I wish you all could sit where I'm sitting right now. You probably wouldn't be very impressed with the view—I'm not really all that impressed by the view. But I love the view. I love it because we ripped up half of our weedie, non-existent mess of a front yard, planted nearly a hundred tiny, tiny baby perennials, threw down thirteen truckloads of mulch to save the baby perennials from the onslaught of weeds sure to arrive, and now we have this:
Look at all those beautiful, baby plants! They were once sooooooo small. It has taken so much work to get them to where they are. Constant attention, watering, weeding, a wee-bit of fertilizing.
And the best part is, we've done it all together. The kids love to go outside with each other or with me or on their own to inspect each plant to see what's happened to it overnight. Every day something new blooms, and we are always terribly surprised, because our planting was so randomly done. We basically ordered a bunch of plants and stuck them the ground. We had no idea what to suspect, and that is suspense at its best.
I find I am constantly using garden analogies now. We keep talking about how hard, consistent, daily care produces a more and more beautiful plant. We talk about how weeding out the things we don't like about ourselves and our lives allows the true, beautiful us to shine through. We talk about how we can't do anything on our own. We can water our plants and give them the best soil we can find and we can fertilize, but we cannot do anything about the sun. The sun is a gift from God as are the bees and other bugs that fertilize our plants. We are never alone.
I was reading an article the other day about getting rid of stress in our lives. The article talked about the virtue of working outside. Unless you wear your headphones while gardening, there is little to distract you. You have yourself and your thoughts and the beating of your own heart. I love weeding with my kids. They chat and chat about this and that and we just hang out and we take each other seriously. This isn't true for us when we clean the house together. Okay, sometimes, but rarely. When we clean the house there is a lot of complaining and nagging and contention and rushing about and being in different rooms (and that's just me!). There is not a lot of bonding. Gardening, for us, is different.
Anyway, I can't recommend gardening enough. Bring light to your kids. Bring light to yourself. Try planting a garden! You will find everyone stepping outside to check on the results of their hard work, and there will be new surprises every day!
On a side note, our family has discovered two games we LOVE, and I had to share.
The Scrambled States of America Game
Inexpensive. Tons of fun. We love them—and they are semi-educational too.
And one more tangent. I am trying not to focus on the common core too much on this blog. The more I read about it, the more I am certain it is a bad thing for education and a bad thing for this country. Many parents in New York have even boycotted the end of grade tests this year, because of the manic attitude toward testing that has enveloped the country. That is something to think about. (read about that here: http://online.wsj.com/article/APb5789c1bb6184ee49df2544f5bd7cb9a.html )
And here is a wonderful article that sheds even more light onto the many problems with the common core and why every parent should do their best to at least educate themselves about what is invading our schools and the lives of our children: