Cultivating a Green Thumb

Happy Feel Good Friday, y’all!

This gorgeous spring weather is bringing me out of the funk that I was in. I’ve learned since my last post (with the help of your comments, thank you!) that even if I seem to be going no where right now, I’m making small steps in many directions. I’m planting the seeds in many areas of my life, and sometimes I just need some patience to allow them to grow and bloom.

Speaking of seeds and growing, we have started growing our vegetable garden this week! Yes, it’s adding one more thing to my sometimes overflowing plate of commitments, but it’s another step in the direction of healthy living for my family, so it is worth it. Not only is growing a garden as a family fun, but it’s educational and gives us some quality bonding time. There are so many benefits in the process of growing a garden that the end result of being able to eat homegrown fruit and veggies is just a big bonus!

This is our second year of attempting to grow a full garden. Though I’ve grown tomatoes and flowers before, our first attempt at a vegetable garden as a family was last year. Although it started out well, May was hot and dry. When it came time to start transferring the three inch tall sprouts outside, we were supposed to leave the plants out during the day and bring them in at night. We had their spot in the yard tilled up and ready for them to be planted in the yard, once they had completed their transition period. However, one Monday morning we left them outside when went to work, but we didn’t come home until three days later! That was when my little one was unexpectedly born! By the time we came home from the hospital, the little green sprouts were dried up and brown. It was a huge bummer, but in hindsight, having to take care of a newborn and learn about the complex disease of cystic fibrosis that he was born with, it would have been stressful to take care of the plants on top of it all last summer anyway.

This year, we are excited to start fresh, and I want to share our gardening experience with you all. I have a feeling that many of you will give me many more helpful tips than I can give you, but that’s one of the best things about blogging for me is not what I can teach you, but what you can teach me. So if you see something we should or shouldn’t be doing along the way in my garden updates, please don’t skimp out on the advice! And if you’ve never grown a garden before, then we are technically in the same boat, and we can float along together!

Close Families Garden 2013: The Beginning
We began with a plan. We decided what we wanted to grow (what we like to eat), bought the supplies, and researched when and how to plant each type of plant. Some required starting them indoors eight weeks before planting them outdoors, some at six weeks, some at four weeks, and some directly outdoors. So I made a list of what and when to plant.

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Next we planted the first group of plants. My six-year-old helped a lot with this, and although getting the soil moist enough and using a pencil to make a little hole for each seed was time consuming and messy, we had fun! I let him use a spoon to dump the soil in, help pour the water on the soil, use a pencil to mix the soil with the water and make the hole, and then dropped two seeds in each section. Then we covered the seeds lightly with more soil and sprayed it thoroughly. This first group is broccoli, green peppers, onions, banana peppers, and jalapeño peppers. I used blue painter’s tape and permanent marker in front of each row so that I know which row has which type of plant.

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All that’s left to do after the planting (besides cleaning up a big mess!) is to keep the soil moist. We use a spray bottle of room temperature water to spray them lightly once or twice a day as needed. If they get too dry, the seeds won’t start growing so remember to water them!

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Just five days after planting, we have tiny little broccoli sprouts popping through the soil! Beautiful!

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I also sing and talk to the plants, which my husband thinks is strange, but he plays along anyway. God love him. 😉

After we plant the second group in another week, I will give you another garden update and hopefully we will have a lot more green things growing!

Happy Friday!


A Single Step

While I feel the time is near that a post with this title could be talking about my ten-month-old (can you believe it?) taking his first steps, this particular post is a little more self-centered than child-centered. We all deserve to take a good, long look at ourselves from time to time, and this post is the result of my own recent self-reflection.

We’ve all heard a phrase similar to this one:

Every journey begins with a single step.

While this is true, what I’ve found about myself is this. More often than not, I take a lot of single steps. I take a step into writing. I take a step into educational enrichments for my children. I take a step into healthy living. I take a step into more efficient home organization. And so forth. Here is an illustration, however poorly drawn, to show you where all of those single steps have taken me so far:

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I’m right smack dab where I began. It’s like trying to clean the house by washing a bathroom sink, folding a load of laundry, neatly stacking the books on the bookshelves, and taking out the kitchen trash. Sure you’ve accomplished some things, but the house still looks messy because the beds still aren’t made, the kitchen sink is full of dishes, and the stack of paperwork on the desk hasn’t been filed.

So while a journey starts with a single step, to really gain the benefits by reaching the end of that journey, your next step needs to be in the same direction as the first.

If you’re like me, and you have so many different interests in your life, it’s sometimes hard to get a clear picture of where you want your journey to take you. I often ask myself: which is most important? Maintaining a clean, organized home? Giving my children opportunities for learning? Volunteering my time to help find a cure for cystic fibrosis? Living a healthy lifestyle focused on exercise and a balanced diet? Finding a deep, spiritual connection with God? Writing a brilliant, insightful blog? 😉 And of course, I would never have started a blog about “Close Families” if creating memories of love and closeness with my husband and children wasn’t a top priority.

I still don’t have the clearest picture of where I want my journey to take me, but I know that all of the above have to be a part of it, eventually. I think the key to success–to finishing a journey–is to choose one direction, and stay focused. For instance, if I choose to focus on my relationships with my family, family time should come before anything else. I would read books and articles about building stronger parent-child or marriage relationships. We would schedule more family time. Take a vacation together. Play together. Eat together. And then, when we feel as if we’ve never been closer, that we’ve reached our goal of establishing those healthy, lasting bonds, then I could move on to the next journey. Only this time, I would have the benefit of a strong family unit to support me. The same goes for any path I chose. A deeper spiritual connection will help in all other aspects of my life. Establishing more organized home will free up more time for family and writing and volunteering.

Of course life will always throw us a few bumps and detours, no matter which direction we choose. But if I can just stay focused on where I’m placing every single step, I know that I can achieve any goal I have for my life. And then make room for more.

How do you stay focused?


A Liebster Award Nomination!

I’ve been given the widely coveted (okay, truthfully I’d never heard of it before, but I’m sure people want this) Liebster Award nomination by the funny mom blogger Cristyl at CHill Thoughts. I’m so honored, and even more grateful that it introduced me to not only Cristyl and her blog, but the others that she nominated as well! Be sure to check out CHill Thoughts for more from Cristyl!

On to the award nomination details:

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11 Randoms:

  1. I crave sweets so often that every tooth in my mouth must be a sweet one. It’s my biggest struggle when it comes to trying to maintain a healthy diet.
  2. Dancing is my favorite form of exercise. I used to still like to watch myself dance in a mirror or window reflection… It needs to look good to be beneficial, right??
  3. My favorite shape is a heart, even though it always makes me think, “Why is it called a ‘heart’ when a real, blood-pumping heart is not shaped the same as the shape?”
  4. I spend way too much time on social media websites. Anyone know of a ten-step program for that?
  5. I often (as in daily) come up with AWESOME ideas… that rarely are put into action.
  6. My favorite TV show is Project Runway. This season, my favorite designer is Patricia, even though she seems a bit difficult to work with.
  7. I’m currently reading four different books: The Bible. More Build It Big (a direct-sales self-help book). Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. And I just started Hunger Games. I like to read my Bible first thing in the morning, and the others I rotate and read during my little CFer’s breathing treatments times or when my husband is watching something on the History channel.
  8. I met my husband in a bowling alley. It’s really not a glamorous beginning to our story, but I love the middle is going. 🙂
  9. My favorite superhero is Iron Man (the fact that he’s played by Robert Downey Jr probably has something to do with that.)
  10. I am one of those people who can find the good in just about every situation, and I like to think about other people’s point of view when it comes to a disagreement. Sometimes people feel like that means I’m not taking their side. I guess I tend to take everyone’s side.
  11. My favorite thing to do with my children is color in coloring books. I’m not great at drawing, but I love making things colorful (maybe that’s why I chose to sell makeup for a living??).

Answers to the 11 Questions from Cristyl:

  1. What is your favorite color? Any particular reason why? Green. I think because of my Irish heritage and the fact that it’s a good color for redheads.
  2. If you had to name a defining moment in your life, what would it be? Sounds cheesy, but when I became a mom. I was young, and it was unplanned and changed my life so much for the better.
  3. If you could choose a super-hero power, what would you pick? Why? Even though Aquaman gets a bad rap for having a weak superpower, I always wanted to be a mermaid when I was little and be able to swim in the ocean just like the dolphins. I’d still love that!
  4. What is your favorite book? For someone who has a B.A. in English and reads up to four books at any given time, this is an extremely difficult question to answer. However, I can definitely say that my favorite modern series is Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series, and Mark Twain is my favorite classic American author.
  5. Do you have a hobby/hobbies? What is it? Blogging, reading, scrap-booking.
  6. What’s the farthest from home you’ve ever travelled? Las Vegas, NV or the Grand Canyon, whichever is further west!
  7. What’s the most important thing to you on your bucket list? To be a published author.
  8. Could you live as a vegetarian? Vegetarians and vegans: Would you ever choose to eat meat? Why? I probably could be a vegetarian. The only meat I would truly miss is chicken. I don’t think I could ever do vegan though.
  9. What’s your favorite website? This is another hard question! There are so many websites that I love! One new website that I enjoy is called Happify, where you do activities and games that are supposed to help promote happiness. It’s fun and interesting.
  10. Are you right or left handed? If you could change, would you? I’m a righty, and I don’t see any reason to change.
  11. If you could pick your own name, what would it be? OR, what is your nickname? I was named after Laura Ingalls Wilder, and it just so happens that I looked a lot like Melissa Gilbert who played Laura in The Little House on the Prarie TV show when I was little (and some say I look like her now, although I don’t see that as much), so I really don’t think I would change my name. My nickname from my hubby is “Red.”

And my nominees are….

  1. Be An Acorn
  2. Making Changes for Me
  3. The Voice from the Backseat
  4. Restraint Unfettered (I believe Emma also nominated me for an award some time ago, but I never got around to posting about it! Thank you, Emma!) 🙂
  5. Home Is What You Make It
  6. Bella’s Blog
  7. My First Blog 2013
  8. Keep It Neat
  9. This Is Eli
  10. The Diary of a CF Grizzly Mama
  11. Many Hats of a Mom

(I apologize in advance if some of you have more than 200 followers. For some, the total was not listed!)

11 Questions for New Nominees:

  1. What is your favorite city?
  2. What is your favorite workout/exercise?
  3. What is your favorite family activity?
  4. How would you spend $1,000,000?
  5. What current goal are you working on?
  6. Pinterest: Time-waster or Life-saver?
  7. What is your favorite book?
  8. Name one thing you’re proud of.
  9. What kind of music do you enjoy?
  10. On average, how much sleep do you get each day?
  11. What is one thing you’re going to miss about winter (or whichever season you’re currently in)?

Thanks again to Cristyl for nominating me, and for all of my nominees who want to participate! And to my readers who had nothing to do with this post, but who stuck it out to the end anyway. 😉


Spiritual Sunday: Building a Strong Foundation

If you’re a Christian, you’re likely to be familiar with this scripture:

I will show you what it’s like when someone comes to me, listens to my teaching, and then follows it. It is like a person building a house who digs deep and lays the foundation on solid rock. When the floodwaters rise and break against that house, it stands firm because it is well built. But anyone who hears and doesn’t obey is like a person who builds a house without a foundation. When the floods sweep down against that house, it will collapse into a heap of ruins. -Luke 6:47-49

For a long time, I was the latter of these two types of people. Though I had heard of God’s will, I still chose to build my life based on one idea of this world or another. Sometimes I built my house based on an intimate relationship, putting my significant other at the center of my world. Or maybe I built it around my friends, focusing on being the kind of person I thought would fit in with others. Other times I’ve built it on personal desires: to get ahead financially, to live longer, and yes, to have a family.

And yet so many times, my house has collapsed to ruins. When we build up our house around our spouse or our children, for example, not only are we putting the weight of our world on their shoulders, but if something happens to them–sickness, death, divorce–what happens to our home? It shakes, cracks, and crumbles to pieces. Our hearts become homeless.

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of building and rebuilding my house, time and again, just to watch it fall to pieces. So several months ago, I started building my home on a solid foundation. This time, I’m building it around God and the one whom he sent to us, Jesus Christ. Through reading the Bible and prayer, I’m creating a stronger relationship with God on which I can build my home. For with God as my foundation, my home will never fall. Even if the world around me crumbles to ruin, my house will stand firm.

Keep in mind that Satan is the “floodwaters,” and that he won’t make it easy. But it will be worth it.

I hope that you will join in me in making your foundation deep and solid on God’s word.

Thanks for reading today.