But I miss writing, so I'd like to start putting a few smaller thoughts into posts on (some) Mondays. If you enjoy it, leave some comments and I'll do it more often.
* I've been refining our summer schedule and plans. All the work is divided up into three charts and one team is assigned to a different chart each week. Since we spent last week in Arizona, this week will be our first on the new system. I'm having each team member give the other a letter grade every day, hoping that will motivate the kids to work hard. We have a full and fun summer planned, with swimming twice a week, movies once a week, library once a week, summer orchestra, horseback riding, Daddy trips (ah, those wonderful Daddy trips!), and other fun adventures. I'm hoping the "work hard, play hard," theme will carry us through. Cross your fingers for me.
* I'm going to be doing all my long runs on Saturday mornings this summer. That's usually when we clean the house, but I've moved all the jobs to Friday mornings and divided them up. Saturdays will be running days and project-completion days. And this Saturday will be my first half-marathon!
* Most of my clothes are too big for me. I've gone down a size and a half and most of my pants, especially, are really baggy. I'm not complaining; it's a great thing to experience, but at the same time, I'm too frugal to spend money on clothes when I'm hoping to be down another size and a half by the fall. So I'll probably look frumpy for a while. Bear with me.
* When all of the kids are home, I always find myself with less discretionary time (I do have eight kids!) but more flexibility. I can run errands alone or take just the kids I want along, go outside to play with some of the kids without worrying about listening for Katie to wake up, or go on a run without having to coordinate with my husband's schedule. That freedom is wonderful, and one of the bonuses of having older kids.
* I try really hard not to put too much of a burden on my oldest child. I remember talking to an older woman five or six years ago who was the oldest of twelve. She said she loves it now, but hated it growing up because she felt like every time she turned around, her mother was shoving a chore chart in her face. Lillian is wonderful and responsible, but I try hard to spread that responsibility out, and it's fairly easy to do because the first three are so close in age -- born in three years and one week.
* I read several books while on vacation last week. The Bookseller of Kabul is disturbing and sad, a story about a real family in Afghanistan. From the introduction, you expect the bookseller to be progressive and somewhat of a hero (he saved books from the Taliban, after all), but it soon becomes clear how much women are devalued even in this home. The tyranny that prevails in some homes there is nothing short of evil.
* On a lighter note, I enjoyed reading Mile Markers, a book of short insights on running (I think gathered from the author's Runner's World blog). She had some meaningful, moving passages, and I kept hoping that someday I love running the way she does. Right now, I cycle through liking, loving, and loathing. I also found myself envious of Kristen Armstrong's description of the bonds she has with her running friends. I'd love to have someone to run with. Anyone want to join me for some (slow) early-morning three to six miles runs this summer?
* Redbox is awesome. We used it for the first time on the way home from California in March. Four hours of movies the kids had never seen before for only $2? Priceless was the peace it bought us. And the "return them anywhere" policy is awesome, as is the "reserve what you want in advance online" feature. We used Redbox heavily for the ten-plus hour drives we had on our way to California.
* Running through the desert on a cool summer morning is refreshing. Running with your son while seeing jackrabbits, lizards, roadrunners, and woodpeckers is pure bliss.
* I had two weird dreams this week. In the first, I got off the bus at the starting line pumped and ready for my half-marathon, only to look down and see I was wearing my slip-on shoes, not my running shoes. In the second, I was pregnant with our ninth child and looked at the calendar to realize I'd gone four days past my due date. But I was feeling so great, I hardly noticed and I'd skipped my doctor's appointment the week before.
* Do you think if I lose another thirty pounds, I'll get faster? I don't really mind that I average 12 minute miles, but maybe I'm really a 10-minute-miler who is only slowed down by the extra weight.
* I made up summer rules for our family. There's only five. What do you think?
1. Follow the Golden Rule.
2. Work Hard, Play Hard
3. Be Responsible (close doors behind you, clean up your messes, do your chores, follow instructions)
4. Ask first (for going outside, TV, Wii, friends, snacks other than fruit)
5. Stick Together (help your chore buddy, watch out for each other, stay with your partner outside)