Thursday, March 31, 2011
No, not the twins and the bathtub laundry adventures.
The good folks at JumpStart. They've come up with another great educational online game.
And this one has made a subject very fun that some of my students often think is un-fun.
Un-fun. You heard it here first.
Vocabulary invention and prefix mangling aside, JumpStart invited us to try out Math Blaster, the newest online experience in their bevy of educational games.
5 and 6 of 8 practically wrestled each other to get on the computer to try it out.
And were delighted. Delighted to the point that I think they forgot they were doing math. Which is genius.
The games are designed for students between the ages of 6 and 12 and cover all manner of math factoids in a fun, interactive setting.
The game opens with being sent on special missions in an outer space environment. Each activity is customizable to your kiddo's math ability. Every little victory helps propel them on to higher levels and focuses on a specific math skill.
5 and 6 of 8 quickly declared it awesome.
And here's something for you to declare awesome as well.
JumpStart will give one lucky OctaReader a free membership to the site. Yep.
And free equals zero denario. Which equals awesome.
So, go check out the MathBlaster site here and come back and tell me why you would like to win this awesomeness. Tweet, FB and blog about it for more chances. We'll draw a winner and announce it on Thursday, April 7th!
And just so we're clear, yes, we received a membership to review the game. Let's keep the FTC happy and purring, shall we?
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Which I don't mind sharing.
I have no pride.
So here are the couple of dark secrets.
Homeschooling is heck on your house.
Think through it. People eating, grazing, studying, doing science experiments, grazing, tearing the little paper tabs of their notebook paper...all. day. long. Every day.
Not to mention the toilet paper usage.
And here is another secret.
There are lots and lots and lots of paper items to keep up with.
My kids do a combination of curricula, some paper based, some computer based.
But it all leads to needing to store, for posterity, lots of paper.
Some people try to figure out how to best display wall art and place furniture.
I'm all about how to artistically stack banker boxes throughout the house.
Maybe I should start a decorating blog....
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
And lo and behold, there are my thoughts on the Huggies site!
I've spent a few clams on Huggies in my day.
Quite a few.
And I was delighted to see the expansion of their site to include tips and ideas from other moms.
And no, I wasn't compensated in any way for saying any of that. I just think it's a great collection of mom ideas.
So wander on over at this link and check out some other offerings from mamas!
Monday, March 28, 2011
Yes, Mike knows about it.
He's okay with it.
Because, I mean, really, what's not to love here?
after being adopted by our precious friends and neighbors AT and JT, we've been pretty ga-ga over this kid.
And my camera finger has been itching to click the shutter.
This little guy has become my newest muse, my latest star search.
My Super Model.
I think he knows the camera loves him.
He decided it was time to make us laugh...
Sunday, March 27, 2011
It's referred to a handful of times in Scripture, a little geographic name location that barely registers with us. It doesn't have the notoriety of the ark's resting place, Mount Arat. It doesn't have the geographic oddity of the Dead Sea. It's not a notable tourist spot on a Holy Land tour.
The Valley of Achor is first mentioned in the book of Joshua when Achan is discovered to have saved some of the plunder from the battle of Jericho for himself, even though the Israelites had been specifically commanded to burn everything in the toppled city and to take the gold and silver to the tabernacle. The Lord's anger had turned on Israel in response to Achan's secret sin, and Joshua and the Israelites deal with Achan's hedonistic hoarding by taking him to the Valley of Achor, along with all his family and possessions. There the group is stoned and buried for Achan's iniquity.
Not a pleasant place.
It becomes a geographic metaphor for the Israelites. They saw the Valley of Achor as a place of 'trouble', a place where sin and rebellion keep one from the presence of the Lord.
But it seems to me that the Lord delights in taken what we assume is a place of no return and making it new.
It is in the book of Hosea, that we find a reference to the Valley of Achor. But now it is cast in a new light. The book of Hosea records the life of Hosea the prophet and his marriage to a promiscuous, ever-wandering wife. The Lord uses this fractured marriage as a picture of Israel's infidelity to the Lord and the Lord's willingness to forgive and take her back. The Lord says through Hosea in the second chapter and fifteenth verse, "There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope."
A door of hope.
I keep reflecting on that, meditating on it, turning it over and over in my mind.
A valley of trouble being translated to a door of hope.
And I suppose that's a thing with a valley. The mountains may seem incredibly high. The light of the sun may seem darkened in the shadows. But it is a valley. Not a canyon. Not a pit. And every valley eventually has a way out.
Even if it's the Valley of Achor.
Because the Lord has placed a door there.
The Door of Hope.
Saturday, March 26, 2011
Friday, March 25, 2011
8 of 8 is experiencing unchartered territory for the next few days.
He has me.
His own personal mama focus group.
Pretty much. 2 of 8 is still here, but has her own jam-packed schedule. Mike has packed up the rest of the kiddos, 3 through 7, and has taken them to Okie Land. Mike will be meeting with clients. And 3 through 7 of 8 will be busy being spoiled by extended family.
2 of 8 has several dance obligations here. I have a women's event at which I'll be speaking. And 8 of 8 will experience the new world of I Have Mom All To Myself.
I took him with me to the grocery store today. And then we stopped by the library. And he could browse, me by his side, with no hurry and no distraction of his siblings. He got to eat all the chicken nuggets he wanted for dinner. He got to watch the channel he wanted to watch on television. And he's presently in the tub, not having to share any of the toys.
But, to be honest, he seems a little discombobulated.
He keeps asking where everyone is. And he is a little dazzled by the fact that he doesn't have to stand in line for my attention.
As for me, I'm enjoying focusing solely on this interesting little guy. My baby. He's chatty and inquisitive and funny.
And he creates amazing art work with ketchup which is supposed to be used for his chicken nuggets.
And, even though a bit confused, he seems to love Mommy/8 of 8 time. Focus time.
I kinda like it too.
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Her thought at this point is to move back in with us, as she has used some of her savings to travel Europe while she's on the Continent.
While we are thrilled for her to return home, I have to wonder what it's going to be like to be back in the center of OctaChaos.
Don't get me wrong...I love our brand of crazy. But having been on the road the last few weekends and having some quiet time to myself has made me realize just how loud and zany we are.
1 of 8 has been living in Paris on her own, going to class and nannying for a wonderful family in a posh section of the city. And while she's been gone, 2 of 8 has been camping out in her room and the other kids have gotten bigger and louder and our schedule and noise level has gone up and up and up.
It makes me wonder what re-entry into the OctaSystem will be like for her.
Because, I know, just after a little down time at a hotel, I'm a little stunned at what it's like around here on a minute to minute basis.
Hopefully, her old coping mechanisms will kick in, an uncanny ability to shut out the mania and laugh at the wildness of ten people living in a house together.
I know several of my friends with college age kids will be welcoming their college-age kids home for the summer. And I know there will be adjustments to be made with newfound independence and lifestyles and space.
But I've got to think that what we're asking 1 of 8 to take on in terms of reacclimation ranks up there in the extreme category. It's not everyone who comes home from a year abroad to deal with toddler twins.
But we're excited. And we hope she is. And we can't wait to learn who she is now, how this experience has shaped and changed her.
Just four more months.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
On several weekends.
Of my childhood.
Growing up in Southern California, my parents often took us on jaunts into the amazing mountains of the Sierra Nevada range and into the wilds of Yosemite.
Some of my fondest childhood memories have to do with waking up to the smoky morning air of a campfire and pine trees, snug in my fleece-lined sleeping bag, my mind a bit fuzzy from the high altitude.
So I'm admitting up front that I am a punk.
Because I should be creating the same kind of memories with my kids.
But I am weak.
And I like electricity.
And running water.
And I don't do all that great a job keeping everyone clean and fresh with modern appliances. And am assuming that I would do worse sans appliances. And running water. And electricity.
But I will let my kids set up a tent in the middle of the family room.
Which I am hoping offsets my campin' punkness.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
That's what I'm doing.
The Blog Network.
As many of you know, I'm a mom of eight. And two of those kiddos are considered special needs kids, 4 of 8 with a hearing loss and 7 of 8 dealing with the effects of a neonatal stroke. I've spent a fair amount of time in waiting rooms and therapy clinics, interacting with lots of parents and kids who are facing enormous challenges.
A precious friend of mine heard me talking about the incredible needs I've encountered amongst special needs families. There are many, many families out there who have 'too much' income to qualify for Medicare/Medicaid but who are spending every last dime on doctor and therapy co-pays and for medical equipment not covered by insurance. Take two co-pays a week for therapy and over the course of a year, it adds up to over $3000 a year just in co-pays...and that's after insurance and doesn't include having to meet a deductible. Items that most people assume are covered by insurance are not, including hearing aids and a variety of important medical devices that aid in therapy goals. Things like date night for mom and dad and dance lessons for the kids go to the way side in the interest of meeting such expenses.
My friend heard my heart on the challenges faced by families and my desire to see special needs kids included in the arts, such as dance and music and drawing. I spoke of my longing for moms and dads of special needs kids to have date nights again. And my friend heard my heart when I spoke about the need for kids with learning differences to receive unparalleled tutoring to help them enjoy their educational journey.
My friend heard my heart. And went and found a financial way to make these dreams a reality. And we've launched a non-profit to help these families.
I'm humbled and blessed. And excited to see what will happen as we seek to serve these special kids.
And to that end, I'm now seeking who you may know.
It would be a tremendous blessing if the tutoring program we are designing could utilize technology for learning. Studies have shown that children with Asperger's or on the autism spectrum greatly benefit from using an iPad or similar computer tablet device in a communication and learning setting. You can read about recent information here. There is another fantastic article here that outlines the use of iPads with special needs kids. So I'm sending out a web request to see if any of you have an inroad to the good folks in the Mac world who might be interested in donating iPads for kids with learning differences in our non-profit program.
Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any contacts you think might help. It brings me such joy to engage you, my Dear Readers and Blog Friends, in such an effort. Blessings to you all.
Monday, March 21, 2011
4 of 8 took some pictures of 7 of 8 this weekend on her iTouch.
I couldn't believe how much older 7 of 8 seems in these pictures.
But it hit me the other day that when my other kiddos were the same ages as the twins, they already had a new younger sibling in the mix. By the point our other children were almost four, they had had to surrender the crown of Baby O' the Family to another OctaNewborn.
But not the twins..
They are still holding the title for all its worth.
Sunday, March 20, 2011
Mike has been holding down the fort, keeping kids fed and fairly clean.
This morning, I wandered around the shopping area adjacent to the hotel I was staying in. The morning was new and Starbucks was calling my name. As I stood in line, waiting for the creation of my grande cafe latte non-fat jolt of goodness, a scene on the upper shopping level from where I was standing caught my attention.
It was a line of people, up early on a Sunday morning.
Gathered together, making light conversation, taking in the morning light.
Waiting for the doors of a particular store to open.
Waiting there for a couple of hours before the doors of the store were to open.
Huddled around a familiar icon.
It was the Apple store.
Not scheduled to open for quite a while longer, the Apple patrons were waiting for the lights to come on and the salespeople to come out to the floor. They were gathered and patiently watched, willing to take time on a Sunday morning to stand in line for the chance to enter the store and have all their Apple needs met.
I stood, Starbucks in hand, observing their sojourn.
Reflecting that we don't have the same kind of que for church of Sundays. I can't think of a time I have seen a crowd gathering in anticipation of the sanctuary doors opening. It's not a common sight to see a throng pressing in to come worship and learn and connect.
But on this Sunday morning, there was a church of Apple.
And I saw a subtle attachment. One that rings back thousands of years.
We are not told in the Bible that it was an actual apple that Eve bit into and traded in immortality for knowledge of good and evil. We are only told that it was fruit. But through the years, a shining apple has become the icon for the Fall.
And that apple symbolized man's decision to rely on his own interpretation of information over God's design. And it saddled man with heavy mortality.
Now don't get me wrong. I'm not throwing Apple the Computer Company under the bus.
Not in the least.
But I found it so compelling that, while we live in a culture that finds it tough to fill our pews on a Sunday morning, the line-up to get in the Apple store is well populated. Our quest for immediate information and music and entertainment and conversation trumps contemplation and meditation.
The modern apple.
And then I had to turn the mirror on myself. I was taking time away from my family for a little writing retreat for myself. And I was finding it hard to keep the television off and the spiritual listening ears on. I checked news and the clock and social networks. And then I would write. And write a little more.
And then fight the urge to click on media.
A wrestling match of media versus meditation.
Apple and apple.
Where do I line up and wait in anticipation the most?
Apple and apple.
Saturday, March 19, 2011
Friday, March 18, 2011
And this road trip took me through some interesting country. My usual route to Houston was interupted by a wildfire and and an experimental plane accident that thankfully left no one injured.
But it really messed with the shortest route between two points.
I saw some parts of Texas I had not seen before.
Including the Cotton Gin Museum.
Which naturally means that I will have to go back and check that one out in a more lesuirely manner.
Eli Whitney, right?
Cotton Gin Museum.
I love when an unexpected side trip can delight.
Thursday, March 17, 2011
And if you don't have any idea of what it is, no worries. I didn't until a few years ago.
Not that I'm saying I'm cool.
But I do know what that abbreviation is.
South by Southwest.
It's an arts/music/film held here in ATX.
Another abbreviation for the hip and cool.
Or the informed.
Or the locals.
For many hipsters, SXSW is a time for the creative cool to collect and network and perform.
For me, it's something of a family reunion.
'Cuz it's the time of year that friends we consider family come down for SXSW and let me cook for them and laugh and visit. And they listen to my crazy stories. And they let me hold their babies and hear their stories.
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Some people clip coupons. Some people have garage sales.
I launder dress shirts.
Sometimes Mike irons them, sometimes I do. I set up the ironing board in our bedroom, click on the television and set to coaxing wrinkles out of fabric.
Tonight, while smoothing seams, I was watching 'Hoarders.' You know, the documentary show about people who collect and stash and pile. It's compelling, heartbreaking, fascinating.
And I ironed and watched, ironed and watched.
And then realized that I was ironing wrinkles into Mike's shirts. And then realized the apt metaphor that was for what I was watching on television.
The repitition of certain habits and behaviors, in their repeating, making permanent patterns and creases in the paths of our lives.
I suspect we all have ironing and hoarding areas in our lives. Places where we hoard unforgiveness. Anger. Bitterness. And we iron that fabric of feeling over and over, creasing our hearts, making labyrinths.
Ironing and hoarding. And life lessons. And questions to ask myself.
As I iron dress shirts for Mike.
Time for some soul spring cleaning.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
I was going to give myself a blog day off.
Blog Day Off.
Sounds like a potential Hallmark holiday, doesn't it?
"Enjoy You Blog Day Away!"
"Have an HTML Holiday!"
Remember, you saw it here first.
I've been blogging for over four years and have posted daily for almost three.
Almost three years of logging in and posting every single day, keeping count of calendar days. Sometimes re-posting previous material. But making sure to have something posted. Every. Day.
And I wouldn't say that I have a Type A personality.
I don't think. At least, I don't have a Type A personality when it comes to my expectations of others. I'm solidly Type B. Mothering eight people will make you that way, encourage you to take a breath and ease up and assume things are going to take longer and be done with more fuzzy edges.
But I may be a bit Type A on myself. And maybe it's showing in my blogging habits.
One of my brothers said of my running that it's the one loop I get to close every day. In a large family, the laundry is never done, the dishes are never finished, the house is never completely clean, the project list is never checked off.
Heck, I can't even find the project list at the moment.
But if I set a goal to run, when I'm finished, I can check that off the list. Completed.
And perhaps the daily posting is the same thing for me. I can close the loop.
So here I sit, hiding out in the the bathroom, perched on the edge of the tub, the clock ticking toward midnight, Mike sacked out for the night and the house relatively quiet.
And I find myself crawling out of bed. And turning on the laptop. And laughing at myself a little. And finding myself a bit disconcerted at myself, to coin a phrase. That I would not take advantage of a Blog Day Off. That I would find it uncomfortable not to post.
That it would make me itch to not at least hit the daily mark for three years.
So here I am. Blogging close to midnight. Closing the loop.
Continuing the streak.
Monday, March 14, 2011
More dance is what's going on around here.
I'm putting up this link if you're interested in seeing 2 of 8's group from a couple of weekends ago. They took first at the Bravo Competition.
I'm really going to write some more thought-provoking posts this week.
On subjects other than dance.
I really am.
But right now, it's all dance all the time.
With some short diversions for laundry and toilet cleaning. And packing for the next event.
But performances like the one shown at the link above make it worth it.
Sunday, March 13, 2011
We've been humbled this week, I think.
To see the nation of Japan in such turmoil in the wake of a seismic event. To see such devastation, such waves, such destruction.
In such a sophisticated, modern, organized, educated society.
To see nuclear power plants designed to withstand earthquakes brought to the brink of meltdown. To see towns washed away. To see nature react in ways that weren't predicted.
For all our systems and logistics and advance planning and strategies, we are reminded once again that we are not in control. We live on a gorgeous, mercurial, dynamic, fiery, unpredictable planet.
There is no such thing as solid ground here.
As we send compassion and resources to the Japanese people, may we be reminded again.
This world is not our home.
Saturday, March 12, 2011
Friday, March 11, 2011
Cecchetti is the Italian form of ballet syllabus created by Maestro Enrique Cecchetti. Cecchetti is differnt from Vagonova, Royal, etc. due to a strong focus on placement and technique. I have been studying this method for about 5 years, and am currently in the advanced grade.
Not a fan of dance? Well, you at least have a new word for scrabble.
This is 2 of 8 signing off for now. Enjoy your nugget of ballet trivia :)
Thursday, March 10, 2011
So since I showcased 2 of 8 and her dance a couple of posts back, the time would seem appropriate to show a few pictures of 6 of 8 at the same competition.
Or maybe she's just somewhat spotlight stunned...
'Hog the spotlight.' Now she has that button. For sure.
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Mizz Jennifer Poppy.
What a doll!
We had her come speak at one of our women's events and she was just a delight. Jennifer blogs at BellaGrace Home Staging.
I got to meet some other blog friends last year.
There is something so unique about friendships that have developed in a modern pen pal mode, exchanging ideas and thoughts on screen, checking out family photos, laughing through abbreviations like LOL.
And then to meet in person.
And put voice to face and face to mannerisms and mannerisms to personality.
Jennifer did a fantastic job, blessing us all. And now I can visualize a little more clearly this inspirational young woman who has spoken to so eloquently through her blogging and her life.
New old friends.