Monday, April 27, 2009

I garden, therefor I am

I believe that everyone should have a True Activity. Something that not only gets our attention, but holds it. An activity that we spend many gleeful hours planning, and doing. When we complete a project we not only look back and admire our handiwork, but look for ways to improve upon it. And the task of undertaking the improvements thrills us as much as the dreaming up stage.

I don’t believe that this activity can be found by us, but rather, the activity FINDS US. Our True Activity seeks us out and allows us to stumble upon it. We think “I would like to knit,” but when we are Hobby Lobby picking up the yarn and needles we are drawn to the rug hook kits. Or the cake decorating supplies. Or the beading aisles. Or the scrap booking papers. Or we might not even make it to Hobby Lobby as we see a motorcycle shop and turn in. Or a pool hall. Or a Tai Chi class.

When we talk about our True Activity we get as goo goo eyed as we were with our first loves. The people in our lives don’t always understand the appeal. Just like our first loves. It’s too late for us though. We’ve been bitten and won’t be the same ever again.

For me, this activity is gardening. It might not be your True Activity. It’s not for everyone. Not for people who like to stay clean. Not for people who don’t like to see their work die off every fall. Not for people who think that having one more living object to care for will push them over the edge. But for me, Gardening found me as I became a mom and the parallel skills sets complimented and each other. Digging in the dirt makes me a better mom.

Where I grew up my parents had a garden. They grew veggies for us to eat. The garden work was just another chore. There was little appeal in zucchini, rhubarb and tomatoes. Just a way to earn my allowence.

My grandfather was an amazing gardener. He had a small plot, that backed up to a highway. He had fruit trees, a grape arbor and the most amazing yard of zoysia grass. Deep green and springy I did gymnastics on it. I ate his peaches; nibbled his grapes. I have very fond memories of him with his big straw hat, mesh slip on shoes and worn t-shirt uniform. I did as little to help him garden back then as I could get away with. If time travel were possible zapping back to his backyard Eden would be first on my destination list.

After my 1-2 punch of kids we lived in a small duplex with an amazing neighbor named Jan. She was our landlord as well as a hair stylist/jewelry rep/ vitamin selling/dried flower arranging dreamer and implementer. She had the heart of an entrepreneur and the confident aggressiveness to try every opportunity that came across her path. In addition to her extensive home based business menu, she had a passion for gardening.

Jan dragged me out of my living room, taught me the use of a garden claw. She showed me how to start a flower bed with a layer of wet newspaper. She showed me the beauty of clusters of plants and that redecorating the garden is all part of the process. I learned about the thrill of a rock hunt and how to lay out my haul to become edging.

I learned there is no better exercise for me than the yoga-like moves of clearing a bed. Henbit Warrior and Downward Facing Weeder are still strengthening my core. Mulch and rock hauling developing my back and arms. Shovel wielding giving my legs a workout.

Most importantly , Jan taught me to try. That if I found a plant that appealed to me to try everything to make it thrive. To understand the rules of the plant ( sun, water and spacing) but that sometimes with the proper care a plant can thrive in areas where it shouldn’t according to the rules. Basic care doesn’t change, a tropical plant is not going to survive a KC winter outside. But dig that plant up, keep it in the basement or garage and replant it in the spring and it will bloom happily for years. Follow the rules, but bend them to make the life thrive.

She also taught me to see beyond what is in front of me to see what could be. To see the possibilities. Where non -gardeners might see a pile of rock and weeds I see a future bed of blue star creeper and moss rose with a river of thyme. A special garden for my mother-in-law to look at out her back window. When her dog steps on it it won’t be crushed, and when he rolls in it he will smell wonderful.

Kinda like being a mom, huh? All kids require similar basic care-- love, food, clothing, medical attention-- but each one requires us to know how they will best thrive. It’s our jobs to learn what best motivates them. What best steers them to succeed. Where they will bloom the best and how to get them there. Same skill set as gardening but much more bountiful harvest.

My name is Susan and my True Activity is gardening.

Friday, April 24, 2009

A note from The Box To The Left

No one reading this knows how much watching that box of followers on this page is thrilling me. I really didn't think anyone would read this at all, so seeing 20 faces in that Box To The Left really does motivate me. Someone is reading and listening. WOW! I can go a full day in my real life, with my children and husband and wonder-- is anyone listening? Hello? Is this thing on? But seeing you 20... it is the visual equivalent of pinching myself. Without the pain ,of course.

So, I got this note today from one of you:

"updated your sahm i am blog? just sayin'. the fridge has been there for about uploading some pics of all these outdoor projects you been into?(this is your conscience speaking)"

Dear Conscience-

Thank you for your recent inquiry into my blog. While it is true that I did commit to one a week, I may also point out that I did indeed write a potentially award winning entry just the other day, that got totally deleted when I hit " PUBLISH POST". I have yet to recover.

The subject of my never to be retrieved prose was my near obsession levels of gardening. This activity is taking up all my time and most of my brain power. I end the day sweaty and dirty .. and not in the naughty lingerie way. Noah, my gardening companion, has been trapped inside all winter. He is a bit like a Catholic Schoolgirl when she gets to put on real clothes and go out without Daddy watching-- pretty wild. I have had to retrain him as to his boundaries and accepted activities while outside. And that the right answer to " in or out" is not " BOTH!" That when I say " we are going outside, go to the bathroom". DO IT! Do NOT wait until I am up to my elbows in mud to dash inside and scream " I POOOOOPPPPPPEED!" at the top of your lungs.

On a side note, I see that the upcoming weather forecast is for rain and we both know how prolific a blogger I can be on a nice rainy day. Or several. April showers bring blooming blogs.

If you don't mind, I will sign off for now. I have 30 minutes to clean 3 bathrooms, it is Friday after all. I also have to get cupcakes into the oven for the Girl Scout Bake sale tomorrow. We have been baking cookies all week, a wonderful Mother/Daughter activity. However,somehow when we went to fill the containers for the sale, the quantity was a bit suspicious. (That was a valuable lesson that the freezer is not a good cookie hiding spot. ) So we have to bake a dozen cupcakes to do our part ( yes, " our" scouting, it's a family affair) . I'm quite unsure as to how this will be accomplished as we have no eggs. I have not had time to go to the grocery store either.

Perhaps my gardening has gone over the edge into FULL OBSESSION LAND. I hope they have snowglobes in the souvenir shop there.

Thank you for your concern.



Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Portal to my psyche

No offense intended to Britney Spears ( this time)... but there are, indeed, two types of people in this world. But from where I sit, it's not Performers and Observers--but, instead, Fridge Decorators and Non- Fridge Decorators. I have developed this theory based on years of kitchen table visits. Um, yeah. that is my only research tool. I'm not claiming science here--- but I've noticed a few things:

Fridge Decorators generally are a creative lot. Fun to be around, they often tend to be spontaneous and can roll with the punches. They have a hard time staying on task as they often bear off course and are easily distracted,but, eventually, the job is gets done. Usually by skidding to the finish line with pit stains and a soiled Mickey Mouse T-shirt.They will easily admit to their flaws but usually make a joke about it as they do.

The FD is a good cook. They are not great bakers. Baking is a science, after all and cooking is an art. When you ask a Fridge Decorator for a recipe they fake the amounts because they don't usually measure. It is very hard to duplicate the recipes of a Fridge Decorator. If they have recipes it is for inspiration and are torn out of some print media and shoved into a binder. Maybe.

When it comes to clothing choices, the FD will wear the beaded necklace the 5 yr old brings home. Their wardrobe leans toward comfy over stylish. Familiar over avant guard. As a matter of fact, the Fridge Decorator will wear a kid beaded necklace over a current style top to make the outfit more fun. Fun over fashion.

The Non Fridge Decorator is tidy and orderly. They can act spontaneously, it is after all, a survival mechanism of a Mom-- but prefer to go according the the schedule. They are very task oriented and are great at making - and completing- lists. Their lives are very full and a sense of order keeps it all flowing. They have a successful She Who Must Be Obeyed aura.

A NFD is a great baker. They can whip up some very impressive and perfect tortes. They actually know what a torte is. If they are cooking inclined ( as some NFD's prefer to not cook if at all possible) they are very skilled and possess an impressive cookbook and recipe collection. They always measure and the finished dish is pretty to look at. At some point they serve a dish on fire.. not because they forgot it was in the oven, but because it's cool. Very cool.

The NFD usually has a nifty wardrobe. She coordinates and actually knows the names of designers. She can tell you in detail where and how much she paid for an entire outfit. She sees and embraces the benefit of having more than two pairs of boots. She loves the beaded necklace the 5 yr old brings home, shows it off and may wear it... if it coordinates with her outfit.

Just like the Working Outside vs Inside the Home Mom discussion--- both styles are equally perfect. Both are equally imperfect. One works with the strengths of the mom involved. When a Non Fridged Decorator sees a Fridge Decorators Fridge she thinks " How colorful! I should put more than our family schedule on our fridge...but I would tidy up all the stuff up a bit..."

When a Fridge Decorator spots the sparkly clean non decorated refrigerator she thinks " Wow, I should clean up my fridge... that looks so nice.. hey, what would make it look better is a flamingo magnet..."

Whatever the style, both should accept it and embrace that they know who they are, and it works in their lives. Just like us Mamas should.
( Thanks to Kate.. .got an idea from her M2M blog)

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Mr Adventure

All of us moms have one kid who is adventurous. This child is brave, inquisitive and very bright. They are also the offspring who allow us to get all the holes punched in our Frequent Customer card-- at the ER. OK, don't ask, there isn't such an item but wouldn't it be cool if there was? Twelve visits and the 13th IV is free? Or 20 visits and get a free tube of skin adhesive?

Meet Noah. My Adventure Child. He is four. He loves to run and jump and manipulate small objects. In the past year alone he has had two ER visits and one almost visit. If he was not my 3rd child there would have been more, but his mom has learned a few first aid maneuvers.

He is the child who discovered that a pencil eraser could be popped off a pencil and shoved up his left nostril. He realized it was a perfect fit. On a Sunday night. After I was in my jammies. He said he was bored as we drove to the first ER. Yes, the first. It was technically Urgent Care and they were unable to sedate him. He had gotten it too far up his nose. So I got to drive to scary downtown Big City at night, wait in the Scary Big City Children's Hospital ER for 2 hrs before getting into an exam room. 30 more minutes until we were seen by a doctor. 20 minutes after that while waiting for the anesthesiologist Noah sneezed, and out popped the eraser.

My very first thought was to shove it back up his nose. Waiting all that time with an active 3 yr old who was mesmerized by the new nasal quality of his voice makes the word " sedation" sound like " day spa visit."

My second thought was to grab my kids chart and run. Why should I pay for treatment that was not performed? But alas, I am an honest sort who likes to write copay checks. Ok, the second part is a lie.

Noah's second ER visit was on Daddy's watch. Daddy does not handle blood very well. Noah ran, misjudged the distance of a a toy on the driveway and took a header. Big slice, right over his eye. LOTS of blood. I had just traversed our town during a festival, dodging beer tent visitors - to get my daughter to her first Jr youth event.I was 20 minutes away and relieved that I got to my destination without running down anyone.

Did I mention that Daddy doesn't handle blood well? We have those nifty walkie talkie cell phones. Great for quick questions. Excellent for free convos from out of state. Not so cool when others are listening to rantings of a hysterical Dad.

Just as I arrived with all the other Jr high parents and youth to the designated Jr youth festivating spot-- he beeped me.

" SUSAN!!"
" Yes!?" (smile smile smile) " I'm in a room full of parents" (smile smile- grab bag - run for the door)
" I don't care where you are!!! Noah is bleeding!!! You have to take him to the ER"

It was only in retrospect that I learned what he said. It actually came out " MMUuummbbblee Muuummmlle bleeding... muuummmble ER"

" What?" I beeped back

" Get your..!!!!!" Out of respect for Brian, I will not print what he actually said because he was in shock. As were all the church youth group parents and youth within earshot. This is when we got the the "Christians aren't perfect, just forgiven" bumper sticker,and coordinating t-shirt. And matching tattoo.

Noah had a gash above his eye that required skin adhesive and another ER co-pay. He was able to tell many people that he " tripped over an elephant"- a line he never tired of repeating. He also ended up with a neat wound washing squirt-er thing he now uses as a bath toy and a nifty scar.

This brings us to today's medical urgency. Noah was bored and decided to stick his finger in a whiffle ball. And it got stuck. He brought it to me very calmly and I thought it was just a matter of soap and cold water and it would pop right off. But Noah was very thorough. That finger was jammed in there tight. I didn't start to question the ER visit until I had tried soap, cold water, Windex, oil, and sticking his hand in a cup full of frozen peas. I did manage to cut part of the ball off with wire cutters, and got a slice within 1/4inch of his finger. Then I must have pinched him because the screaming started.

Maybe this was a job for someone smarter than me. Fortunately that describes most of the people that I know. One is training to be a nurse. And has 8 kids. Certainly she had some experience in whiffle ball removal.I called her first. No answer.

Then I did as any good mom would do and put it on my facebook status. While waiting for answers ,I called up my neighbor/friend who I knew was home. Between her and the moms on my friends list a whole list of options popped up in minutes. The one who offered up some KY Yours and mine shall remain nameless. But I'm sure Noah would have enjoyed the tingle.

None of them worked. Neighbor /friend also offered up a margarita so that seemed like as good a place to start as any. Noah and I climbed into the Mystery Machine and headed to her house. She tried to distract him while I worked a file and wire cutters on the finger. No luck.

In all the excitement, Noah realized he had to go potty.I'm not sure if it was pee that got on his finger, or the cold weather outside, or the ice pack I had made him hold had shrunk his finger..but when I helped him wash his hands I just slid it right off. Gee soap and cold water. Why didn't I think of that the first time?

As I type I see him playing with a pair of tweezers and know that another ER visit is in my future. Not today, but soon. It is inevitable. I accept that.

I also sit in awe once again of the speed at which a mom in need can get assistance from her Chain of Moms. Of course it wasn't life threatening, or disastrous, but I know in my heart that if it were those same women, and more, would have come through for me. With whatever I need. Even if it is KY Yours and Mine.