Tuesday, November 30, 2010
If you're a regular reader around here, you know we're all crazy about 1 of 8's boyfriend, the Amazing Nick.
We totally heart this guy.
He and 1 of 8 have been separated by an ocean this semester. Not fun.
But with their usual humor and computer skills, they've managed to Skype and text and Google call through the time zones.
And rumor has it, we may all get to see Nick at Christmas.
Which would be most excellent.
To quote Bill.
I can't remember which one.
So imagine our surprise when Mike found this picture of Nick floating around the internet a couple of weeks ago...
It's not Nick.
Here we go...
Yep, this is Michael Douglas, back in the day.
Here's the link to the story on MSN.
Monday, November 29, 2010
But I'm glad she did.
We were thrilled when at the last minute, one of 1 of 8's dear friends was able to join us for dinner to celebrate Turkey Day. Hey Whitney! We love you!
As we circled up to pray, 2 of 8 caught these great expressions of 8 of 8, trying his best to be pious and patient. And failing.
As his daddy continued to invoke a longer blessing, 8 of 8 squirmed a little and bounced a little and scrunched up his face.
Oh, and the winner of the Kari Jobe CD, according to random.org, is Alexia of Mommy Rambles! Congrats, Girl! Email me your shipping info and we'll get that awesome disc right out to you!
And don't forget to check out the awesome CyberMonday deal on Tell Your Time by Amy Lynn Andrews, an amazing e-book on time budgets! For only $6 (a 50% off savings), you can learn techniques for streamlining and empowering your life by identifying what's most important to you and how to use your time accordingly! The coupon code is MONDAYBLACK and you can go here for more details. The coupon code is again until 11:59pm tonight.
Sunday, November 28, 2010
Quirinius was not the nicest guy.
Ambitious. Well-heeled. Driven.
He was born in a suburb of Rome to an average family. Quirinius pointed his drive for position and power into the venue of military service, building a name for himself in several key battles and triumphs in Roman conquests. He positioned himself as advisor to those close to Augustus Caesar. Following the removal of Herod Archelaus as the governor over Syria, Quirinius took his place. A political climber, he married and divorced and married and divorced, using marriages as a means of stepping up the ladder of power. One of his marriages was particularly tabloid sensational, replete with accusations of poisoning and promiscuity.
But now, he governed a large region for Caesar Augustus, secure that he had built a name for himself. And his Caesar had ordered a census to be taken of the whole known Roman world. And he would make sure it happened in the region over which he was to command.
Because it was in the issuing of this census that Quirinius's name even rings a familiar tone in our ears. Roman rule existed over the Syrian region for generations. Governors came and went. But it is Quirinius and then Pilate thirty-three years later whose names are recorded in the best-selling book of all time.
It is this census that brings Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem, the hometown of King David, the adopted turf of Ruth, the place of the tomb of Rachel. Joseph returns with his betrothed to be counted in the Roman census and there she gives birth to the child who will ultimately turn the world on its ear.
Quirinius's authority over this region has been used for the accomplishment of prophecy.
In Quirinius's view, his military exploits and cocktail party networking were all to the end of achievement within Roman power. The dramas, the allegiances, the scramble to create notoriety, to make sure he left a mark in what was at the time the biggest game in town.
Little did he know that his greatest fame would come as a small side note as a contemporary to a most important time.
The time of a census. A census that would be a tool to complete prophecy. A census that would bring a simple carpenter and his knocked-up girlfriend back to the family land, to have their heads counted.
The Lord can use anything to accomplish His plans. A power-hungry man. A teenage girl. A baby. A cross.
The potpourri recipe of grace.
Saturday, November 27, 2010
Friday, November 26, 2010
But not for the sales.
I was Just.Awake.
But for those sales warriors of you out there, I thought of you. And snuggled deeper into my bed. And was glad I wasn't elbowing my way through the toy aisle. But if you were out there, I salute you.
And I've got my own Black Friday Special going on over here.
Running the size crew that I do, I'm something of a time management junkie, always looking at how to more efficiently steer us through our days. I've seen some great stuff when it comes to time managements and I've read some stuff best suited to fairy tales.
Amy Lynn Andrews' Tell Your Time lands squarely in the 'great stuff' category.
Amy launched her ebook just a few weeks ago and I was eager to read it. Amy bases her time strategies on a time budgeting system, thinking of categories of tasks and assigning a time block for it. Interestingly, we had already been using a form of this for homeschooling; I have used extremely specific schedules in the past, with every subject receiving a certain number of minutes. But with my number of students and their varying needs, some requiring more time for a subject, others zipping through only to get bogged down on a different assignment, we kept getting off schedule very quickly. We had morphed our school time into a more general block of time each day, a much more effective approach.
Amy's Tell Your Time builds and expands on that same principle. And then some. Both Mike and I have now gone through the ebook. He has found fantastic application in his work life, and I have been able to make some needed adjustments to our homeschool, my work and a variety of projects. And beyond just watching the clock, Amy walks you through some compelling questions about where you want to spend this treasure we call time and where you may be allowing some of this treasure to slip through the cracks of indecision. Awesome stuff.
So here's the Black Friday deal:
Amy is offering a sale on Tell Your Time from now until CyberMonday, November 29th, 11:59pm. You just click here to go to the ordering page and enter the coupon code MONDAYBLACK to get 50% off Tell Your Time. Click and read. No crowds. No coupons to lose. And you can score this deal while still in your pajamas in your warm house while munching a plate of left-over turkey.
Thursday, November 25, 2010
Last year is a bit of a blur.
But I thought we would revisit that moment of posting inspiration today while you chop and clean and scald and whisk and all the rest...
(originally posted Nov. 25th, 2009)
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Actually, the nine of us with 1 of 8 in France.
But we're going to put the laptop on the dining table and Skype her in during the meal. So she'll be with us in a cyber-sort-of-way.
Back in our Oklahoma days, Thanksgiving for many members of the extended family and friends was at my house. While my mother thinks this may be reason to question if I'm actually blood related to her or not, I love to entertain.
My mother does not. It gives her mental hives.
So I would fire up the oven and scrub the floors and put all the extra leaves in the dining table and then some.
Once we moved away from Okie Land and went to the island, we still managed to lure family and friends to come down for T-day.
And they've even shown up several years in our new adopted hometown.
Last year was a blast, with my youngest brother's family here and 1 of 8's The Boy.
But this year, it's just us. Just the ten of us. And while I do want to keep things low stress and completely focused on just being together and enjoying some good food, there are some strategies I like to keep in mind:
Break out the good stuff. Even if it's 'just' your immediate family.
Why is it we are so much more willing to go to far more trouble and glitz when 'company' is coming? It pinches my heart a bit when my kids see me going to extra effort on the house or on a dish and say, "Oh, who's coming over?" I want them to know that they are the most special people in my life. So pull out that nice china and get out the real napkins. Send that subtle message that you'll go the extra mile for the crew living in your house, not just the folks who drive over.
Take a deep breath and decide that burned gravy is not a big deal.
While I want to serve my family with the same kind of care I would show company, I don't want to let the day spiral when things don't turn out exactly right. In the grand scheme of building family memories, a dish getting ruined is simply fodder for laughter and hilarity at the next Thanksgiving celebration. It's not worth ditching the day when a dish goes south or a plate gets smashed.
Take your time.
So the mashed potatoes got a little cold and the dressing is a tad overdone. You're probably not a professional caterer and I certainly am not. The tastiest dish I can offer my family tomorrow is relaxation, laughter, joy and ease. The odds that we'll get everything to the table at the perfect temperature and consistency are slim. And that's why God created microwaves.
I've written on it before, but it strikes me again how in American culture, we aren't too good at lingering. Barely has someone finished their green bean casserole and we whisk away their dish, ending in twenty minutes a meal that took us four days to make. Sit. Linger. Laugh. Listen. Chill.Out.Mama.
I'm off to go turn my recipe boxes upside down to find my illusive sweet potato casserole recipe. And then I've got to perch precariously on a kitchen stool and get my china down from cabinet nether-regions. But I'll probably head back to my computer from time to time and read this to myself again. I need the reminder.
Good china. Real napkins. Take a breath. Take the time. Linger.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Yes, there has already been a cheesecake incident. It's still edible~if you're not real particular.
And in all the preparation, I pull out an old family cookbook, a little comb-bound compilation put together one year for a family reunion a couple of decades ago. My mother's father was one of eight children and the extended family would all gather periodically to hug necks and eat good food and congregate from the four corners of the country. One year, everyone threw their best recipes in the pile and one of great-aunts put it in the cogent form of a cookbook for all the progeny.
My great-grandmother was the matriarch of the crew. She lived to be just a few weeks shy of 100, serene and sweet with a little bit of sassy on the side. I adored going to visit her when we would head to Mississippi in the summers. Her house seemed ancient, with mysterious rooms our mother never allowed us to enter. There was already frosty ice cold Coca Cola in little green bottles just waiting for us in the kitchen. Everything was simple and neat as a pin. And my great-grandmother patted us and hugged us and chatted away in her soft warbling voice.
When I pulled out the family cookbook to get going early on my cheese potato casserole, I took a little time to peruse more of the pages. Maybe I had read this before, but it seemed new to me in the re-reading. It was a page near the front of the book, printed on the back of the lists of recipes. It says:
My great-aunt Martha put this note beneath my great-grandmother's words:
This paper was found in a box of Mother's, carefully folded and put there with cards and other items she wanted to save. It was on stationery which did not appear to have aged. I feel like it was written within three or four years before her death. These were her words left by her for us to find...Words that she lived by.
My great-grandmother saw a lot in her almost-100 years. Love, prosperity, war, the Depression, joy, tragedy, happiness, sorrow, blessing, she quietly walked through it all with her God. And while my Thanksgiving table will have some dishes that come from the family cookbook, I think this 'recipe' of my great-grandmother's is the most nourishing dish of all.
Monday, November 22, 2010
In all their glory.
But, as I expected, they are already out of date.
Hence the need for yet another amendment.
Which, I'm sure, will not be the final adjustment we will need to make to The Rules.
So please update your Octa-Rules as needed, just so you can stay current.
Here's the latest:
NO trimming or shaving of your own or anyone else's eyebrows. No eyebrow grooming at all without parental oversight.
(...it was kind of a long weekend....)
Oh, and don't forget to sign up for the latest giveaway, a signed CD from Kari Jobe. Who still has both her eyebrows intact. I looked.
Sunday, November 21, 2010
A working theory.
This time of year.
Why it sparkles.
Why it shines.
Yes, there is the stress of the shopping and the travel and the cooking and the wrapping and the decorating and heading over the river and through the woods.
But this season of Thanksgiving and Christmas also glows.
In every store, on every radio station, on commercials, in the mall, in our cars melodies play. Songs soar.
People find themselves humming along, singing familiar refrains. Whistling. Mentally saying the next verse.
And so many of those musical musings are praise.
Sure, there's the more cartoonish fare of reindeer and blue Christmas and Santa and the rest.
But the worship is there, all the same.
A jaded world humming praise. A skeptic society feeling their hearts soar to magnificent choruses of the season.
The earth rejoices.
Even when it's Muzac.
Sparkle. Shine. Glow.
And I smile again at the weary, the busy, the disenfranchised who are calling on His name. And bowing the knee. And they don't even realize it.
The glorious shimmer of His presence as we baste turkeys and wrap presents.
Friday, November 19, 2010
First things first....
AnT, come on down! You're the next winner of an Octamom Giveaway!
AnT will receive the Dave Ramsey book Total Money Makeover AND a budget envelope system created and designed by my BFF Jenny of jennsway! Congrats! Send me your preferred mailing info and I'll get your goodies out to you pronto!
A new giveaway!
Remember yesterday's post where I gushed and oohed and aahed over Kari Jobe, the beautiful vocalist and praise and worship sweetheart? Well, her music is just too good not to share. So this week, you enter to win your very own copy of her CD!
And rumor has it, it'll be signed by Mizz Jobe herself.
SO, to the rules...
1. Be an Octamom follower...
2. Tweet, FB, blog for more entries.
3. 'Like' The Original Octamom FB page, a page with little parenting tips and encouragement~(you can also 'like' on my right side bar here on the blog...)
4. Check out Kari's website and sample some of her music!
5. Giveaway ends Wednesday, November 24th at 11:59 pm!
Now, go forth and type!
(Oh, and this picture below was one of my favorite shots I got from clicking the Canon when Kari was in town. She had these adorable boots on, but they were pretty and painful, so Kari kept slipping them off every chance she got. And with my obsession with shoes, photography and music, it seemed the very picture of the morning!)
Thursday, November 18, 2010
But I already know I'm going to fail.
Kari Jobe came to our church a couple of Sundays ago to lead praise and worship.
And it was awesome.
Our pastor, Randy Phillips, is a vocalist and musician with Phillips, Craig and Dean. They won the Dove award for Inspirational Song of the Year a few months ago for Revelation Song. Kari also has a version of that song on her album and sang with the guys at the awards show.
And Randy and Kari sang it together again on Sunday.
It was also a delight to meet Kari's guitar player, Hank Bentley. He and his wife Lindsay were absolutely charming.
I also got to play with the upgraded version of my beloved Canon, along with a big ol' honking expensive lens on it that made me all giddy and happy. I played paparazzi all morning and then ignored piles and piles of laundry while I edited and edited at home later.
Now I'm telling you all this because I have a pretty spiffy giveaway coming up tomorrow. One that you're definitely going to want to tune into. Hint. Hint. Hint.
But the main take-away here is the joy it is to see people operating in the gifts the Lord has given them. The kids' Sunday school teacher that communicates the love of the Lord to little ones. The guy who faithfully sets up tables and chairs and equipment every week. The gregarious and friendly couple who meet everyone at the door. It's such a joy to see.
And to see the joy of those who faithfully serve.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
And we have some.
And I composed them and printed them and taped them on the computer.
But the posting of said rules has had an interesting side effect.
The posted rules themselves have become something of a conversation item for our house guests.
And even my main non-house guest, as in Mike.
He likes to have people read my fridge-posted rules.
So it was suggested that my readers might like to have a gander at The Rules as well. (For full effect, pretend like these are posted on the side of my extremely-old-but-keeps-on-running fridge...)
The Non-Exhaustive Yet Still Enforceable List of Rules as of July 2010…
Obedience is IMMEDIATE, THOROUGH and CHEERFUL…and QUICK. (part of this verbiage of this first rule is borrowed from the Duggars...)
NO wrestling, smacking, slapping, kicking, hitting, tickling, hair pulling, scratching, karate chopping and any other physical aggression word I can’t think of at the moment…
NO Febreeze, Lysol, AirWick, candle touching, spraying, use without permission…
NO tying anything around your sibling.
NO locking each other in closets, bathrooms, bedrooms, pantries or what have you…
NO running, jogging, briskly walking in the house…
NO throwing objects, including Buzz Lightyear, in the house…
NO television or computer without first receiving permission…
NO jumping, bouncing, running or standing or walking on the furniture…
NO screaming, shouting, verbally sparring, insulting, or any other form of verbal aggression…
NO using household appliances incorrectly, even if someone has asked you to vacuum them…
NO going into Mom and Dad’s bedroom or office without permission…
NO touching ANYTHING on the desk…
NO touching of the thermostat…
DO NOT leave trash on counter or floors…throw your trash away…and while you’re at it, throw away ANY trash you find, whether you have generated that trash or not…
NO grazing in the kitchen, getting out food, eating in general without permission…
NO gratuitous burping…
DO NOT get out other cups to drink out of. Each of you has your own water bottle. If it’s dirty, wash it. Put it in the fridge. If you lose it, there will be a consequence. DO NOT drink out of the faucet.
If you do not put away the materials and appliances you used for a chore correctly, you will be charged if it is a paying job. If it is a ‘because I live here’ chore, you will receive a consequence.
NO lying. NO use of any poor language, including ‘gosh’, ‘darn’, ‘oh my gosh’, ‘frickin’, etc.
School assignments will be accepted and completed with cheer and speed and best effort. ANY negative attitude will result in extra homework.
Depending on the offense, consequences will range from early beds times to grounding of up to five days (and that means from events and media, youth group, practices, games and performances and parties) to having to pay a fine. The consequence is at the discretion of the Tribe Leaders (i.e., Mom and Dad). Any negative behavior at the issuance of a consequence (eye-rolling, heavy sighing, door slamming, back-talking, attitude) will result in further consequence. The interpretation of the behavior is completely at the Tribe Leaders’ discretion.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
I was going to save some of these pictures until February.
You know. For Valentine's Day.
But I just couldn't do it.
This is just too romantic.
1 of 8 continues her studies in Paris and came across a little local tradition near Notre Dame that captured my heart.
There is a little bridge over the River Seine. And along that bridge is chain link. And on that chain link, sweethearts will afix a lock with their initials and the initials of their beloved.
Lots of lovers' locks.
No wonder Paris is the City of Love...
Monday, November 15, 2010
5 and 6 of 8 were convinced that it would have snowed overnight.
Um, it didn't.
Not even a little.
Which, frankly, I didn't find that surprising, since the average low around this part of the country is around 40 degrees. I saw it on Wikipedia. It must be so.
But 5 and 6 were stunned.
And I was stunned that they were stunned.
As we were driving to church, they continued to discuss their utter disenchantment at the lack of winter precip.
And then 6 of 8 said, "It didn't even work."
Uh, what didn't work?
"We wore our pajamas inside out AND backwards and it still didn't snow!"
Kind of like cloud-seeding, I suppose.
Or a rain dance.
Of course, I'm NOT going to discuss the fact that I didn't even NOTICE their pajamas were inside out and backwards when I sent them to bed that night....
(~~and as you wear your pajamas inside out and backwards, don't forget to enter this week's amazing giveaway! Click here to enter!)
Sunday, November 14, 2010
390 years today, they were still out at sea.
It would be another 5 days before they spotted accessible land, another week before they were able to drop anchor at the tip of Cape Cod.
The 102 passengers of the Mayflower and the estimated 25-30 crew members.
Still at sea.
Still at sea is the time in the passage of faith that takes the perseverance that defies self-preservation, self-determination and self in general. Still at sea is when we are completely without control.
There is a thrill in setting out on the voyage. To feel the call. To make the preparations. To look for the signs that this is the way the Lord wants you to go.
And, of course, landing on the other side of that journey carries an energy all its own.
But still at sea?
What of that?
When the storm surrounds and has for days. When the ship bobbles like a toy outsized. When doubts fly, leadership quakes, energy falls and there is no sight of land.
Still at sea.
Each of us makes crossings of faith at various times in our lives. Some of us still stand on the shore of what is familiar. We are looking toward the horizon, ready to embark for a shore that seems so far but in the Spirit is somehow visible. Some of us have anchored at the harbor of our purpose and are walking the strangely new and yet seemingly familiar terrain of our gifting.
But others of us are still at sea.
Doubting our decisions.
Feeling blindly for the fringe of our faith.
Trying to exchange our wondering and wandering for worship.
Just a few days more. To hold fast. To know that land will come. To believe that destiny awaits.
Just a few days more. To be still. At sea. To be still. Still at sea.
Saturday, November 13, 2010
Friday, November 12, 2010
Yep, it's that time of the week again!
Time for a giveaway!
First, let me congratulate someone in jogja city, the winner of the $200 ProProf QuizMaker giveaway from last week! Whoot!
So here's the scoop on this giveaway...it's awesome. And it involves money management and a best-selling author.
And my best friend.
Remember this gal?
Yes, that's Jenny, the brave girl who has stood by my crazy side (although usually through long-distance phone calls) all these years. And she's launched a little business venture I'm very excited about.
Jenny and her husband have been following the principles laid out by best-selling author Dave Ramsey, utilizing his cash-based budgeting system. And because Jenny is one of the most creative and crafty girls I know, she's come up with this little beauty:
Based on Dave Ramsey's 'cash envelope' system, Jenny has designed a line of stylish, heavy weight paper envelopes, comb-bound and labeled. She has used a combination of papers in her collection, utilizing vintage coffee table books and printed papers, not only re-purposing these paper sources, but creating a look that has a gorgeous zing to it.
Along with receiving one of Jenny's custom envelope systems, the winner of this giveaway will also receive a hard cover copy of Dave Ramsey's fabulous book The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness.
Now how cool is that?
If all this talk of Dave Ramsey and envelope systems has left you scratching your head, then you definitely want to sign up for this giveaway. The information provided in Ramsey's book can change your financial world. And Jenny's custom envelopes will keep you stylish while you do so.
And if you're already a Ramsey/envelope fan, you know a good giveaway when you see it!
So here's The Rules.
1. If you're not already (and hey, all the cool kids are doing it...) become a follower of Octamom.
2. Head over to Jenny's Etsy shop and check out her whole line of paper envelope systems. Then come back here and tell me which one is your favorite.
3. Tweet it, FB it, blog it and receive more chances to win.
4. Become a 'fan' on Jenny's jennsway Facebook page and get yet one more entry.
5. And for yet one more entry, go over to my sidebar and hit the 'Like' button for my new The Original Octamom page at Facebook!
6. The contest ends Wednesday, November 17th, at 11:59pm.
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Feeding and housing and clothing and educating this many people, ya gotta have a budget.
And a plan.
And an understanding that you will spend a lot of time thinking about food and menus and grocery shopping and food storage and freezer bags.
That will all work for a while.
And then your kids will get taller.
They will be able to reach the cabinets. And figure out how to turn on the pantry lights.
They will forage.
And eat anything not nailed down.
And you never thought about nailing down Triscuits.
But now you do.
I'm freshly back to computer after yet another kitchen stake-out. Or to be cute, I could say 'steak-out'...but I shall refrain.
I'm like the patrol cop who rides a horse through the park or the officer who rides a bike along downtown avenues, just keeping things calm, being a figure of authority to inspire citizens to honor peace and civil law. I stroll through the kitchen, making sure counters are clear and perishables are stored in the fridge.
I'm keeping the peace....piece~~okay, there I go again....
But the minute I leave the confines of the kitchen, it begins again. The foraging. The feasting.
The menu-wrecking. The ingredient-for-something-else consumption.
Who eats sour cream? Straight? Seriously?
Ah, an Octa-Kid would.
So I find myself engaged in one of my least-favorite mommy roles. Food Cop. Snack SWAT. Munchie Monarch.
I could keep going. But I won't.
It is one of the darker sides of homeschooling. There are people with access to your kitchen and your provisions. All. Day. Long.
When the OctaTribe were all younger, it was easier to stay in lock down. But I am seriously outnumbered over here. And their need to feed is great.
So I'm on patrol, counting apples and creating accountability.
OctaFoodCop. That's me.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
I need your help.
I have a writing project on the horizon on parenting. And it's really important to me to address questions and concerns and issues that parents think on most.
And I knew right where I could come to find out what is on the hearts of today's moms.
So ponder it a bit, pop your knuckles a couple of times and type away. Ask anything. Nothing is off topic, nothing is barred. What things challenge you in raising your kids? What fears to you have, what doubts do you carry? Infant, toddler, tween, teen. It's all on the table.
Let me know.