Thursday, October 8, 2015

Things I forgot about coldness

Blankets. This might sound weird, but after five years in the tropics, we just don't have blankets any more. I mean the "extra blankets", right? The ones you slip in between the sheet and the bedspread/comforter for those extra cold nights when it's below 40.

The inadequacy of short-sleeve sweaters, footless tights and 3/4-length sleeves. In Florida you walk the fine line every year between the basic human need for Fall Fashion and the reality that even in October it's still so hot the birds are picking the worms up with potholders. So you adapt. In Virginia if you wear footless tights, you are going to lose a toe to frostbite and short-sleeve sweaters are just a joke.

Fleece-lined everything. Fleece is God's gift to everyone living above the 35th parallel. You can put it into anything. And I mean anything. In Florida people do wear fleece-linings as a comfort measure and a fashion statement, but we all know you're sweating under there. You're not fooling anyone. And those fleece-lined tights are footless and you're wearing sandals, so...

Layering. In Florida, layering means you wear a t-shirt under your button-down, or you slip on a cardi over your shift dress. In Virginia layering means you start with a fleece-lined bra, top that with a fleece-lined cami, add your basic top, sweater over that, then you top the whole thing off with a fleece-lined vest.

Hats. Scarves. Gloves. Boots. Slippers. Coats. Pajamas. Man, cold is expensive! I mean, there's a whole extra wardrobe you have to have. In Florida you could wear almost the same stuff, just "layer" it a bit, or throw on a hoodie and wear socks with your sandals. But when it's 10 degrees overnight, a t-shirt and your underwear is just not going to cut it. You need some serious pajamas. Even J wears pajamas here.

Real Rain. In Florida the rain is the like the temper tantrum of a basically happy child. Stormy, shocking, extreme, but over in no time, with an almost imediate repentant return to sunshine. And it's never cold. The dry season corresponds mostly to the coldest weather of the year. In Virginia, on the other hand, you're dealing with the cold, sullen sulks of a rebellious teenager, who turns the cold shoulder and drizzles on depressingly for days and days and days... I know you people in the PNW know what I"m talking about and I respect your greater burden.

Real Fires. In Florida we'd ocasionally have a fire in the fireplace because it made us feel cozy and secure. We'd have to open the doors and windows sometimes, but by golly, man just needs a fire now and then. In Virginia we have fires because keeping this mausoleum of a house warm enough to sustain life will run us broke if we don't and because when you go fifteen days in a row without seeing the sun, youll take any bit of light and comfort you can get.

The biggest thing I'd forgotten, though, is the anticipation of More To Come... 

Those first few cold days that slowly sneak up on you, like an ice cube slipped slyly down summer's t-shirt, caught by a waistband, slowly melting shivery trickles down... they are merely a harbinger. The Real Cold is yet to come. And that sensation of being hunted, relentlessly, inevitably, by the Frost Giants of December, Januray and February has caused even the gods to shiver a bit, in spite of lightening hammers and magical cloaks.

On the other hand...

The first time you step out your door and see your breath crystalizing in the air, and the smoke of all the chimneys chasing in spirals across the neighborhood skies, you can suddenly hear the faint ringing of the Christmas bells begin their distant peal, and as you scramble over the next few weeks to re-stock your house with blankets, sweaters, tights, hats, gloves, fleece-lined stuff and firewood, the clamor grows ever stronger and louder. I learned to celebrate the measured march of anticipation of Advent and Lent when we lived in Florida and it helped to replace the rise and fall of the seasons, but oh how my soul has missed this sense of participation in the natural order of things. The anticipatory pace of this year's Advent will have behind and under and around it an added pulse of suppressed haste and secret joy.

And I suspect we'll be singing Christmas Carols well before Thanksgiving...

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

I love babies. That's no surprise to most of you who read this blog. Many of you know that I have loved babies since... well, forever. I've always wanted more and more and more. (Not even exaggerating, ask J) I also love the toddler years (except for age three-- you can just HAVE the three year olds, I'll take them back when they turn four). As my own children have gotten older, I've learned to appreciate fours and fives, too, but babies, man. Aaahhh, babies.... That's where it's at for me.

But we're now firmly out of the baby years around the Casa de la Forshey, and unless God intervenes supernaturally, the next babies of mine own will be my grandbabies. This has been interesting to realize. As a teen and young adult, imagining my life ahead of me, I confess I never once looked past the end of my baby-raising days. I never imagined life in a house full of half-grown People. I never imagined (nor could I have) the difficult transition years of the sevens and the eights (and nine and ten and eleven), nor the slowly re-imerging humanity of the 12th year. The relief with which one senses that the feral creature you've been wrestling for the last three or four years is slowly becoming tamed and civilized, can actually carry on a conversation without sassing/crying/arguing/bragging/spitting/potty jokes... ah me. Thank you, sweet Jesus. Of course in our house, just as one is reemerging from the cocoon, the next one is entering it, but no matter. Having seen the miracle of the butterfly once, one ought to have the sense to trust the process.

At any rate, here I stand on the edge of something new and different, something I never imagined for myself, never pictured myself doing. It's awesome, and a little bit scary. We have in our house representatives of three stages of metamorphasis: pupa, chrysallis, newly emerging butterfly (still a bit wet as to wing, still not ready to fly away just yet, thank the Lord: my poor heart). But no more caterpillars. No more fuzzy headed, wiggly-limbed, squishy-faced, milk-sodden, stubby-legged caterpillars.

It's going to be an interesting ride. Stick around...

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

And continuing on the theme of teaching our kids stuff, here are five things I want to say to New Homeschooling Moms

1) Don't sweat it. A lot of people are probably saying this to you right now. BELIEVE THEM. You can teach your child. You can. I promise. There are tons of resources to help you and you are the one person in the world who knows your child best and you CAN teach them anything. You've already taught them tons of stuff. You taught them how to walk and talk, dress themselves, eat with a fork and spoon, go to the potty, tie their shoes and ride a bike. None of these things is really any different from math, reading, writing and grammar. You've got this.

2) The most important thing is that you have this child in your care for a comparatively few short years. At this point, you have very little indication of what/where they are going to do/go in their lives. But you do have a Scripturally-based idea of who you want them to BE when they get there. Do that first. Everything else will come in it's time. You first need to teach and model for them how to love God and their neighbor-- reading, writing and arithmetic can come along the way.

3) The next most important thing is to teach them HOW to learn. And teach them to LOVE it. This is waaaay more important than any one particular thing/subject/list/extra-curricular activity. Your goal is to create in them a fascination with how things work and the way God made the world, an insatiable desire to Find Out How and Why. Then you teach them HOW to Find Out and send them on their way. You give them the tools, let them do the work.

4) Lists of expected grade skills and behaviors have their place and can be helpful, but one of the best things about home schooling is that you have a chance to discover along with your child who God has created them to be-- the One, the Only, the Unique Them-- and help them get there. Don't expect that every child is going to fit the mold at every stage. You want your child to be a Mold- Breaker!

5) Home schooling is not about School-- it's about Mothering. We all know we need God's help in order to be Godly Mothers. Sometimes we forget we need God's help to be Effectual Teachers, but it's the same thing. Just like you need God's help to model Christian Womanhood, Wisdom, Thrift, Honesty, Bravery and all Virtues for your children; in exactly the same way, you're going to need God's help to teach them math, science, language arts and literature. Good curriculum is helpful, but mostly you have to start every day on your knees and then start their day on their knees, too.

Good luck! Have fun! You've totally got this!!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Kids are gross. Parenting is counter-intuitive. My mother is a saint.

I made pumpkin muffins this morning for breakfast because it's about 65 degrees outside and filling my kitchen with the warm smell of spices is my way of coping. I"m basically denying the reality that this chill is only a harbinger of the death of all the green things and the coming of the Great Cold.

Back to my muffins...

I had the batter all ready and went to pull the muffin tins out of the cabinet. As I unstacked them onto the counter and began to butter them, I realized that whichever child had "washed" them, had simply washed the top one of the stack, leaving the dirty ones firmly fixed to the back end. And then whichever child was responsible for "drying" and putting away the dishes had, complicit, merely dried the outside of the stack and shoved the whole deal into the closet.


(All of my children are now old enough to be involved in the dish-washing process, so even if you think you know which kid was responsible, you don't. Thus I protect the identity of the innocent and guilty alike. Also, I have no idea who was responsible either, or believe you me, I'd be doing more about it than just writing a vent-y blog post...)

That old saw about how if you want something done right, do it yourself is SO true. Especially when you have kids. But so is this one about the goal of mothering: that is, our goal is to work ourselves out of a job. Teach our kids to do everything for themselves, so that we have nothing left to do. Hah. I know. There will never actually be nothing for us to do. But you get my point. The problem is that it is SO HARD to make myself take the time to let them do it, fail, correct them, explain, make them do it over again, correct again, etc, wash, rinse, repeat, ad nauseum. It drives me crazy. And the older the kids get and the more of "my job" they learn to do, the more difficult it is for me to let go of the perfection of order and detail that I want, in order to teach them to care for themselves. Don't laugh, IT'S HARD.

When Sofi and Judah were little, J would take them off on Saturday mornings for Special Daddy Time and I would clean the whole house myself. In blissful silence and with total concentration I would polish, wash, sweep and even wash, dry, fold and put away entire loads of laundry, while I cleaned the bathroom to sparkling perfection. Now? Now everyone has Jobs. You might think this would make my job easier. You would be wrong.

It's worth it. I know it is. In the end they will be able to cook and care for themselves, do their own laundry, make a week's meal plan and budget for their groceries. The all (even the boys) will be able to sew on a button, clean a toilet and iron a shirt. And one day they will thank me. I tell them this every Saturday. "One day you'll thank me!" I shout into the maelstrom of whining, complaining, dishcloths flying, laundry swirling, feather dusters flung across the room in frustration, "I know you will!" They roll their eyes, "How do you KNOW???"  I'll tell you how I know. This is how I know.

Dear Mom,
Thank you, thank you for teaching me how to cook and care for myself, how to do my laundry, make a meal plan, keep a budget, sew on a button, scrub a toilet and iron a .... (never mind, that was Mrs Hendry). Thank you for taking the time and sacrificing your standards to teach me the skills to be self-sufficient and a decent respectable member of society. I know it wasn't a cake-walk.
Forever grateful,
you daughter

Sofi, Judah, Jamie, wait and see.... wait and see....

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Can you guess what movie we ended up watching the other night?

Judah and I were having a serious conversation about leadership. He wanted to know what you do when you're really trying your best to be a good leader, but nobody believes that you are, so they won't listen to you and they just complain and argue. Good question, dude...

Jamie breaks in, with a grave expression on his face;

"You know, you don't feel flying here (taps his fuzzy round forehead with his grubby, peanut-butter smeared index finger), you feel it here (pats his chest with his chubby hand)"

I am proud to say that I did not crack my serious-conversation-mom-face, or miss a beat. Long years of practice...