* Summer is always crazy-busy with 8 kids. We've had great times swimming, playing, and enjoying life. One night, I took a bunch of the kids over to a nearby school where we played baseball. I assumed that Allison, Sarah, Eliza, and Harmony were too young to play and that I'd be playing with just Joey and Michael, but the little girls joined us and had a great time. Joey threw very gentle pitches, I helped the youngest ones hit the ball, and they loved running around the bases. Allison and Sarah even learned to hit the ball on their own. It was a fun night (at least until the mosquitoes came out).
* In general, our rotating work plans are going well. Michael was my partner for the month of June and it was good training time to make sure he knew how to thoroughly do each job as we worked together. We rotated through each week's assignments, and it's nice for me to know that at least once in those three weeks, the jobs will be done right (by me!), though Lillian and Joey are pretty good. Allison is my partner this month, and I'm enjoying the side-by-side time with her.
* I cleaned out my closet last week. It was surprising to me, that even with 25 lbs left to lose, I fit into things I never thought I would, including some cute things from my before-kids teaching days. I even fit into this dress from my engagement days:
There's still no way I'd fit into my wedding dress or my jeans from those days, but it felt great to be trying on things I'd saved for years hoping to finally lose the extra weight.
I gave tons of stuff away. I was surprised to find that many of the clothes I’d kept because I thought they’d look good on me if I was a bit skinnier still didn’t look good on me. =P I was pretty ruthless, deciding that I wasn’t going to keep anything that didn’t flatter as well as fit. I gave away probably 2/3rds of my closet (much of it because it was too big!), and organized everything else. It’s a great feeling to walk into my closet and know that everything in the drawers and on the hangers not only fits me, but looks good on me.
I'm taking a break from the weight loss right now as I finish training for the marathon, and I just might be gaining a lot of baby weight this fall and winter, so it was nice to have some closure for now for my weight loss goals.
* I ran 18 miles on Saturday -- 18 miles! Some training programs have an 18 mile run as the longest run before the marathon. Most go to 20. I want to run a 20 and then a 23 before my marathon, but I know that if I had to, I could at this point finish a marathon. It would be painful those last 8 miles, but I could do it. There's something so satisfying in that knowledge.
* I'm thinking of signing up for an earlier marathon in addition to (or instead of) St. George. The Mesa Falls Marathon in Ashton, Idaho, is calling my name -- a small town in Eastern Idaho, lovely forested route partially on a dirt road, views of an amazing waterfall near Yellowstone, following an old rail line above the Warm River, lonely roads passing fields of wheat and potatoes, a small crowd of only about 500 runners, a free huckleberry shake at the end -- there's something so satisfyingly homey about it. My roots are in Eastern Idaho, even if I did grow up in Boise. I'd easily be ready by August 27th, and I keep looking at the photos of the route and wanting to be there.
* My favorite time of year is upon me -- my awesome incredible husband is off gallivanting the country with five of the kids (Joey through Eliza), while I'm home with Lillian, Harmony and Katie. Lillian goes to girls camp this week and then I'll just have two at home. It has been heavenly to have the concentrated time to catch up on projects without being interrupted (like cleaning out my closet!). No one's whined or complained, there's been no battles about chores, and I don't think there's been a single argument. I love this time to catch my breath and enjoy the quiet. In the meantime, DH and kids are enjoying Lassen Volcanic National Park in California, Crater Lake in Oregon, the Oregon Coast and the California Redwoods. My husband spends months planning every detail of these trips, from menus to venues. They pull a tent trailer and do a lot of camping, they bring along bug cages so they can thoroughly examine all the critters they catch, and they earn Junior Ranger badges at every National Park and Monument.
* I have wonderful neighbors. Just wonderful. I couldn't have asked for better ones, from woman in her 70s who patiently takes care of her three-year-old grandchild (and whose husband invites Joey fishing), to the one who always tells me I'm doing a good job (even when I don't think I am), to the moms I can depend on for eggs or help with children. Last Saturday, Harmony woke up and panicked when she couldn't find me. Instead of waking Lillian, who was in charge, she snuck out the back door, ran around front, and came down the driveway crying, "Mommy, mommy, mommy!" My sweet older neighbor across the street found her and helped her back inside. This is the same neighbor who keeps a stash of suckers and cookies in a cupboard for when my kids drop by, sometimes daily, for a snack.
This morning, I had a short discussion with another neighbor who shared an experience she had when pregnant with her fifth child where she felt profoundly that she would never be more beautiful that at that point -- doing what she should with her life, filling the measure of her creation, and giving life to another soul. It was moving to hear her.
* I just re-read Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother and I can't wait to discuss it with my book club on Wednesday -- this time around what struck me most was the level of control that Amy Chua thinks is her right to exercise over her kids. The culminating battle in the book wasn't actually about the violin; it was about forcing her 13-year-old to eat one bite of caviar. Other things that stand out: * when Amy is growing up and receives second place at a school awards night and her father says, "Don't ever shame me again."; * how snobbish Amy is; * how the "Chinese mother" lifestyle Amy claims to be following would be impossible without the gobs of money she and her husband have and spend; * how Amy's life is so unbalanced and unhappy and how she completely missed the boat on the purpose of life -- she can't even find one day to let her mother-in-law enjoy her grandkids? * how RIGHT Amy is about Western parenting in some ways, such as our excessive worry about self-esteem, and our pampered kids who get praised for mediocre work. * how RIGHT Amy is about the value of hard work.
* On those lines, I am fascinated with this letter, written by Amy's daughter about how much she learned from and loves her mom. But I'm also incredibly skeptical about its genuineness, since in the book, Amy constantly hovers and forces her daughters to re-do anything she doesn't think is perfect, from tributes written at Grandma's funeral service to birthday cards. I wonder if Sophia had some "help" finding just the right words for this.
* If you have no idea what I'm talking about, you really need to read the book. Even just to solidify your own beliefs and ideas about parenting. It's a quick read and it's guaranteed to make you think.