Garden update

*pictures taken on different days, thus the lighting difference*

I was not aware that tomato plants could grow so big. We must have at least 50-60 tomatoes, and that isn't might not even be high enough. The plants are taller than Zeke and our stakes are sadly sadly strained.
As the weather has cooled off, I went thru and pinched off all the remaining flowers. I was worried with so very much fruit and the season being soon over that they wouldn't turn red in time. I read that if you pinch off the flowers (which wont have time to fully develop anyways) the plant will have more resources to devote to existing fruit. I'm not sure if it worked, or it was just time, but I picked 5 or 6 ripe tomatoes to make lasagna this weekend and already I have 3 more waiting on the windowsill.
The pepper plants ended up filling out, and now we have quite a few peppers as well. 3 or 4 per plant and we planted 9 (and lost one). The peppers are causing me a bit of a conundrum. I don't actually know how to tell when they are ripe.
We ate one with breakfast recently (scrambled in our eggs) and it tasted fine, so I suppose I will just pick them as I want them, starting with the biggest first.
The green beans never did grow very thick. I think they never recovered from that bug attack early this summer. They have pretty much finished producing at this point but we ate a good 4 meals off of our 2 5 foot rows, which isnt bad if you ask me. Especially considered we had given them up as lost. I'm excited for next year, to see how many beans we get off of healthy plants.

I replanated some peas a few weeks ago, for a fall harvest, and I can see teeny tiny pea plants coming up now. Josh thinks I planted a week or two too early, I think I was a week or two too late. So hopefully we are equally wrong :) I've never done fall planting, but then again I've never done any planting, outside pots.

Its been so much fun, and a lot easier then I suspected. Or maybe we just had good luck. Either way, we have big plans for next year. We're thinking we could double what we did this year. We have the space for it, if we use our space a bit more wisely, and with Malachi walking I can only imagine how much easier weeding and planting will be.

Lessons learned after Zeke's first time painting

Zeke has had some children's paints for a while now. I hadn't opened the box yet because...well because I feared the mess and didn't want to deal with it.

But we borrowed I Ain't Gonna Paint No More from the library recently, and despite its horrific grammar, it was an adorable read that threw Zeke into an obsession with painting. It was suddenly something he must experience.

(Baby Danced the Polka has thrown us into a similar obsession with naptime. I need to be more careful about what books I'm bringing home...)

Anyways long story short, he found his paints while I was organizing art supplies. And for some crazy reason I decided to just go ahead and get it over with.

Lesson 1: Be fun more often. We really enjoyed ourselves painting...because I allowed us to enjoy it. I know that on a different given day I would have made both of us miserable with this. Instead of worrying about the mess, I just sat and painted. It was nice. And in the end, it wasn't even a big mess.

Lesson 2: Trust in Zeke. I deliberated for a long time: Do I just give him one color? Wont he just mix them all and get crazy if given too many options? But since I wasn't allowing myself to be a scrooge I went again and gave him 6. I carefully placed a brush in each color and showed him how each brush matched and belonged to just that color, but I didn't actually expect him to get it.

He did. I dont give my kid enough credit.

Lesson 3: As soon as he can handle something that's not 100% washable, buy Zeke some quality paints. It's been a long time since I've used children's paints and I was a bit horrified. The colors had no depth, and the consistency was slimy and runny. Maybe not for everyday use, but I think nice acrylics or watercolors would be worth it. The cost wouldnt even be that much, honestly, when you consider that since nice paints are so easily mixable I'd only need red, yellow, blue, and white.

Oh and I though it was worth mentioning, while Z and I got our art on, Malachi taught himself to pull up and walk across the couch.
"What? This old trick? It aint no thing baby." (Mal also read that book with us.)

"Now if I could only reach that truck..."

He finally decided to risk it, reached, and promptly fell on his face. After rolling onto his back, however, he realized he could then reach it and decided that maybe it hadn't been such a bad move after all.

New things for me

At the same time as I've been busy, oh so busy, getting the boys' school space and supplies organized, and reading up on preschool theories be they waldorf or motessori or classical or charlotte mason, yes, I said at the SAME time as all of that, I've been presented with a new opportunity for me.

And yes, I said that too...for ME.

Those words haven't really existed in my life for the last 3 years.

Since having my kids I've really developed a passion for birth and birth education. Not really a passion for home birth, even though I loved it, or for natural birth, though I think every woman has the ability and right to one, but for informed birth. All I'm asking for is correct information, for pregnant women to understand what the heck all those choices are, and most importantly, that they are choices. C-sections don't bother me, neither do epidurals, or even inductions, I think they are all great and useful tools. What bothers me are women who get those things and don't understand the risks, or get those things and don't even understand why, because there is no why. Doctors don't inform their patients. Patients don't understand that they are consumers. And infant and mother mortality/morbidity rates are better in any other developed country then in ours.

I dont really want to open this can of beans.

Lets leave it at the fact that I am passionate about this.

And I've often wondered where this passion will take me. I though about becoming a doula, but it didn't feel right. I've thought about quite a few things, but nothing ever clicked, really.

Until now. Bloom is a great and amazing resource that's been around for about a year. And now it's getting the chance to leave the internets (wonderful as they are) and enter our community in a real way. I went to a meeting about it on Tuesday and I heard a click so loud that the echo is still going thru my blood.

I want to do everything I can to make this successful.

And luckily Tine (the designer of Bloom) is willing to let me. Even more luckily, so is my husband. I'm so so sure you will be hearing more.

Oh Mal

Sometimes a boy gets dirty...

And that's when its time to get clean.

Why Zeke refuses to bathe with Malachi anymore... also known as, Why my bathroom is always wet:

And so Preschool Begins...

I've talked and thought and prayed and blogged and talked some more about preschool since last November when I let Josh (wisely, oh so wisely) talk me out of a preschool co-op that had a spot open. That decisions was beyond the right one. But the question became "Where do we go from here?" When DO we start preschool and in what context and in what amount? And my mind has gone from here to there to back again on it.

I'm trying to separate my needs and desires, with Zeke's needs and desires, with my abilities and his abilities and the realities of our lifestyle and personalities and honestly? It's difficult. I'm not the sort of person to waver. I make a decision and I stick with it, to a fault. But I really don't know what's right in this. Funny how parenting can do that to you.

There is a balance between respecting his personality, which is admittedly shy, and pushing him into the label "shy" and not ever giving him a chance to prove me (or himself) wrong, but where that balance lies is lost to me.

At the same time its becoming increasingly obvious that he's ready for some sort of "schooling". His appetite for reading and songs and crafts is insatiable, and those desires aren't being filled. He wants more. I've been sending him off to play by himself too much this summer. Its too easy, is the problem. He's great at playing by himself. But he needs more.

So the plan for this year? Im in the midst of turning that empty bedroom we have into a school space. It's unnecessary in the extreme. We dont need a school room for the 1 or 2 mornings a week we will be doing school. But the room is empty. And because it was going to be a nursery for a few weeks there earlier this summer I cant help but get a sick feeling when I see it empty.

We will start with a "circle time" of songs and felt board stories and books and counting. And then he will have a shelf full of rotating fine motor and art activities that he can do by himself any time he wants, but we will spend some time right then using them together. Puzzles, and stringing beads, and coloring, and cutting, and matching games, and playdough, ect. And then we will finish with a snack and a mommy-led activity, something he CANT do anytime by himself. Cooking or a craft or painting ect.

I'm going to fight against my personality on this one. We will try and do it Mondays and Tuesdays, but we might skip a day, or add a day, or move a day. We will try to do it in the morning after breakfast, but we might put it off until the afternoon. We might do each section for 10 minutes, they might last 40...I will follow Zeke. I'm trying to remember that he's 2, its all extra right now. And that its about making this available, not forcing it.

On Fridays we're going to go to Elizabeth's for the preschool co-op she's starting. I'm nervous about how Zeke will do but I think out of all the co-ops I know that are available this will be the most low-key. Its just a few moms, and we will all be there. I'll admit that my own needs for some socialization for myself are pushing this more then my concerns for Zeke's socialization. But my needs are as important as his. I don't think it will be harmful for him, and he might just learn to enjoy it.

Elizabeth is following a letter of the week plan, not necessarily in alphabet order but hitting the kids' names first. I'll follow the same letter theme at home so its all cohesive.

We're starting mid-september.

Im keeping it all going on an experimental basis, but I'm also excited. I think its the right amount of pushing Zeke socially-wise. And I think calling it "school" will just motivate me to do the kind of parenting I want to be doing anyways. I also think a few years of this will give me a taste of homeschooling, and help me make THAT decision when it comes.

Wish me luck.

Oh and you know when I finish with the school room I'll post some pics. My budget for the project is about 50 bucks (including supplies) but I'm still pretty happy with how its turning out. Yeah for thrift stores.

Nice to Meet you, Son

Zeke- "What's your name?"

me- "I'm mommy, silly bean."

Zeke- "What's your OTHER name?"

me- "My name is Courtney."

Zeke- laughs "Courtney? That's cool. I'm Zekey."

Nice to meet you, son.

In a way, these days, it is beginning to feel like I'm meeting Ezekiel for the first time. His language has just exploded. And I mean exploded. Check out those full sentences people!! (And if he'd get up the guts to talk to strangers, I'm sure you would) Also, since when has he understood the concept of "other"?

For a kid who's language skills always rather concerned me, I can't help but feel like he's pulling ahead of the pack now. His enunciation can get atrocious, but his pronouns are getting really impressive. And his ideas, oh man the ideas in that kids head. Who knew?

Z- "I'm sad" sigh, "I'm soo sad."

me- "Oh no, why are you sad, Zekey?"

Z- "I just want to fly away."

me- "You want to fly away?"

Z- "Yeah. Like a bird."

me- "Can I fly away with you?"

Z- "Yeah." smiles, "We will go to our tree. We will eat eggs."

I'm not sure Zeke quite understands the relationship between birds and eggs, I'm also not quite sure that I'm ready to get into that. But still, I cant say that there is a single other person I'd rather just sit and chat with right now.

Malachi vs The Peach

We went peach picking.

We all enjoyed ourselves quite a bit.

Especially Malachi.

You see, Mal, I am afraid, is a picky eater.

He doesn't like baby cereal, green beans, peas, applesauce, pears, squash, or carrots.

In fact, after much experimenting, the only foods we've found that he WILL eat are graham cracker, banana, and avocado.

Oh yeah...
and peach.

Finding Simplicity Again

I've been feeling bogged down; overcrowded, overwhelmed, it sends me into a kind of paralysis. Time to re-read (again) Simplicity Parenting and be inspired. It's become an every-6-months book for me. As essential to life as Jane Austin. Honestly, I wonder if Zeke is feeling the same? He has been insisting on "stay home!" every morning, and while it began as honoring his needs (and avoiding tantrums) I've realized my son is far wiser than I. Staying home has been nice.

Maybe I can skip the book and listen to my 2 year old and be inspired? His most common sentence right now is "Look at me!".

Simplicity Parenting indeed. Stay home. And look at Zeke. As good advice as I've ever gotten.

It's also time for a blog make-over. And by makeover I mean lighter colors and getting rid of 75% of my sidebar junk.

We will see if blogging is just like life in the fact that once you throw out 75% of your realize none of it was actually needed.

Praying Without Cease

I've never been comfortable blogging about my faith. I read many wonderful and inspiring blogs written by Christian women...Evlogia, A Path Made Straight, Holy Experience... In a way I long for this blog to be as inspiring and wonderful. Lets face it, I long to be as inspiring and wonderful. But therein lies my problem. I long for it too much. And I have a difficult time, especially in this impersonal space, drawing a line between my faith and what it means to me and my faith and what it should mean to you, if that makes sense. Between sharing my heartfelt beliefs and shoving those beliefs down your throat. I also have a hard time telling the difference between heartfelt sharing of my beliefs and this very important part of my life, and...well...and vanity for lack of a better word.

I am a vain creature. Let's get that out there right from the get-go. I am as vain in my strengths as I am in my weaknesses. It is truly a sight to behold at times. And I have long struggled to keep my vanity from encroaching on this space. And so something very central in my life gets left out.

It seems wrong, however. And so I have been struggling lately.

I don't know if this means I will begin to blog about my beliefs and that part of my life, because really, it is all parts of my life in a way. Maybe I will find that balance. Where I can talk about it without being pushy, or unloving, or prideful.... It seems a tall order at the moment. But it also seems dishonest to leave it out so blatantly.

Who would I be without my unwavering belief in the ultimate control and goodness of an almighty God? Without my doubtless knowledge of having been redeemed and saved by the cross? Its the kind of thing that changes your outlook, for sure. It is central to everything I do and am. Honestly I hardly make sense without it.

I CAN share this bit of struggle:

Recently Josh brought up a clock his grandfather made from storage. It's a rather big one, that honestly I've never had much love for. But it sings the hours and Zeke has been so obsessed with the giant clock tower downtown we thought he'd get a kick out of it. I decided, since it would be constantly singing and reminding me, I would try to get into the habit of praying every hour as it chimed. "Praying without cease" if you will. I'll admit I've been rather enfatuated with the idea since I was a teenage and read Salinger's Franny and Zooey.

Now, I try, rather unsuccessfully, to spend time every afternoon in devoted prayer and bible reading. Josh and I try, also rather unsuccessfully, to read My Utmost for His Highest every evening. I'd rather not dwell on our exact success rates in this, they waver quite a bit but they are never all that impressive. Inserting God into our daily life, outside of mealtime prayers, has never been an easy habit for me and I thought this might help.

And praying with the chimes has actually been a really easy habit, but with a surprising effect. I've honestly hated it. First off, that clock chimes every 15 minutes, not every hour. Great, I at first thought, to be reminded of the Lord so often. But when I realized how often that thing chimed right in the middle of me being impatient with my children, or unforgiving to Josh, or unfair to a friend, or, or, or. Oh my the guilt. I started swearing to myself, ok, for 15 minutes...just for the next 15 minutes I wont do ANYTHING to be ashamed about.

I havent succeeded yet.

It's all been rather disheartening. And humbling. And maybe, after all, that is the point. The simple Jesus prayer, "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner" has never meant so much to me. Even every 15 minutes is not apparently enough for this sinner. It hasnt been what I expected from it. I thought, so silly now that I dont even want to admit it, that I would feel BETTER about myself. How wonderfully wrong I was. I am going to keep it up.

Ages and Stages

I feel like, with a second child, it's a whole new set of "milestones". I honestly couldn't tell you the first time Malachi rolled over. I didn't notice, despite the fact that I have Zeke's first time written down to the day.

And I dont have any exact date for crawling with Mal either. It's so gradual, what counts? Josh said any forward movement. But I always thought that was cheating. With Zeke we decided to count 3 "steps" in a row without falling or stopping as officially crawling. But again, with Mal? No one was watching him that closely.

When he started crawling over to the dvd player/computer/any blinking light and turning it off it felt like a whole new stage, though. I thought "I remember this"; It's the "I can crawl and also I love to push buttons" stage. He is pretty dang proud of himself every time he does it, and it wont stop for at least 6 months.

And this stage? I remember this. Quantity over quality, I call it. Zeke liked to have 200 spoons when he did this, but Mal prefers the house binky collection. Since both boys were pretty fond of binkies, and both boys were very particular about brand and style (and liked different brands and styles from each other) we have quite a few. Mal likes to find "his" and separate them from the bunch. They have to be Nuks, with the handle, 6 month size, and silicone nipples. He tastes each one and all the Mam brand, newborn size, handle-less, and rubber nippled binkies get thrown off the tray until he only has the "perfect" ones left.

Then we start over.

As a second-born he gets to do whole-new stages, though, that Zeke never did. Like "do everything I can to annoy my big brother" and "throw a fit every time I can't do something my brother can". Can anyone tell me when THAT stage ends? 18? 25?

Zeke is also onto new things. Giving me an insight into what to look forward to with Mal in a year in a half.

Like tantrums whenever we leave....anywhere.

And on a brighter note, telling me stories. They always begin "Whoah Look!" And then he proceeds to tell me all about the owl he saw in our tree. It was looking for its babies! It was saying "whoo whoo whoo". Or the dog. It was in the sky. It was digging in the dirt (in the sky?). It was green and it was sooo big. Then a hippo came. And IT played in the dirt. And they were friends.

His language has just exploded. Last night before bed he told Josh that he wanted to "party all night". I would blame Josh on that one but he asked ME where Zeke learned it.

Maybe he's just a natural rock star?

33% Sounds Like So Little But Also So Much

So according to this site: , which I'm admitting on the record is sometimes interesting and sometimes craaazy, the US circumcision rate for newborn boys was 33% last year.

I'd LIKE to believe that circ rates have gone down that far. I'd like to believe they've gone down even further. And everyone I've asked who has chosen to circumcise their son(s) has told me that the top reason they did it was in order for them to fit in, so it makes sense that once the numbers started going down they would REALLY start going down. I mean, at 33%, when they all grow up it would be the circumcised boys who would be considered "strange". Which is ironic if you think about it. It's like my poor mother who named me Courtney because she thought it was so original but then lo and behold every 4th little girl was named Courtney that year. Or rather the opposite of that.

And honestly 33% even sounds HIGH if I was to go off of my personal experience. I can only think of 3 boys I know under the age of 6 that are circumcised. And I know a lot of boys under the age of 6. But then again I live in Washington. And I know for a fact that this states rates have been under 25% for years and years. We are among the lowest circumcised in the nation.

But for some reason I'm still having a hard time believing that its 33% national. I'm not quite sure why. The medical "reasons" have all been debunked, a lot of insurance companies and most states wont pay for it anymore, it's officially classified as a cosmetic surgery at this point. All roads point to circumcision going down. But still the 56% that I read about two years ago when I decided to leave my own children intact seems more likely to be true.

So here is a question, especially for those of you living in other states, but really for anyone: Does 33% sound about right to you? Bear in mind that they are talking about NEWBORNS here, which may be the problem I'm running into. As I sift thru children in my acquaintance they are all older, when 56% WAS the current rate. Any labor and delivery nurses? Anyone around an unusual number of babies? Do you guys think only 1/3 of boys are circumcised these days? Or is Dr. Momma wishful thinking?

What happened?

I realized I havent blogged in a while. Strange. Maybe the heat is getting to me. It's been hot in Spokane lately.

But a quick update of the goings-on around the house lately is in order.

Josh and I had a date night. It was an in-house date, begun after the kids went down for bed. But a date none-the-less.

We made mud slides and played Scrabble.

I know, we are totally wild. And craaaazy.

We both drank a bit too much. Enough that we were so impressed with this corner that we took a picture of it.
Upon awakening we weren't quite as impressed with ourselves.

We also planned another date night. An out of the house one!! We are going bowling with some friends...I know...wild...and crazy. We need to grow up and start acting our age :)

The green beans in the garden are producing.
I don't even understand how its happening because the plants are only about 4 inches tall. The beans are almost as big as the plants.

Malachi is doing well, as well. He is getting better and better at that crawling thing, for sure. He also moved up another size. I tried and tried to hold out in the 12 month stuff until winter but nooo siree. So he's in 18 month clothes now. At 6 months. Yeah.

Zeke is being....Zeke. There are no words for Zeke.

Well maybe there are...but there are a lot of them.

Dirty. (Sadly, this is every. single. day.)

Imaginative. (The conversation between Lion and Zebra as they ate their apples was beyond hilarious...I was laughing far too hard to record it.)

Stylish. (I am working on a boy-appropriate dress up collection so he will GET OUT OF MY STUFF! The shoes don't bother me so much, but my jewelry box is in shambles...)

In my Pockets

As my very first sewing project I made an apron. It was fairly hilarious. I had never seen a sewing machine before so just use your imagination.

I also couldnt find a pattern I liked so I kind of made it up from a picture I had.

But now I have an awesome half apron and I see many many more in my future.

Its actually really handy. All those extra pockets.

And I think its kind of cool in a Mad Men sort of way. I've been watching a lot of Mad Men.

Walking around in my apron, pulling things out of my pockets, I kind of feel like an old-school housewife. A rag, some all-purpose, a pencil and pad, a binky, a few dozen clothespins... items go in and items go out, it might as well be the 1920's nevermind the 1960's.

But then my fingers find my cellphone, or my ipod...or my thumb drive. Hi, 2010.

Fireworks Festival

We didnt do much this weekend. We played Wii, we played Scrabble, I finished a book and started another. After over a month straight of non-stop weekend activity, we didn't much mind the on and off rain that kept us home.

So I'll blog about LAST weekend :)

On Sunday we went downtown for the Fireworks Festival. Its a rather small one, and we had never attended before.

But a day downtown is a summer staple and since we were out of town for the 4th we didn't get our traditional 4th of July day downtown.

I think we got there around 4.

Almost right off we had to find the "big clock" and wait for it to sing. Zeke adores the big clock. He talks about it, and the song it sings, all the time. He talks about it far more often, and in more varied company, then I am comfortable with, in fact. If you know Zeke and the trouble he has pronouncing his "l's" then you can imagine why.

After that we went to go play in the fountains.

The first plan was to go out to eat and then come back for the ballet at 8, and the music at 9. There is a 60 piece windpipe band (oboes, trumpets, horns, ect) and as the finale there are fireworks set to Handel.

But we played in the water too long and realized we wouldnt make it in time.

So instead we got take-out.
And watched the ballet while we ate.
Zeke was enthralled with the dancing.
And also later with the piccolo. Oh yeah, and the fireworks.

The 4th downtown is a tradition but honestly, this was so much more fun. Less crowds for sure and way better entertainment. The fireworks show, I'll admit, didnt really compare but I think this was a winner.