June Garden Update

Updating a bit early, because we are going out of town for the rest of June.

This month was kind of like the 10 plagues of Egypt. Except there were not quite 10 of them...also my backyard isn't in Egypt.

There was hail however, which decimated my lettuce and onion patches, the lettuce I was able to replant but half of my 12 onions are just gone. And I found dozens (dozens!) of slugs in the potatoes, while something we never quite found or labeled ate 4 of my squash seedlings, maybe birds?

During these many setbacks I threw many tantrums kept up a good attitude.

Gardening is good practice for accepting that which you cannot control. Like endless rain. And slugs.

Luckily lettuce grows back quickly, and by replanting every time I pull a head I've been harvesting a head or two of lettuce every week this month, with nary an empty spot left in the row.

The peas are doing great as well and hopefully as they grow taller they will give the delicate lettuce enough shade to protect them from the heat of high summer- that is if high summer ever arrives.

I could get used to the steady supply of lettuce.

As for the slugs, I spread egg shells to deter them (they are too sharp for soft slug bellies) and laid and old board every evening next to my plants. When the sun came up the next day the slugs hid underneath, and then it was just a matter of murdering the ugly suckers. After 4 nights of this I stopped finding slugs. I know everyone says "beer traps" but I've never had much luck with them, and since we dont drink beer this was more convenient.

It seemed to work and the potatoes were saved.
In the end 6 potato plants came up. I think its hilarious that they were all planted the same day and yet I have 3 distinct stages of growth. As you can see the top 2 left ones have been hilled a few times already but the bottom 2 right ones are still in their holes, and the other two are barely germinated, so teeny tiny you cant even really see them.

As for the squash and it's attacker... well I ended up buying 2 more starts to make up for my losses :( But I found great ones at the public market for 50cents a pop so alls well that ends well?

The green beans are doing great.

And the raspberries are even putting out shoots at last!

My tomatoes may never forgive me for the weather, though.
If they don't rally soon I might just pull them. The carrots in the back look nice. They are sooo tiny and grow grow soooo slow though, and take forever to germinate. I did my second planting 2 weeks ago and nary a sprout. So far carrots just arent that satisfying. I'm sure I'll sing another tune when its pulling time :)

We are very near picking time for strawberries. There are literal pounds of green strawberries out there. I have a feeling they will all redden up while we are gone and we will have quite a feast to greet us back home next week.

And hopefully more corn germinates as well.
We have 5 or 6 but I planted more like 25 or 30. Hopefully the rest pop up, if not I may be setting this bed to cover crop sooner then expected.

Here's hoping for more sun and less plagues this month!!

Malachi @ 18 mo

I've been writing so much about Ezekiel lately that I decided it was time to devote a post to Malachi. As he nears 18 months he is really turning a corner, becoming more of a toddler and less of a baby, and his personality is really showing thru. I have to admit that this- 18mo to 4 years- is really my favorite age. I'm not so much a baby person.

Our big struggles right now with Malachi are in dealing with his temper and his destructiveness. Oh boy does my boy have a temper. He is all hot and cold, this one. He always has been, but as he gets older his physical expressions of anger become less and less acceptable. Malachi has been known to hit, kick, bite, headbutt, and throw things when displeased. And he gets displeased both easily and quickly. He is also so quick to hug, though, the biggest strongest bear hugs you have ever received. And he showers kisses on everyone; me, Josh, Zeke, the cats, and Claudia.

I have to remember that his temperament has two sides, good and bad. He angers quickly, but he's quick to forgive as well. His extremes are such a world away from Zeke's steady little personality that it has taken me a while to get a handle on Mal and how best to stabilize him though. I'm still not sure quite what to do other then wait out his storms.

As for his destructiveness, uhg. I'm trying to channel it into better directions best I can. He is such a physical being. I don't think he really means harm, he just has to be DOING all the time. Zeke and I are both thinkers. Josh as well, for that matter. But Malachi has to DO and better yet AFFECT 24/7. I'm finding very quickly that if I'm not providing positive things for him to be doing, he will find his own things to do.

So Malachi has been introduced to crayons and when I'm in good mood markers, which I realize sounds like a terrible idea but as long as I keep a sharp eye on him to make sure he's limiting his art to the paper at hand and sometimes his own body, it's been helping worlds. And now he has a phone book as well, courtesy of the city, to rip and rip with joy. It makes just the most satisfying sound and creates such a lovely mess, which he is very happy to transfer to the trash when he's done.

And when I am busy and distracted I'm making sure to keep him under my wing by employing him as my special helper. He's at the perfect age to be adoring it- both the attention and the responsibility. Zeke is still my designated table-setter but Malachi often acts as his silverware deputy, and he has his own special job now of table-clearer. He loves to put all the dirty dishes in the sink and will even push a chair up to the counter so he can retrieve the sponge and wipe the kitchen down. I'm also finding all sorts of little pieces of lint and paper for him to throw away for me, and he likes to bring me items from the laundry basket to fold, and to sweep, though I'm not sure he ever gets anywhere with that one.

At 18 months, Mal still isn't talking much. He CAN talk. Every once in a while he even does, spouting off dozens of words suddenly in a day, and even phrases. But then the next he is back to pointing, and nothing makes him madder then forcing him to talk when he doesn't want to (by pretending you don't understand him or telling him he must say please, up, ect, before you will do it). His only consistent word is "good girl", which is what he calls Claudia.

It's fitting because if forced to pick a best friend I am sure "good girl" would win hands down. They are the best of friends and almost never separated. If Malachi cries then Claudia is often found right by his side crying, and if Claudia whines Malachi will burst into tears. It makes punishing either one of them a pain, to tell the truth. But its also adorable as heck, so I forgive them.

One thing is for sure, Malachi is NOT ready to be a big boy or have a younger sibling. He is quite happy being the nurser of the family and isn't thrilled when babies come visiting, quickly pushing them out of my arms and climbing into my lap. It makes me very glad we don't have a little one due any day, like we did when Zeke was 18 months. Mal gets to be the baby for a while longer yet.

Zeke's existential crisis

I knew something was up for a good week or two, the way he was pulling close and then pushing away and then pulling close again only to rip himself away the next minute. He was declaring himself a baby and a big boy in the same sentences and wearing his underwear with pride, but resorting to baby talk when he was tired (and Zeke didn't even use much baby talk as a baby). But it wasn't until the eve of Zeke's big 3rd birthday, when he broke down in tears and wailed that he was not only not ready to be three but willing to send away all his friends AND presents the next day in order to stop it that I realized that the momentous event was throwing my small son into his first existential crisis.

Having had a bit of a taste for an existential crises ever now and again myself in my day, I was actually somewhat prepared for this- but not at the age of three. I can't hand him a copy of The Brother Karamazov and I cant debate either Kierkegaard or Nietzsche with him. I'm lost.

So instead we just do a lot of cuddling while I watch a still very very small boy figure out how he fits into this world and this family, who he is and who we are and if that is good or bad and what good and bad are. It's hard.

He couches it in the words and terms that he has and talks all day about bad guys and good guys and heroes and villains and he longs for it to be black and white. He's searching for some line to follow. But really its grey. All painfully and confusingly grey.

He told me today that he is a bad guy because when Malachi's chips were gone and his plate was still full he didn't share.

A hero would share, he told me with tears in his eyes.

And what am I supposed to do with this gentle soul?

He's barely grasping the seasons, yesterday he had to say "snowytime" 3 times before I understood that he meant summertime. Yes, its summertime. How am I supposed to convey all the intricacies of right and wrong when I'm so woefully confused myself? He is searching for how to be a man, and I am painfully aware that I am a woman- and don't tell me there is no difference because there is.

And I thank God that at least I know something. Some small thing to offer my son, although it's really the biggest thing, the only Truth I've ever found. Grace.

And forgiveness and love and mercy. To us and from us and sometimes you just have to hang on to that, son. Lord knows sometimes it's all I'm hanging onto.

Oh Happy Happy Birthday To You

Happy, happiest birthday to my boy.

Zeke, circa newborn,

4 months,

8 months,

a year,
a year and a half,


and two and a half.

The time, it just flies. And I need to do a photoshoot with Zeke. With just Zeke. Because looking thru pictures for this collection I realized that I don't have any nice ones of just him after a while. Always there is Malachi by his side.

There are reasons, of course. Zeke's inherent shyness and Mal's love of the camera combined at the forefront of them.

Then of course there is that Zeke just adores his brother. All day at his party he just wanted to "play with baby". All day a bit overwhelmed and shy, even though he knows all these kids and it's his own back yard. But he wanted a party and planned it to a t- the balloon color, the snacks served, every detail. It was all very Zeke.

And now he is 3 now. With a big boy bike to prove it.

Summer At Last (#240-259)

Spring? Who needs spring? Around these parts we jump right from winter to summer.

Heck, we jump from winter to summer, then back to winter for a few days, and then switch summer again.

As an example take last week, in which we had 80+ weather fit for a trip to the splash pad, and also a hail storm that decimated my lettuce patch.

The hail storm I could have done without. But the splash pad?

I think the splash pad is a keeper.

#259. The first day warm enough for the splash pad.

Join me as I try to find the hidden grace, and count the 1,000 ways I am blessed. 1,000 things to be thankful for; 1,000 ways I am every day loved by Love Himself...

#240. The delicate beauty of a sea shell.

#241. Strawberries flowering. Each white blossom a promise of something delicious to come.

# 242. A fist harvest- fresh chives for my eggs.

#243. Zeke singing the "thomas" theme song as he pulls a train along the floor.

#244. Reunions.

#245. That Zeke still remembers bathing Malachi in the tub that first week he was born, and requests to do it again.

#246. Good advice.

#247. Blue raspberry otter pops.

#248. Dancing in the car, and lookin like a fool.

#249. Slowly, slowly, paying off debts.

#250. Homemade donuts.

#251. Sudden rainshowers.

#252. Babies hands folded in prayer.

#253. Picnics.

#254. Sitting in the sun.

#255. Inside jokes among brothers.

#256. Kiddy pools.

#257. Dreams.

#258. Dirt and a few construction cars.


When the world becomes too fast and difficult he raises his voice to a squeaky falsetto and tells me between tweets that he is my baby bird. I am to make a nest for us with blankets and pillows and become his mommy bird, and as soon as I'm finished he snuggles down under my wing.

When did he get so old that he needed a game's permission to let me wrap my arms around him?

And the only thing more wonderful/terrifying than the transformation from soft baby to scab-kneed boy that he has just completed is the transformation from boy to man that is soon to come.

We ache. The both of us.

I'm finding that invisible bonds tear even more piercing than skin- and as ours stretch my hands brush the scars of that previous stretching. This journey is longer and more painful than that nine month one, these bonds so much stronger then flesh. And every day I find that motherhood is something that will never be finished with me; that elasticity is a goal I will never quite reach.

I rip.

I tell myself that in many ways the years that Zeke and I are about to embark on are the comfortable second trimester. Not the exhaustion and adjustment of the first; not the heavy awkwardness of the third. We have a long second trimester up ahead to learn what we never learned in that pre-journey, those nine months when we lived like one and refused to separate at 40, 41, 42, 43 weeks, until the doctors had to come in with their drugs and their tools and pull him from my womb...

-how to let go.


And by the way, if you are in the mood to see and hear me instead of just read my words, here is a link to my Listen To Your Mother performance.