Monday, March 2, 2015


This is my closing post. I haven't updated "homefront" much since 2012-2013, and even then it was infrequent. Apparently my blogging heyday was during the era of one child, when though it didn't feel like it then, I had time and a little energy for it.

I loved this space for awhile, and I hope Jude will treasure it one day.

Bits of our life together are now shared from Instagram, where posting takes all of 30 seconds from start to finish. My username is "emklooster" if you want to follow.

Peace and love, 


Friday, January 30, 2015


We don't do a Christmas/update letter, but I think there is value in mulling the year over, and feeling a measure of gratitude about our growth and experiences.

Theo and Mae (October 2014)

Some 2014 highlights...

First, I was pregnant for most of the year. Highlight? Not really. Just a fact that affected my experience. We found out almost immediately after the turn of the year, initially an anxiety-ridden surprise that soon morphed into a source of joy.
  • We joined a new church that is about one-sixteenth the size of our former one.
  • My brother's band, Escondido, played Founders! We all went to cheer them on.
  • Jude played soccer with the parks and rec program and had a good time running around a field in a mob of short teammates. We made some new friends watching the games.
  • Jono and I saw The National play a show at Calvin and we were six feet from Matt at one point. He'd been drinking. The show was incredible - Mae's first, in utero.
  • My side of the family took a rainy, buggy camping trip to Sleeping Bear Dunes. It was kind of a pain and we decided never to tent as an extended family again.
  • The kids and I took a trip to Iowa with my family for my cousin's wedding.We caught up with family and canoodled with a tiny pig at one of their farms.
  •  We went to Lake Michigan for our anniversary and just sat on the beach for two hours, undisturbed. Our new idea of luxury since having kids.
  • We decided to send Jude to our neighborhood school, after a two-year process of mulling over all of the options, and even enrolling him at a different school first, until we saw there had been a tuition hike. He was off to kindergarten at Congress Elementary in early September!
  • Two days later, I gave birth to Mae Leona, and our family is complete, God willing. I took three months of maternity leave, and we spent our days feeding, sleeping, walking Jude to school and back, meeting great-grandparents, and going on fall hikes at Aman Park, Seidman Park and some trails near an orchard.
  • We went to Lake Erie to be with Jono's dad and step-mom for Thanksgiving. We hiked out to Point Pelee, the southernmost tip of Canada, and spent time gazing out at the lake from the two picture windows on their back porch.
  • We followed our new tradition again this year of getting a Christmas tree at the farmer's market, on foot.
  • I went back to work in December and things got real. Jude had his first Winter Program at school, which was kind of a mess, but also cute.
  • We were interviewed by our public school system for a promotional campaign that includes a set of parents from each school around the city. Suddenly as of January, we are on a local commercial, the radio and a billboard. The resulting fame has been overwhelming (just kidding!).
So there it is, 2014. We loved you. I hope you're grateful for your life this year as well, even if nothing is perfect.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

maple syrup fest

I plan to make the maple syrup fest at Blandford an annual tradition. Here's the fun from this year!

Learning about animal tracks

Checking if the sap is running

Boiling it down the way they used to

The last step in the process

Fuel for making the syrup

Saturday, March 9, 2013

jude and lucy

I don't know anything more pure than a budding friendship between pre-schoolers.

Jude hasn't yet noticed Lucy's arm around his shoulders. Give it 3, 2, 1...

Jude's friend Lucy comes over every few weeks for a morning to play. Her parents are friends of ours, and the two of them used to go to daycare together almost full-time for a couple of years where they apparently bonded for eternity. Or at least until kindergarten. Whenever they see each other again, it's as if no time has passed.

Lucy is opposite from Jude in every way. She loves chaos, naughtiness, hugs with people other than her mama, cheap thrills and making messes. I think her influence will do him good, and I approve of each and every time she force-kisses him, puts her arm around him when he's distracted and can't fight her, and/or splatters something on the wall near him so that he can tell on her.

The other day as she was leaving he refused her advances to hug him and she put her face right up to his and raised her voice, saying, "BUT I'M LEAVING NOW!" (As in, don't you understand the significance of this moment?)

When we asked Jude who his best friend was, he said "Mommy". I will tell him he said this when he is 15. We then said, "What about Lucy?" He got a huge smirk on his face, giggled and said, "Yeeeeees", all drawn out as if he was relishing each letter in the word.

Halloween 2012

These two are just my favorite.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

smoke ring for my halo

There's something about February and March that make me want to revel in melancholy. Kurt Vile's music is kind of far-off and intimate at the same time. This is the official video for his song, Baby's Arms off the album Smoke Ring for My Halo.

Just a little ear candy for this late winter thing we all have to slog through.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

making, doing

To pass the time well in winter, I've made a goal of either taking the boys on an outing or doing some sort of planned activity each day, so they spend only some of their time making their own creative fun while I get things done. For me, it's easier to connect and focus on them well in the warmer months when we can just run outside together or when it's obviously a great idea to go to the zoo because the weather's so good. In winter, it's easy for me to fall into a ho-hum pattern of ticking off the to-do list and letting them make their own fun, which is healthy at times, but not all the time.

I made the conscious decision to be an at-home parent for a few years, and I don't want to forget the most important component of that is my boys and the time I spend fully present with them.

(I like this poster, and this artist.)

By Danna Ray, on Etsy

In the planned activities vein, we've done some of these easy, at-home projects which took little effort but paid off in a learning experience and/or no-TV versions of entertainment.


We do a lot of scribbling, planned and unplanned. We've tried the approved surfaces like dry-erase and chalkboards and mirrors with dry-erase markers, and Jude has tried some non-approved surfaces like walls, bathroom drawers, and one small, premeditated scribble on the top of each of the books on our bottom shelf. He wouldn't be Jude if there wasn't some sort of order to what he was doing, even when misbehaving.

Theo's first scribble


Jude loves to paint too, and Theo pretend-paints next to him because he's too crazy to be allowed near real paint. Here's the bathtub version of that. I used Jono's shaving cream, a muffin tin and food coloring:

Jude painting with shaving cream and food-coloring, yay.

3) BAKING SODA AND VINEGAR (endless possibilities)

I don't have what it takes to be a kindergarten teacher, and the thought of homeschooling scares the living daylights out of me, so the prerequisite on everything we do is that it will take me no longer than ten minutes to get things ready. So obviously we had to try baking soda and vinegar experiments - big results for microscopic amounts of effort. I added food coloring to the vinegar for some added shazam.

He did this for half an hour.


On day we had Jude's friend Lucy over and we did some stamping with toilet paper rolls. I made simple stamp designs on one end of the roll by cutting about an inch up repeatedly and bending back the resulting tabs. They're primitive, but still appreciated by the three and four-year-old set.


The other day I tried a Montessori-type activity I found that was super complicated. I poured salt into a wooden box and Jude traced letters into it with his fingers, using his flash cards as a guide. I was sweating bullets after prepping that activity. Never again.


The furthest we've gone into craftiness is making snow globes together this past Christmas. It's a little tough doing this with a four-year-old, but I let him pour the glitter in and fill the jars with water, and that was enough for him to feel fulfilled in the project once he realized how fun they were when they were done.

We used old salsa and baby-food jars and plastic figurines from the craft shop, plus some water-resistant glue to adhere the figurines to the insides of the lids. You could toss anything into these: Fisher Price little people, transformers, or whatever small toys you have underfoot.


The last easy thing I've tried lately is cloud dough. Eight cups of cheap flour and one cup of baby oil in a plastic tub and we had an indoor sandbox. Jude made mini sandcastles using my smallest leftover containers to mold the towers. I have no photos of this because flour is boring to look at, and though I've already subjected you to the serene, non-events of our household, a photo of it crossed a line I had somewhere.

If you're a parent who prefers not to spend a morning prepping for a ten-minute thrill, these projects are for you :)