March Garden Update (A whole lotta prep)

I've decided to do a garden update on the last of every month this year. Or rather this gardening year. So April-October...and also lets add- or rather near the last of every month.

I've got 2 kids sick with the fever plague of '11 right now and a calender chock full of things that I'm slowly crossing off so I'm hesitant to make any real commitments right now.

But to commence.

It's April and I can legitimately garden now!!!

Last month (or rather over the last 2 months) I:

Built and filled raised Beds. Or rather, Josh did. It threw my old graph and plans for a small loop but I am very excited and everything transferred over to the new layout really easily. I wont be able to trench compost anymore, and haven't quite figured out my new composting plan yet...I think maybe in a garbage can?

Planned my garden. I researched what I wanted and how much I wanted to plant. And then I slowly figured out what I could realistically fit, and where everything will go, keeping in mind companionate planting and crop rotations. I used the 30 day trial at and found it super helpful. It has settings for traditional row planting as well as square foot gardening, which is nice because I'm using a hodgepodge of both techniques. It aided me in making the following graph, as well as a few first-drafty graphs before it:
Bought my seeds. Or at least most of my seeds. I tried to find tolerant, fast maturing varieties, because I am a bad gardener and our summers are short. I'm starting everything from seed directly outside this year because I don't have patience or space or talent for starting indoors, so fast-maturing is especially important, as I'm losing a few weeks. For my tomatoes I will purchase starts.

Made a graph
of what, how much, where, and when I'm planting everything that I'm planting. I also made more in-depth index cards for each thing I'm planting, with growing tips, and space to take notes as the year goes.

Planted Raspberries.
Four of them :)

Did a soil test. Our soil is surprisingly good, but completely depleted in nitrate. Good to know.

Started to clear a potato patch, and build a rock garden. I considered potatoes in a can but after research decided against. I just cant find anyone that has actually had luck with this method. Instead I am battling roots to clear a space next to our soon-to-be rock garden.
And raked Zeke's Garden.

This month I want to:
- Research and decide on a composting method.
- Buy last of the seeds (potato, lettuce, herbs).
- Decide if herbs are going in my window planters or in the veg. garden border.
- Finish digging up all the roots in the potato patch.
- Buy and apply compost and an organic nitrogen source yet to be decided on to the garden beds.
- Build trellis' for the peas.
- Plant: carrots, peas, lettuce, spinach (raised beds), potatoes (pot. patch), marigolds (raised bed border), and wildflowers (zeke's garden).
- Maybe start herbs indoors. Maybe.
- Work on rock garden. Maybe.


Don't you hate eating your own words?

Uhg. I hate those moments where one year (or day) you say you would "never" such and such and then the next year (or day) you are ashamedly doing it. Parenting makes you have a lot of those moments.

And yes, I just smacked my kid.

I have always been a big arguer against the hit-kids-for-hitting, and bite-kids-for-biting method of parenting. Someone has to be the adult in the situation, after all. And I am very very aware of the fact that I've got officer Zeke (as we have begun to call him) watching me and the way that I interact with others...copying those interactions step by step, and also sometimes informing me that I am being rude.

But you see, Malachi is a biter. Not, Malachi bit me once, or he is going thru a biting stage. He is a biter. He always has been. He bites me when he wants to nurse (despite the fact that this has never ever resulted in nursing...6 months later it is still his cue that he wants to nurse), he bites me when he is nursing and my milk runs out before he is done. He bites me when he thinks I am ignoring him and he bites me when he is jealous of his brother. Sometimes he also bites me for no apparent reason at all- I am assuming his teeth hurt?

I have tried everything. EVERYTHING. I have been positively militant about the biting never resulting in what he wants it to. If he's biting to nurse I say "no biting" and make sure he waits a looong while before nursing. If he's biting for attention I tell him "no biting" and then leave him alone in the room. I've tried yelling "Ow!" and he thought it was hilarious. I've tried giving him really really mean looks, looks that are sure to bring Zeke to tears, and he just makes the look back at me- and then smiles. I've tried time-ins, I've tried time-outs. I've tried showing him better uses for his mouth, like kissing, and better ways of asking to nurse or getting attention. I have praised him to the moon when he does those things instead of biting. All to no avail. He bites me 2-20 times a day. He has every day for the last 6 months.

Then he started biting Josh. And then the dog. He loves the way she yelps, apparently. And then he started biting his brother- who is not taking it very well, I am here to assure you.

The only living beings safe from Malachi biting, I have found, are the cats. Ziggy because he is not nearly stupid enough to go near Mal, and Mony because the first time Mal bit her she scratched him across the face.

He didn't like that.

And I've decided that now that he is sometimes drawing blood (yes, drawing blood), and his relationship with his brother is on the rocks, and he is sure to soon be the local toddler Parana...well something had to be done.

And reader...

Last time Malachi bit me I smacked him in the mouth.

Not hard. But hard enough.

And you know what? Its been 3 days and he hasn't bit me again.


"Are you having any more?" she asks. Baby on her lap, baby on mine. It's small talk, but lovingly asked. I open my mouth to answer but pause...

Why does that question have to be so complicated?

I can't very well say, "Well, I want another, even another a pair. Our family, so very full, still seems incomplete. And every time I see a swelling belly like yours I get weak in the knees and teary in the eyes and my own flat (ish) stomach seems desolate. But you see, I have 3 more already, that you don't see here. That I don't see, or ever see, but I feel them. And I'm terrified. Pure terrified to add to the children that I don't see, and not to the children that I see. It keeps me up at night, that fear. Just as much as the longing for another baby keeps me up, especially on those days that Mal pushes me away and runs off. And then there is the fact that I haven't been able to count on a good nights sleep in over 3 years now. I haven't been able to call my body fully mine for over 3 years, pregnancy following breastfeeding following another pregnancy like I've had. And to tell you the truth, I would like to drink. And sleep. And go running, for sometimes hours, and not have my lungs taxed by a uterus grown heavy or breasts tight and uncomfortable with milk. I just hit my pre-baby weight last week. 14 months later. It was hard work and I want to revel in it a bit before I swell out again. But that swell is so lovely, isn't it? That moment you know you are in labor so incomparable to any other. And that newborn smell. You smell the dont you? Doesn't everybody?"

So I say, "Yes." but it doesn't ring true. Or I say, "Not this year." but that wasn't the question, was it? Would "maybe" be a better answer? "God willing" seems so dramatic.


I'm filling out a questionnaire form for my Listen To Your Mother introduction, trying to answer questions like What is one thing people dont know about you? and What is your personal motto? both cleverly and honestly, in a way that really represents who I am.

I think I'm overthinking this.


Malachi is going thru Arnica like nobody's business and just might get me turned into CPS one of these days.

Still counting...

268. Rushing thru the pages of a book only to put it down at the end and wish you had savored it a bit more.

269. That moment a friend becomes family.

270. The quiet of Lent- just enough darkness to see the stars.

271. Gypsy cold care tea.

272. Honey.

273. The way Malachi roars while holding a giraffe in my face.

274. Google images.

275. All the phrases Zeke picks up from Winnie the Poo on CD.

276. Soft baby skin.

277. The weight of a head on your shoulder.

278. Getting out all the ingredients for a salad, considering, and then making nachos instead.

279. Nacho cheese sauce.

280. Our annual Lowe's date night.

281. Fancy chandeliers.

282. Romantic reminiscing.

283. Atonement.

284. Arnica.

285. Finally reaching pre-baby weight. Even if it did take over a year.

286. Birthday parties.

287. Silly play sunglasses.

288. Watching the thanks of my friends built up on Facebook. A revolution of joy.

289. New Board Games.

290. Dancing to ABBA with my boys.

291. That our 4 newly planted raspberry "sticks" can remind Josh of his grandmother's raspberry patch as a child.

292. Buying life jackets in March in the hope of June fun.

Spec in someone else's eye anyone?

We are hitting a stage with Zeke where I find myself saying, "Don't worry about what your brother is doing, just worry about yourself." a lot. And I mean a lot. As in every 15 minutes or so. A common shorter variation is, "Zeke, you are not the boss. I am the boss and I am in charge of Malachi."

Or my personal favorite: "Don't tell me what Malachi did, tell me what you did."

It's funny how that one can take all the wind out of your complaint.

"Malachi hit me!"

"Don't tell me what Mal did, tell me what you did."


"Why did Mal hit you, Zeke?"

"...I took his rhino."

These are all phrases that I swore I would never EVER use against my own children when I was a child. Because my mom said them. Often. And I hated it. Oh I remember my irritation, after my sister would hoard all the Barbie shoes. There was no point telling on her because the only thing my mom would be interested in is the fact that I pulled her hair afterward. The injustice of it! When I was grown I wouldn't ignore the real issue. I wouldn't get so hung up on details like why and what happened after that. I would get right to the root of the problem- the other person.

Now that I am grown I realize that my mother wasn't ignoring the issue. She was just taking it firmly out of my hands. I probably understood this even at the time on some level, but it didn't seem like much of a lesser offense. I would surely have handled it better than her because after all, she obviously wasn't grasping the true story (aka MY story).

I'm sure Zeke feels much the same way when he runs into the room yelling, "Malachi has the BBQ sauce!!!" and I calmly tell him to not worry about his brother so much and focus on himself. I am absolutely aware that he doesn't think I am grasping the full gravity of the situation when I ask him who, pray tell, opened the fridge in the first place and allowed Malachi to get into the BBQ sauce.

Because, the thing is, he isn't around when I take the bottle away from Malachi. And he isn't aware of the intricacies of Mal's understanding of the rules, or even the different rules all together that apply for Malachi. He only knows that he sees wrong. Other's wrong. And stop talking about my little wrong for goodness sake when there is that much bigger wrong going on over there! Yes I took his rhino but never mind that, he hit me!

But just think how much better a world this would be if we all followed my household rule?

Don't worry about what they are doing. Worry about what you are doing. Don't tell me what they did. What did you do?

I am fairly confident that upon death these are exactly the questions that will be put to us. That in prayer, these are the daily questions put to us.

The Lord said these things often, after all.

Ash Wednesday

Most holy and merciful Father,
I confess to You and to the whole communion of saints in heaven and on earth,
that I have sinned by my own fault, in thought, word, and deed;
by what I have done, and by what I have left undone.

I have not loved You with my whole heart, and mind, and strength.
I have not loved my neighbor as myself.
I have not forgiven others, as I have been forgiven.
Have mercy on me, Lord.

I have been deaf to Your call to serve, as Christ served us.
I have not been true to the mind of Christ.
I have grieved Your Holy Spirit.
Have mercy on me, Lord.

I confess to You, Lord, all my past unfaithfulness:
the pride, hypocrisy, and impatience of my life,
I confess to You, Lord.

My self-indulgent appetites and ways,
and my exploitation of other people,
I confess to You, Lord.

My anger at my own frustrations,
and my envy of those more fortunate than myself,
I confess to you, Lord.

My intemperate love of worldly goods and comforts,
and my dishonesty in daily life and work,
I confess to you, Lord.

My negligence in prayer and worship,
and my failure to commend the faith that is in me,
I confess to you, Lord.

Accept my repentance, Lord, for the wrongs I have done:
for my blindness to human need and suffering,
and my indifference to injustice and cruelty,
Accept my repentance, Lord.

For all my false judgments,
for uncharitable thoughts toward my neighbors,
and for my prejudice and contempt toward those who differ from me,
Accept my repentance, Lord.

For my waste and pollution of your creation,
and my lack of concern for those who come after me,
Accept my repentance, Lord.

Restore me, good Lord, and let your anger depart from me;
Favorably hear me, for Your mercy is great.

Accomplish in me the work of Your salvation,
That I may show forth Your glory in the world.
By the cross and passion of Your Son my Lord,
Bring me with all Your saints to the joy of His resurrection.

-The Litany of Penitence, a traditional Ash Wednesday prayer

We went to Ash Wednesday service bright and early at 7am this morning.

The boys ate freeze dried fruit and then wandered around.

But no one minded.

And as the ashes of last years palms were brushed onto my forehead I realized we've come full circle- it was Palm Sunday last year that we first began attending this church. And what a blessing is has been to us. Absolutely perfect for this stage of our life. I've rarely attended a church where my children were so welcome. Zeke adores the nursery and his teacher and the other children adore him right back. Malachi, who refuses every nursery attempt and disrupts every service has never gotten one glare.

What a blessing to me, to us, to feel so loved.

I wanted to just pop in to say that I'm going to be just slightly MIA over the next few weeks. Not that I am going to be gone completely, my life is organized such that leaving the internet for 6 weeks would wreck more havoc then it would create peace. But I will be stepping back just slightly. I have a few posts pre-written, so don't despair for my blog. And I am sure I will step into Facebook from time to time, though I wont be able to keep up with every update.

I welcome the break, honestly. And I hope you are able to have a peaceful Lenten season as well.

Fashion trends, Bloomsday Training, and other updates

We've been busy starting some fashion trends around here...
Like boots on your hands.

And stickers on your forehead. (And yes, that is Zeke dancing. You know you are jealous of his mad mad skillz.)

And being the all-around cutest, curliest-headed, kid in the block state planet.

In other news Josh asked if Zeke could watch Star Wars with him. (That sounds like he asked my permission, but it was more of a what-is-your-opinion-because-I-will-defer-to-your-expertise kind of situation.) After a few hours of back-of-the-mind thinking, and a well timed question to the great Facebook I decided against it. We both love those films enough that we want to wait until he can really love it. Also he tends towards nightmares and it is just plain not worth risking. I think 5 or 6 is a better age, which means Mal will be more like 4 but heck, younger kids just get all the fun.

I did compile a list of (mostly Disney) films I thought we could all watch together as a family. Zeke already loves The Aristocats, and Jungle Book but he tends to want to watch them again...and again...and again, which Josh and I just can't handle. There are so many good old ones that aren't too scary for him that we figure we might start slowly going thru them together.
Tonight we are watching Winnie the Poo :)

I also finally started training for Bloomsday. The snow is melted off enough that I can kind of see the sidewalks. Kind of. I fell pretty bad on Saturday but I'm pushing on. My plan is that I will run Sat, Sun, Tues, and Thurs (ish) every week. Saturdays, Sundays, and Tuesdays will be 3 miles (just under 30 minutes) and then Thursdays I will increase by 1 mile every other week. So it will look like this:

wk1 Sat ect 3 miles, Thurs 4 miles.
wk2 Sat ect 3 miles, Thurs 4 miles.
wk3 Sat ect 3 miles, Thurs 5 miles.
wk 4 Sat ect 3 miles, Thurs 5 miles.
wk5 Sat ect 3 miles, Thurs 6 miles.
wk6 Sat ect 3 miles, Thurs 6 miles.
wk7 Sat ect 3 miles, Thurs 7 miles.
wk8 Sat ect 3 miles, Thurs 7 miles.

Runners, does that sound like a good plan? The farthest I've ever run right now is 3 miles. I did the couch to 5k last Fall and I'm find it fairly easy to get back to that distance. I will definitely be there next week when "the plan" begins. I would love to be able to run the full 12k in May though.

The last big item of news is that I found out I was accepted as a performer at the big mother's day show on Thursday. It didn't take me this long to mention it because it's not a big deal to me (oh boy is it ever) but because I wasn't quite sure what to say. I am deeply, deeply aware that for every one of us that saw our name on our list that day there was another person that did not. I am extremely honored to be able to tell my story but also sad that not everyone can have that opportunity.

But I suppose that is why I love blogs. There, we all tell our stories.

On Balance Beams and Favorite Racecars

"We are going to go to someone's house today. There will be lots of kids and you can play." I tell him. It's the usual morning run down and he's trying to put as much oatmeal onto his spoon as he can- I'm not sure at first that he hears me.

But after scooping a mile-high helping into his mouth he looks at me, "Joe and Judah's house?" He knows his rythms and we missed our usual play-date with Joe and Judah this week.

"No, this is going to be a new house." I admit, falsely cheerful. He is thinking, I can tell by the way his spoon is held, suspended before his bowl, and I hold my bread.

"Has they been to my house before?" he asks.

"No...but you have seen them at the mommy meeting. Remember baby Becky? You like that baby."

He looks at me again, good and long this time. It's almost as if he is weighing my feelings, the same way I am weighing his.

Thinking about it, he probably is. This is Zeke after all. The kid that reads my emotions as if they were written on my forehead. The one that watches my face as Mal wiggles away and runs off, and silently puts his toys down to come place his head on my shoulder; the boy I once caught tiptoeing carefully past me as I stood in the bathroom downing a handful of "emergency chocolate". He's trying to figure out how important this is to me and I try to silently express that it's all up to him. That its nothing to me.

"I will bring Lightning McQueen." he decides and goes back to his breakfast.


I knew it was a bad idea- bringing a toy. Not only a toy but his favorite toy. We talk during the drive about how he can leave it there to wait for him, about how if he brings it inside he will have to share it. I'm starting to feel stressed, and wonder if I'm expecting too much from him... It seems like I'm always expecting too much from him, or not enough. Never the perfect amount.

Why can't I ever find balance?

We get there and he carries Lightning under one arm. He is silent, ill-at-ease with children he doesn't know very well and an environment he has never seen. I wish it wasn't like this. I wish he would run and play, exuberant as he is at home. Is it the right thing to do? Forcing him into these social situations? Am I stretching him or am I hurting him?

Of course there is a fight over the race car. Of course there is. It's easily settled; Zeke is reminded that he agreed to share and that we will be taking the toy back home when we leave, he finds the giant stuffed Diego doll to play with. But it still throws me into more doubt. I expected too much, that he would be able to remember to share. I should have just insisted we leave it in the car.


Driving home I wonder if it's always going to be like this- parenting. Is there always so much doubt? It is always such an act of balance? I watch Zeke in my rearview and I try to read his mind. Did he enjoy himself at all? He seemed to open up a bit at the end but I know him, I know his constant request to "stay home."

The mind reading is no use. His green eyes are unreadable. This child is a mystery to me, layer upon layer, more complex then I could have ever imagined. Brave and shy and loving and independent and quiet and funny.

And resilient.

That's the part I have to remember. Because this IS a balancing act, and more then once my ankle will twist and we will fall off this beam...but we just need to get back up. We will try again. Maybe slower, maybe not so many flips and flashes. But I'm confident that if I just keep trying, well, we can survive the falls.

Inbreath (#253-267)

It is one week until Lent. And is it strange that I feel myself yearning for it?

Lent is probably my favorite time of the liturgical year. I'm not sure it's supposed to be. It is a fast, after all, a time of repentance, of self denial. But for me it has always been more of a time of slowing down, of realigning my lifestyle and goals with my values. A time to pray more, read my bible more, and make a good old-fashioned attempt at being a better person.

It is the Winter's last, great in-breath, before the manic, almost excessive, out-breath that is Spring.

And how wonderful that the church year and the natural year are so perfectly aligned. What better time is there for Lenten focus then these last clinging weeks of winter? What better time for Easter's joy then those first bright weeks of Spring? Nearly wasteful in their color and life. I know it was purposefully done, but it was also perfectly done.

Lent approaches and my soul is ready.

The Moments of Grace never cease...I continue to count them.

#253. Reservation confirmations.

#254. A friend to save the tree frogs with- particularly if they are well-versed in the dangers of the Bo-bo brothers.

#255. Chick flicks, and the chicks to watch them with.

#256. The picture-perfect comedy of a line of muddy pawprints, right past the drying mop.

#257. Warm nan.

#258. Rousing choruses of "Bringing Home a Baby Bumblebee".

#259. Feb 15th chocolate sales.

#260. Someone to laugh with every night about the days misadventures.

#261. Books on CD.

#262. The UPS truck stopping right in front of my door.

#263. Malachi cheering Zeke wildly as he goes to the potty. May they always be each other's number 1 supporter.

#264. New felt slippers- warmth for these last cold weeks.

#265. Tango dancing in the livingroom while fat snowflakes fall outside.

#266. Sticker books.

#267. Breathing in.