On Gardening

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In colder weather. So glad those days are gone.

Gardening is something I wish I liked but I do not. Not much, anyway. No sooner do I pull all those damn weeds out, then new ones come up.

Also:
mosquitos
low back pain
sweating
wearing the wrong clothes and showing my backside while leaning over the same flower bed for the third hour

My favorite form of gardening is laying down sheets of weed blocker and covering it with mulch. Neat and tidy, and I don’t have to deal with it again for a while.

In spite of that, I just put gladiolus bulbs in the ground (thanks Steph!) and three little plants from Southern States. My neighbor (hi James!) got them for me last weekend when I was sort of staring at this patch in the corner of the yard. So I put those in the ground, too. And then went back to Southern States today with my little plastic yard-markers and asked for three more of each of those same plants my neighbor got me.

The saleslady asked if I wanted anything else- annuals, periannuals, ground cover?- and I gave her the old “bite my lip, shrug, and look inept” look. She helped me load my little pallet o’ plants in the front of the jeep while I loaded the kids in the backseat.

*Here’s something to know: you can get major mom points for gardening with your kids in Charlottesville! A woman at Southern States practically awarded my two oldest college scholarships for coming along and “helping” me. (To which I say: ha. They played tag in the nursery and didn’t come when I told them it was time to go.) Various passers-by gave us the “isn’t that sweet?” smile when walking by today, as the baby wielded his own little hand spade and the Monkey wore orange gardening gloves. Chicken showed our neighbor her five worms, which is simultaneously gross and endearing. We’re the picture of urban gardening bliss.*

I hope my plants don’t die. My butterfly bush in the backyard appears dry and fit for kindling, but I am dutifully mulching and hoping it shocks me and comes back for another round this summer.

I have one more strip of yard that I want to magically become colorful with flowers, and also weed-free. Which brings me back to the weedblocker/mulch idea. I pretty much want to put planters down on top of a bed of mulch. Weed-blocker means less time hunched over a flower bed this summer, and containers seem about as simple as it can get. However, I looked at the pinterest and the google and was unable to find any gardens that show this level of laziness.

Planters of flowers, on top of a perfectly good bed of mulch: Is this a thing, or does it just look like I haven’t gotten around to planting things in the ground yet? If it is in any way acceptable, I’m doing it.

Smoothies and Stuff

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It is smoothie weather around here. I make them just about every afternoon lately. The kids love them and so do I.

I know I’ve written about smoothies before but, strangely, I’ve had two smoothie-related conversations this week and that seemed like enough to warrant writing about it again. For us, this is a great way to get greens in the kids in a way that they enjoy.

For a long time I made our green smoothies with milk as a base. I liked the protein that milk provided, to balance out the sugar from the fruit. (Sometimes all that sugar makes me feel jittery. Protein brings it all down a notch). My boys liked them, but at some point Chicken did not. (And neither did my husband. But I’m not so concerned about him- he is a big boy and can manage to eat his greens other ways). But then I started making them with watered-down apple juice (so much sugar!) and Chicken is back on the smoothie bandwagon. (So is my husband). I am also using kale now, instead of spinach. Because- why not? It’s a superfood! If I serve kale at dinner the kids will eat their required two pieces, but in a smoothie they pound a lot of that stuff. Observe:

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So. Apple juice, frozen fruit, kale, maybe that banana that is getting mushy anyway. Blend. Enjoy.

In other news, we are a couple of months out from finishing Whole30 and for several weeks our eating had just reverted to the way it formerly was, but worse. It was like getting better after a stomach bug and realizing you are ravenous.

*EAT EVERYTHING IN SIGHT*

So that happened for a several weeks and my lovely hubby and I decided we felt ick about being so out of control. So we’ve been reining it in as a family and cutting back on the refined sugar. We have one occasion a week to just eat whatever we want, but other than that I’m back to reading labels and substituting molasses for sugar and all that hippie stuff. I’m also just grossed out by seeing how sugar is in every single thing out there. Why is sugar listed as an ingredient in Tyson chicken breasts? Why???

Lastly, I finally put all of our winter stuff in the attic and- glory be- what a feeling that was. With that momentum going, I also filled up the back of the Mazda and took a run to Goodwill. I love getting rid of stuff when I feel bogged down. Nine times out of ten, when my house and its’ mess overwhelms me, I just need to get a bunch of stuff out of the house. Makes cleaning so much easier.

Now that I’ve really painted a glorious picture of myself (I mean: green smoothies, no refined sugar, and clutter-free house), please note the background of this blurry phone picture. Crib mattress on the dining room floor, big-ass blue plastic ball machine that no one else in the entire Charlottesville universe wanted either (I tried to give it away on facebook and was greeted with a deafening silence), and a desk that is chronically overflowing.

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Lest anyone get the wrong idea.

Happy Friday!

What I am Reading and Doing

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Chicken’s first letter, written to Granny. This was entirely her own doing, and is extremely cute. Translation at the bottom.

Last month I had a loose goal to stay off screens in the evenings. Or something like that. See- I don’t even remember the exact goal, because that’s how seriously I took it. (Not at all).

My idea was to read more books. And I tried- I really did. But, honestly, finding good books that I looked forward to reading (instead of watching New Girl or reading blogs/fb) was hard.

I tried a few books that friends had recommended. I read about 50 pages of “Daring Greatly” and then had to return it to the library. And- honestly? I don’t know if I’ll go back and check it back out. Similar to “Quiet“, I feel like I read my 50 pages and got the gist of it. I know that really doesn’t give credit to the book in its’ entirety. But when I read “Quiet”, I feel like I learned the main point in the first little stretch, then relearned it again in different ways until the end. My thought with “Daring Greatly” is- did I already learn the main point in the first 50 pages? That vulnerability is a seemingly counterintuitive good thing? Great! I agree! And I’m not sure I need to read the rest of the book to be even more convinced. Hence, book abandoned at 50 pages.

I also picked up “Quotidian Mysteries” again. A friend gave me this book when Chicken was a baby and I marked it up, underlining and starring so many portions. (Then I gave that copy away, which I have regretted ever since. Mostly because the newer copy I just purchased has a horrible cover. And I wish I could see all the underlining I did the first time I read this, with my first little baby in tow. Boo.) Returning to this short book (really a lecture that Kathleen Norris gave once, in print form) has been great. One of those that I read and keep thinking “hmm…yes!”.

So, now that I have complained about two bestselling books that have changed people’s entire lives for the better- any book suggestions for me?

(And I’ll give you a big old eye roll if you think I can muster enthusiasm for the classics or something like that, at the end of the day. That is just not where I am these days. Minimal brain power required, please.)

Moving on:

Here is something I read today, and I liked it. My husband and I had this sort of conversation a few times around the topic of brain surgery and the emotions that came with that. How much of those emotions (namely sadness or fear) do we show to the kids, and how much do we try to keep hidden, to deal with in private? We didn’t want to alarm our kids, and certainly we set a strong tone for how everyone is going to feel about the hospital visits and tests. But I don’t like the idea of being stoic and brave all the time, either. Because a) that’s wildly inauthentic at times and b) it’s okay for our kids to see us sad or worried, and see how we handle that. (Right? Where’s the “How to Walk Your Family Through Brain Surgery” handbook?). Anyway. I thought this post about arguing was good food for thought in terms of what we show and do not show our kids.

Lastly, I read this a few weeks ago and have been on the oil-pulling train ever since. This should come as no surprise, given that I also tried washing my face with oil (success! Still doing it!) and going shampoo-free (abandoned long ago) and going antiperspirant-free (please let’s never talk about that again. It makes my armpits hurt, just thinking about it).

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I hope you have a good time and I hope that you come back someday.

That is how I feel about you, reader.