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, April 20, 2015

the good things in life....

Good food. I try. Fruits and veggies and meat...a little bit of dairy (half and half in my coffee, and occasional yogurt...) There are all sorts of regimens and programs out there, but I am just trying to stay away from sugars and grains. I never thought, a few years ago, that I could live without bread. But here I am, alive and happy.

Don't get me wrong, I did crack into the chocolate from France...honestly, Paul hugged me and said, "Sweets for the sweet." And they were sweet. Lots of my kids were here from their weekend away in Ottowa, so I had help...thankfully! I know better than to open a bar of European chocolate when I am here by my lonesome.

Yesterday was a brilliantly beautiful day! We had blue skies and the sixties anyway. It was a day for hanging clothes out to dry, and putting on shorts to get a little color on my shockingly white chunky legs. The princesses have had their cousin Dani here for the weekend, and they have been playing in the woods. They set up a campsite in the woods, because they got lost from their real they have made a bed of grasses near the creek, and have buckets and an old tin pail, and made a spinning wheel from an old stroller wheel...what they need to spin at a campsite is beyond me, but they have been having a blast out there. Muddy girls. I visited and admired their site, then we tromped through the yard and marveled at the bike that grew into a tree. Actually, the tree grew in the middle of the bike tire, but either way, it's pretty cool. It's in the way back yard, and I guess it's what happens when one leaves a bike out in nature.

Paul joined us outside. He was foraging for edibles. He has been reading about the different plants that grow naturally and how they are healthy...he was like a little kid when he discovered something he had been looking for. Here, taste this, he would say. Um, it tastes like grass. He said it was really good for you. It TASTES really good for you. Anyway. He is funny. He thinned the raspberry bushes and planted the blueberries I got him for his birthday. The girls and I got rakes and shovels and helped the creek flow better. I was mud up to the ankles. The dogs were horrid, they slopped through the creek, and would even lie right down in it. They were so muddy! They weren't allowed in the house all day, until I gave them baths, which I finally did. Duke is so good, he climbed right into the tub and sat down. I told him over and over what a good boy he is, he loves me. Outside, he would follow me EVERYWHERE. If I walked ten feet, he got up, followed me, and would lie down again. Paul realized what he was doing, and told me to walk over a bit...and sure enough, Duke got up, walked over to me, sat down, then settled with his head on his paws...keeping an eye on me. He did it for the entire day. It didn't matter if Paul was wandering around in the woods, Duke stayed with me. I hadn't realized before how much he is MY dog, and believe me, I appreciate it. It makes me happy.

We also cleaned under the deck. I asked Paul if we please could, it's a big job for just me, and Paul is a better helper than the kids...he didn't complain about it at all. And believe me, there was plenty that COULD be complained about...I mean, if your mirror breaks, do you just put the broken mirror under the deck for the glass to fall all over? Apparently. Anyway, we got it all cleaned up, and it made me happy.

We had broiled steak for was a cheap cut, of course, London Broil, so I marinated it first. Paul doesn't like commercial dressings or marinades with soy in them, so I made my own...a splash of white vinegar, some olive oil, an egg, and some roast beef seasoning, lots of pepper, and a pinch of salt. It was pretty yummy. We had it with lots of different veggies...but no potatoes or rice or bread.

People think religion is hard and heavy and rules-y. But when one is thankful, is that hard and heavy? When one chooses to judge oneself instead of others, is that heavy? How about when one chooses to bless instead of curse. Or not return evil for evil...or to overcome evil with good....or to not be anxious for tomorrow...or to trust in the Lord with all of their heart and not lean on their own it hard and heavy to live like that? Is it difficult to be with someone who lives like that? Absolutely not! More and more and more, I am enjoying my husband. He simply will not let the cares of this life weigh him down. He fights against complaining and unthankfulness, and he is a joy to be with. The way he lives is such an encouragement to believe with all of my heart that each and every trial that comes my way is weighed and measured, and is for my absolute best. God knows what I need, and He will never leave me or forsake me.

It doesn't magically make everything easy-peasy. It's a fight to say NO to sin. But it's a fight well worth fighting! Jesus said, "Follow me!" His yoke is easy and His burden is light. Lying and backbiting and lusting after money and people and power and being miserable and discontent and worrying...who wants to be bound by those things? not me. I am so thankful that God has been so good to me...when I see my kids grow up and choose to follow Him, to live purely...I get a glimpse how it must be for God when I make good choices...

Life is short. When I stand before Him on that day, I certainly won't wish I had been mean and backbitten more. I won't wish I had had more money and a bigger cleaner house, or that I had aged well and looked spiffy. If I have any regrets standing there, they will certainly be that I wasn't faithful to that still small voice from heaven...that would speak to my heart about my own behavior...

So today will be a good day. Camille is up now, lying on the couch with a book. It is rainy today, and I have already been out and about, driving Jonathan and Kathryn to my brother's house to watch one of his grandchildren while he has eye surgery. Char is still in bed, I will have to make sure she isn't on her tablet, it IS a school day. Jon and Kap will have to make it up later.:)

Suze is still in bed too. Seven of my kids went to Ottowa for the weekend to baby sit for families there as their church had a big feast...hard to explain, but my kids came home with all their babysitting stories, and were blessed so much.

Anyway...time to get moving...

Friday, April 17, 2015

spring is in the air!!!!

Baseball! I don't love the game, shh, that doesn't mean I am not a good American...I don't hate it though. If I lived the rest of my life without ever seeing a game, I wouldn't even notice. But if I sit there and watch, I can get into it. But working at the stadium today was an adventure. The warm weather and one dollar sodas and hot dogs, and two dollar beer...brought the crowds.

The crowds are nice people. Most of them are happy about spring time. Happy about being at the ball park. Happy to get a hot dog for a buck. But SOME people are just miserable. Today, in fact, I had Mr. Miserable himself in my line to get beer. (The beer taps are right on the counters next to the cash registers, so we have to pour beer for customers ourselves.) Mr. M was a big-ish guy with a big-ish mouth. He was loudly accusing a small-ish timid looking guy of cutting in line. Now, this line cutter didn't look like he had a clue. I think he just ordered out of turn accidentally because he was a stuttering sort of kid, a little hunched over, glasses...not to judge or anything, but he didn't get the Most Outgoing Award in high school. Anyway. Mr M. was really going after this guy about budging, getting loud about it, too. I did not like it, not one little bit. So I told Mr. M to cool it, that it wasn't a big deal, that the other guy didn't mean to do it. He wasn't calming down, and the alleged line cutter looked miserable, like he was fighting tears...his eyes were opened wide, like he was scared, and it looked like tears were going to start rolling down his cheeks. It made me seriously mad at Mr. M. So I blurted out, "I am his Mom, leave him alone!"

I can't stop marveling at myself. What in the capital H possessed me to claim to be this guy's mother? Let's analyze....

1. I have strong maternal instincts, and when I saw this bullying, I pictured it happening to one of my sons.

2. Bullying is despicable, and cannot be tolerated.

3. I tried reasoning, but it didn't work.

4. Perhaps I made it a teeny bit more awkward for the shy guy, he took his change and thanked me, but seemed really embarrassed.

5. Seriously though? The other people in line were just going to stand there and let that big Mr. Miserable be pushy and mean?

6. I still can't believe I said I was his mom.

7. My hands were shaking so badly, I do not like confrontations. Not at all.

8. Even thinking about it now upsets me.

Anyway. It was busy and crowded...we worked for almost seven hours without a break. Then the game was over and we had to clean up and...ugh, the bathrooms were locked. eeks. Anyway, we survived, and it was rather fun. I like people, mostly, and life is stranger than fiction. I saw an extremely patient lady with four special needs adults, she was so good to them it just made me smile. I saw daddies buying hot dogs for kids, and ladies who were so thankful and happy. I saw a middle aged man jump right out of line to come pay the bill for three young soldiers. The two dollar beer is a pain in the rear, because sometimes the taps get foamy, and it takes forever to get a good cup of beer...and some of the jokes and comments from the beer customers just aren't that funny, but most of them are decent...just happy to be there. One guy was getting two beers at a time, the limit, getting back in line and drinking the beers in line, then getting two more. I was teasing him about it, and he said, "I'm an alcoholic, what can I say?! Funny not funny.

All in a day's work, I guess.

Kim came for a visit with her two youngest kids this evening, we were both tired out from our stadium work. I made popcorn, and we crashed with our feet up...I felt bad when she had to get up and drive home...and another baseball game...and Kim and I are both working, again....I hope my feet stop hurting by then:)

Thursday, April 16, 2015

don't throw stones if you live in a glass house...

Most of us just don't realize what our own houses are made of. Remember the saying, "There, for the grace of God, go I"? Or something like that. I read news stories, and sometimes the accompanying comments. No mercy. For example, a local doctor has been arrested for writing hundreds of prescriptions for himself. He is addicted to pain medicine. Those leaving comments are ready to stone him as a criminal. What he did was wrong, but does anyone think for one minute that he worked so hard to get his medical degree...and at 36 years old, WANTED to find himself in ruins? Addiction is tricky, because it sneaks up on people. Never do it in the first place, they say. But painkillers are different. People are exposed to them for legitimate reasons, and find that they take the edge off of life. My children who aren't children any more and are nurses see so many "nice" people who are there for the meds. I just don't think prison time is the answer.

Anyway. I don't have much time for speculation this morning, can't solve the world's problems. I have to get ready, I'm leaving in just a few hours to go to the opening game for the minor league baseball team. New food this year, blah. We actually have for sale a deep fried hot dog. Today, opening day, is also Dollar Thursday...which means hot dogs and sodas are a buck, one dollar...and beer is two dollars. wow, right? It means we will be BUSY, especially because it is a beautiful sunny warm spring day. I don't mind being at the stadium's outside, and the happiness of being there after a long winter is contagious.

Thankfulness is contagious, too.

Today, my little friend is coming over again! He is my sister's grandson, and he is a doll. We absolutely love him. He's only three years old, and can ready ANYTHING. We have a map of the United States on the kitchen wall, going for that classy look, and he can find the state capitols. If you could just hear the way he says, "Honolulu". Then, he sat next to me on the couch, looked at me, and said, "Delaware." Ha, I said, "What did Delaware?" He answered with a smirk, "A brand New Jersey." This child just turned three in January. He is so funny, yet so smart...and he just loves to come over and play. I love how my little girls are so nurturing of him. They love having someone smaller to fuss about.

Anyway, there will be fun everywhere today.

And with that, I have to get moving...

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

oh it's way too early in the morning....

It's nice out here, finally! The sunshine, the warmth, the green everywhere!

Yesterday...I had to drive Margaret to her job, because of complications from that fun car crash last November, she can't drive for a while, which is pretty devastating for an 18 year old girl with independence. Then it was time to go work at the college lacrosse game, which turned out to be too much fun. I had to "do cash", which involves walking halfway around the huge-o Dome, way faster than my little legs can carry me, to keep up with the Manager, who doesn't notice that I am almost jogging to keep up. When I mentioned that I don't know how to "do cash", he promised to help me. I then told him that I do know how to count. He didn't laugh. ugh. Anyway, it was easy because the game was very slow, not many in the stadium. So we got to chat quite a bit while we worked. Mirielle, Joseph, Kathryn worked...along with my sister-in-law Kim and her daughter Eileen, and lots of other friends.

We stopped for an ice cream on the way home, a soft serve chocolate and vanilla can one resist such a thing after being on one's feet for hours (and I won't even get into how it felt to put my sneakers on with those blisters from walking like ten miles Saturday during that Cherry Blossom Festival). was late, after 10:30...and my little ones were just heading to bed. They were happy, and I was thankful for Margaret. She had made them homemade broccoli cheddar soup for dinner (Camille took one taste and had a sandwich:)). She is so good to them, Miss Marge. I had brought them home giant soft pretzels and cheese cups to dip...they had never had the cheese, and wanted to try it, and it was still I let them. They took a few bites and we wrapped it all up for today...

Since Paul is in France, the two princesses sleep with me in the big comfy bed. Cam said, "Mama, I like you because you are squishy, and your bed because it's squishy."

I got in bed at the same time as they did, but I finished my library book...ugh. I think it was three o'clock when I turned out my reading lamp. Then at 6:30, I woke and remembered that I wanted to get up with the school girls, Evelyn and Sonja. I didn't want to, obviously, but I did. I didn't even see them yesterday because I was gone to work at the Dome before they got home from school. I hate that part.

And I want to go back to bed, tired as I am, but my niece's little boy is coming over for the day, and I have things to do.

Life is interesting. Parenting teenagers is challenging. It takes more patience than I'll ever have. I am on your side. When they go through that phase where Mom is just ancient, and doesn't understand. When it's almost impossible to be on the same wavelength. I want my kids to make good choices, and I'll do anything I can to help them. In the end, they can choose whether or not they want to "stay on the straight and narrow", or make other lifestyle choices. I can only pray, and be patient, and be good, and encourage...and say "no" to things I don't think are healthy for them, which always makes me popular, ha. Times of trial aren't just torture though, there is a purpose for it all. It is a testing of faith, and it is also a lesson in humility...I simply don't have all the answers. I also find so much anxiety, when we all know: today. Today has enough cares of it's own. And I can't help feeling a sort of fellowship with God during times when I am upset and worried about the path one of my children is on...He certainly can understand.

I also can't help but feel overwhelmed sometimes with the weight of responsibility I have with these kids of mine. It isn't just feeding them and making sure they have shorts for summer. But I trusted God when I had them all, so I need to trust Him now - He will give me the strength and endurance and wisdom I need to deal with situations.

Paul is still in France, and I miss him. It's not easy to do all of the parenting by myself. I have talked to him on the phone, it's nice these days that it's not expensive anymore to talk "long distance". He'll be home on Saturday night.

Tomorrow I work at the baseball stadium for opening day. It should be fairly busy. Then on Friday...almost all of my kids are heading up to Ottowa to babysit for families there in our church who are preparing for a big church feast. Abigail, Margaret, Kathryn, Evelyn, Suzanne, Sonja, and even Jonathan, who is only ten, but is excellent with small children. So when I work at the second baseball game on Friday, my sister will watch Char and Cam, as Joe is working the game too. It will be quiet here for a few days with them all gone...but ha, I'm not too sad about it. The princesses will love having tons of attention.

So today or tomorrow I need to write permission notes for the kids to travel across the border (I had Paul sign several blank sheets of paper before he left for France), locate birth certificates and I.D. cards, pack snacks, and help Jon pack a bag.

Life is interesting. There are so many details, so many things to take care of....Kap's working papers, Margaret's travel/work Visa, Mali's baby shower, our trip next month, report cards to submit, appointments and auto maintenance, our pool needs love and attention, our yard...trim needs painting, and never mind all those nice little renovations I want to do. It's good to plan, but to let it all weigh me down...nah.

Ah well. I feel better now, writing is my happiness. It helps me sort my thoughts, it relaxes me...although if I get any more relaxed, I am going to be snoring. blah. Will I ever learn?

Monday, April 13, 2015

home again...and I miss him already...

Sam...he's back on his base doing soldier things, and I am back home, sitting in my comfy chair.

And I miss him. He is a very special kid. He has a huge heart, a whole litany of sarcastic remarks, and the ability to make even the smallest outing an adventure. He also has a very special bond with his siblings, particularly these two girls, Kathryn (Kap), and Suzanne (Karl).

Abigail and I had hours and hours to talk as we's only a seven hour trip, but I drove in my dreams. I had to use the bathroom in the night at the hotel, and in my half sleep, I imagined myself getting in the turning lane to walk there. Abigail and I didn't run out of things to talk about, btw.

Home. Ah, home. There's nothing like it. Of course being the mom and the chief cook and housecleaner, walking in the door is always a treat. I have to remember how thankful I am that I have older kids who can and will hold down the fort for me...they took such good care of the little ones! Mirielle brought them to the park to ride bikes, and for ice cream, and made them a special lunch at her house. She was here with them too, watched the first episode of Downton Abby with them, and tucked them in. Margaret and Evelyn and Sonja were also good to them, as I imagine Joseph was, although he probably let his sisters do most of it.

With all this in mind, I walked in the door last night...and tried really hard not to notice things...long story short: I just stayed up for an hour or so and cleaned up. I was wound up from driving, and from that large iced coffee from Starbucks, so I swept and mopped and shined things up, washed a load of towels, and thought about things. It wasn't too bad, and lest you think they were lazy when I was gone, not true. They just did things their own way for the weekend, and had lots of time outside with the kids.

Anyway, I climbed into my big comfy bed last night with two little bed hogs named Charlotte Claire and Camille. They promptly moved into my room as soon as Paul left for France on Saturday. We woke up this morning with too much to talk about. I showed them all my pictures on my phone, and they told me about their weekend. Then I gave them their presents. I usually bring them back the little shampoos and lotions and all the packets of tea and sugar from the hotel, but sometimes I get them little gifts too. We went to the toy store yesterday...Sam said it had been way too long since he had been to ToysR Us. We got Jonathan a really nice light saber, and a Nerf-style StarWars gun for Char, and a little dollhouse furniture set for Cam. (Shh, Sam bought two light sabers to bring back to barracks...they might be all grown up and in the Army, but those soldiers are still just big boys who like to play.)

Anyway. It is nice out today, so I have big plans. I have already slathered sunscreen on my sunburn. I can't believe I am 49 years old and haven't learned that being in the sun for several hours after a long winter...duh.

Oh happy, Aaron is here!!!! bye for now!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

adventures in washington d.c.....

Yeah, a hotel bathroom selfie...hafta show off my new sunburn....

The Cherry Blossom Parade! The Dunkin car!

It was a beautiful day! Sunny and warm-ish, nice breeze...Sam was in the parade in his handsome uniform.... This is the Honor Guard, Sam is one of those soldiers.

After the parade, Sam went back to base with the Army guys...then came back and met up with us.

In the mean time, we visited the Smithsonian Museum of American History. We had to use the bathroom. We waited in a long long line to get in, then in another long line to use the restroom. Then...we sat in the sunshine...we had stood for SO long at the parade. WE arrived early, having gotten up at 6:30 and drove to the metro station, after grabbing some breakfast from McDonald's, which we stuck in Kap's backpack for later. We parked, took the subway, and arrived at an excellent viewing spot for the parade with time to spare. There were hundreds and thousands of people there, and they all seemed to want to come stand in front of us.

Anyway...after we decided to head back to the hotel...we discovered that the Smithsonian stop on the metro was CLOSED. We had to walk to the Arlington station. It was far far far, after walking around all day, especially. We walked across that big bridge...
The Monument started looking small.

We finally got on the metro heading east...there were no seats, of course, so I held onto the pole with all my might. The girls thought I was exaggerating, but I am not a small lady, and I really had to hold on.

My feet are blistered from the walking, and I am tired. Abigail and I went in the hot tub when we got's good to be here in Virginia with Sam...and that's all I have to say about that.

Friday, April 10, 2015

roadtrip, cherry blossoms, national sibling!

Abigail and I...

ah the trees in Washington!

Oh Sam, so good to see you!

Sam and two of his the Marine memorial....

And that's all for now!