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
family

Friday, December 19, 2014

quiet time....

It's been a whirlwind here lately. But today I am staying home.

I am going to bake cookies and make some fudge for our church Christmas celebration, which is on Sunday. And then there is this thing called homeschooling...

My five daughters-in-a-row, the ones who were involved in the car accident, are lovely. Oh, they can quibble and squawk at each other, but when they are all getting along, it is a beautiful thing. They are planning to perform a song on Sunday, John Lennon's old, "So This Is Christmas". Kathryn plays the guitar, and they all sing it, and I think it's amazing...to see them work together, and of course me being totally tone deaf, I think it sounds excellent. I assure them it will be fine, but they keep practicing...

The two little girls are also singing a song. Perhaps I will record these and put them up here, so Ben and Grandma can enjoy them.

Okay, so after all these years of being busy, sometimes I find myself not sure what to do next. Seriously, for several years, that was simply not something I could actually decide...I mean, I never had a choice, really, except for prioritizing what was the most urgent, then dealing with it. The one year old pooped, the newborn needs to be nursed, the two year old got into the Desitin, the four year old needs a nap or a snack or a story, the school kids need help with projects or homework, someone's ear hurts or needs a shower or broke a glass....I would just go from one thing to the next, somehow keeping the house half-way decent along the way. I made it a point to keep their clothes nice and clean and always leave the house with them matching, or at least in similar clothes, and looking spiffy. It was work, from dawn 'til dusk, and mostly on very little sleep. A good nap was a rare treat, always sought after but seldom found. I would bake my Christmas cookies with lots of little hands helping, between nursing and changing diapers and figuring out meals. I would wrap presents when they were all in bed, often juggling a baby too. (I totally miss my Sammers this year, he was my #1 helper wrapping presents. We would go into my room and wrap, and oh the fun we had! He helped me for several years, and I always knew it was the time with Mom that was the draw for him, oh I am sad he can't come home for Christmas this year. He called last night, and I told him all about the decorations here, where everything is, and what it looks like, then I texted him some pictures...he may be 19 years old now, but he is still child-like in some respects, and misses home right now....)

Anyway. My days were filled to the max. Add in doctor visits and appointments and grocery shopping and our frequent adventures and outings, and oh, it was busy.

Now, with nine kids still at home...it seems quiet. There are no diapers to change, no one wakes in the night. The presents are all already wrapped, and stacked under the tree. I can bake several dozen cookies with nary an interruption.

Of course there is still laundry and messes and the daily dinner dilemma...and of course the grocery shopping and the sweeping the floors and cleaning up...I take a break now and then and two little girls scramble up to the arms of my chair, and we talk or read stories, or just sit and relax.

But sometimes, I actually find myself not sure what to do next. With actual time on my hands. Free time, time to decide what I really want to do, or need to do. It's strange.

Paul is working today, but has ALL of next week off. The school kids do, too. Yay!

My kids are all still sleeping. oops, we have gotten on a late schedule. The little girls never sleep this late. Joseph is up, he made the coffee:) My cup is empty, and I think that is a sign to get up and start some cookie dough...although honestly, sitting here in the quiet is very nice....

Thursday, December 18, 2014

a quick post....

This is my favorite friend. No offense to Duke, the chocolate one, but Suri is just cute.

Oh what a day. Today, I went out and about with this lovely lady, my oldest daughter Emily.

We went to Costco, which was too much fun. There were food samples galore. I tried tirimisu, Lindt truffles, standing rib roast, and cranberry bread. Okay, and Toblerone chocolate and cheesecake. And the rib roast again, just to be sure. Okay, and the Lindt once again. And just to be clear, it was lunch. And dinner was a simple bowl of soup.

I had to go to court this evening, my most un-favorite place. Okay, I kind of love going and hearing the others' stories, but who likes standing before a judge? The good part: we never had to stand before the judge! Because our summons/appearance ticket stated 6:00, and lo and behold, court starts at 5:00! The officer/guard wouldn't let us in, until I showed him our ticket. He had us wait in the space between the two sets of doors while he got the bailiff.

The bailiff was a sight bit nicer than he, and welcomed us in out of the cold. He listened to our condensed story of what happened in the accident, then went to fetch a lawyer to talk to us. The lawyer recommended we write a letter to the district attorney, along with a letter from our insurance company.

And off we went, new tasks to do, happy to have escaped scary court, to stop on the way home for a hot coffee on a snowy night....

Home, ahh.


Perhaps I will write more tomorrow....

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

oops!

My poor computer. I don't know exactly what happened to it, but I always keep it in the case. Perhaps it was stepped on, I. I can't see the upper left hand side, so if I make typing errors, I will be blissfully unaware. It's a Samsung Chromebook, and I love it. I attempted to email customer service last evening, but it's hard when you can't use some of the functions, so maybe I'll try again on someone else's computer. Never a dull moment, I tell you.

Oh joy, we baby sat for Mali's friend's baby yesterday. She was here for ten hours, and we enjoyed every minute of it. She's a sweet baby. I think Joseph is the only one of the kids here who didn't hold her. Or more specifically, fight over her. They took turns and lined up and I barely got a chance to hold her. She looked at them all in wonder. Babies are so innocent and trusting. Paul kept telling Camille that she would make a good big sister. They were all asking please, for another baby. Paul told them that he wanted one but just couldn't convince Mom, ha. As if. It was pretty cute, I heard him tell one of them that he has been wanting another baby for years now:), but we got too old. Who knows, maybe. Or maybe someone who doesn't want their baby will give it to us. I know, that sounds awful. But am I the only one who reads the stories in the news about someone dumping a newborn in a dumpster somewhere...and thinks, I would have taken that baby!!!?

Anyway, it was very fulfilling to rock and hold and change that baby. She's only a few months old, still to tiny and sweet.

I am tired though. Her mama picked her up at like 1:30, so I didn't get my beauty sleep. blah. I have been scatter-brained lately, I can't wait to see what today brings, being tired too.

The little girls (and Jon) made snickerdoodles yesterday. I baked them, but they did all the measuring and most of the mixing. It was a double batch, so Char couldn't handle the mixer once the flour was added in, but they did all the rest, especially forming the little balls and rolling them in cinnamon and sugar. They came out so amazing, don't ask me how I know that.

Today I am going out and about just a wee little bit. Most of the kids will stay here and do their work, but Camille wants to go with me. She is rather clingy since I got back from Washington. She is an excellent adventuring companion though, so I don't mind.

Christmas is sneaking up on me. Going on vacation for a week in December tends to make it do that. A whole week of no buying or wrapping or baking or decorating. It's quite nice, in a way, but when I get home, it seems overwhelming. I still have a few things to wrap. There is one doll I bought for Camille online before Thanksgiving, and I don't remember receiving it, don't remember wrapping it. I checked, and it was delivered on the day after the girls' car accident, when my brains were pretty scrambled. When I was in Washington, Emily took the kids to get a tree. They put it up and decorated it, and put all the wrapped presents under it. There were some stacked in Evelyn's room, so they just put them under. I guess if the doll is wrapped under there somewhere, Camille will get a doll, if not, she won't.

And here I sit while the day ticks by. The girls are playing. They have been keeping their room really clean and vacuumed, and spending lots of time in there playing house. They dress up all of their dolls, and make couches out of bins. They don't get bored. But then, neither do I.

I mopped the floor and put in some laundry this morning, and washed up the dishes. We had roasted whole chickens for dinner last night, with sweet potatoes, peas, and green beans. Tonight I will make chicken soup from the broth and leftover meat. I love knowing what I am having for dinner, I feel so on top of things. For some of us, it doesn't take much.

And...off I go.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

and today, she attempts to stay home....

Yesterday was another out-and-about day...and tomorrow, I have a request for a trip to the thrift store, half price day...oh the books you can find there! The treasures! And, I found some $7 coupons! Half price AND a coupon...thrift store = happy. And maybe crazy too, but oh well.

Then Thursday, I am going shopping with Emily for the upcoming Christmas feast at church. Costco, how I love thee! And spending the day with Emily - bonus. Thursday evening: not so fun, I have to go to court for the ticket that resulted from that lovely car crash. But I am a firm believer in this: everything happens for a reason, and God causes all things to work together for the good for those who love Him. If we had even one inkling of how fast our lives were going by, we would simply not waste time being miserable, or wishing things were different. We would make the most of our time, and make the best of things. Even sitting in a courtroom can be quite interesting. And I will get to spend time with one of my favorite daughters.

Today I am staying home. I have already accomplished loads. I swept and mopped the floor, and did some laundry. I talked to my brother on the phone, talked to Emily on the phone, texted with Ben for a few minutes, and of course I have these little darlings to contend with.....

Later today I am going to babysit for a small baby. She is three months-ish, the daughter of Mali's friend. We are all excited and looking forward to getting to know this little baby girl.

Here is the cookie recipe I usually use, Tereza. I used a different one this time and didn't like them as well.

2 1/3 C flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt

1 1/4 C sugar
1 C butter (2 sticks)
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla

mix flour, baking soda, salt, set aside. Beat sugar and butter, add egg and vanilla, mix well. Add flour mixture on low speed until mixed. Refrigerate 2 hours or until firm.

Roll out, cut into shapes, bake at 350 for 8 - 10 minutes. I usually set the timer for 7 minutes, and they are done, but I roll them thin.

Icing: 1 C confectioner's sugar, 3-4 tsp milk, splash of vanilla. This past time I added a small amount of light corn syrup to the icing, it made it shiny and it hardened up nicely.

Of course I usually double or triple this.

I need to make more of these already! This fine morning, we are going to have Baking Class. I found a recipe for snickerdoodles that looks divine....

I will have to break up the light saber war that is going on through out the house...Jon is in his plaid pajama pants, they are so hilarious. He just accidentally hit Char's hand, and it stung. He didn't mean to, they just aim to smack the sabers together. ouch.

mom mom MOM! Oh, sorry. I was daydreaming. I am working on paying attention. Putting down my phone, putting away my computer, and paying attention. I guess as my days of being Mommy to small children pass by, I wish for a do-over. Oh, I would pay so much more attention!

But today is today, there is no going back, and now I will put this away and bake cookies with kids.


Monday, December 15, 2014

it's beginning to look a lot like christmas....

We are watching, "How The Grinch Stole Christmas". It is cozy and warm in here. Aaron came for a visit...

I was glad to have some Christmas cookies to put on a plate...

Yeah, I know the tree is tilting. I don't think it will fall. I hope not.

Today, Suzanne went out and about...we stopped in Target first, to return all those glitches. The lady at Customer Service teased me a little, said I shouldn't be allowed near computers. I told her that when one of my kids asked me if I told Dad about it yet, I asked, "If you were me, would you tell Dad?" The lady said she certainly wouldn't tell Dad. Her own husband is a computer whiz too, so she would get about as much understanding as I got, because I did tell "Dad". He just shook his head, and asked me if I was going to return it all.

So with a few hundred dollars credited back to our bank account, I set out to help Suze shop for her Secret Santa gift. She had to get a child's gift first for our S.S. at church. Then we went to a different store and found the gift for her family S.S. Then to the grocery store for bananas and apples and cat food and green peppers and tortilla chips.

Then to the post office to mail a few boxes....Samuel James is going to be getting some cookies soon!!!

I baked and baked....then frosted and frosted. Saturday I mixed up a triple batch of cut-out sugar cookie dough...put it in the fridge, and made a batch of molasses cookies, and baked them.

I made a double batch of chocolate snowball dough yesterday, then headed into my room with Sonja to wrap presents. I am almost done! We baked cookies, batch after batch...then frosted them all.

I partly hate Christmas. It's hard to explain, but I feel like I just don't do anything right. Paul and I have different opinions about what is an appropriate amount of gifts, he always thinks I buy too many, and I think of each child, and never feel like I have gotten enough. But when I mentioned in a half-joking way the other night, that I hate Christmas, Kathryn told me I can't just do that. I have to think of the little kids. She said I said that to her recently. Oh, when the shoe is on the other foot...when normally optimistic me starts feeling blah about things and am encouraged by one of the teenagers...oh it is interesting. She is right, of course. Poor me. I do not want to wallow. She is right, I need to just get over it. It's just that as Mom, I do most of the Christmas-y work. The shopping and wrapping and planning and baking....so of course anything less than a standing ovation is not appreciated. ha. A little bit of criticism goes a long ways sometimes, but it is up to me if I let myself get all bitter and dark about stuff.

And so, I choose to practice what I preach.

The kids are going ice skating with the youth group, and have to eat dinner early, so off I go to get some taco salad started....

Sunday, December 14, 2014

back in new york....

Goodbye rain, hello snow.

It's good to be home. Seeing Paul again after two weeks...very nice. It was after midnight when my final flight got in Friday night, so the house was dark and quiet, and I didn't see the kids until yesterday.

I won't lie, I spent a few hours cleaning up the house...but that needs to be done every day anyway, so it doesn't mean they didn't keep up while I was gone. It sort of just means that they tried:)

West coast time is three hours behind, so I slept in until ten this morning, it would only be 7 am out there. I feel like half the day is gone already. And I have big plans today. I made a double batch of cut out cookie dough last night, and a batch of molasses cookies. I also went shopping with Margaret, and the two little princesses.

We had to get some groceries, and...do some Christmas shopping. I didn't get gifts for those I set out to get gifts for, but found more stuff for people I already have stuff for. Time is ticking, I might resort to gift cards.

I have so much stuff to wrap. I have so much stuff to return to Target. And here I sit. Paul is out back sledding with the girls, and the dogs.

Jonathan is at Abigail's house. It was her birthday yesterday...she took some of the kids to see the original version of, "It's a Wonderful Life", shown in a town not too far from here...the bridge scene in the movie was shot in this small town.

I am making a big Sunday dinner today. We have no church today, since there is a big fundraiser at the Dome, and so many of us are going. I am sitting this one out, but Margaret and Kathryn are going.

Sonja is sweeping the living room....and I feel lazy, my coffee cup is empty, and I don't want Paul to come in from sledding and find me still sitting here, ha.

Friday, December 12, 2014

saying goodbye....wah.

This little sweetie warmed up to Gramma...quite a bit. But on her terms, no hugs, but: I got a nice kiss! She is adorable, and is always sunshine-y. Even if she bumps her head or falls down, she bounces back and is smiling again in no time.

She loves phones. She likes to take pictures. Gramma is in the background of this one.



She took a picture of Uncle Aaron...

And, it is late. We are getting up in four hours, at 4 a.m., to leave for the airport. My flight doesn't leave until 8:30, but Aaron's leaves earlier, so I will leave with him. I fly first to Arizona, then to Washington D.C., making for a very long day....but then, I am home!