Wednesday, August 31, 2011
As if Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday aren't.
But Wednesday in particular is crazy. I spend more time shuttling around in the van than some occupants of Space Lab.
Okay, that was a slight exaggeration. But that is how it feels.
JT and I have training runs on Wednesday morning. With the jogging strollers. On hills. Then the twins have dance for an hour and a half. Then I try to clock some home office time, laundry time and check-everyone's-algebra-time. Then it's a full slate of drive to the dance school, drop off three people, drive to the church, drop off two more people, go back to the dance school, pick up a couple of people, go back to the church, pick up some more of my people, then make yet another run to the dance school for any remaining people.
And that's just if I don't have to make a run to the university campus for another one of my people.
Fossil fuels. We abuse them.
Today I was in full van throttle speed, having dropped off the twins and needing to hit a couple of errands. I ran through Starbucks to pick up some full octane caffeine to keep me going and ordered a Cafe Misto and a banana walnut bread...because banana walnut bread has to be healthy, right? With bananas? And walnuts? I rifled through my purse, gathering correct change, drumming the steering wheel to get moving on to my next stop. I pulled up to the Starbucks drive thru and started to hand the server my cash when he said, "No, no. You don't owe me anything. The lady in front of you had someone pay it forward last week and she wanted to do it for you. So you got a little blessing."
I was so surprised. And delighted. And thankful.
And it made my day.
I prayed for my secret coffee benefactor, prayed that the Lord would give her a sweet blessing today, prayed for her family and friends, for her schedule, for the things on her to-do list. And I marveled again that a simple kindness of a stranger can change the complexion of a day, can give a peace and a smile, can fill a busy heart.
So thank you, thank you, my Starbucks blessing.
And I'll be sure to pay it forward, as per your example.
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
And so many things to say.
But my Flickr/Picnik account?
Things are not going my way.
I upload and click and try to edit
And it says "Failure to Retrieve".
I click again and again in denial
But it will not give me reprieve.
So I post what doesn't need cropping
And I post what doesn't need a touch-up
But since I'm a premium member
This Flickr/Picnik thing is a dust-up.
I've tried troubleshooting and clearing caches~
It's been to no avail.
So I'm forced to rely on my wordsmithing
No images to light the trail.
If you have any wisdom
About why Flick/Picnik hates me so
Just please leave me a comment
With info to let me know.
Monday, August 29, 2011
We're back at it.
Training for a race.
JT, my running partner.
The heat is so intense here right now that we are having to really work around the thermometer, trying to avoid the triple digits. Which means having to run early. As in, way before the sun comes up.
And I am not a morning person.
I keep seeing folks out running in this 111 degree heat index. And I'm trying to figure it out. And all I can come up with is that they must be even less of morning people than I am. Which is really saying something.
In a nod to our renewed training, I thought I would include a link to a post I wrote last year about my training schedule, shoes, stride and other thoughts when it comes to running. You can read it by clicking here.
But I need to make this brief. Because I am getting up super early. Which is not my thing. But JT will be waiting for me, shoes on, determination across her face.
And we will run.
Sunday, August 28, 2011
A circle of gold.
Michael has presented me with a few gorgeous tokens of our marital covenant. My original engagement ring. The eternity bands to bookend it. A beautiful set to commemorate our 10 year anniversary. And then an incredible solitaire for my fortieth birthday.
I love them, love wearing them.
But it is the simple plain gold band he gave me years ago that I favor.
While wrangling babies and doing endless housework and having my hands in diapers and messes on a consistent basis, I wanted a ring that was thin, unadorned and simple. And he gave me a slim gold band to wear on my left ring finger, a ring I didn't need to take off in the joyful chaos of raising hordes of small children.
It's the ring I've worn through the birth of several of the last babies. It's the ring I've worn on trips. It's the ring I've worn on long runs and races.
A circle of gold.
And for the last few months, lost.
7 of 8 is obsessed with my jewelry. Obsessed. On any given day, she helps herself to my purses and heels and costume jewelry collection. She's not content with little girl dress up items. She wants real bling.
She's made my heart flip flop a couple of times when I've found her wandering through the house, barbies in one hand and my solitaire on the other. We've discussed several times that she needs to leave my wedding rings alone.
But sparkle and shine draw her in. And she climbs on counters and scales dressers and pillages high drawers to answer that call.
And then my gold band went missing. Gone.
Naturally, I felt I knew who the culprit had to be. 7 of 8.
The questioning and interrogating began. She feigned innocence, forgetfulness, repentance.
But there was still no ring.
I found myself waking in the middle of the night, saddened that my ring was lost. It bothered me so much, not that it is the most expensive or bedazzled. Quite the contrary.
But still a much beloved token of affection and commitment, one that has been with me through a variety of stops on my journey.
I went through used vacuum cleaners bags, cleaned out drawers, dumped out 7 of 8's collection of pink handbags. All to no avail.
And then yesterday, in the middle of painting our master bath, in a forest of step ladders and painters tape and brushes and rollers, I moved a small silver tray from the counter.
There was my gold band, tucked underneath.
I was ecstatic. Thrilled. And felt a sense of home when I seated it back on my left ring finger.
I was reflecting today on how our Savior feels when His simple treasures are found, when the souls and hearts He longs to gather peek from beneath their darkness and sparkle in His light. We often seem to think we need to bring bigger treasure, more sparkle, more karats, more price tag to be considered precious in His sight. But He treasures the simple, the plain.
The unadorned heart that finds its value in covenant with Him.
Saturday, August 27, 2011
Friday, August 26, 2011
Check out the wreaths the hostess made for the front door. Made. As in, all by herself. With pink boas.
Love, love and love.
They were so cute I had to get a shot from the backside as well.
This was the center piece. Simple. Gorgeous.
And the cake. It's a girl.
More with the pink boas. It's genius, I tell ya. Just genius.
And here's the Bump Herself. She is so cute.
So is her mama. I'll have to see if the mama will let me post a picture of her in all her glowingness.
Baby showers. And pink. And new ideas. And good food.
And pregnant tummies.
I love it.
Thursday, August 25, 2011
Well, lookie there.
2 of 8 plays, yes, you guessed it, a dancer on ABC Family's newest show, The Lying Game.
She has been on set for multiple shoots, dancing, playing a high school student, going to a high school dance.
And then she got 1 of 8 in on the game.
So 1 of 8 has also been playing a dancer, high school student and high school dance attendee.
Who says homeschoolers don't get to experience high school life?
I don't really know if I can recommend the series. I've only been watching for my kids.
But talk about fun!
It's very fun to see those dance lessons pay off. Even if for just for a few seconds of camera time....
(2 of 8 is on the far right hand side in the above shot...I'm still waiting for the episodes that 1 of 8 appears in...)
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Because I've been sinning.
Sinning by paint.
My father-in-law is going to struggle with my confession. But I must come clean.
I am priming and painting the cabinetry in the master bathroom.
It is against my father-in-law's religion. His home decor religion.
To paint finished wood.
Completely blasphemous to my precious father-in-law.
Now understand, PaPa is a wonderful, loving, accepting fellow.
Except when it comes to painting finished wood. He just can't understand why someone would paint over wood.
It pains him.. Hurts him. Causes him to judge the painter and mourn the paintee.
So, PaPa, I'm sorry. But I just thought you should know. I'm painting. Painting finished wood. Defacing it with primer and giving it a couple of coats of semi-gloss.
And it's gonna be gorgeous.
But you don't have to think so.....
Monday, August 22, 2011
A new start. A new year. A new vision.
And new notebooks and pencils and books.
The neighborhood kids headed back to the classroom today.
And my kids didn't.
I mean, they did math and practiced their writing and had some history and worked on consumer economics (i.e. chores).
But we've been doing that. Most of the summer.
For us, homeschooling works. It fits our lifestyle, my work schedule, the kids' extracurricular obsessions, the variance in learning styles replete throughout this crew. And schooling year-round works. We just stay in our routine. We don't have to review. We don't lose three months of instruction. We just keep on keeping on.
The first day of school. What a wonderful ritual. What a fantastic beginning.
What a tradition.
The chance to begin again, to get a new desk, to learn a new routine. The smell of new notebook paper, the crack of new three ring binders, the feel of new No. 2 pencils. It's gorgeous.
Happy School Year, all my traditional classroom buddies. We here at the OctaSchool wish you all the best for a year of wonder and exploration and growth.
Sunday, August 21, 2011
Awake my soul.
It begins again.
Training for a half-marathon.
10 weeks of intense training, building mileage, building strength.
I hit the road early this morning, the sky just beginning to pink up. Sprinklers were dispensing final drinks and the air was still and calm. Mileage charted, shoes laced up, iPod on, I ran to greet the dawn.
The first song on my playlist is 'Awake My Soul' by Phillips Craig and Dean. It is never more profound than when I run to that song as the night loosens to day.
I want to remember to wake up my soul each day. Not just my body and mind. But my soul as well.
To awaken my heart to the beauty of God's creation. To awaken my heart to the stories and experiences of those around me. To awaken my heart to running, not just the roads, but life with purpose and wonder.
There are a lot of people out there whose souls are dozing, whose souls are distracted, whose souls have gone numb. But dawn is here. And there is so much to see, so much to hear, so much to marvel at. A holy alarm clock, not of a clanging bell, but of a subtle song of renewal.
Awake my soul.
Saturday, August 20, 2011
Friday, August 19, 2011
5 of 8, hanging at the beach. Throwing me a look.
He spent much of his early childhood growing up on the island, playing in the surf, tracking in the sand.
And he still seems such a natural when we hit the waves. And I get to see glimpses of the toddler he was.
Playing in the sunshine. Jumping through the whitecaps.
Throwing me a look.
Thursday, August 18, 2011
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
News Bulletin....Dateline....Today..... For those of you feverishly searching for the Green Thumb Genome, you may now put down your pencils and stop. I have completed my field research and am submitting my findings to...um.....whatever scientific journal might benefit from my exhaustive studies. But because you, Dear Readers, stay by my side and encourage my endeavors, I felt it only appropriate to let you have a sneak peek into my report. And my conclusion is this: A Green Thumb Genome.....does not exist. Yep. I checked. See, here's the thing. My paternal grandmother (that's my Daddy's Mama, in southern) had the greenest thumb in the tri-county region. She had a garden that fed all the neighbors. She grew hydrangeas that were the size of basketballs. She composted before it was vogue. She canned, preserved, froze, stewed. If it could be grown and harvested, she could do it. And it wasn't just food stuffs but all things beautifully floral. She and my grandfather were not well-off, but she bling-blinged their flower beds with gorgeous, luxurious blooms of every color and stripe. She loved, loved, loved to garden and was very, very very good at it. You would think a little of that would have transferred on to the following generations. You would be wrong. See, I want flower pots that spill over with vivacious color in flora and fauna. I want some simple herb boxes that allow me to sprinkle my cooking with homegrown goodness. I aspire to be able to tell the neighbor how to treat that bit of shurb blight, the correct time of year to prune this or that, the most appropriate plants for our region. But friends, it just ain't happenin'. And I have the pictures to prove it...... Petunias, a la Octamom....
Look a little closer....
Yes, those are toadstools, mushrooms, what have you, growing amidst my pitiful petunias...and not on purpose. Petunias and fungi, just the tropical look I was going for. "Oh, Octamom," you say, "you're simply overwatering..." Well, you're wrong.... These are my luscious tomatoes....
...and this would be one of my herb boxes...the better-looking one....
And yes, you did spot a garden label with 'Mint' on it in the above picture. You know, mint. Mint. That stuff that if it migrates to your flower beds, you can never kill it off? Yeah, mint. I killed it. So I have to at least include the following shot to offset the Great Gardening Massacre of '08...
Monday, August 15, 2011
I got my calendar together for the fall and it's a little, ah, nuts.
Sincerely, truly nuts.
It's so cute that I often post about balance and taking time for yourself and knowing how to set priorities.
Very, very unlike the calendar I printed for myself for the upcoming weeks.
So I'm going to do a little number from radio and television days.
To buy myself a little time, we're going to do a run of the Octamom Greatest Hits, those posts which have seemed to tickle some fancies and clicked some page click over the past~almost~five~years.
Publishing since deep Winter '08.
That girl had a lot of energy.
So without further ado, enjoy this little number from January of 2008 called Distraction Parenting....let's give it a big hand, shall we?
Distraction Parenting Pediatrician Dr. William Sears created something of a parenting firestorm when he introduced his concepts of 'Attachment Parenting' based on psychologist Eric Erickson's observations on the infant development of relationship to parent or primary caregiver. He called for parents to consider 8 stages of attachment needs and to respond accordingly. Some have seen his work as revolutionary, some think it has spawned an era of child-centered parenting, others have never heard of him. Attachment Parenting does have its zealots and critics. But a largely overlooked parenting theory is now being offered from my personal experiments and observations...behold, Distraction Parenting. Perhaps I am raising a household of Jean Eugene Robert-Houdins (that's Houdini for those of you who think Wikipedia is an island off of Hawaii) but my children seem to have organized some sort of union and are mastering the arts of illusion with great aplomb. It's the old gag of waving the left hand in the face of the observer while the right hand slips in the right card or unlatches the key or stuffs the scarf in the sleeve. My children are developing an act all their own, usually centered around chore time or school. While one flashes bright sparklers in my face ("Mom, is 'my' spelled 'm apostrophe i'?"), one of the other children is four shelves up in the pantry, orangutan-like, toes clutching the edges of the board, raiding the chocolate stash. Child A can feign complete innocence ("But Mom, I was sitting with you the whole time at the table doing school--I don't know how those chocolate wrappers got in my bed...) while Child B can give me the "well, what do expect when you ignore me to do school with Child A" look, leaving me in a tailspin of mommy guilt and confusion ("Is Child B jealous of the time it is taking me to teach Child A how to spell "my"? Am I restricting sweets too much that it is causing a willingness to resort to subterfuge and deceit for sugar acquisition? Do I need to have my roots touched up? Did I ever put the wash in the dryer.....wait, what was I thinking about a couple of thoughts ago?") In those moments when the curtain blows back and I can see Oz orchestrating these little moments of chimera, I feel a theory developing--Distraction Parenting. This theory is developed out of the idea that when children have certain desires or needs that they know may not find agreement in their primary caregiver's agenda, they can leverage the fact that the primary caregiver is sleep-deprived and hopped up on too much caffeine. Said caregiver is also easily distracted by bright, shiny objects and has a tendency toward hyperlexia, all of which can be powerful tools in the hands of a seasoned Child Illusionist. The latest generation which has come into evidence in our lab (i.e. kitchen table where we do school). Due to the generosity of an unnamed benefactor, I have recently come into possession of MY VERY OWN computer, not to be confused with the other hard drive electronics currently under the control of various family members. I am endlessly delighted to have computer territory completely under my purview, with icons set where I like them, settings set where I like them, access whenever I like....well, the list just goes on and on. But, because I do like bright, shiny objects and the Child Illusionists in my life know this, I will have to maintain ultimate vigilance to not enter a mirage of productivity on the computer, all to discover that toy cabinets have been pillaged and puzzle sets have been set on a course of separation that will render them incomplete and frustrated forever, known in the Latin as jigsaw interruptus. I submit notes from yesterday's field observations as evidence: Me: "Please do that page of math facts." Child A: "Okay"--see, it's already starting, lulling me into an apparition of obedience. This is a central technique to the illusion. The illusion would be spoiled if the child said, "No, I don't wanna do math..." I know this is technical, but try to stay with me.... Me: "Child B, please study that page of spelling words while I become completely distracted and lose all sense of time looking up ways on Google that I can become more organized and effective. Given a couple of minutes, I will become engrossed in said Google search and you can begin the illusion." Child B: "Yes, dear mother." Child A and Child B begin the stage craft of involved study and then through some secret handshake, eye roll, throat-clearing signal, the trick of light begins.... Child A: "Mom, can you help me with, um, this very confusing equation, 1 + 1?" (Child B silently strolls in the general direction of the bathroom...) Me: "You need help with 1 + 1? I have given my youth so that you are not sure about the sum of 1 + 1???" Child A: "What does 'sum' mean?" Me: "You will look up 'sum' in the glossary of your pre-algebra book and you will figure it out and I don't want to hear another word until you have come up with the answer because I am busy doing very important research on Google..." Now they have me exactly where they want me--Child B is already away from the table, my reticulator devices already assuming that child is in the bathroom and Child A has been instructed to not bother me. Yes, they are this skilled. It has nothing to do with my level of self-discipline. Time passes. I find the real name for Houdini. I check on some important email. I check on the temperature in London. And then it hits me--it's very quiet and still. Too quiet and still. Where are the kitchen table scholars? Where are the young minds thirsting for knowledge and the definition of 'sum'? How much time has passed since I've been in the MY VERY OWN computer wardrobe? At this point, I begin the search party and find said scholars on the Wii upstairs, happily perfecting their virtual bowling games. They greet me warmly and act as if I said at some point that they should ditch math and spelling and play video games as a part of their curriculum. I actually have a moment where I am struggling to remember if I in fact did send them up to play video games. But because I am becoming more seasoned in recognizing their techniques, it only takes me a couple of minutes to determine with a certainty factor of 87% that I most likely did not send them up to play video games and that we were working on some definitions or math or something and that they should return to the table immediately. We shuffle downstairs to begin the knowledge acquisition process again. Things go smoothly, with Child A looking up the word 'sum' and Child B is in the bathroom....did you know that 'chimera' means 'dream'--I looked it up on thesarus.com.......
Sunday, August 14, 2011
Three of them live at my house.
5 and 6 of 8 were baptized by their daddy. They had each made the decision to follow Christ several weeks ago and were so excited when they found out we had a baptism service upcoming. Mike baptized each of them and for these two, who are such buddies amongst the siblings, it was just beautiful to see them share this experience.
2 of 8 was also baptized. She was baptized several years ago and has always loved the memory of that event. And in growing more and more in the Lord and in seeking Him even more closely, particularly over the last few months, she decided that she would like for her daddy to baptize her again as a marker of her continued commitment. And so Mike was honored to baptize her again.
It's a beautiful, holy mysterious thing, to see people lined up, walking down into the water, coming up changed, renewed, committed, excited, weepy, grinning, joyful, contemplative. It's such a simple thing and yet so layered.
And I'm just joyful. Joyful for the community of believers we celebrate with. Joyful that more of our children have made a decision of faith. Joyful that a command expressed two thousand years ago still is powerful and transformational and so meaningful today.
Friday, August 12, 2011
Thursday, August 11, 2011
Some people watch the World Series.
Some people watch the World Cup.
We watch the Super Bowl and the World Cup.
Not that other series.
And, of course.
We watch So You Think You Can Dance. You know, SYTYCN for those in the know.
Cuz some of us think we can dance. And some of us actually can. And have some pretty amazing news in that arena. For an upcoming post.
But for tonight, without being plot spoilers, we watched. And cheered. And enjoyed.
Because we love dance around here.
And even more than dance, we love seeing people live their dreams. No matter what 'place' they come in.
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Because that's where I tend a dream.
As I was delighted to tell you in this previous post, I've been honored to launch a new non-profit in our community called Legacy of Hope Austin. Our mission is to serve families with children with special needs through providing 'date night' respite care, dance classes for the kids and specialized tutoring.
And things, they are a-hoppin'!
The tutoring program, 2learn2dream, launched first this past spring. We've already been thrilled to have helped several children with individualized tutoring. We had our first respite care 'date night', 2night2dream, this past week and were delighted that some moms and dads who haven't been able to have a night out because of their children's specialized needs were able to bring their kiddos to our facility and have them cared for by our RN and her amazing staff.
And next week we launch 2dance2dream, a dance program specifically geared for children with special medical and developmental challenges.
It's a dream in progress.
And please, oh please oh please, if you are in the Austin metro area and have a child you would like to enroll in our programs or have friends or family who could use these services, please contact us! We have openings available in each of the programs~~and remember, because of our generous benefactors, these programs are offered free of charge.
As I've been working through my piles of notes and print outs, 7 of 8 came in the office and told me she wanted to help me. I told her I would appreciate it and asked her what she would like to do.
She said she would 'ogre-nize' me.
Ogrenize away, little one. It's all for a great cause.
Monday, August 8, 2011
Now I don't want to cast stones.
But that perky Dorothy Hamil haircut should have come with a warning.
"WARNING: Not all wearers of the signature Dorothy Hamil hairstyle will find themselves to be perceived as perky, fun, and sassy but rather as much younger than their classmates and sporting something of a 'boy-cut'...."
That Dorothy Hamil.
I suppose if I could have landed a triple axle back in the day, my hair style might have had the desired effect.
I remember thinking that the expression on my face in that shot above would make me oh-so-mysterious. Oh-so-chic.
You would have thought I would have carried the memory of this experience forward. I'm just a girl who can't do the short hair look. I admire those who can. I have birthed girls who can, who crop off their hair and somehow channel Audrey Hepburn.
I, alas, cannot.
But I forgot it one more time.
So glad I chose my fifth grade look for my wedding. Good choice.
Darn that Dorothy Hamil.
Sunday, August 7, 2011
I believe in the concept.
It's just the execution that gives me a little hiccup.
I've been away for about a day and a half of rest and celebration with Mike as we click the 22 year mark of marriage.
And I am refreshed. And back at the computer. And a bit overwhelmed by the week's calendar.
But I am refreshed.
And it is so sweet, so heartening to know that the Lord is refreshed by His times of Sabbath as well. It's not just that He rested after the creation.
He also was refreshed.
Refresh...'breathe new life into, brush up, cool, enliven...rejuvenate.'
Even the Lord, the Creator of the Universe, needs times of refreshing.
How much more so do we?