Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Gift Card Holder with Style

I scoured Pinterest looking for a creative way to dress up a restaurant gift card for my bosses retirement dinner but came up with very little. I did see one idea that I liked but there was very limited detail on the photo I could find so I just kind of made it up as I ant along. My nine year old provided constructive criticism as I went along and help here and there with the actual assembly, which took place in the last hour before I had to leave for the party. Procrastination is one of my specialties.

I purchases a silver plate from the dollar store and then used scavenged birthday party left overs for the decoration. A scrap of scrapbook paper made the tag and the glue gun was pivotal. All in all it was a fun quick project that I thought others might enjoy trying. It really made the presentation of the gift card much more special for such a special occasion. 

Thursday, August 20, 2015


One of our favorite past times is camping. Or is it RVing? I don't know that I have ever take our Camper RV-ing. I associate RV-ing with cooking indoors in a kitchen and watching TV. It's along the same lines as "hotel camping" except you bring your own room, which is all fine and dandy except that is not the experience we enjoy. Since we do have a camper I wouldn't say that we rough it but most of the bells and whistles in our camper are neglected on our trips. We have never used our cable hook up nor have we watched tv while camping. Even with a sink I do find it easier to wash dishes outside and then bring them inside to rinse them in the sink.

For us camping is about being outdoors experiencing nature and new adventures. We are the dummies who fit everyone under a tarp including the dog while the rain pours down around us rather than going inside where electricity and a comfy couch await us. More often that not we cook either on the grill or over the fire, scrambled eggs on the grill is always fun.

We use the time to connect together. I get the best stories out of the kids when we are sitting by the fire. I get to see them wander off a little further in unfamiliar areas and test new skills. We have explored many different terrains and learned about the animals and plants in each area. Camping has given us an opportunity to relax with old friends and meet new ones. The kids get to play with kids from all over the country and learn about what games are cool and what words are common place in different areas.

I love the chance to just escape reality for a short period whether its 15 minutes from home or hours away. Another really great thing about camping is that it can be very inexpensive. One year we went away on vacation to the beach and spent a ton of money on just a hotel room and eating meals out. The next year we purchased our first camper (secondhand) for about the price of that one vacation but had six camping trips to look back on.

I do miss the days of tent camping but I have to be honest with 3 kids one of them an infant it is nice to have the camper when the temperatures and humidity are super high. We also have been camping where it has rained for three days straight and that camper was such a blessing because after a day of playing outside in the rain we were able to escape to some where completely dry to sleep. This year we will be using our camper for the first time in the  "off" season to try out some cool weather camping which should be fun. Oh and my favorite part of camping is that no matter where we go and what adventures await us I always get to go to sleep in my own bed which is one of the greatest feelings in the whole world. 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

No Excuses

When summer first started I had ambitious plans for all of the cool adventures we would take and fun things we would discover and then the reality of having an infant in the house knocked me right off my fun wagon. I longed for the day when leaving the house did not involve making sure that I had wipes, diapers, a change of clothes, pacifier, toy, car seat, blanket, carrier, and maybe a stroller. Oh and lets not forget to make sure that I am wearing something that not only fits halfway decent but allows me to nurse without feeling like something is hanging out of place. When it takes this much thought and planning for getting one child out of the house, managing to get all 3 out for something fun just seems nearly impossible and I find myself holing up in our own little home and garden area feeling like the world is having fun without us.

My husband has this saying that he is always telling one of us, be it himself, me or the kids. "If you want something bad enough, you will do what ever it takes to make it happen. If it's not that important that you want to make it happen then you can't complain about it not happening". Touché husband, touché.  So yesterday I decided to make fun and adventure happen. We all loaded into the mini van with wipes, diapers, change of clothes x3, pacifier, toy, carseat, 3 water bottles, 3 granola bars, 1 blanket, 4 bandaids (just in case), and camera. We packed enough for a whole day but we set off to enjoy one hour by the creek.

Moments after we arrived creekside the oldest was stung by a bee and the youngest pooped through her diaper and on to her clothes. A few deep breaths, one diaper, one onsie and a few tears later we all regained our composure and went on to have a fun day. The big kids splashed in the water and jumped on the rocks. They skipped rocks and chased fish together while enjoying every wet, muddy second. The baby was placed on her blanket in the shade on the grass where she promptly rolled into the grass and gathered it by the fistful. She was dirty within seconds but she was so happy. I took the time to enjoy the trees blowing in the breeze while inhaling the fresh warm air. I enjoyed the sound of splashing kids who amazingly did not fight once and sound of the cicadas and birds provided background noise. We left after a little more than an hour feeling refreshed with a fun story to share over dinner that night. There was the harrowing tale of the battle of the bee and adventure of rock climbing through the 'rapids' to tell. I also got to tell my other half thanks for reminded me to stop making excuses and go for things I really want.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Early Mornings

Little Squirt has been gradually waking up earlier and now her routine is to wake up in the 6 o'clock hour.  I am not going to lie, the change in routine has been difficult for me. I love mornings but I have a hard time getting up early as my body tends to really function best between the hours of 9 pm and midnight. As a result of getting up early I have been forcing myself to bed earlier and earlier which cuts down on the amount I can get done at night but I have been enjoying the mornings more now that I am more alert and less grouchy. I am not convince that I will ever be a true morning person just more tolerant of them for the time being, especially when the little one who wakes you up feeds you smile after smile. The good thing about a baby who wakes early is that she also naps early which has given me a chance to accomplish somethings before the day gets away from me or I get too tired. Writing has been one of the things that I am gradually working back into the routine which is calming for me and sets me into a rhythm for the day. My oldest works on her own breakfast enjoying the time with me in the kitchen before my little guy wakes up and causes the general chaos that is in a word, boy. He and I have started to read Tom Sawyer together in attempt to show him that his behavior is very common among characters in books and that even though it may feel like he is always getting the stern look or reminder to use his manners, he is in fact a good boy who rises to the occasion when needed. It is hard work raising a boy, heck it is hard work raising any child, especially when it's early in the morning.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Change is coming

For the past two days the weather has cooled off a bit, a reminder that the change of seasons is not that far away. We are prepping for back to school already. The kids have their assignments to do each day and that time is allowing me to get back into the practice of writing while over seeing and helping them. Most of the work is review so that when they head back to school it will be fresh in their brains again but some of the work is fun stuff. All summer long I have been able to sneak in little learning sessions with cooking and baking projects and outdoor activities. My little guy, who is not so little anymore, heads to kindergarten this fall and I can feel the conflict in him as one minute he tries to be a big guy who doesn't need him mom anymore while the next he brings me a flower from the yard and wants to sit on my lap. After all of my encouraging hopefully he realizes that he can be both a big boy and 'my little guy' all at the same time.

Stormy is enjoying the cooler weather by sneaking up on the couch and snuggling in with the kids blanket. Poor dog lives a very uncomfortable life I'll tell ya. The break in record high temps has also provided a great environment for canning. The garden all of a sudden went crazy producing everything all at one time.  In an effort to keep the veggies from spoiling we made 5 pints of tomato sauce, 5 pints of hot salsa, and 7 pints of fresh fiesta salsa (our favorite recipe). I have also been amazed by the growth of our little squirt. She seems to grow by the minute these days. Now that she is 5 months old we are working on solids, right now it is more for her personal enjoyment than anything else. She loves to watch us eat and try to grab all the food out of our hands. I think she would do a lot better with learning to eat if she could sit independently but she has little to no interest in learning how to do that no matter how often we practice. I am happy with the fact that she is still very much like a little baby and I love how little her feet and hands are. Babies always look bigger in pictures than they really are so I try to get a shot once in a while that shows them in proportion to someone else, like her big sister.

I am looking forward to all the things my oldest will experience once the new school year starts but I am not looking forward to the crazy schedule that comes along with the fall. This time of year always feels like a big sigh to me. It is that moment when summer starts winding down and you take that big breath and exhale right before beginning the school year marathon.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The Last Ditch Effort

I love our little yarden (yard/garden). We have made numerous improvements over the years but there is one area of the yard that has me stumped. I have learned some lessons from this area of the yard which for some reason I chose to ignore this spring.

Again I find myself looking at this desolate little plot wondering what to do with it as the weeds grow several feet high and become the bane of my neighbors. I decided to do some research and came up with a new idea, a rain garden. Yes! This is exactly what my little water logged plot of land needs to live up to its potential. 

A rain garden is a... I'll just let wikipedia tell you here

I looked at a list of local vegetation that would work well in a rain garden and I just happened to have a large day lily, and two volunteer hostas growing in one of the flower beds. I decided to move those into the new rain garden. In the coming weeks I will divide and move a phlox once the flowers are through and this little rain garden will be off to a great start. I decided to add rocks to help with soil retention and water drainage and the final touch is a piece of tree root that we dug up at some point that has been just lying around. Not to bad for a last ditch effort of making this area pretty and functional. I am still exploring the option of a dry well for the other side of the yard that will help this area as well.

Monday, August 3, 2015

JulyAugust 2015 Homestead Photo Tour

Zucchini for Days

My pile of weeds; my calling card much to my husbands distain. 

Ever faithful companion. 

Baby by the garden. 

The haul, all the work is worth it on a day like this. 

A rainbow of tomatoes. 

Happiness is Not Perfection

The summer air is hot and humid here in the North east. The days feel entirely way too long and entirely way too hot yet, at the end of the day the accomplishments feel short by comparison. The challenge of meeting the needs of a now 5 month old as well as two other children leaves me with a longing desire to be more productive on the home front. For a while I was voicing my frustrations to my husband and calling it things like, unhappiness and loneliness and incompetence.

It isn't until now that I finally got the babes nap schedule straightened out and have accepted that it is just easier to let the older two run wild (except for the periods of the day where they need to work on school work or help around the house) that my true thoughts on these feeling were able to float to the surface of my mind.

I voiced unhappiness at the fact that my house is "dirty, my kids are "crazy, "my baby "needs me all the time", and lastly "I have no time for myself". On a day of clearer thinking though I see that my house is not dirty, it is cluttered from a day of activities, camping trips, crafts, toys and other childhood debris. Underneath it all the house is actually quite clean. Sure my kids maybe crazy. They are crazy hungry all  the time (I swear I feed them every 15-30 minutes). They are crazy adventurous, crazy silly, they fight like crazy and they love each other like crazy. They are loud, and always dirty and this time I really mean it, they are dirty. Like sweaty, muddy, sopping wet, stinky, dirty kids. At least until bath time when we lather, rinse and repeat it all the next day. Each day my baby truly does need me all the time. She needs milk, love, reassurance. She also needs me to help her explore the world. To help her put her toes in the grass, poke her finger at the flower and then remove the flower from her curiously strong little fist before she eats it. She needs my hugs and smiles just as much as I need hers. Have you ever had a little one just grip you up and pull themselves into your body with all the strength they can muster? It is HEAVEN! The only thing in the world that beats baby hugs is baby kisses, those mouth wide open, slobbery, tongue up against your cheek while smiling at the same time baby kisses. Here I thought she needs me all the time but I am suspecting I need her more. Lastly lets not forget that I also complained of not having time for myself. This is a matter of perspective, I think. I may not have a whole day to myself but I do get a few minutes each morning for my coffee. I spend sometime each day working on improving my body by stretching, weight  lifting, or some other form of exercise.

The common theme in my own thoughts that I am finding is that the lack of perfection=complete failure. I am not lonely. In fact I am the exact opposite of lonely; I am out numbered. I long for adults who share common interests with me to spend a large portion of quality time with yet I  am guilty of not enjoying the company of the others who walk around the farmers market with me each Saturday morning. I am not an incompetent parent, wife, friend, daughter, employee. I am human. I have good days, bad days, and better days. In each of these cases and many others that I can't quite recall, the ability to achieve perfection inhibits my ability to enjoy the small wonders of each day.

I had a friend put up a Facebook status that read, "I give up on happiness, instead I am hoping for peace". What if we all gave up on peace or perfection and allowed ourselves happiness. Happiness is not a neat little package all wrapped neat and tidy. Happiness is more like the silver lining. It is the slight little feeling of contentment that we blow off because the details weren't just right.

For now I am going to enjoy the satisfaction of few quiet minutes spent gather some thoughts and stringing together some sentences. Just enough time and just enough words to justify the contentment I feel at the completion of this task.  I am happy with this imperfect little post that sets my mind right.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Full Swing

Life is a constant routine of diapers, cat naps, run here, run there, rinse, lather, repeat. Summer is in full swing and both older kids are home everyday and baby is growing older by the minute. I am trying to give them each the time they need from me. They are at ages where they need guidance from me in different ways.
Little guy, at 5, is now exploring his first bout of independence. He spends time going off on his own to create and imagine. He is also over taking much of his self care and meal preparation. Snacks are easy to reach and lunch items are simple items that he can create his own meal from by mixing and matching. He has shown great interest in learning how to cook so we have been doing a lot of cooking together.
My older girl has been cooking up a storm lately. Breakfast has become her specialty. She also is exploring her independence. At 9 years old she is starting to really like her own personal space from time to time. Her social life is also starting to take off, she wants to spend more and more time with others girls.
Baby girl is devoting all of her time to eating and trying to figure out how to catch up with the big kids. Naps are few and far between this months but night sleeping is great.
I feel like I live my life in 5 minute increments. A quick bite to eat here and there maybe a minute to wipe a counter. I haven't been able to spend much time out in the garden due to time and the fact that 95 degree temps make baby very grouchy, I can't say I blame her though.
All in all we are on the borderline between thriving and surviving each day. It's a constant back and forth and sometimes I question my sanity but I wouldn't have it any other way.

Since it's Friday maybe later I can have a glass of wine and toast to living to living the good life.

Friday, May 8, 2015

No Added Sugar Day 5

Friday was an on your own breakfast day. I had a banana and coffee. My youngest had nuts along with a green apple. My oldest had a banana and nuts. My husband surprisingly chose to have a banana and orange again for breakfast.


My oldest packed her own lunch she again had peanut butter on whole grain no sugar added bread along with a side of orange and water to drink. My son and I had leftover gnocchi with cheese. My husband had leftover chicken and vegetables. 


Dinner was spent our first night at the campground we had hamburgers with whole wheat no sugar added buns and salad with no sugar added dressing. We had watermelon for desert.

I have to admit this was the night we decided midway through the challenge that we would have a second desert with real sugar. We had our summer camping favorite, s'mores with a predetermined amount for each of us.

The end result of the challenge is that we technically failed since we stopped at day 5. We learned a lot in those five days about our food choices. We learned a lot in those five days about our children. I really enjoyed watching them develop their taste buds for healthy foods. I was surprised how my daughter is similar to my husband in that they would eat the same thing everyday without complaint while my son and I tried to vary our diet each day. I was shocked by how long it took to make a homemade breakfast first thing in the morning with one hand while trying to feed a baby and getting everyone out the door quickly. The biggest hurdle though was that food is such a social interaction item. In school the kids were faced with friends birthday celebrations and special treats other celebrations. My husband and I were faced the relationship between certain events and food, the camping for example. Undoubtedly any time we wanted to spend time with someone food would be involved and we were constantly scrambling to explain what we were doing and try not to be rude to our hosts while trying to stay on track, sometimes that meant turning down a refreshing drink or cocktail and substituting water. No popsicles for the kids when the weather turned 80 degrees and friends were cooling off in the shade with popsicles. Sugar is EVERYWHERE in insane amounts.

The takeaway from this for us is that as long as we avoid processed foods we can avoid most of the added sugars. That will be our biggest long term goal is to completely wean off of processed foods and it will be a hard goal. It takes time to make your own salad dressing and condiments but I think in time we will develop a good rhythm and routine. We will be trying to use maple syrup and honey as our sweeteners, this will be so hard for me as I am a white sugar and carb girl all the way. It will be worth it though. In just a weeks time I dropped a pound and felt the bloat in my belly decrease. Our moods were more even keeled towards the end of the week after we really battled through the cravings. The basis of the diet is true if you cut our sugar you WILL feel better but at the end of the day sometimes you have to enjoy life and share a drink with a friend and eat that slice of cake on your birthday, we only get so many birthdays in a life time you know. 

Smoothies and salad for lunch the second day

Steak, potatoes and asparagus for dinner the second day

Thursday, May 7, 2015

No Sugar Added Diet Day 4


Day four we had to rush out the door early for a dentist appointment breakfast was a quick egg scramble with cheese.


The oldest took her peanut butter on whole wheat sugar free bread for lunch with sides of snack fruit and two pieces of beef jerky along with a water bottle. My little boy and I for had some gnocchi along with peas and carrots. Sides were strawberries and some pepperoni. 
My husband had a lunch salad with pepperoni, cheese and all sorts of vegetable toppings that he could find refrigerator.  Including avocado and the leftover mango salsa from the night before's dinner.


Dinner was very simple grilled chicken breast with salt and pepper with sides of peas, carrots and broccoli along with leftover wild rice from the previous night.  I had my dinner at work while the rest the family stayed home and packed for our first camping trip of the season where we will finish out our no sugar diet while enjoying the great outdoors and really trying to push the limits our commitment.

Previous Posts:
We have lost our minds
Getting Ready
Day 1
Day 2
Day 3

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

No sugar added diet Day 3

Stocked Full of Good Stuff

Breakfast today was mini quiche and pancakes again. My husband had two oranges and a banana again. 
For lunch my daughter took strawberry grape and honeydew fruit salad. Along with a bottle of water and a container of tuna fish. Little guy and I had pepperoni cheese strawberries honeydew outside on the picnic together. My husband a salad again with fruit

For dinner we had pork chops with mango salsa made from scratch along with wild rice and corn. Dessert was again fresh food option

We have been doing very well the kids of been discovering the new case and enjoying trying different foods but we almost met our match ice cream truck that drove by the house. One minute everything is going fine the kids are proud of their new diet habits and then an ice cream truck sound was heard both of them were very upset over the fact they could not eat ice cream. After some consoling and reassuring that the leak was almost finished the kids felt better looking forward to the time that they can have the ice cream without breaking the rules of the challenge they really do enjoy a challenge. That night however it was my turn to have my meltdown along with restricting sugar we had been restricting some refined carbohydrates as well and one temperature dropped in the tiredness said and all I wanted to do was eat something warm and comforting and carbohydrate filled I ended up having a piece of whole wheat no sugar added bread which fulfilled that that craving that I was having. 

And then because I had cave on the carbohydrates I promptly made my oldest child a peanut butter on whole wheat sandwich for lunch with no added sugar and either peanut butter for the bread.

Previous Posts
We have lost our minds
Getting Ready
Day 1
Day 2

Monday, May 4, 2015

No Added Sugar Day Two

Breakfast was much easier this morning due to preparing the food the night before. We had options of homemade pancake batter sweetened with a little bit of applesauce and mini egg quiches made in a muffin tin utilizing our peppers, mushrooms, onions, cheese and pepperoni. My husband again chose to have a breakfast of one banana and two oranges (clementines).

For lunch today my daughter packed egg salad with a banana, some grapes, strawberries and water to drink. The boy and I had egg salad with cheese, pepperoni and grapes for lunch.  My husband had left over sausage and pepper from the night before.

For me snack was raw nuts. After school snack for the kids was cheese and homemade beef jerky.

Dinner on the second night was broiled tilapia with carrots and the leftover brown rice from the previous nights dinner. Followed again by desserts of grapes and honey dew.

Today was much easier for I due to the preplanned breakfast. The kids also knew exactly what they wanted to eat at meal times. The kids turned down an offer from a friend to have a popsicle, which I can't believe they did on their own. My husband though was given a good natured tease by co workers who placed swedish fish on his desk throughout the day.

Previous Posts
We have lost our minds
Getting Ready

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

No Added Sugar Diet Day One

Day one we started the morning out by having yogurt for breakfast. I wish I could say it was sugar-free but it was not, the kids had the leftover yogurt from the refrigerator. For my breakfast I made a concoction of oatmeal mixed with coconut milk and sliced bananas. Hubby had his usual banana and two oranges.

For the oldest child's lunch we packed up tuna and a container with sides of strawberry, banana and water to drink. Oh, and pistachios how could I forget those. The boy and I had tuna for lunch with sides of grapes and cheese. The man of the house had a salad topped with chicken and home made balsamic vinaigrette.

After school snack was quite an adventure we had strawberries, cheese, pepperoni and blueberries. One child particularly enjoyed the mozzarella, fresh mozzarella, while the other enjoyed extra sharp cheddar cheese. It was also really funny to noticed that my boy he really, really enjoyed the taste of fresh blueberries.

Dinner on the first night was pretty simple we had sausage with peppers and onions cooked on the grill because of the nice spring weather. Served with a side of whole grain brown rice. Drinks consisted of water sparkling, water and milk. We did partake in some dessert. The little boy really wanted some extra grapes so he had grapes and my daughter wanted strawberries again so she had more of those. My husband and I chowed down on some honeydew while we prepped breakfast for the coming days.

After completing one whole day I have to say the preparing breakfast is the most difficult. Our usual go to breakfast such as granola, yogurt and things like that are no longer on what we're aiming to feed our children. So now I'm trying to find new recipes to use that don't require cooking because of busy mornings and having to get to school.

My husband found himself fight many cravings during the day due to the office environment he works in and the accessibility of candy.

Previous Posts
We have lost our minds
Getting Ready

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Getting Ready for the Fed Up Challenge

In another post I explained what the Fed Up Challenge was but briefly it is a challenge to remove all added sugar from you diet inspired by the information presented in a documentary.

I have to give careful consideration to planning our meals for this challenge because as a nursing mom my well being and milk making abilities have to come first. I am taking care to make sure that I get the number of calories I need although I am hoping by changing the sources of these calories I will feel better. It is however much easier/quicker to eat 100 hundred calories worth of yogurt of cookies that it is to eat 100 calories of green pepper. I am hopeful that with the addition of healthy fats and whole grain carbohydrates I will have no problem maintaining the appropriate number of calories. This is not supposed to be a calorie restricting diet but still I will be tracking just to make sure.

To start we read all of the labels in our home and figured out which options had to go. Then we looked at what we do right when it comes to sugar. We formulated a meal plan and did the shopping. We took the kids shopping with us allowing them to pick what foods they wanted and we discussed food content and look at label with them as we went along. We put our sugary foods in a box and hid them away, well actually my husband did. A tired mother of three cannot be trusted not to cave under pressure and toss the kids a granola bar for a few minutes of quiet.

So Long Junk
 I am really looking forward to a week of watching my kids eat whole, healthy foods with as little preservatives as possible. I am hoping that we experience increased energy levels and the kids learn to like some new foods after cleaning them with a clean palette. I am however prepared for there to be much resistance and possibly withdrawal symptoms due to the amount of sugar our bodies are used to. We'll see what happens.                                       

Monday, April 27, 2015

We Have Lost Our Minds (The Fed Up Challenge)

There is a documentary titled Fed Up in which the relationship between childhood obesity and sugar intake is examined. Most people of course know that sweets can lead to weight gain so the movie follows several obese/overweight young people who with the support of their families have changed their eating habits to lose weight and get healthy. Armed with cupboards and fridges full of health foods, yogurts, low fat and low calorie snacks the kids give it their best but all end up failing at losing weight. All of the health foods show a have one thing in common, added sugar. 

The recommended amount of added sugar per day for a preschool aged child is 4 teaspoons or 16 grams. Everyday my preschool whole loves all carbs and sweets gets a 'healthy' snack of organic yogurt. The sugar count in this snack is a shocking 22 grams per serving. Shocking! By the time he has one snack he has had more sugar than he should consume in a day! That does not included te teaspoon of sugar (I mean 2 tablespoons of ketchup) he likes to use to dip his grilled chicken in at dinner time. 

For a long time we have been connecting his behavior to the foods he eats and have been working on improving his eating habits. Trying for more fruits, veggies, yogurt, cheese, & whole grains was our beginning goal then we cut out a lot of processed foods. When the baby came we found ourselves using more processed food snacks: granola, trail mix, and cereal. We found that behavior was becoming out of control for both kids and we were frustrated. After a talk about needing to find ways to again improve diet we sat down to watch Fed Up together not really knowing anything about it but with the tag line "Congress thinks pizza is a vegetable" we were drawn in. 

The result of watching that movie has lead us to do the challenge. We are only going to do a 7 day strict no added sugar plan for te whole family and see what we learn about our diet and our bodies. After that we will decide how we want to change our diet for the future we will use honey and maple syrup once the challenge is over the naturally sweeten foods most likely. 

I would like to share our journey and document how we feel and what we do. I also encourage you to do a quick estimate of your added sugar intake. Remember fruit and vegetable sugars are good just non of the hidden, sneaky sugars are. 

Any way wish us luck, we may be crazy. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Earth Day 2015

My son's preschool has a very open door policy for parents. We are welcome to come in and read a book to the class or help with special projects. This month parents were asked to share their profession or any other hobbies/skills they have with the class. Since today was Earth Day I volunteered to share my hobby of gardening with the 4/5 year old class.

The morning started with the teacher talking to the students about Earth Day and what it means. The kids offered up ideas for ways they could help the earth. Then in groups of three the kids came outside to the front garden area where I had set up with a trowel, plants, and water can. In each group of three I had one child dig a hole, one child set the plant in the hole and the last child watered the plant. It was an efficient system which is important when dealing with preschooler's attention spans.


It was very funny to see the differences in the kids. Some were gung ho about it while others had a just get it over with attitude. Dirt seemed to be a fear of most of the kids, some where leery to step into the flower bed and other were okay as long as in did not get on their hands or clothes. A few of them jumped in the dirt and got their hands dirty without second thought. It was really fun for me and I tried to make it fun for them pointing out worms and adding in fun tidbits.

At the end of the morning the flower bed was filled with pretty purple flowers. The kids then took off on a walk as a class to see all the changes that happened in the past couple weeks due to the arrival of Spring.


Over the next month or so as the plants grow and more blooms appear I hope that the children take pride in the work that they did. I also hope that they are encouraged to help out with planting at home or to ask the adults in their home to plant something because they had a fun experience at school. The class plants seeds for Mother's Day so hopefully their new found skill and the availability of a plant will give them the perfect opportunity.

Our next Earth Day adventure was going to the hospital I work at for the ground breaking ceremony for an education garden. I am very excited about this project and was looking forward to learning all about the initiative and seeing if there was any role I could play. As a nurse nutrition education and lifestyle modification are part of my daily patient interaction and I so happy to see something like this come to my facility where my patients can learn about and gain access to healthy foods. I wish we would have made it to this event so I could network in person but a storm forced the event indoors and taking 3 kids including a newborn to an indoor formal presentation seemed far from sensible. Now I will have to network via email.

I told you we were taking our simple life and garden show on the road. This is just the beginning of many ways that I hope to interact with the community.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

How to Kill Your Garden Plants

I usually like to write about all of the good things that happen around the house and garden in hopes that I may be able to encourage others spend more time in the garden or enjoying home life. Sometimes though, things do not go a planned or like a stubborn fool I go ahead with an idea despite prior experience that should make me think twice. 

Sometime last year I had shared a picture in a post of what used to be our small back garden. Thanks to the addition of a storage shed and some other changes, the drainage of the yard has changed and not for the better. I decided to test my luck by planting some seedlings back there because as usual I got carried away with my seeds. Of course the weather changed rapidly and that night a "passing storm" unloaded 2 inches of rainfall. My wonderful little garden was under about 4 inches of water by morning. 

This is after the flood. The white mild carton was covered by the water earlier in the day. 
Note to self next time please listen to the voice in your head that says, 'don't do it'. 

If you want to guarantee crop failure here is what you do:
1. Plant in a hurry (preferably as you try to rush the family out the door to an all day event)
2. Forget to check the weather or blow off the report as a nothing major is coming 
3. Ignore what you know about your land and plant where you think things should go, despite changes in the land (such as flooding)
4. Tell yourself that this year will be different (last time was just bad luck, right?)

Put all of these steps together and you can pretty much plan on killing all the plants in your garden or you could be much better than me and avoid all this by thinking things through a lot better than I did. Either way, I wish you happy gardening. 

Monday, April 13, 2015

The Recycled Gardener

Longer days and milder temperatures have lured me to the outdoors. Even though our last frost date is still a bit away I am trying to get things going in the garden. It is always a challenge to come up with unique rotation for the plants while adding new varieties to the garden. I have really come to love starting our own seedlings and I may have found a planting method that works for me and allows me to use items from around the house. My perfect planting container is old yogurt containers. Instead of using store bought pots I took a look around to see if there was anything that I could use within our home and found the mountain of yogurt containers in the recycling bin. The first year I started with individual serving yogurt containers because the kids were eating them for snack at school. This year I decided to cut down on our plastic container waste by buying larger containers of yogurt which meant I could allow my plants to get a lot larger before moving them outside into the soil.

Reusing Various Containers as Planters

I have also taken to using gallon milk containers or my husbands iced tea containers cut in half to put some of the larger plants in to keep them from becoming root bound while I wait for the ground to thaw and the danger of frost to pass. Another handy use for the tops of these containers is as a mini green house type cover for some of the early spring plantings during the cooler nights. I use these for my peas, which need to get in the ground early in the season in order to provided peas before the hot weather destroys the plant.
Mini Green House

The peas also need something to climb up which gave me another opportunity to use a discarded home product. Our 3 season porch has some wicker furniture which is at least 30 years old and despite our best efforts the coffee table of the set broke. First the glass and then one of the legs so we knew it was time for it to go but sending it to the dump seemed like such a waste when it has a great pattern for plants to follow on their journey up towards the sun.

Table Turned Trellis
What types of things do you use in the garden that would otherwise have been bound for the trash or recycling?

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Taking it on the road

The daffodils are up in our yard although the flowers have yet to make their appearance and the air is filled with the excitement and anticipation of spring.  The seedlings are really taking off now. The coming of Spring means that it is time for the work to begin. It seems that for the winter months the busyness slows to a gentle hum and at the first sign of spring there is a invisible motor that begins to roar to life propelling us to work  well into the summer.

Bartering has been very helpful to us this year. Seed trading has allowed us to share some of our favorite varieties with our friends and family. Also, a friend of our had plans to rent a tiller for his garden and we offered to go in on it with him since the fee is for a half day even if it is only used for an hour. It is a win win for everyone. He only has to pay half the cost and so do we and both of our gardens get done. 

Another exciting development is that I have found a group of people who share simple life interests similar to mine in my area. How our paths have not crossed before I don't know but I am excited to connect with them. 

I feel comfortable with the simple changes that have been made in my household and now I am ready to share what I have learned with more than just close friends, family and blog readers.  I will continue to share everything I learn with family, friends, and blog reader because they are near and dear to me but  I am ready to take this show on the road and hopefully help others in my community as I learn new things from them as well. There is something special about being able to teach and learn in a tactile way. I hope to keep you all up to date on what I learn and things that I am able to share and help others with. Spring is proving to be an exciting time around here. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

My Spot

A short time after we got rid of our cable, several years ago now, we found ourselves in a rut wanting to watch tv at night in the winter but also looking for something that would  allow us to converse with co-workers. You know, water cooler talk material. A family member lent us her Big Bang Theory DVD. The man and I shared some  laughs on cold winter nights and finally gained some understanding of the jokes and memes that the show made popular in mainstream culture. One of the common themes in the show is the rigid routine of one of the characters, Sheldon.  Everything in his life is so specific right down to his 'spot' on the couch and good luck to anyone who tries to sit in his spot. Back when we were watching the show I just wanted to this character to give it up already and try a different spot one in a while. Right now though, I find myself completely relating to the need for ones own spot that is special and not shared.

I have unintentionally created my own little corner in the home that is reserved for me and good luck to anyone who tries to sit there. In my case a rocking chair is my spot of choice. In this chair I feed and rock my baby. I help with homework and watch the kids play in the yard. I try to read a few pages of a book but seldom make past a few sentences before someone needs something of me. On one side of me hangs my latest experiment, cloth diapers, fresh out of the wash. On the other side of my chair is one of my greatest passions, the seedlings for this years garden.

The light from all of the windows lends a tranquilness to what would otherwise be a crazy place. The angle of the sun provides a warmth and indication of spring. The floor captures the toys that a five year old boy scatters about on his daily adventures. This is my 'spot' although I gladly welcome all into it so long as when I am ready to sit my chair is available because baby's need to be rocked and there's no better place to do that, than in a rocking chair warmed by the sun.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Awaiting Spring 2015

We are completely in survival mode around here. A two week old baby has taken over our household and I am at the beck and call of the little ones hunger cries for the time being. All around us though it appears that life continues as usual and the seasons change. In the weeks before the little one was born I was able to get most of our seeds started which gave us a much needed head start on the spring planting season. The seedlings have been bursting out of the dirt with fervor and even in the midst of our family chaos I have been able to keep up with watering them daily. The temperatures have become mild and we have been able to sneak in some much needed outdoor time and have enjoyed our fair share of stomping through the mud with snow boots on.

During one of our outdoor trips I had a chance to take a good look at the big garden which standing silently waiting for its turn to flourish again. The leaf mulch has broken down quite a bit and the compost bin is filled with broken down matter ready to add in. The first day of spring is looming on the calendar and the last frost date is quickly approaching. I am ready to move past the winter and enjoy the next season life has in store for us.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

An Update on Natural Labor Induction

I am happy to report that I am the proud mama of a new little girl. She is perfectly healthy and thriving. A while back I had written a post on natural labor induction techniques that I had been trying throughout my pregnancy to give my body the best shot of starting labor in its own for the first time ever. Well, I am not sure if any of them work or if the combination of all of them worked or if it all came down to the baby herself deciding she was ready to come but my labor did start all on its own this time. My water broke and I was able to have the completely natural delivery that I had always dreamed of having that involved walking, drinking, snacking and completely trusting myself to get the job done. It was pretty amazing.

Looking back on everything I still cannot pinpoint anything in particular that seemed to be the corner stone in starting labor. The least few days I spent a lot of time on a yoga ball just trying to ease some discomfort, but the baby was still very high even  according to a belly photo I took 5 minutes before my water broke. I continued eating dates in addition to a healthy diet and drinking raspberry leaf tea. I spent a lot of time in my own head encouraging myself and instilling positive thoughts and affirmations. My elliptical continued to be used  on a regular basis and stretching allowed me to remain relaxed. During my last midwife appointment we tried some more invasive methods such as stripping membranes. 

At exactly 39 weeks labor started and little girl made her arrival. The high of a great delivery was followed by some of the lowest moments of my life as complications in the days following threatened to change life completely. Thankfully I was able to get through those tough days and as happy as I am for the care and compassion of the midwives whole helped me achieve the natural arrival of baby I am also eternally grateful for the medical intervention that saved my life.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Natural Labor Induction

This blog post is not intended to diagnose or treat any ailment. It is not a replacement for medical treatment. Please seek the help of a trained medical professional if you feel you need it. This post is intended for reading enjoyment. 

Most women who have been pregnant know what it is like to wait 9 months to meet your little one and anxiously anticipate the first signs of labor. The small twinges that plagued you throughout pregnancy increase in frequency and duration until you know for fact your baby is coming. Other have the experience of having their water break. Then there a those like me who although have children never one experienced either onset of labor or in fact any onset of labor. Yes, I have made it fully to 42 weeks without ever having labor start, not even a false labor to get my hopes up. I have however been able to have 2 successful inductions resulting in healthy children.
This time with our third baby we threw caution to the wind. We decided to go with a midwife rather than an OB. We did not find out the gender and I am determined to have the completely natural child birth that I have always dreamed of. I headed into this knowing quite well that there is still the possibility that I may be one of those women who never go into labor on their own but by golly I am going to give it everything I have.

During my second pregnancy we tired walking, spicy food, relations, and pretty much all the common standbys with no luck. This time we will try all of those again but I have a few other options that I did not use last time that I hope will be just what I need. I have been drinking red raspberry leaf tea which is said to help tone the uterus. I have been eating dates which in a recent study that I read may help with setting the body up for labor. I have been enjoying the positive effects of the change in our eating habits over the past year or so of consuming mostly whole foods and few processed products. The elliptical machine is one of my favorite ways to encourage the baby to decent down a bit and stretching and meditating has been very helpful in relaxing both my body and mind. I have written down my worries and fears to try to get the negative energy out of my head. This pregnancy was my first time going to a chiropractor which has been a positive experience for adjusting the pelvis and preparing for labor.

At 37 weeks I have not really pushed for immediate labor but have just been trying to get me to be the best me I can be for the experience for when the time comes. As the weeks pass by if I make it to 39 weeks my midwife has approved for me to try acupuncture and if I reach the full 40 weeks I also have her blessing to try reflexology. All of the things have me more hopeful than ever for a natural onset of labor. Hopefully in several weeks I will be able to give a report on something that was helpful in giving my body the push it needs.