Close to Nature, Close to Perfect (#400-419)

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.

That was...anticlimactic

Today is Josh's first day back at work. In all, he was unemployed for exactly 1 week. Instead of the months of job searching and tightening of belts we were all geared up for, he was hired at a slightly better wage then he made before, and did it faster then his severance pay was out. How in the world being laid-off became financially beneficial is beyond me, but I'm not going to question it too deeply. This company apparently even does regularly scheduled evaluations, complete with regularly scheduled raises- a thing that never happened in all the years Josh worked at his old one. So all in all we are very, very happy and in a general awe at how things always seem to work out for our good.

Now I just feel silly for all that worrying I did.

In other news I got sick of waiting for summer to start. While the rest of the country is in a record breaking heat wave, I can count on my fingers the number of days we've reached the 80's, and I'm not 100% sure we've reached the 90's at all. It is the end of July, however, so I'm starting to suspect this is the best we will get.

So we've been fruit picking,

having picnics,

doing really weird art projects,

going to the beach,

and all the other activities that mean summer. Eating otter pops, and running thru sprinklers, and visiting the public pool, and welcoming ourselves to friends' raspberry bushes, and making berry cobblers, and grilling hamburgers and corn cobs and sausage dogs and kabobs and BBQ chicken and zuchinni's fresh from the garden and pretty much anything else I can talk Josh into making for dinner.

We missed the renaissance fair as usual but the royal fireworks concert is next weekend and remembering how enthralled Zeke was with the ballet last year we are pretty set on attending at least that portion of it again. We also missed the first Concert Under the Pines at our local park, because that was the day Josh was laid off and we forgot all about it, but the next 3 are on the calender ready to be remembered.

Even if the season wont do itself justice at least we will :)

New Rhythms and New Horizons

With Josh home this week the whole family seems to be in a pause. Each of us pushing arms outwards to feel our new space, and wriggling our shoulders in attempts to make it familiar. Well, all of us except Mal. Malachi just barrels forward despite all changes in rhythm and aura. It may be a 1-year-old thing but it may just also be Mal.

Whether our littlest family member notices or not, the house feels different with Josh here.

In an effort to keep some semblance of our normal day going he does go downstairs into his basement office (aka man cave) every morning. He job searches, he familiarizes himself with programming languages that he thinks a knowledge of will be useful, he double checks his online presence, he takes breaks to lift weights, to practice guitar. By 3pm when the boys are being woken from their naps, he joins the rest of us and we head out as a family to run errands or garden, or else we adults read while the kid's play at our feet.

Honestly it should feel the same, only daddy "home" a bit early. But it doesn't really. Even if he's unavailable we are all very aware that he's here. Every art project must be run down to show him, every snack offered. He comes up every once in a while, to use the restroom or grab a drink or tell me, laughing, that he knows when he is applying for a job in Idaho when they state that degrees from accredited universities are preferred.

It's an adjustment and we are getting there.

And hopefully by the time we do we are adjusting right back to where we were before.

He has two interviews tomorrow. :) I told him to ask double his old salary or bust ;)

Day In the Life

Yesterday was the first day that Josh was home, having been laid off Thursday. Yep, you heard me. Josh lost his job. On the one hand, we have been half expecting it for years- his company has had 2+ major lay-offs every year that he has worked there. On the other hand...well on the other hand it always sucks when your number is called. It's not exactly like Spokane is a tech-job meca, and in case you've been able to forget we are in a recession for...for as long as Josh and I have been part of the work force actually. In other words, there is a very real chance that this will force us to uproot our family- to short sale the home that I dearly love, and leave the city where I have built my life for almost seven years. Our friends, my mom's group, the non-profit I've helped birth, our church and the youth group we run...even the little things like our pediatrician and the park we always go to and the farm that we pick fruit in during the Spring sting a little bit.

Yes I've done it before- 6 and a half years ago when I came here.

But honestly the familiarity with the process just makes it harder. I know that it takes years to truly build a life, and how hard it is while you live without a support system in the meantime. I dont want to start over.

Our search is limited to this area for now but neither one of us are sure how long we can keep that luxury.

Anyways, life must go on and I had long planned to do a Day In The Life post.

And so I shall.

Mal and I woke up at 8:30, to find Josh and Zeke already downstairs and skimming the online job market.

Josh fed the boys breakfast, and I harvested some peas from the garden and took a shower (yay for fixed water heaters!).

After my shower it was time for the kids to take a bath.
They love to wash each other's hair- like teenage girls in a teenage boys' fantasy. When they were dried off and dressed they went outside to play.

And Josh trimmed the epic beard he has been working on for the past little bit to something that looks a little less homeless and a little more "hire me".

Around 10 I took the boys to their well-child check-ups, and Josh went back downstairs to continue the job search. Only Malachi ended up getting any shots, and he took it like a champ as usual. After my last post I had 2 foster moms I know tell me that they partially immunize/don't immunize their kids and never had any problems. I looked up the actual law (vs blindly listening to a social worker that obviously meant best but also obviously cant know everything) and found I can opt out my bio kids as long as I immunize my foster kids. So back to the old schedule we happily go.

It was some well-child visit, however. Zeke left with a pink eye prescription and Mal with a antibiotic prescription for his flaming double ear infection!? I knew he had a small cold earlier in the week but honestly he wasn't acting like he was in pain at all. I'm glad it came to light, though, because our insurance only lasts thru the end of the month.

Mal fell asleep on the drive home, there goes nap. And then they had chicken nuggets and apple slices for lunch.

After eating Mal went back outside to play ring toss.

And Zeke went into the toy room to play with his trains.

I did my prayer time, since I knew I wouldn't have time with both boys napping at once.

After I was done I filled their kiddie pool to warm up for the afternoon, and put Zeke down for a nap. I finally got hungry so I made taquitos for Malachi and I to share while we watched the first act of Les Miserable (the 1oth anniversary DVD). I decided that as loyal to this version as I feel, the 25th anniversary that came out this year is a lot better.

I woke up Zeke at 3 and he was very. Very. Very cranky.

We all four of us went to the store.

When we got home Zeke was still very very very cranky-though somewhat mollified by the jamba juice Josh bought him. We put the groceries away and went for a swim.

Soon it was time to start dinner, so Zeke got to watch Cinderella.

Malachi started to watch with him, but ended up falling asleep. I accepted the fact that I would be up until midnight.

Our friend Becca arrived, bearing gifts in the form of Josh's phone charger. He had left it at work the day before. They talked lay-off.

Soon after that our friend Jonathan arrived for dinner. They also talked lay-off.

Dinner finished cooking and Becca excused herself to go home.

We talked more lay-off but I was heartened. We talked about the dozens of people that have come up and offered to look for jobs for Josh, the handful that already had and demanded his resume for their boss. He is very well liked and respected in his business. We talked about the bright side of the situation, that we all know he would never quit his former job, and maybe this is opening him up for bigger and better things.

Jonathan brought gifts for the boys.

And very soon it was time for Zeke to go to bed...and for the rest of us to watch Harry Potter 7a in preparation for the second movie which we are all going to tomorrow (well except Malachi, he's not invited to HP7b...but then again he also fell asleep in the middle of 7a so he's not fully prepared anyways).

I do love me a schedule

When Zeke was born we decided to partially immunize. It's not that I buy all the research about immunizations causing autism ect, its just that I also don't buy all the research disproving it- I see the wonderful miracle that immunizations are, and I see the cash cow they have become. At the end of the day, let's just say, I don't trust anyone but my own good sense. And so like any woman who only trusts her own good sense and has far too much time on her hands I decided to look into things myself (with the help of a trusted pediatrician).

And the plan that I came up with, the one that I felt most comfortable with, was partial delayed immunization. Our schedule looked like this.

2mo DTaP, Hib(combined shot), Pc
4mo DTaP, Hib(combined shot), Pc
6mo DTaP, Hib(combined shot), Pc
18mo DTaP,Hib(combined shot), Pc

5 years DTaP

10 or 12 years HepB, Hep A, MMR, Chickenpox

*skipped all together were rotovirus and polio (although Mal got the Polio, because my current ped. carried and trusted a combined vac. including it with DTaP, Hib)

Fast forward 3 years and I'm still very happy with that schedule. But, suddenly, we are also thinking and praying very hard about becoming foster parents next year. And one reality of being foster parents is that you are inviting big gov. into your home in a very real way- and big gov. isn't fond of people who write their own schedules. In other words, to get licensing to foster, our own kids need to be caught up on their shots in the next year.

Except for that roto, they don't recommend getting the roto vaccine later then 18 months so we just lucked out on that one ;)

To make a long story short(er) our new schedule ends like this:

2 yrs MMR, Pox(combined shot), Hep B
2.5 yrs Hep A, Hep B
3 yrs Hep A, Hep B

3 yrs MMR, Pox(combined shot), Hep B, Polio
3.5 Hep A, Hep B, Polio
4 yrs Hep A, Hep B, Polio

Mal wont be truly caught up for a year and a half, but by the time we are hoping to apply for licensing (next summer) he will only have the last Hep A and the last Hep B left. If that's not good enough I'm willing to wait an extra 6 months until he is done.

At first I'll admit I was fairly upset about this change in plans. But the more I think about it, the more at peace I am.

Summer Lull

I don't know if its the summer heat - the sudden expansion of the season finally arriving...

Or the fact that my mind is full of Les Miserables, which I've watched almost 3 times this week. I still cant tell if its as good as the old 10th anniversary DVD...

Or maybe it's after-vacation exhaustion...

Or the growing excitement of Dance with Dragons being released AT LAST this Tuesday! And Harry Potter 7b (as I call it) Friday!

But I've been getting nothing done. Not even any writing. Sorry for the silence.

Home (#360-399)

Nothing makes you appreciate home like a 9 day vacation in the woods.

Not that we didn't have an amazing time- we really truly did. It's just that I didn't realize how tense my shoulders had gotten until walking in the front door immediately released them. I love my front door. I love our little home. It's the biggest little home that ever was built. I can walk from front to back in 7 steps, from side to side in a mean dozen (I've counted), and yet we've stuffed 4 bedrooms and a giant-sized helping of life into it. It's the blessing of numerous floors and an indulgent husband.

I've lived here a little over 2 years now and this house is dangerously close to becoming the one I have lived the longest in. Josh and I dream of getting out of the city, of acreage and a giant garden and maybe even a horse (and obviously miniature donkeys!) but I can very honestly say that I am perfectly content right here. We could stuff a whole lot more life in.

#399- Home.

I'm struggling to find the hidden grace, and count 1,000 ways I am blessed. 1,000 things to be thankful for; 1,000 ways I am every day loved by Love Himself.

#360. New coloring books.

#362. Grandpa's boat.

#363. Butterflies flitting from flower to flower.

#364. Pink and purple skies over the mountains- a glimpse of majesty.

#365. Bug spray.

#366. The beach.

#367. Digging.

#368. Sunburns.

#369. Paddle boats.

#370. The plop of a rock perfectly thrown into water.

#371. Campfires

#372. Marshmallows.

#373. Piles of blankets in a cold tent.

#374. Huckleberry pancakes.

#375. Black sheep, both literal and figurative.

#376. Board games.

#377. Helping hands.

#378. Pinochle.

#379. Pie

#380. Steep hills.

#381. Big sticks.

#382. Searching the woods for mushrooms.

#383. Little plastic boats.

#384. All nurf-like products.

#385. 6 dogs and 14 children crammed in 2 campgrounds- a very happy chaos.

#386. Filthy dirty boys aka happy campers.

#387. Very big pieces of watermelon.

#388. A warm washcloth after days of camping and a no-longer-so-thin layer of dirt on the skin.

389. Dog cousins.

#390. The camping smell rising off me as I shower.

#391. The boys swarming over the peas the minute we arrive home and eating a clean dozen each before I've even finished looking around.

#392. Vendor food.

#393. Fireworks.

#394. Corny patriotic music.

#395. People watching, and Josh and I's favorite version- baby watching.

#396. Shade on a hot day.

#397. Family traditions.

#398. Really ridiculously large snow scones.