My Black Thumb

18 Jun

To say I don’t have a green thumb is a gross understatement. I have killed more than one cactus. I have completely failed at zucchini in multiple attempts. I am fairly competent at keeping children and animals alive, but I suck at gardening.

The irony is that I feel as though I should be a person who gardens; I compost, I raise chickens, I eat vegetarian, organic foods, I love farmer’s markets. I should be able to grow my own zucchini. Hell, in most gardens, it grows itself. Some years I have planted gardens, some years I have intended to plant gardens only to realize in June that boat has sailed. I have started from seeds, I have purchased small plants. Most of these attempts result in the same pathetic results.

In good years, I have gotten a handful of edible vegetables, usually tomatoes and cucumbers, although I tend to specialize in and enjoy the more bizarre. I plant things that are doomed to failure, like corn and watermelon, but I revel in the weird cucumber/watermelon hybrid I inadvertently created or the one giant winter squash I grew without ever planting it (compost is a magical thing).

I will continue in my misguided, often half-assed attempts at gardening. This year I bought two tomato plants, one cucumber plants, and a basil plant and planted them in buckets on my porch and I haven’t killed any of them yet. In fact, at least two of the plants are bigger and healthier than when I bought them. Maybe the key to success is lowering my standards. Or maybe I should just admit that I am the person for whom CSAs were invented.

Happiness is a Choice

5 Jun

Some days are just good days. This is one of them, maybe for no particular reason, or maybe because I have decided it is going to be.

Reasons I am happy today:

I am happy to have gotten a full night’s sleep, in my own bed, at a time of day when normal people sleep.

I am happy that today is the last Friday school day until summer vacation.

I am happy that my almost-seven-year-old still wants to hold my hand on the way to school.

I am happy for the twelve tiny cups of coffee I am drinking (only exaggerating a little) and the pleased look of excitement on Duncan’s face when I asked if I could drink coffee out of his art class mug.

I am happy to have my sunroom and for the four tiny tomatoes growing on one of my tomato plants, proof that I don’t kill everything green.

I am happy for the short walk to and from school with my kids, when some days they don’t even realize I am there and other days we giggle over silly things, like the word “excaliburger.”

I am happy that last night when I tried to make stir-fry in a cast iron skillet and set the smoke detector off, my oldest child had the polite tact to simply suggest we eat on the porch.

I am happy for yoga class later this morning.

I am happy to have a bouncy house coming to my house tonight for a birthday party tomorrow and equally happy that my kids have traded themed birthday parties with goody bags for sleepovers that require epic quantities of pancakes rather than close supervision.

I am happy to have my crazy house full of kids and clutter and animals and noise, signs of an enjoyed life.

Too ADD to Meditate

9 May

At the martial arts/fitness studio where I do kick boxing and yoga, we often meditate at the end of class. It occurred to me today, during one of these sessions, that I suck at meditating. Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoy it, but I don’t think I’m very good at it.

The whole idea seems to be to focus on breathing/counting and to keep your mind clear of other things. The clear mind part is where the sucking comes in; I’m fairly competent at the breathing and counting part. I know I have mentioned previously my understanding that my kids got their ADDish tendencies from me, but it is during meditation that this is the most obvious.

The conclusion I have come to is that I cannot quiet my mind, at least not as much as I think other people can. Here is me, trying to focus on my breathing and counting:

1, 2, 3, 4, 5….I wonder if my kids are cleaning up after their breakfast like I asked them to. FOCUS. 1, 2, 3, 4…Remember that cute little girl from work a couple days ago and watching the helicopter land with her. FOCUS. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12. Shit, I was supposed to stop at 10 and then go back to 1. 1, 2, 3….I wonder if Oliver is done running…4, 5, 6, 7…I need to remember to make jalapeƱo popper dip to bring to the party tonight…8, 9, 10….Should I go lock up Kerri’s chickens before or after the party tonight…1, 2, 3… FOCUS. Will the Amherst Garden Club take checks or do I need to go get cash before I go to the plant sale? 4, 5, 6…Do Buddhists get ADD/ADHD? Could meditating help my kids (hell, who am I kidding) or me learn to quiet my mind?

From now on, I am going to imagine myself meditating poorly when I think of my kids in school trying to focus on their work.

How To Get Your Kids To Do What You Want

14 Feb

Step One: “Hey, who wants to vacuum?”

“Not me!”

“Not me!”

“Not me!”

“Who wants to help me shovel the driveway and dig out the chicken coop?”

“I’ll vacuum!”

“No, I’ll vacuum!”

“I want to vacuum!”

Step Two: After some enthusiastic, albeit shitty vacuuming, take away devices since they are now back to playing and you’ve barely made a dent in the snow. “Everybody put on their snow clothes and come outside. You can either help me shovel or play in the snow.”

Step Three: Do not be surprised when nobody chooses shoveling. Or when they write the word POOP in your front yard.

The Great iPod Saga

8 Jan

Owen started asking for an iPod touch when he was nine, so for his birthday we bought him an old, inexpensive one on eBay because we had no intention of spending a huge amount of money on something that might very likely get destroyed before he was nine-and-a-half.

But he didn’t destroy it. He used it for a year, all while saving up enough money to buy a newer version himself. He gave the old one to his brothers when his refurbished 4th generation iPod arrived. Now two years later, he has decided to upgrade again. He had a little over $100 saved and figured he could sell his current one for the rest of the money since it was still in good condition. He had done his research and we ordered the iPod for him.

Even as we tracked the refurbished 5th generation iPod across China, he managed to do what he hadn’t done for two years: drop and break the iPod. And just like that, the iPod which may have sold for close to $100 on Craigslist was worthless, an expensive and painful lesson. He could pay someone $80 to fix it, he could sell it for parts, but he now did not have enough money for the iPod FedEx would be delivering today.

Looking at your brand new toy still in the box, but being unable to use it, is a powerful motivator. Though he will not be allowed to use it until it is paid for, we are going to help him fix the old one so that he can sell it and have him do extra work around the house to make some money.

This morning he was up two hours earlier than normal, in a good mood (a huge feat for Owen). He unloaded the dishwasher and started a fire in the wood stove without being asked. I think we’re going to get a lot done around here in the next couple of weeks.

The Second Strangest Thanksgiving

5 Dec

I know everyone’s holiday was thrown off a bit due to the storm and power outages. Ours was too, but it still can’t claim strangest Thanksgiving ever. That title goes to the year we spent wandering around Amsterdam late at night searching for an elusive Indonesian rice table restaurant and finally having pizza and beer at midnight. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I am remembering this year’s holiday as a list of things I am thankful for.

I am thankful that my holiday shift in the storm was not too bad.

I am thankful that The Red Arrow Diner in Milford was open on Thanksgiving and had power and veggie burgers.

I am thankful that when we lose power, my cell phone still works, even if it only makes calls.

I am thankful that despite the fact we forgot to buy a power cord for our generator and weren’t able to use it, we have a generator.

I am thankful that we appear to be on the same power grid as the Elementary school and therefore only lost power for about 12 hours.

I am thankful for a family Thanksgiving dinner two days late and with flickering power that was still perfect.

I am thankful to live in the kind of town where people posted on Facebook to match up people who had generators or power with those who still didn’t.

I am thankful for an odd Thanksgiving night dinner with new friends and old friends by lantern light.

I am thankful for short breaks in the frenzied pace of constantly having access to everything. I think it is good for us.

I am thankful for Thanksgiving, a holiday purely about food, family, friends, and being thankful for what we have. I kind of wish we had Thanksgiving every month.

I Would Rather…

12 Nov

My kids have become fans of the game, “would you rather?” It seems innocent enough, but when played with little boys, it is made up of questions like, “would you rather eat dog poop or chicken poop?”

Here is my game of “Would you rather?”

I would rather poke my eyes out with a pencil than do long division with any of my children.

I would rather have dental work than listen to one more explanation of anything in Minecraft.

I would rather listen to country music for hours than hear one more, “Do you wanna know what…”

I would rather sit for 12 hours in triage with no break than yell, “get dressed!” or “just eat!” even one more time.

I would rather run barefoot through the snow than have to tell my kids, yet again, what is inappropriate to do with their penises.

I would rather watch an entire season of any terrible reality TV show than go shopping with my kids.

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