Saturday, July 30, 2011

Mama Bean had an Icelanditacular day!

It's a good thing I had Papa Bean pack the diaper bag the night before...

Sprout has "forgotten" she likes to skip the middle-of-the-night feeding, and has instead started skipping the middle-of-the-day feeding. Thus, we have fitful nights. For everyone, since her restlessness somehow translates to Bean, who sleeps on an entirely different floor, and makes him restless, too. Morning came early to the Bean household.

So we hit the road. We went to the annual Icelandic Festival at the lake community just north of the Prairie Valley City, about an hour away. We had planned to meet up with friends summering up there, but worried they might be too ill. However, upon arrival, lo and behold there they were, so we went about our merry Icelandic ways together.
Truth be told, we didn't participate in any of the Icelandic stuff. I know boo, hiss but, well, we just followed the toddler(s). (t)He(y) rule(s) the roost, you know :) We strolled the farmers' market stalls (I bought some cute earrings, and some flavoured honey sticks for a treat) then checked out the murals along the harbour/pier. It was nerve-wracking having an excited toddler so close to the edges of the docks, and of course, that's exactly where Bean had to be, so he could throw rocks into the water. oi. But fun to watch him have fun, of course.
Bean and M held hands along the painted walkway. This was much more preferable to being on the edges of the docks by the water :S
I was glad to leave the docks and meander down the beach and boardwalk. L is an extrovert's extrovert - she meets friends old and new every twenty steps or so, which suits the pace of toddlers walking just fine. We watched a woman pole-vaulting on the beach, she was trying to beat a provincial record, but didn't quite make it. The physics and physicality of pole-vaulting are quite something to behold, in real life.

This lake is basically a really really big puddle that collects from the various rivers of the province. In typical years, because of farming chemicals, it is prone to algae blooms, and other nastiness. The high floods in spring and the high temps this summer have conspired for a beautiful year of warm water with relatively little algae (I don't know why.) Bean found the waves to be Most Awesome :)
Bean loves to discover a new playground. This one was roasting from the hot sun. But you can't beat the view, even if your hands and knees are burning from crawling around!
Bean also loves to smash sand-castles, which would have been bad for the sand-castle competition taking place. One pour soul was being fried to a crisp, pretending to be eaten by a sand shark.
From the beach, we walked to the midway taking place at the park a few blocks away. Bean was too small for any of the rides, but we enjoyed some french fries. Long weekends are for unhealthy eating! That's my philosophy lol. We were disappointed at the lack of authentic Icelandic grub, we may have come on the wrong day of the festival for that. Next year!
Papa Bean looks like an Intrepid Viking of Parenting Win in this photo! Don't tell him I said that, he'll get embarrassed teehee.
Bean doesn't meet a splash park he doesn't like. He got quite adventurous in this one, running through some of the sprayers, instead of just running around things and stomping in the puddles. I'm glad the kiddos (and adults) had this refreshing hiatus, because it was really getting hot. Bean's little cheeks get so red in the heat, and he wilts, poor thing.

We wandered back to town, and should have gone home, in terms of preserving nap time. We went to get lunch in town instead, and here the afternoon got derailed by the crowds - I (stupidly) ordered shrimp and chips. It took forty-five minutes. Forty-five minutes. I know, I know #firstworldproblems. It's only that, if I'd known, I would've had ice cream for lunch, as originally tempted (L had the right idea here!) Anyway, it tasted good. But I'll never go back there again.
On our way out of town, we bought Papa Bean a birthday present - a large framed picture of a moose in a snowy birch forest. The kiosk was selling everything for more than half off, it was a good deal. We weren't hopeful Bean would nap in the car, so late from his normal naptime (we left town when he'd normally be waking up) but a few verses of The Wheels on the Bus calmed him down (miracles!) We drove into a neighbouring area to the west of the city, where Papa Bean has lately been cycling (on his spanking new road bike - a birthday present to himself.) We went to cruise the big houses out there, which he'd been cycling past, and then just kept driving to the provincial park at the end of the road. It was amazing to see how high the water remains on the river - the walking trails around the provincial park are all closed because they're underwater. We took a brief stroll down a dry part of the path, it was lovely dappled and breezy and free of bugs, which is another miracle of this summer.

I can't believe how much we packed into the day. Poor Bean suffered a bit, his sleep has been disturbed, it will take a quiet day or two to reset it. We never did this much during Bean's first summer - I felt inept, unable to leave the house and keep us both alive for more than a few hours at a time. Plus, he was a major schedule baby, he wanted his swaddle and his suck and his bed at very prescribed times. And I was not a mom who nursed in public well, then, probably because it always involved a nipple shield for him, and that was always so messy.

I'm much better at nursing in public now, though Sprout doesn't like it much. She prefers to be on her familiar pillow, at a comfortable temperature. The summer heat, laying on her diaper bag as pillow, with a nursing cover over her head, makes her fussy. She is not so much a schedule baby, mostly in the way she can sleep anywhere (but sleep she does in a schedule-y kind of way). And mostly we go out and do more now because Bean is bigger and needs to go out and burn off steam and be smiley and stuff. It's kind of gratifying, to see the trajectory and think, hey, we're actually getting better at this! I'll keep that in mind when I'm dredging through my next day of feeling like a Parenting Fail. Oh the highs and lows, friends. Today was up there :)

Mama Bean, Papa Bean, Bean and Sprout went to the zoo.

And we saw some animals :) Top row, L to R: a heron in the duck pond, which was drained for much of the spring, so the bird population is low this summer; the ugly handsome hornbill, these guys always hang out at the front fence of their enclosure, I think they like showing off for people, so I call them handsome while they preen, even though their beaks are actually pretty freaky looking; a gopher, because the best wildlife isn't in the cages; and the birds of paradise (I think?) in the new tropical house. Bottom row, L to R: a baby markhor, one of twelve in the herd this year, we watched them being fed, all their little wiggly rumps in a row, it was pretty adorable; a pelican all turtled into himself, resting in the duck pond; a reindeer drinking; and a baby-wearing momma ape (?), I love how he's just hanging there, hugging her tummy and letting his arms chillax.
These are the many faces of my little monkey :) We had snack time by the monkeys, and he showed us his teeth and his eyelashes and his sweet sweet toes.
This about captures the goofiness that is my son. Just prancing around, not a care in the world except his careful grip on his snack cup (heavens preserve the precious snack cup!), cool guy shades on top of his hat, instead of under the brim where they belong...
Baby girl fell asleep just before snack time. We don't want to spend the $90 dollars (srsly) for the sunshade that goes on the rear toddler seat, so we've been draping my nursing cover over the handlebars for a quick hack, but it's not perfect (let's a lot of sun in the sides, blows around in the wind) so I'd like to sew something similar, that attaches with velcro, out of something heavier and maybe even a little water resistant.
Of course, we didn't actually go to the zoo to see the animals! Naturally, we went to see the construction equipment!! It's too bad we didn't see this until we were ready to leave - because there was a mini-meltdown getting him back in the stroller and away from the backhoe. Nothing like seeing a Real. Live. Backhoe. Aaaah, such a boy :P

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Mama Bean is KinderGARDENing (13)

We're taking a trip to the garden! Wheee! We've got our bucket of tools, and our bucket for gathering, and our sunglasses and hats, and our shorts and sandals, and a truck to keep us occupied *please keep him occupied* and we are going to GARDEN! See? This picture shows us following daddy to the garden. (Alternate interpretation: this picture shows us picking up rocks and clods of dirt and meandering everywhere except towards daddy and the garden.)
We're at the garden! Wheee! We've got our mosquito net and our blanket shade against the sun, and our hat and soother, and we're ready to relax and watch the FUN! See? This picture shows us sitting happy and sleepy in our bucket. (Alternate interpretation: this picture shows the calm before the storm of fussing and cranky whining between repeatedly spitting out my soother, before napping eventually in the sweet sun and wind, and mosquito free wonderment.)
We're picking radishes! Wheee! We're gonna pick them ALL! See? This picture shows us plucking beautiful orbs of perfect radish loveliness from the earth. (Alternate interpretation: this picture shows us barely beginning the 60 or so foot harvest of unthinned radishes, along with stunted cucumber plants and a ridiculous number of weeds. Please please ignore the weeds. I know I am...)
We're putting radishes in the bucket! Wheee! We're listening to instructions and gently placing radishes in the bucket, which is rapidly filling up after only the first 10 feet, and daddy has a meeting in less than an hour, so my helpfulness is really APPRECIATED! (Alternate interpretation: this picture may in fact show a radish being pulled out of the bucket, and it definitely shows the moment before said bucket being dumped over, and radishes rolling out, much to Bean's amusement. Not pictured: tools and gloves scattered throughout the garden after being pulled from the tool bucket. Also not pictured: ignored. toy. truck.)
We're almost done gardening! Wheee! I am sitting calmly while mommy starts to panic about having three shopping bags full of radishes that she doesn't even really like to EAT! This picture shows me pulling up weeds. (Alternate interpretation: he's not pulling up weeds. He's just... pulling up whatever's in his reach lol. But, it was keeping him happy, and the current condition of our garden ensures that almost everything within his reach is a weed, anyway. No harm, no foul. I wouldn't even have minded if he started pulling up kohlrabi, because it needs to be thinned.)
We're done picking radishes! Wheee! This is the perfect time to play with my TRUCK! This picture shows a few radish plants remaining, because lord know we need to leave a few for radishes down the road, in case we RUN OUT! (Alternate interpretation: I don't know why we left some plants, I think I told myself we were just thinning the rows, instead of decimating them to make room for the cucumbers, which are stalwartly refusing to grow taller than six inches. Also, I'm sorry to show so many pictures of the greens being wasted. If we'd kept the greens, we would have needed three garbage bags instead of shopping bags to get it all home. One bag went to friends, half a bag is in our fridge, and two other bags went to the local food bank this morning - 14.4 lbs to add to Kim's Grow to Give tally!)

This week's KinderGARDEN assignment is about colour - go check out everyone else's contributions to the rainbow. I am mostly proud for having pictorial proof that my kinder(s) came out to the garden plot and did things sort of garden-y while we were working, because for most of this year, we've been gardening alone, as in, one of us alone goes out and does garden work while the other stays with the kids. It was a nice exercise in building parenting confidence to see that we can indeed kinderGARDEN without major meltdowns or terribly destroyed plants/harvests. All in all, a successful week!

Mama Bean has (at least) 25 things that make her feel good

Papa Bean invited me (that sounds better than dared me, right?) to participate in something he picked up from Twitter, a meme, a sort of Self Care exercise (oh I mentally composed a doozy of a sarcasm-riddled post on Self Care last night. I'll have to re-muster it from the haze of genius-posts-that-happen-as-I'm-falling-asleep one day...) okay sorry, too many brackets, this meme, where I list five things for each of the five senses, that make me feel good.

In turn, I dare invite you to do the same!

Things I see that make me feel good:
- My son's velvet eyelashes against his cheeks or backlit by sunlight as he stares up with joy and love at my husband (or me or a truck or whatever)
- Tree branches bending low, dripping leaves into the river
- My clean white counter after doing dishes
- Tomatoes turning colour so slowly (too slowly) on branches so densely grown, I can barely squirm my fingers in to pick them
- My husband's epic farmers' tan

Things I smell that make me feel good:
- Onions and garlic (in general) being sauteed in butter (real butter, in specific)
- Baking (in general) banana bread (most recently)
- My daughter's hair
- My husband's hair
- Coffee

Things I hear that make me feel good:
- Bean saying "ee-oowh, ee-oowh" in response to "What sound does a cat make?" (well, hearing him say anything vaguely reminiscent of a real word is pretty awesometacular)
- Sprout's happy noises, especially the coos of amazement ("Oooo my toes, Oooo b00by, Oooo Daddy's nose, Oooo brother's face kissing me, Oooo...")
- "Goodnight I love you" from my husband for the gazillionth night in a row. Every night, never fails.
- Tracy Chapman's "Fast Car" (this is just the feel-good song that popped into my head, but we can't go too indepth into songs that make me feel good, or we'll be here aaaaaaall night)
- Silence on both baby monitors, oooh mama yes...

Things I taste that make me feel good:
- The afore-mentioned tomatoes, sun-warmed
- BBQ anything, in particular, today's salmon (though in general, I have renounced fish)
- chocolate-mint squares from the bulk bin at Superstore, my newest cocoa obsession
- homemade strawberry jam
- kisses from the three people I love most in the world

Things I touch that make me feel good:
- The afore-mentioned daughter's hair
- Also, the chubs of her schenkelbeins (she is born Mennonite, while I merely married into it, but I can still use that word, I'm allowed lol)
- Lambs' ears leaves
- Patients
- Papa Bean's shoulders (for example...)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Mama Bean thinks the shine is off the rose, as they say

Warning: I'm having a cranky day, so this post will sound equal parts bitchy and whiny. Huzzah & Enjoy :P

Breastfeeding group just isn't cutting it for me anymore. I used to really love my Wednesday afternoon time, but now I'm finding it a chore.

It used to be this weekly outing gave me Something To Do, which is important, in a string of days that all look suspiciously like the day before (feed baby, change baby, nap baby, make faces at baby, worry why baby isn't making development leaps on a daily basis, count hours until spouse or other suitable adult will be home, feed baby, repeat.) Now, it gets in the way of Magic Happy Afternoon Nap Time, when both children (*fingers and toes and fingers of my toes and toes of my fingers crossed times eleventy*) are having a Magical Happy Afternoon Nap at the same time. And momma goes skipping merrily to the cool cool dark dark basement where her computer purrs waiting, and mindlessly peruses her RSS until one or the other makes noises. When momma goes to BF group instead of having Magic Happy Afternoon Nap Time, it's just... not magical and happy, folks. It's, like, Road Rage and Caffeine Withdrawal, y'know?

It used to be a convenient time when all my mommy friends were in the same place. Now, most of my mommy friends have children Bean's age and are working again. Those with babies still needing/wanting to attend group are currently out of town. So, in the future, I think I'll be double checking that someone I know and love will be there. I also must acknowledge that I am not a Community Maker, I'm just a Community Sitting-There-er. I don't have the necessary extrovertism to, like, makes friends and draw people together, so I fully admit that my own introversion is getting in my way. But I can still get cranky about it :P

It used to be I had a baby with troubles breastfeeding and troubles with this and troubles with that, and basically, I used to be a first-time mom who worried about my ignorance regarding the most basic skills of keeping tiny humans alive. Every week was a revelation of some new thing I needed to be doing Right Now (!!!) to ensure the future success and wonderfulness of my little Bean's life. And with each passing week, I learned the catchphrases and communal knowledge that meant I could now contribute something Valuable and Worthwhile to the discussion. It was great. I really do shine when given a chance to be a know-it-all haha.

Now, I know for a fact that I know justalittleless than I need to know, and the rest, in the grand scheme of things, doesn't really matter. When I try to contribute, no one cares. And who am I to be the grumpy curmudgeon standing in the way of their time to be the know-it-all? Those moments were honestly, super important to building my momma-confidence. So, I'm okay stepping back, but it does make it a little boring not to talk. Also, I imagine my eyes and my tone lack the earnestness of first time motherhood. I'm well into the blase exhaustion of second time motherhood. It has not escaped my notice that no one comes to breastfeeding group with their third child...

My point is NOT that breastfeeding group is awful and useless and why did I ever bother with this. My point is that breastfeeding group was wonderful and awesome and exactly what I needed when Bean came along. And I'm guessing that experience was so great and so amazing that the present reality is having a hard time measuring up. Or maybe I'm just cranky and cynical. And it bears emphasizing that my second baby is way too adept at nursing and I barely concern myself with whether she's gaining enough because, like, srsly people, her thighs get stuck in the bumbo. She is gaining just fine. And in the almost two years that've passed since we embarked on this parenting thing, I've gathered various other resources to answer my questions, and I still have all those wonderful mommy friends from my original group, we just don't meet up on Wednesdays anymore. So maybe I've just outgrown (?) it, and it's painful to see that.

Or maybe I just need to give it another chance on a day when I've had more sleep.

Oh man, that could make up a lengthy aside. The Endless Talking About Sleep. Even back when I was going with Bean I got bored and frustrated with the weekly discussion about sleeping. There is just too much information to have a complete discussion about sleep every. single. week. Not to mention, uh, kid's gonna do what kid's gonna do. Every week, everyone's gotta have their chance to tell their story or the story of their friend or the story that they're telling themselves is what's happening just to make themselves feel better ("Last night he slept 2 hours and 20 minutes, which is five whole minutes longer than he slept, on average, the week before, so like, I really think it's getting better...") and that just takes up somuchfreakingtime and every story conflicts with the others and who the heck knows what fantastical forces of nature must combine with fairy dust and unicorn sparkles to make babies sleep?? augh.

Sorry, that was the bitchiness I warned you about...

It's just that I'm sleep-deprived ;) I understand, in a sincerely heartfelt way, the value of these discussions. Sometimes, we just need to know that we're all going through it, together, and we're all doing our best, together. And when the babies are ganging up on us it helps to find our sisters-in-arms. I know, I get it. It's only the pragmatist in me that sits impatiently tapping her foot and thinking "There are no solutions! It's all just luck!" And I say that as someone who's been exceedingly lucky, because, by all metrics out there, my babies are to be considered "good sleepers." So. What was my point? My point is... I know why breastfeeding/mommy groups are wonderful, because my group was wonderful to me at one point, and maybe that point has now passed, and it's making me a little sad and cranky, but we'll see how it goes next time, for now I have to go feed the baby, change the baby, nap the baby... you get the idea...

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Mama Bean is KinderGARDENing (12)

To be honest, I don't feel like I've done much gardening, with kinders or otherwise. Winter in these parts is soo long, and summer is really really soo short, and when I have the choice between a) pulling weeds or b) going to the park and chilling in the sand, well... park wins.


These pictures, then, represent in no particular order what summer's been all about, and some of that is gardening (!) We have more than 60 feet of radishes ready to harvest and less than no idea what to do with them. I imagine several pounds of Kim's Grow to Give tally will be our radishes making it to the food bank :)

We went strawberry picking - I don't think this picture fully captures how covered in dirt Bean's hands and face are. We were picking in the 'black field' which is not yet strawed over, because they're young plants (I guess?) The more mature fields were already done for the season.

The berries were small and over-ripe, it was hard to hull them for jam. We picked 8L, which turned into 12 or 13 cups of mashed berries, which turned into 8 cups of strawberry jam with regular pectin (so sweet! won't make it again) 6 cups of strawberry rhubarb jam (our rhubarb plants are hella-prolific, this is our third cutting from them this year) and 8 cups of strawberry jam with light pectin (much less sugar, much fruitier tasting.)

He likes these disc swings quite a bit - ever since we showed him how to do it laying down, that's the only way he does it. And justincaseyouwerewondering, we do put shoes on our children. He's just pre-emptively barefooted because the sandpit it next.

I often feel like I'm the only parent actually playing in the sand. And then I feel a little foolish, but it is fun! That truck has been at the park since it opened, and no one has taken it home with them, it's so nice. Although, Bean thinks it's his and that can get sticky when another kid is playing with it.

Papa Bean got excited that Sprout is big enough to be in the swing now. She looks kind of excited about it, too! Compared to Bean's under-dressed feet, she looks prepared for fall in this pic. It was a gray day, so we put pants and a sweater on her for the first time in a long time.

Then there's a gratuitous picture of Bean in his cool-guy shades lol.

We are enjoying salad from the gardening (ooh look, words that are actually about gardening!) We thinned the lettuces waaay too late, so they've 'hearted' all topsy-turvy, but they are still yummy. This is my idea of a 'fancy salad' with radish slices, blueberries, and walnuts. But it's not that fancy, cuz I'm still eating it next to someone's snack bag of berries, water bottle, and newest favouritest dump truck. That's KinderEATing!

My tomatoes are getting colourful! Those yellow ones may or may not be in my belly now, all sun-warmed and tasty :P

These berries are in my belly now, too!

This lily kind of just popped up in my 'fairy garden' Good thing I didn't weed it! Please check out Kim's post for the other participants this week :)

Friday, July 22, 2011

Mama Bean wonders why she keeps going to bed so late

I didn't sleep last night. I went to bed with six hours of available sleep. Well, you know what happens as soon as you've put a number on it; your brain dutifully keeps you awake doing the math to count down the minutes you've already lost trying to fall asleep instead of actually sleeping so that you can do some more math and find out it's fewer minutes of sleep than the last time you tried to do the math but is it the right math because you're just so darned tired but yes that was the right math oh wait it's a new time, now I have five hours of available sleep.

Who thought it was smart to set her own clinic hours at 8 am on Fridays? I mean, isn't the perk of being your own boss that you set hours you can like live with? So I chose this 8 am crap? Weird.

Although last night was blessedly cool (less than 20 degrees) it was hot in my house, which made my baby wake up, which made me wake up (but not my husband, who's sung that song before?) but in a perfect world of temperature controlled living space (What's that? You say I live in such a thing?) she technically went more than six hours without eating. So, y'know, six hours of available sleep. But I didn't sleep last night.

Work took a long time.

What is it about being a 13 year old girl that makes it impossible to talk coherently with adults? I remember 13, I remember I was chatty and loud and tactless at the best of times, with my peers, but I was positively mute in the face of most strange adults. Why do the parents of 13 year old girls think this is a good age to start sending them into my treatment rooms solo? I mean, ok, confidence building exercise, maybe, but no one is winning in this situation. It's just awkward and... awkward. You know, when I was in Chiropractic college, I was worried I wouldn't be able to handle the babies and the toddlers. But I'm good with the wee ones. It's the long and gangly ones I have trouble with...

I got home in time for nap time, but I didn't nap. That was dumb.

We went and picked strawberries. I don't know why we can't figure it out that strawberry season is July. The fields were practically stripped bare, and the berries we got are small. They're perfect for jam, which is their intended destination, but still. Pain in the butt to pick. Other than the lateness of the season, we picked a great day for, uh, picking. It was overcast and windy - didn't overheat in the sun, no bugs. Bean's hands and mouth and hat and shirt were covered in mud and red juice. I shudder to consider which he consumed more of - berry or dirt. Either way... Actually, I was kind of blown away at how well-behaved he was. I expected one of us would do the picking and the other would chase the Bean around the rows, but he followed us, more or less, picking his own berries, and then picking the stem/leaves off by himself before munching them. It was so cute! Sometimes (mosttimes) I feel like he is learning how to do this thing called Life on his own, because I'm too clueless to see what he's ready to learn next, so he just sort of picks it up, and I shake my head at how big he's getting.

It's been awhile since Sprout had a cry-fest bedtime, so I suppose we were due. To be honest, it's nothing like those Delirious Early Day Pseudo-Colic Hormone-Blitztasticular cry-fests where we both end up with wet cheeks and snotty... everythings. She just had some 'bubbles' and she wanted to tell me about it. Once successfully swaddled and soothered into oblivion, we watched How to Train Your Dragon, which was lovely. Huh. Two nights in a row, who'da thunkit?

Tomorrow's plan is jam.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Mama Bean feels like doing a plain old web-log type post

The Prairie Valley City (along with the rest of the continent, except The Brackets) is experiencing a Heat Dome of Epic Proportions. It's... sticky. Last night, despite the non-materialization of the forecasted/promised/much-needed thunder and rain, the wind picked up and blew some of the sticky away, making this morning dry and breezy and gloriously less than 30 degrees out (Celsius). We trotted the kids out to Bean's playground with glee, and played with glee, and snacked with glee, and wore Sprout in the sling while she napped with glee, and walked home in slightly-cranky-hungry glee. Bean has justnowstarted walking up small or medium sized stairs (like those at children's playgrounds) standing up, without holding on to anything! He's such a big boy! On the other hand, children's playgrounds are a good place to remember how small he really is. Next to the school-aged creatures, his pre-verbal baby-beastlet nature really comes out. He's such a wee boy!

After lunch, we put the kidlets to nap, and I got ready for work. Work was slooooooooooow. I saw about half the normal number of patients I would see on a Thursday. It wasn't so bad though, because I got to come home early. Thursday nights are tough for me, and Bean, because I say bye-bye before his nap, come home after his bedtime, leave before we wakes up, and get home after he goes to Friday's nap, so often don't see him from lunchtime Thursday until Friday afternoon. It makes me sad. It makes him angry at me, and sometimes he won't warm back up until Saturday :( So it was a treat to come home and have him still awake. He was being extra super cute, too! His PoPo (my mom) got him an early birthday present - a Little People construction site thingy that makes noise and has rocks and is all around awesome. He's into the whole watch-once-and-copy mode, so Papa Bean showed him the various ways the rock is loaded and unloaded, and then Bean just patters around with it for ages. Srsly cute.

I biked out to the garden (again!) because it was so cool and breezy and not sticky. I pulled an armful of weeds, that made no difference at all to the overall look of the garden, and left my arms full of thistle-pricks. Then I picked a grocery bag full of radishes. It was about two feet of them. I planted about 80 feet total. We're, uh, swimming in radishes. I twisted my ankle in a large crack in the ground - that's how hot and dry (despite the humidity) it has been here, the ground is cracking. Riding home was the lesser of two evils - walking my bike home would have taken three or four times as long. A shower and ice pack is the perfect end to this evening.

I have time to do this (a daily log post) almost every night, and yet I almost never do it. I won't promise to do it more often, because that's an almost sure way to ensure it won't happen, but I will say this post was easy to write and a joy to post. I hope everyone is enjoying an equally normal and pleasant summer day!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Mama Bean is KinderGARDENing (11)

I took a short bike ride to the big garden tonight. The Weed Offensive is gaining strength, I feel weak against it. Especially with a sore bum from bike riding...

On the other hand, I ate the first sun-warmed raspberry from our yard today. (Shh, don't tell Papa Bean...)

There are things about gardening that are very big picture - crop rotation, succession planting, soil amending. All this long term stuff, and big project stuff, and thinky thinky stuff. But most of the tasks of gardening are pretty focused - look at this plant, look at this flower or leaf or root, look here. When I sit myself into the Teachable Moments of Gardening with Bean, that's the word I hear myself using a lot. "Here buddy put the water here no not there, over here. Look buddy, look here at this flower, this will be a cucumber. And look here this is going in our salad tonight. And over here is a weed, you can pull that out, no no not that. That is was a carrot..."

I get overwhelmed by the big stuff, because I want to do it all now. I want all the weeds gone now. I want the soil perfect and loamy and amended now. I want my crops perfectly successioned and rotated rightthisveryminute. And nothing about gardening happens now.

But pulling a weed. Smelling a flower. Picking a bean. That can happen now. And I think that kind of immediacy is something that can grab kids' attention. And keep it. For an instant. And an instant is all I need.

This week's KinderGARDEN assignment was getting up close and personal, getting into the now, and capturing the small. It was nice to ignore the weeds big picture (cuz it is srsly dismal, y'all) and let myself do what I want to do anyway, and just focus on the Good.

Like hundreds of baby tomatoes all fuzzy and shiny good...

And white orange red lilies blooming good...

And creamy smooth cabbage leaves just starting to makes heads good...

And dirt splattered lettuce because Bean helped me water good...

And shocking Christmas in my garden chard good...

And confidence building crazy productive too bad I don't like how they taste radishes comingoutmyears good...

And pumpkin blossom buds lifting puckered lips to the waning sunset good...

And potato flowers unfurled with pale purple serenity good...

And delectable eyelashes on kissable cheeks good...

And barrette-wearing bubble-blowing fingers-and-toes-discovering good...

Thanks, Kim, for the invitation to see the Good this week. Please stop by the other KinderGARDENers to see what they saw :) Also, I missed the link up last week, but here's my post anyway!

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Monday, July 11, 2011

Mama Bean is KinderGARDENing (10)

This week's post should be called Please Pardon Our Dust Weeds, because we just got home from a ten day vacation. I actually dreamed about what our garden was doing while we were away and how it would look when we got back - oh, to be gone during such exciting hot summer days of sprouting and growing and wonderosity! - so I rushed out to take a few pics for this week's KinderGARDEN post without tidying up first. And now you'll all know the weedy truth...
This is a collage of our large garden plot. Top left is our pea shoots pushing against their trellis. Bottom left is our potato patch, which is truly hard to distinguish against the weeds. There are also corn plants about a foot tall at the very back, and then our north neighbour's thistle patch. Of course, your neighbour's weeds are your weeds... Centre pic shows our rectangle of radishes around two squares of cucumbers plants, which are quite small. I hope we chose short enough season plants for them to mature to fruit before cold weather comes. We don't really like radishes, but, as I have commented on others' posts, they are wonderful confidence boosters, and in this case, I want them to cover some ground until the cucumber vines mature and take over. You can see some of the grass mulching we've been brave enough to try at the community garden, at the risk of others calling us crazy. Top right are barely distinguishable bean plants against a weedy quack grassy backdrop. Bottom right are a few stands of potato and zucchini plants. They grew the most - cucurbits can be real confidence boosters like that, too. Big seeds, big sprouts, big growth. But they take awhile to sprout, and successful fruiting depends a lot on weather and pollination, etc. At least in my short three years' experience :) I am excited by those zucc plants. I'm not gonna thin them, I'm gonna transplant them!
Our little Bean seemed quite pleased to be back in his own domain. Our home garden went crazy cakes while we were gone, it's wonderful! Top left is how far our compost volunteers have progressed. Bottom left are crowded cabbages, which will be thinned tomorrow (I thinned them right before we left!) and treated somehow (salt and pepper?) because I saw the telltale white butterflies around them today. Centre pic shows our tomato jungle. Srsly. We've never had tomato plants that actually required the recommended spacing, so we just crammed our six plants in there /sigh. Bean is about 3 feet tall, so the plants are about 5. I know indeterminate types can get much taller, but I've just never had to deal with it before lol. Top right is our lettuce, which was also just thinned, and will be thinned again in the morning. Bottom right are some of the hundreds (no exaggeration) of tomatoes we have brewing. /rubs hands with glee.
I'm excited about Kim's assignment to do some upclose photography. I love pushing that little macro setting on my point and shoot. If all goes as planned, I'll be getting a new dSLR by the end of the summer *drool* and then down the road maybe a real macro lens. /more hands of glee.
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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Mama Bean is thinking about priorities and spending and priority spending and ugh

For most of our marriage, Papa Bean and I have lived in We Can't Afford It mode. Because we, uh, couldn't afford it. Whatever it was, we couldn't do it. We had a huge mortgage, we both had student debt, mine significantly larger than his, we had two cars, we wanted to eat, whatever. We couldn't afford it.

We have now reached a point where we have to stop saying We Can't Afford It. Because the reality is, we can afford most of it, if we want it. The reality is, It's Just Not A Priority. Which means we won't find room in the budget, we won't save, we won't make it happen, if it's not a priority.

Guess who defines our priorities? Us. Me + Papa Bean. It's a genius system. Because it's our money.

There's plenty we don't know or understand about it, but we're getting better, and we've enlisted the help of experts that we trust. The truth is, few people have earned the right to help us define our priorities, because it's so important that we get them right, we have to be really careful who we're listening to, y'know?

Bottom line, we still have our mortgage. And though PB's student debt is gone (hallelujah!), my student and business debt is essentially a second mortgage payment every month. Plus, as we've become more financially responsible (oh I know, it doesn't look like we have, but, y'know, see above...) we've started getting more of those things financially responsible people are supposed to have, like insurance and RESPs and stuff. And that all costs money.

Money's such a tough subject, isn't it? It's just coins and paper, but we have a relationship with it, like it's a person. And that relationship is Fraught, amiright? And it only gets more complicated when marriage turns it into some kind of weird love triangle. We spent so long in We Can't Afford It mode, I have serious guilt about spending. It creates indecision and anxiety. I waste a lot of time worrying, and that indecision often costs me opportunity and costs me money, ironically. So, we're trying on a new mode. It can be hard to say That's Not A Priority when someone's giving static. But I have to remind myself about the genius system, I have to remember we've enlisted help that matters, and I have to free myself from guilt.

Do you struggle with a poverty mentality? How do you let go of spending guilt?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Mama Bean enjoyed the picnic very much

The Sunday before our vacation, we had a church picnic at the park where Bean's playground is located. They have a little steam train in the same park, which passes over the bridge by this gorgeous little pond, and that's where we set up our picnic! We are blessed to have a professional chef in our church family - mmm, mmm, pulled pork sandwiches, coleslaw, traditional church potluck salads (think Waldorf and potato and taco and yumminess), chips, unlimited pop (oh my aching pancreas!) and more (MORE!) As can be seen, Bean had a ridiculous amount of fun. Our guest preacher for the morning brought the family dog, which Bean loved. Our friend brought a Bean-sized chair, which Bean loved. Someone brought watermelon, which Bean loved. Someone brought ketchup potato chips, which Bean loved. Actually, I think that was us. He basically had watermelon and ketchup chips for lunch - it's so hard to feed him when there's so much Distraction around, and no high chair or booster seat or something-with-straps-for-the-love-of-Pete in sight. In that one pic where he's looking all sly, he's taking another chip off the table after we'd told him to stop. In that other pic, he's crouching behind a tree eating a seventh or eighth piece of watermelon, which he slyly took off the table in similar fashion, after we'd told him to stop. Clearly, this was a day of Choosing Our Battles. Whatever. He ate. 'Twas good.

Also, this ridiculously cute baby wore a ridiculously cute dress, with a ridiculously matching barrette. Yeah, that totally happened. Her expression is so fierce in this pic! And the toes - the Toes! I can't handle it, I nibble on them every day, if she makes it toddlerhood with all her toes intact, it will be a miracle. Srsly.
And then she took a nap. All cute style /sigh. It was a really lovely day, full of sun and food and green and happy happy hearts.