Thursday, October 15, 2015


Sometimes the most innocuous things can completely derail our homeschool day. For example, yesterday while teaching Judah his new piano piece ("Honey Bee"), I randomly hummed my way through that old camp song "Bringing Home a Baby Bumblebee". Everything ground to a screeching halt.

"Wait, what? WHY would he think his mother would be proud that he was bringing home a bee?? I don't get it... WHY did he squish it up? Wouldn't it just sting him again? Wait, wha-wha-what kind of bee was it? Was it a HONEY bee, or a BUMBLE bee? Probably it was a bumblebee cause then it would just die after it stung him that first time because bumblebees leave their stingers in your body and then they DIE. But African HONEYbees, they can sting and sting and sting."


And earlier in the morning...

"Wait.. wha?? What'sa phone book?? Why would you want your phone number written down in a BOOK?"

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

On the mornings when the boys don't wake up at  zero dark thirty and stand at the top of the stairs with a constant stream of, "NOW can we come down, Mama, NOW can we?"... On these mornings when they kindly sleep a wee bit longer and I have a minute to read and pray and jot down some thoughts... 

On these mornings I sit at my dining room table and watch the sun rise. The window faces west, so what I see is a line of brilliant sunshine slowly traveling down the line of trees in the nieghbor's yard across the street. They gradually turn a golden green from top to bottom till they are on fire entirely. Some mornings a steamy mist eminates from the cold ground as the warmth of the sun hits it. I had forgotten about that steamy morning mist of cold autumn days, the mysterious shapes and undulations as the sun rises and burns off the night's chill.

As the sun continues to rise and the light travels down the little hill and across the grass, my fingers travel faster across the keys because a moment will come and... ahhh, there it is. The light hits the the white picket fence, a flash of reflection blinds one eye, and I hear the boys rumbling and tumbling out of bed.

Time to start the day.

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...