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!

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Feel Good Friday: Cherishing The Last of My Twenties.

I’m 29 today. Every year since I can remember, I look forward to Christmas in December, and after it’s over, I have my birthday to look forward to. The New Year just slips on by, because the start of my “new year” begins just a few days later. As for celebrating my birthday, I keep it casual with a favorite meal for supper and dessert and maybe a movie or a good book and a glass of wine. I keep it simple, because I’ve learned that those are the moments when I am happiest. That being said, I do still get excited, a bit giddy even, over my birthday. It’s turning the page to the next chapter of my life, and that’s something worth celebrating, no matter how old I get. Each year is to be cherished, and while I fail at cherishing every single moment, I cherish the ones that matter most. When I look back at my 28th year of life, my first year of blogging, I notice how my stats dipped when I needed to pull out of the blogging world and spend more time cherishing those very moments.

They dipped back in April, when I developed gestational diabetes. I spent the extra time nourishing my body, taking care to track what I ate and when and how much and to check my blood sugar afterwards. Our after-supper walks as a family were some of my favorite moments that month, because my husband and son knew it was what I needed to stay healthy, and they willingly jumped on board.

My stats stayed low for the following month of May, when my sweet baby boy was born. By far, this was the biggest blessing of my year. He came unexpectedly, just as I had hoped for (I did not want to be induced, like I was with my first pregnancy!), and he was a beautiful, perfect little boy. He looked just like his older brother. He snuggled and nursed and bonded with me immediately. He made us parents all over again, and he made our oldest son a brother.

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All of the images above were taken by the lovely Heather Hoch!

There was a final dip in August, when I cherished the last few days of my son’s summer at home with me before he started Kindergarten. He is so smart and talented in so many ways.

With the exception of those months, my blogging stats have been on a steady upward trend. My blog is growing and changing with every post I write, and although I started Close Families with a general idea of what I wanted it to be, it was the readers, the followers, the comments, the feedback… all of that has helped to shape Close Families (and the writer inside of me) into what it is today, almost a year later. I want to thank you all for your kindness, your support, your friendship. It means so much to share the bits and pieces of our separate lives that are joined by one common thread: family. And not just any family, but a family that wants to be close and connected. To have a lasting, enduring bond that is strong enough to face the harsh realities of the world. I’m still learning what that means and how to achieve it, and I hope you will continue to follow our journey.

One last thing: when I started this blog and gave it a name, I was a little over halfway through my pregnancy with our baby boy. Five months away from him being diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. It wasn’t until months after that diagnosis that I made the ironic connection: Close Families… CF… Cystic Fibrosis… CF. Strange, huh? It’s a weird coincidence… or possibly a whisper of a bigger picture at hand.

Cheers to all of you for giving me a wonderful first year of blogging. I couldn’t be more excited about what my 29th year of life has in store.

Thank you, friends!


Feel Good Friday: I’m Proud of You

There is something very powerful, very moving in those four words: “I’m proud of you.” It means so much to hear those words come from someone whom you look up to, admire, love, and respect. And sometimes, you don’t have to hear those exact words, but simply a message that implies as much. Like the e-mail that I saved from my mom, after she read my blog for the first time:

LOVE your blog.  Oh my goodness you are such a good writer.  It is amazing.

You couldn’t have slapped the smile off of my face when I read this. My mom is proud of me.

I will admit that I can be a bit of a people-pleaser. But besides my husband, no one’s opinion means more to me than the opinion of my parents. They shaped me into who I am today. They did everything they could to ensure that I would become a kind, responsible, talented human being, and it feels so nice to hear that I didn’t let them down. That they were successful. That I am successful.

And yet, we shouldn’t live our lives to please others, and we shouldn’t make decisions based on what others might think. We should live our lives the way we see best, to use our God-given talents, to help others, to be the kind of person that we want to be. It’s just the cherry on top of the sundae when it happens to meet the approval of others. It’s that last bit of sweetness that we can savor at the end. It feels good.

I love telling my son that I’m proud of him, but I don’t say those words to him very often. I don’t tell him that I’m proud of him when he beats a new level at a Wii game. Or when he gets a star on a paper at school. Or when he makes a new friend. Or feeds the dog without being reminded. Or throws a football farther than he’s ever thrown. Or reads a whole chapter in a book by himself. I’m proud of all of those little things, absolutely, but I don’t want him to think that I’m only proud of his achievements. I want him to learn that I’m proud of who he is. Perhaps that’s why when he read this birthday card last week, he broke down into tears. (And so did I.)

After he read the birthday card out loud, he embraced me a big, long hug, crying quietly into my shoulder. It brought tears to my eyes immediately.

“What’s with the tears?” I asked him gently.

He squeezed me tighter.

“Are they happy tears or sad tears?”

He sniffled, burying his eyes into the dip of my collarbone.

I leaned back far enough to look into his eyes, and I asked, “Does it feel good to know that Mommy and Daddy are proud of you?”

He nodded and replied with a very quiet, “Yes.” And we hugged each other again.

I tell my son that I love him everyday. I tell my son “good job!” or “that’s great!” or “good thinking!” or “I like that idea!” all the time.

But there just seems to be something so powerful in the words, “I’m proud of you.”

 


Feel Good Friday: BFFs, Catching Up, and Baby Boy

I’m so happy that it is Friday! My big boy was not wanting to go to school this morning, because his “BFF” was not at school yesterday, and school isn’t as fun without his BFF. But he went off to school anyway, and I even got an “I love you” and a smile before he closed the car door, so I feel good about that.

I was also able to catch up quite a bit on my big boy’s scrapbook this week. I’m slowly but surely making my way through the enormous stack of photos that I have stockpiled over the years, and that feels so good!

Progress!

It also feels good that today, my baby boy is four months old, and he is just as happy and healthy as he can possibly be. We are crossing our fingers for positive reassurance and affirmation coming up at his CF clinic appointment on Monday, so please say a prayer for the little guy this weekend if you think of it!

Happy little fella.

I also received some wonderful news last night that my sister and her boyfriend are expecting a baby boy in February! I’m so thrilled that my baby boy and my first nephew will be only nine months apart in age. I’m sure they will be great little cousins and friends. And that feels so good.

Have a happy weekend! 🙂

What do you feel good about today?


Feel Good Friday-From the Kitchen

I’ve been in the kitchen almost all day. When I haven’t been out running errands or taking care of my sweet baby boy, I’ve been cooking up a bubbling batch of cinnamon applesauce in the crockpot…

…and baking homemade “Twix” bars in the oven.

My house smells super sweet for my sweet boys, and that makes me feel good.

 

Hope everyone has a wonderful Labor Day weekend and enjoy some good eats of your own!

 

**If you would like to see where I come up with these delicious concoctions, you can follow me on Pinterest. I don’t do much recipe-making on my own, but I love finding new ones to try! 😉 **

 


Feel Good Friday

A few weeks ago, I was going through some post-partum depression. Some of it had to do with my son’s diagnosis, but I think the main culprit was those post-pregnancy and/or breast feeding hormone adjustment. To be honest, I didn’t even realize I was really feeling so down until I felt “up” again. It really wasn’t until my husband noticed I was feeling better and made a comment that he had been worried about me, that it really shed the light on how sad I had been feeling. In hind sight, I realized that I had been more reserved, less motivated, less silly… less the happy little wife and mother that I truly am. I’m still not sure what went sour, nor when or how it went away. But now that I have recognized that sort of mood as a mild depression (in my unprofessional opinion), I can also recognize when I start to feel that way again and do something about it.

I’m unsure whether it’s the gloomy weather today, the trying attitude of my five-year-old (imagine eye-rolling, mocking, back-talking… we’ve had a few privileges taken away and several timeouts recently!), or just the ups and downs of being a mom of an infant with a chronic illness, but I am feeling a little bit funky again. I believe in positive energy and that an optimistic attitude can cure any mood. And to add an extra oomph of happy in my day, I want to share with you a couple of songs to which I simply can not feel bad while listening. I also can’t help but to sing and dance! If something has you down today, please join me on this “Feel Good Friday” by watching these YouTube videos! If something has you down, just don’t let it keep you down for long. Have a great weekend!

 

What are some things that help you to feel good when you’re down?