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, March 2, 2015

lazy sunday afternoon....

Camille woke up with a fever this morning. I made her hot tea with honey and milk and put it in a sippy cup so she could lie on the couch and watch cartoons with it. Charlotte Claire joined her, but wanted her tea in a regular mug. I scooped both of those girls up onto my lap and they sat with me in my chair for a while.

Jonathan was invited over to a friend's house this afternoon, and I had girls where who wanted to go out and about. We had no church today because there was a conference, which Joseph went to. Anyway, we dropped Jon off, then went to...Kohl's. I had shoes to return. I like browsing around looking for things. I found: sneakers for Jonathan, Reebok, regularly $60 for $17, beautiful dresses for the princesses for $6.50 each, an adorable coat to send to Anya, and a few things to put away for Kathryn's birthday, which she picked out herself.

Then to the grocery store...Sonja remembered that you can order fries and onion rings at the fish department, I had two onion rings on the way home, but no fries.

Home...I put chicken in the oven that had been marinating in the fridge, put on some rice to boil, and microwaved some green beans, and some mixed veggies. We also had a few loaves of fresh soft peasant bread from the store...I ate a tiny piece of the end slice with butter....oh heavenly yum. Bread is simply the best, but if it made one thin, I wouldn't be where I am today.

Tomorrow: basketball game. Tuesday: a little trip out of town with my sister-in-law Kim. Then Saturday, Paul leaves for France, and I head over to the Dome to work at the Monster Jam...

And blah blah blah, as my father used to say. It is now Mundane morning, and my life is so exciting! Even Camille knows how thrilling things have been around here lately. She was hopping around the kitchen this morning, listing off the amazing things that have happened lately:

1." First," she said, "we got a new garbage can!"

2. "You bought a new mop!"

3." We moved the microwave to a different counter!"

4. "Then we won a loaf of bread from Price Chopper! Can we go there today and get it?"

Ha, the loaf of bread. I also won a muffin. They're having a sweepstakes game, and I am collecting the stickers and putting them in the little booklet...of course I have only one or two that I still need in all the categories, which I seriously doubt I am going to come across. Well, last night I was sticking my newest stickers in, and the little girls joined me in my comfy chair. We speculated on where we would go on our free $10,000 vacation or what we would do if we won the $20,000 home makeover. I pointed out that I wouldn't mind winning the new car, but Cam would prefer the XBox One. I would probably win something boring like free gas for a year.

It was kind of mean of me to get them all excited, they really think we're going to win. I had my older girls feeling sorry for me last week, because I pretended I thought we were really going to win something, and I saw them looking at each other, conveying that, "Poor Mom" glance.

The other night, one of my girls gave me a hard time about something. I'll spare the details, but later that night, she texted me and apologized. She said she was thankful for Dad and I, and all we do for her. Is there joy that can compare to what I felt?

Jon, Char, and Cam have colds. Not terribly bad ones, but those little fevers seemed to be the onset. I don't have a fever, but my eyes hurt, and my head aches terribly. When I turn my head too fast, the room spins...which to some degree is normal for me, I have too much fluid in my ears. I think I may have the cold too, but it is all in my head, ha, not my imagination.

My very favorite cashier at P. Chopper is moving to a different store, tomorrow is her last day. Big deal, you might say. But this girl, she is a treasure. She is so simple and sincere, and very lovely in an unconventional way. She is a little bit slow, perhaps, but she has a huge heart. She told me that she's leaving because she has a brother with special needs, she needs to spend more time with him and help him more, and working closer to home will help. She said that she wants to leave this world better than she came into it, and wants to be an example in her life. She wants to get treasures in heaven, and not spend her time on herself. I believe with all my heart that I will see this girl again eternity.

Ah well, school time.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

way back when and other important things...

Way back when I was senior picture...

Miss Char has a low grade fever today, and is feeling blah. She had Jon's winter coat on...our house isn't THAT cold.

Selfies with Sonja K. We had to wait for Paul in the car, at the airport...but did we get bored?

No, we did not.

I spend a few hours with a 12 year old, and I am twelve too.

Today, I cleaned my house. I woke up at 7:30, and nary a soul was around except for Kitty and the pups. I fed them and let them out and back in, then wiped down my kitchen cupboards. I have been getting that spring-y renovations bug lately, and have googled AND oogled kitchen cabinets that have been re-done...specifically, painted gray. I don't think I have the patience or the energy to do the whole thing though, or a sander:). So I decided to do what I CAN do to make the house nicer. I moved the microwave to a different counter, swept and mopped and sorted through piles of papers. I shined appliances and put things where they belong. I worked in that kitchen until at least noon.

I have ideas. I want to get rid of my red plaid couch and chair. I don't like the red in the living room, never did. I would like to recover them, but...I would also hate to. ha. If I could just snap my fingers.

I am thinking of a smaller couple of comfy chairs, in gray. Maybe a different rug, some different pillows on the couches...just to change things up.

We'll see. It is nice when I am motivated to do things around here. At least today I didn't have to leave to go anywhere.

Paul took me out to dinner this evening....oh it was nice. Kathryn deserves a million bucks, she stayed here and made taco salad for the younger kids while her sisters went out to a gathering. (Joseph is at a conference.) We went to dinner at a nice place in town, I had strip steak and fries and steamed veggies...carrots and broccoli. And split pea soup instead of a was hot and delicious. Paul had chicken breast stuffed with lobster. It was enough for like three people. We saved our leftovers, of course, and will have a nice lunch tomorrow, shared with lots of kids, of course.

The kids are all cozy in the living room watching a Barbie movie. Camille is cuddled up to Daddy:)

Abigail took Jonathan out to lunch today for their annual Valentine's Day date, a little late. I just get a kick out of how much fun they have together. And how none of the other kids said, No Fair.

It's good to have Paul home again, however briefly. I do like him:)

Friday, February 27, 2015


And Paul is coming home tonight! I am leaving for the airport soon to pick him up. It is clear and cold, which is fine for this girl who is sick and tired of driving in snow. It looks just fine, but driving in it is nervewracking. Especially driving down the N.Y. Thruway, with all the invincible tractor trailers.

The kids went out to play today, they were out there for quite a while. The Duplos are still out, they keep playing with those too. They did some school work this afternoon, and now are allowed to play some video games if they want.

We had a ten-minute-tidy, which was a lot longer for Mommy. I vacuumed the stairs and foyer, and the furniture, and the edges of the kitchen and living room. I had to operate on the vacuum cleaner, and discovered a popsicle stick stuck in the hose, with all sorts of goodies backed up behind it. I vacuumed under the refrigerator, and had Camille take the plastic grill into the bathtub and clean it up. I washed up the top of the stove, and the tiles behind it, and did some dishes. Suzanne took the glass globes off from one of the kitchen light fixtures and washed them, put them back up. Kathryn took out lots of garbage, and I mopped the floor. I straightened up my room, and made some dinner. The kids had chicken patties, yuck, but they LOVE them. I had a bowl of green beans with sliced tomatoes and some turkey, lots of pepper. It was good, but I find myself thinking of the cookie dough in the 'fridge, but NO. I will not.

I was up and out the door early this morning...I had to pick up my brother Bob at 7:30 for a dr. appointment. Emily let me use her car while she is in France and Norway, which is sweet, because it is an all-wheel drive Suzuki, and I love driving it. The heat in it actually works, too, which is a bonus. I waited in the waiting room for a while, just zoned out and relaxed, then we went to his next appointment. I flipped through a few magazines, looking to see what new strollers are out...I would like to get Mali something really light and easy...

The kids are not actually playing video games. They have an adding machine that I bought at the thrift store a while ago, and since then have gotten them some paper for it. They are playing store. Jon asked me how much a can of coffee costs. They are so funny, they have the shopping carts out, and lots of plastic bags. I love that they are still little enough to play.

Anyway, off I go...time to leave to get Paul...yay!!!! It's the good part of him travelling so much...:)

Thursday, February 26, 2015

just a quiet thursday afternoon....

1. 13 of my kids have been here today. Well, 9 live here and four stopped in (Emily, Mirielle, Aaron, and Mali Rose).

2. Mirielle stopped in to bring Emily and Margaret to the airport...they are going to France, and to Norway for a few weeks.

3. The only kids I haven't seen today and probably won't are Abigail, Benjamin on the west coast, and Samuel in D.C./Arlington.


5. They're learning, right?

6. The three youngest went out to play in the snow today, too.

7. I don't feel well today. Blame it on letting two princesses sleep with of whom walked up me all night, and Jon, who has a croupy-ish cough woke me up at dawn, afraid he couldn't breathe. He could. I sent him out to the deck for a few minutes in the cold air, then had him turn on the hot water in my shower and sit in the bathroom for a few minutes...

8. I also blame not feeling well on a spectacularly horrible period. Awful. Cramps, blah. I just want to crawl into my bed and never come out. My face broke out and the whole nine yards. And chocolate, how I love thee. Last evening when I was here all by my lonesome for a little while, I remembered there was a piece of a dark chocolate/cinnamon/pecan bar from Wegman's in my purse. It's not there anymore.:)

9. The kids are finishing off the ice cream cake I made the other day. It is to DIE for. Caramel, cookie crumbles, fudge, real homemade frosting...the mint stuff, oh dear heavenly goodness. Evelyn was serving, and I asked for some...then I decided to listen to that little tiny squeaky voice in my head that wants to be skinny, and I told Ev to Never Mind. I really don't want any, I lied.

10. I will be glad when that whole evil thing is all gone.

11. The weather is nice enough to go bye-bye and return the boatload of overdue library books, but I feel so BLAH. Add in running to the bathroom every hour to prevent a disaster, and naw, I think I will stay in today.

12. Mali was here today, and she has a nice little tummy.

13. My feet are cold. Aaron and I were talking about warm places. I tried to talk him into driving down to Florida with me to visit Grandma, but he balked at the long drive. Abigail still wants to go, although I think Paul is just plain travelled-out.

14. My two girls who are in public school are home now, Evelyn and Sonja K.. I think I will go and talk to them now, perhaps make a pot of coffee...

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

home again...but phew, that was fun!!!

Miss Camille and I...

We had the pool all to ourselves...Sonja 12, Jonathan 10, Charlotte Claire 8, and Camille four youngest, went with me. I would have taken a few more of them, but the minivan was in the shop. I was ready to call the whole thing off because of that van, but Kathryn assured me that she was totally fine if she didn't get to go, Suze too. They said they would stay home with Joseph, and Evelyn, and that we could just go with the little kids because they were so excited to go...

So we did.

And it was interesting, going with just those four younger ones of mine. It was like having a small family. It was only 25% of my kids:) When there are older kids, sometimes the younger ones don't get as much attention. And this worked out wonderfully, because Miss Sonja K. and I had a great time together.

This was taken from the room where the pool and hot tub are at the hotel...oh the contrast between the frigid day outside and that warm humid room.

Miss Char enjoyed fixing cups of tea for herself.

Both of these girls enjoyed the breakfast...those Belgium waffles, with strawberries and whipped cream. Scrambled eggs and bacon (what I had, along with a "diet" yogurt with berries and raisins...and a little whipped cream:)). As we walked down to breakfast I said to them, "Remember, take what you will eat and eat what you take...", and they already know this so they said it along with me. I don't think it's nice to waste food, but I also don't force them to eat it if they really don't want to. I just want them to be conscious of not just taking a bunch and wasting it. If they really like something, they can always go get more.

This little guy, my ten year old Jonathan, is a sweetheart. He is like a little adult, in so many ways, yet he simply delights in things like this little trip. He had it all mapped out on his tablet, and told me where and when to turn. He likes to have the room key, and he got to sleep in one of the beds for the first time ever, he has always gotten the floor on hotel trips.

Sonja and I enjoyed watching the Duggar family on 19 Kids and Counting. We were fascinated at this family so much like ours, yet so different. We only have three less children than they, yet their house is easily twice the size. Their laundry room...never mind. We agreed that Jim Bob is too bossy. If a girl is old enough to "court", is she not old enough to be trusted to behave herself? Do they not believe in victory over sin at all? To send the little siblings along to spy for, it seems strange.

Anyway, to each his own I guess.

Our little getaway was refreshing and relaxing. Spending time with Sonja was time extremely well spent. She is the fifth girl in the five-girls-in-a-row-in-five-years. Margaret 18, just graduated and is going to France tomorrow with Emily, then to Norway a week. Kathryn 16 is more outgoing, she WILL get her attention. Plus, she homeschools this year and has lots of time with me. Evelyn 15 is full of drama. When she is around, she will not be ignored:). Suzanne also homeschools this year, so I see her more. She tends to be quiet, but she is very thoughtful. Then there is Sonja. She is SO funny, quick with the jokes, and also she is clumsy. She slips and drops things and bumps into things. A few years back one of her brothers started this, "Sonja's home!" thing when there was a crash or something broke. She laughs at herself too, and readily acknowledges that she is clumsy. She is also lovely....

Anyway, it was nice to get away and bond with the younger ones. We really had a nice time. It's probably good we don't do this too often, they so appreciate it and I wouldn't want them to get spoiled and not delight in it the way they do.

Home....I walked in the door with groceries, had to stop on the way home for dog food. I also got strawberries and apples and cereal and turkey breast and crackers. After putting away the groceries and sweeping and mopping and hanging up wet bathing suits and unpacking bags and straightening up, it was time to make dinner...we had taco salad, and pasta, and kielbasa, and strawberries. There were 12 of us here, so we each got three. There are a few leftover ones, I think I get dibs on them. I hate rationing things out, but if I don't, there will be someone who doesn't get any. Shh, but it has happened more than once through the years that we would be at the table eating dinner, and one of the kids would walk into the dining room and be like, "Seriously? No one told me we were eating!"...and oops, we didn't notice. Or one of the other kids will say, "Mom, I TOLD you that such-and-such wasn't here, and you didn't listen to me!" I do have superior drowning-things-out skills. It's a coping mechanism. How can I remember the salt and pepper and the spoons and napkins and to thicken the soup and way back then, take care of a baby and a toddler...AND listen to everything everyone said to me?

Anyway. One my most embarrassing moments was because I tuned someone out when she was telling me something that had happened in school. Abigail was in fifth grade. Now, in my defense, she was like ten years old. I was pregnant for our ninth child, Margaret, and Sam was only a year old. So I was busy. Anyway. Abigail won a pencil in school, for some reason that I forget now. She did tell me. She said she did. She said she did when her teacher asked me at Open House if Abigail told me about the pencil, and I said, "No, she didn't.", and Abigail said, "Mommy, I did too tell you!" The teacher just smiled at me...but I knew what she was thinking. I tried so hard to make it look like I could handle things. I wouldn't want the teachers to know the truth, I was in way over my head! I couldn't keep track of everything! Permission slips and lunches and sneakers on gym days! Valentine's cards and cupcakes for class parties and library books and signing and returning those pesky report cards! It was too much! I got through it one day at a time. I made sure they got to school well fed and neat and clean and brushed, with nice clothes on....while the house was a tornado. I couldn't do it all! And when I got the chance, I left this tornado of a house and took them on adventures. Which got me further behind here, but life is short.

Anyway. Life is still short, but it certainly is much easier now. While floating in the pool with only four very well-behaved children, I had this sudden longing for all of my children, back when they were all young and all needed Mommy so much. It was too quiet, too easy...these kids of mine had a wonderful childhood. There was always someone to play with. When I took them on little getaways, or even just to the beach, they had each other.

I am sitting here in the quiet...the dogs are snoring, the dryer is running, but other than that, just the sound of my keyboard. The kids are at activity club. Any minute now they will come bounding in the door with their stories of what they made or heard or did or had for snack...and these days, I listen.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015


We did it! We hit the road! We are on a one-nighter! And we have arrived at the hotel...

Our room is super nice, it is a two room suite, with two televisions, a microwave and refrigerator....and, there are cookies and hot drinks in the coffee...AND, a heated pool, AND a hot tub.

We are going down to the pool right now....yay!! I love my house, but it sure is nice to get out of it for one night!!!

Monday, February 23, 2015

birthday girl!

Miss Suzanne Eleanor, 14 years old today. It was a terrible day, weather wise. School was cancelled. The roads were bad. was Suze's birthday. She said it was okay if we didn't go anywhere, but I knew she was hopeful.

So..we went to the Chinese buffet. Her choice. As per usual, I felt that our Big Van is parked permanently in the driveway, I can only bring six kids with me when I go out and about...unless we double-buckle...but even that option was out today, as our minivan is in the shop. I had to drop it off in town today, and the roads were not fun, ice packed with white-outs from the blowing snow. The snowbanks are high, the wind blows across them, plus more snow was falling today. I did not want to go out and about. But. I did, and we are alive to tell about it.

We drove the Bravada, which is good in the snow, but can only fit five. The girls have their cousin Olivia here, so I brought Suzanne and Kathryn, Olivia, and Evelyn. My heart broke for Sonja, she had a snow day from school and really wanted to go.

We went to Kohl's first, and I let Suze pick out a few things for her birthday, because...even though her birthday comes on the same day every year, it sneaked up on me somehow. I wasn't prepared. She found a sweatshirt, a flannel shirt, and a pair of sneakers. They were all on clearance, of course, but are very nice. They all started rallying to go to Chinese for lunch. I tried to remind them how awful we feel after we eat there, and how we have vowed to never eat there again. They were undaunted, and since it was Suzanne's birthday, we went. They think they're funny, and one of them asked if they could get soda instead of water, which we simply don't do in our family, :), and I said, "no", unless it comes with it. It didn't, so we had water. And hot tea.

These girls are silly. They are loud and funny when I made a pig nose at one of them for going up for thirds, right as a lady from another table looked our way...I looked at her with my pig nose, and I think she might have thought I was making it at her.

The bad thing is that when they are laughing, I can't help but join in. I forget that I am old. That is precisely why it is so much fun to be with them.

Winter, how I hate thee.
Your sparkle deceives,
Your ice is a snare.
We're captives but we
soon will be free,
to wander the yard in barefeet.
That knowledge of that hope,
makes you weak...
You battered and blew
and still are not through
but spring will come soon,
and rescue me.

Anyway. Tonight is going to be another cold one. -13 F (-25C), not including the windchill. brrr. The good news is that it should warm up to 20 by the afternoon. Paul called tonight from Florida. He at lunch outside. He had dinner at a restaurant and ate outside. He said he drove with the windows down in the car. rrr. Naw, I am glad for him. And it is not all fun and games, he was still doing work at 9:30.

Okay. I may get the prize for Worst Birthday Mom, but I did manage to make a yummy ice cream pie/cake for her.

Two packages of Oreos, crumbled and crushed, mixed with a stick of melted butter (I did set aside a cup of the crumbs to sprinkle on top). Spread in the bottom of a big pan, mine is 18" by 24". I think. Anyway, I used three cartons of ice cream, slightly softened. I used mint choco-chip on one end, fudge ripple in the middle, then dark chocolate on the other end. I added caramel to the top of the fudge ripple, and a little bit drizzled on the chocolate. I sprinkled the extra crumbs all over it, then some chocolate sprinkles. Waxed paper then foil, and into the big freezer. Then I made homemade frosting: half a stick of butter, some shortening, about a pound of powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk...I used half and half this time.

Yum. I had a very tiny bit in a very small little container, like two tablespoons. It was TOO GOOD.

We put candles in it and sang to was a small gathering, for our house. Evelyn had left with a friend to go to the bookstore (and she brought home a gift for Suze), and Margaret went to visit her cousin Audrey who is watching my niece's two niece is in the hospital recuperating from surgery due to complications of Crohn's disease. (poor Kate, she is the sweetest girl, my sister's oldest daughter. She is a childhood cancer survivor, and is a fighter! We are hoping and praying that she will feel better now than she has in a while, her surgeon assured her it went well and she would start feeling better soon:))

The little girls were all excited about the ice cream cake and the birthday song, and the little gift bag with the travel mug, a bag of Valentine's candy (yummy mixed chocolates), and a box of Valentine Fun Dip. And a flash light. Hey, what can I say, I am running out of gifts in my gift closet.

Margaret and Sonja and Joseph stayed home with Jonathan, Char, and Camille today. They hung blankets over the windows and in the livingroom doorways so they could watch a movie in the dark. Margaret and Sonja made them brunch, and Camille had to call me to tell me how much fun they were having. Char actually told me to take my time and not hurry home. What nice big sisters they have.

Margaret's interview is rescheduled for tomorrow morning.

If the van is fixed soon enough in the day, we will attempt our little hotel night get-away.

I really really hope so...the hot tub and heated pool sound heavenly right now. My fingers are so cold I can barely type. Blah blah the snow is pretty and winter is wonderful, but seriously? Who on earth actually enjoys cold hands? And cold toes! If I didn't have my electric blanket rigged up on these freezing nights, my feet would never warm up! I would just try to put them on new warm places on my opposite legs all night, and never get them warm. I have socks and slipper on now, and a comforter over my feet, and they are still cold. My nose is cold. I know, I know, there are colder places, there are homeless people, I shouldn't complain.

Snow. It is heavy and cold and when the wind blows it off the snowbanks and down my collar when I am cleaning off the car in the morning....and when I open the car door to get the snowbrush and the snow from the roof falls all over the seat in the car....and when I drop my phone in the snow....and when the newspaper gets thrown in the driveway because our paper box is long buried...and when I have to shovel to get the door open...and when the recycling bin is totally submerged under a few feet of snow...and when the dogs fuss to go out and come back in covered in snow like ten times a day....and when the heat works sporadically on two of our vehicles and not at all in one...the minivan has heat only in the front....and when it's so cold the wipers are frozen to the windshield, and the heat isn't working, and I have to manically scrape the ice from the insides of the windows while I try to drive...when carrying in groceries, up those snow covered deck steps...when successfully backing out of our own driveway is like a victory...when I realize my muscles are as tight as when I am sitting in the dentist chair, simply driving down the road trying to see through a white out...then in all honesty, I can say, I hate winter. Sure, there is beauty. There is exhilaration in going out to shovel on a freezing winter night, with the stars shining and the wind howling. There is something robust about going out and shoveling. The trees branches weighed down with snow are breathtaking. And when the snow piles up more and more, it can be exciting. We can almost jump right off the side of our deck these days, right into the ever-deeper snow.

And that's my I Hate Winter Rant of the day.