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

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

beautiful day....

Aah, life is good....

Today, we went to the zoo. It was a perfect day for it. We went with my brother Bob and one of his grandchildren, a sweet little girl, A., whom he babysits for. (he is retired.). (the penguins are adorable!)

My little girls loved helping with A., they got to pretend to be big sisters.

The lion washed her paws for us, and her friend got up, stretched, and took a nice drink from their little pond. We wanted to go in and pet them.

I walked this morning before our zoo trip, which went against all reasoning, because hey, I was going to be walking at the zoo! But we all know that walking briskly down the road, up and down hills, is not the same as strolling through the zoo with curious little girls.

We got home from our adventure, and dang it, I hadn't swept or washed any dishes before we went, so...blah.

A pot of coffee and some air-popped popcorn, and I had snack ready for the girls who came home on the bus. is busy here. Camille is excited about today's Activity Club kickoff at Emily and Abigail and Mirielle's house. She keeps asking me how much longer. Then she asks to watch television, which I continue to say no to. She can either read a book, play with her toys, or write a story about today's zoo trip. She is reading, "Junie B. Jones And The Yucky Blucky Fruitcake."

Charlotte Claire is playing with the kitten.

The older kids are all here, and it it too distracting to write, besides, I would rather talk to them.

Monday, September 15, 2014

never a dull moment....

Miss Charlotte Claire is sick. She complained on Saturday that she wasn't feeling well, then by the time we were headed to the airport to pick up Paul from France, it was clear that she had something going on. We had spent the day at the church soccer tournament, and all of the youth kids were going to have a barbecue. We needed some dinner, so I stopped at Arby's and got them a few things. Char only wanted hot tea. No fries, nothing, just tea. Hmm. Then she started saying how cold she was. dang.

This morning, she is throwing up. Now, Miss Char is 8 years old, and she is very capable and self-reliant. She knows how to make it to the bathroom. I feel sorry for her, but she is cheery. She doesn't have to do any school work today, because she says if she reads she will feel dizzy. So the poor girl is all snuggled on the couch with Suri, who thinks it's wonderful to have someone to cuddle with.

And, today I am taking the other home schoolers to the library. Joseph will look after Miss Char:)

Camille is doing some morning work, the new kitten is hopping around exploring, and I need to get moving. I thought I would have time to write, but nah. Not now.

I did get up and take my walk this morning, yay me. Now to just detox from sugar and all things bad and evil, like pumpkin spice coffee from Dunkin Donuts. Way too many calories, but it is SO good.

One thing I realize is that I need concentrate more on what I CAN eat, instead of just avoiding all the bad stuff. The spinach and cauliflower and those lo-cal crunchy things I eat peanut butter on... I need to stock up on those. The apple/almond snack instead of getting too hungry, the tea in the evening instead of popcorn. (Paul brought back chocolate from France. These little squares of dark chocolate are SO good, they taste almost peppery, are so dark but not dry and chalky...I am glad there is a limited amount:)(he passed out big bars to Margaret, Kathryn, Evelyn, Suzanne, Jon...and KinderEggs for the princesses...)

Anyway...I need to get moving.

Friday, September 12, 2014

aahhh, friday how I love thee....

But then, I love all the days. Today, there is a soccer tournament starting at church, with Kathryn and Joseph both playing. I need to go to the store in town to get some things for lunch, and head out there to watch some soccer with the kids.

Yesterday we had a nice visit from Grandma. She brought some nice outfits for the three little kids. Jonathan really liked his new jacket and shirt, but the little girls are absolutely thrilled with their clothes. It spurred them to play shopping, they got out their little shopping carts that I have been thinking of getting rid of...

Grandma is quite a lady. She is 85 years old, and does not have time to not feel well, she has things to do. She refers to herself as a, "mean old lady", but she really has a heart of gold. She has always remembered all of our birthdays and has been so good to us. She is absolutely organized, and is the polar opposite of a procrastinator. If something needs doing, she simply gets it done. I want to be just like her when I grow up:)

I did get up and take my walk this morning, which wasn't easy, considering that I was making a triple batch of chocolate chip cookies at 11 o'clock last night. Aaron came for a visit:) When the house was finally quiet, I crawled into my comfy bed, where the princesses were snuggled, and finished the book I was reading. So...when 7 a.m. came around, oh I wasn't ready to get up. Margaret had to wake me up, again, because I needed to sign her note for her being late yesterday. Once I am awake, I am awake.

So here I am, awake. I have a million things to do, too.

But writing is important too. (Charlotte Claire is eating a bowl of berries and a chocolate chip cookie for breakfast).

Have I mentioned how much I love homeschooling? I totally wish I had done it years ago. I would have, but I always thought that kids need the hard knocks of life, to some extent. I didn't want to shelter them, or baby them. I thought it best for them to go out that door to school, even though it practically killed me. I sent them because I thought it was good for them. And who knows? They are fine. Each and every year, I considered homeschooling. Benjamin actually homeschooled for his last few years of high school, and he is doing exceptionally well. Then Kathryn decided to, and we let Jon...then this summer I realized how fast Camille catches on to math, and thought about how well she seemed to me that school was almost slowing her down. My two little girls going to school made me sad, they were learning things on the bus, and were always tired. They had homework every night, which ate into the measly four hours they had between coming home and having to go to bed, so they could get up in the morning and do the same thing all over again. We were continuously counting the days to the weekends, and taking days off here and there just to chill or to go on adventures.

Once I got the idea of teaching them here, it just burned within me, just made me so happy. But it was their choice. I suggested it, and they started talking about the pros and cons. They were simply all for it! I thought perhaps when Real School started, they would feel like they were missing out, but they didn't care at all. I ask the sometimes, and they have no regrets. They know they can go back next year if they really want to:)

I also know that just as kids who start off the year in Real School and get sick of it after the initial newness wears off, these guys might start grumbling about being here. I am bound and determined to just take that as a challenge to make things more interesting.

There are different ways to learn things. Reading, writing, math, proper punctuation, using certain words correctly. Your/you're, already/all ready, then/than....oh dear. Using apostrophes correctly seems to be a lost art too. So there are things kids need to learn. The solar system, history, geography...very important.

But, playing is very important for kids too. Yesterday when I was looking for the playdough, (I got rid of most of it, we had too much and I thought they were outgrowing it), I found these hanging lanterns and crepe paper balls that hang from the ceiling. So, we hung them with some clear Christmas lights in Jon's room. That spurred the kids to want to play in there, so they got out the Little Tikes waffleblocks, Lego, Hess trucks...and played for a few hours. That kind of unstructured playing is good for kids.

And, off I the store and the bank then the soccer tournament.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

this old lady is tired!

(Suri and I) I meant the dog, of course. We went on a small hike, across a big bridge, then through the woods....

Suri didn't care for the bridge, and I don't blame her. It was scary, and lots of work for her not to let her paws slip through. And lest you think me mean to bring her across this bridge, note that on the other side was freedom...I let her off the leash, and she bounded. She sniffed and explored, but mostly stayed with us. She liked to hop down the path right along side the kids.

Jonathan, Char, and Camille and I.

See, I promised them if they did all their school work today while I was gone grill shopping with Emily, I would take them somewhere fun. And believe me when I say that I seriously didn't want to do anything but put my feet up after going to Wegman's (only for a coffee, Em says they have the best. I mixed dark roast and pumpkin spice, yum), BJ's, Tops, and Real Deals, then to the church to put it all away....

The kids did all their work, with help and encouragement from their big sisters. So, I was on the hook to go bye-bye again. The older kids were all going to the youth meeting soon anyway, so I left with Jon, Char, Cam, and Suri. We didn't bring Duke too because he isn't "fixed", and what if there was a cute female dog? All reason leaves that dog when he smells a dog in heat. BTW, we got him last year at 8 years old, and decided he was too old to neuter, although I still would like to have it done. Anyway, tangent.

We went on an adventure. We walked across that bridge and down the path through the woods for a while. It got rather warm (or was that just me?), and the mosquitoes started finding us. I was tired enough to come home and put my feet up, once again, then Char had the bright idea that we should go to the Rec. Center pool. um, really? It did NOT sound good to me, but I heard myself agree to it. I even told Charlotte Claire that it was a good idea. Faith and all that, you know?

So home to get the suits and towels, and drop off Suri, and off we went, again.

We stopped at the library in town. We wandered around, got a few Barbie movies, a Judy Moody book, another I Spy book,a Star Wars movie, and a few books for me.

The pool WAS a grand idea, I told Miss Char. It was relaxing and it really felt wonderful to get into the water after being so busy today.

Home...ah home. I wanted to bake the cake for tomorrow's Cast Party for this past summer's church play, but I decided to put it off until tomorrow. It was the night to crack into the frozen pizza rolls for the kids. I had cauliflower tossed in butter and hot sauce, microwaved pepperoni, and a bowl of popcorn cooked in coconut oil and drizzled with butter, salt, and pepper. Yeah, I am healthy like that.:)

The girls are sleeping in my bed again, I get just a small bit of room near the edge, but there is something so cozy about having sleepovers with those little girls.

Tomorrow I have to bake that cake, and maybe some cupcakes or cookies too, for the cast party. I will get up and go for my walk, no matter what. I have laundry to do, and the floors will surely need to be swept...the dog hair, ugh.

I miss Paul this trip more than usual. He is in France again.

It's late, and I am tired for some reason. ha.

Monday, September 8, 2014

and a sunny monday morning it is....

As nice as an occasional walk with another person is nice, walking alone is conducive to really good thinking. Sometimes I pray for my friends and family, sometimes I give myself pep talks about staying away from sugar, sometimes I clean whole rooms in my head and figure out where to put things. Sometimes I just breathe, and try to clear my mind from the barrage of little things I know I have to do.

I'm glad I didn't listen to myself and just skip that walk this morning. I swear, I am my worst enemy when it comes to these things. My excuse this morning: I don't want to go for a walk in these ridiculous capris! Now, they ARE silly, these sweatpants of mine. They go to between the knee and ankle, but they are loose at the bottom, not fitted, so they look just bum-y. They are Adidas, black with these three 80's looking stripes down the sides. Paul asked me one time why I had Adidas pants. Because duh, they were three dollars at the thrift store!

I am not one to wander into Walmart in my jammies, nor do I go shopping in sweatpants. Even if I go pick someone up from school or drop a kid off at a friend's house, I change into presentable clothes. Perhaps I have a deep seated paranoia that if I dress slobby, I will be certain to get into an accident. (We already know that kids get hurt and have to go to the E.R. when my hair needs a wash, ha.) The other night, I actually went to Emily/Abigail/Mali's house in these capris and my new doggy t-shirt from my mother-in-law. I do like the t-shirt, it's comfy and cute, but overall, I am not a t-shirt girl. Anyway, I don't usually leave the house in my Around The House clothes.

Off On A Tangent, I am too good at that game.

My point was that it doesn't take much for me to talk myself out of my morning walk, for some reason. I enjoy it, but getting myself to do it is a daily struggle.

Same with eating right and making good choices. It will ALWAYS be a battle for me.

Saturday I worked at a bake sale for church. It wasn't the pies and cookies and cinnamon buns on our table that just about killed me. It was the stand that made freshly fried donuts. From the fryer to the cinnamon and sugar, to the customer. The smell, oh the heavenly aroma...and the bad thing? They tasted just as good as they smelled. It was my lunch, okay? One donut. Just one. I also bought a chocolate chip cookie and a cinnamon bun from our table, but only tasted them, and I do mean just one small bite, and gave the rest to Sonja K. and Irene, who were helping at the bake sale. That donut, not a good lunch, but oh so yum.

Yesterday, Abigail and Jonathan were working at that bake sale. It was at a harvest festival, and I had decided to take the little girls there after church, leaving the older ones at soccer practice, ect.

Jonathan and I waited in the long line for more donuts, I had only one, and it was my lunch, again. I passed the other ones out, and gave the remaining few away to a friend...:) Anyway, we had fun at the festival, especially at the petting zoo. There were puppies at that petting zoo. They looked like yellow labs, but were a creamy white color, and were absolutely adorable. The kids were allowed to go right into the pen with them, and of course mine did. They just played and played with those puppies. Jonathan asked the owners how much the puppies were, and yeah, $500. It was so funny though, Jon and Char and Camille were standing there adding up how much money they had and trying to figure out if they had enough. They came up with under two hundred, and asked me if I could pitch in the rest. Oh you guys, we aren't getting one of those puppies. I should have stopped them right away, but they were hysterically cute trying to figure out if they could buy one. At one point Jon said, "Wait, we don't have our money with us. Abigail, do you have some we could borrow for now?" Um, no.

So I brought them in the food tent and bought them a slice of pizza.

We stopped at the store on the way home for some apples and bananas and chicken and eggs and bread.

Then we stopped for ice cream, and yeah, I had one. It was pumpkin! Soft pumpkin ice cream. Need I say more?

But today is Monday, a new day, a new week, and I am going to behave.

Today I have bills to pay and kids to teach and things to clean up and things to organize. It is still quiet here, but soon it will be busy and loud and crazy.

Friday, September 5, 2014

these are a few of my favorite things....

Yes, we did. We got a new kitty.

Jonathan is pretty much in love.

Sonja K. with new kitty.

See, we went swimming today at our church pool....
Homeschooling gym class:)

Oh what a glorious day at the pool! 90 degrees out, sunny and breezy, oh just yummy. The kids sure got their exercise.

I kept my little niece and nephew with me for a bit....and when I dropped them off at home, little Dani went ran in the house and came out with...the sweetest little kitten. Mom! Mom, please! We'll take care of it!

And, I fell for it. Yup, I did. Even though I know for darn certain who will be the one cleaning up messes...taking it to the vet....paying for it....I fell for it. Because, shh, she's adorable! I am a huge sucker for babies, even baby kitties.

The fun part was telling Daddy. If I had called him and asked him, we all know what he would have said. We had to go to Walmart to get kitten chow and worm medicine just in case, and flea drops, and a litter pan and litter, and a cute little water and food dish. This kitty was still nursing from her mama, and doesn't know how to drink from a bowl. We are giving her water from a medicine dropper, but she figured out how to eat the kitten chow pretty fast. Anyway, we got home and made dinner...taco salad with veggies from the garden, corn on the cob from Walmart, local corn, for 10 cents an ear...and the kids speculated endlessly about What Daddy Would Say. The suspense was killing me. He finally came in, and the kids were just looking at each other, Sonja actually meowed, sitting at the dinner table. I couldn't stand it, so I told Suze to just go get Kitty. She did. Paul was like, "You got a kitten? Why?" He shook his head, but didn't say much. I told him because it was cute. He agreed, she is cute.

And that was that.

He is a pretty nice guy.

I did feel slightly guilty because he had an appointment with his heart doctor today, and was put on an additional med for his heart, and the only pharmacy that our insurance covers didn't have it at any of it's stores, and he leaves for France tomorrow. But it didn't seem to bother him, our new little kitty.

Tomorrow is going to be busy one: I have to bring Paul to the airport, then I am working at a church bake sale. Jon is going to a friend's birthday, so I have to get him out some decent clothes tonight. The little girls are going to their two cousins' party, I have to make sure they have clothes out. Margaret is bringing them for me, it's nice when the older kids drive.

We wrapped the birthday presents already, hopefully they will remember to bring them when they go.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

lovely day....

Ah, my morning walk. Three days in a row! Of course I expect the scale to start being my friend again immediately, but the key here is patience...

Here are my homeschooled kids this year: Jonathan, Kathryn Grace, Suzanne Eleanor, and the little girls, Camille and Miss Char.

Homeschooling is everything I had hoped it would be, so far. Kathryn and Jonathan are pros at it, but it is new for Suze and the princesses.

Yesterday we made Jello jigglers and cut out the letters of their names. It turned silly, then messy. Our poster-making turned quite silly too, and just as I was tempted to put my foot down and restore some order, Charlotte Claire said, "This is so much fun! We never had THIS much fun in art class at school!" So, I let them have fun. They do their quiet morning work first, spelling and math and writing...then the fun starts, apparently.

Today is a wonderful day. Sunny and warm already, going up to 80-ish. We are thinking of going to the beach after morning work.

On my walk this morning, I thought about thoughts. You know the saying, "You are what you eat."? That may be true, but more accurately, "You are what you THINK." It's the thought life that determines how I am and how I react. If I focus on things that other people do that bother me, I can make a whole court case against them in my thoughts. Now, I can't help if a thought pops into my mind. But it is my choice whether I consider it, roll it over, agree with it, let it take root...or reject it. Other people can't see our thoughts (thankfully...can you imagine being like cartoon characters?), but God can. There is nothing hidden from Him. When I am faithful there in my thoughts, to forgive and be kind and be hopeful for others instead of just judging and critical, then there is a blessing. I don't have to just be bitter and short sighted and short tempered and miserable.

I was also thinking about having hopeful thoughts for me! I know I am capable of exercising self-control, of staying away from sugar, because I have done it. My morning walks are excellent for those little pep talks.

My first pep talk of the day starts when I start reasoning why perhaps today I should just sit down in the quiet instead of putting on my sneakers:)

My kids stayed up too late last night. Jonathan has been going to the library in town with Margaret, he has his own library card. He is obsessed with Star Wars, and was waiting on one of the movies to come in. Well, it came in yesterday. So I let them watch it after dinner, and those movies just go on and on and on. Seriously, the dialogue is so lame. But they love them. Jon would pause the movie to explain things to his sisters, and kept saying, "I called that! I knew that was going to happen!" Anyway, they finished the movie and got to bed after ten. oops.

Emily visited last night, then Mirielle came in.

Well, these girls are bugging to start morning work....