I've been fretting and wringing my hands and second-guessing myself for weeks.
But today I decided it had to be done.
It has been my incredible honor to serve as Executive Director of Legacy of Hope Austin, a non-profit organization dedicated to serving children with special needs and their families. While there are many ways to compose an annual report, I wanted our contributors to see what we've been up to. And the best way to do that is through photography.
So I've been shooting pictures and gathering others' photos and trying to compile it all in some sort of comprehensive way. But for weeks I just kept getting weepy every time I would try to edit.
Seriously. Seriously weepy.
I'm just so overwhelmed by the events of the year, the incredible people we've been able to serve.
I thought Mike might be able to keep me on page, help me keep my nose to the editing grindstone. I pulled him over to look at the progress of the annual report as I edited photographs and copy.
He was no help. At all. Because he got weepier than me.
But finally, finally I finished. And I can't wait to get these photo books in hand. And pass them on to the generous folks who have helped make all this happen.
So here's a peek at what I've been up to, the reason for some sleepless night and some crying jags and some mounds of undone laundry.
Well. To be honest. I'm not sure I can completely blame my laundry procrastination on my non-profit work.
Legacy of Hope.
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
"Mom," she chirped, "8 of 8 and I are turtle twins, right?"
Turtle twins? Turtle twins?
Dinner was over. My caffeine had worn off for the day.
It took my brain a little bit.
Turtle twin....fraTERNAL twins.
"Yes," I told her. "You are turtle twins...."
Monday, November 28, 2011
Tradition is fine.
But I've noticed that it sometimes seems to come with a lot of effort and then a lot of clean-up.
So there are some things that I'm happy to release. Gravy now typically comes out of a jar at my house, after years of cranking out the homemade kind. Mashed potatoes get re-hydrated. And the dinner rolls come out of a package.
But every now and then, there's something that one of my kids will mark as important, a little something that, yes, there is a more convenient option, but it's a touch that is important to them.
3 of 8 surprised me this year. I had taken a survey of my brother and his wife and of Mike, asking if they minded using some cute Thanksgiving paper plates and napkins. They all voted for ease, no china and crystal necessary to celebrate the big event. I've been trying to make things simpler in my world and this seemed like a win-win to me.
Back to 3 of 8. He wasn't neutral about the paper products Thanksgiving table. At all. He showed up downstairs in a nice shirt. And a tie. A tie. Unbidden.
A tie, people.
And he asked about the Thanksgiving table setting. He heard my paper product response.
He said, "I'll set out the china. I'll take care of it. I'll get the crystal."
And he did. It was important to him, a tradition we've always had, but not one that I thought carried sentimental value.
It's inspired me. Inspired me to ask my other kids. What things mean something to them. And which things don't. As I seek to focus on the most important things this holiday season, I want to make sure that I don't continue to put effort into things that don't mean that much to my family. And I want to include those things that do mean something to them. Even when it may not be all that convenient.
Even when it means pulling out the china and the crystal.
Sunday, November 27, 2011
I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving.
The Thanksgiving leftovers are either polished off or in scraps in baggies in the fridge.
The fall decor is back up in the attic and the Christmas boxes have disgorged their contents onto any non-moving surface throughout the house.
We've already watched White Christmas. And the cards have been sent out.
It has begun.
The full onslaught of Noel mania. With the all the right reasons. And all the materialistic, idealistic, stressful ones.
But I just want to linger a little longer. I just want to mentally stay gathered around the dining table, laughing and talking, no heavy expectations, just the celebration of a holiday that involves a good meal and gratitude. Maybe that's why Thanksgiving has become my favorite holiday, no frantic shopping or parties or kids hopped up on candy.
Just a blessed pause. A pause whose one carol is thanks.
Tomorrow will begin the Christmas sprint for us, a gallop of weeks filled with parties and performances, gifts and get-togethers, toys and travel. It's wonderful and exhausting and precious.
But tonight, I'll enjoy one more bite of dressing with a little side of turkey. And I'll savor a sweet dessert of thanks.
Because Thanksgiving shouldn't come but once a year.
Saturday, November 26, 2011
Friday, November 25, 2011
I've been scrubbing and painting and rearranging over the last few weeks, all in anticipation of the holidays.
We leased this house for four years, not thinking originally that we would buy it. We were waiting for our home down on the coast to sell and then we figured we would build, seeing as how there are not many houses out there designed for families of 10.
But we fell in love with our neighbors. And the neighborhood. And the idea of not having to pack up again.
So here we are, very thankful to be here.
And I've been dabbling in paint colors and schemes and ideas to make this home ours.
It was a paint swatch from Sherwin Williams that spoke to me. It's called Quiver Tan. So I bought a little test pot of it. And then I bought more. And then I slathered it all over the dining room walls. And I love it.
I found those candle sticks on the table at Garden Ridge in the 75% off aisle. I was a happy, happy camper.
In my mind, I love homes that sport a cream and white and light gray and soft white and beige cream scheme. But I live in a house with a whole bunch of people. Who drag their hands along the walls and have scooter races in the entry way and do all manner of homeschool science projects around the house. So I go for pops of white and cream where I can. And I try to make those pops things that can be thrown in the washing machine and bleached. I covered several of the dining chairs with canvas covers from IKEA. My dining chairs are not from IKEA, so the fit is a little fudged...but it still works and the IKEA covers are only $10...me likey.
This collection of platters is a mish-mash of tag sales and finds through the years. I epoxy-ed little hangers on the back to hang them up, with the exception of the large white platter near the top. It needed a sturdy plate hanger to stay safely on the wall.
I was thrilled to find this utensil painting at my local Ross's. It was super cool and super cheap. However, the canvas wasn't quite large enough to really fill the space over the buffet (which was actually a dresser from my bedroom set before I uh, ahem, repurposed it....). So when my local Hobby Lobby had a sale on their blank painting canvases, I picked one up. I hung it on the wall and then secured a thumbtack through the canvas into the board running down the center. I then hung the utensil painting on that thumbtack and voila~~a canvas the correct size for the space.
So this was our 'place setting' for Thanksgiving this year, our fourth Thanksgiving in this house, our first year with it being 'ours'. And what a sweet time we had, noshing on turkey and dressin', eating too much cheesecake, reminiscing and laughing.
Thursday, November 24, 2011
...even when we're not sure what part of the turkey that is.....
...for my precious sister-in-law who packed up four kids and my brother and drove a whole bunch of miles to be with us this holiday...
...for a 15 year old who, of his own accord, put on a nice shirt and tie. And asked if we could please use the china. And proceeded to set the table.
...for a table full of cousins...
...for this girl being home from France...even though she's not feeling so hot today...
...for this laughable pose...
...and for this guy for making every day sweet.
Happy Thanksgiving, y'all!
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Welcome to 2 of 8's senior year.
The year I've been somewhat in denial about.
We hit our second dance convention in Houston this past weekend. And it was beautiful.
And I keep trying to ignore that 2 of 8 won't be going to conventions next year. Because she'll be an adult and all. So I won't get to see her do things like this every couple of weeks.
Folks keeping asking us about her plans for next year. There are paragraphs and paragraphs I could write. But the Cliff Notes explanation is this:
We don't know.
The dance world has no clear cut, scientific formula for insuring the realization of a dream.
It just doesn't.
Mike and I are huge believers in education. Heck, I've dedicated my youth and now my middle age to educating these eight kids of ours. But we believe in education with a dream in mind.
We want these kids to be able to do what they were created to do.
When I watch 2 of 8, it does feel like she was designed to dance.
Should she go into a college based dance program? Should she start auditioning for shows? Should she not head to a traditional college but instead should she go to a dance based professional instruction school?
I dunno. This is me shrugging.
While strongly believing in higher education and pushing our kids higher and all that jazz.
That photo up there? That's what I do know. That. That moment. That ability to capture a split second in time and to tell a whole story.
And all I know to do is to tell her to steward it well.
And to dance with all her heart. No matter the future.
And she does.
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
We have a triple play.
For three days in a row in the fall, we celebrate birthdays.
1 of 8. Then me. Then 3 of 8.
3 of 8 is now 15.
When did that happen?
Talk about a cute baby. Sheesh. The cutest.
But still. Super duper cute.
'Cuz I'm super objective and all.
3 of 8 somehow seems to simultaneously look exactly like his father. And my youngest brother. And Mike and my youngest brother do not resemble each other.
1 of 8 loves celebrating her birthday with her 'widdle' brother. Who is a lot taller than her.
Happy Birthday, 3 of 8.
Labels: 3 of 8
Monday, November 21, 2011
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Sunday, November 20, 2011
Saturday, November 19, 2011
Friday, November 18, 2011
Fall is birthday time around here for almost a third of the OctaTribe.
Including the oldest of the offspring.
And this year marks her official entry into the grown-up category.
My baby is 21.
(in labor, at the birth center, with 1 of 8)The details of my pregnancy with her and her birth are still so vivid. My first pregnancy. My first child. Mike and I had been married just over fifteen months when 1 of 8 was born. Sometimes it feels like we all kind of grew up together.
1 of 8 is the first grandchild on both sides and was the first one of to make my brothers and Mike's sister uncles and an aunt. She was the first great grandchild for my grandmother and for one of Mike's grandmothers.
(Can you even believe how much 3 of 8 and my youngest brother look alike?!?)
Little did Mike and I know that 1 of 8's birth would be followed by 7 more. We sort of figured she would be an only child. But she has been so much fun, so engaging, so funny, so pithy...maybe it's because of her that we took the plunge again and again and again...
See what you started, 1 of 8?
See what happens because of your charisma?
We love you, First Baby.