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My First Garden

April 21, 2014

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I have always considered myself a person with two black thumbs. I have always managed to kill off every houseplant I have ever tried to grow. And yet, I love having growing things around. If it were not for my naughty kitty-cat Molly, who devours plants, I would have them all over the house. I have also dreamed all of my life of having land of my own to grow a garden on. Since buying the house in September, this is now a reality for me.

Several weeks back, the snow thawed away enough to reveal green shoots underneath. These have since grown tall, and revealed themselves to be daffodils. This week, just in time for yesterday’s celebration of Spring’s return, a few of them bloomed. It makes me smile every time I pass the garden to see the happy yellow flowers there.

There are new things popping up in other places around the house. Time will tell what they will be.

So here I am, experiencing my very first Spring with a garden, and with absolutely no idea what I am doing. I have zero gardening experience and a miniscule amount of knowledge. Thankfully, I know many people who do know what they are doing, and who are willing to offer info and advice. I also have plans to pore over some gardening books from the library. And there is always Google.

Today I finally dug in. I raked out all of the dead leaves and twigs. Grass had overgrown into the garden, and was surrounding the daffodils, I began digging and pulling it out. I unearthed some bricks, and used them to extend the boundary around the garden, where the wood border ended. After a while, I finished for the day. There is still a lot of grass remaining to be pulled, but it was a start for someone who has never gardened in their life.

I have plans, lots of plans. I am contemplating peonies or sweet william to join the daffodils in the side garden. Bushes are being removed from the front of the house, and a whole new gardening area will be created there. I want to grow container tomatoes and cucumbers and an herb garden on the deck this year.

Someday we will convert the car port into a greenhouse and grow oodles of things. We’d love to focus our energies mostly on edible things. This year though, it is our first in the house, and I am pregnant, so I am keeping it simple.

If you have any tips or anecdotes about gardening, or aspirations of your own, I’d love to hear from you in a comment!

A New Routine

March 26, 2014

a new routine
As I have mentioned before, this pregnancy has been a very rough one, making me feel sick almost all of the time. Through all of this, I have had a much harder time focusing on daily tasks, and fully being there for Simon on our days at home together. For a while, I often felt foggy, confused, and…kind of lost. At any given time of day I had no idea what we were supposed to be doing. Simon would ask “When is lunch?” and I would uncertainly answer: “Ummmm, right now?” We had no structure going from day to day, and I felt so much guilt because I know most children, including my own, thrive on routine. During a particularly difficult day over a week ago, I exasperatedly reached for my laptop and googled: “stay-at-home mom schedule”, hoping to find some inspiration that would get me back on track.

I spent some time reading blogs and articles, in which other stay-at-home parents shared their daily schedules, and tips for how they keep going without a boss or a deadline to keep them moving forward. I also reached out on facebook to other parents I know, asking how they structure their days. I got inspired to make a new plan for Simon and I.

One thing I noticed right away was how most others agreed that a rigid plan is a bad idea. The daily routine needs to be in place, but also be very flexible. Children are unpredictable. So is the weather, the budget, and the flow of life. One week might bring freezing rain every day, keeping us inside and unable or unwilling to go on a daily outing. The next week might require a lot of extra errands. I knew whatever plan I came up with could not be too strict or I would become discouraged when, inevitably, I could not keep up with it. It was to be more of a guideline than set in stone. Basically, I needed something to reference on my more foggy-brained days, when Simon asks: “What are we going to do now, Mumma?”

So, I typed out a routine for us to use on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. (The other two days of the week Simon has preschool, and I work at the Library.) Weekends are a toss-up and will change so much that there was no point in scheduling them. (Plus, Jeramy is home on the weekends to help me .)  Here is what I came up with:

~7am: Wake up time. Spend the next hour making breakfast, drinking tea, and shaking off sleep. Eat breakfast together at the table.

~8am: Getting dressed for the day. Shower if needed, get myself and Simon dressed, brush teeth.

~9am: Go somewhere, or go outside. Unless the weather really stinks, get out and run errands, have an adventure, or spend some time in the yard.

~11am: Prepare lunch together. Eat together at the table.

~12pm: Time Out. Simon can watch some tv or play quietly. I can use my computer or read. This is a good time for another cup of tea. Also a good time to blog.

~1pm: Activity time. Get out some art supplies, do some puzzles together, create a project, read aloud from our current chapter book.

~2pm: Time for a healthy, energizing snack. Smoothies, fruit, nuts, popcorn, etc. An afternoon pick-me-up. Enjoy the snack out on the deck if it is nice.

~2:15pm: Pick up time. Do some clean-up around the house. Put on some music, throw in a load of dishes or laundry, and do the chores that need to be done that day.

~3:30pm: Daddy is home. Depending on the day, different things may happen: family errands, Daddy and Simon playtime, Mumma working an evening shift, etc. Start prepping dinner.

~5pm: Dinner. Eat early because Simon goes to bed early.

~6pm: Pick up time. Simon picks up toys he has taken out. Mumma and Daddy pick up after supper. Tidy things up before bedtime.

~6:30pm: Start Simon’s bedtime routine: pajamas, brush teeth, sip of water, bedtime story, lullabies, tuck in.

~7pm: Mumma and Daddy can collapse on the couch.
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Last week was our first week with this routine. We have not yet fully conformed to it. One day Simon slept in late so everything was pushed back and we ended up skipping a few parts of the routine. On another day we ended up on a much longer outing than I had expected, and didn’t get back home until late afternoon. Today, we spent most of our morning reading books together, because it was too cold and windy for us to go anywhere. However, we have followed the schedule part-time. When I am not sure what to do next, I can simply glance at the clock and the schedule posted on the fridge, and feel reassured. I have been more productive and more present for my son. For this, I am thankful.

First Signs

March 20, 2014

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From the brave, early growth in my garden, to the sight of grass emerging through the melting snow, to the squishy mud beneath our feet. Spring is arriving, slowly but surely.

Feeding the Birds

March 16, 2014

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Yesterday, Simon and I decided to make some simple little feeders for the birds who spend a lot of their time hopping around in our front bushes. Months ago, he had made a bagel bird feeder as a project at preschool, and our little chickadees and a couple of cardinals really loved it. This time, we hollowed out an orange, and used the two halves of the rind as our bird feeder bases. (Simon very much enjoyed eating the orange as we worked.) Once we scooped them out, we spread a layer of peanut butter inside, and then sprinkled in a bunch of birdseed. (I forgot to put string through the orange before spreading in the peanut butter. If you make these, try to remember that step should come first, so your don’t have to deal with sticky peanut butter fingers.)

After a while, we looked out the window and our bushes were full of chickadee activity as they discovered our gift to them. This morning they were joined by some pretty red finches. When we first moved in, I wasn’t sure I liked the location of those bushes. Now I know they are in the perfect place for looking out the window and doing some bird watching. I definitely will be keeping them right where they are.

The Middle of the Night

March 14, 2014

The middle of the night. Three-year-old comes shuffling in, climbs onto our bed.
We ask him “What are you doing out of your bed? Are you ok?”

He says “I just want to sleep with you.” Past attempts at allowing this have proven that the child is incapable of allowing anyone else to sleep when he is in the room. He becomes like a giddy preteen at a slumber party and wants to chat and giggle all night. And kick us in the face.

Husband says: “Oh no. You need to go back into your own bed.” Instant wailing ensues. Confused by this strong reaction we attempt to reason with him. “Everyone needs to sleep in their own bed…you will be more comfy…you have all of your stuffed animals in there…it is the middle of the night.” We are pleading now.

We carry him back to his bed. He refuses to lie down. We try more reasoning. He is still wailing. I end up sitting on the edge of his bed and scooping him into my arms like a baby. He collapses onto me, and falls instantly quiet. Clearly he is as exhausted as we are. I rock him back and forth for a few moments. He then allows me to lie him down and tuck him in. I am so relieved that I am going to get more sleep this night.

As I leave the room he tells me: “The problem was, my feet were cold.”

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Blue and Green on a Stormy Winter Day

March 13, 2014

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…and a few other colors too.

After two days in a row of terrible, terrible pregnancy nausea despite the medication, I felt great today. I woke up feeling good right off the bat, and could tell I wasn’t even going to have to take anything. After breakfast I put on some peppy music, fixed myself a cup of tea, and did some housework. I made a fresh salad for lunch, loaded up with veggies, nuts, and a bit of mozzarella. I spent a good deal of time on the couch, with Simon snuggled on my lap, reading aloud to him. And I took a bunch of random snapshots with my camera.

Instead of taking pictures of the snow, I decided to capture little spots of brightness around my house. Mostly greens and blues, which are colors I am sorely missing from the landscape outside my window (too much grey and white still out there). Hunting for these bits of color gave me a happy feeling, and definitely helped ease the winter “blahs”.

A Clean Start

March 10, 2014

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Now that I am taking medication for the crippling nausea, I am able to get through my days so much more productively than I was for almost the entire first two months of this pregnancy. I am still very exhausted most of the time, but a cup of tea, or a dose of sunshine have been helping me out there.

It isn’t quite Spring yet in this neck of the woods, but more of the snow is melting away* each day with the temperatures being up into the 30′s and even 40′s. Changing the clocks ahead may have robbed us of an hour of sleep for one night, but for me, it means an increase in hours of sunshine, which also increases my energy. The timing of seasonal change along with my transition from first trimester into second is perfect and much appreciated.

So now I turn my focus from just surviving each day to improving my environment at home. Almost two months of being behind on the chores (for someone who is not exactly the word’s best housekeeper to begin with), has been making me twitchy for some deep cleaning and organizing. I started the other day, at one end of the house-the kitchen, working my way around, really cleaning everything: pulling things out and wiping and dusting behind them, clearing surfaces, working to finally find a place for everything (something I have not done since moving in).

It feels good to see a completely clear kitchen counter, or toys put neatly into a basket where they belong. Completely reorganizing everything is going to take time, especially when I get tired so easily right now, but it is making me feel good. Instead of looking around me and seeing clutter that stresses me out, I am seeing our new home transform into the place I have always wanted it to become.

*A snowstorm of 10-16 inches is predicted for this week. Winter has not had its final say.

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