Keeping Boredom at Bay

It’s been snowing for three days straight, and our forecast calls for snow for the next four days as well! I’m a person who loves the snow, and this recent streak of snow upon snow upon snow (I mean, for Pete’s sake! It’s snowing right now even though the sun’s out!) has been so fun to see. Every time I look out, it’s snowing! Jonathan and I have been talking about someday relocating to New England so we can get EVEN MORE snow. But for now, I think we’re good.

Thing is, when it snows, the kids get a bit… stir crazy. I’m not a wimp about getting them all gussied up in their finest snow attire- layers upon layers of fleece and mittens and ski goggles and thermal underwear and socks- but there’s really a limit to the amount of time they can spend outdoors with their faces planted in the snow (they graze on it like horses put out to pasture) in freezing cold temperatures. That limit is around 10 minutes for Little Man and 30 for Hula Girl. We repeat the ritual of dressing up, trekking outdoors, and peeling off the snow-covered garments at least twice daily. Fortunately we have a separate entrance to the garage from the backyard so the kids can drop all the snow in there rather than in my kitchen. But seriously. 15 minutes to dress them, 10 minutes (or less!) outside, 5 minutes of them whining and crying while undressing them, and WHEW, I am wiped out. And then they want hot chocolate.

Speaking of hot chocolate, I can’t have any right now. And that’s okay. Jonathan and I are doing the Daniel Fast for Lent and it’s amazing to see how quickly our bodies have broken the habit of eating sugar and other non-fruit, non-veggie, non-whole grain foods. The first week was pretty hard, and cravings were abundant. I would have paid $20 for a Twix, and I don’t even eat Twix normally. My current craving is for anything coconut, which I can actually eat a lot of in the form of unsweetened dried coconut and coconut oil. So that’s perfectly fine with me! The Daniel Fast isn’t too much of a departure from our typical whole-foods, plant-based, organic diet. The only differences for us are the inability to eat anything with sweeteners like sugar, honey (which is technically not vegan but we eat it anyway), maple syrup, xylitol, etc.; and the inability to drink anything besides water. I’d sure like a coffee or hot cocoa. I think I’ll have hot cocoa in my coffee on Easter morning.

Easter morning is going to be very exciting for our entire family. Not only will Jonathan and I get to (slowly and carefully) reintegrate foods we’re not eating right now, but we will be getting some little chicks for the kiddos. We’re planning to get chickens that will lay blue/green eggs and chickens that will lay chocolate brown eggs. Of course, we know we won’t have eggs for several months after we get our little chickies, but it will still be fun to care for our little flock in the meantime. Hula Girl is so excited to be able to be the one who feeds and waters the chickens, and Little Man can hardly wait to check for eggs.

Jonathan and I have a lot of work to do between now and May in order to prepare for our new little pets. We plan to keep 8-10 chickens, so we’ll need to build a sizable coop and run. We do intend to let the chickens roam freely in the backyard when we’re home, but we want their run to be large enough that they don’t NEED to be let out to roam daily in case we can’t spend time outside for any reason. We have a ton of scrap wood kindly donated by our neighbor, who works at the steel mill. The folks who manufacture steel goods there lay the products on top of 2x4s, 4x4s, railroad ties, etc., to let them cool. So all the wood has scorch marks on it, but for a chicken coop, it’s great! We have to paint the wood and seal it anyway; we may as well get it for free!

We’re also planning to use some of that wood to expand our garden (again) for this summer. Last year’s garden wasn’t nearly as productive and exciting for us as our gardens have been in the past. We really didn’t have time to work with it and we didn’t grow much food. This year we are planning to grow pretty much every veggie we eat, and lots of each kind, so we can store up food for next winter. It has been getting pretty expensive to feed our family lately, and any little dent we can make in our grocery budget through canning and freezing next fall will be very helpful. I have gotten several books on “homesteading” and food preservation, so I guess I’d better get started on my reading!

Some other things I’m learning about these days include sewing, piano, and calculus. It’s been a rough go for me the past few months as I’ve found myself absolutely bored out of my mind. I’m the type of person who likes to be engaged in learning all the time. When that’s not happening, I get crabby. Like, I want to drive to Mexico JUST BECAUSE I CAN kind of crabby. It’s really not pretty and it makes me feel STUCK. So I’m working to improve my sewing skillz (which is pretty easy to do as I’m just terrible to begin with!), learning to play piano (I can play a scale! yay me!), and learning calculus through a free online class. I guess I just don’t understand it when people say they don’t think they can do something. Like, “Wow, I could never learn XYZ!” I always think, “Why not?” I hope to instill this value in my kids, as it really does leave every opportunity open.

I will tell you my ONE limitation, in case you think I’m just pig-headed and boastful: I will never succeed at anything requiring me to physically look good. Like, I’ll never be a model (I’m 5’3″). I’ll never proudly show off my Jamberry nail wraps (my fingers are cracked and dry from doing housework and even the best lotion just doesn’t heal them completely). I’ll never post an instagram shot of my feet in flip-flops overlooking the ocean (my feet look like hairless hobbit feet; my toes are short and curl over weirdly and my feet are wide and high-arched- a very unattractive combination). Plus, I’m kind of a klutz. Sure, I will dance, but not well. So now you know my limitations, lest you think I’m arrogant.

But seriously, why can’t I learn calculus? Why not?

Also, to keep boredom at bay, I’m gonna blog again. 🙂

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Nice Days and 2012’s Summer Garden!

I skipped posting yesterday because my mom came to visit us for the day. Hula Girl couldn’t have been happier to have her Grammy here. We went to the park in the morning (it was 65 degrees and beautiful outside!) then we came home for lunch, and Hula Girl took her nap. After she woke from her nap, she and Grammy played “golf” with Hula Girl’s toy broom and some small balls we have around the house. Oh yes, that was a screaming-laughter kind of good time. 🙂

Today is another gorgeous day, but it’s so windy! Faithful readers (all three of you, haha!) know that it’s pretty much always windy here. I am getting concerned that it will be super windy this summer. That will mean less fun out in the backyard. I mean, Hula Girl won’t be able to play happily in her sandbox if the wind keeps blowing sand in her eyes. It will also be bad for our lawn and garden- we’ll definitely have to install a drip-system for our garden so the water doesn’t evaporate as soon as it leaves the hose.

Jonathan raked/shoveled away about 400 square feet of rock in our backyard this weekend to clear the patch for our lawn, and he’ll also have to rake/shovel another 400ish square feet of rock so our garden can have a place to grow. Our landlord agreed to pay for sod so that Hula Girl can play in grass this summer. It will be nice for her, because we’ll have a lot available outside. We’ll have the baby pool, sand box, grassy area, basketball hoop, picnic table, slide, lawn mower, wheelbarrow, hula hoops, balls, chalk, and wagon in the backyard. I am even planning on giving her a tiny patch of space in the garden and letting her grow something there (with a lot of help from me). I am excited that she’ll have a grassy area to roll around in, and that we can set out blankets to have a picnic. It will be nice when the backyard is not just a rocky expanse. I totally understand the point of it where we live- I mean, cacti grow here really well, so I’m betting grass will consume a lot of water and fertilizer. But it will be totally worth it when we can go barefoot in the grass and run through the sprinkler!

And yes, we’ve decided to have a garden again this year. We’re going to be scaling back as far as size, but we’re really doing a lot of research about our soil and all the additives we’ll need to use. We’re planning to rent/borrow a rototiller to get that extra compost/fertilizer down deep before we plant, and we’re going to install a drip-system so we can water better. We’re also going to be using mulch to cover the ground and there will be two sections of garden that we’ll cover with a trellis or netting so they’ll be partially shaded. I think last year’s garden would have had much more success for us if we had provided a bit more shade, a bit more compost, and a LOT better watering. It just gets too hot here to rely on the twice-a-day sprinkler-style watering. Things sure sizzle around here; the mulch should really help provide some insulation.I also think the mulch will come in handy when we have our monster thunderstorms. Less erosion=happier garden.

We have not sat down and decided exactly what things we’ll be planting this year, but I’m sure of a couple of items: strawberries, tomatoes, basil, sweet peas, green beans, zucchini and summer squash. Provided that we have space and that Jonathan agrees, I’d also like to do some lettuce, broccoli, kale, green onions, watermelon, cantaloupe, and pumpkins. I’m thinking we could even do the large squash and melon plants out in the front yard. Maybe we’ll put in a few raised beds out there. We have a lot of bare ground in front of our house, and it gets sun all day long. Great place for squashes and melons!

I’m also considering putting some native plants in the front of the house. I looked up a few grasses and flowers that are suitable for this environment (aside from cactus varieties), and there are quite a few options. I have started calling garden centers in the area, but no one has any good leads so far. You’d think that in this harsh environment, where it’s ridiculous to think of growing pretty much anything, native plants would be wanted. But apparently everyone loves those pansies. And petunias. Silly.

Oh, and I’m also going to do a vertical herb garden with a cheap over-the-door shoe holder. We have a nice spot that gets lots of morning sun and afternoon shade, and relatively little wind on the balcony outside our bedroom. I’ll be doing simple herbs there like mint, catnip (for Riley), wheat grass (also for Riley), basil, oregano, etc. The nice thing about it is that cats and other animals can’t get to it, and it will be fun to look at some fresh greenery every morning when I go outside to do my Bible study before I get Hula Girl. Maybe I’ll even throw in a few flowers, just to pretty it up a bit! 🙂

I will be doing a lot more garden research in the next week, and we plan to start some seedlings next weekend. I am beyond excited for that! Any gardening tips and/or plans of your own? Share, share!

 

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