Sep 30, 2013

31 Days of Enjoying My Kid

I love my kids to the moon and back.  I swear it on my LIFE.  But some days I forget to like them.  Does that sound terrible?  Aren’t I supposed to like them just because they are fabulous little human beings and I’m supposed to be ever positive and supportive all the time always?  I feel guilty for saying it, I really do, but it’s just... kids are kids; and I’m not a kid.  Fart jokes and silly voices just don’t really do it for me any more.  And I get so busy focusing on the need-to’s, need to get dinner started, need to get that laundry switched, need to water that plant, the kids need to do their homework, need to do their 20 minutes of reading, need to finish their chores, etc etc, I forget to enjoy the people in my home.  When I’m tired and busy and the kids are supposed to be working on homework and instead they’re joking around in some loud obnoxious voice, I just get frustrated and annoyed.  This time in our lives together can be challenging and exhausting and sometimes I EAGERLY look forward to the day Mister turns 18, but most nights, after the kids have gone to bed, I realize that something good is happening here.  I’m afraid of getting to the day when they’ve all moved out and looking back and feeling like I missed it, like I was looking the wrong way the whole time, like I wasn’t paying attention.

I can’t stop caring about homework and making dinner.  I can’t stop doing all of these things that we do because we do them for a reason.  I can change my mind set a little though.  I've decided to participate in The Nester's 31 Day Challenge.  Every day I’m going to search for the things I like about my kids.  I’m going to enjoy one of them, two of them, or all of them, at least for a little while each day.  Sometimes it might just be something quirky they say that makes me laugh, and sometimes maybe it will be a special thing we do together to cultivate an interest we both share.  There are things about my kids that I absolutely like, and things that we love to do together.  This challenge will be about remembering to incorporate those things into our lives EVERY DAY by simply shifting my perspective a little.  And every day, I'll write a little about it here.  I think it’s going to be great for us.  Welcome to

Sep 27, 2013

Our Summer Garden... Attempt

I so badly want to grow my own food.  Our dream is to buy a farm house out in the country and surround it with fruit trees and vegetable plots.  We'd like animals, too, but we're far from deciding what we'd want to have around.  Maybe some sheep- homespun yarn for knitting, anyone?  Have you read about the process of turning wool into yarn, though?  Holy cow it looks intimidating.  We'll see about that one later. 

For now we live in a rental in town with a large, empty backyard.  This past spring, we planted a garden.  We had little to no idea what we were doing.  It seemed like every book I picked up was written in Britain, where the climate is a lot cooler and wetter than where I live.  Regardless, I pieced together information from books and internet searches and I made a plan.  So we churned up the ground and we pulled weeds and hauled away rocks and mixed in compost and it was exhausting.  We bought some seeds, some vines, strawberry plants, seed potatoes, and onion sets.  I even built a GREENHOUSE.  It's actually quite cute, and for the whole thing I only had to buy a few panes of glass and some hardware- all of the wood is scraps from my dad's house.

I used it to start many of my seeds in the very early spring, hoping that if I got a head start I would get a better harvest.  The beans, broccoli, and corn did pretty well, but it was still too cold for the tomatoes and peppers.  The tomatoes ended up doing great when I started them inside the house, but I never did get a damn pepper plant to grow.  Anyway, our seeds sprouting in that little greenhouse was a lovely sight on our porch all spring long.  In the end, we got a few handfuls of things here and there.

We got a few ears of corn, but they'd fallen prey to earwigs, so they were missing at least half of their kernels.  Our potato harvest looked pretty good I think, considering how few potato plants we really had.

Earwig damage on our corn...

My big, beautiful broccoli plants, that I had such high hopes for, were decimated by this little stink bug called a harlequin bug.

What I would really call a success are my tomato plants.  I questioned their viability over and over again, but they held on.  They really went nuts when we put in the wire cages for them to climb.  Our first tomato harvest was a little light, but currently the plants are covered in green tomatoes, and we're harvesting a few red ones every day.

These split when it rained.

We've got two different varieties planted.  The heirloom variety seems to be producing more, but the Arkansas Travelers are huge!  The plants got so big, they ripped their wire cages up out of the ground and actually tipped over.

The overall output of the garden was relatively small compared to how much time and effort it took, but I try to look at it as a learning experience.  I'm frankly ecstatic that we got anything at all.  It's kind of an amazing experience to watch a seed turn into a seedling and grow into a plant and then produce food.  And I'm excited to provide my kids with that experience.  I want them to be aware of where their food comes from.  Now, we're looking into planting a winter garden!

Sep 26, 2013

Fall, Finally

Hello!  Welcome to my first foray into blog writing, as opposed to blog reading and/or commenting!  If you haven’t already, please pop over to the About Us section so I can introduce myself and my family.  
Fall weather has finally hit our little section of Northern California, and we are loving it.  It’s actually cool enough to go outside in the middle of the day.  I know I know, small beans to some, but a real luxury around here.  We’re planning (and arguing over) Halloween costumes, (and I’m secretly already more excited about Christmas).  Slim, with her shorty short short bob hair cut, wants to be Katniss Everdeen, whose most defining characteristic is naturally her long braided hair.  A wig I guess?  We’ll just have to find one that doesn’t break the bank, and is comfortable enough for her to wear all night.  I think wigs are itchy, and won’t go near them myself, but if she’s really committed to her costume she might keep one on.

Mister was going back and forth between Sonic and Indiana Jones.  I was secretly rooting for Sonic because I found a sweet costume on Amazon for $14, and I’d really like to keep Halloween costumes easy this year. (I want to start working on Christmas!)  I thought I was being a good parent, keeping my opinions to myself and letting him pick on his own, but ever since he decided on Indiana Jones I’ve been kicking myself.  It seems to be working out, though.  I bought a pretty cool felt Indiana Jones hat at Good Will for $2, and I think we can wrangle up all of the other pieces around the house and in the dress up bins.  

My little Dear seems happy with her vampire costume, for now.  Sometimes I think she tries to make things difficult for me on purpose, because it makes her feel loved and special when I expel the effort on her.  All of my children are sensitive, but Dear is like an exposed nerve walking around on two legs.  She’s insecure, and struggles with trust and attachment.  I don’t blame her, it’s just her way.  I’m pretty emotional, too, and after what she’s been through it makes sense that she would doubt people and need them to prove themselves over and over and over again.  Knowing and understanding all that doesn’t mean it doesn’t drive me nuts sometimes, though.  
I like to sew, and I’ve probably made more for Dear, (skirts, doll blankets, bags, dress up clothes, etc...) than anyone else, just because she asks for the stuff, and I don’t mind.  So when she said she wanted to be a vampire for Halloween and wear her new gold and red cloak I’d made her, I was ecstatic.  But after further discussion, once she discovered that I wouldn’t sew her an entire new dress to wear under the cloak, she wanted to change her mind.  What’s worse is, she said she’d rather be a prom queen.  I have nothing against being a prom queen for Halloween, but I’ve spent the last 3 Halloweens with Dear and every year she’s been a variation on girl-in-a-dress-with-a-crown.  And in addition to vampire being convenient for me, I was excited that she was branching out.
If I was a “good parent” at this point I probably would have said something like, “Let’s not decide just yet, there are pro’s and con’s to both, blah blah blah.”  But I’m a person, and some times I just blurt things out.  I believe what I said was something more like, “You’re always a girl in a crown, you’re going to be something different this year.”  
To which she replied, “Well I’ll just make my own costume, then.”  
So I said, “Fine, so long as it’s not a girl in a crown.”

It wasn’t an especially productive exchange.  Later, after I’d had time to think about why she was changing her mind I was able to think about what I might have said differently.  We had another conversation about it, this time focusing on ways we show Dear we love her and why I didn’t want to spend a lot of time on Halloween costumes this year, and so far she’s back on being a vampire.  Honestly, I’m not sure which conversation convinced her to switch back.  It’s totally possible she just figures if she can’t be a girl in a dress with a crown then she doesn’t care what she is.  

Since the moment it came out of my mouth I’ve wrestled with whether it was right or wrong to flat out forbid a costume just because she’s done it so many times before.  Do I want her to broaden her dreams beyond being a pretty girl?  Of course.  Do I want her to try new things?  Definitely.  Are there more supportive and encouraging ways to expand her horizons?  Absolutely.  Does it really hurt her to essentially be a princess every Halloween?  Probably not.  Does it really hurt her to say she can’t be a princess every Halloween?  Probably not.  I’m not sure, what do you guys think?