Sunday, August 26, 2012

Foundation Work

First something dug up the bell pepper.  A critter that wanted its hole right where my pepper was planted.  It didn't eat the pepper, which was even more insulting.  Just unearthed it one night.  I found it the next morning lying limply next to its hole.  I quickly replanted it, fertilized it, watered it, liking myself a sort of transplant surgeon, but the transplant wasn't a success as the pepper hasn't been the same since.

Then there were the tomatoes.  Tomatoes aplenty we had.  Fat, I mean big, fat green tomatoes, just waiting for the sun to warm their flesh red.  And the smell.  Oh, the smell of garden tomatoes.  One day, I walked out to the garden just to smell those tomatoes.  I knelt on the ground and studied the plants.  The smile on my face slowly fading as I studied the plants, but didn't see the tomatoes.  I looked and looked and finally spotted it.  A single shell of a tomato there in the dirt beside the plant.  

As I pondered this what-done-it gardening mystery, my head turned oh so slowly over my shoulder at my three chickens, nonchalantly scratching in the grass behind me.  I glared angrily.  They continued scratching, oblivious to my dirty looks.

I shook my anger off.  You can't really be angry at a chicken.   Well, you can, but that just makes you silly.   When confronted with a chicken ransacked garden, you are faced with two options:

 Option 1: Take it in cheerful stride as my sister, Carrie, did after her chickens ate through their kale supply.  "I just eat my vegetables in the form of eggs," she said with a smile and a shrug, and went about her day.

 Option 2: Put up a fence.  This is the more expensive and less tasty option, but the option I took nonetheless.  In part, because it had been on my farming bucket list to learn how to build a proper fence.  And what better time to build one (other than the obvious answer of eight weeks ago)?

One successful fence-building lesson later, the chickens and I sat on the grass outside of the fence, looking in at the sorry state of the garden.  They pecked around wondering how to get through the fence and I sat wondering where I'd gone wrong with this gardening adventure. The embarrassing state of the few stalks of corn actually producing ears couldn't be explained by critters or even the drought as I had been diligent in watering, weeding, and fertilizing throughout the summer.  Wasn't there something about seeing the fruits of my labor?  Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the daily rituals of gardening immensely.  I'd just sort of thought something would come of it at the end of the season.  And by something, I mean something edible.  As I sat there thinking with my chickens, I recalled that more often than not, when we were weeding, the kids and I would share a laugh upon digging up a little plastic army guy several inches in the soil.  Tossing it into the bonfire pile, the weeding would continue, not giving it too much thought.  But now, my little chicken brain thought really hard and recalled weeding up little plastic bottles and metal lids on occasion at the southern end of the garden.  Was it possible that our garden site-picked as the spot because it was sparse in growing grass and therefore easier to dig-was actually a green army guy wasteland of sorts?  The chickens and I looked at each other.

I'm obviously no garden expert, but I suspect the soil had something to do with the pitiful results of this garden.  You can't build a bountiful garden on a poor foundation, right? No matter how hard you work, how much you prune and care, it is in vain if the very foundation is toxic.  Foundation work.

I'm not too disheartened, as I did enjoy the process of gardening.  And I'm sure we'll enjoy our four ears of dioxin and bishphenol rich corn.  And this fall, we'll be sure to start in on that foundation work.

Life lesson learned.  Christi: 1  Chickens: 0

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Twirl Factor

I'm ashamed to admit it, but for awhile I tried my best to change it.

Another admission, (what a gift the anonymity of a blog provides for parental confessions!), sometimes I try to 'mold' my children into the little people I'd like them to someday become.  I lose myself and quickly forget that God had something very special in mind when He created my children, making them just the way He wanted.  As a mom, I have many, many jobs to do in raising these little ones, none of which include molding them into something.  The potter has already done his work.  It was only recently that a dear friend, Beth, changed my frame of reference as a mom by bringing this to my attention, and I often still need reminders as they grow.

A reminder came recently in the daily struggles of getting E dressed each morning.  

You see, E loooooves dresses.  Loves, loves, loves them.  The sparkly-er and poofy-er, the better.  I'm all for sparkly and poofy, but children need balance, right?  Mornings had become a repetitive struggle reminiscent of Groundhog Day.  E would ask for a dress that was dirty, weather inappropriate, a dress just for church, etc.  I'd offer a few choices of what I felt to be appropriate substitute outfits, only to have them rejected by a sassy-faced  three-year old.  I tried all of my parenting techniques to help us ease through this stage, but my attempts to broaden her fashion repertoire to include jumpers or blue jeans, even skirts were met with pouting if not a full fledged tantrum.  Worry started to set in as I am a worrying sort of mom (more about that another time).  I wanted E to understand from an early age that her beauty comes from the inside, to recognize the special gifts that God gave to her in making her spirit beautiful, and that all the other stuff is just bonus cuteness (minus the tantrums and sassy-faces).  As Beth Moore teaches in her book, So Long Insecurity, I pray that my little girl will have such strong roots in her faith, that her security will be found in Him when those yucky peer-pressure teenage years hit.  And I know that this root system begins with me.  And I help to pick out her clothes...follow me? My intentions were good, right?  But an ugly side to my parenting surfaced and a morning power struggle ensued several times a week.  And while I haven't read all of Mrs. Moore's book, I strongly suspect her message does not suggest building a young lady's self confidence by having morning battles over poofy princess dresses.

One day, shortly after breakfast, but before heading out for the day, something urged me to sit and watch.  So, I sat and watched.  Just quietly watched, as my daughter danced in the sunbeams.  Twirling and twirling around, smiling to herself, her eyes cast downward at her dress watching it rise and fall around her.  How innocent and beautiful, and I quickly chastised myself for my assumptions and worries.  I had been, up until this moment, assuming that my insecurities would someday become her insecurities.  I had become so focused on E's respect and obedience that I had completely gone of course and it took just this moment to bring me back to the right path.  It was like solving a problem backwards.  Lost in the moment watching my little girl, I wished again for the days when the most important factor in getting dressed in the morning was choosing the dress that will twirl the highest, that would put a melody in my mind, and dancing in my steps.

As with all stages of childhood, the dress stage is slowly fading, and most mornings run smoothly.  Although, it's entirely possible that E sensed my relaxing my grip a little and relaxed hers as well.  Either way, the issue of course is not the stage, not the item of clothing.   It's recognizing the miracle of God's handiwork in my children, taking the time to quietly observe, and rejoicing.  Always rejoicing.  

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.  2 Corinthians 4:7

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Case of the Staple Gun and Adult-Onset ADD

Toss the duct tape aside! Unplug the hot glue gun!  Momma's got a new domestic tool in her handbag!

One of the many perks of working in home-care is first dibs on dumpster diving, which I regularly take advantage of.  Last fall, on my way to an appointment, I spotted an old, beat-up looking ottoman on the road, set out for trash.  The pleather corners were chewed up and the legs were a little loose, and I suspected that with a little work it would be just perfect for a mudroom. I grabbed the steering wheel and veered the car sharply, parking along side of the road in such a way as to block any other would be scavenger's view of my find.  I heaved the furniture item into my car and hauled it to its new home in my garage where it waited until I moved here to our farmhouse several months ago. Our farmhouse that was complete with a mudroom, I might add.

The ottoman remained in its shabby state until one perfect crafting Saturday happened upon me. I indulged in a purchase of some fabric and a super deluxe staple gun  at a hobby store.  I was just giddy with excitement.   A staple gun!  The crafting world was now my oyster!  I can't sew, you see.  Or rather, I'm sure I could, I did learn how, but I don't have the patience for it at all.  I blame my mother, of course.  Just as my daughter will someday blame me for all of her domestic challenges.  Actually to be fair, my mother is an excellent seamstress.  As a child, I was the only troop member who proudly boasted Brownie patches sewn over holes in my bathing suit acquired from a summer of climbing trees in my purple one-piece.  She just doesn't enjoy sewing.  My mom and I share a creative bug combined with the attention span of a goldfish, as I was reminded during my first attempt at reupholstering.

I went staple gun crazy, imagining the possibilities before me with each squeeze of the trigger.  New curtains! Halloween costumes! Repairing that tear in the armrest of the couch!  I was a little squeeze happy and ran out of staples well before my mental crafting list was completed, but not before I discovered that a staple gun's accomplishments do not include recovering a dog bed.  Some things are better left to duct tape, I suppose.