Friday, August 10, 2012

Loud Kids

The group of them can certainly be loud, but what I'm talking about today is that we have kids who 'live out loud.'  -With purpose, intention, courage, and with thoughtful opinion... even when others may not want to hear it!

We are often in awe, wondering where this trait came from. Hubby and I feel it can't have been genetic, being relative wimps ourselves.  ;-)

Please bear with me through this, as there is a point... Not just bragging about my kids.  As I said, just explaining our awe as the backstory:

Besides the trip to Boston I mentioned the other day, Princess Bossy has been to New Orleans for work on Habitat for Humanity's post-Katrina projects, went to Haiti to help rebuild after the earthquake, missed her college graduation ceremony to volunteer as a counselor at a camp in Alaska, and traveled to Aruba to nanny over Christmas breaks.  She's done skydiving and ventured to Oklahoma on her own for an internship in college ministry, where she's stayed after meeting and marrying Prince Helium.

She is not one to shrink from a challenge, and has a history of taking on courses and situations that will present a particular challenge for her.   She is a nut for learning and for pursuing (too?) many passions.  Bossy graduated from college, on time, after changing her major 4 times in her junior year.

A beloved leader among her siblings
Our eldest princess is outgoing, and can express her opinion and show disfavor in a somewhat brutal honesty. She doesn't mess with subtlety that might be misunderstood.  But she expresses favor and joy in the same way; with a laugh as loud as her personality and life.

Prince Stoic began life timidly.  He was happy to let Princess Bossy direct their play, and in group situations, like visiting his sister's kindergarten class, he was wrapped around one of my legs.  He was ready for academics before he was ready to face the social challenges of a 40-kid classroom.

He was also one who found no need to try something new... If he hadn't done it before and KNEW that he liked it, he found no reason to take the risk.

We were a little afraid that he'd always be shy and cautious... but he liked baseball.  Just before he was 9, he decided to play Little League.  We made sure he was aware that he'd be with a group of kids and coaches he didn't know.  He was so interested in playing, and although he was a quiet presence, vocally, on his team, his shyness didn't stop him, as he let his playing skills speak for him.

This became a pattern for other decisions and moves in his life... If he had a particular interest, he didn't hesitate to try.  He was a standout in the regional Alliance Church Bible Quizzing program, where he also developed a set of excellent friends, with whom he still enjoys many social and athletic activities.  
(With this group, he lost his 'quiet' reputation and is so at home, he's as lively as the rest.)

He is a dedicated and hard worker, exhibiting patience and high standards in his tasks. He taught himself guitar, and then how to build them.  He excelled in coursework in community college and earned membership in the the Phi Beta Kappa, the academic honor society.  He decided against the student loans needed to finish his 4-year degree, and is pursuing an electrical apprenticeship, with possible plans to finish his electrical engineering degree later.  He's also the junior high youth leader at his church.

Nothing really shy or at all hesitant about the way he lives his life now!

Princess Sassy was born talking.  Sociability was never a problem for her, and she was known by everyone as the little girl who was always smiling.  She wasn't afraid of anyone, and was a particular hit with the easy way she had talking to older folks. Reading and other academic pursuits didn't come as easily for her as her siblings, though, so her confidence took a big hit and the smile faded.  We looked for other ways for her to experience success.

She loved to run races in the back yard, in which she often won.  When she joined the community track club, she was definitely in her element.  She developed expertise and confidence, and was a leader among her peers.  This turned out to be just a step to her real calling... coaching.  She began coaching for the junior high track team when she was just a sophomore.  

Whatever insecurities she may be experiencing in other areas of her life fade  away as soon as she is "Coach."  At track, she exudes confidence, knowledge, and leadership, and holds the respect of her athletes, fellow coaches, and meet administrators. 

She went off to Malibu on a spur-of-
the-moment opportunity with a group
of people she didn't know.  She grew,
and helped others understand the way
she lives her life in faith.
Like Stoic and Bossy, Princess Sassy knows what she believes and why.  And like her older sister, is not afraid to make her opinions known and back them up.   She wears her feelings on her sleeve, because being outspoken doesn't mean she doesn't have deep feelings.  She is a staunch and loyal friend, and has been disappointed by others who aren't the same... Especially by those who didn't understand or support her marriage.  Following God's will in her life is more important, though, and she knows starting her life with Prince Steadfast was the right thing for both of them.

I won't go into such detail with the rest of the kids... But they are exhibiting similar courage in their lives.  

Prince Inventive is a good builder, and also like Stoic, was a quiet, but powerful baseball player.  After playing only a few tennis games with his older brother (both self-taught), he joined the school tennis team and became a strong team leader. He challenged himself by taking Chemistry at the high school, after never having had a formal class in math or science before.  He also excelled and became a leader in wood and metal shop classes, and in drafting. 

A much younger Princess Artiste told us, "I think I'm just not an outdoor person," and she was as quiet as Prince Stoic.  But now she has a wicked wit, and is lively and vocal among her friends and peers.  She's played soccer and is on the record books for running hurdles at the high school (after being taught by Coach Sassy). 
She also taught herself to swim in our yard pool, and joined the high school swim team, contributing in varsity events. She's pushing herself academically this year, taking biology and joining the athletic medicine program, which will also make her a student athletic trainer, like Princess Bossy was, too.

None of our older children are hesitant to question or challenge what others try to tell them... which sometimes isn't welcome by certain adults who think they are above such things.  There is a fine line between respect for authority/elders, and blanketly accepting what others tell them.  I think they do a good job at riding that line, even though their approaches may sometimes be more direct than I'd choose.

Prince Go-for-It is set on challenging himself with academics, even though, like Sassy, he had a slower start.  He has become a good long distance runner through his own discipline and effort.  His social skills make him immediately popular and he's learning discernment in his choices of friends.

Princess Eager is ...well... eager to set an individual path for herself, and after little training will try out for the junior high volleyball team this year.  She has already been a dedicated assistant at Sunday school and a leader for Vacation Bible School.  She's gotten herself a job in child care during a Women's Ministry class at church for the coming year.

Prince CuddleBunny is still sticking close to me, but adventuring out with his siblings also.  I know that with these role models and heroes, he'll bloom in much the same way... 
Meaning, in whatever direction the passions God gave him will lead.

Finally... The whole point of this discussion, as promised:  
I was pondering the kids' abilities to jump, head-first, into things that would have me doubting and double-thinking.   I came to the conclusion that it's due, largely, to homeschooling, and Hubby agrees.

Not that it's anything I taught them, or for which I can take credit... But that being home, secure with me and with who they were, gave them the time and opportunities to grow into their confidence.  They weren't busy treading the waters of peer pressure and keeping up, which would've been especially hard for those who were shy or had academic delays.  They avoided age and gender segregation, and possible labels.  Instead, they were able to grow through and past the difficulties in a safe environment, and develop individual strengths.  They were able to discover and investigate their passions and decide which things would be a priority.  They had time to discuss issues, then find information and answers to questions that led to the formation of their personal beliefs.  

I could only hope to be like them when I grow up!

 “If you ask me what I came to do in this world, I will tell you, I came to live out loud.” 
~Émile Zola

Thursday, August 9, 2012

(Almost) Wordless (Day After) Wednesday

Early this week we were in the Big City for Hubby's 6-week, post-surgery check up... Which went well.  We had arranged to share lunch with Prince Stoic afterward, but he wasn't available for a couple hours after the appointment.  We located his chosen restaurant, then killed some time driving around Seattle, until we found something interesting, which was Volunteer Park.

Interesting trunks/branches on these cedars

I took a lot of phone pics, which meant I got to occupy myself all the way home, trying to send them to my email.  ;-)  Anyway, here they are, and I'm sorry they lack a bit in quality.  

Hubby can hardly sit in any furniture without checking out
how it's constructed

The conservatory was closed for the day, so we only got to enjoy the
exterior and the outdoor gardens

If you are in Seattle and want a lovely place to enjoy some quiet time, this could be it.  And I didn't get any photos, but I promise you that there are some breathtaking homes in that neighborhood, too.

Oh, and I couldn't feel right without sharing a shot of my yummy lunch (steak and cod tacos) from Barrio on Capitol Hill...

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Another 1st Year Celebration

Last year, 2 weddings, so this year, 2 first anniversaries!  

It is time to celebrate Prince Helium and Princess Bossy's first year as husband and wife.

From that first look on the Big Day....

through a honeymoon trip from Washington back to Oklahoma for the prince's law school, and the bride's job hunt, that ended wtih a legal assistant's position in a law office... As she awaits pursuing her own advanced degree.

Honeymoon trip mileage

Wedding gifts & Bossy's belongings brought from Washington

They have enjoyed 'nesting;' organizing and beautifying their campus apartment into a home they can love and be proud of.  The princess feeds her need to be creative with projects, little and big...

Bathroom, before:

And after: 

Framed radiator covers make for a fine place to hang earrings... Who knew?!
Prince CuddleBunny's artwork is hung above the towels.

Bedroom, at first:

And after a year of finessing:

Complete with Princess Bossy's sunburst mirror canopy, the "Wally" pillow from Prince CuddleBunny,
and original artwork by Prince Helium... His Dutch-heritage-inspired windmills, hanging above the bookshelf

They also love to try new recipes and entertain.

We are thankful, that this couple, as Princess Sassy and Prince Steadfast, are well started on a lifetime of growth and happiness together, shared with the Lord as their Protector, Counselor, Savior, and Guide.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Let Them Eat Lobster

On their anniversary weekend, Prince Steadfast and Princess Sassy treated themselves to a weekend in Portland, OR.  The first night away, they sent photos from their dinner in Vancouver at Joe's Crab  Shack.

Princess Sassy had lobster and king crab, while her groom dined on mussels, prawns, and snow crab... Yum!

Well, I assume it was yum, as I haven't tasted all of those things myself... Particularly lobster.

Princess Bossy ate lobster, cooked fresh, in New England during her senior year of college.

You see, our kids occasionally do things that we've questioned.  --Bossy's trip to Boston in the midst of finishing college while facing imminent payments on 2 college loans.  Prince Stoic's flight to New York alone (including navigating his way from JFK to Northern NY) to visit a friend while he was in college. Sassy and Steadfast have purchased kayaks and done a lot of day-tripping while facing a few more years of college tuition, as well as married-life expenses. 

It's not the actual activities or purchases, but the financial ramifications that concern us. We keep saying things like "Don't you know you're starving college students?" But...

I am (terminally) practical and Hubby is (fatally) frugal.  Our week-long honeymoon in Lake Tahoe became 3 days at a lodge a couple hours' drive away.  We don't travel.  We rarely go out on dates.  The most we've ever done for our anniversary in 27 years is go out to dinner; dinners that never included lobster.  "It's too expensive."  Not that our lives are 'funless,' but our fun has been on a quieter, smaller scale, and mostly, there have been other ways we think we need to spend our time and money. 

But life is short, and getting shorter. We still live month-to-month, constantly concerned about our own finances... So would a lobster dinner along the way really have made such a difference?  Living life with 8 kids on one income has financial limitations, but definitely offers joys and blessings others don't experience.  We've done our best.  I think that, in retrospect, there could have been a better balance.  The princesses both tell me that they weren't all that impressed with lobster, and don't really carry any wish to have it again.  I thought I was missing something all this time.  At least the girls won't get to 52 and just wonder. 

Our kids seem to be making the most of opportunities and moments in a way I haven't been able to.  It just might be OK to reach out there and live a little more once in awhile.  I'm so glad they do!

Monday, August 6, 2012

So Simple

I suppose these have been available forever, but I only saw one on a recent commercial...

I had previously cut biscuits in squares for expediency's sake, and because I didn't have an actual biscuit cutter. I had been looking, and thankfully, I saw that commercial before I bought a round one.

 Stainless Hexagon Cutter
This new cutter allows me to cut biscuits without (as many of) the little scraps left in between that end up getting squished together, over and over, making biscuits of lesser quality, texture, and appearance.  

On this first try, it's obvious I have something to learn about shaping the dough in order to use the edges in the most efficient manner, and could even get the cuts cleaner.  I still had some bits of dough to recombine and recut, but much less than with cutting round biscuits. (Or with the flower-shaped ones I showed here, along with my favorite biscuit recipe.)

Ateco Stainless Steel (Multiple) Hexagon Cutter
There is also a cutter made with 6 of these attached together, for even faster, more efficient biscuit cutting.  But I don't mind the time, as long as I don't have so many of the tough and lumpy, "scrap biscuits" in the end.  

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