Saturday, March 30, 2013

Gardening For Dummies. Where We Talk About What NOT To Do.

We are once again, trying to have a small summer garden. Last year went pretty okay - we had several varieties of tomatoes, yard long green beans (yes, that is a thing), and peppers that were too hot to eat. Despite my best efforts to kill everything, a large portion of it survived and came to fruition.

I made several mistakes with this garden though, so it is only by sheer dumb luck that we got anything at all. It is both a blessing and a curse to be "goal oriented" rather than "process oriented". I will leave it to you to decide which one of these things you think I might be.

Firstly, I added fertilizer to the already fertilized soil we bought, apparently subscribing to the "if a little is good, a lot must be better" school of thought. This resulted in yellow plants about three days after putting them in. With lots of theatrical cursing and sighing, we pulled everything out, dug out the bulk of the dirt, added straight topsoil, mixed it up again, and crossed our fingers. Miraculously, the little seedlings managed to survive, returned back to their lovely shades of green and started growing again.

Undaunted by my first error in judgement, my next trick was to try to use organic methods to control pests. Noticing some bugs on my now well established and thriving plants, I took to the ol innerweb to find some good home remedies in order to avoid using pesticide. One of the first things I ran across was to use liquid soap and water as a spray repellent. I can do that, I thought to myself, of course not taking the time to read the entire data set. Grabbing the Dawn dish detergent from the kitchen, I mixed up my concoction and proceed to drown all the plants in the mixture. Walked away from this feeling quite smug. Two days later, the plants looked like someone had been hovering nearby with a blow torch. Apparently dish detergent, while indeed liquid, is definitely not the same thing as liquid soap.

This misstep required a fair amount of dedication to rectify. But at this point I was invested, dammit. And my obstinate natured self wasn't going down without a fight. It took about three weeks of serious babying, but once again, the unlucky plants that we brought to our house managed to survive. We picked off the dying leaves, but not too many at once, we added mulch to help them fight the hot South Carolina sun, we I even considered doing some sort of ancient earth goddess dance. Fortunately, nature turned out to be more resilient than I am destructive, so they made it. 

I did learn some stuff throughout all of this. One, the yellow pear tomato may very well be the most delicious food in the world. Two, be sure to plant enough of the same plant so that you have yields that can feed more than just one person, especially if you are a family of four. Three, do not plant purple jalapenos unless you like insanely hot food. (they are a gorgeous plant though - all red and green and purple) Four, don't be a dumbass like me and get all cray-cray with the chemicals. Do some real research or ask someone who actually has had a successful garden.  Five, everyone should try the yard long pole beans. Delicious, prolific growers that are basically idiot proof, which is why they not only survived but thrived whilst climbing our humble chain link fence.

Anyway, we begin again today. Here is where we have gotten so far:
I think the wrecked plane in the background is a fair indicator, don't you?
Stay tuned. :-)

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Monday, March 25, 2013

5 Things I'd Like to Never Hear Again

Banning words, like banning books, has a distinctly Big Brother kind of feel. However, the world may very well become a more harmonious place if we could agree to never touch on the following talking points again. Put a fork in them, they are done.

I present to you a list of words and phrases I would personally like to never, ever hear again.

"Mommy Wars"
Listen, one of the best pieces of advice I got upon becoming a parent went like this: "Don't start none, won't be none." No, no, that's not right. It was Will Smith who said that in a movie, I think. The good advice actually went like this: "If you don't make it a thing, it won't be a thing." Basically, if you don't make a huge deal of every little boo boo, or lose your mind when baby bites you, typically the intrigue of repeating said behavior will diminish. Hopefully. This is not a fail-proof plan obviously, but it does have a large amount of merit.

Similarly, someone needs to tell everyone and anyone to STOP IT with this whole "Mommy Wars" thing (originally referring to the stay-at-home vs. working-mom sets, and has evolved to included a whole array of parenting choices). Stirring the pot does nothing to help. If people would quit pointing out the so-called Mommy Wars and writing about the Mommy Wars and inflaming the Mommy Wars then maybe, just maybe, the Mommy Wars would at least reach some kind of detente, if not cease to exist entirely.

Because here's the thing: as long as your kid is mostly healthy, mostly happy, and mostly well taken care of, I'm not going to worry about what you are doing. Breast, bottle, work outside the home, work from home, work in the home, helicopter, free range, etc. This whole country needs a big dose of Mind Your Own Business, and I think women would do themselves a serious favor to knock off the nitpicking of each other. How about we do our personal best and leave our noses where it belongs—on our own faces and not in our neighbors' houses.

"Super Mom"
Y'all, super mom is super tired. There are indeed those among us who are capable of having a fabulous career making loads of money, keeping a spotless house, shuttling children around to various activities, parenting perfectly 'round the clock without losing their tempers, enjoying wine night with our girlfriends, keeping a hard-core workout regimen, and also have regular dates/smoking hot sex with our significant others. These people may also very well be heavily medicated. Or not. They may actually just be that bad ass.

Personally, I am not. I am good at doing one or two, maybe three, things well at a time. My main focus over the last decade has been my family, so I'm a little—no, a lot—behind in the career department. And while I did indeed achieve laundry end game last weekend, now it is stacked up all over my bedroom. And I fell asleep in my son's bed last night at 8:45, so you can do the math on the smoking sexy time department. The point is, by holding up these Super Mom examples of how it should be, it makes a lot of us feel like Loser Mom, even when we are doing the best we can and would take a bullet for our loved ones any day of the week and twice on Sundays. I'd like to go back to just being Mom, if that's all the same to everyone.

"Having it All"
I'm not sure it is truly possible to have all of anything. You can be the wealthiest person in the whole world, but you do not have ALL the money. I hoard chocolate at my desk, but I don't have all of it. Working on that...shhh. And maybe the Super Moms from above do have it all, but I have to think that there is a price paid somewhere, which means that you do not truly have it all, because you paid some of it away.

Which brings me to another good piece of advice I got a long time ago: you can have anything you want, as long as you are willing to pay for it. One way or another, life will extract a price somehow, somewhere, for the choices we make. This is just how it is. This whole "having it all" thing was a great idea in theory, when women were fighting their way out of the kitchen and into the workplace. Then we GOT it all and some of us are now completely crazy because we are pulled in 10,000 directions at a time. I may be speaking for myself, but I don't want it all. I just want some of it. All is a lot, and for some us, also kinda unattainable. So can we not do that anymore? It's wearing me out.

"Real" Women
Unless my high school biology lessons have let me down, the last time I checked, anyone with two X chromosomes qualifies as a real woman. Some people with a Y chromosome may also, but that is a different blog post entirely, so we are just gonna stick with the traditional female for now. Real women have curves, right? Well, at my current size 10, I have a little bit of curves. But I've also been a size four hard body from playing three different sports and riding horses. Am I any less a real woman when I'm skinny? I don't think so.

This whole categorizing of women being "real" or not is just stupid. People, women included, come in so many different shapes, sizes, colors, skin tones, hair colors, etc., and we spend so much time teaching our kids how "everyone is different" and "you are special" and "variety is the spice of life" and so forth, so why do we want to narrow down the definition of a woman? I realize that the real woman thing is in large part a backlash to certain ideals that have caused a fair amount of damage to the at large perception of women. But again, I don't like broad definitions of people, so I'm just going to aim for having a healthy respect for the body I have and trying to take care of it better so that it will take care of me. I'm a real woman, no matter what size or shape I am.

"Oh, I Could Never..."
Saving my personal favorite for last... This one makes my blood actually, literally boil. The reason I know this is because there is real steam coming from my ears when this one gets used on me. "Oh, I could NEVER leave Johnny at day care." "Oh, I could NEVER bottle feed." "Oh, I could NEVER travel for work while my kids are at home." Et cetera. Ad nauseam. The reason this one chaps my ass so badly is because the implied judgment is astonishing.

Here's the deal. Yes, you could EVER if you had to. You could EVER if you chose to, for whatever reason. You could EVER if it is the decision that works best for you and your loved ones. This one doesn't just apply to parenting and motherhood, by the way. It works in so many areas of life. Think about it: If you say it, please don't do that anymore. It makes the recipient feel like crap and also want to knock your lights out. The first time someone dropped that gem on me, I was 10 weeks post partum with a broken leg/ankle and dreading leaving my baby at daycare. While I wished I had had the wherewithal to come back with some withering reply, all I did was cry for three days, because I didn't already feel bad enough. So, thanks for that, friend.

I don't need to point out the big picture here, but as a self-proclaimed word nerd, I feel compelled to write some kind of conclusion. So here it goes: how about we all mind our own business unless there is a critical reason to butt in, try not to judge others for having a difference of opinion, appearance, life, career, choices, etc and be nice to each other. The end.

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