The Little Things

One of the programmers Josh works with died Monday in a car accident. He had two sons, age 6 and 8. Suffice it to say it's put both of us in a really icky funk. Josh ended up coming home from work early yesterday, unable to concentrate on anything and wanting to kiss his boys. And today, besides my aching heart and constant thoughts and prayers towards the family that must be in complete shock right now, I'm looking around at everything in a sort of thankful haze. Its sad that it takes a tragedy to make us realize how lucky we are.

It's really about the little things.

Little baby feet that just beg to be kissed.

Sitting on the kitchen floor eating warm bread, straight from the oven, with really fancy butter.

Dancing barefoot to Rilo Killey, with no one over the age of 2 to see you.

Felting Easter eggs with an over-eager toddler.

"The best things in life are nearest: Breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of right just before you. Then do not grasp at the stars, but do life’s plain, common work as it comes, certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things in life". ~Robert Louis Stevenson

Our Weekend

This weekend a problem was discovered:
Zeke, having watched us in the garden plot a lot over the last few weekends has decided that it's his new favorite spot to play. Especially he enjoys parking his wagon there, digging, and pulling any plants he finds. You can imagine our concern since any day now we are going to plant our spring produce in that location.
There IS a small border, but it wasn't quite visible enough to teach him not to cross it. Especially considering the temptation. And especially considering that OTHER sections thus bordered off he is perfectly free to dig in. Little boys need to dig after all.

So a plan was hatched:
And a baby spent an hour in the (sort of) sun:
And then took a nap with a momma:
And a fence was built "Josh style" (aka with 2 by 4's that we had laying around).
Zekey can easily cross it. It's not very high, after all, probably only 2 feet. But the visibility makes it easier for him to understand where he is and isn't allowed to play.

And just for fun:

Thoughts on my stomach

I find it sad that so many women refuse their bodies the honor that they deserve. Even women that you think would know better, women that gave great respect to their pregnant bodies and to the process of pregnancy and childbirth itself, later look at those same stomachs they so lovingly caressed with only thoughts of disgust.

I am sometimes guilty of the same.

But when I am my best self I look at my stomach with more love. I run my hands over the new texture of that skin and remember that I was given blessings so great that my body could not contain them. I see the few shiny white lines that are my remembrance of Ezekiel's time within me, and the surrounding (much more plentiful) angry red ones that are my skin's ode to Malachi, and I know that my body will never be the same as it once was. But then again neither will I. I don't WANT to be. And when I honestly think about it, I don't think I would want my body to be the same either.

I was part of something miraculous. I don't want the physical signs of it to be magically (or medically) erased as if it were something shameful. Definitely not in pursuit of some ridiculous ideal of American perfection, because let's face it, I'm not going to achieve that either way. Very very few of us ever will.

My body has served me well. It is strong and it is able and it is healthy and yes, it is beautiful.


Every night as Josh and I put the boys to bed I pray that they will grow to be godly men, despite us.
Many nights I leave it at that. Just a simple yet fervent prayer, "Father help them to be the men You would have them be, despite my many failings. Help them to be better than me."

Other nights I might pray for specific virtues that I feel at an utter loss to bestow upon these children given in trust to me.

I pray that they would know God's grace.

I pray that they would be peace-loving and slow to anger.

I pray that they would be hardworking.

I pray that they would have self-control.

I pray that they would be generous and compassionate.

I pray that they would be humble.

I pray that they would be wise.

I pray that they would be merciful and forgiving.

I pray that they would be honest.

I pray that they would be joyful.

But as Lent has progressed I have found my prayers slowly changing. And while I still believe with all my heart that my prayers for my sons are the very best thing I can do for them I find that I am being called to do something much much harder.

So now I pray "Lord, let ME fully understand Your grace. Let ME be to slow to anger teach ME to love peace. Make ME hardworking. Teach ME self control. Help ME to be more generous and compassionate. Make Me more humble, more wise. Let ME be merciful and forgiving, Lord. Teach ME to live a life of honesty, help me to daily show my joy. My children are watching, God, let me live the life I would have them live."

*pictures thanks to the best husband out there. He found a great deal on an old cannon on craigslist and bought it for me, despite the fact that I've broken 2 cameras in the last 6 months. (displaying both forgiveness and generosity to our children.) Oh except for the last photo...that one is thanks to Kaitie :).


Rhythm...we were made for it. We are made OUT of it. Think of our heartbeat. Our breathing. A woman's fertility. And its not just us...the whole world was made out of rhythm, we are surrounded by it. The seasons. The waxing and waning of the moon. The circle of day and night. I could go on and on. No one can deny that God made this world, and us, out of rhythm. (Well, I suppose you could deny the God part, but that is neither here nor there.)

But in our "advanced" culture we have lost our rhythm. We have electric lighting that allows us to bring our days waaay into night, we have electric heating to help us ignore the presence of winter and air conditioning for the heat of summer. We have 24 hour supermarkets that fill shelf after shelf with avacados and strawberries flown from who knows where, no matter what time of year.

I will suggest (most humbly) that in all this conveneince we have lost something important. Perhaps something vital.

Rhythm, and its significance, is something I never really thought about until I had kids. But the more I learn about it, the more I experience our life with and without it, the bigger a believer I am.

The biggest, and most obvious difference I see, is how much calmer everything is when we are in a rhythm. I know exactly what our day is going to look like. More importantly Zeke knows. As a child with no sense of time whatsoever, and very little control over his own life, this is priceless. There are no fights to take his nap, because we have ALWAYS taken our nap after lunch. Its not a choice because its the way it has always been.

Sleeping and eating are obviously the most important things, but I honestly see merit in adding even more to your daily rhythm. When do you do chores? When do you get out of the house? When is the time for play? When is the time for quiet?

My goal, lately, has been working on a new rhythm that better encorperates Malachi's needs and my new (and somewhat lesser) abilities as a mother of two. Rhythm has to change with your needs, after all. And even, I've found, with the seasons. We are outside more in the spring and summer, and alwasy always busy. Its a time of outward energy and its important to schedule in breaks to be quiet. In the winter, however, we are inside much more, and life is calmer. It's a time of inward concentration and its more important for me to be mindful of scheduling active things for us to do.

Its a process and I am still learning. It's a balancing act between the comfort and the ease of the familiar (so important for the very young child) and the ability to understand your needs for THAT MOMENT and "go with the flow" (also necessary with a very young child).

Some inspiration

You know, I've been reading all these childhood education theories lately. Waldorf/Montessori/Classical/ect, trying to get my opinions in a row so I know... be the perfect parent or SOMETHING. I'm not actually sure what my goal is here...I might just have an addiction to collecting knowledge and opinions.

But ANYWAYS, one thing that they all absolutely agree on is that very young children have no need and should have nothing to do with workbooks and drills with flashcards and hard-core straight-up academics because at this age they learn almost completely thru imitation and play. (Although Montessori finds fault with the word play...don't be so damned argumentative Maria!) No big surprise. Anyone with a baby/toddler/preschooler could figure that one out. And the only people I've ever found that disagree are the manufacturers of such early childhood education paraphernalia. (And dont get me wrong...there are those children that love workbooks and flashcards, especially children that see older siblings doing school work (imitation!) and I'm not at all insinuating that it's harmful to allow them to do them, just putting out the opinion that they are neither necessary nor all that efficient teaching tools for this age.)

But it really got me thinking today. Zeke, and even to an extent Malachi, are very very busy watching me. And imitating me. In. everything. I. do. And that is their NUMBER 1 form of learning. Think about that for a second.


Am I living a life worthy of imitation?


So I've been reading a lot about Waldorf Education/Waldorf Parenting lately. It grew out of my latest obsession with homeschooling, which I've actually decided to put on the shelf for a while since it' know...forever away still. So much can and will change before then that there is no point making decisions now. I'm keeping it open as an option, even an option that I'm fond of, and leaving it at that. Plus I got sidetracked.

It's taken me a long time to decide what I think about this whole Waldorf thing, I never heard of it in my early childhood development courses. And honestly I'm still not 100% sure of my opinion. There are so many interpretations out there and so many levels of the philosophy itself. But so far I think where I stand right now is ironically enough the exact opposite of my stance on the Montessori Method.

Being a bit more knowledgeable on Montessori, I have long felt that it's a great preschool teaching method (it is rarely used with children over 7). I thought it was a great parenting method too...before I had kids. Now I've realized that it makes for ridiculously unattainable (and rather joyless if you ask me) parenting taken it its pure form. That being said, I do adore the activities, and when I was working in childcare I picked up Montessori activity books whenever I found them. Like I said, its a great teaching method. I cant wait until Zeke is older and we can do a lot of the activities.

Waldorf, however, is a horrible schooling method (though it is ONLY used in children over 7). 1. I'm starting to believe a waldorf education, because of the way its organized, could not help but to be a bit...splotchy? I think you learn a great bit about certain things, and miss out on quite a bit else. 2. I think it only teaches to creative types and poor math guys like my husband would be miserable. And 3. Anthroposophy, the spiritual philosophy that the waldorf method grew from, is rather silly at times. I cant help but feel that Steiner (its founder) was all too aware of our innate desire (even innate NEED) for the Holy, but instead of going to what is actually Holy, he skirts the edges of truth by worshiping what has been created instead of the creator, and celebrating saint's days without understanding what the saints were actually about.

But THAT being said, it's a quite inspiring parenting method. I really love the focus on being involved with nature, and including your children in the everyday tasks of homemaking, and the importance of rhythm, and not stressing the academics so much in the preschool years (although some waldorf writers take this to extreme, with an almost FEAR of academics pre-7. I would never KEEP my child from any knowledge he wanted to gain, I just agree that not only is there no need to push it at this age but pushing it could be really harmful).

So that is where I stand on that, lol. Not that anyone actually cared. Before I die I will probably have a stance on absolutely everything, seriously.

I long for the day that I can just not have an opinion and be done.

A day in the life

I was telling Josh the other day how sad I was that I will be the only one with these memories, the memories of these early days with my sons. They will forget. He told me that I would probably forget too. Which just made me even sadder. He is right. Who remembers just the normal everyday day?

Anyways, I have a friend who does this from time to time...a snapshot of her life. And I thought I would try it. So here goes. Today, St Patricks day:

Mal, who may be the first ever Clark early bird, wakes up at 5:30. Luckily for me he stays pretty happy playing with his hands in bed until Josh gets up at 6 and takes him along with him to get ready for work. I get to sleep another hour until Josh leaves to catch his bus.

Mal is in his bouncy chair, telling his new best friend Zebra his life story.
So I decide to do last nights dinner dishes while I have the chance. I get the dishes done, tea started, dress, and throw my hair up in a ponytail before Mal decides that Zebra is judging him and they arent friends anymore. We get a long and quiet nursing session behind us and my tea enjoyed before Zeke (in true Clark style) stumbles groggily into the livingroom at 8 demanding "snack".

We start some oatmeal on the stove.
We read Eek There's a Mouse in the House 3 or 4 times while it cooks. Zeke and I both prefer steel cut oats but it takes forever to cook and when you don't have 12 hours notice that your 1 year old wants oatmeal nothing beats rolled oats' 10 minute cook time. Except instant, I suppose, but that is just nasty.

We eat out oatmeal with milk and honey :)
Next its bath time. Malachi screams like I am performing some sort of advanced interrogation technique. He always does, which is why I try to sponge bathe him as much as I can but about once a week the kid just gets cheesy. Zeke drops the soap 8,493 times while trying to "wash brudda".

After getting Mal dressed I calm him down and he decides the only true way to recover is to take a morning nap and passes out on my shoulder. I drop him off in his bed and return to Zeke, who miraculously still has the soap.
(Yes, I left my 1 year old in the bath alone. But in my defense the talking NEVER STOPPED so I knew he wasn't drowning. If he stops talking I rush right back in there. People that have met him will be surprised to hear that when we are at home the kid keeps a constant commentary going at all times.)

I wash Zeke's hair and body and then sit on the bathroom floor to check my email and read blogs/online newspapers on the laptop.

Unfortunately it was about now that the cat (and it was even the GOOD cat) knocked my camera off the counter and into the tub. Having unfortunate experience in such things, I knew the best plan of action was to take out the batteries, not turn it on again until it was dried, and cross my fingers. As of the writing of this post its still not working.

So no more pictures.

But Zeke eventually gets out of the bath. He pours some fish crackers into a frying pan to cook on his play-kitchen and eventually goes into the backyard to yell at the birds (bird hating is apparently genetic because his father does the same thing). I putter around the house doing all those little things requiring two arms that always need doing and never get done because one of my arms is holding a baby.

Malachi wakes up just in time to nurse and make it to the library for story-time. But not if we walk. So much to my shame, we load into the car and drive 1 mile in beautiful weather.

We hear stories about pigs and do little finger songs (or more correctly watch others do them, Zeke is strictly non-participatory at story time). We read for a while, and pick 3 books to take home. Zeke does the dead legs thing and I threaten to leave him behind if he doesn't walk like a big boy. He tells me "bye" and the librarian laughs. I tell Zeke that only big boys are allowed to beep their books (i.e. push it thru the check-out machine) so I guess I have to do it myself and he decides to behave.

When we get home we read our new books 3 or 4 times each and then decide to make a cake for St Patricks day. We always bake something on Wednesdays, be it muffins or bread or fruit leather or crackers but I always try to find some reason to make it a cake ;) My talent for finding reasons to bake cakes is astounding.

After that Zeke goes back into the backyard and I nurse Mal asleep for another nap. A holding nap because he wont allow me to put him down. After a while we have lunch and Zeke goes down for HIS nap. Mal, of course, immediately wakes up. So we check my facebook account together and I try to decide what I want to do with my "free" time. Its always a difficult one. Watch House on Watch my new Netflix DVD (its 100 Days of Summer!) Read The Brothers Karamazov? Read You Are Your Child's First Teacher? Crochet some more of Mal's new toy? Start felting easter eggs?

I decide to do my Lent bible reading first since I hadn't gotten a chance that morning and to spend the rest of the time crocheting Mal's toy. I didn't think I'd have time for the whole movie (and I hate stopping in the middle) and didn't feel like reading Dostoevsky aloud (and I try to read aloud if Mal is awake).

So I read my bible and then listen to a podcast on waldorf parenting while I crochet. Mal watches the crochet hook and tries to grab my yarn and nurses and babbles and leaks feces onto my jeans and goes back to sleep on my chest eventually. You know, baby stuff.

Zeke doesn't wake up almost 4. Which means a 3 hour nap! Which means I TOTALLY had time to watch that movie! drat! I had planned to walk to the park after snack since we didnt get our morning walk in this morning but it looks like my plans to ever lose this baby weight have been beaten by a sleeping child once again. Instead we put the baby in his chair and frost the cake, and then immediately cut two pieces to have with tea (milk for Z). That will show my baby weight who's boss!

I do the dishes from today and a few one armed chores since Mal is getting crabby now. While wiping off the counters I look down to realize that the counters on Zeke's kitchen are grimy too. So I cut a new sponge in half so its child sized and show Zeke (who had been jumping on the couch and needed distraction) how to clean his kitchen. He's really into it for 10 minutes and then goes back outside.

I decide to join him with Mal and a book but it gets mostly left unread open in my lap. It was just too beautiful outside to be staring at a book! So I enjoyed the new green in the grass and the sound of the windchimes and watching Zeke throw his soccer ball.

Malachi started to get cold after a while, though, and sleepy. So we headed back inside and read Zeke a book about farm animals going to sleep a few times (books must always be read a few times over). Mal fell asleep and Zeke jumped off the couch and pretended to go asleep too.

I try to put Mal down in his swing to start dinner. It doesnt work. He wakes up right away and lasts happy only long enough for me to peel the potatoes. So I make the rest of dinner holding one baby and trying to control the "helping" of the other. (Yes, Zeke's days are always thus split between reading, cooking, and playing outside. They are his favorite activities and about all he does right now.) Unlike the rest of the world we dont eat corned beef. Because its gross. And also cant possibly be authentically Irish since last I heard the Irish dont hostorically keep cattle. At the very least they must eat corned mutton or corned pork?

I DO make colcannon however, since that is both authentically Irish and not gross. I also make broccoli and sloppy joes. A meal Josh and I always called sloppy ho's before we had kids, because yes, we regularly ate sloppy joes even before having children. They are delicious.

Anways, Im very happy when Josh comes home and I have my two arms again! I finish up dinner and then nurse (again) while he sets the table with Zeke. We end up with about 7 forks. Zeke was apparently in charge of fork distribution.

Zeke is impressed with the sloppy joes.

Mal is not impressed by the idea of being put down while I eat.

After dinner I try to calm down a crabby Mal and Josh clears the table. Zeke goes back outside yet again.

Then Josh takes over walking Mal around in circles and I write this post! It just got dark so he made Zeke come back inside.

The plan for the rest of the evening? I will shower. Then Josh will put Zeke to sleep while I most likely nurse Mal for the last time tonight. Then Josh wants to go downstairs and study up for an interview he has tomorrow. I will most likely go upstairs with a hopefully asleep baby to watch 100 Days of Summer. That or read, we will see how tired I am.

You know, I set out to get a good example of an average day. And I was going to write the day out really honestly. But today ended up not that average, it was much better than average in fact! No giant tantrums, no horrible mom moments. Fairly happy kids.

A new felt board and hopefully more to come

I want to try to start crafting again. At least every once in a while. I haven't since Mal's birth and I miss it. To start that goal off, Zeke and I made him a felt board this weekend, along with some simple shapes and the letters of his name. He was mighty impressed by the word "octagon" and said it about 1,000 times, pointing them out wherever we went. Unfortunately the difference between an octagon and a circle are rather obscure to a 1 year old... many of Zeke's octagons were, in fact, circles.

My plan is to swap out the shapes with something different when he gets bored with them and/or learns all his shapes. Maybe something for counting? Maybe some characters from a fairy tale we can tell? The possibilities are endless. Which is why I love felt boards.

My next project is going to be crocheting Mal some stacking rings. I already found a great pattern on Ravelry and I'm almost sure I can make it using leftover scraps since I'm not going to be too picky on mixing fibers on this one. I figure if one ring is cotton and another wool and then another silk its just going to add to the appeal right?

Wish me luck on finding the time. My gargantuan stack of books at my desk doesnt bode well for this.


Some days we move along at a perfect beat. It's a true jazz rhythm, slow and sometimes halting, always with a strong back-beat, and we jive right along in perfect 3 part harmony. I contribute this to all the Ella I sing when my children are trapped in my womb and must listen and these are the days that I love, the days when it seems like nothing has really happened. Meals prepared, eaten, babies nursed burbed nursed changed nursed and burped again, toys gotten out and cleaned up and repeat; a joke is shared; cuddles are enjoyed; banana bread baked; daddy's arrival celebrated.

Yesterday was not one of those days.

Yesterday was not Jazz at all.

When Josh walked in the door I think I said something along the lines of "Zeke is screaming because I made him come inside a half hour ago when it got dark, Mal is screaming because Zeke is screaming, and I havent started dinner yet. Welcome home."

These days will happen, I've learned, and when the boys were finally in bed asleep I took the time to look back and really think thru what parts of the day worked, and what parts didnt, and why it was so. I know that I cant control everything but I am also aware that I am the one that sets the beat for our day. And that it's when I am at my best that my children have the chance to be their best as well. So much of parenting, I've found, is discipline but suprisingly its mostly SELF-discipline. Was I patient? Were my expectations realistic? Was I emotionally grounded? Was I distracted? Was I available when needed?

I am the one that sets the beat to our day and its a heady responsibiliy. And maybe one of the most valuable lessons I can give to my children is to teach them that not even I am always at my best. We get thru the day, we look back on why it was hard, we ask forgiveness, and we try again.



Tulips! (Funny story, last year I had some potted bulbs about here...Zeke was so kind as to dump one of them out and I forgot all about them. Obviously they survived and now I have really really random tulips coming up.)

And the mystery bush (which no one can identify even though it has a really crazy fruit that you'd think SOMEONE would recognize) is getting leaves! And so are my lilac bushes, though I didnt take a picture.

Anyways, all proof that spring has sprung! And I am seriously seriously excited about it.

And as spring, uh, springs?, and as Malachi gets older, and as I start to get my life under control I am starting to think about our daily rhythm again, which other than nap and bedtimes was thrown out the window when Mal was born. But both last and this week I have been able to keep up with my housekeeping, which has felt really good and I'm taking as a sign that maybe I can begin to organize our "new" life into some semblance of order. Until now its been rather chaotic, kind of a "get things done when you can" situation and every week since Mal's birth I've had a giant honey-do list for Josh of things I hadn't gotten around to. (I HATE making the poor guy mop the kitchen on his days off work but at the same time we both know that this is the reality of being ME. More than sleep and more than time to myself and more than pretty much anything, what I need to stay sane and calm is a sane and calm environment. Such is life married to an obsessive compulsive. He sometimes mops on the weekend.)
But the point was that this will be the second weekend that Josh doesn't have to play catch up for me and Im taking it as a sign that maybe I can start to think about getting back to a daily and weekly rhythm.
And since the whole point of having a steady rhythm is to keep it I'm going to spend the next few weeks really looking at our days, and thinking about what worked for us before, and what will work for us now, what I want out of our days, what I want them to feel like. Spring is a good time to reassess anyways, I've noticed our spring/summer needs are very different than the quiet and warmth (physical but also emotional) that the fall/winter demands. Spring is a time for opening up, I suppose, and winter a time for closing in.
Anyways, as I ponder all these things and organize my thoughts maybe I will write a post about rhythm. Its so important to our life and so ignored by our culture.
2 Confessions:
1. I went to go buy Zeke new shoes and discovered that he measured at a size 7 and a half. He had been wearing a size 6. No wonder the poor child took his shoes off whenever he could.
So we bought some 8's to have room to grow and despite initial reluctance, after a day of discovering how his toes actually fit, he's pretty into his new kicks. And yes, they are high tops...I do have SOME honor left in me.

2. Josh and I watched The Brothers Bloom with Zeke, despite strong beliefs about children watching adult TV and almost 2 years of abstaining from letting him do so. And not only did we give in, but we gave in big, a full 2 hour movie with not only violence but horrible language. At least we could have given in for a half hour episode of fairly innocent The Office. Zeke was well behaved thru-out, playing with cars I believe, and now that Star Trek has arrived (we have netflix) its taking all of our self control not to let him watch THAT as well. Oh how the strong have fallen. It woudl be easier if it didnt take us forever to find time to watch movies. I mean, before Bloom we had a 3 episode disk of Mad Men for 5 WEEKS! Which is why we have netflix. Can you imagine the late fees? But we are re-committing. The things we do for our kids....
Oh and Im adding a catcha word verification thing to my comments. I know this is annoying but for some reason I'm suddenly getting 3 or 4 spam comments a day. When it was 1 a month I was fine deleting them but this is getting ridunculous. I cant spend 10 minutes everyday getting rid of spam on my blog...Im a busy mother of 2 over here!

preschool oh preschool

I have learned about myself that I tend to over-prepare, and specifically to over-research. I over-researched all things pregnancy and newborn, then when Z finally arrived in all his glory, I started over-reserching all things toddler and discipline. I've read more pregnancy books, birth books, parenting books, discipline books, child phychology books, ect then I care to admit. And now that Zeke is firmly a toddler (his tone of voice as he says "no" is proof enough) I am getting ready to over-prepare for preschool.

Josh and I decided after much much talking (more talking then he really wanted to devote to the subject, to be honest) to keep Zeke out of any preschool-type program until he turns 3. This is good news and bad news. The good? As excited as I am to start that amazing journey,
three is probably a much more appropriate age for any child, and especially for my child. Not to mention my family, since by the time Zeke turns 3, Mal will be a firm toddler himself and my life will be a lot simpler (I will take a toddler over a baby any day).

The bad? That gives me a litle over a YEAR to overprepare...and this is a subject I could really really overprepare in.

You see, I still havent decided what to do about preschool. Do I put him in a normal commercial program? Do I put him in a co-op? Do I homeschool during the preschool years or even try to start my own in-home co-op with a few like-minded moms? The last possibility honestly begins to sound the best to me but also the most dangerous for overpreparing.

And of course there's the fact that homeschooling is a touchy subject in my mind. I kind of want to do it. No, I really want to do it. I start to delve into the waters of montessori, and waldorf, and I get really really excited. I could create a really really kick-ass school program using all my favorite bits of each. I love the rythmic nature of Waldorf, for example, I love the idea of working with the seasons, I love the festivals, I think Nature tables are a gorgeous idea. I love that the philosophy include so much art, music, storytelling ect. But Anthroposophy is creepy. Im not going to remove all of Zeke's black crayons, and no I wont teach him about gnomes. I like the lesson books that the kids write themselves, but organizationally I dont like the idea of focusing on one subject for weeks at a time before moving on to the next (math for a month for example). And I like the independance and respect given to the children in Montessori. Let them choose their subjects and interests, great idea. And instead of giving your kid a play kitchen, or even one of those little E Z Bake ovens, just let them cook. Instead of giving them fake plastic tools, give them a real set and let them build something. I like that. I think they take it too far at times though. It would be easy to just slide by with the minimum effort in Montessori. Also they tend to demonize fantasy play. Zekey cooks with me, he's got scrambled eggs down pat. But he also has his play kitchen. Fantasy is important.

Both programs also put a lot of emphasis on their hatred of plastic as well. I get it. Plastic is cheap and its ugly. Plastic toys are often loud, obnoxious, noise-making things. I agree that natural-made toys; "real" tool sets, play silks, wood cars and trains, ect are more beautiful, longer lasting, more cherished, not as annoying. But you know what? Plastic is cheap and abudantful. And while I can commit to buying my kids less but higher quality things I'm not about to go around telling everyone else to. So yes, there will be much plastic around here. And I dont even mind honestly. Zekey's Step2 kitchen is rad.

But anyways, getting off subject as usual. Just think of the possibilities of homeschooling! I could teach my kids to write without the ridiculous stick and ball method (palmer script is my mortal enemy). I could teach them to read using real literature, not those horrible textbooks carefully segmented by reading level. I know for a fact I could do a hell of a lot better than the school system when it comes to incorperating art, music, know all the things that feed the soul and get cut first from a budget. We would learn gardening, we would learn sewing, crochetting, painting, woodwork...

We would spend serious time on religion, and not just our own, which I could easily find for my kids in any christian private school. No, I could teach my kids Budha's eight-fold path, the teachings of Confuscious, greek and norse mythology along with our own beliefs...I could use real school time making sure my kids understand that in every religion is merit. The liberating submission to the will of Alah in Islam, the attainment of purity in Buddism, the atonement and songs of praise to Yaweh in Judaism...

Getting off subject again, but see, the deeper I delve into this, the more I start to get really really overwhelmed. The idea of schooling my children is BIG. How do you fit it all in? And I would want to fit it ALL in. Homeschooling is a lot of work, a lot of long days with my kids, a lot of responsibility. At the end of the day they might get a half-assed education. There are also the questions of socialization and independance, which is offered by school in amounts that cannot be replicated at home, no matter how hard you try.

I am torn on the idea of homeschooling. If I truly want to do it and if I DO want to do it, for how long. At the very most I'd say till 6th grade or so.

BUT homeschooling pre-school. Now there's an idea with a lot less stress to it. Maybe I could talk 1 or 2 other families into joining me 1 or 2 days a week, or for occasional feild trips. I have confidence to teach preschool that I just plain dont for "real" school. It would give me a taste for homeschooling, if its too much for me, if its not enough for my kids. It would give Zeke the extra years at home, which I cant undervalue, but provide him with some organized learning.

So here I sit. Overpreparing already. Researching preschool lesson plans, and following
homeschooling blogs, and reading up on Montessori and Waldorf and the best methods
to teach penmenship (die palmer die!) even though this stuff is years is coming.


I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ. - Ghandi

I think my biggest beef with my own religion can be summed up by that quote above. When reading about Jesus' life and His teachings I have to come very face to face with the giant gap that exists between my God and my Church. I love what Christ taught. I very often hate what Christians teach.

Josh and I struggle with this all the time. We've talked ourselves in circles about it. We know that the Bible instructs us to be members of the church. We know all the spiritual benifits of doing so and we understand the full importance of it. We really really want our boys to grow up with our faith very much a daily part of our lives. But sometimes? Sometimes we are very ashamed of the behavior of the christians around us. And every once in a while we are almost as afraid of raising our kids in the church as out of it. We want to shelter our kids from the hypocrisy. We dont want them to be as jaded as we have grown. We are also afraid that our own lessons of love and forgiveness, Jesus's lessons, will get overridden by the lessons of homophobia and hatred and racism, of political close-mindedness, and irrational fear that the church so often spews.

Anyways, I am already off subject of the subject I was supposed to be starting.

Which is that Josh and I are looking for a new church. Not because of the above. But because the church we've been attending the last 5 or so years is almost a half hour away from our new house, and between that and the times of their service's (8 when Zeke is just waking up and 11 when its getting near nap) we have been having a very hard time attending. We make it probably 1 and sometimes 2 times a month and that is just not ok.

The search and prayer over finding a new church has brought up (again) all our thoughts on the above, though. We would like to find a church that actually represents our beliefs. It is much much harder than we ever thought it would be.

The church I went to as a teen, after I converted, was Free Methodist. I loved it but it do I say it?...well Josh and I call it a "baby" church. The kind with a huge rock-concert worship service. They converted a LOT of people. A LOT. It grew faster than they could build additions. I dont think anyone there had been Christian over 3 years. Which was/is wonderful in its own way. But, and perhaps because of that, they never taught anything but the very basics. It was the New Testament, mostly the gospels, and every once in a while a Psalm. No bits about sin or hell allowed people, its called the Good News.

Josh's childhood church was perhaps the opposite. Instead of a "baby" church, it was an "elderly" church. Old fashioned and without any real interest in becoming anything else, he never felt it really related to todays world or perhaps ever would, especially after his youth minister left. A perfect example: They dont allow instruments in worship service...for reasons no one has ever been able to explain to me. Change comes very slow there, and usually never at all.

The church we joined upon moving to Spokane slanted more towards what he was used to then what I was used to. Josh's needs were greater than mine at the time, ect ect. We wont get into that decision has nothing to do with this. A lovely small church. But even after 5 years we have never really felt that we belong. We're accepted. We're loved. But we dont feel comfortable really showing who we are. Perfect examples: When I took a "leadership" type position in our MOPS (moms of preschoolers) I got a visit at home to ask me to please not bring up things like the fact that I do yoga (I was pregnant at the time and credited prenatal yoga for my lack of back pain thru both pregnancies) because it could lead others "astray". Or there's the fact that during elections Josh and I had to stop attending a bible study because the talk always ALWAYS veered into the political. And by veerying into the political I mean glowing talk about Sarah Palin (who Josh and I dispise to the point of disrespect) and how democrates are the scourge of the earth (oops, dems here!...although if Josh reads this he will be mad I said so...Josh is a consitutionalist for the record).

All 3 churches lovely lovely churches. Seriously. Full of wonderful and godly people. But as we have had children things stop sliding off our back so easily. We think "Do we want Zekey and Mal to hear this?" Its the reason that while listening to the Christian station I turn it really quick whenever Focus on the Family has a spot. Uhg, dont get me started on Focus on the Family. Built increasingly every year on hatred and ignorance...

I am getting bitter. I just had to erase like 3 sentences up there.

Anyways, Josh and I find ourselves this Lenten season looking into our hearts. What do we believe? Which of those beliefs do we value the most? What do we want out of a church? What do we want to surround our kids in? Strong biblical values, of course. The love and forgivness taught by our Christ. Tradition, relatability. A place where we can say Obama without getting stoned would be nice, you can be a democrat AND a christian, people. Maybe a place where Islam doesnt mean devil worship... Its a heady list, I could go on and on.

And so we pray.

Coach Zeke

Coach Zeke has been busy working with Malachi on his head holding skills.

With much success.

He is also waging a holy war against snot. (No one in the family has a runny nose.)

In other news we should have named this kid Jeremiah...he still looks like a bullfrog to me.

And I walked 2.5 miles yesterday with the kids...I am very out of shape.

Garden 2010!

I am so soo excited to garden this year. Its the first spring we've owned a house and so the first time I can plant in the ground (vs pots) so I'm going to be able to do so much more than my usual 2 or 3 things. I had a really really hard time paring it down to a reasonable amount, I wanted to grow everything. But I also don't want to over-do it and put more on my plate then I can handle. We have a 5 foot deep bed that's...oh I cant even guess how long but LONG at the side of our yard so I could fit a LOT but we decided to start small(er) for the first year.

We're planting:
2 5 ft rows of Lettuce
2 5 foot rows of Spinach
2 5 foot rows of Peas
2 5 foot rows of Green Beans
9 Brandywine Tomatos
6 Butternut Squash
9 Bell Peppers
(plus we started a strawberry patch last year that is already coming back up)

This weekend we decided what to grow, how much, and bought our seeds, plus a tray to start our tomatoes and peppers indoors, organic compost, and a few materials for building our pea trellis, and tomato stakes. We measured out where to plant everything, turned the soil, and dug up a few weeds on our main garden bed. (we decided to put the squash in a different section of the yard since it needs so much room and also tends to take over)

NEXT weekend (March 7th) we are starting our tomatoes and peppers indoors and adding our compost to the main garden bed.

The weekend of March 14th we are building our pea trellis' and finishing adding the compost if we weren't able to before.

The weekend of March 21st we are planting our first rows of peas, spinach, and lettuce.

Then we get a gardening break weekend before starting our second rows of peas, spinach, and lettuce on April 4th. (I'm curious to see which planting grows better and also hoping that will keep us from getting ALL of our produce at once)

Then we have 4 weekends to get our squash hills ready. We are going to have to remove some existing plants and turn that soil and probably add some topsoil and compost before we can make the hills. We're also thinking about digging a divider down into the soil to separate our strawberries from the rest...they are already growing out of their designated area.

Then (finally!) May 9th we will be planting our beans and tomatoes.

May 16th our peppers and squash.

I tried to spread all the work out because with 2 small babies in the house I just cant spend hours upon hours outdoors. Well, Zeke wouldnt mind but Malachi might.

Anyways, I hope I get a good yield for all of this work. I know me and if I have a total fail year I'm not going to be willing to try again. And if anyone is a gardening expert (which I am absolutely NOT) or even just a teensy bit experienced let me know if you see anything totally wrong in my plan. Something along the lines of "that is way too much squash" or "not enough peppers" or "lettuce will absolutely not grow if she plants it then". I'm afraid, for example, that Im jumping the gun on my warm weather planting, but its been such a mild warm year...