The Male Brain

I just got from the library The Male Brain. A friend of mine was/is reading it and I figured, hey, I am surrounded by men these days...perhaps it will be interesting.

I've decided that its going to be really fun to talk to Josh about.

His comments as I read the highlights:

Me: The male brain is a lean mean problem solving machine. Faced with a personal problem , a man will use his analytical brain structures, not his emotional ones, to find a solution.

Josh: What? You mean we SOLVE the problem? Who ever solved a problem with their emotions??

Me: At certain points in its development, has difficulty following the pitch and cadence of female speech.

Josh: That is because that squeal you guys do isnt a word.

Me: Has an area for sexual pursuit that is 2.5 times larger than a females, perpetuating a virtually endless loop of sexual thought.

Josh: Come on now, that's just in proportion!! Everyone knows a man's brain is just 2.5 times larger!

Me: I see how this is going to go...You are going to come home from work and I'll say "look honey, this is so interesting!" and you will just go "mer mer."

Josh: I dont think I can follow your cadence.

Just a little insight into why I need a girls night out so often.

Thoughts on My Boys

zZeke's newest interests include giving what he has named "super squeezes",
eating like there is no tomorrow (or at least if there IS a tomorrow it wont include food),
and anal retentively lining things up in neat rows. Cars, shoes, refridgerator magnets. Nothing escapes his desire for organization.
Also trains. I suspect because they come pre-lined-up in an anal retentivly neat row. That and it seems like a train obsession is just one of those things every boy has to go thru.
He is really entering a fun stage. Josh and I are enjoying him a lot right now.
Did you notice what he did to those crayons? The kid is nuts.
Every now and then I worry I love Zeke more than Malachi. I think its just that everything with Zeke has always been a struggle.
Getting pregnant with him was a struggle, birthing him was a struggle, breastfeeding was a struggle, his sensitivity has been a struggle, his intense emotions have been a struggle, his seperation anxiety has been a struggle, I could go on and on.
Ive just fought so fiercly for Zeke, and with Zeke and yes, sometimes against Zeke, that it's created a fiercly close bond. We are both so sensitive to other people's emotions, as well, that we feed off each other emotionally pretty much all day long, which makes it hard to seperate as individual people.
That and because of who Zeke is, I end up worrying about him, thinking about him, and considering his needs so much more than Mal. Josh and I are considering finding a regular babysitter for an every/other week date and I assure you it isnt the 3 month old we are concerned about.

Other times, though, I worry I love Malachi more.
And for all the opposite reasons.
Everything is just easy with that boy, everything has come naturally. He sleeps well and he loves everyone and he is always happy. Mal is sweetness incarnate. The kid will seriously be playing by himself on the floor for a half hour, fall asleep, and then wake up and continue playing. And no matter what, even if he is crying, if you lean down and talk to him he will give you the biggest goofiest smile.
You cant HELP but to love Malachi.
If I had to choose 1 word to describe my second born it would be "Joy". He is pure joy for me. Forced to pick a word to describe Zeke I wouldn't be able to come up with anything so nice, and I know it. Looking over this post perhaps I'd choose "struggle" though its a verb. "Intense" is probably the best I could come up with.Malachi is not intense.
He is sweet. He is joyful. He is easygoing and patient. Malachi means "my angel" and I chose his name well.
And he is hitting a great stage as well. We got out the bumbo yesterday for the first time and he is loving practicing picking up toys off the tray and bringing them to his mouth.
He will practice it forever. And though his picking up skills are better than his keeping hold of skills, he has a big brother willing to crouch by his side and put all the dropped toys back on the tray.

My boys DO adore eachother.
And I think if I am learning anything, its that I love both of them evenly...in very very different ways.

The Stack

My reading list is getting out of control very fast lately. Very out of control. The two books that are starred I am half finished with but the rest are waiting to be read either in the large and precarious stack at my desk, my public library queue, or my wish list for future amazon purchase (I feel guilty buying books on the internet when I could be supporting my local bookstores but I just cant beat those amazon prices). I WANT to finish off this list by the end of summer. At a book a week that would have been laughably easy, say, 2 years ago. As it is...we will see how it goes. It may be accomplished and it may not.

I am not allowing myself to add any more to the list until it's done however. So stop blogging about good books for a while ok?

Non-Fiction:
*The Brothers Karamazov- Dostoevsky
Shogun- James Clavel

Parenting:
*You Are Your Child's First Teacher- Rahima Baldwin Dancy
Discipline without Distress- Judy Arnall
Siblings without Rivalry- Adele Farber
How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen so Kinds Will Talk- Adele Farber
The Shaping of a Family- Elizabeth Elliot
Heaven on Earth- Sharifa Oppenheimer

Psychology:
The Male Brain- Louanne Brizendine

Cooking:
Artisan Breads in 5 Minutes a Day

Spirituality:
Keep a Quiet Heart- Elizabeth Elliot
Let Me Be a Woman- Elizabeth Elliot
The Ragamuffin Gospel- Brennan Manning
Letters to an American Woman- CS Lewis
Weight of Glory- CS Lewis
Reflections on the Psalms- CS Lewis

I am pondering...

My favorite part of babies are their tiny little feet. I love how soft and chubby and flat they are. I could kiss Malachi's little feet all day long (and dont even get me started on those cheeks of his). I think my favorite part of very small boys, however, are their shoulder blades. As Zeke's body goes thru the metamorphosis from chubby, soft little baby to bony, bruised-up boy I cant help but fall in love with his shoulder blades. I just love how delicate they are, and the way they stick out when he moves.
---
A blogger I enjoy has been going over her menu planning strategy lately. She has a 1 week menu, breakfast lunch and dinner, for every season. You can imagine how this must simplify things for her. She always knows whats for dinner, her grocery list is already prewritten for her since its pretty much the same each week, and because her menu changes with the seasons she can still take advantage of seasonal foods and appetites.
I sat down with my recipe box and a notebook to make my own seasonal menus for spring and summer to see how I liked it, though I knew I would have to do a 2 week rotation. But as soon as I got down to it I realized that the whole idea just wont work for us. We eat a ridiculously varied diet around here. For example, under my soups and stews tab I had no less than 21 different recipes, and we eat each and every one. Granted I am a big fan of soup and a snoot when it comes to the canned stuff. But still, 21 soups and stews!
I came to realize that as good as an idea as the weekly rotation is that this is an area of my life doesn't really need simplifying. I don't get stressed about meal planning. I plan our dinner menu between a week to a month in advance right now and I don't really have a hard time thinking what to make. Breakfasts and lunches are leftovers or a handful of household staples that Zeke and I decide on as the day and mood arrives. Or some new obsession. I tend to go thru "stages" where I eat a ton of bell peppers for a few weeks and then stop suddenly and move onto smoothies or something else and Zeke is the same it seems. He will want oatmeal for breakfast every day for a month and then just as suddenly want yogurt and never look at oatmeal again. And I like the ability to do that. I also love to find and try new recipes. Sure we have our basics that get repeated over and over, spaghetti, tacos, chicken casserole (which really means 300 different things depending on what's in the house) but I have alwasy enyoyed presenting something new. Which is why we have 21 recipes under soups and stews I suppose, those were all the winners. But I love to cook.
It IS a great idea though.
---
I dont think people give Martha enough credit. You know, Martha as in Mary and Martha. In case you arent familiar with the story, Martha invited Jesus over for dinner. She was busy running around cleaning and cooking and preparing while her sister sat at Jesus' feet listening to Him. Martha complained to Jesus asking Him to make Mary come help her but Jesus gently rebuked her saying "Martha Martha you are distracted and worried about many things." and told her that Mary had chosen the better part.
I've probably heard a dozen lessons on that story, yet strangely enough when I think of the sisters my mind first goes to their reactions when their brother Lazerus died. As soon as he had fallen ill they sent for Jesus but for His own reasons He took his time in coming and by the time Jesus arrived Lazerus was 4 days dead. When the sisters heard that He was finally there Martha came running to meet Him and say "Lord if You had been here my brother would not have died!" while Mary stayed patiently waiting at home until she was called for.
Maybe its because I am a hopeless Martha, I would have been right there with her running thru the streets to my God, to ask Him "Why? Why did You not come sooner? You are Lord and if You had been here he would not have died!" and I know that every. single. day. I fail to sit in quiet learning because I am distracted and worried about endless unimportant things. But still, I think people are too hard on Martha. Mary chose the better part, but Martha's faith was just as strong.
---
I am not looking forward to thinning out my spinach and lettuce, though I know it needs to be done. I hate pulling plants. It seems so wasteful, so violent, so egotistical. Here I am planting seeds only to decide later on which get to live and which die. Who do I think I am? I had this same crisis last fall when I had to thin out the bushes. I felt so bad cutting off all those perfecly healthy branches.

I am not ruthless enough for gardening.

BACK

Just a quick post to say that we are back. Going out of town with 2 babies, and with no husband, while PMSing (because I'm already doing that again apparently) was an...interesting...endeavor. In all honesty it went well though. Better than I expected.

Low Points: I completely lost it at one point during the drive there. I think I may have been even close to tears. Mal had been screaming for about 3 hours despite many stops to try to comfort him (he always started up again as soon as we got back in the car) and I was about 1/2 hour from my parents house when I got caught in awful complete-stop-on-the-freeway traffic for almost 2 hours.

Zeke had nightmares (typical) the first 2 or 3 nights and Mal suffered from allergies (also typical) almost all the nights so I slept very very little.

And I also got pretty tired by the end of the last evening. My positive attitude diminished quite quickly when my husband called. (Isn't it awful how sometimes those closest to us bring out our worste attitudes? I think its because we feel safer with them but still, I wish if I had to be nasty it could be to strangers and not those I love the best). It was just busyness and little sleep and PMSing and missing home and not looking forward to the drive back at all and once I had packed up the car adn seen that my mom had gotten the baby to go to sleep I knew that a good nights rest would bring a renewal of spirits in the morning. And it did. And the drive back was great other than my 2nd ticket in 9 years of driving (for 2 years expired tabs, oops, but it kind of prooves how often I am pulled over).

High Points: Getting to see family I dont see nearly enough. Zekey especially, is becoming so much less shy and I love to see him bond with everyone. He just loves his uncles, especially uncle Shane (who is 6), and he also loved cooking with his grandma. And lots of people got to meet my little Mal for the first time ever. And Mal is such a friendly and happy baby he loved being held and passed around.

Seeing a good high school friend, and even though it was a rather short and melt-down ending visit to the park I'm going to count it as a highlight.

Watching old home videos. That is some very serious comedy.

Looking up just about everyone we know in my mom's birthday astrology book for hours. She has one all about you depending on the day you are born and another where you cross reference your birthday and someone else's to find out about your relationship. Im not much into astrology usually and Josh is borderline forbidding it (as it is he only discourages which is just enough to make me feel guilty but not enough to make me resist) but it was a lot of fun. Zekey was born on the day of the limit pushers or some such, which I got a laugh out of. And Mal evidently is going to have a "tragically difficult" time letting go of childhood. Oh and Josh and I's marriage is doomed, our birthdays dont match up well at all. And I'm supposed to have a phychic connection with Zeke, and a very close freindship with Mal. I will believe that part :)

I think in the very end I am proud of myself for being able to handle everything for almost an entire week without Josh, and not to mention those long 7+ hour drives. But I also am aware that I was not the mother in Boise that I am here in Spokane. I was more lenient for sure, I gave in when I should have perhaps been strict, and there were extra bottles when things got to be too much for Zeke. And I was less patient at times, I was sometimes easily frusterated by very normal behavior (because both boths were beautifully behaved through-out). It reminded me how much I do depend on Josh's strength at the end of the day but it also reminded me how capable I am even by myself.

It was a good trip.

I did miss a lot of the spring coming, though. My lettuce and spinach already need thinning and 3/4 of my peas are sprouted (1/4 looks destroyed by cat or perhaps toddler). The neighbors willow and our oak are half green already. Two of my bushes are in full flowering glory and the lilacs are quickly getting there. There is also quite a bit of weeding to do and the lawn is looking ripe for its first mowing...if not overripe. One of my biggest goals for this summer is to not nag about mowing the lawn, however. Pray for me. Nagging is a bit of a weakness of mine adn never am I worse then when our lawn is a foot high. It will be an effort, but one well worth while. My marriage is more important than my nighbor's opinions on our grass length.

Anyways, off to bed.

Spring


It seems that while we were stuck inside with the flu, Spring finally came. I got to walk out my front door today (the first in NINE days) to this:

And I soon discovered that the little teeny leaf buds that I was soo excited to see week before last,
are really blooming out now:
I've got flowers aplenty coming up as well. Bulbs that Zeke planted in some...interesting spots:And a few that are more purposeful:

An afternoon spent in the backyard relishing our sudden 70 degree weather and new health reminded me all over again why I love early Spring so much. Its not just the beauty but all that anticipation of more beauty yet to come:
It almost makes me sad to be going off on a trip to see family next week. I'm going to miss so much. Im especially looking forward to watching this beauty of our neighbors get decked out in summer finery:
And of couse Ive got more planting to come...

A post about discipline (part 2)

Its a good thing I split this up into two posts because once I got going this ended up being very long.

Earlier today, though, I wrote that I blame myself when I discipline Zeke because I know it could have been avoided had I set him up better to succeed. Josh finds fault with that statement and to a point he is right. I'll agree that I do tend, as a person, to blame myself for just about everything. And it's important to remember that you cant control your child's behavior. They are not always going to behave, and in fact misbehavior and dealing with the consequences are an important part of development.

Its also bee pointed out to me by a few readers that discipline and punishment are two different things, though I was using them interchangeably. Point well taken.

Here are the tips I was speaking of, however, on setting your kids up to have good behavior. I suppose you can consider them a form of discipline themselves.

THINK AHEAD
I know I harp on this an awful lot but keep in mind your child's rhythm when you plan your day. Is he always cranky in the late afternoon? Then maybe go grocery shopping in the morning when he is more likely to behave. Is your child going to get hungry or tired while you are out? None of us are our best when our blood sugar is low or we are exhausted, don't let it happen! Working around a child's schedule isn't always fun or easy but it WILL make your day a whole lot easier.

Don't underestimate the powers of a well-packed bag, either. Bring that emergency snack. Or that emergency change of clothes if your child might get wet at the park and then cranky at all the errands he has to run in damp clothing afterward. Bring quiet activities for them to do if you want them to be quiet in a waiting room.

If you think your child isn't going to be able to share that certain favorite toy, then put it away before friends come over. If its going to take a half hour to get ready to go, then reserve a half hour. If there is a gorgeous vase at your mom's house that you just know your baby wont be able to resist then ask if it can be moved higher while you are there. If there is going to be a lot of walking, bring a stroller. So soo many situations can be avoided by proper planning.

MAKE EXPECTATIONS AGE-APPROPRIATE
Make sure your expectations are appropriate for the child's maturity level. Most two year olds are not going to be able to sit quietly in church, no matter how many quiet activities you bring, so don't expect them to. Put them in the nursery or put up with a small amount of babbling. They aren't going to resist that vase of grandmas. They aren't going to be able to remember from one day to the next not to jump off the coffee table. They aren't going to be able to hold your hand and walk with you all over the mall. Their little arms get numb after all!

That doesn't mean you cant be teaching all of those things. Of course you don't just LET them jump off the coffee table! You should be teaching your child correct behavior after all, its your job. You just have to be prepared to remind them over and over again, and you might have to accept that many lessons are best avoided for now and taught later when they are ready for them.

REDIRECT, REDIRECT, REDIRECT
The 4 toddler lifesavers: Redirection, distraction, substitution, and childproofing. Ain't nothing wrong with them! We don't childproof much around here. I don't own anything that I'd cry to have broken, don't keep toxic products outside the basement, and don't mind (usually) my Tupperware spread all over the house. You might, though, so I include it. And redirection, distraction, and substitution? Don't know how I would get along without them! Josh call is bribery but I just consider it positive thinking!!

Redirection/Substitution: It is just so much easier to say "no, you cant do/have that" when you can follow it right up with "but you can do/have this". If your child is getting into breakable or dangerous kitchen-ware, provide a drawer that they CAN get into. If ripping up books, give them a newspaper to rip.

You will probably have to get up, physically move the child away from the “bad” activity, and physically introduce the “good” activity. Successful parenting can rarely be done from a couch cushion, unfortunately.

Distraction: Anything from plain old, “look at this over here!” to the practice of couching bad news with good as in, “We have to clean up, then its time for nap!” (if you child is like mine and loves napping, of course) or “We have to leave the park now, but you have a snack in the car!”

FOSTER A SENSE OF TRUST
Its all about consistency. If the rule is no jumping off the coffee table, then the rule always has to be no jumping off the coffee table. And if you say you are going to leave McDonalds if they push their brother one more time, you are unfortunately going to have to leave McDonalds when they do it.

Children are busy learning about the world and they need boundaries that they can trust to be the same, everyday, every time. And they also need to be able to trust your word. So be careful to not make rules or punishments that you aren't willing to enforce.

BE AN EXAMPLE
The easiest way to teach a behavior? Do it yourself. If you start cleaning up toys a child can hardly help but join along. If you take your shoes off and put them carefully by the front door, you will soon find your toddler doing the same. If you want your child to use gentler words, watch the way that you are speaking, they picked it up somewhere after all!

MAKE IT A GAME
While none of us have the patience to make everything into a game, it can be a lifesaver when you DO have the patience. I read the blog of one mom, for example, that has a song for every transition. She has a breakfast time song and a clean-up song, a put your shoes on song, and a bed time song. Her kids love it, and I'm sure mine would too if I could only get over the fact that I am not, nor do I want to be, Mary Poppins.

But when walking that last tired bit to the car and I cant pick Zeke up sometimes we take giant steps and then hopping bunny steps and then tiny teeny steps. When picking up all those legos we are racing to see who can pick up the most or throwing them in the bucket from across the room.

I am regularly finding amazing and breath-of-fresh-air parenting advice on TheParentingPassageway.com. I highly recommend this website. She has a wonderful Gently Discipline Tab at the top of her main page, and a great series on what to expect at each age that you can search for. Id also love your thoughts on this post, do you have tricks up your parenting sleeve as well?

a post about discipline

A note before I begin: I am talking about MY son and MY family here. Your child and your family may be different, in fact, they most likely are. Nothing frusterates me more then when I write something about how I raise Zeke and then someone reads it and gets all insulted because that's not the way they raise their child. We all raise our kids differently! As well we should because all of our kids are different! Not to mention all of our beliefs, personalities, family situations, ect. Go ahead and take what resonates with you, if you find something that does. If not, then just ignore it and go on as you were.

I very very very rarely discipline Ezekiel. Partly because I just dont know how. Time-outs, my favorite option, are far too tramatizing for him. There is just a point with small children where the punishment is so emotional that it overrides any actual lesson. All they can remember is the punishment, and not what they did to recieve it. Time-outs are like that with Zeke. Physical seperation from me is so overwhelming for him that he panics and it can take hours to calm him down.

There is also the "go in the corner" type time out, where they are in the same room as you, I suppose. But I've actually never understood how you get this to work without either punishing them for not doing their punishment correctly (what a rabbit hole) or physically restraining them, which just seems like a wrestling match when you consider my kid is well over 30 pounds now. I've seen the super nanny, back in my TV days, place a child in a chair over and over and over again while he screams bloody murder but 1. I have two children and no time for this and 2. I'm afraid it becomes more a battle of wills then a lesson. Useful with those super nanny kids, perhaps, for whom the lesson IS a battle of wills or for kids that will do it for some magical reason.

And while I believe in spanking, and do spank on occasion, I only reserve it for the very worst offences. Dangerous things, like running away from me in a parking lot. Or after I've tried everything else possible and he is still outright disobeying. Not day to day teaching, Zeke probably only gets spanked once every few months.

And I will stop here to note that there is a BIG difference between hitting and spanking. Dont tell me there isnt. I am in no way supporting hitting. Spanking is controlled, it's forwarned. There is always a level of "You cant do this because such and such, if you do it again you are going to be spanked" and then 2 seconds later (not days later or even hours later, children have no long term memory) "And now you are going to be spanked because so and so." I would never, say, catch up to Zeke in a parking lot and then bend over and whack him one. I get so irritated with people that do that and call it spanking, it makes the rest of us look bad. If you are angry, if you are out of control, then you need to take a moment and parent yourself a bit before you move onto your child.

And since I'm already on my soapbox I'll also mention that I'm also not fond of the whole "do it back" method. Biting a child that bit you, or pulling his hair because he pulled yours, breaking his toy because he broke your vase. I just kind of feel like someone has to be the adult.

So, as you can see, I'm a little light on punishment options.

Fortunately I also don't discipline Zeke much because I just dont find I have to. I would even go so far as to say that when I DO discipline Zeke I see it as a failing in myself. Because I know it could have been avoided had I set him up to suceed. In almost every situation where I punish Zeke I can pinpoint something I could have done instead. Which is unfortunately going to have to be the point of a post I'm going to write later, since I see that my kids need me right now. :)

Relatedly, Ezekiel has finally stopped throwing up. Or at least its been a bit over 12 hours now and he's switched from pathetic to demanding. When I stop feeling bad for him, I usually take it as a good sign.

Hippie Fail

This weekend was a weekend of hippie-values faildom. Don't get me wrong. I fail at my own hippie values all the time. We eat out 2 or 3 (ok even 4) times a month, and one of those times is always the fast food that I supposedly have given up. I never find the time to hang-dry clothing. I always end up buying most of our bread products. Hang drying clothes in the warmer months and making all my own breads are both goals that I re-start over and over again to no avail. I don't cloth diaper, I don't eat local or organic; I haven't even really tried on either of those. Even though I've given up Walmart for years now, despite moving within a mile of one, I quite often buy things big-box that I could probably get local, and new that I could probably get used. I talk big about homeopathic and herbal remedies but when I get allergies I scoff at the local honey I bought and run to my drugs disappointingly fast. (although I will say local honey is doing wonders for Zekes, much less severe, allergies)

I am only actually good at 2 things. I have succeeded in switching all my cleaners to home-made, non-toxic, earth friendly ones. And I recycle, re-use, compost, and donate like mad; we can still use the small garbage can despite 2 kids in diapers.

But then weekends like this weekend happen. Let me set the stage:

Its 2am. I am sleeping, quite peacefully. So is Josh. So is Mal. I am assuming so is Zeke.

But then into our room he stumbles.

No one wakes up.

And into our bed he climbs.

No one wakes up.

And then he throws up all over Josh. (Reason #345 that I chose the far side of the bed)

We clean it up, we calm him down.

Repeat every 20 minutes ALL NIGHT LONG.

Zekey continued to throw up all day Saturday, though he did slow down to every hour or so and then every few hours. And of course on Saturday our new pastor comes to visit us. "Hello, welcome to my filthy home, I swear its usually quite neat and doesn't smell like vomit."

Today Zeke only threw up when he begged to eat things he really shouldn't have. But of course now Josh has started.

So hippie fail #1: Zeke has watched the entire first two seasons of Blues Clues and 3 Veggie Tale movies (Jonah, An Easter Carol, and Pistachio) in the last 2 days. I don't even want to add up how many hours that is. Let's just say we've proved that our Netflix subscription is well worth the money just for the "Watch it Now" feature, even though we sometimes keep our disc for a month at a time.

Hippie fail #2: Screw home-made cleaners. I just spent the last 2 hours since Zeke went to bed with Mal in the ring sling, using bleach wipes on every hard surface I can get my hands on and using the heavy-duty Resolve on every soft one.

I've also done about 4,3o5 loads of laundry. None hung dry.

I will be a better person when I have children that can control their vomit.

Also, this experience is making me re-realize how very lucky and how very very thankful I am for a husband that truly co-parents. We have an old-fashioned "man-is-head-of-the-household" marriage. Partly because of our chosen roles as bread-winner and home-maker; and partly because that is what we prefer and think works best for us. I wont get into that because its a can of worms for many many people.

But in no way is Josh the cliche absent father that our rather old-fashioned marriage brings to mind. He has always changed diapers and rocked babies and been right there with me in all things parenting. He spends nights awake with cranky or sick kids just as often as I do (and probably even more), he has been an endless support in my breastfeeding and co-sleeping, the support that has allowed me to keep those practices up as long and successfully as I have. His sadness at Zeke's newly acquired skill of putting himself to bed without cuddling or rocking is touching to see.

So here is props to my husband. Still the best father out there.

Finding Myself

Baby feet are about my favorite thing ever.

Especially this ones' feet.

video
This video is about a week old now. Zeke wanted me to take a picture of him doing a somersault but I think saying "go" confused him, lol.

Anyways, now that the grandmas are satisfied. Quite suddenly I am finding that at some point over the last few months I found my footing. I thought the addition of another child in our lives would just throw me more off balance but somehow having Mal has actually steadied me. For the first time in two years, hell, maybe for the first time ever, I know exactly who I am. I've found myself.

I feel like maybe I've got this motherhood thing down. I mean, I am still growing, I am still learning; my kids will always have the ability to stretch me, to bewilder me, to challenge me. But I'm not ALWAYS the mom at the playdate with the questions. Sometimes, just sometimes, I am the mom with an answer. Breastfeeding, baby-wearing...there are all subjects that I've quite mastered. I dont doubt myself so much anymore, I dont feel the need to scrutinize Mals achievements, or his sleeping habits, I dont feel the need for constant approval. I believe in myself as a mother and I actually think that I have a better answer then everyone else when it comes to my own kids.

And not only am I finding myself as "mother" but I'm finding MYSELF. When I had Zeke I lost a lot of me. It always happens; it has to happen, up to a point. Children are all-encompassing, especially for a stay at home mom. And no matter how I tried to keep up with politics and news and freinds and my own interests, you just dont have the time for it. But more and more I'm picking up my old self. Im renewing my interests in music, actually finding new bands I enjoy. I'm reading and studying challenging books again. Not parenting books, not my old familiar standbys, not the latest big hits...but the classics of literature that I used to enjoy and study. The Brothers Karamazov, Shogun, books I've been putting off because I'm "just too tired". Im renewing my old love of thrifting, I never gave up great shoes but I'm starting to go back to searching for hours upon hours for that perfect eclectic dress, that unforgettable jacket. Walking into Salvation Army gave me some serious high school flashbacks. I'm being creative again, I'm gardening, I'm singing.

Suddenly I feel like this balancing act; this Mother, Wife, Lover, Friend, Christian, Artist, Activist, Blogger, Reader, Gardener, Singer, ect, ect, balancing act of everything I am isnt quite so hard anymore. They are finally coming together to create a person that knows who she is.

Maybe its just because I'm 24 now, almost 24 and a half, and I'm actually beginning to be an adult.

But it feels nice.

Tuesdays are Cursed


LAST Tuesday I fractured a bone on the top of my foot. Or at least we think I fractured it. Maybe it was just the worst sprain ever. I never went to the ER to get x-rays because I figured the only thing worse then taking both kids with me to the hospital was waiting until Josh got home, having dinner, and then spending my evening by myself at the hospital. Plus I figure what were they really going to do? Either wrap it up in ace bandage and send me home or cast it and give me a crutch I was going to completely ignore. Because lets face it, a woman with two children (one of them in arms) does not have the time or the free arm for a crutch.

HOW I injured my foot I wont go into. Because its rather embarrassing and also my grandparents read this blog. Lets just say it was nighttime and the kids were asleep ok?

But I wrapped it in Ace bandage myself, took a ton of Ibuprofin, stayed home and off my feet (as much as possible) for a few days, and switched cold and heat packs to take down the swelling. Also I made Josh change the cat litter, a chore that I find every excuse to be unable to do. (Excuses he finds legitimate so far? I got 2 weeks for childbirth and 2 days for a broken foot.) THIS Tuesday I was able to walk on it without limping and it just looked like a really nasty bruise, leading me to assume I made the right choice.

But I still got to experience taking both boys to the hospital with me.

Because Zeke chose this Tuesday to get impatient with my slow tea preparation and serve himself. Resulting in boiling water spilled down his front. Resulting in a burn so bad that I got all 3 of us out the door and AT the ER within 10 minutes.

The ER doctor told us it was a "3rd degree thermal burn covering 2% of his body", that he would be scarred for life, need codeine for the next few days for pain, but that we "probably wont have to be sent to a burn unit." Causing me to immediately burst into tears. This was probably my 3rd or 4th time bursting into tears. I am pretty sure I cried more over this experience then Zekey did, seeing as a half hour after arriving at the hospital he was in possession of a new stuffed toy, a half dozen stickers, juice, and a Popsicle and cracking all the nurses up with his jumping and spinning "tricks".

My pediatrician came over today to look at it and make sure it was beginning the healing process properly though and told me it was definitely a 2nd degree burn, that she would be extremely surprised if it scarred very bad, and that he looked perfectly comfortable and would probably remain so except for a bit of itching. She DID say he would most likely appreciate it if we skipped baths until it was healed but mostly seemed concerned for how I was holding up and told me to not beat myself up over it because these things happen even with the most watchful parents and kids are so resilient.

I like my pediatrician better than the ER doctor.

Also, Tuesdays might be cursed.

A re-commitment

I woke up about an hour before the sun Easter morning in order to have the time to really reflect and meditate before the busy craziness of the holiday began. It was time well-spent and I considered (yet again) rising earlier on a daily basis. 5:30 isn't actually THAT horrible, when you come to get to know it. But I decided (yet again) that I need my sleep. Exhaustion does things to my patience level very quickly, and if there is one thing I need to keep this family going, its patience. As precious and rare as real time to reflect and prepare for my day is, when you are breastfeeding all night long sleep is somehow still more so.

Lent this year has been a time of major growth for me. You always get out of an experience exactly what you put into it and yet again I have been reminded that if I was only as disciplined in my bible study and prayer all the time as I can be sometimes then perhaps I would be the kind of person that I've always wanted to be. And the realization that the best thing I can do as a mother is focus more on myself than on the virtues I need to instill in my children has been both astounding in its simplicity and annoying in its implications.

Many people do not know this, but before I decided to marry Josh I was planning on being a missionary. I was all signed up with YWAM to go off to first Vancouver, Canada and then to Vietnam to get a taste for both inner-city and international missions and decide which I was more interested in. I think a lot of people thought that marrying Josh instead was a cop-out, and being the least of the objections at the time, the assumption never actually bothered my much, but it really wasn't a cop-out. Missions was what I wanted to do, but not what God wanted me to do, I knew it from the beginning and when I finally let go of that dream I wasn't very happy about it. I've always kind of thought of Josh as my consolation prize for doing the right thing ;) And yes, 5 years later I still say it was the right thing.

I still also say, however, that for me at least, life traveling around as a missionary, poor as dirt, would have been worlds easier than submitting to someone day after day as a wife (even a someone as loving and patient as my husband) and the relative boredom and unimportance of motherhood. I am happy, deliriously happy, as only a person exactly where they should be can be. But this was the harder route, in many many ways. And one of the biggest ways is that a spiritual life is much easier to live when you are more "outside" of the world.

Well He has risen and now we have 40 or some odd days until Ascension. The gravity of Lent has always been easier for me than the joyfulness of ascension. But joyful I will be. Recommiting myself to the roles I have been given. Wife. Mother. Christian. Friend. Commiting myself to fostering in my own heart and habits the values and virtues I want to exemplify to my sons. Remembering, though it seems vain to even say it, that Mary herself was only a wife, only a mother.

We took a lot of Easter pictures


We will start from the beginning. Friday Zeke and I bought a hat that neither of us could resist. For Easter. Or at least that's what we told Daddy. Upon coming home Zeke took off his pants, served himself some dried cranberries, and told me "cheese".
When I offered him a slice of cheddar he looked at me like he thought maybe I was an idiot. "cheese" he insisted pointing to his hat. He wanted his picture taken.
When I offered to put his pants back on for the picture he looked at me like now he KNEW I was an idiot.
He also thought the baby would like a picture with the hat.
But I convinced him he looked better without it.

Saturday Josh inadvertently dressed himself and Zeke in matching clothes.I took it as an excuse to get a good picture of the two of them.
But neither one would take me quite seriously.
We also got around to dying eggs on Saturday. I had at first planned to skip it this year. Well no, at FIRST I was going to use natural dyes. But I guess you have to boil the eggs in the dye forever, and patience is not a virtue my child has. THEN I decided to skip it. Because an obsessive compulsive neat freak, a 1 year old, and cups of vinegar dye that you are SUPPOSED to be dropping things into do not go well together.
But then I found a dying method that might work for us.
You just pour the dye into baggies.
And squish away.


And voila!
Zeke was impressed, although he wanted to make them ALL yellow. I probably should have let him...but I didnt.
Malachi didnt dye eggs.
But I still took photos.
Then the boys went to bed and I stayed up past my bedtime "hiding" eggs in various obvious locations around the house in the name of the Easter bunny.
And finishing up the last touches on these guys.
And setting up their baskets. The eggs were the Easter Bunnie's offering in trade of baskets full of peeps, raisins, crayons, the hidden eggs, and a new binkie, but no plastic grass (remember the OC neat freak?). Oh and also the toy that they'd seen me making all week... Ok, maybe there were some loopholes in the story.

It was worth it in the morning, though. Zeke was so excited to find his eggs!At first he gave all the eggs he found to "brudda".

But then he realized that they had candy in them.
And he opened each one, took a single candy, put it on the couch, and jumped around in circles.
.
video

Then we went to church. It was only about as bad as it always is. Mal cried so I missed the first 20 minutes. Zeke played with matchbox cars really really loudly under our pew, making everyone around us laugh. "bvvvvv bvvvvv beep beep, bye!" Josh and I swore that next week we would really really put him in the nursery...maybe both of them. About 100 old ladies called our family beautiful and Zeke got his cheeks pinched 2 times. Mal faked sleep to avoid a similar fate.
Then we came home to take really cute pictures.
This is sadly the best one I got of the two of them, I thought maybe it was the cold that was making Mal so crabby looking so we moved inside.

But by then, Zeke wasnt into it any longer. So I decided, you know, since this whole picture taking thing was working out so well for me, I might as well get a few of Mal to photoshop all nice for his "3 month" pictures.
Yeah...he remained fairly stony faces.
But I did like these two.


And then I forced Zeke to take one more...