Pantoon Fall

Pantoon Fall

Monday, November 16, 2015

Thankful for Mismatched Socks

Thankful Poem

Thankful for noise, because it means children are in the house.

Thankful for needing to budget, it makes the treats more meaningful.

Thankful for cold to remind me of the beauty of all the seasons and the warmth of a roaring fire. 

Thankful for too much to eat, when I know how many go without.

Thankful for family fights, with out the fights we would not have the humor of our token ice breakers. 

Thankful for mess, I de stress cleaning. 

Thankful for mess, it means creativity, good food and make believe.

Thankful for scratched floors, it means chairs were dragged to make a fort.

Thankful for my husband's cracked hands, it means he has been working hard to support us.

Thankful for my softer hands in means hours of hands coated in vaseline inside kitchen gloves scrubbing off the nourishment from the night before.

Thankful for hours of laundry, I always wanted a big family.

Thankful for crazed Sunday mornings dashing five minute late to Church, the service always holds extra peace and hope for the week ahead.

Thankful for baskets of mismatched socks, it gives the youngest a job to sort.

Thankful socks now come with different colored toes and that miss matched is "in"

Thankful for the pace of life, it means we have people to see and places to be.

Thankful to have muddy kids and muddy shoes, it means we were out there in it, nature as a playground.

Thankful for yoga pants, or "yogurt pants" as a young Daisy would say.

Thankful for new babies, just because.

Thankful for big kids, and those in the middle, still needing hugs from Mom.

Thankful that over sharing is alright with many so that saying I "need" a walk to a dear friend is entirely truthful.

Deeply thankful for those friends new and old, thankful for my husband and his strength of character  thankful for my children all eight on the days they ask me "do you still love me" (I always do) and on the days they make my pride spill over.

Thankful for the hardest of days, my faith is always strongest then.


Deirdre McCarrell Otis Thanksgiving 2014
I left the house a mess to go sledding with the kids, THANKFUL
for  being active so I can keep up with them &  run the hills.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Halloween 2015 ~ Traditions & New Stages

The highlight was Grandma Boo's skeleton made entirely of vegetables, it rocked! We carved pumpkins because wonderful neighbors gave us 9 from their garden. We roasted the seeds and had fun creating shapes, mom and dad can't help anyone so it was time intensive but they were so proud of their cats, minions and monsters. 

Banana created a "stick" man with neon glow sticks, J-L was a prison breakout, Big M was captain America and even went to a party with Miss Captain America! Great was a zombie skeleton, don't take his candy! Little M was "Michael Jordan Zombie" and Miss D was a fancy skeleton! Little Lu was brave and had a blast using her costume over the last month. 

Annual 8
Captain America x2

The other fun tradition that we made up when the oldest was a toddler is that the Great Pumpkin comes and eats all the candy and leaves a gift for each child. I had never actually seen the Charlie Brown special and totally messed up the idea of what the Great Pumpkin is! So the Otis Great Pumpkin is similar to Switch the Witch or the Candy Fairy. But our tradition stuck and lots of jokes about obese pumpkins not being able to fit in and out the door have been born, sigh. The candy "eaten" by the Great Pumpkin goes to soldiers over seas. This year our church is doing it for us (post Halloween Candy drive sent to troops) but in past years driving it to a local hospital completed the fairy tale.

Great Pumpkin Morning display
The oldest stayed home and handed out candy this year, his favorite treat was eating taco bar and being cozy by the outside fire. We said he should be a lumberjack, he said "how about a freshman too old to go trick or treating?" He won.

Wash seeds, spray cookie sheet with oil,  raw seeds in at 350 degrees and cover with garlic salt.
When golden brown they are done.


Pumpkin Carvers

Dad's Dancing Goat Pumpkin!

Pirate Pumpkin Carver


Our Brave Scottish Warrior
Mom with Pumpkins

Another great holiday in the books, I have to rally each year as it is not my personal favorite holiday. But I love seeing costumes and creativity. 

How many days until I can put up the Christmas tree? 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Adding a Little Music to Our Home...What a Cool Organization!

Today Lu, Grandma Boo and I, went on a treasure hunt for a used piano. I have wanted for a long time to have music lessons, but with life and sports we have not been able to make it happen. One of my prized memories of the holidays is that my mother could always get us started with "Joy to The World" on the piano. Now with budding singers, and kids who want to learn, it was time to find a piano. In true Otis fashion we decided to find something used but fabulous.

We found Keys4Kids on Grand Ave in Saint Paul, thanks to Grandma Boo. The sales person was lovely, so kind and even added on a stool because I was worried not enough kids could sit side by side on the piano bench.

There are also pieces of pianos and wonderful wood for sale and they will barter if you buy other items. I found a great piece of wood I am hoping to have Sheff add hooks to, you could also create a headboard with box springs.

Now to find a teacher to come to our home! Please contact me if you know of anyone who might come to us and do multiple kids lessons. Investing in music is new for us, and exciting.

Our new, used, piano! Keys4kids will tune, clean and deliver. 

Thursday, September 10, 2015

September ~ Celebration & Awkward Prayers

 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Galatians 5:22

September is a month that is well loved. The images of apples, football cheers, leaves, rosy cheeks and new school supplies. As excited as every parent is to see their children hop on the bus, there is also the anxiety that comes with the new school year. 

This week we have tryouts for a new season of sports mixed in with orientations for 7 of the 8, football games and the start of skating lessons! It is a week of juggling and re booting homework systems in the midst of frantic schedules. We are happy, we are full and we are moving...quickly. The pace of September concerns me. I want to grab it by its jersey and tackle the month down to the ground, stop the play! Let us savor this gift of season change and new starts.

Along with the happy excitement comes the nagging anxiety. The kids have new friends and old friends coming together on fields, courts, classroom and at recess. It is a challenge to include close friends and welcome new faces. As an adult it is a time of year I am mindful to plan coffee dates, walks, dinners and slots on the calendar that are focused times of re charge and connection. Over the summer is family time, we are immersed in each other. It is blessed and necessary just as the unfolding into the community that naturally occurs when Fall descends is as equally important. 

This month I hope to savor the weather, connect with new and old friends and walk along side my children as they do the same. To find time daily for prayer and laughter, to allow workouts and coffee to be necessary, not a luxury. 

Anxiety comes in waves as our family leaves the house for their own interactions, adventures and challenges.  Hopefully our awkward prayers will be received with mercy. It is a goal to be an example of good humor and love as we all navigate this month of exciting change and new challenges. 

Monday, July 27, 2015

August, Top of the Ferris Wheel

“The first week of August hangs at the very top of summer, the top of the live-long year, like the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning. The weeks that come before are only a climb from balmy spring, and those that follow a drop to the chill of autumn, but the first week of August is motionless, and hot. It is curiously silent, too, with blank white dawns and glaring noons, and sunsets smeared with too much color.”
― Natalie Babbitt, Tuck Everlasting

Summer has been sweet this year. The bridge between little and big is becoming slightly blurred. Voices changing, individual interests finding shelves and screens to occupy. Amazing vacations and time on the road. Seasoned campers pushing themselves with longer stays and first time campers learning how to be themselves out of the family group. 

We are creating gathering space in our yard, piece by piece. A difficult start leading to a really cool creation. Still in progress, stone becoming welcoming. 

New charts, new chores because we have kids who are adults.....almost. This is the summer of almost, the top of the ferris wheel, I love that image. We are waiting and watching, seeing the kids grow and ask questions that are new. 

Grateful for this time, slowing down to see them. The heat seeps un-delicately into our bones. Our minds muddled with too many options and not enough time. Making time to pray has been a way to come together with our Proverbs daily readings. Making ourselves ease out of structure has brought unexpected insights. Sweating together at rest stops, laughing together over miss played games, teaching each other about our own quirks. Our family is growing up together.

All this, rolled into summertime.

The Ferris Wheel is Spokane WA

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Water the Simple Cure

The kids are all home for the summer and seem to always have a need or a question for me. As I was brainstorming creative ideas I realized so many of my responses have to do with...water! How lucky we are to have fresh water to drink and to play in. So simple, but so true water is the number one cure all advice that comes from the Otis mom.

Feeling sick
Go drink a big glass of water!

Athletic performance (learned from Sheff)
Hydrate! Drink a full pint glass of water before your game, practice or event.

Cleaning i.e. Mom I can't get this clean!
Soak it! Let it soak, put a little water on it and come back it will scrape right off.

Fun in the summer
Go run through the hose, go drink from the hose or bike to the pool!

Take a bath and drink some water, a little lavender oil in the bath and hugs afterwards

Hosting/being a friend
Offer someone a cup of tea or water if they are over

Wash it off and keep it clean

Always be thirsty, strive to learn more and drink in knowledge, never give up that thirst.

For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward.” Mark 9:41

Friday, May 15, 2015

Balancing May ~ The Work of Spring

Establish the work of our hands for us-- yes, establish the work of our hands. Psalm 90:17
Walking with a friend I mentioned I missed cloth diapers just because of the feeling I had having my rectangles of cotton lined up and pinned up one by one. A row out my window, clothsline with the simple labor of love, soiled to sunshine. She did not laugh, but understood the pleasure in a type of work. With May comes work, but everytime I see clothes on the line I feel a community connection of coming out of our winter blankets and getting to work, seeing the blue sky and pleasure in the first load swinging in the breeze.

This May feels like a moving light board under my feet. Fields to get to, concerts to attend, decisions for pre school and highschool while balancing the art of homemaker. We are doing well, happy  in our day to day, but running and flexing our muscles of quick thinking and nightly strategy for our sixteen plus activities each week. As I pray for a discerning mind, a calm heart and a patient spirit I was remembering this poem I first read in college. It is the heart beat of amazing work, not all mine, but work I admire. 

I am sometimes surprised that the work of spring gives me deep, and restoritve pleasure. The work of planting in black dirt, washing muddy socks, clapping sandy cleats and making food for hungry kids fresh in from playing in the rain.  

Woman Work - Poem by Maya Angelou

I've got the children to tend
The clothes to mend
The floor to mop
The food to shop
Then the chicken to fry
The baby to dry
I got company to feed
The garden to weed
I've got shirts to press
The tots to dress
The can to be cut
I gotta clean up this hut
Then see about the sick
And the cotton to pick.

Shine on me, sunshine
Rain on me, rain
Fall softly, dewdrops
And cool my brow again.

Storm, blow me from here
With your fiercest wind
Let me float across the sky
'Til I can rest again.

Fall gently, snowflakes
Cover me with white
Cold icy kisses and
Let me rest tonight.

Sun, rain, curving sky
Mountain, oceans, leaf and stone
Star shine, moon glow
You're all that I can call my own.