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 27, 2014

happy thanksgiving!!!

Yesterday was Pie Day.

We made coconut cream, chocolate, pecan, pumpkin, apple, and lemon meringue.

Cam and Char made pumpkin pies with Margaret.

Jonathan made his own coconut cream pie, from scratch.

Joseph and Kathryn....

Ben, Mali, Sam won't be here today. Aaron will stop in before his night shift at the hospital. The other 12 are here already. There are 13 of us here in the living room right now, plus of course the two puppies and the two kitties. Paul has his guitar out, and the football game is on, muted so we can talk.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!!!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

yeah, just a little teeny tiny post....

This morning, I got up and got moving. You know, sweeping and doing dishes, feeding the puppies and letting them out. Scooping up the kitty kitten and hearing her purr under my chin, she being as glad to see me as I am to see her...I wrote out homework assignments, and brushed my tangly hair. We were in the car by 9:00 am to go to the library! First, however, I had to stop by the high school to drop off Margaret's project which she forgot to bring in.

I dropped kids off there, and headed over to the grocery store for some important things like fresh spinach, pretzels, grapefruit, dog food, kitty food, and kitten litter. I picked them back up, but they didn't want to go home yet, please Mom, let's go to Target. Okay, I guess so. I bought a few Christmas presents, some stocking stuffers, and we were on our way...almost. McDonalds, please, Mom, we're starving. They have no idea what STARVING is, but I gave in. I only had some coffee and four chicken nuggets. I have a love/hate relationship with that "food". It IS crap, no doubt about it. Salty fatty garbage. But it tastes so good....

Anyway, they each chose one thing from the dollar menu, plus they had a few nuggets, and one large fries for the whole vehicle, of which I only ate two.

Then...home. Ah, home. We put away the groceries, discussed schoolwork, and I put my feet up for a few minutes...then I headed over to school to pick up Sonja K., who was babysitting for my niece's twins and kindergartner with Suzanne while we went to work at the college basketball game. Home again for a few minutes...then over to drop them off at Susan's house, pick up Susan, and home again, to pick up Joseph, Kathryn, and Margaret, and on to the basketball game....

The game wasn't bad. At the end, we sometimes pack up the food and it is taken to the Rescue Mission for the homeless people. But some nights, it just gets thrown away. We aren't allowed to take it out of the Dome, it goes in the garbage. So...I put two pretzels in my purse to bring to the little kids...but we gave them to a homeless man pushing a shopping cart down the road. He seemed very grateful.

He wished us a Happy Holiday, and my niece said, "Happy Thanksgiving!", then clapped her hand over her mouth...that man doesn't have much of a chance of a happy Thanksgiving. The sad part is that he seemed mentally challenged, and it isn't fair that he fell through the cracks somehow and ended up out on a cold night, pushing a grocery cart with all his worldly goods in it.

I'm glad I broke the rules and those pretzels will fill his tummy instead of being at the bottom of the trash bag with the rest of the leftovers.

I am home now, obviously, and the house is quiet. Tomorrow is Pie Day, and Mali is coming over. We are having hummus and tortilla chips and queso cheese sauce and veggies, and some other snacks. Mali is a vegetarian, and since she can't be here on Thanksgiving because she's a nurse who doesn't have it off, I wanted to get her some things she would eat and enjoy.

And, we will be making pies.

Black Friday: I don't think I'll go out this year. I have already bought some stuff online, and there isn't that much I would want to go out into the crowds to buy. Years ago, I would look at all the ads, go into the 24 hour Walmart at like 4 a.m., fill the cart with stuff that I would price match from Toys R Us, and RiteAid and Walgreens. Then when Walmart's sale started, I would just send Abigail over to grab stuff while I waited with the cart. It seemed worth it, but the crowds have gotten bigger, and people seem pushier, although I honestly have had mostly good experiences with people on Black Friday trips.

I had an interesting experience this fine morning. I got up and was doing things, and Margaret was getting ready for school. She was just being herself, but I felt she was a bit rude. I was yakking about this weird dream I had (I dreamed that Emily bought us a huge amazing house, each room more spacious and lovely than the last, but the town it was in was so strange....there was a huge megaphone/sound system that played intermittent reminders for all sorts of things,it was like living in a vast airport (do not leave luggage unattended!), but it was mixed in with advertisements, like a really loud radio one couldn't change the channel of. In the dream, no one else minded this sound system. I was livid about it! I went to the town board and requested a meeting about it, and they just brushed me off and said there was no town meeting until at least next March, besides, everyone likes the megaphone!) (Why I have such weird dreams is beyond me) Anyway, I was telling Margaret about this dream, and she was basically ignoring me (but I do think I might be a tiny bit responsible for her forgetting her project)...and....and I felt like an idiot. I felt bad. Then Evelyn got up, and said something to me that I didn't appreciate....and oh, the thoughts that came flooding in! I am just sick and tired of being nice to everyone just so they can be mean to me! Done! No more!

Then Margaret texted and asked me to please bring her project in, she forgot it. And then I had this huge revelation! If I had been awake each and every time I had gotten offended at the way someone was toward me, and said NO to my own sin, and had overcome in each of those situations, then it wouldn't have snowballed into me feeling so hugely wronged! And surprise surprise, when she texted and I was tempted to say Too Bad Baby, guess what I heard clearly? not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good....(romans 12:21) Oh what a perfect opportunity to just bless and be good and forgive and forget!!!

But, I decided to talk to a few particular daughters of mine too, because they need to be more respectful, regardless.:)

Oh I do go is very very late, and I am very very tired...

Monday, November 24, 2014

cookies and fudge!

My life seems to revolve around food sometimes, and this time of year it is especially bad. Today, for example...I helped in the kitchen at church....we had a turkey dinner. I made the gravy and sliced the turkey and tossed the cubed sweet potatoes in olive oil,salt and pepper, and roasted them. Emily did the shopping and planning, I just helped out. She made the stuffing and engineered the mashed red potatoes, but Sonja and Irene did the manual labor. After all, mashed 'tatoes for 90 people is hard work. There were rolls (no, I didn't.) I had a heaping plate of green beans with almonds, lots of the sweet potatoes, and turkey.

Dessert: Evelyn made dessert shooters, which is basically when you layer stuff in clear plastic cups:) She made crust with crushed pretzels, melted butter, and brown sugar...then layered it with chocolate pudding and whipped cream. I had only a spoonful, and yum. I did however had a piece of pumpkin pie, but left the crust on the plate, yup, I wasted food, shh.

Anyway, I came home this afternoon and made a triple batch of chocolate chip cookies. Between taking them out of the oven and putting more in, I cut up the five pound pan of fudge I made yesterday. I packed up a nice box of goodies for Samuel, as he has to stay there on the Army base for Thanksgiving. I will send out the box in the morning, and hope he gets it in time....

And I was able to taste only a tiny bit of dough, yay me, but then the cookies...oh they came out so yum. I had a piece of one and another and another, probably like three cookies all together, dang it. I do make good cookies though.

Aaron came over for a visit this evening, and had a few....I can't explain fully how glad I am when I have something yummy like freshly baked cookies when one of the kids drops by.

Paul is home. He is so exhausted, jet-lagged. He will be feeling like himself by probably Wednesday or Thursday, and is leaving again....on Saturday, I think. I will be leaving the following Saturday, so he will get home before I get home....

My head is spinning with thoughts, Christmas gifts and traveling details and Thanksgiving ingredients, plus things like vehicles that need inspections and kittens that need to go to the vet and a certain dog who needs his nails trimmed...exercise I need to do, and walks I need to take, cupboards I need to organize. Fabric I have to buy so that gifts I can make, and decorations I have to get out, so the house I can make cozy. Cleaning I have to do, and a new garbage can I have to shop for, and dentist appointments I have to take kids to. Two girls need talking to because of the way they talked to one of their sisters, and school work needs to be seen to, and and and and and....oh, and Sam wants me to send him a hard drive from an x-box 360. I can't forget that. Bills and appointments and projects swirl around me like a dark cloud....

Procrastinators suffer. The non-procrastinators...we shall call them heretofor: smug people. The smug people ask why we put things off. Why not just Do It. Why not? Now, if I knew the answer to that, I would also be a smug people, not a procrastinator! jeepers.

I think it's because when you put things off because you just don't want to deal with it, because you hate making phone calls or you just plain have a little more time before something HAS to be done....and when you finally do it, you feel like you have really accomplished something! A little party, please! I finally made that appointment!

Not that anyone really likes being a procrastinator. No sir, it is just how some of us are. And tomorrow is as good a day as any.

Rambling is what I do shows how tired I am. The whole family is all snuggled into their beds, I am up with kitty kitten. She is finished attacking my feet, and is looking up at me...purring. I think she is looking for a nice spot to take a kitty nap.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

a dark cold day with no power....

Oh the plans I had for today! I won't bore you with the details, but...the power went out. No power, no water. So no washing dishes or doing laundry. No shower. No coffee. Thankfully Evelyn had made some, but only a little.

Abigail picked up the little ones and headed to a birthday party for their cousin William, but the rest of us congregated in the living room and discussed our options. We could go into town for coffee, or we could stay home and think about coffee. We got our coats on.

And...when we got home with our coffee, the power was back on. Phew. Pioneers we aren't.

I have a roast in the oven, and Evelyn is putting in some sweet potatoes. It smells yummy in here. Some of the older kids are heading to the Dome for an ice hockey game, I am not working at this one because...Paul is coming home tonight! I have missed him so much. I must say though, the nice thing about him going away for so long so often is....the anticipation of him coming home again...!

Evelyn and I wrapped Christmas presents today! Now, before you go getting all impressed, let me just say this: I only have stuff for the littler ones who are extremely easy to buy for. I have been putting gifts in the back of the lovely Big Van, which hasn't been driven in a year yet is still parked in the driveway. Char asked why there are Target bags in there. I told her not to peek, Santa is hiding presents in there. Now I wasn't born yesterday and I know that telling a child not to peek is pretty much like telling them they absolutely should peek at their earliest opportunity.

I have nothing yet for Emily, Abigail, Benjamin - Ashley - Anya, Mirielle, Joseph, Aaron, Mali, Samuel, Margaret, thing for Evelyn, nothing for Suzanne, Sonja....just things for the three youngest, and one thing for Kap and Karl (Kathryn and Suzanne) to share.

Oh, and I got something for Paul.

But I still feel accomplished that we wrapped presents before Thanksgiving.

Samuel cannot come home for Thanksgiving or Christmas this year. I am sad about that, but I am also so excited about the holidays! Thanksgiving...Aaron and Mali have to work, and with Ben out west and Sam in Washington D.C., 12 of the kids will be here. We are keeping it simple...turkey and gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, squash, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, and green beans. Pies: 2 pumpkin, 2 apple, 1 banana cream, 1 coconut cream, 2 chocolate, 1 lemon meringue, and one pecan. (my mother-in-law sent me pecans from Georgia, so I thought I would surprise Mirielle with a pecan pie, but Sonja told her about the pecans that came in the mail)

I want to decorate for Christmas, but we will wait until after Thanksgiving.

We have had a frozen week. There is snow on the ground, and it looks Christmas-y. There is ice on the deck, and the driveway is slippery. But, tomorrow is going to warm up, and by Monday it may hit 60 degrees (15.5C). Spring! And then it will get cold again and perhaps snow on Thanksgiving.

I have not gone on walks at all. I do not like slipping and sliding down the hills. I do not like walking during hunting season either, especially because a hunting club has bought some of the land down the road where I walk.

But maybe Monday I will get out there for a bit. I just won't wear my hat with the antlers on it.

Friday, November 21, 2014

how to be a cool and popular mom....

First of all, read the books your teenagers read. Talk to them about the books, omitting any comments that contain the words, "duh", "lame", or "obviously written for young adults". When they put on some music in the car, bob your head a little to the beat and pretend you know the words, or at least that you totally get the message of the song. Understand that your teenagers do not think that stopping at DunkinDonuts is a waste of money. Frappes and mochas and all of those other drinks that weren't invented yet back when I grew up while dinosaurs roamed the earth are totally worth four or five bucks each. If you want your teenagers to have fun with you, then go ahead, stop at McDonalds! You don't have to actually eat the food, but a quick way to their hearts is to let them order a thing or two from the dollar menu!

And, most important, after reading the books they read, when those books are made into movies, take them on opening night! Shriek with delight and anticipation, right along with them, and when that movie is over, clap your heart out. It doesn't matter if you loved it or not, you had fun with your kids, and they think you are totally cool!

Now that I have written this, let me say this: thankfully, I don't have to pretend to enjoy any of it, because I like books, I like movies based on books, and I love hanging out with my teenagers.

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.....