I finally upgraded my blog to wordpress and a real URL. You can find me at PathsIHaveNotKnown.com now. I've put it off for months, if not years, in fear of losing my community of "followers" but finally bit the bullet and went thru with it. Please take the time to click thru and update your feed (if you have one). I truly appreciate it.
One of the few words Malachi regularly says is "hero." He will say "badguy" too, but mostly what I hear is "hero."
Heroes are a bit of a big deal hereabouts.
And in that annoying motherly way that I have fully embraced I am always trying to turn it around into some sort of lesson.
"Heroes fight bad guys like this!" Zeke will proclaim while he flips around the livingroom wildly, punching and kicking with a wild abandon, "Pow, Pkshaw!" Malachi, wanting to join in but also aware that he is much more stout and much less agile then his brother, crouches down and does a sort of tai bo punching the air in front of him bit.
I sneak in, "Yes, and heroes help people that are in trouble."
"Spiderman is a super hero." Zeke will suddenly announce in that way he has, full of knowledge, over his mac and cheese.
"Heroooo!" Mal will add for emphasis.
"You know who else is a hero?" I will attempt, "Daddy is a hero. He works hard every day at his job, and then he always comes home and helps us make dinner and take baths." But they are already sword fighting with their forks, ignoring me.
"Heroes are strong!" Zeke will yell, jumping off the couch in a superman pose.
"They are strong, and they are also kind." I will helpfully add.
But he just ignores me, "Momma, be the princess and I will kiss you and wake you up." And I lay back on the couch while the boys take turns fighting the dragon and bestowing a kiss to break my spell-sleep.
In the end I mostly gave up. The image of the hero that's been built by the Disney movies we let them watch, the old school video games they play with Josh, the fairy tales I read, and the comic book figurines and posters we are culturally surrounded by is just too strong for one momma to overthrow.
But the other day I heard Malachi's voice, "Heroooo!"
And Zeke came bounding into the bathroom, "I'm a hero! I can help you!"
...maybe that image can be nudged a bit after all.
Two heroes who have dressed themselves to play in the rain. A hero always has a flashlight.
Over 6 years ago Josh and I drove a half hour into Idaho country fields to meet his old minister over coffee. Both the minister and the two of us had moved to different towns but he had still agreed to come back and marry us. This was the required talk-things-thru-and-get-advice-before-you-get-married meeting, and although it was a bit after-the-fact for us we still went.
What I remember most clearly was Kevin asking what things we fought over, what problems we had, and me admitting in the way that only a newlywed could that we mostly found ourselves at odds when each was pushing to give into the other's wishes.
His laugh was all grace as he told us that wouldn't last for long.
Last week we discovered that the last cupful of apple cider had gone bad. It had sat in the fridge untouched for a full two weeks while Josh and I both waited for the other to drink it.
I couldn't help but smile when Josh interrupted my shower to tell me how bad it smelled.
Six years and that still happens to us fairly often.
It's often hard, always being the youngest wife, the youngest mother. I get tired of the shock every year when people ask how long we've been married, the inevitable "How old are you?!" that comes after. Every. Time.
I'll admit I wonder. What it would have been like to be on my own. Not a daughter in my father's house, not a wife in my husbands house. Just me in my own house. My friends all have stories of things they did in college, places they went, adventures they had. I've had few adventures, gone few places, and all the ones I have were as a couple. I don't have any stories that don't include Josh.
But there's a comfort to it as well. Six years. It's a comfortable number, long enough that we've worked all the kinks out.
Well...except that pesky leaving things in the fridge for the other to enjoy...
Maybe when he said it wouldn't last long he was talking more like 10 years.
1. A friend, I cannot say a good friend, because she is more an acquaintance level friend, is having a very hard go of it right now. Or really for the past 3 years, honestly.
I knew a bit, but not the depth of it. Until Saturday.
And she has been very much in my thoughts and prayers since then. Why do we never reach out? Us mothers? Why do we never tell anyone when life gets a bit hard? Or really hard? Or near insufferable? Why do we never take care of ourselves?
2. The boys are playing outside in the rain, footie pajamas + rain boots + sweaters + hats + flashlights. It's adorable. When they come back in it will be all homemade cinnamon rolls and hot black tea (because my children love black tea and hate hot chocolate...because there is something wrong with them).
3. I spent some time this week figuring out the new Facebook. I hated it. I can see why they did it the way they did (although even THAT took an hour) but it wasn't serving my purpose very well.
Anyways, it ended up all for the better because it inspired me to really think about what my purpose on Facebook is...and to then reorganize it to better suit that.
Yesterday I finally implemented those "lists" everyone's been squawking about and yes, I think now I get it. My new plan now that I have my "close friend list" is to really only keep up with that. I decided the perimeters for being a "close friend" were A. that it was a relationship that I wanted to devote real time to fostering, and B. that the persons updates and links were positive to my life, not negative. It was surprising how often the two didn't meet and it took soul searching, and hard, hard deletions.
I tend to be addicted to friendships even when they aren't adding anything positive to my life. Facebook has, if anything, quadrupled the problem as its that much harder to let go. It isn't good for me, though, to have so many draining relationships, and so little time left over to spend on relationships that I wish were stronger.
Using the same "positive only" rule I even pared back my google reader subscriptions to 22! I'm so proud of myself.
Oh the time I'll have....
4. I hinted towards prayers and decisions to be made before. I can go so far as to say that Josh and I are looking for a new church (again, yet again). I cant say yet where we are moving... If you are the praying type keep us in yours. We're sick of being homeless.
5. I'm going to admit that life is just a bit hard right now. I'm a tiny bit down, and finding it difficult to get back up. It's the rain, and a slight cold, a bit of stress about deadlines and to-do lists mixed in, family drama. I'm trying to take care of myself- taking all the right pills, giving myself a little bit of a housework and parenting perfection break. But I'm also going to reach out a bit.
It's funny how a bout of the flu can freeze time. We've spent the morning cuddling, reading, singing, telling stories, and watching movies- all in our pajamas and with nary a care towards what time or day it is, and very little more towards the basket of towels that need to be folded or the dishes piled 3 feet high in the sink.
Cries of "Help! My poop is water and it's all over my chair!" aside, it has been rather nice.
I wish we could capture this kind of calm without the necessity of a sickness or snow storm. When did I forget the value of a day of rest?
Values. They are slippery beasts. You place them neatly in a row and then realize while you were distracted living they went ahead and re-ordered themselves into a new list. The ones that were meant for the top have slipped far enough down that you can't see them anymore and others that you placed very firmly at the bottom are apparently creeping upwards.
All of this is besides the point however, because what I really wanted to show off was my "new" kitchen table.
I spent a chunk of my labor day weekend painstakingly sanding our kitchen table and chairs down by hand (except the table top which got the electric sander treatment). It was just the kind of work I enjoy best, however, keeping me outdoors with hands busy and a mind free.
As I sanded bars and corners and seats and legs I prayed for the bums that would grace them. Now there is a value that I have placed very high on the list in my mind but tends to drop in the list that I'm living. I firmly believe in the power of prayer, and at least now I know that table is generously soaked in it. These are the things that matter.
The painting process required more concentration, and since it was performed late at night, in our garage, it made me a bit woozy besides. But when Josh had carried it back into the house I went over the entire surface with some wood wax, and another "protective coat" of prayer.
It struck me while I worked how very much of our lives revolve around this tiny room; how many of our conversations are held here. This in a very real way, could be called the center of our family; where at least some combination of us meet 3 or even 4 times every day. It's where we have our meals obviously, but its also where we entertain, where we home school, where we do crafts, its often my "desk" while I blog, or plan meals, or write thank you cards, or letters. It is most often where I read my bible.
I've never refurnished any furniture before, and honestly I'm not sure how long the paint will last. It may chip. I may regret that clean white after the 1,000th spill or 100th time it's been colored on or the 1,000,000th time I've wiped off handprints. But I cant say that I'll regret the time I spent working on it.
I find that I did a lot more then update the look.
This weekend marked the end of summer for our family. Last vacation over. Weather noticeably cooler. Preschool (at home) officially begun. Summer decorations boxed away and autumn decorations placed out. Storage containers of long pants and sweaters sitting in the bottom of the boys closet, waiting to be sorted.
We said goodbye/hello in high fashion, though. We spent the morning of Saturday at Greenbluff, picking nectarines and the first of the apples.
Then whiled the afternoon away with a visit from good friends.
(TV- the babysitters secret weapon)
Sunday morning was the usual rhythm of church, lunch, nap/dog park. But after that we went to enjoy the last day of the county fair. The boys seemed to each have a very distict goal for the evening. Zeke- to ride a horse.
Malachi- to touch as many animals as possible. But in particular a llama.
Its bittersweet as always. Fall is my favorite season but summer is oh-so-fun.
I'm post-vacation exhausted and I have a to-do list 4 miles long. Vacation-worthy laundry piles, trips to the library, the grocery store, and home depot (I need some furniture wax to finish our refinished table). At least half my list is phone calls, emails, and meetings for this event, which I'm planning.
I have another 4 mile list of blog posts rambling around in this head of mine. All unfinished. It's getting so noisy up in that noggin that I'm almost unable to even attempt to finish any one of them though, so I'm going to have to carve time to purge.
Zeke and I start preschool-at-home next week. We're doing a homegrown literature based curriculum two days a week and I'm scrambling today to put the finishing touches on our plans. I had at first thought we'd start with fairy tales but then decided Zeke isn't quiiite there. Maybe this winter? We're beginning with Going on A Bear Hunt, instead. A family favorite. Then transitioning into another bear classic, Blueberries for Sal.
How we will fit two mornings a week at home doing "school" on top of mindful mamas, weekly mobius, homeschool co-op, library story time, and regularly scheduled playdates is beyond me. I'm reassessing and reevaluating how we spend our days. Daily and weekly rhythms are ready for updates now that this is a distinctly baby-free zone and summer is fading fast. I'm afraid that its going to be mindful mamas that's cut, or at least dropped to a very low priority. In many ways we've outgrown the group but I've been going for over 3 years now. I've never been a mom without the mamas and its going to be scary to let go.
On top of that Josh has spent very serious time praying while I was gone and big changes may be coming for our family and the way we practice our faith. It's going to cause ripples in just about every direction if it does.
In two weeks I'll have been counting for a year. I had sort of hoped to reach 565 by the 565th day. That's not going to happen. In the last month especially I have lost the habit of counting. But I'm still chugging along. Re-commiting to joy, to finding the littlest moments of grace.
420. Homemade (and grown) pesto.
421. Driving with the music up way too loud.
422. Books you've read so many times they are like old friends.
423. Riding bicycles.
424. Weeks of work paying off.
426. The happy stompings of brand new tennis shoes.
427. Homemade pizza.
428. Sunset walks.
429. Water slides.
430. Instant friendships.
431. New family members.
434. The hottest day of the year.
435. Count downs.
436. Little boys with smeared lipstick demanding for a kiss.
437. Sweet tea with some extra "sweet".
438. Long long drives with never a hiccup.
439. Time to think.
440. Wrestling matches.
442. The majesty of God's creation. The drive from Spokane to Boise and vice versa is not the prettiest drive ever; I don't even take the prettiest route available. But any views of nature at all bring awe and worship.
Just for fun:
I kind of fell off the gardening update bandwagon and didn't even realize it until I sat down to write a different blog post. Sorry. I'll allow that other to further ferment and do my best to catch you up on what happened in the garden the last two months.
High summer never did arrive...or if it did it was only for two weeks at the very end of August...and the garden certainly felt it. Certain plants just never thrived the way they should have, :(. But all-in-all I am pretty happy with this, my second year gardening. I definitely learned some things to implement next year. We will take the tour round, bed by bed.
Bed 1, which housed my "spring produce" of lettuce, spinach, and peas died out in mid July. They all three produced amazingly well.
8 lettuce heads and 2 spinach heads, re-planted as they are pulled, was the perfect amount for our family. A steady and manageable over-flow. I was particularly pleased with the lettuce, as last year I found it kind of bitter and soft. Thru experimentation I found that a good watering right before harvest made my lettuce crisp and wonderful. Also, I think the cooler weather this spring helped :)
The peas we could have used more of. We harvested a small bowl nearly every morning and yet we could have used more. What can I say? My kids enjoy peas more then anything else out of the garden. Oh, yes, I had mentioned that I planted 30 peas at the beginning of April, and 30 at the end. In all honestly, it seemed like they produced equal amounts and at the same time. In the future I will probably just plant them all at once- at the end. Germination rates were much better with that planting, and it gives me more time to get all the beds in order.
I had planned on doing an August re-planting (for fall harvest) of all three, but alas never got around to it. Dare I admit the weather and limited success of the year has gotten me down? Instead I planted a ground cover and let the bed rest.
Bed 2 housed my green beans. I planted both bush and pole beans, and surprisingly (to me) the bush beans produced a lot better. I planted bush beans last year as well, and after being talked into it by many, many people decided to try pole as well...and I've got to admit that next year I'm going back to bush only :)
Some of that, I will admit, is just that I hate climbing plants...I can never find a cheap/easy to install/low maintanance/well functioning trellis system. Dangling yarn worked great for the peas...not so well for the beans (which are much heavier plants).
I was doubtful about fitting 9 bush bean plants per square foot (ala square foot gardening method) but I didn't notice the plants suffering any...although finding the beans was a bit of a jungle!
Bed 3 belonged to my corn.
Poor, poor corn. It looks very pretty but I'm not sure it will produce anything. We will see. Either way I think this will end my corn adventures. Its too cheap, too hard to get a harvest, and takes up too much space! I'm going to use this bed for potatoes next year. My current potato bed (as we will later discuss) is too shady.
Bed four is where I kept my tomato and carrots. The bad news is, while the cherry tomatoes are doing wonderfully (not that I've enjoyed many or even really had much of an idea of how many there are- the kids keep eating them!) my full tomato plants only have 1-2 small tomatoes per plant. Grr!! Tomatoes are Josh's fav garden food and after the wild success I had last year, this is really disheartening! I'm blaming the weather. My tomatoes got really really damaged from the cold early on and I dont think they ever recovered.
Next year I'm going to re purpose the green bean trellis into a makeshift hotbed (adding some clear plastic). No cold tomato plants allowed!!
The good news is the carrots did amazing!! All 120 of them ;) We've been picking a few for snack or dinner every few days since mid July and we've really just made a dent. They are good now, but after the first frost of the year they will be even better (if there are any left!)
Bed 5, the last but not least of the raised beds was the squash bed. 2 Zuchinni and 3 Winter Squash varieties. The zuchinni did ok...just ok, and its zuchinni! Like the easiest thing ever to grow!
The winter squash is a pretty utter failure. We have 1 between the 3 plants. Part of the problem was a major bug attack early in the summer...and this is the area where my green beans were kept last year (which where also attacked by bugs!!). Not sure what to do about that. The other part was the cold weather, I suspect. The kept growing huge gorgeous flowers that fell off :(
Oh well. I will try again next year, and probably squish a few more plants in. They are pretty spaced out and I realized that if they get too crowded I could always let the vines grow "out of the box" as it were. I want at least 3 zuchinni I think, and 4 winter squash...maybe 6...
In the fruit bed I had strawberries which produced pounds, and pounds, and pounds of neverending fruit. Honestly I got sick of strawberries and had to start giving them away because the yard smelled of jam from all the rotting berries left on the plant. My children wont even look a strawberry in the face, and its been a month. So yeah, that was successful.
The raspberries were in their first year so no fruit, but the look like they are doing well. We will see what happens next year. They still seem rather teeny to me.
The potato/onion bed was a last minute addition. And poorly chosen, because it only gets about 5 hours of sun a day. The onion never did survive that hail storm in June, they slowly died after that. The problem is that our roof dumped the hail right onto them :(
The potatoes look like they are doing well, above ground. They sprouted the most lovely little purple flowers. We will see soon how well they did below-ground. Hopefully well, because I want to see some purple pototoes!! Either way Im going to move them into a raised bed next year where the will get more sun.
And I think this previously-known-as-the-potato-and-onion bed will become a flower bed. There are plenty of partial sun flowers I can plant in there and Zeke's flower garden was a complete and total fail. I need to just accept the fact that that particular section of our yard is the "dirt box". I planted squash in it last year...which got trampled by a digging boy. And this year I planted flowers...which got trampled by 2 digging boys. They never stood a chance. If I want a cutting garden, its going to have to be on "my" territory.
As far as my corner herbs go, I hate to admit it but I almost never used them! Oops. I made pesto once with the basil, and salsa with fresh cilantro once, and fish with fresh dill once. I'm just not in the habit of having them I suppose...
They did look really pretty when I let them all flower :)
Malachi fell very comically off the pew during the sermon today and at least 15 people surrounding us laughed. I sighed.
I live in constant expectation of a letter, "Dear Mr. and Mrs. Clark, please go find another church to attend... preferably of another denomination." Either that or a shiny new plaque, "Most disruptive family of the year." Congratulations.
Church attendance for the last...oh 3 years, has been more of a survival exercise then anything else. I try, I really do. It's just that I always seem to have a baby that absolutely refuses to go into the nursery and all my attempts to keep him silent during the sermon somehow manage to be both completely futile and completely distracting. I can usually manage to gather about half of the message, while keeping him at a low airplane-take-off volume.
I'm sure no one around us is lucky enough to even hear that blessed half, not with Malachi throwing cheetos, pushing cars thru the isles, and yelling about the "fishy, fishy! FISHY!" on the wall. Oh and my personal favorite- motorboating my chest. Every Sunday I feel like passing a hand over my forehead,"phew, we made it thru on more service" and then going individually to every other person there and apologizing.
The situation is hilarious- I'm the first to admit it. But it's also disheartening. On the one hand, I know our church membership and they are endlessly forgiving and patient. I dare say they actually enjoy our kids antics. On the other hand, sometimes I wish I didn't have to be the one on Ash Wednesday with the kids running in wild circles while I attempt to sing. Sometimes I fail to see the virtue in ruining everyone else's experience.
Its the effort that counts right?
I hope so, because honestly this permeates thru so much of our spiritual life right now. The family prayers that Zeke repeatedly interrupts to inform us that we forgot to thank God for his fork, and Malachi forgets about completely halfway thru, stuffing his mouth with noodles and only remembering to fold his hands again for the yelled "amen!" The "quiet time" I take every afternoon to read my bible and pray...the one that's interrupted 4569 times. The one where I read about patience, and then quickly lose it when a fight breaks out.
Please tell me its the effort that counts.
Our new in-the-car routine goes something like this:
"I'm not allowed to kick people, right?"
"But I'm allowed to kick a bad guy, like if I saw a bad guy, and we were fighting, right?"
"My left hand makes an L, right?"
"There are red apples, and green apples, and pear apples, but only 1 a day, right?"
"But baby gets one too, so that means 2, right?"
"Excavators are too big to fit in our house, right?"
And honestly its been kind of fun. For one thing, I can barely listen, because all I have to do is wait for a pause and then say right. Anything else is unnecessary and frankly, unwanted. Beats the constant "why" game, which for the record, you can never win and often requires some mind-bending thinking. Not as nice as driving in blessed silence, or listening to the radio in peace but let's be honest, those were never possibilities anyways.
So now I get a glimpse of what exactly is going thru Zeke's brain every time we climb in the car. The things that have struck him, the things that he's pondering, the lessons he's remembered. And it's often hella interesting. And its often heartening to know how much he is paying attention, all too often I feel like the peanuts teacher- wah wah wah.
And every once in a while it makes me feel kind of bad.
"Mac goes to school, right?"
"and Xavia goes to school, right?"
"and Mckenzie goes to school, right?"
"And Preston goes to school, right?"
"Not yet, but he will start to go to school next week."
"And I will go to school next week too, right?"
"Uhh...no, you stay home with mommy and malachi."
And we've had variations of this conversation over, and over, and over again. We've talked about how some people go to school, and some people go to work, and some people stay home. We've talked about how Layla doesn't go to school either, or Noah. We've talked about how when you go to school you are by yourself, and mommies aren't allowed. But apparently none if it sets in- this kid wants to go to school.
Its not like I wasn't somewhat prepared that this conversation would happen. Sooner or later he would want to go to school, sooner or later the answer would be no. We are planning on homeschooling after all.
But I'll admit that I wasn't prepared for it now.
Honestly, homeschooling plans aside, Zeke wouldn't go to preschool this year anyways. We just plain cant afford it. It's too expensive. The one preschool co-op that I know of is semi-affordable at 50 dollars a month for two days a week. But honestly even that- with a 35 dollars a quarter, and another 35 registration fee tacked on feels a bit cost prohibitive.
Add to that its being a co-op- which means it requires that I volunteer one day a week- which means finding babysitting for Mal one day a week...its just not going to work.
And I'm still really not convinced that Zeke would enjoy it- he's blissfully looking over that whole "he'd have to go by himself" bit I think. But he thinks he would enjoy it. He sees this giant, mysterious, thing that everyone (seemingly) else gets to do and he doesn't get to do. And he thinks it would be wonderful.
And I'm not sure that he's wrong.
And I hate it.
Well, she's turning 1 in September. She's gone from this:
An I can now say that she was arguably the best decision we made last year. The vote is still out, but she's a definite contender for greatest dog ever.
That's not to say there haven't been challenges. Leash training this dog nearly killed me. I gave up several times before we finally figured out how to "heel". We also had to work thru teething, and the loss of several of the kids toys; digging, and the loss of several rows of my garden; house training, which definitely contributed to the loss of our carpets; and the over-all Aussie neediness and stubbornness.
But she's a year old now, and we are out of the puppy stage, we're even out of the even worse 7-9 month stage (the age at which most "owner surrenders" are taken to the pound- aka doggie teens). Things with Claudia this summer have been decidedly...wonderful.
She has become my true partner. Following me like a shadow, in true Aussie style. She knows all her basic commands, her "sit" and "stay" and "come" and "drop it". She waits her turn to go out the door, and heels on our nightly walk, stopping at every crosswalk and ignoring barking dogs. I can leave the front door open while I unload groceries and know that she wont wander off.
Better yet, I can send her into the front yard while the boys ride their bikes and trust her to bark every time they step into the road, or ride further then their allowance.
Aussies are famous for needing a job to be happy, and Claudia has certainly found her job. She's a stricter mommy then even I am, and tells the boys off every time they fight, and tattles ever time they are naughty. Zeke opened the back gate the other day and went into the alley- and I knew it within 10 seconds.
And dare I say it? We have enjoyed her so much that I've been keeping my eyes out this week for another dog. Because I will admit the one thing that Claudia could improve on is more ability to entertain herself, and more confidence when left alone.
I'm being picky. I want a dog, not a puppy. Something between 1-4.
It doesn't have to have impeccably trained, or even trained at all; but it does have to be well socialized- with kids, dogs, and cats. Because we have all of the above, and they are all too precious to me to risk anything.
We want it to be somewhere around Claudia's size. A small medium to medium sized dog, about 25-50 pounds.
Ideally we'd like another herding breed, or mix of herding breed. An aussie, or a collie, or a sheepdog. They have their downsides, and oh boy do we know them better then anyone. But they are downsides we are familiar with- and there is something to be said for that. And they are downsides I can deal with. I can take a dog that will constantly try to dominate, and requires constant attention- a dog that digs however...
So obviously we know that there are certain breeds we aren't interested in at all- no pit bulls, no huskies, no chows or labradors, no beagles or daschunds or for that matter any type of hound. No terriers. It's not necessarily that those are bad breeds, they just aren't a good fit for us. I know several lab owners, for example, that adore their dogs. Obviously that leaves quite a few breeds we are just plain unfamiliar with- spaniels for example. Or what to do when a breed we like is mixed with a breed we don't, a husky/collie for example. We will cross those bridges when it comes.
We'd prefer a male over a female. Because getting two dogs of opposite sex to get along is a lot easier then two dogs of the same.
We'd prefer it to be neutered, because it's expensive and we feel very, very, strongly that all dogs should be.
We need it to be cheap(ish), hopefully even from a rescue. We have financial and moral issues with paying 100's of dollars to a breeder for a family dog.
But mostly we are waiting to fall in love. It certainly worked last time.
For the past week, for the first time in their lives, my boys have been fighting. It feels like all day long, but in reality I know its probably only as much as all siblings fight...maybe even less.
It's just hit me hard because, like I said, they've never actually done this before. Since Mal's birth, they were always just two peas in a happy little pod. From the first, and honestly even in utero, they've just had this amazing connection. Like they were meant to be together. Truly in all ways a pair.
And now suddenly they fight.
And I suppose I'm just overreacting. My kids are together 24/7. They wake up within a half hour of each other, they eat all their meals together, they play together, they take their naps together, they watch cartoons together, they read books together, they go outside together, they go to bed together. Any special outing or art project or cooking that one gets to do, the other has a finger in. What relationship on this earth could ever withstand that kind of continuous company and not fight now and then?
And of course there's the oft repeated fact that its not how much you fight, but how you fight that matters. We've been working on the correct ways of fighting; and talking about how everyone needs to just be alone sometimes. We've been talking about how that is ok, and important to respect.
Whoever wants to be alone is usually the one that's best understanding it right now :)
I suppose I'm just taking it so seriously because their relationship is so important to me. Your siblings are the people that know you the longest, after all. Long before your spouses, long after your parents are gone.
To have a brother, is to have someone that's got your back for life.
I try to pray for my kids daily. I firmly believe that there is nothing, absolutely nothing, more powerful than I can do in their lives than to pray for them. And I pray for a lot of things; for virtues I want them to have, for sufferings I want them to be spared from. I pray that they would be true to themselves, and that they would be blessed, I pray for their future spouses, for their passions, for their careers. And increasingly since Mal has been born I've felt led to pray for their relationship with each other.
For their brotherhood.
I dont know if its important for them, or if it's just important.
But I do know this- they are a pair.
And I wont let them forget it.
"Mom! I'm hungry!"
And every inch of me freezes; I'm suspended in front of the refrigerator, door wide open and vegetables for dinner in hand.
And oh Lord, my Lord, when will it stop? When will they stop getting bigger? His growing pains have ceased for the time being, but mine...oh mine. I begin to wonder if this ache is permanent.
Malachi heard his brother as well and suddenly he's running to the front door.
Despite his mortification on the subject, Malachi is not allowed to play in the front yard by himself and was therefor pouting with me in the kitchen while Zeke raced back and forth on his bicycle. Even watching him thru the window is too painful.
I don't blame him. He always goes too fast- every time I glance out the window my breath catches in my throat and my arms lift as if to keep him from falling.
"Did you put your bike away?" I ask, as he settles himself heavily into a kitchen chair, little brother loyally following.
And I pretend to not notice the way he rolls his eyes as he answers, "It's in the garage, mom."
I pretend not to see his scabbed knees either, the tennis shoes suddenly huge in size 10, the way he's outgrowing his t-shirt (yet again), they way he needs another haircut, they way he relaxes his thin frame against the back of the chair.
And I chop zucchini, if only to keep my hands busy. If only to keep from running over and picking him up and rocking him like the baby that he isn't anymore. I can still pick him up, after all. Who knows how much longer until I cant?
2 pounds of oatmeal...on the floor.
I've sent my kids into the backyard and informed them they aren't allowed in the house anymore.
"Mommy, we don't even have a baby in this house anymore." Zeke tells me disdainfully when I sit in the rocking chair and announce I need a baby. Maybe it's something they discussed privately because Malachi, who usually runs to me all open arms at this oft-repeated pronouncement, just briefly looks up before going back to his book.
"Maybe Claudia can be your baby." is my eldest's only comfort before he runs to his brother and solemnly hands him a plastic tyrannosaurus. His brontosaurus swings it's tail to whack Mal's T-Rex and Mal gives out a great roar. We all know the brontosaurus will win, they always do. It comes from watching too much Land Before Time, if you ask me.
I just sit in silence. Claudia, who heard her name, comes padding up and gives me a quizzical look and I feel like the classic Dr Seuss in reverse..."Are you my baby?" But when she realizes no one is offering up treats or petting even she wanders off. So much for the loyalty of dogs.
Malachi's arm reaches back and he absently scratches at his curls. Watching the motion it hits me that I should have seen this coming. Since when has he moved with such ease? When exactly did he grow up?
He hasn't nursed in a week.
Weaning at 19 months is no shock, and he's been slowly breastfeeding less and less all summer, but still- I was surprised. I can't even remember our last time.
Maybe it's the finality of it that's bothering me so much. The end of babyhood and now suddenly I have two toddlers. Or, to be more honest a toddler and a preschooler. Oh my.
I'm keeping myself busy to distract from the sheer insanity of it. No babies. I am both thrilled and dejected.
I'm lost and I'm found.
While I am so so thankful for the parks that dot pretty much every mile of this city, with their metal climbing structures and plastic slides- I have to admit that sometimes it's nice to go to a park without them. While the playgrounds get safer, my boys find no end of physical challenges while climbing trees.
The shade of a willow becomes our house, and an impromptu reenactment of The Three Little Pigs is begun. Sticks become swords and battles are fought.
Small streams become raging rivers. Bushes become hidden caves. Flowers are suddenly secret islands full of treasure.
Every rock is a mountain.
Just waiting to be conquered.
There is always a shady spot, to enjoy an apple and a laugh.
And we come home a few hours later exhausted, and full of adventure, and full of thanks.
Dor bubbling streams (#413), for the wonders of a weeping willow (#414), for stick-swords(#415), and rock-mountains(#416). For living in a city were all of this is just 15 minutes away (#417). For climbing trees (#418), for boys who see trees and bushes and rocks as so soo much more (#419).
And for a lot of other things as well.
Because I'm still finding the hidden grace, and counting 1,000 ways I am blessed. 1,000 things to be thankful for; 1,000 ways I am loved every moment by Love Himself.
400. Strawberry lemonade.
401. Kiddie pools warmed in the sun.
402. Crazy water toys.
403. Homemade strawberry icecream.
404. Dates with my son.
405. Strawberry, raspberry, blueberry cobbler.
406. The "problem" of using up pounds and pounds of homegrown berries.
407. Summer rain.
408. Movie theatres.
409. Giant yellow squash flowers.
410. Green eyes.
411. Curly whirly baby hair.
412. A job for Josh.