Tag Archives: family

How To Grow A Family Garden

 

On our quest for more fruits and veggies this year, we decided to branch out and grow a few more veggies than the norm. Eh? Well, the norm for us would be two or three sadly neglected and slumping tomato plants. My dad would be sorely disappointed at the sight of our annual mini-garden. Maybe three plants of the same variety doesn’t even count as a garden, but then again, we are not claiming to be farmers.

In an effort to boost the life expectancy of our plants and to encourage healthy agriculture that, ahem, that actually yields a modest harvest, I am recruiting some help.

It’s called family, people. And I need them.

How To Grow A Family Garden

 

Perhaps cultivating a family garden will help inspire all the non-hired hands to pitch in and make it a success. Considering that I’ll be nine months pregnant by summer’s end, I will certainly need all the help that can be mustered to push the plants to the finish line and harvest a decent crop. (Seriously, I won’t even be able to see my toes much less capable of bending over to a pluck a bell pepper from its bush.)

A tomato or two from each plant would make my summer. Any more and I’ll consider us a homesteading family.

Complete with our 4×8 patch of land.

Here are five basic tips on growing a family garden.

1. Pick the best area for your garden

For us, it is a given that we plant it in our backyard. We have HOA regulations that we have to abide by and pretty much eliminates any other option. It is the best location for our little garden anyways. The front of the house is clearly out, because, I mean really, who plows up their front lawn for produce? The west side of the house has some drainage problems and doesn’t receive enough sun and the east side has rodent issues that we are addressing. So we are left with the best choice (and the approved one), our backyard. Take the time to think through all of the pros and cons of each location before turning the soil. Doing it twice would not be fun.

2. Cultivate the soil

Everyone’s land is different. Here in the south we have quite a bit of red clay and sand which is not the best for growing a garden. Learn what you may have to mix in with your soil to create a garden bed in which your plants will truly thrive. In other words, know your dirt. Here’s a soil tester that may be of help to you as prepare your bed for your plants.

3. Choose your plants

Research plants that do really well in your climate. Talk with your friends and neighbors about what they are growing this year or have grown in years past. You may find that you can learn from their mistakes and avoid a costly and timely mishap. You also need to keep in mind, however, that sometimes specific plants do better than others for a myriad of reasons. Last year it may have been the tomatoes and this year the cucumbers may be the vegetable that surpasses your expectations…and that you can’t give away fast enough. A family can only eat so many jars of pickles, right?

You could also encourage your children in their love for vegetables by allowing them to be in charge of “their” favorite veggie, selecting the plant or seeds, weeding and watering and harvesting their produce for the family table.
*For those that may be curious: we have a variety of tomato plants, bell peppers and cucumber plants. Wish them luck, please.How To Grow A Family Garden

 

4. Care for your garden

This is where I typically fall off the wagon. Life gets busy with summer activities and I neglect my poor veggies far too often. Spend time nurturing your plants and they in turn will be good to you. Water them faithfully if your area goes through a dry spell. Remove weeds that may threaten your plants survival and stealing away nutrients that your plant needs. Keep your eyes peeled for bugs on your plants or even signs of rodents that have been nibbling your plants. I have already had issues with bugs on my tomato plants. You may need to research different methods to resolve these issues whether it be dusting your garden or perhaps even building a mesh cover (like seen on this blog) to protect your vegetables from pests, large or small. Or you may be like me and want to research all-natural ways for keeping your garden safe and healthy.

As a way to teach your children responsibility and how to work together, assign each child a section of the garden or their favorite veggies to weed and water during the growing season. They will enjoy watching their plants grow during the coming summer months.

5. Enjoy the Benefits of Your Hard Labor

As harvest time approaches, this is where your children will become increasingly excited about watching the produce grow and ripen, ready for picking. To be honest, I enjoy reaping the rewards of many hours caring for the garden. Make sure that the plants are still properly tied and staked so that you do not lose any produce rotting on the ground. Take the time to teach everyone what that particular vegetable should look like when it is ready to be picked. We recently picked over forty pounds of strawberries at a local farm and I spent a few minutes showing what a ripe strawberry looked and felt like to my girls. Whether you are eating your produce fresh, freezing or canning your harvest, you and your family will realize one thing.

Fresh, homegrown food tastes so much better.

_______________________________________________

So make it a family affair this summer. Learn about agriculture. Make memories. Teach them about responsibility and hard work. Enjoy fresh, real food. Together.

how to grow a family garden pin

(Disclosure: Some of the links contain affiliate links. I may earn a little bit of money which helps keep this blog up and running. All opinions are 100% my own. )

                               Thank you so much for reading.

Please take a moment to share this post, and then click here to follow along on Facebook. You will find additional helpful tips, encouraging articles, personal stories and so much more. I would love to have you join me there.

The Daily Dilemma {31 Days of Life. Contained.}

Life Contained 2014 button

This post is part of a series called 31 Days of Life. Contained. Want to catch up on the entire series? Click here. Want to stay connected and not miss another post? Follow me on facebook.

____________________

the daily dilemma

Managing the schedules of seven people can sometimes be overwhelming. My Mom Binder has been a huge help, however, there are times when I just need a daily reminder staring me in the face.

I needed that reminder for my kids to wear pink on Tuesday. For Fuzz to bring in paper towel tubes on Wednesday. For Bunny’s science and social studies tests on Thursday. For working in the church nursery on Sunday night.

creating a command center

Trying to keep it all straight makes my brain hurt and I inevitably forget something. Sometimes that one little thing can be huge. Yikes.

A family command center helps contain all of our scheduling needs and organize my reminders for me.

I’ve had this bulletin board almost since we were first married. I go through spurts of hating its cluttered presence in my home and removing it-to loving the organized feeling it brings me when I walk by. It is definitely a love/hate relationship.

organizing a family command center

I pulled it back out a month or so ago to help us stay on top of school schedules. This was the main culprit coming back to bite me every week.

With a family our size—perhaps any size family—a command center was an absolute must. This is a landing zone for flyers, school tickets, forms to return, church special events, etc.

Obviously from the photos, my command center is not perfect, but it does the job. For now I just have the bulletin board leaning against the wall until I’m finished with painting and trim in the kitchen. My push-pins are stored in the top drawer of the dresser.

family command center organization

Like I said it’s not perfect, but this board is saving my sanity. For this, I can look past any and all minor flaws.

____________________

tip 21

How about you? Do you have an area to remind you and your kids about specific details and events? Use a command center in your home? Consider the benefits of possibly instituting one in your home. As you have seen with my current one, it doesn’t always have to be pinterest-worthy. Perfection is not the goal—organization is.

Thanks for reading.

signature

S5, E5: Flip Flop {The Birth Story of Baby #5}

Woo-hoo. It is Wednesday and we are about to have a baby any day now in our Delivery Drama series. A baby, people!! If you are new to the blog or perhaps just this series, please take a moment to catch up on the previous posts in this mini-series. Each episode builds on the others, and reading the entire series will help today’s post make more sense. It’s completely up to you though. Here are the prior postings.

____________________

Season 5, Episode 1; (Pilot)   Baby Five  -The history behind it all

Season 5, Episode 2; Life Line  -The famed purple box

Season 5, Episode 3: Big Mama -The nine month growth spurt

Season 5, Episode 4: Fair Plan -The pizza that failed

____________________

flip flop

The alarm went off.

It was Wednesday, October 23, 2013, and I was still pregnant. To say that I was a bit discouraged over this fact would be putting it mildly. The dawning of my due date was 48 hours away and this thought alone heaped on tremendous anxiety. I needed to have this baby.

Yesterday’s adventure clearly did nothing for me. The thought of my failed attempt made me grumpy in spite of enjoying such a good night’s rest. The silver lining in this cloud would become clearer at a later time. For now, I was undeniably wallowing in self pity.

My frowny face is merely a result of nine months of accumulating hormones. I was thinking of a multitude of reasons and excuses for my blue mood as I lay there in the bed a few more moments.

I hefted myself into a sitting position and stood beside the bed a moment, just enjoying the darkness and quiet of our home.

My abdomen contracted. I rested a hand gently on my tummy as I waited for the tightening to pass.

Hmmm.

Oh well, another day, another Braxton Hicks. I was markedly determined to continue my morning disheartened -which was wrong, I know. (Ever been that pessimistic? If so, then you know exactly how I felt.) I shrugged off the pain, certain that I’d be overdue with this little one. There’s a first for everything, I thought glumly.

I walked down the hall and woke Bunny and Fuzz for school. It was 6:52 am.

I turned on the overhead lights to their room, called their names and called their names again. I was was not in a coddling mood. Forgive me.

Breakfast needed to be set out and lunches needed to be packed, so I walked back down the hall to the kitchen.

I’m still shuffling around in my pajamas at this point. If I would have had a bathrobe that actually fit my swollen state, I would have wrapped myself in it. The temperatures had dropped during the night and it was now freezing.

My hand was on the kitchen light switch when the next contraction hit. Again I took a moment to breath through it and then shook off this second “Braxton Hicks” to set out cereal bowls. I didn’t even note the time.

It’s nothing, I told myself.

The girls sleepily walked into the kitchen and after a brief prayer of blessing on the food and the day before us, they both began scarfing down their bowls. I shook my head. Cereal is probably the one of the top meals at our house, if you could call it that. Nothing like some carbs and dairy to start your day. 😉

Now was time for the task that I sort of dislike and was clearly avoiding -packing lunches. Although admittedly, I didn’t mind it as much as I used to since we now had an organized lunch drawer.

I began assembling their lunches at the kitchen counter. The girls were laughing, and conversing somewhat loudly for seven o’clock in the morning. Food had obviously lifted their spirits and chased away any lingering sleepiness. I smiled.

However, my smile turned more to a grimace as another strong contraction took over me. I was so, so glad that my back was to the table. I looked at the clock. 7:01.

My breath caught. Is this it? Am I really in labor?

With contractions already at approximately five minutes apart, it was not a good sign. As a precaution, I scooped up everything necessary for the stuffing of their lunch boxes and joined the girls at the kitchen table.

I never, ever sit to pack lunches, but I was hoping for two things.

First, that sitting down would reveal whether or not this was true labor. I have found that Braxton Hicks will disappear if I move around a bit, a combined effort of walking and resting. Was this labor? I really needed to know. Pronto.

Second, if this was real labor pains, sitting would hopefully stave off any rapid progression in my labor. It was, at the very least, worth my feeble attempt to try. It certainly wouldn’t hurt.

I continued to mask my pain as I worked my way through packing the lunch boxes. This normal morning distraction was both annoying and comforting. I couldn’t focus. Bunny had to tell me three times what she wanted for her morning snack. Gah.

Poor girls. Who knows what actually ended up in their lunch boxes that morning! I’d certainly not trust a woman in active labor to pack my lunch. But they didn’t know and it evidently didn’t hurt them either. Bless their hearts.

Thankfully, no one seemingly noticed or questioned my sitting in a chair. I said nothing about my contractions -not even to my husband when he entered the kitchen. No sense in scaring him until I was certain. I mean, really. I’d been having the occasional, yet strong Braxton Hicks for days. I wanted to be sure.

But what if I’m wrong though -and they’re not Braxton Hicks? What if the baby really is coming? Time alone would tell. And just to be sure, I kept a close eyeball on the clock and a mental list running in my mind.  7:06. 7:11. 7:15. 7:21. 7:26. You get the idea.

Trying to get two girls out the door for school, feeding two toddlers and attempting to sit as much as possible was not working out very well. I would gather and sign papers and then quickly sit back down. I stood back up to fix Fuzz’ hair, only to seek out my chair again as soon as I could. I’m not sure how I was even able to fix Bunny’s hair. In hindsight, headbands would have been so much faster. I could barely keep a straight face in front of my kids anymore. The pain and frequency was escalating faster than I thought possible.

the natural mama

I should have known at this point. And I probably should have told my husband. I have a lot of “probably should haves” from that morning.

However, my mind was totally zoned in on getting the older two settled safely at school. I would tell him later. Stupid plan, to be sure, but I was not thinking rationally at this point.

My mind was scrolling through a list of things that I needed to get done, things I needed to grab, and people I needed to call. Making sure our four older kids were where they needed to be was obviously at the top of our “we’re having the baby today” list. Sending Bunny and Fuzz off to school meant two down and only two more to go.

Relieved, I finally kissed the girls goodbye, planted a quick one on Hubs and closed the front door after them. It was 7:32 am.

My resolve to tell Hubs later went flying out the window, however, as the next contraction took over me. He needed to be told. Now. My fingers were shaking as I dialed his cell phone number.

“Hello.” (I love hearing his voice on the phone.)

“Hey,” I casually responded. “I just wanted to let you know that I think that I might be in labor. I wanted to let you know while you were out in case you wanted to swing by the church for any work that you might need later on today.”

I’m not sure why I felt like a disclaimer was warranted at this point. For crying out loud, the contractions were nearly bringing me to my knees. I guess that I didn’t want to shock him, after all this was news to him. Me, on the other hand, well, I’d already had over a half hour to adjust to the idea. Today really was the day.

Seriously, “I think I might be having a baby”?? That was the best you had?

Surely this little phone call was my “the time has come” moment if ever there was one -only I couldn’t quite muster the same theatrics as Desi Arnaz. My fumbling attempt came sputtering out much more in line with Lucille Ball’s – “Ricky, this is it” proclamation. (brownie points to everyone who has seen that episode of I Love Lucy)

“I might be in labor” was clearly the best that I could do at the moment. Sorry, Babe.

I had no sooner hung up the phone when I knew. There was no if, no maybe and no possibly. Strike that term “might” from the record-all doubt was gone.

Even though I didn’t call him back, I am so thankful for a husband who knows me better than I know myself. He wisely knew that stopping by the church would be a terrible mistake and instead raced back home to assess my labor for himself.

And let me tell you, it was not pretty sight.

I was vaguely aware when Hubs entered the house and walked into our bedroom. Zip and Pop were wandering around the house, fed but still in their jammies. I , however, was sitting like a statue on the side of our bed, afraid to move, afraid to sit still, afraid for the next contraction to sweep over me.

And I was still in my pjs myself…bed hair completed my look. I told you it wasn’t pretty.

During a lull, I tilted my head back and glanced up at my husband. The look on Hubs face said it all. His eyes were mirroring what my body was telling me. We were running out of time.

Hubs began dressing the little ones and changing diapers like a mad man.

“How far apart?” he called tersely.

I knew exactly what he meant. And my mental list was still going strong. I checked the time once more.

“Ummmm….like three – four minutes.” 

Pure panic was what I was reading in Hubs’ eyes now.

“Babe, you’ve got to get dressed. I know that you don’t want to move nor do you feel like moving….but you have to. Now!”

A cattle prod may have been helpful.

But the desperation in his voice was enough to cajole me out of my stupor. I clumsily dressed at a snail’s pace. I just couldn’t move. The pressure from the baby was through the roof. It felt like my water could break at any moment and I certainly did not want that to happen, not here, not now.

I wanted greatly to be free to focus and manage my way through this natural pain called childbirth, but instead I was enduring the irritation of attempting to put clothes on and hunting down a hairbrush. Boy, was it slow going.

Every three to four minutes I was overwhelmed with agonizing contractions and during those delicious moments of relief between the waves of pain, I wanted to do nothing but to sit and bask in the reprieve, to steady myself for the next round. But time was not allowing me that luxury, the clock was not my friend.

Hubs, on the other hand, was working circles around me. He was hastily grabbing all of our last minute items from around the house and keeping an eye on the kiddos while making a few important phone calls.

I could hear Hubs’ voice calmly explaining my situation to our babysitter and telling him to just meet us at the exit off of I-85. I straightened my top and denim skirt and sat back down on the bed, dragging a brush through my hair. Make-up was a mere pipe dream at this point. Styled hair -well, that was downright laughable. (How I managed both with Zip’s birth I’ll never know.)

Only I wasn’t laughing. By now, I was softly moaning.

Hubs came hurrying back into the bedroom.

“Ok, we really need to leave, Hon. What can I do to help you? Can I get you some shoes?”

(He’s just the greatest, is he not?)

“I want my flip flops.”

Flip flops are easy to put on, it’s true. But in my heart, I was planning ahead. What if….?

What if I needed to kick my shoes off in a hurry? What if they needed to, ahem, be sanitized later? Yes, flip flops were the best choice all around.

Hubs brought me my shoes and then left to buckle our two little ones in their car seats. I awkwardly stuffed my feet in the flip flops and sat there looking at my feet. It was a surreal moment.

Nothing was going as planned. It seemed as if every fear that I’d ever dreamed possible was now playing a major role in the events of my morning. Unbelievable.

having a baby

I needed to focus on the good thoughts. I was about to give birth to my fifth child. The details were still undecided, sure, but the chances were strong that I’d have a new baby in just a few hours -definitely by lunch. While I certainly didn’t need to be pinched to believe it, I was in awe. Five kids….soon.

Reflection time ended as another contraction knocked me over like a tidal wave. I felt more than saw my husband reenter the room.

“The kids are in the car. I have everything we need. We’re just waiting for you. Come on, Babe. I’ll help you to the car. You can do this.”

Bless his heart.

With Hubs’ hand on the small of my back, supporting me, I began tottering my way out of our house, swaying like a drunken sailor and grabbing the walls as I went. The pressure was just indescribable. With each step I took, the more I felt like the baby was going to just fall out on the floor in front of me. Cute waddling was a thing of the distant past. There was and is no term for the my promenade out the front door.

And I was still moving at the rate of an expiring turtle. (No, I’ve never seen one, but that pretty much sums up my speed. Trust me. If you ever see one, you’ll think of me and this moment.)

Ever so slow.

My heart was racing and I literally felt like I was going to be sick.

I stepped outside to an extremely cloudy and overcast morning. It looked like it could rain at any minute, and the wind was whipping at my skirt and pulling back my hair. The fact that I was freezing and probably needed a coat didn’t even register.

Somehow, I managed to make my way down the front steps. Hubs reached around me to open the car door to the passenger seat. From inside the open door, I could see Pop sitting directly behind my seat and Zip silently observing me from her perch on the back row. They were as quiet as mice -highly unusual. I’m sure that they sensed that something was about to happen.

I hesitated briefly, eyeing my chair. I hated to say it, but I had to.

“Hubs, ummm,…….we’re gonna need the emergency birth kit ready. Let’s cover my seat and the floor at my feet -just as precaution.”

Wordlessly, he spread out the necessary plastic and helped settle me on it. Then he shut the door.

It was 8:30 am. Had it really only been roughly an hour and a half since that first twinge?

Let me just stop right here and say that there really are no words to adequately describe the myriad of emotions that was threatening to overthrow me. I am speechless. Fear, pain, disbelief, excitement and more pain barely even scrape the surface.

I watched as Hubs ran around the car, opened his car door and climbed in. I could feel another contraction beginning to peak. Practically simultaneously, Hubs shut his door, started the van and put the gears in reverse.

He hadn’t even touched his foot to the gas pedal when I began gasping for air.

“Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!! No, no, no. Aw, Babe, my water’s breeeaking.”  As a good southern girl, I can certainly belt out a rebel yell any ol’ day, but I was desperately trying to not scar my sweet children sitting behind me. Not that I’ve ever yelled during labor, but their presence was certainly cramping any possibilities. Instead my outburst was a somewhat of a cross between a stunned declaration and a helpless whimper.

We hadn’t even left our driveway, our DRIVEWAY, and we had a long stretch of interstate driving ahead of us. And morning work traffic.

45 minutes to be exact. Yes, that number had certainly returned to haunt us.

The van was still rolling backwards and I was already kicking off my wet shoes.

Niiice.

Forget the flip-flops. My heart was managing those just fine.

-to be continued-

_____________________________

Here are the links to the following episodes. :)

Season 5, Episode 6: Wild Ride -The 45 minute attempt

Season 5, Episode 7: News Baby -The drama of television

_______________________________

Thanks for reading.

signature

 

 

 

The Illness Irritation {31 Days of Life. Contained.}

Life Contained 2014 button

This post is part of a series called 31 Days of Life. Contained. Want to catch up on the entire series? Click here. Want to stay connected and not miss another post? Follow me on facebook.

____________________

the illness irritation

So someone’s feeling green, eh?

When you are sick or someone you love is sick, the last thing that you want to be doing is scrounging through cabinets looking for relief or for the thermometer.

Ever been there?

Those thermometers can sometimes be nasty little buggers to find.

How did I solve this??

 I created a “sick” caddy quite sometime ago -over a year, I think- after seeing this post. The idea of having everything that I needed in one handy spot, and a portable zone to boot, was really appealing to me. It has made “bedside calls” so much more convenient whenever I happen to don my Nurse Mommy cap.

green caddy

Shortly after deciding that I wanted to create this organizer, I snagged up this caddy for fifty cents at a yard sale. It sure beat paying $5-$10 at the store. I absolutely love finding deals for specific items that I’m looking for. And the color was perfect for the need, if you get my drift.  😉

medicine organizer

Hubs and I try to be careful with what medicine we take and administer to our children. So as you stock your container, think about your medications and whether or not there are safer alternatives. Again, the shade of my caddy reflected my medicinal preferences perfectly, a green girl. Love that.

(FYI: This caddy is for occasional, common viruses. I’m certainly not advocating that you ditch prescription medications for chronic issues. More natural options is something to possibly research and definitely discuss with your doctor.)

Natural lozenges are ready to sooth sore throats and homeopathic cough/cold syrups are ready to aid in rest and relief from a troublesome, lingering cold. We don’t use fever reducers that often as a fever is a natural and God-given method for fighting illnesses. Our bodies truly are an amazing testament to the greatness of our God.

cough medicines

I also included a little notebook and pen to keep track of medicine times and any other pertinent information that may be necessary to relay to medical professionals later.  My mom brain has the tendency to get a bit fuzzy at inopportune times, possibly due to lack of sleep. Yes, let’s blame it on fatigue.

Pocket tissues are available to slip into purses, diaper bags, computer bags and/or school book bags. The thermometer is handy for keeping an eye on rising temperatures. Rubbing alcohol is also available for disinfecting items.

sick caddy 101

Last of all, I have stickers. Stickers bring smiles. And smiles -well, they help relieve a mother’s heart.

Then we both feel better.

____________________

So how about you? Do you have a basket or box stocked with necessities to fight the coming cold/flu season? Even if you don’t have children, a sick caddy is great tool to have ready. Create a portable zone dedicated to restoring a healthier home, a healthier you.

tip 3

 If you don’t have a sick caddy, but would like to start one, here’s a quick list of things that you may want to include in it. So go ahead, make one -there’s still time before the cold/flu season hits us hard. You’ll thank me for it.

sick caddy shopping list

What else would you put in a sick caddy? Please share. I’d really love to hear.

signature