Autumn Traditions and Memories

Our family is so young that we are still really setting up our traditions, deciding what each season means to us and what activities are worth repeating year after year.

Fall is my personal favorite season, and October my favorite month.

We get to go to the Arboretum to play in all the leaves.
We went with our preschool co-op this year.
And Z did WAY better than last year, diving right in.

There is also our yearly pumpkin picking trip. (I cant believe that this trip was a year ago. Or that this one was a year before that. How time flies!!)
The day we set aside for pumpkin picking this year was a rainy one. But it was also the only day that Josh was free to join us.
Never let it be said that a little rain kept the Clarks from a day of family fun! Or that a forgotten sd card kept us from pictures, thank you phone!
We even enjoyed a corn maze, and I just LOVE corn mazes.
We did the kid's maze- and thank goodness too because Zeke wanted to run down every single option. We were in there for quite a while.
Of course October ends with Halloween. I'll admit it's not a favorite holiday of mine, I'm not fond of getting scared or being cold and Halloween tends to dole out servings of both. But Zeke's enthusiasm is infectious so we are really getting into it this year; dreaded pumpkin carving and all.
I stayed far far away from that sticky goop inside.
In fact, so did Mal.
But Zeke and daddy made both a "happy pumpkin" and a "scary pumpkin".
And the was Zeke says "scaaary pumpkin" shaking his little arms, was worth it.

We even decorated our tree with some homemade ghosts. (no pictures, but I'll post some later I am sure)

Seeing it thru the eyes of a child again is making halloween fun. I remember this giant rubber rat we had that I was always afraid to touch as a kid, yet couldn't help it. And the witch we hung by the front door. It had a motion sensor and said something as you passed by...what exactly no one knew. It was an object of much debate every year. Brittany always swore it was saying "pork chop."

I'm remembering my favorite Halloween ever, as well. The one when my dad and us kids all decorated the outside of our house like a graveyard. We really went all out, it looked spectacular. Or at least I though so. I remeber in particular that as you walked up to our front door, there was the wall of the garage on your right. And in that wall happened to be a small hole drilled for a cord or something. We stuck a big spider to a wire and would wiggle it thru the hole when people walked up to trick or treat. I remember being so excited to wiggle that spider! I'm sure all the giggling gave us away but we were convinced we were scaring the pants off of everyone.

Im excited this week to think that maybe we are making Halloween memories like that for our own kids.

The dangers of talking children

First, let me just say that I didn't go to Relevant. I'm not even sure that bloggers that barely reach 1,500 hits a month are allowed to go to blogging conferences. Although my friend Kim reminds me that anyone can go, it's just that not anyone can get away with being sponsored. You need more like 1,500 hits a day, I'm sure, to get someone else to pay for it. Which I'm obviously not generating, and for obvious reasons.

BUT I am duly jealous. It seems like it was totally rad. Like church camp for adults- and church camp are some of my best memories of my entire life.

If I ever become a famous blogger (snort) I will go to Relevant, and hear all my favorite bloggers speak and be totally inspired and become a way better person (wanna pay for me to go now, internets?). Also, If I met Ann Voscamp, I would scream like a 12 year old that just met Justin Bieber. Except I'm almost 25, so that would be embarrassing.

Anyways...Zeke is a full-fledged talker now. He even talks to OTHER PEOPLE. Which is amazing. But I'm discovering also sometimes embarrassing and guilt-inducing.

Lowlights from this week: Zeke crying, "I'm scared of momma." after I told him (in my very meanest voice) to walk away from me.

Zeke in the car, "Malachi, take a chill pill! You're making me crazy!"

Zeke, when he dropped something, "Oh Sh*t."

Yep, you read me right... oh sh*t. And it is totally me and not Josh who taught him that word. Grade-A parenting going on over here. I've been working on my former-sewer mouth for a while but not hard enough evidently. Zeke and I have both switched to the explicative "Oh snap", in case you were wondering.

But there were also highlights from this week: Zeke telling me, "Sorry, I didn't mean to hurt you."when he ran into my ankle with his dump truck. I was proud of him, and also of myself (which I needed after the sh*t incident). As I've said, it's very much more my habit to say "Oh don't whine, I didn't hurt you." and I've been trying to improve that. It's nice to know my efforts to be a better example are paying off.

Zeke, at church, "Nice to meet you."

And honestly, every single time he prays. He has learned that bedtime can be put off if he just keeps saying things he is thankful for (he doesnt like the part about helping him be a good boy who always listens to his mommy and daddy, its unclear how much of this is because of the content and how much is because it's usually the last part of the prayer) so his prayers can get very VERY long.

Im in the very fun position of wondering what he's going to say next.

Other people get baby-fever (#28-36)

But I'm so beyond baby fever right now. Maybe if Mal would stop teething I would get baby-fever again? Who knows. All I know is that I do. not. want. a. baby.

But puppy-fever? Oh man oh man do I have puppy fever. Even ZEKE has puppy fever. His fear of dogs is gone and has turned into a passionate love of dogs.

Yet, I have a baby. A crawling baby. And it's rather hard right now to get out for daily walks, what with two small children. And I find mysterious poop on my carpet often enough already. And I don't have the time for training. And we are at a stage in life where there are toys and stuffed animals (aka possible chew toys) everywhere.

Basically there is a very practical part of me that knows the Bible teaches that there is a time for everything under the sun...and this is not the time for a puppy.

Then again there is that emotional part of me...

Which is why #36 is- Friends willing to tell me, "You DO NOT want a dog." Thanks Elisabeth. I needed that.

28. Two freshly bathed and pajama'd boys.

29. Wind chimes calling out my kitchen window.

30. A cat under the covers when I'm cold.

31. An invite to come over and play right when the blood pressure is rising.

32. Great big piles of leaves.

33. Radiation therapy.

34. Josh calling in sick to work to help.

35. Playdates you know you neednt bother to clean for (or brush your hair).

15 minutes here and there sure adds up

I've taken a bit of an internet hiatus this week.

You see, last week I realized I was overwhelmed. I have a history of this, and it's a path I didn't want to start back up on so I stopped for a bit and took stock of my days.

Where was my time going?

And yes, there was the predictable and accounted for. The grocery shopping. The cooking and baking. The time spent building block towers for the boys to knock over, and reading board books, and changing diapers. And yes, I also realized that I have said yes to far too many activities and responsibilities. I'm working on that.

And then there were the 3.5 hours a day I was spending online. Mostly on Facebook.

I admit this with great, great, shame. And even I, myself, am shocked. And even a bit horrified. THREE AND A HALF HOURS? How does that even happen? Even I didn't at first believe it possible.

But it was, and I will tell you how that happens. 15 minutes at a time. A little time spent upon awakening (I have to check my email after all!), a little time spent at nap (which always turned into a lot of time spent at nap), a little time when Josh got home and I had a bit of a break before starting dinner, and little time before bed (I'm going to bed soon, I promise, just let me finish this blog, said 3 or 4 times).

I was shocked when I added it all up and I realized I have a problem.

Internet addiction.

PROBLEM 1- Blog Overload

I read WAY too many blogs. There were over 60 blogs/online comics/news articles in my reader when I looked.

I cut that number down to 30, at first my goal was 20, but I just couldn't bear to do it. After that I couldn't think of who else to cut. Even at 30 it was an over 50% reduction, after all. And many of the ones I kept are in the friends and family department and almost never update.

Will I miss out on a lot of companionship, inspiration, ideas, beautiful thoughts? Yes. Yes I will. But I'm willing to trade that for a bit of my life back.


The ultimate time-suck.

I pared down Facebook quite a while ago. I all but quit quizzes (I never did play any of those silly games). I also clicked "hide" like a madwoman. I hid every single game. Every daily-scripture-thing and daily-horoscope-thing. Everything except actual wall posts.

But this week I went a step further. I turned off my notifications.

You see, my netbook is almost always on, and it "dings" everytime I get an email. You can imagine how often I was receiving "ding" facebook notifications that someone commented on the wallpost that I previously commented on. And every one of those "dings" was irresistible until I checked what it was.

No more of that. Now I only get notified if someone posts on my wall, or sends me a message.

Will I miss out on some conversations when people reply to things I've also replied to? Yes, yes I will. But again, I get a lot of my life back. And anyways, I can still find it if I want it. Its just not emailed to me.


Like I said, my computer is almost always on. All those irresistible dings. I use IM to keep in touch with my husband throughout the day, I bookmark recipes and patterns, I listen to music on Slacker Radio, I stream sermons and podcasts for my daily bible time. Most of my life is connected in some way.

This makes cutting down on my internet time all but impossible. It is right there. Always. At my fingertips. If I'm jumping on to listen to some music, I might as well quickly check facebook. If I need to grab that pattern for knitting Zeke mittens off of Ravelry, I better see if any new blogs have been posted while I'm already on.

Get what I mean?

So at least until I have my addiction under control I'm going to have set "computer on" times and try to keep it off the rest of the day. "Computer on" times are a half hour in the morning (so much of my social life is planned via email that it would be hard to cut this time completely, but in a half hour I will only really have time to check my email and maybe google some directions). Also as much as I want between 2-4 (aka nap time). Since this time is precious to me, I doubt I will be much drawn to wasting it all online. After Zeke wakes up, it is off for the night.

So yes, that means I'm going to have to burn a few CD's so I can forego Slacker for a while. Also, I'll have to print more often to keep myself from jumping on at dinnertime to check my bookmarked recipe. But I think after a few weeks I will be able to return to these practices.


Deja Vu

Zeke at 9 months

Mal at 9 months

Honestly, I didn't even stage it.

A Heartfelt Prayer

I am a long-time reader of Evlogia. Though she was Orthodox, and I was not, I loved her for her heart and her faith weekly inspired me in mine.

Today, she announced that she is returning to the Catholic church, by her husband's leading. Her explanation is far more eloquent then mine could ever be, so I will leave it to her. But I do want to say that my eyes fill with tears at the reading of it. Tears of joy, and tears of awe in her bravery and honesty, and also tears of gratitude. Gratitude for her example and for the God that makes all things possible.

I have had similar "problems" with my husband, you see. Though I have been strongly drawn to the Catholic faith, myself, he was not able to come to peace with it. And therefor we have become official members of a Methodist church. It was (and sometimes still is) difficult for me, but I know at the same time that I will find (and do) joy and peace in the unity of spirit with my husband. But how much easier, for me, who has only been following God for 8 or so years, not to mention any specific church?

My prayers are with Katherine, as her family begins this journey, and if you are so moved I would appreciate it if yours were as well.

Boy Updates and 1,000 Moments #11-27

Malachi- Is turning 9 months next week. 9 MONTHS!! He is crawling and pulling himself up everywhere, aka into everything. He's getting to be a fast little bugger, too. Especially when I am trying to get him dressed in the morning. He thinks it's absolutely hilarious to wait until he is completely naked, flip his body over, and crawl away as fast as he can. He usually gets about 2 feet before he is laughing so hard he has to stop.

His other big game at the moment is taking things in and out of other things. He will do this for an hour. If the container is clear, 2 hours.

Oh yes, and throwing a conniption fit if I am so much as 10 feet away from him.

I am not even kidding, poor Josh slept half of last night on the couch with him because I haven't gotten a good night's rest in over a week now and if Malachi can see me, he must be on top of me and nursing every 45 minutes. It's completely normal for his age, but man is it tiring. I'm not sure even Zeke's separation anxiety was this strong...but then again with Zeke it started at 3 months and lasted past his second birthday. We will shoot for strong and fast with this one. That seems more Mal's style anyways.

Zeke- Is actually driving me a bit nuts this week. He's ignoring everything I say. We've gotten into a pattern of me saying something 2 or 3 times before starting counting. He jumps up as soon as I start counting every time but it's honestly got to change. I don't have the energy to keep it up, but I also don't have any solutions. He's also been very rough lately, with his brother. Not purposefully but always wanting to wrestle. I could separate them but it always seems like punishing Mal more then Zeke...he's the only one who cries. I need to find a solution for that, as well.

Parenting is one big question mark, at times. I've re-read this post, to get advice from myself. It was only semi-helpful, but at the same time sometimes its nice to remember your own goals.

But we will focus on the positive, yes? After all, at the end of the week (if not always the day) two years old has been a lot more fun then one years old, which in turn was a lot more fun then the baby months.

Zeke did great while we were gone for the wedding, for example. Wonderful for the car ride. Forced thru numerous long days, many without naps, and he still held up like a champ. He also wasn't shy AT ALL. It was amazing. He just went right into playing with the other kids.

And he continues to be my little helper. The other night I made dinner solo and I was amazed at how much I missed his help. He has truly turned the corner from making everything take longer, to making everything go so much faster. He fetches ingredients from the fridge, and puts things away in the pantry, and saute's while I chop.

And tastes. Always tastes.

Last night I made apple cake for breakfast this morning (its got apples, so that makes it healthy right?) and when I turned around to his little finger dipping into the batter he looked at me all innocent "I just making sure it's ok, Mama."

Now where did he learn THAT one?

And dont worry, I havent forgotten this project.

11. Farm-fresh apples, newly polished and sitting in a bowl.

12. The first turning leaves.

13. A husband covered in grime and saying "insulation's done"

14. Warm homemade applesauce.

15. The three words, "I love you" catching me unawares.

16. Safety on the highway.

17. Family, and all those people that might as well be.

18. Curly hair.

19. Church potlucks.

20. The poppiest of pop songs when dusk is hitting and there are still 3 hours left till you get home.

21. Home.

22. Lone, hot, showers.

23. My own bed.

24. An old friend, who love me in all my ways.

25. A new friend, who wants to love me in all my ways.

26. Cambell's Cream of Mushroom soup, a staple in many of my quickest dinners.

27. The first night it's cool enough for flannel sheets.

Be More

I get to the point every once in a while when staring at my monthly calender that I not only wonder how I'm going manage all of this, but even why. It's a certain sign of burn-out.

So this comic found me sitting at the kitchen table and already committing to figuring out what is really important and necessary and what isnt.

I wonder sometimes, how I continuously manage to burn myself out, and then I look at my calender again and realize:

-That I'm not only attending Mindful Mama's every Thursday, but now I'm doing the MM playgroup every Tuesday as well, and have somehow became "in charge" of it enough that I feel guilty every time I cant make it.

-I also volunteered to set up, host, maintain, and update their website. Which means I'm scrambling every week to find an hour to write the meeting minutes, and feeling guilty that the website still looks ridiculously plain.

-And then I volunteered to be 1 of a 2 member team that plans out and schedules the weekly speakers for Thursday's meetings.

-THEN I decided to go ahead and be on the BloomSpokane Board. Which is wonderful, yes, but involves attending board meetings, fund-raising events, networking events, Bloom classes, writing articles for the blog, researching this and that and the other, and emails, emails, emails.

- Then there is planning my part of and attending preschool co-op ever week.

- Running 2 or 3 times a week.

- Knitting group 2 times a month.

- And book club 1 time a month, not to mention reading the darn book.

- And of course Josh and I are leading the youth group for our church, and maybe now a college group as well?

- This is only this month but I'm making and decorating 10 dozen cupcakes for our church Halloween party (the cupcake walk to be exact), decorating for said party, and serving at the potluck directly before the party. Something like this comes up almost every month.

- Then there is story time at the library every Wed, that I try to always get Zeke to.

- And the hour a day I'm supposed to spend in prayer and bible study.

- And the preschooling activities that I'm planning and setting up for Zeke at home.

- And the baby that is still exclusively breastfeeding.

- And housework, and yardwork, and gardening, and car maintenance, and laundry, and dishes...

-And 3 meals a day to be prepared,

-Bread to be baked, and to even make those possible,

- Groceries to be bought including the special trip for our milk, and another special trip for our eggs, and

-Always that run to Target that seems to be necessary every week.

- And my oh my Christmas is coming up fast and I cant decide which I have less of, money to buy presents or time to make them...

I'm beginning to get to the point that a denim embroidered cuff bracelet that says "Do Less" wont be enough. I'm thinking a tattoo on my forehead that says "No"

We Went To A Wedding

This past weekend we went to a wedding.

It was set in "the woods" as Zeke repeatedly said.

And a family affair.

I think almost everything; cake, decorations, ect was done by some family member or friend.

Josh was a groomsmen,

and Zekey got the grand privilege of bearing the rings.
(some of these photos are from the rehearsal, at the actual wedding I was a bit preoccupied keeping my boys in line to take many photos)

And this guy,
who also happened to marry Josh and I, was able to come up from Utah to marry them. I doubt much in the world would have enticed him to miss it.

There were the usual speeches...

The necessary cute moments...
Quite a bit of dancing,

And more sweets then there were any rights to.

The bride was, obviously, radiant.
(and cheerful as well, but this picture with her brother is maybe my favorite)

The bridesmaids also radiant, but duly less so.

And the groom seemed a bit tightly wound; a bit nervous and a bit shocked. Which was quite commendable and as it should be.

It was, in a word, perfect.

Two more outtakes, because my kids are adorable:

I wish, now that I think about it, we would have gotten a family picture. Josh and Mal wore red and Zeke and I black and we made a handsome figure, I assure you. But, to be honest, the little boys were a both on edge from the busyness of the day and lack of napping, Josh was busy, and I was downing rescue remedy at every available moment.

We still have all the clothes, so maybe I will just call them our Christmas picture outfits.

An Update on Preschooling and Two Requests for Advice

First: We are on week 4 of preschooling, far enough along to have figured out a rhythm and an early opinion of how it's going. I was uncharacteristically doubtful on whether this was a good idea or not, if it was too early, ect. I think I've been reading too many contradicting theories on early childhood. Or maybe just plain reading too much.

If you think that isn't possible, then you haven't seen my stack (in the end I read all those books this summer, excepting Shogun which I put off yet again, and adding instead the first 9 of the Sword of Truth Series, plus The Charlotte Mason Companion, plus 2 of Phylis Tickle's Farm in Lucy Trilogy).

I am happy with preschooling, however, though it isn't panning out the way I planned. In my mind it was all very official, us filing into the school room at some point after breakfast on Monday morning, with a fairly reliable and concrete "start" and "end", even if we left certain things for later in the week.

After the first week we did nothing of the sort.

Instead it's become a rather organic addition to our week. An art project here, baking there, activities available that weekly change, singing songs in the car and when we are bored, and of course books, books, books sprinkled into every spare moment. I think in the end its much more appropriate to Zeke's age, and more realistic for our family (especially adding Mal to the mix). The only difference between now and before we were doing "school" is that I am consciously preparing most of the activities to relate to a central weekly theme...or shall I say letter?

In September we did D is for Dinosaur, Z is for Zoo, and A is for Apple. Up for October is L is for Leaf, I is for Instrument, P is for Pumpkin, and B is for Bug.

The central weekly theme was a great idea; it's really helped Zeke make connections when we're doing paint stamps with apples, and going to the apple orchard, and making apple pie, and have a small stack of books about apples, all in the same week. But the letters? Probably shouldn't have bothered. We aren't even learning letters yet, Zeke is too little. So all it's accomplished is the necessity to think of something that starts with X.

We live and learn I suppose.

Second: I'm teaching myself to knit, continental style. I was informed this would be easier to learn then English knitting as I am not only left handed, but a crocheter. Also, it's supposed to be faster. So far, I have no evidence to make me believe otherwise on either account.

But then again, I have also only learned to cast on so far.

So if anyone has any 1. Opinions on continental vs english knitting; 2. Thoughts on knitting as a left-handed person; 3. Recommendations of how-to-knit websites or videos for continental or left handed knitting; 4. Offers to teach me to knit; or 5. general advice/comments then let me know.

I've come to realize that while I love to know new things, I pretty much despise learning new things. About 3 times now I've thrown my knitting needles to the ground in disgust at my confusion of yarn and fingers and vowed to never pick them up again. My husband, who was there, reminds me that I did the same with my crochet hook more times then either one of us cares to count, and now I am rather proficient.

Everyone should learn something new from time to time, if only because its so easy to forget how hard it is.

Third: I've been playing around with the look of this blog for a few weeks now. I really really love the simplicity of it, especially compared to my old and rather cluttered look. What do you think?

I'm also really fond of the "Stuff I'm Pondering" links at the right. So often I come by interesting blogs, opinion pieces, DIY articles, and the like that I would like to share, but I feel uncomfortable constantly spamming people via facebook "Look! I found this INTERESTING!" and don't have the time or inclination to blog all the time about other blogs for gracious sake. This feels a lot less intrusive then either option. It's there if you have the time and interest in it, but if you don't it's not in your face.

I do want to say, however, that it is Stuff I'm Pondering, not necessarily Stuff I Agree 100% With. It isn't some crazy Courtney's-Seal-Of-Approval, as if anyone would care. I am, however, ripe for discussion on any of them, so e-mail me if you want.

I'm not as sure that I'm fond of the "My Favorite Posts" button. Originally it was "Top Posts" because I realized that a good 1/4 of my traffic was going to a key dozen or so posts, and thought it would be convenient to highlight them. Then I decided to use a few of those, as well as a few of my personal favs for a list of favorite posts. But now I'm thinking I might get rid of it altogether.

Is there anything you think I should get rid of? Anything you think I need to add?

This is probably adieu until we get back in town next week. So have a good week!

Malachi the Walker

Not really, but it is closer every day.

Right now we are at that stage where he wants to walk, and he loves to pull himself along the length of the couch, but he is not nearly brave enough to take that real first step. Or, for that matter, balanced enough for that first step to be a good idea.
But we did get out Zeke's old walker. And after the half hour it took to convince Zeke that it was his brother's walker now, because he already knew how to walk, and what a nice brother he was for helping teach his brother to walk, ect, Malachi even got to use it. He was ecstatic, and got many congratulations for walking around the house.
I just can't believe how big he is getting. Hardly even a baby anymore, it seems.

But other days, such a baby, in the best possible sense. Especially compared to this kid:
Who cant be honestly called a baby in any sense anymore.

This morning Zeke was playing upstairs and ran down to tell me that the baby woke up "in his bed". I thanked him, but corrected as we walked up the stairs that they baby was in "mommy and daddy's bed". Zeke just gave me one straight look and said "that IS baby's bed!"

You got me, son. Separation anxiety set in shortly after 6 months and Josh and I gave up before the fight had even started, I don't think we've attempted to put him in the crib at night for a month at least. I think this time around we just know all too clearly how short this stage is. Zeke almost never climbs in bed with us anymore.

Then again if we dont at least start him in his crib pretty soon this stage wont be so short after all.

But I best go eat at apple.
We went to the orchard with our preschool co-op on Friday, and not registering that we were leaving town this week, I picked a box. An apple pie, a can or two of applesauce, and a few apples eaten later I still have quite a few left over.