Sprouts and Our Growing Garden

I can’t say for sure that I’ve ever really had a green thumb per say. I have only bought slightly matured flowering plants/trees for our yard, so I’ve never started anything from seeds until our Flower Moon planting day when we sowed our seeds. I am super excited that the watermelon seeds we planted are now sprouting.

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The corn has also shown signs of rooting. I’m waiting on the cucumbers and peppers to show signs, but so far nothing. We have 4 tomato plants in the yard also and so far only 1 tomato is forming.

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We also have several berries popping up on our premature blackberry bush around the side of the house.

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I was waiting to build our raised garden until I had some success at the sowing the seeds part. I didn’t want to waste time and money on that project until I could prove to myself I could do it. I’m still not even confident enough. I really want our food garden to strive.

As far as our flowers go, they are doing great. We’ve been here a tad over a year and we have 2 mature day lily plants about to bloom for their 2nd year and a third we just bought has bloomed it’s first year and looks good. I love lily’s and we plan on planting many different color varieties from bulbs next year. I’m excited. I still need to lay weed fabric down and add mulch to the addition of this flower bed, so you can see a lot of grass around this plant for now.

We also just added rocks in a circle around out front water fountain (which is green because we need to replace the pump) and transplanted 4 Hostas (from my mother’s yard, so one of them is a little snipped from a lawn mower) in this section, it will also have weed fabric laid down and mulch added when we get a chance. The rocks in the center at the base of the fountain are positioned looking at picture North (behind fountain) South (front) West (left) and East (right), that information will help us with certain gardening aspects.

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We had to replace two of our Lavender plants on the hill the other week. Not sure what happened but out of our transfer of 6 plants, two didn’t make it. They are all looking very healthy now and growing taller and taller.

Our Flowering Pear Trees have grown about 6 inches too. They are looking great. I can’t wait to see them matured in several years. Our Pink Magnolia is looking great too. It only got one bloom on it earlier this Spring, but I’m hoping next Spring it will have many more blooms on it so I can get pictures. The yard is going to transform so much once everything is matured. We plan to have many plants that stay green all year and some that bloom in spring, summer and autumn so we have color all year round. Eventually for esthetic purposes I want a PVC picket fence across the front and on left and right of yard.

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One day we’re going to aerate the yard and put down some weed killer and grass seed because honestly about 97% of our yard is nothing but weeds.

Above, picture on the left is the part of the yard where we will most likely have the raised garden for the watermelons and the picture on the right side is where we want to build some layered raised garden beds about 1-2 feet wide down the side of the house so that we can plant strawberries and other plants in there.

I really enjoy being in the yard and gardening with my husband and our kids. Being outside is so serene for us, watching the kids play and just enjoying the fresh air. We want to create an oasis for us and a fun space for the kids to enjoy as well and so we’ll have a beautiful view all year round. Which means that there is so much we want to do, there’s just no way of knowing what we’ll do next.

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Sprouts and Our Growing Garden

Fruits,Vegetables and Our Kids

I’m 26 years old and not ashamed of having been a picky eater most of my life, but I give myself credit for actually trying foods before saying I don’t like them… for instance today while I was at my mothers house she was eating Brussels Sprouts. I’d never had them before and I’ll tell you right now, I’ll never have them again. I couldn’t even force myself to finish chewing, let alone swallow the darn thing. I couldn’t see how people actually enjoyed them, yet her and my husband kept popping them in their mouth. Gross.

We don’t raise picky eaters… at least in the sense that we make them try something at least once or twice before making a final decision. We don’t let them say they don’t like something having never tried it and then allow them to refuse to eat it forever. After trying it we’ll go a while, a few months or so, before we’ll introduce it again, because surprisingly in some cases they end up liking it. I’ll give an example in just a bit.

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My oldest (10 years old) eats onions raw and cooked, she eats corn,lettuce, potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, green beans, asparagus, beans, celery, cucumber, pickles, she eats raw bell peppers, carrots, broccoli, and more. So far there hasn’t been many vegetables (that we eat often) that she hasn’t ended up liking after trying them. Some of the ones she doesn’t like are zucchini, tomatoes or peas. Plus side, she likes every fruit we’ve put in front of her.

My oldest son (7 years old) likes potatoes, sweet potatoes, celery, cucumbers, and beans. He’s been working on trying more things like bell peppers, zucchini, asparagus, squash and onions. He doesn’t like lettuce (except for salad), corn (except corn on the cob), carrots, broccoli, tomatoes, peas or green beans either. He’ll also eat every fruit put in front of him.

My middle son (5 years old) loves corn, grape tomatoes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, pickles, cucumbers, carrots, broccoli, beans, celery. So far not a fan of peas, asparagus, onions, peppers, squash, lettuce (except a salad) or zucchini. He will eat all fruits.

My youngest daughter (4 years old) likes corn, lettuce, potatoes, sweet potatoes, pickles, cucumbers, carrots, broccoli, beans, celery. She does not like tomatoes, peas, asparagus, onions, peppers, squash, or zucchini. She’s a big fan of fruits of course.

My youngest son (almost 3 years old) loves pretty much all foods put in front of him. He will eat anything. He’ll eat onions, lettuce, tomatoes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, green beans, asparagus, beans, celery, cucumber, pickles, peas, peppers, carrots, broccoli, and more. He devours all fruits put in front of him, when he was littler he didn’t like the texture of blueberries, but he’s gotten over that.

The tricky part is getting all the plates ready at dinner. My husband and I juggle the who doesn’t want what and who will eat what to decode the algorithm for who gets what portions and of what foods. It’s entertaining though in a way.

Like I mentioned a little above, the kids have tried many varieties of veggies (both raw and cooked versions) over time. We’ve learned what they’ll eat and what they won’t (for now). Sometimes they will ask to try something again on their own and sometimes we’ll just have them try something again to be sure they don’t end up really wanting it on their plate at dinner. In many cases they ended up liking it after a 4th or 5th attempt versus the first few tries. Pickles being one of those feats. We had 3 kids that would not finishing eating a pickle after the first bite and now they can’t get enough. My husband and I eat a lot of fresh vegetables & fruits throughout the day as healthy snack choices, the kids love it too so they gnaw on them along side us.

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I think trying new things is beneficial and I wish my parents had been more enforcing when it came to trying foods as a child because I probably would end up liking more things today. For the past 9 years of my life I’ve been a firm believer in trying something before concluding distaste indefinitely. To the point where even if it’s prepared a different way, I’ll try it again. I’ve surprised myself with the things I did really end up liking. The kids are the same way, they will truly think they won’t like something because of the way it looks, sounds (the name) or smell… but then they end up loving it and not getting enough. It’s struck such an interest in them that they wanted to grow their own vegetables in our garden. So far we’re rooting potatoes, we have 4 tomato plants, and we’ve planted corn and peppers. We also have 2 berry bushes and have planted watermelons. Hoping that all that has successful growth. We’re looking forward to having our own fresh grown food for the table and plan on creating a better vegetable garden next year.

 

Fruits,Vegetables and Our Kids

Voodoo and Ragdolls

I have never attempted to make dolls before in my life. Last night I was looking at some of my crafting materials while throwing mismatch socks into a basket… ah ha!!! I’ve always wanted to make a sock doll. So I got everything I needed together and I started.

After finishing the doll I sewed a felt dress for her. While I was creating this neat little doll my youngest daughter comes in and lets out an ecstatic shriek, IS THAT MY NEW DOLL!? I said sure she is and handed her over. She adored her.

I couldn’t get her to put her down for the rest of the day which made the other children want dolls of their own. So away I went… working my fingers to death. lol

I had already made little  voodoo dolls for my own use, but decided I can always make more for me and so I added eyes and gave them to my oldest and middle sons.

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So my next craft was to make my oldest daughter her own ragdoll and she sat and watched as she was created. Here’s a picture of the girls and their ragdolls below (excuse my daughter’s pizza sauce face she had just run away from the table to take a picture with her sister)

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The girls didn’t mind that their dolls were bald. But after I showed them the yarn I did have here already, they just wanted them to have it. So here is the transformation from bald dollies, to some yarn hair. (this was my first ever attempt at something like this, it’s a learning progress)

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After I did the hair, I had been thinking of mermaids, which of course led me to start making one. A zombie one.

I took a picture of the voodoo man, zombie mermaid and the green monster.

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I definitely see more dolls in my future. I love creating them. They are so cute, or at least I think so anyways and the kids LOVE THEM!

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The fairy ragdoll I made my step-daughter per her request. She loves it.

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Our girls had endless fun with their dolls all weekend long.IMG_5730

Voodoo and Ragdolls

Advise from our Nutritionist

My husband and I love trying to lose weight with different experiments, even if it’s only for a short while. Last year we lost 15 lbs each in two weeks just from cutting out potatoes, pasta, bread, sodas and sugary things. Once we plateaued, we just kept eating the same way and eventually went back to eating those things and we’ve just stayed at our new weight.

This year we haven’t done anything different. Even being the active people we are, it just seems like our weight is stuck to us.

We spoke to a nutritionist/personal trainer who explained what our bodies are doing in our situation. We don’t eat often or enough (being as busy as we are), so when we do eat that one big meal a day (for us it’s dinner), our bodies store every single bit of it just about. We are a very routine family, so our bodies have grown accustom to this schedule we’re on. The nutritionist said that we need to take one day a week and do erratic excessive exercise, such as running for an hour. It’s random, it’s different and that ONE day will tell the body “oh crap! I can’t store all this fat”, it goes into survivor mode and realizes it needs to be able to be on the go to “escape predators”. Don’t turn it into a schedule because once the body realizes a routine, it will be harder to burn the fat and you’ll fall back into a plateau. He also told us that we don’t need to cut out all of our favorite foods, just to portion them and to eat more often throughout the day. He said even if it’s a handful of nuts or a candy bar or some chips, anything (he suggested healthier snacks would be a better choice, obviously) every couple hours just to keep the metabolism working instead of it working all at one time when we do eat a meal. He said that also keeps you less hungry, so when it is time to eat, you don’t eat as much in one sitting. (You also have to be active too, don’t just sit around and eat all day)

Staying hydrated is another one of our issues. I can drink a pot of coffee a day but I struggle to drink more than three 16oz bottles of water a day. I’ve come across a list of top 10 hydrating foods and their water makeup. We already buy and eat them often, but we’re going to be buying them in more excess. Eating these during the day it will help us fill hunger as a healthy snack food, to boost our metabolism because we’ll be eating throughout the day and also to keep us hydrated. Our favorites are cucumber, celery, and pineapple.

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So with all this information in mind. My husband and I are going to follow the advice of the nutritionist and see if we can find some success in it.

Advise from our Nutritionist

It’s okay to get your hands dirty.

After a comment on my post about my addiction to gardening that I shared on Facebook, someone was talking to me about the microbes in soil and how it acts as an antidepressant. These good bacteria actually boost the immune system and allows the body to release more serotonin which makes you feel better. (I’ve shared a link to an article about it at the bottom)  I was intrigued with this discovery (especially since I do suffer from depression). I knew there was a reason why I love playing in dirt. I mean who doesn’t right? I love the smell of soil and getting my hands dirty. I could stay outside all day with the kids just playing in the dirt.

My Poppy used to have a homemade dirt/sand box in his backyard when we were young and my cousins and brother and I would dig trenches and fill it with water. We constructed buildings all over and bridges over the trenches. It was hours and hours of fun.

The bottom of our yard is mostly, well… dirt. Sadly though we do not have a dirt/sand box, but that doesn’t stop the kids from getting super dirty. They make mud cakes and build little houses with wood, rocks and dirt for their outside toys. They play restaurant and other imaginative things kids do. They would stay outside all day if they could.

We go hiking or walking every clear weekend we get, since my husband does not work weekends, it’s the only relaxing time we get to enjoy the outdoors. We usually collect nature things on our walks. The kids bring home neat looking sticks, moss, leaves and rocks they’ve come across. We used to have a shelf inside designated for all the rocks and things, but with 5-6 kids bringing home little treasures, it filled up fast and we ran out of room so we started just keeping their discoveries in the garden.

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I’ve been doing some reading on the antidepressant microbes in soil.
Here’s a link to a website with a good article about it. Gardening Chemistry…
It’s interesting to say the least. I never would have thought something such as dirt would actually have some health benefits for us. I’m always looking for new methods of self-help considering I’ve suffered from depression and anxiety for 12 years. I prefer to be non-medicated because of all the side-effects from the medications I used to be on. I’m always reading and looking for natural remedies and techniques for handling my depression and anxiety on my own. I’ve been doing good overall for the past few years, some days though, are harder than others. I’m going to be doing my own research and experiments with soil and see what the conclusions are overall. I already know being outside in nature (in the woods, near streams) and in the garden and in the dirt makes me feel better, more calm, more grounded, but now if I do get a dark day I’ll know what may help. It’s worth a shot.

All this talk about dirt has me thinking. I’m going to build a new play station in the backyard for more dirt play and soil exploration for the kids. I’ll make a post about it when it’s built and in action.
It’s okay to get your hands dirty.

How to make homemade finger paint

You can find these ingredients in your own kitchen for endless enjoyment and sensory play with your child.

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What you need:

  • Food Coloring
  • 1/2 cup Cornstarch
  • 4 tbsp Sugar
  • 2 cups Cold Water

or substitute cornstarch for 1/3 cup flour and pinch of salt.
{2 tbsp of sugar in a saucepan, add 1/3 cup flour and whisk in 2 cups of cold water over medium heat until thickened. Pour into small cups, add food coloring, stir and voila}

Process:

1. Mix sugar and cornstarch in a pot then add the cold water.

2. Cook the mixture over medium heat, stirring until it becomes thick.

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3.When the mixture is cool, spoon it into small cups and add food coloring, then stir.

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Have fun finger painting! I know we will!

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How to make homemade finger paint

We don’t do Santa, Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny or Lies

May 2006 I had my first born child and I followed in the traditions I grew up with for the first 7 years of her life. In December 2008 when my second child was born we did the same. In May 2011 when my third child was born, we decided that year was our last “Santa” Christmas, our last “Easter Bunny” Easter. We still did gifts and the kids got Easter gifts from their grandparents, but we did not speak about the tales. 2 years later, in November 2013, we had our last “tooth fairy visit”. By that time the children were 7, going on 5, 2, 1 year and 4 months old. That’s when my oldest realized the truth about the tooth fairy and then came to terms that Santa really wasn’t real after all either. The time had come and I knew that carrying on the charade with 4 other children would be messy. That is when I decided I would not continue to raise her siblings under the same false tales or beliefs, but I do not look down on other parents who do.

This may get some controversy as I know many of us parent differently. I’m simply posting this to express my reasoning and to maybe connect with like-minded parents.

 

Children look up to their parents. Children are raised to know the difference between right and wrong. Children trust and respect their parents… can you imagine having your child learn that you’ve deceived them since they were born, for whole 7 years and then question or doubt everything you ever say to them after the fact. I’ve been there. I saw the disappointment in my oldest daughter when she found out that none of it was real, that it was all a fabrication and it took a long time for her to even believe anything I’d say. I vowed from that day that I would not follow suit with the other children, that was it.

I don’t believe in promoting lies. I don’t believe in it creating a sense of wonder and magic in lies. The unknown maybe, but not complete and utter lies. Wonder and magic can come from more scientific possibilities, I’d rather have them in awe over why real life things are the way they are and to find magic in all the amazing things we see every single day. A flower growing, why does it rain, how can we see the moon during the day, turning water into ice. There are so many incredible things to give your child a sense of wonder and fantasy than to just straight out lie.

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Easter 2012-present.

What we do: We taught them the true history behind the day as the celebration of the Spring Equinox, and that is how we celebrate it. We cherish nature and enjoy the new Spring. Spot new blossoms and witness and respect the new beginnings. Spring is the beginning of all the beautiful things to come and to enjoy and love life. We do crafts and sometimes we’ll get new plants. We have a large brunch as a family, we dye eggs and have an Easter Egg hunt, then cook a ham meal with fixings for dinner.

What we don’t do:  We don’t leave out carrots or catch his tail in the door. We don’t tell them that there is an Easter Bunny that delivers gifts or candy to kids. We don’t give gift baskets/toys to them however, they have one set of grandparents that do give them gift baskets and we allow that. We don’t take pictures with the “Easter Bunny”.

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Tooth Fairy 2013-present.

What we do: We give them $1.00 if they pull it themselves and $0.50 if we have to pull it for them ourselves. We teach our children about hard work and respect for hard earned money, so they understand that the money they earn is a reward from us for their effort and bravery in pulling teeth.

What we don’t do: We don’t tell them to leave their teeth under their pillow. We don’t tell them about a “creepy” fairy coming and taking their teeth from them in the night. (I don’t know about you all, but that sort of freaked me out when I was a child) And like I said we’ve taught our children the value of money and how it takes hard work to earn it, so we don’t allow them to believe they get free money from some entity other than ourselves.

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Christmas 2012-present.

What we do: We taught them the history of Christmas over the centuries and what it means to different people today. We celebrate the Winter Solstice. We do crafts. We bake cookies and goodies a lot during the winter. We do a Count Down Chain that each child gets a turn ripping off every night before bed. We give them stockings full of necessities such as tooth brushes and toothpaste, hand sanitizer, bodywash, new wash cloths, socks, underwear, fruit, other small toys and goodies. We give them presents from ourselves. The fact that Christmas tends to be a bit expensive shopping for 7 children, we’ve always told our children that it’s mommy and daddy that buy the gifts so they can appreciate them more and understand that it took our hard earned money to buy these things for them.We told them that the shopping mall and event Santa’s are just a job that real people like us have and because other parents tell their kids that he is real so they take pictures with him. We’ve expressed for them to NOT tell other children that he is not real, because that would make them sad. We do have our Christmas morning here with breakfast before presents, then we take the kids to their grandparents and later on we have a nice dinner. I have a rather large family, so we designate another day to spend having a family Christmas gift exchange and a Christmas dinner with everyone.

What we don’t do: We don’t leave milk and cookies or “reindeer food”. We don’t gift from Santa. We don’t go visit or take pictures with Santa. We don’t allow them to believe that their behavior is relative to a stranger bringing them gifts on Christmas Eve. We don’t let them tell other children he is not real.

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We just do not believe in filling our children’s minds with false expectations, irrational beliefs and setting them up for disappointment, not to mention flat out lying to them their whole adolescence. We don’t talk down to or talk to our children as though they are babies, we speak to them like we’d speak to our peers, but in a more child friendly manner. Sometimes we can’t help but to have a broader vocabulary (but we define the words we use that they may not understand fully in a way they will understand). Our children are bright and for the most part understand rational conversations we  have with them.

Though our biggest reasoning…

for not allowing these childhood fantasies to flourish in our home is because  we have instilled in our children NOT to lie. We do not lie to them and we do not tolerate lying. With this strategy it does not make any sense to raise them with lies only to have them grow up to know it was a lie and think we’re hypocrites. We refused to go against our beliefs and our parenting strategies just to appease the commercialized holidays or the beliefs of others.

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Telling the Truth. (this is a topic for another day, but still wanted to share)

Every day I appreciate our decision because in my opinion and observation our children do appreciate more, understand more, and respect us more. Regardless of what scientific studies may have shown for children, I think if my children would have continuously witness their father and I lie constantly that they would be different children than they are today. Our children are brutally honest to a fault, even if they know they did something wrong, because they understand that lying will get them in more trouble than telling the truth and they would rather have a lesser punishment for telling the truth.

I believe these young years are the stepping stones and the mold to creating the pathway for my children and who they will become as they are growing up. So of course I’m going to raise and guide them the best I can, starting solely without a childhood based on lies. Out of all five of my children over these years, I’ve noticed that my oldest (now 10 years old) tends to lie the most out of the lot. I can’t help but to feel like it’s my fault for instilling lies in her for 7 years. If I could go back in time, I would have done things differently, but I’m glad that I decided to change the way we did things from then on.

 

 

We don’t do Santa, Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny or Lies