Friday, March 27, 2015

Eyes in the Boat

I had a flashback recently of swab summer at the United States Coast Guard Academy...this flashback occurred while I was in the narthex of my church during the Sunday evening Mass.
What were you doing in the narthex Stephanie? Oh come now, you aren't really going to ask me thhhhaaaattt....

During the summer of 2000, I was a scared freshman in an intense indoctrination into military life. Push ups, lectures, marching, ironing perfect creases in shirts and pants and whatever can hold a crease, memorizing, attention to detail...eyes in the boat.

Eyes in the what?

In the boat.


So if you are not familiar with military tradition eyes in the boat basically means...don't look around EVER or first class cadet so and so or drill sergeant what's his name will have some choice words for you. Freshman year at the Coast Guard Academy your eyes are in the boat...hmmm...50% of the time? While you eat, while you stand at attention, while you run briskly through the peeways (lots of running, a straight back arms pumped up dorky kind of run). You  just kind of get used to it. It is more than a stare because it is a purposeful effort of keeping the eyes focused. It is amazing when your eyes are focused what you have the ability to tune in and out.

I remember thinking when I was going through that first year of college (it all makes sense now, I had to meet Justin, otherwise it would not make sense why I went there for college)...I was thinking "when in the world am I EVER going to use this stupid eyes in the boat nonsense?" eyes were in the boat Sunday evening during Mass in the Narthex and Monday morning at the grocery store when I had all five of my children on my own. See, I gave up my husband for Lent...Coast Guard stuff...and well, I am finding myself forced to go...errr...almost everywhere...with ALL of my littles.

I'm not sure if I have ever shared on here that I don't exactly like bringing my littles with me everywhere when I run errands (hahahahaaaaa...I shouldn't need to explain myself right?) But really...I get so much more done when I bring just the baby or I hire a sitter (ahem...we call her Julia or Jana). Sometimes on Saturday morning when Justin is home for the weekend and the house is sleeping

 I manage to slip out and do a quick morning shop, my seven year old might join me since she is my early riser.

There are a lot of reasons I don't lug them all with me. First off, just getting ourselves ready to even do said errands takes awhile. The older ones are good at helping the littles...but then... we are prone to leaving reading lights on so who knows if a vehicle will be dead or not in the driveway and then there is the dilemma of making sure we have cheese sticks and...did everyone use the potty? etc.

We move rather slowly as a herd once we are in the store to do our "quick stop" and it is MOST difficult to keep tabs on this ONE...

If only we could harness three year old BOY that would be THINKING green.

 So, I have found that sometimes it can be stressful with the littles, not ALL the time mind you but at any moment a perfect storm of kidnado brews and you just don't want to be in the store...or in the narthex...or in the _________.
And if the calamity that is your offspring isn't enough to look up and there is the audience. Could be an entire parish of people trying to listen to a homily...or an airplane chock full of people...or the people in line at the checkout....or in the waiting room...or in the bleachers at the icerink...there is an audience.
I feel pressure to perform with an audience. I grab for a quick sternness about my voice that may prompt an onlooker to think she's got her hands full but she sure is a disciplinarian. I might even interact with my audience when they throw me a line like, "You've got your hands full" (so unoriginal by the way) and as I'm buckling my wriggly three year old in the cart I can quip something like, "Oh yes! But we have so much fun, I'm never bored!"
However, I am finding...because I am out now so much with all of them...because we gave up daddy for Lent...that I don't have the time or energy to care about the audience. So...I simply put my eyes in the boat.
You are laughing...I hear you...Stephanie, you mean you outright don't acknowledge people exist outside of you?
It does sound kind of like the cold shoulder treatment doesn't it?
It is not that I don't want to acknowledge that people exist, it is more...I can't get distracted from my mission.
See, that's why the military trains their...pilots, rescue swimmers, infantry, SEALS, keep their eyes in the boat from the minute they step into uniforms because ultimately regardless of the chaos (of war, the hostile environment) around them....the mission has to be accomplished. We as a free country depend on brave men and women to keep their eyes in the boat.
It is your MISSION to bring your children to Mass, keep your eyes in the boat mama. Don't worry if the boy is screaming because he is thirsty and you have to duck out and totally disrupt the peace....because your MISSION is to bring your child to Mass and well, sometimes we need water. So get on it! Keep your eyes in the boat mama. No audience, just you and toddler, quench the thirst (make sure his lips don't touch the actual fountain...eww...just the water) and return back to your pew.
It is your MISSION to run in "real quick" to get the carton of eggs to finish the recipe you for sure thought you already had eggs for. need to take the littles with you because you homeschool and well....they are all with you. Saddle up that grocery cart! Eyes in the boat mama! A child MAY have a meltdown in the check out lane while the cashier is watching...and you should nip that in the bud NOW...but keep your eyes in the are disciplining your child not so you can impress others but so that your child respects your authority. You owe it to yourself to make sure meltdowns are put in check but keep your eyes in the boat so that what might need to be a tiny reminder not to do that doesn't become the loud, look how I discipline mom show
Jesus is the only onlooker you should be concerned with and I have found recently that if I can just keep my eyes fixed on my children and whatever needs to be done I get less flustered. If I don't have an audience, I am less stressed.
Maybe some of you don't struggle with this but this is a (using CGS atrium language) BIG WORK for me. My energy can get used up very quickly by unfriendly glances or unfiltered remarks. I don't want to have to try and defend myself and my family size, but sometimes I just FEEEEELLLLLLL like I'm on the spot and being judged even if I'm NOT...I just FEEELLLL that way, so my remedy is...I'm not on the spot. I'm just living the hours as they unfold.
I just want to keep reminding myself that these things unfold before Him. All the messy goodness of life with littles is before Him. I must accomplish the mission.
Carry on.
Love you xxoo

Thursday, March 12, 2015

PHFR - March


I will surely miss going down to "check on the lake" with the littles. Nature is ever changing.

I kind of shouted out my backdoor...
"Oh really snow?!? You're going to show up now?? In March???"
We had a very mild winter.....

However, even with the lack of snow we did get tons of skating in. We discovered great frozen kettles in the campground trails in our backyard.


I love this big silly hat on my little that my friend Hillary made. This goodness..she
 makes me smile so much. Such a gift!

She taught herself to ride her bike while daddy was away. It was our surprise to show him when he had his weekend home. Have any of you found the pause button? If you have please let me know, they are all growing up so fast.

Thank you for stopping by! Please click here for more PHFR.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Becoming an Expert

Hello...I promise I have not been completely sulky after my last post concerning our news that we are moving. I will admit that since falling in love with Juneau, I have been in complete denial that we are in fact a Coast Guard family.

Enough about that for now.

We are in Lent my friends!

And I had my birthday! Look at how pleased they are with the decorations with help from daddy.

We know that liturgically speaking, we are in the season of Preparation...purple! Purple for preparation...and being in a bit of a Catechesis of the Good Shepherd/Montessori mood I was thinking about the "prepared" adult.

Usually when reading or attending a training session for Catechesis of the Good Shepherd there is a great body of work that one comes across that covers the idea around a prepared environment. The atrium is a prepared environment for the religious life of a child.

An atrium environment is a treasure...

 but, as any catechist trained in CGS will tell you, all it takes unprepared adult to ruin the whole environment.

An adult who won't stop explaining or who rushes or refuses to ask that all important question, "What face of God does this child need to see today?" An adult who won't shut up and just wonder with the child, who is ambitious and doesn't let work unfold slowly.

There is so much training and studying involved with learning how one interacts with children in the atrium environment. This LENT I have made it a goal of mine to work on my LEVEL 1 atrium album pages (I hear are you getting album pages done if you are blogging?)

I LOVE the feeling of being somewhat academic about the whole compiling my atrium album pages.

I find it is filling a little...err...longing in me?

Ok ok...I will confess to you....I have this teeny romantic dream about one day being a professor of some sort. Being part of an academic scene...I mean, really, I have imagined that somehow while homeschooling and raising my children I managed to write a handful of bestselling novels (are you laughing yet?) and so OF COURSE I am asked to be a visiting instructor at ________College. I can see it now...I have a tidy shoulder length I don't mind grey haircut, with cute glasses and a colorful flowing scarf I got from a recent mission trip I went on to Uganda. I also have dangle earrings given to me by ________ (insert name of child of mine who will be an artist) should visit her Etsy shop. My students know I like coffee with lots of creamer and all things Jane Austen.

They can find me between classes in my cozy office that is full of beautiful books and a comfy chair with a fancy pillow. I have colorful sticky notes with inspirational things written on them scattered about and piles of papers, even a napkin or two scribbled on with ideas for my next chapter for whatever I am working on. Oh...and I have a toy chest for when my grandchildren stop by...

(imagine car breaks screeching)

no, that simply will not do. Yep. I think its going to stay a dream...and really...I'm ok with it. Toy chests are fun and all...but...

I think I can still have a certain style I like (I do like my scarfs and earrings) and I can certainly decorate my home a certain way but when it comes to writing and delving in and researching, I want my culmination, my thesis, my life's efforts to be becoming a subject matter expert on...

and don't forget...
Imagine with me one more time...
Dean ______ of __________ University takes the podium and adjusts the microphone. Gives a quick "ahem" followed by a swig of water.
The audience settles.
"Ladies and gentleman, thank you for joining me in our newly renovated Shankenheigen Auditorium, we are in for a very special treat this evening. Mrs. Stephanie Forbes is going to share with us her thoughts on her life's work...her family. As you all well know, Mrs. Forbes is the subject matter expert on her husband and children. The time and energy she has devoted to amassing her body of work shows in her ability to anticipate her husband's and children's needs. In her work she has cracked the code to six different languages spoken in her home in what she calls a groundbreaking effort to truly understand her subject matter.

She will share with us her tactics on how she was able to spend optimal time observing her subject matter by homeschooling them, insisting on dinner around the table every evening and honoring leisure on Sundays to name a few."

hahaha....this is so fun.

But really, can't we throw ourselves into our work like the scholars do? Can't we wonder at our children and truly know their needs and prepare their environment to suit those needs?

I was reminded of this whole...getting to know my people...moment when I was skimming through an old journal entry from about five years ago. I had written some bullets about my husband, it is so funny to look at it because of how matter of fact I was, like the journal was truly for research...
20 November 2010
The world will change one home, one family at a time. Let my home be a place where love begins and sets the world ablaze. Justin brought me home star gazer lilies and bright pink Gerber daisies. What does he like?
  • Lazy mornings
  • free evenings
  • warm meals
  • healthy snacks
  • a clean home
  • his slippers
So we are in LENT and we are thinking about preparing for Easter...hmmm...what is the point of having a home that can celebrate seasons (like...change a wreath) and is organized and comfy if the adults ruins it for everyone...if the...wife/mother hasn't taken the time to KNOW her people, to become the expert.

I am NOT an expert YET, but I have hope. I find I gain much ground in my own family research when I put into practice much of what I have learned in the atrium. When I not only have a prepared environment but I set about making an effort to be a prepared wife and mother.

I see more of WHO my children really are when I listen to them, when I read their facial expressions, when I notice things that hold their attention. When I count my words and limit explaining and instead focus on wondering with them. When I leave the day as unscheduled as possible (ok, we do get Math and reading in) but then otherwise just have a home where they can draw if they need to...or go outside...or nap.

I am inclined to believe that should we choose to make our children our life's work we have without a doubt committed ourselves to a lifetime of study of this particular subject matter. This just isn't a three year masters program. Luckily, God has chosen specific people to be in your care and He knows that you are a perfect fit for them.

Ok, I need to get a good night's rest now so I'm ready to immerse myself in my life's work tomorrow. Thank you so much for stopping by!! xxoo