Loneliness and Time Change

Usually my goal of posting online is to share about things that make me happy, share my joys, or things that make me laugh. The truth about moving across the world, though, is not always sunshine and roses. Honestly, by most accounts our life has much improved since we have moved to South Africa, except for one, not so small factor.

We get lonely.

I could go on about the different factors in what makes us lonely, but the most surprising one is the time difference. I wouldn’t have imagined that!

We are so fortunate to be missionaries in a time of social media, phone calls, and video chatting. Our children are blessed to get to ‘see’ relatives and friends back in the States. But it is actually difficult to set up these chats because of the time difference. South Africa is about 8, 500 miles from our sending church and 6 hours ahead half the year and 7 the other half.

Since our kids go to bed at 6-7:30 pm and wake from nap around 3 pm, that pretty much just leaves dinner prep, eating and cleaning time to talk to relatives. And I don’t mind altering our typical routine to talk to relatives, I love being people oriented, but it isn’t that easy. Our families work so, they don’t get off often until around 11 pm our time, and then they have their own dinner plans to attend.

During the Fall and Winter, I wake up around 10:30-11PM Eastern Standard Time most of my friends and family are either in bed or on their way. During Spring and Summer up in the Northern Hemisphere, I am not awake until 11:30-12 their time.

In this age of phones and instant text messages, it was a weird adjustment to not be able to expect a response from my best friends or mother for several hours, no matter how urgent. Thankfully we have had no true emergencies, but there have been times I really just wanted or needed to pick up the phone and talk to someone, and then the distance hits me.

In my year and a half living in Africa, Culture Shock and Loneliness have not been a huge battle. Here and there I get a wave of frustration or loneliness and time change more often than not, has been the culprit.

Spring is heading to the US, and with that, time change! I will no longer be up early enough in the EST to talk to my friends; which is a disappointment, but, instead of being courteous and waiting until 4 pm my time to call, I will be able to call as early as 3 pm, and that is a fun half of the year.

 

Gymnastics in our Curriculum

We are so fortunate to live in a place where putting our children in gymnastics is possible and fairly affordable. I knew that gymnastics was part of a traditional Classical education and since I trust the philosophy I thought I’d do my best to make it happen when the time came.

But I did not know the extent of the benefits. I really just thought it was a way to add recess to a child’s education. Gymnastics is so much more than recess. Our older two have been taking lessons once a week for just a few months. Already we have seen improvement in balance, strength, muscle definition, confidence, self control and calculated risk taking.

It may have also helped their creative play a bit, but that could have been a developmental milestone that overlapped. If nothing else it has given them more ideas of ways to play outside.

At a homeschooling conference I took one workshop where a therapist was explaining how essential core strength was to handwriting skills and overall academic success. What a strange thought! There are so many more details that I either don’t remember and am not qualified to even repeat anyway. But when the Liberal Arts believe that training the body goes in conjunction with training the mind, there really is a good reason for it. I love the holistic idea of teaching of the whole child.

And that is one part of my children’s education where learning is all fun and games.

Tchaikovsky’s Rule for Success

I have learned so much homeschooling my children! I had a friend recommend a phone app that reads literature. So I started one called Days with the Great Composers. I went straight to the Tchaikovsky’s section since we were listening to his music that week. Honestly, it was not particularly interesting thing for the children, but they did learn about his personality, I was able to highlight the facts, and we got some narration accomplished.

Just before I was about to switch it off, the narrator started reading the advice Tchaikovsky gave to young artists. It was inspiring to me, so I had the kids help me simplify. I wrote it on our board, and we simplified it more. Here is what we finished with:

  1. Develop yourself as a craftsman. Practice
  2. Never look back from the plow. Look ahead.
  3. Do not be controlled by your emotions. Work anyway.
  4. Do not be afraid of commissioned work. All work is good work.

The kids were so excited to be artists after this discussion that my son went to building legos, and my daughter to pencil drawing. It has been a few weeks already, and we refer to this when a child is discouraged or motivated. Both my older two expect perfection from themselves, so knowing that all work is practice and even assigned work can be inspired artistry, really has been liberating for them.

Even I was of the mindset that commissioned work, or for profit work was less inspired. I think I learned that after reading literature from authors who started producing like novel factories. But we can’t limit all artwork to non profit status to be considered inspired. And I love that Tchaikovsky says to do your art whether you feel like it or not. It is both liberating and shackling. I love to write, and I have to write. But sometimes, I get blocked, stuck, in a funk and just don’t feel like it. When I get there, I need to press on regardless, and even if I toss it all, I’ve made progress. I’ve recently heard writing as a process. For all forms of art, it is a process. When we hit the fog, putting our hand to that plow and getting work on ‘paper’ is the best to move through it.

 

 

Homemade Pinata

We might not live in Florida anymore, but our family still loves having Pinatas at birthday parties. I looked  several different places for a pinata for our first kid birthday in South Africa and had no luck. So I thought I would make one with a cereal box.

Except I was 41 weeks along with baby #4 so the hubby, Jeff, came to the rescue! Its great he did too because he is much more detail oriented. All he did was decorate a cereal box with printed paper, and made pretty paper tassels and put zip ties to hang it up.

For our son’s birthday, he did a paper-mache death star. That thing had so many layers it was like a rock. So next time he said he will only do a few layers, pretty sure he did 10-15. Paper strips and flour water didn’t seem all that strong. In hindsight, it dries quite strong.

This year for Addy’s 7th, he made yet another pinata, but since the kids are smaller, he cut the box up into the shape of a butterfly and covered the holes with construction paper. He also cut a bunch of slits with a razor before decorating so it would break easier. We still had 13 kids have a turn before it was empty.

I think it is kind of fun to make your own, and its very cost effective. So here is what we’ve had so far:17121982_655118271498_2006463257_o

The Death Star my husband used a cheap rubber kickball and paper mached over it. When it dried, he deflated the ball and then cut a circle out and glued it back in the opposite direction. He’s a genius, I would have just made a box. The butterfly he cut out of a large cereal box was adorable too. I tried to help by cutting the tassel paper, but he said my lines were not even enough. Haha. I don’t have the patience for that, especially late the night before the party, but maybe that is why night owls and morning people are attracted to each other???

What is your families favorite birthday tradition? And maybe you can help us settle one pinata related issue, do you get three hits on your turn, or three swings? Do you blindfold? Jeff and I grew up with different rules and we could use a jury.

I Signed Up for This

I was FB chatting with two best friends this morning, telling them that three of my kids and myself were sick, again. They were sweet, reassuring and sympathetic, especially since they know its been coming in different forms already for a few weeks. I love being able to share the minute details of parenting with these ladies. Since I love to talk, I find it therapeutic, and they get me.

This morning, my response to sympathy was, well, this is what Mom life is all about. I signed up for this. Crazy to think about. I’ll be honest, being pretty much the first in my friend groups to have children, I never gave thought to what it would actually be like to start a family. I am a bit of a leap-before-you-look person. But whether I knew what motherhood looked like or not, bringing sickness home is par for a 3 year old, unfortunately.

Not that passing back bacterial and viral sicknesses over the last few weeks hasn’t been difficult, but that I can’t complain. I have also been barraged with cuddles, reading time, broth, rice, bananas, and a break from school work. The worrying, insane store, doc, pharmacy and hospital runs, meal changes, aren’t quite as stressful as I used to find them.

Maybe it is my old age (just kidding, I’m 29), or the fact that I have had more serious kid related health issues that these things pale in comparison. But honestly I think the way I think and dwell on situations really impacts how well I can cope.

My husband and I had a conversation a few weeks ago after being a bit envious of other couples and their freedoms. Living in South Africa, having 4 children, and being missionaries have all impacted the freedoms we have physically, emotionally and financially. But instead of seeing the realities of not buying a house or not being able to visit family, we talked about the different opportunities we DO have to help our perspective.

Some weeks or months I know couples and families really have to look deep to find the things they are grateful for, we all have those times. But even if we have to look through the past and remember the highlights, we will realize that we cannot have the mountain tops without the valleys in between, not in this world anyway. Whatever journey we signed up for (career, schooling, parenthood, relationships….), we have to embrace all the normal aspects and curve-balls. Otherwise we will lose our focus, and our joy.

I have found so much freedom in accepting the curve-balls I’ve had lately, because, if I were honest, they aren’t as big of a setback as they feel in my life.¬† Because, though we don’t often have extra, we have what we need, though we get sick, we are healthy, we are happily married, even when we disagree, and though we don’t own a home, we have one to live in, and though we miss our family, we have family to miss. There is no formula for predicting marriage, careers, ministry, schooling, or parenting. When I stopped trying to make my life fit into a certain picture or time frame, I stopped stressing so much about the unpredictable nature of my life.

 

 

Felicity is 1!

I shared about my whirlwind birth of Felicity Jane and it has already been a whole year! She is walking, talking, feeding herself, putting her toys in baskets, and so much of what she does amazes me. She will see the older three children sitting and playing and she leaves me to join them as if to say, “I belong with them, I am one of them now.” And my heart just melts.

With Addy’s birthday being so close, we decided to join their parties to simplify. But we lost power for 24 hours, and I could not make her a smash cake. Everything worked out perfectly, and the party (though planned at the last minute) was amazing. But on Felicity’s birthday we had a little picnic at a nearby park and let her have a piece of cake.

She surprised us all by saying, “I want this,” when Jeff placed her cake in front of her. She says all sorts of things that just floor me. Last time she had cake she told me she loved it. I really have loved watching her grow this year; I feel like I appreciate everything more since she is the fourth child and I know how quickly they change. Let me share some photos of the big 1!

 

Kidversations ~ Baby and Cake

Felicity was about to turn 1, so I made her a cake (interjection – Addy says she made it and I helped, haha). With some leftover batter, I filled a tiny cake pan and we all sampled a tiny piece. Little light bulbs went off behind Felicity’s eyes when she had a piece and she gave a happy dance as I held her on my hip. After her bite she laid her head on my shoulder for a long hug.

I turned into mush and was all, “You are such a sweetie, do you loooooove Momma?!!”

Felicity picked her head off my shoulder as she looked me in the eye, shook her head in a way that swayed her entire body and points to the cake plate to say,

“I wuv dis!”

Goodness gracious child. That stings a little. But its also hilarious.