Showing posts with label kids rock. Show all posts
Showing posts with label kids rock. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 18

*whine* It's SO HOT, but Good News!

Don't tell the kids I said that. When they complain that it's 80, I remind them that in August we'll be begging for an 80-degree day. And it's true. (Also, by October, I won't be able to force them outside if it's 70 because it'll be "too cold". So.) But still... once the humidity starts creeping in, it's just gross.

We've been culling the outgrown winter gear so there's less to stash over the summer. Wow, that's bittersweet. However, the foyer is looking fantastic! Also, now that we've stored all the hats, scarves, and random gloves, we've found a ton of flashlights and headlamps! The foyer also looks vaguely like a staging platform for night raids.

There's a cookout here at the house in the next week, and we want to have it tidied. Spring cleaning, if you will. Or, Spring Hey Let's Finish A Couple of Projects Because 12 Years Is A Bit Long To Be "Renovating" A House Cleaning. Things we did first are about due to be redone, you know? But life... it gets in the way of plans.

Speaking of life... James got notified today that he's been accepted into the Honors College at UAH. That was a huge boost. It's been a long, weird year, and things just kept crumbling at the last minute. He was pretty sure this was another one for the pile. (To be fair, they send the notification in a very nondescript envelope, and he didn't want to open it, thinking it was a "Thanks, but no thanks" letter.) I'm glad he opened it. Better yet, he's glad he opened it! Now we just need to find enough money to cover housing...

John brought his ACT composite up four points! That was huge! I am so proud of him. He's taking a break while he works on his Eagle project and gets his crew ready for Philmont.

Philmont plans are coming along. We need to hike more, and John and I both are looking forward to doing that as soon as we buy a little wiggle room on the house/property work. I'm trying to work more, to cover the various gaping wounds in the checking account. Not so much looking forward to that, but thankful for it, and appreciative of it. Sometimes, that's gotta be enough. Sometimes, it's more than enough.

Be encouraged!

~Dy


Thursday, April 13

The Push

Well, "the push" turned out to be more driving. Blergh. But all the kids' teeth are now up to snuff, and John's had a consult with a new oral surgeon. I'm not entirely sure how it's Thursday again, but there you have it.

We did get the wall cleaned and rinsed. The kids have decided to paint the load panel, too, since it's proud of the wall and incredibly ugly. Seems sane.

We've peeled another large swath off the basement couch. Our first "real" -- as in, new, not off the classifieds, only ours, bought with cash and straight from the store -- sofa was an Ashley sleeper sofa that we loved and loved... for about two years, until the cushions gave up, the upholstery started cracking and peeling and we realized Ashley doesn't count that as a defect in materials or workmanship. Actually, they seem to think of it as a perk. I don't know. Weird business model, but whatever. We bought a replacement that we love off Craigslist and demoted the poorly made Ashley to the basement. But it was kind of gross, and we weren't sure what to do with a couch that wasn't appealing, and wasn't in particularly "good" shape, but wasn't legitimately trash, either. We are loathe to throw away things that still have utility (which explains so much, really)... In a fit of creative implosion, I decided that we would just peel the rest of the material off and paint it! (Thanks, Pinterest!) That was two years ago. Turns out, it takes a lot of focus and determination to peel bonded fabric completely off a 6' couch... The kids pick at it while they're playing video games. Every once in a while, I'd muster up the umpf to go down there and just work on the couch, but the basement heebed me out and I couldn't stay down there too long without succumbing to the overwhelming urge to toss everything out and set it on fire.

Anyway, it's almost to the point that we can paint it. Probably a summer project. If it doesn't work, then we'll buy a slipcover for it. But if it does work? We'll have a weatherproof party couch! How cool is that? So many of my ideas could be incredibly fun and delightful finished projects, or they could be four cinder blocks away from the neighbors telling their children not to go over onto that property. I never really know until we've tried. But I have to try.

Speaking of neighbors, we have new ones. They've been busy trimming trees and clearing the property of debris. The kids heard someone in the bushes, whistling to the birds. And one of them waved back as we both pulled out of our drives the other morning. So, I'm hopeful they'll be good neighbors and will think of us as good neighbors. We need to make something and go welcome them.

We're in a bit of a lull with the kids' things. Jacob is back to Just Ballet Class, no rehearsals, and we're all appreciative of getting three extra days back during the week. John's waiting on the ACT scores to be released, but we've tweaked the plan for the next test in the meantime (no more prep, lots more reading, more books, more words, and, uh, keep plugging away at the math). James is in a holding pattern on future plans and trying to figure out how to get enough sleep without just sleeping from midnight to noon. (It's tricky. I get it.) And the Littles - they are great. They're biking and making movies, crafting and making food, all with a nonstop background chatter in voice for characters they've made up. We don't get it, but we love it.

Be encouraged!

~ Dy

Monday, April 10

Oh, my goodness! Memories

We worked in the basement a bit today. We have worked in that basement so many times over the years. We've never gotten it "done". It's a definite If You Give a Mouse a Cookie situation. "Well, if we're going to do this, we'll need to do these things. And if we're going to do these things, we really need to do that Big Thing." Next thing you know, we've cornered ourselves and can't get anything done down there, so we stack it up and go back upstairs. This time, however, we have doors!

Yeah, I know. Doors. Woohoo? Yes, Woo. hoo. Seriously huge progress, and I'm going to drive this donkey cart into the ground now that we have some momentum. Today, we got the industrial junk relegated to a corner that's not right smack as you walk in, and what do you know, it made a huge difference. (Yes, this should have been obvious. We suspected, but it wouldn't have mattered before, so we didn't try it out.) Then we flipped the hanging out area (gaming area? living area?) whatever, we moved the couch and the tv over by the Real Doors. So now, it has a vaguely Legitimate Living Space feel to it. As long as you don't look at the walls, or the rafters, or the floors. But if you keep your eyes firmly between 2' and 5' from the floor, it looks nice down there.

Actually, you can look at the rafters - we vacuumed them this afternoon, and they, too, look nice. That floor, though, is just going to be ugly until next year.

Then we realized the camping shelf, which, for the last ten years, has been THE tidy focal point of the basement, looked horribly shifty and ugly. I could have wept for joy! The pretty bit looks ugly, now! We're making tangible progress! So we moved it, too. Now the industrial bits are locked into a corner by makeshift walls of storage, and there is a clearly defined livable space emerging around it. I can live with that.

We picked up and cleared out so much that we found James' missing Mahabis sole! 😂 (It fell off while he was walking around down there about a month and a half ago. We have looked and looked for that thing and had both given up on ever finding it.) I think he is now certain that ALL the work was worth it, even if we never finished the basement. Happy kid. Maybe his lost tube of thermal paste will show up in the next round of shifting?

Back when we'd painted some of the walls and built the closets down there, we'd painted all the wall we could get to. As of today, there's double the amount of wall now visible, and it needs painting. When we moved a couple of shelves, we found a little spot on the wall where John's been testing spray paint for his projects over the years. It's actually kind of pretty. The more we walked around it, the more it grew on us. Finally, John asked if we could just do that, intentionally, to the wall behind the sofa. Yeah, why not? It won't preclude us from hanging drywall someday, but in the meantime, they'll have a space that's all theirs. That's on tomorrow's docket, and I'm stoked.

I am so close to being able to use the weight machine again! I think after tomorrow's push, it'll be safe to use without fear of knocking over paper piles or cracking someone in the head while they attempt to read in the chair.

We'll devote the remainder of this week to fixing that up as much as possible off this momentum. Then this coming weekend we'll see what we can do about the landscaping. Once things start to green up down here, it's on. You've got to stay ahead of it, and I just know all my local friends are going to shake their heads and point out that we're already behind.

But in the meantime, Be Encouraged!

~ Dy


Friday, April 7

It's Showtime!

Months of preparation, daily rehearsals, so much sweat in one room... And now, it' time!

Huntsville Ballet Company is presenting its Spring Repertory Mix performance this weekend. They will have special guests from Ballet Chicago performing George Balanchine's Stars and Stripes Pas de Deux, as well as Huntsville Ballet Company's performance of Billy the Kid, and a special presentation - for the first time in Huntsville - of Balanchine's choreography of Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux.



I'm going for one of the Gunslingers in Billy the Kid, but he assures me that the rest of the performance is going to be OMAZING and totally worth it. (Picture his eyes going wide, there.) From what I've seen in rehearsals, he's not wrong.

If you're in North Alabama this weekend, and are looking for something delightful to do, come with us! You can get more information and tickets here.

Be encouraged!

~ Dy


Thursday, April 6

*poof* It's Thursday

I got a weekly map drawn, but didn't get around to re-configuring anything. That's crazy, and I can't even blame the Instant Gratification Monkey. Perhaps later... maybe.

Adventure Thursday is out today. We've got storms and rain and scary winds. It makes more sense to stay home and watch the tips of the pine trees sway. Philosophically, I love to see them - they are comforting and remind me that we must bend in the storms so we don't break. Pragmatically, I am always thankful I'm not a tree stand hunter (or a ship's boy in the 18th Century British Navy, stuck in the crow's nest). Yes, that's a bit specific, but it makes my knees hurt just thinking about being up there when they're swaying back and forth. So, all in all, much to be thankful for as we watch the trees do their thing.

Jacob's first on stage experience is coming up this weekend. Rehearsals are running full tilt, even among the storms. I appreciate the dedication of the Company, and also that the school itself will cancel classes when the weather's nasty. It did crack me up, though, to get the alert that classes were canceled but rehearsals were still on. The work they're putting in shows, though, and they look amazing. I can't wait to see the performance! I also look forward to having the days between classes back, but that's the mother-chauffeur-chef-and-chief-bottle-washer in me talking.

All in all, things are going well, here. I've lost my train of thought. Jase, of course, got up and started talking a million miles a minute as soon as I started typing. Want to hear about a trap door in Minecraft? I've got a 9yo who will tell you all about it! You don't even have to ask.

So it's taken me an hour to write this, because it's important to stop and listen. It's also important to be still and stop talking occasionally. (I remember my mother sighing and smiling weakly as I bounded down the stairs at five in the morning to sit with her at the table and have coffee - it never dawned on me that she got up that early to have some time to herself. She never said a word. I wish she would have, though.) We're working on balance, on mutual respect for space and time. But I know also that sometimes you just wake up with all the words stored up in your head and have to get them out to make room for your day.

I'll write again when they're in bed and I can make room in my own head.

Be encouraged!
~Dy

Wednesday, March 29

The Search for Senior Photos

Most of my friends already had their kids' Senior Photos done by, um, the start of April.

*sigh*

Of course, most of my friends also took their own Senior Photos. I have very talented friends. And I'm pretty sure they keep me around just to see what ridiculous thing we'll set fire to in the front yard next. And maybe for allergy-friendly snacks. It's definitely not for my photography skills, though. Also, although I can take a decent photo of some of my children, I cannot take a good one of James. Nor he of me. It's like some kind of bizarre grudge match, where we're determined to under-do each other.

So we've hired a photographer. It seemed the wise course of action.

Then the photographer asked us to send a list of outfits...

OK. So. For someone who models, this kid really doesn't care what he's wearing. As long as it's soft and not binding, he is happy. (If you're picturing sweats, an over-sized graphic t-shirt, and a hoodie, you must know my child, or have one like him.) He understands the value of wearing the appropriate apparel to certain venues, and honestly, I am happy with that. He is happy with that. Overall, we're happy. But he has no idea what he's going to wear. Or what he wants from the shoot, other than pictures.

We called on the power of the internet to get some ideas and inspiration. Here's what we discovered:

1. He does not have a football, or a football uniform, or a letterman's jacket. (Or, insert appropriate sport here.)
2. He does not have a favorite automobile (I suggested we use the Volvo and go for a vintage vibe - he snorted at me).
3. Photos for girls in this context do not convert well to photo ideas for boys.
4. Nature. Um, not so much. We're all surprised he stayed in Scouts with all that outdoorsing going on.
5. Random chair. In a road, or a hiking trail. (We just don't understand this one. How does that capture the student? Unless the student actually sits in chairs in meadows, but while we do think some do, we suspect that there aren't nearly as many as Pinterest would have you believe.)
6. Train tracks. (This would explain the recent deaths attributed to selfies. Don't try this at home, kids. Always have a professional photographer make you stand on the tracks for photographs.)
7. Ticks. So much lying in grass. ARGH.
8. Writing on feet. I don't want an 8x10 of the soles of his feet on my wall. I'm sorry, I just don't.

Overall, it wasn't an inspiring experience.

We tried brainstorming some other suggestions. He does like the city, so we thought something in the downtown area, with tall buildings in the background might work. I suggested a coffee shop (that might have been just so I can sit in a comfortable chair that's inside a building and have coffee, but I still maintain that it would work for the photos, too). Or maybe we can go to a park in town (one that gets sprayed regularly and isn't likely to have ticks) and use the laptop and a cup of coffee with the downtown buildings in the background.

He wants to bring the cat. I tried to warn him that those end up on Awkward Family Photographs every time. He remains skeptical.

I'm thinking I'll need to pay the photographer a lot more than he's asking.

Be encouraged!

~ Dy

Friday, March 24

Well, then.

My week, in pictures. (I thought I had more pictures. This has not been a great week, though, and it makes total sense that I didn't take a lot of pictures of the not-great bits. So, well, there you have it.)

It started out really well...


And then, it all went horribly wrong...


And then, out of nowhere...


As of right now, we have a temporary set up in place until we can get that line fixed. Love that the propane company delivered 100 gallons to the tank before testing the system for a leak, even though it was clear that something was broken  - and then they had to lock it until the leak is fixed (which I totally understand locking it -- but I do hope they, likewise, understand the laughter that ensued when they hit me with the invoice for the gas in the tank that they've locked... because sometimes life is just like that).

We do spend a lot of time just sitting and watching the light through the glass in the new door. I bet it'll look even better once the trim is up and the stickers are off the door, too!

And our Easter Baby is nine. Wow. THE baby. Is... not so much a baby. And I'm okay with that, except when the realization that he's halfway grown hits. Then I'm not. Parenting is weird. But he felt loved and appreciated and welcome on his special day (hopefully he feels that way every day - hopefully, we can all feel that way more often than not), and he's happy to be nine.

Be encouraged!

~Dy

Tuesday, March 14

From 0 to 60 in 3 years!

Thankfully, we are not sports cars.

Jacob just realized that if he really wants to apply to the US Naval Academy or the Air Force Academy, he probably better get on it with Scouting and earn his Eagle. The thing is, between ballet, school, and that random year of cancer, we have no idea where he is right now with Scouts.

I emailed his Advancement Coordinator and asked her for a copy of his Individual History Report (which she emailed to me, instead of telling me I had to come to a meeting, because she is awesome and kind and goes out of her way to help people who can't get to meetings until after May). He and I compared that with his Scout Book (which, honestly, it seems nobody even bothers to read, let alone use - and I don't know why! It's a wonderfully done book, with helpful information, useful logs, and handy charts. The Boy Scout Handbook is a list-maker's dream!)

As of right now, he's been in Scouts for three years. He's been an active Scout in an active Troop. He is... Second Class. I can't help but wonder... how hard one has to work to do that. We're going to chalk it up to being spread a little thin. Or something. The thing is, he's got a ton of stuff done, just not signed off. So that's good. And he's got a lot of stuff Very Nearly Done. Also good, although a bit frustrating.

I told a friend that I'm really glad he's not my first Scout, or I'd worry that there was something wrong. There's not, though. This is just pretty much how boys figure it out - by not figuring it out at first and letting it get really good and challenging. Then one day, *poof*. They up and figure it out. (I cannot tell you how much I wish I could go back ten years and tell my old self this.)

Then, as if to highlight just how OK things are, when I asked James to keep an eye toward actively encouraging Jacob, he laughed and said, "Just as soon as I'm done encouraging John, I'll get right on it." I had to laugh. He's had so much on his plate lately that I guess he's finally learned not to put more on until he's cleared a little room. But then he sighed a contented sigh and said that he feels for John, right now, because he knows exactly how it feels to have Senior year looming, college visits, ACT prep, and Eagle project all just hovering right there in your face. He was quiet a moment before he said, "But it's good."

If my time on earth were due to end soon, that would have been the perfect time to go. "But it's good." Ah, yes, it is.

And that, my friends, will likely be what gives me the encouragement I need to keep going, to give it my all, to know that it's good. It matters.

Be encouraged!

~ Dy

Sunday, March 12

A Sleepy Day of Worship

We awoke this morning, bright and early. Oh, so, early. Fortunately, it's been so cloudy and overcast this winter that we've stopped relying on how light it is outside to gauge the time. We just had to believe the clocks when they told us it was 6:30 *yawn*...

Somehow, Em and I both got slated to serve in this morning's worship service. I maintain that it was part brilliance (as we might not have made it with the time change), and part evil plan (as helpers have to show up half an hour earlier to get squared away) that they put two of us in on this Sunday. But we made it. On time, even. And nobody fell asleep in their seat. The drive up and the drive back? We lost several, there. But we held our own in the pews.

Yesterday, we had a Philmont training hike, so John and I were out the door at 6 in the morning. The high was something like 39 degrees, and it rained on us nonstop after the first mile. It was a really great opportunity to identify weak points in our gear and training. My gear is basically composed of weak points held together by gravity. My training is essentially at the whim of gravity. But it's good to know.

The Vibram Five Fingers, however, held up admirably, and today, my feet are about the only part of me that is not sore and tight. No blisters, either, in spite of doing the entire 12 miles in wet feet. The thighs, I can blame on the hills we did. (So many hills!) The back and shoulders on not having adjusted the internal frame of my pack before I loaded it up (d'oh!) Also, 400mg magnesium is not near enough to stave off DOMS. See? We learned a lot! Never stop learning!

I'm getting a handle on what food to take for the trail. Blessedly, pre-cooked bacon is shelf stable and fairly light. Guess what I'm eating on the trail? Oh, yeah! The Oberto original jerky trail mix is also nice, although it won't make a full meal substitute. The carbs are a little high for regular consumption (within the context of nutritional ketosis). I pitched the idea today to Z of making jerky from an entire roast before we head out. We'll do a practice roast, first. I'm thinking if we salt it and dry it properly, we can vacuum seal it and it should hold up OK. Will keep you updated on how that goes.

After the hike, John and I split and headed to a bonfire for their ballroom dance class. That was hosted by a family that just started this year, and it was a delightful opportunity for the kids to visit and get to know each other outside the formal setting of the dance floor. They had a blast. I had a blast, too. We got in a lot later than we'd anticipated, but it was worth it. Even at 6:30 this morning.

Be encouraged!

~ Dy

Wednesday, March 8

Kentucky is Beautiful and Life is Weird

So, John and I are in Kentucky to visit the University of Kentucky. Since it's a full day's drive and the tour starts before we usually even get around to making breakfast, we decided to come up the day before and spend the night. The little bohemian in my head started chanting, "Road trip! Road trip!" It is so beautiful here. Wow! Go, Kentucky!

He, however, was not so keen. Turns out, he doesn't have a little bohemian in his head. He has a homebody and someone who bakes... a comedian, and a pretty competent first responder. And that's about it. I don't get it, but he's happy, so I don't have to get it. He is also a very good sport, and he agreed to stop at the Hidden River Cave for a tour and some rappelling yesterday. So that was cool.

We were about three hours into our drive when he told me that he's actually pretty committed to going to one college, in particular. He'd only agreed to come on this because he has made the reservation before he'd toured the other one. By the time he'd made his decision, it was too late to cancel with any decency, and he didn't want to just be a no-show.

Thus begins, and ends, our Spring College Tour of '17. *moment of silence*

Jacob's already making noise about the Naval Academy. So, probably not gonna get a lot of travel time out of that one, either.

If this keeps up, I may just drag the Littles to see every school on every continent. I've been looking forward to week-long road trips with fledgling kids ever since I learned that was A Thing. I pictured unplanned segues into neat little shops, eating at small diners, walking the streets of cities we hadn't seen before. I envisioned mad dashes to get from one place to another because this next one might just be The One. I hadn't honestly expected that it wouldn't be Our Thing. So far, it's not. Both of them hit a couple mandatory tours that I'd set up to help them get a feel for it, then promptly poked around, picked the school they wanted, and said, "Found it." Done. (None were on the Mandatory Tours list, so at least I know they weren't just picking something to shut me up. That's good.)

Yet another reminder that it's all OK - however it shakes down, whatever it looks like, it is all OK. Also, it's about them. Enjoy them. Let them lead. Follow where they want to explore. If you can get a road trip out of it, savor it. If not, enjoy hanging out at home. Whatever works, works. And that's good stuff.

We're off to breakfast at the hotel. Checked the weather, and it doesn't look like we'll need to stop for rain jackets, so we're set for the day!

Be encouraged!

~ Dy


Saturday, March 4

Today is the Finale

I guess Z let the Littles wash their Pusheen plush toys yesterday when he threw in a load of sheets. That was very cool of him. The little cretins (I say that lovingly), however, opened the wash and retrieved their soft toys before the load had finished drying, but didn't think to mention it to anyone. So we had damp bedding after last night's show. We reset the dryer and then settled in on the couch last night to wait for them to dry. We awoke this morning, on the couch, piled up like kittens, still dressed in party garb and feeling faintly like we hadn't had quite enough fun to be waking up in that condition. Clearly, we had not planned that out well. Thankfully, we have a comfy couch, so we're not dragging today.

This morning, though, the house looked a little like a circus. Some of the crew was up and loading up for a competition down south, balancing awkward loads and tossing things back and forth. The Littles scrambled around trying to cobble together some semblance of winter wear (we really haven't had "Winter" yet). I think I saw someone wearing mismatched gloves, and I was glad they'd found one for each hand. Someone threw in a load of wash - that's gonna hurt when it's time to go, because I'm pretty sure it was something they needed for the show today... There are people doing homework, people reading books, people running through skin care routines, people making breakfast, people packing bags. Many are the same people doing multiple things. If I were clever, I'd have Chromecast some calliope music to set the mood. Instead, I made coffee. Probably more supportive that way.

In a little bit, we will head into town for one long, long day. I can't even pretend that I know what it's going to look like other than long. And good. I'm excited. And tired. It's the final day of Fashion Week Alabama. There's still time to buy a ticket and come enjoy the spectacular show and entertainment tonight - we'll be at Lowe Mill.



Enjoy your circus today. Love on those monkeys!

Be encouraged!
~ Dy

Friday, March 3

Stepping Outside Your Comfort Zone

One good thing has come of the boys' foray into the fashion industry: I get to model (heh) how to step outside your comfort zone and still function.

This has been so good for me. Not because it's oodles of fun to stand in a crowd of 5'10" size zeroes and a dozen photographers. Not because I will ever have any clue about fashion or how it works. But because it's easy to just accept that the entirety of parenting is being shoved repeatedly out of your comfort zone and call it good. (As soon as you figure out how to not stress about toddlers, the game changes and you're in the preschool years. Shortly after you get the hang of that, here comes 6. And then pre-adolescence. Then, God help us, 13. It will keep you on your toes, for sure.) It's easy to stop trying things that make you uncomfortable because you know in the blink of an eye you're going to be discussing genitalia and executive function on a damn-near daily basis, so why go looking for trouble?

Because it stretches us. It lengthens us. It strengthens us. Because if yoga is good for your body, then this is yoga for your mind. For your spirit. For your outlook.

Some of what I've learned, I already knew and just needed to be reminded of: those lovely girls are just girls - they have the capacity to be kind, to be catty, to be anxious, and to be bold. You know, just like everyone else. Those photographers? They just love what they do. They see beauty in everything - every nook and cranny, every twinkling eye and every somber moment.

Some of what I've learned is new: what happens behind the scenes, how all this *flaps hands wildly* works, what goes into it, what makes a show (or a photo shoot, or a look book) happen. I've learned what the process looks like, and how it's different for each person involved (going back to that whole people-are-people thing, above). It's been fascinating. And exhausting. And for my ENTJ brain, a little bit frustrating. I'm not going to lie. But overall, it's been good.

Mostly, though, I appreciate being able to show the boys, first hand, how one goes about wading into a world that is absolutely not your world, and how the same things we've taught them about our world apply.

Be kind.
Be honest.
Look people in the eye.
Smile.
Offer to help.
Appreciate what others do.
Offer to do what you can, and be willing to learn new things.
Wear it like you meant it.*

Plus, my posture's improving. 😄 So I guess even standing in a room of 5'10" size zeroes is beneficial in and of itself.

Be encouraged!
~ Dy

* OK, that last one comes from the many, many times we've gotten to wherever we're going only to discover one of us was wearing mis-matched socks, or shoes, or the wrong pants. Just hold your head up and wear it like you meant it. That works on the runway, too.

Wednesday, March 1

It's Go Time!

While James has been writing essays, researching scholarships, pounding the pavement looking for work, he's also been working towards this week: It's Fashion Week in North Alabama!


Photography by Mannon Giovanni
Suit by Dionicio's Closet
Styled by Shauntana Buchannan
Hair by Hair of Essence 

The Kick-Off is tonight, with runway looks by designer LeJeune, a special presentation from Belk styled by Shauntana Buchannan (who is available to help you put your look together - just stop by the Belk in Bridge Street, Madison, and ask for her), a formal wear show, as well as pop-up boutiques, art, and more.

There will be shows each night, from tonight through Saturday's Finale.

If you would like to come, please consider purchasing your ticket through this link and help support the AFA, as well as James. (He does not receive proceeds from the sale of tickets. He only helps move Fashion Week Alabama forward.)

Be encouraged!

~ Dy

Friday, February 24

Understanding

Last night, when the boys returned from class, James said, "Wow. Now I understand how hard what you do really is."

I truly appreciated that. He wasn't talking about the teaching, planning, guiding, or feeding aspects, but that's OK. Because what's really killing me this semester is Thursday's driving.

Z and I have a car sharing arrangement that allows whoever is driving more miles to take the most fuel efficient vehicle. So, two days a week I get his commuter car. (We're not quite where we can sell the Suburban, but we are very, very close.) It's a great arrangement and it's run smoothly for the most part. Yesterday, however, on his way out the door, James snagged the keychain with the one and only key to Z's car. I didn't realize it when he grabbed the keys, because we keep all the keys on the same shelf. We have copies of most keys, and he just didn't think about it being an issue.

But when the rest of us got ready to head out to run errands, hit the book store, get shoes, and head to class (all things I'd planned because Jacob had opted to skip ballroom to buy us an extra two hours), I couldn't find the key (obviously, with it not being home). Eventually, I called James to ask where he'd set it when he'd gotten in the previous night. (This is the one time I hated that he's so good about putting his phone on vibrate while he's in class. I had to keep calling and just hope it was in his pants pocket.)

"Well, I have one here, in my pocket."

"That's the only one. I need it!"

So, bless him, James drove up from Ballroom to bring me the key. And I tasked him with getting Jacob to ballet so I could take the Littles straight to sign language because the delay had made it likely that no one would get to the right place in time if I had to do both (there is no time to detour to the house, really, and we hit rush hour traffic). He did (because he's awesome). And then he had to drive back down for class, and to pick up his brother who'd waited for him at a coffee shop, then drive home. When he got home, he'd logged 192 miles. Or, as we like to call it, A Full Thursday.

He was beat. I sympathized and suggested a hot cup of tea and an early lights out. He probably slept like the dead.

And as much as I hated for him to have to run the gauntlet of a Thursday, I'm actually glad he did it. It's good for him to understand that sometimes the schedule is a high wire act and we all have to do our parts in order for us not to keep falling off the wire and having to scramble across the net, back up the ladder, and out onto the wire again. But it was also very good for him to have first-hand experience of the way you scramble across the net, back up the ladder, and out onto the wire again. Ta-da! It can be done. And it's OK.

I mean, I wouldn't ever shove a kid off a bike just so they could learn to get back on, but it is good to fall off and see that it's not the end of the world. I guess we'll just call those the happy accidents in life. (One more, and then I'll stop. Promise.) Things come apart at the seams and you learn how to use double-sided tape or a stapler to keep it together until you can get home and redo the seams, right?

As a parent, it was a huge win, if only because I didn't yell (well, outside my head). It was an accident. It wasn't malicious or indicative of any massive character failing. It was just a goof up, and although it made SO many things hard for the rest of the day, it didn't do an actual harm. Plus, the Littles got to class on time, and that was fantastic for them.

Happy accidents, none on the actual highway. I'm a happy camper. And today, we get a spare key made for Z's commuter car...

Be encouraged!

~ Dy

Friday, February 17

TGIT... erm, F...

Wow, got up this morning and thought, "How is it Thursday already?"

But it's Friday.

So that gives you a good indication of how I'm doing, here. Happy, but totally not caught up.

We're in a lull at the moment, which, really, we needed. There was a harrowing, break-neck race a couple of nights ago to submit an application before the midnight (please let it have been "midnight Mountain time") deadline. One of the children got a fantastic crash course in the value of submitting applications before the actual deadline -- when successful submission opened up a variety of additional scholarships for which he qualified. Each one required an essay. He had 40 minutes to do it, and our internet crapped out at the 30 minute mark.

I can't tell you how fantastic it is to have a child get a clue that you didn't lob at him from across the room.

I also can't tell you how thankful I am that I'm not a heavy drinker, because it seems like a totally legit go-to at some points.

But I didn't yell. I climbed in bed with a book and told him to text me when he got the issue fixed. He did. The moment has passed, it's done, and now we're moving forward.

Jacob tried to find another class he could move into, to free up some of the time crunch on our Thursdays, but that was a bust. We both plan to use some insane Introvert Time Protection Schemes when he's registering for this fall -- not because either of us is introverted, but because introverts know how to guard their time, and we clearly have no clue at all. We can't be trusted with the calendar.

I want to sit in this lull and enjoy it, but I also want to hurry up and get to the next adventure. Life is weird. But so good. It's all good, and I appreciate it!

What are you looking forward to? And what are you enjoying now?

Be encouraged!

~ Dy

Thursday, February 9

Thank Goodness for Cell Phones

With the older boys out and away so much, we got them cell phones to help with the logistics. Sometimes I wonder why we bothered. They seldom answer them. Neither one has set up voice mail (not that any of us checks it -- what a different world it is since the advent of caller ID!) There isn't a segment of society I know of that is more likely to leave the house with 9% battery charge and no charger cable.

And yet, what a difference it's made to have this technology readily available.

One little message lets us know they've arrived safely.

"Survived"

"not dead"

"didn't die"*

None of mine send normal messages like, "made it on time" or "we have arrived safely at our destination and will now proceed with the scheduled activities". I'm OK with that. They're communicating with me. They're giving me what is, truthfully, the only part I care about: Are You OK? It's wonderful. And they're good about that.

With one swipe of a finger, they let us know if there was a change in plans: "Going to Austin's" or "Sent the Littles ahead with John".

In the 80's? Yeah, that wasn't gonna happen. (You may have been a better kid than I was, and been better about touching base. My friends and I tended to act like once we left the house, that part of our lives was paused and the part we were in was the only one with anything actually happening. Not consciously, mind, but looking back at it, that seems to be a reasonable explanation. We weren't intentionally jerks, but we were thoughtless about anything that wasn't the here and now.) I think kids do still tend to be a little thoughtless about anything that's not the here and now, but cell phones make it easier to remember to let your mother know you're not dead in a ditch right now.

My poor mother. All our poor mothers. We may or may not have had a quarter on us. Or thought to ask a friend's mother if we could use their house phone. And when there was a change of plans? Mmm-boy. My mother is gone, but if your mother is still alive, would you please apologize to her on my behalf?

If only for that, alone, the cell phones are wonderful. Add in the ability to say, "We're out of cream," when they'll be passing the store, or "Do you need gas money?" while you're actually AT the bank, and it drops the whole difficulty factor of communication by a full magnitude.

So while these perks don't negate the very real concerns our kids have to face with learning to navigate technology, and they don't replace legit parental involvement and communication, I am feeling the very real love for what positive things they've brought into our lives.

Be encouraged!

~ Dy

*actual examples of standard messages

Friday, February 3

The Best People In The World

Do you know who the best people in the world are? They're the ones who "get" your kid. The ones who believe in her and have high expectations for her, but who step in with grace and affection and love when the kid gets overwhelmed, or makes an honest mistake, or even does something boneheaded.

They're the ones who give you room to laugh and shake your head and remember that we were all once just-barely-grown and trying to figure it all out.

They allow you to shed your frustration and come back to a place of support and encouragement.

They're the ones who point out what they love about your child when your brain is freaking out and you're starting to wonder if the only real options available are homelessness or living in the basement. (Which, they're not. But the brain is a crazy organ with a warped sense of humor.)

They're the ones who willingly write up a letter of recommendation on only 12 hours notice because someone didn't read the application all the way to the end before taking a deep, panicked breath and starting on the essay.

They're the ones who share their own stories with your child -- about missed deadlines, or botched labs, or fender benders, or whatever mishap your own kid is currently beating herself about the head for. (We actually spent about half an hour at book club a couple of weeks ago sharing stories of freak car incidents we'd all experienced, to encourage a young man who'd had One Of Those Days. In the end, he was able to laugh - mostly at us, and our ridiculous stories - and realize that he hadn't doomed himself to being That Kid forever and ever.)

They laugh gently, they cluck sympathetically, they point out that it doesn't mean you're awful, it means you're human.

And humans are fantastic if you give them room to be!

The best way to find these people is to be one of these people. If you have this, feed it regularly and roll around in it - you're all doing good work, and it matters. If you don't have this, fire it up. Roll up your sleeves and go love on some kids. You'll find your people. They tend to create a symbiotic energy, encouraging and loving on each other and each other's children in turn. It's a beautiful gift you can give to yourself, your children, your friends, their children, and so on. It really is.

Be encouraged!
~ Dy

Sunday, January 29

We Cannot Do Everything

That sounds so trite. I know. But here it is, Sunday, and I'll tell you, I am dragging. Dragging more than the schedule would indicate makes sense. But I think maybe I've reached the limit of my contortions and we're going to have to scale something back. (As I write that, I am reminded that I have a meeting Wednesday to see if I can help with the back end of a project coming up... hmm... probably should have written this post last week. Someone get me a Time-Turner! Or a virtual assistant!)

James and I headed out of town yesterday for a photo shoot. That was a fantastic experience. Not just the shoot, but the whole road trip. I so enjoy spending time with him, and when we're on the road (and nobody's doing Zombie Rainbow Dash impressions in the second row, so it's quiet), we have time to just talk. Laugh. Ponder. He's a neat young man, and I'm glad to know him.

This afternoon, the boys went to their Godparents' with Z to split and stack wood for the house. I love that when we mentioned the need, they all said, "When do you wanna go?" This wasn't on my radar when I was pregnant with any of them, but if I'd thought about it, it's one of the traits I'd have prayed for for each one. Lord, make them generous in spirit and willing to work. ( Now, I pray, "Lord, thank you for thinking of that when I was too young and scared to think beyond, 'Please let them be OK'!")

When the rest of us got home, I turned the Littles loose to play video games for a bit and I worked on the menu, the lesson plans, social media, work, and chatting with a cousin. That was lovely. No clue how to make our weeks less draining yet, but hopefully inspiration will strike soon. If not, there are a few episodes of Doc Martin left, and I have fuzzy socks!

Be encouraged!

~ Dy

Wednesday, January 25

Opportunity Costs

So this was weird...

James seems to be zeroing in on the college he wants to go to. It's entirely his choice, and I think he's putting some good thought into his choice. He's leaning toward the one that's probably the best fit for him.

And now I find myself fretting over the ones he isn't leaning toward. (But, this campus is lovely! And that Physics program is amazing! But what about... But this one has... But, but but...) Which feels very dumb, and vaguely like I'm upset about his choice, which I'm not.

So what IS that?

It's fear. It's the Very Real Application of the concept of Opportunity Cost, and while it's not a Big Hairy Fear, I still don't like it. It's uncomfortable.

I've faced it before -- I got married (if you marry this one person, that means that none of the other people out there who are very good people can be your spouse), and that didn't bother me. I bought a house (and goodness knows that's a bit more of a commitment than picking a college... *raised eyebrow*). I choose grocery items and hair color, vehicles and clothing, doctors and medical choices... regularly, and with some skill. Why the difference here?

So I asked some trusted friends if they thought perhaps I am losing my mind. They've both got children out there, studying outside the nest, doing new things. They're about 10 klicks ahead of me on this particular journey. Both responded with a resounding, "Totally normal." It turns out, this is, in fact normal. We don't know why.

Perhaps it's because we dream larger than life for our children. We want to offer them the best of everything, and we don't want to limit them. We spend the bulk of two decades trying to cobble together opportunities and weave them into an Anything is Possible array for them. After that kind of lifestyle, we spend time looking at colleges and seeing some pretty fantastic things here and there... and then ask them to limit the the next few years of their lives by picking Just One. It feels like shutting doors. Well, it is shutting doors, but that's not a bad thing. You can't move forward if you don't pick a door and go through it.

(Worse, though, if you're a child of the 80's, it starts to feel like they probably just picked the door with the worn out mule behind it.)

But they're not just guessing. (I mean, some of it may be guessing, but at least in our house, I'm hearing enough thoughtful conversation to be reassured that it's not entirely guesswork. And that's enough. I'm happy. A lot of life is at least partially guesswork, anyway, so welcome to the club, Kids!)

I think he'll thrive there. I think, too, that I'll be fine with the Opportunity Costs, and that I will eventually get a handle on not fretting over all the things he's not doing while he's busy doing something he is immersed in. (The feedback from the 10-klicks-ahead crew indicates that yes, this is trueish.)

If he gets there and has a serious Gob moment ("I've made a huge mistake"), then he can change direction and shift gears. He'll figure it out. My part is not to let the fear that creeps in now take over my mouth when he actually needs my input. So. That's my assignment for now.

Be encouraged!

~ Dy

Sunday, January 22

Getting Ready

The Alabama Fashion Alliance is gearing up for the 6th Annual Fashion Week Alabama, and it is really amazing to see this come together. They have national award-winning designers, emerging local designers, as well as some uniquely Southern fashion resources participating. The models put in several hours of good, focused work today, and they are looking great. The photographers involved are truly phenomenal. (Yes, that sounds like an ad. It's not. I do not know what it takes to have the vision and creativity that brings this together, but I'm tickled to see it all happen. If I weren't behind the scenes -- mostly just offering to carry things and trying to stay out of the way -- I'd swear it was magic.) It's not. It's like most successful things: it happens because of hard work and a willingness to work together, to learn, to share ideas and effort. But the end result looks a lot like magic.

Both of the boys will be walking that week, so we were there for the duration today. And probably will be for quite a lot of the time in the coming months. If nothing else, spending hours on end around models and photographers is good for my posture, right?

We let out to find we were in the midst of a crazy storm. Flood warning. People cruising down the highway doing 30mph, just flying past everyone else doing 20mph with hazards on. All of the overpasses were packed with cars beneath them, hoping to wait it out. We slunk on home only to find the drive is flooded. I decided to risk it (which I would normally never, ever encourage anyone to do -- but it was less than 6" deep going over the drive and I figured that was as shallow as it was likely to be until tomorrow). We made it and are tucked safely inside. I did immediately alert John, though, as he is at work and may need to spend the night elsewhere. Wee! Winter in the South, y'all!

And that's about it. I'm going to curl up with a good book or two and a cup of coffee and wait to see what the plan will be.

Be encouraged!

~ Dy