Monday, November 25, 2013

Real Barefoot Beach Run

Naomi cheering me on. Before I have started.
I have the greatest fans.
Have you ever done beach running? I have not before moving here. It took me a long time before I was able to say, "Let's do this!" I think part of my procrastinating was that I was afraid I would hate it. I love to run! I love the beach! What if somehow these loves combined to form a thoroughly middling experience, thus forcing me to feel that I truly am the phony I have always feared I am underneath it all?  Fear, anxiety, procrastination ensue...

One road divurged
But of course I finally did it. Why do these fleshy temples both resist and crave change? 

On your mark, get set, go!
The first few times I was out, I admit it, I was not enamored. My shoes got wet and full of sand, it was hard to find the right place to run smoothly, constantly changing direction and paths on the very limited scope of the shore, I irritated both fisherman with their lines in front of them and bird watchers whose beloved flocks I scattered, which in turn irritated me. 

Move it! Coming through!
But not being the persistent type, even with my grievances, I got past these little things. 


Mostly by taking off my shoes and opening my eyes, both of which actions are known to work miracles. 

Leaving the tourists behind
I was afraid at first of running totally barefoot, what with shells and jellyfish and sand spurs. But letting go of those little bitty fears allowed me to experience the run in such a new way, such a new challenge, such a new joy. 

Fabulous form?

Instead of feeling irritated when I had to run where the sand was extra soft and challenging, I realized that was what I was there for. Not to run my fastest or my hardest, but to feel the sand. To dodge the dead wood, to run through the water and under the trees, finding the hidden paths. 

Why does this phone not do a better job
conveying the magical, mysterious pleasure of
these little paths? 

There is a great fun in dodging and hurtling, if your eyes are open.

And even more fun to sprint when the path is clear before you.

We live two miles from the end of this island, named for the estuary that separates it from the the mainland. To be able to run two miles and reach the end of something, that is exhilarating, and I am have been tempted to swim across when I get to the end, just to say I did so. But I don't because of waiting babies, which isn't a bad thing. It is a good feeling to know that someone is missing you, and looking for your return. An adventure.

These guys are always too deep in pruning and
contemplating the mysteries of the universe to pay me a bit of attention.
I don't mind.
I have my own mysteries to ponder.
Mysteries like why did someone strew these groups of trees with
seashells and sand dollars?

Maybe just because it's beautiful.

Of course my camera died before I reached the end of this particular run, I only brought it to take pictures for you. That is the me I know. Well intentioned, and always a little unprepared. As Momo would say, "That's okay."

The buildings in the distance are on the mainland, over
the bridge into the city to the south
of us.

The verdict? I'm in love with running all over again. And the beach. Good for your soul. And your soles. And pretty kind to the legs as well (keeping it real.)

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Theme Thursday: Shaming

My apologies to the entire Theme Thursday community for this one. I originally hinted at "Shaming" as a possible theme when Cari featured a picture of her darling, innocent son in time out for TT "Out". Madeline seconded the notion, and here we are!

Good thing my children don't read the Web Log!   Hey! Free chocolate to any of my kids who reads your mother's lovely writings!  Now I know...

Go have some more fun, it's Theme Thursday: Shaming!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Dear Web Log, What Do I DO All Day?

Dear Web Log,

You know those dreams where you are kinda confused and then all of a sudden you are falling, falling before you jerk yourself awake? 

You know that feeling when you are rushing three little kids to the car, late of course, one who has no shoes, one with dirty finger nails, one you just spilled coffee on (not your precious coffee!!) and you sit in the driver's seat and know without a doubt you have forgotten something but can. not. remember. what?

You know that feeling when everything is undone, and there is so much to plan for and what in the world is everyone going to eat for dinner, but the kids are laughing outside and the breeze and the sunshine are mingling just so and you put everything down and just walk out the door and soak in that perfect moment for just a little bit: Isaac's smile, Momo's singing, Joseph's antics, God's joy?

I've been living a deadly cocktail of the three since we moved to the Beach House five months ago. Five months. Of this. 

Every morning I wake up hoping for the warm close feel of familiarity to set in, or just the centrifugal force to sloooow down so that I know exactly where I am and what I am doing. 

It takes a toll on one, to be perfectly melodramatic. 

Little bits of routine work their way into our lives, despite my undeniably magnificent ability to avoid obligation or accomplishment. 

Here is how our days are generally panning out these days, ever and constant variations of this theme, which sounds like this: fun or chaos?

5:20 my alarm goes off and I pry my limbs out of bed and stumble to wake up Peter, who always always always gets up as soon as he is called.

He showers, gets Jude up, or starts the 20 minute long process of waking up Jude. Usually either Obi or I have to physically remove him from his bed, so much fun. 

Jude not first thing in the morning

They generally take care of themselves in the morning after that, I make lunches, iron Obi's clothes, make coffee, and the boys leave at 6:30, and I call the little ones. And all that goes with that, you know.

By 7:30 we are all out the door, except for unschooled Joseph who is still asleep, dreaming of better things.

I drop the girls off at their school...

Florida school dress code, rough

...and normally these days, Isaac and I drive another half an hour to his "school," which is actually the Y so that I can exercise while he goes to the babysitting room.  This has been an enormously positive development for me: to get out of the house, to be around breathing humans who aren't dependent on me, to physically push myself reeeely hard for just one tiny, long hour. I have purposely been doing group fitness classes, which I have never in my life participated in. I have also never regularly done strength training, only cardio. I do not enjoy strength training, and it feels the same about me. We are coming to terms with one another through Pilates, Boot Camp and the extremely fun (absolutely no sarcasm, you're reading that wrong) Body Pump. Amazing.  Isaac meanwhile loves playing with the so nice ladies who love him to pieces, their toys, and at a very distant third place the other children.

We are home generally by 10 and I find Joseph lazing about on the couch with his computer doing German. He is taking an on-line high school German class (for credit!) and it is hard. Very hard. He generally works on this from the time he wakes up until lunch time. 

Joseph found this book on the beach, it's Catching Fire,
and now it's part of our scenery

After lunch Isaac naps, I help (force-feed)Joseph with his other subjects, do housework (laundrylaundrylaundry), do my computer thing, do housework (laundrylaundrylaundry) until 2:15 when Isaac and I pick the girls up at their bus stop. Their stop is right at a hotel that caters to trendy, cute Europeans, and it is almost part of our daily routine to walk back from the bus stop with a couple of Euros trailing us on their way to the beach exclaiming over my cute kids' cuteness. The kids smile and nod and I smile and nod, part of our day. Weird.

Jude is generally home by this point as well as and all five of them watch a couple of TV shows. This has never, ever, ever been a part of our lives, TV after school, but it is completely indicative of not having myself pulled together enough to parent everybody properly alllll of the time. SO...they get that hour of TV and snacks and it is a pretty peaceful time. 

Meanwhile I do laundry.

After the magical TV hour when I go in with the fierceness and determination of a gladiator prepared to die and turn off the devil's box, we go out to play! We go down to the beach, we play on the seawall, we go to the backyard with the treehouse, and it is good. I purposely did not put any of the little kids in after school activities this fall because I wanted this time so badly for us. This time is so fleeting, breathe a little. 

We are generally in before the sun sets, they do homework, argue, mess up the house, find fault with one another, and cuddle and read with each other on the couch. This and that. 

One of the major things I am working on in my mothering is getting dinner on the table earlier. We have historically been late dinner eaters, 7, 7:30 even: to eat with Peter and Obi who are rarely ever home by that time. But this is hard on all of us, we all end up snacking too much and dinner clean-up runs too close to bed time. Obi and Peter walk in when we are clearing the table, and so shameful to admit but they often sit there eating leftovers at a filthy table, gross. Sorry fellas. 
Obi's travel shot, when he flies I like him
to take a pic of himself when he arrives and
send it to me, cause I'm cute like that,
and he's...cute!

If it is early enough, I try to head out for a run while Obi plays with them, but this plan goes awry far more often than it is accomplished.

Revisiting the sand city they built the night before
and seeing the destruction the tide wrought.

Everybody's a developer in Florida

Table gets cleared, kids get in the bath, teeth brushed, and we try astronomically hard to sit down, all eight of us, for prayer time. I read the Bible, or Youcat, or a story of a saint, conversation ensues, Isaac seizes the opportunity to jump repeatedly WWF style on every single one of us, and we pray a decade of the rosary. Just a decade, shameful, but guess how much more prayer a decade is than no prayer? 

A monumental difference. 

By 8:30 AnneMarie, Momo, Isaac and I head into their bedroom where AnneMarie reads to herself, I read to the little ones, sing to them, and we all slowly drift off. Usually by 9:30 Obi wakes me up, or I wake up on my own to find the big boys goofing around and Obi asleep on the couch. 

Very tired, I usually enter into some philosophical discussion the boys are having (recent discussions have included "why is it logistically improbable  for a teenager to live on his own in a hotel?;" "what are the defining characteristics of a psychopath?;" "why is it that Peter and Jude own a combined three single socks?" good stuff.) 

All the while Obi and I clean up the kitchen, Peter homeworks away, Joseph schemes, Jude teases all of us, on and on. 

And then we collapse. I don't know what time it is, between 9:30 and midnight, right about there. I read in bed, Obi works more on his computer in the chair in our bedroom (seriously) and somehow sleep finds us.

And then my alarm goes off at 5:20.

Dear Web Log, are you still listening? I'm done now, laundry awaits.     

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Theme Thursday: Cold

We went out last night to fly our kite at sunset, but flew nothing because of the tangles we helpless children left in it last time, then crumpled it up and left it at the bottom of a bin, hoping beyond hope knots would just kinda come to some agreement with each other and work things out for themselves before we came to take it out to play again.

No such luck.

Naomi shot this photo of me and the kite's adventure, with eager Isaac cheering me on, far more confident in my ability to reason with string than was warranted. 

I love this picture, shoes running amock, blanket tangled, dog standing guard, and most of all Isaac's pretty, pretty little knees. 

The wind was blowing, as evidenced by attempts with the kite, and although you can't tell, other than by my sweater and Isaac in his sister's coat, it was cold. The kind of cold that is soft and welcome on your cheek and in your hair, makes you feel forlorn and full of longing for Things Undefined, a sandy, gritty mood.

Brooding somewhat hopeless in front of Isaac's need for flight and my inability to unknot tangle after tangle, a never ending maze of meaningless snags, arguing also with the wind that WOULD have its own way with the string, the kite itself begging to be let go to play, I thought of this poem:

The Cold Heaven

Suddenly I saw the cold and rook-delighting heaven
That seemed as though ice burned and was but the more ice,   
And thereupon imagination and heart were driven   
So wild that every casual thought of that and this
Vanished, and left but memories, that should be out of season   
With the hot blood of youth, of love crossed long ago;   
And I took all the blame out of all sense and reason,   
Until I cried and trembled and rocked to and fro,   
Riddled with light. Ah! when the ghost begins to quicken,   
Confusion of the death-bed over, is it sent   
Out naked on the roads, as the books say, and stricken   
By the injustice of the skies for punishment?

So forgive me! I get a little Moody sometimes! 

Go see Clan Donaldson Mary Kate for more beautiful and far far less introspective photography. It's Theme Thursday: Cold!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

WWRW: Ender's Game

Guest post by Joseph, 12 year old dedicated unschooler (not really but he doesn't go to school and is incredibly hard to teach, so I don't really homeschool him, he just kind of learns.) 

Joseph says: 

Ender"s Game by Orson Scott Card is placed in the future where the earth is in war with aliens known as buggers. The government is searching for a person to lead the army into battle to destroy the buggers. They put  children through a series of tests starting from infancy, viewing their actions through a monitor placed in their neck. If they pass these tests they are put into Battle School where they learn to fight. Ender is chosen to go to Battle School and the government thinks he may be the one who can lead the entire army. He  goes through various trials in Battle School to determine if he is right for the job.

I liked many things about this book.  A few of the things I liked were that Ender was very young and then it progressed through his childhood. I thought the story teller was very good at making you feel like you were there. And I thought the whole idea of an alien invasion where the aliens have a different  “mind set” than humans was a very interesting idea too. 

What I liked most was the description of Battle School. I liked the idea of how all of the kids were in armies and lived together in dormitories. I also liked the mind games the children played on their "desks' that were really like advanced computers. The mind game collected from your personal experiences and built a structure that would suit you. The format of the war games that the children played were fascinating because they used different strategies to win, always trying to be more athletic and also smarter.  I thought it was interesting that the kids didn’t really care about their schoolwork and neither did any of the teachers. All that mattered was that the children learned enough to succeed in the war games, because that is how the earth would be saved. 

I recommend Ender's Game to anyone interested in science fiction or action stories.

Mom says: Surprising to me, I really enjoyed this story despite the action filled, sciency portions that I admittedly skimmed. Card's remarkable psychological perspective gives the reader just as great an opportunity to reflect on human thought patterns and behavior as on space travel and technological advancement (yawn). 

The writing is also spectacularly engaging in that it is straightforward and consumable for younger, fast paced minds, without compromising on quality of dialogue or internal musings. This passage between Ender and his sister, who have been separated for years while Ender's life was consumed with the rigors of Battle School, is a particularly compelling example:

"You're bigger than I remembered," she said stupidly.
 "You too," he said. "I also remembered that you were beautiful."
"Memory does play tricks on us."
"No. Your face is the same, but I don't remember what beautiful means anymore."

And POW! Doesn't that hit ya! 

Ender's Game, in all its dystopian evilness masked behind the "For the Good of Mankind" especially lends itself to worthy discussion between parent and child. Here are a few bullet points that parents should be prepared to discuss, as you can see, mainly surrounding the fact that the governments of the earth have decided that all rights are useless unless humanity can be saved from the buggers:

  • Individual freedom and privacy vs. fate of humanity (government spying on children from within their minds in order to find the right soldiers to save mankind) 
  • Age of reason for children, particularly when making decisions that will control the rest of their lives (Ender is asked whether he will forfeit his life to the govenment at the age of 6)
  • Government restrictions on religion and family size
  • Ends justifying the means (lies and secrecy on the part of the government in order to manipulate individuals to save mankind)
  • Genetic engineering of humans is alluded to, again, in order to create the perfect individual who will act as savior
  • Deprivation of affection in order to achieve results
  • At what point are the vile means a government takes for self preservation no longer worth the survival of humanity? 
No, not light stuff.

Thanks to Housewife Spice for hosting! Go check out what every one else is reading! 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


You know what the Web Log is in dire need of? Some fashion posts. High fashion that everyone can ooh and aah over and admire us for and hope to emulate in their own inadequate way. 

So with those humble sentiments in mind, I present you with our inaugural OOTD post (outfit of the day for the uninitiated): 


I give you my my niece Susana, aka Shosho, (my sister and I are inordinately fond of names of the nick variety).

Shosho is sporting...

  • Lovely purple puffer jacket similar here
  • White Circo summer dress embellished with tutu for extra volume and warmth similar here
  • Hot pink legwarmers similar here
  • Black moccasin booties similar here
  • Frightening on-all-four-haunches Dora Pillowpet accessory same here
  • Fashion forward impossibly symmetrical blonde bowl cut similar here
  • Painfully adorable dimple on bottom left cheek when she smiles just-so similar absolutely nowhere

At least that's what I see when I see her. Thanks for playing along, Shosho! Stay tuned for more inspiring OOTDs!

Monday, November 4, 2013


I was so excited for my two brainiac teenagers to find jobs. Money is of course one reason. We have never given out allowances at the House of Es, mostly because we are all too scatterbrained (every one of us, it's genetic)to remember anything on a weekly basis, and also because, well, ain't nobody got pocket change for dat! "Dat" being six kids. We do pay them for doing jobs around the house, which is in general an ok system. But not very regular, and I honestly don't pay them very well. 

So what happens when they want to "hang?" Just to meet friends for, geez, anything, costs them pocket change. Bowling, movies, mini-golf, football games, Mo's, none of that stuff is free it turns out. Now that they are driving age, every time the two of them have gone to meet friends, it has meant spending money. A lot of things they have simply missed out on, which means it's taking longer to establish friendships. This has not made for an easy transition. And it is so, so hard, I admit, to be the new kid in a new place and to always have to sit out whatever you are invited to because you don't have yet another five bucks. 

How do teenagers pay to do all this stuff? Do their parents really just give them oodles of money to "hang" with? According to Peter and Jude they do. 

But we don't. 

Are they secretly embittered against us for this? Maybe a little.

They also see that I can't pay them to mow the lawn or to clean the windows every single day. They also see that the money it costs for one round of mini-golf would pay for an entire month of Netflix for our whole family, or a new pair of shoes for Isaac's ever growing feet, or bread and juice for that homeless guy downtown for a week. 

And you know what? As much as they want to be cool and "hang" and play mini-golf, I know they love for our family to watch Netflix together, love Isaac and his shoe'd feet, even love that scary homeless guy who always wants to tell you his story and have you buy him some juice. 

So like the three little pigs in the fable (minus the smart one who built the brick house), Peter and Jude went off to seek their fortunes in the world. I was thrilled to think of my little, impressionable ones being taken under someone's generous wings and taught to do, well, anything! Flip burgers with aplomb, bag groceries with gracious manners, make change from a register with ever increasing brilliance and dexterity! And have their own money for bowling!

Well, they did get jobs. But I'm not sure they are learning...anything!

Peter does this: 

He stands on a street corner for four hour intervals listening to books on tape. He has finished about 5 books already, so I guess he is learning from reading? Oh! He is learning to be targeted and harassed by those filled with righteous indignation. Many the driver has shouted angrily at him, "ADOPT DONT SHOP!!!! PUPPY MILLS KILL!" He shrugs his shoulders and smiles. He got his first paycheck the other day and I don't think it hurt his dignity one bit to realize he could be replaced by a simple post and nail. 

Jude. Here he is when I dropped him off a block away (he's ashamed of me) from his esteemed place of business for his first day last week:

What does he do? Oh, he passes out flyers. On the beach. Dressed like this. Or in a fancy taco costume when he's lucky (pictures of that yet to come!)

If he proves himself a worthy flyer-passer-outer, he will graduate to working in this classy taco shack. That is a gigantic "if," folks.

Well, they may not be interning with a  motorcycle mechanic or a French chef, but they are filling some kind of need, and more importantly, are earning enough money to hang. My cool kids.