Friday, May 15, 2009

Roses and Rutabagas

When in the garden while you're tending to a vegetable plant- watering it, inspecting its leaves for pests, making sure it's getting enough sun, and anticipating the day when you can bite into those vitamins-have you ever been irritated that the plant you are so carefully nurturing doesn't give more beauty to the world? Have you ever insisted that it become a rose and so missed the nourishment of the vegetable?

If it were your job to take care of a rose bush-to trim it, fertilize it, and make it productive-would you become impatient with its bold red blossoms and wish that they were serviceable, usable vegetables instead? Would you decide that the rose bush is useless, silly, and should become more practical? Would you try to force your flower into being a vegetable, and miss its beauty?

When starting the garden of your family, it's just the two of you together, with a plot of land, a couple of second hand garden tools, and a garden manual. You dream of a garden full of roses-wild and bright-eventually blooming large and decorating the world with their colors and fragrance. And then, your plants come up and instead of roses, you get rutabagas. Or, you get a daisy. Or up comes a rose, a rutabaga, and a mango! You didn't even know mangos grew in your area! No one in your family has ever even had a mango! How do you even take care of a mango? Do rutabagas even have a purpose? "This rutabaga got planted in the wrong garden!" You wonder why in the world you got a field full of crazy weird veggies, when all you ever wanted was a rose garden.

This all sounds pretty dumb, right?

I mean, every one knows that daisies aren't better than carrots. And carrots aren't better than daisies. But they're different. Daisies have a great purpose, and so do carrots. Trying to make my kids follow paths that aren't theirs is like trying to turn a rose into a rutabaga. Everyone is born with different purposes and talents. Getting annoyed by one of my kids for not being more into books is sort of like wishing an orchid into an orange. It's not gonna happen. And I shouldn't really be wishing it.

Was it Franz Joseph Haydn who was a terrible student? But his music! And John Nash (of Beautiful Mind fame) had a younger sister who had this to say about him:
"Johnny was always different. [My parents] knew he was different. And they knew he was bright. He always wanted to do things his way. Mother insisted I do things for him, that I include him in my friendships... but I wasn't too keen on showing off my somewhat odd brother." But he later received the Nobel Prize.

Having said all that, I still believe that there are some lessons and "fertilizers" that benefit all "plants". Love, discipline, kindness, honesty come to mind. Also, even a rose has to develop her intellect, even if it's obvious that her true talent is to give beauty to the world. You don't completely ignore mathematics, just because your child is gifted in language arts. Every good mother knows that even the best athletes should further their education as much as they can, even if they already make millions playing basketball.

I'm slowly learning to give up the control I felt entitled to when it comes to my kids. They've each come into the world with fantastic things to offer and weird/wonderful things that they're obsessed about. Even the rutabagas. It's my job to let them figure out what that is, make sure they don't ignore all the other disciplines, and then step aside. After all, I think that we can trust our kids to know what they love to do...and what they love to do is usually what they're great at!

Note: Comparing kids to different kinds of plants isn't my own idea. A long time ago a friend of mine told me about a paragraph she read in a book that compared kids to plants-some are flowers, and some are veggies. Unfortunately I never knew the name of the book or the author...but I've been thinking about the idea ever since. Sorry I don't have more info!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!

Jen, it's you! No, you didn't win a chicken dinner, but you can have your choice of two little gift boxes:

Choice #1: Home made lasagna, put together and ready to throw into your oven (or freezer, if you want to enjoy it at a later date), a jar of home made chicken noodle soup, home made wheat bread, and home made strawberry jam.

Or Choice #2: Two knitted dishcloths, a bottle of Mrs. Meyer's Cleaning Day Rhubarb all purpose cleanser concentrate, and an apron (probably not a home made apron, but cute none the less.)

Email me and we'll figure out a good time for me to drop whichever box of love you decide on! or you can call me if you want...

I wish everyone could have won! I'm glad you guys were interested. I'm gonna do another one of these next month, 'cause it was so fun!


Friday, May 08, 2009

Clarification on the Giveaway

I realize I was a little vague on the giveaway. It will be a random drawing of everyone who leaves a comment on the "Three Posts for the Price of One" post. The contest will close on Wednesday (May 13th) night at 10 pm Mountain Standard Time. The winner will be announced Thursday morning. Wow. That sounds really official. Good luck!

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Three Posts for the Price of One...

A (hopefully) helpful post, a giveaway post, and a recipe post. It's your lucky day.

Post Numero Uno:
Wondering what in the world to do with your kids this summer? So am I. I've found myself wondering how in the world I ever homeschooled. When faced with thoughts that they will be home all day, every day in the summer, my palms started to sweat. And then I remembered; "Oh, that's right, I love my kids." Also, I'm planning to borrow heavily on my homeschooling experience to keep things lively. Also also, I'm planning more of my weekly group fun activities for moms and kids. Last year, these activities were sparsely attended, but a couple of my friends assure me that "for sure, really, we will come this summer." So I'm going to do them again this summer. More on that in an upcoming post.
I thought I'd share with you a couple of my plans for summer with my kids. Nothing too ambitious, just enough to keep things from getting stale. After all, even cherry popsicles and Slip n' Slides lose their flavor after so many.
So I've noticed that the entire subject of history is practically missing at school for my kids. I'm sure I've mentioned this before but The Story of the World by Susan Wise Bauer is priceless. There is a link to this book on the right of my blog. Visit it!!! I really cannot recommend it highly enough. For all you non-homeschoolers: Seriously. Buy this book and the activity book that goes with it. Each week, on Monday, say, take 5-10 minutes and read a section from the main book out loud to your kids. Before you say "My kids won't sit still and listen to me read some history book", they will. Trust me!! They will. After you read the section, copy off the map page in the activity book and have your kids do the mapwork (it tells you exactly how to do this in the activity book). They will also love the mapwork. Oh yes. They will. On Wednesday, pick a couple of the suggested children's literature titles from your local library and read them out loud to your kids. On Friday, or whenever you want to, pick one of the activities from the book and do it. It will probably take an hour. Sometimes it's an art type thing, other times it's like an experiment, always, it's fun-and goes along with whatever the history subject is. Feel free to pick and choose the chapters you and your kids want to learn about. Play it fast and loose and apply no pressure. If your kids are like thousands across the U.S. they will be begging to do this stuff after the first one. And? They will have learned some history and geography along the way.

Keep their math skill fresh by playing any one of a number of math games on the market.

Pick a science subject and read about it and do experiments about it once every couple of weeks or so. This summer, we're doing plants. We're using the Usborne book on plants. It has experiments already in the book. These are easy, mom friendly experiments that are still cool enough to capture the imagination of your kids.

Keep your kids reading by letting them pick out books from the library. Ask them to tell you what the story is about.

My kids love to sell lemonade or Kool-aid. Suggest this activity to your kids and see what happens. Make sure you have a card table, a non-breakable pitcher, Kool-aid, and some plastic cups on hand before you say that!

Take some field trips! Oh wait. Don't. Come with us on some field trips!

Post number two:
I'm having a giveaway. If you've never won anything, don't worry, you will. I get so few commentors that you're bound to win! Just leave a comment and consider yourself entered. Whoever wins gets a home made parcel of domestic bliss! You will adore it, I promise.

Post three: A recipe that'll do double duty

I know it's not soup season. But I'm cooking this tonight and couldn't resist sharing the recipe, for it is oh-so-good. Make it the first night as soup. Serve it with whole wheat bread and salad and YUM! The second night...take your leftover bit of soup, then grab some frozen cheese ravioli from your grocer's freezer, unite them and let them make sweet love in your oven for 20-30 minutes or so at 350...add a little mozzarella or parmesan, and oh, honey!

Creamy Tomato Bisque from Martha Stewart...tweaked a little by me

2 Tbsp. Butter -----melt in soup pot.
1 medium onion sliced or chopped
3 cloves of garlic minced or pressed with your garlic press----add these last two ingredients to the butter and cook until transparent.
3 28 oz. cans whole tomatoes
5 1/4 c. chicken broth
Oregano, basil, rosemary to taste.
Sugar to taste (about a teaspoon, maybe?).----Add these last ingredients, squish up the tomatoes with a potato masher or something, and simmer for 45 min to an hour.
Now blend the whole mess in your blender, filling the blender no more than half full (ask me how I know this). You'll have to work in batches. You may think you're done now because it looks so good! But now, add about a cup of heavy cream just to push the whole thing up over the top. Love!