time, and perhaps right now friends or acquaintances are having difficulties, and here I am saying how glad I am. We all know there is a time and a season for everything under the sun...and today, I am happy.

I would be happier, I suppose, if I got on the scale this morning and it reflected how many times I denied myself something, instead of how many times I had just a taste...and then another taste. I would probably be happier if I won the lottery too, but we shall never know, since I don't play it.

And it's time to get up again and get moving on school.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

and another busy sunday...all gone.

We do get only the one ride through life. I firmly believe that if we actually KNEW how numbered our days and hours were, we would absolutely not waste any time at all grumping or complaining. And yeah, I know that "grumping" isn't a real word, but it should be.

Today, I worked at the basketball game. Do I like leaving my youngsters and driving to the city, parking in a parking garage with low ceilings and tiny parking spots?(I actually got a ride with my niece today, so I didn't have to drive:)) Paul and I have taken turns scraping up the minivan in there, actually. I went first, trying to exit the garage, and scraaaaaaaaping along the corner, oops. Paul asked me for weeks and months how I could possibly scrape up the van so badly. I just don't know, I said. The space I had to drive through was too small, I said. Then lo and behold, one night we were happily getting into that poor minivan to leave after a long night working, and scraaape BANG, he smashed the driver's door right into a cement post as he backed out. Far be if from me to sit there laughing and saying how glad I was that he had a turn. How could you do that, I asked? oh joy, it was totally worth it. Our poor minivan.

Anyway. Going to the Dome to work isn't what I would choose to do on a Sunday, or any other day, for that matter. But. It is what it is, and it is what I make of it. I got to see my friends. I got to see this adorable boy with Down's Syndrome, who was with his daddy, who obviously loved him to the moon and back. I got to see a chubby little girl buy a cookiewich (a cookiewich is a devilish invention, consisting of two superyummy chocolate chip cookies with swirled soft ice cream frozen in the middle. 550 calories.)Anyway, this little girl, around ten years old or so, counts out the money from her sparkly little change purse, gets her cookiewich, then her mother comes up behind her, and berates her..."Oh, you ate up all the popcorn by yourself, now you buy something you can't share with us. Seriously." um, wah? My niece Audrey actually cried. It was just so mean of that mom! That child is going to grow up and have to go to counseling.

Anyway. It wasn't horrid to work today. It was actually quite pleasant. We usually have this manager who didn't seem to attend the Be Nice To Your Workers School. She is snappy and barge-y, if you are in her way, oh well, she just shoulders into you. She grabs, doesn't say please and thank you, and she really gets after the younger ones at times. She isn't always horrid, and I actually like her as a person, to an extent. Okay, I love her but don't really like her. I figured out that I love her one night when she was leaning totally into my personal space, squatting down, trying to fix a clogged soda line, when I pressed the cash button on my register, and the drawer flew open, almost hitting her head. oops. I grabbed the drawer just in time to save her from a horrible corner bump, and realized, dear Lord, I love this woman. But honestly, I don't always like her too much.

But. Anyway. We had a different manager tonight, and it was totally chill, much more pleasant, and relaxed.

The children are nestled all snug in their beds, or rather, two of them are in my bed. Daddy is in France, so they get to be comfy and snuggly with me, those two little princesses.

Animals in the house, help! One of the dogs, we won't mention any names, but I am thinking along the lines of Duke, poops in the house a few times a week. I. Hate. It. Of course, I mean, who would like it? So, we put this lovely piece of plywood across the living room doorway, so they can't get into the halls or go downstairs. They work like crazy until they budge it out of place, and get through and go sleep with Jonny, and sneak into the hallway, and if the un-named dog has to go, he goes. This morning they woke me up, on a Sunday morning, at six o'clock. It was still dark out, and Duke was barking his little yip. Yip. Yip. He does this long silence in between barks, long enough to drift back to sleep. Then I would wake again, and think, that dog has to poop. So I got up and let them out. I waited there on the cold tile floor of the kitchen, wondering if I would be able to fall back to sleep.

And...those brats! One of them pooped on the kitchen floor! I am thinking Duke, I really am.

Ah well. I cleaned it up, and am still alive.

And, I went on Target . com and ordered a pet gate. It's really cute, with a kitty door so the cats can go through. I will put that up and keep them out here, at least.

Oh the fun and adventure that comes with having pets. I still think it's worth it. Those dogs are so sweet and cuddly and fun. And the kitties...
Little kitty doesn't care who she bugs. She has no fear. Big kitty can swat at her, growl at her, nothing deters her. She just pounces and wacks and attacks the twitching tail.

She jumps up and bites big kitty. Big kitty seems to be getting used to it, and barely reacts. The dogs put up with all sorts of abuse from spunky little kitty. The Kettler, that's her official name.

Two cats, two dogs. That's still sane. I will not get any more pets, that would be insane. Although I could totally be the crazy cat lady. And I would love a yellow lab. Then I think of Duke, and the poop, and of when they get into the garbage during the night and I wake up to piles of coffee grounds all over the kitchen floor....I get real sane real quick, and know I don't want any more pets.

They are more work than the kids.

Today, I got a cookiewich. And a piece of pizza. The pizza was Waste Pizza, which means we couldn't sell it because it was mangled or burned or something. So we could eat it. I only ate the cheese and pepperoni off the top, and threw away the crust. Then I ate half my cookiewich, and despite how much my mother used to harp on the sin of wasting food, I wrapped it up in the wrapper, and threw it away. I had had enough, and throwing it away is better than over eating. Yay me! You have no idea how good it feels to break away from something like.

Then I came home and had popcorn for dinner. But that's all I had, and it was for dinner, and yeah, I know I need to make better choices, but I still find that I eat based on how I feel, and I felt tired and sorry for my poor knees and feet, and wanted to relax....and eat popcorn.

Ah well, tomorrow is another day. I will make good choices.

saturday evening post...

Paul is headed back to France, Margaret and Joseph are with Emily and Aaron visiting Samuel, Sonja K. is in Detroit for the weekend with her cousin Becky, and Jonathan is at Abigail's house for the night. We aren't lonely here though, we have two cousins visiting.

After dropping Paul off at the airport, Suzanne, Evelyn, and I went to the dollar store. We got a few Christmas trinkets, and some dark chocolate...the yummy salted almond kind. And a milk caramel bar for the kids. We bought some wrapping paper and a school workbook for Camille.

Then...we went to Target. I had a ten dollar coupon:) I bought two space heaters because they were buy one get one half off. I got a few Christmas gifts for the kids, including a dress for Evelyn which she had her eye on that finally went down to 70% off.

Then the grocery store just for carrots and eggs and popcorn, and ice cream for tonight.

We came home and made a few pizzas, and I made up some Buffalo chicken breast chunks. The little girls went roller skating today with one of their friends, and came in the door and asked please please can their cousin Danielle spend the night. Yes, I said. So, at 11:22 at night, they are still wide awake and talking. They had a mystery to solve this evening...Camille had cut her toe, and didn't know it until she spotted the blood...and she had made a trail. They were in their own little world being detectives, trying to figure out what she did to her toe, and where it might have happened. They moved one of the couches so part of the living room is closed off, and have set up their little houses over there. They simply have too much fun.

We tried to watch a movie tonight, but our dvd player broke, and Jon took the game system with him to Abigail's house. My computer doesn't have a disk drive, and Paul's computer is with him on the way to France.

Paul will be in France for a week, home for a week, then in Florida for two weeks. Florida for the first two weeks in December. blah. No fair. He's gone so much, I feel like a single parent. I do all the day-to-day parenting, filling him in as much as I can, but mostly headline news, not little details. When he is home, he usually gets home from work late, closer to 8 than 7 most nights. I don't want to complain, because he has a good job, and he actually likes it, but I need to vent a little.

I don't know how to fix the stove or replace the broken light fixtures or figure out why the minivan is making that noise. Mirielle says I need to learn, and not save it all for Dad. I feel accomplished when I change a lightbulb, put batteries in something, or assemble a toy. I don't think I can tinker with the heating element on the stove.

We never did decide on what to do about new windows, so he fixed our existing ones by spraying on this extremely attractive foam, to seal the cold air out. It looks like fat puffy yellowed spray whipped cream.

There is a towel in front of the refrigerator, and a towel in front of the washing machine.

Yet, here I am, alive and well.

Life is short. There is something in us that wants everything just so. When it's all in order, I'll feel better, I subconsciously think. Of course, then there will be something else I want arranged differently. Or upgraded or replaced. It goes on and on, and if we're not careful, our days will be frittered away, always in pursuit of new and improved.

I know, there are things that have to be done. But we do delude ourselves about what is really necessary, and what we just plain WANT.

Granite countertops. I want them. A new garbage can, stainless steel - I want one. One of those fake fireplaces with the realistic flames...ohh, yes! New furniture because I never cared for this red stuff, please! What I would actually really really love is an endless pool. An indoor hot-tub like thing with a motor that creates a strong current to swim against.

The way I see it, is that rich people are never happy because the more one gets, the more one wants. The contentment is not going to come set up camp in me at some fixed point when I get what I think will make me happy. No sir. It comes when I decide I am happy with what I have.

Lately, I have been so extremely thankful for my little kids. Now that Char and Cam are homeschooling too, Jonathan has someone to play outside with. We had our first snowfall, and they were so very excited to go out exploring in it. They are just so funny. They made pretend passports. They played school this morning. They each had 32 invisible students. Cam was grading papers, talking to these invisible students as she frowned at the pretend papers they turned in. "What?! You think bears hibernate in the summer? No, wrong!", and Char was telling her students, as she stood at her easel with a marker in her hand, "I'm sorry you got a detention, but that's that, you have to keep it." They sometimes decide to play store, and in an instant, the living room has three shopping carts, some toy cash registers, and food from the cupboards set up on the couches and coffee tables. They get their real money out, and then some plastic Walmart bags...they just don't get bored.

I guess I realize that my days as a mommy to little children are numbered. So I am stepping back and breathing it in, living in the moments. For years and years I had what seemed like an endless supply of little ones....:)

One thing's for sure: the older ones, oh they try my soul! I almost can't bear it sometimes, I feel their pain, I want so much for them to find peace, and make good decisions.

It gives me a tiny glimpse of how it is for God, and us. He wants us to be saved, yet gives us free will. How He must rejoice when we make good choices!

Anyway, I am getting more and more tired, as I ramble....

Friday, November 14, 2014


Camille Anaya today....