In the blink of an eye, they will be wriggling out of your arms. And, before you know it, you will be called just "Mom", and then sometimes "Megan" and then "Grandma". They are growing up. By the day, the hour, even the second. This morning may have been the last time my baby called her big brother "Da chi". That may have been your last time sitting in the carpool line. Tomorrow may be the last time your pre-tween son lays his head on your shoulder. And we may have just been too busy to notice. We may be so consumed with the craziness of life, that the "substance of life" just slipped through our fingers.Read More
Well, after I saw that video I didn't eat much of anything for quite some time. It's painfully obvious this little girl is me, just sort of grown up now. I still "talk" to animals, now I can just blame it on my kids if a rogue neighbor happens to appear in my yard. Yes. I was a vegetarian. I couldn't bring myself to eat an animal that had lived a life in squalor and filth, perhaps never even knowing that sunshine existed. I have always believed that some animals were created to be consumed. I believe in the forces of nature and the cycle of life. I know that animals must one day die, perhaps at the hands of man or another predator. I just don't know how to justify treating living creatures as objects. I don't know how to enjoy eating something that lived a life of misery.Read More
Even though we are stuck in frigid Indiana this Fat Tuesday, it's kind of like Bourbon Street around here; beverages spilled all over the floor, people with no shirts on, throw up, incomprehensible language, just general melee. The culprits are all under age 6 so, pretty much the same thing. No? I wish I could escape to the "Big Easy", but instead I am going to throw together a real easy last-minute Mardi Gras for my little heathens. And, BTW, Mardi Gras just means Fat Tuesday in French. It's kind of a no-brainer. Kind of like my 5 Steps to a Real Easy, 'Big Easy'... Step 1Everyone put on purple, green, gold, or at least a shirt.Read More
So there we were. Just a few moms huddled together in a cozy, little cafe on a cold January morning. We brought with us; sticky I Phones, 2 babies, a few hours of sleep, a lot of under-eye bags, and things to confess... "I realized this morning that my kids haven't had a bath in 6 days."
"I spanked somebody today."
"I locked myself in the closet and cried."
"I threatened everyone in the house this morning. Even the dog."
"We had the morning from hell."
"My boys were up late last night watching Rocky IV."
We weren't discussing anything out of the ordinary. Really just an average Tuesday morning. Albeit a bit more rough than usual, but a regular 'ol Tuesday none-the-less. The babies were surprisingly quiet and occupied with their snacks, and we moms sat back and chugged our coffee. And laughed. At each other. At ourselves. At anyone who might think we were nuts. An unspoken acceptance existed around that table. We didn't whisper. We didn't explain anything or make excuses. We didn't edit the truth worried that someone might judge us. The coffee and the confessions flowed.
"This time of year I have to call in for some medicinal reinforcements."
"My van could be condemned."
"My kitchen sink could be condemned."
It sure feels good to get things off your chest. And what feels even better? Not having to apologize or make an excuse about any of it. We all know that we love our children more than life itself and we put our families first, no matter what. There is no question about that. So, the rest is just life. The dirty van, the unused tub, the empty bottle of Xanax. The kids are happy and healthy. They are safe and loved. Does it get a little ugly ensuring that they feel like this? Oh yeah. Real ugly sometimes. But they won't know it. We moms do. So we gather around the table with our buttered toast and our tales of horror. We "laugh" each other up instead of putting anyone down. There is nothing to explain. We know.
Another thing I know... I don't really do a "New Year's Resolution". I just figure I am sort of a year round work-in-progress. I already have so many daily resolutions, that I don't think I can handle adding a bunch of new potentially unattainable goals. Most days, I try to focus on little things like... Provide meals for offspring. Remember, the laundry pile is not trying to suffocate you in your sleep. Do not check work emails at 3am, but Bravo shows on DVR are totally acceptable. Keep the children alive. Wear shoes. Instead of some sort of official "resolution", I think I am just going to go with this new flow... NO EXCUSES. I mean.... I am not making excuses for ANYTHING. My kitchen doesn't look like Food Network set? Hmmm, maybe it's since people actually live here. You see me pumping gas while eating lunch (yes, it happened). I multi-task, okay!? You see me barefoot to pick my kids up from school? I can guarantee you there is a good reason. Like, perhaps the hot coals I just walked across after lunch. Don't believe me? Who cares. I promise that no matter what I do, I have put my children and family first. And my dignity second. Well, not entirely, I rarely leave the house without makeup. Shoes missing, maybe. But not makeup.
And I would like to extend the same courtesy to you, whoever you are. Don't explain anything to me. Don't make an excuse for why your 2-year-old is laying face down on the sidewalk. I already know. And I don't mind one bit. You can look at me in the grocery parking lot and shrug, I get it. I will offer you a smile, or a hand with your bags. Next time, the "gravel muncher" will be one of mine. If you are a mom, I just go ahead and assume you are just like me. Often a bit of a mess, sometimes a rock star, occasionally barefoot. But always, without a doubt, 120% of the time, doing it all for the love of your little ones. So, no apologies, no explanations, no excuses. The only excuse I will possibly entertain... is the kind where you lament why you are 15 minutes late to meet me for coffee. I get it, it's called life. So, fill your cup and tell me all about what happened this morning.
Warning: Zombie typing on computer... Many of you were in contact with me yesterday via text, and it seems I was not alone in having "one of those days". Something about a 2 hour delay here in blustery Central Indiana just seemed to set everyone's day off on the wrong boot. After a real adventure-of-a-day, I decided I better get to bed early to avoid having anything else ridiculous happen. The last thing I thought about before lights out at 9:00pm was a sleepless night I had back in October of 2013. I chuckled to myself, "Hah. Good thing I don't have to worry about nights like that anymore!" Not so fast lady...
I was up. all. night. People were crying, laughing in their sleep, coming into my room to tell me they had to pee. The wind was howling as the Polar Vortex settled over the Midwest and created a "monster" noise here in our new house(we've checked and have yet to find a beast of any kind chained in the basement.) Babies were beating on their cribs with pacis, people needed re-tucked in. Again. I was starving around 3am. So on and so forth...
Funny how things work out! Just when I am confident I have a cozy deep slumber ahead of me, life has other plans. This is that night from long ago which originally appeared on another blog I used to write pregnantcrazylady.wordpress.com I don't update it anymore since I am no longer pregnant. Still crazy though. Read if you dare. Just don't jinx yourself like I did.
Good Night and Good Luck. Good Luck Sleeping.
October 15, 2013
Aaaaahhhh, bedtime. A warm bath, a little story, a quiet song. The children nestled all snug in their beds.
Yeah, well it’s nothing like that at my house. It’s more like someone is face down on the floor refusing to go potty one last time and the other someone is scrubbing toothpaste all over the hallway since I didn’t put enough on their toothbrush.
Eventually they do fall asleep and stay asleep. I feel very fortunate to usually be the only mouse about the house, most nights. I believe I have established a beneficial bedtime routine. Which I feel I have the maturity level to actually handle like a responsible adult. Others may disagree. Since my bladder is under assault right now from a very active little boy or girl, I start my evening routine by eliminating most liquids after 6pm. I eat a healthy dinner. Light candles. Go for a walk. Unwind with some television. 20 minutes of relaxing yoga poses. Lightly spray my sheets with lavender. Say my prayers. Read briefly. And out I go. And then up I go. To the bathroom. But some nights, it’s not just the loo calling my name. Here is what happened last night during the wee hours…
10:45pm Lay down in bed.
10:46pm Open my book to read.
10:47pm I’m sound asleep.
11:30pm I am up for bathroom break #1.
12:30am Bathroom break #2
1:22am Quiet “Mommys” coming from Little Brother’s room. I go in and administer a breathing treatment for his wheezing and asthma symptoms that have been acting up.
2:49am “It hurt!!!!! It hurts!!!!” coming from Little Brother’s room. I run in his room assuming he has a dresser or ceiling fan laying across him. Nope. He is just laying in a pool of pee. I change his sheets as quickly as my carpo tunnel fingers will let me. He sits there watching me drop the sheets over and over. An older man would assume I was drunk, not just a numb-handed zombie.
3:39am “Hoot. Hoot.” The giant barn owl my kids were harassing earlier this evening is back to haunt me. I turn my sound machine up louder, but not too loud. I wish it could be “too loud”.
4:01am Bathroom break. Might as well go in and do Little Brother’s breathing treatment early since I’m up.
4:30am “MOMMY!!!!!!!!!” “HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” Big Brother this time. He tells me he had a bad dream and that if you “play quietly in your room the sun will actually come up faster”. Nice try.
4:35am I nestle myself back in bed and hope I can get a wee bit of slumber before my alarm goes off.
4:44am “Woof. Woof” Not you too dog! I get up and look at him at the foot of my bed. He is requesting that I lift him onto the bed even though he has a step stool. Is there a conspiracy against me?
4:45am Finally, I hope finally, back in bed next to my snoozing husband. Did I mention there has been a peacefully snoozing husband this whole time?
6:00am My alarm goes off. Shower and head downstairs. Tiptoe downstairs. Make kid’s school lunches, unload dishwasher, lay out everyone’s medicine, make coffee, get breakfast ready, start a load of laundry, etc, etc, and so on…
7:23am Down comes sleeping beauty. Husband performs an overly dramatic stretch/yawn combination. I swear he is standing extra close to me, showing off that he doesn’t have dark circles or even a hint of a bag under his eyes. He scans the kitchen, appears satisfied with himself and asks,
“Did you elbow me last night because I was snoring?”
“Yep. That’s it. That’s all that happened last night”.
'Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving, and all through the house,
kids were peeing and pooping,
and I was throwing candy out.
I was told that it was the meanest thing I could "ever do",
and meanwhile Baby Girl was chewing a stick of glue.
While I glared at the blurry Christmas cards I'd ordered with a pout,
and called customer service a brutal Brother fight broke out.
Little Brother was cross when I told him to stay,
right there in the den, no talking, no play.
So cross in fact, he decided to pee
all over the carpet and floor to upset me.
He had to stand in his puddle and was handed a towel,
and as I did the dishes I smelled something foul.
Baby Girl had decided to remove her diaper,
and a trail of little poop-lettes were scattered beside her.
I cleaned up the poop and scooped her to the stairs in a whirl,
Big Brother touched the gate too hard and it fell on on Baby Girl.
The baby jumped headfirst right into the bath,
while I stood there beside her as one second passed.
Meanwhile I heard some shrieks down the hall,
some Brothers thought it was fun to throw pillows and into a bathtub to fall.
Next thing I know I begin to hear screaming,
and banging and pounding, please tell me I'm dreaming!
An epic battle of suckers-in-Ziplocs had ensued,
and Little Brother was crying that Big Brother was a "bad dude"!
And through his red hair I could see a big knot.
Was this the 4th, or 5th, or 10th time they'd fought?!
I calmed them all down and went straight to my work,
dusting, and cleaning, and chopping while the kids danced and "twerked".
Trying to get this madhouse ready for the big Turkey Day,
while dreaming that the kids are all in bed after an evening of quiet play.
But the truth is... it's dinner, and diapers, and craziness right through bedtime.
And I know how things will seem later as we open some wine...
I will feel my heart fill with love, as I turn out their light
that I have my little trouble-makers to be grateful for this 'Before-Thanksgiving-Night'!
The sun is just peering above the treeline and the air is already thick and wet with Indiana August. I stretch and pause at the edge of my bed just as I have 2,098 other times in this home. But this time it is different. This time it is the last.Read More
"The painters are like magicians!" I concur, Big Brother! They are indeed! And these magicians transformed our house with a wave of their magic brushes. The morning we closed on our new home, Bo and Ramon were already waiting on the front porch, ready to tackle this big job of painting... everything.
It is always said that "the easiest way to makeover a room is with paint". True. In theory. Not so much when there is more pine in a home than there are walls.
Baby Girl and I had a blast putting together our and color pallet. I'm not so sure the painters were quite as thrilled when they saw my design board.
The Brothers and I smoothed things over with weekly treats; Jimmy Johns, homemade cookies, and my Dad often stopped by with surprises for the contractors too! They were, after all, magicians. First, they began by sanding every inch of trim, door, cabinet, mule post, hand rail, you get the idea. We pulled up the old 1986 carpet to help speed the process. Then came primer, and then the paint.
The Brothers and Baby Girl and I came to the house every day to marvel at the progress. And little by little the pieces of cocoon fell away, and the transformation was revealed.
And then... I became obsessed with painting anything I could get my hands on. Brick, air vents, old vases, brass, even bar stools from Target weren't safe. I was often seen aimlessly wandering the house with a can of Rustoleum Oil-Rubbed Bronze in my hand, hunting for my next victim.
The kids had fun new activities, like... sanding and priming.
A little leftover paint and some fun distressing transformed these $15 Target bar stools...
Then I locked myself in the pantry to paint it. Literally. They were installing carpet and kept walking by with roll after roll of materials. So, I spent my afternoon in a tiny little closet full of sticky August air and paint fumes. Totally healthy, I'm sure.
It was a whirlwind summer! We would actually grow bored if we weren't expecting the carpenter, plumber, electrician, carpet guys, granite guys, painters, or anyone from Lowes. It was quite the adventure. Common things heard echoing through these halls... "How are we going to fit the oven in? We are going to have to cut that granite!"
"Why are you closing the garage door on the minivan?"
"How many men does it take to move a concrete block onto a trailer?"
"Ummmm, why doesn't the dryer even turn on? It's brand new right?"
"You expect me to poop in this bathroom? There isn't even a door! What kind of house did you and Daddy buy?"
Never dull. Always fun! And, always an adventure in progress...
15. You say things like, "I don't think we could make it there by noon on Saturday. That's a little too early." 14. You like your house to be clean and organized.
13. It takes you a while to realize that when your sister said 3 different people needed her assistance last night, at varying intervals, covered in their own feces, she wasn't on a shift at a nursing home.
12. You believe that Pottery Barn Kid's diaper changing tables are so expensive because they actually change the baby's diaper for you.
11. You are confused to find out that you really can't take a baby into a bar.
10. You see a haggard-looking woman with 2 kids in their pajamas and another screaming on the curb outside the grocery store and believe that she is homeless.
9. You think a case of diapers costs less than a case of beer.
8. You are not aware that there is a chance that words like "cervix", "mucous plug", and "hooter hider" may be part of your daily conversation.
7. You think that when your friends-with-kids say they "Had a blast in Disney World!" that they are joking.
6. When you hear others complaining about potty training issues with their 3-year-old, you boast how you had your dog potty trained in 3 weeks.
5. You enjoy sitting down with your family and friends for a meal without screaming, crying, child-wrangling, cleaning peas out of bodily crevices, or vomit.
4. You think only surgeons are capable of pulling a craft fuzzball out of a toddler's nose with tweezers, while scanning through the DVR.
3. You have mailed holiday cards with your pet in an outfit on more than 4 occasions.
2. You occasionally park in the "Expecting Mothers" spot at the store, stuff a sweater in your shirt, and run inside to buy vodka.
1. You enjoy sleeping.
A few moments inside my head upon truly getting to see our new home for the first time after a lightning quick "showing-offer-bidding competition-accepted" situation... "This kitchen has 2 ovens!!! Wait. What is that? That isn't an oven is it? Is that a microwave? Is this the movie set for Sixteen Candles?
Can we get rid of that oven? What I would really like is a little bar area? Like a little Butler's Pantry. Maybe a book-case, a place for drinks, and beer. Y'know, something I would actually use. Definitely not that microwave. I think I will donate it to the Indiana Historical Society."
So,we talked to our trim carpenter, Jerry Sawyer. Even though he already gave us a great quote and has an amazing reputation, I had to definitely say yes when Baby Girl let him hold her and she smiled. This is opposed to her usual reaction to, well, pretty much everybody... ferocious screaming. With the stealth of a professional jigsaw artist, Jerry had dreamed up a plan and before we knew it, kitchen demo was under way.
The microwave and oven was removed. A book-case was put in its place. Bo, our painter patched the drywall. 'Yours truly' removed the glorious linoleum flooring that lines every. single. shelf. in the entire kitchen. After a good 20 minutes hacking away at the top shelf linoleum with a putty knife, I decided that the tiles throughout the rest of the kitchen cabinets would remain and be hidden beneath new shelf liner paper. I had run out of elbow grease.
Next came new counter tops. New wall and cabinet paint(more on all these transformations later). And to complete my vision, Jerry made a wine rack to fill the vacant top cabinet and hung stemware.
Voila! A new bar/butler's pantry!
Complete with a bookcase full of breakable decor items for Baby Girl to destroy. As long as she doesn't hurt my "Chinese Lucky Cat", (Maneki-neko) from my days working for PF Changs. It has brought much luck to me in 6 kitchens across the country. We pray this is the cucina where it retires.
When you picture a brick fireplace, one likes to envision a roaring fire, a cozy hearth, stockings awaiting St. Nicholas on Christmas Eve. "That fireplace looks like poop."
Ok. So not that.
Well, that was just a 3 year old's opinion. Having not had the pleasure to experience the home styling circus that was the 80's, you can't really blame him for his comment. The fireplace itself is not bad at all. With a little vision, and a few supplies... it can time travel to the present day!
Mission: Whitewash the brick
Supplies: White paint, water, bucket, paintbrush, rags, baby wipes(best for fixing an oops), painter's tape(if you're messy), sponge, paint stick, cold beer(optional).
Time to Completion: 2 hours
Step 1 - Dilute paint with water. I used Benjamin Moore's White Dove which was our enamel color. I used a 2/3 paint, 1/3 water mixture. This can be adjusted depending on what kind of coverage you would like. All brick is different and will absorb much of the paint. Please test a portion of the brick before you go crazy painting! You can always add more coats of the paint solution, but you can't go back.
Step 2 - Brush the white wash solution on the clean brick. Since the solution will absorb quickly, I worked with about a 4-6 brick section at a time. Brush over the mortar in each section first, then lightly paint over each brick.
Step 3 - "Wash" the brick. Use a damp paint rag or old T-shirt to wash over the bricks until you reach the white wash look you desire.
Step 4 - Repeat Steps 2 & 3 until you are done. You may choose to do additional coats.
- Use more water or less solution to achieve a more "rustic" look. Or apply heavier solution sporadically in sections to achieve a more weathered appearance.
- You can color-wash too! It doesn't have to be a white wash. Grey looks amazing, light green tones, you name it! Just be cognizant of your brick tone when choosing a color-wash.
So, now the AFTER...
And, the happily ever after...
So, here is the thing about life with little ones and a mom who suffers from perpetual "mom brain". Some days seem as smooth as glass, and some days, well, go a little something like this... 3:30am Suddenly wake up from a deep sleep with a surge of design ideas for new house we will be moving to in a couple of months.
4:15am Fabulous design ideas are replaced by dark, looming thoughts about how much work we have to do before moving.
4:35am Dark, looming thoughts are replaced by frustration that I cannot go back to sleep.
4:55am Fall back asleep.
5:02am Baby girls cries out.
5:05 Decide to move alarm clock time from 6am to 6:15am. Every little bit helps, right?
6:15am Tear myself out of my super cozy, comfy bed and begin working on packing up the house, clean base boards, drink coffee, do yoga in the garage, shower, feed baby, check email, and play with Baby Girl.
9:00am Leave a little early to meet my in-laws and pick up Big Brother and Little Brother who had a sleepover. So early in fact, I have time for Starbucks.
9:11am Pick up a steaming cup of Starbucks, turn up the radio so I can sing to Baby Girl since she doesn't complain, and hit the road. Life is good.
9:12am Glance at gas tank.
9:13am Interrupt singing to begin swearing at myself. The tank is on empty.
9:28am Roll in on fumes to closest gas station.
9:29am Realize my purse and wallet are at home. Of course, I didn't notice this earlier since I used a gift card I have conveniently stowed in my car.
9:30am Call Mother in Law and begin lamenting about how uncooperative my brain is. In-Laws decide it would be fastest (and probably safest) for them to just drive all the way to my house.
11:02am The Brothers are safely home and already outside trying to capture birds with their empty laundry baskets.
11:14am While changing Baby Girl's diaper on the couch, I find myself lost in deep thoughts about kitchen wall colors in our new house.
11:15am Something wet is running down my leg.
11:16am Snap out of my interior design fantasy and realize Baby Girl has peed all over herself, the couch, me, and it has dribbled down to the carpet. She thinks this is hilarious and I am wondering why I was changing a diaper on a couch.
11:20am Clean up, lunch, feed Baby Girl, pack, home-staging, bribe everyone into the car with the promise of playing with new bubble machine this afternoon.
12:12pm Pull into a parking spot in our quaint little downtown. Husband is going to take the boys for ice cream while I run to a doctor's appointment with Baby Girl.
12:13pm As Big Brother hops out of the car, he announces "Beautiful day! Sure is a nice breeze!" A group of women look up from their Bible study and smile.
12:15pm As I pull Baby Girl out of the car, the women respond with, "Oooohh! Aaaah! Adorable!"
12:16pm Then comes Little Brother. As he jumps out of the van, his red hair gleaming in the sun, he excitedly shouts, "Let's pretend we are big kids and that we love beer!" The women gasp. I see their eyes narrow and turn to look at me, Mother Of The Year.
12:43pm While waiting on the doctor I receive text from husband explaining that Big Brother was licking the glass barrier over the ice cream bins and informed the staff that he was spelling his name with his tongue.
1:47pm After a quick trip to the library that involved only a small incident of The Brothers making a shuffleboard game with DVDs, all kids are home and preparing for "quiet time". I even tell Little Brother that he can rest on the couch today instead of napping in his room.
2:08pm Little Brother begins moaning and groaning that we are being too loud. He sounds like an old man as he grunts and tries to get comfortable on the couch.
2:24pm Little Brother continues his complaining as he tries to get comfortable on the floor, "Are you kidding me!? C'mon. Are you kidding me?! Everything is so loud!"
2:55pm Still trying
3:25pm And still trying
4:00pm Once Husband is home, run with Big Brother to CVS since the bubble machine didn't come with batteries.
4:05pm Big Brother asks me at CVS checkout, "How in the world did the cash register guy get that big nasty ring in his nose?"
4:08pm Engage in deep conversation with Big Brother about other people's feelings in the car. I glance in rear view mirror for his reaction. He is licking the window.
4:15pm Walk into family room to find Little Brother sound asleep.
5:00pm Begin trying to wake up Little Brother.
5:45pm Little Brother is finally somewhat awake and laying on the floor mumbling, "C'mon, are you guys kidding me?! C'mon!"
6:30pm Pack the whole fam in the car and head to neighborhood concert.
7:00pm Little Brother is laying face down on the blanket instead of running around like a crazy person.
7:15pm Little Brother is still laying face down. I check his forehead and he feels like he is burning up.
7:17pm I inform Husband that I will be heading home with the younger 2 and he is in charge of Big Brother's well-being. I ask where Big Brother is. Husband is unsure.
7:20pm A neighbor asks if the soaking wet, barefoot kid wrestling with his friend in a drainage ditch is Big Brother. Husband and I reply, "Definitely" with our proudest smiles.
7:25pm Arrive home, discover Little Brother's temperature is 102! Administer Tylenol, give baths, jammies, and get him in bed.
7:45pm Baby Girl is starving! I grab a bottle and can't find a burp cloth so I snatch the closest thing I can find... a pair of the boys' underwear. At least they are clean.
8:20pm Big Brother is calling from his room that he feels fine and wants to play. Begin evening negotiations.
8:40pm Still negotiating with Little Brother who marches into the hallway, shouts, "Mommy! I don't even know you anymore!" and slams his bedroom door. Darn Tylenol.
9:30pm Husband and Big Brother arrive home after chasing a loose dog around the neighborhood.
10:00pm Finally have Big Brother in bed when I hear Little Brother announcing that he has to go poopy.
10:03pm Husband informs Little Brother that he will be wiping him tonight. I am downstairs hiding in the hall closet with red wine.
10:07pm Little Brother shouts that he appreciates that Daddy wiped him, but he has "Made another piece of poopy so that Mommy can wipe me because I love her so much!"
It sure is nice to be loved that much. Now goodnight everybody and let's do this all over again tomorrow, with a little less "mom brain", limited bathroom and beer references, and a lot of love.
My friend and neighbor, Sara Sterley, shared this helpful guide to gardening basics last year and I want to revisit it this summer as we prepare to move to a new home with a flourishing vegetable garden! Her green thumb can help my muddled one maintain the beautiful garden I will be responsible for. I am sure the plants are very nervous! Her knowledge and expertise of seasonal eating, preserving, and sustainable living is beyond valuable! Visit her website, www.sarabytheseason.com for amazing tips and recipes and be sure to take the time to enjoy some "real food" this summer! You can find additional resources on this amazing blog...http://gracegarden.wordpress.com
by Sara Sterley
I’ve been one of those tree-hugger hippy types for as long as I can remember. I made my parents compost our kitchen scraps growing up, I go around collecting recyclables from trash cans, and I cringe at the sight of plastic water bottles. I’m a woman of many causes. My friends know better than to get me started, and my poor husband will definitely be rewarded with a very special gold star upon entering Heaven for putting up with me.
But, really, the one thing that I think every single person should do is to plant a garden. It doesn’t take much, but growing even one tomato plant’s worth of your own food is a truly revolutionary act if you care about preserving and conserving this Earth for your children. You don’t want to miss out on a chance to be a rebel, right?
So, because I love lists, here my top five tips for beginner gardeners:
- Just plant something. Even if all you have the time, space, or energy for is one small pot in the windowsill, just do it. Plant a bush bean from seed (so easy) or a compact tomato plant or a jalapeno pepper. Here is a helpful guide to help you decide when and how you should plant various plants in Indiana. Check your local extension office if you’re outside of Indiana. Just plant something!
- Start small. Gardening is so simple: put a seed/plant in some dirt in a sunny spot and water it every once in a while. But it can also get quite complicated, especially when you start reading what all of the “experts” say. So keep it simple. Plant just one thing this year and see how that goes. Add to it next year, and the next.
- Get your kids involved. Our three-year-old helps us plant, water, and weed. The kale seeds he planted came up all in one giant mound all together, and yesterday he pulled a bean plant that he thought was a weed. So I want promise that the kiddos will do the gardening thing well, but that’s one of my favorite things about gardening: you can’t really screw it up completely. Our little guy will try anything that comes out of the garden, so there’s that too.
- Plant stuff that you like to eat. Now that we’re a little more experienced at the gardening thing, we venture out and plant some crazy varieties of stuff, but in the beginning, you need some confidence, so plant what you know that your family will eat. Here are some easy varieties to start off with. For beginners, I’d recommend buying tomato and pepper plants, especially at this point in the season.
- Ask questions (or Google). Gardener types love to talk gardening, so make friends with one and ask for their advice. Or if you’d rather not, just Google your questions. There is so much (free and decent) information out on the interwebs (stick with the more well-known sources if you’re nervous, like Organic Gardening, Vegetable Gardener, or BHG).
I hope you’re motivated to just plant one thing this year – it’s not too late. My favorite writer is Wendell Berry (read everything he has ever written), and I’ll leave you with his far more eloquent words:
"A person who undertakes to grow a garden at home, by practices that will preserve rather than exploit the economy of the soil, has set his mind decisively against what is wrong with us. He is helping himself in a way that dignifies him and is rich in meaning and pleasure. But he is doing something else that is more important; He is making vital the contact with the soil and the weather on which his life depends. He will no longer look upon rain as a traffic impediment, or upon the sun as a holiday decoration."
Guest Blog by Sara Sterley
Hi Mama, it's me, your 4 month old. It's 6:00am and I know I usually sleep until 8:00am, but today I felt like getting up early and blowing bubbles and working on my new shriek noises. I hope you don't mind. You do look a little flustered, trying to get everybody's lunches made, and shower, and make breakfast, and pack up your computer for work, and get my brothers dressed for school on time. I just wanted to see you because I love how you smell and I love YOU. I think I will tell you why...
Thank you for growing me in your tummy. For letting it stretch and itch and not be able to fit behind the steering wheel. Thank you for wearing that full-leg compression hose all last summer, pretty cute, right!? Thanks for gaining all that weight and not really caring, since it was for me. Thanks for giving up craft beer for 10 months. Ouch, I know.
Thanks for letting me take my time being born. I just wasn't really sure if I wanted to leave my quiet, peaceful water world. Thanks for walking for 2 days. Around the basement, the stairs, at Meijer, the mall, the hospital halls with a bag of apples. Sorry my hand was above my head and I got stuck on your pubic bone. I heard a lot of muffled yelling and shouting, but then I came out and I heard Daddy clearly screaming, "It's a girl!" And then I heard you cry. Happy cry.
Thank you for all those diaper changes. Sorry I had a blowout at 4am and it shot across the room. I know you had to clean the picture frames in the dark. I feel badly, but they were just of my brothers.
Thank you for letting me have my own room. I was getting kind of sick of everybody's snoring in your room. No offense. Now, how about my own bathroom? I see you cleaning the toilet in my brothers' loo like everyday. I hope their aim in sports is better.
Thank you for coming in my nursery 4 times last night. I know you don't like doing that, but I really wanted my paci so I cried a little bit.
Thank you for my Daddy, I just love it when he comes home. Do you see how he likes it when I bat my eyes at him? Last week he slow danced with me in the family room to "Daughter" by Loudon Wainwright III. I hope he will dance with me to that song at my wedding some day.
Thank you for my big brothers. Why do they spend so much time jumping off of furniture and taking their shirts off? They say they will protect me from bad guys forever so I feel pretty lucky. Even if they are always talking about potty stuff and building forts out of the couch cushions when you turn your back. Whoops, did I say that?
Thank you for packing all that stuff for me all the time. Why do you think I need so many things every where we go? Don't I just need you? Umm, I thought you might need to know that Little Brother just took glue, a shoe horn, and 2 rolls of toilet paper out of the closet. Not quite sure what that means.
Thanks for always laughing and talking to me in those crazy voices and making silly faces. I do really like it, but you could tone it down a bit. I'm just sayin.
Thank you for taking a billion pictures of me. I'm just gonna say it... I look pretty much the same today as I did yesterday, so back off. Plus, I am starting to think you are secretly taping me all night on the Dropcam thing. I guess if I had a baby this cute I would be recording and preserving every single, adorable second too.
Thank you for all my grandparents and aunts and uncles. I can't really eat much yet, but I heard from some certain older siblings that they pretty much let you eat whatever you want and shower you with gifts and let you stay up late. Sounds pretty sweet.
Thank you for always feeding me. Then you always hold me and say, "Never grow up!" But, then I hear you talking about how happy you are I put on weight with the doctor. So confusing.
Thank you for always singing those pretty songs to me. Your voice is... mediocre at best. But it's your voice. So to me, it's the best voice in the whole world.
Thank you for all these play things and toys. I really can't use half of them and the songs are getting pretty lame, but at least it's something to do when the boys aren't around. Is there a reason they are all manufactured out of like 50 different colors? Yikes! Oh, by the way, I just saw Big Brother take an entire bag of pretzels and a can opener out of the pantry and head upstairs.
Thank you for holding me all the time. I just really love it. You are so cozy and always know just what I need. I just love to pull on your hair and feel your skin. You have to know that I am going to eventually grow up, right?! I'll tell you what, let's make a deal. You keep doing the best job you can being my Mommy, and I will grow up. But, I will always be your baby.
Ok, deal too. Now will you just hold me until I go to sleep Mommy? Cuz if you don't I am probably going to start crying really loud and wake my brothers.
Ahhh, I love laying here in your arms. You look pretty tired, maybe you should go to sleep too. I will just be real quiet most of the night, but I might cry for my paci once or twice so that you come in to see me. Because I love you.
Recovering from Spring Break...
Super heroes watching Mickey Mouse...
Thinking of excuses why I don't need to unpack #3 out of 4 suitcases.
Getting ready for Easter. See an easy and FREE Easter decorating idea here!
Working hard in the office...
Yes folks, this is my office. It also used to be known as a family room. Now it is a recreation of the beach, according to some toddlers.
What's trending in your nest today?
It's that time of year again. Spring break!!! Or as many moms think of it... Just another week, but with an exorbitant amount of sand, close quarters, and a really small washing machine. No matter what you call it, or whether you are traveling to Fiji or enjoying a "stay-cation", it is a week of no school and hopefully some days off for Mom and Dad. Needless, to say, the additional passenger in every family's car or plane is... the smart phone. I am openly "technically challenged", but still more often than not, find myself always with a little 6 oz electronic addiction in my hand. I will not be controlled by a bunch of wires and over-priced plastic! I am going to beat this addiction with a good old-fashioned family vacation! Sans electronics. No phones, no laptops, no nothing. Okay, except for the plane. The kids can use approved electronic devices on the plane. But, this is strictly for the safety of other passengers. Every year we travel down south to Longboat Key, Florida. A tropical little island paradise with gleaming white beaches and azure foamy waves. I have gone there for spring break every year since I was 5 years old. And for 25 fabulous years, I had a lovely, relaxing time. Then one year, we had a stowaway. He was a little 20 pound butterball that woke up 3 times a night and successfully ended every dinner out by competing for "world's longest high pitch shriek". This little condo-crasher seemed to think the whole vacation revolved around him! He was wide awake and ready to take on the day, every morning by 4:30am, and his only beach skills involved being able to stuff an entire fist-full of sand into his tiny mouth.
Gone were the days of basking in the afternoon sun and staying up late at the tiki bar. Gone were the days of actual...vacation. Of course, it was great to be away from work, but, wait a second! This was kind of harder than work! My clients didn't usually wake me up during the night, spill my beverages, or poop in a diaper. It probably didn't help that I was 10 weeks pregnant with #2. So, no liquid comforts. I couldn't drink alcohol, but my husband and I were definitely consuming a big 'ol dose of reality. We realized that just like the first months of parenthood, we were wildly unprepared for the changes that came along with a new baby, on vacation.
Fast forward a few years, and we are sitting with our lounge chairs sinking into the tide. The sun is setting and we are sipping frosty Coronas. Two sun-kissed little boys run and dip into the waves, wielding their sand shovels. Our little boys. We have figured it out. How to vacation with kids. It's different then vacation used to be, it's harder to enjoy at times and a lot more work. But it is much, much more fulfilling. We learned that once you are a parent, it's just not always about you. It's usually about them, and more importantly... it's about time together as a family. Even if that time is spent removing sand from all sorts of crevices. Even if your "basking in the sun" is about 14 minutes on the deck while everyone is briefly asleep at the same time. Even if, you eat dinner out so early that the tiki bar isn't even open yet. Vacation with kids is about learning, observing, sharing, and adjusting. It's about the adults taking turns. It's about finding the peaceful moments to sit and soak in the memories. Before someone has a fight over a beach bucket. You won't remember how cold the surf feels the 11th time you go to the sandbar in a row. You won't remember what you ate out at dinner, or if you even did. But you will remember dancing in the sand with your little ones to a steel drum band. You will remember watching your child cautiously find their way closer and closer to the waves, building their confidence and forging a life-long love of the sea, just as you did. You will remember your first trips to the shore, and for a few days, you will begin to be a child again. You will dig in the sand, forgetting about your manicure. You will search for the perfect shell and chase the sand pipers. You will fall asleep, your hair soaking with salty water, wrapped in a Disney beach towel.
Most importantly, they will remember. Your children will remember watching the golden sun melt into the ocean, with you. They will remember special morning walks with just Daddy along the shore and spotting a school of dolphins. They will remember that first sunburn and the smell of the cool aloe as Mommy spreads it across their arms. They won't remember if they had to go to timeout for kicking sand at their brother, but they will remember how they loved the warm days, together. Distraction. Isn't that really what a vacation is? A distraction from your daily life, a chance to escape some of the monotony? I know I use my phone as a distraction. I just don't want to distract myself from my vacation. So, au revoir phone!
I can absolutely promise you, that you will not remember that awesome YouTube video you are watching while your daughter finds a perfect conch shell. I can assure you, that voice mail from work is not as important as riding the waves with your son. I am positive that the Facebook news feed will not bring you as much satisfaction as filling your spouse's empty hand with your own. We will get used to our lack of electronics, just as we did to braving the security line with toddlers. Vacationing with kids is about enjoying, adjusting and growing. And being able to laugh at yourself when you need to(have you ever changed a blowout in an airplane bathroom?) But most importantly, being present. Be there, with your family, and don't miss a single sunset.
So please join us as we give ourselves the gift of a technology-free vacation. Don't let your children remember you on the beach with your face buried in your I-Phone. Use it to capture a picture of them buried in the white sand, change your profile picture to this new memory, and then... put it away.
Safe travels everyone! Enjoy your time together!
Top 'O the Mornin! St. Patrick's Day is highly celebrated and under-decorated. Growing up in an Irish family, I have always loved March 17 for its tradition, fun, beer, and c'mon, everyone looks great in green! Here are some of my favorite simple decorating ideas for St. Paddy's Day...
Pin up St. Patrick's Day cards, pins, and kids' artwork!
A few assorted beer glasses with green water and a floating candle make an easy and inexpensive display..
St. Patrick's Day in a ball jar! Fill a jar with gold coins and cute green hats(available at Michaels)
Festive signs from the $1 section at Target on the front door...
No St. Paddy's Day is complete without some real beer...in a cupcake! This recipe is delicious and leaves some leftover Guinness that just can't be wasted. I found this on www.partypeopleblog.com last year and have promised my son that my fingers will not get caught in the mixer again this time. That was before I drank the Guinness BTW.
Guinness Cupcakes with Bailey's Irish Icing
-For the Cupcakes-
1 bottle Guinness
1 cup(2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sour cream
Baking Temperature: 350 degrees
Baking Time: 17 minutes
Makes 24 Yummy Cupcakes
1. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
2. Bring Guinness and butter to a simmer in a large saucepan over medium heat.
3. Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Cool slightly
4. Using electric mixer, beat eggs and sour cream in a large bowl.
5. Add Guinness-chocolate mixture to egg mixture and beat until just combined.
6. Add flour mixture and beat on slow speed.
7. Fold batter until completely combined.
8. Fill cupcake liners, 2/3 to 3/4 full. Bake until toothpick comes out clean, about 17 minutes. Cool completely on a rack before icing.
-For the Frosting-
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
3 to 4 cups confectioners sugar
3 tablespoons Bailey's Irish Cream
1 tablespoon milk
1. Place the butter in a large bowl and beat until creamy.
2. Gradually add the sugar, one cup at a time, beating well (about 2 minutes) after each cup until a good consistency is reached.
3. Add Bailey's and milk until just combined.
Ice, decorate with sprinkles or a shamrock, and enjoy!!!!
Erin Go Braugh!!!
Playing new game called, "mean animals". Involves crawling around and howling as a pack of wolves and speaking in very mean voices. I get to be the three-legged wolf with 1 eye who carries about 30 beanie babies back and forth to our "mean wolf den".Read More