Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Seasonal Living

I can't help it: I feel the excitement of harvest when I see the brigade of windrowers marching down the highways, headed to the rye grass fields for cutting. It is in me. I'm a bit like Willa Cather or John Steinbeck; I get attached to land and place, home.

When I lived away from these fields of my childhood, I would call my parents and find out what was happening. Had they started cutting? When would they combine? Was harvest going to be early or late this year?

When I'd visit, I'd feel a sense of personal injustice if I missed windrowing. My inner farmer needed to see the grass begin to ripen and bend, turn from green to brown.

The "in" thing is to live seasonally, to eat only local, ripe foods. I think farmers are most in tune to this way of life. I just made fruit smoothies with our last gallon of frozen raspberries. I timed it just right, raspberries should be ready any day. I also ate our last loaf of frozen zucchini bread, soon I'll be digging my way out of the pile of garden grown squash.

I walked through our orchard in great anticipation: peaches, pears, apples,and grapes. My excitement was deflated. There wasn't much on the trees this year. I panicked. My canning cupboards are almost bare. The jars are washed and ready for local fruits and vegetables. We had so many apples last October that my husband literally made apple crisp almost every night after work. I was going to start saving all my milk jugs for the gallons upon gallons of fresh cider. Guess not.

But this is the way of the farm, some years are bunmper crops, others...not so much. Last year we didn't get that many green beans, this year, not so hot on the apples, but we've had plenty of Swiss chard, the corn is looking impressive, and I have high hopes for my berry jams. Oh, and there is always the ever dependable lettuce and squash.

And so I live my seasonal life, and that is why my heart is happy when I lay in bed at night and I hear the hum of the combine outside my window, the lights of the large machine keeping the farmer company in his season of work.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Part Three of Homeschooling: Responses from Other Readers

One reader responds:

Again, I appreciate your thoughts. I agree that for some families/circumstances, homeschooling works very well. Others seem to make the choice out of fear. It's good to remember that ultimately, parents are responsible for their kids' education, whether public, private, or at home.


I wanted to say thank you for your honest and thoughtful words. After a year's worth of first grade homework, I know I could not homeschool. No patience or experience in teaching reading, even if I teach literature . . . I wanted to tell my youngest "But you just read that word on the ... last page. Don't you know what it is yet?!" Thank goodness for elementary, and middle, and high school teachers! They have the hardest job in the world.

Someone else:

You know what's so funny about this- the reason you want to send your kids to school is the exact reason I don't want to- I feel like at school, my education was very one-sided. I had great English/Grammar teachers, and I did very well in that subject (and math too). But, I did not understand science from the beginning and never learned to love ... Read More much of history. The teachers just never really made me love it. I want to make sure I am the one choosing the curriculum so that it fits their individual learning styles and so that honestly it can be fun for them. Learning should be fun. And, if they have an interest in music, sports, or whatever, then we can give attention to those areas, without wasting time doing a bunch of stuff they don't enjoy. Anyway, views are funny, and I just love that you and your husband are on the same page. That is huge, and your kids will do great simply because of that!!! My husband and I really agree on our choice as well and that gives me the support I need!


My kids have been to public, private and home school. When we home schooled, we didn't attempt to do "school" at home; in other words, not a lot of specific curriculum, etc. (I could probably write a book on that.) I have a feeling that because you're such a good mom (you obviously love your... Read More boys and are already thinking about what will be best for them), you're bound to rethink this year by year. It may be that public school is perfect for one or two and home schooling will be perfect for one or two. Keep an open mind as they grow older. Our youngest is back at private Christian school and loves it. Our oldest ultimately decided too much busy work, not enough real-life learning was what school was about. He thinks "school" is fake learning. Ultimately, God, His Holy Spirit can guide you into what is best for the boys, including education, activities, travel, etc. You don't need a public school for all that. :)

P.S. (From one more reader)

Well I was home schooled from 7-12 grade, part time we were required to take at least classes at a local Christian school, which was good, but the homeschooling was good too. My mom made sure we had interaction with kids other than just siblings. And for my senior year, I still was home schooled, but also took GED courses at the community college and got my GED. It helps if you are able to get involved in either a home school association or home school co-op too. I am glad that I was home schooled. I would not have survived public school.

Ok, only one more post by me on this topic, then it is back to the fun and creative!

Book Bombs

Usually they are more interested in the train and Lego table, play kitchen and doll house, picking out puppets, or playing their version of chess and checkers, but today they did what I've been hoping they would do....pick out books at the library.

Summer is about many things, and for me it is participating in summer reading programs at the library. I remember logging hours spent reading, stretching out on my butterfly comforter and devouring a silly romance, earning the ultimate ice cream party...

My boys love reading, OK, they love me reading to them. My oldest is beginning to enjoy looking at a book himself, especially if we've read the story before. He uses the pictures to retell the story to himself. We read roughly an hour every day. We always read for 30 mins. before bed and then another 30 throughout the day, 10 here and 10 there.

They easily achieved the first prize break of five hours. They got yummy, and totally not healthy, bread stick coupons for Little Caesars, which was great because Mom and Dad were hungry and we weren't in the mood or position to spend any money in town today.

We not only left with these tasty, carb coupons but a tote full of books. These books were not picked out by me. The boys did it all. A few I slipped back on the shelf, but most made it in the bag. They did OK, but there were two total bombs. STAY AWAY FROM THESE READS!

Old Friends by Lynne Barasch.

Basically it is about a woman who is so old she has outlived all her friends and is lonely. Then she is strangely drawn to a dog that seems to know her. She figures it out that this dog is her best friend Anna. Then the main character dies, but emerging from her house is a dog who finds the reincarnated Anna, and they wag in great delight. My 2-year-old did not get it, and neither did I. How did this one get published? Must be an inside connection or a really good agent. I'm baffled. I'm also hiding this one on the top bookshelf.

The Bravest Ever Bear by Allan Ahlberg and Paul Howard.

OK, so this book was clever, and as an adult I almost liked it, but it missed the mark with young children. Here is the summary put out by Candlewick Press: Fairy tale characters tell their stories from their own perspective, with new endings, and find themselves encountering each other as their stories overlap.

Basically the literary humor was way beyond my little guys and the storyline was too random and spastic for them to follow, with little interjecting characters randomly placed throughout the pages. Allan and Paul had fun writing this, and the publishers had fun putting it together, but I'm not sure if young children have that much fun reading it.

So, there you have it from our last visit to the library. The boys did pick some fun ones, but I decided to be negative and focus on the bombs! Happy Reading!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Part Two of Homeschooling: Assessing Your Child's Needs

As a parent, I am allowed to re-evaluate any choices I make for my children, and hopefully I'm not too proud to change course. I have done this with many things already: the one that comes to mind right now is potty training. (That update will be a separate and coming blog post.)

As a teacher I was constantly assessing my students' needs and adapting lesson plans to fit their learning styles and levels of understanding. (Teachers who teach well and design their lessons well never teach to the middle of the class learning curve, never just to the top, never to the lowest student. Yes, it is totally possible to differentiate instruction and keep all students engaged and learning. It is an art form. Some teachers learn this and some come by it naturally, but all teachers are trained this way. This is what it means to be a teacher in our current school climate.)

I do this as a parent: each one of my children is different. What worked for one in areas of discipline has had to be tweaked a bit with the other. I see differences also in how they transition and adapt to new situations, how they feel loved and show love.

My husband and I feel very passionate about being part of our living community, and we desire to do that by sending our children to public school, but there are a few people I can think of that I admire and understand their choice to homeschool.

1. I have reconnected with a childhood friend who has made the choice to school her children at home. She seems to be a very self-motivated person, with appropriate goals for her children, but the thing that really seals-the-deal for me is that this last year her husband had to go back to Georgia for further military training before deploying to Iraq. Homeschool fit this cross-country move and experience. They were able to move and not be pulled out of a classroom and then plugged into another one. Homeschooling gave them the freedom to explore their new surroundings and learn the history of the East Coast. If this were my situation, I would have done the same.

2. My cousin and his wife have homeschooled all their children. Their oldest is graduating this year and their youngest is still in grade school. The benefit I see from their choice is that this has allowed them, as a family, to do ministry in very unique ways. For one, they show God's love to a marginalized group in our society, the elderly. I love this family and always enjoy my time with them.

3. I also admire a woman who saw that her sons were not thriving in the private school they were attending. After doing research she decided to homeschool. I didn't keep up with the entire process, but it seems that after a year of homsechooling they decided that the oldest really did need/want to be in a more traditional school setting, and so they chose to send him to another Christian school that fit him and his learning/social needs. It seems that this is an excellent fit, and they are happy with their decision. Their younger son chose to continue homsechooling. I admire her for assessing her boys' needs and choosing accordingly.

4. Another mom who has chosen to teach her children in this manner is someone who was a middle school teacher, an excellent one. She still believes in public education, but her oldest had learning needs that were not being met in a regular classroom. She is the first to admit that she's exhausted and that to homeschool correctly it has to completely overtake your lives. It becomes your life, is your life, and you as a mother are tired. These were her words summarized. She still does it because she sees that it is working with her family.

Good parents make decisions they feel will be good for their children.

However, I feel like I see a growing trend with Christians who are making a blanket decision to homeschool without really evaluating their children and even themselves. Not every parent makes a good teacher.

My mom is and was an excellent teacher. She began teaching the year Kennedy was shot and ended her career as a 2nd grade teacher the year of 9/11. She was expert. She should have been nationally recognized. :) She was my inspiration, and every child left her room a better person and student. But there is no way she should have been my teacher. One summer we tried to do a little tutoring and it was a huge failure. Our personalities clashed, and that was the end of it.

Also, if my parents had homeschooled us we would have had a rich understanding of history and some of the basics, but would have "graduated" with little or no math /science skills.

This is why I am a fan of the traditional school model. It has teachers who are experts in their area teaching that area/subject to my child. They are passing on a love of science that might not be present in the home.

If I had never gone to school I would have never learned to enjoy athletics. This was not something my family celebrated. I am a better, more rounded person for having other authorities in my life, seeing gifts in me and encouraging me to try and explore them.

So, even though I see families who homsechool and do an adequate and sometimes necessary job, I am still not persuaded. I still want a different life for my kids and a different outcome that is missed when school is done in the home setting.

Keep the thoughts and comments coming, and be gracious with me if I ever change my mind on this topic. :)

Monday, June 22, 2009

My Evil Plan Worked

"So, he was a surprise, right?"

"Nope, totally planned and thought out. We wanted them close together."

"How close will they be?"

"17 and 1/2 months."

I was giddy. My sister and I had been 21 months apart, and I loved it. I was the younger and was sure there was really no difference in our ages. I think sometimes my sister wished there was a bit more space, but I couldn't wait to catch up! Her friends were my friends. Her toys mine. My passions, she enjoyed. My imagination, she complimented. We were on the same page. Developmentally we tracked. We were constant companions.

My parents met later in life and so started their family later than most. Our cousins were getting married when we were learning to walk, or so it seemed. Family gatherings weren't about little kids, so we made our own fun. If an invite for dinner got boring, we escaped with each other, amigos in crime.

Even in high school, we enjoyed each other. On a retreat we chose to go on a long bike ride with each other instead of with our friends who were back at the rented house.

We still love and rely on each other.

This is what I had in mind when I got pregnant when my oldest wasn't even walking yet. I was still nursing; he was still a baby. It sometimes makes me sad that our one-on-one time was cut short. He was such a cute little boy. There are pictures of his first birthday, and there is the bulge of his little brother, hanging out in my belly.

I had no way to prepare him. He went from being the center of our world to having to share everything once number two arrived. He didn't even notice the large belly that made it tricky to cuddle on my lap. He was too young. One day I left and the next, came home from the hospital with a screaming bundle of joy. I admit, I missed him a ton and even cried over it no longer being me and my little man. I was also learning to share.

It was pretty intense. I always encourage mothers who have chosen to space their kids so close together, that it all pays off in the end. I say, "Nine months, that is the month when the clouds will lift. You'll come around the corner, and there they will be, playing. Well, at least the older one will be sitting and interacting and the younger will be beaming and laughing."

It just gets better from that point on. They are totally best friends and buds! If one wakes up before the other, the awake one wakes the sleeping one. Off they race to play cars, airplanes, transformers, Legos, play dough, ice cave......

Right now they are upstairs jumping off their beds and the train table. Television is always the last choice for entertainment. They have each other.

They do enjoy a little U-tube. They are in to the Chipmunks, Chip and Dale. I hear them play the parts. They have squeaky voices. The youngest is always Chip. The older, Dale. They are always on adventures with an imaginary Donald Duck.

It reminds me of us, my sister and me. We always played runaways. She was 12 and I was 11, actually we were both much younger, but in our minds 12 and 11 were the coolest ages ever. We always ran away from some evil, old lady who was trying to keep us prisoners in the truck cab. Very exciting and very real.

We take great comfort in each other. We are the only ones in the world who share the same childhood, same memories, the only ones who know our parents, really know them. We often process through our childhood experiences and impressions together. When our parents are gone, we will have each other, and some how that will keep the past alive and real, tangible.

I love my sister. My boys love each other. This was all part of my evil plan, and it is working!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Our Latest Library Trip...

This was a good trip to the library, no real losers out of the bunch. There were, however, three picks that take the top prize:

Man on the Moon is very fun to read aloud. It has good humor for both adult and child, and if you are at all dramatic, you'll have fun with the various lines and phrases. And the images are a bonus! The artist has captured good emotion and characterization in Bob's face. Love it.

My four-year-old is beginning to like longer reads and is getting quite the active imagination, that is why Jack and the Beanstalk is a favorite of his. The pictures are very captivating.

Water is just refreshing. As you read it, you do feel like you are drinking a cool glass of water. Plus, the images are from many cultures and brought up many good questions from my sons, like, "Why don't those women have heads?" The women were from India and their heads were concealed by black scarfs.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Debate---Part One: Philosophy

I often find myself feeding the conversation with questions. I ask. I listen. They never ask. They might listen. I leave, and I am even more resolved that I will not homeschool my kids, at least for starters. (I give myself permission as a parent to always change my mind when it seems that it will be best for my children, my family.)

The homeschool rage is more of a Christian cultural movement. You'll have to excuse me for any stereotypes embraced by this verbal process against this choice for my family. The other day at my 4-month-old's appointment the Dr. found out that I stay home, breast feed, and plan on doing so for a year. Oh, and I knew the word spelunking. I guess that is way he asked, "So, do you homeschool." I looked at him and said, "No!"

A friend reminded me that I was homeschooling my oldest. I don't count preschool as homeschool especially when he was 3 when the school year began.

I am constantly running in to homeschool blogs and support groups for mom's who choose to teach their children outside of traditional institutions. But, where is the network for those moms and dads who CHOOSE to send their kids to public school? Or even a private school? This is a choice. This is a conscious choice.

As a parent I do not want to keep my children in any sort of bubble. My home is my child's safe place and place of comfort. It is a place of dialogue. It is already happening. They are already learning that the world is not a place where everyone thinks, believes and acts the same as we do. We've already learned a few new words at other houses that we don't use in our home, and that is OK. They learned the new word. They tried it out. They received the consequence. Now they know. They don't use the word. They know it exists. They aren't afraid of it. They are choosing to be different.

An older adult friend was having a crises of faith and asked me, "When did you learn that the world wasn't a good place."

"I guess I always knew this." If you read the Bible you know this. Read the Old Testament: flood, Philistines, Prophets of Bael....the list goes on, even in to the New Testament with Herod and his massacre of baby boys.

I don't want my children to be devastated when they discover that we've been sheltering them from reality.

I want my children to be equipped to see various ways of living and to choose the best way to live their lives. The world teaches this well. There are natural consequences for poor choices. My sons openly talk to me about what they see. They ask why, a lot. I am their parent. They trust me. I see this trusting relationship evolving as they continue on their educational path.

Is my plan flawless? No. Could it backfire? Yes. But, God never called us to raise perfect children. He calls me to raise my children into the Light. He is a relational God who wants relationships with his creation. That is my call as a parent, to guide them into this loving relationship. This is what I'm doing.

I don't always like what they learn and see in the world, but this is where we live. This is our culture. This is how we live a missional life. Christ didn't call his disciples and then build a house for them all to live and learn in. He went, called, and sent out. He lived and interacted. He is our example.

I'm sure there are many flaws in my theory here. I'm sure there are readers who disagree strongly with me and fear for my children. But, fear only cripples action. After I had my first I was consumed by fear. I now had someone in my life that I loved; if anything bad happened to them I would be forever altered. I could choose to hold on even tighter, or I could return them to the care of God. Each night as I rock my new baby to sleep I look into his eyes and think, "He is yours God. Not mine. Remind me of this when bad things happen to him. May I release my need to control, but give me wisdom to guide and grow him into the Light."

This is my goal as a parent, not to get them ready to be adults, but to help them live now. We are to live now and be now, not just get ready to be 18 years old... when we are adults and can all of a sudden totally handle the bubble bursting. Our missional lives begin from birth.

This is the philosophy behind my choice. Next I'll discuss the reason I'm choosing institutional school for academic reasons. Remember, I was a passionate and excellent middle school teacher in the public schools before I became a parent, and I actually think I would be a good homeschooling mom, however, I think the institutional school is better....for a number of reasons.

I'd love to hear your reactions. I'm taking quite a risk, since I am feeling more and more like a minority in my opinion in this schooling debate.

I guess I was inspired to write this today after I had a conversation with a mom who sends her kids to public school and said, "I just sometimes feel like I'm making the less holy choice by not homeschooling. That is how moms who homeschool make me feel." That might not be the intention, but that is definitely the feeling many get.

Oh, and I will also be processing the positives of homeschool, highlighting those that I think are doing a good job of it and for the right reasons. So, come along on my journey. Maybe we can learn and grow from this.

It will be interesting. There are huge groups of "graduating" homeschoolers coming of age now. I wonder what impact that will have on our communities, if any.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Summer, a Good Time to Write?

I'm having a hard time making myself write. The sun is out! My garden is growing, meaning the weeds are growing. My 2nd is potty training. My baby is napping, for the moment. And my oldest is just fun. I want to be. Be as in experience and live it up! I want to enjoy Otter Pops with my boys. I want to tan these white legs. Ok, just get some freckles. I want to wear my sunglasses and read a good book.

I want to think about interesting plots and stories that I can write when the rains return to the Oregon landscape.

This is not a good season for a writer. I could write in the evenings, which is what I put on my lists every night. But instead, I take extra long tucking the boys in bed. I sneak into the kitchen and find a bite of paradise for my palate. I relax to So You Think You Can Dance. These are the things I find myself doing. And, I think I might do one of these right now!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Dutch Brothers, Oh So Cool

“Free” read the sign outside the drive-up coffee establishment. Free. This is a word that calls to my inner being. I couldn’t refuse its draw, even when I had a little boy strapped in his car seat already pushed way past his nap. I’m not even a coffee drinker, but how could I refuse the lure of Dutch Brothers and the possibility of coming away with a free drink? I couldn’t.

The line of cars was long and any sane mother who puts their children first would have kept driving, but my selfish flesh prevailed and into the line of the very cool I filed.

Cool you ask? Yes, cool. Why is it that everyone who works at Dutch Brothers is “super cool?” All the girls are under 18 and wear tight, low-rise pants exposing a perfectly tanned torso followed by a snug white t-shirt exposing their budding womanhood. They smack their gum in that certain cool way.

The males who claim barista knowledge inevitably don a baseball cap and shout really loud to you over their rockin’ tunes. They are hyper, and it is not from the coffee. They all seem to really care if you’re having a great day or not, and you have this feeling that this is a part-time job to supplement their career as a local youth pastor.

As I sat in this line with my child-bearing hips feeling wider and wider by the moment, I thought, “I am really not cool.”

The hip-hop music beat its way across the pavement from the large speakers rented for the grand opening event. Air was being pumped heavenward through parachute material tubes while low-rise clad women were waking up and down the line of cars handing out all manner of Dutch Bros. paraphernalia.

Everyone working oozed confidence as they swaggered up and down giving high fives to other “totally cool” persons. No high-five came my way.

By this time my son was expressing his frustration with large crocodile tears. I debated pulling out, but I was getting so close, only five cars away from the drive-up window; I had waited so long already.

Free. Free. Free. I kept repeating this mantra. I let Bren, my son, pull all the diaper wipes out of the container just to keep him happy. I even found a dental floss dispenser, and I let him pull to his heart’s content. I would break all my no-no’s just to keep him happy a few more seconds. I had to get my free drink.

By the time I ordered my decaf mocha the back seat was in full hysteria, and I knew I had made the wrong choice. I stared into the young abs that greeted me at the window and thought, “When did tulips and windmills become symbols for coolness? Did I miss something? What kind of marketing research did the Dutch Brothers do before they started their coffee business?”

I certainly would never have guessed that these pictures of Holland would be plastered over middle school binders and lockers. But then again, I don’t find dried baby snot on my shoulder to be any reason to change my shirt.

I took a sip. Was it even yummy? Bren thought so, and it was free, so it must have been. I drove my completely not-cool adult self back to my humble abode realizing my days of size three anything, flip flops, and tight screen tees were tucked far away in a neon pink foggy past of 1980’s pegged, acid washed jeans.

(This was first published in 2006 when I was a mere mother of one. But a recent trip to Dutch Brothers brought it all back. The gal who made my mocha was wearing less material on her body than my 4-month-year-old. It just totally cracks me up that Dutch Bros. has this image no matter what drive-up you seem to use.)

Sunday, June 7, 2009

What We Are Reading

Every two weeks we make our exciting venture to the library; remember we are basically a 30 drive from every excursion of note. The boys always pick out two new puppets, while I hurriedly get a bag load of kids books to read. I grab with little time to really analyze. I chose books for my sons based on the title and front cover.

There are usually a hand full of major winners and one or two bombs.

So, here are the top picks from this last trip to the library:

My 2-year-old's favorites:

My 4-year-old's favorites:

The one I hated and hid after one read:

Thursday, June 4, 2009

If It is Wet and It is Not Yours Don't Touch It

Once a year all educators are supposed to watch a bodily fluids training video. We all sit and stare at the same video we watched the year before and the year before that. We know we will get to watch this film for at least 27 years, each year of our public service, until our retirement. I might miss the film after 27 years of viewing and get my own personal copy, probably not.

But, the film can be summed up in with one clever line, "If it is wet and it is not yours, don't touch it." We are given red bags with gloves and bandages. If the students ever came to me bleeding I just pointed to the bag and let them deal with it; I taught middle school. Now, if they threw up, I always called the janitor. I believe fiercely in the quote above.

However, as a mom, "If it is wet and it is not yours, you will touch it."

Tuesday my oldest woke up and vomited. This happened three times. Then when I thought things were calming down, he came racing out to the garden with blood dripping down his face and into his mouth. His younger brother had thrown a toy car at his face. I proceeded to clean him off and follow his bloody trail back into the house. There were red traces on all the door handles and in each room he had raced through to get to me in the garden. I touched it all. No gloves. No kit to tote around. The whole time I smiled remembering that I shouldn't be touching this wet stuff that was not mine.

Snot is something that I touch on a daily basis. Having three kids under the age of four means that snotty noses are a constant. Usually the boys run up to me and then rub their little noses on my upper arms. My oldest has stopped this and now runs to the bathroom to get a tissues, but with allergy season upon us he sometimes sneezes and snot explodes out of his raw little nose and dangles between him and the carpet below.

Over Christmas my husband slept with our oldest when our oldest was severely sick. I think my husband was vomited on at least two times that night. He never got sick. I was totally impressed and knew this was one of the many reasons I married the guy.

Tuesday was a rough day. I got little done. I guess what I got done was taking care of my sick child, but this is hard for the Martha in me. I have lists. I have goals. I want to look back at my day and see that all I created was and is good.

Wednesday came. All was well. The boys were both good. Our oldest was back. They played and were inseparable. I accomplished much.

Today was supposed to be another day of great accomplishment. I need to clean my house, my sister is coming this weekend to work on her scrapbooking. We are heading over to Sun River. I have packing to do and meal planning. Oh, and then there is this little hallway painting project I wanted to finish up, but I think I'm going to have to release all of that.

This morning my middle son barfed right into a toy tub.

Monday, June 1, 2009

The Garden of Contentment

This past week of sun and sky has made me feel completely blessed to be where I am. These are some pictures to help capture my contentment. Going from living in town, with the roar of 99W to this, oh, how good it is. We went from never seeing a sunset, to now seeing one every night. We went from seas of traffic to seas of white clover. It is good to get back to space and view.

However, I was content living in the "city" too. I was not at first. Both my husband and I felt very trapped by all the cement. I remember looking at parking lots and thinking about all the yummy soil that was buried alive under there, that had life to give, but now couldn't. Other things also contributed to my feeling of unrest. I prayed for a spirit of contentment, and it came. I loved my life near the hustle of Portland, but it is so good to be back where my soul was raised and I first heard God. In so many of these settings I spent time just listening and talking to God.

The other day I saw my oldest stretched out in the grass, with his arms under is head. It looked like something from a Huck Finn novel. I smiled. He was experiencing God through God's creation.

Reminds me that God created a garden for his first people, not a city with cars and exhaust. It is good to return to the garden, good for me and my family.